The Season of The Lion

Leo
Public Domain: The constellation of Leo with its distinctive Sickle, representing the head and neck of the Lion, and with Jupiter below. Click the link above for more astronomy.
Natural History
Lions came out of the desert this time of year, driven by drought, to drink from the Nile, a sign that the great Nile flood was shortly on its way, mapped in the sky, led in by the constellation, the star lion Leo.
lion leo images

Star Lion

Dandy Lion’s
Golden Mane
Greying, Prideful
Casts Away
Alight on chance
To Lionise again
KEH
The Lion in The Tarot

Leo’s Tarot Card is Strength, Major Arcana 8. This is not simply about raw physical Strength, or bodily courage, but nerve, fortitude and grace under pressure. The lady controls the lion, but the touch is light. This is a card of self-control.  King Hood protects the pride. The Lionesses hunt to feed the pride, working as a team. Hunting is dangerous for the hunter as well as for the prey. The lion does not kill for pleasure. Only for necessity. Any injury sustained during hunting can mean a slow and painful death for the lioness.

gilded strength
Image from The Gilded Tarot, artist Ciro Marchetti
But if you can’t solve the problem, and not everyone can solve every problem, let someone else have a go who thinks they can. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.  Sometimes there is strength, unselfishness, moral courage even, in deciding to do that, so as not to become part of the problem.
In terms of Tarot divination, if this card comes up in answer to a question, the answer is very likely a yes.
If your question is when? The answer is very likely to be July 23-August 23 of the same year.
Till next time 🙂

Farewell Starry Solstice Crab…until we meet again

It is time to say farewell to the season of the Zodiac Crab for another year, ushering in the season of the Lion.

But what does Cancer look like in the night sky, and what is its seasonal significance?

Common associations

 

cancer

Ruling celestial body: Moon (and I pray it is never industrialized, to be despoiled, for in doing so we will despoil something in ourselves that could never be quantified until it was lost forever, repository of mankind’s dreams.)

Key phrase: I feel

Body: The chest, breast, heart

Birth Stone:  Stones and metals fall under the rule of planets, not signs, but through its association with the Moon, Cancer has affinity with pearls, silver and crystals.

Colour: White, silver

Tree: all trees rich in sap

Flower: Acanthus

Tarot card: The Chariot (see how it is like a shell?) Control, progress, teamwork, and the harmonizing of different elements.

The Chariot RiderWaite Public Domain

Public Domain: The Chariot, Rider-Waite

The Astronomy

 

cancer constellation

Stars of Cancer

Wikipedia: Cancer and its stars, via Free Clipart

Decapoda is the head and it’s actually a double-star. Acubens means ‘claw’ in Arabic, and the star Al Tarf is the foot of the Crab.

And if you think it looks more like a lobster, you’re not far wrong. It was also seen as a crayfish by the Greeks, and in ancient Egypt, a dung beetle.

Cancer, Latin for crab, is in a dark region of the sky, and is the faintest constellation in the Zodiac, with only two stars above the fourth magnitude: Acubens (The Claw) and Al Tarf (The foot). Cancer is visible in the Northern Hemisphere in the early spring, during March at 9 PM and can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere during autumn.

It’s almost impossible to see Cancer with the naked eye or even binoculars, looking between Leo, the lion, and Gemini, the twins. And it doesn’t look much like a crab at all. It looks more like a faint, upside-down Y and it’s often remarked that it’s more like the shape of a crayfish or lobster. It was also called the Crayfish in classical astrology, and in Egyptian astrology, The Scarab. But it’s always been seen a creature with an exoskeleton; an arthropod, and Cancer appears to rise crab-wise; not sideways, but backwards in the zodiac. The Sun’s entry into Cancer occurs at the summer solstice,

‘Solstice,’ Latin sol -stice means the Sun seems to be ‘standing still’ as it approaches this point.

