Category Archives: Babylonian

Aries

Aries Constellation

Etymology – The Ram

Aries is a familiar constellation that is part of the Western or Greek Zodiac and symbolized by a Ram. Like many of the constellations, Aries has ancient origins that date it as far back as the ancient Babylonians. The constellation of Aries is often shown as a crouched, wingless ram with its head facing towards the constellation of Taurus.

Astronomy & Astrology

Much of the foundations of Western knowledge regarding the fields of Astronomy and Astrology owe its roots to Ancient Mesopotamian cultures. Many ancient cultures studied the stars, seeing in them patterns that are called constellations. These ancient astronomers were able to make predictable, annual turnings of the heavens that they could divide and mark for the passing of the Seasons and time. For the ancients, Astrology served as a precursor to Astronomy and they believed that by studying the heavens, they could foretell future events and even a person’s life path.

These ancient cultures would also meet and exchange ideas frequently and in this fashion, when the Greeks encountered the Persians, there was an exchange of knowledge regarding Astronomy that becomes the constellations and zodiacs so many know today. Eventually, there is no clear distinction between what ancient Mesopotamian Astronomers and Greeks Philosophers knew. Or who influenced who regarding the stories and myths behind the constellations. Even in current, modern times, the influence of these ancients is still known.

Western Astronomy

Aries is Latin for ram and is one of 48 constellations that were identified by Ptolemy, an astronomer who lived during the second century. In modern times, it is one of 88 known or recognized constellations and is located in the Northern Hemisphere between the constellations of Pisces and Taurus. It is a mid-sized constellation, about 39th in size among the other recognized constellations. Other constellations close to it are Cetus, Perseus, Pisces, Taurus, and Triangulum.

Reportedly, in May of 1012 C.E. a nova was seen within Aries constellation.

For a time, the Aries constellation wasn’t recognized and had been divided up into other constellations that are now considered obsolete. These included: Musca Borealis, Vespa, and Apis constellations. It wasn’t until 1922 that the International Astronomical Union decided to officially recognize it. And it wasn’t until 1930 when it was fully outlined and defined by the astronomer Eugène Delporte.

Musca Borealis consisted of the stars: 33 Arietis, 35 Arietis, 39 Arietis, and 41 Arietis.

In 1612, the astronomer, Petrus Plancius introduced Apis, a constellation representing a bee. In the year1624, the same stars were used by Jakob Bartsch to create another constellation called Vespa, representing as a wasp. Neither of these constellations became widely accepted. And a Johann Hevelius renamed the constellation to “Musca” in 1690 in his book Firmamentum Sobiescianum.

To differentiate this constellation from Musca, the southern fly, it was later renamed to Musca Borealis but it still didn’t gain acceptance and its stars ultimately went back to being known as Aries.

Arabic Astronomy

Among Muslim astronomers like al-Sufi, they saw a ram in the Aries constellation as set forth by Ptolemy. Other astronomers showed the Aries constellation as an unknown four-legged animal with antlers instead of horns. Al-Sufi’s depiction of a ram differed from other Arab astronomers in that his ram is shown running while looking behind itself.

Other early Bedouin astronomers did see a ram, but placed it as being elsewhere in the night sky. This ram constellation had the Pleiades as its tail. Most though generally accepted an Arabic formation of the Aries constellation that had thirteen stars and five “unformed” stars, four of which were to be the ram’s hindquarters and one over the ram’s head.

The brightest star in the Aries constellation is Hamal, from the Arabic phrase: “Al Ras al Hamal,” meaning “the Head of the Sheep.” The star, Beta Arietis is known as Sharatan, that along with Gamma Arietis, in Arabic meaning “two signs” that marked the start of the Vernal Equinox. Gamma Arietis is known as Mesarthim, thought to be the result of a series of mispronunciations over the millennia.

Hebrew Astronomy

Among the Hebrews, Aries was called: “Teli” and signified either Simeon or Gad. This constellation was typically thought to symbolize the “Lamb of the World”. The nearby Syrians called the constellation “Amru”, and the Turks referred to it as “Kuzi”.

The Jewish month of Nisan that roughly corresponds to March-April was associated with Aries for it is believed that during this time, the Hebrew people had been freed from slavery in ancient Egypt. The same month of Nisanu in Assyria, the constellation Aries represents the Alter and Sacrifice, usually of a ram.

Hindu Astronomy

In a similar system to the Chinese, the first lunar mansion in Hindu astronomy was called “Aswini”, after the traditional names for Beta and Gamma Arietis, the Aswins. Because the Hindu new year began with the vernal equinox, the Rig Veda contains over 50 new-year’s related hymns to the twins, making them some of the most prominent characters in the work. Aries itself was known as “Aja” and “Mesha”.

Polynesian Astronomy

Among the Marshall Islands, several stars in Aries along with stars from other constellations such as Cassiopeia, Andromeda and Triangulum form a porpoise.

The Marquesas islanders called Aries: Na-pai-ka. The Maori constellation of Pipiri may be modern Aries as well.

South American Astronomy

Among the indigenous Peruvian, a constellation with many of the same stars as Aries was recognized. It was called the “Market Moon” as well as the “Kneeling Terrace”, it was a reminder for people of when to hold the annual harvest festival, Ayri Huay.

Babylonian Mythology

Although Aries came to represent specifically the ram whose fleece became the Golden Fleece of Ancient Greek mythology, it has represented a ram since late Babylonian times. Before that, the stars of Aries formed a farmhand.

The Babylonian clay tablets known as the MUL.APIN, was a comprehensive list and table of stars marking an agricultural calendar. The constellation we know today as Aries, was known as MULLÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, meaning “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man.” It was depicted as being the last or final constellation on the ancient Babylonian’s agricultural calendar.

It’s thought by scholars that the MUL.APIN was compiled in either the 12th or 11th century B.C.E. At this point in time, during the Middle Bronze Age, with the procession of stars, the Pleiades marked the Vernal Equinox.

The clearest and earliest reference to depicting Aries as a constellation come from some boundary stones dating between 1350 B.C.E. to 1000 B.C.E. Several of these boundary stones clearly show a ram figure that is distinct from any other characters shown.

The identification of the Agrarian Worker to the Ram as the image for this constellation is thought to have happened in later Babylonian traditions due to the increased association of Dumuzi the Shepard. When the MUL.APIN was created around 1000 B.C.E., the constellation we know as Aries was associated with both Dumuzi’s ram and a hired laborer. Exactly when this change and shift of association for the Aries constellation was to have happened is difficult to determine due to the lack of surviving records for archaeologists to look at it.

Another source lists a Sumerian name LU.HUN.GA, which may be a pun. The name, taken at face value refers to hired workers for bringing in the Spring harvest of barley. However, in the Akkadian language, the word LU can also mena “sheep” and may mean something like “The Sheep of Appeasement.”

Chinese Mythology

In traditional Chinese astronomy, the stars of the Aries constellation are part of several other constellations. The Aries constellation along with Taurus and Gemini are part of The White Tiger of the West, Xī Fāng Bái Hǔ. It is also known as the Lake of Fullness, the Five Reservoirs of Heaven, and the House of the Five Emperors.

The stars known as Alpha, Beta and Gamma Arietis from a constellation called Lou, which has been translated to mean “bond,” “lasso,” and “sickle” and has been associated with the ritual sacrifice of cattle. The name Lou has been used for the 16th lunar mansion and the location closest to the Autumn Equinox. This lunar mansion represented the place where animals would be gathered and held before they were sacrificed. The constellation has been associated too with harvest-times and may also represent a woman carrying a basket of food on her head.

The stars 35, 39 and 41 Arietis form part of a constellation known as Wei, representing a fat abdomen and the name of the 17th lunar mansion which symbolized the granaries. Causing for some confusion, two other lunar mansions are also called Wei. One is located in Scorpius and the other in Aquarious and Pegasus, though their Chinese characters are different. The Wei in Aries represents the granaries for storing cereals and grains.

The stars Delta and Zeta Arietis form part of the constellation Tianyin (“the celestial yin force”) and is thought to represent the Emperor’s hunting partner. North of Tianyin is a solitary star called Tian’e or Tianhe, meaning “celestial river” For modern astronomers, this is the star known as HR 999.

