Monday, April 18, 2011

Pluto in Capricorn Retrospective: It's All Just a Norman Rockwell Painting, Isn't It?

With Pluto retrograde in Capricorn, I've been reading old issues of Vanity Fair from the library, which has covered quite a lot on the banking/insurance collapse in the United States. Vanity Fair has a sort of gossipy, status quo vibe - like the people dishing at a well-heeled Hamptons party who are very much part of the scene they're dishing on. They want to tongue wag but never get into the real roots of the situation because that would upset their own privileged foundations. There were a couple issues that I found interesting, though, as far as Pluto in Capricorn themes.

One thing that disgusted/infuriated/exasperated me about all their coverage, as usual, was the overwhelming male energy in the articles. The financial world is completely dominated by men. Not just men but primarily greedy, immature, short-sighted, materialist men who will gladly hand over their souls and play corrupted systems in exchange for the supposed indicators of success, power and recognition - money, homes, vacation homes, cars, art, women.

The women, their wives or mistresses, exist only in relation to these men. They're there to support, sustain and cover for these guys. Look pretty, ask no questions type stuff.

The whole thing is bizarre and insane. You have to ask yourself, how can this be the way the financial world is structured? With so many people just playing along, looking to cash in?

One of the articles from the November 2009 issue was about a man named Marc Dreier who is now in prison for 20 years after masterminding a huge Ponzi scheme that blew up a few days prior to (and was overshadowed in the press by) the Bernie Madoff scam. (Canadian connection: Dreier was caught in Toronto during an attempted swindle of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.)

Dreier was a lawyer who was sort of middle-of-the-pack and felt under-appreciated and under-rewarded. To gain the "success" he deserved, he concocted a four-year $380-million Ponzi scheme involving hedge funds (what else?) that funded a huge law firm under his name, multiple luxury homes, Picassos, beach houses, an Aston Martin, a yacht, a sushi restaurant. Super overdone instantaneous New Money. You know the drill.

The thing that struck me from the article was a paragraph at the end from a very philosophical Marc Dreier about to be shipped off to prison. He'd come to some realizations that a lot of people are born knowing and living by, but I guess are hard to come by in the financial sectors of the day. He talked about how success and happiness are being determined by professional and financial achievements and material acquisitions and how that is a fallacy. He said that young people getting into finance have to define what success and happiness are and that they don't have to make the same mistakes he made.

Another interesting issue was April 2010, which had an article on thirtysomething Michael Burry, an ex-neurosurgeon with a glass eye and Aspergers, who made a fortune buying credit-default swaps on subprime-mortgage bonds.

Michael Burry started out as a value investor looking for undervalued bargain stocks being downplayed. Burry soon picked up on the insanity of subprime mortgage lending and figured out a way to bet on the inevitable failure of those mortgages - credit-default swaps.

Predatory mortgages were being lent that were guaranteed to go bad. Middle and lower-middle class people were set up to fail with mortgages that involved no money down and a very low interest rate for the first two years. After two years, the interest rate jumped and then continued to climb incrementally. With the incomes stated, there was really no way people were going to be able to meet these mortgages. There was no way their mortgages should have been approved in the first place.

Burry saw this, bet on them going bad, and made big coin as millions of loans were defaulted on and people lost their homes. The real estate bubble burst and people woke up from the American Dream...hard.

The Vanity Fair article would like us to believe Michael Burry was one of the only people who figured this out. He bet on the system to fail while the entire financial sector was asleep at the wheel and got his payday.

In reality, though, isn't he just one of the non-insiders who figured it out and then took his cut? To me, it looks as if the entire thing was one big Ponzi scheme rigged to impode and create U.S. Treasury-looting pay-offs for those who had bet on it doing so. I could be wrong.

These stories are pure Pluto in Cap, and they made me dig up my first blog post on Pluto in Capricorn, the second post on this blog, the February 2008 Astro Perspective:

"PLUTO IN CAPRICORN: January 26, 2008 - November 20, 2024
Pluto fuels a process of intense examination and scrutiny of the aspects of life we would often rather not look at. All the dark creepy crawlies we’d prefer would just stay hidden under the rug - the dark undercurrents of life, ourselves and other people; denied emotional realities; abusive, unequal relationship dynamics; things we repress that then come out in our lives and selves in a multitude of unpleasant ways; power struggles; control issues; hidden motivations; betrayals; emotional suppression and poisoning; oppression; domination and subjugation; lack of personal integrity; behaviours and circumstances that result from disconnection to the core, soul-level reality; etc. All that fun stuff that we all love dealing with...

Pluto’s location indicates the area that needs most desperately to transition and be reborn into something new. So while Pluto is in Capricorn, we’re going to be forced to look at our concepts of material progress and success and all the structures that have grown out of those concepts and transform those things to better fit our continued life on the planet.

