Pluto Unmasked

In December 1972, an historic photograph was taken from space, of our Planet Earth. For the very first time we humans saw our home planet as a beautiful blue ball against a backdrop of the dark space of starry infinity.
The spacecraft Apollo 17 on its way to the Moon shot that first photograph of Earth in its round, blue beauty.

 Since then this photo has become the most frequently published, the most famous photo of all time. Its use as an icon by everyone on the globe forever altered human consciousness – of ourselves, of earth and of our place in the cosmos. That photo unleashed a new idea into our world as powerful as any idea history has previously let loose. 
The photograph offered to humanity a vision of a beautiful yet vulnerable home planet and celebrated the birth of global consciousness.

Of course the global village had been conceptualised earlier than 1972. John Lennon’s popular song Imagine released in 1971 encapsulated the entrancement with and yearning for this idea of unity.

Imagine there’s no countries –
It isn’t hard to do…
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the worldyu-huh,
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one –
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.
— John Lennon

Yet a picture communicates in a different language. The power of the idea that the world-is one, burst into flower deep within the human family’s consciousness, when that famous photo of our blue Earth was published over and over again. The incomparable sight of our home viewed from space elicits a profound emotional response. It made real – as only a visual image can – that a new connection was established between humans and their home planet.

It seems to me that even the wisest of philosophers of the Renaissance or the most daring minds from the past could not estimate the real size of our planet. Earlier, it seemed unmeasurably great, almost infinite. Only after the middle of this century did man ( read human (ed.) – having gone up above the Earth into space, see with surprise and disbelief just how small the Earth really is. Some saw it as an island in the limitless ocean of creation. Some compared it to a spaceship with a crew numbering more than 6 billion.
— Pavel Popovich on the USSR Vostok, 4th August 1962
Looking outward to the blackness of space, sprinkled with the glory of a universe of lights, I saw majesty – but no welcome. Below was a welcoming planet. There, contained in the thin, moving incredibly fragile shell of the biosphere is everything that is dear to you, all the human drama and comedy. That’s where life is: that’s where all the good stuff is.
— Loren Acton on the USA Challenger, 8th July 1985

3 years has passed since that first photo, and the creation of the World Wide Web has revolutionised our lives with its instant communication that unites the planet in ways we could never have dreamed. 
Since 1972, space travel and its technology have undergone huge change. Humanity has become used to pictures from space – we have seen the sparks of light in our sky turn into astonishingly real physical worlds before our eyes. The different planets and their Moons in our solar system have revealed themselves. Even the faraway reaches beyond have bewitched our curiosity thanks to the Hubble telescope.

And now in mid- July 2015 (just a few days off the 46th anniversary of men landing on our Moon) there was a brief buzz in the world’s media when humanity was presented with another historic picture.
On the far, far outreaches of our solar system, Pluto was photographed. 12,000 kilometres away, we Earth-dwellers saw the extraordinary sight of Pluto in its glory.

If ever we need reminders that humanity is capable of reason and ability to work collectively, co-operatively in a peaceful endeavour – well here we have yet another transcendent example.

The commentators reminded us the vehicle (New Horizons) that snapped the Pluto shots was launched on January 19th 2006. The computers on board are 10 years old (gasp - Old as!!!!). 
It takes as much power to run as that of a domestic frig (the modem has the power supply of 24 K). 

The jubilant team of scientists who worked on this project have devoted two decades of their lives to this project. When New Horizons left Earth, they couldn’t pinpoint exactly where Pluto would be - but the flyby arrived within 72 seconds of when they expected it would.

New Horizons is the size of a grand piano and is still now hurtling beyond Pluto and its fellow Charon - out into the vastness of the dark matter we call space. It will take 16 months to transmit the data load of 50 gigabytes of Pluto photos etc, back to Earth as the little robot travels onwards deeper into the Kuiper Belt.

Those clever happy people at NASA will study and share this brand new knowledge with us. The euphoria those scientists felt on July 15th – is also shared by all of us humans who were moved by this momentous accomplishment.

