Pluto is like the deep bass drumbeat of the planetary orchestra, holding down the steady pulse of time in a slow, plodding pace beneath the quick melodic twists and turns of all the personal planets.
Pluto takes 249 years to travel around the zodiac, spending anywhere from 11 to 35 years in a single sign. For this reason we can associate Pluto with generations; all the babies born with Pluto in a single sign share a quality of soul. This aspect of the personality is far deeper and more subtle than the quality of consciousness associated with a sun sign, or the emotional nature associated with a moon sign. The placement of Pluto by house and sign in the birth chart indicates a pre-incarnate intention of the eternal spirit, which the entire personality ultimately must answer to.
On the collective level, as Pluto moves through each sign, we experience the breakdown, overthrow and re-genesis of the institutions, ideas and cultural paradigms associated with the transiting sign. Pluto symbolizes those deep underground forces in the collective psyche which break down and renew that which is old, outworn and past its time. It works like a machine dredging the bottom of a pond, bringing to the surface everything which is rotten and ready for the compost heap, so that new life can emerge cleaner, brighter and stronger than before.
Structures which have been built upon a solid foundation will endure through Pluto’s tests, but anything which is flimsy, false or useless will crumble, and often in a shocking and unpleasant way. A true Plutonian crisis often asks us to do without the very thing we believe we need the most; Pluto rips away our entire framework of understanding and that upon which our sense of security was built.
Pluto in Capricorn
Since 2008, Pluto has been slowly and methodically moving through the sign of Capricorn. Capricorn is associated with structure, authority, governments, institutions, finances, productivity, achievement and hierarchies.
During this time we experienced dramatic changes in the authoritative structures which establish coherence and law in our world. Abuse of power by those in authority which had been previously taken for granted was challenged, and the boundaries which exist between countries, political parties, corporations, institutions and citizens underwent radical shifts. Idealism, corruption and outmoded structures were torn down in hopes of finding a replacement which is more in alignment with what human beings truly need.
Pluto’s entrance into Capricorn was immediately followed by the financial collapse in 2008, which exposed the massive corruption of Wall Street and the deep ties between government bureaucracy and the financial industry. Financial institutions have continued to undergo massive transformation and upheaval, with innovations like cryptocurrency and digital finance, and fluctuations in inflation, government spending, debt and the stock market. There have been numerous uprisings and wars throughout the Middle East which produced radical change in government and the geo-political landscape. Changes in border policies worldwide have produced huge changes in the demographics of Europe and North America. Constrictions imposed during the COVID lockdowns have brought up questions of personal liberty and freedom of speech. Corporations have reached an unprecedented level of power which has brought up the question of the rights of conglomerations vs. citizens rights.
Our collective understanding of productivity and the workplace has also dramatically changed in recent years, as more and more people leave the office and opt into working from home. These are just a few examples of Pluto’s thumbprint upon our societal structures as it made its way through Capricorn.
Pluto in Aquarius
Pluto enters the sign of Aquarius in March 2023 to stay until 2044. We will have only a brief glimpse of this energetic shift this year, as Pluto will retrograde back into Capricorn in June, returning to Aquarius for its 20-year journey in January 2024. These few months will give us an initial foretaste of the new era, which will feel very different from the last fifteen years, even if many conflicts and transformations in the sphere of social structures continue. If the transit through Capricorn was characterized by the exposure of corruption and abuse of power, the transit through Aquarius must then produce structures that better serve human welfare. Nevertheless, this is likely to involve some resistance, as a battle of idealism, dogmatism and realism continues.
The sign of Aquarius, the Waterbearer, is associated with idealism, community, scientific knowledge, technology, social progress and experimentation. After the breakdown and renewal of the political, financial and governmental structures upon which society bases its security, now our focus will turn to the definition of our relationships with one another as a human family. This means we will seek a new vision of how each individual relates to others, to the planet and its creatures, and to the ever growing “world” of technology. This era is sure to be defined by new ways in which we can apply science and technology to enhance human life, and also with limitations and dangers associated with these innovations. We may also see more “eccentric” or New Age philosophies becoming mainstream, as topics which have been considered “fringe” prove useful in building a happy and healthy society.
It may seem paradoxical that Aquarius is associated with both individualism and community, yet the reconciliation of these two is veritably the key to social harmony. Society does not function if individuals do not honor what they know to be true and right, each freely. Giving of his unique talents; but it also does not function if each individual only recognizes the legitimacy of his own point of view.
As Pluto moves through Aquarius you may witness the collective dealing with profound dilemmas in our understanding of society and social structures, and you will simultaneously see these same themes playing out on a smaller scale in your personal life. We will all be forced to answer the questions: “What is authentic and unique to me which I must honor? What is our real common ground as human beings or creatures of earth? How can I use this time to discover myself in others and find others in myself? How well do I understand my place in the larger cosmic system of which my personal life is only a small part?”