J.K. Rowling and Virgo Mercury

Hermione

J.K. Rowling’s progressed Mercury retrograde

JK Rowling speaks at Harvard commencement

The link above is to a speech J.K. Rowling gave at a Harvard University commencement ceremony on June 5, 2008.  In this speech she elucidates the benefits one can gain from  failure, as well as the supreme importance of imagination and how it gives humans the power to not only imagine solutions and inventions that did not previously exist, but more importantly to create imaginal empathic connections with others living very different lives from our own.

It may not be surprising to you, given J.K. Rowling’s well-known distaste of media exposure, that there is not an accurate birth time known for her, making it more difficult to know her natal birth chart for certain.  Nonetheless, we do know that she was born on July 31, 1965 in Bristol, and since having a strong Leo Sun makes sense given her work, I have taken the presumption to make an example chart with her born in mid-day with her Leo Sun near her mid-heaven:

RowlingJKWRIGC1AAgain, since her birth time is unknown the house placements above are not accurate.  However, with the exception of the Moon (her Moon could be anywhere from 12 degrees of Virgo to 27 degrees of Virgo), we can feel confident that all of the other planets are at least at the correct degree and sign of the zodiac.  In particular we can know for certainty that the outer planets are in their exact degree, and one can see from above that J.K. Rowling was born at the time of the most recent conjunction between Pluto and Uranus, in the sign of Virgo.  Furthermore, we can be certain that her Mercury, Venus, Uranus, Pluto, and Moon are all in the sign of Virgo, with Saturn and Chiron opposite in Pisces.  For the select group of people who have consistently been reading my blog, you may have noticed that the last chart I examined belonged to Kurt Cobain, who was also born at the conjunction between Uranus and Pluto in Virgo.  We are currently experiencing intense aspects between outer planets with a Uranus-Pluto square, and so I am focusing attention on people born during the previous conjunction between Pluto and Uranus that have had a large cultural impact on our modern life today.

Being an acclaimed writer, one of the first planets you may have focused upon in J.K. Rowling’s chart is her Virgo Mercury that is at zero degrees.  This is a fitting placement for such a popular writer, as Mercury not only rules Virgo, but Mercury is in it’s exaltation in the sign of Virgo.  This means that in the mutable, internal, and receptive energy of the sign of Virgo, Mercury is in a position to access the resources and techniques necessary to effectively communicate in the greater world in a manner that can be widely understood and appreciated in society.  Now, some of you may be saying, wait, I thought Mercury is exalted in Aquarius?  I have recently discovered that the Aquarius exalted location of Mercury is a modern invention of astrologers, but that when one looks at more ancient text, which is where the concept of exaltation came from in the first place, Virgo is in reality the exalted location of Mercury.  I do not intend to argue here with anyone wanting to praise the benefits of having Mercury in Aquarius, but what I do intend to do is praise the benefits of anyone having a Mercury in Virgo.

Perhaps it is her own Virgo-nature, but J.K. Rowling provided a perfect example for the brilliance of a Virgo Mercury in her Harry Potter books in the character of Hermione Granger.  Hermione, who at first glance obviously has a Hermes-inspired name, also happens to be a Virgo Sun sign.  We can go a step forward and link a Virgo Mercury to Hermione because my daughter Vivika, a well-versed expert in Harry Potter lore, has told me that J.K. Rowling based the character of Hermione upon how she was as a youth.  In the books Hermione as a Virgo also displays the reasons why Virgo is an exalted sign for Mercury, as she is the “star” student who is able to read, study, and absorb more academic material than any other student.  In addition, she has a strong intuitively analytic ability to reflect upon situations and discern creative solutions to problems in the stories.  Like Virgo, a mutable Earth sign, she is both pragmatic and flexible enough to shift her perception to align with the present moment.  She is also able to be widely appreciated for her intellect and academic communication skills by other students and teachers;  this is in contrast to Ron, who is a Pisces.  In contrast to Virgo, Pisces is considered to be a detriment of Mercury, and in the books we can see how Ron’s academic studies are constantly challenged by his emotional and passionate Pisces nature.  This does not mean that a Pisces Mercury does not possess great gifts, only that in a society-sanctioned place such as academia, a Virgo Mercury would have an easier time receiving acclaim than a Pisces.  On a mythic level, my own feeling about Mercury being exalted in Virgo relates to Isis.  Isis is often associated with the sign of Virgo by many writers across time, and she was a figure who was able to move between the underworld and the upperworld.  I believe that like Isis, a Virgo Mercury is also able to embody this internal/external movement of perception and communication, deeply processing perceptions taken in, as well as being able to transmit a healing vibration through communication in a manner similar to Isis.  This ability also connects with the character of Hermione Granger, as she was exceptional at casting magical spells just like Isis.