It makes me proud to be a human here and now. Like listening to a Mozart opera or reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables for the first time, this is a sublime moment that makes the human heart swell with grace.

pluto scientists.jpg

As an astrologer I was intrigued to see what the heavens would speak about this event. Yet the skymap we call the horoscope, didn’t transmit the symbolism of this moment as strongly to me, as did the events that were occurring simultaneously in the world itself, during that momentous week.
It was a Big News week, and I began to explore the nature of these momentous events in conjunction with the planet revealing its face for the first time. 

All our planets are named after the ancient Greek god/desses. I think of the god/desses as symbolic archetypal stories that describe the huge impersonal life forces that we are all subject to on Earth. There are god/desses that describe the powers of Love and Beauty, War, Religious experience, Communication and Travel etc etc. Astrology is the art/science tradition of describing the combination of these different forces in our lives.

If humanity unmasks a god named Pluto, what might we expect?

Pluto by Agostino Carracci, 1592

Pluto by Agostino Carracci, 1592

Pluto is the Greek god of the underworld and in psychological parlance the unconscious. He rules the land of the dead. Charon (the planets’ travelling companion Moon) is the ferryman who transports us to Pluto’s realm. In mythology Pluto wears an invisible cloak when he comes to the land of the living so we mortals don’t see him until he has violated and taken us down.

Now we mortals have violated the god’s invisibility and gazed upon his face.

Pluto was discovered in 1930 as fascism was on the rise; atomic energy was being harnessed to soon create the atomic bomb and nuclear power. Pluto’s name is Death and power is this god’s game.
Under Pluto’s influence we have to face power, whether it be our own or power of others over us. When impersonal force/fate knocks us down, or we are visited by such events as rape, violent crime, compulsive or obsessive behaviour - Pluto is laying his cold hand upon us. We must then face the dark journey to his realm and learn how to (hopefully) empower ourselves. The alternative is to stay forever in his Underworld.

His name originates from Plutos meaning wealth. He is the god who turned everything the compulsively greedy Midas touched into gold – and as Midas discovered to his horror - death. 
Pluto’s wealth is underground – whether its oil, gold, diamonds-  we have to dig for his wealth in the darkness of his realm.

In astrology the passage of Pluto marks a decay, death, and rebirth cycle when we must plumb the depths, eliminate and clear out any toxic waste, break taboos.
Pluto moves us into the unconscious areas of shadow and transgression before we can breakthrough into the light once more.
Get the picture?

During the week when Pluto ceased to be a symbol, a myth and a faraway planet in the cold outreaches of our solar system and we saw the god for the first time, this happened;-

1. Iran agreed to a long-term nuclear deal with the US, UK, France, China and Russia plus Germany.  Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities in return for the lifting of crippling sanctions.

This is widely seen as an historic peace deal reached between the East and the West that was twelve years in the making and took the last 23 months of negotiating.
Iran is on the verge of economic bankruptcy, its oil and gas industries have been crippled and its employment high. Its assets overseas have been frozen and its people been subject to travelling sanctions. The sanctions had destroyed Iran’s private sector and its public sector was struggling.

The deal signals a new birth for Iran. Its young population is in the majority. The under 40 years old are highly educated, and if the Treaty is ratified many professional people who had left can come home. Iran is a home to many religions and different ethnicities, and has not only a high rate of education, but highest in the Middle East for women. Modernity has a strong hold on Iran. This deal is good for the democratisation of Iran for it will encourage civil society.

Iran is a country that has been demonised in the West. Remember Ronald Reagan naming it as one of the ‘Axis of Evil’…Pluto always describes our demons.

Now this deal brings the country back into the world community. It opens the potential for diplomatic resolutions for issues such as Syria. 

A rebirth of relationships between East and West has been seeded.

2. Greece was humiliated and punished by the troika (representing the European nations) the big three money thugs who are part of the world’s 1% elite. Greece was forced - on its knees - to a deal that sacrifices its sovereignty, despite its people’s democratically expressed wishes.

For some time, the world has watched an ongoing shaming of this country. We have been bystanders viewing the classic scenario of the strong bullying the weak.

