ERIS, GODDESS OF STRIFE, STIMULATION & RIVALRY
A Short History of the Kuiper Belt
In 2003 a new survey began at a super big telescope in California.(1) Astronomer Mike Brown and his team were going to examine the very edge of our Solar System, which is so far away we hadn`t had the expertise to search it in such detail before. If you imagine our Solar System is a plate, they used the super telescope to look out towards the rim, in an area called the Kuiper Belt. This is beyond Pluto and made up of icy chunks of debris left over after the formation of our Solar System. It looks like a swarm of wasps in a doughnut shaped ring around our Sun and planets.
Illustration by Robbi, copyright 2009. 07772 479380
There had been mutterings amongst astronomers for years that Pluto was really a member of this `swarm`, and that he was really just the first member found - like in the movies, when the first soldier is spotted before a whole surrounding army come into view. It did indeed turn out that way, because before the survey ended in 2008, they had discovered a whole host of things in the Kuiper Belt, including 3 new dwarf planets.
In myth, the ferryman Charon stands at the point of entry into the Underworld and so too, the newly recognised binary planet Pluto-Charon marks our entry into a whole new realm of discovery in our Solar System. The Kuiper Belt is a real metaphor for the Underworld and the 4th dimension/dark matter/dark energy that our scientists will soon discover more about.
The Discovery of Eris
Eris was first photographed in October 2003, and was officially labelled UB2003 (no, not the band!). It takes them a while to sift through all these photographs, so it wasn`t until January 2005 that an ecstatic Mike Brown realised he had a big planet on his hands and unofficially called the planet Xena and her moon Gabrielle. The nickname Xena had been taken from the hit television series `Xena the Warrior Princess`, and the name Gabrielle from her sidekick in the show.
Eris is actually bigger than Pluto and was therefore entitled to be called the 10th planet, so the discovery was earth shattering…. but then came the problems! Two separate teams of astronomers discovered the dwarf planet Haumea at a similar time and this started a squabble for ownership. One of Mike Brown`s main concerns was that the other team was calling Haumea the 10th planet, which Mike Brown knew to be untrue because he had the much bigger Eris up his sleeve. In an effort to make sure that his discovery Eris got her rightful recognition as the biggest, he hastily called a press conference and announced Eris to the world in July 2005, which was before they had planned to do so.
Mike Brown was furious and described the other team as “hackers” without “scruples”.(2) I should imagine the Jose Luiz-Ortiz team weren`t very impressed with this. Then an international row erupted about the term `planet`, and this had to be decided before Eris could be properly named. The international astronomers held a “raucous” meeting that made new rules and stopped Eris being named the 10th planet of the Solar System. These new rules meant that Pluto would no longer be called the 9th planet of the Solar System and was demoted to `dwarf planet` status along with Eris. Finally in September of 2006, Xena and her moon Gabrielle, were given the official names Eris and Dysnomia.
There is an interesting twist here. Dysnomia is the daughter of Eris in myth. Dysnomia is the Greek goddess of lawlessness, and in the show `Xena the Warrior Princess`, the part of Xena is played by Lucy Lawless – her real married name!
Another interesting co-incidence is provided be the horoscope of Lucy Lawless, which features a very strong connection to this planet. It says that the destiny and purpose of her whole life will be firmly bound up with the energies of the planet Xena/Eris. Lucy is quoted the Universal Studios show literature as saying that she loves “being as psycho as I can possibly be.” (For the astrology buffs - Eris conjuncts Sun, Moon, Asc. N.N. and Saturn in Aries in the 1st house of Lucy`s natal chart.)
The write up of the show speaks volumes:
“In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings, a mighty princess is forged in the heat of battle. Her name is Xena, and only her courage and passion can restore order to a world in turmoil, a world crying out for a hero!”(3)
Those are extremely comforting words in this day and age, could Eris really be our hero? The mythology reported by her discoverers is as follows:
“In Greek mythology, Eris is the goddess of discord and strife. She stirs up jealousy and envy to cause fighting and anger amongst men.” All the gods were invited to a wedding with the exception of Eris. “Enraged at her exclusion, she spitefully caused a quarrel among the goddesses that led to the Trojan War.”(4)
At first glance, it is hard to see a similarity between these two descriptions but we`ll press on!
Although dwarf planet Eris is usually much further out than Pluto, and takes about 560 years to go round our Sun, she has an egg shaped orbit and sometimes comes slightly closer to the Sun than Pluto. At the moment she is the farthest out she gets, at 97 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth.(5) She will be at her closest in 2257, when she will be 38 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth. Her brightness is surprising her discoverers though, so even though she is so far away, her influence cannot be ignored. She has been in the Zodiac sign of Aries since her discovery and will not leave this sign until around the middle of the 21st century. You will particularly feel her influence if you are were born on, or shortly after 9th April.
