Asteroid Sisyphus

Pic76Asteroid Sisyphus was discovered on the 5th December 1972 at 02:28 by Paul Wild at Zimmerwald observatory in Bern, Switzerland. The largest of the Apollo asteroids, Sisyphus is an Earth-crosser meaning that it’s passage through the sky takes it through Earth’s orbit.

There is no suggestion currently that this could mean a collision! The orbital period of Sisyphus is 952 days or roughly 2.6 years. It is thought that Earth-crossing asteroids originated in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. They were then nudged into a different orbit by the gravitation pull of Jupiter.

The Mythological Figure
Sisyphus was an arrogant King with a devious mind and given to flouting the rules of the Gods. In one part of his story, he persuaded river God Asopus to do him a favour. Zeus had taken a liking to Aegina (daughter of Asopus) and abducted her. Sisyphus betrayed Zeus and told Asopus where to find his daughter in exchange for the river God providing a spring in the Acropolis.

Zeus was furious when he found out and sent Thanatos (God of Death) to chain Sisyphus in Tarturus (the Greek equivalent of Hell). Sisyphus however tricked Thanatos, asking him how the chains worked so that he could capture the God of Death. Ares, God of War, wasn’t at all happy that no one was dying in the battles he started, so he freed Thanatos and re-captured Sisyphus.

Sisyphus still wasn’t done with his trickery. Before his death, he told his wife to throw his body in the public square instead of burying him as she should. His wife did what she was told not knowing that her husband was actually testing her love for him. Sisyphus was outraged and persuaded the underworld Gods to release him so he could admonish his wife for doing such a terrible thing, promising to return. The Gods relented and let him go back to the upper world but of course Sisyphus had no intention of returning to the lower worlds. Back in the world with all it’s beauty and possibilities, Sisyphus wanted to stay. In the end, Hermes was given the job of retrieving him.

As punishment for his arrogance towards the Gods, Zeus charged Sisyphus with the task of rolling a boulder up to the top of a hill. Whenever he neared to top, the boulder would roll back down again at which point Sisyphus had to climb back down and start all over again. This was his punishment for eternity.

On the face of it, it seems that Sisyphus deserved his punished. He wasn’t a good man after all! But there is something about his punishment that turns my blood cold. If I imagine being in his position, I experience a deep sense of emptiness.

Finding Meaning in the Story
The story of Sisyphus has many depths. Essentially, his greatest crime was to try to cheat death. In fact, by chaining Thanatos, Sisyphus was attempting to kill death itself. Not once but twice, Sisyphus tried to outwit death, refusing the inevitable end that comes to us all. It is fitting then that his final punishment was to ensure an existence without change and without end.

On a deeper level still, perhaps the story of Sisyphus touches us, because woven within this tale is an underlying sense of meaninglessness. Sisyphus’s task is utterly pointless. Sometimes, in our own darkest hours, we wonder why. What’s the point? What does it all mean? Sometimes we too find ourselves on a treadmill repeating wake up, go to work, come home, clean the house, feed the kids, sleep, wake up, go to work, come home…

And in these dark hours, we might find meaning in our faith or spirituality –
sensing that there’s a meaning that will one day be revealed to us when we pass over to the other side. But Sisyphus has passed over. He is on the other side – and it’s still meaningless. Can you imagine the horror that there is nothing more, that there is no meaning to any of it? This is one of the questions raised by the myth of Sisyphus.

Sisyphus in the Chart
In the astrological chart, Sisyphus may reveal where we have a tendency to
repeatedly make the same mistakes or become stuck in the same pattern through fear of change. The more you fight to hold on, the heavier the burden becomes until it pushes you back to the beginning again and the cycle repeats.

Life becomes monotonous without change. Ares, the Greek equivalent of Mars, is rightfully outraged when Death is chained up. We need challenge. If we have no goals, no passion, no motivation – life becomes very stagnant.

