by: X. Helia Allegra
1. AN ASTRONOMICAL VIEW OF THE TWINS
This year, the sun enters the constellation of Gemini on May 20, at 5:29 AM GMT (12:29 AM EST). Gemini, the Twins, lies right along the Milky Way and the ecliptic (region where the sun and planets are constrained) passes through it. Many clusters and nebulae are visible in this constellation. North of Canis Minor, The Twins contain two of the brightest stars in the sky, Castor and Pollux.
Castor is actually a six-star system, being a visual triple (each component of which a binary star). The three components are an eclipsing binary and a pair of spectroscopic binaries. The system of Castor is about 50 light years distance from earth, and is one of the 25 brightest “stars” in the sky.
Pollux is an orange giant and is the nearest giant star, lying at a distance of 35 light years from earth. Its magnitude makes it one of the 20 brightest stars in the sky, slightly brighter than Castor.
Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the Summer Solstice now lies at the end of the month of Gemini, rather than in Cancer, as it did 2000 years ago (This year’s Summer Equinox is June 21, 1:24 PM GMT/8:24 AM EST, the moment of solar ingress into Cancer).
An annual meteor shower known as the Geminids appears to radiate from this constellation during the second week in December. Gemini is a Winter constellation, and reaches its highest point in the evening sky in February.
2. SYMBOLOGY OF GEMINI
The pictograph is a depiction of the two figures of the Twins. The dual symbol also represents the human arms and lungs, the parts of the body ruled by Gemini. In symbolic terms, two upright lines bound by top and bottom lines represent wisdom, learning, and the powers of the mind to synthesize information.
The most apparent interpretation of the glyph is the Roman numeral two, II, which perfectly defines the dualistic nature of the sign. This symbol veils much more complex allegorical implications. On the physical plane, we see II depicts the body parts ruled by the sign (as mentioned previously). II also illustrates the bilateral structure of the larynx, for those born under Mercury’s sway are gifted, expressive orators.
The Gemini-Born are concerned with diversity and variety in communicating their ideas. Their duality portrays a polarity of mental processes. Although Mercury is the embodiment of reason, these individuals have the ability to utilize intuition as easily as they access their rational mind. Gemini energy in its highest form embodies the idea of the union of twin souls for greater creativity. It is also the force of rational mind united with spirit that manifests physically in the dexterous, agile use of the hands and the clever application of words.
3. LEDA, THE SWAN, AND THE ADVENTURES OF THE DIOSCURI
The third constellation in the zodiac represents two heroic Greek brothers named Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces). The brothers are portrayed as twins, in many accounts, although their true lineage is undetermined. In some versions of the myth, the boys are the offspring of Leda’s union with Zeus in the guise of a beautiful swan. Leda gave birth to an egg from which sprang the Twins, also known as the Dioscuri, or “sons of Zeus”. Other tales describe the boys as the Tyndarides, or “sons of Tyndareus”, who was Leda’s actual husband. A third story cites King Tyndareus as the fathor of Castor and Clytemnestra, while Zeus sired Pollux and Helen of Troy. The four were born at the same time, despite having two different fathers.
The Twins were inseparable from the moment they were born, and both were strong, talented athletes. Castor was known for his skill in taming and training horses, while Pollux was a celebrated and formidable boxer.
Together, they had many adventures, including the recovery of their sister Helen when Theseus and Pirithius abducted her. Theseus held her captive in Athens, but the Dioscuri rescued her when Theseus was away on business.
The brothers were valued members of the Argonauts, and they greatly anticipated their expedition with Jason. During the voyage, a savage storm developed. Orpheus played his harp and prayed to the Samothracian gods, and his efforts soon tamed the wild seas. When the storm ceased, stars appeared on the heads of Castor and Pollux. After this fortunate event, the Dioscuri were considered the patron deities of seamen and voyagers. Even today, the lambent flames (which, in certain atmospheric conditions, dance around the mast and sails of vessels) are called by their names.
The Twins participated in the Calydonian boar hunt. With mutual support and affection, each encouraged the other to perform to the very best of their abilities.
Castor was slain during a battle with the Leucippidae. Pollux was inconsolable for the loss of his beloved brother, and pleaded with Zeus to give his own life as ransom for his brother’s. Zeus was deeply touched by the continued display of brotherly love between them, and allowed the brothers to enjoy life alternately by spending one day in Hades, the next in the heavens. In another version of the story, Zeus rewards their attachment by placing the brothers in the heavens as the constellation Gemini.