Mythic Astrology is a perfect introduction to the world of astrology. In an entirely new approach featuring a beautifully illustrated deck, Liz Greene -- co-author of The Mythic Tarot -- uses the powerful images of ancient myths to provide new insights into the Sun, Moon, planets and Ascendant. By invoking the imagination, the symbols of astrology can now be understood on the emotional, intuitive and intellectual levels.
Mythic Astrology will teach you something about yourself -- your strengths and limits, and what makes you happiest and most productive. Read the color cards with friends or partner: you will explore your own character, recognize that others see and experience life differently, and begin to understand the basic chemistry between yourself and other people. There is no study more effective than astrology in facilitating self-understanding. Mythic Astrology will soon show you why.
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THE PLANETARY GODS
The Sun is portrayed in every ancient mythology as the giver of life. Because of its obvious connection with the changing seasons and the sowing and harvesting of crops, the mythic sun gods mated with the earth and fertilized it in a great annual cycle. In Egypt the solar deity was called Ra, who rose out of the primal chaos of the Nile flood and from his own phallic life-force generated all the other gods. In Babylon the great solar disc of the god Shamash mounted the sky in a chariot each morning, and each evening descended into the depths of the earth. Most complex of the sun gods is the shining and enigmatic figure of the Greco-Roman Apollo. This highly sophisticated deity can teach us a good deal about the psychological meaning of the Sun in astrological symbolism. Slayer of the earth-snake Python and breaker of family curses, Apollo symbolizes the power of consciousness to free us from our bondage to deep-rooted and destructive complexes from the past. Called Apollo Longsight because of his power to prophesy, the god also embodies the human gift of foresight, which enables us to see the future consequences of our own actions. As the giver of knowledge he is an image of the civilizing power of human understanding, and as patron of the arts he reflects our capacity to endow our creative efforts with light and life.
The Sun is the core of the birth horoscope, reflecting each person's need to become a unique individual with the power to express that individuality through creative effort. This need exists in everyone, although sadly not everyone is willing to recognize its profound importance. The life-giving light of the Sun is a symbol of our urge to know ourselves and remain loyal to our own hearts. This allows us to make choices with greater clarity, honesty and integrity. Over the door of Apollo's temple at Delphi were crowed tine words: "Know thyself." In this simple statement lies the essential meaning of the Sun in astrology. The experience of "I" as a separate, worthwhile being is vitally necessary to every person's sense of continuity, value and meaning in lite. The Sun gives warmth and light not merely on the biological level, but on the subtler levels of heart and spirit. On the Sun depends our conviction that we are fulfilling a deeper purpose and living a meaningful life. For the person who does not experience this central sense of "I", independent of identification with family, job or national collective, life passes in a fog of unfulfilled dreams and unsatisfied longings. Our fear of death grows in direct proportion to the absence of a life fully lived. If we do not express the Sun we pass into the future looking back over our shoulder, regretting what we have not done and whom we have not been. Thus Apollo in myth is portrayed as having power even over the Fates themselves. Although the Sun cannot confer physical immortality, it can engender a sense of the immortality of the spirit and the worth of a life honorably and creatively lived.
On the psychological level, our need to feel unique and important reflects the Sun's urge toward self-actualization. Whenever we try to express creative ideas or images -- whether through artistic channels such as painting or music or through contributing individual style and flair to the ordinary tasks of everyday living -- we are expressing the Sun. In some individuals the solar need to find a purpose in life may take the form of a spiritual or religious quest. The highest values toward which we aspire also reflect tine light of the Sun, for it is these deeply felt individual values which give us a true core of inner morality and integrity. Without such personal values we must borrow our morality from the collective consensus which, although often noble, can also err horribly (witness the collective consensus of Nazism in the 1930s). The Sun thus reflects our individual conscience -- not the artificial niceness of the person who does good because he or she fears to do otherwise, but that deeper voice which affirms a sense of decency and generosity even in the face of external opposition or internal frustration. Apollo was the most civilized of the Greek gods, the "gentleman of Olympus". This mythic attribute was, until quite recently, projected upon kings as the vessels of solar light on earth. The solar attribute of nobility arises not from blood or class, nor from a desire to secure the affection of others through service to them, but from an inner love of truth which is the most profound expression of the symbol of the Sun.