Athens Soup Kitchen

Athens Soup Kitchen

This is Pluto’s well-worn terrain. Historically the world has been witness to this scenario many times; notably after World War 1 when the winners financially punished Germany and pushed it into impoverishment and ultimately Nazism.

Under Pluto’s eye, in 2015 the rulers of the European Union behaved like a dysfunctional family, scolding the Greek scapegoat who has been disobedient and unable to follow the authorities’ irrational ‘rules. 

Stricken Greece was asking for some debt-relief and aid to better grow its shrunken economy. Despite, and probably because of its show of democratic power in the referendum, the Greeks were bought to their knees, as the Euro Troika forced upon them an impossible deal of austerity and privatisation. An austerity that has already been proven to create misery, is self-perpetuating and self-defeating. 
And Doesn’t Work.

pluto greek demos.jpg

Greece is a sinking shipwreck that the world watches as the inevitable occurs – a catastrophic collapse of a nation. 

The future of the Euro Union, with the moneymen at its helm is at stake too. The Titanic springs to mind – a mighty accomplishment that its creators heralded as invulnerable, until it met an iceberg rearing out of the mist. I would suggest that Greece is that iceberg.

I think it deeply ironic that Greece is the home of the idea of democracy.

The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace –
Where Delos rose, and Phoebe sprung!
Eternal Summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.
— Lord Byron 1819

3. China’s sharemarket experienced a near-death experience – the Plutonic symbolism is startling. China experienced a financial earthquake that lost 3 trillion dollars (10 times more than the Greek debt). Tens of millions of its small shareholders investments (working class families’ savings) were wiped out. China’s government massive intervention calmed the market somewhat but the markets – epicentre of China’s economic reforms - continue to be highly volatile, with more slippages continuing.

China’s future remains unclear. It has a capitalist stock market, being played like a casino by tens of millions of freebooting speculators, right in the middle of a society purporting to be socialist and run by a communist party with a deep affinity for rigid interventionist controls. Its uneasy fusion of communism and free-market economics is a system with no precedent and no operating manual.
This contradiction running like a fault line throughout the world’s second biggest economy, makes outcomes impossible to predict.

4. Major tech glitches in computer software took down three large corporations in USA.
United Airways, the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street Journal’s websites - all ground to a halt. 
Planes were at a standstill amidst scenes of chaos, trading stopped in the Stock Exchange (centre of the world’s financial business) and the Journal’s website flatlined. Immediately the public was told it wasn’t a co-ordinated cyber attack, but the mystery still remains as to what really did happen.  

"I'm in Hell" at United Airways

"I'm in Hell" at United Airways

Just a “very bad day”? 
A rather dark mystery (mystery is Pluto’s fodder) that serves to tell that the technology we take for granted is not bullet-proof. 

These three companies are all business operations that rely on massive computer systems. Automated software is complex (involving millions of lines of computer code) and a single error – even a misplaced text - can grind the whole system to a halt.

Whether human error or deliberate hacking creates a breakdown, Pluto’s little joke has highlighted how easy chaos can happen. Our increased dependency on undependable things has been displayed, putting us on warning how incredibly quickly a cascading failure can lead to pandemonium.

5. In Aotearoa, milk prices crashed disastrously due to a slump in the world markets and the next day Fonterra cut 523 jobs in lower and middle management.
Pluto rules elimination and ruthlessness.
Fonterra is a good example of the way neo-liberalism works in our small country.
More than 4000 of its 18000 world-wide staff earn at least $100,000 per year, while 17 staff earn more than $1 million annually.
The Chief Exectutive Theo Spierings earns $4.18 million p.a, following a $660,000 pay rise last year.
The redundancies the elite management are making are justified in the name of “efficiency” (exactly why they had all those people working before is a mystery to me – presumably before they were let go, they were all involved in inefficient work). The savings the diary giant (monopoly) is presumed to be making is said to be up to $60 million (don’t hold your breath) but meanwhile $15 to $17 million will be paid out in redundancy packages.

