Burning Truth, Flaming Arrow: On Sagittarius

Greetings, and welcome to another in depth monthly post, this time we look at Sagittarius!

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For Ben and Tina

The Centaurs
by James Stephens

Playing upon the hill three centaurs were!
They lifted each a hoof! They stared at me
And stamped the dust!

They stamped the dust! They snuffed upon the air!
And all their movements had the fierce glee
Of power, and pride, and lust!

Of power and pride and lust! Then, with a shout,
They tossed their heads, and wheeled, and galloped round,
In furious brotherhood!

In furious brotherhood! Around, about,
They charged, they swerved, they leaped! Then, bound on bound,
They raced into the wood!

 

Sagittarius is the sign of the teacher and the teaching, of the aspirant and the mentor, the roaming comet and the quest and the adventurous arrow loosed upon the far seen target over the philosophical horizon, but it was not always so. It is more anciently the sign of the feared warrior on horseback and the sign of a lethal weapon, usually from range. This part has been forgotten in the more romantic take on Sagittarius of the present day, but it is an ancient one and it still stands. Indeed, the focus of the entire constellation and its sign is not really on the centaur, but on the arrow. This weapon adds to the thrusting, creative power of life an awareness that its existence must mean something but does not reveal what it is, only that its location is somewhere over the next horizon, out there in the vast reaches of experience.

It is, in essence, an aspiring energy, a wandering, wayfaring, somewhere over the rainbow and horizon kind of force. Sagittarius is all about faith in winning the lottery, faith in principles, in family and in the innate moral and ethical ways of being that the soul instinctively knows are right. It believes in higher forces, and benevolent ones, either as God, Karma, Laws of the Land, or simply as integrity and conscience, to put things right. The archers bullseye is the meaning of life. When in despair, it is its meaninglessness. In short, Sagittarius is a spiritual warrior that looks up for truth and guidance and is crushed by a crippling sense of meaninglessness if it fails to find its target.

Below are some examples of common Sagittarius qualities for you to meditate upon:

 

WHITE MIRROR

Zealous
Devout
Philosophical
Exotic
Charmer
Truth-seeking
Multi-cultural
Educated
Optimistic
Universalistic
Honest
Broad Minded
Questing Spirit
Direct
Spontaneous
Motivational
Forthright
Swift
Adventurous
Free roaming

 

BLACK MIRROR

Crusading
Dogmatic
Impractical
Extremist
Rogue
Invader of Privacy
Xenophobic
Brainwashed
Hopelessly Idealistic
Lack of Particulars
Foot-In-Mouth Syndrome
Gullible
Restlessness
Rudely Blunt
Destructive Wildfire
Warlike
Forcefully Pushy
Unprepared
Bored
Rootless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LORE

The stars of Sagittarius show a man with the lower half of a horse, rearing up and pulling back a bow and arrow while a starry cloak billows behind him. Sometimes a crown or laurel rests on his knee or beneath his hoof. It is a figure of cosmic action and power being gathered into a tense focus that is then unleashed with a swiftness the eye cannot follow. The above digital image was taken recently and shows the presence of Mars, Saturn and Pluto in this region of the sky. The constellation itself resembles a teapot with the Sagittarius form extending to surrounding stars. 

Babylonian cuneiform tablets in the Euphrates are among our earliest depictions of these stars, and they unambiguously label it ‘The Giant King of War’ and ‘The Strong One’. Here it was depicted as the fearsome deity Nergal, god of war and death (also associated with Mars), a being having two heads, one human which faced forwards and one animal (perhaps a panther) which faced backwards (and which later, together with the concept of wings, morphed into a billowing cloak), and even earlier on it is shown as a man with a scorpions tail drawing a bow. To the Sumerians these lights are named Pabilsag, a word which is composed of Pabil (meaning ‘elder paternal kinsman’) and Sag (meaning ‘chief, head’). Pabilsag then represents the eldest forefather, the one with the greatest knowledge and instruction from life, the eldest sage and an honoured figurehead. Visually Pabilsag resembles a centaur armed with a bow but with wings and a scorpions tail, placing even more emphasis on the deadly nature of the creature, since it can not only attack from afar but also from above, as well as being a terrifying threat in close quarters. This imagery may be the source of the legends of the manticore and other chimera. These early manifestations of the Sagittarius spirit underscore its warlike intimidation factor and show the nature of the beast as one not to be trifled with.

Dendera

The Egyptians saw it in the more focused and reductionist form of a hand holding an arrow, but later depictions (such as in the Dendera zodiac in the Temple of Hathor) give it the centaur form as well, but with the face of a lion. In the Dendera zodiac he is called ‘Pi-maere’, which means to come forth with graciousness or beauty (like a horse) and the symbols under his hind foot read ‘Knem’, which means something like ‘He conquers’, harking back to the warlike focus again. The Persians, Turks and Syrians also had names for it meaning The Bow or Bow and Arrow.

