Ophiuchus The Serpent Bearer
Maggie Kerr (AAT.Dip.Couns.)


As is so often the case, it was an innocent question from a new student in one of my beginners classes which prompted me to answer the old question…Is there actually a 13th Zodiac Sign? Well says Maggie teacher there are two possibilities on this - one is known as Arachne the Spider. This arises from the Druidic calendar containing 13 signs, where Arachne is contained between Taurus and Gemini. In this tradition the Sun enters Arachne on May 16th and leaves it on June 13th. It is said to be the sign of the “Psychic”. If you would like to know more the little book “The Thirteenth Zodiac The Sign of Arachne” by James Vogh Mayflower Books 1979 is most fascinating.

However there is a second option on this thirteenth sign of the Zodiac, which is the one which I find quite fascinating. This is Ophiuchus The Serpent Bearer, and if you remember back a few years ago there was a flurry of media items about this “debate” as to whether we Astrologers (bunch of idiots which we are according to the Astronomers) have been wrong all these millennium using only the 12 signs on the band of the Ecliptic. Well I found this all very interesting at the time, because Ophiuchus is a constellation whose stars cross over into the band of the ecliptic containing late Scorpio, all of Sagittarius, and early Capricorn - and low and behold at the time of said media fuss dear old Pluto was entering the part of Ophiuchus which is in Sagittarius.

Here we have a classic example of how the archetypal influence of the starry firmament above awakens its’ essence within us below - even at the unconscious level of the media! So let’s find out more about why this constellation is so important right now, and leave the debate as to whether it should be the 13th sign up in the air where it should be! After all we may never reconcile the essential difference between the 12 month Solar model and the 13 month Lunar model - they are both perfect within the greater scheme of things. However, there is a part of me which enjoys the sense that right now in our human evolutionary story it is important to dignify the number 13 in a new and fresh light so we may integrate our lunar essence more fully!

So we are dealing with two sets of stars and therefore energies here - one is the constellation of the Serpent which covers 60 degrees of the heavens just north of the ecliptic. The Serpent is in 2 parts, the head and the tail, which is analogous to the Dragon’s head and Dragon’s tail - names also given to the north and south nodes of the Moon in Hindu Astrology. The stars of the Serpent are held in the hands of another constellation, the naked man known as Ophiuchus, which means Serpent Holder. In Greek mythology this constellation is known as Aesclepius The Healer, who was one of Chirons’ most important students.

Aesclepius was said to have learned how to bring the dead back to life from a serpent who gave him an herb. This was not allowed by the God of the Underworld and Death, Hades, whose earlier name was Aides! Aesclepius was struck by a lighting bolt and placed amongst the stars. He was worshiped in the form of a snake. This is why in the healing sanctuaries of ancient Greece snakes were venerated and sacred. (We of course in modern times have been taught to abhor and fear them!) So get over your snake phobias, because Kundalini is rising!

Now unless you have been having a big sleep all year, then no doubt you have heard about the August 11th eclipse which fell in a grand fixed cross pattern, and was accompanied by many prophesies of doom and gloom. Well the good news is most of us are still here for better or worse (and I mean this literally), and there is no doubt that the energies over the past few months are heightened to say the least. So I wonder how you are all coping with your “serpent energy” lately? Yes folks it is kundalini rising time, because to co-incide with this great eclipse we find that Pluto has reached the star at the thigh of the serpent holder at 9 degrees of Sagittarius this year. The first pass was in January, the retrograde pass in May, and the final direct pass is in November.

Not only but also!…1999 is the year when Pluto passes out beyond the orbit of Neptune again after 20 years. He came inside in 1979, reached his midpoint in 1989 (which is also his perihelion or closest point to the Sun in his 246 year orbit), and moves out again this year to resume is position as the furthest planet from the Sun. I’ve found it interesting to ponder the significance of this relationship - is it not that the deeper destructive/transformative potency of Pluto was “unveiled” from behind Neptunes’ sheath during these two decades. And what of the simultaneous passage of Pluto through the Serpent and the Serpent Holder during the same period?

