Wednesday, September 27, 2006


In her blog of 26th Sept, having quoted from Andrew Harvey’s Dark Night of the Soul, Lynn Hayes comes out with this gem:

"It's becoming more and more clear to me that the newly tripartite nature of Pluto embodies the symbolism of this process: Eris creates the discord and strife that begins the death of the ego under Pluto, and Ceres presides over our emergence from the underworld and the regeneration of our lives." (

Eris, Pluto and Ceres are the 3 newly classified dwarf planets. Eris has a new name (it was Xena), so there is a whole new mythology to be explored. And Pluto and Ceres have a new significance to be explored. In particular, Ceres has been promoted from one amongst dozens of asteroids, so it is no longer enough to treat her as that subset of the Moon which is about how we nurture ourselves.

Yes, Ceres is a nature goddess (I knew very little about her till this afternoon, and here’s my Moon-Saturn in Sag pretending to be an authority already!), who presides over the growing of crops and is also an embodiment of motherly love. And that’s pretty important, but the story about her that is most relevant here is the abduction of her daughter Proserpina by Pluto while she was picking flowers. Ceres didn’t know what had happened, and spent years grieving and looking for her. Eventually she discovered that Proserpina was now living in the Underworld as Pluto’s wife. Through Jupiter’s intervention, she managed to get her daughter back for 6 months of the year, which became summer, expressing Ceres’ joy, and the other 6 months became winter, an expression of her loss.

It is through this story that we encounter Ceres’ connection with the Plutonic transformational process. Through Proserpina’s abduction, both mother and daughter are forced to move on to the next stage of their lives: Proserpina loses her childish innocence and becomes a wife, while Ceres has to let go of her child and re-encounter her as an adult. And this is part of Pluto’s function. Often we don’t want to move on to the next stage, we’re quite happy as we are, we’re often not even aware that it’s time to move on. But it is in the nature of life to move on to the next stage – animals do this naturally, they don’t have a problem about how to live, unlike ourselves. Pluto is the agent of that Necessity to move on and to transform.

Through her daughter, Ceres becomes a bridge between this world and the underworld. She has earned the right, as Lynn Hayes puts it, to ‘preside over our emergence from the underworld and the regeneration of our lives.’ As a goddess who also presides over the growth of nature and crops, she embodies that new life, and that fullness of life, which takes place at the other end of the transformational process. But it is a life that has lost its innocence, a life that is aware that winter, which has a beauty of its own, is necessary so that life can be renewed. Death and a letting go of the old are needed for re-birth.

Ceres is positioned in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and so she is also a bridge between the purely personal planets - which end with Mars – and the social/collective planets, which begin with Jupiter. And in the story, Ceres is awoken from the self-contained joys of motherhood into a wider connection with the scheme of things, both on a social Jupiter/Saturn level, through Proserpina's marriage, and on a deeper, outer planet level through Pluto’s abduction of her child.

So we could say that in a chart, Ceres is that place where we can find new life, new inspiration – but only through a greater acceptance of how the universe actually is, rather than how we would like it to be. And the sign and the house placement will give us a sense of where to look for that kind of nourishment (c.f. Ceres and nurture) as well as the kind of fantasies about reality that need to be let go of.

Though we have this transformational triad of Eris, Pluto and Ceres, by transit it is still Pluto that really matters, as Eris is too slow moving to do much in the way of transits, and Ceres is too fast moving to be deeply transformational on her own. Eris and Ceres could, one imagines, be useful guides on the way in and out of the Pluto underworld transits, but a bit of empirical research is needed on that.

Eris takes around 557 years to orbit the Sun, an average of about 46 years per sign. She is currently taking about 100 years per sign, so there are times when she is taking significantly less than the average of 46 years per sign. Between 1750 AD and 1800 AD, for example, Eris moved through 48 degrees i.e. about 30 years per sign.