Even more interesting, however, Rowling was born with this Virgo Mercury stationing retrograde.  When a planet is stationing retrograde, it puts added weight on it because the planet was barely moving and in fact was stationing still at the time of birth.  As a result, J.K. Rowling has a potent Mercury at the initiation degree of Virgo, and since her Mercury is stationing retrograde it means that Mercury would have been travelling retrograde in Rowling’s progressed chart for the first twenty-five years or so of her life.  Significantly for the themes of the Harry Potter novels, it also means that Mercury would have been moving retrograde in her progressed chart in the sign of Leo. What is a progressed chart, you may be asking?  Before I continue, I would like to comment that I hope you bear with me in this post no matter your current astrological understanding, as I will be attempting to explain an important astrological technique that defies rational logic, but is extremely effective and has been one of the core components of my personal astrological practice when working with clients.  I will be more astrologically technical in this post than in many previous ones, but hope I am able to explain this concept in a manner that will have it make sense for you and prove its value when considering your own chart.

A progressed chart is a way we can enter another dimension of astrological understanding that defies rational logic.  In progressed charts, we look at each day following the date of birth as representing an entire year of someone’s life.  So, since J.K. Rowling was born on July 31, 1965 it means we would look at the date of August 5, 1965 to figure out her progressed chart at the age of five, and that we would look at the date of August 30, 1965 in order to figure out her progressed chart for the age of thirty.  Whether the fact this works out so well in charts is due to the axial rotation of the Earth or some other scientific explanation, in the end does not really matter when you pay attention to the significance of progressed transits and aspects and how your life develops correspondingly.

As I mentioned, since Rowling was born with Mercury stationing retrograde at zero degrees of Virgo, it means that as she grew up Mercury began to move backwards in her progressed chart through the sign of Leo.  When a planet in a progressed chart is moving retrograde, it has a similar meaning to when an individual is born with a planet retrograde.  For instance, the individual may experience the archetypal energy of the planet in a counter-cultural manner that goes against expectations of the status quo for how such an archetype “should” behave in society.  In Rowling’s case, it means that her Mercury function, her style of perceiving reality and communicating her understanding to others, goes against the grain of cultural expectations.  As she references in her speech above, Rowling did in fact refuse to conform to the expectations of her parents to study (Mercury) subjects in college that could lead her to more easily make a lot of money, and instead chose to focus on her own passionate interests like Greek myths (Mercury retrograde) that did not increase the likelihood of her becoming employed somewhere that could provide her with an affluent or comfortable lifestyle.  Yet, because Mercury was moving retrograde in Leo it plays up the heroic quality of this early phase of Rowling’s life that has been well-documented in the “legend” of how the Harry Potter books came into existence.  More importantly, since Rowling has a Virgo Mercury in her natal chart, it also demonstrates how she would have the natural Mercurial resources to make use of her perceptions and learning to ultimately bring herself acclaim through her communication.  The chart below is for the day in which Rowling’s Mercury would have stationed direct in her progressed chart:

RowlingJKWRIGC7

As you can see from the chart above, when progressed Mercury stationed direct in J.K. Rowling’s chart, it was closely conjunct her progressed Moon.  And if you notice that her progressed Moon is only about sixteen degrees behind her progressed Sun, it also means that her progressed Mercury stationed direct in Leo conjunct a progressed Leo Moon that was in a balsamic or dark Moon phase with her progressed Virgo Sun.  Furthermore, her progressed Virgo Sun would have been conjunct her natal Mercury in Virgo!  These aspects would have been the case no matter what her birth time was on July 31, 1965, only the date of this progressed station of Mercury would change with a different birth time.

