Many years ago, a few days before Easter, I saw the famous awarded film “Ben Hur” starring Charlton Heston, for the first time. This film was based on a Lew Wallace’s book. Young as I was, the only things I kept from the film were a) that Heston was undoubtedly handsome and b) that when words don’t seem to work, a “sword” might do the job!
The story goes about like this: A young gentleman named Ben Hur lives a happy life with his mother and sister. He is in love with one of his slaves. Although he frees her, cannot marry her because she is promised to someone else. Fate turns the wheel and an accident along with the political interests of the region governor send Ben Hur to the galleys as a slave and his family in prison. While on his way to the galleys he is almost dying by thirst but a carpenter (which supposed to be Jesus) gives him water and he lives.
After a few years working as a slave in a Roman galley, during a battle, he rescues Arrius, a Roman Officer. He frees him and takes him to Rome where he adopts him and trains Ben as a charioteer, a field to which he excels and becomes the best charioteer in Rome!
But he longs to be home again to find his family and to take his revenge for everything he and his family been through, so he travels back. While travelling he meets Balthasar, a wise astrologer. He was one of those that had followed the bright star to newborn Christ. But at the time was coming back to hear Christ’s teachings. He also meets an Arab sheik which is crazy about charioteer races along with his beloved Arabic horses, which were named: Antares, Aldebaran, Altair and Rigel!
He gets home, only to find his family missing. He is told they are dead – while they are sick with leprosy. The girl who loved once is still there waiting for him patiently. But his desire for revenge is greater than love and above everything else. He risks his life again and challenges his enemy to a Charioteer race. He wins, his enemy dies. But he cannot find peace.
Throughout the film Ben’s path seems to cross with Christ’s life. So Ben follows Christ to His way to The Crucifixion, and now he is the one that gives water to Him. He witnesses Him asking his Father to forgive Man. This is the fact that acts as a catalyst for Ben’s character and redemption comes in the end. He returns home and says: “I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand”. This film is actually the story of a Mars, exploring the nature of desires and right action for … a few hours!
20 years later, I bumped into the same film. It’s amazing – and I guess also a way to judge the value of many forms of art – how the same film, painting or book can touch your heart or pick your brains, in a different way depending on age, timing or circumstance. Heston was still as handsome on screen as he was back then. But the Sword seemed not to be the solution - or the objective - anymore. This is a film with very valuable symbolisms and many of them are deeply astrological.
Drops of Water
Water covers the larger part of Earth’s surface. It is also known that a large part of our being is based on water. In water we spend 9 months until we are born. Water is the element that represents our desire nature. All the above imply that Water, thus Desire, play a significant role in our existence. On this concept of desire was created the myth about the Water signs, as if passion is identified with Desire or as if those signs are the exclusive representatives of such things. But that isn’t so.
There are many kinds of desires of course, but the ones that concern me at this point are the most basic, as our Desire to live (expressed by our survival instinct) could be. However the one that is the main concern of this article is the Desire to ‘reach for higher grounds’– said in the widest sense; οr perhaps in the most specific sense as the desire of our soul to reach for Heaven. Is it possible to tame this potential that we all carry, even in a spermatic form, in order to reach those grounds?
Mars rules the water triplicity, day or night, and this fact mirrors how closely connected they are. One of the water signs is ruled by Jupiter. The other is the one where Jupiter is exalted. The third one is ruled by Mars. Jupiter’s Expansion, Faith and Mercy meet with Action, into Desire. Let’s keep those thoughts and connections in mind while we explore the nature of Desire.
Most people perceive Desire in a very narrow way. Desire is the Thirst for something. For each person this will be different. And, No, the people that belong in water signs do not have the exclusivity in being thirsty! We are all thirsty and always seeking to satisfy this need.
This, in my view, is the reason that Religion was born. And that’s why even it hadn’t appeared we would certainly have invented it, as some say. The Sun- God was the first belief system that appeared, along with the Moon-Goddess, his female, night companion, united in Light. Lots have changed since then, many Religions have risen and fallen and new ones took their place. What has remained unshaken is Man’s impulse to Believe in something, his need for Faith.
We do live in a material world, but Faith there is, even for those that say they believe in nothing except for tangible things: some put their Faith in food, some in whisky. Others put their Faith in Man, others in Peace, to astrology, on their political party or system, to an idea, to technology, music etc., all of which are supposed to set them free or rescue them (- yes, last night the DJ did save my life!).
So, Faith is a universal need, no matter what someone calls the thing he puts his Faith into. It sees no color, name, century or situation. It’s always there. But why is it there? Why was it given to Man? And what does Water and Thirst have to do with it? The connection is found into the Desire of Man to reach the highest ground he was meant to reach, or to put it in a plainer way, the desire to make the most of what we are. Consequently Desire is closely connected with Faith. As Desire manifests before Faith can appear, it is safe to say, that Faith is nothing more but Desire addressed to a specific purpose.
Charioteer races: Taming the Horses.
Ben Hur was a great Charioteer not only because he knew how to control and treat his horses, but mainly because he had the good sense to assign each horse the place it could give its best. He puts Antares, which was the slowest one, to hold the inside line: Antares is the fixed star known as the “Heart of Scorpio” and has the nature of Mars and Jupiter. Aldebaran, “The Follower”, with nature of Mars is the other one. Next comes Altair, “The Eagle”, with Mars / Jupiter nature again and last Rigel, “The Foot”, with the nature of Jupiter and Mars.
So we have a Scorpion’s heart, a Follower, an Eagle and a Foot. We could make many associations – one of them could be with the Elements, but there is another, more obvious one that demands our attention: all of them have in common a martial nature. The connection between those horses and desire I think is really obvious!
What Ben does is nothing more than using each horse, according to its nature, in order to move forward. More importantly he keeps them under his command. If Mars is desire expressed , than Ben Hur found a way to control it and address it to a specific goal. The problem was that his goal was wrong. He spends most of his life trying to take revenge while all he needed was to learn to forgive.
This is nothing more than Desires gone astray. Luckily for Ben, the scenario gave him redemption at the end. In real life we have to find redemption, mercy and forgiveness- among other things- by ourselves; leveraging our Souls and constantly working on our Desire nature. It usually is a lonely job. People we meet on the way only serve the plot of our lives. But make no mistake. Τhe only objective will always be to learn to control and address this Desire towards the right purpose in our personal charioteer race. What’s right for each person can be different, as each person has come into this world with a different story to live and tell. But in the end we can all agree that we weren’t Thirsty about having more cars, drinks, or Technology. We will not be satisfied in anger, envy or revenge.
All these only remind us how thirsty we are or increase this feeling. It is like desperately needing a glass of Water but having salt or vinegar instead. That’s what happens when Desires lose their way or have taken over us. Like a wayward chariot we shall wander off to nowhere and spend a meaningless life, tortured by endless Thirst. Taming the horses is not as complex as one might think. But it does require controlled action and work. More importantly, as Ben’s story teaches us, there cannot be right action, if that action is not combined with Mercy. In the same way our way to those higher grounds which our soul is destined to desire, must be paved with Faith.
Water we are all given and I think it’s been thoroughly discussed, but like Ben we are also given 3 more horses to use, representing at this point Earth, Fire and Air. Each element has its own purpose in our existence. It would be inaccurate and perhaps unfair to assume that they do not have their own personal views and interests. They certainly do and those will manifest every time they are given the chance. The good news is that they were created in Harmony. This indicates the possibility of cooperation. What we need is to find the balance or to put it in a plainer way, to find the recipe.
Unfortunately – or luckily, I guess it is a matter of perspective - one’s recipe is wrong for the other. One needs more salt, the other a hint of Balsamic vinegar or some lemon zest; another might need a chili pepper to spice things up and another a couple teaspoons of honey. Faith is the gift of Water. Maintenance is the gift of the Earth element. Reason is the gift of the Air and last but not least, Action and Creation, the gifts of Fire. Mix them in the right dosages in your soul kitchen and you’ll get there.
Fire as Action, could be regarded as the most visible impact we have on the world and when viewed from this aspect, it is easy to comprehend why it should not be left to act without the guidance and participation of the other elements. Desire, especially when seen as Faith, cannot be blind or passive as Water can be. Maintenance can’t be an end in itself. And Reason cannot be the ultimate truth. It’s up to us to hold the reins and take our chariot to those higher grounds we long for. Only then will our Thirst be satisfied.
World keeps turning
This article was written about a year ago. Since then Earth took a few spins, fires went out - and a few new ones started- water has irreversibly flowed , land was all shook up and tricky winds blew us away. While taking a look around though, I realize that it is not the scenery that has changed, but the way we look at it. Perhaps it’s the realization that many things are cooked for us, without our awareness, participation or agreement; or that often the difference between right action and misguided action can be blurred - even for those who remember to wear their glasses; perhaps one’s natural inability to accept all those irrational things that are happening around us. Or is it the understanding that we actually were, inside the pot, right from the start?
I’m afraid you’ll have to answer that one on your own, my dear reader. However, as Astrology is a in a way a confession of Faith – after all its creation was based onto the belief that there is intelligibility in the universe and consequently on the existence of a God (no matter how that is named or perceived in every culture or religion) - I can only say this: In these devious times we are living it is more essential than ever to keep our faith in the Cook, for He determines what will come out of the pot. And that, is perhaps the most deeply astrological thing I will ever be able to write in this blog!
Happy Easter to all!
PS: I am delighted to find that the blog overcame 1o.000 views! My warmest thanks to all!