Cancer’s faint but it’s got a lovely star cluster glowing at its centre. Praesepe, or ‘The Manger’ is one of two Messier objects in Cancer, identified in 1771 by French astronomer Charles Messier. Its newest name is The Beehive Cluster because seen through the telescope it looks like a swarm of bees, but to the naked eye it looks like a small, fuzzy patch of light -or a tiny cloud floating through the stars.

 

download

Public Domain: The Beehive Cluster

The Beehive Cluster (also known as Praesepe (Latin for “manger”), M44, NGC 2632, or Cr 189), is an opencluster in the constellation Cancer. It is one of the nearest open clusters to Earth, containing a larger population of stars than other nearby bright openclusters.
Other designations: M44, Praesepe, NGC 2632
Constellation: Cancer
Estimated age: ~600–700 million years (Wikipedia)

As the sign of the Sun’s greatest elevation, Cancer was considered nearest to the highest point of heaven – and was called ‘the Gate of Men’ through which, it was thought, souls descended to Earth to be born.  The opposite constellation, Capricornm was the ‘Gate of the Gods’, where souls of the departed rose back to heaven.

The stars of the Beehive were all formed at the same time, from the same cloud of gas and dust around 600 million to 700 million years ago, making them four billion years younger than the Sun. Pliny used this group of stars as an indicator of wet weather, and said that when Praesepe was not visible in a clear sky, snow or heavy rain or even violent storms were on the way. The outer edges of an approaching weather disturbance consist of very thin/high cirriform clouds, which might otherwise not be noticed under a dark, moonless night sky. These are just opaque enough to block out the light of the Beehive.

Cancer’s other Messier object: M67 is much older, about the same as the age of the Sun. Most clusters don’t survive more than a few trips around the centre of the galaxy because the gravity of other stars and giant clouds of gas and dust pull them apart. But M67 has survived for four or five billion years because it’s in the outer part of the galaxy with fewer stars and gas clouds to disturb it.

Cancer also contains a planetary system; 55 Cancri, containing five known planets, with possibly more awaiting discovery. 55 Cancri is about 40 light-years away, and is just about visible to the unaided eye, although you need help to find it. The innermost of its planets is a “super Earth,” a few times heavier than Earth – but none of these planets has the right surface conditions for liquid water, and life there isn’t considered likely.

The Myth

Cancer is associated with the Twelve Labours of Hercules after he went mad, mistook his wife and children for monsters and tragically killed them. His twelve great labours were performed in token of penance. The second of his great challenges was to kill the Hydra, a terrible water serpent but his enemy, Hera, who had always hated him as an illegitimate son (yet another one) of her husband Zeus, sent a crab to harass him while he fought the serpent. The crab faithfully did its best, nipping Hercules again and again, but he stepped on it and crushed it, or in other versions of the story killed it with his club.

Heracles Hydra and Crab

Public Domain: Hercules fights the hideous Hydra, and is dutifully harassed by The Crab

Hera rewarded its loyalty and tenacity by placing it in the heavens, but she placed it in a dark portion of the heavens, and gave it only faint stars. Crabs like dark, quiet places to feel safe and at home. However, its placement is as spiritually significant as it is shy and retiring, both as the highest point in the zodiac, nearest to heaven, and the messenger of the summer solstice.

The Astrology

 

Cancer

Public Domain: Enoch’s Constellation

Cancer is the fourth sign of the Zodiac and represents those born between June 20 and July 22. It is considered a water sign, and is one of the four cardinal signs, which are the signs indicating a change of season when the sun makes its annual passage into them.

Cancer is all about the shoreline, and tides, monthly and annual, the moon and the sun. The sign of Cancer, ruled by The Moon, is a cardinal sign, herald of the seasons, announcing the arrival of summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere.

The Cancer Personality

Of course there is no such thing in reality as THE Cancer personality. This is simply an archetype. Your sun sign is the keynote but it’s not ‘The Story.’

