The Astrology of Anorexia

Friday July 1st 2011
La Grande Bouffe

Vesta was the most widely worshipped deity in the Roman empire since every house had a shrine to her – the hearth itself. That is why I associate the asteroid named after her with cooks.

Back in January I wrote about Vesta in the charts of well-known cooks, pointing out that our very own Nigella Lawson has Vesta conjunct Venus. Her first book was called How to Be a Domestic Goddess.
So I discussed this at my local astrology group a while later and one of the members made a really interesting point – what about eating disorders?

How would that show? We did a quick check amongst ourselves and pulled up two charts to look at – and found something very interesting: two tight Chiron/Vesta contacts.

The most famous anorexic I can think of is Karen Carpenter – who starved herself to death. Her Vesta is combust (swallowed by the Sun) and squares a Chiron (wound) Ceres (food) conjunction.

Callista Flockhart has Vesta conjunct Chiron in Pisces opposite Uranus-Pluto-Mars (ouch). Interestingly it is also exactly conjunct her Part of Fortune – was her thinness her USP?

Victoria Beckham has a (wide) Chiron-Vesta opposition from Aries to Libra slashed vertically across her chart. Vesta in Libra is conjunct Pluto. She has married and made a home for a very rich man.

Another anorexic I know has Vesta conjunct Neptune. She is completely delusional about food and her body. It makes an exact (to the minute) trine to Chiron in Pisces.

Do you know where your Vesta is? And how do you feel about food?

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe this. My relationship with food is, well, interesting, and it’s taken me a long time to admit that my problem is ongoing.

    My Vesta? Conjunct Chiron in Cancer

  2. Christina says:

    Thanks for sharing that. Cancer is the sign of nurturing as well, of course. I wonder whether the “interesting” relationship with food is a way of nurturing yourself.

  3. Isy Aweigh says:

    Considering Vesta went from being seen as The primal goddess of home and comfort to being a cult of tightly-managed, sexually manipulated, ritually drugged women, this makes a ton of sense. In a difficult position, it’s easy to see which aspect would come to the fore. 

    The association with Chiron doesn’t surprise me at all — eating disorders are tightly linked to childhood abuse, most especially sexual abuse. I’d expect to see other asteroids/dwarf planets such as Eris (chaos) and Sedna (daughter wounded by father) in interesting positions, perhaps with Venus and the Moon being challenged. Many anorexics really do see a fat person in the mirror, so the Neptune piece makes sense; I’d also expect to see that in someone who uses food as a drug. 

    Food provides comfort; being fat provides a buffer from the world and minimizes sexual attention; being thin provides an illusion of control over one’s body and appetites. 

    Food can provide self-medication: the combination of starch and fat (IE, pastries) boosts serotonin production, sugar creates a calming rush of insulin (which also locks up fat cells, so they can’t be accessed for energy when you have sugar in your system), and fats hit the pleasure center in the brain — hence the popularity of fried food. 

    In short, my personal & professional (nursing & counseling) background make me think you’re bang on. I’m glad you pointed this out, as it also helps make sense of why this is so notoriously difficult to heal from. 

    Looking at someone’s chart could give valuable clues as to how to recover and reach for some normalcy in relation to the body and food. That’s tremendous. 

  4. Christina says:

    Thanks for those thoughts Isy.

    Just after I posted this piece my snail mail arrived, including the mag from the Astrological Association with Vesta on the cover. Needless to say there wasn’t anything about Vesta and eating disorders inside but……apparently a space probe called Dawn is going to take a look at her.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Chiron-Vesta in Pisces here – lifelong bulimia

  6. Jackie T says:

    I was in that group discussion, so why didn’t I notice that I have Vesta conjunct Chiron, in the 2nd, house of personal resources. Binge Eating Disorder from early ’80s for about 20 years. All I’d previously found was a difficult moon/Mars aspect.

    However, knowing is fascinating, but how do we work with it and help the client?

