Scorpio the Scorpion represents the part of you that is capable of intense concentration, deep emotion and passion. Ruled by Mars and Pluto, this energy shows how you handle power and control.

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill because they pissed me off.(Anonymous)

Okay, so you're in this great relationship and the two of you have learned how to get along, make compromises and negotiate through disagreements. But sometimes it's not so simple – like the time you had to bite your tongue when his/her parents came to meet you and made that insulting remark about your job. You kept silent because it was important to make a good impression, but it left you feeling resentful, phony and powerless.

You've been a loyal, hard worker for several years, taking on extra work to help the company through lean times. Suddenly you get called on the carpet for something that wasn't your fault and your boss acts as if it's an open and shut case. When you try to appeal to him/her, you're rebuffed as if you were just another cog in the machinery. You feel abandoned, hurt, betrayed.

Your partner complains that you're sending out double messages: at first you're very receptive to his/her advances, but then you suddenly have a million excuses to avoid sex. You secretly feel uneasy about your sexuality because, deep down, you harbor strange sexual fantasies that seem inappropriate, even shameful.

Scorpio glyph Welcome to the shadowy world of zodiac sign Scorpio. In this place we'll encounter power struggles, intense emotions and cathartic transformation, but we'll also find deep acceptance of ourselves and the door to unconditional love.

In the last zodiac article, we looked at Libra and how it provides a mutual mirror to view ourselves through the eyes of "The Other." Leading up to Libra we began with the archetypal development of the conscious ego in Aries ("I am"), Taurus ("I value") and Gemini ("I think"). This progressed toward gradually reaching out to others through Cancer ("I belong"), Leo ("I express") and Virgo ("I serve"). With these basic building blocks of ego consciousness in place, we proceed into Libra ("I relate"), where we enter into one to one relationships. Now we arrive at Scorpio ("I empower"), in which we encounter the world of deep intimacy and empowerment.

In Libra, we're challenged to acquire the fundamental skills of relating to others on a one to one basis. We learn how to interact, how to compromise and how to balance who we are with what we perceive in the other person – but often interactions are anything but straightforward or simple!

Libra wants to negotiate a solution to problems, but there are some conflicts that simply can't be resolved by a simple compromise. For instance, we may become trapped in a disempowering situation in order to maintain security or stability in other areas. Or, we may be motivated by unconscious issues that others detect but are hidden to us.

Both Libra and Scorpio are concerned with relating, interaction and love, but from very different perspectives. Libra focuses on the surface topography of relationships—ensuring that we dance together in symmetry and grace. Scorpio, on the other hand, delves into the deeper, messier issues that inevitably arise. In Scorpio, we deal with power struggles, deep psychological dynamics, control urges, and the aspects of ourselves and others we'd rather not know about. Scorpio navigates the undercurrents – the hidden, unspoken movements and motives of our dance with "The Other."


Power and Control

One of the first issues to emerge out of the act of relating with another person is the balance of power. Who decides? Who leads and who follows? Who breaks the tie? Who controls the steering wheel of the interaction? The answers to these questions can determine whether we feel trusting or guarded, safe or threatened, appreciated or (ab)used in the relationship.

Each of us deals with power and control differently. Everyone asserts power and exerts control within their lives in some way, be it direct or inferred. Some of us assert our power directly and candidly, being up front about our boundaries, needs and priorities. In doing so, we may be grounded and open or overbearing and domineering. On the other hand, we may assert our power subtly and indirectly, through implication, suggestion and innuendo. As such, we may be shy and tentative or manipulative and passive aggressive. Regardless of our style, we each have some way of addressing the human need to have a say in what happens to us.

From another perspective, we may place our locus of control either within ourselves or outside ourselves. If we place our focal point within ourselves, it means we'll resolve conflicts and disputes by shifting our own actions, attitudes, boundaries or direction. Mind you, this doesn't mean merely keeping our true feelings to ourselves. Rather, we pro actively take responsibility for our own needs, safety and well being.

If we place our centre of control outside of ourselves, it implies that we believe someone else holds the key to our freedom, our security and our welfare, which equates to giving away our power. In this case, we may try to force the person to change, so that they adopt the kind of actions, behaviour, priorities or attitudes that serve our own needs.

This goes beyond simply making a request that they alter their behaviour (which, in itself, suggests a pro active, assertive approach to conflict resolution). Rather, it means that if the person declines to oblige us, we persist in trying to change them, believing that this is the only solution to our problem. Even if we do succeed in getting the person to change, we'll probably have to keep exerting our persuasion, be it direct or subtle, lest they revert back to old ways.

