Today is Candlemas, the Christian festival of presenting Jesus at the temple, but before that, a more ancient celebration in Gaelic Britain of coming spring. Go on folks. Get with the programme. Parade down the street, go pray for the health of the fields! It’s all about the soil.
Plus today is a palindrome date: 02022020.
Candlemas is a continuation of the ancient festival Imbolc, which spans 1-2 February and began yesterday with St Brigid’s Day. The original Brigid was a pre-Christian goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann. She was a daughter of the chief of the gods, The Dagda, and was known as a goddess of healers, poets, smiths, childbirth and inspiration. Her name means “exalted one”.
Her story was later merged with the Christian saint of the same name in the middle ages, St Brigid of Kildare.
This fire festival, whether viewed as pagan or Christian, began as a neolithic festival also celebrated in Scotland and the Isle of Man, roughly marking the 1/2 way point between the winter solstice and spring equinox.
There are various suggestion about the etymology of ‘Imbolc. ‘ It is commonly thought to come from a word meaning “in the belly.” This reflects goddess Brigid’s role as a protector of women in childbirth, as well as the safe birthing of precious livestock.
Any time now, is the time of the very first lambs. The start of the lambing season varies by up to two weeks in any given year.
Brigid was said to visit one’s home at Imbolc. Asking her blessings, people would make a bed for Brigid and leave her food and drink, and items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brigid was petitioned to protect homes and livestock. This was a time for feasting and visits to sacred wells, and a time for ritual divination.
St Brigid’s cross is the classic icon of her saint’s day today, though this too, predates Christianity. It is made from rushes and was placed in doorways to protect the home from harm.
A new Christian story was created for it, that the earthly manifestation of Brigid, St Brigid of Kildare, had woven it for a dying man, using rushes from the floor, baptizing him at the point of death.
Spring fire, fierce quickening of new green shoots.
Imbolc was when the Cailleach. —the divine crone of Gaelic tradition—gathered her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend said if she wished the winter to last a good while longer, she would make sure the weather on Imbolc was bright and sunny, so she could go out and about, and gather firewood.
It was lucky, therefore, if there was bad weather at Imbolc (and the wind was screaming as I was typing this.)
If Imbolc was a day of foul weather, as it was here yesterday, and today is still damp and blustery, it meant the Cailleach was sound asleep, and winter was almost over.
Dang. I meant to post this in November and forgot.
I’ll blame it on Brexit. Why not.
Is there a missing thirteenth sign in the astrological zodiac? Astronomers suggest there is. Sidereal (eastern) astrologers may agree, but Tropical (western) astrologers mostly do not.
So what’s this about?
to Ptolemy’s system of Tropical (western) astrology there are 12 signs of the
zodiac named after 12 constellations. Aries the Ram is the first constellation,
and therefore the first sign of the zodiac, March 20 – April 19. Pisces is the
twelfth constellation and the last sign of the zodiac, Feb 19 –March 20.
Modern astronomy records
88 constellations covering the southern and northern hemispheres of our sky. 13
of these constellations cross or touch the ecliptic
– the trajectory of the Sun’s apparent path across the sky as seen from Earth.
These include the constellations that inspired the names of our 12 zodiac signs plus a thirteenth – Ophiuchus (Oaf-ih-YOU-kus)
Astronomers and NASA have
presented this thirteenth constellation, Ophiuchus, as the thirteenth sign of
the zodiac, while also pointing out that the zodiac itself…meaning the section of sky
directly overhead as viewed from Earth- has changed from when the ancient
Babylonian astrologers first viewed it, and the generally accepted dates for
the zodiac signs as supplied in horoscopes are now a month out of alignment.
change in the skies has been the result of an effect called precession. The
gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun causes the Earth to ‘wobble’ and as the
Earth orbits around the sun; a different constellation appears behind it each
the zodiac signs have remained in a
fixed position, and their dates have remained the same, varying only by a day
or two here and there, the constellations have drifted.
Based on this, astronomers have suggested the new astrological zodiac should more correctly look like this, with these new dates:
20 Jan – 16 Feb
•Aquarius: 16 Feb – 11 March
•Pisces: 11 March – 18 April
•Aries: 18 April – 13 May
•Taurus: 13 May – 21 June
•Gemini: 21 June – 20 July
•Cancer: 20 July – 10 Aug
•Leo: 10 Aug – 16 Sept
•Virgo: 16 Sept – 30 Oct
•Libra: 30 Oct – 23 Nov
•Scorpio: 23 – 29 Nov
•Ophiuchus: 29 Nov – 17 Dec
•Sagittarius: 17 Dec – 20 Jan
thought you were a Taurus sun sign? Hang on says NASA. No, actually, you are an
Aries subject. So you thought you were an Aries sun sign? No, you are Pisces.
