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The Significance of These Times
by Maya del Mar

Pluto is Cathartic

Rage, grief and fear sweep the land. And shock—how could this happen to us? And uncertainty—what will happen tomorrow? The nation has suddenly become vulnerable—and it is only then that we are open to change.

To those of us who have had major transits of that powerhouse planet, Pluto, encouraging upheaval in our psyches, these feelings are familiar. Our very identity feels threatened—and the old identity is, in fact, being destroyed at the core. We feel like nothing is left. It’s like being a great black abyss with destruction of all we know, or thought we knew, swirling around us.

I remember one day, only 13 years ago, when I heard my precious daughter being verbally abused by her boyfriend. Suddenly my eyes were opened. It hit me how awful this was, and even more, how I had raised her with such an example. Suddenly I realized the extent to which I had played victim with my husband, and I was completely devastated. I had never seen this in myself, and having this awareness come so suddenly nearly destroyed me. So THIS was what I had taught my children? The saintly mother suddenly evaporated, and all I saw was this monster who had taught her children to be victimized.

It took me a year of concentrated self-therapy, psychotherapy, and 12-step programs for me to rebuild this gaping hole I had become to the point where I could function again, and another year before the new me, more human and stronger than before, was confident and coping. In the meantime I was healing a broken left foot, symbolic on many levels.

This is Pluto. It can tear your carefully built world apart. It releases ancient, powerful subconscious forces, and you are forced to look at deep drives which you have been able to wall off from consciousness—and which therefore run you, unseen by you but experienced by others.

Consciousness is horrified when these ugly "secrets" become exposed. However, once these subconscious drives are released, and you have learned to face them, you can integrate them into consciousness, where they no longer control you. In becoming whole, you become much stronger than you were before. There is no longer anything to fear, for your worst secrets have been exposed and integrated. "Heal" means to become whole, and you have accomplished a huge healing.

This is Pluto, the energy of birth and death, death and birth, the greatest power and the greatest healer, the Lord of Evolution.

Pluto was squaring my Sun, home of the ego, during the two years of my descent to the depths and the slow rebuilding of a new me. Many of you have experienced such a process. We tend to feel super-despairing as Pluto destroys our false idealizations of self. It takes us time to regroup, and to rebuild our self-esteem on a more realistic basis. Good help and support is invaluable.

I advise my clients to seek psychotherapy when undergoing a heavy Pluto transit, for one of Pluto’s favorite activities is to delve into subconscious drives and sort them out. This kind of detective work is one of Pluto’s great healing tools.

For a nation this means studying history, getting information, thinking, and putting two and two together. Jupiter retrograde for the coming winter is an excellent time to both delve deeply, and to re-evaluate the nation’s posture.

Pluto Transits the U.S. Ascendant

Pluto is slow. It takes 250 years to circle a chart. For the first time in the nation’s history, Pluto is now passing over the U.S. Ascendant, the most personal place in the chart. (Sibly chart, 7-4-1776, 5:10 p.m., Philadelphia, PA.)

A country is an organism, like a person. We are each cells in our nation, just as each of us has cells in our body. Energy in a nation acts similarly to energy in a person, except that it is magnified in intensity and becomes a longer process. When a person is threatened, fear spreads throughout the cells, and they mobilize for defense. When a nation is attacked, fear arises in everyone, and the nation mobilizes for defense.

Pluto transits often feel like attack, for a big part of Pluto’s job is to clear out the dead wood and make way for the new growth. If Pluto is making an opposition, as it is now to Saturn, the explosive catalyst does indeed come as an attack from outside. But it is our Pluto. Pluto is on our ascendant, and it is us that must come to terms with it. We all carry around heavy baggage which prevents us from acting with maximum effectiveness. So does a nation. Thank god for Pluto, both destroyer and midwife.

We created that baggage for what we thought was a good reason. It once served us well. And most of us resist letting go. We need patient support, hand-holding, and guidance as we come to learn that there is safety beyond our complexes—which ultimately are illusions.

Our old consciousness of ourselves as an invincible nation has been ripped apart. I have been calling the U.S. the Titanic for the last several years—and now the Titanic has hit an iceberg. We are still in the phase of initial shock and fear. But if we do not quickly figure out what WE are doing wrong—not the icebergs—we will hit more of them.

Work heals. When we concentrate on looking at what is wrong and what we can do to solve those problems, and to change our outlook, helplessness, fear, and despair are lightened. We regain some of our feelings of control, and self-empowerment begins.

There are, in fact, millions of things we can do to improve our modus operandi. And each person, each cell, can have a share in some part of it.

Pluto Is Now in Sagittarius

Wherever Pluto travels, it brings upheaval and change in its wake—as well as strong new growth. It travels through each sign for an average of 21 years, but its orbit is highly elliptical, and the length of time in a sign varies. Pluto entered Sagittarius in 1995, and will leave in 2008. On the day it first entered Sag, Jan. 17, 1995, GW Bush was inaugurated as Governor of Texas.

He is an appropriate leader for the needed Sagittarius transformation. So is Osama bin Laden. In their family histories, their willfulness, their determination, and their self-righteous outlooks, they are in fact twins in many ways. (Saturn, now opposing Pluto, is in the sign of Gemini, the sign of Twins.)

Sagittarius is the sign of religions—religions in the form of a body of doctrine and prescribed rituals. Sagittarius embraces a moral code, a system of beliefs, and preaches it. Some Sagittarian archetypes are the missionary, the Boy Scout leader, and the activist.

