For Tracy Marks, the experience of Pluto, both by natal placement and transit, demands “handling intensity, finding an outlet, experiencing power.” In The Astrology of Self-Discovery, she writes that the powerless and consequent need to dominate associated with Pluto carries us through an underworld from which we can emerge stripped of all of our pretenses and now fully armed to meet life from our deepest core of inner strength. The death and rebirth energy often cited in descriptions of Pluto transits exists to bring us face-to-face with our darkest fears and to understand we can survive once everything else we cling to is gone.
The chart of Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, tells of a Plutonian journey. Born at the rare Neptune and Pluto conjunction in Gemini, Bill W. was part of a very stressed-out generation who were shipped off to the unbearably brutal trenches of World War I and then as middle-aged adults had to support families in the depths of the Great Depression. Bill W.’s Neptune-Pluto conjunction squared his sensitive Pisces Moon and revealed a powerlessness around the alcohol he craved to escape the pain of his existence. “Learning to live with the intense heat of feeling” is part of the Pluto experience, Marks writes. Bill W. drank compulsively to numb the pain and depression he experienced until his career and health were damaged nearly beyond repair. He went to rehab four times, and the last time he was told he would either die or be forced to live in institutional care for the rest of his life due to “wet brain.” “Obsessions usually occur when we do not consciously choose a channel for the intense amount of energy boiling within our subconscious,” Marks tells us, and the challenge under a Pluto transit is to find a constructive channel for our energy.
With the last consciousness Bill W. had remaining, he called out to God, telling him he would do anything if only God would show himself. Bill W. then had the sense of white light and was immediately at peace. He would never drink again. His Neptune-Pluto conjunction was in the 9th house, referred to by ancient astrologers as “the house of God.” At the time of his spiritual awakening, Pluto had moved to 25 degrees of Cancer, in an exact trine to his Pisces Moon.
Grateful for his sobriety, Bill W. tried to help other alcoholics but was not successful. He could only keep himself sober. But, over the next few years, as Pluto entered Bill W.’s 11th house where Jupiter in its joy resides, he reached out to another recovering alcoholic, Bob S. Together, the gathered together other men suffering from alcoholism, and learned that, together, they could tell their stories and help each other on the path to sobriety. Bill W. had found that constructive channel for his “burning energy.”
Tracy Marks offers us the third gift of a Pluto transit, that of finding our dynamic core of personal power. After we relinquish our old destructive desires and impulses, we find a strength we never knew existed. Bill W., a humbled man who was only one drink away from falling again, had the power within him to co-found a world-wide movement, Alcoholics Anonymous, leading millions of people from the darkness into light. This is the purpose of a Pluto journey, to discover that the power of death is to open the world for new life.