Pluto is riding the wild mountain goat of Capricorn until 2023. The tough, sure-footed goat knows how to scale the steepest, rockiest, slim-edged precipice with tenacious stubborn endurance. That is exactly the energy required to plumb the inner depths of the chasm of form in Pluto’s underbelly where a total re-structuring and casting out of obsolete psychological and physical patterns, addictions, habits, behaviors, and fears is occurring within each individual and our global community. The legendary precept, as above so below, as within so without, is evident in the spellbinding undercurrent of fascination we have with Pluto. It is no coincidence that while Pluto stealthily excavates our personal and collective unconscious, we are racing towards the planet to study and scan its exterior.
Ejected from Earth’s atmosphere on a powerful rocket in 2006 at a velocity of 58,536 km/h; 36,373 mph the robotic spacecraft New Horizons is hurling through the cold chasm of space to a flyby rendezvous with Pluto in 2015. It has already flung past the orbits of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus while recording spectacular close up images of Jupiter. Since the journey began two more of Pluto’s five moons were found in 2011 and 2012 in a coordinated effort between the New Horizons team and the Hubble Space Telescope to avoid any collisions between the spacecraft and unknown planetary bodies; (there are more than anyone imagined.) In June of 2013, these satellites received the mythic names Kerberos and Styx as companions to the moons Charon (kair uhn) discovered in 1978, and Nix and Hydra detected in 2005.
The ninth planet from the sun, Pluto itself was just discovered in 1930. From the beginning, our relationship with this dark mysterious entity has been as distant and bumpy as its inhospitable icy, hard rock mass. Intuitively, we sense the hidden, unknown secrets it holds at the ever-changing edge and outermost perimeter of our solar system. The Roman, Pluto, also known as Hades in Greek mythology, is Lord of the underworld, a moniker that captures our profound fear of death and annihilation in the dark void. Diminutive in size yet subtly powerful, we are magnetically drawn to its enigmatic countenance as it casts a supernatural spell of enchantment over us. In a controversial coup, a handful of scientists demoted it to a dwarf planet as if that could diminish its strength.
Ever since New Horizons principal investigator, Alan Stern, can remember, his curious gaze has been fixed towards the cosmos and particularly aimed at Pluto. When Alan first met his wife, Carole, he asked her what any savvy planetary scientist would need to know about a potential mate, “What is your favorite planet?” Carole did not hesitate, “Earth”, she replied. “Why?” he asked. “It’s the most beautiful planet and it’s the best place to live in the solar system.” How pragmatic…from that moment Alan knew that she was the woman for him. A grounded Earth woman is the perfect complement to a starry eyed Pluto man. The mission of the god of riches is to mine the depths of the Earth and the psyche to exhume and purify whatever no longer serves and to regenerate these treasures into a new birthing.
Mining the depths of our psyche, body and soul is fraught with perilous visions of danger. The body of mother earth contains fluid watery elements, gaseous elements and supposedly solid elements in a constantly shifting amalgam of energy morphing through the inter-relationship of the charged forces of polarity. This is our body, it is of the earth and the realization of our impermanence is terrifying. The image of the masculine charting the earthy and watery depths of the feminine is symbolic of our unconscious fear of merging with our soft vulnerable qualities, which may leave us defenseless and powerless against the action of time and dissolution. This shows up as a deep fear of the feminine. How do we reconcile the contrast of the immense creative force of birthing with the instability of disintegration? Outwardly it manifests in our relationships with an overwhelming fear of losing our self and identity into another. Isn’t that a conundrum? What self? What identity? The truth is neither our body nor our personality has ever been permanent or fixed. What is there to lose? Yet we hold on and cling to the small meager egoic aspects that are known to us out of comfort and the illusion of a secure stable identity, while resisting the urge to go into the depths of real intimacy with another and sadly results in our inability to merge with our essence self. At the core is our fear of death of the personality, of the body, of the known and the material realm. Whatever fears grip us an internal conflict assuredly will ensue as the greater essence of our soul calls us forth to expand and detach from our lower self.
Instinctively, we are enthralled with the dark, coarse, and prickly, subterranean cavern of evil, destruction, death and transformation. In the recesses of our heart is the knowing that these energies are necessary for renewal, regeneration and rebirth. Pluto has been charged with the task of dismantling our attachment to form in order to surrender and merge our lower personality self to the life, will, and province of the soul. Pluto is the great transformer and bringer of light and is surrounded by a host of sagacious guardians. In the heart of the void beyond the known, source resides and the light of love exists. There is no way to enter the underworld and step into the void of the pure life force of love until we face our fears and meet each one of these apparitions “head on.”
