The Twelve Kingdoms of Light: The Myth of God’s Children and How the Zodiac Signs Got Their Groove On
The following is an excerpt from Cosmic Navigator by Gahl Sasson:
Astrology and Kabbalah can be fully understood when we shift our mind from its usual preoccupation with cause and effect, beginning and end, to the more authen- tic truth of cycles that continue round and round to eternity. The following myth of God’s children demonstrates the cyclical and eternal essence of astrology. There is no beginning and no end to any true system of symbolism. We might pinpoint Aries as the first sign and therefore the beginning, but as the story suggests, you can just as accurately finger Pisces (the last sign) as the energy that birthed the zodiac. The Sefer Yetzirah asserts, “Their end is embedded in the beginning and their beginning in the end.”
Go back in time, some five billion years. Imagine the earth as a great hall, a chamber of multiple treasures, both physical and spiritual. Outside of it is an astral lobby—a waiting room for angels, if you will. Separating the two is a door, but not just any door—it is a portal of raging fire, a vortex of swirling flames.
God invited his twelve angelic children . . . into the waiting room and said, “This is the earth, a glorious garden that I’d like you to protect and serve. As a token of my appreciation for your dedication to this task, each one of you, one after the other, may take from the chamber of gifts whatever you can carry. Then you must ascend to the skies and fortify yourself as a constellation that will help to guide all sentient beings who navigate in darkness.”
The magnificent dozen looked at each other, anxious to plunge into the cham- ber and retrieve their loot. But they were all paralyzed by the fear of the unfamiliar, and afraid, too, of the portal of fire that stood between them and the treasure-laden chamber called earth. Well, to be precise, eleven of the twelve were afraid.
Before the debate over who should go first even began, Aries jumped through the vortex with a wild warrior’s cry. The others rushed to the window to witness the result. They anxiously watched the agile, lean, and athletic body of their crazy brother hurtle into the unknown. He survived, thank the Lord. Somehow he landed on his feet, and the fire of the portal did not destroy him. After all, Aries is a fire sign; how could fire destroy fire? How could a flame burn itself? He was the first, the initiator, the pioneer, and he liberated all the others from the bondage of their fear. He cleared the path and secured the room.
Brother Aries, who sometimes is called the ram, tends to be the sacrificial lamb, continually undertaking unspeakably bold feats. From that day on, Aries ruled as the first. He was granted the privilege of being the initiator of the astrological year. (According to the Bible, Aries is the first month of the year.) He marks the beginning of spring, and with spring comes the emergence of life. In the chamber of treasures, Aries naturally decided to take the ability to be first at everything. And in order to do that, he could not carry too much stuff. If you want to be number one, you need to run fast; you cannot allow bulky possessions to weigh you down. Cleverly, brother Aries picked up a seed from the ground. What could he do with a seed? Well, within the seed lies the DNA, and the DNA can be cloned into anything new.
Do you think our Aries brother knew where he was going when he jumped through the vortex? No. Do you think he was brave? Maybe, but often the Aries seems far more stupid than brave. And that explains why the Aries often appears with so many scars on his face.
Back in the lobby, a great commotion ensued. Now that the trail had been blazed, who would be second to descend to earth? With an enormous grunt, Taurus bullied herself right through the gate, pushing and shoving everyone in her path. Sister Taurus is a very practical woman. She is the empress. The minute she landed in the room, she looked around and smiled. “Fool of an Aries, he left everything valuable untouched,” she thought to herself. Since Taurus is a beast of burden, she could carry quite a lot on her back. She started loading it all up. She took the trunk overflowing
with money and jewelry, and since that day Taurus has ruled finance and precious stones. She adores beautiful things, especially if they are expensive. She collected every piece of art. She grabbed everything with material value, and that is why Taurus rules art, values, talents, and money. But the teaching of Taurus is not limited to material goods. Taurus also teaches that self-worth or how much you esteem your own valuable talents will determine how much money you make. The Taurus equa- tion: self-worth equals bank-account worth.
