Pluto was first discovered on February 18th, 1930 at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona by a hired employee named Clyde Tombaugh. The owner of the observatory, Percival Lowell, had asked Tombaugh to continue research and observation of a potential Planet X. At age 23, Tombaugh found Pluto, though it wasn’t the Planet X Lowell had been searching for. The find was still very exciting. Many names were sent in for suggestion since the naming rights went to them. The three names up for running were Minerva, Cronus, and Pluto. Pluto won every vote. The person who sent in the suggestion for the name Pluto was an eleven year old girl named Venetia Burney who happened to be very interested in classical mythology. The name was partially inspired by the first two letters containing Percival Lowell’s initials. In 2006, on September 13th, Pluto was demoted from Planet to Minor Planet on the basis that a planet needs to meet the following three criteria:
- The object must be in orbit around the Sun.
- The object must be massive enough to be a sphere by its own gravitational force.
- And It must have cleared around its orbit.
Pluto failed to meet the third condition and was therefore demoted though in astrology, we still consider Pluto a planet.
Interestingly enough, when Pluto was discovered, genocide was running rampant in the world. It was the dominant theme in the 20th century from Auschwitz to Cambodia to Rwanda. The global population gained massive numbers and in turn was fuel for growing industrialism. It was also the Age of Oil, fighting and disputes over oil resulting in so many lives. The atomic bomb followed the discovery of Pluto, physically manifesting the poisonous and destructive selfishness rising in the world. It seemed Pluto was found in the midst of the destruction, also known as the clearing, of all the build up of unconscious debris. As years followed, the rebuilding process grows, but on a rickety platform. Mostly in the form of ideas and potentials butt at least the desire for change is about us. As with Pluto, many will hold onto the old ways with clenched fists. But Pluto will always win through. The hidden treasure will soon be discovered.
Pluto has an extremely eccentric orbit and has the longest orbit of all the major planets. It covers the entire zodiac in 248 years and spends 13 to 30 years in each sign. Most planets fit into the ecliptic rather well, but Pluto moves up to 17 degrees away from the ecliptic at certain times. Pluto retrogrades for 160 days at a time. 16 days before the retrograde period, and after, it is stationary, and the effects are setting in and gaining momentum. Pluto is currently retrograde and began its ‘backward motion’ on April 14th of this year, and will continue traveling back until September 23 of this year. It is in the sign of Capricorn meaning that any planets you have in Capricorn will be highlighted, as well as the house Capricorn rules in your chart. Any cardinal signs are also affected.
The main mythological story that coincides with Pluto is that of Hades. Hades is well known as the god of the underworld. His queen was forced to marry to him because of his obsession with her, and Persephone was brought down to the underworld against her will. Though the circumstances were not ideal for her, she used them to the best of her ability, got to know the underworld very well, and spent her time helping guide souls through. This brought her a sense of meaning and was the ‘gift’ she received in the darkness. She was essentially a guiding light.
In ancient times, speaking the name Hades was considered bad luck. They used other names if needing to mention him, including the name Trophonius which meant nourishment. This is because Hades was known as the giver of wealth and nourishment to the soul. Though Hades was feared, he was not given offerings because he was already known as ‘the wealthy one’. Often times people were buried with their most valuable resources (relating to the Scorpio, Taurus cusp) and this is how Hades receives his riches.
Pluto has five known moons. The largest of the five is Charon. In Greek mythology, Charon works between the worlds of the living and the dead ferrying the newly deceased across a river into the underworld. He collected a coin as payment, and if no coin was buried with the individual, they were forced to wander the shores. The river that Charon brought the souls across is called Styx. This is another moon of Plutos. The other three moons are Nix, Hydra, and Kerberos. Nix is the Greek goddess of darkness and night and is also the mother of Charon. Kerberos is the name of the three headed dog that guards Hades’ gate to the underworld. He is friendly when entering, but vicious when attempting to leave. Hydra is named after a highly poisonous serpent with many heads that guarded the entrance to waters of the underworld. According to legend, when one head was cut off, two more grew in its place. Pluto definitely has a good team surrounding him as the king of the underworld.
Since Pluto travels to a new sign of the zodiac very slowly, it is considered a generational planet, and casts a generational influence. Though it still affects us personally and can manifest in our charts on an individual level, it’s useful to look at Pluto generation by generation to record its influence over the masses.
The Pluto in Cancer generation started in 1914 and continued until 1939. Pluto in Cancer is extremely focused on personal security and emotional ties to it. This time delved into the age of psychology and Freud’s groundbreaking ideas on psychoanalysis.
The Pluto in Leo generation began mid 1939 and went until 1957. This is the generation that brought us the hippies, rock n roll, and protests against the government’s way of working. This is expected with the deep power of Pluto meeting the individual, creative powers of Leo- a desire for change, a desire for meeting the individual’s needs. Most ‘grew out’ of this phase and ended up conforming anyway, giving up the idea that things could be the way they were hoping for.
The Pluto in Virgo generation follows, starting in 1957 and going until the early 1970s. They were the products of the hippie movement, still feelings its affects, both positively and negatively. They took the positive and refined the negative to blaze trails toward innovation. They began bringing about change, though in a more realistic way. They worked on perfecting that which fell through in the past, and adding what has promise for the future.
