The Faces of GEMINI

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Symbol: The Twins Solar month: 21 May. – 22 June.
Element: Air
Temperament: Hot/moist
Quality: Mutable
Gender: Positive/Masculine
Dignity of: Mercury
Detriment of: Jupiter
Exaltation of: none
Fall of : none
Archetypal faces: Messenger/Scribe/Trickster


Ancient & Traditional Gemini

“Ye wild-eyed muses! Sing the Twins of Jove . . .’ ‘. . . mild Pollux, void of blame, And steed-subduing Castor, heirs of fame.”

“Of the flavours it is very sweet, of the colours it is those that change into many colours, of the living things it man, monkey, and the bird . . .”

The pre-classical constellation of Gemini appears to have stemmed from the two bright stars within its pattern, who in themselves were simply ‘two stars’ to the Egyptians. The Persians called them ‘Du Paikar’, or ‘Two Figures’.

Other cultures are also seen to have noted these stars, to the early Chinese Gemini was ‘the Ape’ and later became known as ‘Yin Yang’, ‘the Two Principles’. The Australian Aborigines gave the stars a name meaning ‘Young Men’. Another ancient peoples, the Bushmen of South Africa knew them as ‘Young Women’, who were the wives of their ‘Great Antelope’.

In Babylonia these two stars were known as the stars of the ‘Great Twins’ and this title is said to be a reference to the bond between the mythic Gilgamesh and Enkidu. In later Graeco-Roman myth the same form of symbolism was applied to the brotherhood of Apollo and Hercules.

In the 4th century BCE Aristotle recorded an occultation, by the planet Jupiter, of one of these Geminian stars and this observation is credited as the first known of this nature . This seems an appropriate planet to be observed in regard to this phenomenon in this sign, as the celestial twins were said to be the ‘children of Jove’.

In Greek myth the twins directly represented in the Gemini constellation are the mortal Castor (from ‘astor’, ‘starry’) and the immortal Pollux (from ‘polyleukes’, ‘lightful’), who the children of Zeus and Leda, one of his seductions. Castor was known as a ‘tamer of horses’, which is noted as reflective of the polarity sign Sagittarius and Pollux was the immortal twin, a boxer who used deft hands and was light on his feet. The brothers were placed in the heavens by their father, as the mortal one died and the immortal twin requested to join his brother for eternity.

The twin brothers also had twin sisters, the passive and ‘pure’ Helen and the mortal Clytaemnestra, who was motivated by darker passions. Between such twins is represented the polarities of spirituality and will, or the higher and lower natures, which when balanced, allow for positive, generative action. Otherwise there may develop a ‘splitting’ and diversification of energy, that will tend to scatter all over the place, which is a typical Geminian dilemma.

The Roman word for twins is ‘gemelli’ and there was also the title ‘Dioscuri’. Twins were especially venerated in this culture, due to the brothers Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome. Their story is an archetypal echo of that of Castor and Pollux and they were also considered the sons of Jupiter by some. Thus the constellation carried a title of ‘Guardian of Rome’ and seen appointed to that protective position by Jove himself.

The twins appear on all of the Roman Republics silver coinage, from c.269 BCE. The myth of the Roman culture has Romulus and Remus as the sons of Mars and the vestal Rhea Silvia. They were to be placed in a basket on a river, subsequently they are saved, suckled by a she-wolf and brought up by a shepherd and his wife.

It is said that when founding the site of a new city to be, the location was to be decided upon by the augury of the greater number of birds in each twins section of the sky (12 for Romulus and 6 for Remus). Remus was to jealously attack his brother, as he embarked upon working upon the city to be and it unfolded that Romulus killed him. As in such mythology, archetypal sibling themes may sometimes be reflected in the astrology of Gemini., from bonding (Castor and Pollux), to rivalry and polarisation (Romulus and Remus).

Castor and Pollux were also to become incorporated into Roman funeral rites, as due to their great symbolic popularity, early Christianity accepted their existence as symbols of life and death (the ultimate ‘polarity). Christian theology was even seen to eventually associate the two stars of Gemini as a symbol reflective of Adam and Eve. So, as twin brothers were already revered, thus it was that the Greek Castor and Pollux were also quickly adopted into the later Roman myth and worship, a great temple was erected to ‘the Gemini’ in the Forum.

They were invoked by the Romans for protection in war and for ocean travel. Therefore, by extension, the twins also presided over commerce and trade (as does their astrological ruling planet O). As the protectors of seafarers, Castor and Pollux became associated with the brilliant phenomenon of ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ which was considered a manifestation of these twins. Thus in classical times the constellation and Gemini was sometimes symbolised as two stars over a ship.

The ‘badge’ of the ‘double lights’ was also stamped on a ships prow for protection. Echoes of more mercurial-ruled symbolism appears in the likes of feminine figureheads on some ships, reflecting the maiden of the other Mercury-ruled sign of Virgo. Here witnessed is the sign of Gemini’s connection with the element of air, to give fortuitous winds, thus to fill the sails of a ship.

Also reflected is this zodiacal signs connection and correspondences to things such as movement, travel and trade. The ruling planet Mercury is the traditional patron of pilots, thus the sign may also lend its statement to such voyaging. Castor and Pollux were also to join the hero Jason in his adventures and therefore became directly involved in serving on and protecting the mythic Argo.

