Asellus Boreali

Constellation:  Gamma (γ) Cancer
Longitude 1900:  06LEO09 Longitude 2000:  07LEO32
Declination 1900:  +21.50′ Declination 2000:  +21.28′
Right ascension:  08h 43m Latitude:  +03.11′
Spectral class:  A0 Magnitude:  4.7

The history of the star: Asellus Borealis

Asellus borealisGamma (γ) Cancer, Asellus borealis, the Northern Donkey; delta (δ) Asellus australis is the Southern Donkey.

Among the stars of Cancer is a small grouping appearing on the back of the Crab’s shell which includes the Aselli, or Asses, along with Praesaepe (M44) the Beehive or Manger. Popularly this configuration was known as the “Manger”, or “Crib” in which Christ was born (it has been suggested that this is because Cancer was the “Gate of Man”). They were the Greek Onoi, or Asses, of the second-century Greek astronomer Ptolemy and the Greeks; the Aselli, or Asini (Asellus is the singular), of the Latins, and now popularly known as The Donkeys. Other names were “A Resting Place”, “Ending of a stop”, “The Aselline Starlets”.

from p.111 of Star Names, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889.
[A scanned copy can be viewed on this webpage

The Arabians similarly knew them as Al Himarain, the Two Asses. Bailey, in his Mystic of 1858, calls them the Aselline Starlets

The Italian astronomer Riccioli’s (1598–1671) strange title, Elnatret, doubtless was from that of the lunar mansion Al Nathrah, which the Aselli (Delta δ Asellus australis, and this star gamma γ Asellus borealis), and Praesaepe constituted.

In astrology they were portents of violent death to such as came under their influence; while to the weather-wise their dimness was an infallible precursor of rain, on which Pliny (23-79 A.D.) thus enlarges:

“If fog conceals the Asellus to the northeast high winds from the south may be expected, but if the southern star (this star Asellus Australis) is concealed the wind will be from the northeast.”

Our modern Weather Bureau would probably tell us that if one of these stars were thus concealed, the other also would be.

Inconspicuous though it be, the Babylonians used delta (δ Asellus australis) to mark their 13th ecliptic constellation Arku-sha-nangaru-sha-shutu, the Southeast Star in the Crab; and Brown says that the Aselli, with eta (η) and theta (θ) Cancer, and Praesaepe (M44), were the Akkadian Gu-shir-kes-da, the Yoke of the Enclosure. They also marked the junction of the nakshatras (Hindu Moon Mansions) Pushya and Aclesha (Ashlesha).

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


Myth: A Greek myth tells us that these asses were ridden by Bacchus and Vulcan in the war between the Olympians and the Titans. The braying of these animals, aided and added to the gods shouts, frightened a group of fierce giants who were coming to avenge their brothers, the Titans, to such a degree, that they fled the scene of battle. The asses were placed in the heavens flanking the mysterious glow called the Manger or Beehive  – M44 (Praesaepe) to make sure they never lack food. Manilius alludes to these outstretched stars as a Yoke

The Northern Donkey is said to be male and this Southern Donkey female.

The Lunar Mansions

The Arabic manzilAl Nathrah, the Gap in the hair under the muzzle of the supposed immense ancient Lion that the Arabs had here, was chiefly formed by Praesaepe; but later gamma (γ this star Asellus borealis) and delta (δ Asellus Australis); the Aselli, were sometimes included, when it was Al Himarain, the Two Asses, a title adopted from the Greeks. The Arabs also knew it as Al Fum al Asad and as Al Anf al Asad, the Mouth, and the Muzzle, of the Lion, both referring to the early figure. [Star Names, Allen, p.110.

