Posted by: Donna Cunningham | June 22, 2010

Understanding Mercury-Pluto Combinations

©6-23-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

The latest Skywriter theme has been to explore various aspects and other chart features associated with Mercury.  Since Mercury has only a couple more days left in its own sign, we’re winding down, but here’s one of the last articles in the series. Today we’ll focus on some readers’ questions about Mercury-Pluto combinations as well as an excerpt from my writing tips booklet. 

Ellen asks: Can you explain the difference between Pluto in the 3rd house, and Mercury in Scorpio? I have both.

My reply:  They’re quite similar in their approach to thinking and communicating–deep, penetrating, astute, psychological, analytical–but it’s more a matter of degree. In terms of what’s strongest by my observations, I say it goes like this, with 1 being the strongest:

  1. Mercury-Pluto hard aspects (conjunction, square and opposition)
  2. Pluto in the 3rd, especially within 10 degrees of the IC
  3. Mercury-Pluto trine less compulsive, minor aspects just a smidgeon
  4. Gemini on the 8th
  5. Mercury in 8th
  6. Mercury in Scorpio
  7. Scorpio planets in the 3rd
  8. Scorpio on the 3rd cusp, no planets there

You can create a similar listing of strengths for any Mercury aspect.  Just substitute the name of the planet, the sign it rules, and the associated house of the chart.

Adrienne asks,”Is transiting Pluto conjunct Mercury the same as a natal conjunction? With Pluto moving so slow, it will be there for about 2 years.”

My reply:  Yes, a long transit of an outer planet like Pluto conjunct an inner planet like Mercury raises some of the same issues and conflicts to resolve as people with natal conjunctions have had to contend with all their lives.  The same could be said of Pluto transits to the 3rd house, since it’s the house related to Mercury and thus describes communication, thinking, and learning patterns, relationships with siblings and other near relatives like aunts and uncles, and short-term learning commitments like seminars.

These transits are usually more more overwhelming than the natal aspect because the person isn’t used to it. Therefore, there’s a big learning curve on how to make the two planets work together.  It can be most difficult in the beginning, but gets progressively better as the two-year transit goes on…if the person is WILLING to learn, rather than ignoring–or even resisting–the message from the Cosmos. 

The important exception would be if the person already had those two planets in some kind of aspect natally–let’s say that in the birth chart you already had Mercury trine Pluto. Then the transit would be an important window for resolving long-standing issues that the natal aspect represents and upgrading the way the aspect is used to a new, more constructive level. Pluto transits to the 3rd raise some of the same issues, except that they last a very long time, depending on how many degrees are in that house. (For example, if the house is 30 degrees wide, the transit lasts approximately 15 years.)

 If the person has a talent for writing, a Mercury-Pluto transit can be an era when they begin to work hard at developing it and may even write something substantial.  Likewise, a Pluto transit to the 3rd can also be a window for developing writing talent, except it lasts much longer.

To a reader who asked if natal Mercury square Pluto COULD contribute to a problem in verbal expression:  Yes, and add to writing barriers as well. Here’s what I would see as the reason. Plutonians have a built-in BS detector, but they get into beaucoup trouble when they talk about what they see. As kids, they get their behinds tanned at home and get sent to the principal’s office at school.

Pretty soon, they learn to keep their mouths shut rather than speak out about what’s so glaringly obvious to them. So as adults, they become anxious about expressing things that they know make others uncomfortable.

A reader asks: I ’d like to know if someone else’s Pluto in aspect to a person’s Mercury has a similar effect as natal aspects. Say, my Mercury conjunct someones Pluto.

My reply: What a good question!  There’s a certain tension in the relationship about communication, certainly. The Mercury person would want the Pluto person to commmunicate what they are holding back; on the other hand, the Pluto person would hate it when the mercury person is being glib and superficial, and so would push them to look deeper. It’s not a bad contact in terms of the results, but uncomfortable in the process. It’s a bit like Gemini vs. Scorpio–a quincunx by signs that has some of the same dynamics as what I just said. 

Trishia asks, “Donna, what does Pluto in the 3rd house mean? I thought it meant a potty mouth:) “

My reply:  Bleep yes!  But it’s way more  than that. The 3rd house has many different levels of meanings. To do a complete analysis would be an article in itself, but here are some of the possibilities.

1) An intense and toxic case of sibling rivalry. Many times there are abusive relationships among these siblings.
2) A person who is very private and may have a deep distrust of neighbors (another 3rd house meaning)…neighborhood “witch.”
3) A deep and penetrating mind–like Mercury in Scorpio taken to a much higher level.
4) One who writes powerful, healing, transformative prose–whether self-help or fiction.
5) One whose words have a vicious sting, going right for others’ most vulnerable places.
6) One who suffers from OCD, maybe of the verbal variety. Or thinks of sex all the time.
7) One who plots how to get even…never letting go of a grudge. Ask my mean Aunt Bernadine, who has a huge chart on her wall detailing all her family feuds.
 An investigative reporter, digging into corruption and treachery.
9) All of the above…or none of the above.

And lots, lots, more.

For more details on family dynamics common to those with Mercury-Pluto combinations in their charts, here’s an excerpt from my writing tips booklet: 

 MERCURY-PLUTO HARD ASPECTS OR PLUTO IN THE 3rd: Mercury-Pluto types are keenly conscious of the power of words—written or spoken—whether to heal or to wound, and therein lies a good deal of their difficulty in writing.  Many of them grew up in families where it was taboo or even outright dangerous to talk about what was really happening. While the secrets of Neptunian families are maintained by denial, addiction, and spacing out, the secrets of Plutonian families are more often maintained by guilt-tripping or intimidation.

 Since Pluto and Neptune were traveling in tandem 60° apart for the last several decades of the Twentieth Century, however, most such dysfunctional families are a crazy-making combination of both planets. Some family members are sunk in denial, while others perceive the truth but are punished or shunned for speaking out about it! The Plutonians are the family members who see deeply but learn to keep their own counsel. When Mercury aspects Pluto or Pluto is in the 3rd, the secret may be about a sibling who is either abused or abusive or both, and who threatens the native with some dire consequence If They Tell.

