This Thing Called Integrity

By Eric Francis

Sign art by Liz Webb.

Sign art by Liz Webb.

Pluto is making a long visit to your birth sign, part of a sweeping, generational aspect called the Uranus-Pluto square. This aspect influences you personally, and it represents developments that compel you to become a whole person, which is the core idea of integrity. You are being called upon to experience your personal identity, your work and career, your relationships and your home environment as one person, living one life. Yet among these facets, this year there is a special emphasis on your professional mission, which you will re-evaluate, rethink and experiment with until you reach an unusual point of breakthrough.

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Capricorn Part One

Capricorn Part Two

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You would be amazed how many people aspire to do nothing. Be grateful you are not one of them — those who, if they won the lottery, would sit around and do nothing; who would feel no compelling calling to contribute to society. You are blessed with the opposite character trait. My hunch is that if you won the lottery, you would find a way to do more, and to do whatever you do, better.

Your inherent sense of mission is that strong. And if you don’t quite feel that, you’re in a moment when you can have some significant breakthroughs discovering it. For many different reasons, this time in your life is a call to action.

Pluto, the transformer, is currently in your birth sign or rising sign, touching your chart in a personal way. Pluto’s journey through Capricorn spans from 2008 through 2026, so it may seem way too long to think of as a defined era of your life. While there will be energy peaks during certain years — this is one of them — Pluto in Capricorn is indeed a journey unto itself, marking a distinct phase of personal and collective history.

Image by RAEchel Running.

Image by RAEchel Running.

And you’re in one of its most significant moments right now, as we enter the peak of the Uranus-Pluto square over the next six months. Indeed, it would be fair, despite all the challenges, to consider whether this is one of the best moments of your life. As Martha Lang-Wescott has pointed out, people often dread the thought of Pluto transits, then once they get used to the energy of progress and change, miss them when they’re over. Fortunately they last a while, and they change us in irrevocable ways.

Get to know that Plutonian energy — the constant sensation of push. The conscious ache to grow and to become. The drive to change. The feeling that the work is never done. Soon enough this will morph into welcoming the next task to be begun, and give you the patience and the persistence to see each one through.

The process accelerates this year, due to the cross in the heavens that extends from Pluto in Capricorn to Uranus in Aries, and then from Jupiter in Cancer to the newest edition to the pattern — Mars in Libra. This is called a grand cross, and it’s the full activation of the most important angles of your chart: your 1st house, Capricorn, which you can think of as your personality matrix and individual identity; your 4th house, Aries, which is where you seek grounding, security and your home base (especially significant because ever-important Aries is involved); your 7th house, Cancer, which is your relationship and partnership zone; and perhaps most significantly, your 10th house, Libra — the house of aspiration and reputation, where Mars will be retrograde for a good part of the year. I will be devoting a good portion of this reading to Mars in your 10th house.

But first I want to take a different angle of approach to your chart, starting with your own sign and making sure we really clarify the presence of Pluto, and then slipping backwards into your 12th house, Sagittarius. Then we will bring the rest of the grand cross into the picture.

Deeper Than the Surface

The Sun sign or ascendant describes certain characteristics about a person, often ones that we relate to closely. I don’t think this is a matter of conditioning; the descriptions are uncanny. I am familiar with scores of planets in my own chart, and have seen it in countless formats; at the end of the day I am a Pisces.

But we also know there are alternative expressions of who we are, which include the Moon sign and other planetary groupings. It would not be fair to call your primary sign superficial, but it does represent the most basic level of interplay with the world.

Capricorn is an interesting blend of initiative and stability. I think of Capricorn as the mountain range of the earthy signs. It seems still, stable and permanent — yet its very existence is evidence of profound movement beneath the ground. Something pushed those mountains up so high, with enormous force. The mountains are evidence of that force.