Pluto reached the first star (the Northern Scales) of the Serpent at 17 degrees of Scorpio in December 1989. History now records this as the year the “wall came down” in Berlin between East and West - the official end of the “separation” both physically and metaphysically. So perhaps symbolically the beginning of the balancing of the scales - the potential for uniting yin/yang essences - occurs at this time. Interesting to note that the Sabian symbol for this degree is “A woman, fecundated by her own spirit is ‘great with child’ - keynote: a total reliance within the dictates of the God within. This is the transpersonal way of existence.” Indeed we have seen an acceleration of the Spiritual influence globally since this event.

This was accompanied by the Saturn Uranus conjunction in Capricorn the same year, and as we have seen Plutos’ perihelion. Serpent energy also contains descent/rebirth themes, from the good old serpent in the Garden of Eden, to the Mayan Quetzalcoatle “plumed serpent”, who in their mythology is prophesied to return at this Millennium time. Here we find another synchronization between the end of the Mayan approx. 5,000 calendar and the transit of Pluto past the last star in the Serpents’ tail in 2012! So obviously the Maya, who are renowned for their sophistication of understanding Cosmic calendars of events, understood the significance of the archetypal release of the serpent forces generated by Pluto over the 23 years of his journey through the Serpent and his Holder.

It is also worthy of a mention that Pluto is the last of the three transpersonal planets to be discovered, and symbolically is the final stage of the threefold process represented by these Spiritualising forces. Uranus electrifies the human with the spark of God consciousness, and begins the process of change necessary to uplift him into Soul centeredness. Neptune dissolves the boundaries of the old ego to allow the inspiration of clarity, creativity and compassion. Finally Pluto brings the old “false” ego with its’ fears and limitations to its’ “death”, by bringing up from the unconscious the dark and shadowy aspects of the ego for healing and renewal. So Uranus and Neptune have already passed through the Serpent and his Holder since 1979 and 1964 respectively.

The progress of Pluto since 1989 through Scorpio, saw his return to 17 Scorpio at the time of the Gulf War in 1991. Pluto was still in the Serpents’ head at the time of the Uranus Neptune conjunction (which occurred in Capricorn) in 1993. Pluto transited into the Serpent Holder himself in 1996. This period between 1993-96 potentised the seeding which occurred between 1964-68 at the time of the Uranus Pluto conjunction in Virgo. Pluto reaches the first star in the hand of the Serpent Holder in January 1996 at 1 degree Sagittarius. This is Akrab - according to Ebertin this star inclines toward the research of things of a secret and hidden nature!

This brings us to January 1999, as Pluto reached Antares in the thigh and therefore body of the Serpent holder for the first time ( up until here Pluto is still passing through the hand and arm). Ebertin tells us that this star is Martian in nature, inclines to recklessness, and positively courage - yes we had another war in the Balkans this year, as was the case also in the early 90s. The Sabian symbol again is most revealing thus: “A mother leads her small child step by step up a steep stairway. Keynote: The need in any social situation to assist the less evolved in their management of the problems which society requires its’ members to solve - social concern for the less evolved of societies members”. Yes it is now time for us to support others in their awakening and the subsequent process of renewal!

“The winter solstice of 1999 also aligns with the Galactic plane. The last time an equinox aligned with the galactic plane was 6,500 years ago, coinciding with the ‘sudden’ emergence or rise of high civilisation, as in Sumeria and Egypt.” There are many references throughout these cultures to “star seeding” with implications of extra terrestrial intervention in our evolutionary journey. So is it not interesting that in recent months we have heard the scientist/astronomers beginning to happily admit that there is every likelihood of life in other forms in other star systems! To say nothing of the E.T. movies - Cosmos and so on of the past few decades. Perhaps Barbara Hand Clow author of Chiron The Rainbow Bridge, is quite on spec when she states that it will be the Chiron in Aquarius generation who will welcome our E.T. brothers in the first decade of the new Millennium!

Well my astrological friends there are a few more ideas for your pondering. And I wouldn’t be Maggie Kerr if I didn’t leave you with an esoteric word or two - I am inspired as usual when I play in the astro/mythic/cosmic/spiritual information and energies, to continue to believe that it is absolutely time for us all to believe in the beauty and majesty of the great creative forces in which we abide, and to continue to commit our energies to the upliftment of the human condition! Much love to you all……Maggie

1.Raymond Mardyks - Article - When The Stars Touch The Earth - Mountain Astrologer Aug 1991