Pluto, the planet of transformation, was discovered in 1930, coinciding with the birth of Fascism and the rise of the third Reich in Germany. Its name is synonymous with Hades, God of the Underworld, and, if one believes in synchronicity, represents the transpersonal force of our collective shadow or dark side.
Then, when Transiting Saturn, the Lord of Karma, was at 18 degrees Cancer conjunct Pluto’s discovery point in 1945─BOOM! We dropped the first atomic bombs or should I say plutonian bombs. Dropping a not so subtle hint that the power of Pluto, especially when it conjoins with the energies of the planet of structure, Saturn, packs a punch that is explosive, annihilating and destroys everything in its path down to dust . . . before anything new can arise from the ashes.
Now that Pluto is transiting the Saturnian and structure-ruling sign of Capricorn, between 2008 and 2024, we can expect to see a lot of structures on the Earth plane undergoing a similar process of transformation through cycles of death and rebirth. The last time Pluto was in Capricorn, we had the American Revolution, so that will give you some idea of the energies we’re dealing with.
Added to this, Uranus, the trickster planet of change, is forming an ongoing series of seven squares or challenges to Pluto through 2015, beginning in June and September of 2012. So, we can expect times of explosive dissolving of structure just about everywhere and just about at any time.
The last time Uranus and Pluto squared off was in the beginning years of the Great Depression of the 1930’s when Uranus was last in Aries. Then, tens of thousands of homeless veterans camped out in Washington DC demanding a fair deal inspiring the New Deal to be launched. Sound familiar? And the last conjunction occurred in the 60’s when “power to the people” became the rallying cry for a generation followed by anti-war protests. Now, with the closing square, we’re experiencing the beginnings of the next level of this theme arising.
So, if we can imagine a breakdown in financial systems causing a revolution in our political structures that is a pretty good prediction of what’s coming up, based on our most recent historical occurrences with similar planetary alignments.
That’s why buckling our seat belt for this ride is such a good idea. But what else can we do? I’m so glad you asked. We can own our inner Plutonian energies, as well as our Uranian (for more on this, please read:
To integrate these energies in us as consciously as possible we need to accept the philosophy: as above, so below, as without, so within, or, in other words, we’re all microcosms of the Universe. Furthermore, to the degree that we can own and integrate our dark transformational power and shadow side within, to that degree will we not project it out onto the world or others. Judgment always creates separation, with which there is no possibility of unity consciousness. And the judgment starts with the disowning of our own Plutonian natures.
We all do have a shadow side in us─some a lot more than others─as humans have had since the beginnings of time. But, since Pluto’s discovery in 1930, perhaps its more than a sign from the Higher Forces that it’s time to start owning all that we are rather than projecting what we judge as not “all right” out into the world. As we at least try to find a balance of owning some of our Plutonian power, we’ll find that we won’t need to see the world projected on as too terrifying a place to ever feel safe in.
Some of us are born true Plutonians. This means we have active contacts with Pluto and the angles in our chart or personal planets: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars─or that we have one or more of our personal planets in Scorpio. Others manifest their Pluto energy with a loaded up or Scorpio-ruled 8th house which covers the realms from sex and death to metaphysics.
Those of us who have innate Plutonian energy─whether it be through the Sun, Moon or Ascendant in Scorpio or conjunct Pluto─will be less likely to be OK with having a calm relatively simple on the surface life and relationships. Pluto and Scorpio-types like to go as deep below the surface of everything as possible.
For those of us who have a less active Plutonian profile natally─not to worry! We ALL get our Pluto and Scorpio natures activated sooner or later by progression and transit.
The truth is that power, in and of itself, is neither light nor dark─it’s just energy. And we all have a free will choice as to how to use this energy. Based on the chakra system, there are seven levels of power: spiritual power, psychic power, communication power, heart power, ego power, sensual and creative power, and survival power.
The sign of Scorpio, ruled by Pluto, has three evolutionary stages: the scorpion, the eagle and the dove. We learn right use of power through misuse in the lower chakras/scorpion phase. Then, we learn to practice this right use of power by the development of the personal will expressed through the heart center in the eagle phase. Ultimately, we can evolve to a place where the ego is transmuted completely through the higher centers and we become a channel for the Divine to use us as a transformational power for good as the dove.
