Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Eris - possible meanings

NB Highlighted phrases describe qualities attributed to Eris

So what does Eris represent in astrology? Well, the matter's not really settled yet but a number of suggestions have been put forward. Looking at events around the time of her discovery paints a very bleak picture, but no planet is entirely bad (or good, for that matter). If we look at what was happening around the time of Pluto's discovery, we find a similar picture – financial collapse, gangsters and the emergence of a pernicious ideology that ended in a world war, yet now we associate Pluto with death and renewal. Perhaps the scum has to rise to the surface before we can move on to something more positive. We can be certain that Eris is not a peaceful and tranquil energy – she's provocative, disruptive, contrary and polarising. So how can that be a good thing? By spurring us on. She's the grit in the oyster, the hat pin that provokes a reaction when you sit on it ... and so on.

Let's take a look at what's been happening since we became aware of Eris. It starts off very dark but bear with me, because there are glimmers of hope even in the darkest of events, and I'm going to end on a positive note.

Events following the discovery of Eris are strangely similar to the ones for Pluto: a financial crash, terrorists rather than gangsters and the rise of a pernicious ideology ... but I'm going to focus on the Middle East because, unsurprisingly, Eris' footprints are all over it. First, though, I want to mention two other things that are relevant to the time Eris was discovered. The first is the unrest in the Caucasus and the Chechen Black Widows – women terrorists who, between 2002 and 2004, took part in attacks (Moscow Theatre and Beslan School sieges) involving hostages that ended in many deaths. They were the only groups of women to do so, as far as I can tell and seemed like a graphic illustration of Eris in warrior mode, to me. The other is the number of extreme weather events since 2004, starting with the Asian tsunami just days before Eris was identified as a planet and continuing through Hurricane Katrina, the Haitian earthquake, the Japanese earthquake/tsunami and Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2013. These events come under the heading of faceless, impersonal and uncompromising forces that destroy indiscriminatelythe former for a political cause and the latter as an ecological backlash because of how we're treating the planet. Eris is prominent in all their charts.

Before looking at recent events in the Middle East, we need to take a look at one that's approaching its centenary. At the end of the First World War the then-imperial powers of Britain and France carved up the land of the old Ottoman Empire to their advantage and with no regard for the people who actually lived there. Promises made to certain groups of people, like the Kurds and the Arabs, weren't kept. This agreement, which is known as the Middle East Mandate, is at the heart of what's going on today. The chart for the signing of the mandate has Eris in a prominent position. 

(Click to enlarge)
 
We move on to 2001, close enough to Eris' discovery to be within orb. The destruction of the World Trade Centre (whoever you think was responsible for it) was the equivalent of the apple that Eris rolled into the wedding feast. It set in motion a train of events that led to the invasion of Iraq, the emergence of Islamic State and their declaration of the Caliphate. Eris is strong in these charts, but perhaps the most interesting is the one for the Iraq War, especially when compared to that of the Middle East Mandate. Eris, on the Midheaven of the mandate chart, is almost exactly conjunct the Sun in the start of war chart. Eris plays a long game, just as she did at her discovery.

(Click to enlarge)


Eris is also about the way we treat The Otherthe dispossessed, refugees, the disenfranchised, social outcasts, the enemy; and also about the resentment of the excluded, which has been building for at least a century in various parts of the Middle East. We have to accept our part in the creation of Islamic State, because it didn't come from nowhere. It sprang from our colonial past. However terrible their actions seem to us, they're the result of decades of resentment and frustration. If we refuse to listen to other people's grievances, we shouldn't be surprised if they do whatever it takes to make us sit up and take notice. Also relevant here is the so-called Migrant Crisis. In the few years since Eris was discovered, we've messed up Iraq, Libya and Syria and now we're getting huffy because people there have had enough and are making their way to Europe. This shows us other aspects of Eris, namely the will to survive and facing life in the rawas millions of people have been forced to do. The trickle of people crossing the Mediterranean became a flood last summer as we approached the Jupiter-Neptune opposition. Eris was linked to this by a semi-square to Neptune, and Amy Shapiro (see below) says 'at the extreme, Eris-Neptune aspects have seen times of waves of immigration, and displaced populations facing the circumstances of living in exile' (p 137). For months the public mood towards migrants, and even drowning migrants, ranged from indifference to hostility. The narrative was that Britain was full up; we didn't want these people coming over and stealing our jobs and our houses, and claiming our benefits … all the usual stuff you hear from politicians and press. 
 
