Summer Solstice, and the Starry Crab in the Celestial Seas

Cancer by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 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?

Common associations

The pincers: Zodiac symbol of Cancer

Ruling heavenly body: Moon

Key phrase: I feel

Body: The chest, breast

Birth Stone:  Stones and metals fall under the rule of planets, not signs, but through its association with the Moon, Cancer has symbolic 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 a shell?) Drive, control, progress, self discipline, teamwork, and the harmonizing of different elements.

The Chariot, Rider-Waite Tarot

The Astronomy

Wiki

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 of brightness: Acubens (The Claw) and Al Tarf (The Foot)

Cancer is visible in the Northern Hemisphere in early spring, in March at 9 PM and in the Southern Hemisphere is seen 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 really, it doesn’t look much like a crab, more like a faint, upside-down Y that has been compared with a crayfish or lobster. It was actually called the Crayfish in classical astrology, and in Egyptian astrology they called it The Scarab.

Whatever its name, it’s always been pictured as a creature with an exoskeleton; an arthropod, and it is said that Cancer appears to rise in the zodiac as if with a crab-wise movement, not sideways, but ascending backwards.

The Sun’s entry into Cancer announces the summer solstice. ‘Solstice,’ from the Latin sol stice means the Sun seems to be ‘standing still’ as it approaches this point.

However, although Cancer may be faint it’s got one heck of a star cluster glowing at its centre. Praesepe or ‘The Manger’ was identified in 1771 by French astronomer Charles Messier.

Its modern name is M44 or The Beehive Cluster. 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

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

I knew a soul who descended through the Gate of Men and ascended again through the Gate of The Gods the same day, the day of the solstice, 1993. He stayed in this world one hour and twenty five minutes, and then he gave just one little tiny sigh and left. A baby soul, his name was Rowen, and he was our son, and always will be, as long as light lasts. He arrived as a first decan Cancer subject, but came early, and should have come later, in Virgo season.

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, 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 is thought not likely.

The Myth

In classical mythology Cancer is associated with the Twelve Labours of Hercules/Herakles after he went mad, mistook his wife and children for monsters and killed them. He undertook the Labours in penance.

The second of his great challenges was to kill the Hydra, a terrible water serpent but his enemy, Hera, who had always hated Herakles as the illegitimate son (yet another one) of her husband Zeus, sent a crab to harass him while he was fighting. The crab faithfully did its very best, nipping Hercules again and again, but he stepped on it and crushed it beneath his heel, or in other versions of the story, killed it with his club.

Look at that crab, getting right stuck in. Go on, crab! Give him a nip. That’ll larn him. Heracles was always a loose cannon. He terribly wounded Chiron, killed his music teacher in a tantrum and killed his own wife and children in a fit of madness for which Hera got the blame.

Hera rewarded the Crab’s loyalty by placing it in the heavens, but she placed it in a dark portion of the heavens with only faint stars because crabs need dark, quiet places to feel safe and at home.

This quiet celestial location however, happens to be the highest point in the zodiac, nearest to heaven, and The Crab is the star of the show, and the humble herald of the glory of the summer solstice.

The Astrology

Cancer is the fourth sign of the Zodiac, representing 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. Cancer is uniquely both 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

There is of course no such thing in reality as THE Cancer personality. Your zodiac sign or as it is also known, your sun sign is a major keynote, but it’s not the whole story. You are a unique personality.

The archetype stands, however, and 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. Cancer famously adores babies and small animals, all wild things and does very well with them. The empty nest can be anathema to the Cancer parent.

Cancer is often musical or artistic, but also has a strong scholarly bent, and many Cancer subjects are drawn into the fields of teaching, counselling, psychology and behaviour sciences.

By Rose Maynard Barton

Cancer is the sign of hearth and home, and expanding this; the wider tribal or national identity, and our ancestral legacy, historical, cultural and genetic.

It is the sign of memory, nostalgia, sometimes regrets, and a longing to return to happy childhood haunts. A garden, a meadow, a walk we used to go. A bucket and spade at the seaside if we were lucky. Maybe a dabble in a rock-pool.

The Decans of Cancer

Each zodiac sign is 30 days long and is divided into three Decans of approximately 10 days each, with slight variations possible year on year. 

Decan 1 21 June-1 July

Cancer-Cancer, ruler The Moon

Tarot card: Two of Cups

From The Legacy of The Divine Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

This is the decan of love or friendship between equals, and the Two of Cups is an especially fortunate and benevolent card. Cancer Decan 1 will fight hard for its loved ones, and will also stick up for the underdog.

They may be a bit of a do-gooder or something of an activist, wanting to pass across that cup as shown in the Tarot.

Cancer decan 1 is also, not only enigmatic and something of a dreamer or even a mystic, but a natural born astronomer, and watcher of the moonlight skies, as are all the decans of Cancer.

Decan 2 2 -11 July

Cancer-Scorpio, ruler Mars (traditional ruler) or Pluto (modern ruler)

Tarot card: Three of Cups

From The Legacy of The Divine Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

They like to be left in peace but not to be left alone. The subjects of this decan get stronger as they get older which may seem obvious but which is not universally true of all people, but they are resilient and of the three decans of Cancer, this is the decan with the reputation for bouncing back most readily. They are generally sensible about money, good with finances, reliable and trustworthy, helpful to their relations, but they expect the same in return, and do not easily forgive or forget a slight. They have a reputation for holding grudges. Feast and famine, exotic blooms, hot house flowers.

Photo by Jacub Gomez on Pexels.com

Decan 3 12 -21 July

Cancer-Pisces, ruler Jupiter (traditional ruler) or Neptune (modern ruler)

Tarot Card: Four of Cups

From The Legacy Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

The figure in the Four of Cups has a rich inner life, and may be something of a visionary, but may from time to time feel restless and dissatisfied, bored by mundane realities yet unsure what to do about it, while haunted by the sense there is somewhere else they should be, something else they should be doing. As with Pisces, physical energy levels can be quite variable, and this too is reflected in the card.

Cancer 3 decan is traditionally understood as the moodiest of the crabs. Dedicated and devoted to their loved ones, they may all the same be unapproachable at times. They need to feel family around them, they really do, but they also need plenty of outlets.

Read HERE about the health and constitutional makeup of Cancer.

They are, well, somewhat crabby at times, but deeply humane, kindly, reliable and trustworthy, and they sparkle in company, attracting admiration- when they choose. Reclusive at times, but they never lose a certain sense of fun.

Photo by Emma Bauso on Pexels.com

Until next time 🙂

All that’s airy, all that flies …it’s time again for Gemini…

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are born into a particular season. We are children of that season and its environmental characteristics. The light and the length of those days, the warmth or the cold, the dry or the damp, the things that are growing, or not. What food there would be to eat if there was no such thing as a supermarket.

