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Archetypal images of The Fragmented Feminine

Venus, The Moon and The Four Major Asteroids

 


Before color TV to entertain us and digital watches to measure time, there was the sky. Prehistoric man learned early on to measure time and distance with the help of watching the dance of the planets against the canopy of the fixed stars. The daily rhythm of life was governed by the cycles of the Moon, and agriculture by the yearly course of the Sun and the heliacal rise of certain bright stars. The celestial phenomena were easy to follow and made life predictable, even calculable. For ages there were seven planets inhabiting the heavens, which acted out the myths of various peoples in pre-historic times. People watched them come and go and learned to decipher their meanings, which have not changed too much during the millennia. Compared to nowadays’ complexity, in those times the visible planets provided the astrological practitioner with limited understanding of the human psyche - which was quite acceptable, considering the fact that the human psyche itself was a lot less complicated than it is today. Pre-menstrual syndrome, borderline disease or autistic behavior was unheard of. The lives of archaic and medieval people closely followed predictable paths, which were determined by birthright as well as economic and social circumstances.

 

Nothing seemed to change for centuries. Saturn delivered tasks and burdens, Jupiter provided gains and luck; Mars was responsible for war and violence, Venus for love and lust. Then, with the invention of the telescope, our solar system expanded considerably. The arrival of the four major asteroids and the new planets changed the face of astrology forever, broadening our understanding and adding new archetypes to the picture. Something, however, remained conspicuously the same: the fact that while the masculine behavior patterns depicted by the traditional masculine planets have always been unambiguous and correlated seamlessly with each other, the image of the feminine originally described only by the two female planets, which split the feminine psyche into two mutually exclusive archetypes, has become even more fragmented by the arrival of the asteroids.

 

In order to make my point I intend to separate planetary archetypes according to gender, although I am fully aware that today’s astrological delineation uses them without this distinction - which is perfectly all right, we have one birth chart with all the usual participants. I, however, intend to show how the various planets can be used to demonstrate certain behavior patterns, and how those patterns correlate with gender roles. Traditionally the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are considered masculine, the Moon and Venus feminine, while Mercury represents an in-between state, neither feminine nor masculine. Mercury-Hermes, divine messenger and god of merchants, thieves and alchemists, is the true personification of neutrality. He is mischievous and ingeniously inventive, the eternal child who never grows up; who gets away with anything; and who has free access to other worlds, which even gods rarely have. Mercury is a neutral archetype considering gender precisely because he seems stuck in eternal childhood. Growing up is not his cup of tea. He is more interested in playing childish pranks than doing anything adult, such as falling in love or waging wars. Unlike Mars, the first real masculine archetype, who is the typical young potent male. Mars-Ares picks a fight and hopes to win under any circumstances. He wants to prove his physical worth in a physical world; he must be the strongest, the fastest - the victor - at all costs. Mars never considers potential dangers or the fact that he may not win; he acts with the haste and confidence of strong young men. The Sun, personification of life force and ego in birth charts, is often an older, wiser, more serious version of him, equally strong and perhaps even more determined, who uses subtler and smarter means to reach his goals. The Sun describes the male archetype in his mature yet potent state, the successful businessman in his fifties who knows what he wants and knows how to get it, and intends to live life in its fullest sense (minus the unnecessary hazards). The two so-called destiny planets, Jupiter and Saturn, represent two potential aspects of growing old. Jupiter is the jovial man who loves company, who spoils his grandchildren rotten, who is past his prime but still wants to enjoy life in its fullest sense; while Saturn is the miser constantly emphasizing duties and obligations, the eternal malcontent who is unable to find beauty or satisfaction in the world.

