Sunday, October 29, 2023

Eclipsed and adrift in the shadow lands: Pluto’s heavy influence during volatile times


“THIS will be the second time, then, in the span of one human life that we shall have known War....Is it not the same Great War that is still raging, the same single process: a world being re-cast—or disintegrating? In 1918 it seemed all over and done with, and now it is beginning all over again.”--Pierre Teilhard de Chardin [1] 


Teilhard De Chardin, one of the 20th century’s most brilliant philosophical and spiritual minds, was probably aware of astrological principles, but with or without them, he clearly intuited what was going on in the Cosmos in the intense days bridging the two wars, days marked by a devastating global H1N1 Flu pandemic and a gripping economic depression that spawned great social unrest and the rise of extremist and nationalist movements on both the political left and right. In the process of “re-casting” the world order—left unfinished by WWI—humanity was caught in a deadly, disintegrative spiral, indeed.  

Chardin would go on to characterize this inexorable process as the product of a “vast determinism.” An insightful description, if we consider that icy, remote Pluto had only recently been discovered, on February 18, 1930, at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.  

And, as we can trace both historically and currently, Pluto’s deterministic force—by analogy with its element, plutonium, akin to a radioactive decay process—gradually overcomes its targets with repeated waves of relentless breakdown. History seems to suggest that major geopolitical paradigm and power shifts unfold to the gradual rhythms of these repeated waves. Both external and internal divisions can play a significant role here: when geopolitical relationships and the nation states (or civilizations) that depend upon them hit a divisive wall, those entities risk decay. Toxic Pluto excels at “divide and conquer.”  

With Pluto we’re talking about the long arc of history and its significant inflection points. Pluto never operates in a vacuum, of course, but its energies seem to provide the “loom” of Power, if you will, upon which civilizations are woven. The long birth-death-transformation process characteristic of Pluto's world-weaving enterprise is deepened, intensified and prolonged by the drawn-out rhythms of direct and retrograde “shuttle” moves and by the complications created by sign changes and pre-retrograde and post-retrograde shadow periods. The forces of Creation and Destruction work in tandem throughout this process.  

So, with Pluto, worlds are woven and, over long stretches of time, they are unraveled into “threads” for  new weavings and new worlds. Some nations (e.g., Europe’s entire Eastern bloc) crumbled when the world order shifted after WWII; other nations, like Israel, were created. The process was controversial and far from painless—some regions had to be disentangled from various colonial “masters,” but in the end, it all underscored why Pluto also rules the long process of evolution. Empires and civilizations tend to span multiple Pluto cycles, but even the most robust, significant ones eventually decline and die, emerging in new forms if they continue at allGeopolitical entities adapt for the sake of survival, just as biological organisms do.  

When civilizations or nations unravel, however, the process often (if not always) involves war and conflict and periods of great trauma. Plutonian to their core, wars draw out the worst and the best in us, from the deeply repressed phobias and the “shoot first, ask questions later” contents of our collective unconscious to our most fervent, spiritual ideals of heroism and human dignity. Pluto’s “vast determinism” holds our feet to the fire, testing the depths of our commitment (both individually and collectively) not just to survival, but to Life itself, in all its light and dark dimensions. Pluto takes no prisoners and suffers no fools.   



History speaks 

History suggests, as noted, that Pluto’s sign transitions can mark especially fraught times, a tendency that seems especially true for transitions between cardinal and fixed signsCase in point, World Wars I and II unfolded during the final years of Pluto’s stay in cardinal Cancer and its first years in fixed Leo. Pluto first entered “strongman” Leo on October 7, 1937, aptly reflecting the authoritarian wave that hit the world during that era.  

As always happens with these ingresses, Pluto took a few baby steps into Leo and then engaged in a long series of retrograde/direct passages that took it back into Cancer for long stretches. Its return to Leo for the duration wouldn’t happen until June 14, 1939, just months before Hitler’s forces invaded Poland and WWII was on in Europe.  

Importantly, on September 1, 1939, when the tanks rolled into Poland, Pluto was fully committed to Leo and was less than one degree out of its final post-retrograde shadow period involving Cancer. The significance of that period for today’s crisis-driven world can’t be overstated: the world wars in Europe were the “cauldron” out of which the Israeli state emerged in 1948, in hopes of securing a homeland sanctuary for Jews fleeing the nightmarish horrors of the Holocaust and other annihilation-threatening situations. The U.S. was the first nation to recognize the newly formed state, while major powers in the Middle East at the time immediately attacked and vowed never to recognize Israel. Divide and conquer!  

