Pandora: Myth and Moon

Of all the moons in the solar system, the only one with a significant role to play in astrology is Earth's. Recent discoveries made about Saturn's moons, however, have the potential to add depth to the stories we tell about humanity's relationship with the ringed planet.  

 Saturn's Moons Mimas and Pandora, NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Saturn's Moons Mimas and Pandora, NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This image sent back by Cassini's Solstice Mission shows Saturn's moon Pandora as "elongated and irregular." Less than one quarter of the size of the other moon in the image, Mimas, Pandora is too small to create enough gravity to pull its own mass into a sphere.  

One theory about why this moon came to have its odd shape is that "Pandora’s elongated shape and low density...may have formed by gathering ring particles onto a dense core."

Those who know the myth of Pandora may hear echoes of it here. In the Greek myth, Pandora was the first human woman. Meant as punishment for Prometheus's gift of fire, Pandora was given a jar was full of evil that she released into the world. 

The connection between this Pandora myth and the traditional astrological interpretation of Saturn is chilling. In traditional astrology, Saturn is known as the Greater Malefic because of its association with evil and death. As the last known planet in the solar system for most of human history, it represented human limits. Wherever Saturn appeared in your chart was a place where you were destined to face blocks and trouble. 

In this reading of the symbols, one can see the moon Pandora as a metaphor for humanity, doomed to spend eternity orbiting the evil giant, collecting bits of space ash and returning them to the jar.

It is a beautiful story and bleak, but I don't think it is the only one.

I have never had the privilege of seeing Saturn through a telescope myself, but I've been told that it is a life changing experience. It's easy to see why. Even a cursory glimpse of the images we have are striking. No other planet in the solar system has such beautiful rings. 

There are hints in the historical record that in older versions of the myth, Pandora was not meant to be a curse on humanity but a blessing. Each of the gods gave her gifts. The last of them was her name given to her by Hermes: "All-Gifted." Her jar was full of gifts from the gods, as well. They were lost when a foolish man opened the box and released them. 

Astrologers say the stories we tell about the planets evolve as we evolve. Just like Pandora's story is beginning to change as we move away from stories about women as the root of evil, modern astrology no longer sees Saturn in such stark terms. A highly evolved Saturn can be a person's greatest ally. With work, the place where Saturn appears in the birth chart can be the place where we are the most diligent, stable, and mature.  

Likewise, Cassini's discoveries add weight to the older, kinder Pandora myths. If the going theory is right, and the moon is made of Saturn's rings, Pandora represents the best of the Saturn archetype, grounded and given form. She is a metaphor for the gathering phase of the creative process when we take what we've learned and begin to form it into art. 

That's how I like to think of Pandora: up there, the first of us, circling the stern god, gathering blessings.