The Dwarf Planets
© 2011 by Alison Chester-Lambert
All Rights Reserved
Guest Writer, Round Blog-In
We don’t need astrology to tell us that life is getting more complicated, but we do need an astrology to describe it. And when, in August 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced a re-shuffle of the terms used to describe the objects orbiting the Sun, it started a whole new adventure in astrology. There are those who will prefer to stick with the few planets used in astrology for centuries, but there others who, like me, sense that this new frontier offers pioneers a glimpse into a Brave New World.
Kuiper Belt and Buzzing Bees
From 2003 until 2008, the Palomar-QUEST sky survey was scrutinising the edge of the known Solar System and finding masses of new rocky objects beyond and around Neptune in an area called the Kuiper Belt. Some were as big as Pluto and this brought up questions about the Dark Lord’s position in the planetary line-up. Since Pluto is also rocky and at a steep incline to the plane of the Ecliptic, he was a bit of an oddball. However, he fits right into the Kuiper Belt family since those objects are like a swarm of bees buzzing around at all angles. After it was decided by the IAU that the term “planet” could only be applied to those objects that have cleared their orbital path and patrol alone, Pluto had to be stripped of this designation and given another. Hence, the term dwarf planet was born and Ceres from the Asteroid Belt was included, since she, too, orbits with a group and yet otherwise has planetary characteristics.
Ceres—a Bridge by Sky and Myth
The inclusion of Ceres into a group which otherwise is comprised of Kuiper Belt objects makes the Dwarf Planets particularly interesting. She forms a link from the Asteroid Belt to the Kuiper Belt and certain associations can then be noted and explored. Firstly, there is the myth of Demeter and Pluto (Demeter was known as Ceres to the Romans), in which the maiden emanation of Demeter, known as Persephone, is married to Pluto and becomes the Queen of the Underworld. Secondly, it was argued by astronomers in 2008 that Ceres and Pluto have the same origins since they are similar in composition and could therefore have pin-balled apart in a Solar System shake up 3.9.billion years ago. Strange that their mythological counterparts also have strong connections!
Ceres’ position, so much closer to Earth, symbolises her protectiveness and loyalty to the human race, which was very obvious in the transits of August/September 2007. Sedna (symbolises hurricanes, rain) was in a two-year long square with Neptune and it rained…….a lot! Vast areas of England were flooded and the crops were rotting in the fields. The news reports were dire and there was no hope. Then planet Ceres moved in front of Sedna and a miracle happened. The rain stopped, the Sun came out and a few days later the farmers brought the harvest home.
Ceres is known as a grain goddess. She is as much about the care of the human seed from embryo to child, to maiden, to mother, as she is about the care the farmer gives to the corn seed. In parallel, the corn emerges from the dark, soil underworld to become a seedling, ripen, be harvested and then returned to the underground grain silos to await planting again.
Ceres is there in death, loss and grieving, but she also emerges with us in birth, fecundity and growth again. Ceres’ promotion to dwarf planet not only indicates a huge rise in matriarchal, goddess energy. She is a source of close-to-home, familiar, protective comfort and provides a stern reminder to honour planet Earth and the cycles of the seasons.
Pluto-Charon of the Kuiper Belt
Those who ignore the re-classification of Pluto to dwarf planet, miss the opportunity to explore rich new facets of his buried treasure, whilst resisting the very change and evolution that he represents. And although this is a contentious issue, it is now prudent to look for the astrological meaning behind the IAU’s August 2006 surprise announcement, which included the suggestion that Pluto’s moon, Charon, should also be called a dwarf planet, making them a binary dwarf planet. Charon qualifies because he and Pluto are a comparable size and they orbit each other; the centre of gravity of each planet is in the space between them instead of within the planet. They are locked together like a giant dumbbell spinning in space. However, Charon’s proposed status as Dwarf planet was not popular and fell from grace after my book on the Dwarf planets had been written, so it is arguable as to whether we should take it into account now.
Pluto-Charon was responsible for flagging up the presence of the Kuiper Belt, which was eventually revealed because their odd angle of orbit to the classical planets necessitated further investigation. They were, therefore, early indicators and a gateway to the Kuiper Belt. This context makes Charon’s symbolic presence more important now. In Greek myth, Charon was the ferryman who took the souls of the dead over the River Styx to Pluto’s realm. Before him, the Egyptian Pyramid Texts of c. 3,000 BC told of a ferryman for the winding watercourse, and 1,000 years after that Mesopotamian myth told of a boatman on the Waters of Death. The ancients knew that immense journeys of discovery into other realms required a spiritual guide.
