Asteria & Artemis

ASTERIA & ARTEMIS | Leo, the Lion

The Lion as Leo

In modern astrology, Leo is painted as having simple wants and needs: recognition, creativity, and a pleasurable lifestyle. What this approach leaves out, however, is the deep psychological reasoning behind those desires.

If you've met a Leo, then you'll surely remember them. They make their presence known, with a dramatic flair and golden aura that both inspires and perplexes their celestial compatriots. Usually their reputation precedes them, as Leos are the performers of the zodiac. They thrive in the spotlight, whether on stage or as a leader of a team.

Leos have been lighting up rooms since ancient Babylon, where the constellation was called the Great Lion and has a countenance to match. Early astrologers relied more heavily on fixed stars for their interpretations, and Leo is home to a host of the most important fixed stars in the zodiac. Among them is Regulus, the King Star, or "the star that stands at the lion's breast". It bestows great ambition and independence, and with those, great success.

According to Greco-Roman myth, Leo's origin story -- like many of the other constellations -- comes from one of Hercules's Twelve Labors. Specifically, Hercules's first labor was to slay the crafty Nemean Lion, who took women prisoner and kept them as bait to lure heroic types from local towns for its dinner. It's unclear why it used such tactics, because its golden fur was already impenetrable to any mortal weapons! Either way, Athena spoke to Hercules, telling him that he would have to fight the beast with his bare hands. In the end he broke its back, hence the "sickle" shape in the constellation itself.

If that story seems a bit violent to you, you aren't alone: Roman poet Ovid gave Leo the Latin names of Herculeus Leo and Violentus Leo

Leo's epithet of Jovis et Junonis, or "Jupiter and Juno", also sheds some interesting light on the nature of the sign. Jupiter and Juno are the original power couple, whose regal relationship, though central to Greco-Roman myth, is inconstant at best and turbulent at worst. Here we see Leo as the king and queen shining through again, but this time, the responsibilities that come along with power become more weighty. This also, unfortunately, displays what's possible when Leo chooses to focus only on his or her individual needs instead of projecting his abilities outwards into the group. Performance, leadership, and generosity are central to the Leo identity, and without those, the amusements one can grasp only bring fleeting satisfaction and petty irritation.

Another one of Leo's names was Bacchus Sidhus, or "Star of Bacchus". Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, revelry, and wildness, was almost always depicted with cats of the Panthera family, including lions, leopards, and tigers. Whether he wore them as clothing, rode them as his mount, or was pulled by them in a chariot, these cats symbolized his completely untamed nature. That's one thing that doesn't always get discussed with Leo: there's a desire for unadulterated pleasure that, if it goes unchecked, can spiral out into a maenad-like frenzy. For some of them, it's spiritual. For others, it's escape. Consider that perhaps what Leo -- who has at times been maligned as "selfish" or "immature" -- is really trying to unlock here is ecstasy, or oneness with the divine through experience.

 

 

The Lion as Animal

By Sara Magnuson

Lion generally brings to mind power and strength. In fact, it's hard to see Lion's weaknesses for all its grandeur and magnificence. The strengths of Lion are obvious and many; nonetheless, let's paint a clear picture of this glorious creature.

Panthera leo is the second largest Cat after Tiger and lives primarily in savannas and open grassland. Lion is an apex predator and a keystone predator. This means that Lion is at the top of its food chain and it is prey to very few. As a keystone predator, Lion plays an important role in controlling the population of its prey. Weighing in at 400-500 lbs and 6-11 ft in length (including the tail), they are formidable to say the least. They can run up to 50 mph, strike their claws with over 300 lbs of force, and bite with over 600 lbs of pressure. Like all Cats, their senses of hearing, vision, and smell are exceptional and are most acute at night. Lions rest (i.e. lay around) for 16-20 hrs a day - again, like all Cats - but that's where their similarities end. 

Unlike any other Cat in the Felidae family, which includes house cats, Lions are social. They live in groups we all know as a pride, which consists of 2-4 males (called a coalition), 5-7 females, and their offspring. Each adult Lion plays a very specific role and cooperation is key. Females are the core of the pride social unit and do not tolerate outsiders. Prides are lineage-based and membership almost always only changes with the birth and death of the females within the pride. Few Lions live solitary lives and those that do spend most of the time looking for another pride to join. It is rare for females to accept a lone Lioness into the pride and males will only accept lone males after fierce battle.  

Lions are also unique among Cats in the way they express gender, physically and behaviorally. In most Cats, there's no obvious difference between males and females; you have to look at their genitals to tell them apart. Lions, on the other hand, exhibit sexual dimorphism - an outward, physical distinction between the sexes beyond their reproductive organs.