  7. Christina says:

    I’m not sure Jackie – but I do know that knowing is a step on the way to healing (for some of us).

    I keep on thinking of the anorexic I mentioned in the piece. Most of her chart is this beautiful grand trine – its like a’ closed circuit. Her belief in her worldview – to which skinniness is central – is so powerful that she sucks everyone around her into it. I can’t stand it because it’s false, but I’d say on balance she’s no less happy than most people. So would it really heal her to show her the truth?

  8. leslee says:

    I have Vesta in Cancer on the cusp of my 12th, but it makes a nice sextile to my Sun and Ceres in Virgo (I do like healthy food) as well as a wide (5-degree) sextile to my Mars in Taurus. I can’t imagine Mars in Taurus ever being anorexic 🙂

  9. Isy Aweigh says:

    The issue Christina raises — is it the right thing to do? Is it necessarily useful or healing? — is a tough and valuable question. Just as roughly 3% of women are naturally that thin, I’d guess that roughly 3% of those with persistent eating disorders are really stable.  Just a guess. It’s worth assessing. 

  10. Isy Aweigh says:

    It’s vital to have a positive to move towards, because so many of us have been running from negatives for so long. Finding guidance TO health is as important as learning where the damage comes FROM. 

    I’ve been head-down in my chart for awhile. Chiron is part of a big messy stellium in my 12th. Vesta is in my 3rd in Cancer, opposing Mercury — secrets, much? — and aspecting Ceres (12th) and Venus (11th), giving me support outside my home and family. My IC in Cancer may indicate the cagey environment and tight bonds I grew up with.

    My True Node gave me my key, partly by indicating my South Node and helping me realize that getting out of the old manipulative swamp (conjunct Neptune @ Scorpio in 6th, oy vey!) was the same as moving into stability, comfort and personal value (Taurus @ 1st, aspecting wounded Chiron and righteous Saturn in my 12th within 1 degree.)

    Hope the personal disclosure is useful. Anyway, I’d guess the healing path really depends on the chart 🙂

  11. Anonymous says:

    Some leading doctors had called me the worst ED case they’d ever seen.

    I have a kite with an air grand trine between vesta, ceres/lilith, and venus/moon/pluto (at 0 scorpio)- who are opposed by juno.

    Venus R4 is in H4 conj IC along with moon/pluto and all three square Asc. Yod of chiron inconj moon/pluto and neptune.

    Vesta oppose neptune/mercury conjunction- all sorts of denial, distorted perspectives and beliefs about food since mercury rules H3 and neptune H9. Just general inability to get a grasp of the food thing with Neptune in H6.

    If I had to point to something, Ceres square chiron probably did me in if not the terribly painful chiron yod. I would think Ceres has very much to do with EDs and I’ve heard moon-pluto is the biggest factor.

    Another recovered anoretic I know has Moon in capricorn/h6 square pluto and opposing Saturn in 12/cancer. I also have saturn in the 4th house conjunct pluto, so I would also think Saturn/moon/H4 connections also have to do with food control and restriction.

    Natal charts could be such powerful tools for ED prevention! Every astrologer who had looked at my chart instantly said I’m sorry about your mother and your food issues.

    In true chirotic fashion, it was the alternative therapies, astrology, spirituality and vibrational healing that helped in the end!

  12. Christina says:

    @Isy – personal disclosure is always useful especially when we can think about specific chart issues. Thanks for all information. It is food for thought.

    Among several things that came into my head was this: Mercury is a child (often) and eating disorders are sometimes to do with wanting to deny one’s own sexuality. Vesta in Cancer is also especially “womanly”. The goddess of the hearth in the sign of nurturing.

    @Anonymous – I am glad you found the things that worked for you in the end – and sorry that you had to go through so much to get there.

    It’s interesting to me that like the case I mentioned in the post, you have a beautiful formation in your chart, a kite. It’s considered lucky, traditionally, but clearly we know otherwise.