Since we do not know the birth time of J.K. Rowling, it does complicate matters.  For example, in her natal chart Rowling could have been born in a New Moon phase (which would be about her more instinctually embarking upon a new personal cycle) or if she was born very late at the end of July 31 it would give her a Crescent Moon phase (which would be more about her fighting the “ghosts of the past” according to Dane Rudhyar while going forward in her new cycle of identity).  Personally, as I previously mentioned, given the importance of a Leo Sun to the themes of the Harry Potter books, I strongly feel that it would make more sense that Rowling was born during daylight hours, including more of a mid-day birth. However, unfortunately in this case we can not know for certain besides the general natal Moon phase theme having something to do with a New Moon/Crescent Moon intention to embark upon a new cycle of development in her life.  As a result, the fact that her progressed Mercury stationed retrograde in Leo conjunct a Leo progressed Moon that was in a Balsamic Moon phase to her progressed Sun, is incredibly important.  This means that this potent stationing of progressed Mercury would have coincided with a time period in which she was meant to do some clearing of the past while opening to the seed of a new vision, according to the meaning of a Balsamic progressed Moon phase.  As I will demonstrate in a moment, the general time period this event would have happened no matter her time of birth on July 31 would have been in the year 1990.  The year of 1990 is the time period documented by biographers in which Rowling was on a train in England and experienced an inner vision of the character of Harry Potter.  As a result, she began devoting her life in stages to the manifestation of this character and story, battling many dark events in her personal life at the same time (poverty, death of her mother).  Below is how she described this vision on her website:

I was travelling back to London on my own on a crowded train, and the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head. I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. To my immense frustration, I didn’t have a pen that worked, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one… I did not have a functioning pen with me, but I do think that this was probably a good thing. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, while all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real to me. Perhaps, if I had slowed down the ideas to capture them on paper, I might have stifled some of them (although sometimes I do wonder, idly, how much of what I imagined on that journey I had forgotten by the time I actually got my hands on a pen). I began to write ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that very evening, although those first few pages bear no resemblance to anything in the finished book.

–J.K. Rowling

Checking various birth time possibilities, if Rowling had been born around 1:00 AM on July 31, her Mercury would have stationed direct in the progressed chart in April of 1991.  In contrast, if she was born around 11:00 pm on July 31, her Mercury would have stationed direct in May of 1990.  Finally, if she was born around 1:00 PM as shown in the chart above, her Mercury would have stationed direct in October of 1990.  In all cases, her progressed Leo Moon would have been conjunct her progressed Mercury at the time of the stationing, within a progressed Balsamic Moon phase with a progressed Virgo Sun conjunct her natal Mercury in Virgo.  In addition, she would have also had a progressed Scorpio Mars that would have been sextile to her natal Mercury in Virgo.  And, we can see that the average time period of these various birth time possibilities would have been the year 1990 in which her vision of Harry Potter took place.  She also would have been working at Amnesty International during this time period, which she spoke at great depth about in the linked speech at the beginning of this post.

If you are curious about your own progressed lunar phase, you can run a progressed chart on http://www.astro.com or another program and calculate the difference in degrees between the progressed Moon and progressed Sun.  Each phase has a different meaning:  the New (0-45 degrees ahead of the Sun), Crescent (45-90 degrees ahead of the Sun), First Quarter (90-135 degrees ahead of the Sun), Gibbous (135-180 degrees ahead of the Sun), Full (180-135 degrees behind the Sun), Disseminating (90-135 degrees behind the Sun), Last Quarter (45-90 degrees behind the Sun), and Balsamic (0-45 degrees behind the Sun).  It is always important to pay attention to whatever progressed moon phase you are experiencing, but especially to have the awareness when one is experiencing a Balsamic Moon phase (or to look back and examine what happened during a progressed Balsamic Moon phase).  Below is an excerpt written by Demetra George concerning the progressed Balsamic Moon phase in her book, Finding Our Way Through the Dark:

The progressed Balsamic phase is the dark moon phase of the lunation cycle.  It is the bridge between the ending of one cycle of activity and the beginning of the next one.  During this time you are summing up and completing all that you have been involved with for the previous twenty-seven years.  It is a time of letting go, purifying, healing, and preparing for renewal.

You may experience the loss of what has previously given you your sense of identiy and purpose . . . It is not unusual to feel lonely, depressed, suicidal, crazy, chaotic, alienated, and without direction. Tremendous grief may come up at this time as you mourn your losses.

