by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To the Degree: 8 Libra


The Sun reaches 8 Virgo today. So why is that important - and why are you looking at a blog entitled '8 Libra'?

The Virgo part you'll have to wait for. As for 8 Libra, certain degrees of the zodiac come to have 'nicknames' - names which are generally astrological 'shorthand' for what the degree means. And one such degree is 8 Libra, sometimes called the 'widow's degree.' But what does that mean? If you have a planet at 8 degrees does that mean you're going to be a widow? Be involved with widows? Be someone who leaves someone 'widowed'?

And what if you have a whole nasty conglomeration attached to 8 Libra? Does that mean you are, or could get attracted to so-called "black widow" predator-type  people?

In considering how to answer this question, we start with the basics. 8 Libra is a first decanate degree of a public/worldly sign having to do with what we present to others, or how we present ourselves...and thus how well or badly we (or whatever we present) are received.

So right away we have a clue that whatever this degree is or applies to, it's a cause/effect thing - which as long as we're looking at 8 Libra in our own chart, turns the onus on us. Every chart contains 8 Libra somewhere, right? So when our 8 Libra is active/activated, that must be about us and our experience of the quintessential Libra I put myself out there and thus get some sort of response  thing.

There's also that Libra is an air sign. So whatever 8 Libra is, it's an idea and thus thus negotiable...discussable - a theoretical construct which can be explored, better understood and thus (one hopes) used to better ends.

As noted, Libra is also a public and worldly sign, so 8 Libra is about interacting. The first six signs/houses of the horoscope (houses 1-6 and signs including Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo) are about internals. About learning to be who we are. It's the 'how to' part. The second 6 signs/houses of the horoscope (houses 7-12 and signs including Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces) are about how we apply that which we are in some sort of external fashion. You know, the 'what can we make out of this' sort of stuff.

Given all this, 8 Libra isn't about who we are on the inside. It's about some interactive experience of our world.

The Sabian symbol for 8 Libra gives us this image: Three "Old Masters" hanging on the wall of a special room in an art gallery. In his interpretation of this, master philosopher Dane Rudhyar comments on the esoterics of a 'three-fold' Soul composed of love/wisdom, intelligence in action and power.

The first part - at least if we express it as love as wisdom (giving a hoot about others - thinking about how what you are and do affects others?) is Libra from the ground up. After all, how we treat others pretty much determines how they treat us. This in itself is a very Venusian idea, and Venus rules Libra: what you 'earn' through your presentation of self or what you offer to others is pretty much what you get back. Intelligence in action fits in here rather seamlessly too. Nothing necessarily bad there - unless you do something bad to others or present yourself in some sort of truly unpleasant manner.

And one could suppose that if you are unpleasant to others that could leave you socially widowed, yes. But what about the 'power' part?

That seems a bit of a puzzle until we remember that Libra, like all other signs of the zodiac, is part of a polarity - namely the Aries/Libra polarity.

And every sign is tied inexorably to its polar opposite. After all, if you have a bar magnet, you don't just get a south pole without a north pole on the magnet. Cut it in half, the new 'end' becomes the magnetic polarity - that's just the way it works.

So we look over at the other end of this Libra pole and find Aries, a sign ruled by pro-active, assertive and often even aggressive Mars. Aries is all about motivation and the personal power behind a given action. Aries is all about the physicality of you or anything you do. What we are or present in or through Libra starts in Mars, a metaphysical power symbol whether thought of as ruler of Aries, primary of Scorpio (the choosing to part of investing yourself in anything from a hedge fund to a relationship) to Mars/Ares as the Greek god of war or totem symbol of initiation, courage and warriors. 

So what we do and how we do it (or don't do it) is the engine. And that may give us a way to look at this 'widow' degree nickname: If we are offensive or don't deliver on our promises, we can obviously put people off and become (as noted) a 'social widow.' We can choose to reject standards, methods or lessons out of our culture or from our own past and 'widow' ourselves for any of a number of very human reasons. We could think those reasons are hogwash. We could want to try something different. Maybe we're just ornery enough to want to do things our own way.

Or maybe we're starting anew...which is a very simple and valid way to look at the concept of one who has become widowed. The moment, the 8 Libra of it, may be a point of intellectual recognition that the love - the companionship we as humans need whether it's from friends, co-workers, mates or counselors. Which fits, since advisers and anyone who we are in a close one-on-one relationship with have a Libra connotation.

In fact, the one exception to this 'close relationship' thing really underscores what Libra is - that exception being 'blood family' (parents, children, uncles/aunts, cousins, etc.). That spouses are not included on this list really tells the tale here - a spouse isn't someone you come into this life and simply find as part of the package. Even in cultures where a spouse is chosen for you it's a negotiation - that's Libra.

And in a culture where you choose your own marriage partner? That's oh so Libra. Whether it's the spouse you marry, the financial adviser you choose or the business partner you decide to team up with - these are all Libra partners.

Which yes, tells us something about the common conception that Libra is the sign of marriage. Matrimony, maybe - that's a contract. But a marriage? A conversation for a different day, but obviously more than just Libra.

