PLUTO AND THE EXPERIENCE OF DEPTH,
VOID AND RECENTERING
Many astrologers see in Pluto a symbol of materialism or a destructive and disintegrative power at work. Superficially they are correct, at least in the majority of present-day situations. Yet such an interpretation fails to reveal the essential character of the complex, universal process symbolized by the planet announced and discovered this century by American astronomers. This process releases what is required in order to reduce to essentials whatever has reached the end of a cycle; and the end of a cycle is also the moment at which reintegration as part of a larger cycle may occur. Pluto deals therefore with the possibility of rebirth; and obviously this implies the experience of what, for people of narrow understanding tends to take the form of "death."
Pluto does not insure rebirth. It simply refers to the prerequisites of rebirth, one of which is what we witness as a dying body, or as the psychomental disintegration of a personality or a whole culture. Pluto is not concerned with what the process may lead to. It does not deal with end results, only with what must be passed through if a fundamental kind of results are to be produced as the necessary foundation for a new life at a higher — or in tragic cases, lower — level of the spiral of evolution. Pluto, I believe, does not produce such a foundation; this should refer to the symbolic activity of a trans-Plutonian planet, which I have tentatively baptized Proserpine. But the possibility of such a foundation is implied in Pluto's action; indeed it gives to whatever Pluto represents in a person's or a nation's life its true and essential purpose.
In the light of such an astrological understanding of Pluto's function, we can piece together the various parts of the puzzle that this planet presents to the minds of not a few students of astrology. We can also dismiss most of the radically negative statements made about Pluto, seeing them as relatively biased interpretations which can do a great deal of psychological harm when incorporated in the interpretation of a person's birth chart.
It should be clear, nevertheless, that there is in Pluto's countenance and its astrological effects much that is awesome and relentless, often also totally ruthless in an impersonal and "karmic" manner. Yet Pluto operates quite differently from Saturn, which has often been considered the symbol of karma at work. Saturnian karma works in a rather precise and automatic manner, somewhat according to the old formula: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." What is implied in such karmic, workings can also be stated in terms of the cosmic principle of universal harmony. Anything that generates a leftward disequilibrium has automatically to be balanced — in time and space — by a rightward action, and vice versa.
If the person experiencing the karmic consequences of previous acts learns from these experiences, this is fine; but the karmic force does not care. A society which punishes the criminal according to a fixed law with an impersonal character is normally unconcerned with what the punishment does to the person who broke the law and was caught doing it. For this reason justice is said to be "blind." Rare are the cases where a "punishment" is meted purposely to create a controlled situation providing a deep catharsis and the possibility of moral and social rebirth — even though the concept of justice may today be hesitantly and inequally evolving in that direction. When it does, it tries to embody the Plutonian spirit.
Saturn, let us not forget, has a character that is bound up with that of a solar autocrat — or, as a substitute, a rigid, traditional legal code, such as the Napoleonic code. Saturn refers to the justice of an absolute king who cannot accept challenges to his power and can bear even less to see his laws scorned; except in the rare cases in which it pleases him to show — or for devious reasons he is pressured into showing — his magnanimity, and he pardons the offender. On the other hand, Pluto never "pardons," because he does not "punish" or automatically exact payment proportionate to the offense. Pluto registers the fact that a time has come for the possibility to move from one level of consciousness and activity to another; he then produces the conditions required for such a passage or transmutation.
The more bound the consciousness is to Saturnian patterns and memories, the harsher these conditions. If Uranus and Neptune have not succeeded in giving a good start to the process of transformation, Pluto can indeed be ruthless as well as relentless. If, on the other hand, the Uranian and Neptunian forces have done their transforming work, and the individual has accepted their message and readied himself for the final "descent into hell" the Dark Night of the Soul — he may with calm strength meet the Plutonian process of total denudation and the void to which it leads. Such a person already carries in his heart the vision of the New Life and no longer resists the transformation, whose purpose he has consciously made his own. Punishment has become purgation — the breaking down of obstacles to the flow of spiritual power within his total being, or at least as much of the total being as can stand the inrush without being shattered by the galactic energy.
