Asteroids, Lilith, Eris and the Divine Feminine

In working with the Divine Feminine in astrology, many astrologers make use of bodies and points outside of the Traditional planets, such as Eris, Asteroids, or Lilith. I find this practice rather problematic on philosophical grounds, not just as an astrologer, but as a Filianist and devotee of Dea.

I can fully understand feeling the need to find more support for feminine expression within the framework of Western astrology. In the current system, the feminine is treated as synonymous with nocturnal, and in planetary expression is limited to the Moon and Venus.  Furthermore, in modern patriarchal culture, the feminine associations for the Lunar and Venusian principles are devalued and tend to be considered solely in their relation to men. The Lunar principle is often seen as only representing the Mother role, specifically as the Mother of sons, and the Venusian principle is considered as representing the erotic. The Venusian concern for beauty is ridiculed and considered superficial by those who consider themselves feminists, and is viewed solely as a way to attract boyfriends and husbands. Is it any wonder that those seeking the Divine Feminine would seek to look outside this system?

While I do understand why astrologers would look outside the system, I think that this practice concedes too much, and it leads to difficult symbolic and philosophical places.

Asteroids

Asteroids are bodies in the solar system too small to be considered planets. Most of them are found between Mars and Jupiter. Many of the larger asteroids are named for female deities, such as Vesta, Ceres, Juno, and Pallas Athena. Ceres is the largest, and she has been recently promoted to the new classification, dwarf planet. There are many theories for how asteroids formed. A common recent theory is that Jupiter prevented these bodies from coalescing into a planet.  This theory is interesting philosophically in that it seems very much in line with the Patriarchal Revolution.

From what I can tell, most of the associations for these asteroids are positive and affirming; however, all of these associations can be found within the traditional 7 planets, without the need to search for them floating in the asteroid belt.

asteroids

Vesta

The asteroid Vesta is said to be the significator of the hearth fire and our center. However, it is the Sun that is the true hearth fire. Every hearth fire in every home is a microcosm of the Supernal Sun. Our center or our True Heart is a microcosm of the Supernal Sun as well.

Ceres

Ceres is large enough that she is now considered a dwarf planet, and her name is the Romanization of the Greek deity, Demeter. The story of Demeter and her daughter Persephone is one of the great Myths of the death and resurrection of God or Dea. This Mythos is shown in the Wheel of the Year and astrologically in the rhythm of the Solar/Lunar cycle, or the phases of the Moon.

Juno

Juno is seen to represent matters related to love, marriage and commitment. Juno, or Hera in the Greek pantheon, is one of the many female deities that has been named “Queen of Heaven.” She had responsibility for the heavens, the earth, the seasons and the weather. These associations are far too important to be relegated to an asteroid, and they rightly belong to the Moon and Venus.

Pallas Athena

Pallas Athena is said to represent matters of wisdom, intellect, creativity, and skill. The goddess for whom she is named was seen as agent of civilization in Greece. Yet, all of these associations are part of Mercury. Mercury represents Intellect on all levels. Even in the current Western system, Mercury is considered feminine as well as masculine.

As I have said, all of the traits that have been assigned to these asteroids are nice, but they all belong to the Seven Traditional Planets. I consider it a much better, and more empowering, practice to look for the Divine Feminine in the Seven Traditional Planets than in small bodies between Mars and Jupiter that may have been prevented from forming a planet by Jupiter.

Lilith

The qualities that have been assigned to the above four asteroids are positive, and my only issue with them is that I believe they belong to the Seven Traditional planets, not to asteroids. Lilith is an entirely different matter.

The folklore surrounding Lilith is dark and gruesome. In this folklore, she was Adam’s first wife before the creation of Eve. She was supposedly cast aside for failure to submit to Adam and then turned to a demon that killed children.

adam and eveThe story of Lilith does not appear to be true Mythos but a part of Midrash in the Judaic Tradition. Midrash are stories used to provide backstories or explain contradictory information in the official cannon. It seems that the Midrash concerning Lilith was used to resolve the apparent discrepancy between the two Creation narratives. The first Creation narrative says:

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27 NRSV.

This seems to imply that men and women were created at the same time. In the second Creation narrative, Eve was created second from Adam’s rib. According to Midrash, Lilith was Adam’s first wife, and Eve was created after Lilith was cast aside.

There are feminists who have taken Lilith as an empowering symbol, but I think that is unnecessary and dangerous. Whether the demon Lilith exists or not, the symbols we use and imagine have real consequences. They become a part of our Image Sphere.

