Astrology's Use of Asteroids
by Demetra George
Clearly, it is impossible to include all the thousands of asteroids in a birth chart and then make sense of them. To select asteroids to look at, some astrologers note only the asteroids that are very closely conjunct important points in the chart such as the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Midheaven or a particular planet that is being considered. Alternatively, they look for asteroid names that suggest people, places or themes in a person's life, and then see where these asteroids fall in the chart. Using these approaches, astrologers such as Zipporah Dobyns, Jacob Schwartz, J. Lee Lehman, Nona Gwyn Press and Batya Stark (as well as myself) have come up with an amazing number of startling (and often amusing) synchronicities. Playing the asteroid name game is great fun, and it gives yet another comforting manifestation of the interconnectedness of all things.
Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta
Among the thousands of asteroids known, Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta have a special place. While these are not necessarily the largest asteroids, they were the first to be discovered, and as such they have imprinted themselves on human consciousness in a major way.
They also complete the female pantheon of goddesses, rounding out the system of symbols begun in the usual ten planets. Of the six great goddesses of Olympus, only Aphrodite (Venus) and Artemis (the Moon) are represented in the conventional astrological symbol system. The other four great goddesses of Graeco-Roman mythology, Demeter (Ceres), Athene (Pallas), Hera (Juno) and Hestia (Vesta), were missing from astrology until they were re-invoked by their discovery in the early 1800s.
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Ceres, the Mother
Appropriately, the first asteroid to be discovered was named after the Olympian goddess who most exemplifies the mother - the first human being with whom most of us have contact, the first relationship that we encounter in life. Ceres, the Mother, deals with all sorts of mother-child issues. Of the four stages in a person's life, she signifies the Child.
The glyph or written symbol for Ceres takes the form of a scythe. Besides signifying the goddess of agriculture, this tool for harvesting suggests both the roundness of a breast and the themes of separation and death that run through the legend of Ceres. As the mother, she brings us into life, and, like the Christian Mary who grieves over her crucified Son, she also lets us go into death, thus starting another cycle. For this reason she is associated with the IC of the horoscope, the very bottom of the day cycle, where, in the system of astrological houses, life begins and ends.
The Myth of Ceres
Known to the Greeks as Demeter, Ceres was the goddess of agriculture who worked unceasingly to bring food and nourishment to the people of the earth. One of the great classical myths tells of her daughter Persephone's ravishment and abduction by Pluto, lord of the underworld. Grieving, Ceres wandered over the earth in search of her missing child. In her grief, depression and anger, she caused a famine, withholding production of all food until her daughter was returned.
Persephone meanwhile had eaten pomegranate seeds, a symbol of sexual awareness, thus giving Pluto a claim over her so that she could not be returned permanently to her mother. A compromise was reached whereby Persephone would spend part of each year in the underworld with Pluto caring for the souls of the dead, but each spring would be reunited with her mother in the upper world as she initiated the dead into the rites of rebirth. For over two thousand years, this drama was celebrated regularly in ancient Greece as the initiation rites of the Eleusinian mysteries.
Ceres Within Us
Ceres represents the part of our nature that longs to give birth and then to nourish and sustain the new life. She represents the essential bonding or lack thereof that occurs between mother and child. She is the impulse not just to nurture, but also to be nurtured by others through the giving and receiving of acceptance and unconditional love.
The story of Ceres and Persephone speaks to the complex mother-child relationship, emphasizing the interplay of closeness and separation, of nurturing and eventual letting-go as the child becomes an adult able to function on her or his own. Once the letting-go is accomplished, the child is free to reestablish the bond in a different key by becoming a friend to the parent and by producing grandchildren.
The Ceres myth also contains the themes of major physical or emotional loss, separation, abandonment, rejection, and estrangement that occur between parents and children, and later in life with other loved ones. One example of this is the anguish we face in cases of divorce or adoption when we need to share our children with their other parent. Ceres symbolizes attachment to whatever we have given birth to or created, and also the agony of losing it. If her myth is one of loss, however, it is also one of return, of death but also rebirth. Reminding us that loss makes way for new birth, Ceres can teach us the lesson of letting go.