And yet the whole 'better or worse' idea associated with marriage is peculiarly very Libra. Subjective on one hand and yet obviously very 'causal/effects' on another, the what you bring to the marriage (or the partnership) and how honest everyone is, that leads us to the idea of Libra as a sign of truth (of the person or the situation).

Interestingly referenced since ancient times as a physical matter (and thus apt for a 1st decan degree) we have no less than the Egyptian Book of the Dead (a book of 'how to' instructions and requirements for getting from this world to the next) showing us this scene called the 'weighing' of the heart...

Anubis weighing the heart of a human to see if it
s as light as the proverbial feather (i.e., pure).

In this scene, Maat (Goddess of Justice) is having a little chat with Anubis (God of Mummification) over the fate of some person which would be determined by seeing how heavy or light their heart was at death - at the final point to which they had come...or how they were 'presenting' themselves at the end of all things.

And that is also another way of imaging the idea of 'being widowed.' The word may specifically describe a female who has lost a marriage partner to death but metaphysics is always metaphorical. So 'the widow's degree' as to do with an end - where something is over.

How we come out of that - obviously - has a great deal to do with who we were going in and how we have acted along the way. It's also the moment for a new start - with the question being: will you? Does the 'widowed' person remain widowed or do they start again?

This takes us back to Venus. Where your Venus is in your chart by sign, position, degree, aspect - the whole schmageggy - that tells us how you experience and deal with 'things Venusian,' including matters connected to 8 Libra.

But there's also the idea of Venus returns which should probably get a nod of consideration here. With an orbital period of 224.7 days (about 8 months), that well may be a natural sort of 'clock' which many of us cry and revive ourselves by when loss occurs. It may also be that where in a Venus return cycle you experience loss - or some relationship between your natal Venus and this degree of loss (8 Libra) which reveals how you deal with getting past such events. We all know that - taking death as an example - we all grieve differently.

It's a whole interesting study idea which hopefully some researching astrologer will take up at some point. Until then, we muse and wonder and...

...and we end this contemplation by looking to another body of lore on zodiacal degrees which describes 8 Libra as 'sensitive,' prone to 'retreating into a dream world' and 'hesitant to join in, even when invited' to, adding to that the idea that at this time, fixed star Diadem (the crown) is positioned at 8 Libra.

Fixed stars do move, if slowly. The star we know as Diadem was evidently named back around the time of 200 BCE, when the star itself was at 8 Virgo - which would be why this blog was scheduled for today.

Originally (and by some still) known as 'Al Dafirah' (the braid or curl), Diadem is part of a constellation known as Comae Berenices and positioned amidst a cluster of other stars in an astronomical phenomena known as the Small Magellanic Cloud.

The Small Magellanic Cloud, including fixed star Diadem.

Known as a star symbolizing quiet sacrifices knowingly made with dignity and aplomb, the lore of Diadem has evolved over the centuries to include giving gestures which in putting the (Aries) ego aside, contribute to the bigger picture and greater (Libra) good. Which is actually very much like Diadem's position in the sky as part of a mass star cluster.

So is 8 Libra about loss? Maybe initially. But in the long run, 8 Libra may be all about what we choose to give, either of ourselves or to others - and how those two things meet and diverge along the road of human life.

Completed in 1849, the famous poem by Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam, A.H.H. written for his friend, Arthur Henry Hallam may embrace the whole of this thought best: 

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most; 
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all  

Originally entitled 'The Way of the Soul,' that this poem was written for a friend and not a lover or mate may also  underscores once and for all that 8 Libra is not about being the 'widow' in the traditional modern sense, but rather our ability to recognize and honor the precious qualities imbued in our relationship to all and everyone.

Including ourselves, which would be why every chart comes with 8 Libra as part of the zodiac rondo.



  1. I really like article... a full exploration of a degree. Can you write about the remaining 359?

  2. also, I forgot to ask... for the sake of this article... if a planet is at 7.12 degree, do you round up to 8 degree as with sabian symbols or is 7.12 considered 7 degree?

  3. In strict 'chart reading' astrological terms, no - a planet (cusp, asteroid, etc.) which is at 7 degrees however-many-minutes is read as being at 7 degrees. If you were to use a book of Sabian Symbols, you would read the Sabian for 8 Libra, but in working with the symbol straight on, it's at 7.

    Is it possible to write blogs on the remaining 359? Yes...and I gotta say I laughed when I saw your comment. (Wow! What a request!)

    For one, I'm complimented. And yes, I will absolutely put this idea on my list. This PARTICULAR blog actually arose out of the nickname given to 8 Libra: calling it "the widow's degree" bothered me, as I thought many people would think it meant they would automatically become a widow or widower. That didn't sit well with me, hence this 'fleshing out' of the concept.

    But I will take on other degrees if people enjoy the exploration. Got any in particular you'd like to nominate?

  4. great article.. today my birthday.. oct. 1st. i,m 7.58 libra so i take that as 8 libra... do you do charts, and progressed charts? keith ... email

    1. Happy (belated) birthday, and I will reply to you at your gmail -- look for an answer there!

      - Boots

  5. thank you for this from a loyal reader who has Venus at 8 Libra--mercury at 7' Mars at 9 and pluto at 10. it's quite the bundle, and my love life has been quite a ride!