2020 promises to be a year of big changes astrologically, culminating with a Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction, also known as a Great Conjunction, in Aquarius at the Winter Solstice. This will mark the end of a two-century era in which the Great Conjunctions fell in Earth Signs and the beginning of a new two-century era in which they will occur in Air Signs.
As if this were not enough, before Jupiter and Saturn can come together, they will both have had to cross the path of Pluto. Saturn closed in on Pluto on January 12, 2020, and Jupiter will meet with Pluto three times, on April 4, June 30, and November 12.
While all astrologers agree that the Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction has great significance, what about the meaning of the conjunctions of both of these planets with Pluto?
Answers to this question will vary widely by who you talk to. A Modern Psychological Astrologer or an Evolutionary Astrologer will attach deep meaning to these transits, while a strict Traditional Astrologer might say that they have no meaning at all.
In order to examine this subject, it might be helpful to take a closer look at Pluto, its history, and the significance that has been given to it by astrologers.
The History of Pluto
Before we delve into the astrological and metaphysical meanings of Pluto, let us step back and look at what we know about the discovery of this planet, its demotion, and its current place in modern astronomy.
Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh when he was 23 years old. He worked at the Lowell Observatory, and his job was to search for Planet X. A century had not yet gone by since the discovery of Neptune in the mid-1840s.
Apparently, in the late 19th century, some astronomers believed that the orbits of Uranus and Neptune were not what they were supposed to be and speculated that there was another planet causing the anomaly. This undiscovered planet was called Planet X.
Percival Lowell was a wealthy Bostonian and scholar who was interested in a variety of subjects, including mathematics and astronomy. He founded the Lowell Observatory, and searching for Planet X was one of his pet projects.
Percival Lowell did not live to see his dream become a reality, but one of the glyphs that is commonly used for Pluto has a combined P and L, which in addition to being the first letters for the name of the planet, were also the initials of his name.
Beginning in the early 1990s, barely 60 years into its discovery, Pluto’s status as a planet was beginning to be called into question. Part of the reason for this is that astronomers were finding out just how small Pluto really is. It is about two-thirds of the size of the Earth’s Moon.
Another difficulty is that Pluto’s orbit is quite messy. Like the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Pluto’s orbit is filled with other space objects and is now known to be a part of a region that has been named the Kuiper Belt.
Pluto’s final fall from grace happened when another body larger than it was found to be further out into the Kuiper Belt. This body eventually became known as Eris, after the Greek goddess of strife and discord.
In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially determined the definition of a planet to be a celestial body that 1) is in orbit around the Sun; 2) has enough mass to be round; 3) has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.
Celestial bodies that have only met the first two criteria are now known as dwarf planets, and there are now 5 bodies that belong in this classification, among them, Pluto, Eris, and Ceres.
Pluto’s demotion was highly controversial. In his book, The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium and one of the key players in Pluto’s reclassification, tells the story of the popular outcry. Apparently, Dr. Tyson received quite a bit of mail complaining about the demotion, which included letters from elementary school children. One letter even included a picture of Pluto crying.
It turns out that the elementary school children discussed above may have been right to be concerned about Pluto’s feelings. Unbeknownst to anyone, Pluto apparently has a heart.
In 2006, the space probe, New Horizons, was launched to explore the outer Solar System. This probe arrived at Pluto in 2015 and mapped this celestial body along with its largest moon, Charon. Charon is so large in comparison with Pluto that Charon does not actually orbit Pluto. Instead, these bodies orbit a point between them.
New Horizons sent back a great deal of data about Pluto. Some of the most interesting discoveries were that the most prominent feature of Pluto’s landscape is a large heart-shaped region and that there may be water beneath its surface.
Pluto in Astrology
Pluto’s role in astrology has also taken many twists and turns. At the present time, Pluto is just as controversial in the astrological community as it is in the scientific one. For the most part, Indian astrology does not incorporate Pluto or any of the modern planets, but for such a small celestial body, it has become a very big bone of contention among Western astrologers.
Below are some of the views of Pluto based on three of the main branches of Western Astrology.
Strict Traditional or Classical Astrologers ignore Pluto altogether. They also ignore Uranus, Neptune, and all of the asteroids. They primarily use the Seven Traditional Planets and see no need to make room for any of the planets discovered in modern times. This is, in part, because of the doctrine of visibility, which is that only the bodies that are visible have meaning to our lives.
Yet, there are many astrologers, some of them quite well-known, that use mostly traditional methodology and still incorporate Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in their readings.
In general, though, these astrologers do not assign the planets the rulerships of any signs, and instead, stick to the traditional rulership scheme.
Modern Psychological Astrology
The most common branch of astrology that is practiced in the West can be loosely described as Modern Psychological. Actually, this is far from a unified or organized school of thought, but there are some common themes.
The reason it is often termed psychological astrology is that its primary purpose is to describe people’s personality traits and internal psychological dynamics. Often, practitioners do not try to predict events that will happen in people’s lives but instead focus on a person’s Free Will.
Planets and celestial bodies are often incorporated into the system shortly after they are discovered. Innovation is welcome and even encouraged by practitioners.
In Modern Psychological Astrology, Pluto governs deep internal psychological forces. The associations for Pluto are often quite dark, although, it is also termed the planet of “transformation.” Pluto is assigned the rulership of Scorpio, sometimes alongside Mars, the traditional ruler, and sometimes in place of Mars. Areas assigned to Pluto are the areas of the psyche are ugly, violent, and that most people try to keep buried.
On a global level, it has been noted that Pluto was discovered as we were discovering atomic power, and the element named for it, plutonium, was used in the first atomic bomb detonated in war.
Pluto’s demotion has not changed its usage by most Modern Psychological Astrologers, although some have included other dwarf planets, such as Ceres and Eris, into their readings.
Evolutionary Astrology takes Pluto even further, teaching that it is central to a person’s soul. Indeed, it points to the soul’s karma and its intentions in this present life. One of the major schools of Evolutionary Astrology is known as The Pluto School.
