A skyscape and a
man: the Snake, the Crab and the Bear.
An exploration of a part
of the sky which is focused on all issues to do with the life
of planet Earth. A sky story in the light of the recent death
of Thomas Berry, the founder of the deep ecology movement.
Facing Facies: Green Passion
or Red Devil? A look at Facies,
the nebula in the face of Sagittarius, and its involvement
within the charts of two environmentalists: Thomas Berry and
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A skyscape and a man:
the Snake, the Crab and a Bear
Bernadette Brady MA
Between the regal head of
Leo the lion and the busy and bright twins of Gemini lies the
dimmest of the zodiac constellations, Cancer. Lucida,
Cancer's brightest star, is only at the 4th magnitude and it takes
a keen eye on a dark clear night to see this celestial crab
moving across the heavens.
Dim it may be but it marked the summer solstice from around
2000 B.C.E. – 1000 B.C.E. which is more than likely the reason
for its identification and membership of the zodiac. For
the Egyptians it was the Scarabaeus, the sacred beetle
that was linked with immortality, whereas for the Greek astronomer
Eratosthenes (276 – 195 B.C.E.) it was the Crab and contained
two asterisms, the Asses and the Crib. This Crib, lying near
the head of the crab and between the two asses, is a nebula
which was named Praesepe meaning in Latin “the manger”.
The two asses were supposedly placed into the constellation on each side of the manger
by Zeus as a reward for aiding
him in the battle at Phlegra, the mythic location where Zeus
overcame the giants to claim rulership of the world.
time of Christian Europe, however, the Crab with its manger and two
donkeys had morphed into the Christian nativity scene.
Nowadays the twinkling nebula in Cancer is known
as the Beehive, still flanked by the two
donkeys, Asellus Borealis (the northern donkey) and
Asellus Australis (the southern donkey). Thus since
its earliest records this constellation has been linked with life, the protection of it,
sacredness of it. Indeed according to Allen , within
Platonist philosophy it was the supposed Gate of Men
through which one’s soul descended from the heavens to
incarnate into the sub-lunar realm of the physical body.
constellation Cancer with the Beehive and Two Donkeys
Earth, Life and Us, a skyscape
But there is a larger story around this celestial life-giving
crab. Its location in the heavens is on that part of the
ecliptic which passes between the great bear, Ursa Major to
the north and the Hydra in the south (see figure below). Ursa
Major is the constellation linked with the rhythm of the Earth's
greening, the seasonal part of life on the planet. In
the summer months she (assigning it a feminine role due to the
constellation's mythology) can be seen moving along the horizon as
the earth's diurnal moment carries her forward in her evening
stroll, whereas in winter in the evenings, she is seen high in
the sky on her back, hibernating. Ursa Major is symbolic of
the rhythm of seasons and of life on Earth. On the other side
of the ecliptic is The Hydra, the great snake associated with the vitality
of life and a species' immortality through countless generations.
this part of the sky is rich with the symbolism of life:
the great seasonal rhythm as embraced by Ursa Major, and
the universal concepts of the renewal of life
symbolized by the Hydra.
Both of these
constellations "look" at
each other through the zodiac constellation of Cancer.
terms of sky-stories, here are two expressions of life's
energy (Earth and Life) linked across the ecliptic by the
This is a place where the rich symbols of the earth’s seasons (the
Great Bear) and the renewal of life on planet earth (The
Hydra) meet and merge with the human desire for children
and one’s own immortality through one’s family (Cancer). So
embraces all of life: the Earth, the different species, and the
tenacity of life to renew itself across the generations.
and The Great Work
attention was focused on this area of the sky as a result of
the death of Thomas Berry on 1st June. Berry was a priest,
scholar and author. Many people may not recognize his name
but he is/was the inspiration behind the deep ecological
movement fuelled by his book, The Great Work. In
this work he talked of the great works of humanity of the past.
