By Keiron Le Grice
The “Dwarf Planet” Eris, floating in the outer reaches of the solar system where Pluto resides, was discovered in 2005. In 2012, Keiron Le Grice, who had extensively studied archetypal astrology at the California Institute of Integral Studies with Richard Tarnas, wrote a book exploring the meaning of Eris based on its discovery at this particular moment in our planet’s history as well as through mythology and our psychological evolution as a species. Examining how the discovery of the outer planets correlated with times of human growth, Le Grice posits that the outer planets symbolize aspects of ourselves which lie deep within us – just as the outer planets are invisible to us – and these planets are discovered at times when what is unconscious within us emerges into our awareness and then is played out in the world of human striving and progress.
Le Grice traces the connection between the discoveries of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, and the emergence of the archetypal forces in the collective which the planets came to represent (Uranus – the power of the individual to establish autonomy; Neptune – the power of the individual to access the spiritual world; and Pluto – the power of the individual to control the masses, and to delve within to tap into the unconscious). When Eris was discovered in 2005, he writes, the issues dominating our consciousness were global terrorism and the potential for ecological disaster. There were ongoing wars stemming from the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, with other vast natural disasters to follow. At the root of both forces was globalization, he believes, which disenfranchised large numbers of the world’s population, and which increased our dependence on industrial development and fossil fuels, stressing the resources of planet Earth. At the discovery of Eris, we see those left out of development and the disregarded planet itself fighting back against the forces of “progress.”
Le Grice proposes that Eris was discovered at a time when human beings and their civilization have become out of balance with the natural world. In attempting to control nature and make it live by our desires, we have so alienated nature that we are seeing it seek to redress the balance through drastic climate events and the catastrophic effects of global warming. We have feasted on the fruits of our progress, but now the check has arrived, and it is perilously steep. The polarity between our civilization and the natural world is something we must acknowledge, just as we must experience the polarities within ourselves. And once we face this conflict, we can seek a “middle way” which brings us a technological progress which respects our natural world.
Just as in the myth of Eris, Le Grice finds that the archetype of Eris can manifest as mass resentment and retaliation by those who have felt excluded. Because Eris was excluded in the myth, she was able to sow competition and envy among the other goddesses, which would eventually lead to the Trojan War and the fall of Troy. Eris was also able to prey on the most superficial and vain aspects of our egos, just as we today are overriding the needs of our planet to increase our comfort and the speed of modern life. Le Grice believes that seeing the devasting effects of conflict arising in our world is crucial to the path towards resolving the divisions we have created.
Le Grice does not leave us here, though, with the identification of the Eris archetype as conflict based on resentment and injustice. He explores how this conflict serves us as a species. Eventually, he believes, we confront the polarities in our culture to move forward towards a resolution which is not binary or weighted on one side or the other. We find that third way which brings us together as human beings. And it is the hope for this evolutionary path that he holds before us as we confront the ecological challenges facing us.
In his final chapter of the book, Keiron Le Grice explores the possible rulership assignment for Eris. Because Eris is such a large body, and its discovery led to an upset in the established identification of the “planets,” Le Grice believes it has earned its place as the ruler of an astrological sign. Just as modern astrologers consider Uranus, Neptune and Pluto as the rulers of Aquarius, Pisces, and Scorpio respectively, Le Grice would assign Eris to Libra. Mercury and Venus both rule two signs under the modern system. Le Grice suggests Chiron, with its archetypes of work and service, healing, and craftsmanship and practical skills, could rule Virgo, and Eris, with its concerns for fairness, justice, balance, and harmony, fits as a planetary deity for Libra. While the bitter conflicts playing out on our planet are part of the Eris archetype, another significant and overlooked aspect of this archetype is working towards a resolution of these conflicts and moving us collectively toward a more just world.