Introducing The Decans of Pisces

Chartres cathedral

This year we entered the zodiac sign of Pisces the Fishes 19 February 2022 and we remain in Pisces until 20 March, the date of spring equinox when we will move into the mythical territory of Aries the Ram.

‘Pisces’ is from the Latin plural for fish, and the zodiac sign is named after one of the largest constellations in the zodiac. The two fish are said to represent Venus and Cupid in Greco-Roman mythology after they turned themselves into fish to escape a terrible monster, a Titan called Typhon who was later imprisoned by Zeus, tricked and trapped under Mt Etna where he still roars to this day, seeking to escape.

The twin fishes of Pisces are often depicted as koi carp.

Pisces by John Flamsteed via Wiki

Pisces symbolises the concept of The Flood. This time of year marked the  rainy season in Mesopotamia -where western astrology originated.

This is also the time of the winter flood melt, when mountain streams swell the rivers and will sometimes flood the valleys below. This is the time of year for the earliest spawning of fresh water fish.

The spring equinox now occurs during the zodiac month of Pisces when the sun passes across the ecliptic, crossing the imaginary line of the cord joining the two fishes. This year, 2022, the spring equinox will occur on Sunday 20 March.

Once upon a time the equinox occurred during the time allotted to the zodiac timing of Aries, the first sign of the western zodiac, but this has changed over time owing to the wobble of the Earth; an effect known as the precession of the equinoxes.

Wiki

Pisces is the 14th largest constellation overall covering a large V-shaped region of the northern hemisphere. While it is large, its stars are faint — none brighter than fourth magnitude — making it hard to see with the naked eye.

Pisces is seen as two fish swimming at right angles to each other, one to the north and one to the west, attached to one another by a cord of stars, just as life and death, and winter and spring are conjoined and cannot be separated.

Pisces is the twelfth and final sign of the zodiac year, and rules the twelfth house in a personal horoscope, representing hopes, dreams and fears- what lies beneath. It stands for the mystery of the unknowable. It operates outwith the boundaries. This is its power, its magic and its danger, in the meaning of the spaces between reality and illusion.

Photo by Evelyn Chong on Pexels.com

Planetary aspects: Jupiter and Neptune

Pisces is the constellation associated with watery Neptune in Modern astrology but this planet was not discovered until 1846, and optimistic Jupiter is the original ruler of Pisces in traditional (Hellenistic) astrology. Astrologers vary in respect of which of these rulers they use in their own work.

The Pisces Archetype

Own picture Pisces

The zodiac signs represent archetypes, meaning something that is considered to be a perfect or typical example of a particular kind of person or thing.

The zodiac signs paint a portrait of a person born at a particular time of year, in a particular season. A baby born in summer arrives into a different physical environment from a winter baby; with differences of temperature, hours of daylight, maternal diet during pregnancy and so on, with potentially different effects on the baby’s physical makeup and constitution.

The major arcana Tarot card for Pisces is The Moon, The Moon: ebb and flow, cyclical shifts, intuition, dreams, visionary capabilities, fertility, difficulties with travel, uncertainties, shadow boxing, wild creatures, instinct v civilisation, genius, delusion, visions, and ghosts.

The full moon is a hunter’s moon. The crab, sometimes shown as a crayfish, lives between the sea and the land.

Pisces rules the liminal spaces.

From The Gilded Tarot Royale, illustrator Ciro Marchetti

The court card of Pisces is the Knight of Cups, signifying an offer, an invitation, a proposal, a welcome message, a bringer of good news, an admirer, lover, chivalry, a Sir Galahad, good health, a healing cup, loving cup.

From The Golden Tarot by Kat Black

Pisces is a mutable sign, marking the end of a season. The other mutable signs are Gemini and Sagittarius. Pisces marks the end of winter leading up to the spring/vernal equinox. Of all the zodiac signs, the mutable signs are traditionally considered as the most flexible and adaptable, the ones most at ease with endings and transitions and change.

