Astrologers will often laugh at the controversy surrounding how Pluto was demoted as a planet. It captures the 'hide and seek' and 'chip on the shoulder' behavior of this planetary powerhouse. Threaten someone's power and they can resort to passive aggressive or manipulative behavior to get the power back. All of this is Pluto's domain.
The subterranean symbolism behind this underworld archetype will continue to pack a punch regardless of how we argue over where it stands in the pecking order.
Is it there or not? Just how powerful is it? Like the Shadow, when power is not given natural expression, an unacknowledged inferiority complex can wreak havoc through our projections. We experience it as power struggles with others. So while Pluto may have been demoted, the planet hasn't missed a beat in orchestrating power plays and drama.
While the individual believes the charged situations they encounter have nothing to do with them, everywhere they go, there they are. Our buried authenticity will seek its own release. This is why the Shadow both attracts and repels when we observe it in the outer world. Until we own it - life will be experienced as repetitive projections.
We become defensive when we have an unconscious sense of deficiency. In this way, Pluto can act like a chip on our shoulder. The drama surrounding its demotion from being a planet has zero influence on its efficacy.
Our knowledge of astrology is not based on the actual rocks spinning through our solar system anyway. Astrology is based on the mythology and stories we came to associate with the planets. We think astrology emerged from the Greeks, but it goes back to the Babylonians. In my book Decoding the Night Sky, I refer to much older glyphs found in Ratnigiri and Gobekli Tepe that date back to 10,000 BC to pre-literate cultures.
Pluto's story is an old one. Whether as the feathered serpent or the healing snake of the Fertile Crescent, this underworld archetype brings about healing and empowerment through transformation.
Dreaming projects the inner life through personal symbols, but everything in a dream is a representation of the individual. The lifepath story in a chart also centers the journey around the individual. I often begin with Pluto, because it will reveal a hemisphere emphasis, only traveling through a small portion of the chart over our entire life.
Arguing about Pluto is as silly as scientists arguing about a dream about fish. Does it mean we want to eat a fish, or is it a symbol of something stirring in the deep waters of an unseen world below? How did seeing the fish in the dream make us feel? That is most important, and it is doubtful that it made us feel hungry.
Like dreams, astrology is not based on the literal, it is symbolic. But the controversy continues. Pluto thrives on intrigue and prefers the hidden realms to the limelight anyway.
Fish in a dream is a good metaphor for understanding Pluto. It represents what is hidden below the surface and like Shadow work, digging below the surface will resurrect its gift. Astrologers have worked to understand Pluto in the chart and have come to appreciate its representation of instinctual power.
Astrology is based on the study of archetypes, and how or why the information comes to us is always fascinating. One of the most interesting archetypes for Pluto is Mickey Mouse's dog who appeared the same year Pluto was discovered.
While most cartoon animals are endowed with human clothes and speech, Pluto has always remained exactly what he is: a bloodhound. Pluto sniffs out the way we bury our authenticity to be accepted. The archetype of Pluto too, is instinctually driven to search out and resurrect what is hidden below the surface.
The dog's first appearance with the likeable mouse was when Mickey was on a chain gang in what seems like a darker episode for both Disney and the Mouse: Pluto's domain.
Mickey throws the weight of his ball and chain on a see saw, catapulting himself over the wall to escape. Pluto too, taps the power of our wound to resurrect personal power on a path toward freedom.
The Shadow resembles the ball and chain we carry around unwittingly. Mickey's ball and chain interferes with his path forward, perfectly capturing the essence of the Shadow. The more we deny or push away the Shadow, the more it remains hidden and stalks us through our projections and interactions with others.
Pluto is raw and focused only on truth, forcing us to get up close and personal with our fears.
This underworld deity, lurking deep below the surface, is like an earthquake. It has enormous power to bring the entire structure crumbling down around us. The archetypal influence of Pluto is potent.
Pluto relates to how the Shadow appears in nightmares, and can seem frightening, but nightmares are actually a positive sign that power is being resurrected in the psyche.
Pluto is the energy of empowerment, transforming the Shadow qualities we project onto others because we do not own and tap these characteristics within ourselves. The charged situations we face in life will always teach us about ourselves.
