On the evening of July 8, observers from Earth will be able to watch as an asteroid occults a star, blocking its light for several minutes. An occultation is a bit like an eclipse since the object that is hidden becomes invisible for a period of time.
In this case the asteroid is called “Roma,” and the star to be occulted is Delta in the constellation of Ophiuchus, the so-called “thirteenth constellation.” the role of Ophiuchis in the 360 degree zodiacal belt is a topic for another story, but another of its Latin names is “Serpentarius,” meaning “snake holder.”
The use of the snake as a symbol for wisdom and knowledge goes back to the ancient Hindus, and even in the Bible the serpent enticed Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, for which she was severely punished. Some conspiracy theorists believe that an ancient serpent race became the first priestly class in cultures like ancient Egypt, and the Druids are said to have called themselves Naddreds which means “serpent priest.”
The symbolism of the tiny asteroid Roma occulting a star in the constellation of the serpent could be quite interesting. It was the early Roman church that distorted the story of Eve and the serpent, and which strove for over 1,000 years to stamp out any knowledge among the common people.
The occultation will be visible in a narrow band crossing central Europe, Spain and the Canary Islands. Belgium falls right in this line, and last week police in Brussels raided the local archdiocese of the Catholic Church, including the archbishop’s residence, in search of documents in a sexual abuse investigation. That seems an interesting coincidence in light of the astronomical event involving Roma and the serpent of knowledge!
Update: Mikah in the comments writes “Delta Ophiuchi is the star Yed Prior (the former of the stars in the hand of the Snake Bearer) and according to Vivian Robson’s “Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology” Yed Prior is “Of the nature of Saturn and Venus. It causes immorality, shamelessness and revolution”!
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