by Boots Hart, CAP
TNO Deucalion was discovered on April 18, 1999, just as everyone on Earth was getting all excited about entering a new millennium, an event Earth itself probably didn't give a frog about. If someone had inquired, Earth would probably have shrugged (causing an earthquake or two) saying it's seen dinosaurs and empires and raised and washed away whole mountain ranges. So what's a millennium or two? Exciting for human denizens, maybe. But for Earth? Not so much.
In the world of astronomy, Deucalion is a Cubewano, a term which sounds a bit like a Cuban sandwich but which actually means that it orbits beyond Neptune without being affected by Neptune's powerful orbital resonance.
Astrologically, this "Neptune resonance effect" is all about whether other celestial objects are "colored" by the polar precepts of idealism or of illusion—those being twin Neptunian keywords. These both can be taken in most any direction. Emotionally, they're fear versus faith. In the physical world, they're self-limitation versus being limited by circumstance (say by health or incarceration). Mentally or philosophically, this is the embracing of mankind at either a spiritual or psychological level (i.e., the Jungian collective), versus being so darn sure you know what's right that anyone who thinks anything else is totally, utterly, simply completely wrong.
Again astronomically, one of the most interesting things about Neptune, and that which would seem to contribute to its orbital resonance clout is that Neptune's primary moon, Triton, rotates backward vis-à-vis planetary rotation. It's the only moon around which does this, and in doing so, it turns the whole of Neptune into one grand magneto—a planet-sized magnet capable of throwing off vast magnetic (i.e., "influential") effects. Thus Neptune serves as both an astronomical and astrological divider: objects beyond Neptune but inside the boundaries of the solar system are members of the Kuiper Belt (that's the astronomical part) which astrologically speak to "new" information which we learn from, adapt to and grow into—because they come from beyond the Neptunian veil of ideals and unknowingness.
Into all this we now add the two astrological "rules" about Neptune. The first says that wherever Neptune is found in a chart, that's a blind spot which requires an allowing ourselves not to know. And that requires disengaging the ego—a tough job for anyone! Informative however is what happens when we try to ignore this rule: we tend to get it backward (the Triton effect!) and thus end up dis/illusioned. Got the metaphorical idea? And yes—if this sounds familiar (to you astrological types) it should—it's the whole precept of the 12th house and sign of Pisces, both of which are associated with Neptune.
This leads us to formulating Deucalion as first being a Cubewano (a Kuiper Belt object unaffected by Neptune) which isn'theld in a "Neptunian sway." There are scads of celestial objects which have been "captured" by Neptune's magnetism, but Deucalion isn't part of that tribe. This alludes to being an individual, being on one's own, going one's own way, having one's own opinion and having the ability to learn through perspective gained from history, or from the results others get from their choices or actions. This fits with Deucalion's TNO (Trans Neptunian Object) status being defined as new information we have to examine, judge the merits of and use in future choices.
Yet because Deucalion's orbit also lies inside Pluto's (see chart) it represents things distinctly of our world. Pluto can be summarized as an irresistible power of evolutionary process—earthquakes and ice ages are Plutonic, as are birth, death, war and sex. So Deucalion is about charting a course between the kinds of irresistible and obsessive powers (or powerful obsessions) symbolized by Pluto, on the one hand; and on the other, all which represents the surrendering individual judgment (Neptune). It's the issue of "steering a course": staying within rational bounds whether in life or within our own psyches.
Orbit of Deucalion
||13 March 1781
||23 Sep 1846
||18 April 1999
||18 Feb 1930
||5 Jan 2005
||15 March 2004
*au = astronomical units. An astronomical unit is approximately equal to the mean distance between Earth and the center of the Sun…about 93 million miles/ 149,598,000 km.
From this we can deduce that the proper use of Deucalion energy requires a calm focus on the facts (the rule for facing Plutonic challenges) while holding ourselves to being inspired by Neptunian ideals without becoming blinded by them—lest we defeat our own cause. This is the very definition of being self-contained—on one's own—dealing with things in real time, as you find or come upon them in life.
So there's our (very) philosophical start, the laying of the Deucalion foundation on well-tested astronomical/astrological models. Next comes the myth. In the case of Deucalion, the story is very much like that of Noah, give or take a few rather Greek pitfalls. In this version of the flood, it isn't the highest gods (or God of monotheism) telling Deucalion to build an ark, it's Deucalion's dad, Prometheus. Nor are there any animals, which is a very Greek de-tail, as it were. But that fits with the ancient Greek thrust, because the culture of that time was all about being a human being, from medicine to athletics to sculpture to understanding how human conceptualization works. One of the great core "glories" of ancient Greece was its march toward separation of the power of belief (Pluto/Neptune) from Deucalion rationality, quite in keeping to the idea that ancient Greece was the point at which science (astronomy) splits away from philosophy (astrology and/or religion).
