Tropic of Capricorn Sign, image courtesy of Down the Road

By Greg Foster

PLUTO has been described by some modern astrologers as the astrological representative of the soul. Other astrologers in the "psychological" school work with Pluto as the "shadow self" that, when embraced, completes us and puts us in contact with our soul.

Another way to view this planet is as the part of us that's aware of existence beyond the lifespan of a single human being. With a cycle of 248 earth years, no human has been known to experience a Pluto return outside mythology.

A personal planet involved in a natal aspect to Pluto brings the Earth-bound ego into awareness of this soul or life beyond life. Astrologer-artist Antero Ali calls the effect of Pluto transits "deep shocks." This time perspective can show why these shocks are so deep; for instance, the entire history of the United States of America as a sovereign nation is contained in one Pluto cycle. When an intense transit happens, that's a lot of information for a single human ego to withstand, but when the force of Pluto touches a personal planet the ego indeed becomes aware of strange and powerful currents outside its realm of familiarity.

One of my favorite visual representations of the energy of Pluto is in the film Princess Mononoke. The Forest Spirit, part man, part tree, part antelope, reminds me of Pan. As he walks over the living earth the plants beneath his feet spring to vigorous life. But by the same token, a cut branch, separated from its life source, withers at his approach. That's very similar to the process Pluto symbolizes; bringing death to that which is undergoing decay and life to that which is still vital, Pluto quickens and intensifies the process of life.

Pluto spends roughly 18 of the 248 years of his trip around our local star in Capricorn. When this energy puts on the heavy lead robe of the sign of the Sea-Goat, the 10-words-or-less message is get real; change is the only constant. This is partly because Capricorn is the energy we depend upon to hold things stable; Pluto is the energy of the most compelling changes.

Even in the face of impermanence, Capricorn takes Pluto's intensity as a challenge; the Sea-Goat's nature is after all to endure for as long as possible, to establish structures that will long outlast the lives of their creators, and overcoming any obstacles to that purpose.

The part of the body under Capricorn's governance is the skeleton, that which endures even beyond death under the right conditions, and that which provides the solid structure with which the softer parts of the body hold their form and positions relative to each other. The social conventions and governments falling under the archetype of Capricorn serve a similar function in the body of a human society.

Inspirations occurring under Pluto in Sagittarius are brought into manifestation during the Capricorn phase. While Jesus preached in Sagittarius, Paul of Tarsus had his vision on the road to Damascus, converted to Christianity, and spread the Word while Pluto was in Capricorn. Paul of Tarsus is widely credited with establishing the religion of Christianity, loosely based on the teachings of the Christ, and is claimed as a saint by Christian churches of both modern east and west.

Rome got so fat that it almost imploded with Pluto in Sagittarius; Diocletian came along with Pluto in Capricorn and established a pattern that would keep the empire from falling apart for another 400 years in the West and another 1000 years in the East. He divided the empire into western and eastern halves and delegated his authority over the western half to Maximian. He also sponsored the last and most severe state sanctioned persecutions of Christians as the last pagan Emperor of Rome, paving the way for Christianity to become the adopted religion of the Emperor when Constantine took the throne and Pluto slid into Aquarius. Simultaneous with the reign of Diocletian, Gregory the Illuminator in 301 made Armenia the first officially Christian state.

Patterns from one Capricorn cycle to another can also be seen; at the time of Constantine, Christianity was a new and vital religion amidst many others. In 533 when Pluto next visited the Sea-Goat's realm, Justinian I was Emperor of the Eastern Empire that survived after the fall of the West to Barbarians. In a sinister flip-flop of Diocletian's reign, Justinian persecuted the last remaining pagans in an attempt to unify his Empire under the one religion of Orthodox Christianity.

In the 8th century Charlemagne began the first move towards re-establishing an Empire in the West in what came to be called the Holy Roman Empire. He was crowned Emperor by the Pope with Pluto in Aquarius, but established himself as one worthy of such honor during Pluto's Capricorn phase. Additionally, many of the writings from the classical world that we have available to us today are now with us due to Charlemagne's patronage of the copying of the ancient manuscripts. Between the fall of the Empire in the west and the reign of Charlemagne, book learning, fine arts and city culture were confined, hidden like seeds awaiting fertile soil in the monasteries. Charlemagne gave those seeds the soil they needed to grow, sprinkled with the blood sacrifice of the Saxons and others whom he converted to Christianity by his sword.

