Monday, 1 October 2012

The Ancient Gods in Astrology


Introduction
It must have been a magical time, when the whole of society, including the most rational-minded person, believed in celestial deities - beings of higher power and wisdom who resided in the Heavens above watching over inferior mortals on Earth below. Of course, back then it would not have seemed ‘magical’ at all but an established and fundamental part of everyday life - gods and goddesses simply existed. But why did they ‘exist’? Or more appropriately, why did our ancestors adopt a belief in deities and celestial powers?

When I began to explore mythologies from Earth’s many different cultures, I noticed similarities between certain gods and goddesses, wondering how peoples who had presumably never had contact would coincidentally create strikingly similar deities. Had they in fact exchanged knowledge? Had these gods perhaps really existed? Or did some far older culture predate all of these civilizations, seeding their beliefs across the lands of the Earth? Maybe there were other explanations, such as mere coincidence or the collective subconscious, in other words, these gods and goddesses were universal archetypes, embodying qualities important to all humans no matter from what culture or time they originated. Whatever the reason, it has held my interest to this day and I still enjoy reading about mythological gods and legends.

Here is a brief yet insightful comparison of the many ancient deities from Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman cultures and their planetary counterparts and how they inevitably link to the astrological associations of the planets.

 

Creationism vs Science

Before the advent of modern science and theories on evolution and the Big Bang, creation myths likely explained everything – we, our planet and indeed the Universe must have been created by greater beings. How else could our ancient ancestors explain the reason behind every wondrous thing in existence? Creation myths were common amongst ancient cultures, whose gods and goddesses lived in another place, perhaps another realm, responsible for creating life and governing human affairs, from wars to relationships, to writing and agriculture, building and of course religion. These deities had to be worshipped and appeased and were often offered sacrifices to ensure favourable outcomes. To imagine beings of such higher power, plausibly, one would assume them to reside in a higher place.

Another great and inexplicable phenomenon that ancient humans would have observed is the planets, including the Sun and Moon, which move majestically across the skies every night and day. Without the knowledge of how, or why, the planets are there and might move amongst the stars, it is understandable that they too would be revered. Lacking a modern scientific comprehension, one could easily assume that these moving stars must be heavenly beings, indeed gods, travelling freely in the heavens. As with the mythological gods and goddesses, each of the planets came to govern different areas of human existence, such as relationships, home and family, career, finances, health and so on - astrology. Therefore deities, the planets and astrology become interchangeable.
 


Gods of Old

The first great human civilizations that arose in Mesopotamia ("the land between two rivers", the Tigris and Euphrates), around the area of present-day Iraq, developed an impressive pantheon of deities. One of the earliest known of these civilizations was founded c. 5400 BCE, the Sumerian’s, whom it is believed practised basic forms of astronomy and astrology. The famed Babylonian’s, who succeeded the Sumerian’s and date to around 1790 BCE, also studied the heavens, albeit in quite a rudimentary fashion compared to contemporary modes. It is believed that the succeeding civilisations of Egypt and Greece derived their understanding and systems of astronomy and astrology from the Mesopotamian blueprint. Perhaps some of the more popular myths of gods and goddesses come from ancient Greece and Rome and these powerful civilisations had a host of individual deities to govern every aspect of life. It is thought that the Romans believed most nations to worship the same deities but that the names simply differed from land to land, which would appear to be quite true.

If we imagine ourselves as ancient humans, scrutinizing the heavens for the first time, it should come as no real surprise that we would venerate the Sun and Moon, the two most prominent bodies in the sky. To our ancestors they were simply a magnificent marvel that somehow rose and journeyed from East to West every day, without fail. Therefore, they required a similarly grand explanation and what better way than to describe this occurrence as an act of God, or better yet, a god itself?

Contrary to what some may assume – and unlike today – the Moon was probably the original kingpin. It is the brightest object in our skies (after the Sun) and perhaps the most spectacular, given that we can actually watch its phases changing from New to Full. This must have been a truly wondrous sight for our ancestors, who used the Moon’s phases to develop a calendar; the Sun only rose to prominence with the arrival of agriculture in later, more advanced cultures. Therefore, in Sumerian myth, the Moon god Nanna gives birth to the Sun Utu, a male deity meaning ‘who sheds a wide light’, often depicted wearing a horned helmet. With the Sun providing such vital gifts as heat and light, shining strong and bright, these qualities became embodied in the characteristics of all Sun gods. Therefore, to our ancestors, the Sun is not only an independent being (a god) but also governs qualities in each individual, such as masculinity, strength and power (astrology).

The Babylonian’s agreed with their predecessors and named their Sun god Shamash (simply meaning ‘sun’) subservient to their Moon god Sin (thought to mean ‘illuminator’). Cylinder seals dating from this era often equated Sin with the number 30, thought to refer to the average number of days in a lunar month, so already we can see that ancient humans were recording Moon cycles. We can therefore speculate that the Mesopotamian cultures had a significant relationship with the Moon.

When Goddess worship began yielding to a growing masculine ego, the Sun god concept became prominent. The dawning of Greek civilization (c.1100 BCE) established Helios as a handsome, crowned god riding a chariot with the Sun across the sky, later associated with Apollo, god of light. Meanwhile the Moon underwent a gender reassignment to become the goddess Selene (from ‘selas’ meaning ‘light’). She was depicted as a beautiful pale-faced woman riding a silver chariot. Later, it became associated with the goddess Artemis, who ruled the hunt, childbirth and chastity and her symbol was the crescent moon. The Romans (c. 753 BCE) followed suit, identifying their goddess Diana, or Luna, as the Moon, from which we derive the words lunar and lunatic. She too was a goddess of fertility, nature and childbirth, perhaps owing to the Moon’s link to nature’s menstrual cycle. The Sun became Sol, or Sol Invictus, meaning "unconquered Sun" and his birthday was celebrated near the Winter Solstice on December 25th.