 Additionally, the sibling may engage in heavy-handed power trips or less apparent but no less effective manipulation in order to maintain dominance. I have also noted with Pluto in the 3rd that it is common for one or both parents to promote an intense and often scarring sibling rivalry in which siblings vie with one another for sparsely-available love and attention at all costs. Being invisible—and thus less of a target—becomes a survival skill in such families. 

It does present a special problem for a would-be writer, because in order to be published, the person has to overcome the fear of being high profile AND the prohibition against revealing secrets. Insight and healing work may be required to break through these barriers.  The result, however, is the potential formwriting that is powerful, insightful, and moving.

Note:  this has been a brief excerpt from my ebooklet, So You Want to Write— Techniques and Tips from Miss Prolific, which you can order here:

LOST BROTHERS AND SISTERS:  Several people have written in to say that they had half or step siblings they didn’t get to know until later. CJ Wright of Auntie Moon wants birth data from people who were adopted or who spent periods of time in their childhood where they were in foster care or lived with adults other than their parents ~ grandparents, other relatives, families of friends, childrens’ homes, or other environments, to see what placements go along with those experiences.  I’m guessing that an outer planet near the IC is one signature, but I could be off.   See the announcement at and  write to her at

To one reader who asked what the antidote to a Mercury/Pluto aspect would be,  I suggested:   Age, experience, and self-awareness. Mental self-control.

With my own Mercury-Pluto semisquare, I’ve learned, when my thoughts get into certain kinds of grooves (obsessively ruminating on a resentment or what someone did to me, for instance) to yank myself out of that rut.

(It used to be that working myself into a state of righteous indication was a guilty pleasure. Now, peace of mind is more of a solace that I crave.)

When I feel myself winding up to a bad brood, I tell myself very emphatically STOP! Sometimes I give myself a little tap on the third eye while saying STOP! Then I distract myself by doing something that takes all my concentration, like playing solitaire.

Reading A Course in Miracles (ACIM) helps me the most–I just open it “at random” and the verse my eyes light on always pertains to what I’m stewing about in an uncanny way. (Eckhart Tolle’s writing, like The Power of Now, helps too, and in fact, ACIM is one of the sources he draws from.) In short, I’ve learned to reel myself in quite quickly because I could stew all night about IT–it always seems these “attacks” come in the night and keep me awake and agitated.

 Readers, do you or someone close to you have a Mercury-Pluto connection in the birth chart or by transit? How does it play out?  And how have you helped yourself? Tell us in the comment section. 

Note:  For even more insights about Mercury-Pluto aspects feel like–and what to do with them, read two articles written during a long Mercury-Pluto conjuntion while Mercury was stationary and turning retrograde:  The Mercury-Pluto Conjunction—Grievances, Gripes, Grudges, and Grinches   and  If It Weren’t for that Mercury Conjunction to Pluto….

Other Articles in this Series about Mercury and the 3rd on Skywriter:

Related Articles:

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  1. I have a Mercury/Pluto conjunction in Leo my natal, 2nd house, which trines Jupiterin Aires (10th) and the moon in Sag. (6th)

    I can get emotional about issues when speaking about them. I can also change my mind on things too. I don’t get stuck in my opinion if I hear things that will change my mind.

    I really don’t know how the Mercury/Pluto conj. is, other than that. I have not given it a lot of thought. If anyone else has Mercury/Pluto conj I would be interested to hear their thoughts.

    • I have pluto 17 leo conj mercury 22 leo in H2, also !!

      My MC is 8 aries & Jupiter 13 aries..

      All of my life- words have been my weapon- & I have been a self promoter.

      My sun at 28 cancer & asc at 25 cancer add an ‘aries-esque’ quality to my

      chart- enhancing that aries MC & Jup…

      Tell me- have you found- in your darkest times- you had to go it alone ??

      It was then alleged friends & family were scarce ??



      • Ah, well, Krista, it did happen in my younger years, but over time (and Pluto transits) I learned to base my friendships on equality and give and take rather than rescueing and doing makeovers on people. It’s those people who profess to need you the most (“you’re my ONLY friend” is a dead giveaway) who turn on you when you need them, because you’re not meeting their needs any more. It might be helpful to use the search engine for this site and put the word “boundaries” into it for articles about this. Donna

    • Susie, having Pluto in your 2nd, have you experienced fluctuations in income?

  2. Very revealing, Donna.

    Let’s see, I already possess secret high hopes connected to a high interest in writing:

    secret high hopes = Scorpio MC; 36 on your Pluto Test

    high interest in writing = An emphasis in the mercurial guise of an unaspected N Mercury.

    So perhaps these are due for a tune-up – transformation – with T Pluto square N Mercury coming up.

    I might anticipate a period of intense focus, one way (development) or another (frustration). I certainly would prefer the former. :-)

  3. My daughter (15) has Mercury 8 degrees Scorpio near Pluto 27 degrees Scorpio both in a stellium in the 10th and 11th houses. She has Sun, Jupiter and north node in between. I’m trying to learn about her, she tends to be secretive (unlike my son who tells me everything and is a Gemini) and she is a natural detective (can’t hide the Christmas presents from her). I’ve really worked with her to be kind and have a nice tone when she speaks and such, be nice to herself. I am curious how this may play out since it in those social houses.

  4. Mercury in Taurus in the 8th house with a wide (13 degree orb) square to Pluto in the 11th house. Boy do I get in trouble with that big mouth of mine! But when I repress what I want to say, I get stress issues.

    When I was little I lived in a household with an alcoholic father, and I had to watch everything I said. Now I tell it like it is, and sometimes get a perverse pleasure from forcing a reaction from people.

  5. Sun in Libra in the 3rd. with Mercury in Scorpio conjunct Neptune on the 4th house cusp. Her natal Pluto in Virgo sextiles the Natal Neptune.