The mane of the Lion is the most obvious difference from the Lioness and tells many things about him. How big or small his mane is, how thick or thin it is, and its color all tell about genetic preconditions, sexual maturity/testosterone production, and climate. It turns out that darker fuller manes are usually favored among females. The larger of the two sexes, his role in the pride is very distinct - eat, mate, defend territory, protect other members of the pride. He rarely hunts, leaving that to the Lionesses. When not patrolling the borders of his territory, he is often found looking after the cubs while the females are finding dinner. The lifespan of the Lion is about 10 years, much shorter than the Lioness' 14-15 years, and cause of death is typically injury from other Lions. He is good at defending and protecting and that's what he does.

The Lioness is an elegant and complex creature. It is within and amongst the women that the cooperative nature of Lion shines. Due to her slightly smaller size and lack of mane, Lioness is the more effective hunter - she is swifter, more agile, and aerodynamic than her male counterpart. While they can run very fast, they can only do so in short bursts, so if they miss a catch it's usually due to lack of endurance. Within their hunting groups, each Lioness plays a very specific role that is strictly observed and carried out. Some females fan out to the sides, while others flank the prey, and still others do the actual pouncing. Their maneuvers are smooth and precise because they know and trust that each Lioness will fulfill her position on the team.

The cooperative nature of the Lioness goes even further with raising their young. The females of a pride will synchronize their menstrual cycles to facilitate cooperative cub rearing. It is much easier to have groups of cubs that are around the same age rather than cubs at all different stages all the time. Females share the duties of providing the general needs of the cubs and are diligent mothers. The Lioness moves all of her cubs to a new den about once a month so their scent doesn't build up and attract predators of the babies. At 2-4 years of age, male Lions are pushed out by the females to join the other adult males, while the young females remain with the core group of Lionesses.

Lions collaborate, coordinate, and unite. All this cooperation provides many benefits - protection, maintenance of territory, less injury, and kin selection (i.e. increased survival of kin vs self). Lions are extraordinarily distinct from one another in their appearance and actions and those born under the sign of Leo contain all the qualities of both the Lion and the Lioness. One could not exist without the other. The true power of Lion is twofold - power comes from complete ownership of its strengths and weaknesses; and power comes from an unflinching trust in the pride. Each Lion knows what it's best at and doesn't try to be something it's not. Lion walks proud with its golden fur shimmering in the sunlight, daring anyone and everyone to question their identity. 

During the Sun's transit through Leo, we ask all of you to draw on the powerful energy of these heavenly bodies and, no matter what you look like on the outside, own yourself in all your magnificent glory. Draw on the nature of Lion and Lioness and know that you are a strong, powerful, majestic creature.

 

Call on Lion when...

  • You need to make an amazing impression.
  • You want to reconnect with your inner wildness.

 

Be wary of...

  • lack of endurance.
  • can be lazy.
 

 

Rituals for Leo

Ecstatic Meditation

This week's meditation is simple: do whatever will most help you connect to the divine through experience. Like Leo, ecstatic meditation is usually very active, but it doesn't have to be. A few examples include:

  • dancing
  • singing or playing music. For some people, going to see a concert or a movie can be a very ecstatic experience!
  • painting, drawing, or creating art
  • taking a walk, yoga, or other exercise
  • crafting a spell


Before you begin, breathe deeply. Think, know, and affirm the presence of spirit with you. You can speak your intention, but it is not required. 

After you've completed your meditation, take a few moments in a quiet place to record your experience. What strengths and limits did you find within this form of connection? What did you learn about yourself and all that is? What symbols, omens, or spirits were present during your work?

You may also want to consider recording the moon's phase and sign, as well as other astrological indicators for future reference. 

 

Sacred Sexuality Altar & Ritual

THE ALTAR

For this ritual we'll be honoring the masculine/feminine sides of ourselves individually, as well as the place where they blend - all under the shining glory of the Sun. 

What you will need:

  • 4 candles - red/pink, blue, purple, and yellow (any shade of these colors is fine)
  • 3-5 Items that represent your masculine side and/or represent masculinity in general to you; these should be positive symbols for you; the goal is to *honor* the masculine side of yourself; suggestions - an arrow, a horn or antler, a High John the Conqueror Root
  • 3-5 Items that represent your feminine side and/or represent femininity in general to you; again, these should be positive symbols for you; the goal is to *honor* the feminine side of yourself; suggestions - a pomegranate, anything in the shape of a circle, a Queen Elizabeth Root
  • 1-5 items that represent the blend of masculine and feminine within you, the parts of you that are not gender specific
  • Optional - if you already identify with a particular spiritual path or cultural group, use items that symbolically represent male, female, and gender-blending and/or gender-neutral within that context to further your connections

