Saturday, 29 January 2011

Notes From A Pluto Transit

Note: I wrote the following a couple of months ago, but hesitated to publish it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's all about me and I usually steer away from indulgent personal writing on this blog. Secondly, the couple of people who did read it said they found it upsetting and Astroair is supposed to be an uplifting blog. However, the piece kept nagging at me, so here it is at last... I have not shared details of what happened under this transit (it's different for everybody), but have described how it felt. We shouldn't pretend that Pluto transits are fun or easy, because they're not and if I could sum mine up in three words they would be 'hard, hard work', but on reading this again from a slightly more distant perspective, it's beginning (a little) to feel like at least some of the hard work could have been worth it.

It’s the time of year when the central heating is cranked up and extra duvets are piled on the bed. It’s unwise to leave the house without coat, hat, scarf and gloves. The days are short and darkness reigns. Strange that only a few months ago I slept with the fan on all night, just to keep cool. Odd that the days were so long and the nights so short. I know that the heat of the summer was real, I remember it, but from this viewpoint it feels like an imagined fantasy, like something that happened to another person in another place. It’s also difficult to imagine that in another few months, the scarves and gloves will be relegated to the back of the cupboard and I’ll be dusting off the fan again.

I know as fact that spring will come again and that summer will follow, but simply accepting this fact from my current point of view takes more than merely knowing, it takes a leap of faith.

As the year long conjunction of transiting Pluto to my 8th House Sun begins to wane I am keenly reminded of this turning of the seasons. From my current perspective I find myself in a dark, wintry place. It’s cold and scary here and the night feels endless. It’s almost impossible to imagine the inevitability of summer, the Sun shining high in the sky. It’s almost impossible to believe that I will ever feel joy again.

However, like Persephone in the myth, one day soon I will emerge from Hades’ (Plato’s) underworld, feel the Sun's warmth again and feel joy again. I will look back from ‘high summer’ and no doubt part of me will find it hard to accept that I ever felt so cold and dark and scared. The larger part of me though will, I hope, accept that life is like the seasons and the planetary cycles - constantly turning and always changing and no matter where in life the cycle finds itself, it's always meant to be in the place where it is.

In the place where I am right now, my job, home, relationship and financial security are all unsure. 2011 is an unknown quantity. Dreams have been crushed, plans abandoned. In losing so much power and control over the external circumstances of my life, I am coming to understand that power comes from within. It is a neutral energy which can be used in any way I choose or not used at all. It can be as reactive and explosive as nuclear energy or it can be calm and contained and constructive. I am learning that for me personally, it’s about holding my centre and learning to recognise when to simply let go. It’s been about feeling anger and grief and bitterness and about ‘owning’ these potentially destructive emotions in order to see beyond and beneath them, to seek out their source.

Anger for me (and yes, I do get very angry very regularly these days) is a sign that a line has been crossed and is a cue to reset and reassert my personal boundaries. Usually I’m angry at myself, even when that anger is directed outwards. It is part of my Pluto lesson about ceasing to be a pushover and overcoming a lifelong belief that everyone else is superior/better/stronger than me. I am learning that setting healthy boundaries in my relationships is essential to my mental and emotional health (Saturn in Libra squared my Sun for much of the time that Pluto was conjunct it) and I am constantly readjusting those boundaries, trying to find the right balance.

Bitterness is a new emotion for me, ugly and unwelcome. Put simply, I’m grieving and the twinges of bitterness are, I think, a part of that grieving process. I am grieving for lost hope, for idealism crushed by reality. If I’m not careful, these feelings sneak into my waking thoughts and into the stoop of my posture. I’ve faced tangible losses under this Pluto transit, but the grief seems to be coming not from tangible loss, but from the loss of ‘what might have been’, the dreams I never fulfilled (where are the published novels, the beautiful babies?). These things feel as real, on a psychic level, as the tangible things I have created and lost in my life. As such, they need to be honoured and grieved for and laid to rest every bit as much as the ‘real’ lost friendship, the ‘real’ lost job etc. Under a Pluto transit a fresh perspective on these lost dreams can and must be found. While I might never publish a novel (writing one in the first place would have helped), I do have a wonderful forum to write and share and express myself though my astrology articles. While it’s now too late for me to have children, I realise that I have always been a caring, nurturing, loving person, it’s just that those qualities have been directed elsewhere (into my friendships, my work, my love for my pets). I’m learning to face reality as it is, rather than focusing on my idealised (Sun semi-square Neptune) version of how I would have liked things to be. Most of all, through experiencing and questioning the bitterness and grief I’ve been feeling, I’m learning to have faith in myself and where I am in my life. I’m also learning that while hope and ideals can be lost, faith is a constant.

This Pluto transit has also been a lesson in knowing when and how to surrender (sometimes disengaging from the ‘fight’ is the wisest choice and the best way to win the ‘war’ and also realising that when you’re at war with others, you are really only at war with an aspect of yourself); learning to forgive (myself and others); knowing when to ask for help (overcoming a fierce independence born from negative self beliefs about not deserving help and/or fears that those who help me will have power or control over me) and knowing how to spot when I’m being manipulating / manipulated (a lot of stuff to do with old family relationships, which for years played itself out unattractively in my own adult relationships).

I’m not saying I’ve finished learning these lessons or will ever master them completely, but I will keep on trying, will keep on searching for a healthy transforming, perspective on the dark path that life sometimes takes me down. Most of all, I will do my very best to hold onto the faith and the truth that nothing is forever, that the Sun will shine again and that joy will return.

And to all those Plutonic people who have accompanied me on this journey - those who have taught me harsh lessons and those who have loved and supported and believed in me (you know you are) - I would like to say a huge thank you.

Postscript: A Happy Ending? All the way through this transit I kept joking with some of my astrology colleagues that I was going to win the lottery (tr. Pluto in the 8th House conjunct Sun, ruler of the 5th House). Most told me it was wishful thinking! Well, they were wrong, because on December 25th, my birthday, I won nearly £2k on the lottery! A great gift for my Solar Return...Roll on Jupiter and Uranus squaring my Sun in 2011.

Resource: this book spent almost the entirety of my Pluto transit on my nightstand. Highly recommended: Healing Pluto Problems by Donna Cunningham

See also: Pluto Problems Got You Perplexed? Here's What Helps! an online collection of helpful, insightful articles to help you through your Pluto transit. Joyce Mason's A Cup of Courage in Times of Tough Transits particularly resonates with what I've written here.

10 Tips for Surviving a Pluto Transit from Moonkissd by Jessica

Survival Tips for the Pluto Transit by Lynn Koiner

With love,

Image details: In 2005, this image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope was used to identify two new moons orbiting Pluto. Pluto is in the center. The moon Charon is just below it. The newly discovered moons, Nix and Hydra, are to the right of Pluto and Charon. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (JHU/APL), A. Stern (SwRI), and the HST Pluto Companion Search Team


  1. Dear Mandi, I can so relate, having been with a Pluto trine Pluto a couple years back...and even the trine almost did me in! I can also say as a Capricorn rising,(17 degree) Mars in the first in Cap (24 degrees) and Pluto hovering in my 12th...I too will be hurled back to the Underworld again. Capricorns, at best, have that weighty Saturn pulling us down..."responsibility" "karma" "hard work" "lessons learned" and add Pluto to the mix and know, you just wrote about it. You are right, you will survive. But why throw away the writing of a novel? You can do this anytime. Discipline is another Capricorn word. Pluto will shore this up if you don't allow the pessimism of Capricorn to get to you. 5 years ago, I started writing a book...and the research alone took up the first 3 takes what it takes...there is no time limit. I am 54, soon to be 55 in April...I would like to encourage you to write. This is only a thought "I can't ever write a novel"..who said? You? Why not? I have been an astrologer myself for nearly 30 years. Read and own Donna's book, still use it with clients today. She is a Master at digging through Pluto's crap and coming up with the treasure. Must not forget the treasure! I, for one, am very glad you wrote and published this article because it is real and raw, just like its subject, Pluto. It comes from the hard knocks of a Pluto transit, still ongoing, I am assuming. There will be Spring, there will be gold found (and not just the lottery win!) Alchemical Gold..Relationship Gold.. Wisdom born of Pain Gold!! And by the way...I had my daughter at 40. Her father was just a Pisces escape artist, so off he went (his loss!!) and I have raised her on my own. Who cares! We love each other and she is a wonderful and gifted soul who I love dearly! It may not be too late. But the fanciful dream...ah, now maybe that had to die in order for the real, the true and the possible to come in. I salute you and I say..never give up! Just go where this is leading...there in lies Pluto's treasure. Thanks for sharing all because it is real and valuable, Shawn

  2. Hi Mandi,

    Thank you for sharing - these are good thoughts. I can also relate after having gone through Solar Arc Pluto = Saturn, echoed by transiting Saturn conjunct Pluto. 2010 brought a lot of heavy concerns within my family and work, and I'm still working it all out.

    I believe it's helpful for everyone to read these Plutonian dimension of life experience, since we all seem to go through it sooner or later, unless we choose to stay in denial and distance ourselves from feeling any emotions.

    Best regards,

  3. Thanks Shawn for the lovely and encouraging comment. Alchemical Gold,,,I can relate to know, that feeling when all is chaos and then everything starts falling into place just like it was meant to in a way you could never see when you were in that chaos! One day that book will come out...and good luck with yours too! Pluto's now 3 degrees from my Sun, but as you know transits don't just switch off once the planet moves on...

    Hi Hiroki, nice to hear from you....Oh I can relate to that too...I had tr Saturn over my Uranus-Pluto conjunction at the same time as my Uranus Opposition and I think some of what the Pluto transit was about was working things out that happened under those earlier transits....I hope you can work out your concerns soon...Here's to a brighter 2011 and thanking goodness we have astrology


  4. Yes, thank you for deciding to share, Mandi.
    'In the place where I am right now, my job, home, relationship and financial security are all unsure. 2011 is an unknown quantity.' This describes my situation exactly, but thanks to your honesty and insight, I know I shall survive and more.

  5. congrats on winning a lottery prize! I too, have had those same plutonian feelings, sorrow at what might have been, bitterness in the realization that it is never going to happen. I am heartbroken over the state of affairs for the younger generation and all the species of beautiful animals that still have to share the planet with us.

  6. Transformation

    Transformation is not about butterflies
    flitting about, capturing our awe.
    It is the heart of pain
    you cannot feel for me.
    Searing cauterization,
    what would be condemned
    as unethical treatment
    of secret wounds
    bound up in tattered consciousness.
    Bit by bit, then all at once
    losing the thread,
    spacing out the conversation
    not quite catching the gist of
    why I am here and now.
    Did it ever make sense?
    How could I believe my lies?
    That papier-mache world
    I gave my soul
    sucked dry
    in enduring service
    was never true.
    I would cry
    but that would be too easy.
    The pain would dribble down;
    fascinated by the rainbow glisten
    I would count my misfortunes
    watch them spin
    pennies falling into a rose-glass jar.
    Filled with resolve,

  7. Sabina and Mimi, I'm really pleased that what I wrote resonated with you and glad I listened to that nagging voice and posted.

    Libra Moon, thank you for the beautiful poetry, what a wonderful way to express it all.

    Wishing you all well on your journey, wherever it may take you next.


