Asteroid Files: Jokaste

Helios on Jokaste
– Heretics, we live in a society…. And in those societies there are rules, written and unwritten, all of which that govern the behavior that we deem acceptable. Sometimes those rules land us in situations where following them and doing everything right leads to breaking them unintentionally. This is one of those times.

The Astronomy– 899 Jokaste is a minor planet orbiting the Sun. It was one of five minor planets included in the 1993 study, Transition Comets – UV Search for OH Emissions in Asteroids, which was research involving amateur astronomers who were permitted to make use of the Hubble Space Telescope. Not to be confused with Iocaste, a moon of Jupiter.

The Myth– In Greek mythology, Jocasta was a daughter of Menoeceus, a descendant of the Spartoi, and Queen consort of Thebes. She was the wife of first Laius, then of their son Oedipus, and both mother and grandmother of Antigone, Eteocles, Polynices, and Ismene. She was also the sister of Creon and mother-in-law of Haimon.

After his abduction and rape of Chrysippus, Laius married Jocasta. Laius received an oracle from Delphi which told him that he must not have a child with his wife, or the child would kill him and marry her; in another version, recorded by Aeschylus, Laius is warned that he can only save the city if he dies childless. One night, Laius became drunk and fathered Oedipus with Jocasta.

Jocasta handed the newborn infant over to Laius. Jocasta or Laius pierced and pinned the infant’s ankles together. Laius instructed his chief shepherd, a slave who had been born in the palace, to expose the infant on Mount Cithaeron. Laius’s shepherd took pity on the infant and gave him to another shepherd in the employ of King Polybus of Corinth. Childless, Polybius and his Queen, Merope, raised the infant to adulthood.

Oedipus grew up in Corinth under the assumption that he was the biological son of Polybus and his wife. Hearing rumors about his parentage, he consulted the Delphic Oracle. Oedipus was informed by the Oracle that he was fated to kill his father and to marry his mother. Fearing for the safety of the only parents known to him, Oedipus fled from Corinth before he could commit these sins. During his travels, Oedipus encountered Laius on the road. After a heated argument regarding right-of-way, Oedipus killed Laius, unknowingly fulfilling the first half of the prophecy. Oedipus continued his journey to Thebes and discovered that the city was being terrorized by the Sphinx. Oedipus solved the Sphinx‘s riddle, and the grateful city elected Oedipus as its new king. Oedipus accepted the throne and married Laius’ widowed queen Jocasta, fulfilling the second half of the prophecy. Jocasta bore him four children: two girls, Antigone and Ismene, and two boys, Eteocles and Polynices.

Differing versions exist concerning the latter part of Jocasta’s life. In the version of Sophocles, when his city was struck by a plague, Oedipus learned that it was divine punishment for his patricide and incest. Hearing this news, Jocasta hanged herself, but in the version told by Euripides, Jocasta endured the burden of disgrace and continued to live in Thebes, only committing suicide after her sons killed one another in a fight for the crown. In both traditions Oedipus gouges out his eyes; Sophocles has Oedipus go into exile with his daughter Antigone, but Euripides and Statius have him residing within Thebes’ walls during the war between Eteocles and Polynices.

Why She Matters– Christ, what a raw deal this woman got. Sure, I’m betting the years where it was just her and Laius were fine enough, but that isn’t what we’re here for. Jokaste in the chart is where we do all of the right things we can- but still end up getting it wrong. Jokaste followed the rules, and did everything that she was expected to- she satisfied her husband when he needed it, and then allowed him to make the decision on her child. She obeyed the rules of the time and married the hero who saved her city, a personal sacrifice for the greater good, without knowing that he was her son. Her obedience to the men in her life cost her dearly in the end, however.

What did Jokaste want? What were her needs, her desires? We don’t really know, because in this tale she is a plit device and a foil for the men, nothing more- which annoys me. Therefore it tracks that Jokaste in the chart is a point where your own desires are subsumed in service of others and their goals. This can take many forms, and I doubt many will go as far as Jokaste did in the story. She is a point where we listen to the counsel of others without following the directions of our heart. She is a failure to stand on our own two feet, but a place where you let others be in charge of your destiny. There are also shades of repressed feminine sexuality (the example in the story being an extreme negative manifestation of this, of course) but I would have to do much more research on this before calling that. In fact, my gut is telling me she’d rather be with Sappho than Oedipus ever again (as in a marker for lesbianism). Again, much more research is needed before ill die on THAT hill.

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 899, for Jokaste. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Jokaste affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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