We all know there are 12 zodiac signs and chances are you also know where your Sun is located. I’m a Taurus, you say? Well, what type of Taurus are you? If you didn’t know that there are subdivisions within each of the zodiac signs, then welcome to the 36 decans.
Each of the 12 zodiac signs is divided into 3 distinct parts of 10 degrees each. So if your Sun is at 8 Taurus, it’s in the 1st decan of Taurus but if it’s at 26 Taurus, it’s in the last. We can consider the decans as 3 distinct acts in a 3-act play, the overarching theme of which is the zodiac sign involved.
For example, Taurus is oft thought of as the practical, determined bull who, although resistant to change, has the patience of a saint: keywords for Taurus include, slow, simple, tenacious, dependable, predictable, and possessive. The inherent theme of the Taurian drama here is how much you will have and what will you do with it.
When you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
and the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
and your fragrance shall be my breath,
and together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (on Eating and Drinking)
But quite how that all infolds in any given native of Taurus depends on the decan involved.
1st decan – This decan of Taurus, ruled by both Venus and Mercury, marks the phase of rigorous planning by which the fruits of your labours will, hopefully, later be harvested. This applies not just to agriculture but also to the investments made to secure a successful career. Natives with significant planets in this decan may sometimes find themselves tempted to coast in life; instead of investing in the future, they live off the fruits of past labours. After all, they will argue, what’s wrong with having a good time? Nothing. Indeed, in ancient Greece, this decan was associated in with the (three) Charities (Χάριτες) or Graces; three naked ladies partying! That’s the Venusian influence in this decan. But what about Mercury? He ties nicely with the tarot card, the 5 of Coins. This is a scary card; it’s not for nothing that it’s called the Lord of Worry. Yet that’s just the point. Unless you do worry about ending up – down and out – on the streets like the people in this card, you may not take the necessary efforts to ensure that won’t happen. No surprise then, that we’re back the rigorous planning phase meant to ensure that the fruits of your labours will be harvested.
2nd decan – With the Moon and Mercury as the joint rulers of this decan, we’re out of the planning phase and into the doing. The Moon, which governs with natural cycles of birth, death, and rebirth, is exalted in Taurus. In the northern hemisphere, where most of the lore associated with the decans was developed, this decan falls exactly between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice, a cross quarter point often celebrated with fertility rites. Thus the focus of the Moon here is on generation. Add Mercury to the mix, and we’re talking about the key to worldly success. Little wonder then this decan is associated with the tarot card, the 6 of Coins, The Lord of Success. Here is a man who is wealthy enough to be able to help others. But consider how he became wealthy in the first place. If Jupiter were involved, this man might have inherited his wealth. But with the Moon and Mercury, it’s fairly certain he had to work for it. As we’ve learned from the fable about the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. Thus we have the Good Work Ethic decan. In ancient Greece, this decan was associated with the Horae or Horai – the Greek goddesses or spirits of the seasons and the natural portions of time, the orderly progression of life. Those with happy planetary placements here may expect that their sustained efforts will, eventually, pay off. However those will less happy planetary placements, as, for example, with Mars, might find that negative energies like impatience impede their progress.
3rd decan – Throughout the previous degrees of Taurus, we’ve been planning and working to ensure our success. So what happens next? Because this decan is governed solely by Saturn, we have cause for concern. No matter where you come out on the question of whether or not men have free will, you must admit that sometimes we meet forces beyond our personal control. The tarot card associated with this decan is the 7 of Coins, oft known as the Lord of Failure. Yet here it’s not as simple as win/lose (as was the case back in Aries). From the look on the face of the man in this card, it’s clear that despite obstacles in his way, he’s not given up hope. Perhaps that why this decan is attributed to the Litai, a group of feminine spirits whose job it is to ensure that the gods hear the honest prayers of men. But, sadly, not all prayers are honest. Hence the Litai, are closely related to Atë, Até or Aitesm the Goddess of Ruin, the ruin that comes through pride and hubris. Add in that the most malefic fixed star, Algol (the Gorgon’s Head) falls in the decan, and we’d be forgiven for assuming this decan is simply wholly unfortunate. Yet that’s not quite right either. As those with key planets in this decan will tell you, it is in the negative spaces of life (i.e., caught between a rock and a hard spot) that we gain valuable knowledge on how minimise our difficulties. For example, you might choose to make talismans to ward off bad luck or, perhaps, you might simply take out an adequate insurance policy.