New Moon in Cancer – Honoring our Armour

Ceremony and Ritual

Y

ou know how to wear your armor and you know how to take it off. There are many ways to wear the armor that is yours, to be contained in your shell, keeping the most tender places protected and safe.

You can wear the armor all of the time, coloring it like a rainbow of blue, red, silver, and moonlight.

You can scurry back and forth in this shell, reviewing, remembering, and dream-walking your way through the past as you place one tentative arm into the waters of the future.

You can make it hard and bristly, this shell that never cracks open, covered with teeming life from the deepest part of yourself.

You can listen to the voices that tell you to put your armor on, to step out of your shell now, and know all the while in your backwards and sideways way how to stand again the tide of others and listen to your own voice.

You can shed your skin, set your armor down slipping out of it and into the deep waves shimmering in your wondrous naked flesh under the moon’s dark beauty.

You may swim strong in the knowledge that you know how to wear your armor and you know how to take it off.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Cancer

Divination and Dreams

C

ancer resonates with the element of Water and is a cardinal from June 20th through July 21st. Cancer is the 4th sign in the zodiacal wheel, marking the point of the beginning of Summer (Summer Solstice) and moving into deep Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the Winter Solstice moving into early Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Represented by the Crab, Cancer speaks to safety, nourishment, sensitivity, and dreams. As the sign of the Crab, Scarab, and other beings with shells, Cancer, reminds us that we do not have to forgo our tenderness, only learn to protect it.

The Crab as Cancer

Within legend the crab is closely associated with Hydra a many-headed beast raised by Hera to kill the hero Heracles. The story goes that Heracles was driven mad by Hera and as a result murdered his wife and son. After committing this deed Heracles deeply regretted what had happened as he regained his sanity and sought out purification and redemption from the Oracle at Delphi.

Already we can see one of the first themes of Cancer make itself known. For the celestial Crab, family is of extreme importance. This does not always mean that Cancer natives or those with strong Cancer in their chart always have a good relationship with their families; certainly they can but like any other sign they may also have their own wounds around the concepts of home and family. The difference is the for Cancer issues with family tend to take front and center stage in a powerful way. It is not coincidental that the myth cycle within which Cancer appears, begins with the devastating loss of family.

In order to redeem himself Heracles was given 12 tasks by King Eurystheus and the second of these labors was to kill the Hydra. But this task proved difficult. For every time one of its venomous heads was cut off two new heads took its place. During Heracles’ struggle a large crab named Karikos emerged from the Underworld sent by Hera and attacked his foot. In some versions of the story Heracles crushes the crab under his heel at which point Hera takes it and places it among the stars while in other versions, Heracles kicks it so far into the sky that it comes a cluster of stars.

This aspect of the story too gives us vital clues about the way that the Crab works. Emerging from the underworld, emerging literally from the deep waters where the Hydra lived, Cancer, also is able to occupy in-between spaces – at home in the depths but also able to come to the surface. Just as the Crab pulled and pinched at Heracles’ foot, doing as its “mother” Hera commanded, so Cancer can show us where we tend to get tripped up, especially when we are so engaged in a single task.

So that is the official story but when it comes to the Crab what we often find is that what is on the outside does not necessarily indicate what is within. For just as crabs in real life have tough outer shells protecting tender insides so the story of Cancer the crab holds more mystery within it. Within the tale we see that there is a battle raging between Heracles who is depicted as a strong and mighty hero and half God, but who is also seen (even by sympathetic storytellers) as a prideful and arrogant hero, and Hera, the chief Goddess of Olympia and consort of Zeus. Often when we seen this set up of tension between Hera and a hero, what we are also seeing is a tension playing out between two different kinds of powers.

While it might be easy to shorthand this as a conflict between men and women or old and new, it is not quite that. For Hercules has men and women, old and young who come to his aid and Hera has the same on her side. Rather, what we see are two different ways of exerting power. How does one rule is one of the core questions brought about by the 12 labors of Heracles. And this is an essential question for Cancer, for as the cardinal water sign, the Crab has much to teach about wielding power and influence in a manner that is also healing and receptive in alignment with its natural element: water.

Within in the tale Hera vies for power by working in the background. She creates traps that Heracles must navigate by using not only his mighty arm but his head. Heracles on the other hand, relies overly much on his natural strength; a feature that, after the death of his family by his own hand, becomes both blessing and curse. His arrogance is his undoing time and again, and while he begins with 10 labors he adds on two more because he does not follow the prescription laid out by the King to which he owes fealty. And the issue of arrogance is one where Cancer speaks strongly. For the emphasis that this sign places on home, family, and tribe flies in the face of arrogant self-assertion. While other signs might say “but what about me?” Cancer asks, “but what about all of us?”

Hera is one of the great mother figures within the Olympian tales and this too speaks to an aspect of Moon-ruled Cancer as this sign has a strong affinity for mothers, motherhood, and is concerned with the question of what it means to be a mother – to oneself as well as to others. Nourishment is another theme that comes up strongly with this sign and Cancer is often found asking: what needs to happen to make it easier, to make it possible, to support someone deeply?

Long before the Greek story of Heracles and Hera and Karikos the Crab, the Sumerians and Babylonians saw Cancer as the window of the dark sun, it was a point in the sky associated with Summer Solstice as well as the Moon and it was understood to be one of the points in the zodiac that could assist one in “seeing in the dark.” This too is Cancer, for as a water sign, Cancer is deeply liminal – able to move from water to land, from one world to another and back again. The seeing that comes with such liminal work is not illuminated by the sun, logical thought or analysis, but rather by deep feeling, feelings which have the power to leave Cancer especially vulnerable, thus the tough exterior.

