The first published assessments on the sign rulership of Pluto, 1897-1931
– Written and compiled by Philip M. Graves, March 22nd, 2016


This paper will attempt to pinpoint and present in strict chronological order as many as possible of the first published astrological assessments of the sign rulership of Pluto in both English and French-language sources. Comparably early German sources, while avowedly important, will be investigated at a later date when a more complete spectrum of publications in which they may have appeared is to hand. Some relevant English and French sources may remain to be discovered.

Select, sometimes quite extensive citations from the original sources have been made in order clearly to show the thinking of the astrologers concerned in their own words. In some cases, their preliminary assessments of the influence of Pluto have been included separately from their assessments of its sign rulership, where this is of clear historical interest.

References to so-called Pluto-Wemyss, the hypothetical planet proposed by Duncan Macnaughton[1]  in advance of the discovery of the real Pluto by Percival Lowell, but then denied by him as being that Pluto after its discovery, have been omitted from the main body of this article in order to avoid confusion of unlike themes.

It is a curious fact of the history of modern astrology that, even with Macnaughton’s hypothetical Pluto-Wemyss disqualified and excluded from this survey, the first few published assessments of the sign of the zodiac to be accorded rulership by Pluto appeared before the real physical Pluto was itself discovered, in connection with astrologers’ prophecies of the discovery of a planet of that name.


1. Fomalhaut: Aries (1897)

The first known such example is found in the main textbook of Fomalhaut, the pen-name of Abbé Nicollaud. On p. 317 of the first edition of his Manuel d’Astrologie Sphérique et Judiciaire (1897), Fomalhaut grants Uranus to Capricorn, Saturn to Aquarius, Neptune to Pisces, Jupiter to Sagittarius, the asteroids to Libra, Venus to Taurus, Mercury to Virgo and the hypothetical planet Vulcan (said to orbit between Mercury and the Sun) to Gemini, before affirming that the planet beyond Neptune exists and is called Pluto:

‘La planète au-delà de Neptune existe, elle se nomme Pluton….’

He continues to argue (out of step with later astrologers) that Pluto is a benefic analogue to Mars:

‘Mars et Pluton, cette dernière apporte les bons effets de Mars….’

Finally, he argues that Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were all known by the ancient Chaldeans, but that as a result of human eyesight having weakened, they had since become invisible. And from this he reasons that the ancient Chaldeans ascribed only one sign to rulership by any one planet – with Pluto as ruler of Aries:

Rien n’est plus simple que d’admettre que chez les Chaldéens, Uranus dominait au Capricorne et Saturne au Verseau; Neptune aux Poissons et Jupiter au Sagittaire; Mars au Scorpion et Pluton au Bélier….’

This is one of the earliest examples of an attempt to reduce all planets to one domicile each, in this case using the hypothetical Vulcan, the asteroids, and the then-yet-to-be-discovered-for-33-years Pluto to make up the numbers.


2. Isabelle Pagan: Scorpio (1907; 1908; 1911)

Ten years later, in 1907, a short treatise on the signs of the zodiac by the notable Scottish astrologer Isabelle Pagan, entitled Astrological Key to Character, was published by the Theosophical Publishing House.

In this small-format book of barely forty printed pages, Pagan expresses her belief, in common with that Fomalhaut, in the existence of both Vulcan and Pluto as undiscovered planets. But in contrast to his view as expounded a decade previously, hers as given here (pp. 9-10) is that Pluto rules Scorpio and Vulcan rules Virgo.

In a footnote to her nomination of Pluto as ruler of Scorpio (p. 10), she succinctly writes by way of explanation:

‘Planetary influence surmised as existent. Name chosen as classically appropriate to the sign of discipline and regeneration. Traditional ruler, Mars.’ 

The following year (1908), she begins to contribute a more detailed series of articles on the same topic entitled “The Signs of the Zodiac Analysed” to the pages of Modern Astrology magazine, starting in the April issue. This is eventually completed in 1909; but the part on Scorpio appears in the November, 1908 issue (from p. 497).

Here, she expands her view of the sign, arguing at variance with Fomalhaut that Pluto corresponds with the “negative side” of Mars and therefore with Scorpio:

‘Astrological tradition describes the influence which rules this sign as “The negative side of Mars,” which suggests that it cannot be positively associated with the god of war in his most familiar guise, though when he is looked upon in his sterner aspect, as destroyer and regenerator, we come near to the true spirit of Scorpio. It is possible that some planet as yet unknown represents this aspect of deity in our solar system…. Careful analysis of the type associated with this Power carries our thoughts back a generation in the story of the Gods, and brings before our minds a statelier and sterner deity than Mars, viz., Pluto, the god of the underworld, the brother of Neptune and of Jupiter. He is represented in ancient mythology as the just and incorruptible judge, dealing out the discipline which strengthens and purifies, and giving to each soul the sorrow and suffering that is due.’

In 1911, these articles were further expanded into the fullest edition of Pagan’s work on the twelve signs of the zodiac in the form of her book From Pioneer to Poet, or the Twelve Great Gates, again published by the Theosophical Publishing House, but now extending to 318 large-format main pages.

