Virgo, Heavenly Harvest Goddess

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

“The Virgin with her sheaf belongs to Ceres,” The Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD. 

Common Associations

Zodiac symbol

Dates: August 23-September 22

Symbol: The Virgin

Element: Earth

Quality: Mutable (Sagittarius and Pisces are also Mutable signs, marking the transitions between seasons, 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: Virgo rules the Intestines/Digestion

Birthstone: Carnelian

Flowers: all small, bright flowers, clover, buttercups

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

Also the Eight, Nine and Ten of Pentacles, beneficent cards to do with art, craft, and productiveness as a direct result of study, craft, diligence, application and direction of discipline, focus and a sustained effort

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

Astronomy

Public Domain

Virgo is the second-largest constellation in the sky after Hydra, and is the largest constellation in the zodiac 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 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.

Author’s own Image.

It might seem a bit of a stretch, but add in a few more of her stars, and you can see her lounging, dangling a sheaf of wheat from one hand (Spica.)

And now you see her.

Urania’s Mirror

 

Spica is actually a double star, brighter than our sun. Its name is from the Latin, meaning ‘ear of grain.’- also called ‘The Lonely One’ because it is so far from the others. Ptolemy imagined these twin stars as ruled by Venus and Mars respectively, mated together in a chaste, androgynous union, rather like the slightly remote purity of Virgo herself, even when she is a devoted human wife and mother.

The star Vindemiatrix is ‘the Grape-Gatherer.’ This star, once it was seen at daybreak, was taken as the sign that now it was ‘Vendemmia; -the time to start harvesting the vines.

Photo by M. Rohana on Pexels.com

The Virgo Cluster

It’s mind-boggling to consider that our own Sun is only one star of the Milky Way. It contains at least one hundred billion stars. And the Milky Way is only one of a collection of galaxies known as The Local Group.

And The Local Group contains three large spiral galaxies: the Milky Way, Andromeda, and the Triangulum Galaxy plus a few dozen ‘dwarf’ galaxies.

But The Local Group is only one member of the Virgo Cluster – a collection of more than 1300 galaxies stretching across 15 million light-years of space.

And The Virgo Cluster is just one cluster in the Virgo Super cluster.

Existential angst beckons at the very idea. I need to lie down with a damp cloth on my head.

There goes The Milky Way, zooming out, just one of many. The galaxies look like blood corpuscles.

History & Mythology

The Sumerians

Shala was an ancient Sumerian deity (in what was 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.

Shala was married to the fertility god, Dagon, or the storm god, Ishkur, or possibly both. 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’s symbolism endures in the name of the star Spica, the ‘ear of grain’, even as the names of the deity changed from age to age, and culture to culture. The Shala Mons is a mountain on Venus named after the goddess Shala.

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 (Sidereal or Vedic) astrology she was The Maiden, Kanya.

The Greeks

Shala, to the Greeks was the harvest goddess Demeter, also called Ceres, (root of the word ‘cereal’) and also, by association, her beloved daughter Persephone.

When Hades abducted Persephone and took her to live with him in the underworld, Demeter went into mourning. There was no harvest that year. People and livestock starved. Then the goddess of the Crossroads, Hekate, who took pity on mothers, told Demeter where Persephone was, and Demeter realized that Zeus had known all along.

In her rage, Demeter declared there would be no more harvests until Hades set her daughter free. Zeus, the king of gods, eventually intervened, insisting that Hades return Persephone to Demeter.

Painting by Sir Frederick Leighton

Zeus sent Hermes to escort Persephone home from the Underworld, instructing him that Persephone must not eat anything until she arrived home again. But Hades, not wanting to part with Persephone gave her a pomegranate to eat on the journey, telling her a few seeds wouldn’t matter, and knowing fine well how much she liked them. She ate some of the seeds on her way home.

Hades was lying, and because of the pomegranate seeds she was tied to the Underworld, and had to return to the underworld for four months of every year. Then Demeter mourned. Winter returned. The land slept.  

Photo by Kathryn Archibald on Pexels.com

The Decans

Painting by Samuel Palmer

The archetype of Virgo is The Craftsman, paying careful attention to every detail, taking pride in doing the job, whatever it is, to the highest standard possible. A vision does not just materialize. It must be created, executed, manifested. There’s no substitute for skill and hard work, according to Virgo. S/he combines the artist and the scientist. researcher

Of course there is no such thing in reality as THE Virgo personality. You are a unique individual. Your zodiac sign (also known as your sun sign) is a major keynote, but it’s by no means anything like the full picture in real life – or even in astrology.