 

 

THE RITUAL

Think of your altar as a triangle, with two base points closest to you and the peak opposite.
At the right base point, place the blue candle.
To the right of the candle, place the items you have chosen to represent masculinity.
At the left base point, place the red/pink candle.
To the left of the candle, place the items you have chosen to represent femininity.
At the peak, place the purple candle.
Above the peak, place the items that you have chosen to represent the blend of masculine and feminine.
In the center, place the yellow candle to represent the Sun fueling the triangle.
Light the yellow Sun candle first.
Next, light the candle that you identify with most (it's okay to light the purple candle first) and move toward the candle that you identify with the least.
As you go, draw power from the Sun and the candle you lit first.
Moving on, use that power to honor the other parts of yourself and the knowledge within them.
Sit with candles for at least 10 minutes, meditating on the flames, the symbols, how they work together, and the everlasting Sun catalyzing the effort.

 

 

Let the candles burn as long as you can without being interrupted. If you must put them out, be sure to relight and sit with them again until they've burned completely down. Once complete, collect any leftover candle wax and bury it outside all together. 

Collect the symbols you used during this candle rite and arrange them however you see fit - keep them on your altar or create separate spaces for each part of the triangle. You can also bury them outside with the candle wax, again all together.

Remember: always observe common sense fire safety when burning candles!

 

 

About Asteria & Artemis

Named for the Greek goddesses of the stars and nature, respectively, this joint blog series with Candlesmoke Chapel's Sara Magnuson investigates the magic and mythology behind each astrological sign.

Sara is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

Connect with Sara via Candlesmoke Chapel:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

 

 

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ASTERIA & ARTEMIS | Cancer, the Crab

Cancer, urania's Mirror star chart cards (1824)

Cancer, urania's Mirror star chart cards (1824)

The Crab as Cancer

The mythology of Cancer is a complicated one -- like her crustacean counterpart, her story has a familiar outer shell and a hidden inner viscera.

The most widely known origin myth for this constellation is found in Hercules's Twelve Labors. In short, Hercules was the product of one of Zeus's many trysts with a mortal woman, so Hera made it her mission to lay tricks in his path. During his battle with the Hydra, Hera sent Karkinos, a great crab, to distract him. Some say Hercules kicked Karkinos with such great force that he landed among the stars. Others hold that after being handily defeated by Hercules, Hera pitied the crab and gave it a permanent place in the sky.

However, other civilizations varied in their explanations. The ancient Egyptians identified Cancer as the scarab, one of their many sacred symbols of immortality. In Coptic Egypt one of Cancer's epithets was the Power of Darkness, a title also held by jackal-headed god and underworld guide Anubis. Because she doesn't shine as brightly as other constellations, ancient astrologers referred to Cancer as "the dark sign". This also refers to her position at the lowest point in the horoscope. It may also refer to the scarab's practice of laying eggs underground. They gestate within the earth for 28 days, after which they emerge. This connects them to the cycle of the moon and femininity, both associated with Cancer.

In Ancient Babylonian languages, the word for Cancer meant both "crab" and "snapping turtle". Their traditional "boundary stones" feature images of turtles or tortoises, so this may have been a more familiar animal spirit or idea to them. The Babylonian concept of Cancer had connections to the Underworld, which may explain the link to Hercules and the Hydra.
Medieval illustrated manuscripts depict Cancer as a water beetle, while Latin, Germanic, Enlightenment-era European manuscripts illustrate the constellation as a crayfish or lobster. This is significant, as a crayfish, was later featured on The Moon tarot card.

What remains among all examples is the idea of a rigid exoskeleton and a soft center, as well as protective (in the case of the turtle or crayfish) and regenerative (in the case of the beetle) abilities. That's not to say that the connection to the Greek mythos isn't significant. It's interesting that Hera is a major player in the Cancer origin story, as her qualities are sometimes projected onto Cancer  individuals. People with strong Cancer influences in their chart are praised for being selfless givers, but Hera's motive is deeply selfish and manipulative. The key here is the awareness of self that comes from having healthy boundaries, like the Crab. At the heart of Cancer lies the ability to keep others out, as well as the desire to allow others in. May we all use it wisely.

PS- For the "astro-fiends" out there: Sanskrit and Greek share a common ancestor, and the Sanskrit name for Cancer is "Kataka" -- hence Mystic Medusa's clever nickname for those who don't favor being called after a disease.

 

 

The Crab as Animal

By Sara Magnuson

Ruled by the Moon and the element of Water, Crab is an unlikely representative of the bright and fiery summer solstice and teaches us about awareness of, and reactivity to, movement, both literal and figurative.

