As asteroids go, Hebe (pronounced HEE-bee) is an anomaly, in more ways than one. Although not among the largest in the Main Belt, unlike most of the estimated one million plus asteroids which are generally loosely aggregated rubble piles, Hebe is very dense, with a solid foundational core. This one body may account for as much as half a percent of the total mass of the Main Belt, and its highly reflective quality makes it the fifth brightest of its peers. It seems certain also that Hebe is the source of up to 40% of the meteorites which strike the earth, by comparison of their elemental composition with Hebe’s spectrum.
Hebe is a longtime companion of ours, astronomically speaking, the fifth asteroid discovered, on 1 July 1847. Named for the ancient Greek goddess of youth, a handmaiden of the Olympian pantheon, Hebe’s astrological connotations extend to service functions and personnel, waiting attendance on others, enabling and facilitating others’ needs, and codependent behaviors.
But the ever-nubile Hebe also has affinities with hebephilia, an eponymous sexual attraction for persons post-pubescent but legally under age. Often confused with pedophilia (an attraction for sexually immature children), hebephilia was commonplace in the Middle Ages when lifespans were considerably shorter and children of wealthy or noble families were affianced while still in the cradle, and married as soon as they entered puberty. The attraction she represents is a strong and biologically natural one, constrained only by societal strictures and evolving customs or mores.
It is asteroid Hebe’s influence on human sexuality which will be the focus of this article. Her astronomical qualities may shed some light upon her astrological function as well. With a dense composition, Hebe suggests the enduring, foundational nature of human sexuality, often at its most intense during the onset of puberty. The meteorites she sheds so freely indicate the continuing “impact” of her burgeoning sexuality on our collective psyche, and her status as among the brightest of her class shows the highly visible nature of her effects.
Those effects were in the news once again in late 2012 with the controversy over Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash, who resigned in late November after a series of allegations emerged from young men who claimed to have had sexual relations with the creator of the wildly popular Elmo character, before the legal age of consent.
Fondle Me Elmo
Born 17 September 1960, Clash was drawn to puppetry from an early age; the first puppet he created, at age 9, was made from the lining of one of his father’s jackets. Within a few years he had crafted more than 90 puppets, and regularly performed with them in small community venues such as schools and church fundraisers in his native Baltimore. He caught the eye of a local children’s show host who hired him to perform, and followed this with puppet manufacture work for the popular nationally syndicated “Romper Room.” In 1979 he appeared as the Cookie Monster in the Sesame Street float at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, where he met series creator Jim Henson, who became his mentor. That same year, at 19, Clash began a five-year stint with the “Captain Kangaroo” show, where he crafted puppets and made occasional on-screen appearances.
Captain Kangaroo was cancelled in 1984, at which point Jim Henson hired him for what would be a 28-year association with Sesame Street. The following year Clash took on the persona of Elmo, the fuzzy red moppet with a 3-year-old’s perspective, and sparked a ratings bonanza which led to a successful string of merchandizing deals, including the “Tickle Me Elmo” toy craze of the mid-‘90s.
Clash was married for 17 years, and is the father of a 19-year-old daughter. He and his wife divorced in 2003, and in November 2012, after the first allegations emerged, Clash, who continues to deny the charges, came out publically as gay: “I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter.”
The first allegations, by Sheldon Stevens, were reported in early November 2012, but withdrawn two weeks later. When a second young man, Cecil Singleton, came forward, followed by two others unnamed, Clash resigned from Sesame Workshop on November 20. All accusers said they were 15 or 16 when they began their involvement with Clash, and several continued after they had reached the legal age of consent.
Kevin Clash’s birth chart shows a number of aspects which suggest a homosexual bent, and someone inclined toward partners younger than oneself, and possibly underage. A combination of Mercury and Venus at 9 and 18 Libra is the most basic of these, suggesting a romantic attraction (Venus) for young people (Mercury). These square Saturn at 11 Capricorn, often a sign of a blocked or frustrated desire for intimacy, and a common combination in the charts of gay persons.
