Life without Pluto

IMG_1621This post comes with my astrological psychology hat on. It’s something I wrote a while ago, but have revisited as the “demoted” planet Pluto is currently slowly but surely moving through the sign of Capricorn (big on established structures) and we are seeing the effects of this on a global scale.

Pluto cleans up big time, sweeping away the cobwebs, turfing out the dross that’s been hanging around for too long (note the governing Tory party in the UK undergoing internal turmoil whilst trying to sort out Brexit). Pluto will continue on this task until 2024. Times are changing, attitudes have to change too. Climate breakdown is not going to go away unless we all pitch in and wake up to what we, governments and world powers can and must do.

Here’s what I wrote:

On 24th August 2006 a group of scientists and astronomers got together in Prague and decided to demote the status of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet. Their decision came after a lengthy period of search for the definition of what a planet is.

On 16th August 2014 I visited the Jodrell Bank Observatory with two children aged 8 and 10. The Observatory has a brand new visitor centre and I was looking forward to seeing how they had reconfigured the site and displayed the old brass observational sextants and other instruments, including the famous mechanical orrery with its planets orbiting the Sun. I was very disappointed. All of these had gone, along with the Planetarium which had offered interactive quizzes and visual high speed trips across the galaxy.

In their place were two very modern buildings with slick display boards, often accompanied by a video but not much else. Equipment and fun experiments in the hands-on area for children had been reduced and the two children I was with soon lost interest as there was little to engage them. In one area, empty apart from displays on the wall and a large modern orrery suspended from the ceiling, we searched out and named the planets. Pluto, long demoted, wasn’t there and I explained to the children why it wasn’t there, also telling them it had been discovered in 1930. The new visitor centre may be state of the art, presenting bang up to the minute modern science, but all sense of the history of discovery behind it had been erased.

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This got me thinking about how life, for those heretical beings amongst us who dare to claim we are astrologers, would be without Pluto. OK, so Pluto has been around a relatively short time and its discovery and subsequent inclusion in natal charts and interpretations is also relatively new. But its discovery, after lengthy research by Clyde Tombaugh, coincided with the start of an era of world war and disruption, brought to a halt by the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Astrologically Pluto is often feared, or at least treated with due caution and respect, as it can herald big changes and upheavals often leading to transformation. Astrological psychologists, Bruno and Louise Huber, in their book The Planets, describe Pluto as one of the three transpersonal planets saying, “The stimulation of Pluto’s energy makes us experience an expansion of consciousness affecting all of our lives”.

Would we really want to be without this?

For me it would difficult to interpret a chart and give a consultation without including Pluto, the planet associated with transformation. Pluto offers opportunities in life for us to transform ourselves and our ways of thinking and move on. It can encourage us to boldly go where we’ve not been before, sometimes plumbing our inner depths and spaces and demanding that we make ourselves anew.

I’d feel a bit lost, disempowered and diminished if Pluto wasn’t there in my natal chart. I’ve learned a lot about myself, studying the expression of Plutonic energy in the context of astrological psychology. It’s offered me many personal insights and that’s what has helped me to change and grow. We come to grief if we try to use Pluto’s energy to gain personal power and control over someone or something. But we can learn to use the energies of Pluto, and the other the transpersonal planets, not for ourselves, but for those things which affect the collective, embracing change, transformation and the good clear out and spring clean that goes with it.

Reflecting on my disappointment that Jodrell Bank had changed and become more slick and glitzy, I can raise a smile at the thought of Pluto at work in this complete makeover. Gone is the old, the history and the links with the astronomical past. However, the best part of the visit was a guided walk around the enormous, and famous, Lovell Radio Telescope. Like following the stations of the cross in a church, we were taken to a series to display boards around the perimeter of the telescope. I learned more in the short talks at each than I ever have about  – yes – the history of this impressive piece of engineering, once the largest radio telescope in the world but now demoted to the third largest.

In the makeover, the baby wasn’t quite thrown out with the bathwater after all. I wonder – did Pluto get the last laugh here?

Goodwill

laughing women sitting in front of table doing high five clap

You know what good will is when you experience it

Saturday’s People’s Vote march in central London – where an estimated 700,000 people, all concerned about the impending doom-laden no-deal or hard Brexit –  united together in harmonious solidarity to express their feelings and demand a final say on what happens.

Britain, my country, is in a state of flux, and has been riven since the 2016 referendum. People marching and demonstrating on Saturday were demanding a second vote on the final Brexit deal (if a final deal ever emerges. Goodness knows they’ve been negotiating for long enough and have only recently started to leak out some alarming details, should we tip over the cliff edge with no proper deal at all on 29th March.)

I wasn’t in London, I’d just come back from holiday, but I followed the events via Twitter and news media. And I’ve signed the People’s Vote petition. What struck me was the huge amount of good will that seemed to be around. People of all ages were cooperating. It made for moving, heart-warming reading and viewing.

Italian psychologist Roberto Assagioli – a contemporary of Jung – focused on the use of the will. Assagioli’s work is often called “a psychology with a soul”. He would most certainly have supported the People’s Vote march; he went to prison for his views and attitudes during WW2.

Assagioli outlined three identifiable expressions of will:

The strong will, where determination and persistence are engaged to reach an aim or goal. Strength of purpose and a clear outcome are sought, and there may be a rigidity of focus too. Hard Brexit?

The skilful will, where we’re prepared to deviate from a straight line or pathway to a desired goal, acknowledging that we may have to shift position, change and alter expectations along the way. The skill is not to lose sight of the goal, but to be prepared to make concessions and evolve with the situation along the way. What the People’s Vote was saying? Minds can be changed.

Then there’s good will, which can permeate both the strong and the skilful will by bringing openness, acceptability of the situation we find ourselves in and work to understand and include the viewpoints of others. With good will, much can be achieved. There are good feelings, an ambient atmosphere and meaningful connections with others are made.

Good will is one of those qualities that we recognise we when we experience it, but it’s hard to describe. There was a lot of it about on that march, and it’s that kind of thing which makes me feel proud to be British. Don’t let’s lose sight of it – we need it to help us out of the hole we’re in.

That stand-out quality

P1000457Sometimes you see a face, a person, an animal, a bird, whatever. It doesn’t matter exactly what it is; it just stands out from the crowd.

Commanding attention, it rates more than a second look and has a quality or qualities which can’t be ignored. And whatever that is, it may prove difficult to put a name to.

So it is with this statue I saw in the Austrian town of Tulln. He is part of a larger group of figures depicting one of the stories from the German legend of the Neiblungen.

The statues dominate an impressive water feature, and tell the tale of an important meeting. There are many sculpted characters involved, even one of a rat. Here I quote from the official Tulln website:

The Monument to the Nibelungs or Nibelung Fountain is dedicated to a scene from the great medieval German epos: the meeting of Kriemhild, Queen of Burgundy, and Etzel, King of the Huns, in Tulln. It is depicted in a set of bronze sculptures by sculpture Michail Nogin.

The reception of Kriemhild as bride by Etzel her soon-to-be husband in Tulln was peaceful and festive. Today it is considered symbolic of the cultural encounter between Occident and Orient, between West and East.

I’m not sure who this character is – possibly Bleda, brother of Attila – but this statue of him has plenty of stand-out quality.  He’s striking, proud, fearless, perceptive, ruthless, commanding – the sort of person you’d want on your side if you were in trouble, and definitely not someone to cross.