From Chiron and Achilles, John Singer Sargent

Sagittarius is your adventurous spirit that yearns for freedom. Ruled by Jupiter, it is the part of you that seeks wisdom, justice, hope and ways to connect to something greater than yourself.

To make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe.~ Carl Sagan

"Why?" It's probably the most profound question that one can ask. Why? Because it opens doors to new information, new truths, new possibilities. Why? Because it leads the questioner beyond their present reality. Why? Because as human beings, we're endlessly curious. Why? Because we have a passion to explore beyond our immediate perimeter, to see what's over the next horizon. Why? Because we're blessed (cursed?) with the ability to see the big picture and we want to fill in the gaps that are missing.

Why? Because we always want to know and to do that, we must take into account as much information as possible. Why? Because if we draw conclusions from incomplete information, we risk forming incorrect decisions that mislead us in further explorations. Why? Because we think the big picture looks like "this" and it really looks like "that" and so we can get lost on our way to our destination. Why? Because we take the wrong road and then we find ourselves in some place we hadn't intended to go, and that can be distressing for us.

Why? Because we seek the truth. Why? Because we want to better ourselves and our world. Why? Because we are blessed (cursed?) with the capacity to have a vision of what is possible. Why? Because we are complex creatures who are greater than the sum of our parts and, as such, we are capable of seeing the world and life as being potentially greater than the sum of their parts. Why? Because as we see the vast diversity of humanity, with its different languages, cultures, religions and perspectives, we realize the tremendous potential inherent in humanity.

Why? Because what we're capable of is infinite. Why? Because the more we know, the more we realize we don't know, and the more we discover that we don't know, the more we have to learn. Why? Because life is infinite. Why? Because, although history repeats itself, it never repeats in exactly the same way; everything that happens fundamentally alters the nature of what is and, therefore, what can be. Why? Because each event or influence introduces something new to what is, which changes what is; and so even if the same event happens, it's happening to something new; so the essential nature of life is change and growth. Why? Because its basic design makes it that way.

Why? Because whatever forces created the universe set something into motion that follows from itself and progresses through itself. Why? Because the forces that shaped the universe are still in effect and still shape and move the actions of the universe. Why? Because those forces are omnipresent and, as such, form a context within which all events occur and within which we all are held and fostered. Why? Because we are products of past events and influences in the universe, and therefore are subject to the same forces which created us. Why? Because we are imbued with those forces and are destined to sustain and perpetuate those forces. Why? Because this is the nature of the universe: growth and change. Why...??

Seeking Sagittarius

Sagittarius glyphThis strange rambling is a game I once played as a child no matter what the person says, you respond, "Why?" and the person must explain their previous statement. It was always intriguing because it was potentially endless and could take you into all kinds of unexpected pockets of fascinating ideas. This is the essence of Sagittarius to meander through life and explore whatever is there to find, and to divine meaning from what is.

The zodiac sign Sagittarius is the part of us that is the Seeker after ideas, after information, after experience, after Truth. It's more than simple curiosity, though; it involves a purpose that transcends mere information gathering (as in Gemini). This is about finding the meaning in the raw data; distinguishing the patterns within the details; discovering the higher Truth in the facts. People with strong Sagittarius are truth seekers; they strive to determine the superior integrity within life.

Sagittarius and its ruling planet, Jupiter, represent:

  • travel, foreign languages, countries, people;
  • publishing, teaching, university, higher learning, pattern recognition;
  • philosophy, beliefs, opinions, knowledge, meaning;
  • expansion, growth, decadence, greed;
  • truth, wisdom, vision, prophecy;
  • justice, judges, lawyers and the law;
  • religion, spirituality, dogma, faith, what's sacred;
  • morals, ethics, ideals, righteousness;
  • judgment, bias, prejudice;
  • horses, jockeys, sportsmen;
  • generosity, philanthropy, abundance, optimism.

From this grab bag, we can identify a common thread that is about discovery, exploration and probing beyond the known world. Sagittarius, the archer, is forever shooting arrows far upward and outward, reaching beyond its grasp to touch the edges of the universe and then find out what lies beyond that. Sagittarius teaches us that no matter what we think we know, there's something to learn beyond that. If we think we've found the answers, we must ask ourselves if we're asking the right questions. Every truth leads to a new inquiry; every conclusion to a new implication and therefore to a new question. Sagittarius moves toward endless expansion and, as such, represents life's self-perpetuating growth.

The Rainbow After the Storm

Sagittarius proceeds from the achievements of the previous sign, Scorpio. In Scorpio, we faced the Dark Night of the Soul in which we questioned and probed into everything we are, that we could know the depths of the human soul. In Sagittarius, we now aspire to the heights of human potential, but this isn't possible until we've faced our Scorpionic darkness. How can we soar toward the best we can be until we've faced and accepted the worst of ourselves?

