Saturn in Scorpio: Time to Get Real…

While Saturn travelled through Libra, we were tasked with new learning. Saturn is always about learning as evidenced by the fact that wherever he resides in your chart is a place where you are especially under-prepared. If you have Saturn in Libra therefore, you start out with a difficulty in relating in a mature and balanced manner. Life seems to throw lessons at you which force you to grow-up in that area of human endeavour. The hope is that as a result of Saturn’s stern erudition, you grow and mature to become an especially thoughtful example of the principle in question. With a Libra Saturn therefore, you become a role model of careful, mature and respectful relating. If you have worked consciously with your Saturnine taskmaster, later in life you will be held up as an example to others of what a decent and supportive partner should be, whether that’s in marriage, business or in the law firm. How it works in your life is dependent upon the matrix of aspects and expositions, but, provided that you do Saturn’s work diligently, you will be seen as a role model in the way in which Venus, her house and the house containing Saturn, and ruled by him, are configured in your chart.

When Saturn moves into Scorpio, the energy shifts. Saturn feels rather comfortable in Libra because they have a shared familiarity with principles of reason. Venus is genuinely cooperative, and Saturn is mature and they both enjoy doing things properly, in a seemly and just manner. It might be that with Saturn in Libra there is an early difficulty with seeing the other person’s point of view, but that is the lesson. Just as with Saturn in Libra’s opposite sign Aries, there is an early difficulty with going it alone. This is why it is usually at the Saturn return that Saturn in Libra gets serious about relationship. Saturn also rules separation, so if you think back over the last two years you will see that the people who could not relate to you with respect are gone from your life.

But with Scorpio, the energy is not nearly so mutually compatible. While Libra’s domicile causes Saturn to, rather sympathetically, learn to be reasonable, Saturn in Scorpio has no such concern. Here Mars’ night rulership, and Pluto’s domain are under the spotlight of Saturn’s harsh lessons, and this means that we have to learn to grow-up in a way that is almost diametrically opposed to Libra’s benign pressures. Libra is about appearances and the niceties of life, about relating and about being considerate toward others. With Scorpio, the growing up required by Saturn is all under the surface.

It is in part for this reason that Saturn is not nearly so comfortable in Scorpio as it is in Libra. With Libra we do not have to dig deep to grow because we can formalise instead. When we put Venus (in her Libra guise) together with Saturn we create various new forms: marriage contracts, polite conversation, business law, financial regulation, older lovers, business functions. When we put Saturn together with ‘dark Mars’ and Pluto, the energy shift is bound to be uncomfortable, because we cannot formalise our deepest self in the same way that we can formalise aspects of relating. With Libra Saturn it is enough to learn to communicate with maturity in your primary relationship: that is an important lesson for any successful union between two people, but with Scorpio Saturn the work is very personal and very deep. You will be tasked over the next two and a half years with growing up in the very depth of your being. In a way this complements Saturn’s transit through Libra which has forced us to grow up on the outside, because now we have to walk the walk too.

And there is an added dimension here because for the first time since 1776, Saturn and Pluto are in mutual reception. “1776!” I hear you ask. “That rings a bell!” you say. Because 1776 was the year that the United States declared independence from Britain, so this particular transit is especially pertinent for America (and Britain actually); the energy signature is a repeat of that time. In truth it is arguable that in many ways it is more potent because Pluto was not fully revealed in human consciousness as it is now. When the Declaration of Independence was written by Jefferson it contained some truly reasonable ideals and aspirations, and at the time of its signing, Saturn was in Libra and the 10th house, that is a public statement of reason for sure. But by December of that year, Saturn had moved into Scorpio, and it came time to actually deliver on those high-minded ideals, and that is where the truly difficult work was begun.

For the United States of old, as for us today, the challenge remains the same. We have worked hard to become more reasonable, more fair-minded and more cooperative during Saturn’s sojourn in the scales, but now it is time to get beneath the polite veneer and see if we are capable of delivering that maturity from a place of deep truth. We can’t just talk the talk any more, people are beginning to see through it and we are being tested to see if that outer maturity comes from the inside, or if it is just a veneer.

It is for this reason that Saturn in Scorpio is truly tough. We can’t fake it till we make it any more: it’s time to grow up on the inside.

Pluto: Enslavement or Self-Mastery, the Choice is Yours (Part 1)

Today I wanted to convey a basic tenet of Pluto, possibly the basic tenet of Pluto; that being the manner in which it is the root of all compulsion. We can understand this when we consider that the Lord Hades is hidden. Mythically, the stories tell us that he inhabited the Underworld – Tartarus – a terrifying and dread kingdom of the dead that was off-limits to mortals. On the two occasions that Pluto did emerge into the mortal realm, he wore a mask of invisibility so that he would not be seen. In this way, our Plutonic drives are designed to be hidden from ourselves, and we have a name for them, we call them compulsions. Children are by nature compulsive, they speak what is in their mind, even if it is not appropriate to speak up, but gradually they learn through social feedback to become aware of the effects of their compulsions on their environment.

