N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 2
by Alex Miller-Mignone
PLUTO KEYPHRASE: Transformation & Regeneration.
INANNA KEYPHRASE: Remember the uses of Logic.
ERESHKIGAL KEYPHRASE: Remember the powers of Intuition.
Four times in each millennium, Pluto's orbit brings him into direct alignment with a duo of Black Holes in consecutive degrees of mid-Sagittarius which are named for a pair of Mesopotamian sister goddesses, and are representative of one of the most fundamental polarities in the human experienceInanna, BH 17/18 Sagittarius, Queen of Heaven, and Ereshkigal, BH 18/19 Sagittarius, Queen of the Underworld.
These mythic images represent the two halves of human consciousness, bright Inanna being the left brain, positive, masculine mode, and her dark sister Ereshkigal the right brain, negative, feminine mode (the terms 'positive' and 'negative' or 'masculine' and 'feminine' here refer to extraversion and introversion, and should reflect no cultural prejudice or bias as to their connotation).
During these periods of Pluto's contact with the Queens, there is evidence of some startling advances in human understanding and culture, perhaps an indication that part of his action is to help to bridge the gap between the two hemispheres of the brain, which is the point from which true creativity springs (to mention but a few, previous Pluto/Queen passages have included the periods in Western history known as the Enlightenment, the height of the Renaissance, the ministry of the Christ, and the flowering of Greek philosophic thought under Socrates).
Pluto's current passage began last winter, from early February through early May, and included a station at 17 Sagittarius on March 19 (Inanna progressed from 17 to 18 Sagittarius in approximately 1960, so it is still active at the earlier degree in the psyches of millions of human beings), and will intensify following its direct station in August 2002.
From the point it re-enters 17 Sagittarius on November 29, 2002, until it passes on to 20 Sagittarius on December 18, 2003, Pluto will be in constant contact with one or the other of the Queens, affording a unique opportunity for planetary enlightenment and global transformation (there is a brief return to this energy in July-October 2004, and the overall period includes four Pluto stations conjoined one or the other of the sister goddesses). The question remains, will humanity take advantage of this chance for change, or will the global environmental and geopolitical catastrophe that looms careen out of control?
Pluto, of course, represents the principles of transformation, regeneration, death and rebirth. Black Holes are like Pluto to the tenth power; they absorb energy, transmuting it from one form to another in an alchemical process of transubstantiation, where matter is reorganized on a molecular level. Imagine if humanity were to acquire this ability, and all one had to do for dinner was to pick up a discarded tin can and mentally rearrange its cellular structure to create an apple or a pear? This may sound unlikely, but consider stories of current Indian holy men who create feasts for their followers seemingly out of thin air, or biblical tales of the Christ who fed thousands from a basket containing five loaves and two fishes.
Are these beings to be looked upon as freaks, weird human/divine hybrids with historical significance only, or are they emissaries of human potential, masters of a heretofore untapped but inherent human ability? What aren't we doing with the other 90% of our brains? Pluto on Inanna and Ereshkigal may help us find out.
The essence of Black Hole interaction is change, and Pluto's function is to root out whatever isn't working and evoke transformation. Combined, the opportunities for growth are staggering, although change does not always come easily or willingly, and the more we cling to outmoded ways of being, the harder and more painful change can be. That's why Black Hole energy is so important nowit affords little opportunity for hanging on. Black Hole transformation is so sweeping, so sudden, attempting to resist it is like clinging to a straw for support in the face of a raging flood. Complete reversals of the current status quo are common, and the new circumstances often bear little or no resemblance to those which pertained before.
There are many mythic images which reflect the essence of the Black Hole, predominantly those depicting the descent from the Light World of everyday reality into the magickal Underworld, with a task to perform, and the ascent again following its completion. Among others are the tales of Hades, Demeter and Kore/Persephone; Aphrodite, Persephone and Adonis; Orpheus and Eurydice; and Osiris and Isis. One of the oldest, we might say the original and still the best, is that of Inanna and Ereshkigal.
