ASTERIA & ARTEMIS | Gemini, the Twins

Gemini as the Twins

Though twins may seem like a rarity in our day-to-day lives, the twin archetype exists in cultures as varied as Hindu, Native American, Central American, and Zoroastrian. Perhaps the oldest manifestation of twins in mythology is twins as lovers. In Egyptian mythology, sky goddess Nut and earth god Geb are twins, entwined in a never-ending embrace. We see this in the tarot as well, as Gemini aligns with The Lovers card.

The constellation of Gemini is associated specifically with the Greek myth of twin brothers Castor and Pollux. Legend holds that the brothers were the result of Zeus’s seduction of Leda in the form of a swan, causing her to bear the two eggs from which they hatched. Stories disagree on their parentage -- originally, both were said to be sons of Zeus, but others held that Castor was the mortal son of Tyndareus, King of Sparta. In both versions, Castor becomes mortally wounded, and Pollux makes a bargain with Zeus to share a part of his own immortality with his brother. Zeus agrees, and so the twins remain among the stars as Gemini.

An aside: Castor and Pollux also had twin sisters -- Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra, who fought bitterly against each other in the Trojan War.

While twins serve varying purposes in myth, duality always plays a part. In the story of Castor and Pollux, it’s divinity versus mortality. For Helen and Clytemnestra, it’s love versus duty. In the case of Apollo and Artemis, twin deities of the sun and the moon, respectively, the association is more concrete. In the same way, their opposing genders further illustrate their differences -- and, in many ways, helped nurture the modern magickal correspondences for masculinity and femininity (even if you don’t buy into the idea of binary genders). Similarly, Freyr and Freya of Norse lore are the original Lord and Lady.

Still, sometimes the concepts twins are meant to stand for are deeply complex. Hypnos and Thanatos are the Greek god of sleep and personification of death, respectively. They resemble one another at first glance, but upon further investigation, they couldn’t be more different. Sleep, while mysterious, is impermanent, while death is final. It’s also interesting that while sleep is divine, death is considered a personification, lesser than Hades.

I’d be in remiss if I didn’t mention Romulus and Remus, twin sons of war god Mars, one of whom went on to become the primogenitor of the Roman empire. Raised by wolves, they remained unaware of their divine heritage and were surprised by their natural aptitude for their father’s art. They became competitive with one another, and Romulus eventually killed Remus after an augury predicted Remus would become more successful than him. After that, Romulus founded Rome.

These two display the trickster dynamic inherent in pairs -- and also in the sign of Gemini. While the vast majority of twins embody the beauty in differences, these two show the sinister side of acting from a place of fear. It’s both a cautionary tale and an important reminder to embrace the qualities that make you unique. Instead, follow the example of Apollo and Artemis, each illuminate their respective paths across the sky.

 

 

The Twins as Animal

By Sara Magnuson

It may appear that the sign of Gemini is not represented by an animal like Aries (Ram) or Taurus (Bull), but you would be forgetting that humans are also animals. Symbolized by the Twins, Gemini shows us aspects of our human-animal nature.

{Disclaimer: As we talk about what makes humans different from other animals, we must begin with the understanding that our knowledge of how other animals perceive the world is speculative. We have ways to study some of the cognitive abilities in other animals, but there are aspects of perception that we do not yet have the ability to uncover. It could be argued that other animals do feel/sense/think all of things I'm going to discuss, so as you continue reading, please add "as far as we know" to the end of every sentence. I humbly ask you to remember that there are entire fields of study dedicated to the subjects discussed and I am only touching the surface of what is being explored.}

Humans are not the only species of animal that have highly developed intelligence, self-awareness, the ability to communicate, or express feelings and empathy. These traits in general do not make human animals unique; many other species possess these characteristics to varying degrees. What makes the human animal unique from other animals is the same thing that makes all creatures unique from each other - how we develop and use those traits.

Gemini is associated with the element of Air and focuses on the mind of the human animal. A unique quality of the human mind is self-awareness and self-contemplation. We have a concept of inner self, inner identity, inner awareness that is uniquely human. As humans, we spend a lot of time considering ourselves, reflecting on our thoughts and actions, in ways that are not directly related to our immediate survival or reproduction. A benefit of this self-awareness is our capacity for compassion and empathy because we are able to consider how we affect the world around us.

