Fixed star:  ALCYONE The central star of the Pleiades
Constellation:  Eta (η) Taurus
Longitude 1900:  28TAU48 Longitude 2000:  00GEM00
Declination 1900:  +23.57' Declination 2000:  +24.06'
Right ascension:  03h 47m Latitude:  +04.03'
Spectral class:  B7 Magnitude:  3.0

The history of the star: Alcyone

from p.403 of Star Names, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889.

AlcyonePleiadesEta (η) Taurus, or Fl. 25, Alcyone, "The Central One", is the central or main star and also the largest star of the Pleiades or Seven Sisters, the seven stars that are situated on the shoulder blade of the Bull. Alcyone is often seen as representing the whole group that are all situated within one degree.

Alcyone represents in the sky the Atlantid nymph who became the mother of Hyrieus (the father or foster-father of Orion) by Poseidon; but, though now the Light of the Pleiades, its mythological original was by no means considered the most beautiful. The Italian astronomer Riccioli (1598-1671) wrote the word Alcione and Alcinoe, and some early manuscripts have Altione.

The early Arabs called it Al Jauz, the Walnut; Al Jauzah or Al Wasat, the Central One; and Al Na'ir, the Bright One;—all of Al Thurayya (the Pleiades). The {p.404} later Al Achsasi added to this list Thaur al Thurayya, which, literally the Bull of the Pleiades, i.e. The Leading One, probably was a current title in his day, for his Italian contemporary Riccioli (1598-1671) said, in his Astronomia Reformata, that the lucida (brightest star) "Alcinoe" was Altorich non Athorric. Hipparchos (circa 160-120 B.C.) has been supposed to allude to it in his (Greek) Oxus and Oxutatos, tes Pleiados, the Bright One, and the Brightest One, of the Pleiad. Yet, in the face of these epithets, Ptolemy apparently did not mention it in the Syntaxis; while Baily, in his edition of Hyde's translation of the 15th century Tartar astronomer Ulug Beg's Tables, affixed Flamsteed's 25 and the 17th century German astronomer Bayer's eta (η Alcyone) to the 32nd star of Taurus, which is described as stella externa minuta vergiliarum, quae est ad latus boreale,—our Atlas.

In Babylonia it determined the 4th ecliptic constellation, Temennu, the Foundation Stone.

In India Alcyone was the junction star of the nakshatras Krittika and Rohini, and individually Amba, the Mother; while Hewitt says that in earlier Hindu literature it was Arundhati, wedded to Vashishtha (zeta ζ Ursa Major, Mizar, is identified with Vashishtha), the chief of the Seven Sages, as her sisters were to the six other Rishis of Ursa Major; and that every newly married couple worshiped them on first entering their future home before they worshiped the pole-star (Polaris). He thinks this a symbol of the prehistoric union of the northern and southern tribes of India.

We often see the assertion that our title is in no way connected with (Greek) Alkuon, the Halcyon, that "symbolic or mystical bird, early identified with the Kingfisher," the ornithological Alcedo or Ceryle; so that although the myth of the Halcyon Days, that "clement and temperate time, the nurse of the beautiful Halcyon,"

When birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave, is not yet understood, some of Thompson's conjectures as to its stellar aspect will be found interesting. He writes that

"the story originally referred to some astronomical phenomenon, probably in connection with the Pleiades, of which constellation Alcyone is the principal star. In what appears to have been the most vigorous period of ancient astronomy (not later than 2000 B.C., but continuing long afterwards to influence legend and nomenclature) the sun rose at the vernal equinox, in conjunction with the Pleiad, in the sign Taurus: the Pleiad is in many languages associated with bird-names . . . and I am inclined to take the bird on the bull's back in coins of Eretria, Dicaea, and Thurii for the associated constellation of the Pleiad. . . . Suidas definitely asserts that the Pleiades were called (Greek) Alkuones. At the winter solstice, in the same ancient epoch, the Pleiad culminated at nightfall in mid-heaven. . . . This culmination, between three and four months after the heliacal rising of the Pleiad in Autumn, was, I conjecture, symbolized as the nesting of the Halcyon. Owing to the antiquity and corruption of the legend, it is impossible to hazard more than a conjecture; but that the phenomenon was in some form an astronomic one I have no doubt."

[Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889].

The Lunar Mansions

The Pleiades marked the 1st Arabic manzil Al Thurayya, The Many Little Ones.

Influences of the 1st Arabic Moon Mansion Al Thurayya: Profitable to sailors, huntsmen and alchemists.

With Moon transiting here: plant and sow but do not marry or travel by water. [Robson*, p.70.]


