Transpluto Part 2: The Persephone Connection

[Note: This article was originally published on astrologer Robert Phoenix's website at www.robertphoenix.com. You can view the original article with commentary here.]

Transpluto Part 2: The Persephone Connection 

In my last article, I wrote about my initial discovery and experience with Transpluto in my own life story and natal chart. This second piece serves as a continuation of the first, taking a more in-depth look at Transpluto and this outermost planet’s connection with Persephone, wife of Pluto and maiden goddess of the Underworld.

Transpluto and Persephone

In his earlier years, astrologer and theosophist Dane Rudhyar discussed the future discovery of a Transplutonian planet connected to both the Eleusinian Mysteries and the Sphinx. Rudhyar believed this planet to be “Proserpine,” or Persephone, ancient Goddess of the Underworld and the cyclical nature of our existence. Unlike astrologer Lynn Koiner, who believes perfectionist Transpluto to be the true ruler of Virgo, Rudhyar believed Persephone/Transpluto would find exaltation in the sign of Virgo, and connected her to the experience of greater life. Once discovered, Persephone/Transpluto would become the symbolic rebirth, providing a foundation for a new form of human existence in which the duality of life and death would be transcended, leading to a shift in consciousness enabling us to move between the experiences of both cyclically, without loss of identity. In essence, Persephone represents the next stage in our evolution and the stage of consciousness bringing us into what is often referred to as the “New” or “Aquarian Age.”

While there are many versions of the Persephone myth, many of us are most familiar with the version detailing the kidnapping and “rape” of the maiden Goddess Persephone by her counterpart, Pluto, Ruler of the Underworld. 

For those who are unfamiliar, the kidnap-and-rape version of Persephone’s myth goes something like this:

The beautiful maiden Goddess Persephone is born of Demeter, the Goddess of agriculture, and Zeus, the patriarchal king of the Gods. The beautiful Persephone is very close with her mother, Demeter, so much so that they are essentially inseparable. For whatever reason, Pluto, the Ruler of the Underworld, has his eye on Persephone. One day Pluto conspires with his brother Zeus, to arrange for the kidnap of the beautiful maiden Persephone to be taken down into the underworld to rule alongside Pluto as his wife. Together Pluto and Zeus convince the Earth Mother Goddess Gaia to get on board with their plan and assist in luring Persephone into the underworld. In doing so, Gaia creates a beautiful flower called the Narcissi, and the beauty and intrigue of this unique flower becomes irresistible to the innocent and naïve nature-loving Persephone. 

One day, Persephone is away from Demeter in a field somewhere picking flowers with her Nymph friends when she comes across the overwhelmingly beautiful and unfamiliar flower, which had been created by Gaia just for her. She picks the flower, and suddenly the Earth begins to quake and open up beneath her feet. Uncle Pluto arises from the underworld to snatch up Persephone, who then becomes his wife and assists him in receiving and initiating the dead. Demeter is enraged and devastated at the loss of her daughter and, in protest of the grave injustice suffered at the will of Zeus, she refuses to let the crops continue to grow, and the Earth becomes barren. After several months, the humans begin to die off and the Gods are feeling worried. With no humans left, there will be no one to give offerings to the Gods, and as a result, they too will perish. The Gods get together and convince Demeter to return the surface of the Earth to its once fertile state, but only under the condition that Pluto releases her daughter. Pluto agrees to allow Persephone to return to the surface, but since she has eaten a few pomegranate seeds, the food of the dead, she must split her time between her husband and her mother, spending several months out of the year in the underworld with Pluto, receiving and initiating the dead each winter while Demeter mourns her loss, eagerly awaiting her return each spring.

Given the mythology, if we were to support the theory that Transpluto is, in fact, Persephone, then it would be safe to assume that many of the themes present in the Persephone myth would come through in the lives of individuals with a strong Transpluto placement in the natal chart. 

