Astrological Musings

On Monday, May 1, millions of legal and illegal immigrants and their supporters are expected to walk out of their jobs and hit the streets to declare their value to the American economy. It is an interesting choice of dates, since May Day has a long history of significance, going all the way back to pre-Christian Europe where it was celebrated as Beltane.

In ancient Celtic times, the wheel of the year was honored as the turning of the seasons. In the northern hemispheres, the winter solstice was the shortest day of the year and represented the return of the light, and the summer solstice, being the longest day of the year, was the Celtic fire festival. The equinoxes represented the points of balance when day and night were of equal length: the vernal equinox represented planting and fertility, and the autumnal equinox was the time of harvest. (Southern hemisphere civilizations had their own traditions of marking the seasons which obviously were very different than in the north.)

Halfway between these solar events are the “cross-quarter” days, the times of magic. Still celebrated today for their imaginal power, these were the periods when the Sun was at the midpoint of the fixed signs: Taurus, Scorpio, Leo and Aquarius. In the astrological wheel, the cardinal signs of initiation are followed by the fixed signs of stability, which are followed in turn by the mutable signs of adaptation. So we have cardinal Aries at the Vernal equinox (in tropical astrology), followed by fixed Taurus at the cross-quarter, which precedes mutable Gemini. Cancer begins the summer solstice, followed by Leo at the cross-quarter, which precedes Virgo, and so it goes around the wheel.

Each of these “triplicities” as they are called has a different energy. The cardinal signs demonstrate leadership, they initiate action, each in its own way according to its element (fire, water, earth and air). The fixed signs are stable, rooted, grounded. In many ways they are the most powerful because they don’t blow off steam like the cardinal signs, and they are not tempted to lose themselves through adaptability like hte mutable signs can. The ancient Celtic peoples found the mid-point of the fixed signs to be magical and called them the “Gates of Power.” The first “Gate of Power” in the year occurs in the mid-point of Taurus, which technically does not occur until May 5.

The ancient Celts called the first cross-quarter festival Beltane, from the ancient word for “bright fire.” On the eve of Beltane, bonfires were lit throughout the land to invoke protection for the crops and farm animals for the coming year. Beltane was a fertility festival, and marriage vows were often lifted for just one night. The dance around the Maypole is a clearly phallic symbol calling for fruitful fields and families.

In the middle ages, Mayday became a time for the craft guild to celebrate the patrons of their craft, and later trade societies and then unions celebrated Mayday as their holiday. May 1st later became the holiday of trade unions after a general strike and riot in Chicago resulted in the establishment of the eight hour workday which is now commemorated by International Workers Day on May 1.

Today, as tempers rise on both sides of the immigration debate, we find ourselves on the eve of this historic protest, as mostly Hispanic workers in the U.S. stay home from their jobs and boycott American products. We are still in the midst of the healing crisis produced by the Saturn/Chiron opposition but the approaching Grand Trine in water planets should help to facilitate compassion and understanding as this event begins to force changes in the way we think about our neighbors. However, the day will begin with an opposition of the Moon (emotions) to Pluto (power struggles and obsession) at 7 am EDT and 10 am PDT that could begin a series of clashes that may set an aggressive tone for the event.

Taurus resists change, but change is inevitable. The only variable is how we ourselves react and whether we are able to use that change in our own personal evolution.

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