Occultation of 1 Vulpecula by Asteroid 2 Pallas
Dr. Rita Bremer
The Memorial weekend of 1983 will be remembered by two events. First of all, the United States hosted the Economic Summit meeting in Williamsburg , Virginia, on which the NATO missile crisis had cast its shadow. The dilemma was caused by Moscow’s demand to take into account the missiles owned by France and Britain which are not under the NATO command. Let us not forget that France is no longer a NATO member. That kind of missile count created difficulties among the European allies, threatening to drive a rift between them. The drafting of the formal declaration of the NATO missile policy on that weekend was a masterpiece of cunning diplomacy to which an angered Gromyko replied a few days later in a speech, that one does not outsmart or outfox one’s partner. While the statement of the NATO missile policy achieved a temporary unification of very diverse views on that particular issue among the European allies, it added another fateful twist to the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks in Geneva, thereby contributing to the imminent deadlock of those talks. From Thomas Ottenad’s newspaper article, “Missile Issue Imperiled Summit”, it was learned that there was a great deal of behind the scenes maneuvering and squabbling. What struck me also was a notation of timing. According to that article, it was about midnight when President Reagan without aides entered a room, where the foreign ministers had coffee. It was then and there during a conversation that somebody, probably President Reagan, dropped the idea that each minister should draft a statement to his respective head of government.
While the NATO missile crisis kept the heads of government spinning, some hundred astronomers were focusing their attention on the occultation of the brightest star in the constellation Vulpecula. The star is the 4.8 magnitude star 1 Vulpecula. This unusual event took place on May 29, 1983 at 4:56-58 UT, which is 0:56 EDT. The occultation was observable along a narrow path across the southern part of the United States. Vulpecula is a modern constellation (Hevelius 1611- 1687) occupying a space between Sagitta (Arrow) and Cygnus (Swan) at the bifurcation of the Milky Way. This constellation was called originally Vulpecula cum Ansere meaning the Fox and the Goose.
Vulpecula the Fox gives us the theme of the cunning thief. At least in tales and nursery rhymes, the fox steals the goose. Here one questions the means and ulterior motives by which one obtains one’s goals.
The asteroid 2 Pallas was discovered on March 2, 1802 by H. W. Olbers from Bremen, Germany. It was the second asteroid of the main belt to be discovered. This asteroid travels in an orbit highly inclined to the ecliptic (37 degree tilt). It was learned from this particular occultation that Pallas has no satellite companion and its diameter is 521 km.
The asteroid 2 Pallas was named after the Greek war goddess Pallas Athena. Another asteroid, 93 Minerva, is named after her Roman counterpart. In Greek mythology, Pallas Athena was never called by that first name alone, but the asteroid is named just that. Athena was one of Zeus’ two children he carried to full term. Sometime after Zeus had swallowed his wife Metis (Wisdom), who was with child, he began to suffer from an unbearable headache. In order to cure Zeus, Hephaistos split open his skull and Athena sprang forth, fully grown and armed. She was Zeus’ favored child. The other child was Dionysus by the mortal mother Semele (Moon). Zeus had consumed her in anger with his lightning bolt, when she was six months pregnant. Hermes saved the child from a premature death in his mother’s womb by taking the child and sewing it into Zeus’ thigh. While Athena is intelligent and rational, Dionysus is irrational and sensual. He is a god of wine and dance and actually a god of somber madness. The asteroid 2063 is named Bacchus, another name for this mythological figure.
Athena was raised by the river god Triton together with her foster-sister Pallas. One day Zeus intervened in the girls’ war game, when he grew concerned for Athena’s safety. Athena, unaware of Zeus’ intervention, caught Pallas off guard and killed her. Athena, deeply grieved, added Pallas to her name to honor her. Since the asteroid is called just Pallas, it puts the emphasis on her martial aspects. In Greek mythology, Athena is a very complex figure. She stands for intelligence and reason, translates thought into action. She presides over national gatherings and gives advice to her favorite heroes and leaders. She deals with strategy and is known to be cunning. She has been pictured carrying her famous shield with the Gorgon’s head symbolizing the frightening away aspect of defense. In our modern times, this frightening away aspect of defense is called deterrence and is expressed in the perilous undertaking of stockpiling nuclear warheads. According to Murrary Stein, who is a Jungian analyst and the translator of Kerenyi’s Athena, this goddess gives us insight into the heroic striving and complexities of defense.
Athena lost two contests. You all know the story as to who is the fairest. Athena offered victory and achievement, Hera status and all that goes with it and Aphrodite charm and love. Paris, on whom the lot to judge fell, could not resist Aphrodite’s charm. One thing led to another and the stage was set for the Trojan War.
