Shakespeare wrote that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but he knew better than that. He knew that language was built on sounds and root meanings, and connections between the names of things. A name will match the nature of the object in some way, or else we live in a nonsense world, though even in a nonsense world, such as Alice in Wonderland, there is some sense of rhyme and reason. It is human nature to link like things with like.
Planets have traditionally been assigned the names of various gods in the Greek and Roman world. Why? Because the gods were created to personify our human needs and functions, the portions of God we recognize within ourselves. Doing that also allows us to blame someone else for our follies. “Venus made me dance so erotically that night”….or ”it ’twas Mars who made me angry that day”.
At least as far back as 500 BC, learned men observed the 7 visible planets and noted their movements in the heavens, and then made predictions concerning the state of affairs in this world. For instance, a planet moving too close to the Sun, would be “burned up” by the Sun, and so that god might not think or execute plans efficiently (in the case of Mercury or Mars), and so neither would we.
Perhaps for hundreds of years prior to that, some observers noticed that planetary diagrams correlated to spiritual diagrams of ourselves, such as the Jewish Kabbalah, or certain Egyptian treatises. These diagrams, and words and letters, were considered sacred, holding vibrations which resonated in special ways with human nature.
Around the time of Jesus, at the time when the age of Aries was ending at 0 Aries, and the age of Pisces was beginning at 29 Pisces, astrologers began casting personal horoscopes for people who were not Kings and Queens. The division between rulers and the common folk was beginning to weaken, long before the age of the Enlightenment. Today we do horoscopes in much the same way, except now we use the outer planets. Well, some of us use the outer planets.
The discovery and the astrological uses of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were accompanied by burgeoning social awareness of psychology and spirituality, along with the pop-cultural expressions of the same, and the very real applications of electricity, photography, and nuclear power.
At some point before the discovery of Pluto, the naming of celestial bodies became self-conscious. The cataloguing of space objects could easily get out of hand, so the International Astronomers Union was established on July 28th 1919 in Brussels, Belgium, to manage and approve all further naming of newly spotted objects in space. Oddly, we continued to name celestial objects with the same intuitive nature that the ancients named them, with whatever is in our minds and dreams at the time.
An asteroid named Ceres discovered in 1801, which now might be considered a dwarf planet, means “cereal”, a shoe-in for the constellation Virgo, which was never a good fit with Mercury, anyway. However, few astrologers wish to change now. Libra, also, who has no partner of its own and shares Venus with Taurus, might have a better fit with the small planet Eris, but those are arguments suited for another blog.
Today, hundreds and hundreds of asteroids are given names, though most of them are only given numbers. I don’t use asteroids much, but I’ve noticed there is a congruence between their names and where they arrive. One day I saw that Pope Francis was born with asteroid Porta Coeli (“heaven’s gate”) conjunct to his Sun, with both the Sun and the asteroid at 25 Sagittarius near the center of our galaxy. I am personally a little suspicious of the Pope's sincerity, but I think that he was meant to have a significant role in the shaping of mankind at this critical time.
Galactic center seems to be a powerful place, and more to the point here, it has been said from olden times is one of the two “gates of heaven”. The other one aligns with Gemini and the constellations Ophiuchus and Orion (stacked up….the gates are tall!). To have the Sun at one of these gates at birth, and to also have the asteroid “heaven’s gate” in the same place really must merit some attention.
One of my pet peeves in life is that our sun’s name is Sun, and our moon’s name is Moon. The name of our planet also seems to mean nothing more than the element which is the dominant one for our planet. All very good and true, but rather boring. Wouldn’t it be fun if the scientists held a contest for the naming of our planet, our Sun, and our Moon? What names would you choose?