The Solar Myth of Capricorn

The  Sun is now over halfway through the cardinal earth sign of Capricorn.  Capricorn is ruled by Saturn and it’s therefore no surprise that those born under this sign can have a serious or even stern quality to them.  Saturn wants us to work hard and be responsible, so hard work is not something Capricorn is afraid of.  

A myth associated with this sign is one of sons fighting and overthrowing fathers.  We begin with the story of Uranus, father of the Titans who became afraid of the strength of his twelve children.  His reaction was to hurl them into the dark abyss immediately after birth and bind them with chains.  Their mother, the earth goddess Gaia protested but Uranus would not relent.

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Rubens: Saturn, Jupiter’s father, devours one of his sons, Neptune

Gaia pleaded with her children to rebel against their father, but only Saturn had the courage.  Gaia gave him a sickle knife and Saturn over threw his father by slicing off Uranus’ genitals and claiming the throne – nice, imagine what Christmas was like in their house!  Uranus cursed Saturn with the same fate of being destroyed by his children, but Saturn ignored him, freed his siblings and brought peace to the world. (As an aside, when Saturn threw the sliced off genitals into the sea Aphrodite was born and from the drops of blood emerged the Furies and Meliae.)

Now it would be too simple to end things here, what about that curse?  It came back to haunt him when Saturn was given news of the birth of his first son.  He went to his wife Rhea who handed him his son who Saturn promptly swallowed.  He did this with every child.  Rhea became angry as Gaia had before her and eventually came up with a plan.  When Zeus (or Jupiter to the Romans) was born rather than handing over the baby she wrapped a stone in swaddling cloth and gave this to Saturn instead.  Clearly not the most attentive of fathers, Saturn didn’t notice the difference and swallowed the stone instead.  Rhea hides Zeus and when he is grown he returned to confront and defeat his father, freeing his siblings and claiming rulership of the world.

For Capricorn the fear of failure and being usurped underlies all their drive and hard work.  They want to be in control and hold authority in order to avoid failure.  This can lead to taking on responsibility prematurely and fear and depression if they feel they have failed to meet their goals.  For Capricorn the lesson is that time is on their side.  They must learn to set their own goals and grow into their position and authority.  They need to ensure that they do not find themselves living to other people’s goals and standards, be it their father, boss or any other authority.  Only by dancing to their own tune can they achieve the success they work so hard for.  The aim, be the wise leader and not the dictator.

The solar myth of Scorpio

It’s been a tricky few weeks!  With my stellium in Scorpio I’m suffering from all the Saturn transits at the moment and am slowly recovering from a painful trapped nerve in my shoulder.  Needless to say, this has held up the blogging and I’m a bit late with the myth of Scorpio – oops!

The most intensely powerful of signs has some pretty powerful myths associated with it, not least that of Medusa which illustrates all those scorpionic issues of betrayal of trust and the use and abuse of power.

As always with the classical myths there are variations, but the version I use with Sun Scorpios (assuming they ever come to see you and reveal their inner workings!) starts with Medusa as a lovely young woman.  She is said to have had beautiful hair and so captivated Poseidon, god of the sea that one night he seduced and raped her in Athena’s temple.  Horrified when she discovers this defilement of her temple, but unable to punish Poseidon, Athena instead turns her anger on Medusa.  She transforms her beautiful hair into snakes and makes her face so hideous to look at it turns any who look on her to stone.  Filled with fury at the injustice and horror of what she has become Medusa hides away in a cave so no one can see her.  She lives alone with her anger and bitterness, turning all those who try to slay her to stone.

Finally, Perseus completes the hero’s task of killing Medusa using gifts from Hades, Hermes and Athene.  When he cuts off her head, the winged horse Pegasus springs from her severed neck, a product of her union with Poseidon. Pool of bitterness

The test for Sun Scorpios is to be able to bond and trust with those around them.  The twin themes of the Medusa myth are intensity and betrayal.  Scorpios make faithful friends and lovers, but can struggle with forgiveness when they feel their trust has been broken.  They can hold on to these feelings of betrayal leading to bitterness, anger and that famous Scorpio trait of the search for revenge.  The aim for Scorpio is to release the fury and learn to see situations clearly.  This allows them to control their emotions and free the wisdom and spiritual energy of the Pegasus held inside.

