Rob Tillett offers a brief outline of the astrological meaning of the planet Pluto, a generational force of obstruction, transformation and regeneration located at the outer limits of our solar system.
Pluto, the lord of the underworld, symbolises the forces of deep transformation in our lives. A slow-moving outer planet discovered in 1930, Pluto's influence is in general most clearly noticeable as it distinguishes one generation from the next.
In our personal lives, Pluto's significance is found in its house position and the aspects it makes to other planets in the chart. The psychological process is one of being faced with obstruction, struggling to overcome it and being transformed in the process, leading to a regeneration of the area affected by house, aspect and sign.
Pluto rules intense energy, signifying the areas in which we consciously or subconsciously seek to exercise power or control. Linked to our karmic responsibility, Pluto also indicates those areas where we need to gain the deepest level of understanding.
Obstruction, Transformation, Regeneration
Transits of Pluto, especially to the Lights, can last for three years or more and are exceedingly potent, signifying massive, long-term changes in life. When Pluto changes sign, the restructuring of human society and even of the natural world is indeed perceptible for those who have eyes to see.
Many modern astrologers consider Pluto the planetary ruler of Scorpio, but that is controversial and disputed. The traditional ruler of Scorpio is Mars. My own view is that Pluto may be considered powerful in Scorpio, but definitely a secondary influence to Mars with regard to the Scorpion. There is a good argument for Pluto (the higher octave of Mars) being the co-ruler of Aries, and this is held by many modern astrologers. Rulership is really neither here nor there in terms of the essential structure of astrology, which is governed by symmetric geometry of the visible planets, rather than the ever-expanding properties of cosmic rocks and dirty snowballs.
Located in the heart of the Kuiper belt and until recently the outermost known planet in our system, Pluto completes his journey through all twelve signs in around 248 years. Pluto has now been shown to be effectively a double planet, for the diameter of its "moon", Charon (discovered 1978), is greater than half Pluto's diameter; by comparison, our own Moon has slightly more than one quarter of the Earth's diameter.
Interestingly, in June 2006 the Hubble telescope seems to have distinguished two more tiny moons, entitled Nix (mother of Charon) and Hydra (a many-headed, poisonous monster dispatched by Hercules). Pluto may also have rings, like Saturn, though on a much smaller scale.
Two more moons orbiting Pluto have since been discovered, making five in all. The latest moons to be found have been named Kerberos (the three-headed hellhound, guardian of Hades) and Styx (the goddess of hatred and of the river Styx, which divides Hades from the world of the living).
Massive Long Term Changes
The period Pluto spends in each sign can vary from twelve years to thirty-two years, due to the eccentricity of his orbit. Pluto, marker of generations, entered Capricorn on January 26th, 2008, after spending some thirteen years in Sagittarius. A retrograde phase began on April 2nd, and on June 14th, Pluto revisited Sagittarius to tidy up matters from the past that had not yet been resolved. This phase lasted until November 28, 2008, when Pluto returned to Capricorn for a long stay before moving to Aquarius in January 2024.
Read about Pluto in Capricorn.
Exalted: (? no traditional exaltation)
Detriment: (? no traditional detriment)
Fall: (? no traditional fall)
Planetary Node: 20° 02 Cancer
Because Pluto, being invisible to the naked eye, was first discovered in 1930, there is no traditional rulership or exaltation. Modern astrologers generally agree that Pluto is well-placed in Scorpio and may be said to be the co-ruler of that sign, though Mars is definitely the traditional ruler. Traditional astrologers deny any sign-rulership to Pluto.