The Solstices and the two Equinox are of great significance. For Mundane astrologers, they are consulted along with the ingress of the planets, eclipses and a variety of other elements, depending on exactly what is being sought.
The rule has it that Fixed Signs signify a longer period of the effect than Cardinal, and Mutable is even shorter. A Solstice or Equinox chart is valid for the season it heralds. Most obviously, each season is greeted by a different element. All are in Cardinal Signs. Cardinal initiates. Aries is Cardinal Fire and heralds the Spring, Libra heralds Autumn & Capricorn, winter. Along with these markers of the seasons, there are some interesting elements that are seldom considered. For example. Capricorn is the Detriment of the Moon and Libra is the Fall of the Sun. Cancer is the domicile of the Moon, as Leo is the domicile of the Sun. The luminaries are considered to be Peregrine, so in all the aforementioned cases of the four divisions, there is always intrigue.
But first and foremost, these times are particularly powerful and should be greeted in the spirit of reverence and celebration, of conscious reception. This moment is a point in a much larger cycle. The Summer Solstice heralds not only Summer itself but the two Royal Signs – indicative of the Queen & King. The Sun and Moon rule only one sign each. These archetypes are particularly powerful and the Summer Solstice sparks celebrations all over the world. It’s also the great pivotal point between the waxing and waning light. Just as Winter Solstice is the longest night, Summer Solstice is the longest day. In a Celtic tradition, a flaming arrow was shot towards the Sun as it rose, adding fire to fire.
The Celts had eight major festivals and four of them coincided with the tow Equinoctial and Solstitial periods. The Summer Solstice is called Litha. It was a time of clearing, a time to banish evil spirits to make way for a celebration of the light at its zenith and assure an abundant harvest. Feasting, music, and dancing took place. Bonfires were lit in celebration.
This is where the grand picture of astrology comes into play. We are reminded that events of this magnitude affect us all in some way and recognition of this is important. This isn’t primarily a personal chart, but it is certainly a collective one. The image blow shows the stars in the constellation of Cancer the Crab: Manilus writes:
“Shining at the hinge of the year by the blazing turning-point which when recalled the Sun rounds in his course on high, the Crab occupies a joint of heaven and bends back the length of day. Of a grasping spirit and unwilling to give itself in service the Crab distributes many kinds of gain, and skill in making profits; he enables a man to carry his investment of foreign merchandise from city to city and, with an eye on steep rises in the price of corn, to risk his money upon sea-winds; to sell the world’s produce to the world, to establish commercial ties between so many unknown lands, to search out under foreign skies fresh sources of gain, and from the high price of his goods to amass sudden wealth. With heaven’s favor he also sells seasons of idleness at rates of interest to his liking, wishing the swift passage of time to add to the principal. His is a shrewd nature, and he is ready to fight for his profits.” [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, book 4, p.235.]
Most of the stars in Cancer are relatively obscure and rarely mentioned. However, the left claw holds the Arabic-named Acumen’s, which translates to ‘the Claw.’ Arabian astrologers also give this name to one of the Lunar Mansions. This should not be confused with two stars in Libra, named Zubenelgenubi, Zubeneshamali, the”Northern Claw” and Southern Claw respectively.
The initial portion of Cancer relates to the eighth Lunar Mansion (0 Cancer to 12 Cancer 51) named Aluayra or Al Nathra. In Indian tradition, this Mansion is good for cutting new clothes, for women’s jewelry and putting it on. Rain will bring benefits, not damage, but this is not a good time to travel, except for the third part of the night. Arabian astrologers added that it causes love, friendship, and society of fellow travelers.
With all these things in mind, the chart for the exact moment of the Ingress of the Sun in Cancer takes on greater meaning.
There are a few salient elements I would like to point out in this chart. Such charts often either lean on the gloomy side or are manically, even blindly, optimistic.
Mars and the Moon are never a good mix. The Moon is Martial Scorpio is in her Fall and Mars is in his Fall in Cancer. Like Saturn, Mars is worst when the most afflicted. In the 7th House, he is an open enemy. He’s in the decanate of Mercury which makes him that much more explosive; nevertheless, something needs to trigger the outburst. This position on a chart for the Pacific coast is prime for a maritime disaster, but nothing on a grand scale, such as a major earthquake.
The second focus is the 5th House. The Moon is Exalted in Taurus, with Venus in her Domicile and the Parts of Courage and Necessity. Moreover, Mercury is strong and resilient in Gemini with the Part of Venus (Eros). This is a veritable garden of Venusian creativity, involving Mercury, and the Sun. This ought to be an encouragement to creativity versus negativity, despair or simple lethargy.
Jupiter is in the Exaltation of Saturn, but he’s still Jupiter and in the 10th House. The 11th House of Greater Fortune has the Part of Spirit and Victory, but also Nemesis.
