Libra The Celestial Scales- Weighing the Balance in the Stars

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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

Justice from The Legacy of The Divine Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

Astronomy

Libra (technically, it is correctly pronounced Ly-bra as in Library) is a small but distinct constellation, 29th in size of the 88 constellations, next door to the constellation Virgo. It’s been described as looking like a lop-sided diamond and is visible in the northern hemisphere between April and July.

Libra used to be regarded, not as a constellation in its own right, but as part of its neighbouring constellations Scorpio and Virgo. The stars representing the scales of Justice are the same stars representing the claws of the Scorpion.

Libra, like Cancer, is faint in comparison with other constellations, and contains no spectacular first magnitude stars, but contains a very old galaxy cluster, possibly around 10 billion years old, the same age as our own galaxy, The Milky Way.

There also is a red dwarf star Gliese 581 with three orbiting planets, two of which may possibly be suitable for life, about 20 light years from Earth.

The brightest star in Libra is a binary star about 77 light years from Earth. α Librae. or Zubenelgenubi, meaning “the Southern Claw” in Arabic.

The second-brightest star in the constellation of Libra is β Librae, or Zubeneschamali, from the Arabic for “The Northern Claw.”

Mercator

Equilibrium and Equinox

Since 2002, the Sun has actually appeared in the constellation of Libra from October 31 to November 22.

This is different to the dates used for this sign in your media horoscope, which is based on modern western or tropical astrology, and says Libra begins around 23rd of September, coinciding with the autumn equinox (in the northern hemisphere).

But astronomy is not astrology, which is a symbolic language, and zodiac signs are not to be confused with the constellations after which they were named.

The Sun did indeed used to be in the sign Libra from 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 Libra’s concept of natural balance.

The zodiac sign of Libra ceased to coincide with the actual placement of the constellation in AD 730 because of the wobble of the Earth, and the resulting effect known as precession – the movement of the equinoxes relative to Earth.

This fact of astronomy does not invalidate your horoscope. The astrological concept still stands, based on the arithmetic model of the zodiac as designed by the mathematician Ptolemy in the 2nd Century.

Mythology and History

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We have the Romans to thank for the name of this constellation, as well as the sun sign or zodiac sign of Libra as we understand it today.

It is a complicated history. Libra began as part of Scorpio, and was known in Babylonian astronomy as MUL Zibanu (the “scales” or “balance”) but with an alternative name, the Claws of the Scorpion, while in ancient Greece Libra was also seen as the Scorpion’s Claws.

The scales were sacred to the Babylonian sun god Shamash, the patron of truth and justice, and ever since these very early times, Libra has been associated with law, fairness and civility.

Because 3000 years ago, the Sun entering Libra marked the equinox, when days and nights were of equal length, i.e. balanced, Roman astrologers considered that the constellation of Libra represented the principle of natural balance, equality, equilibrium and hence, justice.

It was in ancient Rome that Libra was first recognized as a constellation in its own right, when it began to represent the scales held by Astraea, or Dike, although in Greek mythology she had always been associated with Virgo.

Eh? Que? Claws, scales. Virgo, Scorpio. Confusing? Join the club.

Typically elusive Libra!

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According to the Roman writer and poet Marcus Manilius, the best Roman judges were born under the sign of Libra.  The Moon, which in astrology governs temperament, was said to be in Libra when Rome was founded, in a historical passage, which states “qua condita Roma.” 

The early born Libra may therefore be expected to have much in common with Virgo and Astraea, but the later born Libra may be expected to have quite a lot of Scorpio going on.

This same principle applies to all the zodiac signs, of course, whether you were born early or late in your sign, but is particularly acute in the case of Libra, on account of its shared/borrowed stars and very particular history as a relative newcomer to the zodiac story in its own right.

The Libra Archetype

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Libra is one of the three zodiac air signs, the others being Gemini and Aquarius.

 Libra is the only zodiac 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, as it also rules Taurus, the Libra subject is especially, even acutely sensitive to beauty in anything, whether it is a person, nature, art, or music.

