Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pluto: Ravaged or Nurtured?

Reflections from the Rebirth Canal

© 2014 by Joyce Mason

 My Soul Collage Card, “Blind Trust”  [1]

My very wise astrologer friend, Linda Byrd [2], told me recently that she sees the outer planets as nurturing parents, nudging us to grow for our own good. I have to agree, but it has taken a lot of living to have experiences with Pluto less like I describe in The Depths of Change and more like my current process of morphing. Today’s encounters feel inside-out compared to previous Pluto transits.

Earlier in my life, especially when Pluto conjuncted my Sun on one occasion and later Chiron, the external upheaval in my life was horrible—abandonment, betrayal, and serious illness for starters. Because of the accompanying emotional turmoil, my interior felt like a kayak in tsunami.

This time ‘round as Pluto kissed my Moon and has squared Venus, Neptune and is heading toward its square with Mercury: the internal upheaval is far less and the outer evidence of growth much more. I’ve never been calmer. I share this for several reasons. I’d love to know others’ experiences with Pluto transits that aren’t textbook hell on earth. I’d also like to give you hope that all Pluto transits are not created equal. My current rendezvous with the P-planet, of course, also involves its square dancing partner, Uranus … and earlier this year I got the full fireworks of the Cardinal Grand Cross. You’d think with all that, I’d be leveled. I’m not just still standing. In many ways, I’m thriving—though I won’t kid you. Some parts of these transits are trying, others just weird.

I’m not a kid anymore, and what has changed about my Pluto transits is me. I no longer resist them with the might of a toddler in the Terrible Twos digging all digits into the nearest carpet, furniture or human while impersonating an army tank.

As a younger human, I did not “get” surrender and the idea that some things are too big to fight. Most of us would know better than to take on someone twice our size in a fist fight, yet some of us still are naïve enough to think we can take on universal energies tantamount to the Not So Jolly Green Giant. I thought I could will or “positive think” my way through anything. Stuff happens. How life works for us—or doesn’t—depends on how we respond to our current assignment in growing up even more.

The metaphor of the outer planets as parents works well for me, particularly because I have Pluto conjunct Saturn in the 4th House. Thinking in those terms, Pluto and Saturn have both nurtured me and provided my foundations. Since the 4th is the natural house associated with the Moon, the roots and solidarity this pair has provided (with Pluto as my outer planet parent) often involved being there for me through a lot of emotional chaos.  

Younger Me operated on the clinging, power-struggle side of Pluto. Older Me is learning much more about surrender, the polar and positive side of Pluto’s energetic continuum. I suspect this is why my current Pluto transits don’t hurt as much, large as they are (involving several personal planets).

But I did mention weird. The biggest thing I’m getting more familiar and comfortable with is being in what I call the Place Between. That’s where, in the process of morphing, you’re no longer a caterpillar, but you’re not yet a butterfly. Furthermore, in the goo state of formlessness, you can’t see what you’re becoming. I talked about this in The Depths of Change as transformational blindness.

It’s difficult be fully comfortable in this place, because in a lot of ways, it’s a no-place.  I try to view it like the empty mind we seek to achieve in meditation, creating a space for universal love to flow in and not just guide us—but to be us. Our interior becomes our own compass. We feel one with the cosmos.

My visualizations around the Place Between lately are more like a newly blind person going to mobility training, learning how to use her figurative white cane in this place of darkness and uncertainty. I feel less fear and more wonder. This will probably sound odd indeed, but every morning the word I wake up with in my mind is “wow.” Even when I’m greeted with one of my arthritic pains on rising, my response is “wow.”

"Wow” has become my mantra for greeting the day.

It’s not like me to avoid talking personal specifics about what I’m going through, but I want to minimize the details about my external events and ask you to fill in the blanks with your own challenges as you read about them. Mine involve my husband’s health, disability and mobility challenges. Because of his physical limitations, I have increasing responsibilities for the operation of our daily life together. Health issues affect every aspect of our existence from finances to housing. We need to move to a single-level home from our current bi-level, as Tim can barely do the interior stairs anymore. The idea, over the months ahead, of completely dismantling our home of 16+ years with limited help would almost be enough to do me in and send me into a Neptune-square-Moon state of complete, freeze-frame overwhelm. (I’m not moving so swiftly myself sometimes lately, thanks to stiffness from arthritis.) In the past it would have—and at first, this time, it did, too. The sale will help our finances enormously and meeting this milestone is clearly the light at the end of the tunnel. But first, the tunnel.