    She writes music. Is a perpetual student.She has not spoken to her Mother in many years. She can be really out there and not in touch with reality. Very very metaphyical. while smiling at your face behind your back munipulate from the shadows and cut you off at your knees because her perception is the only right one.

    She is very controlling with any thing to do with home and family with Scorpio on the IC.

  6. Mercury in Scorpio, right on the cusp of the 3rd, conjunct Jupiter/Neptune in Scorpio. My Mercury sextiles (and is in mutual reception with) Virgo in Pluto/12th house which squares retrograde Mars in the 9th. I think the square between 3rd house rulers, Pluto and Mars, accounts for the dangerous environment I grew up in, and also for the volatile (sometimes violent) relationship I had with my brother growing up.

    I grew up in a home (and neighborhood) where it wasn’t safe to speak your mind or to give a voice to your insights. Better to keep them to yourself and suffer in silence; telling the truth was ineffective and got you into more trouble – you could get physically hurt. I left that neighborhood, but found there are basic similarities between people everywhere, with many choosing to believe in the fallacious argument, pre-packaged lie, or shiny image – life is easier that way. I’ve become adept at recognizing and uncovering hidden corruption, and am good at the detailed research no one else wants to do. Sometimes the details contradict the overall message and make a big difference. I would’ve made a great detective.

    I’ve had to call 911 (the police) more than anyone I know and am known for holding it together in an emergency. People turn to me for advice or support when they don’t know where else to go. I’m trustworthy and would never use someone’s self-doubt or fear against them.

    • Hi, LB, thanks for sharing. The HOOD is also the 3rd house, I’d say, but that’s one scary environment and has to result in being on Red Alert a lot of the time.

      Among the Bach flower remedies available in health food stores, Star of BEthlehem is one that soothes the soul, helping to heal old shocks and scares. Donna

      • Thanks Donna. And thanks for the Bach Remedy recommendation. :)

        Scary ‘hood’ is right. When my dad passed away I had the opportunity to move back to the old neighborhood, but said no thanks, having no desire to go back to living on red-alert. Don’t want to work in a red-alert environment anymore either. With my South Node in the 8th, I’m ready to embrace a less dangerous way of living.

  7. Awesome! Thanks for the info!

  8. I really admire people with mercury in scorpio (and/or similar) not shallow, to say the least. Very interesting. I notice that sometimes, depending on other positions in the chart, they can be rather obsesive with a particular subject (s) and is really hard to get them to talk about other things for a while.
    In a more general note, I’m curious about what you’ve noticed about the learning process of young kids regarding mercury and the 3rd house. Thanks!

    • Oh, they’re obsessive all right. Puhleeze! However a Mercury-Pluto or Mercury-Saturn aspect gives you the kind of stick-to-it ability it takes to complete a book or a create a body of work in a particular field.

      I haven’t done much direct work with children’s learning styles and don’t like to write from a theoretical stance, just direct observation and experience.

      There’s a woman named Rae Jacobs who has a degree in education (?Master’s) and long experience in the school system. She wrote a great article in TMA on just that topic, but when I looked for her on the web just now, I couldn’t find her any more. Try the back issues of The Mountain Astrologer at the link under Astrology Groups and Publications. Donna

  9. my Leo Pluto is in the 3rd, it opposes my Pisces Moon, and sextiles both Neptune in the fifth and my ACS. Venus is also in the 3rd, 9 degrees earlier.

    Once at work a team partner marveled at the fact that I had just said something very funny, but also very cutting to dismiss someone else – He was sure the target of my ‘witty put-down’ wouldn’t even notice the attack till they were back at their own desk, because of my smooth delivery.

    It was that moment I decided to no longer be gratuitously humorous at another’s expense.

    Quite a seminal moment for me.

    • We do grow and evolve, thank the Lord!with a Mercury-Pluto semisquare, I’ve been guilty of writing some pretty devastating things to people who hurt me. I try not to do that any more. Donna

  10. I SO wanna meet Aunt Bernadine!!

    • I’m thinking of putting my neice-ship up on eBay to the highest bidder. Donna

  11. Hi Donna and All!

    Pluto/3rd conj. IC

    Your examples above were excellent concerning possible manifestations of Pluto/3rd and all of them I have experienced to a greater/lesser degree.

    As a writer and healer I am acutely aware of the power of words and yes, it absolutely causes temporary writer’s block for me at times, until I am in the proper flow that will not project in any manner. Otherwise, any chance for projection at all..I just don’t write. I also don’t argue, ever. I am quite aware of my ability to intimidate and wound with words and when I was young I admittedly used it as a defense mechanism many times before I came to an awareness of what/why I was doing what I was.

    What I find the most difficult by far is to communicate on ‘lighter levels’. Often returning emails(pluto-uranus-conj) of the sort that are just a nice, “hi, how are you?” leave me baffled. 3rd Pluto wants to communicate the full truth and depth and leave nothing to be misinterpreted or misunderstood and then I think, “geesh..this poor soul doesn’t want a now what do I do?”..and yeah then it takes me a while to figure out how to fire back something light and simple without pissing off Pluto.

    Too..I have many factors in my chart that emphasize a need to be honest and up-front and combine that with Pluto and then I tend to write volumes on most everything and anything to fulfill that inner urge/drive now! Eeek!

    Ok..reeling in it now. :)

    As always Donna, ever thankful for your generous sharing of experiential knowledge! Kachina

    • Kachina, your Mercury-Pluto power shines through in such an amazing and healing depth in your blog work on Thanks for sharing all the levels of how it works for you. Well not all–that would take a book, and I hope it will some day. Donna

  12. I guess I should be happy I only have the sextile… 0_0

    In a few years Pluto will be on my 3rd. I hope this will happen:

    “… a Pluto transit to the 3rd can also be a window for developing writing talent, except it lasts much longer.”

    Cool, cool, cool.

    • Hi Dunya, pluto transiting the 3rd can be a very very productive time! best :)

  13. I have mercury conj pluto Leo in house 2

    Merc rules houses 3 and 12; pluto rules house 5

    I Believe this aspect helped to make me ‘strong’.

