June’s full moon occurs at 26° degrees Sagittarius on Monday the 17th, at 4:31 a.m. EDT. Sagittarius is the mutable fire sign ruled by Jupiter, and is all about philosophy, adventure, travel, learning, luck, expansion and change. The sign’s symbol is the centaur, specifically the famous “Wounded Healer”, Chiron. Chiron happens to be one of my favorite mythological figures, as a centaur, healer and teacher, and much about his story and energy can be applied any time the Moon is in his sign. I especially love it when a new or full moon occurs on Monday, as it is literally “Moon’s Day”, and therefore the lunar energies seem, at least to me, to be heightened.
While this full moon outwardly carries all the energies of mutable, changeable Air and Fire – Sun in Gemini and Moon in Sagittarius – of course, as usual, it also carries energies and messages of Water, as it is ever tugging and pushing at the tides of the planet as well as our own inner emotional tides.
This Moon also precedes, by just a few days, the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) in which the Sun enters the watery cardinal sign of Cancer. We’ll get into that later this week but, for now, the message of Water for this warm, fiery full moon comes from the beautiful and complex Lamia…
In this version of Waterhouse’s depiction of the mythological Lamia (the other was painted four years later and features Lamia alone gazing into the water), she is kneeling at the feet of her beloved Lycius, a Corinthian youth. As related in John Keats’ exquisite lyric poem Lamia (inspired by an account of Apollonius of Tyana and which in turn inspired Waterhouse’s paintings), she helped the god Hermes find the nymph he loved and sought in exchange for being returned to her human form so she could woo the object of her own affections, Lycius.
She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d;
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolv’d, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries—
So rainbow-sided, touch’d with miseries,
She seem’d, at once, some penanced lady elf,
Some demon’s mistress, or the demon’s self.
Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire
Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne’s tiar:
Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet!
She had a woman’s mouth with all its pearls complete:
And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there
But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?
As Proserpine still weeps for her Sicilian air.
Her throat was serpent, but the words she spake
Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love’s sake,
And thus; while Hermes on his pinions lay,
Like a stoop’d falcon ere he takes his prey.John Keats, “Lamia” 1820
is a figure who has fascinated me for as long as I can remember, certainly ever
since I first read about her. While she is shown here as very human, beautifully
delicate, loving, and altogether harmless, with her serpentine nature only
being hinted at by the snakeskin draped suggestively around her, she is more
famously known as a monstrous femme fatale who fed on babies and upon young men
whom she first seduced. Yet there is far more to her than that.
As a woman, particularly a Pagan woman, I often have a soft spot for any female “demon” from mythology and folklore, as it is well known that many goddesses and powerful, autonomous women have been reduced (and usually by Judeo-Christian traditions and the patriarchy) to wanton, devouring whores and monsters. However, they are rarely, if ever, as one-sided as all that. In the case of Lamia, she first fell victim to the appetites of Zeus and then to the vengeance of his wife Hera before becoming the serpentine villain of myths, legends and poems.
I can all too easily relate, indeed deeply empathize, with the involuntary transformative effects that one woman can experience at the traitorous or vilifying hand of another. Especially since experiencing such circumstances in my life, much have I reflected on the creation of a “villain”, and what drives one to transform into something perceived as a demon, a monster, a seemingly indiscriminate destroyer.
Is it so simple? The trend of villain “origin stories”, such as the book Wicked and movies like Maleficent and the upcoming Joker, illustrates that it is not so simple and that nothing and no one is simply born a monster or a villain; they are somehow driven to it.
Hera’s jealous wrath, while somewhat understandable, is what turned Lamia into a child-devouring, night-prowling serpent. Yet anyone who has read more than a few Greek myths involving Hera and her insatiably philandering husband Zeus knows that her fury would have been far better directed at him than at his hapless maiden conquests, particularly as they had very little, if any, choice in the affair.
It may be argued then that Hera was responsible for inflicting such a beast upon the world. Should we perhaps blame the villain far less than the person or circumstance which made them a villain in the first place? Or do we still hold them accountable for what they have become?
I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle and is one of the great mysteries of the course of life, fate, choice (or the lack thereof) and what makes us who and what we are. Not to mention the mystery of the truth that who and what we are can and does change far more than we might think or even like to believe.
We very strongly identify with whatever our current ego or perception of ourselves is at any point in our lives and, for better or worse, we are often afraid of or even affronted about the prospect of changing or being changed. Sometimes we change without even realizing it. The first thing we need to do is fully understand and accept that change is inevitable, and even horrible circumstances and changes can lead to great learning, growth and to a great new self altogether.
So, on this emotional full moon in mutable Sagittarius, illuminated by the sun in mutable Gemini, the theme is adaptability, and the overall message displayed in this card, from the ever shifting, changing and adapting element of water, is to…
Embrace the changes thrust upon you, but do not let them define you. Choose what changes you can that benefit you, and weather the storms and sea changes with the ability to shift and ebb and flow as the tides. You can never stay the same, as water cannot or it will stagnate and putrefy.
Ultimately, we are water. We have so much water in us, both literally and figuratively in the form of emotion. We are ruled by our emotions but we can rule and control them too. We need water, inside and out, and we need our emotions but they are a double-edged sword.
In some versions of the myth, Hera ruthlessly either killed Lamia’s children or somehow forced Lamia to kill them herself, and then turned her into a demonic serpent that would hunt and eat others’ children in her rage.
Sometimes horrible things happen to us and so we want to respond in kind and do horrible things. I know the desire for vengeance and seemingly cathartic destruction all too well. Anyone who has been hurt enough does. But we can still choose our reactions and we can still determine who and what we will be.
We can be shapeshifters, like Lamia. We can shed old skins like a snake, and we can take on new forms. Sometimes our forms will be changed involuntarily, as she originally was. But Keats’ poem reveals the beautiful human and lover in Lamia. That part of us is never lost no matter what we suffer, unless we choose to let it be lost.
I love it when a card featuring a complementary male and female pair comes up for these lunations. Lycius may be seen to represent the male Sun in Gemini, and the ability to choose changes and forms by the removal of his armor, which has much literal as well as symbolic meaning. The female Moon in passionate Sagittarius is represented by Lamia and the snake form that she actually cannot really change at will, as it is now an inherent part of who she is and it required the help of a god – Hermes, who rules Gemini, in fact and bears his serpentine caduceus – for her to return to her human form so she may pursue her love.
Let us also take from this the need to ask for help, to have faith in ourselves and in the divine and the nature we share with the divine. We all have guides, allies, ancestors and even deities, (whatever our exact understanding of and belief in them may be) that can and will help us if we but ask.
So, let this full moon in the wise, exploring, healing and learning Sagittarius teach us to be mutable, to learn to adapt, to study and explore and expand our minds and our spirits so we may better weather those storms and changes and gain the power to even choose changes for ourselves. Some change is a choice, some is not. But who we are and who we become is always in our own hands.
© 2019 Meredith Everwhite – All Rights Reserved