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 by Eric Francis | Daily through June 10

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Above, the Pluto/Charon binary planet system, first members of the Kuiper Belt, discovered, respectively, in 1930 and 1978. Photo courtesy Astronomy Picture of the Day/NASA.

Friday, June 7, 2002 | The Edge

Pluto, to most astrologers, represents the edge of reality, the bottom line. Some consider it the ultimate planetary force with which we must reckon. Others consider it the planetary representative of the soul, the deepest or most fundamental level of human existence. A confrontation with Pluto is viewed as a kind of ultimate test, a catharsis or trip to 'purgatory', and always, a turn in the plot line of life. It can be a turn so distinct that it's as if we reincarnate.

To be sure, this is, by astrological standards, a generous view. If an astrologer is not accustomed to processing shadow material, particularly their own, they are likely to project a horror story of some kind onto a Pluto transit and offer it up as a 'prediction'. It may turn out to be just that, but that's because, for the most part, prediction is an act of creative visioning. If you've had an experience of an astrological reading that involved Pluto and in which you were given only or mostly bad news, it's a good idea to get a second opinion.

Under Pluto transits, we have an encounter with a reality deeper than we've ever met before. If there is a time when everything in life comes up for total reevaluation, it is under a strong Pluto transit. Yes, they are difficult, challenging times in life, and it can seem that everything that we held dear has changed or been taken away. But you could say that everything that is not in attunement (or is it atonement) with your soul's purpose, and usually you know it in advance, will be cleared out of the way. Astrologers just about all have great respect for Pluto, but for some, it's mostly a matter of fear. And that fear is often misguided. If you watch, you see: Pluto always clears the way for something or someone better.

Pluto represents the honoring of necessity. It's a lot like Saturn used to be, a kind of uncompromising meeting with the inevitable. But these days, we have have all kinds of tricks to get around Saturn. So we need a more firm definition of the edge. Presently, at around the age of 36, people go through an aspect experience called Pluto square Pluto, which is another way of saying that Pluto reaches the 90-degree point to its natal (birth) position. This transit unfolds over about two years, and the age range can be (in the current era) anywhere between 35 and 38. (In other eras, as Pluto moves nearly 4,000 million miles from the Sun and moves through the signs as slow as once per 20 years, it can happen toward the end of a human life span.)

So, to review. If the Saturn return, which unfolds typically between 29 and 33 years old, came with what felt like major changes, restructuring, marriage or divorce, a promotion or a bankruptcy, Pluto square Pluto works in a way that is entirely removed from the human world, but which has effects in the human world. Saturn knows all about life on the planet. Pluto, it seems, could not give a damn what, why or how we do things here, and kudos for that. Pluto just says deal with it. But the question is, deal with what? And another question is, how is this planet, this cycle of nature or of life, so powerful?

And here is a good one. Martha Lang Wescott points out that we will inevitably miss Pluto transits when they're over. Why?

Astronomy gives us a clue. For most of its orbit, Pluto is the most distant planet. But for about 20 years (most recently, between February 7, 1979 and February 11, 1999) Pluto crosses the orbit of Neptune and moves in a tad closer to the Sun (orbit image). Much like Chiron crosses inside the orbit of Saturn, Pluto penetrates what for most people is the actual edge of reality, vague though it is: the world of illusions, delusions, deception, drugs and dreams represented by the blue gas giant planet named for the lord of waters.

Now, the mythical Neptune was actually much more than that. As the god who never abandoned humanity (akin to Ulmo of the J.R.R. Tolkien mythologies), we can thank him for answering many prayers. But just as we've turned God the Father of Christian mythology into a mean, even vicious or at times just merely negligent and uncaring archetype who allegedly performs a human sacrifice ritual on his most beloved Son, we typically live, in our culture, with a corrupted version of Neptune. We corrupt him through lies and unmitigated addiction. We are told a lot of lies, and the worst damage to ourselves is done simply by believing them. If we are relatively honest people and live unquestioningly, that is a often form of pathological self-deception.

As for unmitigated addiction, I refer to conditions where alcohol becomes a substitute for food, love, work and play. As for illusions, most of what we do to Neptune is, for example, make television a substitute for creative experience, thinking, reading, writing and human company. We make religion a substitute for religious experience. We do a lot of substitution and that's an interesting keyword I've never seen applied to Neptune.

I don't mean to blame you for this. We are trained to live this way. If I said more money is spent on advertising in a single year than was ever spent on education in human history, most people would believe me. It's not true, but it's a close enough metaphor.

Pluto, however, doesn't stand for any of this. To the extent that we live a corrupted experience of Neptune, Pluto will seem to orbit in and 'destroy' our lives. But what's being destroyed are merely what mystics refer to as illusions -- everything we believe that is not true, everything to which we think we are devoted, but to which we are really enslaved. Pluto is a solid, dense and most of all focused element of consciousness that seems to burn through everything unlike itself. If nothing else gets our attention, Pluto will. If Pluto does not, we might not live through the transit.

Our relationship to Pluto is based on our relationship to Neptune. The more we believe that which is not true, the more Pluto will come in and play cleanup.

No discussion of Pluto would be complete without the Scorpio-sex connection. Pluto is usually associated with that incomparable undeniable hormonal howl that makes us want to Git Down. In this respect, it is a bottom line, and it is the perfect grease-cutter for toxic Neptune, which fills us with images, illusions and various unrealities, particularly, in our culture, the rampant notion that religion or spirit somehow denies sexual reality.

So now, I have a question for you. Pluto is considered to be the first member of something called the Kuiper Belt, a whole region of small planets that can, according to some astrologers, work a lot like Pluto. A whole mess of them are called Plutinos, and if they follow the Law of Pluto, the smaller they are, and the slower they are, the more powerful they are. They are being discovered so fast, there is not even time to name them.

But I ask you: what did we ever do to deserve this?

Monday: Solar Eclipse

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