These archetypes, however, are based on thousands of years of observation, and your personal decan, which depends on where your birthday falls within your zodiac sign, digs a little deeper. If you don’t feel like a ‘typical’ Virgo, perhaps you are a second or third decan Virgo, rather than a ‘most typical’ first decan Virgo.

First Decan Virgo

Dates:  23 August-1 September

Planetary ruler: Sun

The Illuminati Tarot

Tarot card: The Eight of Pentacles: ‘Lord of Prudence,’ art, craft, industry, skill, concentration, application, studiousness, apprenticeship, crafts, heritage, buildings.

Look at him. This person is absorbed in his work, and he seems to be enjoying himself. This work has meaning and purpose for him. This is typical of this decan. There is a quiet warmth but a cool mind with a talent for incisive analysis; however this is expressed, whether artistically, commercially or scientifically, or in administrative tasks.

They see more than they say, but they have a mercurial talent for communication via the spoken and written word; making many of these subjects potentially great teachers. They are hard-working, industrious.

‘We reap what we sow,’ goes the old saying. This is not necessarily always true or fair. Misfortune strikes plenty of people who have done nothing to ‘deserve’ it. And plenty of wrong-doers escape justice. However, it is broadly true to say, that we can’t reap what was never sown. Even wild berries had to be first sown by the wind or by birds. First decan Virgo understands this better than almost anybody else in the zodiac.

Virgo is generally physically attractive and well presented, though not necessarily in a dramatic way. Neat, tidy and well groomed is their preferred style; slob is not in their vocabulary.

They are affectionate, faithful friends and partners, with a keen, if dry sense of humour. They are cheerful company, though they may be annoying at times, due to their tendency, whether you like it or not, to tell you how it is, at least as they see it. This can make them seem fussy, picky, or even a tad OCD if they don’t watch it.  

Second Decan Virgo

Dates: 2-11 September

Planetary ruler: Venus

The Legacy of the Divine Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

The Nine of Pentacles as a personification of both Demeter, goddess of the harvest, and Vindemiatrix, goddess of the vines. She recommends the consumption of more fresh food, and less fast food. Slow cooking, a one-pot meal, is a delicious, nutritious and budget-friendly way to eat and feed a family. (The odd glass of wine doesn’t go amiss either, says Vindemiatrix.)

This decan is traditionally associated with Venus, planet of love, beauty –and money. A perfectionist; conscientious, devoted, and above all focused, they can turn anything they do into an art form in its own right.

Notice the hooded falcon on her wrist. She has ‘tamed’ wildness – or chaos. She has cultivated a home, a garden, a business, and made it thrive, healthy and beautiful. She is financially self- reliant and self-sufficient, but this did not come quick or easy.

She learned, sometimes the hard way, to control the wild falcon representing her impulses, wants and desires. She learned self-discipline and self-control, the power of deferred gratification.

A squirrel would have no nuts in the winter if it ate them all at once. This, the second decan of Virgo can make a most wonderful, conscientious provider for themselves and for others. They love to spoil their loved ones. But though they have learned to do without, and at times, they had little, they deeply value beautiful things.

Third Decan Virgo

Dates: 12-22 September

Planetary ruler: Mercury

Tarot card- Ten of Pentacles: keywords: ‘Lord of Wealth,’ commerce, messages, deliveries, Hermes, home, homeland, ancestry, genetics, inter-generational relationships, inheritance, gifts, legacy, bequests, town planning, art, museums, banks.

Smith Waite Tarot

Third Decan Virgo is both a creative and a practical thinker. These are proud people. Not vain but proud, dignified – this is a big difference. They need to be their own masters and it’s not about the money, or at least, not for its own sake. These people are careful, but they are not misers. They have a winning way with people and may work in the public eye; such is their talent for communication; personal, professional, artistic, written and spoken.

Notice the old man surrounded by family, adults, children, and dogs too – Virgo cares for animals. What he has built, he has created in order to share, to pass on, seeing himself as part of the bigger picture, a link in a chain of legacy. This could mean money. It could mean ideas. It could mean a place that means everything to them, their own home or their homeland. There is a sense of belonging, of being in the right place. To feel this way is a treasure beyond price.

These are family minded people, realists with an optimistic temperament and a ‘can do’ approach.  They enjoy family outings, a walk in the woods, or a trip to the seaside. They will organize it. Eco warrior is not really their style. But they do care about the environment.

Virgo has both feet on the ground, and yet, it is something of an artist, something of a scientist. Something of a sage.

