For the “Theft” of Persephone

Hades/Pluto was not a bad god.  However, after the fall of Olympos – Zeus/Jupiter’s mountain domain – it came to drawing straws for the rulership over the primary domains of our known world . . . between Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto for who would rule the three realms:

  1. Earth/Oceans and underwater streams – Poseidon/Neptune
  2. Sky / the heavens – 0uranos/Uranus
  3. Underworld / place of the dead or “liminal” spaces – Hades/Pluto

Hades drew the short straw, thus he was assigned to guard the underworld of the Shades.)

Liminality literally means “thresholding” . . . the limn in Greek is the crossover place between one realm and another, even the entryway to your home.  The threshold itself is both a holy and a liminal space where anything can happen. Both in transitional spaces between the upper world – the limn – and the underworld.  We know this from our own experience AND also in horoscopes

One example, in Rabbinic Judaism, a mezuzah is affixed to the doorpost of Jewish homes to fulfill the mitzvah.  There is a Biblical commandment to “write the words of God on the gates and doorposts of your house” (Deuteronomy 6:9) in part to guard against Hades crossing the threshold.

Liminality is important in all of astrology because everything is changing all the time, and thus, there is a cautionary note about prediction – speaking of what is to become – and we must be rigorous and adhere to Natural Law and not predict, but describe.

Be a scribe, not a forecaster.  Pluto demands a form of invisibility or shape shifting, and Pluto is a shape-shifter, the holder of all the wealth of our earth mother, Gaia.  In astrology we must be fluid and “nobody” in our work and consulting practice.  We are spokespersons, representatives and not divine, but human . . . and must come to astrology in that form and mentality.   Pluto demands that we shed our assumed “identity” in the interpretation and client work.

A short story here:

Being “nobody” when “in transition” under the transit of Pluto it is important to the ego (“I am” in Latin).   From οὔτις “nobody” or “no one”) is an often used pseudonym for this state.

In Homer’s Odyssey, when Odysseus escapes the giant monster, he calls back up to him that he is “Nobody”– Outis) BUT he blows it when he thinks he is safe on his ship, and calls back up to the giant, “I am Odysseus son of Laertes”.  Thus he broke the rule of Pluto in transit by hubris.  When in transition never “name yourself” . . .

. . . and by “ego” – literally, “ego sum/I am” –  he is then in deep trouble.  Which is why Odysseus was cursed on his return to Ithaka from the Trojan War. His sail back to Ithaca is full of disruption, disguise, and seduction and took him 10 years to get home (should be 10 days really by sailing from Troy to Ithaca)

And being “nobody” is essential when dealing with Pluto – the highest intent of a transit to the horoscope from Pluto is to lose Ego and gain Self.

Going back to the origins of the domains of the three top gods, and the result of their drawing straws to see which domain each god would rule.

It was Pluto who drew the short straw, initiating him into the place of the Shades – the Dead – who lived in a netherworld somewhere under the Earth.   As they awaited reincarnation to another life, Hades/Pluto guarded and held domain there . . .

Hermes was the god who winged the dead down into the mouth of the underworld, and then was greeted by Hekate, who initiated them into the realm of the “in between” – of being NOBODY

Thus making Pluto the guardian of people in transition and in a state of ‘death of the body’ but not of the soul.

Pluto is a planet who being eccentric in its orbit – which is 17 degrees inclined to ecliptic for the most extreme reaches of its eccentric orbit.

Its orbital period is about 248 years. Its orbital characteristics are substantially different from those of the rest of the planets, which follow nearly circular orbits around the Sun creating a flat reference plane called the ecliptic  – our home planet earth. (With the exception of Venus, which is inclined at its greatest elongation, 7 degrees from the ecliptic).

The planet Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 (Marie Curie the discoverer of radium died in 1931 from “pernicious enemia” from radioactive elements – Uranus square her Pluto) and also it brought with it the first global “Great Depression”)

Another fascinating fact is that Pluto spends the shortest time in the sign of Scorpio (Nov 1983 –Nov 1995) and 35 years in the sign of Taurus.

Perhaps Scorpio can only take 12 years of Pluto transiting!!  On a personal note, while living in London, I had that long transit over my all personal planets and the Sun/Ascendant, which were tremendously productive years, but my two closest friends and colleagues and my father all died during this time – and I was disinherited by him because I became an astrologer, not a physician  . . . so death has no dominion.

Persephone rising to greet her mother Demeter from Hades

The myths are deeply embedded in our astrological world, in the horoscope.  The gods’ domains are clearly defined by relationship to each other.  According to Robert Graves, the mythographer, who popularized that concept of in the 20th century, Hecate was the “original” triple moon goddess and guards the entrance to Hades.  Thus she is a partner to Hades an intermediary between their two worlds.

Often Pluto is seen as a “negative” astrological force, and indeed, it can be one of the most dire planets in the horoscope – in extremis it can indeed draw one into the dark corners of the psyche (the underworld of our Soul).

The seduction of Persephone, in later Roman myths was typically depicted as the “Rape of Proserpine” – however, there is evidence of her longing as an adolescent schoolgirl for adventure and a lover and the seductive scent of the narcissus drew her away from her fellow students and the rest is ancient mythology.

I often think Hades/Pluto was lonely in the underworld with only the Shades for company and Hekate as guardian of the entry to his place of the dead, who wandered about, awaiting incarnation in another life to come.  Thus in astrology Pluto also rules transition, mystery, seduction, abduction and loss of wits!  There are times when our wits fall to the ground leaving us witless and thus vulnerable to the gods of the night.

Pluto in astrological terms has a tremendous power that can arise from the deepest unconscious into our minds and hearts, and in the horoscope the position of Pluto is often hard for astrologers to “interpret” because Hades/Pluto does not give up information easily, and thus as a planet in our solar system, and in the horoscope he is the “Planet of Soul and Mystery Schools”.

Persephone was seduced by the sickly sweet scent of the narcissus flower, and was sniffing it when Hades arrived to take her into the underworld to be his consort. She would fall in love with him, and they married . . . however the subsequent permanent winter brought by Persephone’s mother, Demeter, as revenge for the abduction, became unmanageable for Gaia – Earth – and thus Demeter and Pluto got together, and made a deal.

Persephone would remain half time in Hades with Pluto and the Shades and at spring would rise into the upper air to be with her mother, Demeter, partaking in a “mystical dance/ritual” which is noted especially in Jung’s psychology . . . (the realm of the “unknown” drew Jung strongly . . . There are 20 volumes of Jung’s work all of which address the Great Mysteries).  (there are no classical references to exactly what Demeter’s mystery school was – it is a mystery)

And Jeffrey Wolf Green’s first book was “Pluto” and he has 16 degrees of Scorpio rising, as do I, and also I have Sun/Mercury/Asc  Square Pluto in the 9th house w Saturn and Mars.

I gather Hades was rather a sexy and mysterious figure – possibly dangerous – inducing both a longing for intimacy and fear in the minds and hearts of the ancients (and some contemporary astrology students as well).

When Persephone was abducted or seduced or voluntarily entered into the underworld she was an innocent – so when Hades roared up in his golden chariot and “kidnapped” Persephone to be his wife in the realm of the Shades, she became a valuable item to Pluto, especially for her tender care for the “in between” – the Shades – awaiting their reincarnation.

Pluto, the planet, was not actually sighted till 1930, but “just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there” – as history and cycles proves this to be true.

ClydeTombaugh, the astronomer developed a massive telescope toward the end of 1929.  On February 18, 1930, he viewed the distant planet on plates taken on the 23rd and 29th of January. The discovery was announced March 13, 1930 — perchance on Percival Lowell’s birthday.  (Lowell himself had been convinced of an outermost planet in 1905 and spent the rest of is life calculating for a trans Neptunian planet . . .)

Clyde Tombaugh claimed it as a planet in our solar system.  Distant, yes, eccentric, yes, secretive (not visible till 1930) yes, and due to his persona, has that powerful mythology to go with the planet-god, Hades/Pluto.

Pluto in our horoscopes speaks to these myths, and can seduce one into dark and smoky realms where the living dead are.  We don’t have to leave our home to encounter Pluto, we are not bad people to have Pluto in our horoscopes, we ALL have Pluto somewhere in our charts.  We all hold the unseen mystery in our Souls.  The Soul holds all, and it is revealed to us at astonishing times in our lives. The Soul rises to assuage fear, very often occurring with the transit of Pluto aspecting a natal planet.