Within You, Without You

The difference in these styles lies in where one believes the point of power lies – inside or outside of oneself. When it lies outside, one must have power over others in order to effectively influence their behaviour and feel safe, protected and powerful. Without power over, such a person feels vulnerable, threatened, and a compulsive need to maintain control over one's surroundings.

When the locus of control lies within oneself, it is possible to maintain a source of personal power or power within. When we don't utilize our power within, we are increasingly compelled to focus on the other person as the source and solution to our problems.

However, there are times and situations when we are unable to exercise our personal power. We may lack the skills or awareness necessary to utilize this power. For instance, children are still learning how to navigate through the world and haven't yet acquired the ability to distinguish and act on personal choices. And addicts often have to "hit bottom" before the reality of their self-destructive habits penetrates their wall of denial.

We may also lack the necessary opportunities or resources we need to make a change. For example, limited financial resources often keep victims of violence stuck in a destructive home environment. And we may continue a dysfunctional lifestyle or attitude because we lack sufficient ego strength to endure the stressful process of change that would ultimately take us in a more fulfilling direction.

Pluto's Underworld

Glyph of PlutoGlyph of Pluto By the modern rulerships, Scorpio is ruled by Pluto. Pluto is a tiny planet which packs a giant wallop! It takes 248 tedious years to orbit the Sun from the outermost edges of the solar system. Pluto is our slowest moving planet, taking anywhere from 1 year (3 hits) to 2 years (5 hits) to transit a natal planet. As such, it brings a long term process of gradual metamorphosis.

Pluto, the moving emissary of Scorpio energy, is associated with power issues, elimination, death (rarely one's own), rebirth and deep transformation. It transforms by forcing us to peer far below the surface, with eyes open, to behold what lurks there.

But this can be difficult for the average person. Most people don't exercise their Pluto energy on a fully conscious level and some avoid it at all costs. Most of us visit Pluto's underworld realm occasionally when circumstances demand it, but it's not on our Top 10 list of priorities.

What sane person would willingly strut into the shadows, wherein lurk our worst fears, our darkest shame, and the harsh truth of who we fear we are when the lights go out? It is not a journey for the timid (although it can ultimately strengthen those who undertake it), but most of us would rather save this dubious delight for times when it's utterly unavoidable.

And therein lies the difference between Scorpionic people and the general population: most people visit Pluto's underworld; Scorpio's live there! Scorpionic people are all too familiar with the underworld of their unconscious, because their Scorpionic nature brings them in contact with it as a fundamental part of who they are. Deny a Scorpio the ability to access their depths and they will feel only half of who they truly are.


"What's A Pluto Transit?"

For starters, there's Natal Pluto... One way that we all experience Pluto energy is through its placement in our natal (birth) chart. Pluto moves very slowly (from 12 to 32 years to go through just one sign). So the sign of one's natal Pluto tends to reflect a generational influence. (e.g., Pluto in Leo produced the "Baby Boomers," Pluto in Virgo spawned "Generation X," etc.) The natal house where Pluto is found in the birth chart, as well as the aspects (geometric relationships) it makes to other planets, show more ways that we experience Pluto on a personal level.

Then there is Transiting Pluto... A natal chart is like a snapshot of where the planets were at the moment of your birth, but after you were born the planets kept moving. The primary predictive technique used by astrologers is called Transits, which compares where the planets are now ("transiting planets") to where they were when you were born ("natal planets"). When a transiting planet forms a certain geometric angle (called an "aspect") to one of your natal planets, we say that you are "getting a transit" from that planet. The transiting planet indicates the kind of energy being introduced (e.g., transiting Pluto brings transformation, deep change and letting go of old baggage).

The natal planet that is being transited shows the area of your life that's affected (e.g., natal Mercury governs your perceptions, communication style and your "voice"). And the aspect between the transiting and natal planets indicates how easy or difficult the experience is likely to be (e.g., 90-degree Squares are challenging and stressful; 120-degree Trines are harmonious and fluid). Due to the back-and-forth motion of the planets, we often get 3 "hits" (passes or occurrences) of a transit, especially from Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. In the case of REALLY slow-moving planets (Neptune and Pluto), they can make up to 5 passes during the same transit.

Using this information, astrologers can detect when, and usually in what area of life, you will undergo a major change or opportunity.

