Aspects of Life
We turn now to Letter Eight in our discussion of aspects. Pluto, Scorpio and the eighth house all contain a dilemma within. With a connection to partnership—through the depth sharing of the physical, financial and sexual worlds—Letter Eight is an important key to intimacy issues. Yet, Letter Eight is also a water letter, and—like all water—requires some time alone to process life, to work things out internally. Thus Letter Eight points to a natural ambivalence—a pull towards committed relationships simultaneous with a push to be separate, to maintain one’s privacy for inner work and understanding.
A primary goal with Letter Eight is self-insight and self-understanding. This can be pursued by solitary meditation, studies and research; it can also be pursued in the context of a relationship—learning through the mirror of a mate, seeing parts of our own nature reflected back in the (exaggerated) behavior of another person. Having a choice of paths, it is not surprising that people dealing with prominent Letter Eight issues often feel torn between these paths—or go from one extreme to another in seeking some of both.
Because a sense of self-control is very important at such times, people are prone to overdoing their need for control and mastery. The results can include a mind of hair-shirt morality—extremes of self-denial and asceticism, holding back from perfectly reasonable pleasures. Another extreme is chronic power struggles with those around us—fighting for dominance and the ability to be in charge of the situation.
With Pluto/Pluto aspects for an individual, most of us will experience only the conjunction (by retrograde), semi-sextile, octile, sextile, square and trine in our lifetimes—if we limit ourselves to traditional current patterns such as transits and progressions. But mundane work and synastry work bring in the potential of all aspects.
A Plutonic focus in aspects often points to a period of intense emotionality. The deepest levels of our psyche are usually involved with Pluto periods. The issue in some way revolves around facing one’s Shadow—the less- recognized, more unconscious side of ourselves, the part of our being most of us would prefer not to acknowledge. Letter Eight underlines our need to not only confront our Shadow side—but also find positive uses for the abilities within our Shadow. Too often, what is buried in the unconscious is seen as “bad” or negative in some way. The goal is to shine upon it the light of day and discover positive uses of the qualities thus illuminated.
The path which an individual takes in dealing with Shadow issues can vary considerably. For some, Scorpionic times are periods of total withdrawal. These people cut themselves off from the world—often physically as well as emotionally and mentally. They may retreat to a monastery or an ashram or a cabin in the wilderness. They may bury themselves in the stacks of the local library. They may stop answering the phone and seeing people. They are engaged in an investigatory process; the focus is their own inner workings. They utilize all necessary research tools to probe the depths of their own psyches. When withdrawal is chosen as an option, the individual often believes consciously that s/he has no choice. There is commonly a sense of being “forced” to withdraw, or “having to” cut off from others. The severing of ties is projected onto Life; the individual may not believe that s/he had anything to do with it. This can include the extreme of life-threatening situations where the person believes that all s/he can do is to concentrate fully on survival. Anything else becomes superfluous and a distraction!
A common Plutonic theme revolves around release and letting go. This can be learned on the emotional level, as in the transmuting of resentment and anger into positive actions and attitudes. It may be faced on a physical (emotional/spiritual) level through death (of a person, relationship, situation, job...) where we must move on. Spiritual release and forgiveness is an essential part of the process. If the quest for control or desire for answers is carried too far, death is a final proof that there are limits to our personal control and understanding of life, especially where other people are concerned. We have to learn to forgive, forget and move on.
The probing for answers can be channeled into occult studies, into self-analysis, into research about society’s ills or many other avenues. The central key is a totality of commitment. Letter Eight truly is—often—all or nothing. When an individual in a Plutonic period makes a commitment to something or someone, the feeling is that the commitment is—literally—to the death. As a result, the person can be utterly relentless and totally ruthless in screening out anything which s/he believes is not relevant to the pursuit of that commitment. Friends, family and lovers of people engaged in such an intense investigation have been known to complain, “I might as well be dead!” The point is, as far as that Scorpionic individual is concerned at the moment, you are! His/her total focus, concentration and experience of life is intensely, single-mindedly bent on whatever depth investigation is in process. If you are not a part of that, you are likely to feel excluded until the focus changes.
