Asteroid Files: Hebe

Meh, Royals! Who needs ’em? They’re so late- I’ve had it up to HERE with them, I tell ya! The struggle of the common man is far more noble and dignified. This is VIRGO season, we need to talk about the glory of the proletariat now! The working class, those who serve… And I know just the asteroid to kick us off!

The Astronomy: 6 Hebe is a large main-belt asteroid, containing around half a percent of the mass of the belt. However, due to its apparently high bulk density (greater than that of the Moon or even Mars), Hebe does not rank among the top twenty asteroids by volume. This high bulk density suggests an extremely solid body that has not been impacted by collisions, which is not typical of asteroids of its size – they tend to be loosely bound rubble piles. In brightness, Hebe is the fifth brightest object in the asteroid belt after Vesta, Ceres, Iris, and Pallas. Hebe is probably the parent body of the H chondrite meteorites, which account for about 40% of all meteorites striking Earth. Hebe was discovered on 1 July 1847 by Karl Ludwig Hencke, the sixth asteroid discovered. It was the second and final asteroid discovery by Hencke, after 5 Astraea. The name Hebe, goddess of youth, was proposed by Carl Friedrich Gauss. There’s more, but in the Virgoan interest of brevity, you can check it all out on her Wikipedia page.

The Myth: Hēbē  in ancient Greek religion, is the goddess of youth. She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Hebe was the cup-bearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympos, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she was married to Heracles; her successor was the divine hero Ganymede. Another title of hers, for this reason, is Ganymeda. She also drew baths for her brother Ares and helped Hera enter her chariot. Hebe was supposed to have the power to give eternal youth, and in art is typically seen with her father in the guise of an eagle, often offering a cup to him. This depiction is seen in classical engraved gems as well as later art and seems to relate to a belief that the eagle (like the phoenix) had the ability to renew itself to a youthful state. Her mother Hera became pregnant merely by eating a lettuce plant when dining with Apollo. In Euripides’ play Heracleidae, Hebe granted Iolaus’ wish to become young again in order to fight Eurystheus. Hebe had two children with Heracles: Alexiares and Anicetus. The name Hebe comes from Greek word meaning “youth” or “prime of life”. Juventus likewise means “youth”, as can be seen in such derivatives as juvenile. In art, Hebe is usually depicted wearing a sleeveless dress. The Phliasians, who lived near Sicyon, honored Hebe (whom they called Dia) by pardoning supplicants. Hebe was also worshiped as a goddess of pardons or forgiveness; freed prisoners would hang their chains in the sacred grove of her sanctuary at Phlius.

Why She Matters: In Astro, Hebe obviously has to deal with service, taking care of others and ensuring their happiness. She is the patron saint of anyone who has ever worked in any customer service field, or been yelled at for an hour by someone who wanted something that just couldn’t be done and was punished because a customer was unhappy- very Virgo. Yet with all things Virgo, there is a latent and uncomfortable sexual undercurrent that must be addressed. Hebe lends her name to a paraphilia, Hebephilia- the love of adolescents (not to be confused with pedophilia). A large number of other astrologers have made this connection so it is hard to ignore out of hand but it is not something I wish to go into, because it creeps me out. With Ganymede’s connection to pedophilia, however, it seems hard to deny. Roderick Kinston gives us much better insights- “With Hebe, we can be prompted to set a true moral compass, which can only focus itself once a certain point of moral development has been reached – and this is a tricky proposition in a mundane chart where energies have a way of sinking to the lowest common denominator.  Nonetheless, once Hebean energies have been well developed and integrated, they can begin to express an attitude of helpfulness that is at least protective if not heroic: some of the best Hebean people can become magnificent champions for the weak or helpless, and turn into our advocates or agents, or even activists and agitators.” A fully realized Hebe combined with Eris could lead to amazing things.