Oakland’s Heart Of Darkness, Journeying Through Pluto In Scorpio, Navigating The Underworld

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Robert Phoenix

Robert Phoenix

journalist, blogger, interviewer, astrologer & psychic medium

OWS gets heavy under Oakland’s Scorpio Moon.

I spent nearly half of the ninties living in Oakland. It’s where I did the final days of time with Pluto in Scorpio emerging from my 12th House, onto my ascendant. They were dark days, but not without the promise and allure of secrets only derived from a romp through the underworld.

With all the Libra in my chart, I had been steadfastly relationship based. I rarely experienced sex without the formality of commitment. During those last years of Pluto in Scorpio, that would change. I decided to give myself over to the energies of Pluto in Scorp. I could write a steamy tell all book alone about these years.

From 1992 to 1997, I managed an apartment building on the cusp of East Oakland. My first day there, my muddied baptism in that place, was the day of the Rodney King riots. I had no idea what to expect. I was no stranger to the Black American experience. On the contrary. I had grown up in the racially diverse watershed that is East San Jose. I would get high and play hoops with my friends from our version of “The Hood.” On Sundays, I would trip across the street and race AFX cars with the Hairston kids, where I heard the first outrageous strains of P-Funk. In a touching yet odd holiday ritual, we would swap pumpkin bread for soul food. I got my first taste of collard greens, chitterlings and sweet potato pie from their lovely matriarch. You get the picture. But living in the nape of the hood and managing living spaces while Pluto, the Lord of The Underworld, in its own sign, in the darkest part of my chart, was a very different trip.

Oakland was the backdrop to it all. When I got there, I thought it held so much promise as San Francisco’s lesser sister, the Cinderella ash collector still looking for its magic slipper. Its a fitting metaphor since Oakland maintained its true working class status with one of the busiest ports on the West Coast, while San Francisco made a clear decision to gut its fishing and canning industry along the wharf and sundry piers to become a tourist haven. Oakland kept it real.

Often though, my zeal for the poor sister was dashed by the clarity of my experience. I learned to wait at nearly every green light after watching hoopties blast through clear stops, time and again. I even witnessed drivers that didn’t have the experience or presence of mind that I did, rush into the green, only to be t-boned by a heap of Detroit steel doing fifty through a dead red.

I was idealistic. I thought if I could spruce up the building, people would take greater pride in it. I remember putting a picture up in the laundry room to give it some warmth, only to have it stolen in a few days. I put a good sized Ficus in the lobby, with a big, heaping pot that one person would have difficulty moving, let alone taking. Within a week, it was gone. It was kind of indicative of my feelings about Oakland. Every time I invested any promise in it, it would let me down and yet I loved so many things about it. Even my tenants would reflect this.

I would have AFDC Moms come in and rent from me. If you don’t know what AFDC means, its “Aid to Families With Dependent Children.” In landlord speak, it generally means “guaranteed rent.” So I would get AFDC moms, which I would break down into two camps; “users” and “abusers.” The users, I had zero problem with. They were using the system to get a leg up and move on. AFDC stipulates that you cannot work while receiving assistance. I had moms that double dipped and went to school as well. I had ZERO issues with that. They usually upgraded their living situation after a few months. The abusers were cliches, having multiple children with different baby daddies. They were the poster children of scorn for the likes of Limbaugh, living stereotypes and reminders of smug “told you so” attitudes. Conformity to tragedy is really more like it.

As the days went by, I descended deeper and deeper into Pluto in Scorpio’s unrelenting siege on my soul in Oakland’s heart of darkness.

I wound up buying my own hooptie; a 1970 Pontiac Bonneville with a back seat big enough to get busy anywhere. It had a seizure on the way to Burning Man, coughing up oil in the desert, then died shortly thereafter. I went to jail on two separate occasions, one time winding up in the bowels of Oakland’s jail, a primitive holding pen where men are treated like animals in cages with open urinals and toilets. I heard tales of gang warfare at places like Chino and Folsom. It was eye opening and yet, I never felt threatened by anyone in there. Conversely, I was at a restaurant in North Beach just a few nights later where a bloody fight broke out amongst a group of drunken and arrogant WASP youth. I couldn’t wait to get out of either place though.

Oakland was where I took Ibogaine and contacted the soul of Africa. Its where I bonded with a tenant who sold exquisite mud cloth attire. She had given me this great vest which I proudly wore over a black turtleneck to a tux party in SF. It was where started to deepen my psychic gifts. My tenants used to come to me for readings. My downstairs neighbor from Senegal was trying hard to get U.S. citizenship and would ask me if I could read for him. I would and the information was always positive and not surprisingly, accurate. Then he brought his best friend, and then his daughter. I was always repaid with a plate of peanut curry sauce chicken over rice and strong black tea with mint. I felt like the luckiest man in the world receiving such delicious and heartfelt compensation.