The action of karma may be involved, but a karmic retribution which is totally accepted and given the meaning of a liberation from past conscious and unconscious memories ceases to be Saturnian; it becomes the token one has to pay for entrance into the galactic realm of spiritual consciousness. In extreme emotional cases we have the joyous ecstasy of the martyrs singing while being tortured, because they know uncontrovertibly that this is the way to absolute union with the Divine Beloved, the Avatar.
In the symbolism of Christ's descent to hell for three days after his Crucifixion, we see a particularly significant example of Plutonian activity, for the development of galactic consciousness requires a total experience of the meaning that disintegration and failure have had during the cycle in which one has attained the Christ-like state of consciousness. Everything that has been part of this cycle must be encompassed by the consciousness which now has a totally holistic and thus eonic or divine character. The White Adept in some way must have become aware of, and have empathetically felt the tragic state of the Black Adept, because in his compassion he includes the darkness as well as the light. He can no longer hate or feel horror for evil, because for the supreme Good there is no evil, but only the shadow of the divine Light upon the unredeemed memory of the ancient past. But it must be truly the supreme Good indisputably revealing its nature in total, impersonal compassion, and not the little good encapsuled in man's pale social or religious virtues!
The fact that the Crucifixion and its aftermath, the three days "descent to hell" are celebrated at the time of the vernal equinox is deeply significant; for that moment of the year's cycle refers, at least symbolically, to the process of germination; and germination is the crucifixion of the seed. Out of the torn seed the first thing to emerge is the rootlet, and this rootlet "descends" into the humus, produce of the decay of leaves and of all that once had been living. The dark soil is the hell of the life-sphere, but it is also the foundation of all living processes — the "dark mother" which is the past, who will be redeemed as her decayed materials are drawn upward toward air and light within the new life and eventually reach the flower state.
Germination is a Plutonian process, and this is why in astrology Pluto should "rule" Aries, the vernal equinox sign of the zodiac, symbol of the creative impulse which initiates all new life-processes. However, Pluto is associated with Aries rather than ruling it; for the concept of rulership breaks down entirely when we realize that the trans-Saturnian planets are in the solar system, but not of it. This concept was entirely valid in the Ptolemaic Sun-to-Saturn world, for it expressed a profound philosophy of life. It no longer should be applied to a heliocosm in which the Sun is primarily understood to be a star, one among billions, within the vast cosmic organism of the Galaxy. All that can be said is that in the new galactic approach to the planets and to the zodiac — the tropical zodiac which is the background on which we plot the cyclically changing relationship of the Earth to the Sun — the signs following Capricorn (the apex of Saturn's power) correspond to the basic phases in the process of transformation symbolized by Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Thus Uranus is associated with Aquarius, Neptune with Pisces, Pluto with Aries, and an assumed Proserpine with Taurus.
Pluto, however, is the challenger of all that Mars represents in the Sun-to-Saturn system. Pluto's impersonality challenges Mars' essentially personal-emotional character. The challenges occur in Scorpio as well as in Aries, just as Neptune's challenge to Jupiter occurs in Pisces (symbol of the last moment of a cultural cycle) as well as in Sagittarius (which represents the achievement by a culture of its fundamental philosophical and legal character); and Uranus challenges Saturn in Capricorn as well as in Aquarius, for the moment the days begin to lengthen, the power of Saturn is doomed, even at the very apex of its power.
All challenges by the planets that are agents of the Galaxy are inherently causes of suffering for the consciousness immured within Saturnian patterns; but the acceptance of suffering is an essential part of the process of transformation. The "descent to hell" is, in a sense, a dramatization of the inevitability of suffering in such a process. More generally still, wherever there is the experience of depth there inevitably is a concomitant experience of suffering. But, in our global world, the direction of depth leads us to center; and the experience of center is essential to spiritual development. All centers — be they those of atoms, cells, suns, or galaxies — are not only related in the fourth dimension of "interpenetration," they actually are one in what one might call the fifth dimension. This is the ancient Hindu concept of the identity of the individual atman and the universal Brahman, reflected in the yogic salutation "I am Thou" that evokes the feeling of an essential identity of the centers in all human beings. I should add that such a salutation distinguishes the Hindu from the Hebraic-Christian type of spirituality, because the latter instead speaks of "I and Thou" (d. Buber's famous book with that title), replacing identification with a "dialogue" between essentially different entities — a dialogue which at the limit is one that relates God the Creator to man, the creature.
What we can broadly call depth-psychology aims, in its most significant aspect, at giving to human consciousness the experience of depth — and in some instances (especially with Carl Jung and Assagioli) the experience of center. The process of "individuation" which constitutes the main topic in Jungian psychotherapy and in psychosynthesis should lead not only to an experience of centering — for the personal ego is also the center of the Saturn-bounded field of consciousness — but to the transfer of the center from the essentially limited and temporary ego-field to the vaster and permanent realm of "the Self." The latter is not only a vaster field, because it encompasses both the conscious and the unconscious areas of the total psyche, but a qualitatively different field. It has the quality of inclusiveness in contrast to the basic exclusivism of the ego-dominated consciousness.
Mars arouses and focuses the soli-lunar energies of the personality in the direction of an emotionally desired goal. It represents a going out into the world of the surface of the globe, the biosphere. It involves a more or less "horizontal" spreading of energy in terms of a relationship with some object; a relationship which may be negative, thus a fleeing from that object. Pluto, on the contrary, essentially refers to the focusing of the power (or the activity) of some kind of "group" (concrete or transcendental) upon and through an individual who finds himself invested with that power, a power expressing or seeking a centering purpose. To Mars' intensely personal action, Pluto answers with a collective urge for activity, a collective urge seeking a mind or a will that, by giving it a conscious focus, will provide a center from which the purpose may be disseminated.
At the highest level Pluto serves to focus galactic energies upon mankind through individuals ready undeviatingly to assume a role of destiny; and in that sense Pluto's action is "vertical," not "horizontal." At a social-cultural level Pluto represents the deep-seated urge in a collectivity — a nation, a social group, a profession — to formulate through especially gifted persons the characteristic quality ("style" or way of life) of the historical stage of evolution at which the group or the nation operates. While Neptune represents the general pressure of a collectivity upon the individuals which it includes — and thus, for instance, signifies the individual's subservience to fashion and propaganda of all types — Pluto in a birth chart indicates the possibility for a person to become the active mouthpiece of the group's spirit through positive, creative action.
This Plutonian focusing of social or biological energies upon an individual who is able to express the group's character and purpose often results in what appears to be actions imbued with personal ambition or self-gratification; yet behind this personal facade a wider kind of unconscious or semiconscious motivation operates. For instance, at the psychological level the emotional attraction between a young man and woman ordinarily takes apparently personal and possessive forms; yet behind this appearance it is the human species, and often the culture or religion of the youths, which impel or compel them to mate. On the surface everything seems personal and Martian, but in the unconscious depths of the two young people it is the collective purpose of the race or the culture which seeks expression. Any focusing of generic or social energy and purpose through the actions of individuals, often unaware of what impels them to act, is Plutonian.(1)
1. In this sense a police force is a manifestation of Plutonian power at the social (and at times, political) level. The policeman who abuses his power commits a greater crime than a mere individual who injures another individual — a Martian act. Yet in our illegal society, he is most often only reprimanded or dismissed. The abuse or misuse of collective power invested upon a man should be the greatest crime a person can commit.