Many individuals find it difficult to express the unique qualities described by the Sun in the birth horoscope. Pressure to conform to others ideas of what one should be may partly or wholly block the Sun's light. The expression of individual values is, by its very nature, adverse to the instinctual collective identification which constitutes security for so many people. To dare to be oneself may pose a threat to one's family as well as to one's social and professional group. We may believe that failing to conform to collective expectations makes us selfish or bad. Fear of others' criticism or envy may also shroud the light of the Sun. Each person who strives to express his or her own inner nature and values will sooner or later meet opposition from those who resent individual excellence. The sun gods in myth must invariably do battle with a monster or dragon, as Apollo does with the earth-snake. This monster may be understood on many different levels, but one of its meanings is the individual's struggle with the loneliness and dark sense of isolation which inevitably accompany any real creative effort. If the monster wins, we descend into apathy and depression. If the sun god triumphs, we can face life's challenges with a feeling of strength and authenticity. The symbolism of the Sun in astrology is complex, for although it appears in every birth horoscope it will be expressed in a totally unique way by each individual. Whatever our aptitudes, talents and material circumstances, it is the Sun which gives each one of us the sense that there is a point in being alive.
Apollo's chariot traverses the twelve signs of the zodiac during the course of the year, as the Roman charioteers once pursued the course of the circus which was modeled upon this great cosmic cycle. Having conquered the earth-snake in mortal battle, the god can now honor it and avail himself of its instinctual wisdom through his gift of prophecy. Refined, eternally youthful and above ordinary passions, the "gentleman of Olympus" shines his light upon rich and poor, good and evil alike, as the sun gives its warmth and light generously to everything living upon the earth.
The magic of the ever-changing Moon fascinates us now as much as it did those past civilizations who saw a great and mysterious deity in its fluctuating faces and its link with the cycles of organic life. In myth the Moon is usually portrayed as female, although certain ancient peoples such as the Babylonians saw in its luminous face a young and beautiful male spirit who symbolized the ebb and flow of nature. The lunar deities presided over the cycles of line animal and vegetable kingdoms, governed menstruation and childbirth, and embodied the instinctual forces at the heart of life. In Egypt the Moon was represented as Isis, goddess of mercy and wisdom, and the archetypal image of woman in both maternal and erotic guise. The compassion of Isis was understood to be a power as great as the might of the war-gods or the procreative force of the Sun, and those in need of help appealed to her as the mother of all life. In Greece, the Moon was worshiped as the wild huntress Artemis, mistress of beasts, untameable and eternally virgin, whose great temple at Ephesus was one of the wonders of the ancient world. In Rome, she was known as Diana, twin sister of the sun god Apollo and protectress of children and animals. Her more sinister face, called Hecate and symbolized by the dark of the Moon, reflected her powers of sorcery and her rulership over the underworld of souls waiting to be reborn. These goddesses were worshiped primarily by women. They personified the female mysteries of conception and birth, and the deeper workings of Fate through the weaving of the tissues of the body in the underworld of the womb.
On the psychological level, the symbol of the Moon describes our most fundamental need for warmth, safety and nourishment, both physical and emotional. In infancy, these needs are paramount and direct. In adulthood they are also paramount, but are expressed both on subtle and on obvious levels, through our longing to share our feelings and our urge to feel protected and nurtured by family and community. We express the Moon through whatever makes us feel secure and sheltered from the storms of life. We can also offer comfort and nourishment to others just as we ourselves seek it, for the lunar deities reflect an instinctive compassion and responsiveness to helplessness and pain. The image of maternity portrayed in the mythic figures of the lunar goddesses is devoid of sentiment, and sometimes expresses the ferocity of an animal protecting its young. Lunar compassion is not flowery, but is a ruthless force of nature through which emerging life is protected and preserved. The cyclical nature of the Moon's phases, and its nearness to the earth, are in myth all image of the fluctuating life-force within the earth and within the human body. Our sense of unity with the human species and with all living things is reflected by the astrological symbol of the Moon. In order to feel contented and at peace, we need to experience our participation in a larger life, just as the very young child needs to feel connected to the life-giving mother.
