The turning of the Great Wheel through precession ushers in the new astrological ages and, with their advent, the stars show us how the change in human culture and experience also manifests a shift of focus. We are transiting now from the age of Pisces into the age of Aquarius.
As is so often the way of things with major transitions, and as the world around us shows clearly, ‘the light is darkest before the dawn’. But, the new is born from the husk of the old and, already present in our world, the seeds of the Aquarian age are being sown and have begun to germinate. In the first stages of growth there must be a breaching of old boundaries and, for the seed to grow, the husk must be broken open ~ here and in the following posts we’ll reflect on the stellar signs of how this process is now playing out. Through the positions of the planets and luminaries in the present, as reflected through the lens of Samhain 2014 and some of the myths that have come down to us which tell of Capricorn’s origins, we can see the macrocosm and microcosm working together.
Samhain sees the Sun align in the heavens with the constellation of Virgo, travelling from the legs and feet of the goddess towards meeting at full Moon with the fixed star Zuben Elgenubi, the ‘southern claw of the Scorpion’ in the constellation of Libra. In our times, this star has become integrated into the scales of ‘the balance’ now associated with the sign of Libra and Zuben Elgenubi indicates ‘the southern scale of the balance’. The qualities brought by the star remain unchanged – it is the socio-cultural setting that has changed and influenced how we interpret those qualities.
Within the ongoing process the Sun’s transition from the benevolent stars in the feet of the goddess to the claw of the Scorpion covers the time of the second quarter in the Moon’s 11th lunation 2014 and the full Moon gives a clear indication of the most developed nature of the change at work here. At the height of the lunation the Moon will oppose the Sun on the 6th November, in alignment with the star Menkar in the constellation Cetus, the whale or sea monster. However, the change in character of these celestial influences behind the Sun and Moon becomes clearer when we look to the stars involved with the Moon at Samhain. At zero hour of Samhain on November 1st the Moon is in the 21st degree of Aquarius in the tropical zodiac, aligned with the tail of the sea-goat in the constellation of Capricorn. The star associated with this degree is Castra. To get into the significance of Castra we need first to explore the origin myths surrounding Capricorn.
The birth of Capricorn
We can learn some interesting things about Capricorn, from both contemporary and ancient star lore, concerning how this celestial figure became established and what it signifies at this time. In our time, George Noonan tells us, “the constellation Capricorn has a great influence over human affairs portending major changes in such areas as climate and political customs. Along with the sign, the constellation is also noted as the “Mansion of Kings.” (1). The imperative need ‘for transformative action to become embodied’ is reflected by Robson’s reading of the myths when he states that…..
…..”During their war with the giants, the Gods were driven into Egypt and pursued by Typhon. In order to escape, each was forced to change his shape, and Pan, leaping into the Nile, turned the upper part of his body into a goat and the lower part into a fish, a shape considered by Jupiter worthy of commemoration in the heavens.” (2)
Capricorn is here recognised through Jupiter’s mythical intervention.
Typhon is also associated with Set in Egypt, the nemesis of Osiris, and the shift from one age into another is very much a part of the egyptian story as well as the emergence of a new religious order, a shift of power base.
Their are many myths and stories from around the world that tell of these events, too many to recall in this article, however, I’m focusing on the greco-roman myths here as they so strongly underpin the psychological dynamics of the dominant culture in our times ~ this is where the destructive psychoses we now see playing out globaly have their root, and it is their shadow, hardened into the husk of the old world and all its attendant pitfalls, that we must break through if new growth is to flourish.
The intervention of Jupiter in giving Capricorn a home in the skies reveals how the politico-religious rewriting of the myths suited the dominant powers of the time. The gods are very much the instrument of change here, but, they are invariably given the spin that suits the victors…..Typhon warred with Zeus, and Zeus, after becoming re-instated, was superceded by Jupiter reflecting the insurgence of roman culture. Hermes helped restored Zeus to the heavens after Typhon had ripped out Zeus sinews and cast him into the earth during their battle. The figure of goat-Pan links with Dionysus and, through the assistance of Hermes/Mercury, the figure of Capricorn was born. We could get something here from remembering Ariadne’s story from the preceding post ~ after Theseus had successfully overcome the Minotaur and navigated the labyrinth with Ariadne’s help, the lovers eloped. The greek sources originally tell us that Theseus left Ariadne, having first sired a child in her. Theseus abandoned her on the island of Naxos, Dionysus sacred ground. In seeking to absolve the hero of such betrayal the later interpreters changed the story making Theseus the victim of a storm while at sea ~ we will soon see an echo of this in Capricorn’s story.
There are strong intimations in this drama of cosmological changes at work which radically affected the terrestrial plane, indications that powerful forces were wielded between celestial bodies and the earth which initated major shifts in both the environment and the collective of mind of the people. Hermes intervention tells us of a change of mentality, a new way of thinking and of an accompanying shift in relationship with the deities. When we look more closely into Typhon’s background the resonances become stronger.