Pisces is not only the last sign of winter as we are moving into spring; it is the last sign of the whole zodiac year, the culmination of all the signs that came before it. Pisces rules the feet and symbolically Pisces has one foot- in the death of the old year, and one foot in the new life of springtime.

Pisces is famous for its emotional depths and visionary capabilities; sensitive, intuitive, psychic, artistically gifted but also competent or capable of scientific or technical brilliance.

But of course there is no such thing in reality as THE Pisces personality. You are a unique individual. Your zodiac sign (sun sign) is a major keynote, but it is nothing like the full picture in real life – or in astrology.  There are many other factors in play, your rising sign, your Moon sign; the planets in your houses, your decan and the degree of the actual day you were born.

If you don’t feel like a ‘typical’ Pisces, perhaps you are a second or third decan Pisces, rather than a ‘most typical’ first decan Pisces.

Many years ago I did this portrait of my parent’s venerable goldfish, Whizz. One of my sisters won him at a fair and that’s how he came to live with us. Perhaps not the greatest start for him but he lived to be seventeen! One fish, two portraits in one in pen and watercolour.

What are the decans?

The decans (or decanates) are a way of marking time, breaking down each of  the zodiac signs into three shorter blocks of roughly ten days each.  

The Zodiac is a belt of sky we see from earth, tracking the path of the sun across the sky over the course of the year. We call this pathway of the sun ‘the ecliptic,’ The Greeks named the signs after twelve of the constellations appearing on, or crossing this zodiac belt: Aries, Taurus, Gemini Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and lastly, Pisces.

Each of these designated zodiac signs represents a 30 degree section of the zodiac belt. Each sign is then further sub-divided into three blocks of ten degrees, each about ten days in length, with slight variations. This gives us the ‘decans,’ from the Latin meaning ‘ten,’ or they may also be called decanates.

The decans are known as the ‘thirty-six faces of astrology’, adding extra depth and nuance to the stories of the signs of the zodiac, distinguishing between someone born at the start of their zodiac month from someone who is born during the middle or at the end of the zodiac month.

First Decan Pisces

Pisces- Pisces

Dates:  19 Feb-29 Feb

Planetary rulers: Traditional: Jupiter/ Modern: Neptune

Tarot card: Eight of Cups

Rider Waite Smith Tarot

Card meanings:  Moving on, cutting ones losses, leaving something behind, disillusionment, regret.

The first decan of any sign is considered the most typical. Pisces makes for versatility and adaptability, while Neptune presents a soft or gentle manner or appearance. This Pisces is very rarely aggressive or confrontational.

But there is a sense of a push and pull going on here. Jupiter means they think big and step forward. Neptune means they swim round in circles or hide in the weeds. Neptune, planet of illusion, is their sub-ruler, which emphasize creativity and imagination. This Pisces native connects with other people on an unconscious level, almost hearing what they are thinking. Maybe they haven’t noticed this about themselves yet, or take telepathy for granted, but watch out for the signs.

This Pisces 1st decan double style has a tendency to go on a lot of detours before arriving at their final destination. While quiet, this Pisces has deep passions and their love life can be tempestuous. Their ideal partner is lively and communicative with a can-do approach.

They often look younger than their age, but they need to be especially beware unhealthy habits in order to protect their health; mood, and the chest, lungs and feet in particular. Pisces is extra-sensitive to the effects of overindulgence of alcohol or mind altering drugs.

A desire to do good for mankind is characteristic of the kindly first decan Pisces.

Second Decan

Pisces-Cancer

Dates:  1 -10 March (approx.)

Planetary rulers: Jupiter

Tarot card: Nine of Cups

From The Gilded Tarot

Card Meanings: dreams come true, wishes granted, food and drink, the hospitality industry, overdoing things

The sub-influences for this decan are Cancer, ruled by The Moon. Cancer is the natural ruler of the fourth house of home, family and security. These Pisces subjects typically stay very close to birth family members. Pisces may struggle to loosen break parental ties and become independent, but must do so if they want to progress and develop and become the adult in the room, to provide for and parent their own children, building their own family unit.

