J is for Juno

When I began studying the asteroids in my twenties, Ceres was the only one I immediately understood. Not completely, by any means, but I knew what nurturing was, I could catch glimpses of how Ceres functioned in my charts and in the charts of other people I knew, and that was enough to get me started. But I have been struggling for years to make that intuitive connection with Pallas, Juno, and Vesta. I read their definitions in books, try to find examples in my own life, but end up pushing the books aside in frustration and going off to learn about something else.

Juno. (asteroid)
Juno (Source: nasa.gov)

After Ceres, Juno sounded like the next easiest asteroid to understand. Various authors wrote that Juno symbolized marriage and similar committed long-term relationships. Given that Hera (Juno) was the goddess of marriage, this made sense. But what confused me was that astrology already has a major relationship significator: Venus. This was giving the authors trouble. I read all sorts of ways they tried to work around this. Some distinguished between committed relationships and everything else—but I had no idea where to draw the line. Another author claimed that Venus had been mistakenly used as a marriage symbol for centuries, but now that we knew the asteroids existed, Juno was far more appropriate as a marriage significator. This sounded like love (Venus) had nothing to do with marriage, which hardly fit the contemporary idea of marriage. Was I just not understanding this because I wasn’t married? I hesitated to tie an asteroid’s meaning to a social ritual, even one as widespread as marriage. There is a Juno in all astrological charts, so there must be some way it acts in the charts of the not-yet-married and the never-to-be-married. And so I’ve started going back to the beginning to try to figure out what Juno might mean.

The astrological interpretations of the classical planets developed alongside the mythology. For a planet (or asteroid) discovered after the invention of the telescope, its astrological interpretations must be pieced together after the fact. One way to start figuring them out is to study the myths of the god/dess the planet was named for. Another way is to look at the societal trends that coincide with the discovery and see if there’s a pattern. You can also study the planet in people’s charts, especially charts in which that planet is placed in a sensitive spot, and see if it has had a distinctive influence on their lives. Not being a professional astrologer, I don’t have enough charts to really give me insight on this, and with the Big Four asteroids all discovered within a few years of each other, they’ll share their historical period. That left me with mythology.

The astrological glyph for Juno.
The astrological glyph for Juno.

As a child, I found Hera’s myths dramatic and interesting, but they never had happy endings. I wasn’t sure what I thought of her. She never won those fights with Zeus, and he really did deserve to lose a few. But then again, she kept blaming his lovers/victims, which wasn’t fair because it was always Zeus who started their relationships. (Understanding that dynamic was one of those things I needed to grow up to do.) At first, I thought I wasn’t getting anywhere. Hera is the goddess of marriage, and her myths repeated certain themes: marriage, jealousy, persecution of Zeus’ lovers, constant fighting with Zeus, and (in the adult versions), Zeus’ occasional physical abuse. Astrologically, this was pretty much where I’d started, and when I looked at my own Juno in my chart, nothing clicked.

Last year, I reread some books on goddess archetypes that I’d first read in my twenties. Both The Goddess: Mythological Images of the Feminine by Christine Downing and The Goddess Within: A Guide to the Eternal Myths That Shape Women’s Lives by Jennifer Barker Woolger and Roger J. Woolger have chapters on Hera. I’m no more married now than I was when I first read these books, but life experience must count for something, because these chapters made much more sense the second time around. Hera and Zeus’ relationship is a power struggle, and from that, I’m working with the idea that Juno symbolizes the power issues in a relationship. This can touch on sharing power, trying to find a balance of power, experiencing powerlessness or forcing it on another person, and craving power you don’t have. Hera and Zeus’ myths show both having power in your own right and having power through your relationship to someone who’s inherently powerful (i.e. Hera’s role both as the queen of the gods and as the wife of Zeus). I haven’t worked with this enough yet to figure out how Juno’s location in each of the signs of the zodiac and the twelve houses shades these issues, but it’s a start—and after so many years of wondering if I even had a basic understanding of Juno, it’s great to feel like it’s finally making sense!

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