Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of October 14th - October 20th,  2011

Claws of the Scorpion

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Chinese Zodiac

Chinese Zodiac

        There are twelve signs of the zodiac, generally derived from the twelve constellations of the zodiac. But the signature of the stars has changed over the course of time, depending on what period you are contemplating, and what people.

        As it stands today, there are twelve signs of the zodiac, each 30 degrees large, commencing at zero degrees of Aries and running through 360 degrees. This is called the Tropical Zodiac because it is hard-wired to the Seasons. When day and night stand in balance and the Sun sits poised over the Earth's equator we have the start of Spring and Fall. That is the way our system of keeping time works.

        But that's not how it looks if you look up at the night sky. Heaven is not divided into a dozen equally spaced slices of pie. Rather, it is sprinkled with little points of light that form patterns we have come to recognize.

the Human Zodiac

Notice how all the AIR signs
are sometimes depicted as human

        There are three and a half signs of the zodiac that could arguably be called human. The two twins, Gemini, is the first, while Virgo the Virgin, is the second. Aquarius, the water-bearer ranks in at third. Sagittarius is our half point, as his forequarters are human, but the rest of him isn't.

        If we lump all the 'non-humans' into a camp we have Aries, Taurus, and Leo. This is where we add the Sagittarian equine half point. Add our crustaceans and sea-life and we have the Crab, Scorpion and Fish.

        Only one sign of the zodiac has generally been depicted as non-animate, and those are the Scales of the Zodiac, Libra.

        It is generally acknowledged that this constellation was so named as the Autumnal Equinox moved through this part of the sky. The Romans admitted that they were responsible for this transition, Geminos and Varro among them, while some of our earliest Greek writers do not call it the 'Scales,' but rather, the 'Claws of the Scorpion.' There were once 11 signs, with Scorpio a double-sign.

Scorpion sting

The sting of the Scorpion

        It was said by the pagans that Justice was the last of the divine gods to leave the Earth, when conditions finally became too corrupt for Her to stand it any more. Perhaps that's the reason why there's no human form left to hold the Scales, to help find peace, justice and balance for our time. Long ago she turned, placing the scales, yoke or beam (all different symbols for the act of taking measure that have been used by the sign), on the ground at her feet and rose aloft. But just as the constellational images were changed to accommodate the continually shifting cardinal points, turning Claws of the Scorpio into the Balance of Justice, so we have lost touch with this art.

        As the Roman Empire was wearing down, the Scales failed as an instrument of Autumnal measure. This year, the Sun will be coursing along the stars of Claws of the Scorpion from about November 1st through the 23rd. As a people, we have forgotten how to craft the contours of Heaven, to get them to best reflect our reality while hear on Earth. The time of scandal and corruption are coming to a close, although they still have their hand to play for years yet.

        And where have the stars of Justice left the Earth for, lo, those many years ago?

        They're obscurred by the Claws of the Scorpion.


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