I’ve been researching the effects of PNAs, Personal-Named Asteroids, for almost a decade now, first in mundane events charts and later in those of celebrities. They always show up reliably, in just the places you’d expect them to be, describing an individual’s or locale’s pivotal importance in the story at hand. In birth charts, too, places and persons of prominence in the native’s biography will animate the chart at appropriate positions, natally or by transit, fleshing out the details of a life.
I’ve only just begun to work with these points in the charts of “ordinary mortals”, largely because, with 17,000+ named asteroids at this point, it’s well nigh impossible to tell in advance which may be significant, or where to look for them. And people already know their pasts – they come to astrologers because they want to hear about their future.
But I’m here to tell you, the past is prologue, and exploring for yourselves the meanings of these PNAs embedded in your psyche, or assailing you by transit, can prove a worthwhile and affirmative venture. I could give pertinent examples from a variety of charts, but a really in-depth look at just one chart might be more revealing of the potential of these minor bodies to point up major themes in a life.
And whose life do I know better than my own? So I’m going to do something now that every Leo Sun absolutely hates to do – I’m going to talk about myself. (OK, yes, that was sarcasm, and you can blame my Scorpio Ascendant for that one.)
The first issue we encounter when looking at PNAs in a birth chart is any that represent the individual’s own names. Typically, these will conjoin or aspect one of the Big Three – Sun, Moon or Ascendant. In my own case, I was born Kevin Miller on July 27, 1960, at 1:37 PM EDT, in Bethlehem, PA (born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth – has a familiar ring to it, particularly in the fundamentalist Christian family in which I grew up).
Asteroid Kevin (#23729) at 0 Leo conjoins the 4 Leo Sun, identifying that name as aligned with me personally, a part of my core identity. Asteroid Miller (#1826) falls at 23 Pisces, opposing my natal Moon at 19 Virgo, with the Moon representing family heritage and ancestry.
So think of that a bit – Kevin on my Sun, identifying me specifically as an individual, and Miller opposed my Moon, expressing my family roots. Pretty stunning.
But I never liked my name. Kevin is not precisely on the Sun, there’s some wiggle room there and an intimation that there may be some distance between this name and the true core essence of the individual, his most authentic expression. I never changed my name officially, but these days it’s only my dad and the tax man who use the “K” word. “Kevin” means “handsome”, which is of course in the eye of the beholder, and I thought that to be a rather superficial identity. I preferred “Alexander”, which means “warrior”, for that was how I saw life, as a struggle or competition, something to rise above.
So when I came out as gay at age 17, I unofficially changed my name to “Alexander”. The use of that grew gradually, at first just among close friends, later more generally. When I went to The Restaurant School in 1986, I was signing my test sheets “Kevin Miller (Alex)”. By the time I enrolled in Computer Learning Center in 1995, it was “Alex Miller (Kevin)”. By then, though employers needed to know my legal name for tax purposes, no one else ever heard it.
Now here’s the amazing part – even that self-chosen name shows up prominently in my birth chart! In fact, even more strongly than my birth names. Asteroid Alexandra (#54, the feminine version, there is no Alexander asteroid) falls EXACTLY on my 4 Scorpio Ascendant, and exactly squared the Sun. Imagine that – the name I chose to present myself to the world when I announced my sexuality, and which eventually came to represent me almost exclusively, is exactly on the point which governs how others see us, and how we present ourselves to them! Moreover, the exact square to the Sun shows this name caught up in identity issues, and reflective of that “conflict” (square) which the name’s meaning, warrior, implies.
So we have my names in my chart – what about those closest to me, biologically? My father is Marshall, my mother Lorraine. His parents were Frank and Leah Miller; hers were Paul and Mildred Werkheiser. We hit a bit of a snag at the outset – there is no “Marshall” asteroid. But there is a “Marcia,” a close phonetic match, if the wrong gender (feminine forms of names, which still predominate in asteroid nomenclature, will often need to be used for their masculine counterparts).
