Ophiuchus always felt like an outsider constellation to me. I studied the stars as a child and I can’t remember ever hearing about “The Serpent Holder/Bearer, Ophiuchus.” Was he even there? He must have been…unless this is some sort of Mandela Effect where the constellation didn’t exist in the reality that I came from.
But never mind that…back to Ophiuchus.
Who was he?
The Serpent Bearer once had a different name, he was Asclepius, the God of Healing/patron of doctors and medicine to the ancient Greeks. Asclepius was the son of Apollo and a mortal woman named, Coronis.
Coronis made the silly mistake of having a human lover, too. Bad Coronis. She got shot down while pregnant, by either Apollo or Artemis. Apollo saved the child with a cesarean done right there on the funeral pyre. But the kid was okay and Apollo brought the baby boy to the famous centaur, Chiron, to raise for him.
Chiron taught the boy medicine. Asclepius had a great bedside manner and not just with people, either. He did a snake a good turn and the serpent licked his ears and gave him wisdom and secret knowledge (apparently about healing and resurrection.) Thereafter, Asclepius carried a staff or rod wreathed with a snake. This is not to be confused with the Caduceus, symbol of transformation and modern medicine. The Caduceus is Mercury’s symbol with two serpents entwined around a winged staff.
Asclepius did well for himself. His doctoring skills surpassed Chiron’s (the wounded healer in Astrology) and Apollo’s. Eventually, he wasn’t just healing people, he was able to resurrect them too. At least once. And that got him into a whole boatload of trouble with Zeus and Hades. That was the last act for the super-doctor, he got a thunderbolt to the body and a free escort to the land of the dead.
Apollo got mad. This was his son, after all. In retribution he killed the cyclops smiths that forged Zeus’ thunderbolts. Zeus retaliated and things got a little ugly for Apollo for the next year. Asclepius, meanwhile, was placed amongst the stars as Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer.
Some stories say that Zeus resurrected Asclepius and made him an immortal god to sooth things over with Apollo. However, this was done with the strict proviso that Asclepius would never, ever, revive the dead again…not without Zeus’ approval anyway.
Asclepius had eight kids with his wife, Epione. These included daughters: Meditrina, Hygeia and Panacea (the symbols of medicine, hygiene and “all healing,” respectively.) Two of his sons, Machaon and Podalirius, appear in Homer’s Illiad as physicians in the Greek army.
So there you have it. Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, was once the Greek God of Healing.
What does that say about the coming Age? According to astronomy writer, Ian Ridpath, “the Sun spends more time in Ophiuchus than it does in neighboring Scorpius. Hence Ophiuchus is sometimes referred to as the 13th sign of the zodiac.”
So why was Ophiuchus astrologically neglected before now?
I have no answer. But perhaps the peaceful Age of Aquarius wants a Healer in its astrological line-up.
Or maybe it’s a dirty trick to inject some sort of confusion into the traditional astrological system. (Some people consider the number thirteen bad luck, after all.) With Ophiuchus’ arrival all the other astrological signs get shoved out of their regular places. This means, for example, that I’m no longer a Libra but a Virgo instead.
Nope. No can do. That’s way too messy. I’m not sure I can tolerate something like that….
Hold on…that’s being overly critical…very much like a Virgo…hmmm.