Well, interestingly enough, one such example of the Persephone connection recently happened to fall into my lap when I was invited to interpret the chart of someone quite close to my husband and I.

Case Study: Tara's Chart

Tara has Transpluto conjunct her Ascendant within a two degree orb at 21 degrees Leo. This placement not only puts Transpluto on her Ascendant at the onset of her 1st house, it also puts the theoretical planet in conjunction with her south node, squaring Pluto in Scorpio in her 4th house. As far as Lynn Koiner’s interpretation of Transpluto goes, Tara is a wonderful example of the critical, self-sufficient, perfectionist Transpluto influence. Her warm, dramatic, passionate Leo ascendant is flavored with the flawless outer appearance characteristic of a Virgo rising sign. She is a perfectionist by nature, owing her desire to be a strong, independent, self-sufficient young woman to both the direct and indirect influence of her mother. But below the surface of this apparent air of “put-togetherness” lies a challenging, deeply transformative Persephone experience that is very much responsible for making Tara the strong-willed young lady she is today. In many ways, Tara has unknowingly embodied the story of Persephone, both literally and figuratively.

At 16 years old, Tara was living in her family home under the care of her mother and her mother’s loving partner, Paul. Tara’s biological father had skipped out on her family many years ago, and Paul had since taken on the responsibility of aiding in the care of Tara and her older brother. While they had spent many years together, Tara’s mother had yet to marry Paul, as she had decided to wait until both of her children had grown up and graduated from high school. That day was soon approaching, and Tara’s mother and Paul awaited their upcoming nuptials in quiet anticipation. 

One cold November night, Tara’s mother died quite suddenly of a heart attack. Her mother had planned ahead responsibly and taken out a lofty life insurance policy to be sure her family would be well cared-for long after her passing. Seeing an opportunity for financial gain amidst the tragedy of Tara’s mother’s death, Tara’s biological father came back into the picture. Just as suddenly as her mother’s passing, Tara was ripped from the only home and family she’s ever known to live with her Uncle Jimmy and his mail-order bride, miles away from her school and her community. Tara’s biological father had conspired with her uncle to create this arrangement in order to gain custody of Tara and control over her inheritance. For the four months of winter Tara blankly existed in her own personal hell. Her uncle’s family arrogantly believed her to be ungrateful for their assistance, and thus treated her poorly, but from Tara’s vantagepoint she had been forcefully taken into Pluto’s underworld with no means for escape. Come spring, Tara’s brother had been awarded custody of Tara after a particularly messy legal battle against their biological father. She emerged in the spring into a bizarre variation of the reality she once new, and from that point on she began to flourish. Tara has become a fiercly independent, strong young woman who recognizes her own power and knows how to use it. At the young age of 25, she’s already seen success beyond her years and, with a heavy 6th house influence in her chart, she is one of the most generous, hard-working people I know. Her personal transformative expereince connecting her to Persephone has inspired an unceasing drive for growth, learning, change, and perfection within herself and in those closest to her.

Persephone's Creative Power and Rulership

As Pluto’s counterpart, Persephone completes an important cycle, which begins with the experience of death brought on by Pluto. Astrologers claim Pluto to be the planet of both death and rebirth, but tell me— where in Pluto’s story do we find the rebirth? The creative, regenerative, life-giving energy is found in Pluto’s female counterpart, Persephone. Without the Goddess of the Underworld and her divine feminine ability to give birth to new creation, the cycle remains incomplete. 

Persephone/Transpluto rules the larger, transpersonal cycles that influence us on a collective level. While the moon rules over the shorter cycles of the tides, emotions, circadian rhythms, and of course, the female menstrual cycle, Persephone rules over the female reproductive life cycle, the cyclical nature of time and the death and rebirth (both literal and symbolic) of individuals, empires, and ages. She rules the cycle of the seasons on which Western astrology is based. And, perhaps most importantly of all, she rules over the cyclical nature of our individual and collective consciousness. 

