With this aspect, Venus, the carrier of sensuality, pleasure, sociability, and artistic tastes meets Pluto, the great seat of evolutionary power and passion.
Venus – Pluto and Western Culture
In Western cultures, with its puritanical emphasis on thrift, hard work, and moral abstemiousness, the combination of Venus–the pleasure principle–and Pluto–the passionate, chthonic, darker side of nature–is often considered taboo and licentious, yet, strangely, the archetypal influence has an extraordinary power because it is often pushed into the recesses of the social unconscious.
As Western cultures have primarily received their legacy from Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian influences, the sensual, dark feminine represented by the Venus-Pluto combination is often cast in the role of social “other.” The Olympian deities of Greece were separated from realm of Hades, where themes of power, loss of innocence, death, and eroticism were to be found. With a greater degree of polarization, the Judeo-Christian tradition not only separated the chthonic power represented by Pluto and Venus from the god-like and heavenly, but unlike Greece which did not cast too much moral judgment on this realm, the Judeo-Christian tradition created a great ethical schism between the dark, erotic impulse symbolized by Venus and Pluto and paths of righteousness and salvation. What can be seen as something akin to cosmic irony, the greater degree of outspoken judgment and polarization with the realms represented by Venus and Pluto, often the greater “fall from grace.” Such is the now-familiar plotline of the religious fundamentalist rocked by a scandalous, erotic imbroglio.
Born with a Venus Pluto Aspect?
Individuals born with significant Venus-Pluto aspects not only resonate with the powerful, magnetic passions as symbolized by Venus-Pluto but must also contend with cultural inheritances as well, which can cause some degree of ambivalence and stress in the psyche, even if the planetary combination in the birth chart is considered harmonious or “soft.”
Venus-Uranus Aspects Contrasted with Venus-Pluto Aspects
For a visceral experience of differences between Venus-Pluto and Venus-Uranus aspects, look at the line-by-line comparisons in Table 1. Among the conjunctions, you have only to contrast the healing presence of self-help guru John Bradshaw (Venus-Pluto) with the enthusiastic cheerleading of weight-loss guru Richard Simmons (Venus-Uranus) to see that these are very different aspects. Under the squares, compare the sardonic eyebrow lift of a Jack Nicholson with the frantically-gyrating pelvis of an Elvis. Among the oppositions, match Celine Dion’s elegant, controlled stage presence with Brett Butler’s in-your-face delivery.
The DataBase’s lists of people with Venus-Pluto aspects were much less memorable than the Venus-Uranus crowd – I recognized only about a tenth. This could be because the Glitterati are in the business of glittering, while Venus-Pluto folks are far more private. On the whole, the Venus-Uranus people are wilder, quirkier, more over the top, yet much more fun. Not that Venus-Pluto types don’t have their appeal – we’re talking Antonio Banderas – but it is a different sort of appeal.
|Venus-Pluto Conjunction:||Venus-Uranus Conjunction:|
|Sarah, Duchess of York||Candice Bergen|
|John Bradshaw||Richard Simmons|
|Antonio Banderas||David Copperfield|
|Venus–Pluto Square:||Venus–Uranus Square:|
|Eleanor Roosevelt||Princess Diana|
|Jack Nicholson||Elvis Presley|
|Englebert Humperdinck||Artist Known as Prince|
|Venus–Pluto Opposition:||Venus–Uranus Opposition:|
|Celine Dion||Brett Butler|
|Robert Kennedy||Jesse Jackson|
|Chelsea Clinton||Grace Slick|
|Venus–Pluto Trine:||Venus–Uranus Trine:|
|Vanessa Redgrave||Lucille Ball|
|Evel Knievel||Henry Winkler|
|Richard and Pat Nixon||Ed Koch|
Matching Pluto with Venus – the Plot Thickens
One technique used in this series is mixing and matching key words and key concepts related to both planets in an aspect. Below is a start at matching Venus with Pluto:
|Venus Governs:||Pluto Insists On:|
|Whom or what is loved||Only those who can be trusted|
|How freely they love||Only if you’ve sworn in blood|
|How they express love||Passionately and privately|
|How they attract love||Make sure you need them|
|Their sense of beauty & style||Black leather, great muscle tone|
|Capacity to compromise||Absolute control|
As you can see, this is not a light-hearted combination – no strong aspect to Pluto really is, though we all have to integrate Pluto’s energies into our lives in some way. Pluto has much to do with power and control, with what is covert yet no less dominating. Plutonians are people with Pluto strong in their charts because of aspects to the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, or Midheaven, or a heavily-aspected Pluto, or multiple placements in Scorpio, or a strong 8th house. Not everyone with a Venus-Pluto aspect is a Plutonian, but they often fall in love with Plutonians and align themselves with the partner’s world view.
