by Boots Hart, CAP

Friday, April 26, 2013

Menkar: Soul, Searching

A section of the Taurus Molecular Cloud shows a filament of
cosmic dust more than ten light years long
(photo credit: ESO-APEX-MPIR,OSO-A Hacar, February 2012)

The fact that I’ve never read anything which really satisfied my curiosity about fixed star Menkar is the genesis of this post. Positioned (as of 2013) at 15 Taurus, Menkar is referred to as a star ‘linked to the forces of the collective consciousness’ (source: Solar Fire’s star files) with others adding in comments about how the likelihood is that, where Menkar is involved, we will take an 'easier path.'

But that could mean a lot of things.

It could mean that for those who have a planet, node, cusp or axis point in aspect to Menkar, that object's symbolism represents the means by which we “access” the collective consciousness.

Or maybe that's where we are accessed by the collective consciousness in the area of life represented by that planet, node, cusp or axis point?

And yes, there is a difference. Astrologically, the point where we access something implies choice, purpose, aim/goal and volition. Where the we would be accessed by something is about being effected by situations or energetics which come upon us whether we want it or not, and which prompt certain reactions.

This second form seems likely in the sense that Menkar is known for choices which opt for the 'easier' or more 'pleasant' outcome. But when we get that far, the fact that Menkar is known as a ‘difficult’ star gives me cause to ponder. Is this about difficulties we meet up with in life because we take the path of pleasantry? Or is this about difficulties we simply have as part of life as a result of taking the easier or more popular path? 

Some who are into science fiction may have heard of this star under it’s alternative name, ‘Menkab.’ In doing a bit of research on the subject I came across the fact that Menkab has been mentioned in various incarnations of Star Trek and (apparently not to be outdone), in an episode or two of South Park.

So much for stellar dignity, eh?

None of this proving very satisfying, I wandered further afield (which is a pretty long way when you're talking about stars). Or maybe I should say I swam a far piece as in current star-lore, Menkar is part of the constellation Cetus – the whale.

A sky map of constellation Cetus
(image credit: IAU, Sky and Telescope Magazine - Roger
Sinnott/Rick Fienberg, June 2011)

But lest you think this is the great whale we love and respect in today's world, it would seem that the astrological Cetus is not about the amazing creatures we may be lucky enough to see if we go whale-watching (or if we just spend a bit of quality time watching Discovery Channel). No, the idea of constellation Cetus as the whale goes back to Mesopotamian times, when whales were thought of more as ‘sea monsters.’ And that explains why Cetus is sometimes though more of in the mold of the Loch Ness Monster rather than Flipper the friendly sea porpoise. (Now I’m dating myself.) And it’s not just the Mesopotamians who saw this concept with regards to constellation Cetus. On a whole other side of the world the Tukano and Kobeua people of Brazil saw this constellation as a jaguar, the jaguar having been a powerful image all over South and Central America (where it figured large in the myths of the Aztecs and Maya).

But the interesting thing is that even though these Brazilian peoples chose a “terrestrial” image (the jaguar), the constellation was (is) thought of in connection with violent storms – in particular, hurricanes.

And hurricanes are certainly ‘creatures of the ocean.’

Maybe the better way to think of Cetus is in terms of the ‘whale’ in the book Moby Dick. Yes, there might have been a real whale, but it was the whale in Ahab’s head – the ‘whale of his obsessions’ – which is the real Cetus.

 An illustration from an 1892 edition of Moby Dick
(publisher: C.H. Simonds Co.)

That’s a useful clue in our search for understanding Menkar, as this star really does seem to have some mythic quality to it specifically as that concerns our thinking. There’s the reality of the thing…and then there’s what we think of the thing. Either may have validity. But then again, our thoughts may be what are ‘swallowing’ us up, so to speak.

Myth speaks of Cetus as the sea monster which was going to devour Andromeda, the fair maiden left chained to the rock by her parents. The story here is instructive, as it seems to point to some of our Cetus challenges.

