Bernadette Brady
April 2005

Antares is the heart of the Scorpion and is generally accepted as one of the Royal Stars of Persia: the Watcher of the West, the guardian of the doors to the underworld, or the one that leads you into the unknown and feared depths of your soul. Antares is not evil – no star is evil. But then nor is the devil. Rather these concepts in our culture represent disorder, emotional upheaval and changes, often through the vehicle of control-addiction and the resulting intense drama. In this way Antares is also similar to the sirens of mythology, those mythical female winged beasts which are symbols of mental obsession[1], when an idea or problem seizes the mind in an iron grip of endless processing which implodes one deeper into the shaky and at times ephemeral foundations of one’s own sanity.  

The bright red star Antares is one of the carriers of these concepts in western culture. But few astrologers appreciate that there is a dance every nineteen years which involves the Moon and Antares, a time when the Moon and all she represents in our astrology steps in and embraces the extreme, the excessive, the obsessed, and the chaotic. This dance is intermittent but lasts for nearly five years.  

Such a dance has just began. From January the Moon has and will continue to occult Antares until early 2010 [2].  Over the next four to five years, when the Moon is in the tropical zodiac sign of Sagittarius, the Moon will at times blot out the view of Antares from the night sky. Exactly when you will see this will depend on your location, as well as the exact position of the Moon in the night sky[3]. The visual effect is that the bright red star Antares creeps towards the Moon and then suddenly disappears behind her, re-appearing about one hour later. Because the Moon has no atmosphere to blur the view, the whole event appears as if the star is switched off and then switched on. There is no gradual fade in and out. But the key point here is that the star appears to catch the Moon as, due to its own orbit around the earth, the Moon appears to move more slowly across the night sky than the stars.  So the Moon does not blot out the star but rather the star catches the Moon and penetrates her, impregnating her with the seeds of its mythology. The Moon becomes filled with its message and, according to Plato in the Timaeus, this message is then transferred to the earth through its lunar phases. The following image is the occultation for 26th April, 2005

We know from other fixed star work that the stars do not change the meaning of planets or horoscopic delineation but rather they allow the astrologer to delineate a planetary pattern and its unfolding symbolism in a more focused manner. In studying the times of the occultation of Antares by the Moon, it would seem that these are moments when a doorway is opened to us, a doorway that leads to the deeper, more chaotic but highly creative part of our own soul.

This is best explained by considering the following people born at the time of an occultation and letting their own words give us insights into this unique mating of Moon and star. As you think about these people, remember that they all have their natal Moon in Sagittarius.

Victor Hugo (French Author),born on 26th February 1802. (There was an occultation on the 25th February.)

In Hugo’s own words:

An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.

Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.

Have no fear of robbers or murderers. They are external dangers, petty dangers. We  should fear ourselves. Prejudices are the real robbers; vices the real murders. The great dangers are within us. Why worry about what threatens our heads or purses? Let us think instead of what threatens our souls.

Such words show Hugo’s awareness of the turmoil within humanity

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Russian novelist), born 30 October, 1821, two days after an occultation which occurred 28th October.

In Dostoyevsky’s own words:

Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.

 The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.

There are things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a  number of such things stored away in his mind.

Like Hugo, Dostoyevsky also shows the awareness of an inner turmoil.

Odin Redon (Artist) born 20th April, 1840 on the same day as an occultation.

In Redon’s own words:

While I recognize the necessity for a basis of observed reality… true art lies in a reality that is felt.

Here we have an artist stressing the passion and feelings of his art.

Albert Einstein (physicist), born 14th March, 1879, the day after an occultation on 13th March.

In Einstein’s own words:

After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in aesthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.

Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.

Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for insects as well as for the stars. Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance.

Here we see Einstein’s scientific mind grappling with the unknowable, chaotic or the “whirlpool” of the soul.

