Fixed Star Lessons: Number Four
Fomalhaut and Sirius, Part One
So far we've looked at three of the four Royal Stars of the Persians, stars which were historically important because, during the early days of the first recorded civilizations, they were conjunct the Sun at the spring equinox (Aldeberan), summer solstice (Regulus), and autumn equinox (Antares). These stars are a bit easier for us to understand and to use, as they are also placed in the zodiacal constellations of, respectively, Taurus, Leo, and Scorpio.
As we'll soon discover, these three planets, being so close to the ecliptic, are easy to understand and use relative to their zodiacal positions. Aldeberan and Antares are almost exactly opposite at 9 degrees Taurus and Scorpio, and Regulus is at 29 degrees Leo. These stars are also similar as they're of an enterprising nature, their meanings applying well to military and governmental pursuits.
With Fomalhaut most of these patterns fail to work. Fomalhaut, with a zodiacal position at 3 Pisces, would have been the winter solstice planet 5000 years ago. Then it becomes more complicated.
Fomalhaut Mouth of the Fish
Fomalhaut is the mouth of the constellation Southern Fish, and it's name is from the Arabic for "fish's mouth." This is our first star in a nonzodiacal constellation. The Southern Fish isn't far from the constellation Aquarius, and indeed the fish could be seen drinking the water from the urn of the water-carrier. In deluge legends, this constellation is a symbol of salvation, as the mouth is drinking the waters of the flood. Already we're beginning to see that Fomalhaut is not particularly military or governmental in manifestation, is not nearly as macho as the other three Royal Stars.
Ptolemy gives Fomalhaut the nature of Mercury and Venus, so here we're dealing more with personal charisma. Modern authors, citing traditional sources, call it fortunate and powerful quality but sometimes leading to a dissipation of energy. Alan Oken feels it has a strongly Neptunian quality. Bernadette Brady likens it to idealism and love of beauty and harmony, but the native has to watch his or her motivations. Fomalhaut certainly adds refinement and personal appeal, but, like other powerful fixed stars, its energy can be entirely too much. (Remember that fixed stars delineations occurred before the discovery of the outer planets, so that the stronger ones have a volitive quality similar to how we interpret the outer planets.)
Fomalhaut is far from the ecliptic, over twenty degrees. It's even farther from the equator, at thirty degrees south latitude. Therefore this planet is more often in the sky at southern latitudes. The position of three degrees Pisces is only that place in the zodiac that is the closest, but the star is never near the Zodiac! (By the way, this is also the situation with Pluto!)
Before we discuss the implications of this, lets talk about the most famous star -- by far -- in the southern horizon, Sirius. Its zodiacal position is just over 14 Cancer, but more of a tale lies here.
Sirius - Star of Success
As the NCGR Level Two test guide and a million other sources will tell you, Sirius is the star whose rising signaled the flooding of the Nile and the eginning point of the ancient Egyptian yearly calendar. It was also affiliated with the goddess Isis and had the good fortune of not moving by precession (due to a fluke of the ancient calendar, it is said), for a very long time, unlike the other stars. It is also most often the brightest star in the sky during much of the year, and all of you should start looking for it in the night sky starting around August of each year. It's easy to find!
Sirius is in the constellation Canis Major and is also known as the "dog star" and its rising signaled the hottest time of the summer, hence "dog days." However, its brightness and divine affiliation merits Sirius as a very potent and brilliant star when placed in a person's birthchart. Ptolemy gave it the nature of Mars and Jupiter -- so we're back to military and governmental enterprise. It's a star of success although it can also be on the extravagant side. Sirius appears to heighten the beneficial qualities of that planet it is affiliated with. (Sounds like a planet we've all come to know and love? Hint: not Saturn.)
Bernadette Brady extends this interpretation further: "This very strong star indicates that you may, by your effort, gain far more than what is expected -- the mundane becoming sacred. Hence a small action becomes a symbol for the collective, a sense of ritual in daily life." Importantly, she says the success Sirius brings can "burn you."
Before all of you with planets and angles at 14 Cancer get too excited, remember that Sirius is far from the ecliptic -- it's 40 degrees away from the path of the Sun! It's only 17 degrees south of the equator, as the zodiac in Cancer is as far north of the equator as it gets. (If you enjoy numbers and coordinate systems of the sky, compare the declinations and latitude of Fomalhaut and Sirius. A good time will be had.)
Most astrologers, past and present, use the nearest zodiacal degree to locate a fixed star and place the star in a birthchart at that degree. That's fine when the star is close to the ecliptic but iffier when it's much further away. An alternative, much less used but definitely worth considering, is the linking of a star at an angle of a birthchart at the same time as a planet is at the same or another angle. Those of you familiar with Astrocartography or like systems know this phenomena as "paranatella" - literally "with or alongside stars."
Next lesson: we'll discuss working with stars and planets and angles and compare that with using conjunctions in the zodiac. We'll be looking at lots of charts of famous people as examples.
Home Back One-- Introduction Two--Regulus Three--Aldebaran & Antares Four--Fomalhaut & Sirius