In closing I will note that Karikos, the ancient Greek word for Crab and proper name for Cancer, is a word that has cognates in many languages around the world – even languages that do not fall under the Proto Indic-European family have similar words for Crab. This small fact reminds me of another aspect of the Crab, the notion that even though we do have different tribes and family, at the deepest level we are linked to each other. It also tells me that there is much more to the story of the Crab than we are fully aware of, and that is appropriate for Cancer, for this sign innately understands that a little mystery is essential.

The Crab as Animal: By Sara Magnuson

Ruled by the Moon and the element of Water, Crab is an unlikely representative of the bright and fiery summer solstice and teaches us about awareness of, and reactivity to, movement, both literal and figurative.

Crabs are similar to insects in many ways and we have seen that correlation exemplified in the mythology and folklore. Biologically, they are similar in that their body is divided in sections, they have several pairs of legs, and are found on every continent and ocean. Even their circulatory systems are similar, but symbolically it is their exoskeleton that brings out the qualities they share. Hard on the outside and soft on the inside. They are covered in armor and protected from the outside world. While the Crab does not have ears, a nose, or skin in the way we can relate to as mammals, they have extraordinarily keen perceptions. Their hard-shell bodies are covered with delicate receptive hairs that pick up on vibrations, including sound waves (their version of “hearing”). These hairs also allow them to “smell” the pheromones of other creatures. Crabs don’t vocalize, but they create their own vibrations by drumming their legs or claws against a hard surface. They will also snap their claws to create sound that is picked up by the hairs on the bodies of other Crabs. The ability to detect the movement of vibrations, in the water, in the ground, and in the air, gives Crab a sensitivity that betrays its hard exterior.

In order to grow Crab must molt its shell, which is a very delicate affair. They have to pull themselves, bit by bit, ever so carefully, out of their shell and then wait while the new one hardens. It is part of the farmer’s folklore that Crabs molt during the full moon. This is not without some truth, as many common Crabs have a molting cycle of about 30 days. It is in this way that Crab follows the movement of the Moon and the pull of the tides, going through regular cycles of extreme vulnerability.

Crabs in general are not seen as wholly social or solitary creatures, although individual species will have their unique behaviors, rather they are social or solitary as it seems to suit their needs. They will migrate to the shore together in enormous groups and will also defend their mates and burrows (places of singular connection or solitude) to the bitter end. In human personality terms, they can be extroverted or introverted as needed. Crab’s ability to flow with the movement of a situation is admirable!

Of course, we can’t talk about Crab without talking about it’s literal movement. Crab’s eyes appear to face forward on its body, yet they walk in a sideways manner, not looking in the direction they’re going. Crab’s are able to walk forward and backward, but the orientation of their legs makes sideways locomotion more efficient. Their almost 360° vision allows them to walk in any direction and still see what’s going on. Crab teaches that approaching things “sideways” can be helpful and provide a new point of view. Crab asks us to remember that the path that leads to your desires may not be a straight line.

The energy of Crab may manifest in those born under this sign in many ways – they may be very perceptive to the energy of other people, especially those close to them, and can equally give off a lot of energy themselves. It can also manifest in using the “sideways” aspect of Crab in a manipulative manner; always looking for an alternate way into a situation to suit their own purpose. Ruled by the element of water, Crab can have a tendency to make things into something they are not; remember that Water can create illusions. The darkness of the Moon, the flare of the Sun, the pull of the tides, the movement of cycles and vibrations – Crab is extraordinarily sensitive to these influences.

Call on The Crab When…

  • You want to re-connect to your sense of home and sanctuary.
  • You desire the protection of family, close friends, and tribe.
  • You are ready for deep and abiding nourishment; including changing your dietary habits or becoming clearer on nutritional needs.
  • You wish to explore the various roles of the mother in your life.
  • You need more moonlight!
  • You wish to nurture yourself or others.
  • You are taking a retreat.
  • You are working to increase peace and tranquility in your home or family life.
  • You need more poetry in your life.
  • You would like to pay more attention and/or remember your dreams.
  • You want to develop a divination skill.
  • You are increasing your privacy and protection.

Be Wary Of

  • Dependency relationships are awesome but sometimes Cancer-strong people can take their love of family to a truly intense level. The attitude here becomes one of a smother mother” or a dependent child. There is a difference between associating with family because you love your people and like to be with them, versus never leaving home because you are afraid that you cannot stand on your own.
  • Passive-Aggression Cancer-strong people do not like conflict and so will do their best to steer clear of disagreements. But they can manifest their displeasure through subtle emotional manipulation or passive aggressive behaviors that undermine others. Cancer is the cardinal sign of water which means that it does like to take on a leadership role; part of leading is being comfortable with your voice and using it, do that and the passive-ag tendencies will just float away.
  • Buying into Illusions Cancer-strong types are illuminated by the light of the moon. They love to peer into the shadows and frolic in the oceans. While this liminal space is wonderful for dreams, depth, and sacred arts work of all kinds; it can have a hard time with the real world, here and now. Cancer has to learn how to create solid foundations under their aerial castles when they do there is nothing that can stop them!

Questions to Ponder for Cancer:

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

  • What is my relationship to home and family?
  • What does sanctuary mean to me? What makes a place a sanctuary? 
  • How can I best nourish myself and others?
  • Where am I overly protective?
  • Where does privacy really matter to me? What do I do to maintain privacy?
  • What have I learned from my relationship to my mother?
  • What are my dreams telling me?
  • What actions do I take that allow me to connect with the Moon?

Meditation/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 shoreline where the sand meets the sea. It is night time and the stars twinkle high above your head while a gorgeous Moon shines down illuminating everything with her brilliant light.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel the taste of the tangy salt air on your tongue, the sea breeze whipping through your hair, and your feet curled up and sinking deeper into the sand as the tide comes up and pools around your ankles. Soon, you feel little legs scurry across your foot and a tiny little pinch…not hard at all, grab your big toe.

Bending down, cup your hands together and as you do so a crab crawls into them surrounded by sea water and foam. Affirm and acknowledge that you are safe holding this little being in the palm of your hand, no harm will come to you and no harm will come to it.

