Pluto – embracing the darkness



Contempt is the tell-tale sign of an afflicted or badly placed Pluto in a birth chart. The subtle or not so subtle put-down which makes others feel they are beneath consideration or worthless. That plus a pathologically stubborn stonewalling of any pressure to change, or gain insights. As if shifting ground would bring humiliation; and taking in feedback would mean allowing an intrusion into heavily protected, private space.  Though Plutonic types are often invasive of others themselves. Their status quo is defended fiercely, almost desperately, since it gives an illusion of stability, albeit for an essentially lonely state where there is no trust in the world or close relationships.

Power, control, possessiveness are the Pluto keywords and it really all comes down to a fear of submission, which latter would induce shame, obliteration of identity and a sense of being without value as a human being. Staying on top, which comes across as a smirking superiority and arrogance, is a defensive measure. Intimacy in relationships is tricky since deep connection feels like an invasion. “Where there is power there is not love.”

Vengefulness which is a Pluto/Scorpio trait is the inability to let go – of hurts and outworn relationships. Jealousy is a fear of loss, though often it kills the very thing that is prized. Manipulation is another trait which is a passive-aggressive way of exerting control, since it avoids confrontation which Pluto fears might lead to total destruction. There is volcanic anger inside Pluto, most often kept out of sight, being sensed by others, but not often acted out.

In mythology, Pluto is the god of the underworld (Hades) though he originally started as the god of wealth – gold, silver, diamonds. Since they came from underground he took over that realm. There was an 18th Century Plutonic theory that the earth was formed due to intense volcanic heat acting on rocks; while the opposing Neptunist theory was that the earth was formed from water with sediment laid down forming the land.

So Pluto is definitely of the earth and of hard substance, even when melted by intense heat.

He is most associated with the abduction of Persephone, the virgin daughter of Demeter, goddess of the harvest (Virgo), whom he tempted down to his lair with pretty flowers and then wouldn’t let her go. Demeter’s maternal grief was such that the seasons stopped and nothing grew. Faced with extinction Zeus (Jupiter) stepped into and brokered a deal whereby Persephone returned to her mother for the six months of summer and went back to Pluto in winter. The paradox of this story is that although it sounds initially like rape, it was also Persephone’s induction into adult womanhood, forcing her away from her jealous mother who wanted to keep her as an eternal child. Both Persephone and Demeter were central to the life-and-death nature rituals, dying in winter to be reborn in spring. The Eleusian Mysteries, over which they presided, were carried out in great secrecy, open only to initiates.

Pluto came to stand for not just wealth, but also sex, control/possession, secret societies, elites and the transformation process which involves actual as well as symbolic death. He was not known for promiscuity – and in some myths had a helmet of invisibility.

Where Pluto is in hard aspect to Sun and Moon or in 10th/4th or even 8th house, the individual grows up with a strong feeling that they have no choices in life; they are pawns on someone else’s chess board. That is a difficult pattern to break, and often for women with domineering fathers, it takes them into their forties – after the tr Pluto square natal Pluto – to step into their own identity where they are free to say ‘I am’ and ‘this is what I want’. For some the dominance/submission balance flips in early adult life and they become a control-freak themselves. But even where it doesn’t, there’s always a power play running at an unconscious level. What’s that old expression? – “There’s no one as powerful as a victim.” That’s Pluto in one of its manifestations.

Pluto by transit has a different feel since it is like being mown down by a steam-roller, completely flattened and buried in the mud, before emerging slowly to see a scarred landscape where the old has been demolished. Acute frustration and powerlessness of a scary variety can become all-consuming.

On second thoughts it isn’t different. It tells you what a natal Plutonic type is defending against all the time. In spiritual lalaland, Plutonic transformation is always talked about as if it was the ultimate desirable process. Yet it is gruesomely difficult and painful, a stripping away of everything that brought security, self-worth, identity, with only the light at the end of the tunnel (usually not visible for a long time) promising hope of a better rebuild on the far side.

The biblical myth of Job and the Sumerian legend of Inanna’s descent into the underworld are more truthful descriptions of what happens in the symbolic death and rebirth journey.

A strong natal Pluto has a significant upside – is good in crisis, doesn’t panic, gets a grip where everyone else is losing control, is often quite prescient so has ideas ahead of their time. But it has to be lived out. Overly submissive Plutonic types who were forced to be puppets on someone else’s strings early on and continue in adult life to be ‘nice’ and placatory, are continually hurt by the hostile responses they attract. They don’t understand the power signals they give out unconsciously, since they are still living with the inner image of themselves as a useless doormat. Owning power in a healthy way is not easy especially for women, and most resist turning into the controlling adult who made their childhood a misery.

The most useful motto for Pluto is – ‘influence not power’. That and finding the right lifestyle in which Pluto’s intensity, capacity to regenerate situations and cope with crisis can be used constructively.  Yet for all that there is something impenetrable about Pluto and difficult for the individual to grasp in their birth chart, which may be to do with its darkness and inherently primitive/primeval nature.


Carl Jung – an intellectual genius with personality flaws



Carl Jung, 26 July 1875 7.26pm Kesswil, Switzerland, the analytical psychotherapist, was immensely influential not just on the development of psychology (along with Freud), but also on anthropology, archaeology, literature, and religious studies. He focused on individuation, the process of integrating the opposites, the conscious and unconscious, and left behind important concepts like archetypes, the collective unconscious, extraversion and intraversion. He was also interested in psychic phenomena, astrology and alchemy.  His ideas on the individuation mid-life transformational crisis in the late 30s to early 40s, which he reckoned was the crucial turning point for a life, fits with the tr Uranus opposition natal Uranus, followed by tr Neptune square natal Neptune, and tr Pluto square natal Pluto.

He was a hugely important thinker and a fairly flawed human being, marrying his wife for her money, sleeping with patients and installing his mistress in the family home as his muse.

He had a 7th house Leo Sun and Uranus so partnerships were vital to him though he needed the freedom of unconventional ties. His Sun was exactly square his Neptune in Taurus in the 3rd, which would give him another-worldly leaning. His Moon and Pluto were also in the 3rd in Taurus. He talked in his books about his two personalities, so he obviously felt split between his grounded, practical self and his up-in-the-air fiery Neptunian side.

His 9th house Jupiter (= widespread communication, philosophy and publishing) was heavily aspected being sextile Mars, trine Saturn and inconjunct Pluto. His Moon was conjunct Pluto, square Uranus, widely square Saturn and sextile Venus in Cancer – a testament to his emotionally unstable and possessive mother. His Pluto opposed his Midheaven from the 3rd squaring onto a scientifically-inclined Saturn in Aquarius. A very Fixed and enduring as well as stubborn chart, with three Cardinal planets for initiative but only one adaptable Mutable planet. So he would expect the world and his partners to adapt to him rather than the other way round.

His 6th house Mercury in Cancer was not much aspected, but that lack was balanced by strong 9th and 3rd house planets boosting his intellectual interests and ability to write.

His super-star 22nd Harmonic (a Master Number) was very strongly marked; as was his leaving-a-legacy-for-history 17H; and his writers 21H. His genius/breaking-with-the-orthodox 13H; healer’s 12H; obsessive-dream 11H; humanitarian though questionable about money 9H; and inspired 7H were also notable.

Not an easy man by any means, but he put ideas out into the zeitgeist which were truly significant.

Renee Zellwegger – back from a few years of invisiblity



Renee Zellweger is getting good reviews for Bridget Jones’s Baby, third in the franchise, co-written by Emma Thompson and also starring Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey (late of Gray’s Anatomy).

Born 25 April 1969 2.41pm Baytown, Texas, she’s ideally cast as the chaotic, emotionally dysfunctional Bridget. She has a secretive and determined Taurus Sun conjunct Saturn in late Aries, both in the 8th house; with her Saturn on the focal point of a Yod to Neptune in the 3rd sextile Jupiter Uranus (Pluto) – so a curious mix of confident, stressed, constantly changing, never feeling she fits in, having to be self-reliant, vague,  defensive about commitment. She’s also got a hidden 12th house Leo Moon trine a 4th house Mars in Sagittarius – so a complicated childhood and adult emotional life. She’s had various relationships and one six month marriage.

She disappeared off the scene in 2010 and this is her first movie since. That was when tr Saturn was moving through her lower profile first quadrant, a time when people want to rebalance their lives and find more personal space. Tr Saturn is now into her 2nd quadrant as she emerges back into the world after a few years of anonymity.

She does have tr Pluto opposition her Sun/Jupiter through 2016/17 which will lift her confidence. Though she’s also got tr Neptune square her Midheaven which hints at a degree of uncertainty about what comes next. Her Secondary Progressed Venus is exactly conjunct her Sun now which does suggest a significant emotional relationship or event.

Tr Uranus will conjunct her focal point Saturn in 2018 which will cause quite a shake up and will put her onto a completely new track.

The film started shooting on 2 Oct 2015 with an exuberant Mars Jupiter conjunction in a successful trine to Pluto which has to augur well.



La La Land – a feel good movie



La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, has been greeted by rapturous reviews – ‘wonderfully sweet, sad, smart’ – ‘a musical romance that rushes from first love to heartache via show tunes, love songs and free jazz’ – ‘a sweet-natured drama that’s full of bounce.’

Principal Photography started on 10 Aug 2015 in Los Angeles with a frivolously flamboyant Jupiter Venus conjunction in Leo with Venus conjunct a Leo Sun; plus a few less helpful influences like Mars trine Saturn, so not all spectacular.

Ryan Gosling, 12 Nov 1980 2.34pm? London, Canada and Emma Stone, 6 Nov 1988 12.50pm Scottsdale, Arizona (astrotheme) are both Sun Scorpios and both have Venus in Libra. But they are very different types of Scorpios. She’s a controlling Sun Pluto and he’s a freedom-loving Sun Uranus. She has Uranus Saturn in late Sagittarius conjunct his Mars Neptune which would make for a rather agitated chemistry. Their relationship chart has a hard-working composite Sun Saturn but that’s in an edgy, irritable square to Mars, so not easy keeping tranquil when things went wrong.

UK economy as Brexit approaches

The jury is still out about how much economic damage Brexit will do to the UK – and to the EU. Pre-referendum predictions about an imminent deep recession seem, at present, to be misplaced, though it’s early days yet.

What’s showing on the UK 1801 chart is Solar Arc Sun square the 8th house Mars, exact in about two weeks, but whose influence was probably soaked up in the run-up with the late June referendum. There’s still Solar Arc MC square the UK Mars in a year’s time which might create a few shocks in the City of London and financial businesses, since 8th house is investment, banking and foreign trade. Tr Uranus will trine the 11th house Saturn again in March/April 2017 for the final time, which does point to a new direction for the country and constitutional changes. There are a couple of major Moon influences – tr Pluto opposition the 10th house Moon in 2017/18; and Solar Arc Moon will oppose Saturn in 2019. That sounds, amongst other things, like a stressed and unhappy population, though it could also be to do with rulership (HM Queen) and the legislature (Westminster).

The Bank of England chart, 27 July 1694 (I can’t work out whether that’s OS or NS but I’m assuming GC) – has Solar Arc Jupiter square the Mars opposition Neptune this year and Solar Arc square Mars and Neptune in 2017. That Mars Neptune was being activated when George Soros broke the Bank in 1992 and the UK exited the ERM in a hurry. It suggests an over-confident high, followed by a sharp drop. And tr Saturn will start to hard aspect the BoE Uranus in Nov/Dec this year, then continue on to hard aspect Venus, Mars, Neptune from Jan 2017 till late in the year. So there may be more obvious wobbles once the Brexit mechanism is put into process.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, 16 Mar 1965, may be evincing serene calm at the moment, but he’s more rattled than he appears. Tr Neptune is conjunct his Saturn until Jan 2017 and tr Saturn will square his Uranus, Pluto, Mars (Moon) through this Oct/Nov, moving on to square his Venus Sun in 2017; and tr Neptune also opposes his Uranus Pluto and Mars in 2017/18 – so there’s a fair amount of panic and uncertainty beneath his unruffled demeanour.

