Intro to Asteroids
The language of astrology is as varied as the astrologer and the culture that surrounds her.
Originally populated with just the planets of our solar system and naked-eye-visible stars, modern advances in imaging the heavens have expanded astrology’s vocabulary to include asteroids, which typically appear in the region between Mars and Jupiter.
Asteroids are named by their discoverer, with the final approval from the IAU, the International Astronomical Union, their governing body.
So far, 29,000 of 1.9 million asteroids in our solar system have been named. When these tiny rock chunks began to be revealed by enhanced telescope technologies in the early 1800s, the convention was to name them after figures from classical Greek and Roman myth, just like the planets.
But that well ran dry a long time ago, and astronomers reached out to pantheons from other cultures, as well as historical and pop culture figures. Eventually, asteroids even began to be named for ordinary people, (including family, friends, or coworkers of the discoverer); or generic first or surnames, such as Paul, Barbara, Smith and Jones. Countless asteroids even bear the names of everyday objects, like Beer, Petunia, or Kitty.
Interpreting the patterns of asteroids in the horoscopes of people and other entities that are hot in headlines is astrologer Alex Miller’s specialty.
Time and time again, Miller demonstrates that when the celestial monikers line up with their terrestrial namesakes, the Above really does begin to look like the Below.
You may have noticed a spate of deaths among the rich and famous as 2022 drew to a close. People often talk about the “rule of three” when it comes to celebrities passing – when one has died, two more are sure to follow, in quick succession. Well, in astrology, there’s another saying – “as Above, so Below”, meaning that the ways in which celestial factors line up and interact with each other tends to be reflected in our earthly reality.
And in the final months of 2022 and the first month (correct?) of 2023, there has been a huge cosmic road sign warning us that we might expect a few of our leading lights to dim. I’m talking about an ongoing relationship between Jupiter, the planet resonating to fame and celebrity, and Osiris, an asteroid named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead. These two have been staring each other down across the zodiac since early November, and will continue to do so until March, prompting more than a few well-known luminaries to head for the nearest exit. And in late December, the Sun decided to join the party, forming a tense geometric pattern by splitting the difference between them, ramping up the pace and putting higher profile A-Team celebs into the spotlight.
Whatever your preconceived notions of astrology are, I’m going to ask you to suspend your disbelief (don’t worry, it won’t hurt!) for a few minutes and explore some recent examples of asteroid aptness vis-à-vis mortality, culled from the news. My main tool for astrologic specificity, as always, is asteroids, many of which have been given common first or surnames, and some of which have been named for famous individuals. There are some 29,000 named asteroids at this point, so we’ve got a lot to work with, and in the last? We are only in the beginning of 2023 three days of 2023, a triad of well-known personalities with names that match celestial bodies took the door marked “exit.”
We’ll start with the death of Brazilian pro footballer Pele, at one time the most widely known athlete on the planet. Unsurprisingly, Pele has an asteroid named for him, and at his passing on 30 December 2022, asteroid Pele formed an exact geometric relationship with another asteroid, Atropos, named for the mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death. That’s pretty specific, and pretty stark – Pele dies when his eponymous asteroid interacts with one related to death. Not a lot of creative wordplay or conceptual juggling required to make that connection, it’s very aboveboard. It’s not that the linkage caused his death – rather, it describes it. Astrology isn’t determinative, but it can help you play the odds.
But it needn’t be that focused on a particular individual. After all, most of us don’t have asteroids named specifically for us, but we all grapple with life circumstances. That’s where those more generally-named asteroids come in, ones which potentially affect anyone with that name.
At almost the same time as Pele left us, another death made global headlines, that of American news legend Barbara Walters, who passed away December 29th at her home in Manhattan. On that day, asteroid Walter (the closest to Walters, sometimes we need to be a little flexible with designations, but I promise we won’t go too far afield) was exactly conjunct Pluto, known as the modern planetary ruler of death. Again, a stunning connection between an asteroid representing an individual (or in this case, one of a group of individuals) and the theme of mortality, on the day one of them passes away. Did every Walter or Walters on the planet die that day? Of course not, but all would have experienced some form of intense Pluto connection, with that planet ranging in possible manifestations from literal death to transformative experience; criminal activity; issues with manipulation, coercion or control; rebirth and rejuvenation; sex or scandal; even bathroom issues like intestinal flu or a backed-up toilet, to name just a few factors in Pluto’s bailiwick.
But there’s a lot more to this story for Walters. Yes, the pairing of Walter and Pluto was exact, but it didn’t have to be. As long as bodies inhabit the same general region, they are considered to be active with each other, and other points which inhabit that same region can be seen as additional descriptors of the situation. In this case, close beside the primary pair, we see Mercury and Venus. As planetary energies, both bodies cover a lot of ground in meaning, but in simple terms, Venus represents women, and Mercury is the news. Here we have e two valuable components of the story, with Walters the premiere female journalist of her era.
