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What's Your Myth?

How do the ancient myths correlate with your contemporary lived experience? That's what I set out to discover in Palm Springs, California for a three day retreat taught by none other than Demetra George, co-author of the groundbreaking astrology book: Asteroid Goddesses.

Even though the practice of astrology goes back thousands of years, it has only been since the 1900s that astrologers have begun incorporating the minor bodies (dwarf planets and asteroids) into their readings. The work of Demetra George has initiated a powerful conversation within the astrological community about working with the major asteroids (Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, and Juno) and the rest of the 500+ mythic asteroids--as each one has a story to tell. I myself have been hesitant to work with them, not only because I have been unsure of how they fit into the larger context of a chart, but also due to an overall lack of information and reception within the community. In short, I needed instruction and permission from the Asteroid Queen herself. And indeed, she delivered.

First, a little history lesson: Astronomer William Herschel, who is credited for the discovery of Uranus in 1781, also provided calculations for where he believed there to be a "missing planet" between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Twenty years later, in 1801, the missing planet was discovered by Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi. He named the new planet Ceres, after the patron goddess of his native home of Sicily.

With the additional discovery of Pallas in 1802, it became clear to Herschel that the space between Mars and Jupiter contained not exactly planets, nor were they like comets or satellites. Herschel proposed there be a new name given to these bodies, "if I could in any way express the condition of a nimble, small, interloper going obliquely through the majestic orbits of the great bodies of the solar system, it would be just what is required."* Although many suggestions came back to Herschel, he thought the term asteroid fit best.

Fast forward to present day: There are currently 28,000 named asteroids, and 95% of them reside between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Herschel was correct in his efforts to create an entirely new category for these celestial bodies. They are indeed in a class all their own. So why bother working with something that is so small and so simple as to be strung together into one great "belt" of flying objects?

This brings me back to my question: How do the ancient myths correlate with your contemporary lived experience?

The mythic asteroids can provide profound insights into the workings of a chart that are inaccessible using traditional techniques (planets, signs, houses). When we connect the chart to the entire landscape of mythic narrative, we can begin to access the endless well of truth and contradiction that are mirrored in our everyday realities. When we become aware of the mythology in our chart, we can begin to honor the often hidden archetypes that provide the scaffolding of our lived experiences. By acknowledging and honoring our story, we can begin to heal and understand ourselves on a deeper level.

The beauty of mythology is that it is defined by its malleability. Throughout the ages, the great myths have been passed down though great works of art created by the likes of Homer, Shakespeare, and Botticelli, to name a few. Necessarily, many myths have been adapted and changed throughout time to reflect the ideologies of the dominant regime. Often, the original version of a myth is much different then how we know it today. My point is that a myth can never be fixed, rather it lives within a forever transforming image of itself. At the core of a myth lies the spontaneous expression of the human heart--both tragic and triumphant. Perhaps this is why the great myths have inspired artists throughout the centuries--they never get old! They are the great dreams of humanity.

A mythic approach to chart interpretation involves the art of storytelling. By naming the asteroids in your chart, you call forth their stories and give them a place in order to begin building a relationship. The combined asteroids create a narrative that is unique to the life of the querent. The technique for reading asteroids could be considered simple--much like shuffling cards and laying them out in a spread. When we begin to undertand the handful of myths that speak to our lives, we can begin to ask informed questions of ourselves and perhaps uncover profound answers.

This method of divination involves the creative mind because the myths live in the creative world. There are no technicalities to keep us from "going with the flow" of an interpretation. If a part of the myth doesn't resonate, just focus on the parts that do. The buzzword co-create comes into play here, because the very nature of a myth is changeable, and we have the power to write our story in the same way it writes us.

Of course, it helps to know the mythology associated with the asteroid name. Luckily, Demetra provided a number of handy sites and books to help us asteroid newbies along on our journey. Just because the technique is simple, doesn't mean the world of ancient mythology is! There are so many myths to study, interpret, and reinvent. As an artist, that is what makes this method of chart reading so exciting and inspiring.

On the final day of class we were invited to share the art and myth associated with a prominent asteroid in our own birth chart. The audience of fellow astrologers then had the opportunity to ask follow-up questions in order to draw out aspects of the myth as it may have been experienced in the life of the presenter. The stories that unfolded were truly amazing!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been able to receive first-hand the wisdom offered by Ms. Demetra George. Her work will surely live on in the students that experienced her teachings during this retreat. She spoke of entering into the waning phase of her career as an astrologer. Her focus now was to scatter her seeds so that her work may continue to grow and inspire future generations. Her seed is safe and sown with me.

** Special thanks to for hosting The Mythic Asteroid Retreat.

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