According to Berry, the Great Work of classical Greece was
their ability to
give an understanding of the human mind and the creation of
the Western humanist tradition; the Great Work in India
was their ability to lead human thought into spiritual experiences of time
and eternity; and the Great Work of classical Rome was their
ability to gather the people of the Mediterranean world and of
Western Europe into an ordered relationship with one another.
Berry believed that another
was incumbent upon humanity, the work before us now,
which is to learn how to live in harmony on this small
green planet. 
in the natural cycles
of its transformation
or negates it
is not good.”
Thomas Berry (1914 - 2009)
Born 9th November, 1914, in
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, Berry’s own life was transformed at
11 years of age when he strolled into a meadow with white
flowers one afternoon on a day in late May. He talked of
how this meadow, complete with trees, flowers, clouds,
sunlight and the noises of life, kept returning to him throughout his life,
causing him to develop a personal philosophy of: “Whatever
preserves and enhances this meadow in the natural cycles of
its transformation is good; whatever opposes this meadow or
negates it is not good.” .
Berry saw the Universe
as the concept of story both emerging and creating. In this light, then, it
is in keeping to look at his personal sky story to see what
the starry sky had to say about a man who saw the very
nature of story as the key to life itself.
for his birth on 9th November 1914 contains many
interesting comments: the retrograde Venus in the stars of
the Scorpion reveals his opposing attitude to society, and
the Sun moving between the Symplegades in the
constellation Libra indicates his ability to pose the
hard questions about the environment. Yet
apart from these personal statements there was also his
Moon and Neptune in Leo moving through the stars of Cancer.
sky map (birth time unknown). The Sun moving
through the Symplegades and Venus deeply off the
ecliptic making a retrograde loop near Antares.
born, or as Berry would probably say, he was created by
the Universe at a time when Neptune
was moving through this life-filled area of the sky, a type of celestial
shaped patch of sky, centred on the stars of Cancer, is the
place where these three faces of life on Earth meet,
coming together to form one story – life as a universal
concept, life for the Earth, and life for the individual
species, a family.
Neptune began to move into the stars
of Cancer in 1914 and took roughly 6 to 7 years to
complete its journey. The shadow
side of Neptune's journey through this celestial Eden was the
emergence of chemical warfare in WWI with all of its
environmental dangers, but this was also the generation
whose work has caused us to see the environment as an
entity in our lives.
Sky Map for
Thomas Berry (9 Nov. 1914)
showing his Moon Neptune in the stars of Cancer.
Berry was born with his Moon-Neptune in this area and so was James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia hypotheses.
born on 26 July, 1919, in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, England
(time unknown) when the Moon, Sun, Jupiter and Neptune
were all crowded into the tiny Crab. For Lovelock, planet
Earth with all its living and non-living parts, forms a single
organism, self-regulating and self-maintaining for all life,
in a state of homeostasis. This is the Gaia hypothesis. For Berry it
was the Universe that was the single living entity. Both men
were born as Neptune moved through this life-rich skyscape.
After the birth of this generation the next outer planet to
move into this celestial Eden was Pluto in the mid-1940s. We
now know that the atomic attacks on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were more than an
assault on the Japanese people. They were an assault on life
As the planets move through
the stars of Cancer in their inevitable cycles we can gain
personal sky stories which reveal our individual approach and
attitude towards life on planet Earth. We may be a long way away
from our ability to achieve Berry's idea of The Great Work,
but if you have
planets between 10 and 150 of Leo, stop
and think about your position on the environment and nature,
and how those planets contribute to its expression. Is your connection
generational or personal? Do you support, disagree with, or are you
apathetic to the idea of the world as a living entity?
These planet(s) will contribute to your thinking
about environmental issues and indicate the actions you take
and your attitude towards
our little blue planet.
 Allen, Richard Hinckley. (1963). Star
Names Their Lore and Meaning. New York: Dover Publications,
Inc. pg. 107.
 Berry, Thomas. (1999). The Great Work, Our Way into the
Future. New York: Three Rivers Press. pg1.
