Eris is Spending the Weekend

Dear Friend and Reader:

I haven’t mentioned Eris for a while. Those of you newer to Planet Waves may not have been privy to prior discussions, so I’ll make sure this article links to resources in case you want to go deeper into this truly contemporary astrology subject that is so rarely mentioned.

Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, from the Berlin Antikensammlung museum.

Eris was the ancient Greek goddess of discord. Her subsequent Roman counterpart was named Discordia, who shows up in the work of sci-fi author Robert Anton Wilson as a kind of patron saint of reality.

We live in chaotic times on just about every level of existence. Often there seems to be no safe or quiet place, and our minds are frequently overrun by concerns, anxiety and keepin’ on in the midst of the chaos. Wilson figured we may as well honor and respect the goddess of chaos if we live in chaotic times. I think he had a good idea.

Eris is a slow-moving planet orbiting our Sun. By slow-moving, I mean it takes more than twice the time Pluto takes to orbit the Sun — 558 years (Pluto, considered a slow-mover, takes 248 years).

Eris was discovered in 2005, which led to the ‘demotion’ of Pluto the following year. If you’re ever wondering how that happened, look to Eris. As I explained in an article in The Mountain Astrologer a few years ago, the discovery of Eris raised the issue of the minor planets, that is, smaller but meaningful bodies orbiting the Sun. The article begins with an astonishing story about Stephen Colbert and Eris, by the way.

Eris was discovered and given a minor planet number (136199). Then astronomers said, OK, Pluto is like Eris so we’ll call it (134340) Pluto. The joke here is on astrologers who ‘believe in’ Pluto but don’t ‘believe in’ the minor planets. Well, Pluto is one. And nobody can deny that it’s a full-strength factor in any chart. But while most astrologers pay attention to Pluto, most are still either ignoring Eris or have not quite gotten the joke yet.

It took astrologers quite a while to get hip to Pluto, which was discovered in 1930. Even during the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the mid-1960s, there were no books written in English about Pluto. One book had been translated from German but was not commercially available. A pamphlet came out in the early 1970s and the first book in English, by Jeff Green, came out in the 1980s.

A modern rendering of Eris from the Monsters and Mosh Pits website. Eris is often depicted with the Apple of Discord.

So it’s not surprising that Eris is taking a while to catch on. It does not help that Eris represents everything that everyone fears about women the most, as told through the psychology of the ancient Greeks (who were not exactly feminists).

But as a planetary discovery, Eris has certainly had an impact. Eris, though very far from our Sun, is much brighter (reflective) than Pluto, which led astronomers to speculate that it was bigger than Pluto.

In astronomy size is allegedly meaningful (not so much in astrology), and that focused the debate about whether Pluto is really a planet and if not, what it really is.

So the category dwarf planet was created for a few of those things that are not really a planet. Currently Eris, Pluto and three other objects are considered dwarf planets, those other three being Ceres, Makemake and Haumea. They all orbit our Sun.

This weekend, the Sun is conjunct Eris. By that I mean that the Sun, Earth and Eris align such that Eris is directly behind the Sun from our standpoint on Earth. This is exact at 7:23 pm EDT (23:23 UTC) on Sunday.

This happens once a year, always in April. Eris moves slowly, but its orbit is also very stretched out and egg-shaped, and currently it’s close to its farthest point from the Sun. Hence, nearly everyone alive has Eris in Aries. Eris arrived in Aries in 1925 and will remain there until 2048.

A planet moving through one sign this slowly presents challenges to many astrologers who are used to things moving along rapidly. When looking at Eris, we have the question of how it influences the sign and all the concepts associated with Aries in our era. We can look at what happens when other faster-moving planets make contact with Eris.

That’s exactly what’s happening now — the Earth, the Sun and Eris aligning in what is called the ‘Sun-Eris conjunction’. When this happens, we can get a clue what Eris is about. I consider the Sun conjunct a newly discovered point to be a potential proving moment. Way back in 2008 I wrote this piece about Sun conjunct Eris, called Calling Home the Castaway Woman. One of my theories about Eris (as a concept and natal chart placement) is that it describes how women can address being outcasts.

