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Asteroids are large, metallic celestial bodies which are smaller than the planets, and are generally locked into orbits around the Sun. Most are found in the area of the Solar System known as the Asteroid Belt, between Mars and Jupiter, and are referred to by their number of discovery and, if there is one, name (examples: 1 Ceres, 10 Hygiea, and 704 Interamnia), though generally just using the name is considered descriptive enough . In astrology, asteroids are sometimes given a minor role in the chart. Depending on their position, however, they can be given a more major role. The most commonly interpreted asteroids are 1 Ceres, 2 Pallas, 3 Juno, and 4 Vesta
The reason for this is that the first four were counted as regular planets until the 1840s when all of the planetoids between Mars and Jupiter were downgraded, a move which was similar to what recently happened to Pluto and the Trans-Neptunian planetoids. Considering this and the fact that the Sun and Moon themselves were once called "planets" (which used to have a less specific definition than it does today), some astrologers put them on the same level as the current astronomical "planets."
Ceres was the first asteroid discovered, in 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi. At first, most astronomers thought it was a planet; in fact, even after the discovery of 2 Pallas, 3 Juno, and 4 Vesta they still believed this. However, after many more asteroids were discovered a half-century after Ceres's discovery, astronomers realized asteroids were a category of their own, and used the name 'asteroid' (coined by Sir William Herschel) to describe them. Ceres is the largest known object in the asteroid belt, containing about a third the mass known to exist in the asteroid belt .
Ceres is named after the Roman goddess Ceres, in the Greek pantheon Demeter. Ceres was the goddess of grain (cereals are named after her) and motherly love. The most well-known tale of Ceres/Demeter was the one involving her daughter, Proserpine/Persephone. Once, when Persephone was out picking flowers in a field, Hades (Pluto) came from the underworld and grabbed her. In grief, Demeter would not cause the plants to bloom nor the fields to grow. Naturally, Zeus (Jupiter) was upset by this, and sent Hermes (Mercury) to snatch her from the underworld. A deal was worked out so that Persephone would go to the underworld for four months every year, the other months spent with her mother above ground. This explains the seasons; during the winter, Demeter is so concerned about her that she does not let plants grow, while in the summer, Persephone is reunited with her mother, and the earth flourishes again.
This has led to associations in astrology between Ceres and a lot of attitudes related to mothering. Ceres is said to indicate how a person nutures and is nutured. It may indicate the mother or mother figure in the chart, and how the native was treated when they was young. To some, it indicates how the person responds to grief. It also may represents places of gloom and imprisonment and the rules/reasons for why it does or is felt to exist (as in Persephone's imprisonment and the gloom Demeter cast over the Earth in her dispair).
Pallas is the third largest asteroid in the asteroid belt, after 1 Ceres and 4 Vesta. It was named after the daughter of Triton, messenger of the sea; she was best friends with Athena in Greek mythology. One day, when they were out play-fighting, Zeus came up to the two, and, in fear and awe of the power of Zeus, Pallas forgot to check a blow from Athena. Pallas was killed instantly. In mourning, Athena took the name Pallas for her own, becoming "Pallas Athena". This has led many astrologers to use the mythological aspects of Athena for how 2 Pallas should be interpreted in the chart.
Several astrologers believe there is a connection between Pallas and pattern recognition. Others use this to indicate political or physical prowess. The asteroid is also said to represent defense, that is, what we feel is worthy of defense, and how one defends against the threats one perceives to those things. It is also associated with focus & the ability to direct energy from emotional to mental matters. As Minerva was the inventor of medicine, it seems to have a connection to health and medical matters as well.
Juno makes up 1% of the asteroid belt's mass. It is named after the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter, thus making her one of the most important, if not the most important goddess. She was the goddess of marriage. She made a devoted wife, always in public playing the role of model spouse, but privately her marriage to Jupiter was not a good one. Both she and especially her husband had multiple affairs while married. She was also a very jealous wife, always angry about her husband's affairs, who liked to curse the mortals who had affairs with her husband, or perhaps the offspring that always seemed to come about from the trysts.
As is obvious from the mythology, Juno is said to rule marriage. Some say that Juno represents the kind of partner one gets, which might not necessarily be what one wants. Others see Juno as one's approach to marriage, loyalty, and commitment. It is also often said to rule affairs and jealousy, too.
Vesta was discovered in 1807, and was the last asteroid discovered for 38 years. It is the second largest asteroid, and was named after Vesta, Roman goddess of home and hearth . Vesta was not described very often in myth; more famous is the Vestal flame, which was perpetually lit as a sign of her virginity. Vesta protected family harmony and the home itself, especially the hearth where meals were prepared. She also played a role in the creation of cities; every town had its own Vestal flame, which was lit at the founding of each city and not allowed to go out for any reason. Vestal Virgins were responsible for keeping this flame going; these Virgins kept a vow of chastity that, if broken, would lead to the Virgin being buried alive .
Many believe Vesta to rule sexuality and devotion, whether to a purpose, moral code, or idea. Vesta is said to show where our greatest energies can be channeled for the best effect. It also may indicate what can be sacrificed for the greater good.
Hygiea was discovered in 1849. It's the fourth largest asteroid in the asteroid belt, though it is less massive than Juno. Not much is known about the actual composition of the asteroid, save that it's not very spherical and that its density is closer to that of Jupiter and Saturn than the terrestrial planets . It's named after Hygieia, Greek goddess of health and daughter of Asclepius, god of healing. More specifically, Hygieia was associated with the prevention of disease, while her father was associated with patients recovering from an illness .
Not much research has done into the possible influences of Hygieia in the horoscope, despite more intense research into the "big four" asteroids. It's possible that Hygieia has influence over health, for obvious reasons. The asteroid may influence where a person feels their healthiest behaviors are.
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