Beautifully Balanced in the Claws of the Scorpion

It is worth remembering that Libra has not always been represented as a pair of delicately balanced scales. There was a time when that constellation was actually marked as the claws of the Scorpion. The memory of this is beautifully depicted in this image of the constellation. I’ve been thinking a lot about this symbolism and would like to share the follow insights that have come to me about this.

I think of Libra as the sign in the zodiacal journey around the wheel where we become conscious. If we think in terms of its association with the 7th house, then, it is the sign where raise our head above the horizon for the first time. It is the sign where we first encounter opposition (in its opposition to the first sign, Aries). So it is the sign through which we become conscious of ourselves in relation to the other, where “otherness” comes to meet us!

So here we have a threshold point, where dwells the threshold guardian, whose persective is directly opposed to that of our own most personal, Arien / first-house identity.  I somemtimes think of it as personal blind-spot in the wheel.  And this “otherness” that both opposes and mirrors us, might appear in our lives as a lover, a business partner, a soul mate, or a worthy opponent. But whichever it is, there is an irresistible attraction that draws the other into our midst during this stage of the journey. And the spirit of Libra throws us another prop too – a very fetching pair of rose coloured spectacles through which to view our “mate”.

During this period of attraction and seduction is the Autumn season greets us first in its more balanced Libran phase.  And it meets our gaze with the most remarkable natural beauty and quality of light as leaves turn a rich array of colours and shades. But remember the scales are really a pair of Scorpion’s claws. Autumn is possessed of a darker intent, and will reveal its true identity in the next sign.  The pans, or the claws? Either way, they hold us transfixed in the immutable grip of death and re-birth, that so characterises this extraordinary season.

Capturing the Sunset
Again when we consider the Libra association with the seventh house and, thus, the setting sun, we find powerful imaginal resonance. One is at once enthralled by the beauty of the sunset, and capivated by its myriad colours. There’s a kind of nostalgia held fast in that moment of the day as light it fades and darkness approaches. It seems to me a perfect mirror of the seasonal moment. So the Libran artisan attempts to capture the beauty of the sunset, the beauty of Autumn, trying to hold the tension in the colours as they turn. What we want, it seems, is to preserve that moment, freeze it, dedicate it to memory, capturing it with our camera, or on the canvas or in a musical score.

So it is in this confrontation with that which opposes our known identity, through having to dance with the tension in the opposition that we are prepared, nature-readied for the unfolding process of death and re-birth. For six months, since that first Arien bud broke seed pod on the first cherry tree, we have been shown nothing but visible signs of life, that are so obvious that they overwhelm us with their vitality and presence. Now on that cusp of death, of night, of dreamtime. We are readying ourselves for the journey of the soul into the underworld-wonderworld, where we will need very different instruments of navigation that we required during the ‘light’ phase of the year. We must learn much about our shadow if we are to make a successful crossing, and embrace death as an essential part of life. Through this we come to know that the opposite of death is not in fact life, but birth – and that life indeed has no opposite, for it is all-embracing, all-composing, all-engaging.

From the Wedding to the Marriage
Life, then, is the journey and re-birth is a stage in that journey that we will learn about as Autumn’s true mission begins to confront us now.  In Libra we are still flirting with commitment, playing the mating game. And we may try to play along with that Libran lightness, long after the colourful leaves are composted in the ground, and we are left dancing with shadows – mourning the lack of response that we receive back from the other. We may marry in Libra, quite appropriately too, for it is the sign of the wedding and nature’s backdrop could not be more poignantly beautiful.  As we enter Scorpio, though, we are confronted, inevitably with the truth of that marriage – as the confetti withers and the albums of memories begin to gather dust, and the real work of marriage – transformation – begins. The marriage that is unable to foretell, or embrace, the shadow and when it inevitably arises, unable to experience the depths of its transformational power, is liable to suffer the confines of a lightweight, compromise union. Or else have it played out repeatedly to some form of conclusion through the dark arts of the divorce lawyer or criminal investigator.

In terms of time, of course, the astrological year is a metaphor for our life’s journey, but not “just” a metpahor, for its cycle is relentless and existentially ‘real’.  We may spend years, or lifetimes, predominating our attention in the Libran phase, vaguely glimpsing or consciously avoiding the successive phases. The power of following the year in this ritual way, as we do on The Alchemical Journey allows us to imitate Nature’s extraordinary teaching in an embodied, processional way.  As we start to weave that deep understanding back into our lives, so we begin to recognise the symbols, the metaphors, the deep, timeless archetypal stories when they appear to us, in our dreams, and in our everyday encounters.

So, here we are in Libra – held fast in the pans of the scales, in the claws of the Scorpion, illuminating the tension in our lives between light and shadow, such that we might know a deeper truth of our destiny and be prepared to surrender the known for the unknown, the identity for the Soul.

PostScript:  The Southern Hemisphere
As you might imagine, I am often asked the question “what about the southern hemisphere?”, where the seasons are reversed and thus not in synch with the symbolism of the signs, or else opposed to them.  I have done quite a bit of deep thinking about this and have some quite passionately held views about it – which I am more-than-happy to converse about here or any other other internet platform for that matter.  And I may write up my ideas as a blog topic in the future.

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