There are competing traditions in Greek myth. In one, these stars were placed there by Chiron (along with Centaurus, another centaur constellation not to be confused with Sagittarius). He creates them both to guide Jason on his quest to find the Golden Fleece, signifying their power to guide heroic epics and long journeys to strange places. In another view they are Chiron himself, although other traditions assign Chiron to Centaurus instead, which is a much gentler centaur. The Greeks also explain that the stars of Sagittarius are Crotus, a great hunter and musician as well as an inventor who contrived the hunting bow and the rhythmic beats used to accompany music, and so was exalted to the heavens by the Muses. It was also known as the Satyr, a wild centaur, and the centaur attribution may have permanently established itself when the addition of horseback riding made archers the most lethal and feared of military assets. Yet this was just a new phase in the expression and form of a constellation that had always been an untamed, rowdy, wild, fierce and martial zone of the sky.

As history and time passed and the bow was gradually replaced by other, more fearsome long-range weapons, such as cannon, guns and missiles (and perhaps as they confused the gentler Chiron/Centaurus with Sagittarius), people stopped seeing the constellations arrows as a threat or weapon and more as a focusing of power. In consequence, the lethality with which this figure was viewed softened and almost entirely disappeared from interpretation. The emphasis of thinking shifted onto the hybrid form of the centaur instead of the weaponry he wields, but the fierce nature of this creature is not so easily expunged from the psyche. It is, in truth, a powerful natural urge within us all, an urge to express the wilder parts of ourselves and to target and arrive at the truth. The centaur is a hedonistic being enchanted by drunken revelry and the glory of war, a spirit that seeks to gallop freely across the land, roaming as it will, following only the path that leads to the farthest horizon. Its instinct for wild freedoms makes raucous, humorous, broadly generalized statements and rises to every challenge, every slight and every setback with a burning heart aimed at victory. It thunders into action and refuses to be tamed because it reasons that this is slavery.

The arrow of Sagittarius is aimed directly at the star Antares, the heart star of Scorpius. This may be to protect nearby Hercules from its sting or to avenge the slaying of Orion by the scorpion. Whatever the case may be, the modern day presence of the stars of Scorpius in the Sagittarius zodiac sign reminds us again of the sharpness and lethality of Sagittarius, the tip of the arrow resonant with the tip of the tail, both potentially dripping with poisons. Thus these stars underscore the martial and Mars like nature of the sign, its warlike spirit which tackles things head on and is not intimidated by threats.

 

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SUBSTANCE

As the lore illustrates there are three core powers or qualities to the constellation, all of which inform our understanding of its sign. The first is its combat readiness and its lethal weaponry given to long range attack, the second is its hybrid animal/human form, and the third is its swiftness and noble grace, symbolised by the billowing cloak, angelic wings and the dynamic pose of the cloven feet, which seem to have some kind of fiery power beneath them. These are the core qualities of the zodiac sign, but there are as ever deeper layers beyond these significations which reveal its immanent and inherent magical power.

Sagittarius is a Mutable (Reactive) Fire sign, the Electric manifestation of Jupiter as an external force seeking instruction in the significance of being and life, and among the keywords of this are inspiring optimism, broad vision, enthusiastic seeking, martial athleticism, rowdiness, frankness, goal questing, intuitive reasoning, gypsy charm, truth seeking, truthful honesty, a lack of discretion and adventurous restlessness.

Fire distributes the raw energy of creation onward as the expansive movement of the Light of conscious being, the life force, and is a dancing flame of positive potentials and possibilities, of foresight and prophecy. In its mundane expression Fire is both the Will and the awareness that we are alive, as well as our awareness of life around us. Reactive or Mutable Fire is the mobility of this life force, its capacity to pass from one place to another, like the way plants photosynthesize light. The speed of light and the swiftness with which physical fire can spread as well as its insatiable hunger for new resources to consume – its very survival depends on this – is lent to the zodiac sign of Sagittarius.

Astrologically, Sagittarius is a sign whose qualities are shaped by its star lore being combined with the zodiacal tincture that is the Electric Fluid of Jupiter, the signs ruler. This means that the positive (i.e. Electric) expression of Jupiter is found in the core nature of the sign and this imbues it with gregariousness, great optimism, bluster and a roaming, romantic gypsy heart. Yet deeper than this, the essence of Sagittarius is in the awareness of what is right for the individual person, a strong sense of what resonates within us personally as being essentially true in nature. It does not comprehend why a resonance with a particular truth exists, but it does sense its general presence and is able to discern what it is, what it signifies. So for example you will often hear a Sun sign Sagittarius say they just have a hunch that something is right for them but they can’t explain it, and this is the signs affinity with resonance to personal truth. It is often communicated intuitively, as a hunch or an urge that we feel compelled to follow even if we do not know why. This is the essence of the Electric Fluid of Jupiter, made animate and alive in the sign Sagittarius. It leads us forwards to discover what lies beyond the boundaries, which often requires faith or trust. It is a Fire that lights the way through the dark orb of night like a comet or a torch.

