A joint publication of: Astro Logos and Zyntara Publications



March 2005

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     Who Rides in the Fiery Boat of the Sun?  
     The Tale of Two Suns    

VAN Archive - www.Zyntara.com


This is a busy month for the sky. The story of the Moon, the prince and the king continues from last month but now we also have the brief appearance of Mercury, on the 11th and 12th March. This is followed by the spring (or Autumn if you are in the southern hemisphere) equinox and, finally, later in the lunar month, we have the eclipse of the dark moon on the 8th April.

The eclipse on 8th April is linked with old passions finally coming into the open (Brady,1992:317) and so it is no surprise that this is the wedding date set for Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, both of whom seem to be playing out the bright Jupiter and the gathering of Kings discussed last month.

But I would like to use this edition of the newsletter not for royal chatter but to talk about the forthcoming equinox and the different way in which visual astrology approaches the question of the great zodiacal ages.

Who rides in the Fiery Boat of the Sun?
Bernadette Brady

Astrologers who are engaged in the idea of astrological ages wait or look for the spring equinox to occur within the stars of Aquarius to herald the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. The different debates on this topic are generally concerned with the precise location of the beginning of the constellation of Aquarius, so it is interesting to revisit this question with an eye to the sky.

The Egyptians built their religion largely upon the visual phenomena of the starry sky and embedded the equinox into it. For them, the stars which were rising before the sun on the morning of the equinox were the stars which mixed their energy with that of Ra, the Sun god. These stars joined with Ra and rode the Fiery Boat of the Sun. The star's or constellation’s symbolism (or nature) was thought to be used by Ra as the vehicle in which he could express himself in that epoch (see Sellers,1992:33 and Lockyer, 1992).

However, with the decline of the Egyptian culture and the acceptance that the sky could be organised into twelve equal slices, there was a two-fold change in the perception of the equinox. The visual and philosophical elements were totally removed; and the stars which the Egyptians saw riding the Boat of the Sun, and thus becoming the vehicle or manifestation of Ra in their world, were ignored. This philosophy was replaced by focusing solely on the position of the sun and its actual location. No longer did the sun sit amongst the stars, nor was it connected with the stars rising before it. Instead the sun’s actual position became part of the mathematical twelve-fold division of the ecliptic. The sun now stood alone, free of the stars, free of their influence, riding its own boat alone in the sky.


Within this solar model, which is now the traditionally-accepted view, when the sun, at the equinox, moves into the Aquarius zone (300 of Aquarius) of the sky, the date is 2597 C.E.  The debate concerning this date is on the value of the slippage between the stars and the tropical zodiac. But we can add to this debate and question the very model itself, for I find that my deep instincts as an astrologer resists the idea that if there are great astrological ages, then they are neatly and evenly lined up like chocolates in a box. Life is never as simply as that. Life is more organic. The world does not change on cue and the sun does not rule alone.

So, if only for curiosity's sake, let us return to the original idea of the stars rising before the sun and recognise that it is these stars which link their symbolism with that of the solar entity of Ra. Let us reconstruct and look at some ancient skies and grapple with the problems of constellations which are not equal in size but instead overlap each other, and other many shades of grey when dealing with a visually-rich environment.   

To observe stars rising before the sun, logically the sun needs to be below the horizon in order for the stars to be seen. Once the sun moves to within 60 of the horizon, the sky becomes too light to see the stars. Therefore the following star maps have all been produced with the sun 80 below the horizon (Note: when the sun is between 120 and 60 of the horizon, it is in the period known as nautical twilight).

The following sky maps have been constructed in Starlight using a latitude of 400 North.

5000 B.C.E. - The Age of the Bull

At around 5000 B.C.E we have the following sky:


The sun is below the horizon about to reach 0 Aries (the intersection of the ecliptic and the equator which is not shown in this image) which is the equinox point. At this time the sun is actually amongst the stars of the constellation Gemini and we can see the constellation Taurus charging along above the horizon,  a position it occupied for about 2500 years. The Egyptians had various important cults of the bull, the most well-known being the Apis bull. In Mesopotamia in this era, the mythic figure of Gilgamesh slew a god-bull which may well be a myth based on the phenomenon of the bull of the sky being seen to slip lower and lower below the horizon from one equinox to the next.  However, it can be seen that in this epoch Taurus the bull is riding in the Boat of the Sun.


