MORE ARTICLES VISIT ASTROLOGICAL MUSINGS!
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and the Asteroids
was first discovered in 1801 and immediately classified as a planet.
Shortly thereafter, several other bodies were discovered and classified
as planets beginning with Pallas in 1802, Juno in 1804, Vesta
in 1807, and later Astraea in 1845. When Neptune was discovered
in 1846, it was much larger than the other bodies and was therefore
retained as a planet and the others were demoted to the asteroid
belt along with thousands more asteroids that were discovered
over the next 200 years. The "major" asteroids languished
there until in a surge of interest in women's issues
in the 1960s and 1970s inspired the later use of the asteroids
in astrological analysis.
could argue that the modern women's movement in the US began in
1966 with the founding of the National Organization of Women (NOW)
(it incorporated formally the following year) when the Uranus
and Pluto were exactly conjunct in Virgo, setting off cultural
revolutions of various kinds around the world. In the mid to late
1970s the feminist movement inspired research into the history
of women in societies that were matriarchal in nature, and the
subsequent return of goddess worship in the form of neo-pagan
rituals. In 1976, with Saturn trine Neptune, Merlin Stone's book
When God was a Woman retold the Judaeo-Christian story from the
feminine perspective, reaching back beyond the god Yahweh to earlier
matriarchal cultures and female deities. This groundbreaking work
opened the doors to the study of earlier goddesses and their applications
in women's issues.
the astrological pantheon of the time Venus was the only feminine
archetypes. The love goddess that we know as Venus is significantly
watered down from her origins as Innana, Ishtar, Hathor, Ashtoreth
and Astarte, various incarnations of the same pagan goddess, slandered
in the bibles and expunged from history They were powerful goddesses
associated with fertility and sexuality and considered more powerful
than their male counterparts. This must have terrified the priesthoods.
Ashtoreth, the Hebrew incarnation of this goddess, was called
the female demon of lust. The Greeks called her Aphrodite, but
their patriarchal society necessitated the diminution of her powers
and she was relegated to her role as the goddess of love and beauty.
The Romans stripped her power as Venus even more, resulting in
the cartoon character we have today.
Moon of course is not a planet and although it deals with the
emotional nature and the quality of nurturing, those are not exclusively
feminist atmosphere of the 1970s made its way into the field of
astrology, and in 1986 the groundbreaking work by Demetra George
called Asteroid Goddesses made four new feminine archetypes available
to astrologers. The four major asteroids she covers are Juno,
Ceres, Pallas and Vesta, but there are thousands more (both male
and female), each with their own astrological symbolism. The use
of asteroids by astrologers is not all that common (although I
worked with them briefly in the late 1980s but ultimately found
they didn't really speak to me). With the inclusion of Ceres into
the planetary pantheon the other asteroids are likely to make
their way into the astrological language as well.
Archetype of Ceres
is the Roman name for Demeter, the Goddess of the Grain. Demeter
means "the mother" (de meter) and Ceres is said to be
from the root ker meaning "to grow." Although some researchers
believe Ceres and Demeter were two separate goddesses, most historians
equate the two. (There is an asteroid called Demeter but she is
not commonly used in the astrological pantheon.) Some sources
report that Ceres was the fourth sister-wife of Jupiter, king
of the gods, with whom she bore her daughter Kore (Persephone),
precluding her from the unmarried state that would associate her
with the sign of Virgo (more on that later).
story of the abduction of Persephone forms the fundamental Ceres/Demeter
archetype. Persephone was gathering flowers in a meadow when the
earth split open and Hades/Pluto emerged in a gold chariot pulled
by black horses, grabbed her, and stole her away to the Underworld.
Demeter heard Persephone's cries for help and went to find her,
searching high and low, not stopping to eat or drink. One day
she reached Eleusis and was found by the daughters of the King.
She commanded that a temple be built for her there and there she
sat, grieving for her lost daughter and refused to perform her
functions of nurturing the land. As a result, the crops died and
famine threatened the entire human race. Zeus took pity on her
and induced Hades to free Persephone in order to ease Demeter's
grief and restore the land. But Hades, knowing that if Demeter
ate while in the Underworld she would have to return to him, gave
her some pomegranate seeds and as a result she was compelled to
spend one-third of the year (winter) in the Underworld.
all divine personages of the Greek and Roman pantheon, Ceres has
a dual nature. She is the "greatest cause of joy" in
the giving of the grain, but can also cause deprivation, starvation
and hunger. Her wrath was legendary: after the abduction of her
daughter, she turned the attending handmaidens into the bird-shaped
Sirens. She was the goddess of more than grain; she presided over
fruits, seeds and most vegetables as well. Because agriculture
formed the wealth of the society, she is also associated with
abundance and the gifts of the gods. When a villager did not offer
her hospitality during her visit to the town, she burned down
his house with him in it. Those who did welcome her into their
home received abundant gifts.
Eleusinian Mysteries originated in the temple of Eleusis in which
Ceres/Demeter spent her grieving period after her daughter's abduction.
The Mysteries took place during an annual festival that lasted
for nine days, during which there was an international truce which
allowed worshippers to travel from all corners of the Greek world.
Little of the details of the rites of this festival are known
because they were treated with absolute secrecy, but they were
thought to give protection during life and afterwards as well.
The rites included periods of fasting and a special drink which
may have had hallucinogenic properties, as well the probably reenactment
of the abduction and resurrection of Persephone from the Underworld.
It is likely that the hieros gamos or Sacred Marriage was performed
between the Priestess and the Hierophant in a fertility rite.
primary archetype of Ceres is that of the mother. She is the provider
not only of food, but also of spiritual sustenance and a faith
that life will be reborn from the Underworld. Ceres represents
not only the nurturing qualities of the mother, but also the ebb
and flow of women's reproductive cycles that are tied to the Moon.
The offering of food to others is a hallmark of the Ceres archetype,
as Ceres ruled over the bounty of the harvest. Ceres was the most
generous of all the goddesses, providing care on all levels.
dark side of the Ceres archetype includes depression and loss.
The depression of Ceres/Demeter after the loss of her daughter
was so great that she withdrew and would willingly have caused
the death of all humanity through famine. She cannot bear to lose
her adult child who leaves the home to begin her own life and
marriage (in most versions of the story Persephone/Kore ultimately
finds happiness with Hades/Pluto and settles into a life of comfortable
domesticity as Queen of the Underworld). Ceres/Demeter became
virtually possessed by her grief and legend in her destructiveness.
That which nourishes becomes that which destroys.
new planets have been discovered we have seen that they become
"higher octave" or transformational symbols for functions
served by other planets. For example, Neptune, associated with
universal love, is said to be the higher octave of Venus which
rules individual love. Uranus, ruling insight and discovery, is
the higher octave of Mercury's communication process. We are likely
to find that Ceres becomes the higher octave of the Moon, where
the emotional security of the Moon is transmuted to a sustenance
and nurturing of our spiritual security and sense of place on