Scorpio, slayer of Orion, the Stellar Scorpion

Mercator

The season of the Scorpion is here once again.

Common Associations

Zodiac symbol

Dates:  October 23 –November 22 (Western astrology)

Ruling planets:  Co-ruled byMars and after its discovery in 1930, Pluto

Symbol:  Scorpion, Eagle, (nearby constellation, Aquila, the Eagle) Also, the Phoenix

Zodiac element: Water

Zodiac quality: Fixed

Keyword:  I desire. I transform

Colour:  Dark red

Birthstone:  Yellow Topaz, Opal, Aquamarine, Tourmaline.

Tree:  Walnut. Hawthorn. Blackthorn

Tarot Card:  Death, Transformation and Resurrection. Without Death there can be no Life. Without Death there can be no Individual. We chose the destiny of the Individual.

From The Touchstone Tarot by Kat Black

Astronomy

Scorpius , Latin for Scorpion, the constellation from which the zodiac sign of Scorpio gets its name, is a massive and spectacular j- shaped constellation in the southern hemisphere near the centre of the Milky Way. In the Northern hemisphere it can be seen in July and August, most visible in July at 9.00 PM. In the Southern hemisphere it is visible from March to October, looking like a faint band in the Milky Way overhead.

Its is one of the 48 constellations identified by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century but its story is far, far older.

Scorpius is the southernmost of all the constellations in the zodiac, and lies between Libra to the west and Sagittarius to the east. Its claws later became part of the newer constellation the Romans named Libra.

Its brightest star, one of the brightest of all in the night sky, is the ‘heart’ of the scorpion, Antares, meaning ‘rival of Ares’ (the Greek name for the Roman god of war, Mars) Like Mars it is bright reddish in colour, and Scorpio’s ruling planet was Mars until Pluto was discovered in 1930. Now it is considered co-ruled by both Mars (The Warrior) and Pluto (The Transformer)

Scorpius contains many bright stars, and some exo-planets. One is extremely old, and more than one is considered potentially habitable. The planet PSR B1620-26 b is sometimes nicknamed “Methuselah” being estimated at 12.7 billion years old.  (The universe is about 13.7 billion years old.)  Methuselah is vast, with a mass about twice that of Jupiter and it orbits around not one, but two stars.

Gliese 667Cc is a “super-Earth” about four times as massive as Earth. It orbits a red dwarf star, Gliese 667C; part of a three-star system only 22 light-years away from Earth. It’s considered potentially habitable and the same system contains two other potentially habitable planets: Gliese 667Ce and Gliese 667Cf – both  are about 2.7 times the mass of Earth.

“Habitability” is defined as a rocky world that is close enough to its parent star for liquid water to exist on the surface, though other factors may later rule it out, such as the variability of its star, or the composition of the planet’s atmosphere.

Mythology and History

Nature, Religion and astrology were intertwined in the ancient world, and the scorpion has been here far longer than we have – hundreds of millions of years, more than 450 million, as compared with our six million or so.

Sometime around four thousand years ago the Babylonians looked up, discerned the brightly leaning J- shape in the summer stars and called this constellation MUL.GIR.TAB – the ‘Scorpion’, literally read as ‘the (creature with) a burning sting’.

The movements and relative positions of Scorpius were mapped by Babylonian magicians and astrologers, who left written records of the omens they observed.

“When a halo surrounds the Moon and Scorpio stands in it, it will cause men to marry princesses, (or) lions will die, and the traffic of the land will be hindered.”

A comet appearing in Scorpius was read as a warning of a plague, but when the Sun rose in Scorpius, alchemists saw their one chance for the transmutation of lead into gold.

In Greek mythology the scorpion refers to a story about Orion. According to one of these myths Orion boasted to his friend the goddess Artemis and her mother Leto that he would hunt and kill every animal on Earth.

Demeter, the goddess of Earth decided this was completely unacceptable behaviour.

Artemis was a great hunter herself, but still, Artemis did not kill for the sake of killing, and offered protection to all creaturesand stood for the principle of conservation. Demeter sent a scorpion to deal with Orion. He fought back, and according to some accounts he killed the scorpion, but whether or not Orion killed the scorpion, the scorpion killed Orion, and they are not seen together in the sky at the same time. Orion flees before the Scorpion.

