calcination heartcurrentsPluto, planet of taxes, death, rebirth, resurrection and sex makes a habit of turning retrograde around tax day, as it will this year on April 16- September 25. In my personal and collective experience, we are not good with handling Pluto. It’s hard to face what no one wants to either do (die, pay taxes), talk about (death, sexual taboos) or own up to (desire for power, old traumas running our life). We’d rather… not. That’s part of the problem with Pluto. The other is that Pluto transits are frustratingly and agonisingly slow. Pluto is the furthest non-planet (since it’s untimely demotion) from us and thus by the time we’ve gone through the two and a half to three year process, we earthlings are plum tuckered out. So a level of frustration, fatigue & even flat out denial goes hand in hand with our experience of Pluto. During hard Pluto transits we are also often dealing with a lack of financial, emotional and spiritual resources. How to cope with the sheer intensity of this massive thrust for psychological honesty without cultural support beyond therapy, which many cannot even afford, staggers the mind — and contributes to the level of trauma, damage and violence in our world. I’m trying to be positive here, but frankly, Pluto doesn’t do Pollyanna positive. The stuff of Pluto is just difficult. There’s no getting around it.

In alchemy, Pluto is associated with the burning stage, calcinatio. Psychologically this is a state of frustrated rage and desire. There’s nothing like wanting something or someone you can’t have, really bad, to remind you that you’re a little tiny human being, just a speck of dust, really, floating around in space. Pluto is the planet over which we have the least control so represents those things in life over which we must allow to transmute, transform, die and eventually be reborn, or we our self risk death, becoming irrelevant, dying to a part of our self. Like the line in Star Trek, for Pluto “Resistance is futile”.

By the fires of our frustrated desire, Pluto burns off impurities and half-truths, dissolving them into ash, removing what keeps us from our self-essence. The process is intense. We need a container, a place to hold high levels of frustration as we process them. An art form, practice, therapist. It’s hard to deal with Pluto material directly; I’ve found that working with dream and subconscious imagery helps.

While not all of us are experiencing a Pluto transit right now, during station-retrograde he often makes an appearance in our lives, through dreams, interactions, events, meditative imaginings. Imagery of literal burning, or dreams of windstorms so strong the traffic lights bent as people tumbled by like tumble weeds are some I’ve experienced. Pluto isn’t comfortable with being revealed, so we may be ashamed or embarrassed to admit our secret desires, anger and hunger for power. At one Pluto station-retrograde, I had a dream I was in high school when finally, my elementary school crush kissed me, my name was in lights, and I was riding around on a nuclear missile, showing everyone my ‘power’. Embarrassing stuff to admit!