While I was descending down into the pits of the system, Oakland was also the place where I was ascending, leaving my body, astral traveling through my fourth-story-perch up into the dark night skies. Its where I practiced practical magic with mind blowing results.


It all started with a problem tenant, well actually the tenant wasn’t the problem. She was cool. It was her ice smoking boyfriend that didn’t officially live there that was the problem.

Sidney talked a good game and was probably one of those kids with a mile wide smile that would charm the hardest of hearts when he was young. As an adult, he was lost in the netherworld between adolescence and manhood, now on tap for a baby boy. He was stuck in reverse and causing all kinds of problems around the building, wreaking meth fueled havoc.

Evicting people is not easy in the Bay Area, but we had to get him out, so I decided to dial up a scenario. It went like this; I visualized a small fire in his kitchen, where no one would get hurt, but they would have to move out as a result. In less than a week it happened. A few days later, we were serving Sidney with papers. It was not a pretty sight.

About a week later, there was another incident. A woman named ironically named “Hope” was living on the first floor. As the days progressed, I watched Hope go from vibrant and sassy to downright mean, staring at me through raccoon eyes, darkened and streaked by late nights and crack. Her sister pulled her fat sedan in the back to park one day. This was a no-no. Tenants only. So I walked up to Hope’s apartment and asked her sister to move her car. Of course, she didn’t. As I walked past it, I wondered if I should slash her tire to show her a lesson (Remember, I’m dealing with Scorpio here). I did not. However, the next day, when I walked past the car, I noticed that someone else had. Hope’s sister never parked her car in the back again.

In every magician’s life there is a great working. Sometimes like Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard, it’s intentional, others, like mine, it happens in the miracle of the void.

A week or so after the tire slashing I had yet another problem tenant to deal with. She lived below me. It was about 9pm on a weeknight and was carrying on and partying. Loud. It bugged me. So I went downstairs to ask her to keep it quiet. We were evicting her, so getting her to pot the volume down was not going to happen. I thought about what I could do. I thought about going into the basement and cutting her power. No. That could be dangerous. I could have a riot on my doorstep. Then I thought about cutting everyone’s power, not just in the building, but the neighborhood. That would do it!

Within ten minutes, it was done. Lights out. Not just in my hood though, but throughout the West Coast. I dialed into Art Bell on my battery powered radio and everyone was calling in about it. From Bellingham to San Diego and as far east as St. Louis there had been a massive power surge and blackout. During the news break, ABC news reported on it and said tha.t “the source of the blackout was, Oakland, California.” Well of course I had to call into Bell’s show to tell him my story and lo and behold, I got through. In his typical Art Bell, more than slightly jaded way, he listened and said, “Well there you go ladies and gentleman, you can blame it on the man in Oakland.”

The next day, it was reported that the source of it all was in the Central Valley, but for a few, very surreal hours, the Universe conspired to show me the power of intention and will, particularly if no one was harmed. I would be given a very different lesson around this just days later.

Another problem tenant had let her serial criminal brother stay with her. I didn’t like him. One day, while I was gone, his “wife” was there and they got into a fight. He beat her. In fact, he beat her so bad that afraid for her life, she jumped out the fourth-story-window, a good thirty feet below onto asphalt.

A few days later, I saw her lying on their furniture-less floor, wrapped in a blanket. She had suffered some sort of brain damage in the fall and was reduced to being a child, having all her needs attended to. Her bad dude “husband” was there. I was pissed. I decided to use my new found powers on him and visualized him falling out that window. It boomeranged badly on me.

I had a great dog named “Cosmo.” He always stayed home while I went off to work. Not long after the falling body incident, it was a hot day so I left my window open, four stories up and drove off to work. I came home that night to the news that my dog had fallen out my window and down onto the concrete below while I was gone. Miraculously, he had only suffered a small break in a bone near his hind quarters. But the message was loud and clear to me; “No Harm Shall Be Wished Upon Another!”

All of those other incidents involved external elements, like the weather magic that John Dee was purported to work against the Spanish Armada, time and again when they attacked England. It was in Oakland where I touched the heat of this dark and powerful flame.