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 celestial Crab, Cancer.

Acknowledge that it does not matter where Cancer 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 and so we can all learn from it.

As you are ready, close your eyes and take a deep breath in. See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel, the crab dancing across the skin of your palm. Affirm that this dance is the way that the crab communicates – sending you messages through vibration across your skin. Note what this initial message might be.

Breathe in a blessing on yourself and your Crab familiar, exhaling in gratitude.
Then, as you are ready, ask the little Crab what you need to know about true home and nourishment right now.
Listen to the answers you receive as it tip, tap, taps into the palm of your hand.

Affirm and acknowledge the answers and, as you are ready, ask the Crab any other questions you have at this time.
Take time to listen with care.

Then, as you are ready, bend back down, letting your hands drift into the ocean water as the Crab scuttles away from your palms and back into the depths of the sea. Affirm and acknowledge the blessing you have received.
As you are ready, bring awareness back to your present place here and now, and then set about your work of returning to true home once more.

Altar/Ritual

PERSONAL EGG CLEANSING RITUAL

First, obtain a chicken egg. If you can get a fresh chicken egg, great, but going to the grocery store is fine. We advise you to buy the most free-range, well-fed, happy-life chicken eggs you can.

Place the egg on your altar and light a white candle. Sit with it for a while and focus on cleansing yourself of any negative thoughts or energies to make space for balance between your wants and your needs. Focus on the desire for clarity in distinguishing the difference between what you need to be whole and what you wish to be true; clarity in distinguishing the illusions of the watery darkness from the daylight of reality and the ability to balance their messages.

While the candle is still burning, pick up the egg. Beginning at the crown of your head, gently roll or brush the egg over your body. You can lightly touch the egg to your skin if you like, or you can brush the egg against your aura, a few inches above your skin, but be mindful of the delicate object you’re holding. Remember – hard on the outside, soft on the inside.

If you are holding the egg against your skin, roll it gently over your body. If you are brushing your aura, think of it as sweeping yourself off, using several brush strokes over each area, as you would a broom. Gently and slowly move the egg over your entire body in a downward motion, moving away what you want to be rid of toward the ground. Be sure to go over each shoulder, arm, and hand, your torso and pelvis, each leg and foot.

When you are finished, put the egg in a brown paper bag. Take it outside and throw it as hard as you can to break the egg, thus releasing what you want to be rid of. You can do this at a crossroads or against an old sturdy tree. I have also done this behind a dumpster, where my worries, troubles, and struggles would be “taken out with the trash.” The goal is to let go of and release that which is not serving you to make room for balance.

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.

The Best Sacred Arts Artisans

Foundations

M

iracles,

I have already share a list of my favorite resources for herbs, roots, and plant allies and I thought it was time to share a few more of my favorite spiritual suppliers and Sacred Arts artisans.

Spiritual Supplies are commonly understood to be oils, incense, powders, perfumes, waters, washes, candles, altar goods, statuary, talismans, and the list goes on.

As always, I do not receive any kind of kickback or financial incentive for these recommendations, they are simply folks I know and have worked with and have found to provide consistent high quality supplies.

First, pride of place goes to the sacred arts artisans who are also graduates from the Miracle Tree Sessions. Obviously, I am partial to these fine folks as they are students of mine who have gone through the MTS and I know them all personally and adore them.

Three Cats and a Broom — Jen has all kinds of magical goodies from a Rue water that is delightful to a wonderful breast health formula.

Candlesmoke Chapel — Sara and Joseph offer wide variety of spiritual supplies with a focus on oils and cleansing/blessing kits.

Kunst Magic — this is Jacquelyn Tierney’s site for bespoke, vintage, and one of a kind magical objects of art.

Paige Zaferiou — is a good witch who makes great tea. Sit down, have a cuppa, and throw down some cards!

Gatheress — Shelley Henry’s one of a kind magical goodies – her scent based alchemy is beyond exquisite.

Aidan Wachter — makes incredible talismans of all kinds. Pure magic in metal.

Stone Angel Studios — Jennifer Kaufman creates one of a kind works of art, sculptures, and jewelry that honors the Sacred with every step you take.

 

 

Other incredible sources for magic:

Rosarium Blends — Wonderful oils, incenses, and alchemical concoctions.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab — specializing in oils and perfumes

Twilight Alchemy Lab — sister company of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab selling mostly oils with a Conjure/Hoodoo bent.

Black Arts Foundry — Sarah does lovely work specializing in flying ointments

Lotus Wei — Flower Essences, sprays, perfumes

Green Man Essences — another excellent source for single note flower essences.

Big Dipper Wax Works — beeswax candles including pillars, tapers, and devotional glass candles.

Alchemy Works — Harold stocks oils, incense, seeds, medicinal, magical, and poisonous plants.

Apothecary’s Garden — Dan stocks fine frankincense, a number of different resins, and hard to find ingredients like Civet musk. He has incredible ethics in his business as well – something I very much admire.

Lucky Mojo Curio Company — specializing in hoodoo and conjure supplies.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Gemini

Divination and Dreams

G

emini is attuned to the element of Air, and is a mutable sign. The Sun is in Gemini from May 20th through June 19th. Gemini is the 3rd sign in the zodiacal wheel, marking the transition from deep Spring into early Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and deep Autumn into early Winter in the Southern. Represented by the Twins, Gemini speaks to communication, connection, ideas, writing, and speech. As the sign of the cosmic Twins, Gemini also inspires us in all of our deep friendships and in the fellowships we hold and keep with one another.
 

