In some scientific circles, Pluto is still considered, despite recent controversy, a legitimate planet. You can see it in the image here, the farthest planet out, and very tiny. Yet I find it to be one of the most intriguing of the planetary influences in the Birth Chart.
Jeff Green, founder of Evolutionary Astrology, has built an entire theory, and school, of astrology, around Pluto in the Birth Chart as the key to reincarnational history.
Pluto is not used in Classical and Medieval Astrology in the West, nor in Hindu Astrology in the East, based on the belief that Pluto has never been part of traditional astrology. There is some evidence, however, that the so-called Outer Planets – Pluto, Uranus and Neptune – were indeed known in ancient times, such as in Sumer. Sumerian tablets translated by Zecharia Sitchin tell of a cosmic event within our solar system which – among other great happenings – knocked Pluto from its orbit sending it into its present cold, outermost location.
Other texts describe the remarkable events leading to Uranus’ turning almost onto its side – a state which still mystifies modern physicists; and how Neptune became the “tranquilizer” of our planetary system, somehow holding all the planets within their given orbits.
The key words to Pluto are: Extreme Experiences, Fear, Betrayal, Sexuality, Mysteries and Mystery, Transformation, Power, Death and Regeneration.
The most apt symbol for Pluto is the Phoenix, the mythological bird that keeps rising from its own ashes. These are themes found in Scorpio, and the Eighth House of the Birth Chart, both of Pluto rules. Thus Pluto is associated with the disease of cancer, for example, because all those key words are in play at various stages of this disease, from diagnosis through treatment to remission, to recurrence (which is one possible form of Regeneration) to complete recovery (another possible form of Regeneration) occurs. And cancer may lead to death, yet we come to embrace this as leading to Resurrection in a new lifetime, either in other realms or in a return here to Earth.
So Pluto can bring or highlight power struggles is complicated by the fact that many of us are unwilling to own up to this kind of power, but are exploring and experimenting with it in our human relationships. More on power and Pluto below.
Pluto and Regeneration: Repeating Lives, Repeating Patterns
In another way, the Pluto theme of death and rebirth points to reincarnation, the cycle of many lifetimes. It also brings in the idea of karma, because karma is often the “mystery” part of events in our lives.
We try to trace motives in ourselves or other people, and try to explain events in which we are involved in terms of this lifetime alone, but find these ways of “telling the story” leave us unsatisfied. We don’t feel as if the answers given fit the question in our life, nor the feelings which surround it. When we look at these things from the Pluto perspective of a cycle of life, death and rebirth, we may feel a lot of things “click” into place, with a deep sense of understanding that was missing before.
Pluto in the Birth Chart can be a vital key to understanding repeating patterns in our lives. So often we find ourselves in the middle of the same “play on stage” over and over. The names and faces change but the dramatic sequence of events is always – either literally or symbolically – the same. It is as if these dramas have “died” but then are mysteriously “reborn” (Pluto’s signature) into our lives, yet we cannot see why this keeps happening.
Pluto’s Sign, House position and relationship with other planets in the Birth Chart help us put these dramas into words – often for the first time. And of course, in psychology especially, to name something is to take control of it. Using Pluto in the Birth Chart, we identify repeating losses of a particular kind.
Sometimes these losses are gradual and insidious, and thus fall just beyond our grasp with words. Again, being able to put a precise name on this type of loss helps in the process of extracting the meaning and then letting it all go.
Pluto tends to create sustained pressure over time which leads to the death of visible or invisible structures of some kind in one’s life, whether physical, psychological, or spiritual. When the collapse comes, it may seem very sudden, very surprising, but in retrospect, it has been a long time coming. And there is only one way to greet the discovery, and that is to embrace it, despite being at a loss to understand it till much later.
Pluto and Saturn * Bad Influences On Each Other
Pluto, of all the planets, seems most darkly influenced by close connections with Saturn, Lord of Karma, ruler of authority, government, judgments and law. As graduate of political science, my focus has always been on the unique tyranny of totalitarianism – so brilliantly described by Hannah Arendt – and the concentration camps which are its emblem.
In the larger, philosophical sense, both Pluto and Saturn are major keys to our karma and life plan challenges. In the world of politics – to which karma calls many – Pluto-Saturn connections (squares and oppositions in particular) the authority (Saturn) is corrupted by – the use of secretive, high-pressure effects of Pluto best typified by secret imprisonment under terrifying, isolating conditions. Thus we have seen modern governments – shockingly western governments at that) use “rendition” to hidden torture camps while carrying out secret operations, often against their own citizens. We have seen a steady growth in state repression and open or subtle forms of terror – Pluto rules fear in its most primal form.
The problem with the Pluto and Saturn combination is that Pluto’s natural “subversive” elements seem to predominate in the partnership. Instead of Saturn’s strict concerns for law and justice we can find the Saturn affinity for relentless structure in thought and material form, creating ideology and the deformed institutions which serve it – – police, government, courts, and armies.
Thus Saturn winds up providing the cover and justification for the always hidden, often questionable, and always extreme activities of Pluto. Saturn uses Pluto, in a sense, to go where the limits of legal authority would shut Saturn down. Saturn turns to Pluto, pretending it is just “one means” to get to the root of a situation and to turn off or control the levers of power which Pluto pinpoints.
Saturn and Pluto were precisely in “Opposition” (180 degrees apart) on September 11, 2001. As time has gone on, more and more “mysteries” (a theme of Pluto) have been identified in so-called conspiracy theories which so often turn out to be exposing conspiracies which do exist (and historians know that political conspiracies have existed from time immemorial).