This idea of rationality as Deucalion fits with Deucalion as Prometheus' son, too. Not up on all things Promethean? Well, Prometheus also parted ways with Zeus' "this is how the world is" rule when he stole fire and gave it to humans. In so doing, Prometheus gave human beings a say in their own fate—gave humans that thing we call Free Will. Fire gave humans a way to stay warm without being "beholden" to the sun (god) and gave them light, the eternal symbol of knowledge. Through learning to harness this gift, humans have come to be greatly independent of nature (divinity), thus changing the course of life on Earth through use of power and knowledge leading to the pluses, minuses and intricacies of our modern world. (And yes, Zeus was pissed—more on that later.)
Yet there's a whole other way to see Prometheus "gift" to humankind, one which every parent recognizes. To parents, children are a gift, and also, their "gift" to the world. This "gifts" Deucalion with a whole new light (all puns intended.), giving Deucalion an elemental fire/air coloration: fire representing the source human light, as the Sun, with air the medium through which light transmits the "source" (being creativity itself). Metaphysically, this adds solar/fire concepts of ideal will, motivation and pro-activity (equaling choice), with air being the astrological element of thought, theory and logic. Together, this equals Free Will—and the consequences thereof.
And about that flood…? In the Greek version of our tale, Zeus orders the flood because he's completely outraged by one King Lycaon's sacrifice of a human child to Zeus—an act which recalls the biblical story of Abraham, whose faith(Neptune)is tested in a particularly telling manner: when told to sacrifice his son. Abraham's humanity is resurrected (Pluto) through a Neptunian surrender to God, through which Abraham finds his true Deucalion course and human(e) purpose.
Bringing Abraham's story in is a particularly interesting parallel in that by combining that with the flood, this Greek myth embodies two of three Old Testament covenants—that of Noah and that of Abraham. In roundest terms, the covenant of Noah is about being God's people and that of Abraham pits personal priorities against moral considerations against reverence for God, raising questions regarding the respect for human life and biologically sacred bonds of family. This infuses the symbolism of Deucalion with the notion of that individual human quest we all face—that of finding a right path which balances beliefs and desires without falling prey to either: it's the classic Neptune/Pluto human quandary.
And if this is true, should we see Deucalion (as he who masters the flood) as symbolically aligned with Moses? Patterns we're meant to know always repeat, so Moses' tale—which is certainly all about the inheritance of parentage and role of Free Will—is certainly worth considering. Raised as Prince of Egypt (then ruled by kings thought divine), Moses learns who his real parents are and chooses to accept his mortal nature, because of which he is then charged with the task of leading his people out of slavery to (the) promise (land). As he (and they) accept the task of finding their true path, God then delivers the tablets of the commandments and the Torah at Mount Sinai, a transition point along a long hard (40-year-long desert) road, during which Moses confronts his moral humanity as the people he leads confront and grapple with their own, while struggling through the rocky process of personal reclamation after hundreds of years of enslavement.
Slavery isn't something people simply walk out of, after all; anyone subjected to slavery (especially those born into it) must literally learn how to be self-empowered, how to be an individual replete with Free Will—yet another picture of finding a path between the ego denial and submission of Neptune and the domineering energies so thematically Plutonic. In the Bible's tale, the instructions for doing this are all in the tablets we call the Ten Commandments and Torah (books 1-5 of the Old Testament).Religion totally aside, they are texts on how to live a moral and ethical life, which is why Jews refer to Torah not as liturgy, but as "law." Torah and the commandments are about how live a decent human life, how to be person who has and utilizes Free Will without forgetting about, or trespassing on, the provinces of God. In other words, how to live a Deucalion-esque life.
All of this leads to an interesting consideration. Deucalion was discovered in 1999, about the time when fundamentalism began becoming more pronounced around the world in every religion. By definition, fundamentalism is a very strict form of religious observance, so strict that some might call it enslavement, and others might refer to as a loss of Free Will. And if fundamentalism is in any sense slavery, or a relinquishing of some integral human gift in the name of God, is it better to be "enslaved" by God than by a human being? How does that fit with our sense of why we were created, however you see that? In the greatest sense, this is the Prometheus/Zeus question all over again—with a dollop of Moses/Pharaoh of Egypt on top. And whether you're religious (or even spiritual) or not, this is an intriguing question in how it recalls the reason for the whole Deucalion flood: the sacrificing of a human child. What is a life worth? And particularly for those who think of humans as God's children, this question presages the whole roster of modern questions about abortion, stem cell research, fertility treatments (etc.) which so test our spiritual/moral/human ethos. Is this not the sum and synthesis of Biblical challenges given Noah, Abraham and Moses, as well as the Deucalion light of knowledge leading to rational choice, both as a necessity given our native human issues with power, spirituality and submission, and one being tested here in the years following Deucalion's discovery? What do we humans do with a discovery if not delve into it's qualities, trying them on for size?