Crabs are similar to insects in many ways and we have seen that correlation exemplified in the mythology and folklore. Biologically, they are similar in that their body is divided in sections, they have several pairs of legs, and are found on every continent and ocean. Even their circulatory systems are similar, but symbolically it is their exoskeleton that brings out the qualities they share. Hard on the outside and soft on the inside. They are covered in armor and protected from the outside world. While the Crab does not have ears, a nose, or skin in the way we can relate to as mammals, they have extraordinarily keen perceptions. Their hard-shell bodies are covered with delicate receptive hairs that pick up on vibrations, including sound waves (their version of "hearing"). These hairs also allow them to "smell" the pheromones of other creatures. Crabs don't vocalize, but they create their own vibrations by drumming their legs or claws against a hard surface. They will also snap their claws to create sound that is picked up by the hairs on the bodies of other Crabs. The ability to detect the movement of vibrations, in the water, in the ground, and in the air, gives Crab a sensitivity that betrays its hard exterior.

In order to grow Crab must moult its shell, which is a very delicate affair. They have to pull themselves, bit by bit, ever so carefully, out of their shell and then wait while the new one hardens. It is part of the farmer's folklore that Crabs moult during the full moon. This is not without some truth, as many common Crabs have a moutling cyce of about 30 days. It is in this way that Crab follows the movement of the Moon and the pull of the tides, going through regular cycles of extreme vulnerability.

Crabs in general are not seen as wholly social or solitary creatures, although individual species will have their unique behaviors, rather they are social or solitary as it seems to suit their needs. They will migrate to the shore together in enormous groups and will also defend their mates and burrows (places of singular connection or solitude) to the bitter end. In human personality terms, they can be extroverted or introverted as needed. Crab's ability to flow with the movement of a situation is admirable!

Of course, we can't talk about Crab without talking about it's literal movement. Crab's eyes appear to face forward on its body, yet they walk in a sideways manner, not looking in the direction they're going. Crab's are able to walk forward and backward, but the orientation of their legs makes sideways locomotion more efficient. Their almost 360° vision allows them to walk in any direction and still see what's going on. Crab teaches that approaching things "sideways" can be helpful and provide a new point of view. Crab asks us to remember that the path that leads to your desires may not be a straight line.

The energy of Crab may manifest in those born under this sign in many ways - they may be very perceptive to the energy of other people, especially those close to them, and can equally give off a lot of energy themselves. It can also manifest in using the "sideways" aspect of Crab in a manipulative manner; always looking for an alternate way into a situation to suit their own purpose. Ruled by the element of water, Crab can have a tendency to make things into something they are not; remember that Water can create illusions. The darkness of the Moon, the flare of the Sun, the pull of the tides, the movement of cycles and vibrations - Crab is extraordinarily sensitive to these influences.

 

Call on Crab when...

  • You need to protect your boundaries or allow someone into your sacred space.
  • You want to have a healthy awareness of self.

 

Be wary of...

  • Being too rigid or overprotective in your interactions with your loved ones and community.
  • Using "sideways" motives to get what you want.
 

 

Rituals for Cancer


Shielding Meditation

Sit, stand, or lie down in a place where you know you will not be disturbed for at least three minutes. You can close your eyes, or leave them open, gently gazing at whatever is in front of you. Start by taking a few breaths deep into your belly, in and out, in and out. Slowly, slowly. Acknowledge your intention to shield yourself from any negativity or chaotic feelings around you. Breathe in and out, slowly. Hold in your mind exactly what it is you want to remove from your auric field, your personal space. Breathe in and out, slowly.

Imagine a great shield being placed around you, enveloping you like an egg. Feel the shield. How does it feel to you? What color is the shield? What is it made of? Is it metal? Mirrored? Fire? Some other material? Take a moment to breathe in and out, slowly, feeling and seeing and knowing exactly what the nature of your personal shield is. You are safe. You are protected. Breathe in and out, slowly. Ask yourself, what do the feelings, colors, and materials of my shield tell me about my connection to the world around me? As you breathe in and out, slowly, open your eyes and go about your day, empowered with the knowledge that your shield will go with you wherever you do. If you desire, write down any insights or ideas in a journal before leaving this meditation.

 

Personal Egg Cleansing Ritual

First, obtain a chicken egg. If you can get a fresh chicken egg, great, but going to the grocery store is fine. We advise you to buy the most free-range, well-fed, happy-life chicken eggs you can.

Place the egg on your altar and light a white candle. Sit with it for a while and focus on cleansing yourself of any negative thoughts or energies to make space for balance between your wants and your needs. Focus on the desire for clarity in distinguishing the difference between what you need to be whole and what you wish to be true; clarity in distinguishing the illusions of the watery darkness from the daylight of reality and the ability to balance their messages.

