Scorpio: Magician of the Deeps

Greetings and welcome back to Journeys! This month I have a post for you about Scorpio. You may also like to read my posts about Saturn in Scorpio,  Uranus in Scorpio and Pluto in Scorpio.

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For Scorpia

“Though lovers be lost love shall not”.

(Dylan Thomas)

Creeping mist crawls over the surface of the swamp at midnight. Curling tree branches throw shadows in the moonlight, illuminating a glistening world of wet, shining insects busy devouring an animal carcass. You hear the panting of an unknown animal approaching through the rustling of willowy vines. The bizarre footprints leading to the carcass and then away from it glisten with blood and your heart rises into your mouth as something steps out of the shadows…

The next night you are home and in the arms of a lover you just can’t get enough of and your being is exploding in ecstatic bliss. Your entire body has become an electrical current plugged into your lovers, throbbing and shaking with an uncontrollable pleasure that ends in an explosion that, for a timeless eternity lasting a few seconds, utterly obliterates your personality and all of your personal concerns.

Later you lay there thinking about how alike the last two nights have been, and it pleases you, you feel truly alive. You see the connection of hunger and desire like a tissue of significance threading the two nights, connecting you with your lover, you with your predator, and the symmetry of life and death is hinted at beneath the surface, like your lovers skin as it rises and then rests beneath the sheets while you watch. You know you would die for them and always have, because you live for them.

Welcome to the realm of the Scorpion. The world of high emotion, do or die, flight or fight, all or nothing. A world of gods and monsters, secrets and mysteries, demons and angels and those among us who gaze upon them, and so strip them all naked. Scorpio undresses the universe and delights in the eroticism of the naked truth revealed. Superficiality is shunned, ripped asunder and thrown aside like bothersome clothing. Arousal is ever intensely felt and hunger for more and deeper is a seemingly insatiable maw – the whole of reality calls out to be fucked, hard, meaning Scorpio is filled with the greatest lust for life in the zodiacal tribe. The more physical types want your body, but the more mysterious ones want more to penetrate the mysteries of existence. The irony that fuels this power is that this lust for life is fueled by a keen awareness of its natural termination in death. Pay heed, says the voice of Scorpio, for the end is ever nigh. It’s a knife edge to live upon, but it’s better than taking your eyes off the fact that its true. So man up and live like it is. This is the Scorpio credo. 

Dip your toes into this world and you know, somewhere buried inside, that to plunge deeper is to abandon yourself to the Mystery and lose your way in a profoundly beautiful and dangerous realm that nobody who enters ever leaves as the same person. To be touched by Scorpio is to know that you are consumed by something, something beyond your own comprehension, and to be thrilled into living harder and brighter by it. It is to master the passions or be mastered by them, and so to burn for eternity in the transformation from one state of being to another, always led on by the purified desire nature or being doomed to remain trapped by meaningless desires in an endless loop that brings only destruction and darkness.

Villain. Devil. Monster. Tags like these seem irrevocable stains on the nature of Scorpio. The trap is that the sign keeps its own counsel and shares its true feelings and thoughts only with the most trusted and loyal of its loved ones, leaving the rest of the world to imagine the rest, and what they generally imagine is a projection of all their own darkness. Scorpio is encouraged to speak up, to share its deeper insights, but all too often all it encounters is more shunning as the truths they reveal are often unpalatable. They cant win at the game the rest of the world plays, so they leave it behind, and the world grows much darker as a result because its the Scorpio in us that is capable of transforming darkness into light. In this way, Scorpio becomes the butt of a collective death wish, and boy do they know it!

Scorpio is a Fixed or Stable sign counted as the 8th sign of the zodiac and the second of the Water signs. A list of qualities generally attributed to the sign of Scorpio in modern astrological books and thinking includes the following –

WHITE MIRROR

Loyalty
Intensity
Passion
Focus
Determination
Sex Appeal
Healthy Sexuality
Lust for Life
Depth Perception
Occult Faculties
Emotional Discipline
Willful
Powerful
Immortal or Indestructible
Calm and Composed
Profoundly Empathic
Conviction
Champion of Truth and Justice
Transformational

BLACK MIRROR

Possessiveness
Overwhelming
Obsession
Single-Mindedness
Stubbornness
Sex Starved
Unhealthy Sexuality
Hedonism and Debauchery
Suspiciousness
Secrecy and Manipulativeness
Shielded and Closed
Controlling
Power Mad
Self Destructive, Mortally Afraid
Icy and Cold
Callous Towards Suffering
Righteousness
Vengeful, Spiteful and Vindictive
Emotionally Rigid or Stuck

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Image by Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic

What Scorpio instinctively understands from a list like this is how one side can be coaxed into becoming the other, in other words Scorpio instinctively understands the art of transformation and transmutation, and not just of the human character but also of the universe. In contrast to its opposite partner, Taurus (which tries to simplify life) the presence of Scorpio instead continually complicates it because it reveals the complexities hidden beneath the surface and exposes them, mercilessly at times. It also has an innate sense for the presence of corruption and deception which brings a reputation for ruthlessness as well as innate detective talent.

I will spend some time in this article discussing the ins and outs of some of these qualities but I feel it is best left to you to reflect upon them for yourselves and try to add to them from your own observations of Scorpio at work. In this writing I would like to try to probe deeper into the lore and substance of Scorpio, in particular focusing upon the core mechanic which is the engine of many of its qualities, if not all. In short, I will try to strip the mystery of Scorpio itself so that it is a little more naked to all of our eyes.

LORE

“What do you want a meaning for? Life is a desire, not a meaning.”
(Charles Chaplin)

The first scorpions are believed to have evolved from water scorpions 425 to 450 million years ago in the Silurian period. It is suggested that they may have been the first animals to migrate from ocean life to habitation upon the land. Evidence for this lies in the fact that scorpions fluoresce under ultraviolet light, and during the Silurian period the ozone layer had yet to build up and hence the atmosphere was flooded with strong ultraviolet rays.

