Forgive the frivolity, but perhaps this is less frivolous than we know. For a few years now, I’ve pondered a theory that Pluto’s sojourn in the signs is reflected in society’s horror tropes. This first occurred to me at the time of all those vampire shows and movies, like Twilight and the Vampire Diaries. I can’t say I found any of them particularly engaging, but it resonated with some clarity the thematic principles of Pluto in Libra: love, death, blood, eternal union, all of that Venusian melange, darkened and stripped back by Hadean impulses.
It’s frightening, yes, but not truly terrifying. Venus softens most anything that she comes to influence. The Lost Boys was perhaps the first major cultural foray into this genre. And then there was Buffy. The Venusian theme became gradually more refined. We signed off with Twilight, adored and reviled in equal measure, but there’s no denying the powerful Venus-Pluto subtext there. So there is fear but also desire and dangerous, obsessive love.
And so, next we had Pluto in Scorpio, and the Zombie craze began to shuffle shambolically into our collective consciousness. Double death, Pluto in Scorpio. Even dying won’t release you. These archetypes are not new of course, but Scorpio on Pluto was already highly accessible to those with Pluto in Leo and Sun in Scorpio (and to a lesser extent those with Pluto in Cancer and Moon in Scorpio). While George Romero is popularly credited with being the progenitor of the zombie concept, the first Zombie movie, “White Zombie” starred Bela Lugosi and was released on August 4th 1932, with Mars on the Aries Point at 0 Cancer. Saturn at 0 Aquarius trines the zombie prototype Orcus at 0 Gemini.
Both of these themes are easy to spot, so one is naturally drawn to consider what came before? What is the nightmare vision of Pluto in Virgo, or Leo? These are less distinct, perhaps because the refinement of special effects and horror genres was not as advanced as it is in contemporary culture. I’d posit contagion and epidemiology as the primary Hadean anxiety of the Pluto in Virgo generation. Robin Cook’s novels (such as Outbreak) gave a voice to those lurking terrors. Usually the underpinning protagonist of such scenarios was that of science gone mad. Even Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park (most of his novels in fact) relied heavily on this exact device. As Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm so presciently asked in the movie: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” So the irresponsible scientist, playing with the fundamental forces of nature and unleashing terror on the world was the Virgoan device.
For Pluto in Leo, the formula is not so clear cut. But in my view, Leo is the most religious of signs, so it might be fair to say that movies such as The Exorcist and The Omen can give us a clue. Leo is concerned with all aspects of worship, and via the Hadean conversion, we are drawn to contemplate no less an archetype than the devil himself!
So, what of today? This struck me right away as a new horror trope emerged over the summer as unmistakably the handiwork of Pluto in Sagittarius. The Killer Clown. It’s no great coincidence that a remake of Stephen King’s ‘It’ is in the pipeline, with Pennywise the Clown as the lurking Hadean terror. The incidence of clowns in the woods is pretty creepy (whether you identify much with Sagittarius or not), and dressing up as a psychotic clown seems to be a hands-on pastime, unlike many of the preceding styles of terrorising folks, maybe that’s because in Jupiter’s domain, it’s just good fun to get involved. Not so much fun for those being chased by deranged clowns though.
My feeling is that the coming Pluto in Capricorn trope will be considerably less colourful. It’s not easy to predict how it will look before it appears, but once it does, it’s safe to say, we’ll recognise it immediately.
It seems that while every generation has its particular specter of doom, we seek out these reflections of our own darkness even as we repress them. But why should this be, really? I’d say that it’s to do with the fact that what scares us, also fascinates us. Fear, anxiety and obsession are all closely linked by the tenets of Pluto. As an example, take a look at this woman who was so terrified of spiders that even having one in her bedroom would reduce her to tears. The best Pluto work can be achieved by facing and overcoming our anxieties after all. And what method of facing our archetypal demons could be safer than watching a horror movie? We get to go to work on our subterranean darkness without ever being in true jeopardy. And, for all the warnings from social commentators about the corruption of youth and the inherent dangers of horror and the macabre, that is probably quite healthy.