Elizabeth 1

Elizabeth 1, ‘the Virgin Queen’ was a Virgo subject. Born 7 September 1533, a second decan Virgo, she ascended to the throne aged 25 following an exceedingly tough time during which at one point she was disinherited and imprisoned in the Tower on suspicion of treason in collusion with Wyatt against her sister Mary. She could have lost her life, like her mother before her .

But even as a girl of 20, outnumbered and beleaguered by statesmen decades her senior, ‘she hath a very good wit and nothing is gotten of her but by great policy,’ said one of her exasperated inquisitors.

Welcome to Virgo Season.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Further reading:

For more about the decans: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decan_(astrology)

For more about The Chaldeans:  https://erenow.net/common/astrology-and-religion-among-the-greeks-and-romans/2.php

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Until next time 🙂

The Fool and the Return of Orion

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

Orion The Hunter returns, and in the northern hemisphere can once again be seen bestriding the east at sunrise. So 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.

But now he is back and will rise earlier each day until he is visible all evening during the winter months. 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 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. So it’s far from being the biggest, and it’s smaller than another Greek hero, Perseus but Orion’s got more brilliant stars, commanding the impression of its vastness.

(The biggest constellation of all is Hydra, and the biggest constellation of the twelve included in the Zodiac is Virgo.)

Orion’s two brightest stars are the blue-white star Rigel, representing the Hunter’s left foot, and the red supergiant Betelgeuse, Orion’s right shoulder. They’re both thought to be to be about ten million years old, which makes Betelgeuse quite young to be a red supergiant, 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, and Orions’s Belt is one of the most easily recognized asterisms with its three stars.

You can read them east to west or left to right; Alnitak (girdle), Alnilam (string of pearls) and Mintaka (area) They have many other names across the world; The Magi, the Three Mary’s, and 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 is identified as a human figure in every culture at every latitude, with countless variations of different names and legends.

Orion, also called Nimrod, was the son of Poseidon and was 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, although she had taken a vow of perpetual chastity.

Orion could be 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. 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 Greek legend 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. 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. So has there been a mix-up, or perhaps we could see it as a mash-up, Orion and Heracles in mutual diguise?

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 not on the gorilla branch). See Orion in the final frame of the video.

Until next time 🙂

The Sun is in Leo, the Full Moon is in Aquarius…the Lion gets a perm

Photo by Alexas Fotos on Pexels.com

Leo is such a glamour-puss. So what’s this about the perm?

The sun has entered the second decan of fiery Leo, August 2-August 12 and tonight’s full moon, 3 August, is in Leo’s opposite zodiac sign; Aquarius, the water-bearer, the cloud bearer.

This is a strange, dreamy, quirky, quixotic and steamy combination. Maybe in a good way but not necessarily.

It might mean a few nights of oppressive humidity over the next two weeks.

It might mean getting frazzled.

It might mean steam coming out of your ears. Like this little lioness with a rather enviable perm.

Photo by Luriko Yamaguchi on Pexels.com

The Major Arcana card associated with Leo is Strength: physical, mental, moral, emotional. Fortitude which demands patience. Nothing much can be achieved without the ability or willingness to stand and endure.

Centuries apart:

“Here I stand. I can do no other,” Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms.

 “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”-Martin Luther King.

Strength from The Gilded Tarot Royale: Ciro Marchetti

The second decan of Leo is associated with the Tarot’s Six of Wands, the 6 Wands; a card of action, vision, passion ,courage and superb self-discipline. This is what it takes to enter the arena – any arena. Riding high on the accomplishment of a great effort. But there are no short-cuts. No escaping the Herculean labour to be done. This is dedication to excellence; the attribute of the zenith of the sign of Leo.

The Six of Wands From The Legacy of the Divine Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

Tonight this energy is tempered by the quirky, remote, cerebral Moon in Aquarius. The corresponding Major Arcana card here is The Star: inspiration, a vision, recovery, the application of reason, but this can also be the card of social revolution.

The Gilded Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

The Star


Bridging water, land and sky

Cloudy, cool Aquarian eye

Reasons, gauges Rain assuages

Pours, refills an empty jar

Learning, thirsty, takes us far

But Hope outshines all other stars

Katie-Ellen

A very different mood. May steam be expected, and will it be steam coming out of someone’s ears? It may be best to keep your head down and just get on with your own thing, always assuming it’s not against the law, of course.

The Minor Arcana card corresponding with the degree of tonight’s Full Moon in Aquarius is the solemn yet benevolent Six of Swords; a road to recovery, new learning and discovery, charting new waters, leaving behind the past and with it any vain regrets.