There’s one more point involved in this grouping: asteroid Manhattan, which was named for the city where Walters died. Add that to the mix, and we have a celestial shorthand image of the death (Pluto) in the Big Apple (Manhattan) of a noted female (Venus) news personality (Mercury), of the name of Walter(s).
The third case in point is that of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who passed on December 31st. The retired pontiff had been living in seclusion for almost a decade since his renunciation of the Ring of the Fisherman in 2013, but the stars still tracked his story, right to its end.
There were multiple celestial indicators of Benedict’s death; born Joseph Ratzinger, we have a plethora of asteroids which can be used to represent him, in both his birth name and the name he chose as head of the Catholic Church. There is no exact asteroid match for Joseph in English, but foreign language equivalents include Jose (Spanish), Josefa (Spanish feminine version), Josephine (English feminine variant) and Giuseppina (Italian feminine version), as well as an asteroid Ratzinger and a Benedix, closest to Benedict. There’s also an asteroid named Old Joe, which, at age 95, is probably an apt descriptor of the former Pope.
Incredibly, all were active with death indicators when he passed. Asteroid Jose was hanging out with Pluto, as with Walters, and directly across the sky was asteroid Josephina, binding two forms of Benedict’s birth name with the modern lord of death. Asteroid Ratzinger was doing double duty, looking askance at a grouping of asteroids Vaticana (a nod to Benedict’s papal role and Vatican residence), Atropos (that deadly Fate we met earlier) and Giuseppina, all clustered together across the sky.
The remaining three referents were all at critical phases of their revolution about the Sun, apparently slowing to a standstill, about to reverse direction. These are called stations, and while the effect is actually an optical illusion (based on our perspective from Earth – nothing actually travels backwards in the heavens), these moments represent literal “turning points” for the individuals connected to them, when the body in question exerts a much greater influence than typically.
In this case Old Joe was at station, looking across the zodiac at asteroids Anubis (named for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites) and Requiem (named for the funeral mass for the dead). Asteroid Josefa was also stationary, staring down Saturn, the ancient lord of death, and asteroid Lachesis, Atropos’ sister Fate, who determines the span of life. Lastly, asteroid Benedix was also standing still, and looking directly at Neptune; while not a death indicator per se, Neptune does resonate to religion and spirituality, as well as the isolation and seclusion Benedict experienced in his final decade.
Of course, the cavalcade of dead celebrities didn’t stop on January 1st, but as the Sun moved past its connection to that primary polarity of Jupiter and Osiris, the pace slackened somewhat.
Most recently, the world was deprived of the musical stylings of singer/songwriter David Crosby, who joined the celestial choir on 18 January 2023. Crosby was a founding member of two popular and influential folk-rock bands of the 1960s, the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash. When he passed, asteroid Davida (the feminine equivalent, closest match to David) was just a few doors (degrees) away from an exact pairing of the Sun with Pluto, while asteroid Crosby was also in exact alignment with this dynamic duo. The Sun and Pluto were directly opposite from asteroid Singer, identifying Crosby’s role in life, with Davida also forming a tense geometric relationship with asteroid Rip, which functions as a death indicator in the form of the acronym RIP, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription.
As the Immortal Bard put it, “what’s in a name?” Well, as these examples show, if it’s your name, and it’s interacting with a celestial mortality factor, it could literally be life or death.
[Note for the astrologically inclined: the placements for the above article are as follows.
Pele: asteroid Pele 8 Scorpio exactly squared asteroid Atropos 8 Aquarius
Barbara Walters: asteroid Walter exactly conjunct Pluto 27 Capricorn, also conjunct asteroid Manhattan 18 Capricorn, Mercury 24 Capricorn, Venus 25 Capricorn
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: asteroid Jose 23 Capricorn conjunct Pluto 27 Capricorn; asteroid Josephina 24 Cancer opposed Pluto; asteroid Ratzinger 16 Leo opposed asteroids Vaticana 8 Aquarius, Atropos 10 Aquarius & Giuseppina 11 Aquarius; asteroid Old Joe 15 Taurus at station, opposed asteroids Anubis 19 Scorpio & Requiem 23 Scorpio; asteroid Josefa 26 Leo at station, opposed Saturn 22 Aquarius & asteroid Lachesis 23 Aquarius; asteroid Benedix 22 Virgo at station, opposed Neptune 22 Pisces
David Crosby: asteroid Davida 20 Capricorn conjunct Sun/Pluto conjunction 28 Capricorn, squared asteroid Rip 15 Libra; asteroid Singer 1 Leo opposed Sun/Pluto; asteroid Crosby 28 Pisces sextile Sun/Pluto]