My Personal Travails with Pluto


I was born with my left leg cocked funny, torqued at the hip, with my foot turned in.

It didn't pose much of a problem until I began to walk—or tried to walk, before stumbling over myself and falling flat. I should be thankful that toddlers come equipped with an extra layer of padding to alleviate the aches from just such problems.

My parents followed the doctor's recommendation and kept my leg in a brace for several months during this key developmental phase to, ahem, straighten me out. And it did the trick… well enough, at least, that I progressed into a relatively normal walker (swishing excepted).

Still, throughout childhood, I retained a rather klutzy carriage, which proved its incongruence time and again on soccer fields and asphalt playgrounds, as I repeatedly tripped over my own defiant left foot and skinned the knee on every pair of pants I owned. I may have wielded a clever, curious mind, but my physical body lagged behind, refusing to cooperate.

For several succeeding years, this mind-body disjuncture didn't much matter to me. As an adolescent and young adult, I was perfectly happy to imagine myself as a disembodied head, wishing physicality away—after all, I received lots of kudos for my academic achievements, while my fleshy casing grew flabbier and further from fit. I ate too much of the unhealthiest foods, smoked cigarettes by the carton, and would break a sweat from climbing a flight of stairs. Why did I care if my stance was crooked, my legs mismatched from hip to toe? I had bigger fish to fry.

Fast forward to the recent past: I lost some weight, eliminated my good-for-nothing smoking habit, and discovered the joys of exercise, not just as another chore on some punitive must-do list but as a genuine pleasure. I couldn't run a single lap around the track in high school P.E. class, and now find a few miles to be downright stress-relieving. Who is this 'health-conscious' person I became?

In my astrology chart, we might look at my 6th house, a zone that reveals our relationship to daily habits, those which may make or break our physical-health level. (The 1st house and its cusp, the Ascendent, also tell us about our physical selves, our bodies and our constitutions.) My natal Neptune is placed there, for instance… going a long way to explain how easy it is for me to adopt self-sabotaging practices for the momentary bliss they may provide, as well as my hypochondriac tendencies. (It also describes my deep belief in faith-based healing techniques, and my ability to receive intuitive messages through my body.)

Also tenanting my 6th house is the lunar North Node, one of the most 'esoteric' points in an astrological chart, in that it's often said to denote karmic direction. The lunar Nodes are always two points (North and South) opposed to one another, and they represent a sense of movement from familiar past patterns (South Node) to a fresh future with new challenges to face (North Node). As such, the Nodes can also be seen as guideposts directing us toward the fundamental soul-lesson of our lives—or at least of this incarnation, if you believe in such things*.

[*Personally, I don't think it's important to commit to belief in past lives to draw some meaningful metaphoric value from interpreting the lunar Nodes. But the idea of the South Node symbolizing a comfortable 'residue from the past', which doesn't always have links to an individual's recallable lived experiences, leaves that big reincarnation question to dangle…]

This 6th-house North Node is in Sagittarius… an important detail in light of my virtual lack of the fire element in my chart. (While my Neptune is also in Sagittarius, as a slow-moving generational planet, its sign placement is less important. Plus, Neptune isn't exactly a good conductor of fire.) I've read this natal Nodal placement as my karmic incitement to invest my energies toward personal growth in 6th-house concerns—namely, in getting out of my head and off my fat butt, so that my physical vessel is fit enough to power me through achieving my goals.

Sagittarius is a sign notorious for its exploration of different philosophies, mindsets and methods, on its overriding quest for a Truth (or some convincing enough version of it) that'll provide inspiration for how to lead a meaningful life. And using that as my model, I've sought all sorts of outside systems and ideas for helping me connect more deeply with my physical body. Over the years, I've explored acupuncture, massage therapy, Rolfing, Reiki, chiropractic, yoga and Pilates. They've all added their piece to my understanding of how important it is to release stored tension and emotion from my body, while simultaneously working to develop a strength and flexibility that I've never before had.

Of course, this whole journey hasn't been as light and refreshing and perfectly evolved as this account might make it sound. Let's not forget that, along with a North Node, I also have a South Node… hiding out in the 12th house in Gemini. This placement speaks of a past in seclusion, absorbed by the vast annals of knowledge (but not necessarily 'wisdom') in my own head and 'lost' to the physical world, content as I had been to 'vacate the premises' in favor of mystical disembodied bliss. And wasn't that my truth indeed?

Saturn's conjunction to the South Node doesn't make it any easier either, indicating this lifelong challenge for me to limit the overwhelming infiniteness to my internal flights of mental fancy—as well as to limit any escapist behaviors which might produce that addictive sensation of ecstatic nothingness I'm drawn to, but which pull me further from my expected earthly service.

I've known for a few years now that 2007 would be the year when transiting Pluto hit my natal North Node—and thus opposed my South Node/Saturn conjunction—and rather than panic about its approach, I dove headfirst into exercise and bodywork therapy, as I described above. This is how one might prepare in advance for transits, by using the astrological symbology to design avenues for channeling the planetary energies as we see fit. Rather than worrying about how Pluto on my 6th-house North Node might bring a debilitating sickness or injury that forces me to transform my relationship to my body (which is certainly in line with the possibilities it suggests), I opted to do the 'transforming' before such a thing could occur… as if to tell the cosmos that I'm willing to put in the work voluntarily, without a painful external trigger to force me into it.

Yet, no matter how well I planned, there was no getting around the rampant resurrection of old tendencies I experienced when the Mar 18 solar eclipse formed a square to both my Nodes (and Saturn!)… right at the same time Pluto was sitting there, too. Argh! I wrote about this already, but I've still been continually challenged by what came up for me at the time. In short, all the old crap I thought I'd dealt with has been forced back in my face. Over these past couple months, I've eaten like a pig, barely made it to the gym, and hardly wanted to do anything but court the beautifully selfish numbness that comes with total escape.

File this tale in the 'Textbook Astrology' folder, for Pluto is conjoined my 6th-house North Node and opposed my 12th-house Saturn/South Node, and it has been sheer torture to live in a body. Thanks to astrology, though, I know that this too shall pass, even as my waistline has bloated, my muscles have disappeared, and my get-up-and-go is exceptionally elusive, here right now but perhaps gone by later today.

In the meantime, don't let anyone tell you Pluto don't matter—he's real all right, and driving me friggin' bonkers! Hey, Pluto: I'll have another order of French fries (with a side of self-hatred for eating 'em all), and another MTV-sponsored reason to skip the gym again today…