Pluto is currently turning red due to its poles shifting. It’s part of a regular cycle, but he’s turning red much more strongly than astronomers had predicted. The reason for this is that he was demoted to minor planet status a few years ago, and he’s not pleased. What a way to treat the Lord of the Underworld. Pluto is also said to be the higher octave of the red planet Mars, so there is another resonance there.
Someone who clearly doesn’t honour the Lord of the Underworld is James Ray, the ‘motivational speaker’ under whose ‘expert’ leadership 2 people died in a sweat lodge in Arizona last year, and a 3rd died later from multiple organ failure. 21 of the 64 people inside the lodge were taken to hospital. According to participants, Ray kept the ceremony going despite people’s distress. Now he has been charged with manslaughter, and has pleaded not guilty.
What was he doing with 64 people inside the lodge? The leader needs to be aware of all the participants, and that is not possible with those numbers. It might have something to do with the event it was part of, which cost thousands of dollars. You make a lot more money from a lodge with 64 people than with, say, 15-20. This incident is the latest in a series going back years.
James Ray was born 22 Nov 1957. His Sun is on the Scorpio/Sag cusp, square to Pluto, and his Moon is in Sag. You have to watch it when you’ve got a hard Sun-Pluto aspect and you find yourself in a leadership position, because you don’t have an easy relationship with power. Honesty is needed. Sagittarius, with its eyes fixed on its lofty goals and grand horizons, is one of the signs that can be least interested in, or comfortable with, examining its ordinary human motives. It's a good sign, for example, for thinking that you are doing God's Will. I'd put Mr Ray in that well-known lineage of spiritual teachers, the 'charismatic psychopaths'.
(Note: if you talk to God, that makes you religious; if he talks back, that makes you psychotic!)
It has surprised me for some time that there has not been a load of legislation around sweat lodges from the health and safety people. I’ve been glad there hasn’t been such legislation, because it’s a pain and it’s restrictive, and if you’re being reasonably responsible, you don’t need it. But people like Mr Ray can spoil it for everyone else by producing a need for legislation.
A friend used to teach rock and roll dancing at a local adult education college. For him it involved people having fun and feeling at ease being sexy. He ran it for years, and then the education mafia came along and said they weren’t happy because his course did not lead to a certificate; furthermore, in the short meditation he led them through at the end, he had his eyes closed, which meant he couldn’t see what was happening, and this created health and safety issues! My friend realised it was time to stop running the classes.
But this is what the health and safety people do, and I can’t see it lessening under Pluto in Capricorn. I can imagine sweat lodges horrifying them. You’d need, for example, a building permit, a light inside, a barrier around the rocks and a door that opened automatically if it got too hot, or stayed hot for too long. You’d need someone with first aid training (not a bad idea), insurance and a doctor’s clean bill of health for all the participants. The rocks would need to go in while everyone was outside having their health checked between rounds. There would need to be a couple of emergency exits apart from the main door. The rocks would need to be of a type that let off no noxious fumes. The firekeepers would have to wear special fireproof clothing and faceguards and have a certificate.
And so on. Let’s hope Mr Ray’s behaviour doesn’t bring the health and safety mafia down on the rest of us who have been running sweats for years without serious incidents.
There is actually a Chippewa-Cree form of sweat lodge that is set up as an underworld experience. It is for moving on particularly painful or traumatic experiences. Before you go in, you put on a mask, so it's like eradicating your old identity, and that is how you remain inside the lodge. At the end you are reborn. This is very like a Pluto transit, where you die, you lose your old identity, and then you are reborn, transformed. I haven't been in one of these lodges, but a friend who has been in one described it to me (slightly against the rules, as the element of not knowing is important). The next night something old and painful moved on as if I had actually been in the lodge. In my case, it was because it made such mythic sense, because it was using a form that I was so familiar with from astrology, that I was able to connect in this way.