man standing on mountain

Choosing a Moral Path

Pluto entered Sagittarius in 1995, with its final entry on November 10, 1995. When a slow-moving planet such as Pluto changes signs (the previous time was 1984), it indicates a powerful shift in our collective and personal consciousness.

Pluto, Death and Transformation

Pluto's energy, of itself, is difficult to grasp on a personal level and tends to be encountered through a broad range of experiences, from very positive to very negative. At its worst, it is power, control, obsession, and a morbid fascination with the sinister side of life. Pluto is associated with death: rarely one's own, sometimes another's. More often it is the metaphorical death of some part of ourselves or our lives: an attitude, belief, lifestyle, life direction, etc.

The seasons circle through birth, growth, fruition, death, hibernation and rebirth. In the same way, any death experience (be it literal or metaphorical) is inevitably followed by a healing process that leads to rebirth. This involves grieving the loss of what was, be it a person, a job, a lifestyle or simply whatever was familiar.

This healing process may compel you to gradually create something new in your life (like a new career direction after a job loss). Or, it can have a more internalized focus; for example, cultivating the seed of a new identity that lies dormant within the dead outer layers of the psyche that are shed like snakeskin during the Plutonic "death" experience. Hope helps us remember that new growth and life always follow death and loss.

At its best, Pluto represents personal empowerment, transformation, and the ability to confront and heal the shadow side of one's soul. Ultimately, Pluto shines light into the dark corners of our lives, and requires that we somehow heal and assimilate what we find there into our lives. Pluto, in its highest form, represents the unconditional love that enables us to see even the most "evil" nature as the twisted, distorted, even grotesque reflection of a tormented soul. As Kahlil Gibran wrote in The Prophet: "Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil. For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?"

The Higher Vision of Sagittarius

Sagittarius represents our framework of understanding. It is the ability to identify and work with patterns of meaning that lie within the vast database of raw information in the world around us. This search for meaning leads to a quest for higher truth and spiritual significance (hence, its link to religion.)

Toward this end, Sagittarius evokes the challenge of faith versus dogma: Are we using our vision of truth to guide us to a higher goal or to force others to adopt our own image of the universe? The moral and philosophical lessons of Sagittarius continually pit our personal beliefs about right and wrong against the endless diversity of the world around us. Each of us sees and acts from a different perspective. Finding a balanced position is an endless walk along a razor's edge.

Life and Death Values

Some of the themes that have emerged as Pluto moved from Scorpio to Sagittarius last year include: issues about euthanasia and assisted suicide; national territorialism and the changing reasons for its existence (like Canada's fishing boundaries); questioning the accuracy and truth about suppressed childhood abuse memories; a re-examination of the death penalty; and the role of spirituality in our lives.

The recently released film, "Dead Man Walking," illustrates with poignant drama some of the challenges that Pluto poses in Sagittarius. (If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it!) It raises gripping moral questions about issues like the death penalty; the effectiveness of religion, the church and its workers in addressing immorality; questioning the validity and meaning of faith; and the true nature of the human soul when it is overshadowed by "evil."

Pluto in Sagittarius demands that we address these kinds of issues and choose our path. Do we meet these questions with dogmatic rhetoric? With a rigid belief system that recognizes only a reflection of its own viewpoint? With hatred, bitterness, prejudice or judgment? And happens to the natural instinct to normalize and let go of intense feelings, the will to forgive, the transformative power of the grieving process, and life's instinct for moving beyond the pain of the present into the hope of tomorrow?

It takes courage and perseverance to strengthen and nurture our capacity for compassion, integrity and love. We have as allies, if we don't reject them, the tenacity of the human will to sustain hope and our natural faith in the transformation of the human spirit. However, we must also reckon with the human emotions of rage, bitterness, hatred, fear, depression and despair that are natural by-products of tragedy, loss, disappointment and change. And with every step, we must tread the seemingly impossible path between spiritual ideals and real- life realities.

Pluto in Sagittarius says that each of us will, inevitably, wrestle with these issues in some form over the next 12 years or so. There are no easy answers, and there are even more possible solutions than there are people to consider them. Each of us will find the answers that fit our needs and values for better or worse. And those answers will change and evolve as we grow through the Pluto process.

Trust the Process!

Sagittarius calls us to a higher vision of truth, moral values and understanding, while Pluto guides us through a process of transforming shadow into light through uncompromising acknowledgement of what we see in those shadows. What is the highest truth that YOU can see? What obstacles block your path toward making that higher vision a reality? What keeps you from truly living that higher understanding of life? How can you aspire, like the archer's arrow, and stretch yourself beyond those obstacles to touch your spirit's vision?

It is said that achievement is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Faith (the territory of Sagittarius) shows us the pinnacle of the shining mountain beyond the dark forest, and promises there is something better that is worth striving for. Ultimately, it is the courage and endurance of actually traveling through that shadowy forest (the process of Pluto) that gets us from where we are to where we want or need to go. Pluto's message in Sagittarius is: Keep the faith, do the work, and trust the process!


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