(first published by “The Astrological Journal”, Volume 56-Number 1, January/February 2014, p. 35-39. Dr. Vangelis Petritsis was awarded the fourth prize for this essay at the 2013 Young Astrologers Essay Contest organized by the Astrological Association of Great Britain.)
Economic crisis, governmental scandals, deposits haircut, prosecutions against politicians, along with deaths and resignations of political and religious leaders are now part of our daily life and news. All these phenomena seem to greatly reflect Pluto’s transit through the sign of Capricorn and could even be harbingers of events that could mark the end of capitalism as we know it… One will understand the relationship between Pluto in Capricorn and the potential end of capitalism when they first consider the concepts which Pluto and the sign of Capricorn have been associated with. In examining these concepts we follow a basic astrological principle according to which planets symbolize human needs and motivations, whereas zodiac signs depict not only the ways in which these needs are expressed but also the goals these needs aim for.
We begin by analyzing the kind of needs and motivations Pluto represents and, consequently, go on to explain Capricorn’s end goals and ways of being. The analysis is done on both a psychological and a mundane level and helps us postulate a number of hypotheses on the ways in which Pluto’s needs and motivations can be expressed during its transit through the sign of Capricorn from 2008 until 2024. In order to provide more concrete examples, we focus on the mundane associations of Pluto in Capricorn and report news evidence in support of the postulated hypotheses. Finally, we argue that this transit marks a very important period in world history similar to the period that preceded the French Revolution.
What does Pluto symbolize?
Being the god of the underworld in ancient Greek mythology, Pluto is associated with the cycle of death and rebirth. Therefore, it symbolizes our need for purification via destruction of what is rotten; our need for purging through elimination of what is putrid; our need for transformation through collapse and crisis that lead to lasting change. Moreover, being responsible for Persephone’s abduction, Pluto is also associated with sexual attraction, passion and emotional intensity; it also symbolizes our need for power and control, which can however take the form of oppression, persecution, violence and blackmail. Thus, the darkest planet of our solar system could not help but represent our most intimate and destructive instincts as well as our need for underground action that involves corruption, scandals and anything we would prefer to keep buried and secret from others.
On a mundane level, the fact that Pluto’s discovery in 1930 coincided with the aftermath of the 1929 financial crash linked this planet to bankruptcy; financial resources and institutions; banks; capital; investments; taxation; loans and debts. Moreover, Pluto’s discovery coincided with the rise of Nazism in Germany and thus led to Pluto being identified with fascism, crime and mass extermination. Also, because of its association with the underworld, Pluto is the planet most related to the depths and subsoil of the earth and to whatever lies beneath the surface, such as oil, mineral wealth, volcano lava and the Earth nucleus. Finally, Pluto’s connection to the plutonium element and nuclear energy is automatic.
What does Capricorn symbolize?
The sign of Capricorn, on the other hand, is the tenth zodiac sign starting from Aries and is also the sign that introduces the cold and, in many respects, restrictive season of winter. Capricorn is thus expected to make rational use of material resources in order to remain self-sufficient in the face of winter’s adversity. Consequently, Capricorn’s mode of expression comprises rationality, conservatism, moderation and reluctance. Capricorn is restrictive, austere and strict too. The vicissitudes of winter can also easily cause fear and insecurity because of one’s potential failure to preserve their resources. Therefore, the challenge of this zodiac sign is to transform fears into ambitions and failures into success; and all this through hard work, entrepreneurship, discipline and patience, just like a goat manages to conquer the peaks of craggy mountains. Hence, the capricornian goals for power, dominance, prestige and high social status. Oftentimes, these goals are achieved through social recognition provided by one’s career and professional life, which makes this sign act with professionalism, responsibility, seriousness and adherence to rules and conventions.
