Ceres and the 2020 Pandemic
The krater above was created near the end of the life of Empedocles, who declared that forces of love and strife are at the root of creation. On the left is a crowned Persephone, while on the right stands her mother Demeter. In between are Hermes and Hekate, deities who are honored at the crossroads and whose divine service bridges the upper world of life with the underworld of death. Though we yearn for the coming together of love, collective crises remind us that we necessarily must also face the separations of strife. With the COVID 19 pandemic causing mass quarantines around the world and a shutdown of many aspects of local and global economies, we have collectively entered a liminal seclusion at the crossroads of civilization, contemplating how to contain the coronavirus while coming to terms with the irrevocable changes it will cause in societies around the world. Just as Demeter is overseeing the mysterious scene in the krater above, so is her astrological archetype involved in the pandemic through the form of the dwarf planet Ceres.
The COVID 19 pandemic has been connected by astrologers with the conjunction between Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn that formed on January 12 and was volatilized by a Lunar Eclipse in Cancer on January 10, as the first reported death from the coronavirus was on January 11. Astrologers have also brought up that Saturn and Pluto were forming an intensifying square aspect with Eris, a dwarf planet named after the goddess of discord. Astrologers have also pointed to the seeds of the pandemic being sown during the Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on December 25/26 as the existence of the coronavirus became more widely known in China at the end of December. The Capricorn Solar Eclipse was also conjoining Jupiter in its fall in Capricorn, signifying that issues such as stocks and speculation, the air travel industry, schools, colleges, congress, conferences, bail-outs, and charity would become activated.
Yet we must also remember that both Ceres and Mercury were part of the Capricorn solar seeding between January 10 and January 13. Mercury was reborn in the heart of the Sun seeding its evening star phase during the Lunar Eclipse in Cancer: thus the star of Hermes carried forward a message gathered from the union of Saturn and Pluto. Robert Hand has remarked that the obstruction of breathing caused by the coronavirus can be linked to Mercury being part of the Saturn and Pluto conjunction. By the time Mercury became visible as an evening star at the end of January, cases of coronavirus were already being reported in the USA, and then during the dissolution of Mercury retrograde in Pisces and Aquarius there were miscommunications in how to prepare to contain the coronavirus until the need for drastic measures to be taken became clear by the time Mercury stationed direct on March 9. The significations of Mercury are clearly involved in the coronavirus fallout, including the mercantile systems that have been falling apart as well as the Internet technology that has been mobilized to sustain commerce. Moreover, the date given for the earliest known infection from the coronavirus was on November 17, 2019 at the same time that Mercury was retrograde in Scorpio and made an announcement due to returning to visibility in its morning star phase, stationing direct three days later on November 20.
Although Ceres does not carry the same gravity of ancient significations borne by the traditional seven, her archetypal connection with the pandemic is obvious. Demetra George in Asteroid Goddesses wrote that Ceres “symbolizes the process of birth, death, and renewal” as well as signifies procreation and productivity, food and food related industries, labor unions and workers, strikes, unemployment, GNP, commodities and consumers, issues around nurturance and nourishment, nurses, hospices, and those who serve in social services, childcare, and the education system. The mass stoppage of productivity from businesses, the mass closure of schools that nurture young minds, is not unlike Ceres withdrawing her ripening of food and production of growth following the abduction of her daughter by Pluto. While health care systems and medical professionals have been the most burdened and overwhelmed by the pandemic, panic grocery shopping has also led to a depletion of food within markets.
I have a good friend born with Ceres conjoining Pluto (in the 8th whole sign house, 7th quadrant house) in square with a conjunction of Mercury and Mars in Capricorn (in the 11th whole sign house, 10th quadrant house), with Mercury applying to a partile square with Ceres. He has long associated his professional career working in a local food cooperative with the Ceres signature in his birth chart, and I thought of his Ceres signature as he told me how he had been working overtime hours up to fifty-four hours a week to help stabilize the food cooperative due to shortages in staffing with many staff members not wanting to work as drastic quarantine guidelines were introduced in our city. At the time of this writing, he told me he is having trouble ordering enough supplies to restock the shelves of the food cooperative due to the disturbance the pandemic has caused to the food chain.
