P is for Pallas (Athene)

In many ways, astrology is a process of refinement. Start with the Sun, which symbolizes your identity and your sense of self. Modify that with the characteristics of the Sign that the Sun is in, and the description you have of yourself probably isn’t wrong, it’s just vague and limited. You could stop there, or you could add in another factor: perhaps the house that your Sun is in, or maybe your Moon sign, which describes your emotional response and instincts. With each addition, the profile you’re creating is more specific, richer, and more clearly you. By the time you’ve considered the seven classical planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, plus some astrological points, the description can be quite detailed.

2 Pallas
Pallas’ location makes it hard to get photos of it, so here’s an artists’ conception of it.

Like the planets, the asteroids symbolize parts of your psyche. But while the planets got “big” parts (identity, emotions, etc.), the asteroids are pretty specific. Indeed, they seem to overlap with the planets, taking one facet of a planet’s rulerships and focusing on it. As I had trouble figuring out what Juno governed that wasn’t already covered by Venus (marriage vs. love and relationships), or what Ceres did that was different from the Moon (nurturing vs. well, more nurturing—yeah, still can’t explain that one all that well), I had so much trouble differentiating the asteroid Pallas* from Mercury that I couldn’t use it. Mercury rules communication and perception, and can often be identified with the conscious mind. Pallas, I read, signified things like creative intelligence, mental creativity, pattern recognition, and the ability to solve problems. I wasn’t sure what creative intelligence was, exactly, although it was probably similar to mental creativity, but then, most mental stuff was Mercury’s domain, so I wanted to know what about this made it specifically Pallas’. Pattern recognition is a form of perception, so how was that any different than the perception symbolized by Mercury? And so on.

The astrological glyph for Pallas.
The astrological glyph for Pallas.

When I decided to write about the asteroids for Pagan Blog Project, I knew I was giving myself a deadline. Thanks to alphabetical order, I got to start with Ceres, the one asteroid I understood, but eventually J, P, and V were going to come up. But over the past 20 years, people very helpfully invented the Internet and astrologers put their observations and theories about Pallas out on the web where I could find them. Also, life experience must count for something, because now that I’ve found these other definitions for Pallas, I realize they’re not all that different from those first ones I read that I didn’t understand, yet they make sense. Those first definitions haven’t changed any, so it must be me who has changed enough to understand them now. And finally, I’ve thought about the gods themselves, Hermes and Athena. Hermes is the herald of the gods, known for his quick wits, cunning, and somewhat amoral. This is a good match for Mercury, a planet symbolizing the conscious mind, which communicates through words and can rationalize even immoral behavior. Athena is not a goddess of war, yet she is a master of strategy, and in like manner, Pallas depicts how you strategize. This asteroid also has to do with pattern recognition, and perhaps I was using my Pallas when all these descriptions came together and finally clicked for me. So I’m working with Pallas as a significator of strategy, pattern recognition, and problem solving. Pallas’ sign shows how you approach these; Pallas’ house shows in which areas of your life you’re most likely to do them.

It’s exciting having a “new” astrological factor. Maybe I’ll get some insights from studying Pallas, and maybe I won’t, but the joy of the study itself is what drew me to astrology in the first place.

*Many astrology books refer to this asteroid as Pallas Athene. It wasn’t until I started researching the asteroids for the Pagan Blog Project that I learned that its official name is 2 Pallas.

Photo credit: UCLA, B. E. Schmidt and S. C. Radcliffe, found at nasa.gov.