But we assume – oh so very incorrectly – that when we become adults that we have nothing left to learn about compulsion. Learning to value another’s feelings in lieu of speaking our mind is only the most basic form of compulsion, and that is why most small children have begun to get it. Compulsion is a part of the human condition because Pluto is in the archetypal map of the human soul. Z’Ev Ben Shimon Halevi said:

[Pluto] was God of the Underworld – or to put it in Christian terms the Outer Darkness – in an astronomical sense roughly Pluto’s remote position in the solar system. Moreover he had a famous cap of invisibility. This could be read in two ways: that he was monarch of the dead, of those that have passed out of our dimension of sight; or that his processes are so slow that one lifetime is not enough to observe its full cycle. Pluto is the king of death, the planet of the most profound transformation man can physically witness. This event comes and goes, nothing can prevent it; suddenly a being who has been a piece of human furniture in a society or family has vanished, disappeared into another world, the realm of shades. Hades’ Gate may indeed be knowledge, for it is said that on death, everything learnt is reviewed as the past life is rapidly uncoiled in an ecstatic flash of every pleasure, pain, ignorance and understanding lived. Here at the invisible door, the experience and the essence of a man is further distilled, the limiting ego evaporated forever in the void of the divine father and mother, before the final union with the Creator.

Seen in this context, Pluto marks time beyond the scope of mortal self-awareness, or ego-consciousness. True self-awareness, whilst it is not a binary state of on/off, self-aware/compulsive, is certainly a state which has to be acknowledged as a prerequisite for spiritual growth. Once we become awake to the possibility of non-childish compulsion then we have switched onto a new level of operation because the truth is that every human alive who has not realised satori is compulsive, and within that spectrum, they are either aware that they are involved in a lifelong process of unmasking Pluto, or they are simply his unwitting puppet. No other relationship can exist.

Fortunately, we have the remarkable insight of astrology to provide us with an objective litmus test of our Plutonic styles. Indeed, every radix point that is connected with Pluto, regardless of aspect type, is subject to expressing the Plutonic, and of course, because Pluto is invisible, we are not awake to that expression. We can use astrology to delineate the probable nature of that manifestation, but even when told outright, we can be in denial, or become profoundly angry, upset or damaging in response, many of us are simply not ready to unmask the Pluto in our lives, even if living with him leads us into despair and ruin! And frequently this is exactly the result.

The rules of Pluto are indeed extremely simple, whichever point is connected to Pluto evinces compulsion and control thus:

Sun: A compulsive drive to be important, the centre of attention, in charge, admired and appreciated.
Moon: Compulsions manifest instinctively in moods, controlling the environment, in relation to possessions and especially food and sustenance. Moon-Pluto contacts frequently manifest as eating disorders.
Mercury: An inability to take what is said at face value, distrust, interrogation, suspicion and spite, cutting remarks, sarcasm etc.
Venus: A compulsion about appearance and attractiveness (in women) and a tendency toward ice-cold emotional withdrawals in men, both directed toward control of others (and frequently the opposite sex!)
And so forth.

In every case, the compulsion is directed toward control needs. But this does not mean that Pluto is all bad, this is the compulsive face of Pluto, but once unmasked, the reward facet of Pluto (whose etymological root is plouton: wealth) becomes extant thus:

Sun: Honourable, lordly, generous, a born leader able to command respect without effort.
Moon: A person of deep inner peace, who feels safe and secure in every place, who puts others at ease without effort.
Mercury: A mind of penetrating insight, one who can see easily into the heart of every matter and into the hearts of other people.
Venus: One with a deep and profound love connection based upon trust, intimacy and openness in their closest relationships.
And so forth!

There is no question of course that the compulsion and reward dynamic is most easily apprehended in connections with personal planets. Indeed, these are the points that become the most obvious candidates for ‘issues’ and thus they are within the ‘childish’ spectrum of compulsions. Allow me to explain with an example.

My youngest stepson Bertie has Pluto conjunct Ascendant. In fact his next oldest brother has the same energy, but Bertie’s Pluto is considerably closer to the Ascendant. He is a jovial, positive and forceful character because with Pluto in Sagittarius, Jupiter’s rulerships provides this flavour however, he is renowned for his propensity for shouting. When I first met him I was actually quite shocked at how persistently loud he was, and no matter what approach one took, there seemed to be no way at all to moderate either the volume or the frequency of his pronouncements. All day long, the only thing you could hear was Bertie, giving forth at astounding decibel levels for a 2-year-old.

Now if we understand the Ascendant to describe the manner in which one interacts in the immediate environment and too, the interpersonal style then we can see that there is compulsion about interacting in a Jupiter style, big, loud, and, well… big and loud! Fortunately, three years of relaying the mantra “stop shouting Bertie” is beginning to take its toll on his compulsion and he is slowly becoming aware of his compulsion and transforming it into something less destructive.

So what do we learn from this? We see that – since all Plutonic compulsion is control focused, it manifests out of anxiety about being out of control. Bertie, by dint of having 3 older brothers who don’t really listen to him, has anxiety about being seen and heard. He’s also extremely big for his age and frequently has flushed cheeks, a symptom of thyroid activity which itself intimates a theme: if I’m big, I’ll be harder to ignore. Bertie is anxious about being ignored so he manifests control behaviour (shouting) to placate his anxiety. If he shouts loud enough and often enough eventually somebody will take note. The reward will eventually manifest, once he has mastered the compulsion, in the form of a very intent and jolly demeanour which will automatically command attention. He is already getting this because he can be quite charming and bright which has this exact effect.

