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Sun in Aries
In the ancient land of Khent-the Black Land as its occupants called it-the greatest of all gods was Ra,
the burning sun. He ruled over all the land like a great father, dispensing wisdom and putting down rebellions. Ra was the creator, the first god of the people of Khent, which today we call Egypt. Before there were any others there was Ra, the all-seeing eye in the unremitting hot sky over a parched desert land. He was the First, just as the Aries Sun is the first, and always will be. In his legend we see the sun with early eyes, those of people who first looked up and saw divinity, the source of life. Aries is primal instinct, survival, and he is very good at it.
Ra, as the sun, spent half the day soaring in the air, inspecting his kingdom below. In the morning he and his boat rose out of a lotus flower, and at night he sank into the depths of the underworld, bringing light for its dead inhabitants. This daily voyage was not without peril, however; there was a great serpent,
Apep, living in the Nile, who sought to swallow
Ra's boat and had to be constantly fought off.
In the underworld there were other terrors, each attempting to devour his light. In some allegories, he is born as a little child each morning and ages to an old man each night.
We tend to think of Aries as a simple, straightforward sign,
rather one-dimensional, without much depth. Nothing, however,
could be further from the truth. For one thing, Aries combines apparently contradictory archetypes within him: the Innocent Child of springtime and the Warrior of Mars. We will come to the Warrior in a moment, but first we should look at Ra the sun god who lives each day as if it were his whole life, present in the moment. This is one of the gifts of Aries consciousness, especially in the solar placement.
Ra also needs to fight daily battles in order to survive and bring light to both worlds, and here we can view the quintessentially
Arian trait of courage. This is the energy of the daily battle that one emerges from victorious every time, and awakes fresh to every morning, all demons defeated for the time being. It is part of the Aries fire, and it is sustained by innocence. He does not believe that he can lose or that each day may not be an event to be lived with wonder.
Ra had a secret box locked away, which was the source of his power. In it, as his unfortunate grandson once found, were two items: a poisonous snake and a magical lock of blue hair. The snake had a tendency to leap out and kill anything that opened the box,
and the lock of hair could heal any wound, even that of the deadly snake. The two together can be read as both the Achilles heel of
Aries-the anger that leaps out impulsively, not caring who its random targets might be-and its salvation, the lock of hair as blue as the wide sky. The sky, in Egyptian mythology, is the place of the crying hawk, Ra's symbol, and Horus's as well. The flying bird looks down on things from a distance, a quality the tempestuous Aries
Sun needs to learn-using his head (from whence comes the lock of hair) rather than his leap-and-strike survival instinct.
However, Ra made a few errors. Among them was his rather strange attitude toward children and grandchildren. He drew from himself the first two children, Shu the god of the air and Tefnut the goddess of the dew, as if they were a mere experiment. When they proceeded to have opinions and desires that did not mirror his, he was rather surprised and annoyed. Shu and Tefnut mated and produced two more children, Geb and Nut, and this upset Ra so much that he ordered them permanently separated from each other, a task
Shu performed. When they managed to thwart him and produce five children, however, he gave in and grudgingly accepted his new brood. Aries likes new things, but only new things that go along with his idea of how things should be, which seems like an impossible contradiction and in fact is one. In spite of this, he recovers quicker than many signs and does not hold grudges.
When Ra grew old and weak, his subjects began to mutter against him. This is the worst fear of Aries the Child, who hates the idea of old age and lack of control. Ra decided to teach his rebellious subjects a lesson and sent Sekhmet after them, but she ate so many of them that he had to resort to getting her drunk in order to stop the extinction of his entire kingdom. This shows that even when Aries' anger seems like a good idea at the time, it often gets out of hand and has repercussions that the enthusiastic Aries never seems to guess at beforehand. Isis also took advantage of his old age, playing the feminine Venus-ruled Libra Moon to his masculine
Mars-ruled Aries Sun and charming the words of power out of him.
Once she had them in hand, she nullified his power and took it for herself, and he realized-as trusting Aries often does-that he had just been had.
Ra was the first god, and he was chief of the pantheon for millennia of Egyptian history, but somewhere in the twelfth Pharaonic dynasty a new god arose who would eclipse Ra and all the others,
up until the Christian era. He was warlike and strong, and bore as patron animals the Arian ram and the aggressive goose. His name was Amon, and his priesthood gained ground with disconcerting speed. Pharaoh after pharaoh named himself after some relationship to Amon or built temples or obelisks to him. The most famous of them, the pharaoh who conquered more land than any other, was named Ramses. Amon was Mars to the hilt; he was shown sometimes as a man with double plumes on his head and sometimes as a ram-headed man. He ruled the Age of Aries with his chariot and lance.