    & th ability to sell my ideas

    It receives a trine from Jup- aries- house 10 conj MC


    • Krista, That’s a great aspect for sales success, very persuasive, especially given that trine to Jupiter on the MC. There’s quite a series of articles about the 2nd house here. Donna

    • Krista,
      I have the same aspect in the same house. I don’t really understand much about the Mercury/Pluto conjunction or the Trine with Jupiter 10th, but I do know that when I worked I could say pretty much anything I wanted about my job and did not get in trouble. Wonder if that is part of this aspect? I could be critical of they way things were going and not get penalized for it. I do have a Trine to the Moon in this mix making it a Grand trine.

      • That’s interesting. I am strongly Mercurial and Plutonian, and I’m not chatty, like many Mercurial types. In fact, that can drive me a bit nuts. But when I do talk, I want it to be about something real and that matters. I don’t do surface very well. I found I’m able to confront things at work that others have tried to confront and not gotten results, but somehow bosses listen to me when I’m upset. My speech carries power, I learned early on. I’ve been successful at changing some things at my current job that way. But I also have to be careful. Someone told me once that others could joke around and make cracks about people, but that when I did, somehow it hurt, even though it was a joke. I really took that to heart, that my words are more powerful, and I need to be careful.

      • You get the point, Gracebound. It’s a huge gift, but one that carries responsibilities for how we use it. Donna

  14. I have Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus in Scorpio in the 3rd house, with Mercury conjunct the IC and square Pluto in the 12th. I don’t know where to start! I find it hard to express in words what I know and feel…and yet I’m told I am a very good writer. My writing is clear and to the point; not much fluff at all. I find it very draining to write, but I feel good afterward.

    I have more trouble with speech, hard to express what I know and feel; at least with writing I can think about it and reread what I have written to see if it makes sense…more time to find the right word. On the other hand, I seem to be able to get people to understand at a deeper level…almost like I “send” the message psychically. I also pick up other’s messages easily. Communication is very complex to me…so many levels.

    I have a hard time in certain environments because I pick up all the vibes and it wears me out.
    I picked up on what was really going on as a child, but was told I was wrong, so I have had to learn to trust my own judgment as an adult.

    Thank you, Donna, so much for these info sessions… very informative.
    I’d like to know if someone else’s Pluto in aspect to a person’s Mercury has a similar effect as natal aspects. Say, my Mercury conjunct someones Pluto.

    • What a good question, Donna! In fact, I like it so much I’m going to move into the article itself. There’s a certain tension in the relationship about communication, certainly. The Mercury person would want the Pluto person to commmunicate what they are holding back; on the other hand, the Pluto person would hate it when the mercury person is being glib and superficial, and so would push them to look deeper. It’s not a bad contact in terms of the results, but uncomfortable in the process. Donna

  15. I would like to respond to Donna who wrote the previous comment. I too have Mercury in Scorpio square to Pluto. Everything you said about psychic communcation (sending and receiving) is true for me. I also knew very early in life what was going on around me but was never validated. And so I also learned not to speak my mind.

    I pick up everything that is going on around me – not what is overtly said, but my mind goes to what’s behind what’s being said. I never trusted my bullshit instincts until much later in life. Still to this day, I second guess myself because I don’t trust my own mind. It’s only lately that I realize how self-undoing Pluto square mercury is, especially with merc. in scorpio.

    I have no patience for small talk. I’ve written extensively, mostly music and lyrics. I am able to find the right word for any emotion. (My mercury is also square to my moon, which is 7 degree conjunction with pluto) I am always comfortable around scorpios, because I know they will come right to the point.

    Very early in in life I realized I had the ability to follow my thoughts to their inevitable conclusions, and it was then that I decided I didn’t want to follow some of those thoughts.

    I also find Mercury in Scorpio square pluto to be very controlling, not so much of others, but of my own thoughts. It’s very hard to let go of your thoughts. Like they are your anchor.

    What is the antidote to this aspect when you have no other trines or sextiles to Mercury?

    • Another great question, and one that I think most readers with these aspects would like to hear, so I’ve moved the answer into to article itself. That’s the cool thing about a blog–you can always add more. Thanks for asking, Regine! Donna C.

      • Great ideas, Donna… and I could use a course in miracles. I will get it. And yes, exactly as you said, age and wisdom and experience have enabled me “not to go there.” Thanks, as usual, Regine

  16. Pluto falls in either the 4th or the 3rd house of my natal chart, depending on which house system is used. With most house systems it’s a 4th house Pluto though, and that’s the placement i resonate with most. To such an extend even that i didn’t want to look into the 3rd house possibility.
    Until i realised just recently that i was being silly and denying myself the possibility of further insight.

    Reading this article, it was this sentence that got to me most:
    “When Mercury aspects Pluto or Pluto is in the 3rd, the secret may be about a sibling who is either abused or abusive or both…”

    One of my siblings got raped at a young age and became verbally abusive later in life. This is not something that’s been resolved, and not something i’m used talking about – especially the rape-part. But i have started setting boundaries with this sibling, and other family members. It still feels like a long way though.

    • Wow, we’re really getting some demos of how crucial those sibling relationships are and how much they shape us!

      But Maaike, the 4th house cusp (the IC) doesn’t change in any of the house systems but equal house and whole sign–the IC is the same in Placidus, Koch, and most others. It’s one of the 4 powerful angles that the Gauquelin research showed was a core character element. So, nope, you can’t run and you can’t hide from these insights. And I’d bet that your sister’s rape is just the start of the family secrets and/or things you weren’t allowed to talk about. Donna

  17. Thank you for a very interesting article and discussion. I don’t have any aspects natally between mercury and Pluto (their just one sign apart), but transiting pluto in 2n is trining mercury in 10th in Libra, so this was very insightful.

    • A very nice transit for career, Natalie. Heads up, folks, when you get transiting Pluto in one of the vocational houses, the key to really transforming and empowering your career is to work on healing your resentments. (Look to where Pluto is in your birth chart for clues about what might be holding you back.)