As a book, this work was unprecedentedly expansive in its coverage of the single theme of the signs of the zodiac in its day. In the text, she repeatedly names Pluto as the ruler of Scorpio, on pp. 101, 208, 210 and 245; and the above citation from her 1908 article in Modern Astrology is retained intact.

Pagan’s view as more fully expounded in 1908 and 1911 is later closely echoed by Kevah Deo Griffis (born Lillian Griffis) in her article ‘Popular Astrology: The Sign Scorpio’ in Modern Astrology, November 1926. She writes:

‘Certainly the mystery and secretiveness of Scorpio would seem to reflect more of Pluto, the god of the underworld regions, the incorruptible judge, brother of Neptune and Jupiter. So perhaps some planet as yet undiscovered is the real ruler of this most magnetic and powerful of all the signs of the zodiac.’

Because Griffis’s view ostensibly lacks any originality, I do not regard it as a distinct prophecy of the discovery of Pluto, and have filed it here with that of Isabelle Pagan.


3. A. E. Thierens: Aries (1911 / 1931)

Also in 1911, the Dutch astrologer and occultist A. E. Thierens argues in the first edition of his Dutch-language book Cosmologie : Elementen der Practische Astrologie for the existence of an undiscovered planet called Pluto, which he names therein as ruler of Aries (p. 47):

‘Wij willen echter vermelden, dat o. i. de beheersching dezer vier sferen als volgt is:

‘Ariës door Pluto (heeft overeenkomst med Mars)’. [….]

In the considerably later English-language revision of the same book, now entitled Elements of Esoteric Astrology (1931), Thierens accepts the appropriateness of the name Pluto for the planet discovered by Lowell the previous year, and connects it to the mythical Osiris, again proposing it as the ruler of Aries, on the basis of a theosophical argument:

‘ “Before Osiris bcame the ‘One’ and the Highest God of Egypt,” says H. P. Blavatsky, “he was worshipped at Abydos as the Head or Leader of the Heavenly Host of the Builders belonging to the Higher of the three Orders” (S. D., I, 471). This is absolutely appropriate with regard to the three positive centres in the lunar body, viz. Uranus, Pluto-Osiris, and Mercury-Hermes, of which Pluto, lord of Aries, may well be called the Head. Considering the tabula of categorical formation of the physical plane (p. 36), we find Aries at the head of it, which clearly demonstrated why its god or planetary ruler might well be considered to be “the Head or Leader of the Heavenly Host” with regard to this plane, closely related with the nature and function of the positive electricity in this world. This consideration finds confirmation in the Secret Doctrine, where Pluto-Osiris is called “Lord of the Lower Kingdom” (I, 501).’


4. A. M. Wrey: Scorpio (1913)

In 1913, a pocket-sized, distinctly esoteric primer of questions and answers on astrology by the little-known A. M. Wrey (a woman astrologer, but her first name is not given) was published in London under the title The Reading of the Stars for Those Who Love Them: A Primer of Astrology.

Without contextual explanation, Wrey assigns Pluto as ruler of Scorpio (p. 18), The Earth as ruler of Taurus, and Vulcan as ruler of Virgo. This scheme is in fact the same as the one used by Isabelle Pagan in 1907 for all three of these signs. It is reiterated on p. 24 of Wrey’s book; but on pp. 50-51, she presents a chart indicating that since the year 1910, which she defines as the start of the Cycle of Aquarius, Scorpio has come under the temporary influence of Mars instead of Pluto, while Pisces has come under that of Jupiter instead of Neptune, and Virgo under that of Mercury instead of Vulcan.

Wrey’s book comes in for uncharacteristically scathing criticism from Alan Leo in his review in Modern Astrology, July 1913 (p. 303), on account of its ‘unqualified statements’.


5. Sepharial: Aries or Scorpio (1918)

Five years after Wrey, and seven after Thierens, Sepharial (the pen-name of Walter Gornold), writing in the first edition of his book The Science of Foreknowledge (1918), became the fifth astrologer and fourth one of major repute to anticipate the coming discovery of a planet called Pluto in an original book. But unlike the four writing before him, he declines to determine which sign it will rule, only conceding that it must be one or the other of the signs currently assigned to Mars (p. 38):

Later, it will be found that Mars will have to yield one of its signs to Pluto, as Saturn has already yielded one to Uranus, and Jupiter one to Neptune. But until Pluto is located beyond the orbit of Neptune we cannot do better than devote our closest attention to the nature and attributes of the ocean deity and his representative among the spheres.’


6. E. Caslant: indeterminate, probably Aries (undated, before 1926)

Featured in Le Voile D’Isis No. 73, Janvier 1926, is an article by P. Genty entitled “Les Planètes Hypothétiques” that indirectly draws attention to an additional prophecy of a planet named Pluto by the well-known mid-20th century French astrologer Eugène Caslant.

The source for Genty’s reference is not given, but the attribution is in no doubt. He links it to the contemporary beliefs by two prominent astronomers, Gaillot of France and Lau of Denmark, that there are two planets beyond Neptune, and goes on to remark that some French astrologers share their conclusion. Caslant is named as one of them, and said to have given the two hypothetical planets the names Pluton and Proserpine (p. 72):

‘C’est d’ailleurs la conclusion de quelques astrologues français, Caslant entre autres, qui ont nommé ces Planètes  Pluton et Proserpine. Pluton est de la nature de Saturne, Mars et Mercure; Proserpine, de la nature de Saturne, la Terre et la Lune’.