robin-hood-2717675_1920This Electric Fluid of Jupiter brings not only a resonance with truthfulness and a ‘rough and ready’ attitude that treats life as an adventure, but in addition an unquenchable knowing that it all means something, a knowing that is the fuel for the truth seeking. The sign is therefore known as one of faith and belief not just because it is attuned to the big picture and the general vision of life, but also because it has this innate knowing that it truly does all mean something and there is always more to discover. In some people these inclinations take form around religious or spiritual beliefs, sometimes those of alien cultures and faraway lands but more generally these beliefs are those which humans have ‘crusaded’ for. When the innate faith and sense of meaning that Sagittarius possesses becomes enclosed by dogma it loses its ability to target the truth and its actions become as linear and predictable as those of an arrow flying through the air. The mind needs to be kept open to learning, especially when this learning comes from unfamiliar sources, and it must construct a moral philosophical framework that places meaning in context with life.

Sagittarius is also the developer of inspiration and has as its essential meaning the use of a temperate or balanced force (the blending of instinct and reason symbolised by the beast-man form of the Centaur) to consciously shape the personality through the seeking of truth (the arrow being loosed to the heavens). It inspires and so enlivens the archetypes of the planets and sets them in motion. Its dominant idea is ‘I See’ and this is in a truly prophetic and visionary sense where what we see is an inspiration.

Therefore it is not a sign of details and precision but one of far reaching aspirations and ideals. The sign has an ongoing, wide, future oriented approach that aims for the broader picture. It cannot be trusted on the crunchy facts but it can be trusted on the broader truth. Trusting in this intuitive sense of truth is what begets a buoyancy of spirit which attracts luck and good fortune, an exuberance which draws positive results, but we have to acknowledge our weaknesses in getting specific judgments right. The mutability of the sign also allows it to cope well with changes, seeing them as opportunities to grow and expand, and unfortunate blows tend not to deflate enthusiasm but to re-orient it – it points at a new target – but this adaptability also inclines it to more manipulation (and to being manipulative) than any other Fire sign. The truth can be a slippery customer.

When this sign is strong there is an arrow sharp (yet often unconscious) intuition formed by the marriage of a human intellect (the centaurs upper half) with the sheer power and wild instincts of the four-legged beast (the lower animal-half). The Centaur, upper half man, lower half beast, is a symbol of restrained and redirected raw power and instinct, a blend of natural power with mental contemplation. The philosophical and visionary nature of Sagittarius arises from this blend of natural animal instinct being led by the human quality that leads us to be seeking, aspiring and questing.

Young_Centaur_Musei_Capitolini_MC656The Centaur is not only a philosophical wanderer, athlete and seeker of broader truth – he is also an Archer, with a sharp eye and a strong arm, and a reveler. It is perhaps more the arrow of the Centaur that holds astrological significance than the Archer itself, as the glyph suggests. There is more than a dash of warrior Mars to the Jupiter ruled Sagittarius nature; just consult the legends and mythology associated with centaurs – Chiron was the gentler exception to a basically tempestuous, passionate herd of drunken revel makers whose passion for wild outdoor sex is hinted at not only in the bestial lower form but in the phallic arrow thrusting upwards at the open sky. This is a hot blooded Fire sign, one given to seek freedom of movement and far flung experience of all kinds.

This is known as one of the ‘lucky’ signs (along with Aries and Leo) because Fire is attuned directly to the universal life force energy and this makes these people feel more alive than most, more enthusiastic, and thus more inclined to adopt a positive attitude, which is what ultimately lies at the root of all luck. In short, Fire types identify themselves directly with the vital creative power of life itself, which makes them expect life to treat them with a certain favour, and by the law of attraction this is often made manifest. Furthermore Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, the greater fortune, which means that the sign has the habit of really pushing its luck and yet coming out on top more often than not.

Such energy and optimism then! This sign literally carries both the power of the stallion and the positive (life affirming) philosophy of the human intellect within it, given thrust in the arrow, and many with this sign strong make great natural athletes – if they use the power of willful, positive thinking to enhance performance – something the sign has have a natural gift with – they may even become champions. ‘Great Uncle’ Jupiter, the signs ruler, sees that its nephews and nieces are given a great deal of what they ask for, and more, if they learn the secrets of wise wishing, generously and graciously giving, and properly visualizing their ideals.

