Fathers and Daughters


heart in a jarTransiting Pluto is in my 4th house. It’s been there since 1996. Pluto crossed my IC, conjuncted Neptune, and continues to bulldoze through. Its passage will climax in an exact Mars-Pluto-Pluto T-square in 2015 before it heads into my 5th house. I’ll either experience a violent transformation, or become Super Woman- or both.

For the past two weeks I’ve been near tears almost every day. Relationships with my family are strained. “Nonexistent” might be a better word for it. Right now transiting Pluto at 5 Capricorn is square my 2nd house cusp at 5 Libra.

When Pluto entered my 4th house, the struggles were with my mother. I barely spoke to her for 2 years. When my brother nearly died in 2001, it became crystal clear that my family has issues with supporting each other. No one flew out to be with my mother as she sat by my brother’s side. There seemed to be a cloud of denial over the entire experience. Yet- I’m not sure it mattered that I was there.

As Pluto trudged through my 4th, I realized that my family wasn’t supporting me either. I felt lost and despondent. I remembered why, when I was younger, I had felt that I didn’t matter to anyone nearly as much as I hoped I did.

When Pluto landed on my natal Neptune I felt like the entire foundation of my personality melted away. I tried to reestablish a relationship with my grandparents. I made a point of visiting them. Eventually I felt taken for granted and like I was being a nuisance more than anything else.
plunging into water
At that same time, I wanted to get to know my dad better. I wanted to bring our relationship to a deeper level.

  • I have a natal Sagittarian 4th house with Neptune in Sag in the 4th.
  • My father is a Sagittarian Sun with Pisces rising.
  • My natal Neptune in the 4th house trines my Sun in the 8th house.
  • Chiron loosely conjuncts my Sun and forms a sesquiquadrate to Neptune.

I never had any ill feelings towards my dad though he was barely in my life. When we did spend time together, I loved it. I empathized with him, I felt sorry for him, and I had compassion and sympathy for him- but I had little for myself. I continuously gave myself the short end of the stick in our relationship- whatever little I got was enough.

The most continuous time we’ve ever spent together was *almost* two weeks. The norm was no more than two days in a row. I remember, when I was 9, that I only saw him three times that year- six days out of 365 days.

He came to visit me in April 2009. That was after five years of not seeing each other at all. We’ve had sporadic conversations since then.

Several times over the last ten years he’s asked me if I thought we were really related. At first I thought he was joking. I thought he was saying that I looked so different, that I had gotten older. After 34 years of knowing me, he doesn’t know me. I think I’m still in shock that he could say something like that. How can he not know? It reinforces for me that he doesn’t know me, that he hasn’t taken the time to get to know me, and that, maybe, he doesn’t want to. Maybe, he doesn’t want to know me as much as I want to know him.

Despite all of that I never considered myself to have grown up “without a father”- a dose of Sun trine Neptune self-delusion.

My birthday was April 8th and he didn’t call. For a week I carried around with me a deep internal sadness that I couldn’t pinpoint. It took snapping at my boyfriend for me to come clean about what was really bothering me.

I don’t know what it’s like for all women who grow up without a father. In my case, I internalized a father figure. I became my own authority. I hardened. I formed a persona that was impenetrable and would protect me. I have no male authority figures in my life. No man, who isn’t my boyfriend, who I can go to for advice or to talk, for assurance, or for a swift kick in the pants.

I wonder how long I will allow myself to accept crumbs of affection as love. Ultimately I will have to accept the limits of his love. I will learn how to fill the hole in my heart with something substantial and real.

Jeremy, of Chirotic Journal, has mentioned several times that people with Chiron in Aries may feel insignificant. When my father expresses doubts about whether or not I am his, it makes me question the very core of my existence. Why am I even here? What is my point? I’ve resolved most of those feelings.

Sometimes I do what my father does: I don’t call people for months- and I tell myself that it’s acceptable behavior. Not calling family or friends for months at a time is not acceptable behavior. People need to know that I love them, they need to hear it- I can’t just assume that they know.

Feist- The Limit to Your Love

(Not a fan of the video, but the song is great)

For those interested, I’ve been using the flower essence Yerba Santa for the past few months to help release grief from my heart.