There is unfortunately no reference made to what sign rulership, if any, Caslant accorded to his hypothetical Pluto.

In La Revue Belge d’Astrologie Moderne, 21 avril, 1930, writing shortly after the discovery of Pluto but before its naming, Gustave-Lambert Brahy recalls Genty’s article four years earlier. Two months later, in the issue of 21 juin, by which time news of the name given to the new discovery has reached him, he congratulates astrologers collectively (but by implication, Caslant in particular) on having anticipated the name of Pluto before astronomers:

‘La nouvelle planète transneptunienne – au fait cette neuvième venue est-elle définitivement cataloguée? – vient d’être baptisée du nom de Pluton. Les astrologues seront tentés de conclure: naturellement!

‘On sait en effet – voir l’article paru dans le numéro 2 du 21 avril – que certains d’entre eux utilisaient déja  cette planète sous le même nom. Voilà une occasion, pour les  astrologues susceptibles, de mettre la science officielle à la remorque en proclamant qu’une fois encore l’astrologie a devancé l’astronomie.’

In a later article on Pluto featured in the annual publication Almanach Astrologique, 1932 edition, Genty again refers to Caslant’s views on Pluto, affirming that Caslant assigns Pluto to the second half of Aries; but how long ago the views he refers to at this point in time were conveyed to him or written down by Caslant is not immediately clear:

‘Uranus est en bon état céleste dans les signes d’Air, Neptune dans les signes d’Eau, Pluton dans les signes de Feu, et Proserpine dans les signes de Terre. Quant aux domiciles, Caslant leur donne respectivement la second moitié des: Verseau, Poissons, Bélier, et Taureau….’


7. Francis Rolt-Wheeler: indeterminate (1930)

In the same week as Brahy’s first editorial comment on Pluto mentioned above, which is to say, after its discovery but before its naming, the bilingual Carthage-based astrologer Francis Rolt-Wheeler, writing in the 21 Avril, 1930 issue of his magazine L’Astrosophie, enthusiastically announces the discovery and expresses his conviction that the name Pluto will be chosen for it in due course (p. 49; p. 88). Like Brahy, he draws attention to astrologers having predicted that name before its discovery:

‘La deuxième question s’attache à la première. Que doit être le nom de la nouvelle planète? Son nom existait déjà. Les astrologues modernes, qui avaient prédit sa découverte depuis plusieurs années déjà, la nommaient Pluton (Pluto). La vraie raison est ésotérique. La voici: Il y a quatre triplicités: Terre,  ou Plan Physique; Eau, ou Plan Emotif; Feu ou Plan Mental; Air, ou Plan Intuitif. Uranus régit le Plan Intuitif; Neptune le Plan Emotif; Pluton, devrait donc régir la triplicité de Feu ou le Plan Mental’ [….]

‘La découverte d’une nouvelle planète, extra-Neptunienne, et qui, probablement, sera nommée “Pluton” (Pluto), qui a été signalée peu de jours après la parution du dernier numéro de l'”Astrosophie”, peut bien être considérée comme l’événement astronomique le plus important de notre génération’.

Although at this very early stage, and within the timeframe of this study, Rolt-Wheeler does not propose a sign rulership in connection with Pluto, he would go on to side with Aries in 1934, at variance with the established view among his contemporaries by that time (see his article “Uranus, Neptune et Pluton: Étude Occulte” in the Décembre, 1934 issue of L’Astrosophie).


8. Elizabeth Aldrich: indeterminate (1930)

One of the very earliest published editorials by an English-speaking astrologer speculating on the influence of Pluto after its discovery is given by Elizabeth Aldrich in Vol. 2 No. 2 (May, June, July 1930) of her magazine The New York Astrologer.

Aldrich first strongly advocates that astrologers should study the planet astrologically before interpreting it, adding:

‘Of course speculation will be rife as to whether this planet rules a sign or not. Some students have suggested that it would rule Scorpio, Virgo or Taurus. It seems to the Editor that it is too soon to discover its real rulership.’

She nonetheless goes on to tentatively speculate on some of its areas of influence:

‘However, we can all surmise, and I believe, that it may be the planet of Justice. This might be what we have called, the Super Jupiter. Thus, it would be the representative of Real Justice, symbolizing the advent of Real Love. Together, they may bring out, through Real Love, and Real Justice, the greatest ideal of our future, Brotherhood.

‘It seems to us that it rules through its vast distance the extension of the finite to the infinite, the Fourth Dimension, the great skyscrapers, which presume to fling themselves upward, even to the Star. Also it rules the extension into the infinite spaces of the underworld, the twining, honeycombing, catacombs of the subway, which extends with infinite imagination, it might sometimes seem, to the bowels of the earth, the abode of unhappy spirits. Also it may mean the far-flung infinity of bridges and tunnels, which presume to span any spaces….’