Berry 1999: pg. 17.
Facing Facies: Green Passion
or Red Devil?
Facies, is the concept of
ruthlessness, the nebula
in the face of Sagittarius, The Archer
contains many constellation narratives that offer us an
understanding of what it is to be human and when our
planets, particularly outer planets, connect with a part
of a constellation, we gain an insight into that
expression at the human level.
The Archer of old was the valued killing machine who could
destroy from afar, rather than in the “noble” confines of face
to face combat. So the wild and ferocious Archer was deeply
feared, and his accurate stare was what gave him his power.
This stare is the essence of Facies and it sums
up the narrative of what it is to fight. However the essence
of the narrative of Facies is absolute focus on a goal, and if
that is a person, then it can contain cruelty and violence,
making either a great leader or a feared
dictator, or one who is the focus of and hence victim of the
archer's stare. However, if it is ploughed into an issue or a
project, this strongly focused driven energy can help a person
achieve their ends.
Two examples of people
who contain Facies with an outer planet are Thomas Berry and
James Lovelock. Both men stride at the boundaries of how we
understand life, symbolizing the macro and micro of the same
coin, Berry concerned with the entire universe that throbs and
pulses as one living organism and Lovelock with the complex
interacting system of the living and non-living parts of the
earth as a single organism.
Thomas Berry has
when Facies was setting:
To be a catalyst for change.
A person who focuses intensely on their goals.
To be at the right place at the right time.
The end of one era and the beginning of another.
Berry was born with a partile
(exact) Saturn-Pluto conjunction at 10 of Cancer. Born
four months into the start of World War I, this explosive
combination natally implies a great sensitivity to the
violence in the community, and the necessity to harness its
ferocity through hard work in a productively-intense
environment. To have Facies sitting underneath his Pluto
simply underlines the concentrated and passionate energy that
was available to him. Berry recognized early in his life, even
if he did not then understand it, the place that would teach
him where this passion could be placed – the meadow – and he
learned to fight for what he called “a
enhancing human-Earth relationship”  describing the
necessity for “the transformation of humanity’s priorities”,
words that sum up Facies in paran with Pluto and Berry’s role
as a catalyst for change.
James Lovelock has Uranus culminating when Facies is Setting
To become outraged at injustices.
To seek to understand or instigate
change on one’s culture or society.
Lovelock was born with Uranus at the bendings (square to the
nodal axis). When a planet is found in this position in a
chart it highlights that planet in some way and even suggest
it may become part of what that person takes on board as their
career or vocation. For Lovelock this suggests he may be
involved with something that is at the cutting edge of new
technologies or it may place him in a maverick position as a
touchstone for the common person. With Facies sitting
underneath his Uranus, this passionate intensity can be
focused through an intellectual lens.
(1919 - )
Lovelock has been a
lifelong inventor but
his Gaia hypothesis was first formulated during the 1960s as a
result of his work for NASA regarding detecting life on
recognition of the absence of life on one planet allowed him
to better appreciate life on another (our own), to become
outraged (Facies-Uranus) at its abuse and to instigate changes
to stop this.
men both contain a difficult star (Facies) in paran with an
outer planet in their charts. Yet the actions of their lives
have shown how they have been able to harness that energy and
focus its passion to make changes. So have a look and see if
you have Facies making a paran to a planet in your chart and
ask yourself how you are expressing that passion in your life,
whether it is a devil with which you dance as a victim in some
way or a passion that greens your life with abundance.
Brady, Bernadette (2007)
Star and Planet Combinations.
Bournemouth: The Wessex Astrologer, p.168.
Described in a 2006 interview with the filmmaker Caroline Webb:
– accessed 12th June 2009.
Brady, Bernadette (2007)
Star and Planet
Bournemouth: The Wessex Astrologer, p.168.
Lovelock, J.E. (1965). "A physical basis for life detection
Nature 207 (7): 568–570.