To give you a taste of Plutonian energy, here are some examples of just how strong a Scorpio rising or Pluto on the ascendant or in the 1st house can be. All will have some degree of a “don’t mess with me” energy and piercing eyes emanating dark power that see beneath the surface. (And for those of you not fluent in “astrologese”─here’s a link for some: Astrology Basics)
Greta Garbo, with Pluto on the ascendant in Gemini: mysterious, hypnotic, secretive and craving solitude (except on her terms).
Mario Napoli─four-time international martial arts champion─with Pluto on the Ascendant in Leo, who said of himself─”I’m king of the world!” HA!
Mae West, with Pluto and Neptune in the 1st house, could not just walk her talk, she could give you a running commentary: “Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” If Mars is the sexual act, then Pluto is the orgasm, the “little death” bringing up fear of annihilation. Powerfully sexual women can be terrifying─epitomized perfectly by the archetypal Plutonian energies of the Goddess, Kali, known as the Devourer (of men, among other things).
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, with Pluto on the ascendant: “Armageddon is coming!” Oh, pleeze
Jack Nicholson, with Pluto on the ascendant, “You want the truth, but you can’t handle the truth!”
Bernard Kerik, with Pluto on the ascendant from the 12th house of secrets, was the potential director of homeland security? NOT! Too many dark secrets there.
Uma Thurman, with Pluto conjunct the south node in the 1st house, starring in Kill Bill, perfectly karmically cast as an assassin.
Truman Capote, with Pluto on the ascendant from the 12th house and with Mars conjunct the south node in the 8th house, exploring dark themes like In Cold Blood, writing eerily like he had been present at the scene.
Yasser Arafat, with Pluto and Venus conjunct the ascendant in Cancer: “I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter’s gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”
Madame Blavatsky, with Pluto on the Midheaven, ruling her public image through the teachings of theosophy.
What about Pluto when it’s on the descendant or in the 7th house of partnership? Jim Morrison, with Pluto conjunct the north node in Leo on the descendant, “Come on Baby Light my Fire.”
What about Pluto/Sun contacts?
There’s Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, with Pluto/Sun/North Node in Cancer in the 10th house of vocation. Her mission was to create a whole new way of working with mourning, dying and death consciously and without fear.
Mick Jagger, with Pluto/Sun/Jupiter/Mercury/North Node all in Leo at the nadir of the chart─the core of his being, singing: “Under My Thumb” and “Sympathy for the Devil.”
Madonna, with Pluto/Sun/Mercury in Leo in the 12th house of secrets, conjunct the moon in Virgo on the ascendant from the 1sthouse: Non-disclosure clauses and perfectionism for sure!
What about if Pluto is squared or in opposition to the Sun? There’s Martin Luther King, with the opposition fighting the dark forces of segregation epitomized by the KKK with the power of his will.
And with Pluto square the Sun? There’s President Jimmy Carter fighting Khomeini in Iran, Louis Pasteur fighting germs, and the investigative reporter, Seymour Hirsh, fighting to find out the truth.
Can you feel the difference when Pluto is square or opposed one’s Sun? It’s like there’s something outside of oneself one needs to fight against. This is how it can feel when one has transiting Pluto challenging one’s personal planets as well as in the natal chart. Finding out what transits are coming up helps us consciously prepare for going with the Flow and not feeling powerless or victimized, but rather empowered and inspired. (For more on this, please check out: ASTROLOGICAL SERVICES)
What about Pluto/Moon contacts and the potentials for the emotions to be a vehicle for transformation? If these powerful energies remain unevolved there can be an unconscious infantile pattern of emotional hunger and being around people like this feels like being around a bottomless pit of emotional/psychic vampire drainage saying feedmefeedmefeedme. If this energy is unresolved, being pissed off at having no power to get fed can be expressed through regression, aggression or a mix of the two.
For example, Milosevic has Pluto/Moon and Chiron, the wounded part of himself, in the 4th house of his childhood. So, if he’s pissed off and wounded, he’s going to make sure you are too. Then there’s Larry Flynt, with a Pluto/Moon conjunction in his 3rd house of communication. Enough said.
