THE ODYSSEY: FROM HUBRIS TO ARETE

Odysseus was one of the Achaens, a character in the Illiad. What puts Odysseus aside from the others is his intelligence and curiosity. At Troy he used his intelligence for destruction, inventing the Trojan horse. Yet, as we always say in Astrology, intelligence is a neutral quality. Once can use it to do good or evil. In the Illiad he was young and selfish, only aimed at destruction and grabbing gold and slaves. The Odyssey tells us how such a fool can transform into a wise man.

The Olympian gods who favour and help Odysseus are Athena and Hermes. They are both related with the Mind, Metis: humans’ innate ability to find a solution, to make a tool, to create. The Fool Odysessus has to understand that human civilization is founded on Metis and Arete, not his style slash and burn. Thankfully he does and we have a guideline to work with. Almost all Achaen leaders meet tragic ends such as Agamennon. What about our man, Odyssesus ? I guess he was the luckiest. With his human potential, abilities, curiosity and witt, he was able to go through the tests of each place and come back home. Perhaps curiosity, intelligence and ability to make tools are still what makes us humans and helps us survive the storms of the world.

“Journey of Odysseus equals to our inner journey in the labyrinth of life”. The hardships we go through in life lead us into our own journey of becoming our old and wise selves, who we have always been but was never councious of, this, perhaps is akin to the Jungian individuation.

Odysseus travels through 12 islands, Herakles has to complete 12 quests. Then, we have 12 Signs in the Zodiac. These signs, islands or quests, resemble what we need to go through, the phases of growth in order to “be” who we are meant to be. This is a journey of growth, from acorn to oak and decay, from oak to ashes and the endless circle (Kirke) of Life. This is what the Zodiac is all about.

How does it relate to a birth chart?

We read a birthchart in order to have a sight of what fate the Gods have written for a mortal at the hour of his birth. Each chart is about an incarnation. Anything that begins has a chart. A birth chart is the chart of a life but there are cycles within cycles and each cycle could be found inside a larger one.

When we are looking at a birthchart, we are looking at the cycle of this particular life which began in the given space and moment in time. When we look at the chart from the lens of the Odyssey, we can see how the chart owner goes through the journey of life. So, reading a chart this way becomes “a personal Odyssey”. Though, it is always easier to read a story then to live it and be its hero.

In Hellenistic Astrology we percieve life as a journey and the individual as the one going through this journey which leads to knowledge of Self: it begins in ignorance and ends in Arete. We see the natal chart as a ship. The planets and other information in the chart gives us clues about this ship and its journey. The chart shows us the qualities and crew of this ship as well as weather conditions and the winds it recieves.

The Journey: Houses of the Horoscope and Odysseus’ Route

The ancients divided the Heavens into twelve places and named them “signs” and “houses”. When an astrologer looks at the sky she sees six slices…. Six houses above and six houses below. Each house is a sign. Each sign covers 30 degrees in the sky. 360 degrees, the Wheel of Life (Zodiac) covers everything that was, that is and that will ever be.

Each house corresponds to a sign and bears its theme. It is simple, the phases of life are re-told through the signs of houses. The Zodiac is all about the cycle of life: birth, death and rebirth; the Everflow: Life Undestructable.

Aries, The First House: Thrace

Our story begins at where we are still glorius, full of self-confidence, a conquerer of the world. Here is Thrace, very close to Troy, where Odysseus feels self-confident, as a great warrior he assumes himself to be. The “I” is here with an intention to seperate itself from the rest of the world. This place shows us our relationship with the world. How do we see the world, how the others see us ? Our persona, the mask we show to the world.

Here in Thrace, at the land of the Kikons, Odysseus bears the persona of a warrior (First House is the house of Aries anyway) and quite a powerful one, a hero, a conquerer, all the winds of glory are about him. For him the world is still to be explored and conquered. Yet at his very first contact with the world he loses 6 of his men. The world responds in the same way as he acts. Here is a relationship, our relationship with the world. Odysseus’ relationship with the world was all about bringing war and murder, so he recieves what he brings in.

