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.

The Divine Feminine

As a Filianist, I believe in the Divine Feminine. What does this mean? Or more precisely, what do I mean when I say the Divine Feminine?

I think that the term “the Divine Feminine” is used by many people, and I am not sure that they all are talking about the same thing. My religious affiliation is Orthodox Filianism. I am an astrologer and not a thealogian so I cannot say for certain that my thoughts are perfectly in line with the teachings of Orthodox Filianism as set forth in the Mother God Chapel and the Gospel of Our Mother God, but I do use them as my primary guides in these matters.

So, what is the Divine Feminine? Well, to me, the Divine Feminine is simply the Divine worshipped using feminine language and imagery. There is a Filianist Creed that sets forth these beliefs more fully, but really all we are doing is practicing a monotheistic faith using feminine rather than masculine or neuter terminology.

But, what about the Divine Masculine? This is always one of the first questions people ask, and from what I have read on the blogs of independent Filianists, this seems to be a source of division and contention between them. I have to say, however, that I think that this question misses the point to a large extent.

My Path to the Divine Feminine

Edgar Cayce
Edgar Cayce

I had a long and winding spiritual journey to Orthodox Filianism. My mother considered herself spiritual and not religious, and she was heavily influenced by the teachings of Edgar Cayce. While Edgar Cayce’s readings and teachings have been taken up by many New Age style movements, Edgar Cayce himself was a fundamentalist Christian. In his readings, his language for God was exclusively masculine, and I do not remember ever hearing any question about the absence of the Divine Feminine.

Around the age of 12, I became interested in Roman Catholicism, and with my mother’s permission, I attended CCD and was baptized and confirmed in the Roman Catholic faith. While Roman Catholicism uses copious imagery for Mary, and I have observed that some Catholics, particularly women of advanced years, seem to primarily venerate Mary, with Jesus as an afterthought, Mary is not officially recognized as Divine in the Roman Catholic faith. The Divine seems to be viewed as exclusively Masculine in this tradition, at least from a lay perspective.

Later, as a young adult, I joined the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, UFMCC, or simply MCC. This was a Christain Protestant denomination founded in the gay and lesbian community. I spent many years in MCC, and my spouse was ordained and was a Pastor in this denomination for a time. MCC believed in “inclusive language” for God. On my first visit to MCC, one of the hymns during Service was called When Israel Camped in Sinai. The third verse to this hymn used feminine language for God and the fourth verse began, “Our God is not a woman; Our God is not a man; Our God is both and neither; Our God is I who Am.” This hymn, more than anything, is what attracted me to MCC.

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A gift that was given to my spouse and me at our MCC Holy Union by the Pastor who officiated our ceremony and her spouse

In theory, I still do believe that this line in that hymn is as close to the Truth as we will be able to get using human language. In practice, however, I found “inclusive language” difficult. Inclusive language meant that in official worship, God must be referred to in gender-neutral terms or using alternate masculine and feminine language. The actual observance of this official policy ranged from those who ignored it entirely and continued to use exclusively masculine language for God to those who I termed the “inclusive language police,” who rigidly adhered to the practice, and loudly insisted everyone else did too. The policy was never breached in favor of exclusively feminine language, at least not in my limited experience, and people often had far more trouble with alternating masculine and feminine language than using neuter language.

As a budding astrologer, I found MCC repressive. At the time, it was rather conservative theologically, and there were those who saw astrology as a form of paganism or idolatry. When my spouse became a Pastor, and I became a Pastor’s wife, I believed it was my duty to keep quiet about my astrological interests so as not to undermine the faith of people in our congregation. For a time, I even gave up astrology and focused on my career as a budding lawyer. That was a difficult time for me, and it led to a great deal of resentment towards my spouse.

Later, my spouse resigned her position as Pastor and we both became Quakers. I was not entirely comfortable in the Meeting we attended, but I was far more comfortable there than in MCC. I felt more acceptance of my practice of astrology there, but there was no active support. I had considered spiritual movements such as Wicca, but I could never warm to any of them. At the time, I said I was too pagan to be Christian and too Christian to be pagan.

