Happy Birthday to Sirius Black, the Scorpio!
Being a Scorpio myself, I was rather excited to learn that Sirius was born under the constellation Scorpius. I wanted to learn more about what it means to be a Scorpio and try to figure out how Sirius earned this birth date. Because let’s be real, we know J.K. did her homework; she picked November 3, 1959, for a reason!
First, let’s visit the story behind the constellation itself. There are a few variations of the Greek myth, but it always ends the same: The great mortal hunter Orion was killed by a Scorpion in such an incredible battle that the gods raised both Orion and the Scorpion to the heavens. That is why Orion hunts every winter but flees the sky in summer when the Scorpion arrives. The Scorpion is a fearsome and strong warrior that is held in high regard by the gods, even the big man Zeus. Not a bad story to be connected with, if I do say so myself. This story provides the groundwork for the astrological beliefs surrounding personality traits of those born under this sign.
Now we’ll take a look at modern Western astrology. Some general Scorpio qualities would include resourcefulness, bravery, passion, and stubbornness. Scorpios value honesty and friendship and are incredibly loyal. One Hogwarts professor describes Sirius and James Potter‘s friendship:
You’d have thought Black and Potter were brothers!” chimed in Professor Flitwick. “Inseparable!” – Prisoner of Azkaban (204)
Scorpios value loyalty in their companions as well and do not offer second chances often. Sirius displays this particular quality in his decision to kill Peter Pettigrew on the spot, rather than give him a fair trial for his mutiny.
THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!” roared Black. “DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!” – Prisoner (375)
Sticking with Western astrology, let’s dive further into his specific birth date with the help of the book Power of Birthdays, Stars & Numbers: The Complete Personology Reference Guide by Saffi Crawford. According to the Numerology section of Sirius’s birthday, those born on the number 3 have a need for different and exciting experiences and are inclined to get bored easily. We know this to be true from Sirius’s restlessness when the Order of the Phoenix (cough, cough Dumbledore) suggested he remain in hiding at Grimmauld Place instead of joining in on the action. Dumbledore describes him as “a brave, clever, and energetic man, and such men are not usually content to sit at home in hiding while they believe others to be in danger” (825). People born on the third of November are thought to be very charming with a good sense of humor and above all, loyal and loving.
In Native American zodiac calendars, Sirius’s birthday falls under the Snake. Snakes are naturals in all matters of the spirit and are passionate, inspiring, and humorous in supportive relationships. They are often considered mysterious and secretive, and when left to their own devices can become despondent, violent, and prone to abnormal mood swings. Twelve years in Azkaban could definitely have spurred these traits in Sirius, as shown by his eruption in the Shrieking Shack in Prisoner of Azkaban. Once reunited with his friends and godson, Sirius is much more agreeable, caring, and oftentimes light-heartedly funny with Harry.
Well, as everyone thinks I’m a mad mass murderer and the Ministry’s put a ten-thousand-Galleon price on my head, I can hardly stroll up the street and start handing out leaflets, can I?” – Order of the Phoenix (94)
The Chinese zodiac revolves more around the birth year than the day. The year 1959 places Sirius under the Year of the Pig, specifically the Earthen Pig. As the earth is considered to be constant and unchanging, those born in the Year of the Earthen Pig are believed to be calm, practical, hard-working, brave, wise, stable, and patient. Sirius is most certainly brave, hard-working, and wise; however, he is not the calmest or most patient man in Harry’s life (those qualities would probably go to Remus Lupin, I think, or perhaps Albus Dumbledore). Though not considered the wisest character in the series, Sirius does offer Harry some great council in Order of the Phoenix:
We’ve all got both light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.
Looking at the negative attributes of those born under the sign of the Earthen Pig, Sirius fits the bill quite well: They can be stubborn, possessive, nearsighted, and harsh. It is funny how these traits collide in Sirius; one of his most memorable pieces of advice in the series completely contradicts his own harsh treatment of his house-elf, Kreacher.
If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals” – Goblet of Fire (525)
The Celtic animal associated with Sirius’s birthday is the wolf. Wolves are fearless and brave, like the Scorpion from our Greek myth. They value honor above all else and will go to extreme lengths to see that their point is made and understood. According to Celtic beliefs, they strive on challenges and are the warriors you want on your side in battle. In the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Sirius laughed in the face of his opponent Bellatrix Lestrange, challenging her, “Come on, you can do better than that!” right before her fatal curse struck him (805).
Astrology is not based on science, but it is interesting to see that across cultures people born in a certain time of the year are believed to share the attributes of loyalty, bravery, and passion. J.K. Rowling put a lot of thought into Sirius Black’s birthday, and I think she picked a perfect day for the fearless, wise, and feisty Animagus.
Happy birthday, Sirius!