Introduction to Astrology: Understanding Pluto

We associate Pluto with something very big becoming something rather small and the idea of downsizing, putting someone in their place, shrinking people’s positions, lowering their status, dwarfing their importance and so on, is tied to all Pluto transits.

Pluto Symbol - Introduction to Astrology: Understanding PlutoThe symbol for Pluto in your horoscope is P for Percival. He was Percival Lowell, and his wife Constance thought Pluto should have been called after him. That’s right. We could have Percival in Capricorn right now. Percy searched for Pluto first, then about 15 years after he died, the geeky lab assistant Claude Tombaugh found it.

The discovery of a planet and its naming gives astrologers the first clue they need about the meaning of a horoscope symbol.

The Astrological Method that stargazers have been using since 1781 is about those powerful moments of synchronicity when you realise astronomers (who generally loathe horoscopes) have just done everyone a favour, by surrounding the new planet with the exact same issues as the old myth which gives the planet its name! The first clues are detected!

Originally the Lowells called the mysterious piece of rock beyond Neptune, Planet X.Pluto Planet NASA - Introduction to Astrology: Understanding Pluto

Astronomy-watcher Michael Byers is a fabulous goldmine of information on the Lowells – who looked for Pluto first – and tell us so much about this planet’s association with power struggles. Byers writes that Constance, Percival’s wife, was a real estate queen who married P for Percival when everyone thought he’d choose his secretary instead. When Percival passed away, Constance fought over his fortune. Hard.

Constance was interested in astrology, although she was hopeless at it. She also appears to be a bit of a control freak, as might expect from the astronomical midwife of Pluto – and I mean that in a nice way. Constance’s letters at reveal this exchange, as they were trying to sort out what the new planet should be called. Percival, X or something else?

“Dr. Slipher (she wrote), Roger Putnam has written me about the intensely interesting observation that you are experiencing – that it may be Planet X I pray. Mr. Putnam asked me if I had any thoughts about the name. He said he had thought of Diana. But no. If it is not to be Lowell or Percival, my choice is Zeus. Zeus being the father of Aries – Aries being identified with Mars – it seemed appropriate- and Dr. Lowell was born in the sign of Aries – it is Dr. Lowell’s planet after all these years of looking for it. And it is only right that it was his to name after himself and now my right as he is dead and gone, in the Air of the Universe – and he was like a Zeus. Sincerely yours, Constance Lowell.”

People Politics and Pluto

All that passion, all that need to control – that’s Pluto. Note her name, too. Constance. Constant Craving is a famous k.d. lang song but it’s also Pluto’s theme song. Pluto shows where you constantly crave someone or something until you have to go and get it. It’s the way you go and get it that can cause you issues if you’re not careful!

Everyone can identify with Constance and her obsession about the new planet and her husband because everybody has Pluto somewhere in their chart, with all the famous intense longing, power and need to dominate everything and everybody, that comes with the symbol.

Pluto was dwarfed, as we all know. By sign and house in your natal chart, he shows where you want it all, temporarily have it all, then have to be cut down to size by life, other people or organisations. The bigger the power trip the worse the comedown. You can be a superstar all through the Seventies, abusing every privilege you get, but eventually you will fall off your platform shoes and be downsized. Thrown out of the star system, in fact.

Naming Pluto At Last

God Pluto 3 480x600 - Introduction to Astrology: Understanding PlutoIn the end, NASA sent its New Horizons mission to Pluto with geeky Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes on board, and poor Percival and Constance remain a footnote in history.

The people politics surrounding the name we ended up with are fascinating and so typical of this planet.

Pluto was suggested by Venetia Burney in Oxford. She was eleven years old. She told her grandfather, (who had already suggested names for the moons of Mars) who passed it on to the right people. There was nothing political about Venetia.

Except…in the original myth of Pluto, Proserpina and Ceres, it is a young girl, her mother’s pride and joy, who is seized by Pluto and taken to Hades where she grows up to become his bride.

Proserpina becomes a go-between in the myth, a human bridge between her powerful mother and her powerful husband. It’s hard not to see little Venetia in the same light. The girl was given five quid for her trouble and astrologers learned why the asteroid Proserpina matters. Pluto and Ceres are your inner power-trippers. Proserpina is your inner go-between.


The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook - Introduction to Astrology: Understanding PlutoWalt Disney immortalised Pluto by naming Mickey’s dog after him. Pluto had a dog called Cerberus who had three heads and guarded Hades/Hell, the underworld where souls went after death. Sue Tompkins takes up the story in The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook:

“During the year in which the planet was discovered (1930), Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse character acquired a pet dog. He was given the name Pluto a year later and appeared in 48 films.”

Sue made the connection between Pluto the planet and people who work with dogs, or keep them, when she was looking at charts.

I love this connection between Pluto and dogs and everyone who is learning astrology finds it an easy memory trigger. See Pluto? Think of Walt Disney cartoons.

Dogs are highly political. They are obsessed with who is ‘top dog’ or stuck out in the doghouse. You only have to walk your dog in the park, and you can see all the power plays going on, not only between animals but also their owners.