The symbology of the zodiac signs are all rooted in the seasons of Nature here on earth. The only sign not directly symbolic of a real, living thing in Nature is the newest sign historically speaking, Libra, the Scales, symbolic of Justice. An abstract concept, though again, this could be viewed as representative of the concept of, on the one hand, natural justice, and on the other, the ever shifting tides and balance of nature.

The sign of Gemini is airy Nature on the wing. Fledglings are launching. Baby waterfowl are on the swim; ducklings, goslings, cygnets, coots and moorhens. Birds, bees and butterflies are foraging, and as they go from tree to tree, and bloom to bloom, cross-pollinating. The pollen too, is on the wing. The air is typically high in moisture in Gemini season, supporting all these processes.

Atishoo, for some it’s a case of here comes the hayfever. This is traditionally an Achilles heel for the natives of Gemini.

Photo by Lisa A on Pexels.com

Gemini is a mutable air sign, meaning it segues into the next season, early summer. Cardinal fire sign Aries is instigation, winter-spring, Taurus is realization, spring-spring, Gemini is emergent mutable spring-summer.

Gemini associations

Ruling planet: Mercury – ‘on the move/the word is out.’

Affirmation: ‘I think, I inquire.’

Body: Lungs, arms, hands, fingers, nervous system.

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, green, pink, white

Tree: all kinds of nut trees

Flower: Lily of the Valley, Lavender

Tarot cards: Gemini has two cards associated with it: most typically, The Lovers (love, choices, decision-making) But also The Magician. Tarot readers tend to focus on the duality represented by the Lovers card, but I’ll also be making reference to Gemini as the mercurial Magician.

From The Rider-Waite Tarot deck

Astronomy

Gemini via Wiki

The two bright stars on the left are the heads of the twins, their bodies standing or lying parallel. The brighter, reddish Pollux is on the bottom, or on the left, depending how you may be viewing them.

The Zodiac, from the Greek meaning the Wheel or Circle of the Animals, is the name for the area of sky we see from Earth, including the apparent paths of the sun, moon and planets.

Some of these planets were of course not discovered when the 48 constellations of the ancient zodiac were listed by the mathematician and astronomer, Ptolemy, in the 2 century AD. Today there are 88 listed constellations including the 12 constellations of the zodiac as included in the system of western Tropical astrology.

Ptolemy called the Gemini constellation The Star of Apollo (Castor) and The Star of Heracles (Pollux).

Gemini is the northernmost constellation in the zodiac, the thirtieth largest in size. It is prominent in the winter skies of the northern Hemisphere and is visible all night, December–January, seen by the naked eye, looking north east of the constellation Orion between the Taurus and Cancer constellations. Best viewing is during February. During April and May you might see it, looking west soon after sunset, looking out for the two brightest stars, Castor and Pollux, representing the heads of the twins from Greek mythology, while fainter stars outline their bodies.

To find Castor and Pollux, look eastward from the Hyades, a V shaped asterism ( star cluster) which makes up the head of Taurus The Bull, or again, look east from the three stars of Orion’s Belt

Gemini Wiktionary.jpg
The constellation Gemini via Wiktionary gives its name to the sign of the zodiac

Pollux, the westerly twin, is an orange-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 – 6 trillion miles/9.6 trillion kilometres.

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

Ancient History

The concept of twins has been addressed in mythology, and artifacts discovered dating back to the so-called Age of Gemini, during the Palaeolithic era, 6, 500 BCE, a response to actual twin births, no doubt at all, and a general reading of the world, understood in terms of a duality fundamental to the nature of reality.

There are male and female twins, standing for night and day, light and dark, heat and cold, male and female, war and peace, good and bad, life and death. Many creation myths reflect this eternal dynamic or battle of seeming opposites. Some societies have viewed twins as a blessing, others have regarded them as an added burden on resources in times of scarcity – or even as a supernatural threat. Article

Recently in the news via Archaeology Magazine, a sad but fascinating discovery, “Two baby boys, whose bodies were covered in red ochre and buried under a mammoth bone about 31,000 years ago in what is now northeastern Austria, are the earliest known identical twins.”

The babies were born full term but one died at about 14 weeks,it is thought, while the other lived to 6-7 months. They were buried with grave goods, one baby with a necklace of evenly matched mammoth ivory beads, the other with a necklace of molluscs. More HERE

Castor and Pollux

The names of the Gemini, the Heavenly Twins are Castor and Pollux.

Castor comes from the Greek Καστωρ (Kastor) meaning “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)  meaning “very sweet.”

Gemini brings us the first honey and strawberries, and the full moon of June is nicknamed The Strawberry Moon.

Photo by Taner Soyler on Pexels.com

Pollux and Helen were immortal, fathered by Zeus, while Castor and Clytemnestra were mortal, fathered by Tyndareus. The circumstances of their birth were unusual to say the least. Queen Leda of Sparta was seduced by Zeus, who had somehow disguised himself as a swan and when we say seduced, that is was putting it politely. He glided up preening while she was bathing and then pounced on her. Later that evening, and one can’t help wondering about this, given the trauma she’d just experienced, 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.)

castor-pollux-porcelain.jpg
Public Domain; the young Castor and Pollux by Meissen

The mortal Castor was a renowned horseman and a master at fencing, while the immortal Pollux was known for his superhuman strength and skill at boxing. They travelled with Jason on the Argo on the quest for the Golden Fleece (and here we cross over into the Hellenistic mythos of the zodiac sign of Aries the Ram)

But then Castor was killed in a quarrel, a disagreement over dividing the spoils after a cattle raid (Hello again, dear zodiac Bull, Taurus, we are afraid you came off worse that time.)

Pollux was distraught.  He didn’t want immortality, not if it meant being without Castor and he begged his father, Zeus, to kill him so he could go to join his brother in the Underworld Kill me Dad, he said. Zeus said, er, give me time to think about this, son, and scratched his beard, wondering how to fix it, and finally resolved to place them both in the stars, to be together forever as the constellation Gemini.

No need to kill Pollux, Zeus just skipped that step and took the pair of them sky high.

Worship

The Greeks worshiped the twins as gods who helped travellers and shipwrecked sailors.

The Romans developed a cult around Castor and Pollux dating back to 484 B.C. They considered Castor and Pollux the patron gods of horses, and therefore, patron gods of the Roman mounted knights; the equites, and Castor and Pollux appear as such on many early Roman coins. The Romans built a temple to the twins in the Roman Forum in 414 BC in thanks for their ‘help’ in defeating the in the battle of Regillus at Lake Regillus in Frascati, between the newly founded Roman Republic and The Latin League, led by the aged former king of Rome, Tarquin (Lucius Tarquinius Superbus.)

The Republic won, finally ending the attempts of Tarquin and his son Titus, to re-take the throne. More Here

John Reinhard Weguelin (1849 to 1927)- Scan of Illustration from book “The Lays of Ancient Rome.” Woodcut from Engraving


The Gemini Archetype in real life

The zodiac signs deal in archetypes, as do the 78 cards of a Tarot deck. Every person is a unique individual with a unique natal planetary profile, their sun sign, moon sign, rising sign etc, paint a more detailed picture, as do astrological transits and aspects, but the natal sun sign sets the tone.