  8. hi Mandi
    that is as beautiful an account of a Pluto transit as I have ever read and I know exactly how it is. I too have sat huddled in bed with 'Healing Pluto Problems'. From 2002 until 2007 Pluto transited every one of my inner planets and most of my outer ones too. I thought I lost things but actually I lost nothing at all and gained so much that cannot be seen but comes from within. I gained the trust that everything is exactly as it should be and suffering is only my inability to trust.
    My marriage crumbled & like the lady above I was left with two babies under two, and he has never been back even to see them nor has paid us a penny. I was forced into a job that didn’t suit me and dropped from being a very high earning consultant to very low salary & worse I had to rely on my parents for child care and even lived with them for 6 months before I got back on my feet. My goodness the humiliation of that after 20 years as an independent world traveller!!!! But that was only the beginning, Neptune came into the mix and transited my progressed Venus for the next 7 years and unrequited love, where do I start!!! I’m now an expert.
    My children kept me sane as they are too important to neglect but I really wanted to run away. However this is for me the crux of those Pluto transits. There is no escape, and realising that made me focus my awareness on the here and now.
    Spiritual teaching try and tell us and we can pay lip service to them when everything is fine in our lives but during Pluto transits, the shit hits the fan and like Innanna I was literally stripped down to the bare essentials and left to rot on the meat hook until I got it! This is IT! I’ve stopped living in the fantasy that life is attachment to stuff and people and that everything good will come if only I am a ‘good’ person! Whatever that is! Actually I’ve stopped being so attached to outcomes as any expectation is only misery. For me there is no good or bad only ‘isness’, if it happens it is right and everything else is junk.
    Maybe this sounds too harsh to you but I also have my Sun in a T Square, Squ Neptune Opp Jupiter. I lived on dreams and escaping to beautiful places for most of my life before Pluto. And really did living in India for years in an Ashram. The problem was not my dreams but the attachment to them and the longing to be saved by something outside myself. The issue is now after those amazing years I know nothing outside myself will ever ‘save’ me in fact there is nothing except what is inside me. Everything I need is here / now in this moment and all else is a dream. I now hold all my judgements, opinions and attachments as lightly as possible, and try to experience each moment with as much kindness as possible.
    This has been a true alchemical change for me a Spiritual junkie who searched outside myself for years in the hope I’d find someone, something someplace that was PERFECT, haha. Now I have it, right here right now. Perfectly imperfect, and BTW I still shout at my kids, drink too much wine and don’t meditate enough. Funny thing is instead of the despair these words used to bring in me now I can laugh at myself, my vanity (a Leo sun, not so!). My life is nothing like I believed it should be, nothing! But it’s not life that is wrong it was my erroneous belief that it should conform to my ego’s desires, anyway even if I had got what I thought I wanted Pluto teaches you that in the immortal words of Oscar Wilde:
    There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
    And he certainly knew a bit about Pluto transits!
    Love Niyati

  9. Much love and power to you, Mandi. You have always been a very loving and warm presence for me.

  10. Niyati...Wow! It's wonderful how this post is inspiring people to share their own very personal Pluto experiences. And kudos to you for your insights and conscious awareness of your own process...much love and luck to you.

    Neeti, love and hugs cominbackatcha :)


  11. i can so relate in your post...too much intensity in my emotions lately and becomes tired after. very tired with office politics. very angry with gossip mongers and unfair treatment at work. im a double cap and with all these transits its taking toll on my mental and physical well being...i hope i could rise like a phoenix the soonest...much tired

  12. Hi Anonymous, oh yes, these heavy transits can feel very tiring, it's important to get plenty of rest, so you've got the strength to deal with everthing. All the best, Mandi

  13. Mandy, once again, you (together with Niyati's post here) inspire me.
    We were breifly in touch, at the peak of my own multiple Pluto tranists, which are still here, very much so. Only, I'm a bit different, I hope.

    Pluto opposite my Sun, Asc, Mercury and Saturn square my Pluto (which natally squares my Sun to the second). I somehow got passed the exact Sun and Asc opposition; and still hovering there, Pluto moves on, ever so slowly, to the other ones.
    There were times (months) when I thought this was it for me. With joy as distant memory and attachment to dreams like I have only been made of them. I struggled so much with grief and loss in many aspects of my life. Close relationships being in the center.

    After alsmost two years, after some experience on how to survive, I would agree that forgiveness, kindness, faith and our own inner spark of light and love are our guides through this Hades, which although reflected in outside circumstances, is after all our own.

    Thank you for sharing. All of you.

  14. Nice to hear from you again Ivana...

    That's a long old Pluto transit you've been having (if you put it all together). I'm glad to hear that you're 'surviving' and pleased that my post at least struck a chord, so that you and others going through the same feelings don't feel so isolated, esp. as feeling isolated can so often go hand in hand with a Pluto transit.

