There is a new Planetoid named SEDNA found 3 times further out than Pluto! From her frozen red surface, our sun appears only as a very bright star! Named for the Inuit goddess of the icy seas, what does this new discovery mean to the astrological community? Will Sedna, now transiting in Taurus, change the way we look at our charts? Ourselves? Our global community?
The extremely distant planetoid Sedna has an extreme and elliptical orbit around the Sun, well beyond Pluto,ranging between 76 and 975 AU (where 1 AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun). A year on Sedna - one complete orbit around the sun - is estimated to take between 10.5 and 12 thousand Earth years. To add the the myster, Sedna's discoverer, Mike Brown of Caltech, noted says that the planetoid's location doesn’t make sense:
"Sedna shouldn't be there,” said Brown. “There's no way to put Sedna where it is. It never comes close enough to be affected by the Sun, but it never goes far enough away from the Sun to be affected by other stars.”
Brown postulates that perhaps a massive unseen object is responsible for Sedna’s mystifying orbit, its gravitational influence keeping Sedna fixed in that far-distant portion of space. This is the 'nemisis theory' the idea that our sun is actually a binary with a yet to be discovered companion star.
Whether that is true or not, Sedna dwells in a remote region of space. This is a distant world whose recent discovery triples the size of our solar system. From her icy surface, the sun seems only a bright star. Extremely cold, bright red, eccentric in orbit and mysterious in constitution (and existance), her first sighting on November 14, 2003, 06:32 AM UT at Palomar Mountain, California marks a shift in human awareness. Nothing this far away has ever been seen before.
Newspaper headlines first proclaimed Sedna as our 10th planet though Dr. Michael Brown, who named her for the Inuit goddess of the Arctic seas, felt she would be classified as a planetoid, and she was. Estimated at about 1800 km, or 2/3 the size of Pluto, Sedna is the largest and most outlying body found since 1930. Sedna orbits somewhere beyond the outer edge of the Kuiper Belt and the inner periphery of the hypothesized Oort cloud, a vast source of comets and other frozen bodies thought to extend half way to the next nearest star, Alpha Centauri.
Though remote, Sedna is still much closer than the ‘fixed stars’, important astrological points. Like homeopathy, distance (dilution) may actually increase potency. The question is what kind of potency?
The Astrological Sedna
Determining the astrological significance of Sedna requires time and observation. Considerations include mythology, collective movements at the time of discovery and events, internal and external, that link to natal and mundane chart activation. Astrologer and author Dennis Elwell cautions against giving excessive weight to singular episodes in the mythology and not enough to empirical experience. Though mythic themes are insightful, events coinciding with Sedna discovery must be considered equally.
The first coincidence is the naming of Sedna . How do we know they got it right? Dr. Liz Greene, from London’s Centre for Psychological Astrology , elaborates.
“There is…a curious synchronicity between the time when the planet is discovered and the emergence in society of values and experiences which the planet represents symbolically. It’s as though the planet breaks upon consciousness in both a literal and symbolic way. I can’t really answer you as to why Uranus is called Uranus and Neptune, Neptune. I can only say that in some mysterious fashion they get the names right.”
The Inuit Sedna
Sedna resides in the icy depths of Adlivun, the Arctic underworld beneath the sea. There she rules all marine life, and controls the fate of humans by releasing her bounty to respectful hunters and withholding it from the careless. Disregard for the sacredness of life is the worst offence. When this happens, her long hair tangles with filth and requires a shaman’s journey to appease her rage.
The legends vary, though in most Sedna was once a beautiful girl. Many suitors came to ask for her hand in marriage yet she rejected them all, often to her father’s anguish. When one wealthy hunter was refused, he gave her his dog, saying it was all she deserved. She then marries the dog and gives birth to pups and babes alike.
Ironically, a dog to the Inuit symbolizes faithfulness to one’s own spirit, making this union a mark of individuation, completion. The hunter and her father, however, are appalled. When the dog-husband carries food to his banished offspring, Sedna’s father places stones in his pack so he drowns.
Still, Sedna continues to refuse all suitors until a mysterious man arrives dressed in very fine skins and feathers. Intrigued by the promise of warmth and abundance, she agrees to wed. Her husband’s guarantee of comfort vanishes when Sedna realizes he is a Fulmar, a dangerous bird spirit living on a desolate island. Although he brings her fresh fish every day, there is no warmth, no furs, and no lamp oil. She falls into despair, wailing her lament. Her father eventually hears her and comes to her rescue.