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  • Alysonfparker


  • Scott

    In life we all encounter suffering. I also come from quite a dysfunctional family. The only thing that pulled me out of the constant suffering was my involvement in Advaita or Non-duality as it is also called. I was rather lucky and had some really good teachers. What you find out is who you really are, your true identity. Who you are is not mystical or mysterious or strange. Who you are is always at peace and perfectly still in all circumstances. Suffering is probably the best motivator for seeking your true nature, and if you are serious and find this out, you’ll receive a gift that exceeds all the riches on the earth, the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” Good luck.

    • Who you are is not mystical or mysterious or strange.
      I couldn’t agree more.

      Suffering is probably the best motivator for seeking your true nature
      To some extent, but I find suffering works best when followed by an unexpected and truly joyful experience- it goes so much deeper because of that previous pain.

      I’m not familiar with Advaita. I’m glad you found a practice that works for you. Thank you for reading Scott.

  • This is my 3rd time reading this and I’m still at a lost for words because this hits very close to home and coming to terms with what Pluto has been dredging up has been very difficult. Our ascendants must be very close in degree because Pluto has been in my 4th since ’96 too. My Dad (Taurus Sun) passed away when Pluto crossed the IC by 1 degree. The feelings & emotions associated with you mentioned, like the power struggles with Mom, I hear ya Sis, loud and clear!! Things associated with family that I thought were so, I’m finding out were not. Instead of dealing with the feelings then, I stuffed them all down only to have it resurface now. So thanks for sharing the info on the flower essense and thanks for this post. I either got to you via this post from Donna Cunningham’s blog or Elsa’s blog but just now commenting on it.

    • I’m so sorry about your father Msfullroller.

      Either our ascendants are close, or our ICs are close (or both).

      I also realized how much I had stuffed my feelings down. I’ve changed so much during this transit. In many ways I feel lucky to have addressed all these latent family issues at an early age. There are so many people who don’t get around to it until much later.

      I’m glad you decided to comment.

  • Melissa731

    Michelle…hello….my name is Melissa….this resonates with me in such a manner…. I nearly fell out of my chair when I read the paragraph you wrote “….internalizing a father figure.” Having no male figure in my life to look up to…..I have learned to ‘adapt’. My father was absent growing up seeing him maybe 1 day a year when my mother needed a day to herself, she’d call him begging him to take me and my brother for a few hours. No, he didn’t comply every year. But when he did….guess where we’d go…..he’d take us to the bar. Anyway…once I was 16 and able able to drive…I reached out….I wanted a dad…I wanted to know him. That didn’t last too long.

    At the end of last year….I wrote a letter to my father….really telling him how his actions/inactions have affected me and my life and inadvertantly my daughter of whom he has met once. (She’s 11.) I never gave him the letter, nor did I plan on it. I wrote the letter because I am tired of feeling so shitty and not worth….something…….for him just being an inadequate human being. Like you….I have hardened myself….which for me, has protected me, and also sabotaged me. I currently have pluto transitting my 4th and I have vowed to not cry about what legacy he has left. He is dead to me. ….and viewing all of this from ‘the big picture’ perspective….it is actually a blessing that I was not forced to be in his life. Without getting too deep, for the very short while that I took the opportunity to get to know him….I found that his actions were dispicable…I yearned so deeply for a father, and what I found in reality is a monster. I too have sun trine neptune….illusions…..oy vey….queen bee….over here 🙂

    My daughter asks…..’why don’t I know your dad(?)’….how does a parent explain this…. She’s old enough now that she understands (kinda) that some people, even family, just arent nice people. I am a single parent (been single most of my life) my daughter’s father says to me on occassion when he’s upset at me…”Is this what you want, your daughter to grow up with out a father, like you did?” (Yea, he’s a ‘prize’ too.) As if….it was my choice…. I used to feel rage when he would say it…..and now….I have removed the trigger button. Born in 73, I am experienceing the saturn sq saturn, saturn oppose pluto, saturn sq pluto, …and uranus…yea he’s just making it all so exciting….lol. I am virgo rising so this is all 1,4,7,10 house stuff.

    This is my first time on your page….sorry if I jumped around a bit with my post.

    I’m excited to read more of what you have written 🙂

    • Wow…we have quite a few placements in common. I’m sorry to hear all that you’ve been through. I find it difficult to get truly angry with my father, but, I’m ready to stop missing him- I’m ready to give myself over to building relationships with people who actively want me around.