Andromeda’s mother is Cassiopeia. And Cassiopeia is an arrogantly proud woman who boasts that her child – Andromeda – is ‘more beautiful than the Nereids,’ the Nereids being Poseidon (Neptune’s) children.

The last time we saw a ‘queen here on Earth’ brag about her children thinking they were better than the gods, that figure of overblown braggadocio (read: pride) was Niobe. Her brag was that her kids were both more plentiful and more talented than those of Leto.

Leto happening to be the mother of Apollo and Artemis (the god of truth and enlightenment and goddess of the hunt and human reflection, respectively)…that didn’t go so well for Niobe. A highly insulted Leto sent her kids to shoot all of Niobe’s kids down, allegedly proving the difference between mortality and that which is eternal and how important it is to keep the two things straight.

Unfortunately, Cassiopeia wasn’t keeping up on such warning labels. So she makes her boast about Andromeda as being more beautiful than the children of the ocean (the Nereids) and Papa Neptune gets so frothed up that he calls in his brother Jupiter and together they send Cetus to teach this arrogantly vain mortal a lesson by destroying her kingdom.

One suspects there must have been a lively ‘what the #$^!@ did you do, woman?’ conversation between Cassiopeia and hubby (King Cepheus). And yes, I’m using the term ‘lively’ rather liberally. But as folks did in those days, their answer was to go ask an oracle for a solution.

And – interestingly – the oracle they chose was an oracle of Apollo, which probably got a chuckle up on immortal Mount Olympus. What? Another silly, vain human being? Oh, when are they ever going to learn!

Vain and arrogant or not, Cassiopeia is upset to hear that the way to assuage Neptune is through sacrificing Andromeda, but she’s not so upset that she and hubby don’t go and chain Andromeda to a rock. (Whether they hung out a sign for Cetus saying ‘come and get it!’ isn’t mentioned.)

Andromeda by Paul Gustave Dore

This is one of those impossibly poignant Greek question: do I save my family and sacrifice my world (i.e., the kingdom which Cetus will eat if Andromeda is not sacrificed) or do I sacrifice that beautiful thing which is MY world (my pride and joy) in order to safeguard and better the world?

Greek myth is full of all the truly difficult questions of life. Who among us hasn’t faced this question of whether we should prioritize the greater good or our own personal good?

Seen from this vantage point, Cetus is the ‘monster’ we are afraid of, the ‘what if’ we do, and the ‘what if’ we don’t.

Either way, there’s going to be pain. Will we take that on ourselves for some error, or some allowance we’ve given ourselves which is ‘monstrous’? Or will we force others to pay for our unwillingness to own the consequences of choices, acts and priorities which have been shown to be anywhere between faulty and truly grievous?

In case you’re worried about Andromeda, she gets rescued by none other than Perseus, who is on the way back from slaying Medusa – which in astro-psycho-mythic terms means he’s ‘already faced the horrible fact.’

Andromeda the sweet and giving child who never fought the parents who would sacrifice her to their own ‘monster’ ends up wedded to Perseus, the essence of our willingness to face the facts – however scary they may be – about ourselves.

And if we can do that, there may indeed be a happy ending.

But first, back to Menkar’s part in this whole parade.

Referred to as ‘Alpha Ceti’ (‘first star of Cetus’) in astronomical terms, Menkar is not the most notable of all Cetus’ stars – that honor goes to Mira, a famous variable star which doesn’t appear much in astrology. (Evidently stars need lobbies too.) Mira pulsates. Mira glows bright, and then fades away…it blows hot and cold, one might say.

Menkar on the other hand, is a point of relative stability. But as it’s positioned in the tail of Cetus as a constellation, stabile is a relative term – there’s bound to be some thrashing.

Maybe stabilizing is a better term. And that is a really helpful idea in understanding this star which sits so close to the 15 Taurus cross-quarter point.