 

These may sound as broad generalizations, but they show that the growth of the male psyche follows a closely predictable path from young age to old. While there are clearly discernible behavior patterns determined by age, financial and social status, there is nothing contradictory in their development, especially if we consider the mixture of these archetypes: Mars-Jupiter, the sportsman or rich yuppie; Sun-Mars, the active, agile male; Sun-Jupiter, the wealthy, contented middle-aged businessman; Mars-Saturn, the restricted or underprivileged young man; Sun-Saturn, the penny-pinching pensioner; or Jupiter-Saturn, the well-to-do bachelor who has lived through hardships and learned how to be frugal even in better times. These variations all correlate with one another; there is, in fact, quite a smooth transition from one behavior pattern to the other, depending mainly on age, economic and social circumstances. A young man may set out as Mars-Saturn, struggling through university in poverty; years of hard work may bring him special qualifications resulting in a good position with a fat paycheck (Mars-Jupiter) and eventually climbing up high the corporate ladder (Sun-Jupiter or Sun-Mars-Jupiter).

 

Feminine roles, on the other hand, are a lot less interchangeable. Let’s consider the two traditional female planets, the Moon and Venus. The Moon herself has three faces: the Virgin (New Moon), the Mother (Full Moon) and the Crone (Balsamic Moon). The Virgin represents both innocence and potential. She is the maiden, the young girl, who is not yet ready to enter the adult world but who eventually will. The Mother is the ripe, fertile woman who has manifested her full potentials, the life giver who bore fruit. She is aware of her worth; human life and the continuation of the species depend on her. The Crone is the wise old hag; she has learned the lessons of life and is now ready to teach them to whoever is willing to listen. This development sounds just as smooth as its masculine counterpart, until we realize that one thing is conspicuously missing: sexuality. There is no sexuality in the feminine archetypes represented by the three faces of the Moon. The Virgin is not yet ready. Her innocence stems from her complete lack of carnal knowledge. She may, of course, be awakened in time, but in the New Moon phase not even the thought germ of sexuality can be detected, and rightly so. Think of medieval times when a girl’s biggest asset was her virginity, short of which she was a “fallen woman”. The Mother, on the other hand, is past experience and knowledge, yet this phase equally lacks sexuality. The Mother is not interested. Pregnant or lactating women are often confronted with this feeling. Thoughts are around the baby and the feminine body becomes a feeding tube. Lust is relegated to the depths of the unconscious. Or so we think we should feel… The Crone, the manifestation of the Balsamic Moon, is no longer thinking of such games, and even if she would, who on earth would consider her as playmate? The Crone is too old. She is past her prime. She may be a repository of all sorts of knowledge but nobody seems to be interested in her or what she has to offer.

 

 

What happened to feminine sexuality? According to today’s astrological interpretations, which are based on several-thousand-year-old lore, sexuality and eroticism are missing from our nighttime luminary, the main female archetype. Luckily, we have Venus, who reeks sexuality. Venus-Aphrodite is man’s live Barbie doll. She personifies whatever men desire and dread in women: lust, beauty, seduction, independence, the right to choose and act freely - and she even has the body for it! Venus is everything the Moon is not. In fact, she is the anti-Moon. She has never been a virgin, and although she does have a son, Eros, she will never be either mother or crone. How could she become a crone, she will certainly never grow old! That would involve becoming ugly, and the Goddess of Love cannot do that… As for the mothering instinct, in her case it is driven by her desire to conquer the Demeter-Persephone pair, par excellance the perfect mother and daughter. Aphrodite conceives for the same reason that beautiful, socially active ladies do, who try to copy ordinary women in their roles so that society would treat them with respect. Those ladies want both worlds, respectability and adoration, so they end up bearing an offspring. Interestingly enough, in their case the mothering instinct is often replaced by possessiveness towards the child, who is more like an object, “theirs”, especially if it is a boy, and potential girlfriends are rejected, looked down upon, even mistreated. Aphrodite does the same because she considers her son’s mortal lover, Psyche, as a rival and a threat to her supremacy. But in most of the myths, Aphrodite does not appear as mother at all; she is simply an object of desire, the eternal seducer, or the heroine of an ever-running erotic movie.

