Apophis

Is a lethal asteroid headed for our planet?  Does the world as we know it end in 2029 or 2036?

In April 2008, one of many distractions on the way to financial crisis was a story about a 13 year old amateur astronomer in Germany who allegedly had discovered that the risk of a particular large asteroid hitting the Earth was a hundred times worse than previously reported. The story was later debunked, although in such cases we are left with inevitable whispers: the debunking is a lie told to avoid worldwide panic.  According to professional astronomers the likelihood of impact has grown less at each stage of measurement.  At the moment the odds are 250,000 to 1. The odds that any one of us might be struck by lightning during our lifetimes are 5000 to 1.  Still, the odds can change, and even though the odds are about 132,000 to 1 of dying in an earthquake, more than 67,000 people were killed by one in China in 2008.  So I have decided to heed a request to look at the astrology of Apophis.

The scientists chose a name that certainly captured the worst potential of the threat. Apophis was the ancient Greek name for Apep the Uncreator, the ancient Egyptian deity of darkness.  Not chaos, the province of Set.  Not the blinding order and unity surpassing understanding of the world of Ra or Sekhmet, usually spelled Sakhmet by modern historians.  This darkness is absolute non-being, the vacuum of non-existence, except that even by naming it we give it more order and being than it has.  Here is Freud’s thanatos, or death wish, writ cosmic!  The ultimate end of entropy in the dissolution of all light into nothingness.  A world of undifferentiated stasis without potential.  Asteroid 99942, formerly known as 2004MN4, is a good symbol for Apophis, whom the ancient Egyptians usually depicted as a great serpent.  Apophis, the world swallowing ultimate God of death, was held at bay by two opponents, strangely enemies themselves.

In the mythology of Osiris as the boat of the Gods enters into the world of night Apophis tries to swallow it down to end all creation.  All the Gods fear this monster except Set, a god of chaos, a god born in the earliest days of Egypt in a city famous as the first to value gold. As ancient Egypt evolved, Set became a lethal trickster along the lines of the Norse Loki.  He became God of the desert always threatening to take back the fragile fertile lands near the Nile.  He became God of foreign armies.  A Judas who murdered Osiris then lied about it.  Some consider him the prototype for Satan, but Set did not have purely evil intentions.  Set was capable of mercy and of good acts, more like the Algonquin god of shamans Cheepi.  The god of chaos steps forward every night to save creation by slaying Apophis.  He brags about it, too, annoying the other gods.

In another ancient Egyptian myth every night a golden spotted cat uses a knife to lop off Apep’s head.  The ancient Egyptians were acutely aware of the service cats provide by so skillfully killing vermin. The cat is the goddess Sekhmet often depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness.

Who arrived first in ancient Egyptian myth? Ra the sun god or Ptah the creator?  Sekhmet or Set?  Ra was said to be the father of Sekhmet, she was the eye of Ra, manifested by him to punish injustice.  Ptah was her consort in the holy trinity of Memphis, the first great city of ancient Egypt.  Ptah made the world out of clay, breathing life into the pots that are the teeming forms of our world; this myth represents a culture that has evolved beyond the hunter gatherer stage.  Ra the sun may be the earliest of all.

Except that Sekhmet the lioness, also the sun, could date back to Sudanese female warrior cults, making her a primal totem of tribal shamanism.  Her name derives from the ancient Egyptian word for power.  Invincible was often attached to her name.  She is the prototype for the Hindu goddess Durga who rides on a tiger, both are warriors for justice, called on by the gods to defeat mighty foes. Like Sekhmet, Durga had another face, a so called sister goddess.  For Durga it was beautiful Parvati, wife of Shiva.  For Sekhmet it is Bast, the domesticated black cat, or Hathor, the ancient Egyptian goddess most like the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite.

Eventually Sekhmet and Set were depicted as enemies in an endless war.  Sekhmet fighting for order, healing, purification, and Set devoted to suffering, to decay, and the unraveling of creation.  Some say in the true form of the myth Set stands between Sekhmet and Apep, for if either of them won the eternal war being would stop, perfected or dissolved, depending on the victor.  Is this myth some form of ancient Egyptian chaos theory?  Chaos (Set) defends the creation from non being because chaos stands between the absolute emptiness of non-existence (Apep) and the absolute fullness of the power of total order (Sekhmet).  Chaos is the soap bubble where colors play between the extinguishing water and evaporating sun, allowing miraculous moments to occur in the play of extremes.