In any symbolic system, such as mythology and astrology, physical attributes can play an obvious role in defining associated characteristics. Therefore the Moon, with its milky-white, silver tints became linked with purity and chastity and is perhaps partly why it later became more Feminine than Masculine. Interestingly, in all cultures that celebrated the Moon as a male deity, the Sun was invariably female and vice versa. There are exceptions of course, like Thoth, the Moon god in Egypt, or Liza, an African Moon god. However, like other planets and deities, there are resounding similarities. The Moon is associated with emotions and cycles, particularly menstrual cycles in Nature, which is not so much to do with myth, as it is fact, because we know today that the Moon literally affects the tides and the behaviour of certain animals and planet life in procreation.

The Sun and Moon were not the only heavenly bodies granted such respect; five other planets grabbed the attention and imaginations of the ancients. The Classical Planets are those that were visible to our ancestors from the earliest of times, without the aid of telescopes and other sophisticated astronomical equipment that came in later centuries. These are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. In fact this is why we now have seven days in a week (each day named after an ancient deity).

There is no evidence to suggest who may have been the first civilisation to discover the classical planets but the Sumerian’s, as one the eldest, did record them on clay tablets. Venus, in particular, is bestowed high status amongst the ancients and is the only planet to be originally identified as a goddess by all cultures. This is perhaps because of its brightness in the sky and the fact that it travels so close to the Sun. For this reason it is believed that Venus was considered the Sun’s consort and so, with the Sun largely considered a male deity, a god, Venus became a goddess {although certain cultures did view the Sun as a goddess, e.g., Amaterasu in Japanese mythology}. Because Venus is so bright and travels close the Sun, our ancestors likely deemed her as a beautiful deity of love embodying Feminine qualities. In all ancient cultures, from Sumeria right up until Roman times, Venus has always undoubtedly been given the title of a love goddess. . In Greco-Roman culture, she became the famous Venus-Aphrodite, a goddess of pure Feminine beauty and love who remains popular today as an icon for empowering women. In astrology, then, it is no surprise that this planet governs our love lives, relationships, beauty, youth and the Feminine. The symbol for Venus has come to represent the female sex.

Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and the smallest and fastest. Orbiting in such proximity to the central Star, Mercury is difficult to spot in the night sky – perhaps why he became known as a ‘trickster god’ and later, in astrology, a planet associated with scandal, mischief and even lies and deceit. Nonetheless the Sumerian’s successfully noted Mercury’s presence and although there is no direct correlation, the Sumerian goddess Nisaba has close ties to the astrological attributes of Mercury and to later deities associated with the planet. For example, she was the goddess of writing and learning. However some associated the Sumerian god Enki with Mercury, who governed crafts, water, creation and intelligence. With the significant developments of the Babylonian’s, Mercury became the god, Nabu, taking on a more prominent role. Nabu has common links with the Mercury of astrology, being designated the record keeper, god of writing and messenger to the other gods in Babylon. It was the Greeks who then perfected this adaptation of Mercury, but they related it to two different gods, Apollo (god of truth, the arts, archery, plagues, and divination) for its morning appearance and Hermes (god of messages, travellers, thieves, poets, orators and commerce) in the evening. It is most likely due its speed in orbiting the Sun that Mercury became known as a messenger god and therefore in astrology he rules travel and transport, as well as all forms of communication, such as writing and language. Being so close to the Sun, he became known in mythology as the Scribe, for assisting the Sun god in retaining important records, much like a personal secretary.

Another eye-catching star in our skies, not so much for its brightness but perhaps its colour, is Mars. With its tinted reddish glow, it is little wonder this star became known as a god of war, passion and aggression - indeed innate Masculine qualities, just as Venus exudes the Feminine. The first record of Mars being associated with war is the Babylonian’s naming the planet Nergal, after their god of war and destruction. Curiously, there appears to be no direct correlation to any such deities in the earlier Sumerian pantheon. But Mars surely rose to prominence with the Greeks and their famous Olympian god of war and bloodlust, Ares. The symbol for Mars is perhaps best known as the biological sign for the male sex, the circle with the arrow pointing upwards, thought to represent the shield and spear of the Roman god. Hence Mars further establishes its role as the planet of Masculinity. He was considered a warrior and military god, worshipped by Roman legions and as the Roman Empire spread it was then he became equated with the Greek Ares. Festivals were usually held in honour of the god in March, named for him, while he was said to be the consort of the Roman goddess Venus. The Romans adored Mars and also dedicated a day of the week to him, Martis Deis (Mars’ Day). Interestingly, our present day Tuesday derives from the Old English Tiwsedaeg, after a god worshipped by Germanic tribes named Tiw, who is also a warrior god just like the Roman Mars. In astrology, much of the characteristics associated with Mars in the birth chart originate from these various godly qualities, such as anger, battle, blood, accidents and injuries and of course typical masculine traits, such as muscular strength and aggression. . In popular culture, the phrase ‘Men are from Mars, Women are form Venus’ originates from their mythological associations and they have become known as the ‘planets of love’ in astrology, i.e., the primary planets to interpret with regards to our love lives and relationships, with Mars governing the masculine and qualities such as sex and passion while Venus is the feminine, beauty and tenderness.

