This image is The Tower card from the Glastonbury Tarot, a much less frightening image than the Tower in other decks. The Tower in the Tarot signifies destruction and rebuilding of the established order, which is exactly what Pluto in Capricorn is all about.
It’s too easy to get caught up in the distress of change and the sense that things are falling apart around us, and we often forget that from the ashes there is a new and usually improved reality that arises in its place. That is why I like this Phoenix image representing the emergence of something new out of the ashes of destruction.
Part I: Introduction
Although Pluto is a small planet (in fact, it is now classified as a dwarf planet) it packs a powerful punch. Pluto represents death and endings and the breakdown of the structures in our life that are required in order to bring transformation and fresh beginnings. Pluto brings us face to face with the ultimate reality of life and, watching over us like a shamanic guardian, destroys whatever stands in the way of our soul’s ultimate destination.
Pluto’s passage through the signs brings with it a compulsive fascination in the issues denoted by that sign. He ruthlessly exposes the darkness that lies at the core of the sign’s archetypes and, destroying the old order, demands that we rebuild on the ashes of the old. Like the Phoenix bird with which it is associated, Pluto dies and is regenerated to begin anew.
Pluto has been traveling through Sagittarius since 1995, bringing with it wars (Pluto) over religion and ideology (Sagittarius), as well as “culture wars” and the growing divide between groups that think differently, all Sagittarius archetypes. Sagittarius rules the media and entertainment, and the rise of a new compulsivity in celebrity journalism has grown up since Pluto entered Sagittarius, with the internet spawning a huge new gossip market. Sagittarius carries with it a nearly relentless optimism; ruled by Jupiter with its expansive need for growth, Pluto in Sagittarius has seen soaring home prices and a burgeoning stock market that seems to have no end. The “new economy” of the dot com era occurred under Pluto’s Sagittarian influence, as did the explosion of the vacation home market.
Pluto transits typically include a breakdown phase, where structures that no longer serve us are dismantled to make room for new structures that are more in line with our spiritual evolution. I like to think of these periods as course corrections, where our guides or gods decide that certain changes are required. If we understand the process and can surrender to it with trust, this can be an exhilarating time of transformation and empowerment. If we resist and hold on to the past it can be full of tragedy and pain.
Capricorn is the sign of the builder, the achiever. Capricorn is rooted in the material world and understands that life on earth requires a practical approach to the matters of earning a living. There is also a drive for success; to climb the highest mountains like the goat which is it’s symbol. For Capricorn, the ends justify the means and achievement of one’s goals is the important thing and it is able to maintain a powerful focus.
Its rulership by Saturn gives respect for discipline and authority and Capricorn has tremendous respect for governmental structures and the stability of a moral system. However, Saturn also bestows its tendency towards pessimism and lack of humor as all things personal are sacrificed for the goal. There is often a tendency to prize material things above those of the emotional or spiritual realms, and this lack of balance can create a dry and miserable experience.
When Pluto goes through Capricorn we can expect the transformation of all things ruled by that sign – such as our religious institutions, halls of government and political structures, the way we inter our dead and take care of our old people, construction techniques and buildings, and how we handle ownership of property.
While Pluto takes 244 years to orbit the Sun, its elliptical orbit means that it doesn’t spend the same amount of time in each sign. For example, it only took twelve years to travel through Scorpio, but it took 26 years to get through Cancer and 19 years through Leo. Pluto will be in Capricorn until 2024, and this occurs at a time when our Capricornian structures are ripe for transformation. Industry (Capricorn) in developed and developing countries as become a major source of carbon emissions which threaten the survival of life on earth. The Catholic Church (Capricorn), rocked by sex scandals, is struggling for survival. The very way we do business (Capricorn) is being forever changed by the globalization of politics and the economy.
Part II: The Historical View
Pluto will enter Capricorn for the first time January 25, 2008 and will retrograde back into Sagittarius one final time on June 14. It will journey back into Capricorn on November 26, 2008 and remain there until January 21, 2024. For sixteen years, Pluto will engage in a process of breaking down and then rebuilding the structures on which we depend for a successful experience in the material world.
There is a natural evolution to the path of the planets through the zodiacal signs as each sign offers a completely different experience than the sign before. In Sagittarius, Pluto has been compulsively expansive and optimistic, intensifying religious fervor – all qualities of Sagittarius. In Capricorn, Pluto seeks to contract and solidify and build solid structures for society. In the process, the structures that already exist are broken down and irrevocably transformed
Pluto was last in Capricorn from November 1762 until December 1, 1778. Pluto deals with transformation of the political and economic realities of our world, and its entry into Capricorn marked the end of the Seven Years’ War in which France ceded Canada to Britain, but political unrest was felt throughout Europe as well as in the Colonies and this period marked a reconfiguration of many of the nations in the world. Catherine the Great acceded to the throne after the murder of her husband, perhaps at her own hand, and presided over wars with the Ottoman Empire that resulted in Russian acquisition of much of the Turkish lands. The first partition in Poland occurred during this period which split Poland into three sections owned by Russia, Prussia and Austria. Britain traded Cuba to Spain in exchange for Florida; Parliament passed the Stamp Act to pay for the wars that began the Colonial rebellion that resulted in the American Revolution.