The message is to release whatever has ended for you. It has served its purpose and has no further value in what is to come. Like the snake shedding its skin, an old part of you is truly dying.  Allow the old to be destroyed. This is a period of retreat, emptying out, and the final letting go.  You need to make room for the birth which is to follow at the next progressed New Moon . . .

As you prepare your seed capsule you may feel the urge to resolve the past by distiling the wisdom you have gained into some kind of form that will become the basis for what is to emerge.  Releasing the past, you begin to envision the future.  You yearn for something new, fresh, vital.  In your daydreams and night dreams you weave the images of what is waiting to be born, something which will satisfy your vague inner longings.  It will be in answer to this need that the new will come forth. As this phase draws to its conclusion, you may sense the future and dedicate and commit yourself to following the course that opens up to you, even though you may have no idea where it will eventually lead.

–Demetra George, p. 50-51, Finding Our Way Through the Dark

Of course this is exactly what J.K. Rowling ultimately did, and is a perfect example of how potent the stationing direct of a retrograde planet like Mercury can be in relation to other aspects, in this case the fact that her progressed Mercury was stationing conjunct her progressed Moon in Leo.  During the next seven years of Rowling’s life, as she began writing the Harry Potter stories, her mother died, she became married, gave birth, became divorced, and battled poverty while writing a story that was ultimately published in 1997, ultimately bringing her great fame and fortune.  In 1997, she most likely would have still been in a progressed Crescent Moon phase, so the idea of writing the book goes strongly with the progressed Crescent phase in which we must struggle to persist in bringing the new identity and vision into form.

When considering the retrograde movement of progressed planets in our birth charts, it is important to not only pay attention to when the planet stations direct, but also when it finally returns by progression to its natal placement if that is possible in our lifetime.  For J.K. Rowling, her progressed Mercury would have returned to zero degrees of Virgo sometime around 2004, again depending upon her birth time.  This is interesting because by this time, Rowling would have already re-married and would have already started a new family with her new partner, and also would have either been writing or finishing up the story of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, having already achieved world-wide acclaim for her stories.  With her progressed Virgo Mercury conjunct her natal Virgo Mercury, she would have been at the stage of making the final part of the story of Harry Potter a reality.  During this time she would have been in a progressed Gibbous Moon phase, meaning she was more at a place of fine tuning her skills in relation to her vision, with a progressed Sun around 15 degrees of Virgo, which actually happens to be the specific “exalted” location of Mercury in Virgo according to ancient text (she would have had a progressed Aquarius Moon at this time).

As I previously mentioned, exactly how and why the progressed chart can be so powerful defies rational logic and is somewhat of a mystery.  One of my favorite descriptions of its meaning comes from my astrology teacher, Rosie Finn:

The transits show us what we are learning about ourselves in “real” time.  They show us how we are able to alter our life as we know it with all of the experiences we have garnered in our life.  The progressions then show us what we are learning despite all of the experiences we have had in this life.  It shows us how we can alter our life without all the collection of “stuff” that has clung to us in this life.  With this understanding, the progressed chart becomes a tool for looking at what is possible for us to change, to learn, to be, regardless of the tapes we collected from childhood, regardless of that bad experience we had in the 8th grade that we continue to recreate, regardless of the titles we give ourselves, etc .  We can use the progressed chart to look at who we have become in the meantime.  And we can use the progressed chart to look at where in our life we can make significant change without this lifetimes collection of tapes.

–Rosie Finn, p. 94, Journey-work of the Stars

Exploring progressed charts is one of my favorite activities involving astrology, and I am always amazed at what can be found through taking the time to investigate various aspects within the progressed chart as well as in synastry to the natal birth chart.  The life of J.K. Rowling is a perfect example of how powerful these charts are to take into consideration.

References

Finn, Rosie. (2011).  Journey-work of the Stars:  how to use astrology on your path to wholeness.

George, Demetra. (1994).  Finding Our Way Through the Dark. AFA.