Jupiter is another bright planet in the night sky, along with Venus and Mars, owing largely to its sheer size. It is the first gas giant and the largest planet in our solar system, the second biggest body after the Sun. It has dozens of moons and some think it is akin to a mini solar system in itself. No wonder then Jupiter is crowned King of the gods. Indeed, in Greek mythology it was tied to the famous Zeus, probably one of the most famous ancient deities. Zeus was the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus and all the other gods residing therein, upholding law, justice and morals. Jove, in later Roman mythology, was depicted similarly and known as ‘shining father’ who protected the state and oversaw laws. In Mesopotamian cultures, Jupiter was held in high esteem also. The Babylonian’s associated it with Marduk, the patron god of their city, who slays the chaotic dragon goddess Tiamat and her demon son Kingu to become king and ruler of all. Going back even further, to Sumeria, Jupiter was noted as the god Enlil and it was perhaps the Sumerian’s who first recorded Jupiter. In astrology, Jupiter relates to expansion, inflation and growth, being the largest planet. Similarly, it can indicate exaggeration, embellishment and drama. Jupiter is also the jolly giant, the key planet for optimism, happiness and revelry. Being so ‘large’ and a king of the gods, it is considered to show kindness, generosity, abundance and wealth. Jupiter rules Sagittarius in astrology and like this Sign it symbolises philosophy and exploration, namely through foreign travel and adventure.

Saturn was the last known planet in our solar system, according to our ancestors. Because of this it became associated with endings and limitations, including death and obstacles, fears and doubts – did anything else lie beyond Saturn, was it truly the last planet? In contrast to the previously beneficial Jupiter, Saturn became a malefic and in classical astrology was considered one of the worst planets, embodying negativity, illness, worry, terror and of course death. Yet it is also related to positive factors. In mythology, for example, Saturnus is the Roman god of agriculture who looks after the crops – vital for ancient cultures living off the land. The Greeks had previously identified Saturn with their god Cronus, who castrated his father Ouranos (later Uranus). But Cronus was also a wise and mature god, a sage, who kept great wisdom. Prior to these cultures the Mesopotamian’s labelled Saturn as the dire god Ninurta, god of war and rain and floods, but also fertile fields and livestock. Astronomically, Saturn’s iconic rings are a symbol of its association with restriction and feeling bound or tied down. Saturn today is not considered entirely negative, as we have evolved to a better understanding of the general nature of life. Saturn still represents limitations and challenges, worry and endings, but this can all lead to the new (represented by Uranus coming next in line). A challenge serves to push us forward, teach us a lesson after which we are improved. Although indicative of fears and worries, these can highlight areas of our lives where we have a chance to make changes, embrace courage and become stronger after facing any fears.

The three outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were not discovered until modern times, when the gods of old had become myth. What is interesting about their discoveries, however, is that the scientists responsible for finding these planets chose to name them after Greco-Roman deities. Therefore, parallels may be drawn between the characteristics of each god and the astrological qualities of the corresponding planet. Uranus, Neptune and Pluto instantly acquired a ripened well of information thanks to the mythological figures after which they were named. And despite stealthily escaping the eyes of our ancient ancestors, comparative deities can still be uncovered dating back to the first great civilisations in Mesopotamia. The fact that these three planets’ astrological traits are linked to Greco-Roman gods and these cultures have roots most probably stemming from Mesopotamia, perhaps suggests that similarities would indeed exist amongst their various deities.

Let’s begin with Uranus, which is Latin for the Greek Ouranos meaning ‘sky’. In Greek mythology Ouranos was the god of the heavens, know as Father Sky, or sometimes thought to represent the sky and heaven itself. Most Greeks considered him primordial and therefore without parentage, although others suggest that he is the offspring of two ancient gods Aether (Air) and Hemera (Day). In astrology, Uranus relates to the sky, lightning and reaching new heights. In later Roman mythology his equivalent was Caelus, also a sky god, who fathered Saturn and was associated with the zodiac sign Aquarius; Uranus is the planetary ruler of Aquarius in astrology. But unlike all the other planets in our solar system, Uranus is the odd one out because it is named after a Greek deity instead of Roman. Astronomically Uranus is odd because it lies on its side and so in astrology the planet is thought to indicate oddities, eccentricity and a quirky nature. Astronomer Edward Herschel stumbled suddenly upon Uranus, in 1781, a time of great revolution on Earth (the industrial revolution to be precise, a time when technology and machine-based manufacturing established a great transformation in how society functioned). Therefore, in astrology, Uranus represents technology, innovative inventions, gadgetry and modern machinery. And owing to its time of discovery it is associated with electricity, which was being introduced to society as new source of power. Uranus’ announcement would have heralded great excitement in the astronomical and scientific communities and indeed the world over. It broke the mould, a new and unexpected planet that dramatically changed our view of the solar system. And when Herschel named the planet after the sky god, it opened up an avenue for further characteristic associations relating to its mythology. Looking back to earlier Mesopotamian cultures, similar deities do exist to Uranus, even though these people were unaware of the planet’s existence. In Sumeria, for example, the god An was also called Father Sky and ruled the heavens. In later Babylonian culture he is Anu and almost interchangeable with An. Uranus is the revolutionary, signalling the new, exciting, original and radical. It beaks rules, aims for the future, adores freedom and all that is unconventional, unusual, eccentric and alternative. Anything unforeseen or surprising and sudden changes come under Uranus, all tying to its unexpected discovery.

