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Astronomy in the Magical World I. The Theory Behind Magical Stargazing II. Tools III. Technique IV. Magical Histories of Select Constellations By A. Major Stern I. The Theory Behind Magical Stargazing Stars have long been known to hold a magical sway over our world, influencing the things which are done and, if the astrologers are to be believed, the things which will be done. But how is this possible? Stars are simply burning balls of hydrogen gas billions of meters (or more) away from us. What magical powers can they posses? Obviously the stars themselves have no power. The actual magic of the constellations comes from the centuries of belief that humans, Muggle and Wizard alike, have poured into them, thus imbuing them with a magic of their own. That is why it is vital when attempting to discover a star, planet, or constellation's influence over magic or life that the student of magical Astronomy understands the history and mythology surrounding the stars. These magical "signature" or mythical histories are what cause stars and constellations to interfere in magic, and it is very important when working magic to know what stars you are working under. Casting a healing spell is all well and good, but if you cast it when Mercury dominates the spell will have greater strength, and brewing love potions with Venus in the sky will result in much higher potency. II. Your Tools It is vitally important that you understand the tools you use when star gazing and treat them well. There is much debate in the field of magical Astronomy over which telescopes are better, the Muggle's or our own. Obviously Muggle telescopes have no special enchantments (standard ones include: constellations lexicons for the beginning observer, image enhancements, and occasionally cloud piercing charms.) On the other hand, the Muggles have no need to hide their work and subsequently can build larger, far more powerful telescopes than we can, allowing them to expand their work. For the purposes of this textbook however, the author recommends a standard, beginners enchanted telescope, with lexicon. Cloud piercing is not necessary for beginners as hidden stars exert less influence over simple spells such as those being performed by students than do stars not covered by clouds. Once you have obtained your telescope it is useful to understand how the tool works, and how it can be repaired. *Note* Students should never attempt to repair the charms on their own telescopes, as the enhancement charms are delicate and the lexicon spells are very complicated. Messing with them can result in much confusion and casting of peace spells under the influence of Mars. The magical telescope operates on the same principal as omnioculors - magical light refraction. Standard telescopes refract light in very simple ways, whereas the image enhancement charms on even the most basic of magical telescopes gather up more light and refract it more accurately than even the best Muggle telescope. III. Technique Finally, it is important to be aware of your technique in observing. Be consistent and careful when making stellar measurements, as small variations on your part can result in very different results. Astronomy is a science that is particularly vulnerable to human error. Chose nights to practice observing that are clear and on which the moon is not full, then set up your observing platform on the highest point in your area, away from (or at least above) any trees. This will give you optimal viewing conditions. When first learning the astronomical patters, always observe at the same time each night. Learn how the constellations move across the sky as the seasons progress, and rhythm of the planetary motions. With practice you will be able to pick out a single constellation and from its position calculate the best time for casting or brewing anything. IV. Magical Histories of Select Constellations Note: When a constellation "transits", that means the principle star passes directly overhead. This is not the only time one can tap a constellation's power, nor is it necessarily the time most commonly associated with the constellation. This date is merely offered so that beginning astronomers will have some idea of the best time to seek out these constellations. Andromeda (Family Perseus) A beautiful girl offered up to the sea god Poseidon after her mother insulted the god's nymph daughters; the hero Perseus who fell in love with her rescued Andromeda. Beauty, love, and sacrifice are all traits associated with the Andromeda constellation, while wisdom and resolution spells can be adversely affected under her influence. Transits at the end of September. Aquarius (Family Zodiac) In modern times Aquarius has been associated with Ganymede, cupbearer of the Greek gods, but Aquarius has been a water symbol for much longer than that. This constellation is good for brewing potions as well as some weather spells. Transits at the end of August. Aries (Family Zodiac) The Ram constellation has long been a symbol of renewal and rebirth; it is also associated with the story of Jason and the Argonauts. Subsequently, Aries has an influence over fertility spells, some of the more drastic healing spells, and potions brewed with "heroic intent" (will strengthening, guidance, and physical strength potions, for instance). Also, large-scale warlike spells will gain strength from this constellation due to its connection to the Greek god of war. Transits at the end of October. Bootes (Family Ursa Major) The Bear Hunter, the Bear Protector, the Herdsman, this constellation has gone through many changes throughout human history, but it has