Embedded high up in immense cliffs a beautiful convex mirror is held within the rock matrix. Appearing as an artifact from another world, its pitted surface belies the magic it holds within. Covered in the dust of ages, unrecognisable but for the circular shape of its rim, it is a living archetype. Concretised and held fast, it conceals memories, stories and knowledge, fossilised yet reaching far back in time….and yet, its lensing face pointing towards the stars, it holds the promise of a greater vision brought to earth.
Far below, on the shores of a deep and winding river a vast cavern echoes with ancient voices. Each word a luminous spark ascending from a hidden fire, their rhythmic chant rises through the old forests lining the deep valley to become myriad stars wheeling high above the towering cliffs.
Between these realms a great tree connects heaven and earth. Older than all the forests, its roots reaching into the deepest subterranian realms, its branches touching unseen worlds between the stars, it is wise in its silent presence, intelligent beyond all earthly knowing.
The Power Of Persuasion
Deep in the heart of Saturn’s realm the July full Moon illuminates a world of extremes. At 28° Capricorn it speaks of ‘high station’, a place of elevation where the bedrock of law and power oversee the stability of the material realm. Its role is to balance the ineluctable interior forces of the imaginal world, here illuminated and activated through the Sun’s position at 28° Cancer, against the exteriorising power of the intellect, the reasoning and formalising potential of Nous. It is a balance between the felt and the abstracted.
In Capricorn this is the degree of the ‘Statesperson’, the lawful arbiter upon whose speech the nation’s well-being rests, through which it is negotiated. In Plato’s ‘Statesman’ this wordweaving is the handwork of Athene, upon whose paradigm he posits the craft of ‘politics’. It augers the power of words to arbitrate the anomalous, to find a place within the ‘sanctified whole’ for what James Hillman, in referencing the dilema of Orestes, translates as the ‘resident alien'(1). Orestes is a victim of necessity, caught between the worlds having transgressed sacred boundaries at the command of higher powers. He is torn between archai. The paradox is manifest in Ananke.
A symbolic representation of Necessity’s fundamental archetypal power, Plato described Ananke as ‘narrowing’, both of circumstance and scope, like ‘walking through a ravine which is impassable, rugged and overgrown, and impedes motion’. As an archetypal power Ananke carries something of Saturn’s signature, but it also embodies the irrepressible forces constellated at the emotional centre of the psyche. If released, which they must be for integration to be achieved, these fierce forces can manifest as anomalous outbursts, and their latency is made clear through their etymological links with angst and anxiety.
And yet, in its very narrowness, if redeemed of its alien otherness, Ananke intimates a ‘close bond’, a fundamental kinship, and natural and moral ties between persons. The balance sought through this Moon’s process of ‘negotiation towards integration’ seeks not to obliterate the anomalous identity and its latent power but to ‘normalise’ it, by finding a place for it within the ‘divine order’. The quality of this Moon, for all its paradoxical stresses, carries potential for reconciliation and healing. The key lies in the power of words.
In the ‘Oresteia of Aeschylus’ (2) it is indeed Athena who arbitrates the fate of Orestes, and she does so through the power of Peitho, Persuasion. This is the core active element working through this full Moon, but, it also carries magical overtones, through association with incantation and ‘spell-work’ that are equally persuasive. These are of a more hidden nature than Athene’s applied framework of reason and rhetoric. In fact rhetoric can be as magically persuasive as the esoteric power of words suggest, but, at root their power is here sourced in Ananke, rather than Nous.
At the Sun’s degree in Cancer we find both interwoven.
The Inner Radiance
The Moon’s influence finds its counter balance and resolution in the Cancer Sun, a point of contrast carrying the emotive language of a deeply innate source. At 28° Cancer the protective shell of the dwelling place has taken on the symbolism of ‘the cave of the ancestors’, the womblike opening in the earth, where we find our greater family itself embedded within the matrix of the fertile valley of Life. Its inhabitants, existing ourside of time and Saturn’s realm, subsume the full Moon’s high position. Arising from common roots within the matrix of life, the achievements of high culture are enriched by the deeper meaning they can deliver. Reconciling the tension between these polarity points is an act of healing, which Athene achieves through persuasive influence and inclusivity. But, her presence here originates with the Sun, the force behind original identity, through the asteroid Athene. One degree from the solar disc at full Moon, Athene is also found conjunct the TNO (Trans-Neptunian Object) Varuna.
