Animalia Stellarum ~ Aries the Ram

Divination and Dreams

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t is spring time here in the Northern Hemisphere and with both the Equinox and Easter right around the corner my social media feeds are filled with charming pastoral scenes of chicks and rabbits and lambs…but the mighty ram is there too just waiting for its moment.

Luckily the wait is over! Join us in getting to know the one and only Aries.

Aries is the 1st sign in the zodiacal wheel, marking the beginning of the Astrological New Year. This sign is attuned to the element of Fire, and is a cardinal sign. The Sun is in Aries from March 20th (Vernal/Autumnal Equinox) through April 19th. Cardinal signs always represent leadership and the purest expression of certain virtues; for Aries and all of the Fire signs this is symbolized by its arrival at the turning of the Equinox where Winter finally and officially gives way to Spring (in the Northern hemisphere) and Summer gives way to Autumn (in the Southern). Represented by the Ram and specifically the Ram bearing the golden fleece who was both hero and sacrificial victim, Aries combines bravery and adventure with a desire to protect, as well as a powerful will. Aries is fun loving, courageous, and at its best willing to not only protect, but lay its life on the line in service to others.

Ram as Aries: By Briana Saussy

AriesAlthough the sign Aries is ruled by the planet Mars and often associated with the Greek God of War by the same name, Aries is not all war making, weapon swinging, and bluster.

In fact, the constellation Aries has less to do with war and a martial aspect and much more to do with daring rescue attempts, sacrifices, and the ancient and deeply honored work of the Shepherd. Before we get to that though, let’s take a moment to see how truly old this story is.

Like many of our other constellations, Aries and its association with the Ram is very old but before Aries was the Ram itself, it was a Shepherd.

This was true for the Babylonians who recognized the same cluster of stars forming our modern Aries constellation and referred to it as “The Agrarian Worker” or the “Hired Man” as well as for the Egyptians who associated the constellation with the great God Amon-Ra, a male figure depicted with a Ram’s head.

In our less agrarian place and time it might be difficult to recognize how essential shepherds were to the community but they were, and they still are.

Shepherds and others who took on the role of cultivating, domesticating and protecting live stock from natural predators exerted a strong civilizing influence on early societies. Paradoxically, Shepherds themselves are often depicted as only part tame and part wild – it does take a special kind of soul to be outside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in all kinds of weather accompanied only by the animals he is charged with caring for. For these reasons, the figures in both Babylon and Egypt associated with Aries are also associated with fertility, protection, and the running current of the life force itself.

It is in the image of the Shepherd that we find our first real glimpse into some of the defining characteristics of the zodiac sign Aries, specifically we find that Aries is associated with a strong protective impulse. This can at first be surprising because typically Aries is seen as martial and more and more the martial and the protective have been separated in common culture. But the truth is more complicated and often the individuals who are most likely to be heroes are motivated by a desire to assist and help those who cannot help themselves, as well as to protect the weak and innocent. Aries, like its opposing sign Libra, is more concerned with justice than many people think.

By the time the ancient Greeks were spinning their stories with the stars the role of the Shepherd was taken over by that of the Ram, but it wasn’t any Ram; it was the Ram of the legendary golden fleece that Jason of the Argonauts would later pursue and steal with the aid of his witch wife Medea.

AriesThe story begins with a curse. There was an evil stepmother who was envious of her husband’s two first born children – a young girl and a young boy. She cursed the land where the family lived with a great famine so that everyone was hungry and then created a false oracle from the Oracle at Delphi, claiming that the only way to break the curse was for the King, her husband, to kill his son.

This part of the tale clues us in to one of Aries’ weak points – an easily inflated ego that wishes to “kill” off any psychic offspring that might also have a share of power, and a tendency towards envy when all is not as it should be.

The King was indeed ready to sacrifice his son and in a story that sounds eerily familiar to those raised in any Biblical traditions, he was at the point of spilling his son’s blood when a magical Ram appeared.

This aspect of the story speaks to another potential weak point of Aries – leaping before looking or proceeding straight ahead without having all of the information.

The Ram of the Golden Fleece appeared in order to rescue the boy and his sister after being asked to do so by the swift-footed God of the crossroads, Hermes (Mercury in Roman times). The sacrifice of an innocent child was stopped and both the young girl and young boy got on the back of the ram who then flew through the sky.

Here we see one of the most positive aspects of Aries, for this is the sign for whom the concept of “impossible” is not real or relevant. Rams flying across the sky and over the ocean? Something that’s never been done or even attempted before? Aries is not only interested in what others consider mere fantasy, it is bound and determined to defy a narrow concept of reality and bring the impossible to life.

During the flight the young girl tumbled to her death but the young boy made it safely into the mysterious and magical land of Colchis. Once he arrived he sacrificed the Ram of the Golden Fleece as a thanks offering to Zeus (under instruction from Hermes to do so) and then offered the Golden Fleece to the local King who in turn gave him his daughter to wed.

Several more essential qualities of Aries come out at this point in the tale. The first is that Aries, though a cardinal sign, has more of a liminal quality to it than is often understood. The obviously liminal signs like Scorpio or say, Pisces, have their own otherworldly presence but Aries does too – especially in terms of physicality and the body. There is an intuitive understanding of body and the ways that the physical body can be worked with to achieve great feats that is particular to Aries.

We also see clearly in this part of the tale Aries’ willingness to sacrifice itself for the greater good. Many modern astrologers talk about the “selfishness” of Aries and miss out on the obvious fact that the opposite is also quite true: this sign can engage in acts of utter selflessness when the situation requires it.

Finally we see the dance between risk and reward that is also a deep part of Aries story; here is a young boy who is about to be sacrificed only to go on a great (and terrifying) adventure, wherein he loses his sister, loses the one animal companion he has, and gains a wife and a crown. Another intuitive aspect of Aries is their understanding that without risk there can be no real reward.

The golden fleece was placed in a holy shrine and, as mentioned above, its story continues long after this cast of characters were deep in the earth. This speaks to yet another quality of Aries. As the first sign of the zodiac, the Ram is concerned with impressions – making them and leaving them. Given the central role that the Golden Fleece plays in some of the most beloved epic stories from antiquity, I would say that our Ram accomplished exactly that.

Ram As Animal: By Sara Magnson

AriesThe Ram is a mighty and peculiar creature.

For all the power and force associated with these animals, though, it’s easy to forget that

Rams are Sheep.

This is important to note because the word Sheep has developed a negative connotation in colloquial speech, meaning someone who is a mindless follower; however, as we have seen from the mythology and astrology, Aries the Ram is anything but. How and why do we perceive the Ram as somehow different from the Sheep? First, let’s look at what all Sheep have in common.

The physical form of Sheep is nimble, agile, and sure-footed. They trust the ability of their unlikely bodies, with thick torsos and spindly legs, to jump and maintain balance when other creatures would doubt themselves. They see in color, have excellent peripheral vision, and Bighorn Sheep in particular (a different species than typical “farm Sheep”) have excellent depth perception, which allows them to literally see and take chances that others may not.

As a prey animal, all Sheep have incredibly good senses of hearing and smell. Taste is also an important sensory aspect and, as herbivores, grazers, and foragers, Sheep exhibit clear preferences toward different foods. As ruminant animals, their four-chambered stomachs are built to extract a high amount of nutrients from their plant-based diets.

Sheep are inquisitive animals and, like the sign of Aries, have the ability to discover and seize opportunity in seemingly impossible situations. We can also all take a cue from Sheep’s highly efficient digestive system to be very deliberate when working with the things that fuel us, making sure we’re getting all we can out of them.

The skin and fleece of Sheep have been revered for ages – hides and wool to create objects from the practical and mundane to the magnificent and magical. When thinking of Sheep’s hide, remember that skin is considered an organ and is, in fact, the largest organ of the body. Protecting all the delicate things inside, skin is essentially a huge sensor packed with nerves and keeps our brain in touch with the outside world. The majestic fleece of Sheep, like our own hair, is directly connected to their skin and provides an intense sensitivity, as well as protection from the elements, allowing them to thrive in diverse climates and environments. It is this protective and armor-like quality of Sheep’s fleece that contributes to its many magical qualities.

Socially, Sheep desire order and prefer a defined structure, establishing who is in charge and how each member of their social group falls in rank. They are gregarious and form strong, close, relationship sub-groups within their flock.

AriesSheep are more intelligent and sensitive than we often think, having a good memory and the ability to differentiate facial expressions and the emotional states of other animals, including humans.

Sheep are also very good at hiding any injury or sickness so as not appear weak, which can be good for avoiding predators looking for an easy meal.

These social traits are exhibited in the influence of the sign of Aries in many ways. There is the desire for order and structure; the ability to see more than others think you do, and definitely more than you let on; and the tendency to hide weakness when you could be asking for help. As previously mentioned, Sheep are inquisitive animals and, no matter the current interpretation of the word, can be brave and courageous. They are willing to break through barriers (literally and figuratively) and face uncharted territory to seek a better life.

Sheep have a long history with humans, being one of the earliest animals to be domesticated, and, as we have learned, there is an entire vocation dedicated to caring for Sheep. The word “Shepherd” derives plainly from Old English – shep/sheep and herd, literally someone who watches over the Sheep. These animals provide us with food in the form of meat and milk (and cheese, my favorite!), and hide, sinew, and fleece for clothing and comfort.

To talk specifically about the Ram, versus Sheep in general, we must discuss some topics of gender and gender roles because Rams are biologically the males of the species. This is also the area where we discover why we perceive the Ram as somehow different from Sheep.

First of all, it is the Rams who possess the magnificent horns. Ewes of different breeds can have horns, but they are much smaller. Without getting into a separate discussion on the various ways gender may be expressed in animals, let us talk about how it is most commonly expressed in Sheep. The males have bigger horns because they are the protectors of the flock and they use them to intimidate and to fight. Horns are impressive structures, no matter what animal they come from or if they are male or the female. The horns of Rams in particular are in the shape of the Sacred Spiral, adding even more depth to their magical associations. They are borne directly from the head, just as our hair grows, and indicate potent creativity and mental acuity.

When we examine the Ram associated with Aries and the mythology surrounding it all, it is very male-centered. Aries is identified with typically male traits – the Sun, war, aggressiveness, etc. In the tale of the Golden Fleece, it is the brother who survives and his sister is the one who doesn’t make it to the end. In reality, it is the females of the species Ovis who have unfortunately inspired the suggestion that “sheep” means mindless follower and it is the males, the Ram, that evokes power, agility, and intellectual fortitude. I argue, however, the nature of Aries and the Ram affects all of us, male or female.

I am a straight, cis-gender woman and I am an Aries. I am not on the cusp of anything and am in the dead center of Aries. I can tell you from forty years of personal life experience that the typically-male-leaning undertones of Aries the Ram are something I am constantly working to balance within myself. Like it or not, we all exhibit both male and female tendencies, ways of thinking, emotions, actions, etc., and we are all working to balance and discern those with what our society tells us and demands of us. We all have a strong, powerful Ram within us and we also all have delicate parts, and everything in between.

The Ram of Aries asks us to find that aspect of ourselves that is unafraid, that is bold and daring, that is sensitive and nimble, and to trust and encourage its instinct. When you feel nervous, afraid, fearful, worried, and/or in a state of over-analyzing, call on the energy of Ram to connect you with a very specific part of yourself, a part that we all have. Embrace the surety of purpose that Ram embodies and allow yourself to tap into his bravery.

Call on the Ram When:

  • You need to take action!
  • You want to call forth more energy and enthusiasm.
  • Risk is required.
  • The protection of others, especially those who are too young, weak, or innocent to care for themselves is needed.
  • You are called to achieve something daring and great.
  • You want to come into a deeper, more intuitive relationship with your physical body.
  • You have to fight or enter into conflicts.
  • You want to be a hero/heroine.
  • You desire to leave a strong and lasting impression.
  • You want to speak your truth.
  • You need to start a project.
  • You are ready to do the impossible.

Be Wary Of

  • Leaping without Looking – In their quest for adventure and desire to help, sometimes Aries can land itself into sticky situations because they don’t get all of the facts, make certain assumptions, and dive fully into troubled waters.
  • Bossiness – From one cardinal sign to another let’s just put it out there – Aries can be bossy, controlling, and utterly convinced that they understand and no one else does.
  • Jealousy – Aries is drawn to risk but it is also drawn to reward. If they see someone getting more, accomplishing more, or having a greater impact than they do, they can start to feel envious and dwell more on others successes than on the things that will help them bring their A game.
  • Superficiality – The shadow side of leaving impressions is going for quick and easy tricks that, when looked at more deeply, are full of just sound and fury. This most often shows up as a focus on muscles and lipstick as opposed to skill and real talk.
  • Catching Fire – Aries has a TEMPER. Have you ever seen a real Ram ticked off about something? If so, then you get it. Although the temper here is more like a flash fire – it burns hot and bright and then it is gone and forgotten, it does have the ability to singe anyone who gets too close.

Questions to Ponder:

Aries shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Aries” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Aries occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • What does being a hero mean to me?
  • What are the roles courage and bravery play in my life?
  • How well do I understand and work with my body?
  • What and who am I willing to lay down my life for?
  • What kind of impression do I want to make?
  • What is hard for me to get started with and begin?
  • What am I willing to guard and protect?
  • What is the role of risk in my life?
  • What impossibility do I want to make possible?

Active Imagination Journey:

Cultivate Calmness.
Ground, Center, and Anchor in the ways that feel good and right to you.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are standing at the edge  of a great cliff and beyond the cliff is the bright blue sea.

Affirm and acknowledge that you have come to this place at this time to learn a new teaching about your life, one that is gifted to you from the stars, you have come to encounter the Ram.

Acknowledge that it does not matter where Aries occurs in your chart or whether you were born under this Sun sign or not – we all have this constellation present in some portion of our natal chart.

As you are ready, look straight out at the horizon line where sky meets earth.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that an object floats just over the horizon line and s slowly becoming larger and larger as it approaches. It seems to glow like the sun and as you narrow your eyes to see it more clearly you find that what is moving towards you is the Golden Fleeced Ram of Aries itself.

Affirm and acknowledge your inner knowing that the Ram is coming for you today, that it is willing, if you are, to take you for a ride into the heavens where you may see your life from a bird’s eye perspective.

As the Ram lands softly beside you the invitation is clear: get on board.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel yourself climb onto the strong Ram. Curl your fingers into its soft, gold, fleece and around its great curling horns.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that the Ram becomes air born and you are now able to see below. The blue sea witnessed at the beginning of the active imagination has changed and transformed into the terrain of your life, from the moment that you were born and took your first breath to right here and right now.

As you hold onto the Ram’s golden fleece, see, sense, touch, know, and feel the question that is being asked:
“Where are you willing to take a risk?”

Look down, look down, look down – knowing that you are safe and able to see clearly from this vantage point.
Look down, look down, look down – acknowledging the areas where you have perhaps played it too safe for too long.
Look down, look down, look down – visioning clearly the places where now a risk is required, an intelligent, brave, but also calculated risk.

Affirm and acknowledge that with the Ram sets you gently down in new terrain, your life after certain risks have been taken and rewards have been granted.

Affirm and acknowledge with the Ram as your guide you can discover not only the best risks to take but the best ways to take them and as you are ready ask Aries, the Ram what it would like you to do with this newfound insight.

Give yourself time to truly listen and enjoy.

When you are ready to depart allow yourself a few final moments to say goodbye and to agree to any promises, oaths, or exchanges that you can in good faith make.

Breathe in a blessing on your body and as you exhale bring your awareness back to the room that you are in. Feel the weight of the air upon your skin and allow yourself to stretch and move in any ways that feel good and nourishing to you.