While the candle is still burning*, pick up the egg. Beginning at the crown of your head, gently roll or brush the egg over your body. You can lightly touch the egg to your skin if you like, or you can brush the egg against your aura, a few inches above your skin, but be mindful of the delicate object you're holding. Remember - hard on the outside, soft on the inside.

If you are holding the egg against your skin, roll it gently over your body. If you are brushing your aura, think of it as sweeping yourself off, using several brush strokes over each area, as you would a broom. Gently and slowly move the egg over your entire body in a downward motion, moving away what you want to be rid of toward the ground. Be sure to go over each shoulder, arm, and hand, your torso and pelvis, each leg and foot.

When you are finished, put the egg in a brown paper bag. Take it outside and throw it as hard as you can to break the egg, thus releasing what you want to be rid of. You can do this at a crossroads or against an old sturdy tree. I have also done this behind a dumpster, where my worries, troubles, and struggles would be "taken out with the trash." The goal is to let go of and release that which is not serving you to make room for balance.

*Please make sure to practice proper fire safety during this ritual. Common sense, y'all!

 

 

About Asteria & Artemis

Named for the Greek goddesses of the stars and nature, respectively, this joint blog series with Candlesmoke Chapel's Sara Magnuson investigates the magic and mythology behind each astrological sign.

Sara is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

Connect with Sara via Candlesmoke Chapel:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

 

 

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ASTERIA & ARTEMIS | Gemini, the Twins

Gemini as the Twins

Though twins may seem like a rarity in our day-to-day lives, the twin archetype exists in cultures as varied as Hindu, Native American, Central American, and Zoroastrian. Perhaps the oldest manifestation of twins in mythology is twins as lovers. In Egyptian mythology, sky goddess Nut and earth god Geb are twins, entwined in a never-ending embrace. We see this in the tarot as well, as Gemini aligns with The Lovers card.

The constellation of Gemini is associated specifically with the Greek myth of twin brothers Castor and Pollux. Legend holds that the brothers were the result of Zeus’s seduction of Leda in the form of a swan, causing her to bear the two eggs from which they hatched. Stories disagree on their parentage -- originally, both were said to be sons of Zeus, but others held that Castor was the mortal son of Tyndareus, King of Sparta. In both versions, Castor becomes mortally wounded, and Pollux makes a bargain with Zeus to share a part of his own immortality with his brother. Zeus agrees, and so the twins remain among the stars as Gemini.

An aside: Castor and Pollux also had twin sisters -- Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra, who fought bitterly against each other in the Trojan War.

While twins serve varying purposes in myth, duality always plays a part. In the story of Castor and Pollux, it’s divinity versus mortality. For Helen and Clytemnestra, it’s love versus duty. In the case of Apollo and Artemis, twin deities of the sun and the moon, respectively, the association is more concrete. In the same way, their opposing genders further illustrate their differences -- and, in many ways, helped nurture the modern magickal correspondences for masculinity and femininity (even if you don’t buy into the idea of binary genders). Similarly, Freyr and Freya of Norse lore are the original Lord and Lady.

Still, sometimes the concepts twins are meant to stand for are deeply complex. Hypnos and Thanatos are the Greek god of sleep and personification of death, respectively. They resemble one another at first glance, but upon further investigation, they couldn’t be more different. Sleep, while mysterious, is impermanent, while death is final. It’s also interesting that while sleep is divine, death is considered a personification, lesser than Hades.

I’d be in remiss if I didn’t mention Romulus and Remus, twin sons of war god Mars, one of whom went on to become the primogenitor of the Roman empire. Raised by wolves, they remained unaware of their divine heritage and were surprised by their natural aptitude for their father’s art. They became competitive with one another, and Romulus eventually killed Remus after an augury predicted Remus would become more successful than him. After that, Romulus founded Rome.

These two display the trickster dynamic inherent in pairs -- and also in the sign of Gemini. While the vast majority of twins embody the beauty in differences, these two show the sinister side of acting from a place of fear. It’s both a cautionary tale and an important reminder to embrace the qualities that make you unique. Instead, follow the example of Apollo and Artemis, each illuminate their respective paths across the sky.

 

 

The Twins as Animal

By Sara Magnuson

It may appear that the sign of Gemini is not represented by an animal like Aries (Ram) or Taurus (Bull), but you would be forgetting that humans are also animals. Symbolized by the Twins, Gemini shows us aspects of our human-animal nature.