The elements will sculpt and shape the mountains over the eons; and earthquakes will shift and change them, accelerating the process of change. Yet when we look at them at a glance, we see them as a stable pattern. When you see the forces at work on the mountain, you start to see it as a thing in motion; a moving process.

Pluto is part of that process. You can think of its presence as an elemental condition that is sculpting your life through various experiences and the need or desire to dive into who you are deeper than you ever have. Under the influence of Pluto you have the power to shape and change your life, to make long overdue changes and to bring out what was hidden deep inside you.

Between Pluto’s action and the considerable support it (and you) have from the other planets involved in the grand cross, this is the year when you are likely to make some of the most significant changes you’ve made in your life so far. I am here to tell you that you have the power to make those changes; you have the strength and you will indeed have the resources you need — particularly the personal resources.

It’s also possible that you’re experiencing Pluto’s presence as a crisis. Pluto can leave you feeling backed against a wall, with few or no options, or like you’re being forced to make changes you don’t want to make. If this is what you’re experiencing, it deserves careful evaluation.

For example, if you’re being compelled to do something, or to change, has this been on your agenda for a long time? Is it something that you’ve avoided or put off in the past? If so, you’re likely to be feeling considerable pressure to make it happen now, to catch up with yourself, so that you can live in the present moment. People who resist change tend to be the ones who struggle the most with Pluto transits, and who give them a bad reputation.

I would propose that the presence of a Pluto transit suggests you’re ready to change, ready to grow, and that you have an energy source helping you in the process. Pluto in your sign means you’re ready to let go of the past, to break it down into its basic elements, and to recycle all that material as you construct your new life.

Yet beneath the mountains are the tectonic forces that initially put them there, and that are still active today. You can think of these as the unstoppable spiritual forces that are just beneath the veil of the world that we see.

In worldly terms, it’s the power that moves the continents, the heat at the core of the Earth, the mystery that lurks below the surface of what we see. In terms of the personality, you can think of that power source as the soul working within what we think of as the body or the personality — the deeper aspect of who you are, which can transcend personality entirely.

While Pluto is at work on the mountains, there are some unusual forces of nature at work on the soul level, one sign back. We find this in Sagittarius, your 12th solar house if you have Capricorn Sun, 12th by whole sign houses if you’re Capricorn rising. There are many ways to think of the 12th house, and the ‘correct’ way will be personal, related to the setup of one’s chart and, often, to the planets found in that house. The 12th is by far the most mysterious, elusive and interesting of all, and you have Sagittarius here. Of its own, without even considering any planets, Sagittarius contains some of the greatest mysteries of our universe — the core of our own Milky Way galaxy.

Compared to the Galactic Core, Pluto is a grain of sand. The core contains a supermassive black hole, the thing that holds together our entire galaxy. And this is what you have spinning right below the surface of your psyche. Pluto was recently conjunct this point; that happened in a long process that by the longest measure spanned from about 2005 through about 2007. In the course of that process, Pluto was itself changed — it went from being a planet to a ‘dwarf planet’, part of a major reorganization of the solar system. Pluto is also delivering energy from the Galactic Core to you.

But it is merely a symbol. The source is directly within you. At the moment, there are many potent, meaningful planets little known to astrology that are gathered in Sagittarius and which are one by one about to cross the Galactic Core. You can think of this as a fire burning in your soul.

What you are experiencing is a profound process of transformation from the inside out. It would be an understatement to call this ‘spiritual’. Rather, this is the very thing to which spiritual aspires — to tap directly the strength, the light, the knowledge of the soul level of consciousness.

When you think of what Pluto is doing in your life, imagine that its job is to penetrate through the sometimes-dense layers of personality, of attachment, of past baggage, of ways that have been set in place for too long, and help you connect directly with the light. This is not the old Pluto that is doing this but the new one: transformed by the Galactic Center, not a ‘planet’ but in truth a member of the Kuiper Belt where many other planets reside, working in a much gentler way to connect you with your inner light.

