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.

The Power of Gentians

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


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

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

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

D.H. Lawrence knew Hades:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is the power of gentians.

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

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

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

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.

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 3)

Jupiter - Pluto has status anxiety issues


When we read Shakespeare, as when we read the Greek myths we find a depth and richness of imagery that reflects the myriad personifications of astrological principles; all life is here, within these allegorical masterpieces. And beyond the character of Hades himself there is no undiluted personification of Pluto because that is an inhumane and therefore insupportable role, however the many Plutonic blends litter the pages of history and literature alike.

In the Merchant of Venice we find the character of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, who, is an uncomfortable blend of gravitas, resignation and miserliness, and who, caught up in a rivalry with the Christian merchant, Antonio, courts and realises utter ruin because he insists on the payment of his pound of flesh, which was the security for his loan to the bankrupt merchant. It is a marvellous portrayal of the danger with the Jupiter-Pluto blend. Fundamentally, pettiness is the principle which Pluto has supercharged and it is the expansive, generous nature of Jupiter which has collapsed in upon itself to become its antithesis.

We tend to think strangely in the contemplation of Jupiter and Saturn: as though they are polarities of a single principle, but Saturn is antithetic in essential qualities to Uranus and Neptune too. These two giants are not polarities by design and each has positive and negative expressions (skirting surreptitiously around the tendency to make value judgments as we go) without recourse or reference one to the other. What this means is that Jupiter has just as much power to go “wrong” as Saturn, but obviously, that wrongness isn’t so obviously uncomfortable from a subjective viewpoint as Saturn’s wrongness, so we can make the mistake of believing that Jupiter is either positive or neutral (when misfiring) and Saturn is either neutral (when operating positively) or negative. You only need to get on the wrong side of an unmanaged Jupiter-Pluto square to realise how deficient that perspective can be.

It is fascinating to read Saturn into the character of Shylock; he is after all, wise and venerable, but his character is entirely Jupiter, but Jupiter collapsed in upon itself, twisted by some Plutonic impulse for revenge. Where Jupiter ought to be magnanimous, it is instead petty; where he should have much to be grateful for, he is instead consumed by his grievances, and where he should be motivated by the highest good, he is instead fixated on the most negative outcomes (why else demand a pound of flesh as surety?)


A pound of flesh has become a coda for spiteful penalties and this delineates yet another dimension of Pluto; he ramps up the expression of whatever point he corresponds with and without the transition to personal integrity there is no guard against Plutonic compulsion which filters control, personal agenda and vendetta, power games, psychological cruelty and the desire for others’ humiliation through the lens of that planetary energy. With Jupiter the filter is in part civic: thus one of the compulsions comes through being a person ‘of good standing.’ With Jupiter alone, that is quite straightforward, because we are not compulsively driven to be of good standing so we do not contaminate Jupiter energy with our unconscious agendas and we can simply strive for self-improvement without needing to draw others in before controlling, humiliating and annihilating them.

This was Shylock’s journey, and Pluto, with his contempt for mortal ambition wants no winners, he’s happy if everyone loses, that is more grist for the Hadean mills after all. In his petty insistence that Antonio be humiliated and destroyed he only brought destruction and ruin upon himself, but even then: who could possibly have been exalted in that famous scene? Portia alludes to the antidote however:

You stand within his danger, do you not?

Ay, so he says.

Do you confess the bond?

I do.

Then must the Jew be merciful.

On what compulsion must I? tell me that.

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

And here then is the antidote to Jupiter-Pluto problems: mercy. To be merciful is the exaltation of Jupiter. Jupiter – Pluto, sticking to the superficial appearances of the law, the letter of the law, demands (indignantly and with affronted bluster) that he cannot be forced into an attitude of mercy. He puffs up and pontificates his rights, but these are not inalienable rights, they are not moral rights, they are not even human rights, they are the rights of somebody who perceives that they have been wronged, so they have the right to vengeance.

Every word in the thesaurus of Jupiter is corrupted by Pluto. Shylock is superficial where Jupiter in his dignity should be deep. He is vengeful where he should be merciful, petty where he should be magnanimous, indignant where he should be tolerant and demanding where he should be conciliatory. And these are the compulsions therefore of Jupiter-Pluto. Pettiness, puffed-up self-importance, a lack of faith in others which might be best understood as ascribing the lowest motives to others, which is no more than a projection of the mean-spiritedness of Jupiter-Pluto itself.