Typhon was the most fearsome of monsters, associated, as his name suggests, with destruction and upheaval through powerful winds and a fire that flashed from his eyes – our word ‘typhoon’ may well have its origins in Typhon. His partner was the cthonic Echidna, the ‘mother of all monsters’ who had the body of a dragon and the torso and head of a woman. She was the daughter of Ceto, linking us with the constellation Cetus in our story. Their off-spring included the Sphinx, the Chimera, Cerberus and the Caucasian Eagle summoned by Zeus to daily eat the liver of Prometheus, who is commonly associate with Uranian powers. The birth of such a brood is indicative of archetypal changes within collective psyche, has an echo in it of suppression of innate psychic energies and earth energies, and, what seeded this is revealed through Typhon’s appearance.
Typhon’s lower half was also serpentine. His head was 100 serpents, his body being covered with wings, and red scales and spikes covered his back. He sounds very demonic, and the later projection of a ‘satanic’ shadow upon such a figure is clear. However, the underlying theme comes not only from how his powers were experienced, but, from how they were metabolised in the process. Typhon’s was a power of cosmological dimensions that affected earth through cthonic forces and my speculation is that we are seeing in the battle with Zeus/Jupiter an event involving telluric and electric forces which, in their earthly symbolism, the serpent represents.
The many headed serpent, amongst other similar symbols, can realistically indicate telluric pathways and electrical discharge between two charged celestial bodies….are we seeing a representation of a global catastrophe initiated in the heavens here, that affected the land and brought flooding and upheaval? Is Typhon representing the catastrophic nature of this upheaval as it was experienced? Typhon’s defeat saw him banished by Zeus to the volcanic regions and, while there is some correlation in this with Plutonic symbolism, the story makes sense when we consider what role such dramatic environmental change would have forced upon the people. The gods themselves were forced to change shape….
The aftermath of such terrestrial change would undoubtedly be profound and order would have been sought out of chaos. In the writings of Manilius, we find a description of what this may have installed in the wake of the shape shifting that brought Capricorn into existance.
“In her shrine Vesta tends your fires, Capricorn: and from her you derive your skills and callings. For whatever needs fire to function and demands a renewal of flame for its work must be counted as of your domain. To pry for hidden metals, to smelt out riches deposited in the veins of the earth, to fold sure-handed the malleable mass—these skills will come from you, as will aught which is fashioned of silver or gold. That hot furnaces melt iron and bronze, and ovens give to the wheat its final form, will come as gifts from you. You also give a fondness for clothes and wares which dispel the cold, since your lot falls for all time in winter’s season, wherein you shorten the nights you have brought to their greatest length and give birth to a new year by enlarging the daylight hours. Hence comes a restless quality in their lives and a mind which is often changed and floats this way and that; the first half of the sign is the slave of Venus, and that with guilt involved, but a more virtuous old age is promised by the conjoined fish below.” (3)
The “restless quality in their lives and a mind which is often changed” is especialy noteworthy and the strength of the leader would have been crucial. Vesta played a key role in the regulation of rulership, her priestesses, the Vestal Virgins, keeping the eternal flame alive within the holy of holies, and it was they that reminded the ruler of the sacred duty, afforded him by his position (and this is during the rise of the patriarchy), of serving the people. The political head was still religiously governed and this was a significant power afforded the Vestals, giving them a political as well as a sacred edge that could not be ignored. The Priestesses of Vesta had precidence in renewing the solar power of the ruler, and Capricorn is the cardinal cusp upon which the Sun, from whom the ruler assumed the divine power of his station, is reborn at solstice. In Manilius quote is a clear indication of Vesta’s importance on the mundane level as well, and, in it we find intimations of the advent of metalurgy as a sacred technology, as well as the relation to agrarian states that were born of climatic change. Behind all this is a carefully encoded allusion to a preceding global shift.
But, why would Venus enslave?! Venus too has been represented as a celestial body with fiery serpentine hair streaming from her head, the great comet that swept by earth in ancient times, bringing great change. The time we are looking to here is unclear in chronologically formatted western histories, but, Kronos establishment as Saturn who rules our mechanistic interpretation of time is also indicted here ~ Saturn, electric universe cosmology tells us, was transformed from a Brown Dwarf star to its present state through the intervention of a second Sun, our present one, and Venus advent came after the interaction, just as Aphrodite was born from the spume of Uranus who Saturn/Kronos castrated. Again, here is a shift from the era of the eternal presence of cyclical time, the ‘Golden Age’, to the linear chronological time with which Saturn is now associated. The planet Saturn’s present state, as represented in this cosmology of myth, is the outcome of immense upheaval and comes at the tail end of the story that Capricorn unfolds.
The memories of that time were passed down to us in the myths and the stars can aid us in recalling them ~ and, at Samhain it is one star in particular that is highlighted by the Moon’s degree.
