“My eyes pierce space. I look for the wall of the sky and do not find it. And I am glad.”
One might say that the following meditation on the relationship between Saturn and Pluto — as illustrated by the sub-generation of the larger Pluto in Leo generation (1938-1958) during which these two planets were conjunct — an essay written almost exactly 30 years ago (one full Saturn cycle ago), is my personal testament to the mysterious magic (Pluto) of the universe, as ordered (Saturn) by human cognition and activity.
Retyping to share it here, I also recognize that I have been a permaculturist all this time! Even now, my soul resonates to the following quote from that long ago piece, written by a 44-year-old woman who I didn’t realize then, knew exactly what she was doing! So grateful to become newly acquainted with my younger self!
“This is perhaps the greatest task the human race faces today. How to create cultural forms which, rather than seeking to dominate nature, exist in symbiotic alliance with her, a part of the same stream, enhancing her life as overflowing and changing process.”
SATURN AND PLUTO IN LEO SUB-GENERATION: 1946-1948
by Ann Kreilkamp
Welcome to Planet Earth, Leo edition, 1987
Note: The Saturn/Pluto Sub-generation is a subset of the Pluto in Leo Generation (1938-1958).
It is high summer. Long, hot, lazy days. Saturday mornings, I do my chores. Clean out the refrigerator, empty the wastebaskets, vacuum. Then, freedom! Time for my secret ritual. I run outside.
Laying on my back, in the grass, on this sunny blue day. Taking time to quiet myself, to forget everything around me. Then, as if cracking a door into an exotic room, I open my eyes.
My eyes pierce space. Seeking a point of rest, they penetrate deeper and deeper into endless blue sky. The air is swirling with millions of tiny bright points. My eyes bore through, pushing them aside. I want, I dread — to reach the end, find a stopping point. The wall. The circumference of the sky. It must be there somewhere. If I can see far enough. But no, it never is.
I am glad.
As usual, that evening I gather my sleeping bag to sleep outside in the back yard, braving the earwigs. Cocooned on my back in the grass on this dark moonless night. My eyes zoom out, lighting on first one star then another, brilliant splash of winking lights. Coursing from one star point to another I lose track, fall into the darkness which holds them . . . Suddenly, with a jolt I “come to” . . . dizzy, my head swirling, stomach queasy.
I performed these rituals regularly as a child, by myself, or maybe with one other girl friend. There wasn’t much to say about them. They co-existed easily side by side with my chores and with other, more earthly forms of play. My behavior was not unusual. Many children flirt with infinity, enjoying the weird sensations in their bodies in as the universe swallows them.
We come to earth, as Wordsworth says, “trailing clouds of glory,” “knowing all and everything.” And in order to become “grown-ups” we learn how to forget. We forget what we have always known. (This is why Socrates described learning as remembering.) We become earth bound.
Culture, and our enculturation process, could be described as a progressive foreshortening and narrowing of vision, an arbitrary carving up of the vastness. Just learning how to speak ensures that. Each language cuts up the world in certain sorts of ways. Ignores the spaces between the lines of its design. Sooner or later, we believe it. We see only the lines. We seek only the forms of things.
By the time we are around 30 years old, the enculturation process is complete. The space/time framework within which everything takes place is now fixed, inside, forever. Or it should be, must be, if we are to link ourselves with others, whose vision is also narrowed, foreshortened.
Think of Saturn as that space/time framework, that carving up of the vastness. Saturn governs any process that directs us from the infinite to the finite, from indefinite to definite. Saturn is the illusion that what exists is limited to this three-dimensional reality, with its tables and chairs, its religions and notions of progress. As the planet of form, it represents our social conditioning, requiring and administering “correct” behavior, and ensuring unconscious agreement among those who speak the same language, who take the same things for granted, who see the world in the same sorts of ways.