After Taurus departed the chamber of treasures, Brother Gemini appeared out of thin air. What was he doing here? How did he manage to outflank the more fero- cious and powerful signs and sneak in before them? Well, the answer, like always, lies embedded in the question. Gemini is the trickster, the magician. He schmoozed his way from the rear with his glib tongue. You see it today wherever you encounter a prestigious “in” nightclub. You’ll see a doorman, a rope, and a line of beautiful women and men clamoring to get inside. Then, from out of a small but fast car, emerges Brother Gemini. He slaps a “press” sign on his chest and cuts right through the line. Why? Was he more famous than the people in the line? More beautiful or wealthy? No. Gemini is the messenger, and as such he gets everything for free: free movies, free gift bags, free everything. Just write up the product in a magazine, and it’s all yours.
Gemini collected everything necessary for communication, intelligence, and business. He grabbed the phones, the faxes, the computers, the mail system, cables, cars, and all means of transportation, books, billboards, radio, TV, advertising, and all sources of information. His logic was simple. He watched Taurus leave the room with all that art and merchandise. Obviously she was going to need someone to sell it for her, and he planned to be the one to do that. He would take his commission, his finder’s fee, 10 percent here or 15 percent there, and without having to ware- house or carry all that junk, he would wind up making more money than she. Gemini seized the concept of language, commerce, trade, the stock market, and numbers. For the first time, the beauty of the zodiac took shape: first we had Aries the man, then Taurus the woman, and now Gemini the messenger connecting the two. The Tarot card representing Gemini is called the Lovers. He is the connector, and here he connects the first masculine sign with the first feminine sign.
Gemini also scooped up the concept of lies and theft. I know it sounds harsh. But hey, I did not make Mercury—Gemini’s ruler—the god of liars and thieves.
Anyone who writes, including me, is a liar and a thief. Writers translate their thoughts into words, and seldom are their thoughts complete and unbiased. Lao-Tzu, the founder of Taoism, once said that the truth cannot be spoken, and whoever even opens his mouth to speak of the truth has already lied. Traders, merchants, and businesspeople do the same. They sell you a banana for one dollar when it cost them only ten cents. Where did the extra ninety cents come from? Brother Gemini coined the term profit, which is actually a clever way to disguise a little theft. Gemini had no choice, because lan- guage, his prime booty from the chamber of treasures, is innately a kind of lie. But it’s a necessary falsehood. After all, I am using that cosmic lie right now to convey this information about lies to you.
Suddenly, water flooded the chamber, and her highness the Queen of the Ocean, Sister Cancer, surged inside. Many astrologers and mystics call her Mother Cancer. She represents water, and she dripped her way through the cracks of the lobby in the astral world. She dripped and poured in so effectively that her waters covered 71 percent of the earth. She bathed the chamber and took what intrinsically belonged to her: birth, motherhood, compassion, and nourishment—all the quali- ties and concepts that esoteric lore assigns to the element of water. Mother Cancer also claimed the chamber itself—the actual real estate—and Cancer became the sign of home and family. The home represents the shell of the family, your family the shell of your personality, and your personality the shell of your soul. Cancer is symbolized by the crab, which carries its home—the place of sustenance, protection, and tender- loving care—wherever it goes.
Cancer represents the ultimate mother, but this archetype is not restricted to women with active wombs, nor is it limited to women in general. Anyone who adopts a child, who gives birth to a business, an idea, even a poem, is a mother too. For example, when you create a business, you invest unconditional love, energy, and ded- ication alongside your money. You see nothing in return for months, maybe years, and yet you stay up all night working, nourishing the enterprise as if it were an infant. Cancer gave birth to the concept of giving birth. And from that day on, the motherly energies of Cancer have supported us in our times of doubt and tribulation, water- ing us with feeling and compassion. Cancer also carried off the concept of the sub- conscious. She took reign over lost memories hidden by the waves of time. And, in her infinite compassion, she also took old age, so that in the best of all worlds, human beings would enjoy care and nurturing in infancy and years later in their dotage too.
Just as the sun appeared after the great flood in the time of Noah, the chamber of treasures next was infused with golden light. The sound of trumpets echoed in the hall and with a roar, finally, at last, the lion arrived. What an entrance! But with all due respect to Leo—or the king, as he prefers to be called—the question remains unasked (for fear of reprisal): why did he wait so long? By now, the chamber had been emptied of most tangible treasures. Why did he delay when he commanded enough authority and strength to demand to be first?