One of the Sagittarius problems is feeling they have a unique grip on truth, the "right" religion or the "right" philosophy. We all know that religions and adherents of bodies of belief have done much damage to others by trampling over their rights in the name of righteousness.

The U.S., in fact, needs to look squarely at the fact that it was built by killing off the American Indians in the name of "freedom," and by slave labor in the name of economic laisez faire, now called "free trade." Those are still the two basic beliefs which run this nation. And we are still perpetuating their downside. Can we change? Of course. But the momentum of the old system needs to be halted. Pluto will do this, and is doing it.

Sagittarius is also about expanding. It rules balloons. The U.S. doctrine of "Manifest Destiny" embodies this expansion, as well as a belief system to back it up. The U.S. military now has 19 major bases, 60 minor ones, and Navy ships in every sea, all over the world. U.S. based corporations have huge worldwide interests.

Again, people’s rights get trampled. Not out of maliciousness, but as Sagittarius would say, "God backs me because I have the truth." Think of the Sagittarius symbol, the archer on the horse, galloping forth to find where his arrow landed, completely unaware of what he tramples underfoot, and blind to anything except his distant goal. Running roughshod over others is a common Sagittarius problem.

Another facet of expansion is lack of boundaries, which can lead to greed. "What’s here is never enough. There’s always more to do, and more to get." Saturn now facing Pluto in Sagittarius is all about boundaries, and one of the many golden opportunities now is to look at our very real boundaries, which show up in multiple ways.

For instance, the reality of the limitations of natural systems and of biological evolution, as well as the limitations of rising population, face us in a way which they didn’t when the founders of the U.S. were on those galloping horses, driven by the inspiration of God-given ideals. Sagittarius has to learn to rein in its rambunctiousness, and see the rest of the world, and learn to live in harmony with it.

911 is an emergency call jolting us into that awareness. We need to get off our high horses and look at the grass, the flowers, the trees, the streams, the villages and all the life right around us.

Self-righteousness has served to promote a "one" millennium of competitive growth. We have run it to the end of its course, where a few more steps in the same model means our destruction.

Now we have entered a "two" millennium, and the model needs to be a new one of cooperation. The sprouts are everywhere, and it will only take a change in worldview to make them grow, and to bring a new abundance to earth.

We are in that wrenching change process.

The U.S. Has Pluto in Capricorn

To understand how a transiting planet works, it is necessary to understand the placement of that planet in the natal chart.

Capricorn is a sign that seeks firm structures which provide security. It likes a hierarchical system, which operates smoothly because everyone knows his or her proper place. Capricorn is capable, ambitious, a hard worker, and a loner. Its position in the hierarchy is the boss, because it knows how to run things. Capricorn, the manager, likes law and order for everyone else so that they will stay in their places.

Business, government, the military, the church as institution, and all hierarchies are under the aegis of Capricorn. Capricorn’s symbol is the agile mountain goat. An astrological shorthand for Sag is "I know" and for Capricorn, "I use."

Pluto is in the U.S. second house. This is the house of what we need for security and survival, including money. Powerful Pluto here in the sign of business and the boss is the quintessential plutocrat.

Sag reaches for much, Capricorn knows how to get it, and Pluto is power larger than life. This is a successful combination.

The U.S. is simply expressing its energies. But the downsides are becoming quite evident, as we end one era and enter a new one.

Capricorn likes to be in "splendid isolation." It neither wants to ask for help nor seek cooperation. The goat has to climb that mountain alone. Again, we’re seeing that we must cooperate with nature and with others—or we won’t survive. Fortunately the bottom line of Capricorn is survival, towards what works, and in crisis Cap can act collaboratively in the interest of mutual aid.

Capricorn, too, has its blindness. Like Sagittarius, Capricorn tends to see grand schemes in which it loses sight of the individual, and of the ordinary needs of human living and of the earth.

Reality Intrudes in the Form of that Very Down-to-Earth Pluto-Saturn Whammo

On 911 very Capricornian structures were attacked in a very Sagittarian manner—taking big risks in the service of particular beliefs. Our consciousness was blasted, and we are beginning to take new looks at ourselves and our priorities, our nation, and our connections with the world. A new vision of the reality of the forces of nature is coming home to the Titanic.

We need our Sagittarius ascendant, and our second house Pluto, to serve the core of this nation, not to run away with it. To do that they both need to operate on their positive frequencies, which means a process of breaking down the negative and replacing it with positive. We are now embarking on a grand healing process.

The core of the nation is the Cancer Sun and Aquarius Moon. This combination has the power to unite the world. Cancer’s path is to come to understand that humans all share the same feelings, that we are all brothers and sisters, no matter what our colors, beliefs, or customs. Aquarius’ path is to work for a fair and just society, where we all live in the light engendered by each individual expressing his/her spirit. At their highest level, Cancer-Aquarius embody the ideals on which the United States was founded. These ideals—if not their flawed practice—have worldwide appeal.

The old is dying. It’s scary to see our familiar world crumble. The old system is fighting fiercely for its survival, and that’s scary too, especially as we see it’s worst features apparently gaining strength. These times are truly heavy and fear-laden.

However, out of the rubble a brighter new world is even now being born. Everywhere I hear people quoting a Chinese curse/blessing: May you be born in interesting times.

Each of us can search for the sprouts of light in the garden of our lives, and water and feed and love and grow them.

It helps a lot just to let go of the dying system’s propaganda, which is coming at us full force now, from every direction. As we let go, fear leaves, and we can create a spacious peace which invites light and love to flow through our lives.

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