The stars of Scorpio, called Scorpius, were the stars seen to rise during the autumn equinox of the northern hemisphere from about 5000 to 1000 BCE, with Antares its major star in ascendance around 3700 to 3500 BCE, a time in which worship of Serqet became popular in Egypt. Serqet was a deification of Scorpius and possessed the magic of curing or inflicting poisons (her name can mean either “she who tightens the throat” or “she who causes the throat to breath”). She was a protective guardian against the forces of Apep. In this period Scorpius was regarded as a darkening gateway to the Underworld since at the autumn equinox the light failed rapidly as the Sun then began to move into the southern hemisphere. The Egyptian mythology of the divinely imbued Scorpion killing Osiris only for him to be reborn as Horus via Isis resonates with the annual journey of the Sun through this constellation – a time of darkness and death begins, only to lead inevitably to a time of renewal and rebirth.

To some of the Egyptians the scorpion was also the totemic entity which led the way into the Underworld – sometimes quite literally, as if you became lost in the caverns scorpions could often be found moving toward the warmth of the ceremonial rooms. Scorpius expressed the truth that there can be no life without death. As history and time advanced, other tales and versions were spun around this significance, such as the Greek tale of the giant Orion being slain by a scorpion, a tale which arises from the observation that the stars of Scorpius were seen to arise in the east just as those of Orion appeared to fall to the ground in the west. So, at least around 4,000 years ago and probably long before then, these stars were connected with darkness, death and resurrection, and they have been a scorpion for as long as we have records of them.

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From Scorpius we can also trace a direct line of symbolic meaning that leads to the Archangel Gabriel; as a guardian of one of the four annual stations, the solstices and equinoxes, Scorpius was placed at one of the four cardinal points in Egyptian tombs, along with Aquarius, Taurus and Leo. Later, these celestial figures then gave form to the idea of Archangelic guardians of the stations, with Gabriel guarding the West as Scorpius once did. Church architecture is full of occulted astrological symbolism as a result. Take a closer look and in some places you will even see stained glass depictions of horoscopes. The occult connection with Gabriel eventually associated itself with a particular star in the constellation of Scorpius, one of the four Royal stars of Persia, Antares.

Not only are these stars a formative influence behind the symbolism of the Archangel Gabriel they are also intimately connected with the stars of Libra, to which they gave birth around the time of Ptolemy (circa AD 90 – AD 168). At this time, the claws of the great Scorpion notably detached themselves and gave rise to the independent stars of the two pans of Libras scales – stars which the Romans appropriated for their goddess of Justice. Before this time, for example in ancient Mesopotamia, the claws of Scorpius were also referred to as scales or weighing and balancing instruments (in the Babylonian culture, they were sacred to the Sun god Shamash who was also the patron of truth and justice), but by the early 2nd century the distance between the claws and the body of Scorpius was very notable. As a consequence, Scorpius lost much of its contact with the ecliptic – it started drifting away from the pathway the Sun takes through the heavens, and thus the great mysteries of Scorpius began sinking into the deeps of space. We started formulating intellectual laws to govern situations which were formerly instinctively understood, and we started looking outward to deep space with greater progress. Human collective awareness began to fall away from its embrace of both life and death, leading to the current endeavor to cheat and conquer it and the widespread fear of aging. In the current era, the Sun only spends about 9 days among the stars of Scorpius, leading to the further misapprehension of ‘the 13th sign’, postulated to exist through the stars of Ophiucus which is slowly moving into the region inhabited by Scorpius. But these are matters of the stars, not of signs, which are two different things. There is no 13th sign, because signs are not constellations. The only factor that could plausibly change this and alter the zodiac signs we use is a geophysical event like a significant tilt in the Earths axis, resulting in a complete disruption of the seasons, or an even more catastrophic dislodging of Earth from its orbit.

While we are discussing this and Scorpio in one place, I would like to suggest the possibility that the conflation of the two concepts is a deliberate ploy on the part of those who wish to discredit astrology and its use without ever looking at the matter seriously at all. This should not be dismissed as a conspiracy theory – it is a conspiracy theory, but ask any modern practitioner of astrology if they have ever encountered this bias, and listen to the reality we experience. The obfuscation of the 13th sign has been trundled out periodically for decades. Each time our efforts to draw attention to the facts are not taken up by any of the mainstream media who help to spread the disinformation. Each time the conflation displays either a greater ignorance of the subject of astrology or a greater determination to deliberately misrepresent it. Check out what Deborah Houlding has written on this matter following a recent incident in this saga. This may actually all be directly related to Scorpio in a strange twist of astrological fate, as attempts to discredit astrology may have been an underlying part of the motivation for astronomers to change the classification of Pluto, considered a modern ruler of Scorpio (again, not understanding the subject and so not realizing that astrologers would just shrug). Whatever the cause, astrologers can counter it by giving more consideration to the stars as separate but related symbol sets. By largely ignoring them we perpetuate the environment in which this confusion can exist.

Returning to mythic tales, even earlier than this deathlike transformation of Scorpius itself following the time of Christ, stretching back to before ancient Mesopotamia where recorded history begins, the stars of Scorpius were connected with the nameless divine predecessors of Erishkigal, the ‘Great Lady Under Earth’, a nominally feminine figure with great power over both life and death and whose sexual magnetism was the rival of Venus, Ishtar or Aphrodite, yet without their more submissive qualities. Such was the fury and power of this terrible beauty that she could raise the dead to eat the living if she so desired. Here again we see the ancient connection between the stars of Libra and the stars of Scorpio, with a pair of scorpion headed figures guarding the entrance to her realm at the gates of Kurnugi, the land of darkness. The scorpion men open the doors for Shamash (Sun) as he travels out each day, and close the doors after him when he returns to the underworld at night. They also warn travelers of the danger that lies beyond the portal. Their heads touch the sky, ‘their terror is awesome’ and ‘their glance is death’.

