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April 2006

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Nergal’s Story – A Mesopotamian look at Mars and his descent into the Underworld

A Man, A Vision and the Edge of History - Ehud Olmert Israel’s new  Prime Minister


VAN Archive -



In the last few days we have had the final confirmation of the article "The Prince Takes the Crown"  January Newsletter (Issue No.13). The sky at that time revealed a non-violent shift of power passing from a "king" to his appointed heir. Within a few weeks of the newsletter, Ariel Sharon suffered a massive heart attack, placing his deputy, Ehud Olmert, in power. To complicate the matter, Israel was due to have elections and the unknown Olmert was not expected to win. However, the sky message of Jupiter amongst the stars of the Scales was a clear message from the Babylonian priests and astrologers that the person who was Sharon's "prince" would take power. The election occurred just a few day ago and Ehud Olmert was duly elected the new Prime Minster. Never underestimate Jupiter amongst the stars of the Scales to keep surprises out of politics!

With Ehud Olmert now the new Israeli Prime Minster, Darrelyn has focused on his chart and his fixed stars, in particular the Royal Star Fomalhaut, as now his ideas, beliefs and leadership skills will impact on all of us through Israel's policies in the Middle East.


Nergal’s Story – A Mesopotamian look at Mars
Bernadette Brady M.A.

In the Babylonian pantheon, Nergal was the god of war and he was always shown as bearded and carrying swords or weapons. Through his love for Ereshkigal, he also became the god of the Underworld. He ruled over all battles, as well as the cemeteries of warriors, and he could bring plague to live stock, particularly cattle. When the Greeks took dominancy around 600 B.C.E. then his warrior features were absorbed and translated into the Greek hero Hercules, as well as the Greek god of war Mars and, through his association with Mars, Nergal gained rulership over the zodiac signs Aries and Scorpio. But in this Greek translation Nergal lost his authority as Lord of the Underworld as that position was assigned to Zeus’ brother Hades. However, two and a half thousand years later, when Pluto was discovered in 1929 and named after the Roman god of the Underworld, Nergal regained some of his rulership of this domain when astrologers assigned Pluto rulership over Scorpio.
                                                                                                                                    The Mesopotamian Nergal

As the god of the Underworld and the god of war, Nergal's activities were closely watched by the Babylonian priests. Features such as colour changes, brightness and of course conjunctions with other planets were meticulously monitored. But when the Babylonian priests wrote of Mars forming a conjunction, there was always an element of doubt or a direct statement that Mars will not actually make the conjunction.  

These are words concerning Akkad. [the kingdom]
Mars remained four fingers distant from Sat-
urn, it did not come close. It did not reach it

In our astrology, Mars will always reach Saturn. There is no question about if the planets will form a conjunction and not even a question about when the planet will form a conjunction. Indeed there is a Saturn-Mars conjunction this year on 19 June, 2006. So what does this priest mean when he says, that Nergal will not reach Saturn?

The Visual Behaviour of the Planets  - different information

If you watch the sky over the next month, you will see that in the early evening light Mars is in the western sky with Saturn a little higher in the heavens. At the moment there is still - visually - a good distance between the two planets but this night sky would have been alarming to the Babylonian sky watching priest. Such a forthcoming conjunction would normally indicate the death of the King.

Now if you are watching the sky regularly, you will notice that, over the next few months, Nergal/Mars will
be located lower and lower in the western sky
at sunset. He is descending to the Underworld. This descent is part of a broader rhythm. When Nergal disappears by setting with the setting sun, he can be absent for many months because Mars can be travelling at the same speed as the sun and thus slow to get away from its light. However, if he sets with the rising sun, he is absent for just a few days before we begin to see him rising just after sunset. At the moment he is descending and he will slip from view by setting with the setting sun about June, July, 2006, (depending on your view of the horizon) and we will not get a clear sight of Mars again until May, June or July 2007, once again depending on your latitude. 

Consequently he will probably not be seen to reach the conjunction with Saturn, as by the time the  conjunction occurs, the two planets will be so low on the western horizon at sunset that, for most of us, they will have disappeared. When this occurred, the Babylon priest considered there was no threat to the king. I am not too sure if I agree with the Babylonians on this point. However, once we start to observe the visual behaviour of Mars, something quite interesting unfolds.  Mars, or rather Nergal, since we are working with the planet's visual behaviour, is actually now in the process of descending into the Underworld to join his lover, Ereshkigal, and in this instance it is going to be a particularly long visit.  