(Click to enlarge)

Then at the beginning of September, the body of a child, Alan Kurdi, was washed up on a Turkish beach and a press photographer took a photo of him, lying at the water's edge. That photo changed everything. It went round the world instantly through social media and suddenly people woke up to what was happening. They started to demand action from their governments and when it wasn't forthcoming, they took action themselves, driving refugees across borders, offering them places in their homes and so on. The ice in people's hearts had melted, I believe, because the 'migrants' were no longer the faceless Other. They were families, just like their own, and they were suffering. This is another Eris attribute: she moves us beyond our self-important and isolated ego and the fortress mentality it fosters. Now, something interesting was happening astrologically during this period. Jupiter and Neptune had moved into opposition from mid-August but for just the first three days of September a Thor's Hammer formed around that opposition, made up of a Jupiter-Sun conjunction which formed sesquiquadrates to an Eris-Ceres square with Neptune at the midpoint.  

(Click to enlarge)

 Rael and Rudhyar (see below) describe this configuration as a challenge to concrete action that answers a pressing social or evolutionary need (p 124). Briefly, Ceres is about the body and survival issues, while Eris is about the soul and what motivates us. The Moon, only fleetingly part of the configuration, is about the emotions the photograph of the child evoked. Neptune – on the tension point of the Hammer – calls on us to find our humanity, while Eris demands justice for the disenfranchised. Uranus is the instantaneous transmission of the image and the Jupiter-Sun conjunction, on the Ascendant, explains why it had such a massive impact. It shifted something in our psyche and put us in touch with our humanity again.


Are you starting to see how Eris is not all bad? You may question her methods, but don't blame her for having to prod us into action – we don't like moving out of our comfort zone. Nimbyism is, alas, much more prevalent than altruism, and usually something has to break before we can expand into something greater, just as a shell has to break before a chick can emerge. In the case of Alan Kurdi, it was our hard-heartedness, or small-mindedness, that cracked open. We realised our similarities to those fleeing were more important than our differences. This, I think, takes us to the crux of Eris: she's about our soul purpose. And if we want to let our soul shine through, we have to curb the worst excesses of our ego, whose mission is to keep things exactly as they are. We could call individuals who let that happen spiritual warriors or paradigm shifters. It's not an easy path to tread, it can be a lonely one and you have to be able to cope with rejection and ridicule – and much worse, in some cases. Take Malala Yousafzai, for example. She was actually named after a Pashtun warrior woman. Her father encouraged her from an early age, believing her to be special in some way. By the age of ten she was speaking out for education rights, especially for girls, after the Taliban moved into the Swat Valley, where she lived, and stopped girls attending school. By the time she was 14, she was planning to organise the Malala Educational Foundation, to help poor girls go to school. She received death threats, and was shot in the head on 9 October 2012. She survived the attack, was flown to England for treatment where she's lived ever since, along with her family. The Taliban had failed spectacularly in their attempt to silence her, as the following year, on her 16th birthday, Malala spoke at the UN as advocate for worldwide access to education. And on 10 October 2014, almost exactly two years after the assassination attempt, she was named co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (shared with Kailash Satyarthi) – the youngest ever Nobel laureate at the age of 17. 

(Click to enlarge)
 
Malala has a strongly aspected Eris, with several aspects including ones to the Sun, Moon and Mars and another Thor's Hammer, made up of Eris-Saturn square Sun, sesquiquadrate Pluto – which is pretty powerful stuff. Would she have received as much recognition if she'd remained in the Swat Valley and completed her education? We won't ever know. But circumstances forced her to break with her old life, and allowed her soul purpose to shine through. Malala clearly knows what she's come here to do and I think she's just the first. Once the children of the Noughties reach maturity I reckon we'll see a lot of them rising to the challenge that Eris presents.