However a withdrawal is NOT the only option. Some individuals manifest their Plutonic periods by confronting the intimacy issue head-on. Their relationship(s) can become battlegrounds as they deal with Shadow issues through sharing with another human being. Too often, an initial result is intense power struggles. Both parties may feel that the other person is using sex, money, tears or other emotional reactions as weapons in order to get his/her way. Either party may feel the other is engaging in intimidation or emotional blackmail. Accusations have been known to fly wildly about as each person is, often unknowingly, feeding an exaggerated mirror to the other party. Few things are more infuriating to most of us than to see our own shortcomings reflected back (in a larger than life format) by someone near and dear to us.
The results are, all too often, both comic and tragic. The spouse who is playing around becomes obsessed with the idea that his/her partner is having an affair and scrutinizes everything with an eagle eye, searching avidly for “evidence” that his/her suspicions are correct. The partner who feels an intense need for control of his/her resources becomes convinced that his/her mate is trying to “influence” financial decisions. As a result, purchases which would normally be a simple matter become fraught with accusations, threats, tirades and general unpleasantness. The individual with a strong sexual drive decides that his/her lover is “flirting” with everyone around and feels betrayed. And so on. The list is endless.
When we choose to confront Pluto issues through our relationships, it is often a stormy time. Confrontations abound. Emotions are often inflamed and logical analysis can be in short supply. The more each person realizes that the mirror principle of life is in operation, the easier conflicts become to resolve. If I can consider (at least as a hypothesis) that what annoys me MOST in my partner reflects a less- developed side of my own nature, with which I am uncomfortable, than dialogue becomes more of a possibility. If I insist on proclaiming that my partner is to blame for everything; that all would be well if only s/he would change, then meaningful communication is unlikely. It is true that relationships (and individuals) are often transformed during Plutonic periods. But that transformation can be negative as well as positive. I’ve seen people who felt as if their partners had suddenly become monsters—for lack of dealing positively with the unconscious issues which were emerging. And, I’ve seen people turn a negative way of interacting completely around, by accepting themselves and their partners more fully and moving into a mutually supportive framework. The choice is ours.
When Pluto aspects are prominent, some questions to consider include:
How much ALONE time do I need now?
How can I structure my life to get it?
What mystery am I wanting to get to the bottom of?
What secrets am I yearning to investigate?
How can I commit to a depth investigation without totally disrupting other parts of my life?
How much INTIMACY do I want at this time?
Where/How will I gain feelings of self- control during this period, e.g., through careful management of my diet, through exercise, through limiting my hours at the library, through cutting down on drinking, etc.?
What parts of my nature am I less comfortable with and how can I turn those qualities into positives in my life?
What annoys/angers/upsets me most about my spouse and how might that reflect some parts of my own nature?
What do I like/admire/respect the most about my partner and how might that reflect some parts of my own nature?
What am I angry or resentful about and what can I do about those feelings?
What in my life today is “dead” and ought to be released? Where do I need to let go and move on?
Am I willing to forgive myself for any previous or current wrongdoings?
Am I willing to forgive my partner for any previous or current wrongdoings?
If I look back on this period five years later, what transformations will I remember making at this time?
As with any configuration, the conjunction is the strongest, most intense aspect. Harmony aspects imply these issues are easier to resolve and express positively, but the potential of excess is still there. Conflict aspects point to the need to balance conflicting desires (intimacy versus isolation) within ourselves—by moderation (rarely a natural choice where Letter Eight is involved) or by expressing differing needs in different times and places in life.
Extremes are very likely with this combination. The intensity of Pluto backed up by the exaggerative qualities which Jupiter represents can point to an incredibly emotional period. The inner push/pull of a fire/water struggle (spontaneity versus holding in) adds to the emotional impact of such a time. Halfway measures are unlikely. Mood swings are quite possible—ranging from feeling totally on top of the world, optimistic and up (Jupiter) to feeling suppressed, repressed and depressed (Pluto), often as a result of our own needs for self-control.
One potential is idealizing Plutonic activities. With Jupiter, “The sky’s the limit,” so people may overdo sensuality, sexuality or financial issues. If joint pleasures and resources are made into a “god,” the individual may feel it is impossible to have too much. However, the opposite extreme can also occur. The person may turn self-mastery and self-control into their absolute values, whereby extremes of denial and withdrawal are commonplace. Since the natural exuberant outreach of Jupiter’s search for more is at odds with the Scorpionic impulse to dig within, bouncing back and forth from extremes of indulgence and hedonism to asceticism and impoverishment are also quite possible.