Of course, not all of the people putting themselves on the frontline to tend to those infected by the coronavirus have a strong Ceres signature in their birth chart, nor do all those suffering from the widespread impact of the coronavirus. However, there are many astrological indicators that we have collectively entered a time saturated with the living symbolism of Ceres. Coming into deeper relationship with Ceres as we confront the great unknown of the pandemic can be fruitful for nourishing our capacity to grieve our losses, mediate our fears, and open ourselves to the ultimate renewal and return to creative potency that will follow the dissolution of the crisis. Below is the chart for the exact conjunction between the Sun and Ceres set for Washington D.C.:
Solar Seeding of Ceres with Saturn Pluto
The moment in which Ceres was reseeded with solar light was closely conjoining the midheaven of the chart set for Washington D.C., therefore making the new synodic cycle of Ceres loom large over the unfolding events stemming from the Saturn Pluto conjunction within the USA. In the story of Demeter/Ceres, an inconsolable Demeter consults Hekate (a goddess associated with the lunar cycle, in this case the Lunar Eclipse conjoining the North Node in Cancer, the home of the Moon) over the whereabouts of her missing daughter. Hekate directs Demeter to consult Helios (a meeting resonant with Ceres conjoining the Sun), leading to Demeter finally understanding that Pluto has abducted Persephone (also known as Kore or Proserpina) into the underworld and out of her reach.
On the same day that Ceres united with the Sun, the first identified case of COVID 19 was reported outside the borders of China in Thailand. Within a week of Ceres conjoining the Sun, on January 20 the first case of COVID 19 in the USA was reported in the state of Washington. Events then rapidly led to quarantine measures around the world that led to many aspects of the economic and educational system to be shut down, mirroring the next phase of Demeter’s story in which she withdraws her powers of procreation and productivity from the Earth as she becomes immersed in grief and rage and enters the darkest depths of her divine being.
The pandemic has laid bare the injustices of modern civilization, and so Ceres symbolizes the need for grief and expressing rage against societal oppression and inequity. For nine days Demeter refused to eat and mourned, a fasting that Tim Addey in The Seven Myths of the Soul interpreted as representing “the need to purge the concerns of matter from our perception if we are to rediscover the soul lost in hyle (matter).” The ensuing purgation of Demeter’s emotions can be likened to the threshing of grain governed by Ceres that reveals the essential vitality hidden in the shedded husk. Through coming to terms with the losses that will flow forth from the pandemic, within the collective catharsis we can regain focus on the most essential values to rebuild societal and personal structures around.
Carl Jung connected Demeter, Persephone, and Hekate with the darkest parts of the psyche in his book The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, and Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche declared that Jung’s concept of the shadow is one of the main significations of the archetypal combination of Saturn and Pluto. Tarnas wrote that while Saturn signifies “judgment, guilt and shame, suppression and repression, splitting and separation, denial, the inferior, that which is regretted and negated,” that Pluto simultaneously signifies both “the dark depths of the personality” such as “impulses for power, domination, lust” as well as “healthy instinctually from which healing, wholeness, and a higher consciousness can ultimately emerge.” On a collective level the pandemic has led to a confrontation with the shadow of civilizations while simultanesously calling for us to confront our own personal shadows.
In astrology when Pluto erupts from the depths on a mass collective level, as new forms arise and old forms break apart, we need to allow ourselves to let go of the way things have been in order to reorient with the changing forces taking shape. The union of Pluto and Saturn in Capricorn combined with the South Node of the Moon and eclipses has been challenging due to the emphasis Capricorn has on the ancient and traditional, the structures and beliefs that have endured across time and the figures who have gathered strength and skill through a wealth of experience. On the one hand we need to recover and cultivate the aspects of our myriad civilizations that bring stability and order in ways that meet the needs of people, yet on the other hand numerous aspects of the old order also must now fall apart in order to clear space for new forms and structures to take shape.
Making everything more intense has been the fact that the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto occurred close to the South Nodes of Saturn and Pluto, almost exactly conjoining the South Node of Saturn. This means that the movement of Saturn and Pluto around their entire orbital arcs descended to intersect with the orbit of our Earth around the Sun while they came together in conjunction. Dane Rudhyar in The Planetary and Lunar Nodes described the planetary nodes as “a focusing channel for the release of . . . a quality of being which is related to the space of its entire orbit,” revealing “the manner in which the essential quality of a planet affects the very structure and the roots of our individuality as a member of the human species.” Due to Saturn and Pluto uniting close to their own South Nodes, it means that the archetypal meaning of their entire orbital arcs was crashing down across the ecliptic together, flooding events with their significations like a great deluge. Therefore the dragon imagined by astrology that appears with eclipses in this case was a truly chthonic combination of the Moon, Saturn, and Pluto.
