Days are getting longer. Winds are picking up. Green shoots and buds unfurl from earth and branch. Spring, tentative though it may be in the high deserts of New Mexico, is here. So is the astrological season of the fiery ram.
These last days of March are fertile ground to learn from both actual bighorn sheep, which folks around here are sure to know from the herds that roam the gorge, ski valley and other mountains in the Sangres, and the ram, Aries, in astrology.
In her 2005 book about desert bighorn sheep, the late writer Ellen Meloy says, "I am accustomed to seeing them whenever I look, but is this experience trustworthy? These sheep…are half flesh, half phantom. I witness them with astonishing calm and abject panic."
The sun moved out of the dizzying, emotional waters of Pisces and into the hotter, faster and testier realm of Aries Tuesday (March 20). Happy birthday to all y'all Aries.
When a person is born, the sun and other planets of importance to astrology sit in one of the twelve signs in the astrological zodiac. The history of newspaper horoscopes has given the sun particular importance in popular imagination. Most people call the position of the sun their "sign," though the moon and ascendant, or rising sign, are revealing, too.
The sun will spend until April 19 in the astrological sign of Aries, although our star passes in front of the actual constellation of Aries from mid-April to mid-May. The discrepancy is caused by the multi-thousand-year wobble of the earth on its axis.
In Greek mythology, Aries represents the story of the sentient ram that was sacrificed by Zeus after a rescue operation. It's pelt became the Golden Fleece, a powerful charm later stolen by Jason. But the symbology of the ram -- coming spring, virility and a burst of movement after winter's slumber -- stretches back further than that and across a much larger geography.
The constellation itself is fairly basic: fewer than five bright stars constitute the backbone of the pattern known as the ram. It's home to the Arietids, a mostly daytime meteor shower that peaks in early June.
In astrology, the sun is exalted in Aries, meaning the orb is at its strongest point in the year and people born with an Aries sun benefit from the vigorous energy of this placement. To nail that down further, you could say the soul's overarching aim in this world is especially defined for those with an Aries sun.
While making its transit through Aries, the sun will face a square from Saturn in Capricorn next week (March 29), a challenge that could seem to be demanding discipline rather than a mad dash toward summer. But after April rolls around, a few conjunctions (where the sun and another planet meet in the sky), notably with Uranus only a day before the sun moves into Taurus, are sure to keep revealing the subtle layers of Aries the ram.