Another constellation known as Zuogeng (Tso-kang) represents a Forestry manager or Ranger. This constellation is composed of the stars Mu, Nu, Omicron, Pi and Sigma Arietis. Zuogeng is also accompanied by Yeo-kang, another constellation representing an official in charge of pasture distributions.

Other names for Aries have shown it as a dog, Heang Low or Kiang Leu. In more modern times with Western influence, the constellation is known as Pih Yang, “the White Sheep.”

Christian Mythology

Under the influence of many English writers during the 14th through as late as the 17th century, the constellation of Aries was Anglicized to Ariete. There were many efforts to rewrite the stories of the constellations along biblical terms. Aries was to represent the ram caught in a thicket during the story of Abraham and Isaac. Saint Peter, a bishop of the early Christian church saw the constellation known as Triangulum become associated with his Mitre. And Caesius saw in Aries the Lamb sacrificed on Calvary Hill for the redemption of all mankind.

Egyptian Mythology

Among the ancient Egyptians, the constellation of Aries was associated with the god Amon-Ra, often depicted or shown as a man with a ram’s head. Amon-Ra represented fertility and creativity for the Egyptians.

With the Aries Constellation being close to the Vernal Equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun.” During this time of the year when Aries was said to be in the heavens, the priests would dedicated statues of Amon-Ra in temples. This practice would be modified later by Persian astronomers later on. The constellation of Aries also gained the title of “Lord of the Head,” indicating an important symbolic and mythological meaning in Egyptian theology.

Greek Mythology

Ancient Temples

Between 1580 B.C.E. to 360 B.C.E., the ancient Greek built and oriented many of their sacred temples in alignment to the star Hamal.

The Golden Fleece

The story of the Golden Fleece is perhaps the most well known and famous story linked to the Aries constellation.

In Greek mythology, King Athamas of Orchomenus (a region of Boetia) had married the cloud nymph Nephele after the incidents and her involvement with Ixion and the resulting birth of the Centaur race. By her, Athamas had twin children; a son, Phrixus and a daughter, Helle.

Due to the previous baggage of Nephele’s from the incident with Ixion and that she wouldn’t stop crying, Athamas eventually got fed up with Nephele and divorced her for another woman, Ino, the daughter of Cadmus and Queen of Thebes. Being a jealous woman and rather ambitious, Ino conspired and plotted to kill Athamas’ children so any children of hers could inherit the throne.

To do this, Ino created a famine throughout Orchomenus wherein she had roasted all of the town’s crop seeds so they couldn’t grow. Scared of the idea of starvation, the local farmers went to the nearest Oracle for help. Ino had already beaten them to it and had bribed the men of the Oracle of Delphi to tell the farmers that in order to avoid the famine, that Athamas’ son Phrixus needed to be sacrificed.

Reluctantly, Athamas agreed to the sacrifice his son Phrixus. But before that could even happen, a golden, flying ram arrived at the top of Mount Laphystium, where the sacrifice was to take place, and rescued both Phrixos and Helle. In one source, this ram was sent by the god Hermes, but it makes far more sense when looking at other sources, that this ram was sent by Nephele, the twin’s own mother Another source says the ram’s name is Chrysomallus and that he was the son of the sea god Neptune and Theophane. That same source also says that Ino’s whole plot to kill Phrixus is because he refused to have sex with her. His step-mother. I don’t blame him, not when she’s to be married to his dad.

From there, the twins flew towards the land of Colchis where King Aeetes, the son of the Sun God Helios ruled. Unfortunately during this flight, Helle fell off of the ram’s back and drowned in the Dardanelles, also known as the Hellespont to honor her.

Once they arrived in Colchis, the golden ram instructed Phrixus to sacrifice it to the gods. In one version of this tale, this god is Zeus and in others it is Poseidon. Phrixus did the sacrifice and removed the ram’s Golden Fleece, presenting it to King Aeetes who then arranged for a marriage with his daughter Chalciope.

King Aeetes hung the Golden Fleece in a sacred Grove of Ares, the God of War, where a dragon that never slept guarded it. In a later myth of Jason and the Argonauts, the title character Jason steals the Golden Fleece in order to claim and restore his own rightful claim to his throne in Iolcos.

For its sacrifice in helping Phrixus, the golden ram was placed up in the heavens to become the constellation of Aries.

Zeus

In the story where the Greek gods were down by the Nile River and they were attacked by the monster Typhon. When the Gods all changed themselves into various animals to escape, Zeus is said in some accounts to have changed into a ram before turning to do battle with Typhon. And that it is for this battle, the constellation of Aries is commemorated as a constellation in the heavens.

Roman Mythology

When the god Bacchus (frequently identified by his Greek name Dionysus) and his entourage were wandering through the Liberian desert, they ended up being rescued from death by a ram. This ram showed them the way to a well and as a reward, Bacchus placed the ram up in the heavens to become the Aries constellation and mark the beginning of Spring when the sun passes through it annually.

The First Point of Aries – The Beginning of Spring

With the precession of the Equinoxes and the Earth’s “wobble” as it rotates around the Sun, the exact timing of the Vernal Equinox has been changing over the millennia. The ancient peoples used the constellation of Aries at one time to mark the beginning of Spring. Around 1800 B.C.E., this point of time was indicated by the constellation of Aries and was known as the First Point of Aries.

With the changes of the Equinox over the millennia, the First Point of Aries now occurs in Pisces and will later move into Aquarius around 2600 C.E. Despite these changes, Aries is still associated with the beginning of Spring.

Arietids

Like many constellations, Aries does have several meteor shows that originate from it. The Daytime Arietid meteor shower is considered one of the strongest meteor showers that happens between May 22nd to June 2nd. It is an annual meteor shower that sees its peak around June 7th with the Marsden comets and up to 54 meteors per hour. The rest of the time, these “earthgrazer” meteors can sometimes be seen just before dawn at a rate of about 1 to 2 per hour. However, it’s usually only using the radio spectrum that these Arietids can be seen and not with the naked eye.

There are several meteor showers such as the Daytime Epsilon Arietids (between and the Northern and Southern Daytime May Arietids. These meteor showers were discovered by the Jodrell Bank Observatory in 1947 when the World War II radar systems were adapted for meteor observations.

These only name a couple of the more notable Arietids as there are several meteor showers that radiate or come from Aries.

Zodiac

In the Greek Zodiac, Aries marks the second spot of the Zodiac Calendar of which there are twelve Zodiac signs in all. For those who study and are into the classical Greek Zodiacs, this time is typically said to be from March 21 to April 19, right about the time that many Pagans celebrate Ostara. Under the old Roman calendar, March 21 marked the beginning of the New Year and the start of Spring. This carries on as in modern astrology, Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac The best time of year to see this constellation is during December around 9 p.m.

In Astrology, Aries is associated with the head and can indicate someone who has a strong temper. Those born under this sign are believed to have strong leadership skills, assertiveness, optimism, to be bold and independent. All said to be the very spirit of Spring. Aries people are believed to very dexterous and like to be the center of attention in many social settings. Though they can be rather stubborn, it’s a stubbornness and head butting that Aries learn to use rather well. In addition, Aries is associated with the planet and Roman God Mars. The element of fire is also associated with this zodiac.

Pisces

Pisces

Etymology – Latin “Fishes”

The constellation of Pisces, while familiar to many as part of the Greek or Western Zodiac is also one of the earliest known signs. This constellation lies between Aquarius to the west and Aries to the east. While fairly large, Pisces is a faint constellation that can be difficult to spot in the night sky. Pisces is often seen as a pair of fish swimming in opposite directions and connected either at the tails or by a piece of cord or rope. Despite being a constellation that heralds the Spring, Pisces is a constellation best seen during Autumn and as such, it has the nickname of the Autumn Dipper.

Astronomy & Astrology

Much of the foundations of Western knowledge regarding the fields of Astronomy and Astrology owe its roots to Ancient Mesopotamian cultures. Many ancient cultures studied the stars, seeing in them patterns that are called constellations. These ancient astronomers were able to make predictable, annual turnings of the heavens that they could divide and mark for the passing of the Seasons and time. For the ancients, Astrology served as a precursor to Astronomy and they believed that by studying the heavens, they could foretell future events and even a person’s life path.

