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Astro-Tarot Series

Arcanum 22: Pluto and the Materialist

First printed in American Astrology Magazine November 1938

Elbert Benjamine

The original material has been edited for accuracy
and to improve ease of reading.

Photo via Good Free Photos

Until the discovery of Pluto was announced to the world on March 13, 1930 [discovered February 18th] Major Arcanum 22 of the tarot was a mystifying paradox. It always was considered as possessing an alternative interpretation. It was thus either number 22 or the no-numbered card represented by zero.

Sometimes it was viewed as the person who recognizes the impermanence and worthlessness of the dross, tinsel and outward display for which many devote the energies of their lives. Renouncing all such show and physical gain is spiritually wise; however, it does seem materially foolish.

More often it was considered the reverse of this — as the person who turns their back on the light of spirit, believes the physical is the all of life and thus is on the plane of the predatory brutes, struggling only for material advantage, with no mercy to those who stand in their way. Considered from this view the card has come to be known as The Materialist.

Its astrological correspondence was given as the unknown planet. But today the planet is no longer unknown and now that we have had opportunity to intensively study the action of Pluto in thousands of birth charts, we perceive with admiration how precisely the ancients, who probably knew of the planet only through their psychic faculties, portrayed its characteristics in the Materialist tarot card. [In 2006 the IAU reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet — the ninth-largest and tenth-most-massive known object directly orbiting the Sun. This is a controversial move for astrologers]

The most outstanding characteristic of Pluto is the two opposing sides of its nature. It is never weak, timid or vacillating. It is always very bad or very good, exceptionally brutal or unusually spiritual. It incites the most atrocious crimes, giving us the racketeer or it influences effective work for social welfare, giving us the inspired leader who encourages all to cooperate for the common good.

Arcanum 22: The Materialist or The SpiritualistPluto’s alternate influence on humankind and on the individual is explained on the card in the language of symbolical pictograph thus:

It is figured by a blind person carrying bags on their left shoulder; but whether they are blind to spiritual illumination or to material advantage is not indicated, only that if, out of necessity, they take heed of one, they are blind to the other. The bags over the shoulder indicate the material things of life they have spent their efforts acquiring, or they represent ability to minister in physical ways to those in need.

Leaning on a black staff, this person walks toward a fallen obelisk behind which a crocodile with wide-open mouth awaits to devour them. The staff of experience with good and evil is black, indicating that prudence is either subservient to the demands of the senses, or that the demands for uplifting and protecting others is so great that, though enlightened, they ignore all danger.

The fallen obelisk symbolizes the final overthrow of all temporal work and power. The crocodile indicates the ultimate fate of all who are blind to spiritual things, and it indicates also the persecution of those who work to spread the true facts of spirituality.

Above is an eclipse of the Sun. This eclipse signifies that the spiritual light from within has been obscured by material interests, or that dark forces from the inner plane try to shut away the spiritual illumination which guides the neophyte. It even denotes the eclipse of the proper understanding of the various forces which Pluto rules through confusion of terminology, for Pluto, the ruler of the sign Scorpio, is now known to rule the invisible realm (where the so-called dead sojourn), radio and telepathic methods of communication, and the energies of the inside of things such as the intra-atomic force which is said to bind the atoms together with a force a thousand times stronger than that of gravitation.

Material science has not advanced far enough to enable us to comprehend much of inner plane phenomena. It is not surprising that the terminology applied to it is confusing. Nor is it surprising that confusion has arisen, since the etheric body, which is part of a persons invisible domain, was only demonstrated in 1936 by material science to be electrical in origin. The cells of the physical body are like miniature batteries furnishing the electricity which become nerve currents with measurable charges and radiations.

While it undoubtedly is true that when velocities in excess of a certain unknown rate are present, new types of conditions and attributes are present which are characteristic of the spiritual plane, yet nearly all of that which commonly is attributed to the spiritual plane in reality belongs to the spiritual levels of the astral world. The truly spiritual world is too far removed from the physical to be much more than occasionally glimpsed by the most advanced in the use of psychic perception. And even the upper reaches of the astral are so refined and spiritual that it requires unusually high spiritual development to even momentarily contact them.

