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The Mythology, Psychology and Astrology of the Re-emerging Feminine
By Demetra George, Douglas Bloch
NICOLAS-HAYS, INC.Copyright © 2003 Demetra George
All rights reserved.
THE ASTEROIDS — AGENTS OF TRANSFORMATION
The Asteroids and Cultural Transformation
From a historical perspective the discoveries, naming, and recognition of planetary bodies in outer space has coincided with leaps in the evolution of human consciousness and corresponding cultural changes. For example, just before and after the discovery of Uranus, planet of equality and freedom, in 1781, humanity witnessed the American and French Revolutions. When Neptune, planet of mysticism and illusion, was discovered in 1846, idealist movements such as transcendentalism and spiritualism emerged. In 1930 with the sighting of Pluto, planet of mass transformation, the awakening of a sense of collective welfare and the dawning of the Atomic Age brought humanity face-to-face with a choice of life or death. The discovery of each new outer body indicated that humanity was ready to activate and integrate the archetypal principle inherent in the mythology of that planet. As we shall see, the same process is occurring through the discovery of the asteroids.
The asteroids, a belt of planetary bodies largely between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, were discovered in the early 1800s. The first four sighted were named after the great goddesses of antiquity: Ceres, Pallas Athene, Juno and Vesta. Mythologically, these goddesses were co-equivalent in rank with the gods Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto. Vesta, Ceres, and Juno were the three sisters of Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, all born from the union of the Titan god Saturn (Cronus) and Rhea. Pallas Athene, the favorite daughter of the new sky god Jupiter, was conceived by himself and birthed from his head. Symbolically, these four asteroids represent aspects of the archetypal feminine principle that are now emerging into mass consciousness. (An archetype is a universal thought form, prototype, primordial pattern, deeply imprinted in the collective human psyche.)
Before the use of the asteroids, the only significators of the feminine in traditional chart interpretation were the Moon and Venus. The socially acceptable roles for women were the Moon as mother and Venus as mate. This began to change when the first four feminine named asteroids were discovered in the nineteenth century as the women's movement, led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, sought to increase women's participation in society. These seeds did not bear fruit, however, until the early 1970s at the same time that Eleanor Bach published the first asteroid ephemeris. At this point, the new aspects of feminine expression fully entered into the consciousness of humanity. Women became imbued with the seed possibilities of feminine creativity and intelligence that transcended the traditional roles of mother and wife. Consequently, society saw the widespread entrance of women into the fields of politics, arts, education, sports, and other professional careers. It also marked a time of the rediscovery of women's history and the revival of the Goddess in women's spirituality.
Eleanor Bach, the woman who published the asteroid ephemeris, stated,
Women are saying today, we are not just vehicles of pleasure (Venus), or emotional weather vanes, utterly dominated by our menstrual cycles (Moon). What about our resourcefulness, our productivity, our ingenuity, efficiency, our nurturing concern for life, our capacity for dedication, our humanity?
Ceres, Pallas Athene, Juno, and Vesta represent these new voices of the dormant feminine, recently activated and now demanding power, recognition, justice, and equality in our society.
It is important to emphasize that this phenomenon is not solely limited to women. The awakening of new aspects of feminine expression has had an equally profound effect on men. As women are altering their traditional role expressions, men are developing new responses to the transformed women. Old patterns are no longer acceptable, and new sets of expectations and roles are now required of them.
In the past, men had projected their feminine qualities of emotion, nurturance, and sensitivity onto women. With the recent activation of the feminine centers represented by the asteroids, men have been pressured and encouraged to both "own" and develop these qualities. Consequently, an increasing number of men have rejected the "macho" stereotype image and have acknowledged and expressed their intuitive and feeling selves. Men are now moving into traditional women's territory through their roles as house husbands, nurses, telephone operators, and secretaries. Men have also increased their involvement in the raising of their children, as well as sharing prenatal childbirth training and assisting in the birth process. This emerging participation has prompted men to request and be awarded custody of their children — a previously unacceptable option — and to apply as single male parents for child adoption. The increase in homosexuality is another forefront area of men's liberation where the acknowledgment and expression of the feminine polarity has surfaced in many men.
On a level that goes beyond male and female, the upsurge of the feminine has become the foundation of the general consciousness-expansion movement that is reflected in the human brain. Psychologists define the mind as having left- and right-brain functions. The left brain organizes and structures information within a linear conceptual frame of reference. This rational logical activity is the masculine or yang polarity and has been most prevalent in the analytical, technological intellectualism of modern times. The right brain, on the other hand, accesses and processes information which is based on experiences that have no causal relationship. It has been called the intuitive, artistic, and relational part of the brain — the feminine or yin polarity. During the last decade, we have witnessed an emergence of right-brain functions in the disciplines of holistic health, healing, education and therapy, and increased psychic awareness.