Dane Rudhyar likened the archetypal process of planets conjoining their South Nodes with the death and decay of the Fall season, as well as the importance of incubating and gestating the seed that will bring forth new life. There is a sacrifice necessary, a release of what must die in order to bring forth what needs to be born. We have been simultaneously experiencing the extremes of Saturn and Pluto, the putrefaction of their poisonous toxicity as well as the empowering discipline and reordering of their more ideal significations. With numerous issues sweeping across global societies sourced from an accumulation of oppressive toxicities built up over time, it further stresses the need as individuals within our global civilization to face our collective as well as individual shadows. There is potential to bring a degree of purification and reparation to the intersection of societal inequities with us as individuals, but the gravity and weight of the accumulated toxicity is so overwhelming it can feel difficult for many to muster the agency needed.
Yet there is something about the collective impact of the pandemic that seems to be reawakening within people the power that can be wielded when united by common cause. Just as Demeter forced Zeus and Hades to compromise through withdrawing her procreative capacities, so has there already been news of people beginning to organize labor and rent strikes to protect those vulnerable to the economic devastation brought by the pandemic. The union of Ceres with Saturn, Pluto, and the South Nodes of Saturn and Pluto is also a reminder of the more ancient form of Ceres as the Great Goddess who predated the patriarchy. Demetra George in Asteroid Goddesses described how the rape of Persephone was not recorded in myth until the time of the Homeric Hymns, and that Ceres as the Great Mother in ancient Crete was integral to fertility rituals through giving birth to Plutus, the god of Earth’s wealth.
In spite of the heartbreak of loss we must face from the pandemic, the stasis it is causing within so many societal structures will be opening opportunities to reimagine our relationship with wealth and the natural resources of Earth. Tim Addey in The Seven Myths of the Soul wrote that concerning the two gifts that Demeter brought to humanity, “grain and the mysteries, she chooses to withhold the lesser – that which nourishes the mundane body – in order to recover her daughter, who represents the soul.”
Ultimately after securing the return of her daughter for part of the year from Hades, Demeter brought the gift of Mystery rites and corn to humanity. Though she endured traumatic wounds she would have to nurture, Demeter delivered a source of profound spiritual understanding to humanity in addition to her gift of agriculture that would provide abundant physical nourishment. Some believe that the Eleusinian Mysteries involved a reenactment of Persephone’s descent into the underworld, Demeter’s search, and Persephone’s ascent and reunion with Demeter. In the Homeric Hymns, Demeter’s search leads her to Eleusis, future site of the Mysteries, where she retreats into a temple built for her and withdraws her procreative force from the world- “the most dread and terrible years . . . for mortals upon the fruitful earth.” There is also an alternative version of Demeter’s search that takes place in Arcadia in which Demeter gives birth to a daughter after being raped by Poseidon, a daughter whose name cannot be known by the uninitiated.
Many cultures today are disconnected from their ancient lineages of initiation into the Mysteries and the sacred realizations they offered for humanity. We find remnants of the transformation of consciousness they brought in the popular use of “underworld initiation” symbolism to describe the meaning gained when enduring experiences of death, loss, and grief that ultimately lead to a rebirth. It is common within astrology to use similar underworld symbolism when discussing the impact of Pluto transits or difficult conjunctions such as between Saturn and Pluto. Demetra George in Asteroid Goddesses used similar symbolism to describe the influence of Ceres. At the time of this writing it is impossible to know what levels of death and loss will come from the 2020 pandemic, but the great unknown mystery regarding the future it has stirred up across the world has created something like an underworld initiation we will be traversing as a collective.
In the Arcadian version of Demeter’s mourning she claims seclusion within a cave and does not re-emerge until being finally noticed by Pan, the wild shepherd god of nature who is one of the living images of the Capricorn constellation. After Pan notifies Zeus of Demeter’s whereabouts, the Morai (also known as the Fates) are sent to mediate and are able to coax Demeter back into the world. Similarly the pandemic has brought about a confrontation with our fate, as we are each being asked to discover what wants to emerge from our seclusion within our inner caves. Many are experiencing states of deprivation and emotional overwhelm, yet we can also sense how there is a purging taking place that can bring about a powerful renewal and realization of what is most important to us as a global society beyond the emphasis on national borders brought by Saturn and Pluto. As Demetra George wrote about Ceres:
To prepare for the moment of death, one must learn to experience “little deaths” every day through the process of letting go. While letting go may seem frightening at first, it is actually a necessary part of the cycle of life/death/renewal. In this transformative process, nothing new can be reborn until something old first dies. Thus, whenever we cling to a person, thing, or situation that has outlived its purpose, we only prevent ourselves from experiencing the abundance of renewal. At this point, a Ceres transit will inevitably come along, denoting our need to confront our fears of dying and to realize the truth of the Ceres-Scorpio death secret- that release is the precursor to rebirth.
–Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses
Ceres in the Aries Ingress Chart
The Aries ingress chart above is set for Washington D.C. and so signifies events in the forthcoming astrological year for the USA. No matter your location, however, Ceres is playing an important role in the Aries ingress due to her proximity with the Moon and Venus. The Moon always signifies the people in mundane astrology, and since it is applying within five degrees to a conjunction with Ceres in Aquarius there is an important relationship between Ceres and the people everywhere. Yet Venus in Taurus is intercepting through a square aspect with the Moon, while Venus simultaneously is also applying toward a square aspect with Ceres. The meaning of this configuration for your locality will depend in part upon the house placements of the Moon, Ceres, and Venus as well as the houses ruled by Venus and the Moon.
Using the Placidus house system shown above, Ceres and the Moon in Aquarius are in the third house signifying topics like communication networks, media, the Internet, transit, and education. With Uranus on the sixth house cusp, it signifies a disruptive shock to associated topics such as public health and sickness, epidemics, workers and labor unions, and the healthcare system. Venus ruling the sixth and applying toward Ceres in a square aspect, while the Moon is also applying to a square with Venus brings conflict around these topics, though there is a degree of reception due to Venus being in the exaltation of the Moon. In addition Venus rules the seventh house of relationships which includes foreign relations on a national level, as well as the eleventh house that is connected with congress and legislation and has already been evident in the U.S. congress attempting to address the pandemic through legislation.
From a whole sign perspective, Ceres and the Moon in Aquarius are in the fourth house of land, crops, the people, homes, and the oppositional political party which in the U.S. presidential election this year would be the Democratic party. Venus is bringing the significations of the seventh house of relationships and the twelfth house of hospitals, hospices, institutions of charity and welfare into its contentious square aspect with the Moon and Ceres. Aries is the sixth place in whole sign, making Mars in Capricorn the ruler of the pandemic in the third whole sign house applying toward a conjunction with Jupiter ruling the second house of finance. Jupiter being struck by Mars indicates the devastation the USA will experience with its economy this year.
Altogether it is clear that the significance of Ceres in the Aries ingress chart is relevant for people being sequestered at home, with the Moon and Ceres in signs of Saturn and in the fourth whole sign house. There is also a link to children being constantly home with parents due to schools around the country being closed, as Ceres involves the way we are nurtured by our parents and the way in which we nurture our children. Demetra George in Asteroid Goddesses stated that psychological complexes such as attachment disorders that are passed down generationally within families are also connected with Ceres. The pandemic has brought a dramatic change to family dynamics within the United States, with parents and children who normally have breaks from one another through work and school now together at all times. While this can bring about positive relational growth within family dynamics, it also presents the risk of neglect and abuse occurring within families overburdened by stress who lack the necessary coping and parenting skills. The Moon’s application toward Ceres in the Aries Ingress chart stresses the importance of mothers and a need to focus on parenting issues and resources.
The Moon and Ceres placed in the third house of the Placidus chart also points toward the use of technology to sustain the engagement of children with their education from home, workers converting to telework from home, as well as the use of technology to nurture the relational needs of people in general through communication that can transcend social distancing. Many people are learning for the first time that they can productively telework from home, which will have major implications for labor in the future. There will be immense changes stemming from the pandemic in the way we work and utilize technology and communicate with one another through our work. The Aries ingress chart suggests that Ceres is tending to the regeneration of the way we work within labor systems that will emerge from the pandemic in the USA, while also calling for a confrontation with the present condition of the healthcare system. As we deepen into the devastating economic impact of the pandemic, we may also witness the presence of Ceres through the use of general strikes and other forms of advocacy to renegotiate housing and labor agreements.
Sacred Grove of Ceres
When I presented my webinar Pan’s Return: Jupiter in Capricorn last year when Jupiter entered Capricorn, I shared the story of Erysichton in Tales from Ovid due to the presence of Ceres with the conjunction between Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn. The manner in which it warns of the overconsumption of natural resources to feed an insatiable hunger brings to mind the devastation to the environment caused by modern industries, and how current anger and activism over pollution, fracking, climate change, indigenous water rights, and other environmental concerns can also be connected with the astrological archetype of Ceres.
Erysichton was an arrogant King of Theassaly who ordered the cutting down of every tree in a sacred grove of Ceres, an ancient wood that had never before had a single tree felled by axe. Among all of the trees, one impressive oak stood out:
“Its boughs were bedecked with wreaths / And votive tributes – each for a prayer / Ceres had sometimes granted. Dryads there / Danced a holy circle around its bole / Or joined hands to embrace it.”
