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Fixed Stars and Constellations
Diana K. Rosenberg
Vice President of NCGR's Uranian Society
sky itself, with its majestic star-set figures, is the root of every
astrologer’s knowledge and craft; without an understanding of why and
how these glorious star-emblazoned constellation shapes were created,
established, and carried down to us through thousands of years, we risk
remaining narrow and unsophisticated in our delineation of nativities.
Now at last, at the end of the 20th century of the Common Era - more
than 5,000 years after the scribes of Sumer first recorded the
extraordinarily ancient wisdom that had been passed down to them by
memory-chanters - our computers, data collections, and the recovery and
translation of ancient texts have made it possible to rediscover,
analyze, and test our great heritage of star-knowledge that was once
known only to the most learned priests of the earliest civilizations.
Perhaps the most extraordinary discovery is that there is nothing casual or coincidental in the constellational sky - every constellation, (including those of the "Sphaera Barbarica" - the figures above and below the ecliptic that are not part of the zodiac), indeed, each posture, position, length and breadth of every figure, has its reason and message. These energies are still operating, and may be taken and used in the day-to-day counseling of a modern astrologer!
Gradually, over more than two thousand years, the Zodiac of Signs, that is, of our familiar tropical degrees, has shifted backward, largely bypassing the ancient sky figures that gave them their original names and identities, and now overlaying the star-figures that once preceded each of them. Our familiar division of 12 equal signs, each 30° in length, came into being in Babylonia some time in the early 5th century BCE, apparently designed to jibe with an already existing calendar of 12 months of 30 days each. The earliest known horoscope, without houses or aspects (except conjunctions), is dated April 29 410 BC, at Babylon; the positions of Sun, Moon, and planets were defined only by the constellations they were in. By the time of Hipparchus, however (2nd century BCE), the equinoxes and solstices were slipping noticeably out of sync with the beginnings of the constellations they were identified with. Hipparchus (fl. 146-127 BCE) realized the implications of this phenomenon, discerning the process known as the precession of the equinoxes, whereby the Vernal Equinox - the point at which the Sun on its apparent course defining the ecliptic, crosses the celestial equator each spring, moving backwards (or westward - to the right on a star map) through the stars at the rate of 1° every 72 years. The 5th-century BCE calendar of Athenian astronomer Euctemon was based upon the solstices and equinoxes, naming each month by its sky sign and offering Hipparchus a structure based upon the actual seasons rather than the ancient figures in the sky. This we now know as the tropical zodiac.
By the time of Ptolemy (2nd century CE) the signs were "off" by 8° against the backround of their corresponding constellation patterns, and a choice had to be made: whether to stay with the sky figures, or to count in twelve 30° segments from the gradually precessing Vernal Equinox. For the most part, the Greeks stayed with the 4-cornered structure of the seasons, i.e. the sol-stices & equinoxes, and let the actual sky-figures gradually shift from away from their former seasonal places. But at the same time they kept the constella-tions' traditional names, assigning them to the new, gradually-moving tropical signs. This is the system we in the west have inherited: 12 equally sized signs, beginning with 0° Aries, where the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator.
Even though the venerable constellation star-figures have been bypassed, each one overlaid with the sign that originally followed it, these archaic "pictures in the sky" retain and maintain an influence and power, not only in the symbolic, "mythic" areas of our lives, but in a physical way as well. To a surprising degree, the outer frame, shape, and condition of our physical bodies, and the enveloping myths that we enact in each lifetime, are derived from these primordial figures; they represent the personal incarnational drama each of us enacts, every day, in each lifetime.
Our tropical zodiac sign of Taurus, was originally the sky figure of the Bull; but now, each year, as the Sun moves through tropical Taurus (the sign, not the constellation) it is actually traveling through a skyscape of the stars of the Ram. And those of us who call ourselves "Aries" were actually born when the Sun traversed the Fishes. In just this way, each tropical sign now largely overlays the star figure (or morpheme) that originally lay behind it. Just as tropical Taureans have backed up onto the Ram, tropical Aries swim with the Fishes; tropical Pisceans have moved in on the figure of the Water-Pourer; tropical Aquarians now brave the stormy waves with the Sea-Goat, tropical Capricorns ride the back of the half-human, half-equine Archer, tropical Sagittarians attempt to tame the menacing Scorpion, tropical Scorpios nest in the Scales of Justice (which were, even very far back, both Scales & the great Scorpion's extended claws). Tropical Librans now find their balance in the midst of the magnificent Virgin-goddess, tropical Virgoans have taken over the body & tail of the lion, but still possess the upper part of the head of the Virgin; tropical Leos, while still hanging on to the head and forepaws of the original Lion (hear them roar!), have the earlier 2/3 of their sign in the cautious, self-protective Crab; tropical Cancers now envelop the Twin brothers, tropical Geminis have bravely taken over the thundering, sensual Bull of Heaven, and we are back to where the zodiac started: the Bull, leader of the great cycle of signs from about 4,500 BCE (or about 3,000 BCE, depending upon whether you start the figure of the Bull at its horns, or its famous Royal eye), until about 2,300 BCE. Brilliant, red royal star Aldebaran, the Bull's South Eye (now 9Gem43), marked the vernal equinox at the time that the first system of writing developed in Sumer (southern Iraq) at about 3,300 BCE. (Exactly opposite the Bull's Eye, at 9Sag41, is red Antares, the fierce, royal Heart of the Scorpion).
These overlays, confusing at first, become enlightening when we search for the deeper layers of astrology's primeval sources. For while I persist in the belief that the tropical zodiac is the most useful for day to day interpretation of horoscopes, I believe that it is the ancient sky-pattern figures - the actual constellations - that reveal the "fated" or mytho-symbolic level of our lives. Fate is a harsh word, conjuring images of helplessness, passivity, "what's-the-use-of-trying" emotions; but the actuality is that the soul, in each lifetime, has chosen a body, sexual polarity, set of parents, locale, schooling, economic situation, and formative matrix that will best nurture the spirit and carry it forward in the direction it has chosen to explore.
It has been my experience in counseling that the most meaningful and exciting reactions from my clients come when I describe the constellation patterns and individual fixed stars on their charts (usually at the end of the reading). There is often a profound, personal emotional response that resonates on a "life-myth" level of being. Often a client’s deepest conflicts are delineated by the difference between the archetypes of the tropical signs and the original constellations: the variance, for instance, between proud, courageous tropical Leo, and his underlying sensitive, cautious, vulnerable star-Crab; or the tropical sign of Cancer, home-loving, self-protective, careful; but now fully overlaying the original Gemini siblings, who were rollicking, daring, athletic adventurers! It is the task of each of us to find ways to reconcile these differences and make them work creatively in our lives. Many Cancers, for instance, become actors, writers, or filmmakers, permitting themselves the vicarious experience of danger and adventure while actually remaining quite snug and safe, while others translate Cancer’s love of home to love of homeland, and become super-patriotic, adventuresome test pilots, astronauts, or Olympic athletes!
It was the realization that the original sky-figures carry powerful messages of the symbolic and mythic elements of our lives that led me to dig deep into astrology’s roots, to seek out the earliest sources of these ancient constellations and to rediscover and analyze their energies.
TAURUS, THE BULL Tropical Span: 40 degrees 20 Taurus - 0 Cancer
The sky-figure of Taurus, the Bull, is actually only the front half of the animal; where his back half would be is actually the hindquarters of the Ram, who usurped the bull's position as leader of the sky host about 2,000 BCE. The Bull's head is down (as if charging) and facing the observer, its horns to the East (in the zodiac, as in a horoscope, east is to the left), with its front legs pulled up in a charging position; this head forms a "V" shape tilted on its side, with the cluster called the Hyades (1° to 8° Gemini) forming the jaw and muzzle, the bright red star Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri) as its right, lower eye, and Ain (Epsilon Tauri) its upper, left eye. The famous nebulous cluster, the Pleiades, is in his shoulder. This is a very ancient constellation, which at first consisted of only the Bull's head (the V-shaped Hyades); the Pleiades may originally have been a separate, distinct cluster, not part of the Bull. Because the Vernal Equinox passed through these stars from about 4,500 to about 2,000 BCE, this was the Euphratean Te, (from Timmena), "foundation-stone," or Bull-of-the-Foundation" of the sky; the Sumero-Akkadian Gu.ud an.na, Babylonian-Assyrian Alap-same: "Bull-of-Heaven" aka "Strong Wild-Bull" and "Great-Horned Bull." Bulls, esp white bulls, were associated with the Moon, because of their color and the curved shape of their horns; thus the Moon's exaltation in Taurus.
