Group Initiation: Ceres in Aquarius

Dear Friend and Reader:

Ceres, the dwarf planet and former asteroid, made its way into Aquarius on Tuesday. Earlier in the year it made a long retrograde through early Aquarius and late Capricorn; now it’s back in Aquarius to stay for about three months.

Thanksgiving potluck dinner, 2012, held by the Glassdoor company in Mill Valley, California. The Thanksgiving potluck is more of a western US tradition; East Coasters need to get with how much fun this is.

This conjures up some interesting scenarios. I will admit that despite casting Ceres into every chart since beginning astrology, its message has been elusive.

I know all of the standard interpretations — food, grain, agriculture, mother-daughter relationships, healing grief, the relationship between food and emotions and so on — but none of them offered me any sense of understanding.

I cannot think of one case when Ceres opened up the message of a natal chart, as have many other smaller planets. Along the way I’ve worked with more than 100 other points, all of which revealed their message more easily. Then astrologer Philip Sedgwick told me about a book on the history of Cereswritten by Barbette Stanley Spaeth.

The author’s research introduced an idea I had never seen associated with Ceres — what she calls liminality. The way the author uses the term, she is talking about social initiation; that is, transitioning from one phase of life to another.

This resonates with another more contemporary use of the word (not indicated in the author’s research), the threshold of awareness. We’re familiar with the term “subliminal advertising,” which means ideas and images introduced below the conscious level, like the upside down skull and crossbones painted into the ice in a glass in a liquor advertisement.

Ad for the KFC Snacker has dollar bills hidden as lettuce in the sandwich. That’s an example of subliminal messaging.

With this concept of liminality, Ceres began to focus for me into a more accessible body to work with. And now Ceres is in Aquarius for the next three months, which proposes themes like group awareness, group self-awareness, and many topics surrounding the theme of community.

This whole subject area has taken a serious beating since the advent of the Internet (another topic described by techno-themed Aquarius).

Ceres was the second orbiting object ever discovered by someone with a telescope. Uranus — the first found by science — was discovered in 1781, initiating the age of industrialization, invention, electricity and what noted astrologer Rob Hand sarcastically calls “the endarkenment.” The joke is that the years surrounding that era are often called the Enlightenment, but that’s really a stretch.

No other bodies were discovered orbiting the Sun until 20 years later, when on New Year’s Day 1801, technically the first day of the 19th century, Giuseppe Piazzi spotted Ceres.

Originally thought to be a comet, then classified as a planet, then as an asteroid, Ceres was designated a dwarf planet in the same vote as Pluto and Eris back in the summer of 2006.

Though smaller than our Moon, it makes up fully one-third of the mass of the main asteroid belt, with the next 10 largest objects making up the other third, and all the rest — up to 1.7 million objects larger than one kilometer — constituting the remainder of the mass.

Approximate chart for the discovery of Ceres, on New Year’s Day 1801, by Giuseppe Piazzi in Palermo, Sicily. The discovery is recorded for the 1st, and planets are discovered at night. Note the Full Moon — not the best conditions for observing the night sky, but that’s Sicilian determination.

As I understand the history, astrologers only started taking an interest in the asteroids in the 1960s and 1970s, when listings of their placements became available. This was also part of the counter-cultural revolution and increased awareness of women’s issues.

Many of the asteroids are named for goddesses, so this has come along with a rise in awareness of goddess mythology. It was good to have options besides lover (Venus) and mother (the Moon).

But this is still a realm of astrology that most professionals avoid, believing there are too many asteroids to be meaningful, they are too small, there’s not enough written and so on. Anyone who understands the asteroids modestly well has done plenty of original research.

That’s what it takes. It’s neither practical nor useful to do asteroids cookbook style, i.e., Ceres through the houses, Ceres through the signs. If you ever see such an interpretation, consider it a proposed commentary. As with all of astrology, with the asteroids, context is everything. Usually that means understanding the whole aspect pattern, which is never in a book, it’s always in the unique chart.


