The NEW MOON on August 23-24 is on the edge of VIRGO, so cuspy as to be SPHINX-like, joining the body of the Leo the Lion with the head of the Goddess. The interaction of the two signs is fleshed out further by the presence of Venus, Saturn and Mercury in Leo and Mars and the Black Moon in Virgo. The creative fire of Leo is put to use in Virgo. The emotional heart of Leo joins the analytical wisdom of Virgo.

The sign of the Goddess or High Priestess, Virgo is not so much rationally analytic as situationally analytic. Earth sign Virgo has a sensate interactiveness, a somatic intelligence that responds to surroundings. Virgo has the ability to apply appropriate methodology to the task at hand, often with great finesse. Virgo can be the most sensual sign when it tunes into that delicate physical attunement to texture, nuance and natural rhythms.

Virgo is one of the few female constellations in the modern sky – Andromeda and Cassiopeia being the others. Most of the planets have male gods behind their names as well. Just this past week, the cosmic feminine has brightened vibrantly in the collective consciousness with the upgrade of the asteroid CERES to planetary status—dwarf planet, but nevertheless….
This goddess of that gives her name to “cereal” oversees the functions of farming and feeding, child-tending and the cycles of separation, loss and reunion.

CERES was discovered on January 1, 1801 and was considered a planet for a few months before more bodies were discovered and the asteroid belt thickened up. Ceres remains the largest. Shall we now call it the fifth planet from the Sun? In its own discovery chart, the Sun was in earth sign Capricorn and Ceres was at 24 degrees Taurus. It also resonates with Virgo, the Virgin who is pictured holding grain, like Ceres. The glyph for Ceres looks like a shepherd’s staff. However, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia give options, one of which we use for the Black Moon Lilith. Is there some subtle connection? The Black Moon is in Virgo now, tuning us into Earth energies and the nuances of our bodies responses to them.

The restated planetary status of Ceres came about the week after its conjunction with Neptune on the Full Moon in Aquarius. She is making a mythic social and spiritual statement about the status of the cosmic feminine which reverberates on the Earth plane: As Above, So Below. Ceres conjunct Neptune may be the Dream of the Mother Goddess, then highlighted by the Moon.

Ceres is alive and well in Vermont, the Green Mountain State. A statue of Ceres, officially called Agriculture, stands atop the golden dome of the state capitol building in Montpelier. Vermont, the 14th state of the Union, is one of three states (that I know of) with ruling goddesses (Texas has a Statute of Liberty and Wisconsin has an unusual home-grown goddess named Wisconsin). Vermont’s Ceres holds a sheaf of grain and a scroll of laws. She has a crown with gold spikes that serve as lightning rods.

Vermont is known for its stunning fall foliage, maple syrup, its granite industry and dairy farming. You see the famous Vermont cows on Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cartons. In ratio of cows to people, Vermont has the greatest number of dairy cows in the country. Montpelier, the smallest state capital in the U.S., is also the only one without a McDonalds (though they tried). Vermont recently developed a state health insurance plan, one of only two states to take such an initiative (Massachusetts is the other). It makes the news in Vermont when a organic flower farm gets certified by the Vermont chapter of the Northeast Organic Farmer’s Association. The World, Central Vermont’s online newspaper, reports on “a growing list of small Vermont farms that are committed to a form of agriculture that is environmentally and economically sustainable.” Such farms now provide ten percent of the food for the citizens of the largest city, Burlington. Restaurants across the state are partnering with farmers. This state also passed the first bottle/can return law. There are no billboards on its scenic highways. Politics in Vermont are a whole story in themselves, historied with a President (Calvin Coolidge), a woman governor born in Switzerland (Madeleine Kunin), a socialist mayor turned Congressman (Bernie Sanders), Senators Patrick Leahy and Republican turned Independent Jim Jeffords – and, of course, Howard Dean.

You may know Ceres better as DEMETER, with a mythic history as mother of Persephone and mother-in-law of Pluto.

PLANET PLUTO has been reclassified as a dwarf planet as well, and so has its companion, CHARON (care-on). I don’t think Pluto minds this reclassification. Whatever we call it certainly won’t diminish its power. Astrologers are certainly not going to give up on it! It’s intriguing to think of a twin planet, rather like twin souls. Pluto and Charon—or should that second planet be renamed Persephone?– making this cosmic couple into the archetypal shiva-shakti planet. These two dance in the distant dark, keeping their same faces to each other, circling each other every six and a half days. Wherever your Pluto is, you now have Charon there as well. Charon, you may remember, is the ferryman that rows souls across the River Styx into Pluto’s underworld domain. The planetary pair has a pair of moons, tiny little things, only discovered in 2005.

The other body to be named a planet is UB313, discovered in 2003 and generally called Xena, TV’s gutsy female warrior-healer. Recently an orbiting moon showed up on our astro screen, which has been dubbed Gabrielle, after Xena’s TV sidekick. The names are not official yet, but the people have spoken.

Other planet-status contenders include Quaoar,Varuna and Sedna—such fascinating archetypes to incorporate into our lives.
Let’s take them in small doses—the Virgo way—and see how they work.

P.S. MARS is NOT going to be extra bright this year and NEVER gets as big as the full moon!

SPECIAL: Ceres Reading—add Ceres into your chart. $50 for 30 minutes.
Only for those who have already been introduced to their charts.

Dr. Kelley Hunter is a long-time astrologer and mythologist, writer and artist. She is Astrologer-in-Residence for the Self Centre International at Caneel Bay Resort and the Omega Institute programs in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, and also leads star gazing nights for star-struck visitors. She is a member of the Board of the International Society for Astrological Research. Explore her website at

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