But in all this, there is a little piece of us that might admire Sisyphus for his
outright refusal to accept death and for his ability to repeat a task that is doomed to fail for all time. In him we see the try, try and try again attitude that is a distinct feature of humanity. Somehow he captures an aspect of humanity’s indomitable spirit that lives as if it’s never going to die, that finds meaning where there may be none and fights to live in the face of death.

Perhaps the positive side of this asteroid is the ability to keep going, even when we can’t yet see the point. Essentially, he perhaps shows where we can find meaning in what we do on a daily basis, not just in our achievements or the winning of battles.

Sisyphus – The Discovery Chart
Sisyphus Discovery ChartThe discovery chart for Sisyphus is fascinating. Immediately we can see that the only planets above the horizon are Pluto, Saturn and Chiron – Intensity/power, restriction, wounding. All the personal planets are below the horizon. Sisyphus is in the dark.

The angles are weighted with Pluto conjunct the Ascendant from the 12th house, Chiron conjunct the Descendant and Jupiter conjunct the IC. The Nodal axis conjuncts the MC-IC axis.

Pluto could be seen to represent ‘hell’ or Tarturus. Chiron on the Descendant in Aries could be interpreted as Sisyphus wounded by his enemies because of his arrogance. Zeus (Jupiter) is inescapable on the IC. Sisyphus must find his own inner sense of meaning in a meaningless existence. This message seems strengthened by the Jupiter-IC conjunction with the North Node. The South Node connected to the Midheaven in Cancer says to me, it’s no longer about the comforts of achievement in
the outer world, it’s about fortifying ones inner self – building from the bottom
up. Jupiter is our self-belief.

Saturn opposes the Sun from the 9th house. Saturn in the 9th can indicate belief in a harsh God, one that inflicts punishment upon those who sin. The Sun-Saturn opposition is indicative of feeling weighed down by the world, troubled by one’s thoughts (Sun in the 3rd house), feeling misunderstood by authority. Here the Sun often chooses the hardest path. The brick wall often suggested by Saturn became literal as Sisyphus could do nothing else but face the rock/reality.

The 2nd house is full with the presence of Mars, Venus, Mercury the Moon and Neptune. This huddle of planets indicates that some part of the message of Sisyphus is connected to finding one’s self worth. The Moon conjunct Neptune can be a classic sign of escapism – rather like Sisyphus who deluded himself that he could escape death itself. With the conjunction occurring in Sagittarius, these two can create a kind of divine discontent, always searching. It’s a hungry Moon driven by an inexplicable emptiness.

The Discovery Degree Sabian Symbol

The discovery degree of Sisyphus is 19°47 Taurus placing it on the Sabian symbol

Wisps Of Winglike Clouds Streaming Across The Sky.

Does Sisyphus only see the clouds or does he see the wings of angels?

Dane Rudhyar says this degree speaks of “The awareness of spiritual forces at work.”

Perhaps then, Sisyphus is also about finding the meaning in the mundane, knowing that there’s a reason behind it all and trusting that you are being watched over when life is at it’s hardest. Maybe it’s about loving yourself enough to keep trying.

“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain. One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

Albert Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus

How to Find Sisyphus in Your Chart
To find Sisyphus in your chart, go to Astro.com and enter 1866 into the asteroids which are found under the ‘extended charts’ option. The house of Sisyphus will suggest the area of life where you might struggle with the reality, repeat mistakes or find it hard to change. This area of life may cause you to go around in circles or you might fight to maintain the status quo even when all hell breaks lose.

Suggested Keywords and Phrases for Sisyphus
Starting over, repetition, meaninglessness, try again, pushing through it, pointless work, an uphill climb, a thankless task, an eternal battle, “it’ll be the death of me!”, exasperation, frustration, trial, an uphill battle, nothing accomplished, the absurdity of life, futility, cheating death, getting nowhere. Finding faith in the mundane, maintaining faith when all else fails, believing without seeing, appreciating the journey rather than the destination, acceptance that all things change, adhering to the will of the Gods, accepting your fate.

Resources

Hubble Picture from HubbleSite Einstein Ring Gravitational Lens

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29 COMMENTS

  1. Ooh, thank you for inspiring me to look this asteroid up again. I did it once a long time ago, but forgot it, of course. I now see that it’s at the same degree as my ex’s Moon, plus it’s square my Sun. I have often compared my life (in my moments of moaning about my fate) to Sisyphus, and the feeling that I am pushing a rock uphill often really gets to me.

  2. I enjoyed this article. Sisyphus is located in my 12th house, sitting in the middle of my Sun in Gemini, and Venus in Cancer. Sometimes I do feel that life is pointless, and am in constant question of life, and my true purpose within this cosmic mystery.

    Sisyphus is in Gemini (12th) at 28/52, trine to Neptune in Scorpio (5th) at 0/05, and sextile to Pluto in Leo (3rd) at 28/10.

    So, the myth of Sisyphus certainly hits home.

    NAMASTE’

  3. Thanks Leah, for this post. Am I the reader?

    Keeping faith that all things work for the good (eventually) is the message I take from your post. Sometimes a thing is worth doing even if there aren’t any immediate rewards for doing it.

    Maybe Sisyphus’ natal placement and in transit shows us where, rather than being abandoned by God, God occasionally (and temporarily) steps back so we can learn to exercise our own spiritual muscle; it’s a kind of test meant to refine and strengthen our faith. I very much relate to what you wrote about developing a greater sense of self-worth, one based on an inner authority that springs from our Divine connection.

    Thanks again, Leah. Very insightful as usual. Now I’m back to pushing that rock.

  4. You are the reader LB 🙂 Thank you! Yes, I love your idea of God stepping back. It was the Sabian symbol of the discovery chart that really stayed with me. Sisyphus can either just see the clouds or he can see it as a sign that there is something more. It’s been a fascinating journey reading about him and pondering the meaning so thank you for bringing it up 🙂

  5. Thanks for this excellent post, always looking forward reading your insights which are beautifully written. Just yesterday i was contemplating on the Sisyphus torment as compared to my current state of living (i am greek), so seeing your post today gave me a new optimistic aspect on it. Keep posting!

  6. Hi Gavr – thanks for your comment. I’m glad to hear that it’s given you some optimism! I understand things are very difficult for my friends across the water – Greece, Portugal and Spain. These times of change are very hard but I do believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  7. I have Sisyphus conjuct my moon/AC exact in Scorpio. Ugh. Any insight would be appreciated. Its funny how timely this article is because I just had Saturn transiting my moon (&sisyphus) back in October and all I kept thinking about was how it felt like a boulder had just rolled me over & all the emotional/personal growth I had been working on over the past year was knocked out of me.

  8. Hi Mae
    Wow, what a wonderful example of Sisyphus in action, thanks for sharing that. However, I understand that whilst it may be a great astrology example, it doesn’t sound like it wasn’t much fun to experience! I hope you are feeling better now.
    Saturn rolling across the Asc and Moon can be a tough transit as it is, so with Sisyphus in the mix, I can understand that it might feel like going right back to square one again. Saturn however is about mastery. By knocking you back to the beginning, he gives an opportunity for growth, strengthening your emotions (Saturn conjunct Moon) and giving you a stronger framework on how you view the world and your place it it (Saturn conjunct Ascendant). Saturn conjunct Sisyphus makes me feel very much like the moment when Sisyphus is at the bottom of the hill, preparing to push the rock back up for the 100th time! Saturn isn’t going to take no for an answer. Saturn insists that you do the work that is required because he can see that eventually, what you learn from the experience will make you a stronger person. It may feel like a great weight at the time, but all the while you are strengthening your muscles which will be important for future growth.

  9. “The brick wall often suggested by Saturn became literal as Sisyphus could do nothing else but face the rock/reality.” Like Bodhidharma, who sat before a wall, eyes open, meditating for nine years.

  10. I have 8H Sisiphus in Scorpio VERY close to Chiron. It forms a trine with my 5H Cancer Moon, a sextile with my 7H Virgo NN, Vertex and P. Fort, a trine with my 1H Pisces Ceres, a square with my 12H Aquarius Pallas, a conjuction with my 8H Scorpio Psyche an opposition with my 2H Taurus Cupido and a trine with my 1H Pisces Europa (so many aspects!). I do have an analysis in mind, but being an amateur, I’m not sure if it’s accurate.

