Recently, I received this email from a reader:
I suggest you update the ruling planets zodiac sign chart because Pluto isn’t a planet anymore…
This reflects a somewhat popular idea that since Pluto is no longer classified as a planet, it is no longer valid in astrology.
I will explain why Pluto is just as valid as before, regardless of its classification.
As humans, we are part of a universal field consisting of an ebb and flow of energy.
This ebb and flow of energy is regulated by any bit of matter floating in space.
Or, at the very least, this energy current is affected (or mirrored?) by any bit of matter floating in space.
This ebb and flow of energy controls our oceans’ tides, seasonal harvests, and animal migrations, among many other things on Earth.
Any piece of matter floating in space causes a ripple in the energy flow. If it’s composed of matter, and even gas is a state of matter, then it matters.
To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Juliet, what’s in a name? That which we call Pluto, by any other word, would cause the same ripple in the energy flow.
Just because Pluto has been demoted to a dwarf planet, it doesn’t make us automatically immune to its effects on the ebb and flow of energy across the universe.
My reader suggests that since Pluto is not a “planet” anymore, that it cannot rule a zodiac sign.
However, as Steven Forrest has so brilliantly noted, the classification of “planet” itself is arbitrary. Mercury, Venus, and Mars are hard little rocks, while Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are gas giants. According to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the term “planets” includes hard little rocks and gas giants, and everyone seems okay with this.
In addition, just about everyone understands that when astrologers include the Sun and Moon when we say, “planets,” we do so only for convenience. Of course, we know that the Sun and Moon are luminaries rather than planets. For convenience, when we say things like, “planets in the signs,” we are talking about the planets and the Sun and Moon.
And sometimes Chiron.
Even Chiron, the minor planet (sometimes called a comet) is allowed to be included in the term “planets” without anyone making a fuss about it.
Here’s the kicker:
In astrology, the term “planets” includes hard rocks, gas giants, luminaries, sometimes minor planets and nobody has a problem with that. Add to that Pluto, the demoted dwarf planet, and everybody loses their minds.
The email above is not the first email I’ve received requesting that I remove Pluto from the Planets page.
If we take a step back and look at the big picture, including Pluto when we say “planets” is not as outrageous as it might seem. As I explained above, astrologers are mostly using the word “planet” for convenience, similarly to how the IAU is using the word “planet” to group together little stony worlds and gas giants.
Pluto is valid because it’s composed of matter. All matter matters. The rocks and stones are matter. The gas giants are matter. Asteroids and comets are matter. And Pluto is matter.
And yet, it is not only matter that matters. It is said that we exist in space and time. While space may be filled with what we call matter, time is filled with something else. Whatever that “something else” is, numbers and mathematics have helped us organize it somewhat, even if we can’t see it. These things also matter, and they are also valid in astrology. That is why we have things such as the Vertex, Ascendant, Midheaven, Arabic Parts, midpoints, hours, minutes, seconds, etc.