As a final act, note what the teaching from Aries was to and for you.

Reflect on the message you were given and the task you were asked to do, and then in true Aries fashion, make it happen.

Altar/Ritual

Make space at your altar, or create a new area as you see fit, to show your reverence for Ram. It is possible to procure ethically sourced Ram’s horns, but if you cannot or don’t want to do that, acquire a piece of wool (and raw, unprocessed wool is even better – ask at your local yarn supplier). Place the horns or wool at the center of your altar space. Surround the horns or wool with a small bowl of water, a plant (a small container of grass is perfect for Ram, but any green plant will work well), and a candle.

Light the candle and place your hands on the horns or wool. As you watch the flame, reflect on the fiery nature of Aries and your ride with Ram. Ask for Ram’s essence, courage, and wisdom to guide you and show you the ways to achieve your goals.

After you spend time with Ram at your altar, engage in some kind of physical activity. Do whatever you are physically able and comfortable doing – take a walk or a run, dance around your house, do some gentle stretching, etc. Part of honoring Ram is honoring and acknowledging your own body. Each time you work with Ram take a moment to move and recognize and be thankful for your physical form.

Return to this Ram altar and movement practice whenever you need to reconnect with Fire and with Ram’s knowledge and lessons. Make sure you refresh the water periodically and keep the plant healthy and strong. And remember, always observe common sense fire safety when burning candles.

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Pisces the Fish

Divination and Dreams

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quarius took us into the depths and introduced us to the monster Typhon. Now that story continues but this time it is not Pan who turns into a fish but two completely different characters.

Pisces is the 12th and final sign in the zodiacal wheel, attuned to the element of Water and is a mutable sign ruled by Neptune. The Sun is in Pisces from February 18 through March 20. Mutable signs speak to our ability to be flexible, accommodating, receptive, and extend out towards others. Mutable signs also speak to transition periods and it is during the sign of Pisces that we begin to transition from deep Winter into early Spring in the Norther Hemisphere and late Summer into early Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.

Fish as Animal: By Sara Magnuson

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls,
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me ~ chorus from Joy to the World by Three Dog Night

Joy to the Fishes, indeed, for it is in the otherworld of the oceans that life on our planet came to exist. In the evolution of creatures it is the Fish that links us to primordial times, like the cord that ties together the two Fishes of Pisces. It is also fitting that the Fishes represent the end of the zodiacal wheel and where it connects back to the beginning – a never-ending loop, always in the present and always connected to the archetypal legacies of the heavens.

When we consider creatures that have been around, in some form, as long as the Fishes, we must also think of the Birds. Birds can fly through the air and navigate space in a way that we are not built to understand. Like Birds, Fish “fly” through the water, also living in a realm that we are not built to understand.

Acknowledge the world of a Fish for a moment – living in this liquid space, feeling the changes in pressure as it swims toward the surface or dives deep, sensing the currents like wind. It takes a completely different, very specialized kind of body to exist in this watery world.

The word “fish” is a very broad term, so what exactly are we talking about here. Fish are technically defined as “gill-bearing aquatic creatures with a skull and primary nerve cord that lack limbs with digits.” They are cold blooded Animals, meaning their body temperature is regulated by outside sources and very little internal heat is generated. They have a four-chambered heart (like humans) that pumps blood in a single loop through the body (unlike humans). Fish are found in all aquatic environments – salt water, fresh water, brackish, etc.

Just as Birds are designed with wings and feathers to be aerodynamic, Fish are covered with scales to allow for hydrodynamic movement. Other creatures also have scales, like Snakes, but Reptile scales are born from the surface of the skin, the epidermis, and Fish scales come from the dermis layer, much deeper within. You can think of a Fish’s scales as you would the development of your hair and teeth. For the Fish, scales provide protection for their physical body, as well as facilitating smooth movement in the water. Fish’s fins (i.e. their “limbs”) function much in the same way as a Bird’s wings, allowing it to propel and direct its movement. The scales of Fish’s body ask us to consider our own forms of emotional and spiritual protection, and to examine how deeply they are rooted.

An amazing aspect of Fish is its ability to breathe oxygen under water. Yes, Fish breathe oxygen, like humans, they just get it in a different way. The gills of Fish are made up of filaments and capillaries that create a huge surface area to extract oxygen from the water molecules. The act of swimming, moving through the space, forces water through their gills and keeps the process going. Fish can also “flap” their fins to push water across their gills while remaining still, a kind of hovering, which brings us to how Fish sleep. They don’t have eyelids so it appears that Fish is always awake, always moving, however we know that this is not true. Through observation, we know that Fish do take time to rest and enter into a form of stasis. How long and how often depends on the particular Fish. Keeping the water moving across their gills is an involuntary act; like our own heartbeat, they don’t have to remember to do it. In this way, Fish asks us to consider our unconscious behaviors and habits. Fish is there to guide us through times of internal exploration and reminds us of the importance of self-care and rest, no matter how it may appear to others.

Most Fish exhibit male or female reproductive characteristics, although there are exceptions, but their courting rituals are not quite the same as other Animals; in fact, the sexual life of a Fish is not particularly exciting. They typically reproduce when the female releases eggs and the male releases sperm into the water and hope they mix. Any courting, by male or female, is displayed for the purpose of drawing the potential mate near the area of the water they deposited their respective sex cells and pray that the other wants to deposit their own. The (hopefully) fertilized eggs are left to their own devices to develop, be born, and fend for themselves. Fish are not nurturing parents; they don’t stay around waiting for the babies to hatch and generally cannot identify their own offspring. This sexual and parental behavior, or lack thereof, speaks to the tendency of Fish to seem detached, far-away, or spacey. As we will see, Fish are not prone to forming individual attachments, but rather function at the extremes – in large groups or as solitary creatures.

Living in the otherworldly realm of water gives Fish some unique sensory abilities. They generally have a good sense of vision and smell, but they don’t hear like other creatures. Rather than hearing in the traditional sense, Fish have a sensory structure connected to their skin, called the lateral line, that works in a similar manner as the inner ear of humans. The lateral line provides spatial awareness and orientation and allows them to detect vibrations in the movement and currents of the water. The function of the lateral line directs their feeding and hunting practices, and affects social behaviors. In order to swim, Fish also possess specialized sensory organs that regulate buoyancy and detect water pressure. There are tens of thousands of different types of Fish, so it’s no surprise that some have developed other unique senses that serve their specific lifestyle, such as the detection of electrical impulses and different types of light. Awareness of how Fish senses the world teaches us about finding and accepting our own unique way of understanding and interpreting our environment. Fish asks us to be open, receptive, and non-judgmental of our individuality.

The behaviors of Fish are extremely diverse. Similar to variations in our own personalities, some Fish are aggressive and some are passive, some are loners and some must live in groups, some are predators and some are prey, some are highly intelligent and some are dumb as rocks. Two social behaviors that almost all Fish participate in at some point in their life cycle are the acts of shoaling and schooling. Sometimes Fish will swim together in a loose grouping, where they are acting fairly independently of each other but are close enough to stay connected, called shoaling. Schooling is when a group of Fish swim together in the same direction and in a coordinated way. Both of these behaviors provide protection from predators, better luck finding food and a mate, and help them save energy while swimming together (much like Birds flying in formation to utilize air currents most effectively). The act of schooling is a mysterious sight to observe, as it requires a highly coordinated effort of synchronized movements between individuals that are not vocalizing to each other. This aspect of Fish asks us to consider how we are or are not connected to others; how we are or are not utilizing and participating in community; where and when nurturing our connectedness serves our greater desires.

Most all Fish partake in some form of migration, whether near or far, for the purpose of reproduction, spawning, or finding food. Some Fish make small migrations daily and some cover vast expanses on an annual basis. The interesting thing about Fish migration is that, like Birds, they use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate. This process is still not very well understood, but we know that they are connected to the earth even if they never touch the ground.

The Fishes of Pisces live in an unknowable world, sensitive to things many of us cannot fathom. These places of depth and mystery are where Pisces thrives. The Fishes of Pisces, and the cord that connects them, show us where the pull of our uniqueness meets the collective consciousness; how we can explore our internal landscape beneath the surface while not getting lost at sea; and help us discern when we need the support of community and when we need solitude to function at our best.

Fish As Pisces: By Briana Saussy

piscesAs we turn our attention to Pisces it is a given that we will work closely with the element of Water and the fish nature of the final sign in the zodiac. However, there is more to Pisces than watery depths. In Babylon part of the constellation was called the Lady of Heaven, one of many epithets for Ishtar who brought the gifts of culture including ritual, magic, agriculture, and writing to her people. This early understanding of Pisces is relevant because the sign’s association with the Lady of Heaven underscores its relationship to synthesis. The way that C.G. Jung spoke about Pisces is that, as the 12th sign of the zodiac, it has received the lessons and gifts of all of the other signs.

Wherever Pisces occurs in your chart is most likely an area where you are able to make deep and vast connections – often between things that at first glance might seem entirely disconnected.

Moving from Babylon we enter into the star stories of Ancient Greece where the constellation of Pisces was understood to be Aphrodite and Eros escaping from the monster Typhon (whom we encountered in Capricorn). To recap: Typhon is described in ancient sources as having the body of a man but having hundreds of snakes emerging from his head and in some cases his thighs and/or feet as well. The snakes were all poisonous vipers, of course, who not only could kill by striking but actually spit their venom out onto their victims. Typhon was said to be able to breathe fire and also possess wings that allowed for flight. He was incredibly strong and powerful and had God-like powers over various elements.

Whereas in the tale of Capricorn the drama around Typhon involves transformation and struggle, in the tale of Pisces the drama involves connection and escape. Here we have a powerful and primal source that seeks to vanquish both Love and Desire. In order to escape and not be devoured, Love and Desire must both go under the waves, under the waters, and into the depths.

This is exactly what Pisces does as well. Those born under this sign or those who have this sign prominently placed in their charts often choose to escape into the watery depths themselves. The depths may be the music that Pisces plays, the art Pisces makes, or the dreams that often feel more real than waking life to Pisces.

Like the preceding sign, Aquarius, Pisces can sometimes appear aloof or uninterested in what is “actually happening” but unlike Aquarius, Pisces does not appear this way because it is preoccupied with mental brilliance and what is possible; rather Pisces feels deeply and instinctively knows that in order for the forces of Love and Desire to live in the world and remain intact, submergence and escape from the world is sometimes necessary. With Pisces there is both a deepening and softening of the qualities of Love and Desire, just as Aphrodite and her child Eros dived down into the waves so must we.

piscesThe presence of Aphrodite and Eros also clues us into some of the natural powers of Pisces – this sign influences our ability to be in harmony with ourselves and with others, to acknowledge and affirm our true desires, and to bring beauty into the world in every way possible. Escapism is an attribute that Pisces is often accused of engaging in and this is where the cord or lasso that binds Aphrodite and Eros together becomes so essential to the story.

In a practical manner the cord connects both figures to each other so that they are not lost to one another. Love that lacks Desire is cold and empty while Desire without Love has no solid root stock from which to grow. Eros is of course the child of Aphrodite so this also speaks to our connection to our legacy…when we go into the depths to do our work, to heal from whatever needs to be healed, to find more beauty and bring it up and into the world, we would do well to remember that we do this as a part of the legacy that we leave in the world rather than at the expense of it. The cord of connection also does not allow either figure to fully escape, fully be pulled down to the bottom of the sea; instead its presence reminds both that they will and must emerge once more – hopefully far away from the force of destruction that threatens them.

Magically speaking cords and lassos are worked with to connect and to bind; specifically the work of binding an individual to the things, people, and values that matter most to them. This ability to fix ourselves to what matters most is one of the challenges we find in the sign of Pisces, but also the single act that best prevents us from becoming lost in our own oceanic depths. Pisces is often spoken of as the sign that feels more and more deeply than any other (Virgo and Scorpio beg to differ on that, though). The ocean is a frequently called upon metaphor to convey the literal depth of feeling that this sign experiences. But one of the teachings of Pisces is that just because you feel something strongly, that does not make it necessarily true – knowing what really does matter most is the support that allows Pisces to emerge once more.

There is one more story associated with this constellation, my favorite kind, a fairy tale, and it speaks to one of strongest impulses we find in the Fish. In my research I saw that this story is attributed to Germanic origin, but I have encountered versions from Mexico, India, Italy, Greece, Eastern Europe, various locales around the Arctic circle, Japan, and China – basically anywhere you have a fishing economy you will have a version of this tale. It goes like this:

piscesOnce upon a time there was a very poor fisherman who lived in a metal tub with his wife, for they were so poor that they did not even have money for a meager cottage. The fisherman was a kind and good man and his wife was always yelling at him and haranguing him. He did his best to make her happy while acknowledging that no matter what he did she would never be fully satisfied.

Now it happened that one day the fisherman went out onto the water and caught a large, beautiful fish. Imagine his surprise when he hauled the fish onto the deck of his little boat and the fish cried out in pain, “Oh, oh, oh, the hook it hurts me so!

The fisherman was appalled and immediately removed the hook from the fish and set it free back into the water. The fish then turned around and said to the fisherman, “You are a good and kind man to release me so and not eat me. In return for your mercy I shall grant you a wish, any wish you want, what shall it be?

The fisherman shook his head smiling and assured the fish that this was not necessary – he was happy to let the fish live its life in peace and was only sorry for any pain he may have caused it. The fish was even more delighted with this second selfless act and so told the fisherman that should he ever change his mind he could come back to the lake and call for the fish and the fish would come back and grant a wish.

Well, the fishermen went home and his wife threw the biggest fit you have ever seen. She screamed and cussed and yelled at the poor man who was such a fool and told him to go back to the water and ask the fish to give them a beautiful home with lots of money and plenty of fine things. The poor man was terribly embarrassed but he did as she asked and the fish emerged from the waters and granted the fisherman’s wish so that when he returned home he returned not to a metal tub but instead to a golden castle.

Thinking that this was the end of it, the fisherman settled down to enjoy life but his wife was not satisfied. She goaded him, nagged at him, and mocked him until he went back to the waters and asked the fish for a second wish. Imagine the fisherman’s surprise when the fish emerged with a few less scales and a small wound that seeped a bit of blood.

Upon inquiring what had harmed the fish, the fisherman learned that this was the cost of granting his wish, the fish had paid for it in literal flesh and blood. But the fish took great pains to assure him that it was fine, only a little wound and one that would heal quickly. Then the fish asked why the fisherman had returned and called for it. The fisherman hemmed and hawed and finally admitted that his wife was not satisfied and would like a second wish; this time she wanted to be Queen in their country. He hated to ask, surely he did not want to harm the fish, and yet if he did not his wife would be ever so angry.

The fish simply said, “It is done, go back to your home.” and then disappeared into the depths. The fishermen did go home and once there discovered that he and his wife were indeed King and Queen of their country.

And so he thought that it would surely end there – what else was there to want? Yet his wife was still not satisfied and crowed out to the heavens that her husband would have no rest or quarter until she was Queen of the UNIVERSE!!! Head hanging down and hat in hand, the fisherman went to the waters once more. He called for the fish and when it emerged he saw it was bleeding heavily from a much larger wound and that it had lost many of its beautiful silver scales.

He relayed his wife’s wish to the fish and the fish sighed in sorrow and then told the fisherman to go home. The fisherman did and upon his arrival found that he and his wife truly were the rulers of the entire universe.

As such he was able to see the waters where the fish lived, able to see the blood running like a red river from the fish’s body, able to watch as the last silver scales fell to the bottom of the sea and the fish finally died. And immediately upon its death all of the gold and jewels, the crowns an scepters vanished and all that was left was a poor fisherman, his angry wife, and the metal tub which they called home.