9. L. H. Weston: indeterminate (1930)

Another very early reaction to the newly-discovered planet Pluto comes from the pen of the veteran American astrologer L. H. Weston. Writing in the April-September 1930 double issue of the Journal of the National Astrological Association, Weston declines to propose a sign rulership assignation to the newly discovered celestial body, but opines that the name given to it by astronomers is fitting to its astrological functions, although his reasons for this view are not fully detailed.

He does, however, notably reason from mythology to argue along rather obscure lines that the ancient myths related to Pluto were based on the occult knowledge of the ancient astrologers of the existence of a real planet of this name although, unlike Fomalhaut before him, he does not contend that the ancients had the power of vision to see it.

‘In Greek mythology Pluto is the god of the nether world, anciently called Hades. He is feigned to rule over wealth, or, more correctly, over corn or food grain, for in ancient times corn or wheat was wealth. It grows up from the ground, in fact, comes out of the ground, that is, arises from the nether world. Pluto was the son of Saturn, because Saturn holds dominion in things earthly and rules the southern tropic, Capricorn, which was the nether world itself, being always in the south below the equator and the horizon.

‘We know that Greek mythology is based wholly on an ancient system of astrology, probably used in the time of the lost Atlantis and that the mythological stories are in reality dramatic adaptations of astrological doctrinals to Greek poetry.

‘For example, Pluto was said to have been particularly distinguished as the possessor of a wonderful helmet, or head-piece. This helmet rendered the wearer invisible, which means, of course, that Pluto is invisible. He really is, or was, to the Atlantean astrologers, yet they knew of him and described his actions, especially the incident in which he killed the gorgon Medusa.

‘Pluto struck off the head of the only mortal gorgon, Medusa, with a backward or retrograde movement of his sword while taking aim by the aid of a mirror. He was compelled to execute this maneuver on account of the fact that a direct view of any gorgon caused the one who was looking to congeal, or turn to stone.

‘Of course this is mythology, but it is based on certain astrological considerations: a retrograde movement, a view in a mirror or reflecting telescope, a gorgon, being a female personification having a head covered with snakes instead of hair, nearly an exact description of a comet. The orbit of Pluto being near the outward boundary of the solar system might be expected to contain an influence destructive to a cometary body as it rushed through the system. It might cut off its head!

‘I am in favour of using the word Pluto for the name of the new planet and adopting the conventional Greek helmet as his symbol.’

In the next issue (October-December 1930), Weston reaffirms this view.


10. Llewellyn George: Scorpio (1930)

In the first edition thus (i.e. the first full-length edition and the first under its definitive title) of his book How Planets Affect You, as published in 1930, Llewellyn George apparently independently voices effective concord with Fomalhaut in proposing that Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were conceivably known to the ancients (p. 92):

‘It is not taken for granted the planet is a newcomer in our solar system any more than Uranus and Neptune were newcomers at the moment of their discovery. Mythology provides plenty of references to justify a belief that the ancients were long aware of their presence. Likewise there are references to ultra-Neptunian bodies….’

Whether or not he had previously consulted with the above-cited views of his long-time friend and associate L. H. Weston before arriving at this belief is unclear, though this seems quite possible.

But it is in any case in his magazine The Astrological Bulletina that George first spins out at length his thoughts on Pluto. In No. 187, July-August-September 1930 (pp. 83-8), he is already publishing views on themes or keywords to be associated with the newly discovered celestial body:

‘Marvelous as may seem the strides during the Uranian age, they will by comparison be dwarfed into insignificance by the greatly preponderant advance under the influence of Planet X. Through comparison and analysis correlating planetary influences and what has gone before in relation to the development of man and his environment, we are drawn logically to the conclusion that the influence of a new planet would ultimately be indicated by regeneration as the key word of what it can imply to the present limitations of mind. Through its rays man will be able to renew and perpetuate his mind and body until he is ready for new experiences and life on other planets. Gradually he will learn to demonstrate the spiritual values of levitation, transformation, materialization, metamorphosis, transfiguration, – regeneration.’

‘Truly, this planet (if no other) reveals that man possesses great potential powers. His possibilities are limitless. Not without reason did Edison proclaim that as yet man is using less than one millionth of his powers. The message of Astrology is one of hope, the hope that cheers one on to greater endeavor, for even now “X” is working on the subconscious faculty of every living soul, endowing each with the power which helps make possible achievements little dreamed of. This interpretation of some of its influence will bring to mind Paul’s great metaphysical commandment: “Be ye transformed by the renewing (power) of the mind”…. ‘

In the following issue, No. 188, Oct-Dec 1930, he reasons at length from the starting point of mythology for Pluto’s rulership of Scorpio (pp. 81-6):

‘In the study of mythology it seemingly becomes apparent that the corruptions of time distorted the original meanings and indications of the myths. Where originally they bore significance to the heavenly bodies and their movements, their later treatments and interpretations became distorted to suit theological notions. Some careless writers confused Plutus (sometimes pictured as a boy with a cornucopia) the Greek god of riches, with Pluto, the god of the dead whose oldest name was Hades – “the unseen”. In their pure rendition the myths were of astrological significance.