Saturn further conjoins TNO Salacia at 14 Capricorn, a Kuiper Belt point from which we derive our word “salacious”, meaning “lustful or lecherous, conveying an undue focus on sex.” Linked with Saturn, this suggests that career matters will be bound up with sexual actions considered socially unacceptable, at some point in the life. The square from Salacia to Venus/Mercury indicates the specific nature of the scandal would involve romantic relationships with youths.
Pluto at 6 Virgo is conjunct asteroid Sappho at 13 Virgo, a point named for an ancient Greek lesbian poet, and an astrological significator of homosexual attraction. The combination with Pluto suggests both a deeply felt, biologically-based affinity with gay issues, as well as potentially devastating results accruing from that urge.
Hebe itself appears at 27 Scorpio, dominating the chart in two very complex patterns. First, it forms a Grand Cross with opposition to centaur Nessus at 28 Taurus and squares to Uranus at 23 Leo and Chiron at 28 Aquarius. Hebe governs sexual attraction for youths, Nessus is a point which indicates inappropriate sexual advances or acts, and Uranus rules shocking or unexpected revelations, as well as unorthodox or socially unacceptable behaviors. Chiron indicates a wounding of some sort, and also incites maverick behaviors, dancing to the tune of a different drummer, acts which others see as outside the norm.
Uranus further lies in a stellium with asteroids Kevin at 22 Leo and Ganymed and Dick, both at 25 Leo. Asteroid Kevin of course ties this energy directly and very personally to Kevin Clash, while Ganymed, named for a mythic cupbearer and young boy who was Zeus’ lover (and Hebe’s male counterpart in the Olympian revels), adds the element not only of homosexual liaisons but also relations between persons of greatly disparate age or social class (Clash was at least twenty years the senior of his alleged partners, an established success involved with High School age youths). Asteroid Dick, as a common English euphemism for penis, rears its head (so to speak) in many sex scandal stories of this nature.
The second pattern involving Hebe is a Yod, or Finger of Fate, formed with Hebe at its apex and inconjunct aspects to natal Mars at 28 Gemini and asteroid Pecker at 28 Aries. Mars in Gemini, Mercury-ruled, is another indicator of sexual attraction for younger partners, and Pecker, another common penis euphemism, performs in much the same manner as Dick. The Yod configuration suggests some level of fatedness or predetermination to the pattern, something inevitable and unavoidable. Note that both patterns, but especially the Yod, key off of Hebe.
Although the original accusations were withdrawn, Sheldon Stevens appears prominently in Clash’s nativity. Asteroid Shelton (#5953, for Sheldon) falls at 23 Gemini, conjoined Mars and part of the Yod pattern, also opposed Jupiter at 24 Sagittarius, bringing notoriety, publicity, and public attention or awareness. Asteroid Stevens (#38540) appears at 25 Virgo, conjunct the Sun at 24 Virgo and in a T-Square with Mars/Jupiter.
When Kevin Clash resigned on November 29, Hebe at 5 Scorpio was exactly conjunct transit Saturn, with asteroid Pecker close beside at 4 Scorpio, an image of rampant male sexuality (Pecker) involving underage partners (Hebe) which impacts career (Saturn). These conjoin Neptune at 7 Scorpio in Clash’s birth chart, an image of the disappointment and disillusionment the charges created for Clash’s many fans, as well as his own dashed dreams.
The transit Sun at 28 Scorpio was within a degree of natal Hebe, exactly opposed Nessus and activating both major patterns in the natal chart. Transit Salacia at 23 Pisces was forming a temporary Grand Cross of the natal Sun/Mars/Jupiter T-Square. A pairing of transit asteroids Ganymed and Lust at 6 and 12 Virgo mirrored the natal Pluto/Sappho conjunction, with Dick also present at 11 Virgo, all these squared by transit Jupiter, inflating and publicizing the situation, from 12 Gemini. Mercury at 21 Scorpio retrograde had just squared transit Nessus at 22 Aquarius, linking youths and inappropriate sexual actions, and both were closely aspected to transit asteroid Kevin at 20 Aries, by sextile and inconjunct. Kevin also opposed natal Venus at 18 Libra.