No surprise, Israel’s Gemini Uranus conjoins U.S. Sibly Mars, so yes, we’ve been there to assist with their defense from the very start and that’s not likely to change.  The U.S.-Israel relationship and America’s entanglement in that region is a long, convoluted story, often centered around the fraught Israel-Palestine peace process, but the bottom line is clear: as a state, Israel has lived with the constant threat of annihilation, being “born” on May 14, 1948, with Saturn conjunct Pluto in Leo and with its Mars/Pluto (midpoint, Leo) tightly square Scorpio Chiron.  Tucked inside an exceedingly hostile geopolitical neighborhood, Israel has at least been able to count on its dignified Sagittarius Jupiter Rx-Gemini Uranus opposition for competent defense—until that vigilance lapsed so tragically this past October 7th.  

The news on May 14, 1948
This makes the Jupiter-Uranus cycle an important one to watch for Israel’s well-being, which suggests to me that the waning balsamic condition (both planets are in Taurus) of the current 2010 cycle had something to do with the defense lapses. Looking ahead, however, it could be that with a new Jupiter-Uranus cycle launching this coming April 21, 2024 (set for Tel Aviv), conjunct Israel’s Taurus Sun and 8th house cusp (see Triwheel 1), with transiting Chiron conjunct its Aries 7th house cusp and DSC, that the current conflict will reach some kind of major threshold.  

Transiting Pluto—out of shadow and moving direct in Aquarius at that time—will fall opposite Israel’s radix Leo Moon across its 4th-10th axis and will t-square the April 21st Taurus Sun.  Considering a powerful solar eclipse that will overlay Israel’s radix horizon (Aries DSC) will have happened just weeks before that Jupiter-Uranus cycle launch (middle wheel, Triwheel 1), this April period appears extremely significant, geopolitically.   


Triwheel 1. (inner wheel) State of Israel (radix), May 14, 1948, 4:00 p.m. ST, Tel Aviv, Israel. Source: Nicholas Campion, Book of World Horoscopes, Chart #163, p. 167; (middle wheel) Total Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, 9:20:37 p.m. DST, Tel Aviv, Israel; (outer wheel) Jupiter-0-Uranus 2024, April 21, 2024, 4:54:13 a.m. DST, Tel Aviv, Israel. All charts cast with Kepler 8.0, with Tropical Equal Houses and True Node.  



Let’s focus in on the inner and middle wheels here for a moment to consider the upcoming eclipse’s potential impacts on Israel’s radix chart (inner wheel). For starters, the 19°+Aries eclipse point (Sun-Moon conjunction) exactly conjoins Chiron (Aries) and more widely conjoins the No. Node, all falling over Israel’s radix 6th house of military and other public service. Indeed, the eclipse chart places tremendous pressure on Israel’s 6th and 7th houses, both houses we would expect to be lit up during war times.  

Children have carried the trauma of wars in the Middle East for generations
Tightly entwined with these already volatile eclipse energies, this Aries Chiron points to the enduring existential wounds that defy healing in the Middle East region, for Israel and for other ancient peoples who call that region home. There is no “cure,” so to speak, for what ails that region—the tragedy is, innocent lives are routinely caught in the morass of unresolved enmities and clashing tribalist ideologies.  

As alluded to earlier, however, at the root of the current tragedies unfolding in Gaza it seems there is the primal Wound that Jews have suffered, being the unwelcome and homeless scapegoats of human history for far too long. It seems non-Jewish humanity has never quite overcome its deeply Plutonian compulsion to annihilate the Jewish people, as if that will somehow make the rest of us whole. Anti-semitic messaging and threats and violence have risen exponentially since Hamas committed shocking atrocities against roughly 1,400 Jewish civilians in Israel this past October 7th, and Jews everywhere have had to witness people celebrating their pain and horror instead of reacting more humanely.  

Where does this hatred and venom come from, if not Pluto’s Rabbi Sharon Brous put it,our human ask is that people care when we die.” I have to believe our human hearts can stretch around the pain and grief of all who suffer in that region—and I’m grateful that Biden has adopted that posture as U.S. leader. We need voices of reason and compassion in that region.  

Bottom line, neither the Palestinian people nor the Israelis deserve anything less than justice and humanity: the problem here is the terrorism—Pluto's shadowlands at their worst—which can’t be allowed to remain embedded in a netherworld of tunnels and arsenals beneath the Palestinians’ feet. Now that Hamas has unleashed their worst on the Israeli people, can we really blame Israel for responding? Both peoples deserve better.  