Ceres Sun Leo / Full Moon Aquarius

Venus of Laussel

Ceres at the Crossroads

The legacy of Goddesses in all Her forms will be lit by the Full Moon in Aquarius occurring on August 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm here in the Pacific Northwest of the United States of America, as Ceres will be conjunct the Sun and Mercury in Leo at the time of the lunation.  This Full Moon will be about us recovering our authentic creative Self, a process which involves a Shadow integration that has it’s roots in the story of Goddesses.  Ceres is a dwarf planet that has the Roman name of the Greek Goddess Demeter, who is commonly known as a Goddess of fertility and the earth, but in more ancient times was also known as the Mother of the Dead, similar in a way to the Sumerian Mother of the Underworld, Ereshkigal (Shlain, p. 31).  The “Venus of Laussel” above was discovered in a cave in Southern France and believed to be at least 22,000 years old, from a time in which Goddesses were sacred to the hunter-gatherer people of the time on Earth.  Researchers into myths of the Goddess such as Anne Barin and Jules Cashford (The Myth of the Goddess) believe that there were two prominent myths of the time, one involving a Mother Goddess who was linked to fertility, the sacredness of life, transformation and rebirth, and a second myth involving a Hunter who was more connected with survival, including the ritual act of taking life in order to survive (Shlain, p. 31).

Ceres is an archetype that not only goes all the way back to the original Great Mother, but also moving forward through time she encompasses many of the most prominent Goddesses of myth such as Isis and Hekate.  Eventually, around the time documented by Homer or so, Ceres as Demeter became a Goddess who was regulated to being simply a sister of Zeus/Jupiter, instead of his Great Mother.  This is in part due to invasions of the ancient Matriarchal cultures of Goddesses by invaders who became increasingly Patriarchal over time and re-wrote myths from the perspective of masculine Gods holding power over the Goddesses, bringing some cross-pollination to myth between cultures of the time in the process.  As a result, we can see many parallels in the myths between cultures who came into contact, such as the fact that Isis made Osiris whole again by synthesizing his fragmented pieces of his body together again, and in other myths Demeter (Isis) put the severed limbs of Dionysus (Osiris) back together again (Jung, p. 237).  In his book, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, author Leonard Shlain constructed a theory proposing that the development of alphabets and written records coincided with the subjugation of Goddesses and the ascendancy of Gods as sitting atop the hierarchical power pyramid of myth:

Poseidon, the Olympian god of the sea, presided over what had traditionally been considered the quintessential feminine essence:  water.  Many bulls inhabited his home in the deep.  The image of a bull inside a body of water or in an underground labyrinth is evocative of the female’s reproductive organs.  In the myth that precipitates Cadmus’s fateful journey to Greece, a bull carries a terrified young woman out to sea on his back. Initially, she trusted the intentions of a creature that had been associated with her gender for eons.  Zeus chose to rape her at Crete, the island culture consecrated to the Goddess.  Europa’s violation by a feminine totem is allegorical:  it is the incident that initiates the mythical transfer of the alphabet from Phoenicia to Greece.  With the beginning of alphabetic writing, women would have reason to fear the bull, which came to represent lustful virility.

–Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, p. 125

Shlain further depicts mythic plot lines developing in accord with the work of Homer, whose stories such as The Illiad “glorifies masculine values and denigrates feminine ones,” as it is focused upon “the deeds of men, and the story line is drenched in male-death consciousness”  (Shlain, p. 127).  The oppression of Goddesses becomes even more apparent when we consider how Gods became more important to the birth/release of many Goddesses more so than a Mother Goddess, such as Aphrodite being born from the severed testicles of Uranus by Kronus, Athena being released into the world from the head of Zeus, and Demeter, Hera, and Vesta being freed by Zeus from the belly of their father Kronus who had devoured them:

The birth stories of these three goddesses [Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena]- remnants of the Magna Mater- are so peculiar that they could only have been devised by a male mind intent on changing the perceptions of society.  Each goddess emerged from the insides of a male, though this required convoluted plot twists . . . Not only did all three goddesses, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, enter the world by way of a man instead of through the birth canal of a woman, but none of these examplars of the Great Mother was nutured during childhood by a mother.  This resulted in the paradox that these three representatives of the Great Mother were themselves motherless!  New myths are frequently imposed on a culture by the needs of a dominant ruling class.  What better way to discredit women’s roles in the creation of life, and by extension, the Great Goddess, than to have your goddesses born of gods?  The Iliad, the Theognis and the Old Testament turn barnyard commonsense upside down by asserting that birthing is a man’s job . . . The death throes of the Great Mother can be read between the lines of these sexist credos.

–Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, p. 130-131

Ceres being such an vital aspect of the herstory of myth on our planet is significant at this time, as in astrology we are experiencing a Full Moon in Aquarius, with the Leo Sun being conjunct the planet Mercury as well as the “dwarf” planet Ceres.   The Leo Sun and Ceres have actually been conjunct this entire past week during a lot of intense astrological energy, with Jupiter in Cancer in a full opposition to Pluto in Capricorn and coming into a first quarter square with Uranus in Aries, plus the Grand Water Trine we have been talking about still occurring, now more prominently involving Jupiter in Cancer, Chiron in Pisces (with Neptune), and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio (with Saturn).  Demetra George is my favorite author concerning the astrological meaning of Ceres, and many of the issues that Demetra associated with Ceres in her book Asteroid Goddesses are connected with the modern oppression of women and femininity that have clear connections to the mythstorical oppression of Goddesses by Gods.  For example, as Ceres is a Goddess of food and nourishment, she can be connected with the eating disorders many modern women have experienced, disorders that are connected to a psychological complex rooted in misogyny and the oppressive depiction of women in media such as movies, commercials, and popular music.

Demetra also analyzed how the pre-Hellenic versionof Ceres was a universal archetype of the Great Goddess that emerged in Crete and Greece in association with figures such as Isis, Ishtar, Inanna, Gaia, Rhea, and Tara.  Ceres as the Great Mother in Crete was integral to fertility rituals such as being the corn priestess at the Autumn Equinox who lays with her lover Iasion in a field in order to birth Plutus, who was the god of wealth found in the Earth, “a symbol of that rich bounty that the earth produced when it was so honored by the Sacred Marriage” (George, p. 45).  In the later versions of myth, however, after Demeter takes her younger lover Iasion out to a field during the marriage ceremony of Cadmus and Harmony, Zeus angrily strikes him dead with a bolt of lightning upon discovery.

Similar to this re-write of the myth, Demetra George also described how it was not until Homer’s Hymn to Demeter that the rape of Persephone appears in myth, as it had “no precedent in the earlier cult versions” (George, p. 45):

Historically, Persephone’s rape symbolizes the power struggle that was occurring between the patriarchal cultures (Pluto) and the indigenous matriarchal goddess cults (represented by Ceres).  The final outcome of the story points to a clear victory for the northern Zeus worshippers.  The Great Mother not only had to stand by and watch her daughter being raped and abducted, Ceres was also forced to share her beloved Persephone with the enemy.  Hence, she had to abdicate a portion of her powers over the birth and death rituals, a dominion that was eventually wrestled from her in its entirety.

–Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses, p. 45

In the popular version of the Persephone myth, Ceres/Demeter is no longer identified with the powers associated with Hekate, and in fact Ceres deep in grief comes into contact with Hekate, looking for guidance.

HekateHekate

Hekate is often depicted as a crone goddess representative of the triple goddess, a goddess of the moon, magic, and plant medicine, a goddess who stands at the crossroads.  In stunning synchronicity to today’s full moon in Leo and Aquarius, Hekate in the Persephone myth directs Ceres to seek guidance from Helios, the Sun God and seer, who gives Ceres the knowledge that Pluto took Persephone to the underworld under the blessings of Zeus.  Today at the time of this Full Moon, many of us are standing at our own crossroads, coming into knowledge of the root causes or sources of intense personal issues and experiences that are coinciding with the intensity of outer planet transits we have been experiencing:   in particular that  Jupiter in Cancer has now come into the full first quarter phase of it’s square with Uranus in addition to a full opposition to Pluto in Capricorn.