Libra intensely dislikes loud or sharp noises, cruelty, nastiness, and vulgarity, as they are naturally kindly and civilized people, and also, may we observe, a teensy bit delicate at times.

Born diplomats, but also anything for a quiet life, Libras try to co-operate and compromise with everyone around them. They can sometimes be a little tiring to be with as they are constantly re-assessing and adjusting their thinking, while remaining emotionally distant, or playing Devil’s advocate and this may be infuriating at times, or even seem to call their personal loyalties into question.

They are not averse to keeping secrets and can be more changeable even than Gemini. Those Libran scales are after all, seeking balance, which is not the same as attaining it.

Botticelli: The Birth of Venus, ruler of Libra

Libra may not receive or handle criticism as dispassionately as they dispense it. They can show jealousy when they are not the centre of attention, and may at times be moody; a practitioner of passive aggression, or they may be something of an ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ – smoothly vengeful, or even ruthless.

But lovely Libra, charming, smiling, sophisticated, civilized. Sunny side up, what on earth’s not to like?

Till next time 🙂

The Tarot Interviews St George…

Tarot As A Story Telling Tool: St George

St. George and the Dragon by Briton Reviere.
St. George and the Dragon by Briton Reviere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In honour of St George’s day, I’ll try the Tarot out as an interviewing tool,  as a Translator across Time and Truth.  St George’s Day, April 23rd, is also thought to be the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

The Tarot tells no lies, but it stands to reason, factually speaking, there can be no getting at ‘the truth’ of St George. A legend may contain grains of fact, while representing the poetic truth of an amalgam of people or myths. As the poet, Kathleen Raine  expressed it, ‘Myth is the Truth of Fact, not Fact the Truth of Myth.’ 

What some call fantastical, or lies, even damned lies, if they don’t apprehend poetic truth, for others is just taking a possibility for a walk, an interesting exercise with judgement in abeyance. Let’s suspend judgement just for a moment, as we enter the Tarot’s Imaginarium.

raphaels george and the dragon circa1505 Public Domain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raphael: St George and the Dragon: Public Domain

That poor dragon. Call the RSPCA. Well, that’s another way of looking at it, by way of a change.

George, if I may, if you can hear me, what can you tell us about yourself?
The Six of Swords Rx:

I am the other side of The River. I hear you only faintly, your words are not my language, and yet I understand you. There must be a translator somewhere. I have forgotten many things, but I remember I was a traveller. I made long journeys over the sea as well as by land.  When I was small I’d go looking for frogs amongst the bullrushes in the pebbled stream, near where I lived. It was good luck to find a frog.

I didn’t read as well as my father wished, I had some letters, taught me by an old Persian with scarred legs – I didn’t know how he’d got those. He knew about numbers and about the stars. Sometimes he would let me sit by him, and  show me maps of the sky.

You’re reputed to have killed a dragon. What can you tell us about that?
The Queen of Cups/Ace Pentacles Rx.

There was something once, but I wouldn’t call it a dragon. It was a water-drake, a filthy great eel, attacking fishermen, robbing nets some place I stopped off, they saw I was a military man and they offered  coin and a night’s lodgings if I would help them hunt and kill it, and they were in difficulties, so I did.

What about the rescued princess?

Queen of Cups Rx

Princess? I don’t know. There was a woman, still beautiful, not young. Nothing to do with the drake. I was passing through, the problem was mentioned, good coin offered (Ace Coins Rx) I went out at night with the fishermen. One guided the boat, I saw the great eel showing silver at the surface, and threw my lance. We had to withdraw and wait. There was no question of pulling the lance out of this thing, or pulling it from the water still alive. Its mistake was in coming so close to the surface when the moon was so bright. I’d never seen one so huge. They said it had taken a child.
Another thing happened  that might have become a story of a dragon. A battle chariot came down on us. A huge thing with its horse team decked out in the semblance of a beast, with a beast’s head carving. I flung a spear, it went through the spokes of one of the wheels. My farthest throw ever, they said. Maybe that’s the root of the story. It was that, or the eel. I kept a pine marten once, for a season, but I don’t imagine that will qualify.