The Twins as Gemini

Twins show up around the world in story. Usually they are identical twins, and though often one is male and the other is female, in many cases they are depicted as two brothers or two sisters. Anytime we see twins show up in story it is an indication that we are working with the themes of double-ness and mirrors – for a twin is, after all, a mirror image made flesh. It is for this reason that in many stories one Twin descends or lives in the Underworld (whatever that world looks like for the culture telling the story), while the other Twin lives up on the topside world or in the heavens. The Twins oppose each other but in their relationship we also learn that a necessary tension must be in place for growth and development to occur.

This is one of the core teachings of the sign of Gemini. There is an old saying “don’t rely on a Gemini,” which Gemini folks of course don’t appreciate, but the truth is more nuanced. For Gemini can appear fickle or unfocused (and sometimes, like all of us, is), but more often Gemini is doing the work of uncovering opposing forces and listening to the tension between them. This is why you will find that wherever you find Gemini in your chart, you are encouraged to do one thing only to turn around and then seek out its opposite. And that process, of identifying opposites and sitting with the tensions they create, is part of what allows us to learn – one of the primary gifts of Gemini.

It all begins with an egg, appropriate for this deep Spring sign. For it is from the egg that the twins Castor and Pollux sprang forth, for Zeus had turned into a Swan to seduce their mother, Leda. Now while in many tales the twins are separated and inhabiting different realms, this was not the story for Castor and Pollux; they were brothers in everything, always together, and rarely apart. And yet, there was an aspect of their relationship that they did not fully comprehend which was that only one of them had been fathered by Zeus and was therefore immortal; the other had a human father and so could be killed.

Of course we see the presence of Gemini in the fact that as the story unfolds the twins are going to discover who they really are, they will learn, but we also see it in the realm of partnerships. Who are the people and what are the activities that you are engaged with and in throughout the course of your life? What and who are you closest to and what matters most about your friendship? Gemini is interested in getting to the essence and communicating that essence out into the world.

As the story goes, Castor and Pollux end up in a lethal fight to the death where Castor is slain and Pollux is rescued by Zeus at the last possible minute. Pollux is so devastated by his brother’s death that he decides he cannot go on living without his boon companion and so requests that Zeus turn both he and his brother into stars that can shine out forever, side by side. Zeus acquiesces to this and so the brothers are able to remain together, albeit in changed form.

This gives us another clue to Gemini, for Gemini is not afraid of change but rather welcomes it. This goes hand in hand with Gemini’s love of learning – we learn something new and it changes us, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in a much more significant manner. But it also shows us another essential element to Gemini which is that Gemini is very relationship driven – siblings, friends that are like sister or brother, and the tight relationships that Geminis form matter deeply to them. They may not always express that in words, but Geminis care deeply and they will sacrifice themselves and their own happiness if they see clearly how that sacrifice is needed by the relationship as a whole. This need for connection, deep and solid connection, is another strong feature of the Twins.

While the story of Castor and Pollux is relatively minor compared with many of the other Greek dramas, these two brothers have a habit of showing up, in the star forms, to light the way for other heroines and heroes, sometimes they show up just in the nick of time to protect someone that they especially love, sometimes it is simply their presence in the sky that gives hope and guidance. As such, they have a strong association with both sailing and horsemanship – both skills that require a strong sense of navigation, control, and another supremely Gemini trait: optimism.

For that is the real beauty of Gemini – it does not need to solve mysteries, rather it is willing to learn from them, let what it learns create the needed changes, and then from those changes find direction and share a message that brings hope and inspiration to all who are willing to listen

The Twins as Animal: By Sara Magnuson

The Twins of Gemini ask us to revisit the fact that humans are also animals and to examine what seems to set us apart. Gemini focuses on our unique intellect and the duality of our human-animal nature. We know that humans are not the only species of animal that have self-awareness, a highly developed intelligence, the ability to communicate, or express feelings and empathy. These traits in general do not make human animals unique; many other species possess these characteristics to varying degrees. What makes the human animal unique from other animals is the same thing that makes all creatures unique from each other – how we develop and use those traits.

{Disclaimer: As we talk about what makes humans different from other animals, we must begin with the understanding that our knowledge of how other animals perceive the world is speculative. We have ways to study some of the cognitive abilities in other animals, but there are aspects of perception that we do not yet have the ability to uncover, therefore we think we know what makes humans unique. It can be argued that other animals do feel/sense/think all of the things we’re going to discuss, not just humans. So as you continue reading, please add “as far as we know” to the end of every sentence. I humbly ask you to remember that there are entire fields of study dedicated to the subjects discussed and I am only touching the surface of what is being explored.}

Gemini is associated with the element of Air and focuses on the mind and intellect of the human animal. A unique quality of the human mind is self-awareness and self-contemplation; we have a concept of inner self, inner identity, inner awareness that is distinctly human. We spend a lot of time considering ourselves, reflecting on our thoughts and actions, in ways that are not directly related to our immediate survival or reproduction. A benefit of this self-awareness is our capacity for compassion and empathy; we are able to consider how we affect the world around us. As we have seen in the stories above, the Twins teach us about cause and effect, about the invisible ties of meaningful relationships, and how to achieve the most appropriate balance.

The human mind can also do something called “mental time travel” that appears to be unmatched by any other in its degree of ability. Mental time travel is the awareness of your past and future; it is hindsight and foresight; it is the ability to reflect on what was and what will be. It is recently being discovered that other animals, especially birds, also possess this ability, but it is generally accepted that humans are able to mentally travel much further into the past and future than any other animal. For example, a seven year old child has ideas about what they want to be when they grow up, which is many years into the future, versus a bird’s ability to contemplate what may happen a few days from now. As we will see, this capacity for self-awareness and contemplation has its benefits and its challenges.

The Twins of Gemini present us with the concept of inner duality. We contemplate and often struggle intellectually with our ability to see both sides of the many aspects of ourselves, be it our child/adult sides, our masculine/feminine sides, our greedy/giving sides, our warrior/peace-keeper sides, what we believe is right or wrong in general, etc. The concept of morality appears to be uniquely human, especially the way in which we impose it on ourselves and the degree to which we judge others by it. The Twins ask us to look at how we impose our ideas of morality on our own circumstances, as well as those of others. Do we hold one to a higher standard than the other? Are we putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes, so to speak, while making sure our own voice is heard? Are we expressing ourselves in a way that feels true and fulfilling?