These ancient cultures would also meet and exchange ideas frequently and in this fashion, when the Greeks encountered the Persians, there was an exchange of knowledge regarding Astronomy that becomes the constellations and zodiacs so many know today. Eventually, there is no clear distinction between what ancient Mesopotamian Astronomers and Greeks Philosophers knew. Or who influenced who regarding the stories and myths behind the constellations. Even in current, modern times, the influence of these ancients is still known.

Western Astronomy

The Pisces constellation is Latin for “fish,” referring to the plural form of the word. This constellation is one of 48 constellations that were identified by Ptolemy, an astronomer who lived during the second century. In modern times, Pisces is one of 88 known constellations and it lies between the constellations of Triangulum, Andromeda, Pegasus, Aquarius, Cetus and Aries. It is used to mark the end of the zodiac calendar and the Vernal or Spring Equinox. Many of the constellations bordering with Pisces are water-related and are located in an area of the sky known as the Sea or Water.

Babylonian Mythology

The constellation we know as Pisces is made up of two Babylonian constellations Zibatti-meš (or Šinunutu4 “the great swallow”) that’s the eastern part of Pisces and KU6 (“the fish, Ea,” Piscis Austrinus), presumably the western part. In the first Millennium B.C.E. texts known as the Astronomical Diaries, part of the Pisces constellation was called DU.NU.NU (Rikis-nu.mi, “the fish cord or ribbon”). There’s some speculation on the part of others that this constellation may have been misinterpreted and turned around so that the northern fish borders with Andromeda instead of being part of Piscis Austrinus.

There’s some thought that this constellation may have represented the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, major landmarks of Mesopotamian maps.

Chinese Mythology

In Chinese Astrology, the constellation of Pisces is actually “broken up” to be part of several constellations. There is Wai-ping, the “Outer Enclosure” that is seen as a fence that keeps a pig farmer from falling into some marshes or cesspit and kept the pigs where they belong. This constellation is represented by the line of stars: Alpha, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Mu, Nu, and Xi Piscium. Five stars which include Eta Piscium formed Yougeng, representing the farmer. The marshes or cesspit are represented by the four stars designated Phi Ceti found in the constellation Cetus.

Another constellation called Pili, representing a thunderbolt is formed from a zig-zagging chain of stars from Beta to Iota to Omega Piscium. To the south of this is the constellation Yunyu, formed of four stars representing a cloud and rain. These are just over the western constellation of Pegasus.

In the north part of Pisces, the seven stars that include: Chi, Phi, Upsilon and Tau Piscium the bottom part of a loop-shaped figure known as Kui, after the 15th lunar mansion, the House of the Sandal or Koui-siou. The majority of Kui rests and is found in what westerners know as Andromeda.

Another series of stars, 27, 29, 30 and 33 Piscium, mark the end of another constellation known as Leibizehn, representing a series of fortifications that cross through the Aquarius and Capricornus constellations.

Other names for the Pisces constellation or the ones it is part of are the Dark Warrior, the Northern Emperor and the Pig. After Christian Missionaries made their way to China, the constellation has been known by its western name and called the Two Fishes.

Egyptian Mythology

The ancient Egyptian knew of Pisces, seeing in it a creation story and the “fish of the Nile.” The symbol of Pisces’ two fish has been found on the lid to an Egyptian sarcophagus dating back to 2300 BCE.

German Folklore

A story from Germany tells the story of greedy humans and a wealth-giving fish. It’s a story I remember reading back in grade school. In this story, a man named Antenteh, who was very poor and his wife lived in a small cabin by the sea. The only possessions they had were the cabin and a tub that they filled with feathers to at least have somewhere to rest and sleep.

One day, Antenteh caught a fish that struggled to get free as he pulled it up in his fishing nets. To Antenteh’s amazement, the fish spoke to him, telling Antenteh that he is actually an enchanted prince. The fish told Antenteh that if he released him, he could have anything that he wanted. In the story I read back in school, the fish gives Antenteh three wishes.

Antenteh whose needs are simple and feeling honored at having rescued such an important person refused to accept anything from the enchanted prince. On getting home, Antenteh found that wasn’t to be the case. His wife became very angry for not taking advantage of the opportunity and Antenteh found himself returning to the seashore and called for the fish.

Luckily for Antenteh, the fish came and an embarrassed Antenteh told the fish how the wife wanted a house and furniture for it. The fish told him not to worry and that he would take care of everything. Returning home, Antenteh found that his cabin was now a fine house. Now if Antenteh’s wife hadn’t been so greedy, everything probably would have been fine.

As time progressed, Antenteh’s wife demanded more. She wanted to be a queen and to have a palace and this wish was granted. Still not satisfied, she demanded to become a goddess. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back in this case and the fish now angry at the increasing demands, made everything that Antenteh had been given and wished for vanish and he and his wife were back to having their old cabin and tub full of feathers to sleep in.

In the version of the story that I had read, everything vanishes when the wife makes a fourth wish beyond the third one. It’s still a good cautionary tale about not being too greedy and to learn to be happy with what you’ve got.

Greek Mythology

The Grecian story of Pisces has some relation to the story of Capricorn.

Typhon, a monstrous god attacked the Gods when they were down by the Nile River. In some retellings of the story, the Gods were there in exile or that just happens to be where they were at for one of their many battles with Typhon. In either eventuality, Aphrodite and her son Eros were among the gods along the Nile River’s banks when Typhon appeared to do battle. While Zeus and a couple of other gods fought it out with Typhon, Aphrodite and Eros had leaped into the river, changing into a pair of fish so they could make their escape. In other accounts of the story, Aphrodite and Eros tied themselves together with a rope so they wouldn’t get separated.

Another account of this story places the riverbank that the gods were walking along as being the Euphrates River and not the Nile River. There is also a very similar story found in a Manilius’ five-volume poetic work Astronomica in which the fish that become the constellation of Pisces carried Aphrodite and Eros away to safety.

Keeping with the Euphrates River connection, when an egg fell into this river, a pair of fish pushed it to the shore where doves then sat on the egg to hatch it. When it hatched, Aphrodite came out of the egg. In a show of gratitude, the goddess placed the fish up into the sky to become the constellation Pisces. Through these connections of the myth, Pisces is also known as “Venus et Cupido,” “Venus Syria cum Cupidine,” Venus cum Adone,” “Dione,” and “Veneris Mater.”

Where the constellation of Capricorn was set in the sky to commemorate the humorous half-goat, half-fish form of Pan when he tried to escape; the constellation that has come to be known as Pisces also commemorates this event of Aphrodite and Eros’ forms as the now-familiar Pisces. Also, for those keeping track of the different stories and legends, the Greek story of Pisces came about a hundred years before the Christian account and use of the Pisces constellation.

Judeo-Christian Mythology & Religion

The Jewish holiday of Purim happens around this time. By the Jewish Calendar, Purim happens at the full moon in Adar. For those following the Gregorian Calendars, this is sometime around February and March and the exact date can vary from year to year.

Among Christians, the story of the birth of Christ is said to have happened at the Spring Equinox entering into Pisces and why the “Savior of the World” is known as the Fisher of Men. And this is to parallel the entering into the Age of Pisces.

For those who study astrology, the astrological age is a period of time that is indicative of the kinds of major events of history on the Earth, showing the level of progression or development overall of cultures, politics, and people. You determine the astrological ages by the progression of the equinoxes and one complete cycle of processions is called a Great Year or Platonic Year which takes about 25,920. If you remember the so-called Mayan End Times and date of December 21st, 2012, that was merely the end of their long count Calendar. There can also be a lot of confusion as to just when an Astrological Age is to begin or end as a few different people such as Neil Mann, Heindel Rosicrucian and Shephard Simpson who all have different interpretations to when they begin or end.

This gains significance when you look at the age of Pisces as beginning in 1 C.E. and that it will end in 2150 C.E. The story of Christ’s birth coincides with this time and there are a number of early Christian symbols that use the Pisces symbol of fish. For some, they will point out how Christ is said to have the traits of a Pisces. Then you have the twelve apostles who were told, “Come with me and I will make ye fishers of men.” Early Christians are said to have called themselves “little fishes” and even either the name of the early church or a code name for Jesus was the Greek word for fish, “Ikhthues.” Even Saint Peter is seen as the apostle of the Piscean sign.

