There is a big gap between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter, and between these two planets lies the asteroid belt, an area where there are literally thousands of pieces of rock orbiting around the Sun. Astronomers believe that the asteroids are the remnant of what was once a planet.
What Are Asteroids?
Asteroids are those thousands of huge rocks orbiting around the Sun, usually between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Some astrologers consider them merely cosmic gravel with no value in interpreting horoscopes. But, as will be demonstrated here, asteroids not only describe abstract concepts from mythology, but they specifically relate to people like you and me.
The discovery of many new bodies orbiting the Sun beyond the orbit of formerly outermost Neptune created a crisis in astronomy. It became evident that a new definition was required to distinguish these objects from traditional planets. The term “dwarf planet” was introduced to include planetary objects smaller than planets but larger than asteroids.
Asteroids were first discovered two centuries ago when names were chosen only for mythological goddesses, e.g. Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta, Astraea. But when the number of asteroids began to exceed the goddesses, names were chosen to honor colleagues and historical figures of both genders, as well as flowers, cities, mountains, lakes, nations and ideas.
In March, 1802, German astronomer H. Olbers discovered Pallas Athene in the main belt of asteroids, between Mars and Jupiter. It took quite some time for some other small bodies to be discovered but by 1890 the total had reached three hundred. About one hundred newly numbered asteroids are cataloged each year. Most of them are found within the main belt, which extends from 2.1 to 3.4 AU, and about half are between 2.75 and 2.85 AU. Asteroids revolve around the Sun in the same direction as the planets but tend to have more elliptical orbits. Their orbits are inclined up to 30°to the ecliptic plane, but they are far less eccentric than comet orbits. The smallest asteroids are a few kilometers wide; the largest one, Ceres (now considered a “dwarf planet”), about 1,000 kilometers wide.
Asteroids, in this century are receiving more public attention than ever before. NASA photographed a closeup of Gaspra, the first asteroid ever seen with a specific shape in 1992. Most scientists agree an asteroid was responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs. An asteroid about 15 miles in diameter almost collided with Earth in 1989 and another smaller asteroid, about 30 meters wide, came closer to Earth than any known asteroid in 1993, closer than half the distance to the Moon. A near collision with another asteroid is expected in the 22nd century.
Many scientists now agree that the mysterious massive explosion in 1908 over Tonguska, Siberia, flattening hundreds of square miles of land, was the result of an asteroid exploding just before impact with Earth.
Pluto, Chiron and the Kuiper Belt
In 1977 Charles Kowal discovered Chiron. In 1992, the first of many similar objects beyond Neptune was discovered in a region called the Kuiper Belt. This region is similar to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter (the main belt) but about twenty times wider and populated by icy objects rather than the rocky and metallic bodies.
More than 130 Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) have already been found with nearly the same 248-year period as Pluto at about 40 AU from the Sun. It is believed that the Belt contains thousands of objects larger than 100 kilometers in diameter. Some objects have been found beyond 55 AU but are believed to have been scattered into a region containing scattered disk objects (SDOs). Planetesimal objects in these latter two regions (KBOs and SDOs) are called trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs).
Thus, astronomers began to view Pluto as the largest member of the new class of plutinos and some started to question its status as a planet. The definition of a planet was given in the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union meeting in August of 2006. An initial proposal recommended that Pluto be retained as a planet and that Ceres, Charon, and Eris be added to the list of planets. An alternate proposal was offered suggesting an intermediate category for objects like Pluto, which are large enough to be nearly round but too small to clear their orbits of other planetesimals. The IAU accepted the later proposal and by unanimous vote it was agreed to call these intermediate objects “dwarf planets,” with smaller objects to be called “small solar-system bodies.”
In the same meeting, the IAU announced only three members of the dwarf planet category: Ceres, Pluto, and Eris. The IAU already maintains a dwarf planet watch-list of about a dozen candidates, which keeps changing as new candidates are found. The candidates include the plutinos Orcus and Ixion, cubewanos Quaoar and Varuna, and the SDO Sedna, all of which are similar in size to or larger than Ceres but are not yet established as round.
The Asteroids In Astrology
Astrologically, asteroids represent the gate to the individual. Here we move from abstract keywords of planets to explicit people, places, and things. “As above, so below” now includes “The Name.”
By blending the deeply personal asteroid with more abstract meanings of planets, houses and aspects, the horoscope becomes richer and explicit. And asteroid returns are as impressive as solar and lunar returns.