The influences of the 6th Arabic Moon Mansion Al Nathrah: The Gap or Crib. Causes love, friendship and society of fellow travelers, drives away mice, afflicts captives and causes their imprisonment. [Robson, p.71]

With Moon transiting here: navigate. [Robson, p.71]

In this constellation, with some slight variations as to boundaries at different times in Hindu astronomy, — gamma (γ this star Asellus borealis) and delta (δ Asellus Australis) – the Aselli – always being included and occasionally eta, theta, and Praesaepe, — was located the 6th nakshatraPushya, “Flower”, or Tishiya, “Auspicious”, with Brihaspati, the priest and teacher of the gods, as presiding divinity. It was sometimes figured as a “Crescent”, and again as the “head of an Arrow” it was also called Sidhaya, “Prosperous”. [Star Names, Allen, p.110.

The influences of the 6th Hindu Moon Mansion Pushya: Ruled by Saturn. A light asterism belonging to the Kshattriya caste (military and ruling order) and favorable for sales, art, sculpture, learning, marital love, wearing of ornaments, medicine and purchase of carriages when containing the moon. Those born on the lunar day will deal in barley, cereals, crops, will be ministers or rulers and will live by water. With Moon here at birth, native will be popular, self-controlled, learned, wealthy, and charitable. Rules houses and the face or upper lip. [Robson, p.71]

The astrological influences of the constellation Cancer

Legend: This constellation represents the crab that bit the heel of Hercules during his fight with the Lernean Hydra, and was placed amongst the stars in gratitude by Juno, the enemy of Hercules. [Robson, p.33.]

Influences: Ptolemy’s observations are as follows: “The two stars in the eyes of Cancer are of the same influence as Mercury, and are also moderately like Mars. Those in the claws are like Saturn and Mercury.” By the Kabalists Cancer is associated with the Hebrew letter Tzaddi and the 18th Tarot Trump “The Moon.” [Robson, p.33.]

The astrological influences of the constellation Cancer given by Manilius:

“Shining at the hinge of the year by the blazing turning-point which when recalled the Sun rounds in his course on high, the Crab occupies a joint of heaven and bends back the length of day. Of a grasping spirit and unwilling to give itself in service the Crab distributes many kinds of gain, and skill in making profits; he enables a man to carry his investment of foreign merchandise from city to city and, with an eye on steep rises in the price of corn, to risk his money upon sea-winds; to sell the world’s produce to the world, to establish commercial ties between so many unknown lands, to search out under foreign skies fresh sources of gain, and from the high price of his goods to amass sudden wealth. With heaven’s favor he also sells seasons of idleness at rates of interest to his liking, wishing the swift passage of time to add to the principal. His is a shrewd nature, and he is ready to fight for his profits.” [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, book 4, p.235.]

The astrological influences of the star North Asellus and the Aselli donkeys

Legend: The Aselli (Latin for asses or donkeys) represent the asses ridden by Bacchus and Vulcan in the war between the Gods and Titans. The braying of these animals so frightened the latter that they fled, and the Gods in gratitude translated both the asses and their manger (Praesaepe) into heaven. [Robson, p.141.]

Notes: Two straw-colored stars known as the North Asellus (γ, gamma Asellus borealis) and the South Asellus (δ, delta, Asellus Australis) from the Latin asellus, a little ass, situated in the body of the Crab (Cancer).

The general influences of Aselli: According to Ptolemy both the Aselli are of the nature of Mars and the Sun, but Alvidas states that the North Asellus (Asellus Borealis, identified with Balaam’s Ass) is like the Sun and Mars in sextile, and the South Asellus (Asellus Australis, called the Mare Ass, A Resting Place, and the Ending or Stop) like the Sun and Mars in semisquare. Together they give care and responsibility, with a charitable and fostering nature, but danger of violent death, serious accidents and burns. [Robson, p.141.]

General influence of North Asellus: Identified with Balaam’s Ass. It gives patience, beneficence and courage, and makes its natives heroic and defiant leaders. [Robson, p.142.]

