Sunday, 30 September 2018

Libra ingress - turning point

Yes, the Sun has moved into Libra, in astrological terms at least. It often feels, to me, like the start of a new year - perhaps reflecting many years spent in the world of education in the northern hemisphere: the start of a new school yar, new term, new friends, new connection.  A turning point in our lives - and in the astronomical world too.

The Libra ingress marks the turning point where, depending on which hemisphere you’re in, the days either become shorter (north) or longer (south), due to the tilt of the Earth and its position relative to the Sun.  This point, where the length of day apparently is equal to the length of night, is marked by the ingress of the Sun into the astrological sign of Libra (in the tropical zodiac) – the scales.

The constellations of Scorpio (left) and Libra (right)
The constellation of Libra (Latin for “weighing scales”) was known as Zibanu (“balance” or “scales”) in Babylonian times. Scales were sacred to Shamash, the Babylonian sun god, who was also associated with truth and justice, concepts that are still associated with the sign of Libra today.  The Babylonians also called this constellation the Claws of the Scorpion – the constellation sits next to that of Scorpio and may have been considered to be part of the scorpion. The Arabic word for scorpion is “zubana”, not dissimilar to the Babylonians’ “zinbanu”, which might perhaps account for the “claws” becoming the ‘scales”.

In Egyptian mythology, Libra is represented by Ma’at, the goddess of the scales who would, at the time of death, weigh the human soul against an ostrich feather to determine whether or not the soul would reincarnate.  Greek mythology gives us Themis, a blindfolded seer who also carries a pair of scales.  The archangel Michael, in Christianity, holds the scales. In each tradition, the theme is balance, of keeping things – be they social or spiritual – in order.  But the story that resonates most with me is the Greek story of the Judgment of Paris.

It starts with the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Eris, the goddess of Discord (a “shadow” side of Libra), hasn’t been invited but decides to gate-crash. She throws a golden apple down in front of all the goddesses who have been invited.  On the apple is inscribed ‘to the fairest’.... and so we have perhaps the first beauty pageant! Hera, Aphrodite and Athena are the front-runners, and ask Zeus (Jupiter, in Roman terms) to choose. Zeus, in his wisdom (or some would argue, cowardice!), elects Paris, a Trojan mortal to be the judge. Atop Mount Ida, the three goddesses attempted to bribe Paris – Hera dangled the prospect of becoming king of Europe and Asia, Athena wisdom and battle skills, and Aphrodite the most beautiful woman in the world.  Paris chose Aphrodite’s gift – Helen, wife of the Greek king Menelaus... and the rest, as they say, is history, at least in mythological terms.  The Trojan horse, the “face that launched a thousand ships” ... even the idea of “who is the fairest” comes up again and again – and not only in fairy tales such as Snow White!

'Libra' © Alison Coals
So many Libran qualities are illustrated in this myth –beauty, harmony, attraction, negotiation and adjudication.  And no surprise that Venus (the Roman goddess most similar to Aphrodite) is the ruler of Libra!  But “to the fairest”?  That also taps into Libran ambiguity!  The fairest in terms of the most beautiful, or the most even-tempered? The most well-balanced when it comes to making judgments? 

Libra, despite the association with beauty and attraction through Venus, is more a sign of balance. It’s considered and reflective, more concerned with “the other” (7th house) than with the “I” (1st house). Libra is mediator, negotiator, and diplomat.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

New Moon in Pisces

The Sun and Moon join each other in the final degrees of Pisces (26°53) at 13:11 UT today.  Pisces, as we’ve seen over the last month’s posts, is the dreamer, the chaser of the Grail. Pisces represents compassion and sensitivity, empathy – and shows us where we want to merge, rather than stand out. It’s linked to dreams and visions, and our highest ideals. Imaginative, but not a lover of boundaries – it wants to transcend limits.