2000 B.C.E. - Pisces and a brief Aries

Three thousand years later, due to the movement of precession, we have a different image. Taurus has now slipped totally below the horizon and the stars rising before the equinox dawn are those Aries and the two fishes of Pisces.


This was the sky view of 2000 BCE. In the mathematical model this is known as the Age of Aries the ram. The constellation Aries is just visible above the horizon but it is being overpowered by the large constellation Pisces. The blood of the lamb, or ram, now takes over from the blood of the bull but the domination of Pisces is visually obvious. This could imply a short Aries epoch, maybe just long enough for monotheism (the Aries idea of only one true god) to take a firm hold on the expression of Ra.


 0001 C.E. - Pisces still rules

Moving another 2000 years later to the year 0001 C.E., we have yet again another sky view. In the thinking of the traditional mathematical system, this era is the dawning of the Age of Pisces. In the sky map we can see the constellation Pisces is still dominating the predawn sky with both fishes reaching up above the horizon. But instead of this being the dawn of an age of Pisces, the visual phenomenon indicates that the age had already been riding the Boat of the Sun for a possible 400 to 500 years, if not longer. 



Indeed in this model we could hypothesis that the Age of Pisces may be more closely related not to the birth of Christ (its traditional starting point) but rather to the era of Plato (427-347 B.C.E.) and Aristotle. These are two of the most inspirational and influential minds that humanity has produced, for it was they who laid the foundations for the development of religion, philosophy and science for the next 2000 years. Indeed Plato still shapes our thinking and our lives and could justifiably lay claim to be the herald of the age of Pisces. Or maybe it was the great blind poet, Homer  (c.7 - 8th century B.C.E.) whose works continue to occupy a central position in the self-definition of Western culture.

2000 CE - the Modern Era

Leaping another 2000 years onward and moving to our modern era, we have a different sky again.  Pisces has all but disappeared, yet as we can see, Aquarius has already begun to slip down below the horizon at the dawn of the equinox.  


Visually we are already deep into the Age of Aquarius which may have started in the 15th , 16th or 17th centuries which, interestingly enough, did produce a flowering of thought, now labelled in history as the beginning of the modern era. It gave rise to the Renaissance, saw the emergence of new political systems and heralded the birth of technology by putting an effective end to Aristotelian thinking in science. Encounters with the New World also occurred this era. So it is easy to suggest that this remarkable shift of thinking and awareness could have been symbolised by the constellation Aquarius riding in Boat of the Sun.  

The whole question of the astrological ages has many issues and many debates and it is not a question which will ever have a single answer. However, by looking at the sky and letting the stars have their voice, an alternative position, another point of view can be gained which deeply challenges the ideas of the easy or unquestioning acceptance of the mono-solar mathematical model.  

As we start to acknowledge the role of the whole sky in our astrology, then this is just one of the great cycles that we can revisit and explore by reconstructing ancient skies. There are others ... but they will need to wait for another newsletter!


So the next time you think about the Age of Aquarius, be aware that in the early morning predawn light at the spring equinox, it is the stars of Aquarius which are currently standing on the horizon. Aquarius has been there for the last four or five centuries, pouring forth his water into the world and riding in the Boat of the Sun.


I will leave you to ponder these points as we move towards this spring equinox.  

Brady, Bernadette (1999). Predictive Astrology, the Eagle and the Lark. Maine, USA: Weiser
Lockyer, Norman.(1992). The Dawn of Astronomy. Kila, MT: Kessinger.
Sellers, J.B.(1992). The Death of the Gods in Ancient Egypt. London: Penguin



A Tale of Two Suns
A Case Study - Darrelyn Gunzburg

On 27th February, 2005, at the 77th Academy Awards, Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in the movie “The Aviator”. No-one who sees Blanchett’s work can doubt her ability to forge believable, enjoyable and complex characters in the films she chooses. Whilst we do not have a timed birth for Blanchett (noon chart used above - see “Sun” Newspaper, Melbourne, Australia, 1969), one of the striking elements of their charts is that both women have their Suns in Taurus within 20 of each other.