Dark Night of the Soul

Transformation, the utmost Plutonian agenda, is essentially the process of evolutionary change based on new information and experiences. Repeated, continual change and adaptation gradually produces a fundamental shift in who we are (for better or worse), because the process forces us to frame ourselves and the world differently.

This can be an upsetting, frightening or painful experience, since it tends to shine light into dark corners that have remained happily hidden for some time. It can force us to acknowledge and deal with aspects of ourselves, others and life that we'd rather not know about.

However, not even all Scorpionic people are capable of the deep transformation inspired by Pluto, instead getting lost in the murky underside of life. When Pluto is "in your face," but you lack fortitude of Self, ego strength, and some form of spiritual faith to provide a lifeline to the surface, it can be easy to believe that this is all there is. One might begin to idealize or idolize pain, suffering, abuse and cruelty, either by reveling in it or inflicting it on others. It may seem as if this is all there is to life, and we become lost in despair, hopelessness and austerity, or sell our soul to a perverse, depraved way of life.

These experiences constitute some of the darkest caverns in the Plutonian underworld. Our jails and mental hospitals house many who have become lost in these caves. Without a balance between the darkness of the underworld and the light of day from the surface world, one can become trapped in gloom, despair and perversity.

Encounters with the Plutonian underworld vary widely, but all of them challenge us to undergo a Dark Night of the Soul is some form. This may be through the death of someone close to us (rarely one's own death), or we may even be profoundly affected by the death of someone we hardly know. Pluto may manifest as sexual energy: perhaps it is awakening at puberty or after a time of dormancy; at times through the emergence of secret, perhaps "shameful" sexual fantasies; or even through the trauma of rape and sexual abuse.

Pluto often brings power dynamics into play, in the form of situations that challenge us to own and assert our power; or through situations which render us powerless and compel us to discover a deeper, more internal source of personal power. Pluto may also bring us face to face with our darkest fears, our worst nightmares or our deepest shame, that we may transform and heal them.

Venturing into Pluto's shadowy caves enables us to transform who we are. "You gotta feel it to heal it," as the saying goes, and this is never truer than in the Plutonian realm. In order to transform, we must shine the light of awareness and courage into the caverns of fear, rage, shame and atrocity, that we may come to see exactly what lurks there. It is now that Scorpio's capacity for intense concentration is so valuable, because it takes an almost obsessive tenacity to keep one's eyes open and gaze steady when confronting and facing one's deepest dread. Pluto demands that we learn to look upon these secret parts of ourselves without flinching, but also with compassion and understanding.

Will the Real Monster Please Stand Up...?

It is through this gradual process that we begin to see the ugliest, scariest monsters of our nightmares aren't what we thought they were. Those luminescent eyes that glare menacingly at us in the dark could turn out to be the wide eyes of our terrified Inner Child. The growling and hissing that echo from all directions might originate from our own muffled cries of anguish. The enveloping feelings of foreboding and impending doom from enemies unknown could be rooted in our terror of vulnerability and powerlessness.

The underworld was said to be surrounded by several rivers, including the River Lethe whose waters would make a person forget the past. An astrologer (name not recalled) once said that people emerging from a Pluto transit seem to have drunk from the River Lethe, in that they often seemed to forget much of the torment and anguish they endured while in the Plutonian underworld. Perhaps this is because, in the aftermath, we perceive the issues differently. The monsters which once terrorized us from "out there" are now recognized as only part of the larger picture.

That is not to say that we emerge from the depths with Pollyanna's rosy optimism. Rather, we are to some degree "older but wiser." Whether we have managed to consciously own our corresponding personal issues, or are simply stronger for having survived the ordeal, our perspective of the overall territory and our journey through it usually looks very different to us. Though we may be embittered, bruised or disillusioned, we are nevertheless the wiser for it. At the highest end of the spectrum, we'll have a fresh capacity for empathy, compassion and, ultimately, unconditional love of oneself and others.

Peeling the Onion

Pluto's transformation occurs in layers. There's a saying in the Adult Child movement that healing is like peeling an onion, and you cry with every layer. This is often typical of the Pluto experience. And with every layer you shed, you also purge a piece of the larger issues that lie at the core. Pluto's association with elimination applies to the psyche, as well as the bowels.