So you thought you were a Sagittarius? No, you are Ophiuchus, and so on.
But hang on a minute. As astronomers themselves are quick to point out, astronomy is not astrology.
Let’s first take a brief look at the astronomy.
Ophiuchus ([Oaf-ih-YOU-kus) is one of the largest constellations but also the least well known, straddling the celestial equator northwest of the centre of the Milky Way, near the constellations Aquila, Serpens, and Hercules, and opposite Orion.
The southern part lies between Scorpius to the west and Sagittarius to the east. July is the best time to see it in the northern hemisphere, mid-winter in the southern hemisphere. Below Ophiuchus, down to the right, look out for a bright reddish star, Antares in Scorpio, for help in locating it.
Its name comes from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος Ophioukhos; “serpent-bearer,” and it is commonly represented as a man grasping a snake. It used to be called Serpentius, and it included the constellation of Serpens, representing the snake itself. Marking the head of Ophiuchus, Alpha Ophiuchi has an older, Arabic name: Rasalhague, the “Head of the Snake Charmer”.
contains many notable features and objects, including Kepler’s Supernova, or Kepler’s Star, named for German astronomer Johannes Kepler and which
was by far the brightest star in the sky for over 3 weeks during 1604.
Kepler wasn’t the first
to note the supernova, due to cloudy conditions, but he made observations over
the course of an entire year and wrote about the “new star in the foot of
continued visible for 18 months, and its remnants are still studied today, still
the most recent supernova to be observed with the naked eye.
ancient Greeks, the constellation represented the god Apollo struggling
with a huge snake that guarded the Oracle of Delphi.
Later myths identified Ophiuchus with Laocoon, the tragic Trojan priest of Poseidon, who warned his fellow Trojans about the Greek’s wooden horse, and together with his sons, was killed by a pair of sea-serpents sent by Poseidon to shut him up, because clearly, Poseidon was on the side of the Greeks, or else under orders from Zeus, or else Laocoon had already annoyed him in some other way, and you know, nothing less than death by giant sea-snake would do.
Pluto (Hades) complained to Jupiter (Zeus) that Asclepius was interfering with death, which upset the natural order and meant the end of the circle of life, with no room for new life. Immortality was an evil therefore. Life itself would die, stagnated, and Jupiter (Zeus) duly put a stop to it by killing Asclepius with a lightning thunderbolt. Apollo was furiously upset, understandably, and Jupiter tried to appease him by placing Asclepius in the heavens to honour his good works, and the rod of Asclepius remains the symbol of western medicine to this day.
The rod of Asclepius is not be confused with the Cadeuceus, a symbol of medicine, but also of trade. The cadeuceus is assciated with Mercury, and has not one but two snakes twined round the staff, and it has wings.
In medieval Islamic astronomy the constellation
was known as ‘Al-Ḥawwa’, “the snake-charmer.”
described in the Astronomica of
Marcus Manilius, 10 AD:-
“Ophiuchus holds apart the serpent which
with its mighty spirals and twisted body encircles his own…But, bending its
supple neck, the serpent looks back and returns…The struggle will last forever,
since they wage it on level terms with equal powers.”
Image: Public Domain: The Snake-Wrangler
in Urania’s Mirror, 1825. Above the tail of the
serpent is a now ‘obsolete’ constellation, Taurus Poniatovii
If you are born in that window between
29th November and 17th December, astronomers and some astrologers may argue
that your zodiac sun sign is technically Ophiuchus.
Key personality traits:
Humanitarian* Poetic* Hungry for knowledge* Intuitive* Psychic*Intense *Likes bright colours *High achievers *Prone to harbouring enemies without realizing *Lucky (so long as the enemies don’t succeed, obviously)
These are, not surprisingly, a mix of classic Scorpio and Sagittarius
attributes in this profile.
So, is Ophiuchus the thirteenth zodiac sign? Does your zodiac sign stay the same?
It depends who you are talking to. What astronomy is not taking into account here is the very basis of western (Tropical) astrology which makes a key distinction between the positions at any given time of the constellations themselves, and the zodiac signs named after them.
The signs of the zodiac as we know them today are based on Ptolemy’s twelve-fold
division of the ecliptic, designed so that each sign spans 30° of celestial
longitude, or roughly the distance the Sun travels in a month. 12 was an
easier, tidier number to work with than was 13.
Ptolemy aligned these divisions with the seasons so that the March
equinox always falls on the boundary between Pisces and Aries, whereas Sidereal (Vedic)
astrology is based on the constellations themselves, as was western astrology
way back at the time of the Babylonians, whose data Ptolemy worked with.