In the post-Hellenic version of Persephone’s story, as described above, Persephone is dragged unwillingly into the underworld and held captive against her will; however, this is only one version of her story. In the pre-Hellenic transmission of Persephone’s myth, during a time when Goddess culture was believed to rein supreme, Persephone descended into the underworld willingly, acting in service to assist the lost souls wandering beneath the earth by acting as their guide, initiating them into the world beyond the living. There was a need for this work that remained unfulfilled, and Persephone chose the path of courage, diving head first into the role she was destined to play. 

Combining both versions of Persephone’s myth, we find a more complete picture of the Goddess and her influence as Transpluto. Regardless of whether she was kidnapped or went willingly, Persephone, separates herself from her mother, Demeter, and comes into her own power in order to show up in service (Virgo) of the lost souls in need. Taken together, what these myths also help demonstrate is the fact that if we fail to make the conscious choice to visit the underworld, we will likely be dragged down into the muck and forced to face our demons— for our own benefit, of course.

Persephone's Global Influence

It is my sense that Transpluto/Persephone, currently hidden behind Pluto in the cold, dark, outermost layer of our solar system, will soon be reborn. We’re already living in the dawn of the age of Persephone, with death, darkness, and occult symbolism abounding, and our governments and hierarchies plagued by systemic rape and pedophilia. Held captive by Pluto’s influence, we are currently living Persephone’s experience of the underworld, and out of this shadowy chaos a collective awareness of something much bigger is being cultivated. The cold, dark age of Pluto is the necessary precursor to the ultimate springtime rebirth of a new consciousness, a new humanity.

And that leads us to Part 3 of our Transplutonian journey.

Transpluto: A Personal Journey

[Note: This article was originally published on September 6th, 2015 on astrologer Robert Phoenix's website at www.robertphoenix.com. The original article with commentary can be viewed here.]

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As with many others growing up near Detroit during these past few decades, money was tight, and in our family a constant emphasis was placed on the financial hardship we endured. While my parents worked hard to make sure we always had food on the table and a roof over our heads, my father, a Leo, was always just as sure to let us all know just how much he had to sacrifice to make it all happen. He was vocal about the cost of everything we did, especially if we happened to “splurge” by going out to eat at the local diner. 

After years of my father’s constant and unconcealed rumination about how expensive my existence was, I began to perceive myself as a burden on him and on our family. My father would often criticize me, and in order to avoid his criticism, I learned to be as physically and financially “independent” as possible early on. As an adult, this translated into a fierce drive toward self-sufficiency where I would give everything to those I loved while choosing to accept almost nothing in return. I went into debt, let my friends and boyfriends take advantage of me financially, and sometimes even went without eating, all in the name of an “independence” that existed only in my mind.

Transpluto

On the wake of the Jupiter/Sun/Transpluto conjunction at the early degrees of Virgo last week, I inadvertently stumbled into a revelation about the significance of Transpluto and the powerful role it seems to play in my own natal chart, and how it’s affected my relationship with my father, as well as the other men I’ve let into my life throughout the years. Now, you may already be asking yourself, “What the heck is Transpluto?” Don’t worry, we’ll get into that. But first, we need to backtrack to provide a foundation for this story. 

In 1846, Neptune was discovered by astronomers John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier, who used irregularities in the orbit of Uranus to calculate the position of the unseen planet, whose existence was then observed and verified by German astronomers Johann Gottfried Galle and Heinrich Louis d’Arrest. Shortly after this new outer planet was discovered, irregularities in the orbit of Neptune subsequently led to the discovery of Pluto. Pluto, officially classified as a “dwarf planet,” turned out to be far too small to fully account for the perturbations in Neptune’s orbit, which led to a search for another distant planet orbiting our Sun. Some astronomers believe that they are able to use irregularities in the orbits of the outer planets to calculate the orbit of a planet that lies far beyond Pluto. However, there is a lack of consensus within the scientific community about the proposed size and location of this hypothetical planet. Still, some astrologers have taken a liking to the idea of a transplutonian planet, and based on the data we currently have, more than one Transpluto ephemeris has been calculated, the first of which was published in Germany in 1972 by astrologer and scientist Theodor Landscheidt. 