After Scorpio unearths the sordid facts of our worst hour, Sagittarius seeks the higher meaning and truth in our experience. Sagittarius is what we encounter after emerging from the Scorpio crucible and ask, "I've survived; now what?" In Sagittarius we rediscover our optimism and joy, our faith and vision, our sense of meaning and wonder.

When confronting our worst nightmare in Scorpio, it can seem like everything we held as sacred and true is now dashed and destroyed. Sagittarius leads us into a quest for new meaning, new allegiance and a renewal of spirit. In Sagittarius, we envision the best of what is possible. We begin to reassess our potential and find a new direction.

As we examine what feels true to us, we formulate new beliefs, new understanding, and a new sense of morality (what is right, based on what is true). When we see a truth and a righteous way of being, it's a short step to want to institute guidelines or principles by which to live one's life (laws and religious dogma).

Whose Truth?

There are pitfalls and traps in every sign, and Sagittarius is no exception. As soon as we start to speak about a higher truth or a more righteous philosophy, we must ask ourselves if we hold these beliefs because they serve our ego needs, or because there is inherent truth in them. And if someone attempts to share their truth or beliefs with another person, is this done in a spirit of giving or imposition?

When we have found answers that work for us, it is very easy to believe that those answers must work for everyone. Some people believe so fervently in their particular philosophy that they also believe in their right to judge others by how closely others' beliefs match their own. When we've found answers that meet our spiritual needs so perfectly, it's hard to be reserved in our enthusiasm enough to say, "I've found A truth," and instead declare, "I've found THE truth."

But Sagittarius (indeed, all of astrology) teaches us about the vast diversity of human expression, needs, vision and values. Our planet houses an expansive multiplicity of the human spirit. As our world shrinks and we increasingly connect with each other, we are challenged to meet through mutual respect, appreciation and tolerance, rather than prejudice, judgment and dogmatism.

This is especially true with Pluto having just entered Sagittarius in 1995. Racial prejudice and hatred is a worldwide problem that is rousing global concern. The 20th century has sensitized us to the dangers and horrors of intolerance toward others' ethnicity or beliefs, from the holocaust to Bosnia, from Ireland to the Middle East, from the aboriginal struggle for independence throughout the world to the struggle we all share to live together in peace. If we are to survive, we must learn to honour each other's differences, not crush or dismiss them. If we fail this lesson, we could annihilate each other in the name of truth and justice. Each group may win a battle or two, but collectively we will lose the war.

Questions and More Questions...

And yet, it's not enough to say, "Okay, so we're all different. Let's leave it at that." Sooner or later values clash, ethics collide and actions motivated by a particular belief system will violate the boundaries of others in some way. This is just part of life: we are bound to cross each other's path in a way that conflicts rather than enriches. We disagree about who has dominant access to land. We argue about how to deal with crime. We fight about what constitutes crime.

In Sagittarius we ask the tough moral and ethical questions. When we see a parent slap a child, do we intervene (and risk imposing our way on another) or mind our own business (and risk aiding and abetting what we believe is wrongdoing). The Nuremberg trials, in which Nazi soldiers were convicted of war crimes despite their plea that they were "just following orders," demonstrated that the western world considers the individual to be responsible for assessing the moral implications of his/her choices, actions and behaviour. It is no longer acceptable to delegate responsibility to someone else if someone directs us to do something, it doesn't mean we're absolved from our agreement to do it.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~ Edmund Burke, British Political Theorist, 1729-1797

This suggests we are also personally responsible to ensure that wrongdoing does not flourish due to our neglect, apathy or indifference. During the holocaust, many people felt a personal responsibility to do whatever they could to assist the efforts of the resistance. To do less would be to passively enable the degradation and destruction of innocent human life.

Today, those who protest against abortion also believe it is wrong to stand passively by while human life is taken. "But what about the mother's right to govern her own body?" cry those who support freedom of choice. Surely a potential life should not have a power of veto over an actual one? The priorities in such a situation are not clear. Each side has valid points, and there are probably at least as many viewpoints as there are people. Sagittarius is the zodiacal energy that explores the wormy issues, trying to determine the big picture from a few conflicting pieces of it. It's not an easy job and there is never a final answer that doesn't get turned upside down later when new information is added to the puzzle.

Lest Ye Be Judged

The only thing that's clear in Sagittarius is that everyone is compelled to make the journey into this unknown territory, whether we adhere to someone else's system of beliefs that closely reflect our own (as in institutionalized religions, cults, etc.), or whether we embark on a quest to find our own answers (through a more solitary spiritual journey). Either way, we must form an allegiance with whatever we feel is right.

And the more complicated and multifarious the world becomes, the more we are called upon to choose our spiritual adherence with great care. Who and what we align ourselves with can be a flag we fly that represents who we are, and can therefore be a criteria for judgment. Witness how astrologers are often judged to be flaky, gullible fools, and whether the judgers have ever studied the subject is usually not considered to be a relevant factor in the assessment.

