Most of us know our sign of the zodiac, but what is the story behind the sign? Read on for the story of Libra…
Libra marks the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere. The scales of Libra represent this temporary state of balance in nature, and the closest equality of the hours of darkness and daylight.
Quality: Cardinal (it instigates)
Affirmation: I (seek to) Balance
Ruling planet: Venus
Body: Lower back, buttocks, kidneys
Colour: Indigo Blue
Flower: Rose, Hydrangea
Birthstones: Sapphire- September birthdays. Opal- October birthdays
Lucky Number: 6 (community, childhood)
Tarot card: Justice Minor Arcana cards: 2, 3, 4 Swords
Libra (which technically, though I don’t know anyone who actually pronounces it this way, is pronounced Ly-bra as in Library) is a small but distinct constellation next to the constellation Virgo in the evening sky.
It looks rather like a lopsided diamond and is visible in the northern hemisphere between April and July and is most visible directly overhead at midnight in June.
It is 29th in size of the 88 known constellations and is is bordered by the head of Serpens to the north, Virgo to the northwest, Hydra (the biggest constellation) to the southwest, Lupus to the south, Scorpius to the east and the serpent bearer, Ophiuchus to the northeast.
Libra, like Cancer, is fainter from Earth than other constellations, and contains no spectacular first magnitude stars, but it contains a very old galaxy cluster that is thought to be around 10 billion years old, the same age as The Milky Way, our own galaxy.
Libra also contains a red dwarf star, Gliese 581, which has three orbiting planets, one of which may possibly be suitable for life. This system is about 20 light years from Earth.
Libra though recognized as an asterism long before, was only formally classified as a constellation by the Romans, and used to be regarded, not as a constellation in its own right, but as part of the neighbouring constellations Scorpio and Virgo.
This legacy explains the names of its brightest stars; a binary star about 77 light years from Earth. α Librae. called Zubenelgenubi, in Arabic “the Southern Claw” in Arabic. The second-brightest star is β Librae, or Zubeneschamali, the Arabic for “The Northern Claw.”
Once upon a time, about three thousand years ago and until AD 730, the Sun used to move into the constellation of Libra at the time of the northern autumnal equinox (c. September 23) and stay there until about October 23.
This changed over time, owing to the wobble of the Earth, owing to an effect called the precession of the equinoxes. Since 2002, the Sun has actually appeared in the constellation of Libra from October 31 to November 22.
This does not affect the dates or the meaning of the zodiac sign of Libra which is based, not on the science of the astronomy in real time, but on an arithmetic model.
Mythology and History
Libra was known in Babylonian astronomy as MUL Zibanu (the “scales” or “balance”) with an alternative name, the Claws of the Scorpion. In ancient Greece too, Libra was seen as the Scorpion’s Claws.
The scales were sacred to the Babylonian sun god Shamash, who was the patron of truth and justice, so that since these very early times, Libra has been associated with law, fairness and civility.
Libra was first recognised as a constellation in its own right in ancient Rome, when it began to represent the scales held by Astraea, or Dike, who in Greek mythology was actually associated with Virgo. In ancient times, the stars of Libra, The Scales, were also intermingled with those of Scorpius by the Greeks, but were always considered as a separate group by the Romans.
According to the writer Manilius, whether this was factually correct or not, more Roman judges were born under the sign of Libra than under other zodiac signs.
Venus and Libra
Libra, like Taurus, is traditionally ruled by Venus, planet of love, beauty, friendship, diplomacy- and also wealth, because wealth provides beautiful luxuries.
Everything has its shadow side of course, and Venus can also mean over indulgence, undue materialism, or uncontrolled desires or obsession.
The Libra Archetype
The Archetype of Libra is The Judge.
All zodiac signs are archetypes, meaning something that is considered to be a perfect or typical example of a particular kind of person or thing,
The zodiac signs paint a ‘typical’ portrait of a person born at a particular time of year, in a particular season. A baby born in summer arrives into a different physical environment from a winter baby; differences of parental diet, especially in the days long before supermarkets where food was a matter of seasonal availability, plus other environmental factors; temperatures, hours of daylight exposure and so on, with potential physical effects on that baby’s makeup and development.