This branch of astrology also combines a sign, its ruler, and the house whose number corresponds to that sign, and gives them all a synonymous meaning. In this system, Scorpio, Pluto, and the 8th House all mean approximately the same thing.
Interestingly enough, this system places a heavy emphasis on Free Will. The chart is just a reflection of your past up until the point that you were born, and you can decide what to do with it in this life.
Even so, in many cases, Evolutionary Astrology often takes a close look at the traumas and unpleasant experiences that one has encountered in this and previous lives.
Further Discussion and Research
Last spring, on the Astrology Podcast, hosted by Chris Brennan, there was an interesting episode titled How Did Pluto and the Outer Planets Get Their Meanings. The panelists were Chris Brennan, Kenneth Miller, Sam Reynolds, and Lisa Schaim.
This was a very good discussion, and I highly recommend it.
One of the more interesting parts of this video was a discussion by Kenneth Miller about a study he conducted regarding the views of astrologers concerning Pluto since its discovery.
According to his research, for the first few decades, most astrologers were unsure of whether Pluto did have meaning and if so, what that meaning was. Sometimes it seemed to impact people and sometimes it did not.
In most cases, astrologers from the early decades of Pluto’s discovery seemed to think that Pluto was only relevant in a birth chart if it impacted other planets or chart points in the chart.
In modern times, however, Kenneth Miller observed that astrologers who use Pluto are convinced that it does have meaning, are confident of that meaning, and see evidence of its influence whether or not it is connected with the more personal planets.
In the episode, he pondered what that might mean, assuming that both the astrologers of the past and present astrologers were faithfully reporting their professional observations. Could it be that Pluto actually is more influential now than it was in the past?
Also discussed in this video was the practice of ascribing meaning to Pluto and other celestial bodies based on the name given to them by astronomers as well as by what was going on in the world during their discovery. The basis for this practice is the doctrine of synchronicity. One of the observations made, however, that there did not seem to be any discussion of the significance of Pluto’s demotion according to synchronicity.
Pluto and Free Will
One of the central controversies in astrology concerns the roles of Fate and Free Will in our lives. This is not just an abstract philosophical discussion. For astrologers, it has profound practical implications. Our position on this issue governs how much we think that a person’s astrological chart can tell us and what we believe that we are able to predict by the movements of the planets.
Ultimately, every astrologer must come to terms with this question for themselves, but the different branches of Western Astrology tend to have different beliefs the interplay between Fate and Free Will.
Modern practitioners of Traditional/Classical Astrology tend to fall heavily on the side of Fate. There are a few who go so far as to think that our entire lives can be predicted with mathematical precision from our charts. This is an extreme view and is not held by many practicing astrologers, however.
Astrologers in the Hellenistic Age seemed to have a more nuanced view and in general, believed that some things were fated and some were subject to Free Will. I have found that most modern Traditional and Classical Astrologers would agree with this. Yet, I think that almost all would say that Fate plays at least some role in what happens to us and that we can predict our present and our future to a certain extent from our birth charts.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are Evolutionary Astrologers who do not believe in Fate, but ascribe everything to Free Will. As discussed before, in this branch, our birth chart only reflects the choices that we have made in past lives. Our present and future paths are up to us.
Most Modern Psychological Astrologers fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
For my own thoughts on the subject, I refer the reader to the article below:
One of the things that I have noticed is that it seems that there is a correlation between how much astrologers believe Pluto and the Outer Planets impact us and how great of a role Free Will plays in our lives.
I do not think that this is a coincidence.
Thoughts and Reflections
When I first read, The Feminist Universe, by Miss Alice Trent, I learned about the modern poisons of atomization, deracination, and deformation. Atomization separates us from each other, deracination separates us from our Source, and deformation twists and inverts that which is good and beautiful, making it an ugly parody.
If you are interested, you can purchase a copy of The Feminine Universehere.
When I was reading about these poisons, I was struck with how similar they were to the accepted meanings of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
Based on these reflections, and in monitoring my own chart as the charts of my clients and others I know, I have developed my own practice as to how I use Pluto and the Outers.
I do believe that they can have an impact on people, but that this impact is almost entirely the result of Free Will.
I believe that the Traditional Planets, which we can see with the naked eye, cannot be avoided. We do have some Free Will with respect to how we interact with the principles they represent, but we are fated to deal with them as Axial Beings in the material world. For example, a mortal cannot avoid Saturn. We will all face the ravages of time and will eventually die.
We can, however, avoid delving into the depths of Pluto. In order to see it, we must go to substantial lengths and effort to do so. I think that is a metaphor for the Pluto principle as well.
On the other hand, no one is an island, and if our society has embraced Pluto, we will be impacted by it at some level whether we want to be or not. I find it interesting that there has been an outcry against the demotion of Pluto, and that many astrologers have ignored it completely.
If synchronicity was involved in its discovery, surely its demotion was meaningful as well. I think that, perhaps, we have been given the choice to reject the principles that have been associated with it. Maybe, over time, our society will be able to make that choice.
Perhaps, we can use this year of changes to stop employing Pluto as a symbol for the principle which encourages us to dig up parts of our psyche better left buried or to take apart the building blocks of matter giving the power to destroy ourselves. Instead, we can let it alone to be a teeny world at the edge of our Solar System. We can enjoy its dance with its partner, Charon, let it have its heart, and speculate about what might be in the oceans beneath its surface.
After planetary rulerships, one of the biggest divides between Traditional and Modern astrologers is in the area of Generational Astrology. In Modern Astrology, generations are marked by the Outer Planets, particularly Pluto. In Traditional Astrology, generations are marked with the Great Conjunctions, or the conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn, which occur every 20 years.