Seeing this, the priesthood of Ra agreed to combine the two gods,
and Amon-Ra came out of that agreement. The new composite deity that was Amon-Ra owned so much of Egypt's wealth that his priesthood was richer than the pharaoh. After the last of the Ramses dynasty died off, the chief priest of Amon-Ra ascended the throne himself. In Ethiopia his priesthood chose the rulers; in Libya they built him a great shrine. Child, Old Man, Great Warrior-he held within himself all the archetypes of Aries, all of which any
Aries Sun can access and manifest, and neither he nor any of his worshippers saw any contradiction.
Aries conquers less out of ambition than out of challenge-not of others, but of himself. On some level, he knows that each trial will improve his spirit a little more, and he is driven toward them. If he can't find a worthy challenge to keep improving himself with, he will find an unworthy one and pursue it anyway. He is the "I"
opposed to the Libran "Thou," and he can be self-centered, like Ra,
the sun that is the brightest thing in the sky. He can also fight to the death for the right things, or the wrong ones. Aries' energy is not a guided missile; it's a cannon that needs to be aimed properly or others will suffer. Aimed at obstacles, he plows through them as if they don't exist. It isn't so much ambition as the thrill of the chase. After all, there are many reasons why a king or general would conquer other lands, but Ramses, the chosen of Amon-Ra, did it for one reason alone: glory. Aries understands glory. It's part of the secret of his contradiction, you see . . . both the Child and the Warrior are surrounded by clouds of glory. Different kinds, perhaps, but glory nonetheless.
Glory is the heart of this most fiery of fire signs . . . and after all this time, hawks still circle the glorious, blazing Sun.
Sun in Taurus
The Earth is the place from whence all our bodies come. It can be thought of as the original body that we grow out of and that we will return to. It can even be thought of as the body that we are parasites living in, if you'd like to put it that way. However we put it, it comes down to the same thing: Earth and body are on some level one and the same. There is the fiery core of chemical reaction, there is the skin, and there is the place where Earth touches Sun. This surface is the place where most of the life is concentrated, green and growing, sessile and moving, constantly changing yet dancing in the same old patterns of birth and death and rebirth from the soil.
This interface of Earth and Sun is where we best experience the sacred being that we call Gaea. Unlike other deities, she is easy to see and touch. Other sacred beings can be experienced subtly in the wind or the flames or the cycle of life, but Gaea is the most obvious and tactile. We are never very far from her, unless we leave the planet. She is right there, where we can dig in her, feed from her,
crumble her in our hands. And that's just the way Taurus likes it.
The ancient Greeks named her Gaea. She has other names,
though-Tellus Mater, Erda, Artha, Hertha, and so forth. She is the one constant in every religion, because we are all born of her. Yet to reduce her simply to a personification of the ball of dirt we live on is to far underestimate her in our psyches. She is Mother as much as she is Earth, she is metaphorical as much as she is physical. In our collective unconscious she is the nurturing figure who is more powerful than our actual mothers, and to whom they never measure up.
She is all-giving and maternal, but in a completely different way than that of, say, Demeter, whom I have associated with Cancer.
Demeter loves personally and intensely, and is easily thrown off by changes in her children, mirroring Cancer's sensitivity in the face of trauma. Gaea mothers impersonally; she is all-generous, but none of her children is more special to her than any other. She is hard to shock. Like a secure Taurus individual, you can beat on her breast and scream and she will stand patiently, loving but unmoved, until you are done.
If this immense archetype seems a little difficult to live up to, it is.
Yet every Taurean Sun has Gaea at the roots. Gaea's impersonal force of gravity illustrates the Taurean Sun possessiveness, which is strong but often seems impersonal. People sometimes become property-
like, thing-like, in their hearts, and thus the confusion when their "things" get up and walk away. Although Taurus does have to guard against this, it does not come out of a sociopathic need to dehumanize or objectify; it is just the ripple of Gaea consciousness coming through them. To her, we are all her things.
At its worst, this can result in a kind of materialism where objects or money take the place of attention or loving words. This sort of Taurus is someone who, paradoxically, has not gotten away from the earth archetype but has gone too deeply into it, and perhaps needs to be dragged up and away by some other god who can show them the long view. Whatever else material goods become a replacement for, however, it will not be for physical affection. The most sensual and affectionate of all the signs, Tauruses need physical touch like they need water. It would do them well to remember that earth without water-Taurus without Venus's ruling power of love-is a desert. Sometimes just increasing the amount of loving touch they have in their lives, assuaging that skin hunger, is enough to bring them back from a dry world of materialism and drudgery.
