When her newborn cried for the first time, wailing those high, shuddering breathes, she cradled him in her arms and cried too. Overjoyed to be united with her baby for the first time, flushed with heat and powerful emotions, she choked back a laugh and wondered at the tiny body she held close to her chest. Tiny hands, little feet, fuzzy little head. And dark blue eyes that stared at her own when she whispered to him.
The boy was raised close to the land and close to his family. He took his first steps across the living room floor. His family heard his first words at the dinner table over steak and potatoes. As a teenager he was always outside, thrashing wheat in the summer and kicking leaves in the fall. Grandmother would cook turkey for Thanksgiving and sugar cookies at Christmastime. With Grandfather, he would putter around a fishing hole and pick snap peas out of the garden. Aunts, uncles, and cousins travelled down for visits, and the family would laugh, cry, fight, and celebrate together. The boy was born into a family tangled into one another's lives, and grew up close to all of them.
Mother didn't want to see him go. She still remembered him as a baby, as her little boy, and couldn't bear to watch him pack up his things. Even when he had grown into a man, she used motherly wiles to keep him close to home. Father told her to let him go. Reluctantly, she loosened her grip and stood back as her son stepped out into the city, alone, vulnerable, with nobody to protect him. Years passed. He came home Sunday nights for supper and afternoons for coffee. He borrowed money and kept his things at his parent's house. He dated women his mother didn't like and some that she did. Until one day, he came home for the holidays, and announced his new wife's pregnancy. She had never felt joy like that before or since, and became suddenly thankful for how he had grown into a man.
The glyph for Ceres (⚳) was developed to resemble a sickle, as the dwarf planet was named after the Roman goddess of agriculture, motherhood, and fertility. It is a combination of crescent and cross, representing the mind or spirit of a person connected to the earth, growing out of the physical world. And in this way, it becomes a symbol for how we grow out of our kindred upbringing, out of the past, the land our food grows in, and our family home.
Ceres, like the Moon, shows what is familiar to us. The Moon shows us as a child, as a baby, who cries out for mother when we need her. It is our hungry, needy, emotional selves which looks for safety, security, and the nurturing we crave. Ceres takes these things a step further. With her, we see the family dynamic we grew up in, how we were raised, and from our childhood experiences, what we have grown accustomed to. Ceres then takes these familiar physical and emotional comforts and uses them to take care of other people, as parents or caregivers to those dependant on us.
From this planet we get our compulsive need to help, to take care of those in need. You use Ceres not only to parent your own children, but to take care of your pets, your elderly parents, your loved ones, or anybody else who needs your care. Our drive to protect and nurture our children is a powerful force of nature equivalent even to the Mars drive to survive. Unlike the pure masculinity of Mars, though, Ceres is both strong and soft. She nurtures and nurses, dotes and fawns, cuddles and kisses. But she loses all her rational senses when something threatens her child, and is willing to risk her own life to protect theirs. The drive of the parent to defend their kin is primal and instinctual. It is one of the strongest emotional impulses in the animal kingdom, and one we famously share with the mother bear driving evil away from her cubs.
The healthy or positively-expressed Ceres is a wonderful parent. It has warmth and kindness, and a soft heart that invites in those in need. It takes care of the sick, the wounded, those strays who have no home of their own. Children, animals, those most vulnerable members of society, are sweetly loved, fed, washed, and dressed in fresh clothes. At its best, Ceres is an earthy and emotional mother who builds up her children's confidence. She is there when they need her, but she backs off enough to let them make mistakes, get hurt, and learn on their own. When they leaves her side, she lets them go, and they go on to lead happy, independent, adult lives. But at her worst, she clings to her children out of fear, and her protective instincts become overbearing.
The unhealthy Ceres micromanages her children's lives and does everything for them. Afraid they might get hurt, she keeps them safe and warm at home, sheltering them far too long under her protective wings. These children grow up insecure and afraid of the world, and depend on others to do everything for them. The caregiver unknowingly creates an entitled, hypersensitive, and anxiety-riddled dependent who knows how to exploit the Ceres-caregiver into feeding them what they want. But the opposite extreme is no better. On the other end of the spectrum is the parent that is never there. Either physically or emotionally absent, these children grow up unsure of where they stand with this parent, which leads to a whole other slew of problems as they get older. Neither of these extremes is healthy, either for the parent or the child. Too much closeness, and they become infantile. Too much distance, and they question whether you love them at all.
The driving force at the heart of Ceres is fear. Fear is what good parents and bad parents have in common. A bit of fear drives caution, which encourages responsibility, structure, and forethought - all things children need to feel safe and secure at home. But fear taken too far twists Ceres into something that is tyrannical, controlling, prone using guilt and emotional extremes to manipulate their loved ones. Proper caregiving is a tender balance between both. And the key to understanding your own parenting style is to learn more about your Ceres, and the unique challenges of its Sign and House placement.
RULERSHIP AND EXALTATION
Ceres is a small dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It can't be seen without a telescope, and so was only discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801. Unknown to ancient man, it is not a part of the traditional planetary pantheon (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) and so has no Rulership or Exaltation positions. Astrologers are only just beginning to use it, and there is active debate over whether it should be given to Taurus, Virgo, or nobody at all. My personal opinion is that Ceres should be Ruled by Virgo and Exalted in Cancer. Here is why.