Here are some examples of more evolved Pluto/Moon contacts:
Mozart, with Pluto/Moon in Sagittarius.
Bjork, with Pluto/Moon/Sun in the 12th house.
The poet, Shelley, with Pluto/Moon in the 12th house.
Edgar Cayce, the sleeping prophet, with Pluto/Moon/Neptune in Taurus in the 10th house.
Bette Davis, with Pluto/Moon in Gemini in the 7th house, saying, with those eyes, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride” and you better believe it!
Carl Jung, with Pluto/Moon/Neptune in Taurus in the 3rd house, says: “My life has been permeated by one goal: to penetrate the secrets of personality.”
And with Pluto and an Aries moon in the 8th house in opposition, everyone’s against him─in this case the church, but he must first be true to himself: Martin Luther.
Then there are Pluto/Mercury contacts. Here’s some examples of transformation ways of communicating:
Isadora Duncan, with Pluto/Mercury/Neptune/Sun conjunct in the 1st house, created a new school of dance.
Otto Von Bismarck, with Pluto/Mercury in Pisces in the 8th house.
Van Gogh, with Pluto/Mercury/Uranus/Saturn in the 11th house.
Marianne Williamson, with Pluto/Mercury in the 9th house of philosophy and higher truths.
And with Pluto square Mercury, feel the power of their words: Jesse Jackson and Machiavelli, with his Pluto in the 8th house squaring Mercury and opposing Mars.
Now for some examples of my favorite Pluto aspect: contacts with Venus, the Planet of love. When these two planetary energies synergize positively there is the potential for great transformational power through the sexual act. The astrologer Jeanne Avery called this the courtesan/high priestess axis which could also be activated through Pluto in the 7th or 8th houses or having Scorpio ruling there.
Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas have this Pluto/Venus conjunction. Hothothot! Then there’s Starhawk with the conjunction in the 11th house for some good witchy goddess energy. Xaviara Hollander, the Happy Hooker, has this conjunct the North Node of destiny in the 3rd house so she was really being true to herself through her vocation, as was the Sydney Biddle, the Mayflower Madam, with this conjunction in the 9th house of publishing, so she wrote about her experiences too!
Casanova had Pluto opposing Venus and Mercury in the 5th house of romance, with Uranus rising on a Scorpio ascendant─how could he not be the archetypal master seducer, a man with 1000 faces, all of them wanting to seduce his next conquest?
Frank Sinatra had Pluto in the 9st house opposing Venus in the 3rd house, along with Scorpio rising, and you can bet that crooning was one of his methods of seduction.
Clyde Barrow, of Bonnie and Clyde fame, had Pluto/North Node on the Ascendant square Venus in the 10th house and became famous for the intermingling of sex and violence.
Jack Nicholson again, for Pluto in the 1st house square Venus in the 10th, known for being a legendary love ‘em and leave ’em type.
If expressed positively, the Pluto/Venus contacts can be experienced as transcendental through using the sexual energies─especially through Taoist or Tantric practices as a vehicle for spiritual transformation. With this aspect there can be a desire for annihilation of the little self through sexual union. And from this losing of self─this dispersal─there can then be experienced the finding of self, re-formed, renewed and made whole through this alchemical union─but with less attachment to the individual ego identity.
If the powerful erotic energy of Venus/Pluto contacts is not owned by one who has it, it’s very common for it to be projected on to partners who then emanate this perhaps dangerous sexual power. An example of this is only being attracted to bad boys (or girls), assassins, sociopaths, outlaws, criminals, etc. Then, especially if these Pluto/Venus contacts are combined with Neptunian energies that, if unevolved, can create a fog of delusion─there can be power struggles, romantic abuse, violent patterns and a desire to be taken out or owned by the partner. And if one’s Plutonian/Venusian/Neptunian energies are completely denied and unconscious, the desire to be possessed or annihilated can become quite literal.
Here are some examples of Pluto/Jupiter contacts and you can decide for yourself whether the creative power of transformation is operating at a level of misuse, (including being overly excessive), right use, or transcendent use:
Napoleon Bonaparte, with Jupiter in Scorpio rising, and Pluto opposing Venus in the 8th house of sex and metaphysics.
