Of all the outer planets, Pluto has the most ominous connotations. After all, it does signify death. However, the death may come to pass in different kinds of circumstances, which have a lot to do with what astrological activity is coincident. Not all death is Plutonian. If the death is accompanied by a great sense of loss, such as the death of a person well before their time, then there is a significant Neptunian quality. Or, the death may be sudden or shocking, such as an accident, in which case there is a strong Uranian quality.
Most important, death is not to be just taken literally. Often, it means some thing is dying, so as to open the door to regeneration and rebirth.
Take the story of a woman who was married at the age of 25, and had a son. But she gradually grew apart from her husband, and finally separated in June 1997. Here’s the solar arc (SA) chart for this time, overlaid on her natal chart:
You can see that SA Pluto is exactly on the natal descendant. The descendant, as cusp of the 7th house, signifies the marriage partner. Pluto brings death, but what has died here is not a person, but the marriage between two people. The death is merely a punctuation in the regeneration, but of what? This woman’s idea of relationship and marriage underwent a sustained regeneration, and with every passing day she grew a little stronger in being able to raise her son all by herself, and in seeing marriage as an unnecessary burden in her life. What did not kill her made her stronger – there is nothing more Plutonian than this.
This next account is of a woman whose mother suffered a heart attack in June 1997. (It’s a remarkable coincidence that the time period here is the same as in the previous example, but be assured these are different women!) The woman’s father had been dead for some years, and she was very close to her mother. Being an only child, she was alone in taking care of all her mother’s needs. At the same time as her mother’s heart attack, she herself was struggling with weight loss. And, as if this wasn’t enough, she had to have surgery for another complication. Here’s the transit chart for June 1, 1997, overlaid on her natal horoscope:
We find transiting Pluto, hovering at the bottom of the chart, drawing a bead on the IC. This was an extremely harrowing period in this woman’s life, with great emotional and physical pain. Her health, her emotional anchor, her psychological bearings were all on the verge of a total collapse. The IC is the foundation of life, and Pluto was trying to knock it down, delivering a traumatic death-like experience.
With Pluto, the meaning of death is really that it is the ultimate transformation. In theory, the hits of Pluto in motion, whether by transit or solar arc, over the natal angles are deeply and permanently transformative, and powerfully regenerating.