Statistically, hebephilia is far more prevalent among men, but women can be affected by the disorder as well. Perhaps the most famous modern-day female hebephile is Mary Kay Letourneau, the Washington school teacher convicted of having sexual relations with her 13-year-old student, Vili Fualaau, whom she bore two children.
The 34-year-old Letourneau, nee Schmitz, had been married to her husband Steve for almost fifteen years and had four children, when she began her affair with Fualaau in 1996, while he was a student in her sixth grade class. A relative of her husband informed police of their relationship when Letourneau became pregnant with the first of Fualaau’s children, and she was arrested in March 1997. Convicted on two counts of second degree child rape, Letourneau was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and three years’ sex offender treatment. She gave birth to the first of their two daughters in May 1997 while out on bail.
As part of her probation, Letourneau had agreed to terminate all contact with Fualaau, but the couple secretly continued the affair. Police discovered the two having sex in her car in February 1998 and as a repeat offender, Letourneau was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. Already pregnant, she gave birth to their second daughter while behind bars that October. The following May, Letourneau divorced her husband while incarcerated, and surrendered custody of their four children to him.
In August 2004, Letourneau was released, and Fualaau, now 21, filed a motion in court for a reversal of the no-contact order between them. On May 20, 2005, the couple were married.
In Mary Kay Schmitz Letourneau’s birth chart (born 30 January 1962), Hebe falls at 5 Taurus, in a conjunction with asteroid Child at 8 Taurus, reinforcing its impact. It squares her Sun/Venus conjunction at 10 and 11 Aquarius, and also Saturn at 3 Aquarius, adding the flavor of teaching and career to its effects.
Letourneau’s Hebe is sextile Vili Fualaau’s (born 26 June 1983) natal Sun at 4 Cancer and squared his Nessus (inappropriate sexual acts) at 3 Leo, with her Hebe/Child trined his Ganymed (partners of widely disparate age) at 8 Virgo. Letourneau’s natal Nessus at 27 Taurus is exactly sextile Fualaau’s natal Saturn at 27 Libra, which, paired with natal Pluto at 26 Libra, forms an image of a deeply transformative, compulsive, taboo sexual relationship with a teacher.
A number of repeated degrees further bind the two charts, with Letourneau’s natal Mars at 28 Capricorn squared her natal asteroid Kaye at 28 Aries, which are inconjunct and sextile to Fualaau’s natal Mars at 28 Gemini. Letourneau’s natal asteroid Mary at 17 Sagittarius conjoins Fualaau’s natal Hebe at 22 Sagittarius and is exactly semisextile her natal Salacia at 17 Capricorn, exactly sextile her natal Jupiter at 17 Aquarius (which falls exactly on his natal Salacia), and exactly squared his natal asteroid Schmitz (#1743, for Schmidt, Letourneau’s birth surname) at 17 Pisces. Fualaau’s natal asteroid Mary at 3 Gemini conjoins both his natal Child at 8 Gemini and natal Chiron at 0 Gemini, adding an energy of wounding or maverick behaviors at a young age to the mix, and identifying her as its source. Letourneau’s natal asteroid Schmidt at 15 Cancer is exactly squared her natal Ganymed at 15 Libra, forming a T-Square with her natal Salacia at 17 Capricorn, combining her personally with an attraction for underage partners and a level of salacious notoriety for her actions.
When the couple married on 20 May 2005, transit Hebe at 15 Libra was exactly conjunct Letourneau’s natal Ganymed, with Juno, named for the Roman goddess of marriage, opposed from 18 Aries. Transit Hera at 6 Capricorn, named for Juno’s Greek counterpart, formed a Grand Trine with transit asteroid Schmidt at 2 Virgo and Letourneau’s natal Hebe/Child at 6/8 Taurus, with transit Schmidt also conjoined Fualaau’s natal Ganymed at 8 Virgo.
Pretty Young Things
Singer Michael Jackson’s ongoing pattern of unusually close relationships with adolescent boys not related to him has frequently sparked allegations of child molestation and abuse, although the pop icon was found not guilty at the only formal trial where he was defendant. Jackson’s oddly asexual off-stage persona and his apparent total lack of serious romantic entanglements with women well into his thirties made him the focus of much speculation regarding his sexuality, described as everything from an emotional vacuity and eternal childlike perspective to closeted homosexuality and pederasty. Two 13-year-old boys in particular were the subject of not only speculation, but legal proceedings.
