When we read Shakespeare, as when we read the Greek myths we find a depth and richness of imagery that reflects the myriad personifications of astrological principles; all life is here, within these allegorical masterpieces. And beyond the character of Hades himself there is no undiluted personification of Pluto because that is an inhumane and therefore insupportable role, however the many Plutonic blends litter the pages of history and literature alike.
In the Merchant of Venice we find the character of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, who, is an uncomfortable blend of gravitas, resignation and miserliness, and who, caught up in a rivalry with the Christian merchant, Antonio, courts and realises utter ruin because he insists on the payment of his pound of flesh, which was the security for his loan to the bankrupt merchant. It is a marvellous portrayal of the danger with the Jupiter-Pluto blend. Fundamentally, pettiness is the principle which Pluto has supercharged and it is the expansive, generous nature of Jupiter which has collapsed in upon itself to become its antithesis.
We tend to think strangely in the contemplation of Jupiter and Saturn: as though they are polarities of a single principle, but Saturn is antithetic in essential qualities to Uranus and Neptune too. These two giants are not polarities by design and each has positive and negative expressions (skirting surreptitiously around the tendency to make value judgments as we go) without recourse or reference one to the other. What this means is that Jupiter has just as much power to go “wrong” as Saturn, but obviously, that wrongness isn’t so obviously uncomfortable from a subjective viewpoint as Saturn’s wrongness, so we can make the mistake of believing that Jupiter is either positive or neutral (when misfiring) and Saturn is either neutral (when operating positively) or negative. You only need to get on the wrong side of an unmanaged Jupiter-Pluto square to realise how deficient that perspective can be.
It is fascinating to read Saturn into the character of Shylock; he is after all, wise and venerable, but his character is entirely Jupiter, but Jupiter collapsed in upon itself, twisted by some Plutonic impulse for revenge. Where Jupiter ought to be magnanimous, it is instead petty; where he should have much to be grateful for, he is instead consumed by his grievances, and where he should be motivated by the highest good, he is instead fixated on the most negative outcomes (why else demand a pound of flesh as surety?)
A pound of flesh has become a coda for spiteful penalties and this delineates yet another dimension of Pluto; he ramps up the expression of whatever point he corresponds with and without the transition to personal integrity there is no guard against Plutonic compulsion which filters control, personal agenda and vendetta, power games, psychological cruelty and the desire for others’ humiliation through the lens of that planetary energy. With Jupiter the filter is in part civic: thus one of the compulsions comes through being a person ‘of good standing.’ With Jupiter alone, that is quite straightforward, because we are not compulsively driven to be of good standing so we do not contaminate Jupiter energy with our unconscious agendas and we can simply strive for self-improvement without needing to draw others in before controlling, humiliating and annihilating them.
This was Shylock’s journey, and Pluto, with his contempt for mortal ambition wants no winners, he’s happy if everyone loses, that is more grist for the Hadean mills after all. In his petty insistence that Antonio be humiliated and destroyed he only brought destruction and ruin upon himself, but even then: who could possibly have been exalted in that famous scene? Portia alludes to the antidote however:
You stand within his danger, do you not?
Ay, so he says.
Do you confess the bond?
Then must the Jew be merciful.
On what compulsion must I? tell me that.
The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
And here then is the antidote to Jupiter-Pluto problems: mercy. To be merciful is the exaltation of Jupiter. Jupiter – Pluto, sticking to the superficial appearances of the law, the letter of the law, demands (indignantly and with affronted bluster) that he cannot be forced into an attitude of mercy. He puffs up and pontificates his rights, but these are not inalienable rights, they are not moral rights, they are not even human rights, they are the rights of somebody who perceives that they have been wronged, so they have the right to vengeance.
Every word in the thesaurus of Jupiter is corrupted by Pluto. Shylock is superficial where Jupiter in his dignity should be deep. He is vengeful where he should be merciful, petty where he should be magnanimous, indignant where he should be tolerant and demanding where he should be conciliatory. And these are the compulsions therefore of Jupiter-Pluto. Pettiness, puffed-up self-importance, a lack of faith in others which might be best understood as ascribing the lowest motives to others, which is no more than a projection of the mean-spiritedness of Jupiter-Pluto itself.
Shylock is the caricature of this energy, he is grasping, mean, indignant and spiteful, and he abuses any power that is given him in his quest for revenge on those he feels have held him back and thwarted his ambitions. Jupiter-Pluto is ambitious, but not in the way of Saturn which craves authority, but rather in Jupiter’s vein, which craves the admiration of the pauper for all his glories. Thus wealth and status are the rungs on the ladder of power and control and this combination can make social climbers, arrant snobs and the type that prefers to look down his nose rather than straight in the eye.