The zodiacal cross-quarter points fall at 15 degrees of the fixed signs, an indication that they’re a ‘turning point’ when that which the fixed sign is so ardently ‘fixed’ on learning (degrees zero through fourteen) shifts into active mode.

Or at least it should. Particularly where and when we see degrees of fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius) which are 15 or higher representing attributes which have not learned to manifest the useful (read: positive) sign attributes, this leads to problems and results which are less satisfying than one might have envisioned.

So saying, back to the basic lore on this point. In everyday life, ‘forces of the unconscious’ can be our desire to fit in. Then again, they may be our interaction with ‘the’ mass consciousness (universal understandings or truths) or some subset thereof which we are tapping or tapped into through culture and upbringing, religion, nationality, peer group, generation or the times we live in.

Our ‘difficulties’ with that ‘sense’ we have of what’s out there, or what we ‘should’ be, or whether we ‘fit in’ or ‘greater realms’ or ‘inner evils’ (or hopes, etc.) …those are our ‘Cetus,’ our whale which isn’t about others – it’s about us. Menkar is in other words, the aperture…a sort of porthole through which we see the ‘greater realm’ or greater possibilities and through which we ‘feel seen.’

Because we are talking about Taurus, the question here is security. And because Cetus is a constellation which lies in proximity to the ecliptic, it's something which is 'close to us' at all times. Because of Earth's position in the whole of the greater universe, that which we see as 'the whale' is actually a construct composed of things near and far...stars which are relatively close to us and those which are many, many light years away. Thus the questions posed by Cetus - and therefore by Menkar come to us through Taurus in a manner which is both very immediate and very philosophical. So there is a very real part of the question "Am I secure?" Then again, there's a very broad-scope consideration about what security is, and whether we are every entirely secure other than being secure with ourselves seeing as we live in a world we don't control with a whole lot of people we surely don't control.

So whether the question is security or potential or acceptance or survival, there are 'real' versions and 'philosophical' versions for all those questions. And when we get done with all that, we still won't know for absolute sure whether 'right now' will carry over for the next five minutes or if in the whole of things, we're just kidding ourselves anyway.

Why is our potential? And why can we see everybody else's potential so well even when they can't see it? Is that what others truly see in us?

This touches on something written by Marianne Williamson back in 1992 in her book ‘Return to Love.’ Often thought of as being quoted by Nelson Mandela, it embodies another way to see the Menkar dilemma:
“It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

—Marianne Williamson
I have long realized that I attract people whose charts contain pointed commentaries on Menkar. They are most often friends than clients, and our relationships are rife with the interlocking of our personal struggles to fulfill our potential, often in spite of our marked ability to trip ourselves up by prioritizing desires over ability.

It is that choice of priority again, that very Greek question of the micro-versus-macrocosm of life.

And that explains at least some of why Menkar is difficult. It’s hard to think through this sort of conflict of self. And it’s one which shows up time and time and time again.

In the charts of people I come to know, most often there’s a planet sitting close enough to conjunct Menkar. In studying those (inclusive of the planets and asteroids in conjunction) I’ve come to understand that Menkar represents what we face in dealing with our world and what we embody in the lives of others. This was never made as plain to me as when I realized that someone I know with a literal life-or-death job has Medusa conjunct Sun conjunct Menkar.

And from there I looked to the chart of my sister, born to die at age 17 of a devastating and fatal disease. Nessus conjunct her Sun conjunct Menkar speaks eloquently of the understandable bitterness she felt at knowing she was going to die young and the scars she left on the lives around her while like so much connected to Nessus, live on decades after her death.

In a chart where Venus, Mercury, Phaethon and the South Node conjunct Menkar I see the experience of a life which, true to Phaethon’s ‘headstrong teen’ influence got on track early and which didn’t get challenged in the internal sense until much later on, at an age when that native was long past teenage adaptability. A lot of the growing up and facing of life’s realities some of us learn early this person is struggling with now in their 50s.

They’ve fallen down and they can’t get up because they are too afraid to see they’ve fallen down - yet another version of the 'Menkar Effect.'