From Scorpius, then, comes resonance with the dark, the mysterious, the supernaturally deadly and magnetically attractive qualities of Scorpio, along with its occult faculties and powers of transformation and shape-shifting as well as its fascination with death and the afterlife. It illuminates the sign (a good way to think of the relationship between stars and signs) with an inherent awareness of its indestructibility, even in death, for it carries with it a connection to the truth that life is indeed inseparable from death and that the modern avoidance of such dark matters is unhealthy and even more dangerous than what may lie hidden. And so it probes and where others would turn away from uncovering the truth, Scorpio is compelled to go further, where necessary violating taboos at times, but quietly. Secretly. Scorpio has no desire to be discovered going where no-one has gone before. It knows that people step on you for that. It is not seeking attention at all, instead, it clings to the shadows, watching, observing, gathering information and waiting for opportunities to present themselves. It is the assassin or the guardian angel of the zodiac. Which of the two you are dealing with can be a problem for many people to figure out, but it’s an even bigger problem for the guardian angels among the sign, of which there are far more than the villains.

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SUBSTANCE

“In the dark times, if you have something to hold on to, which is yourself, you’ll survive.”
(Whoopi Goldberg)

Readers with some knowledge of modern astrology may have noted from the above that there is an interesting connection between Scorpio and Pluto that goes way, way beyond the more recent connection that has been made between them (and also that Pluto has had a gender change op). The naming is the basis for the association in the first place, meaning that the association between the planet Pluto and the sign of Scorpio arises because the planet was named Pluto and not, for example, Vulcan (Roman god of the forge and fires). By naming it Pluto, astrological thinking was shepherded towards all the connections with Scorpio – the underworld, death, sex, the occult, transformation. Given that Pluto undoubtedly does display astrological qualities that firmly resonate with Scorpio (the astrological community is pretty much settled on this) the question astrologers today should be asking is whether that naming was a synchronous happening or whether the human race is more involved in an inherently magical creation of astrological significance than it thinks it is. I will leave my thoughts on all this and the connection between Pluto and Scorpio for a later article on Pluto, in the meantime you may like to read my post on Pluto in Scorpio.

The traditional planet considered to rule the sign and the planet to lend it most of its substance is Mars, and the connection is still just as valid in my experience. Scorpio is the Magnetic (or if you prefer, nocturnal) expression of Mars. It is what we will bleed for. It expresses the binding power of the will and determination, the desires and the passions we feel. It is our passions and desires that bind our will firmly to our objectives and thus ensure that we will eventually manifest them. Yet the Magnetic application of the will is unlike the Electric, and so unlike its cousin Aries, Scorpio only ever takes the head-on approach if it is the only course. Instead it is a strategist possessed of great patience in the pursuit of its desires and schemes. It watches and analyzes the situation carefully, preferably from underneath the safety of a cool, sheltering rock, hence it cannot also be spied upon, and consequently it excels in the art of perception, especially of vulnerabilities and things that are hidden. When the time comes to make its move, which is usually when the prey is most vulnerable, Scorpio strikes with lightning speed. So the energy of Mars is coiled up like the tail but can launch swift and deadly attacks, and the claws are more than just a weapon to attack with they are instruments of manipulation and detection, forceps used to investigate and peel apart. These are scientific instruments as much as they are defensive and offensive tools. Scorpions also possess formidable instincts, impressive and beautifully coloured and shaped armour as well as acute psychic powers, traits which the sign of Scorpio gifts to any object it hosts. The Magnetic activity of Mars is busy focusing the will on pulling together the effort to manifest its desires, and its actions are often invisible and subtle, but it’s all about mastering the defensive strategies rather than the offensive ones. Hence the secrecy, because silence is power and the moment your objective is revealed your cards are on the table for all to see and you are exposed, naked. You have to make the other guy get naked first. This is the stimulus that endows Scorpio with an intimidating degree of ‘x-ray vision’. Nothing remains hidden from them for long. They are consummate occult researchers and practitioners, the archetypal magicians of the zodiac, and for more reasons than one. They know not just how to strip the mystery bare and reveal its naked secrets, but also how to apply the will to cause astral realities to wither, form or transform.

Thus not only the destructive but also the regenerative power of the sign is unmatched. This regeneration is instinctive like that of a reptilian creature, meaning it requires almost no conscious effort, which leads many to suppose Scorpio is indestructible – chop off the tail, they just grow a new one, or throw off the entire skin – and this aspect of Scorpios power lies in reserve, waiting for an appropriate and necessary time for emergence. Its power is legendary in tales of love gone tragically wrong, as Scorpio just transmutes itself into a new being, leaving the shell of old love behind it like a metamorphosed butterfly, and its partner wondering how it was so easy for them to let them go. The saying “Scorpio is loyal unto death. Until you aren’t” is very apt. Their power of transmutation into a new state is connected with their ability to withdraw from surface awareness and plunge into core consciousness. As Scorpio evolves by releasing its own petty urges to control things or take revenge it gains even more impressive storehouses of power and energy than it had before, becomes more deeply and powerfully mysterious to others, and thus feels more like its true self. Once they have learned to focus their intense will and passion to create positive internal transformations in their lives rather than pursuing self destructive behaviour and emotional overload, their power lifts them and they soar to the tops of the highest mountains, especially when everything goes down the tubes. You find the best of them right in the thick of one disaster after another, yet holding it together with the composure of an eagle. The task then is to continually surrender to the endless intensity, to surf the wave as it grows ever higher. With Scorpio, then, a planet has the potential to act as a channel for the power of transmutation and resurrection. This implies powerful healing energy, but it can also manifest as the ability to regenerate and transform anything. Scorpio, as the process of death and rebirth, holds deep mysteries to be explored.