 

 

The discovery of trans-Saturnian planets and their incorporation into astrological knowledge added four masculine archetypes to the existing ones, which considerably opened up astrological interpretation potentials, but at the same time they did not distort the clarity and logic of the picture. Uranus, bringer of chaos and change, is the ingenious eccentric or the brilliant anarchist. Neptune, god of the seas, personifies universal love, esoteric knowledge, and artistic achievements. Both planets may also be the indicators of sexual identification problems, such as being homosexual, transsexual, or transvestite, but not necessarily. Pluto, lord of the Underworld, perhaps the most dreaded and often misinterpreted masculine archetype, adds both intensity and power to the picture, and may also be linked to sexual aberrations like sadism, masochism, or fetishes. Ever since Chiron was spotted in 1977 yet another archetype has been coloring astrological delineation: the wounded healer. And today’s man is so often wounded; traditional male roles of the sovereign or the fighter or the breadwinner have been systematically taken away from him over the course of the past century, especially in the last few decades. His physical strength is diminishing (he no longer needs to lift heavy tools or carry forty pounds of armor), his authority questioned (today’s emancipated woman seems to have all the rights), his manhood disregarded (lesbian movements and in vitro fertilization ensure it). Chiron’s arrival has created a shift that is not immediately obvious on the individual level but all the more evident in the world at large by adding a wounded image to masculinity.

 

With the invisible planets, astrological delineation has become more complicated but also more fine-tuned to modern life. We have gained a number of archetypical variations, which represent new facets and new potentials of the New Age male. Sun-Uranus is the inventor or today’s dot com businessman, who makes millions out of a brilliant idea with no assets or initial infrastructure and may thus become Jupiter-Uranus. Mars-Uranus is the young iconoclast, who cannot accept any form of conformity and traditions, the young sports hero, or the homosexual who openly flaunts his “difference”. Saturn-Uranus may sound as a contradiction, but if we consider the fact that these two planets have become joint rulers of Aquarius, it becomes obvious that they can learn how to work together quite well: what Uranus invents Saturn shapes and structuralises. Mars-Neptune is today’s pop musician, who has both determination and clear vision. Sun-Neptune is the guru, who teaches millions of a better way of life, quite often becoming Jupiter-Neptune as a result, making a ton of money and rising to celestial heights. Saturn-Neptune is the artist or the architect who puts visions into solid form and constructs buildings that may well outlive him in importance and time. Mars-Pluto is the young man determined to make it big, no matter what the odds are; Sun-Pluto is the dominant and influential businessman, who may choose to stay out of the limelight but who exerts power and owns real wealth. Jupiter-Pluto is the single most successful blend of astrological archetypes because it combines greatness with intense desire - a winning pair in every sense, no matter what the chosen field of operation is. On the other hand, Saturn-Pluto is just the opposite; it merges the two death planets, which may cause destruction, pain, loss, or frustration, despite great efforts and the will to succeed. Mars-Chiron may be wounded in his will or sexuality; Sun-Chiron in his strength or ego; Saturn-Chiron in his authority; and Jupiter-Chiron in his luck.

 

 

Let’s examine what has happened to the feminine ever since the four major asteroids were discovered. The Asteroid belt, consisting of several thousand fragments of a planet that blew up, is in itself a profound image of the shattered feminine psyche. Since asteroids are smaller than planets, their meaning is less complex. They generally emphasize one single character trait or behavior pattern. Ceres, Pallas Athena, Juno, and Vesta are important goddesses of antiquity, each having a distinct role, although Vesta’s have changed at least four times. Ceres-Demeter, mother of Persephone and goddess of cultivation, represents the Full Moon aspect from a more humane viewpoint. The primordial Full Moon expresses both the need and the capacity of the eternal feminine to procreate, while Ceres is the goddess of agriculture, a more refined version of the same theme. Ceres-Demeter emphasizes the nurturing instinct and also the possessive mother who has a hard time allowing her daughter to grow up and get on with her life, while Pallas Athena represents her polar opposite, the independent modern woman who stays single and rejects old family values.

