For several years now, scientists have been threatening to remove Pluto’s “planet” status because it has turned out to be much smaller than originally thought when it was discovered in 1930. Scientists now believe that Pluto may be a member of the Kuiper belt band of rocky objects that orbit the Sun just past Neptune. The International Astronomers Union meets today in the Prague to decide whether Pluto can keep its title. If Pluto is declassified as a planet, will it lose its astrological symbolism as well?
Anyone who has ever monitored the timing of a transit of Pluto will recognize its power to effect great change in our lives. Pluto, regardless of its physical size, exerts an incredibly strong astrological influence. Because it moves so slowly, taking twelve years to pass through one astrological sign, its influence can encompass a long period of time which is another aspect to its power. Pluto’s influence is transpersonal – it forces us through the upheavals in our life that it creates to surrender the reins of our individual life and recognize that there is a larger process at work here. If Pluto is relegated to the realm of a Kuiper belt object, that may have a lot to say about the workings of other Kuiper belt objects as well.
Some astronomers propose reclassifying the planets into three divisions which does make some sense astrologically:
- terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars and Earth), which correspond astrologically to the personal functions of communication and information processing (Mercury), relating and affection (Venus), assertion of the individual will (Mars) and experience of the pleasures of the body (Earth).
- giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune), or the planets that govern the interaction of the individual with his/her environment through philosophy and religion (Jupiter), government and marriage (Saturn), individuation and idealism (Uranus) and transcendence of the material world (Neptune).
- dwarf planets and other objects, which would then include Pluto, Chiron, and perhaps Xena (2003 UB313).
Some astrologers are already working with Kuiper belt objects, calling them “Trans-Neptunians.” Chiron is one of these objects, and the astrological influence of Chiron is indisputable even though its astronomical importance has been minimized. Chiron opens our sensory awareness and brings us face to face with our emotional demons, forcing us to detach from what some have called the “pain body” in order to align more completely with our spiritual selves and deepen our inner wisdom. Other Kuiper belt objects more recently discovered are the so-called Xena, or 2003 UB313. Perhaps we will find over time that these bodies are associated with a more esoteric evolutionary process that goes beyond the personal planets or even the transpersonal planets into a realm that now we can only imagine.
One scientist said, “I don’t know about the public, but whatever happens, the astrologers will be upset about it.” That is no doubt true, but we would be better served by honoring the synchronicity of the unfolding body of scientific knowledge to see how we can expand our understanding of the planetary mysteries.