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Planets in Astrology, Chapter 10. Pluto, the Lord of the Underworld

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“Il Ratto di Proserpina”, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Every celestial body in our solar family seems to follow a fate that mirrors its symbolism and astrological significance: such is the case with Pluto, the outermost one. Positioned at the outer edge of the Solar System, Pluto was officially downgraded to a ‘dwarf planet’ in September 2006 after a long-running debate; demoted in a whole redefinition of planethood, Pluto is therefore not an actual planet anymore. This did not stop astrologers from reckoning it to be a powerful force; its interpretation and symbolism are studied since over 40 years, and proven to be efficient. Pluto is not concerned over plain status: intense and potent, it belongs in the underworld (as its name suggests), and it epitomizes sheer, factual power. Unseen, yet lethal: this is the essence of Pluto. Lording over the realm of the subconscious mind, Pluto symbolizes all that is secret, undercover, and occult – mystery and potency intertwined.
Primarily made of rock and ice, Pluto was discovered in 1930. Its discovery made headlines across the globe, and the name “Pluto” was proposed by the eleven-year-old English schoolgirl Venetia Burney (1918–2009), who was interested in classical mythology. “Pluto” is the name of a Greek deity, which defines, in truth, a conflation of different figures: Ploutōn, actual ruler of the underworld, celebrated during the Eleusinian Mysteries, and Ploutos, a God of Wealth, the equivalent of Roman deity Dis Pater (as we have previously seen, most Roman and Greek Gods and Goddesses share enough attributes to be considered roughly the same, even though under a different name). This is why, nowadays, Pluto as an astrological archetype encompasses both meanings: on one hand, death and regeneration; legacy and abundance on the other.
Pluto’s addition to the Solar System symbolized a new step in the evolutionary process of humankind. In 1930, “Civilization and its Discontents”, by Sigmund Freud, was also seeing the Light. Those were the decades that saw Freud and Carl Gustav Jung probing the realm of subconscious for investigation, opening a gateway to the repressed, unacknowledged mysteries of human mind. The year 1929 saw the crash of the stock market in the United States, with Hitler and the NSDAP plotting to take advantage of the dire impact of such emergency to gain support for their party; this resulted in the NSDAP’s rise from obscurity to power in the 1930 election in Germany. Scientific breakthroughs during the 30’s also paved the way for the utilization of the atomic bomb. Pluto was being birthed into our collective consciousness, and, with it, the potential for destruction, annihilation, renewal and domination; the awareness of the dark, hidden corridors of the psyche, the horrors of mass extermination, the forceful pulses of libido, destructive side of charisma. Sex, Death, psychology and renovation: this is Pluto, a force of extremes, a subtle yet all-consuming radiation. Still, there is more than just chaotic, random destruction, to this symbol: Pluto brings the subconscious to Light, and destroys the outdated in order to allow new growth to flourish; the manifestation of such energy, whether it leans on the destructive or empowering side, depends on our grade of evolution.
At its best, Pluto supplies the fuel for our evolutionary process, transforming dysfunctional patterns through Death, bringing Rebirth. By killing off the Ego, Pluto disintegrates all the blocks that hinder our growth and our rise to self-empowerment. By opening us up to the radical intimacy of sexual act, Pluto gives voice to our unexpressed desires, tearing down the egoic defenses, the sense of shame and the stereotypes that separate us from the full intrepid experience of our animal, instinctual nature. The purpose and the action of Pluto is that of uncovering the Truth, guiding us towards the depth of the underworld, where the rich mineral treasures of Ploutos lie. Pluto provides us with the power to reconcile all extremes of human existence back into Oneness.
Pluto is the higher octave of Mars, and both rule the sign of Scorpio. It takes Pluto approximately 248 years to make one complete round throughout the Zodiac; due to the eccentricity of its orbit, it can spend between 15 and 26 years in each sign. This sluggish timing is indicative of the pace of the transformative cycle of Pluto: its action unfolds slowly, descending to the deepest level of everything over time, bringing about irreversible mutation, initiatic Death, radical cleansing, powerful rebirth.

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