If the Plutonic urge for facing the Shadow is being chiefly examined in the context of intimate relationships, Jupiter denotes the theme of expectations as an issue. We may demand more than is humanly possible of ourselves, of relationships, of sensual pleasures or possessions, etc. Grandiose impulses could play havoc with coming to terms with our Shadow issues. Grand schemes and dreams may be pursued for the relationship without confronting the basic emotional issues that exist.
Conflict between Jupiterian activities and Plutonic activities is also possible, especially when there are conflict aspects, most often with separative ones. We may experience our intimacy needs as competing with our desire to search for the Truth—seeking answers at the end of the Universe if necessary. We may feel that our ideals, moral principles or ethics are at odds with those of our mate. We could believe that our educational, spiritual or religious needs demand too much of our financial resources—or create conflicts with a partner. We may face the issue of blending Jupiterian impulses to act quickly and spontaneously with Plutonic motivations to wait, search within and mull things over. One basic issue of Jupiter versus Pluto is simple honesty (blunt, forthright) versus secrecy (keep things hidden).
If we are able to make the integration (easiest when harmony aspects are involved), we can choose appropriate times and places to be spontaneous, carefree, optimistic and open with other times and places to be careful, painstaking, guarded, thorough and secretive. We use our joint resources to support the spiritual, educational, philosophical goals of ourselves and our mate. We depend on moral principles and ethics to help build a mutually satisfying, intimate relationship. We share joint goals with a partner, which draw us closer together—not farther apart. With an integration, we have the best of the depth (Pluto) and the breadth (Jupiter). This can be an incredibly skilled combination in terms of any kind of learning. Pluto indicates the potential concentration, focus and ability to handle details, while Jupiter points to a skill with the overview, a wide perspective, a universal understanding and approach.
You don’t really know the meaning of forever until you have faced Pluto/Saturn issues. “Til death do us part” takes on a whole new meaning in such cases. Tenacious, relentless, unyielding, persistent, doggedly determined to finish up, obsessive and thorough are all words that convey only a little of the fanatical focus people can exhibit with this combination.
With two of the three (Vesta is the third) obsessive-compulsive keys involved, the potential research ability is tremendous. During Pluto/Saturn periods, the person is more able to be thorough, exacting, painstaking with all the details and has tremendous motivation to finish projects. If carried too far, the individual may become compulsive about unimportant details. People may hang on too long—to situations, people, circumstances—still trying to finish up in cases where the only lesson left is saying good-bye and letting go.
Since Saturn symbolizes all the Puritan virtues (duty, thrift, responsibility, hard work, etc.), its interaction with Pluto tends to indicate a period of excessive denial. Real deprivation is not uncommon. Too often, the individual inhibits satisfactions and gratification from an exaggerated need for control and self-mastery. (If this need is projected, the person may experience the environment as especially depriving during such periods. But the basic issue is our inner tendency to deny ourselves perfectly reasonable pleasures under the guise of appetite control, self-control or other convenient labels.)
One form of making life harder for ourselves than is really necessary or appropriate is letting criticism and judgment become an issue in our intimate exchanges. If the flaw-finding lens represented by Saturn is channeled inappropriately in our close relationships, we may find ourselves picking at our partners, or being dissected by them—in less than happy ways. Potential grace, harmony and enjoyment can be spoiled by the critical attitude of one or another partner. Punishment on some level is often an issue. With Letter Eight, resentment—and its opposite, forgiveness—are important issues. If we have not yet forgiven ourselves or others, we will (unconsciously) find ways to punish ourselves and others for imagined sins. How much more rewarding to utilize the pragmatism and hard work which Saturn represents to enhance the relationships, to build a firm foundation, to support with practical actions—rather than to tear down with criticism or destructive “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts.”
Conflicts between Saturn and Pluto issues can also be played out in the choices made around time and energy commitments to a close relationship versus to a career or some kind of calling in the outer world. Achievement needs must be balanced with intimacy needs. Overdoing either one at the expense of the other is not an answer.
