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The Twelve Titans in the Zodiac

August 7, 2013

While the association of the Olympian gods with the Zodiac is historical, one also has to remind oneself of their twelve predecessors, the Titan gods which also number in Twelve. More so than the Olympians, the Titanes were associated with cosmological principles, the four main gods representing the four points of the heavenly axis and being associated with the passage of time. As such, I feel that their role as astrological gods is more overt than with the Oympians, and as such here’s some speculation on their potential role in astrology.

Unlike the Olympians, which govern over two signs at a time, the Titan gods here are listed as associated with a single sign. As you will see, they often seem like a closer personification of the signs than the Olympians.

Krios – Aries

This one is easy. Krios, whose name is derived from the greek word for “ram”, has always been associated with the Aries constellation even back in antiquity. He guards the celestial point in the South, just as Aries is there located, flaring upwards to start the Spring, and in this act starting the Zodiacal Year. Krios is interesting because he is the main Titan god associated with constellations: his offspring, Perses, Pallas and Astraios, all are constellation gods, the latter in particular associated with stars in general. Thus, he is the father of the stars, and the main agent in offering the materials for the Zodiac, while his brothers Koios and Hyperion start the spinning motion and trace it, respectively. What better sign for a generative god, then, than the creative energy of Aries?

Since Krios never directly appears in myths aside from when his brothers are involved, little is left of his personality, though I can’t help but feel Rick Riordan’s The Last Olympian captured more or less a very Aries personality, with his impatience and wounded pride, as well as hints of ambition. It was probably coincidential, but still…

Rhea – Taurus

There is some evidence of a historical cult of Rhea in the island of Crete, the same island attributed to Zeus, where she had sent him to grow up away from Kronos. Rhea’s cult was very similar to the cult of Cybele, and there seems to be some evidence of historical syncretism between these goddesses, such as Virgil in the Aeneid. Their worship as goddesses of fertility sees an emphasis on ecstasy and sexual freedom, an aspect shared with Aphrodite and not with other greco-roman goddesses. Indeed, these goddesses may all be of asian origin, representing a side of feminity that was very unconfortable for the ancient greeks: rather than chaste, virginal goddesses, living up to standards of purity, these represented the more primal, powerful and free femininity, a side obviously seen as threatning for the male-dominated greek society. Strangely enough, however, unlike Aphrodite or Cybele, Rhea seems to have had a true greek origin.

Taurus, as a symbol of harmony, friendship, stubborness and loyalty, is nonetheless also tied to primal sexuality, ecstasy and plesure in general. There’s a reason why the sign is occasionally compared to an insane sensation-junkie, as acquiring the desired rewards and pleasure is a very overt trait in the taurean personality. Taurus’ is Spring’s fixed sign, and coincides with a major time for fertility and growth, both represented by generative energy, which in turn manifests as desire and basic impulses. Rhea’s cult stressed religious ecstasy via drumming, and involved rather dionysian extremes such as orgies, surrendering the rational mind to creative impulses. Rhea is mythology, when not depicted as a mother, does have a rather chaotic and insane side, wrestling Eurynome and throwing her to Tartarus, replacing Zeus with a pebble in what is described as a random impulse (albeit one that worked – there’s always method to her madness), transforming into a serpent to mate with her son. Nonetheless, she is still nurturing and wise, as when she advises Demeter and helps Leto give birth to Apollo, following the taurean ideal of loyalty and harmony.

Rhea is associated with the island of Crete, famous for it’s bull worship. Rhea is more commonly associated with the lion, just as Demeter and Artemis, but from a zodiacal perspective the bull does work in that it is representative of primal strength, while the lion represents a more arrogant, kingly demanour. Of course, the animals aren’t tied to a particular sign at the exclusion of all others, and in a way the lioness, with her actual strength and nurturing side, can be interpreted as more taurean than the male lion.

Mnemosyne – Gemini

Mnemosyne is most closely tied to the most intellectual of all signs, and indeed shares with Gemini a governance over language and song, something that the two Olympians associated with this sign, Apollo and Hermes, are very famous for. And, like Apollo, she is an oracular goddess with heavenly yet chthonic associations, being the divine Logos yet the underworld pool opposite to Lethe. Mnemosyne – as well as her daughters, the nine Muses – is also among the goddesses reffered as “white armed”, which is suspiciously convenient for a Gemini association. Alongside Iapetus, who opposes her as Sagittarius, she is a goddess associated with artistry, being the musical antithesis to the craftman that is the piercing Titan. She is also associated with dance, often taken as a sign of her role in celestial movements. Mnemosyne is associated with water in it’s preserving aspects, being the pools that retain memory, and Mercury is traditionally associated with water over air, as opposed to medieval traditions.

Mnemosyne, as we will see, is among the Titane goddesses that bear traits akin to Apollon, particularly evident in her as she shares the same astrological sign. Mnemosyne, as a goddess ruling over the intellectual mind, the arts of dance and music, introspection, speech and divine salvation, directly oversteps in Apollon’s most celebrated roles; thus, it is no coincidence that her daughters now have him as their leader, as the Muses inherit their mother’s roles. Mnemosyne still bears one spect in opposition to the Phoebus, however: while he destroys and purifies, Mnemosyne retains, as per the very essence of what a memory is. Memories, good or painful, must be preserved for personal growth, and in this Mnemosyne offers an opposite influence to the purification of Apollon, despiste both working towards the soul’s exaltation: without both, it isn’t possible.

Phoebe – Cancer

While Selene is the goddess that represents the lunar disc/sphere, Phoebe is considered to the primal goddess of the Moon, just as Hyperion is considered the primal Sun. Her name, which is a feminine version of “Phoebus” – a light-related epiphet attributed to Helios and Apollo – both is suggestive of moonlight, but also of her role as a prophetic goddess, latter inherited by her grandson Apollon, and while Hyperion represents the physical sight, Phoebe represents oracular vision, the “light of the mind” that the Moon and at times Cancer are associated with. Phoebe has a role in the chthonic guidance of souls, a role that also associates the Olympian Hermes to Cancer. In this role as the lower axis of the Zodiac , that she shares with her mate Koios, she represents the intial fate of the soul, to descend into infernal realms guided by the light of the Full Moon, and then emerged half an year latter in the dark covered northern sky as a divine being, a curious inversion that almost seems “Yin-Yang-ish”.

As the normal per Titane deities, it’s sadly hard to assert if Phoebe demonstrated the typical personality traits associated with Cancer, though her giving up her place as the oracular deity of Delphi in favour of her grandson seems to imply the Cancer sympathetic and family oriented traits. Like Themis, her role in oracles is closely tied to her chthonic nature, though she guides the already dead, not inflicting death, a role again closer to that of Hermes.

Hyperion – Leo

Hyperion in Leo is rather obvious: as the primordial god of the Sun, Hyperion is the source of light, the Titan that fathered Eos, Selene and Helios (sometimes he is outright equated with his son, as Hyperion was historically used as an epiphet for Helios, Helios is described sometimes as Selene’s and/or Eos’ father, and the elder Titan’s traits are frequently expressed in his child, such as lordship over sight and setting the seasons in motion). He guards the pilar of the East, where the heavenly bodies are symbolically born every morning – Helios is described to have his palace there -, the most divine direction in most indo-european religions, where solar prayers are directed at, and from where life blooms fourth. The Sun is always associated with the center in indo-european traditions – a hint at the truth of heliocentrism, perhaps? -, from the central letter of the greek alphabet to the Anahata chakra, and as such the Leo sign is associated with the heart and cardiac system, the center of the body’s life force, the body’s “Sun”. As the Titane associated with the dawn, Hyperion is almost certainly the first and foremost provider of life as the nascent light floods the earth.

Less present in modern Zodiacal medicine, but very common in ancient traditions, is the association with the eyes. Not only is Hyperion well established in availiable reccords as the god of watchfulness and observation, and said to have gifted mankind with sight alongside his wife Euryphaessa, Helios is well known as the god of sight, being said to restore vision to the blinded and heal eye diseases, or blind the wicked. The all-seeing nature of the Sun is celebrated in most indo-european traditions, with Helios being omniscient, and so probably is Hyperion, who is the god of watchfulness, ever diligently observing the cycles of the heavenly bodies. Aries is associated with the head, and thus traditionally with eyes, but given the historical tendency to associate eyes with the Sun, maybe it’s worth to examine in this astrological therapy.

