Asteroids: Tiny Objects, Juicy Details
What are Asteroids?
Unbeknownst to many, there are millions of smaller objects that make up our solar system outside of the ten traditional planets. These smaller objects, largely known as asteroids in Astrology, have an undeniably juicy impact in Astrological interpretation.
William Herschel, the astronomer responsible for spotting Uranus, first coined the term ‘asteroid’, meaning ‘star-like.’ Most of these objects sit on the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and range from 6 meters to nearly 1 kilometer across. Although the asteroids are many, their mass is tiny: cumulatively, the mass of all known asteroids would only amount to 4% of the mass of our Moon.
After discovering a new asteroid, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is responsible for giving each asteroid body a name and number. While there are likely more than several million asteroids in existence, only about 5%, or 21,000 asteroids, have been named and numbered.
Many asteroids are named after famous mythological figures (5143 Heracles, 7088 Ishtar) while others relate to pop culture (3834 Frank Zappa, 342843 David Bowie), countries and city names (916 America, 945 Barcelona), and even colors (4955 Gold, 12016 Green).
Beyond the smaller objects, there are a group of asteroids sometimes referred to as the ‘Big Four’: Ceres (1), Pallas (2), Juno (3), and Vesta (4), which were the first four asteroid bodies discovered in the early 1800s. Once we move through a few of the asteroid basics, we’ll look more at the main interpretative themes of the ‘Big Four’ asteroids and why you should start including them in your chart, pronto.
To get a sense of the sheer volume of celestial objects we’re talking about, check out this hypnotic video which shows what our solar system *really* looks like. Not as simple as the textbook diagrams of our high school years, huh?
Why Asteroids Matter
A lot of people ask: “Why would you add more objects to the chart? Aren’t there enough planets already?” If the thought of suddenly injecting your natal chart with 20,000 celestial objects makes you shudder, worry not.
Firstly, based on the asteroid rules we’ll look at later in the post, you’re unlikely to come up with more than a handful of asteroids that have a serious impact in any given chart.
Secondly, although you’ve got to make an independent assessment of the use of asteroids – and I encourage you to do so -the following are the core reasons that asteroids can be incredibly useful.
DEPTH & DETAIL
Working with asteroids in a natal chart adds a layer of depth and richness that just isn’t there otherwise. To me, working with the ten classic planets is like having a beautiful banquet table set up for a sumptuous meal: dinnerware, cutlery, glasses, place cards and all the food. Asteroids are the minute details that can transform the dinner into an unforgettable affair: the background music, the topics of conversation, the wine, the scent of the flowers, the sauces and side dishes. While some may view asteroids as just the ‘cherry on the top,’ I assure you that hasn’t been the case in my experience. A tightly placed asteroid can give you laser-precision insight when you’re wondering why your seemingly innocuous Venus or Moon has given you so much trouble.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE FEMININE
Traditionally, there are only two feminine planets: the Moon and Venus. The Moon signifies emotions (among other things), and Venus signifies beauty, sex, and love (among other things). All other planets are masculine (Sun, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter) and one is gender neutral (Mercury). It’s somewhat limiting as a statement on the place of women in the world, no? Like anything else, you cannot divorce Astrology from the cultural paradigm that produced it, and unfortunately, Astrology was birthed from a mindset that was not particularly lady friendly. Working with asteroids, and particularly the ‘Big 4’ asteroid Goddesses (Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta) levels the playing field considerably, allows for a more balanced representation of the feminine archetype, and recognizes the importance of the varied roles women play throughout their lives.
Asteroids offer valuable insight into traumatic events as well as unexplainably problematic natal chart planets. Many of us have experienced tremendously painful events to happen in our lives that hold no apparent connection to the astrological transits of that day. From time to time, I’ve found that the trigger point I was looking for was due to an asteroid tightly conjoined to transiting planets. If we ignore the possibility that these asteroids have a profound insight to impart, we could be missing out.
Equally, a decent-looking planet, in an okay sign and house can give us perpetual troubles; sometimes, a sneaky asteroid can be the source of our foibles.
All of that said, not all charts have significant connections to the asteroids. It is not unusual to find that no asteroids make substantial links within a chart. The name of the game is to stay curious and open-minded.