Picasso, a Scorpio, with Pluto/Jupiter/Neptune /Saturn in Taurus in the 10th house of his vocation.
Edgar Allan Poe, with Pluto/Jupiter/Moon/Venus in Pisces.
Sean Connery, with Pluto/Jupiter in the 7th house square Venus.
Robert DeNiro, with Pluto/Jupiter/Sun/North Node in Leo, the actor’s sign: “You talkin to me?”
Martha Graham, with Pluto/Jupiter/Neptune in the 1stt house, creating a new school of dance.
Ram Dass, with Pluto and Jupiter on the ascendant in Aries: “Be Here Now.”
Mel Gibson, with Pluto/Jupiter square Mars/Saturn in the 5th house─creative drive at odds with explosive internal pressures.
Marlon Brando, with Pluto opposing Jupiter in the 1st house (can tend to make one larger or larger than life) square Sun/Moon in Aries in the 5th house of creativity.
Albert Einstein, with Pluto square Jupiter, trine Mars.
Billy Graham, with Pluto/Jupiter opposing Moon/Mars.
Warren Beatty, with Pluto in 10th house opposing Jupiter.
Ava Gardner, with Pluto in 12th trine Jupiter and Mars─a grand trine in water.
Bill Gates, with Jupiter/Pluto in the 2nd house of financial resources.
And for some egregious misuse: Jim Jones, of the Kool-Aid cult, Pluto/Jupiter in the 7th house.
And Saddam Hussein with Pluto opposing Moon/Jupiter.
Now, for some examples of the potentially most scary contacts: Pluto and Mars, the planet of War and Aggression:
Harry Houdini, with Mars/Pluto at the nadir─famous for his death defying stunts.
Nureyev, with Pluto square Mars in the fifth house of creativity and romance trine his sun─famous for his dancing and romancing.
Arnold Swarzenegger, with Pluto in the 12th house of secrets opposing his Sun and Moon and squaring Mars.
Muhammad Ali, with Pluto in the 12th house in a grand cross with a square to Mars in the 6th house of health (Parkinson’s), a square to Jupiter in the 10th, winning the world championship, and opposing the Sun and Moon.
Malcolm X, with Pluto/Mars in the 7th house.
Angelina Jolie, with Pluto opposing her Moon/Jupiter/Mars in the 9th house of film in Aries, trine her Sun─and we can’t take our eyes off of her─but also sense her dangerous quality which is perhaps why she is so mesmerizing.
Machiavelli, with Pluto square Mercury, Pluto opposing Mars in the 2nd house of the personal value system, writer of political books such as The Prince and seven volumes on The Art of War.
And last, but certainly not least in this category, Osama Bin Laden, with Mars/Ascendant/South Node in Taurus square a retrograde Pluto, indicating past life issues with violence that he is attached to for his identity as well as karmic misuse of power.
Pluto/Neptune contacts indicate a strong ability to reach the masses for good or ill. Hitler and Speer are examples of the latter.
And finally, let’s look at some Pluto/North Node of destiny contacts, signifying that the person is here in this life to come into their transformational power as part of their karmic direction and that the path of least resistance would be to give their power away.
Allan Ginsberg, with Pluto/North Node in Cancer in the 5th house of creativity─he wrote the poem, “Howl.”
Marilyn Monroe, with Pluto/North Node in Cancer in the 12th house of secrets.
Catherine Denueve, with Pluto/Moon/North node in the 7th house of relationships, she was “The Face of France.”
Sigmund Freud, with Scorpio rising, and Pluto/North Node/Venus in the 6th house of the mind/body connection. How could his life’s work not revolve around Eros being at the root of human behavior?
I hope these examples give you a feel for Pluto/Scorpio energy in the birth chart. And what’s most important to remember is that we ALL have Pluto in our charts, meaning we all have a dark/shadow side. And sooner or later, we will ALL have Pluto transits that activate our Plutonian transformational power. When that happens, the more prepared we are to choose right use of this power, the less potential for incurring karma against ourselves and others. We do this by doing conscious work to own and transmute all parts of our being─including the most secret─through the heart and into the Light.