Farmer Murray Beach

Farmer Murray Beach

Pluto rules anything we might call ” mega”
Fonterra's highest earners
•    $100,000 - $200,000: 3482 staff
•    $200,001 - $300,000: 402 staff
•    $300,001 - $400,000: 138 staff
•    $400,001 - $500,000: 66 staff
•    $500,001 - $600,000: 29 staff
•    $600,001 - $700,000: 13 staff
•    $700,001 - $800,000: 15 staff
•    $800,001 - $900,000: 6 staff
•    $900,001 - $1 million: 8 staff
•    $1 million - $2 million: 13 staff
•    $2 million - $3 million: 2 staff
•    $3 million - $4 million: 1 staff
•    $4 million - $5 million: 1 staff

None of these high-earners have of course been made redundant. Redundancy is for the losers at the bottom of the ladder.

pluto cows.JPG

"Fairly Ugly” 

The scale of the drop in diary prices overnight –  10.7 percent - came “as a shock” to the federated Farmers and pushed down the NZ dollar by about 2% against the American dollar.
This drop is the ninth consecutive fall and the whole milk price affects Fonterra’s forecast payout to its farmer shareholders.
The backbone of the economy of Aotearoa is dependent upon our farming primary industry.

The government prides itself that the dairy industry is ‘unsubsidised’. 
However dairy farming’s unsustainable practices directly causes massive environmental degradation of our waterways and soils with immunity. It pays no carbon-tax. Is this not a form of subsidisation?

If you doubt what is actually going on in the dairy industry's continued pollution of the waterways of Aotearoa, please read this:- 
Dr Mike Joy: Paradise Squandered;New Zealand’s Environmental Asset Stripping.

Citizens and animals alike are all actually heavily subsidising the dairy farmers –Everyone is paying – and will go on paying for a long, long time for this pollution. 
Pluto rules the toxic, the hidden costs, the muck at the bottom that was buried in secret.

What the follow-on effects will be on the slumped world milk prices will be on our small country’s so-called “rock-star economy” is hard to say. But we are already in a precarious situation due to the neo-liberal policies that both Labour and National parties have adopted since 1984.

Over the last few decades an experiment has been conducted by its leaders upon us Kiwis. An extreme version of deregulation and privatisation has dismantled our welfare system. Aotearoa has become “vastly more unequal, lost the majority of its industries, opened itself to capital flows that were supposed to create competitive businesses and new jobs, but never did. Foreigners with money speculate on our non-productive assets or push up our dollar to take advantage of high-interest term deposits. “

Aotearoa is not alone in this trend – it is part of a world-wide movement that has sold us de-regulation, consumerism and increasing inequality. Commercial interests consistently shape all politics and policies at the expense of human and environmental concerns.

Since that 1972 photo of planet Earth, humanity’s leaders and shapers of policy have constantly denied or ignored any understanding of the fragility of our home planet.

Despite the intellectuals, creatives, scientists and humanitarians battling constantly to be heard, nothing has prevented the ongoing barbarity of war, genocide, disparity of wealth distribution, slavery, misogyny, racism and religious intolerance.

The human species seems hell bent on despoiling our planetary nest with horrendous environmental destruction, unleashing mindless climate change and an historic extinction of other species which runs parallel with over-population of desperately impoverished humans.

We seem to believe that we are gods who can act with impunity upon our habitat. Despite our clever monkey minds, it is as if we cannot recognise our human dependence on the environment, or comprehend that we need the planet more than it needs us.

As a species we have been peculiarly blind in our inability to change our national or global social, political, economic and legal structures that could make a reality of this imperative.

From space I saw Earth – indescribably beautiful with the scars of national boundaries gone.
— Muhammad Ahmad Faris from Syria Soyuz TM3, July 1987

Now in 2015, despite the change of consciousness accompanied by the extraordinary technological realities of global communications and travel, the scars of national boundaries seem ever deeper. 

he five big events of mid-July I’ve listed will all have unknown consequences. But if I link them all into the Pluto archetype then we can be sure they are depositing us earth inhabitants somewhere along the spectrum of the decay, death, rebirth cycle. Metamorphosis is always the driving necessity of this Plutonic cycle.