When my best friend and I talk about situations in life that we’re trying to navigate, we often reference “the committee” in our minds. Imagine a boardroom table and at each seat is a representative of the various aspects of your personality; there’s the five-year-old-you, the rebellious-you, the peaceful-you, the envious-you, the day-dreaming-you, the all-about-business-you, etc. Depending on the situation at hand, select members of “the committee” have something to say about it. These are the voices of our mind and our morality; the inner voices guiding us and working with us to make beneficial decisions.

The Twins of Gemini are like two of the most quick-minded voices on “the committee” talking out different sides of the issue. You can weigh out both sides of something forever, but in real life you are often faced with having to eventually make a choice or a decision. The Gemini mind is sharp and quick, but can get bogged down in the infinite possibilities of life. The work of the Gemini soul comes in finding a resolution to that inner monologue and is a process that is especially human.

Call on The Twins When…

  • You need to see both sides of a situation with clarity.
  • You want to tap into and express your inner duality.
  • Clear communication is desired.
  • Connection with others and the ability to listen is sought after.
  • Learning, excelling in school, and cultivating one’s knowledge is needed.
  • Making friends, restoring friendships or honoring current friends is your focus.
  • You wish to draw new friends to you.
  • There is a need to strengthen or cultivate relationships between you and your siblings – including the friends that are really like brother or sister.
  • You wish to share your message, your insight, or your thoughts with many others and need the right words to do so.
  • Publishing in any form is desired.
  • Your writing/communication style needs to be honed.
  • You have questions and are seeking out answers.

 

Be Wary Of

  • Being Overly Non-committal – The desire and ability to see both sides of a situation or problem can lead to difficulty making choices and an inability to commit to things.
  • Speaking Out of Both Sides of Your Mouth – Because Gemini is a natural communicator words often come easily to those who demonstrate this sign strongly; but the meaning behind the words may be less of a focus. What to others might be taken as “talking out of both sides of one’s mouth” related to the fickle behaviors described above, to a Gemini is simply choosing the right words for the right audience. As always discernment is key.
  • Mental Exhaustion – Gemini loves to learn, to share, and to communicate, but sometimes these very things can also lead to significant burn out. Gemini does best when it slows down and fosters the connections that truly matter.
  • Superficiality – Like all Air signs, Gemini can sometimes be too content to stay on the surface of things and not peer deeper into the waters. For the same reasons Gemini can be attracted by all bright and shiny objects and go off course easily; maintaining focus should be emphasized.

Questions to Ponder for Gemini:

  • What do I want to learn?
  • How do I best communicate with others?
  • What kinds of communications am I most responsive to?
  • How seriously do I take the words that I use?
  • What is the role of friendship in my life?
  • What am I willing to speak up for?
  • How do I stay focused?
  • What do I love to discover?
  • What is the message I bring to the world?

Meditation/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 front of a shining mirror. The mirror may be in a building, it might be in a room that has special significance for you, it might be outside; note where your mirror shows up and how it appears to you.

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 Twins of Gemini.

Acknowledge that it does not matter where Gemini 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 and so we can all learn from it.

As you are ready, close your eyes and take a deep breath in. Then, allowing your eyes to open, see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel, your presence before the mirror and the reflection in the mirror looking back at you. Affirm and acknowledge that you have come face to face with your Twin, but this is the part of you that will live on through the legacy that you create and all of the many ways that your presence has, will, and can change the cosmos.

Breathe in a blessing on yourself and your Twin and exhale in gratitude.
Then, as you are ready, ask your reflection what message your legacy will carry forward.
Listen to the answers you receive.
Affirm and acknowledge the answers and, as you are ready, ask your Twin any other questions you have at this time.
Take time to listen with care.
Then, as you are ready, speak aloud the actions that you will take to the reflection in the mirror, affirming and acknowledging that this is a promise you make to your Twin and to yourself.

In the true spirit of Gemini, go out and live those actions!

Altar/Ritual

For this ritual we recommend completing the active imagination journey first. You will also need an altar space, which can be your existing altar or you can create a new one just for this. Gemini asks us to focus on duality – light and dark, earth and sky, etc. – so you will be working with pairs and “sides” of your altar space. This is an important exercise in harnessing the dual energy of the Twins and bringing a grounded balance to the constant mind-chatter.

Spend some time collecting pairs of objects – go through items you already own and find two that seem to go together; they can actually match, or they can just “go together” by their feeling to you. They should also have meaning to you, don’t just pick random things. Spend some time outdoors and/or looking around when you’re out doing things throughout the day. Collect any pairs of natural objects that match or feel like they go together for you.

Bring all of these objects near your altar space, as well as a favorite cloth or covering for the surface and any other items you consider necessities for a sacred space. The point is to have your altar-making supplies close at hand.

Sit at your bare altar space and reflect on the active imagination journey – reflect on your present self and the messages of legacy from your Twin, reflect on the actions you spoke aloud and the promises you made to your Twin/Yourself.

Choose two words or short phrases that represent each of the two sides of the mirror, the two sides of yourself that were shown. Write each word or phrase on its own piece of paper. It can be any kind of paper that feels right to you for the occasion and you can write it plainly or embellish as much as you want. There is no wrong way.

Divide your altar into two sections, either horizontally or vertically, and use whatever material or visual barrier you see fit. In a purposeful way, speak aloud what is written on one of the papers and give one side of your altar that name. Place the paper in the center of that area. Next, speak aloud what is written on the other paper and name the other side of your altar. Place that paper in the center of that area. Naming is a very sacred rite and this should be done with the same focus, force, and intention as any such ceremony would require.