Now because the energy is involved with the Ascendant, it is a low-scale energy, and he will have it mastered soon enough. School will fix the last vestiges of that problem eventually. If it were another personal point then it might infect his energy signature for many years to one degree or another. Many people do deal with intermediate scale energies around midlife, or they at least begin to. I know a great many people who do almost no Pluto work of course, but they usually end up manifesting that compulsion into the lowest vibrational state: heart or spinal problems (for Pluto in Leo), digestive and eliminative issues (for Pluto in Virgo and Libra) and so forth. Illness frequently results from unmanaged compulsions. One of the key insights is that if you are ill then Pluto is likely involved. Because astrology is a metaphysical language, you can easily diagnose the source of your problems which, when looked at from this perspective, are what you might more accurately term ‘anxiety-promulgated control needs’. If you have heart problems then you are too fixated on being important, in charge, admired and being superior, your question is am I good enough?. If you have digestive issues, stomach problems (ulcers, heartburn, indigestion), breast cancers, womb problems, then you are anxious about lunar issues, you will have a deep insecurity related to a lack of nurturing or support and your question is am I safe?. Bowel problems, IBS, constipation, cramps, gas and so forth are related to anxiety about communication, about being lied to, cheated, and fundamentally these are control needs based around trust and you might well ask can I trust you?. If you have issues with the renal system, kidneys, bladder or the skin (such as eczema, hives, scleroderma, dermatitis, dandruff, acne, psoriasis) then you are struggling with anxiety about intimacy and love. This is connected to self-worth anxiety, or put more directly: am I lovable?

So, if you have heart problems and you were born between 1937 and 1958, it is likely that you’ve never dealt with your anxiety about being good enough. Most probably that came about because one or other of your parents transmitted the unconscious message that you didn’t measure up. The compulsion could manifest as haughtiness, arrogance, pomposity, a need to be admired, wealthy, adored, obeyed and to be the centre of attention, but it is all the same problem, there is a deep self-worth compulsion which has never been faced, so it has just run the show for so long unchallenged that eventually it has manifested physically into the heart.

Similarly, if you were born between 1956 and 1972 and you have digestive problems, then the chances are that you have trust issues which you haven’t faced up to. Of course, many of these issues will not manifest until after the Uranus half-return in serious ways, so this generation has some time, but of course, IBS is the archetypal Pluto in Virgo affliction, and it is the precursor to more serious problems later if the trust and communication problem associated with it is not dealt with.

So, these are the usual suspects of Plutonic energy, which are quite mundane and explicable.

Taken to a different level entirely, we see that through the ongoing pressure of compulsion we are presented with an opportunity to connect with a divine perspective. Unmasking Pluto is seeing the self through the eyes of God, without artifice, with awareness of what is in the heart. It can take a lifetime to fail in this simple but terrifying task. Ask yourself, why are you trying to control this thing, why can’t you just let it go? If you can even ask that question then you have started the most important work of your life.

And if you are not ready to ask it, perhaps it does not matter. You will have another chance once you have crossed the threshold of Hades’ Gate.

Another life, another chance to grapple with invisibility…

Pluto through the signs: what’s your obsession?

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Today, I wanted to make a study of the various effects experienced under the transits of Pluto, but I would like to make a few remarks before I attempt that article about the particular ambience of Pluto in the signs, from Cancer through to the present time. The two themes cannot be treated entirely separately, a Pluto transit will inevitably take on the character of its natal expression and we ought always to consider it in this way. For this reason I will begin with an analysis of Pluto’s various manifestations through the signs.

I have written about outer planet transits before, specifically in relation to their purpose in the ongoing process of soul-purification. This is the existential expression of Plutonic pressure in the arc of a human life. You may wish to read that article before proceeding here.

Bernard Manning: Pluto in Cancer and felt the word "wog" was "a horrible, insulting word I've never used in my life" but defended use of the words "nigger" and "coon" as historical terms with respectable roots.

Bernard Manning: with Pluto in Cancer he claimed that "wog" was "a horrible, insulting word I've never used in my life" but defended use of the words "nigger" and "coon" as historical terms with respectable roots.

Thus, Pluto in Cancer (1914-1939) creates a focus on traditional, territorial and inherited values. It contains the essence of the Moon-Pluto contact but writ large across an entire generation. Pluto made his first serious foray into the sign of Cancer on June 27th 1914 and within a month Franz Ferdinand was dead and the first world war had effectively begun. Pluto’s final days in that sign occurred in June 1939, just 3 months before the start of the second world war. Cancer of course rules the homeland, those inherited clannish values of belonging, of our family, our home, our country and our heritage, so inevitably, the extreme nationalism, indeed jingoism of the period was a direct manifestation of these lunar and 4th house qualities negatively supercharged by the Lord Hades. Consider all the many innovations related to domestic science: the refrigerator was invented during this period which created a death and rebirth of family values: Pluto very often creates this dichotomy, the labour-saving innovations of this time actually freed women from the home and the drudgery of the kitchen which in itself sounded the death-knell for the old order of traditional tribal gender roles. It is this falling away of an outdated paradigm which is required to be taken up by the subsequent generation thus Pluto in Leo was required to redefine the role of women in society, but crucially, they inherited this necessity, even if they would actually like to claim it as their doing.

Obsessed with: Tradition, family, the home country.
Responsible for:
the refrigerator, the BNP, the KKK and women’s lib.
At best: thrifty and supportive.
At worst: racist and cranky.

Janice Dickinson: this is how Pluto in Leo wants to look: age 55!

Janice Dickinson: this is how Pluto in Leo wants to look: age 55!

