by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Eris Discordant: Mastering Our Own Weakest Moments

 Hubble captures us a glipse of distant dwarf planet
Eris (center) and Eris' moon Dysnomia (left)
(photo credit: NASA, JPL, Caltech)

Discovered January 5, 2005, dwarf planet Eris is just one of thousands of KBOs (Kuiper Belt Objects), all of which are collectively also known as TNOs - Trans Neptunian Objects - for the simple reason that the Kuiper Belt lies beyond Neptune.

Of all such objects, Pluto is probably the best known - though it certainly isn't the biggest.

Which is....(as one might  say in fairy tales)...the largest of them all?

Why, Eris, of course. Dwarf planet Eris. The reason Pluto seems so familiar (and certainly more familiar to us than Eris) is simply about time: Pluto was discovered in 1930 and Eris was only discovered in 2005 by the team of Craig Trujillo, David Rabinowitz and Michael Brown of Caltech.

We've had a lot more time to get used to Pluto - not to mention the fact that when Pluto was originally discovered it was given 'full planetary status,' an honor which got everyone's attention.

Like Pluto, Eris is an object which in orbiting beyond Neptune, astrologically refers to something we don't deal with or encounter all that often. But that's pretty much where the metaphysical likeness ends. For one, Pluto's orbit crosses inside that of Neptune every now and again, marking Pluto as part of our ongoing life - something we may not control but which we at least have a decent concept of. We may not love everything Plutonic as such events and periods are generally potently transformative and emotional.

But at least Pluto's effects tend to feel 'normal' in the sense that they're part of human life whether we like them or not...which isn't true when it comes to dwarf planet Eris.

Known as Discordia to the Romans, Eris symbolizes energy which exists seemingly simply to disrupt ongoing patterns, thereby getting us to see things we never before suspected. Yes, Uranus symbolizes change in all it's newness and discovery modes. But Uranian 'breakthroughs' and the 'breaking out' of the old patterns Uranus is associated with are something we comprehend.

We don't control it, but we comprehend the driving forces behind Uranian outbursts and disruptions.

Not so with Eris. Eris is literally beyond all that, apart from that and emblematic of all which strikes us, seizing us in some compelling notion which is foreign to our daily life.

Or at least it feels that way. Arising from the unknown and the deep, dark, unbidden sectors of our psyche, Eris Effects test our ability to deal with the unknown. Or the  uncontrolled facets of our world. Or the untamed and  unpredictable parts of our psyche.

That which Eris tends to trigger or provoke in us doesn't tend to be so very gentle. And yet...if E=mc2 is true, everything is contiguous - and that would mean that the metaphysics of unbeknownst to us, the universe is unfolding as it should includes that which isn't gentle, which may be shocking, astonishing, alarming or even truly despicable is really meant to be there.

Meaning, it all could have a positive use.

Yet let's be real here...the Greeks didn't think of Eris as all that pleasant. Discordia isn't comfortable and sometimes living through a period when Discord (Eris) seems to rule our life can be incredibly awful...which is probably why the most well-known of all the Eris tales is of the 'you're damned if you do and damned if you don't' sort.

It starts with a wedding - a joining which is reality is between people and which metaphysically is between influences. Or ideas. Or efforts. Or needs. 

But someone forgetting to invite Eris to this wedding - which in human terms is rather like our trying to take a next step in life or create something new without making any changes.

That doesn't tend to work. In fact, it often backfires. As for the unforgivably lax entity in the story was...that, we don't know - though we could hope it was at least one of the immortals instead of some poor human schlub who could (in classic Greek style) simply get turned into a self-poisoning toad with a fondness for toadies by the irate Discordia.

Of course...having any error committed by an immortal could be a sign of worse. Greeks never thought of their gods as infallible in the monotheistic sense - their gods had all the same foibles and petty problems as humans, (which may be more realistic than what came after, especially if one wants to say mankind was created in the image of mankind's Maker). That the idea of divinity equals infallibility has grown more emphatic over the past several thousand years makes astrological sense as we've been in the Age of Pisces - with the two fish of Pisces being headed in opposite directions being the image of all sorts of dichotomies: rich versus poor, male versus female, the divine versus the mortal.

And now we're moving into the Aquarian Age, an age which acknowledges none of that.

As for who left Eris off the guest list, considering that eternity is a really long time to suffer Olympian grudges, maybe we should hope the offense was committed by a human who could simply die and forget - which according to the Greeks is what we do.

Back at the wedding, despite the lack of invitation, Eris shows up - which yes, is properly Discordant and a sign that we can't exclude Discord. Discord (Eris) will become evident wherever Discord (Eris) sees fit - as will the facts or issues which the astrological Eris raises.

