Acumen and Aculeus: The Weapon, Wound and Armour

To speak of the Stinger Stars is to speak of poison and paranoia. It is a battle-dance, a song of two lances clashing— a warzone of words-as-weapons, an act of frenzy that leaves one unable to differentiate between the enemy and the Self. In this post — inspired largely by The Red Dreaded Spindle: An Astrolater’s Guide to the Stinger Stars of Scorpius, a pamphlet published by Sasha Ravitch via Hadean Press — I would like to discuss the fixed stars Acumen and Aculeus, two of the four stars placed in stinger of the the constellation of Scorpius.

Acumen and Aculeus are two stars within my chart: Acumen is my helicacal rising star and a star in conjunction with my natal Mercury, and Aculeus is placed in a rising paran with my Mercury. William Lilly described a planet besieged as being one that lies between the bodies of the two malefics. Obviously, the concept of astrological besiegement refers to planetary bodies rather than fixed stars. But, I do find it fascinating how my Mercury is essentially forced into a corner, with Acumen to its left and Aculeus to its right. In a way, my natal Mercury appears to be caught in a warzone, caught in the webs of two scorpion-spiders, of two venomous stars threatening to spear or to sting anything that dares to come near it.

War and Scorpio walks hand-in-hand. To quote Austin Coppock: ‘there aren’t many other animals in the zodiac or in nature that are quite as equipped for battle as a scorpion […] scorpion’s encased in armor; it’s got little controllers. Literally, its tail is solely a weapon.’ This may perhaps be why the most basic nature of the Stinger Stars, as befit a weapon, is to wound. Bernadette Brady has also stated that ‘in keeping with the nature of the constellation, Aculeus and Acumen tend to be linked to attacks, not necessarily physical, but mental, verbal, or spiritual. Acumen carries the negative or shadowy side, so it has to do with attacks that weaken, that can eventually damage the person […] Aculeus leans toward the less destructive style of attack, the sort the individual can endure and use to harden or strengthen themselves.’

My own experience, I found this to be incredibly true. Since my youth, I have been forced to endure a barrage of insults by close family members regarding my appearance, my intelligence, my worthiness as a woman and other cruel words that would fall under the umbrella of verbal abuse. I wouldn’t say, however, that trauma made me stronger. Trauma, like poison, is simply just is. The scorpion didn’t mean to be malicious when it stung the frog— it simply is just acting out its nature. In an astrological reading with Sasha Ravitch, my Acumen heliacal rising is described to have brought me ‘meaningless pain and difficulty’. It was my own will that allowed me to grow beyond my childhood. I didn’t become who I am today because of the pain and the trauma; I survived in spite of it. I was the one who transmuted anguish into strength and wisdom.

This, ultimately, is the armor that the scorpion provides.

The wound scars over and becomes the armor. The poison in turn becomes the cure.

On that note of poison having the potential to cure, I wish to share this excerpt from The Red Dreaded Spindle:

‘These alchemists, while holding their own fear-based assumptions about Scorpio, valued the Stars within the system, and especially the Sun’s transit through them, as it marked the only time iron could be transmuted into gold. There is no capacity to cultivate anti-venom without the venom it counteracts, and the logic behind our contemporary vaccines follows a similar route of reasoning. Deliberate, intentional, purposeful exposure to poison strengthens us, cultivates immunity, empowers our body to respond in knowledgeable and competent ways. Magically, the overcoming of a curse, the triumphing over an ordeal, the survival of an initiation, transmutes these eviscerating phenomena into gilded bellows which feed the Witch’s fire. The poison is the medicine, the curse is also the cure.’

In other words, the Stinger Stars provide an opportunity for self-inoculation. We will come back to this later.