As I said, this fairy tale speaks to several of the deepest aspects of Pisces and they are – a compulsion to redeem and save, a need to please people, and a willingness to sacrifice oneself. We see all three themes at work in the story: the fisherman saves the fish and also seems to want to redeem his wife in some manner, the fisherman is constantly trying to please his wife (and does not see how unworthy she is of such attention), and the fish itself gives up its life to make someone else happy. Pisces can develop a savior complex and must be reminded of the essential roles that self-care and standing up for what they believe in and they think is right, play in their lives.

Call on Pisces When:

  • You need to be more thoughtful, sensitive, and aware of other people’s feelings.
  • You are learning a new form of art such as music, painting, sculpture, dance, drawing or design.
  • You wish to learn from the past and put it into proper perspective.
  • You need to engage more fully with your dreams and nourish your dream life.
  • You want to make connections between various aspects of your life; you are ready to synthesize.
  • You are ready to develop your psychic abilities.
  • You need to infuse your work with more depth, beauty, and creativity.
  • You wish to help.
  • You want to cultivate a deeper relationship with beauty.
  • You need to come into right relationship with your deep feelings and emotions.
  • You wish for deeper connection.
  • You are ready to be a force of redemption in the world.

Be Wary Of

  • Addictions of all kinds – Losing oneself in the depths is something to take figuratively and literally with this sign. Pisces and Scorpio are the two zodiac signs most strongly connected to addictions.
  • Escapism – Sometimes Pisces forgets to lasso itself to something or someone else and tries to escape the world completely. This can lead to (on the milder side) overlooking important, practical needs and (on the stronger side) moments of “breaking” from reality all together.
  • Being too acquiescent – As a mutable sign it is easy for Pisces to say YES! Whatever you want! While that can make the fish popular, as we saw in the story above, it is not always good for the fish – Pisces must learn the art of setting boundaries.
  • Overly high standards – Pisces has a vision of what can be, and usually the visions is pretty terrific. When the “real world” and people in it fail to live up to that vision it can leave the fish feeling hollowed out and empty, so it is good to remember that reality is not a bad word.
  • Self-doubt – One of the old ways to describe the 12th house in the zodiac is the house of self-imprisonment; Pisces finds it easy to believe in almost anything…except themselves.

Questions to Ponder:

Pisces shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Pisces” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Pisces occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • What aspects of my life need to be brought together, what is my overarching theme?
  • What beauty am I creating?
  • What do I serve?
  • How do I help?
  • What would happen if I asserted myself more strongly?
  • What depths do I long to sink into?
  • What are my dreams telling me?
  • How can I bring my visions of what is possible more fully into my waking life?
  • What is my lineage?

Active Imagination Journey:

Sit comfortably and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and listen to your breathing. Make each inhale and each exhale a little fuller and deeper than the last.

Feel your body slowly relaxing; feel each muscle letting go, your head; your chest; your arms and hands; your stomach; your hips, legs and feet; until all you are focused on is your breathing. Slowly in and slowly out.

See that you are walking on a sun-dappled path through a beautiful wood. It is a warm, pleasant afternoon, quiet and still and peaceful. You are carrying a small sack with you but its contents are not of concern. You know that what’s in the sack is important to you and that you must keep it with you. It is not too heavy and not too light and you stroll down the path with ease, breathing deeply. Notice your steps, your heartbeat, and your breath all in rhythm together.

The path begins to open up and you find yourself at the edge of the wood looking toward a smooth, glassy lake. There is a small island out in the center of the lake and you know that is where you must go. Make your way to the edge of the lake and step into the water; feel it gently lapping at your ankles. The water is temperate and calm and clear. Whether you are a good swimmer or not, you feel safe and comfortable moving deeper into the lake. You put the sack around you and begin to swim the short distance to the small island. You swim with the ease of a fish and you effortlessly make your way to the shore of the island.*

You emerge from the lake and walk up to a dry place on the shore of the island. Sit down and observe. Observe the span of lake you just crossed and the forest on the other side. Observe the shore that you’re sitting on and the sights, smells, and sounds of the small island. Observe that you are separated from the mainland, separated from your day-to-day worries and troubles, separated from your aches and pains, separated from the minutia of tasks and chores. Observe that it is quiet and peaceful. Take a moment to let your mind be still.

Now consider the sack you brought with you. Inside is an object that represents the thing you feel most tethered to, whether good or bad. Open the sack and remove the object. Hold it in your hands without judgment. Feel its weight and shape and consider what it represents.

Take a moment to meditate on the purpose of the object. Is it something you want to be tethered to? Is it something you should be tethered to? Is it a representation of the thing that is most important to you? Or is it something you do not want to be tethered to? Is it a representation of something you need to let go of? Is the object necessary in your life? Is it something practical that helps you? Or is it something that is no longer needed?

As you sit with the object and contemplate its purpose and function in your life, look out across the lake. Remember the perspective you have, sitting on this small island, separate from the mainland and all your troubles, pains, and duties; separate from all the influences in your life telling you what to do. Remember that you are here to discern what to do with this object and the decision is yours and your alone.

If you decide that this object represents something you do not want to be tethered to, dig a hole on the shore and bury it, leaving it behind for the island to absorb. If you decide that this object represents something you do want to remain tethered to, return it to the sack. When you feel ready, you step back into the lake and feel it gently lapping at your ankles. The water is temperate and calm and clear. You feel safe and comfortable moving deeper into the water and begin to swim the short distance to return. You swim with the ease of a fish and you effortlessly make your way to the shore of the mainland.*

As you step out of the water onto the land, give yourself a moment to look out across the lake to the the island you came from. Express your gratitude for the ability to move your body through the water and for the clarity that the island provided you.

When you are ready, begin walking back on the sun-dappled path through the beautiful wood. It is a warm, pleasant afternoon, quiet and still and peaceful. Notice your steps, your heartbeat and your breath all in rhythm together. Become aware of your presence in your physical body. Allow your mind to gently return to the present moment where you are sitting comfortably, listening to your breath.

When you feel ready, open your eyes.

*if you have phobias around water or swimming that keep you from visualizing this, imagine that there is a small, safe boat for you to get to and from the island.

Altar/Ritual: Making a Spirit Cord

This is an adaptation of a practice taken from Bri’s course on magic and fairy tales, Spinning Gold.

Ropes, spirit cords, ritual belts and, as they are called in Currendera tradition, lassos, are sacred tools and ritual talismans that assist us as we meditate and engage with the Otherworld in very specific and helpful ways.

For many newcomers to magical work it is an odd idea that something as innocuous as a piece of string, fabric, or leather could have the ability to serve as a physical catalyst for rapid and deep transformation, but it can.

The spirit cord or lasso has the ability to connect past, present, and future and can be worked with in a ceremonial manner not only to connect your past, present, and future, but also to connect you to Ancestors who are no longer among the living, and Descendants (including creative, metaphorical, progeny) that will come into being in the future.

You may also work with your cord to connect to specific places, objects, and people. For instance, try looping one part of your cord around a plant and sitting with the end of the cord in your left hand. Consider the channel you create in that moment and be aware of  the information that flows through it.

How to Make Your Spirit Cord

1.) Acquire three pieces of material. Choose materials that can be braided together such as yarn, rope, or thread. I recommend that you choose the same material for each of the three strands. This cord is something you can wear or wrap around you, so choose something comfortable that will feel good against your skin. You may want to choose one, two or three colors for your cord. (My cord is three different colors, white, black and red. This is entirely up to you.)

In choosing colors, reflect on what different colors mean to you in particular. Red might mean power and protection, blood spilled in creative work? Black might mean to you a power that absorbs negativity. Blues for you might call forth healing waters. Yellows might evoke for you a field of wildflowers and something lighthearted or it might evoke something entirely different.

The point is to open up correspondences that connect with yourself. As you choose your colors, keep in mind the work or purpose of the cord, as we have said above: for daily practice, working with lineage and legacy; to strengthen and restrict, open up the channel to travel more easily between the worlds.

2.) Cut the cords to the length or height of your body. Give yourself about twelve inches (or about thirty centimeters) of extra material, since the cords will shorten as you braid.

3.) You will now have three lengths of material, and either one, two or three colors. Now you must assign deeper significance to each strand. Here is how you can do that:

Think about your life as a whole and in part, your aspirations, your desires, your frustrations and obstacles. What facets of your life feel separated from one another?

Some common examples of different facets of life that can feel separated or related and joined together:

  • Work life
  • Spiritual practice
  • Love life
  • Creative life
  • Physical health
  • Eating food
  • Family life
  • Financial life
  • Self-image

Now choose three life facets for your cord, and assign one for each strand. Take as much time as you need to make your choices.

If this does not feel resonant to you, here are a couple of further options:

Some of us struggle with the separation between who we are inside and the face we show to others. If this describes your experience then dedicate one strand of your cord to your inner voice, one strand to your outer expression, and one strand for the two aspects coming into union with each other.

In other cases we are searching for a through line connecting our experience of past, present, and future. In that case you might dedicate one strand of your cord to the past, one to the present, and one to the future.

4.) Keeping the three facets you have selected strongly in your mind and inner intention, braid the three strands together. (If you’ve forgotten how to braid, or don’t know how to, no worries. You can find instructions on YouTube for examples of simple braiding tips. I would suggest, however, that you practice first on some other strands before working on your cord. It is important for your own work to cultivate and hold your intention as you braid the cord and obviously this cannot take place if you have one eye on the computer screen.)

After you finish, bless it with your own words and in your own way, and put it in a safe place for use later.

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Aquarius the Water-Bearer

Divination and Dreams

F

rom earthy Capricorn we move into the aerial and aquatic realms ready to stir and shake things up with the one and only Aquarius.

Aquarius is the 11th sign in the zodiacal wheel, attuned to the element of Air and is a fixed sign ruled by Uranus. The Sun is in Aquarius from January 19 through February 18. As an Air sign Aquarius symbolizes our relationship with our intellect, thoughts, and internal struggles as well as our role in our greater communities. In its depiction as the human figure of the Water-Bearer, Aquarius also symbolizes our relationship with emotions and our literal connection with the element of Water.

Water-Bearer as Aquarius: By Briana Saussy

We depart from the mythic creatures we worked with in both Sagittarius and Capricorn as we turn our attention to Aquarius and discover perhaps the most mysterious creature of them all: humans.

Like its predecessor Capricorn, Aquarius is one of the oldest constellations found in Sumerian myth, Babylonian codex, Vedic Astrological tradition and Chinese star lore. In ancient Sumer and Babylon the star cluster was associated with the great God Ea himself, the annual flooding of the Nile, and the emblematic depictions of the constellations could be elaborate, including a man bearing a cup with water flowing all around.

As we move forward into time and into Ancient Greece we see that the emblems associated with Aquarius become simplified most often just the depiction of a cup or the depiction of a man with a cup and the story behind the stars became more layered and nuanced. For the story of Aquarius is one version of the story of the Flood which is a integral part of ancient myth in many parts of the world.

The Greek version stars the son of Prometheus, Prometheus being literally forethought” and best known as the Titan who, after seeing that the Gods had given all of creation special gifts except for humans, decided to steal fire from the heavens (star fire?) and teach people how to work with fire as a tool.

Prometheus’ famous punishment was to be chained to the side of a mountain where a vulture would swoop down and peck out his liver. Well, somewhere in all of that he had a son named Deucalion and just as Prometheus’ name is forever associated with the element of fire, Deucalion’s is associated with the element of water, and later air.

It all began with a sacrifice that went wrong. In some stories it is a king in Athens who pours a libation of water instead of wine, angering the Gods. In the older stories it is something more violent and bloody, the sacrifice of a young boy to Zeus, that was taken as deeply offensive, heretical, and impure.

AquariusHere we see one of strongest traits of Aquarius come to the foreground for this is the sign that is often seen as the cosmic rebel, refusing to go along with the way it has always been done” and instead looking with fresh eyes at whether an action still makes sense or is relevant (or was ever appropriate).

Aquarius is the sign least interested in tradition and there is goodness in that attitude because certain traditions (like human sacrifice, slavery, and child brides to name a few) must be called for what they are wrong and unjust and stamped out firmly and completely.

So, a young boy was killed for no good reason and the gods became enraged. What I hear below and beneath the surface of the story is the grief; that the heavens wept at the loss and waste of innocent life, and so they cried, and they cried, and they cried. And the waters came rushing down covering the land over and the rivers began to swell up and out and overrun their banks, and the oceans began to grow greater and higher and vaster than ever before.

That a flood is a cosmic cleansing is pretty obvious. Waters can ravage and level land as surely as fire can although in its wake, after the mud has dried and the sun has pierced through once more, great waters also prepare the land for new life. It is this way for us too, especially when we are guided by Aquarius. For this sign understands that when there are traditions and ways of doing things that are not only not relevant but positively harmful to self and to others there must be atonement, there must be cleansing and purification so that the harm and violence done can be washed away and out to sea. This is blessing work but also work that leaves us with the need to start again, find a new way, build something else.

And this is where Aquarius shines. For this is the part of the sky that inspires us with innovation and inventiveness; the place that encourages us to look forward into what is possible and not back into what has been. The water that overflows from Aquarius’ cup covers over the land and removes what needs to be removed, but then the real work of humans’ deep and brilliant minds is allowed to take center stage as we ask the question: what can be created right here and right now?

In the tale, the creator is Deucalion, Prometheus’ son who first figures out how to survive the Flood by building a boat large enough and sea-worthy enough for himself and his beloved wife. Once the waters have done their cleansing, deepening, work they recede and Deucalion is left as the only man/Titan standing alongside his love. They become the founders of a new city where new temples, new governance structures, and new traditions take place.

Again, the parallels with the astrological qualities of Aquarius are profound. Lovers of what is new and what is possible, Aquarius is also a very political sign concerned with the community at large, the polis as it was understood in ancient Greece meaning the entire city. This is also the place where we see the Air element show up in Aquarius, for despite all the water image, Aquarius is an Air sign and Air signs are all concerned with the bonds of civilization, social contracts, and the most just way to live life. In our day and age of virtual communities Aquarius often makes itself at home on the web and thrives in any environment where new and more just forms of connection and representation are under consideration.

When faced with the task of repopulating the Earth, Deucalion and his wife were told to take the bones of their mother and throw them behind their backs. They used their mental gifts to unravel the mystery and understood that bones of your mother” does not refer to the bones of your literal mother, but rather to the great rocks, the bones” of THE mother Gaia, the Earth. So they took rocks and threw them behind their shoulders and children sprung up in their wake.

This too speaks to the qualities inherent in Aquarius the love of a good riddle or puzzle, a mental brilliance that is able to see past the surface right into the essence of things, and a way of living life that is fertile and procreative, but not in a conventional manner.

Often it is said that what separates humans from other creatures, what makes us so different is our intellect. But for the ancients and our own ancestors that was not quite the right understanding. Rather, the gift that we carried is the ability for intellect to join forces with what we feel deeply, and what animates us and stirs us into action it is that we are capable of right relationship between all of these parts that is truly remarkable. The same is true for Aquarius.

Sometimes the sign is characterized as too mental,” too in the head,” but the truth is that Aquarius’ nature is born not fully sprung like Athena, but from a great well of emotion, of grief so deep that the waters themselves spilled out and over. Mental agility and creative thinking are called up not in contrast to but from the depths of those deep feelings and work in service of creating the new possibilities that those passions inspire. And this, I think, is what it means to truly bear water. For it is not about offering a cup full of water to this or that person Aquarius is not the cup bearer, but rather the one who will bear up under the onslaught, and survive it so that there might be a new day

Water-Bearer As Animal: By Sara Magnuson

Several astrological signs are represented by humans and in the context of this series we must take the perspective of ourselves as fellow animals. We are indeed of the Kingdom Animalia, right along with every other living creature. Thus the sign of Aquarius asks us to consider certain aspects of our human-animal nature.
We have learned that Aquarius represents the Water-Bearer in many ways historically, but when we consider Aquarius as Animal, we must begin with our
(humans) extraordinary relationship with the elements of air and water.

