December 31, 201112 Comments

“Astrology for the Astrologically Challenged” by Deborah Smith Parker

Many of you probably noticed it was harder this year to wrap yourself in tinsel and hold holly in your heart, and for some even harder to pretend to. I’ll say later in this post just who those people probably are.

Some, like me, found this Christmas hellishly difficult, more like Maundy Thursday than Christmas. There are astrological reasons for that. On Christmas Eve we had Moon conjunct Pluto, and in Capricorn no less. Let me explain:

Capricorn is not among the astrological signs that springs to mind about cavorting in holiday cheer. It is a deeply intense sign whose natives harbor passionate feelings but they must be mined through their crusty exteriors to have them fully expressed.

The Moon, regardless of the sign she’s in, always pulls us backward in time through memory. In Capricorn the memories often are not of warm and glowy times but more about the lessons, restrictions and imbalances of authority our lives are filled with. With this conjunction impacting both ends of the parental axis—one end in Capricorn (father) and the Moon ruling the opposite end, Cancer (mother)—the focus of the emotional content and deep patterns will be on family.

While the Moon pulls us backward, Pluto pulls us under. There in the underground where Pluto rules, combined with the energies of the Moon, we are forced to confront feelings or situations from the past that are buried but not yet dead. We are initially surprised by this because we felt they were all nicely wrapped in their shrouds and sealed in their tombs. But they aren’t. They are painful to confront because, as science tells us, it is dying tissues that are excruciatingly painful, not those already dead.

Whatever images or memories come up for us at this time show us where we must do our deepest work to reveal our emerging new lives we often don’t believe are possible–but they are. The Moon will be conjunct Pluto in Capricorn once a month until Pluto moves to another sign, but this placement is particularly difficult to experience on Christmas when our expectations for being wreathed by the love of family and filled with hope are at their highest.

With Pluto it always takes time and Pluto has lots of time. He has been in early degrees of Capricorn since 2008, the sign he will be in until he finally enters Aquarius in 2024. He spends up to two years aspecting just one point in the chart because he moves so slowly, goes forward and then retrogrades, generally making three passes over a point in the chart and sometimes four.

I’ve blogged a lot this year about Pluto in Capricorn, also in other signs, and his key role in power dynamics at national and even global levels. But when he pairs with the Moon, as he has this Christmas, he becomes deeply and intensely personal. For many of us hit by this Moon/Pluto aspect we become like Persephone, initially trapped helpless and mute in the nether regions with no contact with those above the surface. If you have key planets in early degrees of any cardinal sign (Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn) you probably know what I’m talking about. The first time Pluto hits that point or points you feel like you’ve been run down in the street but aren’t dead, just lying there hurting. Just when you think you can get up and start to move you get hit again, and again.

There are three parts to the Persephone myth and we need to pay particular attention to all three, which we don’t. We’re familiar with the first part where Persephone is picking flowers and the second part where the earth opens up and Pluto in his chariot carries her off to Hades where only he rules supreme and negotiations begin for her release–negotiations she has no part in even though they are about her future. However, we tend to ignore the third and most critical part in which she becomes Queen of the Underworld, Pluto’s ruling partner. She does this voluntarily. Queens don’t co-rule as captives. This means she underwent deep changes that caused her to consciously choose to remain with him.

Those who have lived in the underground know about both life and death which we all need to do to face fear. Those who live only above ground do not. We never go to the underground voluntarily, but we do go. It is where we all have to eventually learn. Pluto takes us there and Persephone show us the process. You can’t just go back to aimlessly picking flowers when you’ve come back from the dead. These three parts of the myth also coincide with how we experience three transiting Pluto hits over a two year period each time it hits a single point in our charts.

I have a strongly Pluto dominated chart and have had every bit of the “difficult” life that accompanies such a heavy Pluto emphasis. I’d also like to stress that I’ve had many rich rewards too, paid largely in coinage redeemable only in consciousness.

Recently I was filled with Pluto Pride thinking there wasn’t much more Pluto could do to me–I was about to find out. I was actually surprised when he moved in for the kill (we’re always surprised when this happens–even we astrologers) in early 2011.