Pluto in Leo (1939-1958) has problems all its own – every Hadean generation does without doubt – and here the themes of the Sun and the 5th house are given especial focus. Status, egotism, self-centredness and pride are the most difficult facets of these years and the broadly narcissistic focus of Leo is given a difficult dose of Plutonic force. The characteristics of this generation are more in keeping with the 5th house and solar principles: being the centre of attention, enjoying life, music (Elvis was 3 when Pluto crossed into Leo), rock and roll lifestyles became the order of the day and the need to be loved because one is a person of importance in the world; this is the royal persona writ large. More difficultly, there is the underlying quality of Sun-Pluto to consider which is the classic indication of megalomania. Hitler’s blitzkrieg was unleashed on Poland within 3 months of Pluto crossing into Leo and his attempt to manifest a glorious Germanic empire, a third Reich (kingdom), echoed the dreams of dominion of the European kings of old. Consider too that when the Pluto in Leo generation was at its zenith it voted an actor into the White House and a woman (newly liberated by Pluto in Cancer) with a Sun – Pluto square into Downing Street. This generation has been dubbed the “Me Generation” and they created the phenomenon of personal psychotherapy to feed the great appetite of their own self-interest. Leo is also the sign of the child, and this for me strikes to the core of the Pluto in Leo condition. Here is a generation that didn’t want to grow old (plastic surgery is their invention too), who wanted to remain eternally youthful which fundamentally shifted the attitude to childhood. In the same way that Pluto in Cancer ‘killed’ the role of women in the home, requiring it to be redefined by the next generation, Pluto in Leo killed the role of the child. Pluto in Leo, needing to be the centre of attention the whole time, raised an entire generation of children that felt they did not matter, that was forced to play second-fiddle to their dramatic, showy, self-obsessed Mum or Dad. The result? A generation of parents who are determined to let their children be the centre of attention and who have subsequently made out of their children’s early lives a fiercely idealistic and protected idyll, where their little ones cannot be exposed to any manner of hardship, unpleasantness or harsh reality. Pluto in Virgo then has been tasked with recreating childhood, and they have done it in a typically Virgoan manner: for the children of this generation, everything must be perfect.
Obsessed with: status, appearances and youth.
Favourite things: Hair-dos, sports cars, diamonds and sunbathing.
Responsible for: plastic surgery, psychotherapy, rock n’ roll, Hollywood and the stock market.
At best: warm and generous.
At worst: self-obsessed and hysterical.

Johnny Depp has apparently become a health freak. The Sweeney Todd star - once famous for his wild, hard partying lifestyle - is shooting a new movie in Vancouver where he has requested his trailer be equipped with a treadmill, weights and a stability ball, according to Star magazine. The 44-year-old father-of-two also reportedly asked for his fridge to be stocked with blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi and soy milk. Johnny is also said to have requested throughly cooked chicken, tuna in water and hard boiled eggs to snack on during filming. It seems that a source told the celebrity magazine: "No wonder he looks so good for his age." Johnny is filming Michael Mann's new movie Public Enemies, alongside Christian Bale, Channing Tatum and Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard. The gangster movie is set in the 1930s and Johnny plays notorious criminal John Dillinger.

Johnny Depp - poster boy for Pluto in Virgo has apparently become a health freak. The Sweeney Todd star - once famous for his wild, hard partying lifestyle - is shooting a new movie in Vancouver where he has requested his trailer be equipped with a treadmill, weights and a stability ball, according to Star magazine. The 44-year-old father-of-two also reportedly asked for his fridge to be stocked with blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi and soy milk. Johnny is also said to have requested thoroughly cooked chicken, tuna in water and hard boiled eggs to snack on during filming. It seems that a source told the celebrity magazine: "No wonder he looks so good for his age." Johnny is filming Michael Mann's new movie Public Enemies.

So, what of Pluto in Virgo? This generation (1959-1972) has struggled to emerge from the great fixity of its forbears, and with parents demanding to be in the spotlight until their last breath, it is no surprise; an unhappy collusion which is simply exacerbated by the Virgoan’s regard for the qualities of simplicity, modesty and humility. This generation – possibly in part due to the perceived selfishness and narcissism of the generation that has gone before has learned to abhor self-promotion and ostentation. Even the great celebrities and rock-stars of this generation cannot get away with the over-the-top hotel trashings of those of previous decades; such behaviour is deemed to be rather embarrassingly brash and brassy. If Pluto in Virgo does have a vice, it is intellectual hubris, albeit one that manifests as a fierce propensity to pedantry and criticism. This generation loves nothing more than to deconstruct, and witheringly, the perceived flaws of those who raise themselves up onto a pedestal; the fascination with celebrity culture with all its attendant vicarious and voyeuristic sneering is a direct consequence of this Plutonic pressure across the generation. Even more direct is this placement’s obsession with work: Pluto in Virgo works all hours and struggles to maintain any sort of balance between home and career: and weekends are invariably spent mowing the lawns, polishing the car and pressure-washing the patio, so-called leisure activities which to every other generation seem more akin to drudgery than relaxation. It might well be that Pluto in Virgo turns out to be the generation that kills work, in the same way that Pluto in Cancer killed the family and Pluto in Leo bumped off childhood. Pluto in Libra will no doubt be required to reinvent the concept of employment in years to come as a result.
Obsessed with: health, work and being clever.
Favourite things: Health and fitness clubs, reality TV, gadgets, Ikea and dietary supplements.
Responsible for: the end of trade-unionism, environmentalism, recycling and nutritional information labels on food.
At best: meticulous and modest.
At worst: carping and finicky (to the point of OCD).