Clearly the rest of their chart will be different but utilising the parans of Starlight, we can ask: how do the ancient star myths - the parans that sit underneath these two Suns – make these Taurus Suns distinct?





Hepburn has Alcyone in paran with her Sun from birth:
Starlight says of this star and planet combination -
The ruthless visionary, a passionate and arrogant person


This combination stays with her for her whole life and as she matures, so it matures. She does not pick up new parans to her Sun until the end of her life:


Hepburn has Zuben Eschamali in paran with her Sun as her life’s summation

Starlight says of this star and planet combination -

The ability to influence society through one’s work


Hepburn’s Sun in Taurus is in the 7th house conjunct the Moon (New Moon), trine Mars in Capricorn (exalted) and sextile Saturn. A compulsive relator, she seeks the security of the material world (Sun in Taurus) through a business partner or intimate relationship. This could have been someone who married young (Sun in the 7th) and was then afraid of stepping out of the security of that relationship (Sun in Taurus).


However, Hepburn’s Sun rules the 10th house and is connected to the Cross of Matter (square to the MC): as a result of her career (Sun ruling the 10th) Hepburn became highly effective at creating business opportunities for herself which required responsibility and authority (Sun sextile Saturn), practicality (earth trine between Sun and Mars) and the determination never to sit back on her laurels (exalted Mars) and take what she had achieved for granted.


When a star is rising with the Sun, the issue is firstly going to be contained by the person’s father figure. Hepburn was determined, vibrant and distinctive, the daughter of a doctor who treated venereal disease and who encouraged his children in all forms of physical strength and sport: golf, tennis, diving, swimming, wrestling, gymnastics, running, jumping, biking (Sun trine Mars). He didn't believe Hepburn’s acting career would last, so when she sent money home from her early successes in Hollywood, he invested it well so she would always have a nest egg (Sun in Taurus). The best support he gave her was his advice: "Paddle your own canoe."


Here we see the passion and what could be called the arrogance of independence of Alcyone. This had later repercussions when Hepburn entered the conservative, controlling world of male-dominated Hollywood. Alcyone’s “ruthless vision” and passion gave her a reputation for being outspoken and demanding and unlike many of her contemporaries, Hepburn never changed her name.


In her adult years Alcyone’s ruthlessness and passion steered her practical, relationship/ business-oriented Sun in Taurus to take a risk which paid off – an uncomfortable action for most Taurus Suns. In 1938 a major exhibitor's report labelled her "box-office poison" when a string of her movies failed to pull audiences. Enraged, Hepburn settled her contract with the studio and left Hollywood for the stage, vowing only to return on her own terms. She starred in the stage play The Philadelphia Story, written especially for her, and was a huge success. When MGM came to claim the movie rights, it was Hepburn who owned them. The head of the studio conceded defeat, gave in to her salary demands and hired her choice of leading men. To this day The Philadelphia Story is the screen's supreme comedy of manners and it reinstated Hepburn’s place as a leading lady in movies permanently. The passion and determination of Alcyone had won! Her new contract (Sun in the 7th house) even gave her script and director approval. From then on she continued to dominate in the cinema and won four Academy Awards. No other actor to date had more than two. Her first and last Oscars were 48 years apart. Here is the maturing Sun in paran with Alcyone developing, growing stronger and affecting her whole life.


Zuben Eschamali, the ability to influence society through one’s work,
is the star that enters the stage in
her later years.


Hepburn was one of the first movie stars to take control of her career while still working within the confines of the studio system. Her career spanning over fifty years in comedy, drama, adventure suffered its share of ups and downs but Hollywood learned never to write her off. In her seventies she was active in lead roles in great movies with classic leading men when most actresses had retired or were severely limited in their work options. As she grew older so she was able to influence society through the characters she played and she became one of the few working actresses allowed to show age on screen through great parts, not as adjuncts or accessories to leading men. 


