Makemake - The New Plutoid-Planet ~ 14 July 2008

Yesterday was an interesting day. I woke up and did my morning drill of checking the astronomical blogs and websites that deal with new discoveries and the naming of new bodies. My instincts reported something was up; no evidence supported the tingling awareness. As the day continued and frustrated with the lack of news, I settled in to flip TV channels hoping for something of interest. For a spell, I stuck on The Bounty, the Mel Gibson/Anthony Hopkins telling of the tale of mutiny and love in the South Pacific. As I watched I pondered the star lore of the South Pacific and contemplated the book idea I have about Pacific Rim sky lore and mythology. I thought of the movie Whalerider and I thought of the movie Rapa Nui and made a note to get a copy of the latter to watch again. And then as a not so lazy Sunday afternoon tends to go, a quick check of online resources revealed several blog flurries claiming 2005 FY9, minor solar system body 136472, finally received an official name: Makemake. Quickly, I wrote Mike Brown, discoverer of this body, Eris and the yet to be named and so very intriguing 2003 EL61. He referred me to his freshly posted blog: wherein he states that the naming process of Eris almost made him a believer in astrology. You gotta love this guy for that at least. Despite the colloquial interim naming processes, he attends to new body naming with reverence and consciousness. In his blog, he offers up this thought process of coming up with a name to propose to the Saturnine International Astronomical Union, which offers up juicy insights into the unconscious process that planets invoke even before we are cognizant of their import.

Had the International Astronomers Union not revised its planetary definition during the last Mercury retrograde, Makemake would be a dwarf planet. Instead, he’s a plutoid with an orbital period of 307.98 years and a diameter roughly two-thirds that of Pluto. Discovered just after Easter (March 31, 2005), Makemake took on a colloquial namesake that provided a level of curious foreshadowing for astrologers as well as the naming astronomer: Easter Bunny (Eris was Xena, EL61 is Santa Claus and Sedna was Flying Dutchman). Anyway, the rest of the orbit is fairly ordinary. The eccentricity of Makemake is mild at 0.157 and its inclination angles at 28.9 degrees, far less disturbing than that of Eris.

Because he has an orbit longer than that of Pluto, according to astronomical naming criterion, he was obliged to receive the name of a deity of resurrection or creation. Makemake is the name of a Polynesian God, said to have been the creator of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), the naval of the earth, its people and bore responsible for its continuing fertility. From the naming citation issued by the IAU: “Makemake is the creator of humanity and the god of fertility in the mythology of the South Pacific island of Rapa Nui. He was the chief god of the Tangata manu bird-man cult and was worshipped (sic) in the form of sea birds, which were his incarnation. His material symbol, a man with a bird's head, can be found carved in petroglyphs on the island.”

An annual ceremony to honor Makemake consists of a perilous trek along the seaside cliffs where the seabirds nested, hunting for eggs in the lofty nests. The person who found the first egg of the season received a ceremonial reward. The egg finder submitted to eyebrow and eyelash shaving and was led to a ceremonial cave where that soul would spend a year in ceremonial isolation. This theme created the plot points of the movie Rapa Nui.

Does this creation-oriented birdman now appear to heal the nefarious role of the birdman in the myth of Sedna? How curious that 2005 FY9 received the nickname Easter Bunny and ended up with a name from Easter Island and a lore heavy in the spiritual implication of eggs and bringing to mind Oester - and the many spelling variations thereof, the fertility pagan goddess associated with Easter? Is it too odd that the inhabitants of Rapa Nui who have nearly become extinct on more than one occasion because of disease, imposed slavery by European “discoverers,” geological and ecological disasters and other causes would hold fertility in such high regard? Isn’t it astrologically interesting that the naming occurred with Uranus in Pisces (retrograde) virtually in exact opposition to his position in Virgo (he is at 22 Virgo 58 right now)? Pisces refers to the sea - thus the sea culture. Uranus is somewhat isolationistic as is Easter Island’s location and this is the first official Polynesian name of celestial bodies - an innovative and tradition disturbing feat. Finally, isn’t it interesting that Eris is about being excluded and Makemake is geared to choosing voluntary isolation? How healing is he going to be? The early indications certainly speak of great promise.