As a Scorpio person myself, with Sun/ASC square Pluto (and Mars/Saturn), I know the places that Hades rules – and the agencies of his attention can be both exciting, and dangerous . . . physically, emotionally and spiritually.   HOWEVER it is also tremendously empowering, allowing us to find great gifts in the transit of Pluto, and in our natal Pluto in the horoscope.

There are many ways in which we embody Pluto and project it out onto others, OR introject it from the collective unconscious or from a situation, a person, a place or an event.   This can result in a depression, or an illness related to hidden issues within the Soul.   Psyche is the Greek word for “soul” and thus it is an ever-evolving container for all our own issues, passions, actions and results.

Spiritual relationships with our own Pluto can be made . . . we can “marry” Pluto and thus rule over the domain of our own hidden realms and dark corners in our psyche.   Our “inner Demeter” can make a deal with Pluto to release the love, beauty and youth of our inner life as well, bringing peace to the Soul through hard work and consciousness of one’s power and lack thereof!

Although the unexpected – the unseen – still arises, it is to our advantage to integrate the Pluto/Scorpio agency into our conscious mind.  I am unsure if we ever can fully embrace the power and intensity of Pluto but with contemplation of it and our charts we get a glimpse of what he holds for us.

So there is always a feeling of “something not quite done, complete, finished or fully embodied” with Pluto – this is because we never have a full return of it, as it transits from its natal place around the horoscope wheel . . .

People with “strong” Pluto in their horoscope are either voluntarily drawn to or abducted into the underworld of the Soul.   Pluto does not become as “conscious” in our lives as all the other planets . . . his realm is often hated and feared by humans, and thus can be projected out onto others quite easily; in that way we can Karmically attract dark people, things, places, ideas, work, AND particularly in close, intimate relationships where two can become one.

Pluto in relationships is a force to become aware of so that the positive side, the side where he is actually the caretaker of the dead and the newly wed . . . A marriage of sorts must be made between Pluto and our self in our horoscope.  This takes conscious, serious work, just as it took a lot of work to be born.  Also, Pluto is part of life that shouldn’t be ignored, but rather, encountered and integrated bit by piece into one’s whole Self and system of the horoscope.

Pluto’s placement in the natal chart, and it aspects from other planets show where the mind, body and soul are drawn to find something different, something risky, dangerous and with a whiff of death (to the ego or the Self or one’s “old character”)  We are always shedding the dead in us, and being human we can try to resist – but it will out regardless of suppression.

In the natal chart Pluto brings us to our knees on occasion either to pray or elevate him, or to find that place in our Soul that is deathless . . . and thus feel a transcendental high from the power of the positive Plutonian force.

That may sound contradictory from what I spoke of earlier, but it is in perfect harmony with being in-carnation . . . in the flesh.

Our soul intent can appear to be in contrast to Pluto’s placement in the horoscope, but it is in fact, the most significant planet short of the Sun . . . because the Sun in Scorpio or in hard aspect to Pluto draws one into the place of high excitement and risk!   As I said, transits of Pluto are hard to predict, because they are long, and Pluto is a secret . . . so we have to join the mystery school while experiencing a long Pluto transit to our natal chart.

Scorpionic individuals demonstrate and digest this seduction into the depth of the unconscious regularly . . . being able to rise out of the realm of Hades into the upper air is not only desirable but also necessary for consciousness.  Here we might invoke Hekate, who guards the door to Hades.  It is not known if anyone but Persephone leaves Hades unaltered . . .

The more conscious we can make ourselves of our Pluto placement in our chart, and the house that it rules and planets therein – the house with Scorpio on the cusp – the more we find our personal psychological and spiritual depth, power, control, and inner relationship with power. Plato says in The Republic:  “ . . . it is possible for the reasoning part to rule because it is wise, and has to use forethought for the whole soul; and it is proper for the high-spirited part to be both its ally and its subject.”

Speaking of which, the house that has Scorpio ruling its cusp, is a container for Pluto’s force and energy.   If that house contains a planet or planets, then Pluto becomes the dispositor of the planet, and thus collaborates with the planet/s in Scorpio.

Pluto then becomes the ruler of those planets and the connection is cosmic, yes, but also it is about conscious learning about “the nature of things”.  Hard work and accepting our lessons is what Pluto demands from all disposited planets.  Basically, it is as if to say, “Hades come into my heart and soul bringing with you all your attributes good or ill; be they frightening, sad or just plain ignorant so I may empower myself by that enveloping.”