The big astrological turning point and topic of discussion for years now, the USA’s first Pluto return is reaching its point of exactitude in the coming days. On February 20 or thereabouts, Pluto returns to 27°, 32’ Capricorn, where it was on July 4, 1776. This cosmological event marks a time when we, as a nation, begin to ascend from the depths of our shadow into a place of greater enlightenment. Dark truths have been brought into our conscious awareness. We will most certainly not emerge free of shadow or deep complex. But the healing, in enormously important ways, is well underway. We are beginning a climb upward.
This article published in The Mountain Astrologer magazine, written by Ray Grasse, is helpful in providing historic examples of the “impact” of a Pluto Return on an entire nation or empire. The article was published in December of 2019, so it’s especially interesting to read it more than two years later. It serves as validation of the reliability of astrology as a predictive tool.
Pluto, God of the Underworld, represents unconscious forces; all that is below the surface. Pluto’s influence brings transformation and healing. In its highest expression, Pluto is associated with rebirth. It represents endings and new beginnings, as well as spiritual growth and renewal. The darkest expression of Pluto is an obsessive desire for power and control, and wanton destruction.
Whether Pluto is expressed at its highest or lowest expression is up to us—each one of us. It is not driven by fate. Pluto’s expression is a result of collective behavior. It’s important to note, also, that whatever way it is experienced and expressed here on earth, the Plutonian cycle of death and rebirth usually involves deep psychological challenge and struggle.
Pluto takes approximately 248 years to orbit the Sun. Interestingly, through cosmological cycles such as orbits, evolutionary and historical themes are picked up where they left off the last time through. Pluto has been in the sign of Capricorn since 2008, for the first time since the American Revolutionary War period. At that time, Pluto entered Capricorn in 1762 and completed its final full year in Capricorn in 1777, with which came the Continental Congress’ adoption of the Articles of Confederation—the first constitution of the United States. Capricorn is the sign that rules authority, government, structure, establishment, limits, law, order, and efforts and systems that are achievement- and status-based, such as capitalism. The last time Pluto was in Capricorn, the USA was constructing and establishing itself as a nation.
When its influence is strong, as it has been for the United States over the last several years, Pluto’s transformational energy is experienced in three phases. The first phase introduces heavy feelings of fear, dread, and denial… the second phase, which we are beginning to put behind us, brings deep crisis…. the third phase brings transformational healing and rebirth.
Pluto Forces Us to Grapple with Our Dark Truths
U.S. citizens who are willing to pay close attention, are seriously examining our country’s values, history, and failings. We’re making an honest effort to see our nation’s shadow—much of which is reflected in these Pluto-Capricorn themes: our “acquisition” through brutally violent means of lands belonging to indigenous peoples; our founding at a time when slavery was legal, and the systemic racism that persists; our capitalistic values; the gerrymandering of voting districts; the failings of our healthcare system, education system, and criminal justice system largely due to money-centered versus people-centered values; our skepticism and distrust of authority; the former president’s claim to law and order.
As you read Grasse’s section on The Implications for the United States, concrete examples will easily come to mind of the ways in which these implications have already manifested. What he suggests we will see during the years leading up to the U.S Pluto Return, we have, in fact, seen. Here is a quick run-down of Grasse’s suggested implications of the Pluto Return, and ways in which they’ve actualized:
1. Economic impact. The pandemic’s impact on employment and businesses.
2. Growing social unrest, possibly bordering on a civil war-type atmosphere. George Floyd’s murder sparks historic Black Lives Matter protests; the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
3. Military conflict. Russia-Ukraine-USA… this could turn into active military conflict at any moment.
4. Explosive scandals or falls from grace involving prominent individuals.
So many to choose from. I’ll go with what’s in the news this week: Prince Andrew settles with one of Jeffrey Epstein’s then-underage recruits; Trump’s accounting firm withdraws from his employment, stating that no one should rely on the last ten years of his financial statements. (I am still holding on to my vision of photos of DJT in handcuffs on or about February 22).
