Pandora—the Astrology of Temptation

by Boots Hart, CAP on April 1, 2012

Asteroid Pandora - astrology of temptation

The first mention of Pandora in Greek mythology comes to us from Hesiod’s “Theogony.” We don’t have specific birth and death data for Hesiod, but scholars put his work in the arena of 750-650 BCE. So it’s old indeed—and more importantly for the astrological understanding of same, this myth is distinctly pre-Christian.

So, what did Hesiod say about Pandora? He simply said she was the “first woman”…which makes it no surprise that when you dig around, her name comes up linked to (or compared to) that of Prometheus, the fellow who stole fire from the gods, enraging Olympians with the thought that humans too would be able to go outside and have a BBQ.

According to Hesiod, Pandora was created “by the gods”—which may give us some perspective on women being considered “heavenly creations” by some, particularly since this myth comes to us from a highly male-dominated time (the very yang Age of Aries was very male-oriented indeed!).

Furthermore, according to Hesiod, each of the Greek gods contributed to this creation. Hephaestus (later known to Romans as Vulcan), god of the forge and all things molten and malleable, was ordered to make this woman out of earth as part of a punishment for the aforementioned Promethean act of having given fire to mortal earthlings—after which, all the other gods were ordered to endow Pandora with gifts guaranteed to seduce.

Seduce whom? Men. Remembering that all this happened in a time when a crowd was counted only by the number of men in said crowd (how Age of Aries, right?) this is the classic sort of Greek conundrum which says okay…you don’t want to adhere to the law of the gods? (spiritualism) Then live your earthy, earthly life—see what that gets you.

This tale is told over and over again in ancient myths all over the ancient world long before it was formalized by Christians or anyone else as soul-staining “sin.” The ancient form of this question is all about getting rooted in one or the other without sufficient balance.

And balance would seem to be the key here, no matter which version of the Pandora tale you want to embrace. For when this “beautiful evil” (as Hesiod called her) tormented men with the “wonder” which arose in their minds at the very sight of her, the question is not whether Pandora herself is good or evil, but whether those who perceive her can maintain their sense of judgment.

Okay…so maybe it’s not “wonder” those men are feeling, and maybe it’s not something arising in their “minds.” Granted! But the bottom line is still the same: on a mythological or metaphysical level, Pandora remains the image of our own ability to be tempted or to get out of balance with ourselves—and that has nothing to do with others. She herself is not evil…it’s our unwillingness to hold ourselves to standards which is our undoing.

And thus we come to the jar. Apparently in the original it’s not a “box” Pandora unscrews, but a jar. Contemplating this from an ancient point of view, the “jar” would be a container which preserves things. So Pandora refers to our containment and the choices we make when curiosity—not malice—causes us to “open ourselves” to things we cannot control.


Pandora, by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1881)

All this becomes very interesting astrologically when we consider where asteroid Pandora resides. Pandora is an “outer main belt” asteroid. This means that in the broad gap between Mars and Jupiter, Pandora orbits towards the outer (Jupiter) edge of things.

Astrologically, the asteroid belt separates the inner/personal realm of things (Sun, Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars) from the outer reaches of our life (Jupiter and Saturn as the points farthest from Earth visible with the naked eye). There are literally thousands of asteroids and they all represent things we “meet up with” on our way from the point where motivation causes us to “do” something (Mars) to the point where we achieve understanding of what we’re doing or dealing with (Jupiter) and have a chance to convert that to real achievement (Saturn).

Where objects cycle in that asteroid belt tells us about where in our process we’re likely to meet up with any given issue. So that Pandora orbits near the outer edge of the asteroid belt tends to say either it’s one of the last hurdles we come to on our way to something. That Pandora’s actions come from curiosity and not malice tends to echo that old saying: be careful what you ask for, you might get it!

Does this sound a bit like asteroid Medusaanother image of “fearful truth” or “fear of the truth” or “fear of what we go through when learning the truth”? Perhaps yes, though Medusa—through her mythic association with Athena, dispassionate goddess of intellectual wisdom, is hardly as earthy as Pandora.

And maybe that’s part of the point too. Pandora’s myth is plainly earthy (and earthly) and she’s very pointedly referred to as an image which throws men (not women) off base. (I somehow doubt I have to say anything more here to illuminate such a concept.) Pandora is emotionally based, obviously. Even more to the point, she may be biologically based and thus echo ideas more commonly associated with points like TNO Typhon (basic/baseline instincts). As the “first woman” Pandora would certainly be—in part—about procreation. It would also be about male temptation and the ability of to tempt males—though in this tale the temptation is fashioned “by the gods” and therefore is something each person has to take responsibility for.

Would it be tempting (so to speak?) to blame it on whoever’s tempting you? Absolutely! But would that be correct? Probably not if, as this suggests, the ability to be tempted is all about your own relationship to whatever you think Divinity (karma, spirituality, existence, etc.) is.

