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. 

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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.

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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. 
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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.  

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 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. 

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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

1 comment:

Chrissy Philp said...

I found this in depth study so interesting. Thank you Moragh. Jessica Adams gave a talk at the Bath Forum at the beginning of this month. I am getting more and more interested in these powerful little bodies of mass in our solar system.