Orthodox Filianism

Within months of my officially joining a Quaker Meeting, by a strange twist of events, I learned about Orthodox Filianism. I first began exploring, wondering if this was something I could believe in. When I purchased and read the Gospel of Our Mother God, I found that not only could I believe in these teachings, these teachings spoke to what I have always believed. After years of wrestling with the Judeo-Christian written tradition, the Gospel of Our Mother God was a breath of fresh air. I agreed with and felt inspired by every word!

For about a year, I tried to reconcile my beliefs as a Filianist with Quaker practices, but it eventually proved to be too difficult, and I resigned my membership within the Quaker Meeting. My spouse is still a Quaker and still active in that Meeting.

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My current home shrine

While I do believe that the Divine is beyond human gender, which is completely in line with Filianist teachings as I understand them, using feminine imagery for God, or Dea, has completely changed my relationship with Her. I no longer struggle with a harsh and judgmental Father, and I no longer feel disconnected by an abstract God with no gender. I feel a deep connection with a supportive and loving Mother who desires to nurture me and give me good things. I do not miss masculine imagery for God, and I find myself annoyed with those who criticize my faith because it does not include such imagery. I have no quarrel with those who use masculine or neuter imagery for God, but I observe there is no shortage of places to do so in the Modern West.

Orthodox Filianism has been accused of denying the Divine Masculine and the existence masculinity in general, but I honestly do not see the basis for that accusation. Nowhere in all of the copious resources and recommendations provided on the Chapel site is that ever said. To the contrary, the Chapel explicitly expresses respect for traditions that worship God in masculine form, even while asserting the legitimacy of the worship of Dea in feminine form. The Chapel purposely takes no position on the relationship between men and women, but the Chapel does not take a position on many things, including most matters in the material realm. In my experience, the writers of the Chapel are extremely cautious with respect to taking positions in general and only do so when absolutely necessary. I have read the struggles of independent Filianists in addressing relationships between men and women, and there are some who seem to say that women are superior to men. The Chapel does not say that at all.

Filianism and Astrology

As an astrologer, one of the most important benefits of becoming a Filianist was spiritual support and grounding for my astrological practice. The descriptions of the Janyati and devotion in accordance with the Wheel of the Year added depth and richness to my practice that I do not believe I could have found anywhere else. The book, The Feminine Universe, which explains the teachings of traditionalist philosophers such as Renê Guenon and Ananda Coomaraswamy in an accessible and feminine centered way, gave me language for what I had long believed in my heart with respect to how and why astrology “worked,” and it was the catalyst for my developing theories about the Outer Planets. Long discussions with fellow worshipers and mentors helped me in my work of reframing astrology as a Traditional Science, which guides and informs my continuing research and studies.

Does this mean that my practice is limited to Filianists or to women? I sure hope not! That is not the intention of my openness about my spiritual beliefs.

Many astrologers are vague about their spirituality, and often religious discussion is prohibited on astrological forums. My own sense, however, is that an astrologer’s spiritual beliefs and religious practices, or the lack thereof, are crucial. They inform everything we do, from our understanding of the crucial issue of fate vs. free will to our philosophy of practice to what we think we are doing when we are studying astrological charts.

For me, the grounding of my practice in the Divine Feminine within the context of Orthodox Filianism means that I see the Cosmos as an orderly place, with a loving Divine Mother who cares deeply about our well being. I believe that while our material circumstances in this life may be limited by our werde, or karma, which can be seen in our Nativity Charts, on a spiritual level, we have absolute Free Will with respect to our choices between Light and Dark. I believe the movements of the planets and the stars are gifts given to us by Our Mother. These gifts provide us guidance so that we can move within the Harmony and Music of the Spheres, and that this Harmony is the closest that we can come to the Divine while we are bound in the material world of flux and change.

This is what I mean when I say that my practice is grounded in the Divine Feminine.