In terms of analogies Scorpio is a sign linked in the physical body to the reproductive and sexual organs and the excretory system including the bladder but not the kidneys, as well as the nose. It has a connection to the immune system, and with arousal and procreation. By reflex association with Taurus it can manifest in the throat (for example, note how the voice drops when boys enter puberty and the sex organs develop). In the astral body Scorpio connects with the functions of the Muladhara or Root chakra (where it generates procreative and sexual desire and power, transformation and renewal and deep grounding) and the Svadhistana or Sacral chakra (where it generates sexual orientation, sensuality and the transformation of the personality). Its colours are deep and bright reds, black and rich purple and all colours with a deep, velvety sheen. In the Hebrew Tree Kabbalah, Scorpio resonates with the tone A, the Hebrew letter Nun (‘Fish’) and the 22nd Path (from Tiphareth to Hod), concerning the magic of mummification, essence multiplication and the mastery of multiplication of astral forms, magic which is symbolised by the Death Arcana of the Tarot (see below). In alchemy, Scorpio is the operation of separation. Its stones according to folklore are the bloodstone and the topaz, also any of the stones of Mars, its animals encompass the reptiles and insects and range from the lizard and scorpion to the eagle, serpent and phoenix, its direction is north-east, its season mid-autumn, it is akin to moist temperatures, its places are haunted castles, abandoned ruins, alchemical laboratories, magical ritual sites, standing stones, marshlands, lakes with monsters in them, ponds, swamps, bogs, glaciers, all places which are havens for insects, arachnids, rodents and reptiles, burial grounds, cavern entrances, prisons and all darkened, creepy environments. Inside buildings it is wherever water collects – drains, toilets, muddy garden patches, damp rooms – as well as subterranean, private or hidden rooms like cellars and secret passages, locked chambers and hidden compartments, the bedroom or sex dungeon or places where precious but secreted valuables are secured. Locations or entities signified by Scorpio according to their own current (2017) national charts include Hungary (1989), Panama (1903), Honduras (1838), Austria (1918), Turkey (1923), Dominica (1978), Zambia (1964), the United Nations (1945), and Turkish Cyprus (1983). Some famed individuals with Scorpio as their Sun sign include Pablo Picasso, Bill Gates, Winona Ryder, Julia Roberts, Hillary Clinton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Marie Antoinette, Marie Curie, Martin Scorsese, Sylvia Plath, Voltaire, George Eliot, Theodore Roosevelt, Neil Gaiman, Tilda Swinton, Matthew McConaughey and Ivanka Trump.

Scorpio is gifted with the binding power of the will, the power through which the individual spirit condenses an astral body for itself. This is the source of the signs deep and intense passion and its insight into astral reality. This binding power is like that of Taurus, its opposite sign, an Earth sign which acts to bind forms to Unity at the most fundamental level, where they are existent as Greater Selves. The difference is first that Scorpio is internally focused, whereas Taurus is externally focused, second that Scorpio is astrally and emotionally focused while Taurus is existentially and practically focused, and third that Scorpio is ruled by thrill-seeking Mars and Taurus by calm-loving Venus. As a Fixed or Stable expression of Water it is the most immobile and uncompromising of the Water signs, given to intense accumulations of emotion which can erupt with overwhelming passion and intensity, but such can be used for good or ill.

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DARKNESS

“There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and have recovered hope.”

(George Eliot)

As a sign with a deep connection to the underworld Scorpio understands darkness of all kinds better than any other. This understanding often taints them with an aura of darkness that others frequently misunderstand or grow fearful of, Yet without it the world would paradoxically be plunged into even greater darkness as it is the scorpions among us who lead us through it to the warmth and golden light of subterranean ceremonial chambers, wherein we can perceive the eternal light of the core consciousness burning fiercely for all time and throughout all space. In other words it is the Scorpio within us that allows us to rise up when we are destroyed, to see through the darkness and to walk through hell with composure and dignity. It is the Scorpio within us, so innately connected to the darkness of life – the grief, the horror, the suffering and cruelty – that awakens our passion for caring and loving more intensely, more fully, as if there is no tomorrow. What the scorpion within us instinctively knows is that we are indestructible – our core consciousness, as spirit, has no beginning or end, only infinite transformations of form. It is the part of our soul that carries the awareness that our spirit has lived and died and lived and died and lived and died and will continue to do so for all eternity. It has experienced death again and again and again, not just of others but of itself. It knows that there is nothing to fear in death, and that our destruction – whether it be physical, financial or emotional – cannot ever extinguish our core consciousness, and thus we will rise from any tragedy. Scorpio is the part of us that has walked the surface of the Earth countless times and has made the journey between the Earth and what lies beyond for forgotten ages. It has seen for itself the indestructible nature of its being, its own ability to rise from ashes like a flaming Phoenix toward the stars. It has found complete trust in this undying fire.

The mysteries of existence thus begin to unravel before the gaze of Scorpio because they see through the thick clouds of fear that obscure our vision of the astral realm and its promise. Although many of the sign only instinctively sense these truths and act upon them unconsciously, there are also those who become conscious of this fact and begin to use this faculty for the betterment of other human beings. For this reason the sign makes not only an excellent detective but also a profound psychological therapist and analyst capable of deep and penetrating insight into the emotional life and the psyche. As a Water sign of the planet Mars it also understands the actions that are necessary to have an effect upon the emotional body. When Scorpio is hurt or defending itself, this can become a fatal weapon. The sting of the Scorpion in this case is loaded with a poison that slowly chokes the life out of the emotional body because it strikes at the Achilles heel of the soul. Scorpio is even capable of transmitting this kind of attack with a mere look, but a few well chosen words are usually involved. On the other hand, when used positively this quality of being able to understand the actions necessary to have an effect upon the emotional body can bring immediate calmness and comfort and even peace and wisdom to those in distress, even those in fresh trauma. The truth that Scorpio is able to penetrate is not only at times uncomfortable and dark, it can also be transformative and empowering – especially when the matter at hand is dark and terrible for the soul. For this reason, anyone who has a loyal Scorpio friend usually counts them among the most important advisers they have known. There is literally no mystery which Scorpio cannot unravel at least a little bit, perhaps even entirely, given enough time and intense determination, and no trauma their devotion cannot soothe. Once they have set their course on solving a particular mystery or transforming a particular feeling or situation for themselves or another, their innate defiance, willpower and the knowledge that so long as they are determined they can never be defeated, all in addition to their occult power, make them truly formidable and impressive human beings. Given enough reason to do so, i.e. given enough love and devotion by another, Scorpio would walk naked into hell for you. No darkness can deter them from honouring the passionate feelings of loyalty and love that they are capable of whenever given an opportunity to give them away to someone who can be trusted with them. And this is why they know darkness so well.