‘The sons of Cronos and Rhea, that is, Zeus (Jupiter), Poseidon (Neptune) and Pluto, having deposed Cronus, cast lots for the kingdoms of the heaven,  the sea and the outer regions. Jupiter won the heaven, Neptune the sea, and Pluto the outer or infernal regions, which, from the original name of their ruler, were afterwards known as Hades. To some the ‘house of Hades’ was a dark and dreadful abode of spirits deep down in the earth. But according to another view the ‘house of Hades’ was a land in the far West, which to the Greeks was always the region of darkness and death; the east of light and life.

‘In the oldest Greek mythology the House of Hades was a place neither of reward nor punishment; it was simply the home of the dead, good and bad alike, who led a dim or shadowy reflexion of life on earth; akin to the present-day astral plane.

‘Pluto was simply the ruler of the house of death; in no sense was he depicted as a tempter or seducer of mankind, like the devil of Christian theology. Pluto was certainly depicted as stern and pitiless, but he was only so in discharge of his duty as custodian of the dead. But even Pluto once melted at the music of Orpheus when he came to fetch from the dead his wife Eurydice.

‘As it is so evident that mythology has drawn upon Astrology for its references to the planets, including the Sun and Moon, it will not be amiss for Astrology to draw upon mythology concerning “the unseen” planet.  Uranus, under favorable conditions, could be seen with the naked eye; Poseidon could be seen with a small glass or other means available to wise men of old; but Pluto, inhabitant of the “outer regions” was Hades or “the unseen”. In fact, so inconspicuous is it that modern astronomical photographs recorded it many times before astronomers recognized it and realized that it was a planet of the “outer region,” that is, a wanderer in an orbit farthest from the Sun.

‘One of the questions arising since this modern “discovery” is, “What house does Pluto rule?[“] Mythology plainly says in no uncertain terms, “The house of Hades (Pluto) is the home of the dead.” In Astrology this can refer to but one house – the eighth. The eighth “house” in the natural or universal zodiac corresponds to Scorpio.

‘The theological notion placed the home of Hades deep down in the earth and called it Hell. Mythology designated it “in the far west.” Astrologically the eighth house is in the west (west by south). Astronomically, the constellation Scorpio is the abode of the many headed monster. (See mythological and bibliological references to Scorpio in the “A to Z Horoscope Maker and Delineator,” page 607, where the “dog of hell” (Cerberus) is associated with the scorpion).

‘The three headed dog is usually pictured with Pluto; said dog is actually pictured in the constellation Scorpio. Pluto is “ruler of the dead.” In Astrology Scorpio and the eighth house rule the dead and matters relating to the dead.

‘Note: Pluto is usually pictured with a woman; Scorpio is termed a feminine sign. Cerberus is depicted variously as having three to one hundred heads, and body covered with snakes. Scorpio rules stagnant water and such places as are inhabited with scorpions, vipers, etc.

‘Until better evidence is found or better reasons advanced we believe Pluto rules Scorpio. This displaces Mars as ruler of one of the signs to which he has commonly been assigned. Mars is considered hot, dry, active; Scorpio, cold, moist, sluggish. While it requires some stretch of imagination to reconcile the two, there are characteristics in common between them sufficient to use Mars as ruler of Scorpio, and we may still continue to do so until more is definitely known of Pluto and until its ephemeris is calculated.’

To this, George adds an intellectual justification for his use of reasoning by analogy from ancient mythology in the following terms, a justification that notably predates the first publication of C. G. Jung’s essay On Synchronicity in the original German by more than 20 years:

‘Man has only just now become keen and capable enough to “discover” the planet and it will be some time yet before he becomes physically and mentally attuned sufficiently to manifest any reactions to the influence of its vibrations and in the course of time these will develop the ability to respond to its influence. In the interim researchers will be learning something about Pluto by means of analogy, that is, study of resemblance of properties or relations; similarity without identity; reasoning in which from certain observed and known relations or resemblances others are inferred; reasoning that proceeds from the individual or particular to a co-ordinate particular, thus involving both induction and deduction. In other words, analogy is specifically a resemblance of relations, a resemblance that may be reasoned from, so that from the likeness in certain respects we may infer that other and perhaps deeper relations exist. In fact, that is just what we have been doing in this article – comparing the known factors of Pluto with its mythological features and deducing its rulership of the sign Scorpio. It may be called masculine, stern, somewhat inscrutable, not itself malignant but dealing with high potencies; invoked by or responsive to music….’

In the next issue (No. 189, January-March 1931), Mr. George adds this afterthought:

‘Just as mythology furnished the original clue to a starting point for surmising that Neptune was identified with Pisces, we find history repeating itself in that Mythology again furnishes the clue to the sign “rulership” of Pluto, pointing directly to Scorpio. ‘


11. Frederick Thoresby: Scorpio (1930)

In the December 1930 issue of Modern Astrology magazine, thus some months after Llewellyn George’s nomination, the little-known Frederick Thoresby presents a scheme of sign rulerships in his article ‘Zodiacal House Meanings’ (p. 404). In this scheme, he assigns Pluto to Scorpio on the grounds that it is “the universal energy of insight”. Virgo is granted to Vulcan and Libra to the Earth in Thoresby’s scheme.