{Disclaimer: As we talk about what makes humans different from other animals, we must begin with the understanding that our knowledge of how other animals perceive the world is speculative. We have ways to study some of the cognitive abilities in other animals, but there are aspects of perception that we do not yet have the ability to uncover. It could be argued that other animals do feel/sense/think all of things I'm going to discuss, so as you continue reading, please add "as far as we know" to the end of every sentence. I humbly ask you to remember that there are entire fields of study dedicated to the subjects discussed and I am only touching the surface of what is being explored.}

Humans are not the only species of animal that have highly developed intelligence, self-awareness, the ability to communicate, or express feelings and empathy. These traits in general do not make human animals unique; many other species possess these characteristics to varying degrees. What makes the human animal unique from other animals is the same thing that makes all creatures unique from each other - how we develop and use those traits.

Gemini is associated with the element of Air and focuses on the mind of the human animal. A unique quality of the human mind is self-awareness and self-contemplation. We have a concept of inner self, inner identity, inner awareness that is uniquely human. As humans, we spend a lot of time considering ourselves, reflecting on our thoughts and actions, in ways that are not directly related to our immediate survival or reproduction. A benefit of this self-awareness is our capacity for compassion and empathy because we are able to consider how we affect the world around us.

We can also do something called "mental time travel" that appears to be unique to humans in its degree of ability. Mental time travel is the awareness of your past and future; it is hindsight and foresight; it is the ability to reflect on what was and what will be. It is recently being discovered that other animals, especially birds, also possess this ability, but it is generally accepted that humans are able to mentally travel much further into the past and future than any other animal. For example, a seven year old child has ideas about what they want to be when they grow up, which is many years into the future versus a bird's ability to contemplate what may happen a few days from now.  As we will see, this capacity for self-awareness and contemplation has its benefits and its challenges.

The Twins of Gemini present us with the concept of inner duality. Internally, we contemplate and often struggle with our ability to see both sides of the many aspects of ourselves, be it our masculine/feminine sides, our child/adult sides, our greedy/giving sides, our warrior/peace-keeper sides, what we believe is right or wrong in general, etc. The concept of morality appears to be uniquely human and we impose it on ourselves as much as we judge others by it. The Twins ask us to look at how we impose our ideas of morality on ourselves.

When my best friend and I talk about situations we're trying to navigate we often reference "the committee" in our minds. Imagine a boardroom table and at each seat is a representative of the various aspects of your personality; there's the five-year-old-you, the rebellious-you, the peaceful-you, the envious-you, the day-dreaming-you, the all-about-business-you, etc. Depending on the situation at hand, select members of "the committee" have something to say about it. These are the voices of our morality; the inner voices guiding us and working with us to make beneficial decisions.

The Twins of Gemini are like two of the most quick-minded voices on "the committee" talking out different sides of the issue. You can see both sides of something forever, but in real life you are often faced with having to eventually make a choice or a decision. The work of the Gemini soul comes in finding a resolution to that inner monologue and is a process that is distinctively human.

 

Call on The Twins when..

  • You need to see both sides of a situation.
  • You want to understand your unique abilities.

 

Be wary of...

  • Defining yourself only as part of a duality. Individuate.
  • Rivalries and trickster behavior in competition. If you feel insecure about your abilities, stand firm in what makes you unique. 
 

 

Rituals For Gemini

 

Time Travel Meditation

Just as Taurus helped you connect with your material reality, so Gemini will help you orient yourself within time. As we explore Gemini, the element of Air, and our human capacity for rational thought, this meditation will help you deepen your connection to temporal movement. There’s no wrong or right way to do this -- we suggest sitting in a quiet space where you can work without being disturbed for at least thirty minutes. You can use a journal for these questions, or simply hold them in your mind.

PAST - What past events have set you on the course you are currently traveling, and have shaped you into who you are today?

PRESENT - Where are you right now? What is your physical location? What is your age? In what life archetypes are you currently partaking (i.e. youth, young adulthood, maturity, etc.)? How does time feel to you in this moment -- does it move slowly or quickly?

FUTURE - Who are you becoming? See and feel your future self with all five senses. What feelings, sights, sounds, tastes, and smells arise?

For the FUTURE portion of this meditation, do your best to remain detached. The focus here isn’t productivity or being goal-oriented -- your only goal is to clear your mind and remind yourself of where you are in relation to time’s passing. If what comes up surprises you, good! Consider what that could mean. Gemini is the Trickster, so don’t be surprised if he speaks to you in riddles.