At the more personal and grass-roots level, Pluto-Saturn connections in the birth chart point to where we have struggles with the formal power structures around us, such as authority figures in the home, school, and society. The entire Baby Boomer generation was born into a time when Saturn and Pluto were close together, (conjunct), both in the sign of Leo, just as they had been at the start of WW II.
The Baby Boomers kicked off “the New Age” with wholesale defiance of society and government, and despite toning this down a bit as they have aged, the Internet has reignited their fires and given their children – the Echo Boomers – a platform to launch and continue a new subversive, anti-authority grass-roots community.
The Baby Boomers and their children have been in the forefront of the “alternative history”, “hidden archeology”, and other movements in a quest to discover not only the truth behind foul-smelling political events, but the true history of human origins on earth and our relationship (perhaps) with other planetary worlds. In this context, we can see the healthy role of Pluto in its intense, never-give-up truth-seeking drive.
Pluto will be entering that iconic, Baby Boomer Sign of Aquarius in 2023 and will be there till 2044. We can expect this combination of Sign and Planet to be literally explosive. I have written in other posts about Aquarius and the realities of this still-emerging Age.
Betrayal, Power, and Exploitation
There is no doubt that Pluto influences are associated with betrayal of another person’s trust, and/or a ruthless approach to relationships and other people’s resources.
Pluto resonates, in its darkest forms, to the underworld and to the use of human beings as means to ends. However, one does not have to be a drug dealer or work for the mafia to manifest these traits in one’s own life. What is writ large in society tends to begin writ small within us all. While we can see Pluto as the Shadow “out there”, it just takes a bit more sleuthing (a very Pluto activity) to see how Pluto-type motives may actually exist in the subterranean level of our own psyches – “in here” – and be secretly and mysteriously pulling some levers in our own lives.
In that sense, Pluto effects within us cause us to betray ourselves, and to exploit ourselves – idea which take some work to get our heads around!
Pluto on its own takes us into more informal, secret power struggles such as can be found in sibling rivalry, marital ‘head-games’, and surprisingly – but very often – within friendships. A clue is that we often have no idea what is going on. Mystery is one of Pluto’s signatures. We may rack our brains over a situation, and never “crack the code” until someone points out to us that the real issue is a power struggle, pure and simple. All that endless analysis about someone’s motives (and that someone could be ourselves) may boil down to “power”.
It is hard to grasp that human beings often just want to feel the thrill of power, but we increasingly see this – via the Internet – all around us. Sexual exploitation, a truly Pluto experience, is a good example of where the issue is primarily one of power, rather than physical gratification.
Yet Pluto pinpoints where we seem to have unsuspected reserves of personal power which give us the “survivor” mystique. Pluto allows us to tap our Inner Magician, and we make the thrilling discovery that we too can “make things happen”. The spiritual challenge is to ensure that our “take back the power” motives are not as dark and devious as those with whom we struggle.
Pluto and the Magic of Lying
Neptune is associated with deception – but it takes Pluto to create the political “Big Lie”.
The Big Lie of Saturn-Pluto governments is generated as part of ideology, as a means to remaking believers in the image of the “State” or “Party”. There is a deceitful use of language and imagery (bringing in Neptune illusions) which causes the population to surrender their will to “Big Brother”. This becomes possible where there is a deep desire “to believe, to be remade”, to enter into a new reality with the ease of reciting slogans.
Children discover the power of the Small Lie very early in life. They are initially (and sometimes permanently) enchanted by it seemingly
magical ability to make facts disappear and to create new ones in their place which are accepted by parents and others. As we grow into adulthood, we are taught and usually sense that such transformation of Reality is a misuse of the power to create.
Yet as we know from depth psychology, we continue this “magical process” deep within the subconscious, where we play puppet-master with realities of our creation too Dark (we think) to be allowed out into our open, everyday lives. It is in this hidden “laboratory” within that we forge our “secret motives and secret powers” to get our own way with people in ways we are not entirely honest about, even with ourselves.
The Light(er) Side of Pluto
Relating to the power of Pluto is a challenge for us all. In another of my posts – Balsamic Moon * Mystery, Death, Rebirth – I talk about the very personal effects of a Moon phase ruled by Pluto and how we must learn to live with this, day by day.
Pluto’s healthy use can be seen, as noted above, in its drive to discover the truth in such things as crime-solving, historical, scientific, medical, spiritual and psychological research, exploration, counselling, healing (especially with addictions and cancer), and legal work involving inquiries into major public events for the sake of truth and justice.
Pluto’s gift is to carry us through “extreme experiences” which we consider suffering, yet in retrospect, we will admit changed our lives and in fact our very beings. So often we hear ourselves saying “I couldn’t go through that again, but it was worth the price”.
Many who have spent time in solitary confinement under the most unjust of conditions have later spoken of remarkable spiritual experiences and profound insights about themselves and the highest goals of humanity. People often speak of a brush with near-fatal illness, or even the death of a loved one, as a “wake-up call” which got their spiritual and psychological attention when nothing and no one had been able to get through to them.
This may be why we seek the “thrills” of extreme experiences. In a brush with death – and Pluto always implies a form of death – we encounter a new horizon beyond death, and in realizing that death is not the end, we also realize that life itself is only a part of the larger picture.
Plutonic experiences tend to “happen to us”. Yet Pluto shows, in the
Birth Chart, where we have hidden sources of power. More than mere endurance and regeneration, we can find ourselves aware of alchemical, magical power, when we seem able to touch a
magic panel in doors and walls which swing open. This is the beginning of the Shaman’s Path, where our relationship with Pluto’s power in all its forms, the good, the bad, and the ugly, will be tested to the limits.
You may also be interested in my Prince Harry Duke of Sussex * A Royal Death in the Tenth House which illustrates the strong role Pluto plays when prominent in a birth chart…