In Varuna we find the pervasive presence of the divine that is ‘behind everything’. Varuna, representing the fundamental spiritual power beyond perception, was one of the pre-Vedic creation deities and the first ‘named’ TNO to be discovered beyond Pluto’s orbit (3). In fact Varuna, like Athene, is also associated with the application of law, to those who do not keep their word. But, unlike Athene’s application through human law, Varuna’s are natural laws, an expression of the incomprehensible cosmic order, as opposed to the order of society. In essense, Varuna is akin to the background radiation that infuses all in the material world, out of sight, but here, and distinctly not ‘out of mind’.
The corollaries of Athene, Pallas and Minerva, also hold the balance of the earth and water signs at full Moon – Pallas is at 5° Pisces and Minerva opposes at 3° Virgo. The triumvirate goddess is coherent by element, Minerva and the Moon in earth, Pallas, Athene and the Sun in water. The triplicated water element holds sway – a reflection of the healing potential needing to be brought to the people, represented by the Moon, a restorative to the soul.
The third decan of Capricorn in which we find the full Moon is sub-ruled by Venus, now quincunxing Pallas and Neptune from early Leo. Along with Mercury, Venus also trines Saturn in Sagittarius and the message is clear. The feminine energy now emphasises the need to integrate Athene’s qualities of holding and receptivity into the greater whole.
This is a Moon that encourages the healing power of Capricorn to prevail, its higher order concieved through feeling connections rather than applying the fruits of ambition. The metaphysical nature of language can overcome the physical attributes of the Moon’s degree. In doing so the people are called upon to remind the statespeople of their essential role, not as aggressively defensive representatives of nationalistic indentity, but, as people whose words and rhetoric embody the most noble and reconciliatory responsibilities of their high office – the resolution of the apparently irreconcilable, the disfunctional seperation between the power of the State and the voice of the People.
In Plato’s conception of the State the balance between Nous and Ananke is vital, and Athene’s role in maintaining it paramount, but, there is a deeper and more cosmological meaning at work here as Plato also considered creation to arise not out of the elements, but out of the interweaving (an Athenian word) of Nous and Ananke. It is in Athene’s power of rhetoric to carry ‘change’ to its next level that her creative side is revealed. She brokers the deal by incorporating necessity, giving it a rightful place. In our pathological world this is tantamount to taking back antagonistic elements of our shadow from projection, of integrating its presence and subsuming its forces into a higher, that is to say more holistic, order of consciousness.
As political as we might expect a Capricorn Moon to be, in its deeply founded instincts, impersonal yet natural, Ananke embodies ‘driving necessities’, and their prevelance cannot be denied amongst the body politic. Ananke is fundamental ‘being’ whose powers cannot be subsumed in themselves, but, which can be given their appropriate place, honoured and recognised, without compromise to either their integrity or the integrity of the whole.
This pathological quality is also a political necessity that infuses this full Moon with a need to recognise the driving forces behind our current circumstances, as well as the wounds they may inflict through eruption, both indicated by sextiles from the Moon to Mars in Scorpio, and Chiron in Pisces. Along with the Sun, this kite configuration can fly aloft and achieve great heights, but it is in the Sun’s anchoring position that its healing capacity is most fully illuminated. Without the root, the thread of generative power rising from within its womb like cavern, the past and the future become dangerously cut adrift from reality – and, without the ancestral thread, the people lose identity.
In this full Moon is a poigniant reflection of the current political upheavals through which we are seeing diplomacy being heavily orchestrated by the tension between both globalised political realignments and restructuring, much of which remains hidden and out of the hands of the people, and terrorist outbreaks of violence which release powerful irrational forces within the populace and the force of necessity within the body politic.