 

Altar Work

In true Gemini fashion, an altar honoring the Twins should be focused on duality: light and shadow, day and night, earth and sky, or the lovers. The possibilities are endless! In Chinese Feng Shui, practitioners place objects in pairs throughout their home to attract love. It’s a simple remedy, and a great way to bring in Gemini energy too! Paired items on your altar, along with The Lovers tarot trump, are excellent starting points. Gemini is usually too focused on new ideas and conversations to focus on altar decor anyways, so he’ll appreciate the simple gesture.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try dividing your altar into two sections. A light and shadow themed altar -- with items corresponding to the sun on one side and moon items on the other -- could be a beautiful tribute to the way these luminaries work together to light our world. A more committed votary may decide to create a pair of altars devoted to partners in a duality (like Freyr and Freya). As you work with these altars, remember that twin energy is less about what makes each individual different, but more about how the two individuals work together.

 

 

About Asteria & Artemis

Named for the Greek goddesses of the stars and nature, respectively, this joint blog series with Candlesmoke Chapel's Sara Magnuson investigates the magic and mythology behind each astrological sign.

Sara is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

Connect with Sara via Candlesmoke Chapel:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

 

 

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ASTERIA & ARTEMIS | Taurus, the Bull

The Bull as Taurus

Nearly every major culture worldwide has, at one point, revered the bull as a symbol of fertility. The bull, together with his female counterpart, have been prized for their ability to provide food in large quantities -- and, therefore, wealth. The animal’s role as a religious sacrifice was a natural progression of this elevated status. In offering a bull, you were offering the most abundant source of food and wealth to your chosen deity. Temple officials would sacrifice bulls with the intention of ensuring a good harvest, deepening the existing connection between the animal and fecundity.

Alternately, the fertility embodied by the bull can be interpreted as virility given the exhaustive canon of highly sexual mythology featuring this horned (or perhaps, horny) creature. Their prevalence is staggering:

  • In the Babylonian epic, Gilgamesh, Ishtar convinces her father to send the Bull of Heaven to destroy the land’s crops and kill the eponymous hero -- after said hero refuses her sexual invitation. Most scholars agree that the constellation of Taurus originates from this myth.
  • Greek sky god Zeus -- notorious for his marital interloping -- was symbolized by a bull. In his affair with Europa, a Phoenician princess, he transformed into a bull and seduced her into riding him back to Crete, where she became the queen.
  • The Cretan Bull may be the darkest among the Greek bovine myths. Legend has it that Theseus asked Poseidon to send a white bull as a sign confirming his right to rule. Poseidon agreed, expecting it to become a sacrifice in return. When the bull appeared, it was so majestic that Theseus deemed it too precious to slaughter and ordered a lesser bull be sacrificed in its stead. As an act of revenge, Poseidon had Aphrodite cause Theseus’s wife to fall in love with the bull, and provoked the bull to wreak havoc on the land of Crete. The Queen became so overwhelmed with lust that she bore the Bull a child, the Minotaur. Though Hercules captured the Cretan Bull as his seventh labor, it eventually broke loose.
  • In Hindu tradition, Tantric god Shiva rides a bull named Nandi.
  • The ancient Egyptians had many bovine deities. Apis, a bull with a solar disk between his horns, was the herald of the gods Ptah and Osiris. It’s also worth noting that their goddess of sacred sexuality, Hathor, was cow-headed.

The only exception to the sexual symbolism was in Christianity. Early Judeo-Christian traditions and similar cults view the bull as unholy:

  • The Bible references sacred bull cults, most likely those of Egyptian Apis or Babylonian Marduk. Bulls were used as burnt offerings in ancient Jewish tradition, but were vilified when worshipped as idols.
  • The slaying of a bull featured prominently in the imagery of the Mithraic mysteries, an early Roman rival of Christianity. 

The energy of Taurus is the Bull in his guises as both commodity and lover, as Taurus rules value and sensual experience. Still, it’s strange to think that the bull has remained a symbol of fertility for almost 4 millenia. Perhaps that’s why people with strong Taurus energy can become so set in their ways. The bull has been a source of stability and a reminder of pleasure as entire civilizations have risen and set -- a living talisman of our basic needs. If nothing else, allow the bull to remind you to give yourself what you really need, even if it’s a precious sacrifice.

 

 

The Bull as Animal

By Sara Magnuson

Almost all modern domesticated cattle are descended from one common herd of about 80 individuals that lived over 10,000 years ago. The ancestors of that original herd were beasts known as Aurochs. The following description of an Auroch shows how the myth of the Minotaur may have developed from ancient man's "taming" of Bull: "Wild aurochs...were much bigger than modern cattle, and wouldn't have had the domestic traits we see today, such as docility. So capturing these animals in the first place would not have been easy, and even if some people did manage [to] snare them alive, their continued management and breeding would still have presented considerable challenges..." [1]

Historically, they are an animal to be conquered, but Bull is also viewed as a sacrificial animal - meat and dairy for food, leather for protection, and even their manure makes the best fertilizer. The farmer who has many cattle is indeed seen as a wealthy individual. As we have seen, many cultures revere Bull and, to the ancient Greeks especially, Bull was the most prized offering one could make to the Gods. This reverence for all they provide associates them with abundance, richness, and plenty. 