But what does this mean, you may ask?  For one, Jupiter in Cancer, considered an exalted aspect by ancient astrologers, entering such intense aspects with outer transpersonal planets difficult for us to integrate on a personal level but which consistently correlate with cataclysmic and paradigm shifting events in our human collective, has been coinciding with many of us having to realize once again how many of our beliefs we hold dear are ultimately speculative in nature.  I am not debating that there is an actual Truth, only that we humans tend to believe what we believe and on this level of relativity two people can view and interpret the same experience completely differently, arguing from a perspective rooted in belief systems that on the surface seem to hold no common ground.  This experience can feel especially debilitating when one is feeling oppression from a belief system connected to a dominant culture that one knows is not actually the Truth, but which still holds tremendous power of control over us nonetheless (or at least will try to control us).  We could be finding ourselves in a similar position to Ceres, enraged at the violation to our own divine femininity inside of us.  However, the version of her myth involving the descent of Persephone to the underworld also holds an important moral lesson, as Ceres had been extremely possessive of Persephone prior to her descent, and she reacted to the loss of her daughter with anger and bitter vengeance, refusing to nourish the Earth with food, flowers, and vegetation out of protest.  Ultimately, Ceres had to come to a place of letting go of her attachment to having Persephone with her at all times, as well as come back to a place of being productive with her unique calling and gift of food and nourishment that sustains life on our planet.  This does not mean we need to be mushy and passively accepting of oppression we experience or witness, but it does mean that we can be more productive and effective when acting from our hearts instead of out of anger or bitterness.  Going through the raw pain of crises does at least give us an opportunity to open more of our heart in the end of the process if we do our deep work.

As a result it is fascinating to me that the Sun has been conjunct Ceres at this exact time, an event that typically is not drawing a huge amount of attention from astrologers, although it most likely will be briefly mentioned in numerous “Full Moon reports,” such as something along the lines of “mother issues” or “baking bread” for someone.  Traditional astrologers barely even acknowledge Ceres, as they have a deep learning of astrology that can work limited to only the original seven planets of the Sun through Saturn.  However, even amongst the modern late 20th Century astrologers who have taken great leaps of thought with our ancient study of astrology, with the exception of Demetra George and others of like-mind, Ceres has not been developed to a great extent as an astrological archetype.  Astrologers do use her, but I find that she tends to draw less attention as a general rule, and many question the validity of even paying much attention to her in the first place.

ceres

One reason many question using the asteroids (although again, Ceres is not even an asteroid! She is now a dwarf planet on the same level of Pluto!) is why we should integrate the myth of a particular culture with a particular myth, to an asteroid that some astronomer just chose to give a certain name to.  However, in answer to this argument Ceres has a knowing smile.  At the 2011 Evolutionary Astrology conference near Portland, Oregon I witnessed Demetra George giving an electrifying talk about the mythology and astrological significance of Ceres, following a trip Demetra took taking astrology students to the specific locations of the myth.  Demetra shared with us that when Ceres was discovered in 1800 by the astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi, she was discovered in an astro-lab that was near the exact site of Persephone’s abduction in myth.

In actuality, although Ceres has still not generated a tremendous amount of astrological writing, since the 2006 astronomical controversy in which Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet status, and Ceres was elevated to dwarf planet status, Ceres is today on the same level playing field as the other celestial bodies that modern astrologers tend to obsess over since Pluto isn’t going anywhere in terms of astrological significance.  In Asteroid Goddesses, Demetra George presented an ingenious thesis for the astrological meaning of Ceres that I have found is deeply compelling and typically makes sense in the context of natal birth charts.  In this book Demetra associated Ceres with the signs of Cancer (nurturing issues), Virgo (productivity issues), and the Taurus-Scorpio axis (issues of attachment and letting go for transformation).

Again, as I spent time outlining the subjugation of the Great Mother for a reason, it is important to take our Ceres placement in our birth charts in consideration of the context of the oppression of women in our global culture and the effect this has had on our individual growth and development.  For example, Demetra George brought up the fact that hospital births in which the infant is separated from the mother in a sterile and isolated hospital crib first came into dominance in the 1930s, and as a result contributed to the plethora of relationship issues that have been handed down to ensuing generations since that time.  If we do not receiving the nurturing we need as an infant, a child, and/or an adolescent, we in turn have difficulty nurturing others in relationship, including our own children, and as a result a psychological complex such as an “attachment disorder” can be transmitted down the line of generations of family karma.  It is possible, however, with deep work and processing, to overturn complexes like attachment disorders we can become stuck to in our development, and as we each do our own unique personal work in this manner, and support others in their own deep work along these lines, we can help add to a great paradigm shift of anti-oppression work in the world around us.