In my last blog I suggested that though Eris can embody the Underworld in one of its least conscious and most destructive forms, positively she can give us the power to go to those Underworld depths in order to be transformed. So this holds out the fascinating idea that there are periods in history when there are more opportunities to enter the Underworld - due to the greater frequency of Eris transits - than at others! These opportunities go through a 557 year cycle.

Eris will regularly move at a particular speed in a particular sign, giving us a new quality to consider for each sign: how easy that sign finds access to the Underworld, or engagement in deeper transformational processes. With Eris currently in Aries, there are very few transits, so not many opportunities for transformation. This fits with Aries’ ruler, Mars, whose straightforward and willed approach does not cut much ice with Pluto, for it is precisely the conscious will and its pretensions to omnipotence that Pluto undermines, creating a respect for deeper principles in life. So Aries does not have easy access to the Underworld. But once Mars has wised up enough to get there, his strength and vitality and initiative could be deeply transformative, reflective of the length of Eris transits in Aries.

Eris was moving much faster through Sag and Capricorn from 1750 to 1800, suggesting that these 2 signs have easier access to Pluto’s realm. Certainly a number of Pluto's qualities – such as his association with death – came from Capricorn’s ruler, Saturn, so one can see the connection there. As for Sagittarius, its ruler, Jupiter, is king over the gods, including Pluto (he did, for example, intercede on behalf of Ceres). So there is a strong connection there. I must say that I do not naturally think of Sagittarians as naturally being Underworld types, but at the same time Pluto does not seem to have had a problem manifesting himself in his current transit through Sagittarius – far from it, the world has been hit with waves of fundamentalism.

But all this doesn’t mean that we don’t need to consider personal Eris transits in Aries. They are just rare and very long-lasting in our present age. I have one example, and it is not of someone who has been attempting to be conscious!

This person was born with Sun-Mars-Uranus conjunct in Aries, square to Pluto in Cancer. Not an easy configuration. Her natal Eris is around 2 Aries, and natal Sun and Mars are at 19 and 20 degrees of Aries respectively. She lived a fairly normal life until the early 1980s, living with her husband and raising her children.

As her children began to leave home, Pluto exactly opposed her Sun-Mars, and Eris came within 5 degrees of conjoining her Sun-Mars (I find that outer planet transits definitely begin to kick in within 5 degrees). She began to cause a lot of trouble for her family members, always plotting, lying, deceiving and trying in crude ways to get power over them (having spent the previous 20 years letting them have too much power over her).

The Pluto transit finished, but the trouble-making only intensified as Eris spent the next 20 years approaching her Sun-Mars. Having alienated most of her family by the early 1990s, and as Pluto approached to square her natal Moon, she moved into a house on her own and began to fall out with neighbours, solicitors, utility suppliers, builders, more distant relatives and so on and on. She ended up with no water supply because she had fallen out with the water board (she had ample means to pay her water bills.) Eventually, as Eris moved into exact conjunction with her Sun-Mars in the early 2000s, she fell out with the only remaining family member who was prepared to have much to do with her. Now, in 2006, this long Eris transit is finishing its exact conjunctions to her Sun-Mars, and will begin to separate next year (though it will probably be in orb for the rest of her life.) There are signs that her ability and even her desire to cause trouble are weakening as she weakens, even though her current neighbours are, inevitably, “horrible”.

This rather sad story does at least illustrate Eris’ power in the negative sense, and that the transits do actually seem to work. And who knows, after 20 years the consequences of creating strife may have had some sort of small awakening effect on this person. It is interesting seeing Pluto and Eris working together, Pluto giving her the power to take on her family first, and then later all sorts of other people, and Eris channelling this power into feuding. And, we could say, Eris facilitating the Pluto transits in the first place, so that she was able to move into Pluto's realm quite easily. It has been an unholy alliance, but it does suggest that these 2 dwarf planets can work well together.

What I need next is a more creative example of a 20 year Eris Transit. Anyone know of one?

Eris Pluto Ceres Astrology

Site Meter