If your astrology chart is a restaurant, the signs choose the table, the houses set the plating, and the planets are the food. Asteroids, then, in this grand and exhausting metaphor, would be the special sauce, the garnish, the indelible addition that makes your chart a signature dish. Though your planets and signs lay out the big epics of your life, the asteroids act as the cast of characters, adding detail and dimension to your emotional history and relationship dynamics.
Over 12,000 asteroids have been catalogued in our solar system, with all manner of names assigned, including Nancy, Merlin, and Pecker. Though you can spend a lifetime fitting them all into the mosaic of your chart, most astrologers work with a core ensemble of characters. The first four asteroids, Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta, discovered in the 19th century, were originally believed to be planets, and are still considered essential.
Most of the popularly-evoked asteroids are named after women deities, offering a contrast to the male-skewing planetary pantheon, and a less-traveled avenue of mythological interpretation. The high femmes of antiquity were often denigrated and disrespected, but in reinterpreting them through evolving lenses of gender and identity, they awaken new possibilities of self-realization. Only you decide what their stories mean to you.
Find our guide to some of the key players in your chart, below.
The Roman name for Demeter, goddess of the Harvest, Ceres represents a titanic, possibly overpowering mother figure. When Ceres’ daughter Persephone was abducted by Pluto, god of the underworld, the mother of the world unleashed an eternal famine, starving all life until her daughter would be returned. Only by striking a deal could the gods restore balance. Persephone would spend six months of the year above ground, at her mother’s side, the spring and summer, and six months down below, with her new husband as the queen of hell, for the fall and winter. In your chart, Ceres speaks to balance, seasons, and cycles, and about the attachments and feelings which can throw everything into disarray. Ceres can clue you in to the times where you felt smothered by your parents, and, conversely, to the parts who still need nourishment. Does your love leave something to be desired? Or does it lay waste to everything in its path?
Mars isn’t the only god of warfare in your chart. Pallas, known more commonly as Athena or Minerva, rules over the domains of the intellect and strategy, playing as active a role in the epics as any of her male relatives. Pallas’ brother Mars acts with force, and in your chart, signifies your sexual fire, drive, and desire to conquer. But Pallas, ever more clever, represents a more natural entitlement to rule, a place of natural individuality, and leadership. A virgin goddess, with the long-range vision of a Bene Gesserit sister, Athena pursues victory without compromise. In your chart, Pallas may indicate the arenas of life where you were born to take charge — and sheds light on the ways you were instructed to dull your authenticity or intensity. What’s yours to claim?
Someone is lying. Juno, or Hera, is the sister-wife of Jupiter, or Zeus, the lascivious and lustful king of the gods. Jupiter’s extra-marital exploits were innumerable, making his wife a stand-in for cultural views on marriage: Hunting after her husband’s lovers, was Juno a righteous vindicator of a holy union, or a satirical shrew? One way or another, Juno has something to say about relationships, and how reality differs from what was promised under the altar. Juno can indicate a place in your life where you’ve been gaslit, or trapped in a family power dynamic. What are the terms of your relationships? Who has blocked you off from your power? When have you demanded answers, only to be labelled crazy? Juno demands respect, even if she has to scream for it.
Long before the virgin was associated with provincial sexual moralism and church-based guilt, she was a holy priestess and keeper of sacred spaces, whose ownership over her selfhood and surroundings was immaculate. Never marrying, these proto-witches engaged in ecstatic rites and rituals of sexual liberation and fertility, operating as emissaries of higher gods and goddesses. In your chart, the placement of Virgo deals with themes of the virgin’s perfect self-definition, which Vesta further sharpens. Whichever house and sign Vesta occupies is a temple, a place which is meant to be only yours — uncompromised and incorruptible. If Vesta is in Libra, in your fourth house of home, you will find great power in making your living surroundings a temple. If she’s in Aries, in your sixth house of work and the body, then you’re someone who loses themselves in the process of their vocation. Vesta wants you to treat a part of your life as entirely holy, and entirely your own.
The first of a new astronomical class known as centaurs — heavenly bodies with features of comets and asteroids — Chiron was discovered in 1977 and named after the half-human, half-stallion of myth. Chiron, like many immortals, really knew how to suffer, living forever with wounds from a hydra-poisoned arrow, and eventually electing a place in the underworld to free a fellow god from eternal torment. Chiron represents a wound forever unhealed, a source of past pain and suffering which must be embraced for a higher purpose. Your pain is the gate to your awakening. In Astrology and the Authentic Self, Dmetra George writes that “the credentials of the chronic healer are those of direct real-life experience, as opposed to the theoretic knowledge gained in books and classrooms,” and notes that the discovery of the centaur coincided with the rise of 12 Step programs. Wherever Chiron is found in your chart, he has lessons to offer — for you, and perhaps for the world. You just have to face him.
Though her lifestyle and identity may be up for debate by historians, the Greek poetess Sappho’s works are undeniably homoerotic, surging with love and affection for her companions. As Sappho was based on the isle of Lesbos, her work is forever associated with same-sex love. In your chart, she speaks to the equanimity, closeness, and care involved in queer relationships, or any form of solidarity outside of the dominant social order. Sappho will show you a place in your life where you feel affirmed, seen and understood. If she’s in Taurus, in your 11th house of community and network, she may point to an audience or social group that gives you a new sense of validation. In Scorpio, in your seventh house of intimate partnerships, she speaks to a life partner or long-term collaborator who has your back.
EROS & PSYCHE
Eros, otherwise known as Cupid, was the son of Venus and princeling god of desire. He seduced and married the mortal princess Psyche (which translates to “soul”), but would never reveal himself to her, making her agree to meet him only in the pitch-black embrace of night. In the inevitable trials which would ensue in their relationship, Psyche’s faith would be tested, as would the limits of Eros’ machinations. As asteroids in your chart, these two speak to the ways we operate in courtships and romances. Eros can indicate an overexertion of control, especially over how you’re seen in the relationship. How old is your dom top act getting? Psyche, meanwhile, makes you consider who or what you’re willing to take a great leap for, and when you’ve been beguiled. Force a switch between your masculine and feminine archetypes, and your relationship life could come alive.