Thoughts on the Dwarf
from Xena to Eris
By Elizabeth Morgan
© 2006 Elizabeth Morgan
In the course of the controversy over "demoting" Pluto from planet to dwarf planet, a few things slipped through the cracks in regard to the
general public. One of them is that UB313, formerly nicknamed "Xena" has been officially classified as a dwarf planet and renamed "Eris." Eris
lies beyond Pluto's orbit and takes approximately 100 years to move through one sign of the zodiac so astrologers are projecting that
Eris' main influence will be in the natal chart and as other planets aspect her rather than her own transits and progressions.
I haven't really had a chance to study Eris since it was officially named but one thing occurs to me that is a bit bothersome.
In case you're not familiar with Greek mythology, Eris was the Goddess of Strife and sister to Aries, God of War (who, in my opinion, got a bad
rap, but that's another story). Eris was the cause for the Trojan War because there was a big wedding (I forget whose) that the gods attended
-- except for Eris, who wasn't invited for fear she would stir up trouble. Understandably miffed, Eris plucked one of the golden apples
and tossed into the center of the celebration proclaiming it was "for the fairest." All the goddesses reached for it but eventually the others
bailed out except Aphrodite, Athena and Artemis. They demanded that Zeus pick who deserved it most. Zeus, either being wise or just not stupid
enough to get on the bad side of 2 out of 3 of them, said he couldn't choose. Instead, he randomly picked a human to do.
The human was supposed the humble sheep herder Paris, who was soon to find out he was the son of Priam, king of Troy. A prophecy at birth
predicted that Paris would destroy the kingdom so the baby was taken to the hills and left for dead, only to be found by a shepherd and raised.
The goddesses each offered Paris gifts if he picked them -- unerring skill with a bow and at hunting by Artemis, wisdom and a warrior's skill
by Athena, the love of the most beautiful human woman in the world by Aphrodite. Being a typical young man,
especially one who has mostly lived away from other people, he chose Aphrodite's gift and such began
the Trojan war because Helen was already married to Menaleus (spelling?), a Greek king and brother to King Agamemnon.
Now that you know the background, keep in mind that I'm a writer, I do metaphor and dream interpretation, and as a counselor I listen very
carefully to not just what clients say but how they say it. As a result, words, symbols and metaphors resonate very strongly with me.
While no one expected UB313 to keep its nickname of Xena, most astrologers I spoke to found it interesting that its nickname was taken
from a female warrior archetype and there was much initial conjecture that perhaps its energy would mirror the growth of strong female energy
that was not afraid to be assertive and take action. Obviously, history is filled with strong women, but many used their abilities behind the
scenes or subtly and diplomatically. Until the last few decades the general society pressure was for women to "get along" and not rock the
So now UB313 is officially a dwarf planet and dubbed "Eris" after the goddess of strife. I'm not an astrologer who views things in black or
white. Despite the ancients dubbing it "the great malefic" I find many positive qualities to Saturn and I also like Pluto. Still, it bothers me
that what could have been a strong positive female archetype is now -- at least on the surface -- being considered a troublemaker.
Yes, I know that we need to keep studying Eris' influence to really understand what she brings -- and it could be the chaos from which new
things are birthed or the discontent that brings positive change -- but names and symbols have power. Just as the numerologist side of my brain
knows that there are no accidents in what a child is named and the astrologer in me knows that no baby is born "early" or "late" in regard
to its chart, part of me can't help being a little disappointed that a more balanced, or at least less troubling, archetype wasn't chosen.
That said, we are in a period of strife around the world right now and in my heart of hearts, I believe it's like an infection coming to the
surface to be healed. We're being called to really examine what we believe, what we will support and what we want to change. Humans rarely
change until they become so unhappy with their present circumstances that they can't tolerate it any more.
Maybe that's the gift of Eris? Internal discontent that prods change? We will eventually see, but the idealist within me wishes we (because I
believe our global energies affect these decisions) had made a different choice.
BTW, for anyone who wants to look up the position for Eris in a natal chart can
go to the Eris ephemeris.
Keep in mind that the astrological community is still determining what Eris means, so don't panic. For most people,
Eris will fall in Aries because Eris moved to that sign May 1, 1923 and except for some retrogrades that pushed it back into Pisces, it has
stayed there and will remain in Aries past 2036 (the date the ephemeris is calculated to).