For most of us in the modern world, when we hear the word “Myth”, we think of something a story; something to believe in or to reject based on our own education and experience. If we label something as “a myth”, we assume that it is untrue. Yet, when we read between the lines a bit, we can see that we live surrounded by myths…which may or not be true, but are accepted as a way to explain “how things came to be”.
Across the globe, myths are still an active part of the spiritual life of many cultures. We may not believe in Santa Claus anymore, but that “myth” is certainly a driving force in our lives and our economy for a few weeks each year. Myths also provide a rich ground for seeing the relationships between our ancestors and our contemporary lives, and offer a glimpse into the subconscious that motivates us no matter how “modern” we think we are.
One such myth is that of Pluto. Over the passage of time, we can expect to see changes in how the gods are depicted in art and literature. We can observe a morphing of imagery, associations and attributes of these gods as the surrounding culture adapts and evolves. Yet, it is helpful for us to examine the commonalities and main themes.
When exploring the theme of “Life, Death and Beyond”, we can certainly see the relevance of studying Pluto. Throughout the ancient world, he was seen as the ruler of the underworld and afterlife. He was portrayed in this regard as the keeper of vast stores of wealth, such as mineral riches beneath the earth, and the waiting seeds of a bountiful harvest.
It is not a great leap to envision our own lives eventually reclaimed by the underworld and waiting as seeds asleep until a hoped for rebirth. Interestingly, most of us eagerly anticipate rebirth (in this life or the next), but fail to account for the little detail of having to die (in one form or another) before that rebirth can take place.
As a culture, we Americans spend little time thinking about mortality. It is almost a forbidden topic, seldom granted the dignity it deserves. As a planet, we are currently in what some term the “Sixth Great Extinction Event”, seeing hundreds of species disappear forever with hardly a mention. Yet, we are all a part of the cycle of life, a dance in which both birth and death are necessary and expected.
Pluto, ancient god of the underworld and “giver of wealth”, also brings to mind the element Plutonium, our heaviest element. As a planet and a people, we are currently faced with the deadly aftermath of Fukushima’s nuclear plant disaster. This is yet another opportunity to examine where we are as contemporary thinking people; do we accept the riches of nuclear power while ignoring the deadly shadow side of that industry?
In astrology, Pluto is seen as the bringer of upheaval and regeneration. Key words of association are transformation, destruction, creation, regeneration, healing, power struggles and renewal. Anyone with open eyes can see these played out in the daily news, and the trend seems to be accelerating. On top of all this, poor planet Pluto has even lost its’ status as an “official” planet. Nothing is immune to the changes we are seeing around us.
One of the many benefits of studying mythology is that we can see that our own struggles have been played out before, throughout history. We can see the bigger picture, and recognize the Archetypes within ourselves. What part of me can recognize the potential riches in exploring my own underworld? What part of me must die in order to release the abundance of those sleeping seeds? And, how can I come to feel empowered and inspired in this time of transformation, instead of insecure and alone?
These and many other questions will be explored as we examine the rich heritage of Crete.