The answer was simple. At a regal feast, when the king sits at the head of the table and the food is served, who eats first? Nope, not the king. If he’s a smart king, he will demand that someone else taste the food before him, just in case. The king allowed Aries, who is a fire sign, to taste from the fiery spirits that were offered on the table. Then Taurus, the earth sign, was asked to taste the food. Leo then required Gemini, an air sign, to breathe in the air (one can never be too cautious when deal- ing with poisonous gasses, not to mention chemical warfare), and finally he directed Cancer, the water sign, to sample the beverages. Only when the king saw that they all survived did he then start to eat.
The party had begun. Leo is the sign of happiness and fun. With little left in the chamber, Leo usurped the concept of creativity for himself. He roared in contagious laughter and enthusiasm: “If there are no gifts left in the chamber, well, let’s create them, let’s pretend!” So Brother Leo started playing around like a child. “Let’s pre- tend I am a king and that I have a scepter and a crown and a cape, and you will be my subject, and when you talk to me you will say, ‘Your Highness,’ OK?” And indeed, from that day forward, Leo ruled children, playfulness, and entertainment. Leos love to occupy the center of attention, and since they are so entertaining, we all just play along and let them have their fun. This explains why movie stars and royal families fill the tabloids. Everyone wants to know what is happening with the prince and his lover or if one certain celebrity will divorce another. Leo took drama from the chamber along with control over stages, movie sets, and all creative endeavors.
Leo also snatched perhaps the most dramatic concept of all: love. And for that bit of ingenuity we all ought to doff our hats. Leo grabbed not only the love one feels toward a romantic partner, but also what the Sufis call love to “the Beloved,” or love toward God. Leo chose to rule over romance and spirituality. Since love is childlike, innocent, and suffused with happiness, these qualities—think of the innocent mirthful
monk—embody the spirit of true spirituality, the spirit bound up in the dramatic and playful crown of Leo.
After the glamorous fanfare of Leo, holy Sister Virgo arrived in the chamber, engendering a certain anticlimax in the cycle of the zodiac. Unable to out-party the Leo, Virgo looked around and found her purpose. She grabbed a broom and humbly began to clean the chamber, picking up the beer bottles, the plastic plates, cigarette butts, and everything else left over from the farewell party to the king. Without any resentment or hard feelings, she did what she does best: cleaned up the mess. Holding a burning bundle of sage (Virgo is the lady of herbs), she purified the cham- ber while chanting an old secret spell to ward off negativity. She became the Queen of the Angels, the nanny of the zodiac, the Mary Poppins of order, work, and service. After all, someone actually has to do the king’s bidding. Virgo offered herself as the one to follow Leo’s will, like a faithful babysitter who reads for the tenth time the same bedtime story to a stubborn little boy. Virgo emerged from the chamber of treasures with the concepts of service, work, diet, purification, and order. She became the energy accountant of the astrological wheel. One of the more famous members of her clan is the greatest queen Europe has ever known—England’s Queen Elizabeth I, “the Virgin Queen.” While Leo rules partying and getting high, Virgo cleanses the body. She represents the hangover and the rehabilitation center. Without Virgo, life just might destroy itself with excess.
With the chamber of treasures now spotless, shining, and purified, Sir Libra, the most handsome knightly brother appeared. The chamber was empty, vacant of treasures, but Libra did not mind, for he is the sign of design and symmetry. And it is easier to design a space when you have a space to design. In Zen, they tell us that design can be viewed as the relationship between object and space. In Zen art, as well as in Japanese gardens, space is part of the design. Libra, being an air sign, relates easily to space and its significance. In Western art, if you want to paint a tree, you usually place that tree smack in the middle of the composition, but in the East, the tree would be positioned on the side, leaving the other side empty. This way, the painting is not only about the tree, but also about the tree’s relationship to space. Libra, therefore, became the sign that rules relationships and partnerships.
Relationships also give birth to another concept that Libra took from the cham- ber: justice. Justice represents the relationship between action and reaction—crime
and punishment, for example, or, as the old laws of Hammurabi state, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” These ancient tablets (circa 1850 B.C.E.) created the lucra- tive Libran profession we call lawyers. Let’s face it—Libra, an air sign, knows how to make money out of thin air.
