TNO Watch: Eris

Helios on Eris– So, somehow in my accounting of the Transneptunians, I managed to overlook the biggest, most prolific of them all (however not the first to be discovered past Pluto!)- Eris! Now I can’t rightly finish off the archive without her, now can I? So without further ado, let me formally welcome back the most controversial dwarf planet back into the party!

Gird your loins, y’all

The Astronomy– Eris is the most massive and second-largest (by volume) dwarf planet (and plutoid) known in the Solar System. Eris was discovered in January 2005, and in September 2006 it was named after Eris, the Greek goddess of strife and discord. Eris is the ninth most massive object directly orbiting the Sun, and the 16th most massive overall, because seven moons are more massive than all known dwarf planets. It is also the largest which has not yet been visited by a spacecraft. Eris was measured to be 2,326 ± 12 kilometers (1,445.3 ± 7.5 mi) in diameter. Eris’s mass is about 0.27% of the Earth mass, about 27% more than dwarf planet Pluto, although Pluto is slightly larger by volume.

Eris is a trans-Neptunian object (TNO) and a member of a high-eccentricity population known as the scattered disk. It has one known moon, Dysnomia. As of February 2016, its distance from the Sun was 96.3 astronomical units (1.441×1010 km; 8.95×109 mi), roughly three times that of Pluto. With the exception of some long-period comets, until 2018 VG18 was discovered on December 17, 2018, Eris and Dysnomia were the most distant known natural objects in the Solar System.[

Because Eris appeared to be larger than Pluto, NASA initially described it as the Solar System’s tenth planet. This, along with the prospect of other objects of similar size being discovered in the future, motivated the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term planet for the first time. Under the IAU definition approved on August 24, 2006, Eris is a “dwarf planet”, along with objects such as Pluto, Ceres, Haumea and Makemake thereby reducing the number of known planets in the Solar System to eight, the same as before Pluto’s discovery in 1930. Observations of a stellar occultation by Eris in 2010 showed that its diameter was 2,326 ± 12 kilometers (1,445.3 ± 7.5 mi), very slightly less than Pluto, which was measured by New Horizons in July 2015.

The MythEris is the Greek goddess of strife and discord. The most famous tale of Eris recounts her initiating the Trojan War by causing the Judgement of Paris. The goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite had been invited along with the rest of Olympus to the forced wedding of Peleus and Thetis, who would become the parents of Achilles, but Eris had been snubbed because of her troublemaking inclinations.

She, therefore (as mentioned at the Kypria according to Proclus as part of a plan hatched by Zeus and Themis) tossed into the party the Apple of Discord, a golden apple inscribed Ancient Greek: τῇ καλλίστῃ, “For the most beautiful one”, or “To the Fairest One” – provoking the goddesses to begin quarreling about the appropriate recipient. The hapless Paris, Prince of Troy, was appointed to select the fairest by Zeus. The goddesses stripped naked to try to win Paris’s decision and also attempted to bribe him. Hera offered political power; Athena promised infinite wisdom; and Aphrodite tempted him with the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. While Greek culture placed a greater emphasis on prowess and power, Paris chose to award the apple to Aphrodite, thereby dooming his city, which was destroyed in the war that ensued.

Another story of Eris includes Hera and the love of Polytekhnos and Aedon. They claimed to love each other more than Hera and Zeus were in love. This angered Hera, so she sent Eris to wreak discord upon them. Polytekhnos was finishing off a chariot board, and Aedon a web she had been weaving. Eris said to them, “Whosoever finishes thine task last shall have to present the other with a female servant!” Aedon won. But Polytekhnos was not happy by his defeat, so he came to Khelidon, Aedon’s sister, and raped her. He then disguised her as a slave, presenting her to Aedon. When Aedon discovered this was indeed her sister, she chopped up Polytekhnos’s son and fed him to Polytekhnos. The gods were not pleased, so they turned them all into birds.

Eris has been adopted as the patron deity of the modern Discordian religion, which was begun in the late 1950s by Gregory Hill and Kerry Wendell Thornley under the pen names of “Malaclypse the Younger” and “Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst”. The Discordian version of Eris is considerably lighter in comparison to the rather malevolent Graeco-Roman original, wherein she is depicted as a positive (albeit mischievous) force of chaotic creation.

A quote from the Principia Discordia, the first holy book of Discordianism, attempts to clear up the matter:

One day Mal-2 consulted his Pineal Gland and asked Eris if She really created all of those terrible things. She told him that She had always liked the Old Greeks, but that they cannot be trusted with historical matters. “They were,” She added, “victims of indigestion, you know.”