These are the most elusive most watery of the fishes. Now you see them, now you don’t.  Their zone of the sky from March 1 –10 houses the stars of the water of Aquarius, and Eridanus the river and the west fish of Pisces.

These Pisceans are masters of disguise and can blend into any environment effortlessly. Pisces decan 2 absorbs. It is sensitive and psychic, but for the same reason these people need to choose their company with care, and form healthy habits early on in life. These subjects are supremely susceptible to the influence of others in their environment, and this can work positively or negatively.

Third Decan Pisces

Pisces- Scorpio

Dates:  11 March-20 March

Planetary ruler:  Mars 

Tarot card– Ten of Cups

The Legacy of the Divine Tarot

Card Meanings: contentment, completion, arrival, family life, a happy home

The sub-influences for this decan are Scorpio and its rulers, traditional Mars or modern Pluto.

Energetic Mars and Scorpio – natural ruler of the eighth house of desire, willpower, drive and determination – brings to this Pisces extra charisma, and the drive and determination to push forward where Pisces otherwise can tend to hold back, lacking that forcefulness. This Pisces has the artistic creativity of Pisces/Neptune; but has that extra sticking power to turn dreams into realities.

Pluto brings depth and Mars brings speed and energy of attack. This Pisces needs to stay busy, and needs plenty of energy outlets.

Pisces marks the completion of the zodiac wheel and this final decan marks, the point at which we move into Aries and a whole new circle starts over again. Aries too, is also ruled by energetic Mars.

These Pisces natives, just like the other decans, are enormously receptive to their environment, but they tend to stay more aloof and watchful and are less likely to blend in or fall under the influence of what is going on around them. They are highly observant, natural detectives, well suited to police or other kinds of investigative work. Pisces-Scorpio is an excellent listener, tuning in the wants and needs of others, listening between the lines to what is not being said. 

The Cusps of Pisces

Aquarius-Pisces: February 15-21

Aquarius-Pisces: This is a Pisces native with Aquarius tendencies; a person of high principles, often rather quiet, refined, and with strong likes and dislikes. This Pisces is likely to travel a fair bit and has executive ability and can make money, but can become bored quite easily and needs to be extra careful not to get trapped, becoming committed too soon in a relationship that really doesn’t suit them

Pisces-Aries: March 17-23

Born on the Pisces-Aries cusp, this native is especially instinctive and brave. This mix of energy combines physical and moral courage with compassion for others which can make this Pisces individual a successful leader. This person is loyal to friends and colleagues and they are also generous, and eager to see others do well.

Famous Pisces

Michelangelo, Copernicus, George 111, Albert Einstein, Neville Chamberlain, Sidney Poitier, Elizabeth Taylor, Yuri Gagarin, Michael Gorbachev, Osama Bin Laden, Steve Irwin, Steve Jobs…For more see HERE

Back soon 🙂

The Tarot, the Fool and the Return of Orion

The Fool and the return of Orion...
Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

Orion The Hunter, ‘Man of the Mountains’ or as he was known to the early Sumerians, the Akkadians, The Light of Heaven, returns to the northern hemisphere in late July or early August, once again striding the eastern horizon at sunrise, though he is tilted on his side this time of year facing up.

But when we say return, where has he been, then? The answer is, he has been invisible, hidden in the glare of the sun since May. Yes. Now he is back, and will rise earlier each day until he is visible all evening by early December. As a girl I used to like to go out on cold frosty evenings to fill the coal scuttle from the coal bunker in the back garden. Looking up at him. I knew his name. I knew he was The Hunter but that was all, and I wondered about him, and what he was hunting up there. Those winter evenings still have that same kind of magic.

Orion is only the 26th largest constellation, sitting on the celestial equator, facing the constellation next door, the oncoming, charging, Taurus the Bull. It’s smaller than another Greek hero, Perseus but Orion’s got more brilliant stars.