The last part of the original myth which we modern readers evidently having gotten the “scoop” on is the fact that in Hesiod’s version, Pandora releases all the evils from the jar then recaps it, retaining hope inside. Plainly, hope remains within. And while this can be a good thing, buoying us in difficult times, because hope is defined as being “contained within a jar” it may also translate as that reluctance many have to put themselves to work finding their own solutions.

Discovered on September 10, 1858 when retrograde at 6 Aries, Pandora carries with it a quality of Self which sometimes too late recognizes the need—and validity—of others throughout its 4.58-year-long orbital cycle. Six Aries is a degree known for worldly ambitions which involves relationships which though functional, fail to satisfy on any deep and nurturing level.

But still, we have hope, right? Yes—and it may well be that it takes coming to that place where we realize not just that “ills of the world” are abroad but that we have (to whatever degree) unleashed them in our lives…through being dazzled by something which overcomes us at a totally visceral and personal level and learning how that alone will not cure our ills…thus we come to hold onto the hope left inside.

Also worth note: Pandora is not only the name of an asteroid, but also the name of one of Saturn’s moons. Lest we think astronomers don’t squabble about such things, there was some debate about whether both the moon and the asteroid could have the same name. And obviously the answer is yes, giving us a clear metaphysical indicator that there is a “connection” between “orbiting our goals” (Saturn) and working towards sufficient understanding or mastery of circumstances (Jupiter) as to be able to reach those goals. That one Pandora is on the way to Jupiter and the other orbits Saturn suggests that the closer we get to our (Saturn) goal or achievement, the more we should be aware of what we do.

Still, (and here we look merely to the asteroid) that Pandora’s perihelion—its closest approach to us (2.359 AU)—is rather in sync with the perihelions of Amphitrite and Daedalus tells us that we can win through, IF we keep our wits about us (Daedalus) and carry through on well-thought-out plans and IF we are willing to recognize when we are being overcome by emotions, emotionality, or even habitual (unconscious) thinking (Amphitrite).

So why bring this up now—here in April, 2012—while the world is in flux?

That’s precisely the issue. Next month (on May 15, to be precise), Venus goes retrograde. It will be going retrograde in the Mercury (thought/mentality) ruled sign of Gemini. Venus will then be in retrograde for about six weeks. This is a sure sign of reflecting on choices. And where Venus is concerned, it’s often likely that some of those choices involve things we have done in order to garner admiration or approval from others. In making this turn-about at 23 Gemini, Venus will automatically be raising the 3rd decan (degrees 20-29) issue of critique/reaction from others.

Then we have the concept that any planet in retrograde—being that the planet is physically on the other side of the Sun during retrograde—that “cuts us off” from “normal” avenues of expression or connection vis-à-vis whatever symbol is in retrograde. With Venus, that would be being “cut off” from positive support of various kinds.

But then we add in Pandora. Pandora is going direct on May 17. So either way, given that astrological stations (direct-to-retrograde or retrograde-to-direct) are given two-day allowances, these symbolic shifts are tied together.

Oh—and did I mention that Pandora will be going direct in Virgo, Mercury’s other sign of rulership? AND that Uranus will be rolling through 6 Aries (the degree at which Pandora was discovered during late April and early May?).

But wait—there’s more! Come May 20, there’s a Solar Eclipse at 0 Gemini…as if we needed to underscore mental issues and questions of how well we think, how well balanced our thinking is…or isn’t?

Those who are willing to change, who are willing to grasp where their thinking has been unbalanced or detrimental to their own interests or those of others have an opportunity to get ahead of this curve now. And that would be the reason for discussing Pandora here in April, 2012. Are changes easy-peasy to make? Probably not. Are they necessary? Maybe not in external terms, but Pandora’s inclusion in this mix suggests that each and every one of us—no matter our gender—needs to balance what we do in, and with, our life. There’s an obvious quality of warning where we live “on the surface” or for surface values: those who think they can hide behind some surface, beware. Those who think all that matters is what you look like or where you live, beware. Those who think acting strong or weak is the do-all, be-all of life, beware.

We do have a chance now to start anew. And many people—you’ll see them here and there—will be taking the opportunity to do just that in/with their lives. So long as balance is part of the mix and maintained or put into place, while positive results may be slow in coming (solar eclipses tend to evolve over a 36-month period) they’ll be there in time.

In his writing “Human, All Too Human,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote this—which is altogether applicable to Pandora:

Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man’s torment.

For those who won’t change, and for those who think they’re “entitled” to be insensitive (which in the end becomes insensitivity towards Self), April 2012 is the moment when the jar lid starts coming undone.

But don’t worry…you’ll still have hope.

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