The stars of the Bull's Head form one of the most powerful areas of the entire sky; here the themes are power, fertility, aggression, and storms. A bull's bellow was associated with thunder, and the earliest depictions of Taurus included lines of jagged lightning, symbols of storm god Adad: the cluster of stars in the muzzle of the bull, known as the Hyades ("Rainy Ones") and the famous Pleiades cluster in his shoulder, have been associated with torrential rains since the earliest times: a solar eclipse at the Pleiades in May 1993 (exactly square Saturn at 38 Aquarii - in the Water-Pourer!) brought record-breaking floods to the Mississippi basin; and a December 1993 lunar eclipse 6° further on, in the "Rainy Hyades" deluged Europe.
Above the Bull & the Ram's tail, with wings on his feet, flies Perseus, the Hero or Rescuer; he is not in the early Euphratean lists, except for that which he carries: a severed, demonic head with the baleful, variable star Algol, which in the oldest texts was Sibi ("Double-eye"). Along with Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, and Triangulum, Perseus is very probably Phoenician rather than Euphratean in origin; whatever his roots, he came early into Greek consciousness, for Homer (ca 800 BCE), called Perseus "most famous of all men" (Iliad, xiv 320). His name may derive from Bar-Sav "Son of Hair" i.e. "The Hairy", thus relat-ing him to Gilgamesh/Herakles (both clad in lion-skin), as a hero-king archetype. According to the Greeks, Perseus was the founder of Mykenai. Bar-Sav/Perseus is armed with a sickle-shaped (like a crescent Moon) scimitar, a potent weapon against the powers of darkness, and it is this weapon that the hero uses in his fight with the Sea-Monster Cetus, a representation of the Babylonian Tiamat, primal monster of chaos.
Raoul Wallenberg, the heroic Swedish diplomat who rescued thousands of Jews during the holocaust, had Saturn aligned with Nu Persei. The United States, which often casts itself (or is cast) in the role of rescuer, has Uranus at Perseus, and John F Kennedy, who rescued members of his PT boat crew during World War II, had Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Sun and Venus in the longitudes of the stars of Perseus..
Above the Bull's horns, sharing the horn-tip star Zeta Tauri with the Bull, is Auriga, the Charioteer. In the early Euphratean star-list this was Mar-urbi "The-Chariot-by-itself", the Semitic Narkabtu-istęnis, also called Gar "Chariot" and Sugi "Chariot-Yoke". Surviving fragments of very ancient cuneiform tablets hint that this figure was associated with fertility and abundant crops: "The constellation the Chariot, its stars, during whatever year they are conspicuous, the crops in that year (men) sell..." and "Cattle bring forth and flourish, fish..." It's lucida, Capella, alpha Aurigae, marked the Vernal Equinox about 3,853 BCE.
In the Greek myths, this figure was Athena's adopted son Erichthonius, half-human, half serpent, who invented the chariot because he could not walk. President Franklin Roosevelt, disabled by polio and confined to a wheel-chair, had Auriga culminating; Gov George Wallace of Alabama, paralyzed in an assassination attempt, has Pluto (rising) at Psi6 Aurigae, and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, crippled by a gunshot wound, has the Charioteer rising.
Below the horns of the Bull stands Orion, the great figure that competes with the Big Dipper asterism for the most readily-recognized set of stars in the entire sky. The derivation of his name is uncertain: it may derive from the Euphratean solar deity Uru-anna "Light of Heaven" representing the Akkadian god Duwu-zi (Tammuz), identical to the very ancient Sumerian deity Nin-girsu, "Lord of the Riverbank", the river being either the Milky Way or Eridanus, or both: Orion stands between the two. An ancient Babylonian cuneiform tablet calls Orion "The-Shepherd-Spirit-of-Heaven" (although this title is also conferred upon Bootes). In ancient China, Orion was "The Su-preme Commander." There are 3 or 4 myths relating to Orion, one of which states that his name derives from either ouros, mountain, or ourein, "to urinate", which would make him "he who makes water" connecting him to the tradition that both the rising & setting of the constellation bring rain.
President Franklin D Roosevelt had Mars in the 10th house at Betelgeuze, Orion's brightest star; as President, he was Commander-in-Chief of US forces during World War II, and had inherited his family's estate in Deer Park, NY, on the banks of the Hudson River, thus personifying two ancient titles of Orion: "Supreme Commander" and "Lord of the Riverbank".
The westernmost part of the Bull, (the 2 horn-tips), are in the Milky Way, which many cultures saw as a great celestial river; the next zodiacal constellation, Gemini, the Twins, starts at the river's opposite shore. The Twins are wading at the eastern edge of the sky river; closely entwined, they lie aslant the ecliptic. The 2 brightest stars, Castor & Pollux, (Alpha & Beta Geminorum), represent their heads. Ancient Babylonian monuments and kudurru, (carved boundary stones, which are the earliest records we have of con-stellation subjects) show a recurrent set of symbols, prominently placed: a crescent with 2 stars nearby. These are the twin stars, Castor & Pollux, that marked the Vernal Equinox approximately 6,000 BC; in the archaic lunar calendar, a new crescent Moon - "Neomenia" - marked the beginning of each month. Therefore the 2 stars together with a crescent Moon repeatedly carved on the boundary stones may have represented what the ancient astrologer/priests saw in the sky on the 1st of the month of Nissanu (Nisan), at every spring equinox, 8,000 years ago, at the beginning of the Age of Gemini. These great twins-in-the-sky were the Sumero-Akkadian Mastabba-gal-gal or Masu, Babylonian-Assyrian Tuame-rabuti. By 2,000 BC precession would have moved the twin stars to the 3rd month, Sivanu (May-June): in Akkad this month was called Mun-ga, "The Making-of-Bricks" and Kas, "the Twins". Traces of an archaic Euphratean cosmogonic myth told of two Hostile Brethren and the Building of the First City; it is possible that these stars, which marked the Vernal Equinox around the time of the earliest city-states, presided over the gradual transition from tribal, nomadic hunter-gathering to the establishment of permanent, walled cities and city-states, at the dawn of the Age of Gemini. (Another famous twin-myth, that of Romulus & Remus, is associated with the building of Rome).
The Twins continue to oversee the founding of cities. The traditional date for the founding of Rome, 4 21 753 BCE, has the Moon’s NNode at Mekbuda, Zeta Gemi-norum. St Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the US, was officially founded 9 19 1565; at the celebratory 7 AM mass that morning, the Twins culminated. When Brigham Young, leading the Mormons through western wilder-ness seeking a vision he had seen in a dream, arrived at Great Salt Lake on 7 22 1847, he announced "this is the place!" Two days later, with Jupiter at Alhena, Gamma Geminorum, the cornerstone for the Mormon Temple was laid.
Beneath the Twins are the Sumero-Akkadian Lik, Pallika, Babylonian-Assyrian Kalbu, Kallab-mę, Phoenician Keleb, Keleb-maîm, The Dogs (Canis Major & Canis Minor). There is a difference of opinion among Assyriologists concern-ing the Euphratean name of the brightest star, Sirius, in the mouth, or jaw, of the greater Dog. Some epithets were Ban "Star of the Bow" (there is a similarity in the syllables for "bow" and "dog" in Assyrian, so this name is not absolutely certain), "Star of Stars," and "The Propitious Star of Heaven." As the "Bow Star" it has a remarka-ble connection with the Chinese version of the figure: just SE of Sirius was the Chinese Hou-Chi, the Bow & Arrow, aimed at Sirius, the "Celestial Jackal." Some of the words for Sirius were "Scorcher", "Glittering" "The Burning One" and "Lamp."
In the terrible winter of 1925, Nome, Alaska, hit by a diphtheria epidemic, sent out a desperate radio plea for serum. No ship could break through the ice, no plane could land, and helicopters did not yet exist. The only possible way to get through was by a relay of dog-sled teams; on February 2, after a dangerous trek through blizzard conditions, the final relay team reached Nome with the frozen serum; The Moon was at Perseus, the Hero/Rescuer, and Pluto aligned with Sirius, Alpha Canis Majoris, the brightest star in the Greater Dog.
Between the bright stars Castor & Pollux and the head of the Lion is an area so dim that Cancer the Crab was called "the dark constellation." Without keen eyesight and a very clear starry night, nothing can be seen here at all! Nonetheless, this is a vital and powerful area. On ancient Euphratean lunar tablets this was the constellation Nagar-asurra, Babylonian-Assyrian Nangaru "The Workman-of-the-River-Bed" and was Sumerian Allab or Allul, Akkadian Allutu, "Voice-of-the-Sun-Place" (ecliptic) because in the 3rd millenium BCE our Crab was at the highest gate of the ecliptic, the Summer Solstice. The boundary-stones of the Euphratean area showed no figure of a crab, but in its place is a tortoise - both creatures are carapaced amphibians. In the center of the Crab is a famous nebulous cluster called "The Beehive."
