Just when you thought you’d finally gotten your head around astrology’s planets, signs, houses and aspects, along comes another factor to incorporate into your natal chart – asteroids!
But what exactly are asteroids in astrology and how can we interpret them?
Which Asteroids are Used in Astrology?
There are hundreds of thousands of known asteroids in our solar system. However, most astrologers use only a handful of these, with a major focus on what are known as the ‘big four’ – Ceres, Pallas-Athena, Vesta and Juno.
What is the Importance of Asteroids in an Astrology Chart?
Asteroids – the biggest of which can be around 600 miles in diameter – are rocky objects which are thought to be the remnants left over from the creation of our solar system. With astrology being a symbolic language, this is relevant for the interpretation of asteroids in the natal chart – we tend to consider that asteroids represent some part of our psyche which is not fully integrated into our whole. Asteroids sometimes act as the missing link to something we don’t quite understand about ourselves, and the interpretation of the asteroids therefore adds another nuanced layer to the interpretation of the birth chart.
Let’s take a look at the four major asteroids in turn. You’ll notice that they are all named for Roman goddesses, and indeed the influence of each is primarily feminine in nature.
What Does Ceres Mean in Astrology?
Ceres was the first asteroid discovered, in 1801 by Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi.
Ceres was named for the Roman goddess of agriculture, who was also the sister of Jupiter and the daughter of Saturn. As well as ruling over farming, Ceres came to be associated with food, and by extension with nurturing and comfort – and by extension from there, with mothering and the maternal instinct. Indeed, Ceres is sometimes known as the Great Mother.
In astrology, Ceres speaks of fertility, parenting and how you like to feel safe. She also tells us about your connection to the earth itself and your feelings about the environment that sustains and nurtures you. When Ceres is well placed in the natal chart, she boosts your ability both to care for others and to be cared for yourself. However, when challenged in the birth chart, Ceres can be associated with eating disorders, smothering love and psychological issues from childhood.
What Does Pallas-Athena Mean in Astrology?
Pallas-Athena was the second asteroid to be discovered, in 1802 by the German astronomer Heinrich Olbers.
Pallas-Athena was named for the Roman goddess of wisdom, who also happened to be Jupiter’s daughter. Pallas-Athena ruled over wisdom, diplomacy and justice, but she was also not afraid to fight if necessary, which is why she is often depicted carrying a spear. Clever and a master of strategy, Pallas-Athena was even capable of defeating powerful Mars.
In astrology, Pallas-Athena speaks of organizational skills and strategic abilities. She sees patterns and links where others cannot and is highly intellectual in that sense. She is also tough – so a well-aspected Pallas-Athena in your chart can tell us about your resilience. If this asteroid goddess is in a difficult position in your natal chart, however, then she can represent gender conflict, injustice and an inability or unwillingness to hold onto your own power. Pallas-Athena may also be prominent in a chart where gender expression in the individual’s life is prominent.
What Does Juno Mean in Astrology?
Juno was the third asteroid discovered, in 1804 by German astronomer Karl Harding.
Juno was named for the Roman Queen of the Gods – Jupiter’s long-suffering wife and also the goddess of marriage. Juno is also associated with infidelity and jealousy, boundaries in relationships, and empathy.
In astrology, therefore, Juno represents the kind of marriage or relationship we would ideally like – and how much we’re prepared to put up with from our significant other. When Juno is well-placed in the birth chart, she speaks of a karmic, soul-level connection in a significant relationship, and of the willingness to ‘do the work’ which any successful relationship requires. When Juno is poorly situated in the chart, however, she can represent issues with fidelity, or problems with inequality within a relationship.
Quite apart from love relationships, Juno can also talk to us about other ‘loves’ in our lives – for example, her placement in the chart may highlight an area of life – an interest, a calling or a career - which sometimes threatens to take priority over love.
What Does Vesta Mean in Astrology?
Vesta was the fourth asteroid discovered, in 1807 also by Heinrich Olbers.
Vesta was named for the virginal Roman goddess of the home and domestic life, a daughter of Saturn and sister of Jupiter. Vesta was also the keeper of the sacred flame in her temples, and in this way, she represented immortality. In ancient Rome, women known as the Vestal Virgins became priestesses, committed to chastity and purity, so for this reason Vesta is also associated both with abstinence and with sacred sex.
In astrology, Vesta speaks of self-sufficiency and resourcefulness, as well as your ability to focus and your level of self-respect. She can also tell us where your own eternal flame or passion may lie, and how you can best keep it burning. However, when poorly aspected in your natal chart, Vesta can allude to promiscuity or conversely an inability or unwillingness to be intimate with another. Challenges represented by Vesta can also include denial of one’s own true nature, or fanaticism in pursuit of a goal.
How Important are the Asteroids in a Natal Chart?
It’s important not to over-state the significance of the asteroids in a birth chart, even when we’re dealing with these big four asteroids.
Typically, the asteroids can be interpreted as adding further knowledge to what the birth chart has already revealed to the astrologer; their influence is not strong enough to over-rule or significantly alter an interpretation which has been made via the normal planet-sign-house-aspect route.
Think of the asteroids as offering complementary input into an astrology chart, rather than conflicting input.
What Other Asteroids are Used in Astrology?
Many of the first thousand or so asteroids to be discovered were given highly symbolic or mythological names, which means that these can easily be used in astrology if wished – remembering that astrology is a symbolic language, these asteroids can be thought of as expressing something about their own mythology within our charts.
Given the thousands of asteroids in existence, we can’t offer an entire list, but here are some interesting ideas to whet your appetite:
- Achilles – represents your hidden weakness
- Eunice – shows where good fortune may favor you
- Fama – represents where and how you may find fame … or scandal
- Feronia – speaks of your connection to the wild and the wilderness
- Fides – represents how trustworthy you may be or areas in your life where you may struggle to trust others
- Hygeia – shows your capacity to heal others
- Nemesis – hints at where you may find enemies
- Pandora – represents where your curiosity may lead you – or catch you out
In fact, if you have some time to spare and want to learn about the nuances of astrology, playing around with asteroids is a fun thing to do. Who knows what you might discover!