Nergal’s Mesopotamian Mythology

Ereshkigal is the elder sister of Inanna and she represents the dark, chaotic side of the feminine. As an intense and passionate lover, she demands Nergal’s sexual attention and he delights in returning her passion. In the great myth of their meeting  - the earliest records date from the fifteenth or fourteenth century B.C.E.  - Nergal visits Ereshkigal in the Underworld and although he is told to resist her and eat no food and drink no wine, she seduces him and they spend six passionate days together. Nergal then tells Ereshkigal that he must climb through the gates of the Anu, Ellil and Ea and return to the heavens. (The gates of which Nergal speaks are the names of the three pathways where the horizon cuts the sky. They are north of the ecliptic, the zone of the ecliptic and south of the ecliptic respectively.)  

Nergal came up along the long stairway of heaven.
When he arrived at the gate of Anu, Ellil, and Ea,
Anu, Ellil, and Ea saw him and said,
"The son of Ishtar has come back to us,
She (Ereshkigal) will search for him and .
Ea his father must sprinkle him with spring water, and bareheaded,
Blinking and cringing let him sit in the assembly of the gods.

So Nergal is seen to rise in the predawn light. The gods rejoice at his arrival into the night sky and seek to disguise him as a simple man amongst the other gods to hide him from Ereshkigal. But she goes wild with sexual frustration yelling out:

Erre (Nergal), the lover of my delight-
I did not have enough delight with him before he left!
Erra, the love of my delight-
I did not have enough delight with him before he left.

She then threatens the gods of heavens in her anger and says… 

According to the rites of Erkalla and the great Earth
I shall raise up the dead, and they will eat the living.
I shall make the dead outnumber the living!

Above - this image is known as the "Queen of the Night"
and is believed to be of Ereshkigal

The myth then talks of how Nergal begins his slow descent once again into the Underworld but this time he has to kill seven gate keepers,

Nergal went down the long stairway of heaven.
When he arrived at the gate of Ereshkigal he said,
"Gatekeeper, open !"

 … and after passing through seven gates he…

He entered her wide courtyard,
And went up to her and laughed.
He seized her by her hairdo,
And pulled her from the throne.
He seized her by her tresses
The two embraced each other
And went passionately to bed [2]

There are, as you have probably already noticed, striking similarities with the Greek myth of Kore (Persephone). She is kidnapped and raped by Hades (Pluto), the god of the Underworldd. Her mother, Demeter, protests and causes life to come to a standstill. This action forces Hades to return Kore to the world. But Hades tricks her into eating six pomegranate seeds, thereby insuring that she will always return to him. These parallels are so strong that one senses that the Greek myth is a male rewrite of the older Mesopotamian story of Nergal and Ereshkigal.

Nergal - a different Mars 

There are several points to consider in this Mesopotamian view of Mars. In this myth, Nergal descends into the Underworld in the same manner as we think of Kore/Ishtar/Inana (Venus) in her descent. However, unlike the Greek myths, Nergal’s story is not one of rape and kidnap but of mutual love and a deep, intense, sexual passion. The relationship between Nergal and Ereshkigal becomes monogamous and unlike Hercules and Mars, his Greek/Roman counter-parts, Nergal never takes another lover. The myth ends with the two rulers of the Underworld living happily ever after.

So when Nergal is in the heavens, he is shown in the myth to be milder, calmer, fitting in with the other gods. When he is absent and in the Underworld, he is violent (the gate keepers are killed) as well as highly-focused, motivated and extremely aroused and passionate. So we see that Nergal has two sides and that these sides may be indicated  by Nergal's relationship to the sun.

Think about your own chart. Is your natal Nergal (Mars) in the Underworld with his lover or is he in the heavens with the gods? If you are born with a Sun-Mars conjunction with either the Sun approaching the Mars by only about 8 degrees or separating from the Mars by about 20 degrees (roughly), then your Mars is in the Underworld regardless of the zodiac signs involved. One would think that such a Mars would have a strong level of intensity in its actions, so I scanned a few files using Jigsaw to find charts with this Sun-Mars relationship and found the following list of people :

John Lennon (Sun 16 Libra, Mars 2 Virgo),
John Wilkes Booth (the man who assassinated Lincoln – Sun 19 Taurus, Mars 3 Taurus),
Sir Edmund Hillary (famous mountain who was the first to climb Mt Everest – Sun 25 Cancer, Mars 7 Cancer),
Vincent van Gogh (the Dutch painter – Sun 9 Aries, Mars 26 Pisces),
V.I.Lenin (Founder of the Russian communist movement. Sun 1 Taurus, Mars 22 Aries),
John F. Kennedy (Sun 7 Gemini, Mars 18 Taurus)
and finally...
Jimi Hendrix (Considered by many to be the greatest rock guitarist of all time, Sun 4 Sagittarius, Mars 17 Scorpio).  

