Moon – Pluto: the Gathering Storm


Recently I wrote an extensive article on the key tenets of Sun-Pluto contacts. Today I would like to discuss in similar depth, the themes of Moon’s application to the Lord Hades, its effects being less outwardly manifest, but absolutely as far-reaching and powerful. The same quality of course will permeate the astrology of anyone born with Moon in Scorpio or with Moon in the 8th house. Also, it should not be forgotten that Moon in parallel or contraparallel to Pluto will evince a similar influence upon the life of the native.

The key understanding here is that Plutonic energies are brought to bear on lunar qualities in the life; which can have a number of dramatic effects, dependent as ever upon the evolvement of the subject and to some extent too the house and sign of the contacts. Our understanding of aspects especially leads us to an understanding of first principles: the conjunction is the most innate and in some sense therefore the most seemingly intrinsic blend and here most especially the sign and house become of paramount consideration. The Pluto in Scorpio generation will no doubt create a slew of individuals with this effect in serious overdrive, in Libra relationship themes will predominate, and Virgo might display extreme pragmatism as an obvious outlet for this combination. The particular nature of the aspect however is not especially key in my view, since in reality, all aspects are squares with the most marked difference between them being for the most part subjective. Moon square Pluto individuals might struggle more in themselves with the discomfort of the aspect, and their expression of it will therefore be more apparently stressed, but the impetus is just the same as it is for the trine or the conjunction.

Moon Pluto creates anything but milk and water types, their best qualities are self-sufficiency and an ability to stand alone, these natives are tough, resilient to the nth degree and too they are tough on themselves, as we shall see during the course of this discussion.

Let us begin with the simple observation that Pluto is murderous and implacable. This has to do of course with the birth-death-rebirth archetype of the Scorpio principle, one that is engendered in Persephone (Proserpina) the maiden-wife of her uncle who raped and stole her away to Tartarus thus incurring the wrath of Ceres. Every 6 months Proserpina is reborn and reunited with her mother and the crops grow again until harvest and winter whereupon she descends once more into the underworld to be with her husband. Similarly then, there is a cyclic quality to anything that Pluto touches and holds in his power; a thing must be killed before it can be reborn. The rebirth allows an evolvement too, so, perhaps in an ongoing facsimile of the karmic cycle, the killing is enacted in order that something improved might take its place, very much like the phoenix rising from the ashes of what went before. The phoenix too is blind, hinting at the compulsive quality of the cycle, we are very often blind to these same compulsive effects, and it takes a rare honesty and courage to face up to the Plutonic heart which beats life into our darker motives. Here though, the Moon, an already fluctuating and oft-times obscured energy in the psyche is combined with this dark impetus: the emotions must be killed too, especially at times of great distress and this occurs simply because – supercharged as they are by Hadean force – they would otherwise be overwhelming. The double edged sword of Pluto combinations is again revealed, the very power that generates such intensity becomes itself a source of threat and menace, it is as though the force is too great to be integrated, so it is partially absorbed and then one must shy away at the last so as not to be burned in the ensuing conflagration.

This creates a facility for emotional amputation that is the dark-side of a habitually intense, passionate and rich emotional life. For the most part, the native with Moon-Pluto contacts can experience even the minutiae of life in a strangely profound manner, but when there is serious anguish or confrontation, most especially within close or family relationships, the manner which once seemed remarkable for its passion and connectedness becomes suddenly cold, distant and aloof. This is simply the drowning point of Plutonic feeling where the native cannot allow the emotions to run any higher, so a facility has developed to forgo them completely. In almost every case this relates back to the mother, in keeping with the lunar quality and usually there is a sense that the mother in some way used a subtle form of emotional manipulation to try and control the child, perhaps by withholding affection to ensure compliance. The problem however is that the child, learning in a more fundamental manner than any adult can hope to emulate becomes even better at sealing off the emotional side of their nature than the parent; in any case, the relationship with the mother is always likely to be difficult. This might manifest in a number of ways. It could be the case that the mother is seen as being unusually powerful or intense or even cruel, or in some other way she embodies a Plutonic principle; often she may have survived some difficulty in her own life and herein lies a further observation about Moon-Pluto, issues of survival become manifest. Most often this can be seen to operate at a number of levels, and it may be experienced through outside agents (most especially with the opposition) or it could even be self-inflicted.

Consider the themes of Moon and create from them a sense of struggle for survival, and a propensity to Spartanism (a key tenet of Pluto) the mother therefore might not be especially nurturing. The same can be said for those with Moon in Pluto’s domicile, Scorpio and also his house, the 8th. Very often children with these placements are made to ‘make do’ or suffer some form of privation that sets them apart from others. One friend of mine with a strong Moon-Pluto configuration was always forced to make do with the cheapest school shoes and soccer boots, such that they hurt his feet because they were so cheap and poorly made. His mother saw the cost of good shoes as a waste of money since he would only grow out of them anyway. This seemingly trivial economy belies the normal priorities for a mother at least in the eyes of the child: the mother is supposed to consider the welfare, happiness and comfort of the child as being of paramount importance and yet here is a subtle message that the child is undervalued, not worth the expense and not very well nurtured.