Scene from the myth of Eris painted by Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678). The apple is at the center of the scene.

As for our current moment. The chaos and discord that Eris represents seem to have only fermented and in many ways worsened. This is a good time to check in with this chaos factor. On one level it seems to affect society itself, which you might sum up as the madness of the world — the warfare and the nonstop changes and the insanity of our society.

Yet where Eris really manifests is as an internal aspect of the psyche. You can think of her as the chaos of identity that so many of us are going through, so persistently. In part because society itself is changing, and in part because we’re all being shot through an evolutionary vortex, it’s really not possible for most people to have too firm a hold on who they are for too long.

For a while, beginning with the Beat Generation in the 1940s and through the Human Potential Movement of the 1970s, we had cultural modes for focusing that quest for self. People used terms like self-actualization and many people would go to therapy and group therapy rather than take prescription meds. A book like Games People Play could be a bestseller. Moreover, we had not reached the 1980s with its neo-puritanism taking hold and convincing many people that consciously experimenting with sex was automatically something impure and suspect.

We no longer live in that world. We lack those outlets for self-questing, and the terms — literally, the words and phrases to have the conversation — are all but forgotten.

Part of the chaos of Eris is that of the digital age. Now, Eris in Aries long predates the digital age, but I have reason to believe there is an association between the two, since digital is the extension of all electronic technology, which becomes popularized with radio. Commercial radio broadcasting begins in the 1920s, just when Eris enters Aries.

Eris, the planet, was originally code-named Xena, after the Warrior Princess program. This gives an excellent clue to one of the basic qualities of the planet, which is postmodernism. In other words, not everything has to make perfect sense or follow the script or outline.

But there’s another clue. Uranus is also in Aries. Uranus has just finished making seven squares to Pluto, and we’ve now entered the ‘separating phase’ of the Uranus-Pluto square. As that develops, it leads to another major aspect — Uranus conjunct Eris in Aries.

By major aspect I mean another era-defining event. There was a Uranus-Eris conjunction when Eris was still in the first degree of Aries, back in 1927 and 1928. It’s taken this long (nearly a century) for Uranus to orbit the Sun and make contact with Eris again. That aspect will be exact about a year from now, in June 2016, through March 2017. This aspect has never been tracked historically that I am aware of. However, we have an excellent case study right now, and from past transits that I have sampled, it’s gonna be interesting.

Here is the digital piece of the equation, and where it meets the psychic chaos factor of Eris in Aries. One thing the digital revolution has done is basically explode the idea of self-concept. We are now fragmented in various devices, identities, handles, email addresses, social media identities and various PR presentations on LinkedIn and all its cousins.

The digital age has arrived with a great wave of impatience. The same attitude that thinks there can be understanding of something in the time it takes to tap an icon is also associated with a new concept that self-understanding is just as easy to attain.

Cartoon image of Eris/Discordia by Tommy Simms. Since the naming of Eris, her name and archetype seem to be undergoing a revival.

We also have the theme of people becoming either automatons or extreme followers under digital conditions. In other words, we relate to ourselves and one another through the robot known as the Internet.

Humans become like the media they imbibe and are surrounded by, and we’re all gradually becoming more robotic as we let robots teach us how to think.

This process, which looks and feels a lot like Uranus in Aries, is about to engage with a much older process of self-chaos — Eris in Aries. When a conjunction this powerful is a year away, we are well into its effects and influences.

This weekend as the Sun aligns with Eris, we are going to get a window into the Eris piece of the process. (The Sun was conjunct Uranus this past Monday, so we got a taste of that a few days ago.)

Eris has the property of radical intervention. I don’t think that Eris in Aries is going to stand for people becoming robots, or even like robots. But what might intervene as the Uranus-Eris conjunction takes hold remains a mystery, with many possibilities that I think we have to consider carefully. Eris, Uranus and Aries are a combination of hot energies that are not necessarily cooperative, they could be destructive, and they will need some careful thought and grounding to be used well.

However, we may just get a hint over the next few days as the Sun shines its full light on Eris and transmits it to Earth. Keep your ears on and your eyes up.


Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, April 9, 2015 #1044 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Relationships are not everything and everything is a relationship. Or as Thaddeus Golas once wrote in The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment, “We are equal beings and the universe is our relationships with one another.” What has recently developed with another person is likely to have shifted your orientation not just on that particular encounter, but on existence. You have seen through something, perhaps a belief you held about the world, or an appearance that you were taking for ultimate reality. What you’ve really experienced is the propensity of people and their circumstances to change. As a result of taking this on board, your own story is moving in some interesting directions. You are likely to be free in a way that you were not before, because you’re considering real data from your environment rather than something you wanted to be true. This will have a way of bringing you closer to yourself — and allowing you to be closer to others.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You contain a person or personality who is not concerned with the normal rules of social conduct. This is the truly free aspect of who you are. The thing is, most of the rest of who you are is deeply concerned with social conduct and appearances, and this can set up a struggle. It would help if you allowed the different facets of your inner existence to coexist. This would begin with acknowledging the many personalities you contain as you become aware of them. Yet there’s a risk in doing so, which is a risk to your self-image of propriety. I would say that’s a good thing to challenge, to gamble, to experiment with. You can only have self-respect if you see yourself for who you are (the word respect is about witnessing; it literally means ‘to see again’). Self-respect means looking at yourself over and over, and raising the level of your inner conversation to something you can hear and share with others. Do tell. We will all find it interesting.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Venus in your sign bestows a special kind of intelligence. Your sign is ruled by Mercury, and Venus and Mercury are neighbors, more similar than most astrologers recognize. Mercury bestows a quick-witted kind of mental intelligence. Venus, which arrives in your sign on Saturday, describes what I will call an aesthetic intelligence. In Gemini, you might say this is about beautiful and elegant thinking. It’s offering you more than a strictly logical approach to your circumstances. There is a new kind of information coming; it arrives with both a shift in your perception and your ability to simultaneously hold two points of view and have them not be in conflict with one another. When you’re evaluating something, try feeling what is true rather than ‘thinking’ about it. And notice whether an idea is beautiful and how that affirms its relative truth. Venus is another way of looking at the world, and she’s coming soon.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You’ve been making bold moves, experimenting with real decisions and in truth entering new territory in many areas of your life. You seem to be going deeper than ever — and reaching higher than ever. But this rarely goes as expected or planned, so I suggest you work without either expectations or plans. Rather, keep your mind on a vision, on something you’re aspiring to, and let it be something unusual. There is a theme of taking authority by subverting some custom or idea of culture. It’s as if you’re determined to do something your own way, and make it work in a way greater than anyone would expect. You can do this, though you have to be clever, and you have to pay attention to your environment. One of the operative factors is your reputation. This is a tool you can work with. The chances are you are known for something unusual, or you have some special achievements to your credit. Play them up and make sure you do everything you can to stand up and stand out.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — What you believe is more radical than you may know. You’ve been getting little clues about that here and there, though you’re about to get a big one. The clue seems to be related to changing your mind about something, or revising your plans. This is in service of some long-range goal. Yet I would remind you that in truth, the only such goal you have involves who you are becoming. Your external plans are representations of your inner reality. The challenge here is that you prefer to have a very stable inner sense of self, while there exist a diversity of factors that are making that unlikely or impossible. You want some stability; and your environment, inner and outer, seems to be handing you nothing but change, and a changing idea, of what is necessary. Over the next few days, the two sides of the equation will align: the side that wants consistency and the side that is demanding progress. There is a meeting place, and it will surprise you.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You must learn to speak the language of those you would seek to influence. To do that, you must know what they want. Yet what you want is just as valuable and necessary right now. Your chart suggests you can get past the illusion of separate interests, which also means getting past the notion of competing interests. There are aspects of your plan that will work for others and aspects of their plan that will work for you. You will be in the role of the person who is guiding things into the mix-and-match win-win situation (there’s a bestselling buzz phrase for you!). So start mixing, matching and winning. While you’re doing that you may have to clear up some misunderstandings that have emerged the past week or so, and I suggest the best way you do that is first by listening, and second, by acting only on information you have confirmed to be true.