The solar myth of Libra

I’m a bit late on this, oops!  With less than a degree to go before the Sun heads into the depths of Scorpio, I thought I should add a post about one of the myths traditionally associated with Libra.

The one I use most that seems to speak to the Sun Libra is the Judgement of Paris, traditionally told as a precursor to the Trojan War.  Paris, the son of Priam King of Troy, finds himself roped into judging a goddess beauty contest.  Given that Zeus has already backed out of the judging as he didn’t want to deal with the fallout, we can guess that this isn’t going to go well for Paris.

The prize for the winner of the contest is a golden apple from the Garden of Hesperides and the three goddesses competing are Hera, Athena and Aphrodite.  It is said that Paris had previously proven himself to be fair when judging a bull fighting contest Ares has been part of.

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All the goddesses make themselves as beautiful as possible, but are so keen to win that they decide a little bribery might be in order.  Hera offers to make Paris King of Europe and Asia, Athena offers wisdom and skill in war (something he might wish he’d chosen later!), and Aphrodite offers Paris the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife.  The woman in question is Helen of Sparta, who just so happens to be married to the Greek king Menelaus.  The story tells us that Helen was so sought after as a bride that when her father accepted Menelaus as her suitor, he made all other suitors swear to come to his aid should she ever be stolen from him.

Paris is a young man and Helen’s beauty sways him to choose Aphrodite and he heads back to Troy with his prize.  Unfortunately Menelaus and all Helen’s previous suitors follow him, amounting to quite an army and so begins the ten year siege of Troy.  Libra, like Paris, is drawn towards beauty in all its forms – colour, shape form and balance.  They are the interior designers of the zodiac!  As they get older they realise that beauty is more than skin deep and there is more to love than looks.

Librans are often called indecisive, seeking harmony and balance in all things.  They are praised for their tact and diplomacy, but accused of constantly sitting on the fence, coming down on neither one side nor the other.  The key to the myth is the fear within Libra of the possible consequences of making a decision.  The challenge for Libra is always, how can I assert my own individuality and make my own decisions without upsetting anyone (and starting a ten year war!).  With the Sun in fall in Libra, this will always be challenging.  An unbalanced Libra Sun may become overly aggressive or angry, in a worst case Aries (it’s opposite sign) way.  The trick is to be able to say what they want and need in a way that is true to themselves and to those around them.  Not easy!

Weighing the heart: the solar myth of Virgo

The Sun moves into the sign of Virgo tonight – really, it’s that time of the year already.  The days are getting shorter and we even had a conversation about Christmas the other day, yikes!!

These amazing images can be purchased as posters or cards at http://www.johfraposters.com/

These amazing images can be purchased as posters or cards at http://www.johfraposters.com/

I really love using myth and stories to help people understand the challenges faced by the different zodiac signs.  I know I might have implied in the past that I struggle a little with the more difficult expressions of Virgo…  BUT the myth really helps me to understand what Virgo is up against.  The one I find works best is the ‘Weighing of the Heart’ from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Egyptian funeral beliefs tell us that after death the soul journeys through Duat, the underworld and faces various challenges before the final judgement.  This final judgement takes the form of a test to see what sort of life the individual has led and what therefor what the fate of the soul will be.  The heart would be placed on a scale opposite Ma’at, Goddess of law, truth and justice who weighed no more than a feather.  If the individual had lived their life correctly, then the scales would balance perfectly, no more and no less.  However, if they had lived a life of excess the scales would tip and they would slip into the jaws of the waiting crocodiles, nice!

In order to achieve this perfect balance, our Virgo friends can become overly concerned with correct procedure and doing things ‘right’.  This search for perfection can mean others see them as being critical or judgemental, but it gives them a sharp eye for detail and a precise mind.  They have an ability to find ways to improve things, but need to learn how to communicate the ‘faults’ they find in themselves and others gently.  Underlying all this is a deep-seated fear of being judged and being found wanting.  Understanding this can help Virgo use the gifts of precision and craftsmanship in a way which allows them to say, ‘I did a really good job there and it’s finished’.  Recognising when their work is ‘good enough’, rather than constantly seeking to improve and therefore never finishing is a valuable skill for Virgo to learn.

