Pluto returns to its natal position in the US chart on February 20, 2022; also, due to retrograde/direct motion, on July 11 and December 28 this year.
Rome had two. England has had three. This year the United States gets its first Pluto Return. It takes Pluto approximately 250 years to circle the zodiac. That means, if you live long enough, as nations do, Pluto eventually returns to the sign and degree it was in when you were born. Hence, the Pluto Return.
Most astrologers agree the US was born with the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, PA. The actual time of the signing is up for debate, but 5:10 pm, giving a Sagittarius Ascendant, is a chart that many like. In it, Pluto is at 27 Capricorn, where it transits again this year.
So what does this all mean?
Whenever a planet returns to its natal position, it must psychically renew itself. On some level the archetype dies. And is then reborn.
That’s what happens with the Sun. It returns to its natal position in your chart every year around your birthday. And it’s why people often feel depressed in the weeks before their big day. The Sun–symbolizing your inner light and vitality—is dying. So that it might be annually renewed. Giving you a bright sense of beginning again.
Pluto is a planet of power and shadow. He’s one of the “zeitgeist” planets, along with Uranus and Neptune. These slower-moving heavyweights can’t be seen with the naked eye. Yet their influence is potent and generational. As Lord of the Psychic Underworld, overseeing wealth, death, transformation, and rebirth, Pluto is volcanic and powerful. True to type, his returns initiate periods of intensity and extremes.
“A Pluto Return doesn’t necessarily portend the demise of a nation, although it does always seem to involve considerable upheaval,” says astrologer Ray Grasse, in his brilliant and comprehensive article on astro.com. Two examples he shares offer the perfect bookends to help us understand this transit’s possibilities, the best and the worst.
By its second Pluto Return (461-468 CE), Rome had already suffered a costly string of military losses. There was a splintering of its central political control, while the barbarians who would eventually overtake the empire grew in strength. Pluto destroys what’s weak to make room for something more appropriate to the reality of the times. In other words, if a nation isn’t strong enough to transform during its Pluto Return, perhaps it should die. Shortly after this Return, Rome collapsed.
During its second Pluto Return (1555-1562), England entered a Golden Age. Queen Elizabeth came to power. She renewed a bankrupt economy and brought the nation into the era of global exploration. Pluto’s return coincided with the peak of the English Renaissance, with its flowering of music, poetry, and art, paving the way for literary giants like Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Spenser. Of course even golden periods have their shadow. This was also when the slave trade began.
Money, resources, power, and a lot of noise
In the US horoscope, Pluto is at 27 Capricorn—in the chart’s 2nd house of money, values and resources. Paying taxes to the British was an incendiary issue in the fight for the colonies’ independence. The second house suggests we’ll likely see Plutonian transformations in the economy and with our use of resources. That Pluto is in an earth sign underscores one of the top perils of the time–the unraveling of the fragile resources of this planet. Pluto says it’s on us–live or die. Are we willing to address climate change more powerfully? Pluto in Capricorn, the sign of governments and leadership, suggests transformations here too. We’ll see the mighty plutocrats rise or fall. There could be unprecedented scandals–or populist insurrections.
The Sabian Symbol for Pluto’s return degree isn’t particularly comforting: ” A large aviary.” That’s a big cage filled with birds going nowhere. A cacophony of noise. This unfortunately makes me think of the new film Don’t Look Up, which if you haven’t seen, you should. A large comet is barreling down on planet Earth–and while there’s plenty of noise, well, I won’t spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it. But again, what’s not strong enough to change perhaps deserves to die.
The Pluto Return is exact three times this year. But historians will give it an orb of ten years or so on either side. That’s how long it takes the lumbering entity known as a nation to create then fulfill the conditions for change. Astrology isn’t causing this to happen. We’re experiencing an organic cycle of renewal that the planets help us to see. As divination, astrology gives us insights into what’s happening. The US going through its Pluto Return confirms that we are at a national turning point. We live in exceptional times. “Unprecedented” has become an over-used word for events of the past few years. But that’s what it is.
So now you have a frame of reference. The US is deciding where it wants to invest its power. It is choosing its future. You’ve got a front row seat. So keep your eyes open. Voice your truth. Work for your values. And take nothing for granted.
Especially if you’re within three months of your birthday–before of after–this is an excellent time to contemplate your solar return. Diviners calculate a chart (for your current location) at the precise time when the Sun returns to its natal degree in your chart. That gives us a rich and symbolic picture of the year ahead for you. Explore your SR chart through the eyes of an expert–Mary Shea. You can order her illuminating report here.