Beltane Season: Gemini – Divine Twins/Holy Couple

Divine Twins, The Maya Hero Twins Hunahpú and Xbalanqué Playing Ball, Mayan Rollout Vessel
The Maya Hero Twins Hunahpú and Xbalanqué Playing Ball, Mayan Rollout Vessel

The Divine Twins: Me and Myself, The Original Holy Couple

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As we move into the last four weeks of Beltane Season we encounter Gemini, the sign of The Divine Twins. We can find the concept of The Divine Twins around the world. It is a powerful concept that, like its astrological equivalent, Gemini, takes on many forms. The Twins are depicted as two beings. Men, women. A man and woman. Two figures with multiple genders, or are beyond gender. Moreover, they are often interchangeable, with interchangeable genders, roles, and powers. I cannot say with any certainty which of these concepts was “first,” but it doesn’t matter, as they all illuminate facets in each other. 

Nearly all ancient civilizations recognized biologically occurring twins as holy, unique, blessed, or cursed.

Whether identical, fraternal or conjoined, the birth of a set of twins was a significant occasion. There are many superstitions around twins. Many groups see twins as “astral” in nature, coming from or affiliated with “the stars.” However, as Holy archetypes go, the Twins are almost always closer in their behavior and habits to humanity than many many other deities.

There are some nearly universal consistencies among the holy Twins we see in various myths and religions around the planet. Duality and multiplicity are at the heart of much of our Twin symbolism. Further, almost all Twins represent polarities, and two sides of the same coin; light/dark, good/evil, mortal/divine, male/female, etc. 

Identical twin foals born in the UK, 2018. Photo Bruce Adams

Another symbol connected to Gemini and the Divine Twins is the horse.

Even the Pegasus and the Unicorn connect to the Twins. The famous Greek twins that the constellation Gemini depicts, Castor and Pollux, were known far and wide for their horsemanship. Other twins have mothers or fathers associated with horses. Epona, for example, is a Gaulish/Celtic Horse Goddess who ran a race against horses and won. She then died on the finish line as She gave birth to twins. The good folks of Mackinac Island in Michigan still worship Her every year in late Spring. The island allows no cars. Horses are still the main form of transportation.

Many Divine Twins have split parentage.

Many myths feature one mother and two fathers. Or, the twins are born in two different ways, with one born naturally and one coming from an egg or some other unusual source. This split parentage speaks directly to the duality nature of these archetypes. Even from their genesis they are the same but different. Often their Holy parent is a Sky-Related Deity, like storm, air, lightning, wind, thunder, and in particularly Sun Deities. Many Twins are the natural siblings and dual protectors of Solar Maidens in particular.

The Mayan Hero Twins

The Maya Hero Twins, Conjoined With Serpents

Named Hunahpu (One-Blowgunner) and Xbalanque (Jaguar-Sun, Jaguar-Deer, or Hidden-Sun), these Twins are a great example of twins that include many symbols of this archetype. They represent complimentary forces – life/death, sky/earth, day/night, sun/moon, male/female. Also, the twins experienced a harsh pregnancy and upbringing. They often use cleverness or trickery to solve their problems.

The twins are bird hunters and known for their hypnotic dances. While fighting the God Seven Macaw (Vucub Caquix), Hunahpu loses an arm (Gemini rules arms). At one point in their myth, they challenge the Gods to a game to retrieve the head and body of their father. All in all, the Gods pull many tricks on them, including attempting to kill the twins. The Gods succeed, but the twins are brought back to life in a river. At another point in the myth, one twin loses his head but continues to play ball. Ultimately, the twins win; they retrieve their father’s body and kill the Gods.

Yoruba Divine Twins

A Painting of Ibeji from Nigeria, Artist Unknown

In Yoruba land pantheons, the Orishas Ibeji are the Holy Twins. In the diaspora Yoruba of Latin America, these twins are equal to same as Saints Cosmas and Saint Damian.

Yoruba land peoples believe twins are magical. And the great ancestor God-Father Shango, who oversees thunder, lightning, justice, dance, and virility guards them. In these communities, if one twin dies, it is a bad omen, not only for the family but for the community as well. The family will ask a Babalawo (an Ifa Priest) to carve a wooden replacement for the lost twin. The family then dresses it and cares for it as a member of the family. In their myth, the 1st twin is Taiwo, 2nd is Kehinde (Omokehinde), the elder. The 2nd twin is the older twin. Taiwo goes first to make sure the world is fit for Kehinde.

For the Dahomey people, this was Lisa and Mawu, the twin/lovers who birthed the universe together over four days as the androgynous figure Mawu-Lisa.

And the Dogon Tribe sees them as the Nummo Twins, who are both androgynous and hermaphroditic.

Both figures express any, all and no genders, in turn. The Nummo Twins are Shapeshifters and connected to the Serpent. They are usually depicted as Conjoined twins and are described as the Mothers of the Earth.

In Haitian Vodoun, these twins are Marassa Jumeaux. They are polygendered children, but more ancient than any Loa. They represent and govern issues concerning astronomical and astrological learning, divine power vs. human impotence, justice, truth, reason, and mystery.

