Let’s talk about Pluto, because well she’s a beautiful thing. And she is prominent right now, in conjunction with the Sun which is approaching the western horizon as I write this in Seattle. I have been quiet on this blog for a few months now. I went to Scotland to visit the Callanish standing stones, came back to Seattle and have been unable to write freely. So much I have held inside waiting for the right moment. This doesn’t feel far apart from Pluto’s territory.
Ren Corothers (of fox and fern healing arts) and I have been teaching a series of classes on Plant Spirit Medicine and Planetary Magic; last night was our Pluto class. At first when we invoked Pluto, we received images of release, fading vision, and the calm that comes from bleeding out under a bright winter sky. Yes these were images of death and decay. The words serenity and solace held us and we were safe to sink into the death realms of rest and emptiness. There came soon after a stirring; a chaotic force of energy in the body capable of removing any obstacle. There came an awareness of power; a destruction of apathy as one participant shared. In my vision I saw the Earth with cylinders of purple light coming from the Earth’s surface; it was people awakening. Pluto is a bodily understanding of power; a knowing. The plants who taught us last evening, Henbane and Ghost Pipe, said, “your power is here already.” There is much grief, loss and emptiness in Pluto’s field, but Ghost Pipe said, “why do you need something else? Stay here, by the ocean and grieve.” Both Henbane and Ghost Pipe helped me stay in the painful places, to find rest within them. When everything else fades away is when we are able to listen. Running from pain is running from power, and true power is quite gentle. Pluto is the deep sleep, that is necessary for us to awaken.
When we look at Pluto’s glyph we find a similar story. The base of the glyph is the cross of matter, symbolic of the material world and our physical incarnation in the universe. Held up the cross of matter is the crescent of Soul: the deeply personal world of emotions, memories, and individual stories. The crescent holds trauma and resilience, the memory of our ancestors, the story of our Soul. In Pluto, we find this crescent turned upward as if it is a container. And this conatiner holds the circle of Spirit. Yet, the spirit is floating. This Spirit is symbolic of the Sun’s energy which sustains life in this solar system. It is the center of all being, the Source of life, it is immortal and impersonal. And so in Pluto we find that out material lives, hold up our individual Souls; these Souls carry our stories, the stories of our families, traumas, victories; and these individual Souls turn upward and hold the immortal sustaining life force. Yet the immortal Spirit is floating, so perhaps it has come down from above to meet with us; to be held us; to be held by our stories. And so in Pluto we find the ability to hold the eternal through our personal experiences. And isn’t this what death brings? A great loss and a blow to hearts; but it brings us closer to our own callings, because we appreciate life more.
Pluto itself is not entirely dark. At the solstices, ¼ of Pluto’s surface is in continuous light, while ¼ is in continuous darkness. It’s surface is highly contrastive with tones from white to dark orange, to charcoal black. It is extreme by nature. We can also see in this in Pluto’s heart shaped ice fields. Half of the heart is clear and bright, the other half is decaying and has no clear edges. This is akin to the Norse underworld goddess Hella, whose face is half radiant sunshine and half decaying corpse. However, Pluto is not only Pluto, there is Charon who shares a barycenter with Pluto. Meaning the two of them orbit around an external center of gravity. Charon is the ferryman who brings the Souls to the underworld, and Pluto is the ruler, but they both orbit around a dark point. Perhaps, the act of journeying to the underworld is not to meet the lord of death: it is to meet the point of darkness. Mythically, the ferryman stands to the east, and the Lord of the Underworld stands to the west: in the center is the point of darkness. This point of darkness is this fertile void, mother night, the space of emptiness itself who is at the true center of death.
How much death do we see in this world? I recently witnessed a mother in her grief for the loss of a child, yet she was clear in her wish to share her story, to speak out to save lives from being unnecessarily lost. Can Pluto help us to sit with death; to close our eyes and be in the space of destruction and loss long enough for us to hear our Souls speak? What arises from the darkness has always called to humans; it is the unknown in our silence that holds the key to our own awakening. This is Pluto’s blessing.