On July 14th, NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto, culminating a nine-year mission that began back when Pluto was still considered a full-status planet by astronomers. In fact, New Horizon was launched in January of 2006, just seven months before the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto to dwarf planet status.
That demotion did little to dissuade astrologers from recognizing the value of Pluto: as Grace K. Morris says, “I can confidently say, Pluto transits are the most life changing periods in life.”
Astrologers associate Pluto with deep transformation, death and rebirth, and power, among other things. The discovery of Pluto coincided with the rise of nationalism across the globe (Pluto was then in the clan-oriented sign of Cancer), and also with a number of movies with the theme of return from the dead, including Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy.
Walt Disney famously named his fumbling cartoon dog after the new planet, apparently either unaware or unconcerned that the mythological Pluto was the somber god of the underworld.
The discovery of Pluto also coincided with the discovery of the neutron and the ensuing advancements in nuclear physics that led to the atomic bomb. As astrologer Marina Macario of Darkstar Astrology points out in a 2012 blog post: “Pluto’s potential is just like that nuclear missile; it takes a very evolved subject to use this power wisely.”
A meaningful coincidence noted by both astrologers and astronomers is that the closest approach to Pluto coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first unmanned spacecraft to visit Mars. For astrologers, Pluto is often considered a higher octave of Mars, a less personal but more powerful manifestation of similar energies (Mars is named for the Roman god of war). Both also have a reddish color.
The visit to Pluto has had astrologers abuzz with excitement, as a perusal of website blogs and Facebook posts shows. The presence of a heart-shaped feature on Pluto seems to have warmed perceptions of this challenging planet for astrologers as much as anyone else.
Eric Meyers, an astrologer with a transpersonal perspective, pointed out that we now see that the planet of transformation has a heart. English astrologer Christina Rodenbeck suggests that “maybe this close-up view of Pluto has opened our minds in a way that we have yet to work out.”
As astronomers take time to analyze scientific data sent back by New Horizon, astrologers will be working to deepen and expand their own Plutonian knowledge set. Pluto is no longer a tiny point of light at a great distance from Earth – we have seen the face of this distant world, this strange outlier of our solar system. As Rodenbeck says, “The mind boggles. Which is as it should be. We should be boggled.”