A composite photo of NGC 1068 (M77) which is one of the nebula formations to
be found in constellation Cetus. That M77 contains a rapidly growing black
hole adds to the astro-mythology of its constellation.
(photo credit: NASA, CXC, MIT, Canizares, Evans et al,  STSd, NSF, 
NRAO, VLA, March 2010)

Menkar began the 1900s by moving into 13 Taurus in 1905. 13 Taurus is a degree which promotes and provokes the idea of right and wrong, some of which may be real and may be driven by some already-established internalized sense of priority or propriety. That would seem to be doubling up on some of Menkar’s least likable attributes, which may explain why between 1905 and 1976 (when Menkar moved on into 14 Taurus) we  saw more war (as a world) than we’ve seen since. With a lot of people still alive who were born during those years there would seem to be something of a ‘hyperbolic’ tendency still among us.

And of course there is that Menkar challenge which asks that we see the good and bad not just in others, but in ourselves. Humans are not always so very good at that.

Since 1976, Menkar has been positioned at 14 Taurus, a degree with a very mystical bent which in ‘real life’ terms could be simply mystical – but which may also give us a clue about the role of spirituality and religion seen during in the nearly 50 years since. Dividing ‘the times’ from the people who live with/through/by the natal charts, the times will be what they will be (which we would astrological see more through ongoing transits and eclipses)…but the people born with Menkar at 14 Taurus – is it any wonder that they are swayed by that which may be all around them but which they cannot see, such as social media?

There are ups and downs with everything, to be sure. And given that Menkar will be at 14 Taurus until June of 2048 (which will happen just as Neptune conjuncts Menkar and Eris moves into Taurus) we have a ways to go with this “mystical” quality which could lend so much insight – leading to great realizations about life…and maybe even the afterlife or other dimensions. But at the same time it speaks to a time and half a dozen astrological  generations (using Pluto as our generational market) which are all predisposed to manifesting and feeling this “mystical” influence both for the strength and weakness, the faith and vulnerability that any “mystical” reference can denote.

All this is timely because here in the year 2013 we’re about to experience a Solar Eclipse at 19 Taurus. Using standard 5-degree orbs, that means this Solar Eclipse will conjunct Menkar.

Plus there is a Solar Eclipse which will happen this November at 11 Scorpio? That’s within orb to oppose Menkar.

Anyone with a birthday between April 26 and May 15 (or) October 29 and November 17 should pay attention to this for sure. Those with birthdays between May 4 and May 15 along with those with birthdays between November 6 and 17 should pay particular attention to this May’s Taurus eclipse. Those with birthdays between April 26 and May 6th and October 29 and November 8 should focus on the November eclipse yet to come.

And for you whose birthdays lie in that overlap? This going to be a big year in your life. Many things you had thought were lasting – particularly as part of your internal value system – will now be supplanted. Being that humans are not the most malleable in such areas, the process won’t feel gentle, even without any loss of lifestyle or limb.

But let’s be real here: Solar Eclipses are not gentle. Nor are they a 'one-and-done' sort of affair. Solar eclipse effects evolve...and of all the astrological processes, they are perhaps the most dramatic, which may account for the histories of Solar Eclipses marking the rise and fall of kings and nations back into ancient times.

Yet since our focus here is Menkar, what we can expect from a Solar Eclipse on Menkar is the ‘shadow’ of our inner Cassiopeia coming out. Where we have not learned to be Perseus and figure out how to deal with those “frightening Medusa truths” – whether about ourselves or others, now those facts come out.

At the time of this post (April 26th) asteroid Child is conjunct the South Node with Lilith (the asteroid, not the Black Moon) conjunct Menkar, representing some facet of our Self which we don't want to acknowledge (Lilith) being focal in those dealings with the collective either as we stand against them, wanting to be an individual...or as we yearn to be part of them.