The whole Trans-Neptune experience is a metaphor for discovery and we need some guidance from deity on this potentially difficult passage. Charon the ferryman was not just the oarsman, he decided who got on the boat and whether or not they were sufficiently spiritually prepared to board. He was a stern over-seer, who demanded coins for his ferrying. The coins are possibly a metaphor for the wisdom gained in an appropriately conducted lifetime. They indicate the proper preparation.
Traditionally, Pluto describes the decay and transformation part of the life cycle, but he also represents nuclear and atomic power and so governs particle physics’ quest to discover the hidden secrets of the atom, with its invisible, ghost or “dark” particles. Pluto’s discovery ushered in the “Miracle Year” of British physics, with the splitting of the atom and the theoretical discovery of dark matter and energy. However, the science was so hard to understand and explain; the public gave a yawn and turned to the sports page.
Science has now built the Large Hadron Collider to investigate what exists in the invisible dimensions that spawned our creation. They will learn about the formation of our dimension from quantum-ruled pure energy to matter and form. The human race will learn of the Big Bang or “Fall” of mankind to the earthly Upperworld, and science will cross from this dimension into others. For this, we will need a guide and Charon looks like a suitable candidate.
Healing and the Concept of Duality.
One last point, before we move on to the other dwarf planets, concerns that of duality. NASA says that “Pluto has a dual identity” and this throws up some intriguing spiritual comparisons. The Egyptians used the serpent to represent duality and one cannot help but ponder on the serpent’s many associations with Scorpionic and Plutonic matters throughout history. There was a serpent in the Garden of Eden who invoked huge change and there are serpents associated with kundalini, magic and healing, such as those on the Caduceus, the staff of Hermes.
It is likely that Pluto’s healing potential will become much more widely recognised as it was over 2,000 years ago when it was called magic. For after all, to heal a boil, one first has to destroy it before the skin cells can regenerate. Pluto’s energy is needed for the destruction and the growth.
The dual dwarf planet image of Pluto-Charon makes a lovely symbol for the super-symmetry theory of science. Putting it simply, the atoms in your skin appear to be empty. Today’s powerful microscopes have tried to find the solid bit in the atoms that make up skin molecules and cells, but they pass right through. Atoms are made of particles and these are just spinning vortices of energy. Your skin feels solid because of the resistance from the extremely fast vibration. Think of a bicycle wheel that looks solid as it spins, but you can pass your hand right through the spokes when it stops. The theory is that every particle of matter has an equivalent “dark” or “super” particle attached to it that gives it mass or presence but is undetectable in our dimension. This means you have a dark, “super” body as well as the one you know about. (Well, we could all do with a super-body!) This seems to be beautifully symbolized by Charon’s emergence from behind Pluto, whose accredited size had to be reduced after we discovered he shared his mass with Charon.
Eris, Goddess of Resentment and Revenge
And now we must move on to the dwarf planets that were actually discovered. An interesting row broke out between astronomers over the discovery of another dwarf planet, Haumea, as two groups claimed to have found her at the same time. One was the American group in the Palomar-QUEST survey and the other was a Spanish team headed by Jose-Luis Ortiz. The voluble and maverick leader of the American group, Mike Brown, (a Gemini with an apparent strong Sag or Jupiter influence) accused the Spanish of computer “hacking” without “scruples,” believing that they had used his research without citing it. He was anxious to protect knowledge of Eris, his team’s most prestigious find in the Kuiper Belt, but up until then top secret and unannounced. Eris was thought to be bigger than Pluto and should have been called the 10th planet, but this caused a rumpus over the term “planet,” which unbelievably had no official delineation. The result of this was a decision to call the classical planets on the ecliptic “planet” and no longer apply that term to any new discoveries. This would establish stability in school textbooks. The Kuiper Belt, along with Pluto-Charon, is at an angle to the ecliptic, so this made things easier to split up.
Eris’s nickname before being officially named was Xena (from the TV series Xena, Warrior Princess) and both these names can be seen as important since a set of considerable coincidences tie them both in. Eris is known as the Greek goddess of chaos and strife who calls forth war and runs amok on the battlefield. Whilst this might be one result of her involvement, we have to be careful not to dismiss Eris as a mere leather-clad thugette intent on causing WW3, for her meaning is oh-so-much more complex than that.