Pisces has also been referred to as the “dying god.” Its opposite sign on the Zodiac is Virgo and among Christians, this is the Virgin Mary. Some scholars have gone further with making a connection of Pisces and Christ in scripture, citing Luke 22:10 in which Jesus tells his disciples: “Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water… follow him into the house where he entereth in.” that the age to come after Pisces is the Age of Aquarius as the constellation of Aquarius is a man carrying a vase or pitcher of water.

The connection of Pisces to the early Christian religion and symbolism has a stronger tie with the famous story for the “Loaves and Fishes Miracles” where Christ was able to feed the large group of people who followed him.

It’s an interesting look and viewpoint of matching Christianity to the Zodiac.

Syrian Mythology

Many scholars believe that the Greek and Roman versions of the story regarding Pisces come to us from Syria. Here, fish were seen as divine beings and the reports differ if they refused to eat fish altogether or just the ones from Chalos River.

In the Syrian myths, two fish known as Ikhthyes are the ones who rescue Aphrodite and her son Eros. Another myth tells how a large, mysterious egg appeared on the Euphrates River and two fish or half-fish, half-men named Aphros and Bythos brought the egg ashore and hatched it. Once it hatched, out came Ataratheh, whom the ancient Romans and Greeks would have identified with their respective goddess of Venus and Aphrodite.

Ataratheh is the Syrian goddess of love and fertility. She was often portray and known as the mermaid goddess. Looking at her origin story and that of Aphrodite’s, they are very similar and it could have been easy for the myths of this goddess to move northward into Greece and then Roman where those two cultures adapted her to their pantheons.

A Fish By Any Other Name Is Still A Fish

Pisces was known by the Babylonians as Nunu, by the Persians as Mahik, and the Turks as Balik, all of which mean “Fish” in their respective languages.

The Arabs also knew of Pisces as Al Samakatain, or “the Two Fishes.”

The Syrians viewed fish as sacred animals and refused to eat them.

Originally, only one fish was referred to by many of the older languages for this sign.

The Pisces constellation was also known by the Mayans who saw in its shape a bat instead of fish.

Stars Of Pisces

Alpha Piscium

Alpha Piscium is the name of one star found within the Pisces constellation. In Arabic, it is known as “Al-Rischa,” meaning “the well rope” or “the cord.” The astrologer Ptolemy described Alpha Piscium as the point where the cords holding the two fish were knotted together. The astrological symbol of Pisces shows the two fish as being caught on string either by the mouth or tails. The fish are often shown as swimming in opposite directions and for those who look as Astrology and the Zodiac, this is seen to represent a duality with Piscean personalities.

Beta Piscium

Beta Piscium is known as Fum al Samakah, an Arabic phrase meaning: “mouth of the fish.”

Omicron Piscium

The star or asterism known as Omicron Piscium is also called Torcularis septentrionalis. This name is Latin, meaning “the northern press.” There is some suggestion that this press is to be a grape or olive press. If that were the case, it is no longer certain.

In Chinese astronomy, this star is part of a group of stars known as Yòu Gèng, meaning “Official in Charge of Pasturing.”

Piscids

There are two annual meteor showers that happen every year between the end of Augst and mid-October. The Piscid meteor shower has about 15 meteors per hour and they have been clocked up to 28 kilometers per hour. The other is the Gamma Piscid meteor shower. Of course, successful watching of these meteor showers depends on having a dark night sky.

Vernal Equinox

The constellation of Pisces is considered in the heavens during the Vernal Equinox which is generally around March 21st. The Equinox is the time of year when day and night are at equal lengths of time.

In the Northern Hemisphere, with the Spring Equinox, we see the days begin to get longer and longer until the Summer Solstice before the yearly rotation around the sun and axle tilt makes them appear to grow shorter again.

For the Southern Hemisphere, it is the opposite for them, it is the Autumn Equinox and the days will be getting shorter and shorter until the Winter Solstice and the Earth’s rotation and Axel tilt changes.

Zodiac

In the Greek Zodiac, Pisces marks the first spot of the Zodiac Calendar of which there are twelve Zodiac signs in all. Though many Zodiac Calendars that place Pisces as the twelfth and last sign of the Zodiac. For those who study and are into the classical Greek Zodiacs, this time is typically said to be from February 20 to March 21, right about the time that many Pagans celebrate Ostara. Under the old Roman calendar, March 21 marked the beginning of the New Year. The best time of year to see this constellation is during November about 9 p.m.

Before the discovery of the planet Neptune in 1846, the planet Venus had been the ruling planet. Neptune is now the ruler due to the association of it’s name with the Roman god of the sea, Neptune. In current, modern times, the planets Jupiter and Neptune are said to rule this Zodiacal sign and constellation. Its element is Water, an introverted sign and is one of four mutable signs.

Pisces people can be seen as having a duality in their lives. This duality is due to the perception or belief that Pisces people are seekers of enlightenment and tend to pursue matters of an intellectual and spiritual nature. They are generally viewed as being perceptive, emotional and reasonable. While they can be sensitive and sympathetic, they can also become oversensitive towards others or be very self-indulged in the pursuit of their own pleasures. A Pisces person is thought to be someone who likes to sit on the edge of social gatherings and not get in the middle of things. They can be viewed as being indecisive, passive, weak-willed as they don’t want to offend anybody, over-talkative, possibly confused about issues and this is just due to their flexible natures as they like to hear both sides of an issue and at the same time, they don’t want to offend anyone by taking “too harsh of a stance.” A good point about Pisces is their artistic natures, which again can get them into trouble if they seem to be drift-less and not well grounded.

Aquarius

Aquarius
Etymology – “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier”

Aquarius, like many of the constellations that make up the familiar Western or Greek Zodiac is an old constellation sign. It is known as the Water-Carrier and depicted as a youth carrying a vessel of water. This constellation is located between Capricorn and Pisces. As the 10th largest constellation, Aquarius doesn’t have very many bright stars, so for those out stargazing, they will need a dark sky during the month of October in order to pick it out.

Astronomy & Astrology

Much of the foundations of Western knowledge regarding the fields of Astronomy and Astrology owe its roots to Ancient Mesopotamian cultures. Many ancient cultures studied the stars, seeing in them patterns that are called constellations. These ancient astronomers were able to make predictable, annual turnings of the heavens that they could divide and mark for the passing of the Seasons and time. For the ancients, Astrology served as a precursor to Astronomy and they believed that by studying the heavens, they could foretell future events and even a person’s life path.

These ancient cultures would also meet and exchange ideas frequently and in this fashion, when the Greeks encountered the Persians, there was an exchange of knowledge regarding Astronomy that becomes the constellations and zodiacs so many know today. Eventually, there is no clear distinction between what ancient Mesopotamian Astronomers and Greeks Philosophers knew. Even in current, modern times, the influence of these ancients is still known.

Western Astronomy

Aquarius is one of the oldest recognized constellations and was one of 48 constellations that were identified by Ptolemy, an astronomer who lived during the second century. In modern times, it is one of 88 known or recognized constellations found in an area of the of the night sky known as the Sea or Water due to the number of other constellations with aquatic associations such as Cetus, Delphinus, Pisces and Eridanus.

Greek Mythology

Aquarius is depicted in Greek astronomy as a young man pouring water from a vase or urn into the mouth of Piscis Austrinus, the southern fish. There are a couple of different myths regarding the constellation of Aquarius in Greek Mythology.

Ganymede

Ganymede was the son of King Tros of Dardania and the basis for the kingdom of Troy in Greek mythology. An exceptionally beautiful youth, Ganymede had caught the attention of Zeus when he was out watching over his father’s flock of sheep. Now, depending on the versions of the story being told, Zeus, either in the guise of an eagle or sending the eagle Aquila, came and carried him off to Mount Olympus. As compensation to King Tros, Zeus gives him some horses.

Once there, Ganymede faced the wrath of Hera, the wife of Zeus, who was angry and very likely jealous that her husband had taken such a fancy for a young boy. In addition to this, she was also angry that Zeus intended for Ganymede to replace Hebe, Hera’s daughter as the cup-bearer after an incident where Hebe had accidentally spilled some nectar of the gods. And it couldn’t have set well with Hera that Zeus immortalizes Ganymede in the constellation of Aquarius in addition to immortality and eternal youth.