The asteroid belt was discovered in the early 1800’s, and was largely neglected in astrology, partly because the orbits were a bit hard to track and so no ephemerides were available. However, in the early 1970’s, Eleanor Bach and others started to look seriously at the influences and mythology of the first four discovered asteroids. These had been discovered within a short span of 1801 to 1807, and more asteroids had not been discovered until a few decades later. It was quite clear to her that there was a very strong relationship to the sign Virgo. This sentiment was echoed by Robert Hand in “Horoscope Symbols” (1981).
Some asteroid-oriented astrologers speculated that the larger asteroids ruled zodiac signs. E. Bach assigned Ceres asteroids and Vesta the rulership of Virgo, and Juno and Pallas the rulership of Libra. However, spreading out sign rulerships to more than one planet did not strike a favorable chord among non-asteroid astrologers. Named after mythological figures, places or real people all these newcomers in the astrological pantheon created an abundance of astrological interpretations but their sheer number (around 10.000 in good astrological software) discourages their incorporation to the horoscope. The consensus on the matter, proposed by J. Lee Lehman in his “Ultimate Asteroid Book”, that the interpretation be based on the asteroid’s name, is absurd, as they are named totally arbitrarily, for example, after the discoverer’s cat or his new car model. Yet, the focus on Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta by asteroid advocates has generally eased the anxiety of astrologers.
According to Jacob Schwartz, Ephemerides were not available for asteroids until the late 20th century, so studying the implications of asteroids was not possible for almost two centuries after the discovery of Ceres. The vast majority of astrologers did not know they existed, or those who knew about them said they were “cosmic gravel,” not real planets, unimportant, insignificant; the ten regular planets were enough. And those who might have considered using four new points like the four largest asteroids Ceres, Juno, Pallas and Vesta, plus the comet Chiron were shocked with the realization that it didn’t stop with those, but there were thousands of them. At the very moment skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by Shane Stant in her dressing room in Detroit, 6 January 1994, 2:20 p.m., asteroid Tanya was conjunct lord of the underworld Pluto on the descendent, asteroid Harding was on the eastern horizon, and asteroid Shane formed a perfect triangle on the nadir of the chart.
There are over 10.000 named asteroids– while more are named periodically. It is sometimes difficult to get an exact summary of asteroids’ role in astrology. For, while the Planets’ astrological meanings each have deep mythologies stemming from Greco-Roman culture and history, only a few (comparatively) asteroids have mythological names- and some of these even are Egyptian, or Norse (Norwegian) or other cultures.
These mythological names come with their own meanings steeped in history and culture. But, I feel, as with the Planets – interpreting an astrology chart is like writing an in-depth essay on a piece of literature – you will find many minutiae of differences between esteemed astrologers – for several reasons.
Many asteroids seem to be just personal names, because it is not generally public knowledge the story of who named each asteroid, and for who or what reason! There are many famous names in the asteroids, such as Shakespeare, Chaucer, Sophocles, and more. There are, understandably, also many foreign names, including Japanese, Chinese, German, Hispanic, and others! (which are applicable for us if they are also famous names, place names, or mythological names.)
Since there are so many of them, it is difficult to see whether they can be of any use in astrology, but many astrologers choose to use the four major asteroids- and I’ve certainly found that they seem to have an effect in a chart.
As well as asteroids, there are other bodies orbiting the Sun beyond the orbit of Saturn. The first of these, Chiron, was discovered in 1977 but many more have been discovered since then. These bodies are known as centaurs and Chiron is named after a mythical centaur – half man, half horse – of Greek mythology.
When Chiron was discovered, it was first considered a “planetoid”, or a “minor planet” like the asteroids, and then later reclassified as a comet when a tail was spotted on it. Astrologer Al H. Morrison called it “a major planet” as a result of his astrological investigations, and Marc Buie, an astronomer who focusses on Pluto a lot, has suggested that Pluto be classified as an “ice planet”, and that perhaps Chiron is not like comets and ought to be considered an ice planet as well.
Zane Stein devoted a number of sections of his book “Essence and Application: a View from Chiron” to connections which he had discovered between Chiron and Libran themes, although among those who are inclined to view Chiron as a planet which rules a sign, Virgo is most often chosen.
The Myths of the Asteroids
The planets and asteroids are named after Roman and Greek gods and goddesses whose stories have their roots in Ancient Greece. Through knowing the myths of these archetypal figures, it is possible to easily understand why each planet and asteroid has a particular interpretation in astrology. The relationships between these deities can also shed light on the interpretation of aspects made by asteroids to each planet in the natal chart.
The myths of the asteroids, the chunks of rock that float through the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, add extra depth. Healing (Chiron), nurturing (Ceres), conjoining (Juno), understanding (Pallas Athene) and compassion (Vesta) are the qualities that they embody.