Tropical western astrology, with its 12 associated zodiac signs is a static,
modelled system based NOT on the constellations themselves, but on the wheel of
the seasons which also accord the signs of the zodiac their personalities, but the idea of the ‘missing’
thirteenth sign is nothing new.
“It was developed by Hipparchus in 130 BC,” says astrologer, Susan Miller, “but you don’t get your characteristics from the constellations. You get them from the planets, from the sun and moon. We measure everything by the degree to which the earth is rotated around the sun. So if you’re born at the beginning of the zodiac, which corresponds to the spring equinox and typically falls on March 20, you’re at the 0º point—or the point at which the sun is crossing directly over the earth’s Equator. If we didn’t have names like Virgo or Gemini we’d have to walk around saying, `Hi, I’m a 136º,’ and I’d say, `Oh, really? Well I’m a 352º and so on.”
NASA’s debunking is logical in strictly astronomical terms, but in astrological terms would only matter if Tropical (western) astrology was still tied to the position of the constellations.
But it isn’t, and your zodiac sign, also known as your sun sign still stands, both as it is and where it is, based on the principle and according to the system on which it was first described.
“Tonight is the first full moon of the new year, nicknamed the Wolf Moon. As winter bit down, hungry wolves came down to the villages in search of food.”
January and February is wolf mating season, and their howls haunted the nights more than usual, both in Europe and in North America. This nickname was shared by Europeans and Native Americans alike, though this full moon has other nicknames too, including the Snow Moon and Ice Moon.
“Tonight’s lunar eclipse full moon in Cancer rises at 15:50 GMT (UK) or 2:21 ET and sets at 07.53 GMT (UK) Last night’s almost-full moon was spectacular. Excited cat playing & pouncing on things. This ‘watery’ lunar event typically signifies big changes at home. A lettinggo.”
That evening I said to Il Matrimonio, “I wonder who we will be hearing about tomorrow, who has ‘let go and left home’?”
Very many people will have ‘let go and left home’ of course. 2 people go out of this world every second and 4 come in, or if we want to be statistically exact, 1.8 go out, and 4.20 come in.
“The unborn are banging on the gates of the dock. What’s the limit on the shipping lanes?”- KT Kearns
But who would we be hearing about?
Which crab would quit his rock-pool?
Who would the wolf moon carry away in tonight’s meteor shower? (The Quadrantids)
It was the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al- Said, 79, a ruler for 50 years, ally of the UK and US and the longest ruling monarch in the Arab world.
Publicly at least, apart from three years of marriage which ended in divorce, after which his wife remarried, he lived to all intents and purposes as a hermit (crab) But his personal life has remained entirely private, protected by his shell of court and state.
Qaboos bin Said Al -Said
Excerpts from an Obituary in the Middle East Eye: (Link provided below)
“The sultan took the throne of an extremely underdeveloped country with a history of civil conflict and oversaw its transformation into a politically stable middle-income state during his half-century reign. Under a model of modernising absolute monarchy, he largely managed to steer Oman away from the extremes of consumerism of neighbouring Dubai and the religious conservatism of Saudi Arabia.
The concentration of political power and wealth in the sultan’s hands, combined with the absence of a clear route to succession, had led to fears that there could be a leadership crisis following his death.
The appointment of Haitham bin Tariq, Oman’s culture minister and the 65-year-old cousin of the late sultan, on Saturday appeared to put to rest lingering uncertainty over the country’s succession process.
Under Qaboos, political parties were banned and laws of lese-majesty created an all-pervasive system of surveillance and repression that ensured no organised opposition could emerge.
Still, there is no doubting the genuine affection in which the sultan was held by many Omanis and expatriates, seen as a visionary leader who had secured the welfare of Omanis and expatriates alike by leading the nation through its modernisation, and leaving a legacy that his successor will be hard put to equal.
The Sultan inherited a conservative, highly religious country riven by armed insurrection and tribal divisions, Valeri wrote, and over several decades, reduced the influence of the tribes, while incorporating their leaders in the political process.
Qaboos also championed the advance of women, gradually opening the way for many to enter education and the labour market in increasing numbers, despite Oman being a conservative society that traditionally segregated women in domestic roles.
Qaboos was also a big supporter of the arts with his government sponsoring the country’s first societies of artists and traditional music. As a lover of classical music, he played the organ and the lute, composed music and founded the Gulf’s first symphony orchestra in 1985, its players recruited from the towns and villages of Oman.
Qaboos was careful to maintain diplomatic ties even with those states, such as Iran and Iraq, which were in conflict with his western allies. As he explained to an Egyptian newspaper in 1985: “There is ultimately no alternative to peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Persians, nor to a minimum of agreement in the region.”