It can also represent the willingness to let go of things that hold us back.  We may find that we have to let go of some of the ‘fixed’ ideas we had at last month’s Aquarian New Moon.  Now it’s time to let go of what isn’t working, of what doesn’t want to be pushed into a fixed structure, and to be more open to whatever unexpected joys lie ahead.

Mercury and Venus are in Aries at this New Moon, so there‘s also some Cardinal energy around, playing with new plans or initiatives.  But whatever we start now, at this New Moon, has to be practical. Why? Because a couple of hours after the New Moon, Mars enters Capricorn (at 16.40 UT).  Mars is exalted in Capricorn, adding a burst of fiery energy to Capricorn’s earthy efficiency and tenaciousness.  But it’s also moving closer to Saturn, very much at home in Capricorn, so some boundaries may be needed after all! I think the trick to this is the willingness to accept (a very Piscean concept) some practical structures that will prevent us from straying into murky waters.

Any new intentions that we set around this time will be worth revisiting at the Pisces Full Moon, which falls on August 26th this year.  What might we want to achieve in the next 6 months?

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Pisces in the court cards - the Knight of Cups

Last but not least, by any means – Pisces in the court cards.  Different traditions have different astrological correspondences when it comes to the Court Cards.  Generally (but not always!) these correspondences depend on how cardinality, fixity and mutability have been assigned.  As Pisces is the mutable Water sign, I’m looking for the Cups court card that’s associated with fluctuating emotions and changes within relationships of all kinds – romantic, platonic, familial.

Prince of Cups (trimmed):
© Druid Craft Tarot
So what court card does this represent?  If you work with a system that assigns mutability to the Knights, as do most of the Rider-Waite-Smith-based decks, you’re looking at the Knight of Cups.  This Knight will react through his feelings – his heart will rule his head! He’s kind and sympathetic, with an affinity for the underdog.  Not one of the speedy Knights, the image usually depicts the Knight on horseback walking slowly, often beside water – letting things happen in their own time, not pushing or rushing. In some images, he wears a winged helmet, representing the wings of spirit – the realm that Pisces is most interested in.  The Piscean Knight is a dreamer, one who longs for an all-encompassing, ideal love.

Son of Cups (trimmed):
© Haindl Tarot
Knights are often associated with quests – this one will be in search of love, in pursuit of dreams and ideals, and will be willing to make sacrifices.  The Son of Cups in the Haindl deck is represented by Parsifal, one of the Knights who searched for the Holy Grail – an ideal if ever there was one.  Inspired, too – another Piscean Knightly quality. Emotional integrity is a good phrase for a Piscean court card; could this be the object of the quest?

The shadow side of this Knight could be a tendency to be moody, or to becoming lost in a dream world – possibly to the point of becoming addicted to something in the quest to lose oneself, to escape the reality of daily life.

Druid Craft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections
Haindl Tarot, created by Hermann Haindl, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, you might be interested in my e-book, Astrology in Tarot

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Pisces in the Minor Arcana: The Ten of Cups

The Ten of Cups, in the astrological correspondence system I follow, is linked to Mars in Pisces, and the final third of Pisces (10th-19th March). 

First of all, what qualities does Mars bring to Pisces?  Fire and Water... Mars is assertive and determined, and takes the initiative – so in Pisces, we could be looking for assertiveness in terms of ideals or ideology. Assertive, but at the same time compassionate and kind.  The initiative and drive we associate with Mars will be softened by the sensitivity of Pisces.  Desires and dreams are achieved by following instinct, or those moments of inspiration. The shadow side of this could manifest in emotional vulnerability.
10 of Cups (trimmed):
© Crowley Thoth Tarot

And in the Ten of Cups?  I’m going to start with the Thoth deck, because – being a visual person – I like to see the astrological symbolism in the card’s image! If you look carefully at the cups, you can see that the handles are actually rams’ horns, giving us the Mars (through its rulership of Aries) connection. Gerd Ziegler writes, in his Tarot: Mirror of the Soul (published by Weber Books, 1998), Mars in Pisces provides “the apparently fragile being with the decisiveness needed to bring forth into the outer world the beauty which it holds within.”  So we have the drive of Mars, but not the drama of Aries – instead, Pisces allows those qualities to gently radiate. 