A Religious Cult Called Discordianism
In 1958/9 a cult religion was formed (supposedly in a bowling ally!), which adopted the theme of discord and chaos and called itself Discordianism. It`s proponents recognise that disharmony and chaos are valid aspects of reality, and have a real place in the universe. They offer an alternative to organised religion, which they see as the “opium of the masses”. Since the naming of Eris, this group has had an upsurge in popularity, with Amazon selling out of their original books. (I guess this will be astrologers trying to find out what the planet means!)
The Mythology of Eris.
According to Greek mythology Eris is the goddess of strife and when the Romans adopted her they called her Discordia. She is either the sister or the companion of the god of war, Ares. We are told that the Greek Eris is sinister and mean, and her greatest joy is to make trouble. When she was not invited to a prominent wedding, she turned up with a golden apple with the words "for the fairest" inscribed on it, and tossed this before the group of the most important goddesses. This being Hera, the wife of Zeus, Athena, a warrior goddess and Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and sex. The goddesses obviously began quarrelling with one another over who was the most beautiful and they eventually called on the king of gods, Zeus to choose between them. Recognising the trouble that would befall if him if did, he ordered a mortal man called Paris to choose a winner from the 3 of them. Paris chose Aphrodite after she promised to make the most beautiful woman in the world fall in love with him. This happened to be Helen of Troy who was already married, and the consequential love affair started the Trojan War!
In the Dictionary of Classical Antiquities(6) we are told that Eris is the goddess of discord, fighting and quarrelling. Further snippets about her tell us that she calls forth war and according to the Iliad she wanders about small and insignificant at first, but she soon raises her head up to heaven.
Her Other Associations in Myth
Eris is the daughter of night and mother of such god/desses or things as trouble, toil, oblivion, hunger, pain, murder, carnage, brawls, disputes, ruin, forgetfulness, deceit and finally lawlessness.(7) (Never did a goddess look so attractive!) Here you see how the ancient Greeks, just like the early Polynesians, believed that the god/dessess WERE the feelings and energies of living; the natural responses of human beings and civilisation. The gods were not separate individuals; they could be parts of the personality or the archetypal feelings and responses that we all experience. So we each have the potential to unleash our Eris and then encounter the difficulties or god/desses she gave birth to. For instance, you could experience the feeling that you have not been acknowledged for something you feel proud of, and this would stir the revengeful Eris in you. Feeling snubbed and humiliated you might then experience carnage, brawls, disputes and ruin, or any other of the god/desses that Eris gave birth to. Mythology like Eris's was used to counsel the population on a simple level and introduce them to life's lessons.
A Goddess Who Represents the Natural Law of Fire and the Chaos of the Godness.
All the religions and sacred texts of the world have a creation myth with an orderly universe being created out of chaos, Fire, energy and spirit. This realm is the 96% of the Multiverse and everything in our Universe draws from it. Science has recently discovered it and labeled it `quantum` and `dark` energy/matter. In this quantum realm, particles that make up an atom are very `excited` vortices of energy that move at light speed and beyond.
Eris is representative of this realm of Fire. In myth, she so delights in the tumult of war, she stays on the battlefield rejoicing in the havoc when the other gods have withdrawn. It is this movement and excitability that is Eris`s delight; the chaos is exhilarating and she feels elation in the mayhem.
The Positive Side of Eris in Myth
But there is a more positive side to Eris; she only caused trouble because she was not being included. Her story seems to say that she is clever, and if we exclude her, she will find a way to make her energy felt. Her discovery included a squabble between the world`s top astronomers…but it forced them to sort out some things that had been ignored for years. Namely, their computer security, `new planet` protocol and Pluto`s true status. This all needed doing.
According to the Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, “She was the personification of noble rivalry, and is represented as stimulating even dullards to exertion.”(8) However, as we shall see now, it is Hesiod who had the greatest insights into the positive aspects of Eris.
USING HESIOD TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO ENGAGE WITH ERIS ENERGY IN THE MOST POSITIVE WAY
Living Life to Take Advantage of Eris`s Competitiveness
In order for Eris energy to be effective it is naturally very strong, volatile and vicious. The energy can easily become “slanderous-tongued Envy, with look of deadly hate, rejoicing in the misfortunes of others.”(9)
However, in all my work and in all my days, I have always found that there is a positive side to everything, including misfortune, and Eris is no different. I was therefore pleased to find an excellent dissertation written by a Heber Michel Hayes in 1918 for the University of Chicago, and I refer to it in this section. This dissertation is an examination of a piece of writing by the Greek philosopher Hesiod called “The Works and Days” and arguably written in the 6th to 8th century.(10)
There is a good and bad Eris and the whole energy is essentially about ethics and karma. The bad Eris is “lawless strife” which has no regard for others and is often demonstrated by the animal kingdom, whilst the good Eris energy abides by natural justice and is stirred into serious and purposeful action.