    My analysis is this: Scorpio and the 8H are associated with sex, death and regeneration. I think it’s quite ironic for Sisyphus to be there. Will I try to cheat death? Will I succeed? Does Sisyphus in Hades’ House symbolise someone who stays with/close to death but is still alive/functioning? Like a vampire? I do believe in the possibility of supernatural beings existing, so it’s not that far-fetched a concept in my mind. I’ve heard that my 8H Scorpio Psyche means a powerful regeneration of the soul, so could the conjuction between my Psyche and Sisyphus strengthen what I said before?

    Cancer Moon in 5H shows someone very emotional, vulnerable, motherly, nurturing, moody, someone prone to crying perhaps (?), a natural mother and someone who expresses their deep emotions in dramatic and creative ways (5H?)… In a favorable aspect to Sisyphus, could it mean that I try, but in this case succeed, in fooling people by pretending to be vulnerable, like crying and being dramatic in general?

    I am not well-acquainted with the Nodes, Vertex or P. Fort so I don’t think I can analyse those aspects at all.

    Ceres shows the nurturing we received in our early years and how we nurture others. With my Piscean Ceres I nurture the poor, sick and unfortunate, I’m a good, non-judgemental listener and I nurture people in supernatural/paranormal ways (?) (I offer astrological advise and usually have “feelings” that prove to be helpful to the person that has the problem). Since it’s in my 1H, the nurturing side of me is a prominent feature of my character. Now, if my Ceres is in a favorable aspect to my Sisyphus, could it mean I successfully cheat people by pretending to be all nice and listen to their problems, only to exploit them and use my knowledge of their secrets in my advantage?

    My 12H Pallas means that I can recognise, analyse and solve the hidden problems of others in strange, unusual and/or innovative ways. In a bad aspect to my Sisyphus, could it mean that I repeatedly make mistakes in that area? That I, perhaps, misunderstand these hidden problems and make incorrect assessments of people? Or that my unusual, strange and/or innovative ways don’t work or appeal to people?

    There is very little material online concering Cupido and Europa, so I doubt I can accurately analyse aspects involving them.

    I would appreciate it if you could reply to my comment and let me know if my hypotheses are correct 🙂

  11. Hi Stella
    Unfortunately due to time constraints I can’t address every aspect you have mentioned however I do offer readings here if you are looking for deeper analysis https://www.leahwhitehorse.com/readings/

    However, here are a few thoughts…

    Firstly, I’m not sure if you already do this but I keep the orbs VERY small for asteroids – 1 degree unless it is near a very sensitive point or angle but 3 degrees at most. Because there are so many asteroids, the chart can get very overwhelming so it’s best to work with the most important material.

    Generally I don’t look so much at asteroid to asteroid aspects unless those both asteroids are tightly conjunct a main planet or angle in the chart or they echo a story already being told by the main planets.

    Sisyphus in the 8th house – There may be a strong awareness of death, an innate knowledge that everything dies. Yet at the same time a knowledge that everything lives and continues to live. It’s a paradox. Sisyphus here can prompt exploration into discovering ones own truth in order to find acceptance within the self. If Psyche is here too (I’ve just written a post about her today) then this shows the area of life where you have a chance to experience unity with the soul. With Sisyphus, it may be about being constantly drawn to search for the soul – seeking that transformation that will bring you to wholeness.

  12. I’ve been wanting to get an analysis for ages, but my (0) income doesn’t allow me to. However, there is hope for this summer 🙂

    Your explanation is very accurate considering I believe in reicarnation and I want to be a vampire (just not the sparkly Twilight kind). I do not reject the possibility of the supernatural being real, a concept supported by my religion (Hellenic Polytheism).

    There is a wide conjunction with Psyche and Hekate, but a very tight conjunction with Chiron (they’re on top of each other).

