A Journal of Inner Work and Therapeutic Arts
Immanence and Identity in Plural Personality
Richard Dagan

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Uranus Square Pluto:  The fourth instance in this cycle.

Samhain, 31 October; 1 November 2013

In a frequently referenced previous entry we reviewed the 7 instances of exactitude in the current series of Uranus-Pluto squares. The most intense of these is thought to be the fourth instance, now imminent: ~06:30h EDT on 1 November 2013. Shown below is the radix, which I'm considering as a birth chart rather than as an event. I want to assess the structure and dynamics but, more than that, shift my perspective with regard to the two "systems" engaged by the square.

A quick look at the patterns is useful before we begin.

Assessing the challenges posed by ♅ ☐ ♇ proves really very interesting. While assessment of patterns, indicated dynamics and archetypal implications informs the major part of our evaluation, it's also useful in this case to look at astronomical qualities of the two bodies — the polar orientation and the 27 moons of the Uranus system, and the arguably binary system of Pluto-Charon, with relationship intense enough to shift the barycenter of the Pluto system outside of Pluto.

First, Pluto-Charon.

Discovery of Charon

Charon's discovery as a time-varying bulge on the image of Pluto (seen near the top at left, but absent on the right). Click image for detailed description of astronomer James W. Christy's discovery.
Brallan. Wikipedia. 5 July 2006.

A side view of the Pluto-Charon system.

A side view of the Pluto-Charon system. Pluto and Charon are tidally locked to each other. Charon is massive enough that the barycenter of Pluto's system lies outside of Pluto, thus Pluto and Charon are sometimes considered to be a binary system. Stephanie Hoover, Wikipedia, 13.07.13.

Pluto-Charon barycenter Earth-Moon barycenter

LEFT: Two bodies with a difference in mass orbiting a common barycenter external to both bodies, as in the Pluto–Charon system.
RIGHT: Two bodies with a major difference in mass orbiting a common barycenter (red cross) internal to one body, similar to the Earth–Moon system. Zhatt, Wikipedia, 18 August 2005.

The barycenter is the point between two objects where they balance each other; it is the center of mass where two or more celestial bodies orbit each other. When a moon orbits a planet, or a planet orbits a star, both bodies are actually orbiting around a point that lies away from the center of the primary (larger) body. For example, the Moon does not orbit the exact center of the Earth, but a point on a line between the center of the Earth and the Moon, approximately 1,710 km (1062 miles) below the surface of the Earth, where their respective masses balance. This is the point about which the Earth and Moon orbit as they travel around the Sun. If the masses are more similar, e.g., Pluto and Charon, the barycenter will fall outside both bodies.
Source: Center of mass, Wikipedia.
And see Earth-Moon Barycenter (video animation)

The Pluto[-Charon] Theme

A great deal has been written about the archetypal significance of Pluto in recent years, but I've come across little on the Pluto-Charon dynamic. The names are important here, too.

Shortly after the discovery of Pluto's moon by astronomer James Christy in 1978, Naval Observatory colleagues proposed the name Persephone1 but Christy preferred Charon, the
ferryman who carried the shades of the dead across the river Acheron (River of Sorrow); the first four letters of Charon also happened to match those in Christy's wife's first name, Charlene.2

NOTE: Charon also ferried across the rivers Lethe (River of Oblivion, Forgetfulness), Kokytos (River of Lamentation) and Styx (River of Hate), the latter two of which, in addition to the Pyriphlegethon (River of Fire), flow into the Acheron four of the five rivers surrounding the Underworld, Hades' domain.

What's in a name? Introduction of new astronomical bodies and the names officially applied to them by agreement of a few can proved problematic in psychological and archetypal astrology, where one might quickly generate interpretation and analysis that doesn't really fit, that in fact results in dissonance. I've certainly made judgments and predictions based on such variables, only to discover that my perspective was skewed by perceptual bias or other challenges not self-intimating — narcissistic traps, for example, as in the belief that one can know all, heal all, or love all. Introspective work in this evolving art relies strongly on the test of psychospiritual resonance, which militates against the possibility of bias but obviously does not eliminate it. Application of this material is idiosyncratic. What works for one may not work for another, or not in the same way. What can I say?  At the moment, Charon doesn't work for me as significator in this case — I feel no relationship. But the name is Charon...

Persephone seems better, feels "right", though that name was given to Asteroid 339, discovered on 23 February 1895 by German astronomer Max Wolf, who is credited with the discovery of some 248 asteroids.3,4  She is a much better fit with respect to origins and the base mythology where Hades, a name of dread that many preferred never pronounce, was referred to instead by euphemism such as Plouton (Πλούτων), "Giver of Wealth", a name Latinized as "Pluto".5  The tidal relation between the two bodies in this binary system better describes a dynamic tension, rather than a ferrying of souls. Persephone did not willingly submit but was bound to Hades and the Underworld because she tasted food, sweet pomegranate, after her abduction. In the Pluto-Charon system, neither body can be said to orbit the other — they are in a state of dynamic tension, gravitationally locked and facing each other, tidally engaged, completing a revolution every 6.387 days at an average of 19,570 kilometers (12,160 mi) distant from each other. It is this condition and circumstance that might contribute to our interpretation of Pluto in the radix. It goes to the essence of Pluto in astrological analysis.

Having favored Persephone in respect of Pluto's largest moon, I must add that I know of no archetype that precisely fits the circumstance seen in the Pluto system, and I currently work to positive effect with Asteroid 399 in chart analyses. It seems best to conceive of the binary as a dynamic singularity, here, in the sense of Yin and Yang, of TaiChi, though not precisely — as if the very fabric of reality were somehow engaged, beyond the personal.

The interpretation offered by Richard Tarnas with respect to Pluto seems to me most cogent, and I will refer again to his work when we get to Uranus, below. Pluto is best understood as

[...] the archetype of primordial energy, the universal life force which impels all evolution and transformation. Pluto represents the principle of power itself, of elemental force, of primal libido and aggression, and is essentially identical to Freud's notion of the id. It is the Dionysian energy of life, the Serpent power, the Kundalini. It compels, empowers, overwhelms, transforms; it destroys and resurrects. Pluto governs the instincts and the forces of nature. It rules the biological processes of birth, sex, and death, and at its deepest level it involves the mystery of death and rebirth.

Pluto rules upheaval, breakdown and decay, but also regeneration and the purifying fire of catharsis. It reflects the archetypal Underworld — the dark, mysterious, and often terrifying reality which lurks beneath the surface of things, beneath our ego and societal conventions and the veneer of civilization, and which is periodically unleashed with great destructive and transformative force. Many of the problematic instincts that lie deep within the human psyche, such as murderous hatred, violent jealousy, compulsive greed and lust and so forth, reflect the activity of Pluto: this is Freud's broiling cauldron of the instincts. Pluto is visible in the elemental power of a volcanic eruption, of a devouring lion, of a war, of an orgasm, of a mother in the climactic stages of giving birth. It is present in all violent, purgatorial discharge of pent-up energies — from the Earth as in an earthquake, or from the human body and psyche as in therapy or in a psychotic break. Pluto is in many ways the polar complement of Neptune — together they represent the great polarities of Dionysus and Apollo, the chthonic and the transcendent, the volcanic and the oceanic, nature and spirit, instinct and imagination. And, like Neptune, Pluto is unfathomable.

In terms of the archetypal birth process, Pluto corresponds to the stage in which the baby is being powerfully expelled from within the mother's body in a life-and-death struggle of bloody biology, when the erotic and aggressive instincts are being aroused to the utmost. Pluto thus has two sides, both expressed in the processes of Nature: a destructive side, personified as Kali, the Devouring Mother, and a creative side, personified as Shakti, the universal divine energy that impels all life and evolution. Pluto is what Schopenhauer and Nietzsche called the universal Will — at one level seeming to reflect only blind, driving instinct, at another possessing all the evolutionary intelligence of Nature, the divine Shakti. Pluto is Nature itself, life eternally transforming and overcoming itself in an immense evolutionary dynamic. [...]

The magnetic field of Uranus as observed by Voyager 2 in 1986. S and N are magnetic south and north poles. Stassats, Wikipedia, 9 November 2007.

An infrared composite image of the two hemispheres of Uranus obtained with Keck adaptive optics. [...] The North pole is at 4 o'clock.

The Uranus Theme

Uranus has an axial inclination of 97.77° and a corresponding rotational axis lying approximately in the same plane as the orbit, so, parallel the plane of the Solar System.7

In new research announced 6 October 2011, EPSC-DPS 2011/13: Series of bumps sent Uranus into its sideways spin, an international team of scientists led by Alessandro Morbidelli (Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur in Nice, France) presented finding that apparently solved this mystery.

Morbidelli and his team used simulations to reproduce various impact scenarios in order to ascertain the most likely cause of Uranus’ tilt. They discovered that if Uranus had been hit when still surrounded by a protoplanetary disk – the material from which the moons would form – then the disk would have reformed into a fat doughnut shape around the new, highly-tilted equatorial plane. Collisions within the disk would have flattened the doughnut, which would then go onto form the moons in the positions we see today.

However, the simulation threw up an unexpected result: in the above scenario, the moons displayed retrograde motion – that is to say, they orbited in the opposite direction to that which we observe. Morbidelli’s group tweaked their parameters in order to explain this. The surprising discovery was that if Uranus was not tilted in one go, as is commonly thought, but rather was bumped in at least two smaller collisions, then there is a much higher probability of seeing the moons orbit in the direction we observe.

This research is at odds with current theories of how planets form, which may now need adjusting. Morbidelli elaborates: “The standard planet formation theory assumes that Uranus, Neptune and the cores of Jupiter and Saturn formed by accreting only small objects in the protoplanetary disk. They should have suffered no giant collisions. The fact that Uranus was hit at least twice suggests that significant impacts were typical in the formation of giant planets. So, the standard theory has to be revised.”