Virgo is deeply compassionate, serviceable, and selfless when taking care of someone else. They are earthy, grounded to the practical and the realistic, and embody the responsible, organized, dutiful adult children look up to. Cancer is known for being emotional and motherly, family and home-oriented and dedicated to nurturing the heart and soul of those they love. Both Signs love children and animals, and both have strong ties to their mother-figures and family traditions. They show love with nutritious, home-cooked meals, take care of chores, and making a house a home. They are emotionally very warm, though guarded on the outside. Fear can cause them to grip onto their children and shelter then for far too long. Eventually, they need to let go and let their children fly out of the nest, as much as the separation pains them.
That would mean Ceres is in Detriment in Pisces and in fall in Capricorn. Pisces is a selfless and emotional parent, sensitive to the needs of others and willing to do anything for those in need. But they lack clear structure, boundaries, and discipline. And they may be so consumed with the drama of their relationship(s) that their kids have to be strong, disciplined, and dominant to compensate for their parent's weakness. Capricorn, too, is very home and family oriented, and becomes dutiful protector and provider for their children. But they can become detached from their family's emotional needs and resentful of their responsibilities as parent, causing their children to feel like a burden, or not good enough for them. Both these Signs need to becoming what others need them to be in order to be effective caregivers, whether it is more closeness, or more distance.
CERES THROUGH THE SIGNS
CERES IN ARIES means you were raised by a very loud, dramatic, aggressive, and powerful family, in a house that was animated by their energy. The positive side of this is that you were loved by loyal, fun-loving, good-humoured parents, and your home was always full of friends and family members. But at the same time, there was infighting as they all battled to dominate one another, sometimes erupting into violence, abuse, and terrifying screaming matches. This emotional chaos took its toll on your childhood and your relationship with your parents. And though it has made you stronger, the family home you create for your own kids will likely be full of the same. Yet, despite your ups and downs, as a parent, you give your kids freedom, independence, and that legendary Aries loyalty your parents gave you - ready to defend them loudly and proudly, and fight by their side when they need you to be there.
CERES IN TAURUS desires a beautiful home, like the one you grew up in. Your parents worked hard and invested their money into high-quality, expensive furnishings and food. In this way, you have been spoiled with good taste. Yet despite all you had, you are resentful, as you remember always being shouldered with a great deal of chores and responsibility from a very young age to make up for other family member's shortcomings. When it comes time for you to buy a home and start a family of your own, you won't settle for anything less than what you've grow accustomed to. You want to give your own kids the kind of material comforts and security you had growing up. But while you are endlessly loving and affectionate, you may be over-protective, controlling, and possessive. Learn to let them make mistakes and life their own life, and your relationship with them will improve.
CERES IN GEMINI speaks of a loud, noisy, ever-changing home life. Your family is social and highly communicative, always running in and out of the house, off on their own busy schedules. This placement usually switches between an empty house, with parents and siblings who are never home, and then the house filling up with people for some holiday dinner or birthday party. It also usually means that you've moved from place to place, and have a hard time settling down for good. Growing up like this, your own home and family life becomes much of the same. Your house is seldom quiet, and boredom propels you to pack up and move every few years. You raise intelligent, social, free-spirited kids, and you actively engage both their minds and their bodies in play. And while you are somewhat detached, leaving them responsible to raise themselves, it is refreshing to find a parent who loves to have fun as much as their children do!
CERES IN CANCER is in its Exalted position. You have a very deep, and very complicated relationship with your family, especially with your mother. At times, when her relationship with your father (or other men in her life) became difficult, she turned to you for the kind of comfort and security mothers usually give to their kids. In this way, from an early age, you have always been a very domestic and nurturing person, and caregiving has become an instinctual part of your personality. To your own little ones you are tender-hearted and kind, cooking and cleaning, hugging them tightly and kissing their foreheads goodnight - as long as they stay close at home, under your protection, that is. Don't let fear turn you into a crying, manipulative, and controlling parent they are afraid of offending. Your children need independance too, and can't cling to your apron strings their whole life!
CERES IN LEO says that you grew up in a loud, active, and fiery family home. Your parents reigned over their house, dominant and controlling, thundering down rules that nobody dared step over. They were powerful and demanding in the way they governed the family - but loving, protective, spoiling, and fun-loving, nonetheless. Your home was a gathering place for friends and relatives, from holiday dinners to summertime adventures. And when you create a home and family of your own, you give your children the same kind of love and affection your parents gave you. You become the reigning monarch of your own home and pound down commands of your own. But you also give them a great deal of independence and support, encourage their creative pursuits, and spoil them with attention.
CERES IN VIRGO is in its Ruled position. You grew up very closely tied to your family, especially your mother, and a significant part of who you are comes from what you were raised to be. Ceres here shows that you were raised by hardworking parents, who taught you to be serviceable, kind, responsible, clean, and diligent. And when it comes time to take care of your own family, you are as domestic as can be. The home is kept clean and tidy from you organizing, vacuuming, washing, sweeping, scrubbing, and polishing, until the whole house sparkles. Healthy meals are prepped and planned, save for a few treats and indulgent family favourites. The garden is weeded, the bills paid on time. And most importantly, your kids are raised with a healthy mix of love and discipline, and grow to be strong, healthy, hard working individuals themselves.
