Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of May 14th - May 20th,  2004

Chapter XV

"Quick as a thought in a man's mind."

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Gemini, the Twins

Gemini, the Twins

  This week we examine the third of the three Spring time energies, Gemini. This is the sign of duality, identified by the Roman numeral II, indicating the twins or siblings of heaven. This sign is ruled by Mercury, the messenger of the Gods, who flies as fleet as thought to do their bidding. It represents travelors, trips and journeys. Together, both planet and sign rule communication, of words, promises, plans, the mind, one's wits, the voice, arguments, speeches, shouting, cleverness and trickery. The story of Mercury's birth describes how, when he was yet a day old, he invented the lyre, stole Apollo's cattle, hid them by driving them backwards, and then protested that he couldn't have committed the crime, because he was, after all, only a one day old infant! His Roman equivalent, Mercury, was said to be the Lord of Thieves. Gemini is a mutable air sign, which means its quality changes. It rules the creatures of the air, our breath, lungs and sky above. In the body, it is said to rule the hands.

Gemini- Mirror Image

Mirror Image

  All of these images and more come to the fore as we examine Chapter 15 of Homer's Iliad. Having equated the seasonal order of the signs to the first 12 chapters, Homer repeats the cycle, with Chapter 13 representing Aries (again), Chapter 14 Taurus, and Chapter 15 Gemini, etc. In this chapter, Zeus realizes that he has been duped by Hera, as he awakes and sees that the battle has been turned while he slept. Here four of our Mercurial images combine, that of the the mind, hand, trickster, and air (wind and cloud).

  "Fine underhanded work, eternal bitch!"
"Do you forget swinging so high that day?...
under open heaven amid white cloud..."
"You and the north wind had connived, sent gales
against that man, brewed up sea-perils for him..."
"These things I call to mind once more
to see to it that you mend your crooked ways.
Learn what you gain by lechery with me,
tricking me into it!"

  And following this encounter, Hera moves with Mercurial (mental) quickness,

  "...from Ida's crests she flashed to high Olympos
quick as a thought in a man's mind.
Far and wide a journeying man may know
the earth and with his many desires may dream,
"Now let me be in that place or the other!
Even so instantaneously Queen Hera
passed to steep Olympos."

Iris, winged messenger of Zeus

Iris, Winged
Messenger of Zeus

  And indeed, Iris, the messenger of Zeus, moves with the wind (air) in this chapter:

  "Then running on the wind
swift Iris carried out his order
. Down
from Ida's hills she went to Ilion,
as snow or hail fies cold from winter cloud,
driven by north wind born in heights of air.
So Iris flew in swiftness of desire,
halting beside the Earthshaker to say:

  And in another air image, we are shown how in this chapter, air is preceived as the essence of life. Hektor recovers, having been knocked unconsciousness by a powerful blow.

  "In fact I thought this day I'd see the dead
in the underworld- I thought I had breathed my last!"

  The mutable (changeable) side of Gemini emerges as Iris, after hearing a dour response from Poseidon to the ultimatum of Zeus, asks if that is his final answer:

Iris, winged messenger of Zeus


  "Wind-swift Iris answered:
"Shall I put it
just that way
, god of the dark blue tresses,
bearing this hostile message back to Zeus?
Or will you make some change? All princely hearts
are capable of changing. And, you know,
the Furies take the part of the elder brothers!"

  (Notice the sibling theme being slipped in here.)

  "Poseidon made reply:
"Excellent Iris,
very well said; that is a point well taken;
it is a fine thing when a messenger
knows what is fitting."

God's Hand

God's Hand

  The images continue to flow; with the air sign representatives of birds this time. Notice it is Zeus's hand that gives Hektor strength,

  "Like an eagle
flashing down on a flock of long-winged birds

who feed at riverside- white geese or cranes
or long-necked swans
- so Hektor struck ahead
and charged a ship with its black prow, for Zeus
behind him drove him on with his great hand..."

  Hands are mentioned in this chapter at least twenty times. Zeus's hand, the builder's hands, grief's at hand, laying hands on everyone, etc. Here are a few examples:

  "In a flash he'll turn from Trojans and Akhaians
and create pandemonium on Olympus
laying hands on everyone alike
guilty or not."

Creation in His Hands

Creation in His Hands

  "But if you disobey or disregard him,
he warns you he will take a hand in war
against you, coming here himself."

  "But it is better far for both
even though he hates it he gives way
before my almighty hands."

  "Backed up on the ships, they waited
crying out to each other, lifting prayerful
hands to all the gods.
Gerenian Nestor,
lord of the western approaches to Akhaia
stretching his hands out to the sky of stars, prayed..."

  "...Patroklos stayed
inside the shelter with Eurypylos...
but when he knew the Trojans had crossed over,
knew by their cry the Danaans were in rout,
he groaned and smote his thighs with open hands,
and miserably he said..."

Builder's hands

Builder's hands

  "But as a chalkline in a builder's hands-
a man who learned his whole craft from Athena-
makes a deck-beam come out straight, just so
the line of battle had been sharply drawn."

  " the torch fell from his hand."

  "Teukros took it all in, and on the run
he came to join his brother. In his hand
he held the strung bow and a quiver of arrows."

  "...the bow dropped from his hands..."

  "Easy to see how men get strength from Zeus:
on the one hand, when he gives them glory,
on the other, when he saps their enemies."

  "Friends, Danaan soldiers, hand of Ares,
take a fresh grip on courage! Fight like men!"

  Is it a coincidence that this image should be used, over and over, in the chapter that would astrologically deal with hands? Or is this a literary device, as we have seen in both Iliad and Bible, where certain images will appear in their respective chapters, and then be used repeatedly like a refrain in a song. Notice that Teukros came to join his brother (sibling- Gemini) in the battle. What is listed here are a few, but not all, of the examples of hands from this chapter.

  Gemini is the sign of the mind, thinking, speaking, and logic. On the up side, one uses good logic. Here is what happens on the flip side. Athena chastizes Ares, who wants to rush back into battle when he learns that his son has been killed, but would do so against the will of Zeus...

  "She removed the helm
from Ares head, the great shield from his shoulder,
and laid his spear down, lifted from his hand.
Then she spoke to rebuke the angry god:
'You've lost your mind, mad one, this is your ruin!
No use your having ears to listen with-
your self-possession and your wits are gone."

  These images and others are all there. The end of the chapter is a shouting match, between Hektor, attempting to urge on the Trojans, and Aias, attempting to do the same for the Greeks. First Hektor:

  "Hektor had seen that weaponry undone,
and now he shouted to Trojans and Lykians..."



  And in response:

  "But from the opposing line Aias called out
to his companions: 'Argives, where is your pride?..
No invitation to dance, that shouting, but to a fight."

  The Iliad was designed to be a beginner's astrological primer, not simply a laundry list of what items, actions and personalities are demonstrated by each of the signs of the zodiac (as so many texts today do), but by showing how these energies play out on the stage of life, each chapter illustrating both their good and bad qualities, their high and low sides. It is the will of heaven which weaves all of these attributes together, in this case a Geminian example, by divine design.

  "At this he smiled, the father of gods and men,
and lightly came his words upon the air..."