Common Themes of Venus-Pluto Aspects
As remarkable and delightful an advance as AstroDataBase represents for our field, we must not lose sight of one thing. Since it focuses on notables and how certain astrological factors work out in their lives, the effect of an aspect like Venus-Pluto is larger than life. Reading the delineations that follow, you should not conclude that your pretty young daughter with this aspect would become a First Lady. An aspect is but a piece of the whole, and what makes a person great – or newsworthy – is the totality.
Likewise, your own relationship patterns, or those of anyone whose chart you are analyzing, do not consist of a single Venus aspect. For a fuller picture, blend all the aspects to Venus with the state of the 5th, 7th, and 8th houses and their rulers. With these reservations in mind, however, we can still learn some Venus-Pluto patterns from the descriptions that follow.
“SMOKIN’!!” Just as one would imagine, there can be a great deal of passion generated by combining Venus with Pluto. (They don’t form aspects so much as cohabit!) Among those with the conjunction, for instance, are film heartthrob Antonio Banderas and singer Jose Feliciano, best known for his rendition of the smoldering hit, “Come on Baby, Light My Fire.”
“IT’S NOBODY’S BUSINESS IF I DO.” For many Venus-Uranus natives, blatant sexuality is more to shock or to make a political statement than something hormonal. Venus-Pluto natives may be even more sexually active than their Uranian counterparts – sometimes sexually compulsive – but these highly private folks consider it nobody else’s business. In fact, secrecy enhances the passion. Sexual intrigue, such as infidelity or the office affair, exerts a lure, the payoff being getting away with it or getting even with someone. They tend to feel more shame than remorse when the “dirty secret” leaks out, e.g., Bill Clinton with the sextile, Rev. Jimmy Swaggart and Woody Allen with the square. The women involved in these situations may have Venus-Pluto aspects, too – call girl Christine Keeler of the Profumo scandal had the opposition; Jim Bakker’s paramour, Jessica Hahn, had the conjunction. Still, some with hard aspects happily assert the “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell” tactic that was Clinton’s answer to the question of gays in the military.
“THE WORLD REVOLVES AROUND SEX AND MONEY.” We had an old reprobate professor at college who adored saying that to shock us. He probably had a Venus-Pluto aspect, not to mention a fairly good grip on politics. Political savvy combined with personal charm give these folks the capacity to hobnob with the movers and shakers.
In lists of people with such aspects, you find many who married well in order to do some dynasty building. Several recent First Ladies have it, and if more charts of First and Second Ladies and other political wives were available, we might find it a common one. Among them are Pat Nixon and Betty Ford (both with a trine) and Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton (the square). Today’s British Royals Elizabeth II, Charles, and Philip all have it, as does Sarah, Duchess of York.
Among the natives with this aspect are titans who use the lure of power and wealth to seduce those who find such qualities an aphrodisiac. These men seem to consider sex a perk of their position and may also be the type to sport a trophy wife. Some the tabloids would place in that category are Robert Kennedy and Howard Hughes, both with the opposition, Aristotle Onassis with the quincunx, and Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton with the sextile.
“IT’S YOU AND ME AGAINST THE WORLD.” Many Plutonians suffer from fear of betrayal and lack of trust due to childhood traumas and losses. They are often isolated, alienated, and consumed with shame, lest others discover the family secrets. When they find someone to trust, someone who seems to understand and accept them, the relationship becomes a bulwark against unbearable isolation. Thus they have a terror of being abandoned and will do anything to keep the object of their love. Plutonians don’t have relationships, they take hostages. If those with a Venus-Pluto aspect are not really Plutonian, they may nonetheless accept responsibility for making their Plutonian partner feel safe and loved, not an easy task when there has been serious wounding.
“MY LOVE WILL HEAL YOU.” The quasi-archetypal form of this belief was seen in the Superman movie where he turned the world backwards so time would reverse and he could save Lois Lane. (Some years ago I discovered a chart that works for the Man of Steel, based on the time of the first Superman radio program: February 12, 1940, 5:15 p.m., New York City.)