This holiday season is the fulcrum of his two years of seesawing back and forth across that sixth degree of Capricorn to square my Aries Sun and fill in my cardinal T-square. Several aspects of my life that I thought were resolved now lay bleeding in the street and I have to tend to them. And I will. And I’m beginning to see the vision of what lies beyond the carnage around me. But right now I want to sit on the curb and cry and I want to be left alone to do so.

Even though my family situation has not changed in several years—my parents and all of their generation are still dead as are most in my generation—this holiday season my heart ached so deeply for family that I couldn’t conceal it, nor did I even try. The only relative left with whom I have a relationship is my brother who several years ago had a stroke that seriously limited his capacities for speech that have not improved and are not expected to. He now has to think of every single thing he says which is exhausting to do, so he chooses to speak very little. I miss him terribly and my parents. This year I feel their loss in depths I have not felt before nor wanted to because it is all tied up with things long buried but not yet dead and Pluto is showing me it is now their time to end their half lives so they can die and have a proper burial.

My husband and I shared Christmas with members of his family who weren’t faring much better. He and his sister spent their first Christmas without their mother who died four months ago. His father (his parents divorced years ago) spent part of the day with us but suffers from dementia and extreme frailty so he slept most of the time and asked to be taken back home to his caretakers before dessert. His wife couldn’t be there because she has been out of state for the past three months with her dying son and will remain with him until he passes. So they’re having a Pluto time too.

The friends I spent the most time with over this holiday are those who, too, are spending time in the underground or have just come out. The Native Americans of the American Southwest refer to it as the kiva, and it is a holy place underground used for rituals. When we come out of the kiva we are changed. I’m not out of it yet but I can see the ladder up and out into the light. Next Christmas I’ll be there.

Next post I’ll be on a lighter subject–sort of–rescuing Venus from cultural and  astrological “arm candy” as promised before my “descent.”

  Deborah Smith Parker is the author of “Humanus Astrologicus” available in soft cover and  in ebook formats. To sign up to receive her blog or follow her on Twitter @astro_logicus and Facebook click to the right of this post.

About author:

Deborah Smith Parker is re-writing the often impenetrable language of astrology into a much friendlier form. She has spent her 30 plus years as an astrological consultant, writer, teacher and lecturer freeing the rich astrological images and their descriptions increasingly buried under modern clinical and technological descriptions. Her additional work in public policy has provided many outlets for demonstrating her ability to break down highly complex systems into information that’s easily understood.

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  1. Deborah:

    Thanks for sharing, so honestly, your view from the Underworld – brilliant and healing to the rest of us as always. My Underworld consists of recovering from a broken knee cap and detached tendon, so I have a similar view to yours of the light above the kiva. Pluto in exact square to Mars-Libra and Eris-Aries – conjunct Jupiter at 4 Aries – Pluto is conjunct my partile Mercury/Chiron conjunction at 2 Cap. With Merc as chart ruler, I guess my current Pluto tire-treads were physical! I empathize and continue to admire your writing…

  2. Geoffrey James says:

    As you well know, Deborah, we are never really alone. L.V.X. geoff

  3. Jim Hennum says:

    One of your best works to date. Very Aries no-holds-barred unvarnished truth-telling, yet full of rich meaning, metaphor and (despite Pluto’s rather bleak performance in most of our lives) hope! Having been down the hole you’re currently looking up out of, I can commiserate. I was spared a great deal of the Pluto aspects this Christmas as I have no early cardinal. Nevertheless, I experienced the “Bah, humbug” feelings this Christmas (which isn’t really my nature), and the unexpected longing for family.
    Girl, when you shine, you blow me away!

  4. Brenda Underhill says:

    Amazing Deb! — your insight and writing went right to the core of what I have been experiencing this holiday season. Thanks for explaining where my ho, ho ho went! While it doesn’t change the angst of the bleeding it does light an understanding and compassion of the healing process. Thank you.

