The Lion and the Maiden
Fixed star Regulus has been the dominant star in constellation Leo for millannia. It's associated with royalty—especially male royalty. Now precession has pushed it forward into Virgo. What does this mean for us in modern times?
The King is dead. Long live the Queen!
Well, he's not exactly dead, but he's not exclusively running the show anymore either.
How can a star move into a different sign? To understand this, you need to know that there are two different zodiacs: tropical and sidereal. In a nutshell, the tropical zodiac is measured relative to Earth's seasons, whereas the sidereal zodiac is measured relative to the fixed stars themselves.
So does that mean the star Regulus is physically in the constellation of Virgo now? Does it actually move? Well no, not relative to the constellations and other fixed stars (hence the term "fixed" stars). Constellations you gaze at in the sky remain the same (they do change slightly, but we're talking about thousands of years to notice a difference). This sign change for Regulus has to do with the way the two zodiac systems interact with each other. (diagram below)
The Dance of Precession
Due to a very gradual wobble in the Earth's rotation, these two zodiacs are out of sync. (Think of a spinning top, where the top of its spinning axis gradually moves around in a circle.) The tropical zodiac shifts "backwards" (anti-zodiacal direction) through the sidereal zodiac, a phenomenon called Precession of the Equinoxes or just Precession.
This means that zero degrees of Aries in the tropical system is no longer aligned with the constellation of Aries, but with Pisces, known as the Age of Pisces. Soon, the zero Aries point will reach the constellation of Aquarius, known as the Age of Aquarius. When this actually happens is a matter of considerable debate among astrologers. (It all depends on how you measure signs and constellations, for which there is no shortage of options!)
In any case, as the tropical zodiac precesses backwards through the sidereal zodiac, the sidereal fixed stars seem to move forward through the tropical zodiac. As a result, occasionally a star in a sidereal constellation becomes aligned with the next tropical zodiac sign. Precession, and therefore the fixed stars, "move" veeeeery slowly, at a rate of just 1 degree every 72 years. So when a fixed star moves into a different sign, it's a rare and noteworthy event.
And yet, with so many stars in the heavens, this sign change actually happens on a fairly regular, if infrequent, basis (several years apart, on average). For example, from 1000 to 2000 CE, there were only 18 sign changes of major stars (using the Bernadette Brady collection of 50 stars, used in Solar Fire astrology software). The most recent sign changes happened in 2000 (Alcyone of the Taurus constellation, into tropical Gemini) and 1970 (Mirach of the Andromeda constellation, into tropical Taurus), and nothing until 1875 (Altair of the Aquila constellation, into tropical Aquarius). So you see how rare it is!
From King to Queen, God to Goddess
What makes this particular change of sign so remarkable? It's Regulus—one of the best known and most highly regarded stars in the visible sky. Many cultures over millennia have considered this star very important and often associate it with royalty, military honours and so on. So with it changing signs, this is a very significant event, and is bound to have vast implications for the way we experience and express the archetype of authority and leadership.
Regulus has been aligned with the tropical sign of Leo since around 157 BCE. Now—virtually as we speak—it is moving from Leo into Virgo. Exactly when this happens depends on where you look for the information. Calculations can vary slightly from one computer program to another, and since the fixed stars move so slowly, it can be a real challenge to pinpoint a precise date. Some sources say it's already there, since Sep.17.2011. Others say it doesn't happen until sometime in 2012. According to my research using Solar Fire Gold v.8 astrology software, it crosses into Virgo on Nov.28.2011 at 6:34 AM EST (which is 11:34 AM GMT in the UK, or 10:34 PM AEDT in Australia). *shrug* Take your pick.
Perhaps all we really know—and all that's really important—is that the Regulus energy is currently in transition from the Leo archetype into the Virgo archetype. There are a number of implications that make this especially significant for our times. The first one is that Leo is associated with masculine energy. It is ruled by the Sun, the dominant male archetypal energy in our solar system. And it has long been associated with Kings and positions of authority that historically were held only by men.
Virgo, on the other hand, is a distinctly feminine energy. It has the only female symbol in the zodiac—a maiden holding a sheaf of harvested grain. This is Goddess energy! The Sacred Feminine. This is the Universe as the bountiful, fertile Mother who gives birth to the world, feeds and protects her children, and nurtures them to maturity.
Our world is now at a point in its evolution when it is waking up to the fact that feminine energy, and women themselves, have long been misunderstood, oppressed, abused and maligned. For the last 100-200 years, and especially the last 50, women have been collectively reclaiming their power in the Western world, and more recently other regions have begun to show signs of change as well. The Goddess as a spiritual archetype is gradually beginning to be embraced and integrated into many religious traditions which for millennia have been dominated by a male God archetype.
Regulus moving into the feminine sign of Virgo at this time seems to reflect the changes that we have already been seeing for a century or so. It might seem at first glance like the timing is off, but these changes evolve glacially. After all, we're talking about changing attitudes that have persisted for many millennia. It's going to take time.
Regulus ~ Embracing the Archetypal King AND Queen
How will you notice or experience the difference between a Leo Regulus and a Virgo Regulus? Well, you might not notice anything at all, personally. It's not like a light switch where one day it's off and the next day it's on. The effects are gradual, but just look at our changing world!