Meanwhile, that light is working from the inside. Things you might have thought of as impossible issues will have a way of yielding to the power of healing and love, if you allow them.

The approach to take under a Pluto transit is to consider problems that arise to be resources. Each time you encounter a problem, and you take it on a conscious level, you’re likely not only to solve that problem but to make a discovery, improve your situation considerably, or create a resource you were not expecting to create.

Patric Walker once said of Saturn that it gives much more than it takes away. I would say the same is true for Pluto, and what Pluto takes away is usually what you would do better without. Not always, of course, but most of the time, and it’s worth experimenting with that point of view.

One Thing Pluto Grants: Personal Power

On the most basic level, there is one significant thing to remember about Pluto in your birth sign: it increases your impact in the world. Pluto makes you more noticeable, and it gives you greater impact when you engage with others. Pluto has a penetrating quality.

It’s necessary for you to know this, so that you can adjust your heat and flame appropriately.

You may be making a much greater impact than you think. I am aware that most of us feel like we don’t really come across, or that people don’t bother to notice us. That’s often true, and it’s also true that there are plenty of fools who play it cool and make their world a little colder.

You may not be able to change how nonchalant people act toward just about everything and everyone, but you can count on the fact that they are noticing you — even if they don’t let on.

I don’t believe in the standard advice given to intense people — you know, the whole ‘tone it down’ school of thought, which actually translates to ‘don’t threaten me with how real you are’. However, given that you have this extra mojo working, you need to be conscious of it, and learn how to modulate it. It’s a little like handling a laser; you don’t want to do that casually. So make sure you know how much pressure to apply to any situation. Your presence alone is significant; one comment will be significant; your meaning will come across.

There are a few qualities that people with a powerful Pluto, whether natally or by transit, might have. One is that their presence in the room feels louder, even if they feel a bit more invisible. Another is that the energy of Pluto provokes others to confront their ‘stuff’ even if that’s not what you’re intending. You just might say something casually that goes to the bottom line of what someone is feeling, then suddenly they go into reaction mode (whether they say something about it or not).

You’re not responsible for their reaction; however, you can also learn to focus your power so that it is constructive for everyone. For reasons I will explain in the next section, you need to be especially focused in your business dealings, career matters and dealings with authority figures.

Mars Completes the Cardinal Cross

The centerpiece of 2014 astrology is the way that Mars in Libra connects with Pluto in Capricorn, and Uranus in Aries (and thus the Uranus-Pluto square), as well as Jupiter in Cancer. This completes what is called a grand cross. While this is significant for everyone, this particular bit of astrology is especially meaningful for those born under a cardinal sign, or who have a cardinal sign rising — and Capricorn qualifies.

Mars is currently in your 10th house (10th solar house if you’re Capricorn Sun and 10th house by whole sign houses if you’re Capricorn rising). The 10th is the house of reputation, professional affairs, your relationship to the power structure, your authority and how you use it. Some say it’s also the house of fame, but I’ve seen about a thousand charts of famous people that don’t have much of a 10th house — so it’s no guarantee either way. It is however fair to say that you will feel more visible, and seek some visibility, when you have activity in the 10th — and you do.

That activity is Mars, a planet closely associated with Capricorn (Mars is exalted in Cap, which is to say that it has what is called dignity in your sign). Mars is in Libra, where it will be through late July. This is not an easy placement for Mars, but it’s a useful one and it will be very useful to you.

The experience of ‘fitting in’ to a power structure is an extremely uncomfortable situation for most people. There are those who seem to be naturals at this, though I assure you that most of them did a lot of experimentation on the way to getting where they are today. Mars in Libra is about this process of figuring out how to be part of something larger than yourself.

Libra represents the subtleties of negotiation, and of presentation, but it represents something much more basic — something that anyone who knows how to use their personal power and influence has figured out: that everything is a relationship. Everyone is a person, and you have a relationship to anyone you meet, or who you serve, or who serves you in some way; and that relationship is the forum for everything you exchange.

