The centaur planet Nessus and the asteroid Ceres, which played integral roles in Tuesday’s Full Moon, are keeping our focus. Today it’s Mercury that is entering the opposition aspect, by conjoining Ceres in Leo (exact at about 10:46 am EDT) — just hours before the Sun’s ingress of Virgo at 7:02 pm EDT. Along with the immediate questions about ‘what’s in our industrially produced food?’ suggested by a Nessus-Ceres opposition, Mercury is also bringing to mind our modern attitudes toward ‘caretaking’.
First, a little extra info on Ceres. Most of us are familiar with her themes of protective motherhood, mother-daughter relationships, the seasons and agriculture from her roots in the Demeter/Persephone myth.
Apparently, however, Ceres was in charge of much more in Roman mythology and society.
The oldest Roman goddess, she seems to have come out of the transition from hunter/gatherer societies to agrarian life. Ceres ‘supervised’ a group of 17 other gods and goddesses, and was involved with fecundity in all forms (grain, reproduction), initiation rituals, rituals after returning to society after some form of absence or exile, working-class people of all sorts (plebes), upper class women and political propaganda.
Ceres is old and complex, though in Leo there is a particular affinity with both the harvest themes (in the northern hemisphere, Leo is the height of summer) and the idea of ‘taking care of’ (Leo is concerned with the good of humanity, the heart and the life-giving/life-sustaining Sun).
We often speak of Nessus in terms of its overtones of sexual abuse patterns, but the idea of ‘abuse’ can be broadened in this case. A commenter going by “mimik” mentioned the following about Nessus under the Full Moon blog post:
“The Greeks understood hubris to be a breach of natural law, humans messing with the natural order of things, that put a curse on future generations until a descendant came along and discovered the original ancestral breach, named it, and cured it.
“As a centaur, Nessus in this lunation feels very much like an energy calling our attention to natural laws and human laws (the centaur half-animal/half-man quality), and the deeply abusive generational patterns of the patriarchal and industrial age vis-a-vis nature.”
In terms of our food supply in this age of corporate agri-business, that idea of collective hubris perverting natural laws rings true. Nessus used his own blood, poisoned by the arrow that killed him for his transgressions, in a final act of dishonesty and revenge. At no time in history have humans lived with so many poisons in our water and food supplies. We have no idea what is in most of what we eat.
Nessus seems to represent a similar agent of perversion when it comes to the idea of ‘taking care of’. ‘Caretaking’ has become a dirty word, referring to a dysfunctional, co-dependent style of relationship: you deny your own needs while enabling the narcissistic or infantile habits of others. Many people have taken to distinguishing ‘caretaking’ from ‘caregiving’, which is a healthy way of caring and relating.
In dysfunctional caretaking, the idea and act of ‘taking care’ has become a weapon of control and self-martyrdom. And like many bad habits, it’s often one passed through the generations. Daughters are especially likely to have learned it from their mothers (keeping with the Ceres theme), though people of either gender may perpetuate it.
Now here we are on the verge of the Sun’s ingress of Virgo: the sign of the goddess and service to the world. Perfect timing for Mercury’s reminder of the difference between ‘caretaking’ and ‘caregiving’, so that we can choose consciously which pattern to engage in. The world needs your creative energy — not your baggage.