5. Environmental impact. Wildfires, drought, erratic temperatures. With the pandemic, we have witnessed the positive impact on the environment when far fewer people are commuting to work and/or freely traveling across the globe. I wish we had many more positive examples of rebirthing and renewal in this critical category.
6. The growing threat of autocracy. Yes.
7. “Darkness” from our own past that we will contend with… slavery and racism. The revelation to many of us of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, which killed hundreds of prosperous black residents, burned more than 1,250 homes, and erased years of success. A story few of us learned about in school. See also my comments below, on Dawnland.
In Grasse’s article, he looks to the United States’ Pluto “half-return,” or opposition, as an indication of what we might expect at the time of the full Pluto Return. In 1936, transiting Pluto was exactly opposite, at 27° Cancer, the USA’s natal Pluto at 27-Capricorn. No time period depicts Pluto’s power of destruction better than the era of The Great Depression. But what of Pluto’s healing potential at that time?
Throughout the 1930s, the series of programs set forth in President Roosevelt’s New Deal brought a very concrete plan for rebirth. It was not a perfect system, and it brought on significant new debt. It was not as successful in the short term as it was in the long run. But the New Deal was a program of renewal. It helped the country survive the depression without undermining the capitalist system, and it provided greater financial security through the introduction of Social Security and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, among other programs.
The ways in which our nation’s full Pluto Return manifests will be much easier understood in retrospect, when we look back on this time in ten or twenty years from now. But, as we look at other notable cosmological events in the sky at this time of the Pluto return, here and now, we can have faith that the harsh challenges we’ve had to tackle in the last few years are leading to better things. In recent weeks, Jupiter-Pisces (seeking spiritual truth) has been forming a sextile with Uranus-Taurus (innovative energy put into practical application). Then, these planets position in exact 60° sextile (productive output) a few days before Pluto’s exact return at 27°, 32’ Capricorn on February 20. Since January 22 and until February 20, Mars-Capricorn (ambition in achieving goals) forms a sextile with Jupiter-Pisces as well (and Mars will conjunct Pluto in an 8° orb at the point of Pluto’s return).
Simply put: there are helpful energies at work as we turn the corner of our Pluto Return.
Healing Energy Is All Around Us
Scorpio is the astrological sign that shares the archetypal principles of transformation and healing with Pluto. I’m intrigued by President Biden’s natal chart, which features Scorpio so prominently. The planets closest to the sun—Mercury, Venus, and Mars—are what we refer to as “personal planets”. All of Biden’s personal planets, as well as his Sun (core identity), are in the sign of Scorpio. I was fascinated to note, in his acceptance speech in November 2020 and again in his Inaugural speech in January 2021, the number of times he used the words heal, healing, and renewal.
Have you seen the 2018 award-winning documentary Dawnland? If not, you should (and not just because it mirrors the archetypal story of the U.S. Pluto Return). From producer Upstander Project’s website: “For decades, child welfare authorities have been removing Native American children from their homes to “save them from being Indian.” In Maine, the first official Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the United States begins a historic investigation. Dawnland goes behind-the-scenes as this historic body grapples with difficult truths, redefines reconciliation, and charts a new course for state and tribal relations.”
Up next from Upstander Project is the documentary series, Reciprocity Project, premiering this year. It seems it will perfectly depict, without direct reference to it, the third phase of our Pluto Return cycle: renewal, rebirth, and healing. From their website: “Facing a climate crisis, the Reciprocity Project embraces Indigenous value systems that have bolstered communities since the beginning of time. To heal, we must recognize that we are in relationship with Earth, a place that was in balance for millennia.”
We really don’t have to look far to find examples of people making effort, in their own way, to rebirth our nation. We’re restructuring and rebuilding our future, compelled by Pluto-Capricorn--whether we are consciously aware of cosmological energies or not.
Pay attention to what’s calling for transformation within you, and project that good energy with intention, out into the universe. As above, so below. As below, so above. Ultimately, the way our nation expresses Pluto’s power of rebirth is dependent upon each one of us.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it
If only we're brave enough to be it
--From The Hill We Climb, written and recited by Amanda Gorman
on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021