Here’s what to watch for:
* Since Pluto moved into Capricorn, along with its squares to Uranus, this will be the most anticipated transit of the decade, and of Pluto’s entire journey through Capricorn, for that matter. But in order to understand the relevance of this event, we need to understand Pluto’s role in the cosmic drama at a deeper level.
* Think of Zeus/Jupiter as the law and order that governs the cosmos while we are awake. From the legal system to governments and schools to calendars and federal holidays…anything and everything that creates a peaceful, harmonious “whole,” one ruled by law, order, justice, truth, etc., at least ideally, falls under the domain of Zeus/Jupiter.
* Remember now that Hades/Pluto is Zeus/Jupiter’s brother. Hades rules the underworld, which is not only the place of souls, of death and rebirth but also of dreams and the unconscious. It is a place that is like the upside-down, co-present version of our “waking consciousness.” Its rules are the inverted rules of our world, it’s order, its riches, and its truth, are the “walking on the ceiling” version of this world, like an M.C. Escher drawing.
* But actually, Hades and Zeus are two sides of the same coin. If you view existence from the point of view of life, you get Zeus, complete with all the user-friendly maintenance instructions of religion, education, government, community, law, etc. Whereas, if you view life from the point of view of death, then you get Hades, along with the perception of change, impermanence, decay, death, hunger, lust, power, corruption, and the unavoidable reality of the eternal and immortal soul, which lies beyond the veil of bodily life.
* Whenever Pluto makes an appearance in the daytime realm, it naturally interferes with, or presents a different logic, from that which we are used to. This is because behind, within, or underneath the operating programs that give us the appearance of eternal order in this world, the fires of Hades are always there, gradually burning away until…even stars, solar systems, and Universes are swallowed and forgotten.
* While it may sound scary, the truth is that ancient astrologers saw this circle of order and chaos as natural, and itself endless, an endless circle of these endless cycles. Plato similarly once wrote, “Time is the moving image of eternity.”
* So, when Pluto comes knocking on the door what do we experience? We experience the destruction of the material rules, systems, order, and meaning that we have taken to be immortal or eternal when they can only ever be temporary. Pluto’s justice, Pluto’s logic, Pluto’s order, is that of the end of the rules, systems, paradigms, and meanings of this transient world. Pluto is like the expiration date that comes on anything and everything in the material world, try as we may avoid it.
* Take for example the gradual uprise of public/mass shootings in places like temples, churches, and synagogues, or schools and Universities, or even public places where people go to rejoice, celebrate, or to be entertained. Pluto’s appearance has made many people in the western world feel “unsafe,” but rather than blaming anyone or anything, even if there are many people to blame in the upper world of Zeus for letting disorder and chaos creep in, Pluto invites us to stare into the void a little more faithfully before looking for solutions. Pluto invites us to be quickened in the heart, awakened in the limbs, alerted to the tips of our hairs, and reddened in the blood. Pluto reminds us that there is absolutely no escaping the burning bush of existence itself: terrible, ferocious, beautiful, mysterious, endless, and unavoidably real as it is. Pluto’s appearance, Pluto’s real gift, is to say, “take this horrible beauty in for a minute.”
* When I was a young boy, growing up in the church, I often heard the phrase “The fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom,” but the second part, a verse from the book of Proverbs, was often left out, where it says “and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
* Taken together, this verse from the book of Proverbs tells us why Pluto is actually the friend of the soul. Pluto is our friend because this world is fallen, falling apart constantly, but we are not. Pluto is our friend because this world is a dance between order and chaos, but we are not. We, as souls, are the medium in and through which these cycles and circles of dueling opposites are rotating, just as surely as planets.
* When I was in graduate school I was living in a small country cottage, and in the mornings and evenings, at dawn and dusk, the deer would come out and graze not far from my back porch. I will never forget how I learned to approach them. I had to take care not to direct my consciousness AT them, nor to make sudden, fast, unconscious or hasty movements with my body. And if I did, if I alarmed them and their ears shot up, then I would have to become settled wherever I was, for a while, before they would continue eating peacefully. They could tell whether I was going to move again or not, they could read my intentions, and so I had to learn how to not desire to move for periods of time before moving again, naturally. Then, little by little, naturally, I might find a real seat to watch them by, to really see them, to really feel them, and to feel the spirit of the moment, which was breathtakingly intimate.
