Sagittarius Symbolism and Mythology Explained

Sagittarius is the ninth sign in the Zodiac. It is named after the constellation Sagittarius. The constellation looks roughly like an archer pulling back on his bow.

In Greek mythology this archer is frequently considered to be a centaur named Chiron. Chiron was different from many of the other centaurs. At the time, centaurs were known to live a very self indulged life. They tended to be the «wild child’s» of the Greek gods; which means that they liked to drink, carouse and were not know for their monogamous relationships.

Chiron on the other hand was not like that. He was much more civilized than that. He studied the healing arts and was educated enough that he was highly sought after as a tutor for others. Even in his death, he was kind and thoughtful.

The legend says that Chiron was the son of a titan and therefore for all intents and purposes he was immortal. He could not die by average means. One day he was sharing a meal with Heracles and Pholus. All was well until they opened up a bottle of sacred wine. The fumes from the wine floated outside the cave they were in and intoxicated a bunch of wild centaurs. The wild centaurs immediately lost all sense and started attacking Heracles, Pholus and Chiron.

Heracles immediately began shooting at all of them with his arrows. He’d previously dipped each arrow in the blood of Hera, a beast he’d slain for one of his 12 labours. So they were highly poisonous and were extremely effective against the drunken centaurs. Every time an arrow hit, a centaur died. Once the battle was over, Heracles noticed that Chiron had been accidentally hit with one of his arrows during the skirmish.

Chiron, who was healer himself, knew that he wasn’t going to be able to recover from this poisonous arrow. So he had Heracles make a bargain with Zeus; an exchange of Chiron’s immortality for the life of Prometheus. (Remember Prometheus? He was the man chained to a rock and left to die?) So Chiron’s sacrifice saved Prometheus life. Chiron was honored by Zeus who gave him a place in the sky as the archer that represents Sagittarius.

An interesting footnote to this story is that the host of the dinner Pholus survived the initial attack. However, curiosity got the better of him and he wondered how such simple arrow could do so much damage. Instead of asking Heracles about it, he picked one of the arrows up to inspect it, but ended up accidentally dropping it on his hoof. He died instantly.

The «element» that Sagittarius is associated with is «fire» while its «quality» is known to be «mutable». This gives Sagittarius strengths in creativity and resourcefulness.

When it comes to tattoos it’s easy to come up with several different ideas. Renderings of an archer, a bow and arrow or centaur. If you wanted to combine the picture with its element, then you could even superimpose fire around any of the images to represent the element associated with Sagittarius. To keep it simple, you could always just use the Sanskrit name for Sagittarius, which is «Dhanus».

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