Sign Scorpio: Death and the Scorpion
23, the Sun began its month-long journey through Scorpio (the sign of
the scorpion), which is assigned to the death card of the tarot. Scorpio’s classical ruler, the planet Mars, is linked
to the tarot’s lightning-struck tower card, and its modern ruler, Pluto,
is associated with the tarot’s judgment card. The sign Scorpio belongs
to the element water, one of the four elements described by the Greek
philosopher Empedocles. The tarot’s watery suit of cups depicts typical
scenes from human emotional life.
Scorpion: Death and Destruction
astrology has its origins in Babylonia, Chaldea and Egypt, where the scorpion
was an arachnid to be feared. A brief review of the life of the scorpion
quickly reveals why these stinging arachnids are associated with death,
destruction, rebirth and transformation.
can grow to be as large as seven inches long. They have six pairs of appendages.
The second pair of appendages, which have large powerful claw-like pincers,
are used to grasp and hold their prey while they use the first pair to
rip apart their catch as they suck out its vital juices. The ancients
eventually assigned the claws of the constellation Scorpio to the
zodiac sign Libra, symbolizing the scales of justice and the bonds of matrimony.
The remaining four pairs of the scorpion’s appendages have pincers and
are used for walking.
At the end
of the scorpion’s elongated body is a segmented tail with a poisonous
stinger. Scorpions have two types of venom: a hemotoxin that causes swelling
and pain, and a neurotoxin that can cause nerve paralysis and death. Mating
consists of a courtship dance that culminates in the female accepting
the male’s sperm, after which she often kills and eats her mate. Following
a period of gestation, the female scorpion gives birth to her devoured
husband’s offspring, completing the cycle of death and rebirth.
and the Tower
scorpion is a formidable foe, small yet powerful and potentially lethal.
In astrology, the planet Mars is the warrior of the zodiac, so it is natural
that Mars be associated with the sign Scorpio. In traditional astrology,
Mars, the god of war, symbolized lightning, a favorite weapon of Zeus
(Jupiter), king of the Olympian gods. Mars is also a phallic symbol, signifying
penetration and male sexuality.
the tower card of the tarot we see a phallic tower, presumably the tower
of Babel, being destroyed by a bolt of lightning. The scorpion’s sting
is just as sudden and painful as being struck by lightning. In the tower
card we see human arrogance being struck down by the venomous sting of
an angry god, repeating the mythic theme of Zeus smiting his foes with
the fire of heaven.
Roman god Pluto (meaning “the rich one”) is Hades, the lord of the underworld
of Greek mythology. Hades figured prominently in the mystery religions
of ancient Greece that celebrated the annual cycle of death and rebirth,
recounted in the myth of the grain goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone.
Using his chariot, Hades abducted Persephone to the Underworld. He returned
her to life on Earth only after Demeter held Hades accountable for his
actions by stopping the crops from growing and threatening the human race
religious and mythological traditions speak of undergoing a judgment as
one passes from this life to the next. Certainly the lives of Demeter,
Persephone and the entire human race were radically altered by their contact
with Hades and the descent into the underworld. In accord with the myth
of Demeter, Pluto and the judgment card have come to signify radical transformation
as one transitions from one phase of existence to another, whether literally
Posed by the Death, Judgment and Tower Cards
judgment and tower cards are all thematically linked. When any of them
appears in a tarot spread, we must ask ourselves where in our lives do
we need to “die” so that we may be transformed and reborn into a new level
of existence. The death card tells us that we must give up what is outworn
and useless in our lives. The judgment card instructs us to evaluate our
deeds in light of our need for transformation. The tower card warns us
that if we do not make necessary changes in our lives, then outside forces
will make them for us.
Meditations while the Sun is in Scorpio
period when the Sun transits through Scorpio and prepares for its sojourn
in the underworld of winter is an excellent time to meditate on the tarot’s
death, judgment and tower cards, as well as the suit of cups of the minor
arcana. Select a card and study its images. Imagine yourself as a character
or element in the card. What are you thinking and feeling? What questions
are you asking of the other characters in the card? What do they expect
of you? What is the story that underlines the scene on the card? How does
that story relate to your own life?
If you are
interested in the connections between tarot and astrology, here are some
books you may find useful.
Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot by Rachel Pollack, Element
2000 and 2001 Tarot Calendars by Llewellyn Publications.
Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack, Thoresons Publishing.
and the Journey of the Hero by Hajo Banzhaf, Weiser
Companion by Tracy Porter, Llewellyn Publications.
Plain and Simple by Tony Louis, Llewellyn
is the Tarot?
tarot consists of 78 cards divided into 22 major arcana cards (greater
secrets) and 56 minor arcana cards (lesser secrets). The major arcana
cards depict 22 spiritual lessons in allegorical fashion. The 56 minor
arcana cards are similar to a modern deck of 52 playing cards and consist
of four suits containing ten pip or numbered cards plus four court cards
in each suit. The most influential tarot deck of the past century, the
Rider-Waite-Smith deck, was conceived by Arthur Waite, illustrated
by Pamela Colman Smith and published by Rider in 1910.