Hyperion, alongside his brother Krios and Koios, is the main agent in the Zodiac. Krios is the father of the constellations, laying them out, Koios is the axis of Heaven on which they move, and Hyperion, as the father of the Sun or outrightly the Sun, traces the Zodiac. Much like Krios and Koios are described as moving the constellations, Hyperion is the god who set the route of the Sun (and, if taking Selene into account, the Moon as well, though Phoebe as the elder Moon might have set it in motion instead).

Tethys – Virgo

From the start, Tethys association with Virgo is observable. Much like Demeter, Tethys poses a nurturing figure associated nonetheless with duty and structure. Tethys is reffered in the Iliad as the “mother of the gods”, a title that implies either a role in older, unpreserved theogonies, or that she “adopted” the Olympians (a title only reinforced as Hera reffers to her as her “nurse”). As a primal sea goddess, she is associated with the nurturing element of water, being associated with rivers and their fertile power, being the Queen of the Nile and the Alpheus. Additionally, she is also associated with the deeper cycles of the world, being responsible for the circulation of the Ursa constellations in the night sky, having a firm association with the natural cycle of celestial movements (a role overtly shared with her husband Okeanos, who commands the Sun and Moon).

Just as Poseidon and Demeter form a “primordial fertility” axis, so do Tethys and her husband, Okeanos, yet they are not wrathful in their primalness, being frankly among the most calm and benign gods in the greek pantheon, and are closely aligned through their watery realm instead of in opposition in earthly tremors.

Themis – Libra

As the goddess that personifies law, rules and justice, Themis’ association with Libra is very obvious, down to her representations as securing a set of scales. A rather ironic attribute, as Themis is a somewhat chthonic deity while the sign is aerial, it nonetheless signifies an important aspect of her role as the goddess of justice: Libra, as a sign coinciding with Autumn and the “dying” of the Sun, is connected with the concept of the chthonic oath-enforcing goddesses like the Erinyes, the death Horai and the Moirai – the latter daughters of Themis -, and thus Themis is associated with the final judgement, and is thus a death bringer to the “wicked”. With the scales set to balance, Themis decides when lifes must end, and what punishments await them. Themis is occasionally also said to be the mother of Prometheus, associating her with Iapetus, the Titan of mortality and demise. As the nurse of Zeus, her judgement ascends to the heavens, thus connecting air and earth in their deathly aspects; in Wu Xing, the element of Metal, that which corresponds to death, Autumn, morality and Heaven, is basically a compilation of these associations, and in systems that mix western and asian magick I recommend aligning Themis to Metal.

Themis, as an oracular goddess, law dictator and associated with destruction, is similar to Apollon. Indeed, Themis is described as one of the goddesses that helped Leto deliver the god’s birth, and since both deities are associated with Venus – albeit at different angles in the Zodiac -, Themis can be seen as his precursor in at least the roles associated with divine judgement and prophetic services. As the nurse of Zeus, it can be said that Themis had a role in shaping the divine kings among the gods, who now enforce her will and her messages upon mankind.

Kronos – Scorpio

Originally I thought Iapetus was the embodiment of this sign, but just as Rhea seems clearly Scorpio’s compliment, Taurus, so does her husband seem to be the scorpion’s Titan. Kronos is a god associated with the devouring and withering, which fits Scorpio’s dark associations. To the ancient greeks, Scorpio also heralded a really agriculturally productive time of the year, so Kronos’ association with agriculture and fertility is present as well. While Rhea is the generative energy that makes the crops grow, Kronos is the death of the wheat stems, the green leaving to leave beautiful gold as the plants’ cells dry out. A sort of Yin Yang duality akin to the chinese notions of the Wood and Metal elements, if you like, generative energy versus decay. Kronos is, after all, depicted with a scythe, an agricultural instrument that nonetheless rarely heralds life.

