Posted by: Donna Cunningham | October 6, 2009

Purge Yourself of Pluto’s Negativity—Get Free of Bitterness

©2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

Every member of my immediate family spent years wallowing in bitterness—except for the two of us that are still alive. Living in a family like that is like living on a toxic waste dump. Bitterness poisons your relationships, your daily life, your chances of a better tomorrow, and even your health.

A strong natal Pluto or a series of long, slow Pluto aspects by transit can provide clues to areas where bitterness can build up over time if you let it—and where your repetitive thoughts and feelings may wind up being a daily dose of self-administered arsenic.

It doesn’t matter if you consider those feelings justified. It doesn’t matter what they did. Allowing yourself the satisfaction of prolonged bitterness is not going to make the miserable bastards any better people and not going to make them sorry they did it. They’ve moved on.

plutoniantypewm-a2dWhat bitterness is going to do is ruin your day if you dwell on it, your night’s sleep if you take it to bed with you, and eventually your whole life if you wear it every day like a uniform. If you persist for any length of time, it will isolate you—friends start to drift away, coworkers shun you, and even relatives put your number on their blocked caller list.

Being a Plutonian person by birth and family legacy, growing up in a cesspool of bitterness made me wildly allergic to being around it. I don’t quite break out in a rash, thankfully, because there are no shots for that. But my stomach churns and I can hardly breathe.

When I used to do consultations for a living, I got so I could pick the really toxic ones out when they called for an appointment, and though I ought to be ashamed to admit it, might tell them I was all booked up if I didn’t feel up to par. Self-preservation is a hard-won skill for any professional astrologer, because much of the time, we’re out there without a net.

Most of the people who are getting a great deal of satisfaction from nursing their grievances aren’t going to listen anyway.  They still write—at wearying length—to my Dell advice column. The latest batch of letters included one that was a 5-page, single-spaced, typed litany of complaints about family members, every one of whom was long dead.

The reason I dragged my soap box out of the office closet this morning is because Neeti Ray is going to interview me for Astrology Expressed—calling all the way from India, if you can imagine!  She sent questions for me to use in preparing for the interview, and one of them was, “Are there times when you get bitter and wish you’d never heard of astrology.”  WELL! The tirade THAT let loose in my head was too good to waste on the four walls of my office!

So, let’s imagine that you’re on the whole not a bitter person, but there are one or two people and situations in the past that gall you and that you can’t let go of. If something in the present is reminiscent of that era in your history, let’s just suppose that it sets you off and running laps around the bitter track in your head. If you look closely at that history and the area of life it touched, let’s just note whether that’s an area of life where you’re really stuck. I’d speculate that in that house or connected with that planet, natal Pluto might just be a factor.

I would have said that I was pretty clear of Pluto fallout—after all, the 40+ years since I first learned the meaning of my natal Pluto have been spent in working on letting go of all that. My allergic reaction to bitterness also extends to an inability to tolerate it in myself, so I get right to work on myself the minute I spot it in my panoply of daily moods.

However, as far as I think I’ve come, when I read Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now, an extremely useful and inspiring paperback, there were some major revelations. He says that when we have parts of our life where we’ve been stuck for years, and nothing but nothing seems to budge them, then the root cause is often an area of unforgiveness. (You can read more about my work with that idea here: Stuck For What Seems Like Forever? Maybe Areas Of Unforgiveness Are The Cause.)

Okay, let’s say that you can identify a stuck area or two.  Maybe you really, fearlessly looked and you honestly didn’t find any bitterness. Good for you.  Now repeat the same process with RESENTMENT. Bitterness is just resentment that’s outstayed its welcome, wearing itself into a groove.  Let bitterness fester  a little longer, and it’s apathy and stagnation.   It’s a matter of degree. So not only can we ill-afford bitterness if we want to be healthy, happy, and whole, it would be prudent to weed out resentments as well. wmsultry-wperf

The most important part of getting free of resentment and bitterness is persistence in noticing as quickly as possible that you’re slipping into it. Then yank yourself right out of that rut and get to work on understanding what’s going on inside you to create that emotion.   Here are some of the Pluto-related questions I find productive to ask myself when my insides are churning with resentment.

  •  What was my part in creating this situation and allowing it go to on?
  • Who does this person represent in my unconscious
  • How is their presence in my life repeating an old pattern?
  • By what behaviors do I give away my power to this person or situation?
  • Why do I remain powerless in what’s going on and what am I getting from it?
  • Does the old adage, “you can’t cheat an honest man” apply to this situation?

Other than insight—and that can be augmented by a first-rate astrology session—what are some other healing tools that can help you free yourself of bitterness?   You can find a few on this blog in the “Healing Tools–Essences, Light, etc.” category.   Among the colors to use are a deep purple, for resentments, and a lavender, for the guilt that so often lurks side by side with it. I often find a mental wakeup call by opening my Post-It studded volume of A Course In Miracles – Foundation for Inner Peace at random.  The place my eyes fall on the page is always the (somewhat incriminating) answer to the question I wasn’t letting myself ask.

Among the Bach flower remedies, available in most health food stores and some metaphysical bookstores, the three most powerful are Willow for letting go of resentments, Holly fhealingplutoprobcvror healing hate, envy, jealousy, and spitefulness, and Star of Bethlehem, for healing old shocks and traumas.