Now think of the limitless space that lies beyond the orbit of Saturn — that reach into nothingness, into all and everything! Children love it; they twirl themselves round and round, losing direction, equilibrium, falling to the ground. They are gluttons for the whiplash and bottom-out-of-stomach effect of carnival rides. Unlike adults, they do not use their Saturns to try to stop the effect. They fall into it, become one with it, the vastness from which we all came and to which we shall, sooner or later, return. I speak here of the realm of the “outer” planets — Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
In contrast to Saturn’s role, which keeps our nose to the grindstone of three-dimensional space/time reality, the role of the outer planets is to open us up to what lies beyond it. They serve as messengers from the cosmos, encouraging both humanity and individuals to evolve beyond expectations, to expand awareness into realms that, as Paul Simon sings, are full of “miracle and wonder.”
In my last article, I considered the generation born between 1938 and 1958, who have Pluto in Leo. There, I argued that the evolutionary mission of this generation is personal empowerment, meaning that we are here to usher in a new order of vitality, or “aliveness” on this planet. In this article, I focus on the signature of one subgroup within this larger generation, those for whom this Plutonian energy is condensed to its most potent form: the individuals born between 1946 and 1948 who have Saturn conjunct Pluto in Leo.
Any aspect between Saturn and an outer planet signifies a need to real-ize that outer energy, to ground it, to manifest it here on earth. The most intense aspect between any two planets is the conjunction. Conjunctions between Saturn and Pluto occur every 35 years. Currently, there are three groups with Saturn/Pluto conjunctions alive. Besides Saturn/Pluto in Leo, the other two are those in Cancer, and those born between 1982 and 1983, most of whom have Saturn/Pluto in Libra.
Each of these groups can be considered a sub-generation within a larger one: Saturn/Pluto in Cancer — a subgroup of those with Pluto in Cancer, born between 1913 and 1939; Saturn/Pluto in Leo — a subgroup of those with Pluto in Leo, born between 1938 and 1958; and Saturn/Pluto in Libra — a subgroup of those with Pluto in Libra, born between 1971 and 1983. For each Saturn/Pluto group, both their characteristics and their life experiences are unusually intense, concentrated, and focused. Both who they are and what they do demonstrate the meaning of the evolutionary mission for the entire Pluto generation of which each subgroup is a part. In order to understand Pluto in Leo in its purest form then, look to those born with Saturn/Pluto in Leo, now, in 1987, 39 to 41 years old.
Saturn/Pluto in Leo
Saturn/Pluto in Leo people share a certain set of characteristics, to be expected from this particular combination. Foremost among them is a deep sense of their own specialness and creativity. When not accessed, this quality is masked by a sense of superiority or inferiority — or ambivalence, flipping back and forth between them. Saturn/Pluto in Leo people are so intense as to sometimes seem fanatic. They carry within them a profound inner resourcefulness, a deep pool of accumulated energy which can carry them through any emergency, no matter how difficult or prolonged. Their need for control is also profound, whether that be control over themselves or others. Some of them are dangerously dictatorial. And yet, that focused need for control, once turned inward, can save. If the final goal of an enlightened humanity is self-mastery, then Saturn/Pluto in Leo people can forge the way.
For the entire Pluto in Leo generation, the bottom line issue of our lives is personal empowerment. This is what we long for, the direction to which our evolution tends. For Saturn/Pluto in Leo people, however, such empowerment is utterly necessary. They must do this. Unless and until they do achieve it, they will not have overcome their greatest fear.
Wherever we have Saturn in our charts, by both side and house positions, is an area in our lives initially characterized by fear. Saturn, a planet that encourages discipline and long-range goals, is also then the very energy we need to overcome that original fear. Our achilles heel turns out to be our greatest gift. Those with Saturn in Leo fear developing their own autonomy, their own dramatic and self-expressive sense of personal command. This fear is precisely what they must overcome.
Because they fear it, they are even more likely than the rest of us Pluto in Leo people to push Pluto down into the unconscious, to deny their own personal power. They identify only with Saturn, and use it to wall off Pluto.
More rarely, they identify only with Pluto at the expense of Saturn. I think of criminals here, for whom Saturn is hated as the police; and I think of a friend of mine who has lived most of his life alone in forests and mountainous areas. Michael feels more comfortable with wild animals (Pluto) than he does his fellow socialized human beings (Saturn).