Ten of Cups (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
That helps me to see the more permanent sense of contentment that we’ve come to associate with the Ten of Cups – as opposed to the moment of ‘bliss’ of the Nine.  With the Ten, we have a sense of completion – emotional fulfilment in relationships, be they romantic, familial, platonic.  To achieve and maintain this sense of fulfilment (Crowley used the word ‘satiety’ to describe this card), we need the effort and drive of Mars, allowing us to turn our dreams into reality, rather than let them stay a Piscean vision. But we still have that Piscean flow (Mutable Water) of feeling running through the card – symbolized in the Sharman-Burke/Caselli image (from the Beginners Guide to the Tarot) by the river off to the side, as well as the contentment represented by the happy family.

Ten of Vessels (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The Wildwood shows that unconstrained happiness – compare it to the Saturn in Pisces Eight of Vessels. In the Eight, the water is flowing but it’s being channelled – a structure has been imposed on the flow. In the Ten, there’s no such constraint – the water is in free-fall, splashing, full-on Mars flow!

Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

If you’ve enjoyed this post, you might be interested in my e-book, Astrology in Tarot.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Pisces in the Minor Arcana: The Nine of Cups

9 of Cups (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
Today we move on to the Nine of Cups, which - in the system I use - is linked to Jupiter in Pisces, as well as the  middle third of Pisces (28th February to 9th March, roughly).  Jupiter is the ruler of Pisces, so already we have a sense of how this might play out! Jupiter, the ‘Greater Benefic’, expansive, generous, jovial... and in Pisces, described so well by William Blake’s “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" (from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). Jupiter in Pisces is compassionate and sensitive, and has great faith or trust in a higher power (and the self).  It wants to grow by living according to its ideals – it’s high-minded, yet its generosity of spirit makes it sympathetic to everyone and everything.

9 of Cups (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
Jupiter’s expansiveness gives rise to overflowing watery emotions, symbolized in the Sharman-Bruke/Caselli version of the card by the fountains, or the overflowing cups in the Crowley Thoth and Wildwood decks. In Pisces, it’s all about bliss, deep joy, overflowing love... without restrictions.  Mutable Water.

It’s the benevolence of Jupiter, the all-expansiveness,  that gives the Wildwood’s Nine of Vessels its keyword ‘generosity’. The emotions are nourished, the senses are satisfied (symbolized by the spread of food and the embracing couple depicted in the Sharman-Caselli card) – it’s a time for indulging, to enjoy relationships.  Often referred to as the ‘wish card’, the Nine of Cups can represents dream or wishes coming true and, through Jupiter in Pisces, the sense of ‘blessedness’ that comes from deep-rooted, absolute joy.

9 of Vessels (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The shadow side of Jupiter in Pisces, and the Nine of Cups, is the tendency towards escapism, and losing focus. Not that escapism is always a bad thing, but Jupiter takes things to excess, so what might be healthy escapism runs the risk of becoming an addiction. It could be difficult to deal with the outpouring of emotions, to the point where the emotions end up becoming blocked for fear of the consequences. 

If you’ve enjoyed this post, you might be interested in my e-book, Astrology in Tarot, now available from Amazon.

Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Friday, 2 March 2018

Virgo Full Moon

In the early hours of the morning (00:51 UT here in the UK), the Moon was exactly opposite the Sun in the sky – meaning it was a Full Moon.  If you’re interested in the details, the Moon was at 11°23 Virgo opposing the Sun in Pisces.

At Full Moon we look back at what progress we’ve made since the New Moon (that amazing Lunar Eclipse on February 15th!). What did we set in motion then? That New Moon was in Aquarius so perhaps we were thinking about starting something original – exploring an unorthodox or unconventional approach to a new project. 

