I came of age in the 1980s. During elementary school, the mnemonic device “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” helped me and my fellow students remember the name and order of the nine planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. That’s right, Pluto.
Pluto was always the smallest, the coldest, and, it seemed to me, the most forgotten.
The humiliation only increased a few years back when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decided to define just exactly what a “planet” was. After much hemming and hawing at the general assembly in Prague, a vote was taken (one that constituted only 4% of the IAU’s 10,000 members) and Pluto was downgraded to a “dwarf planet.”
What were the astrological implications? Presumably, none. Pluto still orbits the Sun outside of Neptune, and is a still a “generational planet” (or, I suppose, “generational Plutoid”), meaning that entire generations will share the same sign, influencing mark they leave on the world. It is a planet of intensity, and its placement in your birthchart shows the area of life where you’ll face the powers of transition, creation, and destruction.
The good news is, if you live in Illinois, Pluto is still a planet. The IAU has received a lot of complaints regarding the declassification of Pluto, most of them coming from North America. Earlier this year, the Illinois Senate, inspired by Clyde Tombaugh (who discovered Pluto in 1930 and is the only Illinoisan to ever discover a planet), passed a resolution demanding that it be restored to “full planetary status” as it passes through Illinois night skies.
Personally, I don’t think I need to move to Illinois to recognize Pluto as a Planet. I’m a grammar geek, and I’m left wondering just what mnemonic device students will now be taught? “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine?” Nine what? Just as you can’t have a sentence without an object, you can’t have astrology without Pluto.