Decent writers don’t usually start their pieces with interludes, but your correspondent makes no claim to decency. And, of course, when discussing Pluto, a planet that takes us beyond current and generally accepted dualistic notions, one should not worry whether one qualifies as decent or not. Pluto reminds us, after all, that death leads to life, as dying vegetation enriches the soil for the next cycle, and that the purportedly non-sacred may open doorways to realms of experience lying beyond duality. 

            As some readers perhaps remain unclear about how Pluto appears in its less pleasant manifestations, and as a certain Mr. Vladimir Putin has been much in the news of late, we might take a brief look at his horoscope. Though we should regard the birth-time as speculative, it seems to me, on quick inspection, to come fairly close. (The birth-data gets a C-rating in the Rodden data-classification system, indicating that something in the birth-data remains open to question. See note at the end.)

           Despite the uncertainty about the birth-time, we know that Pluto, having reached the 14th degree of Capricorn (13+), has come into an extremely close square with Putin’s natal Sun at 13Libra55 (for the Sun’s zodiacal position won’t change much in a few hours). This suggests power-struggles for the Russian leader, as his will (natal Sun) finds itself at odds (square aspect) with powerful forces in the transitory world (TR Pluto). Though the transit can also indicate a search for more awareness of the power of unconscious factors in one’s life, world-leaders, generally not much interested in awareness of any sort and almost always driven about by unconscious factors instead of taking an interest in them, usually find themselves acting blindly against apparently-external forces that we may usefully interpret as projections of the ignored unconscious factors. The square suggests that Putin, probably for reasons not obvious to himself and rooted in the transformative powers of the world itself, finds himself pitting his will against forces that seem to come up from the underworld. (In the process, of course, he provides us with yet more evidence, should we feel we need any more, that a person’s obsession or concern with external power, particularly power over others, has an inverse relationship with the person’s concern for self-awareness.)

            This horoscope has Scorpio rising and Pluto closely conjoined the midheaven. Remembering that the ascendant (and thus the house positions) derives from the precise time of birth, which we don’t have, we can consider as speculative any remarks about it. However, I suspect that this birth-time comes pretty close. If Mr. Putin has Scorpio rising, as here, Pluto rules the horoscope; natal Pluto’s position at the midheaven (also time-derived) tells us that he will seek public power and that, particularly during important Pluto-transits, power-struggles will occur in his vocation, in the public sphere where he will continually seek power. (That his current struggles qualify as vocational and that they involve his drive for public power suggest that the birth-time comes pretty close.)

         Recall that in an earlier blog-installment, we saw that Pluto’s transit to Syria’s Sun brought on severe power struggles in that country. Also – a matter we don’t have time to go into now – the solar arc movements of Pluto to the U.S. ascendant (13+ Sagittarius) over the past 200 years have brought some of the power-struggles that have served to define the national character, for better or worse. More on that in another installment. For now, we can note that Putin’s Sun squares the U.S. Sun, so the current transit of Pluto opposite the U.S. Sun coincides with the current transit square Putin’s Sun. We shouldn’t feel surprised if the events associated with those two transits get mixed together to some extent. Further, because the United States tends to project its Pluto onto others – an important matter, and one to which we will return – Putin, acting with apparent dictatorial ruthlessness, serves as a perfect hook for the projection of unconscious elements in the national psyche (so to speak). Thus the U.S. objects to Putin’s actions while domestic developments accelerate their right-ward movement. The U.S. propensity to project Pluto onto others should induce us to question any conclusions drawn about Mr. Putin by this nation’s press (reflecting the U.S. natal Mercury-Pluto opposition, the aspect that suggests the projection of Pluto).

