Only one of the zodiac’s twelve signs is symbolized by a creature who doesn’t actually exist in the world. Though considered one of the four “human” signs (along with Gemini, Virgo, and Aquarius), the symbol for Sagittarius is actually only half-human. Sagittarius is a centaur–the fabled horse-man of ancient myth.
The centaur joins our frailer but wilier human nature with the strength, nobility, and grace of the horse, a powerful figure for humans since prehistoric times. This mythological horse-man rules the realm of long journeys—of body, mind,and spirit–in our birth chart. Foreigners and foreign travel, higher education, law, and publishing,and optimism, religion, and faith—all belong to Sagittarius’ domain.
“I seek” is the meaning of the root for Sagittarius’ name, the Indo-European word sag. It’s still used by astrologers as a kind of affectionate nickname for the sign that is known to be the luckiest and most optimistic in the zodiac. True to its name, seeking is a primary characteristic of Sagittarius and its ruling planet, Jupiter.
The mightiest of the ancient gods, Jupiter sought wisdom above all. With a young world to bring to maturity, Jupiter (or Zeus, as he was first called) valued wisdom in its most practical and worldly forms. Our words for foresight—presage–and also for keenly observant wisdom—sagacious–are also linked to the name for Jupiter’s sign.
Jupiter’s vision is broad, encompassing nearly everything. He is, after all, the largest planet in the solar system, with its 16 moons comprising its own parallel solar (or “Jovian”) system. Jupiter seeks tto know the whole world, excluding nothing. The secret of Sagittarius’ power lies in its willingness to be nourished by everything. Into its wide embrace flow a cornucopia of blessings —good fortune and abundance, wisdom and tolerance, optimism and faith.
A Little Ancient History
Sagittarius is one of the two signs from which the ancients believed souls left the world. Interestingly, the other was Capricorn. Its ruler, Saturn, is the father who Jupiter (then called Zeus) overthrew. Even more interestingly, the two share the same astrological glyph. Only in Jupiter’s case, the crescent of spirit is elevated above the cross of matter. In Capricorn, it’s the other way around.
That tells us a lot, not just about ancient mythology, but about the way reality is coded into our culture. The ancient myths aren’t just stories. They are our cultural DNA. They were first told long ago, and their truths are still buried within us, in the Deep Memory that serves as a kind of invisible underpinning of reality.
What this story about Zeus (Jupiter) and Kronos (Saturn) tells us is how deep the tension goes between conservative, cautious, introverted “realism” and liberal, risk-taking, extroverted “optimism.” When these two are in signs that support each other, we have the best of both worlds. When they’re at odds, or even in the same place at the same time, there’s an inherent instability. It’s like the cosmos is simultaneously putting one foot on the gas pedal and one on the brakes.
Because of this tension, Jupiter (and Saturn, too) works best when he’s getting help from another planet. In our lives, this means we’re going to be luckiest when we’re linking our faith and our optimism with another strong energy in our chart.
In his heart, Jupiter knows this. It’s his modus operandi. After overthrowing his father, Zeus presided over heaven and earth with the hands-off manner of a chairman of the board. The wisest and most powerful of the Olympians, prophecy and strength belonged to him, as well as a libido that wouldn’t quit.
Sagittarius in Your Birth Chart
In the birth chart, Sagittarius brings growth, expansion, prosperity and good fortune. Gambling and merrymaking fall under its rule. Like Jupiter, its influence can bring auspicious circumstances, good fortune, and wisdom—or self-indulgent wastefulness and greed. The all-important choice is who his traveling companions are.
Sagittarius rules the hips and thighs, the liver, and the pituitary gland—and all forms of inclusiveness and assimilation everywhere. Its flowers are the large-blossomed ones—the bird of paradise, the hydrangea, the dahlia, and the hydrangea. Its tree is the maple, its colors the bold maroon, orange, navy and cobalt blue, and its gem the turquoise.
To release the optimism and good fortune of Sagittaris in your life, try these strategies out and tell me what happens:
- Travel. The further the better.
- Take your mind on as many long journeys as you can. Eat foreign food. See foreign films. Read books by writers from other countries. Learn a foreign language.
- Give your body plenty of exercise. Remember, the energy you’re tapping is powerfully athletic.
- Cultivate optimism. There’s a lot of evidence that our brains are hard-wired for optimism. Researchers like Tali Sharot have found that a bias towards optimism exists at the neural level and is crucial to life.
- Nurture gratitude. Entire spiritual practices have developed around the practice of gratitude, and for good reason. There’s lots of research that shows grateful people have higher levels of well-being. As an early practitioner of gratitude, the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you said in your life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
To tap the expansive power of Sagittarius, here’s where to go in your birth chart:
- The 9th House, domain of the long journeys of body, mind, and spirit. Foreigners, foreign cultures, and foreign travel are in its domain, along with core social institutions like higher education, law, and religion. Fields that work on a cultural level, like publishing and public relations, also belong to the 9th House. If you have an emphasis on the Cosmic Horse-man, these are assets just waiting to be cashed in.
- The house with Sagittarius on the cusp will be a realm of your life filled with optimism, faith, and luck. A word to the wise: it’s also the domain where you’re likely to over-indulge and fall prey to wastefulness.
- The 9th House rules the long journeys you take in body, mind, and spirit. Foreigners, foreign cultures, and foreign travel are in its domain, along with core social institutions like higher education, law, and religion.Fields that work on a cultural level, like publishing and public relations, also belong to the 9th House.
- The house where Jupiter is located is a place where you are gifted and fortunate. When Jupiter is in the 9th House, leadership in a 9th House institution, such as law or religion, is likely, as is foreign travel and perhaps even foreign residence. Jupiter in the 4th House of Home can bring a spacious, comfortable home, as well as luck in finding a home. There is likelihood of gain, including inheritance, from the parents. The 4th House rules the end of life and good fortune late in life is indicated when Jupiter is placed in this realm.
- Planets in Sagittarius will be optimistic, truthful, adventurous, and optimistic. Perhaps no one exemplifies this expansive outlook as well as Winston Churchill, who cheered the British through the dark challenges of a world war. Other well-known Suns in Sagittarius include science fiction writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke, and global philanthropist Brad Pitt, and comedian John Stewart.