Another version of this myth says that it was Eos, the goddess of the Dawn who carries off Ganymede to Mount Olympus and then Zeus took him from her to be the cup-bearer.

Regardless of the versions of the story told, Ganymede does become the cup-bearer to the gods and basically serves them their wine. Further variations of this story tell how Ganymede would ride Zeus’ eagle Aquila, accompanying this god on his travels. Both the Aquila constellation near Aquarius and the constellation of Crater, said to be Ganymede’s cup are near Aquarius to complete this story.

Ganymede also becomes deified as he was given immorality and eternal youth by Zeus and ends up being the one responsible for the annual Nile River flooding and the life-giving waters of rain. Some scholars have pointed out that like the story of Capricorn, the Greeks are borrowing from other older stories and cultures as well as coming up with their own stories to explain the images and what the constellations mean.

In Roman times, the name Ganymedes was sometimes used for handsome slaves who served as cupbearers. Furthering this, many have pointed out that the story of Ganymede is a clear indication and precedence for homosexuality in Greek culture. Others, like in Plato’s writings of dialogues between him and Socrates say that it wasn’t homosexuality; point out the meaning of the name Ganymede for “taking pleasure of the mind.” That Zeus loved Ganymede non-sexually for his mind. Still, other sources point out that this is where the Latin word for catamite originates.

The story of Ganymede seems to be related or taken from a Sumerian story of Etana, who descended to the heavens with the help of an eagle while looking for a plant of birth that in turn leads to the birth of his son, Balih.

Grecian Flood Myth

Aquarius, sometimes identified as the god Zeus is the one who causes a great flooding of the earth. A man by the name of Deucalion and his wife, Pyrrha who survived a great flood that washed over the earth. Deucalion had been told by his father, Prometheus in some versions of this story, to build a boat and to fill it with provisions. The two did and they floated in the boat over the sea for nine days and nights before coming to ground on Mount Parnassus.

Safe now, the two found that they were the only survivors and began to wander more as the flood waters receded. Deucalion and his wife couldn’t have been the only survivors of this flood if they were able to consult an oracle who told them to “throw over your shoulders the bones of your mother.”

The solution seemed pretty easy to Deucalion who guessed that the bones of Mother Earth must be stones and so he and Pyrrha began picking up stones to toss over their shoulders. After a bit of this, they looked back and saw that there were now people. The stones thrown by Deucalion had become men and the stones thrown by Pyrrha had become women.

In this myth, Aquarius is seen or becomes a taker as well as giver of life. This myth of a world flood and the rebirth of life on Earth is a very common myth that can be found in numerous cultures around the world.

Sometimes in an effort to have the Grecian Flood myth story parallel the Biblical Flood story of Noah and the Ark, it is Zeus himself who tells Deucalion to build a boat and not Prometheus.

The Death Of Hyas

Hyas was a mighty hunter who ended up being killed while out hunting by either a lion or a boar. On his death, his sisters, known collectively as the Hyades for their brother, were so grievous and weeping for their brother’s loss, that the god Zeus took pity on them and placed them up into the heavens, forming the Hyades asterism and the “V-shape” of the Taurus constellation. The tears of their grief would become associated with the coming of rain.

As for Hyas, the gods placed him up in the heavens to become the Aquarius constellation and the lion that killed him became the Leo constellation. Both were placed on opposite ends of the heavens in order to protect Hyas. Making for the ancient Greeks explanations of why neither constellation appears together in the night sky, so that as one constellation sets in the west, the other is rising in the east.

Arabian Mythology

The Arabs depicted the constellation of Aquarius as a bucket due to their religion forbidding the depiction of humans in art. Sometimes a mule was used in place of showing a human as being the one carrying the buckets or urns of water.

Some of the stars that make up Aquarius also have alternative names in the Arabic language. There is beta Aquarri known as Sadalsuud, from an Arabic phrase “sa’d al-suud,” meaning “luck of lucks.” Then there is alpha Aquarri or Sadalmelik and comes from the expression “sa’d al-malik,” meaning “luck of the king.” As well as, gamma Aquarii or Sadalachbia from another Arabic expression “sa’d al-axbiyah,” meaning “luck of the homes.” And finally there is zeta Aquarri, known as Sadaltager, from the Arabic phrase “sa’d al-tajir,” meaning “luck of the merchant.”

Why is there so much luck? In the Middle Eastern world, when the sun enters Aquarius, that marked the beginning of the New Year and Spring was on it’s way. This would be a time of the life-giving rains that so many depend on, especially the farmers.

Babylonian Mythology

The constellation of Aquarius was well known to the Babylonians who identified it as GU.LA, “The Great One.” There are many Babylonian entitlement stones and cylinder seals dating to the second millennium marked with the astrological symbol of Aquarius, saying it represented the god Ea shown to be pouring water from an urn or holding an overflowing vase. In Babylonian astronomy, Ea is the ruler of the southern quarter of the Sun’s path, the “Way of Ea” and corresponds to a period of 45 days to either side of the winter solstice.

For the Babylonians, the time of Aquarius marks a time of destructive flooding and rainfall, so they often viewed this constellation unfavorably.

The Sumerians viewed Aquarius as responsible for a great flood that covered the earth. The Sumerians also have the story of Etana, a legendary hero-king whose story has been found on several Akkadian seals. According to the Sumerian king list, Etana is one of the kings who ruled the city of Kish after a great deluge or flood. This king’s list also refers to Etana as “the shepherd, who ascended to heaven and consolidated all the foreign countries.”

The Legend of Etana

In this story there is a tree with the eagle’s nest at the top and a serpent at its base. Both creatures have promised the sun god Utu that they will be civil with each other and share their food with their children.

One day, the eagle eats one of the serpent’s children and the serpent cries over this. Utu tells the serpent to hide inside the stomach of a dead bull. When the eagle flies down to eat the dead bull, the snake is able to capture the eagle and throws him in a pit to die of hunger.

Utu then sends a man, Etana to help the eagle and saves it. Etana asks the eagle to help him find the “plant of birth” so that he can sire a son. In gratitude, the eagle helps carry Etana up to the heavens where the god Anu presides. Fearful, Etana has the eagle take him back to the ground. Once he’s gotten his courage up, Etana makes another attempt to go up to the heavens and is successful this time in getting the “plant of birth” and is able to sire his son Balith.

Chinese Mythology

In Chinese astrology, the constellation of Aquarius is found in the northern part of the heavens and symbolized by the Black Tortoise of the North.

In modern Chinese, Aquarius is known as bǎo píng zuò, meaning: “the precious pitcher constellation”. The stream of water flowing out of the Water Jar is depicted as the “Army of Yu-Lin-Kjun,” where “Yu-lin” means “feathers and forest” that represent numerous light-footed soldiers seen in the fainter stars of Aquarius. The stars 88, 89 and 98 Aquarii represent the portion of the constellation called Fou-youe, representing the axes used for weapons and hostage executions. Also found in the constellation of Aquarius is Loui-pi-tchin that represents a rampart stretching out and depicted with the stars 29 and 27 Piscium and 33 and 30 Aquarii through Phi, Lambda, Sigma, and Iota Aquarii to Delta, Gamma, Kappa, and Epsilon Capricorn.

Egyptian Mythology

For the ancient Egyptians, the god Hapi, the god of the Nile River was often identified with Aquarius. He was depicted as carrying a tray of food or pouring water from two large urns. With these urns, Hapi distributed the waters of life as the urns represented good fortune. Sometimes Hapi is shown holding a rod called the Norma Nilotica, that was used for measuring the depths of the Nile River. The time of Aquarius marked the annual flooding of the Nile when the life giving waters from Hapi would be poured out and the people could till their farms along the river’s borders. This annual flooding of the Nile for the ancient Egyptians marked the beginning of spring.

Hindu Mythology

The name of Aquarius in the Hindu zodiac is kumbha meaning: “water-pitcher.” Some feel that this is proof or shows that the influences of the Greek zodiac reached as far as India from Grecian travelers. That might be a bit of a stretch as it may be that the Indian or Hindu story of Varuna, god of the sky and waters is who is represented by the constellation of Aquarius.