Therefore, for all practical purposes, the truly spiritual world — which has freedom and characteristics as strange to those dwelling in the astral realm as the freedom of movement and the different relations of time, space and gravitation that exist on the astral plane seem strange to those accustomed to physical conditions and limitations — may be ignored in the study of inner plane phenomena. It has an existence, but its environment is too far removed to give observation much value.

For practical purposes we consider the invisible world, ruled by Pluto, as embracing the etheric realm and the astral world. As pointed out when considering The Sarcophagus tarot card, when an object gains a velocity greater than that of light, the common laws of gravitation and those relating to time and space no longer hold. Then, It is something belonging to the astral plane. Thoughts and the unconscious mind have such velocities and therefore are not physical things, nor are they etheric, where velocities are those of light. They are movements and organizations of astral substance. Planetary energies that exert an influence upon human life are charted by astrology to also have velocities greater than light and thus are forces of the astral plane.

In between physical substance and astral substance are the borderline energies — electromagnetic vibrations, radiations and light — that have the critical velocity of about 186,000 miles a second which gives them some qualities of the physical plane and some of the astral plane. These so-called etheric forces are transitional energies, transforming readily the energy of one plane into the energy of the other plane; and those of them that are invisible, belong to Pluto’s domain. Light, however, being visible is not part of his realm. While it is true that highly evolved humans have the rudiments of a spiritual body, which so far as it is present belongs to the spiritual plane, for all practical purposes, in considering humans and occult forces, we only need to investigate two planes and the borderline energy which permits exchanges between them.

Relationship Between the Inner and Outer Planes

When we are confronted with the experience of a psychic who sees the physical body, the etheric body, an emotional body, an astral body, a mental body, a solar body, and so-on, we are not called upon to dispute what is seen, but we are privileged to interpret it in the light of most recent findings.

The aura of the etheric body, for instance, does have two quite distinct zones. It can be seen by the normal person who sensitizes his eyes with Kilnur’s dicyanin screen, or better still with the pinacyanol screen developed by Bagnall. Oscar Bagnall in his book, The Origin and Properties of the Human Aura made a distinct and valuable contribution to our knowledge of the etheric body. He approaches the matter effectively as a material scientist. His screen shows that there is a denser brighter inside aura which extends some three inches from the skin of the physical body. It has certain properties that are similar to those of a magnetic field.

Then outside this inside aura, and extending six to eight inches beyond it, is an outer haze which fades into nothingness at its outer margin and which around the body is more or less oval in shape. This outside aura behaves more in the manner of ultra violet light than as a magnetic field.

Now it is common for psychics to see these two zones of the aura and to give them names which imply they are of quite different planal substance. The inner aura, for instance, often is said to belong to the etheric body and the outer aura then is said to belong to the emotional body, which by them is believed to be of the substance of the astral plane. Yet it is obvious from the fact that they can be seen by the physical eye properly sensitized to perceive vibrations slightly higher in frequency than violet light, that both these zones of the aura are phenomena of the etheric order. That is, they are electric in origin and constitute an electromagnetic field, and radiations from electrically charged particles, which are but slightly higher in frequency, and have the same speed as light. The currents which carry messages over the nerves, the vitality of the physical body, the etheric body and both the inner and the outer aura, are phenomena of the borderline etheric substance.

These same psychics also consider that there are several inner planes, each with its own type of substance. Thus the emotional body and events which transpire on the emotional plane are coarser and of lower vibration than the mental body and the event which transpire on the mental plane. As we have just seen, however, that which most of them call the emotional body really belongs to the borderline energy, grading off from etheric in nature to that which is truly astral. And that which these same psychics call mental substance is but one type of many manifestations of astral energy on the astral plane, that which is called spiritual by them being but another.

This is not stated for the purpose of criticizing these psychics. It merely points to the fact that recent discoveries in material science give us a more precise conception of what they actually see. For the effect of a strong emotion upon both the etheric body and the astral body is very different than the effect upon them of intellectually working to solve some problem. Yet both emotion and intellectual effort, each in its own way, has a profound influence upon both the etheric energies and the astral energies of the person so engaged.

