To Hades and Back Again
In my last post, I looked at how we can utilize the energy of Uranus in Aries in a positive way. In this post, I’ll do the same with the other arm of the Uranus-Pluto square — Pluto in Capricorn.
There is an underlying structure to any society — a system of laws, rules, regulations, limits, and taboos that are needed for the smooth operation of human social interactions — the roads and bridges that get us from one place to another, the procedures we use in conducting business, the laws we make to regulate human behaviors, and the invisible structures of cultural expectations.There is an underlying structure to any individual life — a system to fulfill the necessities of food and shelter, demands of family, tribe and society, moral and religious strictures, and of course, the cultural expectations that both support and bind us.
Most of us believe that these systems — or some other systems — are required for the good of all, that without laws, rules, regulations and structures, our civilization would descend into violent chaos. Some of us note that our global civilization — despite reams and terabytes of laws, rules and regulations — is remarkably violent and chaotic, business and government are frequently and blatantly unprincipled and manipulative, we are poisoning our own nest, and many of the systems we have in place support and encourage this kind of suicidal, homicidal and ecocidal behavior. There must, we think, be a better way. There must be indeed, because Pluto’s in Capricorn, and everything we thought we knew about the structures in our lives is likely to change.
As relentless Pluto moves through the sign ruled by stern Saturn, it will look for and find the flaws in any seemingly well-ordered universe of laws, institutions, structures and time-management, and hold those flaws up for everyone to see. It will seek out the fear that is at the base of most of our problems in the world and highlight it for us, so we can understand how the choices we make daily either support fear or work to heal it. It will force us to look deeply at the structures that restrain us, and the fears that haunt us, and decide to what degree those structures and fears will dictate our thoughts and actions.
Death is arguably the biggest fear in our culture, and Pluto rules death — as well as rebirth. Humans also tend to fear change, and Pluto demands it. As an option for dealing with fear and the need for change, Pluto offers "power over" and control. Sadly, many are walking that path, becoming more rigid, more entrenched in their need to master and manipulate everything around them. They seek out knowledge and resources, hoard them, use them to strengthen authority instead of improve lives. But control requires understanding, and sooner or later we run up against something that’s bigger than we are, something we can’t fully understand. Control has its limits, and trying to breach those limits by forcing others to one's will leads to emotional and spiritual bankruptcy.
When Pluto travels through a sign, we must look at what that sign rules, and know that the areas of life that fall under that sign will be subject to death, transformation, and rebirth. As Pluto moves through Capricorn, this means that both the social and the internal structures we depend on will be dying or changing, and new ones will appear in their places. If you are interested in the probable social outcomes of Pluto’s long, strange trip through Capricorn, I suggest reading the blog of Archdruid John Michael Greer, which addresses issues of social change, and especially his latest post, with the quintessentially Pluto-in-Capricorn title of “The Road Down from Empire”. I want to talk more about the personal issues of the transit, though, and this quote from Greer's recent post encapsulates some of the particularly Capricornian changes that are coming up on an individual and societal level.
"It’s a long, rough road down from empire, and the losses involved are not merely material in nature. Basing one’s identity on the privileges and extravagances made possible by the current US global empire may seem like a silly thing to do, but it’s very common. To lose whatever markers of status are respected in any given social class, whether we’re talking about a private jet and a Long Island mansion, a fashionable purse and a chic condo in an upscale neighborhood, or a pickup and a six-pack, can be tantamount to losing one’s identity if that identity has no more solid foundation—and a great many marketing firms have spent decades trying to insure that most Americans never think of looking for more solid foundations."
Concepts of status and social organization are changing and will continue to change as we face the consequences of climate change, resource depletion, and the panic that will ensue as the new realities kick in. The people who will thrive and lead the way towards a sustainable human civilization will be the ones who have a foundation of well-thought-out values and a practical and spiritual connection with the Earth. These people will not depend on external trappings to define themselves, because their identity springs from an awareness of Self, of their individual strengths and talents, as well as an unwavering awareness of how we are all connected in the Web of Life.The do not need "power over" because they have sourced the power within.
This kind of awareness is natural, but it requires looking beyond the trappings of the status quo and into the spiral of life and death, into our beliefs, and deeply into our own hearts. Pluto, now in mutual reception with Saturn in Scorpio, demands that we do the hard, focused work to gain a deeper understanding of reality, not flop around like a fish out of water as the tide of fossil-fueled prosperity recedes. We need to follow the tide out, go deeper in the ocean of awareness, and release the fear of transformation.
To utilize the energy of Pluto in Capricorn on a personal level, we can meditate on the structures that exist in our lives — everything from social contracts to personal habits — and how they support us, restrict us, and tie us to others. We can work to identify our fears — many of which are subconscious — and find ways of managing or eliminating fear.
Fear does work as an agent of change and growth, but it’s neither the only way nor the best. We do have a choice. There are creative, accepting, joyful ways of transforming ourselves and our lives. To manage fear, we can align ourselves with a larger and more expanded view of reality, a view that gives us perspective on life from a place beyond the fear of death, and suggests a structure of values that encompasses both.
Almost every spiritual path has various techniques and methods for aligning with an expanded view of reality — they all demand focus, real work, and a willingness to die to the old to make room for the new. Frequently, it's a hard trip into the depths of our own pain, but when the horizon opens ahead of us, the pain transforms into fuel for our journey. What is required of us is to act — to do the practice of assessing, then changing or removing structures, and the work of identifying and shifting our fears. This work will take us deep into the highways and byways of our own psyche. It will require coming face-to-face with our fears, and permitting them to “pass over me and through me”.1
As the journey continues, Pluto also asks us not only to release fear, but to learn to love deeply — deeply enough to return from the depths we have traveled and fully engage in life. But love, like art, requires limits, if it is to exist within time. Finding appropriate limits and structures for our lives, within which we can live in joy and freedom, is the work of Pluto in Capricorn. It insists that we work hard, and dive deep. The alternative is to cower in fear and clamp down in a futile attempt at control, as our world changes around us. We make our choices in every hour of every day. Which way do you choose?
LITANY AGAINST FEAR
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear - From Frank Herbert's Dune
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