If you are born between April 20th and May 21st you are said to be under the influence of Taurus the Bull, if you are born between July 22nd and August 22nd you are under the influence of Leo the Lion. But what does it mean to be under the influence of the Bull, or the Lion? To answer this, we must consider the symbolic meaning of the astrological constellations, beginning with the mythologically connected signs: Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio….
The constellation Virgo the Virgin is an image of Persephone, the daughter of the Greek goddess Demeter. Demeter (called Ceres by the Romans) is the goddess of grain, nurturance and health. The rites which honored the goddess of grain and the renewal of life enacted the story of Demeter and Persephone. These rites, known as the “Eleusinian Mysteries” (or the “Festival of the Two Goddesses”) were celebrated during late September every year for over two thousand years, and are considered to be the most sacred and enduring religious ceremony of the ancient world.
In the myth Persephone is abducted by Hades (called Pluto by the Romans) and carried off to his domain in the Underworld. Demeter, distraught, searches for Persephone everywhere. In her grief she forgets her duty to nurture humankind. The green world dies and human beings begin to starve. Demeter soon discovers that Zeus was party to her daughter’s kidnapping and leaves Mount Olympus in anger. Many of the immortals try to coax her to return to her place among the gods and to resume her duties, but Demeter refuses to return to Mount Olympus until her daughter is restored to her.
Finally, giving way to Demeter’s demands, Zeus rules that Persephone must return from the Underworld. And she does; but because she has eaten some pomegranate seeds while in Hades’ domain (i.e. accepting her husband’s seed), by law, she has to remain in the Kingdom of the Dead for part of the year. During Persephone’s absence in winter, Demeter grieves and the green world dies. When Persephone returns, the earth reflects Demeter’s joy and the green world springs to life again.
In light of this tale, it is worth noting that the astrological sign Libra is located between Virgo (with its Demeter/Ceres – Persephone connection) and Scorpio (with its Hades/Pluto – Persephone connection). Libra begins with the autumn equinox (around the same time as the celebration of the Eleusinian Mysteries) and is the fulcrum point between the fecund life of summer and the seasonal death that is autumn.
Like Libra, held between Virgo and Scorpio, Persephone is caught between the pull of her mother’s wish for her to remain among the living and the pull of her husband’s desire for her to be with him in the Kingdom of the Dead. The tale echoes the movement of Libra’s scales, as they tip one way and then the other.
It is also interesting to note that, like Demeter, the astrological sign Virgo rules food, diet, health, and caring service. And Scorpio rules the mystery of sex, birth, death, and regeneration. Pluto, the mythological ruler of the Underworld, is also the planet-ruler of Scorpio.