Gemini the Twins

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Who is fond of life and jest and pleasure?
Who vacillates and changes ever??
Who loves attention without measure???
Why, Gemini!

sign symbolism | rulerships | famous Geminians | Babylonian myth
Sign symbolism

Gemini the Twins

by Deborah Houlding

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The third sign of the zodiac, Gemini (the Latin word for ‘twins’), centres its symbolism on the two bright stars that dominate its namesake constellation. Expressing the principle of duality, this sign reminds us that all conflicting forces must be recognised and reconciled as mutually interdependent. The two pillars representing the sign’s glyph (Gemini) signify the incongruous forces of left and right, darkness and light, ignorance and understanding, malice and virtue, decline and vitality. Hence, all the myths and legends attached to Gemini draw attention to indelible connections that are crossed by stark contrasts.

In classical myth, the twins are the sons of the Spartan Queen Leda (mother of Helen of Troy), whom Zeus somewhat artfully seduced after he took the form of a swan escaping from an eagle and flew into her arms on the same night she bedded her husband. Pollux, conceived from the seed of Zeus, was born divine and immortal, possessing great physical prowess and excelling in boxing, athletics and gymnastics. Castor, conceived by the mortal king, was human and therefore physically frail, but what he lacked in muscular force he made up for in high intelligence, swift wit, ingenuity, and whatever artful cunning it was that persuaded Leda to be seduced by a swan.

Pollux and Castor and their mythological mother Leda

Ovid1 describes the twins as “one a horseman, the other a boxer” but both are strongly associated with sport and they are almost always shown as horsemen in statues. They became embroiled in family feuds (as Geminis typically do), and contributed to the start of the Trojan War by desiring to marry the Leucippides (literally, ‘the daughters of the white horse’), who were already betrothed to their cousins. Their abduction of these horsey women, and other squabbles with their cousins over their shared ownership of cattle, culminated in one of the cousins mortally wounding Castor with a spear. Zeus gave that cousin a swift death by thunderbolt, then offered Pollux a choice as his twin lay dying: he could either ascend to Mount Olympus as a god after Castor died or donate half of his immortality to his brother so that both could live on as demi-gods.

A pact was made for the twins to share immortality by living alternating lives, each switching daily between Mt. Olympus and Hades. The art of contracting by reasoned negotiation and appropriate compromise is a Gemini flair, and Zeus threw into the deal the honour of them being celebrated among the stars. His own brother, Poseidon, god of the sea (and horses), also rewarded their unbreakable bond with the gift of magnificent stallions and the power to grant merciful winds to those in peril at sea – perhaps a nod to Gemini’s sign-ruler, Mercury, which signifies all winds in mundane astrology generally.

The notion of concession and compensation is an integral part of Gemini lore (the mortal partner gains heightened intellect to offset limited vitality), but the deeper issue is the refusal of the twins to be separated, though this demands infinite modification and denies the ability to live peacefully ‘as one’. The myth demonstrates the eternal mutual reliance of conscious reasoning and unconscious instinct, which generates tension since their drives are often in turmoil. The quest for unification must first explore limits by polarising and establishing extremes, before it pursues the reconciliation of all contradictions within one central threshold, where reason and emotion, masculinity and femininity, light and dark, and all apparent opposites come together in balance, perfectly poised as they appear to lose differences and merge into one.

How does the Gemini do this? And how do the myths relate to the depiction of the typical Gemini as someone marked by mental agility and easy communication skills? The fact that Gemini is essentially a sign of divergence, which swings rapidly through the realms of the conscious (Olympus) and unconscious (Hades), and just as rapidly swings back again, suggests that intellectual propensity is only the half of it. Not enough is made of how Geminians go through strange and inconsistent moods, needing to engage in periods of introverted self-reflection, in which they withdraw from superficial chatterings just as readily as they delight in it when the period of self-reflection has passed. Geminians do have a rare communicative gift, but the basis of it is that their focus is not purely in the world of logic; it also encompasses the domain of the irrational, including the magical too.

