I cannot sugarcoat my experience; the following description is intense and true, which are both qualities of the planet we call Pluto.
Pluto is the archetype that depicts the underworld, i.e., our demons and deepest fears. Pluto is: traveling to the depth of darkness and despair. Pluto also is: resurfacing renewed and transformed, worlds stronger and more resilient. Your fear is gone because there is nothing left to fear, and that, in a nutshell, is what is behind the empowerment we speak of when we speak of Pluto energy.
Pluto symbolizes the breaking down or destruction of something and the regeneration that follows.
Yes, exactly what you are thinking: Yikes.
In my 2nd house, the house that symbolizes income, possessions, values and self-worth, Pluto is working his way through, having his way with me. This transit through the 2nd house is more significant and intense for me because that is where my Sun, Mercury, and Venus live. The Sun represents the core of who you are, while Mercury reflects your mind and communication style, and Venus your relationships and environment.
This is what happened when Pluto went mano a mano with my Sun and personal planets, through my 2nd house:
My mother was diagnosed with liver cancer.
I lost my main source of work/income and community, due to the pandemic. The closure of the yoga studio I taught and worked at for years, and with it the community that had become an integral part of my life, happened just a few months before the worst of my mom’s illness.
I cleaned house, getting rid of everything that felt superfluous.
I moved from my apartment, which I owned with the help of a guy I was in an undefined relationship with for way too long; someone who ultimately added to my feelings of being stuck and overlooked.
Finally, after many failed attempts, I cut the cord on said undefined relationship/situationship.
In the weeks leading up to my mother’s death, I half carried half dragged my frail (formerly strong/active) mother to the bathroom, holding her up on the toilet, redressing her like a child, begging her to let go of the towel bar she was clinging to so we could “move forward” and get her back into bed.
Calvary was the next stop on our hell ride: the creepy and nightmarish (sorry to those who feel differently) Catholic hospice, in the Bronx, where people go to die. The window in my mother’s room looked out to a dank, abandoned parking lot, the kind where I imagined people getting murdered. I know Calvary is considered one of the good ones, as far as hospices go, but it is cold and sterile and ugly (not cozy or home-y) and it felt, for me, devastating and heartbreaking to leave my mother there. Numbness was the main ingredient that got me through each day (and my family and friends – so much gratitude for them). Two and half weeks felt like two and half months, as I watched my mother suffer in the silence; with Pluto in her 12th house and a Capricorn moon, my mother did not express emotion easily, or at all for that matter.
Each evening before bed, I obsessively checked and doublechecked the phone numbers filed in my “favorites,” so that calls from my mom, the hospice, and my brother would come through (I had to shut the rest of the world out). Adrenaline shot through me each morning, and I almost needed to catch my breath as I tried to wrap my mind around the fact that my mother was dying, alone, in a hospice – a place I did not know existed a few weeks prior to the ambulance dropping her there, and a place I pray I will never return to.
Because this was during the pandemic, visiting hours were limited; we were allowed to be with her for only four hours/day, starting at 1 pm, and there was only one person allowed in her room at a time. We took turns waiting outside, on a bench, while one of us sat with her, staring at the TV or the photographs of family we had taped to the wall, which confused her — “Let’s take those down,” she’d say, looking for her travel bag.
Finally, her organs gave up. She was barely able to hold her head up as she struggled for each breath. I will never forget the sound of her body attempting to pull in the last drops of oxygen. As difficult as this was to witness, there was relief in knowing that her suffering was easing up, that she was fading away from reality and less aware of her dire circumstances.
We received the call from the hospice late on the evening of October 5th. I knew it was coming but I still wasn’t prepared; I had told myself I had one last day to say goodbye. I paced around my mom’s home (where I had been staying), as I struggled to get air in my lungs — it reminded me of my mother’s laborious breaths earlier that day, the last day of her life, and also the way I used to cry for her when when I was a child. She worked full-time when I was young and my sweet grandmother took care of me; it was like I had amnesia each morning as the tears came and Yiayia reminded me that mommy had left for work. I loved my grandmother with all my heart but I was desperate for my mother; no one compared to her. Our relationship had been unstable since I was born (my mother was either distracted by her dysfunctional marriage or working full-time to make up for my father’s gambling habit) and it created deep anxiety and fear of separation within me, which I was revisiting now in its most extreme form. I was being left behind. The finality of it felt something like claustrophobia. My mother was gone and I would never speak to her again. Just like that, she had left the planet.
