Maya del Mar's Daykeeper Journal: Astrology, Consciousness and Transformation

Check out previous pieces by Alex here.

Minor Planet Watch

The LIbby Commutation

by Alex Miller-Mignone

ErisEris is the largest named Trans-Neptunian object (TNO) yet discovered, found 5 January 2005.  At 2397 kilometers (1490 miles), she just edges past Pluto, but has an orbital period of 556 years, more than twice as long as the former ninth planet.  Currently at its 97 AU aphelion in Aries, Eris ventures as close as 37 AU to the sun while in Libra, and its orbit is inclined approximately 44 degrees from the ecliptic. Eris has a moon, Dysnomia (Greek, “lawlessness”), named for her mythic daughter.

Eris’ mythic roots stem from classical Greece, where she was a daughter of Night and the personification of arguments, strife and discord. As such, she was viewed as a negative figure, although some attribute to her also a kind of productive envy, which spurs men to greater efforts when they see the successes of their neighbors.  Also depicted as a prostitute or slut, she has connections with chaos. 

Eris was the mother of the kakodaimones, the evils which plague mankind, of which her daughter Dysnomia/Lawlessness was one, the rest being Strife, Toil, Forgetfulness, Starvation, Pains, Fightings, Battles, Murders, Man-Slaughters, Quarrels, Lies, Disputes and Ruin, which Hesiod identifies collectively as the ills which Pandora unleashed upon humankind when she opened her box.  Eris accompanies Ares, God of War, whom some early sources specify as her brother, and she is called the Nurse of War, depicted as delighting in the groans of dying men.  Homer describes her wrath as relentless and her hatred, shameless; a goad whose size increases the more men pay attention to her.  Virgil calls her “lunatic” and gives her an abode at the porch entrance to Hades, where her “viperine hair” is held back by a headband soaked in blood.  Her sword is said to be two-edged, and she is often referred to as insensate or drunk with blood, always to be found where the battle was the fiercest and the bloodlust uncontrolled.  Among the gods she is known as hard-hearted, and the last to end an argument.

Arguably her most famous mythic appearance was as wedding crasher at the nuptials of Peleus and the nymph Thetis (later parents of Achilles), to which she was not invited because of her tendency to stir up trouble.  Smarting from the snub, Eris tossed a golden apple into the festivities, which she had previously inscribed as “for the fairest,” eliciting a confrontation between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite for the apple’s ownership.  The hapless Paris of Troy, called to adjudicate the matter, finally accepted Aphrodite’s bribe to grant him the most beautiful woman on earth, Helen, already the wife of Menelaus of Sparta, thus precipitating the Trojan War.

Indeed, asteroid Eris is well named, for it was her discovery and preliminary designation as “the Tenth Planet” in 2005 which precipitated the spirited debate within the astronomical community regarding what exactly constitutes a planet. This discussion eventually led to Pluto’s demotion and reclassification, along with Eris, former asteroid Ceres and several other TNOs, as “minor planets.” Almost from the moment she burst upon our consciousness, this bit of space rock has caused contention and shaken up the established thinking, of which her goddess namesake would well approve.  Eris’ discovery came in the same month as the first Iraqi elections, immediately after which the situation there deteriorated rapidly, with the country descending into the increased bloodshed and violence of a religiously-based civil war.

An obvious place to look for confirmation of the meaning of her archetype would be the charts of George W. Bush and his administration, easily the most contentious, nationally and internationally, in a generation, if not in the history of the country.  In addition to Bush’s birth chart and the chart of his swearing-in, the charts for the USA, the 2000 election, the 9/11 attacks and the start of the Iraq War were used.

George W. Bush (born 6 July 1946) would seem to be the very personification of Eris.  Although he ran in 2000 as “a uniter, not a divider,” no administration in recent memory has done more to polarize the American electorate; compromise and debate is eschewed, dissent is labeled treasonous.  Comity between the Parties in Washington is a thing of the past; comity between nations has been trodden underfoot as well, as America flaunts her hyperpower status, flouts tradition and convention (not to mention the Geneva Conventions), and flexes her military might.  Her president declares to the nations of the world that “you’re either with us or against us” and proceeds to enact the maniac plans for a “New American Century” of global hegemony which his god and the neo-cons have whispered in his ear.

Eris is strongly placed in Bush’s nativity; at 6 Aries in the Ninth House, it is the most elevated point in the chart, and stands alone in that quarter.  From there it forms a T-Square with Bush’s Sun at 13 Cancer and his Neptune at 5 Libra, which is exactly conjunct a Quasar.  Neptune/Quasar is the ability to fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but as past lies and deception become revealed, and current lies and deception become more obvious, the Quasar is illumining more and more of Bush’s empty rhetoric, until fewer than 3 in 10 Americans find him credible or approve of the job he is doing. The discord sown by Bush’s lies and doublespeak is very real, and it permeates not only the nation, but the entire globe.

With Neptune square his Sun, Bush is a born deceiver, and with Eris also in square, he is an instigator as well.  Not only do his lies distort reality, they prompt negative actions by others. Bush is a catalyst for strife, a lightning rod for discord, a focus of contention. The archetype of the frat boy who never grew up, Bush’s jibes and the often sarcastic, slighting nicknames he gives his intimates are symptomatic of Eris’ delight in stirring up trouble, and making others uncomfortable. Her battle- and bloodlust is apparent in the choices Bush has made for the country on the world stage—his administration has caused more death than at any time since Vietnam.  Eris is all the stronger for being at her station retrograde degree (the actual station came three days previously), and thus she is virtually standing still in the heavens at Bush’s birth, the fixed point upon which the chart revolves.

Eris makes several other significant aspects in Bush’s nativity.  She is trine to the Mercury/Pluto/Black Hole conjunction at 9 and 10 Leo, the primary source of Bush’s obsession with secrecy and inability to speak truthfully.  Pluto acting without awareness is uncontrolled and visceral, and allied with Mercury, it colors reality perception.  It is probable that Bush actually believes much of what he says, but his perspective has been so corrupted by Pluto’s unconscious drive for power and domination that he can no longer distinguish fact from fantasy.

Eris is also inconjunct Mars, which exactly conjoins a Black Hole at 9 Virgo.  Make no mistake—one war is not enough to sate this bloodlust, as Eris combines with her battle companion Ares/Mars and the insatiable appetites of the Black Hole, emboldened now by access to the world’s largest military. Even the term “Global War on Terror” echoes the massive scale of Black Hole Mars’ ambitions, with a militaristic hyperbole for a struggle that could be more effectively, and economically, waged via intelligence work and police action. Mercury/Pluto is obsessive, compulsive, and lacks imagination or finesse—right now the Administration is building its case against Iran, using the same tactics and much of the same rhetoric it used to promote its invasion of Iraq, as if it expects to be believed a second time. It denies any military goals, while simultaneously ratcheting up the aggressive rhetoric and maneuvering key military units into aggressive postures. Eris sees a task undone—there is still more strife and turmoil to engender, still more blood to spill—and she will pursue these goals with all the relentless, heartless focus of which she is capable.

Bush’s Eris is strategically placed to spur on the USA’s own, which at 8 Capricorn retrograde is in square to his, and makes key aspects within the USA chart. Most prominent among these is the exact inconjunct to the nation’s Uranus at 8 Gemini, but it also opposes the USA Venus, Jupiter and Sun at 3, 5 and 13 Cancer, and squares the USA Saturn at 14 Libra. This unfortunate mix affects the very core of our national identity (Sun) and the office of the Chief Executive (Saturn) in particular, giving them the potential to act simultaneously as a goad and a flail (Teddy Roosevelt’s description of the presidency as a “bully pulpit” is illustrative of this), inciting indignation and opposition in one moment, and exacting punishment for such insolence in the next.  Jupiter/Venus tells the rest of the tale, for what engenders strife more than anything else is our bombastic need (Jupiter) to impose our values (Venus) on the rest of the world, expecting them to be grateful for our intrusion. Further, our preferred medium of conquest is cultural (Jupiter), technologic (Uranus) and economic (Venus); we lead, not by example, but by cross-contamination.

Eris’ fingerprints are all over the chart for Election Day 2000 as well, undoubtedly the most contentious ever. At 19 Aries retrograde, Eris is exactly squared a Black Hole at 19 Capricorn, which is conjoined by the South Node at 17, thus she forms a T-Square with the Nodal Axis, which the US Saturn (the presidency) transforms into a Grand Cross. She is also trine Pluto at 11 Sagittarius and sextile to Uranus conjunct the Pulsar at 16 Aquarius, which together represent the media (Pulsar) and the electorate (Aquarius), as well as the high-tech voting systems (Uranus also), undermined and corrupted (Pluto) to produce a Bush “victory.”  The disputed election and the recounts dragged on for five weeks, and engendered the seed of strife which has characterized the administration, which fully half of the electorate have considered illegitimate from day one.

Sowing seeds is one thing; encouraging their germination and growth is quite another.  The chart for the start of the Bush administration (which by Constitutional fiat is designated as noon on January 20) is similarly bound to Eris. But whereas the Goddess of Strife has been somewhat hampered and turned inward by her retrograde status in the charts for Bush, the USA, and the election, for the Administration itself, it’s full speed ahead, with Eris at 18 Aries in direct motion. Still bound with the Nodes and the Black Hole at 19 Capricorn, Eris is now sextile to a union of Mercury, Pulsar and Uranus at 16 and 19 Aquarius, and trine to a Pluto/Moon pairing at 14 and 19 Sagittarius, with the Moon exactly conjoined a Black Hole. An inconjunct to Mars at 16 Scorpio completes her aspects, but these clearly and compellingly describe the major thrusts of the administration’s “divide and conquer” strategy of governance. The three-pronged approach involves the corruption and co-opting of the media (Mercury/Pulsar/Uranus), the devastation of the lower and middle classes (Moon/Pluto) and the manipulation of the military (Mars) for its own ends.