The archetype of the Cancer personality is complex, elusive and riddled with contradictions.

Cancer stands for both mother and father. It is the zodiac sign of the nurturing parent. Tough outside. Off spring must be defended, dangers must be driven back. Ruled by the Moon, moody and ‘crabby’ they may seem more easy going than they actually are, but there is a softness inside. Cancer typically relates well to babies and small animals, all wild things. The empty nest is rarely easy for any parent but can be total anathema to the Cancer parent.

grandgather rose maynard brown

Public Domain: Grandfather and granddaughter in garden; Rose Maynard Barton

Cancer is the sign of hearth and home, and expanding this; tribal identity and ancestral legacy, historical, cultural and genetic. It is the sign of memory, nostalgia, sometimes regrets, and a longing to return to happy childhood haunts- maybe even a rock-pool.

Cancer is highly intuitive, sensitive, receptive, and keeps its cards close to its chest, not so much deliberately, and as a matter of strategy, but because reserve, reticence and secrecy is what comes naturally to the Cancer subject, just as it does to the living creature. Still waters run deep. Cancer sees and hears, but does not speak. Verbal communication is not Cancer’s number one operating mode.

Decisions may be based on reasoning that is neither obvious nor apparent to other people, but is driven by a gift for lateral thinking, originating solutions to problems from angles that others have not considered.

Cancer is an enigma. But what would be a shoreline or a rock-pool without a crab?

VIDEO:  The Trials of Life: The Crabs of Christmas Island

 

Till next time 🙂

Double Trouble, Twice as Nice,it’s Two For The Price of One- Gemini!

Gemini: the Heavenly Twins  (May 21- June 20)

 Most of us know our zodiac or sun sign, but what does it look like in the night sky, and what’s the story behind it? This month it’s Gemini’s star turn.

gemini

Gemini associations

Symbol: The Roman numeral for 2 joined top and bottom in  representation of unity

Ruling planet: Mercury

Affirmation: ‘I think, I inquire.’

Birth Stone:  If born in May, Emerald. If born in June, Pearl (although it is not a stone, it is thought to be ruled by Mercury) Lucky stone Tiger’s Eye

Colour: Yellow

Tree: all kinds of nut trees

Flower: Lily of the Valley, Lavender

Tarot cards: The Lovers (love, choices, decision-making) and The Magician/Jester/Trickster

Magician Gilded

Image From the Gilded Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

 The Astronomy of Gemini

Gemini is a constellation in the northern sky, one of the constellations in the zodiac, the name for the area of the sky we see from Earth, including the apparent paths of the sun, moon and planets.

The Gemini constellation has been described by cultures since ancient times, with many different names and stories. It was listed as one of the 48 ancient constellations by Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century, though Ptolemy called it The Star of Apollo (Castor) and The Star of Heracles (Pollux).

Gemini is the northernmost constellation in the zodiac, high in the winter sky in the northern hemisphere, and is the thirtieth largest in size. Gemini can be seen by the naked eye, looking north east of the constellation Orion between the Taurus and Cancer constellations.

Gemini Wiktionary

Best viewing is during February. By April and May, the constellation can be seen soon after sunset in the west. The two brightest stars in the constellation are Castor and Pollux, representing the heads of the twins from Greek mythology, while fainter stars outline their bodies. Pollux, the westerly twin, is a red giant star, 33 light-years from Earth while Castor is about 51 light-years away. A light-year is the distance that light travels in a year – about 6 trillion miles/9.6 trillion kilometres.

Pollux is the brighter of the two stars, and has a massive planet orbiting it; Genorium Beta, 1.6 times bigger than Jupiter. Castor is actually not a single star, but a star system made of up six stars not visible to the naked eye.