For the majority, who identify only with Saturn, the Pluto energy eventually gets projected onto the outside world, where they meet up with it, usually in the form of another person, or situation, or system, who/what, they think, is attempting to control or overpower them. In order to prevent this from happening, the Saturn/Pluto person tenses up, which often results in qualities of hypervigilance and rigidity, as he or she attempts to stave off what he otherwise feels would destroy him or her.
In order to feel safe, some of these people become utterly loners, closed systems, disallowing any real interchange with the outside world. Or, they assume an attitude of abject subservience, feeling powerless, persecuted, victimized. And such opposing reactions can, of course, co-exist within one individual. In our culture, the former reaction is more likely for males, the latter, for females.
How many Saturn/Pluto women do you know who have been beaten, robbed, raped, forced into utter submission (Pluto) by one man after another, whether they be bosses or lovers or fathers (Saturn)?
One Saturn/Pluto in Leo man I know has this conjunction directly atop his Ascendant. A loner and rock climber, Jerry is intense, wiry and driven to establish and maintain control over his body. He seems oblivious to those around him and unable to accept feedback from anyone.
I think of another man — he has the Sun in Leo sandwiched between Saturn and Pluto in the twelfth house. Bill sees the U.S. Government and its dominant traditions and institutions as a single sinister system, its tentacles poised to rob us of whatever personal freedoms remain. Staying behind the scenes, he tries not to draw attention to himself. Yet, unlike some who feel totally paralyzed by such a paranoid perception, Bill gets his kicks out of cheating the IRS in little tiny ways and then bragging about it to his friends (Sun in Leo!).
Alternatively, some Saturn/Pluto in Leo people are so afraid of their own Plutonian energy that they try to control everything around them. I think of a man who is married to a young powerful (Pluto) athlete, for whom he functions as both trainer and father figure (Saturn). This past winter, as transiting Pluto began to square his natal Saturn/Pluto, she decided she didn’t want to continue competitive athletics. Not surprisingly, given the way he had projected his Pluto energy onto her, her decision disturbed him greatly. This decision has inaugurated a power struggle between them.
Finally, I celebrate a female friend of mine, Jane, Sun in Taurus. A body worker, she stands centered, feet apart, planted firmly on the ground. She and I take a walk. On the way Jane talks about her process of healing from the ending of a relationship. “It was the first time in my life that I ever allowed myself to get close to someone, to become totally vulnerable,” she says. “And when it ended I went through hell.” Jane has Saturn/Pluto on the 7th house cusp of relationships, square Sun in Taurus. This relationship began as Saturn squared her original Saturn/Pluto and ended as Pluto began to square Saturn/Pluto. Gradually, over a period of a year, Jane has not only stopped blaming him (stopped projecting Pluto, her power, onto him), she has also begun to recognize her relationship with this man as having fit into a larger pattern of behavior which has been going on all her life. “I now attend Alanon, ACA meetings, and am in personal therapy,” she says. “I’m a completely addictive, ‘co-dependent’ person. All of my relationships over my whole life have been sick! And I’m determined to see my patterns completely, to root them out and start over, from scratch.” (Pluto as the energy of deep investigation of Saturn patterns.)
Jane is using that one-pointed focus of Saturn/Pluto, that total dedication and concentration of energy, to penetrate to the roots of her addictive tendencies, and thereby free herself of attitudes and behavioral patterns that have bound her for a lifetime. In doing so, she is personally enacting a cultural discovery process currently emerging which points to both the debilitating nature of addiction and the addictive symptoms of our entire society. (See, for example, Women Who Love Too Much, a best seller, and a more recent book, When Society Becomes An Addict.)