Two events stand out during Bush’s term in office as creating, or resulting in, the most divisive outcomes: the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War.

On its face, the tragedy of 9/11 would appear to have brought Americans and the global community closer, and that, in fact, was its immediate aftermath. Citizens of all political persuasions grieved the loss of American life and determined to pull together to meet the threat to the nation, and globally sympathy for the US was never higher, with papers from Paris to Tokyo exclaiming, “Today we are all Americans.”  Perhaps nothing in the Bush record is as dispiriting as the wealth of positive feeling which was squandered in a bellicose drive to assert the Administration’s power and consolidate the executive branch’s control of our democratic system of checks and balances.

Leaving aside for the moment the question of the administration’s culpability in the attacks, by neglect or design, it is plain that the erosion of constitutional guarantees and freedoms, the eviscerating of international laws and conventions, and the contempt for the rule of law at home following 9/11 have been monumental. The course the Bush administration chose to pursue in its aftermath, from the privacy violations of the USA PATRIOT Act and the base treatment of detainees, to domestic spying on American citizens’ library records, phone calls and emails, has resulted in an increasing atmosphere of suspicion, acrimony and recrimination.  Desperate supporters of the regime seek to justify each new disclosure of blatant disregard of laws and rights, requiring ever greater contortions of logic to defend, while detractors have become ever more shrill and embittered in their denunciations of these activities.  Surely Eris has delighted in these conflicts, ongoing and with no end in sight, save Inauguration Day 2009.

Eris’ position in the chart for 9/11 is telling.  At 19 Aries retrograde, she is trine Venus at 17 Leo, indicating the alteration (some might say “collapse”) of our collective values, as well as the vastly increased expenditures due to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and, ultimately, the Iraq War, which found its genesis in the 9/11 attacks (which were imputed to Saddam Hussein by a disingenuous administration). Eris is also inconjunct the Sun at 18 Virgo, representative of the adjustment (inconjunct) in our self-image, our very soul as a nation, and the disruptive effects on our daily lives and routines (Virgo), as in increased airport security. 

There is also a sextile to Uranus at 22 Aquarius, outlining the administration’s challenge to our rights and freedoms, and, most telling, the opposition to Mercury, itself atop the Black Hole at 13 Libra. This ably describes the fractious disintegration in the quality of our public discourse as well as the information stranglehold the administration attempts via manipulation of the media. Witness the buying of journalists such as Armstrong Williams, the use of strategic misinformation to encourage the rush to war with Iraq via Judith Miller’s New York Times stories, and the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA covert operative). Also note the use of Orwellian doublespeak in its pronouncements and policies (“No Child Left Behind,” the “Clear Skies Initiative,” and the “Help America Vote Act”). Each of these arenas, as well as the Administration’s firm embrace of the goals of its evangelical base (a Federal Marriage Amendment, elimination of funding for birth control and abortion from foreign aid, the ban on Federal monies for stem cell research) has caused considerable contention and discord.

But the mother of all contention has been the Iraq War.  Never before in the history of the planet have there been mass demonstrations against a war before it even began, not only here at home but globally as well.  The Administration’s unwillingness to look at options short of invasion or to build a true coalition, its contempt for meaningful dialogue or negotiation with reluctant allies, its total lack of planning for the war further than Hussein’s overthrow, its monumental incompetence in managing the occupation, the pervasive corruption of its crony, no-bid corporate allies in Iraq’s reconstruction, and its utter inability to correct course or admit mistakes has been truly breathtaking. And virtually every step of the way, Eris has dogged the progress of the debacle, from defaming the war’s critics at home, to the astounding loss of life in Iraq itself and the devolution of its society into civil war.

Eris is once again at 19 Aries in the chart for the start of the Iraq War, but now in direct motion, unleashed from the relative constraints of her retrograde stance at the 9/11 attacks. A sextile to Venus at 20 Aquarius reiterates the corruption of values and the exorbitant expenditures, while an exact trine to Pluto conjoined the Black Hole at 19 Sagittarius describes the phenomenal devastation in Iraq and reinforces the incredible loss of treasure, to the tune of $2 billion per week. A second sextile to Saturn at 22 Gemini is reflective of the bickering, division and ineffectiveness of the various puppet governments we have installed or supported. But the most ill-fated of all is the opposition from Eris to the Moon at 22 Libra, indicating the strife and bloodshed which has been visited upon the heads of the Iraqi people, with close to one million killed, displaced or expatriated from a country torn by internal division and religious conflict, none of which would have pertained had the Bush administration not gone to war.

Truly, Eris and her children, Lawlessness, Starvation, Pains, Fightings, Battles, Murders, Man-Slaughters, Quarrels, Lies, Disputes and Ruin, have been a guiding light and lodestar for the Bush administration.  What further horrors will Eris help to unleash before Time consigns George W. Bush to the ash heap of history?

Alex Miller-Mignone, photo
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.

His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at