When the ancients looked up into the sky, in one of the darkest parts of the Milky Way they saw stars that formed the shape of a Scorpion, as if emerging from a crack or crevice, its ‘stinger’ raised, ready to attack. In the ancient world it was thought that the dark crack from which the Scorpion was seen to emerge from was an opening to the Underworld. To the ancients the Milky Way wasn’t just a host of stars, it was the seed ground, from where souls originated. It was from the Milky Way that the spirit of mankind descended into the material or mortal realm. It was said that the Scorpion was placed in the skies as a reward for slaying Orion as he was about to slay Taurus, the Bull. Artemis, who we meet in the Sign of Cancer, was the goddess of the Moon, and a hunter. Artemis had brought the Scorpion out to kill Orion (Scorpio is next to the Constellation of Orion the Hunter). Some say that Orion had used ‘unbecoming’ force against Artemis, others that Orion was killed because he bragged that he was the superior hunter. Artemis is the goddess who protects animals against wanton destruction and condones hunting only for food, not for the glory of the hunt or for sport. Orion however revelled in the glory of the kill. Hence, Artemis is the protector of animals and the goddess that ensures the natural balance in nature. Without Artemis, the animals of the world would not have survived. This epic battle between Orion and the Scorpion has played out in the heavens throughout the ages. When Orion is in the sky the Constellation of Scorpio is below the horizon and when the Constellation of Scorpio rises Orion disappears beneath the horizon, to its death.
Of all the stories surrounding Orion the one that gives Scorpio ruler ship over sex and passion, is that of Eos. In the story of Eos we find an erotic tale. Eos is the goddess of dawn and personifies the concept of promiscuity. It was Eos who evoked erotic longings at the start of each day and she was to be found in the beds of both men and gods alike. ‘Rosy fingered dawn’, her name was called when she rose each day to greet her brother Helios, the Sun. Some say Eos took a liking to Orion and that the reason Artemis sent the Scorpion to kill Orion was that he had pursued one or all of the Pleiades, intending to violate them. The Constellation of Scorpio is one of the most beautiful and striking in the heavens. In the heart of ‘Scorpius’ is a brilliant red star called Antares. In ancient times Scorpio was the largest of the Signs, as the Greeks didn’t recognise Libra as a constellation in it’s own right and assigned the stars in what we no know as the Constellation of Libra, to the claws of the Scorpion.
As a creature scorpions live in cracks, crevices, holes, in fact anywhere that is dark, hidden and secluded, for they are a nocturnal animal, preferring darkness to light. Hence, Scorpio has always been a Sign associated with the darker, hidden or secret side of life. Secrecy and the underworld are all associated with Scorpio. Scorpions are one of the most ancient creatures on the planet, with fossils found dating back over 400 million years. They are predators who hunt at night and kill with their sting. All species of Scorpion, no matter how mild, can cause pain if they bite, with some species being lethal. It is said that if a Scorpion is surrounded by fire it will even sting itself to death. Like the crab, scorpions rely on ‘sensors’ to detect prey, small hair like organs on their tail, legs and pincers. Like the crab they are defensive, rather than confrontational. Scorpions are not naturally aggressive and attack only in self defence or for food. When mating they perform a dance like ritual called the ‘promenade a deux’. The courting couple grip each other with their claws and move backwards and forwards (as if dancing) until a suitable spot is found.
The Scorpion has been central to both death and sexual rituals right back into the deepest past of many cultures, especially the Egyptians.
In terms of symbolism, the Scorpion is a symbol of wisdom, self destruction and death. The Egyptians maintained that when the Sun entered the Sign of Scorpio it marked the beginning of a period ruled by Typhon, a destroying demon or devil. It was Typhon that devoured the Sun on its journey into winter. Even the season of Scorpio personifies this dark aspect. When the Sun passes through the Constellation of Scorpio, the year itself begins its journey into its darkest phase and marks the beginning of the long, dark days of winter.
Until less than 100 years ago Scorpio was ruled by Mars. With 12 Signs in the Zodiac and only 7 known heavenly bodies in ancient times, 5 planets plus the Sun and Moon, there were a number of double ups. While Venus and Mercury both still rule two Signs, prior to a 100 years ago, so too did Mars, ruling both Aries and Scorpio. One reason that Mars ruled Scorpio is that at the heart of the Constellation of Scorpio lies a brilliant red star called Antares. In mythology Antares was Ares’ (ruler of Mars) lieutenant. The Greeks believed the he was the ‘anti Ares’ or ‘anti hero’.