Let us consider that desire is the energies of certain thought-cells or groups of thought-cells within the unconscious mind in a potential state, straining to be released in a given activity: to move the physical body, to acquire sustenance, to destroy an enemy, to realize love, to enjoy a certain sensation, to solve a complex mental problem, or any one of innumerable other things. That is, desire is energy which has produced a tension which seeks release in some activity. And this activity, in which the desire energy finds release, in turn gives rise to more or less feeling.

Certain desires, however, are powerful enough that the discharge of their energy when the tension is released creates a profound and widespread disturbance of the electrical currents which flow over the nerves. These more violent desires are responses of the life-form to emergency situations. Some of these situations are: the call to conflict, stimulating anger; realizing inadequacy to handle a situation, stimulating fear; realization of loss sustained and consequent inadequacy, stimulating sorrow; belief that a fond desire will be realized, stimulating hope; realization of a fond hope stimulating joy; and the thought or presence of a loved one, stimulating passion or love. Such situations demand that energies be present in more than normal volume. Hence the tensions of the nervous system are such as quickly to generate electrical currents so powerful that when these energies are released they are violent enough to give rise to profound disturbances of the etheric body and the astral body and to develop those intense feelings which are termed emotion.

Intellectual thinking, however, makes use of desire energies far removed from emergency situations. It uses images and symbols which are more or less abstractions of the things which arouse the strong primitive desires. Hence the electrical currents generated in the process, while perhaps having an exceedingly high potential and able consequently to radiate much shorter wavelengths than emotion normally does, nevertheless have far less volume, and their release does not set up such profound and widespread disturbances in either the etheric body or the unconscious mind.

Intellectual thinking and emotion both make use of the substance of the same planes and utilize the same kind of energies. However, Emotion is energy released with violence and in volume, while intellectual thinking releases similar energy with less violence and volume, but commonly with shorter wavelength radiations. I say commonly, advisedly, because spiritual aspiration and the higher types of love also have high voltage and a vibratory rate sufficiently great that they reach and have an influence upon the upper astral levels.

While the substance affected is the same whether it is acted upon by emotion or by intellect, the vibratory level of this substance may be markedly different. The astral world contains innumerable vibratory levels, just as there are innumerable different frequencies over each of which a radio program on earth can be broadcast. And on each of these thousands of vibratory levels, corresponding in the astral substance to possible frequencies in etheric substance that might be used in radio work, there are objects and life-forms undergoing experiences that to them are as objective as the experiences of people on earth. In fact, when one has tuned in on the particular level or moved there through having a similar basic vibration, its world, its denizens and its happenings are as intense and objective as physical experiences can be. And usually those on one level are quite unconscious of what is happening on other levels.

Herein lies the difference between the so-called emotional body and the mental body; for the more common emotions not only generate a great supply of rather low potential electrical energy, but their vibratory rate is such that they tune the individual to the lower levels of the astral world. High aspirations reach the higher levels, but most of the emotions do not lift the thoughts and thus the vibrations above the physical plane. This means that the individual tunes in on levels of the astral world where the program — which is the actual life of that level — is very much the same as that by which the individual is surrounded in his everyday life.

If a person is psychic, and exercises extrasensory perception, the things they see, hear and feel are neither more nor less spiritual than those they commonly contact on the physical plane. That is, the intelligences with which they commune are just as selfish, just as envious, just as petty as are those on the physical plane and just as likely to try to take advantage of them for their own ends.

This does not mean that all, or even any large portion, of contacts on the inner plane are lacking in noble qualities; it simply means that of the innumerable levels of astral existence, one's own thoughts and basic vibration tuned them in on a level where the denizens have a similar basic vibratory rate.

