is the study of the heavens. With our computer programs and printed ephemerides,
have we forgotten to look up?
night sky is the original clock, with dot-to-dot constellations that form
the backdrop for planetary cycles. Looking up to the night sky in July,
we see the "summer" constellations that paint their stories in the stars.
Following the line of the ecliptic—the path of the Sun, Moon and planets
across the sky—are the well-known zodiac constellations.
stargazing, it is important to remember that because of the precession
of the equinoxes, the signs are no longer aligned with the constellations
they were named for over 4000 years ago. Some astrology systems, like
Vedic astrology, make continual adjustments to keep them aligned. Western
astrology starts with the sign Aries at Spring Equinox, and the signs
are interpreted with a different emphasis.
after sunset, look to the west to see the dying lion, as the constellation
dives toward the horizon, lost
in the light of the Sun. Leo is a sickle-shaped constellation looking like a sideways question
mark. The curve is the lion’s head and mane; the bottom of the question
mark is Regulus, the heart of the lion. One of the four "royal stars,"
Regulus is the brightest star of Leo, and has long been associated with
kings and queens. Remember Richard the Lion-Hearted? A modern leader with
Regulus strong at his birth is Bill
Clinton. This famous star now aligns at 29 degrees of Leo.
up and eastward in the sky, the back of Leo the lion is an elongated triangle
of stars. Right next to this triangle is a trapezoid-shaped grouping representing
the head of Virgo,
the great goddess. When we join the head of the goddess and the body of
the lion, so close in the sky, we have the image of the mysterious sphinx:
lion-power tamed and directed by wisdom. If you have a planet on the Leo-Virgo
cusp, or planets in both of these signs, you are challenged to wield this
strong, yet subtle power.
the largest zodiac constellation, usually seen on her side as she flies
across the night sky. One of the few female images seen among the constellations
in Greco-Roman tradition, she is sometimes pictured with angelic wings.
The brightest star in Virgo is lovely blue-white Spica, representing a
stalk of grain that the Goddess holds, the seed and the fruit of the harvest.
Spica is associated with special gifts and talents. Her other arm is reaching
out, and her hand, marked by the star Vindemiatrix, seems to be holding
a bouquet of flowers. Only on a dark night in a prime star-gazing location
can you see this bouquet, which is really Coma Berenice, the hair of an
Egyptian queen. It is a stargazer’s reward to see this star cluster, like
a burst of blooms. Binoculars reveal hundreds of stars.
feet land in the territory of Libra,
the scales. Joining these two constellations, we see the goddess holding
the scales of justice. Our modern goddess of justice wears a blindfold,
but the original Egyptian goddess needed no such thing. Maat, Goddess
of Wisdom, wore a long white feather in her headdress—the feather of truth.
She would place this on one side of the scales; on the other she would
weigh your heart or your soul. How light-hearted are you? If you have
planets in both of these signs, or on the cusp between them, you learn
this balancing act, to weigh experience with light of truth in your heart.
Astraea, the starry goddess, is the Greek equivalent of this goddess,
who guides the affairs of humankind with wisdom.
of the main stars in Libra are named Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali.
They sound like characters in Star Wars, don’t they? These
Arabic star names refer to the southern and northern claws belonging to
the scorpion before the Julian calendar set the scales firmly in the sky,
effectively cutting off the claws. The star names still carry the memory,
handed down from ancient star lore. The claws once held a lamp of devotion
or a censor of incense. The Hebrews saw it as a scale-beam, and in the
early Chinese zodiac it was a crocodile or dragon.
is one of the unforgettable constellations, once you know its shape. This
month it rises in the east early in the evening. It starts with a line
of three stars under the scales. From the middle star, follow a short
line down to red Antares, the heart of the scorpion, another royal star
associated with power based on compassion. Its ruddy color reveals it
to be a red supergiant star, past middle age as stars go. From Antares,
the body of the scorpion curves in a sinuous line down and around into
the stinger, a pair of stars named Lesath and Shaula. Many cultures saw
this constellation as a scorpion, but in Hawaii there were no scorpions.
They saw this as the fish hook of Maui, their great god. In more northern
climes, the stinger stays below the horizon. In Hawaii, closer to the
equator, it will dip into dark waters, just like a scorpion fishing in
the hidden depths.
lore is passed down with layer upon layer of meaning through time and
human experience. Offering many images to enrich our interpretations of
astrology, the eternal stories in the stars continue to guide our lives.
As above, so below.