There will always remain a wildness to Bull, however, and he is most well-known for his size and physical strength, representing the epitome of masculinity, virility, and passion. Bull has a self-awareness of his substantial presence and makes use of extremely subtle body language to indicate his moods before taking physical action. The cues of Bull's body language can be so slight that it can seem as if their aggression has come on suddenly, but from the Bull's perspective he has given you plenty of warning. It's important to realize that those who don't know you very well may have difficulty picking up on your fine-tuned signals; remember to give those around you clear warning when you feel offended, hurt, or threatened. 

As a herd animal, Bull despises being isolated for long periods of time and will act out most aggressively if this goes on for too long. Their instinctual desire to be with and protect their group overrides any "training" and their wild natures are exposed. What may appear as hostility is actually a passionate and fierce devotion to the ones they care about. Bull also possesses an acute ability of recognition, in that they are able to not only differentiate other cattle, but animals of other species as well, including humans. This ability even extends to recognition of photographs of other individual creatures of all types. Being able to spot an interloper is key to Bull's sense of safety. Preferring what is familiar, Bull finds anything unknown to be inherently threatening, resisting change and taking a long time to warm up to new people and situations.  

Bulls may seem to be just standing around a lot, but in reality they are taking it all in - noticing what is new and different versus what is familiar. Bull has excellent hearing, but his natural environment of open fields and pastures means he is not very good at localizing the source of a sound. This gives Bull a "wide open" auditory range and, even though he is exposed and vulnerable in open areas, he is very much aware of what is moving around him. In his vision, Bull is red-green color blind and sees the world in shades of yellow, blue, brown, and gray. As an herbivore, this means that Bull relies on his highly developed senses of taste and smell to acquire food, even possessing a special olfactory organ that assists in discerning the nuances of his environment. Although Bull sees the world differently, with large eyes on the side of his head, he has a wide field of view and can pick up on the slightest movements. 

The delicate and purposeful way that Bull senses the world betrays his appearance and such is the conundrum of many a Taurus. For all their seemingly brute force and intimidating demeanor, Bull's are extraordinarily sensitive to other creatures and external stimuli. Know that, as a Taurus, you may very well be picking up on subtleties that others around you are not and you can use that ability to show them the richness of life.

[1] Burger,  Joachim, et al. "Modern Taurine Cattle Descended from Small Number of Near-Eastern Founders." Molecular Biology and Evolution. 14 March 2012. 

 

Call on Bull when..

  • you need to be observant
  • you need to express your devotion/dedication
  • you need to reconnect with what makes you feel goooooood!

 

Be wary of...

  • Bull's tendency to be too subtle with his feelings; others may not pick up on your signals
  • Bull's tendency to be temperamental; you may lash out if you feel in unfamiliar territory
 

 

Rituals for Bull

 

Moving Meditation

The Bull puts you in touch with your body and grounds you in your own skin. The Bull is all about his physical presence, but is also extremely subtle. For Bull, we suggest moving meditation, but in a slow and deliberate way. Think about the movements of Qi Gong or Tai Chi; the slow transition between and stillness of Yoga poses. As you move, breathing deeply can, in a moving meditation especially, put you into a sort of trance state. Use the rhythm of your breath in combination with your steady movement to attune yourself to your environment and your inner sensations. Bull is methodical and deliberate with his actions and very grounded in his own sensual experience. Walking a labyrinth is another type of moving meditation that puts you in touch with your physical presence on the path. 

 

Altar Work

Your Bull altar should be a sacred place where you honor the finer things in life, whatever that means to you. Fill this altar with items that are so luxurious you only have them in small doses. Splurge on something that you love for no other reason than the texture; get a sample of a decadent fragrance and anoint the items on your altar once a month; place upon the altar items that are visually pleasing to you.

An altar to the Bull should also honor sensuality and the subtleties of your senses. Along with an offering of water, a plant or flower, and a candle, the other items on the altar should reflect the things you want to feel more of in your life. As you meditate at your altar, ask the Bull to show you how to be grounded in your physical body and to reveal the nuances of your ability to experience sight, sound, feelings, tastes, and scents.

 

 

About Asteria & Artemis

Named for the Greek goddesses of the stars and nature, respectively, this joint blog series with Candlesmoke Chapel's Sara Magnuson investigates the magic and mythology behind each astrological sign.

Sara is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

Connect with Sara via Candlesmoke Chapel:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

 

 

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Join the coven for more astrology, horoscopes, and things witches love!