Using the myth helps me to understand the challenge Virgo faces and makes me a little more sympathetic and a little less ‘Virgo’ towards them!   Happy birthday to all you Virgos!

Solar myth of Leo

The Sun moved into Leo last night, the sign it rules.  Solar energy in Leo flows steadily and easily with warmth and generosity.  Yes, we all know those Leos who when they aren’t getting what they want can stamp their feet and play the arrogant drama queen!  But who doesn’t enjoy basking in the glow of the Leo in full flow?  The life and soul of the party who makes everyone else feel better just by being in their presence.  This epitomises the planet in rulership, the free flow of energy that gives and gives. sun

Some time ago I wrote about the solar myths and the heroes journey.   The solar myth of Leo is the story of Parsifal (or Perceval) and the search for the Holy Grail.  Perceval is fatherless and raised alone by his mother in the forest.  One day he sees five knights riding through the forest and is awestruck by their shining armour.  He is so amazed and impressed by them that determines that he too will become a knight.  Despite attempts by his mother to dissuade him he packs his bags and heads off to become a Knight of the Round Table (difficult not to form a Monty Python image here but…).

After several adventures along his way he comes to a river crossing where an elderly fisherman tells him about the Grail castle and the wounded Fisher King.  The fisherman gives him instructions on how to reach the castle and explains the kingdom’s need for redemption through the healing of the King’s wounds.  Following the instructions Perceval finds the castle and is amazed by what he sees.  He is asked the question: “Whom does the Grail serve?”  Overwhelmed by the magnificence of the scene in front of him he says nothing and the vision disappears.  Perceval knows he has missed an important opportunity.

Many years pass and Perceval has countless adventures and learns many lessons.  The land is infertile due to the wound carried by the King. Perceval comes to understand humility and to seek things beyond his own glorification (take note Leo!).  Eventually he is able through his own merit to find the grail castle again.  This time when asked the question, he answers “it serves me”.  The Fisher King is healed and reveals himself as Perceval’s grandfather, thus healing the wound left by Perceval’s absent father.  The King gives Perceval the grail, the castle and the kingdom (and presumably a round table!).cat

So what does this mean for those born with their Sun in Leo?  Leo has a strong sense of self, but beneath this lies a hidden wound.  Leos must be wary of being arrogant and self-centred, so assured are they by their natural talents.  Alternatively they may identify too deeply with that wound and become ineffectual.  Somewhere on their journey they will experience their equivalent of the two meetings.  The first time will be an opportunity missed.  It is only by recognising their own talents AND realising that all people are special and unique that they can gain true fulfilment.  In this way they can be the centre of attention, but ensure that praise is offered where it is due and we can all bask in the warmth of fixed fire. So, happy birthday to all those Leos out there.  Enjoy your parties, but no tantrums please!

Holding out for a hero

I’ve been planning several blog posts for some time but haven’t got round to either starting or finishing any of them.  I promise to do better in the future!  I’ve been bullying Matthew into blogging and then realised I haven’t done any for a while and should probably practice what I preach a bit more.  Then I can bully with a clear conscience…

I want to write a few posts around the prevalence of Gemini in the charts of performers and especially musicians.  My plan was to start off talking about the myth of Gemini.  Then I realised it might be worth taking a post to talk about solar myths for those who might be unfamiliar with the idea.  The use of mythology in the chart can really enrich and deepen our understanding of astrology and I’d refer anyone who is interested in finding out more to the work of Liz Greene.  Her exploration of the use of myth, folk and fairy tales in the chart is second to none.