So, into the dark churning waters we dive as love calls to us from within the mysterious depths of being – this is the mantra of Scorpio dancing behind the hypnotic eyes that scan the ocean and all that moves within it. The sign has an innate radar for significance – the vast objects and bodies moving through the ocean of the astral realm. It can feel the behemoths and leviathans of the deep, the mysterious entities swirling in its current, the little movements that give away the predators and the prey, the answers that lurk in the sunken wrecks and caverns, the truths and treasures that emerge from the fathoms. Scorpio can sit and listen to the words other people say and sense the significance moving around them, so it can see slightly ahead as if psychically possessing the ability to know the future. Really, what they are doing is first feeling (like ripples) and then spotting the aquatic fin swimming invisibly towards you and figuring out whether it is a shark or a dolphin, and they are extremely good at this. They may not always be able to justify their feelings to others, because some of the feelings of Scorpio are so intense or profound that they defy description and some of their sources of those feelings are occulted even to them, but those feelings are always significant ones that are worth paying attention to. Scorpios who have developed their psychic and magical faculties understand these things at even deeper levels. They know that all beings are connected by the astral and that this connection has a life of its own that must be mastered or else it will master the magician. It has an innate understanding that there are demonic as well as angelic beings in this realm and that each of them has a role to play and a specific form which reveals that role. This brings us to consider the deepest or most essential magic of Scorpio. The magic of this sign often lies at the intersections of sex, death and power, or in binding spells (akin to Saturn magic), or in banishing and transmutation, but the really enlightening mystery is why.

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MAGIC

This magic is akin to that of Capricorn in that it is involved in shaping astral form (and so also the reverse, disintegrating it). However, where Capricorn is a process concerned with the magic by which our physical-astral (or personal) experiences are formed through the existence of laws (such as karma), Scorpio is concerned with a more fundamental creation of pure astral form. Capricorn acts more to sculpt and design the personal experience we need in order to grow, to cause the significance of experience to build up into a lifetime of personal experience or wisdom, whereas Scorpio has a literal power of life and death over that personal body of experience. Of the two, Scorpio is the primal astral factor shaping the astral body, the individual will that sustains it, and Capricorn its ongoing development of its form in the astral, a more Earthy process of gradual shaping by time. This is the occult nature of the astrological sextile that exists between them, the magical nature of the stimulus between the two signs.

image by Rawn Clark

On the Gra Tree of Life, Scorpio is shown as the mental plane expression of Water into the astral plane, giving birth to Yesod, the seat of astral awareness. Thus, Scorpio assumes a formative and transformative power of influence over all astral matters and a depth of penetrating perception into its substance, significance, which lends it tremendous force of will and emotional intensity. It is in essence analogous to the formation of astral life. It is Scorpio more than any other sign that has insight into the nature of Water and the astral plane. No other sign employs a greater command of its feelings than Scorpio, and the sign is also gifted with the insight that allows it to perceive the deeper significance of things and even to manipulate the emotions and astral nature of others, faculties which can again be employed for good or ill. The beings of the astral are often in awe of someone with a strong emphasis on this sign, hence the intense hypnotic magnetism that surrounds these people. Scorpio is also the master of astral transformation and is able to take on many forms, it is the quintessential spy and an adept of self reinvention. The potential for Scorpio is intense – either it will rise to undreamed of heights, or stoop to new lows.

A key mystery to reflect upon here is how the process of decay and death enriches life and causes it to multiply rather than diminish and vanish. The corpse of the animal at the introduction to this post not only feeds the wriggling body of insects, but its decay and eventual disintegration feeds the soil and the plants and numerous other forms of life. In the same way, the death of not just the human body but also the human soul serves only to enrich life and cause its seed to multiply and propagate further. This mystery is the core magic encoded in the tarot Arcana called Death. The soul undergoes a second death following its physical death, because the soul is simply the conduit between the physical body and the spirit, which following death must return to its source, the Greater Self. Once the physical body can no longer house the spirit there is no longer a physical root for the soul or astral body to adhere to, and so it too gradually disintegrates just as the physical body is doing. However since there are no physical cells or organs, what must disintegrate are the astral cells and organs – the significance of our earthly experience, the personal dimension of our journey must be relived and that significance must be released, we must let go of this lifetime before we can move on to another. The personal experience of the soul – everything it has personally felt and thought and done and had done to it – must be returned to where we gathered it from. For the soul, this experience involves a kind of memory or reliving of all its experience, yet without the physical brain to interpret it, the raw significance is made intensely and undeniably clear. As our experiences are relived on this astral journey, the Elements of those experiences return to the Elements of the astral realm from which they were drawn. Thus, we must not only experience what we have felt and the significance this has had for us we must also experience what others have felt and the significance this has had for them. This last fact is what makes the journey perilous, and why great attention was given to this aspect of life in ritual Egyptian practice and in other cultures possessing this wisdom and magic. The process of these magical operations helps to educates the spirit in what its next incarnation must strive for as well as protecting it throughout the journey. A relationship to a deity, mentor or guru can also guide and protect the soul in this transition. Now this work is primarily and sometimes only done by Guardian Angels, the Greater Selves. 

