Category Archives: Duke of Buckingham

Pluto in the 17th Century: A Dwarf that Made a Difference!

At the end of an International Astronomical Union Conference in August 2006, after eight days of contentious debate, 424 of the world’s astronomers (about 5% of the world’s ‘professionals’) voted to demote the God of Death and Rebirth. Some 76 years after its discovery, planet Pluto found itself relegated from the premier league and the “big nine” to cosmic second division status as a dwarf planet.


Pluto did not die in 2006, whatever the claims of a modest book called How I Killed Pluto, by Caltech Professor Mike Brown. NASA continued its recently begun New Horizon’s Mission to Pluto and the mission’s leader, Alan Stern, became a vocal member of a group of professionals and laymen who have continued to this day to dispute the decision.

Stern says: “Many planetary scientists and, of course, many people in the public just discount the IAU’s wrongheaded vote and still consider it a planet, as I do. Because we know that if you were to show up in a spacecraft at Pluto and take a look, you certainly wouldn’t classify it as a rock or anything else. It’s obviously a planet by every comparison. I like to make the analogy that a chihuahua is still a dog.”

We will all soon be able to look over Stern’s shoulder and decide for ourselves. If all goes well, NASA’s first recorded fly-by of Pluto will take place on July 14th. The probe is currently checking for rings, unreported moons and anything else that might interrupt its final month of flight through the last 20 million miles before its long-anticipated close encounter.


The dedication of NASA scientists parallels that of astrologers who have shown no sign of weakening in loyalty to Pluto since its demotion. Pluto takes 248 years to make its way through the Zodiac, so can spend many years in each astrological sign. Its eccentric orb sends it tripping tardily through Taurus for as long as 30 years, while it spins through Scorpio in a dizzy dozen or less. Twelve years is still a long time to inhabit a sign. And this is why astrologers contend that Pluto can exert a ‘generational effect’.

While the space probe nears its nine-year destination and kicks up the cosmic dust in Pluto’s neighborhood, I’ve been researching 17th-century descendents of Lady Purbeck and Sir Robert Howard for a possible sequel to Nights of the Road, and noticing how much their circumstances varied through the generations. By the time I reached the family’s third generation, a light bulb went off in my head, which sent me scurrying back to check out a book I mentioned in an earlier blog: Patricia Walsh’s Understanding Karmic Complexes


Sure enough, some key changes in the fortunes of the Villiers-Howard-Danvers family during the 1600’s replicate patterns described by Walsh. And this observation has led me to explore the wider generational effects of Pluto during the reigns of England’s first three Stuart kings.

Walsh has shown brilliantly how a plethora of planetary influences can contribute to an person’s karmic complexes, as revealed through past life studies with her clients. In terms of generational influences, Pluto ranks number one, and Walsh uses a musical metaphor to describe his role.


“Pluto is like the drummer in the band that sets the beat… The drumbeat of Pluto is the accumulated intention that lies behind previous (past life) actions and present (life) conditions… the drummer sets the pace for the whole song… Pluto reflects the deeper meaning and the ‘why’ of any single or series of past life experiences and continues the rhythm into the current life. Understanding Pluto’s meaning in the chart is like peering into the psychology of the soul beyond the present or past life personalities.”

For most of the 17th-century, Britain’s monarchs and those they ruled remained impregnated with a belief in the divine right of kings. Even ten years of an Interregnum did not succeed in dislodging this conviction. The karmic signatures of the man at the top therefore may be expected to have strongly impacted the lives of his subjects and, when we compare the three Stuart reigns with their own respective Pluto transits, we find some remarkable differences in their karmic drumbeats.

James I, Charles I and Charles II were born when Pluto was transiting Pisces, Aries and Taurus respectively, although astrologers of the time did not know this, since Pluto was only identified and named in 1930.

