The small planet of Pluto packs a gigantic punch! It’s interesting to me that this tiny giant was discovered in 1930 and its designation as an official “planet” has been debated until 2006 when it was re-classified as a “dwarf planet.” Pluto has had so much impact on the way we perceive astrology as well as the ways in which astrology can be used as a transformative tool.
We’re now in the midst of a powerful grand cross, a configuration that includes Uranus in the sign of Aries, Pluto in Capricorn, Mars in Libra, and Jupiter in Cancer. Under this grand cross, each planet sits right in the middle of each element: Air, Water, Fire and Earth.
My interest in Pluto in this configuration is the magnitude of such a small object and its significance in terms of the cycle by which the individual and collective psyches are affected.
Pluto’s symbolic associations include the Hindu god Shiva, and goddesses Kali and Shakti, Medusa, Egyptian Isis and Osiris, and the Hawaiian goddess Pele. It rules the regenerative processes of birth, death, and rebirth. It comprises a depth that can be all consuming, intense, and sometimes overwhelming. It is the embodiment of the primordial; it is purifying and cleansing.
In the psyche Pluto activates the shadow—that part of the mind that remains unconscious until it is discovered, revealed, uncovered. The nature of shadow work is, inherently, transformative work. One cannot be graced by the presence of Pluto and remain unchanged, just as one cannot remain unchanged when elements or dynamics of the shadow become conscious.
Dynamics that play out in an unconscious Plutonian way include addictions, abuses of power, repression, ruthlessness, and fear-based reactions. It’s no surprise, then, that its energetic patterns parallel the physical characteristics. The sun doesn’t shine on Pluto at all because it’s so far away from the solar giant.
The amazing thing about Pluto, however, is that it (along with Uranus and Neptune) orbits so slowly that its effects are generational. That is, these dynamics affect the entire generation as a collective. We experience these changes not only as individuals, but also as a group, a community, together. And, despite its small size, everything that has contact with Pluto shifts in a BIG way.
Pluto heralds transformation by first granting the process of initiation. “What you resist persists” may have its roots in Plutonian dynamics. This initiation is the catalyst of the process that mystics call “the dark night of the soul.” Although the descent appears to be a downward spiral, perhaps (the ego fears) never ending, like a black hole from which we won’t return, the soul knows better. The initiation by Pluto, inherent, too, in the grand cross in which we are currently experiencing, has gifts to bear. The opportunity to examine the depth of the psyche is immanent.
As philosopher E.M. Cioran once said: “The amount of chiaroscuro an idea harbors is the only index of its profundity.” That is, the amount of light we can perceive amongst the darkness (chiaroscuro) is itself a profound gift.
Image used in this post: Depiction of the Volcano Goddess Pele by Lindley Ashline.