The mythology of the Memphis triad is a fascinating study.  This ancient Egyptian trinity provides better role models than the male only Catholic version.  Ptah is a mostly happy creator god making endless works of art into which he breathes his adoration for his wonderful wife Sekhmet.  She is fierce and deadly as the desert, terrifyingly true and honest, pestilence is her displeasure, annihilation is her policy when disrespected.  Her idea of a good time is walking around in the hot blast of the desert wind in the body of a great lioness.  Yet she is a healer, and libraries are sacred to her.  For centuries in Egypt her name was the word for doctor and her priests were practitioners of practical and magical medicine.  She was also a goddess of intoxication, music, and erotic pleasure, her gift after victory.  On her feast day huge festivals of red beer, music and erotic adventure would last all night to be followed at dawn by mass prayers.

The priestesses of Bubastis, the city of the cat goddess Bast, were famed for flashing onlookers at festivals.  They said they were imitating the goddess who did the same to cheer up the gloom of her consort.  As any artist will tell you there is no better way to come to life after getting too obsessed with your work!

The worship of Sekhmet in modern times was given inspiration by a book by Robert Masters.  Masters having become with his wife Jean Houston a leader of the new consciousness movement stunned many when he claimed direct inspiration from the goddess herself and the birth of a new mystery school.  He detailed visualization exercises heavily influenced by neurosemantics.  Then Sekhmet became popular in vampire culture as mother of all vampires, based on a misunderstanding of both the red silt coloration of the Nile during its yearly flood, and of the myth wherein Sekhmet drinks her fill not of blood but of pomegranate mixed with beer.  A goddess utterly forgotten for many centuries is suddenly available as incense and in various other forms on Ebay.  She has a temple in Nevada, and a black metal band named after her in the Czech Republic.

I find it poignant that the asteroid Apophis hurdles toward us at a time when lions are facing extinction in the wild due to the stockpiling of deadly pesticides in Africa, outlawed pesticides dumped there by greedy corporations.  Set never rests.

Now let’s take a quick look at the astrology of 2029 and 2036.  2029 enjoys a protective sextile of Neptune in Aries to Pluto in Aquarius.  Uranus in Gemini trines Pluto.  There is a square from Pluto to Saturn.  A difficult Pluto Saturn aspect would be one indication of catastrophic damage to the Earth.  But the supportive trine from Uranus and sextile from Neptune suggest the astronomers are correct and there is no real danger at that time.  But what about 2036 when Apophis comes around again for another fly by?

2036 is a little scarier.  The year begins with a tight opposition of Pluto in Aquarius to Saturn in Leo. Pluto opposition Saturn could describe an asteroid hitting the Earth.  But Neptune is still supporting Pluto with that harmonious sextile.  Uranus in Cancer inconjunct Pluto is potentially destructive, suggesting that there is at least more concern this time around.  But one would expect to see harder aspects from Uranus, especially to Saturn, symbolizing the disruption of geology.  One would expect a difficult aspect from Neptune symbolizing the panic in mass consciousness.  Looking at this chart my feeling is that the astronomers are not lying.  Looks like Apophis will miss the Earth.  However Apophis brings a warning to be heeded that someday the technology will be needed to deal with what is a very real threat if we intend a long survival of our species on this planet.

These mass waves of fear happen almost every year.  Fear of a pandemic, fear of nuclear holocaust, fear of an asteroid, sun flares scorching the Earth, magnetic eruptions obliterating all electronics. Certainly any of them could happen.  The spirit or whatever it was that spoke with such great wisdom through the apparently sleeping police mechanic (see the post The Police Mechanic) chuckled about these panics. He said human beings are terribly guilty and envious creatures.  We want so badly to be punished, not individually but collectively, for all our wrong doing and wrong thinking.  Many people of many religions and without religion find a perverse pleasure anticipating apocalypses.  It’s one of the formulas for a blockbuster movie.

We are projecting our own destructiveness.  Species go extinct around us; we fill the oceans with enormous islands of deadly tangled plastic and refuse, poisoning our water with industrial waste and pharmaceutical chemicals, and our soil with pesticide and genetically modified plants that reproduce with monstrous destruction to native flora and fauna, to mention only a few of a myriad examples.  No wonder we like to imagine nature’s ultimate revenge on our disregard for the sacred web of life.  Is it easier to wallow in melancholy anxiety than it is to rapidly evolve a society capable of preserving for future generations what we have not yet destroyed?