Human life on this plane is always an admixture of fortunes. The Summer Solstice is a time to celebrate the light in whatever way speaks to you.
The Octave, Tuning, Intervals, Circle of Fifths, Proportion …
The following video serves as a brilliant and succinct introduction to Pythagorean Tuning. Pythagorean Theory and Music speaks to essential elements of Astrology.
Wishing Everyone a Great Spring Equinox / Nouruz The Chart is Set for GMT.
The celebration of the New Year in one way or another is virtually universal, although what is recognized as the new year differs. In the Western world, including that of the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Winter Solstice is central in the Northern Hemisphere. Some forms of European Paganism take Samhain or All Saint’s Day as the marker for the New Year. In Mithraism, the Winter Solstice, while Zoroastrianism, often conflated with Mithraism, takes the Spring Solstice and Entrance of the Sun into Aries, the Sun’s place of Exaltation
In Mithraism, the Winter Solstice, while Zoroastrianism, often conflated with Mithraism, takes the Spring Solstice and Entrance of the Sun into Aries, the Sun’s place of Exaltation
Traditional Astrologers always use 00°Aries. This calculation holds a very important place because it’s considered the Chart of the Year. The planet or luminary with the greatest Essential and Accidental Dignity is the Lord of the Year (LOY). This year, the Sun is overwhelmingly the LOY! If the chart were cast elsewhere, where the Sun were below the horizon, and perhaps in a cadent house, it would not be surprising to find another body take his place as LOY.
Because this chart is of greatest use in the GMT Time Zone and with a northerly latitude, it speaks most obviously to the UK. I invite you to reproduce this chart for different regions. However, no matter where it is, that tight conjunction of the Moon and Saturn by itself doesn’t bode well.
Nevertheless, this is no time to be worrying. Nouruz has things in common with Easter, such as fertility (including eggs) and the theme of resurrection – the triumphant return of the Sun is all its blazing glory. These are metaphors to be sure.
Zoroastrianism is almost certainly the oldest monotheistic religions, with roots in Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, India and Central Asia. Today, it is also celebrated in Afghanistan Azerbaijan, Russian Federation Kazakhstan Uzbekistan Pakistan and Turkey.
That Nouruz survives after thousands of years and calculated at the same time of year, testifies to its extraordinary power. Zoroastrianism is famously optimistic and the eternal flames are kept in her temples. This fire festival is one of sheer exuberance, joy, and gratitude. The Sun is the bringer and origin of life
Revelers jump bonfires and eat ashes to celebrate the first day of Spring and the Sun in his Exaltation.
“All evil vanishes from he who keeps the Sun in his heart.” – Indian proverb
Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rushd (Latinized as Averroes), lived from 14 April 1126 – 10 December 1198. He was a Medieval Andalusian polymath who wrote profusely on logic, Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy, theology, the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, psychology, political and Andalusian classical music theory, geography and mathematics, Averroes is of great importance in Islamic philosophy for multiple reasons. He argued for the reconciliation of reason with revealed religion, pointing out passages from the Qu’ran to support his position. He was a powerful proponent of Astrology for the same reasons. He was accused of shirk or polytheism, for referring to the planets, and most particularly Venus, as if they were divine. He was exiled but eventually embraced back into court in Morroco.
This first and foremost a blog devoted to Ancient and Classical Astrology. I recently had the pleasure of responding to a young person who wanted to learn Traditional Astrology and Shamanism. Throughout most of its history astrologers have also been concerned with medicine, magic, philosophy and often music. The Shamanic path is one way to discern other states of being, or indeed to discern the nature of spirits. This includes the spirits of nature. This is by way of saying that we can’t just talk about astrology without talking about its concomitant associations. Shamanism is probably the most misunderstood of them all. This article is nothing more than the most basic introduction to the subject of Shamanism, with a few comments and suggestions.
Shamanism is certainly an ancient practise. Some scholars claim it comes down to us from the Paleolithic period. It is and was widely spread and took on differing forms with some element remaining fairly constant. There is a Shamanic tradition in Japan, Siberia, Oceana, Meso-America, Indonesia, the Celtic World and dozens of other locations in as many traditions. Shamanism is not something static. While some things remain, others are replaced. It has to be relevant to the individual and the society or else we would be doing something like playing dress up, merely imitating something we barely understand, if at all. I’m not a fan of structured courses that cost money and result in letter after your name. To me, that is to completely miss the point. Shamanism is not an academic study and neither can it be learned by simply taking courses. In order for the power to be there, it must be authentic. It is an act of art.
Chogyam Trungpa coined the phrase “cutting through spiritual materialism.” The trappings of ancient Shamanism are best discarded until we find out just how our own Shamanism will be imagined and manifest. This works from the inside out. Some will argue against using ancient Shamanic costumes, accouterments, and ritual because it constitutes a cultural appropriation. Even if you disagree with this, the problem remains that we would be mimicking something without a real understanding of what is taking place. Subtle moves or details of sound may have more meaning thatn we realize.
