The Power of Gentians

Dark, shadowy, little understood; the Hadeans, even under the most intense scrutiny, give away almost nothing of their true nature. Pluto, the best known of the Triumvirate of the Underworld, is so fundamentally dimensioned that despite countless studies and analyses, we cannot ever be sure if we have truly burrowed to his dark essence. Like the moles of his domain, we strain the blind senses to glean some of his hidden truth and esoteric meaning, but we are still never truly confident that we have understood. His magisterial shadows are too pitch. His seismic growl, too profound. This is the nature of Hades. Mysterious, fundamental, terrifying. But also rewarding.

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Rewarding because Pluto is the death of form and attachment. Unrealised Pluto is characterised by insatiability. No amount is ever enough. Hence Plutocrats never cease in their quest to amass greater and more superfluous wealth. Serial philanderers never sate their appetite for sexual conquest. For unrealised Pluto, a little control will not suffice. All of these dark appetites are insatiable, thus those in Pluto’s thrall are slaves to their appetites. They destroy their inner harmony, and that of those around them, through their compulsive quest for satisfaction, and yet they cannot be satisfied. The Plutocrat’s wealth does not soothe his restless discontent. He grasps and plots and lives in misery. The compulsively promiscuous do not bask in the warm afterglow of intimacy. They are already craning their necks to spy the next target of their cold attachment. The control-freak, having got her way, does not relax into quietude. She raises the pitch and having secured one concession demands another. None of these unhappy individuals, for all their successes and victories are ever in a state of appreciative reward. Feeding their appetite is never gratifying. It is at best a momentary relief, akin to walking around for an hour in shoes that are a size too small with the sole, illogical motivation of taking them off in order that they might experience the cessation of continual, cramping discomfort. And after a moment of blessed relief, they go back on.

Pluto transformed however, kills attachment. And therein is the true reward. The ability to ‘let go and let God’ is Pluto’s greatest and most hard-won gift. This is the Hadean reward.

Attachment, in all its forms, to the material, to outcomes, to our very lives is the Hadean arena, and to contend with attachment is to do battle with the dread Lord Hades himself.

D.H. Lawrence knew Hades:

Not every man has gentians in his house
in Soft September, at slow, Sad Michaelmas.

Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark
darkening the daytime torchlike with the smoking blueness of Pluto’s gloom,
ribbed and torch-like, with their blaze of darkness spread blue
down flattening into points, flattened under the sweep of white day
torch-flower of the blue-smoking darkness, Pluto’s dark-blue daze,
black lamps from the halls of Dis, burning dark blue,
giving off darkness, blue darkness, as Demeter’s pale lamps give off light,
lead me then, lead me the way.

Reach me a gentian, give me a torch
let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of a flower
down the darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on blueness,
even where Persephone goes, just now, from the frosted September
to the sightless realm where darkness is awake upon the dark
and Persephone herself is but a voice
or a darkness invisible enfolded in the deeper dark
of the arms Plutonic, and pierced with the passion of dense gloom,
among the splendour of torches of darkness, shedding
darkness on the lost bride and her groom.

Perhaps it is only in the realm of poetry that we can truly grapple with the Hadean element with prescience, for it is here that the indescribable can be apportioned, fleshed out, dissected. Lawrence wrote a later version of this poem which contained a decidedly steamier final stanza:

Reach me a gentian, give me a torch!
let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of a flower
down the darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on blueness
down the way Persephone goes, just now, in first-frosted September
to the sightless realm where darkness is married to dark
and Persephone herself is but a voice, as a bride
a gloom invisible enfolded in the deeper dark
of the arms of Pluto as he ravishes her once again
and pierces her once more with his passion of the utter dark
among the splendour of black-blue torches, shedding
fathomless darkness on the nuptials.

This is possibly the finest modern work of poetry on the fundamental quality of Hades that we know. The insights are not stark, nor are they cerebral. Instead, they are sensual, osmotic. What is also interesting is that Lawrence originally titled this work “Glory of Darkness”, and he wrote it knowing that he would, one day soon, die of the tuberculosis which had plagued him for much of his life [1].

The poet William Bryant understood the underlying spiritual message of gentians:

Thou waitest late and com’st alone,
When woods are bare and birds are flown,
And frost and shortening days portend,
The aged year is near his end…

…I would that thus when I shall see
The hour of death draw near to me…

So we see that there are motifs that reflect in their very being the fundamental truth of a thing. The power of Hades is too subtle, too profound, too deep to be captured in the mind. Consciousness has no intellectualising paradigm for the shadow. But the simplest device can encapsulate this strange essence, a gentian for example[2], and effortlessly portray a meaning that words and thoughts flounder around and fail.