This Plutonian challenge to Mars archetypically occurs in Aries. Life itself, in its generic sense, is the real actor in all cosmic or racial beginnings. This is what, in the most ancient mythologies, the great god Eros (or Kama deva in India) meant; only much later was this primal force of universal life reduced to the "human, all too human" character it occupies in popular conceptions and familiar language (witness the common use of the term, erotic). In early days the Greek Eros and the Hindu Kama deva were the firstborn among the gods. They represented the cosmic desire to create a new world; and such desire inevitably implies a "descent" into chaos. Chaos represents the undifferentiated primeval condition of matter, the residua of extinct forms of energy, the "dark soil" or dust of past universes. Every creative activity in its essential character is a descent into matter. The universal One in Its diffuse and undifferentiated state, spreads out in infinite Space, seeks to focus itself into a particular one, the source of a new manifestation; and to do that it must become centered in matter. We interpret this action symbolically by speaking of a "descent" into the depths and the darkness. All such descents are motivated by a desire for new and more inclusive experiences in some form of life, at whatever level these forms are envisioned as containers or expressions of a cosmic (micro- or macrocosmic) process.
At the level of our present Western society and, in a more general sense, of what the Hindu philosopher called Kali Yuga (the Greek Iron Age, the Age of the Dark Mother, Kali), Plutonian descents have a tragic character, for individuals and nations have always to meet many dark and fear-full memories. These memories have to be met in the underground darkness if there is to be new and creative beginnings. This is, in Jungian terms, the meeting with the Shadow. Nevertheless if this meeting is courageously and unfalteringly experienced, the Shadow is transformed into God-in-the-depth, the God of the mysteries, the "living" God who polarizes God-in-the-highest, and thus reveals the essential unity of matter and spirit, and also of failure and success — or better still the changeless, all-encompassing, and ineffable Harmony of Non-being and Being, or Potentiality and Actuality.(2)
2. Cf. The Planetarization of Consciousness, Chap. 5.
In most fairy tales, the ugly Beast seeking love is transformed into the radiant Prince, once the maiden is able to feel in her heart compassion for the deformed ugliness. In Greek esoteric mythology Pluto is not only ruler of the Underground, but also the symbol of abundance and wealth. It is symbolized also by "the Pearl of great price" which, hidden within the viscous shell-enclosed substance of the oyster, can only be found by the daring diver into the sea-depths of the unconscious; and, in order to succeed in his quest, the diver must develop a large lung-capacity for breathing — the breath symbolizing the most essential aspect of the process of spiritual realization. Pearls are produced by the oyster after some irritating substance has been introduced into its seemingly shell-secure living space. Suffering is necessary if some degree of transmutation and trans-substantiation is to be experienced; but all depends on the attitude toward suffering and pain. Tragedy must be accepted. It must be understood; and to understand is not only to "stand under" and bear the full weight of what is understood, thus experiencing all its mass and its contents; it is also to become aware of the purpose of the burden placed upon one's shoulders — the purpose this burden and the experience of it have within the large cycle of one's existence, and if possible of mankind's and the world's existence.
Pluto, more than any other planet, can lead to the reality of what is often too glibly called "cosmic consciousness"; but it certainly does not need to do so. The Shadow has most subtle ways of hiding the reality under various forms of Neptunian glamour. As already stated, Pluto's action is largely conditioned by what a person's response to Uranian and Neptunian forces and events has been. The Uranian revolutionist can easily be thrown off his course by the intensity of his passion for violently tearing down oppressive factors and accepting no compromise; the Neptunian idealist may be misled by the glamour of pseudomystical experiences which make him lose his way in a heavy, even if iridescent, mist; and the Neptunian humanitarian may sink in the quicksand of sentimentality. What is taken for cosmic consciousness may only be a feeling-experience, instead of a clear realization of the cosmic-divine Mind in its impersonal and unerring cyclic operations — what Sri Aurobindo calls the Supermind, or even the higher aspect of the Overmind.
A significant and contrasting relationship can be made between Pluto and Mercury. Mercury symbolizes the mind at the stage in which its operations are conditioned by the need of the life organism for survival, expansion, and reproduction, and by the social-cultural ambitions of the ego. On the other hand, Pluto stands for the totally impersonal cosmic Mind — the Mind that deals with universal principles and archetypes, the holistic and eonic Mind. At a lower level, it refers to the style of an epoch, rather than the personal contribution of a particular artist or writer, very often appreciated at first for his superficial and supposedly "original" characteristics. For this reason, Pluto's position in one of the Houses of a birth chart reveals the type of experience through which a person will most fruitfully contribute to the style of his or her time; and as we will presently see, Pluto's position in a particular zodiacal sign gives a basic clue to the life style of a generation.
