Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Planets and Archetypes 11

Pluto: On the basis of discrepancies observed in the orbit of Neptune as well as aberrations still remaining in the orbit of Uranus, the existence of a further planet was posited by the astronomer Percival Lowell, leading to its discovery in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. Further extensive observations with increasingly advanced technologies have uncovered no further planets within our solar system. After much consideration among many alternatives, the new planet was named Pluto, god of the underworld. Observations of potential correlations with Pluto by astrologers in the subsequent decades suggested that the qualities associated with the new planet in fact bore a striking relevance to the mythic character of Pluto, the Greek Hades, as well as to the figure of Dionysus, with whom Hades-Pluto was closely associated by the Greeks.10 Closely analogous to Freud's concept of the primordial Id, the broiling cauldron of the instincts, and to Darwin's understanding of nature and the biological struggle for existence, the archetype associated with the planet Pluto is also closely linked to Nietzsche's Dionysian principle and the will to power, as well as to Schopenhauer's blind striving Will ”all embodying the powerful forces of nature and emerging from nature's chthonic depths, the intense, fiery elemental underworld. Again, as with both Uranus and Neptune, so also in Pluto's case the mythological domain and element associated with the new planet's given name appear to be poetically accurate, but here the overall archetypal parallels between the mythic figure and the observed qualities are considerably more extensive.

Beyond these ancient Greco-Roman figures (Pluto, Hades, Dionysus) and cognate modern European concepts (Freudian Id, Darwinian nature, Schopenhauerian Will, Nietzschean will to power and Dionysian impulse), the archetype associated with the planet Pluto also encompasses a number of major deities outside the Western context such as Shiva, god of destruction and creation, as well as Kali and Shakti, goddesses of erotic power and elemental transformation, destruction and regeneration, death and rebirth.

To summarize the consensus of contemporary astrologers: Pluto is associated with the principle of elemental power, depth, and intensity; with that which compels, empowers, and intensifies whatever it touches, sometimes to overwhelming and catastrophic extremes; with the primordial instincts, libidinal and aggressive, destructive and regenerative, volcanic and cathartic, eliminative, transformative, ever-evolving; with the biological processes of birth, sex, and death, the cycle of death and rebirth; with upheaval, breakdown, and decay, violent, purgatorial discharge of pent-up energies, purifying fire; situations of life-and-death extremes, power struggles, all that is titanic, potent, and massive; with the underworld in all senses ”elemental, geological, instinctual, political, social, sexual, urban, criminal, mythological, demonic ”the dark, mysterious, taboo, and often terrifying reality that lurks beneath the surface of things, beneath the ego, societal conventions, and the veneer of civilization, beneath the surface of the Earth, that is periodically unleashed with destructive and transformative force; that which impels, burns, consumes, transfigures, resurrects; the Serpent power, kundalini; the Greek Hades and Dionysus; the Indian deities of destruction and regeneration, death and rebirth, Shiva, Kali, Shakti.

As we will see in the coming chapters, much of the evidence we will be examining, both biographical and historical, concerns correlations involving the three outermost planets. The archetypal principles associated with Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto seem to be particularly relevant for illuminating the deeper transpersonal and collective patterns of historical, cultural, and psychological phenomena.


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