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Ptolemy Era Zodiac What is your Sign?
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Real Sky Astrology!?
Real Sky Astrology is the brain child and intellectual property of tarot artist and author Julie Cuccia-Watts. At first glance you may think you're looking at an insurmountable rocky cliff face with a difficult climb but if you take that challenge you will find yourself on a new level overlooking an amazing and liberating new vista. Like the Giza plateau itself you will suddenly reach a higher view and see what seems to be forever.
Real Sky Astrology begins with our understanding of historical bias and even the way we view the world as a product of Western Culture. It may even begin with Alexander the Great whose descendants respected knowledge and beauty. It took a trip to Egypt for me to see that the Hellenistic era pharaohs were dedicated to rebuilding Egypt to its former glory. The Denderah temple is a monument to that ancient legacy. The temple was reconstructed from ancient scrolls and is an unbelievable piece of architectural engineering.
The earliest religious practices of ancient Egypt's nature religion included advanced mathematics and star worship. The temple alignments to rising stars were a testament to their devotion to sky watching. When the experts tell you that the Babylonians invented astrology I can tell you that the Babylonians were the last of the foreign invaders who were busy looting ancient Egypt and destroying her temples. That it was Alexander who pushed them all the way back to the Tigris and Euphrates. These are the little things you learn when you go to Egypt and actually talk to their experts. You start to see the origins of everything in your life can be traced back to ancient Egypt including the Rx in the local pharmacy.
Modern Western Astrology the mainstream pop culture stuff from the newspaper we all recognize has its source from the translated work of Claudius Ptolemy. What we never knew was that Claudius Ptolemy was a Roman citizen living in Alexandria and he is credited with the discovery of precession. However Ptolemy’s “discovery” of precession is on the level of Columbus discovering The New World. Ironically Ptolemy’s writings on geography and his inaccurate translation of the Egyptian calculations of the globe may have given Columbus a bit of a scare before he landed in The New World. The scrolls of Eraosthenes (300BC) had been Ptolemy’s source. Eraosthenes was able to calculate the size of the Earth by measuring the shadows in Upper and Lower Egypt at the same time and comparing the difference in shadow size he was able to calculate the size of the earth.
Claudius Ptolemy lived in Alexandria during the Roman occupation from 90 to 170 CE approximately. He was a librarian at the Library of Alexandria from 127 to 150 giving him access to whatever precious ancient knowledge that may have survived the library’s burning in the previous era. Ptolemy famous for three great scholarly works: the Almagest– a book of astronomy and geometry, the Tetrabiblos– a book of astrology, and a book of Geographythe ancient Egyptian world had knowledge of a spherical world.Sometime before his death he calculated when the Age of Pisces would begin. 221AD was the year Pisces would appear at the horizon at the equinox replacingthe constellation Aries that had risen there for the previous 2160 years. This perfect alignment would last exactly 72 years before ever so slowly this sky would shift one degree. And for every 72 years that went by the sky would move out of sync with Ptolemy's projected sky. Until astronomy and astrology were hopelessly split during the Renaissance when science and mysticism went their separate ways. The Mystics held fast to the 221AD sky in their magical books and the astronomers divorced themselves from magical thinking observing the world around them. Even today it would seem as if science and spirituality will never find common ground again.
In astronomy precession refers to the gradual shift in the orientation of Earth's axis of rotation, which, like a wobbling top, traces out a pair of cones joined at their apices in a ~25,920 year cycle (called MAGNUS ANNUS* or The Great Year, also known as the Platonic Year in modern astrology). Precession, then, is the slow, wobbling conical motion of the Earth’s axis around the axis of the ecliptic. It is this tilt of the earth’s axis that causes seasons. Precession is caused by the wobbling, axis of rotation think of this big juicy planet with it’s hot iron core, big heaving oceans that rise and fall with the moon’s orbit.
The big clue to Egypt’s connection to astrology was the framing of the horoscope itself. The non-European compass points of the horoscope chart are positioned in Egypt’s worldview. Lower Egypt is north and Upper Egypt is south the rising sign in the east is to the left and the descendent west is on the right. The 12 months of the Egyptian calendar were divided into three 10-day weeks exactly like the 10° decants twelve 30° houses of a horoscope chart. There was too much forensic evidence here to just pass off.
