I wrote this post about Pluto some time ago, as I was drafting Real Life Astrology: Planets Signs & Houses. Pluto – ‘The Lord of Darkness’ – is going to be increasingly relevant in the coming months, as it is due to ingress from Capricorn into Aquarius for much of 2024 (Jan 20th to September 1st) and will finally enter Aquarius for its long transit through that sign from November 19th 2024 to March 9th 2043. As it does so, it passes over the point of ‘The Great Conjunction‘. I’m not surprised that things feel so existential right now.
For those of you who have important planets and points in Aquarius, this may prove to be a momentous time – particularly as Pluto makes transiting conjunctions to those sensitive places in your natal chart. I’m going to confess to having some ‘skin in the game’ where this particular transit is concerned, as The Lord of Darkness will pass over my Midheaven. Regardless of how Pluto impacts on your life, there is one thing you can depend on: it will have an impact. So, if you want to know what you’re going to be dealing with, let this post refresh your memory.
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 from 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.
What is it we fear so much about the Lord of Darkness? Almost everything it seems. 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 preview below.
Extract from Planets, Signs & Houses: Pluto
The Greeks called Pluto ‘Hades’ and Hades represented not only the God of the underworld, but all of the multiple levels of his kingdom of Hell. The association of Pluto with death – and things that are too awful to contemplate – is a strong one. Pluto represents the things that no-one talks about. Sex, death, abuse and emotional trauma figure highly on the list of Plutonic taboos.
That list also includes crime, subversive behaviour and extreme wealth. This planet 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 both our existential fears and the provocations that bring out the worst in us. That can apply to our behaviour towards other people as well our treatment of ourselves. Pluto doesn’t care who he beats up as long as someone gets to suffer.
Once you’ve discovered that you are in a plutonic black hole, what can you do about it? You have two options: you can choose to stay there, or you can do something about it. The latter is, I’m afraid, easier said than done. Pluto’s black hole is the darkest of places, so, to shed some light on this, I want to talk you through the experiences associated with falling to the bottom of the pit.
You may have been in a situation that made you feel intensely and deeply wounded. It happens in those painful relationships where one partner manipulates or abuses the other. You may feel worthless and humiliated if your partner exposes your alleged ‘failures’ in public. You may feel pain beyond endurance if you discover your partner is betraying you. You may feel pain and jealousy beyond endurance at the thought of your partner engaging with other people – simply because your levels of trust are so low.
You 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 those words to describe abusive or dysfunctional relationships, as it’s in such emotive cauldrons that Pluto’s effects are cooked up to their most toxic levels. The truth is that the Lord of Darkness can blitz any other part 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 an example of Pluto in action. For example: we seek to control people (and events) in order to minimise our exposure to the horrors of the unknown. Pluto marks the limit of our personal ‘solar system’ (as well as in the actual solar system up above). It is the barrier we erect when we find ourselves in danger – but what do we perceive to be dangerous? There are 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. They are dangerous – no question about that.
However, other, less obvious dangers also exist. We may become complacent, or become arrogant. We may place ourselves above the laws of the universe (or the laws of mankind). What we are actually doing is asking Pluto to remind us that we are fallible and vulnerable. It’s a request that is never ignored. We may be subjected to crime, tragic accidents, life-threatening or life-changing illnesses or injury, bereavement or significant financial losses.
While you may contribute to your own ill-fortune – and Pluto manifests most readily wherever your most destructive tendencies are found – you may feel as though fate is punishing you for committing no crime at all. The crimes of past lives often seem to be unwelcome visitors to the present, thanks to Pluto. You 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. Plutonic fear enables us to sense those things that will do us irreparable harm.
Pluto represents irreversible change. 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 is over and a new phase in our life is ready to begin. If this sounds scary (and Pluto can be scary) it’s because Pluto’s methods are often more frightening than the changing reality you’re being asked to address.
It can be tough to adapt to new circumstances – especially where you’re being asked to start over. It’s daunting to leave everything behind, but that’s what Pluto asks you to do. However it’s not always a worst case scenario. Let’s think about the many possibilities where you would be called upon to draw a line and move on. At one extreme – and the Lord of Darkness 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 situation starts life again, in an alien country, with barely the clothes on their back. They are vulnerable to exploitation. They will have to call on every inner resource they possess to survive. That’s an extreme example, but consider this: adapting 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.
Many people choose to leave their old lives behind to start again. This can occur for a multitude of reasons – far too many to go into here – but the underlying principle is the same. You let go of old, unsatisfactory, worn out conditions and place your trust in something untried, untested and new. It happens every time you make a life changing decision – and not every life changing decision is extreme or painful.
Some people may encounter Pluto because they hope to ‘make their fortune’ or transform their lifestyle – emigration is an example of this. You voluntarily leave your homeland and your old life behind. Yet the change may not be as extreme as that. You may encounter Pluto when you make a career change – particularly if that change is driven by deep feelings or passion. You want a job that enables you to connect with life at a visceral, soul level, rather than mark time with the standard ‘nine-to-five’ experience.
Major life changing decisions like marriage, divorce and parenthood involve Pluto, because those decisions transform your life on a permanent basis. By making those choices, you learn to trust your feelings and your judgement – a very Plutonic process. Unfortunately, there will be people who are forced into life changing situations. They have change thrust upon them. They too, will need to dig deep and trust in what life may bring their way – though it may be an difficult or 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, it’s great. You feel empowered and in control of your life, and you don’t have to use or manipulate other people to sustain those feelings. When this planet is not working well, you feel as if you’re being tortured – though, in truth, you may be torturing yourself. If you find yourself in the torture chamber, what can you do about it? Remember the refugee making a 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.
You can’t avoid your fate (and I wouldn’t recommend trying) but remember this: Pluto’s role is to enable you to transform your life and turn disaster into triumph. Wear those scars with pride.
Real Life Astrology: Planets, Signs & Houses is available in digital and print formats from Amazon and other booksellers.
Real Life Astrology: Planets, Signs & Houses is also available as a .pdf download from this website.
© Sara Shipman – updated 2023