At 03.04 UTC/GMT today, the 22nd of November, the Sun moved (astrologically) into the zodiac sign of Sagittarius. Here in the northern hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and the path of the sun – when we see it at all! – is low in the southern sky. The time of solstice, when the sun will appear to be at a standstill, is approaching – but for now, we’re in the Fire sign of Sagittarius.
The constellation of Sagittarius represents a centaur - the half-archer, half-horse figure who, in Greek mythology, was a disruptive creature, a lover of riot. The most famous story of the centaurs has them causing havoc at the wedding of Hippodamia and Pirithous, where they attempted to carry of Hippodamia and some of her women - the aim being to free the spirit of the women!
Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, the largest of the planets in our solar system, and one that’s composed almost entirely of gas. Not difficult to see how Sagittarius has come by its reputation for being larger than life, full of hot air, and a tendency to overdo things! Jupiter is the Roman counterpart to Zeus in the Greek pantheon - the ruler of the gods, as well as being the god of thunder. Often shown with a lightning bolt as his symbol, Jupiter came to represent growth, expansion, and benevolence (in astrology, the planet is referred to as the 'greater benefic') - as well as good humour. Jupiter was also known as Jove, giving rise to our word 'jovial'. Sagittarius, as well as being a Fire sign, is also classed as a mutable sign – being able to change and adapt, and to disseminate or spread. We can see this in the growth and expansion associated with Jupiter.
‘Sagittarius’ ©Alison Coals
The sign of Sagittarius sits at the other end of the axis of information on the zodiac, opposite Gemini. Both signs carry the quality of wanting to know what’s going on but Sagittarius takes this quest for knowledge out into the wider world and beyond into the universe. It takes Gemini’s information and data on its quest, searching for ways to turn that into wisdom. Like the other Fire signs, Sagittarius is fun-loving, cheerful, and full of energy - but that mutable energy means it can be restless and always on the move. In cardinal Aries, we have ignition; in fixed Leo, the fire is maintained; in mutable Sagittarius, the fire is carried out into the world. That’s part of being on its quest for knowledge, of course – but that doesn’t stop Sagittarius from enjoying the journey and having adventures; just think of the Knights on their quest for the Holy Grail!
Adventure and challenge, wide open spaces, the freedom to roam – that’s what Sagittarius loves. It’s not just physical exploration though – it’s also the need to expand consciousness, acquiring wisdom as well as experience. Philosophy, religion, law – anything that involves expansion of the mind will appeal to Sagittarius. There are shamanic associations to this sign too – the vision quest or shamanic journey could be seen as very Sagittarian.
What happens when you overfill a balloon with hot air? It’s likely to burst. Well, this happens here too – Sagittarius is optimistic to the point of being unrealistic, promising to do more than is humanly possible and not being able to deliver. There’s a tendency to live in the future, imagining the endless possibilities, but not noticing what’s going on in front of them, on the ground. But that optimism also leads to a belief in luck and good fortune – more Jupiterian qualities!
‘Sagittarius’, a collage, using watercolour on paper and origami paper, comes from my AstroArt series, inspired by walking the Glastonbury Landscape Zodiac).