In yet another version, Sedna is the child of two deities. Though well fed, she is a hungry girl and chews into her parents’ flesh while they sleep. For this she is sent into exile. In every version, Sedna ends up in a kayak with her father. A terrible storm ensues, stirred by the angry Fulmar or other offended spirits. Her father fears for his life and tosses Sedna overboard. When she grasps the side of the kayak and tries to climb back in, he chops her frozen fingers off, one by one with an axe. As her finger joints fall into the sea, they turn into seals, whales, polar bears, fish, dolphins and walruses. Sedna sinks below the waves, her upper body remaining in the form of a woman and her lower body transforming into a fish or dolphin.
She comes to rest at the bottom of the ocean floor and is guarded by her faithful dog-husband. Sometimes she is depicted as a grotesque, one eyed vision of outrage. Other images are more seductive and mermaid-like.
Stories of mermaids, circulating for centuries and underscored periodically with actual sightings, tell of sea creatures, half female-half fish or dolphin. They personify both the alluring and treacherous aspects of the feminine, residing in the sea of the unconscious, holding a key to life and death. Like Sedna, they maintain specific taboos and seem to represent an innate fear of the sacred feminine, the “wickedness of which is an unescapable punishment, a necessary evil painted with fair colours”.
European tales, like The Handless Maiden , also involve a father who cuts off his daughter’s hands. The loss of ones hands is a disturbing symbol. Hands represent our dexterity, allowing us to control and interact with the world. The father’s act of maiming his child—in the Inuit and European stories —is poorly motivated. Lack of incentive makes these tales all the more provocative. Among other things, they say something about abused family authority. This doesn’t suggest that the astrological Sedna denotes victimization. Sedna is a life/death/life goddess. Her power and authority regulate who by their right action will live and who, by their negligence, will starve.
Here is what Dr. Kathleen Jenks says about Sedna. “When victimization moves to the goddess-level as it does with Sedna, (it) signals us that there's an extra depth of compassion for the abused. It also tells us that this goddess-archetype has the wherewithal to make a difference and empower that person whose (planets) are resonating with Sedna’s sphere of power. Sedna may come to represent an extreme terrain of the unconscious, one where issues of power, authority and respect for life do not separate from a respect for oneself.
The Inuit are animistic, seeing divinity in all things. Sedna may ask us to account for previously unconsidered forms of negligence towards ourselves and our living planet. Unappeasable by force, bribe or cajole, Sedna is softened only by a shaman’s song of life. The 2003 New Zealand film, Whale Rider, echoes such a shamanic journey, impelled by the spirit of a people in need. Perhaps this is how we are to commune with Sedna, through the guided imagery of dreams and spirit journeys.
Sedna's discovery on November 14th, 2003 at 17 Taurus 58 coincides with 350 million people uniting in World Diabetes Day. Venerated astrologer Isabel Hickey taught that diabetes was a physical form of emotional bitterness, the inability to balance bitter thoughts with sweet ones . This highlights Venus, ruler of both Taurus, the sign of Sedna’s current transit and Libra, the sign long associated with this disease. Venus also links to personal, one-to-one, socially significant relationships and the drive for balance there. Consider what other world events coincide with this discovery , and what they may say about fear, abuse of power and mother earth’s immutable authority. Here are just a few of the headlines.
Alaska's native horse killed off by food shortages and climate change - not human hunters. How actively do we protect and nurture life on earth?
The world's most damaging potato disease discovered in Britain. How do we respond to the treat of food shortage and disease?
Opposition to USA Patriot Act Swells”. How well do democratic governments protect the rights of their citizens?
A gas explosion in a southern China coal mine killed 48 workers, injured two others. How well do we protect our labor force?
Southeast Asia Water Forum- - Chiang Mai, Thailand. How do we protect our global oceans/fresh water ecosystems?
Sedna has been transiting through mid-Aries to mid-Taurus these last 75 years. Current generations share a similar placement in their astrological charts by sign and outer planet aspect, though house position and contacts to personal planet are unique. Recording the transits of Sedna and checking activation dates against inner and outer life events will help reveal her meaning.
Transiting Sedna was exactly opposite the one client's natal third house Saturn when learning to SCUBA dive in areas teaming with sea lions, dolphins and whales. By facing fears (Saturn) this time led to self-confidence and empowerment, particularly in the area of communication, higher education and teaching (3rd-9th house axis). For another woman, transiting Sedna exactly squared the natal Moon in Aquarius. This coincided with a separation from an abusive relationship and major change of residence. Both these transits reflect significant turning points in life, though Sedna was of course not the only transit within orb at the time.