For Taurus, hugs and cuddles really can work wonders.
Like Gaea, who objected to Uranus the sky god spreading himself over her and stifling her, Taureans may object to more airy types who dominate the conversation, expect everything to move at their pace, and become impatient at the Taurus need to make decisions slowly and think things over carefully. Like the physical Gaea, Taurus prefers slow changes to fast ones. The Earth does not live at the same rate that we do, and it is as if Taurean Suns are tapped into that Gaian clock just enough to keep them slowed down a little more than the rest of us. Slow, of course, does not imply stupid. It is not the opposite of intelligent, but rather the opposite of impulsive,
or rapid, or abrupt, or haphazard. Taurus would rather see that something is well thought through than go off half-cocked. And on a simple emotional level, it takes her longer to get used to things.
That's why it's hard for her to let go of people and jobs and ideas-
she'll have to get used to not having them around.
It seems that in most descriptions of Taurus, astrologers go to the trouble of emphasizing the bull rather than the cow, as if Taurus was the most masculine of signs. It's actually ruled by Venus, the most feminine planet of all, and is a supposedly "feminine" (meaning receptive rather than aggressive) sign. So why all the macho posturing?
Perhaps in order not to offend male Taureans, who sometimes do a good deal of macho posturing themselves, as if to prove that they don't have any of those receptive qualities. Still, any sexism out of Taurean men is far less about Taurus-type beliefs about gender and far more about simply being socially conservative and uncomfortable with major world-view changes. If we lived in a matriarchy, Taurus men would probably be telling the rest of the boys not to act uppity or take on women's airs.
To change the mind of a Taurus, you have to be in their life, day after day, putting forth your best effort to be friendly, not getting into a lot of intellectual discussions (because even if you win them,
it probably won't change her mind) and just putting in the time until she gets used to you and whatever your alternative ideas and lifestyle are about. You'll have to outwait her, which will not be easy. When you've become a fixture in her life, strange ideas and all,
she'll accept you because it will be more effort for her to throw you out. You can even keep your strange ideas, because she's used to them now (on you, anyway), and she'll be more shocked if you ever change your mind.
But anyway, back to the bull. This livestock animal appears in hundreds of myths, from Europe to China, as the sacred earthspirit.
It seems (in the western half of the world, anyway) that if the
Earth Goddess could appear as an animal, it would be a cow, and so the bull simply became Gaea's male incarnation. You will notice,
however, that the bull is often sacrificed to Gaea. Part of this is the concept of giving back like to like, but the deeper meaning seems to be that the aggressive, trampling nature of Taurus needs eventually to be sacrificed to (read: cycle back into) the overarching archetype of Gaea's abundance and generosity.
Gaea gives abundantly because she has it to give, which describes a Taurus Sun who is secure in themselves. They are also associated with the archetype of the Builder, which they share with Capricorn and occasionally Virgo. However, the motivations are different: it is said that Taurus builds up because there are mountains, and levels flat because there are fields, and digs deep because there are caves.
In other words, Taurus builds like the Earth makes its own natural features and for the same reasons. Capricorn is more likely to build high in order to dwarf the mountains, not become them.
Taurus is strong. She has the solidity of earth and stone, tree and bone, and when her anger erupts, as it rarely does, it is like hot lava leaping from a crack that has just appeared in the ground. Taurus takes a long time to get good and angry, and unlike the fire sign's brushfire or lightning-strike rages, Taurus can take a long time to cool down as well, and by the time she's done, there may be an awful lot of scorched earth. Still, remember that she is ruled by watery Venus and that dumping lots and lots of love on the problem can usually bring things down sooner. When she cries, which will not be often, it's the rain falling, and it's over. When she decides to push something down, she will do it if it kills her, which is not likely. That kind of strength is rare. Don't dismiss her earthiness as stony nonlife. Gaea is all about life, life of all kinds, even the kinds that you don't want around. That's why Uranus was so upset about her making giants and hundred-handed critters, but she didn't care.
She had made them, and that was good enough.
The Taurus gift is the ability to be rooted, to be at home not only when you are at whatever place you hang your hat in, but anywhere you go. Rootedness is the ability to own, in turn, each square of sidewalk or road or floor or bare ground that you plant your feet on, with every step you take. When you're rooted, even in the midst of moving, it's very hard for you to be pushed down or thrown off.
Ground and center, they call it, which just means that you are the ground and you are the center, no matter where you are.
Earth. Water. Sun. The recipe for life.
