Getting to know Sagittarius

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We’ve just entered the season of Sagittarius, the bow-hunting centaur!

When people talk about astrology and say, “Oh, I’m a Sagittarius,” they are usually talking about the sun and its position in one of the 12 signs of the zodiac on their birthday. In astrology, the Sagittarius season begins today (Nov. 22) and will last until Dec. 21.

Today, the sun’s transit through the actual constellation of Sagittarius is longer than its monthlong transit through the astrological sign of the centaur.

The constellation is one of the 88 in modern astronomy that stretch across the entire sky. The sun will pass in front of Sagittarius from mid-December through mid-January. But first, the sun has to make its way through the constellations of Scorpio (for a week) and Ophiuchus (from Nov. 30 to Dec. 17), according to EarthSky.org.

The constellation comes from ancient Sumeria (current day Iraq) and represents a centaur, a being with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse. As the Greeks adopted and adapted the constellation, Sagittarius came to have several mythological associations. Some pin the centaur to Cortus, son of the satyr and sexual harasser Pan. Other versions of the Sagittarius story consider it the centaur Chiron — the cave-dwelling mentor and healer — though he has another constellation, Centaurus.

But the centaurs have made their way back into our modern culture. Millennials and fiction lovers, you remember the no-nonsense bravery and intelligence of Firenze, the centaur and divination teacher from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. In the power structure of magical society, the centaurs were considered less than human, yet they repeatedly saved the day.

Sagittarius is also the zodiacal archer, or bow hunter in today’s parlance.

The power of the centaur is understanding humanity’s atavistic tendencies — that is, the understanding that we all have our dark qualities and warring predilections. When honored, we can do honor to the wisdom of old forms of knowledge. When left unchecked, we carry on, ignorant of the injustice, hurt and devastation we leave behind.

In astrology, Sagittarius is a fire sign, meaning people with the sun, moon or their rising sign in Sagittarius can be feisty, quick to speak and big on visions for their lives, professions and society. As a mutable sign, Sagittarius folks can go with the flow of what’s already in motion, even if it’s speeding up or slowing down.

Jupiter, the bountiful planetary ruler of Sagittarius, is spending the next year in the emotionally deep but expansive sign of Scorpio. This means now is a prime time to revisit our best, most sincere visions and tap into the strength, skills and insight needed to make them a reality.

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