The Greeks and Romans had no peer in their depiction of archetypes and myth to convey the phenomenology of energies and forces at play. These archetypes are rooted in our being. Five sentinels orbiting Pluto play an integral role in dismembering our egoic strategies that veil our essence self. Hydra, a creature with nine heads, orbits around Pluto the ninth planet. Nine represents the number of global consciousness and unity of mankind. It is the consciousness of seeing through the eyes of love knowing that everyone is equal; there is no judgment. It embodies the ability to see clearly, to expunge ego attachments, to empower introspection and to distill and alchemize the detritus of the lower self into the higher will of the soul.
Before Pluto’s purification can take place one must face Hydra, the nine headed water serpent in the swamps of the psyche. Here we uncover our delusions. Self-deception is a powerful ally of the ego in its determination to keep us veiled in the belief that we are small, finite beings relegated to chasing after momentary pleasures. Chop! As the head of each egoic entrapment is beheaded two grow in its place. The personality self is attracted to the stimulus and intensity of the earthly realm. We are surprised to find that what we thought were pleasurable distractions turn out to be addictions sapping the life force and relationship with our true being out of us. We tend to identify drugs, gambling, sex, watching porn and alcohol as havens for addictive behavior yet often fail to realize that seemingly innocuous “everyday” behaviors such as work, the Internet, excessive exercising, filling ourselves with food, shopping, flirting, risky behavior, and meditation become addictions when they compulsively absorb our attention and deter us from intimate contact with our essence or people in our life. Our ego defenses promote a narcissistic relationship to prestige, power, control, romance, money and trappings of success often because our lower self is seeking to avoid thoughts and emotions we find unbearable or that conflict with our morals and values. It actually feels good to pursue rampant self-gratification while ignoring the effects on the self or others. These activities frequently serve to hide the excruciatingly painful belief that life has no meaning, that our personality is defective or even more insidious that we are unworthy of love. In an effort to modulate these feelings, the ego creates a lofty image of either being above others or diminishes our self-image into one of a lowly subservient minion. Both the images of “power over” or “powerless” are false identities speaking of the fear of temporality and extinction of the personality. True authentic power inherently resides within the soul of our being.
If I cannot let go of an activity, pursuit, image or behavior without an intense compulsion to continue, or accompanied by feelings of emptiness, then I might have succumbed to the addictive grips of the monster, Hydra. It can show up in a need for increased intensity. Whatever satisfied me before now leaves me feeling flat and wanting. I find myself craving something else that will be more stimulating and exciting until it becomes a never-ending treadmill of one pursuit after another. The need for more intensity masks the fear of touching a core wound. That pursuit may even outwardly look noble such as championing a good cause. Or I may find myself seeing only the good in others while being unaware of their selfishness or harmful intentions. The ego is tricky. It walls off our fear and woundedness, distancing us not only from others but also from ourselves. Our defense mechanisms are automatic and serve only to keep us out of immediate pain without considering the long-term effects on our well-being, body and soul. It is a master at excluding unacceptable thoughts, feelings and emotional pain from our awareness. Very subtly, our perceptions of reality become distorted affecting our personal relationships and hiding the truth and wisdom of our emotions.
How do we get out of the lair of Hydra? Unearthing one defensive strategy releases more hellions to contend with! The Greek, Herakles, was able to tame the Hydra by cauterizing the stump with fire each time he cut off a head. One head was immortal and he buried that one. It is not going to help us to bury our wounds or our head in the sand. Avoidance only increases the screams of pain. Only by becoming aware of our pain and needs can we develop true intimacy. Pluto demands the death of denial. Fighting and resisting the truth of our emotional wounds is futile. We all have these wounds. It takes courage derived from the Latin form of courage, cor, meaning the inner strength of the heart, the kind of courage that lies in the innermost sanctum of the heart. At our core is the heart strength to navigate the depths.