Now in Oakland, the Occupy Movement takes its first casualty. Unlike Zuccotti Square, where the protesters are buttressed by the unions and protected by Bloomberg, Oakland mayor Jean Quan didn’t get the memo. OPD took on the Occupy encampent with tear gas. Witnesses say they used flash grenades as well. Now she and Police Chief Harold Jordan are bending over backwards to accommodate Occupy Oakland. Jordan is going to meet face-to-face with the organizers of O.O.. This will piss off Middle America to no end. It will look like capitulation of the highest order. For the Occupy movement to be successful, it must engage the middle and invite it in. There must be a bridge built between the “we’re getting fucked and the game is rigged attitude” with the “government is fucking us and we want less of it” mindset, because therein lies the difference between the left and the right, OWS and The Tea Party.

For me, it goes back to the rift between the Spirit and the Will, Order and Chaos, Mu and Atlantis, Goddess and God. What we’re really trying to do is balance the bi-cameral nature of our collective soul and the false separation that’s haunted us since Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, while Lilith sadly looked down upon them from the deck of a gleaming space craft passing overhead.

Saturn in Libra is a dynamic expression of this in action. We’re trying to balance 40,000 years of injustice and illusion in just 30 months of hyper condensed Earth time. The urgency is set against the square of Uranus and Pluto. We’re witnessing a rupture in continuity. The challenge is what takes place beyond the din of the crowd. Always.

Here, the brutal death of Moamar Ghdaffi was celebrated in grotesque overtures of pornographic violence. Bloodlust is the new reality TV. How did we descend so low?

In Libya, citizens got free health care for life. If their condition couldn’t be treated at home, they could go abroad. They were given free education up through getting a doctorate, there or elsewhere. Lost in the chant of Gaddfi’s supposed savagery was the fact that women had it better in Libya than almost any other Muslim country. Now, they’ll be taking a little time travel trip back to the 15th Century. OWS helped drown out the death of a people, not just its leader.


Oakland was incorporated on May, 4 1852. It is heavily loaded with Taurus; Sun/Mercury/Saturn/Uranus/Pluto/Chiron all mostly conjunct. Throw in a Scorpio Moon and Jupiter in Scorpio, with Mars in Leo and what you have is one, big, nasty T-Square.

With Moon in Scorpio, Its home to “The Black Hole Of The Raiders.” The late, Al Davis moved the team out of Oakland and then moved them back, extorting millions out of the city to get the team to return, while ruining the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum by erecting Mt. Davis, a monolith of luxury suites for the Raiders, used a scant ten weekends per year, obliterating the pastoral view of the East Bay hills in the distance.

Jerry Brown was mayor of Oakland recently. The A’s were looking for a new home. They had settled on the downtown area, in a blighted corner just north of Jack London Square. They had plans and were ready to roll. Brown apportioned the land to one of his buddies for condos and killed the stadium deal while putting a gag order on it.

Oakland was the base of the Black Panthers. Its also home of the celebrated Billy Beane who has recently had his life played out by Brad Pitt in “Moneyball.” Beane was an average ex-ball player turned cost conscious general manager looking for a competitive edge. A Taurus, he has flourished in Taurus heavy Oakland–his star shining brightly. However, he had to deal with Oakland’s dark underbelly, its Scorpionic Moon as his A’s teams were populated with known steroid users such as Jose Canseco, Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, and Jason Giambi. Its like that in Oakland.

I’ll never forget my time there. I wouldn’t trade it for any experience. It was hard but I danced with the forces of sex, death and birth in an intimate embrace. One final tale of my time there sums it up.

One day, one of my tenants was pregnant and went running out into the hall, blood gushing from her uterine walls, soaking the carpets of the hallway, rushing to the hospital. While she was away, I cleaned the blood from her bathroom walls and floor, wondering about her child and his bloody baptism into this world. She had him and everything seemed fine. Then one night I came home and she greeted me at the door, telling me that her newborn son was having a hard time breathing. She asked me to take her to the hospital with him. About half way there, she said he wasn’t breathing. I tried to gauge what the hell was going on. I looked over at her and saw nothing but a blank face and for just a second I could see her leave her body, checkout completely, wordless.

I pulled over to a gas station, took the small child in my hands and started to move his little lungs like an accordion. He began to breath. I had the station attendant call an ambulance and within minutes they were both nestled in there, snugly and safely. Off they went.

It was like cosmic clockwork. Pluto moved out of Scorpio and into Sag, sliding into my first house. The building was sold and a new owner brought in their own manager. I was relieved of my Pluto in Scorpio duties and moved out shortly thereafter.

