Eris in Retrograde: Feminine Awakening

“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”

Frank Herbert

Eris, Goddess of Discord and Strife, begins her passage in retrograde in 24.5 Aries, on Wednesday, July 21st. During this time, the energy is magnified as she focuses her attention within. Eris is known for creating chaos, disrupting cultural conditioning, calling out the elephant in the room, and pointing out where there is discordance. During this retrograde time, Eris invites us to examine the internalized patterns and parts of our psyche that cause suffering and oppression from long-held cultural wounding. When we hold onto and internalize our wounds we disconnect from our self-worth and empowered feminine creative fire. Taking time to examine the wounded parts of ourselves can help us reclaim our worth and move forward, through conscious choices. Eris will be in retrograde motion until January 11, 2022.

Eris in Mythology

Eris is the goddess of discord and strife. Due to her trouble-making tendencies, she was snubbed and purposefully uninvited to a wedding on Mount Olympus, thrown by Zeus, that all of Olympian society was attending. In response, she tossed a golden apple through a window into the midst of a party. The apple was inscribed: “To the Fairest”.  This provoked an argument between all the goddesses about its intended recipient. Eventually, it came down to Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite. They asked Zeus to decide who was to receive the apple, and he appointed Paris of Troy to choose. The three goddesses began to disrobe and parade around Paris to win his favor. When that didn’t work, they attempted to bribe him, and they each offered him a gift in exchange for the apple. Athena offered him infinite wisdom and to become the world’s greatest warrior. Hera offered him political power with the chance to be king of Asia and Europe. Aphrodite tempted him with the love of Helen of Sparta, who was said to have been the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris knew he was doomed as he understood that whichever goddesses weren’t selected would instantly begin plotting against him. Not being particularly motivated by war or power, he gave the apple to Aphrodite. After Paris abducted Helen of Sparta, who happened to be married to King Menelaus, Aphrodite kept her promise and gave him her love. King Menelaus refused to stop until Helen was found, destroying Paris’ city and killing many. According to Greek Mythology, because of this golden apple, the Trojan War began.

Eris as an Archetype

One the surface level, Eris’ act of revenge may seem a bit reckless or petty. But archetypally, her experience represents the experience of the feminine throughout history. Eris symbolizes the feminine energy that has been snubbed, uninvited, marginalized, or left out of the patriarchal society. In the story, her response released the shadow feminine of women competing against each other to advance to the title of the fairest and gain power. She also represents the oppressed feminine who enters unannounced to reclaim her due place in a world governed by patriarchal power.

Eris stands for truth, integrity and for those who feel unheard, slighted, overlooked, and uninvited. Eris invites us to look beyond cultural conditioning and wake up to our own role as participants in the oppression of others. Eris’ action started a war, but the story depicts a glimpse of the shadow of humanity, the desire, greed, and competition that almost always initiates war. Without the desire, greed and competition, the shadow would not exist. Eris fights to expose the truth and wake us up to what we are participating in––both personally and collectively. It is sometimes through the darkness and reality exposed that we also see communities rise up together, marginalized voices heard, and laws changed.

Eris’ discovery in our night sky

Eris was discovered in January of 2005, from a picture taken in 2003. She is technically the 10th planet in our solar system and is twenty-seven percent larger than Pluto. That next year (2006), instead of giving Eris her due place in the solar system, the powers that be decided to categorize her as a dwarf planet and downgrade Pluto. Instead of including the feminine, they thought it better to disregard this information and demote Pluto. This speaks directly to the goddess Eris’ story of being purposely left out by the patriarchy.

Because Eris has a very long orbital period––558 years to be precise–– her action tends to be geared toward the collective and generational cycles. But if transiting Eris is near one of your personal planets or angles, or if you have a planet in 22-25 ° of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn), then you are more likely to experience more personal themes. Eris’ orbit moves at an incline and is extremely tilted relative to the Earth around the Sun. It was because of its incline that it was relatively late to be discovered. 

Eris Square Pluto

Pluto is in the sign of Capricorn, which correlates to structures and systems of society, such as government, tradition, corporations, public institutions, the elder, the patriarchy. Capricorn is associated with ambition, discipline, perseverance, seeing what is practically realizable, the skeptic, and the pessimist.

Eris is in the sign of Aries, which is the sign associated with the self and archetypally must act and live from its own sense of values and forge its own path. Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac. They are on a quest to individuate from the group or family they are born into. They are learning to establish themselves in the world, set boundaries, and fight for the freedom to live from their autonomy. Aries is associated with the warrior, the pioneer, the hero, the leader, and with courage and initiation.