Prior to the discovery of the outer planets, the traditional planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) were given shared rulership over two signs each, while the luminaries (the Sun & the Moon) each ruled one sign. As each additional outer planet was discovered, astrologers worked to identify the influences. Over time, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were given rulership over Aquarius, Pisces, and Scorpio (previously ruled by Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars). Since Pluto’s discovery in 1930, and its subsequent designation as the ruler of Scorpio, there are only two planets left that share rulership over two signs each. In the current model, Venus rules both Taurus and Libra, while Mercury rules over both Gemini and Virgo. Personally, I’ve always had the sense that the true ruler over Taurus is the Earth, and, as a Virgo, I’ve never felt quite right about Mercury’s rulership over my Sun sign. Maybe it’s my Virgoan tendency to want to organize things into nice, even categories, or maybe it’s my sense that Mercury doesn’t fully account for the idea of Virgo as the worker bee, the healer, and the one who is here to act in service of others. That is where Transpluto comes into play. 

So, what is Transpluto and how does it have any influence over the natal chart? Well for now, Transpluto is a hypothetical planet that exists only as a mathematic calculation until technology progresses in a way that allows us to experience the planet (or lack thereof) in a tangible, sensory way. As for Transpluto’s influence, I’ll provide you with my own experience and interpretation and leave you to decide for yourself.

Transpluto in the Natal Chart

Astrologer and researcher Lynn Koiner has been investigating the influence of Transpluto since 1972, and I find her work to be incredibly accurate. According to Koiner’s research, a heavily aspected Transpluto in the chart fuels criticism, perfectionism, a strong pull toward self-sufficiency, and a desire to give while receiving nothing in return. Those with a strong Transplutonian influence tend to have hypercritical parents, which leads to self-criticism and judgment later in life. They’re often perfectionists, feeling nothing they accomplish is ever good enough. They desire full control and self-sufficiency as a means to avoid being criticized by others. They give and give and give, but do not wish to be on the receiving end of other people’s charity, as that would mean relinquishing their autonomy and opening themselves up to the judgments of others.

Transpluto is a slow-moving planet, and at its current speed it is shifting less than one degree every 2-3 years. This likely explains why many astrologers have given this hypothetical planet rulership over Taurus, and this is also the reason why the broader Transplutonian influence over the world at large has yet to be discovered. It will be interesting to see what Koiner and other astrologers find in their research in the coming years, for as an outer planet, Transpluto’s influence reaches far beyond the individual into the realm of the collective.

Just like with the signs of Scorpio, Aquarius, and Pisces, the influence of Mercury as one of its rulers can still be seen in Virgo, as Mercury does still maintain a substantial influence over the most humble of the astrological signs. Virgo is the sign of self-awareness and the awareness of how one interacts and affects the world around him/her. I feel that Mercury represents the self-oriented, intellectual aspects of Virgo. It represents the quick, analytical mind, attention to detail, fine organizational skills, etc., while Transpluto, being an outer planet, represents the side of Virgo that is both other-oriented and focused on its impact on the collective. It represents Virgo as the helper, the healer, the giver, and the hard-worker. It’s the side of Virgo that recognizes its practical impact on those it interacts with, and it’s also the side of Virgo that recognizes and reacts to criticism and judgment from others. 

Lurking in the shadows far beyond Pluto, Transpluto’s effects are felt and observed in the physical realm, but the planet itself remains unseen. Transpluto is a humble planet, which shares its humility with the sign of Virgo; a desire to work hard without recognition, a desire to remain unseen. Behind the curtain, Transpluto analyzes, critiques, helps, and heals; forever striving to perfect the self as well as the other.

