Monday, August 18, 2014

The Wounded Healer

She was excited to learn that the old house had its own library. As soon as she was able, she excused herself from the dinner table and climbed the wide stairs to the second floor. Following the passage, she opened the third door on the left and walked into the room. Ahead of her was the tall window through which abundant light flooded the room. To the left and to the right the walls were lined with bookcases from floor to ceiling, each shelf full of books of varying sizes; largest tomes on the bottom levels, getting gradually smaller towards the top. She would have plenty to keep her occupied for the next few weeks.

She began on her left, scanning the spines of the books. Half way up the bookcase, her eye was drawn to faded gold lettering that glistened in the late afternoon sunlight. She read the words, Chiron, The Wounded Healer. Something struck her about these words and she reached for the book instinctively and allowed it to fall open at no particular page. She began to read from the top of the first paragraph,

"Hercules roared and charged at the nearest group of centaurs who balking at the sight and sound of his formidable attack, turned and galloped towards the hills. He grunted and span around searching for the others only to see that they had also taken off in the opposite direction. Quickly, he took out his bow and let fly a series of arrows in all directions towards the groups of fleeing centaurs. All fell short of their targets except one. A low moan from behind him made him spin round. Lying on the ground, clutching his thigh was Chiron. What had he done? As the red rage left him and his senses returned, he realised with horror that he had wounded his beloved friend and teacher."

She paused and looked around her for somewhere to sit. The window seat looked comfortable so she walked over to install herself on its silk cushions. There she stayed reading the book until the red sky had turned black, flicking on the brass standard lamp so that she could read on into the night.

While she read she learned that Chiron had been wounded with an arrow tipped with blood of the Hydra, the many-headed beast. This would have meant certain death for a mortal but Chiron, as a son of the Titan, Chronos, was immortal and so did not die. However, tragically his wound would not heal and he was left to suffer in agony. He was finally released from his agony by Zeus, who allowed him to change places with Prometheus who in turn, having stolen fire, had been chained to a rock where a griffin ate his liver each day after it re-grew overnight. Zeus agreed that Prometheus could be released from his torture if an immortal would take his place in Tartarus which Chiron agreed to do so that he, too, could escape his own misery.

But this happened after much time had passed and, during this time as Chiron searched for a cure, his pain caused him to develop many different forms of healing, which he used with great success for the benefit of others but with no relief for his own torment. He became a master healer, a shaman, a wise man and was venerated by all who knew him. His wound became the source of his compassion for others' suffering, a visceral knowing of the pain endured by his patients, enabling him to refine his healing art to its highest octave.

She stopped reading. It was late now and the moon was high above her, shining directly in through the window. She switched off the lamp and sat gazing at the sky. She, too, had a wound that wouldn't heal. Although her wound wasn't physical, the pain in her chest was and it ached when she allowed herself to remember. At times it overwhelmed her and she feared she might sink under it's weight, so she tried not to think about it usually. But now was different. She was beginning to see the gift that it held for her. There's a reason for everything. Someone said that to her once but she didn't believe it until now.

Her thoughts moved to her mother whose health had deteriorated recently. She was afraid she might die. She had felt helpless when the doctor told her the prognosis. She had hated him when he told her there was nothing they could do. She knew it wasn't his fault but she couldn't believe him. She refused to believe him. Where there's life there's hope. Just another saying.

But now she did have hope, just a little voice but it was growing louder by the minute. Perhaps she held part of the answer to this problem. Many years ago she'd asked to be a healer. She had always been strongly drawn to the healing arts and studied and read books on the subject. She had taken courses and become qualified in some treatments. But during the course of making a living she had lost her belief in herself and her abilities. She had wanted so much to help her mother but she didn't believe she could. The voices of doubt descended upon her again. Don't be ridiculous! You're not a doctor, you are nobody! There's nothing you can do. 

But this time she recognised the source of the voices. They came from her fear, her fear of failure. Her fear of trying to help her mother but of failing, of not making a difference. And then she realised what she must do. She must use her wound to ground her in the moment. She would confront her pain not run from it for it was what made her alive in the world. It would anchor her to the Earth and as she channelled the healing energy through her hands, her mother would feel that she was truly loved, safe and cared for. She would dedicate herself to learning the secrets of the past; the secrets of the plants, the herbs and the minerals. If she was to remain the virgin, unfulfilled, she would not allow her incarnation as one of the female sex to be wasted. Instead she would transform herself into the lost archetype of the Crone. She would help to resurrect the ancient healing arts and focus on helping others. And when her wound wept she would use its tears to cure theirs.