Those individuals, like Jane, who have Saturn/Pluto on angles of their charts, or in major aspect to Sun or Moon or other more personal planets, are often models for the rest of us Pluto in Leo people. Both the ways they go about empowering themselves and the issues they grapple with in this process are paradigmatic of a more general trend. I find it interesting that the focus on addiction is becoming so prevalent now, as Pluto moves through Scorpio, and squares Pluto in Leo. Each of us must learn to transcend our co-dependent patterns in relationship if we are to tap into our personal independence and creativity (Pluto in Leo). Only as we become creative as individuals can we go one step further, enhancing our lives through co-creative relationships (Pluto in Scorpio).
Between the years 1946 and 1948, Saturn and Pluto were conjunct between 6° and 15° of Leo. Pluto moved into 6° Scorpio in 1985, and will leave 15° Scorpio in the summer of 1990. During these five years Pluto will be squaring the original signature, activating the Saturn/Pluto energy. Whatever has long been dammed up or projected out must be reclaimed and transformed.
Each Saturn/Pluto in Leo individual has his or her own specific nature and set of circumstances to work with. The stories that these years will tell will be many and varied. Yet this activation has a general, universal meaning as well. The stories to come will be variations on a theme.
The Meanings of Saturn and Pluto
Saturn and Pluto have much in common. They are both planets of law. They both signify how things are governed and challenge us to accept a sense of responsibility, obedience to law. Moreover, both planets are apt to function, for those who are fearful, as walls shutting us off from the capacities they represent. Either Saturn or Pluto or both can be implicated in cases of clinical depression, where energy turns inward, runs against the self. Either or both planets can be involved when people feel “stuck,” “blocked,” deadened,” “numb.”
More than other planets, these two feel “heavy,” we might say, “karmic”: they unearth the old into present time — and force us to consciously incorporate it into the way we are living our lives. Both original placements of Saturn and Pluto, and the transits of them to placements in our original birthcharts, signify serious business. By compelling compliance, they teach us the virtue of necessity, and built character. As a result, both Saturn and Pluto can, paradoxically, induce feelings of security, safety, as we bring our actions into conformance with their laws.
The distinction between Saturn and Pluto can be described in terms of the dimensions they occupy. Saturn governs social-cultural laws. Pluto is concerned with nature and her laws. Saturn brings us into compliance with the rules and roles and regulations of human communities, which vary, both historically and geographically. Pluto brings us into compliance with a deeper set of laws, those governing the order of things, the way the universe, as a whole, works.
We can sense the contrast between these two energies when we reflect on the lengths of their cycles. Saturn takes 30 years to carve out its own space once; Pluto takes 250 years. Since Saturn is an energy which we can fully undergo, and therefore see/feel as a whole, we can begin to understand and work with it in a coherent manner. Pluto’s cycle, on the other hand, is so long that we don’t ever understand it. We can’t live long enough to learn how to control or predict how it works; therefore, we must adopt an entirely other kind of attitude when faced with this mysterious and uncanny energy.
Saturn teaches us to be left-brained. We project, plan, map, create an abstract conceptual model of the outer world in our heads and then act in accordance with that model. The Saturn-dominated person feels safe because he can see into the future, and the future is what he has determined it will be. He knows his paycheck will arrive every two weeks, on schedule. He has surrounded himself with life insurance and medical insurance, and stocks and bonds, and perhaps is training someone to succeed him in business. His safety mechanisms are in place; if anything does “happen to him,” he can still control the consequences.
The safety which a Plutonian person feels is of an entirely other order. Pluto requires us to be whole-brained. We use our whole brain and body to intuitively and sensitively attune ourselves, acting precisely in accordance with specific circumstances of each moment as it comes. We surrender, allowing the situation, and us within it, to unfold. Plutonian security consists in acting in accordance with one’s own authentic nature, as it naturally harmonizes with the whole of nature. By following our natures, nature takes care of us. Regular paychecks and insurance policies may no longer be necessary; they serve a smaller order than the one to which we are now attuning. We will be taken care of; as mother nature is our mother, our womb, our nest. We will be taken care of, and we have no idea how. What happens next is up to the gods, the larger order, to which we are now surrendered.