This conflict can also be played out as struggles between authority figures (including our parents) and a mate. They may act out (partially unconsciously) the dominance/control struggles that we are facing on an inner level. Jockeying for power is not an unlikely occurrence with this combination. The challenge is to have an arena in life (e.g., sports, high- powered career, games) where that ambitious, productive, judgmental focus can go and be effective, rather than producing trauma and discomfort in people associations.
When the integration is achieved, individuals are able to balance love and work. They can maintain an intimate association and still be motivated to pursue accomplishments in the outer world. They can be realistic and practical about relationships, without being unnecessarily harsh to themselves or others. They can be focused, careful and conscientious, but know when to stop—when is enough. They can relate as an authority figure (e.g., executive) when appropriate and as an equal when appropriate. They can share the material, sensual, sexual, monetary world with someone else in a mutually satisfying, yet practical, way. They are disciplined without extremes of self-denial. They are dedicated without being obsessive.
Persistence confronts change with Pluto/Uranus combinations. This natural square points to the inner conflict between our emotional desires for stability, status quo, and attachment, versus our need to do something new, different, unusual and individualistic. This natural, human dilemma can be played out in a number of arenas. We may feel torn between playing it safe financially—or taking on a new investment (which is progressive, but risky), or starting a job which is creative, but has erratic income. We may simply have a lot of ambivalence around the amount of money we save for a rainy day versus what we give to worthy, humanitarian causes, to friends, spend on new technology, astrology or other new-age activities. We may feel conflicted about how much of our resources are ours—to blow or do with as we please—versus how much is joint, and a partner must be consulted and appeased.
Sexuality could be the arena of confrontation. We may feel torn between new, unusual approaches and ideas which sound intriguing versus the known, satisfying paths to sensual gratification. Experimentation may threaten our sense of intimate connection. Security and safety may be at odds with the impulse for changes in lovemaking.
Our relationship(s) may deal with the issue of freedom versus closeness. While Pluto represents an inner drive for sharing, Uranus denotes our need for uniqueness and personal independence. We could feel torn between the roles of solitary individualist versus committed, caring partner. We could range from feeling an incredibly deep connection to a mate, to wanting to run away and simply do our own thing in the world. We may vacillate between needing an amazing amount of space to wanting to merge and blend with that other person.
If current patterns highlight a freedom/closeness ambivalence which is not yet resolved, we can manifest any of the various options. We may project one end and attract a partner who OVERDOES that quality—either the free soul who leaves us (overdoing the freedom side) or the clinging vine who smothers us (overdoing the closeness side). We can get involved with married men, married women or people unwilling or unready for a committed relationship (thus getting the appearance of closeness but actually lots of freedom and space). We may become involved in a long-distance relationship; when close we are very close, but when apart we are both free to do our own thing. We may repress either end and get an appropriate illness such as problems with circulation or with elimination. We may bounce from one extreme to the other—first rushing into relationships to alleviate our sense of loneliness and then rushing out to escape our sense of confinement, repeating the pattern again and again until we learn to balance. We may attract people who share our ambivalence and simply have a relationship that is always a little out of synch; they want closeness when we want freedom and we want closeness when they want freedom. The challenge, of course, is to arrange our lives so that there is room for both intimacy and variation; independence and sharing; space and individuality within our close associations.
In life in general, our security/risk dilemma must also be faced and integrated. Risk taking is more appropriate and helpful in certain areas of life; paying attention to security needs is more sensible in other segments. We have to make the choices and the deliberate structuring of our lives to create the space for both drives. If we do not integrate these differing desires, explosive changes can occur. Our Plutonic side tends to keep on keeping on in the same direction—to the death, and can be highly resistant to any changes. If we deny our Uranian side, it is commonly experienced through projection—through the actions of other people or our external environment. In such cases, we find ourselves catapulted into changes—and not always the changes we would have made, had we chosen consciously, deliberately, with forethought. Such outer world events can range from a “sudden, totally unexpected” divorce, to unforeseen financial developments which threaten our security, to unpredicted alterations in our sensual/sexual satisfactions, to an “out of the blue” decision to withdraw from life in some way.
We are better off staying in touch with our ambivalence and choosing at least some small changes to make regularly over time. If we maintain the room in life for both SOME security and SOME risks, we are less likely to find ourselves suddenly “forced” to change or “forced” into an unyielding, static situation. Life is a process and a balance between maintaining what we have and moving toward the future with new choices.