In another contest, the mortal Arachne challenged Athena to a weaving contest. The poor girl chose Olympian love affairs as the theme, which she executed in a flawless masterpiece of weaving. Athena, infuriated that she could not find fault with the work, turned the girl into a spider. What happened here is that Athena, who is a power, is being challenged by a mortal and above all challenged with the theme of love. Athena had no inclination and little understanding for that side of life. One could say Athena exhibits here some intolerance of being challenged as well as an ambition to be second to none, which impedes fairness and objectivity in judgment. Every virtue has its breaking point when it loses its context with other virtues and values.
Now who or what else will play a supporting role to the theme of the cunning thief? In mythology, we have the figure of Prometheus (Foresight) who stole the fire from the gods to benefit mankind. According to Richard T. Tarnas, the mythological figure of Prometheus corresponds to the astrologer’s Uranus. Prometheus was a humanitarian or philanthropist, who was concerned with the welfare of mankind, which Zeus was not. Here we have an altruistic motif by which the end justifies the means. However, Zeus inflicted severe punishment upon Prometheus for his daring deed. Prometheus had to pay dearly with the price of accepting suffering and enduring pain. This acceptance of suffering is further highlighted when Chiron yielded his immortality to Prometheus in order to be relieved from his own suffering for which there was no cure.
Another cunning thief is Hermes (Mercury). While still in swaddling clothes, Hermes developed an irresistible taste for beef, so that the question kept running through his mind, “Where is the beef?” He simply set out and stole Apollo’s sacred cows and cleverly concealed his tracks. Apollo was infuriated, but Zeus roared with laughter when he heard the whole story of this innocent looking little boy, who was also his son. Eventually Hermes made up with Apollo by giving him his invention, the lyre, as an appeasement offer. What gets this mischievous little boy out of the pickle is his appearance of innocence. I would say, that the placement of Mercury in Taurus in the event chart suits this tale of the little cow thief quite well.
In Greek mythology, Zeus presides over his quarrelsome Olympians trying to unify matters by forming alliances. However, victory seemed to come to the Olympians only through the alliances and help of lower forces.
The occultation chart reflects the mundane situation. The MC/IC power axis is strongly emphasized. The MC, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are in Sagittarius, suggesting that matters are revolving around foreign countries’ affairs and ideologies, but also some Sagittarian overzealousness. With Neptune almost conjunct the 11th house cusp, goals and purposes of the Summit are ill defined, since the NATO missile issues do not belong on the agenda of the Economic Summit.
Occulting Pallas is in the 12th house of secrets and behind the scenes activities, involving defense issues and problems. Sun and Mars in the 4th house of home suggest energy and action. We all know of the elaborate efforts to dress up America’s historical Williamsburg for that meeting. Mars in Gemini, however, is quarrelsome and in the 4th house indicating quarrels among family members. Moon in Capricorn does not want to do things alone and its placement in the 11th house seeks participation of friends and allies. Interestingly enough, the Moon is conjunct Reagan’s Mars. While Sun and Mars are conjunct the U.S.A.’s natal Uranus, U.S.S.R.’s natal Uranus is on the Ascendant. Mercury conjuncts Vesta and they square the Ascendant and sesquisquare Neptune. In this chart, Neptune is the least aspected planet and therefore not too well integrated. Mercury in Taurus can block out facts that are hindering, so that Mercury is really not on par with the seriousness of the issue. Pallas is conjunct Reagan’s Mercury/Uranus midpoint and in opposition to the U.S.A.’s natal Mercury. Pallas is square the asteroid Russia in Aries, while asteroid America is trine Sun/Mars and sextile Hidalgo/MC/Jupiter/Uranus/Toro, but in opposition to President Reagan’s progressed Icarus and NATO’s natal Mercury. There is an astonishing showing of Icarus, which is conjunct Ceres and close to the Ascendant. Icarus is conjunct U.S.A.’s natal Pallas and Moon and progressed Mercury as well as Reagan’s progressed Mars. The Moon is also conjunct the U.S.S.R.’s progressed Icarus/Mercury conjunction. There are many more contacts, just indicating the complexity of the situation.
A solution to the NATO missile crisis is being forcefully pursued by President Reagan. In order to bring about unity among the European NATO allies, a quick temporary solution is pursued, which might prove at its worst to be a shortsighted solution. This short term solution was achieved by outfoxing the U.S.S.R. on this particular issue and it is communicated with such cunning that it is most certainly provocative and will invite reciprocal action that will not benefit mankind. On his next return, the fox who stole the goose will find himself for sure looking down the barrel of a gun.
In the end, it will be the fox for the goose. In other words, this cunning will alert all the defensive forces of the opponent. Prometheus suffered dearly for his cunning deed and Hermes had to make restitution. Although a temporary solution was achieved, the tale of the fox indicates some loss in the end, the story of Prometheus that the welfare of mankind is at stake and the tale of Hermes, although not without humor, points to the necessity of some restitution in one form or another.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Bremer sent several charts which we are not including due to lack of space.]
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