Rescuing can be seductive but, over the long haul, it leads to toxic codependency. It is very healing to be loved and accepted, yet this approach is hard to sustain in committed relationships – when people are healed in this manner, they tend to move on with their own lives. (The movie, “Prince of Tides,” is a perfect illustration.) Recall the Plutonian type’s fear of abandonment. If fixing the other is the foundation of the relationship, there may be unconscious sabotage of the healing in order to bind the loved one close. The “patient” can come to resent being in this unequal position, feel powerless, and strike out viciously to regain control.
A far healthier use of this aspect is as a heart-chakra prominent healer on a professional level. John Bradshaw, who did so much work on the Pluto problems of shame and guilt, has the conjunction in the 3rd house. Arthur Janov, who developed a technique called The Primal Scream, used his 3rd-house conjunction quite literally. Betty Ford’s dedication to helping people recover from addiction can be seen in her close trine between an exalted Venus in Pisces and Pluto in Cancer. Metaphysician Terry Cole-Whittaker has the quincunx, and her relationship problems have sometimes detracted from her ministry.
The following represents a far-from-complete inventory of typical expressions of the Pluto-Venus planetary pairing:
– There is often a need for intense and powerful aesthetic experiences with the combination. While some seek out art, music, and entertainments to tune out or to temporarily escape the burdens of reality; however, often possessors of Venus and Pluto aspects crave aesthetic experiences which promise ecstatic, almost ritual-like intensity. Rather than seek superficial delights, individuals with Pluto-Venus combinations feed off of or crave experiences that hyper-intensify life. Moreover, there is often seen with this combination a preference for art, music, and décor that deals with themes of eroticism, death, darkness, existential intensity and drama. With this combination, the closer an aesthetic experience comes to something like orgiastic intensity, the better.
– There can be intense ambivalence around platonic and romantic relationship with this combination. On the one hand, relationships are something like the lifeblood for individuals with this combination, and living without intense and deep bonding for this combination is like living without water. However, this combination can also instill some degree of hesitancy around relating, as sometimes individuals with this combination can be “deflowered”–both in a sexual sense but also in a more generalized way–quite early in life and relationships can be seen as somewhat territorial, wounding, painful, and highly dramatic. Often when a sense of trust or healing is established in relationship, an individual with a Pluto-Venus combination can allow their natural propensity for deep, soulful connection to unfurl.
– In heterosexual men, the anima figure tends to be darkened and more primal, as if there is an erotico-shamanic snake goddess from ancient Crete deeply embedded within the recesses of the unconscious for such individuals. The feminine is equally captivating and alluring as it is dangerous, taboo, and threatening.
– A need for frank, open, deep relationship; often a tendency toward disliking superficial relating.
– There can be a splitting seen in this combination where the possessor’s life has a surface persona which appears acceptable to themselves and others, and a second, underground, lifestyle in which compulsive and obsessive dynamics in relationship are allowed expression.
– In its less mature and less conscious manifestations, this combination can express itself in a certain insatiability, possessiveness, and control in relationship.
– Also to be found in less integrated forms of the pairing is a certain tendency toward self destruction in relationship. This type of dramatic demolition in relationship feeds a deep inner need for transformation and rebirth through the vehicle of relationship. Rather than chose to renew and transform themselves through the crucible of long-term relationship, the individual, consciously or unconsciously, seeks to align themselves with the transpersonal force of creation and destruction through annihilating relationships.
– For women with this combination, glamourizing items, cosmetics, adornments, fashion, and jewelry typically reflect some sort of quasi-magical, primitive power. Fashion for women with this combination can be symbolic of some sort of underworld, passionate power.
Celebrities With Venus – Pluto Aspect
The following examples elucidate some of the dynamics of the Venus-Pluto combination in well-known individuals. As the Venus-Pluto constellation can manifest in a variety of expressions, the below individuals only represent a fraction of ways in which the Venus-Pluto combination can shine forth in the individual. With non-judgmental awareness, one can simply see how a particular planetary combination manifests in and through the personality.
Bob Crane (July 13th 1928; Venus, Sun, Pluto triple conjunction)
Born with a Venus, Pluto, Sun triple conjunction, the star of the successful television series Hogan’s Heroes displayed many of the classic characteristics of a powerful Venus-Pluto combination.