A central part of Ceres bonding is the giving of food as an expression of love. In our early experiences as children, this food and love may be freely given. In other instances, however, it is conditionally awarded, withheld as a form of punishment, pushed upon us, or simply neglected. Then the self-love and self-worth of the child are undermined and underdeveloped, causing a host of psychological problems.
The mythological Ceres withheld food in the midst of her grief and depression. Correspondingly, one typical kind of Ceres wound is an obsessive relationship with food, including the whole range of eating disorders and food-related illnesses. Related to this, there can also be problems with a poor body image.
In her grief, Ceres became immobilized. Thus another Ceres problem manifests as being plunged into depths of depression or despair, making us incapable of daily functioning, work, and all other forms of productivity. To the extent that depression is associated with incomplete mourning, working through the stages of grief (shock, anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately acceptance) can help to promote healing in times of loss.
An additional theme comes from Ceres's daughter Persephone being raped by Pluto, her mother's brother. This points to fears that parents may have in protecting their children from similar harm. Certain Ceres placements in the chart may also point to one's having oneself experienced incest or other sexual abuse as a child.
In a desire to keep their children safe, parents with strong Ceres placements can become overly controlling and restrictive. In order to establish their own identity, their children may then struggle against the parental attachment. This, in turn, can bring up the Ceres theme of loss of the child.
On a transpersonal level, Ceres as the Mother of the World moves us to care about the homeless and hungry, and also about the destruction of the earth's resources. She urges us to take compassionate action to provide for fundamental human needs, and to care for the body of the earth which supports and sustains us.
Ceres not only gave birth to the living, but in her aspect as Persephone she received the souls of the dead back into her womb to prepare them for rebirth. Thus Ceres can also express as a vocation for either midwifery or hospice work, facilitating the transition from death to life and back again on either the physical or the psychological level.
Ceres embodies the great truth of transformation, that from death comes new life. This comes not just from the Persephone part of her story, but also from the nature of food, which always requires the taking of plant or animal life in order to sustain our own lives.
Ceres also teaches the wisdom that over-attachment and possessiveness can eventually bring loss, whereas sharing and letting go lead ultimately to reunion.
Ceres in Your Chart
Ceres's Zodiacal Sign
The zodiacal sign of Ceres shows the particular quality of nurturing that you experienced as a child. This sets the stage for how you presently nurture the child within yourself, and ultimately determines how you nurture others. The sign position of Ceres can alert you to possible problems with nurturing, and can direct you to the kinds of experience that you need to feel unconditionally loved and accepted.
These indications may be reinforced or contradicted by other factors in the chart such as aspects and (if you have given an accurate birth time) houses. Therefore, to get a rounded picture, be sure to read through the whole section on each asteroid.
Ceres in Taurus
When you were born, Ceres was traveling through the sign Taurus. This means that when you were a child you most likely identified nurturance with receiving physical security, a sense of stability, and being touched and held. You also wanted your caregivers to provide a home environment with lots of physical comforts.
If these needs were not met in an ideal manner, you may have felt either materially impoverished or anxious and fearful about a lack of material in your life. You may have reacted (and still be reacting) to this lack by feeling that you never have enough. This can lead to excessive attachment to things or to the hoarding of possessions.
As an adult, you still desire to have these needs met by whomever you turn to for your nurturing - whether it be a parent, partner or other loved one. Your natural style of nurturing others is by fostering their physical security and providing for them in tangible ways. Also, in being a good provider for others as well as yourself, you can achieve a feeling of self-worth and self-acceptance. Just as when you were a child, your feelings of warmth and safety have a lot to do with your physical surroundings.
The House that Ceres Occupies
Assuming that the birth time that you have given is accurate within an hour or so, the houses of the horoscope give more particular information about the way the asteroids and planets operate in your chart.
