Today is a new Moon in Scorpio, and a solar eclipse, conjunct Saturn, and it’s all pretty much square my Sun astrologically. Lawd does this feel heavy. I couldn’t sleep last night, and had nightmares when I did. But that’s ok, it’s just time for something, so I calm myself, pull myself gently together, and say it’s time to let go.
According to one story Scorpio is linked to the death of Orion, and Scorpius was a giant scorpion sent by Gaia to slay the mythical hunter and companion of Artemis when he claimed that he could kill anything that the earth produced. In the night sky, as Scorpio rises Orion sets. Scorpio here is the irreducible beast that the hero can finally not fight or eradicate.
It appears the ancient Egyptians associated the constellation of Orion with the god Osiris, and I can find reference to a link between the constellation of Orion and a figure the Egyptians called “Sah”.
“The god Sah personified the constellation of Orion – the most distinctive of all the constellations in the night sky. While not part of the ‘imperishable’ circumpolar stars, the constellation became important in Egyptian mythology especially as it rose directly before the adjacent star Sirius (the Egyptian Sothis) – the brightest fixed star which was utilized in the calculation of the Egyptian calendar. The constellation god was thus connected with the star Sothis from an early date and the two came to be viewed as manifestations of Osiris and Isis respectively”
Finding an ancient Egyptian fit for Scorpio I have not found as easy, but in 1985 the Egyptologist Virginia Davis tentatively suggested the identifying the Egyptian zodiac figure of a Hippopotamus with a crocodile on its back with Ophiuchus, Libra and Scorpio (as per Studies of Occidental Constellations and Star Names to the Classical period:An Annotated Bibliography), though there is also mention of the hippo-crocodile constellation being associated with the stars of Draco the dragon, who is sometimes equated with Typhon, the monstrous son of Gaia, which might seem poetically reflective of Scorpius, but the constellations are not that near each other at all. The hippo figure is really interesting in itself, associated with the goddess Tawaret, being such a powerful, ambivalent but respected figure, both ferocious and protective. Follow the link if you’re interested.
The Sumerians and Babylonians did however recognized a constellation of the scorpion (Babylonian Gir Tab).
One tale I found (which I have been unable to verify or trace references for, but it would be intriguing if there were something to it) says of Scorpio’s origin:
At that time Scorpio and Virgo were one . Libra did not exist. The duality of humanity , feminine and masculine, was not separated. As spirits, all of humanity was complete. When we were separated into genders the signs were separated as well. The female side became Virgo the Virgin (similar to Eve in Christianity) and the masculine half became Scorpio(similar to Adam in Christianity). Libra, the sign of marriage and partnership, was placed as a bridge between the two.
It sounds like old fashioned esoteric myth making, but it is interesting, and actually fits with the similarity of the symbols for Virgo and Scorpio, and the old overlap of the scales’ pans and the scorpion’s claws.
In Babylonian mythology the scorpion men are the offspring of Tiamat (primordial goddess of salt water) created to fight the younger gods for betraying her mate Apsu, god of fresh water. They turn up again in the Epic of Gilgamesh as guardians of the gates of the Sun god Shamash. They open the doors for the Sun and close them behind him when he travels out from and returns to the underworld each day. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an extraordinary tale, and there are interesting resonances between Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s hunting exploits and their killing of the Bull of Heaven (with dire consequences for the deeply bonded pair) and Orion’s fatal hunting challenge.
There is something about Scorpio which chimes with irreducible Nature, and the place where the heroic buck stops. Chaotic and monstrous to the vision of unfettered human “civilization” and mastery, but retaining the origin that remains in all things, it is the sting in the tail of a story that goes beyond its own limits. Finely balanced scales, black claws. As they stereotypically say of Scorpio: life, sex and death.
I was always moved by the story of Gilgamesh though. Because he loses, and his grief cannot be righted, and he cannot save what he longs for, and he must live with mortality (as well as the reality of his love). He becomes a “good king” instead of a hero.
In the northern hemisphere, this is where Winter really starts, and the Sun sails south. But we can remember: balance, and the sting in the tail, the necessary sting, which a scorpion will use against itself rather than be cornered and defeated. That is how determined life is. That’s how black and white the impetus to truly live is. And what’s wrong or right here is almost irrelevant, compared to the coiled impetus to truly live and love.
So with a candle and some honey, we made an offering at our south altar. And we get on with our day, and I let go.