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Modern Views & Old Associations by Deborah Houlding

Who loves the dim, religious light?
Who always keeps a star in sight??
An optimist, both gay and bright???
It is the Sagittarius!!!



Read about

Sun's Transit:
22 Nov - 21 Dec

(hot and dry)


Star lore

Traditional Significations of Jupiter

Sagittarius the Archer Sagittarius symbol

Personality Traits | Dignified Planets | Typical Features | Traditional Rulerships | Traditional Definitions | Famous Sagittarians


Personality Traits

Sagittarians are known for their broad vision, tolerant attitude, freedom-loving philosophical air, and generally jovial spirits. These recognisable traits all stem from the influence of their planetary ruler: the expansive and magnanimous Jupiter; source of hope, optimism, confidence and generosity. Jupiter tends to appreciate abundance; the dictum 'less is more' doesn't make much sense in his realm - better to have plenty and let a little go to waste. Sagittarians have a gift for enlarging all that they embrace and throw their energies into. No sign creates a better publicist. Few can so easily take a minor matter and through their enthusiasm make it seem so all-important. Sagittarian hearts and spirits are big; their outlook is liberal and forgiving; their style is colourful and noisy; their passion for life contagious.

The upwards shooting centaur aims for the higher picture and keeps its eyes fixed to the distant horizon. Sagittarians are always planning for the future, thinking about a bigger tomorrow, and thus they tend not to worry about the here and now. They are blessed with fine intuition but can suffer through dismissing critical analysis as someone else's negative outlook; sanguine in the conviction that 'all will work out well in the end'. Sagittarians don't work well with details, and whilst known for being intrinsically candid, they can't help distorting everything towards a brighter light, especially if it embroiders in a bit more colour and interest. Such buoyancy of spirit often attracts a positive response, but like all the fire signs Sagittarians need to be wary of ignoring the voice of caution. Downfalls that affect this sign arise from taking on too much; becoming so enraptured in their own enthusiasm that they act without foresight; and pursuing a vision that exceeds the limits of reality. But even in suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune the Sagittarian copes better than most. Being a mutable sign all change is viewed as an opportunity for stimulation and renewed motivation.

This is a sign that rarely recognises restrictions and certainly doesn't approve of limitations. Sagittarians adopt a 'live and let live' philosophy that recoils from narrow mindedness. They have a natural dislike of all things 'prim and proper' and will laugh in the face of supercilious morality. There's a 'rough and ready' element to this sign and one of its most noticeable features is a forthright attitude and a 'take me as you find me' approach. Pomposity and civil niceties fail to impress, as does anything that smacks of being superficially correct but inherently insincere. Sagittarian Mark Twain typifies the penchant for undermining all that is ostentatious with humour, frank observation and unnerving candour - just when everyone seems willing to take flight into collective self-congratulation and pretentiousness, the Sagittarian is there, ready to burst the hollow bubble with a painfully incisive reminder of the truth. This is honesty Sagittarian style - frank, blunt, and disquietingly valid.

Sagittarians prize themselves on their reputation for sincerity and lenience. There is however, another side to the sign, a belligerent foundation that is rarely acknowledged but ever present. Sagittarians are driven by a Mars-like quality and they have a propensity to rush out with their energies, aggressively pursuing their own ends. It's well known that Sagittarians tend to exaggerate stories to their own advantage, and they've certainly managed to do this with their mythological emblem, the centaur. They would have us all believe that gentle, healing, self-sacrificing Chiron was placed in the stars to symbolise all that the Sagittarian represents. Honoured for his unselfishness - he had no equal when it came to performing acts of kindness - Sagittarians have unashamedly claimed this motif of exceptional goodness and wisdom as their own. But Sagittarians can never be trusted with the details. Centaurus, the Southern Centaur, is the constellation figure that pays tribute to Chiron. Fierce and competitive Sagittarius faces him from the other side of Scorpio, marked out by the Babylonians long before the Greeks traced their nobler hero in the sky. Chiron was remarkable, not because he symbolised typical centaur-like qualities, but because he alone distanced himself from their wild and savage, lustful drunken ways.

The reality is that the centaur race is marked in myth as particularly war like and fierce. The Mesopotamians, who introduced the constellation Sagittarius and defined it as a centaur,[1] represented it as twin headed with a human head facing forward and an animal head facing back, imagery which later adapted into the presence of a cloak flying behind the head of the constellation figure.