In the days that followed, I had the task, with the help of my mother’s sister, of cleaning out her home. My mom had a lot of stuff neatly packed away in her closets and drawers, and it was overwhelming when I realized how much there was to go through; it was remarkable how much she managed to store in a one-bedroom apartment. She had never gone through the process of clearing out things from the past, things she didn’t need or was not going to use. She held onto it all with the fantasy that she (or I) would use it “some day” (e.g., fancy chinaware and glasses, my beautiful baby clothes). Some day. A phrase she used often when she referred to my future, even though I was past the age of a “some day.”
When we realized that my mom’s health was declining fast, my brother and sister-in-law drove to my mom’s home with my 4 year old niece, 2 year old nephew, and brand new baby nephew. My niece and nephew were playing in my mother’s bedroom while my mother lay on the bed. My niece, Giuliana, peeked under the bed and slid out a big clear bin. “What’s in here, Yiayia?” she asked as she opened it. Before my mom could answer, Giuliana was removing the delicate and ancient little garments that I had worn in my baby years (my mother worked for a French fashion company when I was little). She had stored them all of these years with the hope, I imagine, that I would have a daughter. Giuliana giggled and threw the clothing around as she dug further into the bin. I tried to explain that they had been mine, but one look at my mother’s face stopped me. I saw in her eyes the pain of lost time, the realization that “some day” would never come. We would have no happy ending. My mom, who used denial as her main defense mechanism throughout most of her adult life, could not handle this right now, I could see. I pretended everything was fine, but inwardly my heart was shattering and I was on my knees sobbing. I grabbed the top to the box and said, “Let’s put this back,” glancing at my mother, who nodded quietly and said, “Yes, let’s put them back.”
Also stored under the bed and in the closets were boxes and boxes full of memorabilia. I spent many nights reading, with tears running down my face, old letters, notes, and postcards … many of them were cards and drawings I made for her when I was a child. I pored through old photographs for hours at a time, texting friends and family the gems I found, laughing and crying. I spent a season sorting through it all, processing an entire lifetime and the end of one of the most defining relationships of my life: the mother/child bond.
It was, in Pluto fashion, a necessary process.
As I made my way down memory lane, I remembered the adoration and pure love I had for my mom when I was a child. It was all coming back to me. But as I grew, and by the time I reached my young adult years, I had accumulated a boat load of anger and resentment toward her (join the club, right?). My mother’s disappointments and anger at staying in life situation that wasn’t right for her overshadowed everything in her life, including me. When I was young, she did not support or encourage me in the way a child ideally needs to be because, as I understand it now, she was not fulfilled in her own life. Instead of support, I received criticism that weighed on my shoulders and dragged me down, and because my mom presented a cheerful face to the world, no one saw this or would have suspected it. It was confusing. My mother and I share a Neptune Moon in our composite chart, and Neptune is a symbol for things appearing differently than they actually are — it also rules compassion, idealism, and spirituality.
My mom’s 12th house (symbolizing things that are hidden) Pluto (depth, truth) and Capricorn (stoic, strong) Moon (feelings) made it difficult for her to express emotions or, even, to discuss sensitive or intimate issues; we never had an honest or “real” conversation about anything that went down in our family life, or really at all for that matter; most of our conversations revolved around practical matters and surface issues, or other people’s affairs (a diversion). All the dysfunction and pain of our family life (which included guns, hospitals, and homeless shelters at the worst stage of it) was brushed under the proverbial rug. And like a Roto-Rooter, Pluto has the job of clearing that shi* out.
