Pluto: Enslavement or Self-Mastery, the Choice is Yours (Part 3)

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.

Jupiter – Pluto has status anxiety issues

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?

I do.

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?

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8 thoughts on “Pluto: Enslavement or Self-Mastery, the Choice is Yours (Part 3)

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  1. Terrific post as always! I thought of someone I know when you were describing the Jupiter-Pluto connection and looked up her chart. Of course! She has Jupiter opp Pluto. She even has a little Saturn Pluto aspect going on. She has always been SO concerned with status, belonging to the ‘right’ groups and associations, and she has to have a Mercedes and an Hermes bag, even though she has no aesthetic and she doesn’t really enjoy the items and certainly can’t afford them [although she finds ways to acquire them for little to no cost]. And she of course attracts and seeks out people who are similar and inevitably screw her over. She’s not a bad person, she’s incredibly bright and a very hard worker, but after losing her job in banking back in 2001 she has never seemed to catch a break and has struggled to have income ever since. I have always felt that this is primarily what has held her back. She also goes on an on about how no one has ever helped her, and keeps a literal list of who has screwed her and who she will seek revenge on when she [finally] has ‘money’ and ‘status’. I could go on an on, but suffice it to say that your description is so spot on!

    1. Oh, and one more thing: She will do people ‘favors’ [unasked], but she will hold it against them forever. Very manipulative in that way. [I try never to let her do me any favors.]

  2. Very interesting. And you say ‘contacts’, but surely there are significant differences between a Jupiter-Pluto conjunction, a square and an opposition?

    1. There are differences but they are mostly subjective.
      Having said this I don;t want you to think that this is a ‘portrait’ of Jupiter-Pluto dysfunction; it is simply a means of describing the energetic structure of the contact. It’s transformed expression is real depth, generosity, magnanimity and trust, but once one has realised those traits there is no compulsion. The “Shylock Syndrome” that is here delineated is designed to bring awareness to the compulsion.
      The compulsion itself is more likely to manifest with hard aspects, but even with ‘easy aspects’ there are likely to be unquestioned reactions to status, even if one tends to take the opposite view and look ‘down their nose’ at those who are especially status-driven!

      1. Thank you for the clarification, Jeremy. I asked because my brother (Jup conj Pluto) and I (Jup square Pluto) are just about as different, personality-wise, as it is possible for two brothers to be. One of our differences is that he is highly materialistic and fairly judgemental over people’s status, while I, as you suggest, tend to be rather critical of such superficiality. But curiously, we seem to be learning our astral lessons – he is starting to turn away from Mammon and is doing unpaid social work with children, while I seem to be on the verge of allowing myself to make considerable amounts of money.
        Best wishes, Michael

  3. Forgive me, but I am still thinking about your post – particularly as it relates to this woman I know. I have always known that her subconscious desires [for money and status] are precisely what hold her back from ever really achieving what she wants. And now I have an astrological ‘name’ for it.

    I have had certain opportunities in conversation to tell her somewhat frankly that she would be so much happier if she could let go of her insistence that the world has done her wrong [it hasn’t, she has done it to herself]; and that her life shouldn’t be on hold in just about every way until she acquires enough money or status. But, as you say with Pluto-Jupiter contacts [as well as with Saturn], they are the hardest to manage because they sit somewhere in between the personal and transpersonal. Everyone she meets can smell her compulsion on her, and her desperation, but she has no idea it is so obvious to others. She can grasp kind of what I say, but not really. She has been going along for so many years now with greater and greater bitterness and compulsion over money and status, kissing up to the same people who she says she hates because she believes that they will confer status and wealth to her someday. Which they won’t. There is a part of her that is very generous, but ultimately she can’t stop herself from demanding her ‘pound of flesh’.

  4. This is terrific Jeremy, really terrific. I’ve had a blind spot for a long time about Jupiter and Saturn contacts to Pluto and this is so enlightening.

    What’s particularly interesting is the subtle play of the themes with these transpersonal planets as you say – they seem to echo in the life, and draw others in whom the traits are much more obvious than in self, as opposed to Pluto’s contacts with the personal planets which are upfront and undeniable.

    I certainly recognise both sides of what you describe in myself. Thanks.

  5. I don`t have natal aspect between Pluto and Jupiter, but transiting Jupiter opposes my natal Pluto.

    Natal Pluto is at the end of 9th house and in conjunction to Midheaven (both in Scorpio).
    Natal Jupiter(Leo) is in 7th house and both of them are retrograde, but there is no aspect between them. Natal Saturn (in Aquarius) is close to my Ascendant and NN in Capricorn.
    And that Jupiter, oh he rules my natal 11th house of longterm goals, wishes and social awareness.
    Those two are in opposition.

    I have never thought about my social status, money or anything material.

    For me, money is important only for the long trip that I plan to go (Africa) and for my college (anthropology and archeology). They are important, so the money is necessary and I have to earn it by myself ( don`t want my path depends on others, probably a matter of Pluto). Neptune rules my 2nd house and in 12th.

    But, whole life I’ve been thinking (a bit obsessive) about my path, role, responsability and impact on life and world in general (Pluto Mc) and not in glittering, shiny way.

    I don`t want to be on top of the world. I want to be at the bottom of the world, where “Hades lives”.
    Where is hunger, pain, illnes, ignorance, death and crisis, that is where I want to have an impact on.
    I go to Africa as a missionary to help people at the bottom.
    I can`t change whole world nor Africa, but one human means one world.
    (“want”= plutonic word, and it is dangerous one)

    On the other hand, I don`t feel altruistic, sacrificial or kind at all. I don`t feel spiritual, broad or cheerful. What I want triggers my greatest fears. I’ve always been aware of evil, as well as things that happen behind the scenes of the world. But now… I`m not only aware, I`ll face with it.
    I am afraid of myself and of what I`ve always wanted but I have to do this (it touches the core of my being). Probably due to the opposition between Pluto and tr Jupiter, because I have never felt this way about it (and I`m thinking about Africa since I was a kid). I am not happy, in fact feel like I do not even supposed to be. I don`t even feel sad in a pity way, but I feel somehow dark and silent lately. I don`t want to talk with anyone about my decision, at least not in negotiating way, but if I don`t find some release of this energy, my head will implode. I wish I could find a healthy and constructive way to release it. Most of all, don`t want to lose the true meaning and purpose in my aspiration.

    Natal Pluto trines Chiron (in Cancer, end of 6th house, conjunct Descedant) so maybe it also triggers my own wounds.

    Besides that, tr Saturn enters my 9th house, and tr Pluto is already in 12th (conjuncts natal Uranus and Neptune there). Neptune and Chiron are transiting over my Pisces Sun and Mercury (oppose my Moon in Virgo). Uranus transit conjunct my natal Venus in Aries( Venus also rules 4th and 9th house). Not easy at all, my whole lifestyle changed.

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