Jordan: too much make-up, big, fake boobs and one half of a celebrity couple: how much more Pluto in Libra do you need?

Jordan: too much make-up, big, fake boobs and one half of a celebrity couple: how much more Pluto in Libra do you need?

Pluto in Libra conversely doesn’t have much time for being meticulous about work, they simply want to be appreciated and appear attractive. While Pluto in Leo resorted to cosmetic surgery to fend off the horrors of aging, Pluto in Libra has utilised the same facility to get themselves a bigger pair of boobs and a nicer looking nose. Here, Venusian themes are at the forefront, so this generation wants to present a flawless visage: girls with this placement very often wear so much make-up that their skin appears utterly blemishless. The Pluto in Virgo generation, who are the employers of this age-group are quite often shocked by how poor Pluto in Libra’s attention span is when it comes to the workplace; they’re too busy flirting via text and updating their Facebook profile to care too much about scrubbing the company database. Of course, it is no surprise therefore that Facebook is a uniquely Pluto in Libra phenomenon, as are texting, Myspace and so forth: social networking is a chance to interact on a scale hitherto undreamed of and enormous entourages of admirers can be accumulated to sate Pluto in Libra’s obsession with being socially desirable and – at least superficially – attractive. Relationship will no doubt be the Achilles’ Heel for this generation, they’ll be so busy with trying to be universally appealing that their flailing sense of commitment might destabilise the institution of marriage once and for all, which leaves a fair amount of work for fanatically loyal and committed Pluto in Scorpio to do.
Obsessed with: attractiveness, flirting and popularity.
Favourite things: Networking, cellphones, boob-jobs, style (over substance) and celebrity couples.
Responsible for: Facebook, Extreme Makeover, Trinny & Susannah and What Not to Wear, botox, crop-tops and Ecstasy.
At best: poised and charming.
At worst: vain and superficial.

The Pluto in Scorpio generation are still young, so it will not be so easy to observe their predilections and in any case, here in its own sign, it’s likely that all bets are off. Pluto in Scorpio’s fixations and obsessions are likely to be based around sex, non-materialism and commitment. Watch this space.

Next week I shall begin an exploration of the transits of Pluto in the context of the radix placement and I have some exciting observations to share. In the meatime, if you require my professional insights into the meaning and purpose of your Pluto, then please visit Astrology Hour.

Superhuman Force: the Mars – Pluto Contact

The Mars Pluto contact is characterised by Ebertin as ‘Superhuman Force’. It is an entirely apt description, since one of the key understandings of Hadean energy is that, like the atomic power it rules, it creates an incredible reservoir of hidden power. Nuclear fusion is carried on in the deepest recesses of the power station, volcanic process occurs in the deepest subterranean realms and when either finds its way out, devastation and destruction inevitably results; this is a force that ought not see the light of day.

Harnessed properly and handled with respect and caution though nuclear energy can provide enormous benefits. Similarly, a volcanic eruption can induce a sense of wonder and local inhabitants can be moved to a position of safety beforehand, providing the seismologists have done their work. The key observation though is that Plutonic force needs very careful handling and should be handled respectfully, and nowhere is this more in evidence than where it provides the motive power for Martian energy, which is already hot enough all on its own.

Today then, I wish to explore an intriguing insight, that while it is ostensibly concerned with Mars and Pluto in the astrology, gives perhaps an even starker insight into the fundamental quality of aspects than the contact between these potentially volatile planetary powers alone. Any Mars – Pluto contact contains an intimation of superhuman force, regardless of its quality and the square need be no more difficult than the trine in the long term. Squares and oppositions require transformation due to their abrupt and limiting influence on the life; trines and sextiles by contrast are able to bump along much more comfortably and this is why a trine can so easily devolve into something a little decadent, or even sleazy in some cases. Let us consider some examples.

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All of these individuals evince a Mars-Pluto contact in their astrology albeit of a differing arc; in every case Pluto is in the sign of Virgo. Consider the nature of the different aspects first. The square creates an inner drive or tension which manifests out of consciousness as an abrupt, tense and somewhat edgy impetus. The opposition is a tendency to disown our dissonant characteristics and transfer them onto others and often manifests as interpersonal discord or relationship dysfunction. The trine by contrast creates ease and subjective enjoyment and the native can leverage the frictionless exchange of energies between the planets. The conjunction is the most innate and intrinsic form of contact, it becomes a more fundamental and integral facet of personality than any other type of contact.

Thus, Jack Black first of all who with Mars in wild, free-roaming Sagittarius evinces the square to Pluto in Virgo. Here the superhuman force is felt as a great inner tension that makes the energy rather abrupt, tense and potentially explosive. Mars forms the apex of a tee-square from Moon in Pisces opposing Pluto. Moon square Mars is classically disputatious and abrupt, and can manifest as a rather headstrong tendency to rashness. Add to this the force of Mars – Pluto and the abruptness of the square aspect and immediately it is possible to see how Jack is metamorphosed from a usually reserved and potentially timid Virgo into a raging rock monster. And, the fact is, you can see Mars square Pluto in his eyes.