The Magician card in the Tarot deck is the card of Number One, ‘me, myself and I’, and is associated with Mercury, planet of communications, trade, and commerce, the ruling planet of Gemini.

The Magician from the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

Gemini is ‘mercurial’, restless, intellectually agile, 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, above average height, with tidy features in an oval face. Classic Gemini subjects are lively, agile, sparkling, charming, chatty and inquisitive, though not necessarily easy to get to know. Gemini may dart in and out, or lose interest and switch off without warning. Gemini introduces, rather than unites.

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 can seem flighty; careless, even ruthless, dropping people and projects once they lose interest, which Gemini can do quite suddenly. But once committed, they are intensely loyal to their friends and loved ones. Gemini is mostly fairly peaceable, but it’s brave and and tough Taurus mostly gets the rap for this, Gemini is capable of obstinacy, even mulishness. These subjects don’t shy away from saying what they think, and of course, they think plenty, though whether they always did the research, or whether or not they double- check everything, is just now and then another question.

The Decans of The Zodiac

Each zodiac sign can be investigated in more depth by exploring the decans. Each sign may be subdivided into three decans, each with a different planetary sub-ruler, and each relating to approximately 10 days and 10 degrees of the wheel of the zodiac.

The Decans of Gemini

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

First Decan (May 22nd- 31st) Gemini-Gemini. Sub-ruler Mercury

The first decan of any zodiac sign is considered the most typical. The first decan of Gemini is ruled by Mercury, the overall ruler of the sign and Gemini is the zodiac third house of communications. The Gemini- Gemini decan is mentally acute, whether or not they are academically inclined. They are agile, adaptable, but it’s not so simple, and at their core they are operating from a belief system from which they do not depart. It might be religion. It might be some ethical question, such as animal husbandry, politics or the environment. This decan typically has good looks and personal charisma…and they are great explorers, not just in terms of physical travel. But once they commit, they commit. They also believe there is a right way and a wrong way of doing things -and they act on it.

Tarot card: The Eight of Swords.

To know the minor arcana Tarot card associated with a zodiac decan can help with timings in a reading, when a reader is trying to narrow down a potential date range.

Second Decan (June 1-10) Gemini-Libra. Sub-ruler Venus

Libra, the sub-ruler of this decan is – natural ruler of the zodiac seventh house of marriage, partnerships, close associates, associations, and legal matters. Where Decan 1 Gemini may say ‘I am’, the smooth and friendly second Decan is likely to say, ‘Me too’. They too have personal charisma, and they have an adventurous streak, but to thrive they also need things around them to be calm and secure. The nature is warm, possibly at times even effusive, and people generally respond well, but their choice of life partner is best not made when they are very young, and though they relish novelty, they may be happiest with someone who is steady and practical, averse to any avoidable drama.

Tarot card: The Nine of Swords

Third Decan (June 11-21) Aquarius-Gemini. Sub-ruler Uranus (ancient ruler Saturn)

Aquarius – natural ruler of the zodiac eleventh house of friends, hopes, and wishes-inclines the Decan 3 Gemini to very much a social type, a friend-oriented individual, amusing, quirky, yet rational, somewhat detached.  Uranus, planet of knowledge, combines with Mercury gives Gemini-Aquarius clear and perceptive reasoning powers and a desire to change things for the better.  Uranus is also however, the planet of upheaval and rebellion. Third Decan Gemini is classically the most independent-natured decan of Gemini. Not easily persuaded themselves; they have great gifts of persuasion.

Tarot card: The Ten of Swords

Also to watch for this Gemini season 2021…

There will be a Super Blood Moon Eclipse on May 26, 2021, a rare celestial event. If the skies are clear we may see a Super Full Moon which will appear bigger than usual in the night sky, and turn red as it is eclipsed by the shadow of the earth. Blood Moon Eclipses get their name due to the reddish hue the Moon takes on during a total eclipse

The Super Blood Moon Eclipse on May 26, 2021, is a rare celestial event. On this night, the Super Full Moon will appear bigger than usual in the night sky, and turn reddish as it is eclipsed by the shadow of the earth.

Blood Moon Eclipses get their name due to the reddish hue the Moon takes on when there is a total eclipse. Western astrology says this Full Moon will be in Sagittarius, House of far travel, exploration and higher learning. Vedic astrologers say it will be in watery Scorpio. Intense.

In terms of Sagittarius, one may aim an arrow but still not control where it lands.

In ancient astrological terms, eclipses represent things coming to the surface. They were traditionally associated with extreme weather events, feelings running high at home, and tensions amplified in matters of state and power on the global stage. As if anyone is going to welcome that prospect, but we are talking here in terms of ancient associations, not predictions.

The ‘medicine’ according to the ancients, was to work with a Blood Moon, leaning into any challenges, but without inflaming them, and to pace oneself until the cavalry arrived. In 2021 this comes 10 June 2021 in the shape of the approaching beneficent solar eclipse (still in Gemini season.)

May it bring good things, just let’s keep our cool, and go a little easy with everything around 26 May.

Until next time 🙂

Pisces the Heavenly Fishes, the seasons in the stars, the reasons in the signs

 

Chartres cathedral window, early 13 th century, photo by Vassil

Most of us know our zodiac sign but what does it look like in the night sky, and what’s the story behind it? Let’s get better acquainted with Pisces.

Common associations

Symbol:

Zodiac Sign placement: 12th and last sign, completing the wheel of the zodiac year

Date of Birth: 18/19 Feb to 20/21 March. Variable cusp depending on the leap year cycle

Ruling planet: Neptune (before Neptune’s official discovery in 1846 it was Jupiter)

Element: Water

Quality: Mutable – versatile, the ending of one season and the beginning of another

Lucky Days: Monday and Thursday

Energy: Yin -receptive

Key phrase: I believe (as in the ‘Fishers of men’, early Christianity adopted a fish as its symbol)

Body: Feet, eyes, bladder

Birth Stone:  Aquamarine especially, but also amethyst, ruby, bloodstone and jasper. Brazil is one of the best sources for this stone. Aquamarine (meaning ‘the water of the sea’) is a blue variety of beryl where Emerald is a green beryl. The aquamarine is a hexagonal crystal structure, sometimes confused with blue topaz, and was traditionally believed to enhance foresight and clairvoyance, and a sense of happiness, with the power to repel evil – or help you talk to the Devil (I wouldn’t give the bugger the time of day, personally)

Aquamarine-Wiki

Tarot card: The Moon

Meanings: The Moon, literally, Mondays, tides, cycles, ebb and flow, feminine cycles, fertility, instinct, wildlife, walking on the wild side, hunting, fishing, visionary capabilities, psychics, ghosts, visions, dreams, delusions, madness, contamination, fever, food poisoning, uncertainty, danger, confusions with documentation, risks in travel.