Its placement within a chart gives us a snapshot of what quadrant of the chart will be activated as the life path for the individual. Pluto comes last in the organization of planets, but it is really the beginning.
Pluto in a chart sets the stage for the evolutionary journey that will span no more than four of five houses during one's life. Therefore, astrologers often use Pluto as a starting point in understanding the life story of the chart.
As an evolutionary astrologer, I explore the position of Pluto as the life path and incorporate Neptune as the spiritual focus. Uranus defines the authentic thrust of the individual, while Saturn and the nodes describe what the individual is here to learn and adopt as the karmic journey.
Jupiter shows where one can most easily grow and expand, Venus shows how one relates via the right brain, while Mercury shows the approach of the logical, left brain. The sun will focus on consciousness and ego, while the moon will portray the subconscious and one's subterranean needs.
Traveling backwards through the planets in this way, we can see how Pluto has more to reveal about the life path than the simply the Sun or other planets.
Pluto in Aries and the First House
Pluto in Aries and the First House describes an evolutionary path focused on the power of will and how it will come up against the universal will. The individual will explore the boundaries of power against how life can sometimes say "no."
They may demonstrate empowerment as an entrepreneur and possess the charisma to lead others. Early in life, the identity can be challenged where one must learn to stand up for themselves.
The native will make a powerful impression on others and may even appear intimidating. They can come to see life as a battlefield, a testing of wills or to prove their power because of an inferior complex.
During their life, their path will include transformational opportunities that involve learning the difference between what can and cannot be controlled or changed in life. They may experience poverty or issues related to resources in their school years and rise to accomplish many things as they build a solid foundation for themselves.
This placement suggests a bootstrap approach to success, where challenges become opportunities to prove one's sense of personal power. Pluto is teaching the First House individual the limits of what one can accomplish. The problem is that the native can come to have a chip on their shoulder, feeling like everything is a challenge, rather than settling comfortably into all that they have created.
The word 'no' can generate an explosive reaction when the universe may be closing one door to lead them onto a more appropriate path. In midlife, issues related to brothers and sisters can be challenging and in later years, they may avoid settling into retirement.
The First House Pluto individual will need to focus on the importance of others to understand that life is not a solo journey. This is a very egocentric placement for Pluto and will emphasize how one must learn to adopt the perspective of others beyond just ego needs.
The testing of will power may actually lead them to appreciate the universal will that is focused on balance and an interconnected flow. An appreciation for Wu Wei or 'not doing' might be a foreign idea, but allows them to relax into the flow of events with the knowledge that everything is unfolding perfectly.
One has no need to fight their way into a universe that knows they are coming and has prepared a place for them.
Pluto in Taurus and the Second House
Pluto in Taurus and the Second House will focus the evolutionary path on the gathering of resources and what possessions or the pursuit of wealth means to self esteem. This placement can describe an uncanny instinct in making money, but the individual can be driven by a fear of poverty.
Whether or not they ever experienced poverty in early life, their Shadow seems connected to whether or not they are worthy and their sense of self esteem. A fear of not being able to take care of themselves can create enormous focus on saving for a rainy day. No amount of resource gathering seems enough.
The Second House Pluto individual can become a workaholic because of the drive to amass wealth. The individual will experience evolutionary lessons that challenge the idea of self worth in a way that leads the individual to understand how to balance a sense of fulfillment.
Burning the candle at both ends can lead to burn out and it is important that they take time off from work to appreciate the more simple gifts of life.
As a student, they can be headstrong and learn in their own unique way, which can be a challenge for teachers. Later, their home life will need to accommodate their desire to rule the roost. They may feel that their aspirations are more important than their partner's which can present a challenge.
In mid life, the individual can be recognized for their creative genius and accomplishment. This placement of Pluto emphasizes the needs of the individual and they may need to learn how to incorporate the needs of others.
The Second House Pluto individual can achieve greater fulfillment once they work through any issues that relate to feeling worthy. Understanding their drive and its underlying motivation will help them find more peace and enjoyment in life.
Accomplishing goals allows one to increase self esteem, but when achievement is overdone, they forget the joy of accomplishment. The individual will come to appreciate how the universe designed them as a work of art, unique, complete and perfect in time.
