Master and Servant: Rulership Theory


With respect to the Saturn – Pluto conjunction Zack asks:

Do you feel the same dynamic is in effect for those with Saturn in Scorpio (ie, a Saturn ‘underwritten’ by Pluto)? The unconscious demanding of respect and resulting anxiety when that is not easily or immediately granted?
With Pluto in Scorpio as sole dispositor of my chart, life itself can feel like it’s run by unconscious anxiety. The only way out seems to be to continually let go, when Pluto wants to grip. Hardly a moment’s rest…

It’s worth getting to grips with rulerships. Astrology starts to make a lot more sense when you can begin to pick apart the avenues of causality that exist within our charts, and rulerships give you this exact perspective.

Except in the case of mutual reception, rulerships are a one way street. This means that in the example cited, with Saturn in Scorpio and (I’m guessing) Pluto in Libra or Scorpio – or indeed, Pluto anywhere except in Capricorn, the rulership means that Saturn is working for Pluto. Pluto in the chart is happy to get the help he needs to fulfil his duties and obligations. If Pluto is in Scorpio, then the buck stops there, but if Pluto resides in Libra, then Pluto is in turn working for the objectives and ambitions of the Venus placement.

Let’s say that you have Pluto in Libra in the 10th, and Saturn in Scorpio in the 11th. This would denote a situation whereby your friendships with older, more experienced and respected individuals would assist you in pursuing your career goals and enhance your reputation. You’d probably be quite anxious about getting ahead in your work, and maybe even manipulative about getting recognised for your focus and drive in your career. This career respect that you enjoy, would in turn likely serve as a means of enhancing your appeal to the opposite sex, making you a better marriage prospect and allowing you to enjoy the finer things in life (you see, because Pluto is in turn working for Venus).

In this way, a planet’s placement is explained by its ruler. If you have Mars in Libra in the 4th house then there will likely be considerable difficulties around fostering independence in the early years. Assertiveness doesn’t come easily. The approval of others is often a condition for independence. Getting one’s way is a struggle because you learned in the childhood home that compromise was required. Now let’s say that Venus is in Capricorn in the 7th house, we probably see that the parents’ marriage was difficult, money was likely not plentiful; the model for marriage is weighed down by Saturn’s concerns. Love and marriage are hard work, although – depending on aspects and other factors – not necessarily a lost cause, because we learn that in love at least, hard work pays dividends. By following these connections we can tease out the story and understand the life lessons.

To return to the original question though, Whilst the effect of rulership is far from the principle of conjunction, Saturn does still have Pluto’s concerns at heart. So if you like, Saturn is working to alleviate Pluto’s natural inclination to anxiety. Pluto’s anxiety – if in Libra – is going to be centred upon approval. Anyone with Pluto in Libra usually takes rejection pretty hard, especially in romantic scenarios. The same is true of course for anyone with a Venus – Pluto connection, but Pluto is not taking on the struggles of the planets he rules. In this scenario Pluto has anxiety about being liked, not respected. Of course the difference can be subtle! Since approval, lovableness and respect are such closely allied concepts.

There are interesting and curious subcategories. The mutual reception is just that, a mutual support of one another’s interests, like the best of marriages. There can also be a detrimental reception. Consider any of the classic detrimented receptions:

  • Sun in Aquarius and Uranus in Leo
  • Moon in Capricorn and Saturn in Cancer
  • Mercury in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Gemini
  • Mercury in Pisces and Neptune in Virgo
  • Venus in Aries and Mars in Libra
  • Venus in Scorpio and Pluto in Taurus

In these configurations there is a mutual insecurity. The Moon in Capricorn struggles to relax and takes criticism hard. She looks to support from Saturn in Cancer who has little stomach for hardship and just wants things to be easier. That’s not really the kind of support she needs. But this still improves the original placements somewhat, provided the native can overcome the difficulties inherent in the placements.

Even without reception, you can understand how Venus working for Mars’ interests is going to be tricky. Mars is running the show and Venus is like a delicate maiden running with the neighbourhood toughs. She’s going to be suffering before too long.

When you have a final dispositor, as in Zack’s case, then everything is working, ultimately, for that sole objective. It’s like a long line of employees, each working for their own manager, but ultimately, their smaller objectives only make sense in the context of the big boss sitting at the top of the building.

So if Pluto is a final dispositor then you really have a task to work on that Pluto, if for no other reason than the fact that until you do, your entire chart is working to manage Plutonic anxiety. If you can perform the spiritually neat trick of a Plutonic conversion, then all that energy gets refocused into easier, and ultimately beneficial channels.