Ceres in Aquarius: Group Consciousness 

If we take the idea of liminality and apply it to the notion of a group, you get something like, “Are these people aware that they have a common interest?” In recent years, the concept of a group has been reduced to an abstraction.

The Roman Goddess Ceres by Barbette Stanley Spaeth, published c. 1996. This book is worth reading (if a bit repetitive), and so is the academic criticism.

Think of the typical astrology group meeting once a week at someone’s home, with snacks and a live conversation. Then the concept of a group became an email list. This evolved with various networking and chat platforms, but we still don’t have someplace to actually meet and make contact.

So understanding the current notion of a group is like wrapping your mind around something that may not exist in any tangible form. It’s not that ideas don’t occasionally come out of those groups (though in all of my experiences with them, the potential seems vastly underutilized).

Now we don’t say group anymore — the word is community. Everything is a community: the law enforcement community, the medical community, the sexworker community, the artist community, the gluten-free community, and so on. However, these are odd communities, where few people know many other people.

Really, it’s PC language; it sounds good. It does not mean much. Community is becoming what’s called a byword — a word with so many meanings piled onto it that it ceases to have any meaning at all.

Where Ceres is in the scenario, we might propose that a community is where people can share food. That’s a great metric for the awareness point, or the point of liminality. Sharing in the preparation and eating of food is something you might think of as a baseline for community. Where food is lacking, what is there to take its place? Is there anything?

Food really is the bottom line for everyone, as Paul Simon said. Remember that for about three million years, humans and later on dogs followed one another around in little clans of about 15 people. Then sometime during the last 5,000 to 10,000 years, we started to settle down into farms, villages and cities. That is very, very recently.

One of the most significant changes came in the post-World War II era, when the extended family in one large household or villa gave way to the nuclear family (in the nuclear age). Now that has given way to an existence where the tangible concept of a family is unrecognizable from what it was only recently.

This was us! The good (and difficult) old days of hunting-gathering. Living off of the land took considerable skill, planning, coordination and determination. In this article, the author notes that humans became less healthy after the advent of agriculture. Human height crashed.

Still, humans crave contact with one another. We want the reassurance and presence of other people; conditions on Earth have always been difficult, and we know that we cannot go it alone.

That unfulfilled craving, on the level of sex, is now being used against us, in my view (as are many other natural and healthy instincts). Our need to simply be together has been turned into many different non-nutritive commodities.

Humans seem increasingly divided from one another, to the point where it’s difficult to actually recognize common interests. Some are better at it than others. Different cultures have different approaches to group awareness, though currently the entire planet is under the thrall of the Internet. The Internet is to group gathering what aspartame is to honey.

One of the first things I noticed about the Internet in the early 1990s when I got involved was that it’s easy to be rude to people in ways you would not be in person. I noticed I could be deleted. I was angry about that — it seemed callous, and I don’t think things have improved much. In a robotic environment it’s easy to treat people as non-entities; as blips on the screen; as things that respond like automatons. We use the word “dehumanize” a lot and this is a core theme.

In this regard it’s difficult to even think of individuals as people, much less to have a coherent group consciousness.

I would repeat something I’ve quoted and paraphrased many times, from the work of Alice A. Bailey. A group is a group of individuals. Individuals think for themselves, have ideas, relate to others, and so on. Group consciousness is the synergy of many awake minds.

Baseball teams are groups of aware individuals who understand their part in the whole. The crowd is a mass, with no special purpose, and where individuation is not rewarded. This makes the group vs. mass question easy to see. Photo by Jeff Curry for USA TODAY.

When you put a lot of people together whose awareness is below what you might call the liminality threshold, people who are in current parlance ‘unconscious’ and in some way ignorant of themselves as individuals, that’s called mass consciousness.

