Hygeia: Asteroid of Wellness

At a time when health concerns are at the forefront of the global discussion, it’s only natural to look to the stars for guidance. But because finding evidence of a crisis in the heavens only confirms what we see on the ground in real time, it’s valuable to remember that how we address each day’s events gives us agency. Perhaps you’ve found yourself resorting to weird self-care routines in isolation, or you’ve developed a deeper relationship to rest. We’ve all discovered ways to keep stress and anxiety from taking its toll on the immune system, and chances are, there are some interesting parallels between your wellness practices and the placement of asteroid Hygeia in your natal chart.

In Greek and Roman mythology, Hygeia was a daughter of Asclepius, the god of medicine, whose symbol of a single snake entwined around a staff adorns ambulances and is embedded within the logo for the World Health Organization. One of five sisters representing aspects of health and healing, Hygeia’s domain was preventative medicine: how to care for physical and mental bodies to avoid illness, as opposed to curing illness once contracted.
Unsurprisingly, most documented evidence of her cult dates to the years following the Plague of Athens in 430 BC which killed upwards of 80,000 people. Despite a consistent worship for centuries, there are few depictions of what she looks like and statues to her name. Perhaps her most famous representation is within Gustav Klimpt’s painting, Medicine. Commissioned for the University of Vienna, Hygeia stands, dressed prominently in orange and gold, with a snake coiled around her arm.

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The word “hygiene” derives from her name, but extends beyond basic sanitation, like washing hands. Goddess Hygeia administered sound judgement, preserving the balance of the delicate flora and fauna within the body and mind. She governs the small things we do each day—drinking enough water, getting a good night’s sleep, breathing deeply—which are often overlooked.

Discovered in 1849, asteroid Hygeia is the fourth largest asteroid in our solar system, taking just over five and a half years to orbit the sun. Because of the gravitational pull of nearby planets Jupiter and Saturn, astronomers calculate that Hygeia’s orbit is subject to random changes over time.

Astrologically interpreted, health consciousness (Hygeia) is often caught in the crosshairs between idealism (Jupiter) and conservatism (Saturn). What it means to “be healthy” by employing preventive measures such as diet, exercise, medication and vaccines, meditation, or philosophy fluctuates in accordance with the dominant cultural paradigm.

No matter the doctrine of the day, Hygeia’s archetype marries science and sensitivity. Understanding its placement in the natal chart assists us in making discerning wellness choices. It illustrates prescient self-awareness if positively aspected, as well as how disease (literally, dis-ease) or even hypochondria can manifest if negatively aspected. Hygeia has been noted as having a strong presence in the charts of those who work in dentistry or other hygienic sciences, nutrition, physical fitness, ecology, preservation, and holistic healing modalities.

See below for descriptions of natal Hygeia placement by sign and house. To find your Hygeia placement, go to Astro.com. Instructions below.*

The Meaning of Asteroid Hygeia in the Natal Chart by Sign and Aspect

Aries or in the first house: For these individuals, experiencing illness or witnessing another’s health crisis during their formative years becomes personality-defining. Having suffered the consequences of neglecting preventive care, which they equate with losing their autonomy, they take direct ownership of their personal fitness, exploring different modalities, and continually updating their health goals. Their identity may also be tied to the occupations listed in the above section.

Taurus or in the second house: This Hygeia curates their wellness experience for their refined and often expensive tastes. Drawn to sensual mood-boosters like aromatherapy and massage, these individuals are in tune with their bodies and know instinctively when something is “off.” While this generally predisposes them to healthy eating, overindulging when they’re stressed can leave them feeling lethargic. They should also keep an eye on their wallet, unless they plan to settle for bargain brand vitamins.

Gemini or in the third house: These individuals put a premium on the mind, staying sharp through puzzles, brain-teasers, and keeping up on current events. Self-care territory often feels too emotional, and they can spread themselves thin trying to tackle all their doctors’ appointments at once so that they “don’t have to think about them” anymore. They must remember to give the same love to their body as they do to their intellect.

