In astrology we have enough to consider in interpreting the standard planets, but asteroids — which are in the thousands — hold a curious appeal. They are laser beams pinpointing a behavioural trait with crystalline detail in a character portrait. To the discerning eye, they can be very revealing and you quickly acquire your favourites.
Asteroid Eros (#433) is one to keep a watchful eye on as it represents the lust for life and the primordial energy of the sex drive, full of regenerative power. It is not always the fluffy winged baby Cupid, the Roman version of the Greek Eros. Eros is about transformation and the spark that transmits from the divine into the human soul via all that is beautiful. There is also an asteroid called Kama (#3811) which means “pleasure, enjoyment, desire.” Kama is the Indian version of Eros and is depicted riding a parrot with a bow and arrow.
Eros may be the umpf of life that saves you when on a bad day you feel downtrodden and depressed. Look to where the asteroid is in your chart and find that ignition key that sparks your joie de vivre. In Freud’s theory the life wish — Eros — and the death wish — Thanatos — are directly opposed energies. (1) Like Hamlet, there is a tug-of-war raging inside us: whether to “be” or “not to be.” If most fears are essentially fear of death, it is important to sublimate life-giving energies which you can do by locating and venerating Eros in your birth chart. Enhancing life-giving energy also comes through Mars (action), Venus (desire), Jupiter (growth) and the Sun (life purpose) as these archetypes are all life-affirming and magnetise benefits towards us.
Unfortunately, there is no asteroid named Thanatos. If there were, we could see where we stand in this life versus death existential equation. We might point to asteroids Requiem (#2254), Hades (#399) or Nemesis (#128) as stand-ins for Thanatos, but they are not quite the same. In Greek mythology, Thanatos is one of the many sons and daughters of Chaos which makes him brother to Eris (Discord) and Moros (Doom). Nihilism is rife today and can take hold of the mind in strange ways as we sink into a pool of futility. This is the lure of Thanatos, the dark brother of Eros — the death wish can be more powerful and more common than we might ever expect.
Similarly, if there was a higher octave of asteroid Eros, my guess is it would be named Kundalini. That asteroid has not yet been discovered, but you can notice the energy of Kundalini as it often ignites the creative funny-bone when transiting Uranus opposes your natal Uranus which coincides with a mid-life crisis. (2)
The Head vs the Heart
Eros is now at 8° Aquarius and has been in the sign since March 2023; it is airy and funky in that most “electric” of signs. Eros was discovered at 22° Aquarius so it has an affinity to this sign.
Eros also filters its flavour through the sign it is in — in Aquarius it is the “head” type, while in Leo, it is more a “heart” type.
Author and cultural commentator Germaine Greer, not known for keeping her opinions to herself, has Eros conjunct her Ascendant at 13° Aquarius with the Sun just 5° away, boosting the Eros connection.
Tallulah Bankhead is another audacious personality. She was known for her barbed wit and fearless comments. She once said to a male lover who was eagerly pestering her to go home with him, “I’ll make love to you at 5 o’clock. If I’m late, just start without me.” She has Sun conjunct Eros in Aquarius.
Then there’s a “heart” type: 19th-century poet Alfred Lord Tennyson has Sun conjunct Eros in Leo. In his poem “In Memoriam A.H.H.” he famously wrote, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” (3) These words were about his close male friend, Arthur Henry Hallam — Eros is more personal and heartfelt with the Leo flavour.
There are always other factors in a chart, but these personalities pinpoint how the Sun (or Ascendant) conjunct Eros in Aquarius marks someone who is objective and outspoken about sex — in ways others would never dare to be — and when Eros is in Leo there is more warmth in the expression of love.
The Abduction of Psyche William Adolphe Bougereau (1895)
Eros conjunctions tend to stand out in a chart and can identify the life spark for the native, with the sign adding another layer. For the following conjunctions, I have considered orbs up to 3°. In a few cases, I have gone as far as 7° when there is a distinct relevance of Eros to the native’s life, or when other planets are also part of the conjunction.
Three people with Eros conjunct the Sun are playwright Tennessee Williams (Sun in Aries) and actors Elisabeth Taylor (Sun in Pisces) and Montgomery Clift (Sun in Libra). In 1959 their lives entwined in making the film Suddenly Last Summer. The story is about the lure of illicit sex consuming someone so thoroughly that it drives them to a violent Dionysian death on a beach in the Mediterranean — the Eros effect.
Actor Jennifer Jason-Leigh has Eros conjunct the Moon in Aquarius. You can never tell quite which phase of her career she is in as she subsumes herself into the very diverse roles she has played — from light to dark across the spectrum of emotions.
Actor Dolph Lundgren speaks six languages, married a twin and is the son of a language teacher. He has Eros conjunct the Sun and Mercury in Scorpio lending multiple talents: athlete, model, actor, producer, coach and author.
Actress Julie Christie has Eros in Aries conjunct the Sun and Venus; her luminous and alluring appearance made her the “it” girl of the ‘60s. Singer and actor Justin Timberlake, the “it” boy of the ‘90s, has Eros conjunct Venus in Capricorn.
Singer Billy Idol has Eros conjunct Mars in Scorpio and, as a veteran hedonist, has a rambunctious appetite for sex and living the good life. His lip curl is the very embodiment of Cupid’s bow and hints at Eros’s reputation as “irresistible.”
Actor Malcolm McDowell has Eros conjunct Jupiter in Cancer — the planet of larger-than-life excess — and he plays characters known for going too far, e.g., Alec in A Clockwork Orange (1971) and the wildly excessive emperor in Caligula (1979).
Actor Mel Gibson has Eros (2° Sagittarius) conjunct Saturn (29° Scorpio). He channels Eros into hard work and serious (if highly controversial) topics. He also takes relationships very seriously, having stayed with his first wife for 26 years.
Fashion designer Gianni Versace has Eros conjunct Neptune in Libra. In 1998 he was the victim of a serial killer, gunned down outside his home for no apparent reason. Versace also created a perfume actually called “Eros.”
Hip Hop artist Lil Wayne has Eros at 29° Scorpio conjunct Uranus at 1° Sagittarius; he has a lightning flash tattoo on his forehead and indulges his fans with progressive non-traditional notions about sex and love.
Two other Hip-Hop artists of note: P. Diddy has Eros conjunct Pluto in Virgo and Usher has the conjunction in Libra. Both have been involved in various sex scandals involving death and sexual manipulation.
Actor James Franco has Chiron conjunct Eros at 5° Taurus. He was obliged to confess to sex addiction and talk publicly about his highly experimental and controversial approach to sex. He was also accused of abusing students in a sex-on-screen workshop.
Eros and Psyche: Love and the Soul
Love-Eros Ambigram Tattoo
While asteroids are scattered, they often come in pairs, such as Manwë (#385446) and Varda (#174567) from Tolkien; or family groupings like Egyptian asteroids Isis (#42), Osiris (#1923) and Nephthys (#287). But few can have missed the well-known story of the god Eros and Psyche which has been the inspiration of artists and writers for centuries.
The intertwining of Eros with his consort Psyche points to the divine aspect of love where it becomes an extraordinary fusion of souls, a transcendent religious-mystical experience of oneness. In the story Psyche achieves divinity only through all the punishments inflicted upon her by Venus/Aphrodite. And Eros eventually achieves human compassion, as humility does not usually befit a god of such beauty and power. But Eros was moved to persuade Zeus to allow Psyche to become immortal. Human origins do not usually permit competition with the gods. But after successfully completing all the obstacles set by Venus, she finally achieved god-head.
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss Antonio Canova (1793)
How do we track this through study of asteroids? As a start, we can consider their discovery charts: Eros was discovered while in Aquarius, linking him to that sign. On the other hand, Psyche was discovered while in Leo which suggests that Psyche is essentially more heart-based than Eros. In our current time: on May 24, 2023 Pluto was conjunct Eros when he first dipped his toes to 0° Aquarius.
When Pluto returns to Aquarius on January 21, 2024 it may be good to remember this link to love and sex. We may need to stay balanced in the heart and not to let the head take over. That was Psyche’s error — at the prompting of her sisters, she allowed mental curiosity to get the better of her, and was devastated when her prized husband, Eros, fled in horror.
Eros has an orbit of 634 days; Psyche’s orbit is up to 4.99 years. Every three to four years Eros conjoins Psyche in the asteroid belt. During the 20th century these two asteroids conjoined 37 times across all the signs.
For people inspired by love this cycle may be significant. It can raise the love vibration and heighten the sense of fusion with the loved one, while also triggering personal development and individuation for anyone with planets at the degree of their conjunction. It may even be a counterpoint to the Venus cycle and the Venus star point which has its own beautiful pentagram symmetry. However, in the Eros and Psyche story Venus played the wicked stepmother archetype — she was viciously cruel towards Psyche — reminding us that every planet has a dark side.
Their last conjunction was on November 3, 2022 at 25° Libra, ruled by Venus, which may have felt like a boost for all relationships. However, as the Sun was in Scorpio it may also have had a sting in its tail (as it did for me).
The next ripple will be on July 6, 2024 when Eros and Psyche oppose each other — Eros at 19° Leo and Psyche at 19° Aquarius. They are back to their original discovery axis. Even in opposition these two, like Venus opposing Mars, might still bring a boost of love to the table, perhaps with some added tension to resolve.
The other cycle to note is the Eros return — when transiting Eros conjoins the natal placement. This could be a time when you are more easily aroused and more inclined towards the erotic — expressed through the natal sign that holds Eros. The erotic is defined very broadly, not to assume it is only about physical sex.
Eros is a potent life force and encompasses both imaginative and sensual domains; and when it is aligned with Psyche, we can see the true value of what is erotic — that which leads us closer to the development of the soul.
1. S. Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, 1920.
2. Barbara Hand Clow, Astrology and the Rising of Kundalini: the Transformative Power of Saturn, Chiron and Uranus, Bear and Company, 2016.
London-based astrologer Kieron Devlin has had a lifelong interest in astrology having taught himself to do charts manually for friends at age 19. With a background of teaching in HE, his approach is wide-ranging and highly eclectic. He specialises in Western Psychological, Astrolocational astrology and the astrobiographies of artists through audio-visual essays. He has researched into the placement of muse asteroids among artists, writers and musicians. He takes a professional and confidential approach to clients and makes readings as intuitive, objective and encouraging as possible to help you understand your personal cycles of change. His You Tube channel is Proteus Astrology and his website is www.proteusastrology.co.uk where there is an entire page dedicated to asteroid Eros.