Then there was silence, the quiet before the storm or, better still, before the hur- ricane. Sister Scorpio appeared, veiled by a mist that filled the entire hall. The sec- ond that she landed in the chamber of treasures, it was changed. With little to choose from, Scorpio stashed away the concept of transformation, including the ultimate transformation, death. While Cancer, another water sign, brought us life and birth, Scorpio, the second water sign, introduced death. Water can quench, but it also can drown.
Scorpio also grabbed other forms of transformation, including sexuality. Sex, of course, often leads to conception, which enables souls to reincarnate back into life. In other words, the death of death is life. With sexuality came intimacy and secrets (behind closed doors). How do you know if someone is a Scorpio? You just ask, what’s your sign? If she doesn’t want to answer, then she is surely a secretive Scorpio, closely guarding her identity, just like an undercover spy. And with secrets came a whole chain reaction of associations, including healing, crime, research, paranoia, private investigations, inheritance (after death), other people’s money, and joint financial affairs.
After the mists of Scorpio dispersed, a gorgeous creature arrived in the cham- ber. The centaur—half-horse, half-man; half-god, half-human—stood in the center of the room, radiating Light and force. Why did Sagittarius wait so long to descend to earth? With his power, speed, and athleticism, he easily could have fought his way through earlier and grabbed what was rightfully his. But Sagittarius is a natural-born traveler, always fascinated with foreign traditions and foreign planets. He also proba- bly suffered a spasm of attention deficit disorder (ADD), which compelled him to gallop off to some other galaxy and some other task before he remembered the cham- ber and decided to return. When he finally arrived, relaxed, and peered around the chamber to choose a treasure, he found one invisible concept that no other sign had bothered to notice. It was the most valuable gift in the hall. What was it?
Love? No, Leo took that.
Money? Taurus had it all.
What about Life? Already Cancer’s.
Sagittarius claimed truth. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. (Lies already belonged to Sagittarius’s opposite sign, Gemini.)
It took nine signs before anyone bothered to claim reign over truth. Isn’t that something? Truth is a short but weighty word that includes many other concepts, such as wisdom, philosophy (the love of wisdom), teaching, religion, and higher edu- cation—all of which fell under the sway of Sagittarius. Sagittarius recognized that his love of travel and experiencing different cultures was the only way to truly know truth.
With so much adventure and unknown in his future, Sagittarius also needed to fortify himself with a few other trinkets from the chamber of treasures. And so he scooped up luck and optimism. Let’s face it—when surrounded by Scorpio on one side and Capricorn on the other, you need to be optimistic. And, if we view the astro- logical ring as property, then you might say that Sagittarius is located in the worst real estate of the zodiac. Sagittarius marks the time in the year when the days get shorter and shorter and the nights are the longest. The message is clear: if Sagittarius rules over the darkest time of the year and also rules truth, then we find our truth in the darkest, most difficult moments of our life. Out of the Dark comes Light. Truth rep- resents the light at the end of the tunnel.
Capricorn finally entered next. A cautious sister, she walked slowly and deliber- ately, and it took her a while to traverse the portal to the chamber of treasures. At this point, the building was completely empty. But Capricorn was persistent, diligent, and ingenious. She took the walls, foundations, and the structure of the chamber. Capricorn knew she could use the material to build something else.
Then she looked down and realized that no one had claimed what lurked under- neath. The underworld (in the Tarot, Capricorn is represented by the Devil) lay undisturbed. Using a shovel, she started digging a hole in the ground. Slowly, grain by grain, the little hole became a crater. Because the digging lasted for centuries, she unwittingly exercised a great deal of patience, discipline, and endurance, and so she adopted these qualities too.
What did she unearth? All the riches of the earth. Gold, minerals, uranium, petroleum, diamonds—you name it—she extracted it all. It was a heavy load, and all that serious weight explains why Capricorn moves so slowly. But she has time. She is a late bloomer, and she knows that the older she grows, the better life will be. Capricorn accepted and incorporated the concept of time—the time that measures
our achievements (or failures), the time that makes us old, the time that provides structure to our lives.