In astrology, there is an asteroid named Lilith, and Lilith is also used for a point that is called the Black Moon, which is the lunar apogee, or the point where the Moon is the furthest from Earth.

For me, if such an awful signifactor does exist as Lilith would represent, I think it would be best to stay far, far away from it. I certainly would not embrace it as a source of empowerment.

Eris

Eris was discovered on January 5, 2005, and is a little larger than Pluto. This created a great deal of controversy, and eventually led to a new classification known as dwarf planet. Pluto was demoted and the asteroid Ceres was promoted. Since that time, two other bodies have been added to this classification. The mythology surrounding the name Eris is unsavory in a manner similar to Lilith. She is the goddess of discord, and in some stories gave birth to demons such as Algos (pain and sorrow) and Dysnomia (lawlessness).

There are astrologers who are using Eris to represent the Female Warrior.  However, just as I would never embrace Lilith, I have no desire to embrace Eris. Mars is the Warrior and can represent Warriors of either gender.

Summary

In an effort to discover the Divine Feminine and find astrologically empowering symbols, astrologers have turned to asteroids, dwarf planets, and the apogee of the Moon. While the asteroids’ symbols are mostly benign, they are redundant with the associations found in the Traditional 7 Planets. The symbolism surrounding Lilith, either the asteroid or the Moon’s apogee, is dark and frightening and best avoided, and the same can be said for the dwarf planet, Eris.

I think that the Divine Feminine can be found within the regular Tradition and within the Seven Traditional Planets, not just in the Moon and Venus. I see no need to cede the realm of Tradition to patriarchy, and I think it is safer and more empowering to reclaim Tradition than it is look for sources outside of Tradition.

Sleeping Beauty and the Three Faces of Saturn

Like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty is an iconic fairy tale. In the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Classification of Folk Tales, Sleeping Beauty stories are given the classification number 410 and there are at least twenty-two of them throughout the world. I found the French version, which was collected by Charles Perrault, of particular interest.

Saturn, the One Not Invited

In the Perrault version of Sleeping Beauty, seven fairies were invited to the christening of a long awaited princess so that they could give her gifts. As an astrologer, whenever I see the number seven in a story, I immediately look for symbolism with respect to the seven traditional planetary powers. Each of these fairies were given place settings of pure gold, set with diamonds and rubies.

There was also one old fairy who was not invited. According to this version of the story, “She had not left her tower for fifty years, and people believed that she was dead or under a spell.” This description is a classic representation of the planetary power of Saturn. In the material realm, Saturn is the Greater Malefic, and represents the passage of time, as well as isolation, death, and difficulties or curses. Saturn is rarely invited, yet comes into our lives whether we want her or not. While the King made her a place at the table, he did not have a gold place setting for her, and she was insulted.

sleeping beauty christening

When it came time to give the little princess her gifts, one of the fairies held back, suspecting that the older fairy would attempt some mischief. The rest of the fairies gave their gifts.

The youngest gave her the gift that she would be the most beautiful person in the world, the second that she would have the mind like an angel, the third that all of her actions would be admirable, the fourth that she would dance perfectly, the fifth that she would sing like a nightingale, and the sixth, that she would play every musical instrument to perfection.

I believe that the traditional planetary powers are the seven main aspects of the Divine, and that as microcosms of the Divine, humans as Axial Beings have reflections of these powers within ourselves.  I also believe that humans have Free Will, and thus, we can express these powers in an ordinary material fashion, and in their highest and lowest forms. I also believe that each human has a True and a False Self, and that we can manifest True and False versions of all of the planetary powers.

The gifts of the six fairies represent the highest or True versions of their respective planetary powers. Some of the gifts are quite clear. The “mind like an angel” is the gift from Mercury, the ability to “play every musical instrument to perfection” is the gift from Jupiter, and certainty “that all of her actions would be admirable” is the gift from Mars. The other three are a little less clear, however, I would say that the ability to “sing like a nightingale” is the gift from Venus, the ability to “dance perfectly” is the gift from the Moon, and that “she would be the most beautiful person in the world” is the gift from the Sun.

sleeping beauty spindle

Then it was the old fairy’s turn, and she “declared that the Princess would prick her hand on a spindle and die.” After that the fairy in hiding said,

Do not worry, King and Queen, that your daughter shall die: it is true that I do not have enough power to undo entirely what my elder has done. The Princess will prick her hand on a spindle; but instead of dying, she shall only fall into a deep sleep that will last one hundred years. In the end, a king’s son will awaken her.