But bear in mind, converting your Pluto (a kind of metaphorical uranium enriching programme) is made easier or harder depending on how big your Pluto is. It’s an easier road if your Pluto is in Virgo or Scorpio than in Leo or Libra. Like a lot.

Pluto and Me: the Two Great Invisibles


Today I want to discuss a couple of invisibles. Each has bearing upon the other and they’re inseparable.

First of all, there’s the great blind spot of human (un)consciousness: subjectivity. This is almost impossible to fathom, not least because its frequency is considerably higher than reason. It’s the great conundrum of science and the reasoning mindset that it cannot attune to states of being that are in excess of itself. So science cannot get to grips with love – whether personal or altruistic – except to say something banal and senseless about chemical activity in the brain. The only evidence that can be made in support of love is anecdotal; circumstantial even. The reasoning mind cannot say anything insightful about it at all. Philosophers and great thinkers throughout time have attempted to tackle these thorny subjects. Unfortunately, when Descartes concluded that ‘I think therefore I am’ he committed an act of genocide on higher states of consciousness for all future generations. Consciousness was a done deal; and for every person born since, operating at a sufficiently low frequency (that of reason or below: 99% of all earth’s denizens therefore) there was no need to think any more about it. Hence many of us find ourselves in this strange world that denies our entire experience of life while at the same time it fails to explain it. We are then condemned to spend our lives acting ‘normal’. (And acting normal is, like anything else, easier the more you do it; so that’s okay.)

But subjectivity is a vast fact of human life that due to its intrinsic quality, is invisible to ourselves. Sometimes it’s more visible to others, usually when their frequency (I’m sorry to use that word, it’s very new-age and I don’t like it, but it’s close enough that it’s useful) is higher than ours. And that person probably feels a little compassion when they see it, or maybe they know to cross the road when they see it. (In the opposite direction of course, the person with low consciousness sees high consciousness concerns as ridiculous, stupid.)

But whatever your level of consciousness, subjectivity is a blind spot. Unless you’re a great enlightened one that is. Maybe if we could get into the inner workings of subjectivity we could get around it somehow; nullify it, or at least ameliorate its worst effects, but even understanding it is nigh on impossible because it gets into the great mystery of the human condition, and such explorations have defeated the greatest minds in human history. The ones that weren’t astrologers at least.

Astrology gives us a glimpse into the secret heart of our own subjectivity. In fact, as we all know – those of us who haven’t reasoned the study of the stars into nonsense that is, (in pretty much every case forgoing actual study of course) – astrology can be a weapon if wielded by a clumsy hand. It’s possible to lay bare the unconscious soul to the shock and detriment of the consciousness within. We have all of us, in our serious study, been subject to painful revelation, that with unerring accuracy lays bare our raw and unhappy weakness. Our ‘fatal flaw’. This kind of subjectivity is one that we become increasingly aware and respectful of, as we study the workings of our own incarnation and struggle to become acquainted with our true selves. It brings us to greater and lesser certainty. We are more grounded. We are less pushy. We understand that opinion is our own via dolorosa, and we try to forge a new path. We grow in this way, and become acquainted with who we are.

The alternative is difficult, but as roads go, it’s positively thronged. The countless multitude asleep to their astrology, and blind to themselves. The great map of (un)consciousness that is the nativity remains unexplored. Each well-worn aspect remains to one extent or another, something between a preference and a compulsion. Always unquestioned. It’s difficult to explain this too, because it’s so very fundamental and intrinsic and innate. For most people it’s as invisible as breathing. We rarely get the inclination to relate to our respiration. The same is true of our astrology, our preference or compulsion. Perhaps, like breathing, we only get very focused on it when we’re drowning. In adversity we are introduced to ourselves after all.

Perhaps an example will help.

Take the case of the greatest and most difficult of all compulsions / preferences. The Saturn Pluto conjunction. Here we introduce the second great invisible: Pluto. To see how this operates, understand that we’re usually quite conscious of aspects to the Sun because they represent our ideal way of being. We get a hit from them. People who embody them become our role models. But Pluto works the other way; they represent our most repressed way of being. We get a sense of anxiety from them. People who embody them become our enfants terrible. So when Pluto combines with another planet, he hides that planet’s influence from ourselves. He makes that paradigm into a blind spot. And since, aside from Pluto and his Hadean counterparts (Orcus, Ixion) there’s no more inflexible, tricky energy to work with than Saturn, the combination is especially challenging. Furthermore, because there’s no aspect that even comes close to the conjunction in terms of strength and reach, it’s little wonder that Saturn conjunct Pluto has always been known as old ‘hard labour’ by those in the know.