The FTSE 250, 12 Oct 1992, which is the better indicator for domestic businesses, is under some pressure through 2017/18 with tr Pluto square the Sun, though the chart is also fairly stressed at the moment through the autumn and the index is not showing many signs of plummeting.

The EU and ECB (European Central Bank) do have more problems facing them than Brexit, namely bad loans in several countries and a stagnant EU economy. The ECB, 1 June 1998, has tr Saturn square tr Neptune hitting on the Gemini Sun from now till early 2017 and a really tough slog through 2017 from tr Pluto trine Saturn.

The Telegraph today said: “Large parts of the eurozone are slipping deeper into a deflationary trap despite negative interest rates and one trillion euros of quantitative easing by the European Central Bank, leaving the currency bloc with no safety buffer when the next global recession hits.” Which it probably will when the Saturn Pluto conjunction turns up in 2019.

The EU, 31 Dec 1957 11pm chart, certainly suffered a shock this year from Brexit with Solar Arc Uranus square the Sun exactly on cue; and look to be facing their worst meltdown around 2019 and in 2021/2023 – with 2019 seeing a dead-halt Solar Arc MC conjunct Pluto and a devastating Solar Arc Pluto conjunct their 2nd house financial Neptune in 2019, when tr Uranus is also opposing the EU Neptune bringing high anxiety about the economy. Then Solar Arc Mars squares the EU 8th house Moon and opposes the EU Uranus in 2021. By that time tr Uranus has moved into their 8th house of business finances, aiming to conjunct the Moon and square the EU Uranus with Solar Arc Neptune conjunct the EU Sun by 2023.

Tr Saturn will conjunct the UK, EU and their composite Sun in December 2018 which can indicate a separation though sometimes with tr Saturn it occurs in the aftermath.


Marks & Spencer – swampy times



Marks & Spencer, one of the UK’s oldest stores, selling clothes and food, have had an up and down time since 2000, with this year’s fashion sales well down. Established on 20 May 1884, it was listed on 17 June 1926.

The 1884 chart looks lack lustre this year and in 2017 with tr Neptune square the Saturn, so confusion and uncertainty. There’s a lift coming in 2018 with tr Uranus square Jupiter; and a complete reorganisation in 2020 with tr Pluto trine Uranus.

The 1926 chart has much the same with a ‘shock’ Solar Arc Uranus conjunct Sun this year; and really droopy Solar Arc Neptune conjunct Saturn late 2017, covering several months. Plus an uplift in 2018. So muddles and guddles ahead, but nothing terminal.

Gene & Gilda – a tragic love affair




Gene Wilder’s great and sad romance was comedian and actress Gilda Radnar, whom he met in 1981, married three years later, and then in 1986 she was diagnosed with cancer from which she died in 1989.

Born 28 June 1946, she was a Sun Cancer with Moon Gemini/Cancer with a charming Venus Pluto in Leo; while he was a Sun Gemini, Moon Aquarius so it wasn’t an intuitively good match. Though his Venus in Cancer was conjunct her Sun which would be affectionate. Her Pluto was opposition his Moon and in her memoir she said she made it her full-time job to talk him into marrying her, so that would fit with her seducing him into staying close. Her Jupiter was in his 5th so she would lift his confidence and be a bright spark for him. But her Saturn in Cancer squared his Uranus and her Uranus was conjunct his Sun – so there would be some tensions since both were highly individualistic personalities. Though a fast-moving, varied lifestyle would soak some of that up. His Saturn in Aquarius opposed her Venus Pluto, which would, without the crisis of her health, have proved problematic at some point.

