Ceres and the Great Pluto-Saturn Conjunction of January 2020
by andrea michelle kennedy
“Happy is he among men upon earth who has seen these mysteries; but he who is uninitiate and who has no part in them, never has lot of like good things once he is dead, down in the darkness and gloom.” ~ Homeric Hymn to Demeter
On January 12, 2020, Saturn and Pluto are conjoining at the seed moment of their respective Sun cycles, accompanied by Ceres, Goddess of Earth and the Mysteries of Death and Rebirth at the start of her Sun cycle, all at 22 Capricorn, with Mercury close by.
With Ceres’ promotion from asteroid to dwarf planet in 2006 coinciding with Pluto’s “demotion” from planet to dwarf planet, the most powerful chthonic Olympians are finally equals. The deep Feminine current in our collective (un)conscious is lending Her regenerative power to return us to right-relationship with the energies of the SeaGoat (Capricorn) — a goat with the tail of a fish.
Although all planets carry the potential to initiate us into their respective psychic function — especially when retrograde — Mercury, Chiron and Ceres are imbued with a more specific catalytic energy. We all have had experience of miscommunication snafus, technology mishaps and thwarted travel plans while Mercury is retrograde — here he acts as solvent, requiring us to rethink “business-as-usual” to ease us out of stagnancy and strictly linear thinking. In this way the fastest moving planet paves the way for the planetary energies that follow it, and functions as an integrator when bringing up the rear1.
Chiron initiates us into the places we hold most separate from ourselves so that we may experience our implicit wholeness. And Ceres draws us down into the raw power of Grief. Grieving without attachment to a story opens our hearts and humbles us, which lays the groundwork for a return to our sensual life force.
On January 13, Mercury will be back within the Sun’s boundaries. The Trickster, having just crossed the threshold from southernmost declination, now carries whispers from our ancestors at the roots of the World Tree. With Sun-Saturn-Pluto conjoining, Mercury and Ceres together insist that we must relinquish false ideals and old grievances to build and sustain a culture of diversity and inclusivity. The Earth goddess in the sign of the SeaGoat compels us to return to the moist soil at the roots of our psyche to compost our history — this is the only way to “transcend and include”2 what’s come before. Composting is an organic process that requires darkness and time, with minimal interference. It requires a network of unseen alchemists working beneath the surface to sort, select, re-purpose and renew. Out of such rich hummus the impulse is generated to move from being consumers and commodities to creatives and co-conspiritors.
Ceres in Myth and Delineation
In well-developed and moving lectures on Ceres and her archetypes, astrologer and psychotherapist Jason Holley elevates Ceres as an intra-psychic force to be reckoned with.3 In both the Homeric and Arcadian versions of the myth, Ceres deeply mourns the loss of her daughter, Persephone, who represents a naive innocence and otherwordly state. With the assistance of other characters/aspects of herself in the myth, Ceres learns from her suffering rather than devolving into a victim. Once she integrates the earthly realities of loss and the cyclic nature of life, she is renewed by generosity, bestowing her blessings and abundance to the world of mortals once more.
According to Holley, Ceres transits herald a “time for a deeper embodiment, a greater degree of incarnation”, and where we need to be brought down to earth in some way through a loss, including death of some kind or health impact on our body. We can honor Ceres and prepare for our initiations by sinking into the inner spaces of our bodies to develop a relationship with stillness, with what’s unknowable to our rational mind. Such acts of self-love invite our grief to tenderize and prepare us to embody the alchemized result of our conscious suffering. This leads to the unveiling of our intrinsic generosity and strong desire to share our gifts toward an improved society.4
In the more earthy and animistic rendition of the myth from Arcadia, Ceres is comforted by the Satyr pan, god of the wild, shepherds and flocks “also recognized as the god of fields, groves, wooded glens and often affiliated with sex”5 The Olympian goddess formerly removed from human affairs learns that loss, disillusionment and impermanence are meant to lead us back to what is timeless while on Earth, which is what our sensual desire is in service to: discovering Source through/in our bodies.
Ceres in the January 13, 2020 Chart
This gathering of ancestors by way of Pluto, Ceres and Saturn with Messenger Mercury occurs as the transiting Moon’s nodes are ripe with the concentrated energies of Cancer-Capricorn. Outer planets are at their farthest distance from Earth when conjunct the Sun. On January 13 they will become re-enlivened with Solar power to begin their new cycle. Look to your natal chart to see the area of life that is being seeded with power, and look to the planets/houses Ceres will be transiting to see where an initiation into deeper embodiment through loss may occur.
It’s worth noting in the chart the asteroid Pan in Cancer is opposite the lunar South Node, reflecting our prevalent disconnection from the wild, erotic nature which lives at the heart of Capricorn.
In the chart for the U.S., we see that Capricorn is in the fourth house of our nation’s roots, emphasizing the Cancerian foundations of the SeaGoat. We are tasked with building a sound social contract rooted in empathy and connection. There can be no business as usual, particularly with Capricorn’s dispositor (Saturn) enmeshed with the gods of death and resurrection on its own heliocentric South Node.
This configuration in January is putting Ceres on the map; even without a prominent Ceres natally, more people will begin to awaken to our innate ability to grow stronger through loss, thanks to her initiatory power.