The Legacy of The Divine Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

The next two weeks look unsettled and a lot of us are likely to be feeling more jumpy than usual, even given all the anxiety of recent months . This is a time for staying extra cool, calm and flexible and avoiding risk and conflict. This is a time for focusing hard on work and personal projects, but not for making sudden moves or big changes.

There’s plenty to push our buttons right now. Leo says we can put our energies to plenty of good uses, doing our own thing, and Aquarius says we can keep our cool, even if others are losing theirs.

Every clever hunter keeps low, but stays high.

Photo by Bess Hamiti on Pexels.com

Till next time 🙂

Salutations, Star Lion Leo

Today we leave the zodiac sign of Cancer, the mysterious and elusive Crab in the Starry zodiac sea, the sign of the zenith of the summer, and we move into the astrological sign of Leo the celestial lion. Most of us know our zodiac or sun sign, but what does it actually look like in the night sky, and what’s the story behind it?

It’s time to roll out the red carpet for the star-lion, Leo…

Common Associations

Zodiac Symbol of Leo

Dates: 22-23 July-23 August

Symbol: Lion

Element: Fire

Metal: Gold

Position: Fixed

Ruler: The Sun

Body: Heart and spine

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

Plants: Marigolds, sunflowers, dandelions, (dents de lion =lion’s teeth) celandines, passion flowers

Gemstones: Peridot, carnelian, ruby, onyx

Peridot By Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10478407

Key phrase: I love

Tarot card: Strength

The Gilded Tarot Royale, Ciro Marchetti

The Lady and the Lion. Perhaps it is Una. Or perhaps her name is Leona or Leonora, for the lion is also the lioness. Her hold on the leash could not be lighter. She is controlling the lion, but only because it is allowing it, not fighting her restraint, signifying that the lion is also a part of herself. This is just as one would imagine, a very welcome card of better health, signifying recovery if someone has been ill.

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, between the neighbouring constellations of Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east.

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

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

Wiki

The best time to see the Lion is Spring in the northern hemisphere, from around the March equinox. In early April, the constellation Leo reaches its high point for the night around 10 p.m. By around May 1, Leo reaches his high point for the night around 8 p.m. local time  In early May, the Lion begins to set in the west around 2 a.m. local time and by June, Leo is descending in the west in the evening, drifting progressively westward.

By late July and into early August, the Lion is beginning to fade into the sunset, returning to the eastern sky and visible before dawn around late September or October.

Look out for the Big Dipper, Leo is below it. You are looking for a backwards question mark pattern called the Sickle; and you can see its curve outlines the Lion’s mane.

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

Mind Boggler -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 21 times the solar radius.

A triangle of stars in eastern Leo represents the Lion’s hindquarters and tail. The brightest star of the triangle is named Denebola, Arabic, meaning the Lion’s Tail.

There are 15 stars in Leo with 18 known planets between them, but none of the planets is in a habitable zone.

The Leonids are meteor showers associated with the constellation of Leo. They peak around November 17-18 every year, and there is another minor shower, the January Leonids, peaking January 1 – 7.

Photo by Henrik Pfitzenmaier on Pexels.com

Ancient History & Mythology

Leo the Lion has since ancient times been associated with the sun and royalty, ruled by the sun in astrology and is one of the oldest constellations collectively recognized 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.

Photo by David McEachan on Pexels.com

The story goes that the ancient Egyptians venerated Leo because the appearance overhead of this constellation used to coincide with the annual flooding of the Nile River, the lifeblood of their agriculture and indeed, the nation entire. Marking the end of drought, desert lions would arrive at the river, driven by desperation, and their appearance was welcomed as a certain sign that the floods were shortly on their way. The Egyptians accordingly honoured the lion with festivals, and even today many statues of lions can be found along the course of the Nile River, proof of their reverence.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

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.

Herakles’ first labour was the killing of the Nemean Lion. This terrifying lion lived in a cave in Nemea, a town located to the south-west of Corinth. It was a man-eater, dining on the local folk, not OK, and a few had tried to kill it, only to find to their (terminal) horror, nothing could pierce the lion’s hide, it was so preternaturally tough.But someone must have survived to tell this tale, for Herakles, being forewarned of this additional teensy problem, managed somehow to sneak up on the lion asleep in its cave, and strangled to death the uber-kitty; poor puddy-tat.

Herakles then rather disrespectfully, I can’t help feeling, if undeniably 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

Photo by Alexas Fotos on Pexels.com

This fixed fire sign is known for its pride, ambition and determination, warmth and generosity of spirit, not to mention, charisma, but above all, Leo is known for bravery; the lionhearted one, the divine expression of physical, mental, and emotional fortitude, which is a very great virtue. Leo parents are typically devoted, but they rule their households, no question about it.