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — The recent lunar eclipse may have shaken your confidence, or so it seemed for a moment. Really, you’ve been going through a kind of initiation. You are figuring out that you are the most solid ground on which you stand. You are your own home. No matter who you share your life with, you must be at the center of your existence if that sharing is to be meaningful. Some might say this makes you less vulnerable, by which I mean able to be open to the emotional presence of others in a deep way. Being centered and able to relate from your core is what makes vulnerability and therefore intimacy possible. Discovering this is part of the long journey you’ve been on since Pluto changed signs in 2008. It may have felt like your previously solid ground was crumbling beneath your feet. Yet what was really falling apart was an outdated idea of relationships that no longer worked.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You might notice that a relationship partner becomes more conversant with you about things that were previously taboo. I suggest you allow them the space to open up and speak, without asking. Leave your door open and make the environment safe by reminding them that you’re listening and that you care. I think you’ll hear something over the next few days, and if you don’t, gently bring up some topic you’ve been wondering about. You’re in a very good position to see things from the viewpoint of another person. One of the main shifts that a partner has been through is something similar, the ability to consider two seemingly competing possibilities at once. Yet those possibilities don’t really compete or negate one another. They actually support one another. The same is true for differing opinions the two of you may have. Honoring difference is essential, and making it work for you is a form of art.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You seem ready to burst through some creative barrier. That means making peace with being different, among other things. What I would suggest is an indirect approach. For example, someone might make a political statement through some form of serious writing; someone else might do it indirectly through art or music. I suggest you take the most subversive route to making your point, which will encourage you to keep whatever you’re doing creative, adventurous and risky. By risky I mean taking the chance to do something different, or in a different way, with each thing that you do. Really pause and consider your methods and your approaches to the puzzles and projects of your life. You may need to go out on limbs where you know you may be less than comfortable, or make others uncomfortable. That is one hint, not proof but a hint, that you’re taking creative risks.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You may be seeking security and finding a form of chaos. It’s as if the more security you seek the more chaos you will find. You might change approaches and dance with the fact of a kaleidoscopic world, a world where everything influences everything else. Because that is true, this thing known as ‘meaning’ must always be seen in context, and given room to grow. That’s a hint that there is no absolute meaning to anything, but rather information to be gathered from how any one circumstance influences you now, and how you influence it. Humans have a tendency to want fixed definitions and permanent states, though definitions morph constantly and the state of the world is in a constant state of change. Where does that leave you? A little like a dancer moving to the music rather than the choreography. This is to say your life is more like the Barefoot Boogie and less like Swan Lake.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — It looks to me like there is something you want to put in writing, though you may be running into some issues. One of them is the feeling that it’s not possible to say this thing, exactly, and mean what you say. Get used to that — it’s probably not possible to fit exact meaning into words, and have that same exact meaning appear in someone else’s mind. Therefore, do your best and express yourself sincerely. Go for the feeling as much as the facts. Second, it would seem that what you have to say could pop someone’s mind — that is, it might be controversial. That’s the direction to go in. I don’t mean intentionally stirring people up but rather, inwardly, moving in the direction of not being afraid to do so. In other words, be mindful of when your inner censor says, ‘Don’t say that! You’ll get in trouble!’ That’s the thing you most likely want, and need, to say.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You’re having to make a lot of decisions about money lately, and what you’re likely to be discovering along the way is what is truly important to you. In astrology, the same house — the 2nd, which in your chart happens to be Aries — covers your resources, your values and your self-esteem. Resources means money, equipment, supplies and most of all, talent. Values means your personal constitution, which by the way is getting amended regularly as you set new values based on new experiences. Self-esteem is the inherent respect you have for yourself. One message from that facet of your mind is that you’re figuring out how radical you are. Radical has two meanings: it’s commonly said to mean one who dares to challenge the status quo, such as a revolutionary. Semantically, the word means going to the roots of whatever is in question, in this case yourself. Upcoming aspects describe you going deep, and gaining confidence expressing yourself from your core.

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