Excerpt from the book Understanding the Planetary Myths – Tenzin-Dolma
I know nothing about asteroids: from where do I start?
It’s very important to understand that the asteroids aren’t a working tool for beginners, and probably they won’t be so in the near future.
So, first of all you must have a good knowledge of astrology, especially in the practical field. This means that you should be able to easily interpret a natal chart with the two luminaries and the eight planets and you should know how to deal with the main techniques (transits, revolutions, progressions etc…).
At this point, with a steady baggage, you must have enough mental elasticity to accept the challenge to which you are brought by new knowledge. This basically means that you must go from the “following the receipt” to “experimenting new accompaniments”.
In the end, you need an excellent software (for the study of asteroids), as well as an excellent working method.
Which are the recommended orbs when working with asteroids?
The narrowest possible, and in any case they should not get over 3°30′ for the four main asteroids (if you are using only them in addition to traditional planets), and exact for the others.
Which are the recommended aspects when working with asteroids?
It depends on the method. The less known is the asteroid that interests, the more one has to reduce each aspect to the essential. Generally it’s better to use only the main aspects to the planets and the sensitive points/angles (obviously if you have an accurate birth time).
What is the value that should be given to an asteroid that does not form strict aspects with the planets or with the sensitive points/angles?
Generally, the best would be to ignore it. In any case, it’s better not to use it in the research base.
How is it possible to understand the meaning of an asteroid if you don’t know where is it at home, where is it in exaltation etc?
Simply by getting its meaning not from a dialectical game, based on the zodiac interpretations, but on the observation and symbolic translation of its behaviour in the sky (see orbital language) and from the practical analysis of its position in a lot of natal themes. It is not the theory that has to enlighten the practice. In fact it’s exactly the contrary!
How important is the Mythology in the comprehension of the meaning of an asteroid?
A much smaller importance than the one that is usually given to it. In the natal chart we have planets, not myths.
With Uranus, Neptune and Pluto we are already encountering difficulties to make the myth coincide with the astrological meanings (the god Jupiter wasn’t fat, nor talkative, nor greedy, but this symbologies are usually attributed to him); but in astrology the use of mythology clashes in many cases with the actual method of name attribution, and it’s truly naive to think that the astronomers are giving a name according to a superior magical-spiritual-synchronical law and, in the end, are doing a favour to us, the astrologers (even if in some rare cases it was the astrologers who have suggested the name to be given to a new asteroid).
What is the importance of the name in the understanding of the meaning of an asteroid?
Generally, the importance is even smaller than the one that mythology has, at least for one reason: the mythological names can be connected to an event, while the majority of the asteroids is characterized by dull names.
The problem is in the content when we start from an arbitrary selection of asteroids by name (for example all those which have a mythological name), but it reveals itself unable to be solved when looking over the entire list of names.
The study of asteroids based on a serious working method in which the practice enlightens the theory (and not the contrary) demonstrates that there is no need to know the name to attribute a meaning to the asteroid. In fact there are already many asteroids that do not have names, but an alphanumeric code to recognize them.
For what concerns me, in the base of research I find myself better with the last ones, as I am not sure that my mind won’t be influenced somehow by prejudices connected to the name. My opinion is that the most difficult thing, in the analysis, is not to identify a draft of meaning based on the practical observations, but on the contrary, it’s much more difficult to keep your mind free from any type of dialectical conditioning and speculation, linked to the name or the myth, which could be very interesting and wise, but with any probability will end up influencing the practice instead of enlightening it.
How and based on which criteria do we assign a name to a new asteroid?
To many asteroids from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter the name was given randomly (even if the astrologers more fond with the Astrology-Magic-Spiritualism approach are finding some synchronicity in the naming: a mental setting that others should carefully avoid, as it is misleading and aprioristic in the base of the research). It is also useless to hypothesize a synchronicity among the discovery and the assignment of the name, as there is no link among them: to the asteroids is firstly assigned an provisional designation like “1999 RQ36.” than a sequential number and, in the end, sometimes, a name. Only about 5% of numbered asteroids have been given names.
Then the astronomers have started to make distinctions based on the position of the asteroid, its belonging to a group and the way its orbit moves.
Of course, these categories can experiment some changes, as the astronomical knowledge expands (which means that it is possible to discover – and it actually happened so – that an asteroid that was known for a long time as belonging to a certain category, thus having a name analogically related to that specific category, after some new discoveries, had been assigned to an another category, keeping its name.
And it is evident that this can do nothing more than creating confusion and mistakes in those who believe that the name is the first indicator of the meaning.