Courage takes many forms. There is the courage of initiative, the will to advance, engage and attack. There is moral courage, proceeding in the face of fear, “feeling the fear and doing it anyway.”

And there is the courage to endure, to withstand, and the fortitude that quietly says to itself, “I will keep smiling, and tomorrow I will try again”. No banners and no accolades.

Leo can be its own worst enemy; hasty, arrogant, reckless, self-centred, headstrong and careless, and for these reasons, unless these subjects learn patience, consideration and self-control, they are not necessarily always as lucky in life as they could be, or as they, and the great, shining Leo truly deserve, proud and thirsty children of the sun.

Leo
Dandy Lion

Dandelion’s

Golden Mane

Prideful

Greying

Casts away

Alight on Chance

To someday seed

And newly golden

Lionize again

K Hazeldine

Photo by Nita on Pexels.com

Cancer, Zenith of the Zodiac, The Starry Crab of the Summer Skies

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We go into the zodiac domain of Cancer the Crab Tuesday 21 June 2022 and we sail once again into the zodiac domain of the mysterious and elusive Cancer the Crab, scuttling across the heavens as we arrive at the summer solstice. The word solstice comes from the Latin ‘solstitium’ – meaning the sun stands still. Now the sun appears to move sideways/crabwise as we pass the peak. The North Pole has now hit its maximum angle of tilt to the sun, 23.5 degrees, and now we are on the return journey.

This is the great astronomical event with which we came to associate the zodiac sign of The Crab. But what does it look like in the night sky, and what’s the story behind it? It’s that time of year again.

Common associations

The pincers: Zodiac symbol of Cancer

Ruling planet: Moon (although it is not a planet, it is counted as such in astrology)

Key phrase: I feel

Body: The chest, breast, heart

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

Colour: White, silver

Tree: all trees rich in sap

Flower: Acanthus (prickly)

 Tarot card: The Chariot (see how it is a shell?) Drive, Control, progress, teamwork, and the harmonizing of different elements. If someone asks ‘when? and we draw The Chariot, it could well mean to expect developments in early summer.

The Chariot, Rider-Waite Tarot

Astronomy

Cancer, Latin for crab, is in a dark region of the sky. It is the faintest constellation in the Zodiac, with only two stars above the fourth magnitude: Acubens (The Claw) and Al Tarf (The foot.)

Cancer is visible in the Northern Hemisphere in the early spring. Look for it in March about 9 PM . In the Southern Hemisphere, you will see it in the autumn.

It’s almost impossible to see Cancer with the naked eye or even binoculars, looking between Regulus in Leo, the lion, and Castor and Pollux, the twin stars of Gemini. And it doesn’t look much like a crab at all. It’s a faint, upside-down Y shape, more like a crayfish or lobster. It was called the Crayfish in classical astrology, and in Egyptian astrology, The Scarab. But whatever it’s name, it’s always been seen a creature with an exoskeleton; an arthropod, and Cancer appears to rise crab-wise; not sideways, but backwards in the zodiac when the Sun’s entry into the constellation sky space of Cancer occurs at the summer solstice -or used to, three thousand years ago. These events change over time due to the wobble of the earth, an effect known as the precession or procession of the equinoxes.

Wiki: The constellation of Cancer

Cancer may be faint but it’s got a great star cluster glowing at its centre. Praesepe, or ‘The Manger’ is one of two Messier objects in Cancer, identified in 1771 by French astronomer Charles Messier.

Its modern name is The Beehive Cluster. Seen through the telescope it looks like a swarm of bees. To the naked eye it is a small, fuzzy patch of light -like 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 by the NeoPlatonists 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 the souls of the departed rose back to heaven under safe escort by Hermes, the messenger of the Gods. 

Cancer also contains a planetary system; 55 Cancri, containing five known planets. It’s 40 light-years away, and is just about visible to the unaided eye. The innermost of its planets is a “super Earth,” several times heavier than Earth – but none of these planets has the right surface conditions for liquid water, or life as we know it.

Myth

Cancer is associated with the Twelve Labours of Hercules after he went mad, mistook his wife and children for monsters and killed them all. His labours were performed in token of penance.

The first of his great challenges was to kill the Nemean lion. This being done, he had to deal with the Lernaen Hydra, a terrible water serpent with blood so toxic, it could kill you by inhalation. Hercules is shown here wearing no face mask, but he went off to the swamps of Lerna duly armed with a face covering, a sword to chop off its multiple hissing heads, and a torch to cauterize the deadly poisonous dead necks pronto.