On a mundane level, the example of the goat climbing and conquering the mountain (i.e., achieving power and control) explains Capricorn’s connection to governments, states, regimes, society’s highest echelons and the system itself. Capricorn is also associated with authority figures, presidents, prime ministers, governors, politicians, leaders, and people in managerial positions. It is generally linked to anyone at the top of any kind of hierarchy. Given that nothing stays hidden from view at the top of the mountain, Capricorn is also associated with public life, while entrepreneurship directly links this sign with business. Finally, the sign’s restrictive and controlling expression associates Capricorn with any kind of controlling and auditing mechanisms.
What does Pluto in Capricorn symbolize?
It follows from the analysis above that the function of Pluto in Capricorn is anything but smooth. How is it possible for a secretive and underground planet to feel comfortable in the highest mountain peaks of Capricorn? One is thus urged to think that with Pluto in Capricorn the world has literally come upside (Capricorn) down (Pluto)! One could also liken this planetary position to a mountain (Capricorn) of debts, scandals and corruption (Pluto). Let us though put the associations of Pluto and Capricorn together and thus postulate hypotheses as to how Pluto could manifest itself in everyday life as it transits the sign of Capricorn:
- Failing banks and financial institutions
- Austere finances and taxation
- Limited investments and flow of capital
- State and governmental debts and loans
- Fears of bankruptcy and nuclear energy
- Crisis and corruption in business and public life
- Scandals about authority figures and people in managerial positions
- Death, elimination or persecution of leaders and of other high-status individuals
- Crisis in the highest ranks of any kind of hierarchy (political, religious, social, financial, etc)
- Political and systemic crisis and transformation
- Destruction and regeneration of the system itself
- Decay of corrupt regimes
- State violence
This is not an exhaustive list, as one can think of many other ways in which the plutonian and capricornian energies could combine, but most people are likely to see in this list an abbreviated picture of what our world has been going through for the past five years. Let us give some concrete examples that lend support to the above hypotheses regarding Pluto in Capricorn.
- Failing banks, fears of bankruptcy, and state debts and loans
The entrance of Pluto in Capricorn in 2008 heralded what the IMF dubbed “the deepest (Pluto) post-World War II recession (Capricorn) by far1”; a recession that started with failing banks and governmental bailouts, and continued with indebted states and financial cuts. Beginning with massive losses at several U.S. mortgage banks at the end of 2007, right when Pluto was about to enter Capricorn, the crisis peaked in September 2008 following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the multi-billion dollar rescue of Merill Lynch and the giant insurance firm AIG2.
Soon after that, on October 3rd, 2008, the U.S. Congress approved a $700 billion bailout, which constituted one of the biggest financial rescues in U.S. history3. Ever since then, such bankruptcy-rescue packages have also been extended to hugely indebted states that have had to announce many austerity measures to cope with the terms of these packages. First on the list was Hellas (Greece) with Ireland and Portugal joining later4. For other European states, including Spain and Cyprus, solutions such as deposits haircut5 and the Eurozone rescue fund6 haven’t still mitigated fears of bankruptcy in Europe.
- Crisis in business
Pluto in Capricorn reflects crisis in business, which translates into raising rates of unemployment. Hellas is in its sixth year of the worst recession a country has ever seen since World War II7. As a matter of fact, Hellas and Spain have the highest unemployment rates in the European Union with more than a quarter of their population being out of work. Meanwhile, with 12.1% of its population (nearly 20 million people) not having a job as of March 2013, the Eurozone has hit an unemployment record since it was founded in 19998. Moreover, examples of crisis at the top of the business hierarchy can be seen in the cases of BP Oil Company and airlines whose vehicles move quite literally on ‘top of the world’ (Capricorn).