I realized that I am the hub of our operation. Without my functioning at an optimal level, our family and home life will fall apart. There are physical challenges, like giving Tim lift assistance out of chairs or if he falls, plus a boatload of mental and emotional ones. My husband is one of the most courageous people I’ve ever known, an exceptionally sweet and loving soul. He supports me to the max from an emotional perspective, and it’s not difficult to want to return the favor at every level. It takes a lot of heart and humor for us both at times to deal with our situation, but all in all, I think we are pushing an A in this course in the School of Life—and I’m a tough grader.

Our relationship is so clearly karmic as reunited childhood sweethearts, I kept coming ‘round to the idea that our challenges intersect (not to mention our astrology charts, born 10 days apart). Tim’s situation has finally made me see that I have to “train,” literally, for the next stage of my life. For both of us, at some level, the issues start with the physical.

Being a Triple Earth, you’d think that being in my body would be a cinch for me, that I’d love exercise, sports, etc. Well, until lately, think again. With an outer planet squaring each of my Big Three (Sun/Uranus, Moon/Neptune and ASC/Pluto), half of me is floating around in the stratosphere somewhere—why so many people mistake me for an Aquarius. I do have the earthy body type and love of food. Thanks to a gourmand mother, being a foodie is a genetic fact of life. I have a long history of struggling with my weight. However, I am not really what you would call a big woman at five-foot-nothing. Helping to lift a 200-pound man has taken its toll on my back, but on the plus side, it has finally helped me see that physical training is a major part of my preparation for what’s next.

Like a lot of people, I’ve never been able to sustain doing what’s good for me in terms of diet and exercise. While I lost nearly 30 lbs. at Weight Watchers in the early 1980s, I can’t count the times I’ve started and stopped the program since I regained those pounds—and then some—starting a few years later.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of stresses in my life. Tim had two hospitalizations last year alone that put me over the top. I’m a stress overeater, and Pluto’s current travels with Uranus brought the clear insight that taking care of myself on every level is the key to our happiness. Like a lot of “professional givers,” what I won’t get serious about doing for myself, I will often take on with gusto if it has to do with helping someone I love. (As I’ve grown in self-esteem, it’s now easier for me to do this for both of us.)

Fortunately, I’ve been doing Jazzercise for several years because my dear friend Dana is my instructor. (Again, without someone I love offering the classes, I’m not sure I’d get up and jump around several early mornings a week.) Her class is geared toward the 55+ crowd, and low-impact aerobic dance is perfect for me. While not being interested in sports, I love to dance. Since we use hand weights in a lot of our routines, I’ve even got budding biceps that help me when I’m doing those lift assists, not to mention heavy grocery bags.  Helping Tim without hurting myself has been a learning curve, and we use various adaptive equipment, including a back brace for me.

Speaking of backs, I’m back at Weight Watchers and have already lost 15 lbs. Different this time is my level of commitment. I realize that I have to own the Lifetime Member status I once gained (by loss!). Weight Watchers has to be a weigh of life for me. This time I have vowed not to quit no matter what, and I now regard it a lot like AA, one day at a time as long as I live. Even once I’m at goal weight, maintaining a weight loss involves constant awareness of my relationship with food. Luckily, it’s a program where moderation rules, and that’s what I have to learn. A foodie will never give up the occasional indulgence, why I like a live-it (as opposed to a die-it) that trains its users to navigate real life and its never-ending food festivities. Tim is also benefiting from following my new eating behavior, as he, too, has considerable weight to lose.

There are changes other than physical that my new leg of life requires me to accept. I’m in training on enduring and learning to embrace the Place Between, the place that still feels weird. The image of the woman in my Soul Collage card with a box over her head is where I live. Self-care involves a tremendous amount of time and putting so many things on hold; I have to force myself to “sit in the silence” often in my current blindness rather than get stuck in OMG loops. (“OMG! How/when will I get this writing or publishing project done, everything cleared out and cleaned up for house sale, blah-blah.”) I’m learning to trust that everything will fall into place in its own perfect timing. Because I have stretched myself to the breaking point for so many years, I have also had to accept a long period of rest and recovery. This is like a foreign land to a go-getter. I cannot tell you how strange it feels to sleep a lot, not push myself, not to live by the clock and to put myself first after so many years of helping others before anything else.

A huge positive to come out of my down time is realizing that I love having “white space” in my life. I never want to be that overcommitted and over-extended again. I have read 22 books so far this year, whereas I could barely eke out a few all year in the past. I am doing more yoga, qigong, meditation, and I've started taking hula lessons. I’m reconsidering everything I used to think I “had” to do. I’m allowing a clean mental slate for how I want to configure my new life, as it evolves.

