The journey that Cheryl Strayed describes so evocatively in Wild – made into a Reese Witherspoon movie was a Pluto conjunct Neptune transit. I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed last year and adored it. I just thought of it again now, learning about the Nick Hornby adaptation. It’s been called a grungier version of Eat, Pray Love but it’s way more than that. In her mid-20s, Strayed (she changed her name after a first divorce) was crashing hard via grief, an abusive background, drugs, and another messy divorce. Instinctively, with no prior hiking experience and clearly in an intense transit (more on this soon), she heads off to hike the officially challenging nearly 5000 kilometers long Pacific Crest Trail in California. It takes three months, is an epic journey and ends up being a brilliant book.
She Did The Life-Altering Impulse 5000 Km Trek During Her Pluto Conjunct Neptune Transit
At one point in her trip, her toenails ripped off and facing a particularly hideous climb; she recalls an earlier encounter with an astrologer. It’s an interesting anecdote and worth reading beyond what I’ve extracted here.
“…I thought of the woman I always thought of in such moments: an astrologer who’d read my natal chart when i was 23. A friend had arranged for the reading as a going away gift just before I left Minnesota for New York city. The astrologer was a no-nonsense middle aged woman named Pat who sat me down at her kitchen table with a piece of paper covered in mysterious markings and a quietly whirring tape recorder between us.
I didn’t put much faith in it. I thought it would be a bit of fun, an ego-boosting session dureing which she’d say generic things like You have a kind heart. But she didn’t. Or rather, she said those things, but she also said bizarrely specific things that were so accurate and particular, so simultaneously consoling and upsetting that it was all i could do not to bawl in recognition and grief.
A Virgo, with a Moon in Leo and Gemini Rising
“How can you know this,?” I kept demanding. And then I would listen as she explained about the planets, the sun and the moon, the ‘aspects’ and the moment i was born. about what it meant to be a Virgo, with a Moon in Leo and Gemini Rising. I’d nod while thinking this is a bunch of crazy New age anti intellectual bullshit. And then she’d say another thing that would blow my brain into about seven thousand pieces because it was so true.”
Cheryl Strayed is a Virgo but more to the point her Sun is bang-on Pluto & Uranus. The Uranus-Pluto conjunction is the signature Outer Planet aspect for Generation X. When you have an inner point like the Sun (or Moon) conjunct these generational planets (they are so slow-moving that they define generations, more than individuals), you’re a lightning rod for your generation. Sun conjunct Pluto and Uranus is also a high-vibe genius, erratic Change Agent of a person.
The epic, life-altering hike that was to change everything took place over her Pluto conjunct Neptune transit – the classic quarter-life crisis or mid-20s transformation. Pluto crossing over your natal Neptune forces growth and rips off the veil of your delusions. It’s often more surreal and mythical in tone than the worldly Saturn Return a few years later. And, it is once in a lifetime. It’s psychologically defining. We step out of the person we thought we were – or tried to be for our tribe – and into a more authentic us. But it’s raw, libidinal and non-stop cathartic.
It’s A Plutonic Trip That Will Authenticate You, Ready Or Not
Doing a Wild type transformation is a fantastic way to align with the Change Gods. But even if you’re at home, in your natural environs, it’s a Plutonic trip that will authenticate you ready or not. You become aware of Shadow Selves within you. And, like any Pluto transit, if you’re not too busy resisting it, you gain tremendous life force and Phoenix power.
Astro-Fiends, Strayed also has her Mercury-Venus in the 5th House opposite Saturn. SO she has to write & tell these compelling stories and that Saturn sting cannot be separated from the process. It’s a brilliant book. As this article entertainingly relates, she has copped from flak from various reviewers for her searing honesty re drugs, sex & divorce. But how else to play Mercury-Saturn? That’s an aspect where you write your pain out, where it’s therapy. And – bonus points for extra Saturnine zeal – you could turn it into an amazing career + super-meaningful book.