These two sister goddesses are the original Light and Dark Twins, those two closely related energies who are two halves of the same coin, and represent the waxing and the waning year, the seasons. This motif is repeated in Egyptian myth as Osiris and Set, in Greek myth as the maiden Kore above ground with her mother Demeter and the queen Persephone below ground with her husband Hades; in Norse myth as the brothers Balder, god of Light and Summer, and blind Hoder, god of Dark and Winter; in Welsh myth as bright Llew and his dark counterpart and supplanter Gronwy; in Celtic pagan myth as the Holly King and Oak King who battle for control of the year; and even in early Christian iconography as John the Baptist and the Christ.
All these myths revolve around a central theme of conflict between Light and Dark, a struggle, a temporary victory, the overturning of the status quo and the eventual return to the conflict with opposite results, both participants locked in a never-ending cycle which enfolds all humanity and all of nature itself. But the myth of Inanna and Ereshkigal is perhaps one of the best in illustrating the types of energies involved in Black Hole interaction.
Inanna and Ereshkigal are sisters; Inanna rules the Light World and Ereshkigal the Underworld. According to one version of the myth, Inanna's husband Dumuzi has died, and having entered Ereshkigal's realm, the dark sister in turn takes a fancy to him (much as Persephone in a later echo of this myth becomes enamored of Aphrodite's plaything, Adonis, who has been placed in her charge) and makes him her consort. Inanna determines to retrieve her lost love, and begins the journey to the Underworld to challenge her sister for Dumuzi.
As she begins her descent, she crosses the borders of the Light World, and at each of seven staging posts she is met by representatives of Ereshkigal, who ritually dispossess her of one of her accouterments of power at each successive stage. She is stripped of her crown, her jewels, her staff, her mantle, even her robes, until at last she stands naked and defenseless before her sister in the heart of Ereshkigal's realm. (This can be likened to the descent into the Black Hole, whose event horizon, its astrophysical zone of control, represents its astrological orb, and whose astrophysical center, the singularity, is represented by the astrological degree at which the anomaly appears.) Ereshkigal fixes her sister with the eye of death, and Inanna is slain; her body hung on a hook to rot.
While Inanna was beneath the earth, all life mourned and extinction threatened, until Ea, a water god who had created mankind, sent emissaries to Ereshkigal to plead for Inanna's return. They empathized with Ereshkigal, becoming one with her in her pain, and the goddess granted their request, returning Inanna to life and releasing her to the Light World, though Ereshkigal kept Dumuzi at her side. At each of the seven stages of her ascent, Inanna's wardrobe and accouterments are returned to her, until she re-emerges into the Light World intact in her power and sovereignty.
This original myth is important in its differences from later echoes. Inanna journeys voluntarily to the Underworld, and she does it for love; she returns, if not successful, at least intact. In giving herself willingly to the transformation, Inanna preserves herself; letting go is the prelude to restoration. Contrast this with Kore, who is abducted and raped by Hades as her catalyst for growth into her goddess-self Persephone; or Adonis, who is translated into the Underworld via the actions of an angry rival for Aphrodite's affections, the god Ares in the form of a boar which rends Adonis to bits; or Osiris, who is entrapped in a sarcophagus and drowned in the Nile by his jealous brother Set.
None of these individuals encounters his or her destiny willingly. Only Orpheus, who travels to the throne of Hades to retrieve his lost Eurydice, retains Inanna's attitude of selfless sacrifice, though he is similarly unsuccessful in his attempt. The moral here is, you can't go home again. When touched by the forces of the Underworld, change is inevitable.
Facing one's destiny willingly is the hallmark of the Champion; exposing oneself to danger for the sake of another is the hallmark of the Hero. Embracing change rather than resisting it sets the individual on the path of transformation from the merely human sphere of fragmentation, emotions and conflicts to the divine sphere of wholeness, intellect, and individuation. The portals between these opposed states of the human and the divine are one way access only, and the Black Holes are their guardians.
