Astrological Tarot Lesson XII – Aquarius, the 8-Rayed Star and the Fertile Land of Khem
What every good magician needs to know.
The Sun has now entered into the Fixed Air sign of Aquarius – The Water Bearer.
Mercury will also enter this sign on February 8th until the 25th and Luna will join them on Friday the 27th – the New Moon. With the New Moon we also enter the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rooster.
Like all of the ancient stories of Gods and Goddesses, there are similar tales across different traditions.
The mythology of Aquarius is the tale of the waters of the gods poured from the urn by androgynous youth. In Greece he was Ganymede, kept by Zeus to keep the goblets of the Gods filled with ambrosia. When he finally had enough of his sentence of servitude, Ganymede emptied all of the vessels onto the earth, causing a great flood.
In other traditions, the Water Bearer is not a person but the Urn or Water Vessel itself. The Babylonians who recorded and are accredited with the creation of modern astrology learned much from the work of the ancient Egyptian astronomers. In the Nile Delta, every year the waters flooded the land and the year was divided into three sections, the time of Inundation, the time of Growth, and the time of Harvest. They saw the waters as the tears of Isis, mourning the death of her husband Osiris.
When a celestial object (a star for instance) rises at the same time as the sun, it can’t be seen because the sun is so bright, but the first visibility after the conjunction is known as the heliacal rising. In the Egyptian story the 8-spoked star represents Sirius, the Dog Star, whose heliacal rising marked the flooding of the Nile. The goddess of Sirius was Sothis, and the God of the Flooding of the Nile was the blue-skinned and heavy-breasted Hapi.
As the flood waters receded, the land was left rich and dark with deposits from the Nile, a necessity for life as it allowed agriculture to flourish and a new crop to grow each year. The ancient name of Egypt was Khem, and it literally meant The Black Land, referring to the dark, fertile soil. It is from the name Khem that we find the origin for the word Alchemy and it’s progeny: Chemistry.
Thus the Nile flood is the story of fruitfulness and regeneration made possible by a seemingly traumatic act of God.
This story is illustrated in the Tarot in Key 17.
In the Tarot, Aquarius corresponds to the 17th Major Arcana: THE STAR
The eight-rayed star is the symbol of the Compass Rose, marking the cardinal directions and the four intercardinal directions: NW, NE, SW, and SE, the star of the quarters and the cross quarters. When enclosed within a circle it is the symbol for elemental Spirit; adorning the tunic of The Fool.
The Wheel of Fortune bears 8 spokes, one of which is surmounted by the symbol of Aquarius (also an alchemical symbol for dissolution), and this card bears a figure in the upper left representing Aquarius as the Cherubim from Ezekiel’s vision. This imagery is repeated in the World Card, which is the card which associates to Saturn, the ruling planet of Aquarius.
The 8 pointed star is seen through pagan traditions as the Wheel of the Year, divided by the 8 Sabbats.
In the order of the Major Arcana, the Star follows the Tower. The story of hope after a period of darkness is obvious as the metaphor of the Nile Delta. The Star represents the glimmer of hope that is seen as the dust of the blasted tower begins to settle.
It is celestial GUIDANCE, and like the compass it is there to assist us in navigating. As viking sailors or the 3 maji followed the Star to their destiny, it is ever symbolic of guiding light and the direction toward which we should point our bow.
Aquarius (THE STAR) – Fixed Air ruled by Saturn (THE WORLD)
“The Tree is a means, a method, a map, and a mechanism, for assisting the attainment of the single objective common to all Creeds, Systems, Mysteries, and Religions, namely the Mystical Union of Humanity and Divinity in the Great AT-ONE-MENT.”
– William Gray, Ladder of Lights