Tag Archives: ophiuchus
In response to the article on the shift of the zodiac that traveled through the internet this January: horoscope-hang-up-earth-rotation-changes-zodiac-signs
The tropical zodiac, used by the majority of astrologers in western cultures, is based on when the seasons begin, not on the position of stars, so this finding is irrelevant. And this fact hasn’t changed in 2000 years, so this “news” is rather old. The sidereal zodiac, used by Vedic/Indian astrologers would be more affected by this finding.
THE 13th CONSTELLATION
Attending to one’s dreams, waking visions, and synchronicities is the foundation of shamanic consciousness, and was an integral component of the ancient world, especially through the dream healing practices related to the Greek god of healing, Asclepius, known in the heavens as Ophiuchus.
Many of us are aware of the prophecies involving the December 21, 2012 alignment of the solstice sun, the earth, and the galactic center. But if we study the astromythology pertaining to the center of our galaxy, we can understand better the shamanic ramifications of these prophecies.
At the core of our Milky Way galaxy is a trinity of constellations: Scorpius, Ophiuchus, and Sagittarius. Between December 1st and December 17th, the Sun actually travels through the constellation of Ophiucus, the Serpent Bearer. Ophiuchus, often called the 13th constellation for this reason, is a macrocosmic mirror for the figure of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing and dreams, whose birth story gives us much instruction on the experience of transmutation, magic, and medicine so essential in understanding our current spiritual evolution.
BIOGRAPHY of ASCLEPIUS
Asclepius is the son of Apollo and his lover Coronis (“crow” or “raven”). While Apollo is away, Coronis, who is pregnant with Asclepius, falls in love with Ischys. Apollo sends his sister, Artemis the huntress, to kill Coronis because he can not bring himself to do it. Only once Coronis’ body is atop the flame of the funeral pyre, does Apollo regain his senses. He orders the messenger god, Hermes to cut the unborn child out of Coronis’ womb, and give the child to the wise centaur Chiron, to raise.
In one tradition, Asclepius becomes a widely respected healer, only to have a catalytic episode with his own fears, which propels him into the status of Divine Healer. Shut up in the house of Glaucus, whom he was meant to cure, a serpent enters as Asclepius is absorbed in thought. The serpent entwines itself around Asclepius’s staff, and Asclepius kills the snake. But then, another serpent appears with an herb in his mouth and resurrects the dead serpent with this herb. Asclepius, bewildered, begins to use this same herb in his healings with his patients, eventually gaining the skills of raising the dead back to life. Hades-Pluto, as god of the underworld, will have none of this, afraid that Asclepius’ powers will prevent any souls from entering Hades’ domain. He beseeches his brother Zeus to strike Asclepius down, which Zeus does with a lightning bolt. But Asclepius’ father Apollo pleads with Zeus to immortalize Asclepius in the stars, and thus is born the 13th constellation ofOphiuchus, the Serpent-Bearer.
ASCLEPIUS and the SERPENT-SHAMAN WITHIN
By being ripped from the womb, Asclepius is torn from the fluid dream-consciousness of the womb-state. This is highly instructive for us, because Asclepius becomes the God of dream-healing. He takes his birth trauma wound and turns it into his magical offerings, educating us in how to invoke the archetype of the Wounded Healer.
He also must deal with a very heavy genetic inheritance and family constellation. First, his mother has an affair, betraying his father, a god, during her pregnancy. Then his father, the god of Light, kills his mother, before she gives birth. Asclepius is torn from the womb, in one of the earliest myths of a C-Section (his name means “to cut open,”––Asclepius, god of healing, thereby setting the template for the future surgeons of the world).
This is fairly heavy stuff. Yet Asclepius, fatherless and motherless, is educated by the wise centaur Chiron , who teaches him how to transmute his pains and trauma from personal suffering into the golden gift of sacred service.
Like Asclepius, we feel ourselves gifted, but orphaned at the same time. We recognize our divine status, as demi-gods, yet we struggle with our wounds and the limits of a single body in the constraints of space and time.
CELESTIAL SNAKE SYMBOLISM
“Be ye as wise as serpents…” – Jesus to his disciples.
As we can see above, the serpent of Asclepius’ fear, which he kills, becomes his serpent teacher, the one who guides him into accesing his divine gifts.
In the sky, Ophichus, who was also called Serpentarius in the ancient world, wrestles with a gigantic snake. Serpents consistently symbolized wisdom, regeneration, and prudence, and were believed to be guardians of wells with salutory powers. Some tame serpents were kept in the temples dedciated to Asclepius, and the god would often appear in the form of a serpent.
Because they shed their skin to grow, serpents have always been associated with death and rebirth. They instruct us how to discard what is no longer our essence. In this process of shedding away the refuse, new pathways of perception open before us, which were previously blocked by the baggage of our former identity attachment. Thus, the Pythia of Dlephi (pythiafrom “python”) were associated with a great snake at the oracle of Delphi. Many other goddesses of prophecy, visions, and divination, such as Medusa to Lillith, were often associated with serpents.
