Asteroid Files: Themis

Thumbnail-HeliosHelios– In the icy wastes of the asteroid belts, the power struggles of the various egos and deities are known to get especially heinous. There is one, above all, who orders the paths and lays down the law. These are her stories… *dun dun*

The Astronomy– 24 Themis is one of the largest asteroids in the asteroid belt. It is also the largest member of the Themis family. It was discovered by Annibale de Gasparis on 5 April 1853. It is named after Themis, the personification of natural law and divine order in Greek mythology.  Gravitational perturbations in the orbit of Themis were used to calculate the mass of Jupiter as early as 1875. On 24 December 1975, 24 Themis had a close encounter with 2296 Kugultinov with a minimum distance of 0.016 AU (2.4×106 km). By analyzing the perturbation of Kugultinov’s orbit due to the gravitational pull of Themis, the mass of Themis was determined to be approximately 2.89×10−11 solar masses (9.62×10−6 Earth masses).

On 7 October 2009, the presence of water ice was confirmed on the surface of this asteroid using NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility. The surface of the asteroid appears completely covered in ice. As this ice layer is sublimated, it may be getting replenished by a reservoir of ice under the surface. Organic compounds were also detected on the surface. Scientists hypothesize that some of the first water brought to Earth was delivered by asteroid impacts after the collision that produced the Moon. The presence of ice on 24 Themis supports this theory. Because of its proximity to the sun (~3.2 AU), the widespread ice on the surface of 24 Themis is somewhat unexpected. The surface ice may be replenished by a sub-surface reservoir of water or impact gardening—a lunar phenomenon in which the moon overturns surface material at a rate of 1  m/ Gyr. An alternative mechanism to explain the presence of water ice on 24 Themis is similar to the hypothesized formation of water on the surface of the Moon by solar wind. Trace amounts of water would be continuously produced by high-energy solar protons impinging oxide minerals present at the surface of the asteroid.

The Myth– Themis is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as “of good counsel”, and is the personification of divine order, law, natural law and custom. Themis means “divine law” rather than human ordinance, literally “that which is put in place”. Her Roman name is Justitia. To the ancient Greeks she was originally the organizer of the “communal affairs of humans, particularly assemblies”. Moses Finley remarked of themis, as the word was used by Homer in the 8th century BCE, to evoke the social order of the 10th- and 9th-century Greek Dark Ages: “Themis is untranslatable. A gift of the gods and a mark of civilized existence, sometimes it means right custom, proper procedure, social order, and sometimes merely the will of the gods (as revealed by an omen, for example) with little of the idea of right.Finley adds, “There was themis—custom, tradition, folk-ways, mores, whatever we may call it, the enormous power of ‘it is (or is not) done’. The world of Odysseus had a highly developed sense of what was fitting and proper”. The personification of abstract concepts is characteristic of the Greeks. The ability of the goddess Themis to foresee the future enabled her to become one of the Oracles of Delphi, which in turn led to her establishment as the goddess of divine justice. Some classical representations of Themis showed her blindfolded, holding a sword. The sword is also believed to represent the ability Themis had from cutting fact from fiction; to her there was no middle ground. Themis built the Oracle at Delphi and was herself oracular. According to another legend, Themis received the Oracle at Delphi from Gaia and later gave it to Phoebe. When Themis is disregarded, Nemesis brings just and wrathful retribution; thus Themis shared the Nemesion temple at Rhamnous. Themis is not wrathful: she, “of the lovely cheeks”, was the first to offer Hera a cup when she returned to Olympus distraught over threats from Zeus. Themis presided over the proper relation between man and woman, the basis of the rightly ordered family (the family was seen as the pillar of the deme), and judges were often referred to as “themistopóloi” (the servants of Themis). Such was also the basis for order upon Olympus. Even Hera addressed her as “Lady Themis”. The name of Themis might be substituted for Adrasteia in telling of the birth of Zeus on Crete. Themis was present at Delos to witness the birth of Apollo. According to Ovid, it was Themis rather than Zeus who told Deucalion to throw the bones of “his Mother” over his shoulder to create a new race of humankind after the deluge.

Why She Matters– Okay, so we have a lot to go over here. In the chart, Themis would naturally express as a desire to play by the rules, follow the law, and generally be an upstanding citizen. Except this is not necessarily beholden to the laws of men- She is NATURAL order, the innate sense of the way that things should be. When the way things should be is wronged, or the natural order is upset, she sics the terrifying Nemesis on the offenders. She loathes corruption, harm of the earth, and harm of the people. She is the embodiment of the idea that the law is there to protect the people from harm, and in today’s world… That isn’t necessarily the case. She is the factor that corrects that, and tips the scales back in the favor of the people, making her Eris’ bestie. There is an intense connection to both Zeus and Hera, and so any aspect to Jupiter and/or Juno will be added in emphasis. Same with Deucalion and the Sun/Moon. There is a suggestion of of intuitive ability and precognition with this one, but I’m not prepared to make an official declaration of it.

To find out where she shows up in your chart, go to astro.com, put in your birth details and in the extended options, all the way at the bottom, there will be a menu of additional objects. Under that is a blank space where you can enter the number 24, for Themis. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Themis affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!