Pluto is always about control. Dogs are kept tightly under control on leads, but you may also wonder who is actually in control when you yet again have to fish around for a plastic bag in your raincoat pocket and scoop up their excrement. We live to serve, and I’m talking to you, Kipper and Boo.gotdaflow P8 RmeffU w unsplash 600x402 - Introduction to Astrology: Understanding Pluto

Dogs are powerful or powerless, depending on what we do to them. As guard dogs they can save the house from fire or burglary, raising the alarm. Sniffer dogs can get you arrested at the airport, or when they sit down next to you in the streets of Soho, when they smell your drugs. A sweet little dog with a police coat can put you into jail. They have the law on their side, but they can also be thrown into pounds, which for them I suspect are like dog jails, even though the volunteers at dog homes try to save their lives.

The phrase ‘dog eat dog’ springs to mind when we think of Pluto and also these animals. Pluto in your chart by sign and house shows where you can potentially encounter this in your life.

Dogs raise issues about willpower and self-control. Obeying our commands wins them affection and food. Disobeying us at puppy school sends them into the doghouse.

Dogs have so much to teach us in general, as my friends at our charity Dogstar in Sri Lanka know. They are good Pluto coaches. Why?

Self-Control is Control

Pluto transits and natal placements teach us that self-control is total control. Unless you want to feel dominated and overpowered by something/someone that ‘owns’ you, then you must learn to keep yourself on a tight leash.

Use your iron will to submit to whatever you must do, in order to have a balance of power with who/what is in charge. Mastering yourself helps you cut a deal with your master, your masters or whatever trend out there seems to have total mastery of your situation.

Almost as soon as Pluto arrived in 1930, we began to see the rise of the Nazis and world leaders who wanted world domination and were chasing the weapons to do it.

paul postema qYYTnPdwf Y unsplash 600x399 - Introduction to Astrology: Understanding Pluto

I find it really interesting that German Shepherds, also known as Alsatians, became so strongly identified with the Nazis. They are beautiful dogs, strong and brave, and of course, dogs are what we make them. They were highly trained, as they are today, for security work.

Dogs learn to master their instincts and follow the rules. What beat the Pluto madness that was well and truly unleashed during the war? Iron discipline. Steely self-control. In a word, blackouts, rationing, army drill and patience.

When a dog is told off by its owner for harassing other dogs (or cats, which shoot up the nearest tree) the animal often cowers and usually shrinks in size, backing down on the floor.Pluto is a large dog, Mickey is his mouse owner, but in reality, the mouse would be far smaller than a dog and in fact be his prey. Disney saw the joke.

People who are beginners in astrology often tremble when they see Pluto in their charts. I don’t know why. It’s always powerful but it is through finding your willpower and using it that you can succeed with this planet. Power trippers are common on tricky transits, but they are always cut down to size in the end.

It works the other way too. Don’t be a power-tripper and play people politics, regarding the areas of life covered by Pluto in your chart.

I get a lot of comments on my website from people born in the Sixties with Pluto in Virgo and they have work issues galore. Sometimes you have to look at your own chart and ask yourself the embarrassing question, ‘Could I, in fact, be the Mickey Mouse in this particular Pluto situation at the office, this week?’

God Pluto 2 503x600 - Introduction to Astrology: Understanding Pluto

Edited extract from 2020 Astrology: Your Five-Year Horoscope Guide by Jessica Adams.

All Images Courtesy of and Pinterest.


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13 Responses

  1. Hi Jessica, I have Pluto in Libra, which is 7th house. Your article made a lot of sense after I looked up where it was for me. I need to read up more on natal Pluto in 7th house because I was going by different “house” school and I don’t think that one is as accurate as the one you use. My Pluto is also starting to transit over my natal Venus. I don’t know what to expect! I noticed that the closer Pluto getting to my natal Venus the more private I’m feeling with my social media profiles. Maybe it’s just social media fatigue and not connected. I know this Pluto transit is very rare so I’m really curious how it will play out.

    1. Thank you. Transiting Pluto on natal Venus at 25 Capricorn falls in your Tenth House of career, unpaid work or study. Venus is the complicated relationship. Pluto is the transformation in the balance of power. I’ve seen this before when there is a hands-off flirtation with a boss, and Pluto comes along, and the boss’s wife leaves him. That is not going to happen to you, but Pluto over Venus in the Tenth House can be powerful and life-changing. Social status and one’s place in the hierarchy (High Society) is also the Tenth House, so you can see why trophy marriages can take place on this transit. As always, you choose what to do in the weather conditions. Natal Pluto in the Seventh House wants control of marriage, partnership, one-on-one relationships. Wants to be one’s own boss, in that area. These are separate stories in your chart, though – 2021 is about career, role, goal, position, mission, ambition. A reshuffle is very likely.

