Monday, October 13, 2014

Libra - the Meaning of The Scales

Libra is distinct amongst the signs for two reasons. The first, is that it is the only man made or inanimate object or zodiac symbol. Secondly, in the ancient world, Libra did not appear as a separate sign until very late. The word zodiac means circle of animals and souls, so quite clearly when the very name zodiac was born, the Scales were not included.

In ancient astrology the 30 degrees now Libras domain belonged to Scorpio. In ancient times there were only 11 signs in the zodiac, 10 covering 30 degrees (as all signs do now) and Scorpio covering 60 degrees twice as many as it does today.

When the ancients looked up into the sky they saw the Scales. However they were seen as either the claws of the Scorpion, or else the scales of Astrea, Goddess Justice, part of the constellation of Virgo. It was not until later that Libra became a constellation in its own right. Thus, Librans to this day are said to be able to lose themselves into others lives or relationships.

In old star maps, the Scales are depicted as Astrea, Goddess of Justice. She is depicted holding a sword in one hand, scales in the other. This is a symbol that is well known and associated with most judicial systems around the western world. It is her figure that is seen outside court buildings. The constellation of Libra (the Scales) lies very close to Virgo. But it is as the Goddess of agriculture, grain and harvest that Astrea is best known, so it is to Virgo that she belongs. As Goddess of Justice she was said to weigh the souls of men after death to determine their moral worth. It was she who determined whether they should go to the Elysian Fields, where they could enjoy eternal happiness, or be sent to the Underworld for redemption.

Libra was seen as the Chelae or claws long before they were identified as the Scales, representing balance. Libra did not become a constellation in its own right until Roman times. Then the claws were referred to as Jugum, the Voke or beam of balance. The most accepted theory is that she was transformed into the Scales because the Sun goes into the constellation of Libra on the autumn equinox, a time when day and night are balanced. The first time history records the mention of Libra is when Caesar (Pontifex Maximus) instigated the Julian calendar. Thus, the Romans claim to have created Libra.

The Romans liked the notion of balance implied by the Scales. In fact, they believed that Rome was founded when the Moon was in the Constellation of Libra. They thought that the balance and order that Libra brought, represented their idea of how society should be. They did not think that Libra belonged with the dangerous energy of Scorpio, rather the gentle energy of Virgo and Astrea.

In 43 BC a comet appeared in the constellation of Libra. Shortly after, in September, Caesar was assassinated and it was said that the comet carried his soul to heaven.

Whichever constellation Libra is now associated with, the group of stars that form Libra have been associated with the judgement of the living and dead as far back as 2,000 BC in Babylonia. There they were seen as Zabanitu, who weighed the souls of the deceased.

The name Libra comes from the Libyan Goddess of Holy Law who carried the scales of judgement. In Egypt she was Maat, the spirit of equilibrium, justice and truth. The Egyptians saw in Libra a set of scales they called the Scales of Maat. It was said that she weighed each human heart after death. A feather was put onto one side of the scales and the human heart on the other. If the heart was too heavy, the soul would return to earth and reincarnate until it was light enough for final liberation.

The Greeks mingled the stars of Libra and Scorpio together and the Scales were not recorded again until Roman times.

The stars of Libra have also been associated with an alter on a mound and with the Tower of Babel in the distant past. Also, as the lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and appeared as a great lamp between the Scorpions claws.

Throughout the Mediterranean, the birthplace of Astrology, the time of year ruled by Libra, harvest is a time when the weighing of crops was performed. In fact, it was ritual in many cultures to weigh the crops under the Full Moon that fell while the Sun was in Libra.

The ancient Chinese called this constellation Show Sing (or star of longevity), later to be changed to Tien Ching (the Celestial Balance). The appearance of the Constellation of Libra happened at a time of year when the annual regulation of weights was made by Chinese law.

In ancient India, they called the constellation of Libra Tula (balance) and they depicted the constellation as a man bent on one knee holding a set of scales aloft.

Libra is the constellation of the Scales. They are a symbol of harmony, balance, rights and justice. Libra lies between The Virgin and the Scorpion. The Sun passes into Libra around 23rd September each year, a date when the days and nights are of equal length.

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