One of the world’s longest-serving heads of state, Qaboos began tentative moves toward a constitutional monarchy in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the introduction of an elected consultative assembly and municipal council elections. However at the time of his death he remained head of state and prime minister, and commander in chief of the armed forces.
Qaboos’s successor will face the growing question of how to quell rising expectations of a new generation of internet-savvy young people no longer satisfied with the repressive paternalism that prevailed under half a century of Qaboos.
Now. Here is a very interesting piece of information, linking the Full Moon In Cancer with the Sultan Qaboos, or at least, I find this interesting. If not downright spooky.
Your Moon sign is an expression of your temperament and style of doing things. The natal chart of the Sultan shows that he was born with his Sun in deep and secretive, watery Scorpio and his Moon in the sign of almost equally deep and secretive sign of Cancer the Crab.
That was one enigmatic man of deep waters. That was one tough shell.
Two tough shells.
Now consider this image of the Moon card from The Gilded Tarot Royale, from the illustrator Ciro Marchetti, and the full moon uniting wolf and crab.
The Sun card in Tarot foresees sunny weather at its most literal. It’s respite from care, the gift of the moment, childhood and sometimes the imminence of birth. It’s also travel, particularly to hot places. It is the return of the sun after the winter solstice. It is the zenith of the sun in the summer solstice. It is glory.
Reversed it’s the setting sun, delays and lesser joys, the passing away of childhood, nostalgia, beautiful, bittersweet twilight. It may mean getting something less than you hoped for, but what you get is still something to be happy for.
The Star card on the other hand, can and often has indicated a recovery from depression, sickness and despair, a guiding light, someone sees a way ahead, they couldn’t see before.
Klytie was a figure in Ancient Greek mythology who fell in love with the sun god, Apollo. Each day…
An introduction to the astronomy, history and, mythology of the zodiac sign of Capricorn…
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 the turn of Capricorn…
Date of Birth: 21 Dec to 20 January
Ruling planet: Saturn
Lucky Day: Saturday Lucky Numbers 2 and 8
Quality: Cardinal (the start of the season of winter)
Key phrase: I build, I use
Body: Skin, knees, skeletal system
Birth Stone: Red Garnet, Black Onyx
Herbs/Flowers: Wintergreen, Ivy, Carnation
Tarot card: The Devil (Pan/Nature, Mystery, Fascination, Obsession, Entrapment)
The constellation of Capricornus is located in an area of sky known as The Sea or The Water, containing other water-related constellations including Aquarius, Pisces and Eridanus.
Its name is Latin for “horned goat” or “having horns like a goat’s”, and it is commonly represented in the form of a sea-goat: a mythical creature that is half goat, half-fish, like Pricus, the son of Chronos (Time) king of the mer-goats of Greek myth. This seems to have been an evolution legend. The children of Pricus left the sea to dwell on mountains, leaving him alone in the oceans with no-one to teach any more, and Pricus was a great teacher. Zeus placed him in the Sea of the Stars so that he could see his children again, and they could look up and see him.
Capricornus is the smallest constellation in the zodiac, with no first magnitude stars. Even so, the brightest star, Delta Capricorni A, is a white giant with a luminosity 8.5 times that of the Sun.
Capricornus has three stars with known planets and contains a Messier object, Messier 30, a globular cluster 28,000 light years distant,about 90 light years across in size.
The cluster is approaching us at the speed of 181.9 km/s. It was one of the first deep sky objects discovered by Charles Messier in 1764.
There are five meteor showers associated with Capricornus: the Alpha Capricornids, the Chi Capricornids, the Sigma Capricornids, the Tau Capricornids, and the Capricorniden-Sagittarids.
Like other constellations of the astrological zodiac, Capricorn was first catalogued by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century.
The planet Neptune was discovered in the constellation Capricornus, near Deneb Algedi, the brightest star in the tail of the goat, on September 23, 1846.
This perhaps explains or illustrates a strong astral and psychic mythic connection between Capricorn and Pisces the Fishes.
History and Mythology
Though Capricornus is the second faintest constellation in the sky after Cancer, its imagery is very ancient indeed, associated with myths that go back to the 21st century BC and several of which centre on various sun gods nursed by a she-goat.
All myths of astrology have their roots in Earth’s seasons. Goats, and their relatives, ibex, were depicted in Ice Age paintings, and later immortalized in myth as Capricorn.
Male ibex started fighting and mating during early winter, December and January, coinciding with the later days ascribed to Capricorn. In the early Bronze Age, Capricornus marked the winter solstice and, in modern astrology, as distinct from astronomy, Capricorn’s rule still begins on the first day of winter. The constellation itself is actually overhead nowadays during Aquarius, due to the wobble of the Earth, an effect known as precession, but the sun sign named after Capricornus retains the dates accorded to it by Ptolemy.