Because of its monthly cycle, the Moon is also a symbol of time; it reflects our ability to feel connected with the past, responsive to the present, related to ordinary life and capable of interacting with others on an earthy and human level. The need to give and receive physical affection, the capacity to enjoy the scents and textures of beautiful things, and the pleasure we take in our gardens and our pets, are all expressions of the apparently ordinary -- but immensely important -- domain over which the Moon presides. The lunar need for safety and comfort is expressed by individuals in many different ways. For some, the longing to belong is amply satisfied by the feeling of empathy and containment provided by a loving family or close community. For others, work (particularly that which offers direct involvement with others) may offer an equally valid source of emotional and physical security. For many people, contact with the countryside or a relationship with animals and plants give a profound sense of connectedness. And for others, religious or spiritual fellowship, or a group with a shared ideology or philosophy, can provide the greater family which the Moon within all of us needs. While the Sun in tine birth horoscope reflects our quest for meaning and self-actualization, a life without the diffuse lunar light of relationship with the ordinary is barren and devoid of joy.
Our ability to express the Moon determines our capacity to feel contented. No amount of individual achievement can satisfy the Moon's longings if our strivings separate us too much from others. Many people find it hard to express such fundamental human needs openly, and seek surrogates without recognizing the depth of their emotional isolation. At the most basic level, the Moon reflects our ability to value and look after our ordinary physical and emotional well-being. Sometimes this innate gift for internal mothering is blocked by early experiences which foster the belief that one should not ask for anything from others. Because lunar needs make us vulnerable and dependent we may deny them to avoid the risk of hurt and humiliation. We may also try to avoid pain by expressing our lunar needs indirectly and manipulatively, attempting to control others so that we will not feel at their mercy. The Moon is a great leveler, for it reminds us of our identity with all human beings in our capacity to experience loneliness, hunger, pain and fear. Under the soft and unifying light of the Moon, arrogance, and separativeness have no place. The Moon, portrayed in myth as the guardian of nature and young life, is not limited to the horoscopes of women. It appears in everyone's birth horoscope and symbolizes a universal human need. Although the physical level of tine Moon's expression is enacted most vividly each time a woman bears a child, there are many kinds of children, not all of them corporeal, and many kinds of mothering, not all of them concrete. Called the "Lesser Light" in early astrology, the Moon was seen as lesser in size, not in importance. As the complement of the Sun, the Moon's light illuminates the feelings and needs of everyday life -- but not with any ultimate goal since life itself is its own goal.
Artemis, the virgin goddess of the Moon, guards the mystery at the heart of nature, holding her knife up in warning to those who would intrude upon her sacred ground. Yet she is the protectress of all young helpless creatures. Her beasts gather around her -- the panther who embodies her ferocity, the deer who symbolizes her gentleness, and the wolf who describes her solitude and fierce self-sufficiency. When the hunter Actaeon stumbled upon her bathing, she turned him into a stage so that he was torn to pieces by his own dogs. When Orion boasted in her sacred grove, she sent a giant scorpion to sting him to death. Nature thus possesses an unsuspected power to revenge herself upon those who do her dishonor.
The mysterious gift of human thought prompted the Greek poet, Menander, to write that the intellect in every human being was divine. In ancient myth, the powers of reflection, speech and communication are personified by a clever, quicksilver deity who taught human beings to write, build, navigate and calculate the course of the heavenly bodies. This enigmatic god symbolizes not only our capacity to think, but also the planning arid organizing faculty which allows us to name and categorize the myriad components of the chaotic natural world. In Egypt, the god Thoth, portrayed sometimes as an ibis and sometimes as a baboon, was the patron of science and literature, wisdom and inventions, the spokesman of the gods and their keeper of records. Creator of the alphabet and endowed with total knowledge. Thoth invented arithmetic, surveying, geometry, astrology, medicine, music and writing. In Norse myth, this elusive and multifaceted god was called Loki, lord of fire, and an incorrigible manipulator. In Teutonic myth, he was known as Wotan, patron of magic and lord of the wild hunt, who sacrificed one of his eyes for the gift of wisdom. In Greece, he was personified as the tricky and unfathomable Hermes, lord of travelers and merchants, patron of thieves and liars, guide of the souls of the dead and messenger of the Olympian gods. The Romans knew him as Mercury, from which both the metal and the planet derive their name.
On the psychological level, the bewildering multiplicity of roles assig...
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