The experience of dissolution cannot be our final resting place, for life is unceasing cycles of evolution; there is no final end point. The stillness of samadhi is just one moment on the wheel of time. For as the cyclic wheel continues to unfold, we eventually return to the moment where individual form emerges from the ocean of being, with the evolutionary task to individualize, to become a unique embodiment of eternal, archetypal spiritual qualities represented by the symbols of our birth charts.
To prepare us to use our faculties and to fulfill our destiny as individuals in a way that is in alignment with the cosmic order and collective needs, we are put through the tests of Pluto, which purify our intention, and our use of powers, faculties, and talents. Do we do so for the purpose of controlling, coercing, or injuring others, or with a clear motive to serve, heal, and respond to prevailing social conditions?
Pluto may manifest through lengthy processes of purification that remold our character and expose our imperfections. Pluto prepares us to become agents of the universal Spirit, able to wield our talents and capacities effectively, yet with a purity of intention that has been cleansed of malice selfishness, and injurious power drives.
Pluto is the infinite power to create or destroy. It strips us of all false motives, brings us to our knees humbled, and teaches us to act as instruments for a purpose that transcends our own will and desire. Pluto transforms us from persons dominated by the limited, ego-consciousness with its fears, selfish desires, and narrow vision, into transpersonal individuals (in Rudhyar’s terminology), self-consecrated agents of the divine intention. For this to occur, the impurities of our personalities must be exposed and uprooted. Often this comes about through seeing the worst qualities in human natureóthe mean-spiritedness, cruelty, hostility, resentment, and outright violence that we experience in ourselves and others. As Rudhyar once said, Pluto exorcises the dark ego-will, bringing about an irreversible change of our intention.
Pluto often manifests in the form of disturbing events that hit us with the force of dynamite. They outrage us, tear us apart. An earthquake in Mexico or Guatemala or Iran. The hurricane storm that leaves a wake of destruction. The sudden death of a relative or a beloved public figure. A murder spree where innocents are gunned down at random. The Unabomber or the Oklahoma City bombing. The victims of concentration camps or forced labor gulags. Betrayal by a colleague or loved one. The destruction of forests. Watching a friend suffer from cancer or AIDS or chronic fatigue. Being the victim of a robbery or mugging, or the target of racism or sexism. Child abuse. Spousal abuse. Violence against animals. All of these realities evoke outrage, disbelief that life can be so cruel. Every day we are faced with plutonian events and facts that shock us, shake us, make us feel sick at the violence in our midst. We reach out to meet the world with innocence and good intentions, yet we face so many things in this world that brutalize us and violate our right to live in safety and in peace.
Pluto often symbolizes tests of pain that shatter our neptunian innocence and idealism. Things are not as we think they ought to be. Pluto’s function is to widen the sphere of awareness, sometimes through shock therapy, a rude awakening, rather than a blissful, neptunian one. Pluto teaches us that sometimes our paths include encounters with what is most destructive of the beauty of life. Pluto makes the underworld visible to us, and it is viscerally felt as shattering, the visitation of the darkness. We are left to ask, Why did this happen? How can people be so destructive?
Under the influence of Pluto we may encounter someone who is filled with negativity or hatred. Or our own cruelty, malice, and destructiveness may be exposed. Only then can we begin to change. Only when we have seen the face of darkness can we become fully committed to the light. Only then do we begin to understand the need for refinement of our character. Pluto is the agent, and the symbol, of that purification and refinement of our personalities. Pluto’s crises reorient our hearts, teaching us to consecrate our faculties and resources to the service of life.
If Pluto represents the pain of loss, grief, or bereavement, it also represents the healing we gain by letting go, releasing the bitterness, anger, and cynicism that we carry. Sometimes these feelings need expression. Sometimes we need to invoke Neptune, widening our hearts to enfold with our compassion both those who have been hurt by senseless violence but also those who, lost in ignorance, perpetrate it against others.
Karen has Mars-Pluto in her 3rd house; when transiting Uranus opposed these planets a man moved into the apartment upstairs who is incredibly unfriendly, angry, and verbally abusive, a surly biker with an attitude. It would be easy for her to dislike him intensely. But Karen is a conscious person who practices meditation and studies astrology. She tries to relate to this man with compassion. She sees how he appeared in her life during a transit to her chart, her Mars-Pluto, so in some sense he represents a part of herself. Meher Baba once said that if you want to learn to love, start by loving those whom you think you cannot love. Whether we feel the force of dictatorial power wielded by a boss or government agency, or suffer cruel plutonian punishment by the seeming whims of fate, we need to face evil without becoming it. Our goal should be to walk through the snake pits of life without becoming a snake ourselves. We confront the negativity of the collective shadow, without succumbing to it.