From this multi-faceted position, Geminians see all shades of every situation, communicating between opposing sides because their dextrous disposition well-understands the experience of all extremes. Though seldom reported, they are subject to dark, irrational broodings, periods of isolation and alienation, and cynicism as well as idealistic inspiration; yet the flexibility of character that Geminians possess is embedded in the ability to be two things at once: the victor and the victim; the healer and the invalid; the teacher and the student. The integration of opposites never entirely separates one partner from the other, but this fusion only occurs after the independent experience of extremes has been absorbed, requiring that love must meet its antithesis: hate; confidence: insecurity; praise: insult; and trust: falseness as singular incidents, before being recognised as two equally transient faces of the same fickle coin.

Hence, ‘communication’ is a spiritual drive for any Geminian, and Sun sign depictions loom large on their talents as reporters, teachers, messengers, diplomats, interpreters, linguists and writers. As the sign Gemini symbolises a constant flow between extremes, its planetary ruler, Mercury, promotes easy communication of the experience of that flow.

In Roman mythology, Mercury is the winged messenger and communicator between the gods. The Romans dwelt on the quick speed of this planet, recognising the qualities of swiftness and dexterity in the characteristics of trickery, verbal guile and flexibility. Mercury is consequently the god of jugglers, thieves and liars, as well as the god of commerce, roads, gymnastic exercises and all that entails mental, verbal or physical deftness. Compared to his Greek counterpart, Hermes, there is a somewhat shallow, superficial aspect to the Roman god of learning, with less of the obvious profundity attached to the notion of ‘intelligence’ by the more ancient civilisations.

In Hermes, we glimpse a holier personification of Universal Intelligence, with more amalgamation of the Egyptian God of knowledge, Thoth, and the Mesopotamian god of wisdom, Nabu. The inventor of words, arithmetic, astronomy and geometry, his communicative skill is considered an expression of sacred powers, since the ability to define and share concepts (both visually and through sound) was viewed by ancient cultures as a supernatural gift. Words, and the ways they are constructed and delivered, are perceived as magical symbols, mirrors of the Divine Mind. Spoken with proper intonation and the correct spiritual approach, they become the means to summon gods, heal the sick and command obedience. Writing was a priestly study, held in awe by the uneducated and honoured as a mystical art. Only in the alchemical view of Mercury as Mercurius, symbol of the process of integration, synthesis, metamorphosis, and illumination, do we come close to restoring to the Roman god Mercury the fully glorious spiritual lineage within which the ideal of communication properly sits. Geminians, with their ability to experience and synthesise, hold the most treasured keys to this process of transmutation.

Gemini is a lively sign of endless curiosity, driven by an instinct to explore. But since instincts lean more towards breadth than depth, their explorations often lack focus and deep, singular penetration. They are better suited to absorbing ‘just enough’ of a wide variety of topics, which adds to their reputation as fine conversationalists. They are not extreme in their views and are always willing to swap and trade their ideas or change their perspective to suit their company. However, they have a strong respect for intellectual independence and must feel a mental rapport to fully relax with others.

Being able to enjoy a broad variety of friends from different interests has given Gemini a reputation as an affable and sociable sign, tending towards friendliness and optimism. They prefer a wide circle of friends to just a few close and intimate contacts, so they have excellent networking talents, which allow them to excel in professional areas based on who they know as much as what they know. They are suited to any career that requires negotiation skills or the expression of information in flexible language that can be easily digested, and those that call for physical agility, light movement, and quick thinking. The ‘alternating’ elements of Gemini should remind us that this is the sign of trade, barter, exchange and swapping resources. Combined with the instinct for fast action and quick decision-making, Geminis are great at multi-tasking or managing several projects simultaneously and make ideal entrepreneurs. The sign features strongly in the charts of those who are light on their feet or sleight of hand, being traditionally associated with athletes and gymnasts, magicians, conjurers, tricksters, con artists and pickpockets!