CERES IN LIBRA is surprisingly conflicted. Your parents were polar opposites, and disagreed with one another often. The burden to harmonize their relationship fell on you, and you were raised to mediate between fighting family members whenever conflict arose. Growing up in this position was not easy. So as a parent or caregiver yourself, one of your foremost values is that you don't want your own loved ones to grow up in the same position you were in as a child. You want them to grow up in a beautiful house with lots of nice things. You never want them to feel unloved or separated from their parents, as you sometimes felt. And yet, despite all your love and your best efforts, your rational, dispassionate approach to parenting can create distance between you and the people you love. Work on being more emotionally involved, and more disciplinary (you can't always be the good guy!), and your children will be better for it.
CERES IN SCORPIO is difficult in the same way that Ceres in Aries is difficult. There were a lot of very intense, powerful, and passionate people in your family when you were growing up. On one hand, they loved and protected you with all their heart; fought for you, defended you, and pledged their undying loyalty to the family they loved so much. But on the other, the emotional chaos in your family gave way to things like abuse, divorce, alcoholism/addiction, estranged relatives, and family drama that is only whispered about years later. As a parent yourself, you carry many of these themes into your own home. You are fiercely protective of your children, to the point that you develop a deep, paranoid fear of anything happening to them. Your love can lead you to become an overbearing and domineering parent, as your desire for power and control causes you to overreach into their affairs. You will have to come to terms with your past family issues as you start to raise your own. Work on being a force of positive change, and remind yourself to let them live their own lives.
CERES IN SAGITTARIUS means you probably freaked your parents out. A lot. You were a young daredevil: curious, rambunctious, always outside getting into trouble. Most likely, your father let you go do what you wanted, but your mother was worried sick, and used guilt to keep you close at home. But despite her efforts, your childhood was reckless and fun, and you carry the same traditions into your own family. You take an active part in your children's lives, encouraging exercise, adventure, and individual freedom. You may shock and offend them with the crude things you say, and you may not always be the most affectionate, but you're always there with wizened advice when they need it. You do not force them to adopt any kind of belief system, moral values, or particular religion. You let them come into those ideas on their own because you grant them independence of thought and action. No free-thinking child or future philosopher could ask for any more!
CERES IN CAPRICORN is in its Fall position. You have a lot of repressed anger and resentment about your family growing up because of the way they treated you. Your family, and in particular your father, was emotionally distant or absent altogether, and in some cases may have been abusive in some way. In any case, he was cold, strict, stern, and made you feel as if you had to earn his love and respect by doing things to impress him. As a parent yourself, you love your children dearly, and that is precisely why you are so driven for success. But you are also not very warm, cuddly, or affectionate. You prefer to show your love by providing for them. Unfortunately, being this detached from your own children can mean that you are removed from their emotional needs for love and comfort, and that they will grow up feeling that they are not meeting your expectations. You don't want your children to feel like you did growing up. So let them know you love them - often, and as soon as you can.
CERES IN AQUARIUS means your home life growing up was unconventional. You may have been suddenly uprooted and moved often, and became accustomed to chaotic change. Your parents were a contradictory mix of intensely emotional and completely detached - overbearing, needy, and dramatic in one breath, then absent or uncaring the next. Your family was an eclectic mix, shaken out of divorce, adoption, extramarital affairs, and step-family. From all of this, you grew up feeling distant from your own family, sometimes resentful, sometimes feeling as though you are too different for them to understand. You vow to raise your children to feel loved and accepted no matter what they turn out to be like. But while you are non-judgemental in your very detached way, remember how to be close, comforting, and affectionate too. Even the most independant children need a hug and a kiss and to be shown that you care, so give them that when they need it.
CERES IN PISCES is in its Detriment position. Your childhood and home life growing up was a loud and confusing mixture of fond memories and painful ones; of loving parents with relationship drama; of wanting to escape from your family and wanting to be close to them. Your mother and father completely dominated you, sheltering and protecting you from the outside world, making you dependant on them for everything. As a parent yourself, you are likely to recreate the same kind of unstable home you are used to. Your lack of boundaries and discipline may lead to wild, vagrant kids without structure, who do not trust you to protect them. Your own relationship drama may make your kids feel overlooked. You love them selflessly, give them everything they want, spoil them, listen to them, comfort them when they need it and encourage them to follow their dreams. In the end, they grow up just as conflicted as you did. Curb the chaos, and fight to become more responsible, for their sake as well as yours.
Ceres is relatively new and often overlooked. But it doesn't have to be that way! Add it to your readings and learn more about it to discover how your own family upbringing fashions the home you create for the people you love. Learn how to hold on enough to make them feel safe and loved, and to let go when they need to be on their own. Learn about Ceres and all that she is, and she will guide you toward becoming a better parent, pet owner, family member, and caregiver for others.