12. J. P. Gross: Leo (1930-1)

In a lengthy letter published in Astrology, the Astrologers’ Quarterly, Volume Four Number Four, December 1930 – February 1931, the similarly little-known J. P. Gross argues on a combination of mythological and mundane astrological grounds that Pluto should be considered the ruler of Leo:

‘Since this planet is trans-Neptunian, all who recognise Neptune for what he is, part ruler of Cancer with the Moon, will see the reasonableness of assigning Pluto to Leo. He would then represent the black inner core of the Sun, Sol, or Phoebus – Apollo the bright and shining envelope – “Phoebus,” of course, means “shining.”

‘In mythology Pluto is always represented as wearing a crown, even in the underworld of the Shades, a characteristic that would certainly connect him with the royal sign. The only other “Kings” are Apollo himself and Jupiter; but the latter was represented as such only during the “Ptolemaic” period, when his original sign, Aries, replaced Leo as the first sign of the zodiac.

‘Since the discovery of this planet we have had the widespread emergence of dictators and autocrats ruling side by side with the kings in many countries; the dictator wielding the reality of power, the monarch presenting the outward show and splendour. Leo, being the fifth sign from Aries, the activity of this organiser <I>par excellence</I> has made itself felt in the creation of the world-wide Boy Scout Movement. The bringing up of coal to the surface of the earth is probably to be attributed to the return of Pluto…. Also since the Sun retired from the sole rulership of Leo in order to share the same with Pluto, we have seen the withdrawal of gold from general circulation.

‘Etymologically, Pluto is connected with Ploutos = Wealth, and this, too, would connect him with the gold sign, Leo.

‘Thus, astronomy, mythology, etymology, and world-events all concur in connecting Pluto with Leo.

‘Has any other sign equal claims?

‘I further believe that Pluto, ruling from his own original sign, will prove a benefic, if a stern one.’


13. Bessie Leo; and ‘E. S.’: Scorpio (1931)

In the April, 1931 issue of Modern Astrology magazine, Bessie Leo and an unidentified ‘E. S.’, jointly reviewing the 1931 English edition of the aforementioned book by A. E. Thierens, openly disagree with the latter’s assignation of Pluto as ruler of Aries (p. 132):

‘We cannot see eye to eye with him in giving Pluto to Aries, and it is unlikely all the older astrologers are in error, and to quote p. 94, “Pluto rules second birth,” this suggests the regeneration or transmuting element of Scorpio and contradicts the first statement.’


14. Karleen S. Lyon (presumed): Scorpio (tentative) (1931)

Also in April, 1931, but in the pages of a short-lived American magazine entitled The New Frontier: Astrology Applied to Modern Conditions, an unsigned writer, most likely to be the editor of the magazine, Karleen S. Lyon, quotes from Sepharial’s earlier prediction in The Science of Foreknowledge, after marvelling at the foresight of astrologers of his generation in these terms:

‘The Quarter of a century search for a trans-Neptunian planet that finally focussed the public mind on a tiny Pluto was paralleled by advanced astrological students, who had already deduced its presence by analytical reasoning. They came close enough to the truth to guess its name and character, using in part the delicate aerial channels by which minds contact the unseen – still a mystery used without understanding, as we do the radio.’

She goes on cautiously to argue in favour of Scorpio being Pluto’s domicile in the following terms, while reserving final judgement for later:

‘Taking the presumed cycle of Pluto… it is interesting to see if world thought seems to have been influenced by this destroyer of the outworn when he was occupying, say, the house to which he is accredited, Scorpio, sign of death and regeneration.

‘We are impressed with the clean sweep of preparations for new religious thought that took place at these times, fitting when we consider that Sagittarius, where the soul reaches the pinnacle of spiritual enlightenment, is the next house in the symbolic journey around the Wheel of Life [….]

‘It is still too early to make definite decisions regarding the house and influence of Pluto, but not too early to be marshalling our evidence pro and con.’


15. E. H. C. Pagan: Scorpio (1931)

After the discovery of Pluto, Elizabeth H. C. Pagan, a sister of Isabelle Pagan, implicitly endorses Isabelle’s earlier detailed prophetic view that the planet rules Scorpio. In Modern Astrology, May 1931, starting on pp. 155-6, E. H. C. Pagan writes:

‘Now Lowell’s planet is already being called Pluto. Can we discover why? Can we prove the appropriateness of this name as we have done with those of his elder brethren? Does he show power over things physical, the “underworld” that was Pluto’s domain in classical mythology; does he embody power, especially the wish to dominate, Will-power, in fact, with its concomitants of physical endurance and mental concentration?

‘The answer to these questions is found by filling it in to horoscopes that are well known to us, and finding how it solves the same problem in each. It will show us why some people have overcome serious disabilities and why others have failed inexplicably. It gives the clue, indeed, to the person’s will, or power over circumstances; thus proving it to be the ruler of Scorpio.


‘By placing Pluto in a horoscope we can now tell whether this faculty is weak or strong in the native, and whether it has a clear path or is thwarted by difficulties. Thanks to the careful calculations of astronomers, we now know where the ruler of all our Scorpionian friends will be found. We have never been satisfied that Mars should be regarded as the ruler of Scorpio; unless we very much emphasise that we refer only to the negative side of Mars. For there is a distinct difference between the ideal English soldier, ruled by Aries, and the Prussian militarist, ruled by Scorpio. The one is Wordsworth’s “Happy Warrior,” the other is the ruthless superman.