As I began to drop my preconceived ideas about astrology and astrological meanings and let my mind free associate with the mythos of ancient Egypt. I began to see the gods of Egypt coming alive in the symbols of astrology. This was without a doubt an Egyptian framework. I looked at the signs and saw the male/female assignments associated with each sign oddly out of place and that the signs themselves were clearly split down the middle by the Milky Way into masculine and feminine symbols. Now I was heading into uncharted territory but that is what an artist does, experiment and play around with how things fit. Considering how much our parent figures have been lied to, this is par for the course. I began to see this celestial line up based on the ceiling of Denderah paired with the earliest forms of Greek astrology that sources explained as one long woman. All I could think of was the star spangled goddess of the sky Nut (nuit, night, Neith) and the Wadjet an ancient snake goddess whom all the goddesses of Egypt seem to be a facet of.
The Milky Way divided the sky like the Nile divided the land. And this is the dividing line between the masculine signs and the female signs. The Circle without beginning and without ending has no first sign it is not locked into place. Though the ordering of the signs remains constant.
The Zodiac Signs from the ceiling of Dendera
Beginning with the masculine Sign of Sagittarius The Hero/Villain
The Sun travels thru Sagittarius between December 18-January 18. The moon will be full in this sign between June 21 - July 19 Egyptians they illustrated Sagittarius as a winged horse centaur but with two faces one of Horus and one of Set. Showing the dual nature of pharaoh a hero to his people and a villain to his enemies. This symbol is a potent image full of depth and paradox for the natives born during this month. Balance is paramount in the ancient Egyptian philosophy it is particularly evident in the Egyptian approach to Sagittarius, wearing with heads of the Saviour god Horus and his nemesis uncle Set. Here the god of distruction is one with the god of the morning their arrow takes aim at some distant target. The goal is to set things to right.
This sign represents the warrior spirit who will fight to stand up for what is right. The hero to the people they stand up for and the face of the enemy to those who they stand against. When a planet shows up in Sagittarius how will you use this power? What will you send out into the world? Check out what planets you have in this sign in the real sky by using an astromomy app.
Capricorn The Goat/Fish Khnum and Ra
The Nile River god Khnum has the head of a goat usually with wavy horns that symbolize the waters of the Nile river. Khnum was the one who guided the Sun god Ra thru the perilous nocturnal land known as the Duat. The Sun travels thru Capricorn January 18- February 18. The moon will be full in this sign between July 21 - August 9.
The Hellenistic Era of Egypt interpreted images like this as the the triumph of Horus over Set. Illustrations of the falcon headed Horus riding many different forms of “sethian” creatures including pig, ass, crocodile, and scorpion can be found at the colossal Ptolemaic Era Temple of Horus at Edfu. Setting the stage for the very potent symbol of the triumphant heroe who rides a sethian creature, like Jesus's legendary ride on the donkey. (Palm Sunday)
Aquarius- The Water Bearer
Aquarius the Nile god Hapi, the WATER bearer with the emphasis on the water as a vehicle for helping humanity move great stones during the flood stage of the Nile. The image for Aquarius is very much like the hieroglyph for the Nile. The symbolism of the sign of Aquarius is about timing and synchronicity. It is about getting what you need right when you need it. The lesson is about having faith in the abundance of the universe and not worrying or hoarding but keeping things flowing. The Sun travels thru Aquarius February 19-March 9. The moon is full in this sign between August 10-September 15.
Pisces- Thoth (magician and scribe of the gods) as gatekeeper of the Duat
The sign of Pisces as it looks in the ceiling relief at Denderah is a figure holding a staff connected to two fish, the fish were separated by a box and on either side of the two fish there were two circles with symbols. The figure’s face looked like a lion to me at first and then I realized it was a baboon. I realized what I was seeing was an illustration of the story of the first test in the afterlife. In ancient Egypt the baboons (sacred form of Thoth) would come out at sunrise and sunset to fish and because the sunset and sunrise were thought to be the portal to the far world or the Duat they saw the baboon as the first guardian or gatekeeper to the after world. The figure standing behind the baboon has a human face. Now the story goes that if you were not spiritual you would be caught in the nets of the “fisherman” as the fish was the hieroglyph for the physical body that would rot. So if you were just a body your life in the Duat would end right there caught in the net. But if you could convince the baboon that you too were a fisherman tell him all the sacred words (god’s and goddess names) that described the parts of the net you would be allowed to pass on to the next test. There would be numerous other world beings that would try to steal your heart (the seat of your wisdom) and you would have to trick all of them into thinking you were a god."
The Sun travels thru Pisces between March 10- April 19. The moon is full in this sign between September 16- October 30.