The shadowing animal face reminds us that whilst the Sagittarian might strive towards humane development, an underlying bestial energy exists, capable of spontaneous brutality when the bounds of reason are not consciously applied. Cuneiform inscriptions refer to Sagittarius as 'The Strong One', the 'Giant King of War' and mention it as under the guardianship of Nergal, whom the Mesopotamians identified with Mars. [2] Although later astrologers sanitised the more aggressive and blatantly phallic symbolism evident in ancient sources, we still encounter classical astrologers referring to the sign's "threatening aspect" [3] and medieval references to the "Dreadful Sagittary", such as that found in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida [4] Historically, the sign stands as an emblem for the invincible courage and fervent valour of Mars, tempered only by the benevolence and wisdom of Jupiter. King Steven who usurped the English throne in 1135 carried the centaur as his heraldic symbol for that reason.

Insight into how the centaur myth originated offers an interesting reflection on its early basis. Evolutionists have reasoned that it took many thousands of years for the horse to develop into a creature large enough to be ridden by man. It is estimated that this monumental event occurred sometime around 3000-2000 BC. The first and most effective race to use the horse in battle was the Scythians, skilled archers who took full advantage of its speed and height to become a race beheld in terror and awe. It is claimed that when the Greeks first saw the Scythians they believed the horse and rider to be one, giving rise to imaginative and fear-inspired tales of the war-like centaur. [5] To deny the fiercer aspects of the sign's symbolism is to deny its very basis. Traditional texts leave no doubt as to the integral influence of its martial roots, yet modern authors have masked it as an extremity of the effusive and sometimes vociferous influence of Jupiter.

Either way, Sagittarians are undoubtedly choleric in their temperament. Known for their exuberance and recognised as unafraid to take a risk or square up to a confrontation, given any fair excuse to go on the offensive, this is not a sign to hesitate or pause. The volatile influence of Mars can set their fiery light ablaze, and quite frankly no one enjoys a good all out scrap or verbal assault, no holds barred, like a Sagittarian does. Nor are many as quick to forgive and forget once the enflamed moment has passed. Sagittarius brings it all out in the open and up to the surface. There is no lingering malice or unexpressed resentment lurking among the ulterior motives of this sign. The temptation to deal with potential confrontation, even before it can rightfully be described as a valid problem, is much too strong and persuasive.

Thus we see the basis for the complaint that Sagittarians lack tact and discretion. Their frankness and frequently ill-considered 'brutal honesty' is often abrasive to others, who might normally expect a little more restraint and delicacy before sensitive matters are subjected to the sledge hammer of public appraisal. And that calls into question this whole issue about Sagittarius being a sign you can trust. Candour, openness, bringing issues to a level where they can be explored and resolved is very much a key element of the Sagittarian temperament. But whether you can trust them to keep a confidence is another matter. This is not a sign to divulge your darkest secrets to; Sagittarians want to act, to change things, to take full responsibility for alleviating your problems and involving themselves on your behalf. It's an admirable trait in many respects, but not one you'll appreciate when all you wanted was to gain some furtive advice so you could resolve the matter discreetly and in your own good time.

Unsurprisingly, the brightest stars of the constellation Sagittarius are said to bestow an influence akin to Jupiter and Mars combined, and the same must be said of the planetary energies that animate this zodiac sign. There is a constant need for challenge, stimulation and freedom of expression and movement. This can produce restlessness in relationships and a lack of constant commitment in professions that call for mundane, steady application. The Sagittarian has a well reputed love of travel and an urge for exploration that calls for adventure and space - physically, intellectually and emotionally. They are 'people' people, and crowds adore them, but they make heavy demands on personal relationships. 'Stability' is a restriction, 'commitment' is a limitation; unless other factors dominate in the horoscope a Sagittarian generally has a hard time closing down all the potential opportunities that exist in being loose and fancy free. Even so, they pride themselves on having a firm moral basis and try to act with integrity. Although naturally flirty and attention-seeking, there is little reason to suspect them of being anything other than they admit they are. Once dedicated to a long-term partnership they will battle against the obstacles and make every endeavour to fulfil their promises. An ideal partner would be stable and quietly confident, unafraid to let them feel liberated in lifestyle and conduct. Possessiveness is abhorrent to them, jealousy dampens their spirits, and emotional confinement inevitably leads to rebellion.

In career matters, Sagittarians come into their own in creative fields, especially where the value of open expression and life experience are fully appreciated. They are better at working with people than with abstract concepts, so areas such as teaching, counselling, and entertaining are particularly well suited. There is a constant striving towards enlargement that fuels their ambitions, and typically Sagittarians have an instinct for recognising opportunities and a determination to make the most of them - even if this involves some risk of loss. Their robust spirit and grand-scale vision helps to guarantee success, but it would be wrong to think of Sagittarius as a sign that naturally gravitates towards the top and stays there: Sagittarians are much better known for engaging in the undulating adventure of life: living to the full, taking gambles, riding the ups and downs, and dicing with the limits of possibility.

Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg are two examples of Sagittarians who fully projected their vision, exceeding all realistic expectations. The singer Tina Turner captures another quality through exuberant and explosive performances that fill the stage with presence. Typically a lover of sport, the real issue for the Sagittarian is the need to react spontaneously and intuitively; to project the energies outwards and upwards. An instinct for acting first and thinking later necessarily brings inconstancy and risk, but the indefatigable Sagittarian is always 'in there', playing the game, positioning themselves at the very heart of where the action is.

Dignified Planets

Planets Dignifed in Sagittarius:
Jupiter   as sign and night-time triplicity ruler
Sun  as day-time triplicity ruler.

Planets Debilitated in Sagittarius:
Mercury   by detriment

More on planetary dignities and debilities 

Typical Features

Well proportioned body and face, inclines towards being tall and large. The complexion is often ruddy, dark or tanned. The hair is often light-chestnut in colour. This sign is known for having a strong and able body.

Traditional Rulerships

Direction:  All fire signs relate to the east. Sagittarius signifies east tending towards the south.
Anatomy:  Sagittarius rules the buttocks, hips and thighs.
Illnesses:  Sagittarius is susceptible to illnesses concerning the buttocks, hips and thighs and all illnesses pertaining to those parts. Traditional texts warn of danger through falls from horses, sport related illnesses, burns and injuries caused through the tendency to act rashly with little regard to consequences. Jupiter, the ruler of this sign, is closely associated with the blood; 'heated' blood and fevers are highlighted under this sign.
Places:  As a fire sign, Sagittarius governs places that are exposed to heat or fire. Through its affinity with horses it also rules stables (in particular military stables or stables where important commercial horses are kept). Outside it represents upper areas on the landscape, open fields, hills and land that rises higher than the rest. Inside it indicates the upper rooms, particularly near the hearth or fireplace, usually where there is an expansive feeling of space.
Countries & cities:   Include Spain (especially Toledo), Hungary (especially Budapest), Slavonia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Narbonne and Cologne in France.
Colours  The colours of Sagittarius are bright and vivid, including red, purple and royal blue. Lilly assigns a mixture of yellow and green (turquoise), whilst sea-green, blue, and purple are particularly emphasised through the rulership of Jupiter.
Stones & Metals:  Stones and metals fall under the rulership of planets, not signs, but through its association with Jupiter, Sagittarius has affinity with tin, amethysts, saphires, emeralds, crystals, topaz and marble.

Traditional Rulerships of Jupiter 

Traditional Definitions:

Bestial:  Bestial signs are those traditionally symbolised by four-footed animals. Also called quadrupedian (four-footed), these signs can lack in social graces and are reputed to display an animalistic reaction to their emotions, sometimes indicating coarseness and a poor appreciation of polite manners.
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 is easily adaptable and can be one thing or another. For this reason the mutable signs are referred to as 'common' signs in traditional terminology.
Feral:  The sign of Leo and the last part of Sagittarius is classified as 'feral' which literally means wild, uncultivated, savage or brutal. This relates to the cruel and insensitive streak that they can sometimes display when they disassociate their actions from their feelings and empathetic consideration of others. It is also one of the reasons why these signs may be taken to signify uncultivated territory and places where wild animals roam.

Famous Sagittarians:

Edith Piaf
Born: 19/12/1915
  View data, chart and notes
Winston Churchill
Born: 30/11/1874
  View data, chart and notes
Mary Stuart
Born: 8/12/1542 (OS)
  View data, chart and notes
Ludwig Von Beethoven
Born: 16/12/1770
  View biography & chart
William Blake
Born: 28/11/1757
  View biography & chart
Mark Twain
Born: 30/11/1835
  View chart
Tina Turner
Born: 26/11/1939
  View chart
Steven Spielberg
Born: 18/12/1946
  View chart

Notes & References:

  1 ] The symbolism connected to Sagittarius is very ancient, and the twin-headed Babylonian centaur - Pa.Bil.Sag - is believed to be based upon a form of even greater antiquity, that of a scorpion tailed man drawing a bow, revealing an early association with the neighbouring constellation of Scorpio.
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  2 ] R. H. Allen, Star Names: their Lore and Meaning, [Dover, 1963, p.107ff; p.354.]
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  3 ] Ibid., p.353.
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  4 ] Act five, verse V.
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  5 ] J. Bronowski, The Ascent of Man. [Macdonald Futura, 1981, p.50].
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Constellation mythology and star lore of Sagittarius 

© Deborah Houlding.

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