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.