Encountering the shoulds — navigating Pluto in Capricorn
12 January 2008 1 Comment
Carrying on the Saturn/Capricorn theme, I read something on evolutionary astrologer Tom Jacobs’ blog that resonates with my last post. Much has been and will be written about Pluto’s impending ingress into Capricorn later this month (google it). Plutonian energy is transformative, but works at a ‘cellular’ rather than a surface level, and many expect its transit through Capricorn to irrevocably change the way governments, corporations and traditional authority and institutions work. As Pluto is also about power, much of this change is likely to involve a massive resistance by these institutions to cling on to their power. The transit will last for about 17 years and it will be quite a ride.
On a personal level, I’ve survived the past 12 years of Pluto in Sagittarius. All I can say to Pluto in Capricorn is, ‘bring it on!’. As I mentioned in the previous post, Capricorn asserts the structures of traditional authority — this can be a good thing, fostering discipline and grounding ideas in reality, but it can also be a bad thing, feeding dogmatism and inflexibility. Tom Jacobs describes Capricorn as the sign of ‘shoulds':
What I’ve been writing about Pluto entering Capricorn has been based in my understanding that Capricorn operates according to a lot of shoulds, and there could be some hollow structures that hold our lives and societies together. Whatever they may be, Pluto entering this sign is the surest (if not the quickest and least painful) route to begin to see how we might be running on a lot of shoulds that aren’t based in reality or contributing usefully to it.
Look at the two little statements I voiced via my Moon in Capricorn in the previous post. The first one is: ‘Maybe you shouldn’t be so dismissive of society’s conventions’, and the second one is, ‘But is it really okay to live [outside of society's paradigms]?’. The latter could easily be rephrased to, ‘Should I really try to live [outside of society's paradigms]?’. ‘Should’ is a word we encounter early on in our lives. It is the first signal of parental authority (‘You should wash your face.’), preparing us for the litany of shoulds to follow, in school, at the playground, in the office, in church, in marriage and so on.
Pluto in Capricorn, nearly all the astrologers say, will force us to negotiate the shoulds with the coulds, by re-thinking the shoulds altogether. On a personal level, the transit will activate the areas in my chart to do with self-presentation and personal resources. I spent the 12 years of Pluto in Sagittarius clearing out the debris in the cellar of my psyche, Pluto in Capricorn might just be the time to clear out the front yard — that is, how I relate to the perception and projection of external structures that I still fall back on to define my actions, albeit at times with discomfort. Who we think we are is so often mixed up with who we think we are as we appear to other people. The two could, and should, be distinguished. As Jacobs puts it:
The truth is that the vast majority of us constantly create a veneer of self-image based on shoulds (in what ways have you responded to media versions of how people should look? …). And it takes a lot of energy to keep out of consciousness the other, left out aspects of reality that fill reality out. Think about what it is that you don’t want to know about, don’t want to hear. Think about why you spend as much energy as you do keeping certain things out of your consciousness.
And this, as all things do, comes down to the challenge of self-love: Can you accept the parts of yourself that you don’t want to be part of you? Can you choose to be more whole by admitting a broader scope of yourself, as shown by an honest look at the reality of you?
Do we have a definition of ourselves that hasn’t been reflected back to us by family, friends, self-help books, and glossy magazines?