The image of Hygeia is a constant in modern times. Although we do not always recognise her for the goddess that she is, perhaps there are more images of her in the media than any other Greek goddess except Aphrodite.
In the Greek pantheon, she is one of the daughters of Aesculapius, the doctor. One sister is Panacea “cure-all”, another is Iaso (recuperation) and she is, of course, the goddess of hygiene — which frankly sounds rather dreary. However, the Greeks didn’t think so. They probably did not mean OCD style disinfection, after all no one really knew about germs until Louis Pasteur named and shamed them.
Eldest born of powers divine!
Bless’d Hygeia! be it mine
To enjoy what thou canst give,
And henceforth with thee to live:
For in power if pleasure be
Wealth or numerous progeny
Or in amorous embrace,
Where no spy infests the place;
Or in aught that Heaven bestows
To alleviate human woes,
When the wearied heart despairs
Of a respite from its cares;
These cold and every true delight
Flourish only in thy sight;
And the sister graces three
Owe, themselves, their youth to thee
Without whom we may possess
Much, but never happiness.
Ariphron’s Hymn to Hygeia translated by William Cowper
Hygeia is the goddess of health and the maintenance of health.
There is a big asteroid in the Kuiper belt named after her and, in the mysterious and beautiful way of astrology, it’s wonderful to see how she works in some natal charts. You can see that she is indeed the asteroid of nursing, hygiene and perhaps prevention.
Here are some examples
Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing,
Hygeia conjunct Venus in the 1oth house of career in caring Cancer
Joseph Lister, the father of antisepsis,
Hygeia on the North Node in Scorpio (kill those germs)
Hygeia on the North Node in Aquarius (understand those germs)
Melinda Gates, moving spirit of The Gates Foundation, which is on a mission to eradicate malaria among other widespread diseases
Hygeia on the North Node in Cancer (she is especially keen on childhood vaccination)
Bob Smith, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous
Hygeia conjunct Saturn in Aries – the group has pioneered individual responsibility for health.
(Smith’s co-founder, Bill Wilson has a less obvious Hygeia but nevertheless it’s at an exact square from Aquarius to a Mars, Mercury, Uranus stellium in Scorpio)
Margaret Sanger, birth control pioneer
Another Hygeia conjunct Saturn in Aries — maybe saying no can be good for your health
To find Hygeia in your own chart, go to the “extended chart selection” page on astro.com and type “10” into the box marked asteroids etc.
More on Hygeia later.