14 thoughts on “Oakland’s Heart Of Darkness, Journeying Through Pluto In Scorpio, Navigating The Underworld”

  1. A

    Jesus Christ Robert! What a intense recount of some 90’s dark, tragic stories you have held in. I know the old law “Do what ye will but never harm another” very well. The same energy that was there the very second to assist you was there to keep you in check and lack of trust in that Universal law ended tragically for you & your 4 legged friend.
    For me, it goes back to the rift between the Spirit and the Will, Order and Chaos, Mu and Atlantis, Goddess and God” . I see so many similarities in this incarnation and the U.S. now. I have relived soul memories since I was a child before I even knew what they were. The deep sadness of the inevitable loss of something so beautiful is paralyzing. Yet at the same time, I knew it then and I know it now. Only I hope my actions will be able to carry me through the chaos of the dark willful night of God….for he is only a dog that needs a leash…and perhaps some love.

  2. s

    Robert many of your blogs provoke tears to flow, but this one read like a timeless film ever pulling ones emotions out of the eyes at every turn.
    What comes to mind clearly for me is that you are definitely an angel of heaven and goodness, that journeyed onto this plane in 1960 to later have his 12th house activated by Scorpio at the time of his matured, young adulthood, and in Oakland of all places! As an astrophile, eh, astrologer, I am amazed at how each individual experiences only so many Pluto transits in their specific lifetimes– and where, which houses, those transits take place. In this lifetime, i will not see Pluto transverse my 1st, as it started out in my 4th… though my Pisces mind can speculate what you must have experienced and knowing about Pluto, and Scorpio, as well as the underworld alone of Pisces influenced 12th house matters.. my mind is blown just imagining.

    I didn’t believe in karma or human evolutionary cycles until it hit me in my 30s that i never had to live as a tennant.. nor a penthouse mind you.. though somewhere very blessed inbetween, and i often wondered how this happens.. it certainly cannot be just luck of the draw. What sealed my belief in karmic cycles was the simply fact of just feeling the very different, low, dark, dense, almost suffocating enery when I’d venture into a market in the most unkempt part of any town, with my small spending power at the time being the only common denominator with the obviously suffering souls. Souls, that thru hard lessons in a given lifetime, can make it thru, to a better cycle to come. ~On a different note, if it wouldn’t set you back a cycle… like if you give some proceeds to an Oakland’s shelter, for instance, that “steamy tell all” book of yours would sell to high heaven!

  3. d

    that was the best history lesson I ever had…thanks. PLuto crossed my moon mars conjunction in Scorpio in the later 80’s – what a time to have been pulled into the underworld – I am inspired to write it after reading here….. And on cursing – as opposed to mind-power – way too scary a deadly mind in anger that too often has an indirect target. I am unable to do that anymore – but John Dee and the Armada weather and my friend in Bath who plays with the Sylphs to keep chemtrails from the sky, these are good teachers – like you.

  4. K

    I remember you sharing that epic story of the 90`s on your radio show, way back. I loved it then and I love it now.

    How was the transition of 12th house Pluto to the first house? Easier, worse, or just different? I can imagine that a transiting Pluto in the first house could be really intense.

    …Not that it really matters because I am stuck with Pluto transiting my 12th house for over another fucking decade. At it`s current 5 degrees in Cap, it sextiles my Mars and Jupiter in Scorpio. Not sure what this means, but I find myself becoming a little ruthless. I keep telling myself “First do no harm”. But I find myself crossing ethical boundaries with people that have wronged me. Part of me feels justified, and another kind of looks away.

    I am also finding myself no longer believing in karma, replacing it instead with the law of cause and effect. One thing leads to another and another…ect. You can always trace back an effect to its source, and that is empowering (rather than leaving it to a nebulous karma). What concerns me though, is that with Karma, one can leave “payback” to the universe, while the law of cause and effect demands a more immediate and clear kind of justice. As you know, I have been deeply betrayed by the two people closest to me and I have lost a huge part of myself. There is a void in me and since vacuums must be filled, I am afraid of what will become of me. I feel like I am becoming the embodiment of the Three Furies (anger, vengeance, jealousy). As much as it scares me, I feel like I have to go down that road for a while. I want to hear nothing of forgiveness or compassion. Perhaps my moral compass has lost true North, which is fine because I have no direction anyway. The question is, would that make this scorned woman more, or less dangerous?

  5. D

    Strikes me that Oak Land has some ritual druidic connection and Taurus conjures up a woody earthy feel. Oh, living with others on a small planet (Liz Greene) is one thing; living with others in a cramped run down apartment block is a whole other level (basement, where Pluto resides).

    When Pluto opposed my 4th house, I was a whisker away from being made homeless (Cancer was in Saturn at the time; traditional 4th house) and a kind of intention ‘miracle’ saved the day. But first, I had to be brought to the edge, the ultimate limit of my available means to save myself; all other possibilities had been exhausted. Within 12 hours of setting the intention and taking an action which led to another set of circumstance, I had the means to stop the eviction order just 48 hours away from being issued.