While some things remain, others are replaced. For example, the shamanic hand drum may be made of stretched goat skin, reindeer hide or elk, but is virtually the same in dozens of cultures around the world. Singing, chanting, and dancing in one form or another universal. Beyond these essential elements, there is rich diversity. In no small part, this is due to the time, the larger cultural context and the reaction and relationship to the land. We would expect there to be vastly differents aesthetics from the Tundra to the jungles of Costa Rica.
For good or bad, we are no longer primitives. Our languages have become complex, our feet rarely touch the Earth, we are no longer homogenous societies and the food we eat may come from half way around the world. The drone of our cities is incessant. There are now people who cannot identify a single constellation. Some can’t even see the stars through the smog. We can, however, be authentic and find creative ways to celebrate that. We all have a responsibility to shield and nurture nature in all its forms.
Music can be made by anyone. There was a survey done in school years ago. When children in the first grade were asked whether they could dance and sing, close to 100 % raised their hands. Three years later, only one or two children raised their hands. The fact is that everyone can dance and everyone can sing. You are likely to need practise in both and may find there are some limitations, such as singing range. You have heard the exhortation “dance like nobody is watching” You need to learn how to move energy and your body is the obvious place to start.
Drums, flutes, and bells can be played. There is no wrong way to a play hand drum, but remember it speaks of the heart and should be beaten gently and most of all with reverence.The colours and the scents we choose are all part of creating a sacred space. What you intend to do in that sacred place will determine which senses are invoked and in what way. If you are using incense for a Solar based ritual, frankincense and sandalwood are a good choice. candles and bonfires can be used to great effect.
Many shamans prefer to use local botanicals, such as sage for cleaning and sweetgrass to fill a vacuum. Personally, the planets and phases of the Moon are always a consideration. Remember that rituals can include planting crops with intent. There is no such thing as a sacred drum until the player makes it so. Above all things is the power of intention. Here is where a keen consciousness is of the utmost necessity. These generally require time to cultivate and preferably in good company.
Shamanism is not something unchangeable, any more than Traditional Astrology is a burned out cinder that has to be mimicked. The tradition lives and breathes in those who venerate her. While some things remain, others are replaced. It has to be relevant to the individual and the society or else we would be doing something like playing dress up, merely imitating something we barely understand, if at all.
There is a disconcerting trend in the contemporary Western world to pretend that Shamanism is hereditary and can be taught in a fairly short period of time for the right price. First of all, anyone can claim to an hereditary Shaman. After all, it was passed down orally. Secondly, the idea that you can learn to be a shaman as one might learn to be a racing car driver or a carpenter is false.
The Shaman learns how to access the Spirit World while knowing it is inseparable from any and all dimensions of existence. One must be authentic and any difficulties of may be worked through by affirmations, inner and outer, to believe your connection to the spirit world is real.
The path of the Shaman is not for everyone. However for those who feel a strong affinity to this path. I have a few simple suggestions. Find someone you trust and feel comfortable with – someone who is wise.
Learn to quiet your mind. Spend time in nature, studying the movement of the clouds, the sound of the water, the way the trees nurture each other, the way a bird uses its wings and seek the silence and power of the stag. See how even stones are not entirely solid. Everything has more space than matter.
Symbols hold power for millennia. Perhaps the oldest symbol is the circle with a spot in the centre. It illustrates the infinity of Spirit and the dot represents the potential for creation. Even one symbol like this can be used with great efficacy. Solar symbols such as the swastika are ancient, albeit tainted for many people by its association with Nazism. The spiral is also ubiquitous and is seen throughout nature and in galaxies themselves. There are many symbols made up of countless versions of the cross of matter. The Lunar symbol is also a rich source of meaning.
Make devotional music that is authentically your – music that speaks from the soul. It can begin with a simple ringing of a bell, the tapping of wood against trees, find a drum that resonates with you. Listen to the difference in sound from hand drumming to using a stick bound with leather at the tip. The beat that comes naturally may then be accompanied by movement or dance.
More than anything else, know that everything is interconnected and that thoughts are things. We tend to think that Shamanism is completely alien to Philosophy, but the great Neo-Platonic philosopher Plotinus wrote ” Stars are like letters that are inscribed at every moment in the sky. In the whole world, it is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on all the others. As it has been said: everything breathes together.”
Shamanism is a means to liberation and the dance should be both sacred and pleasurable.
Below is a video from a Polish group known as Laboratorium Piesni. They’ve taken a traditional form of singing and made it contemporary. The focal points for this group are the land and tradition. The complete work with colours, drums, and dance has the ability to transport the participants and audience.
Christine Hayes is Professor of Religious Studies in Classical Judaica. Before joining the Yale faculty in 1996, she was Assistant Professor of Hebrew Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University.