      Natalie, check out the series of articles on money and the 2nd house. I believe there’s one on Pluto in the 2nd that may help you capitalize on this transit and avoid any pitfalls. (I almost wrote pit bulls.) Donna

  18. My son (8 yrs old) has Pluto in 3. The other day he was supposed to give a short talk about a topic of his interest in school, he has many interests, many of them sort of plutonic (harry potter, alchemy, magic, sciences, detective stuff etc). He was not willing to talk about any of these topics but said he wanted to keep them secret. He ended up about talking about our cats, which was the only “harmless” topic he could find.
    He hates writing and has a handwriting that is hardly legible, not that he makes any spelling mistakes.
    He also usually has friends who are very manipulative (although I attributed that to his scorpio moon in 1 in opposition to mars in 7), but maybe I a mistaken. Also he suffered in school from an abusive teacher, he ended up psychosomatic ill (could, not move his legs for pain), so I arranged for him to attend a different school which made a lot of difference.

    I myself have Pluto/mercury inconjunct as parts opf two yods, one with mercury at the apex in aries in 12, pluto in 5 sextile neptune in 6, the other with mercury sextile jupiter in 10, pluto on the apex. I have not quite figured out yet what this means, but I have definetly writers block and speech block, feel so absolutely uncomfortable doing small talk, don’t even know how to despite buying several how to books.
    Hated language (not foreign ones) in school to the point I was physically ill, could/can not express myself, could go on and on now but won’t… have not found a way out yet…

    • Hello, Annette, astrological aspects like Mercury-Pluto–and the psychological issues they represent–do run in families. It will help your son to find other kids with similar interests/obsessions to share them with. Easier as he grows older, but even now he might find them on the internet. (It goes without saying that you’d need to oversee his time on the computer–so many dangers now.)

      My book Healing Pluto Problems would probably give you lots more insights for yourself and your son, as well as some healing tools. Flower essences are very good tools for children–better, even than for adults. Go to Vibration Magazine’s blog ( ) and put “children and essences” into the on-site search engine. Tons of articles, and pay special attention to those by Barbara Mazzarella, who wrote a beautiful book for children and parents about how to use essences. Donna

      • Hi Donna, thanks for that – you are right, I have better get your book Pluto problems out again, had it for many years (and love it). We also use flower essences and homoeopathy and I think I just need some right now….

  19. Hi Donna,

    I’ve got a 4th house Pluto when either Placidus, Koch, Whole Sign, or some of the other systems are used (when using Koch, my Scorpio placements also fall in the 4th).
    It’s only when the equal house system is used that Pluto falls in the 3rd house of my natal chart (and then my Scorpio placements fall in the 4th).

    The sibling is my older brother.
    He got raped by a stanger at age 9 and didn’t tell any of us until ten years after the fact.
    How this has effected our relationship as we were growing up i can only guess, or reconstruct in hindsight. Since there was a lot of other fear in our household, concerning my fathers illness, a lot of our childhood experiences got overshadowed. Mine anyway.

  20. Hi Donna,

    Everything on your list of possible”many levels of meaning” with 3rd house Pluto….resonates. My Pluto is in the fourth house of Leo at 13…which can also be the 3rd house….
    My IC is 12 and Saturn is in the third at 8………. you nailed certain things down for me in these 2 blogs….

    Blessings on you and your insights!


  21. Hi Donna,
    I have a natal Mercury-Pluto quintile (if that even counts as an aspect). Currently Pluto is conjuncting/ just moved off my Mercury.
    I guess that manifests as me REALLY wanting to tell people where to get off in excruciating, detail. I’m ready to flame people when in the past I just wouldn’t. I sent a five page foot noted letter using events in a politician’s life to tell him in excruciating detail how he was so very very wrong about his position on some legislation. I write, and sit on it, but people still think I’m harsh. I don’t know what else to do.

  22. Ex husband with Sun conjunct mercury in Scorpio in the third house trine Pluto/Moon/Jupiter in 11th.
    Celebrated heart surgeon and master of revenge and the cutting remark. I once said “even God forgives” I don’t, he replied.

    • Great example, MaryJane. Good thing he’s your ex and not your current, though someone like that never really goes away. Donna

  23. I have a hyperactive 2nd house Gemini Mercury sextile Pluto in Leo in the 5th. I can do both light chit-chat sometimes, but really love talking deep when the mood strikes me. Cancer Sun in 3rd, Cap moon in 8th kindof repeats that theme. Mercury conjuncts Venus, trines neptune and opposes the moon so my mind can go all over the place (and generally does) Thanks for another thought-provoking article Donna! :)

  24. Mercury in Sag in 7th square Pluto in Virgo in 5th.

    I should just leave this at that.

    • LOL! Mercury-Pluto types are close-mouthed anyhow, but this sounds like one for the romance novels. Donna

  25. I have pluto and mercury in a wide square – (within 6degrees) I guess it still counts. The part that you say we see what we see but we keep our mouth shut. Yep – that about sums it up.

    • Hi, Kat, 6 degrees will work for a square, definitely. Especially if you related to what you’re reading here. Donna

  26. mercury in close conj to pluto. In scorpio. In 3rd house. They trine my jupiter in capricorn. Luckily, my sun is in libra, 3rd house, 3rd decan, and I’ve got moon conj asc in leo, so I don’t act often on my intense love of verbally destroying people. At least not aloud. Other planets maintain this theme. My chart isn’t very interesting, but it’s certainly consistent. Lots of downsides, but I wouldn’t change it if I could. Except maybe in romance. But I’m sure there’s some mindhack to get around it.

  27. I have Mercury in Taurus (11th) square Pluto in Leo (3rd). And Mercury is opp Moon in Scorpio (5th), and Mercury and Moon are square to Pluto, creating a cold-blooded t-square. Sometimes, I want to tell people to just f—— off, but I remain sensitive to the feelings of others.

    However, as I grow older, it’s becoming harder, and harder to listen to the shallow crap. Therefore, I am more comfortable telling my mother what I perceive as the truth when she, a detached Aquarian slips back into the blame game.