Pluto is also the symbol for abuse and power. My mother’s only outlet for her anger was in her home, so my brother and I received the brunt of her emotional turmoil (raging over something accidentally breaking, for example), which was hidden (12 house) from anyone outside the home — her Leo Rising personality was sunny and warm. Needless to say, my relationship with my mom was complex with unresolved emotions and issues simmering under the surface. Throughout my entire life, I felt the weight of my mother’s disappointments, her unfulfilled hopes and dreams and talents, represented by my Capricorn Sun; we mountain goats often hold the weight of the world on our shoulders. I made myself small in response to her emotional needs, which I felt on an intuitive level (that joint Neptune Moon).
The process I was going through now was helping me to release what I was holding, energetically, for my mother. It was also a way of reclaiming my personal power.
When I was ready, I bagged up all the photos and letters and cards, saving a few special ones and taking photos of many of the other ones I was discarding. My friend/the undefined relationship guy (mentioned earlier) couldn’t understand why I was getting rid of my mom’s stuff, especially photographs and memorabilia. He thought I could keep it all, but that is not what you are meant to do during a Pluto transit. I could not shove things back under the bed; putting stuff back into storage and holding onto it would have been like drinking poison. As I packed stuff up and brought it to my car for my next donation/recycling/garbage run, the heavy energy was palpable. I felt irritated and angry and stuck with the stuff in my car. It was overwhelming, suffocating, and icky. After dropping the bags off, my whole body and being felt lighter — it was a big, fat relief.
Pluto is about rites of passage. It symbolizes a cleansing and healing process. As I let go of these items that my mother was attached to (due to regret, sorrow, and fear), I was freeing up space in my own heart and life.
When my mother was dying and I helped her through those last excruciating weeks of her life, I experienced the most important rite of passage of my life. It was horrifying and life-shattering. The saddest and hardest thing I have ever faced. During the worst of her illness, I had an emotional breakdown on my way to the store to buy her chocolate protein drinks (the only thing she could still, partially, consume). I said a silent prayer to my father, who had died several years earlier, to help me through the next weeks so I could take care of my mother. After that, a calm washed over me and I was able to put one foot in front of the other, to do what I needed to to get through the worst experience of my life.
I have been fearful most of my life of suffering and I think, similarly to my mother, I have avoided situations or important experiences, including intimacy, because of this. Pluto brought me face to face with my fears.
Pluto is death. It is also rebirth.
I cleaned out my own closets, next; an easier process than the task of cleaning my mom’s closets because I had been through the process a few times already at pivotal stages in my life, however there was still a lot I didn’t realize I was holding onto, and also things I had left at my mother’s home which I had forgotten about. I went through the last of “my stuff,” whittling it down to the essentials: everything else was going the way of the dumpster (or Green Drop, as it were).
Next, I moved from my apartment, which I owned with the help of the aforementioned guy. Moving from the apartment was like severing ties with him energetically and the first step in moving on from a relationship/situation that was dragging me down. I knew I was worthy of so much more than he was giving me (basically nothing) but old habits die hard and there were elements of “anxious attachment” (a field of research on relationship dynamics) and addiction in this bond. As Taylor Swift wrote, “[he] kept me like a secret, but I kept [him] like an oath.”
So at the ripe age of 43, I was starting from scratch.
Pluto burns away what you no longer need … right down to the very core of your being.
Uranus has been transiting my natal moon for the past few years, which also symbolizes the separation (Uranus) from my mother (Moon) and freedom (Uranus) from the past (Moon). There are typically a few significant transits happening at once during pivotal times in life that symbolize and reflect the events you are experiencing.
I have nearly one more year of the Pluto Transit. Pluto is a slow-moving outer planet so his journeys are long. But Pluto is now on the other side of my Sun and personal planets, meaning the God of the Underworld is starting to move past the natal degrees of my Sun, Venus, and Mercury, so he will perhaps be more gentle for the next several months, as I make the rest of the necessary changes to move forward with my life (one can only hope). *Addendum: I forgot when I wrote this part that Pluto was soon to move into his Retrograde phase (April 28 – Oct. 8, 2022), and so as Pluto moves backward he will hit my Sun and Venus again (oh boy) before he finally makes his way forward. Pray for me. 🙂
Because Pluto moves so slowly through the zodiac, you only experience his powerful presence in certain areas of your natal chart, life, and psyche.
If you are facing a Pluto transit, hold on … but know that, ultimately, you are learning how to let go.