Ophiuchus Constellation Meaning

Constellation Ophiuchus Astrology

Constellation Ophiuchus [Stellarium]

Constellation Ophiuchus Astrology

Constellation Ophiuchus the Serpent Holder, is a northern constellation sitting above constellation Scorpio, grapling with the Serpent, constellation Serpens. Ophiuchus spans 30 degrees of the Zodiac in the Signs of Sagittarius, and and contains 8 named stars.

Constellation Ophiuchus Stars

2000BStar NameMag.Orb
02 ♐ 17δ OphYed Prior2.731°50′
03 ♐ 30ε OphYed Posterior3.231°30′
05 ♐ 35λ OphMarfik3.821°10′
06 ♐ 32υ OphShe Low4.621°00′
09 ♐ 13ζ OphHan2.541°50′
11 ♐ 48κ Oph3.491°20′
17 ♐ 57η OphSabik2.432°00′
20 ♐ 53ξ OphAggia4.391°00′
21 ♐ 23θ OphGarafsa3.271°30′
22 ♐ 26α OphRasalhague2.082°10′
25 ♐ 19β OphCebalrai2.761°40′
26 ♐ 37γ OphMuliphen3.751°10′
29 ♐ 44ν OphSinistra3.321°30′
02 ♑ 0872 Oph3.711°10′

According to Ptolemy is like Saturn and moderately like Venus (slovenly, very immoral, shameless, revolting, mean, sorrows in love. If rising, good-tempered, healthy, gain by industry and marriage. If culminating, improved health, fame by help of superiors.) It is said to give a passionate, blindly good-hearted, wasteful and easily seduced nature, together with little happiness, unseen dangers, enmity, strife and slander. Pliny said that it occasioned much mortality by poisoning. This constellation has also been called Aesculapius and held to rule medicines. By the Kabalists, it is associated with the Hebrew letter Oin and the 16th Tarot Trump “The Lightning-Struck Tower”. [1]

Ophiuchus vel Serpentarius, the Serpent-Holder stretches from just east of the head of Hercules to Scorpius; partly in the Milky Way, divided nearly equally by the celestial equator; but, although always shown with the Serpent (Serpens), the catalogs have its stars entirely distinct from the latter. The original title, Ophioukhos, appeared in the earliest Greek astronomy; mogeros, “toiling,” being an adjectival appellation in the Phainomena.

Cicero and Manilius had the peculiar Anguitenens. Golius insisted that this sky figure represents a Serpent-charmer, one of the Psylli of Libya, noted for their skill in curing the bites of poisonous serpents; and this would seem to be confirmed by the constellation’s title le Psylle in Schjellerup’s edition of Al Sufi’s work.

Constellation Ophiuchus Astrology

Constellation Ophiuchus [Urania’s Mirror]

But the Serpent-holder generally was identified with Asklepios, Asclepios, or Aesculapius, whom King James I described as “a mediciner after made a god,” with whose worship serpents were always associated as symbols of prudence, renovation, wisdom, and the power of discovering healing herbs. Educated by his father Apollo, or by the Centaur Chiron, Aesculapius was the earliest of his profession and the ship’s surgeon of the Argo. When the famous voyage was over he became so skilled in practice that he even restored the dead to life, among these being Hippolytus, of whom King James wrote: Hippolyte. After his members were drawn in sunder by foure horses, Esculapius at Neptune’s request glued them together and revived him.

But several such successful operations and numerous remarkable cures, and especially the attempt to revive the dead Orion, led Pluto, who feared for the continuance of his kingdom, to induce Jove to strike Aesculapius with a thunderbolt and put him among the constellations. Euphratean astronomers knew it, or a part of it with Serpens, as Nu-tsir-da; and Brown associates it with Sa-gi-mu, the God of Invocation.

Pliny said that these stars were dangerous to mankind, occasioning much mortality by poisoning; while Milton compared Satan to the burning comet that “fires” this constellation, — a comparison perhaps suggested by the fact that noticeable comets appeared here in the years 1495, 1523, 1537, and 1569, which might well have been known to Milton, for Lord Bacon wrote in his Astronomy: Comets have more than once appeared in our time; first in Cassiopeia, and again in Ophiuchus… according to his idea of the boundaries, this actually is more of a zodiacal constellation than is the Scorpion. But the boundaries are very variously given by uranographers. [2]

When Ophiuchus, encircled by the serpent’s great coils, rises he renders the forms of snakes innocuous to those born under him. They will receive snakes into the folds of their flowing robes, and will exchange kisses with these poisonous monsters and suffer no harm. One called Ophiuchus holds apart the serpent which with its mighty spirals and twisted body encircles his own, that so he may untie its knots and back that winds in loops. But, bending its supple neck, the serpent looks back and returns; and the other’s hands slide over the loosened coils. The struggle will last for ever, since they wage it on level terms with equal powers. [3]

Here, Serpens, the serpent, is seen struggling vainly in the powerful grasp of the man who is named O-phi-u-chus. In Latin he is called Serpentarius. He is at one and the same moment shown to be seizing the serpent with his two hands, and treading on the very heart of the scorpion, marked by the deep red star Antares (wounding).

Just as we read the first constellation of the woman and child Coma, as expounding the first sign VIRGO, so we have to read this first constellation as expounding the second sign LIBRA. Hence, we have here a further picture, showing the object of this conflict on the part of the scorpion. In Scorpio we see merely the effort to wound Ophiuchus in the heel; but here we see the effort of the serpent to seize THE CROWN, which is situated immediately over the serpent’s head, and to which he is looking up and reaching forth.

There are no less than 134 stars in these two constellations. Two are of the 2nd magnitude, fourteen of the 3rd, thirteen of the 4th, etc. The brightest star in Ophiuchus, α (in the head), is called Ras al Hagus (Arabic), the head of him who holds. [4]

Serpentarius is now called Ophiuchus (Oph) and was noted in classical times as the constellation of those who had the power of discovering healing herbs and skill in curing the bites of poisonous serpents. According to Greek tradition, the constellation is Asclepois or Aesculapius, who was a lineal ancestor of the great physician Hippocrates. Ptolemy says that its stars have the nature of Saturn and, to some degree, Venus. Pliny said that these stars were dangerous to mankind, occasioning much mortality by poisoning. But in regard, it must be noted that the constellation of Serpentarius has been the home of a large number of comets throughout history. It would be the comets, of course, that would account for the effects noted by Pliny. In a genearthical chart the constellation denoted prudence and wisdom. [5]


  1. Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Vivian E. Robson, 1923, p.54.
  2. Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, Richard H. Allen, 1889, p.297-300.
  3. Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, book 1, p.31, book 5, p.333
  4. The Witness of the Stars, E. W. Bullinger, 10. Ophiuchus (the Serpent Holder).
  5. Fixed Stars and Judicial Astrology, George Noonan, 1990, p.22.

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