  2. Dear Jessica,

    Really insightful about Pluto – I don’t think I’ve ever read an astrological portrait of Pluto that highlights self-control (usually about controlling others or being controlled, whether by people or Fate!), but of course it makes perfect sense: who or what can we really control but ourselves? As a dog-lover, I think the canine parallels are fascinating. (Thank you very much for you kind words when my dog passed away suddenly in December – very much appreciated and I’m happy to say that Bonnie has since come through to me energetically, which was a lovely Christmas gift! I thanked you when I posted a comment in the Uranus section, but that seems to have got lost in the wash – Mercury retro perhaps? – so I wanted to say thank you again!)

    I have Pluto at 14 degrees Libra, conjunct Ops at 14 Libra and also have Neptune at 15 Sagittarius – please could you shed some light on what this means for me and how I can best work with the energies? Thank you in advance!

    Lots of love, light and blessings to you,


    1. Thank you Angelina. I’m really pleased for you that Bonnie has come through from the spirit world to let you know she’s fine. The line-up in your chart is about trying to control (Pluto) partnerships, marriages, duets and duels (Libra) with occasional success, but a lot of lessons about compromising with other people, and also the Universe. It won’t be there all the time; just when there is a transit to natal Pluto at 14 Libra. Ops is about overcoming obstacles to win, no matter how difficult – or how long one has to wait – again, this is about former, current or potential partners. You would expect Saturn at 14 Aquarius and Jupiter at 14 Aquarius, by transit, to trigger an important episode on the dates they pass. Neptune is a little wide at 15 Sagittarius but you would have to expect the unreal, non-real, space of the worldwide web, foreign people and places or regional differences (Sagittarius) to come into play every time you fall in love, break up, or create a work partnership. This seems to be an important time, as the South Node will pass 15 Sagittarius, right on your Neptune, and create aspects with your natal Pluto and Ops. I’ve seen it before with unrealistic long-distance internet relationships and decisions that force one person or the other to move. Or not!

  3. Hi Jessica, I also have Pluto in Libra and Neptune in Sagittarius! I assume the South Node in Sagittarius, going to 9 degrees will affect me. When will that happen? Thanks

    1. The 14th to 28th July finds the transiting South Node at 9 Sagittarius, the transiting North Node at 9 Gemini and Mercury at 9 Cancer on July 18th so you could time this for two weeks, with a focus near 18th July in particular.

  4. Wow … I literally had to sit down and re-read it. I’m a bit confused but I know what you’re talking about. There’s a group that I’m trying to stay away from because I don’t feel like I belong there but there’s definitely a strong pull. I feel if do get pulled into it, the price to pay will be too high. Everything you talked about. I wonder if it’s possible at all to wait out this transit on a sidelines.

    1. Astrology is about avoidance as much as anything. So yes, if you don’t want issues with that group, you’ll just minimise the involvement. You can get first, second and third opinions on this by using The Astrology Oracle, Your Oracle and the Tarot, all free to you as a member.

  5. Thanks Jessica. My birthday falls in that time frame so hopefully it’ll be a good one after a few difficult years. All the best.

  6. I have a long and strong metaphysical history.I am a meditator most of my life.Good marriage, decent grown kid. Pluto slammed my chart a couple of years ago and my son got melanoma, someone poisoned my kitty and he died at only 6 years of age. My Dad passed away suddenly. My husband totally changed our retirement plans and I feel at lose ends with it. I have struggling with my Faith in even the Gods and Goddesses since 2018. I see Pluto is mostly past the critical places in my chart?? I have not been able to pull myself up by the bootstraps the way i almost always can, in life..I want to write..women’s stories, romance, and maybe a memoir. Big learning curve to learn e publishing, but I am game. Do my current planetary cycles support a rekindling of my FAITH and belief in reincarnation, and can I use myself discipline to carve out a career in writing (small one, but I would like to make a little $$ .) I don’t like being “retired!!

    1. You’d like to be a writer and wonder how and when you can get your faith back. Jupiter at 11 Gemini and Juno at 12 Gemini in your Third House of words, ideas and images is all you need in 2021. Assuming you do the work, you’ll be heard or read in a significant way when the nodes go to 11 and 12 Gemini and Sagittarius in April 2021. That can only happen once in about 19 years. You also have Uranus at 11, 12 Taurus in May and June, straight afterwards, so this looks like an important project or course, concept or plan that has legs. Much later on in your life when Uranus goes to 11, 12 Gemini in April 2029, the original concept or qualification will be born again in the most exhilarating way, using brand new technology which has not even been invented yet.

  7. Thank you so much. I have been studying how to e publish.I signed up for a writing course with Natalie Goldberg, a teacher I have studied with before and right after you posted this advice, some of the homework she gave us really hit home with some directions to take with what i want to publish is 2021. I will be ready for April.I feel it is on the move. I appreciate your encouragement and specifics, so much! I felt in a huge slump.. I’m sure Covid isolation has something to do with it, and I wrote questions to you TWICE (sorry) , hoping one of my entries would garner a reply, and you replied to BOTH.. awesome.I am in great appreciation and I feel a tide is turning all around me, in a good way.

    1. I’m glad you feel the tide is turning. Covid is very tough on us, and the people I have known do best, have done hours and hours of meditation, Reiki, yoga but also wild swimming, power walking and so on. On the plus side, Covid has given you time and space to write. I hope it goes really well for you.

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