This is the Saturn principle at its highest. In the material world, Saturn is indeed a malefic. Because we are mortal, in a sense, every life is a tragedy. Suffering and death are always with us. Yet, I believe that there is a higher reality, and True Saturn is the gift of transcendence and Enlightenment. Rather than dying, the princess will sleep and be awakened into a new and better reality.

The Ogress

In the next part of the story, the princess does succumb to the curse and sleeps for a hundred years, and a king’s son does undertake a bold adventure to find her. This represents the Soul’s search for the Spirit, and I may write about this at a later date. In the Perrault version, however, the waking of the princess is not the end of the story. There is a second part.

sleeping-beauty_ogressIn the second part of this version, the prince and the princess must marry in secret, because the prince’s mother was “descended from ogres” and seemed to have an appetite for children. They live together in secret for more than two years and have two children together, a daughter named Aurora, meaning “Dawn,” and a son named Jour, meaning “Day.”

After two years, the prince’s father dies, and he becomes the king. At this point, he discloses his marriage and his children. As the king, he is obliged to go to war, and he leaves his country and his family in the care of his mother.

His mother takes this opportunity to order that the children one by one and then the king’s wife be cooked and served to her with a mustard sauce. Rather than complying with this horrid order, the head waiter hides the children and the wife away and served the ogress other meat telling her that it was the children and the wife.  The ogress discovers the deception and attempts to kill them herself in a huge vat filled with toads, vipers, snakes, and serpents. The King returned just in time to see what was happening, and the ogress was so enraged that she threw herself in the vat and “was devoured in a moment by the loathsome creatures she had put there.” After that, the “King could not help but be grieved, since she was his mother, but it was not long until his beautiful wife and children brought him all the comfort he needed.

I think that the ogress mother in this part of the story signifies the third face of Saturn, or False Saturn. The old, uninvited fairy represented ordinary, material Saturn, or death, loss, and hardship. The ogress was intentionally cruel and vicious. In this version, after finding the princess, the prince turned king must fight one more battle before coming into his power and having a happy ending. This battle is against his False Self at its worst, False Saturn. Even though he knew about his mother’s potential for cruelty, he negligently leaves his family and his country in her care as he goes off to war. The False Self only has the power we give it. With the help of a kind soul in the form of the head waiter, his family is spared until he returns. False Saturn destroys herself when recognized for who she is, and they all live happily ever after.

The Primordial Cinderella

Cinderella stories are ubiquitous throughout history and throughout the world. Even in today’s day and age, one can find Cinderella stories in many different forms and in popular media everywhere.

An interesting example is found in Episode 39 in Smile Precure, one of my favorite anime series of all time.  In this episode, the protagonist, Miyuki-chan (Cure Happy) finds herself in the book which contains the Primordial Cinderella.  This is the Cinderella story from which all Cinderella stories are derived.

Primordial CinderellaCure Happy (and the other girls) had to preserve the essential elements of the story: the wicked stepmother and stepsisters, the ball, dancing with the Prince, leaving at midnight, the glass slipper, and the glass slipper fitting the foot of Cinderella.  Other details of the story were changed due to interference by the Bad Enders and other mishaps.  The fact that the non-essential details of the story were changed did not cause any difficulties so long as the essential elements were preserved.

As a Traditionalist and Essentialist, I would say that the Smile Precure episode is entirely correct in describing the existence of a primordial Cinderella, and like the primordial version of all fairy tales, the primordial Cinderella comes from beyond this world, as fairy tales are stories that teach us Universal Truth.

So what is the primordial Cinderella?  In a story such as Cinderella, with so many different versions throughout history and throughout the world, one can look to the common threads in the story to uncover clues as to the primordial Cinderella and to determine its true meaning.

Common Threads

Cinderella is a very old story.  There is a Persian version of the story, called Mah Pishani, or Moon Brow, that may go back as far as 7,000 years.

In the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Classification of Folk Tales, Cinderella stories are known as Persecuted Heroine stories, and they are given a classification number of 510A. Despite the Smile Precure version, the common threads to the various Cinderella stories are not, in actuality, the ball, the glass slipper, or even the prince, although many versions do have parallels to these story elements, including the Ancient Persian version, Mah Pishani.