The sign gives planets an almost unquenchable inner fire, a conviction in their power that arises from an awareness that life means something and this sets it on a voyage of discovery. For Sagittarius life is being driven by a blend of creative and instructive processes which keep expanding one another’s potential. All this creative potential and power within the sign must also mean something, which leads it to seek, to engage in expression and to learn. But it can also become so driven by its own life forces and the sense that they mean something that it leads us to bypass life itself on some level entirely, as we keep moving on looking for the next adventure over the horizon. Its always happening far off and over the horizon. At some stage, vision must come to a rest and be content with what it has already explored. So the youth of the sign is essentially much more restless and bombastic than the elder of the sign, who is more philosophical. Timely experience matures Sagittarian instinct to explore into a need to share sagely wisdom…or crushes the life out of its wanderlust. As Sagittarius matures it generally ceases to explore in the outer world and instead turns to the adventures of far reaching inner horizons. This is why many become teachers or mentors, so that they have a forum for passing on the wisdom they acquired from their youthful exploits.

The healthy philosophy of this sign is a generous one of ‘live and let live’ that allows people to determine their own direction in life and prides itself on its tolerance, seeing restriction of freedom as negative. Most Sagittarian minds also adopt a general attitude of ‘I am what I am, take me as you find me’ that asks for the same generosity of spirit from others. In order for this philosophy to work the Sagittarius must be sincere with others about who they are and what they think and feel. They therefore tend to assume thats how everyone works and take people on their word and want to believe in their better natures, especially in younger years, before their trust is taken advantage of or they walk across a metaphorical highway, often several times over. This is a very typical experience which reshapes the philosophy of Sagittarius to reflect greater caution, sometimes even extreme bitterness so that the warlike version appears, but it makes them feel a little depressed inside as they still feel that life should treat them differently. Here we see the influence of Capricorn, the sign following Sagittarius, along with the influence of Scorpio, the sign preceding it – Sagittarius starts out with all this intense emotional enthusiasm for life which goes through a transition as it encounters reality and the need for restraint and limitation. Reactive signs are Elements in transitional states, they are in motion and are acted upon alchemically with ease.

centaur-2027194_1280The sign is brimming with a respect for sincerity and honesty. These are two of the virtues of Sagittarius, and they are so fundamental to its makeup that they even operate unconsciously, allowing Sagittarian influences to tell when they are being lied to. The unconscious drive to point at the truth is also the source of the knack this sign has with comedy, and its drive to discover and wonder – “the truth is out there”. These qualities of truthfulness and honesty are so much at the root of Sagittarius that many of its qualities stem from them. This is a sign of integrity that does not deceive well and bears a heavier weight on its conscience and in its heart from misdeeds and misadventures. Intrinsically it wants to believe in the very best in other people and in itself and its spirit is somewhat broken when it encounters otherwise in this less than ideal world. However it is not a sign that holds grudges – life is simply too full of new discoveries awaiting that it is not worth it to dwell on the past. Moreover it is the future that attracts this sign, the prospect for new horizons to bring untold of wonders. It senses that the universe is just waiting for it, ready to reward just for exploring it.

Sagittarius is a warrior at heart, but humour and good natured joviality are also very strong characteristics of the sign. The archer deals with difficulties by confronting them head on, often before they are actually valid problems through the gift of foresight and vision, and tackles despair and despondency with laughter, greater thirst for freedom from oppression and the motivation to escape from any lack of mobility (this sign is even more averse to being enclosed than Aquarius). In other words, the Sagittarius entity is an optimist, a believer that things will turn out right in the end, so long as the spirit is free to keep moving beyond the barriers. It is an adventurer and discoverer, and for this reason is often drawn to other lands and to philosophy and the realms of truth encoded in religions and the study of wisdom. It is drawn to the exotic and the foreign and is inherently restless and wild because it instinctively senses that to come to rest and settle down is to wither and die. It will wander a long way before it comes to a stop and begins to share its experience as teaching.

In love, Sagittarius is just as idealistic as it is in other areas and is thus flirtatious and extremely romantic, the Casanova of the zodiac. The tendency to have an inner ideal of a partner and to then project this unrealistic image onto real people is very strong with Sagittarius, and so there is often disappointment in love, or a string of conquests as affairs lose their appeal once the initial adventure is over. However, once the sign learns not to expect others to live up to its ideals but to live them itself any relationship can become a continual exploration of joy, with no loss in the sense of freedom.

Sagittarius combines powerfully and smoothly with the other Fire signs (Aries and Leo) and two of the Air signs (Libra and Aquarius) while clashing and polarising with the three other Reactive signs (Gemini, Virgo and Pisces). The relationship with Aries emphasises the martial potential both of these signs as they will encourage one another to strike in a direct and forceful way according to what they want. This combination therefore strengthens the willpower and the directness of the spirit in expressing itself but it also emphasises the integrity of the Fire Element signs. With Leo, Sagittarius finds a creative partner who is willing to perform any central leadership roles leaving the Sagittarius spirit to roam freely and explore without the baggage of watching over others. This combination of Fire signs emphasises the charisma and charm of the Element. The sextile that Sagittarius has looking backwards in the zodiac towards Libra stimulates the desire for truth which both of them possess and arouses them not just to seek it but to enact it as justice or fairness. The sextile from Sagittarius looking forwards towards Aquarius is simply concerned with the opening up of all boundaries, the flight of the arrow through the space of the air and the inspiration which flows through both of these signs is aroused by the other.

