Pallas Athena brings out the champion in all of us
Pallas Athena asks us- what will you fight for? This asteroid can be an important tool in understanding our astrological story.
As marginalised populations work to rise through repression and there’s a persistent dichotomous environment continuing to ferment and fester, Pallas’ message is important. The asteroid can be an incredible key into vocational astrology, especially for those searching for meaning through their work. But, Pallas also shows us what it is we will champion and how we’ll approach the challenges we choose to take on.
Pallas Athena differs from Mars in that Mars is the drive within us, it charges us forward. Without a driving force, Mars just goes, often for the sake of simply expending its energy. Pallas is a warrior, like Mars, but doesn’t take up a fight just for the sake of the battle, there has to be a cause, something to work towards. Pallas Athena is a warrior with a cause.
In the most well-known iterations, Pallas Athena’s birth story remains consistent. Zeus impregnates Metis. While Metis is pregnant it is prophesised that a child born of Metis and fathered by Zeus would be wiser than Zeus and take his throne. To keep this from happening, Zeus eats Metis while she is pregnant with Pallas. There are a few versions of Pallas Athena’s birth, but all of them involve Zeus being wracked with a raging headache followed by someone assisting in the easing of his pain. A popular version involves a companion taking a double-edged axe to Zeus’s head, which releases a full grown, battle clad, goddess — enter Pallas Athena.
To the Greeks and Romans, Pallas Athena (Minerva) was the Goddess of Wisdom and Strategy. She was a protectress, a goddess of arts and crafts and social sciences.
The Pallas asteroid was discovered on 28 March 1802 by the German philosopher and physician, Wilhelm Olbers, who also discovered Ceres, in Bergen, Norway. In the chart of Pallas’s discover, I have used 11pm, though the time is actually unknown, therefore disregard house placement. Pallas itself was at twenty-nine degrees of Virgo and moving retrograde at its discovery (see Chart 1). The asteroid is largely unaspected. It’s noteworthy that Pallas makes no significant aspects to the planet that represents her father in mythology — Jupiter. Their only aspect is a wide applying quincunx to Mars (150-degree aspect).
Jupiter is moving away from Pallas, while Pallas moves towards Jupiter, which represents the denial and separation from the father — note that both of these heavenly spheres are retrograde. The quincunx to Mars in Aquarius implies an awkward relationship to the masculine archetype and a need for adjustment in terms of gender roles and established beliefs about a gender binary reality. The Pallas/Mars relationship informs us of a need to make changes in social constructs around drive and ambition, gender roles, social justice and breaking from traditional ideologies — in theory, planets in Aquarius have a live-and-let-live ideology.
The Sun is conjunct Venus in Aries in the Pallas chart, which is strong symbolism for Pallas as a warrior, a champion and a lone wolf. Venus is an evening star giving an added layer of idealism, but, with Venus being combust, the symbolism of the myth echoed here is of identity or autonomy being taken away from the female archetype (Sun representing identity and Venus being female).
The Moon is in Aquarius emphasising a humanitarian flavour, echoing Mars in Aquarius. The Moon has an emotional connection to humanitarian ideals, while Mars in Aquarius will fight for that cause. Both of these placements speak to an intellectual resonance and strength.
Saturn opposes Pluto, representing the need for a transformation in the social structure of gender restrictions and social oppression: there’s a need to find a productive middle ground. The Saturn/Pluto aspect highlights a conflict between power and structure. Neptune is forming a fixed T-square to Jupiter opposing Mars. Neptune’s influence may dissolve the fixity and restriction of social roles based on sex and gender, among other things. Having Jupiter in Leo conjunct fixed-star Regulus represents status, wealth and religious superiority. With that dynamic opposing the humanitarian fight of Mars in Aquarius, the T-square from Neptune shows the potential to break down the barriers of socio-economic constraints, and points to advocacy against bias based on culture, race or beliefs.
The Moon in Aquarius applies to form an air trine with Uranus, indicating incredible intellect, and echoes the problem-solving and pattern-finding acumen stated in Pallas’s myth. In a natal chart, this particular combination may represent an affinity to astrology. The ruler of Pallas itself is Mercury in Pisces, which is another indicator of pattern-finding Virgo, its opposite sign, but also intuition and divination, as Mercury in Pisces tends to like to communicate energetically rather than verbally.
The Moon is quincunx Saturn and is separating. This may highlight an underlying discomfort creating a need to adjust our ideas around masculine and feminine roles, but also of moving away from prescribed social structures towards a more Uranian ideal of free individuality, taking power out of all social constructs.
Pluto in Pisces indicates altruism for all people. The opposition to Saturn highlights a need for balance between a utopian, boundless, love frenzy and a never-ending structure developed on details and fault finding. Somewhere in the middle lives a healthy and supportive society creating the perfect environment built on healing and unconditional love.
Pallas through the signs
Pallas in Aries is the warrior leading the charge — the athlete, the initiator and perhaps the instigator. If challenged, they’re not likely to back down. This is the marching political activist leading others to fight for what they believe in: Billie Jean King and Betty Friedan.
Pallas in Taurus is acutely aware of the physical world. Pallas is sensual and reacts viscerally to what socially impassions it. Pallas here fights for the physical — our bodies, property and belongings, the tangible and valuable: Vijay Singh and Luce Irigaray.
Pallas in Gemini is the debater and writer, using words to express their ideas around social issues and injustices. This is the verbal warrior manifestation of Pallas: William F Buckley.
Pallas in Cancer is the emotional warrior. Empathy guides them into battle. If emotionally charged, they’ll fight for the underdog, the unprotected or underrepresented. Often concerned with home, country and children: Pamela Anderson and John Stewart.