always been associated with animals and nature. Spells seeking to tap into this nature connection should be cast under Botes. However, a caster should always be aware of which facet of the constellation they wish to tap. Hunting spells cast under the protector's influence will have altered outcomes. Transits at the end of April. Cancer (Family Zodiac) The myth of the crab is the part it played in one of Hercules' twelve labors. As a servant of the Hydra it attacked Hercules and was killed, earning itself a place in the heavens. This constellation is associated with sacrifice and loyalty, so the effect it has depends more on the intent of the caster or brewer than on the spell itself. Transits at the beginning of February. Canis Major (Family Orion) One of Orion's two hunting dogs, this constellation again affects spells cast with loyalty, bravery, or with intent to aid. This constellation is also notable for the presence of the Dog Star, Sirius. Sirius has been associated with a pair of myths about two headed creatures, one benevolent and capable of great wisdom due to it's ability to look back into time and think forward to the future at once, and one a monster set to guard a tyrants castle. He has also been associated with death and sickness. Attempting to tap into the magical energy connected with Sirius is very difficult, and should not be attempted by a novice. Transits at the beginning of January. Cassiopeia (Family Perseus) Mother to Andromeda, Cassiopeia has long been associated with excessive vanity, pride, and unfaithfulness in bargains. This constellation is very good for casting beauty spells under, and not much else, as her two faced nature can disrupt many spells. Transits at the beginning of October. Centaurus (Family Hercules) Associated with the centaurs both real and mythological, Centaurus is a constellation that has effects on spells relating to wisdom, warfare, knowledge and research. Transits in early May. Coma Berenices (Ursa Major) The story of Berenices’ Hair involves the wife of a king. When King Ptolemy returned from war successful his wife, Berenices, had her hair ceremonially cut to offer to Aphrodite. The hair went missing, and the priests' lives were in danger as a result, but the court astronomer discovered that Aphrodite had accepted the offering and placed the hair in the sky with the stars. Coma Berenices has influence over spells of wisdom, cleverness, and understanding or discovery. Transits early to mid April. Cygnus (Family Hercules) The swan constellation has a number of myths attached to it (including Arabic ones which saw this constellation as a hen rather than a swan.) Despite the variations, it has a strong influence over flight spells and beauty spells, as well as being somewhat useful in deception spells or illusion casting. Transits at the beginning of August. Delphinus (Family Heavenly Waters) The Dolphin was a messenger for Poseidon in his quest to convince Amphitrite to become his wife. Delphinus was the only messenger who was successful, due to his honeyed tongue and was placed in the heavens as his reward. Subsequently this constellation has magical influence over spells relating to discussion and potions used for clarity of expression. Transits at the end of July. Draco (Family Ursa Major) The constellation Draco was the dragon Ladon of the hundred heads who Hera had set to guard the golden apples from the tree Gaia had given her. Ladon was a faithful guardian, and ended up giving his life when Hercules came to steal some as his eleventh labor. This constellation has effect on ward or guard spells, as well as on faithfulness potions. Transits near the end of April. Eridanus (Family Heavenly Waters) The sacred river of the skies, Eridanus has magical effect over many water spells. It transits in the middle of October. Gemini (Family Zodiac) The half brother twins Castor and Pollux, born of Leda's tryst with Zeus as well as her marriage to the King of Sparta make up the constellation Gemini. There are many stories around the twins' lives, including the fact that they traveled with Jason as Argonauts, but the most important story is the one that got them placed in the heavens. The two were very mischievous, and on one of the pranks Castor (who was fully human) was killed. Pollux mourned for his brother so deeply that he persuaded his father Zeus to allow them to stay together, sharing homes in both Hades and on Olympus. Gemini influences all spells cast with a deep and abiding love, pranks, and persuasion spells. Transits in the middle of January. Hercules (Family Hercules) The stories of the hero Hercules are many and varied, but all of them celebrate his strength and valor. Spells and potions emphasizing these traits will gain strength from this constellation, but Hercules was also famous for his lack of wisdom or forethought. Spells relating to these will suffer when cast under Hercules' influence. Transits in mid June. Hydra (Family Hercules) The hydra was the second of Hercules' labors and the legends of it tell of its great strength, terrible weapons, and the horrible havoc it wrecked, and of course it is well known for it's seven reforming heads. Spells of war and combat, rebirth, and poison brews are all improved for being worked under Hydra. Transits in mid February. Leo (Family Zodiac) The Nemean Lion was the first of Hercules' labors, and its story should be familiar to any who have ever studied mythology. It was well known for its impervious skin and great strength, so potions of fortitude and resistance, as well as spells for strength all become stronger under this constellation's influence. Transits near the end of February. Libra (Family