“In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men.” -Cicero
Helios on Hygiea: Well, its about time I tackle one of the most complex asteroids in the belt. This week’s profile is an unsung hero who more than deserves her time in the spotlight.
The Astronomy: 10 Hygiea is the fourth-largest asteroid in the Solar System by volume and mass, and it is located in the asteroid belt. With somewhat oblong diameters of 350–500 kilometers (220–310 mi) and a mass estimated to be 2.9% of the total mass of the belt, it is the largest of the class of dark C-type asteroids with a carbonaceous surface. Hygiea was discovered on 12 April 1849 and has an orbital period of 5.57 years (2034.3 days). Based on the spectral evidence, Hygiea’s surface is thought to consist of primitive carbonaceous materials similar to those found in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. Aqueous alteration products have been detected on its surface, which could indicate the presence of water ice in the past which was heated sufficiently to melt. The primitive present surface composition would indicate that Hygiea had not been melted during the early period of Solar System formation, in contrast to other large planetesimals like 4 Vesta.
The Myth: In Greek as well as Roman mythology, Hygieia, was one of the Aeclepiadae; the sons and daughters of the god of medicine, Asclepius, and the goddess of healing, Epione. She was the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and hygiene. Hygieia as well as her four sisters each performed a facet of Apollo’s art: Hygieia; Panacea (the goddess of Universal remedy); Iaso (the goddess of recuperation from illness); Aceso (the goddess of the healing process); and Aglaïa (the goddess of beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment). Hygieia also played an important part in her father’s cult. While her father was more directly associated with healing, she was associated with the prevention of sickness and the continuation of good health. Her name is the source of the word “hygiene”. She was imported by the Romans as the goddess Valetudo, the goddess of personal health, but in time she started to be increasingly identified with the ancient Italian goddess of social welfare, Salus. She was often depicted as a young woman feeding a large snake that was wrapped around her body or drinking from a jar that she carried.
Why She Matters: Well, if you study asteroids at all, you will quickly come across Hygiea. And why not? We all wish for better health and better lives. That is exactly what Hygiea deals in. The daughter of the man (read: NOT a god) who cured death itself, and who treated the ailments of so many. Originally an aspect of Athena, she is truly her own unique goddess, and you could not ask for a better representation of Virgo. She deals with snakes, toxicity, and purification. She is one of the few goddesses who you can actually count on to do what she says, because she teaches us to do for ourselves rather than actually do it for us. Clean up your life and you will live better. Couldn’t be easier but sometimes these things are hard to see.
In the chart, she can mean a great many things: When afflicted, she can represent a point of ill health, but if you work with her and try to adjust your living to match what her position asks of you, you can find your constitution improving immensely. For instance, I have her in Pisces, and I have suffered from odd conditions and poor health for a long time, with no discernable disease or condition. This coalesced into a period where I was in and out of hospitals near daily, trying to figure out what was wrong with me- and trying to figure out my senior year of high school to boot! When you are wondering if your teeth will fall out and esophagus will collapse because you cannot keep food down, it makes things like dating, grades, and colleges seem inconsequential. I even underwent surgery to fix the problem, them blindly cutting out parts of me to try and discover the problem but I still live with it today. When I turned to more alternative cures out of sheer desperation (being a skeptic of all things non-scientific) I discovered a potential cure called Ayahuasca. Now it is the cool drug of chaos magicians, instacelebrities and other assorted milennials, but at the time no one had EVER heard of it. So I got on a plane and went to Peru with my passable Spanish and no real leads, but found someone to make it for me and show me how to do it myself. It nearly killed me, but it helped more than anything else ever had. Now I live better, but being completely cured is out of my reach, unfortunately. Still, I hold out hope.
Hygiea purifies you by helping you clear out the bullshit and see what truly matters, even if that reality is harsh and unpleasant. Her work is dirty, unglamourous, and often thankless- just ask any nurse- but it is necessary and important. Anyone truly looking to improve their life, quality of living, or health has an ally in Hygiea. She doesn’t just work with physical health either- working with her you will find that the toxic people in your life get purged as well, which greatly benefits your mental health.
To find out where she shows up in your chart, go to astro.com, put in your birth details and click on “extended options” on the next page. 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 10 for Hygiea. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Hygiea affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!