Pluto summarises our fear of falling back into primaeval chaos, dropping the barriers of the ego. But once we overcome such dread, a world of creativity awaits us.
The status of Pluto as the last planet – or at least as considered as such – of the solar system makes it the symbol of what is most further from the ordering light of consciousness. The impersonal principle of Pluto can be seen as chaos or as a creative potential once reached by the centralising power of the self.
Chaos (from the Greek χάος, ‘opening’, a gap in the continuity of things) as opposed to the ordering of the κόσμος, the cosmos, etymologically the ordered system, makes Pluto the ruler of “fate”, the inevitable and incomprehensible destiny that no one can escape from. It is unknown because there is no recognition of the cathartic energies lying deep inside. Since the conventional ego masks the meaning of renewal inherent in Pluto’s symbolism, it forces the planet to show itself in visible ways only to integrated personalities. At the same time, for most individuals, Pluto acts as a blind impulse directing towards actions and situations, allowing the energy to reveal itself, albeit in a distorted way. The power thus manifested clashes with habits painstakingly developed in the course of existence.
If Pluto suffers from negative aspects in our chart, we reject the circumstances showing our errors and resistances. Not wanting to recognise them out of selfishness, we resort to denial and violence in an attempt to erase them and thus preserve our presumed integrity.
What is the result of our refusal to change? The manifestation of Pluto energy, neutral in itself, causes more damage and destruction the more the structure of the ego stiffens in the face of its demands for transformation. The outcome unfolds in a series of destructive events for the old self, the need to deal with falsely experienced patterns, the anguish deriving from the loss of support.
The transformation modalities can take on a radical guise and produce a swift change that suddenly unveils the new world that arises following the destruction of the old image of the ego. Or Pluto works on long distances, creating small or medium deviations from the ordinary path, gradually leading towards a new goal. In both cases, it is a tiring and painful journey, made up of constant renunciations and flashes of understanding on the true meaning of events; they could appear as unfortunate coincidences, which suddenly reveal the imposition of necessity as a path of liberation not consciously chosen.
Why is Pluto, representative of the impersonal realm, enclosed in the expressions of the egoic sphere, which is itself limited to individual interests? It is not locked up, but its terms become a negative value, bound by the narrow horizons of personal longing. That is because the creative process seems to act through a jumble of psychic knots that return a distorted image, resulting in complex and questionable social and emotional attitudes having nothing to do with the original creative impulse. It is perhaps a result of the fact that the self, which is unity in diversity, becomes the ego and therefore applies the categorisations of reality for the sole benefit of the individual. By referring only to oneself, one becomes unable to accept the other if not possessing them, making them part of their hypertrophic vision. The destructive aspect of Pluto refers exclusively to the human inability to integrate potentials for change which are impersonal per se but which in the individual tend to become a vehicle for egoistic distortions.
Pluto attempts to unite consciousness with its reflection, a process that weakens the sense of the ego and the obsessions associated with it. It is the purpose that all authentic traditions, both Eastern and Western, aim for: the direct knowledge, pursued with the keys offered by a specific culture, by language, even by individual paths. The awareness of the infinite richness of the manifestation approaches the origin, loses the egoistic attachments, and returns free from the presumption of life in its own right, separated by the surroundings.
Unfortunately, these teachings happen to become a distraction; that is, they end up obtaining the exact opposite effect to the desired one, a perfect form of counter-initiation, a passing of time waiting for the period granted to us to come to an end. It almost seems that one unconsciously directs the transformation energies towards objectives which, while assuming a semblance of elevation, mimic spiritual knowledge by placing it at the service of the ego, of the desire to acquire satisfaction for oneself. We name it the advent of spiritual materialism.
Pluto is the bearer of situations of transformation. These situations take on the role of an impulse that, in more or less short times, leads us to events that require a total review of our actions, on pain of the persistence of a state that can lead us, in the case of adverse astrological positions, to destruction or obsession. The environmental background (culture, material situation, etc.) is an integral part of the problem. Not as such, but because we do nothing to weaken its weight; thus, the commitment required to face the change is increasingly burdened by obstacles assuming an unscratchable solidity.
The sacrifice required for the change is not always accepted. The anguish deriving from the abandonment of obsolete and harmful existential patterns is like a wound that threatens the individual’s integrity, exposing them to the outer world without defences. However, seeing yourself in others allows access to self-healing resources to make bloom again – to use the images of the chivalric epic – the Wasteland (the individual not integrated and therefore alone). Doing so, we discover in the other beings thaumaturgical virtues, which are nothing but recognising our authentic nature (the Knight of the Holy Grail), finally free from self-induced projections. All of this, of course, assumes the sacrifice of our obsessive attachments.
Knowing what happens when the individual begins his path of inner transformation requires an understanding of the used language because the quality of the result will depend on it. Psychological self-analysis can have its preparatory significance, but when we need a new vision – from the individual to the universal – an act of considerable courage is required, so much so that in some occult environments, we speak of the encounter with the “Threshold Guardian”.
According to Rudolf Steiner, founder of anthroposophy, the “Little Guardian of the Threshold” is an entity that manifests itself when the individual begins its spiritual transformation work. It reveals itself as a monstrous and ghostly figure, a mirror of impurities we are getting rid of, preventing the continuation towards a higher destiny. When this happens, and the individual recognises their own worst side, they open the doors of spiritual experience leading to the “Great Guardian of the Threshold” encounter. This time, we know our role within the family, the people, the ethnic group, and those we share our karmic experience with. In that way, we clear ourselves from karmic connections and make ourselves autonomous, free to continue alone, without the support of the spirit guides.
Expanding the comparison to astrological symbolism, Saturn and Pluto would represent the “Small” and the “Great” Guardian of the Threshold, respectively. 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 – which separates us and constitutes us as a biological entity complete in itself – and bones. The latter organic element brings us closer to the mineral kingdom, and one can no longer go beyond this point. From here on, a transpersonal leap is necessary, which projects us into a collective and universal vision guaranteed by the appearance of the trans-Saturnian planets.
In less recent times, the trans-Saturnian planets’ discovery was unnecessary because the ability to penetrate and split matter was not as advanced as today. The vision of existence still retained a certain degree of wholeness, which did not require a detailed investigation of the mechanisms underlying the functioning of living beings and inorganic matter. Quite simply, the world was less “mechanical” and more imbued with original spirituality.
It is interesting to remark the two-faced role of the trans-Saturnian planets. On the one hand, they manifest the technological and social expansion at the base of the industrial revolution (see, for example, the association of Pluto symbolism with atomic fission). On the other hand, they remain the custodians of the main thrust of overcoming, expansion and transformation (Uranus and Neptune) that 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 made of finite substance is counteracted by the conscious opening towards the unity of all things.
- Haydn Paul – Phoenix Rising – Rockport MA 1988