As I wrote earlier this week and most people already know, the International Astronomical Union is meeting this week to discuss reclassifying our solar system, and adding three new planets under the category of “Plutons” to accompany our old friend Pluto. The three new planets are Ceres, Charon, and 2003 UB313 (temporarily nicknamed “Xena”). Because the astrological Pluto deals with the transformation that comes from looking death in the eye and annhilation of the personal ego, it stands to reason that the reclassification of the “Plutons” could open a door to how this process operates.

The last “planet” to be discovered in our lifetime was the comet/planetoid Chiron, and it took some time for its astrological signficance to become known. Through the magic of synchronicity, the name of the planet itself reveals the god whose energy manifests through that planet.

Ceres was the first asteroid discovered in 1801, and it briefly enjoyed planetary status before being classified as an asteroid (meaning “star-like”). (The fact that there already exists an asteroid called Demeter complicates the interpretation of the story somewhat since Ceres and Demeter are often used interchangeably). Ceres is the Roman name for the Greek goddess Demeter, ruling agriculture, sustenance and motherhood. Ceres is best known for the disappearance of her daughter Proserpine/Persephone into the underworld of Hades/Pluto, during which she created a perpetual winter until her daughter was returned.

Astrologers are already arguing over what sign Ceres will rule. Until Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were discovered, the twelve signs each had a planetary ruler but a few of the signs had to share that ruler with another sign. For example, Mars is the ruler of Aries, but it also was the ruler of Scorpio (Pluto is considered the modern ruler of Scorpio). The addition of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto each gave us an added dimension to the human experience: Uranus added the dimension of individual freedom and liberty that drove the revolutionary period of the late 1700s after its discovery. Neptune brought with it a spiritual experience that went beyond religion and a heightened degree of creativity in art, introducing spiritualism, seances, and “modern” art including impressionism, as well as the Romantic period (Neptune rules romance as well) in music. Pluto, god of death and transformation that occurs by entering the underworld and returning in a different form, introduced the atomic bomb which threatened the very survival of mankind and the field of psychology which transforms from within.

When Chiron was discovered, many astrologers believed that Chiron should be associated with Sagittarius since Chiron was a centaur and the symbol for Sag is the centaur; however, in working with Chiron in the charts and considering his archetype as the healer with the wound that will not heal it was clear that Chiron was more closely related to Virgo. Like Virgo, Chiron sought perfection in life through learning (Virgo’s association with the planet Mercury) and serving others. Sometimes astrological associations disdain the obvious. So with Ceres, some astrologers want to place Ceres as Virgo’s ruler.

Ceres has long been associated with Virgo, perhaps because Ceres was an unmarried woman (virgin in those days meant merely unmarried, not celibate). However, it appears to me that Ceres is more properly associated with Cancer. The myth of Ceres shows a fiercely protective mother, willing to sacrifice the good of her people for the sake of her daughter. This is a trait that we would not find with Virgo, who is oriented towards the service of others. It IS, however, a trait we would find in Cancer, the sign of the nurturing maternal instinct. In addition, Ceres was the goddess of agriculture, fecundity and nourishment, and Cancer is the cardinal sign for the summer season, the beginning of the growing season. As the modern ruler of Cancer, Ceres would add a dimension to the protective and action-oriented sign of Cancer that it’s present ruler the Moon does not relate to.

Some astrologers have worked with Ceres for years as an asteroid. Demetra George has a fascinating book called Asteroid Goddesses that you may be interested in – her groundbreaking work on the major asteroids (Ceres, Pallas Athena, Vesta and Juno) added a much-needed feminine dimension to astrology. (Incidentally, Ms. George also considered Ceres as ruling Cancer). In this framework, however, Ceres was only a part of the feminine whole, whereas if she is elected to planetary status Ceres will gain a more powerful stature.

Several people over the past few days have mentioned that perhaps the upgrade of Ceres to planet status is the harbinger of an increased respect for the agricultural process that feeds us. There has been a great deal of news lately regarding the poisons and imbalance in our ecological system (such as genetically modified foods) and a corresponding surge of interest in organic farming, as well as disturbing trends towards labeling foods as organic that don’t meet the highest organic standards. Perhaps Ceres will bring new types of biofuels that can satisfy the energy needs of the next century.

I’ll continue to bring updated information as I can find it. Ceres has already been used extensively in its previous classification as an asteroid by some astrologers. The fascinating thing about the new planets is the synchronicity of the timing of their upgrade. And this, of course, only time will unfold.

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