Shylock is the caricature of this energy, he is grasping, mean, indignant and spiteful, and he abuses any power that is given him in his quest for revenge on those he feels have held him back and thwarted his ambitions. Jupiter-Pluto is ambitious, but not in the way of Saturn which craves authority, but rather in Jupiter’s vein, which craves the admiration of the pauper for all his glories. Thus wealth and status are the rungs on the ladder of power and control and this combination can make social climbers, arrant snobs and the type that prefers to look down his nose rather than straight in the eye.

But as with any Plutonic issue, the compulsion is simply behaviour that is designed specifically to mask the underlying Plutonic anxiety. This is the same as for Venus-Pluto which has anxiety about being loved and lovable, except with Jupiter, the anxiety is all about inferiority. In my experience, people with Jupiter-Pluto problems are terrified that people will find out about their humble roots, that they are actually quite poor or that their parents were lowly Welsh coal-miners, so they seek to assuage this anxiety by garnering status, and the trappings of wealth and success. Very often with the hard contacts there is some class anxiety and these people will garner various elements into their lives not because they want those things in and of themselves, but because they mask any hint of poverty, low-class or mediocrity which are, at root, the architects of the Plutonic anxiety driving the compulsion.

Fortunately the compulsion follows a highly recognisable pattern. As ever, the energy seeks to personify itself within people and situations, and Pluto in this instance attempts to polarise Jupiter-Pluto energy accordingly, so the native will set him or herself in the superior role whilst ascribing all sorts of degrading, lowly and humiliating characteristics to his or her opponent in order that they are cast in the inferior role. Jupiter – Pluto people are those types that seem to consider themselves to be ‘better’ in some manner that feels very uncomfortable to the target. Really though, when the Jupiter-Pluto opponent calls you ‘a loser’ (or a few hundred years ago ‘a peasant’) they are simply projecting their anxiety about their own inferiority. The next stage calls for a battle of resources. The native will attempt, by fair means or foul, to deny you resources – which is a tactic typical of all Plutonic contacts – while maximising their own. In the case of Moon-Pluto, the resources that are compulsively procured are more likely to have to do with security (which is why people with hard Moon-Pluto contacts often flirt with homelessness), but where Jupiter is concerned the resources are entirely status focused.

Saturn has this propensity too (as we shall see in our next article), and this is one area of note in this discussion because in many ways contacts between Jupiter or Saturn and Pluto are the hardest Plutonic connections to manage. Contacts with personal planets are felt with enormous urgency precisely because those planets are personal. The discomfort of Pluto is felt keenly within the human core. Contacts with outer planets are entirely transpersonal and are very difficult to actualise, hence they are not felt with anything like the same intensity. Jupiter and Saturn sit somewhere in between: they are close enough to evince truly unpleasant and Plutonic effects, but far enough away to not cause enough personal discomfort to grate. People can go for years compulsively projecting Pluto through these intermediaries without realising how entirely compulsive they are being. In a sense this has to do with the societal nature of Jupiter and Saturn, so the compulsion can be, if you like, masked with civic and status concerns. And let us be clear, they are both status-driven, albeit with markedly different flavours. Jupiter craves the status of wealth and celebrity, Saturn the status of authority and respect. They are the Lord and the Judge respectively. The former desires the grand home, the fast cars and the trophy wife (or husband), the latter desires a position of moral superiority, position and rank within the church, the community or the profession. So, crucially, whatever the precise flavour we can say of both these planets in contact with Pluto that there is status anxiety and therefore status compulsion.

I know people with Jupiter-Pluto contacts naturally, and they are usually the types that proclaim their desire to be millionaires before the age of 30, they will buy themsleves a Porsche (which they cannot afford), and dress their children in ‘brands’ because the reflection is then a balm for their status anxiety. By the same token, their expenditure on their children will usually be entirely dependent on how it reflects on them in the eyes of society. They will pay for music lessons (so that they can boast about their child’s musical prowess), but will feed them only the value line of foodstuffs, considering anything more a waste of money.  Frequently these people invest all their resources in the trappings of wealth but are miserly in areas that are not ‘seen’ by others outside the intimate circle. So they will drive a Porsche and yet their home is filled with the cheapest yard-sale furniture. Their grand country home may be another accoutrement of status, but everyone inside sits shivering through the winter because the Jupiter-Pluto owner is too miserly to spend money on heating, since that isn’t an expenditure which can be appreciated by society at large.