To be honest, before I was convinced to use Classical methods, one of my biggest objections was over Generational Astrology. Pluto in Leo really seemed to describe the Baby Boom generation very well, and Pluto in Virgo seemed to describe Gen X, my generation, as well. Yet, when I looked at the chart for my generation from the perspective of the Great Conjunction, the detail was incredible, far richer than what I could glean from just knowning the sign of Pluto at the time of my birth. That is one of the things that convinced me to switch to Traditional/Classical methods in my work.
For several years, I did not use the Outer Planets for anything, but I have come to believe that the Outers do have some impact on us. More precisely, I believe that they can have impact on us. I have formulated a theory that the Outer Planets represent modern poisons. So, given this, it is possible that the Outer Planets do say something about generations, at least in the Modern Era.
What is a Generation Anyway?
In order to discuss generations in astrology, we must first understand what we mean by this term. When I looked up it up on Wikipedia, there seem to be several different definitions. It could mean “all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively.” Alternatively, it could mean, “the average period, generally considered to be about thirty years, during which children are born and grow up, become adults, and begin to have children of their own.” The term generations can also be used to describe the relationships within individual extended families.
In the 20th and 21st Centuries, generations in the United States were given labels. These labels were used in many ways, but in the present time, they are used heavily for marketing purposes. Businesses want to know how to effectively advertise to each generation. There does not seem to be uniformity as to the actual start and end dates of each generation, but this is a common demarcation:
GI Generation – 1901 – 1926
Silent Generation – 1927 – 1945
Baby Boomers – 1946 – 1964
Generation X – 1965 – 1980
Millenial Generation – 1981 – 2000
Generation Z – after 2001
Traditionally, generations were marked by Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions, also known as Great Conjunctions, and they occur approximately every 20 years. Below are the dates and the charts for all of the Great Conjunctions since 1900 to the present. With Great Conjunctions, the chart is specific for each location, and these charts are cast for Chicago, Illinois.
November 28, 1901
September 9, 1921
August 8, 1940 – Triple Conjunction
The Great Conjunction of 1940 was actually a triple conjuction. August 8 was the first, but the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction repeated on October 20, 1940 and February 15, 1941. Multiple Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions are quite rare. The last multiple conjuction was in 1821, which was a double conjunction in Aries, and the last triple conjuction was in 1682-1683 in Leo.
February 18, 1961
December 31, 1980 – Triple Conjunction
This was yet another triple conjunction. The second Jupiter/Saturn conjunction was on March 4, 1981, and the third was on July 24, 1981. It seems significant that there were two triple conjunctions in the 20th Century.
May 28, 2000
It would take a lot time to delineate each of these charts, but just taking a superficial look, it seems that the dates do not match completely with the generation dates. On the other hand half of them begin during the same year as the Great Conjunctions. It is also interesting to note that the triple conjunction of 1940 corresponds roughly with the “Baby Boomers” and the triple conjunction of 1980 corresponds almost exactly with the “Millenials.”
One of the advantages to using Great Conjunctions is that there is a full chart to delineate, though. Furthermore, it is possible to watch the changes as the Jupiter/Saturn cycle moves through its phases.
Now that we have seen the Great Conjunctions, let us compare them to the Pluto ingresses.
Pluto was not discovered until 1930, and even if Pluto does have impact, I do not know that it is really fair to count it before it was discovered. Still, for the sake of comparing dates, I will list them.
Another issue with using Pluto signs is that because of the retrograde cycle, there is usually a period of time in which it would go back and forth between signs. I will list the date of first ingress and the date of the final ingress.
First ingress – July 21, 1882
Final ingress – April 19, 1884
First ingress – September 10, 1912
Final ingress – May 26, 1914
**Februrary 18, 1930 – date of Pluto’s discovery**
First ingress – October 7, 1937
Final ingress – June 14, 1939
First ingress – October 20, 1956
Final ingress – June 10, 1958
First ingress – October 5, 1971
Final ingress – July 30, 1972
First ingress – November 5, 1983
Final ingress – August 28, 1984
First ingress – January 17, 1995
Final ingress – November 10, 1995
First ingress – January 26, 2008
Final ingress – November 27, 2008
While the Great Conjunction dates were not an exact match, the Pluto ingresses are not even close. I think that a review of the dates alone is enough to rule out Pluto as a marker for the generations, even as they are defined at present in the United States.
While it is clear that Pluto ingresses do not correspond with the generations as they are defined in the U.S., there is a potential way to use Pluto, if one is so inclined. If one were to view Pluto as in indicator of a modern poison, there is an argument that it does have at least some validity. For example, Pluto in Leo does seem to have relevance to the Baby Boomers in the U.S., growing up in the time of unprecedented affluence, but with constant fear of nuclear attack, to the extent they had “duck and cover” drills at school.
On the other hand, this influence, should one choose to accept it, can be seen in the Great Conjunction chart of 1940. This is a full chart, and Pluto is in Leo in that chart.
In this article, we have looked at the traditional method of measuring generations using Great Conjunctions and the modern method of using Pluto signs. It seems that the evidence overwhelmingly favors the Great Conjunctions. While not exact, the dates of the Great Conjuctions match the non-astrological delineations of the generations better than Pluto ingresses do. This method generates charts that can be studied and analyzed, where as Pluto signs can only give “pop astrology” type descriptions. Finally, any markers that Pluto signs might have can be read into the Great Conjunction charts, if one is so inclined.
Evolutionary Astrology is a relatively new branch of astrology. This branch seems to claim to be able to trace the soul’s journey from incarnation to incarnation and to determine what a soul is trying to accomplish in this lifetime. This branch also claims to be an astrology about freedom and choice. As a caveat to this article, I have not studied Evolutionary Astrology in depth. My knowledge is based on the introductory materials that can be found on the internet. For this reason, I might be misunderstanding key concepts. My musings are from the perspective of an outside observer only.
