The Story Behind Pluto

The Pluto archetype represents our relationship with the ultimates of life: birth, sex and death, the extremes of destruction and creation, and the elemental forces of nature. It confronts us with the need to regenerate and evolve, and reveals our issues around power, mysteries and taboos. Pluto is the ruler of Scorpio. The symbol is the circle of spirit over the crescent of soul above the cross of matter.

PlutoKeywords for Pluto:
  • Transformation
  • Rebirth
  • Death
  • Chthonic
  • Extremity
  • Catharsis

Pluto Myths

There are many gods and goddesses associated with this archetype. In Egyptian mythology we have Set, the god of darkness and evil who destroyed his brother, Osiris. Set is depicted as a serpent with whom the sun god Ra fights each night in the underworld. In Hindu mythology we have Kali, the ‘Black Mother’. Kali is a bloodthirsty goddess of battle and death, and is depicted with red eyes, protruding tongue, and a necklace of human skulls. She rules over disintegration and disease, but also restores life to the faithful. In Sumerian mythology we have Ereshkigal, or ‘Lady of the Great Place Below.’ Ereshkigal is goddess of the underworld and destroyed her sister Inanna, leaving her on a meat hook to rot.

Hades abducting Persephone
Hades abducting Persephone

In Greek mythology we have Hades, Lord of the underworld. Hades is the son of Kronos and brother of Zeus, and wears a helmet that makes him invisible in the upper world; although he doesn’t need it much, since he only visits twice, once to heal an injury, and once to abduct Persephone. Hades was served by Thanatos, god of death and son of the goddess Night or Nyx. Thanatos is depicted as a winged spirit and serves Hades by bringing him subjects, i.e. dead people. The Roman version of Hades is Pluto, which means ‘wealth’, or Dis, which means ‘rich’.

Finally, we have Persephone, whose name means ‘bringer of destruction’. Persephone starts out as a maiden, goddess of spring and daughter of Demeter and Zeus. But then she is abducted by Hades and taken down into the underworld where she is raped. She has a child called Zagreus or Dionysus, and from then is known as ‘Queen of the Dead’.

Pluto Myths on Film

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy tells the story of the search for a mole in the British Secret Service. Ex-MI6 agent George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman, is tasked with investigating his former colleagues in order to discover who has betrayed their country and turned double agent for the KGB. It’s a tale of broken friendships and corrupt power eating away at the heart of the establishment.

Shame 2011
Shame 2011

Shame tells the story of New York businessman Brandon, played by Michael Fassbender. Although he seems successful, Brandon is struggling to hide his sex addiction. His sister Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan, comes to visit and tries to help him, but she has troubles of her own, pushing Brandon to new depths of self-destructiveness.

>Read the rest of the series here

Image: Hades

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