Before 1000 BC the Sumerians knew Capricorn as the goat-fish, or SUHUR-MASH-HA, but the constellation is nowadays more widely associated with two mythical creatures from Greek legends: the deity Pan, and the she-goat Amalthea who suckled baby Zeus, although these legends were based on far more ancient stories involving kindly she-goats and baby sun deities.
The forest deity Pan has the legs and horns of a goat, like Krotos, his son, who was a great archer and devotee of the Muses, and is identified with the neighbouring constellation Sagittarius.
Pan, so the legend said, was placed in the sky by Zeus in gratitude after he came to the rescue of other gods during a time the Olympian gods sought refuge in Egypt following their epic battle with the Titans, when the monster Typhon, son of the Titan Tartarus and Earth, sought revenge.
Typhon was a fearsome fire-breathing creature, higher than mountains and with dragons’ heads instead of fingers. The Olympian gods sought to escape his vengeance by adopting various disguises: Zeus, a ram – Hera, a white cow, Bacchus (another version of the myth suggests Pan) a goat.
Zeus was dismembered by Typhon, but was saved when Bacchus/Pan played a sound on his pipes, ‘panikos,’ from which we get the word ‘panic’ – and he panicked the monster long enough for an agile Hermes to collect the supreme god’s limbs and carefully restore him. In gratitude, Zeus transferred Bacchus/Pan to the heavens as Capricornus.
Another legend says that while the souls of those about to be born descend to Earth through the constellation of Cancer, via the Beehive Cluster, the souls of the dead return to the cosmic sea, ascending through the gate of Capricorn.
Public Domain: Celestial Atlas 1822
Capricorn is the tenth sign in the Zodiac.
There is no such thing in reality as THE Capricorn personality and the same goes for all the zodiac sun signs. Your sun sign is an archetype, a keynote but of course it is not and never could be the whole story.
The archetype of Capricorn is shrewd, wise, and even Gnostic. They are profound thinkers, often deeply enquiring, and with a wry sense of humour, self-reliant, stoic in the face of adversity, hard-working, determined and resilient.
They have high standards, and expect much of themselves but also others which, depending on other aspects of their astrological portrait, can make them demanding or even overbearing task-masters,
They are known for a dry rather than a joyful wit, and if Saturn gets too prominent, they can be downbeat, cynical and suspicious, seeing traps and problems everywhere, viewing the enthusiasm of others as premature or naïve.
Capricorn is no-one’s fool, but Capricorn carries its own weight, and the weight of others too from time to time, and Capricorn climbs the mountain to see the world, not so that the world will see Capricorn.
“Duties are what make life most worth the living. Lacking them, you are not necessary to anyone. And this would be like living in an empty space. Or not being alive at all.”- Marlene Dietrich, born Dec 27, 1901
Most of us know our sign of the zodiac, but what does its constellation look like in the night sky, and what’s the story behind the sign? Around October 23 this month we entered the sign of the Scorpion.
Dates: October 23 –November 22
Ruling planets: Co-ruled by Mars, and after its discovery in 1930, Pluto
Symbol: Scorpion, Eagle (Because of the nearby constellation, Aquila, the Eagle)
Scorpius from which the zodiac sign of Scorpio gets its name, is a massive
and spectacular j- shaped constellation located 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
Its name is Latin for scorpion and it is one of the 48 constellations identified by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century. Like Aries, Taurus and Leo, it is an ancient constellation, recognised as such pre-dating the Greeks.
Scorpius is the southernmost of all the constellations in the zodiac, and lies between Libra to the west and Sagittarius to the east. It used to be bigger, but its claws later became part of the constellation the Romans named Libra in the first century.
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) It is so-named because it is
bright reddish in colour, like Mars, and also because 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 interesting exo-planets.
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
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 & History
Nature, religion and astrology were intertwined in the ancient world, and the scorpion has been here hundreds of millions of years, more than 450 million, 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.
“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
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
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 she did not kill for the sake of killing and was ultimately a protector of all creatures. 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 definitely killed Orion.
Zeus was much impressed by
the scorpion’s battle spirit, and raised the scorpion to heaven, and at the
request of Artemis; he did the same for Orion.
In other cultures it is not seen as a scorpion. In Indonesia
it is the Banyakangrem – “the brooded swan,” or the Kalapa Doyong,
meaning “the leaning coconut tree.” In Hawaii, it is “The Fishhook”
of the demi-god Maui.
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.