         As Pluto aspects the two Suns, it also conjoins both Putin’s Saturn and the U.S. Saturn. (In other words, Putin’s Sun-Saturn conjunction conjoins the U.S. N. Saturn.) This suggests that both will retain a link to established patterns of law-giving, and Pluto’s transit has brought Putin into conflict with the United States on matters related to international law. Though some of us may find it ludicrous that U.S. spokespersons, particularly Obama, have criticized Putin for his failure to abide by international law, pushing down the memory whole the scores of times the U.S. has apparently considered such law as nothing but an inconvenience, the U.S. suddenly finds itself in the role of “upholding justice and freedom.” The astrological material accounts for the U.S. condemnatory judgment (Saturn) of Putin’s actions, even should Putin find himself playing a role that the U.S. has played so often, deciding to invade another country simply because it serves his interests to do so.

         U.S. judgmental tendencies should come as any surprise, as the U.S. 10th house Saturn tells us that the U.S. will take on a law-giver role in public and that in its public actions it will generally support status-quo arrangements that accord with its own authority, a pattern we see in evidence at least as far back as the so-called Monroe Doctrine. Further, Putin finds himself in the unenviable position of serving as a hook for the projection of the United States Pluto, a position occupied in earlier eras by Native Americans, African slaves, the empires of Europe, the Soviet Union, the Vietnamese, and the Iraqis – and things did not turn out well for any of them. Because the series of Pluto transits has just begun, having come quite close a few weeks ago before Pluto turned retrograde, I suspect that the struggle will not go away right away. I suspect that both Putin and the U.S. will find themselves dealing with forces rising up from the underworld, things perhaps previously hidden but with enormous power. 

            But let us push Mr. Putin temporarily aside and return this fair country, lying resplendently at the western edge of the Atlantic and causing all sorts of problems.


            In the last installment, I made a connection between Pluto and paper money, tracing some dates back in the 1760’s and 1770’s as the United States took its place as an independent nation and financed its war for independence with forty-two issues of the stuff. Decades later, as Pluto moved toward a square with the U.S. Sun, Andrew Jackson, elected to a second term after promising that he would destroy the National Bank, promptly fulfilled his promise, thus unleashing a flood of paper money from the multitudinous banks that rushed to fill the void. (According to J.K. Galbraith, who refers to Jackson as “confused” about such matters, Old Hickory advocated “hard money” even though his policy ensured that soft money would gain ascendency.)

            Pluto symbolizes power, of course, and physicists tell us that power equals the rate at which one does work, with work defined as a function of change. Thus power refers to the rate at which one brings about change. With the flood of paper money emerging from the variety of banks filling the aforementioned void, all sorts of enterprises found a way to get started, for people of all sorts could now get loans from whatever bank would do the lending. Thus Galbraith writes:

         For the new parts of the country as they opened up, there was the right to create banks at will and therewith the notes and deposits that resulted from their loans. No central bank tested the ability of these banks to redeem their notes…..In consequence, as civilization, or some approximation, came to an Indiana or Michigan crossroads in the 1830’s or 1840’s, so did a bank. Its notes, when issued and loaned to a farmer to buy land, livestock, seed, feed, food or simple equipment, put him into business. If he and others prospered and paid off their loans, the bank survived. If he and others did not so prosper and pay, the bank failed, and someone – perhaps a local creditor – was left holding the worthless notes. But some borrowers from this bank were by now in business. Somewhere someone holding the notes had made an involuntary contribution to the winning of the West. (Money, 104)

         A flood of paper money generally ensures that work of some sort will get done, whether that work take the form of a revolution, a flood of farmers purchasing land and transforming the landscape, or plutocrats gaining ascendancy in the national economy. Not all work qualifies as “good work,” but all work, understood in the scientific sense described above, brings about change. Furthermore, though Galbraith doesn’t mention it, along with the furthering of business and farming and other enterprises came death on a scale that not even Hitler and Stalin could match, for the “winning of the West” meant the slaughter of the Native Americans in uncountable numbers.

