NewsScope for September 19, 2006
Eris and the Apple of Discord
Last Wednesday, the IAU declared that the distant planet—originally referred to as Xena—has been officially named Eris after the Greek goddess of discord. The IAU was nearly unanimous on the decision and had the approval of the object's discoverer, Mike Brown, who said that the name was an obvious choice, and "too perfect to resist."
The astronomers' awareness of Eris's symbolic value verges perilously close to astrology, and gives us a starting point for understanding the metaphysical significance of Eris in the horoscope. "Eris" is perfect because her discovery started a squabble among scientists when she was refused planet status, despite being larger than Pluto. Eris was responsible for the demotion of Pluto, and also reflects the IAU's snubbing of popular opinion regarding Pluto.
These events reflect Eris's primary myth* as the goddess who was not invited to a wedding feast. Feeling snubbed, she mischievously tossed a Golden Apple into the party with the inscription "For the Fairest". The goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each assumed the apple was for her and her alone, which led to a squabble, and eventually the Trojan War. From this ancient tale, we can associate Eris with vengefulness, strife, mounting chaos, and the feeling of being snubbed.
Eris's greatest joy is trouble-making, and when she throws her Apple of Discord, friendships end and wars begin. In geopolitical developments, Eris can bring bad news, since her archetypal pattern resonates with the bomb thrower, and any actions stemming from feelings of being rejected. The Greek poet Hesiod described Eris as "she who is only a little thing at first, but thereafter grows until she strides on the earth with her head striking heaven."
Eris in Pope Benedict's Horoscope
Last Tuesday, Pope Benedict quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, and thereby seemed to endorse a view held by many Christians: that early Islam was spread by violence. The Pope's speech set off widespread protests across the Islamic world, which continue this week. A New York Times editorial chastised the Pope: "It is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly."
Not surprisingly, Eris plays a central role in the Pope's horoscope (April 16, 1927; 4:15 am; Merktl, Germany), so that he becomes the geopolitical demonstration of the Eris principle in action. The Pope's natal Eris is located at 1º01' Aries, where it forms an exact conjunction with Uranus and is also close to his Mercury in Pisces. This three-planet cluster squares Mars in intellectual Gemini.
The Pope's Mars-Uranus square describes his fascination with danger and violence, and his personal tendency to upset the status quo. With Mars in Gemini, and square Mercury, his preferred tools of aggression are debate and pointed commentaries. Last week, when he made his speech, transiting Mars had just entered Libra, where it activated his Eris complex. Also, transiting Mercury in critical Virgo was exactly squaring his Mars.
Eris has been in Aries ever since the Pope was born. The leader of 1.1 billion Catholics tossed his Apple of Discord as transiting Eris nears his Aries Sun, and his remarks reached a global audience with transiting Pluto right on his Midheaven and trine his Sun. One might expect this chaos to grow, following the nature of the Eris principle, especially since the Solar Eclipse on September 22 happens to align with the Pope's Eris complex.
Madonna and Eris
International pop star Madonna has been outraging Christian groups across Europe this summer by staging a mock crucifixion during her "Confessions" tour. Last week in Moscow was no exception, despite pleas from the Russian Orthodox Church. During her last number, she wore a crimson blouse and a crown of thorns while hanging from a giant cross and singing her 1986 hit "Live to Tell".
Looking at Madonna's horoscope (August 16, 1958; 7:05 am; Bay City, Michigan), the astrologer might be hard-pressed to understand her persistent drive to upset people, or her mischievous delight in creating chaos all around her. Her maternal Moon-Ceres conjunction right on her modest Virgo Ascendant is a perfect astrological description of her projected image of "Madonna". Pluto nearby intensifies this archetype, bringing it to the masses.
Madonna's Mars-Uranus square indicates a more revolutionary side, but Pope Benedict also has a Mars-Uranus square, and he's certainly not flouting Catholic norms. The picture becomes clearer when we add Eris to the mix. Eris by sign is not much help, since this dwarf planet has been in Aries for a century, but the house position and aspects to other planets tell us where one is most likely to throw an Apple of Discord.
Madonna's Eris is located at 9º40' Aries and is found in the Eighth House of sex. Her decidedly risqué theatrics represent one facet of this archetype, but with Eris exactly quincunx (150º) her Ascendant-Moon-Ceres complex, Madonna personifies the Eris personality. Her sexualization of the modest Mother Mary deity has contributed to her being the most successful female recording artist of all time.
*A wide-ranging discussion of the myth and significance of Eris can be found here.
**For an ephemeris on Eris, see http://ephemeral.info/oldeph/ and select 2003UB313 #999001.