We will return to Nergal frequently in this newsletter, particular when he begins to re-climb the stairs back to the heavens early next year. I think that this ancient version of Mars, with his periods in the Underworld, his love, his passion and his equal relationship with his queen, Ereshkigal, is a more complete model of human love, sex and relationships than the rape of Persephone where the six days and nights of sexual passion are traded-in for six pomegranate seeds. I think that we have things to learn about Mars and his role in our modern charts from this Mesopotamian view of Nergal.

 [1]  Hunger, Herman. (1992). Astrological Reports to Assyrian Kings. Helsinki, Finland: Helsinki University Press. pg. 49
[2]  Dalley, Stephanie. (2000). Myths from Mesopotamia. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press





 A Man, A Vision and the Edge of History
 Ehud Olmert
Israel’s new  Prime Minister

By Darrelyn Gunzburg 

Ehud Olmert was born in Nahalat Jabotinsky, near Binyamina, in the British Mandate of Palestine (today’s State of Israel) on 30th September, 1945.[i]  He was elected as Israel's Prime Minster on 28th March, 2006

As far as I can ascertain, we do not yet have a birth time for Olmert so, working with a noon chart, we can see he has a tightly-conjunct natal Mercury-Neptune-Sun-Jupiter stellium in Libra. This suggests a father figure who was either highly religious, idealistic or artistic, or a dreamer, an alcoholic or weakened in some way, (Sun-Neptune), who seeks or is a spiritual teacher (Jupiter-Neptune), who may be confused in his thinking or be an inspired, intuitive communicator (Mercury-Neptune) and is either able to see both sides of a situation and thus to negotiate with diplomacy or else unable to make clear decisions and so falls into confusion (Sun in Libra). Since this stellium is also at the Bendings (square the nodal axis), these aspects are further highlighted and stressed in Olmert’s chart.

Olmert and a Royal Star

When we consider the fixed stars that sit underneath this stellium, we see that the Sun and Mercury are both connected with Fomalhaut in his developing years. To the Persians, Fomalhaut was the bitter-sweet madness of the poetic mind challenged to remain in the physical world, the child stolen by the fairies who must reject the captivating non-life and return to the mortal world of life and death, painfully remembering the life of sublime perfection it has to leave. Fomalhaut offers a person success and as with any of the Royal Stars, there is a nemesis. To have Fomalhaut connected with your chart indicates that recognition will be forthcoming but your motives must be clear and honest. As long as you can avoid manipulating events for your own personal glorification, then success is yours. If you allow your own acclaim to become the main driving force, then all your dreams turn to dust.[ii]

In working with parans Starlight does not need a birth time to examine the fixed stars in a chart. The resulting paran printout produced by Starlight will divide a life into three sections: stars of one’s youth, stars of one’s prime and stars of one’s latter years. If life can extend anywhere from between 70-90 years, then we could say that the first third of life may contain all that occurs up to the first Saturn return, the second third up to the second Saturn return and the final third the years thereafter. So for Olmert, the fact that Fomalhaut is connected with his Sun and his Mercury in youth adds recognition and acclaim to his pathway but initially projected onto his father figure. 

Starlight says of Olmert’s Fomalhaut that it is rising as it forms a paran to his natal Sun
The artist, the idealist, the charismatic one who is vulnerable to hubris

Thus Olmert would have seen his father as someone with tremendous magnetism who shaped and focused his early ideals (Fomalhaut) and honed his own identity (the Sun).


When Olmert was born, the Second World War had just ended. Olmert’s father, Mordechai Olmert, was an ultranationalist politician and a member of the Revisionist movement whose goals were to put pressure on Great Britain for Jewish statehood. Following in his father’s politically active footsteps, Olmert joined Betar, a secular Jewish and Zionist youth movement.

