The Path of the Hero
The signs Cancer and Leo are the tails of the Cosmic Serpent, the healing caduceus. They are the jumping off place for the hero’s journey. From the perspective of mythology, Leo is the hero while Cancer is the huntress, a warrior heroine in her own right.
The hero undertakes a great quest. Jason and his Argonauts sail off in search of the Golden Fleece. Hercules has to complete twelve labors. The eleventh labor of Hercules requires that he gain the immortality giving golden apple of the Hesperides, the prize fruit in Hera’s Garden of Eden. In the Christian story, Adam is aided by Serpent wisdom, and the feminine guidance of Eve, and eats of the sacred Golden Apple of the Garden. The hero, after completion of a successful adventure then gains the hand of the king’s daughter in marriage as reward. Unity is gained.
Adam and Eve mark the continued descent of creation along the cosmic chakra axis mundi, but at this level of relationship, ascension back up this axis becomes possible in order to open a direct connection between spiritual unity and humanity. Heroic ascension back up this path defines the parameters of the hero’s journey. Astrologically, there are two halves to this path, each half marked by the serpentine staff of the caduceus. The feminine ladder leads through six steps to the top. From Cancer, the pathway leads through the feminine signs from Cancer to Virgo, across the zodiac to Taurus, across to Scorpio, over to Pisces, and ending at Capricorn. The masculine heroic path leads from Leo over to Gemini, across the zodiac to Libra, across to Aries, then to Sagittarius, and finally to Aquarius. These two paths intertwine like two mating serpents in intimate embrace.
The path of the hero entails challenges, monsters, and all manner of archetypal enemies at these stations of battle. As the Leo hero ascends up his path, so too does the Cancer heroine ascend her path. The masculine Leo path is individual and the path of the warrior hero. Yet, it is a path that is also open for women to travel as well.
The Masculine Path
The first step along this ascension is marked by the planet Mercury. Mercury rules travel, communication, and thinking, making it an apt beginning for the hero’s journey. At this level, the hero enters the world of Gemini. He begins his Mercury journey. He must connect and communicate with the feminine arena of Virgo, where he will be asked to let go of his ego and find his humility. At this level, the hero often is confronted with a Gemini riddle, something designed to take him out of his rational mind and into a sense of magical thinking, somewhat like the logically senseless Japanese koan. This could be the riddle of his life amid feelings of stagnation and separation from something meaningful. What is the meaning of life, or who am I? Mental techniques such as meditation and prayer are techniques that work very well at this as well as all other levels.
One essential aspect of the hero’s journey is connection with the mysterious power of the feminine in some way that transfers power of some type to the hero. This is often seen as a protective device of some sort, or as guidance. This is in alignment with the protective nature of Cancer. The hero takes the protection afforded by the feminine, by his heroine counterpart, and uses it to master life and go to the next level.
This next level is the dance floor of Libra. Libra rules open enemies as well as intimate relationships. The hero must learn how to embrace his enemies and establish close relationships with them. The split between male and female as well as light and dark, is engaged at this level. The feminine arena of Taurus gives to the hero the protective qualities of monumental and mighty solidity and massive bull-like strength to overcome his enemies. There are monsters at this level that need to be engaged and defeated in a way that heals the basic split in the hero’s psyche and allows him to embrace his shadow side. Here he learns that the best way to defeat an enemy is to make him your friend in a relationship of allies helping each other.
The next level for the hero is the battleground of Aries, where he deepens into his warrior nature and learns to control it and use it. This is also a monstrous level where action and violence assails the hero pushing him to respond accordingly. This is the level where the hero meets his mortality. Part of this is fighting back, courage, but it is also connected with the feminine Scorpio battleground of the subconscious psyche, and death and regeneration. This involves a breaking down and transformation of the Aries warrior ego that allows him to embrace feminine power and be reborn through that regenerative power.
The hero then ascends to the mental heavenly realm of Sagittarius, the Buddhist Universal Mind, and engages the feminine spiritual and highly illogical and dreamlike other-worldly and devotional heavenly realm of Pisces. Sagittarius is logical, but the hero requires the irrational and illogical emotional truths of Pisces and the higher expression of love in order to grasp the lessons at this level.
Beyond this is the masculine utopian arena of Aquarius balanced by the feminine arena of Capricorn. The hero gains invaluable heavenly and spiritual knowledge and insights from these top levels and then returns to his relationship, his family and community to share what he has learned. He gains freedom from the limitations of his familial father, or the head of the village or tribe, and becomes a complete and whole individuated man in his own right. He finds immortality. He becomes a true hero.
The Feminine Path
The feminine approach to heroism can easily be along this same path. This path is open to everyone regardless of gender. On the other hand, women can choose to take the left hand path through Cancer to the feminine sign Capricorn. This path is the path of relationship rather than individual achievement.
The first step for the heroine is into the world of Virgo in balance to his Gemini, where she learns humility and service. This can be a very controversial idea, but it does fit the astrological ladder very nicely. Humility and service do not imply an inferior role for a woman to the presumed state of masculine superiority. Holding this image of inequality actually blocks the heroic path for men before it even begins as they negate any of the feminine benefits that they must gain on their journey. Humility needs to be seen as a lesson in simple equality, where the masculine ego is purified in order for the hero to gain the strength to go farther. A humble attitude opens the hero for profound solutions to his riddle to come up from his subconscious or to show themselves from the darkness of the mystery.
A woman at this level can choose, if she wishes, to be humble and be of service to her chosen man, becoming an example for him to follow. If a man does not honor her humility with service to her in return, if her humility only feeds his ego, then she is free to go in another direction and choose her own heroic journey. Her humility is in service to the relationship of the couple’s heroic journey and no more. Humility opens her to her source of creative power, and her man would be wise to honor that in her and find his own humility in his dealings with her.