Gemini-constellation-Hevelius

Public Domain: Gemini- Helvelius

The Ancient History

The concept of twins in mythology goes back at least as far as the so-called Age of Gemini, during the Palaeolithic, 6, 500 BCE, arising from our understanding of the duality fundamental to the nature of reality. There are male and female twins but many twin brothers in particular in world myth, standing for night and day, light and dark, heat and cold, male and female, war and peace, good and bad, life and death, and the creation myths of ancient cultures reflect this eternal battle of seeming opposites.  Many surviving objects feature twin gods and goddesses; a major theme across all cultures.

The Astrology of Gemini

The ‘twin stars’ have been recognised as representing twins across all cultures, each with their own names and stories. In Arabic astronomy the twins were seen as peacocks, In Egyptian astrology they were twin goats, or else the two gods, Horus the Elder and Horus the Younger,  while classical Greek mythology identified them as the twin brothers, Castor and Pollux, The Gemini; the name by which the constellation is still known throughout the western world.

Castor comes from the Greek Καστωρ (Kastor) and means “to excel, to shine.”  In Greek myth Castor was a son of Zeus and the twin brother of Pollux.

Pollux comes from the Roman form of Greek Πολυδευκης (Polydeukes) and means “very sweet.”

The circumstances of their birth were unusual to say the least. Queen Leda of Sparta was seduced by Zeus who had disguised himself as a swan though perhaps that was putting it too politely. He glided up preening, and pounced on her while she was bathing. Later that evening, notwithstanding this undoubted shock,  she also slept with her husband King Tyndareus and went on to produce four children; Castor, Pollux and their sisters Helen (later Helen of Troy) and Clytemnestra (later married to Agamemnon as queen of Mycenae) Pollux and Helen were immortal, fathered by Zeus, while Castor and Clytemnestra were mortal, fathered by Tyndareus.

Image Below: Public Domain, the young Castor and Pollux (Meissen)

castor-pollux-porcelain

The brothers were handsome, curious and shared many adventures.  The mortal Castor was a renowned horseman and a master at fencing, while Pollux was known for his great strength and skill at boxing.

Castor was killed in a quarrel, possibly a disagreement over dividing the spoils after a cattle raid, and Pollux was distraught.  He didn’t want immortality, not if it meant being without his twin brother. Pollux begged his father, Zeus, for help and Zeus scratched his head, wondering how to fix this, and then decided to place them both in the stars, to be together forever as the constellation Gemini.

The Greeks worshipped the twins as gods who helped shipwrecked sailors. Later the Romans developed a cult around Castor and Pollux dating back to 484 B.C. A temple to the twins was built in the Roman Forum in 414 BC in thanks for their help in defeating the Latins; an old enemy, in the battle of Regillus. The Romans considered Castor and Pollux the patron gods of horses, and of the Roman mounted knights; the equites and Castor and Pollux appear on many early Roman coins.

The Gemini subject in real life action

Zodiac_Stories-Gemini

Gemini is ‘mercurial’, restless but independent minded-  and like the Tarot’s Magician, does things his or her own way, whether or not this is necessarily a good idea.

Gemini often has a pleasing appearance; slender, well-proportioned and above average height, with neat features in an oval face. Classic Gemini subjects are lively, agile, sparkling, charming, chatty and inquisitive, but not necessarily easy to get close to.

Gemini tends to change jobs more often than subjects of the other signs of the zodiac, and is better at starting new projects than finishing them, but can do very well in teams where new ideas, agility and a talent for networking are needed. Gemini could be the perfect journalist, TV or radio presenter, columnist, salesperson, or literary or travel agent.

Gemini has charisma, but can occasionally come across as superficial, fickle, or careless, even ruthless, dropping people and projects once they lose interest, which Gemini can do quite suddenly. But once truly committed, they are intensely loyal to their friends and loved ones. Gemini is mostly fairly peaceable, but they don’t shy away from saying what they think, and if anyone tries to back them into a corner, quicksilver Gemini comes out fighting, and Gemini has plenty of physical courage, but also stealth.