What does it mean to have Mercury Square Pluto or Mercury Trine Pluto in the natal chart? In this post, I will address Pluto Mercury Aspects: all the major “hard” and “soft” aspects will be discussed. Please note that these are baseline interpretations and may be modified according to the presence of other factors in the chart. You can also study Pluto Houses I and Pluto Houses II discussed in other posts.
In evolutionary astrology, Pluto symbolizes the Soul, and Mercury is perceived to be the symbol of the Mind. The proximity between these two symbols, therefore, can be read as an alignment between the evolutionary path of the Soul and the individual’s immediate mode of perception, including her style of receiving and processing information, and her ability to make sense of things.
As discussed in a previous post, however, in psychological astrology Pluto is perceived differently: it symbolizes the repressed content of the psyche, all that which has been painful or shameful in us and has thus been dumped into seeming oblivion.
Mercury, on the other hand, represents the “bridge” between our subjective world and the reality outside of us (whatever that may be). It can be considered as a highly-personal “filter” through which our mind receives and sorts out all the incoming data.
Conjunction between Pluto and Mercury can thus be interpreted as an inherent alignment between the instinctual and the intellectual in us, the leisurely undercurrents of our soul and the quick curiosity of our mind.
If the energies symbolized by Pluto and Mercury are psychologically integrated, the Mind can put itself in the service of the Soul, acting as an enticing channel for the Soul to come forward and speak. Poetry, music and non-linear forms of expression are very welcome with this configuration in the natal chart. Alternatively, the individual may be naturally prone to finding connections between the unspeakable and that which can be eloquently put into words. As Charles Baudelaire, the French poet who had this configuration in his natal chart, beautifully advised:
“Extract the eternal from the ephemeral.”
However, if this conjunction is under stress in the birth chart and remains psychologically unintegrated, the individual may have difficulties staying focused on the mundane tasks and her mind may occasionally wander to the underworld, the realm of Hades, where things are charged with enigma and do not easily yield themselves to words. Unexplained fears, paranoia or paralyzing mood shifts may occur, and the individual may feel subdued by an unseen force which does not fully come forward to be captured by logic or defined rationally.
In some cases, an autistic fixation with repetition and routine may be observed in individuals with unintegrated contacts (conjunction as well as other aspects) between Pluto and Mercury in their natal chart. As the individual grows older, however, she may start working with these energies more creatively or constructively: as the conscious Mind has access to the unconscious content of the psyche, an individual with this configuration in her chart can directly tap into the infinite power of that which has not been expressed yet, either personally or collectively. Words can assume a healing power once such an individual speaks her truth without fear of being shamed or labeled as a “freak.”
Children with Mercury/Pluto contacts in their natal chart are quite perceptive, have an insatiable curiosity, and occasionally enjoy shouting or displaying various forms of verbal intensity. As is always the case with Pluto, non-verbal remedies are the best: a soothing belly massage, a firm hug or a warm bath may help calm their mind in this case.
With this configuration in the natal chart, one’s mental procedures or perceptive style may have been challenged by one’s karmic or ancestral predispositions, or by what is demanded by the Soul as part of the evolutionary process.
In some cases, the individual displays a youthful naiveté, for which she might have been shamed or chastised. It is also possible that there is shame attached to the idea of expressing oneself in spoken or written form. Stammers, dyslexia or various forms of learning disability are not uncommon with this configuration, especially during childhood.
In other cases, a sibling, relative, classmate or a friend may have emotionally manipulated the individual to behave a certain way or to grant their wishes. Alternatively, individuals in one’s immediate environment might have displayed Plutonic qualities, such as addiction, vindictiveness, verbal or physical abuse, or possessing highly-developed perceptive or healing powers.
If these energies are eventually integrated, the individual may learn how to respond to intense or exacting circumstances without losing her calm or sanity. She may learn how to experience fear or hesitation, and yet stay true to herself despite all that. Above all, she may learn how to safely contain the intensity, hostility or controlling urges of others, yet not to be affected, defined or directed by such things.
Moreover, as Mercury is in a dynamic aspect with Pluto here, the conscious Mind can be easily fertilized by the rare treasures concealed in the unconscious world, therefore much creative power is hidden here, waiting to be reached and released, which explains why a large number of literary figures, artists and musicians have this configuration in their natal chart.
As an example, Lewis Carroll had this configuration in his natal chart and suffered from a stammer and was deaf in one ear, yet invented quite a number of Mercurial tools and games (a nyctograph, a stamp case, an early version of Scrabble, various word puzzles, etc.) and wrote one of the most celebrated Children’s books of all times, Alice in Wonderland. In a classical Mercury/Pluto fashion, one can say that Carroll’s communicative constraints only made him more determined to connect to the world in a highly-personal and decisively-engaging manner, and this is how he transformed his limitation into brilliance:
“Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others […].”
With this configuration in the natal chart, one’s perception of reality may have been crystallized around exclusion of the primal, the profound, or the taboo aspects of oneself. Consequently, the “other” may be delegated to carry the role of one’s intellectual shadow, i.e. all that the conscious Mind finds difficult to digest.
If this configuration remains psychologically unintegrated, the process of learning or acquiring knowledge may be somehow associated with pain or shame, and the individual may develop paranoid thoughts around communicating with the “other,” thinking that she may be hurt, rejected, controlled, dominated or destroyed in the process. Learning anything new, disclosing information about oneself (for example, through social media, online forums, etc.), or simply engaging others in conversation or correspondence may feel challenging or even life-threatening.