  28. Dear Donna, on this very day I’m worried about conjunct Pluto, Mars, Mercury transiting my son’s Sag. 8th house right between Uranus and Saturn (3degrees apart), and today 12/14/10 exactly squaring his triple tight conjunction Virgo’s 5th house Mercury,Sun, Mars (0,2,4 degrees) he is 21 and a little depressed. I am worried. All that is also squaring his 2nd house Gemini Ceres, Part of Fortune and Jupiter. I don’t know what to expect. Sorry for all the tiresome details.

    • that’s a huge and complicated picture. Is he open to astrology? If not, can the two of you talk openly about what’s upsetting him? Not something to ignore, although the 8th has many meanings, such as being worried about debts. If the feedback you get confirms your worries, get professional help. Donna

      • Thank you Donna, he is not a disbeliever of Astrology but when I mention a concern without exactly knowing what is going on I makes him nervous and angry. I’d love to have him go to professional help but even if we were able to afford it, it’d be hard to make him go. He might be worried about household money too. I’m avoiding making him upset and try to do little things for him. He has a hard time with relationships, only a brief one with a girl. I feel I’m failing with parenting. He has a Taurus AC but his Venus is conjunct Pluto in the 6th. He has so many hard aspects, Hardly any easy ones. Thanks you again!

  29. Can anyone help with advice? Natally, I have mercury conjunct pluto in Virgo in the 6th house. It is in a grand trine with mars in Taurus in the 1st and a Capricorn midheaven. Currently, Pluto is conjunct my midheaven. Sounds like the stuff careers are made of, right? Yet, I have no idea what to do with myself career wise at 52 years of age! I’ve been out of work for almost a year. My last job was in the medical field. I feel like I should just retire, but cannot. I love reseach, but I don’t really know what to do with that either. Feeling lost right now. Thanks for any help!


  30. I have Pluto in Leo conjunct (well, 12 degree orb) Ascendant, nearly exactly squaring Mercury in the 10th along with the Sun in Taurus. It is in a T-square with Saturn in the 4th in Scorpio. I wrote a lot when I was a child, and have often been told I have talent, and I expected to be a writer when I grew up. But along the way I developed a totally unyeilding writer’s block. For years I have tried to heal this, but nothing will so far budge it.

    Over the years, I would give up trying a while to earn some income and have a life beyond staring at blank pages, but would always come back to it later. Here I am again. I have the Moon and Neptune in the 3rd in Libra, Mars in Gemini, Venus in the 9th, all good indicators for writing. Sometimes I think this is the commonly pointed out problem of Taurus doggedly keeping on with something even long after it is worthwhile to do so, but then I look at my chart for something that fits me better and come back to all those planets indicating I can do it. Ach!

    • Ah, Lucy, I hope you get this reply. As I have a very active Mercury-Pluto semisquare, I do sometimes–not so much now–struggle when my writing if what I’m writing is too self-revealing. Here’s what I wrote about this aspect in my writing tips booklet, “So You Want to Write—
      Techniques and Tips from Miss Prolific ”

      MERCURY-PLUTO HARD ASPECTS OR PLUTO IN THE 3rd: Mercury-Pluto types are keenly conscious of the power of words—written or spoken—whether to heal or to wound, and therein lies a good deal of their difficulty in writing. Many of them grew up in families where it was taboo or even outright dangerous to talk about what was really happening. While the secrets of Neptunian families are maintained by denial, addiction, and spacing out, the secrets of Plutonian families are more often maintained by guilt-tripping or intimidation.

      Since Pluto and Neptune were traveling in tandem 60° apart for the last several decades of the Twentieth Century, however, most such dysfunctional families are a crazy-making combination of both planets. Some family members are sunk in denial, while others perceive the truth but are punished or shunned for speaking out about it! The Plutonians are the family members who see deeply but learn to keep their own counsel. When Mercury aspects Pluto or Pluto is in the 3rd, the secret may be about a sibling who is either abused or abusive or both, and who threatens the native with some dire consequence If They Tell.

      Additionally, the sibling may engage in heavy-handed power trips or less apparent but no less effective manipulation in order to maintain dominance. I have also noted with Pluto in the 3rd that it is common for one or both parents to promote an intense and often scarring sibling rivalry in which siblings vie with one another for sparsely-available love and attention at all costs. Being invisible—and thus less of a target—becomes a survival skill in such families, and yet in order to be published, the person has to overcome the fear of being high profile. Insight and healing work may be required to break through this barrier. Writing under a pseudonym is another possibility.

  31. Thanks for commenting, Donna. It is so true what you said above and I think it will be very helpful for me to consider further. My mother was a single parent and she worked very hard to take care of me and my two sisters. She was frightened and stressed, but trying not to show it (she sounded and acted a lot like Mary Tyler Moore, with that quiver in her voice when she got stressed) and I felt like I couldn’t ask for too much or complain or make things harder for her. My siblings were less sensitive to what was going on with her and gave her more worries and things to afford. I didn’t really resent or have conflict with them about this, Moon in Libra style, I just wanted everyone to be happy and not upset with each other. I did have big dreams and wishes and found them entertaining enough to keep me pretty much content. I can now see how directly all that relates to my self-expression problem. Funny, I always thought it was Saturn opposing Mercury causing the block, not Pluto square Mercury.

    What an inspiration and wise soul you are! Blessings!