But what is ‘hard labour’ when it’s in our blind spot? It’s not hard for us because we don’t see it. In fact, it’s simply unquestioned. It has several manifestations of course, but usually, and most apparently it comes across as judgement. For anyone born in the early part of 1947, ( but to a lesser extent from late 46 to late 47, in Leo) or the later part of 1982 ( and again less intensely from early 1981 to early 83, in Libra), this is their great life challenge.

I grew up in close proximity to some of these energies, so I’ve always found them challenging. And I grew up too carrying the antithetic superpower of Uranus conjunct Pluto in Virgo, so Saturn-Pluto has always been my kryptonite – and vice versa of course. But that awareness has grown into a fine sensitivity. I can spot 1947 a mile off. I have to say, I’m getting to be able to spot 1982 from at least half a mile now that they’ve gone through their first Saturn return too. It’s a really tricky energy. I’m not going to judge it, God forbid, it is what it is. But I do reserve the right to cross the road when I see it coming. Which isn’t to say that it cannot be wonderful. Indeed, 1947 is usually a very strong character and you can think them very fine – provided you’re on the right side of them!

But what happens with Saturn – Pluto is that it judges. It doesn’t start that way, but it usually takes a position which it considers to be inviolate. It can take many forms but (unsurprisingly) it’s a Saturn position. So it’s always, in some sense of the word, status orientated, usually that’s coloured by its sign and house position and the influence of other aspects. In Leo, a proud, theatrical and highly religious sign (yes, few signs are as religious as Leo) it might take a position as high status in the arts. It might get onto the high ground through church membership. It might get up onto the stage and put on a show. It might take a leadership position. It’s important to remember that astrology is expressed through consciousness; so if the consciousness is low, you’re likely to have a religious zealot, looking down their nose at morally inferior types. Or a great artist whose rarefied talents set them above the plebeians. Or a self-proclaimed leader, blithely taking charge of those better qualified and more experienced.

In Libra, there is usually a tendency toward intellectual judgement. At worst, other people are deluded ‘idiots’ who clearly have no clue about how the world works. They’re muddle headed, fatuous and weak minded. The competitiveness of Libra in the air element (that repressed Arien polarity) is always a strong feature of the Libra typology.

If the consciousness is high then things are less likely to be catastrophic, but in some area of life, the Saturn – Pluto conjunction always makes hard work to one extent or another, and that hardship is always self-inflicted.

Why should this be? The problem is that the tendency to judgement is so innate that it’s intrinsically unquestionable. To the bearer of this particular cross it’s as obvious as the sun in the sky, so how can it be anything other than correct? What the aspect fails to appreciate is that the worldview it has created is not the result of inviolate natural laws. Their platform of judgement is not infallible. Indeed, they were simply born with a burgeoning need to judge, but cannot see it as anything other than common sense so they do not even realise they are sitting in judgement.

Underneath the tendency to judgement lies a huge and compulsive insecurity. Remember that Pluto imbues any point it touches with anxiety. So if Pluto relates to Saturn in Leo, then the great fear is that the person is not loved (in Leo) and more broadly not respected. Saturn is a harsh critic at the best of times after all, but when he is hidden from oneself, there is a great unconscious reaction. And the major problem here is that this high level of respect is unconsciously craved, demanded even, without – very often – having been earned. The interpersonal feedback that Saturn – Pluto gets causes a short circuit. They get treated just like anybody else, not necessarily disrespected, but certainly not with the automatic deference the aspect secretly craves. So the ego goes into overdrive building a platform from which to be superior. Then, because for reason x.y or z they are in fact superior to most everyone, they can meet such indifference with the cool repose, or even contempt, it deserves.

This of course is just one example, and a bad case in prospect. The pity of this collusion between subjectivity and Plutonic compulsion is that it becomes impossible to forge the authentic self in the context of such mindlessness. And while we have focused here on the sole example of the Saturn – Pluto conjunction, the same principle operates in the presence of any contact between these planets, since as we know: all aspects are squares!

Furthermore, the two great invisibles have this effect on any planet that is contacted by Pluto. With Venus it is the need to be approved of that becomes invisible. With the Sun, the need to be admired. Coming to awareness of these hidden anxieties is painful and difficult. Some people will go to great lengths to avoid waking up to them. In such short term blissful ignorance lies long-term tragedy. Imagine living a whole life having done no work! And yet that is what the majority of us do, in order to preserve our dearest and most cherished compulsions.

More soon.