Summing up the foregoing, we find that the most fundamental meaning of all Plutonian processes is that they force us, often relentlessly, to devaluate or abandon all that is a manifestation of surface living and to plumb as profound a depth of human experience as our mental, affective, and spiritual condition can withstand. Surface living can be interpreted at the social-cultural level in terms of our habitual and taken-for-granted responses to the behavior and feeling patterns of our society or class. At a more personal level, Pluto represents, as we have already seen, all forms of depth-psychology; thus any determined attempt to discover our "fundamental nature" — in the sense in which Zen philosophy uses these words.
Pluto can also be said to lead human minds to a realization that a central core of "great verities" exists underneath the variety of religious beliefs and practices. Theosophists refer to it as "the universal Wisdom-Religion." All the institutionalized cults which, in their external and popular aspects, have ever sought to meet the local and relatively temporary needs of particular human collectivities in various regions of the earth-surface, are derived from it. It is based on what is essential in human nature.
In this sense, Pluto is the planet most closely related to true Occultism — whether in its constructive or destructive forms (i.e., White or Black adeptship) — not only because true Occultism teaches us how to operate within the realm of forces (the astromental world), of which material bodies are only the externalized manifestations, but also because it claims that all basic human knowledge came to nascent mankind through an "Original Revelation" bestowed by extraterrestrial Beings who were the "seed" of a previous planetary cycle, and that this knowledge, in its pure condition, remains the possession of Occult Brotherhoods still existing today. With the assistance of some of the individual members of these hidden Brotherhoods, man can become attuned to their collective Minds; but such an attunement, and in rare cases eventual identification, can only be achieved through an arduous and dangerous approach to the ultimate realities of existence, the Path of Initiation. Pluto rules over that Path with absolute rigor and in terms of unvarying and impersonal laws embodying cosmic principles.
Occultism in its true character (which has practically nothing to do with what is today popularly known as Occultism) is cosmic depth-psychology. It can only be significantly understood and constructively applied by individuals who have been made inwardly "separate" from the mass-vibration of mankind (and in general of the Earth's biosphere) by Uranian visitations and deep-seated crises, and who have experienced Neptunian expansion of consciousness and of feeling without being lured into fascinating bypaths by the protean glamour surrounding the occult Path.
It should be clear that the occult way is not the devotional way, and much that passes for mysticism belongs to another line of approach, even though every "white" occultist must have had transforming and illuminating mystical experiences. The relationship between true Mysticism and Occultism can be symbolized by that between Neptune and Pluto. I have already mentioned the fact that there are times when Pluto comes closer to the Sun than Neptune ever does and thus can be said to operate during these times within Neptune's orbit. We are today very near such a period, which lasts about twenty years. These periods often witness a repolarization of the collective consciousness and the ideals of mankind along lines which, in one way or another, stress factors deeply rooted in human nature and thus common to at least a large section of mankind. In 1942, Vice-President Henry Wallace said that "the century on which we are emerging — the century which will come out of this war — can be and must be the century of the common man." Such a century actually began with the great Depression of 1929 and the following years, at which time Pluto was discovered. In my book The Faith That Gives Meaning to Victory (Fall, 1942), I pointed out that Henry Wallace should have referred not so much to "the common man" as to man's common humanity, and I added that:
As long as individuals glory in that they are different from others and identify themselves exclusively with their differences, there can be no peace on earth. Peace and union will come when individuals will know themselves first as humans, then as individuals; when individuals will be willing to consecrate their differentiated gifts and faculties to the welfare of humanity; when the egocentric personalities of our day will realize, to use the beautiful words of St. Exupery in his Flight to Arras, that "The individual is a path; Man only matters, who takes that path" (p. 15). . . . The individual is rooted in man's common humanity, whether he admits it or not, whether he likes it or not. . . . Behind his will and his power is the great tide of human evolution, which sweeps on and ultimately fulfills its inherent goal — merely modified, delayed or accelerated by the individual will of separate men. Surely the individual is the supreme flowering of that human evolution; surely the great genius stands as the guiding light and the creator. But what is it that is power within him? . . . Power is welling up constantly from the common humanity and the common structures (an individual) shares with all men (pp. 17-18).