I believe that Earth - particularly in relationship to the human species - has entered a hospice stage of development, as we steer our Ship of Fools to the precipice of no-return catastrophes. This would place us on the decay/death part of Pluto’s cycle.

I am hoping that Pluto’s unveiling might begin to give us hope in believing we can transform ourselves through the huge changes that are coming up for us all. We might then begin to move into the rebirthing and regenerating stage.

One of the biggest global unifiers that has occurred throughout our world since the 1970s is the creation and rise of a new global empire

George Orwell’s strangely prescient novel 1984 has come to pass. In an Orwellian coup a global empire has been born in the name of freedom that has granted us its opposite.

We have named it globalisation without paying much attention to whom and what is behind this name. Its ideology we call neo liberalism which has enjoyed a rapid rise to power over every aspect of our macro and micro lives.
The ‘Market’ rules supreme over its’ level playing field’.
The gradual removal of barriers to international trade has intensified competition which is worshipped like a god itself.
International cities have become more and more similar. MacDonald’s here, MacDonald’s there. Pay with your Mastercard or Visa everywhere and anywhere you go….the world for sale.

This is a new Empire, but unlike the Roman or American Empire, it is one of global capital and corporations. These giants have taken over - by stealth - national governments, media outlets, once publicly-owned assets. The huge conglomerates that are banks and corporations have acquired enormous and seemingly unlimited power over both individuals as well as our nation states. They go on consolidating their power every day. 

Under neo-liberalism 1% of people now rule the world. In January 2015, the share of the world's wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% last year. 

According to a study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam, the wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world's population,.
On current trends, Oxfam says it expects the wealthiest 1% to own more than 50% of the world's wealth by 2016.
In NZ the top 1% own 17% of the wealth of NZ.

This elite have all kinds of cunning ways not to pay taxes to the common wealth. Instead they take our taxes and tithe us in hidden ways (environmental degradation being only one of these).

Ordinary folks’ wages and living conditions are constantly driven downwards to fund the impossibly rich’s bank accounts. When the banks fail due to their greed, as in 2008, ordinary folks’ taxes pay for their bailout.  Dirty politics have ensured that spying by governments on the populace is taken for granted. Foreign investors buy our houses and land.

Bill English ( Minister of Finance) spouts that Climate change can’t be incorporated into any economic policy because there would be’ too much red tape’…Auckland’s Supercity councillors discuss selling our city’s assets – privatisation marches inexorably onwards…

Free trade costs the earth.
Soon our NZ government will have signed over our sovereignty under a new trade agreement –TPPA ; a deal that is being negotiated and will be signed in secrecy. This deal will lock Aotearoa into even more minimal regulation. Commercial considerations rule supreme over any of our cultural, social or educational realities.

All of what I have written here about the global takeover fits the Pluto constellation like of glove. Devouring, greedy, all consuming, power-hungry; enormous wealth and unequal distribution; demonising of the ‘Other’, stealthy power machinations, dirty politics.

The unified world is suffering energy depletion, climate change and migration on a previously unimagined scale – all due to this global empire of the wealthy elite and their minions such as John Key, Tony Abbott and others of their political ilk. 

Capitalism is being inevitably altered and will become unworkable soon enough.

It may be a combo of external factors such as extreme weather events, a world plague, oil prices falling, another bank crisis, and desperate refugees/migrants flooding into already overloaded countries – that will trigger the domino effect of the world’s house of cards.

Or the social order and functional infrastructures might implode from within (such as we are witnessing in Greece) due to impoverishment and despoliation of the natural and social environment, helped along by punitive monetarist financial policies visited upon the suffering populace. 

It may be all of the above – but whatever and however, we have gazed upon the face of the god of Death and must accept Pluto’s challenge to begin the work of killing off the untenable so we can regenerate a different kind of world. We must begin to visualise a future for our human family that reflects the beauty and harmony of our Blue Planet, our Home Planet.