Happy New Year!
Jupiter is back in Aries, until May 16. This masculine, fiery combo embodies the mythology of the solar hero (Aries) on a mission from God (Jupiter) or the ‘superhero’. The Sun’s exaltation is in Aries and the Sun is also the ‘son’.
Weapon-wielding, demi-god sons who saved humanity by wiping the floor with fabulous creatures were abundant in the ancient world (or at least abundantly immortalized), as they are, today – but one in particular stands out from all the others, for he wears the solar lion’s skin and performs twelve labours, just as the Sun and Jupiter themselves stay a day and a year, consecutively, in each zodiacal house. Sing along if you are old enough…
“Hercules, hero of song and story!
Hercules, winner of ancient glory!
Fighting for the right, fighting with his might;
With the strength of ten, ordinary men!
Hercules, people are safe when near him!
Hercules, only the evil fear him!
Softness in his eyes, iron in his thighs;
Virtue in his heart, fire in every part of
The Mighty Hercules!”
NOTE I loved watching this Hercules cartoon as a kid. I adored Greek Myths my whole life because it was the only place where Goddesses existed and I remembered that. but now find them extremely Patriarchal and misogynist even though the Goddesses are still there.
I was dismayed to learn that the ‘real’ Hercules never had a magic ring, ripped abs and a quiff, or a centaur sidekick who’s favourite expression was “Suffering Psyche!” But my childhood TV cartoon got one thing right, ‘Herc’ was the modern, macho superhero prototype:
“Heracles – or Hercules as he has been more popularly known ever since the Roman times – was the greatest of all Greek heroes, “one who surpassed all men of whom memory from the beginning of time has brought down an account.” A half-god of superhuman strength and violent passions, Heracles was the epitome of bravery and masculinity in the ancient world and the most notable champion of the Olympian order, which he staunchly protected from various chthonic monsters and earthly villains. Even though his short temper and lack of composure did cause both him and quite a few innocent mortals undeserved trouble, the magnitude of his labors was of such an order that it earned him the prize of immortality… Heracles is undoubtedly one of the most iconic figures in all of Greek mythology.” [source]
In the myth, Goddess Queen/evil stepmother Hera, angry that Zeus had sired him with another, who had the gall to name him ‘glory of Hera’, hated her step son and had marked him since birth. She sent two poisonous snakes (of course) to kill him in his cradle, but he strangled them with his bare, chubby little superbaby hands. Years later, grudge firm as ever, Hera served Heracles a potion to drive him temporarily insane and murder his own family. When the drugs wore off and he realized what he had done, remorseful Heracles sought spiritual advice from Apollo, who divined the gruelling tasks for his atonement. (Note that Apollo was a Sun god, who killed and usurped the Python). “In my defence, I was drunk and drugged!”
The myth of Herc’s 10 labours was likely extended to 12 – which became the official number – because the day and the solar year were also divided into 12 sections (Roman year had formerly been 10 months, also), each through which the Sun himself was ‘guided’ by a lady of the hora, as he traversed the sky in his chariot. Every man of importance in the ancient world, political or religious, was depicted wearing a halo of the Sun’s rays – essentially what a golden crown is, made with the Sun’s metal. Alexander the Great, who self-identified with various mythic/solar heroes, including Heracles, was frequently depicted as Helios. Our image of the haloed Buddha (‘enlightened one’) also comes courtesy of the imported, Greco-Roman Sun God. Of course it wasn’t only reserved for men, they just tended to have a bit more power and a bit less humility.
[Side note: Though I’m not of the ‘there are really 13 signs!’ camp, it’s interesting that, in order to make things solar and mathematically ‘even’, the 13th constellation touching the ecliptic, associated with the serpent (and 13 being lunar) had to be left out. We now know our Sun is itself serpentine in nature, it ‘sheds’ its skin via coronial mass ejections (CMEs).]
“All the seven planets have
opened their gates.” – Goethe
Whilst reading up on Heracles and the horae, I took a rabbit hole into horary astrology. Turns out that on the first day of the first month of 2023, the first hour belongs to the Sun, as does the day (Sunday), meaning the entire year is going to be under solar influence. The Sun card comes up (19 reduces to 1), as does the Chariot, being that it’s a universal 7 year ( 2+0+2+3). The actual picture of the solar demi-god in his vehicle!
The 7th house cusp of the zodiac, opposite to the natal horizon or ascendant, is where the Sun-self begins its descent and marks the beginning of knowing thyself through others (Libra), which is a different kind of awakening.