In order to get the best out of this powerful goddess, mortals are urged to not let their emotions (that is – their other god/desses) be swayed by Eris`s cruel and spiteful passions. We should also avoid not caring for others, cruel recklessness and wickedness or perversity. But most of all there are two things required of mortals and these are labour and justice. Let`s have a look at the labour part first. Perses is urged to stop bad Eris taking him into vengeful acts that will prevent him labouring and Hay`s interpretation of Hesiod explains this in the following way.
Good Eris will support the worker who passes another worker in the race for wealth and prosperity. This worker should not make attempts to get other people`s stuff dishonestly, but should work with honest labour to attain excellence and the highest goal. The good Eris is a blessing because she gives us a healthy envy of others that will stir us into action when we see their achievements. We look at their wealth and industry and determine to achieve our own success. If we go with the bad Eris then we may get involved in vengeful acts of envy that waste our time and prevent our own success. Hesiod clearly demonstrates the two different faces of Eris and Hays says:
“They are vividly portrayed, the one impelling to dishonest and forcible aggression, the other to honorable and peaceful competition. The dramatic opposition of the two is striking.”
Hesiod`s demonstration of the two different aspects of Eris once again brings up the duality or two-sides theme of the Kuiper Belt planets. Things are never what they seem on the surface.
Good Eris As Part Of The Natural System of Justice.
Eris gave birth to energy that will punish perjurers or those who don`t honour their oaths. She will see to it that those who lie to win are punished.
We are especially warned against legal trials in an effort to extract that which is not morally ours. Since the western culture is entranced with `no win, no fee` solicitors and loves suing or blaming others for misfortune then I think Eris`s emergence is nicely timed. Solicitors beware.
In an effort to get the right balance we should hang on to and develop our scruples (the god Aidos) and our indignation at wrong doing (the god Nemesis), keeping a healthy balance between the two. Eris has a family who are personifications of human and karmic ethics, many of which can be found in the Polynesian social system of taboo and mana that we looked at in the Makemake chapter. It is obvious that she is heavily implicated in a divinely instigated and policed moral system of repercussions and encouragement.
Hesiod declared that we can profit from Eris energy by accepting the laws of Zeus and not bribing the judges to win. The Greeks had avenging spirits called the Erinyes who sorted out retributive justice and they were responsible for punishing crimes not within the reach of human justice(11) and satisfying Oath who is born of Eris. Apparently Oath does more damage than any other to mortals when they knowingly swear to a false oath. We should trust in the divine providence of Zeus, which means trust that the spirit and divinity of the 96% will attend to things and we should not enter into ruinous strife trying to sort it ourselves. (Ok sounds fine to me!)
Some Final Thoughts On Eris
Eris energy has a way of making us feel that we have been got at or picked on, and perhaps this is what earned her such a bad reputation in early Greece. Myth tells us that she `loves increasing the moaning of men`, and there is no doubt that Eris can indeed produce some very irritating energy! On the day that you get overheard by the boss as you call him terrible names on the phone……or you get zapped by a speed trap….. or your computer gets an unlockable virus…..you can be sure that Eris is sticking an oar in. But hey!…perhaps you should have left the job years ago….or shouldn`t have been speeding….. or should have updated your virus software!
However, we do get some very encouraging philosophy from Hesiod on her useful aspects and thanks to this we can understand and perhaps trust and follow the good Eris. That is our choice. We can use her energy to labour hard and surpass others with our industry, or we can wallow in spiteful jealousy and moaning.
We are told in myth that she wanders around small and insignificant to start with, but soon raises her head. It is apparent that she is still in the `small and insignificant` phase, and we haven`t really seen the extent of what Eris can do yet. However, I would like to go back to the words of the publicity men
in Xena, the Warrior Princess:
“A mighty princess is forged in the heat of battle and only her courage and passion can restore order to a world in turmoil, a world crying out for a hero.”
Planet Earth is in a mess right now, so maybe we need a goddess who will stir us into serious labour and purposeful action. This could be a good time to invite her to the party………we know what will happen if we don`t!
by Alison Chester-Lambert copyright 2009.
This excerpt was taken from Alison`s new book on the dwarf planets called "Starry Messengers". To buy a copy call Alison on 01827 68288 and you`ll get a signed one. REFERENCES: /notesonworksdays00haysrich_djvu.txt [accessed 21/2/2009]
This excerpt was taken from Alison`s new book on the dwarf planets called "Starry Messengers". To buy a copy call Alison on 01827 68288 and you`ll get a signed one.
/notesonworksdays00haysrich_djvu.txt [accessed 21/2/2009]