This holds true for everyone you encounter, though it becomes an especially important thing to consider when power of any kind is introduced to the situation. It’s the relationship that keeps the power in balance. It’s therefore essential that you always treat people as people. And always present yourself as a person, nothing more, nothing less.

Among a few basic tips I can give are:

1. Work with a flexible strategy for whatever you wish to achieve.

2. Any time you make a presentation, do it in a beautiful way. Humans have a soft spot for beauty and quality, no matter how much McDonald’s some of them try to stuff down their gullets. Don’t worry about the salt and fat addictions — do your best work and offer it in a pleasing way.

3. Keep your relationships grounded on the human level. Considering things like food, how comfortable the room is (including the lighting), how late people are working, external stresses and quite simply how people feel will all make you a more compelling participant in business or any professional matter.

4. Try to remember people’s names and don’t ever — ever — expect them to remember yours. When you re-introduce yourself to someone, gently prompt them about your prior contact in a casual, non-patronizing way. Give people time to get familiar with who you are and what you do, as you do the same with them.

5. Be clear in your negotiations. Particularly around the time of the retrograde, be extremely conscious about not making promises that you cannot keep; you might want to avoid making major commitments between March and May and if you do need to, be extraordinarily careful about your ability to deliver what you promise on time. If you can, leave yourself Position B just in case you encounter delays or logistical issues.

6. Be ambitious but be subtle about it. Demonstrate your worth by doing quality work. Participate and be involved; you don’t need to push your way to the top. The cream will rise to the surface.

7. Remember to consider things from the viewpoint of others. Multiple factors suggest this — I am about to cover one of the most important in the last section.

8. Get to know the top leadership of whatever organizations you’re involved with. Take any opportunity to meet the top boss, with no special agenda other than to say hello. It’s always helpful to know the Great Man or the Great Woman, long before you have some reason to do so. If you’re someone who wants to get involved in your community, start by meeting all of your government representatives, the mayor and your congressional rep. You do not need an agenda — rather, build familiarity for when you do have an agenda.

9. Problems are more easily resolved from the top down than from the bottom up. You can waste your time with a customer service rep, or you can get to the Client Services or Executive Services level with little effort. Remember that every major company has this level — I call it the ‘we can turn night to day’ level of customer care. I will give you an example. I was having an issue with my car insurance company a few months ago. I wanted it resolved quickly and I knew it was over the head of the lower-level people answering the phone.

I looked up the leadership team of the insurance company. These are now on the Internet, readily available. I found the vice president for claims (which was the closest vice president I could find, whose job description matched my issue). I got the person’s phone number. I was directed to their executive assistant, whose outgoing voicemail gave the number of the top-tier client services department. You can follow this basic template for nearly any company. Do not be intimidated. Go right to the top.

Venus Retrograde, Mars Retrograde — Role Reversals

I have not said enough about Venus retrograde in your sign; I will sum it up here and develop the story more in your birthday reading. This is happening concurrently with Mars working up to a retrograde in Libra. The interesting point here is that Mars is exalted in Capricorn and Venus rules Libra. The two planets occupy signs that the other is comfortable in. This is called mutual reception or more properly, mixed reception, but the basic idea is the same. The planets get to switch places; they get to see the world from one another’s point of view.

This has many implications — including serving to open up many more options than you might have thought were available otherwise. But the most meaningful one that I see is the bit about always doing what you can to see life and to understand the world from the point of view of someone else, be it a relationship partner, a friend, someone in authority or someone over whom you hold some authority. Family relationships count, going in all directions.

This may be the golden key for you — the thing that eases the way as you experience the many unusual developments of 2014 and, as you always do, come out a winner — in style.

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Capricorn chart.

Capricorn chart.

Capricorn sketch.

Capricorn sketch.

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