Next in line is Neptune, which due to the very nature of its discovery astrologers associated with the mysterious, illusion and obscurity. This is because the planet was the first to be found from theoretical prediction and indirectly, i.e., by observing its gravitational affects on Uranus. But more amazingly, Neptune could have been discovered two centuries earlier (and before Uranus)! Drawings by Galileo, from the 1600’s, show that he did in fact record Neptune, during a conjunction with Jupiter, but mistook it for a star because it was stationary (about to enter retrograde). Neptune is therefore the master of illusion and deception. Even its naming is surrounded by craftiness, when discoverer Urbain Le Verrier wanted to name the planet Neptune and falsely stated it had been officially approved. Coming a century after Uranus’ groundbreaking entrance it missed out on the ‘fresh and novel’ title But Neptune is a beautiful and mysterious gas giant and no doubt fuelled dreams and imaginations too…what other kinds of planets would be discovered? What mysteries indeed did it hold? In Roman mythology, Neptune is the god of fresh water and sea and is comparable with the earlier Greek (and more famous) Poseidon, often depicted gripping the iconic trident that became the symbol for Neptune. Its deep blue gas clouds give the impression of oceans and is perhaps another reason astronomers chose the name. At the time Neptune came into our awareness, in the 19th century, mankind was advancing in understanding medicine, human anatomy and disease prevention. Again, by merging the character of the mythological god with these events, we have an abundance of astrological symbolism. Neptune, in astrology, relates to mysterious illnesses, those that are hard to detect or treat or that eludes us. Pirates, who once ruled the seas, were forced to abandon their kidnapping and slavery of Europeans during the century of Neptune’s appearance and also the last remaining landmasses (namely island chains) were founded. Neptune also represents our dreams and fantasies and how we choose to escape from harsh reality (associated with the previous planet Saturn), whether through fictional novels and movies or drugs and alcohol. It governs high hopes, aspirations and ideals, reaching for new places of thought and pushing the boundaries of our wildest wishes further. The murky, deep world of the subconscious is akin to the great oceans that Poseidon/Neptune himself rules in mythology and the rich blues of Neptune’s cloudy atmosphere. By breaking barriers, it shows that everything is connected, a sort of underlying unity that transcends our physical bodies and so it relates to charity, kindness and volunteering to help others and causes that require our great and combined efforts. The Mesopotamian cultures were of course unaware of Neptune but, as before, there exist deities that are very similar to the Greco-Roman archetype, for example, Enki in Sumeria and Ea in Babylonia. Enki ruled water, groundwater and marshlands, as well as crafts and intelligence. His temple name translates as ‘house of the lord of deep waters’, similar to Poseidon’s underwater temple in Greek mythology. He was often depicted as a man covered with a fish-like suit or skin, or surrounded by fish, with water pouring from his shoulders. In Sumerian mythology he also had a fondness of beer and in astrology Neptune can indicate alcohol and alcohol abuse. Ea, in later Babylonian culture, was son of the sky god Anu (Uranus) and primeval sea goddess Nammu. He lived in the freshwater abyss of Apsu, which surrounded Earth and provided water to all springs and rivers. He was the main divinity of all fluids and deep oceans and the giver of wisdom. A good friend to humanity, Ea imparted great abundance, treasure and knowledge and it is said he taught magic to humans and guarded the sacred Me (pronounced may), divine decrees that organised Sumerian society. A compassionate and helpful deity, he was believed to protect humans from harmful incantations and is related to the Magician in the Tarot. These are all qualities associated with Neptune in astrology and indeed the gods Neptune of Poseidon of later cultures.

We come to the end of journey with Pluto, once the known end of the solar system (much like Saturn in its heyday) but recently demoted to a dwarf planet and apparently one among many. Some astrologers still consider Pluto to be one of the central characters in the solar system assembly. Indeed, in mythology, he is a major deity - Lord of the Underworld. It is somewhat ironic that the planet itself is no bigger than our own Moon but its diminutive size is pure contrast to its meaning in the astrological and mythological worlds. Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto very late on, in 1936. Following suit, it was named after the Roman deity, also know as Orcus, the Underworld god. This once more opened the door for astrologer’s to amass a wealth of symbolic meaning. Like the earlier Greek god Hades, Orucs/Pluto governed death and endings, specifically the ending of life, but of course to our ancestors this was in no way an absolute ending for it gave way to the afterlife. Pluto’s discovery came at a great time of turmoil on Earth, with humanity still reeling from one disastrous World War and on the brink of another, so it’s no surprise that it became associated with many dark overtones; destruction, crises, upheavals, decay and death! But this is a very narrow view of the mighty ‘dwarf’ deity because after the disaster that leads to death comes the sojourn in the Underworld and a possible rebirth. Therefore Pluto indicates regeneration, like the many countries that survived the world wars to rebuild their cities and societies. In the spiritual world, it can mean reincarnation, the soul reborn into a new body and life, while in mythology there are many stories of gods and goddesses having to venture into the dark Underworld only to return anew. In less drastic terms it can imply rejuvenation and recycling, basically reforming something after its demise. Pluto is power, the power to return when all seems lost and gone. In this way it relates to its astronomical discovery, a tiny, dark, icy and barren world, on an unusual elliptical orbit, which almost evaded our detection, only to become the official ending of our solar system - the Underworld indeed. Further back in Earth’s history, Pluto has correlation’s with the Mesopotamian goddess Ereshkigal (both Sumerian and Babylonian). Like Orcus and Hades, she was a goddess of the Underworld and dead and her name was sometimes known as Irkalla, which implied both the goddess and the name of the Underworld realm she ruled (just like Hades in later Greek mythology). Ereshkigal means ‘queen of the below’. The Akkadian’s (another Mesopotamian culture) named her Allatu, meaning ‘strength’, a quality associated with Pluto in astrology. A giant gate, leading to a staircase to the underworld guarded her domain and is similar to Greek mythology, probably from where our modern idea of Hell originates. The land of the dead was desolate and dark, like the planet Pluto itself, where lost souls roamed aimlessly around. Ereshkigal could be a goddess of rage, boundless and primeval, strong and passionate. She is related to the card of Death in Tarot, which in turn is linked with Scorpio – the zodiac sign ruled by Pluto. We can definitely see here the ties with the Greek Hades, Roman god Orcus and the planet Pluto to the earliest manifestations of the Underworld in Mesopotamia.
 
