He is the black sheep of the family you don’t want near the punch bowl at the family reunion. Since his demotion to a dwarf planet, no doubt he is suffering from a Napoleon Complex at the Mount Olympus gathering.
No one likes a demotion. No one likes to eat a slice of humble pie. Certainly not the lord of the underworld who has shaped our path and lives over the last 85 years. Pluto has navigated the collective unconscious of humanity through some of the darkest and most troubling storms of the 20th century such as; Fascism, Communism, World War 1, World War 2, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, The Cold War, The Korean War, Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam, The Killing Fields of Cambodia, The Cuban Revolution, Rwandan Genocide, 9/11. All these historical turning points had Pluto’s fingerprints on them. The 20th century has been the bloodiest century since the beginning of recorded history resulting in over 160 million deaths. Definitely a Plutonian signature, if ever there was one.
Today, most astrologers would react quite negatively when quizzed about this planetary demotion. All astrologers are aware of Pluto’s power in the natal chart. He packs a punch wherever he sits in the chart. Without a doubt he has shaped the events of the last century as the slowest moving outer planet in our solar system. The International Astronomical Union did not consult with the astrological community about this demotion. For if they had they would have hesitated about assigning the dwarf planet label.
Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, and was originally considered the ninth planet from the Sun. His discovery coincided with some of the most destructive events of the 20th century. Famed cultural historian and astrologer Richard Tarnas observed the synchronistic events of planetary discoveries and planetary historical events in his literary masterpiece, Cosmos and Psyche.
“Recent astrological sources suggested that the historical period of the planets’ discovery was relevant to its archetypal meaning, reasoning that the discovery of the physical planet in some sense represented an emergence of the planet’s corresponding archetype in to conscious awareness of the collective psyche.”
So is this planetrary demotion unfair? After 1992, Pluto’s status as a planet fell into question following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt. In 2005, Eris, which is 27% more massive than Pluto, was discovered, which led the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term “planet” formally for the first time the following year. This definition excluded Pluto and reclassified it as a member of the new “dwarf planet” category. Some astronomers think that Pluto and the other dwarf planets should be considered planets.
I agree! Perhaps IAU did jump the gun. It usually takes years of not decades to assess a planets’ overall influence in the astrological community and the collective. Richard Tarnas is the first to acknowledge Uranus was pegged incorrectly back in 1781. According to Tarnas, the traits of Uranus are closer to the mythological hero, Prometheus than the paternalistic Uranus. Prometheus had the distinction of bringing fire to mankind against the wishes of Zeus and rebelling against the Olympian gods whose wrath he incurred by such a transgression. The traditional myth of Uranus was that of a tyrannical father who was overthrown by his own rebellious children because of his stubborn refusal to change. Certainly not the Uranus we know.
Pluto’s signature characteristics of death and mass destruction were felt immediately after his planetary christening on the eve of World War 2. This is very much in keeping with the mythological archetype of Hades. Tarnas agrees that the naming of this planet was spot on in Cosmos and Psyche.
“After much consideration among many alternatives, the new planet was named Pluto, god of the underworld. Observations of potential correlations with Pluto by astrologers in the subsequent decades suggested that the qualities associated with the new planet in fact bore a striking relevance to the mythological character of Pluto, the Greek Hades, and also the figure of Dionysus, with whom Hades-Pluto was closely associated by the Greeks.”
A demotion at this point is well… half-assed backwards!
July of this year we were treated to the first pictures of Pluto and it’s 5 moons, including Charon, courtesy of the New Horizons spacecraft from NASA, on the anniversary of it’s discovery 85 years ago. By all accounts, this dwarf planet is anything but asleep. It is brimming with life and geological activity. The latest pictures released show us the most detailed look at Pluto ever seen. Pluto has mountains made of ice that are as high as those in the Rockies. So much is unknown about Pluto’s icy atmospheric mysteries. Yet we feel his penetrating presence bubbling underneath the surface in our own lives.
We feel Pluto’s slight at his demotion even though his demotion is irrelevant because he continues to teach us and prod us along on our path of self-discovery wherever he falls in our natal chart. We invite this annihilating force into our lives because without it, we can‘t grow. Expansion can only happen where there is contraction. It is a universal law and principle.
It is like the legend of the phoenix rising from the ashes. This mysterious legend is always assigned to Pluto. The myth recounts the tale of how the phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. According to some sources, the phoenix dies in a show of flames and combustion. How would we as the collective view this past century without the bloody destructive plutonian forces that brought us to our knees?
Could we have embraced the solidarity of the ANC and the South African nation when Nelson Mandela was release from prison after 27 years or the passive resistance of Mahatma Gandhi as he led India into independence from the yoke of British rule? Could we have banded together and combed through the rubble in the aftermath of 9/11? Could we have witnessed Barack Obama becoming the first black president of the United States; when a 100 years earlier his nation was ripped asunder over the very question of his existence. These all fall neatly under Pluto’s realm; hatred, bigotry, fear, ignorance exist in the polarity of love, acceptance, resilience, equality and knowledge. He forces to us grow. He makes us look where we don’t want to look. That’s his quiet power. His demotion cannot diminish his unmistakeable influence.