The stars in the tail of Capricorn have a much more benevolent nature than those in the head and belly, the lore tells us, and, as the connection is with the diluvian half of the sea-goat’s story the intimation is that it is here that we will find the Samhain Moon’s relevance to the present.
And so we come to Castra in the tail of the sea-goat.
Castra – 21 Aquarius
Robson tells us that Castra is “Of the nature of Saturn and Jupiter. It gives malevolence, destructiveness, an uncontrollable temper” (4), but, Noonan corrects this saying “the star Castra is of beneficial influence, although some modern astrologers such as Robson mistake this star as being in the belly (of the goat) and thereby gave it a malevolent nature [this star, epsilon, ε, is positioned in the fish-tail of the goat; Robson has incorrectly said it is on the belly]” (5).
The Moon’s alignment with Castra at the turning point of Samhain brings beneficial influences into play in connection with the origin myth of Capricorn. The forces that resulted in the change of the ages initiated a shape-shift that brought about a new way of living, relating to the celestial as well the cthonic powers as they were perceived. The age in question may well be connected with the sign of Cancer, ruled by the Moon, whose cusp marks the solstice opposite Capricorn. In my own journey I have heard the story relating to the advent of Venus from within the oral traditions passed down amongst indigenous mentors, the timeline they have related corresponding to the cusp of Cancer. But the present calls us to be mindful of the meaning over the timing and, being in the tail of the sea-goat, Castra brings the post-diluvial aftermath of these events to bear, a matter of no small import when we look to the changes now underway in our times.
When in tropical Aquarius the Moon brings the collective fields of communication and Uranian qualities of electric potential and invention together with the psycho-somatic sensitivites of the People. In the 21st degree of Aquarius these initiate the theme associated with third decan of Aquarius. While the lore behind the decans shows that the Moon rules the third decan of Aquarius, this decan carries the most revolutionary impulses of Aquarius, where science and transcendance meet, and the spiral in the tail of the sea-goat is the dynamic representation of the forces at work. Some have named this section of Aquarius the ‘Gateway of the Gods’, an epithet fitting to the mythical story-line given above. There are creative cosmological energies at work here, the spiral energies of creation that push the seed to germinate, and, if the transition into the Aquarian Age is mirrored in this it presages great advancements in how we relate to the use of technologies. We are looking to working in co-operation, as a people, with the innate powers of Nature, rather than exploiting them.
This ecological movement, as much spiritual as it is material, has to find expression that can both harmonise our ways of living with each other and with Nature, and expose the errors that have denied us this right. The imperative is to transcend from an age in which the misuse of power through force and technology has underpinned terrestrial life through their negative impact upon the environment, our freedoms and our health. The revolution envisioned is akin to a shape shift that addresses the networking and co-operative nature of Aquarius and, in the of growth of globalism, the corporate rulership of the body politic, as well as its accompanying hegemony of suppression, we find the nemesis of Aquarian individualism and the freedom to initiate change. Make no mistake, this is a call to actualise a shift in consciousness, an embodied awareness, as the continued blinkering of this awareness will bring out the Aquarian shadow. That way lies a monocultural globalism, a form of collectivism that is ruled over more in the name of Leonine forms of rulership, into which the power of the shadow is projected, than owned, shared and recognised in empowered individuals. And, we should not forget that while Uranus is the modern ruler of Aquarius, Saturn was the tradtional ruler of both Aquarius and Capricorn.
While Samhain 2014 is but an eyeblink in the change of ages, there is in this immediate time an urgency about actualising the initiation of a collective change that will see the transformations necessary to the revolution realised. If this requires movement en-masse it also requires that this be realised through individuality, the right to be ones-self. The Moon, the signs and the stars highlight this interweaving. From the individual’s perspective the scale of this task is immense, a fact reflected back to us by the fact that on the precise entry point of Samhain the Moon will exactly oppose Jupiter in tropical Leo, and both will form a T square with Saturn in late Scorpio, all within the last decans of the respective signs.
The tensions being played out here are infused within the global dramas of this time and take on monumental proportions. However, it is through the individual, you and I, that the change will come and the future will be seeded with Aquarian potential. In this, the Samhain alignments become sign-posts, encouraging us to be open to the messages left by our ancestors. Through the myths being activated in our psycho-somatic nature we are called to shape-shift spiritually as well as materially, to take advantage of the qualities of the moment at the thinning of the veils. This means bringing a closer level of co-operation into our relationships with the otherworlds. The thinning of the veils and the ‘gateway of the gods’ coincide ~ for the spiritual activist this is the prime opportunity to activate the gateway with powerful intent and seek assistance from the ancestral and divine powers, the spirits. They will not fail us, but, we must each play our part.
In the next post we will look at how the T square between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn further illuminates our course of action.
(1)(5) Fixed Stars and Judicial Astrology, George Noonan, 1990
(2)(4) The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Robson 1923
(3) Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD
Shaman : Susan Seddon Boulet
Under the Moontree