In some cases, the individual may feel that the family, society or other people are trying to suppress her genius, her childlike enthusiasm for life, or her freedom to move or to express herself. In other cases, the individual may, in fact, attract a mentor, partner or friend with Plutonic qualities, who can eventually change the course of her life by opening doors to new ways of perception. Language often plays a significant role as well, and the individual may perceive linguistic aptitude as a means of maintaining dignity or power in the world.
Working with these energies in a conscious manner means inviting the shy and curious Hermes in us to dance with the magnificent Hades without fear of looking funny or being harmed. If we allow the child in us to come out and play every now and then, even when there is thunder outside and it feels icy cold, we will still have a chance to experience joy despite all the discomfort which may arise at any point.
The key to integrating these seemingly-incompatible energies is simply to assume the worst but constantly remind oneself that the worst seldom transpires. With this configuration in the natal chart, as the Mind is accustomed to being eternally engaged in intense or extreme thoughts, we can simply let it go there all the way to the edge and feel all the fear there is. Yet, we can equally remind ourselves that life usually takes place according to its own rules and often cannot be controlled by our thoughts. This means that we allow ourselves to feel afraid, but we also remind ourselves that our fear cannot change the course of things. The Mind can thus tire itself out with insecurities or obsessions, and yet stay functional enough to cultivate and create amidst all the drama, projection or paranoia.
Mercury-Pluto: Quincunx (Inconjunction)
This configuration may signal that the intellectual and communicative functions might have been diminished or dismissed by karmic habits, ancestral patterns, one’s fears, or one’s pain. The individual may be envious of those for whom communication seems effortless, or those who have a facility for learning languages or other symbolic systems (such as mathematics, astrology, etc.), or simply possessing the freedom to move and change.
In some cases, the individual may be reluctant to express her opinions or expose her intelligence, thinking that she will not be taken seriously, or that she will be mocked or rejected. Alternatively, the individual may be strongly critical of certain long-held convictions or tendencies within her professional or social circle, and may thus set out to reform or recreate an entire field.
Another possibility is that a Mercurial figure in one’s life (a sibling, classmate, colleague, friend, etc.) could have been undermining one’s confidence regarding one’s instincts or one’s ability to respond to life at a gut level.
Sometimes the individual may be able to develop confidence in her cognitive abilities and gradually overcome the feelings of intellectual inferiority (or superiority) through intimacy with the other. In this case, sex or erotic touch may initiate a process of mental healing and cultivate a sense of trust in one’s intelligence, ability to learn, move and adapt to various circumstances in life.
This configuration may signal that one’s conscious Mind may have been polarized from one’s instincts, fears or suppressed emotions. Alternatively, one’s ability to receive and process information may have been indirectly affected by an experience of severity, extremity or crisis.
If the individual consciously works with these energies, she will accept the possibility of an intellectual “blind spot” in her psyche and will allow a conscious process of exploring that which may not be initially sanctioned by her rational Mind.
Otherwise, if these energies remain psychologically unintegrated, the individual may shield her thoughts from her fears or irrational impulses, thus perpetuating a self-created lie which can distort her entire perceptive process. In this case, the individual may simply deny access to any piece of information which may not fit into distorted fabrications of her Mind, and thus remain intellectually naïve, prejudiced or unable to adjust to new environmental shifts.
With this configuration in the natal chart, there usually exists an open line of communication between the suppressed content of the psyche (including taboo desires, irrational impulses or fears) and the conscious Mind. In other words, the individual is usually comfortable allowing this buried content to come to the surface in order to yield itself to a conscious process of analysis or evaluation. Therefore, some individuals with this configuration in their natal chart display a natural interest in self-analysis or self-exploration and are usually good candidates for psychotherapy or psychoanalysis.
However, the nature of the suppressed content, which is now being invited to the light of consciousness, decides the general outcome of this interaction: if the suppressed content is so dense that it has already triggered mental illness or psychological imbalance, this harmonious aspect can simply mean that the disturbing content will not be met with resistance and will, therefore, easily “spill” into the sphere of consciousness. In this case, the individual may find intelligent ways of justifying her actions or covering her traces (in case of committing a crime, for example).
If this configuration is psychologically well-integrated, the individual will have a sharp intellect, a high capacity to stay focused on arduous mental tasks for long periods of time, and a healthy obsession with getting to the bottom of things, rather than simply gathering or categorizing data. Research and investigation can usually entice such individuals, and there may also exist an aptitude for healing oneself or others through learning about human psychology or studying human nature. Inventiveness, an eye for detail, and courage to explore territories which are considered unthinkable or perilous can also be noted in individuals who have successfully integrated the archetypal energies represented by this configuration in their natal chart.
With this configuration in the natal chart, one is often presented with opportunities to develop agility, flexibility or intelligence as a result of extreme experiences. In some cases, a Mercurial figure in the immediate environment (a sibling, friend, classmate, neighbor, etc.) may have been exposed to some form of crisis, or the individual may have been born into circumstances including violence, intensity or struggle.
If the energies symbolized here are well-integrated in the psyche of the individual, she will be able to learn from her environment and develop a sharp survival instinct based on analyzing and adapting to the environmental influences she is exposed to. In this case, the individual may be more of a “street-savvy” rather than formally educated; she may be able to quickly adjust herself to any new context, change her way of being if necessary, or find the right friends who can help her survive.
Otherwise, if these energies are not well-integrated, the individual may inflict pain upon others in her immediate environment by manipulating them or expecting them to agree with her and unquestionably offer her support on all possible levels. Mental fixation on certain ideas is another possibility, as well as a dictatorial streak. A willingness to change and listen to honest feedback from one’s friends or family members may help the individual become conscious of such tendencies in herself and start monitoring and correcting her mental attitude accordingly.
In the next post, I will offer a basic analysis of Pluto in aspect to Venus in the birth chart.