This article has been updated from an earlier post.
Last week I saw a client (let’s call her Sylvia) whose birthchart demonstrates the power of Pluto. Sylvia’s Sun is in the hard-working sign of Capricorn: Capricorns typically have a difficult life when they’re young but because they’re such hard workers (ruled by the Celestial Taskmaster himself, Saturn) they can be quite powerful as they age and incorporate life’s lessons. She also has a Grand Trine including Mars, Jupiter and her Moon, bestowing a sense of inner trust (Jupiter/Moon) that life has meaning as well as a dynamic will (Mars/Jupiter) for self-preservation (Mars/Moon). These are the tools that have helped her to navigate a difficult life that has been Pluto’s gift to her. Note to astrologers: to protect her privacy I will not be posting her chart.
Pluto in the astrological chart shows where we come face to face with the underworld of our emotions: fear, compulsion, obsession. Pluto often shows where we face the cold reality of death in order to come to a greater understanding of life. Astrologer Liz Greene says that Pluto represents the essential life force in nature that often must destroy in order to survive. The power of Pluto is that basic, and that intense. When we’re in the middle of a Plutonic disaster (our spouse leaves us, we lose our job, our house burns down, our cat dies) we are lost in the underworld of our fear and the pain of loss that is Pluto’s realm. But once the storm has passed we find ourselves rebuilding the wreckage of our lives with a new sense of empowerment that comes from having faced our fears and survived.
Pluto is conjunct Sylvia’s ascendant (persona and identity) within one degree, exactly opposite Venus (relating to others and love of self) which is therefore conjunct the descendant (cusp of the seventh house of partnership). Any planet on the ascendant (rising) expresses itself through the personality, and Pluto rising often is a person who is intimidating and can be a bit of a bully. However, when two planets are opposite (180 degrees) each other, often the individual will express the energy of the planet at one end but project the other planet onto others in her life. This is particularly true when we are dealing with two planets in opposition that fall on the ascendant/descendant axis of personal identity/relationship identity.
Sylvia was born into a family of violence. Her father beat her on a regular basis, blaming her for deserving it. She grew up in fear for her life as her father, embodying Pluto on the identity axis, annihilated her sense of Self. Her Venus is on the cusp of the seventh house, making her extremely attractive and desirable and she easily escaped her home life by marrying at a very young age. Unfortunately, she attracted the exact dynamic to her and the beatings continued, this time from her husband. She escaped again from this marriage and since then has worked hard to learn from her experiences and make choices that will empower her in ways that she never knew.
Saturn, that Celestial Taskmaster, squares Chiron (wounding and healing) in her chart which has throughout her life forced her to confront her pain and learn its lessons and the Grand Trine in air signs (the ultimate harmonious chart dynamic) has been a tool through which she can process her experiences and learn from them. (Oprah Winfrey also has a Grand Trine in air signs.)
Now, in midlife, Sylvia is a woman with a strong resolve and a great deal of personal power, although she is still working on facing her fears. Her chart is a good representation for the Plutonic dynamics of fear, violence and ultimate empowerment. It also demonstrates how powerfully Pluto operates in the birth chart.