They come without warning. They're nothing we were anticipating. Here we were having this nice little marriage of thoughts or feelings in our cozy little world...and then a note of (Eris) Discord shows up.

And lest we miss this subtext: nothing tempts Discord like a lack of options.

 Thetis and Zeus by A. Loshenko

As for the marriage the wedding is all about, that was between Peleus (a mortal) and Thetis, an immortal water goddess mostly known as the mother of Achilles, he of  shining helm and deadly skills. So yes, this story of Eris is the mythic version (or at least one of them) about how mankind arrived at the ten-year Trojan War, war being about as discordant as it gets.

Not to mention one literally seeded by a questionable marriage. Though well known as a hero, groom Peleus was known for anger, jealousy and a taste for committing murder.

So why was Thetis marrying him?

As the daughter of a primordial sea god, Thetis' presence here says much about the 'marriages' between that which is born of 'deep' (primordial) emotions (many of which we aren't even generally aren't aware of) and our very mortal nature.

Into all this comes Eris, who shows up not quite empty handed. And what does Eris bring as a token of her discordant regard with respect to this occasion?

An apple.

Specifically, one labeled "for the fairest."

 The simple apple...throughout history, accused of being an endless
source of trouble even though it's also been proven to be a healthy
source of fiber and much nutritious goodness. That contradiction
is very similar to the energies of Eris as Eris tends to manifest through
trying circumstances which ultimately lead us to unsuspected truths
about life - and about the life we're leading.
(photo by Abhijit Tembhekar) 

However...Eris doesn't give the apple to the bride. And here we can give Thetis some credit, as evidently she knew not to pull the bridezilla thing and insist on being the fairest just because it was her wedding.

Maybe she had a premonition of Cinderella problems yet to come?

Maybe. But perhaps Thetis just knew Eris (Olympians do get around) and figured any apple being handed out by Discordia had to be the proverbial bad apple.

The parallel here to the Adam and Eve story being obvious, it's probably sensible to consider that the biblical image of an apple was as the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, lending to this story the aura of what it costs when we choose to learn too much about things one perhaps just better off not knowing.

Or is that the cost of refusing to know? With Eris, as with all astrological points, the sword can cut both ways. A knife can kill, yes. But in the hands of a surgeon, a knife can cure.

It's all about how you use something - and that's what knowledge is for.

So Eris walks right past bride Thetis (who probably took a moment to thank her Olympian stars) and in her finest and most mythic Greek mythic fashion declared the open question:

Who is the fairest? Who should get Discord's apple?

Standing before Eris was a trio of goddesses, each of which might deserve this truly fruitful gift. The first was Venus (Aphrodite)...and if 'the fairest' was a reference to the treasure which is physical existence, physical beauty, physicality and all things tangible (the astrological earth signs), then the apple should go to Venus.

But maybe the 'fairest' - the most beautiful thing we can ever have in life is the nurturance and guidance of our parents and family, the emotional security which grows in us the ability to build a quality life? That being the drive of astrological water signs, if that's the thing to be most valued then the apple should go to the second goddess present: Juno (Hera), consort of Zeus/Jupiter and goddess of all which humanely provides protection for our needs most human.

Or maybe 'fairest' was a reference to a balanced mind and the ability to be fair? Reflective of astrology's air sign principle, if this is the quality to be treasured and prioritized, then Eris' apple should be given to Athena, goddess of dispassionate wisdom, impartial justice and clear-seeing logic.

But is this just a matter of essence - that which we refer to in astrology as 'elemental'? Maybe we should think of this choice as one between quadruplicities - the zodiac broken down in three stages representing the orientation of our efforts?

The first four signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer) are all about the Self. Is life about what our Venus potential and what the Self we are is, does and has?

Or is life about who whether or not we are able to embrace who we are in the many Leo-Virgo-Libra-Scorpio interactions which embody the Juno/Hera 'give and take' principle required in building a life which is functional and supportive?

Or maybe our life isn't 'about' our individuality, but how what our individual self can contribute to the whole? If so, then 'the fairest' perspective of all would like as not be that of the last zodiac four signs (Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces), all of which require us to work from the greater global (Pallas Athena) perspective?
And more to the point, who did Eris give her apple to?

Answer: none of the above.

Instead of put her apple in the hands of a goddess, Eris instead places her token of Discord in the hand of a human being - the mythic way of saying that to be human involves dealing with D/discord.

Oh yes...and because she puts the apple in 'human hands' that's both a reference to what is within our 'grasp' and all things Gemini - our mentality, our thinking, what we say (or don't say)...the daily doings, our choices and so on.

So now the apple of Discord is in human hands.  What could go wrong?

Plenty. After all, the human Eris places her "fairest fruit" into the hands of is none other than Paris of Troy, younger sibling to Hector and a prince with a bit of an inferiority problem (okay, more than a bit).