The two Asses outflank the “Manger” (Praesaepe). This might be the origin, as seen in nativity pictures of the birth of Christ, of the positioning of a donkey always behind the manger*. The two Asellus correspond to the Sun and Mars, both these fixed stars are therefore to count as a positive influence, if in conjunction with the Ascendant, MC or stellar bodies of the same character, but especially if grouped with the Sun or Mars. These people will have an aggressive nature and will not take insults easily. They may, by their own lack of caution, or by being dare-devils, put their life in danger and they will not hesitate to use brutal and violent means. When the Asellus are with the Ascendant danger by large animals (horses, bulls) may exist. [Fixed Stars and Their Interpretation, Elsbeth Ebertin, 1928, p.47-48.]

*The baby born in a manger might relate to the idea of Cancer being the ‘Gate of Men’, according to Chaldaean and Platonist philosophy, through which souls descended from heaven into human bodies, or into creation. Its opposite sign Capricorn represents the ‘Gate of the Gods’ where souls of the departed ascended back to heaven.

The patient donkey is a lovable creature, but it can be very self-willed and unco-operative indeed, at times of its own choosing. The Aselli (this star and the other donkey Asellus Australis) display all the moodiness of Cancer at its most negative, while in Leo. A conjunction with the Moon, Mercury, Venus or Neptune, well aspected, will often reveal the poet, painter, musician unusually gifted, composer, psychic ‘medium’ or astrologer. In all cases too, there is a patience for which the donkey is respected, a quality necessary for all really reliable psychism. Perhaps when the donkey is being stubborn, he is seeing something in the path which his impatient master cannot, or will not see. [The Living Stars, Dr. Eric Morse].

Aselli rising: Burning fevers, bad eyes, blindness of left eye, injuries by beasts, quarrels, slander from low women or vulgar persons, martial preferment. [Robson, p.142.]

Aselli culminating: Disgrace and ruin, often violent death. [Robson, p.142.]

Aselli with Sun: Blows, stabs (operations nowadays), serious accidents, shooting, shipwreck, beheading, hanging, murderer or murdered, violent fevers, danger of fire, disgrace and imprisonment. [Robson, p.142.]

Asellus Borealis with Sun: Favorable for dealing with the public and influential people, business success. [Robson, p.142.]

Aselli with Moon: Inflammatory fever, pains in the head, blindness. [Robson, p.142.]

Asellus Borealis with Moon: Favorable for material success, honor through public positions, help from friends, favorable for gain, danger of accidents to the head, fevers, inflammatory ailments, and heart weakness. [Robson, p.142.]

According to Vehlow, the Chinese gave this group of stars (the Asses and the manger; the Aselli and Praesaepe) the name “the spirit of the ancestors” and were of the opinion that if conjunct the Moon, they would have peculiar experiences with the realms of the dead. [Fixed Stars and Their Interpretation, Elsbeth Ebertin, 1928, p.44.]

With Mercury: Power and authority after many difficulties, little gain, numerous expenses, losses by writings, mortgages and bonds. [Robson, p.142.]

With Venus: Proud, opinionated, help from an influential friend, favorable for gain. [Robson, p.143.]

With Mars: Courageous, generous, noble, just, power and authority. [Robson, p.143.]

With Jupiter: Great gain and influential position, favors from churchmen and gain through legal and ecclesiastical matters, benefits from foreign affairs. [Robson, p.143.]

With Saturn: Somewhat sell-centred and self-seeking, loss through enemies, high public office, but eventual retirement with public censure. Favorable for gain, unrelenting nature, domestic disharmony caused by antipathy between one of the children and the native or partner. [Robson, p.143.]

With Uranus: Energetic, reformer, blunt in speech and often bitter, fixed ideas, honest, careless or broad in religion, many friends among the public, some of whom abuse confidence, enemies among the higher classes, governmental position, involved in disputes with corporations owing to socialistic interests, favorable for gain and domestic matters, likelihood of unexpected death abroad. [Robson, p.143.]

With Neptune: Proud, haughty, great self-esteem, occult interests, prominent and influential position in a company concerned with stocks and shares or speculation, connected with schools or places of amusement, early difficulties with parents, favorable for gain but danger of loss by fire or theft, favorable for marriage but sometimes one of convenience. With Mars also, accidents and danger of fatal injuries. [Robson, p.143.]


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