An Astrologer’s Guide To Pluto
How to embrace Pluto, the planet of fate, in your birth chart.
Welcome to NYLON’s planetary explainer series, in which astrologer David Odyssey helps you get to know your chart and its key players, one planet at a time.
Welcome to the end of the line, the Hellmouth, the Source of All Evil, the final showdown of the cosmic saga. After evolving through nine planetary archetypes, we finally arrive at the last dark master: Pluto, planet of death, rebirth, and destiny. And though Pluto’s movements define generations and epochs, what does the god of the underworld have in store for your personal chart?
Pluto is the final planet in our solar system, discovered and confirmed only in 1930. It was named after Hades, the king of the underworld, whose Roman name Pluto originally meant “riches.” By blessing the lord of the dead with wealth and prosperity, the superstitious masses hoped to avoid an early trip to his domain. But what is the underworld if not a place of burial, where secrets, treasures, and atomic arsenals await to be exhumed and unleashed? Pluto, then, represents our personal dark domains, through which we die and return, ending one cycle and beginning another.
Pluto is often thought of as the planet of karma, or fate. It acts as a generator of metamorphosis, which you are meant to return to, face, and embrace if you’re to move forward in your life. Perhaps you were born with Pluto in your fourth house of home and origins, with a square to your moon. You may be chosen to heal generational wounds, give justice to your ancestors, or return to your childhood to close the door on old nightmares. By taking on this intense, fatalistic work, you may set yourself — and your bloodline — free.
Because of its extreme distance from our sun, Pluto spends about 12–30 years in every sign, making it the ultimate generational planet. If you’re in the range of Gen X, you were born with Pluto in Libra (1971-1983), and a desire to smash (and inevitably return to) the suburban status quo. Millennials, ever-addicted to pain and humiliation, were born with Pluto in Scorpio (1983–1995). In Sagittarius from 1995–2009, Pluto would inspire Gen Z to change the world…perhaps a little rashly. As for Generation Alpha, born during Pluto in Capricorn (2009–2024), we’re either raising a new generation of liberators — or dominators. (Read our explainer on the all-new, all-different Pluto in Aquarius saga for a glimpse into the next two decades of revolution.)
Because Pluto moves at a glacial pace, with impacts registering over years, it’s not so much the sign it’s in you need to contemplate, but its house placement, and any planetary aspects. Check out our guides to your sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter to see what their interactions with Pluto may mean for you. And see below how Pluto’s house arrangement spells out your karmic assignment. Good luck.
PLUTO IN YOUR CHART
Along with Mars, Pluto rules Scorpio, the sign of death and transformation. Mars acts as a personal agent of change, pushing you down the stairs into Pluto’s dungeon. Pluto rules the eighth house of sex, death, and metamorphosis. What are the relationships, experiences, losses, challenges, or even orgasms which melted away the person you were and awakened something powerful in you, something you knew was there all along? Pluto not only stands for Hades, but for Dionysus, the son of Persephone and god of rapture, destined to take the place of Zeus and launch a new age of unbridled, ecstatic awakening. Wherever Pluto lands in your chart, it’s leading you to face your fears, fulfill your fate, and become an atomic generator for the titanic future to come.
PLUTO IN THE FIRST HOUSE
You were born with the engine of metamorphosis in your first house of intrinsic selfhood. You may act as a kind of “battery of change” for everyone who comes into your life: When a relationship ends, your ex is inspired to go to rehab, make their dreams come true, or get serious about love. By knowing you, they’ve been transformed. Meanwhile, you’re left exhausted and enervated, used up for your metamorphic powers once again. Be sure you’re protected, so that everyone doesn’t feel entitled to drain your charge. Who do you want to share this power with, and on what terms?
PLUTO IN THE SECOND HOUSE
The second house deals with money and self-worth, and with Pluto here, you’re called to explore the deeper chasms of your financial issues. What did your family teach you about finances? What do you have that makes you feel like you? Dig deep and get past the bad money patterning, and you’ll be able to access your true, divine inheritance.
PLUTO IN THE THIRD HOUSE
The third house concerns the culture around us: the education, beliefs and general noise which informed your upbringing and worldview. With Pluto here, you may be called to break decisively from the world that raised you, creating a new framework that affirms who you are. Or, your task may be to reclaim the culture that you came up in, resurrecting it with a new point of view. Like a drag artist, lip syncing the straight anthems from her hometown, you get to rewrite the narrative in your own language.
PLUTO IN THE FOURTH HOUSE
Like Luke Skywalker showing up to save his father from the Dark Side, you’re called to redeem your family or ancestry, or reclaim the idea of “home” in some karmic way. This may not be a one-and-done gig, but a life’s work of investigating ancestral history, exhuming buried secrets, and beginning a new family history — for you and the generations to come. To do this work, you’ll need the support of your ancestors. Check out resources like Daniel Foor’s Ancestral Medicine for guidance on this work.
