Minor planet Eris* was only discovered in 2005, but her astrology seems like it has been with us forever. Eris is the uber dark goddess in my opinion, and as such shares similar astrological traits as Black Moon Lilith, which I have already studied in depth. But what makes Eris unique in her own right? What makes her more than just a female version of Pluto or an outer planet version of Lilith?
The Eris Myths
In myth Eris is the Greek goddess of discord, but there are two Eris’s. The first Eris is the daughter of Nyx who gave birth to a litter of nasties including Algos (pain & sorrows) and Dysnomia (lawlessness). The second Eris is the sister of bloodthirsty Ares. So first impressions then are melancholia and sorrow mixed with bloody, raging anger.
Eris as daughter of Nyx unleashes her strife-bearing children when anyone lies under oath. Eris is simply doing her job of dishing out fate. As a dark goddess she is only balancing the books and keeping the natural order. This Eris is about tough love and brings rough justice. The side of Eris which is the sister of Ares shows up in the next myth.
Eris was not invited to a wedding so she chucked an apple marked “To the fairest” into party for the vainest goddesses to fight over. Her rage at rejection and the need for vindication is what is blamed for the Trojan war. The side of her that is like Lilith is the fact that she was the uninvited guest, the disowned and exiled, the 13th fairy that cursed sleeping beauty. Finally Eris, like Lilith in the garden of Eden caused a hell of a lot of trouble with just one apple! But we must look further than the myths.
New 10th Planet?
Even the discovery of Eris was controversial. When Uranus was discovered it shattered the perfectly constructed Hellenistic version of the solar system. Uranus showed there was another dimension…It broke the mold. Eris was quite a different story, she was discovered when it was getting quite apparent that there was now just too much out there.
The solar system was getting unruly with new discoveries every week, so with Eris all the new bodies were boxed and categorised. Just before Eris was about to be honoured by the status of being the 10 planet, the astronomers called an end to the madness and decided to demote Pluto and promote Ceres. Along with Eris, the gang of three become known as dwarf plants. Neptune is the end of the line now according to schoolbooks. Because of Eris the expanding solar system has paradoxically shrunk!
Like Uranus then, part of Eris’s character can be gleaned from her discovery story. Eris opened up a big scary can of Centaurs, Plutinos, Cubewanos and TNO’s. A Goddess as an outer planet?! Time to contain and control.. Eris is left out of the party once more. This time though she has taken down mighty Pluto too, infact Eris will take everyone down with her if she feels she has been treated unfairly or disrespected. She exposes hypocrisy and takes and eye for an eye.
Eris is the perfect whistle blower, but there is a touch of the joker in Batman to her. When she eventually dishes out her revenge she does it with such style! Eris is about poetic justice, the scene in the Godfather when the gangster wakes up in bed with the head of his favourite racehorse seems so very Eris to me. The similarities of Eris with Ereshkigal do not go unnoticed, in fact Lilith was Ereshkigal’s handmaiden. Eris a flamboyant militant and activist, but most of all she is the warrior Queen. Think Boudicca crossed with Julian Assange…
Eris was provisionally named Xenia after the famous TV warrior princess, played by Lucy Lawless no less! It was known that Mike Brown the discoverer wanted to call her Persephone, but an asteroid already took that name. Eris retains Persephone characteristics though, being the Queen of the Underworld/Darkness/Night and that fact that her orbit is very Persephone like.
Eris’s orbit is tilted and elliptical, where all the other planets are on a level plane with each other as you can see in the diagram. She appears to spend half of the time above the plane and the half the time below, just like Persephone divided her time equally between the earth and the underworld. Eris is certainly eccentric, her orbit veers way out past the Kuiper belt, but comes in as far as Neptune The orbital period is achingly slow, 557 years around the Sun.
Eris Discovery Chart
Eris was discovered at 11.20am in January 5th 2005. The chart makes a bolshy and brash first impression with a T square involving the Sun opposite Black Moon Lilith. This is an aspect shared with Prince William; I wrote “Lilith is the intuitive right-brain thinking, counter to our patriarchal society. So there can be an inner battle, which is then projected onto “Boogie men” in the outside world.”