    • Oh, well, it sounds like you must have a t-square of Mercury-Pluto-Saturn, so it’s quite complex. Understand, though both Saturn and Pluto deepen the range of Mercury, not lightweight writing, for sure. If you can take a writing class, even online, it motivates you to keep writing. Donna

      n 9/7/2012 10:45 PM,

  32. I have a friend with natal Mercury in Leo conjunct Pluto. (I don’t know the exact degree. She was born in 1952 so I would say a later degree of Leo)With her Taurus Rising- am not sure the degree, she could very well have this conjunction in her 3rd house.
    She has always been very “private” ( I just told myself that was her way). She is a good actress, (Leo)……and able to focus (Pluto) on the scripts involved with the plays she did.
    Over the last 3-4 years, with the stress of her husband’s serious health issues and confinement to a nursing home, she has become convinced she is the center of a reality show without her consent. That people are stealing her writings and the really upsetting thing for her is that she is not being paid for this “work” as an actress.
    She is highly suspicious of all in her neighborhood and all her friends. (3rd house)
    I have tried everything I know to assist (certainly recommending therapy), offering astrology books, talking with her sister, sister in law, and father and just flat out telling her I didn’t believe this assumption of hers. She has phoned me dozens of times asking for assistance finding “the people” who are filming her.
    She is accusatory and all of this feels very manipulative of my time and energy and our friendship. It is very unsettling for me to be around her. I believe in helping one’s friends yet I have feelings too and it doesn’t feel good to be the brunt of her accusations.
    I am very aware of the need to set my boundaries with her. Yet she has been my friend and given her state of mind it feels somewhat cold to set these boundaries. Yet necessary.

    Sometimes I feel that she is just making all this up. It feels SO manipulative.

    I believe that part of this “crisis” is that she has violated her own code of ethics. That she was not honest about her financial status in order to get her husband the care he needs without having to pay for it herself.
    And so she externalizes the inner critic as these “people” filming her. As she is the one always watching herself, hyper-vigilant lest anyone ‘find out’.

    I am not a therapist but I have thought long about her problems and her state of mind and believe that her Mercury/Pluto conjunction has something to do with her obsession and this (probable) lie. And that coming clean with her integrity is the key.

    She is now hospitalized for the last week…and in conversations with her sister-in-law I understand she is on medication
    My concern for her health is this :
    How does person ever “recover” if they can’t see themselves as somehow in the driver’s seat of their life even when life is hard (either because of hard natal aspects or life circumstances) ?
    How do they recover, when given the medical model of drugs to combat neurosis, they have to essentially disown this “crazy” part of themselves in order to be considered “normal” ?
    What is the “story” they tell themselves of their life now? Does this medical model create sicker people because they have to split a part of ” themselves” away in order to become “normal” ?
    Given the naturally secretive nature of Pluto/Mercury, doesn’t this “part” that has to be disowned just go deeper underground?
    I wish the discussion of astrology would permeate the medical community.

    Astrology has been a huge part of coming to understand the dynamics that make up me and my life. I pray others will come to embrace their own uniqueness as well through understanding their own chart.

  33. Pluto (1st H) conjunct Mercury(2nd H) in Cancer. A major lesson in this life has been generosity despite financial insecurity (tho money has always been plentiful). Lesson apparently learned thru meditation, as funding has become a major life focus. South node also in the 2nd.

    • It’s a tough one for sure, Lynne. There is a whole series on this blog about the 2nd and 8th houses, including more about Pluto in the 2nd/8th axis. Even though your Pluto is in the first, it must be on the cusp of the 2nd and pulled in by the conjunction to Mercury, so it acts on the 2nd as well. Donna Cunningham

  34. Greetings all! I have an “unaspected” Mercury in Leo 3rd House. Pluto and Jupiter are ALSO 3rd House residents (although Jupiter is in very early degree Virgo!). I had always wondered how it is that for someone with an unaspected Mercury, much of my life has been taken up with learning/education/teaching etc? (I am a Nurse, not a Teacher)

    Some years ago, I came across “Midpoint Astrology” (Ebertin) and discovered that my natal Mercury is the midpoint between 2nd House Sun in Leo and 3rd House Pluto in Leo. Additionally, Mercury is also the midpoint between 2nd House Uranus in Leo and 3rd House Jupiter in Virgo. To emphasise the importance of my 3rd House, its (cusp) ruler is Leo

    I very much relate to “the almost compulsive need to learn” and have attended 2 Universities on different sides of the world. Now, in my mid-50’s, I am once again at University studying yet another topic of interest (compulsion?). This August, I am taking 3 months off work so I can go and immerse myself in the Italian language and culture. According to Ebertin, I have “a fortunate turn of mind, ready witted and with ample knowledge” What he doesn’t say is the somewhat tormenting condition of obsessive curiosity and the tendency to not be satisfied with anything less than perfection (Jupiter in Virgo, methinks!?)

    My Pluto in 3rd also signifies the intense sibling rivalry I had with 2 older siblings in childhood, which wrecked any chance of functional relationships in adulthood. So, whilst a Plutonian 3rd confers a mind that wants to “get to the bottom of things” it also tends to do this as a sacrifice to other critical areas of living…romance, relaxation etc.

    Thank You for the opportunity to join in the discussion. I hope your stars shine bright! Cheers! Ben.

    • Thanks so much for adding to our understanding of this combination, Ben. That was very clear and informative. Donna

  35. I have a 3rd house pluto close to my IC with virgo on the cusp square mercury and it’s damn hard! It gives me the loneliest feeling of seeing things and knowing things nobody else sees or want to see.

    • I so understand what you’re saying–absolutely typical of a Mercury-Pluto aspect. Donna

  36. Thank you Donna. I have pluto in the 3rd house of Virgo sextile my mercury in the 12th house conjunct my sun in Cancer. I can totally relate to the pluto in the 3rd. My mom left us when I was 7 and I have had very little contact with her since. My brothers rarely speak to each other and one of them is an alcoholic while the other one is bi polar. I have a half brother who just died in a fire that I never met and the story goes on.

  37. Mercury in Aquarius 9th house square Pluto in Scorpio 6th house. Mercury also conjuncts my Mars-Saturn-MC stellium in Pisces. Pluto squares the stellium and trines my Sun and Venus.

    I have always been quite insecure in communicating with other people. I don’t like small talk very much, and I can talk nonstop about politics or philosophy but I never really reveal much about my personal life. I have found I have good insights and what I say is almost always true but it is often overshadowed by the aggressive. Others would probably say my opinions are extreme and detached. But I would say they are passionate and objective.