In contrast, Blanchett’s Taurus Sun is in opposition to her Neptune


Blanchett’s Sun in Taurus opposition Neptune gives her the ability to merge with and take on the skin of her characters. It also offers her a lifelong struggle (the opposition) between the security of the material world (Sun in Taurus) and the need for emotional happiness through surrender to the enchantment of the non-material world (Sun-Neptune). Hence she will always be confronted with issues of faith, trust and honesty (Sun-Neptune) in her pursuit for the safety of the known world (Sun in Taurus). As long as she maintains her integrity and does not yield to the seduction of the physical world alone, she can be both creative and secure. Indeed Blanchett has been quoted as seeing her craft as "a process of accumulation and elimination" and that what drives her is not the money but the desire to experience new things through the characters she inhabits.





Blanchett has two stars pouring their ancient mythology into her Taurus Sun:


The Sun with Pollux active from birth:

Starlight says of this star and planet combination -

To be considered a researcher or inventor


Blanchett also has The Sun with Ankaa active from birth:

Starlight says of this star and planet combination -

The desire to alter and transform


Like Hepburn, this star rising with the Sun is projected onto her father figure. Blanchett’s father, a Texan advertising executive, died of a heart attack when she was ten. This is the symbolism of the Sun-Neptune being seen as the father-figure who makes money (Sun in Taurus) from working in the world of illusion (Sun-Neptune), as well as the lost or weakened father-figure (Sun-Neptune).


However, when we look at the parans sitting underneath this Taurus Sun, we start to understand how Blanchett sees her father and what he is reflecting back to her. Blanchett experiences him as the inventor (Pollux) and transformer (Ankaa), the magician, the one who researches ideas and transforms them into packets of illusion. She’s learnt a magical or shamanistic skill from her father, captured in her chart by not only her Sun-Neptune but emphasized by her Sun in paran to Pollux and Ankaa. Instead of advertising, she chooses acting.


Then in her Prime Blanchett has The Sun with Mirfak:

Starlight says of this star and planet combination -

The enthusiasm of the warrior


Blanchett’s Sun in Taurus could have stayed within the safety and security of the small theatrical world of Australia. However, as she matures, her Taurus Sun picks up new parans to Mirfak, the warrior, so her Taurus Sun also takes risks. It is in this current period of her life that she can push forward with her creativity, taking advantage of opportunities and setting up creative challenges for herself. She is also known for her charitable work on behalf of women's and children's causes, another interpretation of the Sun-Neptune (women’s issues) connected with Mirfak, the warrior.


So what lies ahead of her?


In her latter years Blanchett has two stars flooding her Taurus Sun with their ancient stories:


The Sun with Ras Algethi

Starlight says of this star and planet combination-

Seeking the natural order of life; balance in diet and life habits


The Sun with Alcyone

Starlight says of this star and planet combination -

The ruthless visionary, a passionate and arrogant person


This suggests that her work on behalf of women and children may well take a greater precedence alongside her acting later in her life as she strives to find a natural balance which will give her life greater fulfilment (Ras Algethi).


However, there is fascinating correlation to this tale. Two Suns, both alike in flavour, vastly different in how they have been expressed as a result of the parans which sit underneath them, come together through Alcyone, for what life offers Blanchett in her latter years (Alcyone, “The ruthless visionary, a passionate and arrogant person ”) is the same energy underpinning Hepburn‘s Sun in her youth. One could surmise that the gift Hepburn gives to Blanchett is not only her first Oscar but also a way of standing firm on issues which are important to her. Hepburn and Blanchett have more in common than just their Taurus Suns. They have the charisma and passion of Alcyone.


Hepburn, Katharine (1991) Me: Stories of My Life, London : Viking.

"THE SUN" Newspaper, Australia - Thursday, MAY 15th, 1969. BLANCHETT (Gambie) - To June and Bob a daughter (Catherine Elise) at James McPherson, May 14th. Both Well.



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