by Boots Hart, CAP

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Medea: A Perspective on Priorities

Jason and Medea by Gustave Moreau (1865, oil on canvas, Musee d'Orsay, France)

Asteroid Medea entered Scorpio back on November 8, 2012. It conjuncted 11 Scorpio – the degree of this November’s solar eclipse, back on December 13, 2012.

By March 29th of 2013, it had moved all the way through Scorpio to 29 degrees of that sign, which put it into conjunction with fixed star Toliman, a star which in representing the foot of a centaur (which for various reasons is presumed to be Chiron). And that Medea went retrograde in that degree spoke eloquently to a process of pursuing things we love or need to learn to love… which could also be about learning how to love things we need to love. Or even learning that something we think we love isn’t all that good for us – or workable in real life.

Medea is the premise of ‘loving to the point of self-undoing.’ But since all astrological points should have both a positive and negative aspect, Medea should not only indicate where or how we are likely to undermine our best interests – or even our goals – but the process by which we can ‘undo’ our inclination or obsessions or simply our having gotten off track so that we can pursue that which will be rewarding.

The difference here is likely to be rather primal. After all, the story of Medea is about a sorceress who falls in love with a hero on a mission. Medea ‘does all’ for him and in the end loses her mind such that she kills her own children – the children she had with this man – because she is so very much overcome by the failure of their relationship.

The man is Jason – he of golden fleece fame, which tangentially brings up the whole idea of being ‘fleeced’ …in this case by our own desires, reactions and our yearning to have something we so think we need to have…or perhaps simply need to want to have.

The mythic Medea is the granddaughter of Helios – the god of the Sun, as opposed to Apollo, who is the god of enlightenment. In being THE Sun, Helios translates astrologically into the energy of existence and the consciousness of life – in particular (in our chart) our life.

Added to the Helios quality is the idea that Medea’s cousin in Circe – the sorceress encountered by Odysseus (aka Ulysses) on his rather circuitous trip home in the wake of that interminable Trojan War. Where Circe was all about turning men into animals so as to serve her at her leisure (and one assumes, to be occasionally served up as supper), Medea is more about ‘the relationship’ or the ability to have an manage our relationships, rather than the evocative (Circe-like) drives which in all of life push us in one direction or another.

Helios as the Personification of Midday
by Anton Raphael Mengs (c. 1765)
The temptation here (which yes, would be the word even when we’re talking about sorceresses) is to personify these attributes. Yet while it may well be true that we know people who either embody these energies or who embody them for us, the reality of any main belt asteroid (and yes, Medea is a main belt asteroid) is that this is one of many thousands of factors we will meet up with in life and which are about us…and about things we need to understand about the nature of being human.

In terms of orbit, asteroid Medea’s innermost point (its perihelion) is at 2.762 AU – meaning it’s just under three times as far away from the Sun as the Earth is. Probably the most important thing to understand in that sense is not so how far from Earth or the Sun Medea is, but where Medea fits in as part of the asteroid belt.

The astronomical asteroid belt occupies that space between the orbit of Mars and the orbit of Jupiter – which in astrological terms defines it as all that ‘stuff’ which lies between our ‘personal world’ and the ‘worldly world.’ We can either take that as our day-to-day life…in which case the fact that the Jupiter/Saturn ‘grouping’ beyond the asteroid belt becomes the greater growth of our life or our maturation as a person….OR we can take this all more in the sense of the astrological concept of the inner planets (Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars plus Earth’s satellite Moon) being our native mentality and habits and all that…and all that we meet up with on our way to becoming that which we can be or become – or learn how to master.

Mars’ aphelion (the outer range of its orbit) is at 1.665 AU. Jupiter’s inner range of its orbit (its perihelion) is at 4.95 AU. So that ‘gap’ between the inner planets and the next planetary ‘rung’ out is about 3.5 AU wide…which is to say, about three times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

That’s a pretty big space. And there are literally thousands upon thousands of asteroids out there – most of which haven’t even been named yet.