 Paris by Anthonis van Dyck (c.1628)

Through this choice we see how Eris (and discord) functions not through our defined strengths but through whatever we are confused about and wherever we are under-developed in life.

And if you know the rest of Paris' story - how his choices brought down everything he thought he had believed in, that tells the rest of the story. Eris is discordant in that its energetics forces us to release old notions and ways of doing things in favor of essential preservation of what it means to be human. It's manifestations either send us scrambling for information or put us in a position to proceed on Neptunian faith.

Maybe more importantly, we can either be the object of discord or the one who embodies Eris. Wherever we find Eris in the natal chart we know there is both a sense of weakness, a huge potential for learning and with that, the challenge to deal with others through...and in terms of what we learn.

In other words, we can be Discordia and through that create a new status quo by disrupting that which is too narrow or self-serving...or we can live a life discordant and be periodically displaced as a means by which we learn.

It's a choice. Our choice.

Astrologically there are a few other useful things to know about this particular Plutino, starting with the concept that dwarf planet Eris' 557 year orbit interfaces with two cycles in particular: that of Earth's lunar nodes and (on a close-to-exact basis) our Moon's anomalistic month -  that being the length of time it takes for Earth's moon to move from one month's closest approach to Earth (its perigee) to the next.

And why would we care about such things?

As pertains to the lunar nodes, the nodes represent 'intersections' and the process of intersecting. As nodal functions become active, our lives invariably manifest as matters having to do with how we interface with or approach others (and society) on a personal or business basis.

That intersecting changes our status quo. We may think it useful or not useful - that's not the question. Where the nodes are considered, there's a far distant Eris echo which changes relationships and how or why we relate to any person, place or thing.

Eris doesn't have to be catastrophic. When transited in our personal chart yes, changes tend to take a bit more effort or adjustment. But otherwise, at some level Eris represents all that which is unexpected, and to the extent that we react, Eris thus becomes a tool by which we experience our very weakest moments, whatever they may mean.  

This same thought applies to the anomalistic lunar month with one major difference: the perigee point - a point which has a different name in astrology.

Astrologers call it Black Moon Lilith. There are two forms of Lilith: Lilith the asteroid and Lilith the 'Black Moon.' Considering the Moon is our 'feeling light' and symbol of spiritual or personal enlightenment, the Black Moon is all we feel rejected by and everything about us which is rejected - especially by our Self.

That 'rejection' is the issue. Either form of Lilith tends to manifest in some sort of denial, so the variable harmonic which numerically fluxes in and out of focus with Eris can represent our desire to 'break away' from Self or our reality. Or it could represent discordant sorts of insights which lead us to discover that which we have denied...or maybe that moment when we 'discover' we're no longer willing/able to accept denial from people we know or society as a whole.

Eris is the disruptive part of change. Where Mars symbolizes volition, motivation or the act of initiation and Uranus represents the force which powers through limitations, Eris is the snap - the moment of disruption when it 'hits' us that what was is no longer true, and our world, our life, our consciousness is altered, and how we deal with that is written in our charts.

And yes, our hearts as well.

 Le Jugement de Paris (The Judgment of Paris)
by Carel van Savoyen

Currently transiting the third decanate of Aries (i.e., the last ten degrees of the sign, degrees 20-29) Eris is activating everything and about our interactions with the greater society and our need to understand who we are as an individual so we can do just that with a modicum (one hopes) of grace. Along the way we will be exposed to - and like as not appear to others as disruptive, elitist, an outsider, entirely exalted and utterly destitute...all at the same time.

This is a period of willfulness, one when we can either contribute or be selfish. It's a time when the world will critique or deny us totally in one minute then shower us with riches in a next. Whatever promotes our understanding of who we are and aren't individually and collectively, that's where the energy goes.

And this is where we're going to be until the year 2045.

Wherever Eris is in your chart marks an arena of great individual latitude which in affecting you will affect others and thus we are connected - even if through disconnection - to each other either symbiotically or as allies. Through those chart precepts we work to integrate our Self with our society, world and compatriots both in terms of what we share...and despite society's fractured factions.

The choice to do all that is ours...until it isn't ours, that is.

Eris has been gaining something of a reputation as a 'malefic' - a negative astrological influence. But that's not all Eris seems to be. Discordia is opportunity cloaked in challenge, a process which shows us what isn't true while revealing possibilities beyond our ego's eye.

We just haven't gotten there...yet.


Originally published May 2009 by Daykeeper Journal. Revised and updated January 2014 (B.Hart) - all rights reserved.