The most important factor that makes our planet Earth unique is the presence of the elements of water and air. Water is a main ingredient in forming a living organism and we all remember from school that our own bodies are made up of 60-70% water. Air is also required for life and even creatures that live under water need air, for water cannot be created without oxygen.

There is a mystery to water, metaphorically and scientifically. Water is obviously a necessary element to support life, yet we are constantly struggling with droughts and shortages. With all of our technological advances why can’t we just create water in a lab? Turns out, creating the molecules that make up water (H2O) is extremely volatile and dangerous! To briefly help us understand, here’s a simple explanation of the process…

AquariusWater is made of two hydrogen atoms attached to an oxygen atom. This seems like pretty basic chemistry, so why don’t we just smash them together and solve the world­’s water ills? Theoretically, this is possible, but it would be an extrem­ely dangerous process, too. To create water, oxygen and hydrogen atoms must be present. Mixing them together doesn’t help; you’re still left with just separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The orbits of each atom’s electrons must become linked, and to do that we must have a sudden burst of energy to get these shy things to hook up. Since hydrogen is extremely flammable and oxygen supports combustion, it wouldn’t take much to create this force. Pretty much all we need is a spark – not even a flame – and boom! We’ve got water. The hydrogen and oxygen atoms’ electrons’ orbits have been conjoined. But we also have an explosion and – if our experiment was big enough, a deadly one.”  — Josh Clark

So you see, water is a precious thing. The chemical reaction required to bond the atoms together is too dangerous to be reproduced in a lab. It’s not even totally verified how water came to exist on our planet and there are really only theories as to how it formed eons ago. A scientific mystery.


The fact that it takes such precise circumstances for water to form, for those atoms to bond together, speaks to Aquarius’ tendency to be concerned with community
the bonds that hold us together as fellow human animals, the link between the air of our intellect and the watery depths of our souls. And remember, these bonds don’t just form willy-nilly! Those atoms, just like Aquarius, are very selective about when and how they will join together. Once the bond has formed, though, the possibilities for movement and growth are endless.

Water is also one of the most unfamiliar, unrelatable realms to us humans who live on land. To live in the water takes a completely different kind of body than the ones we have. We may find ways to explore and learn about our oceans, rivers, lakes, swamps, etc., but we will never truly know what it is to live beneath that glassy barrier.

It is in this way that water is most often associated with our emotions, an aspect that is frequently called uniquely human,” though I would argue otherwise. Water is associated with emotions because they are the deepest parts of us, the parts beneath the surface that only you will ever truly know. Water is such an integral part of us that sometimes we exhibit our own human emotions by excreting salt water from our eyes. When our feelings overwhelm us and the air of our mind becomes heavy like a rain cloud, it is water that seeps out.

It is the inherent nature of water and air to move toward balance. Areas of high and low pressure air are constantly drawn to each other in a dance of harmony. Water will continue to flow until an equilibrium is reached. If you find a pool of water on the ground and are able to break the surrounding edge, it will move toward the opening, seeking level ground as if it has always been waiting for the opportunity move forward. And everywhere that water travels, it leaves in its wake the possibility of new life.

As we reflect on the stories of tears and Floods, we see that water shows us direction. Water can be free-flowing and rushing and forceful, but water can also be subtle and controlled. Air is the element that cannot be seen and the stories of personal relationships speak to the work of building community that takes place behind the scenes and under the surface. Aquarius reminds us that while our thoughts and emotions may feel overwhelming, like a Great Flood, their turbulent nature can be redirected in a purposeful way that promotes the best possible environment for growth and new beginnings.

Call on Aquarius When:

  • You are ready to shed the past way of doing/being/thinking
  • You want to call in a new reality, new possibility, new potential
  • You need to rebel, rock the boat, or stir up waters that have grown too stagnant.
  • You desire to foster and support your mental agility, wit, and inner brilliance.
  • You want to learn more/work with about advanced technologies of all kinds.
  • You’d like to support a new creation or invention.
  • You want to strengthen group dynamics, form a group for a specific purpose, and/or honor your community.
  • You are launching any kind of web or social media presence or generally working with computers and the web.
  • You need to color outside of the lines.
  • You are ready for a paradigm shift.
  • You desire to focus on the future and what is to come.
  • You want to marry intellect with deep emotions for a fuller experience.

Be Wary Of:

  • Stubbornness   Aquarius is an aerial sign and air is the element of flexibility but it is also a fixed sign meaning that it can get into its sense of what is right and what is wrong and become very unmovable
  • Being too scattered Aquarius has an incredible mind but does not always possess the follow through to see its brilliant thoughts implemented into practical actions.
  • Apparent aloofness I say apparent because Aquarius is not really aloof but their objectivity can sometimes make them seem that way.
  • Complete detachment from the past while the past carries much with it that does need to be shed, the past also carries important lessons. Aquarius should take care not to throw the baby of the past out with the bathwater.
  • Overly Political Aquarius is the sign and area of the chart where we are most likely to ignore or break an important relationship in the name of political differences or let a single cause take over the whole of our lives.

Questions to Ponder:

Aquarius shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Aquarius” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Aquarius occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • What parts of my past would I like to move beyond?
  • What new story and future potential do I want to step into?
  • What am I ready to invent?
  • What role(s) do I want to take on within my communities?
  • What is my relationship to technology and progress?
  • What political cause do I feel most strong about and what practical actions can I take to support it?
  • What inner brilliance is waiting to be unleashed?
  • Where do I need to rebel and buck the trends?

Active Imagination Journey:

Sit comfortably and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and listen to your breathing. Make each inhale and each exhale a little fuller and deeper than the last.

Feel your body slowly relaxing; feel each muscle letting go, your head; your chest; your arms and hands; your stomach; your hips, legs and feet; until all you are focused on is your breathing. Slowly in and slowly out.

See that you are walking on a sun-dappled path through a beautiful wood. It is dusk and quiet and still and peaceful. Notice your steps, your heartbeat, and your breath all in rhythm together.

The path begins to open up and you find yourself at the edge of the wood looking toward a smooth, glassy lake. There is short pier connecting the shore to the water and a small boat is tied at the end. Make your way to the edge of the lake and down the pier. You feel safe and peaceful here as you climb into the boat and remove its tether.

As soon as you are free from the pier a gentle breeze moves across your face and begins to carry you toward the center of the lake. You do not need to paddle and you trust that the spirit of the wind is taking you where you need to go. As you move across the lake you feel cradled in this boat, skimming slowly along the the mirrored surface, caressed by the delicate breeze. Allow the currents of the air and water to guide you in this vessel.

Your boat begins to slow as the winds recede and you are at the center of the lake. Close your eyes and sit for a few moments. Feel the subtle movements of the boat like a favorite rocking chair and the stillness of the air on your skin. Allow the rhythms of your body to fall in sync with the boat, the water, and the air.

Open your eyes and look over the edge of the boat at the surface of the water. It is perfectly smooth and you see your reflection crystal clear. Take a moment to stare into this watery mirror, looking yourself in the eyes. Acknowledge the miracle of your own life and ask your reflection what you need to let go of, what needs to change. As you ask this question, a gentle wind ripples across the water, distorting your reflection, turning the mirrored surface into a window through which you can see the parts of your past that no longer serve you. Observe this with no judgment. Like the gentle rocking of the boat, be gentle with yourself. Observe what you see and trust the truth of the water.

The water’s surface calms and returns to its perfectly smooth state. Look at your reflection again, now with the knowledge of what can be released. Acknowledge the miracle of your own life and ask your reflection to show your future self, the possibilities that will be open to you once you release the past. As you ask this question, a gentle wind ripples across the water, distorting your reflection, turning the mirrored surface into a window through which you can see all the potential available to you. Observe this with no judgment. Like the gentle rocking of the boat, be gentle with yourself. Observe what you see and trust the truth of the water.

The water’s surface calms and returns to its perfectly smooth state. Look at your reflection again and consider what the water has shown you what it can take away, where it can carry you, and your ability to call on its life-giving properties to create the future you desire.

Sit for a few moments and feel the subtle movements of the boat like a favorite rocking chair. Feel the air on your skin as a gentle breeze picks up again, slowly carrying your boat back toward the pier. You do not need to paddle and you trust the spirit of the wind. As you move across the lake you feel cradled in this boat, skimming slowly along the the mirrored surface, caressed by the delicate breeze. Allow the currents of the air and water to guide you back to shore.

Once you have reached the pier, step out of the boat and give yourself a moment to stand on the pier, looking out across the elegant, mysterious lake. Express your gratitude for the insights you’ve been given.

When you are ready, begin walking back on the sun-dappled path through the beautiful wood. It is dusk and quiet and still and peaceful. Notice your steps, your heartbeat and your breath all in rhythm together. Become aware of your presence in your physical body. Allow your mind to gently return to the present moment where you are sitting comfortably, listening to your breath.

When you feel ready, open your eyes.

 

Altar/Ritual:

Our ritual for Aquarius is going to be a bathing ritual in honor of all of that water.

You will need:
1 cup kosher salt
1 pinch of dried peppermint
1 pinch of dried lemongrass

1 pinch baking soda
3 whole black peppercorns
An incense that you love
Washed and clean clothes
(they don’t have to be new but they need to have been freshly washed)
Something from your past you would like to shed.
A future possibility you want to step into.
Combine the salt, herbs, baking soda, and peppercorns together. As you mix the ingredients focus and pray over what you are ready to let go of and what you are ready to step into moving forward. You may want to write both of these down in petition form.Run your bath and add the ingredients to the bathtub. You may add the ingredients loosely but do be aware that clean up might require more of you if you choose that route. You may also place the ingredients in a muslin bag and add that to the bathtub. If you only have a shower place the ingredients in a muslin bag and hang it on your shower nozzle so that the spray goes through the bag and then onto your body.

Set yourself up so that after your bath you have your incense ready to burn and you will be able to step through the smoke and then access your clean clothes.

Take your bath, allow yourself to focus on what you are ready to leave behind. See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel yourself dropping it into the water. Every time you run water over your body see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel how more of the old story is being dissolved, released, and shed.

When you are ready stand up and drain the bath. Affirm and acknowledge that as the water circles down the drain all that you have released is going into the deep earth where it can be transformed into something good and useful once more.

Standing naked, do not dry yourself off with a towel but let yourself air dry. Light the incense and when you are ready to step out of your past and into your future, walk through the sacred smoke.

Your clean clothes should be waiting on the other side, put them on and as you do so affirm and acknowledge that you are now fully inhabiting your new story, new possibility, you are calling in your future.

Say any words of thanksgivings and leave any offerings you like as a final act to this rite.

 

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Capricorn the Sea Goat

Divination and Dreams

W

inter Solstice is nigh and it is time to both dive deep and ascend the mountain with the one and only Capricorn, sometimes mistaken as a goat only but in reality a brilliant Sea Goat!

Capricorn is the 10th sign in the zodiacal wheel, attuned to the element of Earth, and is a cardinal sign ruled by Saturn. The Sun is in Capricorn from December 21st (Winter Solstice) through January 19th. Cardinal signs always represent leadership and the purest expression of certain virtues; for Capricorn and all of the Earth signs this is symbolized by its arrival in the depths of Winter (in the Northern hemisphere) and Summer (in the Southern).

 

CapricornSea Goat as Animal by: Sara Magnuson

What in the world is a Sea-Goat?! A mythical creature, like the Centaur we discussed in Sagittarius, the Sea-Goat is a combination of two very real animals Goat and Fish and we will visit the lives of both creatures as we continue with Capricorn. The combination of Goat and Fish initially speaks to us about adeptness on land and in water. The Sea-Goat will also show us its intelligence and ways of mischief, confidence, and creation.

Let’s begin on the land, with Goat. Closely related to Sheep, Goat is one of the oldest domesticated animals. They are herbivores, ruminant animals with a four-chambered stomach, and both sexes typically have two horns of varying sizes. Goat has excellent vision with the ability to detect a range of colors, levels of light and dark, and fantastic night vision. With eyes on either side of their head, they have a large field of view, but what stands out most about Goat’s eyes are their horizontal pupils. This makes their eyes look totally crazy to us, but many animals have pupils like this sheep, horse, octopus, and toad for example. The difference is that Goats often have light colored eyes, so the shape of the pupil stands out more than, say, the dark eyes of Horse. The advantage of horizontal pupils adds many degrees to their field of view and, as prey animals, they need to be able to see as much as possible.

As we perceive Goats, however, their crazy looking eyes often bring forth a negative connotation, but that isn’t the case at all. What seems to others as something weird and different and possibly bad actually serves a great purpose for Goat and its survival. Goat goes about its business not caring that it looks all crazy because what it has going for it is working. As Capricorn, this exemplifies the ways you may appear to others that aren’t necessarily true and asks you to listen to the inner part of yourself that doesn’t care what other people think.

There is a myth that Goats will eat anything and everything, which is plainly false. Goat is not a grazer as many think, but rather a forager and browser. They are extraordinarily curious creatures and, since they don’t have hands, they touch” things with their lips. It may appear that Goat is eating a box or a tin can, but it’s really just checking it out like a baby that puts everything in its mouth to not only feel it, but to taste and smell it, feel its texture. As far as what they actually eat, it turns out they are quite picky, preferring woody bits from specific vines, shrubs, and low-growing trees.

The agile curiosity of Goat gives Capricorn an ability to explore without fear. Curiosity outweighs guidelines and rules every time in the world of Goat. This adventurous nature means that Capricorn can do things that others don’t expect you to be able to do and your unseen talents can give an advantage in many situations.

The world of Goat is ruled by the seasons and their time of breeding is determined by the length of daylight. Most Goats breed in the Spring and Summer, but in equatorial areas, where there are long and consistent hours of daylight, they can breed year round. Male Goats are called bucks, females are called does, and both exhibit distinct behaviors when it’s breeding season. The does wag their tails constantly and stay near the bucks, while the males will curl their lips and show an obsessive interest in the females. Births are almost always twins and the mother often eats the placenta afterwards. For Goat, and many animals, this is an instinct that avoids attracting predators with the scent of birth and provides much needed nutrients after all the energy expended.

The sexual and birthing behaviors of Goat bring out the creator aspect of Capricorn. For the Sea-Goat, creating is a sensual experience felt with the mind, body, and emotions. This inclination means you can become obsessive in romance and in things/projects you love. Be mindful of how much you are trying to control or how much energy you are expending. As Goat’s breeding season is related to the duration of light, so does Capricorn work best in the liminal times and spaces, like the winter solstice it begins with.

Lastly, we must acknowledge Goat’s long relationship with humans and the impact we have had on each other. Evidence suggests that Goats were domesticated over 9000 years ago and they also have a fairly long lifespan (up to 18 years). This means that Goat’s connection with humans has evolved over millennia of generations; so much so that domesticated Goats will seek out a human when faced with a problem they cannot solve, much as a Dog would do. Goats are loosely-based herd animals, in that they prefer the company of other creatures.