(The biggest constellation is Hydra, and the biggest Zodiac constellation is Virgo.)

Orion’s brightest stars are the blue-white star Rigel, representing the Hunter’s left foot (where the scorpion bit him, sent by Gaia, and caused his death) and the red super-giant Betelgeuse, his right shoulder,only ten million years old, which makes Betelgeuse young to be a red super-giant, but it’s evolved faster due to its enormous mass. It is expected to go supernova in the next million years, and when it does will be brighter than the Moon and the brightest supernova ever to have been visible from Earth.

Orion’s third brightest star is Bellatrix, his left shoulder, while Orions’s Belt is one of the most easily recognized asterisms with its three stars, nicknamed in Arabic ‘the Golden Nuts’.

Their Arabic names, read east to west or left to right; Alnitak (girdle), Alnilam (string of pearls) and Mintaka (belt) But of course they have many other names across the world; The Magi, the Three Mary’s….

The Mayans called them ‘The Fire Drill’, invoking them in an annual fire ceremony to delay the onset of the end of the world.

‘No other constellation more accurately represents the figure of a man,’ said Germanicus Caesar

Orion has been identified as a human figure in every culture at every latitude, with countless story variations

Orion, aka Nimrod, was the son of Poseidon in Greek myth; the most handsome man ever to walk the earth. He was a great hunting buddy and friend of Artemis.Her twin brother, Apollo glowered, seeing that Artemis fancied Orion something rotten, though she had taken a vow of perpetual chastity.

Orion was a bit of a sex pest, chasing the Pleiades, so that Zeus confiscated them to the sky for their own peace and quiet. And a fat lot of good it did them, because when Orion was killed by a scorpion (THE scorpion) Artemis in her grief, asked Zeus to post Orion upstairs to the heavens, which he did, right next door to the Pleiades, who also represent the celestial bull pen of Taurus.

Thanks Zeus. You didn’t think that one through, did you?

Should Taurus ever break free of his pen, said an ancient Arabic legend, it will be the end of all things, so let’s hope he’s happy up there, and that Orion doesn’t chase the Pleiades away.

Orion bravely strides towards the Bull, but although he killed the scorpion that also killed him, he still fears it, and dreads its appearance fleeing west as the autumn wears on and Scorpius rises (Scorpio)

Orion in his eternal battle with Scorpius

The stand off between Orion and Taurus the Bull, its red eye, Aldebaran glaring at him, daring him to come nearer, does not fit the story of Orion, and a question has been raised in some quarters over the identity of Orion, and whether he has become confused with Herakles/Hercules at any time in his identification with this constellation.

The reasons are likely historical. The constellation as recognized by the Greeks originated with the Sumerians, who saw in it their great hero Gilgamesh fighting the Bull of Heaven whereas, as previously mentioned, the Sumerian name for Orion was URU AN-NA, meaning ‘light of heaven,’ and Taurus was GUD AN-NA, ‘bull of heaven’.

Gilgamesh was the Sumerian equivalent of Heracles, the greatest hero of Greek mythology, and one of the labours of Heracles was to catch the Cretan bull, but Orion was never in a fight with a bull. Heracles, it has been suggested, deserves a magnificent constellation such as this one, but has been consigned to a much more obscure area of sky.

The Sumerian story is older.

Orion and the Tarot

The Golden Tarot by Kat Black

The Tarot card most commonly associated with Orion is The Fool. The most numinous card in the deck, its element is Air and it is ruled by the planet of revolution, Uranus.

It is the portal of the number Zero. The Fool or as some called him, The Jester, is both beginnings and ending.

In a real life reading it may detect or forecast a birth of a child, or a new offer or a launch or opportunity of some kind. And change happens all the time but this is always major or significant in scope. But although is not associated with Death, unlike the famous Death card, it can mean a death too, representing infinity, the ouroboros.