Besides the Fourth House, which shows your earliest upbringing, the house that Ceres falls into shows where or in what department of life you may most directly feel the need for mothering and nurturing. The house that Ceres is in also suggests the areas in which you are likely to feel your profoundest losses. In addition, it can give a key as to what kinds of experiences will either foster feelings of self-love, or feelings of self-criticism and rejection.
Ceres in the Tenth House
With Ceres moving through the Tenth House at the hour of your birth, you tend to nurture yourself and others through your profession or social role. Your vocation provides you with a public outlet for Ceres's desire to care for and provide for others. You may be drawn to careers or volunteer work that involve fostering others through teaching, child-care, children's services, health care, food-related businesses or hospices.
Alternatively, this position of Ceres can simply make you over-identify with your career no matter what it is. This may happen if, when you were a child, love was given based upon your performance or achievement. If you failed to live up to parental or societal expectations, you felt rejected or abandoned. To compensate, you may have put extraordinary energy into building a career, and you may make your reputation your primary concern.
Among the many forms of loss that people are likely to experience, for you one of the most poignant can be the loss of your fame or reputation. If you have placed overemphasis on your public image, such a loss can ultimately be freeing. Stripped of the public image that you thought was an absolute necessity, you may be forced to find your sense of worth in who you are, not what you do. In this way you will find real happiness.
The Aspects that Ceres Makes
The aspects that Ceres makes with other planets and asteroids show how her nurturing energies interact with the concerns of the other gods and goddesses in your chart. If her aspects reinforce the themes suggested by her sign and house, these themes are bound to be obvious in your life. If the aspects in some way contradict the themes of the sign and house, they may give rise to interesting tensions that take some creativity and practice to resolve. If an asteroid makes an aspect with the Sun or Moon, her importance for you is greatly magnified.
Ceres semisextile the Sun. Moderate influence.
Ceres, the great nurturer, unites with the symbol of your basic identity and conscious purpose.
This aspect suggests that parenting or some other kind of nurturing is central to your being. Whether or not it is directed toward your own children, you have a strong desire to love, protect, take care of. Either literally or figuratively, you are driven to give birth or start something, and then to nourish and sustain the new entity as it grows.
Paralleling the Ceres myth, at some point in your life you may have to deal with loss, separation, rejection or abandonment from your parents, children or other family members, or with the loss of something else that you have created or which is dear to you. According to the myth, after a period of grieving and withdrawal, this loss can be followed, in one form or another, by a return.
You may become intensely involved with your family, either parenting your children or taking care of your parents, or both. Outside of the family, you may find that activities such as growing or preparing food, feeding the homeless and hungry, protecting Mother Earth through environmental activism, or working with the dying (as in the hospice movement), take a central place in your life.
A person who lives out the Ceres-Sun archetype is Yoko Ono, wife of the late John Lennon. With Ceres conjunct the Sun in Aquarius/Pisces, she suffered the denial of her first child, lost her husband, and as a single parent has given much of her inheritance from John Lennon to feed poor and hungry children.
There are some potential dangers in this aspect. One is that excessive attachment to your children or loved ones can lead you to smother them with over-protectiveness. As a result, the child or other loved one may struggle to break free from your control. In the past, you yourself may have had to struggle to assert your own independence from an overbearing or controlling parent. This over-attachment to a child could also stem from underlying fears that, like Persephone, the child could experience sexual violation.
Remember that, in the myth, Pluto dragged Persephone into the underworld. Paralleling this, people with strong Ceres energies sometimes have children who slip into the underworld - through substance abuse, running away, experiencing sexual violation, getting involved in unsavory circumstances, or having a life-threatening illness. Fortunately, the myth suggests that the child will eventually return.
Another danger of this aspect is that you may feel a conflict between being your own person and taking care of others. If you self-sacrifice long enough, you will also sacrifice intimacy and closeness with your loved ones. This is because when you suppress your own needs, you eventually lose touch with yourself. You cannot have real intimacy with others if they find "no one there" with whom to relate. To nurture the souls of your loved ones, you must first nurture and develop yourself.