Judgment and assessment are close cousins that are both part of the Sagittarian territory. When we judge others, we hold a moral conclusion about them and assume our perception is an accurate view of their essential nature in other words, we believe we see the truth about them. We judge people, situations, things and ideas as morally good or bad. When someone breaks the law, they are judged to be unfit to live freely within society without restriction, and they are punished through jail, fine, etc. When we judge others (or ourselves) we conclude that the person is unfit or unworthy in some way.

Although judgment has its place in our world, it is often used to condemn that which is more a representative of our own Shadow fears and biases. Racism is a variation of judgment based on emotionally charged opinion and designed to pass as dispassionate assessment. Blame is another form of judgment that takes a one-sided view of a person and concludes they have sole responsibility for a situation. Judge not lest ye be judged alludes to the principle whereby our judgments reflect (at least) as much about ourselves as they do about the judged.

Assessment, on the other hand, is a more neutral medium by which we appraise value, usefulness or validity based on certain criteria. Although this is similar to judgment, it doesn't necessarily involve a moral perspective. It is more objective and detached. Assessment is essential for our survival in the world. If we did not form assessments of our surroundings we could not make decisions or learn.

The sentience that is begun in Gemini, the polar opposite to Sagittarius, is brought to a height of objective self-awareness in Sagittarius, partly through assessment of our environment. Our opinions, moral values and ideals are formed from our assessments; and our opportunities, speculations and search for meaning are meaningless without the function of assessment to guide us and advise us.

Knowledge and Wisdom

Jupiter glyphThe Sagittarian qualities of judgment and assessment are two edges of a sword that we wield in the name of truth, justice and the quest for the ideal. It can ruthlessly cut through the bonds of reason and truth, or it can cut through TO reason. And we have only our power of assessment to tell us if our opinions are based on one or the other. This is the tricky part of Sag we must pull ourselves up by our philosophical and speculative bootstraps. And we can never be sure if we've grasped a supreme Truth, or if our beliefs are like the planet Jupiter big balls of gas with an impressive image but little substance.

There are no boundaries in Sagittarius, save what we have collectively agree is the truth. Philosophically speaking, everything we know is purely a result of speculation and reasoning based on our root assumptions. Nothing is given and all our understanding is a function of assumption. We assume that because the sun has come up every day of our lives, it will come up tomorrow. We assume that because certain laws of the universe have operated consistently, they will continue to do so tomorrow. We assume we are real and that our lives are not a dream. (Chuang Tse woke after a dream that he was a butterfly and wondered if he was now a butterfly dreaming he was a man.) We assume others are real and not a figment of our imagination. (Are people around us manifestations of our consciousness, like characters in a dream?)

The deeper experience of this questioning is continued in Pisces, Jupiter's other sign, but for now in Sagittarius, we are challenged to simply acknowledge that reality is not necessarily the solid medium we assume it to be. Our knowledge is based on our assumptions about it. If we assume that we live on a flat earth, our belief shapes our perceptions and conclusions. If we believe that gender or skin colour can render someone inferior, we will frame our observations of people accordingly, using our evidence as proof that our assumptions are correct. Knowledge is a very malleable, mutable thing.

However, if we assume that truth exists and that it is possible to know something anything! about our existence and our environment, then it follows that it is possible to amass knowledge to the point of wisdom. We gain wisdom when we have enough knowledge to proclaim the nature of the world around us, of human nature, of the Universe, Itself. Ironically, wisdom both is founded on our root assumptions (through the knowledge that is harvested from them) and yet is not afraid to scrutinize those very assumptions. It is only with an open mind that we can also be open to wisdom the highest stratum of knowledge.

The Great Expanse

Sagittarius would have us stretch ourselves to touch the face of God and know what it is possible to know, beyond our doubts, beyond our human limitations, beyond the light and darkness of human frailty. Through Sagittarius we are driven to touch our divine spirit and explore the pathways between it and the myriad of ways in which that spirit manifests itself. This includes all the expressions of that spirit, including our cultures, our religions, our philosophies and our areas of knowledge all regions in the territory of Sagittarius. These regions are further explored in Aquarius from a more holistic viewpoint, but for now our itinerary is to explore the many domains of Human understanding to discover who and what lives there.

We must expand our horizons on every level, find new truths, scout out unexplored territory and be open to all that we encounter. Whether it is our religious or spiritual beliefs, our philosophy of life, our awareness of root assumptions, our motives and mission in sharing our knowledge, our attitudes about diversity, or our vision of what could be, Sagittarius brings us to the edges of the known universe and compels us beyond.

High Flight Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or even eagle flew - And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand and touched the face of God. ~ John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

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