Pluto Dissed: What Now for Astrologers?
Despite its small size, since its discovery in 1930 Pluto has been the most powerful planet in the astrological lineup. Pluto is associated with the major transformations of life such as death and rebirth (both literal and figuratively) and personal empowerment. Like the god of the underworld for whom it is named, Pluto brings us face to face with death and we are transformed as a result. Pluto's symbol is the Phoenix, which periodically burns itself to death and then is reborn in the ashes; cycles of Pluto often bring events which tear our everyday life asunder, leaving us with the bare essentials and a renewed sense of what life is all about.
Consequently, Pluto's demotion from planet to "dwarf planet" status will not diminish the respect astrologers have for this powerhouse of an influence. In fact, the reclassification today of Ceres (formerly classified as an asteroid) and the so-called Xena to "dwarf planet" along with Pluto may add another dimension to Pluto's role of bringing humans face to face with their mortality and the underworld of their repressed desires, forcing them to confront their darkest obsesssions. There is an uncanny synchronicity between the legends of the astronomical bodies and the way they operate in our astrological makeup, so the reclassification of these planets is likely to have astrological significance.
Ceres is the Roman name for the goddess Demeter, the mother of Persephone who was abducted by Pluto/Hades whom she later fell in love with and married. Ceres was first discovered in 1801, and it briefly enjoyed planetary status before being classified as an asteroid (meaning "star-like"). (The fact that there already exists an asteroid called Demeter complicates the interpretation of the story somewhat since the names Ceres and Demeter are often used interchangeably). Ceres is the Roman name for the Greek goddess Demeter, ruling agriculture, sustenance and motherhood. Ceres is best known for the disappearance of her daughter Proserpine/Persephone into the underworld of Hades/Pluto, during which she created a perpetual winter until her daughter was returned.
Astrologers are already arguing over what sign Ceres will rule. Until Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were discovered, the twelve signs each had a planetary ruler but a few of the signs had to share that ruler with another sign. For example, Mars is the ruler of Aries, but it also was the ruler of Scorpio (Pluto is considered the modern ruler of Scorpio). The addition of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto each gave us an added dimension to the human experience: Uranus added the dimension of individual freedom and liberty that drove the revolutionary period of the late 1700s after its discovery. Neptune brought with it a spiritual experience that went beyond religion and a heightened degree of creativity in art, introducing spiritualism, seances, and "modern" art including impressionism, as well as the Romantic period (Neptune rules romance as well) in music. Pluto, god of death and transformation that occurs by entering the underworld and returning in a different form, introduced the atomic bomb which threatened the very survival of mankind and the field of psychology which transforms from within.
Ceres has long been associated with Virgo, perhaps because Ceres was an unmarried woman (virgin in those days meant merely unmarried, not celibate). However, it appears to me that Ceres is more properly associated with Cancer. The myth of Ceres shows a fiercely protective mother, willing to sacrifice the good of her people for the sake of her daughter. This is a trait that we would not find with Virgo, who is oriented towards the service of others. It IS, however, a trait we would find in Cancer, the sign of the nurturing maternal instinct. In addition, Ceres was the goddess of agriculture, fecundity and nourishment, and Cancer is the cardinal sign for the summer season, the beginning of the growing season. As the modern ruler of Cancer, Ceres would add a dimension to the protective and action-oriented sign of Cancer that it's present ruler the Moon does not relate to.
Several people over the past few days have mentioned that perhaps the upgrade of Ceres to planet status is the harbinger of an increased respect for the agricultural process that feeds us. There has been a great deal of news lately regarding the poisons and imbalance in our ecological system (such as genetically modified foods) and a corresponding surge of interest in organic farming, as well as disturbing trends towards labeling foods as organic that don't meet the highest organic standards. Perhaps Ceres will bring new types of biofuels that can satisfy the energy needs of the next century.
It is too early to speculate on the possible astrological meaning of Xena, since we do not yet know what its permanent name will be. However, with Pluto, Ceres and Xena all being reclassified together it appears that Ceres and Xena's ultimate identity will add a new dimension and depth to the journey of human evolution and transformation that is Pluto's domain.
Lynn Hayes has been a practicing astrologer for over 20 years, specializing in psychological and transformational astrology. Visit her on the web and learn more about astrology at www.astrodynamics.net
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