On the surface, Crane appeared to radiate a wholesome and charismatic “family man” image, often appearing in such safe and tame productions as The Donna Reed Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Disney films.
However, as Crane represented a “rated PG” life on the surface, he had a notorious “rated X” life behind-the-scenes. In the late 1960’s, at approximately the time that transiting Pluto formed a sextile to his natal triple conjunction, Bob Crane, seemingly discontent with his conventional marriage, pursued an alternative lifestyle. At this time, Crane developed a fascination with the world of underground pornography, and wedded his interest in film production with his infatuation with initiating multiple sexual liaisons.
The film Auto Focus explores Crane’s alleged fascination with amateur pornography; however, like many biographical films, the accuracy and themes portrayed remain in dispute. Greg Kinnear, who possesses a Venus-Pluto square aspect in his natal chart, portrayed the role of Bob Crane in the biographical motion picture.
Brian De Palma (September 11, 1940; Venus Pluto conjunction)
If Pluto aspects represent something of an obsessive theme in our lives, then certainly Brian De Palma’s film career is testament to this assumption.
Beginning with Sisters and culminating in the present with the yet-to-be-released The Black Dahlia, the obvious leitmotif in all of De Palma’s work is the exploration of the dark feminine. Whether it be the presentation of the empowered, if not exploitive, femme fatale, or the woman in the clutch of overpowering terror, De Palma appears fixated on giving onscreen expression to his Venus-Pluto alignment.
Two notable motifs that consistently appear in De Palma’s filmmaking are often classic Venus-Pluto phenomena.
- One, De Palma consistently employs the usage of a split existence, either in the individual who has a dark, hidden half, through the use of doppelgangers that haunt his protagonists, or through an individual who is lured into a seedy, shadowy underworld.
- Two, De Palma repeatedly utilizes a vixen or black widow-type character, a woman who enmeshes innocent men into a web of intrigue, suspense, and mystery. In a recent interview, De Palma suggested, “I love these women who are sexy and lure you to your doom.”
Theda Bara (July 29, 1885; Venus square Pluto)
Although not well-known in contemporary times, Theda Bara was one the biggest stars of the silent era of film. Born with a Venus square to Pluto, Bara appeared to portray this archetypal confluence repeatedly onscreen.
Through movies such as Siren of Hell, The Vixen, and The She Devil, Bara popularized “The Vamp” character, a succubus who had the ability to entice men into the underworld. Bara’s streak of roles during World War One contrasted with the virginally pure characterizations of other silent stars, such as Lilian Gish and Mary Pickford.
However, her appeal partially stemmed from a growing collective desire to go beyond the Victorian mores inherited from the previous century. Bara certainly possessed an alluring charm, yet the extreme usage of kohl (a cosmetic used to ashen eyelids) and the creation of false biography by studio executives (she was said to be born in the “shadow of the Sphinx” although she was born in the more provincial, less exotic city of Cincinnati), added to the mystery of her aura which captivated fans of the era.
Elizabeth Taylor (February 27th, 1932; Venus square Pluto)
Taylor represents a good case study for a possessor of Venus-Pluto aspect simply because its expressions through her biography are rich and complex, if not somewhat contradictory.
Moreover, the public’s response to her career and personal life also represents some of the collective difficulty around the archetypal influence that Venus-Pluto aspects tend to represent. Taylor is respected as a screen legend but also as a very talented actress who is able to portray a certain degree of psychological depth. Few movie stars of her stature can claim such admiration.
However, her numerous marriages and the high profile scandals that surrounded them ultimately detracted from Taylor’s overall repute. When Taylor’s notorious affair with Richard Burton led to the demise of both actor’s marriages, the Vatican publicly denounced Taylor and Burton, referring to both as “moral vagrants.”
However, the real-life affair and ultimate marriage between Taylor and Burton gave substance to duo’s performances in one the best screen dramas concerning the dark side of long-term relationship, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Certainly, the hard aspect between Venus and Pluto made for extreme trials and tribulations in Taylor’s life, but it also can be seen as an invitation for depth, an entrance into soul-making through relationship.
