In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstacy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not."
- T.S. Elliot "East Coker - 1940"
is a planet of contradictions and much controversy and has only
been known to the consciousness of our world for the last fifty
years. As with the previous planets discussed in this series of
essays we will look to the Graeco-Roman mythology behind the name
of the planet (and the God), linking the messages of the mythic
lore with realisations in human thought.
is known as Hades in Greek myth; this name means "hidden riches".
Pre-Mycenean lore places Hades as the brother to Demeter, an association
which later variations of the myth depart from. He is also central,
as an initiatory figure, in the Eleusinian Mysteries. As ruler of
the Underworld, he is initiator of metamorphic change which all
individuals must face in the journey towards self-discovery, whether
willing or unwilling to undertake the challenges he represents.
This is part of the message contained in the descent of (or theft
of) Kore into the Underworld, which preceded her transformation
and assumption of the power of maturity.
lusted after his niece Persephone (Kore) who was the daughter of
Demeter. With the help of the Great Earth Mother (Gaea), Hades arose
from the subterranean depths, abducted and raped his niece, dispossessing
her of the innocence (and ignorance) of youth, of thoughtless acceptance
of the world of the senses.
assistance from Gaea should not be undervalued as this represents
a parental (in the larger sense, as Gaea is All-Mother) permission
for the act of violence and abduction committed between Hades and
Kore. As the prominent astrologer and psychologist Liz Greene points
out "There is a disturbing implication in this mythic theme.
It seems to be the Great Mother herself in her phallic form as Hades
who is the rapist; and the rape is perpetrated upon her virginal
and incipiently erotic daughter."
incestuous rape has variously been portrayed in modern discussions
as a symbol of patriarchal dominance, a metaphor for the initiation
of deep knowledge or a symbolic act which marks the separation between
childhood and the beginning of maturity. All viewpoints may be partially
true, though it could be argued that the meaning of the action lies
more in the realm of Mystery. Liz Greene argues that this is a pre-patriarchal
myth, which would seem to deny the assumptions of patriarchal dominance
- so we must look deeper to find the significance, perhaps to the
context of the whole myth, leaning towards an appraisal of the "metaphor
for initiation and deep knowledge". Greene suggests "This
psychic separation is, I feel, one of the meanings of Persephone's
abduction by Hades, where she is torn from the loving and protective
embrace of the Mother who both shelters her and denies her the possibility
of her own womanhood. This pattern is an archetypal one, a psychological
necessity. If one denies or repudiates this fate, then it may be
acted out upon one, and nature then may wear the face of Pluto."
faces of Pluto are the elements in our personal and collective consciousness,which
are uncompromising, inevitable and deeply embedded in our instinctual
behaviour patterns. In the myth, the inevitability of seeking a
balance is manifested in the transfer of power between Persephone
(the woman Kore) and Hades. The fruit of this union was the child
Dionysus, a God of crisis and wild magic, with special relevance
for women approaching the Mysteries.
becomes co-ruler of the Underworld, dweller in the dark maze from
which she draws her power. This dark and fertile energy contains
the potential of her own renewal, and that of renewal for the world,
for it nurtures the seed-self (in both the agricultural and psychological
sense) which will eventually return to the Overworld and the light
of the sun. The seed-self is that deepest kernel of individuality
which lies dormant within every human being until it is awakened
by the challenges on the journey to maturity. This self is the "hidden
riches" in the psyche, the Hades within. Another image for
awakening this self is that of forging and tempering the inner being
like a sword made from the base metal of experience, fired and tempered
by the wisdom gained by confrontation with the Mystery.
partakes of the feast of the Underworld (the Pomegranate) and assumes,
in her turn, dominance of Hades. This exchange (and the mutuality
of this should be stressed) between Persephone and Hades is a (p)act
of interdependence. She becomes ruler of the Underworld, but this
has a personal price, that of being bound to that place for half
the cycle of the year. Each finds a mirror and balance in the other,
a strength and complement which leads to an equal power. In this
sense we could say that Hades is the dark soul of Persephone, just
as Persephone is the bright soul of the Underworld - each is necessary,
and expresses the balance of light and dark which is Reality. In
exploring the effects of the planet Pluto on individual and collective
humanity, this relationship of self and shadow-self is an important
one. A confrontation with, and understanding of, this balance as
an internal dynamic is part of all magical training.
myth shares symbolic motifs with other mythologies, particularly
those of Gaelic origin, where the Underworld deities are also ones
of initiation and transformation. The legends of Thomas the Rhymer
and the Faerie Queen show an example of this symbology and highlight
the different aspect of the Mystery which is expressed - the Queen
steals Thomas into the underworld to undergo a journey of transformation,
an abduction which separates the initiate from the mundane world
and ordinary perception. Here it is the male as innocent, but he
too goes through a process of transformation, with the Faerie Queen
as Initiator and catalyst of that change.
initiation is through an act of selfish violence, whereas Thomas's
initiation is completed in his act of selfless love - offering the
fruit of knowledge (an apple) to his mentor and abductor, the Faerie
Queen. By this offering he, unlike Persephone, is freed from his
bondage and is able to return to the world in a transformed state.