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
Facts about scorpions
They are an 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. They are more closely
related to Harvestmen than spiders.
They dance before mating, a stately promenade. They
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 are desperately scarce.
They have a long life span compared with other
arachnids, 2-3 years in the wild but they have lived up to 25 years in
captivity. They can live a year without food and eat insects, spiders, other scorpions and
lizards. They also eat small mammals, such as mice.
They glow in the dark except when newly moulted. Scorpion fossils still fluoresce, despite spending
hundreds of millions of years embedded in rock.
They are famously venomous. However of the nearly 2,000 known species of scorpions, only 25
have venom powerful enough to be 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
The Scorpio Zodiac Personality
Like the other water signs, Cancer
and Pisces, Scorpio is considered clairvoyant, or at least,
keenly intuitive. But Scorpio has far greater intensity. This is water behaving
as steam, while not overlooking the venom of its sting.
Scorpio rules the eighth sign of the zodiac, to do with Birth, Sex and Death. No wonder the subjects can be intense, and they are often 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, while less conscientious Scorpio subjects may make use of this to their advantage, and drop friends whom they no longer see as useful. But combined with their intense determination and loyalty where they decide to accord it, Scorpios can make great leaders, scientist, and devoted doctors. They are quick learners, very adaptable, often changing careers, going down new paths.
Scorpio can be vengeful…and patient, but also devoted, and they never forget a kindness either.
Most of us know our sign of the zodiac or sun sign, but where did get its name from, and what does it look like in the night sky? Read on for the story of Libra…
(seek to) Balance
Lower back, buttocks, kidneys
September birthdays. Opal- October birthdays
Number: 6 (community, childhood)
Domain: Justice from the Rider-Waite Tarot
Libra (and I say Lee-bra too, like most people, but technically, it is correctly pronounced Ly-bra as in Library) is a small but distinct constellation next to the constellation Virgo in the evening sky. It looks like a lopsided diamond, or a small child’s drawing of a house, and is visible in the northern hemisphere between April and July.
Libra is most visible directly overhead at midnight in June, and is 29th in size of the 88 constellations.
Public Domain: Libra
Libra is bordered by the head of Serpens to the north, Virgo to the northwest, Hydra (the biggest known constellation of all) to the southwest, Lupus to the south, Scorpius to the east and the serpent bearer, Ophiuchus to the northeast.
Libra, like Cancer, is fairly faint from Earth in comparison with other constellations, and contains no spectacular first magnitude stars, but it contains a very old galaxy cluster, possibly around 10 billion years old, which is about the same age as our The Milky Way, our own galaxy.
There is a red dwarf star ,Gliese 581, in this galaxy, with three orbiting planets, one of which may possibly be suitable for life. This system is about 20 light years from Earth.
Libra used to be regarded, not as a constellation in its own right, but as part of neighbouring Scorpio and Virgo. This legacy remains in the names of its brightest stars. The brightest star in Libra is a binary star about 77 light years from Earth. α Librae. Its common name is Zubenelgenubi, meaning “the Southern Claw” in Arabic. The second-brightest star in the constellation of Libra is β Librae, known as Zubeneschamali, from the Arabic for “The Northern Claw.”
Public Domain: the Scorpionic Scales, from
Since 2002, technically, the Sun has actually appeared in the constellation of Libra from October 31 to November 22. But signs of the zodiac are not dependent on the positions of the actual constellations. Western or tropical astrology, which is based on seasonal phenomena, not the actual positions of the constellations, which remain the basis of Eastern or Sidereal astrology.
The Sun did used to be in the constellation of Libra at the northern autumnal equinox (c. September 23) to on or about October 23, when the hours of night and daylight were the same- hence the Libran key concept of natural balance, and the change of the seasons is still marked by the first days of the zodiac sign of Libra, 23 September.
But Western or Tropical astrology was designed as a construct based on arithmetic, not on current astronomy. The signs of the zodiac were inspired, modelled and named according to the heavenly bodies, but actually based on seasonal phenomena, these being presented as an arithmetic model, dividing into 12 pieces of a pie, the circle of the visible skies of the zodiac as seen from Earth, as calculated by the Greek mathematician, astronomer and astrologer Ptolemy in the 2C AD.
Mythology and History
Libra was once
included as part of Scorpio, and was known in Babylonian astronomy as MUL
Zibanu (the “scales” or “balance”) with an
alternative name, the Claws of the Scorpion. In ancient Greece Libra was also
seen as the Scorpion’s Claws.
The scales were held sacred to the Babylonian sun god Shamash, who was also the patron of truth and justice, and ever 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, also known as 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, Roman judges were born under the sign of Libra. The Moon was said to be in Libra when Rome was founded, in a historical passage, which states “qua condita Roma.”
