Once upon a time there were two lovely ladies.
One was named Amelia.
Every night she sat near an ancient Oak Tree to observe the Stars as they move across the Sky.
The other was named Sara.
Every day she sat beneath an ancient Oak Tree to listen and talk with the Animals.
Under two different Oak Trees in two different places, Amelia and Sara communed with the Heavens and the Earth, each in her own way.
After many years of watching and listening, Amelia and Sara finally found each other.
When their Spirits came together the Stars shot across the Sky and the Animals leaped with joy!
They were to be messengers; messengers of the Constellations and of the Animals – Asteria and Artemis.
WHO IS ARTEMIS?
The idea for this series stemmed from thinking about the Chinese zodiac and its basis in the nature of animals, along with my own work and study of animals in spirituality, and an ongoing fascination with Astrology. In its depictions of the constellations, it occurred to me that the Western zodiac also has a deep connection with the nature of animals; and some of the animals depicted happen to be humans. I wanted to explore the animal influences in our interpretations of the Western zodiac signs, as well as the stories and mythologies behind their associations.
Artemis is the Greek goddess of the wilderness, mistress of the animals… she represents many aspects as a protector of Nature. Daughter of Zeus, and twin sister of Apollo, Artemis’ mother and Asteria were sisters! As much as I love studying the myths and stories behind it all, the astrological aspect is not my personal path of study. So I immediately thought of Amelia as my collaborator on this project; her planetary insight is sharp and her delivery is fresh. She is also equally fascinated with how these particular animals became associated with these astrological signs and how we can deepen our connection with the Heavens and the Earth.
As we move through this astrological year, I hope that you will be able to connect more deeply with the pull of the Heavens by calling on the Earthly creatures their constellations illustrate.
Who is Asteria?
When Sara approached me about writing this series, I was thrilled. Often times people think of astrology as lofty or arcane, but in truth it is far from that. In my practice, following and aligning with the rhythms of the stars has been one of the most grounding practices I’ve ever found. What could be more down-to-earth than learning the myths by which harvests were reaped and sown for centuries?
Asteria, the Greek oracular goddess whose name means “of the stars”, was the mother of Hekate – a deity much revered in modern magical circles, and for good reason. In that way, Asteria gives birth to witchcraft, herbal knowledge, and the moon. That astrology and magic were linked since ancient times was a profound discovery for me, and one that made a partnership with Sara all the more exciting. (An aside: imagine my surprise when I discovered asteroid Asteria was exactly on top of Neptune in my natal chart!)
It is my sincere hope that, through this series, the alchemical dictum “as above, so below” will begin to crystallize in your psyche. The sky and the earth are intimately entwined, just as the sky god and earth goddess have been in so many spiritual traditions throughout history. As the stars move, so does nature, and so do our lives. And so it is.
The Ram as Aries
The image of Ram as the symbol for Aries, the Greek God of War, originates from the Argonautica - specifically, the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece. In order to prove himself to the King of Thessaly, Jason was tasked with taking some of the magical Golden Fleece from the Sacred Grove of Aries. His journey is a long and arduous one until Medea, sorceress and princess of Colchis, offers her assistance and Jason is successful. Similarly, acquiring a bit of the Golden Fleece from Aries is one of the tasks Aphrodite assigns to Psyche as a condition for her reunion with Eros.
There is an aspect of daring inherent in these myths. The hero or heroine must brave great danger to body and soul in order to find and take a bit of the Fleece for their own. That is the soul of Aries - tenacity, fortitude, and an eagerness to achieve the seemingly impossible in order to realize their dreams. We often think of them as restless pioneers - they are the first zodiac sign, after all - but perhaps there is more to their quest. Something deeper drives them to search after their personal "Golden Fleece." In Jason's case, it was dedication to his personal truth and in Psyche's case, it was true love. What deeper ambitions, truths, and desires are motivating your personal quest?