The European world also has its Divine Twins 

Divine Twins, Gables with crossed horse heads in Germany connected to Hengist and Horsa
Gables with crossed horse heads in Germany. Photo Claus Ableiter

    •The Latvian Dieva dēli, who were the sons of God

    •Sicilian Palici; one legend claims the Palici are the sons of Zeus, or possibly Hephaestus, but another story insists the Palici were the sons of the Sicilian deity Adrianus.Ancients associated them with geysers and the underworld.

    •Germanic Gods Alcis, a pair of young male brothers worshiped by the Naharvali.

    •Italian Wolf-Gods Romulus and Remus, whose story tells the events that led to the founding of Rome.

    •Anglo-Saxon warrior brothers Hengist and Horsa, who’s names mean “Stallion” and “Horse” respectively.
From Wikipedia: “On farmhouses in Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, horse-head gables were referred to as “Hengst und Hors” as late as around 1875. Rudolf Simek notes that these horse-head gables can still be seen today, and says that the horse-head gables confirm that Hengist and Horsa were originally considered mythological, horse-shaped beings. Martin Litchfield West comments that the horse heads may have been remnants of pagan religious practices in the area.”

    •Norse Freyr and Freyja were the twin son and daughter of the Sea God, Njord. Both were deities of fertility.

    •Slavic Lada and Lado, female and male personifications of beauty and fertility who were seen as twins, and as mother and son.

    •Welsh Lleu Llaw Gyffes and Dylan ail Don, twin brothers who are born when Arianrhod is tested for virginity. Dylan takes on the nature of a sea creature when he comes into contact with water, while Lleu is related to the pan-Celtic plural hero god Lugus. In the related Irish story of the birth of Lugh Lámfada, one version indicates that Lugh was a surviving triplet, whose twin brothers were drowned. Some interpreters of the legend view Dylan as representing darkness and Llew connected to light.

The Solar connection is essential and oft repeated.

Many, many religions and myth cycles have an image of The Sun being pulled across the sky by a chariot drawn by two horses. Often the horses are twins or exact opposites from each other. For example, the Chariot card from Tarot depicts this image nicely. Interestingly, the Chariot card connects to Cancer, the sign directly after Gemini.

The Chariot Card from the Builders of the Adytum Deck

In particular, The Twins have some specific roles they play in nearly every myth around the world: 

-Protectors at Sea

-Battle Protectors

-Protecting Oaths and Contracts

-Magical Healers

-Fertility

-Assisting at Birth

-Dances and Dancing

-Founding Cities

Ultimately, in true Gemini style, The Divine Twins stand for multifold experiences.

The Divine Twins represent the duality and multiplicity
we experience as we shed old forms of ourselves…
We are that person, but they are dying.
We are the new person, but they’re not quite here yet.
And we are the beings in between, shapeshifting and shedding skins.

They express the camaraderie we feel when we find our “twin” in a stranger, who suddenly becomes a best friend, a best Judy, a “sister from another mister” or “a brother from another mother.” Maybe we actually look alike, but often what we mean by this phrase is that this person feels that close to us, like someone who knows us better than we know ourselves, knows us from the inside out, and thinks about and sees the world just like us.

You share clothes, you share lovers, you share passwords. These are our “ride or die bitches,” and we often get into some of our craziest capers with them. We might feel like we would sacrifice a lot for them. We might even face (or tempt) death with them. They see our struggles, they see where we screw up, and they see it when we are not being cute, and they are here for all of it.

The Divine Twins are also two people after union. They became a single being, and now have parted again, but with an intimate knowledge of each other.

There is the experience of seeing ourselves in other people, and there is also the experience of seeing other people in ourselves. The Divine Twins represent the duality and multiplicity we experience as we shed old forms of self and reveal new ones during personal growth work like self-care, cord-cutting, and other profoundly altering ritual forms. There is our current self, but they are changing. Also, we’re the new person forming, but they’re not quite here yet. And we are the beings in between, shapeshifting and shedding skins.

The Divine Twins also represent a profoundly holy concept. As above, so below.

Divine Twins, the lovers card, builders of the adytum tarot
The Lovers Card from the Builders of the Adytum Deck

One twin divine, one twin mortal. These are the polarities of ourselves. Our mundane, extremely faulty mortal self is, in fact, the twin of our divine self, our soul, the Holy Guardian Angel, the Ka, etc. These are the same, but different, but the same. And, as it is expressed in spiritual practices stretching back through time, if you affect the spiritual body the mortal body will feel it, but also that the inverse is true. If you affect the mortal body, the spiritual twin will react.

And in the rhythmic pulse of infinite phases experienced while moving between these two extremes – mortal and holy – we discover our lives. Who we are. What we are. How we deal with and integrate the blessings and hardships introduced by our spiritual battles and our mortal experiences. The Sun, balanced between to spinning wheels. Along with the Chariot card, we can work with The Lovers card, as it is ruled by Gemini, and is a fantastic magical image for all these ideas.

This is the deep magical teaching of working with the Divine Twins as we leave Spring and Beltane season and head into Summer. Finally, we are getting some feedback on our full immersion of the real world. Being born unto the Earth plane, we are married to the consequences of our actions. We are married to reality. And now we are meeting our real world self, and learning to love them.

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