PLUTO IN THE FIFTH HOUSE
The fifth house is the domain of creative expression, which concerns the things we make — children, art projects, even really good dinner parties. What does your artistic process heal, close, or release for you? How does the experience of parenting heal old wounds with your parents? Whatever you’re called to make has the power to set you — and others — free. But to become a creator, you’ll have to destroy your old identity, history, and self-definition. Grab your brush and ready yourself for one hell of a masterwork: You’re painting with blood.
PLUTO IN THE SIXTH HOUSE
The sixth house is the domain of the body, and is often thought of as the house of bondage and servitude. How much do we give of ourselves, and what do we receive in exchange for our labor? What ancient wounds do our bodies carry, either from our lifetime or our ancestors’? One way or another, your somatic system is your link to the underworld — to those experiences which have brought you to death’s gate, and to the possibilities of an ecstatic rebirth. To reclaim the power and possibility of your body, you’ll have to understand how it’s been abused, and what burdens must be released.
PLUTO IN THE SEVENTH HOUSE
The seventh house is the realm of relationships and public visibility, where we encounter the major friends, lovers, mentors, and collaborators of our lives. What have the defining relationships you’ve experienced taught you about yourself? How have you lost and reclaimed your direction, either in partnership or through the bracing power of heartbreak? Who has stepped in and seen something in you which you couldn’t see yourself? Relationships have the power to rocket you beyond your old history. Your work is to make sure you hitch a ride with the right vehicle, and not get dragged to hell.
PLUTO IN THE EIGHTH HOUSE
The eighth is Pluto’s home domain, the site of those defining events which shift our lives forever. When you come out of a closet, have sex, get married, or lose a parent, what old aspects of self must die? You may live a life of intense, jagged transformations, defined by personal “eras” which all come to steep ends in the face of a new reinvention. Your work is to be a shepherd for others, acting like Hermes Trismegistus, the guide of souls through the underworld. You’ve lived it all. Now it’s time to help the rest of us through.
PLUTO IN THE NINTH HOUSE
Traditionally, the ninth house is considered the “house of God,” where we go to seek answers to life’s bigger questions, either through faith, study, travel, or higher consciousness. You will be sent on many voyages to make sense of life, and your questions of “why” may be more than the normals in your life can handle. In wrestling with God, the universe, your higher power, or whatever you call it, you will again and again surrender your own false control over reality, respawning in humility, grace, and acceptance of your place in a bigger orbit.
PLUTO IN THE 10TH HOUSE
The 10th house is where we realize our greatest ambitions and step into our greatest glory. But what informs your idea of success? Which of your parents’ expectations haunt you through life? And how do you handle power? You’ll have to face the roots of your thirst for domination (or fear of claiming authority) and deal with the complicated dualities of power. Whether you’re attempting to play God at work, or avoid your career calling, one crisis or another will force a karmic boss battle.
PLUTO IN THE 11H HOUSE
What is your legacy? Where do you belong? What do you wish to leave the world? The 11th house seeks to align us to the communities, audience and value systems which give our lives meaning. With the planet of karma here, you’ll likely face intense crises which separate you from the people you thought you knew. You may find yourself wandering from tribe to tribe, scene to scene, seeking those who reflect who you are through many metamorphoses. You may often feel alone, or misunderstood, but only because Pluto is pushing you to leave comfort and complacency.
PLUTO IN THE 12TH HOUSE
The 12th functions as our personal underworld, the dark arena where we face our unseen fears, secrets, gifts, and desires. With this placement, the gates to Tartarus are the doors to your destiny. Get to know your shadow side, intuitions, psychic gifts and past life assignments, because it’s through these “invisible” practices that you’ll act as an agent of change — for yourself and for others.
COLLABORATING WITH PLUTO
In no subtle terms, Pluto is God, and its placement in your chart indicates where you struggle with power, control, and fate. In Tarot, Pluto is represented by the Judgment and Death cards, and takes form as the mother-destroyer goddess Khali, the gods Hades and Dionysus, and any other master annihilators. Pluto arrives most definitively in pop culture as the manic death goddess Catwoman, as played by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, the Dark Phoenix of X-Men lore, and as the Hellmouth on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
To interact with Pluto is to embrace life’s cyclical nature, to foresee a new future beyond the destruction of the present, and to turn over your imagined idea of control. By celebrating death, you work in concert with the forces of life. Let the tower crumble, the horns blast, and everything fall to hell. From the ashes, you’ll be reborn.