With the arrival of Christianity, polytheistic religions (believing in more than one deity) soon fell out of favour and the idea of one chief, creator god became orthodox. However, astrology continued to capture the minds and imaginations of many people. When we eventually came to understand the planets in our Solar System as heavenly bodies and not as gods and goddesses, astrology persisted with the belief that these planets somehow carried qualities and characteristics that were bestowed unto us at birth. The debate still rages today about how astrology actually functions but the purpose of this essay is to compare the similarities and differences of the planets in astrology to ancient deities, as evidenced.

There is a re-emergence today of polytheism, with New Age movements such as Neo-paganism and Wicca. Astrology is also enjoying popularity again, after many years of doubt and rejection and such beliefs are keeping the idea alive of ancient gods and goddesses, a new-found respect for why we revered them so much in the beginning. Even with all our scientific minds today, we can still appreciate the wisdom and magic of the old.
 

Table I. A comparison of deities from Mesopotamia to Rome
Mesopotamia
Greek
Roman
Planet
Notes
Sumerian
Babylonian
 
 
 
 
Utu
Shamash
Helios/Apollo
Sol/Sol Invictus
Sun {Classical}
 
Nanna
Sin
*Selene/
Artemis
*Luna/ Diana
Moon {Classical}
*The Moon was originally a male deity but became feminine with later cultures.
Nisaba/
*Enki
Nabu
Hermes/Apollo
Mercury
Mercury {Classical}
*There exist correlations between Mercury’s astrological associations with both Nisaba and Enki.
Inanna
Ishtar
Aphrodite
Venus
Venus {Classical}
 
*
Nergal
Ares
Mars
Mars {Classical}
*There is no direct correlation between Mars and any Sumerian deities
*Ishkur/Enlil
Marduk
Zeus
Jove
Jupiter {Classical}
*Ishkur was a minor Sumerian god and in some versions the son of Enlil
Ninib
Ninurta
Cronus
Saturnus
Saturn {Classical}
 
An
Anu
Ouranos
*Caelus
Uranus{1781}
*Associated with the zodiac sign Aquarius, which Uranus rules in astrology
*Enki
Ea
Poseidon
Neptune
Neptune{1846}
*Neptune, like Uranus and Pluto, was not known to the ancients but these gods share similarities with the astrological interpretations
*Ereshkigal
Ereshkigal
Hades
Orcus
Pluto{1930}
*Meaning ‘great lady under earth’

 

Conclusion

The diverse and fascinating world of mythology could never be concisely presented. The ancient deities do not fit neatly into boxes and a straight line cannot always be traced back from the last of the pagan gods to their first incarnation {perhaps with the exception of a few, such as the beautiful Venus}.

Astrology too is a complex system, also developed over humankind’s centuries of civilization, from the epoch of stargazing and the ancient gods to our current scientific understanding of the Universe. At one time the two were inseparable yet now, in today’s world, it seems we no longer have a need for such magnificent pantheons. It is true, however, that both astrology and mythology have contributed a great deal to the artistic, creative and cultural development of humanity, binding various and sometimes conflicting societies together by the common thread of shared gods and goddesses. Whether or not they are underlying prototypes of basic human aspirations or actual beings of a power from a higher dimension should not really be the debate. But why we, as human beings, originally had the need, or desire, to create these almighty entities is the real question.

Today, with the re-emergence of pagan beliefs gaining popularity in New Age circles, the gods of old are returning albeit in a new form. Once again people are identifying with the core qualities expressed by these deities, realising now how they may be in fact projections of ourselves – more precisely our Higher Self, that which one aims to become. In this sense, one can understand why the gods are placed ‘up there’, a place that may only be reached by striving to become our best. With astrology, often cited as the blueprint to an individual’s life, we can discover and learn more about our innate characteristics and current life path that may in fact, one day, lead us to this place of the gods.
 

END.
 
 
References 
  1. Whitfield, P. (2001) Astrology, a History. Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
  2. Fleming, F. (1996). Heroes of the Dawn. Duncan Baird.
  3. Cicero, S.T. (2006) A guide to Babylonian Tarot, Llewellyn Publications.
  4. Cicero, S.T. (2006) A guide to Babylonian Tarot, Llewellyn Publications.
  5. Cicero, S.T. (2006) A guide to Babylonian Tarot. Llewellyn Publications.
  6. Cicero, S.T. (2006) A guide to Babylonian Tarot. Llewellyn Publications.
 

Bibliography

Cicero, S.T. (2006) A guide to Babylonian Tarot. Minnesota. Llewellyn Publications.
Fleming, F. (1996) Heroes of the Dawn. London.Duncan Baird.
Sitchin, Z. (1976) The 12th Planet. New York. HarperCollins
Whitfield, P. (2001) Astrology, a History. New York. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Chiron: the wounded healer

In these times of great change and transition on our little planet many of us are seeking ways to improve our beings, heal our past hurts and strengthen our souls. Of course there are countless methods and practices from which to choose, all offering something a little different. Astrology is one such means, used for centuries in various forms and at best to offer guidance, solace and hope. In today’s society it has transformed into a powerful metaphysical tool that can assist with our psychological development. Most of us are perhaps rather savvy with the lingo now, rhyming off such conversational pieces as ‘What sign is your Moon?’ or ‘What house is your Sun in?’, or even ‘Not another Mercury retrograde!’  But of course there are greater depths to astrology and somewhere down near the bottom you will find a little, seemingly insignificant, body lurking called Chiron.


In astrological circles, the recent Chiron headlines concerned his step into Pisces, which occurred briefly between the 20th April and 19th July 2010 and then again after February 9th 2011. However you may still be wondering, what is Chiron? Well get yourself cozy, for his story goes a little something like this...