 

 

Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom, is the new woman emerging in a masculine society that appreciates active roles and determination. According to Robert Graves, Athena is matriarchy’s biggest enemy and greatest paradox. When Zeus had a splitting headache she emerged from his head with her helmet and shield, fully grown and clad. She was born to a man, without the interference of a woman, and her appearance in the Greek pantheon captures the precise moment when the Greeks needed a new feminine archetype who was not burdened by the viciously vindictive aspects of the old matriarchal goddesses like the Fates, the Furies, the Erynnes, or Medusa. Athena is fresh, wise, fair, and independent. She does not seem to need men at all; in the myths she remains an eternal virgin. She makes her own decisions and she has a solution for everything. At the same time, she is quite beautiful and does not seem to lack vanity - think of the famous contest of the goddesses Hera, Aphrodite, and Pallas Athena, where Paris was forced to choose the fairest among them. Athena is a proud and eager competitor, who is quite offended when she does not win. However, her beauty remains barren; she never squanders it on men, she remains content in her own perceived wholeness and authority.

 

 

Juno-Hera, on the other hand, needs to put her beauty to work since she is the official wife of Jupiter-Zeus. She is the chosen one, the queen mother of Olympian gods, who at the same time encapsulates all the miseries and worries of married women. Zeus is constantly cheating on her while she spends her time spying on him, trying to do away with the rivals and the resulting offspring. She is a jealous and thoroughly unhappy woman for most of the time, despite her position and titles. Juno’s appearance in the sky and in our astrological delineation marks a historical moment when wives managed to reach an almost equal status in marriage; at least so it happened in western civilization. With it, however, yet another split occurred, this time within the role of the consort: the archetype of the devoted and jealous official wife (Juno) and that of the carefree and coquettish lover (Venus, who has none of Juno’s status nor her obligations). This is not to say that men have not had lovers besides their official wives for ages, but ever since the spotting of Juno in 1803 there has been a decided change on how western societies look at these archetypes. All of a sudden, the split became condoned and acceptable, even recommended.

 

 

 

Vesta-Hestia, the Priestess, represents the most complicated archetype of the four major asteroids. The distinct changes of her roles tell a sad tale. Looking at her various stages from the ancient Moon Priestess through temple prostitutes of Greek times and Vestal virgins of the Romans to the Mother Superior of Catholic cloisters describes the distortion process of the feminine psyche in a profound way. Originally she set out as the High Priestess of the Moon Goddess, whose duties included her role as a divine vessel during fertility rites. She would choose a man and would connect him to the Goddess through the ecstasy of sexual intercourse while she often stayed out of the experience. In later times the Greeks, who were smart enough not to change ancient rites by force, erected their temples at various sacred sites and distorted the essential meanings of the rites. Hestia’s priestesses became temple prostitutes, who had to have sex with whoever showed up at the gates. Then in Roman times, Vestal virgins were hand picked at the age of six and had to serve the temple until they turned thirty. If they were caught sleeping with a man their punishment was to be buried alive, and quite a few ended up with this fate since they had to spend their prime time in complete abstention. But at least they had a chance to live a normal life after temple service and became coveted wives among Roman patricians. A Catholic nun, however, was doing time for life in total celibacy after becoming the eternal bride of Jesus. Vesta is a profoundly troubled feminine archetype with many splits, often denoting sexual wounds and relationship inadequacies.