Sun in Gemini
According to Greek mythology, Leda, the queen of Sparta, was visited in her bed by the great god Zeus in the form of a swan, a creature of the air. She gave birth to two sets of twins, and both times one twin was the offspring of Zeus and therefore semidivine. The other twin was sired by her husband Tyndareus and was therefore fully human and mortal. One set of twins was male and named Castor and Pollux; the other set was female and named Clytemnestra and Helen. Although only Castor and Pollux were referred to as the
Dioscuri-the children of gods-I count Helen and Clytemnestra also as Dioscuri. These two sets of twins exhibit all the terrible and wonderful qualities of Gemini. In fact, only a Geminian tale would have two sets of twins, anyway. Isn't that overkill?
The Dioscuri, however, are hardly the Bobbseys. Although Castor and Pollux are technically not full brothers, they are heartbound.
One is mortal and the other immortal, but they are inseparable.
However, they seem to mostly spend their time either adventuring or making mischief, sometimes both at the same time.
They go on adventures to rescue Helen from Theseus, who has kidnapped her; with Jason on the Argo to steal the Golden Fleece; and get into fights with neighbors over oxen and daughters. They never seem to settle down, and indeed settling down, at least mentally,
feels like the worst thing that can happen to a Gemini. They also never seem to really suffer or get into trouble-it's as if the gods watch over them-until their very last adventure.
At this point, they are paying court to two daughters of a local king. Of course, two brothers so close could only love two sisters,
which says a lot about the Gemini need for a multifaceted partner to assuage their potential boredom. The problem is that marriage inevitably means settling down and making commitments, and something in this volatile air sign instinctively knows that if he does this-
becomes tied to the realm of Earth-his days of divine protection are over. He will have to take his karma and vegetables like everyone else. His time of being the puer-the eternal youth-will cease.
Another pair of brothers are paying court to the girls, and bad blood ensues. Battle comes, and Castor, the mortal twin, is struck dead. Pollux decides that he would rather die himself than live on without his brother, yet with his divine blood he will go to Olympus upon his death rather than Hades. He appeals to Zeus, who takes pity on him and decrees that the two brothers shall not be separated.
They will spend half their time in Olympus and half in
Hades. This suggests that part of successful integration of the Gemini
Sun's twin selves is equal time in both twins' realms: part of the time on high Olympus with the gods and theories and imaginations,
and part of the time down in the dark, instinctive realm where we all have to go from time to time. For Castor and Pollux to remain together, Pollux must willingly give up half his divine life to raise half his brother's life. Integration must be more important than whatever dark things it is that he fears. It must be remembered that
Earth is halfway between the sky and the underworld, and to remain on Earth is to be balanced between them.
Their sisters, Helen and Clytemnestra, have an entirely different relationship. In Helen's case, her divine heritage means that she is astonishingly beautiful, while Clytemnestra is only average in that department. Helen is already set apart without even having to do anything. Her beauty is her power, shedding light on everyone it touches. She is so stunning, and becomes so desired, that her father actually allows her to choose her own suitor from the kings gathered around her in a panting crowd. She chooses Menelaus, the brother of the Achaean king Agamemnon, who is much older than her.
It is, however, passive power, unearned. This kind of empty charm with no substance or experience to it is another common trait of unevolved Geminis. They can be brilliant-Helen's name means "light"-but as this is a mental air sign, they can fall into the trap of keeping their intellect entirely separate from their emotions.
Helen shines and everyone is impressed, but it's all superficial.
And when you are superficial, you often become objectified,
which is what happens. Paris, the prince of Troy, makes a deal with
Aphrodite the love goddess to steal Helen, and she gets moved like a chess piece from one man to another. From being more than human she becomes less than human, a thing of brilliance to be possessed.
Part of Castor and Pollux's charmed life was that they were inseparable. When his twin selves are functioning as a team, Gemini works much better . . . but only as long as he lets the divine twin run the show. When they are separated, as eventually happens with
Castor and Pollux, he suffers a deathly ordeal until he can make them truly equal in his psyche. When they are separated from the beginning, as with Helen and Clytemnestra who never get along, the suffering starts early. It is the mortal side, the feeling side, who does the suffering. Goddesslike Helen never seems to complain much about her changes in status. She is valued and fought over no matter where she is. Her face launched a thousand ships. No matter how the war turns out, she will still be a princess. She lives the good life, the from-the-neck-up life, while the feeling side is shut out.
