Ceres and Nurturing

Bacchus, Ceres, Proserpina, and Pluto by Pieter van Lint

Bacchus, Ceres, Proserpina, and Pluto by Pieter van Lint


Wherever Ceres resides in your chart, it is about nurturing.


When my daughter was three, we were living in an Upper East Side neighborhood in Manhattan. One day she was running to the corner joyfully, skipping down the block where she’d always stop short of the corner and wait for me to catch up some 15 feet or so, when she did something she had never done before. She turned the corner! Being suddenly presented with her absence from my protective view on a busy street where anyone could have grabbed her in seconds made my heart nearly jumped out of my chest. I raced down the block in a panic to find her safely observing a bicycle chained to a parking meter by a parked car.

Unlike a first day of school or a first driver’s license, there are many “firsts” that are unanticipated while a child is growing up, yet are a part of their life experience and developmental growth. An injury or illness, being a victim of a crime, a loss that breaks their heart, there are those painful experiences that we cannot help others avoid, no matter how much we may want to protect them.  

I never saw myself as one of those parents we refer to as Helicopter Moms, the ones that hover over their children’s playground struggles with an excessively overprotective stance to help them ward off failure at every turn. Yet, I’ve had to accept that in some ways and situations, I’ve overcompensated for my own childhood perceptions of being unloved by wanting to be different with my child. Was my worrying about her well-being turning into excessive pressure that she felt subconsciously? A shadow side of Ceres is the tendency to smother-love, which can undermine a person’s coping skills.

“Feeling responsible and supportive towards others are good intentions, but they need to be separated from our fear and anxiety.”

Just how much of the shadow side of the archetype plays into the Ceres myth is up for interpretation. The Roman goddess of agriculture and fertility is seen as the counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter. As the story goes, Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, was lonely, causing Venus to send Cupid to shoot him with an arrow. This led Pluto to come out of the underworld looking for love where he came upon Proserpina playing in the lake with nymphs. Pluto abducted Proserpina and took her back to the underworld to be his bride. Ceres searched every corner of the Earth for her. The angrier she became; the hungrier the people were for lack of grain and harvest. Concerned, Jupiter sent Mercury to talk to Pluto. Pluto agreed to let Proserpina go, but every year Proserpina had to return to the underworld and spend 4-6 months with Pluto. To the Romans, this explained the cycle of the seasons. When Proserpina rejoins her mother in springtime, Ceres is happy and fills the earth with crops and flowers. By autumn, the crops are ready to harvest. Then Proserpina returns to Pluto in the underworld, as plants on Earth die pending Proserpina’s return. As Ceres mourns, food cannot grow on Earth, hence those long months of winter.

One can only imaging the battle that would’ve ensued had Pluto been waiting around a New York street corner that day. You had better believe no piece of city concrete would have been left unturned. This mothering, nurturing principle, where the focus is on the well-being of others at least as much as ourselves, works in very practical ways. Taking care of someone, feeding the family, being a provider, these all relate to Ceres energy.

I’m sure it had something to do with that day I stood up in a NYC subway car watching one man provoking a fight with the other. I kept repeating “C’mon guys, c’mon, stop that!” as everyone else looked away or down at their phones. Somehow I felt I could defuse what was happening with a motherly energy to help keep the situation from escalating and it worked.

Feeling responsible and supportive towards others are good intentions, but they need to be separated from our fear and anxiety. It is when we continually put the needs of others before our own and identify too strongly with the role that we risk holding someone back. I learned to not be as quick to get in the way of my daughter figuring things out on her own. We have to recognize when we feel good about taking care of someone in ways that may not serve them.

I am after all always looking for a philosophy that I can believe in. My Ceres is in Sagittarius in the third house. I’m always picking up on the archetype in people after years of greeting customers at the boarding door of a flight. I get an intuitive sense of their issues about nurturing and suffering at the moment they step onto the airplane. I assumed most flight attendants did, until I recently listened to Ceres: Myth, Archetype, and Astrology, a YouTube video lecture by Evolutionary Astrologer, Channel and Energy Worker Tom Jacobs. It sparked my awareness of just how Ceres manifests for me, which also has to do with needing my daughter to be safe, because part of me feels safe if she is safe. Becoming more conscious of my inner wiring tells me I have more unraveling to do in bringing healthy nurturing, love and support to others.

As the symbol of the powerfully protective forces that push our growth and development, Ceres seems to be taking on more significance astrologically these days in working to make us more accepting and self-nurturing, and our world a more loving place.

Ceres is the largest body in what’s referred to as the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Discovered in 1801, scientists decided to reclassify Ceres from an asteroid to a dwarf planet in 2006.

Karen Bart