Now let us consider that Pluto is the ruler of the invisible realm, which includes both the boundary energies — for some of these are used in radio, which it has been demonstrated Pluto rules — and the energies of the astral plane. In reference to the radio, we have collected the birth charts of a great many associated in some way closely with it, observed the progressed aspects when they took up radio work and also noted the aspects in the cycle charts when news relating to the radio came prominently before the notice of the public. Pluto almost invariably is involved. We find also that when people most readily get telepathic messages and especially when they recognize thoughts sent to influence them, getting the thoughts clearly and becoming aware of the sender, is when there is a progressed aspect to Pluto in their birth charts.

From birth chart studies we have also noted that for establishing rapport between two individuals — not the ESP that is ruled by Neptune — whether one has left the physical plane or both are still in physical bodies and exchanging thoughts, that the wavelengths generated by the nervous system when Pluto is prominent in the birth chart and by progression are by far the most effective of all. They seem not so conducive to tuning in on objects or to perceiving astral scenes, as are the wavelengths of Neptune, but as the means by which one intelligence, whether of the physical world or the astral, can impress its thoughts upon another at a distance they rank first.

Through the better side of its nature, Pluto rules the noblest aspirations of people and those who labor unselfishly for human advancement. With the other side. it rules the gangster, the racketeer and those who are the enemies of human progress. It follows that intelligences of both extremes, as well as those of less pronounced tendencies, occupy the unseen realm which both by mythology and by practical research Pluto is deemed to rule. Furthermore, just as we witness on earth today in the struggle between dictatorships and democracy and between the efforts to penalize those who teach and practice astrology and those who are trying to give astrology to the public as the most valuable aid to better living it is possible for them to acquire, so the outstanding tendency of Pluto, which is to split into two opposing factions, has made itself felt in the invisible realm he rules.

In the border region, where velocities are slightly, if at all, greater than light, and where the etheric and astral energies blend, innumerable creatures dwell. They include fairies, sylphs, salamanders, gnomes and undines; and various other kinds, such as the mischievous ones which are usually responsible for the well-attested and not too uncommon poltergeist phenomena, in which stones are thrown, crockery smashed, doors opened, knocks and rappings and other annoying events take place in the presence of some particular person, usually of a youth near the age of puberty.

During the glandular readjustment of such a youngster, conditions may be such as to cause their nervous system to generate large volumes of low potential electricity. They give off great surpluses of etheric energy of just the type that most easily can be contacted and used by the creatures on the borderline between etheric and astral. Such phenomena usually cease as the youngster furnishing the energy matures.

The velocities of astral and etheric energies are not far different from that of light, and this borderline region where they blend is the home of intelligences which in their basic vibrations are similar to the creatures of earth. Some are not vicious, merely lacking in spirituality. Yet there are also others which resemble in appearance and in predatory habits the lion, the tiger, the bear and the wolf. That is, if one, with sufficiently developed ESP, were so inclined they can view the jungle of the astral plane, just as one can go to a not dissimilar jungle in the physical world.

But of greater importance to humans — because most people have no occasion to visit the jungle — are the discarnate human beings who occupy this borderline realm. On vibratory levels far above it dwell those who strive continually to benefit the human race, who inspire people to noble effort and encourage them in every unselfish and worthy enterprise. And if the individual tunes in on them or reaches them through an extension of his consciousness, they will aid him through the impressions of their thoughts.

But in the lower astral levels and in the borderland zone continue to dwell those who, for some reason, are earthbound. That is, their attachment to the conditions of the earth is so obsessive that they cannot rise to higher vibratory levels. Nor can those whose lives have been actuated solely by the predatory instincts of carnivorous beasts rise above the vibratory level of this border sphere. The racketeers, the gangsters — those who would prey upon the unwary and who are devoid of pity for the sufferings of others — persist as denizens of this astral-etheric Pluto border realm.

Many of those who died in war, unable to free themselves from the desire to be revenged upon their enemies, also linger in this domain close to earth and from it impress their desires and their plans upon those living who are sufficiently sensitive.

Both the high and the low, the refined and the gross in the invisible regions are portions of Pluto’s domain; and the thoughts and ambitions, aspirations and greed that today have divided the world into two contending camps, have largely been prompted from these regions. Pluto’s discovery was coincident with a more profound influence upon the earth of the invisible realm he rules.

(This concludes part 23 of 23)

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