Mars in Antiscia: What’s in Shadow?
Mars at 6 Sagittarius in the Explorations Phase7 of his new Libra Mars-Sun cycle is in antiscia (shadow) aspect to the Sun-Pluto-Ceres-Saturn meeting. This ultimately points to an individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (sovereignty) as laid out in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. When we try to transcend our limitations or problems without first including where we are at present, the individual and society become fundamentally at odds. For cultures with such shallow roots, non-conformity replaces cultural diversity.
Applied consciously, this Mars can support overcoming the impulse to satisfy small desires in service to authentic Desire. Mars here is close to Antares — the ante-ares or “opponent to-Mars”. This star, called the Heart of the Scorpion, has the power to transmute our long-held attachments and blind spots once we come to rely on our body’s wisdom over the intellect. Nick Fiorenza in Astronomical Astrology says:
“Antares expresses as immanence for those who have embraced their initiations and claimed their self-empowerment, who have graduated from playing a victim in life…and who have learned to take responsibility for their experience and their destiny. The Heart of the Scorpion teaches us to realize the inseparable nature of life, to reconcile the forces within and without, those of life and death, to know of the oneness and inseparable permeability of the Creation Force...In this awareness, Antares becomes a responsible protector of life and ‘takes a stand’ for wholeness, and demonstrably and passionately lives it.”
Balance of Power
This gathering in Capricorn is not about a Return of the Feminine, because the Feminine never left us. Rather it holds the possibility of remembering that our Masculine potency arises from Feminine power. The Chandra Symbol8 for the conjunction degree of 23 Capricorn highlights the Sacred Masculine at the heart of this potent conjunction, further substantiating that all seeds include the reconciliation of polarity and true Individuation:
An old priest using oil to anoint a carved stone lingam.
The masculine life-force brought to its highest expression.The wise, wakeful, fully present activation of the masculine aspect as something to be reckoned with. Formidable and directly impressive. Bearing such a pronounced potency of being that one can readily take charge of any situation. A karmically well prepared, magnificently endowed attainment. The ability to become like a God. Such intensive awareness of self that you know very well that you are standing in for God the Father as a pure vessel. Nonetheless, you are called to become the quintessential higher masculine as completely as possible to the deepest roots of your being, in order to make a difference and to bring the shared energy and attention to a focal point of the true central clarity and meaningful direction onward from here.
The Feminine is the ground of “the deepest roots of your being” (the fourth house of the Jan 13 chart!) from which the Masculine arises in service to all life.
The two most recognized agents of the feminine in astrology — Venus and the Moon — are in opposition in the Jan 13 event chart. This configuration of Moon in Leo and Venus in Aquarius illustrates the natural (and culturally-endorsed) tension between our human drive to stand out and our need to fit in. The younger generations for whom Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are social staples seem especially vulnerable to deriving personal worth and validation from social media. Venus at the last degree of Aquarius emphasizes the furthest reaches of our collective cultural and personal dissociation.
Furthermore, Venus and Luna are each inconjunct the Capricorn stellium, describing the present lack of inherent relationship with the deep feminine.
From another perspective, when we include the celestial backdrop of Venus’ phase and Sky Factors in our delineation we note that Venus is over halfway through her Remembering & Embodiment Phase on her way to maximum brightness and greatest Evening Star elongation (in her Wholeness Phase). On January 13, 2020 Venus at 29 degrees Aquarius will be a luminous beacon for our Feminine aspirations of inclusivity, diversity and shared uniquenesses, shining high and bright in the Western sky. If we make an effort to go out and connect with Venus after sunset, opening to receive Her /our blessings, she can ignite our capacity to Love ourselves. Where have we inflated our human experience, distanced ourselves from our emotional intelligence, sought validation from community and valued defiant non-conformity instead of restructuring our model of Love?
Dwarf planet Ceres is making her mark on our consciousness at the dawn of 2020 with her new heliacal cycle coinciding with those of Saturn and Pluto. Each of these planets’ new cycles will be imbued with the flavor of the other planets involved in this heavy-hitting conjunction. This means we are availed of the healing power of Grief to bring us to the depths of Capricorn for renewal.
America’s shadow ethos of unbridled personal success and notoriety are present at this conjunction, imparting a seduction to remain in an “Individual versus Society” paradigm.
Whatever wisdom we will gain from what transpires for us from this seed moment will need to be earned. Experience must replace heady Sagittarian idealism and visions of progress. We are called to evoke the wisdom of our ancestors and grieve our personal and collective dissociation before natural order can be restored.
In this way, we begin to come into right-relationship with the Earth and our natural cycles. From this place we may create new forms for our social contracts once we experience that authentic power always comes through us as a service to the whole.
1 Gary Caton designates Mercury as the “cohesive principle”. For More on Mercury, see Caton’s The Mercury Elemental Year
2 from Integral Map of Ken Wilbur
3 For a fuller picture of Demeter/Ceres, I highly recommend exploring Jason Holley’s work with Ceres and other archetypes
4 Click here for the full Homeric Hymn to Demeter.
5 See Pan on Wikipedia
6 We may define and work with ancestors however we choose.
7 For more on the Mars Cycle see here
8 Created by Ellias Lonsdale. For the full set of symbols, see here.