As far as the transpersonal view goes, Pluto in Capricorn will be a time when the Plutonic process is applied to things such as: business and corporations and the hierarchical structures within them; “bosses;” owners; management; time; money; economics; material goals and progress; patriarchy; use of power of those at the top; the aspects of control and power that money and position afford; public image; what our societies respect, recognize and deem worthy; leadership and the legitimacy of that leadership; concepts of success; climbing the corporate ladder and where that ladder is leading us; etc.

In my view, the masculine and feminine energies on the planet are currently unbalanced and unequal to the point of collapse. And nowhere is this more apparent than in our business structures, with the prevailing ideology of growth and achievement at all cost and a seeming lack of concern about negative effects on the environment, the populace and the basic overall soul of things. To me, we’ve gone as far as we can go with the current system of unfettered growth (to the point of almost destroying our planet), and now we desperately need some balance. We need to inject some soul into our structures. We need to balance outward achievement with inner reflection and guidance. We need to care about how our actions and “progress” affect other people and the planet. We need to make sure that the ways we’re striving to be recognized and respected in the public world feel right to us in our inner world. This relates to the balance of Cancer and Capricorn. During a Pluto transit through a sign, development of the sign opposite Pluto is crucial to sort of pull us out of the muck and mire that Pluto kicks up and create some balance. Capricorn rules the Father figure energy (masculine) and Cancer rules the Mother figure energy (feminine). Capricorn rules the outwardly visible public self and Cancer rules the inner, soul self. So to me, Pluto in Capricorn is very clearly a time when the disconnect between these things must be addressed. Masculine and feminine must come into balance. They must learn to work together as equally important forces, each playing a complementary role and becoming one force of creation, instead of two separate forces resisting each other and fighting for dominance.

One of the things a birth chart illustrates beautifully is the fact that we all have masculine energy and feminine energy within us. There are six yin signs and six yang signs that we all, men and women, contain. A mistake that we make in our society is to equate feminine with women and masculine with men. So adding women to a corporate boardroom is often considered enough to address the imbalance of masculine and feminine. This is, of course, not true because women can behave in a very masculine way, especially when they’re trying to fit in and succeed in an excessively masculine structure.

So we need to transform (Pluto) the way we understand the interplay of masculine and feminine, outer and inner (Capricorn - Cancer). And see how denying the existence or the importance of the feminine or yin energy in our work and business structures is creating a problematic imbalance in our society.

Addressing and rebalancing these issues through Pluto in Capricorn will, hopefully, change the lifestyle track that people are running on of go, go, go!, "I'm so busy," tossing down three Starbucks a day to keep going, cocaine sniffing (yes, business people have resorted to that, apparently), body in a constant state of alert/panic, constant growth, constant focus on outward results, goals!, achievements!, recognition!, outpacing the other guy/gal, etc.

Along with that, the way all this is artificially supported by a controlled and invisible form of feminine, which exists only to support this mad machine, will also transform. An example of this is the receptionist or admin assistants in the business structure, who support what other people are doing but usually have no real independent roles of their own.

This Plutonic transformation will also renew our respect for and understanding of growth cycles - the fact that creation involves outward growth, but also rest, dormancy and connection to the inner for guidance. The fact that the human body is not a machine, and it cannot just produce, produce, produce. Energy levels fluctuate. There is a timing of things.

These are some of the things which will come up during Pluto in Capricorn and not in a superficial way! Pluto asks for nothing less than complete transformation from the core. No stone is left unturned. So Pluto will be demanding complete institutional change.

Pluto will help us to see what power is legitimate in our business structures and what isn’t, who is rightfully a leader and who does not have the personal integrity or character to truly lead humanity into a new era, who is a dinosaur clinging to power using the old methods of coercion, manipulation and control and who has rightfully earned the position of leader.

I think during the next 16 years, (within the context of the Aquarian era shift), equality will be chosen more often than not over hierarchy. Even the concept of a “boss” will come under scrutiny within many organizations. As will the owner-worker paradigm and the right to dominate, manipulate and control “underlings” that sometimes goes along with being in charge of the purse strings. Any inequalities in the dynamics between people on different levels of the hierarchy will come up. The way people are bullied into putting up with abusive conditions out of fear of losing their employment. And the personality issues that people at the top of the hierarchy are allowed to have - things that would not be tolerated in workers lower on the totem pole. Top-down decision-making where people who are completely disconnected from the reality of the workers are creating policies that don’t make practical sense. The lack of access many workers have to the decision-making process, despite the fact that it affects their livelihoods. Corporate policy that is sometimes impractical and inhumane."

Another article that interested me in the November 2009 issue was one related more to the other end of the spectrum and Pluto's effect on Cancer. That article, running in the same issue as Ponzi schemer Dreier, was one on how Norman Rockwell's art is having a big resurgence, gaining newfound appreciation where previously it was considered corny Americana. Norman Rockwell's work was big after World War II when the world wanted to go back to "a simpler time" and this has a strong Pluto in Cancer feel to me.