The Gilded Tarot Royale, artist Ciro Marchetti

Note the wolves, hunting and howling by the light of the full moon, and the spawning crab, though this is often depicted as a crayfish instead, as in the Rider -Waite decks.

The minor arcana cards associated with Pisces are the 8, 9 and 10 Cups, ranging in interpretation from the melancholy to the sublime.

The 8 of Cups says you were ready to offer devotion. A door stayed shut, but you have learned something of value, not least about where you belong. Do not wait overlong outside any door that fails to open. The world is wide, new horizons beckon. Walk away, not looking back in anger.

The 9 of Cups is truth, grace, happiness-the Grail, and heart-felt wishes may be granted

The 10 of Cups is home sweet home, arrival.

The Astronomy

There are 88 constellations registered with NASA. The 12 that have constellations given their names to the zodiac signs in Western or Tropical astrology have their earliest known origins in the ancient Indo-European civilizations located at the latitude 36 degrees north and 30 minutes. Other constellations were named later, many of these later ones by Greek navigators.

Pisces, the Latin plural of fish is a large but rather faint constellation, the 14th largest constellation overall, covering a large V shaped region in the part of the sky known as The Sea or The Water, possibly named by the Mesopotamians because they had learned to associate the appearance overhead of these heavenly bodies with their rainy seasons; Aquarius, Capricornus (the Mer-Goat).

Capricorn signifies the ibex and its mating season which starts in December, but it also has an ancient Sumerian origin story associated with it, where the goats came out of the sea to climb to the mountains, leaving behind the father of all the goats, a solitary mer-goat who was promoted to the skies.

So these three zodiac signs, Capricorn Aquarius and Pisces may have come to represent predictive seasonal co-ordinates for the rainy months at the thirty sixth Parallel, 36 and half degrees north.

The vernal equinox currently occurs during Pisces, 19-21 March, the astronomical marker of the start of spring.

Pisces is represented as two fish swimming at right angles to each other, one to the north and one to the west and attached by a cord and are usually depicted as koi.

Its stars are faint — none brighter than fourth magnitude — and hard to see with the naked eye. But its brightest star, Eta Piscium, also known as Alpherg or Kullat Nunu, is a bright giant star (G class) 294 light-years from Earth and has a luminosity 316 times greater that of the sun.

Kullat Nunu is its Babylonian name. ‘Nunu’ means ‘fish’ and ‘kullat’ is a bucket.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Pisces second brightest star is a yellow giant about 130 light-years from Earth, Gamma Piscium. Alpha Piscium is the third brightest star in Pisces, and is made up of a pair of white dwarf stars in close proximity. Its other name is Alrescha (“the cord.”) and marks the spot where it appears that the tails of the two fish are joined or tied together.

The best time to see Pisces in the Northern Hemisphere is 9 PM between 6-9 November looking below the Square of Pegasus.

History and Mythology

The first spawning of most freshwater fish starts in the spring, from late March onward, but, depending on latitude and therefore temperature, some species may spawn from as soon as late February onward, and in the warmer Indus, this surely played its part in the rationale for the astronomical calendar slot historically allocated to Pisces the heavenly fish.

Pisces represents the principle of THE THAW, THE MELT. Fish may rise again to the top to feed. Frogs and Toads will spawn.

If you want to insult a Pisces subject, call them a MELT (but first, ask yourself if you are really sure about this.)

The fish of Pisces are attached by a cord of stars, just as life and death are conjoined and cannot be separated. Pisces is not only the last sign of winter, moving into spring; it is the last sign of the whole zodiac year, the culmination of all the signs that came before it.

The western signs of the zodiac are thought to origin from about 2900-2700 BC, emerging among the peoples living at 36 and a half degrees latitude. The 36th Parallel.

Click here to see the regions involved.

This latitude was the cradle of Indo-European civilization (you will also see that the 36 Parallel was of key symbolic significance to the American Civil War) Younger, later constellations that were not adopted as zodiac signs were often named for maritime navigational purposes, many of them by the Greeks.

The Egyptians

“It (Pisces) is one of the earliest zodiac signs on record, with the two fish appearing as far back as c. 2300  BC on an Egyptian coffin lid ” -(Wiki)

The two fish of the constellation Pisces were the offspring of the Great Fish. In Egyptian mythology, this fish saved the life of the Egyptian goddess Isis and she placed this fish and its descendants into the heavens as a star constellation.

India

In Hindu mythology Matsya is an manifestation or avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu the Preserver who rescued the first man, Manu from a great deluge. (…and here we are again, back to the great flood stories of Aquarius) The Matsya may be depicted as a giant golden fish or as a merman, half- fish half humanoid Lord Vishnu.

Vishnu is the second god in the Hindu holy trinity (Trimurti) This triumvirate consists of three gods who are responsible for the creation, upkeep and destruction of the world, Brahma was the Maker,god of creation and passion, Vishnu, the face of light and preservation, and Shiva, the face of the dark, and destruction.

Wiki

Greece

Pisces is often represented as a pair of koi carp. and the reason for this comes from Greek mythology. To the ancient Greeks, the fish were the goddess Aphrodite and her son, Eros, who were out walking by the Euphrates one day when a terrible monster, Typhon, suddenly rose up out of the water.

This monster had been terrorizing the gods of Olympus ever since the war with the Titans. Typhon was a Titan, a son of Gaia, and he hated the gods of Olympus as invaders and upstarts, the new kids of the block who had overthrown and dispossessed his own, more ancient race of Titans. He was as tall as the heavens and his eyes shot flames. Instead of fingers, he had 100 dragon’s heads sprouting from his hands -for which one could read ‘flames’ or magma.

None of the Olympians had the power to destroy Typhon, or confront him, not alone. For a time, all they could do was avoid him or flee for their lives, which they often did by transforming themselves into animals, and Aphrodite and Eros, in this case, transformed themselves into two fish (koi) and swam away.

The work of John Flamsteed the first Astronomer Royal. Image from the Atlas Coelestis, posthumously published by John Flamsteed, 1729, illustrator John Thornhill.

Ultimately, Zeus imprisoned the terrible Typhon beneath Mount Etna…but Zeus didn’t deal with him for good. He couldn’t, not even Zeus, and Typhon is still very alive down there and pretty disgruntled. A deeply alarming spectacle, as we have seen on the news these last few days, as of 16 February 2021 and there have been a number of related astrological and psychic prognostications, talking about such seismic activity as a potentially major global influence in 2021.

Rome and Early Christianity

Early Christians used the Fish as a symbol of their faith…and called the TWELVE apostles of Christ the Fishers of Men (Pisces as the twelfth sign.

The secret code name for Jesus- Yeshua Ben Joseph- was Ichthys

The so- called Age of Pisces began 1 AD and- depending on your source, will end in 2150 when we enter the so-called Age of Aquarius, though some astrologers say we are already in that Age. The Age of Pisces saw the rise of the Monotheistic religions, Christianity and Islam. The Age of Aquarius is supposedly a secular age, all about technology and collectivism.

