The Archetype of Scorpio

by Jef Bartow

Scorpio represents a very pivotal place within life's journey and the astrological mandala of signs. It's intimate association with the eighth house of death and regeneration is not by coincidence. Scorpio's connection with the underworld (unconscious, instinctual nature) provides a fertile field for dramatic transmutation and transformation. Therefore, it's not surprising to see both the depths and heights of life that become associated with Scorpio.

Mythology is a good place to start in understanding the dichotomies or paradoxes of Scorpio. Most associated with Scorpio is the God Pluto (Hades). Pluto means "the rich one" or "the giver of wealth" which "harkens back to his earliest role as a chthonic deity." The work of chthonic means dark, primitive and mysterious. Interestingly, Hades means "the unseen." He was "placed in charge of the underworld and the spirits of the dead by Zeus." In order to fully perceive the underworld, he was given a helmet of darkness which permitted him to see at night. "Because of his responsibilities, he was never allowed to sit among the ruling Olympians."

The goddess Persephone (Core) is also associated with the underworld. Abducted and raped by Hades, she became his wife and was ultimately rescued to the point that she spent part of her time each year in the underworld and part on the surface among mortals and immortals. Only Hermes was easily able to travel among both regions.

Perseus is also associated with Scorpio. This important mythological figure demonstrates some of the powers of Scorpio. As a symbol of the "indwelling Self, begotten of the Spirit and born of the purified emotional-nature," Perseus was able to decapitate the Gorgon Medusa. He was aided by both Athene and Hermes, using a magic wallet, a pair of winged sandals and "Hade’s helmet of invincibility" in the process.
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It becomes fitting that a keynote for Scorpio is test, trial and triumph. A key subtle test is that of pride, ambition and the will to control. Three powerful tests center around appetite, desire and lower critical mind.

Representing half sexuality and half spirituality, Scorpio’s trials center around transforming one's desire nature, and conquering one's fears and doubts. We must face the depths in Scorpio in order to scale the heights attainable. The key to triumph is reorientation, psychological transformation, regeneration and death of the old so something new can be born.

Personality Conditioning

Scorpio combines the fixed quality with the water element. Therefore, it helps instill in us a dramatic intensity, focused direction of purpose, ability to penetrate to the deeper significance of life, a great inner strength, great endurance which can be integrated by the simple term: "determined feelings." From Scorpio’s fixity comes undeterred in orientation, permanent vision of a goal, relentless pursuit of desires, passionate stubbornness with a strong will, fortitude and persevering resourcefulness. From the depths of water ("a boiling ocean"), Scorpio instills in us intense emotional needs, a deep mysterious secretive nature, passion and jealousy, great recuperative powers and an earnestness in which nothing is frivolous.

Positive ways in which Scorpio helps us obtain our goals and aspirations is through its ruthlessness in achieving its ends; clinging tenaciously to things of value; an ambitious efficient courageously resourcefulness; ability for determined effort with intense concentration; and the capability for extreme self-sacrifice. Other ways in which Scorpio influences us is through its in strong intuitive nature, reasoning powers, thoroughness, industriousness and latent procreative powers.
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Positive ways in which Scorpio helps us obtain our goals and aspirations is through its ruthlessness in achieving its ends; clinging tenaciously to things of value; an ambitious efficient courageously resourcefulness; ability for determined effort with intense concentration; and the capability for extreme self-sacrifice. Other ways in which Scorpio influences us is through its in strong intuitive nature, reasoning powers, thoroughness, industriousness and latent procreative powers.

The instinctual nature and expression of Scorpio becomes as powerful as its positive focus. Characteristics include being uncommunicative, cunning, possessive, suspicious and manipulative with a strong to often brutal sexual nature. Expressing the depths of the underworld, we can become violent, sarcastic, vindictive, cynical and devious. All in all, Scorpio includes the polls of both saint and sinner.

More often, Scorpio can be seen as reserved and inscrutable, in outer control of feelings, affectionate and demonstrative, self-sufficient, magnetic and retentive. We can also use Scorpio to create lofty aspirations; expire to "experiences of love which brings redemption;" to rebuild existing entities into more refined and exalted states; to reconstruct ourselves no matter how low we fall; to become the builder of civilization.

Individuating the Self: the Search for Transformation

Some of the characteristics and key phrases already provided describing Scorpio are crucial in helping us to individuate our spiritual Self. A key metaphor for Scorpio is that represents instinctually the scorpion, the Eagle while spiritualizing and the Phoenix as a spiritualized being. As the Eagle, we create objectivity and patience through transforming our attachments and desires. We become a victorious disciple by sacrificing the lower for the higher and liberating ourselves from the narrow limits of the personal self.

By ending our old life through the death of our longings, desires, ambitions and pride, we reorient ourselves to a struggle for immortality and spiritual aspiration in order to find and express our inner brilliance. By confronting the reptilian face of instinctual life and confronting our dragon within, we become a natural healer and Mystic wielding a powerful will for transformation. We do this until we achieve enlightenment and a true sense of immortality.


Follow the Sun
Living a Spiritual Life: Triumph

In helping me to face the Scorpio nature within me, my mentor lovingly said to me: "the badder you were, the better you be." With a powerful Scorpio ascendant, I innately embody many of the Scorpio characteristics. Living a spiritual life with Scorpio as a prominent part of my spiritual nature, I have become "responsive and sensitive to the will to good" by embracing a "tenacity of soul purpose."

With diligent effort, perseverance and undeterred commitment, I have achieved what is termed as "selfless desires" and the "selfless attitude of the disciple." Almost paradoxically, this does not mean that I do not have a sense of self-orientation. The best way to put it is that our sense of self becomes almost entirely focused on serving the needs of others, including humanity as a whole.


The Phoenix symbolically represents passion, zeal and humility in birthing a new life at a new level through the "burning of all limitations into the fire." As a "precise instrument of pure feeling and sympathy," the Phoenix embodies "love winning out over adversity, harmony arising out of unavoidable conflict." In surviving Scorpio's resurrection to a place of immortality, life's triumph brings us the fate we were born to accomplish. We become the Phoenix, which is our triumph.