As a zodiacal component, in the traditional context, Gemini was said to ‘act’ upon the element of air ‘by imprinting on it a temperate heat and humidity strengthening nature, every odor and every odiferous influence. It strengthens the natural heat and temperance of the air in which individuals of species rejoice, and it makes some seeds germinate, and the like.’ Some traditional associations that have been applied to this sign are as follows; The ‘day house of Mercury’, metal, airy, barren, bi-copereal, changeable, commin, dexterous, double-bodied, dual, hot, masculine, diurnal, vernal, restless, sanguine, speaking, human, sweet, moist.

Some More Symbology & Mythology

The sigil of this constellation is said to have derived from a cuneiform character concerning the Assyrian month of the year equivalent to parts of our May – June. Also, in a very traditional sense, Gemini’s glyph is regarded as a symbol of the Roman numeral two and is thus particularly representative of things of a dual nature, the human being has two arms, two hands and many other manifest dualities.

In astrology the arms and the hands are generally Gemini-ruled physical things. In the more conceptual sense this sign has been associated with the idea of ‘twin souls’, in fact ‘twin anything’. The pictogram of the Geminian glyph also portrays the concept of pillars as an entrance, or exit, and it is traditional in the myths of many cultures that ‘pairs’ of gods (and two-headed gods) were the guardians of such portals.

Arguably the most well known mystical symbolism relating to portals and pillars are those of the Qabalistic model of the ‘Tree of Life’. Known as the black and white columns of ‘Joachim and Boaz’, which are considered to be representative of the ‘mysteries of the Temple of Solomon’, these pillars have also been entitled the ‘pillars of Hermes’.

There are three ‘pillars’ underlying the patterns and paths of this philosophical system, the two outer represent the essential mystical polarities form/severity and force/mercy. A middle pillar is that of ‘mildness’ and offers clues, as to a route of grace and harmony, towards gnosis. One view of such passage between these portals is known as the ‘middle way’, the reconciliation of extremes.

Another example of pillar symbolism is to be seen in the Tarots’ Key 2, ‘The High Priestess’, who is traditionally represented as sitting between two pillars, essentially the portals of different worlds of polarity. Many cultures also have twins of inportance within their mythologies. Other notable twins, amongst many, in mythology include the vedic ‘Ashvins’, Mitra and Varuna, plus siblings Isis and Osiris, Apollo and Artemis.

Generally the symbolism of the twins implies the complementary principles of interaction, the polarisation and the potential synthesis of diverse aspects. Thus one twin may be mortal and the other immortal, one dark and one light, or one is female and the other male, etc. There is a rich depth of reference in the metaphysics of duality and therefore within the astrological philosophy of Gemini.

The archetypal core of this symbol concerns a sense of flux, of the interlinking of paradoxes, a kind of ‘alternating contradiction’. Hence, in its unadulterated purity of symbolism, this sign is said to be reflective of and likes of an ‘active equipoise’, or a ‘harmonious ambiguity’. Metaphysical Gemini is not only a static symbolic representative of the formation of complimentary opposites.

To give a little insight into the incredible philosophic depth under all astrology – the twin symbolism of Gemini is archetypal of a core dynamic, of esoteric and of manifest experience (as are all astrological components). The following statement captures, with an excellent perception, this fundamental philosophic expression of this sign;

“There is a third aspect, which is that of individuation or splitting of the ‘double being’, but this has to do with the existential order and not the mythic.

As a result of the dynamic tendencies of all contradictions (white tends towards black, night seeks to become day, the evil man aspires towards goodness, life leads to death), the world of phenomena becomes a system of perpetual inversions, illustrated, for example in the hour-glass which turns upon its own axis in order to maintain its inner movement: that of the sand passing through the central aperture – the ‘focal point’ of its inversion.

The Gemini, in essence a symbol of opposites, is, in its dynamic aspect, then, a symbol of Inversion."

This writer continues on to observe;
“If this cosmic situation were worked out in psychological terms, it would mean that the ‘zone of contradiction’ would become the threshold of uhifying and unified mysticism. This would explain the abundance of contradictory epithets in the most sublime poetry, and the extraordinary richness of paradox in the deepest of thinkers, . . . "

The archetypal fundamentals of this zodiac sign also hold the principle that in every individual manifestation and object there may be two inescapable primary contributors, on the metaphysical level.

One ‘varying’ (the ‘mortal’ twin), one ‘unvarying’ (the ‘immortal’ twin), thus there is the divine relationship of the ‘greater’ and the ‘lesser’ – for example, individuality and species, or form and matter . Therefore, in honouring such dynamics of the symbolism, mythic twins are most often seen to come from parents where one is mortal and the other, immortal, and each twin carries and expresses one of these polar states of being, rather than the offspring ‘fusing’ the dualism of the parents.

Sometimes there may be witnessed the mythic ‘fusing’ of the two ‘parents’ into a one, this is reflective of the trickiness of Geminian duality and symbolism. In short, they each may tend to carry the other’s ‘shadow’ aspect, in carrying on the dual heritage in the family.

In a personal and individual context, such paradox may also represent the polarisation between various qualities within one individual. Integration ultimately becomes necessary, as one cannot exist without, or truly divorce, the other. The laws of duality, polarity and their dynamics, can mean that the likes of doubling and pairing can have many dimensions, sometimes the symbolism of twins can be ‘siamese’, so to speak.

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