Zodiac) Traditionally Libra is a constellation of balance and justice, although the Greeks saw it as the chariot of Pluto. However the balance nature of Libra has largely over come the other stories in modern times, so it most strongly affects spells which are aimed at finding an equal balance or that are cast with the intent of doing justice. Transits in the beginning of May. Lyra (Family Hercules) Clearly the constellation Lyra has influence over musical spells, but it also has mythical connections to the calming of wild beasts and healing to a certain extent. These are all the sorts of spells that it has effect over. Transits at the beginning of July. Ophiuchus (Family Hercules) Originally known as Asclepius, this constellation is associated with healing of even the strongest wounds. Mediwitches and wizards will often attempt to schedule serious healing work under its influence, and healing potions are so greatly strengthened by it that most brewers will spend the weeks when it dominates the sky brewing such potions exclusively. Transits in mid June. Orion (Family Orion) The great hunter, Orion has come to symbolize skill with the bow and the sword (due to two separate versions of the myth surrounding him) but also hopeless love. Artemis is said to have loved the hunter Orion, but was tricked by her brother into accidentally killing him. Thus spells placed on either bows or swords to improve accuracy and skill, as well as potions and spells designed to trick or mislead are all strengthened by Orion's presence. It has a greater influence than some other hunting constellations (such as Botes) due to the fact that its brightness has caused much more focus than on the others. Transits in mid December. Pegasus (Family Perseus) The winged horse of Bellerophon, Pegasus is obviously related to spells of travel and flight, swiftness, and lithe maneuverability. Transits in the beginning of September. Perseus (Family Perseus) One of the great heroes of antiquity, Perseus killed Medusa and rescued Andromeda, among other feats. Spells and potions of strength and prowess are helped by this constellation, but Perseus was also well known for his cleverness so such spells can also be influenced. Transits in mid November. Pisces (Family Zodiac) The double fish image of Pisces is associated with the forms that Aphrodite and Eros took to escape a rampaging monster known as Typhon. When Typhon attacked Mount Olympus all of the Gods took animal forms to escape and Aphrodite and Eros took on fish form to swim up the Nile. Subsequently this constellation has an effect over spells of escape, transfiguration, and cleverness. Transits in late October. Sagittarius (Family Zodiac) The archer constellation, Sagittarius has some question about his origin in the skies. But regardless of what myth you are following, they almost all recognize the very apparent "bow" that he holds. Thus Sagittarius has a magical effect over war and hunting spells, as well as some relating to accuracy, flight, or attack. Transits in the middle of July. Scorpius (Family Zodiac) The scorpion sent by Gaia to kill the hunter Orion, Scorpius is a constellation relating to both threat and escape spells (because the scorpion is not what killed Orion in most myths.) Potions related to vengeance or anger also are affected by this constellation. Transits in late May. Taurus (Family Zodiac) The bull constellation Taurus has two separate connotations. One view sees Taurus as attacking Orion and being attacked in return by Orion's hunting dogs, whereas one view pictures him as a symbol of fertility. That comes from the connection between the stories of Zeus carrying Europa off while disguised as a bull, which resulted in the birth of Minos of Crete and eventually in the creation of the Minotaur’s maze. Taurus strengthens all spells of fertility, confusion, attack, and disguise. The Polyjuice potion has been known to almost double in strength as a result of being brewed under its influence. Transits at the end of November. Ursa Major (Family Ursa Major) Ursa Major has been seen as the great northern bear by many cultures, largely due to its northern altitude. Surely the only animal that would be comfortable so far north would be a bear. Also, the Greeks saw the bear as representing Callisto, one of Artemis' huntresses. She was seduced by Artemis' father and became pregnant, and when the goddess found out she was very angry. She turned the girl into a bear and would have killed her if Zeus had not placed her in the heavens. This constellation has effect on spells of revenge, protection, and potions of cold resistance. Transits in early March. Ursa Minor (Family Ursa Major) Ursa Minor, the little bear, has few myths about it at all, and yet still possesses a lot of pure magic that can affect spells. This is because Ursa Minor points the way to the North Star, Polaris. Polaris has long been the guide star that navigators have used to find they way all around the Northern Hemisphere. Subsequently this constellation has powerful effects on spells for direction, searching, and finding. Transits in early November. Virgo (Family Zodiac) Virgo obviously has mythical connections with purity and maidenhood, but oddly enough this constellation also has connotations of fertility, as well as protection. This is because the Egyptians saw this constellation as representing Isis; the mother goddess while the Romans viewed her as Ceres, goddess of the fields and harvest. Spells relating to life, growth (especially plants) and protection, in addition to ones of purity all gain power from this constellation. Transits in mid April.
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