We’ve reached the peak of that now, with this Full Moon.   It’s time to look back and assess the strengths and flaws of our intentions.  If we think of the Full Moon as a mirror (the Moon reflects the light of the Sun), we may ‘see the light’ as to how to make the most of the virtues (Virgo) of our plans.  The challenge, on this Virgo-Pisces axis, is to find a way to integrate judgment and compassion. 

It’s also worth thinking back 6 months or so, to the Virgo New Moon, back in September 2017 (on the 20th).  What were your intentions then?  Perhaps you were setting new work routines in place, or starting a new fitness regime? Anything to do with your daily routines and what keeps you healthy – be it in mind, body, or spirit.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Pisces in the Minor Arcana: The Eight of Cups

In the astrological correspondence system that I follow, Pisces is linked to the Eight, Nine and Ten of Cups. Today I’m going to look at the Eight of Cups, which corresponds to Saturn in Pisces – and to the first third of Pisces (so this year, the 18th-27th February).

Pisces is the mutable Water sign, so we’re looking at our emotional resources and how these might need to change.  Saturn sets limits – something that Pisces doesn’t like! – but also helps us to maintain our integrity. Combined with Pisces, it wants to transcend the restrictions that we find ourselves surrounded by so that we can ‘merge’ with others.  It needs to find a way to express its feelings in such a way that it still feels stable – but not stuck.

Eight of Cups (trimmed):
© Sharman-Burke/Caselli Tarot
So how might this play out in the Eight of Cups?  Let’s start with a relatively ‘traditional’ depiction of the Eight of Cups – as illustrated by the Sharman-Burke/Caselli (Beginners Guide to the Tarot) deck. Here we see a figure walking away from eight cups, neatly and carefully stacked.  Despite the care taken to place the cups in this pattern, the figure is abandoning them because they no longer provide the emotional security needed.  Notice the waning moon in the sky – something is drawing to an end.  There’s no sign of any life in the landscape, so there’s no hint as to what the figure is heading towards. But ‘8’ is the number of death and birth (8th house themes, in astrology), cycles and recycling – time to let go of what’s no longer working, time to move forward to something new and (as yet) unknown (shades of the Moon card, associated with Pisces). Otherwise, stagnation looms.

Eight of Cups (trimmed):
© Thoth Tarot
Stagnation is the theme of the Eight of Cups in the Thoth deck, showing us the other side of the coin, so to speak.  Here we see standing water, unmoving, at risk of becoming stagnant without the flow of fresh water to refresh the situation.  Saturn represents the needs to set some new limits, to learn to say ‘no’, to walk away from a situation or relationship – something that’s close to the heart - that’s no longer working, despite all the time and effort that’s been put into it. Things have run their course, the well is dry; it’s time to move on. Saturn in Pisces speaks of the need to change old patterns so that we don’t become stuck in an emotional rut, or stagnate.

Eight of Vessels (trimmed):
© Wildwood Tarot
The Wildwood Tarot wasn't created with astrology in mind, but I like to look at it to see if there's any connections in the imagery.  In the Eight of Vessels we see water flowing freely - but is it? The rocks place boundaries on the water, collecting it in pools before channelling it between rocks to keep it moving! So yes, Saturn in Pisces works here...

Eight of Cups (trimmed):
© Margarete Petersen Tarot
In Margarete Petersen’s Eight of Cups, the frame around the image alone gives us a sense of structure being imposed, something being restricted.  Within the frame, an upside-down head is submerged in the deep blue sea. A stream of lighter blue emanates from it up to the surface – air rising to the surface and on up into the atmosphere (as I see it!). Again, the idea of being trapped in the depths of something that feels out of our control, yet we find a way to breathe and draw in air from beyond the barrier that holds us in this ‘hemmed-in’ state/place. And if we don’t? Indolence, or a sense of stagnation, could set in.

Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA/Deep Books, 2004.
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections