Pluto: The Bad Guy?

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As Catwoman once remarked to Batman: “You are the night, just like me. We’re not afraid of the dark  – we come alive in it, we’re’ thrilled by it.” In mythology, we have images of Hades/Pluto ripping through the earth, capturing Persephone when he saw her dancing through the meadow picking flowers. Dragging her down into the depths of hell, the maiden was raped and transformed from this young, innocent girl into the Queen of the Underworld. Persephone is LIFE to his DEATH and it is believed that both are inseparable. A planet aspected by Pluto represents the kidnapped victim, which is the aspect of our psychology that becomes captured and pulled into the underworld.

In astrology, Pluto rules all things dark, scary, threatening, buried, taboo, and everything we pretend does not exist. According to James Hillman, Pluto’s real message is neither Hitler nor spiders, or atomic power, it is a force so deep, sealed and hidden and is the mystery of nature itself. This small and dark planet is the symbol for condensed and concentrated power. We can imagine him as Mr. Hyde who is essentially out of control and a kind of monster, but a riveting psychological portrayal of the dark side of human nature. The planet Pluto is an archetypal energy, which represents our own repressed desires and fears, living in an internal junkyard of rejected feelings. While Pluto is often seen as something of a psychic threat and something to be feared, it could potentially hold all of the life’s treasured secrets within the depths of the universe. Pluto also relates to the act of metamorphosis, which means massive change, and we must transform at the depths of our being. This means that we need to muster the strength to stand on transformative ground, embrace new knowledge, even if our old ego is feeling distraught as it is dying unto its new role and existence.

According to Richard Tarnas;

Pluto: the archetype of primordial energy, the universal life force which impels all evolution and transformation. Pluto represents the principle of power itself, of elemental force, of primal libido and aggression, and is essentially identical to Freud’s notion of the id. It is the Dionysian energy of life, the Serpent power, the Kundalini. It compels, empowers, overwhelms, transforms; it destroys and resurrects. Pluto governs the instincts and the forces of nature. It rules the biological processes of birth, sex, and death, and at its deepest level it involves the mystery of death and rebirth. Pluto rules upheaval, breakdown and decay, but also regeneration and the purifying fire of catharsis. It reflects the archetypal Underworld–the dark, mysterious, and often terrifying reality which lurks beneath the surface of things, beneath our ego and societal conventions and the veneer of civilization, and which is periodically unleashed with great destructive and transformative force. Many of the problematic instincts that lie deep within the human psyche, such as murderous hatred, violent jealousy, compulsive greed and lust and so forth, reflect the activity of Pluto: this is Freud’s broiling cauldron of the instincts. Pluto is visible in the elemental power of a volcanic eruption, of a devouring lion, of a war, of an orgasm, of a mother in the climactic stages of giving birth. It is present in all violent, purgatorial discharge of pent-up energies–from the Earth as in an earthquake, or from the human body and psyche as in therapy or in a psychotic break. Pluto is in many ways the polar complement of Neptune–together they represent the great polarities of Dionysus and Apollo, the chthonic and the transcendent, the volcanic and the oceanic, nature and spirit, instinct and imagination. And, like Neptune, Pluto is unfathomable. In terms of the archetypal birth process, Pluto corresponds to the stage in which the baby is being powerfully expelled from within the mother’s body in a life-and-death struggle of bloody biology, when the erotic and aggressive instincts are being aroused to the utmost. Pluto thus has two sides, both expressed in the processes of Nature: a destructive side, personified as Kali, the Devouring Mother, and a creative side, personified as Shakti, the universal divine energy that impels all life and evolution. Pluto is what Schopenhauer and Nietzsche called the universal Will–at one level seeming to reflect only blind, driving instinct, at another possessing all the evolutionary intelligence of Nature, the divine Shakti. Pluto is Nature itself, life eternally transforming and overcoming itself in an immense evolutionary dynamic. It has been said that in the course of life we are all consumed by life’s fire: the only question–and this is where our challenge lies–is whether we will be deformed or perfected by that process.

When a planet forms a major aspect to Pluto, that second planetary archetype tends to be substantially intensified and empowered, but sometimes to a compulsive extreme. It may be a source of challenge in one’s life, outer or inner, but also of profound personal transformation. When Pluto aspects a planet in a birth chart, an element of ourselves, signified by the aspected planet, becomes the battlefield between conscious and unconscious forces, linking heaven and hell, light and dark. A planetary function in aspect with Pluto must undergo hellish experiences, often through internal and external confrontations in order to expose limitations, and for growth to occur. Through these purifying fires, the planet can become a vehicle towards enlightenment. Pluto can be esteemed as a power which, although ruthless, serves an evolutionary purpose. Pluto stands at the extreme edge of our solar system and symbolizes opposite forces. Natal aspects involving Pluto point to psychological arenas in which we meet the dark within us, and we can invoke the magical wand which can heal when we use a great deal of honesty with ourselves. Along with some deep probing and intense examinations, there are often power struggles involved, yet there is the potentiality of something new and much more powerful emerging that will benefit us in every way possible way imagined.