Bur Hercules also had another problem. The goddess Hera was his enemy, despite the fact that his Greek name, Hera-cles/Herakles means ‘the fame or glory of Hera’. But she hated him. There were a number of reasons, starting when he was a baby and was given to her to nurse but he was already and strong, chewed her on the- well, never mind- but she had been ill disposed ever since, not to mention resenting Hercules as an illegitimate son (yet another one) of her gadabout husband, the great god Zeus.

Now she sent a crab to harass Heracles, as if The Hydra was not enough to deal with already. The crab faithfully did its best, nipping Hercules again and again, until Hercules stepped on it and crushed it, or in other versions of the story, killed it with his club.

Look at that heroic crab getting well and truly stuck in there. Hera rewarded its courage, tenacity and loyalty by placing it in the heavens. But she had given this careful consideration. placing the Crab in a dark area of the heavens with only faint stars. Crabs need dark, quiet places to thrive and hunt and be at home. However, its shy, retiring placement is also the highest point in the zodiac, and the humble, unassuming but unexpectedly formidable and faithful crab is the highest herald of the heavens, the unassuming usher of the summer solstice.

It dreams deep but asks little.

Cancer by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Astrology

Cancer is the fourth sign of the Zodiac and represents those born between June 20 and July 22. It is a cardinal water sign, one of the four cardinal signs, which are the signs indicating the arrival of a new season. The cardinal signs, Cancer, Capricorn, Aries and Libra are instigators.

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 corresponding court card in the Tarot is the deity of the shoreline with all its ebb and flow, and its teeming rock-pools, The Queen of Cups,

Ruled by Cancer, the Queen of Cups from the Rider-Waite Tarot

Personality

There is no such thing in reality as THE Cancer personality. Your sun sign is the keynote of your astrological portrait but of course it’s not anything like the whole story.

An archetype is a distillation. An essence.

The archetype of the Cancer personality is complex, elusive and riddled with contradictions. Cancer stands for both mother and father. It is the zodiac sign of the nurturing parent. Cancer famously adores babies and small animals, all wild things; and struggles with separation. The empty nest can be anathema to the Cancer parent.

The old man is tender with the plants and with the child, But he is a tough man, a former fighting man, wearing the uniform of a Chelsea pensioner.

By Rose Maynard Barton

Cancer is the sign of hearth and home, and expanding this theme, it is the sign that records the stories and artifacts of national tribal and family identity, collating and curating ancestral legacy; historical, cultural and genetic.

Cancer it is the sign of memory, nostalgia, sometimes regrets. It is the bittersweet longing embodied in a Welsh word ‘hiraeth‘.

It is the longing to return to happy childhood haunts. Maybe a rock-pool.

Perhaps for those who did not get to enjoy even such simple delights, The Crab is the zodiac’s Peter Pan of Never Never Land.

Public Domain Painting by Albert Edelfelt, Finnish artist 1854-1905

Famous Cancer subjects in history:

Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Robert the Bruce, Garibaldi, Henry the Eighth, Lord Horatio Kitchener, Emmeline Pankhurst, Alan Turing, Nikola Tesla, George Orwell, Benazir Bhutto, Nelson Mandela, Angela Merkel…a few contemporary well known subjects include Prince William, Julian Assange and pop star Ariane Grande.

Commons Wikimedia Mandela voting 1994 By Paul Weinberg – direct donation from Author14 October 2009, 19:07:42 (original upload date), CC BY-SA 3.0,

Cancer sign natives are as we see from this much abbreviated list of its most famous rock-pool denizens – in many ways deeply private, but mighty formidable.

You see in this list of people, the heart of The Crab, the shell -and the giant claws. You can see the longing- the ‘hiraeth’. You see its powers of analysis-and endurance.

Happy Birthday Cancer

Back soon 🙂

The Strawberry Moon, June 2020

The Full Strawberry Moon and what it means for you this month

Photo by Taner Soyler on Pexels.com

What is astrology and why do astrologers study the Moon?

Humans have been studying the Moon since at least 25 000 years ago. This is only natural. It is the closest celestial body to Earth, exerting visible effects on the tides, and on every living thing that depends for its way of living on the behaviour of the tides, and possibly a whole lot more besides, though this is debated, eg; crop growth, hormonal cycles and moods.

‘Astrology’ comes from Greek and means ‘the study of the stars.’

It’s about the search for meaning on earth as seen mirrored in the sky, seeking to understand human behaviour through the symbolic influence of planets and other celestial objects, Luna, our Moon being the closest.