Pluto in Gemini and the Third House
Pluto in Gemini and the Third House can describe an evolutionary path focused on how one interacts with others and how to employ one's thoughts and perspective in working with others.
The individual will have a propensity to question everything and apply their intuition and analytical skills in a way that makes them appear profound. Dynamics between brothers and sisters can be fraught with power struggles or rivalry.
The individual learns early in life how to apply imagination and the use of words to cut to the quick in any type of interaction. Their style of communication can be intimidating, decisive and not easily swayed.
As a Shadow placement, the native might behave in an opposite manner, questioning their own ideas and holding back in sharing what they are thinking or feeling. They can come to feel that others are always challenging their ideas and become defensive or dogmatic when interacting.
Believing in an adversary when there is no adversary allows Pluto to offer a healing perspective. The individual must come to recognize how our ideas shape what we experience.
They will have the opportunity to apply their ingenious approach and persuasive skills in their work. The challenge will be in learning to tone down the effect their words have on others.
In an artistic capacity, they will seek to challenge others into a new way of viewing experience. This placement can also describe work related to writing about empowerment or challenging the status quo's opinion.
The Third House Pluto individual will enjoy probing others through inquisitiveness and a desire to get to the truth in any conversation. In day to day interaction, they can be abrupt and appear cold. They may just as suddenly appear inquisitive and caring in a way that is profoundly intimate.
This is a powerful placement in the area of how one thinks and interacts. In later years, or once they become less defensive and opinionated in their thinking, they will be appreciated for the depth they bring to any type of exchange.
The universe can be teaching them to transcend a need to judge life in terms of black and white. The only absolute in life is that there are no absolutes.
Pluto in Cancer and the Fourth House
Pluto in Cancer and the Fourth House portrays an evolutionary journey focused on laying down roots and developing a sense of security. The Fourth House is related to the Mother and also the Nadir, which is our deepest connection to spirit.
The behavior of Mother or the early home life may have presented an environment where undercurrents and manipulation did not allow one to feel safe. A parent may have been overly controlling and the individual adopts these tendencies.
The intrigue Pluto suggest with a Fourth House placement can make the individual unable to plant roots early in life. Exploring the meaning of home will be emphasized for the Fourth House Pluto individual. They can be pronounced nurturers with an uncanny sense of what another needs, but find themselves unable to fill their own basic needs.
They may attempt to control everything around them and when unable, may focus the energy on controlling the body. This might be through exercise or eating and in a Shadow condition, might not be a healthy approach.
Anorexia or Bulimia emerge when one feels their life is out of control and so, they control what they can. They enact a strange accomplishment and reward cycle that is based on hiding and must learn that we are the guests here, not the host. We are meant to flow into life's abundance - not erect structures that block us from participating in it.
The Moon's connection to the Fourth House can show subconscious complexes or issues from childhood that would need to be resolved. The Fourth House Pluto individual can be extremely creative or talented as a child prodigy. The key to enduring success will be related to their willingness to understand the gifts their childhood awakened in them; not feeling limited by the challenges it presented.
Parents are not given instructions on parenting and have failings like anyone else. The early environment is meant to launch the individual into their life purpose.
The Shadow for the Fourth House Pluto individual will be learning to transform any feelings of being a victim. The universe is teaching them a lesson similar to how the most beautiful flowers grow from the compost and waste, as life renews itself. Nothing in nature is inherently bad.
The individual can share a deep form of intimacy and interaction when they transcend the need to control the outcome. Life is not a series of good and bad events, it is just so. Nothing happens in the universe without a reason and the individual will succeed when they come to express Grace in everything they see and do.
Grace is the essence of unconditional love and acceptance that one not only offers others, but offers to themselves.
Pluto in Leo and the Fifth House
Pluto in Leo and the Fifth House suggests and evolutionary path that relates to children, creativity, social interchanges and seeking accolades. The intensity of Pluto in the house that represents the development of personality can suggest child precociousness or talent emerging at a young age.
The native can be drawn to the spotlight or find themselves on a path that caters to the inner child. The passionate nature of this house can describe a lifelong lesson of learning to open the heart. They can be challenged by the idea of romance, either bringing allot of intensity to relationships or they are attracted to situations that seem to get deep rather quickly.