‘And what is the negative side of martial qualities, the passive aspect of courage and enterprise? Is it not that endurance, the power to hold on, even against reason, when hope wanes and strength fails? Those are Scorpionian characteristics, such as we shall now expect to find associated with his new-found ruler, Pluto he can now observe in which individuals this endurance is found to be chiefly physical, or chiefly emotional, or chiefly mental, or which others cleave most to ideals; according to whether Pluto is in Earth, Watery, Airy or Fiery signs. The sign and house he is in will further indicate the nature of the things he sets his heart on; and the aspects from other planets will show how far he is likely to succeed.’


16. C. E. O. Carter: indeterminate (connections with Cancer, Scorpio) (1931)

Having previously advised strong caution with regard to assigning characteristics of any kind to Pluto prior to its astrological study, the editor of Astrology, the Astrologer’s Quarterly, Charles Carter, links it to both Cancer and Scorpio in his article ‘Observations on Pluto, I’, as published in the June – August 1931 issue of the same magazine. Earlier in this article, he also notably reports on the main findings of his initial careful study of the planet:

‘1. That Pluto is concerned with beginnings and endings. He is the planet of climax and crisis, and thus, in a sense, of upheaval. He brings matters to a head, ending one chapter of life and ushering in another.

‘2. In particular, he brings hidden things to light; he is a discoverer and revealer.

‘3. Since disease is usually of the nature of a climax, being the culminating effort of the body to cast off effete deposits, Pluto may be closely related to acute disease and even to death, which is the end of the chapter of physical embodiment.

‘4. Except inasmuch as climax is usually of a perturbing nature, Pluto is by no means necessarily a malefic, even in a mundane sense. Often his action is followed by much relief, as when a swelling is lanced.’

Carter goes on to add to these points:

‘The action of Pluto does not seem to be quite so instantaneous as that usually associated with Uranus; he is an earthquake, but, like earthquakes, he sometimes gives a warning, if but a brief one. Even an earthquake is not so instantaneous as a flash of lightning.

‘Politically, he causes revolutionary upheavals.

‘In human psychology I am inclined to attribute to him a proclivity to abnormal and, so to speak, insatiate desires, and a thirst for that which is vast and beyond proper proportions. It gives not so much ambition as cravings, with restlessness, discontent, and dissatisfaction.


‘It is self-assertive, I suggest, and will not take a back seat or even such seat as is proper to its rank and endowments.’

Later in the article, he addresses the issue of rulership, ultimately standing by the traditional rulership system, while lending some credence to the idea of Pluto ruling Scorpio:

‘Is Pluto a materialistic or a psychic or intuitional planet?

‘I am inclined to think (and this is purely speculative) that he is an earth-water body and, as such, he would have a definitely common-sense or even hard-headed side, and also an astral or psychic aspect. Perhaps the latter will predominate. I tend to relate him to Cancer rather than Scorpio. In mythology, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto were brothers; this is in accordance with the undoubted connection between Jupiter and Neptune through Pisces, and I suggest that Pluto may be related to Jupiter through its exaltation, Cancer. On the other hand, Jupiter may rule Pisces, Neptune Cancer, and Pluto Scorpio.

‘Cancer certainly shows a contradictory and dual nature, shrewd and prudent in some ways and sensational and unreasonable in others. But as we have not yet agreed on the rulerships of Uranus and Neptune, we ought, I think, to be in no great haste to “fix” Pluto. In any case I am one who stands by the ancient and traditional rulerships and I regard the new planets as being at best not true rulers, but merely, as it were, “interested parties.” ‘


17. Mabel Baudot: Scorpio (1931)

In one of the lengthiest early mythological arguments concerning the sign rulership of Pluto, ranking alongside that given by Llewellyn George the previous year, a some-time contributor to the pages of Astrology: the Astrologers’ Quarterly named Mabel Baudot also argues, in Vol. V No. 3 (September – November, 1931) of that magazine, that Pluto rules Scorpio. The article is much too long to quote in its entirety here, so only the central thrust is shown below; but taken as a whole, it serves as a fine example of how pervasive the use of elaborate astrological reasoning from mythology had become in English-speaking astrological culture by this point in time.

‘We firmly believe that Pluto is the overlord of Scorpio, as Uranus and Neptune are, respectively, the super-rulers of Aquarius and Pisces. It has frequently been borne in strongly to many well-known astrologers and earnest students that Mars alone could not bestow the deep, occult tendencies of this marvellous sign, with its sweeping range of thought, plummet-like probings into hidden things, intense preoccupation with the mysteries of Life and Death, intuitive realisation of the beckonings of the Beyond, its poignant verse and passionate prose, and, above all, its wonderful gamut of emotion.

‘There seems to be, at times, all things contained in Scorpio at its best – colour, art, poetry, music; sounds ranging from the tremulous AEolian harp to “thunder’s deep and dreadful organ-note” which Shakespeare swept into his works.

