Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of July 7th - July 13th, 2006

Orpheus Full Moon

Columns Archive

  (Hello WEBFans! I would just like to apologize for the lateness of this week's column, but I am traveling on honeymoon through Italy (at the moment), and finding Internet providers has been, how you say, interesting. Blessings!)

  This Monday at 11:02 PM EDT, the Full Moon illuminates the 18th degree and 42nd minute of Capricorn. Since this Full Moon aligns with a star from Lyra (a figure in the heavens usually translated as a lyre or harp), we might anticipate cords in the Moonlight hypnotizing all with its melodious strain. Our pied piper of antiquity, the story goes that the strings of Orpheus seduced all to its will.


Orpheus, turning back before he has reached the upper world,
only to see the shade of his deceased wife slip
back into the Hades Underworld.

  The star in Lyra being triggered by the Moon is Sheliak. It's name is from the Arabic 'Al Shilyak', which translates as 'tortoise'. The four stars of Lyra form a parallelogram, and many have thought to see in this the frame against which the strings of the harp are strung. Greek myth states that on the first day of his birth Hermes set out of his cave and came across the tortoise, which he killed and, using his shell as a sound box, invented the harp. In this story we find both the shell and harp as a single setting of stars in heaven. Hermes later gave the Harp to Apollo (as a sort of plea bargain), who in turn gave it to Orpheus.

  Among astrologers, this constellation was felt to have a Venusian/Mercurial nature. They are so designated by Ptolemy in his Tetrabiblos. One of the reasons the ancients grouped the stars of a particular nature togehter was because they felt they carried a similiar vibration. On the bright side people with stars of Lyra were thought to be harmonious, poetical and refined, fond of music, but inclined to theft. A Venus Mercury nature makes folks eloquent of speech, witty and diplomatic. Manilius (Astronomica, 1st century AD), went further to explain the mythological influences this way:

The stars of Lyra

The stars of Lyra

  "Once with it did Orpheus... impart sleep to waves, feeling to rocks, hearing to trees, tears to Pluto, and finally a limit to death. Hence will come endowments of song and tuneful strings, hence pipes of different shapes which prattle melodiously, and whatever is moved to utterance by touch or hand or force of breath. The child of the Lyre will sing beguiling songs at the banquet, his voice adding mellowness to the wine and holding the night in thrall. Indeed, even when harassed by cares, he will rehearse some secret strain, tuning his voice to a stealthy hum and, left to himself, he will ever burst into song which can charm no ears but his own."

  Manilius and Ptolemy are escentially saying the same thing, but Manilius takes the time to translate the 'meaning' of a Mercury/Venus nature. Mercury is communication, concepts, and words. Venus is harmony, rhythm, balance and beauty. Put Venus together with Mercury, and you get melidous songs. The lines go on to impart the ability to ferret out truths, crimes and evidence as an additional 'underworldly' attribute of this star. Orpheus is the one who loses his wife and dares to journey to the Underworld to get her back again.

  Because the Sun will also be paralleling Venus at around 8 the next morning, Monday evening promises to flush a powerful current of feeling which many will get up and dance to. The Sun is the vehicle of light and life. It animates, gives energy and takes action. The Sun paralleling Venus can translate that vitality into harmony and beauty, rhythm and dance.

  How will the other parts of the myth play out, however, remains to be seen. Orpheus, aside from his legendary skills, was known as a sad man, who dared, attempted and succeeded in going where no man had gone before, out of love for his deceased wife. Not all the tears of time had been able to change Pluto's mind until Orpheus, and yet in the twilight of the surface world it all slipped away before him. He had it all, lost it, got it back, and lost it again, forever.

  Still, there is no mention of that in Manilius, and it would seem that this is a time roll back the carpet and get out there and enjoy, even if it is a Monday.


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