In Greek mythology Chiron was a half-man/half-horse, more commonly known as a centaur. They were infamous for their revelry, lust, indulgence and unintelligence and were also quite aggressive when under the influence. But unlike all the other centaur Chiron was caring, cultured and smart not to mention a dab hand at medicine, healing, teaching and astrology (of all things). He did not have a very pleasant upbringing though; the god Cronos (Saturn) took a liking to a beautiful nymph called Philyra, daughter of the sea gods. But Philyra was not interested and turned herself into a horse to avoid Cronos’ advances. The god cleverly disguised himself as a mare and successfully mated with her. However when Chiron was born, Philyra was so repulsed by his appearance that she abandoned him. Despite his tragedy, Chiron was blessed with immortality (being the son of a god) and grew to become a great tutor with many famous students of the times, including Jason, Hercules and Achilles. Most of us have perhaps heard of the term Achilles heel, which means a principal weakness. This is because Achilles had been immersed in the river Styx, by his mother Thetis, hoping that he would become immortal. But because he was dipped in by his foot, this part of his body remained vulnerable. And so it came to pass that he was later wounded by an arrow that struck his heel. Chiron suffered a similar fate to his student, after he was also wounded by an arrow in the leg that had been coated in the blood of the Hydra (a vicious water beast with several heads). Anyone unfortunate enough to be struck by such a tainted weapon would suffer a wound that never heals. Even though Chiron was a master of the healing arts he could not heal his wound and so, being an immortal, he was doomed to live an eternity with his injury. He later sacrificed his immortality in a noble act to save Prometheus, who was punished by the god Zeus for revealing the secret of fire to mankind. This allowed Chiron to escape his eternal wound and he was commemorated through the constellation Centaurus. Like the mythological counterpart, the planetoid Chiron shares similarities. He is a slightly battered half-planet/half-asteroid that nevertheless defiantly orbits between Saturn (Cronos) and Uranus.


In astrology, Chiron has come to represent healing, teaching, bravery and strength and of course our primary weakness or downfall. From 2005 he was in the sign of Aquarius, which concerned our ‘wounded community’ and individual issues of how our thoughts create and control our feelings. He recently teamed up with the Sun and Neptune, which many speculated was a sign for the beginning of great healing times on Mother Earth. But the move into Pisces heralds a period when we can individually confront our real weakness in life and better yet, heal our broken Achilles heel! Pisces favours alternative and complimentary medicines so you may find yourself seeking out such therapies to mend your wounds at this time, which is ideal. New spiritual teachers may come forth too and offer wisdom and healing. Empathy and kindness is paramount when Chiron swims with the Fishes; both planetoid and sign are well known for their benevolence, gentleness and charity so together you can see how we’re entering a time of offering a healing shoulder to lean on. Chiron’s bravery will come through learning to release our ego judgments and show empathy to all humans and causes (not an easy task), thereby promoting healing over hatred. Ultimately the Centaur and the Fishes could bring many of us together and refresh the true spirit of humanity – our underlying unity.


Below is a guide to what you can expect from Chiron by his Sign and House placement in your personal astrological chart. If you are unsure of where Chiron falls in your chart, there are a number of free websites that offer a basic chart drawing or you may like to have a chart reading constructed. Alternatively you might be able to intuit your Chiron placement by reading from the following descriptions.




Chiron in Aries
If you were born when Chiron was in the first sign of the zodiac, you will likely contend with a surplus of energy that needs to be burned up and a desire to accomplish every job you commence. But fleeting enthusiasm and a tendency to act without forethought can be common pitfalls. It may be hard for you to allocate tasks and share responsibilities and you may often feel restless in the search for your true identity. However you can discover your inner hero through healthy competitions, such as in sport and accepting every challenge to win and succeed. You may show false bravery to cover your secret insecurities. But Chiron wants you to dig deeper, be honest and find your real courage by facing your fears with control and caution.


1st House Chiron
When Chiron occupies the first house of your chart, you may be something of an exhibitionist or display a bit of bravado. Hasty and forceful action comes naturally and feelings and emotions can be sharp and delicate, often expressed impulsively and passionately. However, outbreaks of powerful emotion can be overpowering and all of this may just be a front to conceal your inner fears. Chiron here says you are a prospective leader, with the ability and energy to influence others – just be sure not to abuse such a gift for selfish reasons. You can gain positive direction in life through a hobby or career that you love.




Chiron in Taurus
Chiron in the sign of the Bull points to a strange sense of never feeling successful or secure enough, no matter how much money or possessions you acquire. A controlling or materialistic attitude can develop - tendencies you must learn to release. Chiron asks that you perhaps change your definition of what true wealth means, to give more of yourself, help those less fortunate or even make sacrifices. A healthy diet or eating regime is very important when Chiron falls here, as is looking after the body. Discovering your physical weaknesses is essential, so that you may learn to heal. You may have a subtle sexual charisma and creative and artistic work is especially enjoyable.


2nd House Chiron
With Chiron in your second house, you will find that self-assurance comes through developing a strong sense of security and material gain. But you will most likely have to contend with a judgmental nature and the risk of becoming conceited with your triumphs and focused on superficial values. There is a tendency here to be rather obstinate in refusing to accept others’ opinions and people consequently may feel uneasy around you. Chiron wishes you to practice humility, become more conscious of your behaviour and choose love, warmth and kindness over greed and selfishness.




Chiron in Gemini
Chiron lends a strong mentality, intelligence and endless curiosity when he is in Gemini. You are perhaps someone who constantly asks questions and seeks to learn. However negativity can prevent you from communicating freely and you may repress your natural inquisitiveness, for instance, if you were often silenced as a child. Chiron wishes you to ask yourself questions, to develop your feelings and get to know the real you. You may find you experience synchronicity often and have a deep desire to beget changes. By being brave and using your communication skills, you can help others to improve and become more conscious of certain issues affecting their lives.