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

The constellation of Aquarius will be forever immortalized by the counterculture of the 1960’s with the Hippies and their proclamations for the Age of Aquarius and the musical Hair. Truth be told, they were a bit premature by about 600 years for when this time will actually begin.

The astrological age is determined by the name of the constellation in which the Vernal or Spring Equinox occurs, which is close to around March 21st. Right now, we’re still in the Age of Pisces, which will continue until about 2600 C.E. depending on the source.

Sadalsuud

Or beta Aquarri, mentioned up above in the Arabian Mythology section, is the brightest star in the Aquarius constellation. That it is a supergiant star probably helps.

Other notable mentions are some globular clusters of stars of Messier 2 and Messier 72, the asterism Messier 73, along with the Aquarius Dwarf Galaxy. There is also the Saturn Nebula, known as the Waterbearer

Aquariids

There are a series of four meteor showers associated with the constellation of Aquarius. These are the: the March Aquariids, Eta Aquariids, Delta Aquariids, and Iota Aquariids.

Zodiac

The constellation of Aquarius is the eleventh sign of twelve signs that form the Zodiac. For those who study and are into the classical Greek Zodiacs, this time is typically said to be from January 20 to February 18. Due to the changes of the earth’s orbit and tilt, the best time to see this constellation is during October around 9 p.m. The planets Saturn and Uranus are said to rule this Zodiacal sign and constellation. Its element is Air, an extroverted sign and is one of four fixed signs.

Aquarius people are said to be inquisitive, unpredictable, independent, friendly, outgoing, artistic, intellectual, social, stubborn, altruistic and even progressive. At their best, Aquarians are great humanitarians, thinking of others and how to help them. They have an easy with people and are able to interact with a lot of people and relate well with them. At their worst, Aquarians can come across as know-it-alls and become argumentative when trying to get others to see their viewpoints and ideas as correct instead of listening to others or realizing they may have been incorrect.

Aquila

Ganymede

Centaur

Centaur Family
Also called: Kéntauros, Kentauroi or Hippocentaur, Ixionidae, Nubigenae, Centauride or Kentauride for females

Etymology – “piercing bull-stickers” or “bull-slayer”

Pronunciation: {SEN-tawr)

Centaurs are a familiar mythological hybrid creature from Greek mythology. They are frequently depicted as having the upper body of a human from the waist up and a horse’s body from the waist down. They are ultimately the descendants of Ixion, the son of Ares, the God of War. Sometimes, in later myths, the Centaurs are described as having horns, wings or even both.

The Centaurs were believed to have lived in the regions of Arcadia, Magnesia and Mount Pelion found in Thessaly, the Foloi Oak Forest in Elis and the Malean peninsula of southern Laconia. They are often described as eating meat and were known for their reckless and riotous behaviors. This is usually meant to represent a metaphor of being slaves to their more animalistic instincts and drives with their dual natures.

Other tribes or breeds of Centaurs were said to live in western Peloponnese. It is these Centaurs who came to a bad end during a drunk brawl with the hero Hercules. Another Greek writer mentions a tribe of bull-horned Centaurs on the island of Kypros.

Many scholars see Centaurs as the creation of folklore wherein the wild inhabitants of the mountains and spirits of nature are combined into a half-human, half-animal form. In early art, dating back to Assyria around 2,000 B.C.E., Centaurs were shown as humans in front and with the hind legs of a horse attached to them from behind. This image of Chiron often persists in many of these early depictions. Later, the Centaurs are shown as men from the waist up and horse from the waist down. The Centaurs were said to fight, using the branches of trees as weapons, they weren’t known to use bows or archery.

Sometimes they were shown as drunken followers of Dionysus, the god of Wine. Other times, they were often represented drawing the chariot of Dionysus or bound and ridden by Eros, the god of love, in allusion to their drunken and amorous habits. Centaurs are among the first representations used in pottery art among the Greeks.

During Medieval times, Centaurs came to be symbolized as an aspect of the devil and represent violent lusts, adultery, brutality, vengefulness, and heretics. They became the antithesis of knights and horsemen who master their instincts instead of being controlled by them as Centaurs are said to be. Centaurs can be seen in pictures of St. Anthony Abbot who met both a centaur and a satyr when searching for St. Paul the Hermit in the desert. According to some legends, this centaur was the Devil himself. Depictions of Centaurs said to be shown on a number of Pictish carved stones in North-East Scotland. These were outside the limits of the Roman Empire and appear to follow Classical representations and prototypes.

Father of the Centaurs

There are a couple of, though slightly different versions though related stories of how the centaurs came into being.

Ixion

Ixion, the son of Ares, who lusting for Zeus’ wife Hera, was tricked into thinking a cloud, known as Nephele and in Hera’s form was really her. As punishment, Zeus sent Ixion to Tartarus where he was bound to a flaming wheel and from there, the centaurs were born. In this version of the story, the resulting Centaurs were left at Mount Pelion where the Centaur-God Chiron and his daughters took them in to raise as their own. Following this lineage of the Centaurs, they are sometimes called Ixionidae. They could also be described as the nubigenae or cloud-born.

Centaurus

Also spelled as Centauros. In the previous story, instead of multiple centaurs resulting from Ixion’s union with Nephele, it was only one, a deformed human named Centaurus. Centaurus then procreated the species by mating with the Magnesian mares. Some accounts say that Centaurus was the son of Apollo and Stilbe, the daughter of the river god Peneus. In the later versions of this story, Centaurus’ twin brother is Lapithes, the ancestor to the Lapiths and thus making the Centaurs and Lapiths warring cousins.

Zeus

Sometimes, even Zeus himself is mentioned as the father or progenitor of the Centaurs, specifically the breed known as the Hippocentaurs. Zeus had metamorphosed into a horse and through Dia, the wife of Ixion, sired them.

Famous Centaurs

In brief, some of the more famous Centaurs are:

Chiron

Chiron was known for being gentle and wise. He has a linage and parentage different from the other centaurs and as a deity, was immortal until he gave it up to save Prometheus or was killed by an arrow covered with Hydra Poison.

Eurytion

This seems to be the name of two different centaurs and could explain why the Battle with the Lapiths can get intertwined with the incident where the hero Hercules battled and killed a number of the Centaurs.

The first Eurytion led the Centaurs in the battle with the Lapith’s at King Peirithous’ wedding where Eurytion was the one who tried carrying off Peirithous’s wife to rape. He was killed during this battle.

The second Eurytion, from Arcadia has a similar story where he demanded to marry the daughter of King Dexamenus of Olenus. This daughter was either Mnesimache or Deianira. In some accounts of this story, Eurytion threatened violence on Dexamenus’ daughter Hippolyte on the day of her wedding with Azan. When Dexamenus was forced to agree to a marriage, Hercules intervened and ends up killing Eurytion.

Hylaeus

Hylaeus was one of two centaurs foolish enough to try and rape the hero Atalanta. In some accounts, he had attacked and severly hurt Atalanta’s lover Meilanion. In this account, Hylaeus is killed by an arrow shot from Atalanta. In other accounts Hylaeus is said to have been killed during the battle with the Lapiths or that he’s one of the centaurs killed by Hercules.

Hylonome

Hylonome’s claim to fame is being one of the few, if not the only female centaur mentioned in the Greek Myths. Specifically in Ovid’s The Metamorphoses where she is mentioned as the mate to the centaur Cyllarus. When Cyllarus was killed during the battle with the Lapiths, Hylonome took the spear that killed her husband and impaled herself on it as she couldn’t bear living without him.

Pholus

Considered a civilized Centaur like Chiron, Pholus met his end when he invited the hero Hercules to dine with him. All was well until Hercules requested some wine to drink, which Pholus eventually produced. This wine was sacred and a rather potent brew, given to Pholus by the god Dionysus. When the wine was opened, the strong, heady aromas and alcohol lured in the other Centaurs who soon began a drunken brawl. Pholus was killed during this fight either by an accidental arrow shot or dropping a poisoned arrow on his hoof when he went to pull it from a dead comrade. Some scholars will say that either the constellations of Sagittarius or Centaurus represent Pholus.