Various theories exist as to what the "Golden Fleece" may actually be, including authority to reign, wealth, and alchemical knowledge. Regardless of the object of desire, it remains that the Fleece is something to be coveted - an important facet of the Aries psyche. Again, as the first zodiac sign, they take great pride in being the best at whatever they do and are willing to risk whatever unlikely path may accomplish their goals. The adage "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well" is certainly an Aries sentiment.
The Ram as Animal
Nimble, agile, and sure-footed, Ram is able to seize opportunity in seemingly impossible situations. They trust the ability of their unlikely bodies to jump and maintain balance when others would doubt themselves. The excellent depth perception and peripheral vision of Ram gives them the ability to see opportunities that others may not; indeed, their heightened senses of vision and smell make them intimately attuned to their surroundings. As ruminant animals, Rams extract a high amount of nutrients from their plant-based diets. Take a cue from Ram's highly efficient digestion and be deliberate with things that fuel you, making sure you're getting all you can out of them.
The skin and fleece of Ram have been revered for ages - hides and wool to create objects from the practical and mundane to the magnificent and magical. When thinking of Ram's hide, remember that our skin is considered an organ and is, in fact, the largest organ of our body. Protecting all the delicate things inside, our skin is a huge sensor packed with nerves and keeps our brain in touch with the outside world. Ram's majestic fleece provides intense protection from the elements allowing it to thrive in diverse climates and environments. It is this protective and armor-like quality of Ram's fleece that contributes to its magical qualities. We must also consider the impressive horns of Ram - Sacred Spirals borne right from the head indicating potent creativity and mental acuity.
Socially, Rams desire order and prefer a defined structure, establishing who is in charge and how each member of their social group falls in rank. They are gregarious and form strong, close relationship sub-groups within their flock. Rams, and Sheep in general, are more intelligent and sensitive than we often think, having a good memory and the ability to differentiate facial expressions and the emotional states of other animals. This means that you frequently see more than others think you do and more than you let on. Rams are also very good at hiding any injury or sickness so as not appear weak, which can be good for avoiding predators, but as a personality trait can cause unnecessary suffering. Be mindful of asking for help when you need it and not letting your pride get in the way.
Call on Ram when...
- you need a burst of physical energy
- you need to take action, seize opportunities, and be forthright
- you are beginning new endeavors and need to take that charge-forward step
- you need to pause and pay attention to all of your senses - look around, sniff the air, perk up your ears
- you need to hone your intellect and harness the power of your mind
Keep in mind...
- Ram's tendency to be overly aggressive. Be sure to think before acting
- Ram's tendency to hide their inner struggles. Remember that asking for help is not a weakness
Rituals for Ram
Aries energy is, at it's core, associated with and felt in the physical body. Think of Ram's highly attuned senses of vision, hearing, and touch, as well as the connection between those senses in your body. Take a moment to sit still, wherever you choose. First, look around you. Notice not just what you see, but how much you can see. Pay attention to the expanse and limits of your vision. Pay attention to all the light and colors you can see. Look at the big things and the small things and take it all in. Next, close your eyes and listen. What are the loudest and softest sounds you can hear? What do the sounds you hear tell you about your environment? Lastly, with your eyes still closed, pay attention to your sense of touch. Feel the energy radiating from your own body. How does the air feel on your skin? What sensations do you feel from your environment?
It is possible to procure ethically sourced Ram's horns, but if you cannot or don't want to do that, acquire a piece of wool (and raw, unprocessed wool is even better - ask at your local yarn supplier). Place the wool at the center of your altar space or make a separate space for this work, as you see fit. Surround the wool with a small bowl of water, a plant (a small container of grass is perfect for Ram, but any green plant will work well), and a candle. Light the candle and place your hand on the wool. As you watch the flame and reflect on the fiery nature of Aries, ask for Ram's essence to guide you and show you the ways to achieve your goals.
If you decide to keep this altar up for the duration of the Sun's transit through Aries, make sure you refresh the water periodically and keep the plant healthy and strong. And remember, always observe common sense fire safety when burning candles, especially near wool.
ABOUT SARA MAGNUSON
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 at candlesmoke chapel.
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