    Have you looked at Karen Carpenter’s chart? It’s on Astrodatabank. She also has Ceres involved as well as Vesta. As does Isy aweigh, see above. Clearly, you’re right about Ceres, which I have found is also involved in the female fertility cycle. That could fit for you too.

    Also Cancer seems to be involved often too, which is hardly surprising.

    What I think the asteroids contribute to understanding a chart is specificity, as your chart shows.

    For example, Moon-Pluto could be a number of things, but once you hook in the Ceres and the Vesta, you know you’re looking at food, cooking, the hearth.

    I wrote a post a while back prompted by a number of Moon-Pluto clients with positive experiences of their (super intense) mothers.

    good luck anon, keep on getting healed

  13. Christina says:

    @Isy – that’s also valuable advice about the South Node because eating disorders are so much about habit.

  14. RachHolt says:

    T, I don’t know where my Vesta is! Should I tell you about my relationship first before you reveal all?

  15. Christina says:

    Your Vesta is at 1 Gemini, which is a very cerebral placement – opposite the food asteroid Ceres in Sag conjunct Neptune: fantasising about food? It’s also trined by Pluto and the Moon – could be some issues there. No Chiron contact though. What’s interesting is that – like two previous charts – it’s part of a very beautiful formation called a kite.

    I would love to hear about your relationship – but you can drop me an email if you’d rather not discuss it here.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I have a Cancer Sun 12, Cancer Jupiter 17, Cancer Black Moon Lilith 19 – all H11, opposing Ceres (retro) Capricorn 19 in H5. Jupiter 150 degree aspect to Sag H4Neptune.

    Mercury (chart ruler, virgo asc) in 2 Leo in H11 makes 135 degree aspect to Neptune in 17 Sag in H4. Vest 9 Sag in H4. Neptune opposes Gemini moon 23 degrees in H10.

    Chiron in 10 Taurus H9 with Sedna in 6 Taurus in H9, which squares my 12H within one degree.

    Beloved father died at age 11 (Cancer sun square Libra pluto within 2 degrees). Thought I was fat at a young age (even before he died) related to being tallest student in class (tall = big = fat…Sun/Jupiter/Black Moon Lilith opposing Ceres).
    11H connection: Influence of childhood frenemy’s from age 7-10(twin girls with Sun conjunct Pluto) Later learned how to be bulimic around age 16 from my Taurus best friend (she has aries venus opposite pluto exact to second, taurus sun, taurus chiron, taurus sedna…all in second house – she suffered from father loss as well). We bonded by binging and purging at buffets about once a week througout high school.

    I had a passionate hatred of my body (Venus 21 Leo H12, Saturn 28 Leo H12, Asc 5 Virgo, Mars 11 Virgo H1 – all 7 degrees apart). So..super vain and self critical…fantasizing about perfect model/celebrity body).
    Post about some ED’s being related to difficulties with sexuality was noted, as I dressed in boys clothing until college, when interestingly enough boys taught me what type of girls clothing was flattering to me.

    Athletics helped my disorder remain minimal to moderate until my Junior year of college where I decided to be anorexic since I wasn’t in sports anymore. This lasted about a year until I realized this was not practical and/or able to be maintained (this I relate to my practical Virgo energy). Funny in retrospect to my Mars Virgo H1 I used the supplement “ripped fuel” to minimize appetite.

    I was able to recover from this ED and father loss through self help books, poetry, journaling (moon in Gemini) and astrology (it was so beautiful to study his chart…it was like getting to know him again as an adult…and so healing to see our synastry…interestingly enough my fathers Neptune was conjunct my North Node at 1 Libra).

    Astrology boosted my self esteem immensely, as I kept reminding myself how lucky I was to have Sun close to Jupiter and all my royal Leo energy.

    I have kept to this day all this pain private from my mother (moon opposing neptune, 12th house energy). Many children suffering “parent loss” overcompensate with protecting the surviving parent from suffering any additional stress/pain. At this point there is no real reason for me to share with her, as it seems like so many lifetimes ago.