Scorpio now is ruled by Pluto, known as it's 'modern ruler', the first planet discovered and named in modern times and within the lifetime of people still alive now. It is important to note that the astronomers that discovered and named Pluto are no different than their ancient counterparts, for there is no more fitting a name for this planet, nor could it rule a more fitting Sign. Pluto and Scorpio belong together, for they are the perfect match. Pluto was discovered in error in 1930 and is known as the ‘accidental planet’ for that reason. Astronomers at the time were looking for a 9th planet they thought existed. There were two reasons why they thought there was another planet, both of them wrong. The first was something called ‘Bodes Law’. Bodes Law was a mathematical calculation whereby the position of an unknown planet could be calculated by an equation that held true for the known planets. Using this formula they calculated where this mystery planet should be. The other reason they thought there was another planet was the behaviour of Neptune. It was thought that Neptune’s erratic movements were caused by the gravitational pull of an unseen planet.
We now know that Bode’s Law is nothing but a coincidence and has no scientific value. As well as that, once Neptune and Uranus were able to be more closely observed by deep space probes, these giant gaseous planets have been shown to be much larger than previously thought and to have a much larger gravitational pull on each other, therefore explaining away Neptune’s behaviour.
However Percival Lowall, at the Lowall Observatory in Arizona didn’t know that these assumptions were wrong and his team of astronomers trained their telescopes onto the area of heavens that these now erroneous assumptions pointed to, as being the most likely place to find the missing planet. And that’s exactly where Pluto was found. The reasons for looking in that area of the heavens were totally wrong, but in doing so they had the most important astronomical find of the 20th Century. When astronomers finally named this planet, after lots of deliberation they chose the name Pluto. Pluto was a name in keeping with the rest of the planets, in that it was named after ancient gods and goddesses of ancient Rome or Greece. The name Pluto also honoured Percival Lowall, who played such an important role in discovering Pluto, with PL being the first two letters of Pluto and the initials of Percival Lowall. It wasn’t Lowall who discovered Pluto, but it was his calculations that lead to its discovery by a member of his team, Clyde Tombaugh.
Pluto is in the darkest part of our solar system and is both the smallest and the most distant from the Sun, receiving little light and is in perpetual darkness. Pluto is the only planet in the solar system that hasn’t been visited by deep space probes. We are still finding out about Pluto and we only found out that it had one Moon in 1978, with a fourth Moon only identified in 2005. Until the robotic space probe, New Horizons reaches Pluto (expected to be June 2015), Pluto is holding onto most of his secrets and most of its mysteries will remain hidden. Just like the Scorpion. In 2006 Pluto was downgraded from the status of a planet to a planetoid or a dwarf planet. In 2005 another dwarf planet was discovered 'Eres', that is even bigger than Pluto, yet it hasn't captured us in the way that Pluto has.
Pluto is the Roman name for the Greek God, Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Before the age of the Olympian Gods, an Age that gave birth to the astronomy and mythology that were the parents of Astrology, Titans ruled the world. Zeus and his brothers took part in an epic battle to overthrow the ‘old order’, symbolised by their father ‘Cronos’ the last of the Titans. The Olympians were victorious and after the battle rulership of the sea, skies and underworld were given to the victorious brothers Hades, Zeus and Poseidon. They drew lots and Hades received Tartarus, the Underworld, Zeus got the skies and Poseidon the seas, while mankind was given ruler ship of the land itself. Cronus had imprisoned the Cyclops and the ‘hundred handed ones’ in Tartarus and when Zeus released them, in gratitude they gave Zeus the thunderbolt, Poseidon the trident and Hades the mask of invisibility. It is this mask that enabled Hades to walk upon the earth and not be recognised. One of the most powerful stories in Greek mythology is the ‘Rape of Persephone’, which is part of Virgo and Demeter’s story. Wearing his mask of invisibility, while thundering through the land in his chariot, Hades came upon Persephone and swooped her into his chariot, taking her through a chasm that opened up in the earth, carrying her into the Underworld to become his Queen. The Underworld was a place that all souls went after death and there the ferryman carried them across the River Styx. The relatives of the dead placed a coin under the tongue of the body to pay for the journey into the after life. Penniless ghosts had to wait for eternity on the other side.
