Have you seen the picture of Beyonce with her twins? The pictures likeness to Virgin Mary, mother of Christ, reminded me of Ceres the Great Mother Goddess. I looked it up and sure enough, Beyonce’s Ceres is in Virgo conjunct her Sun -which means her identity is fused with the archetype of nurturing, loving Earth Mama.While her public face has been primarily as the creative artist (Venus in Libra), she has been very vocal about how motherhood has given her a sense of purpose (Sun). “I feel more beautiful than I’ve ever felt because I’ve given birth, I have never felt so connected, never felt like I had such a purpose on this earth.” This fits with the mythology of the archetype: Ceres/Demeter’s primary identity is mother, and her primary relationship — the relationship she derives the most satisfaction and fulfillment from– is not with her spouse, but her child or children.
But Ceres isn’t just about motherhood. How well do you know Ceres, in your chart? Astrologically, she represents how we care for our self, our attachment to, and loss of, people and pets we love, and our ability to make peace with all cycles of life. She introduces the awareness that winter always follows spring, and so loving others must always include a process of letting go. She can have issues, galore, and rail against loss, at first, but a healthy relationship to Ceres aids self-acceptance and self-esteem.
Ceres, Nourishment & Self Love
As an astrologer, working with Ceres initially posed a practical problem. I adored Demetra George’s book Asteroid Goddesses when I first read it, but had no idea how to integrate the asteroids into an astrology session. As Demetra said in her book, until recently Ceres, along with Pallas, Juno, Vesta (feminine healing and creative intelligence -Pallas; power sharing in partnership -Juno; spiritual devotion -Vesta) have been dormant voices of the feminine. I knew their issues were important. How would these voices ever be included if I didn’t attempt to speak them? So I’d open the conversation by relaying her myth.
The myth is interesting (it’s a long myth; I tell it in pieces, depending on what’s occurring in a client’s life). Ceres’, the (Roman Demeter) Goddess of Agriculture and mother to Persephone, myth revolves around the abduction and return of her daughter, and her response to it. When Persephone disappeared (or was taken), Ceres stopped eating and bathing. She wandered the land and neglected her duty- to provide food. As time went on and people began to starve, Zeus intervened and made a deal: half the year Persephone would live with Hades underground, and the other half Persephone could visit her mother. Thus, the seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter, autumn and winter being the times when Ceres made the world barren with rage at her daughter’s loss.
As this part suggests, Ceres can show compulsive behavior related to unhealthy attachments to others, food, and self-neglect. In some retellings, Ceres denied adolescent Persephone’s growing independence and that’s why her daughter had to be taken away from her. Sometimes Ceres types can be overbearing, and frankly, codependent; insisting that only she can provide everything you need, she can make others dependent on her. And just as depressed and grieving Ceres withheld food from herself and others when unhappy, food is an issue for some people with Ceres placements -either too much or too little (especially connected to Taurus, or Moon), sometimes to the point of a severe disorder. I’ve observed a difficult Ceres in charts of people with eating disorders. When food is equated with unconditional love, in its absence we can try to fill the void with food, or deny ourself nourishment. However, food is only one form of nourishment.
How to Feed Yourself
Do you know how to feed yourself? I’m not just talking about food. Think about it: How many of us in modern society struggle with how to authentically nourish our selves –on all levels? Ceres instructs us to go beyond food as love and expand our definition of what it means to nourish and love our self. This classically belonged to the planets — we look to the Moon for our happiness, nurturing and self-care needs, and Venus for self-esteem, but I’ve found Ceres offers specific information on how to lovingly accept, care for, provide for and nourish our self, and equally, how we may deny our self those same things.
To figure out how to feed your self: What is your Ceres sign? You need to “eat” your Ceres. For instance, with Ceres in Sagittarius, I nourish myself through higher knowledge, the search for meaning and the pursuit of enlightenment. Ceres also shows what you enjoy “feeding” others. I enjoy offering what I discover on my journey, as nourishment, for you. Ceres in Gemini finds information exchange, writing, talking and educating nourishing, and offers what they have in that vein to others. Beyonce’, with Ceres in Virgo, nourishes her self through the hard work of crafts-womanship, perfecting her art, then shares it with us. Ceres doesn’t hoard the harvest for herself, she shares.
Your Ceres aspects deepen the story. A more harmonious aspect from a planet offers its unobstructed energy to the nurturing urge. There’s a flow there between the energies which enhance your ability to care for your self and others. Challenging aspects offer you a picture of any early conditioning or blockages to being “fed”. A challenging aspect to Ceres indicates how you may deny your self nourishment, as Ceres did. You may need to go beyond your inadequate early conditioning, to integrate more self-compassion.
For instance, with Neptune conjunct my Ceres in my second house, for some periods of my life I denied myself second house Sagittarius – possibility, independence, higher education, the pursuit of enlightenment and wisdom- because these qualities were absent or discouraged by my early nurturer (Neptune-Ceres). Interestingly, I often used the excuse “I don’t have the money” (Neptune in 2nd). I also found spending money on food “a waste” -though now clean, whole food has become my highest value. This makes sense because I also dealt with neglect as a child; Neptune-Ceres can indicate a situation where nurturing/food is denied due to illness or mysterious reasons. When I gave myself permission to spend money on intangibles, like delicious food, classes and teachers who expand my mind and soul, I realized I’d been a flower in a desert in dire need of water! “Feeding myself” with things that inspire and lift Spirit, is my Ceres form of self-love.