My brain and body have slowed down enough that I can hear my inner voice and direction. I can now solve problems more quickly and creatively. In the end, doing less might be more time-and-results efficient than trying to do everything at once.

I’m learning to walk my talk about trusting the universe to guide me every step of the way. Collective creativity sometimes delivers us interesting icons in pop culture to support us, if we only have the eyes to see. Mine is Auggie Andersen on the TV show, Covert Affairs. Auggie was blinded in an explosion during a mission with Army Special Forces in Iraq. He is the most mobile “blind person” I’ve never met. He has an assortment of high tech gismos that help him navigate his life as Annie Walker (Piper Perabo)’s handler at the CIA. Of course, Chris Gorham who plays Auggie is not blind in real life, so there’s a serious suspension of disbelief required to appreciate his portrayal of a high-functioning blind man. What he does exude that’s authentic is a demeanor of relying on his intuition to tell him who’s worthy of trust to take his arm and keep him from bumping into a wall—or to keep him from getting killed in one of his forays with Annie into the field and the unprotected world outside Langley. I love this about him, as he remains feisty, vital—and a hot lover, by the way—despite living in the physical equivalent of my Place Between.[3]

In some ways, I feel like I’m heading toward graduation when it comes to Pluto. I respect Pluto, a respect that does not come from fear, as it once did. Now it comes from getting what Pluto is and does. Pluto is the force of change that’s bigger than the both of us and required for the personal and collective good. We’re all interconnected. My growth is yours, yours is mine, and that’s why sharing is so important to appreciate where we’re at in the process of personal and planetary evolution.

Pluto has saved me from situations that would have only brought me further pain and suffering. It has introduced me to principles that saved my life, literally and figuratively. These are conclusions one can only draw from enough living to look back on Pluto and see its dual role of protector and catalyst. Just like a good parent, Pluto protects to a point, yet nudges you out of the nest to fly on your own. Just like any good parent, we often do not like at the time what mom or dad “makes” us do.

When I was back home in Chicago a few years ago, I bought this wonderful t-shirt at the Museum of Science and Industry, commemorating the demotion of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet status in 2006.  I had been afraid, up to now to put it on for fear of evoking Pluto in his Darth Vader archetype or otherwise bringing unwanted, negative Plutonian experiences into my life.

I’ve been to Pluto. I bought the t-shirt. I’m ready to wear it.

I am no longer afraid.



[1] Soul Collage is an intuitive artwork process for allowing inner guidance to come through you by way of creating of collages of images that you’re drawn to. The “cards” you create are reflections of various aspects of yourself. Part of the process, when the card is finished, is to go inward and complete the sentence, I am the one who … The sentence for this card, created July 28, 2008, “Blind Trust” is: I am the one who leads you to shine and share your gifts, even when you feel completely in the dark.

[2] Allow me to introduce you to Linda, a multi-talented astrologer and metaphysical consultant. I endorse her heartily. Since I am no longer doing private consultations, please consider Linda when you feel a need for guidance:

Linda Kubota Byrd is a certified DREAM COACH and has used Astrology as a personal growth consultant for 20 years. She was a volunteer with the Aspire Foundation, using Transformational Astrology for 10 years and has earned a Level II Certificate in Evolutionary Astrology from Steven Forrest's Apprenticeship Program. She has studied with John Ruskell, Gavin Carruthers, Tom Lescher, Maurice Fernandez and many others. Facilitating workshops for 16 years, she combines Astrology, Energy Psychology, Handwriting Analysis, Conscious Creating, NLP, etc., to "untrain" conditioned patterns to empower authenticity and embrace the unique gifts in us all. Contact: Linda does long-distance readings via phone or Skype.

[3] There’s no doubt there’s a connection between my diagnosis of glaucoma and these “blind” metaphors I’m living. My condition is now stable with no discernible visual loss, I’m happy to report. That may have as much to do with my “new vision” about Pluto as my medication and other management regimes.


Lana said...

Dear Joyce

What a briliant piece of writing about your journey with Pluto!

I am not sure where I would be in relation to your position of the Place Between. I would have to think long and hard about that.

What I do know is that because Pluto moves so slowly it is easy to discern the focus and meaning of each transit as it takes place, and easy to remember what happened looking back.

Most notably, when Pluto was opposite my Ascendant, I experienced childbirth with my second child. At the time I felt I had an out of the body experience, and felt as though I had literally been to Pluto and back. Childbirth is one of those things which teaches you surrender.

I love the fact that you have found a positive way of living with Pluto energetically. I think that is something we all strive for, so thanks for showing it can be done!



Joyce Mason said...

Hi, Lana!