Erysichton nonetheless demanded his men to cut down the oak, and when they reluctantly refrained he grabbed an axe and struck the oak, causing blood to gush out from its bark. After one of his men protested, Erysichton cut off his head with his axe. The oak then spoke:
“I live in this tree. I am a nymph, / Beloved by Ceres, the goddess. / With my last breath, I curse you. As this oak / Falls on the earth, your punishment / Will come down on you with all its weight. / That is my consolation. And your fate.”
After Erysichton ignored the warning and cut down the oak, the nymphs of the sacred grove mourned in black and cried out to Ceres to punish the transgressor. Ceres listened and sent a mountain spirit in her chariot pulled by dragons to the realm of Hunger, to bid Hunger to take possession of Erysichton’s stomach and curse him with insatiable hunger.
As a result of the curse from Hunger directed by Ceres, Erysichton craved bigger and bigger bowls of food until not even a whole city could satiate him, nor a whole nation, to the extent that as he drained entire continents of its resources his hunger grew even larger until he had converted every one of his possessions into what he could devour except for his daughter.
And so Erysichton sold his daughter into slavery to supply himself with more resources to quell his insatiable hunger. Yet before she was turned over to the highest bidder, his daughter instead turned toward the sea and stretched her arms out toward Neptune who listened to her and disguised her as a fisherman. Since her disguise allowed her to escape slavery, Erysichton devised a scheme of repeatedly selling his daughter into slavery, since her ability to repeatedly transform herself and escape enabled him to continue to sell her into slavery over and over again. Ovid concluded:
“All to feed the famine in her father. / But none of it was enough. Whatever he ate / Maddened and tormented that hunger / To angrier, uglier life. The life / Of a monster no longer a man. And so, / At last, the inevitable. / He began to savage his own limbs. / And there, at a final feast, devoured himself.”
The balsamic, waning phase occurring for most of 2020 between Jupiter and Saturn is bringing an end to a two hundred year era of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in earth signs that began in 1802. The most recent earth era of Jupiter and Saturn began midway through the Industrial Revolution and has involved massive plundering of our Earth for natural resources to feed the insatiable drive for power within global empires during the past two hundred years. It’s all been more than enough to enrage Ceres.
The tale of Erysichton is further compelling when we combine the astrological archetype of Neptune with the role played by the god of the sea in the story. There has been a misuse of the gift of Neptune to feed the hunger of empire, deploying illusions to trick and deceive so as to devour and hoard a disproportionate share of natural resources. In the USA we see this in a president who constantly tells lies and then utilizes the deceptive nature of the corporate media to declare that its “fake news” means you can’t trust their coverage of him lying. There are innumerable other examples around the world of global powers manipulating the populace through the illusions of Neptune such as in the use of deceptive media and propaganda.
Since we are in transition of moving from a two hundred year era of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in earth signs into a two hundred year era of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in air signs, it is more important than ever to come to terms with the way global empires have been manipulating people through their control of the Internet and implementation of Neptunian illusions through the world wide web. This is obvious when looking at the chart cast for the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius on 21 December 2020, as Neptune will be applying toward a crucial square aspect with the transiting lunar nodes:
Ceres and the Great Conjunction
The chart above for the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius in 2020 is set for Washington D.C. and so relates to the United States of America. Just as in the Aries ingress chart for 2020 there is an applying square aspect between Venus and Ceres. However, while it is a waxing square in the Aries ingress, it is a waning square in the great conjunction chart. More importantly, since the USA chart has Taurus rising it means that Venus is representing the people of the United States in the chart. Many astrologers would note that Venus is separating from a sextile aspect with the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction but is out of orb from applying to a major aspect with another planet, leaving it isolated. However, when considering Ceres we can see that Venus is in fact closely applying to Ceres. The square aspect signifies difficulties to work out involving the significations between Venus and Ceres, but since Venus is receiving Ceres into its exaltation and bounds it does suggest there is potential for something constructive to be ultimately worked out between them through an arduous process.
Ceres is located in the eleventh whole sign house, and in the Placidus chart above Ceres is emerging from the suffering and isolation of the twelfth house into the eleventh house of the Good Daimon and hope. As the eleventh house connects with congress and legislation in mundane astrology, perhaps this can point to the populace in the United States demanding legislation connected with significations of Ceres such as policies involving unemployment, labor relations, agriculture, healthcare, and environmental concerns. Remember, since this is a great conjunction chart it relates to the next twenty years in the United States.