In both Virgo and Pisces the sign finds conflict and tension. With Virgo there is too much nitpicking and fault finding for Sagittarius while the Virgo alternatively finds the Sagittarius frustratingly vague and idealistic. Virgo is driven towards specifics and particulars and methods and Sagittarius is drawn towards broad generalizations and universalism, so their focus is fundamentally different. With Pisces, the clash is usually ideological and there is a great deal of confusion generated in the interaction, involving frequent cross purposes and lack of stability. The polar opposite sign, Gemini, can match well with Sagittarius if they overcome their problems which include disagreements and arguments over what things mean and what facts are important, along with different ways of modeling information and ideas. They make up what I have labelled the informative polarity of the zodiac. Informative signs (Gemini and Sagittarius) not only provide information and lore, but are also involved in the way the Light of the Self manifests. They are informative not just in terms of imparting knowledge but also in terms of how the forces within us shape and inform what we are and what we need to learn. Toward this end Sagittarius hones in on truthful significance instead of factual meaning, it is concerned with divergent problems and questions which have personal answers, but not answers we can all agree on as right for everybody all the time. Gemini wants to witness and document the blueprint to the Mystery, while Sagittarius wants to get in there to discover and explore it.

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ANALOGIES

In the northern hemisphere where western astrology developed Sagittarius is the season from late autumn to the beginning of winter, a cold, dark time in which the leaves have all fallen and the far horizon is more visible, but Sagittarius is a hot and dry sign because it is a Fire sign. It is hard for many people to perceive the Fire Element at work in the depths of autumn approaching the onset of winter, but that is mostly because they are looking for heat and light, which are just one effect of the Fire Element. In its activity the Fire Element propels things away from one another, it creates a space between things, it pares things down by unbinding them, and when we look at what happens at this time of year with this in mind the association becomes obvious. Leaves fly away from their branches which become like gnarled arrows spiraling into the sky and we can see much further to the horizon when out in the open. In less technological times, great fires were built to light the way through the darkness.

Sagittarius is analogous to horses, ponies, centaurs, all wild creatures that use tools to hunt for food, swift moving, darting creatures (mosquito, dragonfly, cheetahs), animals with projectile attacks (cobra, porcupine, even dolphins who use sonar to stun prey), campfire spirits, altars and places of faith, lucky charms (especially horseshoes), torches, meteor rocks, comets, plains, brushfires, volcanoes, lava flow, deserts, arrows, bows, missile and weapon silos, guns, piercing weapons, chariots, race-cars, race courses, sports cars, athletics tracks, gyms, telescopes, heat rays, laser shows, the process of instruction on the personal significance of life experiences, the seeking of contact with a teacher who has broader experience, the spleen meridian, the 3rd and 6th chakras (solar plexus as motivating centre and third eye as far seeing vision), the pelvis and buttocks, hips and thighs, the femur, the liver, the muscular system, the nervous system, the arterial system (especially the Iliac arteries), the direction south east, G# on the musical scale, the Hebrew letter Samekh (‘Prop’), the magical arcana of Temperance (the integration of emotion with astral awareness, the magic of astral animation and astral mastery of the Fluids), the 27th Path of Wisdom called the Exciting consciousness, the operation of alchemical incineration, with vivid and bright colours and the colour brick/purple red and adornments or jewelery from exotic cultures. Its scents are sweet or expansive and include pear, melon, sandalwood, nutmeg, bergamot, clove, olive, rosemary and hyssop and by indirect analogy through Jupiter its stones are sapphires, lapis lazuli, amethysts, topaz, marble, quartz and tin. In mundane astrology it is the Sun sign for the current charts of Colombia (1819), Barbados (1966), Finland (1917), Kenya (1963), Dominican Republic (1821), Sweden (1865) and the United Arab Emirates (1971) and is generally associated in horary astrology with all open, high places where vision can fly into the distance and also with stables or places where large free roaming and hoofed animals live, remote shrines, universities, wild rolling hills, as well as with upper floors with a wide feeling of open space and near sources of heat inside homes.