When Pluto transits oppose or square our personal planets, it can feel as if it is all outside forces that are ganging up on us. But, even if it is not all truly projection─at least in the smaller picture in this plane of duality─it is still betterto try to use all the situations seemingly against us as a form of spiritual resistance training, pushing us to use challenging circumstances for our growth and thus strengthen our commitment to the next level of our evolution.
For example, in my case, I never really felt my Pluto fully, i.e., my dark transformational power, until I was 38. That’s because in my birth chart, my Pluto in Leo is intercepted in the 7th house of committed partnership, and not only is it my only planet in fire, but it is also my only planet in an intercepted sign. This means that it’s hard for me to access the energies of Pluto and that this placement is karmic. I call intercepted planets as well as retrogrades in the natal chart, “safety sealed” for our own protection . . . until the time is right.
When transiting Pluto hit my midheaven and entered into my career house, the time was right to own ALL my power, as it squared my natal Pluto and trined Uranus for a “go with the flow of change” push. At that point, I had to choose between coming into my own power through my vocation or staying in a committed relationship which had begun to plateau and where I would need to dim my light to sustain its viability.
Well, Pluto won─as it always does! I chose to come into my power and make a clean break from a relationship that was becoming subtly disempowering. Ever since then, I have felt my Plutonian energies as an integral part of my being and as part of my authentic voice in the world.
For several years preceding this Pluto transit, I’d done a lot of deep past-life regression work to own my dark power, accept it without judgment and then choose to transmute this energy through the heart center into the Light of right action. Since then, I have also helped hundreds of clients do similar work in psychic therapy to own their cut-off dark side, and transform these Plutonian energies to serve their and other’s highest good.
For more on this period in my life, please check out my memoir: COSMIC SUGAR, written under my pen name, Leela Jones.
If one has a relatively unaspected (referred to as a singleton) Pluto, there’s a danger that one can project all their dark power out into the world. And don’t forget that our souls choose our birth charts as perfect vehicles for our karmic healing. (For more on this, see: LEELA) Taken to its extreme, one can then feel absolutely powerless against this projection. This sets up an unconscious victim mentality, which manifests as external events to re-entrench the limiting beliefs of powerlessness.
Many Neptunian and Piscean types tend to go this route and believe that they’re made up of only light energy and that dark power has nothing to do with them. I had one psychic therapy client, a Jungian psychoanalyst, who was writing a dissertation on “the shadow” but denied she had any darkness in her!
After we accessed her dark side through past-life regression therapy, she was able to own ALL of her power and consciously transmute her shadowy Plutonian energies through the heart and commit to right use. Then, she became more whole and integrated─with no parts repressed, denied and compartmentalized. This process enables us to experience unity consciousness─”as without, so within”─with no judgment or separation and no need to project inner darkness out and experience it coming back at us.
In closing, cultivating a taste for intensity has many levels. The ultimate intensity being absolute reality which can be terrifying, but at the same time makes us feel the most fully alive. Sexual orgasm, the little death, gives us a taste of this annihilation of the little self in the Void, as do many other Tantric and Taoist practices. (for more on this: Tantric and Taoist Practices)
When Pluto activates us, whether through inner owning or outer transits, if we have already cultivated a taste for living on the razor’s edge between life and death─fear and excitement─then we can begin to feel like the ruler of our own internal underworld. Then Pluto can’t devour us by feeling like the forces of darkness are coming at one or the Void is rising up around one’s feet, because the Void and the darkness are already owned and residing within.
Pluto is the God of the underworld and, as we become the god or goddess of our own internal underworld, we’ll find that this is the only path to true wholeness and integration. When we can dissolve duality and projection from the screen of our perception, we no longer need to fear Pluto eating us for lunch. But rather, we can enjoy knowing that we contain the whole Universe inside of us—arising out of the inner Void spontaneously in each moment—and that this Universe contains all that we have ever feared and all that we have been seeking.
PS The decision to downgrade Pluto to less than full planet status in 2006 will more than likely be overturned by 2015 when NASA’s investigation will be complete. In the meantime, all that this man-made error in judgment did (only 5% of astronomers voted for this demotion) was piss Pluto off. And we wouldn’t want that to go on indefinitely, would we?
PPS as of 2020, Pluto has remained relegated to the “dwarf planet” category. So, he’s still plenty pissed off:).