The ancient Greeks believed that the god/desses were the feelings and energies of the living, the natural responses of human beings and nature. They could be part of the personality or the archetypal feelings and responses that we all experience. In one account, Eris is a primeval goddess, being the daughter of Night and Darkness and the mother of Trouble, Toil, Pain, Carnage, Brawls and Dispute, to name just a few. As such, she describes an abstract concept that will be useful in psychological astrology. Eris is that part of us which feels envy and resentment towards “those-who-have” or those we feel might be taking something that is not morally or rightfully theirs. Personal or collective outrage and revenge ensues, which brings in Mars, a companion of hers in myth. She will also take a situation that should have been sorted out and introduce exposing circumstances that will get it out of the box for resolution. For instance, the proper categorizing of Pluto was long overdue and it was right to begin the debate of “planet” or “not planet.” And maybe the American astronomers who discovered Eris should have ensured computer security before they entered secret data regarding her movements, thus driving the Eris-enraged Mike Brown to have a go at the Spanish for going into accessible web logs.
An example of Eris working in the collective could be found in the row over bankers and bonuses. The public and press became Eris-enraged when they felt that bankers were gorging themselves on the public purse and taking much more than was fair or morally theirs. The public fury was about “if I can’t get that, why should they have it?” and recriminations and public condemnation were rife. Here we see how Eris energy will work in a fair and ordered society to control the excesses of the group and this is a natural law of civilization.
However, Eris is strong and she can be volatile, vicious and spiteful. In “Works and Days,” Hesiod warned of “slanderous-tongued Envy, with look of deadly hate….,” but he also gave us a careful and enlightening explanation of how to live positively and take advantage of Eris’s competitiveness. His “good” Eris supports the worker in the race for wealth and prosperity by stimulating him into industry and determination. “Bad” Eris would engage him in acts of envy that would waste time and prevent his own success. Hesiod demonstrated clearly the duality of Eris, which is common to the dwarf planets, where things are not what they seem on the surface.
So, Eris is part of the natural justice system, a divinely instigated and policed moral system of repercussions and encouragement, inherent in the DNA of humans and the larger group. As such, this article can’t really do her depth and complexity justice, but further research and assessment can be found in my book.
Makemake, Pandemics and Seafaring
Eris, Ceres and Pluto are all useful symbols for psychological astrology, but the early indications are that Makemake, the Great Sea Spirit of Easter Island in the South Pacific, is going to be the preserve of mundane. His geographic isolation from western civilisation illustrates his distance from our cultural mentality. The biggest barrier to our affection for him will be his name, since no one wants to sound dumb or disrespectful when trying to pronounce it. (Maki-maki or meke-meke will put you in the ballpark!)
The Polynesians who colonised Easter Island were incredibly skilled oceanographers who travelled thousands of miles around the Pacific Ocean in giant double-hulled canoes. Makemake was their adored chief god whose priests presided over seasonal fishing taboos and various other crop-planting and sport related festivals. Sadly, the Island’s population suffered a terrible holocaust brought about by illegal slaving and European introduced deadly diseases. It went from tens of thousands to just 111 in the late nineteenth century. Then it became fashionable for scientists in the 1990’s to proclaim that Easter Islanders had brought about mindless, ecological devastation of their island, but this was later proven to be inaccurate and speculative over-reading of the facts. However, he does symbolise the reduction or growth of population numbers by natural or unnatural causes. Earthquakes and tsunamis feature in his history, whilst in 2009 the WHO declared a worldwide pandemic situation over Swine flu, which had interestingly originated in South America and travelled to Europe. In Easter Island’s history, it was the other way around with the Europeans taking small pox into the Pacific. Earth’s current over-population is very much Makemake’s bag and he was active when David Attenborough was appointed patron of the Optimum Population Trust, an organization that supports human endeavours to reduce populations.
In 2009, Makemake began to show strong resonance with the issue of Somalian piracy, which was making world headlines. The pirates are skilled and stealthy sailors who operate over hundreds of miles of ocean and it is interesting to note that the world’s navies have a hard time locating the pirates whilst the pirates have no problem evading the navies and locating suitable ships to board. The Easter Islanders had formidable pilfering skills and thieving was one of their greatest delights with codes of conduct and social acceptance that we do not understand. Piracy seems to be a mixture of thievery and seafaring skills. Fishing quotas and fishing stocks in general are also Makemake’s thing.
Haumea, a Hawaiian Goddess for a Hawaiian President?
When the American discoverers made the courageous decision to break away from the tradition of naming new planets after Greek and Roman god/desses, they may have symbolised an emerging respect for Eastern or alternative spiritual beliefs. This is possibly one of the most fundamental messages of Haumea’s and Makemake’s appearance.
Haumea is the Hawaiian goddess of fertility, childbirth, wild plants and nature. She also represents fire and the rock that is formed out of it on her volcanic islands. Such a simple example that Fire forms Earth, just as energy forms matter. The old islanders said that the Hawaiian Islands rose up out of the sea as the body of the spirit and, in fact, everything about Haumea is quintessentially Mother Nature with no dividing line between the islanders and their island.