When Utah applied for statehood, Mormons asked that the state be called "Deseret" their word for "honeybee." Congress chose rather to honor the Ute Indians, but in response to the Mormons' wishes, it was called "The Beehive State." On the day Utah entered the Union, January 4, 1896, Jupiter, trans-iting the Crab, was exactly at nebulous Praesaepe, Epsilon Cancri: "The Beehive"!
Its head starting beneath Crab and its body stretching all the way under the Lion, the Virgin and most of the Scales, lies the great Water-Snake Hydra: this was Sumero-Akkadian Tsir-gal, Babylonian-Assyrian Tsiru-gallu, Phoeni-cian Nakhasch-maim, the Snake or Great Snake. An archaic Akkadian hymn speaks of "the monstrous snake" that "bears the yoke on its seven heads...the strong serpent of the sea," one of the sinister brood of the primordial monster Tiamat.
Regulus was the royal star of ancient Persia, now Iran; a Solar Ecl at Regulus 8 20 1952 underscored a power struggle between Premier Mossadegh and the Shah of Iran; 1 year later the Shah drove Mossadegh out, enraging the populace. Twenty-seven years later another Solar Ecl at Regulus, on 8 22 1979 (semi-square the US Saturn) occurred on the very day that the just-deposed, dying Shah was permitted to enter New York Hospital, precipitating the US/Iran hostage crisis. Ancient Persia's royal star continues to mark Iran's history!
Far to the south of the Lion (and Twins, Dogs, Crab, and Virgin) lies Argo Navis, the Great Ship. An 18th-century astronomer decided Argo was "too big" and divvied it up into "Carina" (the Keel), "Puppis" (the Stern), "Vela" (the Sail), and then, to be completely weird, took the stars that had been Malus, the mast and turned them into Pyxis, the Compass! Very ancient Euphratean star lists include a Sumero-Akkadian Ma-Ganda-Anna, Babylonian-Assyrian Elipp-nakbi-same, Phoenician Sephenah: "Ship-of-the-Canal-of-Heaven." This "Canal-of-Heaven" was the Milky Way; since part of Argo's keel lies in the galactic arm, this Great Ship almost certainly originated in the ancient near eastern skies.
On November 28, 1775, the day the US Navy was founded, the NNode, Venus, Saturn and Neptune aligned with Argo stars; Neptune was lined up with V Carinae in the great ship's keel. In September 1941 when Neptune returned to the longitude of this star, a Solar Eclipse (cnj Neptune) aligned with V Carinae and the US Navy’s Neptune; 2˝ months later Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, devastating America's Pacific fleet.
Far above the Lion lie the two Bears. The seven brightest stars of Ursa Major were the Sumero-Akkadian Mar-gidda, "The-Long-Chariot" and "Lord-of-the-Ghost-World," connected with Mul-lil, Lord of the Underworld and the Night-world, and in this aspect was called Wul-mo-sarra "The-Lord-the-Voice-of-the-Firmament." According to Brown "High enthroned in the north, by its splendor it awed & ruled the wandering phantoms and powers of darkness."
In ancient China, Benetnash, Eta Ursae Majoris (26Vir39 - the end of the Bear's tail) was Kuan-Ti, God of War & of Averting War. When Germany savage-ly and suddenly broke a peace treaty and invaded Russia in June 1941, the NNode & Neptune aligned with Benetnash.
Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, is not mentioned in Euphratean tablets, nor by Homer or Hesiod (800 BCE); there is evidence that it was originally a Phoeni-cian figure later adopted by the Greeks. According to Strabo, the Greeks adopted the little bear about 600 BCE when Thales, who knew of its use by the Phoenicians, suggested it to the Greek mariners in place of Ursa Major, because Polaris, the star at the tip of his tail, was by then a better indicator of true North.
From ancient times there are references to a maiden/goddess figure in this area of the sky, but her size and specific identity vary. She is a stand-ing figure, (in later times with wings), bearing a sheaf or stalk of wheat (Spica, Alpha Virginis, 24 Libra) in her hand, lying full length along the ecliptic rather than perpendicular to it. In Sumer and Akkad, our deepest sources of the great Babylonian celestial traditions, this was the Great Goddess of West Asia, the Lady of Heaven, both Virgin and Mother, originally lunar but later associated with Ishtar (Venus). The extremely ancient Mesopotamian lunar mansions list only Se-makh ("Seed-great") which probably refers only to the bright star Spica, placed as it is right at the ecliptic (pidnu sa samę, Ab-sin, Absinnu) "furrow-of-heaven." This seed, in the furrow, represented growth, fertility, productivity and dependence upon divine beneficence - long before any larger figure grew up around this splendid 1st magnitude star.
Spica's confers her bountiful gifts in a number of fields, but music is perhaps one of her most blessed: within two degrees of the star is Jupiter in the charts of Mozart, Bach and Handel; it is Mars in the charts of Mendelssohn and de Falla, Mercury in Verdi's horoscope, St Saen's Saturn, Borodin's Venus and Haydn's Pluto; Puccini and Sir Arthur Sullivan both had Spica rising, and it culminated at the birth of violinist Yehudi Menuhin.
Beneath the Virgin, on the back of rippling water-snake Hydra, perch Crater, the Cup, and Corvus, the Crow. To the Akkadians Crater was simply Lut-Tsirna, "The Bowl of the Snake" which the early Greeks transformed into the Kantha-ros, or Goblet, of Apollo.
Corvus, the Crow formed an archaic lunar mansion whose patron god was Im-dugud-khu "The Great Storm-Bird", associated with mist and tempest, closely connected to Hydra, the Storm-and-Darkness Serpent. Jupiter was at Alchiba (Alpha Corvi) at the harsh Nor'easter "Storm of the Century" December 11, 1992, and at the Aries ingress of 1993, presaging the great Mississippi flood as well as storms & floods in China, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. Uranus was at Alchiba November 12 1970 when a huge cyclone hit the Ganges Delta, killing about 500,000; thousands died later of cholera (this has been called "the worst disaster of the century").
Above the Virgin's lower half, calling to his dogs, strides Bootes, the Herdsman, who was the Euphratean Sibzianna Shepherd-Spirit-of-Heaven; be-sides Herdsman, he has been called Shepherd, Ploughman, Pastor, Bearward (guardian of Ursa Major), Wagoner (hauling the Dipper, in the form of a wagon, behind him), Lance-holder, Shouter. An ancient Semitic name for the Herdsman was Sa ina kakki makhtsu "he who fights with weapons". Khubilai Khan, Emperor of China's Yuan Dynasty from 1260-1294, had the Sun at Seginus, Gamma Bootis; the Yuans were Mongols, Herdsmen!
At the feet of the great virgin goddess lie the scales that were once also the claws ("chelae") of the huge, powerful Scorpion lurking immediately to her east, which lay in wait for the Sun at the autumn equinox, from about 3,000 to 1,000 BCE (the entire Scorpion was the autumn equinox sign from about 4,000-1,000 BCE). Very ancient Mesopotamian boundary-stones carved with constella-tion figures show a scorpion holding a circular figure (the Sun? a lamp? an altar?) in his claws. In Akkad, the seventh month was called Tul-ku, "The Holy Mound" or "The Holy Altar". Tasritu (Tishri), the 7th lunar month of the Autumn equinox (a month of ceremonies of death in almost every part of the world north of the equator) was associated with the building of the Tower of Babel (a ziggurat surmounted by an altar). Though most sources state that this figure was formed from the scorpion's claws in the first century BCE, it may be that Sumerians knew this area as Zib-ba an-na, "Balance of Heaven" or "Heavenly Weighing Scales" (Akkadian Zibanitu) about 2,000 BCE. According to Allen's Star Names, Eratosthenes (born 276 BCE) and Hipparchus (ca 160-120 BCE) included these relatively dim claw stars with those of the rest of the Scorpion, but alluded to the "Chelae" ("Claws") as if it were already known as a separate asterism. Hipparchus also called them Zugon or Zugos (Latin Jugum, Yoke, or Beam, of the Scale). Allen states that the figure first appeared as Libra in classical times in the newly-devised Julian Calendar of 46 BCE, in which Caesar himself was pictured holding a set of scales. Ptolemy's Almagest (ca 150 CE) based on Hipparchus, treated it as a separate constellation called "Chelae," but he, too, used "Zugos" as well; Latin poets used all three (Chelae, Jugum, Libra), but the scholars of the time called it Libra, and so it has been ever since, giving us the only zodiacal constellation that is an inanimate figure.