In the 16th century Martin Luther had his illumination that resulted in the Protestant Reformation, while Hernan Cortes was welcomed as a god by Moctezuma in South America and began the establishment of European dominance in the New World. Protestantism and the Conquistadores would uphold the tradition of blood sacrifice as they burned witches and slaughtered savages in the name of Jesus. In Asia, European merchants made first contact with China, and planted small seeds that would grow into vast colonialism by the 19th century.

Britain fell to the Romans who founded the city of London under one Pluto in Capricorn spell. By the time the next cycle occurred over a thousand years later, London was the capital of the largest empire in recorded history while its young colony in the new world threw off the chains of its rule. On the eastern edge of North America, the United States of America was founded, while on the western edge the wave given a push by Paul of Tarsus in the first century AD simultaneously hit California as the first Christian missions were established. This small colony would stretch "from sea to shining sea" in less than a century, and expand from nation to world empire in a little over two.

As Pluto nears Capricorn this time around, entering in 2009, we are approaching the celebrated end-date of the Mayan Calendar which concludes a count of time running 26,625 years. This is the approximate amount of time required for the points of the equinox to traverse an entire circle of the heavens. The Mayans begin and end their reckoning of time with the conjunction of the winter solstice Sun to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. On winter solstice 2012 this occurs with Pluto in Capricorn. Interestingly, by one reckoning, Mayan civilization was established in the 4th century of the Christian calendar with Pluto in Capricorn.

Many of us fear further oppression and the growing of a police state. To the extent that we project our responsibility for crafting the fabric of our experience onto "the Government," the police state will arise to provide the discipline that we unconsciously desire. In many ways the police state is already with us with the War on Drugs, the War on Terror and the Class War all keeping us in constant fear and willingness to hand over our rights and accept monstrosities like the Patriot Act. Pluto in Capricorn could be about taking down this tower of lies, making our desires for peace and freedom real by the force of our actions, if we have the courage to act.

As resources dwindle we certainly won't be able to maintain the levels of consumption we've grown accustomed to in the industrialized nations. Like Rome bursting at the seams at the end of Pluto in Sagittarius in the 3rd century, we're seeing an unprecedented level of consumption in the industrialized nations threatening to destroy our entire biosphere as we welcome war and ignore such grave threats as global warming and pollution. In the time of Diocletian only a portion of the Earth was covered by the gluttonous beast of Empire; the Empire now covers the entire planet with every square inch mapped, zoned, and accounted for by the landlords/warlords who would like to squeeze every last drop of oil from the good green Earth.

After the transit of the centaurs Chiron and Nessus through Capricorn many of us are beginning to wake up to the fact that business as usual is killing us. "The Environment" is already establishing itself in our awareness with hurricanes, earthquakes and weird weather planet-wide. Some of us are getting the message now with Pluto in Sagittarius; Capricorn will be the time to establish our inspirations, to make them real or die trying.

Rulers of Capricorn

Capricorn is associated with two planets, Saturn and Mars. Saturn is called the ruler, which means that this planet's energy has an affinity with the style of Capricorn. Mars is said to be exalted, which means his impulsive intensity works exceptionally well when expressing itself through the mask of Capricorn. Saturn represents the familiar government and social side of the Sea-goat while Mars represents the force of individual will. There is no society without a bunch of individuals. Even an emperor is a single individual given power by the force of social conventions.

Under this influence an individual can be brought to unavoidable awareness of present time purpose and integrity, making just the right move at just the right time to have far reaching effects on the fabric of humanity's collective experience.

Saint Paul of Tarsus, Charlemagne, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther were mere individuals, specks of animated dust on the surface of the Earth just as Pluto is a mere speck of ice and rock so far from the sun that our local star appears not much brighter than the surrounding stars from his distant orbit. One individual, a virus, an atom or Pluto are small indeed, but with the right timing you can get a world religion, a plague, or an atom bomb from even such small things as these.

Another 10 words or less distillation of Pluto in Capricorn's message might be, "every oak began as an acorn." To the extent that we recognize our own power to have an effect on the seemingly impervious tower of social convention we can get real and maybe, just maybe convince our biosphere that we're capable of getting along with the rest of life after all.
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