Well Eris herself is often the Boogie man so it’s interesting she has this described in her own chart. The planet Eris herself in that chart is in the first house Alderamin as the rising star on Cepheus the king. “It gives authority and a sober mind, sometimes making its natives judges or arbitrators, but exposes to cruel and severe trials.” Sun square Jupiter shows taking the law into ones own hands and indeed lawlessness! (Eris’s daughter and Moon is Dysnomia meaning lawlessness).
The next standout feature is the stellium of Venus/Mercury/Pluto in the pioneering, philosophical but most of all judgemental 9th house. Venus conjunct Pluto is often referred to as the Persephone aspect. This Stellium bears down on Saturn lurking in the underworld of the chart along with Lilith. In fact if we put true Lilith (at 29º 47’ Cancer) there also, the Lilith corridor would encapsulate Saturn. The patriarch sandwiched between two Liliths? That’s quite the kinky S & M quincunx there with Saturn and his restraints… The Persephone cluster happens to fall on the stinger in Scorpios tail. If this woman is raped either physically or mentally, we can expect high octane revenge. Eris does not turn the other cheek.
The energy fuelling the whole chart comes from the Sun on Vega, the beautiful Sapphire coloured star in the Lyre. You get mixed fortunes with this constellation, it is said to give fame, good living, but also the debauched life of a bohemian artist because of its strong Venus/Mercury influence. Robson however gives Vega quite a miserable fate when conjunct the Sun..”Critical, abrupt, reserved, unpopular, fleeting honors, influential position, insincere friends. “
We can see she is critical and judgemental from her Sun square Jupiter. Eris’s words can have a devastating effect because of her Mercury on Lesath. This Goddess can issue an potent curse from her blood red lips. Lesath was one of the stars I classed as psychotic in my post about psychopaths. To make things even darker, Mercury conjunct Pluto is a deeply probing and obsessive mind, very much the spy, but also the stalker.
Eris is gifted at relentlessly digging until she unearths the demons, and when she does she won’t rest until they are well and truly exorcised. Vega is not just the Lyre but is often depicted as being a Vulture grasping the Lyre. This adds more associations with death and the underworld. After studying Vega I found that “Science seems to be stronger here perhaps because the Sun combined with the Mercurial nature of the star itself seems to bring out the intellectual, logical side of the Lyre. Music after all is very mathematical and structured. The musician grasping the instrument is rather like the claws of the vulture grabbing it’s prey. “ There is a side to Eris that is very predatory. But the scientific ability here is part of the Eris generation’s challenge to merge science with mysticism, right brain with left.
Eris & The Shadow
Her Moon is on Mimosa in Crux, the crucifix. Again Eris has it tough as the constellation is said to give trails, burdens and heavy responsibilities such as the proverbial cross on ones back. But it sits well with the rest of the chart giving an
“Inventive mind, intuition and wisdom, a grasp for the inner nature of one’s fellow man. The gift of successful investigation of the hidden side of things. A deeply religious nature connected with mystical and theosophical interests.” Mimosa comes from the Latin “Mimic”, which I think gives Eris more of that court jester quality that is missing from Pluto or Lilith.
Moon conjunct Ceres is interesting, a powerful witch in the occult 8th house of the underworld itself, or the domineering, smothering mother? More Persephone symbolism and karmic parental ties. For Moon conjunct Ceres I wrote she:
“is super-mum, the ultimate in matriarchs, the Queen of Pentacles and the Empress archetype. This does not necessarily mean he or she is particularly maternal. Ceres does have a shadow side however, as Ceres/Demeter who mourned her daughter Persephone’s abduction. So there is some sorrow attached to this aspect since the Moon is so sensitive to pain here. One may have experienced absence of the mother through death or through her being focused on earning her “pentacles”. There is a priestess/herbalist side to Ceres, so if she is not a hard core materialist then she could place a lot of her energies into healing the world.”
