On a recent hike, I was surrounded by snakes. They were only little ones, really, garter snakes, that would slither out of the path and alert me of their presence by the rustling of leaves. The biggest fear is when they don’t move, as one did, laying itself horizontally in front of the dirt trail, still as the dead. It is only when my partner slowly approached the body that it slithered out of the way, making me yelp and step back with a start.
We also watched a bumblebee slovenly hop from flower and flower and I found out that bumblebees do in fact have hives, they just burrow in the ground instead of in boxes or trees. I also thought about how, really, I have more to fear from bumblebees, who can sting me, than garter snakes, who aren’t even venomous.
On Thursday, the Moon conjoined Praesepe, the Manger star in Cancer, also known as the “Beehive Cluster”. Its name comes from its appearance; rather than being one, Praesape is a “a swarm of stars in a dance of activity” that appear as a cloudy patch to the individual.Bees have have a ghostly meaning to them because in the Orphic tradition, they were connected to the soul— both of them migrated and arose in swarms from “divine unity”. In China, Praesepe was part of Kuei, a Lunar Mansion whose names translates to “Spirit or Carriage of Ghosts”.
The Chinese also called Praesepe Tsi-Chi, or “Piled-up Corpses” referring to the moment the soul leaves the body.But in India, this cluster was part of a constellation symbolized by a cow’s udder, called “Nourishing” and ruled by a god of blossoming, good fortune, prayer, speech and wisdom. I am reminded of the old phrase “go tell it to the bees,” which meant you were supposed to inform the bees of any births, deaths, or significant events lest they fly away.
Bees, like snakes, seem to be present during during moments of transition. But they are also indicative of ““industry, creative activity and wealth” in Egypt and "diligence and eloquence” in Christian symbolism. Perhaps these bees confer gifts at these crucial junctures, special potions or abilities to ferry us through the next liminal period, if our soul is judged worthy.
We are currently between eclipses; one week from the Solar Eclipse that has just passed and one week until the Lunar Eclipse is coming to be. Eclipses are represented as the heads and tail of the dragon blocking out the lights of the sky. They are periods of change, a sudden advancement or revelation in our narrative. Pay attention to the gifts or secret corners you’ve gained sight of in the past week or so. What has changed and how are you keeping it together, or not? If you’re going through a particukar upheaval, perhaps it’s time to update the bees.
Wandering Through the Terms
There are many ways to divide up the 360º wheel of the sky but one of the coolest to me right now are the terms.
Put simply, each sign has five terms, one for each planet minus the Sun and the Moon, in random order, of irregular size. The first 8º of Taurus, according to Valens, are ruled by Venus; from 8-14º Mercury is the term ruler, Jupiter from 14-22º, Saturn to 22-27º, and finally Mars rules from 27-30º. You can see all the terms of the zodiac in the table below:
There are many potential uses and frameworks for using the terms, or bounds as they are sometimes called, but for now let’s focus on one use and one meaning. First, find the the term of your ascendent by using its degree. If you were born when 6º of Pisces was rising, your term or bound ruler is Venus. 23º Virgo and your term ruler is Mars.
I recently found this tweet from The Astrologer’s Encyclopedia, quoting Robert Schmidt, that gives us a way to interpret the terms:
In the above quote, Robert Schmidt says to treat the bound lords like judges evaluating how well a planet has conducted themself. A lot of Hellenistic astrology sees the planets as witnesses that can give testimony on the conduct of other planets based on their ability to see them (i.e. form an aspect). In the case of the ascendant, it is how you yourself— your body your conduct, your style, your actions— are judged. Let’s examine the five bounds lords through this lens:
Venus: lentiently; Venus’s qualities are cool and moist, but airy, like a cool breeze on a hot day or rose salve on sunburned skin. But she’s also perceived at warming if you’re too cold. In Medical Astrology, Venus relaxes and beautifies, and normalizes. She brings comfort and enjoyment, often making the part of the body she rules in your chart extra attractive. Venus doesn’t like to break up the party or spoil someone’s good time, like a “cool” parent. Having an ascendant under Venus’s terms might make you luxurious, more open-minded, mirthful, and permissive with your conduct.
Jupiter: justly; Jupiter is less concerned with the immediate good time and more concerned with systems: schools of thought, codes of ethics, spiritual laws. Jupiter conducts its behavior with what benefits the big picture or builds lasting bonds— which may mean putting up a boundary or saying no in the meantime. Accordingly, those born with an ascendant in Jupiter’s terms are judged according to how well they live up to their inner code, turn towards or away from their chosen gods.
Mars: harshly; Mars is the hottest and driest planet. It is irritating, and in medical astrology often indicates, acute, feverish or abrupt injuries— bees stings, rashes, broken bones, accidents. That’s because Mars moves quickly and jaggedly. He jumps to conclusions and harsh speech. Also consider: under times of exception, like wars, survival is put above fairness, especially when the wrong move can get you killed. That is the place where Mars is attuned. Mars as the term ruler can make you ruthless or quick to judge but it can also make you effective, concise and punk as fuck.
Saturn: strictly; This planet differs from Mars, the other malefic, in its coldness. Too low a temperature immobilizes and tightens the body, makes it harder to move. Saturn does not judge rashly but narrowly, following very specific standards. It may take a while to feel like you can live up to your own expectations if you have an ascendant in Saturn’s bounds. Sometimes it may feel impossible and if it becomes a habit your inner critic will always find something wrong with your human attempts. But in the process, you gain actual experience and skill tested against the limits of your body and this earth.
Mercury: This planet is the only one that can be benefic or malefic, depending on its position in the chart. What that means is: Mercury is a trickster. They like to joke, play games, maybe lie for fun. You can’t pin them down. Though we take “shrewd” to mean cunning or discerning, it comes from the 13th century shrewe "wicked man”. There’s a tinge of self-interest and possible deception in calling a person shrewd. To be judged by such a figure is not to be held to the lofty visions of Jupiter but the wiliness of the cosmos’s favorite lock-picker. How cleverly and effectively did you maneuver yourself through a situation? Did you use your wits and skills, your oratic ability? Mercury would like to know.
Spend time considering your term ruler if it pleases you.
Until next week,
Diana Rosenberg, “Secrets of the Ancient Skies”, p. 488
I also love the terms! Thanks for all your thoughts <3 your substack is one I look forward to