Ophichus wrestles the serpent in the sky, while Asclepius is portrayed in Greek art with the serpent-entwined staff. Here we find the familiar shamanic symbolism: the serpent DNA spiraling up the Tree of Life, just as the kundalini rides the chakra system. The staff, like the witch’s broom, or the magician/wizards wand, as we’ve learned in Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, represents the Tree of Life which the shaman-wizard uses to access his hidden powers while traveling the Lower, Middle, and Upper Worlds.
In Ophiucus, we must learn to charm the serpents of the unconscious, to open our mouths and our hearts to Snake medicine as we contact-dance with those shadow forces we encounter in the previous sign of Scorpio, the domain of mystery, the dungeon of the hidden psyche––the forces of the Lower World.
If we gain the Ophiuchun perspective and recognize the medicine in the shadow, the lesson in the darkness, only then we will be able to truly retrieve the fragmented elements of our soul. As we encounter the many faces of our own multidimensional self, then we embark on our return home, soaring to the Upper Worlds, to our point of origin at the galactic center. We follow the Archer’s arrow to the core of all consciousness, the black-hole source we navigate as gypsy pilgrims on the Sagittarian quest for expanded consciousness. Here, we seek truth and meaning as we sail into the spirit world. We are the hero encountering beings, ideas, and philosophies whose alien presence and profound significance transcends linguistics, but whose presence helps us to build a cosmology of meaning and purpose.
On one level, the Ophiuchus serpent symbolizes the medicine we use in order to navigate this Middle World, while accessing both the Lower and Upper worlds: breathwork, regression therapy, pyschedelics, shamanic journeying, trancedance, etc.
Even as we study our astrology charts, we wrestle with a new level of self-awareness. Simultaneously humbled and empowered, we must learn to accept and activate the highest expressions of our birthscript, while embodying the most evolved potential of our transits.
The scorpion, like the serpent lurks beneath the rocks, in the shadows. As soon as we sip of the Scorpionic snake medicine and consummate our healing journey, we must battle with the serpent, where there can be no return to “profane” consciousness. This reminds us of the lessons in the tale of Adam and Eve: the serpent is the keeper of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, in which we lose innocence and awaken from ignorance into consciousness. If we try to escape from what we find, we project outside of us our inner demons, while also neglecting the angels trying to communicate through us our gifts of healing, art, and service.
At this time of year, the majority of us return to parents and family, to that which initially defined us. Just as in our shamanic healing work, we are once again exposed to the ‘wounds of our inheritance,” both karmic and genetic.
We see then how the solar hero within each one of us must at last be stung by the Scorpion’s tail in order to become the bodhisattva servant to all, the Wounded Healer, born in the embrace of Scorpious, Ophiuchus and Sagittarius at the Galactic Center, at last reunited with our Source, guiding others on their journey to wholeness.
PILGRIMAGE to the DREAM CHAMBER
To attain to these Sagittarian heights, we must first learn that to integrate Ophiuchus is to remember Asclepius, and to remember Asclepius is to honor our dreams. We should put into perspective the potential of dream healing. For nearly 2000 years, between roughly 1600 b.c.e and 400 c.e, Greeks and Romans, commoners and nobles alike were healed through dream incubation at over three hundred Asklepian sanctuaries.
Pilgrims who visited the asklepion, the temples of Asclepius, had to usually spend multiple nights in the sanctuary, purifying themselves through fasting and ritual bathing. The sick wouldincubate the dream, asking for advice on curing their particular condition. Either Asclepius would visit the patient in the dream world or the patient would have a dream that would be tended and interpreted by special priests who lived at the pilgrimage sites. The disease and remedy were recorded, etched into stelae still present at the pilgrimage sites today.
Most likely, the sites themselves played a supportive role in the healing of pilgrims as the sanctuaries were often near sacred caves, springs, and in beautiful country settings. These Asclepian sanctuaries resonate with the modern movement towards fully sustainable, eco-healing retreat centers. It seems that almost every other person I talk to has had a vision of and is working towards creating retreat centers in more natural environments, such as Costa Rica. Many have visioned this holistic sanctuary functioning as both a conscious birthing and conscious dying center, where the spectrum of life experience can be appreciated for its medicine. In addition, regular dream sharing and dream incubation chambers would be built near malocas for ceremonies involving plant medicines and other shamanic journeys.
With Jupiter and Uranus finishing their journey in Pisces this winter, and with Neptune just about to begin his 14 year journey through Pisces as well––the mystic, the artist, the poet, and the dreamer in each of us is awakening to their unique offerings in the fulfillment of this vision: the remembering and implementation of our modern Asklepian.
I leave with a list of resources to aid your work in dream-healing:
Carlos Castaneda’s Art of Dreaming, The Practice of Dream Healing by Edward Tick, Robert Moss’ many books includingConscious Dreaming, Dreaming True, and his healthylife.netpodcast, The Tibetan Yoga of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Rinpoche and the visionary fiction masterpiece The Kin of Ata are Waiting for You, by Dorothy Bryant.