Taurus, Second House: Lotus Eaters

In the Second House we encounter the merry Lotus Eaters who blithely offer us some lotus, too, how kind! Here is the realm of comfortable Taurus. Comforts of life, the sweet things intend to keep us away from our adventure and home. Odysseus could live happily ever after in this island. We can live with what we have, with what we have brought with ourself. We may never wish to explore more. This I believe is called conformism. W emay choose not to explore, not to grow but stay where we are without much trouble. Second House is what we have without much trouble. What we have in our pocket, what is offered to us freely. Yet the planets in the Second House themselves tend to be lotus eaters. One needs to activate them, work on them and update them regularly. Otherwise the planets in this house tend to lay dormant.

Gemini, Third House: Cyclopes

Third House is the Mind, mental qualities, how we think, how we use our mind. Odysseus wins against the Cyclope thanks to his witts: when Odysseus introduces himself to the Cyclope, he says “I am nobody” and this saves him from the other Cyclopes’ attack.

Third House also marks the duality of Mind: wild and the one with the tool, organic mind and the logical mind, intuition and logic; perhaps right brain and left brain. Cyclopes are a wild folk with out customs or laws. Odyessus is the civilized man against the primitive man. The Mind is also twofold.

Cancer, Fourth House: Island of Aiolos

Fourth House gives us shelter. This is where our roots, past and biological karma lie. Fourth House also shows our home and family. What Odysseus experience in the Island of Aiolos does not really cover all the themes of the Fourth House. Yet he is sheltered in here and with great generousity of the Lord of the Winds, he is given a gift, a lambskin of bad winds whihc he could use to help him get home.

When we arrive at the Fourth House, we arrive at our eternal home, the womb of the Earth. Where we come from, our biological and psychological roots, ancestors and our past is in here.

Leo, Fifth House: The Gift

Here we arrive at the Fifth House, this is a place for the ego. Here is our scene, where we feel relaxed and have fun. In this house we express our soul and creativity. This is a place we can consciously control. It is called “House of Good Luck” by the ancients. Yet, for Odysseus it is quite a place of bad luck because he is still in the process of purification from the ego.

Aiolos is a lord of the winds. While leaving his island, he gifts Odysseus a lambskin filled with bad winds so Odysseus and use these winds when he needs them. Yet, his men doubt Odysseus’ honesty. They gossip that Aoilos must have given him treasures which is Odysseus must be hiding inside the lambskin. Doubt, worry and distrust works its way as usual, they break open the lambskin and let the bad winds out… The winds throw the ships back to Aiolos’ island… and Aiolos orders them to leave at once for they must be cursed by the gods.

Virgo, Sixth House: Laistrygons

Aiolos makes Odysseus and his ships leave his island. The ships set sail once again, presumebly homeward. They arrive at a port where Night meets Day. We can interpret this as the point of sunset, the western horizon where day and night meet. In astrological terms, we call the western horizon “the Descendant” where the Sun descends to the Underworld (23 September). When Odysseus and his men arrive at this place they come across a maiden who carries pure water from the Bear Fountain. Enough Virgo symbolism? Maiden (Kore), amphora, pure water, fountain (water source, source of Life) and Bear are all very ancient symbols of the Goddess.

Here dwell Laistrogonians, cannibalist giants. Another folk lesser in civilization, similar to the cyclopes, a form of primitive humans who do not even communicate but just attack like wild animals. Could this be the destructive side of Odysseus himself ? In here, Odysseus does not even have a chance to use his fabled witts.

In the sixth house we do not have much choice. Here is the house of service, preparation and things that weaken us. This is not a place where we can express our ego or spirit freely but we do the deeds we are rather bound to do. Here is also a place of preparation, making tools, getting ready, fixing, bettering, improving our tools and ourselves. In this place Odysseus is weakened. He has to let go of his other ships and many men in order to survive. He escapes from this island with only his ship and men in this ship.

Libra, Seventh House: Aeae

The Ancient Greek philosophy is based on opposites: Physis and Nomos, Nature and Law. In Homer, we have Nature and Man. The wild gods, who send storms, make things harder (Poseidon) and the Mind (Athena, Hermes) who help the humans go through this journey. Kirke who has extraordinary powers but can be bound by an oath (simplest form of a contract ?) resembles the unyielding forces of nature and humans’ ability to bind them and make a friendship with them. Kirke, who at first seems to be a dangerous and inhospitable sorceress, changes her behaviour totally when she is forced to take the oath of the Gods on not harming Odysseus.