An ouroboros

The Fool lives in the moment. He may be fun, he may be joy, or he may be frightening. There’s every reason a lot of people are scared of clowns as the living embodiment of The Fool. He represents the wisdom of innocence, or mistakes made through impulsiveness or ignorance rather than stupidity. But he may represent a threat, whether direct or existential, clearly sensed but not as yet clearly identifiable. The fear is visceral, not lightly to be dismissed.

He may be a shamanic, gnostic figure; the stranger, the outcast, the wise Fool or the Fool on the Hill. He dances to his own tune. He takes chances, risks, and sometimes these pay off, but sometimes he steps over the edge of the cliff, heedless of his dog’s most urgent warning.

The dog in the card is not biting the Fool, but desperately trying to get his attention. If someone asks the Tarot’s advice and then I draw this card reversed….someone needs to draw back from the precipice and look again before they leap.

I may bark like the Fool’s dog but will they act on this advice? CAN they? Will they even really hear it, let alone find a way to use it? We are who we are, and we do what we do, based on who we are. It is a rare person who can step back and see things anew once they are committed to Opinion A or B or they are emotionally invested in outcome A or B.

Advice, to be heard, must be sufficiently timely, before the paint dries.

Everywhere the Fool goes, his dog follows, just as Orion is followed in the skies by his two hunting dogs, Canis major and Canis minor. Sirius, the Dog Star is in the constellation of Canis Major and is THE brightest star in Earth’s night sky.

The only objects that outshine Sirius in our skies are the sun, moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Mercury – and Sirius will usually outshine Mercury too.

All Mankind is Orion.

We were hunters at the dawn of man (The Fool) And gatherers too, but we were never gorillas, and never herbivores on our ancestral line.

“We were risen not of fallen angels but risen apes, and they were killer apes besides” – Robert Ardrey, in African Genesis.

Hunting was what brought us together in teams, then communities. Co operation meant compassion.

Fatboy Slim tells a version of that story here (except that we were apes but we did not evolve on the gorilla branch).

Watch out for Orion overhead in the final frame of the video.

Until next time 🙂

Season of The Lion Sun, Leo

Leo

We moved into the astrological sign of Leo on 22 July. It’s time to roll out the red carpet…running late this month, due to a bit of an IT nightmare.

Leo Associations

Symbol: Lion

Celestial ruler: Sun

Element: Fire

Metal: Gold

Quality: Fixed (mid- season/high season)

Body: Heart and spine

Trees: Palm trees, laurel, walnuts, olive trees, lemon and orange trees.

Plants: Marigolds, sunflowers, dandelions, celandines, passion flowers

Gemstones: Peridot, carnelian, ruby, onyx

Wikipedia: peridot

Key phrase: I love

Tarot card: Strength

The Gilded Tarot Royale, Ciro Marchetti

Minor Arcana cards: The 5,6,7 Wands.

Astronomy

Leo is one of the 48 constellations described by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, and one of the 88 modern constellations recognised by NASA today, situated between Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east.

Leo is the 12th largest, and one of the most easily recognizable constellations due to its many bright stars, and a distinctive shape suggesting a crouching lion, apparently facing right.

The bright light beneath Leo as seen in the photo below is planet Jupiter.

In the northern hemisphere, in the Spring is the best time to see the Lion, starting around the March equinox. By June, Leo is descending in the west in the evening, drifting progressively westward, and by late July or early August, the Lion begins to fade into the sunset, returning to the eastern sky and visible before dawn around late September or October.

Look for the Big Dipper then look southwards, Leo is below the Big Dipper.

Leo’s brightest star, Regulus, Alpha Leonis, ‘The King Star’, is a sparkling blue-white star at the bottom of the backwards question mark pattern. The star’s name, Regulus, means “little king” or “prince” in Latin and its Greek name, Basiliscos, has the same meaning. The Arabic name is Qalb al-Asad, which means “the heart of the lion.”

Mind boggling factoid coming up- Leo’s fifth largest star, Epsilon Leonis, 247 light years from Earth, is 288 times more luminous than the Sun, four times as massive, and has a solar radius 21 times bigger.