Their relationship chart had an illusory composite Sun square Neptune but the Sun also squared Jupiter, so it would enable them to live within a positive dream bubble. Neptune was also sextile the composite Venus which in turn was probably square the composite Moon which says much the same. Neptune was trine Uranus, sextiling onto Venus – so it would be a creative and quirky love affair.

The composite Saturn was trine Mars which can suggest an unequal balance, one gives more than the other. Though again her illness would demand sacrifice.

It wouldn’t be seamless unless Neptune enveloped them in a haze of bliss. It’s difficult to extrapolate how much the relationship chart somehow ‘knew’ about her illness. Without it, there would have been problems in the longer term. The wedding chart of 18 September 1984 was very Neptunian as well – Neptune sextile Venus, square Sun and opposition Moon.

His two great working partnerships were with Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor. Mel Brooks had the same birthday as Gilda so his Cancer Sun was conjunct Gene’s Venus and Mel’s Jupiter Moon were conjunct Gene’s MC and in his 10th – so a good career fit. Richard Pryor’s Sagittarius Sun was on Gene’s Descendant so a good partnership.

Mel Gibson – back into the fray




Just as Mel Gibson attempts to claw back his tarnished reputation with a well-received new movie, Hacksaw Ridge, another story emerges from radio jock Glenn Beck that he recently blamed ‘Jewish people’ for stealing an early copy of his previous film, The Passion of Christ, to smear him as an anti-Semite. If true, he never learns, even 10 years sober.

This movie about Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to receive a Medal of Honour for helping wounded soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa in WW11 releases first in Australia on 3rd November, which has the tr Mars in Capricorn conjunct tr Pluto and square tr Uranus on the run up, so it may be fraught if this story gains traction.

Gibson, 3 January 1956 3.45pm Peakskill, New York, has a very angry, none-too-pleasant and certainly mouthy chart. Notably he has a 5th house Mars Saturn in Scorpio square Pluto Jupiter in the 2nd – the Mars Saturn Pluto will be where he gets his liking for extreme violence and gore even in his Christ movie, plus a vengeful streak that can’t let go old resentments. His Mercury opposes Uranus squaring onto Neptune, which will make him fanatical. His Mercury is also sextile Saturn Mars and inconjunct Pluto – so not surprising he tends to let his anger rip verbally. At the moment he’s got his Solar Arc Pluto conjunct his Neptune, exact in three months, which is devastating and tr Pluto is conjunct his Descendant moving into his 7th which will make his relationships in general with the public, media as well as partners, overly intense.

Desmond Doss, 7 Feb 1919 Virginia, was a Seventh Day Adventist with an abusive alcoholic father, so the story must have rung a few bells for Gibson. Doss was a Sun Uranus in Aquarius opposition Saturn in Leo and a Taurus Moon, so certainly Fixed and good at sticking to his principles. He also had a confident Jupiter Pluto in Cancer trine Venus Mars in Pisces so would be quite a live wire.

In the movie he’s played by Andrew Garfield, 20 Aug 1983 8.40pm Los Angeles, who has a Leo Sun conjunct Venus in Virgo trine Neptune MC, sextile Saturn Pluto in Libra. With Saturn Pluto also on the point of a T square to an Aquarius Moon opposition Mars in Leo – he’s not as bland and boyish as his photographs look. He’ll be charming and filmic with Sun Venus Neptune MC, but also has a dark side – very stubborn, given to depression, angry. He looks relatively upbeat this month but then is confused and uncertain through October/November. And has his Solar Arc Saturn conjunct his Jupiter within weeks, which will be dampening. Though he is moving into his peak success time from next year for seven years, so whatever is bugging him will pass.

It wouldn’t be the easiest of relationships with Gibson, since Garfield’s Sun is conjunct Gibson’s Pluto and square Gibson’s Mars Saturn. With AG’s Moon opposition Mars square Neptune sitting on top of MG’s Mercury opposition Uranus square Neptune.

