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A Mythological View of Saturn and Pluto

(First published December 2019)

Myth: it never happened, and yet we live it every day.

Via the stories from ancient times which have been carried through millennia, archetypal figures have become deeply buried in our collective psyche. Our skies are full of these continuing living stories because the planets of our solar system are named after these mythic gods and goddesses, and although we now use the Roman names, going back to their counterparts in Greek mythology gives us great insight into how to participate consciously in this inevitable merger.    

Although the upcoming joining of these two heavyweights in the sky has historically symbolised a time of darkness, as I have said, I believe it is also reflective of the potential for a leap of consciousness.

At a mythological level, Saturn forces his father to face his own mortality, yet won't face his own; instead devouring his children to stay in control so he also won't be overthrown. He refuses to hand over his authority out of fear.

Pluto has control over death; once in his realm no one can return. There are rare cases; Mercury as Messenger of the gods can come and go; Persephone is allowed to return to her mother 6 months of the year; and Orpheus was allowed to take his wife back - but that sadly goes rather pear-shaped.

As these two mythic giants merge, Pluto offers us the ability to look beneath the surface, and gain a deeper understanding of Saturn's functioning within us. The imagery and symbolism is transformative and alchemical however Saturn and Pluto offer gold only with some sort of sacrifice. Sometimes it is in the surrender of our suffering that allows us to find the gold.

The mythological perspective can give us insight to the process, offering us the powerful reward of transformation (Pluto) when we do the hard work (Saturn).  The house where 22 degrees of Capricorn sits in your chart will indicate where the process may be encountered as these are the exact degrees at which Saturn and Pluto will meet. It can also be encountered via the affairs of any planet(s) that sit around 22 degrees of Capricorn, Aries, Cancer or Libra (all the cardinal signs), and 22 degrees of Taurus and Virgo (the other earth signs).

Anything that we have resisted, buried, denied or judged in these areas symbolised in the chart can be brought to the surface. Great freedom and peace is possible if we consciously participate in this inevitable merger; in finding the courage to face these things and the humility to ask for the support needed to do so, we can utilise this alchemical process and find the gold.

Chronos (Saturn) comes into our psyche as a son of Uranus and Gaia. He eventually castrates his tyrannical father, overthrowing him to rule over the Golden Age. This is typically Saturnian, being willing to step forward with a strong sense of duty and responsibility (and likely with strong ambition, fed with a fear of failure) to usurp his father. Although being heroic in his deed, his shadow later becomes evident in the devouring of his children after an oracle predicts that history would repeat and he would be overthrown by a son. This devouring Chronos is the controlling and oppressive side of Saturn.

His children are trapped in his stomach, denied their freedom, separated from their mother's love.

The myth shows us Saturn's function in our lives, of where we are responsible and resourceful, or where we are restricted or where we restrict; where we do control, denial, guilt, fear. All of these also belong to the Saturn in our charts.  

The last child, Zeus, was hidden from Chronos by his mother Rhea who wraps a rock in swaddling which Chronos believes to be his infant, swallowing it down. Once Zeus comes of age, the oracle is fulfilled when Zeus gives his father an emetic that causes Chronos to regurgitate his children - Hestia, Demeter, Poseidon, Hades and Hera, who with Zeus, claim victory and establish the Olympic Pantheon.

Homer wrote that after the war Chronos and many Titans were imprisoned in Tarturus, a deep abyss beneath Hades, a place of torment and punishment. Those with a prominent Saturn know this place, a deep well of loneliness, an internal exile where the black dog keeps us hostage in fear, depression and anxiety. Whenever Pluto and Saturn meet, natally or by transit, Tarturus is potentially constellated.

However the important part of looking at this myth is that Zeus eventually forgives his father and releases him from Tarturus to be the ruler of Elysium, the paradise where the gods and goddesses spend their afterlife, in pure happiness. From deep suffering to peace and joy.

The facilitation is forgiveness. To me, this is the key to finding the gold.

When we find ourselves in 'Tarturus' we have the choice to understand that it is part of the journey to redemption, and that through acceptance rather than resistance we can move beyond it. If we can accept any period of darkness as one that is part of a journey that will take us back to the light, wiser and stronger than before, then we can drop our resistance and do the deep work that Pluto and Saturn demand of us: that of facing our fears and realising they trap us and keep us small.

Fears of being not good enough, of being unworthy, inadequate, guilty....old false stories that we have picked up and believed. Pluto pulls us down into the Underworld to meet all of these that operate in our lives, often unconsciously, as the Plutonic realm indicates. Pluto offers

his gifts of being able to face these fears with raw honest truth, and trust that ultimately, all is well even when it might not look like it. Saturn's strength can also help us while in Pluto's realm. By drawing on Saturnian responsibility, authenticity, resilience, patience, and the steady discipline to face our own inner tyrant and claim our own authority over it, we don't need to be held hostage in Tarturus forever. These are all words to ponder on, for their implications are as 'big' as this merger.

And certainly, just as Zeus demonstarted, forgiveness is key; of ourselves, of others, of situations and circumstances, of everything. We will be invited more than ever to practice forgiveness, whether in our personal lives, or in watching what happens 'out there'.

We always have choice in this, however we may be being urged more strongly than ever before.

Thankfully, we have the ability and strength to step up while Saturn is strong in Capricorn.

Finally, I want to wish you all a very blessed time with family and friends this Christmas,

and a peaceful release of 2019 as we step into a 2020 vision year. It's going to be a huge year on an astrological level, with symbolism of new beginnings on a massive scale.

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