Soft Gemini to easier Arts incline— Manilius
For softer Studies fit an Infant Sign.
They tune rough Words, or they incline to Sing,
To stop the Pipe, or strike the speaking String;
Through Reeds they blow the Natural Sound in Measure,
Gay their delight, and e’en their Pains are Pleasure;
Wars they avoid, Old Age they chace with Song,
And when Late Death o’retakes them they are Young.
- Element: Air
- Group: Mutable
- Ruler: Mercury
- Date: May 21 – June 20
- Symbol: Twins
The twin stars at the head of the constellation of Gemini have long been associated with legendary pairs. Known as the Great Twins in ancient Mesopotamia, they were initially associated with minor deities linked to Nergal, the god of war, but later came to represent Gilgamesh and Enkidu, each at opposite ends of human nature; the urbane, civilized warrior-king and the hairy wild man that became his greatest companion. The ancient Egyptians simply called them “Two Stars” but later may have identified them with an early version of the half-brothers Apollo and Hercules, one human and the other divine but both equal in strength. Castor and Pollux, the name currently associated with the stars and the constellation as a whole, comes from the Greco-Roman myth of the duo also known as Dioscuri.
Born from an egg after Zeus courted Leda, the wife of Spartan King Tyndareus, while in the form of a swan, Castor and Pollux were technically half-brothers. Incidentally, the inter-species union between god and queen also created the ill-fatedly beautiful Helen of Troy. Pollux, the son of Zeus, was immortal and possessed super-human strength, whereas Castor, the son of Tyndareus, was mortal but clever, skilled at horsemanship, music, and the arts. The twins joined the crew of the Argonauts, where they served with distinction, saving a number of their crewmates during a storm—the stars, when seen together, were considered good omens for sailors, and many ships, including the one that carried St. Paul, used the twins as figureheads.
Later in the voyage, however, the Dioscuri were embroiled in a feud with another set of twins, Idas and Lynceus, born to the wife of Tyndareus’ half-brother and potentially the product of Poseidon’s own sexual exploits. After a disagreement involving cattle or spoils of war, depending on the version of the myth, the two sets of twins fought. Both Idas and Lynceus were killed, thanks to the ferocity of Pollux and the intervention of Zeus, but Castor fell as well, leaving Pollux brokenhearted.
Unwilling to live without his twin, Pollux sought to renounce his immortality. Touched by this show of love, Zeus agreed to let the Twins live together, splitting their time between the underworld of Tartarus and heaven, and commemorated their brotherly love in the stars. Interestingly enough, the actual star Castor, the brightest in the constellation in ancient times, has dimmed to become a 2nd magnitude star over the centuries, while Pollux has increased in brightness to take its brother’s place as the brightest.
Each of the myths of the Twins is linked to brotherly love, the pursuit of immortality, and the tension between vitality and decay. In both the meditations on mortality of the grief-stricken Gilgamesh to the divine bond of Castor and Pollux, we see a pair of opposites linked by love, extremes that represent humankind’s position between the Earth and the heavens.
Like its symbol the Twins, the mutable air sign of Gemini represents the consolidation of diametric opposites through investigation, curiosity, and experience. Just as the legendary pairs of Castor and Pollux and Gilgamesh and Enkidu represented disparate natures united by the harmony of brotherly love, Gemini natives seek to bring together seemingly opposing forces, ideas, people, and experiences. This quest to make connections, most often seen as a quest for knowledge, can be social or spiritual and is characterized by an incurable interest in all things and, at least on the surface, breezy extroversion. Gemini investigates, circulates, and disseminates.
As the domicile of Mercury, Gemini is famously mercurial—dexterous, tricksterish, insatiably curious, and not at all consistent. Driven to gather and distribute information, Gemini is both the student and the gossip. Their lot is to fully engage in mercurial activities, without question as to their worth—that’s the lot of Virgo, as both the domicile and exaltation of Mercury. The association between Mercury and the Greek Hermes, the Egyptian Thoth, and Mesopotamian Nabu give both signs the archetype of the scholar or scribe. The Twins are especially associated with language and writing, as well as speech and reporting, thanks to their investigative tendencies and stereotypically chatty nature.
Jupiter, the planet of largess, is in its fall in the sign of the Twins. While a Gemini native might exhibit much of the outward exuberance of a Sagittarius native, the devil is in the details. Gemini is concerned with the minutiae, the gears that make things tick, whereas Sagittarius is concerned with the gist of things, the overarching meaning. While the typical Sagittarius does not sweat the small stuff, Geminis can have trouble seeing the forest through the trees. The contrast is also clear in the distance covered—natives born under the Twins dart back and forth, investigating whatever is closest at hand. The Archer, in contrast, shoots for the stars, oblivious to any obstacles to its arrows.
