Libra began on September 22nd this year. Libra is the seventh astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans the 180–210th degree of the zodiac, between 180 and 207.25 degree of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between (northern autumnal equinox) September 23 and October 22, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Libra from approximately October 16 to November 17. The symbol of the scales is based on the Scales of Justice held by Themis, the Greek personification of divine law and custom. She became the inspiration for modern depictions of Lady Justice. The ruling planet of Libra is Venus. Libra is the only zodiac constellation in the sky represented by an inanimate object. The other eleven signs are represented either as an animal or mythological characters throughout history. Libra is one of the three zodiac air signs, the others being Gemini and Aquarius. The sign of Libra is symbolized by the scales. According to the Tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Libra when it reaches the southern vernal equinox, which occurs around September 22.
Going back to ancient Greek times, Libra the constellation between Virgo and Scorpio used to be overshadowed by the constellation of Scorpio. They called the area the Latin word “chelae”, which translated to “the claws”. This can help identify the individual stars that make up the full constellation of Libra, since it was so closely identified with the Scorpion constellation in the sky. As things have worked out, Libra is now a slightly larger constellation than Scorpius, but is much less conspicuous.
The identification of this area with a balance became established in the first century BC among the Romans, although exactly when it was introduced and by whom has been lost in the mists of history. Ptolemy in the Almagest, written around AD 150, continued to refer to this constellation as the Claws, preferring to follow Greek tradition even though it was by then being superseded – for example, Libra was shown as a pair of scales on the celestial globe held by the Farnese Atlas, a Roman statue produced about the same time that the Almagest was being written.
According to the Romans in the First Century, Libra was a constellation they idolized. The moon was said to be in Libra when Rome was founded. Everything was balanced under this righteous sign. Beneath it “Rome and her sovereignty of the world were founded”, said the Roman writer Manilius. He described Libra as “the sign in which the seasons are balanced, and the hours of night and day match each other”. It is the sign of the autumn equinox. Thus why the Romans put so much trust in the “balanced sign”.
This is a hint that the Romans visualized Libra as a balance exactly because the Sun lay within it at the autumn equinox, when day and night are equal. Manilius was, though, speaking of the astrological sign rather than the astronomical constellation. By Roman times the autumnal equinox no longer lay within the constellation but had moved into neighbouring Virgo, where it still lies. It crossed the modern constellation boundary from Libra into Virgo around 730 BC.
In fact, the idea of a balance in this area goes back much further than the Romans. The Babylonians knew this area as ZIB.BA.AN.NA, the balance of heaven, around 1000 years BC, when the autumnal equinox did lie among its stars. Hence it seems that the Romans revived a constellation that existed even before Greek times.
Libra’s brightest star, second-magnitude Alpha Librae, is called Zubenelgenubi from the Arabic meaning ‘the southern claw’, a reminder of the Greek identification of this constellation with the claws of the scorpion. Beta Librae is Zubeneschamali, ‘the northern claw’.
Once the identification of Libra with a pair of scales became established it was natural to divorce it entirely from Scorpius and to associate it instead with the other flanking zodiacal figure, Virgo, who was identified with Dike or Astraeia, goddess of justice. Libra thus became the scales of justice held aloft by the goddess – although, in the sky, they were positioned at her feet.
Libra is the cardinal air sign, the word that rules. It’s the mind set on principles and logic, and the will-power to stick to sound conclusions, no matter what. This is the archetype of the Judge, who knows the law and the importance to respect it – or chaos will emerge, soon enough.. Firm but fair.