Suffice it to say that Eris is not hateful or malicious. But she is mischievous and does get a little bitchy at times.

The story of Eris being snubbed and indirectly starting the Trojan War is recorded in the Principia and is referred to as the Original Snub. The Principia Discordia states that her parents may be as described in Greek legend, or that she may be the daughter of Void. She is the Goddess of Disorder and Being, whereas her sister Aneris (called the equivalent of Harmonia by the Mythics of Harmonia) is the goddess of Order and Non-Being. Their brother is Spirituality.

Discordian Eris is looked upon as a foil to the preoccupation of western philosophy in attempting to find order in the chaos of reality, in prescribing order to be synonymous with truth. Discordian Eris teaches us that the only truth is chaos and that order and disorder are simply temporary filters applied to the lenses through which we view the chaos. This is known as the Aneristic Illusion.

Why She Matters– Okay, its no secret that Eris is fantastic and I love her. Yes, Eris is chaos, but you know what? So is life. You can try and plan and make things nice and neat, but then the Universe comes through like a toddler who just learned how to walk, hellbent on getting to the other side of the room- consequences be damned. Eris is that universal action. Make no mistake, she is a destroyer and lives for the battlefield, but she also loves to dance, finding the beat in the deaths of men clamoring to prove that they are right to unseen forces (but most of all, themselves). If Mars ever did drag, she would look like Eris (and you bet your ass there would be death drops and shablams like you’ve never seen before!)

When people (read: hecklers) try to come at me with proof that astrology works (but who don’t have their birth time handy for me to utterly eviscerate them) I point to Eris. I remember when she was discovered, and the excitement that her unveiling brought to all of us. And then I remember, quite vividly, the fallout from the IAU decision after she was named but then relegated to dwarf planet status. It was a repeat of the Judgement of Paris myth! She was snubbed, yet again, by the authority, and Pluto was caught up in the fallout as collateral damage just because she was bigger than him (men and size issues, amirite?). And the authority paid for it in the end! Even total luddites who don’t follow the whirling and twirling of the planets (dwarf or otherwise) have a strong opinion about the decision. It made people care about these crazy space rocks, which brings me great happiness.

We aren’t all running around fighting all the time in this modern age, so how do we look at Eris now? A primal force of chaos doesn’t really mesh with our modern sensibilities- or does it? One of the more enlightening views on Eris comes when we consider her in terms of Justice, especially against any kind of oppressive authority. This can be seen in almost every major social movement to demand better treatment, to deny an oppressive ruling class its ability to exploit those below it- Stonewall, May Day, Ferguson, Rodney King, The Arab Spring…. Hell, even the Boston Tea Party! Eris is that urge we feel to stand our ground and refuse to roll over to the bad guys. Eris is the urge to fight for our rights. Yes, it can get violent- but better short violence that changes things for the better than the long, slow violence of inaction. Far better to live boldly and bravely.

More commonly though, Eris spurs us on to fight with our racist uncles on Facebook or send petty gifs in the group chats calling out our friends for being slutty… but like, in an endearing way. In fact you could solidly call Eris the Goddess of Shade. Hey, not every action can be a revolutionary one after all- sometimes you just want to get brunch with your girls.

Eris isnt just Chaos, by the way- she also represents Strife. More specifically, what you are striving for. What do you want out of this life? If you are lost, look to Eris and she can help you find your way when you’ve lost it. Mind you, you’ll be in for a HELL of a trip with her (more Thelma and Louise than Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas- That’s solidly Arawn territory) and you might not survive, but at least you’ll know!

Now, we all have all of these planets and asteroids SOMEWHERE in our chart, so in you is the seed of chaos- even the most holier-than-thou Libra. As with all of the Transneptunians, look at her house placement, not necessarily the sign, to see her effect.

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 136199, for Eris. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Eris affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Sona says:

    Ha, I have Eris on my Sun/Moon midpoint in 3rd house Aries. Squaring my Eros/my boyfriend´s Juno in Cancer. And conjunct my boyfriend´s Eros in Aries. When muddly emotions don´t get in the way too much, it is ..well, pretty primal stuff.

  • David Henry says:

    This is a much kinder view of Eris than I expected, given the disasters she is said to have created. Her hardness of heart for the suffering caused is something I can chalk up to the Greek storytelling vibe.

    But I think you ignore her slyness and calculating nature. Is that just healthy pragmatism in the spirit of standing up for oneself? Hard for me to jump to that. Would be interested in your thoughts.

    By the way, the input boxes below this texting space seem to be malfunctioning and VERY confusing. You probably loose a lot of comments because of it.

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