Again, back to the flood. Unlike that of the bible, the Greek flood isn't caused by rain. Instead it's created by the Greek god of oceans, Neptune (speaking of…), who at Zeus' command raises ocean levels, flooding everything. We humans are discussing ocean levels right now—in connection with global warming. In fact, the signing of the Kyoto Protocol (an international agreement dealing with global warming) ended on March 15, 1999—a scant month before Deucalion's discovery. And no matter which side of the global warming/environment discussion you're on, the idea of being a good steward to our planet is a vital moral question both on the individual and global level, making the raising of the issue another facet of mankind's ever-expanding course on what it means to be a thinking part of Existence. In a more Deucalion vein, this also pits classic ego-less, Neptunian, "the greater good" dynamics against ever-popular Plutonic themes of control and desire for power and profit, with the costs sometimes known and sometimes wholly denied.
One other note on floods. Water being the element symbolizing emotion, to have a metaphysical "world flood" suggests a time of tidal emotionalism. Being that astrologically, elemental water is also associated with money and wealth, Deucalion's arrival on the scene as world economics were moving into red-line stress conditions seems (painfully) apt. And before we discuss the Scorpio link in greater detail (that being where Deucalion is at the moment), spending a moment on what these stories say about traditions religious, cultural, familial (etc.) also seems apt. In the myth, Deucalion (and his wife, Pyrrha) survive because dad Prometheus tells Deucalion to build an ark in which to ride out a storm meant to wash away all mortal evil. And much as this symbolizes the "tried and true" passed from generation to generation, it's also plain that solutions of one generation (Prometheus') don't seem to keep successive generations from making their own versions of the same mistakes. This seems vital too—and very Greek—Greek culture having been all about both the glories and foibles of being human (just look at their gods!). So on this level, Deucalion may actually be about how we temper our reverence for tradition against our need to be an individual and live in current times. That takes perspective—and the ability to be a real adult, not just somebody's grown-up child.
The flip side of this is a sort of "blindness" typified by Pluto and Neptune in one of two ways. With Pluto, the question is either thinking you know all or nothing (power vs. helplessness). With Neptune, it becomes a blindness of ego, whether expressed as fear, martyrdom, idealization of faith, unrealistic expectations or abdication of self worth (or worth of the Self, if you prefer). Apparently there are prices to be paid whether you're a megalomaniac or a serf, which Deucalion would have known about, having seen dad get punished for giving fire to the people. Because Prometheus broke Zeus' order, humans got Free Will. With that, they gained not only the ability to do good, but to screw things up too. So was Zeus theoretically ticked off at not remaining in Plutonic control—or because he didn't want humans to have anything dangerous they could hurt themselves with (Neptune)? Alas—the story does not say.
Yet given the idea that unbeknownst to us the universe is unfolding as it should, all things must have some sort of ultimate positive purpose. That word "purpose" implies conscious recognition, which is neither Neptunian or Plutonic. So maybe in the Big Scheme of Things Deucalion was discovered in 1999 as a karmic piece of timing that this myth would arise as a "reality" (the celestial object) as humans were about to enter the new millennium and face a time of stress perhaps reflective of Prometheus' punishment, which was to be eternally chained to an isolated rock having his liver eaten every day by an eagle.
Setting aside the many countries which use the eagle as a symbol (that being a subject too vast to contemplate here) the ancients thought symbolically of the liver in two ways. The first held that the liver was the seat of a "sanguine" temperament, referring to those of us who function at emotional extremes—either the very angry (Pluto) or the overly optimistic (Neptune). The second version held the liver as source of all the emotions and also as the key to human health, an idea which sounds very modern, holistic and psychologically current. So: does the mythical Deucalion choose a "narrow" path because he sees and dislikes his father's errors (or results thereof)? This suggests a whole other version of family inheritance, since studies show that where parents are highly rigid (i.e., "narrow") children rebel, and where children see their parents as too lax, they go more conservative—often radically so.
Like all new celestial points, this one needs yet a lot of research and statistical testing done before we can be totally secure in how Deucalion functions astrologically. But everything we've seen so far suggests it concerns the acceptance of responsibility for having Free Will, the utilization of which requires that we be not blind to the consequences of our action—that our choices must be not merely functional, but moral in nature.
With all this now set out, on to the climax of our story! The flood occurs, Deucalion and the wife ride it out, and finally the waters recede, setting the ark down on a mountain which, depending on which version you read, is either in Greece or Italy. Whichever it may be, Deucalion then consults an oracle of Themis (evidently no one's left on Earth but Deucalion, his wife, and one oracle). The oracle says: cover your head and throw the bones of your mother behind your shoulder.