When out on their own, however (and much like humans), they tend to act more independently of each other and only stay close enough to communicate danger. To most peoples of the world, Goat is seen as a renewable resource. They are used to clear land of weeds and undergrowth; as farm labor to pull things; as a sacrifice to Gods and Spirits; as a source of meat, milk, hair, hide, and horns; even their dung, bones, and muscle sinew have been used throughout history for fuel, tools, and clothing, respectively. Every part of Goat is used for something and in this way it is seen as a clean” animal in many cultures and religions. Although there is a deep and strong relationship with humans, Goat’s curiosity is constantly calling back to its wild nature. Goat is one of few domesticated animals that, if given the chance, will easily revert to a feral life.

The relationship between Goat and people evokes its mysterious nature. The Sea-Goat is smart, can follow directions, and make decisions based on witnessed or personal experience, while also maintaining a wild, instinctual, freedom-oriented attitude.

We cannot end our discussion here without, of course, addressing Fish, the other half of Capricorn. It is the tail part of the Sea-Goat that is represented by Fish and speaks to the part of Capricorn that is adept in the realm of emotions and undercurrents.

First of all, what is a Fish? In the most basic sense, they are animals that live in the water, have gills, a skull, and lack limbs with digits (fingers and toes). We’ll talk about Fish in much more detail when we get to Pisces, but for now let’s talk tails. The sole purpose of a Fish’s tail is to help it swim. It is an appendage that has become uniquely adapted to its life in the realm of water, providing propulsion, mobility, and directionality.

Fish as the tail portion of the Sea-Goat reminds us of the relationship between water and earth and is what keeps Capricorn from getting swept away by its curiosity. The tail provides the power needed not only to move in a particular direction, but in a purposeful way. There is also a sexual aspect to water, as it arouses the idea of creativity and reminds us that life formed from water and earth. Water can be tamed and fenced in, but can also eventually overpower and go where it wants to go. Thus Capricorn is not about aggression, but rather diligence, being unrelenting, pushing at the edges until it breaks way.

The tail of Capricorn in the water speaks about our base, our history, where we come from. In melding with Goat on the land, Capricorn represents the evolution of imagination, practical desire, and ingenuity from the primordial waters to the vibrant, leaping terrain.

 

CapricornSea Goat as Capricorn by: Briana Saussy

Represented by the Sea Goat a mythic creature depicted as having the torso and upper body of a goat and from the waist down the tail of a fish Capricorn borrows its iconic form from very old Gods with very old stories, appropriate for the sign that is ruled by Saturn also known as the Lord of Time.

Unlike other modern star signs, the tale of Capricorn begins not in Ancient Greece but much earlier in the Middle Bronze age. Although it is one of the smallest and dimmest constellations it has been consistently observed and honored throughout the Middle East and it was only later that its lore and significance moved into Greece and after that Rome. We know this in part because this sign was recorded in the Babylonian star catalogues as the goat fish” before 1000 BCE in connection with the great Sumerian God Enki, known as Ea in Babylon.

Enki is the God who brought magic, culture, art, healing, and fertility to all of the land and was likened to a rushing river or spring gushing out from the earth both images that researchers believe speak to his sexual virility and procreative instincts. As a major God, Enki had many symbols and images attached to his name but one of the oldest is the half goat and half fish symbol that has long been associated with Capricorn.

In this, Capricorn mirrors the sign before it, Sagittarius, where the two animals that are fused together are man and horse in the form of the Centaur. There is a mystery to this oldest of old fusion of goat and fish that scholars and experts in the fields of ancient Sumer and Babylon still do not fully understand. The best guess is that the goat and fish are both animals that have long been associated with sexuality, fertility, and mystery.

Let’s pause here and take stock of some of the themes we see emerging already in the earliest stories of this sign. As noted, there is an ancient quality to Capricorn and often people who have a strong Capricorn presence in their chart are described as old souls.” At the very least Capricorns often look older than they really are (especially as children) and they have a mature presence from an earlier point in their lives. Because it is Saturn-ruled (Chronos in the Greek stories), Capricorn is very aware of the passing of time. This awareness can lead to intense pressure to do/be more especially in the areas of work and career but/and what it is really focused on is legacy-building; Capricorn speaks to the part of us that wants to create something that can last through time.

Although some astrologers incorrectly identify Capricorn as only a goat instead of a sea goat, or present it as though one has a choice: to be a goat or a sea goat, the mythic tales surrounding the zodiac sign are very clear that Capricorn has always been the sea goat. This mysterious symbol and fusion of two unlikely animals speaks to another essential aspect of Capricorn: what you see on the surface is often not the best indication of what is going on inside. The inner life of Capricorn (like the inner life of all of the Earth signs) is often more vivid, dreamlike, and magical than their outer, practically directed actions would let on.

The most well-known attributes of Capricorn deal with its ability to go through struggle or competition and come out a winner, endure through tough times, and find incredible success in their work and professional lives; to understand where these qualities come from we need to learn the stories from a different set of characters.

Turning to the Greek version of the tale, it is like most of our star stories, one born out of immortal struggle. In this case the struggle is between a great beast known as Typhon and the God Pan. Typhon was a monster born from the union of Gaia (Earth) and Tartarus (the Underworld) according to Hesiod. Later tales claim that Typhon was born from Hera as a result of a rage she felt towards Zeus when he gave birth to Athena by himself. Both versions agree that Typhon was a creature born to wreak havoc on the younger Olympian Gods with a specific eye towards destroying Zeus. Typhon’s birth therefore can be interpreted as the vengeance of Chronos, Father Time, who devoured all of his children but Zeus and was later overthrown by his lone surviving son.

Typhon is described in ancient sources as having the body of a man but having hundreds of snakes emerging from his head and in some cases his thighs and/or feet as well. The snakes were all poisonous vipers, of course, who not only could kill by striking but actually spit their venom out onto their victims. Typhon was said to be able to breathe fire and also possess wings that allowed for flight. He was incredibly strong and powerful and had God-like powers over various elements.

As the story goes, Typhon challenged Zeus for power over the entire Cosmos and the struggle was epic. During that struggle Zeus enlisted the aid of the God Pan to play his panpipes (or in some versions have one of his devotees play his pipes) and lull Typhon to calmness. Pan did this and Typhon was so pleased that he offered Pan any Goddess he might want (besides Hera) for a wife. Pan tricked Typhon into returning the leg sinews he had taken from Zeus (thus crippling the God) by telling him that he would play even sweeter music on the lyre if only he could string it with said sinews. Once Typhon brought the sinews to Pan, Pan gave them back to Zeus, restoring him to health and allowing Zeus to ultimately defeat Typhon. In a rage Typhon attacked Pan who was able to transform the lower half of his body into a fish and swim away from the ravening beast, becoming the constellation Capricorn as he did so.

In the Greek story we see the elements of struggle, competition, and victory that are so commonly attributed to this sign. While the struggle for Capricorn is often described as one of getting ahead,” looking at the tale we see something different: the struggle is against a foe that would bring death and destruction to the entire natural world; the struggle is against a chaotic disorder. Capricorn is willing to engage in struggle and competition, with Saturn/Chronos as their ruling planet they have no expectations that things are going to be easy but that they have to work for whatever it is that they want. The loss and then return of Zeus’ leg ligaments is interesting because Capricorn has long been associated with the legs and specifically knees of the physical body with the mythic understanding that they utilize this part of the body to climb up their proverbial mountain.

Goats stand their ground, they do not go with the herd nearly as easily as say, sheep, they are notorious for being stubborn, and they are decidedly masculine in mythic representation. Goats are also one of the first animals that humans domesticated and yet they will revert back to a feral state more easily and quickly than any other modern domesticated animal this may be where the wild attributes that are given to goats and the goat-god Pan come from.

Fish, on the other hand are mysterious, dwelling in a world apart from our own, they are most often aligned with the feminine, and stories from ancient India to Wales give fishes a starring role when it comes to acquiring wisdom. The goat fish combination we see with Capricorn gives tell to the signs ability to win victories in unexpected and unpredictable ways, to transcend by bringing the most unlikely parts of themselves together in unison. The goatfish is Capricorn as the wise visionary who sees far beyond and ahead what is usually expected; it is the brilliant strategist who knows not just how to win but why winning matters.

Finally, Capricorn is the sign of the craftsman, it is the sign to call on wherever and whenever there is a need for mastery. Where is this depicted in the story? Think back to the way that Pan captured Typhon in the first place. He did so by applying his craft (music) in a most excellent way. Pan’s playing was so beautiful and entrancing that it stopped a force of chaos, disorder, and destruction right in its tracks. This gives us a final clue about the mystery of Capricorn: while struggle and competition are part of the story, the ultimate win comes from doing one’s work and calling upon one’s talent to create beauty and mastery that in turn lead to success.

 

Call on Capricorn When:

  • You want more mature, wise, insight into a situation.
  • You are working with the theme of legacy: what you will do now that outlasts you once you have died.
  • You need to focus on your career or professional path, including finding the right job and excelling in your profession.
  • You are looking to gain mastery in a specific area.
  • You need to develop a solid strategy for dealing with a difficult situation/person.
  • You are entering into any kind of competition from sports to business to affairs of the heart.
  • You want to win.
  • You need to be 10-20 steps ahead of your competitors for a given project.
  • You are ready to get real and deal with reality.
  • You need to be able to keep going and endure through a difficult time.
  • You want more solid structure and organization.
  • You are ready to ascend to the heights of the mountain and dive into the depths of the sea.

 

Be Wary Of:

  • Bossiness – From one cardinal sign to another let’s just put it out there Capricorn can be bossy and dominating AND intimidating.
  • Being a hammer When all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. The Capricorn version of this is that everything can start to look like a struggle, everything can start to look harder and difficult even when its really not.
  • Being too competitive When Capricorn’s competitive nature gets in the way of the ability to collaborate; when MY win becomes more important than OUR win, then it is time to reassess.
  • Being under pressure Saturn-ruled Capricorn brings intensity to any situation but most especially to themselves, often putting themselves under immense pressure and usually more than is needed.
  • Work-a-holism Work is a way of life for Capricorn and a Cappy who has work they love is happy; but it is very easy for this sign to work, work, and work some more and forget to have fun and play.

 

Questions to Ponder for Capricorn:

  • What ancient wisdom do I have immediate and natural access to?
  • What am I competing for?
  • What signifies victory to me?
  • Where in my life am I most seeking excellence and mastery?
  • What would happen if I struggled less?
  • What domesticated part of me would like to be wild once more?
  • What wild part of me needs a bit more domestication?
  • What am I willing to make time for?
  • What legacy am I creating?

 

Active Imagination Journey:

Cultivate Calmness.

Ground, Center, and Anchor in the ways that feel good and right to you.
See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are standing at the base of a great mountain. 
Affirm and acknowledge that you have come to this place at this time to learn a new teaching about your life, one that is gifted to you from the stars, you have come to encounter the Sea Goat.
Acknowledge that it does not matter where Capricorn occurs in your chart or whether you were born under this Sun sign or not we all have this constellation present in some portion of our natal chart.
As you are ready, look straight up at the great peak before you.
See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that a path of ascent has been illuminated for you and at the pinnacle of the peak is a dim but intense glow. This glow comes from the small but mighty constellation of Capricorn, which waits for you at the top of the peak. If you are ready to learn what it has to teach then begin your ascent. Climb up.
Climb up. Climb up. Climb up.
You are ascending higher now and the air grows cooler and thinner and so you continue to climb.
Climb up. Climb up. Climb up.
At this point your legs and arms begin to tremble with effort and your knees are sore. And still, the glow is brighter now and the peak is within your grasp so you continue your ascent.
Climb up. Climb up. Climb up.
Up, higher and higher until you reach the peak of the mountain.
See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are now standing directly underneath the starry constellation and it covers the mountain top in a soft light. Standing up here, acknowledge that the wind is cold but your vision is sharper and you can see the lay of the land.
See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that the lay of the land you look upon has a special message to give you regarding your legacy, the work you have created and are creating that will last once you have gone.
Witness what there is, listen and feel into what there could yet be.
As you are ready, turn around so that you are looking over the opposite side of the peak. See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel a soft steam rising up from its crevices. Approach the steam and as you do affirm and acknowledge that you have actually found a hidden hot spring, one that would feel so good and soothing to your sore and tired muscles.
See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that there is a figure within the spring, one that at first appears to be a goat but, that, right underneath the bubbling waters has the opalescent fins of a fish. This guardian of Capricorn holds out a cornucopia to you filled with the sweetest fruits and savories.
Affirm and acknowledge that these gifts are here for you, partake in them and as you do so ask what they tell you of your legacy.
Give yourself time to truly listen and enjoy.
When you are ready to depart allow yourself a few final moments to say goodbye and to agree to any promises, oaths, or exchanges that you can in good faith make.
Breathe in a blessing on your body and as you exhale bring your awareness back to the room that you are in. Feel the weight of the air upon your skin and allow yourself to stretch and move in any ways that feel good and nourishing to you.
As a final act, note what the teaching from Capricorn was to and for you.
Now, choose three PRACTICAL actions to bring that teaching fully into your life here and now.

Altar and Ritual:

In this series, Animalia Stellarum, the active imagination journey/meditation and the altar/ritual work are not usually dependent on each other; that is, you could do one, or the other, or both, and in any order. For Capricorn, however, I advise that you do the above active imagination journey before beginning this altar and ritual work.

{You will need: 3 pieces of paper, a pen, a white candle, a small bowl of water, a small bowl of earth/dirt; optional oils and herbs}

Visit with the Sea Goat first (see above).

Note what teachings Capricorn has for you.

Choose three practical actions to bring that teaching fully into your life here and now.

Immediately following this meditation, go bathe yourself. It can be a stand-up shower or a sit-down bath; whatever you prefer. You don’t need any special washes or ingredients. Just bathe yourself as you normally would.

As the steam fills the room and you feel the water on your skin, close your eyes and remember your visit with the Sea Goat. Imagine that you are in the same beautiful hot spring, bathing in its splendor. Reflect on all that you learned there. When you are done, dry off like you normally would and put on clean clothing.

Next, get three pieces of paper, whatever kind feels right to you. On each paper write down one of the practical actions you arrived at from the active imagination journey. Fold up each paper until you can’t fold it any more. If you use anointing oils or powders, now would be the time to dab each paper with the appropriate mixture. You can also fold herbs that support your goal into the center of each paper, creating a packet.

At your altar or sacred space, place a bowl of water, a bowl of earth/dirt, and a white candle. Arrange them however you see fit. Light the white candle and place the three folded papers around it. Close your eyes and remember your visit with Sea Goat. Honor its presence in your life and focus on achieving the three practical actions. Ask Sea Goat to help you see the way.

Take as long as you need. You can sit with the candle or you can leave when you feel ready, but let the candle burn completely. If you leave the candle alone, please observe common sense fire safety. After the candle has burned down, collect the papers, the bowls of earth and water, and any remnants of the candle. Wrap them in a cloth, put them in a box, but keep them all together.

As soon as you are able to after doing this altar work, bring the items from your altar and go to a place where the water meets the land. It should also be a body of water that is safe to step into. The ocean, a lake, a river, a creek, or a small stream.

Holding the items from your altar, sit on the edge or wade in a bit as you feel comfortable, not going deeper than your thighs. If it is absolutely impossible for you to get to a clean, natural body of water, go to a pool or fill your bathtub and sit on the edge with just your feet/legs in the water.

Make sure that you are comfortable. Make sure you feel stable standing in the water or sitting at its edge.

Feel your feet in the water and think about the ancient wisdom accessible to you through these currents. Think about where this water came from and where it may go next, creating life all along the way. (Even the water from a pool or bathtub has come from someplace and will flow to another.)

Feel your torso in the air or your rear end sitting on the surface, grounded by the land. Feel your connection to the sky, the mountains, and all that exists above the water.