Specifically, on April 20th 2010, an explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico caused a huge oil spill that temporarily wiped out half the company’s value; the total cost of the disaster has amounted so far to more than $40 bn9. A month earlier than the oil spill, a volcanic ash cloud that ensued from the eruption of an Icelandic volcano caused flight chaos and forced temporary airspace closures across Northern Europe; at its height, the ‘crisis’ affected nearly a third of global flights, while the flight disruptions cost airlines around $2 bn10. It is worth noting that both oil and volcanoes are associated with Pluto, a planet further associated with nuclear power: it thus seems that it is not a coincidence that two years ago an 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan, one of the greatest in human history, and the concomitant release of nuclear energy from the Fukushima power plant re-awoke nuclear (Pluto) fears (Capricorn) around the world11.
- Corruption in business, governmental scandals and persecution of leaders and of other high-status individuals
A further manifestation of Pluto in Capricorn is business corruption in conjunction with governmental scandals and persecution not only of politicians but also of authority figures and people in managerial positions. For example, a corruption scandal, where Siemens, one of the most important German companies, bribed Greek officials, has led to the imposition of hefty fines against the company12. Furthermore, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is involved in a scandal with L’Oréal’s billionaire heiress Bettencourt, one of the richest women in France, because he allegedly received illegal funding from her for his election campaign in 2007. The formal investigation started last March and, even if it turns out that Sarkozy is innocent, the blow to his image is such that it will be extremely hard for him to return to French politics13.
Moreover, former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has also been involved in various sexual and political scandals in recent years and there have already been convictions against him. One of the most characteristic scandals is the ‘Ruby scandal’ and the ‘donation’ of $ 60,000 to an underage exotic dancer14; last March he was also convicted and sentenced to one year of imprisonment over an illegal wiretap15. Additionally, the previous British Parliament, elected in 2005 and dismissed in 2010, was dubbed ‘the Rotten (Pluto) Parliament (Capricorn)’, because of a series of allegedly misused expense claims; this political scandal resulted in a number of resignations, prosecutions and imprisonment sentences16. In Hellas too there have been several cases that exemplify the effect of Pluto in Capricorn: the unprecedented life sentence of former mayor of Hellas’ second city Thessaloniki, Mr. Papageorgopoulos, for embezzlement17 and the eight-year sentence of ex-minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos for tax fraud18.
Besides politicians, Pluto’s persecution is directed generally against people who are in managerial positions (Capricorn) as is demonstrated by the recent fact that former bank executives in Iceland have been brought to trial19. More specifically, last March fraud charges were announced against nine former senior staff of the former largest bank in Iceland, Kaupthing, for engineering five large-scale market manipulation conspiracies. It would be a pity not to also mention here the infamous sex scandal of 2011 that sent Dominique Strauss-Kahn temporarily in jail over charges of attempted rape. This cost him both the leadership of the International Monetary Fund and the presidential nomination in the French elections of 201220.
Nevertheless, the scandals that Pluto in Capricorn brings to the surface haven’t left the religious leadership unaffected. More specifically, last February we all experienced the unprecedented resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, who claimed that he was unable to continue due to his fragile health21. However, critics have attributed his resignation to a certain inability to handle the scandal of child sex abuse by Catholic priests in that he failed to take appropriate action against bishops and priests who abused children or hid the culprits. Apart from the historic resignation of former Pope, Pluto in Capricorn seems to affect even the prestige of people who are considered holy such as Mother Teresa. It was only last March when Canadian scientists published a piece of research that aimed at debunking her myth. The researchers argue that careful analysis of the data leads to the conclusion that the hallowed image was made up and that her beatification was orchestrated by the media22.
- Systemic crisis, leaders’ deaths and decay of corrupt regimes
Pluto in Capricorn can also reflect systemic destruction and regeneration; in other words, transformation and catharsis of corrupt regimes around the world by means of crisis. One could further say that Pluto in Capricorn reflects elimination of old and rotten political structures that have outlived their purpose, so that new and healthier structures can be established. The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ launched two years ago is an excellent example of this very process: corrupt Arab regimes and dictatorships collapsed like a house of cards beginning with Tunisia and Egypt. Libyans and people in Yemen, Syria and other Arab countries followed and tried to throw off the yoke of oppression and fear. In Libya state violence on the part of long-serving dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi ended with his execution, while in Syria the civil war still continues23.