The start of Libra starts with the autumn equinox, when days and nights are almost of equal length, i.e. balanced, and Roman astrologers considered that the constellation of Libra represented the scales held by Astraea, the ‘star maiden,’ goddess of Justice and innocence. Astraea was a daughter of the Titans, god of dusk, and Eos, goddess of dawn. She dwelt on earth alongside humans during the Golden Age of Man, but the Iron Age dawned, bringing war and wickedness, and Astraea could not abide this, nor the injustice of the killing of the bull who pulled the plough, until, sometime during the Bronze Age, she left earth for the skies, where she transformed into the constellation Virgo.
Here is pause for thought. This is all rather confusing. We are discussing Libra, not Scorpio, not Virgo, but Libra is a subtle sign, a comparatively newly created one, pulled somewhat, and aspects of it shared between neighbouring Scorpio and Virgo.
The seasonal story is straightforward. Libra is the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere. But the mythos is complicated, due to the merging of several mythological personas, Babylonian, Greek and Roman. Astraea was also known as Dike, goddess of human justice (where Themis was goddess of natural justice) To the Romans she was Justitia. She was the protector of fair judgement, and continues embodied in the blindfolded figure of justice used in our own law courts today. Virgo and Libra go together, and so do Libra and Scorpio. This close relationship was echoed in the sky, where Libra, the symbolic representation of Dike, lies alongside Virgo. According to the myth, Astraea will one day return to Earth, bringing a new Golden Age.
The Libra Archetype
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, cruelty, nastiness,
and vulgarity, as they are naturally extremely civilised people. Born
diplomats, Libras try to cooperate and compromise with everyone around them to
create a tranquil atmosphere. They can sometimes be a little tiring to be with
as they are constantly re-assessing and adjusting their thinking, and can be
more changeable even than Gemini.
Public Domain: Venus, the ruler of
Libra, The Birth of Venus by Botticelli.
Libras may show negative Scorpio traits just the same as a Scorpio subject. They may be touchy, thin-skinned, and tend not to handle criticism as dispassionately as they dispense it. They like to be the centre of attention and may resent it when they are not. Libra can be jealous, moody, and an expert practitioner of passive aggression, or go further as the ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ – smoothly vengeful, or even ruthless.
But- lovely Libra. Smiling, civilised, smoothie side up, what’s not to like?
“The Virgin with her sheaf belongs to Ceres,” The Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD.
Virgo is known as a sun sign or sign of the Zodiac, but what does the constellation look like in the night sky, and what’s the seasonal story behind it? Let’s investigate Virgo, Corn- Goddess of the Zodiac, also known as Shala, Ishtar, Demeter, Ceres...
Date: August 23-September 22
Symbol: The Virgin
Quality: Mutable (Sagittarius and Pisces are also Mutable, suggesting these subjects are capable and versatile; and generally inclined to conform, going with the flow if it’s for the greater good.)
Ruling planet: Mercury (Travel and all forms of communication)
House: Sixth, ruling health, habits, and routines
Colour: green, white and yellow
Flowers: small bright flowers, clover, buttercup
Tarot card: The Hermit (introspection, perception, analysis, care for nature)
Source Wikipedia: The Hermit from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck
Virgo is the second-largest constellation in the sky after Hydra, and the largest constellation in the zodiac, located between Libra to the west and Leo to the east, and below the Big Dipper.
In the northern hemisphere, it is most visible in the evening sky in May- to late June. In the southern hemisphere, it can be seen in autumn and winter.
Find its brightest star, the brilliant-blue-white Spica, and you will work out the rest of Virgo with her feet pointing east.
It might seem a bit of a stretch, trying to picture a person from that photograph, but add in a few more of her stars, imagine her lounging, dangling a sheaf of wheat from one hand (Spica.)
And now you see her.
Author’s own image
Spica is a double star, brighter than our sun. Its name is from the Latin, meaning an ‘ear of grain’- or a sheaf of wheat.
It’s sometimes called ‘The Lonely One’ because it is so far from the others, and the astronomer and astrologer Ptolemy saw these stars as ruled by Venus and Mars respectively, mated together in a chaste, androgynous union, like the slightly remote purity of Virgo herself.
Vindemiatrix, ‘the Grape-Gatherer,’ seen at daylight, was once seen as a sign that now it was time to pick the grapes.
Galaxies: The Virgo Cluster
It’s mind-boggling to consider that our own Sun is just one star of the Milky Way, and the Milky Way is only one of a collection of galaxies known as The Local Group.