    Thank YOU for sharing and I hope you enjoy the bright ray of joy in your life again very soon, which I'm sure you will.

    with love,

  15. There was a point a few years ago where I lost myself and it was the most wonderful thing. I retired after 25 years in the profession I loved, divorced, my kids wouldn't have anything to do with me, I was banned from my family and when my parents died my sisters left my name off the headstone. No longer a business woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister I was left with the raw me. I found myself. I LOVE being a Scorpio and I love Pluto - small but mighty, just like me.

  16. Hi Mandy, thanks for your comment.

    Wow, it sounds like you've been through so much, so may losses. Bravo to you for having enough self-awareness to understand how it can be valuable to strip back to the raw self, even though the process of getting there is often a very difficult one.

    Do you know what? Probably the best thing about my Pluto to Sun transit was all the amazing Scorpios and Pluto types who came into my life. I'll always be grateful for that. Thanks again for stopping by

  17. Hi Mandi,

    What a time for me to read this now... for Pluto is transiting my 2h capricorn venus and enacted my yod with 11h scorpio mercury and 7h gemini moon.... and most of all... i am at the southern hemisphere where the fall is getting a bit too cold right now... gosh... i really want to know when and how i am going to get through to summer...
    this pluto transit has started last year and every time it crosses my venus it literally drives me crazy... but it did teach me a lot about myself and revealed my system to me... most of all it forced me from time after time to deal with the trauma i experienced in my early life (sexual abused when i was 14 so the stroy of Persephone just hits me)...
    pluto is now right across my venus again... and my inner world has been in such a turmoil... together with the saturn return... its so hard to live through it really... yet i look forward to growing into a stronger woman... if i would...

    thanks for sharing anyway :)

  18. I can identify with this quite a lot. Currently Saturn is conj my natal moon and square pluto. Pluto is also conj natal neptune. Transiting neptune is square my sun and asc and chiron is square sun and ascendant... Transiting Jupiter is also opposed my natal pluto, to add to the whole thing.

    It's been ridiculous to say the least. For several years before this, transits to my MC and IC brutalized me and all the pluto stuff just felt like a natural progression from there... Two significant relationships, gone. A major move to a distant location. Old careers, any sense of self, so on... gone. I felt like I was floating around in the ether for a solid year, but it's settled down considerably at the point and I'm in a process of rebuilding... but I identify... as I still don't really know where to go from here... the world is my oyster, so to speak, ha! I have lost everything again and again and again... I've only now just had time to recover from so many of those hurts. But in a way I feel there is divine opportunity here as this transit has allowed me to dive deeply into places I never knew were there. Reality is much different for me now and I don't think I will ever choose to be a part of "society" again. It has really given me a lot more self assurance and inner strength... because at no other time have i had to so heavily rely on myself... others -- even friends and family -- were totally untrustworthy to guide me. Nobody has been able to teach me what I now know, I have had to teach myself or find teachers who came to me along my way. With no parameters, I just had to trust my intuition and bump into things and... it really has been an otherworldly phase of my life where I've met and done the kinds of things people don't believe. So magical and painful, too. There is still so much work to be done... and the act of being reborn is never an easy one, but so wonderful too. I hope in five years I look back at this time and see how I could not have done what I have without it.

    The change is so deep, so rapid, so powerful, that it is almost impossible to describe.

  19. Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your story. Tremendously difficult as these Pluto experiences are, I so often hear or intuit a background of incredible strength and resourcefulness, as I am hearing loud and clear in your story. I too hope that in five years, or sooner even, you can look back on this time as essential to your growth and that you will be in a much better place.

  20. Mandi, My empathy to you and it is great news that you DID win the lottery! I have had the conjunction of Pluto on my Jupiter in the 8th. Right now, Pluto is within a degree of my Jupiter, the last time it will get this close, so the end is in sight. But Pluto has completely revamped my life from what it was just a few years ago. Needless to say, it was/ is a painful, nerve wracking, uncomfortable transit. But like you said, "it takes a leap of faith" to believe that you will come out better in the end if lessons are heeded. When you think you have lost it all, Pluto is there to show you how much you can gain. He takes and he gives.


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