Always great to have your insightful and encouraging feedback. Great point about the slowness of Pluto transits making them easier to "get" re: purpose, focus and memories. (Most of them are truly unforgettable! :)

I love your share about Pluto and childbirth. You truly had the full experience of Pluto's ruling the birthing process.

I'm amazed me that I'm finally coming to terms with Pluto. I was wondering if it could be done. It's never easy, but my acceptance of its wisdom feels so healing.

Love and thanks,

liz alice said...

Hey Joyce! Good luck with your pluto transit and thank you for your discussion of it. Pluto is currently conjunct my north node in the sixth house amidst my capricorn stellium of mars,merc and venus. That 'place between' you describe is very apparent to me. I am currently in a place where all the old things have ended and the new ones not quite begun. It is often hard to keep moving forward because I have no idea where I'm going to.

Up until this transit, I was a professional cook and baker and a chronic food-as-comfort abuser. When pluto reached my sixth house I developed major food allergies to wheat and much for years of baking apprenticeships, eh?

Last fall, I finally decided to eliminate wheat from my diet completely and I have been amazed at the result. I have always struggled with weight and losing it but this time I have lost 40 pounds in 8 months without even trying. I still eat everything else and have found some passable gluten free substitutes for things like pasta. Anything I can't replace, I sigh and move on. Pluto marks the death of one life and the beginning of another.

Thank you for your insight and your lovely blog. I read you regularly and enjoy your analysis.

Best Wishes, Liz

Joyce Mason said...

Liz, thanks for your wonderful share! It's good to know that that I'm not alone in the Place Between. I'm really inspired about your weight loss. I understand that many people are allergic to wheat without knowing it. (This would be very ironic for The Radical Virgo, given Virgo's signature chaff of wheat! :) My husband is diabetic, so letting go of wheat would be a good experiment for us both. I got him to agree to give it a month's try, based on your excellent results. It won't be easy for us, but I'll let you know how we do.

You're the 2nd person I've encountered recently who was a cook and/or foodie who did major dietary changes with excellent results. This is the kind of sharing that encourages others on the path of putting food into perspective.

And thanks for your kind words about this blog and for being a "regular."

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, Pluto. Sorry, I think I've been shaking my fist at the Grand Cross players for quite a while now. It's only recently that I don't quite feel like I'm trapped in a food blender. LOL! [Pluto right now is retrograde and conjunct my Sun, Mercury, and south node, and of course all being squared by Uranus. Bloody troublemakers. ;)] Still trying to figure out how to put myself together again, but I definitely feel freer now that more planets are in Leo.

I never did like the 'between' times of anything but I think I'm going to have to at least accept and work with it. Still scary, though.

I hope that things work out well for you and Tim, as best as you are able.

Joyce Mason said...

Colleen, thanks for adding to the conversation! Trapped in a food blender, indeed. We've all been through Pluto's food processor and know the sharpness of the blades and the resulting mush/formlessness! Under it all, though, you sound positive and ready for rebirth... a real gift.

Thanks for your good wishes for Tim and me. We share Jupiter in Scorpio and an ability to laugh ourselves through adversity, just when a joke is most needed. It leads to a lot of gallows humor often only appreciated by other Plutonians. :)

Anonymous said...

I've only experienced wealth and abundance during Pluto transits. That and the longest most devoted love relationship in my life.

Modern astrologers have very little understanding of the planet as they take mythology literally and not as a metaphor, thus the realm of delusion dominates and any life event that feels in the least disruptive is assumed to relate to any outer planet transit.

Most individuals barely function beyond their Moon and perhaps some of their Sun sign, with the other planets registering only mildly because there is no conscious container to hold them; meaning the individual is living a mechanical life that for all intents and purposes is nothing more than a carbon copy replica of their parents; thus the Sun and Moon alignment.

Anne Whitaker said...

Hi Joyce
I've been meaning to drop by for a while. What a stormer of a post! it's terrific. I'm pleased to hear you're resting a bit more....( I would be, wouldn't I ?!)

Also, I very much agree with what you say, from my own wrestles over a long time, that transits get less tough if you do the work the ask of you. It's an important - and encouraging - point to make.
Anne x

Joyce Mason said...

Thanks for your supportive feedback, Anne. You have been a great role model for me about taking it easier, not to mention one of my favorite models of growing through the curriculum of the outer planets. Our NCGR group was visited recently by wise astrologer Maurice Fernandez. He talked about how it all boils down to loving life and carrying on with joy and courage. (I'm paraphrasing greatly.) And the more I watch Cosmos, the more I think: What a ride! I'm happy to be here learning in great company.

Anonymous said...

Shhhh...the positive thing is just a front, though I'm more hopeful these days that some day it won't be.