A Solar Eclipse in the
Scales of Justice in November 1993 was followed by two vacancies on the
US Supreme Court. Chief Justice Rehnquist and Ruth Bader Ginsberg both
have the Moon here; it is Stephen Breyer's NNode and Clarence Thomas'
MC. Jury selection for the trial of O J Simpson began with Venus,
Jupiter, NNode and Pluto transiting the Scorpion's Claws/Scales of
Justice; Simpson’s Jupiter is here. The Chinese called this figure
"The Foundation of Nature": it is often represented in great
earthquakes. A Solar Eclipse here on November 3, 1994, threatens a major
Centaurus, the Centaur, with Lupus, the Wolf, lie beneath the Scales/Claws. Facing east, the Centaur grasps a lance, from which speared Lupus hangs before him, a sacrifice to be placed on Ara, the Altar. He was origi-nally a combination of man-bull-horse, called in Akkadian Gud-elim "The Horned Bull" and in Semitic Kusarikku "Strong-Horned-One"; he clutches an indeterminate animal, now called Lupus, but archaically a boar or lion; to the Greeks it was Therion, the Wild Animal, or Beast; to Romans it was Bestia, Hostia, Victima. There may be a connection between the ancient form of this figure and the archaic Epic of Gilgamesh dating from the 3rd mille-nium BCE, which told of Enkidu, a man-beast who became the hero's inseparable friend; he was depicted on Akkadian cylinder seals as a man with the head of a bull. Another name for Enkidu was Ea-bani, which means "Ea-made-me." Ea was Neptune/Poseidon, and Enkidu was believed to have originally come out of the abysses of the sea, so this is another connection to the centaur Cheiron, who was a grandson of Okeanos (Ocean). This man-bull combination has led some to associate the figure with the later myth of the Minotaur.
A Greek myth told of Hercules accidentally wounding centaur Cheiron in the foot. The 14th-century oriental conqueror Tamerlane (Timor-i-lenk, "Timur the Limper") was crippled in the foot by an arrow; his MC was Nu Centauri, in the hind foot of the Centaur! Nazi Minister of Propaganda Josef Goebbels, who was born with a crippled left foot, had Uranus at Bungula, Alpha Cen-tauri, called in the ancient tablets Nergub-Gudelim, "The Left Foot of the Centaur."
SERPENS, THE SERPENT Tropical Span: 62 degrees 14 Scorpio - 16 Capricorn
Above the Scales and the Scorpion, its head nearly reaching the Crown, slithers Serpens: in ancient times, not a separate figure but part of Ophiuchus, coiled about his body, its upper part and tail grasped in his hands. In the 5,000-yr-old Tablet of the 30 Stars (lunar mansions), Asterism XXVI is Kakkab Tsir//Ilu Nin-ki-gal: "The Asterism of the Snake || The Goddess Queen-of-the-Great-Region" made up of eta (Sabik), xi (Wajrik) & theta (Kashud) Ophiuchi; Ninkigal (Nin-lil, Nin-ge, Ereshki-gal, or Persephone), its regent-divinity, is "Queen-of-the-Ghost-World" & Queen-of-the-Underworld" (Scheol-Hades).
Mars and Neptune were at Nu Serpentis//Xi Ophiuchi 11 9 1980, when a pet python killed an infant in his crib, and Neptune was at Theta Serpentis on 6 22 1991, when a 12-ft pet python tried to swallow a 9-year old boy. Pliny associated Ophiuchus & his Serpent with poisoning: at the end of World War II several high-ranking Nazis took poison: Serpens was Rommel's MC, Sun, & SNode, Goering's Moon & Asc, and Himmler's NNode. Magda Goebbels was born on a solar eclipse at Chow, Beta Serpentis: she and her husband, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda (natal Mars at tau2 Serpentis), poisoned their 6 young children, then killed themselves in Hitler's bunker. At the November 1978 Guyana Massacre, when 909 members of the People's Temple were forced to drink poison, Uranus was at Delta Serpentis, the Sun at Mu Ser-pentis.
Above the Scorpion, his left foot upon it, is Ophiuchus, (grasping Ser-pens, coiled about his body); known to the Greeks as Aesculapius, God of Medicine. An ancient Babylonian tablet lists a constellation Nutsirda (Prince-of-the-Serpent), called in Semitic Namassu, "The Reptile". Nutsir-da, also called An-u-gie, "Lord-of-the-Underworld", was connected to the god Sagimu: the ideographs of his name express "mouth" and "invoke" which indicates he may have been "Lord of Invocation", presiding over dead bodies and disease. The archaic lunar zodiac of "The Tablet of the 30 Stars" from Birs-Nimroud, which goes back at least 5,000 years, lists as Asterism XXV Kakkab Mulu-Bat // Pa-gar, a-sig: "The Asterism Man-of-Death || The Corpse, the Fever" made up of Epsilon (Yed Posterior) & Delta (Yed Prior) Ophiuchi, the stars in the left hand of the figure, grasping the Serpent.
On 11 8 1333 a solar
eclipse occurred at the "Man-of-Death" asterism, at
Ophiuchus' left hand; from 1333 to 1337 a terrible famine killed 6
million Chinese, but the aftermath was even worse: Bubonic Plague!
Moving gradual-ly westward, the terrible pestilence reached Europe 14
years later. This was the infamous Black Death, a world-wide pandemic
that killed an esti-mated 1/3 of Europe's population. In 1495 Mars, at
the Aries Ingress, was at the-hand-holding-the-Serpent: a European
strain of Smallpox was carried to the newly-discovered New World, where
it wiped out entire tribes of native Caribbeans. Nostradamus, born in
1503, was a physician who spe-cialized in dealing with epidemics;
tragically, while he was away, his own wife and two children perished in
one. He was born with Ophiuchus culmi-nating, & Sun, Mercury and
Pluto in its longitudes (because of the trance techniques he used to
summon visions of the future, he also fits the ancient title "Lord
of Invocation"). In 1878 the path of totality of a solar eclipse
ran directly through Memphis, TN: 2 weeks later a devastating epidemic
of Yellow Fever ravaged the city; the chart for the eclipse at Memphis
had Ophiuchus rising. On 5 24 1910 a lunar eclipse occurred at the
"Man-of-Death" asterism: from 1910-1913 Bubonic Plague ravaged
China and India; millions died. By mid-November, 1914 when Mars
conjoined and the Moon’s Nodes squared the eclipse, a terrible
world-wide influenza pandemic was decimat-ing the world's population; it
killed an estimated 30 million people. When the South Lunar Node reached
this degree in mid-1919, typhus in Russia joined the still-raging flu
epidemic to cause even more suffering. The 11 22 1984 solar eclipse at
this ancient "Man-of-Death" mansion brought the AIDS epidemic
to full public awareness. The 5 25 94 lunar eclipse again
occurred at Ophiuchus' left hand: Cholera raged through the Ruanda
refugee camps, new outbreaks of Legionnaires' Disease drove cruise ships
back to port, and a serious outbreak of Pneumon-ic Plague is reported in
India! In 1996-7, with Pluto at this ancient, ominous Lunar
Mansion, new strains of bacteria are proving resistant to antibiotics,
causing world-wide concern.
HERCULES, THE STRONG MAN Tropical Span: 70 degrees 8 Scorpio - 18 Capricorn
Farther above the Scorpion, upside-down & head-to-head with Ophiuchus, is Hercules, (Archaically Lugal ("King"). As a kneeling Euphratean king, (possibly Gilgamesh), he was adopted by the Phoenicians who turned him into a sea-god they called Melquarth ("King-of-the-City"); the Greeks associated Mekquarth with Herakles (whose name may have derived from Phoenician Harekhal, "The Traveler"). An Assyrian creation-legend tablet compiled ca 650 BCE from far older sources gives: Akkadian: Mul-Lugal, Babylonian-Assyrian: Kakkab Sarru - "The Constellation of the King" asso-ciated with Gilgames sarru gitmalu dainu Annunaki "Gilgamesh, giant king, Judge of the Masters-of-the-Underworld." To early Greek astronomers he was Engonasi (or Engonasin), The Kneeler, or Eidolon, Phantom. Even though Aratus (315-245 BC) calls him "The Kneeler;" the poet Avienus recorded that Panyasis of Halicarnassos (5th century BCE) called the Kneeler "Hera-kles", so the association with Hercules goes back at least that far. Both Herakles & Gilgamesh were often depicted kneeling on one knee, and both were famous for their travels and adventures; Herakles was always shown with his club and lion-skin, Gilgamesh holding a lion. While the two heroes are distinctly different, their roots may go back to a common source, or tales of popular local heroes may have commingled over the centuries.
