“Pluto connected with Venus is an important factor in love life and married life. Already in the Kosmobiologisches Jahrbuch 1965 I have drawn attention to the fact that the two “society ladies” Nitribitt of Frankfurt and Keeler of London, in fact had a close conjunction and opposition of Venus and Pluto respectively. In their cases, an excessively accentuated sex life was combined with immoral conduct.”
So says the late, great Ebertin in his seminal treatise on “The Influence of Pluto on Human Love Life”, published in English in 1970: he goes on to intimate something of the profound difficulty with the contact:
“However it must definitely not be thought that Pluto – Venus combinations are always indicative of negative qualities, and that so a warning should be given to be careful about entering into marriage with such a person… Venus and Pluto do not necessarily lead to debauched and licentious ways. They can also endow with charm and popularity.”
Of course, these observations are tinged with the zeitgeist of a different astrological outlook, one that reflects the received wisdom of its time and indeed the subjectivity of its author, but regardless, there is no doubt that Venus – Pluto contacts, most especially in a female chart, are among the most problematic of all; at least they would be considered extremely difficult if the objective of life were to realise and enjoy a calm, secure and uneventfully committed marriage. That is not to say that the contact makes such an amorous Nirvana unattainable, only considerably less likely, but the irony of Venus – Pluto is that it very often thwarts its own deepest desire: to be loved, through its compulsive expression.
Ebertin’s understanding of Venus – Pluto was – whilst laudable for its time – doomed to be overtaken by the increasing sexual sophistication of Western society and an ongoing liberalisation in particular of women’s self-expression and attitudes toward marriage and partnership. Astrology too has raised its expectations and inasmuch as we are no longer condemned by our astrology, we are equally permitted to reach for the very highest potentials of even the most difficult of Plutonic compulsions. The purpose of this life, after all, is to become our best selves: not to remain trapped in a gruelling cycle of blind, desperate self-undoing like unwitting automata enslaved by the soulless mechanisms of a rigid nativity. Venus – Pluto is no exception and shares in common with all Hadean contacts the potential for transformation: indeed, its requirement is to transformation, one that is ongoing and ever exalting, but which – by necessity of providing incentive – is in its untransformed state nothing short of ugly, base and as subjectively uncomfortable as it is objectively peculiar.
So first, to some broad ground rules. Venus – Pluto can manifest through the entire spectrum of aspectual contacts but as ever its urgency can be determined by gauging all the many factors that are the framework for understanding and insight. Consider the power and weighting of the planets themselves, the placements by house and sign, the aspect type and orb and so forth. Venus in Capricorn square Pluto in Libra will manifest very much differently from Venus in Cancer making the same aspect. To some extent Venus in Scorpio and/or the 8th will share some quality of this aspect and it cannot be denied that Pluto in Libra, most especially when found close to the Descendant and making other connections to personal planets will have some echo of this same quality.
So then, how does Venus – Pluto work in practice? We must first consider the key themes of the energies at play: Venus is concerned with being attractive; how we attract others and too how we make ourselves attractive to them. Venus defines something about beauty for us subjectively. It is most crucial in our manner of relating to the opposite sex and in a woman’s chart especially it describes something about the innate manner of appealing to men, while in a man’s chart it has more to do with the qualities that we find attractive in women. There is a subtle distinction therein of course: Venus in Virgo in a male chart and unmoderated or unrestrained by any other factor finds qualities of refinement, modesty and simplicity attractive in a woman’s manner; then too he will find a woman that is neat, who dresses simply and without ostentation and who above all appears natural and healthy, (no doubt with long, dark hair too!) most pleasing. He will not be impressed by short skirts, skimpy tops and layers of make-up. This of course describes exactly the manner in which the Venus in Virgo woman will seek to make herself appear attractive, but importantly, it does not describe the qualities that she will find attractive in a man any more than it describes the manner in which a man makes himself attractive to women (that is Mars’ domain).
Then of course we have Pluto. Much more difficult to understand, because there is no easy awareness of Plutonic tenets in the human consciousness. Pluto is hidden, forceful but in an insidious and indirect manner, deep – in the sense of being profound and for all of these reasons, he supercharges with invisible power. Most often this manifests as compulsion, which is only an imperative that is hidden from the self. While we cannot see Pluto at work in our lives we are doomed to do his bidding without having any awareness of his control except for a deep and nagging sense of discomfort and lack of ease when we are expressing the energy of the planet thus connected. This is however, a condition that is literally brimming with transformative potential since very often it is only required that one “sees” Pluto in oneself for the transmutation to begin. Seeing Pluto though, requires a glimpse of patterns of behaviour and self-expression that may be deeply unpleasant; even repugnant and it is no surprise therefore that we would very often prefer to not look at all. Pluto rules key biological drives, and as such it coarsens (where Neptune by contrast refines) and when all of these principles are combined we arrive at an expression of the Venusian principle that – untransformed – is crude (at least in terms of subtlety and sophistication), compulsive and control-focused. The symptoms of Venus-Pluto therefore are an obsession with appearance, in women especially this can manifest as the type of person who dresses in a noticeable manner, and usually one that makes a feature of her ‘best attributes’ in some way. Then too, in encounters with the opposite sex the Venus-Pluto person seems to embark on a continual charm offensive which can be quite overwhelming to the recipient. If you find yourself in contact with Venus – Pluto you may well feel as though you are “in the headlights” as the intensity and focus that characterise the interaction is really quite startling. There is often a magnetic, covertly (and occasionally overtly) sexual undercurrent in the exchange but even where the interaction occurs between members of the same sex this rather disconcerting energy seems to be brought to bear: the Venus – Pluto native wants you to find them attractive, wants to be appreciated, admired and loved, even in the most fleeting and innocuous of encounters.