Now look at the pairs of objects you have collected and, in your mind, focus on the two sides of your altar. What best represents the name of each side? What do they ask to have placed upon them? Listen to the objects themselves. Where do they feel called to go? Hold them in your hands and place the pairs on the side of your altar that feels most appropriate. Remember, the two sides do not have to have an equal number of items and you don’t have to use them all. Pay the most attention to your intuition.

When you feel each side is complete, turn your attention to one side in particular. Examine the objects that have been placed there and reflect on how they represent the name of this side of your altar, one side of the mirror. See how the pairs you have chosen are similar, but also how they are different. What do their similarities and their differences have to teach you about living into the actions you promised to take?

As you work with your Gemini altar, focus less on how the two sides (and the pairs upon them) are different, and work with the balance of energies that tie them together. Spending time at this altar, daily, weekly, or monthly, will guide you ever closer toward fulfilling the promises and living out the actions that you have promised to yourself.

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 ~ Taurus the Bull

Divination and Dreams

W

riting about Taurus always reminds me of the children’s story Ferdinand the Bull. Ferdinand was a big and strong bull who wanted nothing more than to sit in the meadow and smell the flowers. Ferdinand knew what mattered most and once he made up his mind not much could get him to move – that is one of the essential teachings of this very old, very potent star sign. Welcome Taurus!
Taurus is the 2nd sign in the zodiacal wheel, is attuned to the element of Earth, and is a fixed sign. The Sun is in Taurus from April 19th – May 20th Taurus is the 2nd sign in the zodiacal wheel, marking the transition from early Spring into deep Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and early Autumn to deep Autumn in the Southern. Represented by the Bull, Taurus demonstrates strength, stubbornness, patience, wealth, and pleasure. As one of the oldest and most universally recognized astrological signs, Taurus also speaks to the deep wisdom that comes from right relationship with the land.
 

Bull as Animal: By Sara Magnusson

Many male animals are referred to as Bulls, but the Bull we are talking about with Taurus is specifically cattle. Interestingly, almost all modern domesticated cattle are descended from one common herd of about 80 individuals that lived over 10,000 years ago. The ancestors of that original herd were beasts known as Aurochs. The following description of an Auroch shows how the many myths of Bull may have developed from ancient man’s attempts to tame this wily and massive creature: “Wild aurochs…were much bigger than modern cattle, and wouldn’t have had the domestic traits we see today, such as docility. So capturing these animals in the first place would not have been easy, and even if some people did manage [to] snare them alive, their continued management and breeding would still have presented considerable challenges…” [1]

Taurus

Historically, they are an animal to be conquered, but Bull is also viewed as a sacrificial animal – their physical power used to pull and push whatever is needed, meat and dairy for food, leather for protection, and even their manure makes the best fertilizer.

The farmer who has many cattle is indeed seen as a wealthy individual. As Briana will discuss in more detail below, many cultures have revered Bull and, to some, they were the most esteemed offering one could make to the Gods. This reverence for all they provide associates them with the rewards of hard work, abundance, richness, and plenty.

 

Bull has excellent hearing, but his natural environment of open fields and pastures means he is not very good at localizing the source of a sound. This gives Bull a “wide open” auditory range and, even though he is exposed and vulnerable in open areas, he is very much aware of what is moving around him. He has large eyes on the side of his head, giving him an expansive field of view, and can pick up on the slightest of movements. Bull is red-green color blind and sees the world in shades of yellow, blue, brown, and gray. As an herbivore, Bull’s color blindness means that he relies on his highly developed senses of taste and smell to acquire food, even possessing a special olfactory organ that assists in discerning the nuances of his environment.

Bull prefers the safety of what is familiar and finds anything unknown to be inherently dangerous. They resist change and can take a long time to warm up to new people and situations. Bulls may seem to be just standing around a lot, but in reality they are taking it all in – noticing what is new and different versus what is commonplace. Bull also possesses an acute ability of recognition, in that they are able to not only differentiate other cattle, but also animals of other species, including humans. This ability even extends to recognition of photographs of other individual creatures of all types.

As a herd animal, Bull despises being isolated for long periods of time and will act out most aggressively if this goes on for too long. Their instinctual desire is to be with and protect their group and this overrides any “training,” exposing their true feral nature. What may appear as hostility to us humans is actually a passionate and fierce devotion to the ones they care about.

The wildness of Bull remains, no matter how tame he seems to be, and he is most well-known for his size and physical strength, representing the epitome of masculinity, virility, and passion.

Bull has a self-awareness of his substantial presence and makes use of extremely subtle body language to indicate his moods before taking physical action. The cues of Bull’s body language can be so slight that it can seem as if their aggression has come on suddenly, but from the Bull’s perspective he has given plenty of warning. It’s important to realize that those who don’t know a Taurus very well may have difficulty picking up on their fine-tuned signals. If Taurus is your sign, remember to give those around you clear warning when you feel offended, hurt, or threatened.

In our last post about Aries the Ram, I touched on the topic of gender and gender roles and this discussion also applies to Taurus the Bull. When we talk about cattle (biologically), the Cows are the females and the Bulls are the males, thus with Taurus we are definitely delving into some masculine energy. In the Aries post I talked about how the male Rams were different from the female Ewes, but with Taurus the Bull we see many similarities between the genders. Cows and Bulls are both of great stature and physical presence and both exhibit similar behavioral traits and body language. The main differences are that Bulls tend to be slightly larger (but both seem huge by our human perspective!); Bulls typically have large horns, where the Cows possess much smaller horns or none at all; and of course, they differ in their reproductive organs.

Bull is often seen as the essence of masculinity, but the females are by no means the weaklings of the species. A female Taurus can hold her ground and intimidate with the best of them and I encourage all the women reading this to find out where Taurus falls in their natal chart. Learn what that place in your chart means and how you can bring Bull’s energy to work in your favor. The delicate and purposeful way in which Bull senses the world betrays his appearance, as that kind of sensitivity is seen as more feminine. This sensitive-yet-powerful dynamic can cause quite a conundrum for many that fall under the influence of Taurus, male or female or anything in between.