The fruit (pomegranate or apple) is the symbol of both bondage and
freedom, of knowledge and connection with the life cycle of the
world. Thomas carries the balance of light and dark within himself,
while Persephone lives the balance as an integral part of
the agricultural cycle, a role she assumed when she partook of the
offering from Hades of the pomegranate. Without her abduction there
would be no sacred child (Dionysus) or seed of renewal. To balance
this, without her return to the world, there would be no spring
and the world would be locked in the darkness of winter.
demonstrates that facet of Nature which can triumph in spite of
overwhelming obstacles, and Thomas demonstrates the qualities of
human love and trust which proceed from magical apprenticeship,
even though he too is abducted. Both show that love and mutuality
is possible between apparently dichotomous, polarised forces - be
they external (in the world) or internal (within our own psyche).
Then too, Thomas is mortal man entrapped by the wild magic of Faerie,
while Persephone is immortal Goddess, bound by the God Hades. Thomas
can enact the Mystery within himself, a tale which contains the
message that we too may undertake this internal journey and transformation;
Persephone's fate is inextricably linked with the land cycle and
cosmic law (lore). The marriage of forces between Hades and Persephone
IS the Mystery, where the tale of Thomas the Rhymer places him as
a celebrant of the Mystery.
proceeds from "perfect love" and a surrender to a transpersonal
energy or force - in these myths, the journey may begin as an unwilling
one, but that does not in any way detract from the validity of the
initiatory realisations which are made by these two figures - Persephone
and Thomas the Rhymer. While they come from very different mythologies
and cultures, it is interesting to note some of the symbolic parallels
and differences - they are very much expressions of the human psyche
and so surface in mythic tales of diverse cultures. And the part
of the psyche which is affected, which resonates to this energy,
is the same in both myths, that which is ruled by the power of the
Planet Pluto - the seed-self or "hidden riches" within.
message of Pluto is a universal one, expressed in the mythologies
of many different peoples, particularly those with an appreciation
of the uncertainty which exists on the psychological edge, a place
of inspiration and terror. One magical viewpoint would place this
realm under the influence of the Crone, the Queen of the Hunt, The
Witch, or Wise Woman who lives on the edge of civilisation, in the
dangerous forest or deep within the wilderness. These archetypes
(and their male equivalents) also respond to the energy of the Planet
Pluto, just as Hecate in the Rites of Eleusis is the Crone who leads
the initiate deeper into a realisation of the Mystery of Renewal.
Western Kabbalistic Tradition, Persephone and Hades are first encountered
on the path between Malkuth and Yesod with Hecate as guardian of
their Mystery. Pluto/Hades in his dark glory (the Black Sun or shadow-self)
and Persephone as Queen of the Underworld, ruling death and rebirth
(the bright-self) are to be encountered on the path between Yesod
and Tippareth. These two paths lead to the "hidden riches"
within the individual. The paths form part of an ongoing series
of confrontations which are resolved in the process of attaining
internal balance. This balance is to be found in the dance of energy
which is poised at the knife edge between the forces of darkness
and light, a manifestation of the power of Pluto. The words of T.
S. Elliot, written shortly after the discovery of Pluto, can be
applied to this:
is a place of disaffection
Time before and time after
In a dim light: neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal."
"Burnt Norton - 1935"
Planet Pluto was discovered in 1931, a time of brief pause between
two major world wars. Since that time the human race has psychically
separated itself from connection with the needs of the planet which
shelters it and has denied and repudiated the ancient lore - that
of karmic balance. As Liz Greene suggests, denial of the pattern
of Pluto means that it may be acted out, with nature wearing the
face of Pluto. Today that is indeed the case, with such visages
as the Greenhouse Effect, the disease AIDS, and the rape of natural
resources which lead to adverse weather patterns and failure of
the agricultural cycle, a cycle indivisibly linked with the reality
of Pluto. These faces of Pluto in Nature are symptoms of a disharmony
underlying the whole of civilisation in the twentieth century, particularly
in the past fifty years.
often, like Hades in the myth, we reach for violent confrontation
with selfish motives, and we can only wonder if the planet (and
the collective psyche) will have the resiliance of Persephone, if
it can find a way to transform what has been done into the seed
of a new realisation - that balance between the necessities of technology
and the way of nature. The message implicit in the myth of Persephone
and the tale of Thomas the Rhymer is that of the Underworld Initiation
where responsibility must be taken by each individual for their
own path. There is no denying each person's responsibility in the
process of rebalancing the Planet Earth (Gaea) or She may, in her
dark aspect of the rapist Pluto, Lord of Death, consign our species
to the same fate as the dinosaurs. We may, like Thomas, choose to
return the gift of life and knowledge to the Lady (in this case,
the Earth Herself), in this way gaining a very real spiritual freedom
- or we may be bound and buried in the darkness which we ourselves
have created. As mortals, not Gods, we must choose the human perspective
of these myths of transformation, following Thomas, else the Mystery
fades further beyond our grasp, and with it our chance of renewal.
in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always -
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after."
"Burnt Norton - 1935"
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Graves, R. G., Greek Myths, Cassell, 1958
Guthrie, W. K. C., The Greeks and Their Gods, Beacon Press, 1950
Greene, L., The Astrology of Fate, George Allen & Unwen
(Publishers) Ltd, 1984
Elliot, T. S. - Collected Works, Faber
Paul, H., Pheonix Rising, Element Books, 1988
Stewart, R. J., The Underworld Initiation, Aquarian Press,