Venus-Pluto Poster Couples – Some Cautionary Tales
One thing I’ve learned by observing people and their relationships through astrology is that birds of a feather flock together. We tend to be drawn to those whose Venus aspects are like our own, because they share a pattern of relating that we can connect with, as well as similar ways of expressing affection or esteem. We also share a sense of style and taste, a consensus about what is socially acceptable and what is not.
In no pairing is this more true than with the more toxic Venus-Pluto types, usually in combination with other difficult placements. Possibly too intense, too possessive, and too joined at the hip for others with lighter chart patterns, they tend to bond fiercely with other Plutonians. They will do anything and everything to keep the loved one nailed down, and to exclude the rest of the world. So much is riding on the relationship that any threat to it is painful indeed.
We will take a look at three well-known couples, each partner having a Venus-Pluto aspect. Our Poster Couples are Phil and Brynn Hartman, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
I would characterize the first and second of these couples as engaged in “flirting with the Shadow.” Among the love interests that those Venus-Pluto people may try to heal are the negative types of Plutonians. At its worst, Pluto can represent the Shadow and the Death Wish. We all share these negative facets of Pluto, along with the more positive ones of transformation and regeneration. However, Venus-Pluto natives who disown their shadow side may be lured into living it out through the Other.
Dabbling in danger can be sexy. Charts of women who go for mail romances with prison inmates might well contain Venus-Pluto aspects. Con artists and gold diggers – and the people they con – may have this aspect. When combined with other difficult placements, the possessive/obsessive pattern of the batterer/stalker is a highly Plutonian one.
Naturally, there are more positive ways of using the gifts that Pluto and Venus convey. However, if flirting with the Shadow is a chronic pattern, if you have to tame the tiger in order to feel both loved and powerful, then you may need help in overcoming a potentially dangerous trait. Watch your transits closely, for, at some point, the tiger may very well turn on you. Astrologers, when your Venus-Pluto clients are living out a pattern of this nature and transits are setting it off, tell them how serious it is. They may not listen (both Hartman’s had astrologers), but at least you have warned them.
Phil and Brynn Hartman made headlines when she shot him and then herself on May 28, 1998. Their charts are shown here. There is much to ponder in these charts, but I will confine myself to the striking Venus-Pluto themes. Phil had a close Venus-Pluto conjunction in Leo in the 7th, in the powerful Gauquelin sector, marking it as one of his dominant themes. The news reported that he had been getting ready to end the marriage, his third. A tad more “Plutonium” is added to the picture by the square to his Scorpio Mars. Transiting Chiron was on that Mars, square his Venus and Pluto, while transiting Uranus in Aquarius opposed his Pluto/Descendant midpoint.
Natally, Brynn had Pluto in Virgo close to the 12th-house cusp, opposite Venus in Pisces. Transiting Pluto had been setting off the Venus-Pluto opposition for a couple of years, part of her midlife crisis. Few Venus-Pluto natives go off the rails at midlife the way she did, though certainly their midlife requires reassessing relationships and mastering any associated lessons. A more likely culprit was stationary transiting Neptune’s conjunction to Brynn’s Aquarius Moon and transiting Saturn’s square to it, suggesting that the long struggle with addictive drugs had finally unhinged her. (Her tough t-square of Moon in Aquarius, Neptune in Scorpio, and Uranus in Leo showed the lure of drugs, sex, and wealth.)
Another Venus-Pluto pairing was Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, whose charts are also shown here. The scandal erupted in mid December 1991 when Allen’s affair with Farrow’s adopted daughter burst into the news, along with allegations that Allen sexually abused their young children.
You doubtlessly formed your own conclusions as to whether Allen’s actions constitute sexual abuse or true romantic love. Based on my years of work with incest survivors, his tight Mars-Pluto-Venus t-square with Mars in the 5th is not inconsistent with a more compulsive, sinister sexual pattern, especially as the Sun of the boy he was accused of molesting conjuncts that Mars.
Mia Farrow has Venus trine Pluto and must have sensed Allen’s troubled nature or might even have been drawn to it, but perhaps sincerely believed her love could heal him. It seldom works – one of the tragedies of Venus-Pluto aspects.
In the latest wave of Venus-Pluto Poster Couples are Bill and Hillary Clinton. Bill has Venus in Libra in the 1st sextile Pluto in Leo in the 11th, while Hillary has Venus in Scorpio in the 5th closely square Pluto in Leo in the 3rd.
By Donna Cunningham