Ultimately the soul eventually disintegrates leaving only the now naked spirit with its memories and lessons, but aspects of the souls existence can be preserved. This is the magic of mummification. In Egyptian ritual practice, the keeping of four canopic jars holding ritually removed and prepared physical organs (liver, intestines, lungs and stomach) was a magical practice designed to aid the journey the soul would make, and/or to preserve parts of the soul in the astral realm. These parts of the soul – the fundamental Elements – could then become separate entities with their own instructions, often to aid the soul in later incarnations or to protect those the soul cared for, for example. In this way, occult development could be preserved and remembered along with experiences, and a form of astral immortality attained. The heart was never removed because it was believed that this organ would have its astral counterpart weighed on the scales of Maat against a feather, representing cosmic truth (a metaphor for the entire process we are discussing here, but specifically its endpoint). Similar practices also occurred in other places where mummification was practiced, such as in South America and China. Today the journey each soul must make is far more perilous because we have not only abandoned these practices, but our entire attitude to death has become more ignorant and negative.

While this “astral death” is very profoundly analogous to Scorpio, what is often missed is that its reverse is also analogous to Scorpio. The creation of astral life and the birth of astral form is a process that occurs through concentrating and focusing the individuality of the spirit as it seeks incarnation. Its desire to have a particular incarnation following on from this intense experience draws to it the necessary astral Elements from within the astral plane as it prepares for incarnation on the mental plane. The spirit creates a soul by accumulating specific individual uniqueness that distinguishes it and differentiates it from every other incarnation that will ever exist. So, for example, it might start out with more general notions of needing to be born a particular race (let’s say a white supremacist has reincarnated and needs now to be a black African – ‘needs’ meaning there is a necessity that it recognizes). It might then perceive a need to be a particular gender as well. Other general choices and specifications will be conjured and blended together out of necessities and this process will continue in greater and finer detail so that each and every aspect of the individual spirit will be utterly unique and also a response to its former experience, its former astral death. When this process of concentrating the will of the spirit reaches a particular density it causes the formation of a new astral body, a tapestry of significance, to form around it. This is the point at which the wave collapses into a particle and starts resonating with other astral particles, clustering together into an astral form that will in turn guide the clustering of physical cells into physical forms. All of this happens concurrently in both the womb of the mother and in the astra-mental planes. Hence, there were companion rituals to the death rituals which nurtured the soul and spirit of the mother and child while they were making this journey together. This connection is the essence of the connection between Scorpio and the sex organs and sexual reproduction as well as all the magic of sex. 

Scorpio, then, is a magician of the deeps, a master of the creation and destruction of astral forms. It can feel when and what form of significance is present and it can feel its movement in people and things. It can arouse these forms and stimulate new astral life. It knows how the focusing of the mind draws to it that which it desires or dwells upon, as well as how it can banish feelings from its mind through acts of will. It understands the core astral mechanic which leads to the creation of physical transformation – the application of the true will (the magical will which is not deceived by personal subjectivity) can with enough intensity cause astral waves to collapse into particles, and control over the variables involved can bring about specific manifestations of significance. This is the core magic of Scorpio from which all of its qualities emerge – it’s passion and intensity, its ability to transform both itself and others as well as life in general, its ability to perceive deeply into astral significance and to match that significance in ways which cause it to transmute, its fascination with death and sex and the occult, and its keen sense of things that would otherwise remain hidden.

The Great Now in the Signs

This month I am thrilled to be able to offer a guest post from a keen student of astrology and magic and a dear friend! –

Hi, I’m Leslie. I’ve been studying astrology for more than ten years, and I’m also a student of hermetics. Some time ago I decided to share my insights on a specific topic, which is the Great Now, a magical perspective on what we colloquially call the present moment. All of those insights come from my personal experience of astrology and the Great Now. I believe that at this point in time the Great Now is not only of utmost importance to hermetic magicians, but to all of humanity, no matter their spiritual orientation. Authors like Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now, A New Earth) and Helen Schucman (A Course in Miracles) provide excellent information and meditations for hermetic students and everyone else alike.

David has generously given me the opportunity to put my writings up as a guest post on this blog and has also served as editor, adding valuable comments throughout the text. It was also David’s idea to add information about the role of each sign in the Gra tree of life. For more information on this natural arrangement of the Kabbalistic tree of life, please refer to Rawn Clark’s book Permutations of the Tree.

In this post I would like to show how I perceive the signs of the zodiac as different aspects and qualities of the Great Now. Note: throughout the text I will use the terms “Great Now” and “present moment” interchangeably.

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In Step VIII of his book Initiation Into Hermetics (1971 Rüggeberg edition, translated by A. Radspieler), Franz Bardon introduces the student to the concept of the Great Now. But in fact the work with the Great Now already starts in Step I of the practical section, which contains three mental exercises:

  • observation of thought
  • one-pointedness of thought and
  • emptiness of mind.

Through these exercises, the student gradually learns to disidentify with their thoughts. What remains is awareness of one’s self as pure BEing, which later naturally turns into awareness of one’s oneness with everything that is. In Kabbalistic terms, these perspectives of awareness are represented by the Sephiroth of Tiphareth and the uppermost three Sephiroth of Binah, Chokmah and Kether.

Through disidentification with thought, the importance of past and future in one’s life and perception becomes diminished. Linear past and future as we know it are astra-mental concepts that are based on one’s own story, a collection of selective memories and projections. The only moment that ever really exists is the present moment which Franz Bardon calls the Great Now. This is also the one place of power that enables the magician to focus their intent.

The Great Now is inextricably linked to the Akasha, with both being ungraspable and infinitely finite. The Akasha is the omnipresent infinitesimal ocean of stillness, the formless potency that underlies all crystallized forms. Everything that comes into form arises from the Akashic void, in its most primordial form through the Fluids and Elements.

Working with the Great Now and the Akasha gradually unveils the layers of self that underlie the personal and mundane. This is why Bardon tells the student to continue with the emptiness of mind exercises throughout the whole course. The exercises pertaining to the Astral Equilibrium also contribute to this process.