In India Alcyone, eta (η Taurus), was the junction star of the nakshatras Krittika and Rohini (1st and second), with Alcyone being part of Krittika, The General of the Celestial Armies. Symbol, a Flame or Razor. Regent, Agni, god of fire. Ruled by the Sun.

Influences of the 1st Hindu Moon Mansion Krittika: A soft and sharp mansion or asterism belonging to the Brahmin caste and producing mixed effects. Those born on the lunar day will delight in white flowers, perform sacrifice, and will be magicians, metaphysicians, diggers, barbers, potters, priests or astronomers. With the Moon here at birth the native will be a glutton, adulterous, handsome and famous. Rules forests and the head. [Robson*, p.76.]

Etymology

Abundant crops and green pastures were attributed to these "Rainy Stars". They were also connected with traditions of the Flood found among widely separated nations. The word Pleiades is derived from the Indo-European word pel[e]-¹, "to fill", with derivatives: fill, supply, plenty, accomplish, plethora, complete, plus, plural, replenish, implement, compliment, supplement, police, politics, policy, public, publish, publicity, palm, feeling, folks. (Pokorny 1. pel- 798.)

"Pleiades" is also related to the Greek verb plein "to sail". These were the German Schiffahrts Gestirn, the "Sailors' Stars". The word Pleiades also derives from the sister's mythological mother, Pleione, a star that is close to this group. This star, Alcyone, was exactly 0Gemini00 in the year 2000.

The astrological influences of the constellation Taurus

Legend: Jupiter, assuming the form of a bull, mingled with the herd when Europa, with whom he was infatuated, and her maidens disported themselves on the sea-shore. Encouraged by the tameness of the bull Europa mounted it, whereupon the God rushed into the sea and bore her away to Crete. According to other accounts Taurus represents Io whom Jupiter turned into a cow in order to deceive his wife Juno. [Robson*, p.62-63.]

Influences: Ptolemy makes the following observations: "Those stars in Taurus which are in the abscission of the sign resemble in their temperament the influence of Venus, and in some degree that of Saturn . . . the stars in the head (except Aldebaran) resemble Saturn, and, partly, Mercury; and those at the top of the horns are like Mars." By the Kabalists Taurus is associated with the Hebrew letter Aleph and the 1st Tarot Trump "The Juggler." In all the ancient Zodiacs, Taurus is the beginning sign and marked the Vernal Equinox from about 4,000 to 1,700 B.C. [Robson*, p.63.]

The astrological influences of the constellation Taurus given by Manilius:

"The Bull will dower the countryside with honest farmers and will come as a source of toil into their peaceful lives; it will bestow, not gifts of glory, but the fruits of the earth. It bows its neck amid the stars and of itself demands a yoke for its shoulders. When it carries the sun's orb on its horns, it bids battle with the soil begin and rouses the fallow land to its former cultivation, itself leading the work, for it neither pauses in the furrows nor relaxes its breast in the dust. The sign of the Bull has produced a Serranus and a Curius, has carried the rods of office through the fields, and has left its plough to become a dictator [eque suo dictator venit aratro]. Its sons have the love of unsung excellence: their hearts and bodies derive strength from a massiveness that is slow to move, whilst in their faces dwells the boy-god Love (Cupido)." [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, book 4, p.233].

The astrological influences of the Pleiades given by Manilius:

"The Pleiades, sisters who vie with each other's radiance. Beneath their influence devotees of Bacchus (god of wine and ecstasy) and Venus (goddess of love) are born into the kindly light, and people whose insouciance runs free at feasts and banquets and who strive to provoke sweet mirth with biting wit. They will always take pains over personal adornment and an elegant appearance they will set their locks in waves of curls or confine their tresses with bands, building them into a thick topknot, and they will transform the appearance of the head by adding hair to it; they will smooth their hairy limbs with the porous pumice, loathing their manhood and craving for sleekness of arm. They adopt feminine dress, footwear donned not for wear but for show, and an affected effeminate gait. They are ashamed of their sex; in their hearts dwells a senseless passion for display, and they boast of their malady, which they call a virtue. To give their love is never enough, they will also want their love to be seen".  [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, book 5, p.310-313].

The astrological influences of the Pleiades

According to Ptolemy they are of the nature of the Moon and Mars; and, to Alvidas, of Mars, Moon and Sun in opposition. They are said to make their natives wanton, ambitious, turbulent, optimistic and peaceful; to give many journeys and voyages, success in agriculture and through active intelligence; and to cause blindness, disgrace and a violent death. Their influence is distinctly evil and there is no astrological warrant for the oft-quoted passage Job (xxxviii. 31) "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades…?" which is probably a mistranslation. [Robson*, p.182.]