Three skills are necessary to quell the fear of touching our wounds. First, we must be able to bear neediness, the ability to cope with our dependency. Are we able to accept that we have needs and that others do as well? Denial of our need for another person inhibits our ability to value them. Not loving our self diminishes our own value setting off the actions of walling off, distancing, abuse, blaming others and the world for every travesty imagined. It can even plunge us into severe self-loathing and deprecation. Separation is the belief that we do not or should not need anyone and a grossly mistaken concept of self-sufficiency. Oneness is total acceptance of our interconnectedness and vulnerability. Secondly, we require the capacity to manage and tolerate intense sensations and painful emotions. What is our relationship to our body? Do we see it as a temple of finely tuned perfection housing our spirit and containing guiding wisdom or do we see it as an unpredictable out of control enigma causing us pain and suffering? Finally, we need to foster healthy esteem and to have self-worth in relation to others. We cannot expand into unity consciousness until we go inward and love every aspect of our being. This includes any and all of the “nasty” traits we do not want to claim such as: weakness, ignorance, gullibility, aggressiveness, cruelty, hate, arrogance, aloofness, intolerance, greed, selfishness and on and on. Learning how to love our self is the antidote for pretty much all that ails us.
Is it possible to look within and admit my need for love and acceptance? Is it possible to be present to the sensations and emotions in my body? Is it possible to love my vulnerable self? As each craving that leads us away from finding the answer to these questions is decapitated, we uncover our absorption in isolation and sense of separation. It is our ego that fuels the feeling of grandiosity and the feeling of diminishment. Whatever is distracting and distancing us from the awareness of our insecurities, vulnerabilities, and shadow self must be purged so that we may touch and become intimate with those fears in order to embrace and fully love our entire being. There is no more hiding. Pluto implores us to relinquish the desires of the lower will and free our attachment to the physical world. Freed from solitary confinement, base energies are transmuted into the higher vibration of group consciousness, unity, love and the will of the soul. Freed from the constraints of clinging to a limited identity, we expand into the unbounded field of source energy where unbidden love, contentment and joy simply exist.
Each time an egoic illusion is destroyed, Charon is anointed with the undertaking of ferrying the corpse across the river dividing the realms of the living and the dead into the heart of the marsh, Styx, where the oneness of the waters meet. Charon meaning “keen gaze” is the illuminated light of the eye of spirit guiding us with a focused beam back to source. A formidable presence, Charon, is a staunch unremitting ally to “carry us on” through the darkness to the other side. Charon shows us how to care for our self, for others and for life. The goddess Styx and her waters provide us with a magical kind of invulnerability to fear; the loss of structure, form and identity has no power over us. Change is a part of life and welcomed. This elixir of Styx along with Charon’s care miraculously soothes our manifested fears dissolving and purifying them into the ocean of love. Nix, the Greek goddess of darkness and night, the black hole and void from which all of creation emanates, birthed Charon. Nix is the primordial mother, an immortal vortex to which all manifested form returns and is reborn. Pluto cycles us into Nix, the mother of creation, over and over again each time redeeming us and rebirthing us into a fuller expression of our essential nature. We recognize that the divine feminine has never abandoned us. She watches over us continually renewing us with the purity of her love and devotion. Once we cross the threshold into Styx, Kerberos, a three headed hellhound, guards the gate of the abyss preventing us from escaping its transformative powers. The three heads represent past, present, and future or birth, youth, and old age. You may say that Kerberos is father time given the honored duty of keeping our appointment with the awakening of our soul. When Pluto’s potency orbits through our life, we are changed and there is no turning back. At each turn of the spiral we descend inward releasing spent energies and fears, gestating and reconfiguring a new symphony of vibration before moving outward and sounding the fresh song of our limitless spirit.
At the inner reaches of consciousness a New Horizon is in our midst awaiting our discovery of magnificent treasures of intimacy and oneness, the power of the divine feminine within our essence. Our ability to choose emboldens the fusion of our lower self into our higher self as we move through this grand cycle of purification. We have an entire universe of loving energies entering our sphere bathing us in guidance and encouragement. Can we hear the call of spirit and find the heart courage to move beyond the disquieting comfort of our mood stabilizers, stagnant patterns, and misappropriated beliefs and let go of our fears? Can we embrace the glorious beauty and love we have for our own body and touch the soft, gentle nature of kindness, forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion as we learn how to truly love our self, knowing that we are divine? Can we allow the raw survival forces of the lower self to merge with the compassionate caring wisdom of our higher self and surrender our will to the heart and will of Spirit? As Pluto’s entourage moves through your heart, how will the power of caring love and reverence for the beauty of interdependence and unity transform your song?
This article was published in The Spirit of Ma'at, August 2013 issue.