Rob Lowe by contrast will not evince the same forceful tendency simply because the opposition does not internalise like the square: in direct contrast in fact, it externalises instead. Lowe’s manner is almost opposite to that of Jack Black’s, none of the edgy, abrupt energy is in evidence, in fact, he seems to be, by contrast, almost soporifically meek and non-confrontational. This is because the tension and force of Mars Pluto is transferred onto others, so Lowe may consider others to be brutal, forceful and cruel without claiming any of those difficult qualities for himself, however, he will probably fool nobody except himself, because none of us can ever fully outsource our oppositions and those who know him well might consider him to be ruthlessly ambitious, which is certainly one of the most common difficult manifestations of this placement. Another classic interpretation of Mars/Pluto is concerned with sexual drive and vigour, and the opposition could well farm out those darker biological drives inappropriately. In 1988, Lowe was involved in a sex scandal over a videotape of him having sex with two females, one of whom was sixteen, in Atlanta while attending the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Lowe has asserted that he did not know that the second girl was underage, and it was confirmed that the two had met at a bar, which the girl entered by lying about her age. Another part of the same tape was leaked at the time, showing Lowe, a young American model named Jennifer, and Justin Morris having a ménage à trois in a hotel room in Paris. This part of the original tape was sold as one of the first commercially available celebrity sex tapes, damaging his public image.He later entered a rehabilitation clinic for alcohol and sex addiction. Lowe is currently involved in several ongoing legal disputes with three former nannies claiming sexual harassment. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the various situations, there is no denying the potential for use of force (Pluto) in sexual matters (Mars) being used inappropriately against others (opposition). It is equally possible however, that he is (as he claims) the victim of inappropriate sexual accusations himself, for the purpose of obtaining financial rewards. Mars – Pluto can seek advancement without much concern for the moralities.

Ben Stiller enjoys the Mars Pluto trine, which at its best bestows great self-confidence and tireless ambition, the ability to work without rest in order to achieve one’s objectives. With Mars in the 7th and exalted in Capricorn he no doubt displays an easy ability to relate with a measure of intensity within close personal relationships and he has certainly enjoyed a generally uncomplicated married life to date with Christine Taylor, with whom he co-starred in the movie Dodgeball.

For Kevin Spacey, the conjunction plays out in a much more integrated manner as a key component of personality. Mars is of course a personal planet, so it will be expressed at the very core of being whereas Pluto, impersonal and distant, simply cannot be unless it is in some sense blended into some more intrinsic facet of the person. The conjunction performs this exact function in a manner that is entirely more complete and unquestioned than any of the other aspect possibilities. Mars in Virgo gives a curiously asexual quality to the persona, a tendency which is only given a strangely compulsive quality by the proximity of Pluto, here is someone that is methodical and pays attention to detail and has an ability to work on the small-stuff all day long without tiring or losing focus.

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Consider briefly these equivalent case studies in female astrology, where Mars changes its focus subtly. Davina McCall evinces the edgy and ambitious quality of the contact and certainly there is an abrupt and decidedly tense facet to her nature that is immediately evident. For Cindy Crawford the opposition is found across the MC/IC with Mars on the Midheaven and conjunct Saturn, both in dreamy Pisces. The neatening and intense polarity of Pluto in Virgo however, is unmistakable. Shannen Doherty who enjoys the trine has a reputation for being ruthlessly ambitious and has experienced considerable turbulence in her personal relationships, while Teri Hatcher embodies the quality of Mars-Pluto in Virgo forming a stellium with Uranus all of which tightly squares her Sun in Sagittarius in the 9th giving enormous drive to realise her ambitions.

Any aspect, crucially, between Mars and Pluto therefore gives enormous energy, drive and ambition, the nature of the aspect will only in truth modify the manner in which it manifests.

The Astrology of Marital Breakdown…

Outer transits to the descendant can play havoc with the happily ever after...

Outer planet transits to the descendant can play havoc with the happily ever after...

It is unfortunate that love, perhaps more in keeping with Artemis than Aphrodite both waxes and wanes and there is no doubt whatever where the one is wondrous and fair, the other may often be laced with venom. I have advised a considerable number of clients in this particular regard and I have enough theoretical and practical experience of the astrology of marital breakdown to be able predict with some accuracy the likely course of such difficulties. In the event, knowing that it may all be for the best does not stop the vitriol and judgement of vaguely interested third parties, nor does it assuage the anguish of those more intimately configured, but if this life is to stand for anything at all – other than an empty and vainglorious accumulation of accolades and possessions – then sometimes a small measure of acceptance is the only compassionate path through such difficulty.

In reality, the astrology can provide a considerable insight into the conditions of the marriage, and further, the conditions at the end of a marriage; today I wish to look at various aspects of the psychology and the astrology of marriage breakdown and try to place the often narrow focus of the Saturnine detractor in a broader human context, one that the great Joseph Campbell determined thus: “Where the moralist would be filled with indignation and the tragic poet with pity and terror, [mythology (astrology)] breaks the whole of life into a vast, horrendous Divine Comedy. Its Olympian laugh is not escapist in the least, but hard, with the hardness of life itself – which, we may take it, is the hardness of God, the Creator.  [This] makes the tragic attitude seem somewhat hysterical, and the merely moral judgement shortsighted. Yet the hardness is balanced by an assurance that all that we see is but the reflex of a power that endures, untouched by the pain.” (Joseph Campbell, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces: The Monomyth” pp 45-46 – Princeton University Press 1949).