The compelling potency, the vivid realization, and the depth-experience of this common humanity are Plutonian factors. Sex has become so glorified in this "century of the common man" because sexual interaction is one of the most basic ways of obtaining such a depth-experience of the power embodied in all human organisms. Wilhelm Reich and the bioenergetic enthusiasts place this Plutonian experience at the center of all human living. This experience undertones all personal distinctions and scorns racial-cultural classifications and prejudices. It is the experience of "life" in its impersonal, or rather subpersonal, manifestation as sex and orgastic energy. Man's common humanity does not "transcend" the individualized achievements of a culture and of beings refined by such a culture; for, in order to experience it, the individual has to "descend" into the common and the undifferentiated. It is a Plutonian descent. If at times it turns out to be a descent into hell, it is because, in our present humanity and for immense periods of time, the sexual function has been perverted by the ego-will seeking to use the life force of the biosphere for self-enjoyment and power. This has been the fateful result of the process of individualization which differentiates man from animals. In this sense, Pluto forces individualized and "civilized" men and women to descend not only to the level at which the animal power of life dominates, but below it.
Sex is not the only manifestation of that level of activity and consciousness. All rituals, bringing together a relatively large number of people to a state of mass-feeling and behavior in which they act as an emotional undifferentiated crowd, seek to arouse the power of man's common humanity. They are Plutonian instrumentalities, especially whenever they operate in a nation which otherwise seeks to foster and takes pride in the individualism of its citizens; for in such cases there is no deeply effective Saturnian power to set traditional limits to the behavior of what has become a totally irrational and uncontrollable mob. Religious rites, and at the socioeconomic level, the equally ritualistic practices of business, operate within the Saturnian boundaries of a tradition, which also — at least in some cultures — imposed specific forms to sexual activity. It is when these Saturnian forms break down under the onslaught of Uranian forces, or have been rendered meaningless and boring by a newly aroused Neptunian feeling of totally open communality and boundlessness, that what was until then a ritual becomes a Plutonian mob scene or an orgy.
The Freudian type of psychological "reductionism" — that is, the teaching that the more differentiated and conscious manifestations of idealism, religion, and artistic genius can be reduced to the operation of pressures, obstacles, or disturbances in the flow of the life energy (libido and sex) — is a typical Plutonian process particularly acting upon the easily distorted or blocked Mars function in human individuals; and Freud's birth chart places a striking emphasis on a lonely retrograde Mars. It is true, however, that the flowering of plants above the surface of the soil depends upon the health of the roots in the depth and the dark of what, psychologically speaking, is symbolized by the subconscious or personal unconscious. What until now we have known as "culture" is deeply bound to, or at least basically conditioned by local geographical and climatic factors — thus Sun-Saturn factors. This is the surface-realm of man's potential of being. A global realization of the ideal condition of "civilization" — the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, etc. — will be actualized when its archetypal outlines and the principles determining its structure will have been revealed by the higher galactic manifestations of Pluto.
Many years ago I wrote an article entitled "Neptune, the Sea — Pluto, the Globe." The globe contains the sea, and while the latter is vast, profound, and mysterious; it has no center. A globe is centered. It is a three-dimensional mandala. Neptune is not only the sea, but also the atmospheric ocean which permeates every living organism through the breathing process — a subtler type of sea, having also its powerful and at times devastating storms. The two oceans — water and air — envelope the realm where continents give birth to human cultures; but oceans and land obey Plutonian gravitation, the pull to center.
