Among traditional astrologers Algol has the reputation of being the most malefic fixed star in the heavens. But close by is a group of stars, equally famous and equally of unfortunate reputation. The Pleiades, or the Weeping Sisters.
According to Ptolemy they are of the nature of the Moon and Mars. Wm. Lilly speaks of some characteristics when describing their directions to the Ascendant and Midheaven.
- To the Ascendant there is danger of wounds or hurt to the eyes, but also towards obscurity and loss of reputation. This in the form of imprisonment or banishment mostly self-induced through quarrelling.
- To the Midheaven there is wrangling and controversy, also quarrels. The native is “thrust into troublesome, pernicious and dangerous business”. If he meets with sudden preferment it will end unfortunate.
Algol is described by Ptolemy as having the nature of Saturn and Jupiter. It is associated with uncontrolled emotion and violence through which the native literally or figuratively loses his head. At first it seems curious that it should be of the nature of Jupiter and Saturn. But if you meld the warmth and expansiveness of Jupiter with the coldness and brittleness of Saturn you have a noxious combination. You can imagine it this way:
Suppose someone falls deeply in love, their heart expands and enfolds the beloved with warmth and joy. But what happens if this love isn’t returned in the way expected, or worse, appears to have been given to another? Then all the joy and generosity bestowed upon the beloved becomes poisoned. The bitter cold and above all jealous voice of Saturn turns the beloved into a calculating and heartless creature full of deceit. Love becomes hatred and fury and vindictiveness are now directed towards the ‘beloved’. All rational thought is put aside, one loses one’s head with an emotional surge that strives to damage and hurt, cost what it will. This is the stuff of tragedy and Shakespeare’s “Othello” comes to mind.
Now what about the Pleiades? How are they different from Algol? They are of the nature of the Moon and Mars. Again, opposites meet. And if we take our lead from what Wm. Lilly describes then the tendency is towards obscuration. Either literally, which is damage to the eyes, or figuratively through banishment from a former favourable state. The Moon, as a Light, becomes obscured or eclipsed by the impulsive violence of Mars. Hence the wrangling and quarrelling that Wm. Lilly describes. Here the story might go this way:
Someone knows of the love of another. They can be sure of it. But they must have a demonstration of it that surpasses anything that they can imagine. So others must also express their love but it must be shown to be of lesser quality. But what happens if the person is unable to distinguish truth from flattery? And instead of hearing some absurd fabrication of love they hear only simple truth? And being blinded by some fancy (lunacy?) they quarrel and disown the love given? This is also the stuff of tragedy. It is the story of Lear. Blindness leads to banishment, despair and weeping.
When we find these particular fixed stars prominent in a chart it might be a great help to evoke the story of Othello and Lear in our minds eye. In a birth chart it may be helpful for the native to know that they have great potential to cast themselves as the major figure of a tragedy and that they may perhaps fend away the worst if they could learn in a difficult situation to see clearly through their emotions, as if they were looking at a play on a stage.