Twenty-seven known moons, a unique inclination, an orientation at right-angle to the others, that sees through, goes through, works through. The significance of catalytic impacts in this orientation — change that represents change, no mere transformation but transmutation.

The clear consensus, writes Richard Tarnas, regarding the association of Uranus with Prometheus, is that the planet Uranus is empirically associated with the principle of change, rebellion, freedom, liberation, reform and revolution, and the unexpected break-up of structures; with excitement, sudden surprises, lightning-like flashes of insight, revelations and awakenings; and with intellectual brilliance, invention, creativity, originality, and individualism. In addition to the occurrence of sudden breakthroughs and liberating events, Uranus transits are linked to unpredictable and disruptive changes [...] Uranus is regarded as signifying the individualist, the genius, and the rebel.
Prometheus the Awakener, Auriel Press Oxford, 1993:11. See also Cosmos and Psyche, Plume, 2007:92-96.

Tarnas eruditely argues that Prometheus archetype is a far better archetypal fit for the planet than Ouranos.
In An Introduction to Archetypal Astrological Analysis he writes that:

Uranus represents the principle of change, of freedom, rebellion, and revolution. It is associated with unexpected phenomena of all kinds, with sudden surprises and awakenings, with breakthroughs — intellectual, psychological, spiritual. It governs the sudden breakup of established structures, and tends to have an exciting and electric quality. It also rules individualism and originality, invention and technology, creative genius and brilliant mental insight. The planet Uranus, the first planet to be discovered in modern times — in 1781, during an age of radical cultural change and revolution — can best be understood archetypally in terms of the Greek mythic figure of Prometheus, who stole fire from the heavens in rebellion against the gods to give humankind greater freedom.

The Promethean impulse associated with the planet Uranus represents that part of us that seeks to go our own way, to choose our own individual path in life. Its influence inclines one to be changeable, restless, and unpredictable — sometimes irresponsibly so — in a constant quest for personal freedom and new experience. Uranus also mediates creativity and innovation: in its less exalted forms it can signify only eccentricity or lawlessness, but in its highest expression it can indicate real genius, and a capacity for making significant personal or cultural breakthroughs in the course of one's life. The Prometheus archetype associated with the planet Uranus correlates with that stage in the archetypal birth process in which one is suddenly liberated from the constrictions of the birth canal and experiences sudden freedom, awakening, new life, new identity, a radical expansion of horizons: Prometheus Unbound.

There is another side to this archetype's energy, however, which can make the experience of Uranus a very different matter. When a person has not integrated the Promethean impulse toward creative freedom, autonomous individualism, and capacity for change, there is a strong tendency to experience this archetype as something that happens to one from without in upsetting, disruptive ways. That is, instead of being ourselves a source of change and independence and excitement, we may tend to have change and unpredictable events thrust upon us, so that we are forced to open up our life to new horizons and new possibilities. Uranus thus confronts the Saturnian part of us that wishes to hold on, to maintain the status quo, to resist change in favor of security, tradition, and the established order.

The rebel-trickster side of the Prometheus archetype can thus come from within or without, and in the latter case a person can feel constantly subject to problematic changes that require one to reorient one's life. Whether these changes are precipitated by other people, by new psychological or physical conditions, or by external circumstances, their role is to open one's life to something new. If one is identified excessively with the past, if one tries to hold on to structures that are outmoded, then one will experience Uranus as a disruptive force that at times can be quite uncomfortable. But the potential is always there for one to integrate the archetype, and for one to contact one’s own capacity for freedom and excitement, for openness to the unexpected and the new.

Combined Themes and Aspect Patterns

In my radix, Uranus and Pluto are parallel and present in psychodynamic context with all the intensity described above. I can appreciate the complexities of the ♅ ☐ ♇ chart, but discussion becomes increasingly abstract in the absence of application. Pluto and Uranus represent two powerful transformational systems but, to make sense of them in this instance, I have to relate the ♅ ☐ ♇ chart to my radix. That's where I'm feeling it, that's where I can best make sense of it's significance.

So, the illustration at sets the ♅ ☐ ♇ chart within my radix. I'm internalizing, yes, but what's really happening is internal. Pluto-Charon...

There's a tremendous amount of information here — far more than I can describe and assess in a few sentences. What I'm feeling is a bi-directional shift, a penetration and a blasting away; yet there's also a sense of quiet calm, of inner support, of "transpersonation", of becoming something not centered on "I". An entire administrative framework is being replaced.

Wont to focus on my inner work, my studies and structures, life is lived in the comparative isolation and limited opportunity of the monastery, in other dimensions. Uranus tenants the 12th and there will remain. I would write that doors and windows are opening everywhere, but the process is far more world-changing for me than that, vibrating from deep within. I am entered, and an immanent energy flows...

But perhaps I'm being too dramatic. There's a awesome wind outside as I write this, blowing from from the SW at 41kph, gusts to 75kph. Time for a long walk...