So understanding this, we can begin to raise up a mechanism, a scrying device which will allow us to glimpse through a shadowy, enriching lens, the deepest workings of our human soul. And seeing the tumblers and levers laid bare, we are gifted the method of shamans and witches, and can at last begin to transmute the spirit within.

That is the power of gentians.

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough – Lao Tzu.


[1] The Last Poems of D.H.Lawrence: Shaping a Late Style. Dr. Bethan Jones, Ashgate 2010 p.37

[2] The gentian violet was named for Gentius, King of Illyria, who used the flower in a tonic to battle depression.

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8 comments on “The Power of Gentians

  1. moxiethegal says:

    Thank-you for these powerful musings on Hades. Here in snowy Canada things seem rather bleak on the surface right now, but there is life underground! As I have sun, along with a tight mercury /neptune conjunction in 5th house Scorpio, and close conjunction of pluto/uranus/moon in my fourth house Virgo, that energy is something I’ve had to deal with all my life. It keeps coming up, I keep bringing it up, in every aspect and endeavour, it would seem. The simple gentian, an elegant and rich “lens” as you put it, to bring understanding that is deeply FELT on the dark complexity Pluto brings to my life. The flower, in its very nature embodies and communicates what the poem/poet aims at–and, I believe, largely succeeds at–through art and words. Beautiful!

  2. Michael says:

    Very rich,in the deepest Plutonian sense of evolved consciousness i have read to date that describes with defining strokes,a large part of the experience of Pluto in ones life if they have,or not,followed the edicts this article delineates,in a most profound way.I will refer to this article in ANY relative discussion for clarity of my personal feelings/thoughts of Pluto’s influence,in my life and chart…..it already takes prescience over my G.C. and defines the soul journey through relationship to ALL…..that uniting and that separating.

    I can qualify this statement with a recent transit of Pluto,and then some,on my Grand Cross~conjunct my SUN/IC-Cap~square MOON/DC-Aries~OPPOSITION URANUS/MC~square ASC/Mars.

    Kudos to you Jeremy Neal….

    Michael

  3. Charlotte says:

    It was delightful. I could relate. Many experiences of the dark hand of fate.
    The up side is minera and somewhere I think the dove fits in. That radiant portal to a common denominator seen to light up the dark.

  4. Jimmer says:

    I’m going through a major Pluto transit right now, or rather Pluto is going through me – transiting my eighth, where both my sun and mercury reside (I have Gemini asc so this quite major) I’m obsessed with Pluto themes, insights, wisdom, depth…..Why does no one ever talk about the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when Pluto surges into our consciousness? You can’t get anywhere near Pluto’s domain without looking at Jesus’ life and death. He won the Hadean prize, did he not – and he got the keys. Just look for a moment at Calvary! Every broken sinew, every hammer blow, every last breath. Here death clothed in all its physical pain, apparent failure and well….that;s probably enough from me, but you get the point, so why does no-one talk about Christ? Why is it taboo? I would love to hear some deeply honest thoughts….
    Jimmer

    • moxiethegal says:

      Jimmer, you raise excellent points! Since you have opened the door, I am going to walk through it. I am a follower of the Man-God Jesus, though I am not connected with a religion. It was actually C.S. Lewis who pointed me in the direction of astrology in a roundabout way. His Cosmic Trilogy introduced me to the idea of the planets being “ruled” by a spirit, an archangel, whose nature gave that planet it’s particular qualities. Venus, for example, having a distinctively feminine character (feminine as opposed to female) being one of those featured (in the second book of the series “Perelandra” which is the name he chose for Venus). The association of the planets with archetypes of various colour is connected to the whole story of the spiritual order, from my Christ-ian point of view. Certainly, Jesus Christ lived the embodiment of the Plutonian struggle.. the theme of rebirth–life/death/life–as we see on our plane in terms of cycles, was lived through him not as an endlessly repeating cycle, but as a beginning, middle, end. A completed cycle if you will.