A triangle of stars in eastern Leo depict the Lion’s hindquarters and tail, the brightest, Denebola, Arabic, means the Lion’s Tail.

Look out for meteor showers during Leo but actually these will be The Perseids, peaking around 12 August. The Leonids are the meteor showers associated with the constellation of Leo, coming from that direction around November 17-18 every year, and again in January; with a smaller shower peaking January 1 – 7.

There are 15 stars in Leo with 18 known planets between them, but none thought to be habitable.

Mythology

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Leo the Lion has since ancient times been associated with the sun, and is ruled by the sun in astrology.  Leo is one of the oldest constellations collectively recognized in the sky, with many ancient civilizations agreeing on perceiving it as a lion. Archaeological evidence suggests that Mesopotamians recognized a constellation similar to Leo as early as 4000 BC. The Persians knew the constellation as Shir or Ser, Babylonians called it UR.GU.LA (“the great lion”), Syrians knew it as Aryo, and the Turks as Artan.

The story goes that the ancient Egyptians venerated Leo because the sun shone in front of this constellation at the time of the annual flooding of the Nile River, the lifeblood of their agriculture and indeed, the nation entire. Marking the end of drought, this flood shortly followed the arrival of desert lions at the river. The lions had come to the river out of need, driven by the drought of the desert at that time, but this was a welcome sign that the flood was on its way, and this connection was welcomed by the Egyptians, who honoured the lion with festivals, and even today many statues of lions can be found along the course of the Nile River, proof of the reverence with which the ancient Egyptians regarded the desert lions.

It’s thought that the lion-headed fountains commonly designed by Greek and Roman architects equally symbolized the life-giving waters released by the sun’s presence in Leo.

Many stories are associated with Leo the Lion. Perhaps the best known tales feature Hercules’ first labour and the Nemean Lion.

This terrifying lion lived in a cave in Nemea in the south-west of Corinth. It was killing and eating the locals, and no-one could kill it because its skin could not be pierced by any weapons. Hercules surprised the lion in its cave and strangled it, and then rather disrespectfully, if pragmatically, skinned the lion with its own claws, and wore its skin as a cloak, making himself even more ferocious in appearance, as well as presumably, and even more importantly, arrow-proof.

The Astrology of Leo

This fixed sign is known for its pride, ambition and determination, warmth and generosity of spirit, but above all, Leo is known for bravery. Leo is represented in the Tarot by the “Strength” card, representing the divine expression of physical, mental, and emotional fortitude, which is a virtue.

Courage takes many forms. Active bravery is about proceeding in the face of fear, “feeling the fear and doing it anyway.” And then there is the courage to endure, the discipline of damage limitation, and the fortitude that quietly says to itself, “tomorrow I will try again”.

Eternal optimists, tough sometimes with a dark streak, Leos can be their own worst enemy; loud, reckless, self-centred, headstrong and careless, and for these reasons, unless they can learn greater patience, consideration and self-control, they are not necessarily always as lucky in life as their generous nature deserves.

Leo is both the sign of childhood, and childhood’s end.

Photo by Lisa A on Pexels.com

Dandy Lion

Dandy Lion’s greying mane

Casts away

Alight on chance

To lionize again

Spring Equinox and the fiery Sky Ram, Aries

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here comes spring in the northern hemisphere. The spring of vernal equinox officially occurred today, 20 March 2022. Today we enter the turf of Aries the Ram, marking the beginning of the new astrological year in Western (Tropical) astrology.

Common Associations

Symbol:

Date of Birth: variable 21 March to 20 April

Ruling planet: Mars

Lucky Day:    Tuesday

 Energy: Yang (Masculine/Extrovert)

Element:  Fire

Quality: Cardinal (the start of the season of spring)

Key phrase:  I am

Body:  Head, neck

Birth Stone:  Topaz, Aquamarine, Diamond

Colour:  Red

Herbs/Flowers: Honeysuckle, tulip, thistle, bryony, peppermint, tiger lily, geranium, hops, impatiens, onions, hollyhock, thorn-bearing trees/shrubs, some firs

Major Arcana Tarot Card: Major Arcana: The Emperor (Masculinity, Fatherhood, Government, Law and Order, Courage, Stability)

Image from The Legacy of the Divine Tarot, illustrator Ciro Marchetti

From The Legacy of the Divine Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

The Tarot court card correlating with Aries is the Queen of Wands. Note the sunflowers and royal lions on her throne, and the black cat, considered lucky. The Queen of Wands is a warm, kindly but shrewd, capable and insightful figure.


The Minor arcana cards associated the cardinal sign Aries are the 2, 3 and 4 of Wands.

The 2 of Wands, ambition, global trade, agreements, career choices, direction, partnerships.

The 3 of Wands, making ready to launch a ‘ship’, or a ship comes in, trade, export, new horizons, exploration, but the timing and the planning has to be right. No rushing this. No cutting corners.

The 4 of Wands: a house becomes a home, a business puts down solid foundations, professional achievements, qualifications.

Astronomy

Aries is a small, rather dim constellation in the Northern Hemisphere between Pisces to its west and Taurus to its east.Imagine the Ram sitting with his head pointing downwards.

The constellation of Aries via Wiki

The brightest star in Aries is Alpha Arietis, or Hamal, from the Arabic Al Ras al Hamal, ‘the Head of the Sheep.’ Hamal is the third star up from the bottom, a red giant with a magnitude of 2.0, and is visible to the naked eye, shining about as brightly as Mars when the planet is at its farthest point from Earth.

Below Hamal, the two bottom stars in the photograph are the stars Beta Arietis, also called Sheratan, a blue-white star, and Gamma Arietis, also called Mesarthim, a whitish binary star with two components. These are the horns of the Ram, and their names mean the Two Signs, meaning these ‘horns’ were seen as the two first signs of spring.

The best time to see Aries.

Aries Profile Image on http://www.underthenightsky.com

The three stars of the Head of the Ram are the stars to look out for, especially December around 9 p.m. local time, seen rising in the east.  December is an especially good month for viewing Aries, when the Earth is on the other side of the sun .

During spring in the Northern Hemisphere or autumn in the Southern Hemisphere autumn is the worst time of year; Aries is lost in the glare of the sun. In late October, Aries rises in the east at sunset, reaches its highest point in the sky at midnight and sets in the west at sunrise.

Aries reaches its highest point in the sky – at about 10 p.m. local time (the time in all time zones) in late November, 8 p.m. local time in late December and 6 p.m. local time in late January.

History and Mythology

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

The spring equinox was a time of renewal throughout the northern half of Earth, an event of great significance to people who were much more aware than we are nowadays, of the direct human dependence for survival on the earth and its produce, land, weather and sky.

Aries marked the main lambing season of wild sheep in Europe, 21 March – 20 April. The lambing season extended with agricultural husbandry.

The Sumerians

Sumeria is one of the oldest known urban civilizations in what is now called Southern Iraq, during the Neolithic-Bronze Age, 4500 BC to 1500 years BC. The ancient Sumerians called the sun, Subat, meaning the Ancient Sheep or Ram and the planets were the Celestial Herd.

The Egyptians

In ancient Egyptian astronomy, the constellation known to us as Aries was called ‘Lord of the Head’, referring to its symbolic significance, and it was associated with the sun god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. Because it was the astronomical location of the spring (vernal) equinox, it was called the ‘Indicator of the Reborn Sun’. Sources suggest the position of Aries at the zenith coincided with the rising of Sirius in the east and flooding of the Nile.

The Greeks

To the Sumerians, the stars of Aries were a herdsman. Aries was not fully recognized as a constellation until classical times when the ancient Greeks from about 1580 B.C. to 360 B.C. oriented the construction of many of their sacred temples to line them up with the star Hamal.