While typically loquacious, especially in comparison to the taciturn Taurus, the sign of the Twins is not always extroverted. Indeed, much like their fellow air sign Libra, Gemini natives tend to gravitate to opposite extremes, and any period of exuberant extroversion is likely balanced by periods of reflective, even brooding solitude. But, possessing all of the flexibility afforded it as a mutable sign ruled by Mercury, the Gemini native is unlikely to stay gone for long. As part of their drive to network, or at least overhear, they want to be at the center of whatever is happening, flitting between the center and the margins without any restriction to their activities.
Their distaste for restriction can translate into a fear of commitment, not unlike that of Sagittarius. But while the Archer wants no limits to the wide-open plains he might gallop, Gemini’s interest in freedom has to do with the free flow of information. Restrictions are, in a way, a form of censorship, and Gemini appreciates situations and relationships that allow them to gather information and experiences without limits or judgment.
As a gatherer of information, Gemini is essentially amoral—it hears but it does not judge. Not unlike Scorpio, Gemini is rarely turned off by the darker sides of the human experience, and may not think twice about trying on an uglier mask for a bit, just to see what it feels like. Like anything else, it’s just another bit of data to gather and synthesize. But while Scorpio dives to the depths, Gemini dabbles, giving it a reputation for frivolity. A native born under the Twins may lack the intensity or emotional staying power expected by some, but it will never judge—it will simply listen, and perhaps wonder, why is it like that? and what if that were me?
In any group, the Gemini is likely the one playfully sowing dissent, spreading rumors or trying on a new personality, but rarely is malice their motivation. In investigating the moment, they are driven to ask why, and often find out by trying out practically everything. This focus on the inner workings of the world around them means that Geminis love to take things—and people—apart to see how they work, a positively infuriating tendency for those being dissected.
An association with Janus, the indigenous Roman god of doorways and thresholds, can shed light on the archetype of the Twins. Janus faces two ways at once, looking forward and backward simultaneously. Gemini natives, similarly, can face—and accept—two polarities at once, a tendency that has given them a reputation for being two-faced or inconsistent. Logic and belief, intellect and emotion, idealism and materialism, masculine and feminine; the archetype of Gemini is to juggle these dualities and consolidate them through experience. But this openness to everything can mean an incapacity or unwillingness to exclude, a task Virgo is far more adept at. Geminis prefer to keep their options open and cherish the relationships that grant them that freedom, no strings attached.
Even if a Gemini might try on a more extreme mask from time to time—and many typically love playing devil’s advocate—they are rarely extreme in their views and tend to be easy-going. They value intellectual freedom and will surely extend the same courtesy to you. Exhibiting both mental and physical agility, they may be entertaining conversationalists with a wide array of interests. The Twins have an essential association with games, especially card games—anything played with the hands.
At work, they may be a jack-of-all-trades, but even in a clear-cut role they relish a variety of tasks and will often try to complete the same task in different ways, rather than sticking to the tried-and-true. This experimental approach to life characterizes how the Twins will act in social, romantic, professional situations, and more, to the chagrin of those who want them to take things more seriously.
Despite their reputation for flightiness, the fact that some Geminis can fall in love with two people at the same time does not diminish the authenticity of that love. Funnily enough, Gemini on a cusp house could mean a duality in that part of the native’s life, with Gemini in the 10th house signifying two careers, or two marriages in the 7th.
Like the immortal Pollux, Gemini natives typically maintain a youthful appearance or energy well into old age. Usually witty or clever, they may have a silver tongue or a gift for language. Their propensity for short-distance speed often means they are ahead of the game, without the singlemindedness of Aries. Thanks to their investigative skills, they’ve probably heard the news well before you tell them. A prominent Saturn or a wealth of fixed placements may make the typically vacillating Gemini native more consistent.
The sign of the Twins is associated with the hands and limbs, and, understandably, professions such as writing, reporting, interpreting, diplomacy or linguistics, as well as teaching. The sign rules monkeys and many birds, especially those with a talent for mimicry. In dress, a Gemini native will favor lines over curves and prefers bright, stimulating, and cheery colors. Planets in Gemini are often a bit scattered, without the focus of the fixed signs but espousing a more investigative, verbalized approach to that part of the native’s life.
As spring turns into summer, mutable Gemini reminds us that we can be two things at once. Espousing the reporter or the gossip, the Gemini native investigates the immediate world around it, happy to witness all sides of experience without judgement, as long as the story is entertaining. But at the root of the symbolism of the Twins is the quest for immortality, eternal youth—and how companionship can unite even the most disparate of natures.
- The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook, Sue Tompkins
- Christian astrology, William Lily
- Manilius on the 12 Signs, solunars.com, Jim Eshelman
- Gemini the Twins, skyscript.co.uk
- Star Lore of the Constellations, Gemini: the Twins, Deborah Houlding
- Gemini (Twins) constellation at chandra.harvard.edu
- Gemini Constellation, Wikipedia