* The soul is also like a deer. It hides. It is increasingly sensitive when approached. It notices everything. It is awake and alert. And yes, if you don’t know the soul, any soul what to speak of our own, then it will easily run. The soul rests and unfolds peacefully wherever there is a long stream of uninterrupted presence. Its delicate, fragile, even fearful and trembling features become beautiful, intricate, and heavenly in the light of calm, streaming, uninterrupted peace. The soul in this way is like a deer.
* So, in the beginning, when we approach the soul, when our limbs are heavy and we are drenched in sleep and lust and the heaviness of our illusions, we make too much noise and we scare it away. It knows better than we do what our intentions are and will gladly hide for fear of the noisy hunter.
* In the beginning, to approach the soul, we need to have sacred anxiety, a sacred fear, as the Proverbs tell us. We have to approach the soul scared to scare it away. We approach the soul afraid that we may not be worthy of being its audience. We approach the soul desperate to serve someone worthy of our innermost admiration.
* Then, once we have caught a glimpse, once we understand the liturgy of the soul, the sacred fear needed to carefully approach it, then our fear softens into understanding. We begin to understand why all fear, all hell, all worry, all fragility, all destruction and death, all chaos and vulnerability, stand as both the hell hound guards of the soul, as well as the Mercurial guides taking us into its richest and innermost chambers.
* This is why Hades literally means “riches.”
* It is our material assuredness, arrogance, goodness, proud intentions, knowledge, and riches, that keep us from the terrible beauty and ultimate reality of the soul, and of the soul of our souls. And so it is no wonder that Hades exists, keeper of real riches, destroyer of pride. Hades is the nightmare that brings us back from proud sleep, the omen that threatens to destroy, the price we can’t bear to think of because it brings us back to that simple, fragile place…in the mingling of dawn and dusk, where we are beheld for the fragile, eternal beings that we are.
* Whenever Pluto grants us a glimpse of the soul, of our real riches beyond the rational order of this world, we are given the gift of a new life. But what is that new life? If it is nothing more than the relief we experience after surviving a scare, then we have learned nothing. And many people do just this. Having experienced a brush with Pluto, like a thrill ride only, we use the adrenaline and scream out to Zeus, “By Jove! I feel reborn after that crazy experience. Now, what will I do with all this energy?”
* And so our sad cycle continues…from one social media altar call and confessional to the next, from one personal death and rebirth story to the next, we try to make each death into our personal victory and validation…
* But as James Hillman once wrote of our Zeus heavy culture, “Can’t we steal some defeat from the jaws of this victory?”
* How can you tell that Pluto is working on someone? Their work in the world becomes deeper while the ego becomes quieter. Because if the ego has taken the lesson from Pluto, then it knows that heavy feet and loud noises scare the deer away.
* It is, therefore, an irony, a sacred irony, that Pluto first comes as a heavy, dark and ominous force in our dreams, like a hunter, but leaves us doe-eyed, alert, trembling beautifully and wise.
* The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One brings understanding. That’s what the Proverbs say.
* And how can you tell that someone is developing a relationship with Pluto? Their love for Pluto is hesitant, cautious, careful, and mindful. They do not invite Pluto nor do they fear Pluto, but they trust Pluto.
* Finally, let us imagine that just as much as we desire to see the soul, no matter the cost, the soul of our soul also longs to see us. The soul of all souls is in fact what is always calling us, each one of us, from fearful sleep back into the gardens of heaven. Because it turns out that the soul is not alone but is joined by a great, heavenly assembly, where nobody and nothing is left out, where the riches are untold, and nothing but more and more love is at stake. Here in our most vulnerable, our most original position, we find that we are always approached, with just as much love, by what we approach.
Prayer: Lord of true riches, show us how to walk toward you soulfully. Give us the trembling desire to draw closer to you.