Suggestions for further reading

I drew on these books for what I've written above

Le Grice, Keiron (2012) Discovering Eris: The symbolism and significance of a new planetary archetype Edinburgh: Floris Books

Seltzer, Henry (2015) The Tenth Planet: Revelations from the Astrological Eris Bournemouth: Wessex Astrologer

Shapiro, Amy (2014) Inviting Eris to the Party New Age Sages


Plus (for aspect patterns):

Rael, Leyla and Rudhyar, Dane (1980) Astrological Aspects: A Process-Oriented Approach Santa Fe: Aurora Press





Saturday, 16 January 2016

Eris - background information

Eris is a dwarf planet which doesn't seem to have registered much in astrological consciousness yet, but I think that might change soon because we're approaching a major encounter between Eris and one of the outer planets. It feels like there's something of the Dance of the Seven Veils about Eris. Photographed on 21 October 2003, she wasn't identified as a possible planet until 5 January 2005. There was further delay in announcing her discovery, on 29 July 2005, and her name, on 13 September 2006. And of course, during this process she managed to get Pluto demoted from full planet status to dwarf, on 24 August 2006. 
Mike Brown
Even her naming was problematic. The team that discovered her gave her a working name of Xena, after a television character. They couldn't put that name forward because the organisation that decides these things wanted the new object to have a classical name. Mike Brown (leader of the team that discovered her) wanted to call her Persephone but there was already an asteroid with that name. He also toyed with the idea of naming her Lila, a name very similar to that of his recently born daughter. Given the chaos she caused along the way, my money's on the planet herself holding out for the name Eris, which belongs to the goddess of strife and discord.

Actually, 'strife and discord' is a rather simplistic way of looking at Eris. She goes much, much deeper than that. Deeper and darker than Pluto, I'll wager, especially now we know Pluto has a heart. Joking aside, now that Pluto's helmet of invisibility has been removed, will our relationship to him change? 
 
Pluto showing us his heart

In myth there are two Erises, with completely different genealogies. One is daughter of Zeus and Hera, and sister of Mars, and she seems to be the more warlike of the two. The other is much more interesting and possibly much more ancient. She's the daughter of Nyx and Erebus (Night and Darkness), or in some versions, of Nyx alone. Hesiod tells us that this Eris is 'kinder to men.' There might also be a connection between Venus and Eris, as light and dark sisters, though it doesn't figure in Greco-Roman mythology. We see it in the ancient Sumerian account of the descent of the Goddess Inanna to the Underworld to visit her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld. Inanna is stripped bare and brought low during her descent, then killed when she reaches her sister's kingdom. Inanna's corpse is hung on a peg and left to rot ... though she is, of course, reborn and returns to the upper world. It's a story that comes down to us in folk songs like Cruel Sister, where the rivalry between dark and fair sister spills over into murder, with the fair sister eventually being vindicated. 
 
Cruel Sister

The story most often associated with Eris is the one about the apple of discord. This shows how one small slight can spiral out of control, with devastating consequences. Eris wasn't invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis – after all, who wants the goddess of strife at their wedding?

But Eris isn't easily thwarted. Unseen by the other guests, she rolled a beautiful golden apple bearing the words 'For the fairest' into the room where all the guests were partying. It landed at the feet of the goddesses Hera, Athene and Aphrodite and each of them coveted it. Zeus, immediately recognising the danger to himself in having to decide which goddess should be judged the fairest, delegated the task to Paris, a Trojan prince. The goddesses tried to bribe him, Hera by offering him kingdoms, Athene by offering him wisdom and skill in warfare and Aphrodite by offering him the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris chose Aphrodite's gift and awarded her the apple. The only problem was that Helen, the woman in question, was already married – to the king of Sparta. The Greeks subsequently formed an expedition to retrieve Helen from Troy, which developed into the Trojan War and ultimately the destruction of Troy.