We've now entered the series of Uranus in Aries squares to Pluto that we also saw at the beginning of the Great Depression and in the lead-up to World War II. At that time, Uranus in Aries was square Pluto in Cancer. Now, it's square Pluto in Capricorn.

This is a time ripe for people going into overload shutdown mode and wanting to go back to that "simpler time," which never really existed. Rockwell said he made art that depicted life as he wished it were, rather than the way it really was. How's that for denial of Plutonic reality?

As Pluto transits Capricorn, it does a complete gutting and re-working of Cancer, also. Home, family, Mama, apple pie, meals made from scratch, fresh sheets, comfort, emotional security. Both the United States and Canada are Cancer Sun nations, and both have a healthy dose of denial going on as far as living in protected little bubbles as the rest of the world goes to hell - often by their hands.

I wrote about some of that last summer during the Cancer/Capricorn eclipses:

Post-Eclipse Emotional Backdrop Transformations and What the Crab Can No Longer Deny

There's a strong ongoing tendency during Pluto in Capricorn that we need to be vigilant about: regression - another Plutonic theme - in the relations between men and women/the masculine and feminine. Hello, bell jar.

Society is going to backslide here unless we really consciously work to buck the trend.


A.Ray said...

I love this post Willow. (And I'm still re-listening to the incredible reading you did for me the other week!). I've been super conscious (and SUPER exasperated) by the unbalanced masc/fem energies for a long time, and I so appreciate your amazing astrology perspective on these subjects you bring up in this post. On a related note, recently I've been reading about how Bolivia is setting to pass the world's first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans and I feel pretty inspired by this move at least on an ideological/symbolic level. The United Nations is also slated to discuss a proposed treaty based on the "Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth." I'm hoping this may be some of the seedlings of at least an ideological shift/change that you recognize this planet so desperately needs. However, the legal system is a pervasively masculine 'machine' in itself so that poses some conflict with this idea I suppose... Thanks!

Anonymous said...

One of your best posts this one!
I see this deology of growth and achievement at all costs and emphasis on more and more outward success and competitiveness, is actually increasing in the uni I work in the last 2,3 years. Would you think things get worse before it gets better? The academic world i work in is going further away from goals of science and wisdom and approaching more to corporate competitiveness where publishing more and more is the name of the game and the only way you can be respected. It doesnt matter whether what you publish has any soul. I hope the rottenness of this kind of system in academia would come out in the following years.

Anon and Ever said...

Perhaps you are right in this, that economy is remained the only “men only” place in society.

And this must not make us surprise that “ultra-conservative”, not merely cosnervative, positions dominate and practically tyrannize the economical world...

Willow said...

Anon 3:01 - That's really interesting as far as the rotten Capricornian constructs in the academic world with the focus on publishing! I had a feeling about that...

Those are both Sagittarius subjects, so Pluto in Sagittarius (January 1995-November 2008) theoretically started the process with the academic world/publishing - but mostly on a ideological/philosophical level. Now, it starts to work on the ingrained bullshit structural dynamics/hierarchies involved - a mite trickier.

I definitely think it gets worse before it gets better when Pluto is involved. They're long-term transits digging really deeply, and we have to maintain awareness throughout in really heavy, complex territory in order to make any real progress. Demanding! These transits touch subjects most don't want to deal with. Penetrating the denial along the Cancer/Capricorn polarity and forcing these issues to crisis points is unfortunately part of getting it up and into conscious reality so it can finally be dealt with. Pluto relates to death, so it really is a case of Pluto working on the stuff that will kill us (soul-level in the least) if left as is. Pretty extreme little dwarf planet!

Thanks, A. Ray. Glad the reading hit the mark. :-)

The stuff with the U.N. does sound good on paper, but I think the green agenda has actually been hijacked and will be eventually used in an attempt to devalue/diminish human rights. Sort of a presto chango reversal. The wrong people are involved, though the idea of protecting nature is a good one. This is the trickiness of those using Pluto for end goals of control. That's just my personal perspective, though!

Anonymous said...

Willow, this is timely and well put. I kept hearing that chorus, "We've got to get back to the garden..." in my head while reading this. We do have to get back to living close to Gaia or we will not survive. Thank you for posting this analysis. Please keep up the good work. We all need to hear this and heed it.

Anonymous said...

by the way, the academia i am in is in the field of economics :) so double pluto dose :)

Willow said...

Ha! There you go.

Deb said...

Great, great article. Love your work and voice.

And I just realized something, Willow...

The series of Uranus in Aries squares to Pluto in Cancer also brought about all the Disney fluff that plays a role in the denial of reality and a preference for the ideal (i.e., happy ending).

What do you think :)?

Willow said...

Oh, yeah...Disney totally fits the post-WWII denial/bubble reality! Creepy McCreeperton.

Deb said...


Anonymous said...

It all started with that rat who tried to pretend he was a mouse....Mickey.