They may begin working at an early age or find themselves in a relationship with a partner who provides, but is controlling.
Pluto in the Fifth House is teaching the individual how to retain their individuality while exploring deeper intimacy with others. Their children can be intense or present challenges around the idea of control.
The Shadow for Pluto in the Fifth House relates to a willingness to transform and let go. Creativity can become a lifelong process of self discovery. Whether or not their art is 'accepted' will become a lesson about the purpose of expressing vision vs. toning it down or being forced to produce what the public wants.
The individual can tap enormous creative vision and find work that allows them to express their passion. The path may involve periods of an identity crisis, but the individual will discover that there is a part of them that is unchanging as they travel through the vicissitudes of life.
Pluto in Virgo and the Sixth House
Pluto and Virgo in the Sixth House portray an evolutionary path of exploring work and service, and the type of meaning it brings to one's life. The work environment can present many challenges and opportunities for transformation. Control dynamics and power plays can lead the individual to become self-employed.
The native may find that the routine seeking nature of Pluto in the Sixth House leads to addictions, a lack of diversity in the diet, or is applied through exercise. They can easily establish a routine that encompasses early morning exercise, hard work and even master several different jobs at once.
They can burn the midnight oil to accomplish monumental tasks quite easily. This is a highly focused placement for Pluto and the individual will bring alot of intensity to the work place.
The Shadow of Pluto in the Sixth House involves intrigue in the work place. They may change jobs because of sexual harassment or for other reasons that involve inappropriate exchanges. This placement can show work that involves investigation, or something done in solitude that requires intense analytical skills.
Work can be secretive or relate to the deeper aspects of the human journey, such as empowerment, psychology or astrology. They may become personal trainers because of their appreciation for wellness. However, they may also experience periods of illness that will have no physical basis, and may need to investigate its psychological cause. Illness can become the reason they make major changes in their life.
They are learning the value and limitations that service puts on the individual and may leave jobs to completely transform their life, spending time abroad and even building a life in a foreign country later in life.
Their career or desire to achieve something important in life can involve sacrifice, which will impel them to work even harder. It is important that the Pluto in the Sixth House individual finds meaningful work and discovers enjoyment from the idea of serving others.
Pluto in Libra and the Seventh House
Pluto in Libra in the Seventh House will embark on a journey of transformation that involves relationships and what part the individual plays within a group. Partnerships will become the catalyst for transformation where the idea of dependence, independence and interdependency will be explored.
Power struggles in relationships and obsessions with the ideal partner can either draw them into intense relationships or lead them to avoid relationships altogether. They can project qualities on the partner that aren't real. Owning the qualities which lead to infatuation with another will reveal alot about their hidden gifts.
The native can be attracted to intense and controlling partners or find themselves in relationships where control is a major issue. They can fluctuate between periods of seeking harmony and the need for rebellion.
Pluto in the Seventh House is teaching the individual about balancing authentic expression, while integrating the influences of others. The Shadow will revolve around projecting perceived deficiencies on the world around them. It will become important that the individual feels empowered and has the opportunity to achieve in their own right.
They will learn the importance of how goals and accomplishment increases self esteem. In early life, they may rely too heavily on the opinion of others and open themselves to manipulation or the undercurrents of how rebellion gives them a voice. The challenge will be to not allow situations to reach that point.
By finding a careful balance between establishing individual needs with the needs of others, the native can manage relationships through grace and diplomacy. Eventually they will discover that learning about themselves through others can be enlightening because they are owning their own projections and fears.
Rather than feeling persecuted, they will discover 'the other' as a type of mirror that allows them to understand the root of their reactions.
Pluto in Scorpio and the Eighth House
Pluto in Scorpio and the Eighth House will lead the individual to explore aspects of life most people avoid because it represents the underbelly or hidden side of life. The Eighth House relates to death, transformation and deeper aspects of intimacy with others.
This is a comfortable placement for Pluto since it rules Scorpio and the Eighth House. This placement can lead the individual to come across in a Scorpio fashion, getting deep and desiring to understand what makes other people 'tick.'