Sagittarius Sun sign figures include John Milton, William Blake, Ludwig Beethoven, Winston Churchill, Keith Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Humphrey Davy, Benjamin Disraeli, Woody Allen, Bette Midler, Walt Disney, Bruce Lee, Bob Hawke, Chris Evert, Dionne Warwick, Edith Piaf, Emily Dickinson, Frank Sinatra, Franz Bardon and Doctor Who. Moon in Sagittarius figures include Wolfgang Mozart, Edward IV of England, Mary Shelley, Hugo Grotius, Victor Hugo, Honore de Balzac, Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Lewis Carroll, Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Al Pacino, Stephen King, Judy Garland and Joan Sutherland. Sagittarius rises on the ascendant in the astrology of Michelangelo, Princess Diana the Princess of Wales, Tom Waits, Ted Turner, Leonardo De Vinci, Samuel Adams, Hans Christian Anderson, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Cheiro (William John Warner), Coco Chanel, Eleanor Roosevelt, Don Ameche, Marlon Brando, Shirley Temple Black, James Dean, Brigitte Bardot, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Danny DeVito, Jodie Foster and Nicholas Cage.

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DARKNESS

Der Panther

Sein Blick ist vom Vorübergehn der Stäbe
so müd geworden, dass er nichts mehr hält.
Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
sich lautlos auf -. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille –
und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Far from being a gentle, wise philosopher-gypsy, Sagittarius has a darkness to it that can as destructive as any other sign. A warlike nature has already been suggested in its lore and its constellation, but unlike the soldier that is Aries or the General or commander that is Leo, Sagittarius represents weaponry and military tactics, the righteousness of the cause and the morale of the troops. Feral nature is only held in check by human reason in Sagittarius, so if reason is abandoned the beast emerges and its wildness causes it to attack people who are even far remote and removed from the battlefield. The natural philosophy inherent in Sagittarius depends upon the balance between its instinct and its reason so if this balance is lost then the attitude of “live and let live” is incinerated in the heat of flaming eyes. If the reasonable side is abandoned the feral nature of the beast within Sagittarius overrules its ideology and it becomes ruthless and easily provoked into reckless action with no forethought, and the insistence on being who we are becomes stubborn refusal to budge on our principles. Yet if the feral side is lost, so too are all the instincts and the mind is lost in its quest for truth, its connection with nature having atrophied, and the centaur is like Rilkes poem “Der Panther”, a once majestic beast now caged and broken in spirit.

Sagittarius wants to explore the universe and is often a traveler through foreign lands, continually aiming for the horizon. However, this can often mean that they are forever dreaming of things in the future when happiness is right under their noses, in the present moment. The sign senses that the universe is just waiting for it, ready to reward it just for exploring it. While this keeps its awareness looking forwards with optimism it can become too idealistic and lead to disillusionment and it can deprive us of contentment by keeping us forever searching for something better than what we presently experience. Fear of missing out is huge in this sign. Idealism can cloud clear judgment as the archer becomes fixated on the target and loses sight of the arrow, the journey of the expanding spirit.

The thrill of taking a risk, of having an adventure that potentially promises romanticized and life changing events, can easily become an addiction that leads to many kinds of personal disaster. Sagittarius must learn to evaluate personal feelings without being bound to follow them because it tends to have the habit of “if it feels right to me, it must be right”. This is not the truth. What feels right to Sagittarius may first of all not be right for someone else. The Sagittarius influence wants to generalize, to find the broadest possible meaning – ‘The Truth’ – and this can result in broad generalizations which do not always apply in specific situations. Secondly, what feels right for Sagittarius at the personal level may not actually be what is truly right for it – it may be influenced by a ‘feel good’ factor which inclines Sagittarius to do whatever implies the most excitement and adventure or that which reinforces its own need for life to take care of it. None of these things may be what is actually right for us in the specifics of the moment and situation.

In seeking the big picture and looking for the next great adventure the sign can end up firing off arrows in every direction, hoping to hit a target that will show it which way to charge next, restlessly moving from one zone to the next. The focus on the big picture reveals many general truths but leaves the sign blinded to details and continually moving on, questing for something unnameable. This focus also leaves it open to naïve idealism and moral dogma, as the perception of a broad truth that applies generally overlooks the personal details which make all the difference. The quest for what life means in all its forms can become an all-consuming larvae that never leaves the soul satisfied with its internal answers. 

archer-3574294_1280Dark paths open when Sagittarius is overly trusting in its ideals and does not acknowledge how fragile life is or how quickly it can be extinguished. Many a Sagittarius has wrecked itself in tragedy this way, galloping into dooms it will not acknowledge. This problem is compounded by the fact that the over-optimism of this creature can lead it to suffer through its dismissal of critical analysis as someone else’s negative outlook. Often the Sagittarius in us needs to work on a tendency to focus too much on the future and to rush toward it, a habit of making broad and meaningless generalizations and taking risks with potentially big payoffs as well as blowouts, and a need for life to always be an adventure. It can expect too much at a personal level and become disillusioned when situations and people do not show the promise that was expected. The sign is crushingly disappointed when bloated expectations fall flat. Naiveté, exaggeration, overconfidence and a lack of prudence and caution can lead Sagittarius to many catastrophes. The sign has such trust in life being essentially meaningful and rewarding that it can walk blindly into great danger.

