- Personal Ruler: Mars
- Transpersonal Ruler: Pluto
- Detriment: Venus
- Fall: Moon
As a fixed water sign, Scorpio is like a very deep, dark, still well. The phrase ‘still water runs deep’ is particularly appropriate here, because although the surface of the water may be calm, there is always a strong sense of the mysterious and unknown and often frightening depths lying below the surface. At the bottom of the well lies rotten, decayed and decaying detritus which all of us, unless we are Scorpios, would rather not think about.
There is an intense magnetism about Scorpio, and people tend to be either strongly attracted or strongly repelled by its atmosphere of inscrutability and controlled power. As a water sign, this magnetism is generated by a powerful emotional intensity which Scorpios will bring with them when they walk into a room, creating a change or a shift in the atmosphere. Can you relate to this?
Certainly, there is nothing superficial about this sign, and Scorpios never take life lightly. This sign does not share the tidal nature of Cancer or the fluidity of Pisces. Its stillness, darkness and depth make it the most emotionally intense sign of the zodiac. This is a sign of extremes, ice or fire, black or white, never anything in between, and there is often a kind of obsessive intensity which can be either very destructive or immensely creative. Normally secretive, private and controlled, Scorpios, like volcanoes, will either be dormant or active.
It is unlikely that you will ever get anything at all out of a dormant Scorpio – there is an impenetrability and a stillness, and even Scorpio eyes will give nothing at all away. This does not mean, of course, that nothing is happening below the surface. Quite the opposite. Scorpios are processing emotions all the time, and storing up impressions and experiences which will be used later. As a very controlled sign, Scorpio can afford to wait. Scorpio has a prodigious memory, a penetrating mind and a compulsion to probe under the surface. Detectives, depth psychologists, doctors and even potholers, and people working in submarines, ‘under the surface’, often have an emphasis of planets in Scorpio.
You will be in no doubt at all when you meet a Scorpio in their active volcano phase. Scorpios are often accused of stirring up trouble, being paranoid and suspicious and smelling rats where there are no rats. Although this may be true, it is also true to say that Scorpios have a very keen sense of smell, and if they sense that something is being hidden which has become poisonous or if something has become emotionally polluted or distorted, then they will feel compelled to bring it to the surface in order that it can be eliminated so that the system or organism as a whole can be purged, cleansed and healed.
As with all the water signs, Scorpio is, ultimately, an impersonal force. This explains why Scorpio is the sign of the healer, and there is no doubt that Scorpios tend to function as agents of purging, not only on a personal level but, as the ruler Pluto indicates, on a collective level as well. Scorpios are often blamed for this compulsion to bring issues which are hidden, taboo or poisonous to the surface so that they can be healed.
There are various creatures associated with this sign, one of which is the serpent which renews and regenerates itself by shedding its old skins on a regular basis. Scorpios often seem to go through several lifetimes within one life. Each ‘death’ will be experienced as a period of crisis, during which anything which has been outgrown is eliminated, followed by the generation of a completely new chapter in life.
If you are living with Scorpio planets or a Scorpio Ascendant, life is not a game. It is an intense struggle for survival, about constantly having to go into the fires to be reborn. The mythic phoenix is also associated with this sign, the bird which periodically enters into a fire, burns itself up and regenerates itself once again.
There is also the actual scorpion level, of course: solitary creatures with poisonous stings, who live in the desert and in dry, barren wastes, and which we will do well to treat with great caution and circumspection.
Finally, there is the eagle, which symbolizes the scorpion nature which soars above the world, having completely transformed and purified itself and, no longer caught by emotional complexities or defensiveness, has become magnificently itself.
Audience: So they are always purging themselves? Would you say that Scorpios live several lifetimes in one life?
Clare: Exactly. The other interesting thing about Scorpio is that the birth process itself is often a real struggle for survival.
Audience: I have Scorpio on the Ascendant, and I nearly died in the process of being born.
Clare: It is not unusual to hear people with Scorpio on the Ascendant say this. And, although we will explore the meaning of the Ascendant in much more depth next term, in astrological terms the way we enter life is also the way we live our lives. This means that your sensitivity to personal danger and your struggle for survival will probably be a general theme in your life.
Audience: So a Scorpio Ascendant can be quite difficult?
Clare: Difficulty is not exclusive to the sign of Scorpio, but we can certainly say that, for people with a Scorpio Ascendant, life is not a bed of roses, but something which is met with great intensity, strength and depth of feeling. It is often said, for example, that when a Scorpio is born someone in the family has just died or is about to die. Equally, when a Scorpio dies, there is a birth in the family. There is something deeply archaic and organic about all the water signs, connected to hidden laws of life and death. Scorpio is about getting to the heart of the emotional truth, which can manifest as a brutal honesty which is too much for many of us. If you don’t want to know the truth, then don’t ask a Scorpio!
The Mars ruler of Scorpio is not the rash, headstrong Mars which rules Aries. This Mars is controlled and subtle, the professional soldier rather than the football hooligan, the knife used with skill and precision by the surgeon, rather than the knife used by a robber in the heat of the moment.
The Pluto ruler of Scorpio refers to the purging of that which has become polluted, poisonous or taboo in the collective. In the same way, Scorpio rules the organs of elimination in the body, and elimination is absolutely essential if the body is not to become poisoned.
The conscious integration of Venus and the Moon, the feminine planets of gentleness, peace and caring, which are in their detriment and fall in Scorpio, can soften the otherwise brutal effectiveness of this sign and help it to take the values and needs of others into consideration.
Audience: My sister has five planets in Scorpio, and a friend of mine won’t even talk to her. But you can trust her with anything and you can tell her anything. She is tremendously loyal. She keeps her feelings to herself, but I have learned never to ask for her opinion unless I am feeling strong enough to take it.
Clare: And I am sure that your secrets are safe with her. This loyalty is a feature of all the fixed signs, and Scorpio is extremely loyal to its own feelings and to the feelings of others. There is a tremendous strength to this sign […]. Once you have earned the loyalty of a Scorpio, they will go through heaven and earth, ice and fire for you.
It is interesting that images of hell and of the underworld, which are familiar landscapes for Scorpio, contain both images of ice and fire, frozen lakes and eternal fires. On the other hand, if you betray the trust of a Scorpio then you are going to be in trouble. Scorpios invented the phrase: ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’ And if you attack a Scorpio, you will feel the sting, which is, in fact, a defensive mechanism. This is why the sign has a bad name, of course. It is said to be a sign of vengeance but, strictly speaking, if you leave a scorpion alone you will be safe.
Audience: Are there any other levels?
Clare: There is a particularly appropriate example in the Dumas story, The Count of Monte Cristo. In this story, Edmund Dantes, who is our Scorpio man, is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, and his wife marries the man who had unjustly imprisoned him. Dantes finally escapes after thirty or so years in prison and, because Scorpios never forget any wrongs done to them, systematically goes about getting his revenge. He takes the wrong-doer to pieces bit by bit in a very precise, calculated and extremely deadly way; that is the retribution.
At root, Scorpios have healing power. They can make themselves ill and they can also heal themselves. If they can find the right relationship to the Pluto ruler of this sign, they can function as channels of the collective life force itself, able to heal others. There are many Scorpio doctors. Of course you have to be very strong indeed to be a channel for the healing power of nature, and you will need to have been in the depths yourself to truly understand that this force cannot be harnessed to the ego’s will without it causing great damage to the individual.
Water supports, cleanses and heals, and it is not unusual for a Scorpio to be born with task of carrying, bearing, suffering and finally purging deep ancestral or collective poisons for which they will often be blamed and for which they will certainly receive no thanks.