As with many others growing up near Detroit during these past few decades, money was tight, and in our family a constant emphasis was placed on the financial hardship we endured. While my parents worked hard to make sure we always had food on the table and a roof over our heads, my father, a Leo, was always just as sure to let us all know just how much he had to sacrifice to make it all happen. He was vocal about the cost of everything we did, especially if we happened to “splurge” by going out to eat at the local diner.
After years of my father’s constant and unconcealed rumination about how expensive my existence was, I began to perceive myself as a burden on him and on our family. My father would often criticize me, and in order to avoid his criticism, I learned to be as physically and financially “independent” as possible early on. As an adult, this translated into a fierce drive toward self-sufficiency where I would give everything to those I loved while choosing to accept almost nothing in return. I went into debt, let my friends and boyfriends take advantage of me financially, and sometimes even went without eating, all in the name of an “independence” that existed only in my mind.
On the wake of the Jupiter/Sun/Transpluto conjunction at the early degrees of Virgo last week, I inadvertently stumbled into a revelation about the significance of Transpluto and the powerful role it seems to play in my own natal chart, and how it’s affected my relationship with my father, as well as the other men I’ve let into my life throughout the years. Now, you may already be asking yourself, “What the heck is Transpluto?” Don’t worry, we’ll get into that. But first, we need to backtrack to provide a foundation for this story.
In 1846, Neptune was discovered by astronomers John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier, who used irregularities in the orbit of Uranus to calculate the position of the unseen planet, whose existence was then observed and verified by German astronomers Johann Gottfried Galle and Heinrich Louis d’Arrest. Shortly after this new outer planet was discovered, irregularities in the orbit of Neptune subsequently led to the discovery of Pluto. Pluto, officially classified as a “dwarf planet,” turned out to be far too small to fully account for the perturbations in Neptune’s orbit, which led to a search for another distant planet orbiting our Sun. Some astronomers believe that they are able to use irregularities in the orbits of the outer planets to calculate the orbit of a planet that lies far beyond Pluto. However, there is a lack of consensus within the scientific community about the proposed size and location of this hypothetical planet. Still, some astrologers have taken a liking to the idea of a transplutonian planet, and based on the data we currently have, more than one Transpluto ephemeris has been calculated, the first of which was published in Germany in 1972 by astrologer and scientist Theodor Landscheidt.
Prior to the discovery of the outer planets, the traditional planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) were given shared rulership over two signs each, while the luminaries (the Sun & the Moon) each ruled one sign. As each additional outer planet was discovered, astrologers worked to identify the influences. Over time, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were given rulership over Aquarius, Pisces, and Scorpio (previously ruled by Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars). Since Pluto’s discovery in 1930, and its subsequent designation as the ruler of Scorpio, there are only two planets left that share rulership over two signs each. In the current model, Venus rules both Taurus and Libra, while Mercury rules over both Gemini and Virgo. Personally, I’ve always had the sense that the true ruler over Taurus is the Earth, and, as a Virgo, I’ve never felt quite right about Mercury’s rulership over my Sun sign. Maybe it’s my Virgoan tendency to want to organize things into nice, even categories, or maybe it’s my sense that Mercury doesn’t fully account for the idea of Virgo as the worker bee, the healer, and the one who is here to act in service of others. That is where Transpluto comes into play.
So, what is Transpluto and how does it have any influence over the natal chart? Well for now, Transpluto is a hypothetical planet that exists only as a mathematic calculation until technology progresses in a way that allows us to experience the planet (or lack thereof) in a tangible, sensory way. As for Transpluto’s influence, I’ll provide you with my own experience and interpretation and leave you to decide for yourself.
Transpluto in the Natal Chart
Astrologer and researcher Lynn Koiner has been investigating the influence of Transpluto since 1972, and I find her work to be incredibly accurate. According to Koiner’s research, a heavily aspected Transpluto in the chart fuels criticism, perfectionism, a strong pull toward self-sufficiency, and a desire to give while receiving nothing in return. Those with a strong Transplutonian influence tend to have hypercritical parents, which leads to self-criticism and judgment later in life. They’re often perfectionists, feeling nothing they accomplish is ever good enough. They desire full control and self-sufficiency as a means to avoid being criticized by others. They give and give and give, but do not wish to be on the receiving end of other people’s charity, as that would mean relinquishing their autonomy and opening themselves up to the judgments of others.
Transpluto is a slow-moving planet, and at its current speed it is shifting less than one degree every 2-3 years. This likely explains why many astrologers have given this hypothetical planet rulership over Taurus, and this is also the reason why the broader Transplutonian influence over the world at large has yet to be discovered. It will be interesting to see what Koiner and other astrologers find in their research in the coming years, for as an outer planet, Transpluto’s influence reaches far beyond the individual into the realm of the collective.