Strong men (and women) usually have Hercules represented on their charts: Charles Atlas had Mercury here, Schwarzenegger the SNode, Jane Fonda NNode, Evel Knievel MC, and Johnny Weismuller, who played Tarzan, had Hercules rising, as did Bruce Lee, whose Sun was there as well. But Her-cules was originally Lugal "King" - Elvis Presley, aka "The King" had variable star U Herculis rising, in Hercules' right hip!
ARA, THE ALTAR Tropical Span: 13 degrees 18 Sagittarius - 1 Capricorn
Below the Scorpion's tail lies Ara, the Altar: this was Sumero-Akkadian Kisal-Bat-Ala, Babylonian-Assyrian Kisallu-Iabiru, The-Ancient-Altar-Below"; the Phoenicians had it as Mizbaiach. This altar is an ancient, pedestal type, topped with a flame for burning sacrifices, to send the smoke rising to the gods.
Above the Altar, at the feet of the Virgin, the mighty Scorpion of Heaven stretches its powerful claws, at once embracing-and-becoming the Scales of Justice. In the ancient Sumerian scheme of the heavens, this figure was Gir-tab or Gir-u-tab, Akkadian Agrabu, "seizer-and-stinger" (the ideograph "gir" was pictorially a blade, sting, or pointed tail, which meant "to strike", "scorpion", "plow" (as a blade striking through the earth), and "lightning". This 27th mansion of the archaic lunar zodiac was also called Gir-tab-Bat, Scorpion-of-death, and Gir-Anna, Scorpion-of-Heaven. The Tablet of the 30 Stars, discovered at Birs-Nimroud (Borsippa), which goes back to at least 3,000 BCE, lists as Asterism XXVII: The Scorpion's Tail (theta, iota, kappa, lambda, upsilon) - "The God/Goddess-Ishkara-of-the-Sea", "The God Director-of-Fire and "The God Director-of-Sacrifice (Smiting?)". (Antares, the Alpha star of the Scorpion at 9Sag29, was not included in this group). This figure may relate to the "Scorpion-men" who guarded the rising and setting of the Sun in the epic of Gilgamesh: [Gilgamesh] came to the mountain whose name is Mashu; approached the twin peaks which guard each day the coming and going of Shamash (Sun) their tops reach the vault of heaven; below, their feet touch the underworld. Scorpion-people guard the gate, whose terror is awesome and whose glance is death... -Gilgamesh, Tablet IX, column ii, trans John Gardner
This powerful Scorpion, which is in natural opposition in the sky to the vigorous and fertile Bull, has from the earliest times stood for the gloom of approaching winter, darkness and death; in Mithraic carvings a scorpion figure seizes the genitalia of the dying Bull, adding castration to the fate of the ritually-slain bull-of-life. Some say that the Patriarch Abraham, who came out of Ur of the Chaldees (the Chaldeans-natives of the area at the head of the Persian Gulf near present-day Kuwait and Basra, Iraq, were the most reknowned astrologers of ancient times) knew the Scorpion as an Eagle, thus completing the set of Cherubim to conform to the four "foundation" constellations: Lion, Calf (Taurus), Man (Aquarius), and Flying Eagle (Scorpius?). However, so far I have seen no evidence to corroborate this scheme, although it is apparent that among the zodiacal figures, the Bull, Lion and Scorpion are the clearest in outline.
When Sarur and Sargaz of
the sting of Scorpio are bright, the weapons of Akkad will come...when
Nergal (Mars) stands in Pabilsag (Scorpio's sting), a strong enemy will
raise [his weapons] in the land...the wide forces of the enemy will slay
troops...Mars has gone forward into Scorpio. It is evil. R Campbell Thompson, Reports of the Magicians and
In the Fall of 1980, the very ancient, bitter enmity between Babylon and Elam (modern Iraq & Iran) flared anew, starting the Iraq-Iran conflict; in November, as Mars entered the Scorpion's sting, it became a major war.
East of the Scorpion, his arrow aimed toward the stinger of its tail, stands the Archer-centaur, eternal guardian of fire. In Sumer he was Us, and in Akkad Nedu, "Soldier" or "Archer". A surviving fragment of an Eu-phratean planisphere (scholars must work with bits and pieces of crumbling clay that are about 3,000 years old!) has an Akkadian name for this figure, Utacagaba, translated by Sayce as "Light-of-the-White-Face" but which Brown thought might be Udguda, "Smiting-Sun-Face" (rendered in Assyrian Yumu nahri "Day-of-Dawn" or "Dawn of Day"), but these may have referred only to the stars Epsilon & Sigma (5 & 12 Cap), the brightest stars in the forefront of the figure, one at the bottom of the bow and the other in the right hand pulling back the bowstring. These epithets evoked the idea of a rising Sun shooting rays like arrows across the sky. Udguda was subdivided into three parts: 1) "The Dusky Part" and 2) The bright upper part of the figure: Akkadian Ega, Assyrian Agu "Crown", Uzzu "Glory" - probably the stars Lambda & Mu (6 & 3 Cap), at the upper part of the bow; and 3) Sugab, "The Left Hand" (the hand that holds the bow - Brown says the stars Gamma & Delta (1 & 4 Cap), but I think Delta alone is more likely, as Gamma is obviously part of the arrow. Another Sumerian name for the Archer was Papilsak "Winged Fire-Head". Ac-cording to Allen, cuneiform inscriptions call Sagittarius "Strong One", "Giant King of War" and "Illuminator of the Great City" - (the theme of light again!) He personified Nergal, the Assyro-Babylonian Mars. An incom-plete Babylonian fragment is thought to read Kakkab Kastu (Akkadian Ban), "The Constellation of the Bow". In Assyria the figure was associated with the 9th lunar month Kislivu (Kislev). Brown comments "There are few con-stellations in which the figures of the monuments and the descriptions in the Tablets show a closer connection between Euphratean and classical forms than in the case of Sagittarius." Nevertheless there have been sever-al modifications over the centuries: ancient boundary stones show only a (human) archer with a scorpion's tail; later he became the Centaur/Archer with a horse's body, salient, (ie weight-bearing) hind legs, forelegs raised off the ground, with a prominent phallus, a raised, scorpion-like tail, and a separate small scorpion-figure beneath about to pinch the phallus in its claws. Instead of Ptolemy's "martial cloak" flowing from the shoulders, there are wings. Other boundary stones show bearded archers with what appear to be a bird-like body and clawed bird-feet braced apart, with a scorpion's upraised tail: these may represent the guardian "Scorpi-on-People" of the Gilgamesh legend. It is unclear whether these "Scorpion-People (which in the epic are both male and female) are related to the figure of Sagittarius, or Scorpius, or neither
One of Sagittarius' ancient titles was "The Giant King of War"; throughout history, the Archer has been prominent on the charts of military and political war leaders; it was Eisenhower's Mars, Napoleon & Wellington's Pluto, MacArthur's Mercury & NNode, Tamerlane, Wellington & Rommel's Asc, Cornwallis' Sun & Uranus, Joan of Arc's Sun, Mercury & Venus; pioneering war nurses Nightingale (Neptune) and Barton (Sun) are represented here, as well as wartime political leaders: Kaiser Wilhelm II, W Wilson (Mercury), & Lincoln (Moon). The association of Sagittarius with light, fire and archery was affirmed at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. At the opening cere-mony, when an archer shot a fiery arrow to ignite the Olympic flame, the NNode was at Al Nasl, gamma Sagittarii, the tip of the Archer's arrow! The arrow's tip and the Scorpion's sting are only 5° apart; between them is the Galactic Center (27Sag), an X-ray & IFR source, and probable Black Hole. The Center of our Galaxy went from 29Sco59 to 0Sag00 in 66 CE, the year the Jews rebelled against Rome, and Christianity's growing popularity brought the first persecutions against the new religion. As Rome marched to put down the Jewish revolution, Halley's Comet (according to Josephus) "hung like a sword over Jerusalem". A chart run for the perihelion of the comet at Jerusalem had Sagittarius X-4 (a black hole) rising, with Mars conjunct the SNode in the 1st house, at Terebellum, Omega Sagittarii.
Above the Archer is Lyra, the Lyre, anciently sourced in both the Euphra-tean and Phoenician civilizations. In ancient Sumer/Akkad, these stars were Raditartakhu, a Lammergeier (bearded vulture), a large bird of prey that is both hunter & scavenger, inhabiting high mountains in both Europe and Asia. This was one of three demon birds opposed to Herakles (the others were a kite, now Cygnus, the Swan, and an Eagle, now Aquila). It was the Phoenicians who saw these stars as a musical instrument made from the shell of a tortoise, and Aratus called the figure Xelus, "Tortoise".