Other places in which makemake appears in an internet search: Makemake is a Perl script which automatically attempts to generate a makefile from a provided set of source files. The source files may be either C, FORTRAN77 or Fortran 90 languages or some combination of these. Hmm, there seems to be a Gemini flavor here, which brings to mind the orbital elements of Makemake. The north node (heliocentric) of Makemake lines up at 19 Gemini 36. It’s closest contact to the Sun, the perihelion, as seen from the Sun’s view is 15 Aries 12. Another curiosity appears here. Makemake, a deity of abundance, fertility and creating more, comes closest to the Sun in the same neighborhood as the abundance oriented, too much of a good thing Jupiter (15 Aries 21).

Previously I had generated keywords for Makemake based upon the node and perihelion degree. Now, with the namesake and associated mythology, these have been modified to include:

Positive: Articulate and ultra-communicative. Self-assuredness, especially by verbal means. Clever, quick-witted and interested in invoking insight and inspiration with speech. Quick to report findings, regardless of impact. Courageous, possessing the willfulness to confront the peril required for discovery or spiritual evolution. Conscious of family security and safety. Protection of the brood.


Negative: Cunning and verbally manipulative. Double talk. Diversion of facts. Declaring false findings (laying an egg, so to speak). Taking flight to avoid consequence. Hiding as a coping skill. Reckless. Disregard for safety of the home. Self-serving.


Mundane: Data collection to support a doctrine or cause. Books, especially those of multi-cultural interest. Translation especially with a cross-cultural theme. Cultural synthesis. Integration of tasks. Computer iterations and/or algorithms. Dissemination of information whether true or false. Split second decisions. Lightning fast assessment. Fertility and fertility procedures. Birds. Fans. Eggs. Creeds. Documents of self declaration - affirmation statements, bios or autobiographies, a feather in one’s cap, selecting a safe location for nesting.


Ceremonial: Incantations. Oral remedies for healing. Meditations to unify the minds of several. Isolation for ceremonial purposes. Shamanic retreat. Cave ceremonies. Ceremonies involving hair cutting. Personal acceptance of one’s cause and karma. Ceremonies involving the use of feathers or eggs (feather fans, Eagle feather cleansing, the egg diagnostics of curanderos and curanderas - common in Ecuador, one of Rapa Nui’s neighbors).

There seems to be a matter of potential conflict in the decision making process that surrounds the Makemake annual ceremony. The Easter Island annual egg hunt was a big deal. It was perilous along those lofty cliffs. It was competitive. If one found the first egg, the reward consisted of a year’s worth of shamanic isolation. Would the soul lucky enough to find the first egg hesitate, ponder the fate and encounter conflict regarding a prompt reporting of the finding? When confronting spiritual quests and journeys, does a process of deliberation occur that assesses the known mundane world versus the year of dark, underworldly journey? Is it natural to second guess spiritually based decisions? Most likely. In an indigenous culture such honors and quests are more readily accepted. Given that Makemake is beyond Pluto’s orbit (his perihelion is 35.021 AU, five AU more distant than Pluto’s and his aphelion lies at a distant 51.545 AU, slightly more than Pluto’s greatest distance from the Sun) his essence is that of what comes after transformation. Imagine what a year in ceremonial solitude might bring. Granted, that’s most likely impossible for the average modern human. But what could be done with a year in which there are sacred, uninterruptible times of daily solitude? What could be accomplished in consciousness with a daily willingness to go in the depths? Given the Aries-Gemini components of the Makemake orbital elements, one must defeat or make peace with internal chatter to come out on top with a strong sense of self and a feeling of dominion over one’s life. Such a view of dominion comes more easily on cliffs and ledges where large birds ride the thermals. The appearance of Makemake suggests that this is the time for new perspectives, richer ceremonial commitment and a far greater fertility of consciousness. Makemake is here to guide the next steps of the processes of individual and collective transformations.

Oh, if that’s not enough, Pluto goes into Capricorn for real on July 20th. From the Sun’s point of view, irrespective of Earthly motion, Pluto dives into the domain of the goatfish until January 2024!