Helios on Sila-Nunam: What is it that you need, in your heart of hearts? What brings you to life, restoring your soul each day? What keeps you going? Well, that is exactly what this week’s Asteroid seeks to show you!
The Astronomy: 79360 Sila–Nunam is a double cold classical Kuiper belt object (cubewano) with components of almost equal size, orbiting beyond Neptune in the Solar System. The name of the system is the combined names of the two bodies, Sila and Nunam. It orbits very close to 4:7 mean-motion resonance with Neptune. In 2010, thermal flux from Sila–Nunam in the far-infrared was measured by the Herschel Space Telescope. As a result, its size, while it was assumed to be a single body, was estimated to lie within the range 250 to 420 km (155 to 260 mi). Now that it is known to be a binary system, one body 95% the size of the other, the diameters are estimated to be 243 and 230 kilometers (151 and 143 mi). Sila–Nunam is very red in visible light and has a flat featureless spectrum in the near-infrared.There are no water ice absorption bands in its near-infrared spectrum, which resembles that of Ixion. Sila–Nunam experiences periodic changes in brightness with the full period, which is equal to the orbital binary period. The light curve is double peaked with the secondary period equal to the half of the full period. The rotation of both components of the system is synchronously locked with the orbital motion and both bodies are elongated with their long axes pointing to each other. From 2009 to 2017 Sila–Nunam will experience mutual occultation events. Their albedo is about 9%. They orbit at a distance of 2,777 ± 19 km (1,726 ± 12 mi) every 12.51 days. Each has apparently been resurfaced with ejecta from impacts on the other.
The Myth: Sila was the Inuit god of the weather and of the animating life-force, frequently manifested as the winds, which were looked on as the “breathing of the world.” For this reason, he was also the deity governing the breathing of humans and animals, since breath flows like wind in and out of us all. The life force was said to come from Sila and flow back into Sila after death, and then, through the lesser deities, was eventually sent back into the world via reincarnation. Because singing, humming, and tale-spinning are also done with the breath Sila was also seen as the god of songs, tales, music and other creative inspiration. In addition, it was through him that shamans ultimately derived their powers. Intuitive warnings, especially on the part of children, were said to be the whisperings of Sila. The nagging of one’s conscience was also attributed to Sila. This god was said to be always with us but always far away. Sila sculpted the first humans from wet sand and breathed life into them. Bad weather like wind, blizzards, etc was caused by Sila punishing humanity for violating taboos and the God would inflict disease on anyone guilty of mistreating game animals. If someone suffering from disease was appealing to Sila to heal them they would need to abandon all their earthly possessions and go off in solitude. Once possessed of nothing but their “breath soul” Sila would consider healing them. Breath souls and the animating life force came from Sila, free souls from the goddesses Nunam, Pukimna and Sedna. Sila creates snow by carving walrus tusks, and the shavings fall to the Earth as snow. The few times Sila was depicted he was clean-shaven but with long, flowing hair. He wore his coat open, exposing his bare chest, signifying his imperviousness to the elements he commanded.
The Earth goddess of the Inuit pantheon and the wife of Sila, Nunam is often depicted wearing a coat that reaches to her knees and from which hang living miniatures of all land animals (except for caribou in some versions). Those miniatures are considered the free souls (as opposed to breath souls, which are the province of Sila) of those animals since land animal free souls flow from Nunam. Fur boots and bracelets completed her ensemble. In some traditions, Nunam was also said to be the source of free souls for trees and rocks, which, since they are not animate, did not have a corresponding breath soul. When the world was young, children grew directly from the ground like flowers growing from Nunam’s body. Since Inuit women did not yet have vaginas they obtained babies by going out and picking the ripe ones from the ground. Later, after the moon-god Tatqim created women’s vaginas, when the women next went out to “pick babies” the babies instead clung to the women’s ankles and climbed up their legs and into their new vaginas (showroom clean) where they took root and from then on babies emerged from that orifice. (So forget all that superstitious nonsense about sperm fertilizing eggs) Musk-oxen were said to have hatched from large eggs buried deep within Nunam’s body. At the dawn of time, Sila came down from the heavens and had intercourse with Nunam, producing a male called Kallak. Nunam then joined with Kallak, producing a daughter, whom Kallak took as a wife and the two spawned the Inuit people. In some myths, Nunam’s brothers are referred to as having been slain by her husband Sila.
Why They Matter: Sila-Nunam is severely misunderstood among asteroid astrologers, the few who are even aware of the binary. Jonathan Dunn associates Sila-Nunam astrologically with serene acceptance and easy-going decadence; ability to take ‘the long view’, good listener, “letting things just wash over you. A quick look at the source material shows us that interpretation just does not work (moreso, it’s just a bunch of word vomit- lots of talk, saying nothing) Zane Stein comes much closer, equating the pair to the “breath of life, chi/ki/prana, realizing that all things must breathe to live” and to be fair this is a perfectly valid interpretation- but not one that really lends itself to use in the chart, now is it?
Let’s go deeper with them, on the tangent of Zane Stein- I get a sense of deep need with these two, almost a desperation. These two are entirely codependent on each other, even more so than Venus and Mars. They NEED each other to live– the meeting point of Heaven and Earth, Life and Void, what is sustained and what withers. I would equate that to their real meaning in the chart: What you need to truly feel whole. This is very Chirotic, a need that cannot be filled from within, but one that you seek out in another. No man is an island, after all- least of all a God! This is similar to Salacia, but not quite the same- If Salacia is your heart’s true calling, then Sila-Nunam is what your heart aches for when it doesn’t have. Salacia takes you to another level beyond what you have but Sila-Nunam allows you to survive on the level you are. You can live without Salacia, but not Sila-Nunam. Negatively expressed this can lead to your classic codependence scenario, and if it is not equal or reciprocated then problems will present themselves quickly. Toxic relationships can be a hallmark of this TNO, as its placement can indicate what you are looking for in all of those failed pairings.
To find out where they show 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 79360, for Sila–Nunam. Once you have them entered, generate the chart! As with all of the Trans-Neptunian Objects, you look at the house position first, then apply that to the sign it is in.
Where does Sila–Nunam affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!