Makemake and the Equinox

Dear Friend and Reader:

Today is the equinox — the Sun arrived in Libra overnight Monday to Tuesday in most time zones where our readers live. What distinguishes this equinox from any other is that a planet called Makemake is right in that first degree of Libra, and the Sun is now aligned with it.

Makemake with two birdmen, carved from red scoria, or volcanic rock. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

I mentioned Makemake on Thursday; till then I had not given it any press (Len Wallick has, though). Discovered in 2005, Makemake is considered a dwarf planet, orbiting our Sun in just under 310 years. Since it’s in the ring of planets just outside of Pluto, it got named for a creation god (rather than an underworld god like Pluto — that’s the basic naming schema).

It was discovered by Mike Brown at Caltech, along with other noted discoverers Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz — a rather famous discovery team, the one that spotted Eris (among many other objects). These guys are good at naming planets, often pointing to lost or forgotten myths and the cultures that created them. Those include Sedna (the Inuit creation goddess), Eris (a Greek goddess with quite a reputation) and Quaoar (creation god of the Tongva people, who used to live near what is now Los Angeles).

Makemake is the creation god of some people who live on an island called Rapa Nui — that is, the natives of what Europeans call Easter Island. This island, home of the most remote airport in the world, was the subject of the book Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl’s description of his 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean from South America to reach Rapa Nui by raft, mainly to prove that it could be done.

To call Rapa Nui a volcano with a runway, perched in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, would only be a slight exaggeration. What we have in Makemake is the deity of people who lived on this tiny little island (as far as they knew) for eternity and had to figure out where they came from.

The people of Rapa Nui once practiced a form of ancestor worship, and from what I have read, Makemake is a kind of successor in interest to that earlier mythology (called the Moai era). Those enormous statues that are the main attraction on this island are depictions of long-deceased progenitors of various lineages, what you might think of as the human form of creator gods — supposedly long predating the era of Makemake.

However, there is also evidence in oral history that the Moai statues (weighing up to 86 tons each) were created and put in place with the assistance of Makemake — that would easily explain it, wouldn’t it? Most of the other theories seem less convincing — which makes me wonder just who is actually depicted in those enormous statues.

Moai facing inland at Ahu Tongariki, restored by Chilean archaeologist Claudio Cristino in the 1990s. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Makemake cult is associated with an incredibly dangerous annual ritual where men would compete to be the Tangata manu, or Bird Man.

This involved swimming to a small island near Rapa Nui, collecting one egg from a species of bird called the manutara, or sooty tern (found on a remote cliff), then swiming back to Rapa Nui with it. The Tangata manu would then get to hang out in retreat for a year as the spiritual leader of the clan.

And now we have this whole ball of history and mythology handed to us as a planet, which we can read in astrological charts, and today, the Sun is conjunct this point. Planets often take on delineations that differ significantly from the mythology, though I’ve found that it always helps to have a feeling for the myth involved (without getting too distracted by it).

Nothing that makes an exact alignment on the equinox is a mere coincidence. Without interpreting any more than I have, I will leave you with this whole story to contemplate like a dream.

I have been mulling over this planet for a while, and it’s evocative in a way that feels very 12th house — I feel things, and perceive things, that I cannot easily put into words. It is reaching back into the very ancient past, with a message or an idea that I know is relevant. The gods do indeed show up when we call them, and today is a great day to listen for that message.

At present, the bottom line I am getting is “respect for the mystery of it all.”

With love,

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