Allow the soft and gentle movements of the water to ripple through your body. Allow the vibrations of the water to transform as they pass through your core and move up and out of your arms, hands, and head onto the land.

Focus on your three practical actions and allow the currents of water and land to become one within your spirit. When you feel ready, release the items from your altar into the water* pour out the bowls of water and earth, let the papers float away, watch the candle remnants drift toward the bottom.

*if you have completed this water/land ritual at the edge of a pool or bathtub, take the items from your altar outside and bury them in the ground, just as you would let them go in the water.

Offer your deepest gratitude to the Spirit of the Sea Goat and head home feeling invigorated and inspired. Over the next several days or weeks, note your progress on the practical actions you set forth in this ritual.

About My Co-Author:

Sara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

 

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Sagittarius the Centaur

Divination and Dreams

W

e continue our jaunt through the Stars and their Earthly inspirations by considering the next sign, Sagittarius.

Sagittarius is the 9th sign in the zodiacal wheel, attuned to the element of Fire, and is a mutable sign. The Sun is in Sagittarius from November 21st through December 21st. Mutable signs always mark transition points in time and Sagittarius is no exception as it marks the turning from deep Autumn into early Winter. Represented by the Centaur – a mythic creature depicted as having the torso and upper body of a man and the hindquarters of a horse – Sagittarius is a sign of contradictions. Like its real life horse counterpart, no matter what else Sagittarius may be up to you will find that they are both social and highly sensitive, intelligent in mind and in body.

Sagittarius ConstellationCentaur as Sagittarius: By Briana Saussy

Sagittarius, like its opposing sign of Gemini, has two distinct natures and these are reflected in its stories. The constellation that is sometimes simply known as “the archer” is widely agreed upon to be a centaur, a so-called mythic being that is half man and half horse and a being that in actuality expresses the beauty and power of natural horsemen and horsewomen, human beings who are especially gifted at riding upon, hunting from, and working with horses.

If you have been privileged to know such a person and watch them ride, then it is very clear where the image of the centaur came from – for there are some people who seem so at home upon a horse that they themselves become part of the horse and the horse becomes part of them. You can see how, even before we get into the myths proper, there is a dual nature within this sign so let us explore that more in depth now.

The confusion begins with a name. Specifically the story of Sagittarius is connected to two names. The first is Chiron. Known to astrologers for the asteroid that bears his title, in the ancient world Chiron was the best-known and best beloved of the Centaurs. Because of his divine parentage (no less than Zeus was his father) and his initial teachers Apollo and Artemis, he was markedly different than the other centaurs whose natures closely resembled that of the Satyrs (we will return to this but for now just make a note).

Centaur for SagittariusWhereas most Centaurs were rowdy, lascivious, wild, and rambunctious; Chiron was serious, wise, a remarkably gifted healer and astrologer, and was best known as a teacher to some of the most famous names in the Greek pantheon including Jason (of the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece fame), Peleus (the father of Achilles), Achilles (of the Trojan War), Perseus (the hero who defeated the gorgon Medusa), Asclepius (the most gifted of the ancient healers), Heracles (also known as Hercules the strongest man), Theseus (who defeated the Minotaur) and Ajax.

Chiron taught skills of horsemanship (obviously), taking aim and hunting successfully, sports and games, arbitration (one of his most famous rules was to never decide until both sides of an argument have been heard), astrology, and healing among many other subjects. Chiron is known as the “wounded healer” because he obtained a wound that he refused to heal.

He was shot with an arrow that had been tipped with a lethal poison. Some versions claim that one of Chiron’s students, usually Heracles, committed the act, and most tellings agree that the poison the arrow had been tipped in was one that could be used for healing and that Chiron had actually taught his students to make the concoction. He is the wounded healer because though he was immortal, Chiron’s decision to not heal his own wound allowed another famous figure, Prometheus, to gain freedom from his eternal punishment of being chained to a cliff and having a vulture peck out his liver, every single day, a sentence he was given for the crime of giving mortals the gift of fire. When Chiron willingly sacrificed himself and took Prometheus’ place the Gods were so impressed that they allowed him to ascend to the heavens and become the constellation Sagittarius, or did they?

Some of the tales claim that when Chiron ascended into the heavens he became the constellation Centaurus and then there are the stories that connect the star sign of Sagittarius to an entirely different name, that of the Satyr Crotus, the son of Pan.

A Satyr can sometimes be confused with a Centaur but where Centaurs have the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse, Satyrs are most commonly depicted in ancient art as having the body of a man with the hooves, tail, and beard, and sometimes ears or other features, of a goat. In some depictions they are a mix of both horse and goat which is interesting from an astro angle seeing as the zodiac sign next to Sagittarius is Capricorn, also known as the goat.

If Centaurs were known for being wild and lascivious, Satyrs were seen as positively raunchy. They were followers of both Pan and the God of Wine Dionysus and are ithyphallic (with penis always erect) in most artistic depictions. Satyrs call to mind the wild, unchecked, sexual urge. They also served a religious function during the ancient holy days very similar to what we might think of as Trickster. Their ribald jokes, sexual erections, and apparent inability to hold their liquor all made them seem absurd and ridiculous; but they were disciples of Dionysus and as such were honored during the major feast days through sacred drama. What we often think of as the Greek tragedies were plays compose for religious festivals honoring Dionysus. Before the three main tragic plays were performed the roads would be opened with a Satyr play – a shorter, humorous, performance that both poked fun of and celebrated the simple pleasures of life: good good, good drink, good sex, and joy.

Back to Sagittarius’ other source: Crotus was one of the better known Satyrs and was most beloved by the Muses. He is credited with inventing archery and the art of hunting animals. Crotus lived with the Muses (Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, Erato, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania) who oversaw various art forms and it is they who requested that he ascend to the stars as the sign of Sagittarius because he invented applause to thank them and celebrate their brilliance.

So let’s pull this all together. We have two radically different potential sources for the sign of Sagittarius. Strong voices in our culture would tell us that we have to pick one or the other story in order to really get Sagittarius but we know better, we will come to understand the sign best through both tales for Sagittarius is both the wise healer and the vibrant Trickster.

When we get to know Sagittarius in our own charts and among our friends and family members it all becomes clear. Both Crotus and Chiron are at play here. In Sagittarius’ love of being outdoors, typically casual attitudes towards relationships, love, and sex, and love of a good time and party (remember the sign is also Jupiter ruled) we see the Satyr Crotus and son of Pan showing up. Sagittarius is known as the free spirit of the zodiac and if that doesn’t sound Satyr-like I am not sure what does! And yet there is more to the story. For Sagittarius is also the sign and sector of the chart that rules religion, philosophy, and teaching, and truth-telling. In these areas we see the influence of the beloved teacher Chiron. We also see the aspect of the wounded healer and can read that as part of the stellar narrative – the wound is received/discovered in Scorpio and then with Sagittarius as our guide we learn the ways of wisdom and the wild that allow for the healing process to begin.

How do we start that healing process?

With Sagittarius, the Centaur, Satyr, and Horse as our guides the answer is simple: saddle up and take aim at what matters most.

 SagittariusCentaur As Animal: By Sara Magnuson

We have learned that the Centaur is a creature of two types, typically Man and Horse, but what does that mean? What is it like to be part Horse and how can that be unified with the nature of Humans? To contemplate what it means to be as-one with this magnificent creature we must try to understand their physicality and senses, their intelligence and intuitive abilities.

Belonging to the family Equidae, which dates to over 50 million years ago (mya), Horses as we know them look very different from their ancient relatives. Of the genus Equus, Horses, Zebras, and Donkeys are the only still-living relatives of the Equidae family. What we recognize fully as Horse today originated in North America about 4 mya and migrated across land-bridges to Eurasia, only to eventually circle back to North America. The last prehistoric North American Horses, the true “Wild Horses,” died out about 10,000 years ago, but by then they had spread across the globe. The Horses that roam our country today are actually feral Horses brought to North America in the early 1500s by the Spanish. They have been left to run wild and free for centuries, creating their own free-ranging herds.

Horse is an intuitive, sensitive creature, as it must be to meld with the human form, but before we get into that let’s get a picture of their physical nature. Horse can live up to 30 years and is of great stature – measuring 4-6 ft tall, not including the neck and head, and weighing between 800 to over 2000 lbs with more than 60% of their body mass being muscle. Horse’s body temperature runs hotter than ours and their hearts beat much slower. As big and strong as Horse seems to us humans, in the animal world they are considered prey and their senses reflect that.

Horse has the largest eyes of any currently living land mammal, one on each side of their head giving them almost 360° vision, yet overall their vision is only slightly better than humans. Their big eyes give them the advantage of detecting the smallest of movements; a much needed impression for a prey animal. Being red-green color blind, they are good at seeing greens and blues, which is an advantage to an herbivore like Horse. Horse’s sense of taste is highly attuned and their tongue can identify toxic plants, as well as distinguish between sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Closely connected to taste, their ability to smell is average, but they possess the Jacobson’s Organ (humans do not) that allows them to detect pheromones. Horse has excellent hearing with each of their two ears being able to rotate independently up to 180°. These sensitive beings can hear ultrasonic frequencies (think Bats) as well as very low frequencies such as the low growls of a predator or the rumbling of another herd moving in Horse’s direction. The ability to detect poisonous plants and the pheromones of other creatures, the possession of radar-like hearing, and a highly acute visual sensitivity to movement are adaptations that have allowed a prey animal like Horse to survive for millennia.

The body of Horse is extremely delicate and responsive. Covered with hair, Horse is so sensitive that they can feel a fly on just one strand. Imagine the sensitivity of your fingertips, but all over your whole body. The manes and tails of Horse have been (and still are) used for a myriad of things – from pottery and jewelry to fabrics and brushes to weaponry and musical instruments. Horse also makes a variety of sounds, each labeled with unique terminology – whinnying, neighing, nickering, squealing, groaning, blowing, snorting, etc. Through body language and their senses of touch and sound, Horse communicates their moods and preferences to each other, as well as to other animals, including humans.

Left to their own natural ways, Horse is a highly social herd animal that doesn’t like to be isolated. There’s a pecking order within the ranks of a herd and smaller bands are formed comprised of one adult male stallion, several females (with a dominant mare), and their offspring. The dominant mare of the whole herd knows where all the good resources are, like food and water, and oversees the daily routine of the group while keeping the general peace. The stallion stays on the edges marking territory, offering protection, and “herding the herd” together. Domesticated Horses often live in herds that have been formed artificially by owners and breeders (or no herd at all) so these natural relationships and behaviors can exhibit a great deal of variation.

While domestication can be controversial, it is what brings Horse in to union with Man. An exact date is unknown for the taming and training of Horse, but evidence suggests this relationship began at least 5000 years ago. Horse’s first function with humans was to provide work-labor and transportation, which was crucial in the development of civilizations and agriculture. Once this dynamic was established Horse became an integral part of various aspects of human life. No longer used solely for pulling plows or chariots, Horse’s skills became an asset in wars, sports, products, entertainment, and even therapy.

As Briana mentioned at the beginning, those humans that have learned how to communicate and synchronize their bodies with Horse show us that we do not simply control Horse; there has been a process of adaptation and learning on the part of Man as well. You can’t just jump on any old Horse and start riding around like you own the place. Horse allows you to ride and it is at Horse’s discretion to deny you this privilege. In our modern world, we have made it so that we primarily see only the well-behaved side of Horse (the teacher/Chiron side, if you will), putting them to work doing what they are skilled at. But just like humans, Horses are emotional, social, curious, playful animals (the Satyr side) that form companionship attachments with other creatures. Serious horse riders know that tending to the emotional/social connection is the only way to have a healthy relationship based on mutual respect. Horse must have trust and faith in its rider and the rider must do the same. If one or the other exerts too much control or behaves negatively, both feel the consequences and the dynamic is damaged. Horses and Humans have many of the same needs and so it makes sense that these two animals can so easily merge into one magnificent, exalted creature like the Centaur.

Call on Sagittarius When:

  • You need to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
  • You are considering teaching as a profession or part of your work in the world.
  • You want to continue your education – especially higher education.
  • You need to adopt a more detached and objective attitude towards matters of the heart.
  • You are have an adventure, especially those that take place outside.
  • You need to learn something deeply and weave it into your philosophy of life.
  • You are ready to have a party!
  • You need to connect with the Wild.
  • You are ready to pursue wisdom.
  • You want more spiritual and/or religious devotion in your life.
  • You need more freedom.
  • You are ready to take aim.

Be Wary Of:

  • Flakiness – Sagittarius can sometimes be too easy-going and forget about previous commitments and schedules.
  • Rigidity – when coming from the place of truth-teller and religious disciple Sagittarius can be extremely fixed on their understanding of all that is right, wrong, and in-between.
  • Commitment phobia – Freedom is THE key theme for Sagittarius so anything or anyone too clingy will get the boot.
  • Over-indulgence – Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius has a hard time knowing when enough is enough sometimes can go overboard.
  • Emotional aloofness – Sagittarius loves relating to people but sometimes can hold issues that some find very triggering in a completely objective, overly mental, manner that does not sit well with others.

Questions to Ponder:

Sagittarius shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Sagittarius” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Sagittarius occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • Where am I naturally gifted at healing myself and/or others?
  • What is my relationship to all that is wild and untamed – what has it taught/continues to teach me?
  • What does freedom mean to me? Where do I feel free? Where do I feel trapped?
  • What is my relationship to play and seriousness?
  • What would I most like to celebrate?
  • What am I ready to learn?
  • What am I ready to teach?
  • What is wisdom for me and where do I find it?

Active Imagination Journey:

The mythology of Centaur is based on the reality of expert horse riders; men and women who moved so harmoniously with Horse that they gave the impression of a single unified being. Those with the gift of horsemanship are seen as wise and powerful because they can work intuitively and cooperatively with the elements of freedom and wildness. This meditation will allow you to encounter Horse and ask for its guidance in exploring the untamed places where we are perceptive, powerful, truthful, wild, and liberated.

Sit comfortably and take a deep breath.

Close your eyes and listen to your breathing. Make each inhale and each exhale a little fuller and deeper than the last.

Feel your body slowly relaxing; feel each muscle letting go, your head; your chest; your arms and hands; your stomach; your hips, legs and feet; until all you are focused on is your breathing. Slowly in and slowly out.

See that you are walking on a smooth dirt path that is taking you through fields of green grass, as far as you can see. It is dusk and you are heading North. It is quiet and still and peaceful. Notice your steps, your heartbeat and your breath all in rhythm together.

The path curves and you see that the trees have grown together to form an archway above the path. As you approach, pause and take a deep breath. Feel any fear or worry leave your body and pass through the archway feeling strong and unafraid of what lies beyond.

You find yourself at the center of a four-way crossroads. Stand calmly in the center of the crossroads and feel the beauty of this sacred and powerful place. Feel that this is the center of all things. The place where all possibilities meet. Take a deep breath and feel at one with the Great Mystery.

Standing in the center of the crossroads, you are facing North, with the East to your right and the West to your left. Turn around to focus your attention behind you, to the South. You see that this path leads into a beautiful, warm, painted desert. You can feel the sun on your face and know that this is the womb of the element of Fire. Although it may feel wild and untamed, you are drawn to the heat and begin walking down this path into the unknown desert.

The sights, sounds, and smells are tangible to you now. Breath in the aromas, feel the air of the place on your skin. Listen to the sounds of life here. Look carefully around you and observe closely your immediate surroundings. Introduce yourself to this place. Convey that you are here as a caretaker and a protector. Spend some time here, walk around, explore what’s right around you, and get to know what’s here.

Find a spot that looks inviting to you and sit down. As you sit, notice how relaxed and at ease you feel in this setting; notice how comfortable it is to be in this spot, right now; notice how much you care about this space and all its inhabitants. Breathe deeply. Listen.

