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The Basics of Astrology
History and Interpretation of Asteroids
Asteroids and Beliefs
Specialists have divided opinions about asteroids. Some think that one must take into account the influence of these celestial bodies, the majority of which are situated between Mars and Jupiter. They are of different sizes, often very small, and their orbit may be elliptic, more or less expansive, not necessarily stable or precise. Their composition, mainly rocky, is variable too (metal, silica, or carbon).
To many astrologers the symbolism of asteroids is of secondary importance, or still not enough elaborated, for lack of knowledge. Nevertheless, several interesting works such as The Universe of Asteroids by Jean Billon, opened exciting avenues - at least for Ceres, Pallas, Vesta, Juno, and Chiron - that we have decided to address here. It must be borne in mind that, although the study of these planetoids must be carried out from an experimental astrological angle, it remains meaningful.
The History of Asteroids
Several hypotheses about the formation of asteroids still prevail.
In the 16th century, the astronomer/astrologer Johannes Kepler claimed the existence of a planet between Mars and Jupiter. His intuition proved correct in 1801 when the astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi officially discovered Ceres. While he was thinking he had identified a comet, he realised that the celestial body had an orbit. Three other asteroids were discovered in the following years. In 1802, it was the turn of Pallas. This perplexed the astronomers, because they were bewildered that two celestial bodies moved so close to one another. Their surprise grew bigger when Juno in 1804 then Vesta in 1807 were formally added to the list. Much later, in 1977, exactly on November 1st, astronomers discovered Chiron, with a very unusual orbit circumventing Saturn and Uranus. We shall deal with the symbolism of this peculiarity further down, for the asteroid establishes a link between the last personal planet and the first collective planet.
To this day, the number of asteroids larger than one kilometre is estimated at several hundreds of thousands (only 26 are over 200 km). Given its size, Ceres is the only almost spherical asteroid. Its diameter is of 946 km, i.e. slightly less than a third of that of the Moon. Its mass represents approximately a third of the total mass of the asteroid belt posited between Mars and Jupiter.
Several theories have been expounded to explain the origin of asteroids. Currently, that on which a majority of astronomers agree considers that asteroids are either a set of blocks unable to form a planet, or a project aborted due to Jupiter's very powerful force of gravity. Another theory holds that asteroids are fragments of an exploded planet belonging to our solar system; however such theory is more difficult to defend. A third one argues that asteroids are bits of a piece of planet destroyed during a collision, which, compared to the previous one, has the advantage of being consistent with the total mass of asteroids.
Paradoxically, when astronomers demoted Pluto to the status of dwarf planet in 2006, they drew the attention upon the major asteroids (those we mentioned). Indeed, the solar system was deprived of the 10th planet, to the great displeasure of many scientists who believed that the International Astronomical Union had taken an arbitrary decision by declaring that Pluto was too small to be part of the exclusive club of planets. Pluto has a radius of 1,188 kilometres only, i.e. 20% of the Earth's radius; Pluto has a perimeter of 7,242 kilometres, the distance from Washington to Hawaii.
Fortunately, Pluto regained his status of planet of our solar system. In the meantime, astrologers have taken the opportunity to deepen their overall reflection on celestial bodies. Some also found new ways to enrich their favourite discipline. However, should we accept the message of these thousands of dwarf planets? Do they have a real place in the interpretation process? Here are a few questions put forward. For the moment, these issues are not solved categorically of course, but the debate has developed a better knowledge. On the one hand, from a technical viewpoint, asteroids are easy to spot in a chart, since ephemerides provide their precise position. Besides, Astrotheme has included the position of the five major asteroids and of other hypothetical bodies, which are in light grey in the interactive charts.
Ceres, Pallas, Vesta, Juno, and Chiron: qualities, roles, and functions
It is the Greek-Latin mythology which popularised asteroids.
The Asteroid Ceres
As can be seen above, the glyph of Ceres is a sickle evocative of harvest. It can also suggest a cross surmounted by a semicircle, the former symbolising the matter, and the latter, the soul.