The Child/South Node part of this is most easily understood as 'wanting things to be easy' (or simple) which in combination with Lilith/Menkar sounds like a subterranean confrontation with that inner 'knowing' of who we are and what we're capable of becoming against what life has made easy to comply with or conform to.

As the days of May tick by (on our way to the Solar Eclipse on May 10th, or May 9th for those in the Americas)...first Mercury, then Mars conjunct Menkar.

This is a recipe for 'vital affairs' with far-reaching implications, the strength of which have everything to do with where these objects (Mercury, Mars and Menkar) lie in your natal chart.

And that's important to remember: the degree to which these things surface now, and to a great degree the effect Menkar has on your life is all about your natal chart. Whether (or how closely) Menkar and this eclipse are associated with any planet (dwarf or regular), node or axis in your chart multiplies effects in this moment.

Also yes, asteroids, TNOs and all such 'extra points' (as they're known) count in conjunction to Menkar natally and obviously (as discussed here) by transit. But unless you have a planet, node or axis positioned with Menkar or in such a position that it will be heavily impacted by the eclipse, you are less likely to see your shadow rise up and swallow some part of your life whole during the next weeks or month.

You know, like Jonah and the Whale.

Jonas en de Walvis (Jonah and the Whale)
by Pieter Lastman (1583-1633)

One more comment about that, since Jonah has crept into the conversation. The idea of being afraid of our own power is something many people from many walks of life have talked about. It’s known as the ‘Jonah Complex,’ which suggests that we are more apt to get swallowed by our fear of Self than anything else.

But what is fear and what is reality?

That seems very much part of our Menkar challenge. And maybe it's why we do so much soul searching throughout our lives.

Evidently we're meant to.

But then...maybe we should also reflect one last time on Cetus. Yes, the constellation began as a monster of the deep. And it's only in the past hundred plus years that whales have stopped being thought of as ship-wrecking monsters and giant sources of baleen and oil.

The whales haven't changed - we have. And maybe that's something very important to understand about Menkar. We may all need to - at some point - be 'swallowed whole' by our demons, our personal fears.

And maybe we survive best by accepting that our fears... our very human vulnerabilities, are part of the beauty which is life.   


  1. This is incredibly rich with information. Love the visuals and descriptions.....will ponder deeply. Thank You, I'm so grateful our paths crossed.

    1. They crossed, parted, and have come back together again much, much later. It's interesting to me how very true to the Self we were back then we still are - and yet how much we've both grown.

      I'm grateful too!

  2. Your blog is really attractive and your way of representing is amazing. vashikaran specialist astrologer describe about astrology,astrology techniques.
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    1. Thank you so very, very much. I'm truly humbled by your praise!

  3. I just came across this exceptional post while researching Menkar to help me make an astrological relocation decision. This explained the incredibly deep call that one location has on me and -- interestingly -- on my female ancestral line. A recurring theme of this one location calling up from the depths the true soul of women in my mother's ancestral line.

    Let me add a few things:
    -- Ahab's whale was white, resonating with Marianne Williamson's quote made famous by Mandela. Ahab was consumed with rage and chased his radiant light.

    For the ancient Greeks, Ahab's quest would have been a matter of a man gone mad with Mars aggression chasing his inner "genius," his "ingenium," the unique light within each one of us. As the ancient Greeks defined genius, it was the ability to access the unique shape that the great solar light of Apollo takes in each soul (we are all the creation of the energy of this solar star, and are all unique), and once accessed, to shine forth into the world in an exact match to how we shine within. Genius/ingenium was pulling up from the depths of our soul's the inner solar light of our unique gift for life. Genius was not about 'exceptional abilities' but about alignment with the solar source/ Source. So there's all your 'afraid of the light' / afraid of our vital power, the gift we bring to life, which opposes patriarchy's addiction to rage and war.