Neptune – fighting a duel with the real world



Neptune has an over-idealised image in astrology. Yes, it is known to be slippery and evasive, impractical and low energy, but really it’s all about dreams and visions, kindness and compassion, is what I absorbed early on. Yet it doesn’t stack up in practice. Top athletes who need exceptional physical endurance often have strong Neptune aspects to their Suns. Successful businessmen and explorers are often Pisces, which is ruled by Neptune. The Nazi doctor Josef Mengele was a Pisces Sun trine Neptune. John Gacy, who raped and killed at least 33 teenage boys, was a New Moon in Pisces opposition Neptune. When astrologers were asked to do a cold reading on Gacy’s chart, they waxed eloquent about what a nice man he would be.

To go back to basics, in mythology Neptune ruled the watery oceans and waged war on Athena, who ruled the land. As an act of aggression he raped Medusa (who was then very beautiful) in Athena’s temple, in revenge for which Athena turned her ugly and banished her to the far wildernesses. So there’s a decidedly unpleasant streak about Neptune. The sea can be cruel, is certainly cold, changeable, liable to brew up into monstrous storms, can chip away relentlessly at rocky land until it collapses.

Christianity according to Carl Jung was the iconic symbol for the two thousand year Age of Pisces, ruled by Neptune. Yet Christianity, despite its love and tolerance motif, has at its heart an image of gruesomely bloody torture and the acute physical suffering of a forsaken son. Neptune has a dissolving action so physical dismemberment is part of his lexicon. And in certain modes Neptune is anti-life. This ‘vale of tears’ was the old Christian outlook for getting through a life of suffering and mishaps, until you reached the happy land beyond St Peter’s Gates. It’s not that different from the Muslim belief in 70 virgins in paradise in the afterlife. And Islam is also very Piscean/Neptunean.

Neptune rules religion and when you think of the atrocities perpetrated in the name of all that is holy from the Crusades, the Inquisition, the murderous Protestant versus Roman Catholic centuries, to what’s going on at the moment it throws a different slant on Neptune, the spiritual dreamer. Being wrapped up in an all-encompassing Neptunian vision can obliterate everything around that is human and it can be insensitive, often to a staggering degree.

To go back to mythology: Creativity, which is one of Neptune’s talents, was born when Medusa was beheaded and Pegasus, the winged horse, was set free. So there is this paradox about Neptune – revelling in brutality of the bloodiest variety in order to set free the ideal. An eternal war between the physical world and the spirit. But both are true of Neptune, not just the sanitised reaching-for-nirvana half. You don’t get one without the other.

Merged with other planets Neptune can be a powerful force and not always for the good. Neptune Pluto is scandal prone and megalomaniac. Neptune Uranus can be fanatical as well as inspired. Neptune Saturn is associated with epidemics, paranoia, mental instability as well as social reform. Neptune Jupiter rules high-finance, bankers and the like, as well as dodgy gurus.

At the moment we have a Neptune square Saturn. They are polar opposites since Saturn rules the earthly material world, the body, organizations, rules and regulations, practicality, sanity. Neptune hates it all. It tries and usually succeeds in undermining our security in the real world, dissolves the boundary between what is fact and what is fiction, so we start to doubt our sanity. It also undermines the body so you get illnesses, often difficult to diagnose, or epidemics.

On a more positive note it also undermines the patriarchy (I hate the term but Saturn is very much the masculine authority) so women’s rights come to the fore. And Saturn Neptune does have a creditable record in moving social reforms ahead in general. Neptune’s healing energy brought to bear on the rigid status quo.

Neptune brings its duality to bear on the financial sphere (Saturn) as well, since it is associated with conmen and trickery, bringing financial scandals out into the open and overall undermining confidence in economic security.

It starts to fade in influence in a couple of months and won’t be back till the mid 2020s.

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