Some poets and musicians born under the Lyre, but the energies here are rather more like the ancient raptor than a musical instrument. The US has Pluto at Theta Lyrae/Gamma Aquilae; this was Mercury at the Wright Broth-ers' 1st flight at Kitty Hawk, and Mars at the frightful fire-bombing of Dresden in February, 1945.
High above Capricornus and Aquarius flies Cygnus, the Swan. Cuneiform inscriptions from Western Asia list three constellations which represented demon birds, (all raptors), opponents of Marduk/Herakles: Id-khu, the Eagle (Aquila), Raditarta-khu, the Lammergeier (eagle/vulture), now the Lyre, and the third, Khu-zaba (Babylonian/Assyrian Itstsur-qîsti), Bird-of-the-Forest, now Cygnus. Euktemon, an Athenian astronomer, in 432 BCE, called this figure Iktînos-"The Kite" (a kite is a fierce hunter-scavenger bird of the hawk family that nests in forest trees and is known for its graceful, sustained flight). By the 3rd century BC the Greeks were calling it simply Ornis "Bird".
The ancient Greeks
believed that the swan possessed the ability to prophesy and announce
death. A symbol of retreat and solitude, its legendary dying song was
the song of the poet. There seems to a longing to "fly away",
to migrate, as it were, to a happier place. The brilliantly talent-ed
18th-century English poet Thomas Chatterton, who committed suicide at
17, had Uranus at Zeta Cygni; singer Kurt Cobain, recently found dead by
his own hand, was born with the Sun at Zeta, and Saturn and Venus at Pi1
& Pi2 Cygni. The suicides of 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate
cult in March, 1997 occurred with
Immediately east of the Archer/Centaur is the small, boomerang-shaped sky figure Capricornus. Muna-kha the Goat-Fish (Suhur-mas, Suhu-massa, Fish-Goat), formed the last of the archaic lunar mansions. In ancient Akkad, the 10th month was called "The Cave of the Rising" (of the Sun); the Sea-Goat, Capricornus, probably represented the Sun rising from the great deep of the underworld, the "blind cave of eternal night", and is thus half mountain-climbing goat, half swimming fish. According to Brown, the Akka-dian goat-god Uz presided over the revolution of the Sun (goats were sacred animals in the valleys of both the Euphrates and the Nile, and were connected with the Vedic Pushan, Semitic Dionysos, and Norse Thor). This star-pattern was sometimes popularly called "The Yoke".
The Oneirocritica of Artemidoros, a book of dream-interpretation written in the 2nd century AD, warned that dreams of capering goats were inauspicious for people at sea, for in colloquial speech, large storm waves were called "goats," and the most fearful sea of all was the Aegean (from Gr. Aigaz-"goat"). Research has confirmed that this area of the sky is often represented in severe storms, and it is probable that the figure chosen for these stars comes from the ancient association of goats and tempests: the Moon at the Galveston hurricane of 1900 (6,000 dead), Jupiter at the great New England hurricane of 1938, the NNode at hurricane Hugo, and Saturn at hurricane Andrew were transiting the Sea-Goat. According to Manilius, people born under "shivering" Capricornus seek professions where they can keep warm: bakers, for instance, and weavers of warm clothing, blacksmiths, and armourers. Metal artisan Harry Bertoia, who constructs art with a blow-torch, has Mercury, Venus, Uranus, NNode and Fortuna all in the shivering, heat-seeking, sea-goat!
South of Cygnus, above the Sea-Goat, on the eastern bank of the Milky Way, lie the stars of Aquila, the Eagle, a figure that can be traced back as far as any in the sky. This was the Sumero-Akkadian Alula ("The-Great-Spirit") figured on uranographic stones, known on the tablets as Idkhu Zamama the Eagle, The-Living-Eye, and/or Erigu "The-Powerful-Bird." The Arabs called it Al Tair, the Great Bird, a name inherited by its alpha star.
In Greek mythology, Aquila was Zeus, who turned himself into an eagle to carry off Ganymede, a shepherd boy he had become enamored of; this myth offers a clue to one type of event tied to Aquila: kidnappings! Two men who were kidnapped & murdered were represented at Sigma Aquilae (27Cap45): Aldo Moro (NNode) & James Hoffa (Mars). Venus was at Sigma when Patty Hearst was abducted, and when the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped & murdered, Saturn was at Altair, Alpha Aquilae (Charles Lindbergh’s natal Saturn).
Sagitta, the Arrow, a very small figure, consists of a dim line of stars directly above Aquila. Although I find no reference to it in the early Euphratean records, it is quite early and was familiar to the Greeks. As might be expected, this is an area of weapons & aggression.
Above the Sea-Goat, just east of Aquila & south of Sagitta, swims Delphi-nus, also an ancient figure, although no archaic Euphratean representation of the Dolphin has turned up. This may have been the Assyrian Nakhiru (Syrian Nakhira) "nostril animal" that Tiglath-Pileser claimed (on a tablet ca. 1120 BC) to have killed in the Great Sea (Mediterranean).
In August 1987, dead & dying Dolphins, suffering from pulmonary disease, washed up on beaches from Cape Hatteras to New Jersey; the previous full moon was at 16Aqr19: Rotanev, Beta Delphinus, was 16Aqr10 at that time.
The 11th tablet of the
Gilgamesh epic is the predecessor and source of Genesis 7: the legend of
the Great Deluge. The part of the sky occupied by the Goat-Fish, the
Water-Pourer, the two zodiacal Fish, along with the Dolphin (Delphinus),
the Southern Fish (Piscis Austrinus), and the Sea-Monster (Cetus)
formed, in the ancient Euphratean scheme, the Region of Ea, "Lord
of the Deep", analogous to our Neptune/Poseidon. The figure we know
as Noah was Utu-Napishtim/Xisouthros, in the ancient mythic chronolo-gy
of Mesopotamia the last of the 10 legendary antediluvian kings.
Xisou-thros was the Akkadian Zi-susru, "Spirit of Heaven",
and/or Xasisadra, "The Reverential" (this name is also given
as Sisithros or Sisythęs); he was equated with the star Skat, Delta
Aquarii (8Psc49) aka Sakib, "The Pourer". In Akkad, this was
Ku-ur-ku, "Seat of the Flowing Waters", and Rammanu, "The
God of the Storm", connected to the Vedic Indra, Akkadian Mermer
("The-Very-Glorious"), Uras ("The Veiled"), Semitic
Ramânu ("The Exalted"), and Hebrew Rimmon. In Egypt this was
Hapi, the god of the source of the Nile. According to Olcott, Egyptian
legend said that the Nile floods were caused by the Water-Pourer sinking
his great urn into the river to refill it.
East of, as well as overlapping, the Sea-Goat is great Aquarius, the Pourer-out-of-Water. His right hand supports a great urn from which water flows in a stream filled with fishes; the stream empties into the mouth of the Southern Fish, at the royal star Fomalhaut, alpha Piscis Austrinus. One of three surviving fragments of the Euphratean planisphere calls the 11th (equinoctial) month (Shabatu/Shevat: January-February) Idu As-a-an, "The-Month-of-the-Curse-of-Rain". The Tablet of the 30 Stars from Birs-Nimroud "at least as old as 3,000 BC" written in Babylonian cuneiform and copied from an even older tablet, starts with the Urn of Aquarius and ends with the Sea-Goat, an order that dates it to the time when the winter solstice, then the start of the calendrical year, occurred in the stars of the Water-Pourer. Gamma, Zeta, Eta & Pi Aquarii (6-10 Pisces), the stars of the Urn, marked the winter solstice starting about 3,100 BC, the period when writing first developed in Sumer. There is speculation that at first this figure may have been a vessel only: Gu, "Urn", the Akkadian Qu-hasbu ("Streams"). However on very ancient kudurru, boundary stones carved with constellation figures, the area that might be expected to denote Aquarius shows instead a seated goddess with a dog: this was Earth-goddess Gula, "The Great Doctoress", daughter of Anu, God of Heaven. Invoked in incantations as the healer of disease, she could at will inflict illness or restore health; she was "life-giver" and "great physician" who could preserve the health of the body and remove sickness and disease "by the touch of her hand". (Her power could be used for evil as well as good - she could be appealed to to bring on the very diseases she was able to heal, or to strike an enemy with blindness). While sometimes referred to as "the lady of the netherword" who restored the dead to life, Gula actually occupied a rather unique intermediate position between the gods of the living & the gods of the dead.
