Helios on Metis– Welcome to Cancer season, Heritics! It’s time that we get into the mysteries- the secrets of life, death and everything in between… The queen of the mysteries? Well that crown belongs to wise and careful Metis!
The Astronomy– 9 Metis is one of the larger main-belt asteroids. It is composed of silicates and metallic nickel-iron, and may be the core remnant of a large asteroid that was destroyed by an ancient collision. Metis is estimated to contain just under half a percent of the total mass of the asteroid belt. Metis was once considered to be a member of an asteroid family known as the Metis family, but more recent searches for prominent families did not recognize any such group, nor is a clump evident in the vicinity of Metis by visual inspection of proper orbital element diagrams. However, a spectroscopic analysis found strong spectral similarities between Metis and 113 Amalthea, and it is suggested that these asteroids may be remnants of a very old (at least ~1 Ga) dynamical family whose smaller members have been pulverised by collisions or perturbed away from the vicinity. The putative parent body is estimated to have been 300 to 600 km in diameter (Vesta-sized) and differentiated. Metis would be the relatively intact core remnant, and Amalthea a fragment of the mantle. Coincidentally, both Metis and Amalthea have namesakes among Jupiter’s inner moons.
The Myth– Metis was a mythological character belonging to the Titan generation. Like several primordial figures, she was an Oceanid, in the sense that Metis was born of Oceanus and his sister Tethys, of an earlier age than Zeus and his siblings. Metis was the first great spouse of Zeus, and also his cousin. Zeus is himself titled Mêtieta, “the wise counsellor,” in the Homeric poems. By the era of Greek philosophy in the 5th century BC, Metis had become the mother of wisdom and deep thought, but her name originally connoted “magical cunning” and was as easily equated with the trickster powers of Prometheus as with the “royal metis” of Zeus. The Stoic commentators allegorised Metis as the embodiment of “prudence”, “wisdom” or “wise counsel”, in which form she was inherited by the Renaissance.
Metis was both a threat to Zeus and an indispensable aid: “Zeus lay with Metis but immediately feared the consequences. It had been prophesied that Metis would bear extremely powerful children: the first, Athena and the second, a son more powerful than Zeus himself, who would eventually overthrow Zeus.” In order to forestall these dire consequences, Zeus tricked her into turning herself into a fly and promptly swallowed her. He was too late: Metis had already conceived a child. In time she began making a helmet and robe for her fetal daughter. The hammering as she made the helmet caused Zeus great pain, and Hephaestus either clove Zeus’s head with an axe, or hit it with a hammer at the river Triton, giving rise to Athena‘s birth. Athena leaped from Zeus’s head, fully grown, armed, and armoured, and Zeus was none the worse for the experience.
Why She Matters– Metis is a truly interesting story, which blends into that of her daughter’s. Metis was a Titaness, one of those beautiful and terrifying elder gods whose power dwarfed that of the Olympians. More than that, Metis was respected for her intelligence and power during a time when women weren’t worth much to the menfolk, or at least that is how we think of those times. Metis (and the greater Athena story) tells of a time before patriarchal dominance, when the power and knowledge of women, of the sacred mysteries was held in high regard. Metis is a story of the transfer of power, of the turning of the wheel- Zeus subsumes Metis within himself, and takes her power under his own, out of fear that his position will be usurped. Metis gets her revenge though- she torments him relentlessly, and then after a painful excision, she is reborn as her daughter Athene (not yet Pallas, that came later) who cements the transfer of power under the patriarchy.
Still, Metis is an undeniable truth- she is an expression of the old ways, the VERY old ways. She is the truth of the land, their life and their mystery. She is the knower of the dark, and she has made her peace with what lies within. She guards those who are hers, jealously, as she has a duty to them. She has the knowing, and therefore she has the calling to use that knowing. Those under her care, those who peer into the darkness and seek to understand her mysteries- not to use and abuse them, but to understand them- find Metis a welcome ally. She waits for you in the dark, fallow places- the secret places where the old magic still lives.
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 of the next page, there will be a menu of additional objects. Under that is a blank space where you can enter the number 9, for Metis. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Metis affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!