family smiling together with pluto in the sky

Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face

Pluto's placement can reveal self-destructive tendencies

By Maria DeSimone

I had a rather intense session last week with one of my longtime clients. She wanted to spend our time together exploring deeply the current transits of Pluto to her Ascendant and Sun in an effort to truly understand and embrace the message Pluto is sending.

In her case, Pluto natally aspects her Ascendant and Sun, as well, so I knew this particular transiting cycle would "wake up" the natal promise of her birth chart.

You might want to get a copy of your own Essential Birth Chart report in front of you before reading the rest of this blog -- you're going to want to see where your own Pluto is placed!

Back to my client: She's a lovely person and I really wanted to help her overcome this barrage of Plutonian activity. But I knew it wouldn't be easy. That's because I had to be brave enough to help her expose and examine certain ugly truths about her life experience and patterns.

Pluto in the 4th House of Home and Family

In order to "go there," we had to begin with the birth chart. Natal Pluto was in the 4th House of Home and Family, squaring her Cancer Ascendant and Sun. This lady is a super achiever -- and a total knockout!

She's a physician who used to be a swimsuit model. I know -- beauty and brains -- the whole package. And yet, she's suffered through a string of relationships doomed to fail because she never conquered the Plutonian issues in her Astrology.

To begin with, this young lady is a control freak. With Pluto squaring the Ascendant and Sun, what else can you expect? In her case, she has a history of severely controlling her diet (Ascendant and Sun in Cancer which rules food, square natal Pluto).

This is important because symbolically it represents her attempt to gain mastery over herself in the only Cancerian way she felt she could. Why? Because everything else Cancer represented was so out of her control.

Donna Cunningham, eminent astrologer, dubbed the natal house placement of your Pluto the area of your chart where you will "fail for spite." This is a fascinating concept that deserves greater explanation. If you're a serious Astrology student, I highly encourage you to read her book, "Healing Pluto Problems."

Try as you might, you can't control Pluto

Pluto is the planet of control, power and manipulation. Where Pluto is placed in our birth charts denotes an area where, for a variety of reasons, we feel severely manipulated. As a result, we go overboard to try and control this area of our life to the extent of self-sabotage.

In the case of my client, natal Pluto is placed in the 4th House of Home and Family square Cancer placements echoing home and family matters! Indeed, I had to crack the surface of her locked-in defenses associated with these delicate Pluto placements.

I asked her to tell me about her early home life. I also asked her to elaborate on how these early experiences may have led to her adult reaction of repulsion about motherhood (Cancer emphasis).

I looked courageously into my computer screen (it was a Skype session) and saw her face freeze. She closed her eyes and nodded slowly as she processed the enormity of what I had just said.
And then she began to validate.

She never wanted children. All her life her mother went out of her way to tell her that she would be a failure at anything she tried -- especially when it came to the domestic department. At the same time, she grew up with a very magnetic, powerful father who had narcissistic tendencies (Sun square Pluto) who ended up divorcing her mother when his "high maintenance" needs were no longer met at home.

All of this left her with little control and a resulting scorn for "traditional" family life. In her experience, this led to unconsciously failing in the very area her Pluto placement wanted her to heal from ... family.

Haunted by Pluto and the past

It's a very deep, twisted and unconscious type of failure to recognize here. My client was failing at becoming the matriarch of her own family because this would continue to haunt and embarrass her own mother. And yet, this tendency to fail for spite has only made her wound deeper.

Interestingly enough, the Cancerian area she tends to control with scary discipline and success has to do with food and diet. I love how she was able to spot this about herself and is working to correct the unhealthy obsession she has with controlling her food.

She is now in a relationship with a man she loves very much and is about to become engaged. Interestingly enough, all of these Pluto buttons are being pushed because the man she loves has a child and she's going to need to accept the role of stepmother if she wants the relationship.

She definitely wants this relationship to work! So she willingly chose to dive into the Plutonian depths of her own birth chart to understand and let go of this tendency to cut off her nose to spite her face in areas of home and family.

I was honored to help her achieve these revelations. There's more, of course. We also had to tackle the Sun-Pluto story in her chart and relate it to her string of failed relationships. But that's enough about my client.

What does Pluto reveal about you?

Everyone has Pluto placed somewhere in their birth chart leading to this "fail for spite" phenomenon. So, what about you?

Either we fail here because our early life experiences demanded that we succeed in that area, or we fail because we want to unconsciously embarrass the parent who taught us we'd never amount to anything when it comes to that house.

Alternatively, we might become obsessed with that house if we buy into our parent's belief that matters ruling the house Pluto is in are the "be all and end all" of existence.

Ironically, once you heal from your Pluto placement story, it loses power over you and becomes an area in your life where you can display extraordinarily constructive clout. But first you must be brave enough to confront the Scorpion's stinger.

With Pluto, it's the only way to ever win.

Explore your Pluto placement in your Essential Birth Chart report »

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