Names: Ceres (Roman), Demeter (Greek)
Asteroids: Ceres (#1), Demeter (#1108)
Mythology: Goddess of the harvest, agriculture, the seasons, fertility, and motherhood. Mother of the goddess of spring and queen of the underworld, Persephone. Central figure in the Eleusinian Mystery Rites.
Light Expression: Nurturing, loving, and devoted mother or caregiver. Natural talents in the food and agriculture industry. Nourishes others with good food and care. Attuned to natural the cycles and seasons of life. Confronts the suffering and pain of death/loss, is transformed by the process, and is able to live life without fear thereafter.
Shadow Expression: Smothering and controlling mother or caregiver. Suffers from an overwhelming fear of death or loss (especially of a child). Withholds love, nourishment, or care out of a place of sorrow, anger, fear, or hurt. Struggles with depression and is unable to be joyous in the present moment because of an underlying fear and sadness surrounding potential loss.
Exploration: Dwarf planet Ceres is named after the Roman goddess of agriculture, fertility, and the love a mother bears for her child (Greek, Demeter). In mythology, the most popular story featuring Ceres is the one in which she loses her daughter, Persephone (Kore) to the underworld. At the beginning of this myth, Persephone is the youthful maiden goddess of spring who proceeds the harvest, ruled by Ceres. Persephone goes by Kore, which means “maiden” or “daughter,” suggesting that her primary role was to be the daughter and Ceres’ purpose was to be the matron who nurtured and mothered her. One fateful day, Persephone wanders off from her companions to pick flowers, when the ground opens up and Pluto (Hades), god of the underworld, emerges, abducts Persephone, and takes her hostage. When Ceres learns that Persephone has gone missing, she searches far and wide for her lost daughter, but to no avail. Only the dead and chthonic deities were allowed entrance into the underworld, so Ceres could not search there. During her plight, Ceres encounters a series of wise crone goddesses who guide and support her – including Hekate, the goddess of the crossroads, and Baubo, the goddess of mirth – and passes time in the city of Eleusis, where she cares for the queen’s sun under the guise of an old nursemaid.
Eventually, Ceres learns what has happened to Persephone from Helios, the all-seeing Sun god, and that Jupiter (Zeus) had allowed for her abduction. Overcome by rage and despair, Ceres prevents the plants from growing and withholds sustenance and nurturance from the Earth. Eventually, Jupiter decides the draught and famine can go on no longer and decrees that Pluto must allow Persephone to return to her mother. Pluto obliges, but before Persephone leaves, she eats six pomegranate seeds. This act of eating food from the underworld thereby binds her to the land of the dead, and she is no longer allowed to leave permanently. To appease Ceres and prevent the famine from continuing, a deal is struck whereby Persephone spends 6 months (Spring and Summer) with Ceres on Earth, and 6 months (Fall and Winter) as Pluto’s wife and queen of the underworld. Each Spring, Ceres celebrates her daughter’s return by birthing new life and allowing crops to take seed, and each Fall she mourns her daughter’s descent into the underworld and withdraws her life-giving sustenance from the earth; thereby creating the seasons.
In ancient Greece, this story became the basis for the Eleusinian Mystery Rites; a series of rituals based on a symbolic reading of the myth. Little is known about the actual rituals, as initiates into the rites were sworn to secrecy. What we do know is that those who participated in the mysteries developed a new understanding of life and their purpose in the world, and that they were forever freed from the fear of death. For this reason, Ceres (Demeter) also became identified with the ability to descend into the suffering of loss and arise the other side freed from the fear of loss of death.
In astrology, the qualities associated with Ceres’ asteroids are linked to these mythological and historical underpinnings. Those who have her asteroid(s) prominently placed in their birth chart may feel strongly connected to the role of mother or caregiver. They may nurture and nourish others with food by feeding their family and/or working as a chef, farmer, nutritionist, or in some other role in the food and agriculture industry. Becoming a parent or providing love and care to others in some tangible way will likely be extremely important to Ceres natives. They may also experience a strong fear of loss and death – especially the loss of a child. If this fear is not managed, they may become smothering or overprotective, and will likely suffer greatly in their attempt to control their loved one(s). Sometimes these natives will worry so much about potential loss that they cannot be happy in the present moment, as they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. This can lead to deep depression and persistent anxiety, causing the Ceres native to withdraw love and nurturance from herself and others. Another shadow manifestation is disordered eating, in which nourishment is withheld from the body for long periods of time from a place of control or despondency. Ceres natives may also experience the loss of a child or loved one to death, addiction, mental illness, a sinister spouse, etc. Whether the loss is literal (e.g. a death) or figurative (e.g. a child marries an abusive and controlling spouse), the process of grieving and the experience of loss is potent and life-changing. The highest call of Ceres natives is, therefore, to confront the deeply held fear of death and loss, along with any complexes and compulsions that accompany it, and ultimately transcend and release this fear. In this way, Ceres natives can become incredible hospice workers, caregivers, chaplains, and counselors for those facing the end of life or experiencing a major loss.
To find out if Ceres’ myth is prominent in your astrological birth chart and psyche, see if she is making any major aspects (e.g. conjunction or opposition) to your luminaries (e.g. the Sun and Moon), planets (e.g. Venus, Jupiter, etc.), the Moon’s Nodes, OR to any significant dwarf planets (e.g. Haumea: #136108) or asteroids (e.g. Persephone: #399) in your natal (birth) chart. It’s also helpful to look at Ceres’ sign, house, and other planetary aspects to better understand how she shows up in your personality, subconscious, and life experience. If Ceres is not significant in your chart, but you feel liker her myth is prominent for you, try looking up asteroid Demeter (#1108) – the Greek version of Ceres – to see if it plays a larger part. If not, you may be experiencing Ceres by progression, transit (personal or collective), solar arc, or in your solar return chart. Whatever you find astrologically, if you feel Ceres’ presence in your life, it’s time to work with her myth, meditate on her light and shadow attributes, and see what she is hoping to awaken in you.
If you would like some guidance and support in understanding the Ceres archetype, or other goddess archetypes, in your astrological chart and personal experience, feel free to reach out to me and we can do a goddess astrology reading, mentorship meeting, or archetypal coaching session to further explore her purpose in your life.