As lovers, Geminians are fun, lively, flirtatious and recognised by their youthful appearance or ‘spirit of youth’. But they lack emotional intensity and are uncomfortable with deep emotional ties, particularly if they feel restricted in their freedom to chat and flirt with others. They are capable of falling in love with two or more lovers simultaneously, incline towards gender neutrality, and are naturally curious to explore the sexual sides of their relationships. Hence, a Gemini lover can be the source of endless frustration to a more committed and emotionally intense partner.

Geminians are often said to be superficial and fickle. Of course, they can be, but adaptability is a virtue where there is a need to respond to changing surroundings and deal with contradictory demands simultaneously. The mark of this sign is mental agility and ‘bridge building’. To be understanding and responsive to all, they may sometimes appear two-faced, lacking genuine sincerity, but this is the price to be paid by a disposition that moves with its environment. Above all, Geminians are regarded as quick thinkers, the best of whom don't just act first, think later, but have mastered the pull of the extremes of thinking and feeling, and as a result combine their intellect and intuition with lightning speed, allowing them to think on their feet and deliver the instant, yet perfectly appropriate response, to any occasion.
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Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpius | Sagittarius | Capricornus | Aquarius | Pisces
Aries the Ram
Airy, warm & moist, sanguine, diurnal, masculine, humane, double-bodied, mutable (common), western

Gemini GEMINI Gemini


Dignified Planets

Mercury: Mercury  - as sign and night-time triplicity ruler.
Saturn: Saturn - as day-time triplicity ruler.

Debilitated Planets

Jupiter: Jupiter - by detriment.

Typical Features

Gemini typically gives a tall, straight and average-slender body, with straight nose, thin features, long arms and nimble limbs. According to William Lilly the hair tends to be dark and the body is strong and active with “a good piercing hazel eye”. The sign is noted for good eyesight and intellectual understanding but with roving attention, quick reflexes and mental alertness.

Traditional Rulerships

Direction:  West by south. All air signs relate to the west; as the most southerly of the air signs (in a natural zodiac that places Aries on the ascendant) Gemini signifies west tending towards the south.

Anatomy:  The arms, shoulders, hands, fingers, nervous system, blood and lungs.

Illnesses:  Geminian illnesses are those affecting the arms, shoulders, hands, blood, veins, nerve fibres, thymus gland, the trachea, bronchi, lungs, and shortness or excessiveness (‘windiness’) of breath. Affliction in Gemini might also signify psychological afflictions, disturbed imagination and mental illnesses.

Places:  As an air sign, Gemini relates to places off the ground, high up or near sources of air and free-flowing light (windows, ventilation ducts, etc.), or upper rooms. In the general environment it signifies hills, mountains and high places, and it is traditionally associated with barns and storehouses for corn and grain. Its rulership by Mercury gives association with the walls of houses, libraries and places of study, play or sport; or near to cabinets, chests and baskets, and places where money is stored or kept, i.e., treasuries, purses.

Countries & cities:   Include Armenia, Belgium, and Italy. Regions and cities include London and the west and southwest of England, Louvain in France, Bruges in Belgium; Nuremburg, Hassfurt, Mainz and Bamberg in Germany; Cordova in Spain, Cesena in Italy.

Colours  Mixed or rainbow colours (hues that have mixtures of various colours together). Often associated with yellow, yellowish green, light blue, grey or neutral colours.

Stones & Metals:  Stones and metals fall under the rulership of planets, not signs, but through its association with Mercury, Gemini is often linked with quicksilver, agate, and all stones of markedly diverse colours.

Animals:  As a domestical bestial sign, Taurus is said by Al-Biruni (371) to signify all kinds of animals that become attached to humans. As well as cows and calves he listed elephants and gazelles; in western societies, we would expect this to include all farmed, hoofed and herded animals.

Traditional Definitions:

Humane:  Humane signs are those represented by human figures, which are also referred to as ‘manly’ or ‘courteous’. They are renown for social graces and intellectual skills and include Gemini, Virgo, Libra and Aquarius, (Libra on the assumption that the scales are held by a human hand).