Ceres is also co-present with Neptune and the Moon in Pisces in the chart for the great conjunction. Venus, representing the American populace, is applying toward a square aspect with Neptune eleven degrees away while also applying toward a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon twelve degrees away- in both cases Venus is heading toward a dissolver. Due to the square aspect formed with the transiting lunar nodes, Neptune is presenting as a fundamental issue in need of addressing in the great conjunction chart. This is not only the illusion of the “American Dream” or what exactly is meant by “Make America Great Again,” but a radical exploration of what we imagine is possible to create together in the United States. The great conjunction chart warns of the danger in being swept up in the illusory excitement of new technology and the popular ambitions of the times, at the cost of deep descent within to uncover what we truly wish to create from our imagination.
The square between Neptune and the transiting lunar nodes is further complicated through the asteroid Vesta in Virgo being in a partile opposition with Neptune and also forming a square with the lunar nodes. You may have also noticed in the previous chart shared for the Aries Ingress in 2020 that Vesta is angular and conjoining the descendant in the chart for the USA. In the chart for the great conjunction, Vesta is at the northern bending of the lunar nodes, while Neptune is at the southern bending, with both of them on the cusps of the difficult sixth and twelfth houses in the Placidus house system (from a whole sign perspective they are in the much more positive fifth and eleventh houses). The opposition between Neptune and Vesta suggests nebulous difficulties that need to be sorted out, but we can find hope in the presence of Vesta who is capable of gathering community around her hearth fire to focus attention on a unified goal.
The deeper significance of Ceres in relation to the chart for the great conjunction is found through considering the nodes of Ceres. The heliocentric north node of Ceres is close to twenty degrees of Gemini, while the heliocentric south node of Ceres is close to twenty degrees of Sagittarius. This means that the transiting lunar nodes will be aligning exactly with the nodes of Ceres, further meaning that Neptune will also be forming a square aspect with the nodes of Ceres. Similar to how in 2019 the transiting lunar nodes and eclipses aligned with the nodes of Saturn and Pluto, we will be entering a period in which eclipses and the lunar nodes will be aligning with the archetypal significance of the entire orbital arc of Ceres. In fact, a week before the great conjunction on 14 December 2020 there will be a total solar eclipse in Sagittarius occurring within a few degrees of the South Node of Ceres.
Since Ceres will be approaching the southern bending of her own nodes as Jupiter and Saturn form their conjunction, the dawn of a new era between Jupiter and Saturn will also be a critical time to question and reimagine our relationship with Ceres and her mythopoetic meaning.
Ceres will eventually form an exact conjunction with Neptune on 21 January 2021, one day after the next President of the United States will be inaugurated on January 20. The union between Ceres and Neptune will also occur at the same time that Ceres is beginning to form an exact square with her own nodes as well as the transiting lunar nodes. Issues rooted in the union between Ceres and Neptune will be inescapable during this time period, and suggests an underlying theme involving the next administration in the United States as well.
With Neptune and Ceres at the southern bending of the lunar nodes as well as the nodes of Ceres, we will need to enact a deep dive into subconscious depths to get at the root of the issue. Jupiter in Aquarius is the ruler of the south nodes of Ceres and the Moon, making our relationship with the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn an intrinsic crux of the matter. There could be archetypal re-enactments of the relationship between Ceres and Neptune in myth, such as the transfiguration of Erysichton’s daughter by Neptune or the rape of Demeter by Poseidon. Fundamentally it is a profound opportunity to reimagine our relationship with Ceres as a global society.
Altogether this brings a strong connection between Ceres with the shift into 2021 and the new era of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in the air triplicity. As a global society we we will need to figure out how to nurture ourselves and provide for the needs of our community through the symbolism of the air triplicity. While the ascending sign of the Ceres Neptune conjunction is in the air triplicity in the chart cast for the USA above, its ruling planet Venus is in earthy Capricorn receiving an exalted Moon into its earthy home of Taurus through a superior trine. Since both the Moon and Venus are also applying toward a sextile with the conjunction between Ceres and Neptune, it re-emphasizes the need to reimagine our relationship with the earth element in the new era of the air element we are entering.
As an interesting aside adding to the mythopoetic connection of Ceres with this time period, there is also a co-presence in the great conjunction chart between Ceres and her daughter Persephone in Pisces, as the Persephone asteroid will be at 22 to 23 degrees of Pisces when Jupiter and Saturn form their great conjunction. This also places Persephone at the southern bending of the nodes of the Moon and Ceres, and also in a catalyzing square aspect with the total solar eclipse in Sagittarius on December 14.
