We need to talk about Pluto, but first I have a confession to make. Last month I published a post about Libra that I though would be the final extract form my forthcoming book, Planets, Signs & Houses. However, as the Scorpio season is upon us I felt it was time for one more extract – and rather than focus on the sign of Scorpio, I’m looking instead at the power behind the throne – Scorpio’s planetary ruler, Pluto – the God from Hell.
So, what is it we fear so much about the Lord of Darkness? Almost everything it seems, as Pluto is the force that confronts us with our own worst nightmares. In this extract, I set out some of the ways in which we encounter Pluto – and how when Pluto puts us to the test, we discover strengths we never knew we had.
*Update* Real Life Astrology: Planets, Signs & Houses is now available! Click here for the link to purchase or check out the embedded link with preview below.
Extract from Planets, Signs & Houses: Pluto
Welcome to Pluto. The Greeks called Pluto ‘Hades’ and Hades represented not only the God of the underworld, but all of the levels of his kingdom of Hell. The association of Pluto with death and things that are too awful to contemplate is, therefore, a strong one. Pluto in your natal chart represents the things that no-one is going to talk about in polite society. Sex, death, abuse and emotional trauma figure highly on the list of Plutonic taboos.
So do criminal activities, subversive behaviours and extreme wealth. Pluto often undermines us with seismic events that we cannot control or – more to the point – those events produce reactions in us that we find hard to control. Pluto represents our existential fears and the things that bring out the worst in us – and that can apply to how we behave towards other people as well as how we behave towards ourselves. Pluto, after all, doesn’t care who he beats up as long as someone gets to suffer.
Once you’ve realised that you are in a plutonic black hole, what can you do about it? Well, you can choose to stay there – or you can do something about it. However, that’s easier said than done. Pluto’s black hole is the darkest of places. To shed some light on this, I want to talk you through the kinds of things that may be experienced when you’re at the bottom of the pit.
Many of you may have been in a situation where you have felt intensely and deeply wounded. It happens in so-called ‘love’ relationships where one partner manipulates and abuses the other. You may feel worthless or humiliated if your partner exposes your alleged ‘failures’ in public. You may feel pain beyond endurance if you discover your partner is betraying you with someone else. You may feel pain and jealousy beyond endurance if you even consider that to be a possibility.
So, you seek to cling, control, demand or coerce your partner into certain types of behaviour that you hope will ease the gnawing suspicion that claws away at the pit of your stomach. I used examples of abusive or dysfunctional relationships, as it’s in such emotive cauldrons that Pluto’s effects are cooked up to their most toxic levels. Of course, the truth is that Pluto can blitz other parts of your life just as painfully. Obsession, compulsion and self-destruction are the hallmarks of Pluto and they can manifest in ways large and small.
Anything we do to control the world around us is Pluto in action. We seek to control people and events in order to minimise our exposure to the unknown. Pluto exists at the limits of our known and deeply personal ‘solar system’ (as well as in the actual one up above). As such, Pluto is both the place we fear to go – and the barrier we surround ourselves with when we find ourselves in (what we perceive as) danger. And what do we perceive to be dangerous? There are the obvious things, like swimming in shark infested waters, or walking down an unlit road in a crime-ridden neighbourhood, or getting too close to the edge of a volcano.
Sometimes, especially where we fail to exercise adequate control, or get too full of our own importance, or fail to understand that we are not exempt from the laws of the universe (or the laws of mankind) then Pluto may send us a cruel reminder. Pluto may visit us from the outside and subject us to crime, tragic accidents, life-threatening or life-changing illnesses or injury, bereavement or significant financial losses. Of course, while some of us may have contributed in part to our own ill-fortune – and Pluto manifests most readily wherever your most destructive tendencies are found – for many of us it will seem as though fate is punishing us for committing no crime at all.
Pluto represents the things in our lives that may feel like the end of the world. When this happens, we feel cursed. Everything you thought you knew, or you thought you possessed, is blown away. Yet, somehow, you survive. And that, critically, is what Pluto represents more than anything – the instinct to survive. We all need a little Plutonic fear to enable us to sniff out the things that will do us irreparable harm.
Pluto, therefore, represents irreversible change and when major changes come our way (and they’re not all harmful by the way) we need to accept that life as we know it may be over and a new phase in our life is ready to begin. This sounds heavy (and Pluto can be heavy) because Pluto’s methods are often more frightening than the changing reality you’re being asked to address. Again, it’s all down to our perception of changing reality and the mental barriers we have built to keep change at bay.
For many people it can be tough to adapt to new circumstances – especially if it means starting again. Leaving everything behind to start over is daunting, but that’s what Pluto asks you to do. However, let’s think about the many possibilities where you would be called upon to do that. At one extreme – and Pluto does extremes – think about refugees leaving a war-torn country. That is not only extreme, but it’s also plutonic in the extreme.
A person in that scenario starts life again, in an alien country, with barely the clothes they stand up in. They are open to criminal exploitation (also Pluto) and will have to call on every inner resource they have to make a new life (Pluto again). That’s an extreme example, but consider this. Having to adapt to radically changed circumstances, where you feel you have been ripped from your moorings, is the kind of thing Pluto brings to your natal chart. Fortunately, It’s not all bad – or as extreme as the example above.
Thankfully most of us are not refugees, but many people choose to leave their old lives behind to start again. This can be for many reasons – far too many to go into here – but the underlying Pluto principle is the same. You let go and leave behind old, unsatisfactory and worn out conditions and place your trust in something untried, untested and new. It happens every time you make a life changing decision.
Some people may encounter Pluto and emigrate, for example, often because they hope to ‘make their fortune’ or transform their lifestyle. Yet the change may not be so extreme. You may encounter Pluto when you make a career change – particularly if that change is driven by deep feelings of wanting to experience something that connects with you at a visceral, passionate, soul level, rather than the standard ‘nine-to-five’ experience.
Major life changing decisions like marriage (and divorce), or even becoming a parent, involve Pluto because such decisions mean your life is transformed. By making such choices, you learn to control your life by trusting your own feelings and your own judgement – a very Pluto process. Unfortunately, there will be people who have perhaps been forced into life changing situations. They have had change thrust upon them. They too, will need to dig deep and trust in what life may bring them – though it may be an undeniably painful process. The house position of Pluto in your natal chart will show where you are most likely to go through hell – and escape from it too.
When Pluto is working well, then it’s great. You feel empowered and in control of your life, without feeling that you have to use and manipulate other people in order to sustain those feelings. When Pluto is not working well, we feel as if we are being tortured – though, in truth, we often torture ourselves. So, if you find yourself in the chasm, what can you do to get out of it?
I mentioned earlier that Pluto can work well for you – though there is a tendency for Pluto to beat you into submission first. Remember the refugee making a stable and productive new life? Or the victim of abuse summoning up the courage to get out of a bad situation? Pluto enables you to dig deeply and discover a core strength that gets you through adversity and enables you to come out stronger on the other side.
Remember, you can’t avoid Pluto (and I wouldn’t recommend trying) as your natal chart contains all the planets – and they all have a role to play in your life. Pluto’s role is to enable you to transform your life and turn disaster into triumph. Wear those scars with pride.
© Sara Shipman 2021