Before August 2006, Pluto was just another planet. Then the members of the International Astronomical Union pronounced it a dwarf planet. That demotion is irrelevant to astrologers. Astrologers believe that Pluto possesses the power of transformation, and nothing's going to change that.
Pluto is small, rocky, and so mysterious that astronomers aren't sure what to make of it. Its elongated orbit, which is tilted to the rest of the solar system, overlaps the orbit of Neptune. As a result, from 1979 to 1999, Pluto was closer to the Sun than Neptune. Pluto's major moon, Charon, is so relatively large that some astronomers classified Pluto as a double planet. (That was before they decided it was a dwarf.) Other astronomers believed it to be an asteroid far away from home, a chunk of rock left over from the creation of the solar system, or a renegade moon that once belonged to Neptune. Regardless of its classification, astrologers agree that Pluto represents something profound in human nature.
In classical mythology, Pluto (Hades to the Greeks) was the god of the underworld, the king of the dead, and the god of wealth, reflecting the fact that gold, silver, and precious gems are found buried in the earth. Virtually every major character in mythology undertakes a journey to the underworld, which represents the darkest, most fear-laden part of the psyche. The return to the land of the living suggests renewal and transformation.
Thus, to astrologers, Pluto represents death, regeneration, and rebirth. It destroys, purifies, purges, and renews, bestowing consciousness on that which has been hidden and ultimately bringing transformation. The process can be tedious because Pluto moves at a glacial speed and its path is strewn with obstacles. But the rewards are life-changing.
Pluto has two symbols. One is a snazzy-looking metaphysical design: A small circle held within a crescent and balanced on a cross. I don't use this symbol because it's too easy to confuse with the glyphs of the other planets (Mercury and Neptune in particular). But many astrologers prefer it.
I'm partial to the second, more mundane symbol, which has its origins in the world of science. That symbol (see Figure 10-3) represents both the first two letters of Pluto's name and the initials of the aristocratic astronomer Percival Lowell, who was so convinced that there was life on Mars that he built an observatory in Arizona for the sole purpose of observing it. At the same time, he devoted himself to a search for the mysterious Planet X, which he believed was revolving around the sun in the outskirts of the solar system, way past Neptune. He never found it. But 14 years after Lowell's death, Clyde Tombaugh worked doggedly at the Lowell Observatory and discovered Pluto. This symbol acknowledges Lowell's contributions.
Pinpointing Pluto's influence
Like Uranus and Neptune, Pluto primarily influences generations. Its influence in an individual's birth chart is usually subtle — unless Pluto occupies a prominent spot in your chart. Pluto is prominent if i It occupies an angle — that is, it's in the first, fourth, seventh, or tenth house of your chart. It's especially strong if it's close to your Ascendant or Midheaven. (See Chapter 11 for more on Ascendants and Midheavens.)
i It makes a number of close aspects to other planets and, in particular, to the Sun, the Moon, or the planet that rules your Ascendant.
i You have one or more planets in Scorpio.
Even though Pluto spends, on average, about 20 years in each sign of the zodiac, it hurries through some signs (it's in and out of Libra in a dozen years) and plods through others (like Taurus, where it lingers for 32 long years). To discover its position at your birth, turn to the Appendix.
Pluto in the signs
Pluto's placement by sign determines the deepest obsessions of your generation as well as the style with which you approach transforming life events.
i Pluto in Aries (1823 to 1852): This generation was willful, rebellious, impulsive, and obsessed with power and independence.
i Pluto in Taurus (1852 to 1884): Security brought power for these hardworking folks, but values, particularly regarding possessions, were in flux. With Pluto in an earth sign, ownership was an issue. The American Civil War was fought during those years over that very compulsion.
i Pluto in Cancer (1914 to 1939): If you were born during these years when Pluto was discovered, you belong to a generation for whom security is paramount. You were taught to hold on to what you've got, and that's what you do — even when you should know better. It's no wonder that you feel this way: The Great Depression of the 1930s was a formative event in your life or in the experiences of your parents.
i Pluto in Leo (1939 to 1957): Your desire to express yourself dramatically, creatively, and expansively can become an obsession. This placement is the trademark of the baby boomers, who look with disdain upon the previous generation's search for security — and who are looked upon with scorn by the generations that follow because, in true Leo style, you can't help showing off.
1 Pluto in Virgo (1957 to 1972): The excesses of the baby boomers drive you to distraction, and you react against them. You seek personal control, obsess about details, and have every intention of becoming perfect. If you were born between 1962 and 1969, you also have Uranus in Virgo, so unexpected upsets may throw you off track. But these upsets won't stop you from striving for the perfect Plutonian/Uranian transformation — the one that alters everything in a flash.
1 Pluto in Libra (1972 to 1984): You're obsessed with balance, beauty, and social relations. You derive great power from sharing, but only if it's the real thing. You see no percentage in pretending. On the contrary, you demand a true marriage of equals. The arts have a strong impact on you.
1 Pluto in Scorpio (1984 to 1995): You're passionate, resolute, deeply sexual, and intent on experiencing every last drop of whatever life has to offer. But controlling your desires is essential. Fortunately, you have incredible willpower. You intuitively recognize the link between money and power, and you're interested in accumulating both. This is a formidable placement.
1 Pluto in Sagittarius (1995 to 2008): You long to find a philosophy or religion that offers intense spiritual and intellectual experiences — but you run the risk of being pompous and fanatical. Freedom is essential to you, and education and travel are transformational.
1 Pluto in Capricorn (2008 to 2024): People born with Pluto in buttoned-down Capricorn are goal-oriented, persistent, and pragmatic, with an inborn sense of sense of how the world works. You think you've seen savvy politicians? Wait 'til these babies come along. Pluto's last sojourn in the sign of the goat was between 1762 and 1778, years that covered the American Revolution.
1 Pluto in Aquarius (2024 to 2044): This do-your-own-thing generation is likely to have progressive ideals and to seek transformation through unconventional associations. The group will be increasingly central, but not in the limited, ethnocentric ways of the past. Remember the amazing bar scene in the original Star Wars movie? That's Pluto in Aquarius.
1 Pluto in Pisces (2044 to 2068): This placement is bound to be intriguing. Expect to see a self-sacrificing, mystical generation that dips deep into the collective unconscious. The members of this group may face a challenge if external structures dissolve in chaos, as they did in the lifetime of Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Tubman, both of whom, like other members of their generation, had Pluto in Pisces.
Was this article helpful?