But as with any Plutonic issue, the compulsion is simply behaviour that is designed specifically to mask the underlying Plutonic anxiety. This is the same as for Venus-Pluto which has anxiety about being loved and lovable, except with Jupiter, the anxiety is all about inferiority. In my experience, people with Jupiter-Pluto problems are terrified that people will find out about their humble roots, that they are actually quite poor or that their parents were lowly Welsh coal-miners, so they seek to assuage this anxiety by garnering status, and the trappings of wealth and success. Very often with the hard contacts there is some class anxiety and these people will garner various elements into their lives not because they want those things in and of themselves, but because they mask any hint of poverty, low-class or mediocrity which are, at root, the architects of the Plutonic anxiety driving the compulsion.
Fortunately the compulsion follows a highly recognisable pattern. As ever, the energy seeks to personify itself within people and situations, and Pluto in this instance attempts to polarise Jupiter-Pluto energy accordingly, so the native will set him or herself in the superior role whilst ascribing all sorts of degrading, lowly and humiliating characteristics to his or her opponent in order that they are cast in the inferior role. Jupiter – Pluto people are those types that seem to consider themselves to be ‘better’ in some manner that feels very uncomfortable to the target. Really though, when the Jupiter-Pluto opponent calls you ‘a loser’ (or a few hundred years ago ‘a peasant’) they are simply projecting their anxiety about their own inferiority. The next stage calls for a battle of resources. The native will attempt, by fair means or foul, to deny you resources – which is a tactic typical of all Plutonic contacts – while maximising their own. In the case of Moon-Pluto, the resources that are compulsively procured are more likely to have to do with security (which is why people with hard Moon-Pluto contacts often flirt with homelessness), but where Jupiter is concerned the resources are entirely status focused.
Saturn has this propensity too (as we shall see in our next article), and this is one area of note in this discussion because in many ways contacts between Jupiter or Saturn and Pluto are the hardest Plutonic connections to manage. Contacts with personal planets are felt with enormous urgency precisely because those planets are personal. The discomfort of Pluto is felt keenly within the human core. Contacts with outer planets are entirely transpersonal and are very difficult to actualise, hence they are not felt with anything like the same intensity. Jupiter and Saturn sit somewhere in between: they are close enough to evince truly unpleasant and Plutonic effects, but far enough away to not cause enough personal discomfort to grate. People can go for years compulsively projecting Pluto through these intermediaries without realising how entirely compulsive they are being. In a sense this has to do with the societal nature of Jupiter and Saturn, so the compulsion can be, if you like, masked with civic and status concerns. And let us be clear, they are both status-driven, albeit with markedly different flavours. Jupiter craves the status of wealth and celebrity, Saturn the status of authority and respect. They are the Lord and the Judge respectively. The former desires the grand home, the fast cars and the trophy wife (or husband), the latter desires a position of moral superiority, position and rank within the church, the community or the profession. So, crucially, whatever the precise flavour we can say of both these planets in contact with Pluto that there is status anxiety and therefore status compulsion.
I know people with Jupiter-Pluto contacts naturally, and they are usually the types that proclaim their desire to be millionaires before the age of 30, they will buy themsleves a Porsche (which they cannot afford), and dress their children in ‘brands’ because the reflection is then a balm for their status anxiety. By the same token, their expenditure on their children will usually be entirely dependent on how it reflects on them in the eyes of society. They will pay for music lessons (so that they can boast about their child’s musical prowess), but will feed them only the value line of foodstuffs, considering anything more a waste of money. Frequently these people invest all their resources in the trappings of wealth but are miserly in areas that are not ‘seen’ by others outside the intimate circle. So they will drive a Porsche and yet their home is filled with the cheapest yard-sale furniture. Their grand country home may be another accoutrement of status, but everyone inside sits shivering through the winter because the Jupiter-Pluto owner is too miserly to spend money on heating, since that isn’t an expenditure which can be appreciated by society at large.
The challenge for Jupiter – Pluto is clear because uncannily (or not), everyone with these contacts who does not manage to rein them in and transform Jupiter from grasping to generous, whining to magnanimous and superficial to deep eventually loses the whole lot. This is an aspect that forces one to lose even the shirt off one’s back if allowed to run too far. That is Pluto’s greatest trick of course, upping the ante until the stakes are life-threateningly high. Status-anxiety is the clue. If you want that car, that handbag, that diamond ring, then ask yourself why it matters. Once again, ask the Pluto question: can I just let this go? If not, why not?