Astrologers got a little huffy when Pluto was demoted to “dwarf planet,” but otherwise, it’s been business as usual. The technical reclassification hasn’t changed the way we view Pluto.
Not so with Ceres and Eris. In the case of the latter, we’re bending our brains pondering how this newly discovered planet with radically different mythology should fit into our practice. We’ll be grappling with that one for several years, I’m sure.
Of the three, Ceres merits the most immediate attention. Although many astrologers have been using her in chart analysis along with the other asteroid goddesses, she’s now no longer just another asteroid. She has been promoted to Pluto’s equal, and that means she’s about to go mainstream. She’ll likely get a sign to co-rule. Taurus has been suggested as a possibility, but Virgo is emerging as the logical choice.
Ceres was thought to be a planet when she was discovered in 1801 and was later classified as an asteroid, only to be promoted to the new dwarf planet status last year. In addition to being discovered before Neptune and Pluto, she’s also much closer to the Earth. The asteroid belt lies between Mars and Jupiter, meaning that she’s on the boundary between the so-called “personal planets” and the outer planets. This fits nicely with her mythology and with what I believe is the real significance of Ceres in astrology.
To quickly recap the Ceres myth, Ceres was the Roman goddess of the harvest. Her Greek counterpart was Demeter. Ceres had a lovely daughter named Proserpina, the Greek Persephone (so it’s technically incorrect to talk about Ceres and Persephone, although most of us do it).
As you may remember, Demeter and Persephone were out one fine spring day roaming the fields, when the earth split open, and out leapt Hades (the Roman Pluto) in his chariot. Bewitched by Persephone’s beauty, he stole her off to the underworld to be his wife. Demeter searched high and low for her daughter and finally appealed to Zeus, who knew what had happened. Enraged, Demeter demanded her daughter back. Hermes (Mercury), the only god who could come and go freely to the underworld, was dispatched with a message that it was time for Persephone to come home. Hades being Hades, you can guess what his response was.
Grieving for her lost child, Demeter stopped taking care of the plant life, also with predictable results. Zeus was forced to send an edict to Hades, but because Persephone had eaten food in the underworld – Hades had been feeding her pomegranates – she could not return permanently to earth. The compromise was that she’d spend half the year above and half the year below. During the part of the year that Persephone was in Hades, Demeter was so depressed that nothing grew. Ostensibly, this is the mythology of the seasons.
Of all the gods and goddesses, Ceres alone went up against Pluto and won. She didn’t get everything she wanted, but even a compromise with the Lord of the Underworld was a major victory. How symbolic is it, then, that she now gets equal status with him as a special-category planet?
Posted by Pat
Image: Ceres, an allegory for August, from a fresco designed by Cosimo Tura, 1469-1470. The Sun begins its tour through Virgo in late August.