Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Nature of Pluto

Last week I was writing about Neptune, and what seems to me to be his most fundamental meaning, which is the stories, or myths, that describe our world. All those descriptions are simply stories we tell ourselves, rather than hard, ‘objective’ realities. This applies even at the most basic level, where we divide the world into subject and object, and into the senses of time and space, all of which enable us to order and make sense of our experience.
They are structures imposed on experience by the brain and shared by others, so they seem objective. But they are just stories about how things are. They are the world of appearances. Neptune is the undivided reality behind it all – the ocean – but Neptune is also the mythopoeic imagination that helps us makes sense of the ocean.

But there is another planet out there with Neptune, namely Pluto, and he is even more distant. We know he is Lord of the Underworld, that he rules the economy and power and hidden things and the shadow and death and transformation. But along with Neptune, he also describes the most fundamental realities. What, in Pluto’s case, might this be?

I think that the clue lies in the word ‘power’. I think that Pluto is the most basic force of all: the power to live, the ‘life-force’, if you like. Pluto is what keeps us wanting to stay alive, he is our instinct to survive, and he is the urge that created the universe in the first place. Out of that comes Neptune and the stories that enable us to make sense of it all.

But he is not just a unitary, nameless force. The life-force has an inherent tendency to unfold, to transform. Pluto is also a god of riches, and these riches are what comes out of that transformative power. This is why Pluto is sometimes described as ‘evolutionary’. Life is never static, it is always moving onto the next stage, even if that is death. This evolution may be conscious or unconscious, but it is always there.

The word evolution implies development, which in turn suggests becoming more advanced. Although evolution is a scientific word, it still therefore carries the suggestion of a direction, of a purpose, which is quite interesting, as though the scientists cannot help themselves. To see life as a material process that has just happened to become more complex, but which does not have any inherent direction or purpose, is to deny something deep within ourselves, something we feel deeply about being alive. And that feeling comes first, before reason. Reason helps us order and make sense of experience, but experience is always primary. We are often taught the other way round, that reason is what is ultimate and that is what makes us 'advanced'. It is one of our modern insanities. At least religion, for all its faults, does not think like this. Pluto, of course, was demoted to a dwarf planet a few years ago, and that says it all.

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The Discovery Chart for Pluto has Pluto in Cancer and the Sun in Aquarius. Pluto is Pluto, but I think we can assume that the moment he was discovered also has a particular message to tell us. Pluto in Cancer tells us that the power to live (Pluto) comes from nature (Cancer) rather than from the rational, scientific ego (Sun in Aquarius). Pluto is non-rational (as opposed to irrational, meaning out of step with reality.) Pluto is something we feel, we sense very strongly, it is the sense of life that comes before any thought about it.

Pluto has a reputation for being dark and destructive. But it is not quite like that. It is more that there is this evolutionary urge, there is life trying to move on to the next stage, because that is its nature, and something is in the way, so it cannot but push against it: that is what we experience as dark and destructive. It is like the roots of a plant breaking the flower pot that was previously a helpful container, but which has now become too small for it. Of course, it may not be obvious to us that is what is happening. To push the metaphor, the flower pot has been there for years, we have decorated it beautifully, we are very fond of it, and it has come to seem like an integral part of the plant.

So with Pluto we need to be able to distinguish between what is real and essential to our lives, and what belongs to a passing phase, however integral it may have been.
A Pluto transit can even involve moving people out of our lives, people with whom we may have been very close, or family members, because they stand in the way of the next stage unfolding. This is where Pluto can appear as ruthless, and that is because he is ruthless. Whatever stands in the way of the primary imperative, the imperative from life that it should grow, has to go.

The growth of an individual person is only superficially directed by the conscious personality. What we think of as ‘me’ is part of a larger project, and not necessarily the most important part. You can find under a Pluto transit, for example, that the energy and motivation you had always taken for granted, as ‘yours’, has been switched off. Hubris is when we think that the conscious personality is in fact in control.

Pluto will always surprise us. And he gives us the power to live our lives. When he has done his work, when he has destroyed everything standing in our way – and it can feel like it is our self that has been destroyed! – then he leaves us with a great opportunity to seize hold of the seed of something new and run with it.

One of the powers of Pluto is the ability to function independently, to stand alone. I don’t just mean this in the sense of earning a living. You can do that while remaining at a deeper level unconscious and derivative in your values. Pluto gives us the power to break free of what we have inherited and to find something that is truly our own.
There is often a wasteland and struggle and self-doubt to go through first, and the process can take many years. But you often see it in Scorpios, or people with Sun-Pluto contacts: it is like life is always pushing them to stand alone, to break free of any figures of authority – however helpful and beneficent – and to find their own voice. We are also on Uranus territory here, but it is Pluto that gives the underlying power.

I have a Moon-Saturn conjunction at 15-23 Sagittarius. It was as Pluto finished passing over these 2 in 2006 that I began this astrology blog. I had begun writing astrologically during the transit. Saturn is authority, in this case not over other people, but in the sense of having strong foundations. And that is what the blog has given me over the years. I have not been part of any astrological establishment, I do not have any certificates, and I have had to learn to take myself seriously as an astrologer without all that. Knowledge from others and their encouragement is what most of us need to start with, but in any discipline you reach a point where you need to go your own way, where you may need not to have the approbation of the establishment behind you.

This is what Pluto wants us to do, to individuate. It seems to be a particular quality of humans that you don’t find to the same degree in animals and plants. It is particular to the way that Pluto as life-force expresses itself in humans: the urge to separate off from the collective thought patterns and behaviours of the species and create something that hasn’t been there before. A bit like what evolution does on the material level, which is to create new species of increasing complexity. It’s as though with humans Pluto takes evolution onto another level, a more conscious level, and asks us to create a new species within, a species that will only ever be one of its kind, but which can inspire the same process in others.

After writing this, I looked up in what sign Pluto is exalted - where it functions most creatively - and many astrologers consider it to be Leo. Which fits, because Leo emphasises uniqueness and individuality. At the same time, for Leos that can amount to gifts that come early and which they then coast on. (Mick Jagger?) Pluto and his travails give those gifts substance and depth.

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Morvah said...

Ha! I have 15 Sag Moon as well and remember that transit vividly. Now Pluto has been squaring my 4th house Sun seemingly forever and I have been levered out of the nice house with unhealthy vibes which that Moon transit tipped me into! Bless Jupiter, I have found another one which is going to be very different I think. Love these articles and your independent status which is heartening.

Anonymous said...

Great article! I am an Aquarian myself, also an independent astrologer (no astro courses, certificates whatsoever). The transit of Pluto is heading forward to hit my Moon/Saturn in Aries square Venus in Capricorn. My native Pluto is in Virgo conjunct Uranus in Virgo. I guess you are right this transit will give me the strength to individualise on a higher level.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dharmaruci, for posting your thoughts on this transit. You do have a wealth of practical experience (I admit, I peeked at your chart). I find it disturbing to have knowledge that the transit is forthcoming but lack an awareness of how it will all play out. Oh well, life's excitement is often in the mystifying.

My story is transiting Pluto (ASC ruler) making 1st approach within orb to my 3rd house Cappy Sun (ruler H10). Noticeable effects now, greatly diminished energy and, well I am a Scorpio ASC, so most thoughts I keep to myself.

Lynn Hayes has alot of great information on her site as well. Thank you all.