Through contemplation of the relationship of the signs to the Great Now we gain access to meditation gateways that lead us deeper into the present moment. The Lights and planets emphasize different aspects of the Great Now as they pass through the signs, so keeping an eye on their positions can help us choose especially powerful meditations. The placement of the Lights and planets in one’s own birth chart also gives us hints as to how our astral self relates to the present moment. For example if your Sun is in Leo then it is a very good idea to look closely at the Leo aspect of the Great Now and try to work with that.

Aries

AriesCardinal Fire. The innocence of Mars. Spontaneous, impulsive action that is unfettered by astra-mental conditioning arises out of the Great Now. In its purest form there is no other basis for one’s action than the Akasha, so whatever action arises conforms to universal legality. It is “just right”. One example of this in action is when a person is in mortal danger. The mind gets blanked and all awareness is focused on the present moment. The image of Mars in Aries as a warrior on the battlefield is a very apt symbolism for this. There is a direct application of one’s Will upon the Great Now.

In the Gra tree the Fire sign path of Aries from Kether to Chokmah gives birth to the Pillar of Force.

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Taurus

taurusFixed Earth. The abundance of Venus. Deeply rooted in being you feel the universal love that is all around you, and the aliveness of yourself and everything else. You become a rock that is a match for all waves that come crashing against you. A bull that is so confident in its foundation that nothing shakes its calmness. Practice of presence leads to realization of this interconnectedness of all being, and thus constant unwavering feelings of abundance and happiness.

When we are not in tune with the Great Now, our bodies become disconnected. The mental body is flying around in the landscapes of thought, the astral or emotional body follows it unconsciously like an appendage and the physical body gets left behind entirely in unconsciousness as the largest part of awareness resides in the mental body which is somewhere else entirely. Taurus is also about keeping the present moment grounded, putting the focus on simplicity and physical and material nature.

In the Gra tree the Earth sign path of Taurus from Kether to Binah gives birth to the Pillar of Form.

Gemini

TwinsMutable Air. The curiosity of Mercury. Gemini perceives the Great Now as a restless eruption of patterns which it must witness and report like a journalist.

In the present moment everything seems to be fresh and new, even things and thought-forms that have surrounded us for years and are very familiar. Observe how a new environment, for example during a trip to another city or country, instills presence in us. Our eyes revel in direct perception of our surroundings. Observe also how things quickly become familiar again. After a couple of days our perception of them fades into the background and we just take them for granted.

Through Gemini and the Great Now we also have the opportunity to get a first-hand perception of the polarity of everything and the realization that there is duality in everything, unless one moves beyond the level of thinking.

In the Gra tree the sign path of Gemini from Chokmah to Tiphareth imbues Force to the Mental plane.

Cancer

KrebsCardinal Water. The all-loving motherly embrace of the Moon. Through the present moment we return to our source. The sextile to Taurus shows a similarity in that both are gates to happiness and the perception of being loved. Through Taurus there is a stronger focus on the vessels of being, while Cancer points more towards formless primordial bliss. Cancer perceives the Great Now as a wholly rhythmic and cyclical expression of the universe caring for itself and its creations. Direct perception of another being as it happens through alertness in the Great Now bypasses conditioned responses and naturally induces love for oneself and other beings. This bypassing is in itself a Cancerian act.

In the Gra tree the Water sign path of Cancer from Binah to Tiphareth gives Form to the Mental plane.

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Leo

LeoFixed Fire. The illuminating rays of the Sun. Charisma and creativity are things that do not arise out of the mind, but out of strong presence in the Great Now which leads to a direct connection with the Akasha. The wider we open our windows to the primordial source the more charismatic we become to others, and the more creative our thoughts and actions will be. Consciousness of the Leonine Light of Awareness arises, and we begin to direct our rays of awareness more carefully and consciously. The Light of our awareness also becomes softer as our resistance to the objects we let it shine upon lessens and makes room for a feeling of connectedness and love. Leo fixates on the eternal nature of the spirit which shines through the Great Now. It perceives this directly in itself unlike Aquarius.

In the Gra tree the Fire sign path of Leo from Tiphareth to Gedulah emanates Force from the Mental plane.

Virgo

VirgoMutable Earth. Directed crystallization through Mercury. Deeper immersion in the Now brings about benefits of a Virgoan nature. The perception of details is enhanced so that a particular object of focus reveals more. In the context of direct perception this is very different from perceiving things intellectually. The focus on depth and detail is the general characterization of Mercury in Virgo, but through the lens of the intellect everything is filtered heavily. Alert direct perception through the present moment moves the spotlight from thought-forms to the essence of the object being perceived. Instead of clothing one’s perceptions in symbols and language constructs it allows the observer to recognize the fullness of the outer world in oneself, i.e. the macrocosm in the microcosm. Further benefits of direct present-moment perception that are part of the Virgo experience include enhanced memory and the ability to adapt to the ever-changing astra-mental-physical state of the Now with greater ease. Another domain of Virgo is the hands-on production of arts and crafts. More time spent in the present moment while working on a piece of art will allow it to be infused with greater amounts of Light, resulting in a vast increase in the quality of the art produced. This is the difference between a mediocre piece of art and one that really touches the perceiver in a fundamental way. Virgo is about perceiving the innate perfection of the Great Now and striving to harvest it.

In the Gra tree the Earth sign path of Virgo from Tiphareth to Geburah emanates Form from the Mental plane.

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Libra

LibraCardinal Air. The vibrational harmony aspect of Venus. True balance among things starts with an all-encompassing mode of perception so that all the sides of an issue are apparent. This requires some degree of focus and attention, as well as an ability to let go of purely intellectual observation of the issue at hand. The ensuing act of bringing about balance and harmony has similar requirements. Putting one’s alert present-moment attention on an object and being still with it allows one to integrate its vibration with one’s own. Flexibility of the astral body increases and allows for greater harmony with others. Eventually there is a clear perception of the equilibrium of the Great Now.

In the Gra tree the Air sign path of Libra from Gedulah to Yesod imbues Force to the Astral plane.