In any case, seeing that Medea’s inner orbital distance (it’s perihelion) is at 2.788 AU, that’s about half way through the asteroid pack. So Medea is something we would meet up as we get ‘to the thick of things’…and thus it’s fairly easy to see (thinking of the myth) how the minus of Medea would be over-focus and the plus of Medea would be the seeing where or how we’re over-focused, perhaps to our detriment.

Medea’s aphelion – the farthest it gets from the Sun – is at 3.446 AU…which in astronomical terms is not all that far from Jupiter’s innermost orbital point, especially when we consider that Jupiter is the second largest object in our solar system, next to the Sun.

Jupiter has pull, in other words.

So Medea should be an object or a process through which we become wiser. Or at least more knowing or knowledgeable. Whether that happens the nice way or the devastating way, however? That’s up to us.

At the moment, Medea is roughly 4.0 AU from Earth and 3.42 AU from the Sun – which considering how it may seem that the Sun should be farther away really only makes sense when we look at an orbital diagram:

Image courtesy of the JPL Small Body Database
Medea is also on the way ‘in’ – which is to say, Medea is now in the process of moving from the Jupiter end of its orbit towards the Mars end of its orbit. So we’ve reached one point of cumulative ‘learning’ – particularly in ‘worldly’ terms, and now we’re moving through a phase which is about some lesson (or lessons) about our Self.

Medea reached that Jupiterian ‘learning’ point during the period between May 3rd and June 17th…which for you may have represented a point of intensity in some relationship – a point when you realized something about relationships (and the process of relating) or when you were just wicked over-focused on something or someone.

Or maybe all of the above.

All this goes back to where Medea is in your personal (natal) chart as much as it speaks to the cycles which life leads us through. But as far as that goes, it’s interesting to note that Medea’s ‘close approach’ data dates – and this would be its closest approaches to Jupiter, generator of educational energetics – occur in pairs separated by about a decade. In other words, there was a ‘close approach’ to Jupiter in June of 1937 and again in August of 1947, and then there wasn’t a ‘close approach’ (this is in astronomical terms, remember) until February 2009, an approach which will be echoed in April of 2019.

After that we move to the years 2080 and 2090, so let’s just lay that aside for now, shall we? But since in astrology we do tend to learn as much by looking back at known history as by any other means (we call this “research”…!), in June of 1937 (which would be leading into WW2, the golden age of the movie business and much else) Medea and Jupiter were in late Capricorn – which makes sense when we think of business or nations and national affairs, as both items are Capricorn in nature. By April of 1947 the world was trying to pick up the pieces in the wake of WW2, and both Jupiter and Medea were in late Scorpio.


For the detail mongers among us, this time Jupiter was conjunct Toliman but Medea hadn’t quite gotten there yet. But the Scorpio theme – the reclamation, the economics, the need to negotiate, the need for healing and caring for the injured – that seems to echo rather clearly, both on a national, international and personal level. The eclipses of 1947 were in sync where we are now – not by exact degree, but by sign. November 1947 saw an eclipse at 19 Scorpio with Chiron conjunct…there was a lot which needed doing which could not be learned except by doing it, and one presumes the process of the eclipse made that terribly evident amidst much angst and struggle.

February 2009’s Medea/Jupiter approach had Medea, Juno, the North Node and Jupiter all conjunct at 9 Aquarius, a degree which is successful when treated with in a philosophical manner which in being more or less ‘agnostic’ doesn’t rely on previous tenets. The Sabian Symbol for this degree fits rather fascinatingly with the time – which if you remember was all about the global economic collapse with one side of the discussion calling for seeing things in a new way from a global and more ‘scientific’ or ‘dispassionate’ manner while the other side was rooted in long held traditions and positions, come what may.

 Jupiter as photographed by NASA

The Sabian Symbol for 9 Aquarius goes like this: A MAN WHO HAD FOR A TIME BECOME THE EMBODIMENT OF A POPULAR IDEAL IS MADE TO REALIZE THAT AS A PERSON HE IS NOT THIS IDEAL. The keynote is ‘The need to deal with human beings as persons rather than as screens upon which one projects one’s dream and ideal.’

And that’s the keynote for this phase of Medea growth. From that place Medea is now moving back towards Mars – the astrological ‘how and what motivates us to do things’ point. And when that point is reached in April of 2019, Jupiter and Medea will be in late Sagittarius.