Read more about the astrological ages HERE

But religion shows no sign of going away. Islam is currently on the rise in the west, Christianity on the wane, with vacuums filled by socio-political ideological transmutations of the religious instinct, and in another two thousand or so years, it will be succeeded by another ‘earthy’ chapter – a new Age of Capricorn. (This thing works ‘retrograde’, working backwards through the zodiac signs)

The Astrological Personality

From The Golden Tarot, by Kat Black

In Tarot, whether the subject is male of female, Pisces is embodied as The Knight of Cups. In Arthurian legend this would be Sir Percival or in later versions of the legend, Sir Galahad. This knight is a champion of the underdog, a protector, a lover, a bearer of grace and the healing chalice.

In a Tarot reading this generally translates as a happy situation, a new friend, an admirer, possibly a marriage proposal, news of a baby on the way, or a job offer or other good news is coming soon, and your cup ‘runneth over’.

Of course there is no such thing in reality as THE Pisces 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, least of all in astrology. There is far more than just the sun sign in your own personal chart. You can find this out for yourself by looking up your own chart free online (obviously just be careful re spam etc).

Pisces combines imagination with the determination of a salmon fighting upriver, although, depending on the decanate, there may a certain quite marked passivity, even inertia. This may actually serve them very well at times, but could in some cases degenerate into darkness involving depression, alcohol or other substance misuse.

These individuals are talented natural artists, writers or musicians. They are famously loyal once committed, compassionate and sensitive. They adapt with ease, are spontaneous and full of surprises, but while their steel may be hidden, all the same, it is there. Not much is said about this scaly Pisces steel. They can be tough, even hard in a quiet way. They may not say much but watch the face harden, and cross the line once too often, you are gone, and that is it.

Where they demonstrate a lack of proper consideration for others, or undue stubbornness, it is not due to lack of goodwill, but they are not paying attention, too focused on their inner preoccupations.

Photo by Laura Porter on Pexels.com

Pisces needs variety, and structure must allow them room for a degree of autonomy. Desk based work, although Pisces can certainly do it, is not really their thing.

Pisces can make excellent and approachable team leaders with a reputation for loyalty to their staff. Passing the buck is not their style. They will take on injustice, take on those senior in status, but Pisces, unlike, say Aquarius, acts on an individual basis. Group actions, campaigns or crusades do not sit with their temperament, except just possibly for early Pisces, born on the Aquarius cusp. Later subjects, born close to the Aries cusp 20/21 April, are very much the ‘doers’ of Pisces.

Pisces is as brave as it is kind but these water sign denizens need to guard their physical energy. It can be erratic, and once depleted, is not always easily restored. If they are prone to headaches at the back of the head, there may be related bladder infections or other issues.

The Decans of Pisces

Each zodiac sign contains three decans, blocks of ten days or so, each with a different planetary ruler.

Pisces Decan 1 February 19 to February 28 (approximately) is ruled by Neptune. Those born within this decan will present as typical Pisces. Seldom aggressive or offensive, they conduct themselves with kindness and courtesy and very reasonably expect the same in return. Neptune, planet of illusion, is both their ruler and sub-ruler, emphasizing their imaginative capabilities. Pisces-Pisces readily connects with other people on an unconscious level, almost as if hearing what they are thinking, and able to anticipate their next moves, but they are likely to take a lot of detours before finding their own sense of direction. Tarot card: The Eight of Cups

Pisces Decan 2 March 1 to March 10 (approximately) The sub-influences for this decan are Cancer/MOON. Cancer – natural ruler of the fourth house of home base, family, and security – may keep them very close to family members, whether this is a positive or negative influence. They often bear a striking physical resemblance to a parent and may struggle to loosen break parental ties and become independent, but they must, if they are to develop their own potential, and often they are warm, well- balanced emotionally, cultured, artistically gifted, with charm and a keen sense of humour, from the zany to the dark or possible ingenious. They need plenty of quiet time alone. Tarot card: The Nine of Cups

Pisces Decan 3 March 11-March 20. A thinker, possibly even a visionary, the very last decan of all in the wheel of the zodiac year is a FINISHER. They are energetic, symbolized by the Mars influence on Scorpio.Pisces-Scorpio has an intensely practical side and often well-developed technical or scientific skills. They need activities, outlets for their physical energy and it matters a lot to them helping other people. This decan is considered fated to an unusual degree, and one day a calling may come to them in the form of a great challenge. Tarot card: The Ten of Cups

Famous Pisces in history

Michelangelo, Amerigo Vespucci, Copernicus, Vivaldi, Handel, George Washington, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Albert Einstein, Nat King Cole, Elizabeth Taylor, Nina Simone, Harold Wilson, Yuri Gagarin, Sidney Poitier, Steve Irwin.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

‘No man is an island’. Yes we are. Islands in archipelagos.

But there are boats.

Until next time 🙂

Season of Sagittarius, culture vulture and celestial archer of the sinking sun

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Common associations

Symbol:

Date of Birth: Nov 22 to Dec 21

Ruling planet: Jupiter

Element: Fire

Key phrase:  I seek

Body: Thighs

Birth Stone: Topaz, Citrine, Turquoise 

Colour:  Light Blue

Tarot card:  Temperance: Timing, Moderation, Education, Solstice, Healing of Chiron

Public Domain: Rider-Waite

The Astronomy

Source :Wiki

Sagittarius, the zodiac sign inspired by the constellation of Sagittarius, from the Latin meaning Archer, was recorded in the 2nd century by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy.

The constellation of Sagittarius is near the centre of our galaxy, the spiral Milky Way, mainly visible in the southern hemisphere June-November. In the Northern hemisphere the constellation is low on the horizon from August to October.

Sagittarius has a nickname, ‘The Teapot’ on account of its vaguely teapot-shaped star pattern, or asterism.

To find The Teapot

The best time to look is in August or September, somewhere really dark. Locate the hazy band of The Milky Way stretching right across the sky. Looking in the northern hemisphere, the Milk Way seems to bulge as it descends to the southern horizon. This ‘bulge’ is roughly about the middle of the Milky Way and is contained within the boundaries of the constellation Sagittarius.

Photo by u200bu0468u0477u047bu048f u046au0454u0459u0469u04e1u04c4u047bu0487u0477 on Pexels.com

Sagittarius contains a massive star-forming region, the Omega Nebula, and it’s home to the bright blue hyper-giant Pistol Star, one of the brightest stars in the Milky Way. Discovered by the Hubble Space telescope in 1930, The Pistol Star is largely hidden in the dust of its own nebula, but it’s 100 times as massive as our Sun, and 10,000,000 times as bright.

The Myth

Sagittarius is the ninth sign in the Zodiac, not to be confused with the constellation itself, and represents those born between Nov. 22 and the advent of winter solstice, Dec. 21.

