Fomalhaut – Watcher of the South

According to Ptolemy, Fomalhaut, in Piscis Australis and Watcher of the South, is of the nature of Venus and Mercury. It is generally a fortunate star and indeed very powerful and yet to cause “malevolence of sublime scope and character, and change from a material to a spiritual form of expression. Cardan stated that together with the stars rising with 12 Gemini it gives an immortal name.” [Robson*, p.165-166.]

The name Fomalhaut comes from the Arabic meaning Fish’s Mouth, which is how Ptolemy described it Fomalhaut is a very bright star among dim ones This makes it easy to see, but the constellation isn’t a great deal of help in finding it. In the heavens, the fish can be seen drinking water flowing from the jar of Aquarius. Other stories credit the stellar fish swallowing the waters of the great deluge, thus saving the world. The Fish is interpreted as a saviour in several traditions, including Hinduism and one of the main manifestations of Vishnu is as the Cosmic Fish.

According to the brief account of Eratosthenes, the Syrian fertility goddess Derceto (the Greek name for Atargatis) is supposed to have fallen into a lake at Bambyce near the Euphrates river in Syria and was saved by a large fish. Hyginus says, in a repetition of his note on Pisces, that as a result of this the Syrians do not eat fish but rather they worship the images of fish as gods. See Ian Ridpath Star Tales and my own article on the origins of Pisces entitled “Ikhthus Unchained.”

Canopus, alongside Achernar and Fomalhaut, which are corresponding stars in Eridanus and Piscis Australis, made up the Tre Facelle of Dante’s Purgatory, symbolizing Faith, Hope, and Charity:

“When the Southern Fish rises into the heavens, leaving its native waters for a foreign element, whoever at this hour takes hold of life will spend his years about sea-shore and river-bank he will capture fish as they swim poised in the hidden depths; he will cast his greedy eyes into the midst of the waters, craving to gather pellucid stones (pearls) and, immersed himself, will bring them forth together with the homes of protective shell wherein they lurk. No peril is left for man to brave, profit is sought by means of shipwreck, and the diver who has plunged into the depths becomes, like the booty, the object of recovery. And not always small is the gain to be derived from this dangerous labor (implying that a diver’s life was usually an unenviable one) pearls are worth fortunes, and because of these splendid stones there is scarcely a rich man left. Dwellers on land are burdened with the treasures of the sea. A man born to such a lot plies his skill along the shore; or he purchases at a fixed wage another’s labor and sells for a profit what it has brought him, a pedlar in the many different forms of sea products”. [Manilius, Astronomica, 1st century AD, book 5, p.333.]

To move from the absurd to the sublime, the association of Venus and Mercury is a very apt one. Gabriel is the messenger Archangel and Aquarius is the human face among the four Fixed Signs. An image of Gabriel can often be found in the Southern areas of Churches.

Saint St Archangel Gabriel Christian Russian Handpainted Orthodox Byzantine Icon

Fomalhaut can bring unexpected honours as symbolized in Gabriel’s role in the Annunciation.

The Babylonians are credited with identifying the water-bearer pouring out water to a giant fish. The water-bearer represented their god Ea, and he ruled the period either side of the winter solstice when Babylon was subject to flooding. The Great Fish was supposed to be the parent of the Pisces fishes, in both Babylonian and Greek myth.

The Mercurial nature becomes very clear in nativities that have a close association of Fomalhaut and Mercury. Conjunctions produce strong intellects unless otherwise diminished.

One thought on “Fomalhaut – Watcher of the South

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s