Eris has been in a long-running square with Pluto throughout 2020-2021. Eris stands up for freedom and is willing to fight to change the system. Her battle is to expose the truth of what we have participated in, so we can wake up to our unconscious allegiance to cultural structures. Upholding these old cultural paradigms will not serve the vision going forward. She wakes us up so we can evolve. Eris exposes the darkness and violence of humanity, so that we have to see it and acknowledge the part it plays in our world. We can’t bring social change by looking away. We can’t be a part of the solution, when our actions uphold a system that supports, fosters, and creates such violence and oppression. 

Eris represents the chaos and wild energetic impulse of nature that is waking up to herself. In order to heal, mother nature knows how to release what no longer serves her. Imagine the mythical story and party scene again. This time the golden apple is a magnifying glass that is being carried by a wild gust of wind that shatters the status quo or glass window and presents itself as a needed pattern disruptor. That is how Eris works. She goes directly to the conditioned shadow pattern and holds up the magnifying glass for you to see it too.

A square aspect in astrology shows us an unconscious part of ourselves. This square creates friction. Pluto in dialogue with Eris asks us to end the old pattern, to evolve and transform. It is through becoming conscious of the darkness that we can wake up, speak up, and create a better world, one that doesn’t profit off of people and one that makes space for all of our voices. This square can activate the shadow aspects of both signs, but the chaos is pointing us to creative and innovative new solutions.

Over the last eighteen months, we have seen hundreds of demonstrations and protests for equality. We are waking up to our role, both personally and collectively, in the part that we have played to perpetuate white supremacy and capitalism. We must wake up to the greed, competition, selfishness, violence, and oppression that we have created. This time has been a necessary wake-up call from this configuration. The pandemic has brought us all inward to look at our role, both as individuals and society. Pluto and Eris will make two more exact square aspects on August 27th and October 9th of 2021. What conditioning do we need to release now to forage the new way? We will continue to see more awakening and speaking up for injustices and truth in the next several months. 

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends.  We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”

Sonya Renee Taylor

Eris in Retrograde

Eris is a goddess who demands truth and knows herself deeply, so her retrograde phase is of particular importance and often brings to the surface important truths to wake us up to ourselves. Now moving into retrograde for the next six months, (July 21st 2021-January 11th 2022), the energy of Eris is intensified.

Eris in retrograde helps us identify our lack of self-love, our pain from being left out, and how we continue the cycle to perpetuate our own suffering. We must wake up to the shadow within ourselves and the collective to see a new truth. In order to do this, we must face the times when we turned away from ourselves, when life threw a criticism, rejection, or slight at us and we turned the pain in on ourselves and/or threw the pain chaotically out into the collective. When we were slighted, we felt the wound deeply, maybe we even felt legitimately victimized by circumstances and people in our life, but we internalized the pain and became the perpetrator of violence and hatred toward ourselves.

The empowered side of Eris fights to establish her place in society, speaks truth directly, and reclaims the sovereignty that her own lack of self worth could not previously accept.

Retrograde phases are invitations for shadow work. When we strengthen our skill of presence and acceptance to be with all the parts of ourselves, we strengthen our capacity to heal. Our inability to be with the revenge seeking, hurt, primal, darkest parts of ourselves causes us to project our hurt and self hatred onto others. We can deepen our responsibility in our choices by knowing where we have power and where we don’t in a situation. We can then use our power to reclaim our worth. 

Sun in Cancer Square Eris in Aries opp Pluto, art by Stacy Quast

The invitation during this retrograde period is to look at both the shadow and light of the feminine within us, so we can see how they influence our actions. When we do this, we can own how we have oppressed or caused harm to ourselves or others. We end the cycle of conflict when we make space to feel our pain and know our pain pattern of self sabotage. Through reflecting on our patterns, we can open the door to greater compassion for ourselves and others. We can then intuit our next course of action. Doing a shadow inventory on how the patriarchy has conditioned us is helpful to connect to our true nature. For example, were you not allowed to express anger as a child? Were you expected to be good, which caused the pain to sit under the surface, quietly resentful? Were you told you were too sensitive or called a name for expressing hurt and sadness? Where have you been taught to go against your own nature, or told not to cause a scene? When were you shamed or told to behave like those around you? 

Eris and the Wild Feminine Archetype

Eris represents the wild energy of the radical feminine. Eris refuses to be silent, passive, degraded, and she won’t go along with societal conditions. She is untamed, knows herself, and fights for her freedom and liberation. In shadow form, Eris is the dark feminine who unleashes chaos, provokes a quarrel of the feminine turning in on itself, and instigates wars just to be heard or prove a point. In the shadow form, the feminine is disconnected from its innate worth and sovereignty.

Eris in Aries is a powerful warrior, a catalyst, the wild feminine that refuses to conform to the cultural standards of being a woman in a patriarchal society. She is a fiery creative spark that initiates change. She claims her own version of the feminine and rises up to take her place at the party.

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