For all their seemingly brute force and intimidating demeanor, Bull’s are extraordinarily sensitive to other creatures and external stimuli. The energy of Taurus allows us to pick up on subtleties that others around us may not, and we can use that ability to show them the richness, beauty and abundance that life has to offer.

[1] Burger,  Joachim, et al. “Modern Taurine Cattle Descended from Small Number of Near-Eastern Founders.” Molecular Biology and Evolution. 14 March 2012.

Bull As Taurus: By Briana Saussy

TaurusNot many Zodiac signs can claim lineage going back into the Upper Paleolithic but Taurus can.

First depicted (most likely) on the cave wall in Lascaux, France, Taurus is one of the most universally recognized Zodiac signs and the Bull or Heavenly Bull, as it is sometimes called, is very ancient.

The constellation is especially noteworthy because it contains the cluster of seven stars known as the Pleides or “Seven Sisters” – a star cluster that is known throughout the world by that name, indicating that there is a common story from one ancient source that then migrated out into all of the different parts and peoples of the world. Taurus was also noteworthy because until about 1700 BC it marked the beginning of the Spring Equinox which later moved into Aries. Ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Akkadians, and Greeks all recognized the constellation of Taurus and for many of them this was the first constellation in their own astrological systems.

Both Taurus’ agedness and universal acknowledgement speak to one of its foremost qualities: a trait that today is most commonly referred to as stubbornness but is actually much deeper than that: the ability to stick and stay the course. Those who are born under this sign or who have Taurus prevalent in their charts are known for staying the course, moving one foot in front of the other, and keeping on until their work is finally done.

TaurusThe stories associated with the sign of Taurus vary widely. In the oldest tales the Bull is the Heavenly Bull, marked as such by star symbols on his back and haunches. Reading between the lines we see that the Bull, much like the Horse for the Vedic people, is an animal capable of providing everything – seed to begin a new herd of cattle, manure to fertilize crops and fields, meat, blood, skin, and horn all of which were needed to sustain early civilizations. The oldest story of the Bull, then, is one of sacrifice; the Bull sacrifices himself and the very world in which we live is created from his bones and flesh.

Here we see another element of the sign of Taurus – an amazingly fertile creativity. This is one of the signs most strongly associated with the arts; and with Taurus we can be speaking of the fine arts, of plastic or performing arts, or even of culinary arts. Taurus resonates naturally to beauty and excellence and all of the places that foster both, and this resonance is based on the fertile and creative element that is so present within the Bull.

In both Summer and Babylon Taurus was associated with the Goddesses Inanna and Ishtar, respectively. Inanna and her Babylonian counter part Ishtar were great Goddesses of culture, magic, love, sex, pleasure, fertility, and also war. Their veneration occurred prior to the much later split that separated female deities associated with love, marriage, and childbirth from those associated with strategy, intelligence, wisdom, and battle (like Aphrodite and Athena). For Inanna and Ishtar the Bull was both ally and totem, as well as defender. In the case of Inanna specifically, she sent the Heavenly Bull down to wage war on Gilgamesh when he did not return her advances. Gilgamesh’s ally, Enkidu, tore the Bull apart and hurled it into the sky, speaking to the above point about Taurus as sacrifice from which the world springs as providing a story for how the Bull landed among the stars.

Taurus’ association with these ancient Goddesses of love, sex, fertility, and war help shed light on why the sign itself is so strongly associated with sexual pleasure, fecundity, and pleasure in a more general sense. This connection between Taurus and the Goddesses also speaks to why the classics understood Taurus to be ruled by the planet Venus, the planet that had long been associated with both Ishtar and Inanna. Good food, good sex, and a life lived filled with simple pleasure and enjoyment are hallmarks of the Bull.

For the Greeks Taurus shows up in a variety of situations. It is the Bull that Zeus turns into when he abducts Europa, while the mortal woman Io is transformed into a Bull by Zeus when he fears that Hera will find his lover and kill her, the Cretan Bull (and father of the Minotaur) is the famous Taurus that a mortal woman fell in love with and that Hercules was tasked with capturing. In the cluster of Greek stories one of the aspects of Taurus that stands out is strength and endurance. In each case the Bull is chosen – either as the best animal to turn into to avoid capture or worse, or as the animal the hero must conquer in order to prove his worth – because of its unusual strength and ability to protect itself.

Certain natural features like horns, powerful hooves, and exceptional strength all speak to the Bull’s power and endurance. The Inuit version of Taurus is one of the few that sees the starry constellation not as a Bull but as a Bear, specifically a Polar Bear that a number of dogs (all represented by stars of course) are holding at bay – this story too speaks to the strength and endurance long associated with this star sign.

The Druids and Celtic tribes also honored Taurus and several significant solar festivals were held at various points in the Sun’s journey through the star cluster. The Bull also shows up in several European myths, ballads, and fairytales. In folklore from the British Isles the Faerie Folk were believe to cultivate white Bulls and Cows that had red-tipped ears, and in the Ballad of Tam Lin one of the creatures that Tam Lin turns into before taking on his true form is that of the Bull.

This speaks to what I consider one of the deeper teachings of Taurus and that is the ability to hone in on what matters most, what is most essential, what is most deeply true and worthy of caring for, preserving, and protecting. Given this observation, it is not surprising that one of the most beloved figures, the Buddha himself, is thought to be a Taurus and his birthday is celebrated when the Sun is in Taurus – straightforward and simple is not the same as easy and Taurus understand that teaching more deeply than most.