Her next step is the land of Taurus, balancing her man’s step into Libra. Here she becomes sensuous and sexual, seducing her man to give up his violent ways and embrace her as an opposite pole within creation. She symbolizes for her partner the archetype of open enemy. Her enticing allure serves to soften his warrior nature and bring out his potential for becoming the lover. In this way the heroic woman guides the heroic man into his heart, an essential step for man to take if he is to succeed on his journey, especially before they proceed to the next level.
From Taurus, the heroine steps up and does battle with Scorpio, the sign of power and death. This sign is the feminine balance to the hero’s sojourn in Aries. This is where the heroine connects with her depth, her power, and her ability to regenerate in any situation. She gives to her hero the courage to descend into the underworld of death in order to bring her back into the light. This is no easy task for she is death as well as life. The hero, as he leads her to freedom, hears desperate sounds behind him and too often turns to make sure that she is OK, and in that moment he loses her to death.
Most men desire to keep their women ensconced in Virgo service to them as the Taurus sensuous and highly feminine and refined beautiful reflection of life. The heroic step into the Aries battle is doomed to failure without the potentially deadly Scorpio mystery of woman, both beautiful and ugly, to guide him. Most heroes fail at this darkly intense level of the journey. A hero must dive into his own subconscious, meet his monsters and demons, sacrifice his ego, and return as a more complete or more authentic human being than before. A hero dives into the very mystery of creation, embraces the dark and heavy nature of love, compulsion, the need to suffer or to die for something greater than oneself. The hero battles the dark aspects of creation, and wrests their power from them. He cannot do this with his ego intact.
Here, a woman becomes the guide to the underworld for her partner. She shows him how to love more completely, and to merge with her at the deepest level possible. The Aries individual ego will come up against his own personal selfish desires. He will have to deal with jealousy, compulsive attractions, fears dealing with power, control and being a victim. If he learns to love his partner enough, from deep within his heart, then he will learn to embrace the shadow within both himself and within the dark half of creation.
There is a strong potential for death and personal destruction in this. He must learn to embrace the dark while not letting go of the light. It is his job to shine his light into the dark in order to reveal deeply held secrets within that mystery. The heroine, if she feels loved and cherished, will help him to remain in the light of her love. She becomes his beacon in the dark. His love for her protects him from slipping completely into the dark side. The hero then proceeds to transform himself through psychological and spiritual work, anything that is deeply transformative, even suffering, to align himself with the more esoteric, powerful, and intensely loving image that his heroine wants from him. There is creative power in this for our hero and heroine.
If her hero survives this step and moves up to the land of Sagittarius, she then slips into the world of Pisces. The hero embraces a creative and intellectual Sagittarius vision of a heavenly or religious world that spreads out far beyond the known universe. At this heavenly level he must embrace the divine Pisces love and devotion that his heroine offers him. She offers him the direct experience of a love that expands to a universal love, along with a sense of deep personal devotion bordering on the spiritual that infuses his spiritual vision with profound meaning. While the hero embraces the concept and practice of organized religion, his heroine presents him with the possibility that true religious experience can be found within his relationship, and a masculine devotion to and reverence for the feminine.
The hero then steps up to Aquarius and enlightenment. This is an individual process and remains incomplete without the heroine stepping into the world of Capricorn. The hero gains all the knowledge of the universe, both physical and spiritual, but does not know how to apply what he has learned. Capricorn rules how to efficiently use all natural resources, including his new found heavenly knowledge. His heroine directs him to remain connected with life and community. His love for her translates into an abiding love for all of life. The heroine directs her hero to return to his family and community to apply and teach his knowledge for the benefit of humanity. This return to (Capricorn) society is the final step in the hero’s journey. It is made possible because of the feminine, of women and their own heroine’s journey.
The hero’s path is marked by a descent into a hell of sorts. This is astrologically marked by a higher rulership of the outer three planets of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto over the zodiac. The astrologer June Wakefield in her book Cosmic Astrology placed these planets as overlords over four signs each in such a way that reveals the power of the Christian cross as an astrological, archetypal symbol.
The planet Pluto is not a mere co-ruler of Scorpio, but is the overlord of the signs Aries, Taurus, Libra and Scorpio. This defines the horizontal axis from the Ascendant to the Descendant. The planet Uranus is overlord of the four signs Cancer, Leo, Capricorn, and Aquarius. This defines the vertical axis mundi from the IC at the bottom to the Midheaven. The Uranus axis mundi is the axis of creation and the ladder of the heroic journey. The Pluto crossing axis is the challenge, descent into hell that the hero struggles through on his ascent to the glory of heaven.
There are often one or two hellish rivers that the hero must cross. One is a poisonous river of toxic emotions that runs between Taurus and Libra at the Venus level. The other is a devilishly torrential river of violent energies that runs between Aries and Scorpio. These rivers connect the surrounding River Ocean that circles the zodiac, with the heart through the Ascendant to the center of the zodiac where love and Venus sit. Water is feminine and emotional. Crossing either of these rivers requires the help of the feminine, the heroine. The feminine gives the hero passage across each river.
Rarely do any of us even consciously embark on our necessary hero’s journey let alone attain any level of heroic accomplishment on this path. Yet, we all are enmeshed in this journey whether we wish it or not. It is imprinted in our DNA, and within our relationships, women are always trying to push men to accomplish, to open to our vulnerabilities, to become the men that they see in us. We have lived countless lifetimes struggling and suffering with this journey. As we enter the Age of Aquarius, and the heroic Leo opposition to Aquarius, the hero’s journey will become more conscious and successful.