If the name or the mythology are almost of no help and, in general, they risk to bring even more confusion in one’s ideas instead of clarifying them, does it exist any type of classification that could give at least a general clue of the research? In other words: to keep the mind clean from dialectical prejudices should one start from zero when beginning the research of the meaning of a new asteroid?
Synthetically we can say that the recourse of the concepts before the research are impossible to be avoided, but that in the same time, they should be kept at the minimum possible. To do this it’s necessary to connect to the astronomical observation, accepting the most antique, fundamental, prejudice of astrology: the movement of the planets/asteroids in the space and their position compared to the Sun (or to the Earth, when we start from an another point of observation, more familiar to the astrologers) can be symbolically translated in a way to give indications on the astrological meaning of the planet/asteroid itself.
The next step to this presupposition is the symbolical interpretation of the so-called “orbital language”, a part of which can be considered the “theory” of the ambit.
What do you mean by ’the ambit of the asteroids’?
Basically it’s impossible to study the asteroids in a eficacious manner without first clearly defining the field of symbolic action to which they belong. If we don’t do this distinction, each asteroid infinitely multiplies its meanings and we end up losing ourselves in a total frustration.
- The planets until Mars represent the personal impulses;
- The asteroids from the asteroid belt represent the principles of socialization and adaptation to the social norms;
- Jupiter and Saturn represent the different ways of legality and rationality of human beings;
- The centaurs represent the principles of rebellion against the social order and express the sufferings of the individual that does not conform to the social norms;
- The planets starting from Uranus and after, represent the pulsions that transcend the rational personality: among this, Neptune at the “barrier” of the solar system, over which can be found that do not keep account of the social superstructures, but act according to “superior” symbolic criteria. These are the asteroids (belonging to the Kuiper belt) to which the astronomers give the name of Gods & Goddesses.
What is the orbital language?
With orbital language we usually mean the translation of the astronomical characteristics of an asteroid in a symbolic form. When it’s possible, it should be the main tool with which to determine in a theoretical way the meaning of the asteroid itself (followed by a rigorous practical verification).
The Four Major Asteroids
Some of the tiny planetoids generally found orbiting the Sun in a belt between Mars and Jupiter are felt to hold important astrological influences. It should be noted that the sphere of influence of these bodies “overlap” influences of the larger celestial bodies in some areas. They are, in essence, fine-tunings of the larger picture.
For instance Pallas Athena is said to be able to see the larger, holistic picture from both sides with a sense of fairness (Libra). She represents creativity (Sun) and healing (Chiron) through feminine wisdom. Vesta represents goodness and fulfillment of a greater cause – a trait shared by Uranus.
The table below shows the basic keywords associated with the four major asteroids, and with Chiron.
More Asteroids & Dwarf Planets
Asteroid Lilith: letting go and accepting your natural darker side, and having rebelious power.
Asteroid Persephone: the archetypal victim, suffering pain in relationship, humiliation by abduction and rape. Highly tuned into people’s feelings and needs. Alienated from conventional society. Strong connection to spirit, easily overwhelmed by feelings and impressions from the collective unconscious. Drawn to partners that attempt to dominate/control.
Asteroid Quaoar: having a spirit of intuitive, discovery/clarification.
Asteroid Sedna: having things for you go askew.
Asteroid Pholus: starting small projects that cascade into big ones.
Asteroid Nesseus: radically severing from conformaties, relenquishing denials, then entering new realms of vision and creativity.
Asteroid Asbolus: leading lonelily for survival.
Asteroid Urania: astrology, astronomy, treating principles and information in theoretical way, hypothetical or abstract logic and rationality, ability to see “the whole picture” and not be deterred by details.
Asteroids Briseis and Chryseis:
Asteroid Eris: going/standing against what everyone does (going against what the average person does), being able to share true insights, even though society does not want to hear them.
Asteroid Eros: pouring alot of passion into what you are doing. Sexuality, erotic behavior, the joy of living, what excites us, the will to live.
Asteroid Astraea: detail oriented, seeing things to the bitter end.
Asteroid Iris: receiving/storing holistic information, thinking holisticaly, or thinking up information that is holistic.
Asteroid Child: Aspects relating to the characteristics of his own experiences and attitudes towards/and childhood events (ranging from innocence to immaturity).
Asteroid Sappho: friendship, bond, feeling close or equal to the other, gentle spirits, to have things in common, artistic interests.
Asteroid Apollo: being able to make the best of yourself in the world at large.
