Understanding Pluto in our charts is vital, as it represents the inherent power within us, the life and death transformative process. This can include obsessions, power struggles, willpower, destruction and regeneration. Not a subject to be taken lightly!
Pluto is the outermost planet and moves slowly – it takes 248 years to orbit the Sun – therefore the natal position and aspects it makes in a chart, indicate the areas of life that will undergo deep and lasting transformation, as it will only move through a section of the chart during a lifetime.
As it transits a house (an area of life), one can expect vast changes in that area. Pluto also spends a fair amount of each year in retrograde motion, meaning it appears to go backwards, so you can be sure that whatever it is highlighting is going to get a lot of attention as it ‘moves’ back and forth. As it aspects or is aspected by the faster moving personal planets, this can suddenly become very immediate and personal indeed.
It is the sheer scope of the energy that can be hard to handle, as life as we knew it falls to rubble beneath our feet and we are left to contemplate a totally new landscape. The theory is that as Pluto enters a house, it begins to bring deep transformation to that house and it’s issues and the first step is destruction of anything that needs it. There is often nothing subtle about what happens and as Robert Hand says in his invaluable book, Planets in Transit, it is important not to resist or try to prevent the energies of transformation as it is a part of our evolutionary growth.
The other point to remember is that there can be a ‘fear factor’. When the deep and dark is brought to the surface it can often be too uncomfortable or even seem impossible to face. The real truth is that we can face it – and look at “what is” straight in the eye. It is all too easy to imagine facts or events or emotions to be other than the sometimes harsh reality, but no lasting gain is going to happen that way, and any uncomfortable effects are not going to disappear until that is understood and fear is faced nose to nose! It is what we fear and run from that haunts us and brings pain.
A Pluto Story
One friend of mine has natal Pluto in Leo in the 10th house. This position indicates someone who has leadership potential, ambition and is likely to have transformative career changes that seem in hindsight to be completely new chapters. In his chart Aries rules the 6th house, Mars is in the 12th house in the sign of Libra, the Moon is in Cancer in 9th house and Scorpio rises on his Ascendant.
His career choices illustrate how he used this energy; Army supplies, a Greenie living off the land as a hermit, Prison officer and Manager of a chain of supermarkets – all service careers dealing with people (except the hermit phase which is another manifestation of 12th house planetary energy), within institutions and out of the public eye – and also a periodic complete metamorphosis of career direction.
About seven years ago transit Pluto entered the 2nd house and conjuncted his Sagittarius Sun. Such a contact from Pluto to a personal planet is pretty much guaranteed to turn your world upside-down in some way or another. The 2nd house issues of self-worth, personal finances and material resources were in the firing line. A sextile from natal Pluto to natal Jupiter in the 8th house – the opposite polarity to the 2nd – brought a channel for this to manifest. His very sense of self (Sun) and issues of power and it’s use were ‘called to account’.
For him it was the massive destruction possible via obsessive gambling. A corporate take-over (external forces beyond his control, very Plutonian) shook his world and began the cycle. Within a few short years he left his corporate job, had lost his beautiful house and gardens, and his marriage began the inevitable crumble. By the time transit Pluto completed an opposition to his natal Jupiter, it was all gone. No income or employment, no marriage, no material possessions, and self esteem that didn’t register on any scale.
What does one do when faced with such life events?
It can be argued that he brought it on himself by a gambling obsession and that is true. Yet obsession of any sort has overtones of both Scorpio and Pluto, it’s ruler. In his natal chart, the Sun is in Sagittarius. Jupiter is the ruler of Sagittarius and found in his 8th house of shared resources. Whatever happened was going to be very personal and cut very deep, as it did.
Gambling is a classic path of escape, like drugs or alcohol. Transiting Jupiter (often associated with gambling) was in Pisces in the 4th house of home, and natal Neptune, (often associated with escapism of various kinds) also the traditional ruler of Pisces, was being aspected in the 12thhouse at the time of the Pluto transit. Escapism, lies, secrets, self-undoing – all reflecting back to the 4th and 10th houses – home and career, and the obliteration of the existing structures within each.
Does one choose the path of our personal self-destruction and rebirth?
With Pluto, as with any planet – it depends greatly on attitudes and awareness. Do you take the high road or the low road? A Pluto transit of the 2nd house has the possibility of changing one’s entire perception of material possessions as well as the spiritual values and the deeper meaning of life. The latter is the province of the opposite polarity – the 8th house.
That is exactly what happened, so there is a happy ending to this story. Facing life in a squalid boarding house, on unemployment, without any physical possessions, a series of incidents brought home to my friend the really important things in life. They are the ones that you hold within you, the beliefs and values that sustain life through the darkest hours. He now has a home close to his parents, a job in the great Australian outdoors that fulfills his deepest Sagittarian needs, a renewed joy in the simple things in life, and a reconnection with his young daughter. And most important of all, the slow and sure renewal of faith in himself.
This is a pretty extreme example of a Pluto transit, yet it shows the potential for rebirth and transformation that is the true gift of this planetary energy. Remember that no matter what life presents us with, we have the ability to survive, to use our courage and awareness, and to enhance our survival and that of those we love, if we believe in ourselves and keep doing the best we can.
by Sue Thompson
- Planets in Transit: Life Cycles for Living by Robert Hand
- The Astrology of Fate by Liz Greene
- The Book of Pluto by Steven Forrest
- Pluto and the Evolutionary Journey of the Soul by J. W. Green