Scorpio, like Taurus, is also associated with pleasure, sensation, passion and loyalty, but there is an emphasis in negative emotions such as vindictiveness and belligerence, as well as more stoic, pragmatic virtues. Kronos is best remembered in myth in two ways: as the violent and terrifying castrator of Ouranos, as Ophion’s dethroner, as the devourer of his children and their arch-nemesis, but also as the wise ruler of the Golden Age, the observant dictator of time and the beneficient ruler of Elysium. Motivations such as jealousy, grieveous offense, pragmatism and nobility have all been attributed to Kronos in his various acts, all traits seen in the subtle but vicious emotions of the scorpion-sign. His association, however, is more observable in his universal function, particularly as the devourer: he is the ravage of time, consuming man with old age. Neither the sea (Poseidon), the flames (Hestia), order (Hera), life (Demeter) and even death and the night (Hades) survive to time’s vicious grasp, all decaying and dying in good time; only the divine light (Zeus), itself an indicator of time, survives this onslaught to ressurect all others, just as the Sun survives the darkness that is Scorpio, stated by Helios to be the most vicious of the zodiacal beasts. Thus, Kronos’ story is basically that of a timeless notion in indo-european religions: Autumn may attempt to devour the Sun, but it never succeeds, eventually surrendering to it, the true marker of time.

That Kronos not only is spared, but gets to rule the most beneficient afterlife fully closes the metaphor: just as Scorpio is very much a part of the firmament, as it’s representation as an eagle, so is Kronos not simply a mindless monster, but an important part of divine procedures.

Iapetus – Sagittarius

Iapetus’ name should be a clue in itself: he is the piercer. Iapetus of all Titans is particularly close to mankind as it’s grandfather, being the progenitor of Prometheus. As the lord of the West, he is perhaps the most infernal of all Titanes, being associated with the end of life. If Kronos is decay and ravage, Iapetus is certain death, the descent to the Underworld; it’s no coincidence that these two are the only Titanes consistenly depicted in Tartarus, as the harbringers of mortality and other frightening aspects of nature. Nonetheless, just as Kronos is a fair ruler, so is Iapetus not evil: he is the inventor of the metallic weapons, and he and his offspring embody mankind’s greatest virtues as well as greatest flaws, particularly in regards to craftiness, creativity and strategy. Perhaps most tellingly, Sagittarius is associated to this craftiness and creativity, as well as an omnipresent sense of irresponsibility, which is said to be the greatest flaw of Iapetus’ offspring. As the sign of late Autumn, it represents a paradoxical statement: it is the darkest time of the year, yet it also represents light, as a fire sign and the sign that preceeds the winter solstice, all the way representing optimism yet stoicism, intelligence yet irresponsibility.

Koios – Capricorn

As the Axis of the world, Koios is associated with Capricorn, the axis of the Zodiac. Koios, particularly under the name of Polos, is associated with the northern sky and the star Polaris, being an oracular god like his wife. As Cancer is associated with the guidance of souls into an “infernal” realm, Capricorn is associated with their ascension to godhood, being the upper gate in chaldean traditions. As both the Titane god of the north and the night, Koios represents a nocturnal, hidden Sun, and it is of no wonder that Capricorn is located on the darkest part of the year, yet the part when the Sun is reborn. Koios, as the god of Polaris, is also at times reffered as the “eye of the dragon”, which is basically this process embodied: a chthonic, “infernal” symbol spread across the heavens, with an emphasis on the light of the mind and the natural ascension from an earthly serpent to a star. Beautifully gnostic, the most powerful way of explaining enlightment.

Capricorn, as associated with rationality and the intellect, sees itself in Koios’ association with the mind, intellect and curiousity. Capricorn is also associated with ambition, and Koios is listed as a frequent opposer of the Olympian gods, being in the Titanomachy and Gigantomachy. He certainly seems to be the most driven of the Titans, being one of the few with consistent antagonism against the younger gods – even Kronos is now on good terms with Zeus, being the Elysium King -, which in turn seems to reffer to the above draconic symbolism. He is perhaps the most “heavenly” of the Titanes, being the northern star as the axis of the Sky, yet he is still attached to earthly drives and subsequent agression.

Or maybe it implies enlightment doesn’t get you rid of those traits, who knows.

Euryphaessa – Aquarius

I must confess I preffer the name Euryphaessa to Theia, as the latter is a rather generic theonym while the former both relates to her role and identity, and is to the best of my knowledge rarely used as an epiphet except occasionally for Hera. Nonetheless, Theia as a theonym is interesting: literally just meaning “divine” or “goddess”, it seems to imply Euryphaessa’s status as a heavenly deity, being of the most pure and holy substance.