Other Ceres problems may include a low self-image, the thwarting of your nurturing needs, an obsessive relationship with food (which may turn into an eating disorder), a poor body image, or recurring themes of depression and rejection. The resolution of these challenges lies in developing a positive sense of self-worth. Again, the key is always to remember to nurture yourself. If you seek counseling or therapy for such problems, your counselor may have a Ceres-like, nurturing style.
To increase your understanding of this important aspect, we suggest that you pay special attention to the story of Ceres. As you do so, you may find that other themes from her story are reflected in your life experience.
Ceres semisextile the Moon. Moderate influence.
The nurturance and protection of Ceres combines with lunar matters such as your emotions, feelings and habit patterns.
Your aspect between Ceres and the Moon brings together the two mother archetypes in the chart. The Moon is the all- encompassing symbol for all that is yin or female in the chart, of all that gives form or contains, and of the earth itself. Ceres is a particular facet of lunar energies. Ceres deals specifically with motherhood, nourishment, and attachment, or the lack of it, to a loved one. When the Moon and Ceres are connected as they are in your chart, the more general lunar function takes on a Ceres-like character so that lunar issues in your life tend to assume Ceres's particular qualities.
As a Ceres-Moon person you have a deep longing to be needed by others and to bond with them. You may become intensely involved with your family, specifically parenting your own children or taking care of other people's. This could also manifest as taking care of your parents. By extension, you may be drawn to activities like growing or preparing food, feeding the homeless and hungry, protecting Mother Earth through environmental activism, or working with the dying.
Adelle Davis, who had Ceres opposition the Moon, is a classic example of one who lived out the Ceres-Moon archetype. A nutritionist and author of cookbooks which showed how to add maximum nutritional value to every meal, she produced many books, including Let's Eat Right and Let's Have Healthy Children.
With your Ceres-Moon aspect comes a strong degree of compassion, empathy and sensitivity. This sensitivity may cause you to become overly involved and identified with the problems of those for whom you care. If you become too enmeshed, you will inappropriately take on their pain. This will make you suffer, and will prevent them from having the opportunity to work out their own difficulties. Also, if you feel unneeded or that your efforts are unappreciated, you may become depressed.
Other problems that may arise with a Ceres-Moon aspect include experiencing a conflict between taking care of your loved ones and meeting your own personal needs. It is well to remember that when your own needs go unmet long enough, your ability to help others becomes impaired. You may think you are expending all your efforts taking care of their physical and emotional needs, when what they really want from you is an equal kind of companionship, or a role model that teaches them how to become happy, autonomous human beings themselves.
With this aspect you need to be on guard against smothering your children or other loved ones with over- protectiveness. Were you yourself overwhelmed by a domineering, controlling parent who eclipsed your own sense of individuality? If so, mentally putting yourself in the shoes of your child can help you refrain from this temptation. When an unconscious pattern becomes conscious, you are freed from repeating it.
Your protectiveness may, of course, stem from real-life concerns. In these times, we see the Ceres myth playing itself out through a child actually disappearing for a time into a kind of underworld: running away, being abducted by a stranger or the other parent, getting involved with drugs or other unsavory circumstances, or perhaps being confined in a hospital. It may be hard to find any solace for this heartache, but following in the footsteps of Ceres and giving oneself permission to grieve can help, as can the knowledge that in the myth the loss was followed by a return.
Refraining from too much protectiveness and giving children more freedom to go off on their own can often enable the Ceres-Persephone drama to play out on a less disastrous level. In order to grow up into autonomous individuals, during the teen years children need to leave their parents in some way. When this need is honored, they can accomplish the necessary distancing from their parents without straying too far into dangerous territory.
There is also a possibility that you guard your children out of an underlying fear that they may be sexually violated. In this case, you need to determine whether your fears are a projection or arise from a real situation. If the latter, your natural Ceres protectiveness is well-placed.