This is the area of the chart that associates with the deeper elements of transformation. The depth and probing that Scorpio demonstrates comes from the potency of Pluto and a desire to dig below the surface.
The Eighth House is associated with sex, death, sharing resources, whether with mates or borrowing money from banks, and also relates to insurance and inheritance. It is opposite to the Second House of personal resources and incorporates one's ability to share and rely on the help of others.
The evolutionary journey will bring about opportunities to explore what it means to trust another, whether through intimacy or allowing another access to one's bank account. The Eighth House and the underworld associations of this archetype may lead the individual into realms that are down and dirty, but its purpose is to resurrect what is hidden or bring the truth out into the light.
This is why secrecy and intrigue abound with this placement because the native wants to get at the root of it all. The spouse may be obsessed with wealth or present problems with managing money, both of which will impact the native.
The value systems in a partnership are given a high level of focus. A providing partner may make the scenario focused on control which can undermine the native's sense of empowerment.
Where Pluto in the Second House relates to resources and self esteem, in the Eighth House the challenges can emerge related to debts to others. Dependency and co-dependency can lead the individual to enact healthy boundaries.
The Shadow nature of this placement can lead one into debt to increase a sense of self worth. The life lesson can revolve around indebtedness, and learning how to balance obligation with individual empowerment.
This is a powerful placement for Pluto and the individual might be attracted to psychology or any work that includes digging and probing.
The native is learning how to ride in tandem to achieve their needs, without sacrificing their own power. Sexual intensity or a desire to merge completely with the partner through sex can also lead to deep transformation.
They may enjoy deep, groundbreaking conversations with a partner that can lead both toward enlightenment. The challenge of this placement is how powerfully the individual grows and whether or not the partner is changing in the same way.
Drawn to these deeper conversations and gifted at understanding human behavior, the native would excel at psychology. This placement is often associated with fetishes and taboo areas, because Pluto in the Eighth House wants a daily dose of intrigue.
Boundaries are there to be explored and overturned. The native may have a fascination with altered states of reality or even death. They may use sex as a type of rebirth that mimics living and dying.
The Eighth House Pluto individual will be drawn to a path of exploring the underbelly of life and will have much to offer others in helping them to overcome their fears.
Pluto in Sagittarius and the Ninth House
Pluto in Sagittarius and the Ninth House will embark on a journey of exploring truth, dogma and all of the philosophical insights that the world offers as a way of gaining mastery over life.
Where Sagittarius is drawn to the frontiers of human awareness, Pluto will lead the individual even deeper. They can be drawn to cults early in life or have a type of 'born again' experience where the combination of Jupiter's rulership of this house with Pluto's intensity can overwhelm other aspects of the individual's life path.
The native may live in a foreign country as some point in life which will have a lasting impact on their belief system. The individual is persuasive, intense and is a born teacher of philosophy and human potential based on beliefs.
The Shadow side of this placement is a dogmatic perspective that can turn a conversation into a defensive exchange. They are learning the difference between ideas and ideals, and the challenge will be in grounding and applying what they learn.
Because of Jupiter's influence on this house, the native can find success in publishing, but the writing will be ground breaking. Much consideration will be focused on success in the first part of life. In later years, the native will gravitate more toward the group perspective and may even find work in an institutional setting.
Since the Ninth House relates to higher education, professorship is a possibility. Whatever subject the native becomes fascinated with will be explained with passion, but they will inspire others to interpret life in their own way.
A life of mental exploration and testing philosophical perspectives will give them an eclectic sense of what is possible and they will honor other's perspectives. They may challenge others to explain the veracity of their beliefs. The difference between dogma and philosophical truth is whether it truly serves the masses and exists in the world of nature.
The Ninth House Pluto individual will feel deeply connected to the outdoors. They are learning how to balance man made truths with the realities they see in the world around them.
Pluto in Capricorn and the Tenth House
Pluto in Capricorn and the Tenth House suggests an evolutionary journey involving the father, the public persona and will include a bit of intrigue related to the career.
The parent with the largest influence on the individual may have appeared controlling or offered discipline in an almost military fashion. The individual may have had difficulty bonding with the father and replaced him with another role model who made a strong impact.