The challenge for Jupiter – Pluto is clear because uncannily (or not), everyone with these contacts who does not manage to rein them in and transform Jupiter from grasping to generous, whining to magnanimous and superficial to deep eventually loses the whole lot. This is an aspect that forces one to lose even the shirt off one’s back if allowed to run too far. That is Pluto’s greatest trick of course, upping the ante until the stakes are life-threateningly high. Status-anxiety is the clue. If you want that car, that handbag, that diamond ring, then ask yourself why it matters. Once again, ask the Pluto question: can I just let this go? If not, why not?

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…

BritFate: prediction methods explained in detail

Today’s article will be something of an experiment. Because the time and effort required to produce these educational astrology articles is considerable, I am hoping to encourage a positive energy exchange with my readers (up to 800 a day!) so for major pieces I will produce the work in a PDF document which you can download and either read on your computer or print off and read in bed, or over your cereal or while waiting to talk to your bank manager about the overdraft. The article will be free to download, however the link for my Paypal donation page where you can optionally contribute a couple of bucks for my time and effort, will be listed too.

I hope you will be comfortable with that, because although I do get some donations, in general terms there isn’t much incentive to write articles when I get paid much better for writing nativities, so the bulk of my time goes into that instead of providing this free resource.

Today’s article demonstrates a useful principle about predicting future times which I am certain will be a useful delineation of methodology. Here in the UK we are living through interesting times and I have a strong suspicion that these times are about to get even more interesting.

I had a discussion with my doctor recently about predicting the cause of death through astrology, and she asked if it was possible to posit a time of death as well as a cause. Actually, I don’t entirely believe that it is possible to determine a cause of death so much as a style of death, but that’s another matter. What good astrologers have long known is that you cannot predict your own time of death: many have tried and only one Renaissance Italian managed it: on the second attempt! I have read several theories on this and I think it is linked to the subjective perception of one’s demise, of course it will be traumatic, but the actual moment of departure? I cannot imagine that would show up as a problem.

To some extent I want to reserve insight on this question because I cover the topic quite throughly in my forthcoming book on Orcus, however, that is not actually the purpose of this exploratory digression in any case, the simple fact is that it is much easier to predict a time of death for an individual by looking at the transits, progressions and directions of those people in their intimate circle. If you see then that there is a period of adversity for all those connected with the individual, which is concommitant with an illness, accident or other mortally-threatening happenstance in their nativity, then we can mark that as a possible exit point for the soul in question.

The demise becomes explicable after the fact, as was the case with Natasha Richardson (for example) and there is no question that this insight would have been available beforehand, however, there are numerous convergences of life-threatening portents in a human life and they cannot all result in death (well, the first which does is logically the end of the matter) but undoubtedly they will denote near-misses. You wouldn’t even have to know about it of course; I remember one instance where I crossed a road in London and upon reaching the other side I noted the look of horror and distress on the faces of the many people standing stock-still on the pavement: apparently I had almost been hit by a bus, but, lost in thought I had been oblivious to my brush with mortality.

All of which is a rather long-winded means of pointing to a methodology. Compare the futures of a group and you will see that where there are concurrences, there are therefore shared experiences of significance in the making.

The article today will demonstrate how this method works, how you should put it together, and how to identify hotspots in the future. For the purpose of the demonstration I am going to use the combined nativities of David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, the UK coalition government (which has a birth time) and the nation they govern as well. If we view the three through a convergent lens in this way, we can easily ascertain where the stress points lie. You of course can use the charts of any associated group, and by applying the same methods you will be able to identify future hotspots of especial significance.

If you wish to download the article (5000 words+) please consider making a small donation via Paypal.

The article is available as a PDF document: please click here to read. And remember, I would rather you enjoy the article for free than forgo the article because you don’t wish to make a donation.