Date: July 1, 2019
The Champion in a Chart
By Tracy Quinlan
(This article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of NCGR’s Memberletter)
Pallas Athena asks us- what will you fight for? The asteroid is an important tool in astrology given the landscape of the world’s current politics. As marginalized populations work to rise through their repression and a persistent dichotomous environment continues to ferment and fester, Pallas’ message is crucial.
There has been some great work done connecting Pallas in the natal chart to career and aptitude, and I agree the asteroid can be an incredible key into vocational astrology, especially for clients searching for meaning through their work, but Pallas also shows us what it is we will champion.
Origins of Pallas Athene and Athena are speculated upon and the stories vary. In the most well-known iterations, her birth story remains consistent. Zeus impregnates Metis. While Metis is pregnant with Pallas it is prophesized that a child born of Metis and fathered by Zeus would be wiser than Zeus and take his thrown. To keep this from happening he eats Metis while she is pregnant with Pallas. There are a few versions of Pallas Athena’s birth, but all of them involve Zeus being wracked with a raging headache and then someone assisting in the easement of his pain. A popular version involves a companion taking a double-edged axe to Zeus’ head which releases a full grown, battle clad, goddess.
There are few consistencies to the myth. Her parents were Zeus and Metis, but whether the consummation was consensual is conflicting. That Pallas Athene bore warrior garb and was an adult at her birth are consistent, but what size she was, full size or miniaturized, changes. It is reasonable to surmise the story has been revised over time to serve social and political values, and so gleaning all of her astrological meaning from the myths may leave out important ideas.
To amplify our understanding of what astrological Pallas Athene has to offer, I’ll look to her discovery chart. The asteroid’s birth chart shares a strong story of the activist and champion we see in many other birth charts, and I’ll provide a few examples further on. Because the name Athena carries with it a strong patriarchal imprint, I refer to the asteroid as Pallas, and will do so throughout the rest of this article.
The asteroid was discovered on March 28, 1802 by the German philosopher and physician who also discovered Ceres – Wilhelm Olbers, in Bergen, Norway. I have used 11:00 PM, but the time is unknown as far as I have been able to find, therefore, please discard house placement. Pallas itself was at twenty nine degrees of Virgo and moving retrograde at the discovery (Chart 1). Based on the discussion in Pallas Athene’s mythology of androgyny and gender roles in general, I was stricken to see her tightest aspects are a semi-sextile to Jupiter (Zeus – Pallas Athene’s father) and a quincunx to Mars.
The semi-sextile from Pallas to Jupiter speaks to my interpretation of Arielle Guttman’s ideas about Pallas in the natal chart relating to the separation from the father’s shadow, or father in general. Pallas is moving towards Jupiter but in an uncomfortable aspect and will turn around and move away from Jupiter. The quincunx to Mars implies an awkward relationship to the masculine archetype and a need for adjustment in terms of gender roles and established beliefs about a gender binary reality. The Pallas/Mars relationship informs us of a need to make changes in social constructs around drive and ambition.
The Sun is conjunct Venus in Aries in the Pallas chart, which is very strong symbolism for Pallas as a warrior and champion. The Moon is in Aquarius giving the chart a humanitarian flavor and the Mars in Aquarius echoing the combined message of the Sun/Venus-Moon sextile. While the Moon in Aquarius has an emotional connection to humanitarian unity, Mars in Aquarius will fight for that cause.
Saturn is opposing Pluto, representing the need for a transformation in the social structure of gender restrictions and social repression: there’s a need to find a productive middle ground. The Saturn/Pluto aspect also shows a conflict between power and structure. Neptune is forming a fixed t-square to Jupiter opposing Mars. Neptune dissolves, and in this chart I see it as the potential to dissolve the fixity and restriction of social roles based on sex and gender. Having Jupiter in Leo conjunct fixed star Regulus represents status, wealth and religious superiority. With that dynamic opposing the humanitarian fight of Mars in Aquarius, the t-square from Neptune shows the potential to break down the barriers of socio-economic constraints, and points to advocacy against bias based on culture, race or beliefs.
The Moon in Aquarius is applying to a trine to Uranus, in Air, indicating incredible intellect, and echoes the problem-solving and pattern-finding acumen stated in Pallas’s myth. In a natal chart this particular combination may represent an affinity to astrology. Christina Rodenbeck calls Pallas the astrologer’s asteroid and discusses her position in the charts of many prominent astrologers. The Moon is quincunx Saturn and it’s separating. I see this as making adjustments to our ideas around masculine and feminine roles, but also of moving away from prescribed social structures towards a more Uranian ideal of free individuality, taking power out of all of the social constructs. There are many ideas of advocacy in this chart, defending or fighting for the underdog in general, whether it be persons, places, or things.