St Bernadette, who as a
young peasant girl saw a vision of a "beautiful lady" in a
grotto in Lourdes, had Venus, MC, Neptune, Jupiter and Mars in this
figure; only she could see or hear her Lady (later identified as the
Virgin Mary). The Lady of the Vision told Bernardette to dig in the
ground at her feet; the water that came forth proved to have curative
powers (Gula!) and became the famous healing spring of Lourdes. Nu
Aquarii, the star at Bernardette's MC, was, in ancient China, a star of
Niu, The Virgin!
Above Aquarius and the west fish of Pisces soars Pegasus, the Winged Horse. This very ancient figure was listed in the Tablet of the 30 Stars (ca. 3,000 BCE) as the lunar asterism Kakkab Ansu-kurra "The-Animal-from-the-East" (Babylonian-Assyrian Si-su, Phoenician Pegah-sus). This was originally simply a horse, which somewhere in the distant past acquired wings; a Hittite seal of the 2nd millenium BCE shows a winged horse, galloping, and in later west Asian art Pegasus appears exactly as in the constellation, a winged demi-horse. In Greek mythology, Pegasus sprang from the blood of Medusa's severed head.
St Bernadette had Neptune, Jupiter, Mars and Uranus aligned with Pegasus stars: Jupiter at 1 Pegasi, in the hoof. In the Greek myths, Pegasus beat the ground with his hooves, bringing forth a spring of water!
Below Aquarius is Piscis Austrinus; this is the Southern Fish (not one of the Pisces fishes) into whose mouth the stream from the Urn enters at the bright star Fomalhaut (Arabic Famm-al-Hut, the Mouth-of-the-Fish). Frag-ments of an Euphratean celestial sphere in the British Museum has this as Sumero-Akkadian Sila-Da-Kha-Bi, Babylonian-Assyrian Nun-nagabi, Phoenician Dag: "Constellation-Fish-of-the-Canal" (this "canal" probably being the stream of water from the Urn of Aquarius). Among the ancient Sumero-Semites, the priests of Ea-Oannes, Lord of the Deeps (who was also shown as a fish-goat or fish-ram) wore a fish-skin as a theriomorphic dress. The fish headdress of Ea's priests later became the mitre of the Christian bishops.
Besides stars in Aquarius and Pegasus, St Bernadette's MC, Neptune & Jupiter also aligned with stars of Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish, which Manilius said offered "benefit from the waters"!
In Akkad the month of the fishes was Se-kesil "The-Sowing-of-Seed" associ-ated with fruitfulness and productivity. Zib, its designation in Graeco-Babylonian astronomy, probably comes from a Turko-Tartar root meaning "water" and/or "shining". According to Brown, in archaic Euphratean tab-lets this was Nuni, the Fishes, but O'Neil has Sumerian Zi-me (Akkadian Zibbati) "Tails", and/or Du-nu-nu (Akkadian Rikis nu-mi), "Fishcord". The "lucida" or determinant star of the constellation is Al Rischa, alpha Piscium (29 Aries) the star in the knot of the cord and the easternmost in the constellation. Every six years (on average) the Babylonians inserted an extra month (Ve-Adar) into the lunar calendar to keep pace with the solar, and some scholars cite this practice as the reason for a dual constellation in this part of the sky.
Along with the Sea-Goat & Water-Pourer, constellational Pisces stands in for denizens of the sea and their well-being: lunations and eclipses in the Fishes have preceded major oil spills that have devastated sea crea-tures and their habitats. A new moon on 3 11 67 at 19Psc55 (variable star SZ Piscium) occurred just 1 week before the Torrey Canyon grounded off the Isles of Scilly near Cornwall, gushing 860,000 gallons of oil; the Amoco Cadiz, one week after a new moon at Fum al Samakah, Beta Piscium (18Psc10) ran aground off the coast of France 3 16 78, dumping 1,620,000 barrels on the beaches of Brittany. The 270,000-barrel Exxon Valdez debacle of 3 23-24 89 came 2 weeks after the 3 7 1989 new Moon eclipse at 17Psc10, (galaxy NGC7460), all in the ancient, star-strewn Fishes.
Above the Fishes lie Andromeda and her father, Cepheus: these are Phoenician in origin; however, cuneiform inscriptions mention, in this area of the sky, Babylonian-Assyrian (Semitic) Kakkab Eritu, Akkadian Ama or Eme, "The-Constellation-of-the-Pregnant-Woman". An epithet of Ishtar-Aphrodite was Mulitta, Babylonian Mulidtu ("the Bearer"), which is probably the original female figure afterwards called Adamath, "The Female Earth", "The Ruddy (or Rosy) One" (Andromeda) by the Phoenicians.
In 1847 Pluto was aligned with M31, the Great Andromeda Nebula, when Hungarian Dr Ignace Semmelweiss, working at a childbirth clinic, realized that the puerperal fever that was killing a high percentage of patients was caused by septicemia; he desperately tried to convince his superior that doctors must disinfect their hands before delivering babies. The man utterly refused to listen, and women went on dying. Semmelweiss (whose NNode aligned with Xi Andromedae), died despairing and insane, but the principle of anti-sepsis gradually caught on. (Andromeda was originally "The Pregnant Woman"!)
King Cepheus, a Phoenician constellation, the father of Andromeda, was also known as Baal Katsiu "Lord of the Promontory" and Baal Tsephon "Lord of the North" or "Lord of the North Wind". In this area was the Euphratean Ualuzun "numerous flock", and the Arabs knew Cepheus as al-Aghnan, the Sheep; Gamma (0 Gem) was Ar-rai, the Shepherd, and Rho (1 Gem) was Kelb-ar-rai, the Shepherd's Dog. This makes Cepheus a sort of Shepherd-King of the North.
A nova appeared in the Crown of King Cepheus in June 1936; in December, King Edward VIII of England renounced his throne.
Below the Ram is the tail of Cetus, the Sea-Monster or Whale: Cetus (Ketos) has its origin in the Babylonian Mummu-Tiamata, Hebrew Mehumah-Tehom "The-Chaos-of-the-Deep"). In the archaic mind the Deep had a more profound meaning than we experience from the word "ocean" - it encompassed the Oversea in which the Solar & Lunar ships sailed, and the Ocean itself, of unknown and awe-full vastness, that ringed the world, and the Undersea, inscrutable, invisible, fathomless, into which the heavenly bodies sank mysteriously out of sight.
In October 1988 three trapped gray whales at Point Barrow, Alaska captured the world's imagination. On September 25th a full Moon and Mars’ perigee had aligned with Deneb Kaitos, Zeta Ceti, and the October full moon was at Stella Mira, Omicron Ceti, both in the celestial Whale!
In the earliest Babylonian texts, ca 4-3,000 BC, before these stars were seen as a Ram, they were Lu-hun-ga "Hired Laborer" or farm worker, shown holding a goad which which he prodded the celestial Bull. These stars rose heliacally in the early spring, marking the time of the first sowing. As precession gradually moved the Vernal Equinox away from the Bull and nearer to these stars, a more dignified figure was needed to lead the celestial host. An adaptation extended the original, solitary "Horn-Star" (Hamal, alpha Arietis) into Kakkab Lulim, the constellation of the Ram, which, like the Bull, was a lusty, virile, and aggressive creature, suit-able for leadership, regally haloed with horns that impelled the opening of the year.
A cultivated New York City woman born with the Sun, Mercury and Venus in the headstrong celestial Ram has become a farmer in Maine, raising sheep. Cesar Chavez, union organizer of California farm workers, was born with the Ram culminating (in Sumer, 4-3,000 BCE, these stars were "The Hired Laborer").
CASSIOPEIA, THE QUEEN Tropical Span: 37 degrees 25 Aries - 2 Gemini
Above the Ram is Triangulum (2-20 Taurus) & Cassiopeia: Cassiopeia, the Queen, is one of the Phoenician "royal family" constellations. "She of the Throne" was the vain, boastful wife of Cepheus and mother of Andromeda. In archaic cuneiform tablets she was Kas-se-ba which may derive from Qassiu-peaer - "beautiful", "rosy-faced".
Isabella of Castile, Catherine the Great and Maria Theresa's Sun, Cather-ine of Aragon & Queen Elizabeth's Moon, Roman Empress Messalina's Saturn, all aligned with stars in Cassiopeia, the Queen.
Below the Ram, flowing in great curves through the southern skies, mean-ders Eridanus, the River: although its Alpha star, Achernar, is at 15 Pisces and the Beta, Cursa, is 15 Gemini, most of the other stars of this constellation are in tropical Taurus. In the Sumero-Semitic Euphratean Planisphere this was the constellation "Strong-One-of-the-Plain" (Sumero-Akkadian Pur-edin, Babylonian-Assyrian Eru-edimu), the Euphrates. Eridanos as an Aryan name would mean "The-Strong-Flowing," in Turanian "The-Strong-River".