Astrology began as humanity made conscious attempts to measure, record, and predict seasonal changes by paying attention to astronomical cycles. They did this largely for practical planning purposes, for example:

  • When would the wild cattle- the aurochs migrate – and they could organise a hunt?
  • When would the salmon or other fishes spawn?

Early evidence of sky-monitoring appears as markings on bones and cave walls in the Neolithic period 25,000 years ago, recording the movements of the sun, and the moon and its influence upon tides and rivers. This timekeeping led to the creation of the first written calendars in the Bronze Age 3,300 – 1200 BC by the Sumerians in the ancient Near East.

Symbolically, because it has no light of its own, The Moon represents our shadowy side, our dreams, hidden health, and the impulses that drive our behaviour whether or not we are consciously aware of them.

The Headlines

June 05, 2020          Full Moon in Sagittarius (Lunar eclipse)
June 13, 2020            Last Quarter Moon (Waning)
June 21, 2020            New Moon in Cancer (annular solar eclipse)
June 29, 2020            First Quarter Moon (Waxing)

The Full Moon occurs when the Moon is on the opposite of the Earth from the Sun on the same celestial longitude and we can see the entire illuminated portion of the Moon.

The New Moon is the first/last lunar phase when the Moon is located between the Earth and the Sun and the moon is largely invisible, hidden in the sun’s glare.

A Full Moon in Sagittarius happens in late May/early June when the lunar sky path is crossing the ninth sector of the zodiac – 240-270 degrees, containing the constellation of Sagittarius, and the sun moves into the opposite zodiac sector of Gemini. The Full moon of June 2019 was also in Sagittarius.

A New Moon in Cancer happens in late June- July when the Sun is also in the zodiac sign of Cancer.

What do the moon phases mean for you and me, symbolically?

In general terms, folklore suggests that:-

A waxing Moon building up to the Full Moon is the optimum time to grow, build, add to, make or get something. It is all about bringing something new in, or bringing something to completion or fruition. Some may perform magical summoning rituals.

A Full Moon is the optimum time to take stock and evaluate, or to gather, collect, harvest or cash in on something.

A waning Moon is the optimum time for ending something, clearing out what’s no longer wanted or needed, including unhelpful or unhealthy habits. It may mean releasing something, or even getting rid of something (someone.) Some may perform magical banishing or protection rituals.

A New Moon is the optimum time to make a decision, and start from scratch,

What is the Full Strawberry Moon?

This is strawberry harvesting time in the northern hemisphere, which before modern agriculture methods was only a very short season. These full Moon names were used during Native American and Colonial times to help track the seasons—they came from the Algonquin tribes who lived in the same areas as the Colonists.

In Europe we have traditionally nicknamed this moon the Honey Moon…first crops of honey, and gifts of honey were presented to newly-wed couples…hence the term honeymoon.

The month of June is the most popular month for weddings, and it is no coincidence that it gets its name from the classical goddess of marriage, Juno (also called Hera in Greek mythology.)

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

A strawberry moon sounds very nice indeed. But what about this one?

Sadly, probably not this time, at least not in public life in the US, and to a superficially lesser extent in the UK, with major talks coming up with the EU. And now we are days away from the lunar eclipse, when an energy peak of this kind may theoretically be expected.

Full Moon in Sagittarius

The major Arcana Tarot card associated with the zodiac sign of Sagittarius is Temperance; traditional meanings: healing, balance, timing, waiting, diplomacy, moderation

The Rider-Waite Tarot

The court card associated with Sagittarius is the Knight of Wands: traditional meanings: energy, initiative, adventures, new ventures in study, marketing, the media, travel, writing, performing arts, disruption, gossip and fighting.

What does this mean for me and you?

Temperance is generally a deeply optimistic card, just as Sagittarius is an upbeat and optimistic sign of the zodiac, full of  fun and ‘can do’ energy,’ if somewhat impulsive on occasion. We can get a lot done and have a few laughs.

That’s the brighter side of this June full moon.  

BUT this will be a lunar eclipse, a Gemini-Sagittarius eclipse, plus, the planets Mars and Venus go retrograde this month, and Mercury went retrograde last month, and this all translates as volatile, potentially quarrelsome or even warlike energy. There is frustration here. Sagittarius is the desire for travel, and right now, that’s an urge that can’t be satisfied for a lot of people who would normally be making travel plans by now, or looking forward to summer travel. This is an eclipse with a focus on discontent.

Globally and historically, astrologers have correlated these sorts of planetary combinations with events of war, and with earthquakes.

At home there could be an unusual degree of tension, or sudden eruptions of anger.

