We’re in the last few days of the Sun’s transit through Libra. It’s been interesting, hasn’t it? The past few weeks has included a total lunar eclipse in Aries, Mercury retrograde, and now a sequence of conjunctions in Virgo (Mars-Jupiter, Venus-Jupiter, Venus-Mars).
Before the Sun ingresses Scorpio on Friday, Oct. 23, it will pass through the late degrees of Libra. The sky is clear of major planets in the late degrees of signs, though Ceres, now called a dwarf planet, is in late Capricorn. All week the Sun will be approaching a square to Ceres.
Previously Ceres was considered an asteroid (before that, a planet, and before that, mainly for political reasons, a comet); it seems less dwarf-like when you consider that it makes up one-third the mass of the main asteroid belt.
The next 10 largest asteroids make up another third of the mass, and the remaining tens of thousands of objects make up the remainder. It’s true that size isn’t everything, but it’s worth knowing about.
More significantly, Ceres was one of the most important goddesses of the classical Roman era. She meant many things to many people, and her role changed over the centuries, making her an exceedingly complex mythological figure, involved with everything from equality between the classes to her best-known feature, agriculture. However, more than the ‘goddess of grain’, Ceres was regarded as she who makes things grow.
And, significantly, Ceres was associated with rites of passage, or what in anthropology is called liminality. Think of this as emerging from one state or stage of life to another — something our society fails to recognize almost entirely, but without which cultural life cannot function (and we’re seeing plenty of that dysfunction). Part of our culture’s obsession with marriage is that we have no other rites of passage.
Over the years that Ceres has been used by astrologers (this is relatively recent), she has come to represent the nexus of nourishment where food and the emotions merge into one idea. Parents nourish children with food; food is an important part of courtship rituals; when society is healthy, food is a center of community life and activity. (Note, there is more to the astrological delineation of Ceres, though that’s for another time — let’s stick to food.)
Our entire world is what it is because of the invention of agriculture. Our cities and empires are built on the backs of farms and farmers. At the dawn of civilization, writing was invented to record instructions for the production of food.
But we have a little problem in our society: food has been almost entirely divorced from its emotional content. It’s now rare that people consciously choose to nourish one another with food. It’s easier to call up for a pizza or Chinese. The family dinner table is virtually nonexistent except for the most ardent traditionalists who see how important it is.
The skill of preparing a meal, so recently knowledge as basic as walking or getting dressed, is now a kind of esoteric subject, best left to experts (nutritionists, graduates of the Culinary Institute, etc.).
Meanwhile, for many people, that dinner table was one of the most tumultuous and painful places of their childhood, where all the conflict of the family was expressed with the most emotional violence. This has had a way of emotionally contaminating what should be one of the friendliest and nourishing aspects of life.
Over the past century our food has been increasingly sprayed with toxins, which is now reaching a new peak thanks to the use of glyphosate (Roundup) and 2,4-D (Agent Orange) on nearly all genetically-modified plants — which you end up eating.
Suffice it to say that our society has Ceres issues. And now the Libra Sun is square Ceres in Capricorn. We have the intersection of our personal relationships with Ceres in a sign that really does describe the problem of government and corporate control over our food supply.
We still have plenty of influence here. Most places, it is actually possible to buy fresh and alive food. It is possible to prepare food for another person, or people, with loving intention. It’s possible to have hand-made food be an emotionally sincere gesture.
It is one thing to consider food a practical necessity, or a kind of medical defense system, or a lavish art form. It’s another to see it as a matter of survival.
It’s something else entirely to consider food one of the most basic and beautiful experiences of life, offered in a gesture of friendly intimacy. As Paul Simon said, food is the bottom line for everyone. It’s good to remember that — and to choose some way to express it lovingly.