The Mythology of Ceres
In Roman mythology, Ceres is the equivalent of the Greek goddess Demeter. In other words, the goddess of harvest. She personifies fertility, since her cult was celebrated in summer. The daughter of Saturn (which is not surprising because Ceres' beauty is of the austere kind) and of Rhea, Ceres protects cultivated soils in every manner. She was often pictured as a tall and beautiful woman with a faraway look in her eyes and long hair as blond as a field of wheat. With such a physique, it is just logical that she delighted Jupiter, from whom he bore a daughter, Proserpina. When a teenager, Proserpina was abducted by Pluto, the god of the Underworld, who lusted after her. Devastated, Ceres pleaded her case to Jupiter, who ordered that Proserpina remain in the Underworld in winter, and with her mother in the summer months. The outstanding aspect of this mythological episode implies that nature is fully covered in lush vegetation when mother and daughter are reunited.
Astrological interpretation of Ceres
Ceres represents the need to mother and to be taken care of. By extension, it is the nurturing principle which is highlighted. Ceres tries to take care of her physical body and is also willing to devote herself to people.
The sign in which Ceres is posited indicates the kind of food the chart's owner needs in order to feel loved, as well as how he reacts to this gift, and how he is a mother. It should be underlined that Ceres' role is different from that of the Moon, who is the entire archetype of the maternal principle. As for Ceres, she must be related to the Earth element or to the meaning of the sign of Virgo. It is the mother's both practical and reasonable facet that must be remembered. The story underscores the moment of the education when the daughter is freeing herself from her mother's protection, being abducted by Pluto. A few analogies must be noted regarding the link with Pluto, since Ceres went underground to negotiate with Pluto the fate of her daughter. Therefore, Ceres' role is also about food of the soul and the mind, for she is in contact with the invisible world. The agreement reached with Pluto illustrates the concept of affection-detachment.
To sum up, Ceres means productivity, method and concrete analysis, maternal love and sense of education, capacity to detach oneself, but also lack of confidence, abandonment, bitterness, and low self-esteem.
N.B.: in a male chart, whenever Ceres is strengthened, whether by a luminary, by an angle, or by aspects, she indicates a man who will have to take on the role traditionally devolved on mothers: feeding, washing, rearing. Ceres may also describe a single father.
The Asteroid Vesta
From a graphic viewpoint, Vesta represents a vase in which a flame is burning. The V-shape of the vase may be deemed a symbol of victory after purification by fire, which promotes our evolution. The flame's principle is also to reactivate memories of past incarnations.
The Mythology of Vesta
Vesta is a Roman goddess who belongs to the generation of the twelve great gods of the Olympus. She is also the most beautiful Roman deity, often depicted with a veil. She is Jupiter's elder sister. She refused to marry Apollo, no less! She preferred the role of goddess of the fire of the Earth, thus becoming the archetype of the keeper of the home, and by extension, of the municipality and of the nation. In Antiquity, an altar with a sacred fire was placed in every house, and even in the centre of the town.
Vesta became the person who holds the keys of the city and of the divine light that she has the responsibility to keep alive. This concept of Vesta gave rise to the Vestals, the priestesses of ancient Rome.
Astrological interpretation of Vesta
In a natal chart, Vesta represents dedication to an ideal as well as to a cause or to a religion. When this asteroid is highlighted in a chart, it may indicate a taste for esotericism (the sacred fire).
Vesta embodies the need for purity and distance too. She is a concentration of a very focused energy which encourages numerous personal sacrifices for the benefit of a collectivity (to be interpreted according to the sign, the House, and all aspects involved).
On the downside, Vesta may bring about a sometimes inflexible or too abstract behaviour. Experts think that people influenced by this asteroid would be well-advised to go on retreats in order to symbolically burn any karmic debt remaining in them (for those interested in karmic astrology).
The Asteroid Juno
From a graphic viewpoint, Juno is represented by a royal sceptre. It has an important vertical axis evoking righteousness and greatness. It links the cross of the matter with the higher part formed by two crosses of 45° relative to one another, which results in a compass rose, synonymous with harmony.