Asteroid Bacchus/Dionysus: most open to inspiration and most eager for pleasure and escape from the everyday. Excess, addiction, attempts to alter the feelings, people or situations that suffer substitutions or omissions.
Asteroids Pyramus and Thisbe:
Asteroid Abundantia: We can take it to mean “The Land of Abundance”, or “All things having to do with Abundance.” Abundance tends to have primarily a material meaning, but it can also apply to Abundance of Wisdom, Love, Energy, Friendship – like the description of a Full Life.
Asteroid Lachesis – It is one of the Three Fates of Greek Mythology, “whose decisions could not be altered, even by the gods.” Klotho weaves the tapestry of life, Atropos holds the shears that cut the thread of life, and Lachesis assigns a life span and destiny – obviously a very interesting spot in a chart! I also find this interesting in composite, or relationship charts – indicating the flavor of the destiny of the relationship.
Asteroid Hygiea: Bringing things into a very pure, even ideal, state of being. Medical and health interest (especially in regards to fitness).
Asteroid Proserpina: Taking the line of least resistance (being passive or helpless), learning the consequenses this creates for you, and then changing your actions (sacraficing) do to these consequences. Separation anxiety.
Asteroid Diana: hypersensitive, acknowledging feelings and immediately putting boundaries in place to contain and protect them. In tune with nature and animals.
Asteroid Viv – This word has Italian or Spanish roots meaning “Life.” It also connotes to me that certain “viva” that makes someone noticeable, that spark perhaps that makes them uniquely them. Or in a chart it may indicate where they feel ‘alive’ or what impact life has on them. I find this asteroid most useful in composite charts – a relatively newer method for relationship astrology, in which a single chart is made using the mid-points of each person’s planets. Although the composite Sun is an important basic factor in the “life force” of any relationship, (friends, family, co-workers, or lovers), Viv is an interesting body also pointing to more directly the ‘spark’ where both partners feel most alive in the relationship, or what can keep the relationship alive. I look to conjunctions especially to describe this aspect.
Asteroid Pandora: Reaching out to unexpected consequences, get “most of the efforts”, being seduced by a curiosity.
Asteroid Hephaistos (Hephaestus): talented and skillfull, but have others not understand you, avoiding you. Problems with limbs. Abandonment by the parents (most often by the mother). Tendency to unusual relationships (variations on the theme of “Beauty and the Beast”). Contact with metals.
Asteroid Nemesis: The Achilles heel. The Black Beast. The need to blame, to make someone a scapegoat. The identification of the “enemy”. The error or the reason for a problem.
Asteroid Circe: Helping, be of assistance and come to the rescue; act as facilitator.
Asteroid Psyche: recognition of childhood trauma, psychological wounds, vulnerability, memories, inspiration, psychic vulnerability, psychological healing, head injuries.
Asteroid Panacea: what we believe we will help to find solutions, cures or remedies to the problems (not only related to health).
Asteroid Sisyphus: restart, feeling like running against the wind. You must start again from the beginning, having the rug ripped out from under you when you think you’ve just arrived at the destination.
Cupido: associating with groups, and being arty.
Hades: can end up being shameful.
Zeus: fiery, creative, and leading.
Kronos: lofty and extraordinary.
Apollon: being progressive and abundant in energy.
Admetos: intense and focused.
Vulkanus: greatly forceful.
Poseidon: idealistic and honarable.
Finding Asteroids In Your Chart
Until recently, you would have had great difficulty finding this out, but thanks to astro.com and serennu.com you can find out where it is in your birth chart! To find out where these bodies are in your chart, you can do this online using the “Extended Chart Selection” option on astro.com.
Some of these planets/asteroids require entering in codes. The code “hh” will include all the uranians, but you must draw these in a seperate chart, for you can only draw so many planets on a chart at once at this site; also Sedna normally doesn’t show up with the other planets/asteroids. Include Sedna on the Uranian chart, by highlighting the planet in the planet selection window.
For the Asteroid Profiles please visit www.Astrosavvy.com (the link will open in a new window/tab).
James R. Lewis, “The Astrology Book-Encyclopedia of Heavenly Influences”, Visible Ink Press, USA, 2003.
Demetra George-Douglas Bloch, “Asteroid Goddesses: The Mythology, Psychology and Astrology of the Reemerging Feminine”, ACS Publications, USA, 1990.
Jacob Schwartz, “Asteroid Name Encyclopedia” published by Llewellyn, St. Paul.
David G. Fisher and Richard R. Erickson, “The Solar System”, Salem Press, USA, 1998.
Tenzin-Dolma, “Understanding the Planetary Myths” – Quantum, Great Britain, 2005.