The Asteroid Goddesses by Demetra George and Douglas Bloch
Early in the 1800’s, after the discovery of Uranus and before the discovery of Neptune, astronomers identified four astral bodies in the orbit between Mars and Jupiter. These objects were several hundred miles in diameter, smaller than planets but still significant enough in size to warrant being named, as asteroids, for goddesses from the Olympic pantheon, Juno, Ceres, Vesta and Pallas Athene. In the decades following this discovery, the first wave of feminism emerged, as women demanded their rights to own property, to vote, to use birth control, and to be considered as equal to men in the eyes of the law.
Astrologers, however, seemed little inclined to incorporate the asteroid goddesses into chart interpretations, and an ephemeris for the positions of the asteroids was not even developed until the following century, in the 1970’s. By then, thousands more asteroids had been discovered and named, and women were rising to meet a second wave of feminism. Astrologers Demetra George and Douglas Bloch exhaustively studied the asteroids, looking at them in clients’ charts by nativity and transit. The results of their efforts were put forward in 1986 in The Asteroid Goddesses: The Mythology, Psychology, and Astrology of the Re-emerging Feminine. These goddesses, they believed, had been asleep for centuries, waiting to be awakened and placed in their rightful position as symbols of the power of the feminine.
While the authors describe a number of minor asteroids, their focus in on the original four goddesses, and this book provides a rich history of the mythology behind each goddess and her role in the sign and house of the astrological chart as well as in the aspects she forms with other planets. In the delineation of Ceres and Juno, the idea that a woman is “just” a wife and mother is challenged. Ceres, a mother whose loss of a child decimated a planet, reminds us of the powerful force a mother exerts in the world. Juno, who married Zeus for life and struggled mightily as his massive infidelities rocked their world over and over again, reminds us that loyalty and devotion to one’s home and family stabilizes us and brings order from chaos.
And that women have gifts and talents they can bring to the world aside from their roles as wife and mother is proven to us by the goddesses Vesta and Pallas Athene. Wholly dedicated to service, Vesta through her work preserves what is holy and demonstrates that a woman can be independent and complete unto herself. Pallas Athene, with her brilliant, creative intelligence, demonstrates that a woman is more than able to compete and thrive in fields normally dominated by men.
Incorporating the Asteroid Goddesses into the chart, then, helps fill in the picture sketched by the planets and angles. If we look at someone who in a legendary way, functioned as a kind of goddess during her lifetime, we can see how this works. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was born with Juno just 4 degrees from her Ascendant. Her name alone tells us that her identity was largely established by her marriage to two very powerful men, President John F. Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis. With Ceres conjunct Jupiter, the greater benefic, in Gemini, we know that she deeply loved being a mother and was an inventive and fun-loving parent. With Ceres in her 8th house, however, she lost two children during her lifetime, one stillborn and the other a few days after his birth. With Vesta in her 9th house, we know that as a single person, she studied languages and traveled overseas, and was dedicated to bringing other cultures into the White House as First Lady. With Vesta in the privacy-loving sign of Cancer, she fervently protected her children from the public and even lived on an isolated island in Greece for a time. With the lively and intelligent Pallas conjunct Uranus in Aries in her sixth house of work, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis surprised everyone by going back to work in her empty nest years, working as a book editor.
But this feminine energy also functions in men’s charts, just as women experience the masculine energy of the planets in their lives. President Joe Biden, for example, has the same Juno conjunct his Ascendant in Sagittarius. He is known publicly as someone who tragically lost his wife, and his second wife, a teacher, is such a dominant force in his life that he often refers to himself as “Jill’s husband.” Both Vesta and Pallas Athene are in Aquarius in his third house. He surrounds himself with female advisors, and his sister was his first campaign manager and chief of staff. Most heartbreaking is the Ceres positioned at his IC. In his life, he has mourned the loss of two children, one to an accident and one to cancer, and like Ceres, he had to pick up and move forward with his life, carrying the grief with him.
While there is much rich meaning to be derived from studying the original seven planets in our chart and the three outer planets, considering the position and roles of these four asteroid goddesses as well as other asteroids can color in some detail and remind us that we all are healthier, happier human beings when we can embrace both the masculine and the feminine traits of our nature.