Cancer or in the fourth house: This Hygeia placement is comfortable at home and calms the mind through hibernation. Spending time with family and close friends is vital, but because this is such an empathic placement, balance is required in order to avoid absorbing others’ psychic energy. This can lead to undo anxiousness. These individuals must be cautious not to throw off their equilibrium by taking on burdens which aren’t theirs.

Leo or in the fifth house: These individuals redirect stressful energy into artistic pursuits. Health can feel like a game one is winning or losing based on access to leisure activities. These may include art, music, comedy, spending time with children or animals, or playing sports that have a greater emphasis on strategy, rather than fighting spirit. Their downfalls are vices like gambling or binging mindless entertainment. While they feel good in the moment, these “quick fixes” often create more problems than they solve.

Virgo or in the sixth house: On its face, this is an optimal placement, but Hygeia in the sign of purification doesn’t necessarily imply a premium on health. These individuals view daily routines as acts of wellness, but some routines can be draining or gratuitous. This Hygeia may get too hung up on habit, so the thought of missing their ritual creates more stress than the relief of undertaking it. They must be mindful of their priorities, as one can have a holistic wellness regimen but still forget to eat.

Libra or in the seventh house: The balance of this Hygeia placement depends on an inner sense of harmony. If that sounds vague—it is! These individuals seldom know what will keep them healthy and anxiety-free until they’ve found it, possibly stumbling upon it by accident or being referred to some technique, class, or health professional by a friend. Because they often feel blown about on the wings of chance, they must learn how to make committed and responsible choices without relying on others’ opinions. Only then will they feel in control of their wellbeing.

Scorpio or in the eighth house: While sex seems like the obvious activity here, it’s not pure release that this individual needs—facing fears helps their immune system thrive. When they take risks, they feel powerful, and when they feel powerful, they feel healthy. Sensitive souls, these individuals are subject to paranoia, like shadowboxing imaginary health scares. Trusting their intuition syncs the mind-body connection, and their wellbeing falls into place. What to be aware of: safety first!

Sagittarius or in the ninth house: These individuals acclimate easily to new places, as homesickness and culture shock affects them less. Their barometer for inner stability relies on continuous exposure to new ideas and philosophies, and they are more apt to adopt the wellness practices of foreign cultures. Because mobility is their friend, they become stressed when confined by convention or when forced to put down roots in environments that are ill-suited to their growth.

Capricorn or in the tenth house: This Hygeia placement falls in charts of those who associate wellness with public interactions. These individuals feel anxious if they are not “making progress”. You can often find them exercising in gyms or yoga studios where they meet teachers and trainers who will hold them to their fitness objectives. Although a healthy appearance has its benefits, they shouldn’t strain themselves for the sake of optics or the desire for respect.

Aquarius or in the eleventh house: These individuals evolve their approach to wellness over time by observing what motivates others. It’s best that they surround themselves with a network of health-conscious people, even if their methods or modalities are seemingly counterintuitive. These natives must be aware of how absorbent they are when exposed to new information. If around those who neglect their minds and bodies, they may fall into similar traps out of unconscious solidarity.

Pisces or the twelfth house: These individuals are drawn to behind-the-scenes or private wellness activities. This could mean anything from faith-based practices like prayer, to reflecting on the days’ events by keeping a diary, to esoteric divination like tarot and, yep, astrology.  These people need a good night’s sleep because they recuperate from stress through the REM cycle, and are generally excellent at decoding their dreams to indicate fortuitous future omens.

*To find your natal Hygeia placement there you’d have to make a profile with your birth info, then go to “Extended Chart Selection.” 
From there:

  1. Select your Name in the drop-down 
  2. Select Natal Chart Wheel under the “Chart Type” 
  3. Then under “Additional Objects” near the bottom of the page, there’s a box on the right-hand side called “Manual Entry.” Hygeia’s asteroid number is 10, so you would enter “10” in the box and click “Click Here to Show the Chart”.