What was your profession?

 The King of Swords
(This ties in with known history) Oh, I was ‘miles’, a soldier, I became ‘miles’ after the death of my mother, and I went on to become an officer. A thing to be said for Rome was, it rewarded skill and service, it gave you chances. I wasn’t popular, or perhaps I simply mean, I wasn’t easy and outgoing. I was known for a certain reserve, nothing to do with rank. I was rarely the worse for wear,  I laughed at jokes, but I didn’t make many. But the men didn’t give me a hard time either about getting promotion. I tried hard to be fair, always, didn’t put on airs, and few of them could see further or clearer than I could, or better me with a lance. I had a horse, a grey mare called Usa .

(Reading note: I got this name by  ‘hearing’ it.  Sometimes insights come this way in a real life reading. I had to look it up, and I  found that ‘Usa’ is not listed as a Roman or Cappadocian name, but it is a Sanskrit name, meaning ‘Dawn’. My surprise was at finding the name actually existed, I hadn’t come across it before.)

What else, George?
Whatever I said I would do, I did. In my life I had two homes, two peoples, two purses and they were sometimes empty. I was always divided. But it was not in my nature to function divided. I looked at this, or I looked at that, the rest went into the background. I think others besides myself might have paid a heavy price for that. I could not see that at the time. Or if I did, I could not, or would not change it.

Is it accurate to say you were a Christian?
The Hierophant Rx
The word echoes. I remember that I found myself out of step, dangerously so.

Why was that?

The World.

Perhaps it was just the world I had came into.

What do you remember about leaving Life?

Seven of Wands, Ace of Cups.

There must have been pain and fear but I don’t remember. I can only see blows coming at me to know it was not gentle. Then I was looking down  from a height, the peace of knowing I had escaped and was free. Little else.

Did you have children?
The Three of Swords Rx

I feel I was mourned from afar. A son. I last saw him, before embarking overseas again. He had lately been apprenticed. Tooling of leather, I think. He was enjoying the work. Perhaps he continued to become a craftsman or merchant (3 Wands) I hope Life was good for him, I hope he got what he needed and wanted, but what his life path was like afterwards, I can never know.

Here Ends The Transmission

Until next time

In Praise of all the best about Fathers, Tarot says All Hail To ‘The Emperor’ ….

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Today, the day of summer solstice, and the zenith of the sun, let’s talk about the ultimate Tarot card of Masculinity with a capital ‘M’,  The Emperor.

‘The Emperor’ appearing in a Tarot reading signifies the current extra significance of an important man in your life, at an individual level. He’s a father, husband, employer, friend or advisor.

The Emperor stands for government, law and order, other big, hierarchical organisations. He is the Armed Forces, the Police, the Civil Service.

He is the guiding principle of protection and of the guardian at work in society and in the home. See those ram’s heads on the arms of his throne? The Emperor is associated with the sign of Aries, the fiery ram. It may indicate a future event occurring at that time of year.

Image below is The Emperor from The Gilded Tarot, by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti

GildedEmperor
From The Gilded Tarot

The Emperor in his true dignity is strength with justice, courage with reason: a defender, a chevalier, a sheltering tree, nests held safely in his branches. He is rule with mercy, compassion for the weak. He upholds fair play, raising his shield so not everyone sheltering behind it gets splattered with rubbish and  er…manure.

He has another side to him of course: war, dictatorship, tyranny, petty officialdom, overbearing bureaucracy. The card may alternatively signify absence of structure and leadership. A bully. The Emperor Reversed is a very serious matter. War.

Michaelangelo, Sistine Chapel

But greetings are due to The Emperor at the top of his game –  best friend to womankind; those men that we love, and what we love best in men, sons of the red earth.

Let your Emperor wear his crown and ermine every now and then.

You may be an Empress, and you can wear yours too.

Greetings to the Tarot’s beloved Emperor.

Until next time 🙂