And what happens to that feeling side? Clytemnestra's story is one of the great tragedies of mythology, and her brave struggle is ignored by those who later chronicle it. Seen as uglier than Helen and of less importance, she is casually married off at twelve by her distant father to a much older retainer. At thirteen, with a newborn babe in her arms, she is forced to watch while Agamemnon, as part of an ongoing feud, murders her husband. He then dashes out her baby's brains against the wall, throws her down on the bed and rapes her, and tells her that they are now married. When she fights him, she is locked up, and he begets four daughters and a son on her. Eventually she subsides, living in an apathetic coma and attempting to find happiness in motherhood.
Unlike Helen, whose passive beauty and charm give her some choices, Clytemnestra has none. She is used and abused and locked up, like the feeling side of a Gemini who has not yet integrated her twin selves. Whenever there is inequality in a Gemini Sun's psyche,
the brilliant, divine day self wins out and the emotional, mortal night self loses. The Sun much prefers to shine through a divine light than a deathlike darkness. Clytemnestra is sacrificed so that Helen may be the admired princess.
Yet such a situation cannot go on forever, in the myth or in the psyche. Agamemnon goes off to the Trojan War, leaving what he thinks is a broken, docile wife to keep his kingdom in the meantime.
Then, at the coast, the winds all fail and his fleet cannot move. One can sense the Gemini essence at work here in the fickle wind's refusal to come. It might symbolize the eventual failure of the cutoff mental processes, the air that suddenly deserts Gemini when he most needs it, leaving him beached and stranded. What does he do?
The oracle tells Agamemnon that it is Artemis who is angry with him, and that he must sacrifice his oldest daughter Iphigenia on a funeral pyre to her. Artemis, protector of women, is in this book associated with the Sagittarius Moon, which stands exactly opposite to the Gemini Sun in both zodiacal and planetary energies. Although the sacrifice is a cruel thing, it triggers the situation to leap out of its comfortable chains.
Agamemnon does not hesitate for a moment. He sends for Clytemnestra,
telling her that Iphigenia is to be married to Achilles, and she must be combed and perfumed and sent to the coast. When Gemini confronts the breakdown of his supposedly efficient splitting mechanism,
his first thought is of what can be sacrificed to maintain it.
Usually, this is something of value to his repressed feeling side that his thinking side discounts as expendable. Iphigenia is Clytemnestra's favorite daughter, the comfort to her harsh existence, but she figures that Achilles will be off fighting for some time and she will not be denied her daughter's company for long. When she discovers that her beloved daughter has been sacrificed so that Agamemnon can have his divine wind, she snaps.
As soon as his ships have left for Troy, she instigates a full-scale rebellion, abolishing the newer patriarchal laws and instigating the older matriarchal ones. She takes as her lover Agamemnon's hereditary enemy Aegisthus, a man who "like a woman would not go to war"; i.e., he is more interested in relationship than in action. She conducts wholesale executions of Agamemnon's loyal followers and gives women full rights with men. When Agamemnon finally returns after seven years, she rolls out the red carpet for him, draws him a bath, and then she and Aegisthus murder him in the tub. It's war and chaos, and the feeling side overthrows its chains and overwhelms the psyche. Gemini can find herself acting strangely, exploding at people, or even having a nervous breakdown. She swings completely over to the side of emotional reaction, and her values shift radically. This can go back and forth for some time. The repressed emotions, once they have surfaced, are hard to put back in the box-Clytemnestra would rather die than go back to being a timid wife.
The story does not have a happy ending. Agamemnon's son
Orestes feels that he must avenge his dead father, and kills his mother and her lover. The Furies pursue him, as they torment all who are mother-slayers-just because you attempt to kill the irrational side doesn't mean that it goes away; rather, it comes back in an even more horrible form. He appeals to Olympus, and the gods are split down the middle. Finally the super-rational goddess Athena casts the vote in his favor, and the Furies are driven off . . . but at what cost? Helen goes back to her husband, but eventually becomes bored with him. She flees to Egypt, but while traveling in Rhodes she is caught by a group of women dressed as Furies, and they hang her as vengeance for all the men who died in the war over her.
This is the kind of persona division that put Gemini Marilyn
Monroe into a deadly drug overdose. For Gemini Sun to fail in her integration process is to walk straight into chaos, madness, and death. For no other sign is it so easy to separate the thinking and feeling functions into tight containers, and for no other sign is it so important that they refrain from doing so. The only way out is the solution of Castor and Pollux-half of all time and energy spent in the mental world and half in the underworld of self-introspection-
and for that, the twin selves must be allied, must not hate each other, must value each other as the most important thing in the world. If Gemini cannot do this, she will break down the middle.
Yet from that integrity can grow true brilliance, deep and not superficial,
with nourishing roots in the dark and limbs that spring toward the light. Even a drifting seed must put down roots eventually or it will die; without both light and darkness, so do we.