Even though I use mostly Classical Western methods, there are things I do find interesting about Evolutionary Astrology, and in many ways, I want to like it. One of the main schools in this branch is led by Steven Forrest. When I was studying astrology in my teens, Steven Forrest’s books, The Inner Skyand The Changing Sky, were some of the mainstays of my self-education. I really like his approach to astrology and his gentle wisdom and humor.
I also like the use of astrology as a tool to aid one’s spiritual journey in this life. I disagree with the methodology of Evolutionary Astrology to the extent that I understand it, but I largely agree with many (but not all) of the core perceptions as outlined on Steven Forrest’s site. While I do really want to like it, there are some things I just can not get past.
Is Evolutionary Astrology Just Another Astrological Language?
Before I continue, there is the question of whether Evolutionary Astrology is simply a new astrological language. If that is the case, as a non-speaker of that language, I really do not have any business commenting at all. It is tempting to go that route. After all, it seems best when we can all just get along.
I think, though, that Evolutionary Astrology really is more than just a different language. By its very nature, it is not just talking about the physical world or people’s inner psychological workings. It is talking about the soul and matters that touch upon Fundamental Truth.
One of the other main founders of Evolutionary Astrology, Jeff Wolf Green, says that he received the basic tenets of this branch from a dream. This is an example of revealed knowledge, further evidence that we are looking at claims concerning Fundamental Truth. This means that this is not just a new astrological language, but a philosophy, and perhaps a religion.
I accept as a given that as beings in an unEnlightened state, our ability to understand Fundamental Truth is limited. Different religions tell different narratives to describe Truth, but none of these narratives are Truth itself. This does not mean that knowledge of these matters is merely a matter of perception and opinion, though. When looking at matters of Fundamental Truth, there are ideas that are in error. Thus, I am examining the philosophy behind Evolutionary Astrology, as I understand it, from a Traditional perspective.
The Name, Evolutionary Astrology
The first difficulty I have is the name itself. From a Traditional perspective, the direction of manifestation is decline, not progress. The word, evolution, means moving away from the Center. The main philosophy behind Evolutionary Astrology is that our souls incarnate from lifetime to lifetime and that the birthchart can tell the “evolutionary condition” at the state of birth.
I do believe in reincarnation, or transmigration of souls, but my belief is closer to the Vedic and Buddhist traditions, in which this transmigration is part of the Wheel of Samsara. The ultimate goal of our souls is not to “evolve” on this wheel, but to escape it. Now, of course, it could be that the name of this branch of astrology does not really encompass a belief that our souls are progressing through evolution, but merely addresses why we are still on the Wheel of Samsara. I do not know enough about it to be sure. On the other hand, the Vedic tradition of astrology, which does address matters of Samsara, has been around a long time and is deeply rooted in an unbroken line between guru and student. Is a modern, Western branch of astrology that does the same thing necessary? That is really a question, by the way. I do not know the answer.
My biggest fundamental difficulty with Evolutionary Astrology comes from the heavy use of the dwarf planet, Pluto. Evolutionary Astrology claims that the sign and house position of Pluto is fundamental to understanding the soul’s purpose in this life.
This claim is going beyond saying the Pluto has an impact on our lives, which I think is possible. It is even going beyond giving Pluto rulership of the sign, Scorpio, which I think is false and a disruption of the entire system. This seems to be going so far as to elevate Pluto above the level of the Traditional planets on a spiritual level. Indeed, one of the current schools of Evolutionary Astrology is called “The Pluto School.”
This elevation is not just a matter of technique by which reasonable astrologers might disagree. This is stating something about the nature of Fundamental Truth, and as such, needs to be carefully examined. I have come to see Pluto as representative of the poison of deformation or inversion of right and wrong, so this elevation of Pluto seems particularly troublesome to me.
Another difficulty is that Pluto was not discovered until 1930. Does that mean that we did not have access to information about the state of our souls until that time? This, more than anything, would seem to be a fatal flaw in the system.
On the other hand, according to Platonic and Eastern Traditions, we are currently in the late Iron Age, or Kali Yuga. This is the end of a larger cycle, and our souls could very well be using this lifetime to clean up old werde or karma before the next Golden Age begins. As such, we may need to deal with unsavory elements from our past lives, I do not know. If that were the case, perhaps we did not need to look at Plutonian issues until recently.
Still, from what I have seen, Evolutionary Astrology goes into areas of much complexity, and I wonder how useful and necessary this really is. Indeed, my own feeling is that being in the late Iron Age is all the more reason not to delve into such deep and dark complex matters.
In my own spiritual tradition, we are taught to turn away from these sorts of complexities as much as we can. In the Cry Marya, from the Gospel of Our Mother God, it is written, “All the complexities of the world are but the turnings of a labyrinth, and at the centre is the fiery rose-heart of our Mother, burning with perfect love.” We are taught that in this late Age, all that is required of us is to turn to Our Mother like humble, small children. We are assured that She will make up for any deficiencies in our devotion.
Fate and Free Will
Another difficulty I have with Evolutionary Astrology is what seems to be a rather extreme position on the question of fate and free will. One of the core perceptions of Evolutionary Astrology as outlined on Steven Forrest’s site is: “An acceptance of the fact that human beings are responsible for the realities they experience, both internally and externally.”
I am a strong believer in Free Will, and I have a lot of difficulty with Traditional/Classical Astrologers who take a mechanical and fatalistic approach to our craft. On the other hand, I do not believe that Free Will necessarily means the freedom of agency with respect to our material existence. If that were the case, it would seem to lead to some rather harsh results.
For example, what about children who are born into horribly abusive households or into extreme poverty? Are they responsible for their plight? In some traditions, including the Vedic one, the answer might be yes, because of misdeeds from a previous life. In the Buddhist tradition, all of life is suffering, and these situations just represent more obvious forms.
