Airy and Versatile Gemini
Imagine this scene: two small children, hand in hand, are running through a flower-strewn meadow, the fresh breezes of early summer blowing through their bright hair. They are laughing and leaping around, while butterflies flit about their heads. The day stretches ahead of them promising endless delights of fun and exploration.
When I was a little girl I remember asking my mother what heaven was going to be like, for I had been taught that it certainly was a fabulous place to look forward to, if I was good, of course. My mother said that everybody in heaven would get to fly around, just like the angels, and she was certainly looking forward to flying to all the other worlds because she loved to travel and explore new places.
Welcome to the bright side of Gemini! Gemini begins every year around May 21st or 22nd and extends to the Summer Solstice of June 21st. It is the 3rd sign in the Zodiac and brings us to the element of Air, which is hot, moist, and decidedly yang. This is the first of the ‘human’ signs with its emphasis on the mind and the intelligent expression of one’s thoughts. ‘I think, therefore I am.’ (Rene Descartes). Developmentally it corresponds with the inquisitive stage of childhood when exploration of one’s immediate environment, and constant interchange with others within it, helps to develop both cognitive functions and speaking skills. Yes, Geminis like to communicate in a variety of ways; many do like to talk!
Qualities and Characteristics
Gemini is quick, bright, cheerful, playful and full of a lively mental curiosity. Verbally precocious, Gemini gets bored easily. There is a restless, high-strung quality to this Mutable Sign, whose versatility responds with amazing flexibility to life’s ever changing circumstances. No sign is potentially more amoral and fickle because the element of Air, as expressed through the mind, is not concerned with the feelings per se. Objectivity and open-mindedness are positives in such roles as teaching, journalism, law, and inventive positions. The most versatile of all the signs, Gemini can multi-task and is often ambidextrous. Collecting facts and putting them together in new, inventive and experimental ways is one of the fortes of this sign.
Gemini is said to rule the shoulders, arms, and hands. Eye-hand coordination is often a natural skill, which means they’re good at so very many areas where brains and hands work together seamlessly. Geminis have sensitive nervous systems and because Gemini also rules the lungs, the pressures of responsibility can often lead to the habit of smoking too much. Symbolically, Geminis need the extra air expressed by smoking, as it forces them to inhale and exhale rhythmically; perhaps better for them to take up yoga instead. This is one sign that really needs to learn to pay attention to their physical body through a good diet, plenty of fresh air, exercise, and fun in the sun.
Constellation of Gemini
There are up to 100 stars in the constellation of Gemini with at least 47 of them highly visible. Castor and Pollux are at the head of this constellation. Castor is actually composed of a cluster of 6 stars and thus very bright. Pollux is a lustrous orange giant.
There are so many tales of ‘The Twins’ in various ancient cultures. These Twin Myths all give different versions of the primeval split in the universe, that rupture which gives rise to duality and polarization of opposites. In Sumeria we have the tale of Apse and Tiamat, in Persia Ahriman, the god of darkness and Ahura Mazda, the god of light. The Babylonians tell of Mastabba galgel, the ‘great twins’, the Greeks have Didumoi, India Mithuna, which is a boy and a girl, and China, Mang Chung known as ‘grain in ear’. Many tribes of the Americas have ‘the Twins’ in their creation ceremonies. To the modern, psychologically oriented, these myths show the split between consciousness and unconsciousness.
Let’s review just one of the myths, Castor and Pollux. Actually in the true version of the story there are two sets of twins resulting from Leda, the beautiful wife of King Tyndareus, being raped by ever-philandering Zeus, disguised as a swan. One set of twins is mortal, Castor and Helen of Troy. The other set, Pollux and Clytaemnestra gain their father Zeus’ immortality. Together both sets create a four-fold symbol of wholeness by integrating male/female and human/divine elements.
Castor and Pollux were inseparable. They were both athletic and strong with Castor, the famed horseman who also taught Hercules how to fence, and Pollux, the champion boxer. They joined up with our Aries hero, Jason, and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece. Tragically, Castor, the mortal twin, was slain during a battle and Pollux, grief-stricken, begged his father Zeus to also let him die. He was allowed to ascend into heaven as an immortal; because Pollux was mortal, Zeus decreed that they both spend half their time in heaven and half their time in the underworld.
The duality of the sign is being fleshed out in these myths as the conflict between ego and shadow creates the changeable, inconsistent, and potentially treacherous qualities that are illustrated in the tales of Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra. These two female twins of different fathers represent aspects of the feminine anima. Helen is beautiful but passive, never going beyond what is the conventional mode of behavior. This lack of inner strength of character and assertiveness ultimately leads to the Trojan War. Her darker, more passionately motivated sister, Clytaemnestra, murders her own husband. Separately they both produce destruction, one by action, and the other by lack of it.
The real danger of Gemini is to compartmentalize where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, or the mind simply zones out or splits off from the emotional body. It’s interesting that the female version of the myth brings in more vividly the level of feelings that are often what gets split off into the shadow side of the sign. Integration comes through learning to focus and unite the body with the mind, and to bring up into consciousness that which has been repressed because it was ‘unacceptable’. Rationalizing the emotions is often a defense mechanism used by Geminis to avoid facing up to their feelings of jealousy, fear, or longings. Because this is a changeable and restless sign, not known for its staying power, we often see the sexual butterfly aspect emerge where enjoying sex without any depth of feeling prevents any real bonding from occurring.
Working with the shadow becomes a huge theme with Gemini. The human mind brings with it the knowledge of good and evil. The innocence of Taurus in the Garden of Eden gives way as the curiosity of the mind leads to the freedom of choice. Without the balancing guidance of Sagittarian wisdom and the practicality of Saturnine hard work, the quicksilver choices of Gemini often turn into long-term difficult consequences. Ponder before you leap is a tough lesson to learn.
For many Geminis, intertwined in this journey are actual lessons through the relationship with a brother or sister. There is sometimes a karmic bond with one. If, also, the death of a sibling is experienced early in life, there is an almost immediate transformation of Gemini’s puer qualities into more the senex. The child must grow up quickly and taste the fruit of what loss and grief means.
The Puer and Puella Archetypes
Peter Pan is the classic modern-day Puer. He never wants to grow up. He only wants to live in Never Never land with the lost boys and play with Tinker Bell and Captain Hook. Dorothy in Oz Land is the classic modern-day Puella. She is young, fresh, and ready for the journey down the yellow brick road with her little dog Toto. Frank Baum, the author, didn’t stop with the Wizard of Oz. He wrote at least 15 more books about Dorothy’s adventures in that enchanted land in the sky. Interestingly, she never gets older in any of them.
Mercury, the ruler of Gemini, epitomizes the Puer Aeternas, in his Greek version as Hermes, Guide of the Three Worlds. In one tale he is this chubby, angelic looking, clever little guy crawling out of his cradle and off into the forest in search of something mischievous to do. He steals Apollo’s cattle, hides them, and then returns to his wee cradle and slyly pretends to be asleep. Naturally Apollo is highly upset and goes storming to Zeus, Hermes’s father, (yes, Zeus has spawned yet another!). He demands that the thief be apprehended and judged.
Hermes gets called onto the hot seat before the tribunal and glibly responds to all accusations with nothing but clever stories. He’s curious to see what they’ll do, and if he can really get away with it. Apollo spouts fire and Zeus laughs his head off. After all, Apollo is the God of Prophecy and should have seen this one coming. The date for the return of the cattle is set, but while Apollo waits, that wily Hermes steals his bow and arrow. He then designs and creates a beautiful lyre which he trades with Apollo for his bow and arrow. Everybody is happy. End of story.
No wonder the Greeks named Hermes the Patron of Thieves, of Merchants, the Finder of lost objects, and a Liar. Do you want a quick solution? Ask a Hermes type. Hermes is forever young, the perpetual adolescent. People born with Gemini Sun, Moon in Gemini, Gemini Rising, Mercury rising, or at the Midheaven, or near the Sun may show these eternally youthful qualities. Hermes never did live on Olympus. He was always in transit back and forth between the three worlds: Earth, Heaven, and Hades. Yes, only he could go into the realm of Pluto and return unscathed.
John F. Kennedy, the only Gemini USA President, displayed the boyish charm and quick wit of his Sun sign. He was known for his fine intellect and ability to communicate clearly and effectively. He lost his older brother, Joseph, in World War II and assumed his role in fulfilling his father’s ambitions. Known for his various trysts and extra-marital affairs, such instability in relationship often plagues those who live out a sibling’s role without the hard work of introspective analysis. Tragically, he was assassinated and thus left his body early. He is forever remembered as the princely figure of ‘Camelot’, youthful, vibrant, and masculine, a true Gemini.
Marilyn Monroe, that famous Gemini puella, is also forever young in the collective mind. Many other starlets and entertainers, including Madonna, have admired and tried to identify with her, but they will never hold that unique place of youthful vibrancy that Marilyn retains by the sheer fact that death took her, like Kennedy, into that Airy realm of Never Never Land. Marilyn truly had the face of a cherub angel with the body of an Eternal Goddess. Joyce Carol Oates wrote an amazing novel, Blonde, based on her life, which goes as deep as anyone has ever gone into the heart and soul of this Gemini woman who never really got the support to develop her astute and clever mind.
A Real Good Gemini
Robert Mondavi, who recently died peacefully in his sleep at the ripe age of 94 years, illustrates the many attributes of Gemini in a positive way. He has been called a colossus, a Californian legend, and an extraordinary man. Yes, he bounced around a bit, married a few times, had a falling out with his brother for a very long time, lost much of the businesses and fortune he had built due to some short-term thinking and probably over-extending his versatility into too many arenas, and suffered a lot of thieves stealing his great pioneering ideas and creating a lot of competition for him.
But what of it? He lived a long and fruitful life effectively by-passing the curse of the puer, even though he stayed young at heart and jovial to the end. His last wife was the charm, and together they established an enormous charitable organization funding the arts and education, that being more important to them than ever-larger profits. And, believe me, Magrit as his anima, was sweet and unpretentious, still shopping in the small grocery store where we shop for the food she undoubtedly prepared for them. (One day I just had to go up to her and tell her she has a beautiful smile—as good as Marilyn Monroe’s.) A more gracious woman you could never hope to meet. He finally reconciled with his brother, Peter. And he didn’t care if he spawned all those hundreds of competitive wineries. He wanted to put California wines on the map and he loved to travel and talk and share his love and passion with almost literally anyone who would listen. He was foremost a communicator, a messenger of ‘the good life’. (He had Venus in Taurus. :))
One eulogy describes him as ‘at once a sophisticated man and a peasant’. I know his employees loved him and found him approachable, honest, and good-hearted. The real thing. A real good Gemini man. A versatile mortal who is now immortalized in the legacy he has left.
I’ve decided to leave you with this human face of Gemini that expresses the two elements which give humankind its tragedies and ecstasies. Where does Gemini fall in your birthmap?
Footnote: If you have managed to read to the end, I want to let you know that I’m in the Gemini mode of moving. Once settled into my new location, I’ll resume writing on a more regular basis.