    When my progressed sun squared my natal uranus at age 32 I was diagnosed with Hashimotos disease, a thyroid autoimmune disease that includes many food intolerances, especially wheat/gluten (Ceres).

    Recovery of Hashimotos Disease included educating myself on how to eat (no gluten, low grains, low sugar). Benefit of new diet and continual disciplined daily exercise (Virgo Mars H1 makes me crave exercise – I love muscle toning and kundalini yoga) has brought me back the body I have craved for so long (long & lean). I now would say I am “extremely satisfied” with my body, mind, and spirit – but this has come only after many years of pain and/or self hatred.

    If I start ever ultra criticizing my body in unhealthy fashion in my thoughts it is easily managed by my practical Virgo energy reminding myself (“don’t fall for what corporate businesses are trying to do by making you feel insecure so you will buy their worthless improvment products”).

    Astrology = Healing. Thank God for Astrology and great asto sites such as this!

  17. Christina says:

    Thank you for sharing this here, Anon. Very interesting indeed: so much to ponder.

    I had to draw out your chart to understand it and take a look at the Vesta-Chiron contact, which is quincunx within one degree…

  18. Anonymous says:

    So true!
    I have ED problems, so I checked my
    Vesta – Chiron aspects:

    Chiron 13° Taurus
    Vesta 11° Taurus
    Uranus 16° Scorpio

    Great post!
    Thank you!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Im new at astrology, but i *think* my calculations are correct.
    i came across this post and i just had to check out my own chrion/vesta. (I have I’ve suffered from severe anorexia for several years.)

    Chiron conjuct Vesta in Leo
    Ceres conjuct Pluto in Scorpio
    Pluto opposing Moon in Taurus

  20. Anonymous says:

    I have a wide Vesta-Chiron conjunction in Taurus in the 10th house and never had any eating disorders and Ceres conjuncts MC in Aries . Maybe that’s the reason that all my friends just LOVE the way I cook? 🙂

  21. I was intrigued to find out about this as had a mild eating disorder as a teenager – Chiron wide orb conjunct Vesta in Pisces.

  22. anonymous says:

    I’d also point to south node. I have south node in virgo in the first house — indicating a need to let go of obsessive concern about purity and one’s appearance.

  23. Milton says:

    I have Vesta square Chiron exact, conjunct to Venus in Taurus (food, sensual pleasure). That explains my strict diet, interest in asceticism, and love of Karen Carpenter!

  24. Debbie says:

    This is my natal chart (hopefully it posts). I seem to be similar to one of the examples used in the article. I have Vesta conjunct Neptune in Scorpio, trine Chiron in Pisces. I have no eating disorders. I LOVE to cook. I do have to watch my weight very closely due to a non-functioning thyroid. It took a lot of years, but I figured out how to feed myself in a way that maintains my health and weight, yet allows me to feel satiated and happy.

  25. hannah-phoebe says:

    oh my, just found this! I’ve only just discovered astrology and so far have located my anorexia in Saturn-Moon conjunction in Aquariius in 12, Chiron in Cancer in 6 and Venus-Pluto 3/9 opposition. Viewing my chart for the first time with these other bodies i see Vesta trines that saturn-moon, Ceres opposes mercury (anorexia is very much how i have communicated my difficulties/anger) and Eris sits conjunct my sun.
    I have NO idea how to interpret this but excited to keep reading/learning/developing because i am fascinated and desperately looking for support to recover

  26. Aliće says:

    Dear Christina
    I just came across your great post on ED. So interesting!
    I help others to get over mental problems including ED, profesionally. I Love cooking and I am vegetarian.
    And i have 5H Ceres Cancer trine Uranus in Scorpio ( cusp 8th/9th H)
    Vesta is exact conjunct Venus in Taurus 29 degrees 3h and conjunct Mercury (26 Taurus)
    South Node conjunct The moon and Jupiter in taurus 3H and they are the apex of yod ( Neptune 10H Sag sextile Pluto 8H Scorpio.