Libra is one of the three zodiac air signs, the others being Gemini and Aquarius.
Libra is the only sign that is not represented by a human or animal, but the scales signify the collective and enduring human hunger for justice, as well as Libra’s own especially keen personal need for balance, order, and equality.
Many astrologers view Libra as an especially lucky sign because it occurs during the peak of the year when the rewards of hard work are harvested.
Libra is suave, clever and extremely easy to like. The classic Libra subject has charm and can be a great listener with sharp observation skills and acute perception.
Because Venus, the goddess of love, rules Libra, the Libra subject is especially, even acutely sensitive to beauty in anything, whether it is a person, nature, art, or music. They dislike loud noises, nastiness, and vulgarity, as they are naturally extremely civilized people. They can sometimes be a little tiring to be with as they are constantly re-assessing and adjusting their thinking, and can be restless, more changeable even than Gemini.
Late Libra may show some of the more negative Scorpio traits. They may be touchy and thin-skinned, and tend not to handle criticism as dispassionately as they dispense it.
But Libra on a good hair day, when it is sunny side up, smart as anything, smiling, civilized, ready to be amused, that lollipop face, what’s not to like?
The archetypal human face in the Tarot representing Libra is the King of Swords, though of course in real life, this may represent male or female.
This court card represents a man of good appearance, keen intellect and observation, good analytical and technical skills. S/he may be a military person, doctor, surgeon, judge, accountant, IT expert, possibly a leader or other authority figure. He smiles. It is a good smile but the eyes are cool, watchful.
He is capable, logical and numerate, great at dealing with complex abstracts. In his negative aspects, he may be aggressive, sharp, big on facts but short on understanding, petty, overly judgmental or overbearing,
These archetypes are based on thousands of years of observation, but of course there is no such thing in reality as THE Libra personality.
You are a unique individual. Your zodiac sign (also known as your sun sign) is a major keynote, but nothing like the full picture in real life – or even in astrology.
But your decan, which depends on where your birthday falls within your zodiac sign, digs just a little deeper. If you don’t feel like a ‘typical’ Libra, perhaps you are a second or third decan Libra, rather than a ‘most typical’ first decan Libra.
What are the decans?
The decans have been described as ‘the thirty six faces of astrology.’
The Zodiac, a portion of sky as seen from earth, represents an imaginary belt or wheel; a circle of 360 degrees. This circle was seen as divided in Tropical or Western astrology into twelve ‘slices,’ of approximately thirty degrees each. Each slice represents a zodiac sign named after a chosen constellation appearing inside this belt of sky, giving us the zodiac signs we are familiar with today.
Astrologers then sub-divided each of these 12 signs into three parts of ten degrees each. Every degree – every birth date -supplies added insights or texture in respect of character and potential destiny.
The first ten days of a zodiac sign are the first decan. The next ten days or so are the second decan, and the last ten days or so are the third decan.
“If you’ve ever wondered why people born in the same sign seem different, decans can help answer this puzzle,” – astrologer Rachel Lang.
Libra First Decan
Dates: 23 September – 2 October
Planetary rulers: Traditional –Moon / Modern –Venus
Tarot card: Two of Swords – Truce, pause, standoff, taking stock, information gathering, indecision, obstinate, none so blind as will not see, refusal to engage
Libra-Libra gets a double dose of Venus glamour, as both its planetary ruler and sub-ruler; here is the most ‘typical’ Libra subject; sensitive, perceptive, attractive and well-balanced, keenly intuitive and extra sensitive to beauty, the arts and fashion.
They are clever as anything, strategic thinkers, great at seeing patterns, dealing with data. They are diplomats, cool operators, experts at avoiding unpleasant conversations. They are sensitive to loud noises and dislike crowds.
They hate conflicts, arguments and will avoid direct confrontation, though this is not always helpful. This means they may also avoid uncomfortable decision-making – or indeed any decision-making and may put off a boring job in the hope that someone else will deal with it, though they are perfectly capable of doing it themselves.