         Thus we see the connection, in the history of 18th and 19th century America, between the two manifestations of Pluto, one having to do with money and national finance, the other having to do with death and power. Generally speaking, dictators who kill have a great concern for profit in some form, so we see the connection just about every time we see a dictator’s wake – or that of a “democratically elected” officer of some sort – strewn with corpses.


            As noted, Pluto squared the United States Sun in the early 1830’s, the aspect remaining in effect from roughly 1833 until 1837, with Pluto not only squaring the U.S. Sun but also opposing the U.S. Saturn, as Saturn squares the Sun in the U.S. horoscope, an aspect noted above. However, an earlier aspect has an even closer connection to current developments: Pluto’s opposition to the U.S. Sun and square to the U.S. Saturn in 1768-9. Both aspects form part of a series, part of which we can trace now, leaving the other parts until later. In considering the following dates, add a year or so to the earlier date, for just as a hurricane causes damage before the eye arrives, so the changes associated with outer-planet transits appear before the transit actually arrives:

Pluto opposing Sun and squaring Saturn: 1768-1769 Pluto squaring Sun and opposing Saturn: 1834-1837 Pluto conjoining Sun and squaring Saturn: 1924-1927

Pluto squaring Sun and conjoining Saturn: 1976-1978 Pluto opposing Sun and squaring Saturn: 2014-2017


Closely linked to this series of aspects is Pluto’s series of aspects to the U.S. Venus-Jupiter conjunction:
Pluto opposes U.S. Venus-Jupiter: 1763-1765
Pluto squares U.S. Venus-Jupiter: 1824-1829
Pluto conjoins U.S. Venus-Jupiter: 1915-1920
Pluto squares U.S. Venus-Jupiter: 1972-1974 P
luto opposes U.S. Venus-Jupiter: 2009-2011

And a third series: Pluto’s aspects to the U.S. midheaven-nadir axis (which somewhat coincide with the previous series because the U.S. Venus-Jupiter squares the U.S. midheaven-nadir axis):
Pluto squares midheaven-nadir axis: 1763
Pluto conjoins nadir and opposes midheaven: 1824-1825
Pluto squares midheaven-nadir axis: 1914-1916
Pluto conjoins midheaven and opposes nadir: 1972-1973
Pluto squares midheaven-nadir axis: 2009

We should note the following events associated with these developments: 1. In 1763, with Pluto squaring the midheaven-nadir axis and opposing Venus-Jupiter, George III issued the Proclamation of 1763, forbidding the expansion of the colonies beyond the Alleghenies and reserving that territory for the Indian Tribes. 2. In 2008-2009, with Pluto making the same series of aspects, the U.S. experienced, largely because of the machinations and depredations of plutocrats, an economic depression-recession-downturn-plutocratic takeover (take your pick). 3. In 1768-9, with Pluto opposing the U.S. Sun and squaring its Saturn, anti-British riots broke out in Boston, Boston merchants adopted a non-importation treaty, and the Virginia House of Burgesses rejected Britain’s right to tax British colonists – acts strongly suggesting a projection of Pluto onto Great Britain, as local plutocrats preferred their own control to that of the plutocratic mother country.

At present, we see Pluto not only projected onto Mr. Putin, but also in the pervasive plutocratic power-grab taking place throughout this country, evident not only in the actions of banks, but in the efforts of the courts to give corporations ever more political power.

More on these connections next time.

 Note: The Rodden data-classification system gets its name from Lois Rodden, a pioneer in astrological data-rating. Her system has four basic categories, ranging from A (“Accurate Data,” as from a birth certificate or officially recorded birth time) to DD (“Dirty Data,” used when two conflicting statements about birth data exist, or when all available sources seem questionable for one reason or another. See for more information.











“A million here, a million there; pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” – Leveret Dirksen (quoted from memory)

Last time, we spoke of Pluto’s gender and his/her relationship to the underworld, which he rules, and to perception. We spoke of Pluto’s dual nature, suggested astronomically by the fact that Pluto participates in a binary planetary-system, with two bodies rotating around a common center of gravity that doesn’t lie inside either planet.

