Ophiuchus is the Serpent holder or the snake charmer. The snake part is a constellation in it own right called Serpens. Another name for this constellation is Serpentarius, which I think is a far more evocative and pleasant sounding name, apart from it being easier to spell! The myth surrounding this constellation is that of Aesculapius, a medicine man, so gifted that he was able to perform the miraculous feat of bringing the dead back to life.
Zeus was so enraged by this mere physician playing god that he destroyed him with a thunderbolt. Apparently however, it was Hades that provoked Zeus’s wrath, complaining that fewer souls were being sent down to the underworld as a result of Aesculapius’s talents. The centaur Chiron raised Aesculapius as his own son. His mother is said to be Corvus the crow, which is interesting as the Corvus constellation hasn’t got a great reputation either.
It is suggested Aesculapius as its other derivative Asklepios, came from words meaning “applying” and “making limbs gentle”. It is also associated with the words hermit, gentle, kind, calm and soothing. Medicine comes from the same root as Medusa, the name of the sorceress Medea also comes from this root. The blood from Medusa’s left side was poisonous and the right side was used to heal. You could say that Aesculapius used this blood as medicine.
The coiled up snake can also be seen as the Kundalini, the word itself in Sanskrit means “coiled up”. The igniting and harnessing of this life force is the aim of witch doctors and shamans. This will be done through the use of drumming, trance and hallucinogens. This takes us back to this constellation being known as the snake charmer. The snake is hypnotised by playing a musical instrument, the ancient version of trance music.
Ophiuchus ~ The 13th Sign?
Is Ophiuchus the missing 13th sign? Absolutely not! The tropical zodiac is based on the 12 months and the seasons, so it is a solar calendar. To have a 13th sign would mess up the whole system. However Ophiuchus does fall very close to the ecliptic and the symbolism of this sign being left out of the zodiac does fit into the meaning of the constellation as a whole. Ophiuchus is a sign in exile, an outsider and just wasn’t accepted into the gang of twelve.
Ophiuchus also corresponds to the archetype of the 13th fairy in the fairytale, the Sleeping Beauty. This fairy was called Eris, which is also another Lilith/dark goddess archetype. Eris just like the Roman myth was not invited to royal party, in this case the christening of the new princess. As you can see from the interpretations of this constellation, there is definitely a supernatural, otherworldly and shamanic quality to Ophiuchus. If you really want to claim this wanton witch or wizard as your Sunsign, then its position by degrees simply mirrors that of Sagittarius. Ophiuchus falls between 1º to 29º Sagittarius, so this is birthdays from November 22 to December 21.