By Daniel Giamario
Every year there is a Full Moon in Libra. What is not so well known is an ancient connection to a less known relationship with the star Spica, and connection with the Sacred Feminine, and the Imbolc/Candlemass cross quarter date.
April’s Full Moon occurs April 16th at 11:55AM PDT, at 26Libra46. That evening and the previous evening, as the Moon rises as the Sun sets, the Full Moon will be about 4 degrees South of Spica by declination. Adjusted for precession, Spica is now at 24Libra10. There is a rich back-story to this Full Moon.
Spica, a bright star along the ecliptic, has a magnitude of 0.95, and can be seen even with the Full Moon so close. This star is right in the waist area of the Priestess constellation (astronomical Virgo). Projected imagery has seen the priestess holding an ear of corn or a shaft of grain. In Bali a goddess holds a rice paddy. 1500 years ago she is holding at her waist a balance beam (as found on the Justice Tarot card). At that time the September equinox (0Libra) was found there.
A number of Northern European and Celtic traditions have seen Spica as the primary star of the Sacred Feminine mysteries. She was the veritable stellar stand-in for Venus. In the late Summer and early Fall, Spica’s disappearance into the Underworld, her conjunction with the Sun (the current Catholic Feast of the Assumption) and her rise in the morning sky each year mirrored the times when Venus would descend into the underworld, and then rise reborn. Later day Christianity never adjusted any of this with reference to precession. The Sun/Spica conjunction used to happen in mid-August, and now in mid-October. In our times now, Spica rises in the morning sky at Samhain!
What is less well known is that an equally important event would happen each year with Spica as the stellar stand-in for Venus. To understand the importance of this, we again have to take precession into account. A good 5000-6000 years ago, the Full Moon in alignment with Spica happened at the cross-quarter of Imbolc, in early February. This important ceremonial time often celebrated the goddess Brigit, and her many variations. As the antipode to Spica’s underworld descent , her yearly conjunction with the Moon was the celebration of her radiance, not the surrender of the death and rebirth journey. Brigid (also Brigit and Brid) was said to be a member of the mythic Tuatha de Danann, and the daughter of the Dagda, the Irish Bull God. She was the goddess of wisdom and poetry, and the etymology of her name reveals “radiant beauty”, “high one”, and “exalted one”. Once seen as a Triple Goddess, she is said to have two sisters: Brigid the healer and Brigid the smith. In post Christian times, she was transformed into St. Brigid or St.Bridget.
As we gaze at the Libra Full Moon aligned with Spica, let us remember the deeper significance of this event. Here is the most significant celebration of the radiance and exaltation of the Sacred Feminine; not as mother nurturer, not as wife, not as a Scorpionic journeyer to the Underworld, but as an exalted Goddess of Wisdom. The imagery is reminiscent of the Hindu Saraswati, and Sophia of the Gnostics and non-patriarchal Christianity.