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.

How big is your Pluto?

This is an interesting diagram which delineates the ‘strength’ of Pluto through the signs. With Pluto, stronger does not mean better, it means, well, stronger. To have sympathy with an energy does not always mean to have more of it, indeed, Pluto is subtle, deep and most of all hidden, so to have Pluto in positive, outgoing and extrovert signs, like Leo, Libra and Sagittarius is uncomfortable for Pluto, who enjoys Scorpio for precisely the reason that he can remain subtle, deep and hidden.

But there is a way in which stronger does mean better, provided you can utilise the lessons of Orcus and find true spiritual integrity. In this way you will not be ‘broken’ by Pluto. So if you have Pluto strong then you are facing a major test in this incarnation, and one which you will learn at a much greater personal cost (but also a cost to those in your life) than the majority whose Pluto’s are less ‘out there’.

If you have Pluto close to an angle, then he becomes even stronger, and he is also strong in the 5th, 7th and 9th houses. So if you have Pluto rising in Libra or Sagittarius, and to a slightly lesser extent Leo, then know that you have quite a trip ahead of you and you need, for the sake of your eternal soul, to get down to some serious spiritual work if you want to avoid the burden of a lot of karmic payback as well as realise the not inconsiderable benefit of having transformed a great deal of Hadean force. That will make you quite formidable, but in a loving and meaningful way.

Plus, what choice do you have? Any other road leads only to unhappiness.

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…

Orcus, Vulcanus, Saturn-Pluto and Edwina Currie

The brilliant, amazing, awesome Edwina

Back in the late 80s I lived a rather feral existence as a busking, itinerant astrologer (of sorts), and I hung with the hippies, bad companies, clattered haphazardly about the long, dusty summers and tried not to get too embroiled in life. They were the good old, bad old days. Unsurprisingly, in those days, I didn’t have much sympathy for the British Conservative Party in spite of its very illustrious origins, it being the oldest political party in the world, and boasting several luminaries in its historical membership, including its founder Robert Peel (who invented the police), and Winston Churchill, a man of many admirable qualities, but whom I like best for the fact that he would have an afternoon nap every day, in his pyjamas. Truth be told, I still don’t have much sympathy for the Tory way, but times have changed.

The low point for the Conservatives though has to be that collection of scoundrels, hypocrites, criminals, oppressors and narcissists that formulated the bulk of the party’s front bench under Margaret Thatcher, arch Sun-Pluto destroyer of the working class and nemesis of all things meaningful and spiritual. I say this in a considered tone, because in contemplation of the  Sun-Pluto archetype, the understanding remains that while you might be vociferously opposed to nuclear weapons you can still appreciate, with a measure of reverence and awe, their sheer destructive power; their apocalyptic, majestic, naked, irresistible force.

Unfortunately, Mrs Thatch became a poster child for some fairly unpleasant metamorphoses; like the reinvention of avarice. Suddenly, by having a non-materialistic viewpoint you became – almost overnight – a loser. The disciples of Thatcherism weren’t greedy, selfish, exploitative and base of course; they were pragmatic, right-thinking, clear-sighted winners.

Of course it was a manifesto tailored to perfection for an extremely narrow astrological phenomenon and it changed this country irrevocably. Ironically, but not remotely coincidentally, the star pupil of the Tao of Me was among the front ranks, sans brown shirt perhaps, but pronouncing the doctrines with all the fervour of a newly installed town-crier. Edwina Currie, born within weeks of the Saturn – Pluto conjunction in Leo is the most remarkable astrological specimen; rare only in the extremity of her conditioning, but for that reason, remarkable nonetheless.

Edwina Currie, politician, broadcaster, author, superwoman: 13 Oct 1946, 23:30, Liverpool England

I don’t want to wax too long and lyrical about this nativity, but here are a few intriguing pointers:

  • Saturn conjunct Pluto rises in Leo, just look at that picture at the top, isn’t she just too scarily perfect? Pluto supercharges Saturn’s drive for status (Saturn rules Capricorn, it’s ambitious, it wants to be respected, it demands respect, God help you.) Leo needs to be royal, nothing common-or-garden here thank you very much: Saturn-Pluto rising has to be the most respected in all the land, everybody is inferior.
  • If you are still unconvinced, read her self-penned bio. She has rubbed shoulders with the Beatles, US Presidents and a plethora of Nobel Laureates; it raises name-dropping to something approaching an art-form. And look how she’s the most successful person that ever lived! Remarkable, but that, of course is the point.
  • The closest aspect in the nativity and ruler of the Midheaven – therefore the big career driver – is Mars square Pluto. Here’s a woman that’s no respecter of men’s personal space, she gets in close, engages in inappropriate intimacy with them and therein lies the source of her power and impetus to control. With this aspect ruling the Midheaven though, there’s no question who Ms. Currie works for: Number One! I told you she was top of the Thatcherite class.
  • And that Saturn – Pluto conjunction is squared by a stellium of Mercury, Mars and Jupiter, all in the 4th house: here’s some unfinished business in the early family home all right, women weren’t valued, that’s her recollection no doubt, Mercury and Jupiter rule intercepted signs, that energy is lost in the 5th and 11th, giving and receiving love and attention was for the menfolk only, mother wasn’t valued (Moon opposed by Venus, 5th to 11th) and the Saturn – Pluto conjunction manifests the 5th (love me!) and the 6th (all day, every day!)
  • Intriguingly, the closest aspect of all is a quincunx between Astraea (on the cusp of the 5th) and Hygeia (conjunct Hades) in Aries and the 10th. Here’s an intimation of a slow decline in health, a health issue that one doesn’t ever properly recover from, it leads to a deterioration, it has its basis in the past, a genetic condition perhaps.
  • Hopi conjunct Black Moon Lilith: there’s judgment and prejudice at being the other woman (in Norma Major’s life).
  • Saturn-Pluto is also conjunct Urania, and this is extremely important in the context of the Uranus-Vulcanus conjunction in Gemini. She really does have a brilliant mind, a genius for structure. It’s interesting generationally though because the conjunction of Uranus (individuation) with Vulcanus (invisible force or drive) in Gemini, suggests a real impetus toward being considered to be delightfully, intriguingly brilliant, cerebral, mentally switched on, versatile and adaptable. It is, in context with the Saturn – Pluto and Urania the hallmark of the cerebral competitor, one who is special (Uranus) for being a super-achiever (Saturn-Pluto) in many fields (Gemini).
  • And finally, to Orcus. I have a big article on Orcus coming up (when I have five minutes) but suffice to say, Orcus creates serious consequences for those who break solemn oaths. Bill Clinton (whom Edwina met at University) also has Uranus conjunct Orcus (sudden retribution for breaking promises), it’s an aspect that hunts you down, but unexpectedly, the fall from grace can be swift and spectacular (especially with Vulcanus configured). This is exactly what happened to Edwina when she uttered her ill-fated remark about salmonella and eggs, it ended her career as a politician (and the same effect was evidenced with Bill Clinton of course). They were both hounded out of office.

So much more to say, so little time. I have nothing personally against Mrs Currie, of course, but her astrology is fascinating. It must be tough being her, exhausting, and I wish her every success, which of course is the lynchpin of her existence. As ever though, with Saturn – Pluto in Leo, and the group born in 1946 have it worst: having a terminator ego might be great in terms of worldly success, but the ordinary mortals who have to share their lives are usually left broken by it.

Pluto through the signs: what’s your obsession?


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.

Relationships and the Davison Composite

Today I would like to revisit the theme of relationship astrology, and explore another method of determining compatibility between two individuals by the analysis of their astrological combination. Typically this is achieved through synastry: the application of one nativity to another wherein the aspects between each party’s placements are studied. Of course, even before any synastry is considered, a study of the individuals’ horoscopes will expose considerable insight, about the conditions of the marriage, the probability of marital breakdown and the manner of it, clues about the character and disposition of the marriage partner and so forth. I discussed this method previously in my article on the astrology of marriage. Another approach is to use a midpoint calculator and to combine the mundane placements of every discrete shared point in the respective nativities to produce a third nativity. This is an interesting and insightful method that I have discussed before, however, it fails in one very key context which in some ways is difficult to reconcile with the underpinning theory of the stars: namely that the mundane midpoint composite is an entirely academic horoscope: it simply cannot exist in nature. That is to say it is a mathematical construct and is not therefore a nativity that has ever existed in time and space.

