Today I wanted to convey a basic tenet of Pluto, possibly the basic tenet of Pluto; that being the manner in which it is the root of all compulsion. We can understand this when we consider that the Lord Hades is hidden. Mythically, the stories tell us that he inhabited the Underworld – Tartarus – a terrifying and dread kingdom of the dead that was off-limits to mortals. On the two occasions that Pluto did emerge into the mortal realm, he wore a mask of invisibility so that he would not be seen. In this way, our Plutonic drives are designed to be hidden from ourselves, and we have a name for them, we call them compulsions. Children are by nature compulsive, they speak what is in their mind, even if it is not appropriate to speak up, but gradually they learn through social feedback to become aware of the effects of their compulsions on their environment.
But we assume – oh so very incorrectly – that when we become adults that we have nothing left to learn about compulsion. Learning to value another’s feelings in lieu of speaking our mind is only the most basic form of compulsion, and that is why most small children have begun to get it. Compulsion is a part of the human condition because Pluto is in the archetypal map of the human soul. Z’Ev Ben Shimon Halevi said:
[Pluto] was God of the Underworld – or to put it in Christian terms the Outer Darkness – in an astronomical sense roughly Pluto’s remote position in the solar system. Moreover he had a famous cap of invisibility. This could be read in two ways: that he was monarch of the dead, of those that have passed out of our dimension of sight; or that his processes are so slow that one lifetime is not enough to observe its full cycle. Pluto is the king of death, the planet of the most profound transformation man can physically witness. This event comes and goes, nothing can prevent it; suddenly a being who has been a piece of human furniture in a society or family has vanished, disappeared into another world, the realm of shades. Hades’ Gate may indeed be knowledge, for it is said that on death, everything learnt is reviewed as the past life is rapidly uncoiled in an ecstatic flash of every pleasure, pain, ignorance and understanding lived. Here at the invisible door, the experience and the essence of a man is further distilled, the limiting ego evaporated forever in the void of the divine father and mother, before the final union with the Creator.
Seen in this context, Pluto marks time beyond the scope of mortal self-awareness, or ego-consciousness. True self-awareness, whilst it is not a binary state of on/off, self-aware/compulsive, is certainly a state which has to be acknowledged as a prerequisite for spiritual growth. Once we become awake to the possibility of non-childish compulsion then we have switched onto a new level of operation because the truth is that every human alive who has not realised satori is compulsive, and within that spectrum, they are either aware that they are involved in a lifelong process of unmasking Pluto, or they are simply his unwitting puppet. No other relationship can exist.
Fortunately, we have the remarkable insight of astrology to provide us with an objective litmus test of our Plutonic styles. Indeed, every radix point that is connected with Pluto, regardless of aspect type, is subject to expressing the Plutonic, and of course, because Pluto is invisible, we are not awake to that expression. We can use astrology to delineate the probable nature of that manifestation, but even when told outright, we can be in denial, or become profoundly angry, upset or damaging in response, many of us are simply not ready to unmask the Pluto in our lives, even if living with him leads us into despair and ruin! And frequently this is exactly the result.
The rules of Pluto are indeed extremely simple, whichever point is connected to Pluto evinces compulsion and control thus:
Sun: A compulsive drive to be important, the centre of attention, in charge, admired and appreciated.
Moon: Compulsions manifest instinctively in moods, controlling the environment, in relation to possessions and especially food and sustenance. Moon-Pluto contacts frequently manifest as eating disorders.
Mercury: An inability to take what is said at face value, distrust, interrogation, suspicion and spite, cutting remarks, sarcasm etc.
Venus: A compulsion about appearance and attractiveness (in women) and a tendency toward ice-cold emotional withdrawals in men, both directed toward control of others (and frequently the opposite sex!)
And so forth.
In every case, the compulsion is directed toward control needs. But this does not mean that Pluto is all bad, this is the compulsive face of Pluto, but once unmasked, the reward facet of Pluto (whose etymological root is plouton: wealth) becomes extant thus:
Sun: Honourable, lordly, generous, a born leader able to command respect without effort.
Moon: A person of deep inner peace, who feels safe and secure in every place, who puts others at ease without effort.
Mercury: A mind of penetrating insight, one who can see easily into the heart of every matter and into the hearts of other people.
Venus: One with a deep and profound love connection based upon trust, intimacy and openness in their closest relationships.
And so forth!
There is no question of course that the compulsion and reward dynamic is most easily apprehended in connections with personal planets. Indeed, these are the points that become the most obvious candidates for ‘issues’ and thus they are within the ‘childish’ spectrum of compulsions. Allow me to explain with an example.
