Myths of the Zodiac: Scorpio

Scorpio is unique among the zodiacal constellations in that it does not share its name with a designated scientific constellation. The astronomers of equivalent of the zodiacal Scorpio is called Scorpius. Although, they do line up in terms of the precession of the sky and the dates in which the Sun crosses them, the Sun actually only crosses Scorpius for a few days. Thus, people born between October 23rd and November 22nd fall under the sign of Scorpio in astrology, but not astronomically. More correctly, they would have been born under the sign of Ophiuchus, but it isn’t a zodiacal constellation.

Scorpio is one of the three water signs, along with Cancer and Pisces. Its dominant planets are Mars, and sometimes Pluto.


Almost all cultures that contributed to the Western zodiacal canon agreed that Scorpio resembles a scorpion, and thus their stories often involve these venomous creatures. The Greeks and Romans also associated their Scorpio legends with those of the hunter Orion, who also has his own constellation – but not a zodiacal one. In Greek legends, Orion has a dispute with another God or Goddess of the pantheon (most often Artemis, but some stories mention Apollo) about how skilled Orion actually is at hunting. Regardless of the particulars that lead to its finish, the story always ends with Orion’s death at the stinger of the Scorpion – who is then placed in heaven for all eternity by an impressed Zeus.

There is another story sometimes told in relation to Scorpio, regarding the mortal offspring of the Sun God Helios. In this story, Helios’ son Phaethon (who the Greeks took their name for Jupiter from) borrowed his father’s silver chariot, that was responsible for driving the Sun across the sky. Unfortunately, such Godly powers should not be bestowed upon mortals and the young demi-god lost control of the horses after they were spooked by the celestial scorpion. In the ensuing rampage Helios’ chariot nearly burned the Earth to a cinder and created the deserts of Earth that we know today.

Helius the Sun

In various other cultures, that did not contribute to the Western zodiac, Scorpio was often seen as resembling a fish hook. For example, on Hawaii, Polynesian cultures associated it with the hooked hand of the trickster demigod Maui.

Astronomy & Astrology

From our Earthly perspective, Scorpio lies in the centre of the Milky Way galaxy and contains many relatively nearby stars – as well as an infusion of deep sky objects such as globular clusters and nebulae. The two brightest stars in the constellation are the binary-star Antares (which is often confused for Mars due its dark reddish hue) and Delta Scorpi or Dschubba.

In Astrology, people born under Scorpio are considered to be determined, passionate and assertive. They may often gravitate towards leadership roles, or if less people-driven, may enter research or development. Scorpios and Libras often make good friends or romantic partners, and these two constellations were often associated with each other in ancient times – indeed, ancient cultures often called Libra The Scorpion’s Claws, well before it came to signify a set of scales.