March new moon in Aries on Tuesday 24th places asteroid Pythia at 26 Capricorn, conjunct Mars (25), Pluto (24), and Jupiter (23). Asteroid Hygeia who is connected with snake medicine, purifying toxicity, and cleansing, sits at 6 degrees of Gemini where she is sextile to the Moon and Sun at 4 degrees of Aries, and also Chiron at 5 Aries.
For Demetra George, Hygeia is involved with maintaining health through right living and connection to nature. At this time when many are choosing to stay home and self-isolate, this new moon offers a timely opening to consider our connection with the natural world… including our own bodies.
The necessity to avoid inside spaces with others may finally point the way to deeper connection with our natural environment.
On the train the other day I overheard a conversation – or at least one end of a conversation. A young man in his twenties was talking on his phone, he said “This pandemic and all pandemics are caused by contact with wildlife.” There was a pause while the recipient replied, to which the young man further replied, “Well, we’ll have to herd them or kill them.”- Presumably he meant wild animals. I shuddered. In that moment I saw the potential for the COVID-19 crisis to engineer further disconnection from nature.
It seems to me that a great deal of the trouble we are in stems precisely from our disconnection from nature… the natural world and our own nature.
With asteroid Pythia conjuncting the mighty stellium in Capricorn, including Pluto, I consider the potential meaning for the collective. In Greek mythology The Pythia was the chosen Oracle in the temple of Delphi, a very ancient site with its earliest roots in the late bronze age, 1600 BC. The Pythia Priestesses emerged around 7th century BC and by 9th – 11th century BC the temple had been taken over by the Sun god Apollo to whom they were subsequently in service.
Previously Delphi had been a sacred shrine dedicated to Gaia and the sea god Poseidon. In usurping the ancient snake priestesses the roots of patriarchy established a new cult where the ancient wisdom of the Great Mother and her priestesses was repressed or assimilated. The new agenda was less about Gaia and direct contact with the natural world and more about sovereignty of the priesthood, kingship, and worship of the solar gods- and in time one solar god.
Delphi is connected with the womb as a portal of cosmic consciousness and a bridge between heaven and earth- the place where spirit enters the material world and the mysteries of renewal symbolised by the serpent. The word (πίθος pithos), is thought to mean large jar, which may also have connotations to the womb. Although some believe that the Pythia Priestesses were in a half mad state of intoxication caused by putrid fumes from the earth, other scholars claim that far from gibberish their prophecies were intelligible and clear. Divine wisdom uttered by the Pythia was sought by the great and good of the time who were influenced by their prophecies (including Socrates) up until the 4th century AD.
The word uterus is connected to the word utterance and when the Pythia- again from the word pithos- womb- opened themselves to the divine inspiration it was the voice of the Great Mother that spoke.
Hygeia who figures in this new moon pattern is also involved with the serpent mysteries. As the daughter of the Greco-Roman demigod Asclepius who was born of Apollo and Coronis, (which may have a shared root with the word crone) the birth of Asclepius echoes the usurping and assimilation of feminine power.
When Coronis is pregnant she falls in love with a mortal man, this enrages Apollo who kills both her and her lover. As she lay burning on her funeral pyre, Apollo performs the first caesarean section by cutting baby Asclepius from her womb thus saving him from certain death- he becomes the god of medicine.
Robert Graves suggests that the myth of Coronis represents the suppression of medical practice by women and its transference into the hands of the patriarchy. For Graves, the death of Coronis heralds a point when wisdom originally carried by the wise woman was now passed only from father to son. The Rod of Asclepius- a serpent entwined staff is still the symbol of medicine and healing today.
By now I am sure you have realised the uncanny link between the name Coronis and the Corona Virus… could it be that the virus is directing us to conscious self-care and the innate intelligence of our own bodies? Is it time for the return of the shamanic wise woman and… realistically can we continue to live without her?
On the other hand the fear surrounding the Corona virus may legitimise further pharmaceutical and medical intervention. Afterall, we are dealing with the serpent mysteries that can either heal or destroy.
In the new moon chart asteroid Coronis sits at 16 degrees of Pisces conjunct Neptune at 19 degrees. Neptune or Poseidon is also strongly involved with the serpent mysteries- the original shrine at Delphi was shared by Poseidon and Gaia, and he also features in the myth of Medusa, causing her banishment from the temple of Athena and her terrible transformation into the serpent headed gorgon.
In astrology Neptune rules Pisces and is associated with qualities such as intuition, sensitivity, psychic abilities, and spiritual enlightenment, however as with all planets there is a shadow side too and in the case of Neptune may induce confusion, trickery, escapism, illusion and generally an obscuration of reality.
Are things really as they seem?
In the Oracle of Delphi, carved above the door is the phrase “Know thyself”. Today it is information that has reached pandemic levels, there is so much information and misinformation out there causing mass confusion and panic. My advice is to go inside to your inner knowing… turn away from reactionary responses, breathe, take time, and consult your inner wise woman or man.
The serpent, strongly symbolised in this new moon chart, has the power to heal or destroy. When Athena gives Asclepius the blood from the severed head of Medusa, he separates it into two vials- one that has the power to kill and the other to restore life.
Pharmakon, a Greek word which means both medicine and poison is linked with the serpent mysteries of resurrection and healing- as is Asclepius. A ‘Pharmakeus’ is a magician or sorcerer who works with this magic, and the ‘Pharmakos’ is the scapegoat who may be sacrificed in the process.
Questions to contemplate in our own inner temple these coming weeks and months include -what is healing and what is poison in our lives individually and collectively? In whose interest are these powers administered? Who benefits and who is the scapegoat?
As we advance further into scientific knowledge, technology, biomedicine, and genetics, worthy of consideration are the consequences of this Promethean power and the implications on our relationship with the natural world including our own bodies. In a culture that appears to esteem mastery over nature, and where it seems that the natural world and the natural human are endangered species, perhaps now is the time to reclaim the wise woman and the serpent mysteries of renewal.
Calling the Pythia Priestesses- the ones who are able to deeply connect with the chthonic and telluric energies of the land, the ones who open their bodies as receptacles of cosmic wisdom and the secrets of heaven and earth, the ones who listen to their own truth through shamanic awareness and abilities. To those who embrace the wisdom of renewal, the integration of the dark and light, life and death and the art of resurrection, we call you.
Canterbury Moon Lodge will take place on Tuesday 24th March in a without words medicine walk with drum along the banks of the River Stour under the new moon, and the winking eye of Medusa.