Let’s focus first on James I (Pluto in Pisces). Historians, from mid-seventeenth century on, judged King James harshly, although some more recent studies have been kinder. During my own researches, I’ve developed a view of a peace-loving man, with a fluid and appeasing disposition, who threw occasional mild fits of spleen but generally viewed his world through a benign haze, often fuelled by hedonism born of addiction. James hit the bottle hard, kept on the move – I suspect this may have been to avoid awkward situations and unpleasantness – and expended much more energy hunting than ruling. However, he did maintain a nation in peace and, while he may not have enjoyed mixing with the people, he did not ride them roughshod.


James loved to philosophize. He displayed tolerance to those of different persuasions and encouraged religious debate. He may have been choleric toward an argumentative Parliament, but he seems to have been rarely if ever vindictive. Nor did he bear grudges like his son, and visit sins of the fathers upon the children. Families of those convicted of treason under James fared better than under Charles II, if the fates of Nights of the Road families like the Digbys (Gunpowder Plot) and Danvers (Regicide) were anything to go by.

James combined his love of learning with a vivid imagination. He wrote a book on demonology and worried about witches. He made several poor choices among those he trusted, and mixed his personal affairs of the heart with those of state. Preferring to sidestep conflict, he dithered when daughter Elizabeth became caught up in war. His negotiations about the Spanish Match for Charles meandered on for a decade, until the actions of his impetuous lover and son (Pluto in Aries) blew the whole house of cards down .

In my view, James’s reign does align quite well with Patricia Walsh’s description of the ‘Pisces karmic signature’. The match may be wishy-washy in parts, but it is never easy to pin down a free flowing water sign! Take a look at the table below, which compares some key events and characteristics of his reign with Walsh’s keywords, and see what you make of it:


Sign occupied by Pluto Dates of Pluto transit in sign Monarch/Leader born when Pluto in this sign Major Events /Characteristics of the reign Walsh: Keywords from past-life patterns of clients with karmic signature in sign
Pisces 1553 – 1577 James I ·       King’s love of peace and hatred of war·       Immobility re Thirty Years War·       Religion and philosophical dialogue (Hampton Court conference; King James Bible)·       Gunpowder Plot·       King infatuated with men who used him

·       Court hedonism

·       Demonology and witch-hunts

·       Surrender·       Weak boundaries·       Avoidance·       Religion and mysticism·       The collective

·       Transcendence

·       Innocence

·       Trusting & trust misplaced

·       Psychosis and addiction

·       Imagination and subconscious

A very different picture emerges when we turn the spotlight on Charles I.

images-1Now a  powerful link becomes evident between Aries karmic patterns and events of Charles I’s reign, and this pattern continues on into the Interregnum. It is interesting to consider the effect of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, as he exchanged his role as lover and right hand of a ‘Pluto in Pisces’ James for that of companion and battle commander to Charles, with whom he shared a ‘Pluto in Aries’ profile.

During James’s reign, Buckingham amassed great wealth and power, but his energy was spent largely in love affairs and accumulating works of art to adorn his many stately homes. Individuals at Court, like the Earl and Countess of Suffolk and Frances Coke, did suffer directly from his malice, but effects of his primal nature were unleashed on the whole country once James was no longer around to restrain him, and he progressively roused the nation to fury.


Together Buckingham and Charles I bankrupted the country with their constant demands for troops and money for a succession of (failed) military campaigns. The lives of both men were cut short and both ended violently: Buckingham died at the hands of an assassin.  Charles plunged the nation into Civil War and was beheaded by his own Parliament.

Aries karma indeed, as the table below shows.


Sign occupied by Pluto Dates of Pluto transit in sign Monarch/Leader born when Pluto in this sign Major Events /Characteristics of the reign Walsh: Keywords from past-life patterns of clients with karmic signature in sign
Aries 1577 – 1608 (Duke of Buckingham)Charles IOliver Cromwell ·       Nation divided by power plays·       War/campaigns in Europe·       Civil War·       Trial of Charles I·       Execution of the King

·       Intransigence on all sides

·       Pioneering political years of Interregnum: Levelers; Diggers, Quakers

·       Oliver dismisses Parliament and takes over as supreme authority

·       Willpower·       Anger·       Self-identity·       Primal & Combative Warrior·       Initiative

·       Rushing into action

·       Instinct

·       Life cut short

·       Violent death

·       Kill or be killed

·       Pioneer

·       Man with a Mission

·       ‘My way the only way’

Pluto in Aries had not done with the nation when the King had been executed, for the Interregnum leader matched Charles I in willpower and intransigence. Oliver Cromwell, ‘Ironsides’, also born when Pluto transited Aries, was a quintessential warrior.