Unlike Heracles, the Charioteer, previously initiated as a Lover (6, which some do see as ‘Hercules at the crossroads’, choosing between Vice and Virtue), is now tasked with keeping the solar and lunar sides of his own nature in Balance (8).
The fiery energy of Jupiter/Aries is boundless, until Saturn enters Pisces, March 7 and tempers the flame. Saturn specializes in labours and (karmic) atonement, and it’s entering the 12th sign, traditionally ruled by Jupiter. At best, Saturn/Pisces directs Jupiterian inspiration, so as to give form to visions and dreams, testing their weight and our faith, every step of the way. Are we just being given our tasks or is this the final push? Maybe both? (I have Saturn and Jupiter returns coming up this year, will let you know…).
There are 7 cycles of 3 (plus the Fool) in the Major Arcana, so each 4th card is also a new 1. So the Chariot, as the first card of the third triad, is also a 1 placement. All ‘1‘ placement cards have to do with the theme of change/transition/death/rebirth: 1–Magician, 4-Emperor, 7-Chariot, 10-Wheel, 13-Unnamed, 16-Tower, 19-Sun.
Being the number of traditional planets/planetary spheres, 7 has long held sacred significance as a microcosm, by which the weeks and solar years are divided.
Horary astrology is also tied in with magic (using the energy of the planet at the appropriate time and/or creating talismans for positive outcome or amulets for protection). Before Solstice, I made some planet-themed bracelets. I hadn’t checked the planet hours at their creation, but when the Mars one proved conductive, I wondered whether I’d made it during a Mars hour or on a Tuesday. It remains to be seen whether Sun-ruled hours/days this year will have extra potency, but I intend to find out! In astrology, the Sun is generally seen as a bringer of happiness, unless terribly aspected. Similarly, we feel hope when the Sun shines, except during a drought or heat dome.
“Symbols are to the mind what tools are to the hand–
an extended application of its powers.” – Dion Fortune
To me, the Chariot card is emblematic of Tarot itself and of magic; forces within and without in accordance, the meeting of above and below, the completion of the first 7 steps.
Sphinxes, such as those who ‘pull’ the triumphal Chariot in some decks, were guardians of mysteries and the dead. As human-lion anthropomorphs, they are also symbolic of Aquarius/Leo (or, previously, Leo/Aquarius). We might view the pelt-clad Heracles as an initiate, a man not yet integrated with the solar lion in the spiritual sense. (He did actually become an initiate of the mysteries, but only in order to capture Cerberus). He is still an accursed bête, wearing the old skin but not yet the golden crown of the solar lion (the Nemean lion he flayed represents the constellation of Leo).
Of the Aquarius Age, astrologer Alan Oken, in the 1970s wrote,
“In spite of the utopian visions which this writer shared with millions of his peers in the 1960s, the Age of Aquarius will not be dominated by a suddenly transcended, spiritually oriented, love-sharing world population. Mankind has yet to work out the natural animal aggression which is so much a part of his nature…”
He goes on to say that (as we are seeing) the Aquarian Age will be dominated by ideological conflicts and, because of the energies available and potential for evolutionary advancement, self-awareness is a priority for people of the Aquarian Age if we are to properly channel these energies – physical and metaphysical – for the benefit of all.
In the end, after a kind of alchemical trial by pyre, brought about by a toxic balm his second wife inadvertently procured from a centaur (Sagittarius, the centaur sign ruled by Jupiter, is the transforming fire of the zodiacal triplicity), Hera and Zeus both agreed he’d suffered enough, and Herc was placed in the sky, as the constellation formerly identified with Gilgamesh. “Victory is here, raise a mighty cheer!”
As we ‘permanently’ enter the rational, masculine, high-tech age of the Titans (fixed air Aquarius, that is), with Pluto making its first ingress into this sign March 23, it’s important to keep sight of our higher Aquarius/Leo nature. The Sun is just one star in the heavens, but it represents the creative here and now, the full potential and expression (Leo) of our present lifetime. Meanwhile, Aquarius, sign of the starry heavens (hence astrology/astronomy), can open our minds to the distant past and future. Imagination is our personal conjuring tool. Through our art, wonder and creativity we are connected to the cosmos and the gods of our higher consciousness. In sync with these, there is no need for domination or force.
All written material except that which appears in quotations herein is ©Roxana Bikadoroff and may not be copied/reused anywhere without permission and/or at least a credit and link. Feel free to share, however.