My Transpluto Story

Despite the gravity of Koiner’s research and the apparent significance of the influence of Transpluto when it’s highlighted in the natal chart, there still seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding Transpluto among the astrological community. 

A handful of astrologers love the hypothetical planet and include it in nearly all of their readings, and some are aware of its existence but choose not to engage with it or give it much weight. Many others have simply never heard of it, and there are a few who think the idea of including a hypothetical planet in the chart is complete nonsense. Me, on the other hand, I’m a believer, and here’s why:

If you recall my story from the beginning of this article, the story of my father’s constant stress over our finances and how this led me to perceive myself as a burden on our family. The reason I feel such a strong, intense need to be self-sufficient, to always be the giver and never the receiver, has everything to do with my father, who happens to be a Leo. 

The Sun in the chart is thought to represent the father during childhood, and Leo is ruled by the Sun. In my chart, Leo is both figuratively and literally my father. Upon looking up the Transpluto ephemeris and determining its location in my natal chart, I discovered that Transpluto, the hypothetical planet of criticism, perfectionism, self-sufficiency, and service, is conjunct my MC at 21 degrees in Leo, the sign of my father. This Transpluto/MC conjunction in my chart is also in trine with Saturn in my 2nd house in Sagittarius. Saturn represents the father later in life, and it is this same Saturn, along with my father’s early influence, that forces me to work hard for everything I have. It is the same Saturn that fuels my drive toward physical and financial independence and self-sufficiency, and the same Saturn I share with my husband, who happens to be a Sagittarius.

Happily Ever After

My personal Transpluto lesson doesn’t end with my father. It continues to be played out in my life and in my relationships in a significant way. Throughout my childhood, my father taught me how to take care of myself and how to be self-sufficient. He taught me to have high standards for myself and for others. He taught me to love, all the while guarding my heart against rejection … and my husband later revised that final lesson, teaching me to love freely and courageously.

Roughly nine years ago, I met a boy. We were 18 years old, and I was about to enter my first undergraduate class at Michigan State University. Following my schedule, I found myself baffled when it led me to an “Asian Literature” class that I swear I hadn’t signed up for. As I walked into the lecture hall filled with international exchange students of various Asian descent, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy with a pierced lip caught my eye and shot me the biggest, brightest smile I’d ever seen. The following week, that blonde-haired boy took a seat beside me. Six years and several chance encounters and missed opportunities later, that boy became a man, and that man showed up on my doorstep on Halloween night in 2012, flashing me the same bright smile that first caught my eye in college. On that night, Mars in Sagittarius (both his Sun and Ascendant sign) happened to be conjuncting my natal Saturn, in trine with my Transpluto. 

This man soon became by boyfriend and a couple months later, after an unfortunate series of events, I was in a state of complete financial desperation and he generously offered me his help. At the time, I could see no other option but to accept. From that point forward, my life slowly became much easier. Everything felt like less of a struggle now that I had an ally on my side, someone I could trust to help me without expecting anything in return. He never judged me, criticized me, or made me feel like a burden; he simply wished to make my life better in any way he could. The next three years marked the beginning of a markedly different Transpluto lesson. I learned to trust the man I loved to pick me up when I was down, to give unconditionally, and to love me even when I wasn’t able to love myself. This man is now my husband and I couldn’t be more grateful for the series of events that led us to our wedding day.

The Lesson

So where was the lesson in all of this? Well for me, my Transpluto lesson was one of balance: balance between self-sacrifice and self-sufficiency; self-criticism and self-improvement; giving and receiving; control and surrender. It was a lesson in balance between sharing my heart and guarding it against judgment. This is a lesson that I’m still working on.

Transpluto’s lesson is about taking the critical, perfectionist nature of this hypothetical planet, and utilizing it to help and heal others, rather than to hurt ourselves. It’s about self-care and taking responsibility for our own personal growth and transformation, and it’s about using that experience to show others how to become whole.