TWO ARTICLES ON ERIS ARE NOW AVAILABLE IN THE ASTROLOGY SECTION OF THIS SITE
“Quantum physicists at the best institutions agree that the tiniest particles making up matter itself have ceased to behave with the predictability of linear equations. Instead, they jump around in a discontinuous fashion, disappearing, reappearing, suddenly gaining and losing energy.”
Finally 2003 UB313 has a name!
Eris, and her moon Dysnomia, were announced to the world by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on September 13th after an unprecedented 13½ months of discordant deliberation. Eris is the Greek goddess of strife and discord (Roman equivalent Discordia) and Dysnomia (‘lawlessness’) is one of her many daughters, her name also referring to the condition of being unable to name things. Discoverers Mike Brown, Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz, who suggested the names to the IAU, can clearly see the joke! Eris, under her Roman name of Discordia, even appeared in an episode of Xena, Warrior Princess, the more irreverent codename given to the new planet by her discoverers in advance of her official recognition.
As might be expected, astrological circles have been buzzing. Disappointingly, much of the comment seems to be focussing on the apparently malefic aspect of Eris and her Golden Apple of Discord, who are generally blamed for the start of the Trojan War. Yet astrological archetypes are what they are, and of themselves are neither positive nor negative. Whether they manifest as a positive or negative influence has more to do with individual context and how the energies are handled. So it seems pertinent to look at Eris in a more balanced light. And given her place in the outer reaches of the solar system, we can already predict that she will be deep, chaotic, and have to do with far more fundamental aspects of the human psyche than the personal planets close to the Sun.
The following comments are notes of thoughts arising from a closer look at the mythical character of Eris, combined with a direct apprehension of her energies. It should be emphasised that what the dwarf planet signifies in charts has yet to be determined in practice.
The story goes that Eris, alone among the Olympians, was excluded from the forced wedding of Peleus and Thetis because of her troublemaking inclinations. She therefore tossed into the party the Apple of Discord, a golden apple inscribed Kallisti – “For the most beautiful one”, or “To the Prettiest One” – provoking Hera, Athena and Aphrodite to begin quarreling about the appropriate recipient. Paris, Prince of Troy, was appointed to select the most beautiful. Each of the three goddesses immediately attempted to bribe him to choose her. Hera offered political power; Athena promised skill in battle; and Aphrodite tempted him with the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. While Greek culture placed a greater emphasis on prowess and power, Paris choose to award the apple to Aphrodite, thereby dooming his city, which was destroyed in the war that ensued when the Spartans demanded the return of their queen.
DIS-CORD (lit. hearts apart) is about breaking the ties of conditioning, the ties that bind us societally and culturally as well as individually. It’s about the challenge to think for ourselves and to real-ise our deeper “truer” natures (which are embedded in chaos to a far greater extent than we take them for). It’s about creating the dissonances in belief systems that shake them at their foundations and wake people up. No guru, no teacher, no method stuff, though kind of Zen in many ways.
Appropriate then, that Eris was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. The right to self-determination is excluded in a forced marriage. This aspect of Eris also gives us a common theme with her previous incarnation of Xena, the latter now seeming much more of a two-dimensional character – a kind of female Mars/Ares, too ego-based (which Eris is not) in comparison to the vast depth and potential inherent in Eris.
Discord is also the discordant notes which are just so much more dynamic, so much more sublime, than the purest of regular harmonies (think Bruckner, Tavener, Bulgarian folk singers). They’re scrunchy – they rub you up in all sorts of interesting ways and send shivers down your spine – and this is more in the nature of Eris’s discord and strife than our purely dualistic unidimensional conception of man-pitted-against-man, though inevitably there are shades of that too.
Eris might have been instrumental in precipitating the Trojan War, but did she really cause it? What caused the immediate problem was the reaction of the participants to Eris’s apple, reactions for which they were responsible, not Eris. Were it not for the goddesses falling prey to greed, vanity and jealousy – arguably far greater vices than a bit of spoon-stirring – no trouble would have ensued. But ultimately the responsibility could be seen to lie with Zeus and Poseidon who forced the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, because they did not respect the right to self-determination, being interested only in the prophecy that Thetis’ son (Achilles) would become mightier than his father. In this context, Eris begins to look far more like a scapegoat than a prima facie principal cause.