Don’t just start taking those remedies without understanding them and how they work—it’s not at all like conventional medicine. Use the search engine on Vibration Magazine — educational journal on flower essences, a free online educational journal I co-create with Dr. Deborah Bier. If you want more in-depth information about the remedies (a.k.a.  flower essences) have a look at my ebook on the subject here:   My hard-copy text, Healing Pluto Problems is still available from the publisher,

I hope that the tools and ideas in this piece bring a new peace to the Plutonians among us.  I’m a recovering Plutonian myself, so I’ve been there, and this is what I’ve learned so far that helps.  I still flip into a head full of resentments from time to time, but I refuse to let myself stay there for any length of time and I generally know enough not to perpetrate it on others.   I’ve heard that there’s a 12-step program called Plutonians Anonymous, but they won’t tell me where they meet.

PS. Whoa!!  After I post a piece, I often follow the links to see the reaction on the net.  The morning after this was posted, I followed a link to, where they were having a discussion on bitterness.   One of the people posted an important link to an article in the LA Times’ health section article on May 25, 2009  about the annual American Psychiatric Association meeting . They’re having a serious discussion about whether to declare morbid bitterness like I’ve described here as a mental illness.

They link it to post-traumatic stress and propose to call it Post-Traumatic Embitterness Disorder.   One of the things they say about it is that embittered people are extremely resistant to treatment, for they feel they don’t need to change, the world needs to change.   And that these are often good, hardworking people who turn bitter after a terrible event.   (What’s weird is that I have tried and tried to post the link to that article, and it will not transfer.  Possibly the LA times does that.)  But here’s a link to another article on the same topic: Bitterness the newest mental illness?

Related articles on this blog:

More Posts about Pluto on this Blog: 

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  1. Right after talking to you, I saw Dr. Perry on YouTube:

    And synchronicity being what it is, he repeated what you said: 1) learn by looking at charts 2) astrology is an X-ray of the soul.

    Combining astrology and psychology: my fervent wish for the future. I hope humanity gets lucky.

    • If it’s a message we need to hear more than once, then the heavens provide! Donna

  2. Why is it so hard to forgive sometimes and easy another time? Is that Pluto house connected?

    • Good question, CJ. If we had an instrument to measure the strength of Pluto, maybe we’d know the answer. A Plutometer, that’s what we need. Or maybe it depends on what Pluto aspect is being set off…e.g. if it’s a Mars-Pluto aspect rather than just a Pluto in house position. No doubt it would vary by the transiting aspect–which planets are involved, what angle. How vulnerable that natal planet is. For instance, if it were a “weak” natal Mars vs. the Moon, or something.

  3. Oh, boy, do I have a similar allergy! Yikes.

    I find that there may be a few other signs that resentment and bitterness are being held onto. Two are emotional inflexibility and large amplitude knee-jerk reactions around otherwise low-level things. Like, the toaster is acting up, the internet connection is down for a few minutes, you got a paper cut. Often, the response is an “awfulizing” (“I know the house is going to catch fire from that toaster!”) or “generalizing” one (“I ALWAYS get papercuts, boohoo”) that seem very charged. The underlying drama is always connecting back to some supposed long line of similar events where there’s bitterness — events which are really nothing like the current situation when they’re looked at more dispassionately.

    I usually find there’s resentment lurking beneath — both the glue that holds these habits together, and the rocket fuel that powers them into explosive reaction. Any time things seem too hot, grab a pair of potholders and sift through for some bitterness.

    • Yup, Deb, you knows your Plutonians! Your observations are right on target. Donna

  4. Oh, sure — I only have to look in the mirror to find one.

    • LOL! You must be looking in the same mirror I do. Donna

  5. I so very much appreciate your Plutonian insights Donna!

    Recently turned 40, and have had huge personal revelations concerning my 4th house pluto(part of my grand cross).

    I have worked diligently for what feels like this entire incarnation to become self-empowered, set boundaries and to learn to use my plutonian in a manner that is non-projecting…feels as if I am finally getting somewhere. 🙂

    I can absolutely relate to the repulsion of toxic vibrations..yet I find that if the person that is toxic is in some way consciously working to transmute their ‘stuff’ I am quite able to interact, it is when it is being reveled in or used as a crutch and freely so, that I am unable to tolerate interaction. I am uncertain as to if this designates an intolerance or dis-compassion within myself, yet at this time, I have no desire to hold company with anyone that chooses to be miserable.

    Your pluto materials have been a blessing for me and, your generous offering of your wisdom and experience through your articles is greatly appreciated!

    • So good to hear, Kachina! Once they can see a way to do it, Plutonians do have a dogged determination to heal themselves of any negativity and they do not flinch from facing the sources of it or from the arduous work that healing can often entail. The series of midlife aspects (Pluto square natal Pluto, especially) are often a time of major evolution for them. Donna

  6. Difficult post for me to read. I started yesterday and my first reaction was just “no, no I am not bitter!” until I hit resentment. Then I started cooking – my favorite method of procrastination when I do not want to confront something. And yes it is related to Pluto in Virgo in the 6thouse and my whole issue about work and career. I am still struggling to understand how I relate to my Pluto and the feelings of resentment and apathy it can cause. Your article has given much to think about and also new ways to deal with it. Thanks .

    • Brave lady, Fabienne! None of these negative expressions of Pluto are easy to face and deal with, because they bring up so much past pain. Some of it is incompletely-processed grief that gets stuck in anger, not in this case, but when there is a terrible loss. Donna


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