Pluto sums up our fear of falling back into primordial chaos, breaking down the barriers of the ego. But once that fear is overcome, a world of creativity awaits us.
Pluto’s status as the solar system’s last planet – or at least considered as such – makes it the symbol of that which is farthest from the ordering light of consciousness. Pluto’s impersonal principle can be seen as chaos or creative potential once the centralising power of the self attains it.
Chaos (from the Greek χάος, ‘opening’, gap in the continuity of things) in contrast to the order of κόσμος, the cosmos, etymologically the ordered system, makes Pluto the ruler of “fate”, the inevitable and incomprehensible destiny from which no one can escape. It is unknown because there is no acknowledgement of the cathartic energies that lie deep inside. Because the conventional ego masks the meaning of renewal inherent in Pluto’s symbolism, it forces the planet to show itself in ways visible only to integrated personalities. For most individuals, Pluto acts as a blind impulse that directs actions and situations, allowing energy to reveal itself, albeit distorted. Thus, the manifested power collides with habits painstakingly developed during existence.
With negative aspects of Pluto in our chart, we reject circumstances showing our mistakes and resistance. Not wanting to recognise them out of selfishness, we resort to denial and violence to erase them and thus preserve our presumed integrity.
What is the result of our refusal to change? The manifestation of Pluto’s energy, which is neutral, causes more damage and destruction as the ego structure stiffens in the face of its demands for transformation. The outcome develops into a series of destructive events for the old self, the need to deal with falsely experienced patterns and the anguish deriving from the loss of support.
The ways of transformation can take on a radical form and produce a rapid change that suddenly reveals the new world that arises following the destruction of the old image of the self. Or Pluto works over long distances, creating small or medium deviations from the ordinary path, gradually leading to a new goal. In both cases, it is a matter of a tiring and painful journey, made up of continuous renunciations and flashes of understanding of the true meaning of the events; they might appear as unfortunate coincidences, suddenly revealing the imposition of necessity as a not consciously chosen way of liberation.
Why is Pluto, representative of the impersonal realm, enclosed in the expressions of the egoic sphere limited to individual interests? It is not enclosed, but the terms of it become a negative value constrained by the narrow horizons of personal desire. This is because the creative process seems to act through a tangle of psychic nodes that return a distorted image, resulting in complex and questionable social and emotional attitudes that have nothing to do with the original creative impulse. It is perhaps the result of the self, unity in diversity, becoming the ego and thus applying the categorisations of reality solely for the individual’s benefit. Referring only to oneself, one becomes incapable of accepting the other without possessing it, making it part of one’s hypertrophic vision. The destructive aspect of Pluto refers exclusively to the human incapacity to integrate potential for change, which is impersonal in itself but which in the individual tends to become a vehicle for selfish distortions.
Pluto attempts to merge consciousness with its reflection, a process that weakens the sense of ego and its associated obsessions. It is the purpose of all authentic Eastern and Western traditions, aiming at direct knowledge, pursued with the keys offered by a specific culture, language, and individual paths. Awareness of the infinite richness of manifestation approaches the origin, loses selfish attachments, and returns free from the presumption of a life of its own, separate from the environment.
Unfortunately, these teachings become a distraction; they obtain the exact opposite effect to the desired one, a perfect form of counter-initiation, a passage of time waiting for the period granted to us to end. It almost seems that the energies of transformation are unconsciously directed towards objectives which, while assuming the semblance of elevation, mimic spiritual knowledge by placing it at the service of the ego, of the desire to acquire satisfaction for oneself. We call it the advent of spiritual materialism.
Pluto is the bearer of transformative situations. These situations assume the role of an impulse which, in a more or less short time, leads us to events which require a total revision of our actions, under penalty of the persistence of a state which can lead us, in case of adverse astrological aspects, to destruction or obsession. The environmental context (culture, material situation, etc.) is integral to the problem. Not as such, but because we do nothing to weaken its weight; thus, the commitment necessary to face change is increasingly weighed down by obstacles that assume an unshakeable solidity.
The sacrifice required for change is not always accepted. The anguish deriving from the abandonment of obsolete and harmful existential schemes is like a wound that threatens the integrity of the individual, exposing them to the outside world without defences. However, seeing yourself in others allows you to access self-healing resources to make the Wasteland (the individual who is not integrated and therefore alone) flourish – to use the images of the chivalrous epic -. By doing so, we discover in other beings thaumaturgical virtues, which are nothing more than the recognition of our authentic nature (the Knight of the Holy Grail), finally free from self-induced projections. All of this, of course, presupposes the sacrifice of our obsessive attachments.
Knowing what happens when the individual begins their journey of inner transformation requires understanding the language used because the quality of the result will depend on it. Psychological self-analysis can have its preparatory meaning, but when a new vision is needed – from the individual to the universal – an act of considerable courage is necessary, so much so that in some occult circles, there is talk of an encounter with the “Guardian of the Threshold”.
According to Rudolf Steiner, founder of anthroposophy, the “Little Guardian of the Threshold” is an entity that manifests itself when the individual begins his work of spiritual transformation. He reveals himself as a monstrous and ghostly figure, a mirror of impurities we are getting rid of that prevent us from continuing towards a higher destiny. When this happens, and the individual recognises their worst side, they open the doors of spiritual experience, leading to an encounter with the “Great Guardian of the Threshold”. This time we know our role within the family, people, ethnic groups and those with whom we share our karmic experience. In this way, we free ourselves from karmic connections and become autonomous, free to continue alone without the support of spirit guides.
Expanding the comparison with astrological symbolism, Saturn and Pluto would respectively represent the “Lesser” and the “Great” Guardian of the Threshold. Saturn is the last of the seven classical planets, signifying the complete fulfilment of the human figure. Saturn defines the individual – as the last of the formative planets – through the skin – separating us and constituting us as a complete biological entity, including the bones. This last organic element brings us closer to the mineral kingdom, and we can go no further. From here on, a transpersonal leap is needed, which projects us into a collective and universal vision guaranteed by the appearance of the trans-Saturnian planets.
In earlier times, the discovery of the trans-Saturnian planets was unnecessary because the ability to penetrate and split matter was not as advanced as it is today. The view of existence still retained a certain degree of completeness, which did not require a detailed investigation of the mechanisms underlying the functioning of living beings and inorganic matter. Simply, the world was less “mechanical” and more imbued with an original spirituality.
It is interesting to note the two-faced role of the trans-Saturnian planets. On the one hand, they manifest the technological and social expansion at the basis of the industrial revolution (see, for example, the association of the symbolism of Pluto with atomic fission). On the other hand, they remain the custodians of the main thrust of overcoming, expansion and transformation (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto), which the current human consciousness must use to activate itself in a universal sense. Once again, we say “as above, so below”: the ever-greater fall into a world of finite substance is countered by the conscious opening towards the unity of all things.
- Haydn Paul – Phoenix Rising – Rockport MA 1988