Generalities and exaggerations are the Sagittarius way, as this sign expresses the expansive and inclusive nature of Jupiter through broad philosophical perspectives which seek to include as much as possible in their viewpoint. There is no better promoter than Sagittarius – it is a sign able to exaggerate the importance of anything and enthuse over the smallest matter, often to its own advantage. Honest to a fault at times, those with strong Sagittarius speak their minds, and while they never truly intend to offend or harm another’s self esteem, they often have an uncanny knack of saying just the ‘wrong’ thing to the ‘wrong’ person at the ‘wrong’ time; this is because they are unconsciously psychically connecting with others and giving a voice to what is not being said. In other words, it is an unconscious form of honesty and truthfulness. The Sagittarius entity is the kind of person who says aloud to a friend while looking through a magazine or the web, “Oh, I’d hate to be in a wheelchair, life would be so miserable, I don’t think it would be worth living” as the person next to them has just been told their child is going to be confined to one. This is the unconscious truthfulness of Sagittarius giving voice to what others are thinking but are not coming out with, an arrow loosed upon the target no-one is acknowledging. This trait often horrifies the Sagittarius person, because they do not understand the mechanisms involved, and generally they really don’t want to cause offense or be rude, but they keep on bluntly putting their foot in it. They can think all kinds of things about themselves which are simply not true as a result of this weird twist of character. The lesson is often to think before opening the mouth to speak.

In its more sinister guise Sagittarius is fully capable of twisting the mutable Fire of truth to suit whatever moral position it wishes to take over others, justifying its behaviour by elastically stretching the definition of things and intentionally making its statements broad enough to cover any lie. It can dismiss real and pressing darkness with platitudes. The ‘high-horse’ moral attitude and martial spitfiring of Sagittarius can become unbearable for others to be around, but it always hides deep insecurities. Its stampede is akin to that of Taurus, a trampling attack that grinds bones into the earth, but unlike the docile Taurus the temper of Sagittarius ignites like wildfire after a drought so that it is far more often rushing to conclusions and acting before giving any reasonable thought to the circumstances. Hedonism can also consume Sagittarius, especially when combined with a strong streak of daredevilry and a love of gambling and risk-taking.

Powerful transformative influences have recently been active in this sign. Sagittarius opened to Pluto in 1995. This energy initiated sweeping and forced transformations in the lives of those resonating strongly with Sagittarius (and also Gemini, Virgo and Pisces). Such changes may not be easy for the individual to cope with or accept, since they will often involve a powerful confrontation with forces which seem obsessive, intense, oppressive or disturbing; Pluto uproots all that is hidden below the surface and brings it up for transformation. The effects and nature of this transformation depend in large part on the points that are found in Sagittarius in your chart. It is a time of rebirth, of being consumed in Phoenix Fire, in order to strip away the outer flesh, expose the inner core being, and experience self renewal. Even though Pluto left Sagittarius in 2009 and is now in Capricorn it will take many years (possibly an entire life or longer) before an individual can even integrate let alone fully understand the changes they go through under Pluto.

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MAGIC

The star lore of Sagittarius lends the zodiac sign the powers of swiftness, spontaneous intuition guided by reason, protection and guidance during long journeys, martial prowess, success in hunting, influence over universities and the broadening of the mind through philosophy and the acquisition of knowledge. It could easily have been a Sagittarius who first wrote “Know Thyself”. To a centaur knowing the Self is the key to understanding the nature of the Universe, and this is why they are so eager to explore and learn more, to keep their eyes on the horizon. They believe that whatever ideal they seek is out there and because they believe it is so, but whether the arrow will stay the course to hit the bullseye is another matter. The will needs to be properly focused and the right amount of force applied to a concentrated effort.

From the karmic perspective of a soul, Sagittarius can denote a time or times spent living during the great ages of exploration when people spread across the surface of the world and the internal landscape of the mind, expanding and exploring on the physical and intellectual levels. A need for adventure and outdoor pursuits may come from such lifetimes in which the soul traveled widely, perhaps on one of the many missions of discovery or evangelism, or were involved in the explosion of philosophy and education and the exchange of cultures which occur at such times.

The hybrid nature of this spirit often brings a close psychic link to the animal kingdom. Sagittarius has a primal link in the awareness to animals and the realms of astral force they express, and a powerful psychic instinct within which is also the source of positivity and optimism about life in general – life does indeed ultimately lead to our own greater good, but that doesn’t mean this does not include pain, failure and loss. Relationships with animals may be strong but their loss will be felt deeply by this sign, for it is like the magical bond between a magician and a familiar or a shaman and a totem animal.

Sagittarius can not only experience closer psychic connections within the animal kingdom, it can also contact the realms of astral force (the realm of pure emotions), through which many other kinds of psychic perception and the intuition can be developed, such as those which nature spirits operate within. This sign also confers a more natural aptitude for astral wandering, prophecy, divination, clairvoyance and work with the astral Fire Element, but as always these must be guided by an awareness that is liberated of the subjective influence of the unconscious and can only be relied upon when this is the case. Before then, the visions are subject to the imagined ideal of what they are.