Of course, the exchange is rarely comfortable for anyone. There is a fundamental sense of anxiety – as with any Plutonic contact – when the untransformed energies are brought to bear. People with Venus – Pluto contacts are actually involved in an inner struggle, the people upon whom they turn their charms find it flattering but usually disconcerting and observers will very often feel ‘shut-out’ of the interaction as well. With Venus-Pluto, three is most definitely a crowd. Inevitably this creates enormous difficulties for the spouses and partners of the Venus – Pluto native, but quite possibly, with time and realisation that these intense, charged encounters do not ever ‘tip-over’ into a physical impropriety they become inured to the insecurity and jealousy which characterises the early relationship. Venus – Pluto’s intimate relationships are often something of a battleground for this and other reasons.
To understand the other reasons we have to comprehend something of the motive force behind the contact. In almost every case it boils down to an enormous anxiety about being loved. The native feels that they are in some way unlovable and inevitably this stems from a peculiar set of circumstances in childhood where the parents used affection as a means of control. It really is just that simple. Of course, there are nuances and sub-plots, but fundamentally, this is the long and short of it. There is an unconscious connection between love and survival where a lack of love is perceived in the dark of the soul to be life-threatening. Usually the parents used praise, approbation and affection as a cynical medium of control over the child and indeed the child will have picked up on the ambiguity of these feelings from the earliest age. In my experience this ambiguity can go far back, very often to the stark realisation that the child was not ever wanted at all. This spills over into the dynamic between parent and child so that the child – feeling as though they were never wanted in the first place – is insecure and actually rather desperate for reassurance. The parent unconsciously senses this anxiety and exploits it by giving and withholding love, reassurance and affection to ensure that the child meets their expectations. The Venus – Pluto child therefore learns, and learns well, that love is all about power and control, and learns to be able to switch their own emotions and affections on and off as Mother or Father did so effectively. All of this black baggage is carried into adulthood, and there it remains, subtly poisoning all future relationships until the darkness is faced and transformed once and for all.
The pattern in later relationships is classic and easily identifiable. The partner of Venus – Pluto finds themselves on an ever-shifting surface that is characterised by anxiety and upheaval. Their partner is very demanding, sexually ambiguous yet sexually motivated, is able to disconnect emotionally, thus veering from evincing great warmth to extreme coldness seemingly at a moment’s notice and is apparently obsessed with being attractive to everyone and anyone else. If the relationship survives at all in the face of such pressure then invariably Venus – Pluto’s partner loses all respect for their mate. Women with this aspect (Cher, Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, Glenn Close) will either form liaisons with men whom they do not love at all – thus allowing them to retain their self-respect – or with men who have no genuine interest in them except possibly as a conquest – wherein they become little more than sex-object which serves only to further undermine their confidence and self-respect. Through this process of humiliation and ever diminishing self-worth she becomes a contemptible non-entity to her partners. Men with the aspect (Woody Allen, Harrison Ford, Rock Hudson, Sean Connery) identify more with the power and control issues of the aspect: they switch emotions on and off at will in order to maintain control of the object of their affections and then begin to complain that their partners are unstable and psychologically damaged. What they fail to see is that it is almost certainly their fault that the woman in their life who wants to be loved and cared for is bewildered and confused by the emotional amputation they are subjected to and eventually it takes its toll on their mental health and wellbeing.
Of course, this is Venus – Pluto at its worst. If you have this aspect and you find that your relationships are a battleground, that you are arguing long into the night and every time you fight it is as though all is lost and yet somehow – against all the odds – the next day you have made up again; then the chances are it has more of a compulsive hold over you than you might imagine. Transformed however, Venus – Pluto creates a treasure of the love nature. If the childhood planted seed of insecurity and anxiety can cease being watered then the choking thicket of love, survival and control can die back to leave a limitless capacity to love in its stead. This undoubtedly takes courage and prodigious levels of honesty. What helps for Venus – Pluto victims is to stop trying to be liked, turn off the charm, dress down and demurely and to stop trying to control people and situations with appearances and affections.
Help with your own Pluto problems can be found here…