There is a saying in ‘pop psychology’ that harks back to this superstition, when dealing with what life throws at us, it is said that you have to ‘pay your penny’. In other words, you have to submit to moving into the Underworld, a place you need to go to in order to work through your sorrow, to complete the ‘death’ process and come out healed the other side. By avoiding dealing with grief or pain, you’re left like the penniless ghosts on the other side. Thus, it’s always better to ‘pay your penny’ and move through the process.
Very few mortals ever ventured into the Underworld, but one of the Heroes that did is one of the most endearing in Greek Mythology, Orpheus. Orpheus was a famous poet and musician. Apollo himself gifted Orpheus his lyre and the Muses taught him to use it. Orpheus took his lyre with him when he went as one of the Argonauts on Jason’s epic quest, where his music got them out of many a difficult situation. It is said that the earth itself danced to Orpheus’ music. Orpheus’ wife Eurydice died after being bitten by a snake while trying to ward off the sexual advances of Aristaeus. Orpheus boldly went down to Tartarus where his music charmed even the ferryman Cerebus, the three headed dog and it is even said that his music tamed and soothed the savage heart of Hades himself. Hades said that Eurydice could return with Orpheus under one condition, that he mustn’t look back to see if his wife was following until they were back under the light of the Sun. At the last moment, just as Orpheus could see the sun ahead, his faith failed him and he turned to see if Eurydice was following. She immediately turned to stone and was lost to him forever.
Scorpio is the middle Sign of the Autumn triad and is therefore a Fixed Sign. By the time the Sun moved through the Constellation of Scorpio in ancient northern hemisphere times, autumn was at its height. Being a Fixed Sign Scorpio is also only interested in the here and now. This is the beginning of the earth’s journey into the long dark days of winter, the days are getting colder and there is increasing dampness. The autumn equinox has been passed. Scorpio is a Water Sign and it’s here that the earth itself holds onto the water, making the ground sodden and heavy. The grain that was harvested and sorted in Virgo and Libra times now lies stacked in barns and in cellars, where it will be used to feed people and animals over the coming dark months. Stored away, deep in the soil are the rotten remains of plant life that is now going to seed, where eventually after it has gone through the process of decay, will emerge as new life and new growth when spring comes around again, after the long dark winter.
Nature is loosing its blanket of greenery, as leaves die and fall to the ground. Regeneration is taking place and it’s through death that new life will eventually come. As the ‘old’ rots in the ground the seeds for future growth are being born. This is the cycle of life, with the earth claiming back what belongs to it. The harvest is gone and the ground has nothing left to give. This is a time of year when the earth takes back what it needs. Up until now the earth has provided, now it claims back. To see this season as one of simply death and decay is to fail to see the true magic of life and of the season. Its at this point of death that new life truly begins. The seeds for the future will lay dormant under the surface waiting for spring to bring it to life. Spring is a long way off and before then, winter has to be moved through. It is the Scorpion spirit that sees all that, sees things more deeply and can identify and appreciate the cycles of life. Being a Fixed Sign Scorpio recognises that there is work to be done, the seeds have to be sorted and the careful management of the harvested crop has to take place.
In Scorpio we find one of the most mysterious and misunderstood of Signs. Scorpio doesn’t operate in the light, for everything about Scorpio energy is hidden or dark. From ancient times the Scorpion has been associated with the hidden aspects of life. It is Scorpios’ role to see the things that the rest of us miss. Much of what happens in Scorpio is unseen and unknown. In Scorpio we find that one of the most prevalent themes is that of death. Death of a season and Hades Lord of Death, but if you see it just as a Sign of endings, you fail to see its true nature, for Scorpio is the Sign that encompasses triumph over the dark. We saw Orpheus go where no man had gone and the only thing that let him down was his own self doubt and lack of faith. That Pluto itself was even discovered is a true testament to man’s quest or search for something beyond himself. When the ancient farmer watched the decaying leaves return to the earth, he didn’t see death, he saw the promise of new life.
Scorpio stands at the brink of winter and is the Sign that will lead us into the darker days ahead. Unless we are to become like those lost ghosts standing penniless on the banks of the river Styx, we must submit to the continuous circle of life, death and ultimate rejuvenation, of cutting away the old in order to make way for the new.