The problem of human suffering is particularly difficult for monotheistic faiths. Indeed, there is the old monotheistic paradox that if God were all-powerful, God can not be good, and if God were good, God can not be all-powerful. The issue of suffering is directly addressed in the Judeo-Christian written tradition in the Book of Job. There is also the famous question in the Christian tradition from the Gospel According to John, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:2 NRSV
In the Filianic tradition, suffering is part of the necessary imperfection of manifestation, and it is beyond our power to fully comprehend from an unEnlightened state. We do not always have freedom of action or agency on the material plane. We do, however, have absolute Free Will in whether to turn to the Light or to the Dark, regardless of our material circumstances. This may or may not change anything in the physical world, but our choices will have a direct and clear impact on our souls.
On a material level, there are areas we have choice and areas we do not. I think it unnecessarily harsh to say that we are responsible for everything we experience.
The Moon’s Nodes
In Evolutionary Astrology, the Moon’s Nodes represent the life path of the native. The South Node represents where we are coming from and the North Node represents where we are going.
In Classical/Traditional Astrology, there is no consensus as to the meaning of the Nodes. In Vedic Astrology, the Nodes are the Head and Tail of the Dragon, Rahu and Ketu, respectively. Both are considered malefic.
In my own practice, I have not seen an appreciable difference between the North and South Nodes, and I tend to view both as malefic. They are the places that eclipses form. I see eclipses as waves of darkness over the world soul. I do believe they have a karmic influence, but not necessarily on the level of individual souls. I think they represent collective karma, and the place they touch our charts is where our individual souls connect with or are impacted by the world soul. I think this is particularly true for those born during or whose charts progress into eclipse seasons. This is not a Traditional approach, but one that I developed in my own experience and practice.
There are things that I like about Evolutionary Astrology, in particular, the practice of using astrology to assist with the development of the soul. It seems to be a popular branch of astrology in this day and age, and I can see how it can be helpful to people. On the other hand, I find some of the techniques and practices problematic, especially the elevation of Pluto and what seems to be an extreme position on the question of Fate and Free Will. These techniques and practices raise important issues with respect to the philosophy of astrology and delve into matters that relate to Fundamental Truth.
A while back, I wrote an article about a theory that the Outer Planets represented the three poisons of the modern world, atomization, deracination, and deformation. This article can be found here.
I have recently had the occasion to further consider the Outer Planets, and some of the pseudomythos that has arisen surrounding them. In many ways, the pseudomythos* surrounding the Outer Planets is an outgrowth of the pseudomythos of Evolution. Indeed, in New Age astrology, the Outer Planets seem to be almost the agents of evolution, with the belief that the Outer Planets are the “higher octaves” of traditional planets and that they bring about “transcendence,” which is, according to this pseudomythos, a better or higher state of being.
While there are many variations of the “higher octave” theory, the most common one is that Uranus is the “higher octave” of Mercury, Neptune is the “higher octave” of Venus, and Pluto is the “higher octave” of Mars. The first and foremost problem with this theory is that all of the traditional planets are representatives of the Janyati, or aspects of the Divine. The existence of a planet that is a “higher octave” robs these planets of their status as one of the Seven Great Planetary Janyati. Indeed, the associations given to the Outer Planets have been robbed from the traditional planets. For example, the association of genius with Uranus usurps Mercury’s place as the representative of Divine Intelligence. Similarly, the association of Sacrificial Love to Neptune usurps Venus’ place as the representative of Divine Love, which includes Sacrificial Love. Indeed, the associations for both Mercury and Venus have been severely watered down in Modern Astrology.
Interestingly, the associations for Pluto have not seemed to really take anything away from Mars, except of course, the rulership of Scorpio. The associations for Pluto seem to be a combination of the worst Tamasic qualities of Mars and Saturn. Actually, the associations of Pluto seem to be the most honest, in that they are about as malefic as one can get. Yet, there is a strange notion that Pluto is “transformational,” but as Prof. Clark stated in his article, Into the Outer Darkness, “let’s just say that if Pluto is ‘transformational’ so is nuclear war and high levels of toxic radiation.”
Actually, assigning rulerships to the Outer Planets is problematic in and of itself. In the article, Into the Outer Darkness, Prof. Clark explains the traditional system of rulership of the planets to the signs. In this system, each of the non-luminary planets rules two signs, with a day sign and a night sign. The malefics, Mars and Saturn are thought to be better in the signs that are the opposite of their nature. Mars benefits by the coolness of night, and Saturn benefits by the warmth of day. The night sign of Mars is Scorpio, and the day sign of Saturn is Aquarius. In assigning the rulership of Scorpio to Pluto and Aquarius to Uranus, the malefics are stripped of the signs they are the strongest in. There is much more to say about these rulership assignments, but that could be an article in and of itself.
The other main pseudomythos that has arisen surrounding the Outer Planets is the notion of “transcendence.” The notion that transcendence is positive is a Tamasic notion. Transcending means to go beyond the normal boundaries. Yet, in Filianism, and I think in traditional thought in general, boundaries are positive. As it states in the Clew of Love in the feminine Scripture,
And for the existence that has fallen from perfection; truly it is the music of Divine harmony that sustains it in the motion of its wholeness.
It is Love that holds the drop of dew pendent upon the blade of grass, neither flowing forth in watery profusion, but swelling within the unseen urn of its brief harmony.
It is love that holds the stars within their courses, and all of the worlds of the immeasurable cosmos within the harmony of the celestial music.
Truly, all the cycles of the times and the seasons; all the rhythms of the soul and of the mind and of the flesh; truly all these flow from the love of Our Lady, the Maid, that creation may not decompose, each several member flying away into black eternal chaos.
To go higher is to ascend. In the Filianic Mythos of the Daughter, the Daughter ascends to Heaven. Similarly, in the Christian narrative, Jesus ascends to heaven. To go below is to descend. To transcend is to go beyond the boundaries of Love, or to fly away into “black eternal chaos.”