Considered by some as pioneer of a brave new world, he headed a government experimenting with a republicanism that descended into dictatorship and died after Cromwell’s death. Hailed as England’s greatest hero by some, to others ­Cromwell was a power-obsessed, brutal tyrant. Yet all would agree that he was a man with a mission, who saw himself as identified by God to lead the nation.

To complete the Stuart trinity, let’s turn last to the very different story of Charles II, who became caught up in Civil War as a child and certainly showed a cool head and bravery enough in battle when needed. England did engage in war during his reign, yet Charles II was essentially a diplomat rather than warrior. He actually expended much ruling energy in trying to prevent Parliament from taking the country to war. Inherited circumstance rather than natural inclination impelled Charles to fight.


Sign occupied by Pluto Dates of Pluto transit in sign Monarch/Leader born when Pluto in this sign Major Events /Characteristics of the reign Walsh: Keywords from past-life patterns of clients with karmic signature in sign
Taurus 1608 – 1640 Charles II ·       Early struggles during war·       Hardship and tenacity in long exile·       Restoration Lawsuits over possessions and property·       Fire and plague·       Materialistic excesses of the Restoration

·       Charles’s love of the mechanical

·       Sensuous, down-to-earth man of the people

·       No legal heir born to Charles

·       Poverty & hardship·       Survival and security issues·       Self reliance and refusal to give in·       Loss

·       Shut-down feelings

·       Going it alone

·       Solidity and sensuousness

·       Materialism & hoarding

·       Practical

·       Fertility issues; complications in conception

Biographers suggest Charles II’s years of poverty and hardship as prince in exile strongly impacted his subsequent life as king. What stands out for me, in Walsh’s list for Pluto in Taurus, are themes of self-reliance, ‘going it alone’, and  ‘shutting down feelings’. Several historians have described a quality of inner untouchability at the heart of Charles II, which no amount of surface merry-making with his family and Court, and while mixing informally with his people, could entirely conceal. The Merry Monarch may at heart often have been anything but merry.


The  man whose father was – unthinkably for the times – executed when he was just 19 and who barely escaped with his own life as a youth, might well be expected to bear the numbness and scars of PTSD as an adult. And during a reign punctuated by plots – both real and apparent – to assassinate him, Charles was obliged to face issues of survival and security throughout his life.

In the scramble to restore a country ravaged by civil war, to recover lost property and possessions, as well as to survive recurrent bouts of plague and fire, many of Charles II’s subjects also struggled with poverty, hardship and survival issues. As Chancery records demonstrate, the courts were full to overflowing with land lawsuits.

Yet there was also anotherside to the Restoration years. Charles is typically characterized as sociable and amiable, loving physical activity in and out of the bedroom and fascinated by all things mechanical and sensate. His amatory adventures fit well with the mood of a Pluto passing through sensuous Taurus and a link can also be drawn with some Taurean karmic fertility issues. Charles sired many bastards, yet the king’s wife could never provide him with an heir. And this would prove a major headache to the country and the reign that followed Charles’s demise.

This has been a superficial romp through the reigns of three Stuart kings and an Interregnum. Brief though it is, it inclines me to conclude that dwarf Pluto may punch well above its planetary weight, in terms of its influence upon the lives of generations. And, for this alone, I recommend that we restore the Karmic Drummer to its rightful place in the premier cosmic league!

I’d love to hear your views, if you care to leave a comment.

Midi’s Blog will be on hiatus in coming weeks, as I will be heading northward to British Columbia for a spiritual retreat at the weekend. I shall however be casting eyes heavenward for that space probe fly past of Pluto on July 14th. Will you?!