My aim is really to look at the myths as they relate to the Sun signs, but I wanted to give an example that myth or stories can be used for any part of the birth chart as a way of exploring the meaning more deeply.  For example, a Venus Pluto aspect could use the myths involving Hera for illustration.  Venus Pluto aspects seek intense, passionate relationships and can be possessive, expecting monogamy and commitment.  These aspects are extremely sensitive to issues of trust and betrayal, so in their worst expression can be vengeful, obsessive and possessive.  The challenge is to learn trust and find constructive ways of expressing this intensity.   Hera was the wife of Zeus, which let’s face it, can’t have been an easy job!  Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all his children from his various infatuations.  Most of the myths involving Hera revolve around her attempts to exact revenge against her husband’s lovers, his offspring and various mortals who crossed her.  These myths give a platform for exploring a relationship pattern which can be difficult to deal with, especially when younger.

The solar myth relates to the sign we find the Sun in.  For those of you who say, ‘I’m a Capricorn (insert appropriate sign here), so what does that mean?’  Well, first of, you’re not!  You happen to have been born with your natal Sun in Capricorn, this doesn’t make you a Capricorn.  The Sun is important, of course it is, but that sign doesn’t make up our entire personality – you know you’re more complex than that!  In actual fact, you may never master this element of your chart because the Sun isn’t static or something we are born knowing how to do.  It’s a journey.  A hero quest all of our very own, which we can work at and develop throughout our time here on earth (at least in this incarnation!).  This is a story which will unfold throughout our lifetime, always with a new vision or goal to move towards.

I use the term hero quest here as this relates to the work of Joseph Campbell, an American scholar who developed the term monomyth, or hero’s journey.  His book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ describes this pattern.  Campbell aimed to show the similarities between Eastern and Western religions through their story telling.  Whilst the story develops over time for a local audience, he used the pattern of the hero’s journey to demonstrate the similarities and overlap, positing that we are all telling the same story, which is of great spiritual importance.  Wikipedia has a nice explanation of the different steps in the journey hereThere are a couple of crucial elements to the journey which are especially relevant to astrology.  The hero nearly always has a divine parent, usually Father but it can be Mother.  This gives him one foot in each world – human and divine.  We all want to be special and believe there is something unique in us, different from everyone else but sometimes it’s tricky to find.  The hero grows up not knowing his true identity and the outcome of his journey will always involve him finding out who he really is.

So, the myth of our Sun sign gives us some indication of our own hero’s journey and the trials we will face.  When we’re young, we don’t know how to do our Sun sign – like the hero, we don’t know who we really are.  We learn some elements from our Father or father figure, who could be Mother or someone else entirely.  Often they teach us how to do the bad bits – this isn’t a comment on parenting, simply the subjective nature of the natal chart.  The world might see a great parent but the teenager with raging hormones sees a tyrant and despot.  After our Saturn return it’s easier to take ownership of this part of the chart and move forward in our journey.  Obviously, any planet aspecting the Sun will have a say on the progress of our journey, for example Sun Saturn makes the journey hard going with lots of blocks, but I’ll looks at this more in later posts.

My plan is to explore some of these ideas further in later posts, starting with the myth of Gemini.

Smashing Egg Shells with a dash of Saturn

Ok, Ok, so this doesn’t start off being about astrology, but give me time and I’ll get there.  It started off with a strange conversation over a boiled egg this morning and became a reflection on personal responsibility.  I suppose it is a gentle build up to a post I’m planning about the use of myth in the chart, especially solar myths, and how myth and superstition is important to how we view the world and make connections – (this link is tenuous at best and I’m just making excuses because I wanted to see how many other people smash their boiled egg shells when they’ve finished!).

It started with us having egg and soldiers for breakfast this morning.  Yum, an ideal cold weather breakfast that takes me right back to my childhood.  Dipping the bread into runny egg yolks, delicious!  We both sat quietly enjoying the moment.  I finished and calmly turned my egg shells over and set about smashing them to pieces on the plate.  Suddenly I became aware of being watched, and watched by a slightly confused and incredulous other half who clearly had never seen anyone behave like this after eating boiled eggs.

“Well,” I said, “you don’t want the witches to use them for boats, do you?”

“Eh?!?” he replied.