I think that this concept of “transcendence” is similar to the modern assertion of being “spiritual, but not religious.” I do understand the frustration people experience with the overly literal and overly systematized state of modern religion, particularly Christianity. I also understand that the separation of the religious and the secular is rather artificial. On the other hand, what I have found that often when people say they are “spiritual, but not religious,” it is really a form of katte ni suru. Katte ni suru is a Japanese phrase roughly meaning, do what you want, or do your own thing. In Western thought, this is seen as positive, but in Japan, this is quite a scathing insult. This implies that one no longer is a part of the group or the community.
We are also cautioned against this in The Sermon of the Apple Seed, “Dissonant and jarring with eternal Harmony, the little sphere is severed from the great.”
The Outer Planets are also at times called “transpersonal,” meaning that they are beyond or outside of the personal.** Yet, the traditional and Filianic teaching is that maid in a microcosm of the entire Cosmos. As it states in The Secret of the World, “And this is the secret of the world which the world would hide from you: that all things lie within the souls of maid, and only High Dea is without.” Now, one could argue that the “transpersonal” planets are a part of High Dea. The difficulty with that is that High Dea, or the Dark Mother, is by definition beyond anything we can understand from an un-Enlightened state. If we have reached a level of Enlightenment whereby we could understand the Dark Mother, we would have no need of astrology to guide us in our lives.
The Luminaries and the Filianic Trinity
I think that the modern fascination with the Outer Planets and with “transcendence” is part of the phenomenon of Tamasic Dialectic Miss Alice Lucy Trent described in The Feminine Universe. Tamasic (downward) forms take on a resemblance to Sattwic (upward) forms, in part because they both move away from the Rajastic (outward) forms.
I believe that there is a Sattwic form that the notions of “higher octaves” and “transcendence” invert. To explain this, I think an understanding of the Filianic Trinity is helpful. These concepts are certainly not unique to Filianism, and I believe that they are universal in Traditional thought; however, Filianism has a useful Mythos and vocabulary to explain the concept.
In the Filianic Creation Mythos, the Mistress of all Things created all of manifestation in joy and laughter. During this time, Primodial Maid danced and laughed with the Mother and all was golden. Each Maid and all of Creation “became the image of a golden fragment of Her Spirit.” In the cosmos, this is loosely associated with Sai Raya, the Sun, or our Solar Spirit.
After a time that can not be counted, because there “were neither days nor nights, nor moons to tell the month,” Maid was tempted by the Snake, who “had not been shaped by Her, and that was not Her daughter, nor a creature of spirit. But this was the space between the fragments and the nothingness that had been before things were. It had not energy nor delight, but only weight. It had not shape, but could only coil and uncoil itself about the things that were.” The Snake was “not golden, but black.”
In this Mythos, Maid was tempted to embrace rest and created Darkness. Then the Snake tried to destroy Creation with a Flood, but Creation was rescued by the Mother. The aftermath of this turning and Flood is described as follows:
1. And as the rain fell, the light came again, and a rainbow appeared in the sky, shedding its light upon all things. 2. And whereas all things had been golden, now they took on every hue and colour, and the world was beautiful; but it was not so beautiful as it had formerly been.
3. And She set Her seven Powers in the firmament, giving one to rule each colour of the earth.
4 And She said to Her daughter: what you have done may not be undone, for you have acted with My Spirit, and henceforth shall time be divided into day and night that you may rest. 4 But I shall keep watch in the heavens by night, and there shall be silver light that there may never be complete darkness. 6. By this shall I govern the movements of the waters, that the earth may never again be flooded. 7. The golden light of day will bring all goodness, but it will be too bright for your eyes. The silver light of night, that you may look upon.
8. The Snake shall keep the form that you have given it, and you shall be set in governance over it; but remember that it will ever attempt to beguile and destroy you as it has this night.
9. I shall not live as close to you as before, but still I shall pour blessings upon you, and you may give Me gifts — not in every moment as before, for you have learned to tire, but My light shall give you signs in this matter.
10. And the Mistress of All Things withdrew Herself into the sky, until She seemed but a slender crescent of light. 11. And the first daughter of creation fell to her knees and wept. And these were the first tears shed upon the whole of the earth.
As I stated before, in the Filianic Trinity, the Mother is loosely associated with Sai Raya, the Sun, or Solar principle. That which was before and beyond the Mother Creatrix is the Dark Mother, who is the “Darkness beyond the Light, and the Light beyond the Darkness,” but who is also completely beyond our understanding. The Dark Mother is loosely associated with Sai Rhavë, whose planetary representative is Saturn.
The bridge between the Mother and Creation, who has turned from the Mother, is the Daughter, who is loosely associated with Sai Candre, the Moon, or the Lunar principle. She is the “silver light of night, that you may look upon.” The Daughter is also the aspect of the Filianic Trinity that sustains all of Creation.
Interestingly enough, in contemplating the Traditional Model of the Cosmos, one can see that the spheres between the Solar and the Lunar are the Spheres of Sai Mati/Mercury and Sai Sushuri/Venus. These respectively represent the spiritual Way of Light and Way of Love. Both the Matic and the Sushuric principles are seen in a lower form in the Lunar principle and in a higher form in the Solar Principle. The lower form of the Matic principle is Lunar Reason, and the higher form is Solar Intellect. See Mummies and Lunimaries. Sadly, this article has already gotten quite long and involved, so I will have to leave the explanation of how this works with the Sushuric principle for another day. The Way of Love and the Way of Light are intertwined, however. As it says in Scripture, “perfect love is perfect knowledge and perfect knowledge is perfect love.”
Contemplating the Traditional Model of the Cosmos further, one can see that the Sun is in the center. Just beyond the Solar Sphere is the Sphere of Sai Vikhë or Mars. The highest form of the Vikhelic Principle is that of protection and rescue. In the Filianic Mythos, it is the Mother that rescues and defends Creation from the Snake. So, in some ways, I think that one can consider the Solar Principle as the highest form of the Vikhelic principle as well.