Double-bodied:  Double-bodied, or bi-corporeal signs are those represented by two figures. All the mutable signs are double-bodied – Gemini: two twins; Virgo: maiden and bird; Sagittarius: man and horse; Pisces: two fishes. They represent the months that join the seasons and signify a dualistic nature that easily adapts and combines diverse qualities together. For this reason mutable signs are traditionally called common signs, meaning signs that partake of shared characteristics or present elements that bridge things together.

Barren:  The barren signs are Gemini, Leo, and Virgo: the signs governed by Mercury and the Sun. These are marked by a dry humour or singular focus which might suggest difficulty in conceiving or few children when placed on the 5th house cusp of a decumbiture or horary chart

Famous Geminians
Gemini - FAMOUS GEMINIANS - Gemini

Queen Victoria24 May 1819; London, England; 4:15 am LMT (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Arthur Conan Doyle22 May 1859; Edinburgh, Scotland; 4:55 am GMT (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Vivian E. Robson26 May 1890; Birmingham, England; 4:55 am GMT (RR:A)chart & bio ⇨
John F. Kennedy 19 May 1917; Brookline, Massachusetts; 3:00 pm EST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Judy Garland10 Jun 1922; Grand Rapids, Minnesota; 6:00 am CST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Marilyn Monroe1 Jun 1926; Los Angeles, CA; 9:30 am PST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Clint Eastwood 31 May 1930; San Francisco, CA; 5:35 pm PST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Paul McCartney18 Jun 1942; Liverpool, England; 2:00 pm BDST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Donald Trump14 Jun 1946; Queens, New York; 10:54 am EDT (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Salman Rushdie19 Jun 1947; Bombay, India; 2:27 am IST (RR:A)chart ⇨
Prince7 Jun 1958; Minnespolis, Minnesota; 6:17 pm CDT (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Johnny Depp9 Jun 1963; Owensbro, Kentucky; 8:44 am CST (RR:AA)chart ⇨
Naomi Campbell22 May 1970; Westminster, England; 1:00 am BST (RR:A)chart ⇨
Angelina Jolie4 Jun 1975; Los Angeles, CA; 9:09 am PDT (RR:AA)chart & bio ⇨
Russell Brand4 Jun 1975; Grays, England; 12pm midnight BST (RR:B)chart & bio ⇨
Venus Williams17 Jun 1980; Lynwood, CA; 2:12 pm PDT (RR:AA)chart ⇨


Plate from Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius, 1690

Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpius | Sagittarius | Capricornus | Aquarius | Pisces

Notes & References:
1 ] Ovid, Fasti 5, 697 ff (1st c. BC). Of the origin of the constellation Gemini:

The Tyndarid brothers, the horseman and the boxer, had raped and kidnapped Phoebe and her sister [the Leucippides]. Idas and his brother go to war for their women... The sublime heaven already opened for you, Pollux, when you said: “Hear my words, father. Divide between two the heaven reserved for me. Half of the gift will exceed the whole”. He spoke and ransomed his brother by rotating positions. Both stars assist troubled ships.

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Deb HouldingDeborah Houlding, creator of Skyscript, is based in the UK and has worked as an astrologer since the late 1980s. Founder of The Traditional Astrologer (1993 to 2000) and STA School of Traditional Astrology, she is the author of the STA Practitioners-Level Horary Course, The Houses: Temples of the Sky, and (with Oner Doser) Soru Astrolojisi: Horary Astrology (2015). She is also the editor of a modern retype, annotated edition of William Lilly's Christian Astrology and Griffin's Astrological Judgement Touching Theft.

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Audio provided by Lara van Zuydam (Moon in Gemini) -
Lara is an astrologer and YOGA ALLIANCE yoga teacher based in North London, UK, practicing Soul-Focused Astrology, Sound Healing, Tarot, and Yoga.