Ceres teaches that self-acceptance is a verb -it’s the way we compassionately relate to our self, what “food” we offer our self, when we are hungry, lost, sad, and in need. When we do this, we discover there’s been a harvest there all along: our self-acceptance. For instance, with Ceres in Aquarius, individuality and differentness is the path to self-acceptance. Any encouragement there goes a long way. For instance, a client has Ceres in Aquarius in the sixth house of mentorship; she’s been learning astrology with me for about 10 years now. For Ceres in Virgo, self acceptance arises from feeling competent, useful and helpful, etc.
Loss, Stepmothers, Self-Sufficiency
In practice, I’ve observed that outer planets transits to Ceres often included loss: of a mother figure, child or pet. My grandmother died while Saturn joined my Ceres. A dear girlfriend lost a child in labor, and several client’s lost beloved pets died – all while Pluto transited their natal Ceres. I take no pleasure in making these types of connection for a client, and yet I also do, because in retelling Ceres’ myth it allows me to gently address a taboo topic in our culture -death. To talk about death in a feminine way, with less fear and more naturalness, takes it out of the realm of horror and normalizes it as part of the human experience. Which is what Ceres would want, as she was ultimately assigned the leader of the Goddess cult of Eleusis, which had rituals to demystify dying. When active by transit, it can be painful; her scythe cuts down harvest in its prime. But as an initiator of loss she wants to help us face our fears about dying and loss. Do we believe this life is all there is? Is death really something to fear? Don’t we experience little losses, daily?
She may challenge our attachments but Ceres is also present when we’re called into care-taking roles. A prominent Ceres, say, in a Solar Return can indicate a year of satisfaction through care-taking and nurturing. I adopted my dog during the year Ceres was conjunct my IC. Another client became a foster mother to a series of cats when her Ceres was astrologically active with Pluto- (so Ceres/Pluto isn’t all difficult news –she did endure some wicked trials surrounding those pets, but she is still fostering to this day). Ceres doesn’t ask us to become a mother, but that we find an outlet for our nurturing instincts. Fostering animals -and plants- is a fabulous way to do this. A client of mine works for the forest service. I love this: She lives on her astro-cartography Ceres line!
Which introduces the idea of step-parenting and foster parents. As a stepmother myself, I often wondered what planet to use as a significator for a step or foster parent. What planet would tell me more about my relationship to a stepmother- or my role as stepmom? The Moon didn’t seem adequate, especially when there’s more than one mother figure in one’s life. Enter Ceres. In myth, after she lost Persephone she disguised her Goddess aspect and went into a village where she was hired for a job as a nanny. In other words, she stepped into the role of mother for another’s child (this could also be fulfilled by a grandmother, a “manny”, or foster parent). So transits to Ceres can tell us more about our relationship to our step-in nurturers, a likewise, our Ceres to our experience as step-nurturer.
I also noticed themes of “empty-nesting” and self-sufficiency at Ceres times. Children leaving home for college can be harrowing, an empty time for one whose identity has revolved around being a mother. It’s natural to ask, Who am I without my children?, grieve or become depressed for a period. During these times, Ceres is often active by transit for the mother- or primary caretaker. One way of dealing with loss of a mother role is to find someone or something new to nurture, as Ceres did. One of my clients literally re-enacted this part of the Ceres myth exactly after the last of her three children left home and she decided to become a mom coach to new mothers. Of course, it’s an ideal time to nurture the self. To envision one’s identity as more multi-faceted than mother, an all-consuming role, is one of the biggest challenges a woman can face at this time.
Equally, Ceres is a symbol for self-sufficiency- how good we are at taking care of our self, and others by extension, because that’s just what the Great Mother, and nurturers do. A newly divorced client was facing the question of how to support her children as a single mother for the first time. Natal Ceres in Capricorn in the second house was being transited by Pluto. I suggested this would be a time that she could develop new income sources, out of necessity, but that it would feel good to do so. She did exactly that. I imagine that difficult aspects to Ceres can also point to patterns of extreme self-neglect, too, and of course, blockages around providing for one’s own basic physical and spiritual needs.
In summary, Ceres is worth getting to know. With Neptune conjunct my Ceres, for a long time I wasn’t aware of her presence (it’s odd how often that happens with Neptune, how Neptune can “disappear” an entire personality function, rendering it invisible to our self). Regardless, many astrologers don’t use the asteroids because they haven’t been integrated into our shared language, yet; unlike transits to Pluto, Jupiter or the Moon, “I’m having a transit to my Ceres” telepathically often conveys nothing. But I hope this helps with that. For you, just as she was for me, she could be a missing link, helping you to understand how to accept, nourish and love your self more authentically.
P.S. -What to know what Goddess wisdom Ceres has for you, in your birth chart? Order your custom Asteroid Goddess report today.
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