 

 

 

The shift in these roles from sacred sexuality to complete celibacy describes what has happened to feminine sexuality over the millennia, but in order to grasp the fundamental reasons behind it we need to understand that this process also depicts a complete shift in worldviews from matriarchy to patriarchy. Ancient man understood that a woman’s body is a dimension portal, and orgasm was a means to forge a bridge between the profane and the divine. Sexuality was a sacred art and priestesses were revered. It all started to change with the rise of patriarchy and the use of the left-brain. The new leaders of the community knew that if they kept the two basic feminine roles of mother (life giver) and lover (divine channel) together they would never conquer, so they systematically began to separate them from each other. Consider the strict use of two sets of cooking utensils in Jewish tradition: one for meats and one for milky dishes. This practice is a great metaphor of how profoundly scared they were of mixing the two feminine roles of consort and mother; it should be either or, lest they stay too powerful. Some researchers think that land cultivation itself also encouraged this split because husband and wife needed to stay together in order to work the fields. In hunting-gathering times women had their own independent roles as gatherers and had not been attached to a man as they became in patriarchy.

 

The separation of feminine roles ensured that women be kept in a subjugated and inferior status. They became man’s property, with no other options than to get married (Juno), become a mother (Ceres, the Full Moon), or stay unmarried (Pallas Athena) and become a spinster (the Balsamic Moon), a nun (Vesta), or a prostitute (Venus). The reason why none of these options are very attractive is because they involve mutually exclusive lifestyles. Some may seem to be reconcilable, like wife-mother or wife-lover, but these combinations often remain inadequate and unfulfilling. New Age women are trying to do their very best to juggle with the fragmented roles and unite them, admittedly with little success. New Age men, even though their roles have changed considerably over the last century, are quite capable of doing so. With the rise of feminine movements we seem to have been thrown into even further extremes. Although women are able to enjoy a much freer lifestyle (the emergence and strengthening of the Pallas Athena archetype), it comes at a price. Single mothers and dysfunctional families are on the rise because the traditional family structure has been breaking up. More and more women choose to stay alone and opt against starting a family. Lesbian movements turn women into men; and old values, which have become meaningless by now, are not yet replaced by new ones. This is definitely not what the Moon Priestess, patron of matriarchy, would like to see; so what are we to do? How can we keep our newly found freedom and go back to those ancient and sacred rites? How can we combine the fragmented pieces of the feminine and heal ourselves once and for all without becoming spiteful and vindictive towards men?

 

The astrological answer may lie in the discovery of a new planet, a planet that, in fact, already exists on paper. According to Bode’s law, a mathematical law that calculates the position, orbital time and astronomical distance of planets, there must be a trans-Plutonian body, it is just so far away and the area is so dense and dark that astronomers have not yet been able to spot it. Whenever consciousness has needed a shift it was heralded by the discovery of a new planet, and right now we badly need such a shift. According to some astrological researchers, Trans-Pluto is already considered to be the ruler of Libra, and the new consciousness it suggests could, in fact, provide a beautiful way to reconcile both the warring sexes and the fragmented pieces of the feminine, the original split between mother and consort and all the shattered splinters. The choices that we have right now are not attractive because they are limiting in themselves and often mutually exclusive. We badly need a new female planet that would heal these wounds and unite all the fragments. The role of Libras involves diplomacy, peace making and balancing opposites. In our Darwinian age, where the survival of the fittest is all-important, truths become distorted, realities twisted or lopsided. People are unable to see other truths and are unwilling to accept other realities. A cool and impartial Libran, however, has the ability to look at all parties involved and find an acceptable solution to a dispute, thus helping to reconcile the issue. None of our planetary archetypes is able to achieve this. Libra’s present ruler, Venus, represents the sign’s charming nature and quench for beauty. Some suggest that this new planet shall be Persephone, daughter of Demeter, wife of Pluto, who, just like Hermes, is capable of commuting between the upper- and the underworld without any harm. She is the only goddess with the role of the psychopomp, guider of souls. Her marriage to Pluto has made her the queen of the dead, and yet she is allowed to leave the underworld and spend half the year with her mother, Demeter, among the living. With the potential arrival of trans-Pluto as Persephone we may discover a new archetype that is capable of crossing borders, accepting new realities, achieving beauty while balancing opposites, which may give us a chance to unite and synthesize the fragmented pieces of the feminine.