In these stories, the heroine is usually a young girl who was born to kind and loving parents, and the mother dies. In some stories, including Mah-Pishani, the girl is complicit in the death of her mother, following the manipulation and advice of a false mother figure, who later marries the father.

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In these stories, the father almost always marries the false mother. The false mother sometimes comes with her own daughters, and sometimes she and the father have a new daughter or daughters. In all cases, the false mother is cruel and vicious to the heroine and gives her hard and tedious tasks that are difficult or impossible to perform. The daughter or daughters of the false mother join in her cruelty and ridicule and mock the heroine. The father either dies or becomes so enamored by the false mother that he forgets about the heroine.

The heroine receives help from a magical source. In the modern Western renditions, the Baba Yagahelp comes in the form of a fairy godmother. Some other varieties of helpers are an aunt, a doll, a date tree, and in Mah Pishani, a cow that appears when her mother dies. These helpers provide advice and assistance to the heroine, often helping her complete the impossible tasks.

In some stories, including Mah Pishani, there is also a frightening, but not always malevolent, grandmother figure. In the Russian versions of the story, this figure is known as the Baba Yaga. In Mah Pishani, the grandmother figure is known as a Barzingi, who lived at the bottom of a well. In some stories the grandmother figure rewards the heroine and punishes the wicked sister(s). In Mah Pishani, the Barzingi gives Mah Pishani a Moon on her brow and a star on her chin as a reward, and imposes a donkey’s ear and tail on her wicked half-sister’s brow and chin as a punishment.

In every case, the heroine’s former position as a loved and cherished daughter is restored, and in many cases, she rises much higher in status by marrying a prince or a king, who recognizes her true beauty and value.

Spiritual Symbolism

I think the reason that Cinderella stories are so ubiquitous is because of the deep spiritual symbolism they contain.

At the beginning of the story, the heroine’s loss of her real mother is symbolic of our own separation from our Heavenly Mother. The spiritual symbolism is even more profound in the stories in which the heroine succumbs to the influence of the false mother and is complicit in the death of her real mother. In many religions, including my own, Filianism, humans are seduced into turning from the Divine Creator God, or our Real Mother, who loves and cherishes us. In the Deanist/Filianist faith, when we turned, the Mother’s Light became “too bright for [our] eyes.”

After our separation from our Heavenly Mother, we become subject to the False Mother, in Deanic/Filianic Mythos, the Dark Queen, and perhaps her daughters as well. The heroine’s mother is no longer able to help her directly. In the Filianic Mythos of God the Mother, the Mother says, “what you have done may not be undone, for you have acted with My Spirit,…” In the first paragraph of the Mythos of God the Daughter, we learn that “a terrible abyss had opened to lie between the world and Her, and Her creatures could not look upon Her brightness.”

vlcsnap-2018-05-05-21h08m11s566Yet, even then, our True Mother loves us and finds ways to help us. In the Filianic Mythos of God the Daughter, the Mother gives birth to a Daughter who is able to bridge the divide between us and our Mother. In the Cinderella stories, her mother cannot help her directly, but the helpers that explicitly or implicitly come from her mother can and do make her life easier. In the Russian story of Vasalisa, the doll given to her by her dying mother performs all of the tasks that her stepmother imposes upon her. The heroine must follow the instructions and advice of her helper in order to overcome the challenges in front of her and to rise above her current difficulties. Cinderella must follow the Fairy Godmother’s instructions and be home before midnight.

In some of the stories we meet a third feminine figure, the frightening grandmother. The Baba Yuga in the Russian stories and the Barzingi in Mah Pishani. This figure is sometimes hostile and sometimes the one who judges the heroine and finds her worthy. She is also the one who administers or is the catalyst for the punishment of the false mother and her daughter(s). This figure seems almost analogous to the Dark Mother in the Filianic Trilogy, who is said to be the Darkness beyond the Light, and the Light beyond the Darkness, and who is sometimes associated with Sai Rhavë or the planet Saturn.

cinderella transformation

Transformation and Happily Ever After

With the advice and assistance of her magical helpers, the heroine is transformed.  She becomes her True Self. In many stories, her beauty and virtue are recognized by a prince or a king, who marries her and is the instrument of her rise from a life of hardship and drudgery to royalty. This can be seen in the form of our own eventual Liberation from the toils and troubles of this world to a form of Paradise. The False Mother and her daughters are punished in some way in all of the stories, and harmony is restored.