The intensity that Pluto brings to this house can gift the individual with charisma and an intense passion in whatever career one seeks. Whether working in government, music, acting or for a large corporation, the individual will rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
Pluto in the 10th House often appears for those who become motivational speakers or gurus. They are natural role-models for empowering others.
The early life challenges they faced didn't break them - they made them. Once they set their sites on accomplishment, nothing can stand in their way. They proved their metal early in life and may have had to find their inner direction because direction was never given.
The Shadow of this placement might lead them into adopting a superhero persona, out to save the world. They may need to save themselves first, and by the time they are done, saving the world will be replaced with accomplishment on their terms.
This is a mature placement for Pluto since the transformative journey will involve houses that relate to how we shed the skin of the past to be reborn. These are also the transpersonal houses, so the emphasis on the lifepath can be about serving others.
Saturn's rulership of this house brings the discipline to weather the storm of transformation. Once the individual rises, they can effectually lead others to do the same. They won't teach through words or ideas - they will embody empowerment and others will follow.
Pluto in Aquarius and the Eleventh House
Pluto in Aquarius and the Eleventh House suggests an evolutionary lesson based on accomplishing goals and what this can mean for self esteem. The individual will be attracted to powerful friends who may pull strings for them.
They can be swept up into opportunities with little or no effort through groups in which they belong. The challenge comes when joining groups can make them feel dishonest somehow. The individual may feel diluted of power or truth when in a group setting.
They might feel like they don't belong in a group and being an outsider leads them to accomplish from a sense of wanting to be accepted, although they won't admit it. It would be hard for this individual to enter a group setting and not demonstrate leadership qualities. Power struggles can be a way of learning to balance the individual identity within the group.
This can be a scientific placement for Pluto. Both Aquarius and its ruler Uranus suggest innovation and Pluto gives one the staying power to work with a unique concept until it is given form.
Where the iconoclastic tendencies of Aquarius enjoys being offbeat, Pluto will intensify this behavior. Rebellion is fun for the native because they don't want to be labeled as anything.
Friends can embody the archetype for the individual, where aligning with them seems to give the individual a sense of how it feels to go against the grain and get away with it. This is a projection tendency and the power really resides in the individual.
When you put a group of powerful people in one room together - there will be power issues. However, the individual will find the intensity fascinating...for awhile, at least.
In their early life, they may feel out of place because they prefer a type of intensity when others may appear homogenous and conforming. The type of isolation this placement suggests gives the individual the space to work hard at a career in solitude.
The trajectory of their path will involve psychological digging, accomplishment and rebirth early in their career. An identity crisis can completely transform their sense of values and they will have a firm sense of purpose, and a formidable power others will recognize.
The lifepath shows an individual with a powerful center and who can become a pillar of strength for others.
Pluto in Pisces and the Twelfth House
Pluto in Pisces and the Twelfth House brings about an evolutionary journey based on empowerment. Pluto is driving empowerment in every house it is located in, but for the Twelfth House native, it won't be easy for them to tap their authentic power.
Planets located in the Twelfth House appear to be less potent and are hidden away from conscious awareness. They may be bullies in early life because the chip on the shoulder that Pluto brings will be operating unconsciously.
Therefore, the native can embark on a path that vacillates between power struggles and retreating like a victim. There is a woundedness to this placement and early in life, they may have experienced something that made them feel shamed. A parent might have undermined their power or the role identification with the parent got a bit jumbled.
They may have sought love from an unavailable parent and attempt to replace the parent with a mate. Being attracted to that type of power in a mate is a recipe for an awakening. Worthiness will be a strong focus of their evolutionary path.
Until they recognize how they unwittingly undermine their power by believing in the wound, they will feel challenged when life brings about situations meant to unleash their ability to provide for themselves.
They will need to speak up for their needs and re-evaluate the past in a way that make sense to the present. This placement can exacerbate the projection tendency. It is important that they recognize bullying from others as a manifestation of their sense of unworthiness.
In Taoism, there is an idea that before we can set something up - we must first tear it down. In this case, the individual will need to tear down their defenses and erect an inner temple that is built on self love that can weather anything.
As they move from Shadow to empowerment, lessons will revolve around the ability to provide for oneself and how others can neither make or break one's stride.