  5. Jill Estensen says:

    Once again I am in awe of your ability to light up my life. I’ve been in the underworld for many years. Pluto has been dancing in square to my 3 degree Libra Sun coupled with my 5 degree Libra Saturn. While the heaviest part of this square is complete, the remnants are still quite alive. I drew my Tarot card for the year…The Hermit….yet again for the 4th year in a row. My favorite line in this piece is “I’ve had many rich rewards too, paid largely in coinage redeemable only in consciousness.” Powerful Pluto stuff!!! Thank you from the depths….Jill

  6. Lisa says:

    Deborah, You truly have the gifts of deep insight and communication. Being Pluto ruled with Scorpio rising, I currently have Transiting Pluto Conjuncting my Capricorn Sun/2nd house, Transiting Uranus conjunct my Natal Mars/5th house, and opposing my Natal Pluto/11th house, and Transiting Saturn/natally 7th house, touring my 12 th house. Pretty much I am in the Kiva and I am so incredibly raw/empty and vulnerbale to say I am an empathic sponge would be an understatement. I have always been an empath, but now I truly get what that means and understand how to better use and care for this gift. I also feel like an empty vessel, I really have lost my Mars in Aries in the 5th fighting spirit, I don’t care anymore, but in a calm not a resigned way, and only after some really ugly emotional fights with family and friends that changed me on such a deep level I can’t even put words to it. I feel like a space alien who just got dropped on this planet and I look with curiosity on this place and it’s people, because I have always felt different but it no longer feels like a burden to be different. Just living out my time in this underworld until I can go home, and for me as a Pluto ruled person I have always known the top world for me will not be until I ascend/pass out of Maya. As for my external world, As you know fired from my job in Sept, on unemployment which may run out for me in March if congress doesn’t extend the federal ext. filing deadline. I just packed my furniture and let go of a lot of my possessions in prep. for storing my stuff and possibly living in my car. Strangely for me, I feel no resistance anymore, I realize resistance is futile, I am deeply in the second phase of Persephone’s journey.

  7. I’d been afraid to look at the charts after what I’ve been calling our “transformational” Christmas. My mother and I nearly came to blows–which is a first. I won’t be driving them from Indy to Missouri anymore! My brother Tom’s guide dog BIT my mother-to-be sister-in-law, so the dog will need to be retired. Tom wandered off after a group of strangers thinking they were us, Mom was persuaded to put aside her grief at the loss of a toddler 49 years ago at least enough to show some pleasure at finally becoming a grandmother–oh and Mom, at 87, is in love again, which is way more important to her than anything else. I felt like the tetherball at the end of a pole, whipped from one extreme to the other. (the explosion with Mom came when that pluto-charged moon it the midpoint degree in Aqu of our Aqu/Taurus moon square. Ick.) In retrospect it’s high humor, mostly. For which I’m greatful.

  8. You made my heart ache. Like another out-sized Aries girl I know, your physical outer belies your vulnerability and that just doubles the ache. This has been my least favorite year so far as well, so let’s just find those boot straps and keep on trekkin’.

  9. Dear Debra,

    Thank you for bringing a new and heart stirring perspective to this holiday season. Your ability to share so honestly the most human and difficult of feelings so eloquently is a healing for us all. It is so helpful to remember we are not alone in our experience.
    Many blessings

  10. Dear Deborah

    I particularly enjoyed this article so much, that I think I’ve read it a dozen times since receiving it!

    There’s so much I’d like to say about it, as it really touched me, but in fact the words actually fail me this time (yes, I’m still Gemini with my Sun in the 8th house and my Mercury in Cancer in 9!).

    I’m left with only a big THANKYOU! Thanks for explaining why this Christmas seemed so dreary, and thanks for being so open. Sharing your own experiences have aided me in putting mine back into perspective.

    Accept a hug from cold, wet and grey Berlin

  11. Mary Louise says:

    The Pluto Persephone myth has been my favorite for many years.
    Most of the insightful observations you cover are intensely personal and recognizable.

    The new Moon Christmas Eve exactly conjuncted my natal Moon in 12th. Pluto transited three times in two years; so far I haven’t gone back to picking flowers but may come out to plant seeds.

    When we’ve opened doors of awareness there’s no closing them.
    Thanks for the great article.

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