There are echoes of this myth in later tales like Snow White, with the wicked stepmother's 'Mirror, mirror on the wall … who is the fairest of them all?' and her gift of the poisoned apple. And in Sleeping Beauty we have the thirteenth fairy who isn't invited to the christening because thirteen's an unlucky number; so she turns up uninvited and lays a curse on the young princess. So Eris is no stranger to us.

Finally, a few vital statistics for Eris. Her cycle is about 560 years and very elliptical, to the extent that she spends nearly half of it in just three signs – Pisces, Aries and Taurus. She's at her slowest in Aries, taking about 125 years to move through it – that's about one degree every five years. She first entered Aries in 1922 and remains there until 2044, so almost everyone alive today will have Eris in Aries. Her last perihelion was in 1699, when she was nearly 38 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun. That's 38 times further than we are, because an AU is our distance from the Sun – 93 million miles. She was at aphelion in 1978, 97.5 AU from the Sun. Pluto, by way of comparison, is just under 30 AU at perihelion and nearly 49 AU at aphelion. As well as having an elongated orbit, she's also steeply inclined to the ecliptic: most planets lie within 8o of the ecliptic, Pluto used to be the most eccentric with a 17o inclination but Eris is more extreme, at 45o. That means she isn't bound to the zodiac so, just to add to her formidable reputation, for almost all of her time in Aries she's actually among the stars of Cetus – the monster from the deep. Eris is an orbit-crosser, spending part of her orbit within that of Pluto. She has one known moon, Dysnomia (Lawlessness).

Eris and Dysnomia

So what does Eris represent in a horoscope? I'll take a look at this in my next post.


Monday, 23 November 2015

Oldham By-Election

THE OLDHAM BY-ELECTION taking place on 3 Dec 2015:  a prediction (finalised on 15 November). 

By Richard Burch


On 21 October, the long-standing Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, Michael Meacher, died at the age of 75. Meacher was one of a small number of MPs both to nominate and vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the recent leadership contest. Both men had been followers of Tony Benn in his day. The writ for this by-election was moved quickly by Labour - before Meacher was even laid to rest - in order to stop UKIP building up momentum among voters.


THE START OF POLL and CLOSE OF POLL CHARTS (3 DECEMBER)



In the Start of Poll Chart (above), Mars, ruler of the first (representing the tenant of the seat - Labour) is very weak in terms of essential dignities. It rates minus 10 and peregrine, the lowest by far of all seven traditional planets. In the Close Chart (below) Labour is ruled by the Sun, but it too is weak - minus 5 and peregrine. The primary opposition, UKIP (shown first by Venus then by Saturn in the two charts) scores 5 and 3 points respectively. 

In the Start Chart, Mars cannot make any aspect with Mercury (10th ruler, the office of MP), the sextile having occurred 7 degrees earlier (measuring to 7 weeks previously, to Meacher's last days as MP). Nor is the Moon of any help as co-ruler of the 10th, as she makes no major aspect to Mars. (Moon cannot co-rule the 1st as then she would also have to co-rule the 7th in this contest between equals.) The Moon symbolises the electorate and shows that goodwill towards Labour can’t be relied on to survive post-Meacher. The Mercury-Jupiter mutual reception cannot be switched around to any advantage. But nor can Venus (for the opposition) perfect any aspect with Mercury either (Venus leaves its sign first). However, Venus is trine Fortuna (votes) and this may aid UKIP a little.




In the Close Chart, the same thing applies for Labour as before - the Sun cannot make any aspect with Venus (10th ruler), and the Moon as 10th co-ruler is too far forward in its sign to be of any help. For the opposition, Saturn can't aspect Venus, and yet again the Moon can't help. Saturn is square Neptune, the meaning of which is uncertain here.


INITIAL JUDGEMENT

Judged purely on the relative strengths of the significators in both charts, it seems the opposition party, UKIP, will take the seat.