And just as these people opened doorway to this whirlpool so that we can peer into a darker, more primal, creative, chaotic, emotional world through writing, art or science, the following events which occurred on occultations also give us more clues:

Ludwig van Beethoven: premier of his 1st Symphony (in C) 12th April 1800 and his 2nd Symphony (in D)  5th April 1803. Indeed large numbers of Beethoven’s premier performances were within days of occultations between the Moon and Antares.

Handel first performed the Messiah on 25th December 1818, the day of an occultation, and Silent Night composed by Franz Joseph Gruber, was sung for the first time.

Saint Bernadette saw her first vision of the Virgin Mary (11th February, 1858) only days after an occultation.

19th March, 1859, the Opera Faust by Charles Gounod premiered in Paris. This is the famous opera that has come to symbolise the dance with the devil. The occultation occurred on 24th March.

24th November 1859, the day before an occultation – Charles Darwin published his work On the Origin of the Species.

1st August 1914, on the day of an occultation – the commencement of WWI. This was a dance with the chaotic, begun in 1912 with the beginning of the 1st Balkans War which officially commenced four days after an occultation on 14th October, 1912, and lasted only 12 months after the occult series was completed in 1917.

Wary of the pitfalls of generalisation, we can, however, with these few examples of mundane events or artistic/scientific works which were made public at the time of occultation, see how they have acted as doorways into other worlds and different ways of understanding ourselves. Astrologically we know that fixed stars blend with a planet’s symbolism but it may well be that an occultation is not a blending but a portal, offering a gateway, a doorway or, to use Einstein’s’ word, a whirlpool. This is the case with WWI which seemed to suck humanity into a chaotic state while, in the case of artistic works, it seems to provide not so much a whirlpool but a safer pathway into exploring or becoming aware of this creative, rich, chaotic and disturbing world symbolised by Antares.

This is one more point to add. On 14th March, 1800, a pope was crowned. This was Pope Pius VII. This event occurred just two days before an occultation on 16th March. The crowning of a new pope is not a common event in our world of disposable leaders, so it is worth noting that, once again, another pope is going to be crowned around an occultation of Antares. Pope Pius VII took on the might of Napoleon, resulting in his imprisonment and later being exiled. He was only restored to the Vatican after the defeat of Napoleon. His papacy is considered a watershed period, for he was able to adapt the church to the political, intellectual and social conditions of the modern world. Could it be that this new pope, who will also be crowned around the time of an occultation, will endeavour to undertake steps to bring the papacy into the post-modern world?  Or maybe another exiled religious leader, the Dalai Lama, may gain some significant advancements for the plight of the Tibetan people?

A short post script:

The Moon can also occult a planet and probably the most notable occultation of recent history occurred on 10th September, 2001. This was the occultation of the planet Saturn by the Moon. Thus Saturn catches the Moon and, according to the hypothesis in this newsletter, it enables Saturn to seed her with its symbolism and its strengths and thus it intensifies the Saturn. Additionally this occultation was only visible over North America. The day before the 9/11 attack on the USA, at the time of the Saturn- Pluto opposition, Saturn was being emphasised by its lunar occultation. By adding the concept of occultation to this mixture, we may well gain a rationale for the extreme expression of its symbolism.

[1] My thanks to Liz Greene for this concept.

[2]  The Moon can occult five bright stars – El Nath, Aldebaran, Spica, Antares and Regulus. It is only the two red stars of Antares (the red star which is the Heart of the Scorpion) and Aldebaran (the red star which is the eye of the bull of Taurus) located roughly opposite each other on the belt of the zodiac which receive occultations by the Moon at a regular interval of 18 to 19 years.

[3] Antares is at a celestial latitude of 4S34, so the occultation requires that  the Moon is at the same celestial latitude at the time that it is passing through 8 – 10 degrees of Sagittarius, as well as making sure that the observer can actually see the Moon at this time. Additionally the question of the observed position of the Moon for a given location (known as parallax) must be considered. 

Useful Links   Free astronomical software to help to track occultations. The software is quiet technical and designed for astronomers but for those that are more technically-minded, you will find it most useful.  This is a cyber community of fixed star astrologers which is open to any person interested in fixed stars and their role in astrology.