Themis is a primal goddess whose name translates literally into "law of nature." This means that "mother" is a reference to Mother Earth (Gaia), making the "bones" Earth's rocks and stones. So Deucalion and Pyrrha do as instructed, and in doing so (re)create the human race: her rocks become women, his become men. In referring to Earth/Gaia as Deucalion's mother, Themis has also reminded him of the interconnectedness of all life and what it means to be a unique, natural creation, a human being—with all the privileges, obligations, gifts and responsibilities that being human implies.
Since covering one's head in that day was usually with a hood, burnoose or cowl, that (plus the implication that we think with the brains covered by same) suggests Deucalion and Pyrrha were also being told not to think about or second-guess what they were doing, but simply to act as agents of creation (Pluto) and to have faith (Neptune) that their task was merely to channel the energy of creation without trying to control or over-manage it. They were supposed to just continue on their way, leading us to that central metaphysical maxim: unbeknownst to us, the universe is unfolding as it should. We have the choice to trust this statement or not, the choice to try and control everything or knowingly pursue our own path, making careful choices as we go. Thus in the chart, Deucalion may show where we each get tested. Are we conscious of finding a path between extremes? Are we moral? Are we a self-contained, self-governing individual?
Having an orbital length of 295.540 years, Deucalion is—as noted—currently transiting Scorpio. A fixed sign known for intensity of emotion, Scorpio tests our values in interactive settings. In all such situations, commitments and relationships, we put something we value on the line: talent, time, money, emotions, sexuality—something! In doing so, we hope for the best, but must also accept some risk. This is why Scorpio has such a tough reputation as sometimes we win—and sometimes we lose. And it's particularly in the moments of loss that we understand the nature of a "fixed" sign—Scorpio being one of four and the one which, being elemental water, is about our feelings. People go into partnerships, relationships, investments, efforts, with a desire to "fix" something in their own life or that of someone else: they fixate on an expectation. And if that doesn't come true—if we lose—the disappointment and hurt often become fixed in our minds.
Standing where we are in modern history, it may be apt also to look back. A half Deucalion cycle before the 2008 US Presidential election, as Tolstoy was formulating War and Peace, Abraham Lincoln was first elected president. Like Obama, Lincoln also became president in a time of economic stress. In Lincoln's case, that stress crystallized in a debate over federal versus states' rights which led to secession and Civil War.
During that war, so many people claimed God (divine morality) was on their side that Lincoln finally wrote:
The will of God prevails—In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for, and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is somewhat different from the purpose of either party—and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect this.
Deucalion was in Taurus then, Taurus being the ultimate sign of security, a drive which underlay the Civil War's genesis as a fight over economic matters. This is good news for us, since it implies Deucalion challenges focus through a polar opposite sign. War is a Scorpio event where the thing of value being risked is that ultimate thing which can be risked—life. Deucalion's the current transit of Scorpio tells us that the risk is to how we view personalsecurity. The battlefield is money, and vast rivers of economic blood are being shed, yes. But if the question is really embodied by the sign in opposition to Deucalion's position, the moral question centers in our values, challenging us to see that although our notion of individual satisfaction and security is and should be freely crafted, true individuality is found through the ability to exist peacefully within a society and world which has only one mainstream—that of overall acceptance, where Free Will is given to all, and any version of its choices are foisted upon no one.
Given that national debt came into being during the Civil War, it's also metaphorically apt if the whole idea of credit and debt personal and national now reaches a crisis, and a turning point. What will happen? We don't know yet. But if we look to the Civil War for our example, it appears that Deucalion's lessons take a rather long time to bear fruit: it's taken half a Deucalion cycle for the freeing of American slaves to come to the electing of President Obama. So no matter what this current economic storm produces, we'd best plan on its issues staying with us for a while.
In all of this, perhaps we need to ask ourselves—in a rational, moral Deucalion light—what our personal storm really is about. As in the Civil War, some assumptions will prove right, some wrong, and there will be grief enough to regret, and triumphs also to celebrate. Again, looking back, there was as much opportunity as strife in war's wake, and it may do us well to heed the reminder that history shows that some of the most despicable things about post-Civil-War America were the immoral profiting from misery and helplessness which went on then. And yet so much which was so good also has arisen from the ashes of that time.
So maybe Lincoln is right. Maybe these great passages of human trial—these Deucalion floods—are really about purposes beyond imagining simply because we're so accustomed to thinking about our own lives and egos and not what others will learn from our having lived them.
Free Will, anyone?
Boots Hart is an ISAR-certified astrologer with over 25 years experience. She is a featured columnist for New York Spirit Magazine, long-time contributor to Zodiac Arts and author of a humanistic science-fantasy book series being brought to publication and film production. Boots can be reached at Mentorus@gmail.com for questions or astrological services.