Moon in Scorpio and the Myth of Mithridatum

Mithridates VI; Royal Toxicologist

Have you ever heard of Mithridatum? Probably you have not, but it is important to at least one in twelve of all human lives, because they ingest Mithridatum each day, and by it they thrive.

The mighty empire of Rome was under almost continual attack throughout its great history, usually at the barbarian frontiers, far from the Aventine, far from the Forum Romanum and the sacred Dionysian groves beneath the seven hills; in some benighted Northern heath, or desolate Mesopotamian dust-bowl, and usually, those seething discontented tribesmen and goat-herds were like the annoying buzz of a mosquito at the lion’s ear, but once in a while an enemy of Rome surfaced that turned out to be formidable.

We all know of Hannibal, and the Punic Wars perhaps, but what of Mithridates? He was the King of Pontus, a region of what is now Northern Turkey on the shore of the Black Sea, and he fought Rome in three separate campaigns, taking on the Mighty Sulla and Pompey the Great, the latter of whom brought about his downfall in 63BC. Rather than face capture, he attempted suicide by taking poison, which failed, and at the last his friend Bituitus ran him through with his own sword.

Accounts after the fact tell of how Mithridates took a large quantity of poison and “stamped about” in order to try and have it take effect, but he did not seem remotely fazed. The truth though is that Mithridates was obsessed with poisons, he feared that an assassin might take his life by poison and so he spent many years experimenting on his prisoners by feeding them poisons and then trying to cure them with herbal antidotes. The end result of these protracted labours was that he eventually created a panacea for all poison, a silver-bullet cure that he took every day of his life, an “almond-sized” pellet of this mystical substance that became known as Mithridatum, so that he might never be unwittingly poisoned by his enemies.

The Greeks were intrigued by Mithridates great cure and they created their own that was said to even be effective against viper-venom and they called theirs Theriac, from which the English word treacle is derived. But this article has nothing to do with treacle. Marcus Aurelius (as played by the late Richard Harris in the Ridley Scott movie Gladiator) was said to have ingested theriac every day of his life also.

There are two more legends concerning Mithridates that are pertinent to this article, firstly, it was related that he had a prodigious memory and could speak all 22 languages of his kingdom fluently and secondly, it is told that he spent seven years of his boyhood living alone in the wilderness following the assassination of his father Mithridates V – by his attendants and members of his own family.

Any scholar of the classics will already suspect the truth, these archetypal stories from antiquity reverberate in the subconscious because they reflect key truths that we relate to at a primal level, and the story of Mithridatum, of Mithridates himself, is a story of Scorpio Moon in its distilled and undiluted form. Think on it! An ancient warrior-king that even royal Rome struggled to suppress, a hero resistant to poison, who could not be killed by any normal means, who had a powerful memory and who was forced into a protracted period of intense self-sufficiency in his earliest years; Mithridates is the mythic keystone of the Moon in Scorpio placement!

Getting away from this profound talk, what is Scorpio Moon? The Moon talks about the mother archetype, it is the lunar principle, the nurturing feminine, but it is not so easy, in the midst of Solar society to grasp its import, it is instinctive, it is how we have learned to sustain ourselves; if our Moon then is in Leo, we require some drama in our life, and we like to have a little praise; and because we learn our most sublimated behaviours at mother’s knee, there is no question that mother was proud of us, she was warm, affectionate, something of a dramatist in the drawing room; we learned then how to nurture ourselves in a Leonine way, because that was how mother made us feel safe and loved when we were small.

So what of Scorpio? Moon in the sign of the venomous Scorpion is an entirely different affair. Where Moon in Virgo is precise and fussy but essentially nutritive and therefore practically sustaining, Moon in Scorpio actually has a less-is-more philosophy of motherhood. Scorpio withholds, it withdraws, hides away under a rock, Moon in Scorpio is instinctive and protective, but deadly and seriously dangerous too, if that little blighter stings you, then you’re in serious trouble.

This speaks very much of the evolution of Scorpio consciousness, because undeveloped, it is a self-destructive energy. Scorpio Moon is the emotional Spartan who learned that mother was probably just a little dangerous, that you had better leave her alone in case she stung you and so, taking all these archetypal lessons on board, Scorpio Moon ingested a little of mother’s poison every day, until, like the secret of Mithridatum, they became immune to her lethality.

Moon in Scorpio is in its fall, because the lunar principle is all about nurturance, but the Scorpion does not know how to nurture, it is ruthless and careless of life – even its own – and so it will soldier on in the face of the most incredible hardship, wandering the emotional wilderness for years, learning self-discipline and self-control by reasoning that: “if I need less, then I can cope better.” For Mithridates, who spent 7 years (or a Saturn quarter-cycle) wandering the wilderness as a child, this is a fundamental experience of the Moon found in the 8th sign. Then too, there is his remarkable memory, and this is one true gift of the Zodiac’s most tenacious (excepting Cancer) placements, Moon in Scorpio gives a profound power of recall, an ability to retain information.

But most of all, Scorpio on the Moon is tough. Tough emotionally for sure, but the native is able to endure all manner of austerities and hardships, they can survive, if not happily, then reasonably unscathed in the harshest of environments, and as a result they learn to be self-sufficient, usually because they have no choice. Most of those born with Moon in the Scorpion sign experienced some measure of parentally enforced deprivation as a child. One person I know always had to make do with the cheapest shoes, which he would wear until his feet hurt, and such was his parent’s reluctance to ‘waste money’ on his feet, he arranged to have his shoes “stolen” after football practise. Another person was sent away to boarding school and while other children’s parents would collect their laundry and return it sometime later, washed and ironed, this unfortunate had to manage on his own, doing his laundry in the school bathroom and ironing all his own clothes at age 11. These are the kinds of tales that are commonplace for those born with this difficult placement. Yet another young man was the son of a prostitute, who frequently had to make do with whatever food he could find for himself in the kitchen while his mother was out working, or sometimes, he lamented, while she was upstairs working; and here the sexual themes of Scorpio associated with the maternal principle are found.

So is there hope? Yes, there is always hope. Scorpio Moon, like Mithridates is mostly immune to poison, so they can be very good at being unriled by insults (with practise) and they rarely resort to comfort-eating; actually if anything, the Scorpio Moon, in a direct contradiction of Taurus Moon, actually resorts to comfort not eating, or comfort starving when they are feeling depressed. Contrary to popular opinion, Scorpio Moon is profoundly compassionate, once the evolvement is complete and the higher sense is activated; and of course, loyalty – even unto death – is one of the most remarkable features of this placement, if you are looking for a kinsman to stand shoulder to shoulder with you before the rush at Thermopylae, then consult your ephemeris. Discard all those witty Moon in Gemini types, forget showy Leo and flip-flopping Libra or wishy-washy Pisces; Moon in Scorpio will be there, until the very last gasp.

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2 comments on “Moon in Scorpio and the Myth of Mithridatum

  1. Elysienne says:

    Perfect. Nice to learn of Mithridates.

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