Then Aquarius appeared, landing from out of nowhere in a supersonic space- craft, emerging like the rugged renegade character Han Solo from Star Wars. After Capricorn departed, there was nothing left of the once magnificent vault—no floor, no walls, no ceiling, nothing. But Aquarius was smart. It was the sign of the genius, and Brother Aquarius had a genius moment. He took the future. Capricorn took the past, the millions of years that had transformed coal into diamonds and dinosaur remains into petroleum, and Aquarius countered by grabbing the future.
Does all this sound strange? Well, Aquarius is, after all, the sign that took domin- ion over things weird, strange, and unique. After all, he is the mad professor whose mind works at the threshold between genius and craziness, who can always invent a new gadget because he is not afraid to think outside the box.
How does one take the future? Brother Aquarius invented the concept of copy- rights and patents. Aquarius solemnly declared that any invention from this day forth would be registered under his name. It’s called the trademark. By now you’ve seen his signature TM everywhere, but at that time, it was a novel idea to assume owner- ship over an idea, an invention. Every future computer, the G6s, G7s, the flying car, and so forth will be registered under Aquarius Corp. Ltd. You predict that in the future nanotechnology will create miniature supercomputers? Aquarius would reply simply, “Thank you very much, it’s ours.” If advances in technology permit human- ity to occupy new planets, all these planets will be subject to the trademark of Aquarius. All future chambers of treasures would necessitate a visit by Aquarius before anyone else.
Thank God that Aquarius is also the most altruistic and democratic sign, which means that he generally will share ownership and use of all the new inventions. Aquarius’s futuristic and sweet attitude also allowed him to adopt the concepts of humanitarian work, fraternity, cooperation, altruism, and friends. Brother Aquarius expressed no hard feelings toward the rest of the signs for leaving him nothing, because he could always make something out of nothing.
Last and never least arrived Sister Pisces, sometimes known as the mermaid. She showed up last because she loved to imagine, and she had a million imaginary friends who kept her tied up in their imaginary affairs. They took her to other dimensions and transported her to visit the land of elves and pixies. Finally, when the silence of the empty chamber of treasures snapped her out of her delicious daydream, she glided into the empty place where the room once stood. She smiled and breathed in. She sat down in the center of nothingness. She did not feel as if she had been cheated out of her inheritance or her treasures. She herself was the treasure. She understood that the chamber was an illusion, and that all the treasures her siblings had grabbed were illusory as well. “Form is emptiness” she chanted silently, “Emptiness is form.” Sister Pisces did what only she could. She extracted from the empty space the ability to dream, sleep, and meditate. One does not need any thing for that; one can do it every- where and at any time.
She sat cross-legged and meditated. She used her powers of imagination to recon- struct around her a magical chamber of treasures filled with artwork, computers, and seeds. A chamber of treasures stuffed with love and safety, truth, and life and death. A chamber situated upon a rich deposit of natural resources, filled with gadgets and futuristic inventions.
Then she imagined that out of a vortex of fire appeared her beloved brother Aries, who with such serious urgency had snatched a seed from the chamber. Then she imagined her beautiful sister Taurus gracefully amassing the jewelry that she imagined to be locked in a safe hidden deep in the wall. Pisces envisioned the rest of her siblings appearing one by one, all believing that the chamber and its treasures were really there. She even imagined herself entering the chamber, and then she imag- ined herself imagining the chamber and all her siblings entering one by one.
When she grew tired of imagining, she simply went to sleep and continued the construction of the chamber of treasures in her vivid dreams. Pisces loves to sleep because in her dreams she encounters so much. Like Alice who dreamt of her Wonderland, Pisces dreams up the zodiac, the planets, the treasures, and the rest of us. Next time you feel aggravated because some Pisces overslept, don’t be so quick to judge or patronize him for being lazy. He might be dreaming you into existence. If this sounds far-fetched, let me remind you about another sleepyhead called Lord Vishnu, the magnificent god who, according to the Hindu tradition, sleeps on a lotus that floats upon a sea. (Pisces is the sign of sleep and the sea. The sea is the Indian version of a waterbed!) He is not an idle or lazy god, for in his sleep, the Hindus say, he dreams of us. Our joys and love are his blissful dreams; our challenges and suffer- ing are his nightmares.