However, if the Moon is allowed to be ascendant co-ruler then Labour may well win, though by a reduced majority (Moon in the Start Chart immediately squares Sun, then on to square Mercury). But I'm far from convinced this rule applies.

Mulling it over, I decided on 9 November to ask a horary question - 'Will Labour win Oldham?' I thought it would probably be inconclusive - but I drew up the chart.


WILL LABOUR WIN OLDHAM? (First Horary)



The Labour candidate I'm concerned with - Jim McMahon, leader of the local council - is an undesignated person to me, so shown this time by the seventh house (ruler Venus). The tenth from the seventh (i.e. the fourth) is ruled by Jupiter, with secondary ruler Neptune on the cusp. There is no Venus-Jupiter aspect, nor a Venus-Neptune one. Allowing the Moon (19 LIB 52) to co-rule the seventh is equally fruitless. She is void of course - nothing will come of it. Labour will not win. The principal opponent (John Bickley for UKIP) is shown by Mars. There is no aspect to Mercury (his tenth house ruler), so he is not shown positively to win. But on the strengths of the main significations, Mars rates 7 and Venus 5 - just enough to give UKIP the edge.

But of course Serpentis rises, just one minute from the exact New Moon degree this Wednesday (19 SCO 01). Maybe it's showing my judgement to be faulty. Or there will be some disastrous upset at this election, for one party or another.

Serpentis primarily affects the principal opposition party (shown by the first), UKIP. It also happens to be the Tory Party’s Ascendant - but they're barely in the running this time. They came just third at the general election (Lab 55%, UKIP 20%, Con 19%), and it would be an extraordinary result if they won now. But times are rather extraordinary…

So after some days, on 15 November, I decided to put the question again, slightly differently, as ‘Who will win Oldham? This is the chart:


WHO WILL WIN OLDHAM? (Second Horary)



Labour is seen here as nominal tenant of the seat until or unless displaced - hence shown by the ascendant (ruled by Jupiter). UKIP is shown by the descendant (Mercury), and the office of MP by the tenth (Venus). The Moon (electorate) is in the first, and will rise in 16 degrees (day's) time, just before the election, seemingly to support Labour. But she is weak in Capricorn, and it's an intercepted sign, so the electorate will barely manage to 'do their duty' by Labour. Fortuna (most votes) is also in the first, on Corbyn's natal Jupiter, but a long way from the horizon in a third sign.

The Moon acts to translate the light from Venus (by square) to Jupiter (by trine). But she must make a conjunction with Pluto first, and this may seriously affect the outcome in terms of missing votes. (Pluto, along with Saturn, is a ‘natural’ ruler of the Conservatives.) Additionally she also then squares Uranus, perhaps with further unexpected result. This just possibly suggests a Tory victory!

For UKIP (Mercury), the obvious conclusion is that the imminent combustion with the Sun spells disaster (along with the presence of Serpentis rising in the first Horary). It could hardly be worse. Expectations within the party have run very high, so the fall will be all the more painful. Yes, the light of Venus is eventually translated by the Moon by sextile to Mercury - but it's far too late. It's gone to Jupiter already. Taken together with the unpromising start- & close-of-poll charts, I've arrived at this judgement: 


FINAL JUDGEMENT

Neither side will do very well, but Labour will hold the seat with a much reduced majority - perhaps only just. It will be a disappointment for Corbyn and his circle, and will not subdue his critics for long. His position as party leader will come under even more pressure.

For UKIP, already fractured, it will be seen as a massive disappointment, particularly as their candidate recently came so close to winning the neighbouring seat of Heywood in the general election. They may even come third behind the Tories. Farage's position as party leader will come under yet more pressure, and he may finally quit in order to concentrate wholly on his own EU referendum campaign.

This explains the presence of Serpentis as 'a plague on both houses', but bearing more heavily upon UKIP (i.e. the ascendant).


THE NEW MOON

A week after the by-election, the New Moon (19 SAG 03) falls exactly on the second horary chart's ascendant. Confirmation of a new start for Labour, perhaps …but in what sense? In horary tradition the New Moon is regarded as highly malefic…