Tiny, distant Pluto is shifting from retrograde to forward motion this week. This direct turn of the planet of transformation is meant to make it more accessible and expressible.
This might not comfort those whose understanding of Pluto is limited to the negative imagery of the so-called “Lord of the Underworld.” The power struggles, manipulation, secrecy and control issues associated with it can scare away the faint of heart and the ill-informed. Pluto is about death, but it’s also about rebirth; it represents endings that lead to new beginnings, otherwise known as transformation. Letting go of what no longer serves us to make way for fresh forms of action and expression is a fundamental part of the life process...even if it’s sometimes scary.
Pluto is also about power, a concept that is often misrepresented as inherently abusive. Lord Acton said that “power corrupts” and the Goldwaterites of the 1960s elaborated by saying that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” While it’s certainty true that individuals and institutions abuse their authority and that bullies misbehave, these statements are wrong. That’s because they don’t address the deeper meaning of power. The destructive forms of power are primarily physical and financial.
Brute force, whether of individuals or armies, and economic control by corporations and governments certainly do cause pain and suffering. Yet if we limit our understanding of the subject to bad bosses, corrupt officials and gangsters, we miss a key point. It is that external expressions of destructive power are reflections of internal weakness. Bullies use the strength of their status, muscles and money to mask their internal insecurities. Individuals and institutions that are truly strong can afford to be kind and compassionate.
I believe that powerlessness corrupts because it is the unexposed fears of corporate criminals and bullying bosses and bureaucrats that motivate their most repugnant acts. And that taking power as individuals is not about abusing anyone but recognizing and cultivating our capacities and expressing our talents. Too many people have experienced abusive relatives, teachers and others who have made power a dirty word. Yet our collective well being will only benefit from the most potent expression of our gifts.
Healing abuses experienced in childhood does not come from clipping our own wings to avoid repeating the destructive behavior of others. It comes from embracing the fullness of your potential and being as strong and effective as possible. As long as minds and hearts are open, we will learn from our mistakes, applying mental, physical and emotional power with compassion that helps all of humanity to fly.