Below is the chart of a woman called Charlotte. During a troubled time, she sought astrological consultation, bringing this dream.
I am looking into a deep inland sea, edged by descending stairs. I feel compelled to follow the stairs down into the caverns underneath the water. I somehow know there is something down there that is hungry, trapped. I race down the steps and glimpse an enormous black walrus stuck in the dry caverns, unable to get to the water. I hurry on to free it, but as I turn the last descent of stairs, I run straight into a dead end. The way has been blocked, sealed off. I can’t get to the creature to feed it and return it to the sea and I know it will starve.
Charlotte's Natal Sedna - 4 Taurus 16
Transiting - Sedna 17 Taurus 52
On examination of her chart, transiting Sedna was conjunct her natal 12th house Sun. Note her chart ruler, Venus, conjuncts natal Sedna, also in the 12th. With the abundance of earth (Taurus), she has a naturally pragmatic approach to life—sweet, calm and compelled by the realm of the senses. However, all that earth is “trapped” in the non-corporeal 12th house, the sea of the unconscious. Her relationship with the mundane world was well established yet her connection to her inner world remained relatively unexplored.
The sea links to the vast depths of Charlotte’s unconscious 12th house. It is interesting that mythically Sedna used her creatures, whales and seals, to communicate with human kind, to feed them or not as they 'deserved'. The only way to reach Sedna, however, is through the spirit journey of the shaman. Once there, the shaman placates Sedna’s anger by asking how the taboos have been broken and what can be done to correct the offence. The shaman then combs her tangled hair, releasing the souls of animals abused and chants to her songs of life.
When Charlotte heard the myth of Sedna, she realized, through a stream of tears, she had always wanted to pursue her artistic talents but worked as a bookkeeper in her father’s business instead. She had never acknowledged how empty she felt. By exploring the inherent conflict between the 12th house Sun in Taurus (square 3rd house Leo Moon) she found ways to feed and nurture her creative and mystical longings as well as her need for practical security.
This Sedna transit coincided with an application and acceptance to art school, greater independence (separation from father) and a new journey into her hidden world of creativity and spirit. Although other transits occurred at this time, the imagery in Charlotte’s dream and the personal relevance she felt were specific to Sedna.
Sedna’s discovery heralds the expansion of not only our solar system but our capacity for conscious awareness as well--a new paradigm for humankind. By tracking Sedna’s transits—perhaps looking first at the conjunctions, squares and oppositions within one to two degree orbs—themes of her message may arise . Where is 21 degrees of Taurus in your natal chart? Progressions? What planets or angles are activated by this contact? Have a look and be a part of this new and intriguing exploration!From Swiss Ephemeris Date | Sedna | | | | LONG DECL | ------------------------------------ 01 Jan 2000 | 15 ta 21 Rx 5°03 | 01 Jan 2001 | 15 ta 54 Rx 5°11 | 01 Jan 2002 | 16 ta 27 Rx 5°19 | 01 Jan 2003 | 17 ta 0 Rx 5°27 | 01 Jan 2004 | 17 ta 34 Rx 5°35 | 01 Jan 2005 | 18 ta 7 Rx 5°43 | 01 Jan 2006 | 18 ta 42 Rx 5°52 | 01 Jan 2007 | 19 ta 16 Rx 6°00 | 01 Jan 2008 | 19 ta 51 Rx 6°08 | 01 Jan 2009 | 20 ta 25 Rx 6°16 | 01 Jan 2010 | 21 ta 0 Rx 6°24 | 01 Jan 2011 | 21 ta 36 Rx 6°32 | 01 Jan 2012 | 22 ta 11 Rx 6°41 | 01 Jan 2013 | 22 ta 47 Rx 6°49 | 01 Jan 2014 | 23 ta 23 Rx 6°57 | 01 Jan 2015 | 23 ta 59 Rx 7°05 | 01 Jan 2016 | 24 ta 36 Rx 7°14 | 01 Jan 2017 | 25 ta 12 Rx 7°22 | 01 Jan 2018 | 25 ta 49 Rx 7°30 | 01 Jan 2019 | 26 ta 26 Rx 7°39 | 01 Jan 2020 | 27 ta 4 Rx 7°47 | 01 Jan 2021 | 27 ta 41 Rx 7°55 | 01 Jan 2022 | 28 ta 20 Rx 8°04 | 01 Jan 2023 | 28 ta 58 Rx 8°12 | 01 Jan 2024 | 29 ta 37 Rx 8°20 |Click her to read Zane Stein's article on SEDNA.