Moving onto the topic of blindness, the stars Acumen and Aculeus are considered to be associated with eyesight and the loss of vision. To be blind, in essence, is akin to being paranoid. When you are paranoid, you are like a blind person randomly swinging a sword or someone shooting a gun in the dark. You lash out, not seeing what you are hurting or even fighting. In the end, there is a risk that you may end up hurting yourself. In a similar vein, I believe that the armor created by the scarring of the wound or the callusing of the bruise can also cause one to become cold or even cruel if they are not careful. There is a thin line between wearing a healthy amount of armor for safety’s sake, and building walls around yourself in fear of potential attackers. An obsession with pains of the past may also lead to a form of self-victimization, and pain projected outward may lead to a person seeing every stranger as a potential enemy.

Is a life clad in armor, hidden away in a walled tower, a life worth living at all?

Is a life living in fear of intimacy (and the vulnerability that comes with it) a life worth living at all?

And yet, I believe that there is a potential for Stinger Stars natives to swing the opposite direction. In undergoing  a kind of overcorrection, natives may end up romanticizing or glamourising their wounds. A self-inflicted martyrdom. An identification of the self with their sufferings. This is where the overdose occurs, where the poison fails to become the antidote. In a sense, the romanticization of trauma may be a way of putting a glamor over the hurt, choosing instead to see the plaster rather than the ugly, infected cut that still oozes blood and pus. It is a denial of the truth, the unwillingness to look into the mirror and see the wound for what it is: something that ideally needs to be healed. To quote Alice Sparkly Kat: ‘vulnerability demands that you know yourself’. What is needed to transmute hurt into healing is the ability to ‘know your pain without becoming [the] pain’.

To quote Sasha Ravitch once more: ‘so, too, does the path of Witchcraft bred and bled from these Stars test us around self-restraint, deliberate release, the necessity for radical self-honesty and accountability for the poltergeists of our own shame and humiliation’.

On the topic of witchcraft and the occult, there is also a rite in the Greek Magical Papyri that speaks of the scorpion being both the poison and the provider of the cure. In PDM XIV. 594-620, the spell — written from Anubis’ perspective — tells of Isis (who in the rite is Anubis’ mother) visiting Anubis in his exile and then asking him to return to his home where the gods will be receiving crowns from Osiris (who is Anubis’ father). Suddenly, after giving Anubis this information, Isis ‘gave [Anubis] a sting’. Then, after Anubis weeps from the sting, Isis comforts him and begins to tell Anubis of how he must lick the wound and swallow the venom. The ritual informs the reader to lick the sting, and gives a consecration to speak to an oil in order for the oil to be ‘put on the sting daily’. Those who have taken Jack Grayle’s PGM PRAXIS: 50 Rites for 50 Nights course may have also heard Grayle’s interpretation of the rite. 

Grayle believes that the rite is a metaphor for how Anubis must accept the reality of who he is: ‘an embodiment of the most primal divine power in creation: the self-generated force that eternally begets everything and everyone in the cosmos’. Only after accepting the truth would Anubis be fit to receive the crown — the proof of his right to rule — from Osiris. This rite strikes me to be remarkably to the teachings (or tests) granted by the Stinger Stars: the act of consuming venom whilst knowing that you must survive it, and the implied test of ‘radical self-honesty’, of realizing who you are and the accepting the duty that comes with who you could be. I consecrated an adapted version of the oil but have not tried to work with it yet. In theory though, the oil should be a vehicle for healing, both the healing of the physical self and the spiritual self.

In conclusion, it is my interpretation that Acumen and Aculeus could be both metaphorically described as the weapon, the wound and the armor. With the weapon comes the wound and the armour, and with the poison comes the cure. Likewise, I wholeheartedly recommend Sasha Ravitch’s The Red Dreaded Spindle: An Astrolater’s Guide to the Stinger Stars of Scorpius for those interested in learning more about these stars, in addition to other stars not mentioned in this article such as Antares, Lesath and Shaula.


[Sorry— too tired to do proper academic referencing haha]

  1. The Red Dreaded Spindle: An Astrolater’s Guide to the Stinger Stars of Scorpius by Sasha Ravitch
  2. Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars by Bernadette Brady
  3. Greek Magical Papyri in Translation by Hans Dieter Betz

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Ivy Senna

occultist, animist and astrolater.

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