This lesson is often taken to heart too.

The Moon-Pluto child might become painfully awkward when attending to their own nurturing as a result. As adults they may develop compulsions about food and dietary issues and this is why Moon-Pluto more than any other contact seems to associate with eating disorders, although in general terms there will invariably be several other supporting factors in the astrology too. As an example, consider the fascinating and tragic case of Karen Carpenter who died aged only 32 from complications relating to anorexia:

Karen Carpenter, musician. 2 Mar 1950 11:45 (+5:00) New Haven CT, USA

Karen Carpenter, musician. 2 Mar 1950 11:45 (+5:00) New Haven CT, USA

Moon Pluto is not even the standout feature here, Uranus peregrine and rising but ruled by the Moon which is conjunct Pluto of course is the key factor. Ebertin ascribes to Uranus the manifestation of rhythm and Carpenter was considered to be a virtuoso drummer and indeed played the drums on every studio track she recorded. Uranus in Cancer of course can create a number of effects, most commonly wanderlust and ofttimes a sudden break from the home environment, but here, consider the conjunction to Ascendant which really creates enormous nervous tension and with the lunar rulership (and on the Aries point too!) a genuine issue with nurturing that might well have a physical manifestation.

mo_pl02There are a number of supporting factors.

First of all consider the presence of Saturn in Virgo. Here there is a test of diet and assimilation as much as anything else. One friend of mine with Saturn in Virgo is a lifelong vegetarian and has at various times been vegan and fruitarian and indeed is quite fixated on diet such that – whilst he explains his interest as a concern for good, clean living – it resembles something closer to a grim and onerous duty to the onlooker. This is common enough with Saturn in Virgo and indeed, Karen Carpenter was notorious for her dieting. Indeed, malnutrition was cited as a major factor in her death which technically occurred when she was putting on weight during her recovery from anorexia: the extra bulk put strain on her heart which failed as a result (and Pluto is on the degree for the right auricle of the heart in her astrology.)

Sun opposes Saturn too and here there is often a genetic or congenital difficulty. I have Sun opposition Saturn and was born with a cardiac shunt (more commonly known as a hole in the heart) and because of Sun’s rulership of Leo it can very often create a heart difficulty of some form. Here though, with Saturn in Virgo there is an imbalance triggered through diet and with Saturn in the 4th, thus ruled by the Moon, which rules the chart, there is enormous emphasis placed on food and nurturance in general.

Not shown in the nativity is a tee-square from Su – Sa to both Ceres and Hygeia conjunct in Sagittarius and the 6th. Here are further food issues, with Ceres in Virgo’s house and Hygeia too, quite possibly at home there, but profoundly stressed. There is no real doubt however that she was in recovery from her eating disorder and had she survived at the very last she may have gone on to live out the rest of her life comfortably. That is the nature of the early difficulty implied by Saturn and the general tenor of the tee-square itself, which must trine out eventually.

Pluto too rules the 6th, so the small matters of maintaining one’s good health in a prudent and balanced Hygeian manner is a life and death issue for her, and with Pluto conjunct Moon? Nurturance and food are bound to figure.

Memories too can be a rich source of feeling for those with Moon – Pluto contacts and they may have access to powerful emotional recollections from early childhood, a time which might hold a store of rich and often difficult experiences. The Moon of course corresponds most closely with the earliest childhood as well as the final days of life, so the theme of the beginnings of life will undoubtedly be played out at the end of life too for those with this configuration. All of these disparate elements though are connected with the cascade effect of the astrology wherein – like a fountain where the water moves with gravity from one tier to the next – the strength and intensity of the emotional life plays out in all the various interrelated factors and contacts in the inner and outer life. Pluto supercharges the lunar qualities and lends an imperative to transformation, usually through intense, difficult and uncomfortable experience. The emotions therefore are over-powered, which is unquestionably pleasant when the emotions are themselves pleasant, but as soon as anger, jealousy or some other difficult feeling is experienced it becomes overly intense resulting in hard lessons. The Moon-Pluto individual must therefore learn to moderate these outbursts of negative feeling, otherwise like the Scorpion that corresponds to Pluto at his most unevolved, he will even sting himself to death when attacking his enemy. The only possible and lasting solution is true transformation. This creates a necessity to develop self-awareness, so that the snake might be realised from the scorpion, the eagle from the snake, and ultimately, the indestructible phoenix from the eagle. It is only with evolvement therefore that the richness and profundity of emotional experience and feeling promised by this configuration can be realised and its damaging excesses left behind. As ever with Pluto, absolute honesty and a willingness to confront the darkness within are of paramount importance.

Help with your own Moon – Pluto problems can be found here.