Starlight says of Olmert’s Fomalhaut rising with his Mercury
To have an idealistic vision, or to deceive

As with all Israeli youth, Olmert served time in the Israeli Defense Force as combat infantry unit officer. However, we see an early expression of Fomalhaut in paran with his Mercury when he took on a position of military correspondent for the IDF journal “Bamachane”. Taking this ability with words, communication and idealistic vision further, Olmert  went on to become a lawyer by profession, holding B.A. and LL.B. degrees in Psychology, Philosophy and Law from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. By the time he was twenty-eight he had won a seat in the Knesset (the Israelii parliament) and was offering further expression for his lofty visions by serving on various political committees.

But parans also “mature”.
Olmert does not lose the parans of his youth. He builds on them in the years of his prime, not only through life experience but through any other fixed stars connected with them. In Olmert’s case, the charismatic, idealistic Sun and Mercury of his youth are allowed to ripen by being connected with two other fixed stars. This is not always the case – there may have been no further fixed stars connected with his Sun and Mercury - but for Olmert it is so. Thus the Sun-Fomalhaut of this youth gains Alhena in his prime:

Alhena as the Sun is Rising
                   A leader with a mission, a person who is identified with a cause

Alhena, the Proudly Marching One, is the star in the left foot of Pollux. Brady, writing in Starlight, tells us that:

“to have Alhena in your chart is to have a cause to follow, a belief for which you will 'march'. This marching may hurt you at times but the difficulties that it causes you will be considered small in return for the goals you are trying to achieve.”

Since the creation of Israel in 1948, the country has been governed either by Labour (left wing) or Likud (right-wing) parties. This current Kadima (centrist) victory is historic.[iii] particularly given that Olmert was essentially a “blue blood of the right”[iv] in upbringing. But within a few short years of being a close ally of Ariel Sharon he had moved his ideas to the middle.


For Olmert, these elections have taken the idealistic vision of his early years (Sun-Fomalhaut) and linked them with absolute certainty to Israel’s identity – that of a leader with a mission identified with a cause (Sun-Alhena) in the years of his prime.

Ankaa as Mercury is On Nadir
An inventor, engineer, or one who brings order and structure

Ankaa is The Bright One in the Boat which, according to Brady, carries a sense of transformation or transcendence. In Olmert’s case it is in the area of his Mercury, his thinking, his communication, his ability to broker deals and to sway people to his point of view that he can truly change or alter Israel’s circumstances, not through force and action, but via insights that transcend.

Again the idealistic vision of his early years in politics (Fomalhaut-Mercury) are being given an opportunity to provide a peaceful solution for Israel (Ankaa -Mercury) in the years of his prime.

In conclusion

The nemesis of Fomalhaut is that one could be being lost in the world of idealism and fanaticism. Yet Olmert has not done this.

As Nicola Assetta in Cafebabel.com (France) on 30th March 2006 wrote:

He has done it; Ehud Olmert cast aside his grey bureaucrat's suit and became a statesman recognised by the people… His winning weapon has been pragmatism. A pragmatism that has lead him to difficult choices in a country whose politics have mainly been inspired by ideologies and dogmas.

As well, with a natal Mercury-Neptune-Sun-Jupiter stellium in Libra, Olmert has the gift of steadiness, seeing both sides of an argument and taking a middle course. He has already proved he is on this pathway. Olmert was once a lifetime advocate of keeping all the land Israel conquered in the 1967 Six-Day War and his idealist Fomalhaut-fed Sun and Mercury supported settlement in the occupied territory. However, in 2003, Olmert recognized that Arabs would eventually outnumber Jews and turn Israel into a bi-national state if they continued to maintain the combined territory (Israel, Gaza and the West Bank), that the only way forward in order to remain a Jewish state was to pull back.

The fate of the Middle East has been placed upon Olmert’s shoulders. He is now the leader with a mission, the person identified with a cause (Alhena-Sun) but it rests on his ability to as the engineer, or one who brings order and structure (Mercury with Ankaa) to communicate and implement his plans. The fixed stars connected with his natal chart all suggest this will happen.  

[i] Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; News reports (January 2006) and http://www.jafi.org.il/education/100/people/BIOS/olmert.html - accessed 2nd April 2006.

[ii]  Brady, Bernadette. (1999). Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars, Samuel Weiser Inc: York Beach, Maine.

      Fixed Star by Starlight Software. © Barnswood Ltd and Bernadette Brady.

[iii] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4855154.stm - accessed 2nd April 2006.

[iv] http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-opgor314682183mar31,0,1810806.story?coll=ny-viewpoints-headlines – accessed 2nd April 2006.



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