Interestingly enough, you can see the Solar Circle in the glyphs for Sai Mati/Mercury, Sai Sushuri/Venus, and Sai Vikhë/Mars.**
So, as you can see, there is no need to reach into “the Outer Darkness” with the Outer Planets for “transcendence.”
*a pseudomyth is a story-picture that falsely replaces traditional myth as the fundamental story of “how things are”
In the first place, let us be clear that the Janyati are not “forces” or “energies” conceived after the model of Newtonian physics (and dearly beloved of New Age movements). They are Intelligences. They are not people like us, it is true. But they are something more than people, not less than people. The greatest force in the universe is less than a person. It cannot think. We are speaking here of Intelligences immeasurably greater than ourselves. They have everything we people have, magnified a thousand times, and they have many qualities we cannot even conceive of. To picture them as something akin to people may not do them justice, but to picture them as something impersonal, like a force of nature, would do them infinitely less justice. They are everything we are and much more.
***if one truly contemplates the glyphs associated with the Outer Planets using the tradition meaning for the symbols of the Circle, the Crescent, and the Cross, the meanings for them are chillingly demonic. One can clearly see how they can not be “higher octaves” of anything!
We have discussed the origins of rationalist thought, and the 7 Divine Principles and the 12 Archetypes. So, what does this all mean, and why does this matter to astrology as an applied science?
Let us go back to the disagreement between Plato and Aristotle on the issue of Perfect Form, and the later introduction of nominalism. If you recall, Plato taught that Perfect Forms exist at the level of the Divine. This teaching was not unique to Plato, and this is one of the basic precepts of essentialism. Aristotle taught that all Perfect Forms must manifest in the material world, and any Perfect Form that does not manifest in the material world does not exist. The later philosophy of nominalism teaches that only the manifest world exists. Why do these differences matter?
In astrology, the Perfect Forms would be the Divine Principles and the 12 Archetypes. According to Plato, and prior Traditional teachings, while the physical manifestation of these Forms derive from the Perfect Form, they are not necessarily perfect representations of these forms. Also, Perfect Forms may exist without ever becoming manifest in physical form. According to Aristotelian thought, all Perfect Forms must be manifest in physical form. Nominalist thought would not acknowledge any Forms beyond manifest forms.
While nominalist thought would state that the cosmos is the manifest universe, in the Traditional Model of the Cosmos, the manifest universe is the sublunary plane, and only the sublunary plane. Plato and Aristotle would agree that the Traditional Model of the Cosmos is true and that the Solar System is a microcosm of the full cosmos. Under this Model, the stars and planets that we can see are a visual model of the larger cosmos that we can not see. The disagreement between the philosophers is over the question of whether what we can see is an exact replica of the cosmos we can not see. According to Platonic thought, it does not have to be. If what is seen in the physical sky does not match the Model of the Cosmos, it is interesting, but it does not change the metaphysical principles involved. According to Aristotelian thought, if what is seen in the physical sky does not match our teachings regarding the Model of the Cosmos, this calls into question these teachings.
One may ask, if we accept the axiom, “As above, so below,” does this not mean that it is Aristotelian thought that must be true? Should not what we see on the material plane match the metaphysical principles we can not see? Not necessarily. There is another axiom we can use to explain discrepancies between the physical and the metaphysical: “Earth moves, but Heaven is still.” If one understands this axiom, one can see that it is not possible for a Perfect Form to manifest on the physical level. Perfect Forms only exist at the level of the Highest Heaven. Even at the level of the Sphere of the Fixed Stars, manifestation becomes imperfect. This is why there can be evil fixed stars, such as Algol. By the time we get to the level of the sublunary plane, forms become quite imperfect. Forms we can see are reflections of the Perfect Form, but just as the reflection of the Moon does not look exactly like the physical Moon in the sky, the reflections of Perfect Forms do not look exactly like the Perfect Forms in the Highest Heaven. Combining the axiom, “As above, so below,” with the axiom, “Earth moves, Heaven is still,” one can see how Platonic and Traditional Essentialist thought would be the soundest philosophy and doctrine.
Again, why does this matter? Let us apply the three different philosophies to the 2 crises in astrology, the “discovery” of a heliocentric solar system, and the “discovery” of the Outer Planets.
The “discovery” of a heliocentric solar system is only a difficulty if one adheres to nominalism. According to both Platonic and Aristotelian thought, an observation that the physical Sun is the center of the physical solar system is consistent with the metaphysical principle of the Solar Heart being central, see Mummies and Luminaries. The manifest solar system exists in the sublunary plane, so an observation that the physical Sun is central to the physical solar system does not challenge the Traditional Model of the Cosmos in any way, and in fact, this observation supports generally accepted metaphysical teachings. The only way that the “discovery” of a heliocentric solar system can challenge the Traditional Model of the Cosmos is if one believes that this model is describing the physical, manifest universe.
The “discovery” of the Outer Planets is a bit more complicated. If one adheres to nonimalism, then the discovery of the Outer Planets becomes of utmost importance. According to this philosophy, it is the physical planets themselves that impact us, so any new planets that are discovered must be incorporated into practice. In fact, we may even need to include bodies such as asteroids, comets, and the moons of other planets into our practice. If we decide to include some, but not all bodies, we must have a good reason for doing so. The burden of proof is on the exclusion of these planets under this analysis.
The “discovery” of the Outer Planets is even more problematic for Aristotelian thought. According to this philosophy, the physical universe must be a replica of the metaphysical cosmos. The “discovery” of extra planets is inconsistent with the doctrines of the 7 Divine Principles and the Traditional Model of the Cosmos. This creates a huge crisis. Do the 3 extra planets mean that there are 3 extra spheres to the cosmos? Are there 3 more Divine Principles? If the physical solar system must be an exact replica of the full cosmos, this would seem to be the case. The “discovery” of extra planets calls into question past metaphysical teachings, and if these teachings are to be preserved, there must be an explanation. History has born this out. The “discovery” of the heliocentric model of the solar system did not disrupt the practice of astrology; the “discovery” of the Outer Planets did.