Because Ceres rules the mother-child bond and the Moon governs early childhood, this combination may suggest that your basic needs for emotional nurturing and love were not met as a child. You could be harboring separation anxieties, with fears (or actual experiences) of rejection and abandonment by your caretakers. This emotional isolation and alienation can lead to periods of depression. If you are feeling needy and unloved, it helps to extend love and nurture to others who are likewise in need. By being of service to others you can heal your own sense of emotional isolation.
A lack of early nurturing could also result in an inner emptiness that you try to fill up with drugs, alcohol, work, sex or other addictions. Part of this "filling up" process can involve an obsessive relationship with food which may turn into an eating disorder. Ultimately the void can only be filled with unconditional love that you receive from the Divine Mother and give to yourself.
To further understand this important aspect, we suggest that you re-read the story of Ceres. As you do so, you may find that many of the themes we discussed are reflected in your life experience.
Ceres semisextile Mars. Slight influence.
Ceres's capacity to nurture and protect combines with Mars's masculine principle of action and assertion.
Mars is the archetypal warrior, representing one who defends and protects boundaries. Ceres was also highly protective of her daughter. Therefore this combination indicates that your drive and energy can be channeled into defending and protecting your loved ones, or teaching them how to defend and take care of themselves. Because of Ceres's concern for the earth, this protective energy can also be channeled into ecological or environmental causes.
When these energies are not harmoniously combined, your need for independence and autonomy may have felt thwarted by a dominating or smothering parent. As an adult, you may find it difficult to act and be effective in the outer world, and may have feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, and powerlessness. With men, particularly, power is often connected to sexuality, so that in men with Ceres-Mars contacts, sexual inhibitions and complexes may arise. When you have this aspect, you should give attention to transforming your subconscious self-image and replacing thoughts of fear and inadequacy with those of confidence, courage, and self-reliance.
You may have been raised by an angry parent. If your parent repressed his or her anger, you may be carrying that unconscious rage in your own psyche and body. Getting in touch with and releasing this hostility is essential so that it will not be displaced onto spouses, children and other innocent victims.
Another possibility is that your personal ambitions and desires conflict with the needs of your family. If this causes strong feelings of anger to erupt, it is important that you and your loved ones learn the skills of conflict resolution so that Mars's anger does not lead to domestic violence or abuse.
Ceres quincunx Neptune. Slight influence.
Ceres's capacity to nurture and protect combines with Neptune's urge to transcend the finite self and merge with a greater whole.
A combination of Ceres and Neptune like this can indicate a sensitizing of the nurturing impulse to create a depth of compassion and empathy for all beings.
The unconditional love you experience through your connection to Spirit inspires you to give selflessly to others. You may be involved in work to alleviate suffering in the world. Your psychic sensitivity to the emotions of others fits you well to serve as a healer and helper, or to nourish others through artistic creations.
Your primary caregivers may have been spiritual, artistic, psychic or involved in healing pursuits, and this may reflect in your own style of caregiving later in life. Alternatively, one or both of your parents may have had emotional problems, played the role of martyr, been involved in substance abuse, or had difficulty in coping with the material world. To the extent that you took on the pain of your parents, you may be struggling with the same issues yourself.
You may have been raised in an environment where the chaos of the family system made it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality. You may have idealized one or both parents and may therefore have unrealistic expectations of the type of nurturing that you can receive from others. When your needs are not met, you may feel disillusioned and let down. Your resulting emotional neediness may predispose you to seek nurturing by playing the victim. Or, unable to bear your emotional pain and isolation, you may seek refuge in some form of escapism such as drugs, alcohol or overeating.
To resolve such Ceres-Neptune challenges, you ultimately need to find your nourishment through Spirit, through experiencing the oneness that connects all beings. You can fulfill your innate longing for wholeness by ministering to the wounds of others, but you must guard against indiscriminately trying to rescue people in the hopes of fixing or rehabilitating them. Truly to help others, you must first find nourishment for yourself by contacting the Spirit within.
Pallas, the Daughter
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Juno, the Wife
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Vesta, the Sister
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