The thirst for revolution in France, England and Russia stemmed from a reaction to the breakup and reconfiguration of world nations (Capricorn) that followed the colonial expansion (Sagittarius) that preceded it. Pluto’s previous passage through Capricorn back in 1516-1533 c.e. was preceded by the original exploration of the New World that gave rise to the later Colonial ideals. Once the original explorers had returned to the courts of Europe, under Pluto in Capricorn those countries set out to conquer the New World and create new colonies that were subservient to the European rulers. The rise of anti-Catholic sentiment that brought about the rise of Protestants under Pluto in Sagittarius gave way to Martin Luther’s formalizing his revolt with his nailing his Thesis to the door of the Church in 1517 under Pluto in Capricorn, founding a new structure of worship, the Lutheran Church.
Part III: What can we expect in the future?
Although Pluto will enter Capricorn for the first time in January 2008, it will retrograde back into the late degrees in Sagittarius in June 2008 where it will make one final sweep through the Sagittarian issues of religion, philosophy, travel, ideology, journalism, optimism, and general expansion. Throughout 2008 it will be virtually stationary, traveling less than three degrees during this period, from 1 degree Capricorn back through 28 degrees Sagittarius. Because it will be stationary for so long, where its influence is the most powerful, I would expect a great deal of intensity and forced transformation during this period. This will be particularly intense for those of us who have planets in the late degrees of the mutable signs (Virgo, Pisces, Sagittarius, Gemini) or the early degrees of the cardinal signs (Capricorn, Cancer, Aries Libra).
Pluto causes endings and new beginnings – it forces us to surrender as it rebuilds us from the inside out. I suspect that throughout next year the intense optimism of Pluto in Sagittarius will battle with the necessity for realism of Pluto in Capricorn, and it will be a while before the economic problems really hit home. Mars will oppose Pluto in early March, which will create some fireworks of aggression and confrontation, and Saturn will make its second trine to Pluto in April which will ease the challenge of the new requirements of Capricorn Pluto which wants to tear down and rebuild the structures of our life and planet and intensify the power bases that govern society.
Once Pluto is firmly entrenched in Capricorn beginning in December 2008, we will begin to really see it at work. This of course will follow the US presidential election in November 2008. Pluto seeks to focus and intensify as well as break down and regenerate. The structures of our world keep societies in order and functioning: churches, governments, buildings – all of these are ruled by Capricorn. But so are bridges and tunnels, and the entire infrastructure upon which we live, particularly in urban areas, are likely to experience a severe breakdown while Pluto travels through Capricorn. Underground transportation, under the domain of the god of the underworld, could become a battleground as Pluto often brings warfare or death in the areas of the sign through which it passes (such as September 11th during Pluto in Sagittarius, where air travel became a conveyance of death and total world transformation).
During the passage of Pluto, we see extremes and compulsions in the area of life associated with the sign through which Pluto travels, and with the Capricornian association with governments and government buildings I would expect a worldwide attempt to solidify a global government and minimize individual liberties. Pluto deals with issues of power – on a personal level such as personal empowerment as well as with the power structures that govern all of humanity that fall under the rubric of the Capricorn theme. When Uranus enters Aries in 2010-2011, there will be a fervor as the pendulum swings back towards individual liberties. By the time Uranus forms a square to Pluto in Capricorn in 2012-2013 there will be tremendous cultural, social and political upheaval which will further transform governments and political structures.
Pluto’s reach will extend beyond governments, however. Capricorn also rules the elderly and end of life issues, and Pluto’s passage through Capricorn could transform the way we view the entire process of death and dying, including the disposal of the body after death.
Often Pluto’s passage through one sign is a reaction to Pluto’s passage through the previous sign, and in Capricorn there may be a reaction of the practical and materialistic Capricorn against the ideological idealism of Pluto’s travel through Sagittarius. An overdose of pragmatism could lead to the negativity and depression with which Capricorn is sometimes associated. Capricorn is associated with achievement and can be ruthless in its efforts to climb to the top, and we could see an increased obsession (Pluto) with climbing the ladder of success that leads to a breakdown in certain segments of society.
There is always a side to Pluto cycles, and in Capricorn we are likely to see an increase in stability and a more practical approach to economics and business than we saw under the Sagittarian influence. The inflated (Sag) bonuses for CEOs that we saw in recent years are likely a sign of the past as businesses and corporations become more concerned with Capricornian fundamentals than with Sagittarian appearance and image. Capricorn is essentially practical and prizes achievement above all else, which means achievement of real goals and objectives. Although Pluto in Capricorn will bring out secrets (Pluto) of governments and other political entities (Cap), there will be an increased focus on proficiency, skill, and a successful outcome rather than spin and propaganda of the Sagittarian era.
I don’t know about you, but all of that sounds to me like a great improvement and to which I am looking forward!