By Mary Plumb | May 6, 2013
I hadn’t planned on writing about Pluto this week. I was thinking more about Thursday’s solar eclipse with the Sun and Moon conjunct Pallas Athena and the fine ability to recognize patterns.
But, I spent time this week with several people who had a current and exact Pluto aspect, and I was moved in a different direction. In the Greek pantheon, Hades, who we associate with the planet Pluto, wore a helmet of invisibility. He appears unannounced.
We know that the square between Uranus and Pluto is precise again this month, on May 20, with the planets at 11°14’ Aries and Capricorn. Uranus is direct now and Pluto is retrograde.
One friend has transiting Pluto exactly on the natal Sun (in the 8th house). She has been in an ongoing process with a shamanic healer serving as guide to the underworld. Many memories have surfaced and she is in a passageway in life that is exhausting and rigorous. But at that moment, as I happened by, with Pluto to the minute of arc on the Sun, she was raw, completely untethered from the life she had always known. On the outside, everything in her life looks completely normal and could not be better. Pluto rules the invisible process of soul growth.
When transiting Pluto was opposite my natal Moon (2° Cancer), I worked with this therapist/healer/shaman for more than a year, so I am familiar with the process she is in the middle of. Part of this particular method of journey is to retrieve lost parts of ourselves that are disowned through trauma or the rough and tumble of life. (There are many therapeutic approaches to address the lost, disowned, or unintegrated parts of ourselves. Yogic traditions, for example, teach many methods to purify the toxins in the body and the poisons of the mind.)
The view into the landscape of Hades, as described by the Greeks, is evocative. Just as the brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades drew lots to see who would have dominion over which parts of the earth, maybe it’s not everyone’s lot to have this kind of call. But when it happens, it is unmistakable. Events can occur in the visible world and have an obvious impact, but the alchemy occurs in the interior life.
Brian Clark describes the different regions of Hades in his beautiful essay Hades as Place: The Underworld in Myth and Antiquity. (1)
Tartarus is the darkest, deepest, bleakest sphere of Hades. “Tartarus is reminiscent of the place in all of us that feels futile, repetitive, stuck and unresolvable. This is the aspect of Hades that has been most repressed and denied. It is a place of despair, depression, compulsion and rage: aspects of the psyche that are denied the light, yet need to be honored and recognized.”
Erebus is a middle region of Hades, where the souls of the dead, the “shades,” roam.
The third region, Elysium, the Elysian Fields, is for the heroes or those chosen by the gods. Clark says: “…in contrast to Tartarus or Erebus, it represents the outcome of a more conscious relationship with Hades and death.”
Clark describes The Rivers in Hades, which “carry the flow of feeling through our psychic underworld.” There are five different rivers: the hateful, the woeful, the wailing, the burning, and Lethe, the river of forgetting. Souls cross Lethe when entering or leaving the underworld: “the experiences of the world before were lost to conscious memory.”
We cross the river of forgetting and leave well enough alone until the next time Pluto suddenly appears; its unannounced quality is especially strong now with Uranus pressing in, with all its brilliance and promise.
As I see it, we are taking turns traveling in the realms of Hades these days. Maybe we’re getting better at it and can help each other along. Astrology is such an amazing guide for walking thorough life. Thanks to all of you for being present for each other.
Have a good week everyone. May the eclipse bring just the right amount of agitation and insight.
(1) My quotes are from a printed version, Hades as Place: The Underworld in Myth and Antiquity, Astro*Synthesis, The Chiron Centre, 407 Johnston Street, Abbotsford Victoria 3067 Australia, 1998.
There is a free download of a 2001 version of the essay at: