The US Pluto return culminates this week. Some of you are familiar with the term “Saturn return” – an event which happens for everyone at age 28-30 and then again around 56-60 when Saturn returns to its position by degree in the natal chart. These are very Saturnian events – times when we need to face responsibilities and hard facts as we transition into the next phase of life.
The Pluto return occurs when Pluto returns to its position in the natal chart. Pluto takes 244 years to orbit the Sun so humans do not experience Pluto returns, but nations often do.
The Sagittarius ascendant in the US chart reflects the expansive tendency of the American empire which is probably the single thing that will be its undoing. Like other empires before it, the expansion of the national identity (Sagittarius ascendant) through ideas like “Manifest Destiny” which inspired pioneers to trek across the undeveloped terrain and do battle with the native peoples and Mexicans and Canadians who were already living on the land. . . .
Since Pluto entered the contracting sign of Capricorn, however, the cracks in the foundation have become more evident. Pluto deals with issues of compulsion and use and misuse of power, and in the US chart Pluto lives in the second house of money. With Pluto in the second house of money and finance, the American shadow is a dirty little secret – an obsession (Pluto) with the power that money can provide (second house). The persona of the country is the sunny Jupiterian/Sagittarian nature of optimism and faith that everything will turn out fine, but the Plutonian shadow of greed hides in the darkness.
Between 2014 and 2017, Pluto has been no more than two degrees from an exact opposition (stressful aspect) to the Sun in the US chart. (Geeky astrological detail: because Saturn squares the US Sun, Pluto is also transiting in square to US Saturn which applies even more pressure.) The candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump with his openly expressed xenophobia has opened the door to the dark Plutonic realms of the US dark secrets which are rooted in slavery and genocide.
This, my friends, is Pluto in action. Trump didn’t cause this to happen – together with Pluto, he opened the door to the circles of hell and the demons began to emerge from the underground of the US psyche. Pluto’s domain has to do with power, corruption, destruction and regeneration, we would expect that governments which do not have a strong foundation would experience some kind of collapse or major transformation during these times. (I did a study of Pluto returns in the Roman Empire which you can read here.)
The Pluto Return has been building for the past year, with transiting Pluto just a few degrees from US Pluto. The exact alignment occurs on February 22nd, but a Pluto transit tends to take a long time to build and the crescendo is slow and dramatic. The second phase occurs in August 2022 and the final exact alignment in December 2022, but Pluto will come within a degree of US Pluto once more in October 2023. So this transit will continue to unfold over the next two years.
Other than the rise of violence, one of the ways in which the US Pluto return has made itself known in mainstream consciousness is the idea that our Democracy is dead or dying. Our system of free and fair elections, the basis of democracy, is fracturing. There is talk of a civil war, and some states want to secede from the Union. America is becoming even more geographically polarized.
Pluto transits very rarely result in complete destruction, but Pluto’s transformative effect is virtually always visible at these times. The power of creative destruction under Pluto may break down systems that are failing, but something else will be rebuilt in their place.
These times of dramatic change can be frightening, but when we understand the planetary forces at work behind the scenes we can more easily manage our reactions to the events at hand. Pluto is in the last degrees of Capricorn, the sign that inspires us to create structures that will help us to achieve mastery of the material world. Any of these structures that are decaying from the inside out and weakened by this decay will almost surely collapse, but will be ultimately replaced by something that better fits the modern reality of life in the Aquarian Age.