Sagittarius is nowadays generally associated with the story of Chiron.

But the story is far, far older, and goes back to a Babylonian god, Pabilsag, and even further back than that.

Public Domain: Celestial Atlas 1822

Pabilsag and the approaching Solstice

Pabilsag was the ancient Babylonian name for what we now call Sagittarius, handed down to the Greeks through the Sumerians and Kassites. The Sumerian word ‘Pabil’ means ‘ancestor or relative’. Combined with the final element sag, meaning ‘chief, head, tip or foremost,’ his name can be translated as the ‘Chief Ancestor’ or ‘Forefather’. Just as we were hunters at the dawn of human civilization.

Here, 3 millennia BC, we we have a winged centaur type figure, and yes, he is an archer too, and his arrow points at the heart of Scorpio, the red star Antares, but he also has a scorpion’s tail as the wheel of the Zodiac turns, and as Sagittarius gallops in, we leave Scorpio behind.

The distinction of Sagittarius, though, is that he is a solitary hunter. He does not work as one of a team to being down the really big prey. He is an individualist, working alone, just as many a hunter or trapper still hunts alone in winter.

The constellation of Sagittarius-Pabilsag is within the Milky Way, rising from the southern regions close to the horizon into the higher reaches of the skies.

This section of the Milky Way represents a symbolic bridge or a rainbow for the souls of the dead on their way to the afterlife, as the arrival of Capricorn draws near, marking the advent of the winter solstice. so that Sagittarius, or Pabilsag, is a psychopomp; a guardian and a guide to the dying year, and also the souls of the dying as the sun sinks ever lower.

Chiron the wounded Centaur

Most modern versions of the story refer back to much later, classical variants of the old Babylonian myths, and say that Sagittarius represents the gentle, cultured centaur, Chiron, who was accidentally shot by Herakles with a poison arrow.

The centaurs in general were a pretty rough lot, hard drinking, hard fighting, not remotely glamorous. It has been suggested that the legend rose from perfectly mortal, mounted ancient Greek cowboys.

But whatever the centaurs were, Chiron ‘the wisest and justest of the centaurs’ was something very different, representing a hope for the centaurs, and for Humanity itself, as collectively it strives to rise above the ever present tyranny of the Id and its own worst nature.

Here he is, trying to teach Achilles to control his temper, learning to play the lyre. Chiron had many other pupils, as well, including Asclepius, Ajax, Achilles, Theseus, Jason, Peleus, Perseus, and Phoenix. And Herakles, who brought about his death, when he was sent there to be schooled with Chiron.

Herakles had previously lost his temper with Linus, his music tutor back home. Linus, criticised his playing, and Herakles responded by smashing his lyre over the teachers head, killing him. Though in some accounts it was a stool.

Later, Chiron, wounded by the poison arrow, was left in terrible pain. He was wise in the ways of medicine, none wiser, but could not heal himself, and none could help him. Nor could he die, being Immortal.

Still, he carried on until he could bear it no more, and asked Zeus to release him from Immortality so that he could die and be free of pain.

Zeus placed him in the heavens and the story goes, placed him there as Sagittarius.

However, Chiron already has another constellation, Centaurus, and in addition, there is another classical version of the story of Sagittarius, referring instead to Krotos, a satyr who lived on Mount Helicon with the Muses.

Krotos was the son of Pan and Eupheme, and his mother had nursed the Muses. He was a renowned archer, hunter, horse rider – hence a possible source of confusion with the centaur, and besides all this, a devotee of his childhood companions, The Muses and their arts.

By Aratus – Leiden University Library Catalogue, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7660666

Krotos means ‘One who Claps his hands.’ He was credited by the Greeks with not only having invented archery, but introducing the convention of applause at artistic performances.

It was the Muses who, for his own musical talents, when Krotos died, asked Zeus to place him among the stars, which he did, transforming him into the constellation Sagittarius, says this variant of the zodiac story.

So Sagittarius is either the cultured wounded healer, Chiron, already represented in the constellation Centaurus, or he is the cultured satyr, Krotos; goaty, horse-riding archer, culture vulture and hunter extraordinaire.

There is a secondary link here, Krotos the Satyr linking Sagittarius with Capricorn, the next sign coming up, sun sinking to the winter solstice.

Chiron or Krotos?

Take your pick.

Or go Babylonian with Pabilsag.

The Muses

Sagittarius is keenly intuitive, and usually has a marked talent, a gift, in the field of the Arts. Winston Churchill for example, was probably psychic, subject to visions and feelings of premonition, and he also painted.

Delphi said there were three Muses. But c 600 BC Hesiod wrote in his Theogony that there were Nine Muses, the daughters of  Zeus and Mnemosyne (Memory personified) and this is the version that has generally stuck.

They were not necessarily benign. They were touchy, sensitive to human hubris, and liable to exact vengeance of anyone they decided was getting too far above themselves.

Via Greekmythology.com
  • Kalliope ‘She of the Lovely Voice’ was the muse of epic poetry. Also of Diplomacy.
  • Klio ‘She Who Proclaims’ was the muse of history.
  • Erato ‘The Lovely One’ was the muse of love poetry.
  • Euterpe ‘She Who Pleases’ was the muse of music.
  • Melpomene ‘She Who Sings’ was the muse of tragedy.
  • Polyhymnia ‘She of the Many Hymns’ was the muse of sacred poetry.
  • Terpsichore ‘She Who Delights to Dance’ was the muse of dance.
  • Thalia ‘The Cheerful One’ was the muse of comedy
  • Urania ‘The Heavenly One’ was the goddess of astronomy, astrology, and later, Christian poetry.

Sagittarius: The Astrological Personality

Of course there is no such thing as THE Sagittarius personality. Everyone is unique. We are speaking here of an archetype.

Sagittarius zodiac sign subjects need constant adventures to stay interested. Freedom is of the utmost importance to them. Movement. Travel. Space and room for manoeuver. Likewise they allow space and freedom to their partners.

The archetype of Sagittarius is brave, lively, warm, optimistic, curious, adventurous, rational but also insightful, even visionary.

Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

They are generally astute, clever and capable people but they need career flexibility, and they may refuse to fail to apply themselves if bored.  Like Gemini, they are prone to restlessness. They may fail to stick at a job or a succession of jobs, and may struggle financially long term in consequence.

Hence their challenge, but also their guiding light is the idea of Temperance,personified in the Tarot and symbolising patience, prudence, and the art of good timing.

They can do domestic. It’s not that. But you wouldn’t really call it how they roll.

And they do tend to roll, place to place, job to job, and a rolling stone gathers no moss. The problem being, other things it doesn’t gather either, like a steady home life, or steady income, or savings or other means of security in old age, if Sagittarius does not balance the need for freedom , space and independence with prudence and good timing.

Sagittarius tends to have lots of friends. More than almost anyone else, so much so, family and friends can feel neglected at times, forgotten, when Sagittarius goes off yet again, devil may care, to share experiences with new best friends.