“My Mum always told us to smash the egg shells so the witches couldn’t use them for boats…”

He laughs.  I don’t – because clearly this is a serious matter!  Having smashed up his egg shells too (I don’t want to take any chances), I retire to another room to check out the origins of this tale.

No witches using these!

So after some brief research I discover that Sir Thomas Browne in his Vulgar Errors (1686) wrote:

to break an egg after ye meate is out we are taught in our childhood… and the intent thereof was to prevent witchcraft; lest witches should draw or prick their names therein and veneficiously mischiefe ye persons, they broke ye shell …. This custome of breaking the bottom of the egg shell is yet commonly used in the countrey. (Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1686), V. xxii, para. 4)

If you search the internet there are references going back to the sixteenth century on the belief that witches sailed in eggshells and caused shipwrecks.  It was believed that by smashing the bottom of the egg you could prevent this happening and prevent shipwrecks.  As late as 1934 Elizabeth Fleming wrote a poem for children which goes:

“Oh, never leave your egg-shells unbroken in the cup;
Think of us poor sailor-men and always smash them up,
For witches come and find them and sail away to sea,
And make a lot of misery for mariners like me.

They take them to the sea-shore and set them on the tide –
A broom-stick for a paddle is all they have to guide
And off they go to China or round the ports of Spain,
To try and keep our sailing ships from coming home again.

They call up all the tempests from Davy Jones’s store,
And blow us into waters where we haven’t been before;
And when the masts are falling in splinters on the wrecks,
The witches climb the rigging and dance upon the decks.
So never leave your egg-shells unbroken in the cup;
Think of us poor sailor-men and always smash them up;
For witches come and find them and sail away to sea,
And make a lot of misery for mariners like me.

So I’m not completely crazy and this isn’t just my mad family ritual….  I’m wondering if this is also a regional belief, although I haven’t found any evidence to suggest this.  My Mum grew up in Liverpool and that’s where her family are from, many of them having been employed on the docks when Liverpool was a thriving port.  Sailors were renowned for being superstitious and perhaps this is where the belief came from. It makes sense as the thought of going out to sea dependant on the wind, weather and fates is a scary thought.  Superstition offers a means of trying to gain some control over the gods for those who feel at their mercy.  I suppose superstition is also about allowing something else to have authority over you and giving up responsibility.

(Ok, here’s some astrology to allow me to further justify this post)

These images of control, responsibility and authority make me think of Saturn.  Caroline Casey in her book “Making the gods work for you” is wonderful in helping us see Saturn in a more positive light and recognising what he is asking of us.  Saturn transits present us with opportunities to explore these themes of responsibility and authority.  All we have to do is learn to take responsibility and reclaim our authority, simple right?  Er, no, not really, because as Casey points out more eloquently than I can, we constantly give our authority away to other people.  Our parents, boss, the government, partner etc etc, all receive our generous offering and give us someone else to blame when things don’t go the way we want them to.  We blindly follow without asking why or reflecting on whether it’s the best course of action – a bit like me and the egg shells!  Casey encourages us to take responsibility for our actions and be our own author – author being part of the word authority.  She tells us that Saturn transits as well as being an opportunity to work hard, which is not a bad thing, can really help us explore these issues of personal authority.  So, as Saturn transits my natal Pluto, this really is an opportunity for me to explore some of this.  Saturn Pluto energy can be incredibly destructive, Saturn restricts whilst Pluto wants to explode.  However, recognising this energy and taking responsibility for the opportunity will allow me to use the transit more effectively.  This is a time to take on extra work, big projects and use the great power of Pluto allied with the discipline of Saturn to really get things done.  Taking place in my sixth house of daily routine and hard work this is even more important because not using this type of energy well could also impact my health (sixth house is also health).

Coming back to the boiled egg issue, or rather me and my superstitions…  Perhaps this is time for me to really reflect on how much authority I give, not just to other people, but also to routine and superstition.  After all, even though I do believe that everything is connected, if something unpleasant happens, can I really blame it on that magpie I didn’t salute this morning?  Or, alternatively, might I recognise it for a learning opportunity and take responsibility for my own actions and decisions?  Interesting, but at least no sailors will be shipwrecked because of me tonight…….