Astrologically there is no surprise that the vast majority of marital breakdowns occur between the ages of 36 and 42; the dissonance between a third Jupiter return and the Uranus half-return creates a tense space in which the unexplored horizons of earlier life crash jarringly into the phenomenon identified by Jung as the mid-life crisis; a term much maligned by laymen ever since. Jung well understood, as a student of astrology himself the need to identify a sudden revolution in the personal apprehension of life’s meaning that the Uranus opposition instantiated, he termed it a crisis only in the sense that it was a necessary precipitation that would well-up and finally run-free into a more inclusive contact with the Universe; for without crisis there could not be growth. This then in Jung’s view was not a great conjuration, but rather an opportunity. Of course, where Uranus, God of the skies draws us out, Saturn, his castrator and nemesis holds us back and this is the choice we all face during these crucial years: to grow and evolve, or to heed Kronos’ dull and dire laments and begin the slow shuffle into spiritual decline and death. The ‘crisis’ then, whilst not being limited to the institution of marriage, invariably promulgates an upheaval in all areas where scrutiny is required in the scope of a human life, and marriage is inevitably thus configured.

Astrologically it is clear, as it ought to be in mere psychology; the marriage that is basically sound and fulfilling to both parties ought to have nothing to fear from the various returns, progressions and transits at mid-life or indeed at any other time. If there is serious lack, imbalance, incompatibility or suppression of self then it will eventually find its way out, as ever through the various etheric and physical vehicles, spirit or body, creating anxiety, nervous disorder, depression or illness. In such a case, the result is very often a breakdown either within the marriage, or of the marriage itself.

Much can be gleaned from the ruler of the descendant, applications to it or its ruler by transit or progression, and the interactions within the nativity itself. Any of the outer planets crossing the 7th house cusp will instantiate at the very least a serious re-examination of marital objectives and a fair degree of analysis of the conditions within the marriage. Uranus crossing the 7th will create the potential for a sudden break, Neptune a dissolving, often with a difficulty to grasp what exactly is wrong, Pluto a grinding down and an invariably painful insight into the deeper psychology of oneself. Pluto purges us of compulsions and unconscious dependence too, and in the house of marriage this can often shine a new light upon our union; Pluto does not unearth only the difficult however, he also exposes previously unimagined treasures, and the same can be said for all outer transits, providing we understand that we cannot simply stand firm and resist. Life is a journey, we cannot refuse to get on the train.

This is not to say that an outer transit to the 7th cusp or ruler will always signify a marital breakdown, far from it: a basically balanced and sound partnership that fulfils the needs and desires of both parties ought to have nothing to fear.

Then too, look to the sign on the cusp of the 8th and its ruler for an insight into the nature of the break-up itself, should it occur. The 8th of course is analogous to the 2nd of the 7th, thus it determines the manner of the division of shared property – and the 8th is the house of joint resources for precisely this reason. Furthermore, the 8th rules endings, so the ruler and its condition as well as any tenants herein will give a further clue to the manner of the split. If Aries, Scorpio or Mars is configured, do not expect an amicable settlement, Saturn or Capricorn will make the process slow and practical and take all the joy out of it too, Venus, Taurus or Libra should allow some measure of grace or at least politeness to infiltrate proceedings; and in every case this bears out.

Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards underwent a deeply acrimoious split

Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards underwent a deeply acrimoious split

As an example, the breakdown of Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen’s union with actress and glamour model Denise Richards  is worthy of study. After two daughters and only 4 years of marriage, Richards filed for divorce citing unreasonable behaviour. Currently Sheen and Richards are engaged in an acrimonious custody dispute over their two daughters, with Richards requesting a custody evaluation, no overnight visits for Sheen, and authority to make decisions regarding the care of the children. Richards alleges abusive behavior by Sheen toward her and staff, paranoid behavior regarding the care of the children, and that he continues to have gambling and drug addictions. Sheen denies these allegations and further alleges that Richards later requested sperm from him in order to have another child. In short the split has been neither smooth nor swift.

00) New York, NY USA

Charlie Sheen, actor. 3 Sep 1965 22:48 EST (+05:00) New York, NY USA

Sheen’s astrology evinces a number of fascinating conditions although I will confine the majority of my insights to those specific issues relating to the marriage and in particular its breakdown. It is interesting to note the great difficulties denoted by the 3 point stellium of Su/Ur/Pl in Virgo – thus control and self control problems – opposed by Sa/Ch in the 10th, which immediately tells you something about his public life and the legacy of his father too no doubt. Peregrine Venus in Libra and the 5th is really the runaway factor and entirely describes, particularly in a nativity fueled by Sun conjunct Pluto his self-destructive appetite for licentious gratification: Sheen is reckoned to have slept with as many as 5,000 women in his lifetime and his inability to curb his tendency to sexual excess has damaged his career and his personal relationships.

Most pertinently however, the ruler of the 7th, Jupiter is profoundly stressed in all too flighty Gemini. Gemini on the 7th, or the ruler of the 7th in Gemini always suggests a strong likelihood of 2 or more marriages, but with Jupiter here there is a tendency to really struggle to expand one’s horizons; watch anyone with Jupiter in Gemini trying to have a good time and it is often quite exhausting to behold, they make the taking of ease into such hard work. Here the Moon opposes Jupiter which usually denotes some marital differences, often through being rather wasteful, truculent and generally contrary in one’s manner. Moon in the 7th denotes fluctuating marital conditions and in Sagittarius there are no doubt some boundary issues, an instinctive need for freedom that is not entirely conducive to marital stability at the best of times.