The cracked and tarnished mirror must be retrieved, moistened and worked upon to restore its soul reflecting potential, and the highest offices of power restored with a transparency and integrity that is capable of reflecting the soul of the collective. As it is, the mirror, as the People, occupies the moral and ethical vantage point, but, it is encrusted with centuries if not millenia of calcified political and social wounds, held fast and obscured.
It is a vantage point from which the Moon reflects the dangers of a world in which even the highest levels of consciousness are prone to wrong use, where its aspirations have become entrapped in false ideologies and hubristic illusion. If over-indulgent of its own level of importance, its position’s highest value can become clouded by irrelevance, forgotten amidst a jaded sense of self justifying meaning. Cut lose from the necessities of the mundane and secular through misuse of force and power, as much as from the People themselves, it posits its own truth in the face of the apparent opposite. This is the degree of Capricorn where leadership can manifest its own shadow, perhaps as clear an indication of the flavour of the times as we can expect.
However, the complimentary gift of this degree is its capacity for taking the Saturnian qualities of focus and realisation to the next level, and for those who can aspire towards and work with that potential, as well as for the dreamer who would set the mirror of their own soul free from the binding constraints of worldly power and necessity, a more transcendant role is also offered here.
The Divine Gift
Etymologically Athene is connected with both ‘attainment’ and ‘holding’. In maritime lore hers is the place at the top of the mast, the ‘Tau’, where the lookout is stationed. At the base of the mast is the holding box, the ‘Kau’, which corresponds to the centre of balance for the vessel. The dynamic between the two is itself extreme, the one pitching with every wave, exaggerating the energy of the swelling ocean, the other pivotal and steady, keeping the vessel bouyant, balanced around a common centre. Her role is to weave together, to foster the crafting of life through navigating a sure course, in all events, reconciling its vicarious nature between these polarities.
She can be seen as the Mother figure of the State, even though in her mythology she remained childless and in ‘virgin’ state herself. She is the fierce protector, fully armoured and ready for combat, but, in her capacity for finding healing words and containment she brings the feminine and the masculine into balance. She represents the middle way, the center ground which is capable of embracing the ‘abnormal’ through inclusivity based upon steadfast intelligence.
Like Saturn her emphasis on discipline is dispassionate, however, her persuasive reasoning can bring both energy and direction, and inspire while formulating goals of a higher order. In this full Moon she offers the means for releasing the light of reason, as a vehicle for life affirming forces to become re-integrated into the world, at a time when the mirror is defiled and its reflection cracked.
These are primal innate forces that can neither be named or objectified, but, which give rise to all that has become incarnate. Their highest expression transcends boundaries, as symbolised in the Tree of Life, but, just as the lunar disc is dependant upon the solar disc’s radiance for its glory at full Moon, the people are dependant upon the endless stream of ancestral voices singing us into being. As Hillman says, “in the mouth of Athene speech becomes a curative hymn, a word which etymologically means ‘spun’ or ‘woven words'”(4). There is great power for the good to be found in this, an enchantment. The ancestors voices give us our root identity and their light lives on in Nature, both on Earth and amongst the stars. In retrieving the mirror of the soul from its bondage in the material, our work at its restoration and re-enchantment will bring their reflection back to Earth and illuminate our souls.
(1) & (4) Facing The Gods ~ James Hillman, Spring Publications 1980
(2) The Oresteia of Aeschylus ~ trans. G. Thompson, Cambridge University Press, 1938
(3) Varuna was discovered in the year 2,000; not the first minor planet to be observed beyond Pluto’s orbit, it was the first to be given a name. It has been designated the number 20000.
Asteroid Athene’s number is 881; Pallas is 2; Minerva is 93
The imagery at the head of this article came from a dream many years ago which arrived under a Capricorn full Moon and was fleshed out, its inner significance to this time confirmed, through meditations on the degrees for the Sun and Moon sourced in the Sabian symbols and the divinatory meaning given to these degrees through the Chandra symbols.