Sagittarius must have inspiration, and the freedom to follow it, and to roam. But this humanitarian, kindly, if restless rolling stone sooner or later almost always comes trotting, or should we say, rolling home again, expecting to find their loved ones exactly where they left them. And usually, they will. Though others too, do not enjoy being taken for granted, and this may need care.

They will be the star of this show, but what they really need for domestic happiness, is a quietly confident, self-reliant partner who has plenty of interests themselves; and much life experience, who will be their rock but who will not roll.

Who will be above all, their best friend.

Take care till next time 🙂

Ophiuchus: The Thirteenth Sign of the Zodiac?

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? NASA, astronomers and mainstream media suggest there is, trotting out this story every few years, to the frustration of Tropical western astrology scholars and practitioners. Sidereal (eastern) astrologers may agree with NASA, but Tropical (western) astrologers absolutely do not.

So what’s all this about?

It hinges on the confusing of zodiac signs with the constellations after which they were named, treated them as mutually interchangeable which they are not.

There are 12 signs in astrology. Modern astronomy records 88 constellations covering the southern and northern hemispheres of Earth’s sky.

Thirteen of these constellations cross or touch the ecliptic – the trajectory of the Sun’s apparent path across the sky as seen from Earth.

ecliptic.jpg
Public Domain: the Plane of the ecliptic

These include the 12 constellations that inspired the names of the 12 zodiac signs plus a thirteenth constellation– 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…the section of sky directly overhead as viewed from Earth- has changed from when the ancient Babylonian astrologers first viewed it, so that, claims NASA, the generally accepted dates for the zodiac signs as supplied in horoscopes are now a month out of alignment.

This 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 month.

So while 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:

•Capricorn: 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

So you thought you were a Taurus sun sign, 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.

Whoa. But let’s not get too excited. As astronomers are quick to point out, astronomy is not astrology. And that works both ways.

First let’s take a brief look at the astronomy.

The Astronomy and the Constellation of Ophiuchus

200px-OphiuchusCC.jpg
Wiki

Ophiuchus ([Oaf-ih-YOU-kus)  is one of the largest constellations but in general 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 section lying between Scorpius to the west and Sagittarius to the east. Below Ophiuchus, down to the right, look out for a bright reddish star, Antares in Scorpio, for help in confirming that you have found it.

Right now -July- is the best time to see it in the northern hemisphere, mid-winter in the southern hemisphere.  Hence this story is in the news again right now.

Its name comes from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος Ophioukhos; “serpent-bearer,” and it is commonly represented as a man grasping a snake.  In medieval Islamic astronomy the constellation was known as ‘Al-Ḥawwa,’ “the snake-charmer.” It used to be called Serpentius, when the constellation counted more stars, including 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”.

Ophiuchus contains notable features and objects, including Kepler’s Supernova, or Kepler’s Star, named for German astronomer Johannes Kepler.

It was by far the brightest star in the sky for over 3 weeks during 1604 and actually 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 Ophiuchus”.

Kepler’s Supernova continued visible for 18 months, and its remnants are still studied today, still the most recent supernova to be observed with the naked eye.

Mythology

To the 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.

Public Domain

Pluto (Hades) complained to Jupiter (Zeus) that Asclepius was interfering with death, an act of hubris which upset the natural order, and meant the end of the circle of life, with no room for new life.

Immortality would be a terrible evil. Life itself would die, stagnated, and Jupiter (Zeus) duly put a stop to it by killing Asclepius, hurling a lightning thunderbolt straight at his head, giving him an instant perm.  

Apollo was, rather understandably, we may agree, furiously upset, “you zapped my son you b*stard!” Jupiter tried to comfort 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.

rod of asclepius.png
Public Domain

So, is Ophiuchus the thirteenth zodiac sign? Or does your zodiac sign stay the same?

Sidney_Hall_-_Urania's_Mirror_-_Taurus_Poniatowski,_Serpentarius,_Scutum_Sobiesky,_and_Serpens.jpg
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 between 29th November and 17th December, NASA, other astronomers and Sidereal 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.

But- there is a But here. And it is a blooming big BUT.

What astronomy is failing to recognize is the logic of the system which is the very basis of western (Tropical) astrology, and 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 a cleaner, 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.”

In Summary

NASA’s supposed debunking may be logical in strictly astronomical terms. But that’s astronomy. It has nothing to do with western Tropical astrology as practiced today, and would only matter if the timing of the signs relied upon being tied to the actual positions of the constellations.

But they do not, 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.

A Lunar Eclipse: The Crab, the Sultan and the Wolf

Tweeted Friday January 10

“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.

British Wolf Hunt Public Domain

Also Tweeted

“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 letting go.”

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.

Oman’s Sultan Qaboos is pictured at his palace in Muscat on 14 January (AFP)
Oman’s Sultan Qaboos is pictured at his palace in Muscat on 14 January 2019 (AFP)

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.

Excerpts from the Middle East Eye: Read more HERE

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.

Or should we say, reuniting.

Until next time 🙂

Capricorn, the Cosmic Sea-Goat

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…

Common associations

Symbol:

Date of Birth: 21 Dec to 20 January

Ruling planet: Saturn

Lucky Day: Saturday    Lucky Numbers 2 and 8

Energy: Yin

Element: Earth

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 Devil card wiki.jpg
From The Gilded Tarot by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti

The Astronomy

Capricorn stars wiki 256px-CapricornusCC.jpg
Public Domain

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.

Capricornus.jpg

Public Domain: Celestial Atlas 1822

The Astrology

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.  

Marlene.jpg
Public Domain

“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

Season’s Greetings!

Libra the Celestial Scales, Balance of the Seasons in the Stars

The zodiac sign of Libra, what’s the story?

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…

Common Associations

Symbol

Quality: Cardinal

Element: Air

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

Public Domain: Justice from the Rider-Waite Tarot

Astronomy

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 Mercator  

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

Justitia by Howard David Johnson, 1954 –

Public Domain

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?

Queen of the Heavens, Harvest Goddess Virgo.

“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...

Common Associations

Virgo symbol

Date: August 23-September 22

Symbol: The Virgin

Element: Earth

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

Body: Intestines

Birthstone: Carnelian

Flowers: small bright flowers, clover, buttercup

Tarot card: The Hermit (introspection, perception, analysis, care for nature)

The hermit tarot card

Source Wikipedia: The Hermit from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck

Astronomy

Virgo astronomy

Public Domain

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.

Spica

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.

the constellation of Virgo

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

Virgo Urania’s Mirror

Public Domain: Virgo: Urania’s Mirror

The Sumerians

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.

The Greeks

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.

Persephone

Public Domain

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

Virgo Archetype

Public Domain

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.

Until 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.