This contains three large spiral galaxies: the Milky Way, Andromeda, and the Triangulum Galaxy, and a few dozen dwarf galaxies. But The Local Group is just one member of the Virgo Cluster – a collection of 1200-2000 galaxies that stretch across 15 million light-years of space.
And the Virgo Cluster is just one cluster in the Virgo Supercluster.
Wiki Commons: the constellation of Virgo is especially rich in galaxies, with more than 1300 galaxies in the Virgo Cluster. One of these, NGC 4388, 60 million light-years away, is captured in this image, as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3.
But if the constellation of Virgo is most visible in May in the northern hemisphere, why are the birthdates for the sign of the zodiac August 23-September 22nd?
Astronomy is not Astrology. The sky as we see it is called the celestial sphere: a giant blue ball that rotates around us (its rotation axis crosses the poles). The Sun appears to move along with this sphere every day, rising in the East and setting in the West, but it also appears to move, in this sphere, at a one-degree-a-day pace, on the contrary direction (West-East).
This annual motion is on a circle called Ecliptic, a great circle in relation to the Equator.
Now imagine a belt around this circle. This is the Zodiac. Ptolemy divided this 360-degree belt by 12 for the elegance of arithmetic, based on 12 constellations described by the Babylonians, ignoring a thirteenth constellation, Ophiuchus, so that a zodiac sign represents roughly a 30-degree chunk of this belt.
But the constellations have moved in the last two thousand years, and changed positions relative to Earth, owing to wobbling of the Earth on its axis; an effect known as precession.
The dates for the zodiac signs named after the zodiacal constellations, however, have remained the same, but this great fact of astronomy does not affect the validity of the dates of your Zodiac Sun sign as calculated by Ptolemy.
The exact dates of the Zodiac signs can vary by a day or two each year and are calculated by astronomers every year at sunrise on the day of the Spring Equinox.
History & Mythology
Public Domain: Virgo: Urania’s Mirror
Shala was an ancient Sumerian deity (later Babylonia, the area now known as southern Iraq and Kuwait) She was the goddess of grain -and also compassion. Why link these two things? Famine is suffering. A good harvest was seen as a blessing of the gods. What is planted in the spring must yield a crop in the autumn, or famine is likely to follow. Shala was married either to the fertility god, Dagon, or the storm god, Ishkur, or possibly both, with one as her consort. This is significant. Virgo the Virgin is not about a state of physical virginity – but refers more to an attitude; a slightly elusive and rather refined quality, male or female.
Shala was associated with the constellation of Virgo, and vestiges of symbolism associated with her continue, such as the star Spica, the ‘ear of grain’, even as the deity’s name changed from age to age, and culture to culture.
In 10th century BC, the Babylonians called part of this constellation, “The Furrow,” referring back to the goddess Shala, and the Shala Mons is a mountain on Venus named after her.
In Egyptian mythology, the sight of Virgo in the night sky was also associated with harvest time, and with the goddess Isis, while in Indian astrology, she was The Maiden, Kanya.
To the Greeks, she was the harvest goddess Demeter, also called Ceres, (the root of the word ‘cereal’) and also by association, her beloved daughter, Persephone.
When Hades abducted Persephone to live with him in the underworld, Demeter went into mourning. There was no harvest that year. People and livestock starved and Zeus, the king of gods, eventually intervened, insisting that Hades return Persephone to Demeter. But Zeus also stipulated that Persephone must not eat until her return, and Hades, not wanting to part with her, gave Persephone a pomegranate, knowing fine well how much she liked them, and she ate some of the seeds on her way home.
So Persephone went home to her mother, but because of the pomegranate she has to return to the underworld for four months every year, and then Demeter grieves; winter returns, and the land sleeps.
The Virgo Archetype – Personality
Virgos are practical but artistically gifted. They are hard workers who love to better themselves. They love to analyze, and their perceptiveness means that they can always find or create order within chaos. They are honest friends although, being extra discerning, and analytical, they might have a tendency to analyze you, pointing out your strengths and also your mistakes and weaknesses. This will probably be annoying, very, but it’s usually well-meant. They may also give great advice because of those same analytical abilities.
Their quest of self-improvement includes their appearance. They are perfectionists, highly concerned about the impression they give, but at the same time, they are very ready to help others, which can make them targets of those who wish to take advantage of them. Virgo is ruled by agile, communicative Mercury, and Virgo’s brain is in overdrive much of the time. These folks can do great things and get a lot done – if they don’t lose sight of the original vision, and get overly bogged down in non-important detail.
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.
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.
Alight on chance
To Lionise again
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.
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.
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?
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
Tarot card: The Chariot (see how it is like a shell?) Control, progress, teamwork, and the harmonizing of different elements.
Public Domain: The Chariot, Rider-Waite
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?