Scorpio

scorpioFixed Water. Right and unconditioned action of Mars and Pluto.

Pure unadulterated perception has to be direct. Judgement and evaluation are subject to conditioning. Examples are biological conditioning, conditioning through society, through experiences in childhood, and conditioning rooted in past life experiences. Finding all the modes and causes of one’s conditioning is an impossible task. Their exploration is a worthy endeavour, but it has to be pursued alongside with the deepening of a mode of perception and action that bypasses these things completely. Being still and alert in the Great Now sidesteps all conditioning, liberating the inner child and bringing about the innocence of Mars. This is what makes the arising of true love possible.

Another aspect of this is a further deepening of the vibrational harmony that has been pursued in Libra. Mars and especially Pluto confront us with situations that are designed to challenge us emotionally. These often come in the form of death, loss (which is just another kind of death) or conflicts of power. The emotions that arise, no matter how difficult, have to be held in the astral body and have to be allowed to flow. We need to put our full present-moment awareness on them and regard them with love. Both negative and positive astral beings have their place in creation. I believe this is one of the things that Franz Bardon meant by saying “The genuine magician takes life such as it is; he enjoys the good things and learns something from the bad ones” (IIH Step VIII, Magic Psychic Training, section 1). Scorpio is representative of the astral depth of the Great Now and its power to open us to occult mysteries.

In the Gra tree the Water sign path of Scorpio from Geburah to Yesod gives Form to the Astral plane.

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Sagittarius

SagiMutable Fire. The ever-burning fires of Jupiter. The symbolisms of the centaur archer are manifold.

We humans have strong links to animal nature. Animals inspire us and aid us, and require the same from us. Through our evolution we are part animal as well, symbolized by the lower part of the centaur. Its upper part is human which changes our overall nature to a degree where we often find it difficult both to relate to other animals and to integrate our animal nature with it. Understanding and relating to a being (this includes our very own animal) through direct perception and alert interaction in the Great Now gifts us with the ability to jump this hurdle and
recognize the oneness of everything perceived.

The glyph of Sagittarius is an arrow piercing through the arc of perception. In the Great Now this piercing through comes in the form of alert, still, non-judgmental perception of another, expanding
one’s own astra-mental boundaries. This also has powerful effects on the mind and its patterns.

Sagittarius is also trust in life and the belief and knowledge that the whole of creation in every moment is Good and Beautiful, and that our paths always lead to our desired destinations, even if
some milestones do not seem to make sense to us. It is the identifier of truth: the present moment Is always a crystallisation of truth, being the cutting edge between what has happened and what will happen.

In the Gra tree the Fire sign path of Sagittarius from Yesod to Netzach emanates Force from the Astral plane.

Capricorn

CapricornCardinal Earth. The undeniable reality of what is now, as revealed by Saturn.

The Great Now has the property of being what it is. No resistance on our part can change that. What we *can* change though is our relation to it, and our perception of it. Accepting what is in full awareness instead of astra-mentally running away from situations that offer adversarial vibrations opens up a pathway in us that allows the flows of life to run through us in greater quantity. The section on Aquarius below elucidates this further.

Capricorn is often said to be about survival, the ties of tradition and coping with entrenched power structures. However it is our very belief in the existence and inevitability of those things that reinforces them and causes them to continue. In the Gra tree of life, Capricorn gives birth to Form from the astral plane, causing mental beliefs and the emotions that are being caused by those beliefs to crystallize to physical density.

One path of initiation in the Great Now that is being taught by Capricorn is as follows: start with non-judgmental, alert awareness of what is. Acceptance and love follow naturally in this process. Then start changing your intent and emotions to express how you would like reality to be. Through the powers of Saturn in Capricorn, change is inevitably effected.

Capricorn in the Great Now also teaches us about the interaction of time with space and form. Through our immersion in the Great Now, Saturn changes our perception of time and space and, Divine Providence permitting, reveals to us their non-linearity and oneness.

In the Gra tree the Earth sign path of Capricorn from Yesod to Hod emanates Form from the Astral plane.

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Aquarius

aquariusFixed Air. The direct connection to the Divine through Uranus, and the transcending of form governed by Saturn.

Aquarius is about our relationships to others, with an emphasis on co-creation through mutual harmonized resonance for a greater goal.

The relation of Aquarius to its ruling planets shows us two different approaches. Through Uranus, its modern ruler, transcendence of a state is inspired by Divine Intent. Thus, change is initiated from the transcendent realm. Saturn’s approach is to show us our limitations so that we may go beyond them, effectively transcending our old selves. But no matter how we go about it, either way we work with the essence of Aquarius, the clarity aspect of Light.

Through the Great Now we become aware of our own vibrations, and how these relate to the vibrations of other beings. We detect inharmonious frequencies with great clarity and are thus given the opportunity to modulate them to a more desirable state. In this way we become familiar with different vibrations and become more attuned to them.

The deeper one’s presence in the Great Now the easier it becomes for life energy to flow through us and transform ourselves and our life circumstances. Inner and thus outer blockages dissolve.

In the Gra tree the Air sign path of Aquarius from Netzach to Malkuth imbues Force to the Physical plane.

Pisces

piscesMutable Water. Flowing oneness in highest vibration, Jupiter and Neptune.

In the Aquarius aspect of the Great Now we explore our mutual resonance with everything. This prepares us for the realization that we *do* have a connection to everything that is, was and will be. Time, space and consciousness become one, and there is a merging with Divine Unity.

The closer one moves into the consciousness of Unity the more surrendered one becomes. Accepting the Great Now as it is in every moment produces a feeling of peace and the innate knowledge that Beauty and Good are omnipresent throughout creation. And surrendering to and being at peace with the way things are in every moment, i.e. the state of the macrocosm, naturally means being at peace with oneself, the microcosm, and vice-versa.

In the Gra tree the Water sign path of Pisces from Hod to Malkuth gives Form to the Physical plane.


Thank you Leslie for these very interesting thoughts!

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