Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of December 28th - January 3rd,  2002

Big O

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   Last week we offered one version of the tale of Orion. This is the time of the year when, as the Sun sets and darkness begins to cover the land, the most handsome and striking of the constellations of heaven is seen rising in the East, climbing higher into heaven, ever vigilant for his arch nemesis, the Scorpion. It is generally acknowledged the tale of Orion is a sky myth. The observation is simple. As Orion sets in the west, Scorpio is seen rising in the East.

   As Aratos once said,

   When the Scorpion comes
Orion flies to utmost end of earth.

Big O

Orion Rising

   But there is more than this to the interpretation of the myth. Astrologers have long believed that the real power of the constellations is contained in the stars themselves. Each has an inherent character which is recorded in the fabric of the myth. Some of these facets do indeed reflect astronomical notions. For instance, the 'Belt' of Orion, the three bright stars in the middle of the constellation, was thought of by the Chinese as a 'weighing beam.' The Arabs had similar associations. Mintaka is the lead star of this group, a name which translates as 'Belt.' Mintaka is currently the closest prominent star to the celestial equator. That means it's rising and setting basically mark due East and West on the horizons. Circa 1500 BC, the middle star of the Belt held this honor. In effect, the Belt of Orion has marked the half way point of heaven for literally thousands of years, and suggests one reason why this group of stars might have been known as a weighing beam.

   Homer called Orion a giant, and later myths underscore this. The notion of Orion as a warrior or hunter was also a popular theme. The Irish thought of him as Caomai, the armed King. But martial honors mean martial conflict, and Orion was ever battling, and often losing.

Big O and the Aurora

Big O and the Aurora

   Betelgeuze is a Red Giant. Astrologers thought of red stars as connoting war and carnage, offspring of war. It's label is Alpha Orionis. If properly positioned in an astrological chart, it portended luck, wealth, success and everlasting fame, together with martial honors and other kingly attributes. The name, Betelgeuse, comes from the Arabic, Ibt al Jauzah, 'the Armpit of the Central One.' This is because his right arm (what we see in the sky on the left), is raised over his head, holding a club.

   Bellatrix is the other shoulder of Orion, the one holding up the shield against the charge of the Bull. Bellatrix is Gamma Orionis, and has been called the Amazon Star. One of its Arabic titles called it Al Murzim al Najid, the Roaring Conqueror.

   Rigel is Beta Orionis, and represents the forward thrust knee. Astrologically, this star represents a quick rise in life due to a strong inherent willpower, but a constant battle must be waged in order to maintain such a position.

   Currently, Betelgeuze is located at 28 degrees 45', Bellatrix 20 degrees 57', and Rigel at 16 degrees 50', all in Gemini. Each of these stars were said by Ptolemy to have had a Martial influence, in the shoulders combining with Mercury (hence the Announcer, Roarer, and roaring, and all the declarations that occur in the myth), while Jupiter's influence was also felt in the knee (Rigel), and indicated huge martial efforts, together with huge martial opponents.

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