Similarly, discord, differences of opinion, are not of themselves problematic. What creates the problem is the idea that only one person can be “right”, so Eris can be seen to be constantly challenging this perceived need for uniformity of outlook, the hegemony of the established order, and the tyranny and preciousness of the ego along with it. She invites us to go beyond such superficial concerns to a deeper, more fundamental, more authentic level of reality. She invites us into the darkly chaotic.
There is an enormous amount of fun in this energy. It’s very irreverent. Self-confident. Doesn’t give a toss for authority or rules (particularly in the company of Dysnomia). Anarchic. Chaotic. Rooted in paradox. Throws the spotlight on Borges’ “eternal intervals of illogicalness” (left). Loves to disturb people’s cosy illusions and throw them things from way left of field, challenging dogma and habit and undermining serious certitude. A more fundamental cousin of Trickster, with no mentalised clever-cleverness, reasoning or structure. Carpe Diem. Everything’s up for grabs. Messes with people’s fixed perceptions and pulls the rug out from under their feet. Throws a spanner in the works, or perhaps the odd golden apple. Stomps all over delicate sensibilities, particularly the more tyrannical ones, with glee. Shades of John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) “all confusion is confident …”
It’s significant that Eris is in Aries because this process is just beginning. Eris entered Aries on April 28 1923 and will leave it for the last time on March 10 2048. [All dates from Jonathan Dunn's ephemeris.] In 2012, Eris will be moving to and fro between 21° and 22° degrees Aries. The Sabian symbols (Rudhyar keynotes) for those degrees are respectively “The gate to the garden of all fulfilled desires.” Keynote: Abundance made possible by human togetherness and cooperation, and “A pregnant woman in light summer dress.” Keynote: Fecundity (Fertility/Productive) inner fulfillment. However, the Sabian for 20° Aries, which is where the planet is backing into right now and will enter next Thursday – and will be backing into repeatedly between now and Feb 8 2010 when it finally leaves 20° behind – is “A pugilist enters the ring.” Keynote: The release and glorification of social aggressiveness. Eris’s proximity to 20° Aries on the day of its announcement is highly amusing in view of the predominantly pugilistic interpretation currently being made of its energies!
Eris was also at 20° Aries until August 30 2001, when it backed into 19° Aries, Sabian “A young girl feeding birds in winter.” Keynote: Overcoming crises through compassion. Note that the Sabian for 21° Aries – abundance through togetherness and cooperation – needs to be seen in the sense of a group of individuals all thinking for themselves and cooperating out of a sense of mutual respect and shared goals, NOT in the sense of sharing some dogma and being bound by its rules.
Eris’s number is 5. (An apple sliced crosswise has a 5-pointed star at its core.) She has a strong resonance with 5th house matters – creative self-expression, the senses, pleasure and entertainment, games and play, adventure, exploration, knowledge-seeking – and, in common with the Sun, the hitherto sole ruler of the 5th house, also has to do with self-determination. She is the flip side of the coin that is Geburah, severity, the 5th sephirah within the Qabbalistic Tree of Life. Yet she is also strength, another designation given to Geburah. Note that briga, the old Celtic word for strife, derives from brig, strength, and that brigands were bands of outlaws bringing chaos wherever they went. Eris gets us comfortable with chaos and introduces us to the sheer fun of it all.
A delightfully irreverent expression of Erisian energy is found in Discordianism, a religion founded in the late 1950s and dedicated to Eris. “It has been described as both an elaborate joke disguised as a religion, and as a religion disguised as an elaborate joke. Some of its followers make the claim that it is “a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion” (or “a joke disguised as a religion disguised as a joke disguised as…”). It can be viewed as a simple rejection of reductionism and dualism, even falsifiability – not in concept different from postmodernism or certain trends in the philosophy of mathematics. It has also been described as “Zen for roundeyes,” and converges with some of the more absurdist interpretations of the Rinzai school.”
“GREATER POOP: Is Eris true?
MALACLYPSE THE YOUNGER: Everything is true.
GP: Even false things?
M2: Even false things are true.
GP: How can that be?
M2: I don’t know man, I didn’t do it.”
Discordian koan, from Principia Discordia