Kirke is not an equal, this is emphasized by the definition of her exalted throne. When we are in the Seventh House, we are in the house of the Other. The Other, people who we come across occupy the Seventh House and they have the power until we bind them with contracts. All kinds of partnerships, enemies, marriages, one to one relationships fall in this realm. Here we meet the Other.

Scorpio, Eighth House: Hades

Kirke advises Odysseus to visit the Underworld (Hades), Land of the Dead and consult the spirit of an oracle. Journeying to the Underworld and coming back is the most classical theme in myths. Not everyone can do that.

The Eighth House is the house of Transformation, Death and Rebirth.

Sagittairus, Ninth House: Sirens

After their journey to the Underworld, Odysseus comes back to Kirke’s island. Kirke advises him about the journey ahead. She tells him how to go pass the sirens: distraction.

The Ninth House is the place where we expand our horizon and have faith in ourselves and the world. Yet, being the house of Sagittarius, expading can also mean scattered attention. Sirens are about attention, they call sailors to their heart’s desire, whatever it may be. This looks like a shortcut, a hypnotic way to happiness, but it is not, it only leads to decay. Kirke advises Odysseus to tie himself to the mast and deafen our abilities to the call of sweet comfort.

The mast is the vertical line in the chart, from IC to MC, Midheaven. Midheaven (MC) is the purpose, the direction of the chart. We come from the IC (the Nadir, the darkest and deepest point in the Sky, our past, ancestors) to the Medium Coeli, the middle of the Sky, where the island of Helios Hyperion is. Ancient Greeks called the Sun “Helios Hyperion” when it was conjunct the MC, at the moment of the noon, when it is in the highest place in the Sky for that day.

When you hear the call of the sirens, you can choose to stick to the mast: Remember and stay true to your only purpose.

No matter what calls to us, we need to stick to the mast, hold on to our purpose. Otherwise our ship can crush on the rocks, wrecking our efforts along with itself.

Capricorn and Aquarius Tenth and Eleventh Houses: Scylla and Charybdis

Both promise destruction and going down the Abyss. Yet, if one can pass between them, one can reach the greatest place, the place of Helios Hyperion, the highest point: Medium Coeli.

Tenth House is our career, reputation and also what we give to the world. Odysseus has to sacrifice six of his men to Scylla, the devouring sea monster.

After passing Scylla, the ship of Odysseus reaches at the Island of Helios Hyperion. Here is where we have to give up the material world, perhaps behave almost like an angel, the Sky, celestial levels are the dwelling of the angels anyway. That is why Odysseus and his man must never slay the cattles of the Sun. Yet, his men fall to hunger. They slay a cattle in this island and cook it. Again, the “human side” intervenes and our Odysseus meets his curse.Hence the wrath of the gods find them and Zeus destroys the ship soon after it sets sail to Ithaca…

Odysseus somehow survives and finds himself thrown back to the strait of Scylla and Charibdys…

Charibdys, ruling the tides and the flow of water, resembles Aquarius, therefore I will interpret this scene as the Eleventh House where we build up our future and also it is the house of the Good Spirit, which explains Odysseus’ extraordinary luck in this scene. Here is where we think about and invent our future. Also this place is about dreams, hopes and wishes; though I do not suppose Odysseus could wish anything other than survival at this point!

Pisces, Twelveth House: Ogygia

In the Twelveth House we are just a fish in the Sea. Here is the Unconcious, totally unknown, dark area.

From now on Odysseus lives in the mercy of the Gods. Calipso hosts him without an oath until Hermes comes along and tells him to make a raft. Under the mercy of Poseidon and help of Athena he arrives at the island of King Alkinoos and Queen Arete. Here he is welcomed as a guest and he tells all the story.

Twelveth House is where we need to surrender and serve the collective or take up a mission and only work for that mission.

Now we arrive back to the Ascendant but it is impossible to cross this line.

Alkinoos’ people deliver Odysseus back to the mortal world and get punished for this, their ship and men inside turn to stone, for they had been warned by the gods that they should never help humans pass between the worlds… The Twelveth House is Eternity, everything that does not belong in our material world. Now Odysseus back in our world and he has a new life to save.

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