We can also do something called "mental time travel" that appears to be unique to humans in its degree of ability. Mental time travel is the awareness of your past and future; it is hindsight and foresight; it is the ability to reflect on what was and what will be. It is recently being discovered that other animals, especially birds, also possess this ability, but it is generally accepted that humans are able to mentally travel much further into the past and future than any other animal. For example, a seven year old child has ideas about what they want to be when they grow up, which is many years into the future versus a bird's ability to contemplate what may happen a few days from now.  As we will see, this capacity for self-awareness and contemplation has its benefits and its challenges.

The Twins of Gemini present us with the concept of inner duality. Internally, we contemplate and often struggle with our ability to see both sides of the many aspects of ourselves, be it our masculine/feminine sides, our child/adult sides, our greedy/giving sides, our warrior/peace-keeper sides, what we believe is right or wrong in general, etc. The concept of morality appears to be uniquely human and we impose it on ourselves as much as we judge others by it. The Twins ask us to look at how we impose our ideas of morality on ourselves.

When my best friend and I talk about situations we're trying to navigate we often reference "the committee" in our minds. Imagine a boardroom table and at each seat is a representative of the various aspects of your personality; there's the five-year-old-you, the rebellious-you, the peaceful-you, the envious-you, the day-dreaming-you, the all-about-business-you, etc. Depending on the situation at hand, select members of "the committee" have something to say about it. These are the voices of our morality; the inner voices guiding us and working with us to make beneficial decisions.

The Twins of Gemini are like two of the most quick-minded voices on "the committee" talking out different sides of the issue. You can see both sides of something forever, but in real life you are often faced with having to eventually make a choice or a decision. The work of the Gemini soul comes in finding a resolution to that inner monologue and is a process that is distinctively human.

 

Call on The Twins when..

  • You need to see both sides of a situation.
  • You want to understand your unique abilities.

 

Be wary of...

  • Defining yourself only as part of a duality. Individuate.
  • Rivalries and trickster behavior in competition. If you feel insecure about your abilities, stand firm in what makes you unique. 
 

 

Rituals For Gemini

 

Time Travel Meditation

Just as Taurus helped you connect with your material reality, so Gemini will help you orient yourself within time. As we explore Gemini, the element of Air, and our human capacity for rational thought, this meditation will help you deepen your connection to temporal movement. There’s no wrong or right way to do this -- we suggest sitting in a quiet space where you can work without being disturbed for at least thirty minutes. You can use a journal for these questions, or simply hold them in your mind.

PAST - What past events have set you on the course you are currently traveling, and have shaped you into who you are today?

PRESENT - Where are you right now? What is your physical location? What is your age? In what life archetypes are you currently partaking (i.e. youth, young adulthood, maturity, etc.)? How does time feel to you in this moment -- does it move slowly or quickly?

FUTURE - Who are you becoming? See and feel your future self with all five senses. What feelings, sights, sounds, tastes, and smells arise?

For the FUTURE portion of this meditation, do your best to remain detached. The focus here isn’t productivity or being goal-oriented -- your only goal is to clear your mind and remind yourself of where you are in relation to time’s passing. If what comes up surprises you, good! Consider what that could mean. Gemini is the Trickster, so don’t be surprised if he speaks to you in riddles.

 

Altar Work

In true Gemini fashion, an altar honoring the Twins should be focused on duality: light and shadow, day and night, earth and sky, or the lovers. The possibilities are endless! In Chinese Feng Shui, practitioners place objects in pairs throughout their home to attract love. It’s a simple remedy, and a great way to bring in Gemini energy too! Paired items on your altar, along with The Lovers tarot trump, are excellent starting points. Gemini is usually too focused on new ideas and conversations to focus on altar decor anyways, so he’ll appreciate the simple gesture.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try dividing your altar into two sections. A light and shadow themed altar -- with items corresponding to the sun on one side and moon items on the other -- could be a beautiful tribute to the way these luminaries work together to light our world. A more committed votary may decide to create a pair of altars devoted to partners in a duality (like Freyr and Freya). As you work with these altars, remember that twin energy is less about what makes each individual different, but more about how the two individuals work together.

 

 

About Asteria & Artemis

Named for the Greek goddesses of the stars and nature, respectively, this joint blog series with Candlesmoke Chapel's Sara Magnuson investigates the magic and mythology behind each astrological sign.

Sara is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

Connect with Sara via Candlesmoke Chapel:

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