      Thank you for reading my blog 😀

  • gracehoper

    I’m another GenXer with Pluto in the early degrees of Libra (just shy of 2 Libra actually) for whom this manifests as a family drama– Libra is intercepted in my 4th house. Virgo is on the cusp of my 4th, with Pluto conjunct the IC, and transiting Saturn and Pluto doing their thing this last year on that spot.

    I too was raised without a father, but I had a lot of bitterness about it growing up. The amazing thing about these transits for me lately is that despite the squares, I have been connecting to cousins on Facebook and talking to family I never thought even considered me family before. The lesson I am learning right now is that if I want family *I* have to put down roots and reach out to others, I can no longer expect to be the child I used to be. I have to grow up, put down the roots, reach out to people, be a grownup, and create the family *I* want. And Transiting Pluto in trine with my natal Moon for months has given me that realization I think.

    I spent two weeks taking the free deal on Ancestry.com, exploring my roots, and it opened up so much to me that “my family” isn’t my stupid absent “dad” whom I’ve never met and obviously never wants to meet me, nor is my family my mother who committed suicide. My family is my aunt and my cousins and my friends who love me, a giant network of love, and the more energy I put into that network, the more energy I get back. Pluto and Saturn… whoda think I’d get so much out of their transiting square on my Pluto?!

    • The lesson I am learning right now is that if I want family *I* have to put down roots and reach out to others, I can no longer expect to be the child I used to be. I have to grow up, put down the roots, reach out to people, be a grownup, and create the family *I* want.
      That’s similar to the conclusion I’m coming to. I have to put in the work to create the type of family relationships I want. I can expect my parents, or anyone, to be able to read my mind and know what I need to feel nurtured.

  • Luana

    This is brave and I feel moved to comment. I am also involved in such a journey — pluto through the fourth house, during which time both parents have died, never having loved me enough. I never knew why, just figured I was terribly flawed (as children must always feel when love is absent). Not so. I have taken the opportunity to forgive them, to forgive myself for doubting my own value, and to learn to love, love, love myself. For this I am grateful for Pluto’s transit although it has been deep and utterly painful. I too have dreamed for years of sticky goo in my mouth, which I cannot spit out, as it seems attached. All the swallowed pain becomes a part of us. Forgiveness is extremely powerful and allows relief from all this, in time. I am in my 60’s now and finally free of the despair. It belonged to them, their parents & ancestors & became mine as well. My work with the Pluto 4th house transit has cleared it and I am grateful. It will pay off for you, too. Much love to you.

    • Thank you Luana. Forgiveness is powerful. I am getting closer to a place of wanting to forgive, but I have to understand what it is that I am forgiving first.

      Thank you for reading my blog 😀

  • My own Neptune contacts have frequently caused me to undervalue my own feelings, and to place undue importance on the feelings of others, especially my mother’s.
    I can relate. I think that recognizing how I put my mother’s feelings first was the initial phase of Pluto in the 4th. That was actually easier because I had a closer relationship with my mom- too close. I realized that I had allowed myself to merge with her to an unhealthy extent.

    I’m sorry about your mom LB. Pluto does wipe away any illusions that we have about what it means to be family. There’s a certain amount of freedom that comes from that though. Being able to recognize how I exist beyond my family ties has changed me.

    • LB

      Thanks Michelle. You’re right – there is freedom once we get past the illusions. Doing the work while you’re still young allows for greater autonomy in the years ahead.

      • Doing the work while you’re still young allows for greater autonomy in the years ahead.
        That’s the way that I look at it. I’ll be done working with family patterns by the time I’m approaching my Uranus opposition.

  • LB

    Oh Michelle, I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but I do appreciate your sharing. It can be tough to be so self-revealing, but also very healing; sometimes I think we waste energy by trying to hold back the flow, if you know what I mean.

    My Saturn in the 4th represents the exact midpoint between my Mercury (in the 2nd/3rd) and my 5th house Moon. In my case, Mercury is also conjunct my Jupiter and Neptune. And transiting Pluto has been in my 4th house for many years now, so I understand about the transformation that has to happen. I can only imagine what it must be like with Neptune placed there. My own Neptune contacts have frequently caused me to undervalue my own feelings, and to place undue importance on the feelings of others, especially my mother’s.

