The concept of the wounded healer is a very ancient one. It relates to the fact that many of the best healers have experienced suffering themselves and usually are unable to fix their own wounds even though they help and heal others all the time.
All people have some kind of wound in their life. It may be a childhood that was harsh, unloving or maybe even abusive. It may be a chronic health issue, a deep or sudden loss, the list goes on… In astrology the wounded healer within us all is represented by the planetoid Chiron.
In ancient mythology, Chiron was a centaur – half man, half horse. He was renowned as the greatest teacher and healer who had ever lived and many major figures from mythology studied with him, including Hercules. In the myth Chiron was immortal and could never die. Because of this he could only relate to his patients intellectually from his knowledge. However, after an accident with one of Hercules’ poisoned arrows, Chiron became ill and suffered very much. Because he was immortal he couldn’t be released from his suffering through death, he had to learn to live with it and try to grow from it.
The main thing that Chiron’s wounding taught him was the experience of suffering. He became an even greater healer because he knew what it was like to be ill, which increased his understanding and compassion. Although he was such a great healer he was still unable to make his own suffering go away because the poison was magical and beyond his powers. Often this is how it is for many of us – there is something within ourselves or our lives which can’t be healed totally, but we can learn to live with it and be taught many things and grow because of it.
In this way, our wounds can connect us with the experiences of other people, make us more compassionate, relate and understand others better because we have ‘been there’ too.
A manifestation of this is the ’12 Step’ programs and peer-based group therapy. A group of people with a similar wounding or problem come together and help each other through common experience and support. There are no experts, just fellow travellers who have each found a part of the way along the path to healing.
One of the greatest lessons for those in the caring and healing professions is to remember to take care of themselves. This can sometimes be quite a challenge. In some churches, trainee priests are lectured that taking care of themselves is a religious duty, so that they can be fit and ready for whatever their vocation demands of them. Healers are the same, so if you are a healer by profession, or you just find yourself dealing with all the problems of your family and friends – take note and take care of yourself!