Such a pull leads to integration; and, in a sense, Pluto is the ultimate Integrator. Yet there are premature types of integration, and integrative processes born of the fear of Neptunian chaos. Such processes have led mankind to such developments as Neoclassicism or Neo-scholasticism in the arts(3) — totalitarian Fascism and Nazism in politics — and in the world of city tenements, the gangs, the Mafia, and other more or less criminal and coercive agglomerations of frustrated and/or bewildered individuals seeking power in cohesive and leader-ruled activity.
3. In music we had Stravinsky, the originator of Neoclassicism after his powerful The Rite of Spring and the Communist Revolution in Russia which made of him an exile; and Schoenberg, who transformed post-Wagnerian chromaticism into a rigidly formalistic and intellectually scholastic atonalism with its twelve-tone system.
On the other hand, when strongly unified groups emerge out of the natural evolutionary process of social growth, they operate under a Saturnian principle; we have a rationalistic and formalistic "classical" system, such as Europe has seen in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. (Louis XIV, king by "divine right" and the Versailles castle are outstanding symbols of such a development.)
Neoclassicism, like Mussolini-style totalitarianism, emerges compulsively after a period of relative Neptunian chaos and is powered by a collective fear of the results of such a chaotic interlude. These retrogressive ("return to. . .") movements cannot accept the fact that chaos can be the beginning of the gestation of a new and more encompassing order. Their operation could perhaps be symbolized by a regressive Pluto; but this does not mean that, in natal astrology, a "retrograde" Pluto in a chart represents a trend toward some form of frightened totalitarianism. Pluto is too often found retrograde in a birth chart for such a conclusion to be at all valid. All that can be said is that a retrograde Pluto evokes the possibility of using fear-reactions as lines of least resistance when the individual is confronted with what seems to be disturbingly chaotic situations. It may be considered a warning that, when facing such situations, it may be wiser for the person quietly to return to basic root-experiences rather than plunge overconfidently or naively into a tempestuous Neptunian sea. Not every person is innately structured to be a pioneer in inherently dangerous adventures; and the spiritual Path can be a dangerous adventure involving extremely serious risks. In the long run, even relative failure may be transformed into more spectacular success; but it can be a long run!
Pluto can be seen, at least at the present time, as Guardian of the Threshold which eventually opens up into the starry world of the Galaxy. The Guardian's countenance is often frightening; yet it only reflects our ancient sins of omission as well as commission, our failure to act when the cyclic time had come to move forward, our fears, and our usually well-hidden guilt. Occult stories — like Bulwer Litton's classic novel Zanoni, written in the last century — have at times vividly depicted the tragic meeting of an ambitious aspirant with the awesome Guardian.
Whenever an astrologer gives entirely negative characteristics to Pluto, one may well wonder whether he or she does not unconsciously portray the features which the Guardian of the Threshold would present to his or her advance. It is easy to glorify Neptune and the seemingly boundless and rapturous glow of diffuse spirituality and pseudo-mysticism while linking Pluto to all forms of materialism and dictatorship; it is much harder to face a Pluto that merely reflects one's own hidden face and fully to accept karmic confrontation. One can only go through karma by fulfilling it, while holding within one's heart the vision of the future — the realization that one essentially is a star in the Galaxy. To hold securely and unwaveringly such a realization while battered by Plutonian earthquakes is not easy. This nevertheless is the true Plutonian challenge. No one who shrinks before the challenge can spiritually reach his highest goal, his star.
Courage is needed and that will which transcends the puny decisions of the ego and manifests the character of inevitability. No individual should attempt to tread the Path unless he or she has to, by virtue of an ineluctable impulsion that cannot be ignored. Once he has begun the journey, he should never stop or look back. He must allow Uranus unceasingly to shatter his cherished limitations, Neptune to expand his consciousness, and Pluto to lead him through darkness into the Void where a new center of light eventually will shine, reorganizing the scattered fragments of what for so long he had accepted as himself.
The Sun is Also a Star