There are a couple of synchronicities worth mentioning here and the first concerns the election of President Barack Obama. Haumea’s name was chosen 2 years before it was announced to the world, and at that time, no one would have guessed that a Hawaiian-born mixed-race senator would run for the office of President of the United States of America and win it. At the same time, the announcement was made abut Haumea. Another startling coincidence was the announcement that the planet was surrounded by five icy chunks and two moons, which seem to have been knocked off her body by a collision. (The moons were found using the telescope on Hawaii.) With Haumea herself, this makes eight. The state of Hawaii also comprises of the main island and then seven other islands that surround her, making a total of eight. Myth says these islands were formed from parts of her body.
Haumea has deep and profound resonance with creational energy and her volcanic origins, so this is key to understanding her. It is possible that she may symbolise discoveries in evolutionary science, so her future role in astrology is likely to be mundane, although this remains to be seen. In conclusion, we should read the words of Beckworth, who wrote this in 1940:
“Behind the (legend) is the Polynesian mythical conception of a dark formless spirit world presided over by the female element, and a world of form born out of the spirit world and to which it again returns, made visible and active in this human life through light as the impregnating male element.” 
Why the Arrival of So Many New Symbols? What Are We Being Introduced To?
Haumea, Makemake and Eris were all respected by races who believed that the god/desses were the feelings, energies and natural responses of the living and nature. They believed that all things on Earth are imbued with magical power, force and energy—a fact that science now knows to be true. But this concept was alien to the West, which has worshipped a single god and not nature. We lost our relationship with the environment, tuning in to technology and tuning out the sacred feminine and natural rhythm.
“The Key” from the Hermetic Texts gives a hierarchy of deity, putting a single almighty creator God at the top, with multiple and specific god/desses underneath and nature under that. Humans are at the bottom of the pile and they control “arts and science”. The trouble is we took control of “arts and science” and then took them too far. We introduced more and more gadgets, systems and complexity, which requires a great amount of planetary resources. But worse, we stopped believing in the god/desses.
In the last two thousand years, world religions tried to cut out and exclude the middle ranking god/desses, believing that we could report straight to the top guy who is arguably represented by Uranus or the Higher Universal Mind. This monotheism took us into misguided spiritual beliefs. It doesn’t work like that. There is no quick fix straight to the top leaving out the middle management. You have to work with them or they will complain--as they are doing. They will protect this dimension and humanity for its enviable, independent self-governance (which they tap into), but they do demand homage. If not, they will disrupt the whole shebang.
Astrologers who have been around a while are firmly attached to the old classical planets paradigm and quite happy with the astrology they get from that, thank you very much! It will take the new generations of astrologers to begin to use the dwarfs regularly, just as the new generations use Twitter and Paymobile.
So why do we need the Dwarf Planets? The dwarfs may be smaller in scale to the classicals, but small does not mean insignificant, as we know from our experience of Pluto’s power. The dwarf planets represent god/desses from the middle rankings just as the classical planets do and this makes them of equal importance. That said, the biggest reason is the one I used at the beginning of this article--we don't need astrology to tell us life is getting more complex..... but we do need an astrology to describe it!
Alison Chester-Lambert has written a book, The Future in the Stars, describing each of the Dwarf planets in detail. Alison lives in England, but is available for readings by phone. (She calls you). Visit her website, e-mail her, or phone: +44 7767 810889 or +44 1827 68288.
 Beckworth, M. (1940) Hawaiian Mythology; Sacred Texts (accessed 31 January 2009), p. 309
 Beckworth, M. (1940) Hawaiian Mythology; Sacred Texts (accessed 31 January 2009), p. 309
Alison's US West Coast Tour - May 2011
Friday, May 13-15: The Buddhist Wesak Festival, Mount Shasta. Non-astrology talk.
Monday, May 16: 6:30-9:30 pm. Astrology talk, Sacramento Area Astrologers
Wednesday, May 18 : Evening non-astrology talk. Mystic Journey Bookstore, Venice, Los Angeles
Thursday, May 19: Evening astrology talk. NCGR, Tarzana, Los Angeles
Friday, May 20: Evening astrology talk. Oregon Astrologers Association, Portland
Saturday, May 21: New Connections TV show. Portland, Oregon
Sunday, May 22: Afternoon non-astrology talk. New Renaissance book shop, Portland.
Alison is available for readings at different times during the tour and these can be booked now by e-mail--or you can contact her for additional details on her tour: email@example.com