|Mother Rose and her baby. Mary Cassatt (Ceres conjunct MC in Scorpio)
who became famous for her intensely emotional pictures of the mother-child bond
To caress the soft downy scalp of a baby, her head small enough to cradle in the palm of your hand, her hands like starflowers…when her fingers curl around yours, her eyelids flutter closed, her face fills with bliss… motherhood can be heaven…
Motherhood belongs to the Moon in traditional astrology. But the dwarf planet Ceres – discovered in the 19th century, promoted to equal status with Pluto by astronomers in 2006 – is profoundly connected to nurturing, parenting, fertility: the cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth.
I’ll write about the most obvious application of this first, that is real human babies, and then see what emerges from that.
First birth. From experience, transits and progressions of Ceres are excellent for timing conception and birth. I have found this true repeatedly in the charts of clients. A couple of personal examples: both my children were conceived under transits from Ceres to my natal chart, my partner’s natal Ceres exactly conjuncts my daughter’s Ascendant – within one minute (so she made him a parent), and my natal Ceres had progressed to 0° Taurus when I started a family. Aries is a barren sign, Taurus one of the most fruitful.
Next growth. To understand how Ceres works in the natal chart, I have been trying to understand how she works for me as a mother. Most of the literature I read about her could just as easily be applied to the Moon, so we need to unpick those two energies.
|Mary Cassatt again.
I have Ceres in Aries – my only fiery placement aside from Leo Rising, so I can feel her energy as quite different from my normally wet and windy self. Do I take care of my children in an Aries way? That would be directly, physically, passionately, instinctively.
In fact, when it comes to how I respond to my children on a daily basis, I can feel my Gemini Moon at work – talking, spinning webs of stories and ideas, watching endless episodes of Charmed, reading aloud, taking them to explore strange cities, eat in cafes and generally flan around. None of that is Aries stuff. This is all about minds and words and people.
So how does the Ceres in Aries manifest?
I mother by the seat of my pants. It’s pure intuition. I found looking after babies easy, because I trusted my gut instinct. Babies are, of course, an Aries thing too, as the baby of the zodiac.
And I ended up completely ignoring all the Moon in Gemini stuff I’d done to prepare – like reading every baby book in the library, taking classes and asking everyone I knew about their experience, since I had absolutely none. I knew nothing about babies before I had my own. Yet almost from the moment my child was born, I turned into feral Mama, and ignored the cacophony of advice, learning directly from the babies themselves. My children taught me how to be a mother. This is an Aries thing, acting like a pioneer even when the thing you are doing has been done a million times before. Aries have to do everything for themselves. No matter how much you tell an Aries Sun to learn from your profound experience, they just can’t. They need to do it first hand. Mothering for me has been like re-inventing the wheel.
Ceres in Aries also seems to show how I love my children — with a hot, immediate, focused ferocity, and, despite the Gemini Moon, pretty non-verbally underneath the gossamer of stories and I love yous. (Thank goodness their dad has Ceres in Cancer, and they actually get fed regularly.)
I don’t find Aries stuff personally nourishing, though, and this is contrary to what I read about Ceres. Aries is what I give, not what I need.
So to unpick this a bit. Maybe Ceres is about what and how we cherish. Cherish means “to hold dear.” That’s all. The Moon, at least in my case, describes the childhood we create for our children, the atmosphere, the womb. Ceres describes the core emotion. So the Moon is the whole garden.
I have a good friend with the Moon in Capricorn and Sun in Aquarius. Her kids are being brought up exactly like her husband was, and you might expect there to be a certain coolness in her attitude to her children with those Saturnine placements. But I know her, and actually she has a kind of instinctive misty-eyed passion for her kids with is completely alien to both those signs. It was not until I noticed her Ceres in hot Sagittarius conjunct Neptune and Lilith, that her secret lava-flow of emotion in this one particular area made sense.
Here’s another example. I have friend with a lovely Taurus Moon. She is a great cook and looks like a cuddly, soft bundle of mumsiness. But when it comes to her own (very cute) offspring, she’s kind of detached, cool, analytical, not at all touchy-feely – yes, she has Ceres in Aquarius.
|Mary Cassatt again.|
One of my clients was worried about her son – and with good cause. She has Moon in Capricorn, and again she’s bringing her son up just as she had been. Unfortunately, both of them have Chiron exactly on the IC, and this upbringing hurts. She understood her son best when he was a toddler, and in fact has always had unerring instinct when it comes to his physical needs – food, hugs, rest. But the Capricorn Moon over-rode the Ceres in Taurus in this case – he was sent to boarding school – and things haven’t turned out too well — yet. My client needs to get back to the Ceres in Taurus energy, which requires patience and paying attention. Since her son has Ceres-Moon in Taurus, I’m quite hopeful.
I have another friend who has not had children. She would have been a wonderful mother and her friends and family know that, so she is a godmother and fairy aunt many times over. She has Ceres in Pisces in the third house.
Many of us are not going to have children, parenting is only part of our identities, and our Ceres is still going to be doing something. How would these ideas apply in a baby-free context. I looked at the chart of a childless client of mine who is a dedicated artist – Ceres conjunct Venus in Libra – and she does indeed cherish beauty.
The question I ask here really is this: does Ceres tell you what or how you cherish?
Ceres works in charts, both natal and mundane, in several other important ways too, and we have yet to discuss Ceres as one of the guardians of the underworld and her relationship with Pluto.
That is for the next post.
Meanwhile, Michael Wolfstar at Neptune Café has a good page on Ceres.