Chapter 5. Astrological signs


The Babylonians saw omens in the sky. There, during the first month of the solar year, an image of a ram patterned in the stars, twenty-three hundred years before Christ. Today, we use the Greek name, Aries, associated with Mars, the masculine, the element of fire, the inspirational leader, dynamic, easy to anger, choleric, and think of Aries as a myth or an allegory, like the other constellations in the zodiac, not an omen that influences earthy events.


The bull, unintuitively, is feminine, associated with the planet Venus. She is an earth sign, warm, generous, but melancholic and stubborn. * A system to make sense of the range of human experience begins with the second step. Since the zodiac has twelve houses and the universe has four elements, people have four personalities, and there are two polarities, variously characterized as Yang and Yin, strife and love, we can repeat these to see different combinations as we cycle through the year.


Somehow I, being a male Pisces, my fatal attractions were female Gemini. Well, only figuratively fatal. We can make this fit. Yin mutable water male meets Yang mutable air female. Thomas the twin meets the Twins. This was selection bias in action. If the myth seems to fit, then it provides terms and concepts for experience to perpetuate it.


Hercules crushed a crab. Hera or Juno placed it in the sky to form the constellation, they say. Every culture has its goddesses and heroes, and the stars are their tabula rasa.


The lion is a force of nature. The lion is a noble beast. The lion is a gift from the earth, a symbol of ambition and strength, a symbol of courage and confidence, a symbol of loyalty and joy. The Nemean lion was impervious to sword or arrow and its claws could penetrate any armor. The story about how Hercules killed it shows that nothing is impossible, good or bad. A Leo is engaging and assertive. A Leo wants to shine. But even the Nemean lion could fall.


Astraea, goddess of justice, innocence, purity, precision, will one day return to Earth and bring back the golden age when the gods will again assume responsibility, ending wars, instability, poverty, and toil. Presently, however, she rests among the stars and her light only feebly shines on us.


If there weren’t a goddess of justice in the firmament we would need to trace one over the sky to remind us every dawn and dusk to balance love with justice.


Under the influence of Scorpio, a person might be intuitive, curious, observant, receptive, creative, imaginative, magnetic, sensitive, patient, tactful, assertive, tenacious, obsessive, serious, brooding, secretive, and peace-loving. We have this from the best authorities.


Chiron the centaur who taught Achilles music, healing, archery, prophecy, truth-seeker, truth-teller, bridges animal and human, human and divine, and teaches respect for wisdom that is not our own.


Far away in the sea the lord of the earth, the god of wisdom and magic, source of the waters of life, holds in a subterranean temple of obsidian the divine powers of civilization.
 And what are those? I think they are a writing system, arithmetic, religions, and bureaucracy. I think the divine powers are less than they’re cracked up to be.


For the Greeks, he was a shepherd whom Zeus abducted to pour his wine and bear his cup, but the jug of Aquarius contains water, not wine, or, perhaps, meteor showers. Intelligent, stable, stubborn, and contrarian, the Aquarian, they say, is a socially conscious collaborator. My father was Aquarian, but I would say he was more than that, deeper and more.


Two fish complete the circle that I was born on, originally ichthyocentaurs who helped Aphrodite when she was born, or Aphrodite and her son Eros transformed into fish to escape the monster Typhon, or Christ the fisherman. None of us are simple types; all are shape-shifters, adaptable. Biography and circumstances, imagination and intuition, inner awareness of thoughts and feelings, receptive, sensitive, sympathetic, but each of us is unique. Uniqueness is the contradiction that establishes the pattern.