[Note: in case you are wondering, Ceres never quite reaches a conjunction with the Persephone asteroid while direct- they get closer and closer to one another until both end up stationing retrograde around 9 November 2021 with Ceres at thirteen degrees and Persephone at 15 degrees of Gemini. They will not finally form an exact conjunction until both are moving direct on 23 March 2022 at 10º17′ Gemini close to the fixed star Aldebaran. While some sort of archetypal reunion may take place between Ceres and Persephone around the time of the Aries ingress in 2022, it’s fascinating that Ceres and the Persephone will be traveling for so long in such close proximity to one another]
South Node of Ceres in Sagittarius
“What happened in Eleusis was the separation and reunion of the dual goddess Demeter-Kore (Deó), she who sometimes appears as two barely differentiated figures, cloaked in the same mantle. It was the drama of the reflection that detaches itself from the body, from every object from the earth even- to then be reunited with its origin. But only in certain recurrent moments. Like the eclipses.”
— Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, p. 210
Demetra George has taught that there is a curious significance between the fact that the heliocentric nodes of Ceres in Gemini and Sagittarius form an exact square aspect with the heliocentric nodes of the asteroids Juno and Pallas Athena which are in Virgo (North Node of Juno and Pallas Athena) and Pisces (South Node of Juno and Pallas Athena). One compelling deduction involves the fact that Mercury is the ruler of the north nodes of Ceres, Juno and Pallas Athena, while Jupiter is the ruler of their south nodes. During a talk on Ceres that Demetra gave at the 2011 Evolutionary Astrology Conference, Demetra theorized that the meaning of Ceres having her North Node in Gemini and South Node in Sagittarius could involve an evolution from faith to reason.
Whatever meaning we can draw from Ceres having her South Node in Sagittarius and North Node in Gemini will be more fully felt when we experience the total solar eclipse in Sagittarius conjoining the South Node of Ceres on 14 December 2020. Demetra’s idea of balancing faith with reason is interesting, as it suggests a need to draw upon our intuitive abilities and capacity for faith without neglecting our rational side that can use reasoning to gain a more objective perspective regarding our circumstances. This makes a great deal of sense in relation to the pandemic, as it has brought the importance of listening to scientists and medical experts rather than those who are simply following their gut over how to navigate the crisis. It also makes sense due to us entering a new cycle of Jupiter and Saturn beginning in Aquarius, as Aquarius is perhaps the most rational air sign and its rulership by Saturn will demand utilization of reasoning when addressing humanitarian concerns.
Since we are entering a new era of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in the air triplicity, it is compelling that the North Node of Ceres is in Gemini and that Ceres was in Aquarius forming a flowing trine aspect with its own North Node in the Aries Ingress chart for 2020. The North Node of Ceres in Gemini conjures the torch-bearing, relentless searching of Demeter who the Homeric Hymns tells us “sped like a bird over land and sea, searching.” There is a pull for Ceres to be curious, to ask questions and demand answers, to forge new connections across diverse fields and harvest deep meaning through the swing of her sickle.
Out of the great disruption and catharsis we will experience during the transition of moving from an era of earth into an era of air, Ceres can help in tending to the renewal of our societal structures that will emerge. We will receive an initial impression of the meaning to be found through the North Node of Ceres in relation to all of this when Venus stations retrograde conjoining the North Node of Ceres in Gemini on May 13.
Ceres Retrograde in 2020
Finally, it is worth noting the section of 2020 during which Ceres will be retrograde. Ceres will station retrograde on 6 July 2020 at 12º49′ Pisces about eight degrees away from Neptune, and will station direct on 18 October 2020 at 28º36′ Aquarius. This means that Ceres will be stationing retrograde during the Lunar Eclipse in Capricorn that will be taking place on July 4 or 5, depending upon your time zone. If the degree range of Ceres retrograde sounds familiar, it is because it is the exact same degree range as the Mercury retrograde in Pisces and Aquarius that we experienced from February 16 through March 9, 2020.
With regard to the United States of America, it’s significant that Ceres is stationing retrograde during a Lunar Eclipse that will be taking place on the Fourth of July holiday in most time zones in the country. Furthermore, Ceres will ultimately station direct close to the same degree as the Aquarius Moon in the United States chart cast for July 4, 1776, such as the famous Sibley chart. Once again we find yet another sign of Ceres being an unusually important influence on the United States in 2020.
I asked my friend and colleague Jason Holley to share some of his thoughts on Ceres retrograde in 2020, as he previously inspired me to give more importance to periods of time when Ceres is retrograde during a lecture he gave on Ceres. Jason generously shared a few paragraphs with me that I will now share with you:
“Ceres transits in general seem to correspond to the need to descend, something that both Persephone and Demeter do in the Greek story. Persephone is taken just before she plucks the narcissus flower: narcissistic identifications fall and are defeated when Ceres transits – we are brought ‘down to earth’ and back to basics if we have ascended too high; or we are brought to the underworld if we have denied and avoided it.