Call on the Bull When:

  • You need to slow down and be patient.
  • You require a detail-oriented approach.
  • A difficult or daunting task is assigned to you.
  • You wish to cultivate strength and endurance.
  • You are seeking out more pleasure in your life.
  • You desire deeper, more satisfying, intimate and love-making experiences.
  • You need to be practical.
  • You are ready to refine and perfect a creative skill or project.
  • Fertility is desired.
  • You want to stand your ground.
  • Right relationship with money, finances, and cash flow is sought.
  • You are ready to see what is most essential.

Be Wary Of

  • Laziness – As Sara pointed out in her section, a Bull may seem to just be standing there and not doing very much but they are actually taking everything in. Sometimes, though, this is not the way that Taurus interacts in our own charts. One of the most sedentary signs, when Taurus is given the option of going out and doing stuff or hanging at home in their pajamas they tend to choose the second option. Comfort is good but Taurus has to steer clear of staying stuck in a comfort zone.
  • Self-Indulgence – Pursuit of pleasure is well and good but taking it too far can result in a nasty hangover. Taurus has to take care not to indulge too deeply in any one pleasure because they can easily become lost in it, making choices and taking actions that can hurt those around them in order to obtain a certain experience for themselves.
  • Tunnel Vision – Taurus’ desire for excellence is an excellent quality, but this fixed sign can sometimes become too fixed in their vision of what needs to happen and how it needs to work. This can create frustration, especially in cases where collaboration is called for. Taurus does well to remember that usually their way is not the only way to accomplish any given task.
  • Heaviness – Here we look at heaviness not in terms of weight gain – although sedentary Taurus can gain weight easier than most if there is no exercise, but rather in terms of mood. Sometimes Taurus flips and everything becomes not about pleasure but seriousness and intensity. This is when we have to remind Taurus to have fun, to take time out not to have an existential crisis but rather to smell the roses.
  • Strength – The strength and ability to endure is one of Taurus’ greatest assets but it can also be a liability. Sometimes Taurus can encourage us to feel that no one is as strong, capable, or practical as we are, so we just have to do everything ourselves. Partnership is key.

Questions to Ponder:

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

  • What is real strength?
  • How much do I enjoy life?
  • What is my greatest pleasure?
  • Where do I want to have more pleasure and ease?
  • What art and/or creative endeavor am I committed to?
  • How is my relationship to money, cash flow, and wealth?
  • What am I willing to stand up for?
  • What is a constant for me?
  • What area of life feels especially fertile and full of possibility right now?

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 the middle of a green meadow in high spring. There are flowers all around and you can hear the buzzing of bees and see the fluttering of butterflies out of the corner of your eyes.

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 Bull. Acknowledge that it does not matter where Taurus 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, close your eyes and take a deep breath in. Breathing out in gratitude, become even more acutely aware of your surroundings and as you do, see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that the earth begins to shake beneath your feet.
Boom!
Boom!!
Boom!!!
See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel a large shadow cover you, blotting out the morning sun and as you open your eyes to discover what could be casting such a large shadow you encounter the largest Bull you have ever seen.

Take some time to note what this Bull looks like to you – for it is a messenger from Taurus and has much to share. What color is its hide? How long are its horns? Is it decorated in any specific manner? Take time to note all of these details.

As you are ready, see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that there is a long, braided bridle fastened to a collar around the Bull’s neck. The creature’s heavy and hot breath moves across your face and hands. Affirm and acknowledge with your inner knowing that the Bull wishes to lead you to a specific place today and desires that you take him by the bridle so that he might lead the way.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel grasping the bridle as the Bull begins to move very slowly through the meadow. As the Bull moves, become aware of the passage of time, the grass against your skin, the air that is heavy with birdsong. Allowing the Bull to lead you, let yourself simply enjoy being in this beautiful place.

Affirm and acknowledge that the Bull is leading you into a shaded glen where you will come face to face with one quality that matters deeply to you, that is a part of your life and experience ever and always.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel the large animal’s strength as it leads you to something that you deeply value. Take time to reflect on what you find here.

As a final act, turn to the Bull itself and ask it how you can best be constant and committed to your values.

Reflect on the answer you receive and offer up a gift of thanks for this most ancient of star signs.

Altar/Ritual

The Bull puts you in touch with your body and grounds you in your own skin. The Bull is all about his physical presence, but is also extremely subtle. For Bull, I suggest moving meditation, but in a slow and deliberate way.

Think about the movements of Qi Gong or Tai Chi; the slow transition between, and stillness of, Yoga poses. Walking a labyrinth is another type of moving meditation that puts you in touch with your physical presence on the path.

As you move slowly and breath deeply, you may fall into a sort of trance state. Use the rhythm of your breath in combination with your steady movement to attune yourself to your environment and your inner sensations. Bull is methodical and deliberate with his actions and very grounded in his own sensory experience. Be deliberate and full of purpose with your motions while using your breath to stay grounded in your sensory observations.

Afterward, be sure to drink plenty of water and take time to reflect on what you experienced in your body and mind during the exercise.

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 ~ Aries the Ram

Divination and Dreams

I

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.

A Litany of Blessings For You, For Your Friends, and To Share

Prayer and Blessing

M

arch 1st is a magical day for me.

It is the day that my little boy was born, 6 years ago now, and I became his momma.

I don’t talk about my son very much in the public sphere, not because he does not occupy my thoughts (he is the center of them always) but because in the age of internet everything, I respect his privacy, my privacy, the privacy of our family and I want to give him the opportunity to decide when, what, how, and with whom he wants to share. Sovereignty starts early.

That said, he, along with his dad, are two of my greatest blessings. And I firmly believe that one should be blessed and be a blessing in turn, so it’s time to share, in honor of him.

Here they are: A Litany of Blessings. Every daily blessing I have written in aural (audio + oral) magic.

Let them wash over you. Listen to a few or to the entire 40+ minute track, share it with a friend for maximum blessings awesome.

 

And happy birthday Jasper; thank you for blessing me.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.