Just a hundred years ago, or thereabouts, women didn't have the vote in most countries, weren't allowed to own property, and were treated literally or figuratively as property. Although in many countries there still exists a double standard by which women are judged by different rules than are men, awareness about this is gradually shifting collective attitudes. At the other end of the scale, in many countries around the world women are being elected to positions of political power. Quite a change from not having the right to vote just a short time ago!
Perhaps the better question is: how do we each move in sync with this changing energy and invite it into our lives? Start with observation. Watch for times when you become aware of a receptive, deep, feeling nature inside you or in others. How has that nature changed from what you might have observed 50 years ago? 100 years ago? In women versus men?
As our experience of feminine (yin) energy changes, our expression of masculine (yang) energy will change also. Do you see a difference in how you or others approach conflict resolution? Do you notice a changing focus from win/lose (Mars energy) to cooperation and negotiation (Venus energy)?
Change is complex, and it never happens in a straight line. Any gradual transition like this involves swinging back and forth between extremes: one step forward, two steps back, three steps forward, one step back, and so on, as we inch our way along the path. As some people will want to make changes in a new direction, others will want to stay with the old, "tried and true" ways, and therefore attempt to put on the brakes. Or, they might instinctively feel that something important is at risk of being lost in the change, so they want to slow things down until we can figure out how to untangle the knots between the old and the new without breaking the cords of continuity.
We went through a similar process to this during the Saturn-Uranus opposition in 2008-2010, so we've had a few years to work on some of those knots. Sometimes knots get tighter as you try to untie them, but it's important to keep working at it—just more strategically. Impulsive moves and angry overreaction will just make the situation worse and the knots tighter.
So, even if you observe events or attitudes that swing back toward the masculine and away from the feminine, this is a natural part of the transitional process. It's still important to keep working toward a new balance of masculine and feminine, but it doesn't necessarily mean the forces of the future are losing the battle to the forces of the past. It's an inevitable part of that "ebb and flow" cyclical progression.
From a Star's Perspective
Regulus as a fixed star doesn't much care about our moment-to-moment struggles down here on Earth. At the Regulus level, we're just a blue marble—another dot in the sky, if we can be seen at all. In other words, the Regulus perspective is a very broad one that sees us in a vast context. Sometimes it can help to see ourselves that way too. Short-term conflicts are but small parts in the overall process that gets us where we are going. Consider this: if you had landed anywhere on Earth 2000 years ago, with the kind of problems, challenges and attitudes that existed then, would you imagine how we could ever get to where we are today?
Virgo is an Earth sign, which is all about growth, nurturing and harvesting what we have planted. It's significant that our awareness has been turning recently to the realization that we have to take better care of our planet, or risk driving ourselves and other species into extinction. There's no shortage of problems: pollution of the land, water and air; expanding population without an effective system to support everyone's survival; overharvesting of our resources that either damage the Earth or leave it ravaged; and of course, our persistent intolerance and anger with each other that can now be fought with weapons of mass destruction that could annihilate us all. With Regulus in earthy Virgo, we are starting to recognize the sanctity and preciousness of our planet, and the crucial need to become better custodians of it.
Perhaps we need to take a lesson from the Greek Goddess Demeter (Ceres in the Roman pantheon), whom Virgo has been associated with. In the ancient myths, this goddess of agriculture oversaw the growing of all things. When her daughter, Persephone, was abducted by Pluto into the Underworld, Demeter was so distraught that she refused to allow anything to grow until she finally found her daughter and brought her home. Since then, Persephone returns every year to her underworld home with Pluto. Demeter again mourns and can't function or allow the crops to grow, until her daughter finally returns in the spring.
As we find our world labouring under the weight of our neglect, abuse and greed, we too seem to be mourning the loss of something precious to our collective consciousness as well—our archetypal feminine energy. And like Demeter, we seem to be attempting to retrieve this part of us from the hidden Underworld, in order to rebalance and heal our planet and our collective psyche.
King + Queen = ?
It's tempting to say something clever like, "The King is dead. Long live the Queen!" But I don't think we're in a process of simply swapping one energy for another. Rather, we are collectively trying to create a marriage of equals between opposite (and, historically, conflicting) archetypes, that will be based on mutual respect and cooperation. This is a time to build a bridge between those opposites, and to explore the vast spaces in between them where sexuality is not simply one extreme or the other.
We are beginning to see this in Western culture as we begin to acknowledge, accept and integrate expressions of sexuality and sexual identity that do not conform to the black-and-white definitions we've used historically. Examples include: same-sex marriage and transgender people; also those who do not identify with just one sex, and in some cases are born with mixed physical characteristics of both genders. The historically masculine Regulus moving into the feminine Virgo would seem to be manifesting (at least currently) as an awakening about how these archetypes are in fact blended in diverse and varying ways—another indication that this transition is more about finding a balance and harmony between these energies, not for one to conquer the other.
A thousand years from now, we will no doubt look back on this time and marvel at how far we've come from narrow attitudes and understanding that cast value judgments based on gender and framed human potential in such limited ways. We'll be amazed at how we managed to survive our collective immaturity, treating our planet like a sand box where we could play destructively and then expect Mom to clean up after us.
Well, Mom is here. And she's pissed. It's time to grow up.
© Wendy Guy 2011, all right reserved. Beyond brief quotes or strictly personal purposes, please obtain written permission from the author before reproducing this article or using images. Painting The Dream by Henri Rousseau via WikiArt.org. Illustraion of Regulus' position by Precession, © 2020 Wendy Guy, all rights reserved.