Euryphaessa is pretty much considered the Titane equivalent to the protogenoi Aither/Hemera: she is the goddess of the sky, her essence being the heavenly light that makes up the atmosphere’s bright blue and white radiance. Aither is in fact reffered to as female in Orphic theogonies, so the notion of skylight as gender flexible is rather interesting to me, especially when more omnipresently considered associated with the Sky Father (Ouranos, Zeus, Dyaus Phter…). For all the idea that greek theology inspired the “light = masculine, darkness = feminine” ideas, we do have a truly diverse arrays of inversions. As previously discussed with the Olympians, Aquarius itself relates in a greek theology context as gender inversive, being associated with Ganymede and Hera.

Besides representing the sky, Euryphaessa also represents the light’s most valuable gift: sight. She is considered the goddess that gave mankind eyesight, and her offspring, Eos, Helios and Selene, are all deities associated with the eyes, being able to heal and restore sight. This ressonates with Aquarius’ more humanitarian aspect, aiding fellow men with gifts that mean the world. Aquarius is also associated with gemstones, and Euryphaessa is the goddess that gives metals and rocks their shining reflection.

Like with Zeus and Hera, Euryphaessa and Hyperion manifest a natural duo, only this time more closely connected. Hyperion as the Sun illumines the world, and Euryphaessa is his light on Earth, filling the heavens with brilliance. Distinguishing the two from an earthly perspective is impossible.

Okeanos – Pisces

As with Poseidon, it’s not hard to see why Okeanos lords over Pisces. Being a primordial sea god, Okeanos’ realms extend even further than Poseidon’s, being the god of the river that supports the pilars of the cosmos and lords over the heavenly bodies that from it emerge, his kingdom being the primordial waters from whence all came, even the gods according to some greek theogonies. More importantly, however, Okeanos has piscean traits Poseidon doesn’t have: whereas the younger olympian is a harsher, more impulsive god, the Titan is calm, reasonable and even compassionate, traits said to belong to the Pisces personality, which to me speak volumes, especially considering that Okeanos born in his domain, as the ancient waters, instead of simply opting to embody the sea like Poseidon did. Also as expected of this sign, Okeanos embodies all aspects of the mutable element of water: he is the father of lakes, rivers, salt water, clouds and ice, all the nymphs and lesser okeanid gods being his offpsring (Poseidon, curiously, only has a few marine deity sons, while Pontus, when not equated with Okeanos, only fathered Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcy, Ketos and Eyribia, all of them primordial sea aspects or sea monsters). Nonetheless, he is described as a freshwater river, the most pure state of water, which also ressonates with Pisces’ association with Spring floods.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2015 10:34 pm

    I love this, though I have to disagree with a several points. Most other websites that try to line up the Titans with the zodiac are way off, but you have done real research. I hope you appreciate my points.
    Think about this: Taurus should be associated with Hyperion. The bull is the ancient symbol of the sun, not the lion. Cursory research will clarify many other connections, as well. The lion is regularly symbolic of leadership and power as well as the terrifying wild nature of men. Saturn/Cronos is the leader of the Titans. He was terrifying. He is the lion.
    I would also put Aquarius and Mnemosyne together. Mnemosyne is connected most with the waters of memory and forgetfulness (the river Lethe and the pool where she resides in the underworld).
    I would suggest that Phoebe go with Gemini to represent her duality of darkness and light, magic and conventional wisdom. Also, from her come the twins Apollo and Diana.
    Dione, I place with Virgo, because she represents a proto-goddess and is associated with purity, as you noted.
    Tethys I placed with Cancer, Coeus with Scorpio, and Ops with Capricorn, for reasons too esoteric for now. The others, though, I agree with. Now that o think about it, we disagree more than we agree. But what do you think?

    • November 1, 2015 11:01 pm

      Very interesting points to consider. I disagree with the bull being a solar symbol, though; the only place it seems to be unambiguously such is probably in Crete. Otherwise, it seems mostly a lunar symbol (Levant, Egypt, India)

  2. Gregg Orr permalink
    June 6, 2017 5:24 am

    I’ve been trying to find a corollary or representation of ‘Atlas’ in the zodiac, planet(oid) or star. Perhaps as a constellation or sign. The closest, in some sense, seems to be Chiron.

    Do you have a sense for this riddle ?
    I’m surprised. No place in astrology for such a significant and unique dynamic.
    Perhaps asteroid Sisyphus ?

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