My youngest stepson Bertie has Pluto conjunct Ascendant. In fact his next oldest brother has the same energy, but Bertie’s Pluto is considerably closer to the Ascendant. He is a jovial, positive and forceful character because with Pluto in Sagittarius, Jupiter’s rulerships provides this flavour however, he is renowned for his propensity for shouting. When I first met him I was actually quite shocked at how persistently loud he was, and no matter what approach one took, there seemed to be no way at all to moderate either the volume or the frequency of his pronouncements. All day long, the only thing you could hear was Bertie, giving forth at astounding decibel levels for a 2-year-old.
Now if we understand the Ascendant to describe the manner in which one interacts in the immediate environment and too, the interpersonal style then we can see that there is compulsion about interacting in a Jupiter style, big, loud, and, well… big and loud! Fortunately, three years of relaying the mantra “stop shouting Bertie” is beginning to take its toll on his compulsion and he is slowly becoming aware of his compulsion and transforming it into something less destructive.
So what do we learn from this? We see that – since all Plutonic compulsion is control focused, it manifests out of anxiety about being out of control. Bertie, by dint of having 3 older brothers who don’t really listen to him, has anxiety about being seen and heard. He’s also extremely big for his age and frequently has flushed cheeks, a symptom of thyroid activity which itself intimates a theme: if I’m big, I’ll be harder to ignore. Bertie is anxious about being ignored so he manifests control behaviour (shouting) to placate his anxiety. If he shouts loud enough and often enough eventually somebody will take note. The reward will eventually manifest, once he has mastered the compulsion, in the form of a very intent and jolly demeanour which will automatically command attention. He is already getting this because he can be quite charming and bright which has this exact effect.
Now because the energy is involved with the Ascendant, it is a low-scale energy, and he will have it mastered soon enough. School will fix the last vestiges of that problem eventually. If it were another personal point then it might infect his energy signature for many years to one degree or another. Many people do deal with intermediate scale energies around midlife, or they at least begin to. I know a great many people who do almost no Pluto work of course, but they usually end up manifesting that compulsion into the lowest vibrational state: heart or spinal problems (for Pluto in Leo), digestive and eliminative issues (for Pluto in Virgo and Libra) and so forth. Illness frequently results from unmanaged compulsions. One of the key insights is that if you are ill then Pluto is likely involved. Because astrology is a metaphysical language, you can easily diagnose the source of your problems which, when looked at from this perspective, are what you might more accurately term ‘anxiety-promulgated control needs’. If you have heart problems then you are too fixated on being important, in charge, admired and being superior, your question is am I good enough?. If you have digestive issues, stomach problems (ulcers, heartburn, indigestion), breast cancers, womb problems, then you are anxious about lunar issues, you will have a deep insecurity related to a lack of nurturing or support and your question is am I safe?. Bowel problems, IBS, constipation, cramps, gas and so forth are related to anxiety about communication, about being lied to, cheated, and fundamentally these are control needs based around trust and you might well ask can I trust you?. If you have issues with the renal system, kidneys, bladder or the skin (such as eczema, hives, scleroderma, dermatitis, dandruff, acne, psoriasis) then you are struggling with anxiety about intimacy and love. This is connected to self-worth anxiety, or put more directly: am I lovable?
So, if you have heart problems and you were born between 1937 and 1958, it is likely that you’ve never dealt with your anxiety about being good enough. Most probably that came about because one or other of your parents transmitted the unconscious message that you didn’t measure up. The compulsion could manifest as haughtiness, arrogance, pomposity, a need to be admired, wealthy, adored, obeyed and to be the centre of attention, but it is all the same problem, there is a deep self-worth compulsion which has never been faced, so it has just run the show for so long unchallenged that eventually it has manifested physically into the heart.
Similarly, if you were born between 1956 and 1972 and you have digestive problems, then the chances are that you have trust issues which you haven’t faced up to. Of course, many of these issues will not manifest until after the Uranus half-return in serious ways, so this generation has some time, but of course, IBS is the archetypal Pluto in Virgo affliction, and it is the precursor to more serious problems later if the trust and communication problem associated with it is not dealt with.
So, these are the usual suspects of Plutonic energy, which are quite mundane and explicable.
Taken to a different level entirely, we see that through the ongoing pressure of compulsion we are presented with an opportunity to connect with a divine perspective. Unmasking Pluto is seeing the self through the eyes of God, without artifice, with awareness of what is in the heart. It can take a lifetime to fail in this simple but terrifying task. Ask yourself, why are you trying to control this thing, why can’t you just let it go? If you can even ask that question then you have started the most important work of your life.
And if you are not ready to ask it, perhaps it does not matter. You will have another chance once you have crossed the threshold of Hades’ Gate.
Another life, another chance to grapple with invisibility…