A note about the above: It has been said that many of the negative interpretations given by astrologers in the past to the Pleiades and other stars with feminine qualities was caused by prejudice against men with a homosexual leaning. Words like "evil influence", as in the above case, is likely to relate to homosexuality in men, an unmentionable word in Robson's days. Other substitutions were: "not a good omen with regard to relationships to the opposite sex", "disgrace", "immoral", "evil disposition". Homosexuality (in men) is only one of the many likely influences of the Pleiades depending on the position in the chart. I think these influences would be likely if the Pleiades were conjunct a 5th house Venus or the 5th house ruler. I personally know two men with Venus conjunct the Pleiades that are not effected in this way.

The astrological influences of the star Alcyone and the Pleiades

Alcyone causes love, eminence, blindness from fevers, small pox, and accidents to the face. [Robson*, p.119.]

The Pleiades gives ambition and endeavor, which gives preferment, honor and glory. Not a good omen with regard to relationships to the opposite sex. [Fixed Stars and Their Interpretation, Elsbeth Ebertin, 1928, p.26.]

The Pleiades causes bereavement, mourning, sorrows and tragedies. [The Living Stars, Dr. Eric Morse, p.39.]

Pleiades Rising: Blindness, ophthalmia injuries to the eyes and face, disgrace, wounds, stabs (operations nowadays), exile, imprisonment, sickness, violent fevers, quarrels, violent lust, military preferment. If at the same time the Sun is in opposition either to the Ascendant or to Mars, violent death. [Robson*, p.182].

The rising Pleiades are indicative of those who are homosexual, like to be flattered, and (with a poorly positioned Mercury) impudent in speech. When setting this group of stars can have just the opposite nature. If aspected by benefics (when setting) the indications are of a pleasant death and if aspected by both malefics and benefics the native is said to be fond of arts and perhaps even become a painter who will acquire great honors in his lifetime. As an example of the fortunate nature of the Pleiades, Josephus, the great Jewish historian (37-100 A.D.) wrote that during the investment of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes in 170 B.C. the besieged suffered from a severe lack of water but the city was finally relieved "by a large shower of rain which fell at the setting of the Pleiades". [Fixed Stars and Judicial Astrology, George Noonan, 1990, p.28.]

Pleiades culminating: Disgrace, ruin, violent death. If with the luminaries it makes its natives military captains, commanders, colonels of horse and emperors. [Robson*, p183.]

Pleiades with Sun: Throat ailments, chronic catarrh, blindness, bad eyes, injuries to the face, sickness, disgrace, evil disposition (used to be a term in astrology for homosexuality), murderer or murdered, imprisonment, death by pestilence, blows, stabs, shooting, beheading or shipwreck. If in 7th house, blindness, especially if Saturn or Mars be with Regulus. If with Mars and Venus the native will be a potent king obeyed by many people but subject to many infirmities. [Robson*, p183.]

Pleiades with Moon: Injuries to the face, sickness, misfortune, wounds, stabs, disgrace, imprisonment, blindness, defective sight especially if in the Ascendant or one of the other angles, may be cross-eyed, color-blind, or the eyes may be affected by some growth. If in the 7th house, total blindness especially if Saturn or Mars be with Regulus and the Moon be combust. [Robson*, p183.]

Pleiades with Mercury: Many disappointments, loss of possessions, much loss from legal affairs, business failure, trouble through children. [Robson*, p183.]

Pleiades with Venus: Immoral, strong passions, disgrace through women, sickness, loss of fortune. [Robson*].

Pleiades with Mars: Many accidents to the head, loss and suffering through fires. If at the same time Saturn is with Regulus, violent death in a tumult. [Robson*, p183.]

Pleiades with Jupiter: Deceit, hypocrisy, legal and ecclesiastical troubles, loss through relatives, banishment or imprisonment. [Robson*, p183.]

Pleiades with Saturn: Cautious, much sickness, tumorous ailments, chronic sickness to family many loses. [Robson*, p184.]

Pleiades with Uranus: Active mind, deformity from birth or through accident in childhood, many accidents and troubles, many unexpected losses often through fire or enemies, marriage partner proves false especially if female, troubles through women, occult interests, unfavorable for children, if any, and lack of harmony with them, heavy losses at end of life, violent death. [Robson*, p184.]

Pleiades with Neptune: Bold, military preferment, honor, wealth, help from friends, many serious accidents, many travels, somewhat dishonorable occupation involving secrecy, ill-health to marriage partner and peculiar conditions respecting parentage, bad for children, may lose everything at end of life, violent death, often abroad while following occupation. [Robson*, p184.]

References:

*[Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Vivian E. Robson, 1923].