    Asbolus is in the same House and sign, but there conjunction is probably too wide.

  13. Hi Stella, re the Supernatural and vampires – I tend to think of the ‘supernatural’ as ‘supernormal. By that I mean that I think there are many things that exist but as yet science cannot understand them. I think there are other dimensions that cross through ours and every now and then, some people see through from one to the other. I’ve had enough very strange experiences in my life to understand that there is a lot more than we can normally see!
    Vampires have always fascinated me, right from being very young. For me I think it’s the idea of an immortal life – having all that time to read every book ever written, travel to every place never been 🙂

  14. Hi Leah,
    Thanks for a great article! Though, with the Sisyphus placement I have, I sort of wish I hadn’t been so curious 🙂 Mine is sitting neatly conjunct my natal Pluto at 28 degrees Virgo (Pluto at 28’12 and S at 28’06 if I can read Astro.com’s tiny tiny print), in the 8th house. Sisyphus is also sextile my Sun/Moon midpoint (Cancer) and square my AC Sagittarius at 27’52. Naturally it’s also square my DC, which has a loose conjunction with Hylonome (29’14 Gemini). The Pluto conjunction really kind of freaks me out, and explains A LOT about the feelings of meaninglessness and quest for the purpose of my life I still sometimes dwell in. Dealing with change in relationships is tough – especially with my 7th house Cancer Moon and Saturn in my 5th house I tend to bond deeply with people I care about, so most of the time I’m not very quick forming deep friendships even if I’d very much like that 🙂

    Oh well, better get back to that boulder now! 🙂

  15. Hi Aure
    Thanks for your comment and insight into Sisyphus in your chart. It’s fascinating isn’t it, how the symbolism plays out in life. I can sense the intensity of that Pluto conjunction!

  16. My pr. Asc. in Scorpio is now within orb of natal Pluto (in my 11th). The stresses I’m going through led me to research if anything else is going on. Whoa! I discovered that natal Sisyphus is conjunct natal Pluto. That I’ve been forced to ‘let go’ of a lot goes without saying, given that Scorpio and Pluto are playing their parts. However, I’ve had this overpowering feeling that I’m on this hopeless treadmill and I’m losing faith. I used to be able to count on success if I put in the effort. Your article is literally a godsend. I get it. I guess I’ll just keep making the moves on my next project and try not to invest too much belief in anything other than the value of personal exercise in whatever realm the exercise happens to manifest. And, I’ll try not to be arrogant and ruthless (not that I am, but, given what happened to Sisyphus, one can’t be too careful!) Thank you for the great and inspiring article.

  17. I was doing some reading on medical asteroids and Sisyphus came up. The themes of constant repetitive struggle definitely seemed to fit with some of the elements of my life at this point, so I started plugging it in to see where it fit. Looking at my progressed chart, it’s currently forming an exact conjunction to my Sun. The only choice that I have is to keep toiling as I really have no other option. Interesting, the situation I’m in is as a result of my own personal failings and lack of will power. If I had been able to assert my discipline early on when Sisyphus came into orb of my progressed Sun, I wouldn’t be experiencing the situation that I’ve found myself in. But my chart is quite heavily weighted in the 12th house, including both the Sun and Sisyphus, so self undoing is clearly a theme here. Ultimately though, this is a strengthening experience. At the exact conjunction, the weight is the heaviest, but as they separate in the coming years, I know that I’ll become significantly stronger. After all, it fits with the persistence of my prominent Saturn/Pluto conjunction.

  18. My natal Sisyphus is in an opposition with my natal Sun. I can relate with many of the experiences of the comments here. My natal Sisyphus in house Two also explains a lot. So the importance of asteroids isn’t neglectable.

    Because the asteroids seemingly explain so much, so I doubt that their orbs should really be very narrow only because there are many asteroids.

    I miss a function here to reply directly to other comments. So readers have to search the comment, to which I want to add that vampires are dead by definition! No immortal life! Vampires can be represented by underworld gods in the natal chart. Pluto is the prototype of a vampire.

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