Nessus

Nessus is a centaur who ran a foul of Hercules and was driven from his home in Arcadia. He set himself up as a ferryman on the river Evenus, claiming that he had been appointed that position by the gods. Later, Nessus found himself with the task of ferrying Heracules’ bride, Deianeira while Hercules crossed the river by himself. Nessus took advantage of the situation in an attempt to rape Deianeira. Hercules stopped this by shooting Nessus with a poisoned arrow. As he was dying, Nessus convinced Deianeira that a love charm made from his blood would insure Hercules’ faithfulness. What Deianeira didn’t know, was this blood was really poison and it is this poison that is responsible for Hercules’ death.

Rhoecus

Rhoecus is the other of two centaurs foolish enough to try and rape Atalanta. He too was killed by an arrow shot by Atalanta.

Centauromachy

Probably the most well known incident involving the centaurs was when they were invited to a wedding. King Peirithous of the Lapiths, had inherited part of Thessaly from his father Ixion. The Centaurs also being descendants of Ixion, claimed they were entitled to part of the land as well. After the first series of battles were fought, Peirithous sought to try and arrange a peace by inviting the Centaurs to the aforementioned wedding.

At this wedding, the Centaurs proceeded to get very drunk, this being their first encounter with wine and alcohol. With their inhibitions lowered, the Centaurs got very violent and riotous. With the centaur Eurytion leading them, they tried to carry off Hippodamia, Pirithous’s bride and the rest of the Lapith women to rape them. This resulted in another battle and the Centaurs were driven off and away from the area.

The hero Theseus, a founder of cities helped Pirithous fight off the Centaurs. Another hero who was present was Caeneus. He was said to be invulnerable to weapons, but that didn’t stop the Centaurs from beating Caeneus into the earth using rocks and branches.

This story is often used to illustrate the struggles and conflicts between barbarism and the more civilized behaviors of society and humankind. Sometimes this battle is connected to the story of Hercules and the Centaurs with their battle that killed so many. Depending on the source of the tale, this event is placed as happening in either Thessaly or in Arcadia. The end result being that the Centaurs are exiled from their home country and end up living on Mount Pindus near Epeirus.

There is a distinction made by Classical Writers that the Centaurs that Hercules fought were the Peloponnesian Centaurs. These Centaurs had fled to the Malean Peninsula in southern Lakonia are Eleusis where the god Poseidon offered them refuge. The Centaurs involved with the incident at King Peirithous’ wedding were the Thessalian Centaurs of Magnesia in northern Greece.

Destruction By The Sirens

In the battle and confrontation with Hercules, those Centaur not killed by this hero met their end when they fled to the Tyrrhenian Strait in what we call now days, Italy. Here they encountered the Sirens who lured them to their deaths with their songs.

Peleus’ Encounters With Centaurs

Peleus was the grandson of Chiron. At one point, he had a friendship with Acastus, one of the Argonauts. Acastus was manipulated into trying to kill Peleus after being told by his wife Astydamia that Peleus had tried to rape her. Acastus hid Peleus’ dagger or sword so he would be defenseless when the Centaurs came to try and kill him. Luckilly for Peleus, Chiron arrived to save him. Chiron is also said to have helped Peleus in succeeding marrying the goddess Thetis.

Achilles And The Centaurs

Achilles was the son of Peleus, making him the great-grandson of Chiron. He was at one point one of Chiron’s many students. This doesn’t seem to have worked out so well as according to Statius’ Achilleid, the Centaurs would complain to Chiron how Achilles would plunder their homes, steal their herds and eventually drove them from their homes.

Possible Reality Behind The Myths

Among historians and anthropologists, the idea is passed around that the legends of Centaurs may have been the first reaction of a culture unfamiliar with horse-back riding seeing peopled mounted on an animal, horses in this case. It could have been easy for people seeing these riders for the first time to see the half-man, half-animal figure. A Bernal Diaz del Castillo reports how the Aztecs thought the same thing when they first saw Spaniards on horseback for the first time. Horse taming and riding first arises out of those cultures living in the grassland steppes of Central Asia or the Middle East.

The Lapiths, kinsmen of the Centaurs from Thessaly were described as the inventors of horse-back riding by Greek writers. In Diodorus Siculus’ Library of History, he describes the Centaurs or Kentauroi as the first to engage in horse riding. Many Thessalian tribes claim their horse breeds come from the Centaurs.

This seems to further make sense of the Centaurs as a case of mistaken identity and really just riders on horseback when looking at the etymology of the word Centaur, meaning “piercing bull-stickers.”

In Palaephatus’ “On Incredible Tales,” mounted archers from a village called Nephele, killed off a herd of bulls that were menacing Ixion’s kingdom.

Babylonian Mythology And Connection

Some scholars, linking the names of the constellations to ancient Babylon, say that the name of Centaur and Centaurus; with its name of “piercing bull,” come from Mesopotamia where it symbolized the god Baal. He represented rain and fertility, fighting with and piercing with horns, the demon Mot who represented the summer droughts. Other sources say that the constellation of Centaurus in Babylonian and Mesopotamian cultures was a Bison-Man and associated with the Sun god Utu or Shamash.

Kentaurides, Female Centaurs!

Well yes, that makes sense when one thinks about it. If there are male centaurs and they were a tribe, wouldn’t there be females as well? A show like “Xena: Warrior Princess” says that all the Centaurs were male but could have intercourse with a human woman and the resulting baby or foal would be a male centaur. Thus they propagated the species that way.

Nor was Disney’s Fantasia the first to show female centaurs.

While the female centaurs or Kentaurides don’t have mention of in early Greek literature and writings, they have appeared in later writings. One female Kentaurides, Hylonome is mentioned by name in a 4th century B.C.E. Macedonian mosaic. It is one of the earliest examples of a female centaur in art.

The Greek Rhetorician, Philostratus the Elder describes the Kentaurides as the sisters and wives of the male Centaurs who live on Mount Pelion with their children. Even the idea of female centaurs is mentioned in Shakespeare’s play King Lear in Act IV, Scene vi, lines 124-125: “Down from the waist they’re centaurs,/Though women all above.”

And Finally! Centaurs In Astronomy!

The name Centaur is given to a classification of celestial objects or Minor Planets that share characteristics of both asteroids and comets. Unlike classic or True Planets, Centaurs don’t have a stable orbit and cross through the paths or orbits between Jupiter and Neptune. The first such Centaur was 944 Hidalgo in 1920, but it wasn’t until the discovery of 2060 Chiron in 1977 that these Minor Planets and Celestial objects were given a name in an attempt to classify them. There’s thought to be some 44,000 of these Centaurs in the Solar System with some of them reaching diameters of 1km. As this field of Astronomy is still new and there’s still lots being learned, different Institutions have different criteria for what makes these celestial objects a Centaur and the classifications are likely to change as more information is gotten.

Modern Astrologers have cheerfully glommed onto some of these Centaurs such as Chiron to adapt and come up with astrological correspondences and information for them.

Sagittarius

Sagittarius
Etymology – The Archer; “sagitta” means “arrow” in Latin. Toxotes in Greek

For those who study either Astronomy or Astrology, the constellation of Sagittarius is easily recognizable by the image of a centaur drawing a bow. It is found between the constellations of Ophiuchus to the west and Capricornus to the east.

Astronomy & Astrology

Much of the foundations of Western knowledge regarding the fields of Astronomy and Astrology owe its roots to Ancient Mesopotamian cultures. Many ancient cultures studied the stars, seeing in them patterns that are called constellations. These ancient astronomers were able to make predictable, annual turnings of the heavens that they could divide and mark for the passing of the Seasons and time. For the ancients, Astrology served as a precursor to Astronomy and they believed that by studying the heavens, they could foretell future events and even a person’s life path.

These ancient cultures would also meet and exchange ideas frequently and in this fashion, when the Greeks encountered the Persians, there was an exchange of knowledge regarding Astronomy that becomes the constellations and zodiacs so many know today. Eventually, there is no clear distinction between what ancient Mesopotamian Astronomers and Greeks Philosophers knew. Even in current, modern times, the influence of these ancients is still known.

Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, I’ve come across a couple of different stories related to the constellation of Sagittarius.