3rd House Chiron
With Chiron in house three of your chart, you can be quite a cynical and guarded person.  You may prefer your own ideas but making these a reality will often prove challenging. It may seem that you are always searching for answers and having to learn from your mistakes, which is difficult because you do not like to admit to being wrong. So you may frequently try to validate your blunders, become fanatical about minor details or feel under pressure. An ability to manipulate others or win people over with words should be avoided. Chiron asks that you perhaps learn to use your communication skills to teach others what you know.




Chiron in Cancer
Chiron here points to prominent feelings. Being part of a family, group or club or simply having a strong sense of belonging is crucial to your wellbeing. A structured environment will also make you feel safe whereas anything new, startling or strange can make you feel vulnerable and weak. A good career may provide further stability and you ca be very obliging in work. But, at times, you may give more than is required. You like your private life and may often retreat from the social world. Being sensitive to the suffering of others, you must learn to be open to emotional support. Chiron asks that you release nostalgic tendencies and attachment to your past. A dislike of others’ independence means that you need to be brave in developing your own sense of autonomy.


4th House Chiron
Chiron in this house points to someone who is susceptible to powerful feelings that can be dark and worrying. You may be afraid to do your own thing and be independent, suggesting a lack of self-confidence that constricts your actions. Chiron wishes you to overcome these fears. You are a true humanitarian, aware of the suffering of others and wishing to help. But, it seems, coping with your own inner conflicts is difficult, as you face a struggle between boundaries and free expression. Chiron’s lesson is to call upon your inner strengths and be open to receiving support from others whilst enjoying the freedom of independence.




Chiron in Leo
With Chiron in this regal sign, you are likely to find yourself centre of attention – whether that’s good or bad! There is much creative potential, even if you have no real talents; however your goals in life may frequently feel stifled. Chiron asks that you find your forte and constantly seek new interests that allow you to be productive. Indeed, creative work will bring you much contentment if you learn to do it for pleasure rather than adoration or to impress others. Women with this placement may often feel disappointed by men and must learn from broken relationships not to attract the same partners. Chiron instructs you to take charge in changing your life’s direction instead of dwelling on setbacks.  


5th House Chiron
There is a natural innocence and spontaneity when Chiron resides here however quite often it has been repressed from childhood, due to negative programming from authority figures like parents or teachers. This either leads you to feel self-conscious or to act with distorted pride. Nevertheless, a pure sense of awe and a great deal of creativity is at your fingertips and requires urgent expression. Chiron wishes you to learn to stand up for what you truly want in life and reject the ideals forced upon you by elders. You will have opportunities to become self-aware, allowing you to break free from your inhibitions or pretentiousness and then your life will begin to improve.




Chiron in Virgo
The tendency to become a workaholic is prominent with Chiron here. You often feel dominated by habits, schedules and a need for precision but these compulsions must be released, as they can adversely affect your health. Chiron advises you to try and perform your everyday essential tasks with calm, ease and good management; disciplines such as meditation or yoga can prove very effective. You likely possess natural healing abilities and adopting kind, caring roles in your community, along with guidance from a mentor, can provide much satisfaction whilst allowing you to help those in need. You are intelligent and quick-witted but with a tendency to be critical and cynical, in learning, Chiron suggests you think before you speak.


6th House Chiron
Chiron highlights your methodical mind here and gives you the skills to examine and study. And by learning to recognize and evaluate the roots of your own inhibitions you can free yourself from habits; however there is a risk of becoming obsessed with these problems. Chiron advises you to search for what has gone wrong and why then employ whatever tools necessary to move forward. Understanding how your body works and prioritizing your wellbeing is vital, particularly in healing disease and resolving negative conditions. Your body and mind must function in harmony and although it is likely you will accomplish this feat, the assistance and guidance of a metaphysical teacher is best advised.




Chiron in Libra
A Libra Chiron focuses on relationships and overcoming the fear of upsetting their balance and harmony. This fear creates problems because you hold back on speaking openly and honestly with others, in case you cause offence. Chiron tasks you with gaining true awareness of what it takes to make a healthy relationship work by realizing that if others are upset at you this is their choice. Learning to give as well as receive generates greater harmony in any partnership but first you may have to release attachment to past hurts and old resentments or being too polite and overly-considerate. Show bravery by having clear-cut discussions about any relationship problems and avoid provoking your partner deliberately simply because you enjoy making-up. Your hidden strength lies in developing a sympathetic rapport with others, leading to a sense of freedom, fairness and accord, essential for mental and emotional fulfillment. 


7th House Chiron
The primary risk with Chiron here is a tendency to fuse so deeply with a partner that you loose your individuality. There is typically an urge to commit rashly in relationships, which leads to heartbreak and meaningless encounters. Chiron suggests you learn from your past experiences, which will be difficult because you often see your partner as an extension of your self. Continuing on this path will eventually lead to great selfishness because ultimately you will repress your partner’s independence. In such cases you will attract people who are vulnerable, weak or dependent thereby submitting to your power and control. Chiron’s bravery and strength comes into play by teaching you to be with a partner through selflessness and unconditional love, setting your partner free so that he or she will return; equality and sharing are essential.




Chiron in Scorpio
Chiron in Scorpio tends to lend a rather clear-cut outlook on life, seeing everything as either one or the other. However it can also point to intense moods and emotional outbursts or acts of ultra-bravery, creating an impervious front, which are all actually ways of masking your deep insecurities and uncertainty. Chiron’s challenge can manifest as a troublesome illness in early life or feelings of depression and displacement and there could be a strong desire to be reborn. Chiron teaches you to embrace your ambitious, competitive streak to become successful in business. An intrinsic urge to be the boss can be tenderized through learning to recognize others’ needs and feelings. Chiron asks you to step back from extreme action and over-reaction, whilst your potent sexuality, passions and charisma must not be abused but used as strengths.