Pluto in Pisces indicates altruism for all people and opposing Saturn would highlight a need for balance between a utopian, boundless, love frenzy and a never ending structure built on details and fault finding. Somewhere in the middle lives a healthy and supportive society creating the perfect environment built on healing and unconditional love. I think this opposition is important because although I find a strong feminist energy in Pallas both in myth and discovery chart, it’s more about a humanist fight overall and that is exemplified by the Pluto Saturn opposition, the Pisces Virgo nodal axis and Pallas itself in Virgo.
I have found when Pallas is angular and or connecting strongly to personal planets, there is a signature of humanitarian activism and a particular active transit of Pallas, for example, Pallas transiting an angle or activating an existing chart configuration, can trigger activism or highlight it in the person’s life. I will show some examples of both the natal Pallas and then a significant Pallas transit for the particular natal chart.
Pallas in Action
Pallas in Aries is the athlete, the pioneer, and the trailblazer. Billie Jean King is an excellent example of this Pallas archetype. Chart 2 shows that she has Pallas in Aries in the second house opposing the Moon and Neptune in Libra in her eighth house. At the age of 29 Billie Jean took on the mission to improve pay and conditions for women’s tennis. The female players were underpaid and under-valued compared to the male professional tennis players. In an effort to have their demands recognized she agreed to participate in a Battle of the Sexes match with Bobby Riggs. King accepted the challenge when Pallas was rising to her Midheaven by transit, and beat him shortly after Pallas had crossed her MC (Chart 3). The Pallas conjunction to is the strongest aspect to the Midheaven and Pluto transiting the eighth house opposing her natal Pallas speaks loudly to the transformation in her career and the face of women’s sports.
Shortly after Ms. King beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes match, she became the first president of women’s tennis players union and in 1974 founded the Women’s Sports Foundation. This could all be undertaken with an investment from her husband, so the themes of value, wages, and the spouse’s money are also a significant component to her Pallas story and the second and eighth house oppositions.
I will forever be grateful for choosing a lecture at U.A.C. 2018 that introduced me to the story of Ida B. Wells. Ms. Wells was an investigative journalist, teacher and a leader early into the civil rights movement. She spent most of her adult life fighting racism and sexism and trying to put a stop to violence against African Americans. She was also one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Pallas has an important placement in her chart (Chart 4). I do not have a time so I used a noon time chart, but this does not dilute the potency of Pallas.
Pallas completes a cardinal t-square with an opposition to her Moon, Neptune, and Mars in Aries, while Mercury in Cancer is at the apex of the aspect pattern. When I first saw her chart, Pallas was not displayed. As I heard her life being described- her passionate fight for equal rights and a desire to stop violence, and specifically lynching, I was surprised to see nothing in Libra. Then I pulled her natal chart and saw her Pallas placement. While Mars is the final dispositor of her natal chart, the opposition to Pallas in Libra and square to Mercury in Cancer give her Mars placement meaning and purpose.
May 4, 1884 on a train travelling from Memphis to Nashville Tennessee, the direction of Ida B. Wells life changed forever. Ida had purchased a first class ticket on the women’s car, and had every right to be there. The conductor asked her to remove herself to the car relegated for the African American passengers and she refused to leave. She was then forcibly removed by several of the train’s crew, and kicked off of the train. She sued the train company and won, but the decision was over turned by the Supreme Court. This experienced sparked her to write about issues of race and injustice and altered the trajectory of her life.
Chart 5 shows the transits for the day of Ms. Wells’ fateful train ride. Pallas is conjunct Pluto and Mercury in Gemini is making sextiles and trines to her natal Pallas opposition, while transiting Venus at zero Cancer is square her natal Moon, lighting up her entire natal t-square. Having both natal Mercury and transiting Mercury involved while natal Pallas and transiting Pallas are triggering natal Moon and Mars in Aries, writing to fight against inequality is a perfect expression. Being an activist for the fairness and treatment of women and African Americans is an ideal expression of these combined natal aspects and transits. Pluto moving through the beginning degrees of Gemini – transformation through the sharing of ideas and the written word- triggered Ida’s natal t-square for nearly seven years, entrenching these revolutionary energies into her life path.
These particular women are remarkable manifestations of the Pallas ideals, both natally and through transit. The asteroid Pallas in natal astrology can bring an extra layer to a chart when considering questions of purpose and ideologies, and I look forward to witnessing where her message takes us in the future.
To take a comprehensive look at Pallas in astrology – by sign, house and planetary relationship- I recommend Asteroid Goddesses- Demetra George and Douglas Bloch.
To read the expression of Pallas as the astrologers asteroid got to The Oxford Astrologer’s website – https://www.oxfordastrologer.com/2011/04/why-pallas-athene-is-the-astrologers-asteroid.html