Mars is on Antares in the heart of the Scorpion. Generally this star is extreme, dramatic, tough, courageous and makes people daredevils. But with Mars it verges on utter foolhardiness (Again shades of the fool/jester) and because of its violent character, can lead to a violent death. Eris’s Mars is unaspected, so it is really like a loose canon, it is nothing but pure, unmitigated Mars energy and on Antares too. Wooo! That’s dynamite. That important 4th house Saturn is on Pollux, the “evil” twin. And again has a Martian nature. With the greater malefic Saturn Pollux gives “Bad temper, bitter, sarcastic, loss of arm or leg, loss of parents or trouble through step-parents, much help from a friend, lack of education.”
I would update Robson’s rather negative interpretation and say that because Pollux is a writers star, the “bitterness” might just be about broadcasting controversial topics that upset people. Nevertheless these unsavoury taboo topics (Ie: Incest or cancer) need to be brought out into the open for healing. Eris is frank and honest, but very often gagged (Saturn quincunx Mercury = restriction). It is interesting Eris’s IC is conjunct Mirzam in Canis major “ The Announcer” a star often found in many radio and TV broadcasters. Eris comes from a linage of whistle blowers it seems.
Eris As Persephone
We have touched on the trickster/magician archetype on our Eris journey and her DC is on Gienah in the Crow. This was regarded as a magical Behenian star in medieval astrology. (Eris’s Sun on Vega, also a Behenian star.) Now in partnerships this would tend to make her a magical, alchemical influence on her mate. Pluto was a rather ruthless and heartless ruler of the Underworld until he fell in love with Persephone. If you read the original Sumarian version of the very passionate love affair between Nergal and Ereshkigal, you will see how both transform and enlighten each other through sex.
“The idea implied in the myth that the Underworld can also be a place for love and passion side by side to justice and balance constitutes a living legacy still valid for our times..”
I have already written at length about Julian Assange and his Eris configuration. Off the top of my head there are a few celebrities with Eris strong in their chart. The late Steve Jobs had Moon conjunct Eris, as does Gaddafi. Angelina Jolie has Moon conjunct Eris. I think Eris’s discovery chart really does show a blend of the trickster/Magician, a great deal of Marsy stars and 9th house/Jupiter influence.
I also think Eris carries a lot of qualities of the Pluto/Uranus conjunction of the late 1960’s. The activist, the radical feminist, the bohemian artist and joker are all in there. To me Eris has a surreal, psychedelic circus mania about her. Punk crossed with Sgt Pepper, a carnival warrior, spray-can militant, vampire slaying, queen of chaotic fate that is Eris.
*UPDATE 2014. This article was originally written 3 years ago. Since then I have researched Eris a great deal, using her in client readings and seeing her strong connection with Lilith and Persephone themes. I included the very negative myths at the start of the article to show how Eris has been demonised and exiled much like Lilith. Recently I came across an article in the Astrological Journal in the UK which referenced this article, but only my accounts of the myths. It said that I painted a very negative picture of Eris which certainly is NOT my intention. I’m wondering if Sue Kientz (who wrote the article) actually read the whole of this post. Check out the link to the Julian Assange post above for a fuller picture of the Eris effect. Here is also an updated article on Eris “Dark Goddess as Ruler” written back in 2011 where I proposed Eris should be the modern ruler of Libra (I still use the traditional rulers in practise, but modern rulership is important symbolically to help us understand the outer planet more). Why would I connect Eris to fair-minded and beautiful Libra if I thought she was monstrous? Kientz actually proposes that Eris should be c0-ruler of Libra also, since she says Eris represents “Other”. To me Eris is the exiled and outsider, so we are sort of saying the same thing. I am currently exploring Eris’s relation to ADHD, autistic spectrum and the so-called Indigo children.
Find Eris in Your Chart
1. Create your chart HERE.
2. Choose “Extended Chart Selection”.
3. Select Eris in the “Additional objects” box.