Just like with the signs of Scorpio, Aquarius, and Pisces, the influence of Mercury as one of its rulers can still be seen in Virgo, as Mercury does still maintain a substantial influence over the most humble of the astrological signs. Virgo is the sign of self-awareness and the awareness of how one interacts and affects the world around him/her. I feel that Mercury represents the self-oriented, intellectual aspects of Virgo. It represents the quick, analytical mind, attention to detail, fine organizational skills, etc., while Transpluto, being an outer planet, represents the side of Virgo that is both other-oriented and focused on its impact on the collective. It represents Virgo as the helper, the healer, the giver, and the hard-worker. It’s the side of Virgo that recognizes its practical impact on those it interacts with, and it’s also the side of Virgo that recognizes and reacts to criticism and judgment from others.
Lurking in the shadows far beyond Pluto, Transpluto’s effects are felt and observed in the physical realm, but the planet itself remains unseen. Transpluto is a humble planet, which shares its humility with the sign of Virgo; a desire to work hard without recognition, a desire to remain unseen. Behind the curtain, Transpluto analyzes, critiques, helps, and heals; forever striving to perfect the self as well as the other.
My Transpluto Story
Despite the gravity of Koiner’s research and the apparent significance of the influence of Transpluto when it’s highlighted in the natal chart, there still seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding Transpluto among the astrological community.
A handful of astrologers love the hypothetical planet and include it in nearly all of their readings, and some are aware of its existence but choose not to engage with it or give it much weight. Many others have simply never heard of it, and there are a few who think the idea of including a hypothetical planet in the chart is complete nonsense. Me, on the other hand, I’m a believer, and here’s why:
If you recall my story from the beginning of this article, the story of my father’s constant stress over our finances and how this led me to perceive myself as a burden on our family. The reason I feel such a strong, intense need to be self-sufficient, to always be the giver and never the receiver, has everything to do with my father, who happens to be a Leo.
The Sun in the chart is thought to represent the father during childhood, and Leo is ruled by the Sun. In my chart, Leo is both figuratively and literally my father. Upon looking up the Transpluto ephemeris and determining its location in my natal chart, I discovered that Transpluto, the hypothetical planet of criticism, perfectionism, self-sufficiency, and service, is conjunct my MC at 21 degrees in Leo, the sign of my father. This Transpluto/MC conjunction in my chart is also in trine with Saturn in my 2nd house in Sagittarius. Saturn represents the father later in life, and it is this same Saturn, along with my father’s early influence, that forces me to work hard for everything I have. It is the same Saturn that fuels my drive toward physical and financial independence and self-sufficiency, and the same Saturn I share with my husband, who happens to be a Sagittarius.
Happily Ever After
My personal Transpluto lesson doesn’t end with my father. It continues to be played out in my life and in my relationships in a significant way. Throughout my childhood, my father taught me how to take care of myself and how to be self-sufficient. He taught me to have high standards for myself and for others. He taught me to love, all the while guarding my heart against rejection … and my husband later revised that final lesson, teaching me to love freely and courageously.
Roughly nine years ago, I met a boy. We were 18 years old, and I was about to enter my first undergraduate class at Michigan State University. Following my schedule, I found myself baffled when it led me to an “Asian Literature” class that I swear I hadn’t signed up for. As I walked into the lecture hall filled with international exchange students of various Asian descent, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy with a pierced lip caught my eye and shot me the biggest, brightest smile I’d ever seen. The following week, that blonde-haired boy took a seat beside me. Six years and several chance encounters and missed opportunities later, that boy became a man, and that man showed up on my doorstep on Halloween night in 2012, flashing me the same bright smile that first caught my eye in college. On that night, Mars in Sagittarius (both his Sun and Ascendant sign) happened to be conjuncting my natal Saturn, in trine with my Transpluto.
This man soon became by boyfriend and a couple months later, after an unfortunate series of events, I was in a state of complete financial desperation and he generously offered me his help. At the time, I could see no other option but to accept. From that point forward, my life slowly became much easier. Everything felt like less of a struggle now that I had an ally on my side, someone I could trust to help me without expecting anything in return. He never judged me, criticized me, or made me feel like a burden; he simply wished to make my life better in any way he could. The next three years marked the beginning of a markedly different Transpluto lesson. I learned to trust the man I loved to pick me up when I was down, to give unconditionally, and to love me even when I wasn’t able to love myself. This man is now my husband and I couldn’t be more grateful for the series of events that led us to our wedding day.
So where was the lesson in all of this? Well for me, my Transpluto lesson was one of balance: balance between self-sacrifice and self-sufficiency; self-criticism and self-improvement; giving and receiving; control and surrender. It was a lesson in balance between sharing my heart and guarding it against judgment. This is a lesson that I’m still working on.
Transpluto’s lesson is about taking the critical, perfectionist nature of this hypothetical planet, and utilizing it to help and heal others, rather than to hurt ourselves. It’s about self-care and taking responsibility for our own personal growth and transformation, and it’s about using that experience to show others how to become whole.