Zeus was impressed by the scorpion’s battle spirit, and raised it to heaven, and at the request of Artemis; he did the same for Orion, who stands for our earliest selves, The Human as The Hunter.

It was the human as hunter that founded human society, not the human as forager or farmer. Hunting has high stakes – Life and death when the prey is powerful and dangerous, as with the auroch and the mammoth. It demands teamwork, absolute co-operation in a way that foraging does not.

Orion stands for the dawn of Mankind.

“We were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted to battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.”- Robert Ardrey, African Genesis: A Personal Investigation into the Animal Origins and Nature of Man (1961)

Other Legends

In Indonesia Scorpio is the Banyakangrem – “the brooded swan,” or the Kalapa Doyong, meaning “the leaning coconut tree.” The tree is quite easy to see in that pattern of stars. In Hawaii, it is “The Fishhook” of the demi-god Maui.

In Chinese mythology, the constellation is part of the Azure Dragon.

And yet, there is consensus across not only continents but hemispheres. Thousands of years before the Greeks and Romans established their societies, the Australian Aboriginal people also saw the stars of Scorpius as a cosmic scorpion, as did the Aztecs of Central Mexico.

The Lowland Mayans  had scorpion constellations. These may have matched up with the Scorpion of the zodiac, but there no clear proof. It is thought that the Mayans viewed the celestial scorpion as an eclipse-causing agent.

The arrival of Scorpio’s sign in the northern hemisphere coincides with the advent of mystery, the fast fading autumn light, and the ghosts, myths and superstitions of Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, hence its association with the Tarot’s Death Card.

Facts about scorpions

Photo by Sharath G. on Pexels.com
  • They are a truly ancient creature. The earliest evidence dates from the Silurian period 450 million years ago, when the first scorpion ancestors left the seas for the land. Fossils from the Carboniferous 300 million years ago indicate little change since then. Early scorpions may have had compound eyes. 
  • They are arachnids: arachnida scorpiones, with a body in two sections, 2 pincers or pedi-palps, 8 legs like a spider, and an exo-skeleton made of chitin. But they are more closely related to Harvestmen than spiders.
  • They dance before mating, a stately promenade, and give birth to live young and carry them on their backs until the babies have their first moult when they disperse. The mothers may eat the young if resources really are desperately scarce.
  • They have a long life span compared with other arachnids, 2-3 years in the wild but can live up to 25 years in captivity. They eat insects, spiders, other scorpions and lizards. They also eat small mammals, such as mice. But they can go a year without food if they have to.
  • They glow in the dark unless they have newly moulted and scorpion fossils still fluoresce, after hundreds of millions of years embedded in rock.
  • They are famously venomous but of the nearly 2,000 known species of scorpions, only 25 are dangerous to an adult human. In the U.S., the Arizona bark scorpion, Centruroides sculpturatus, produces venom strong enough to kill a small child, but anti-venom means deaths are nowadays rare.

The Scorpio Archetype

All the zodiac signs are ‘psychic’ in their own ways, but like the other water signs, Cancer and Pisces, Scorpio is considered especially clairvoyant, or at least, keenly intuitive. But where Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and Pisces by Neptune, Scorpio is ruled by fiery Mars. It scalds. It is is water behaving as steam.

Co-ruled by Pluto, Scorpio rules Birth, Sex and Death.  No wonder the subjects can be intense, but also possessed of great personal charisma.

They are watchful but keep their feelings hidden. Born investigators, spies or secret agents, they are shrewd judges of human nature, born detectives and good at covering their tracks, while less conscientious Scorpio subjects may consciously make use of this to their personal advantage.  

But combined with their intense determination and loyalty where they decide to accord it, Scorpios can make great leaders, scientist, and devoted doctors and family people. They are quick learners, agile, often changing careers, going down new paths.

Scorpio is vengeful…and patient. But they never forget a kindness either.

And unpopular Pluto, Hades, lord of the Underworld has a compassion all his own. It is not Death that is the enemy of Life, but useless suffering, and the ‘Seasons Don’t Fear The Reaper’.

Photo by Jo Kassis on Pexels.com

Scorpio is also the fire-bird of resurrection, as new life rises from the ashes –The Phoenix.

Till next time…and for keen astronomers, I’ll leave you with this video via YouTube channel, Learn The Sky. You can support them by giving it a Like or Subscribing.

Author: Katie-Ellen

Intuitive Tarot reader, consultant and writer.

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