8th House Chiron
The presence of Chiron in the eighth sector can indicate a strong fixation with materiality, gain, sex, power and risk-taking. In fact you may feel that nothing can stop the pursuit of your personal desires. You may be a very private person preferring to keep secrets or you could become quite submissive and cowering. Chiron teaches you to be a deeply self-seeking soul and grants you a strong, latent psychic ability. With courage and commitment this can become an extraordinary asset. Chiron reminds you to work on taming or releasing the desires that threaten to consume you and once you achieve this goal you will become a powerful force, using your authority for the greater good of all.




Chiron in Sagittarius
When Chiron meets the Archer there is often an overpowering urge to search, study and progress endlessly throughout life. And if you do not find, or even know what you are looking for then this will lead to a great deal of frustration. Chiron tasks you with finding a sure direction, which will require learning to make wise judgments and overcoming the urge for careless action. If you do not, you will constantly change your direction and sabotage whatever you have achieved so far. Chiron wishes you to see that you have much to offer and to courageously embrace the lessons that teach you about your true self. Then you will achieve a sense of inner harmony and wholeness.


9th House Chiron 
The pursuit of information and enlightenment can be rather overwhelming when Chiron falls here. This results in anxiety and stress, preventing your from assimilating whatever it is you are trying to learn and from sharing it with others. Stubborn or rigid beliefs and views will have to be relinquished if you wish to learn Chiron’s wisdom and achieve balance in life. You will likely undergo extensive changes in your thinking and by the journeys you take because of a very daring and adventurous nature. There may well have been disagreements with your parents or authority over religious matters and consequently you will either venerate your spirituality or abandon it entirely.




Chiron in Capricorn
With Chiron here you are perceived as very dependable and have the ability to instill great confidence in others. However you may become too fixated on the material or business world, elevating yourself to levels where others will admire you. Chiron suggests you take great care when undertaking such roles because you can easily loose control. There may have been difficulties with your father or harsh authority figures when growing up, leading to certain inhibitions. Until these problems are healed you will not feel free nor be able to fully express your strengths, such as ambition and fortitude. Chiron reminds you there is plenty of time to achieve these goals and that you will never give up on your ideals or attaining your wishes.


10th House Chiron
Chiron invariably brings your attention to the future from this house. You will frequently feel compelled to embrace all that is unique and alternative, whilst not upsetting old conventions, always aiming for what you feel is appropriate and just. This can make you a very pleasant and attractive person, but your penchant for trying to help those you perceive as hapless may lead to resentment when they do not achieve similar success. You may be very drawn to roles of authority and will have the power to gain successful control. But Chiron asks you to embrace this love of leadership with a positive, humanitarian attitude, using creativity and practicality to influence worthwhile causes.




Chiron in Aquarius
Chiron works well here with his healing abilities in affording you the same gift. A strong positive attitude helps you to manage any sickness and recover quickly, although the downtime can give you necessary space for self-analysis. Instead of disregarding your flaws, Chiron teaches you to accept them and this will lead to victory. You may have problems accepting others people’s views on life and more so if you perceive them as being less intelligent. There can also be a fear of commitment and you cannot stand anyone confining you, as your sense of personal freedom is highly valued and this can encourage sexual liberty. Chiron asks that you learn to respect others’ differences and remain open to finding the ‘right’ partner for you, by promoting balance in any relationship; otherwise you can exile yourself from a life shared with someone else.


11th House Chiron
In this house Chiron highlights the great importance of setting aside ‘me-time’; in other words, you need to create a space for yourself, physically, emotionally and mentally. This will allow you to get in touch with your unique and innovative thoughts and theories. You also need to bring order and concrete realism to your ideas and avoid being vague or impractical, if you wish to make progress. Chiron’s lesson here is learning to accept fair criticisms and to turn arguments into healthy debates; otherwise you can end up the loser. You have what it takes to show the way, with a friendly nature, vibrant charisma and morals and values that will likely appeal to the masses.




Chiron in Pisces
Chiron sits strongly in the final sign of the zodiac. He encourages continual learning and study, granting you great intelligence, wisdom and a passion for spirituality. However this can clash with the mundane material world and practical tasks of daily life. Dispelling confusion and organizing your thoughts can be difficult because you prefer to work from your emotions, whilst commitments to your loved ones can be neglected because of an irresistible urge to help others. This can drain your energy and cause you to make personal sacrifices. Chiron suggests you allow time to focus on your own needs, such as your exceptional creative talents. New Age paths or alternative therapies can offer great healing, which you can then use to aid others. And by establishing a strong sense of direction in life, you will eventually discover and heal your own wounds. 


12th House Chiron
If you have Chiron in the last house of your chart, there are likely to be periods of dissatisfaction and a sense of inferiority. These can prove difficult to understand and as a result you may isolate yourself at times, to deal with your hurt. You may be drawn to negative escapism but it is essential you avoid such behavior when feeling sad, or there could be resultant problems. Chiron gives you a powerful imagination, which you can use effectively in creative or artistic works to express your feelings, but encouragement may be required from others. Chiron also suggests you consider studying esoteric and metaphysical disciplines, which can prove greatly beneficial in improving your courage and strength. But ensure you seek the guidance of a skilled mentor and be wary of the Achille’s heel to exploit your special gifts for selfish or ulterior motives.




Chiron himself may not be around anymore to teach us his wisdom, but we can follow his passage in our astrological birth charts. Here, he points the way to greater insight about our personal life lessons - how we can become braver, embrace our strengths, heal and manage our weaknesses. And by doing so we learn to contribute our best to humanity, with a sense of purpose and value, in these revolutionary times.