Aries- The Ram/Amen-Ra
The sign of Aries the Ram headed god Amen-Ra known as the hidden sun he is the prototype of the invisible god, the god found in everything. His feminine counterpart Amentet the goddess between death and rebirth is a huge hint to the role of Amen-Ra hidden in plane sight in contemporary religions, the word Amen at the end of prayers. The Sun travels thru Aries April 20-May 13. The moon is full in this sign between October 18- November 16.
Taurus- The Apis Bull
Taurus the Apis Bull the living representation Osiris on earth, bee and bull rituals apply here the connection between the dead god and his queen and her people as a super organism. In ancient Egypt this bull was called the Apis Bull and is closely connected to the bee. When the bull died or if it was sacrificed in honor of Sirius rising and the Nile flood, bees would gather. (They were likely attracted to the blood.) The ancients saw the bee swarm as the soul of the god that had been transformed. The bee symbol was the key to the mystery religions. The bull was given up in order for the transformation to happen. The bee swarm was the life of the bull taking a new form as it gathered around its queen to form a new hive. A swarm can be seen as a super organism, like "the people" who were connected to a cause or a leader. Together this super organism could do much more than any single being. For the bees, the result is their honey. For the Egyptians, honey was a golden, medicinal, magical, incorruptible sweet substance. Honey is the product of the diligent work of bees. The bee is one of symbols the Egyptians used (along with the sedge grass) to indicate that a hieroglyphic cartouche was the name of a pharaoh."The Sun travels thru Taurus May 14-June 20. The moon is full in this sign between November 16- December 17
Gemini- The Twins
Gemini-the Twins represents the egalitarian nature of the Egyptian gods for all gods had a twin or goddess partner. The modern astrological Twin image is usually depicted as Caster and Pollex, twin brothers born out of the coupling of Zeus and Leda. However, in the ceiling at Denderah, the twins are male and female. In the traditional western astrology the masculine pairing gives support to Roman pairs like Romulus and Remus, the male twins who founded Rome. While this fits the Roman worldview, this image fails to connect with Egyptian symbolism, and particularly the virtue of balance. Fraternal male and female twins illustrate the commonality between the sexes. This is consistent with Egyptian belief systems; the divine beings of Egypt always come in male and female pairs. The Sun travels thru Gemini June 21-July 21. The moon is full in this sign between December 18 - January 16
Cancer-Khepra/ The Scarab
Cancer- The modern astrological Cancer/Crab image is very different than the Egyptian sign, which was illustrated as a Scarab. The scarab is a complete departure from the modern zodiac Cancer/Crab symbol. Symbolically, the scarab is more akin to the butterfly. An adult scarab rolls its eggs in balls of dung where the eggs hatch and the insect thrives and grows through various stages. One of the early stages of development for a Scarab looks very much like an Egyptian sarcophagus, which may have something to do with the scarab’s reputation as being the self-born sun. Many believed a giant scarab would push the sun across the sky each day, much like a mother pushes a child. Khepri, the scarab god, was self-born. He was made from his own bodily fluids. He bypasses the feminine principle and shows signs of the encroaching patriarch. The scarab fetish was placed on the heart perhaps to eat away any “fecal” matter lodged there, and maybe showing a bit of Egyptian humor." The Sun travels thru Cancer July 22-August 9. The moon is full in this sign between January 17 - February 16.
Leo is Sekhemut the lion goddess part of the most ancient African Wadjet Snake goddess the lion is shown standing on a snake bearer. Admitting here I am still trying to understand all the symbols found in this glyph. The name Sekhem-mut is a clue to the meaning of this sign The word Mut means both mother and death. Sekhem is the Egyptian word for Power. This is the first sign in a series of feminine signs all relating to facets of the most ancient Snake goddess Wadjet. Part of the initiation rites of the priesthoods of Egypt would be to be symbolically swallowed by the lion journey thru the body of the animal and be reborn. Likely this sign has something to do with having the will to face fear and be transformed. The Sun travels thru Leo August 10- September 9. The moon is full in this sign between February 16- March 10.
Virgo is a very long sign lasting from September 10- October 30 whether this distortion of size in the signs was by created by renaissance astronomers or if the design signs was more even in the ancient past is unknown to me. The imagery here is Hathor/Isis as priestess with her sistrum and Set as priest who dismembers his brother Osiris in the shamanic rite of kings. The priest dismembers and the goddess puts the pieces back together and RE-members. At the Sed/Heb Festival, the pharaoh is tested to see if he is worthy of his crown. Sed/Heb may be shorthand that relates to Sed/Set/Seth as the destructive principle and Heb/greek for Ibis(Thoth as the creative principle in this great rite of ancient Egypt. The Priestess/ Hathor divine feminine with her sistrum would shake up the energies of stagnantion and blockages. She would give the initiate milk mixed with herbs to bring about visions and facilutate the journey thru the far world.The moon is full in this sign between March 11 - April 17.