‘Scorpio’s mechanical genius comes from Mars, but his metaphysical genius is the gift of his transcendantal ruler, who represents the power behind the throne. When the red hue of Mars fades into its complementary colour, and waves of ethereal sea-green tinge the sign of the Scorpion and the Eagle, then will the War God abdicate his throne, and his place will be taken by the great shadowy Ruler whose form is even now becoming slightly more distinct. Pluto was a king in Grecian lore, and the fixed signs have strong connotations with kinshi, especially Leo and Scorpio. In the body of the Scorpion is the binary star, Antares, fiery red and emerald green. The name is from Anti Ares, similar to, or the rival of, Mars. It was one of the four royal stars of Persia in 3000 B.C., when, as the Watcher of the West, it marked the autumnal equinox. Note that the colours of Antares correspond with the hues of Mars and Pluto mentioned above.

‘Scorpio is the 8th octave – the sign of the Great Return. Here the soul, on its long pilgrimage, seeks desperately for wisdom – and shall not seek in vain. It is the sphere of martyrdom in many instances, of intense psychological crucifixion, and it has been said that all martyrdoms looked mean when they were suffered; but the soul rises from them like that in Masefield’s verse: “All smithied o’er with kingly gold.”

‘Pluto was the king of the underworld. His was the realm of shadows, of all the mysteries which took place below the surface of the earth (the soul is earthy in its first primitive gropings). He ruled from a throne over which black snakes crawled and writhed (the dark temptations and evil desires which beset the mind). This is undoubtedly a symbol of the Serpent Power inherent in Scorpio. Black bulls were grouped further back, and on each corner of his imperial seat stood deep-plumaged eagles with keen, penetrating amber eyes, typifying the upward flight of this bird into the empyrean. We should remember that the eagle is the only bird which is supposed to gaze unflinchingly into the Sun on its aerial journey – the power of Scorpio to seek the light and truth after his imprisonment in the realm of shades.’



This study has been arbitrarily limited to opinions expressed by astrologers in connection with Pluto in print up to and including the end of the year 1931 purely in the interest of containing its length and demonstrating the fact that numerous such views were on the record at a very early stage, and certainly long before Fritz Brunhübner’s famous early book on Pluto appeared in print in the original German (which was in 1935). If there is sufficient public demand, it could yet be productively extended with a second instalment covering the follow-up years from 1932 onwards, since there were many further interesting views registered in 1932, 1933, 1934 and beyond – indeed, throughout the 1930s, and into the 1940s and 1950s.

But I believe this paper has served its primary purpose in showing that unity regarding the sign rulership of Pluto existed neither before nor in the immediate aftermath of its discovery, although whereas before its discovery there was a fairly even balance of views favouring either Aries or Scorpio, after its discovery, the opinion that it was ruler of Scorpio rapidly came to predominate, leaving the Aries hypothesis very much in the shade as a minority opinion alongside others that related Pluto to other signs altogether.

A secondary purpose of the study was to illustrate by way of copious examples the extent to which reasoning from mythology had pervaded astrological culture by the early 1930s, before C. G. Jung had had any influence on astrologers’ theoretical thinking at all. Indeed, such reasoning was already abundantly evident in Isabelle Pagan’s work as serialised in Modern Astrology in 1908-9, and seems to owe considerably to the influence of theosophical thinking in astrological circles at that time.


[1] Macnaughton, writing under the pseudonym of Maurice Wemyss in Volume I (1927) of his multi-volume work The Wheel of Life, or Scientific Astrology, proposed no fewer than four hypothetical planets as part of a twelve-fold rulership scheme: Pluto as ruler of Cancer; Hercules as ruler of Leo; Dido as ruler of Virgo; and Jason as ruler of Sagittarius. His rulership scheme was also peculiar in that he omitted the Sun and the Moon altogether, then gave Uranus to Scorpio, Neptune to Libra, Jupiter to Aquarius and the asteroids to Pisces. In fact, only Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Capricorn are represented by their conventional rulers in his scheme.

For several years prior to this date, initially writing under his real name, he had repeatedly referred to his hypothetical Pluto in articles in Modern Astrology Magazine. In the February 1922 issue, he explains, in the context of the analysis of a horoscope (p. 48):

‘Perhaps some will think that the affliction of Uranus, even though a weak sign was ascending, was scarcely strong enough to give such persistent ill-health as Mrs Prentiss suffered. I accordingly have inserted the position of a hypothetical planet Pluto whose position I have worked on for some time now. I shall refer to it in future articles. I consider it to be ruler of Cancer.’ [….]

But even this is not Macnaughton’s earliest reference to his hypothetical Pluto in the pages of the magazine. A letter of his dated 30th July, 1919 (when he was just 27 years old) is printed in the November, 1919 issue (p. 347), casually referring to afflictions by Pluto without any further explanation.

Because the real physical Pluto discovered by Lowell over a decade later had quite different characteristics from the Pluto that Macnaughton had envisaged and assigned to rulership of the sign Cancer, he disowned it, referring to it thereafter as Pluto-Lowell and to his own hypothetical one as Pluto-Wemyss in the pages of Modern Astrology magazine (of which he became the editor in 1931, retaining that position as late as 1940). Therefore, it seems only appropriate to exclude his hypothetical Pluto-Wemyss from consideration in the main body of this article alongside the real one, when the issue of the rulership of the real Pluto is the main focus of this article.

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