Keid, Omicron1 Eridani, is in the same degree as the Pleiades cluster in the Bull. The solar eclipse here in May, 1993 (exactly square Saturn in the Water-Pourer), immediately preceded 1993's terrible Mississippi and Rhine river floods.
The figures in the sky
are the deepest and richest heritage of mankind. From the earliest
times, they have linked the races of humankind together; throughout
recorded history (even before writing, when myths were shaped in the
chants of memory-singers) races strange to one another met at
marketplaces, campfires, lonely roads and remote outposts, under one
vast, eternal, unchanging heaven, to point at the sky and trade star
names, stories, and legends. The ancient astrologer-priests, our
spiritual fore-bears, patiently preserved and carried forward their
knowledge; to them, it was the most sacred task imaginable, and we are
their heirs. It is up to us to see that what they saved for us is
honored, restored, studied, preserved, and handed on for future
All astrological positions (including Galactic Center, 66 CE) were calculated on Mark Pottenger’s CCRS Horoscope Program.
All aspect contacts are within one degree either side of exact (a moiety of one degree); the term "exact" would mean within half a degree either side of exact conjunction.
Lunar Mansions are
segments along the ecliptic that the Moon "visited" each
month; they are among the most ancient forms of astrology extant. There
is one mansion for each day in a lunar cycle between successive new
The Circle Book of Charts, revised ed., Stephen Erlewine, Circle Books, Ann Arbor, MI, 1972: Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy, Franklin D Roosevelt, Dwight D Eisenhower, Woodrow Wilson, Douglas MacArthur, Queen Elizabeth I, Johnny Weismuller, Charles Atlas, J S Bach, Mendelssohn, Verdy, Haydn.
Astro-Data I (Profiles of Women), Lois Rodden, American Federation of Astrologers, Tempe, AZ, 1979: Catherine the Great, Clara Barton, Joan of Arc, St Bernadette.
Astro-Data III, Lois Rodden, American Federation of Astrologers, Tempe, AZ, 1986: Tamerlane, Cesar Chavez.
St Bernadette: Song of Bernadette, Franz Werfel, American Book-Stratford Press, Inc., New York, 1942 (Das Lied von Bernadette, Franz Werfel, Bermann-Fischer Verlag, Stockholm, 1941).
2001: The Penfield Collection, Mark Penfield, Vulcan Books, Seattle, WA, 1979: Puccini, de Falla, Handel, Florence Nightingale, Catherine of Aragon, Isabela of Castile.
The Gauquelin Book of American Charts, Michel & Francoise Gauquelin, Astro Computing Services, San Diego, CA: Rehnquist.
Clarence Thomas from
Frances McEvoy; Messalina from Brian Coombs’ article in Geocosmic
News. Thomas Chatterton & Semmelweiss from Encyclopedia
Britannica; Kuan-Ti, God of War: Stars of Jade, Julius D W Staal, Writ
Press, Decatur, GA, 1984; Ruth Bader Ginsberg: Lois Rodden’s Data News
# 43, Oct. ‘93, Stephen Breyer: Data News #49, Oct 94; Raoul
Wallenberg (born August 4, 1912, Kapptsta, near Stockholm, Sweden):
Wallenberg, by Kati Marton, Ballantine Books, NY 1982; Magda Goebbels
(born Nov 11, 1901, Berlin): Magda Goebbels, by H Meissner, trans by G
Keeble, The Dial Press, NY 1980; Khubilai Khan (Sept 23, 1215 OS, Ulan
Bator, Mongolia): Khubilai Khan, His Life and Times, Morris Rossabi,
University of California Press, 1988. City of St Augustine, Florida: C R
Dodson, Horoscopes of US States and Cities, Astro Computing Services,
Pelham, NY 1975. Utah Statehood: Marc Penfield, Horoscopes of the
Western Hemisphere, ACS Publications, San Diego, CA, 1984. Deseret and
naming of Utah: U.S. An Index to the United States of America, compiled
by Malcolm Townsend, D Lothrop Company, Boston, 1890. Serum to Nome,
Alaska; Torrey Canyon, Amoco Cadiz disasters, Iran-Mossadegh, Shah, etc:
Chronicle of the 20th Century, Clifton Daniel, ed.; Chronicle
Publications, Mt Kisco, NY, 1987. Bangladesh cyclone, 13th century China
famine, Bubonic Plague 1910-13, 1919 Russian typhus epidemic, 1938 New
England hurricane: J R Nash, Darkest Hours, Nelson-Hall, Chicago, 1976.
US Navy founded, Wright Brothers’ first flight: Kull & Kull,
Encyclopedia of American History, Eagle Books, Popular Library, NY,
1965. AIDS epidemic: Randy Shilts, And the Band Played On,
St Martin’s Press, NY, 1987. Yellow Fever epidemic: The Great
International Disaster Book, James Cornell, Charles Scribners and Sons,
NY, 1976. Python attacks: New York Times, November 10, 1980, and June
23, 1991. Point Barrow whales, Exxon Valdez disaster, dolphins,
Hurricanes Hugo & Andres: New York Times. Edward VIII abdication:
New York Times, December 11, 1936, p. 1. Goats and storms
connections: Oneirocritica (The Interpretation of Dreams) of Artemidorus,
trans. Robert J White, Noyes Press, Park Ridge, NJ, 1975. The Founding
of Rome: The Book of World Horoscopes, Nicholas Campion, The
Aquarian Press, 1988. Halley’s Comet: Two Body Ephemeris for
Comet Halley, 240 BCE to 1911, Donald K Yeomans and Tao Kiang, Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, Pasadena, CA, 1981. Heaven’s Gate
suicides: NCGR Boston Chapter Newsletter, Apr 1997 Vol XVI #8 and NY
Robert Brown, Jr., Researches into the Origin of the Primitive Constellations of the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Babylonians (two Volumes), Williams and Norgate, London 1899 (Ballantrae Reprint).
Willy Hartner, The Earliest History of the Constellations in the Near East and The Motif of the Lion-Bull Combat, Oriens-Occidens, 1948.
W M O’Neil, Early Astronomy from Babylonia to Copernicus, Sydney University Press, 1986.
B L van der Waerden (with
Ulla Koch, Joachim Schaper, Susanne Fischer, and Michael Wegelin): Eine
neue Interpretation der Kudurru-Symbole (A New Interpretation of the
Kudurru -Symbols), from "Archives for the History of the Exact
Sciences," Vol 41, No. 2, 1990, pp 93-114: Springer-Verlag,
Germany, 1990, trans. Kenneth Negus.
Gilgamesh, trans. from the Sin-Leqi-Unninni version by John Gardner and John Maier, Vintage Books, division of Random House, NY, 1985.
Robert Graves, Greek Myths, Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, 1972.
Manilius: Astronomica, trans. G P Goold, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1977.
Von Oppolzer’s Canon of Eclipses, trans. O. Gingerich, Dover Publications, Inc. NY, 1962
R Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, in the British Museum, Luzac and Co., London, 1900.
Nova in the crown of
Cepheus: This was called "Nova Lacertae 1936" - it was on the
line drawn by the IAU between Cepheus and the modern constellation
Lacerta and was assigned to Lacerta; it actually appeared in the
original crown of Cepheus, the King.
Rob Hand has called Diana "the world's foremost authority on Fixed Stars"; Vice President of NCGR's Uranian Society (Uranian/Cosmobiology SIG) and a faculty member of NCGR and UAC. She has written articles for the The Mountain Astrologer, NCGR Journal, Geocosmic News, Ingress, Heliogram, Memberletter, Urania, Dell Horoscope & American Astrology magazines. She is the author of the New Fixed Star Workbook and has co-authored Asteroid Names and Nodes and Ephemeris of the Asteroid Diana. Llewellyn's The Astrology of the Macrocosm includes her chapter on earthquake prediction, NCGR's Essentials of Intermediate Astrology contains her essay on Fixed Stars, and her chapter on Fixed Stars and the Hindu Lunar Mansions appears in Richard Houck's Hindu Astrology Lessons. For information concerning her
Encyclopaedia/Correspondence Course in Fixed Stars and Constellations
contact her: Diana K. Rosenberg 100 La Salle St, Apt. 6A New York, NY 10027 firstname.lastname@example.org
CONSTELLATION SPANS, EPOCH 1980
PTOLEMY: TETRABIBLOS II. 3
WEBMASTER CECE CeceSt@aol.com