Asteroid Marcia (#269484) appears natally at 18 Libra, in square to my Saturn at 13 Capricorn, which represents the father or parent; the five degree orb on this aspect is likely a reflection of the variance between Marcia and Marshall – I have no doubt that if there’s ever a “Marshall” asteroid named, it will be very strongly in the mix (it has been my experience that the closer the match, the tighter the aspect, and the greater the impact in the story). That “distance”, both in orb and by name, also reflects my early experience of my father, who I found it difficult to connect with; it wasn’t until I was well into my twenties that we began to develop a truly intimate bond.
Asteroid Lorraine (#1114) falls at 8 Aries, trine my Sun, and more broadly trine my Venus at 14 Leo. This reflects the ease with which my mother and I interacted, and the bond of love we shared, especially as a child. 8 Aries also squares Saturn, establishing my mother as a teaching, formative, parental authority figure (and in Aries, I saw her as the “leader” of the family).
Asteroid Franck (#4546), for Frank, my paternal grandfather, appears at 13 Cancer, exactly opposed Saturn, that opposition denoting the one-step-removed paternal tie (as opposed to conjunction). Saturn here also represents obstruction or limitation, reflective of the fact that I had no relationship with him whatsoever. There is no “Leah” asteroid for my paternal grandmother, but there is a Leahmarie (#19572), which just happens to be a combination of both her first and middle names, and at 2 Scorpio, that squares my Sun. The square here indicates a strong connection, but potentially adversarial; I wouldn’t say Nana Miller and I were often at odds, but we were never close, and the regular Sunday afternoon visits to her home were definitely the low point of my week.
Things were more intimate with my mother’s relations. Asteroid Paul (3525), my maternal grandfather’s name, falls at 10 Cancer, more widely opposed Saturn (again signifying a male ancestor) than Franck; despite this similarity by aspect, I have many more happy memories of my maternal grandfather than my paternal, though I wouldn’t describe our relationship as “close”, either. Asteroid Mildred (878) at 23 Pisces opposes my Moon, and more than anyone, she was “family” to me, my roots, my “home base” (we lived in their house until I was three, creating a lifelong bond that continued until her death at age 99). I spent two weeks every summer with Nana Werki (who only lived three miles from my parents, but in town, a totally different world for my country-raised self), we attended the same church, all the family holidays except Christmas (which was spent with my father’s family) revolved around her house and yard.
So we now have the full cast of characters in my family represented (I have no siblings), with the males all contacted to Saturn and the females to my Sun or Moon. But it’s not just people that appear with PNAs in the chart. Physical attributes can be detected also. I’m indebted to Martha Lang-Wescott for this revelation; her three decades plus of asteroid research is an invaluable resource, and her work with cold case crime investigators and medical research teams is truly mind-boggling.*
Several of Wescott’s physical markers apply to me, and fit naturally into my chart. She uses Barto (#2279) for facial hair, based in its root, “bart”, which means “beard” in German. I have consistently worn a beard since age 18, and I have Barto natally at 12 Virgo, conjunct the Moon, which rules the physical body. Asteroid Baldone (#274084) is actually named for an observatory in Latvia, but if broken down into its component parts in English, “Baldone” becomes “bald-one”; I started losing my hair in my early twenties and was largely bald by 35, and I have Baldone natally at 1 Scorpio, on my Ascendant, which rules how we present ourselves to others and how they see us. Asteroid Stout (#20430) is pretty much self-explanatory; I have struggled with my weight all my life, and I have Stout natally at 8 Leo, on my Sun. I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank the cosmos for its excellent timing! (There’s that Scorpio sarcasm again!)
Two other physical markers are more peripheral, but I think I can build a good case for them. My hair is brown, and I have asteroid Brunetto (#8253) at 28 Virgo, in close semisquare to Venus, which rules hairstyles. For hair rulership itself, that’s commonly attributed to Saturn, and there is also an asteroid Brunet (#72819), which at 28 Leo is sesquiquadrate natal Saturn, so I guess I’ve got that covered coming and going. Rulership of the eyes is generally attributed to the Sun (though eyesight, as one of the senses, is Mercury); mine are hazel in color, and I have asteroid Hazel (#3846) at 27 Aries, in a broad, out-of-Sign square to the Sun.
So much for physicality, family roots and genetic inheritance. Let’s move on to an endlessly fascinating topic: sex (remember my Scorpio Rising, folks!).
As noted above, I am gay. Traditionally, astrologers point to hard aspects between Venus or Mars and Saturn or an outer planet as indicators of this preference. And in that regard, my credentials are impeccable. Venus at 14 Leo is conjoined Uranus at 20 Leo, inconjunct Saturn at 13 Capricorn, and widely square Neptune at 6 Scorpio. Mars at 26 Taurus squares Uranus and is sesquiquadrate Saturn.
But there are other indicators as well, on an asteroid level, and once again, I shine. Principal MNA (Mythic-Named Asteroids) indicators of same-sex attraction include Sappho (named for an ancient Greek poet and lesbian – in fact, the originator of the term “lesbian”, as residing on the isle of Lesbos), Ganymed (named for Zeus’ underage cupbearer and boy-toy lover), and Eros (the origin of our term “erotic” and representing romantic passion generally, but also the acknowledged patron of homosexual unions in ancient Greece). I have Sappho at 22 Leo squared Mars; Ganymed at 8 Leo conjunct both the Sun and Venus; and Eros at 23 Taurus conjunct Mars.
PNAs enter the fray via euphemism, and also by virtually cataloging my sexual history to a “T”. Common English euphemisms for “penis” include dick, wiener, pecker and dong, all of which have matching asteroids, though not officially designated as penis placeholders. Asteroid Dick (#17458) at 4 Leo exactly conjoins the Sun, suggesting a strong self-identification with the male member (as well, I must admit, as an unfortunate tendency to react churlishly when affronted, i.e., “acting like a dick”). Asteroid Wiener (#18182) at 23 Virgo conjoins the Moon, adding an emotional component, and trines Mars/Eros, suggesting an ease of expression sexually. Asteroid Pecker (#1629) at 27 Aries conjoins asteroid Yes at 29 Aries, and together these broadly square the Sun, with Pecker also semisextile Mars, a rather self-affirming, green-lighting (Yes) stance toward the penis generally (Pecker). Asteroid Dong (#150520) at 28 Cancer is broadly conjoined the Sun and sextile Mars.
I will forbear to state the name of the first boy I had sex with, at age 12, due to considerations of his status as a minor at the time. So you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that an asteroid representing his first name falls at 24 Taurus, conjunct Mars and Eros, and one for his last name falls at 10 Virgo, conjunct natal Pluto at 4 Virgo. This very aptly describes his importance as my first sexual encounter, initiating my sexuality (Mars) and awakening passion (Eros), as well as highlighting the hugely transformative experience (Pluto) this was for me.
At our first sexual interaction, both his PNAs were transiting my Pluto, transit Kevin was with transit Wiener on my Mars, and transit Sappho conjoined natal Pecker/Yes, with a transit Pecker/Mars/Child (underage/Child male/Pecker sex/Mars) conjunction squared natal Venus/Uranus and a transit Lust/Saturn/Eros (cementing/Saturn homosexual/Eros desire/Lust) conjunction squared natal Moon. One might call that Fate.
My first serious relationship was with Jeff Bittner; beginning at age 16, it was more romantic and emotional than overtly sexual (though we did sporadically engage in carnal acts), but it was the mainstay of my psycho-sexual identity for over 8 years. There is no “Jeff” or “Jeffery” asteroid, but there are some suitable stand-ins. Asteroid Geoffroy (#12896) at 26 Gemini is exactly semisextile Mars and semisquared Venus; asteroid Jeffers (#1934) at 24 Scorpio opposes Mars, both conveying a potential for indicating sexual/romantic ties. But the kicker was probably asteroids Jeffrich (#262295) and Bittner (#6596), which at 6 Aries and 10 Libra both conjoin and oppose my natal asteroid Lust at 8 Aries. And that was just how it felt – like having a ton of sexual bricks dropped on top of me. Just to be next to him set my skin tingling, an attraction unlike any other I’ve experienced, fueled no doubt by raging teen hormones.
When Jeff and I had our first date, transit Venus and Wiener conjoined natal Lust/Jeffrich, in square to transit Kevin and trined natal Venus; Transit Jeffers conjoined my Sun, transit Bittner squared it and Venus from my Ascendant, while transit Miller, Alex (#3367, a “nickname” version of Alexander/Alexandra, and what I am mostly called) and Ganymed clustered on natal Mars, with transit Lust and Pecker conjoined and trined my natal Sun. You may recall that I mentioned taking the name “Alexander” when I came out at 17; my relationship with Jeff, which started a year earlier, was the catalyst for that announcement. Before this, I questioned if what I was experiencing was genuine attraction or mere experimentation; my feelings for Jeff made that answer very plain.
The next major relationship of my life was with John Mignone, whose last name I spliced with my own for over 15 years as my nom de plume. Over the years, our relationship has run the gamut of emotions from white-hot passion to icy indifference, but we just celebrated the 25th anniversary of whatever-this-is last spring. At this point, we’re mostly just good friends, and he is also my landlord, but our early interactions were vital for my own spiritual growth (as well as his), and I would not be the person I am today if we had never met.
Asteroid Mignonette (#12632, closest match to “Mignone”) falls at 29 Scorpio natally, opposed Mars and denoting the sexual component of our relationship (as well as its sometime fractiousness), but the truly amazing contact stems from asteroid Johnny (#3252). At 12 Sagittarius, it EXACTLY conjoins natal Juno, representing partners, pretty startling for someone whose name I used hyphenated with mine for 15 years. Johnny is also broadly squared the Moon, reflecting the domestic arrangements. We don’t cohabit, exactly, but we share the property (a duplex) and are constantly in and out of each other’s homes.
When John and I met, transit Sun/Lust/Venus squared natal Sun/Venus and opposed transit Pluto, forming a T-Square with a transit Alex and Dick conjunction; transit Kevin conjoined natal Lust and squared transit Johnny, forming a T-Square with transit Wiener; transit Ganymed exactly conjoined natal Mignonette and opposed natal Mars; transit Eros conjoined my natal Sun from atop natal Kevin; and transit Mignonette was traveling in tandem with Mars and Aphrodite, opposing natal Jupiter. Once again, Fate seems to have lent a hand.
Many things can be divined from a chart with a judicious mix of PNAs and MNAs. With my Sun closely squared Neptune at 6 Scorpio, I have a naturally addictive personality, and this has taken many forms over the years, from excessive TV watching as a kid, to excessive binge drinking in my teens, and drug use in my twenties (at around the time of my Saturn Return I began to channel this energy more productively into a study of spiritual disciplines, including astrology, though one could argue that my obsessive research into PNAs is just another manifestation of that addictive quality).
But Neptune’s chemical-escapist effect is powerfully shored up by the presence of asteroid Dionysus at 2 Leo, conjunct my Sun. Dionysus is the Greek god of wine and ecstatic trance, and rules intoxicants generally, as well as the loss of self in any number of ways (his somewhat androgynous persona leads some to consider him a sort of patron deity of gays also). Much of my time with Jeff was spent drinking, as advanced intoxication enabled him to relax and express his physical feelings for me more readily. When we broke up, it felt weird and socially stigmatized to drink alone, but I still needed that escape from reality, so I turned to drugs.
Marijuana was my drug of choice in my twenties, and this, too, can be readily surmised from PNA placements. Two common terms for marijuana, grass and herb, both have asteroid referents which fit snugly into my chart. Asteroid Herba (#880) at 19 Cancer is an exact match for natal Mercury, indicating the racing, overactive mind and intrusive thoughts which pot was used to quell. Even more apt, asteroid Grass (#11496) at 5 Scorpio closely conjoins Neptune/Ascendant and factors into the solar square.
Astoundingly, my drug connection from those days is present, too! Again, in light of the fact that this was an illegal activity, I’m suppressing the name, but my source for almost a decade at that time was a friend, originally a co-worker. An exact PNA match for her first name appears at 10 Scorpio, conjunct Neptune/Grass. But she didn’t make the actual purchase, either – that was farmed out to her younger sister, who was heavily into the drug culture (but whom I never met at the time, our transactions proceeding via the intercession of my friend). When I first plugged her name into my chart, I was amazed, but perhaps not surprised, to find it at 6 Cancer, in exact trine to my natal Neptune. The ease of the trine was well reflected in that connection, which was so natural, simple and risk-free for me, three steps removed from the actual dealer. Even after I stopped buying, my friend and I remained in sporadic contact over the years, and just this spring I heard that she had passed suddenly, only a few weeks after a solar eclipse which fell within two degrees of her PNA in my chart. It was at her funeral that I first met her sister, who had helped me out all those years ago, and had the opportunity to thank her personally.
Even my work history can be seen in PNA contacts of several employers and teachers. After graduation from The Restaurant School, my first boss was Beatrice Nichols, owner of Ecco restaurant in Philadelphia. Asteroid Nichols at 28 Libra opposes asteroid Cook (#3061) at 24 Aries, asteroid Nichol (#163641) at 16 Pisces opposes my Moon at 19 Virgo (ruling cooking) and sextiles Saturn (bosses) at 13 Capricorn. Asteroid Beatrix (#83) at 21 Scorpio squares Uranus at 20 Leo (she was foreign, and frankly, a bit mental).
After leaving the cooking profession, for years I worked for Joe Sherman at his video rental store; asteroid Sherman (#21621) falls at 15 Leo, in my Tenth House (ruling work and career), conjunct my Venus, which rules entertainment, and inconjunct Saturn, bosses again. This was a transitional phase where I was more focused on my inner development than material success. My mentor and first teacher in astrology was Amanda Owen; asteroid Owen (#164792) at 20 Gemini opposes Jupiter (teaching after primary education) and is semisquare asteroid Urania, named for the muse of astrology, at 4 Taurus. Asteroid Amanda (#725) at 0 Aquarius squares Urania and opposes my Sun.
This spring I finally found a home for the revised and expanded version of “The Black Hole Book”, which I originally self-published in 1995, as an e-book through Crossroad Press. My publisher, David Wilson, is doubly represented in eerily appropriate ways, with asteroid Davida (#511) at 27 Sagittarius, on my Jupiter (publishing) at 24 Sagittarius, and asteroid Wilson (#2465) at 22 Cancer, on my Mercury (ruling writing) at 19 Cancer.
And on it goes. I recently had occasion to note that my car, a 2004 Chevy Cavalier, died under a transit Mercury/Pluto opposition which loosely overlaid my natal Mercury/Saturn opposition. Certainly an appropriate manifestation, both of the moment (demise/Pluto of a car/Mercury) but also the natal potential (cars/Mercury being a problem or hassle/Saturn). Mercury was at 12 Cancer and Pluto was at 11 Capricorn, and when I checked, I found an asteroid Cavalieri (#18059) which, at the time my Cavalier died, was at 10 Libra, nicely fitting into a T-Square.
I hope this chronicle has provided convincing evidence of the importance and impact PNAs can have in a birth chart, and may encourage you to research your own personal connection to the cosmos.