When we talk about integrating our Shadow into helping us actualize our unique Self, this is exactly what we are talking about:  becoming aware of the rejected feminine aspects of ourselves (even if we are a macho dude) that have been cast off or suppressed in the face of cultural conditioning.  With Ceres lined up with the Sun and Mercury in Leo at this time of a Full Moon in Aquarius, we have a clear sign from above that a more authentic version of our actualized creative Self could become available to us at this time.  In Asteroid Goddesses, Demetra George wrote the following about having Ceres in the natal birth sign of Leo:

Ceres in Leo people identify nurturance with self-expression.  Ideally, the parents will foster in the child a sense of pride, confidence in his/her abilities, and an appreciation for the creative efforts of others.  These people can nurture others by helping them to express their creativity-  thereby making a unique impression upon the outer world.  Self-acceptance is based upon one’s ability to create and share something he/she takes pride in.  The inability to do so may bring self-rejection and a lack of self-confidence.

–Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses, p.  64

Since we are at a Leo-Aqurius lunation, it brings up the natural square to the Taurus-Scorpio axis that Demetra George wrote about Ceres ruling, associating it with issues of abandonment and attachment.  The reason people enacted Eleusinian rites of death for so long based upon the myth of Ceres and Persephone was to overcome a fear of death in the collective, as well as perhaps to gain a sense of the transformation and regeneration available in the process of death.  In Esoteric Astrology, Alan Oken and others have talked about the significance of the Taurus-Scorpio axis involving a death and destruction of form that helps humans open themselves to the heart-centered opening of the fixed cross.  It is through death of form, of learning to let go of attachment and experience rebirth, that we learn to open our hearts as well as come into closer contact with our Soul nature:

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, p. 55

Back in February of 2013 during a time of incredible planetary Pisces energy, Mercury and Ceres both stationed retrograde in square to one another-  Mercury around 20 degrees of Pisces, Ceres around 20 degrees of Gemini.  Since Mercury is now conjunct both Ceres and the Sun in Leo at this time, if we have been doing the work to let go of what has served its purpose, we may be experiencing a renewal of energy.  In contrast, if we have held on tightly to something that has outlived its purpose, we may be experiencing an intense climax of energy requiring us to make a definitive decision to let go of what is clogging up the process of transformation that could otherwise be available.

This point of 20 degrees of Gemini that Ceres previously stationed retrograde at this year is significant as it is the Heliocentric north node of Ceres.  During her talk on Ceres at the 2011 Evolutionary Astrology Conference, Demetra George pointed out that Ceres has Heliocentric nodes in square to the nodes of Juno and Pallas Athena, all on the mutable cross:  Ceres at 20 degrees of Gemini (north) and Sagitarius (south), Pallas Athena at 23 degrees of Virgo (north) and Pisces (south), and Juno at 20 degrees of Virgo (north) and Pisces (south).  As in traditional astrology this means that all three of these Godesses have Heliocentric north nodes ruled by Mercury, and south nodes ruled by Jupiter, Demetra synthesized that the evolution from “faith to reason” is at the evolutionary core of the feminine in our solar system.  At first I was surprised to hear this, as it seemed to suggest the divine feminine should become more rational and less intuitive, and then upon more thought I realized that this would be exactly the evolutionary point.  Thus the divine feminine could gain strength through developing its rational side while drawing upon its great powers of faith, not neglecting its intuitive abilities.  Becoming more rational, developing the ability to objectify our experiences instead of being overridden by emotional responses to our experiences, ultimately will help all of us come to a better understanding of the oppression the Shadow side of our Self has experienced.  As a result, we can ultimately realize and actualize more of our whole Self in the world, coming into a stronger embodiment of our unique power of creation and expressing more of the full Virgo sense of productivity associated with Ceres.  This also means carrying the Leo-Aquarius meaning of this Full Moon out into appreciation and sharing in joy of the work of other creators around us, instead of viewing other creators with envy, jealousy, or competitiveness.  Enjoy this Full Moon and soak up its lunar rays!

Ceres statue

References

George, Demetra. (1986). Asteroid Goddesses.  ACS.  (with Douglas Bloch)

Jung, Carl. (1967 edition revised from original 1912). Symbols of Transformation. Bollingen.

Shlain, Leonard. (1998).  The Alphabet versus the Goddess:  the conflict between Word and Image.  Viking.