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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 | Aries, the Ram

Introduction

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?

MEET SARA.

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?

It's me! 

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

By Sara Magnuson

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

 

Sensing Meditation

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?

 

Altar Work

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.

chat with @candlesmokechapel on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Sara Magnuson.png
 

 

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