In my work as a therapist, I have seen that retrograde Ceres periods seem to correlate to times when unconscious and implicit material comes forward in what are called in relational psychoanalysis ‘enactments’. These are experiences where a person or group, unable to meaningfully articulate or symbolize particular traumatic experiences, instead re-enacts them with whoever happens to be around. There is often a serious rupturing of the relational fabric, sometimes unrecoverable, but often recoverable with perseverance and leading to profound gifts such as those Ceres gave to humankind at the end of the story: Agriculture (a new relationship with the earth) and the Mysteries (a new relationship to spirit).
The upcoming Ceres retrograde in Pisces feels to me like the tsunami of collective grief, anger, and emotional overwhelm that will follow and accompany the seismic level of loss of human life and economic instability of the coming weeks and months. It is in the midst of this wave that we will be challenged to find the deep and embodied groundedness that Ceres represents. Those of us who can access this, even if only transiently, will be called upon to help the even greater numbers of individuals whose coping resources are quite simply overwhelmed.”
Jason’s description of a “tsunami of collective grief, anger, and emotional overwhelm” is prescient, as Ceres will be retrograde during an incredibly volatile phase of Mars being retrograde in Aries that will be forming a discordant square aspect with Saturn, Jupiter, and Pluto in Capricorn. Furthermore, Ceres will be stationing direct on October 18 during the beginning of an intense Mercury retrograde in Scorpio, with Mercury retrograde in Scorpio forming an opposition with Uranus in Taurus as Ceres stations.
The section of 2020 beginning in September already looked immensely volatile and chaotic when looking ahead to 2020 long before the emergence of the pandemic. Jason’s illumination of the implicit material that can erupt during Ceres retrograde means we will need to place extra importance on nurturing our inner life, as those able will also need to be nurturing and protecting the vulnerable among us.
There is something different about Demeter from the other deities of the Greek pantheon. Her love and grief were so enormous she made herself an incarnated mortal to feel it all. Due to Demeter’s complicated mythology in various versions, Tim Addey wrote in The Seven Myths of the Soul that as “mother-sister-wife-daughter of the Creator God,” Demeter is “especially concerned with the proceeding into life by the soul.”
Addey also wrote that as goddess of fruitfulness, Demeter is most closely aligned with the phase of the hero’s journey in which the hero returns from the other world with the elixir to bring into their home community. To Addey, the hero under the influence of Demeter “is no longer serving his own perfection but the universe’s perfection,” operating “essentially” and “from his very being” rather than out “of mundane conquest.” From now until we are on the other side of the pandemic, consider what elixir you are gathering and tending to return with.
Torch bearing, universal mother, bringer of seasons, nurse of humanity, goddess of seeds and abundant fruit, Demeter, may your ancient strength and compassionate heart be present in each and everyone of us.
Of Dioh divine mother of all, divinity with many names,
Holy Dimítir, nurturer of children, bestower of bliss,
Oh divine one, who cultivates the grain, who apportions all good things,
You who rejoice in peace and our difficult labors,
Presiding over seeds, bequeathing abundant grain, thresher, producing the green fruit,
You dwell in the hallowed valley of Ælefsís.
Oh charming, lovely one, you give nourishment to all the mortals;
You were the first to yoke the ploughing oxen,
And you produce a lovely and abundant life for mortals;
You promote growth, familial companion of Vrómios, splendidly honored,
Torch-bearing, holy one, you rejoice in the summer’s fruit of the sickle.
You are from the earth, you appear, you are gentle to all.
You bless us with progeny, oh lover of children, holy one, maiden who nurtures the young,
You yoke dragons to your chariot with a bridle,
Whirling and circling about your throne as you cry out in ecstasy.
Only-begotten, Goddess bearing many children, mighty queen of mortals,
Creator of many things, you bloom with flowers, blooming with holiness;
Come, happy one, pure one, heavy with the fruits of summer,
Bring down peace and lovely order to our world,
With riches and blessings and a life governed by good health.
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Addey, Tim. (2000). The Seven Myths of the Soul. The Prometheus Trust.
Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation. (2004). Edited and translated by SM Trzaskoma, RS Smith, and S Brunet. Hackett.
Calasso, Roberto. (1993). The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony. Knopf.
George, Demetra with Bloch, Douglas. (1986). Asteroid Goddesses. ACS.
Hill, Judith. (2013). Eclipses and You: How to Align with Life’s Hidden Tides. Stellium Press.
Hughes, Ted. (1997). Tales from Ovid. FSG.
Rudhyar, Dane. (1971). The Planetary and Lunar Nodes. CSA Press.
Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. Plume.