Tales of Fallen Reception: Sun in Libra, Saturn in Aries

Carole LombardThe astrology of Carole Lombard has a raft of fascinating factors; born in 1908, she was arguably the template for comedy acting; despite her deliriously dreamy good looks she was never much enamoured of the screen-siren mantle that could have been hers for the taking; she was a fast-talking, strong willed dynamo who swore like a trooper and knew her own mind. Her nickname on the studio circuit was “the Profane Angel” and Howard Hawks said of her: “Marvellous girl. Crazy as a bedbug.” She died in 1942 aged only 33, when the aircraft she was travelling home in crashed into the summit of Mount Potosoi, south west of Las Vegas.

No surprise then that her forté was Screwball Comedy, nor that Hawk considered her to be “crazy”, her astrology is as screwball and crazy at it gets. Far from evincing a single pointed focus, her astrology is a dizzying, confusing maze of indications and contraindications. But let us consider a few of the extant themes:

  1. Chiron rises in Aquarius, crazy but sensitive.
  2. Moon also rises, but in dreamy Pisces.
  3. Moon opposes Venus conjunct Jupiter, giving (according to Ebertin) “Film Star mannerisms”, this on Regulus too, and forming the basis for a tee-square to her Midheaven.
  4. A grand trine: across the 1st/5th and 8th/9th houses that includes Pallas! Why am I not surprised!?

And finally, consider the debilitated mutual reception in opposition of Sun in Libra with Saturn in Aries. Both these planets are in fall and thus considered weak, but by mutual reception they are placed in the signs of each-others exaltation, in opposition they are difficult to balance, but how else explain Carole’s enormous determination to succeed in comedy? Saturn in Aries is a strange placement, it ought to in theory be more or less the most debiltated of positions for Saturn, but somehow the stubborn, wilful nature of Aries seems to suit Saturn in a manner that the other fire-signs simply do not. There is no smooth sense of persistence with it, rather, like the Ram the Saturnine Arian will butt against a problem out of sheer bloody-mindedness for a while and then give up, but importantly, it rankles, so he or she will be back eventually and butt away some more, and again, and again. The truth is that Saturn in Aries gives astonishing, if intermittent persistence.

Carole Lombard Nativity

Traditionally the placement gives a high level of entitlement without the necessary humility; Saturn in Aries wants your respect but doesn’t want to serve his apprenticeship to earn it, but when he does eventually learn that he’s not getting your respect he’ll persist.

Sun in Libra is equally indifferent to solar qualities which demand a sense of entitlement too, the Libran is always expending effort on ensuring the other person feels at ease, only to realise that he or she is the only person that feels dissatisfied with things; all the energy has been spent on everyone else!

So then, consider the reversal; Sun in Aries gives a real power to focus exclusively on one’s own needs; subjectively it is a great position for the Sun – even though the downside is that you can appear to be very selfish – but by its very nature Aries doesn’t actually care all that much about what the other person thinks, so where’s the crime? Similarly, Saturn is very comfortable in the sign of Libra, which rules the serious business of justice and gives a weighty consideration and an element of gravitas in the demeanour that usually commands the respect that Saturn in Aries feels is his divine right.

The mutual reception then, especially one where the planets see each other in aspect (thus by quincunx, quindecile or most powerfully, by opposition) gives the potential to realise the very best potentials of the interchange of energies by mutual reception, but only after the lesson of Saturn has been learned. Now Carole Lombard may have been considered ditzy, but she certainly displayed a great quality of persistence and other factors in her chart allowed her to experience great success even before Saturn had transformed. Intriguingly she married Clark Gable at the time of her Saturn return, just as the mutual reception would have been raised a notch or two in her psyche.

Another notable actor with the same debilitated mutual reception is Guy Pearce, who although ostensibly Australian, was actually born in Cambridgeshire, England. The release of his most critically acclaimed movieGuy Pearce The Proposition Memento in 2000 saw Pluto transiting his tenth house whilst Solar Arc Sun applied to conjunction with radix Neptune, the actor’s high-point therefore; although no doubt the sense of confused, continually dissolving real-world conditions that were at the heart of that movie’s plot were reflective of some genuine sense of dissolution in Pearce’s life at that time. As above, so below and life imitates art, as any good astrologer understands. Similarly the movie dealt with the difficult aftermath of a head-injury, Carole Lombard suffered a serious scar to her face during an auto-accident early in her short career, and due to the polarity of Saturn with skin, the opposition to blemishless Libra and Aries of the head, Saturn in Aries very frequently gives scars, skin eruptions and injuries to the face.

Alan Leo said of the Sun opposition to Saturn (and he applied the same sentiment to the conjunction as well) that by it, “the native is frequently confronted with obstacles and delay, and unless in mutual reception, it is very unfortunate for all things signified by the two planets, bringing misfortunes in business, loss of public favour, likelihood of the father’s death, loss of father’s money or separation from or disagreement with him.” (from “How to Judge a Nativity” p249. LN Fowler & Co. 1928).

Sun in Libra, Saturn in Aries

Rarely do the natives with this particular configuration manage to shine in early life, theirs is the task of having to learn to combine the best qualities of Sun and Saturn, Aries and Libra, and usually the work has to be done – as is Saturn’s timeless directive – the hard way.