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. In a cover story for Mountain Astrologer, Zane Stein suggests Eris as co-ruler of Libra (gasp!), “since there is some indication that Ceres co-rules Virgo.” I know some of you thought I was nuts for suggesting that Ceres should be co-ruler of Virgo, but that does appear to be the way things are heading.
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, which is what this series of articles is really about.
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.
During a presentation at NORWAC in late May, Philip Sedgwick noted that this was a very big deal. 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-cateory planet?
Philip Sedgwick is best known as a pioneer in the astrology of the Galactic Core. He’s fascinating to listen to, because he switches so easily back and forth between the latest discoveries in science and how they apply to astrology. He showed a series of slides giving various ratios of mass, density, gravity, and diameter of all the planets up to Pluto, including Charon, formerly thought to be a moon but recently discovered to be Pluto’s binary companion.
Depending on which data you compare, Ceres, Pluto, and Charon come out to be far more significant objects than the giant planets. They certainly are more solid. His opinion was that they shouldn’t be viewed as transpersonal planets at all. We especially need to rethink the way we view Ceres in natal and transit charts.
By the way, he called her Pluto’s mother-in-law. I guess that makes Pluto the son-in-law from hell.
(This article originally appeared on The Pisces Chronicles on June 6, 2007.)