      The other themes as expressed through the various energies we associate with the celestial bodies tell the story that has been told through various media, including the numerous mythologies humans have enunciated…the origins, the fall, the struggle, the learning, rebellions, wars, good vs. evil, incarnation, redemption…these themes infuse astrology and to me, deepen and enrich my belief in Jesus and what that was, and is, all about. My knowledge of astrology is very small (I used to foolishly think I knew something about it!), and I do appreciate the depth that someone like our Chirotic Journalier here shares so generously. Jimmer, I do appreciate you bringing this up; Jesus is taboo in many circles, and to profess belief is a kind of branding, whether or not what one is branded with is personally accurate is another point. Which I why I think many shy from the topic; for many, it’s too hot to touch. I hope others might have something to add from their perspective.

      • mickael3113 says:

        Hi moxiethegal,Jimmer,
        I have not applied Pluto to the CHRIST/MAGDALENE archetypes,but i’m paying attention.Christianity applies it to Satan,whose person transmogrifies the Lucifer archetype as the unrealized Christ.The depth of Pluto is still being pondered,much to the chagrin of traditional astrologers.

        I an not religious either,more so,this Pluto in Leo is here to deconstruct the institutions of suppression/repression and ignorance,to facilitate their journey to transformation & evolution.However,the Christ/Magdalene archetype’s are forever in my consciousness as the intercession for the unity of gender essence polarities in the transformation to co-creative principles of manifestation with the astrological archetypes of CHRIST/CHIRON & MAGDALENE/LILITH.That which the ignorance of the Church denies,but once knew of.

        Chiron trines my Pluto(11th)& NN Aries(7th)~sextiles Neptune(1st) & sextiles Venus/Aquarius (5th)……yes,a Pluto/Venus opposition.Lilith(8th) sextiles Uranus/MC.

        This article by Marion March addresses the feminine Pluto.

        http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:kFq5AZJ4AGEJ:www.astrologysoftware.com/resources/articles/getarticle.asp%3FID%3D109+&cd=7&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

        …….Pluto the Goddess
        The most fascinating discovery is that there is a female Pluto in mythology. According to most mythological references “Tantalus, who offended the gods by serving them the cut-up flesh of his son Pelops at a banquet, was himself the son of Zeus and his mother was Pluto, a sea nymph.” Some go into even greater detail: “Tantalus’ mother was Pluto, the rich one, a daughter of Cronos. Thanks to her, Lydia was famous for its gold – gold in the veins of its mountains and in the sands of its rivers. No name better suited the greatest goddess of this land than the name Pluto.”

        Pluto’s Masks
        Myth and reality, how far apart are they in this world where everything is interconnected? Where does mythology end and folklore or history start? How much of this is inherent in the archetype of Pluto? Pluto is the prince of darkness who rules the nether world; Pluto the “unseen” yet respected and revered god; Pluto the tempter who snatched innocent Persephone and offered her a pomegranate; Pluto the relentless one, goading his victims with a pitchfork, reminiscent of Christianity’s symbolism for Satan; Pluto the great goddess of riches….

        ….So here we have Pluto’s main ingredients – the androgynous male/female figure, the great earth mother as well as the ruler of the underworld. In natal chart delineation, I use the Sun, Mars and Saturn as the 3 planets describing the father or male urges, the Moon Venus and Pluto for the mother or female. The bearer of riches to the point of surplus, very visible and “seen” rather than the hidden, underground and “unseen.”

  5. r1chman1971 says:

    “Rewarding because Pluto is the death of form and attachment.”
    Saturn, The Dweller at the Gates.
    All passes beyond the Styx when we pass beyond Old Father Time’s domain.
    All bets are off, with the Dread Lord. and His Retinue.
    Blessings to you, Jem.

  6. Angie says:

    Powerful stuff. Lovely poetry
    A friend told me recently she was worried cos her a man had suddenly turned into a very bossy uncompromising person with all around after 17 yr together. As I knew her asc was 15 Cancer It was easy to explain to her what was happening altho I do not know his chart. I had no idea Pluto had galloped so far thro Capricorn. I have told her about learning to go for win win rather than see saw of one over the other and I am impressed that she has had one winwin since she knew how to try and handle it. I have been thro it a while ago having Gemini early ascendant. But my Pluto 7th house person was a new friend with who i argued and grew spiritually with for years and who went from my life the second that Pluto moved out of my 7th house which was uncanny. He presented as a powerful business person but one day I did a spiritual excercise in which he appeared as the Wizard of Oz. After that he was much easier to understand…..,Would the Wizard of Oz be Plutonian?

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