Let's take an example: a person who is undergoing a Pluto transit may start to find that his/her friends are unaccountably backing away and being distant. Our friend's reaction is to lash out in angry retaliation, which just makes things worse. (Our initial reaction in such a situation is frequently to focus on and blame the other guy, since it's initially easier to see their behaviour than our own.) If s/he follows this situation into its Plutonian depths, a possible progression of insight might go something like this: The journey begins with the recognition that s/he impulsively attacks others who upset him/her. A deeper look reveals that this often happens when s/he feels rejected or abandoned by other people.

At this point, our friend is still focusing mostly outside his/herself, placing the blame on others. This can be an attempt to validate feelings of hurt, rage or fear, which are important to acknowledge and accept. Notwithstanding whatever our friend's friends are contributing to the mess, if s/he probes deeper still into his/her own psyche, patterns will surface which suggest there is more to the situation than can be fully explained by the other person's behaviour.

Our friend might start to recognize deeper feelings of vulnerability and shame, fearing that s/he is unlovable and unworthy of support. A much deeper look may unearth childhood memories which convey a message (intentionally or not) that the child was bad or undeserving, outweighing any other messages of love, acceptance or worth.

This experience requires a concentrated internal focus, and it's common that people can become quite secluded during a Pluto transit, maintaining contact with a select, trusted few. It is often necessary to radically simplify one's life, as the demands of the outside world can feel quite overwhelming. As the person later emerges from this emotional excavation, an integration and assimilation of these new perceptions takes place. The old urge is still there to strike out at those who push his/her rejection buttons, but with a new perspective, s/he now has some of the tools needed to choose a different response.

On the other hand, our friend might have persisted in shrinking away from any new self awareness. (There is, unfortunately, nothing that says anyone has to face or own anything in their internal psychological makeup.) If determined enough, one could persevere indefinitely in other focused automatic reactions (e.g., blame), failing to reach a deeper, more balanced outlook.

However, such a Pluto transit will probably be a harrowing experience in this case, and at the very least will point to the existence of a problem in their lives. As history repeats itself and their denial is challenged, the person may become better equipped to recognize and address the problem at a deeper level.


The Rebirth

The reality for a given individual typically runs somewhere between these extremes. None of us is immaculate enough to undergo a Dark Night of the Soul without humanly giving in to a certain amount of backlash or backsliding. And few of us can withstand a barrage of in your face Pluto energy without growing in some way.

One is never the same after taking the Plutonian pilgrimage. One emerges scathed but renewed, with a fresh picture of both the complexity and the simplicity, the fragility and the resiliency of the human soul. We often have a new appreciation of ourselves as neither flawless nor defective, but as simply human.

It is this deceptively simple realization that opens the door to a more compassionate realism and unconditional acceptance of oneself and others. This does not mean we must condone malicious or maladjusted behaviour; rather, we have a more grounded awareness that we all do the worst things for the most poignant of reasons.

Scorpio and Pluto challenge us to bring light to the depths of who we are, so that we can know our true inner reality – the truth of what forms the bedrock of our human experience. Saturn provides us with the ability to discern and grapple with external, physical reality. Similarly, Pluto encourages us to admit and accept our internal, psychological reality. And, just as Saturn precedes Pluto in planetary sequence, it is essential to have a solid sense of self within external reality, before one can venture safely into the unconscious depths of Pluto's underworld.

In therapy, for example, one might spend quite a while fortifying and validating one's ego consciousness and defining the surface layers of one's circumstances and experiences, before being ready to venture down into the bowels of the Plutonian process. "One step at a time" takes a long time, and one should not (indeed, cannot) rush through these stages of revelation. It takes time to absorb and assimilate the reality of our experiences.

As arduous and painstaking as this process can be, it is the very stuff that evolutionary growth is made of. This is ultimately a healing transformation that utilizes everything that we are and speaks to all that we can be. The Scorpio process forms the nitty gritty nuts and bolts of a profoundly spiritual process, in the deepest sense of the word. It enables us to transform from being impulsive, unconscious, one dimensional creatures into choice centred, aware, multi-dimensional beings.

The Ways of Love

Libra shows us how to love using diplomacy, beauty, harmony and mirroring. Scorpio presents a different perspective which challenges us to love from the depths of acceptance, understanding and unconditional love in the face of all that we believe renders us unlovable, unacceptable and defective. Love is such a complex, multi-faceted miracle that it cannot be governed by one sign alone. Scorpio, in its highest manifestation, bestows a capacity which confirms and integrates the mystery of our humanness. I am not convinced we can truly love without it.


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