When individuals separate from mass consciousness and do that miraculous thing called individuate — for example, make their own decisions no matter what others may think — that is when we get to take the next step. Splitting off from the mass is one of the first and most significant initiations — something well described by Ceres in Aquarius.

It’s vital not to confuse the group with the mass. Only people who are grounded enough in their individuality can form a group. The crowd at the Mets game is not a group, nor is the crowd at Burning Man. A group is something with a high level of mutual and self-awareness.

Astrology describes potential, and one potential it’s describing is for some group consciousness to coalesce. This will have a tendency to stretch our ability and willingness to be individuals. That idea tends to rise and fall against the line of true awareness.

We have good reasons to stay awake and to pay attention — and to recognize that these entities among us are human, with feelings, needs and desires not so different from our own.


Marie Claire Horoscope for November 2015, #1073 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — You have problem-solving power beyond anything you’ve experienced before. It’s as if your true intelligence has blossomed and is fully available. Part of that gift involves patience for details, something that’s also frequently eluded you. Put your mind to work on whatever might be vexing you or those you love, and you’re sure to win the game.


Taurus (April 19-May 20) — To do brilliant things, bring yourself to the work every day. The idea that comes to mind is applying yourself, but gently. It’s like applying thin layers of paint or polish to your project, one on top of the next. The gradually accumulating effort will lead to a breakthrough, though when that happens it will surprise you. Just keep going, one day at a time.


Gemini (May 20-June 21) — You’re inclined to be careful, but set a limit on that. As my Aunt Josie was fond of saying, nothing attempted, nothing gained. Any insecurities you may be feeling are really a cover for the desire to dare. Experiment more boldly, especially with ideas, projects and maybe a relationship; the reward will be the satisfaction of having dared, and tried — and succeeded.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Imagine you have guardian angels feeding you information all the time. It’s as if you have a behind-the-scenes view of everything and everyone. The psychological insight that you gain will allow you to work through any challenges and turn them into assets. Trust the flow of your imagination; it’s dependable and accurate.


Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — The planets are urging you to go deep, and to understand what motivates you — particularly, to feel the way that you do. Don’t take how you respond to people and situations for granted. There are many connections you will make, if you care to look. This will grant you clarity that often seems impossible to come by.


Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Virgo is one of the deep-thinking signs of the zodiac, and this month you are at your brightest. You’ll be able to solve any problem you put your mind to, as if some extra burst of knowledge has been given to you. Yet the truly magic ingredient is that you’re willing to dare. You’re willing to do something rare and actually use your mind.


Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — After many twists and turns, your life is starting to make sense again. But if you look back, you’ll see that everything that’s happened over the past several months makes sense in a way that it did not seem to at the time. This is truly a new start for you — take advantage of this; choose a bold, new challenge and rise to the occasion.


Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — There will be times this month when you are bestowed with the authentic power to heal. Start with yourself. If you have the idea, “I no longer need this struggle” — no matter what it is — take the cue to set your intentions and focus your strength. The door to a better life, and letting go of the past, is wide open.


Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — These weeks will offer insights into yourself that will benefit you for many years. Yet you will need to be open, aware and listening to yourself. The voice that speaks to you may only be whispering, so keep your ears peeled for the sound of your inner wisdom. Then there will come a moment when you know exactly what to do.


Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Recent developments and movements in your world have set you free from some emotional bog, and are pointing the way to the future. Yet you may be wondering whether anyone else is interested in coming with you. For now, don’t even think about this; the planets are guiding you on a journey that only you can take.


Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You’re being called to fulfill your mission — not just in your mind, not just on your resume, but in the wide and wild world, where it matters the most. You only need to be a little confident that there is a place for you and your talent; then be just a bit pushy, and that space will open up.


Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You’re highly sensitive to your environment, and to the people around you. Yet you are also opening up to a refined sense of how to think of the future. Notice if you get information about what direction your life is taking, and trust that implicitly. Your vision is exceptionally clear right now, and time is on your side.

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