In line with Gaddafi’s execution, the systemic destruction and regeneration that Pluto in Capricorn calls for is sometimes brought about through the death or elimination of leaders and other high-status individuals. Relevant examples include the elimination of al-Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin Laden24 in May 2011 as well as the Polish Air Force crash25 in April 2010. The crash led to the death of many Polish authority figures, including the Polish President and his wife; the President of the National Bank of Poland; government officials; members of the Polish Parliament and senior members of the Polish army and clergy. It is worth noting that in the case of this accident death (Pluto) occurred on an airplane, a vehicle that moves literally on top of the world (Capricorn)… Four more deaths in spring 2013 are among the list of deaths of leaders and people who are at the top of any kind of hierarchy: Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky committed suicide26; Hugo Chavez, fourteen-year-long President of Venezuela, died of cancer27; Margaret Thatcher, the very symbol of neo-liberalism, died of a stroke following several years of poor health28; and Giulio Andreotti, Italy’s former seven-time premier and most representative politician of post-war Italy who survived a series of corruption scandals and allegations of helping the Mafia, died at his home in Rome29.
If, however, Pluto in Capricorn signifies systemic destruction and regeneration, could it also be the harbinger of the end of capitalism? We definitely cannot make any such predictions. After all, let us not forget that Pluto in Capricorn can be interpreted as state violence, which means that the system and its representatives are generally still in control. One thing is for sure: by the end of Pluto’s transit through Capricorn many political transformations will have taken place. Rotten political structures will have been eliminated and replaced with new and healthier ones. Given that these transformations (Pluto) affect those already in power (Capricorn), let us not be surprised if the crisis hits even harder those at the top of the global hierarchy, that is, the USA, the European Union and Japan. After all, the USA were the first to be hit following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the housing bubble that led millions of Americans to lose their homes, jobs or both. The European Union and the Eurozone are also teetering on the brink of an uncontrollable debt crisis, the repercussions of which we cannot even begin to imagine.
Conclusion: Radical changes
It seems that it will take a lot of time until the regeneration of the system is complete. Besides, Pluto will remain in the sign of Capricorn until about 2024 and it will form several aspects with other planets. It is worth noting here a few words about the square (the 90° aspect) that Pluto receives from transiting Uranus in Aries. The aspect was exact early last year for the first time and it will be exact a few more times until 2015. This square aspect signifies radical changes (Pluto) through intense and vehement (square in cardinal signs) revolutions and uprisings (Uranus). This is definitely consistent with the Arab Spring mentioned above. Let us remember, however, that the last time Pluto was in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries in square aspect (though not exact) to each other was in 1763.
That year the British rule was established in the USA following the end of the French and Indian war. However, the involvement of Great Britain in that war was so costly that harsh taxation was imposed against American citizens for the cost to be recovered. It was these strict fiscal measures that led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and the subsequent secession of the American colonies from the British Empire through the Declaration of American Independence in 1776 while Pluto was still in Capricorn.
Given that nowadays it is the American and European leaders and their institutions (e.g., IMF, World Bank and European Central Bank) that impose harsh fiscal measures, could this mean that it won’t be long before people rebel against their leaders to proclaim their full independence and brotherhood? As a matter of fact, the new Italian government was sworn in last April while an unemployed man injured two military police officers and a passer-by in his attempt to shoot at politicians30. Could then the Arab Spring be a precursor of similar regime subversions within both Europe and the USA? Should we also expect secession of countries from the Eurozone/European Union and of states from the USA similarly to what happened in 1776 with the secession of the American colonies from the British Empire?