  1. I so appreciate your interpretation of Eris, Boots. It seems to me, also, that what she did was propose something that brought out the discord, and perhaps the worst, in those she was interacting with. SHE basically, was not discord: she just helped people see what was in themselves that is/was discordant to a balanced, useful life? In exposing to them and the world what was really in them/us and what the"world is really like," there were/are tons of "growth opportunities" as we/they learn personally, And then there are witnesses, such as we, those who witness even thousands of years later, who observe and learn if we want to.

  2. Hi Lea...I totally agree with your concept of how discord (or Discordia as in dwarf planet Eris) works. What I might noodle with as a concept is just the idea of how Greek gods manifest - certainly as astrological symbols. There is a lot to be said for the idea that a lot of polytheism (many gods as a pantheon) as monotheism 'in facets' - which as astrology uses such figures (and their myths) makes sense as celestial objects apparently function as the separate 'wavelength' functions of our various attributes - and how they are prompted or made manifest - all of which combine and endlessly recombine throughout time.

    One of the truly interesting exercises to do using astrology is to look back at history utilizing specific astrological cycles, such as Eris' 557-year orbit, to see how things repeat...and yet are different since other objects (Pluto, Sedna, etc.) will be in different positions each time Eris comes around.

    1. Thanks for your response, Boots. I really appreciate hearing your viewpoint and experiences as someone who has been skillfully working with these energies. These energies which are part of us, and the world and the universe. Since I first hear about Eris, maybe a year or a little more ago, I have been intrigued.My thinking about Eris has been, Why is "she" cast in so negative a light? All "she" did was present a choice that exposed the "discord" and negativity in her peers and lack of clear thinking (Paris)--to bring to the light what was in them, So why is Eris getting the "bad personality" rap. I am antropomorphizing too much perhaps.. Perhaps it is because I have some,( I have learned,) really "difficult"t points in my chart. I would say, yes, that sounds like me. But as I have lived through my life/astrology, I have almost HAD to find the "up side"to everything--or it (my life) would have been too meaningless for me to swallow. So I have thought there has to be an "up side" to this thing called Eris. I have been totally intrigued and gratified as I have read this article and another you have written about this little ball of unique Energy. Because I was struck by reading something (one of the Greek writers) that talked about Eris loving war, but also being on the battle field with care for the soldiers. So what is that about?. My Eris is at 21 Aries. This is probably her coming out from me right now as I sit her typing. LOL.
      Thanks for listening, for responding to my thoughts, and now,thanks for giving me the opportunity to give my self a good "good night" laugh.
      Best of all starshine to you .

    2. I'm all for those 'good night laughs,' Lea...I have a whole little list of things I do late in the evening to move myself out of the eternal work mode, too. (I have a theory that Sisyphus was one of my ancestors and I got willed the giant rock.)

      I also agree with your notion that all points must have a positive and negative. A hundred years ago Saturn was often written about as a total malefic - the 'bad guy' of the astrological symbols, if you will. But that was just a school of thought at a time (speaking of looking back at cycles) which was in itself terribly one-track...which in some ways is the antithesis of where we are now in a world where there seem to be an endless myriad of choices. And I'd just go with 'it's always something, isn't it?' except for the fact that at some strange level the stringent one track is very much like the high level of indecision and dissipation we see today simply in the sense that there would seem to be some sort of lack of balance.

      On the theoretical level, Eris says we can tackle the bigger problem or be given one. But as I think that through, that too strikes me as an equality since either way the benefit - ultimately - can be ours. Does that mean the whole issue with Eris is how we approach these energies - through either the Juno, Athena or Aphrodite approach (as outlined above)? Maybe so...and just MAYBE (maybe, maybe, maybe...) if we get too rooted in one of those 'choices,' then perhaps the Eridian energy becomes that which periodically forces us to flex in a different direction or perhaps react differently - using different 'mental muscles.'

      I have no issue with the idea of taking 'up' side each and every time there's a choice so long as such a choice isn't made simply on the basis of what's easy - and I say that not as a 'judgement' (personal, that is) but in the sense that Eris appears to come along and challenge will it be us because we're taking that easy path...? Or will we be the person embodying the Eris energy and causing a little discord in such a manner that We are challenged at the same time that we are challenging others or the system or some idea or some plight which needs attending to?

      As for the star favorite part of star shine is the fact that energy is never lost. The starshine you send me I can then send on its way through time and has come to each of us to serve its blessing in the moment - and for all time.


  3. ;)
    Yes to all your words and thoughts.
    I am flying to Tucson today for my dad's memorial service
    Do' vy jenya

  4. Inlakech (IN'LA'KECH) ancient Mayan term used as a greeting between the kings and high priests which in Mayan terms expressed the contiguous nature of existence - and therefore, how in meeting up with someone else we are encountering an aspect of our Self.

    May your travels be safe and your relationship with your father be now - at least relatively - at peace.

    Blessed be, Lea.