You hear something moving nearby and look slowly toward the sound. A noble, glorious Horse emerges before you. Greet the animal and sit very still. Focus on the calm rhythmic beating of your heart and take slow breaths. Allow Horse to circle you, smell you, sense you. After a time, and in a slow gentle motion, reach out to put your hand on Horse’s body and it moves closer to you in agreement. Notice how it feels, how it smells, what it sounds and looks like. Sit together for a moment in silence.

Convey to Horse that you are here as a friend and an ally. Ask respectfully for its guidance and promise to be trustworthy. Tell Horse that you are open to learning new ways and are ready to explore the uncharted territories within. Open your soul and listen to what Horse has to share with you.

When you are ready, thank Horse for its wisdom and generosity. Assure it that you will carry its traits and lessons proudly and with honor. Remember that you can always return to this place again. Wish Horse a safe and joyful life as it returns from where it came. Remain seated in this place for a moment and reflect on your encounter. Think about how you will carry this knowledge with you.

Slowly stand up and see the path that will lead you back to the center of the crossroads. As you reach the center, notice your breath and pause here to center yourself in your new-found wisdom. Face the threshold of the crossroads with a new understanding and sense of purpose. Take a long deep breath

When you are ready to return, the archway of trees and the path you originally walked opens before you. Follow it, going back the way you came, through fields of green grass as far as you can see. As you walk, you are aware of your steps, your heartbeat and your breath in rhythm together. Become aware of your presence in your physical body. Allow your mind to gently return to the present moment where you are sitting comfortably, listening to your breath. When you feel ready, open your eyes.

 

Altar and Ritual:

In honor of easy-breezy Sagittarius this is a pretty straightforward and simple ritual.

Begin by contemplating what you really need to aim for and at right now – what requires your undivided attention and focus, what have you been afraid of pursuing full out even though you know you need to

Got it?

Write it down. It can be a word, a phrase, or a 10 page letter – totally up to you.

As you write include what obstacle(s) have kept you from aiming true in this endeavor.

For now just note them, call up the Sagittarius objectivity and don’t get down on yourself or judge, just notice.

Now, with your petition in hand, go out into the natural world somewhere wild. Go somewhere where once upon a time great herds of horses ran over the ground with their manes flying behind them. This might be a park in the middle of a concrete city, it might be an arboretum or in the middle of a beloved wood.

Bring an offering.

You can bring whatever you like but knowing Centaurs and Satyrs as I do I would recommend some or all of the following: figs, honey, cream, goat cheese, good red wine, and sage.

Bring a spade and a container to hold a small amount of earth in.

Walk around until you find the just right place.

Say a blessing to and for all that is wild and free and offer up the goods you have brought.

Ask for permission to scoop up a bit of good earth so that you may apply the knowing of the wild to the wisdom you need in taking proper aim.

Once you have received permission scoop up a small amount of soil.

Conclude with any final offerings and thanksgivings.

Carry your earth back home and place it on a plate or bowl in your working space.

Set a candle in the center of this sacred earth, I recommend orange if you work with colors, otherwise white or natural beeswax work great.

Anoint the candle in any way that you like, affirming and acknowledging that this candle is opening the road so that the wisdom of the wild can be applied to the obstacle(s) that keep you from taking true aim at what matters most.

Choose a number of days to perform this ceremony – it can be 3, 7, or 14 depending on the obstacles you are dealing with – how big they are and how many there are.

Divide your candle into the appropriate sections – you can do this by sticking pins in the candle or simply eyeballing it. For instance, if you are working over 7 days then you will burn 7 segments of the candle and so on.

You can begin this work at any time in the lunar cycle and day, usually I do this at sunrise.

On the first day light your candle and then take a bit of the dirt you have collected and blend it into the dirt in your front or back yard. If you do not have a front or back yard, blend the dirt into the soil of a living plant in your home.

As you mix the earth in, ask that you be able to apply the wisdom of all that is wild and free to your particular situation so that your obstacles may be removed and your aim may be true.

Repeat this every day for the number of days you have chosen.

On the final day blend in the rest of the remaining dirt.

Take some time to reflect on all that you have done and for each obstacle you noted pick a practical action that will help you remove that obstacle and have true aim.

Once you have picked your actions, go do them.

 

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Scorpio the Scorpion

Divination and Dreams

M

iracles,

I am so delighted to bring a new astrology series to Canto. As my students can attest to, when I teach astrology I always begin with what I call “naked eye” astrology – just looking at the stars and tracking the moon and sun to begin to orient oneself to celestial happenings.

But in our astrological considerations as in all else, the ancient tenet of “As Above, So Below” does apply. For star stories are not only inspired by the heavens; they are at least as much (and perhaps more) inspired by the living creatures, plants, animals, and mythic beings, that each Zodiac sign is based on.

I have always wanted to write a series here that explores the various zodiac signs in depth, but I wanted to give you all something that was not the norm or the boilerplate astro babble you can find so easily in various places.

So I was really delighted when the opportunity arrived to partner with Sara Magnuson of Candlesmoke Chapel who has been incorporating an animist and animal-loving approach into her sacred arts practice for many years. This is the first in what will grow to be a 12 part series, and I hope you enjoy each one of them. It is a long read but worth your time, so sit back with a cup of coffee (or what have you) and sink into all that is of Scorpion. As always you can get more astro goodness in the Free Resources area.

Scorpion brings us into the full power of the autumnal season and exemplifies the balance between the fading harsh Summer Sun and the emergence of the Dark Moon of Winter. For their relatively small size, Scorpion evokes fear and signals danger to most other creatures. Just as those that fall under the sign of Scorpio are often more deep and intense than we realize, Scorpions are surprisingly complex and diverse in their behavior and lifestyle.

scorpions scorpioScorpion As Animal: By Sara Magnuson

Belonging to the class of Arachnids (meaning they have eight legs and are related to Spiders), Scorpions are ancient creatures with fossils dating back 430 million years ago. They are found on all continents but Antarctica and can live in all kinds of places, from deserts to jungles. Their ability to adapt is quite incredible. Scorpions can survive many months without food or water by purposefully controlling their metabolism (kind of like a hibernating Bear). The only constant in Scorpion’s environment is the need for soil or sand. It is their nature to dig and hide under the earth, although they can often be found under rocks and in small crevices. Some Scorpions tunnel elaborate burrows complete with a front porch and various rooms.

They are nocturnal creatures and must have a place to hide during daylight hours. Unlike other nocturnal creatures, such as Owls or Raccoons, Scorpions exhibit photophobia, a physical reaction to light. They don’t choose to be active at night because it fits their lifestyle habits, but rather because it causes physical discomfort to be in the presence of the Sun. It is believed that their sensitivity to the UV spectrum in particular enables them to sense when it is safe to emerge from their lairs and begin hunting or searching for a mate.

Scorpion’s ability to acclimate to its environment as long as it has soil/sand teaches us to focus on the essentials and to understand that everything else can be adapted to. Scorpion’s sensitivity to the Sun teaches us about our relationship to light and dark, what is safe and unsafe. These are the basics of survival, of existing – is there food nearby and am I safe from harm.

The behavior of Scorpion is aggressive and predatory. They have two large front claws that are used to easily crush their prey and this brute force is often their preferred method of killing. Primarily hunting insects and other arachnids, they can also take down small reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and birds. They are most well known, however, for their venomous tail. Scorpion’s venom is made up of neurotoxins and enzyme inhibitors that cause paralysis and internal decay of the victim. Not all Scorpion venom is created equal and the poison of each species is tailored to their environment and preferred type of prey. They will wait in hiding, stalking and ambushing their mark, but they are also known to fearlessly march right into another creature’s living quarters and attack. Whichever method Scorpion uses to kill its prey (force or venom), its lack of teeth means that it is not capable of consuming any solid food. Once its meal is acquired, Scorpion must inject it with venom in order to liquefy its insides and then drinks its feast straight from the source. This is a brutal description, but speaks to the primal nature of Scorpion.

It is these behaviors that teach us to look at our defensive mechanisms, our venom, our poisons. Are our defenses strong enough? As Scorpion has the strength of its claws combined with its venom, do we have more than one defensive option? Scorpion’s aggressive nature also teaches us about bravery and power. They enter a combative situation with surety and confidence, knowing they have the appropriate weapons. Just as Scorpion’s venom is highly specialized to its prey, how can we tailor our defensive actions to the situation at hand? When do we need to be on guard and when do we need to take the kill shot with our poisonous tail?

There also exists a healing nature to Scorpion, however counter-intuitive that may seem. The highly poisonous venom of many creatures, including Scorpions, is often used in creating pharmaceutical medication. Scorpion venom is currently being studied as treatment for all kinds of human ailments – arthritis, lupus, cancer, and non-addictive pain medication. In their natural behavior, Scorpion uses its poison for purposes other than death and knows just the right amount of venom needed to kill or to simply soothe. Those in control of this type of personal spiritual medicine are fully aware of its potency and in the best of cases, they use it with purpose and in just the right way; in the worst of cases, they use it with malicious and manipulative intent. As we will see, Scorpion uses its powerful poison with a great deal of mindfulness.

The unexpectedly complex nature of Scorpion comes through the strongest in its courtship, mating, and parental behaviors. These seemingly vicious creatures exhibit an unusually gentle and beautiful coupling ritual that can take as little as one hour to over a day to complete. Using pheromones and vibrations of the body (called juddering), the male lures the female into a long slow dance aptly named promenade à deux. The male tenderly takes the female’s front claws into his own and guides her around as they search for the perfect spot to mate. During this dance the female often becomes impatient and agitated, to which the male responds by placing a small amount of venom in her mouth to calm her. They mate without touching their bodies together and, once they have found a satisfactory spot, the male deposits his sperm on the surface and guides the female over it. When the dance is complete the pair separates and each goes on their way. This curious act of civility and politeness betrays their outward nature and speaks to us about the importance of discerning when to be hostile and when to be compassionate.

The most exceptional behavior of Scorpion, however, is displayed by the Scorpion Mother. Unlike most arachnids, Scorpion embryos develop inside the mother’s body until hatching rather than laying eggs and leaving them to develop and hatch on their own. The young scorplings (yes, they are really called scorplings!) are carried on the mother’s back to regulate their temperature and moisture levels until their first moulting. Mother Scorpion shows a devotion to her young that is practically unheard of in the world of invertebrate animals.

It is quite amazing that this small, hard-shelled, apparently simple-minded creature contains an extraordinary depth of character that is hidden in their smallest actions. The world of Scorpion is about ensuring that our most basic needs are met – food, safety, sex, nurturing – and defending them with the force of a giant.

ScorpioScorpion as Scorpio: By Briana Saussy

In looking at the tale of Scorpios from ancient Greek myth, what we find is a story that in some ways feels a bit of a let down, especially to those with some astrological knowledge about this sign and those born under its influence. However, as is the case with many myths we must dig a little deeper and move past the obvious in order to find the real medicine that Scorpio carries and this is especially appropriate to the star sign that in many ways is most at home in the darkest depths.

The story of Scorpios and the story of the zodiac sign Scorpio is one of struggle and snags. It is in some ways a cautionary tale in the same style as that of Icharos – beware, for this is what happens when you fly too close to the sun, when you try to move from your mortal coil into mysteries fit only for Gods. However, in deeper ways Scorpio is a story of soul and how the very snags we encounter and the struggles that seem the most drenched in agony are the same that show us beyond all doubt what kind of mettle we are made of.

The tale begins as most tales do with people who were watching the skies and sharing stories of what they saw. In this case the phenomena describes a pursuit during the summer months of the constellation Orion by the constellation Scorpio which is then followed by a waxing of Orion’s strength during the winter months. Across the sky writ large was the story of a chase, conquering, and then apparent resurrection of the one who is conquered. But why is the Scorpion chasing the god-like and beloved giant Orion? What has happened to cause this celestial struggle?

Some say the battle began when Scorpio was called forth by angry Artemis who had heard Orion’s proud boast that he was so powerful and so mighty that he could – and would – destroy all life, all living creatures in order to prove his greatness. Since he wished to prove himself through destruction, so the story goes, Artemis – lover of all wild places, peoples, and creatures, decided that destruction was what he would indeed have, and sent her ally Scorpios to battle with Orion on behalf of all life everywhere.

Here we see one of the primary strengths and weaknesses of the star sign Scorpio and those born under its influence which is the ability to conquer and destroy. There is a martial element to this sign which can be clearly seen when we remember that two planets long associated with the sign are Mars, Saturn, (and, since its discovery, Pluto which is now considered the primary ruling planet of the Scorpion). The Mars influence in Scorpio can be seen in its ability to seek out and destroy whatever threatens its security, safety, and stability. In the first version of the tale this ability is put to profound use as Scorpio’s seek and destroy style is more than a match for the intensity of Orion’s power. (Sun-sign Scorpios and those with strong Scorpio or 8th house tendencies are often labeled as “intense” right out the gate). According to the tale Scorpios is called on as the protector of life itself which can be translated into Scorpio as the protector of those who cannot adequately protect themselves and also Scorpio as the protector of creativity, sex, and fertility — all of the things that lead to and give literal life.

One of the signature qualities of those born under this sign and those who are deeply influenced by it is a desire to protect what is theirs and what is dear to them at all costs. They will go to war, and win, against impossible odds if they feel threatened or if someone they love is threatened. This ability to go to battle is found in the actual animal’s fierce devotion to its young.

At the same time, each of us know that sometimes we are tempted to say “peace, peace, where there is no peace” and deny that certain habits, behaviors, thoughts, and relationships create a stability that is hollow and false. The Scorpio influence shows a more negative side in its ability to encourage one to say stuck in toxic situations because doing otherwise — calling a spade and spade and getting out of dodge — feels like a move that would threaten what is stable and known.

Some say that it was not destruction but its opposite, procreation that caused Orion’s downfall. In this tale the Goddess Artemis appears again but this time in rare form as a lover who has fallen under the spell of handsome and powerful Orion. Artemis’ brother Apollo becomes enraged at his sister’s behavior and so calls the Scorpion to come forward out of the black depths to kill the hero out of malice and revenge.

In this version of the tale we see the association between the Scorpion and eros, love and erotic desire. When you read a horoscope about the sign Scorpio you will often see their sexual prowess and intensity remarked upon. But for a Scorpio sex is never just sex. Sex is the doorway into deeper mysteries, into an ecstasy that often does have a religious or spiritual element (remember that to be in ecstasy is literally to be “standing outside of oneself), and also to deep healing. For the ancient understanding of erotics was not one of mere bed play but of asking and daring to answer the question, what is it you most want and where is it you most lack?

In this “lovers thwarted version” of the tale we also see the flip side of the Scorpio way of love – when they love they love fully and completely and most of the time deeply loyal. However, if Scorpio feels wronged in areas of love then they will seek out revenge on whoever wronged them with their typical and formidable intensity.

A third telling of the tale moves away from the relatively young Olympian Gods Artemis and Apollo into a much older time when Gaia, the earth herself, cried out under the weight of Orion’s hunger and ambition. He wanted…all of it, all of the time; he was ever-famished and no matter how much abundance she provided it was never enough. Sounds familiar, yes? And so, in a desperate bid to save her offspring, creation itself,  she called forth the Scorpion to sting the Giant into submission and stop the ravishing of all the lands once and for all.