In any case, we are living historic moments. Besides, let us not forget that a few years after the Declaration of American Independence the French Revolution took place, which marked the dawn of the modern era, an era characterized by growth of republics and liberal democracies. Pluto was then in Aquarius and will return there in 2024 to possibly help us (re)discover our collective (Aquarius) power (Pluto) in order to perform revolutionary (Aquarius) changes (Pluto). Pluto in Capricorn thus seems to reflect all those processes necessary for the regeneration of the system to be complete, so that we can live in a much more democratic world from 2024 onwards. History will tell!
1 “World Economic Outlook: Crisis and Recovery, April 2009”. At http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/01/pdf/text.pdf (page 13)
2 “Timeline: Credit crunch to downturn” at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7521250.stm
3 “Bush enacts historic financial rescue” at http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2008-10-04/business/36908766_1_credit-crisis-president-bush-financial-markets
4 “EU austerity drive country by country” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10162176
5 “Q&A: Cyprus deal” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21922110
6 “Eurozone rescue fund launched” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19868868
7 “Sixth year of recession looms for Greece” at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sixth-year-of-recession-looms-for-greece-8193209.html
8 “Eurozone unemployment at record high as inflation drops” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22353726
9 “BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill: Counting fallout costs” at http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/462933/20130430/bp-deepwater-horizon-oil-spill-cost.htm
10 “Flight disruptions cost airlines $1.7 bn, says IATA” at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8634147.stm
11 “Japan earthquake: Explosion at Fukushima nuclear plant” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12720219
12 “Debt crisis: Greek government signs €330m settlement with Siemens” at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9502146/Debt-crisis-Greek-government-signs-330m-settlement-with-Siemens.html
13 “Nicolas Sarkozy to be investigated in Bettencourt scandal” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21889993
14 “Silvio Berlusconi paid £50,000 in legal fees to Nicole Minetti” at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/silvio-berlusconi/9202701/Silvio-Berlusconi-paid-50000-in-legal-fees-to-Nicole-Minetti.html
15 “Silvio Berlusconi convicted over Italy wiretap” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21698802
16 “General election 2010: Good riddance to the Rotten Parliament” at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7573025/General-Election-2010-Good-riddance-to-the-Rotten-Parliament.html
17 “Greek ex-mayor jailed for life for embezzlement” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21608709
18 “Greek ex-minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos imprisoned for eight years for tax fraud” at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/04/former-greek-minister-akis-tsohatzopoulos-jailed
19 “Icelandic bank Kaupthing’s top executives indicted over market rigging” at http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/mar/19/kaupthing-executives-indicted-for-market-rigging
20 “Profile: Dominique Strauss-Khan” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13405268
21 “Profile: Pope Benedict XVI” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11141340
22 “Mother Teresa: anything but a saint…” at http://www.nouvelles.umontreal.ca/udem-news/news/20130301-mother-teresa-anything-but-a-saint.html
23 “Arab uprisings: 10 key moments” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20626645
24 “Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda leader, dead – Barack Obama” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13256676
25 “2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Polish_Air_Force_Tu-154_crash
26 “Boris Berezovsky died by hanging, police say” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21934079
27 “Hugo Chavez: Global reaction” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-21678114
28 “Ex-Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher dies, aged 87” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22067155
29 “Giulio Andreotti, former Italian prime minister, dies aged 94” at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/06/giulio-andreotti-italian-pm-dies
30 “3 Shot near Premier’s office as Italy’s Cabinet is sworn in” at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/world/europe/2-officers-shot-as-italys-government-sworn-in.html?_r=0
Born in Athens in 1982, Dr. Vangelis Petritsis has a first-class degree in Psychology, a Masters in Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, and a PhD in Social Psychology. Part of his doctoral research has been published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin under the title “Why Men (and Women) Do and Don’t Rebel? Effects of System Justification on Willingness to Protest”. He is a Certificate Holder from the Faculty of Astrological Studies and practices astro-psychological counseling in Athens coupled with Dr. Bach’s flower remedies.