 We didn’t speak much about Pluto’s connection with money, or about Pluto’s present transit through the United States’ 2nd house (the house of money, among other matters), or about the United States’ natal Pluto in the 2nd house. That’s a lot of money, we might say, and small wonder that a country with a 2nd house Pluto would find itself under the thumb of plutocrats.

Clearly Pluto’s transit through the United States’ 2nd house presages major changes in the financial system. On the darker side – darkness seeming appropriate for the ruler of the underworld! – it could mean that plutocrats take over the financial system more than they already have – and not surprisingly, as any country with Pluto in the house of money should expect that plutocrats will loom large. Still, a considerable amount of evidence suggests that present plutocrats continue to make advances, with Citizens United standing as the most ready example, and the pervasive effect of lobbying as another.

 Many astrologers associate Pluto with “transformation,” with death-and-rebirth processes of all sorts, suggesting that Pluto’s transit through the U.S. 2nd could bring a complete transformation of the financial system. Some will claim that this must bring benefit; perhaps they reason that things can’t possibly get worse. Though I agree that Pluto’s transit will transform the financial system and that the effect of plutocrats often seems as bad as it could get, I also know that Pluto, ruler of the underworld, has to do with all sorts of unpleasant goings-on. After all, the unconscious contains what the conscious mind has rejected (and much else besides, according to Jung), and Pluto generally brings material up from that realm. Though some uprisings bring benefit – the Occupy Movements, occurring as Pluto came to the cusp of the U.S. 2nd, provides a ready example and perhaps represents a new trend – not all of them do. Certainly many contemporary developments suggest that the power of corporations will augment, not reduce.

 To get some perspective, though, let’s trace back to Pluto’s previous transit through the United States 2nd house. Admittedly, some of that transit took place before the U.S. cohered as a nation. It nevertheless has relevance here, as some prenatal transits point to developments in the environment in the years or decades (for a nation) or months (for a person) before birth, those developments setting the tone for the birth itself. Pluto entered the U.S. 2nd around 1766. In 1764, with Pluto on the cusp of that house, England forbade the issue of paper money in any of the colonies (having done so for New England in 1751). In 1766, Benjamin Franklin went to England to protest, for he had for a long time advocated the issue of paper money, his views perhaps not unaffected by the fact that he got much business from the printing of the stuff. (In Money (67), John Kenneth Galbraith notes that Franklin advocated “the use of the printing press for anything except the diffusion of knowledge.”)

The laws from England truly brought economic transformation to the colonies, for paper money had, then as now, found use in the expansion of business enterprises not limited to those related to war. Price inflation reduced dramatically with the reduction of domestic paper, and economic life returned to an even keel – often the case on those occasions when nations stopped using paper currency, seeing that the stuff has a tendency to inflate prices and thus depreciate the value of money. (When paper money reigned in the colonies, creditors would hide from debtors, not wanting to get repaid in a constantly depreciating currency.) Once the colonies declared themselves independent, England’s laws no longer held sway; paper money returned. Without it, the colonists could never have fought the revolution. Of the shift, John Kenneth Galbraith writes (Money, p. 71):

With independence, the ban by Parliament on paper money became, in a notable modern phrase, inoperative. And however the colonies might have been moving toward more reliable money, there was now no alternative to government paper…The Congress was without direct powers of taxation; one of its first acts was to authorize a note issue. More states now authorized more notes. It was by these notes that the American Revolution was financed. Between June 1775 and November 1779, there were forty-two currency issues by the Continental Congress with a total face value of $241,600,000.