In Hellenistic astrology, the constellation of Aries was associated with the golden ram of Greek mythology that rescued Phrixus and Helle.

The brother and sister, Phrixus and Helle were the children of the Boeotian king Athamas and the cloud fairy, Nephele.  But Nephele died, the king remarried, and his new wife, Ino, feared and hated them as a perceived threat to her own two children by the king, and planned to have them done away with.

They were warned and fled, rescued by a flying golden ram sent by Hermes at the plea of the dead Nephele, watching in anguish from the other world, but poor Helle fell into the sea below and was lost in the Dardanelles, named the Hellespont in her honour. Later, safely in Colchis, Phrixus (rather ungratefully?) sacrificed the Golden Ram, as a way of returning it home to the gods, and presented its fleece as a gift to King Aeetes, who placed it on a tree in a grove under the guard of a terrible dragon, the hideous Hydra, whom Jason later killed in order to steal the magical healing fleece.

Christianity

Founded in a society and at a latitude where ‘shepherds watched their flocks by night’…with a clear view of the night skies much of the year round, Aries speaks of God as The Shepherd, and Jesus as The Lamb of God.

Astrological Profile

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Astrology deals in terms of archetypes, meaning a very typical example of a particular thing, person or situation. Of course there is no such thing in reality as THE Aries personality and the same goes for all the zodiac sun signs. Your sun sign is an archetype, a keynote, but it is not your full astrological portrait. We are all unique and it could never be the whole story.

But the archetypes did not come into being for no reason. You don’t mess lightly with The Ram. Aries is number one, the first sign in the Zodiac year, youthful and exuberant. But it is also the sign of a king, and not only that, but a warrior-king, as illustrated in the watchful, slightly weary, Emperor card in the Rider-Waite Tarot, ready armoured, always on guard. Note the Ram’s heads decorating his throne.

Aries is ultra-virile, with a warrior spirit, just as a ram will charge headlong at an intruder, and may even kill a person who enters his field, threatening his ewes and his territory at the wrong moment.

Aries is known for its determination and zest for life, and in the same spirit, Aries can be reckless and with it, accident prone in its general haste to get on and do whatever is the next thing. Aries are at a statistically increased risk of  road accidents, in particular with head and neck injuries in comparison with other zodiac signs, and must beware of impatience leading to risk-taking behaviours.

Aries is ready to experiment or pioneer but may not finish what it starts. They are determined but run on a short fuse, and can be sabotaged by their own impatience if they don’t get quick results.

Aries subjects may exhibit  careless or even ruthless behaviour with a disregard for others in their desire to achieve and excel. They can bear grudges but, though sensitive themselves, and occasionally a touch too quick to take offense, they are prone to be careless about the sensitivities of others.

However, in their personal relationships Aries are lively, affectionate, pleasant, frank, direct and generous. Full of bounce and joie de vivre, there is much to like and admire about the early springtime subjects of fiery Aries, the Mighty Ram.

Famous Aries in history

The Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. Oh wow. Now there is a surprise. I mean, look at him for goodness sake…..

More famous Aries natives HERE

Below, a video via National Geographic explaining the equinoxes.

Till next time 🙂

Scorpio, slayer of Orion, the Stellar Scorpion

Mercator

The season of the Scorpion is here once again.

Common Associations

Zodiac symbol

Dates:  October 23 –November 22 (Western astrology)

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

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

Zodiac element: Water

Zodiac quality: Fixed

Keyword:  I desire. I transform

Colour:  Dark red

Birthstone:  Yellow Topaz, Opal, Aquamarine, Tourmaline.

Tree:  Walnut. Hawthorn. Blackthorn

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

From The Touchstone Tarot by Kat Black

Astronomy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mythology and History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orion stands for the dawn of Mankind.

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

Other Legends

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

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

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

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

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

Facts about scorpions

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

The Scorpio Archetype

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jo Kassis on Pexels.com

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

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

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 🙂

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