The Aug/Sept issue of the Mountain Astrologer has an excellent article on Ceres and Pluto by Shirley Soffer.
In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union made the official announcement that Ceres was upgraded from asteroid to dwarf planet, while Pluto was downgraded from planet to to dwarf planet. Soffer suggests we view them as a planetary pair in relation to each other.
While astrologers have certainly worked with Pluto and some with Ceres, Soffer suggests that by understanding the mythology behind them, it is easier to see how they are related.
Mythologically, Ceres and Pluto are opposing figures in the life of Persephone. Ceres, her mother, is a vegetation Goddess, which we recognize in the word 'cereal'. Her Greek name, Demeter, means 'Earth Mother'. She rules over everything that grows from the soil. Clearly, her domain is life and all that nurtures it, especially food.
On the other hand, Pluto rules the Underworld and is lord of all that is beneath the earth. Death and transformation are forces within his domain. Called the 'Lord of Hidden Wealth', his domain includes underground springs, fossil fuels, minerals, iron ore, silver, gold and diamonds.
Taken together, Ceres rules over all the riches on top of the Earth and Pluto the riches beneath the Earth. Both very important to human life. Our over-consumption of the underground riches however, threatens to poison everything above ground.
In a nutshell, the mythological story of Persephone, Ceres and Pluto, was that Persephone was out picking flowers (narcissus) and by doing so accidently opened a hole into the underworld. Pluto reached up and pulled her in. Ceres (Demeter) searched and searched for her daughter, then in mourning, forbid any plant to grow until she had her daughter back. Life on the earth whithered and died. She said she would not allow anything to grow until her daughter was returned to her.
Ceres appealed to Zeus, who soon realized that if all the humans died, there would be no one to worship him. The Law said that no one could come back from the Underworld. Eventually, a deal was struck so that Persephone would be released, but since she had eaten pomegranate seeds, she had to return to the underworld for part of the year.
In her article, Soffer writes about several themes in relation to Ceres and Pluto such as: 1) the depletion of resources both above and below ground and how this will impact the food supply; 2) processes of transformation - well-known for Pluto; for Ceres - the processing of food into energy: 3) the relationship between life and 'killing' - something must die to feed something else - even vegetarians 'kill' to eat; 4) the psychological relationship between mother and daughter - sexual coming of age of the daughter; and 5) the psychological themes of attachment, separation and loss. She explores these themes using charts of famous people whose lives have had strong Pluto/Ceres aspects and contacts.
The article was extremely informative and thought-provoking. Astrologers have written about the relationship between the discovery and/or the naming of a heavenly body and events on the ground. I began to wonder what could be the meaning of Pluto being 'demoted' and Ceres 'promoted'? Now they both have equal stature and are lower on the planetary hierarchy.
Could it have something to do with power and how it has been viewed since Pluto's discovery in 1930? I wrote in my other blog how there was a concerted effort to 'jump-start' the economy after the Depression. In addition, Roosevelt's many social programs assisted people in getting 'back on their feet'. Between the governmental programs and the success of advertising, as the econonmy began to recover, more people had access to things that had once been strictly available to the rich, such as cars. There was a huge shift from rural to urban lifestyles. Women had more rights and independence - having a career instead of or in addition to a family, which meant that the demand for 'labor-saving devices' became a priority for industry.
All of this meant more and more resources coming out of the ground and fewer farmers on the land. The family farms, lost during the Depression or ruined by the Dustbowl, were taken over by banks then large companies and eventually large-scale commercial agriculture was born and with it the increased use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Little did we know the effects of our success. World War II saw the development of even better ways to kill people, including the many chemical products created by the Nazis and our own atomic bomb. Now Pluto (plutonium) could kill us all.
So how does all this relate to Pluto and Ceres?
When the Lord of the Underworld (think of all the crime that occurred in the 30's and how the criminal lifestyle is referred to as the 'underworld') begins to reach up out of his domain and grab the 'innocent', it leads to death and chaos on the earth. We have been extracting and mining too many resources from under the earth and transforming them into poisonous substances so that we can have more power and control over Nature.
Because of our overuse and misuse of resources, we are now teetering on the brink due to global warming, pollution of Nature, extreme weather conditions, to name just a few. In the midst of this, Pluto is demoted. Pluto's seductive offers of power - like compacts made with the Devil, are no longer appearing desirable. People are wising up to the reality of the fact that they have been soiling their own nest for riches and fame. Mom Nature, mourning the loss of our innocence and purity, has begun to shut things down.
But wait, as Pluto was demoted so was Ceres promoted. Zeus has begun to intervene. Everyday you hear of another company, agency, country, or powerful individual getting on the band-wagon for change in the way we use resources. Corporations have begun to realize that without customers, they are out of business. The way to stay in business is to change. In the '60s we tried to burn it all down and return to the land. That didn't work. Rather, today's young people are finding ways to strike a compromise. Make Green profitable.
In her presentation at UAC, Misty Kuceris emphasized Ceres as a compromising force. Finding a way to get two disparate forces to work together. In the myth, Ceres compromised with Pluto by accepting that her daughter, now a woman, would stay in the underworld for part of the year and would return to the surface, as her daughter, part of the year. We are in the midst of the paradigm shift that has been written about and predicted for years. Seeds planted in the '60s are coming to fruition in the children born then who are finding and implementing solutions.
Perhaps the compromise will mean that in order to survive, we will need to learn to live with less. We will see that it is untenable that a few people should live in comfort while millions are suffering. We will seek and find different sources of power. we will find value in simpler things, closer to home, inside ourselves, rather than external to ourselves. We will realize that true power is in our ability to give and receive love and that the Beatles were right after all. Love is all there is.