    Shifting out of Western culture, The Whale in Southwestern Native American wisdom tradition is all the knowledge of the ancestors. Is the encyclopedia of human experience all gathered into Cetus. Menkar as mouth = speaking from that place. Menkar as "porthole" = the opening of the shamanic initiation journey to retrieve our unique genius from the great ancestral fund. There is your 'collective unconscious' as the repository of all human wisdom - not as a negative, but as a potential positive. Actual whales have 'song lines' like the Australian Aborigines, teaching their young the ancestral wisdom of how to navigate their way through the ocean. Cetus, then, would be a resource for navigating through our individual lives using the routes of ancestral wisdom traveled before us, and Menkar would be the opening between us and all that wisdom.

    It is critical to make a deliberate choice to go on a shamanic journey "through" Menkar to Cetus to find and access your unique genius, or else one does risk being swallowed up by it, especially since a failed shamanic journey is believed to result in soul death. The negatives on Menkar likely reflect the difficulties with soul and spirit and pathologizing of psyche by modern scientific Logos West that forces soul and collective unconsciousness to speak to us through symptoms and illness rather than shamanic journeying for revelation and soul life mission and purpose.

    Bringing this all together, isn't it amazing that I am drawn to the ancestral wisdom of my female line -- and there is a LOT of wisdom there -- just at the time in my life (61) when I finally feel I have faced enough of the realities I need to face, am finally comfortable with my power, and want to fulfill, at last, why my soul showed up?

    It should come as no surprise at all that my AC is 16' Scorpio. The place I am thinking of relocating to has Menkar exact conjunct by Taurus Descendant, which I interpret at the place on earth (Taurus) where I can access the ancestral wisdom (Cetus) I need to access to deliver my message (Menkar/mouth). At least now I know what I would be signing up for, right? But isn't it amazing that this one location has called and called, even though I live astrologically in the lap of Venus ease.

    Guess Ihave work to do.

  4. Thank you for your post. It was very insightful and the best I've read on this star.

  5. Hi there, my natal sun is in 7th house 13'57 ° taurus degree.
    As a child I always observered the unconsious in people. As a teenager a huge interest in astrology. I can be very introvert and self reflecting. Which always helped me understand other people. Good in talking with them to bring them awareness. But myself.. ? Sometimes knot knowing How to deal with it.. or jumping into the deep to help others. Ive had many mysticial experiences. The end of 2012 ive done my first reiki, I've stopped smoking and deciced to let everything go of the past. The whole year of 2013 ive felt positive and child like... finally singing and radiating.
    I always wanted to stand in my power and cast away my insecurities. My biggest dream was to be come a singer of heart and soul, uplifting.
    I can see things black and white (although) I aint a good focus point. I love to listen to people to understand them better what made them the way they are. Like a seed that grows in an environment and depends on how it grows and turn out in life.
    On the negative side all I see life is about survival and materialistic, people beeing chained to work with fase belief of freedom. Making them sick or deprived. The lonely people or cast outs because they are beeing judged or judge themselves who feel limited. I always try to help others and advice them. And some think I need help.. maybe it's my conviction.. we are born with nothing and die with nothing and we do not posses anything. Yes I can struggle sometimes with reality and can take a flight in imagination. And the strenght of faith and believe, strenght of the mind. Sometimes I feel swallowed up by the many possibilities that life has to offer, especially when you break yourself free from old structures and shackles of the past and stand in your power. The power of the ego.. when is it healthy? When I have none im like the wind, when I have to much I can be tripping. When everyting is in unison, and not split apart you can achieve amazing things. I have a boyfriend for 16 years with medusa head, algol star in taurus 12th house.. feeling supressed by him and possesivenes with a stelium and sun of scorpio in his 5th house. I have had trauma's as a child of abuse and rape and incest.
    The flip coint, sex is supposed to be something beautiful in full love and sex is spirituality, life force that makes new life. Well.. don't know what my task is here on earth with this menkar star at my sun...

  6. Thank you. This was very powerful. And its funny reading it at 2019 and remembering what a turning point 2013 was to me (eclipses in menkar, ontop of my natal north node)