Libra is not known for nothing as ‘the iron fist in the velvet glove.’ They can turn away, cut you out cold, and you may never find out why. There will be a reason, but they don’t do those kinds of conversation, for all their essential kindness and usual generosity of spirit. First decan Libra for all their gifts can be self-critical and prone to anxiety or sudden mood swings. They really, really need their space.
Libra Second Decan
Dates: 3 -12 October
Planetary rulers: Traditional – Saturn / Modern – Uranus
Tarot card: Three of Swords. Sorrow, stress, separation, love triangles, karma, making peace with the past. All signs must learn to deal with loss. Important to note, none of these messages are intended for Libra alone, and may simply represent Libra timing in a reading.
Libra-Aquarius, ruled by stern Saturn and rebellious Uranus is not only brilliantly clever, but dutiful, patient, wise, and inventive, even downright psychic, more curious about subjects like astrology than other Librans. Here is a thinker with a strongly independent streak – even a little quirky. This Libran is urbane, naturally sophisticated, and much sought after for their wit, knowledge, sparkling company and good advice.
They are known for combining artistic gifts with a logical, rational scientific way of thinking. The writer’s father was a second decan Libran; an academic author and scholar of French philosophy, and an exhibiting artist, a painter, with powerful ESP.
All Librans have good earning potential above average, but this decan, ruled by disciplined Saturn, though not remotely mean, is careful, especially prone to saving up for a rainy day, or with an eye to leaving money for their dependents.
Never underestimate them. If a second Libra thinks something is wrong or unethical, if they disapprove of something they may react with a shocking finality, bringing down the sword of judgement. It’s the same with all Librans but the second decan Libra, while oh so polite….will coolly tell you to your face what they do not approve of.
Libra-Aquarius, inspiring devotion and respect, is an enigma, remote and distant, like a kindly priest or a shaman, or a shining lone star.
Dates: 13- 22 October
Planetary rulers: Traditional – Jupiter / Modern – Mercury
Tarot card- Four of Swords: rest, bed, recovery, retreat, regrouping after mental or physical exhaustion
Libra-Gemini is known for above average physical attractiveness and typically looks younger than their actual age, with a rounded face, bright, keen eyes, medium build, and a light to medium build, usually above average height.
Knowledge is power to this most restless Libran. They need to feel up to date, well informed. They may not necessarily share what they know, unless they feel challenged or contradicted. They can be competitive and also secretive, not because they are deceitful, but to avoid the risk of hassle. They cannot bear dealing with bad news, or to be the bearer of bad tidings. Libra decan 3 is not the one to volunteer to handle this.
They are capable of aggression, but still, are more timid, more of an introvert that many would take them for on first acquaintance.
They may have found themselves cast in the role of outsider at some period of their lives. This may have proved a formative experience, or it may have dented their confidence and given them a bit of a hang-up.
They take themselves very seriously, and are serious about money, and about their obligations, and make excellent family providers. They do need to feel that whatever they do for their loved ones was entirely their own idea, and do not respond well if they get the idea they are being pressured, but a bit of praise goes a long way with Decan 3 Libra.
They are usually tender to the helpless, but they don’t tend to give out a lot of praise themselves. They are born judges, but it can seem as if other people’s problems aren’t entirely real to them, and if they’re in the wrong, they may never admit it for fear of being judged themselves.
This decan in particular craves travel, and is known for a love of the sea. They have a tendency to become restless, withdrawn and irritable when bored, or when they can’t travel as much as they would like. Pandemic travel restrictions must have been quite a frustration for this Libra subject.
Libra Season 2021
This will not be a quiet news month on the global stage or in the media. It promises to be pretty interesting, and possibly at times, a bit too interesting, reflecting lively and intense astrological transits, particularly until the Mars square Pluto conjunction 21,22 and 23 October, which suggests we take special care how we go, avoiding getting into confrontations, and when going out and about.
On the other hand, we could get a lot of stuff sorted out this Libra season, spurred on helpful bursts of Mars energy.
Libra is laid back, or at least, quietly focused, going about its business. This Libra season, 2021 may well not be business as usual.
For more about the decans: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decan_(astrology)
For more about The Chaldeans: https://erenow.net/common/astrology-and-religion-among-the-greeks-and-romans/2.php
The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination by Robert M Place