The “discovery” of the Outer Planets is not a problem for Platonic and Traditional Essentialist thought. Under this philosophy, one does not expect the physical universe to be the exact replica of the entire cosmos. The physical universe reflects the entire cosmos, but there can be and probably are, variations. The fact that there are more physical planets than are accounted for in the Traditional Model of the Cosmos or in the 7 Divine Principles does not change anything. The traditional teachings are preserved. The system that has been passed down for millennia does not need to be revised or changed. The Outer Planets can not represent Divine Principles, because tradition teaches us that there are Seven Divine Principles and the Archetypes that these Principles rule. We treat the tradition that has been passed down to us as sacrosanct.
Under Platonic and Essentialist philosophy, the movements of the Outer Planets may have meaning for us. This does not disrupt tradition. In astrology, there are other points that are traditionally recognized as meaningful that are not equated with Divine Principles. Some examples are the Lunar Nodes and Arabic Parts. On the other hand, the Outer Planets do not have to have meaning just because they exist, have physical properties similar to the Traditional Planets, and can now be perceived with instruments. The burden of proof is placed on assigning them meaning, rather than on not assigning them meaning.
On the other hand, under Platonic thought, even if the Outer Planets have meaning, they can notrule signs, and they do not represent extra cosmological spheres. There are Seven Divine Principles, not nine or ten, and their relationship to the Archetypes is a matter of well established tradition. Assigning rulerships to the Outer Planets disrupts the system in a way that attributing meaning to them does not.
As you can see, returning to Platonic and Traditional Essentialist thought frees us to observe the physical universe and to adjust our practice accordingly. At the same time, it also anchors us and gives us boundaries for these observations and adjustments.
I intended this to be the final article in these series, but this explanation ended up being longer than I expected. Part IV of this series will explore the role of research and observation and its relationship to traditional teachings.
One of the big controversies in astrology is what planets should be included in reading charts. In particular, what do we do with the planets that have been discovered since the 18th Century, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. We have already established that these planets are not a part of the Traditional Model of the Cosmos. One of the difficulties with Modern Astrology is that it abandoned the traditional model of the cosmos and traditional techniques in favor of new “discoveries.”
Traditional Astrology has been gaining ground in the past decade or so, which tries to retrieve and relearn techniques that have been long lost from Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance times. Current practitioners of the craft of Traditional Astrology are not in agreement as to whether the modern planets should included in chart reading. Some will argue that the modern planets have no meaning at all; others will argue that they DO have meaning, but that they should not be given rulerships or dignities in the signs of the zodiac. In my own practice, I will have to say that it took me a while to formulate a theory regarding these planets. For many years, I did not use then at all, and I hardly missed them. Yet, when I included them in my readings, I did find that there was an added dimension to the chart by including them. I did notice that they did not have the higher spiritual meanings ascribed to them by New Age astrologers. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were malefics, pure and simple.
It was only recently, after reading The Feminine Universe, by Miss Alice Lucy Trent that I began to understand a possible new approach to these planets. The Feminine Universe described three poisons of the Modern Era. These poisons are atomization, deracination, and deformation. It is axiomatic and generally agreed by astrologers that give any meaning at all to the modern planets is that their meaning is informed by the social and political conditions taking place when they were “discovered,” and most would agree that they did not have any meaning whatsoever until after their discovery. If this was the case, then any meaning ascribed to them would have to be unique to the modern world. As I thought about the meanings ascribed to these planets and compared them with the description of the above mentioned poisons, they fit almost perfectly together. Below are the definitions of these poisons, as described by The Feminine Universe.
This is the force that separates us from one another. In societies before the Modern Era, people lived most of their lives in community and in family. One’s identity in the world was based on one’s community and family connections. People did not make major decisions on their own. In Modern times, we are very much cut off from each other, even our own families. People live alone. We have complicated governmental programs and insurance to help us in cases of emergency, whereas, in the past, one might rely on one’s family and community to care for us. In many ways, the United States and other democratic nations are founded on atomization, and it is glorified as “rugged individualism.” Interestingly enough, the meaning ascribed to Uranus is that of individualism, that which makes us separate and different from one another. Uranus was discovered in 1781, around the time of the American and French Revolutions.
Deracination is the force that cuts us off from our roots and from our traditions. This poison affects us in many different ways, from the way we dress to our manners and our furniture. We no longer understand or care about our traditions. Our understanding of our place in the world and in our community becomes confused and unclear. This very much fits with the meaning ascribed to Neptune, confusion and lack of definition or clarity. Neptune was discovered in 1846. Interestingly enough, the Theosophical Society, which had a huge role in separating traditional sciences, such as astrology, from their roots, was founded in 1875. In the last half century, deracination has become quite rampant and is most noticeable in the deterioration of our clothing choices and our manners since the mid-1960’s in the West.
The last, and probably most destructive of these three poisons is the poison of Deformation. This poison is one of inversion, an intentional creation of dark and disturbing images. One can hardly watch television or consume any modern media without encountering rampant deformation. The meaning ascribed to Pluto is of death and destruction, a fitting meaning to a planet named with the name of the Lord of the Underworld. Pluto was discovered in 1930, the time period in between the World Wars, and right before World War II. It is about 30 years later that Western civilization began a rampant deterioration that the Feminine Universe describes as the Eclipse.
Now, if the Traditional Planets represent the Higher Cosmological Spheres, it is not hard to extrapolate that the three Outer Planets represent Lower Spheres, or the Outer Darkness, referred to in the Christian tradition. Interestingly enough, these planets may have very well been known about in Ancient times. Certainly, Uranus was. Our Ancient forebears knew enough not to intentionally invoke these planets, however.
In my own astrological practice, I have begun to look to these planets from the viewpoint of places where a Native is most vulnerable to the poisons of atomization, deracination and deformation. In so doing, I have found that this reading has given me far greater accuracy than any other reading of these planets that I have ever tried.