 

A Pendulum Prediction: Tunnel Vision

Depiction of Hannibal and his army crossing th...
Depiction of Hannibal and his army crossing the Alps during the Second Punic War. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently returned from an overseas family vacation driving in Europe, marginally more relaxing than crossing the Alps with Hannibal. OK, it was intense, but let’s keep a sense of proportion. It was nothing like marching with Hannibal. I had scrambled eggs for breakfast every day, once with chopped chives. The sun shone all week. It was instructive, it made a change, and my husband, Il Matrimonio, was in seventh heaven; king of the road in his lovely new black shiny car that he, ahem, loves.

Below we have the The Chariot card from The Gilded Tarot, representing progress, teamwork, ambition, and literally, a vehicle. Image by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti.

chariot card gilded

Yes, it was Chariot time. What else could one do, but belt up, pray not to need the loo in a hurry; no joke if you’re having to use a wheelchair for any reason, and look and learn?

There was plenty to see; Reims Cathedral, the snowy summit of the Eiger, the battlefields of Ypres. No goats in Switzerland. Perhaps because it was still hot, they were still up on the high pastures. No ghosts in Ypres, or in Polygon Wood, where Kiwis, Aussies and Brits lie, all brothers together, though I wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen one, standing waist high in the tall green fields.

No risk of mal- de- mer, we had gone through the Channel Tunnel. Quick and easy, no fuss,  sitting, working up our best French, and in some cases, spoof French, to be spat out 25 minutes in La Belle France.

The course of the Channel Tunnel (English).
The course of the Channel Tunnel (English). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the return trip, however, there occurred a minor delay. We had made the crossing. The train had slowed right down. We’d had the announcements thanking us for travelling Euro-Tunnel, and were doing up our seat-belts ready to stop and drive off, when abruptly the train stopped, the lights went out and we were trapped in the dark in the belly of this vast tin-can underwater snake.

We heard announcements and apologies to the effect that power had been lost, preventing us from reaching the platform at Ashford, but hopefully it wouldn’t be long before power was restored.

How long would it be, I wondered? My tarot cards were in my suitcase, but I had my pendulum in my handbag. I held the pendulum, suspending it over my lap and asked, ‘how long till we move? Will it be 5 minutes?’

The pendulum dithered, then began to move in a circle, anti-clockwise. For me, that always means ‘no.’

It wasn’t the answer I was hoping for. So what. That’s the risk in consulting oracles.

‘How long till we move?’ I asked again. ‘Will it be 10 minutes?’ The pendulum hesitated, then began to swing clockwise. For me, that always means yes.

‘Only ten more minutes, with any luck,’ I said to Il Matrimonio, as he sat, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, in-between kissing it, or wishing he could.

‘Are we there, yet?’ the teen piped up, stirring it from the back of the car.

Il Matrimonio glanced at his watch, to monitor the prediction, and this is why I am able to tell you, the lights came back on, the power was back, and the train began to move, 9 minutes and 50 seconds later.

Anyone can learn to dowse. It’s not magic. OK, it is. It’s everyday human magic. You won’t always get it right. I don’t, but it’s one of those things you get better at with practice.

There are lots of books on the subject, and plenty of how-to articles on-line. No need to spend money to mobilize this magic. You don’t even need to buy a pendulum. You can use a ring on a string, or even a threaded needle, stuck into a cork. You need a cord or string for there to be that crucial swing, when gravity gets hold of the body twitch, when it comes, that’s the answer needing translation, the non-verbal reply coming from your central nervous system.

What you need to do is decide in advance what movement shall mean ‘yes’, what movement shall mean ‘no’, and what shall represent ‘don’t know’, or ‘ask again later.’

Then ask your question, relax, and trust yourself. Learning to trust yourself, that’s the hardest thing you have to teach yourself, if it doesn’t come naturally. It is the challenge in learning Tarot, it is the challenge in using the insights provided by dreams. It is the challenge in learning to believe yourself, and not beat yourself up when you take an instant ‘unfair’ like or dislike to someone or something. Have you ever felt like that and reasoned yourself out of it, only to come full circle?

Your first feeling is the one to trust. It can save much time, energy, heartache, or even money.

You know more than you know you know. Why don’t they teach this in school?

Tunnel

The use of divinatory tools is largely a means of silencing the counter-arguments of the know-it-all front brain. The conscious attention goes to the tool, creating a tiny oasis of stillness in which to more easily connect with the silent voice of the body’s primary intelligence; instinct.

It trumps tunnel vision, any time. Unless, perhaps, it’s a vision in a tunnel.

Until next time 🙂

The Ace of Cups

For students of Tarot, or the just curious, a few words about The Ace of Cups.

Meanings: Inception, Awakening of Love, Creativity, Vision and the Empowerment of Intuition. It is Beauty. It is The Element of Water, it is The Chalice, The Holy Grail. Sometimes it indicates a coming birth. I have known it accurately indicate healing and recovery from illness or after an accident. It is Grace.

It is known as the Ace of Hearts in a deck of playing cards.

‘My Cup Runneth Over’ is the moment that cannot be surpassed.

Whereas the Ace of Wands, Ace of the South, refers to the primal spark, the fires of Creation, the Ace of Cups, Ace of the West, is the matrix of Life.

The Ace of Cups speaks of Source. Physically, The human body runs primarily on water and minerals. Every physiological process that happens inside the body needs water. The human body is made up of more than 70% water. The blood is more than 85%, the brain more than 80%, muscles more than 75%, and the liver is 96% water.

But beyond the immediate physical, what is our most distant physical story, back to the point of Creation, or as some might prefer to think of it, life’s origin in space, or divinity? Dust from space ultimately cross-reacted making water, an epic of chemistry which made the seas, where Life on Earth began.
We are undines, raised by evolution from the deep.
Sublimis ab unda.

The poem below, for me echoes the deeps contained within the image of The Ace of Cups. It’s from a little known contemporary poet of rare subtlety, yet also directness and integrity.

A poem, like a song, like a picture, a sculpture, a photograph, a smile, a kiss, is a manifestation of the Ace of Cups, of the moment, but eternal.

Here is a Ace within the Ace.

Small Object of Desire

I suppose I should have picked my wedding ring
but that is personal and finite to me
as is my two faced charm on a silver chain
triangular, goldstone, tourmaline

But I chose this, lifted from some shore line,
a smaller bit than I’d found and lost before;
a spindle from a whelkish structured shell
more beautiful than any sculptor’s form.

It gives only a hint of its infinite fetch,
newel staircase, ramp to raise the megaliths,
invasive toxic spirochete to invest my blood,
screw my life force with its sickening brood.

No porcelain is half so fine,
that comes from Meissen’s arcane kiln.
This is the divine, the spiral double helix.
Where else should it be but on a beach?

My small object of desire, refined by tidal pull,
inch long, white and deeply curved,
maths of all dimensions along its reach,
shape and key to life, needs only my breath to live.

Margaret Whyte
The Source
2008

Shared here by kind permission of the author.

Until next time 🙂