Which with the exception of needing to say that Medea’s orbital period is 5.5 years in length, brings me back to what’s been going on of late.

Having gone retrograde at 29 Scorpio in conjunction with Toliman back at the end of March 2013, Medea began the process of forcing us to grapple with what we don’t know (yet) about ourselves…and maybe about how we trip ourselves up…and how we can undo our prior errors, particularly those which are based on (or in) some obsessive attitude, regard or habit. Being that this is Scorpio we are talking about, both our desires and our fears are front and center – as would be our ability to find the right people with whim to form alliances and our ability to negotiate the process of creating and maintaining those alliances (aka relationships).

Medea went direct again late on July 8, 2013. And when it went direct, it did so after a good month and a half (plus) of having played footsie with the North Node, implying that we ‘had to do’ something in order to maintain our life progress, but that we were probably being tugged in other directions at the same time.

Metaphysically, the point would be the experience of this confluence and what we learned about ourselves – for good and for uncomfortable (even disquieting) as we realized our propensity to grow ourselves in one direction while perhaps short changing our growth in another.

And that is a lesson about priorities. Having gone direct at 16 Scorpio, our questions would have pitted some measure of personally desired aims against universal dynamics and the problems we get into by aligning ourselves with one ‘group’ or another without sufficient perspective on the group (or perhaps the members of that group with which we are interacting) to know what we’re getting into. There is a reference to ‘tumors’ and aberrations of growth (at either end of the scale) which can be literal or figurative, depending on how you’re inclined – and yes, depending on where 16 Scorpio falls in your natal (and solar) chart, especially in terms of how that affects your natal Medea (which in case you need to know is IAU asteroid number 212).

The Sabian Symbol here is again an interesting one (aren’t they all when we put them in use and perspective?) in that it images A WOMAN, FECUNDATED BY HER OWN SPIRIT, IS “GREAT WITH CHILD.” The key here is ‘by her own spirit,’ which plainly removes this image from the realm of the sexual or familial and places it in the realm of someone – or our ability – to handle creative energies within our Self, and to what end we do that.

And that is very, very much akin to Medea, in that the energetic may be about wanting what one wants…or the energetic may be about what we have to give to others.

So…how to know which would have been which back there at the end of May?

Probably the better judgment calls have to do with the degree or number of finite ‘dictates’ are involved. At its best, Scorpio is about supporting growth through measured guidance. At its worst, Scorpio says ‘do it my way OR ELSE.’ There are instances where Scorpio interactions will have someone bow out of the transaction because they cannot adhere to obligations, and in this instance the question is whether they are doing so for emotional reasons, or because they have considered the parameters and are making a calm choice because of understood priorities.

Again, it’s all about priorities...which is another way of referring to how we make our choices...which is, of course, the heart of the Gemini concept and thus in a greater sense, about our relationship to the Gemini/Sagittarius polarity.

In other words, how we go about making choices in the general sense, and how we prioritize what we do, with all that feeding into whether we carry through on things or abandon them midstream (in other words, how flaky are we?) and whether we understand the ultimate importance to us and to our world (that being the Sagittarian side of the polarity) as we make our choices...which in common parlance is  another way of saying 'how shallow are we?'...particularly as that applies to our ability to choose quality over quantity or something which means something to US versus what it 'looks like' to others.

Medea entered Sagittarius late on September 30st (except for those who live in time zones more than an hour ease of UT/+0, where it would have been already been October 1st). That not only puts us now in the sign of the next Jupiter/Medea ‘close-approach’ (and just over one orbital cycle away) but in position to be experiencing things which ask us whether we know the difference between the obsession which undermines us and the opportunity which, in helping us escape that which doesn’t work, allows us to grow into our Self.

Medea is not precisely about freedom. But then, not every human wants to be free about everything, or in every moment of their life. We all like to feel secure and to some sense secured. We all like knowing there’s someone to turn to and someone we can confide in.

There’s an old expression which seems rather apt here…the freedom to go is at least as important as the freedom to stay. It is the journey from obsession and reactivity to that of choice which seems important here – and which ultimately saves us from our potential for human tragedy.

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