The Asteroids and Planetary Transformation
The asteroids correspond to the feminine archetype embodied in their mythological namesakes. In essence, the feminine relates to the all-pervading force in the universe which receives, gestates, and gives birth to life. On a global level the discovery of the asteroids points to the birth pangs that humanity is now experiencing as we approach the Aquarian Age.
Aquarius is the sign of group consciousness and planetary awareness. We are presently in a period that astrologers call the Cusp of the Ages. This transition between the Piscean and Aquarian Ages is a time of intense transformation. During this phase, the basic energy of the former 2200-year cycle is changing over into the energy of the latter. To better understand how this transformation works, imagine that the energy which constitutes our experience of history travels in a wave we call time. During cusp periods, a shift occurs in the amplitude and frequency of the wave (see Figure 1-1). Just as the ocean has the cyclic rhythm of waves, history has cycles. As certain multiples of ocean waves are exceptionally large ones, so, at certain periods in history, we get an "extra big" wave of change — known as a quantum leap. This shift in intensity is experienced by society as an increase in pressure, tension, and the rate of change until enough energy is generated to provoke a quantum shift in consciousness.
This phenomenon is producing marked changes in our social order and paving the way for new cultural experiences. Not only astrologers but philosophers and theorists of human potential are proposing that humanity is on the brink of a quantum leap in consciousness. For example, the computer (ruled by Aquarius) is heralding an information explosion that is physically affecting the human brain's capacity to process information. Up until now, humans had perhaps 13% of their brain cells in active use. With this information explosion, some people are beginning to process information at a rate which is far greater than the brain's present ability. They are "awakening" new centers which in turn builds neuronal patterns of thought on the electrochemical level that increase the brain's capacity for psychic awareness. These changes and new centers in brain functioning correspond to the emergence of the asteroids into human consciousness.
We are living in historic times of global transformation. As we come closer to the Age of Aquarius, humanity as a whole will experience the opportunity to become reborn into collective awareness. During this time we can realize the Aquarian ideals of brotherhood, sisterhood, and planetary family (or the Aquarian confusion of anarchy, chaos, and headlong rush into the new without a sensible incorporation of the old; excessive emphasis on individuality which denies the connection to others).
Emotional transformative crises are changing our psychospiritual vibrations so that we may attune our individual frequency to the spiritual core which resonates with the whole of creation. The positions of Ceres, Pallas Athene, Juno, and Vesta in our charts describe a personal way whereby we can effect this change.
That is why there is such a crucial need today for good therapists and counselors; we are in a transitional stage of history. And, astrologers need the asteroids because the traditional planets simply do not and cannot fully explain the issues which are emerging — simply because they are new. (It is true that some individuals in the past have gone through these issues in a limited way, but not on such a mass level as now.) The very fact that issues about the balance between the feminine and the masculine are important to many people now, makes the transformation both an individual and societal issue.
The Asteroids as Agents of Personal Transformation
The essence of the feminine principle is symbolized by the moon. As the motion of the physical moon is cyclical in nature, phases of waxing and waning affecting the ebbs and flows of the tides, so essential teachings of the asteroid goddesses relate to the cycle of coming and going. This is also known as the cycle of transformation. Not only do the asteroids relate to new archetypal principles that are currently being activated and integrated into the psyche, but also they serve as active agents in the transformative process of individuals.
The asteroids function as links between personal and collective awareness. This relationship manifests through three symbolic systems: the cycle of zodiacal signs, the planetary positions in the solar system, and the constellations of the stars.
1) The first mode occurs through the cycle of signs of the zodiac. On an esoteric level, the cycle describes the growth and development of human consciousness. This evolutionary process begins in Aries with the birth of individualized awareness — "I" as a separate, unique, free entity — and ends in Pisces with the intuitive awareness that the individual is a cellular component of a greater whole. The intermediate signs describe the progressive stages from Aries to Pisces.
In the first five personal signs, the germinal life spark of Aries manifests through the physical body in Taurus, the mental body in Gemini, the emotional body in Cancer, and finds its fulfillment in the creative expression and reproductive power of Leo. The last four collective signs — Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces describe the individual functioning within the context of the larger society. Sagittarius provides access to collective knowledge, Capricorn to participation in collective structures, Aquarius to collective ideals and visions, and Pisces to the compassion and empathy that arise from the experience of oneness.