Notice that Israel’s radix Saturn and Pluto are conjoined (the 1947 cycle being just months old in 1948 and in self-focused Leo), and that this duo falls t-square Israel’s staunch radix Taurus-Scorpio Nodal axis and (very widely) radix Chiron (Scorpio). The deep trauma of ancestral wounds can’t help but surface and call out for action with this Aries eclipse-Chiron conjunction falling so tightly inconjunct Israel’s radix Scorpio Chiron.  

The urgency of all this will be reinforced and intensified (and quite possibly militarized) when, later that April, the Jupiter-Uranus near-conjunction in the middle wheel becomes the exact Jupiter-Uranus opposition to that same radix Chiron. It also can’t help but be significant for Israel that this new Jupiter-Uranus cycle perfects a mere two degrees from its radix Taurus Sun, trine its radix MC (Capricorn) and square its radix Saturn and Mars (Leo).  

Clearly, Israel will continue feeling existentially threatened and will continue to rely on its military might to address all threats. Jupiter-Uranus together tend to present opportunities for technological innovation, and it’s likely that, however Israel’s military campaigns evolve, they will involve cutting edge technologies and weaponry.  

To what extent will the U.S. become involved as this conflict unfurls? We’re already providing various types of assistance, including weaponry. The balancing act here for our U.S. diplomats and leadership is a precarious one: assist Israel as the staunch ally we’ve been from day one but work like crazy to contain any spread of the conflict. Unfortunately, the militant Aries eclipse of April 8, 2024, cutting a wide swath across the U.S. during its totality, supports the possibility of a conflict that spreads like wildfire--at its worst becoming a proxy war between the U.S. and major Middle East powers like Iran. The Saturn-Pluto cycle that perfected in January, 2020 at 22°+Capricorn, is still in New phase, so the initiation of a conflict that could reconfigure an entire region is horribly imaginable. 

Given its origins in 1948, just months after the powerful Leo Saturn-Pluto conjunction in August, 1947, it’s not surprising that the Jewish people’s ancestral wounds—so tragically heightened by the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe—seem to have permeated Israeli consciousness with fixed Saturn-Pluto determination, a firm sense of a shared and intensely defensive collective identity and the Will to survive. Saturn rules Israel's radix 4th—survival has meant building strong government institutions and a social order that defends their interests at all costs.  

So, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us, given Israel’s radix Saturn-Pluto conjunction, that the state of Israel armed itself with nuclear weapons less than twenty years after its founding.  

This unequivocal commitment to protecting (and at times expanding—notice radix Jupiter opposes Uranus across the Sagittarius-Gemini axis) the homeland they’ve carved out for themselves since WWII has, unfortunately, made for difficult geopolitical and regional relations, and the U.S. has been called upon to help with their security needs from day one. Israel’s radix Venus rules radix Sun (Taurus) and their chart’s Libra ASC, opposes radix Part of Fortune (Capricorn), and this axis widely t-squares radix Neptune Rx (Libra): this reinforces that self-preservation as a nation and People is the ultimate Israeli ideal. 

Pres. Truman (l.), Israeli PM David Ben-Gurion (r.) and diplomat Abba Eban in May, 1951. 

The U.S. role 

The U.S. is heavily implicated in all this, of course: that same Jupiter-Uranus cycle launch (set for Washington, D.C., for next April 20th) will fall in the Sibly 6th (military service) and that fiery Chiron will be making its exact return to Sibly Chiron (Sibly 5th), stimulating this nation’s deep woundedness over its long karmic legacy of race and class—the divisions that have wracked America’s “children” (Sibly 5th) since day one.  

The April 8th eclipse (set for Wash., D.C.) will exactly conjoin transiting Chiron (Aries) and will serve to “warm up” that degree ahead of the Jupiter-Uranus launch later that monthTransiting and Sibly Chiron and all these volatile feeling Aries points will widely square Sibly Pluto (Triwheel 2). Much more could be said about this regarding the U.S.—see here and here for other posts that have touched upon all this. 

Triwheel 2. (inner wheel) U.S. (Sibly) chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA.; (middle wheel) Total Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, 2:20:37 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) Jupiter-0-Uranus 2024, April 20, 2024, 9:54:13 a.m. DST, Washington, D.C.  