    When Pluto moved out of Sagg and the new/full moon/solar eclipses happened earlier this year, 10 years of tenants from hell ended with the sudden departure of the monster above. Prior to this, Pluto had delivered some mean below the belt punches to 4 personal planets and the best I can say about this traumatic year experience is that I retained sanity and accomplished my task regardless of failures.

    There were two impossible tenants in a row: one Taurus, one Capricorn; both black, female with ‘mental health issues’ as they say. Pluto opposes my Asc and this seems to have both attracted and repelled literally dark people to and from my life. I understand the idealistic nature of my programming as playing a major part in this dynamic. A dynamic which I had to explore in order to let go. Every gesture at ‘community’ and co-operation was wasted if not mocked; there was evidently a foggy mist within my reality bubble.

    Such experiences exemplify the chasm between what was (as in inherent to mankind – community) and what is (programmed slavery – isolation) which is so painful to witness and endure. Hence, I love mankind unconditionally en masse, as a concept, as a brilliant idea with amazing potential but up close and personal, they often invite my disgust and despair whilst ever conscious of the parallel lines of my life when I too lacked understanding.

    Pluto and Saturn have been instrumental in getting me to fully experience and acknowledge what it is like to be so very angry that you hate and know what hatred is as it plays out on your screen. All the better to navigate those treacherous waters where such lessons are learned with respect to the depth and breadth of experiences that one simple and single idea/ideology can lead. I’d forgotten how to hate – how to tap into that very powerful sense of justice that when defiled just has to be defended. I felt it as a child when witnessing violence. Hate gets a bad rap. There are things worthy of hatred. Nothing’s worthy of jealousy! The injustices of statute laws translate into the moral anarchy leaving ‘victims’ of the strong, like Katrina (like myself, like yourself). If we lived under the one and only law, the common law (or ‘god’s’ law) then the anger, hatred, resentment, jealousy would not have fuel to flourish. Justice would be done and be seen to be done. First, do no harm is basically, the whole of the law. Crowley corrupted this into do as thou wilt and this is precisely what we have to contend with: psychopaths doing what they will; without the safety breaks of ‘if it does no harm, do as thou wilt’. Thus we have the psycopathic’s paradise at the expense of the true and brave and strong. It’s infuriating. It bloody well should be! The fury sword is best applied in slicing through deception; both one’s own and others.

    On reflection, I feel despite all, that I was fully protected. With Pluto transits deception will be revealed so integrity and willstayingpower is tested. If this had not been the case, I would not be sitting here writing about it and there are far worse things than death and if anything can lead us to this discovery, it is surely Pluto. I saw and interacted with stroke and vaccine victims, paralysed, speechless, lock in and at the mercy of some dark angels. All victims of the ‘health industry’ within which they had become prisoners for profits. I was also privvy to the darker workings of family dynamics within a cultural collision of which I was only hitherto dimly aware.

    I too, am in a void left by 10 years of domestic hell culminating in a complete termination of causative factors. All that heartache and energy, the fighting, striving, compromising, for nothing. Well, for peace, calm, the void. Yes. For nothing. Talking Heads said that heaven is a place where nothing ever happens and maybe they’re on to something there ….

  6. S

    Breathtaking Mr Brad Pitt. He finally fell for the appeal of Social Media. No, he’s not on Twitter. Or is he on Facebook. His initial venture on the web is on Google +. Also, Brad Pitt has an unrestrainable laughing attack on the set of Moneyball. At least, he won’t be fighting against himself in the best picture competition. Maybe you’ve seen Oscar nominated Moneyball? The story plot of Oakland A’s gm Billy Beane’s prosperous attempt to put together a baseball team on a budget by utilizing computer-generated evaluation to draft his players, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, directed by Bennett Miller.

  7. D

    I was born with Pluto in the 12th House, in an island paradise portrayed in the US media as a third world hellhole. When Pluto crossed over into my first house, I was sent for…brought to New York City at the height of the crack era. This was the 80s, when the proper name for Vietnam Vets was “bum”. They used to be lined up on Parsons Blvd… missing limbs, stinking, crazy, with pus filled sores and drained IV bags with blood in the bottom hanging on poles they dragged with them. Some of them had blood on their hospital gowns and green and yellow stuff on their bandages. They stunk.
    I cried a lot those years. A lot.
    Thanks for this awesome piece. It was cathartic.

  8. D

    Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or guest authoring
    on other sites? I have a blog based upon on the same topics you discuss and
    would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my readers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free
    to shoot me an e mail.

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