The Pluto in Libra generation started in the early 1970s and wrapped up around 1984. It is stated by astrologer Gregg Prescott that this generation is learning how to form new types of partnerships and human bonds- that which breaks away from the traditional view. He also states that many in this generation hold exceptional artistic talent.
The natives born with Pluto in Scorpio were first born in 1983 and last born in 1995. These are the children who became acquainted with the darkness of Pluto early on. Most can see the decay in the way the world currently works, and can see the light beyond that decay, and how to push past it for new growth. They are the ones pushing through the old paradigm into the new.
The Pluto in Sagittarius generation, born first in 1995 and last in 2008, are the ones that will take the vision of the previous generations and expand that which holds truth and potential, and leave what doesn’t far behind. They are the one’s bringing about new philosophies and honing in on old but valid ones. They will have the drive to act.
The current generation, the Pluto in Capricorn generation started in 2008 and will go until 2024. These will be the ones that put the final decisions into place, and rebuild the new way of life. That which was before unfathomable, will be doable by this generation.
The position that Pluto sits in your chart opens up the shadow world in your own personal psyche. It is the abyss inside your mind, the gate to the underworld. Most tend to try and avoid it, but Pluto continues to show up, even more so when you try to bury him. He’s not all bad though- as an ancient text states “In the darkness of this black is hidden the light of lights”. This is indicative of Pluto- the hidden treasure buried beneath the rubble. Pluto eliminates that which is not needed to get to the core. And in that core we find what we truly need to flourish, all muck aside. Pluto can be easily seen as a callas. Constant wear and use of the skin on a certain area leads to a callas, and the callas becomes hardened and (metaphorically speaking) industructable. Pluto works in the same way- it wears down that which is weak and unneeded, and builds up strength to deal with the darkness. It posses intense will power and stay power. It is unwavering and constant. Where Pluto graces our chart we may find ourselves constantly under attack- but it is only to build our strength and rid our weakness.
With each house the meaning can be taken in many different ways. In my own personal studies I’ve seen the angular houses as well as the 8th and 12th houses as bringing out the strongest manifestations of Pluto. House 8 of course is where Pluto feels at home. It is where his throne sits as it rules death, sex, and regeneration. Pluto here feels fit to rule as he pleases and is on constant duty sending hard lessons to the native in order to either repay karma or learn things they would have shrugged off otherwise. This placement can result in difficulties surround sex, death, inheritance, and even mental illness. The psychological nature of the individual is constantly under transformation.
In short- the first house shows the giving up of old ways and building up of new ones many times over. The native tends to feel intensely and go into things intensely, breaking down and rebuilding themselves often. The second house can show lessons regarding finances or personal values- this person may be obsessive over resources or feel the need to be in control of their own resources not relying on anyone else. Values are often clenched onto until the native goes through a transformation and decides on new values. Sometimes the clenching is so hard the transformation backs up and causes problems. The third house can show a strong desire to share what they feel and how they see. Possible difficulty with siblings or early childhood. The fourth house with Pluto inside of it can show a difficult family life. The internal nature of this individual is often repressed if the childhood was negative. If positive, this person can be an awesome healer, helping others release their past demons. The fifth house Pluto can show difficulty in short term relationships or possibly even finding joy in every day life. It’s possible that the creativity of this person flourishes and they can express Pluto through their art, writing, or other creative outlets. The 6th house Pluto native tends to have a difficult time working under someone. They may have health problems, have a commanding boss, or find work stressful. Every day may seem like a chore. The key is to find something to do on a daily basis that makes them feel fulfilled and like they’re making a difference. The 9th house native may be very fascinated in philosophy or religion. These people can be dogmatic in their beliefs, but they can also be the ones that fight for the underdog and to cherish experiences of any kind. The 10th house Pluto can show someone in desire of control, or at least a reputation for power. This is a healer placement, showing the desire to help others heal themselves. The 11th house can have difficulty making friends or keeping friends. If they learn how to integrate it properly, the native is a guiding light for others. The 12th house Pluto shows the desire to integrate the Plutonian energy into the conscious and to alchemize the darkness into the light. This position rules dreams, and can come with it visions and prophecies.
In the words of Stephen Arroyo, “Plutonian energy always manifests in terms of opposites, for that which is truly transcendent can only be understood by ordinary consciousness in terms of opposites: the light and the dark, the joy and the suffering, the spectacular show followed by the inevitable backlash.”
He is most certainly right. It goes along with the idea that without sadness there would be no happiness. Without darkness, we would have no light. Duality is the main nature behind Pluto. Pluto is constantly growing and evolving, and its evolution is spawned by death and birth. Physically and metaphorically. Emotionally and spiritually. He rules all the domains of transformation. He observes, reflects, destroys, and creates. He obsesses, he coils, and he sheds. He steps into utter isolation unsure of what he may find. When one takes his hand and is lead into their own darkness, they can either run back scared, continue on endlessly, or die there. When one dies there, they are reborn knowing the way.
No one will ever tell you that Pluto is easy to deal with. He is a rough teacher, I’d dare say even more so than Saturn. Because he is ruthless in getting your soul to evolve and your consciousness to rise to higher levels. Once you go through Pluto’s boot camp, you will not come out unscathed- that is Neptune and possibly even Chiron’s job to patch you up and heal those wounds- but you will come out psychologically strong, emotionally brave, and spiritually indestructible. And at that point, Pluto will smile at you for the first time. And you can finally smile back, knowing you defeated the darkness, coming out and discovering it was never really even there at all.