Scorpio can wield the energies that are capable of going deeper than deep and preventing destruction on a massive level but that ability also means that Scorpio must in some way understand and relate to the experience of being always hungry and never fully satisfied. (Some of you have heard the saying that the sign Cancer is simply Scorpio in a housecoat – consider the above in light of that). One interpretation of Scorpio is that this is the area of the chart and this is the sign that is most willing to traffic in the occult, to show up and work the corner in the red light district, to run the illegal business, and to transgress in every possible way. But the teaching is more straightforward: Scorpio supports us in dealing with all of the taboos, the third-rail subjects, the unmentionable motivations that everyone has a relationship to: money, power, death, sex, the interior spiritual life.

Each of the tales tells of the struggle, a battle royal that went on for ages, season after season, year after year, as the cosmos continued to spin out more stars and planets and celestial bodies. On one side we have the giant Orion, doomed to lose, for the first time, this struggle against an enemy.

Astrologically wherever Scorpio shows up in the chart is traditionally understood as a place of struggle, a place that carries both wound and medicine, an area that is broken and spilling forth with unique blessing also. Scorpio, as the 8th sign occurs after the sun has been in Libra, the 7th sign. Tradition teaches that the first 6 signs in the Zodiac wheel are concerned with Self while Libra, the point of balance, encourages a turn towards relationship between ourselves and others. Scorpio IS interested in relationships – the deeper and more real the better, so let us consider his partner in the tale – Orion.

Orion has his own set of tales and stories and his greatness must be understood for the fullness of Scorpio’s own teachings to take root. For here is a giant among giants – a hunter and a shaman complete with his ritual belt and club whose very name can mean “light from heaven”. Orion could walk on water, speak to Gods, and he became ritually blinded and then upon making the proper amends at the right time, was able to regain his sight once more. He is huge, more powerful and vast than all of the seas and all of the mountains and all of the deserts combined. And yet. The Scorpion ushers forth out of the blacker than black sky and after many years of struggling so that at one point it seems Orion will vanquish the enemy and at another point he will be vanquished, it all comes to a point. That specific point is the star Rigel, which can still be found today in the constellation of Orion marking his heal, and where all of the tales agree Orion was mortally wounded by Scorpios who was in turn declared the victor.

Scorpio is one of the signs most at home with depth psychology and analysis. Highly psychic, Scorpios are often drawn to the sacred arts because they feel a natural resonance to things like magic, ceremony, alchemy, and ritual. This is also the area of the chart that deals with lineage – your ancestry and your inheritances be they financial and otherwise and many a good investor has serious Scorpio influence in their charts. Scorpio is interested in the ways that severity and punishment are the flip side of generosity and mercy so it is no surprise that all fields dealing with criminals and justice are aligned with the sign as is the field of law.

Each of us carries an inner Orion, the ability to be great coupled with the ability to be overly proud and overly ambitious. And each of us also, no matter what your sun sign might be, carries the gifts of Scorpio – the ability to stun that ambitious overreach, the wisdom to understand that your personal power is in a direct relationship with your willingness to be of service to others. The Scorpion also reminds us, as it did Orion, that it is often the most humble, overlooked, of creatures that at the end of the day carry real power.

The story does not end with the struggle. As it is told, the Gods were so impressed with Orion’s endurance and inability to admit defeat, that they blessed him by removing him from the painful sting of death and placing him up into the heavens where his honor could shine out among the stars.

But the story I know is a bit different. In facing the Scorpion, Orion learned that his true power was not found in his ability to demolish and remove all obstacles standing in his way nor was it his ability to satisfy every craving and hunger. No, rather his true power was demonstrated in his refusal to turn away from struggle, to engage in the battle no matter the cost and in his wisdom to apprehend that the true enemy was not the Scorpion but rather his own inflated and misplaced pride.

This is the teaching of Scorpio, one that applies to and can be of benefit to all.

Call on Scorpion When:

  • You need to be brave in the face of great odds. 
  • A situation or relationship calls for deep devotion and loyalty.
  • The least of things needs to be seen and protected.
  • You are ready to come into right relationship to personal power and service.
  • The superficial and surface no longer persuades and you wish to deepen your understanding in any area.
  • Creative endeavors of all kinds need to be strengthened and given better boundaries.
  • You wish to deepen an erotic relationship and/or take sex seriously.
  • You want to come into right relationship with wealth, money, and your lineage.
  • You want to master your own poison and learn to discern when and how to take action.
  • It is time to get to know your own potential to poison as well as to heal the places that have been poisoned.

Be Wary Of:

  • Acting from a place of revenge or malice or any desire to “get back at someone.
  • Hidden motivations that place your welfare before that of your loved ones.
  • A tendency to invite conflict and drama.
  • Over seriousness and intensity.
  • Addictive behaviors that are hard to address because doing so threatens your sense of “peace and ease.
  • Selfishness and protectionism.

Questions to Ponder:

Scorpio shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Scorpio” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Scorpio occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • Where am I naturally willing to go deeper and look harder?
  • What has been the greatest struggle of my life – what has it taught/continues to teach me?
  • What does power mean to me? Where do I feel powerful? Where do I feel powerless?
  • What is my relationship with light and dark, figuratively and literally?
  • How can I be more powerful in each of these aspects?
  • What can I do in the light that I never thought I could?
  • What abilities do I have in the darkness?

Active Imagination Journey:

Cultivate Calmness.

Ground, Center, and Anchor in the ways that feel good and right to you.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are standing in a dry desert in deepest night. There is no moon and the stars shine out all around you, more than you have ever seen in your life. Although it seems that no life can thrive in this inhospitable climate; see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that there is life. The yipping bark of Coyote, the papery rattle of a Rattlesnake, the scurry scuffle of a burrowing Owl sinking back into its nest inside of a cactus.

Affirm and acknowledge that you have come to this place at this time to learn a new teaching about your life, one that is gifted to you from the stars, you have come to encounter the Scorpion. Acknowledge that it does not matter where Scorpio occurs in your chart or whether you were born under this Sun sign or not – we all have this constellation present in some portion of our natal chart.

As you are ready look straight ahead.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that a path has been illuminated for you and down a bit on that path is a beautiful stellar glow. This glow comes from the vast constellation Scorpio, come down to the horizon line for you at this moment. If you are ready to learn what it has to teach then walk forward.

Walk forward. Walk forward. Walk forward.

You grow closer now and so, walk forward, walk forward, walk forward.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are now standing before the starry constellation and on the desert floor moving all around you are scorpions running every which way, and you are not afraid. As you are ready bend down and place one hand on the desert floor.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel as one of the tiny Arachnids crawl across the palm of your hand.

Looking at it here under the stars high above you and illuminated by the light pulsing out from the constellation of Scorpio, see how complicated and beautiful the creature is. Put aside the surface feelings of disgust and fear, resting certain in the knowledge than in this place and in this time the Scorpion will not harm you.

As you are ready, ask it what its teaching for you is.

Give yourself time to truly listen.

When you are ready to depart allow yourself a few final moments to say goodbye and to agree to any promises, oaths, or exchanges that you can in good faith make.

Breathe in a blessing on your body and as you exhale bring your awareness back to the room that you are in. Feel the weight of the air upon your skin and allow yourself to stretch and move in any ways that feel good and nourishing to you.

As a final act, note what the teaching from Scorpio was to and for you.

Now, choose three PRACTICAL actions to bring that teaching fully into your life here and now.

 

Altar and Ritual:

Our altars are generally used for positive purposes – to draw success, money, love, peace, and harmony. For this work, Scorpion asks us to look at the interconnectedness of positive and negative, the balance of using your poison for good or bad (and sometimes “bad” is what’s needed).

The idea behind this ritual is to see where there is light in the darkness and, in the reverse, where the shadows live among the light. It involves approaching your desires from the other side, the opposite angle, in a way that is counter to our natural tendencies.

To this end, Scorpion asks for a separate space, an altar all to its own, a dedicated place to focus on very specific intentions that are not to be mixed in with everything else. Find a place, big or small, that you can dedicate to communing with Scorpion and its astral counterpart.

Think of two major issues in your life right now that you would like change – one positive and one negative. For example, you want your sick mother to get better and you want your noisy neighbors to move out. The way these issues are often approached is to call on positive, healing energy for your mother and to focus on negative things that will drive away your noisy neighbors. But Scorpion asks us to flip this around – to see where we can take positive action in the dark places and where the shadows have influence in the bright places.

Cover or leave bare your altar surface in whatever way feels right to you.

Obtain two white candles and two black candles. They can be of any height that you prefer, but be mindful of how long they will take to burn. The duration is up to you and this ritual can be completed in one sitting or tended to a little bit at a time.*

Divide your altar in half with a light side and dark side, either in your mind or with a physical delineation. It can be divided horizontally or vertically, as you see fit.

Set up one white candle in the side that you associate with lightness, white, and positivity, but don’t light the candle.

Set up one black candle in the side that you associate with darkness, black, and negativity, and don’t light it.

Sit for a moment and take a deep breath. Call in the medicine of Scorpion. (as we continue, it is important to keep track of the white and black candles as instructed)

Light the white candle on the white side of your altar first and acknowledge the positive, bright side of yourself.

Light the black candle on the dark side of your altar next and acknowledge the negative, dark side of yourself.

Take a deep breath and feel that Scorpion is with you, asking you to be not afraid of its dangerous elegance.

Think of the negative issue in your life that you would like to change (i.e. your noisy neighbors). Gather up all your angry feelings and focus on the black shadow candle you have just lit in the dark side of your altar. Envision all the negative thoughts and feelings you have about this issue in the flame of the black candle as it sits in the dark side of your altar.

Take the second white candle and hold it in your hands. Focus on the situation or person(s) that make you angry and frustrated. Hold it/them in your mind and ask Scorpion to show you how to use your poison for good. For example, rather than wishing that bad things happen to your neighbors as payback for bothering you, wish that they win the lottery and move away because they want to. If you are in competition for something, wish that your adversary “loves to lose.” Use the flame from the black candle on the dark side of your altar to light the white candle you hold in your hands. As the white candle takes flame, feel all those negative desires burning into pure white hot fire, illuminating the sea of darkness with a beacon of kindness. Set this white candle in the dark side of your altar.

Take a deep breath and know that Scorpion is guiding you to use your powerful energy with mindfulness and civility.

Now, think of the positive issue in your life that you would like to change (i.e. that your sick mother will get better). Gather up all your tender-hearted feelings and focus on the glowing white candle you have already lit on the bright side of your altar. Envision all the positive thoughts and desires you have about this issue in the flame of the white candle as it sits in the light side of your altar.

Take the second black candle and hold it in your hands. Focus on the situation or person(s) that you want to send healing energy to. Hold it/them in your mind and ask Scorpion to show you how to use your poison in a malicious way. For example, rather than wishing for your mother to heal, curse the disease that plagues her. Ask Scorpion to show you the root of the matter, the thing that is causing the need for healing in the first place, and how to destroy it. Use the flame from the white candle on the bright side of your altar to light the black candle you hold in your hands. As the black candle takes flame, feel all those positive desires lighting the black coals that will annihilate the source of this malady or discomfort. Set this black candle in the light side of your altar.

Take a deep breath and know that Scorpion is guiding you to wield the power of your venom in the proper direction.

Spend some time sitting at your altar while these candles burn; a white candle and black candle burning together on each side of your altar. Meditate on each of the two issues at hand and allow Scorpion to show you how to regulate and redirect your energy.

You may sit with the candles until they burn out or snuff them out when you are finished. You can revisit and relight these candles, in the same order, over several days. One way is not better or worse than the other and you should continue to work this dedicated Scorpion altar as you feel called.

*always use common sense fire safety when burning candles indoors.

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

All in the Cards ~ How to Cleanse, Consecrate, and Bless a Tarot deck

Divination and Dreams

E

ver since launching my first ever e-course, 20 Question Tarot, I have had several students write to me asking really excellent basic tarot questions. As a response I have created “All in the Cards”, a Canto series aimed at answering those questions and sharing my love of all things tarot.

 

 

For those of you enrolled in 20 Question Tarot, I hope these posts deepen your already profound understanding and if you have questions feel free to send them my way! For those of you who would like to learn more about the course, head over here.

Today’s question is: How do you bless a tarot deck?

Before I answer this I’d like to dispel a common myth about decks. There is a pervasive belief that in order for the tarot to “work” for you, you need to be gifted with your first deck. This is not true.

Being gifted with a deck is lovely, but if you would like to explore the tarot you can do it whether you have been given a deck or find one for yourself that you really like. Tarot “works” for you, or rather, with you, when you have a real relationship to the cards.

There is another myth to take care of as well – in order for your blessing to be effective the deck has to be brand new and/or new to you. In other words, if you have a deck you have been working with for years and now want to bless it, it is too late. Nonsense. We can bless our sacred tools at any time and over and over again as we need to.

Now, onto what to do once you have your deck in hand! I am going to describe what I would do with a new deck for simplicity sake, those of you with decks that are good companions – altar as you see fit.

The first thing I like to do is cleanse my tarot deck. Some people see this act as removing negative vibes but I don’t personally ascribe to that view. Rather, I see it as an act of welcoming the deck home and also consecrating it as a talisman for my use. Interestingly, I have been gifted decks or received decks for promotional purposes that I cleansed and it became very clear that the deck was not mine but belonged to someone else. Usually the deck’s proper owner has shown up pretty swiftly once I cleansed the deck.

My favorite way to cleanse most paper items is with sacred smoke. I’ll leave you to choose what incense you would like to burn but obviously you want something that has a clean, clear, scent. Cedar, Juniper, Bay, and White Sage all bring this to mind for me.

Light the incense and allow it to begin smoking then pass the cards through the smoke three times. As you do this simply tune your attention to welcoming the cards and the relationship you are going to form with them, into your home.

Once you have done this I recommend that you Cultivate Calmness, and then Ground, Center, and Anchor.

Now that a firm connection has been established between deepest Earth and highest Heaven allow yourself to sit or stand with the cards in your hand. Ask the deck of cards the following questions:

  • What is your name?
  • What do I need to know in order to best take care of you?
  • What blessing do you have for me?
  • What blessing will you help me bring to others?
  • Is there anything else I need to know at this time?

Now you might think it is a strange thing to be talking to a deck of paper cards, but you are hoping to get some serious insight from that same deck of cards so striking up a conversation with them first should not really be that odd.

Write down the answers you receive and journal on them a bit if that makes sense.

Once you have answered all five questions you are ready to finally bless the deck. Now, there are many ways to bless anything but here is a blessing that I have worked with over my cards with great success:

Blessed Ones in whom I live, move, and have my being. From you all things emerge and unto You they do return. I ask this day for these cards to be blessed with clarity, love, and wisdom.

I ask for Clarity so that what I see and what I show to others is clear, makes sense, is transparent, accessible, and easy to understand. I ask for Clarity so that these cards work as the mirrors that they truly are – reflecting back to myself and to others the deepest truths which are already and always known by Soul.

I ask for Love so that all messages, all words, all visions received are brought forth in ways that are kind, compassionate, fierce, yet also gentle. I ask for Love so that these cards work as the wellspring that they truly are, delivering the healing waters that restore and bless into our lives even and most especially when the truths we need to hear are harsh and jagged.

I ask for Wisdom so that whatever is given by the cards and taken up by myself or by others is taken up with clarity and love intact and is put to use, practical and direct use, in the ways that are best. I ask for Wisdom so that these cards throw down true and their messages contain accurate descriptions of what is and what is to come but also and more essentially, what is always.

May it be so, amen.

Feel free to use this blessing and share it with others but also feel free to write your own blessing and discover your own blessing ways.

Once you have blessed the cards it is a good idea to place them in a box or bag that will be their permanent home. You can sprinkle herbs of your choice in the box or bag to further bless your deck. Personally I use wild crafted sage, lavender, and artemesia for this.

Enjoy your new deck and happy readings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.