Pallas in Leo is the dramatist, expressing and fighting by creating dramatic stories or experiences — impressing the importance of the situation onto others. Through their creative vision they can demonstrate their political ideas and make unpalatable issues acceptable to the general populace: Margaret Atwood and George Orwell
Pallas in Virgo is able to see the smallest parts and put them together, making them accessible and useful. Pallas asks us to live up to our highest expectations of ourselves, and others are presumed to do the same. She leads by example and is comfortable going solo: Simone de Beauvoir and Oprah Winfrey.
Pallas in Libra fights for balance, equality and fairness. Wanting to bring opposing ideas together, she is the warrior for justice. Here Pallas wants everyone to receive equal treatment and rights: Hellen Gurley Brown and Ida B Wells
Pallas in Scorpio wants to dig down to the root of the problem — investigates and eradicates what’s not working. Pallas in Scorpio can become obsessive about people’s secrets and protecting their own. Mystery solver and problem fixer: Gillian Triggs and Cesar Chavez.
Pallas in Sagittarius sees the bigger picture and is socially idealistic, fighting for truth and ideological unity. This asteroid’s influence wants everyone to see the big picture and aim to make it better. It’s dynamic and can rally support or it will go hoarse trying: Timothy Conigrave and Edith Rigby.
Pallas in Capricorn carries the mark of authority when taking up a cause. Develops expertise so they can create change from the inside, or they might have a political message in their personal branding. Pallas in Capricorn is also able to monetise through their social causes and is interested in creating change to social and political structures: Zelda D’Aprano, Malala Yousafzai and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Pallas in Aquarius is the humanitarian. Here, Pallas fights for the underdog and is willing to start a revolution. In Aquarius, the asteroid allows us to see into the future and steer our causes in a direction that creates a better future for everyone: Martin Luther King Jr and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Pallas in Pisces is the visionary and idealist. There’s a spiritual ideology to this Pallas placement that the person is willing to fight for. Demetra George calls this “the enlightened warrior putting up a non-violent resistance.” The causes of this Pallas placement can often (but not always) be driven by religious ideologies and are fuelled by a need to protect those who can’t protect themselves: Rosie Batty, Princess Diana, Prince Harry, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa.
In a nativity
Chart conditions that amplify Pallas Athena energy are: having the asteroid angular, strong aspects to personal planets; or Pallas making a strong aspect to its own ruler and/or Pluto. These can show a signature of humanitarian activism. An active transit of Pallas, for example, Pallas transiting an angle or activating an existing chart configuration, can trigger activism or highlight it in the person’s life.
Pallas in Action
Pallas in Aries is the athlete, the pioneer and the trailblazer. Billie Jean King is an excellent example of this Pallas archetype. Her chart (Chart 2) demonstrates she has Pallas in Aries in the 2nd House opposing the Moon and Neptune in Libra in her 8th House. At the age of 29, Billie Jean took on the mission to improve pay and conditions in women’s tennis, bringing them closer to their male counterparts. In an effort to have their demands recognised, she agreed to participate in a Battle of the Sexes match with Bobby Riggs. King accepted the challenge when Pallas was rising to her Midheaven by transit, and beat Riggs shortly after Pallas had passed over it. The Pallas conjunction to the MC is the strongest aspect to the Midheaven, and Pluto transiting the 8th House, opposing her natal Pallas, speaks loudly to the transformation in her career and the face of women’s sports.
Shortly after King beat Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes match, she became the first president of the women’s tennis players union and, in 1974, founded the Women’s Sports Foundation. This could all be undertaken with an investment from her husband. The themes of value, wages, and the spouse’s money, are also a significant component to her Pallas story and the 2nd and 8th House oppositions.
Ida B Wells was an investigative journalist, teacher and leader in the United States early in the civil rights movement. She spent most of her adult life fighting racism, sexism and violence against African Americans. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). I did not have a time of birth, so I used a noon time.
Pallas completes a cardinal T-square with an opposition to Wells’s Moon, Neptune and Mars in Aries, while Mercury in Cancer is at the apex of the aspect pattern. While Mars is the final dispositor of her natal chart, the opposition to Pallas in Libra square Mercury in Cancer gives her Mars placement meaning and purpose.
On 4 May 1884, on a train travelling from Memphis to Nashville Tennessee, the direction of Ida B Wells’s life changed forever. Ida purchased a first-class ticket on the women’s car, having every right to be there. The conductor told her to move to the car relegated for the African American passengers. Upon refusal, she was forcibly removed from the train. She sued the train company and won — though the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court. This experience sparked her to write about issues of race and injustice, altering the trajectory of her life.
Wells’s chart shows the transits for the day of her fateful train ride. Pallas is conjunct Pluto, and Mercury in Gemini forms sextiles and trines to her natal Pallas/Mars opposition, while transiting Venus at zero Cancer is square her natal Moon, lighting up her entire natal T-square. Having Mercury, natally and by transit, involved while natal Pallas and transiting Pallas are triggering Moon and Mars in Aries — writing to fight against inequality is an example of being an activist for the fairness and treatment of women and African Americans. Pluto moving through the beginning degrees of Gemini — transformation through the sharing of ideas and the written word — triggered Ida’s natal T-square for nearly seven years, entrenching these revolutionary energies into her life path.
These particular women are remarkable manifestations of Pallas’s ideals. In natal astrology, it can bring an extra layer to a chart when considering questions of purpose and ideologies. I’ve witnessed clients gain a great deal of relief by actively working with causes that hold a great deal of meaning for them, helping through what could have been devastating transits and transitions. I look forward to witnessing where the asteroid’s message takes us in the future and I encourage you to explore Pallas in your own nativity.