As pluto ends its stay in sagittarius, where it has been continually since november ‘95 (it made a brief sortie into sag at 0° 36’ stationing retrograde the previous march), I have been reflecting on its impacts other than wars and violence around belief systems (religion).
the sagittarius/gemini axis also rules education. through gemini we learn how to integrate into our environment, how to name and orient ourselves to the tangible objects that surround us. thus, the Twins rule communication, transportation, and other forms of elementary, concrete learning. the Centaur, meanwhile, takes on the intangibles and the abstract, the intuitive mental processes that can lead us to truth, philosophy, and considerations about how other people and cultures do things, away from our own direct experience (thus its rulership of foreign travel).
so how does this relate to school violence? pluto is the planet of power and transformation, but it also relates to feelings of powerlessness – that terrible feeling of being at the mercy of something larger than oneself. In sag, that something can be your school – the place where you are required to take in and fit into the teachings of your society. and those feelings of powerlessness can lead to explosive violence.
according to the website infoplease.com, there have been over 45 school shooting incidents worldwide since feb, 1996 (pluto at 2°sag) resulting in 129 students and 33 school administrators dead with 178 left wounded, not including the shooters who committed suicide after taking out their victims. almost without exception, these crimes were committed by fellow students who had been bullied, scorned or who felt like pariahs among their peers*. from a peak of 7 incidents worldwide in 2001 (pluto halfway through sag) they have tailed off; but, as often happens towards the end of a planet’s stay in a sign, there can be a single, major event that encapsulates the signature of the placement. for me, this was the Virginia Tech massacre, the deadliest school shooting in US history.
none of these crimes are justified. yet many of these kids were known to be struggling with depression or other behavioral problems, or the schools later admitted to an atmosphere of bullying among the student body.
so, what have we learned from this, to carry forward into pluto in capricorn (coming to your neighborhood this December)? capricorn rules institutions, law, social reputation and stability (among other things). it is concerned with what works, and what makes us secure. does this mean that future plutonic transformations will find our schools locked down, with security guards, retinal scans and metal detectors? or will we choose the less Draconian strategies of school uniforms, lessons in equality and tolerance, and vigilant school administrations that mix compassion with control? the true lesson of pluto is that it can be felt both as power and the loss (as well as misuse) of power. we need to be conscious of these, no matter the sign it occupies.
* these numbers do not include the other “school located” massacres such as the Beslan,