The intermediary signs Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio are the transitional signs of the transformative process that bring a person from individualized consciousness (Aries-Leo) into collective consciousness (Sagittarius-Pisces).
In Virgo the evolving entity perfects and integrates itself so that it may enter into the sign of partnership, Libra, as a whole and complete individual. In Libra the person becomes aware of the other for the first time. Communication that leads to sustained interaction is the groundwork for the final transmutation in Scorpio, where the personal sense of "I" dies and totally submerges, interpenetrates, and unifies with the other. The union of "I" into "we" becomes the gateway into the collective awareness symbolized by Sagittarius (see Figure 1-2).
The asteroids Ceres, Pallas Athene, Juno, and Vesta have strong rulership associations with the transitional signs Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio. Therefore, we may postulate that they function as the active agents in these signs that facilitate the transformation from individual to collective awareness.
2) The second symbolic mode of human unfoldment occurs through the planets of the solar system. The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Moon, and Mars are known as the personal planets because they rule the personal qualities of identity, intellect, values, emotions and drives. Jupiter and Saturn function as the social planets, signifying the ethics and laws by which a society operates. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are the universal planets or ambassadors of the galaxy, vibrating to large-scale cosmic forces. The asteroids mostly occupy the belt between Mars and Jupiter, thereby forming a physical and spiritual bridge that links the personal to the social and collective (see Figure 1-3).
3) The final mode uses the constellations of the stars to diagram the evolutionary process. In particular the two snake constellations Serpens and Hydra run along each side of the constellation groups associated with the asteroids — Virgo, Libra and Scorpio. The snake, often associated with the goddesses Ceres, Pallas Athene, Juno, and Vesta, has long existed as a primary symbol of feminine transformative power (see Figure 1-4).
Thus in all three systems — the cycle of the signs, the planets of the solar system, and the stellar constellations — the asteroids Ceres, Pallas Athene, Juno and Vesta and their corresponding signs Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio form the stages of the transformative process from the personal to the collective.
Today, activation of the feminine psychic centers is causing the release of a great amount of unconscious archetypal material in both men and women. Unfortunately, the prior repression of the feminine principle throughout recorded history is affecting the way in which this material is being released. Imagine that a ray of light is filtered through a smudged, dirty windowpane. When we look through the window, the obstructions prevent us from seeing a clear image. So it is with our pictures and images of the feminine nature. Suppression has created twisted beliefs and attitudes through which the pure power of the feminine is filtered. Thus we have interpreted our experiences and created our concepts of the feminine based upon these unrecognized and blurry distortions.
Because of the power of subliminal conditioning, modern men and women tend to live out these distorted archetypal forms. Classical Juno is an excellent example. The story is told that Juno is a jealous and vindictive wife. This encourages women to look upon members of their own sex as potential threats or rivals. It also promoted the belief that men feel a sense of territoriality, ownership and possession toward "their" women, causing men to feel distrustful of other men. Juno (or Hera as she was known in earlier times) had been the special goddess of women and had promoted feminine bonding among them. How ironic that this feeling of special connection with the same sex has been distorted into jealousy, competitiveness, and suspicion. (We will discover why when we explore Juno's mythology.) The psychic energy of the archetype is now locked into a distorted mental image ("false god"). The breaking of the idol can liberate the true archetypal force within. One way this can occur is through the process of transformation — an experience that we shall now explore in greater detail.
THE THREE STAGES OF PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION
In any transformative process, a certain force or momentum is needed to overcome the existing inertia and propel us to the next spiral of the evolutionary cycle. As indicated in Figure 1-1, the planetary evolution of the changing of ages receives its momentum through the intensification of the wave vibration of psychic energy. Likewise in personal transformation the momentum is produced through a compression of the emotions.
Let us employ the analogy of taking a coil and pushing it down tightly until it has acquired enough tension to spring forward. This intensification or compressing action is the first stage of the transformative process and is symbolized by the asteroid Vesta whose energy of self-containment pulls us inward. We experience Vesta on the psychological level as the compression of our emotions. This often produces the experience of "hitting bottom" through separation, loss, grief, pain, despair, failure, frustration, and rejection.
Excerpted from Asteroid Goddesses by Demetra George, Douglas Bloch. Copyright © 2003 Demetra George. Excerpted by permission of NICOLAS-HAYS, INC..
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