    My advice with handling any Mercury-Pluto combination would be not suppressing the energy like so many try but learning to use your powerful use of language constructively as well as finding a healthy outlet for our obsessive and investigative minds. Don’t be afraid to speak up and voice your opinions even though you know its not what others want to hear. If I don’t voice my opinions and feelings right away I feel a burning sensation in my stomach and I feel like I let myself down.

    • Thanks, Ron, I feel you’re onto some good insights into how to handle this aspect’s energies. I relate to much of what you’re saying in your interpretation, and I “only” have the semisquare. Donna Cunningham

  38. Mercury in 2nd square Pluto in 5th, 0 degree orb. I can relate to your article. Well written I might add. Actually, I feel as though I’m a strong writer without any blockage while being very focused and concise. Verbally, it is another story. I prefer to remain silent most of the time outside of close friends. And I don’t necessarily fear talking. I know I could make quite the impact but I worry about criticism when it comes down to it I guess. And like the previous post, I could care less about small talk. Although, I could go on forever on subjects such as philosophy, politics, and the universe. I’m a foe of organized religion and dogma. I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself a pessimist but a realist totally. Also, I’m extremely liberal and anti-authoritarian. This could be a result from the exact orb of my natal Moon, Uranus conjunction in 6th though. I’m in my 30’s now and I’ve learned to bring inner peace of mind through meditation in nature. I can attain a nearly pure transcendence, a perfect stillness of mind. I’m sure my natal, exact orb of Sun, Saturn conjunction in 3rd helps me control my mind and emotions. Anyway, meditation is a key factor that can help people overcome the stress this Mercury, Pluto relationship brings. That and a balanced verbal expression which can be harder said than done. Don’t worry so much about criticism and what others are thinking. I’ve studied astrology for over 15 years. And even though my reason tells me not to take it too seriously, my intuition tells me it’s true. Peace

    • Very strong in Mercury-Pluto characteristics, Jeff. I have the semisquare, and I taught myself how to do small talk, but tire of it quickly. Donna

  39. Wow I did find this quite correct for me as far as Pluto in the 3rd house. In my 3rd house, I have Pluto in Virgo 5 degrees sextile mercury in Cancer in the 12th house. I did have a have a half brother that I never met who recently burned up in a house fire. My mother did foster me out to many relatives until the age of almost 8. After that, I went to live with my father and 3 brothers that I didn’t know. I have only seen my mother a handful of times since and I am now 53 years old. After my father’s passing 25 years ago, my brothers rarely speak to each other. I don’t really know why. We seemed to all be close when my dad was a live but that all changed. Thank you, Donna for the insight.

  40. Hi! I have a Mercury (Cancer) square Pluto (Libra) “blessing” and can strongly relate to many things mentioned in your article, Donna, and in the life stories above.

    It feels as if you have worlds to share but somehow are unable to. What is funny about it is that at first when I only started discovering my peculiarities (with the help of astrology) I was utterly and sincerely amazed at what people usually talk about and of course I was forever a misfit in friends´ chats!!! I even thought that I had a kind of disabilty which, paired with my Venus square Saturn social awkwardness, made me suffer a lot (emotionality of a cancer mercury with plutonian paranoia and obsessiveness… ). The worst part is that I have this anger attacks and tantrums right after I wake up!

    Now I am fully aware of that and looking for some ways of channeling this, but it is not easy at all.

    Thanks a lot for your insights and sharing your experiences, I have learnt a lot from them!!!

    • I can really relate to your description, Anna. Mine is a Mercury-Pluto semisquare (45 degree angle), and its hard for me to talk to everyday people because I want to go deeper. Because I see beneath the surface, I often feel people aren’t telling the truth, when really they mostly are unconscious of their own motives. The upside of the combination is an ability to see beneath the surface and to heal with your words. A depth of mind. Donna

  41. Hi Donna, I have Pluto in my 3rd house, conjunct Mercury, conjunct Uranus out of 2nd house for a Virgo stellium, all opposed my 9th house Pisces Moon. Pluto opposed Moon is my tightest orb, zero degrees.

    I post online and get the nastiest replies from people who don’t agree with me. I attract alot of biting speech from others and I lose many of my family members on facebook who don’t care what I have to say. That being said, I post the sweetest, most caring and enlightening things in an effort to be positive and for my own self to learn and grow. I am a reclusive loner who prefers one on one time with those I am closest to. My own son who is 19 and a very successful college honor student has become very hostile with me now that he is independent. This is my toughest life lesson but all I can do is love him and have gratitude for being his mother and for my immense pride in all his wonderful accomplishments. ( He has a grand cross, Pluto and Jupiter in his midhaven, Saturn opposed Mars and Uranus conjunct his ascendant!)

    • Hi, Sherry, you have a lot of famous companions born in the 1960s with Virgo stelliums, and the most iconic have triple conjunctions that include Pluto, Uranus, and one of the inner planets. With Mercury in the trio, your words could have a great deal of healing power. There are just a lot of folks out there that can’t handle the truth, so it angers them when someone as insightful as yourself speaks up.

      As for insight into the family problems, I’d suggest you send that part of your comment to Eileen McCabe, the advice columnist at Dell Horoscope, as she’s very good with insights on that type of problem. See the front page of Skywriter, under the tab “Free Advice.” She’s also available for personal consultations. Donna

  42. Hi Donna,

    Would you consider Mercury parallel Pluto by declination as No.1 as well in your Mercury-Pluto aspect ranking since it is interpretated as a conjunction, therefore a hard aspect?

    • Not really. Parallels are said to create a connection similar to a conjunction, but their effect is much less compelling. Conjunctions are very powerful because the two planet are merged and cannot act independently of one another. However, when two planets are conjunct AND parallel, that’s quite a powerful situation. Currently, Jupiter and Venus are moving toward a conjunction like that, and if you watch them in the west near sunset, you’ll gradually see them move close together as one merged ball of light. Donna

  43. I have your book “Healing Pluto Problems) and it is really informative. Love it. My Pluto is at 3 degrees in Leo/7th house. Ascendant is 20 deg. Capricorn with Venus/Mercury intercepted in Aquarius. I got to know myself a lot better.

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