Throughout the long history of occult philosophy and theory Sagittarius has been attributed with many magical powers, like any sign has. The medieval compilation called ‘Picatrix’ describes various operations connected to the sign which include the magic of besieging cities and villages or entering and taking them, expelling men from particular places or destroying their wealth, improving the lot of those traveling by wagons through the countryside, causing captives to escape or to be unable to, breaking and destroying ships, taming wild and disobedient beasts, strengthening or destroying buildings, increasing harvests, for love and benevolence, to bring affliction and illness, to acquire the love and grace of superiors, for the infirmities of the right-hand and for curing forgetfulness, for bringing on menses in women and for finding buried treasure. In ‘The Practice of Magical Evocation’ Franz Bardon attributes the 30 spirits of the Earth Zone given to Sagittarius with the following powers: (1°) the hardening of metals, (2°) steam, (3°) fruits, (4°) peace, (5°) good luck, (6°) morality, (7°) the art of making imagery, (8°) rhythm and periodicity (secrets of the 28 Moon stations), (9°) protection of the mentally ill, (10°) guardianship of travelers (especially by sea), (11°) secrets of evocation, (12°) high sphere magic, (13°) realization of high ideals, (14°) trade and coins, (15°) educational methods, (16°) cultural customs and rites (especially those connected with love), (17°) orphans and their protection, (18°) hunters, (19°) astronomy and astrology, (20°) curing of severe or hidden diseases, (21°) bliss, (22°) justice, (23°) the science of colour, (24°) introspection and the mysteries of the magical equilibrium, (25°) the deep secrets of silence, (26°) human conscience, (27°) magical apparatus, (28°) human fate, (29°) charging of talismans and amulets by accumulated Light or Elements, and (30°) subterranean water.

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Image by R. Clark

In the Gra Tree of Life, Sagittarius is the path connecting the seat of the astral realm (Yesod, the Moon sphere) with the realm of astral force (Netzach, the Venus sphere). It is therefore inherently an astral entity and like all of the paths attributed to the Fire signs it extends from the central Pillar downward towards the Pillar of Force. The Fire signs project Light from the central Pillar (which contains the seats of awareness and are the hearts of the eternal, mental, astral and material realms) ever deeper into the realm from which they originate, with Sagittarius being the astral projection of Light deeper into the astral realm. Along this path the soul senses its resonance with other souls and within the astral realm generally and so senses its purpose as an astral being, its personal truth, through personal interaction. The soul or astral entity is lured by the many mysteries of Netzach (referred to as “the secrets of all spiritual sciences”) and so shoots forth like an arrow into an exploration of them. The repulsion or attraction that the astral awareness feels with other astral entities on this path has a swiftness to it and leads to a quest for temperance and so for the integration of emotion with astral awareness. This becomes a critical part of the magical equilibrium and for attaining an astral mastery over the Fluids. Additionally, the emanation of Light from the seat of the astral plane into the Venus sphere brings about the swift enlivening or excitation of that astral awareness as it comes into contact with the infinite archetypes of astral force, so that this path confers to the magician the power to animate astral life. This is also the source of the signs connection and empathy with animals in the animal kingdom in general.

Sagittarius responds to the withdrawn darkness of the previous sign, Scorpio, with an exuberant and irrepressibly optimistic outlook on life, and by forever seeking and searching it seeks to avoid having to confront any darkness or loss through a lack of enclosures and bonds which hold it in place. Yet as it races forward like a wild stallion it races towards Capricorn and the realization that reality matters, and so to a disillusionment in its own idealism and optimism. The big, colourful magic of youth loses its momentum and the arrow begins to descend to Earth, looking for a significant and meaningful place to land. It never loses its hope that the initial magic will return and is continuously seeking in the sea of astral archetypes for the next big something that will make it feel alive and excited, yet it often overlooks the truth that introspection will reveal all of those archetypes within it. For a magician, the sign frequently becomes one of the quest for a clear expression of the moral truths communicated by the Greater Self, a process which involves deep inner reflection and contemplation of occult philosophy as it applies to an ever changing sea of personal circumstances. Through Sagittarius, human beings understand how to treat other human beings as human beings and furthermore how to treat all life as an expression of the spark that brings life itself. The greatest mysteries and the most powerful magic of the sign emerge when we are in a temperate balance with the emotional realm as we embark on an endless journey in search of the meaning of personal experience.

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As Water is to a Fish: On Pisces

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! Get naked, its time for a swim. This month I’m adding to the series on zodiac signs, four of which (Aries, GeminiScorpio and Capricorn) are already available for you to read. Today we are talking about Pisces, about which I have said relatively little so far.

journey deeper…