    I also always longed for a deeper connection with my family, but I have to tell you that it never really happened, and I’ve come to realize that it’s up to me to nurture and grow my own root system, separate from the rotting one my parents provided – not an easy task. Although I’d always accepted the limited nature of my relationship with my father, I desperately wanted to be recognized and valued by my mother; I really wanted her to “see” me. My mother is gone now, but when I look in the mirror, it’s her face that I see staring back at me – how messed up is that?

    Just the other day I was thinking how I’ve become a completely different person since Pluto began its transit through my 4th. I’ve had to toughen up and develop my character, as I took on huge responsibilities involving my family, and lost both parents (and much more) during Pluto’s transit. I managed my mother’s care during the last years of her life, and it was heartbreaking to see how family members who professed to love her, fell away as her disease (dementia) progressed. Eventually, my husband and I were the only ones left. The other day, I had a conversation with one of my mother’s brothers, and I tried to explain to him that I no longer have any illusions about what it means to be family. I still love them, but I don’t expect much from them. And while I’ve chosen to forgive, forgiving is not the same thing as trusting, or allowing them to disrespect me. My husband and I have created our own family; sometimes the people we choose are more like family than our blood relatives are.

    Hang in there. It’s a long, ongoing process and I wish you the best. It’s too bad your dad doesn’t know you as it’s obvious you have a lot to offer. 🙂

  • Christine

    Thanks for writing this, Michelle. I understand that this must have been difficult to write and to post. I appreciate this a lot, and it has shed some light onto my own situation. For one, I’ve started considering my own Neptune conjunct the IC and if I’ve misapprehended my relationship with my own father.

    Maybe it’s because I have Saturn in the fourth house natally, but through my own Pluto journey, I never feel as if I want to reconcile things with my family. And, maybe it’s by the influence of Neptune that I’d rather absolve or detach myself of all familial ties. The idea of being bound to my first family by a familial or societal expectation makes me sick. Michelle, this might be kind of personal, but let me ask anyway: Even after the emotional mess and heaviness, why would you prefer to heal relationships with your family? And when you say, “heal,” do you mean accepting whatever comes? Even if the end results are unfortunate?

    I noticed you wrote that you had to become your father, your own protector, your own nurturer. In my case — and this is something I think about a lot — I think I sought parental figures in my mind with the teachers of my school. Most of them are heavy of in Leo, and it doesn’t take much for me melt at a a slightly maternal or paternal thing someone does for me. It is important, though, as someone pointed out to me that we have to learn HOW to make up for the lack of nurturing we missed out on as children. It’s important to build ourselves, to become our mothers and fathers, and to nurture our own hurts and pains. I think we become better human beings this way and in your case, we learn the ability to extend that healing to other people.

    I’m sorry about what’s going on with your family. I’m sending lots of love and hugs your way. I don’t know if it’ll help, but I think it’ll help to recognize other peoples’ hang-ups and failings as their own — not as something that you were apart of. Does that make sense? I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you are, you shouldn’t blame yourself for the mistakes of others. <3

    • The idea of being bound to my first family by a familial or societal expectation makes me sick.
      Initially I went through a period of feeling sick to my stomach about having any contact with any of them at all. I had dream after dream of pulling black gunk out of my mouth and throat- like black mozzarella cheese. I really think I went through an inner spiritual deep cleansing. Much of that metaphorical shit was the actual shit of my life that I continued to swallow. It got to a point where I just couldn’t swallow situations or feelings anymore.- so they came out. It took years of emotional and physical distance before I could see my situation clearly.

      Even after the emotional mess and heaviness, why would you prefer to heal relationships with your family?
      I love my family. I don’t want to punish them for the past, just like I don’t want to punish myself for the past. But, I am unwilling to compromise my feelings. I’m not going to simply swallow my emotions for the sake of not upsetting anyone. I can’t allow myself to be OK with things that are not OK. Those are the challenges.

  • SaraVictoria

    Really appreciate this. Pluto just dancing around my natal 4th cusp, (w/other 2 biggies in Cardinal Cross tapping 1st & 7th house cusps.) The psycho-emotional archaeology you describe is something I can definitely relate to. Nice work, thanks.

    • It sounds like your relationships will be intensely charged in the coming years.

      It’s been hard for me. I’m hoping that the “transformation” promised by Pluto eventually leads back to deeply healed relationships with my family.

      I debated about publishing this post because it is so emotionally charged for me. It makes it feel worth while when someone else gets something out of it.

      Thank you for reading my blog SaraVictoria.