The planet Pluto is my oriental of the Sun planet. It is the planet I wake up with facing the world. Professional astrologers may gasp at this at first. When my astrology teacher, Marc, saw this in my chart he said, “Are you serious?" followed by "Nice…wow you've really been there haven't you?”
And he was right but what does this mean? That I face the world learning about the spiritual depths of life whether I like it or not. It is a unique feature to have in a birth chart. So when I went through my midlife transits, life got dark and transformed me into a better version of myself. It also put me on my path as a professional astrologer to help others understand this planet better.
To understand the planet Pluto, I will go back to my ancestral roots in Greek mythology (which you can also read about in the March Equinox edition of The Evolving Astrologer or on Astro.com). Pluto (Hades) was the ruler of the underworld. He was the lord of the dead and the giver of wealth, yet with all that power, he was lonely and wanted a wife. To meet his desires, Pluto abducted Persephone, the daughter of the goddess Demeter.
Pluto claimed Persephone as his wife and queen of the underworld. Demeter was so devastated by this turn of events, she abandoned her duties as the goddess of fertility. In turn, the world had no crops. Through these dark times, Demeter was experiencing grief from the loss of her daughter. She decided to face her demon, Pluto, and come to a truce with him.
Demeter and Pluto negotiated and agreed that Persephone would split her time. She would spend six months with her mother and the rest of the year with her husband. When Demeter was happy with her daughter by her side, the crops were bountiful. When her daughter was away as co-ruler of the underworld, Demeter was sad, and the crops were barren. In this way, the ancients explained the seasons.
Both Demeter and Pluto have a link to fertility. Demeter was the goddess of harvests. As the god of the underworld, Pluto was also a giver of wealth, including spiritual wealth. The Greek philosopher Socrates (in the publication Cratylus) stated that Pluto is the "giver of wealth, which comes out of the earth beneath."
In this myth, each character attains wealth through their transformation. Before the transformative event of the abduction, both Demeter and Persephone feared what was under the earth. They feared the dark and unseen. When Pluto emerged, their fears came to light.
Demeter experienced the mortal fear of loss and learned how to navigate it. Through her grief, she accepted it was time to let go of her daughter. Demeter gained new wealth as she adapted to altered circumstances, perhaps finding new interests. Pluto’s wealth expanded with a much-desired wife to share his kingdom and additional responsibilities as a husband.
What about Persephone? As a creature of beauty and grace, she may have resisted going into the underworld. Many artists attempted to capture the action and the emotional impact on the characters. In most interpretations, Persephone is shown resisting abduction, but not all. For example, in the Abduction of Persephone by Scarcellino, Persephone’s lower body and face are turned toward Pluto, not the mortals tugging at her arms. Was Persephone attracted to Pluto? Did she want to change on some level and realize it was time to evolve? Persephone, like all mortals, may have discovered she has a dark side and learned to accept it.
Ancient Greek mythology reflects different values than contemporary Western culture, emphasizing patriarchy, women as property, and glorifying violent triumphs. Yet wisdom can still be plucked from mythological stores. Sometimes we must face unpleasant things and accept what cannot be changed. In Persephone’s case, I like to think that she used this opportunity to grow, choosing to transform into the queen of the underworld over and over again. Her spiritual wealth was in acceptance and empowerment.
The changes Pluto brings must be embraced. It is a time to face demons and fears as Persephone and Demeter did. Facing dark challenges in life is critical for evolution into the true self. Pluto brings people into truth, forcing each person to be honest with themselves, to find spiritual wealth, and to find their true self.
Of course, with this myth, we focus on Pluto and Persephone. We can see how this symbolism has come down the ages to our modern astrological interpretation. But what about Demeter? Known as Ceres (from Ancient Rome), this is the name of an asteroid (also classified as a dwarf planet like Pluto). In astrology, this asteroid represents what nurtures us. She depicts our need for love and care. To keep nourished and alive on a physical level (food and shelter), on an emotional level (love and support), and on a spiritual level (guidance and wisdom).
She is like the moon but with a distinct Plutonian flavour. Ceres is all about being fed or ‘die’. Like her son-in-law, her energy is that of deep emotional transformation.
I find this brings an ironic link between the son- and mother-in-law. They both want Persephone (the daughter and wife) for their own, but both must realise that Persephone makes her own choices. They must face their transformation in life to be happy and true to themselves. Each character must be honest about what sustenance they need to stay alive, in this case, emotionally.
As such, Ceres can make you face your fears and feelings around your self-worth. When it comes to this asteroid, you must face your right of passage. It can bring about your experiences and feelings of abandonment, attachments, and loss. It is about how we cope with our mother's fears and anxieties that can be passed onto us.
Ceres deals with the fine line between dealing with and being a Mother and a Lover. Persephone is both, and she followed what her mother and husband agreed to - equal time spent with both characters and having different roles for each.
So the energy of Ceres is a mixture of the Moon, Venus, and Pluto - the mother, bride, and groom. And in these energetic mixes, we get a wonderfully rich astrological interpretation. On 6th May, Ceres turns direct in Virgo after a three-month retrograde trek through Libra and Virgo. Ironically, she entered the sign of Virgo the day Pluto entered the sign of Aquarius. These two signs usually misunderstand each other. Much like a son- and mother-in-law sometimes. But they work together well profound discoveries are made. Through Persephone, Pluto found the mother he never had ... and a Demeter/Ceres, the son she always wanted.
If you want to find out about how asteroids play out in your birth chart, get in touch for a reading.