With this combination, what is most important is usually occurring at a very deep, subterranean level. Often, there are no clues on the surface to indicate the events happening inside. With both factors being water, inner exploration, intuitive understanding and a need to go within are all important motivations. Rarely is anything revealed until the person has an inner sense of control and insight about the issues.
One potential is increased psychic openness during such periods. Intuition is likely to be marked and there is more sensitivity on many levels. Caution with drugs is a good idea, as physical sensitivity is common, along with emotional and psychic. The feelings may be easily hurt, but the impulse is to hide, to not reveal any chinks in the armor. Secrecy becomes a paramount tool in the quest for self-protection. Although empathy is often more developed, the person may resist sharing impressions and emotions with others, for fear of being hurt.
Inner searching is a common focus. Meditation, therapy (both with a trained outsider, but also often, on one’s own through self-analysis), occult studies, spiritual investigations, religious quests and a number of other avenues may be explored as an attempt to come to terms with one’s own inner space in the context of the universe. Beauty may be sought and created as a path to understanding, inspiration and illumination. There is a reach inward, downward (into the depths), but also upward (to the heights of inspiration). Dreams may be investigated as might other channels to an understanding of life on levels that go beyond the purely rational and logical.
There is a seeking and a yearning here for an emotional experience of life and a connection to something Higher. The goal is for a grasp of reality that goes beyond the linear, physical level. If this is carried too far, the individual can get lost in space—the immensity of outer space, overwhelmed by the majesty and grandeur of the universe OR the vast recesses of inner space—performing wheels within wheels with daydreaming, imaginative exercises or simply too much fantasy. If the person becomes TOO dependent on intuitive answers, rationality and logic are scorned completely and the end result is some kind of victimization. We cannot escape completely the physical, material reality. Attempts to ignore it can be perilous indeed. With the Pluto/Neptune combination, the most common paths to being a victim for this combination involve some of kind of withdrawal from the world into a “reality” which is more appealing, attractive, “ideal.” This can be achieved through fantasy, drugs, daydreaming, sleeping a lot, reading fiction, TV or various forms of mental/emotional illness, e.g., possibly schizophrenia. The lure of inner space can be a seductive siren; one must balance that call with some practical grounding in the outer world.
If the idealization and search for higher meaning to which Neptune is a key become channeled into our intimate relationships, then the challenge involves realism where people are concerned. Dangers to side-step include turning partners into God (perfect, all- loving, all-giving, ideal), attracting partners who expect us to make everything beautiful for them, attracting partners who think they are ideal, marrying God (e.g., by going into the church) because no human being is perfect enough, avoiding relationships because no one measures up to our excessively idealistic standards and demanding a “made in heaven,” fairy tale relationship that will always flow smoothly. More helpful is to SHARE the Neptunian themes with a mate—both seeking more beauty, truth, understanding, empathy and love within the world and the relationship—neither one expecting the partner to provide everything for him/her.
Since these planets form a natural trine, there is much inherent harmony between them. Both tend to go inward first, seeking answers inside before—if ever—sharing them outside. Both are intuitive, needing more than logic and practicality. Both are naturally empathic, with a feeling connection to others. Their major differences are that Pluto denotes our quest for intimacy and a shared relationship in which to pursue self-mastery while Neptune represents our quest for Higher Meaning, for cosmic consciousness, for tuning into the Universe as a whole. With Pluto, we seek a union with a human mate. With Neptune, we seek a union with the Absolute.
If we set these qualities at odds with one another, we could feel that our need for beauty, religion, or inspiration in life takes us away from our mate (or vice versa). The spiritual could be set in conflict with the carnal and material. Understanding of self might compete with understanding of life in general. And yet, there is much complementarity here. Anything which increases our understanding and mastery of ourselves, also adds to our understanding of the universe and vice versa. Beauty, inspiration, intuition and empathy are useful tools in relationships as well as in spiritual quests.
Integration means we do not overdo the qualities Pluto and Neptune share—inwardness, sensitivity, secrecy, emotionality. It also means we are able to pursue human gratifications and satisfactions as well as cosmic meaning. It means we can express beauty on the mundane as well as the spiritual level. It means we can utilize our inner knowing and our Higher Self to enrich, enlighten and inspire our experience, deepening our intimate exchanges and uplifting our intuitive understanding of life.