Libra- The Scales Ma'at
Libra the scales of the goddess Ma’at (universal justice/law) has the image of the newborn Horus/Ra seated at the middle of the scales. He is either the child Horus sucking on his finger or the image of the newborn Ra, Hermetics call this god the silent god eluding to an oath of silence on the day of judgment when the heart of the deceased is weighed against a feather. The silent god may have been asking not to condemn the hearts of those who have caused harm to others in their lives. The Sun travels thru Libra October 31- November 22. The moon is full in this sign between April 18-May 16.
Scorpio- Selkit and the 13th sign/Imhotep(Serpent Bearer)
Scorpio and The Snake Bearer are part of the same month. Scorpio only lasts from November 23- November 29. Scorpio symbolized by the powerful protector goddess Selkit the scorpion goddess. Selkit whose priesthood were healers had great knowledge of poisons and antidotes. She was the protector of the pharaoh.Selket a goddess of magic a daughter of Ra and as with other dangerous goddesses, she protected as well as punished she knew the secrets of poisonous venoms and could dispense the antidotes. Her priests were doctors and magicians in ancient Egypt. In the underworld she aided in the process of rebirth of the newly dead and helped the deceased by giving them the breath of life. She was called "Mistress of the Beautiful House"a reference to Selket as the guardian of the embalming tent.
The Pyramid Texts she was the mother of Nehebkau, a snake god who protected the pharaoh from snakebites." People born the first week of this moon cycle can experience episodes of complete and total change in their lives, these natives hold the solutions to their own recovery and often show others how to appreciate their lives. The moon is full in this sign between May 17-20
November 30- December 17 the sun is in the only sign dedicated to a human being. Imhotep/The Snake Bearer or Ophuicus the only human being represented in the zodiac was the designer of the great pyramid immortalized in the southern stars of reincarnation to insure that he would return again and again to help humanity. He is the one who also brought the design of the pyramids and the wisdom of medicine to Egypt as well. Imhotep is one example of the "personality cults" that formed during the Age of Aries. In these cults, a learned sage or venerated person is deified after death. Imhotep was elevated to a god, replacing Nefertum in the great triad at Memphis. He was also associated with Thoth, the god of wisdom, writing and learning. He was worshiped in Greece, where he was identified with Aesclepius. Early Christians associated Imhotep as one with Christ. Hotep is the word for peace. Imhotep was associated with Aesclepius by the Greeks and with Joseph(pharoah's dreamer with the coat of many colors) by the Hebrews. The sign also called Ophiuchus, a medicine man taught by Chiron, the wounded healer. Serpentarius reminds us that illness is often followed by recovery. The Egyptian image of this sign shows the emphasis on the Snake Bearer as the image is of the god Imhotep being carried on a bearer that is a snake. The image of the goddess Wadjet. Making Imhotep the holy child of the divine feminine.
The Sun travels thru Imhotep November 30-December 17. The moon is full in this sign between May 21- June 20.
©2017 Julie Cuccia-Watts
So why use Real Sky?
In April of 2009 while traveling to Egypt with 8 others and author Robert Bauval while he was in the midst of writing his book Black Genesis and filming a documentary about this book. Bauval offered us a private lecture on star alignments and temples, challenging us with precession and the changing zodiac. One by one he showed us the real sky star maps for our birthdays. Every one of us had really been born in the sign previous to the one we thought we had according to Western Astrology. He called me out in particular because I used astrology in my work. At first I defended Western Astrology but then I realized Robert was right. And I also knew the real reason this made me so mad was because now I was going to have to rethink astrology. Later Robert took me aside and told me, "Real Sky works...” Still angry and embarrassed I told him his delivery sucked. But this was my pivotal moment of truth. I also realized that each time I used Western Astrology and the sky from 221AD I felt like I was lying. It still took me 3 months and a dream of 78 paintings downloaded in rapid fire to admit to myself I needed to do another deck. Journey into Egypt Tarot has been an amazing journey of discovery and challenge.
You can use any smart phone astronomy app to do real sky astrology. It is easy and it works.
©2019 Julie Cuccia-Watts