That Aries gathering in the middle wheel here (No. Node-Eclipse point and Chiron) also falls opposite Sibly Saturn, so suggesting aggression and potential violence against Congress and other government institutions. Perhaps this will reflect the tone of our new Speaker of the House’s leadership? There’s no doubt the MAGA crowd has gained a foothold in Congress lately, so there’s a lot of “buzz” in political circles about the impact this is likely to have on Election 2024. Will our democracy survive a far-right Speaker of the House who had a hand in the Jan. 6th assault on the Capital and voted against certifying the 2020 election, is outspokenly anti-LGBTQ+, wants a national abortion ban and “Don’t say gay” bill, doubts climate science and wants to make serious cuts to Medicare and Medicaid?  

Newly-elected Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson.
When push comes to shove in the House (and it will), can we count on Speaker Mike Johnson to work across the aisle, or will he choose to adopt an attack mode to get what he and his fellow extremists want?  It's too early to judge, but I fear this potent mid-Aries eclipse may unleash even more dysfunction and aggression against “regular order” in the House.  

As for the new Jupiter-Uranus cycle kicking off in Taurus, notice that it falls over the Sibly 6th house of public and military service and that it forms the third point of an interchart Earth grand trine with Sibly Neptune (Virgo) and Sibly Pluto Rx (Capricorn). Bisecting that grand trine between Jupiter-Uranus (outer wheel) and Sibly Neptune is the Sibly Mercury-Pluto opposition (Cancer-Capricorn), which turns the grand trine into an even more complex kite configuration. There’s a sense here that massive material resources, either generated by or related somehow to technological innovations will flow easily into supporting the agendas and messaging of the corporate world. Most likely a boon to the big “E” American economy. This could portend a lucrative heyday for the U.S. defense industry—a wartime economy, in other words. Or, more hopefully, something less war-related: humanity needs innovative technologies to solve all of its gnarly problems at the moment.  

Emerging technologies in times of war have brought us some of Pluto’s most dreadful offspring yet, of course, including genocide by atomic/nuclear warfare. Most devastatingly wielded by the U.S. in Hiroshima in August 1945 to bring Japan to its knees, that bombing featured a Leo Sun-Pluto conjunction, with Pluto in post-Rx shadowI pray we won’t need to relearn the lessons of those horrific times, but there are troubling signs of impending destruction today that we ignore at our peril. Signs that technologies could once again take us to irredeemably dark places; that crises can be manufactured and manipulated for all the wrong reasons; that extremist forces wield far too much power in politics today and are determined to tear down essential government institutions simply because they can. A sane nuclear arms regime requires strong, resilient institutions and the most responsible leadership available.  

Facilitating transitions 

We've discussed that the horrors of WWII were carried out during Pluto’s long transition between Cancer and Pluto, but significant Pluto sign transitions aren’t limited to those between cardinal and fixed signs. Relevant today in hindsight, the 1973 Yom Kippur war was an important “coming of age” crisis for Israel in the Middle East, and it transpired with Pluto about a year into being fully committed to leaving Virgo and continuing in Libra; happily, this crisis helped to initiate early Israel-Palestine peace processes, but it far from accomplished its aim. Even so, its event chart featured several factors that enabled Pluto’s geopolitical machinations: Pluto fell in waning square to Cancer Saturn, in a waxing trine to Aquarius Jupiter and a waxing sextile to Sagittarius Neptune. Against the ideological backdrop of their shared religious ideals and heritage, Israel was challenged to apply advanced technologies to their quest for security and prosperity.  

Not one to be left out—and a good reminder that cycle relationships are in play whether a traditional aspect exists or not—Uranus and Pluto were both in Libra and still in the early days of their 1965 cycle’s New phase when this 1973 war broke out. Clearly, that crisis seeded the Middle East “ground” for the potentially more volatile chapters we are witnessing now. 



Flashing forward 

One chilling parallel between that fateful August day in Hiroshima and the explosive situation caused by Hamas’s attack on Israel this past October 7 is that the Hamas attack happened just before Pluto stationed and turned direct (exact on October 12th), thus entering its current post-retrograde shadow phase.  

All of this transpired with Pluto in late Capricorn, inching its way forward towards a second of its three curtain calls in electric Aquarius, a re-entry that will happen on January 20, 2024, during the last month of Pluto’s current post-retrograde shadow (10/12/2023-2/1/2024)--so, likely to mark a period of barely repressed volatility. As in 1937, the Sun and Pluto will also be conjunct on January 20, 2024, only this time within 27 minutes of arc (cazimi) and in Aquarius. This conjunction will square Taurus Jupiter; Jupiter will be in mutual reception with late Sagittarius Venus, which will fall conjunct and benefit Israel’s radix Jupiter. This mixture of factors suggests possibilities for diplomatic progress, yet the potential for manufactured or opportunistic “shock offensives” remains 

Reinforcing the latter possibility is the fact that the 1/20/2024 Aquarius Sun-Pluto conjunction is disposed by a powerful fixed Taurus Uranus, sitting inconjunct both ends of the Aries-Libra Nodal axis (forming 30/150 degree aspects) and reflecting the incoherence and volatility of these times. When Hamas attacked Israel this past October 7th (Biwheel 1, below) in a chart cast for Tel Aviv, Israel, Pluto was still transiting retrograde (it turned Rx last May) over Israel’s radix 4th house, opposite Israel’s radix Cancer MC and grand square the transiting Nodal axis (Aries-Libra), with No. Node tightly conjunct disruptive Eris (Aries).  


Biwheel 1. (inner wheel) State of Israel, May 14, 1948, 4:00 p.m. ST, Tel Aviv, Israel. Source: Nicholas Campion, Book of World Horoscopes, Chart #163, p. 167; (outer wheel) Hamas attacks Israel, October 7, 2023, 6:30 a.m. DST, Tel Aviv, Israel. Source: news of the day. 


We discussed this biwheel in much more detail here, in the last post, but suffice to say here that the transiting Nodes and Eris (Aries-Libra) fell almost exactly across Israel’s radix Libra-Aries horizon. The existential threats to Israel from Hamas terrorists and whichever powers in the Middle East region are supporting Hamas’s efforts undoubtedly feel all too real.


The plot thickens 

The plot gets exponentially thicker here: as I write this, Pluto is not only completing its Capricorn-Aquarius sign transition and navigating a post-retrograde shadow period, but it is also finishing out its long, lingering return process to Sibly Pluto (27° Cap 33’) and has been doing so in a wide t-square to the transiting Aries-Libra Nodal axis (Triwheel 2). The chances that the U.S. can stay out of this unfolding geopolitical drama of our times are probably pretty slim.  

So far, the Biden administration’s diplomatic efforts have sought to strike a balance between supporting Israel, but also encouraging Israeli leaders to exercise restraint in its attacks against Hamas on Palestinian territory. That approach has probably slowed down Israel’s timeline for a ground invasion against Hamas, which does, as I write this, seem to be getting underway. According to breaking news: 

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that the second stage of the war against Hamas has begun, with the goal of destroying the group's armed wing and government, and returning hostages held in Gaza home. 

‘Our heroic fighters have one goal: To destroy this enemy and to make sure the existence of our country. Never again. 'Never again,' is now,’ Netanyahu said during a news conference Saturday. 

On hostages: Netanyahu also confirmed he spoke with the family of hostages held by Hamas and vowed to them that he would exhaust all options to return their loved ones. 

During the same media briefing, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the intensifying assault will increase the chances Hamas will return hostages it is holding in Gaza. 

‘As we hit the enemy harder, there's a better chance that the enemy will agree to solutions to return the loved ones,’ Gallant said.  

The expansion of ground operations has alarmed families of hostages, with an advocacy group saying Saturday that loved ones face ‘absolute uncertainty regarding the fate of the hostages held (in Gaza), who were also subject to the heavy bombings.’" 

Considering Pluto’s complicated comings and goings in the days ahead (among other factors), it’s no wonder the “fog of war” has already overtaken the hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Mars wages so-called conventional wars that at least somewhat follow the rules of engagement; wars that pit conventional military might on one side against terrorist networks supported by shadowy financiers (state-supported or not) on the other side, answer more to Pluto.   

In a perfect world, it would be a straightforward task to separate out innocent Palestinian civilians from the terrorists who use them so callously. Yet, the vast shadowlands in which we find ourselves adrift these days are far from ideal, and Life can be made so very, very cheap 

Hopefully, significant progress can be made before Pluto fully commits to Aquarius in November 2024 because yes, our next presidential election will happen during Pluto’s final 21st century post-retrograde shadow period involving Capricorn. Its importance, in my view, cannot be overstated. 


[1] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Activation of Energy: Enlightening Reflections on Spiritual Energy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Kindle Edition, p. 13. 


Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and retired educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, U.S. history, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Her articles on these topics have appeared in several key astrology journals over the years, including most recently, the TMA blog. For information about individual chart readings, contact:  

© Raye Robertson 2023. All rights reserved.