The 8th house ruler however is the key factor in determining the nature of the marital split. With Capricorn configured Saturn is clearly in considerable difficulty even if accidentally dignified; the trines to Mars and Neptune notwithstanding. Saturn ruling the 8th of course determines that the divorce will be difficult, drawn-out and burdensome, and in the 10th: public. The conjunction to Chiron makes it painful and in Pisces, there is little surprise that his history of substance abuse has been cited in the proceedings. The oppositions to the Virgo stellium include Sa/Pl: thus hard labour in Virgo, and a great deal of public (10th) criticism (Virgo) is the result, while the emotional tension of Sa/Ur will have to be endured over a protracted period.

It ought to be noted that having Saturn as ruler of the 8th does not by itself determine that any divorce will be acrimonious: a harmoniously placed and aspected Saturn may indeed allow the process to be handled with dignity and a responsible attitude; in Sheen’s case however, the oppositions from Virgo, and most especially the opposing nature of Pluto will force a power struggle and as with any mundane opposition: themes will be played out through other people.

Their divorce was finalised just as Pluto moved into orb of Moon in Sagittarius and my own view would be that matters will not be completely finalised for Sheen and Richards until the latter part of 2011 when Pluto applies to his 8th house; which might also suggest an entirely unsatisfactory eventual outcome for Sheen in any case.

Of course, the ending of any committed relationship is difficult and painful for all parties, and there are never any winners, but understanding the astrology of these traumatic events at least creates the possibility of knowing the likely course that must be navigated before a more harmonious mode of existence can be enjoyed by all those affected by such traumatic trials.

Pluto in Leo, nearly irrelevant…

Pluto in Leo had a dream...

Pluto in Leo had a dream...

To say that Pluto is the final arbiter of all human life is mythically accurate, and though it might sound like a rather dramatic statement to make, it nevertheless has some considerable truth to it in mundane human life. We all understand that Pluto is dignified in Scorpio and detrimented in Taurus, and I have read various theories about exaltation; some say Aquarius, some say Virgo, some say no sign exalts Pluto.

This latter assertion appears flimsy, since we are interested in principles, not rules – except insofar as rules help us to sublimate principles. The astrologer who innately espouses principles will probably be good at his or her job; the one who only determines on the basis of rules will probably simply add to their clients’ many constrictions. In one sense however, I can agree with Pluto’s exaltation in Aquarius, simply through the appallingly destructive influence of Pluto in the sign of Leo; but again this is not entirely satisfactory, because it is hardly a sign in which Pluto struggles to express itself.

The jury is out on exaltation for the lord of the underworld, but one observation stands true; Pluto in Leo is just awful.

Pluto in Leo style

Indigenous living: Pluto in Leo style

Wherever Pluto is found, in the unevolved (thus 99.9% of the human race) we find obsession; Pluto merely delineates the mode and preferred outlet for that obsession; and in Leo, it’s all about status. The generational effect of Pluto in Leo is quite easy to observe here in the United Kingdom, where all anybody seems to have a mind for these days is the car they drive and the value of their house. There are supplementary concerns of course; which school the children are attending, their exam grades, which handbag is in vogue this month, being seen at Ascot; but fundamentally, the Pluto in Leo generation have raised up the golden calf of status and created a raison d’étre out of it. They have also passed these dubious values on to their children, the Pluto in Virgo generation who seek to perfect their parents’ skewed vision, by appearing flawless, the epitome of health, vitality and with not a hair out of place: the ambience of the passing of the Plutonic baton then, has been to make an obsession out of the kind of status that is to be found in perfection. Inevitably, it’s a big ask, and as Uranus grinds over the radix Pluto placements of this generation right about now, there are going to be a fair few casualties.

Intriguingly though, with Pluto making its final foray in Sagittarius for the next quarter-millennium, it really is the end of the good times for Pluto in Leo and all his self-obsessed children. The quincunx that is created in Capricorn cuts this whole generation adrift, and with the lower-quincunx having a clear sixth-house influence, this entire swathe is in for a wake up call; there is a challenge in the pipeline, one that reverberates with themes of health, of occupational matters, of what we do in our day to day, in how we eat, wash and look after our appearance, and all of this because: they’re fast running out of sympathy.

This describes the quincunx exactly: Pluto in Leo simply has no common-ground with Pluto in Capricorn. If they were two people you’d imagine them being like Victoria Beckham and Ray Mears, but marooned together on a desert island. They just wouldn’t have anything to say to each other; Ray would consider Posh to be irrelevant, and for the singular purpose of living a subsistence lifestyle on a remote desert island, he’d probably be right. In fact, after he’d got bored of her pouting, he’d probably throw her off a cliff to improve his own resources and nobody would much care when years later he got rescued and his crime made the papers, because actually, Pluto in Leo is starting to seem a bit pointless now. A bit blown-up, selfish, greedy, pompous and irresponsible. They spent the children’s inheritance on cheap champagne and plastic baubles after all, and now it’s hard times for everyone.

The final crisis for Pluto in Leo will not truly manifest until Hades reaches Aquarius of course, and the last stragglers will expire with a final “oh dah-ling!” into the history books, the cement-head generation, who squandered an entire world’s resources just so they could look good.

This ought to be a wake-up call for the Virgo posse following on, let’s spread the word.