In 1993, Jackson was alleged to have sexually molested Jordan Chandler, an intimate friend of Jackson’s who had correctly described distinguishing birth marks and physical features of the King of Pop’s genitals and buttocks. An August police raid at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch home revealed books and photos of young boys nude or scantily clad, and a strip search of Jackson in December verified the physical anomalies described by Chandler. On January 1, 1994, Jackson settled a lawsuit brought by Chandler’s father, for a reported $22 million. The following May an LA County grand jury looking into the allegations was disbanded without an indictment, and within a few weeks Jackson made his first marriage, to Lisa Marie Presley, which many judged a PR move to salvage his reputation.
That union was childless, and fell apart less than two years later. In 1996 during his HIStory World Tour, Jackson wed a second time, to longtime friend and dermatology nurse Deborah Jeanne Rowe, then six months’ pregnant with their first child, born in February 1997. A second child followed in 1998, and the couple split a year later. Rumors that both children were conceived by artificial means were perhaps confirmed when Jackson announced the birth of his third child from an unnamed surrogate mother in 2002. Additionally, all three Jackson children bear no sign whatsoever of their African American ancestry, giving rise to further speculation that not even the singer’s sperm was used in their conception.
Also in 2002, Jackson granted unprecedented access to documentary filmmaker Martin Bashir, whose unflattering portrait “Living with Michael Jackson” was released in March 2003. In a controversial scene that raised eyebrows, Jackson is seen holding hands and discussing sleeping arrangements with 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo at the Neverland Ranch. As soon as the documentary aired, local police began an investigation which culminated in Jackson’s arrest that November on charges of child molestation and administering an intoxicating agent to a minor. The case of People v Jackson went to trial in January 2005 and ended in acquittal after five months. After the verdict, Jackson left the US, staying for several months as the guest of the sheikh of Bahrain.
Was Michael Jackson a homosexual hebephile? The legal system says “no”, but a large body of circumstantial evidence seems to indicate otherwise. Astrologically, there is a good case to be made for this attraction.
Born 29 August 1958, Jackson’s nativity shows Hebe at 1 Leo in a tight semisextile to Pluto at 2 Virgo, squared Neptune at 2 Scorpio. Hebe/Pluto suggests an ingrained, biologic response (as well as one with devastating ramifications), and Pluto’s conjunction with the 6 Virgo Sun ties this closely to Jackson’s innermost core being. The square to Neptune could indicate that Jackson’s affections were of a more rarefied, spiritual nature, not overtly physical, but also adds a level of fantasy or illusion to the mix, and has resonance with the charges involving intoxicating agents.
Hebe is also involved in Grand Trine with asteroids Lust at 5 Sagittarius and Eros, governing erotic passion, at 4 Aries, this pattern becoming a Kite with Hebe’s opposition to asteroid Michel at 3 Aquarius, tying Michael very personally to its energy. And it forms the handle of a Thor’s Hammer with sesquiquadrate aspects to the Moon at 14 Pisces and Saturn at 19 Sagittarius. These combined suggest serious blocks to expressing adult emotions and a harsh childhood, based in business or career concerns and an overly exposed public/private life, all of the innate tension between Moon and Saturn finding expression in Hebe’s natural outlets.
Other chart factors concur in an aberrant expression of romantic, intimate relationships. A stellium in Leo includes Uranus, Pecker, Venus, Child and Mercury, all between 13 and 28 degrees, while Mars and Nessus (ruling inappropriate sexual contact) combine at 22 and 25 Taurus, squared the Venus/Child/Mercury portion of the stellium. Ganymed, the asteroid named for Zeus’ mythic cupbearer and boy toy, is seen here at 21 Libra in embrace with Jupiter, Zeus’ Roman counterpart, at 28 Libra, an indication that this particular myth may resonate strongly for Jackson.