Saturn represents science, that realm we have managed to understand, i.e., to make predictable. Pluto represents the larger nature which eludes science’s efforts to completely contain it, control it, make it work according to plan. Saturn is organization; Pluto is organism. Saturn, and science, require objectivity; the me/not me distinction. Pluto, and the natural self, require an attitude of attention/participation. We are at once whole within ourselves, individuals acting with integrity, creative; and we are a part of a larger whole, with which we are integrated, in communion.
Since the 17th century, science and the culture of science have presumed, in principle, to be able to dominate Pluto with Saturn, by describing the world in all its detail, from beginning to end, in both space and time. As if the smaller cycle could encompass the larger one! This pretension was somewhat relativized by the overthrow of Newtonian physics, but the impulse that inspired it lives on.
Saturn, as currently practiced by the dominant majority, symbolizes the crystallized rigidity of a world still dominated by the masculine principle. Objectivity was valuable in countering the muddled and morbid mysticism of the dark and middle ages; it has now outlived its usefulness.
Pluto, on the other hand, is profoundly androgynous, seeking to first polarize, and then fuse, dualities. Pluto symbolizes the deep male and the deep female and the alchemical union between them. It is a profound biological/spiritual urge that pulses on underneath any of the cultural forms we attempt to pour our deep selves into, and thereby contain ourselves, limit ourselves to this or that.
Saturn is the need to see and give form or pattern to our ever-flowing experience; to lock it in place. Pluto is dynamic. Natural law is dynamic, four-dimensional, space and time together: process.
Saturn is what we take for granted, our “assumptions,” our limits, the ways we seek to circumscribe an essentially limitless reality. Pluto is the energy which drives us to investigate, destroy, and regenerate, both those forms and our ways of relating to them.
Saturn/Pluto in Leo: The Challenge
Any Saturn/Pluto combination, especially the conjunction, offers the challenges of fusing Saturn and Pluto so that they work together. This is perhaps the hardest task that the human race faces today. How to create cultural forms which, rather than seeking to dominate nature, exist in symbiotic relation with her, a part of the same stream, enhancing her life as overflowing and changing process. How to unite the urge for form and pattern with the deep appreciation and participation with mystery, that which lies beyond all form. How to fuse the habits of detached objective identification, classification and analysis so long fostered by science with a more unitive feeling for the whole, the flux of things, the God and Goddess within.
And urgently, now, as Pluto moves through Scorpio: how to create healing forms of ritual and ceremony which can enable us to tap into the long buried accumulation of Plutonian emotion, the stifled creativity of our forefathers and foremothers, and allow those powerful energies emerging from our collective unconscious to enact themselves in an ordered way, one which does not destroy, but rather, unburdens, and ultimately, enlivens.
In these dying days of the godless mechanical industrial age, and deeper, into the emasculated Christian God of the Age of Pisces, we create sacred rituals and ceremonies to resurrect life on earth.
The Delphic Oracle inscribed above the doorway to Jung’s home announced: “Vocatus atque non vocatus Deus aderit”: “Called, or uncalled, God is present.” Pluto is a God, the deep He/She is always present in each of us. The sacred runs through us; it is a glorious pervasive force, hidden, as air is hidden. As we breathe air in and out, our lungs and trachea serving as saturnine forms, channels for the passage of this most magical stuff, so do we breath the sacred, in and out, always in every way, we cannot avoid that which sustains our life.
With Pluto in Scorpio we have to make a choice: either we learn how to truly “enact” the emergent unconscious Plutonian energies, and thus incorporate them consciously, breaking old patterns of thought and behavior, freeing ourselves from the past: transformation. Or we continue to “act them out,” as in history: the constant, escalating, more and more dangerous repetition of man’s inhumanity to man.
In this choice, the way we use the energy of Saturn is crucial. Will it serve as a wall, denying Plutonian energy to the point where it accumulates and explodes, destroying us all? Or will it serves as a channel, through which that energy can pour, renewing life on earth?
My eyes pierce space. I look for the wall of the sky and do not find it. And I am glad. “God is an intelligible sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” St Bonaventure, 18th century.