This does not discount its relevance and valuable insights can be gleaned from the midpoint composite. What might be more intriguing however is to take an absolute midpoint of two nativities in time and space: thus by finding the exact point in time between two births and the exact geographical location which lies at the midpoint of the two individuals and from that point create an entirely new astrology; and crucially one that does exist in space and time. This is a complex method of combination known as the Davison Composite and named after its creator Ronald Davison.

Therefore, and to utilise a simple example, if you were born at midday on the 1st of January in London and your partner at midday on the 3rd of January in Glasgow, then you would create a nativity for January 2nd at midday, somewhere near Manchester to realise the Davison composite.

Previously I used the example of Prince Charles and Princess Diana as a midpoint combination to study the extant themes. Here then is the Davison Composite for their partnership:

Davison Composite

Charles and Diana: Davison Composite

This chart is not nearly so comfortable and easy as the mundane midpoint combination. There is of course a wonderful emotional power in the grand water trine, an easy sense of outward responsibility across the earth houses. This evidently creates a sense of emotional security derived from those themes of status, easy living and easy money. Jupiter on the midheaven and in Cancer, the sign of tradition, family and all matters clannish really tells a story of royal good fortune and benefit. The good news is decidedly thin on the ground after this point however.

The chart ruler is profoundly stressed most distressingly from Mars and if you consider this in tandem with Saturn in Scorpio, tee-squared from inflexibly autocratic Pluto in Leo and abruptly plain-spoken Mercury in Aquarius then you have a genuine difficulty that will no doubt manifest most especially in the bedroom. Saturn in Scorpio creates an early sexual difficulty: eventually there might be respite, but the lifetime arc of relationships creates pressure to normalise relations early on: a theme of discomfort or dissatisfaction in the sex-life will not long be tolerated in a marriage, at best it will become a major theme of anguish for both parties. Mars in Taurus too creates an astoundingly slow-fuse, here anger and resentment can build over months and that slow-pressure manifests out into the 8th: where sex is a matter of biological necessity.

Therefore, in outward appearance, with Libra rising and a grand trine in water, Charles and Diana would have appeared to be blissfully content, but with the passage of time and the pressure of so much unusual public scrutiny, the lack of any real chemistry and passion would eventually take its toll. Venus conjunct Chiron is very much the pain of love, and in the 4th and Aquarius, it is a behind-closed-doors woundedness that comes of feeling the pressure of convention and expectation; the expectation of needing to be exceptionally in love.

Venus, the ruler, squared (albeit widely) to Neptune rising, most especially speaks to this difficulty. Here is a longing for purity and refinement in the love experience but one that cannot be realised and thus grates and wears down the optimism. The dreamy perfection of matrimonial appearance that is hinted at by Neptune rising in Libra cannot live up to expectations and like a piece of grit in the shoe it niggles.

Another intriguing aspect not included in the chart depiction is Venus quindecile Jupiter. Venus Jupiter always denotes the joy of love, expanding and improving the underpinning themes of relationship; however, with the quindecile it becomes an obsession, and invariably a difficulty is realised as a result. It is of course difficult to derive too much darkness from any combination of Venus and Jupiter, most likely the problem is one of too much of a good thing rather than any constriction or agony, but here the obsession might manifest as an expectation of love that becomes a compulsion of simply having to look good for the cameras.

Lastly, Pluto is supremely difficult. In Leo, he is not an easy power to transform and again the idea that all must appear perfect even when there are severe difficulties in the foundations is mooted. Mercury – Pluto creates a very peculiar communicative tendency within the relationship where what is not said becomes more important than what is said. There is always a sense between these two people that something is being hidden and that more than any other factor is creating the sexual tension as evinced by the Me/Pl tee square to Saturn in Scorpio. Mercury squared to Saturn is the closest major aspect in the chart too, so here is a real brake on easy communication, Saturn in Scorpio creates a test of secrecy among other things and the square creates distrust and too much conservatism, especially for Mercury in Aquarius which really wants to be a little provocative and outrageous at times.

In summation, had I been consulted about this particular relationship, I would have been concerned that whilst there was much potential for an outwardly successful partnership, the appearance of happiness and contentment would very quickly belie a deeper malaise. A very real incompatibility in sexual relations would need some committed work and profound honesty to overcome in the longer term and the tendency for resentment to fester would eventually poison the initial ease inherent in the union. This was a relationship, that according to the Davison composite at least, was always going to struggle.

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.