At this writing (early 2004), we have about four more years of Pluto through Sagittarius, four more years to get our collective values straight. This transit has a lot to accomplish, and when it’s over it will not be back for a while. Every two and a half centuries, when Pluto goes into Sagittarius, the world is given thirteen years to re-establish its essential values.For the past couple of millennia, the business of establishing essential group values has belonged more-or-less exclusively to religion. In the Holy Roman Empire, this was simple: there was only one Church in town. There was just one definition of Right-and-Wrong. There was no confusion about what was moral and what wasn’t; it was all written down. One True Faith: the no-nonsense solution to the Sagittarius problem of establishing an ethical consensus. Things have gotten rather more complicated since then, and not just because we have several One True Faiths competing for the title.
Pluto, which leaves nothing at face value, is asking us to dig down into the essence of the sign of religion. The first question we should be asking is: Why is Sagittarius the sign of religion? What is Sagittarian about religion, or about academics or philosophy or long distance travel? What are the core impulses that drive this sign?
To get to the heart of an astrological symbol, we need to go back to its elemental definition: Sagittarius is a fire sign in mutable mode. Fire signs are about passion, not reason. Though it often comes across as intellectual, Sagittarius is not really interested in ideas; it is interested in ideals. Ideas are dry and impersonal, whereas ideals engage the heart.1
Spiritual impulses number among the pursuits Sagittarius rules, but an idea does not have to have God in it to be Sagittarian. Secular social expressions of Sagittarius existed long before the Church’s monopoly on higher truth, and have been proliferating since the Age of Rationalism broke up the monopoly.
So what makes an ideology Sagittarian? Sagittarian visions are more ambitious than mere mental constructs (air); they are felt to be pathways to righteousness (fire). The directionality of fire is out and up. A Sagittarian idea is one which promises to expand the perspective outwards and lift the spirit upwards.
A Sagittarian idea may be brilliant, wildly subjective or completely insane; Sagittarius does not subject its inspirations to gradations of workability or logic. Eugenics is an example of Sagittarius applied to race; manifest destiny is an example of Sagittarius applied to geography. The defining feature of this sign is neither the cleverness of its ideas nor their empirical validity, but the fervor with which they are espoused. Sagittarius governs not facts and figures, but belief systems.
Pluto has been in Sagittarius since 1995, intensifying belief systems from the aboriginal (paganism) to the mainstream (American Protestantism) all over the globe. We would do well to remember that a do-or-die extremism characterizes whatever sign Pluto occupies. As the transit has destined, we’re all warriors for the truth these days, whatever we fancy the truth to be. Palestinian self-determinationists, Zionists and Right-to-Lifers all wield the fiery sword.
Particularly remarkable is the transit’s galvanization of a couple of areas which are usually thought of as resolutely secular: politics and money.
In American public discourse, Pluto has turned even the most intellectually vacant viewpoint into a great Right-and-Wrong crusade. We now hear the word “evil” invoked as often in international commentary as we do in Sunday school. Where governments once accused each other of being in breach of international law, now they accuse each other of being in breach of divine law. Even the hapless gods of enemy combatants are being impugned by our military leaders as being less “real” than our own. Every public figure with an agenda is bearing the cross and prosylitizing the word.
Even more noteworthy is the way the transit has been stirring the loins of those whose holy grail is financial power.
In the chart of the USA, Pluto resides natally in the 2nd house of material resources, which poses a particularly knotty problem for the world from the point of view of ecological survival. The current transit has transformed greed, which has always been our national liability, into a religion. The talisman of this religion is oil.
Plutonian operations are not pretty. When expressed with a low level of consciousness, the Dark God lays to waste whatever it touches. Pluto in Sagittarius signals a great macro-cyclic bomb shelling of old versions of Truth in order to clear the stage for new ones. At this point in the 21st century, the towers crashing down are temple and church spires: doddering old ideologies which have lost their vitality. The religions we see faltering are those whose ethical logic cannot withstand modernity; otherwise even Pluto would be unable to get rid of them.
Today’s gay-marriage resisters and abstinence-only promoters are in the same club as the bearded old theologians calling for the stoning of prostitutes: they are fighting for viewpoints which are past their expiration date. By Plutonian Law, anything that has outlived its usefulness must undergo the throes of death, which, unless welcomed with grace, can bring out the ugliest in any creature.
1. It might seem logical to give secular thinking to Gemini and religious thinking to Sagittarius, but the idea is prompted by societal-specific considerations rather than archetypal ones. That there is any distinction between spiritual search and the rest of life is a cultural construct. The rigorous imposition of a separation between the sacred and the profane was a Judeo/Christian/Islamic invention, a strategy of theocratic power, not a reflection of some inherent conflict in the human mind. The true distinction between Gemini and Sagittarius has to do with the automatic, analytic mind as opposed to the synthetic mind; and with particular information as opposed to overviews.