Those who have explored astrology beyond the entertaining Sun Sign forecasts know that the horoscope consists of several planets, not just the Sun. Each planet represents, in psychological terms, an archetype that describes a pattern of needs or motivations. While the Sun shows basic character traits and the drive to be an individual, the Moon provides a glimpse into emotional needs, especially for tribal or family connections. Mercury describes how one processes and communicates information, Venus (the Love Goddess) represents personal magnetism, and Mars is our Inner Warrior.
Traditional astrology uses ten planets, but of these only the Moon and Venus are feminine. The rest are masculine, an imbalance reflected in the patriarchal structure of civilization built over the last 5,000 years. But the times are changing, and many women are participating equally in the economic, political and social development of our society.
Ceres is the largest of the four major asteroids, and is generally known as the Great Mother. In Roman mythology Ceres (Demeter in Greek mythology) was the Goddess of agriculture and the harvest, and symbolized the cultivated, fertile soil that fed and provided for humanity. She was worshipped as the all-nourishing mother. Her primary story is about how her daughter Persephone was kidnapped by Pluto. When Ceres grieved over this loss, all the abundance of nature dried up. When Persephone was eventually returned, Ceres rejoiced, and seeds sprouted, flowers bloomed, and crops once again filled the field.
From these ancient myths astrologers derive the psychological significance of Ceres, and according to Ceres' placement in the horoscope, can see how Ceres is manifesting in the personal life. Women tend to express Ceres' energy more easily than men, although in men's charts she can also be a powerful force. When Ceres is prominent, the parent-child relationship is often a central theme. A woman with a strong Ceres yearns to be a nurturing caretaker, and a man with a strong Ceres likewise makes a good parent.
Ceres also shows how loss of loved ones can bring deep feelings of grief and a sense of loss. This tends to happen when a major transit adversely affects the natal Ceres. When Ceres is activated, major life transitions often occur. In a woman's horoscope, for example, this may mean the birth of a child, the onset of the menstrual cycle, the beginning of menopause, or when the last child leaves home. In a patriarchal society, these changes didn't have much relevance, but the underlying awareness of birth, death and renewal is sacred knowledge, and is intrinsically connected to ecology and the environmental movement.
Ceres, the Goddess who has control over nature's resources and cycles, could be called the Goddess of the Environment. In this sense Ceres became an emerging archetypal force in the 21st Century, and is entering our collective consciousness as a need to take care of our precious, dwindling, natural resources. Those who have Ceres prominently placed in their natal horoscopes may have a strong desire to participate at some level in the protection and nurturing of the Earth's natural resources. This is especially true when Ceres is given a transpersonal boost when connected by aspect to the outer planets. Then the caretaking function as signified by Ceres is transferred from personal need for children to the instinctive nurturing of the community and the environment.