Sign Characteristics
Sign Characteristics
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The Signs
The Signs
Libra Glyph

Libra - The Scales

September 23 - October 22

  1. The Myth
  2. The Astrology
  3. The Sky

The Story of Libra

There are several myths which are associated with the constellation of Libra, and a number of them are closely related to myths of Virgo.

There was Themis, daughter of Gaia, mother earth herself.  Themis was in charge of the Oracle at Delphi and sat beside Zeus to offer advice.  She  was also the goddess of divine law, who judged whether the dead went to  Tartarus or the Elysian Fields.   

She is commonly portrayed as a woman holding  a pair of scales in one hand, a sword in the other and wearing a blindfold  as a symbol of impartiality and inner sight.

The Scales of Justice
Astraea Holding Balance Scales
1886 base-relief
Vermont State House

Later on, the stars of Libra were related to the myth of Astraea, daughter  of Themis and Zeus.  Astraea was also called the Goddess of Justice.  In her great golden scales, she weighed the good and evil deeds of humanity and decided their fate.

Astraea was the last of the immortals to mingle with humans on the earth.  But by the end of the Golden Age,  she became increasingly offended

by the wickedness of humanity and returned to the heavens, joining Demeter as the constellation Virgo.  A variation of this myth has Astraea returning to the heavens in such a hurry that she left her golden scales behind.  Themis, as the scales, was then placed in the sky as the constellation Libra to shine beside her daughter.

It is also said that the Romans, fearing her judgment, created the constellation Libra from the claws of the Scorpion so that the scales would always be nearby.

Libra in Astrology

We know from its association with the seventh house, that the primary focus of Libra is the role that we play in partnership, particularly that most important one of our life: our mate.  Everything Libra revolves around participation in a relationship.

We also know from the myths that Libra is all about balance...weighing good against evil, weighing the pros and cons, seeing both sides of an issue. 

The job of Libra, the Scales is to be impartial and fair, to maintain the equilibrium, to keep everything in balance.  The job of pronouncing judgement belongs to Virgo, the Virgin.  Libra does not like to disturb the status quo.  Libra will avoid confrontations at all costs.

And we also know from its ruling planet, Venus, that Libra is associated with beauty and love.  If you read her myth, you know that Venus does not like anything dirty or unrefined.  She is also a very sexy lady.  As the ruling planet of Libra, she brings those qualities to the sign.

When planets travel through Libra, their energy becomes softer and more willing to compromise.  We like the pretty things in life more and we are more willing to please others.

If we can take this to extremes, however, we can become terribly indecisive, which causes no end of aggravation to our friends and family.  We can also begin to feel like all this stuff that we are doing for them is going unappreciated.  And that can lead to resentment at being taken advantage of and Hey, What About ME?! 

The Beautiul Sofia Loren

At those times, we need to remember that you can't be a doormat unless you lie down.

Quality:  Cardinal
Element:  Air

Natural House:  Seventh
Energy:  Yang (+) Masculine
Traditional Ruler: Venus
Modern Ruler:  Venus

Exaltation:  Saturn
Detriment:  Mars
Fall:  The Sun
Key word: Harmony
Key phrase:  I Balance!  

Part of the Body:  The Lower Back, the Kidneys, and Adrenal Glands

Libra in the Sky

The Stars of Libra
Constellation Art from Stellarium

The constellation of Libra is a faint constellation best viewed in late spring in the northern latitudes.  It lies between Scorpio to the east and Virgo to the west.

Although the constellation of Libra was identified as such by the Babylonians, the ancient Greeks and Arabs considered it to be part of Scorpio, representing the great claws of the scorpion.  It was called "Chelae Scorpionis", the Scorpion's Claws.

Even today, the stars of the constellation carry names that, when translated from the ancient Arabic, refer to the claws.  The alpha star is known as Zuben Elgenubi, meaning "Southern Claw", and the beta star is known as Zuben Eschamali, meaning "Northern Claw". 

But as early as 800 - 650 BCE, a star map recovered from the Assyrian ruins of King Assurbanipal's library in Nineveh depicted these stars as a balance scale. Interestingly, some translate the name Zuben Elgenubi to mean 'the price to be paid' and  Zuben Eschamali as 'the price to be received'.

Libra first appeared as a separate constellation in the Julian calendar of 46 B.C.  At that time, the sun passed through the constellation of Libra at the autumnal equinox, when the days and nights are equal in length and the world is in balance.

Libra is Latin for Weighing Scales...the only constellation representing an inanimate object.  When viewed with a telescope, its brightest star, which sits at the top of the Southern Scale, can be seen as a pale yellow and grey double star.  The second brightest star, at the top of the Northern Scale, is a white star, although some say it is green.