On a personal level, we can each expect a period of serious self-examination and revision during this Pluto passage of the Queens; belief systems and life philosophies, in particular, will be subject to Pluto's scrutiny. The extent to which this is a factor in one's life will be determined by the types of contacts one has to this astrological zone, but the energy is out there for everyone to experience. The late great comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell stated that "the images of myth are the reflections of spiritual and depth potentialities of every one of us, and ... through comtemplating those we evoke those powers in our own lives to operate through ourselves." On some level, we will each experience a version of the myth of Innana and Ereshkigal during this period.
On a global level, the conflict between the Light World and the Underworld manifests during this passage as a struggle between opposed philosophies: between the forces of enlightenment and freedom, 'modern' thought, and individual destiny, on the one hand; and the forces of radicalism and control, 'antiquated' thought, and autocracy on the other. This conflict energizes the worst fundamentalists on both sides, and can be characterized as inclusion versus exclusion, progress versus stagnation, the future versus the past, or even, simplistically, Good versus Evil.
We already know the battleground; it is Bush's "War on Terror" and the continuing melodrama of the Middle East. But if we need heavenly confirmation, it is there to read in the nativities of the nations involved, and their contacts to this zone. When we examine the astrological degrees from 16 through 20 of Mutable Signs (focusing on 'stress' aspects of conjunctions, squares and oppositions only, and giving a one degree orb of influence from the pre-1960's degrees of the singularities of these Black Holes through their current positions), with the aid of Nicholas Campion's The Book of World Horoscopes [ed. note: currently out of print], we find a virtual roadmap for the coming confrontation.
Iraq's Saturn lies at 20 Sagittarius, just one degree past the current position of BH Ereshkigal (which transited from 18 to 19 Sagittarius in approximately 1959); this certainly could imply regime change, one wrought through the use of massive force (Pluto) and occurring relatively suddenly (BH). Iraq's Moon, her public, at 17 Gemini is opposed BH Inanna, and her Venus, women, at 20 Gemini opposes Ereshkigal, and as always in such matters, these groups will take the brunt of the suffering. Iraq's Moon/Venus closely conjoins the U.S. Mars, which strongly opposes Ereshkigal from 19 Gemini, and will thus be receiving the transit Pluto opposition during the period mooted for the conflict.
Additionally, key players in the region are closely tied to the outcomeSaudi Arabia, a vital staging post for the enterprise, sports Uranus at 19 Sagittarius, conjunct Ereshkigal, with Pluto opposed Inanna from 17 Gemini (thus conjunct Iraq's Moon/Venus and the U.S. Mars) and the Midheaven at 18 Virgo in square to both goddesses (use of Saudi air space (Uranus) will be essential to a successful campaign, as will her oil (Pluto) reserves, and her leadership and public support (Midheaven) of the effort). Turkey is another critical front, and with her Midheaven squared Inanna from 16 Pisces, she is already committed to supporting the U.S. effort.
Pakistan's Mercury at 19 Pisces exactly squares Ereshkigal, and her continued intelligence information (Mercury) concerning the actions of Al Qaeda could prove vital; Iran's Neptune at 19 Sagittarius exactly conjoinswill the force of her radical spirituality (Neptune) be directed in support of the Infidel from the West or the hated neighbor to the south? Syria's Ascendant at 16 Sagittarius conjoins Inanna, while Jordan's Uranus at 16 Gemini opposes; these nations are likely to split their support, Syria forming ranks with Iraq, and Jordan with the U.S., though it remains to be seen how actively either of these nations will perform in the conflict.
Even North Korea, that other spoke on Bush's "Axis of Evil," has close ties to the goddesses, with her Jupiter conjoined from 20 Sagittarius and her Sun in square from 19 Virgo; her turn in Bush's "War on Terror" may yet come during this period. (Cuba's Mercury lies at 18 Sagittarius, conjunct Inanna, and may indicate a change in the U.S. trade embargo policy.)
And so the die is cast, and once again we see how time and space combine to evoke terrestrial manifestations of celestial patterns. The rhetoric is heating up; the chief players are jockeying for position, and their lackeys are forming ranks; conflict seems certain. What will be the outcome, what brave new world will we face in the aftermath? Only time, or Pluto and the Queens, can tell...