Chiron

Most people will identify Sagittarius as a centaur, half human, half horse, wielding a bow. Generally this centaur is supposed to be Chiron and in others, it’s the centaur Phollus. Upon their death, they were placed up in the heavens to form the familiar constellation of Sagittarius. More scholarly sources will point out that the story of Chiron is actually more correctly identified with the constellation of Centaurus.

Crotus

Interestingly, it wasn’t until I went looking up information on Sagittarius that I’ve come across the name of this satyr, Crotus. None of the books I have mention, name or come close to referencing him. Everything I’ve come up with on him is through on-line and these sources reference Theony Condos’ book Star Myths and two ancient sources of Eratosthenes (1st/2nd century C.E.) and Hyginus (1st century B.C.E.).

Just who is he? Crotus in the myths I found, place him as the son of Pan and Eupheme, apparently a nursemaid to the Muses and one of the Charities. Eupheme is another name that once I went looking up Crotus, I couldn’t find anything on her in my books except for on-line sources. But I can see why there’s a mix up with Chiron who was peaceful by nature and Crotus who was also peaceful by nature where other Centaurs and Satyrs were known for wild and rowdy behaviors.

But this story makes far more sense for Crotus to be the figure shown in the constellation of Sagittarius. Satyrs, depending on the source and book read, are sometimes described as having a horse’s tail along with the hooves and goat-like horns. And in the myths that I’ve found regarding Crotus, he’s described as being a very skilled hunter and the inventor of the bow. So well loved was he by the muses that they asked Zeus to place Crotus up among the stars to be commemorated as a constellation.

Perhaps in a vague effort to connect Sagittarius with its earlier Babylonian astronomy, the constellation of Sagittarius is said to aiming an arrow at the constellation of Scorpio, specifically the star called Antares, the heart of the Scorpion.

Babylonian Mythology

The constellation of Sagittarius was well known to earlier civilizations in the Middle East and Mesopotamian cultures. When the twelve constellations were listed sometime around the third millennium B.C.E., Sagittarius, the Archer was on it. It’s generally agreed by many that the Babylonian’s constellation of Sagittarius later becomes the root of the Greek Sagittarius mythology.

In some myths, the character of Enkidu, a feral man raised by beasts, was seen represented in the constellation of Sagittarius. Enkidu was a close friend and companion to Gilgamish of the city Uruk. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Nergal, the god of war is found on two cuneal inscriptions. In Sumerian, Nergal’s name means “Lord of the Great Dwelling,” that is the Underworld. Nergal was one of seven deities to who sacrifices and offerings of sheep and cattle were made. Nergal was originally associated with fire and the heat of the sun. One of his epitaphs is sarrapu, “the Burner.” He later came to be seen as a god of War, Pestilence and Devastation.

The Babylonians saw Nergal in the constellation of Sagittarius. Nergal was said to be a strange centaur-like creature firing a bow. One source states that this image is usually depicted with wings, two heads, one being a panther, the other a human head and a scorpion’s stinger raised above it instead of a horse’s tail.

The Sumerian’s also saw their god Pabilsag. This deity’s name is comprised of two words, the first being Pabil, meaning “elder paternal kinsman” and Sag, meaning “chief head.” The thought or idea is that the name can then translate to “Forefather” or “Chief Ancestor.” Pabilsag’s look contains several complex characteristics not interpreted in the Greek icon of a centaur. Pabilsag had a scorpion’s tail, a dog’s head and wings. In other variants the characteristics are altered, the dog’s head or wings could be overlooked all together, while in other icons bird like feet supplant the scorpion’s tail.

Some scholars like to try making a connection of the Greek Sagittarius to the ancient Babylonian constellation through the etymology of words. With how Sagittarius is from the Latin meaning the Archer. This is translated from the word Sagitta meaning an arrow. This is then translated from the Greek word Taxotes, meaning the Archer, and when translated to the Akkadian language, is Nedu the Soldier. Once more this gets translated to the Sumerian word “Us,” meaning the Soldier). And ultimately, it is finally translated to the Sumerian words Pa.bil.sag, meaning the Archer.

The Arabs named a number of the brighter stars in the constellation after parts of the human body and for parts of a bow and arrow, indicating that they too associated this constellation with an archer. One star, called Nunki, is a fairly recently used name by navigators and comes from a list of Babylonian star names. The name Nun-Ki was the name of a group of stars representing the Babylonian’s sacred city of Eridu on the Euphrates River. This name is now used exclusively for the star Sigma Sagittarii, and is considered to be the oldest star name in use.

Chinese Astronomy

For the Chinese, they view the constellation of Sagittarius as two separate constellations of the seventh and eighth lunar mansions called Ji and Dou Ji, representing a winnowing basket used for separating rice grains from their chaffs. The chaff was represented by a single star called Kang. A related constellation called Chu, the pestle is to the south of Ji, used for pounding the rice to remove the husks.

Dou, “dipper” or Nandou “southern dipper” was formed by the stars Mu, Lambda, Phi, Sigma, Tau and Zeta Sagittarii. This constellation is also called the Milk Dipper. In Chinese proverbs, the southern dipper marks life while the northern dipper, Beidou, the familiar Big Dipper found as part of Ursa Major, marks death. A solitary star nearby was called Nongzhangren, an old farmer, measures out the grains in the dipper and winnowing basket.

North of Dou, an arc of stars, Upsilon, Rho, 43, Pi, Omicron and Xi Sagittarii is called Jian and represents a banner, possibly at a city gate. Next to it is Tianji, the “celestial cock” who is in charge of time as they’re the first to crow the dawn while all the other birds follow it.

To the south of Tianji are two canine related constellations. Gouguo which consists of stars Omega, 59, 60 and 62 Sagittarrii. The name Gouguo translates to “territory of dogs” or “dog kingdom” and could represent a nation of Chinese myth and history, possibly the Mongols. Next to Gouguo, is Gou, formed by the stars 52 and Chi-1 Sagittarii, and is said to represent a guard dog.

In the southern part of Sagittarius, a group of ten stars formed the constellation Tianyuan and represented a body of water such as a lake or ocean. Tianyuan was said to control or govern the irrigation of fields. A group of fainter stars in Sagittarius on the border with the constellation Ophiuchus form part of another constellation, Tianyue. This constellation lay on an ecliptic threshold and represented a lock or keyhole through which the Sun had to pass every year. It lays directly opposite in the heavens from Tianguan, a gate on the edge of Taurus.

The Teapot

The eight brightest stars of Sagittarius form an easily recognizable, smaller constellation or asterism known as the “the Teapot.” Four stars form the body of the pot, while other stars form the lid, spout and even the handle. Another smaller group of these stars form a ladle shape called the Milk Dipper. Ancient Chinese astronomers also saw a dipper among these same stars as mentioned above.

The Galactic Center!

According to Astronomers, the constellation of Sagittarius sits at the center of the Milky Way galaxy as it is at its densest there. Many star clusters and nebulae are also found within the constellation of Sagittarius. Some of these nebulae are the Lagoon Nebula, the Omega Nebula, which is also called the Loon, or Swan or even the Horseshoe Nebula, and the Trifid Nebula. The brightest star cluster is called Messier 55. In addition to all this, it is believed that the exact center of the Galaxy is marked by a radio signal that astronomers call Sagittarius A.

Zodiac

The constellation of Sagittarius is the ninth sign of twelve signs that form the Zodiac. For those who study and are into the classical Greek Zodiacs, this time is typically said to be from November 21 to December 21. Due to the changes of the earth’s orbit and tilt, the best time to see this constellation is during early summer. The planet Jupiter is said to rule this Zodiacal sign and constellation. Its element is Fire, an extroverted sign and is one of four mutable signs.

Sagittarius people are said to like being straight forward, getting to the heart of the matter with honesty. Sometimes their sense of honesty and truthfulness can hurt as they may not necessarily sugar coat anything. A younger Sagittarius will be rather abrasive about this, sometimes coming off as a smart alec whereas an older Sagittarius has learned to better temper their words will still being very frank and forthright. A Sagittarius person may also aspire to a lot of athleticism, philosophy, scholarly pursuits, travel, adventure or high and noble ideals. They’re known for being loyal and being those who can give as well as effectively follow directions.