Jupiter-Pluto and the Meaning of Oliver Twist

Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the somber colors are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision.

From Oliver Twist, Chapter 24

It is an illuminating fact that Charles Dickens' famous novel Oliver Twist has a repeated association with Jupiter-Pluto alignments. The book was originally published in serialized installments throughout the Jupiter-Pluto trine of 1837, and continued until the Jupiter-Pluto opposition in 1839. Amazingly, future adaptations of the work also coincided with Jupiter-Pluto alignments, trines in particular: The film version was released during the Jupiter-Pluto trine of 1948, which was banned in the US due to antisemitic concerns until the Jupiter-Pluto trine of 1951. The film was subsequently re-released with scenes restored during the Jupiter-Pluto sextile of 1970, and was later entered into the British Film Institute's top 100 rated films during the Jupiter-Pluto trine of 1999.

The musical adaptation, Oliver!, opened during the Jupiter-Pluto trine of 1960 and the film version of the musical was released during the Jupiter-Pluto conjunction of 1968.

What could the meaning of this synchronicity tell us? Why is Oliver Twist so connected to this particular planetary duo?

When we consider the broader social themes of the book — urban poverty, injustice, the plight of the downtrodden — the connection is pretty clear to see. Jupiter tends to shine a light upon whatever it touches, or expands it to the point we have to notice it, and Pluto represents the hidden aspects of society, not only the poor and oppressed, but also the rich and powerful who exert control over those with less.

Like Dickens's exposition of the English workhouse, Jupiter-Pluto alignments often bring a collective clarity arising out of an exposure to some morally intolerable condition. Think of the revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib prison during the Jupiter-Pluto trine of 2003, or the release of video showing the murder of Laquan McDonald in Chicago during the Jupiter-Pluto trine of late 2015. We can also include the #MeToo movement, which occurred throughout Jupiter's transit through Scorpio — a sign linked strongly with Pluto — and its sextile alignment with Pluto. Most recently, Jupiter and Pluto were conjunct when George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officers, kicking off a series of nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.

Note that Jupiter-Pluto alignments do not instigate such events, but instead show us what was already occurring, like lifting a log in the forest to see the creepy crawlies underneath. True to Jupiter, whatever issue is being exposed becomes greatly expanded, larger than life, because the issue symbolizes, true to Pluto, a much deeper and darker problem: Government sanctioned torture, police brutality, sexual abuse by star figures, etc.

Today we are entering the very beginning of the next Jupiter-Pluto trine. It is a good time to consider: what are today's issues of poverty, injustice, and abuses of power that demand we witness with a full gaze? What can we no longer turn away from but must acknowledge as a travesty of civilization? Where have we allowed too much power to aggregate, and where have too many suffered the consequences? We might take our cue from Oliver Twist.

From a mythopoetic lens, Oliver represents a kind of hero archetype, undergoing an unconsciously imposed katabasis. He is, after all, an orphan born in an English workhouse, knowing nothing but the dark, cruel world of Victorian poverty. Despite this, Oliver possesses a peculiar kindness and courage, and he follows his destiny without reserve as it presents itself. The pivotal moment occurs when, having drawn the short straw among his fellow inmates, he accepts his duty and summons his Jovian courage to walk up to the master and ask: "Please sir, can I have some more?" This simple request initiates a life-changing journey from the cruelty of the workhouse to the horrors of the undertaker's basement, and through the seediest, grimiest elements of London's streets. By devotedly following his own heart (even when it naively leads him astray), Oliver eventually navigates his way to the upper world, and reconnection with family.

Thus, Oliver is like the light of Jupiter, searching ever for truth, shining through the dark Plutonic underworld and highlighting its depravity in contrast to his virtue. But in actuality, it is Dickens who shines this light for us. Born with a prominently public Jupiter — stationary at his Midheaven and trine his Sun — Dickens showed the world what poverty in England was really like, since he lived through it himself as a child. As an Aquarian he was a champion for humanity, doing much with his popularity and resources to elevate people, especially children, out of poverty.

The "muckrakers" of the early 20th century operated in a similar vein. I recently explored the muckraking movement in an article about the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction. It's worth noting that upon publication of the issue of McClure's Magazine that is considered the birth of muckraking, Jupiter was making a trine to Pluto. Here again we see a Jovian light shone on the Plutonic domains of poverty, power, and corruption.

Bringing these ideas into our current times, I think we can easily imagine what today's Jupiter-Pluto trine might unveil for all to see. Wars, corporate greed, political corruption, massive wealth inequality — these are issues we have been dealing with for a while, but we are largely in the dark about what is driving it all. Could we begin to see people like Dickens in literature, Ida Tarbell in journalism, Guthrie in music, or MLK in politics raise the courage to speak truth (Jupiter) to power (Pluto)? I was recently struck by this very Jupiter-Pluto-like quote from presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, herself born during a Jupiter-Pluto square:

Establishment politics is not just toxic, or even corrupt...in essence it’s a gangster culture. It’s replete with operatives who are political hit men, character assassins, psy ops, political saboteurs... Anyone who tries to get around all that pays dearly.

I hold no illusions that the events occurring during this Jupiter-Pluto trine will resolve any of the large scale corruption we are witnessing in the world today, but it may bring to us some much needed moral clarity. Through it and the coming transits this decade, we can be like Oliver, but without his innocence and naïveté. With experience, integrity, and courage we can each move through our own parcel of Hades, face the shadows that are right for us while challenging our own aggressions and judgments, and with time find ourselves on a shore brighter than where we started.

Edit 5.29.24: Added mention of George Floyd.

Please share your thoughts...

4 Responses to Jupiter-Pluto and the Meaning of Oliver Twist

  1. Sara Lanier says:

    Thanks for this. Marianne Williamson’s description of how our present democratic governments in the UK and UK truly ‘work’ is right on the money. There is a headline article in The Guardian today highlighting the actions of the last Chief of Israel’s Intelligence service Mossad. He threatened a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and her family after she initiated an investigation into Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians back in 2014. Mossad have always had a strong presence here in Northern Ireland. They seem to have worked closely with British Intelligence since Israel’s foundation. A historical relationship which included them in British military actions in Ireland during Operation Banner (1969-2007). This was the British state military Counterinsurgency experiment in Ireland where the UK state infiltrated both local Republican and Loyalist communities with agents who then acted to lightning rod terrorist atrocities, known in the mass media as The Troubles. That is the simple version, of course. But I am here concerned with crimes knowinglyvcommitted against civilians by those in authority. The UK state passed a law last September contravening International human rights law which shuts down all possible future investigations into those atrocities or access to civil justice for any of the victims or their family members. The Irish government are presently taking them to The Hague over this heinous action. Maybe this Jupiter Pluto transit will gift both the Palestinian and Irish people and their allies the power to expose and punish those abusers of power who remain immune from criminal prosecution for their crimes against humanity.

  2. Prashanti says:

    This is yet another expertly well written/said & worthy read. I so appreciate what you post here. Really helpful & affirming at this time in history , as it unfolds. Prashanti

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *