|Imagine you are…
Classical Lady by John William Godward
OK, we are back in Rome, sometime in the 2nd century AD. It’s autumn, the grape harvest is in. We’ve all been celebrating in perhaps too Dionysian a fashion.
Imagine that you are a togaed Roman with time and money on your hands. How would you while away those moonlit hours between eating dormice and having your skin oiled?
As a double Libra (Moon and Sun) you are prone to weaving tangled webs of relationships. Your lover is poor but gorgeous, your spouse is rich but repulsive. This has all worked well for years, but now your spouse has a new darling and you feel jealous.
One evening, you climb the stairs to the rooftop where I practice my craft. Me? I’m an astrologer.
I look at you chart and my advice to you is simple – go to the temple of Vulcan, the smith god, and make an offering. You leave – rather miffed if the truth be told. Oh, and one more thing, I say, as you stand on the top step, think about the tale of Vulcan’s net.
Now why would a Roman astrologer tell you to go to the cuckold god for help about a marriage?
Well, it would have been a textbook case.
I’ve written about tutelary deities before. These are the gods who act as wise counsellors to each sign of the Zodiac, according to the Roman poem Astronomica. They fell completely out of use in the Christian Era, but I think these archetypes can teach us something useful about how to work with the energies of the signs. Libra is a very good case in point.
|Photo by Tobias R, Metoc|
As anyone who has had the pleasure of spending some time with Libra knows, the sign of the scales has certain wonderful qualities – an instinct for beauty, an ability to make any room lovely, a natural desire to charm, a sense of fair play. And some flaws too – lack of depth, an ability to choose a rotter, applying reason to emotional problems and emotion to reason.
This is where Vulcan might come in. Tutelary deities (I think) sometimes help us to balance out a sign’s energies. They point to a way of dealing with a sign which may not be obvious.
As you know, Libra is ruled by Venus, the goddess of love and wife of the crippled smith god Vulcan. Venus was a faithless wife. She regularly copped off with various mortals, immortals and a whole gamut of in-betweeners.
Her affair with the god of war, Mars, was a long-standing off-again-on-again thing, which caused poor Vulcan no end of hurt and shame, not least because they used his bed.
Being a craftsman, Vulcan could make almost anything. So he forged a net and caught Mars and Venus in the act. All the Olympians came and laughed and mocked the pair and agreed to pay Vulcan damages. Although he is physically weak, he has outwitted the strongest of the gods, Mars. Vulcan gets revenge but at what cost?
Craft and guile and patience. The first lesson is: you may not get the girl (or the guy) to love you, but you can make them pay for hurting you. This sounds like alimony. Courts are ruled by Libra, of course.
I don’t think that’s a very fruitful outcome though, do you? Vulcan is still going to feel bitter.
Here’s the second and better lesson: you can create something useful and beautiful from your experience. Vulcan’t net is a masterpiece of art and craftsmanship. And here’s a thought, Venus may shag Mars, but she (beauty) is married to Vulcan (craft).
And here is a question: do we learn anything about marriage from Vulcan? He is, after all, the tutelary deity of the sign of marriage, Libra.
He might well tell a typical lovely Libra (usually so eager to tie the knot) to learn from his experience and be careful before signing any contract. You may humiliate your rivals but you will still be stuck in a loveless marriage.