Articles

Is Pluto Still A Planet?

Today, August 24th, 2006, the International Astronomical Union or IAU "demoted" Pluto from being a planet to being what they call a "dwarf planet." Not only will this affect uncountable millions of schoolbooks around the world but science museums and planetariums all over will need to make adjustments as well.

Of course this has consequences for astrologers too, as now we will be asked more frequently: "Why do you bother to work with Pluto when it is not even a planet!?"

Pluto was discovered in 1930 and perhaps a decade or so after that, empirical information was beginning to accumulate among astrologers, knowledge that described how Pluto's movements through the Zodiac were reflected in historical events, as well as in personal horoscopes. In the sixty-five years or so since then, we have a very good idea of what Pluto represents as an archetypal force and we can justifiably call him the Lord of the Underworld.

Anyone who has had a reading with me will be aware of how Pluto works within them. To me, in fact, not using Pluto in my charts would be akin to denying that I have a nose. Pluto gives us extraordinary insights into the most profound regions of our psyche. For more on this you might be interested in my article on Pluto (this is a PDF file).

The more experienced an astrologer becomes, the more empirical data he or she collects. This information becomes part of the knowledge that he passes on to his clients. I have been working with Pluto for 29 years and can easily say that Pluto's participation in my readings is absolutely crucial.

For astrologers in general I will say that it does not matter what 5% of the world's Astronomers vote on. They do not agree amongst themselves and the battle over Pluto's rank is still raging. Besides that, astrologers are used to calling the Sun and the Moon planets too, that is a convention among us. We are not looking for a scientific definition as the astronomers are but rather for a metaphorical meaning of the heavenly bodies. IAU or not, this vote will not affect us at all except for more questions coming our way as to how we are responding to this change.

On a more philosophical note, at this time Neptune (dissolving, imagining, mystery, dreaming and confusion) and Saturn (rules, limits, focus and boundaries) are at odds in the sky in a rare opposition. Is it any wonder then that the rules about things are confusing right now? Think about the rules of engagement in Lebanon for the UN troops, or think about the rules (Saturn) of what liquids (Neptune) you can bring onto an airplane - or think about the highly confusing rules of what makes a planet a planet. One thing is for sure: this is not the final word on Pluto from astronomers. If they had more astrological knowledge, perhaps they would have chosen a better time to make their ruling! Meanwhile, we astrologers will happily go about our work.

If you care to listen to Rob Hand's interview on this matter at NPR, go here.