Astronomical designation: Epsilon Ursae Majoris
Alioth is a significant star in the constellation Ursa Major, the Greater She-Bear. The name derives from an incorrect understanding of Alyut, rendered in a longer form as ‘the fat tail of the eastern sheep’ – the star does indeed sit in the tail of the Greater She-Bear. Ultimately, however, Alioth’s name seems connected with al-Hawwar, ‘the white of the eye’ – meaning something like, ‘intensely bright’, the burning white of the staring human eye. The concept of burning brightly is much more relevant to the meaning of Alioth than anything to do with animal tails.
The little remaining astrological tradition surrounding Alioth is negative, and like all the stars of Ursa Major it is burdened with the demonized dark feminine of patriarchal lore. There are themes here to do with destruction as well as creation, and the darker potential of feminine shakti has always scared the daylights out of patriarchal sky-god votaries. Most of the problems with Alioth seem to arise from unrealistic expectations and from excessive behaviours. This star has some commonalities with (traditional) Algol, but with Alioth, you are challenged to find the strength to outstare that intensely bright basilisk eye, rather than the Gorgon’s head. It’s ultimately not outside you but your own shakti, reflected back as from a mirror. You need to own it, integrate it, and use it wisely and well. With Alioth your will is being tested, and with it, your courage and resolution. It grants power, but also demands discretion and wisdom. Such quiet virtues can be lost sight of under Alioth, because you get blindsided or carried away. But if you can detach from any tumult around you and work quietly with the strengths of this star – which ultimately become your own – you can do truly good work and achieve solid, even great, results. This star does demand patience and perseverance, with the faith and resilience to maintain sight of the goal and play the long game. Some sacrifices may be needed along the way, but they are worth it in the end. The right end with this star is actually a very good end indeed!
One man who figured out how to own and exercise the shakti of his Alioth-Sun-Black Moon Lilith synergy was Johann von Goethe, one of the great people with genius in all history. He is best known now for his Romantic novel about the idealistic young Werther and for his plays, especially Faust, though Faust was first and foremost a long poem of true greatness. Goethe was a highly esteemed poet, a scientist and amateur artist who contributed to colour theory (note his Iris was close by with Thuban, the last star we met), and an able politician and statesman. He expressed the best qualities of both the Enlightenment and the Romantic eras, modulating from one to the other as nobody else; many Germans would claim him as the nation’s greatest son. A quieter kind of genius (but nonetheless enduring) was demonstrated by another Sun-Alioth person, social and educational reformer Maria Montessori. Music magic was wrought by Louis Armstrong with Venus aligned to Alioth. Several remarkable people have had Ceres, symbol of both the nurturing mother (so relevant to Ursa Major) and the practical teacher here: Leonardo da Vinci with his prolifically fertile mind and creativity; Harriet Beecher Stowe whose book Uncle Tom’s Cabin gave tremendous impetus to the anti-slavery movement in the US (Ceres can be about the welfare of all people, especially the disadvantaged); Beatrix Potter, creator of magical animal stories (she had Hekate with Thuban too); French social activist priest Abbé Pierre, a beacon of compassion (another Ceres theme) when he instigated the ‘Uprising of Kindness’ in 1954; Kenyan grass roots social reformer and politician Wangari Maathai; and more recently New Age teacher Wayne Dyer.
This work is Copyrighted: © Kidston, Roderick 2016. Text extracts are from The Magic of the Stars: How the Stars of Astrology Enrich Your Life. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Link to book on Amazon. Note the book does not contain the otherwise unpublished card deck artworks.