The Mythology of Juno
Juno is Jupiter's sister and wife at the same time. Ancient mythology did not pay too much attention to prejudices or morality. Juno is fond of jewellery, ornaments, and fine attires. Jupiter was impressed; he abducted her and raped her. Then, to avoid shame, he accepted to marry her. For the Greeks and the Romans, Hera/Juno became the goddess of marriage and presides over all women's activities. She is the lady par excellence, not devoid of some degree of conceit.
Astrological interpretation of Juno
In a natal chart, this asteroid provides additional information regarding the person's marriage. It indicates the propensity to accept even-handed marital relationships. Juno concerns associative life too. In other words, Juno's strong position prompts to experiment the lessons of the 7th House throughout life.
Juno first of all deals with relationships, with the concern to find how to assert her rights. However, regarding professional life, the asteroid may also point to occupations in the field of beauty. If Juno is overly prominent, she may prompt to give top priority to the couple, even to the detriment of the career.
Synastry specialists notice that in the charts of couples, Juno is often superimposed on the partner's solar sign. Nevertheless, this is not a tried-and-true rule for the moment.
The Asteroid Pallas
From a graphic viewpoint, Juno is a lozenge, a diamond-shaped device, on top of a cross. Symbolically, the lozenge resembles an upturned face, while the cross indicates a spear.
The Mythology of Pallas
Pallas is the Athena or the antique Minerva. Therefore she is associated with wisdom and creative intelligence. She is Jupiter's favourite daughter and became famous for her numerous talents ranging from craftsmanship to arts. A shrewd warrior, she also means victory, which she achieved without brutality, unlike Mars. She is more tactical than other people and can manoeuvre very successfully to get what she desires. In this sense, she is invincible. Actually, in a mythological episode, she advised the gods when they waged war against giants.
Astrological interpretation of Pallas
Pallas embodies the fighting facet of the chart's owner. She also indicates our qualities of perception, our visions, and our flashes of genius. She prompts to become socially and professionally fulfilled. In addition, she can be considered an agent promoting the empowerment of women. She includes masculine as well as feminine aspects, seeking balance and harmony.
Women influenced by Pallas are combative and reluctant to compromise. While from her masculine side, Pallas gives a very developed feminine side.
The Asteroid Chiron
The glyph of Chiron very clearly resembles the letter K and above all a key which means action.
The Mythology of Chiron
Chiron is a centaur, a creature with the body of a horse and the head of a man, like Sagittarius, though with differences. Chiron is the son of the Titan Cronus, Jupiter's half-brother and Uranus' grandson. He lived in a cavern and is known as a specialist in medicinal plants. The herb of love, also called the one-thousand virtues herb, is his favourite.
He excelled in the art of healing, and was universally famous for this talent. He was versed in the knowledge of celestial bodies, in other words, astronomy and astrology, and taught these subjects.
Chiron is generous. His fate changed when he took up the cudgels for Prometheus who was forced to remain unchained to a rock, unless an immortal accepts to relinquish his immortality. This is what Chiron did. Thus, his animal part lived in the world of humans, while his other part became a shiny star in the sky.
Astrological interpretation of Chiron
Chiron deserves a detailed interpretation, because his history is packed with events. There are many specific works on this asteroid. To sum up, Chiron represents our share of suffering but also our capacity to heal.
More generally, he means a social bridge, since his orbit links Saturn to Uranus. Therefore, Chiron also takes after the nature of these two planetary giants. The bond, or transition, between classics and vanguard.
Those who are interested in the symbolic and mythological input in the art of interpreting a natal chart probably deem that asteroids enable to add many extra details to the classical interpretation. However, at this stage, it is necessary to avoid overestimating their importance, for they remain subsidiary features compared to planets. In any case, they are an exciting research topic, until the day they will, perhaps, win their spurs and become reliable.
To go further
You can also find the list of recognized asteroids.
The Universe of Asteroids by Jean Billon, soft-bound
Chiron and Vesta in Astrology by Roland Legrand, soft-bound