Jackson’s accusers are also well represented in the chart. Asteroid Jordaens (#5232, for Jordan Chandler, his first accuser) appears at 28 Libra, exactly conjunct Jupiter and within orb of Ganymed, bringing publicity and notoriety to this aspect of Jackson’s life. Jordaens is also conjoined Neptune and squared Hebe, perhaps activating the latent potential of that combination.
Asteroid Gavini (#21515, for Gavin Arvizo) falls at 29 Scorpio, trine Hebe and opposed Mars/Nessus, providing a focal point for that energy. These form a T-Square with asteroid Michelle at 28 Aquarius, once again tying Jackson very personally to the pattern.
Perhaps the most well-known literary treatment of hebephilia is Russian American author Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita, which depicts the romantic obsession of a middle aged man for the twelve-year-old girl who becomes his stepdaughter. Upon completion of the novel in 1953 after five years’ effort, Nabokov was unable to find an American publisher due to the controversial nature of the story. Eventually published in France in 1955, Lolita, though written in English, was not published in America until 1958 (ironically, just 11 days before Michael Jackson’s birth). It has come to be judged among the top 100 novels of the twentieth century, adapted twice for film, and passed into popular culture as a term for a sexually precocious young girl.
Whether or not Lolita is in any part autobiographical, Vladimir Nabokov’s birth chart well reflects Hebe’s impact on his writer’s psyche. Born 23 April 1899, Nabokov’s natal Hebe at 26 Virgo is squared Saturn at 23 Sagittarius, combining the themes of nubile adolescence and an older father figure. This becomes a Grand Cross with the addition of Venus at 25 Pisces, asteroid Ganymed at 21 Gemini and Neptune at 22 Gemini, indicating the fantasy of his protagonist’s romantic relationship (Venus) with the crass, unsophisticated Lolita, so much younger than himself (Ganymed), whom he attempts to idealize (Neptune).
Hebe also forms a tight inconjunct to asteroid Dolores (#1277) at 25 Aries, the actual first name of the child character in the novel (“Lolita” is the protagonist’s private nickname for her), and Dolores in turn is bound up in a stellium with the Sun at 3 Taurus, including asteroids Vladimir (#1724) and Nabokov (#7232) at 2 and 14 Taurus. The Sun squares Mars at 3 Leo exactly, indicating a prominence of sexual energies in Nabokov’s life, and is also at the apex of a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with inconjunct aspects to a Narcissus (fatal, obsessive infatuation)/Uranus (unorthodox, eccentric behaviors) conjunction at 5 and 7 Sagittarius and a pairing of asteroid Child with TNO Salacia (undue, obsessive focus on sex) at 7 and 5 Libra.
Pluto and Eros conjoin exactly at 14 Gemini, an image of obsessive/compulsive (Pluto) erotic attachment (Eros), and are tightly squared by centaur Nessus (inappropriate display of sexuality or affection) at 12 Pisces.
When Lolita was finally published in the US on 18 August 1958, Hebe at 26 Cancer was exactly sextile Nabokov’s natal Hebe at 26 Virgo, and exactly semisextile transit Vladimir at 26 Leo, itself conjoined the transit Sun at 25 Leo, bringing prominence to the author. Hebe is also sextile transit Nessus at 25 Taurus and exactly squared transit Jupiter (publishing, notoriety) at 26 Libra. Hebe is still within orb of transit Venus at 2 Leo, which is followed by a stellium comprised of asteroid Dolores, Uranus and asteroid Child at 10, 12 and 16 Leo, with Child exactly squared by Mars from 16 Taurus, conjoining Nabokov’s natal Nabokov at 14 Taurus. Together, these factors well depict the theme of the novel, as well as reflecting the natal combinations which attracted Nabokov to that subject.
Hebe’s ongoing influence can be felt in the increasing sexualization of children and adolescents in our society, something which also has its roots in the turbulent, “free love” 1960s. The advent of the internet and its easy, anonymous access to erotic and pornographic imagery, coupled with the natural tendency of young people to mimic their elders and the society’s unflagging emphasis on youth, beauty and overt sexuality, has eroded the boundaries between traditional “childhood” and sexual maturation, creating an atmosphere where Hebe, once the least among the Olympians, now reigns supreme.