Galbraith also points to the connection between the United States and paper money:

If the history of commercial banking belongs to the Italians and of central banking to the British, that of paper money issued by a government belongs indubitably to the Americans. (55)
With the issuance of paper money came power, whether military, economic, or political. For the connection between military aggressions and money we needn’t look far: as Galbraith notes, the American Revolution provides a fine example, one no doubt taken from various kings and potentates issuing fiat money (a term I have borrowed from Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island; see below) to finance their various invasions, incursions, and insurrection-quashings. The economic power appears in the ways that paper money furthers economic progress, for projects demand payments for workers and materials, and paper money provides the wherewithal.

Of course, much depends on who does the issuing, for the issuer issues to those inclined to do the issuer’s bidding. Thus the political power of money, at least in part. The fiat money issued by the U.S. government, so much a part of United States history, gives even more power to the state and aligns it with the financial powers who get most of the benefit. When the United States government issues paper money, that government stipulates that citizens must regard that money as “legal tender” and that others may not issue their own paper money. The government’s money gets its backing from the state itself. A further power lies in the fact that when the government issues its fiat money, that issuance lowers the value of the money people already have, so the government has the power not only to further its own projects, but also to move the people toward poverty. And, of course, if one refuses to play the game, the state brings the law to bear. (Let us sidestep, at least for now, the ways that banks can, like mini-governments, increase the supply of money. Plutocrats apparently have at least as much power as bureaucrats!)

Appropriately enough for Pluto, the power to create money seems like a form of magic. When Marco Polo encountered the Khan’s mint, he saw it as “Alchemy in perfection,” and he noted the solemnity accorded its issuance: “the Kaan smears the seal entrusted to him with vermilion and impresses it on the paper, so that the form of the seal remains stamped upon it in red; the money is then authentic…And the Kaan causes every year to be made such a vast quantity of this money, which costs him nothing, that it must equal in amount all the treasures in the world.” Edward Griffin (my source for the preceding quotation), then adds,

One is tempted to marvel at the Kaan’s audacious power and the subservience of his subjects who endured such an outrage [for the Kaan would imprison any who refused to accept his paper money]; but our smugness rapidly vanishes when we consider the similarity to our own Federal Reserve Notes. They are adorned with signatures and seals; counterfeiters are severely punished; the government pays its expenses with them; the population is forced to accept them; they – and the “invisible” checkbook money into which they can be converted – are made in such vast quantities that it must equal in amount all the treasures of the world. And yet they cost nothing to make. In truth, our present monetary system is an almost exact replica of that which supported the warlords of seven centuries of the world. (156)

Small wonder, then, that a country with Pluto in its natal second has developed into the world’s warlord, complete with a largely-subservient population, a powerful military to which the government gives as much money as it requests, and both banks and businesses deemed “too big to fail.” Small wonder, too, that such a government can create as much money as needed to bail out banks or fight wars, even as it claims itself too poor to support programs that benefit the non-plutocratic majority. And, to link such ideas to matters-astrological: as Pluto moved through the U.S. 2nd from 1767-1786, the United States, in throwing off the co-called yoke of English rule, turned to paper money to support the yoke-throwing.

Pluto unleashes powerful forces from the unconscious. As any psychologist knows, to deal with these forces, one must maintain a secure tie to the relative truths of the world. Transferred to the economic world, that statement might read like this: to deal with the psychic forces that drive plutocracy, a nation should tie its currency to something rooted in the relative world; any nation that fails to do that will suffer grave consequences, as its finances will find themselves at the mercy of the little-understood powers of the unconscious. We can see, these days, that our country has failed to do the necessary tying; the crash of 2007-2008 resulted from financial dealings with no clear referents in the phenomenal world. In such a system, the forces of the unconscious run amok. Our present predicament serves as a case in point.

In such dark clouds, do we see a silver lining? Perhaps. Pluto, lord of transformation (of a particular type, as we will see in the next installment), brings about change partly by secreting the seeds of change into apparently obdurate patterns of behavior. Thus when the change comes, it seems at first like a kind of fate. More on all this next time (when, I hope, we finally get to Pluto’s opposition to the U.S. Sun).

Tim Lyons
March 26, 2014