Take a deep breath and count to ten before starting or responding to any arguments. A lot of people are a little out of sorts.Some are way, way out of sorts.

Likewise, we could overdo things around this Full Moon, eating or drinking. We could even overdo the exercise if we’re not careful, and hurt ourselves.

Do your own thing but ‘gently does it.’

Speaking of which, will there be a second wave of #Covid19 in the wake of starting the release of the lock-down? Logically, that would seem almost inevitable as the price of returning to normal, although my cards have been indicating small spikes of increased infections rather than a second wave as such, between today and 21 June, as we are trundling along just below the critical R rate of 1.

If we do have to return to lock-down in the UK because of lack of proper self management, well, Cancer is the card of staying at home…and the card of the New Moon 21 June is in Cancer. This date or thereabouts looks like the next turning point one way and another.

The world is not a designated safe space for any single living creature. Safety is the greatest illusion of all in the modern bubble. There is only ever risk mitigation, and if we really want freedom, and not just to talk about it, we must be prepared to manage it for ourselves. The alternative is to have it managed for us, with or without our consent, and even then, regardless of what we think about that prospect, it is still no guarantee of safety.

So then.

Will the UK have to go back into strict lockdown?

Line of Five Reading: King of Hearts (yes)- 5 Spades (no)- 7 Clubs (no)– 3 Clubs (no)- Queen Diamonds (yes)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The crux card here is the 7 of Clubs, the work card, a difficult, erratic card of holding one’s own, the need for the nation to go back to work, and also a card of moral courage in the face of heated opposition, and even, in modern parlance ‘trolls’ and ‘haters’.

A return to the original terms of lock-down looks like a 2/5 chance. So, definitely possible. We wish it was a 0/5 or a 1/5. But it’s not a 4/5 or 5/5, so not looking highly probable. There might be a close call as the R rate pushes up to 1 again, or it may even rise higher, in which case it may be sufficiently briefly, that we only just escape a further lock-down.

Those who are at a statistically low risk, they need to think more about the way they move around, and use extra careful public hygiene. Those at a statistically high risk know who they are, and need to keep their guard up, and be careful where they go, and when.

Napoleon may not have meant it as a compliment when he said we were a nation of shopkeepers, but still, we need to keep it that way. The alternatives are too bleak to contemplate.

Small is beautiful, and so is local.

New Moon in Cancer

The Chariot from The Gilded Tarot, Ciro Marchetti

The major Arcana Tarot card associated with Cancer is The Chariot: traditional meanings, victory, progress, ambition, determination, self control, teamwork, but also lack of self control, waging war, riots, and disruption.

The Chariot itself is the shell – the carapace of the Crab. Cancer may be seen as gentle, but it is also a hunter. Children must be provided for.

The court card is The Queen of Cups; motherhood, children, home and family, the arts. Here it refers to homeschooling too. This is in general a gentle, reflective card. 

However, this new moon will be a lunar eclipse, and Venus, retrograde during this new moon, is famous as the classical goddess of love and beauty but is also the hottest planet, hotter even than Mercury. Mars is famous as the god and planet of warlike energy. Homeschooling might struggle somewhat today, parents and children tired and fractious. Astrologically this influence eases after 25 June when Venus goes stationary, and things flow more calmly.

What does this mean for me and you?

Where the Full Moon in general brings a peak or a re-boosting of energy and initiative, the New Moon in general represents a time of greater introspection and a pause for reflection. This seems especially the case during this New Moon.

This annular solar eclipse suggests this may not be business as usual in New Moon terms. There could be offers or surprises, and these seem most likely close to home; new developments, perhaps news of a baby on the way, or an unexpected call from a relative or old friend you haven’t spoken with in a long while.

The full moon this year additionally falls on a day designated Father’s Day in the UK. The ultimate Tarot card of fathers and fatherhood is the Emperor card.

This is also the card of government, Law and Order and the Army, whose members and officers are citizens too, and whose ultimate duty is to protect the people of their nation states, and to protect and promote their collective interests, in whichever country, under whatever government.

These are all coming in for exceptionally heavy stick at present, struggling in their different ways with not only arenas of political difficulty, but a pandemic of unproven origin and peculiar aetiology. Covid19 is now suspected to be a vascular disease as opposed to a strictly respiratory disease; a veritable viral Frankenstein.

Failures and frailties notwithstanding, I will still convey my respectful greetings to all that is the very best in The Emperor as embodied in the Tarot.

Read more about The Emperor here

We’re all on the road together, you and me.

The Humming from Enya

Until next time 🙂

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