Rumors of a new world order emerging due to Pluto’s passage into Aquarius have been exaggerated – at least for now. For one thing, the Lord of the Underworld is now abandoning Aquarius (which it only entered on March 23) and returning to Capricorn, where it’s been stirring up chaos since 2008. That reentry happens this month, on June 10. Once back in Capricorn, Pluto will actually remain there for the rest of the year. We’re not out of the Capricorn woods yet, in other words.
On October 10, after four months, Pluto reverses course and turns direct, but it’s still in Capricorn when that happens. It only reenters Aquarius on January 20 of the coming year.
Even then, we’re still not in the clear. On September 1, 2024, Pluto crosses briefly back into Capricorn a second time. That will only be a quick goodbye kiss – just forty days later, it enters Aquarius solidly. After that, it won’t be finished with Aquarius until early 2044 – and it won’t touch Capricorn again until February 28, 2254.
Complicated? Yes indeed – and that complexity will be echoed in the headlines, not to mention in your own head.
When a planet is retrograde, it’s going back over ground that it has already covered. In a sense, it is going back into the past. The best way I know to think about retrograde periods is to reflect on your own childhood. Isn’t it fair to say that in many ways you understand your childhood better now than you did when you were actually experiencing it? What did your parents look like to you when you were seven years old? You were only a kid, so how clearly did you see them? Whatever your answer, I suspect you have a much better picture of them now than you did back then. When you were a child, your parents were giants who held all the aces. Now, whatever your family story might be, you see them with adult insight, closer to who they actually were – human beings with strengths, flaws, and a back story.
That’s how retrograde periods work, at least when we are dealing with them in a mindful, evolutionary way. They are about reflecting on the past, but seeing it in the light of the wisdom we have presently attained. And that present-tense perspective is often in sharp contrast to the way we understood things when they were actually happening in the first place.
Almost every moving piece of the puzzle in the astrological sky has retrograde periods – the only exceptions are the Sun and the Moon. But there’s a particularly unique synergy between retrogradation and the nature of Pluto. The Lord of the Underworld resonates with our own personal underworlds – the unconscious mind, in other words. And if you think back on what we just saw about retrograde periods in general, they too are about becoming conscious of things of which we were previously unaware – like Pluto, they too are about previously unconscious material surfacing. That, by the way, is one reason why Pluto’s retrograde periods can sometimes have an ominous feeling – it’s much like the butterflies you might feel in your belly as you enter a psychotherapist’s office for the first time – you don’t know what you are going to discover, but you sense that it might be heavy.
A boy who was terrorized by his violent father might later come to realize that his father was actually a pipsqueak who was terrorized by other men, and who took out his frustrated rage on his own son. That’s obviously the sort of insight that might arise in the course of psychotherapy – and psychotherapy is at least an excellent metaphor for any healthy response to Pluto even though there are many other ways to get such a period right. The same might be said for the retrograde periods of any planet – they too are about “re-visioning” the past, so they all have an inward, vaguely “psychotherapeutic” quality.
With Pluto’s retrograde reentry into Capricorn, all of humanity is being offered a chance to reflect and to heal – or, failing that, to demonstrate what happens to us when we avoid doing those things.
In this newsletter, I want to focus on the kind of astrology I actually practice, which is very much oriented to individuals rather than to world events. Pluto’s passage through Capricorn and its impending passage through Aquarius are huge topics, both for individuals and for humanity in general. If you’re interested in a deep dive into that wider territory, I made an hour-long video about it for Astrology University and then did a live question-and-answer session, which is also included in the video. The questions were lively and we went into some deep territory during a second hour. It’s not free, though – making those videos is a lot of work! You can get my Pluto in Aquarius talk here.
The High and Low of Pluto in Capricorn
For our purposes here, let me offer a quick summary of just one of the main points of that video and how it fits into Pluto’s upcoming retrogradation back into Capricorn. Every sign has a high evolutionary meaning and a dark side. With Capricorn, the high evolutionary meaning has to do with integrity and character. Every time you have ever resisted a temptation, for one example, that was the positive side of Capricorn (and Saturn) at work. And that’s where we bring in a deliciously Plutonian question – of all of those temptations you resisted, are there any that you probably should not have resisted? For example, is there someone you should have kissed, but didn’t? A piece of cake you actually should have eaten? If you’d taken some funny revenge on a scoundrel, might that have improved the scoundrel’s future behavior – and saved someone else from getting hurt?
Not everything we believe to be “right” actually is, in other words.
Capricorn is about trying to be good, and we’re not going to shame that aspiration! But who defines “good” for us? Where do the basic values by which we try to navigate our lives actually originate? Not all of them are healthy or helpful. Just think of anyone shaming you for “not knowing your place” – such people often act as if they are speaking for God. Worse, they might convince us of the same thing. Not all orders should be followed. Not all authority is actually worthy of respect. Those questioning attitudes are all part of a healthy response to Pluto in Capricorn.
In that video I mentioned, I talk about “traditional values.” Some of them are truly precious – values such as honesty, kindness to strangers, taking care of the kids, taking care of the planet, and so on. But there are some other values that also have long traditions – racism, sexism, and homophobia, for three obvious examples. Think about it – for years, many people actually believed that it was immoral for people of different races to marry, or for anyone to violate gender role expectations, or for people of the same gender to be partners.
Just because a value has been around a long time doesn’t make it right. But it often does make it sink deep into the bones of a society.
Pluto’s passage through Capricorn, which began fifteen years ago, has seen the boil breaking on many of those toxic traditional values. If you think about it, you can see that we’re talking about the headlines of the past decade and a half. Meanwhile, Pluto’s entry into Aquarius is about the upcoming hard work of defining a new set of values by which humanity can navigate into a fairer and more sustainable future.
Suggested Reflections for Pluto in Capricorn
Once again, these topics are too vast for me to cover in a short newsletter. That’s what my video is all about. What I want to do here is to look at it all on a more personal level, and to focus particularly on this upcoming eight-month return of Pluto to Capricorn, with the first half of it retrograde.
Here’s the whole thing reduced to four bullet-points:
- Life is often hard – but sometimes we tie ourselves in “shouldsy” knots and make it even harder than it needs to be.
- It is time to reflect on anything that has been a chronic struggle and source of hurt for you over the past fifteen years.
- Has the root issue been some “should” that’s been sucking the life out of you – some responsibility you’ve accepted or self-sacrifice you’ve that you felt that you were morally obliged to make?
- Ask yourself if anything in those “shoulds” is really true and legitimately morally binding – or have you been the slave of some personal “traditional values” that actually have served no positive spiritual purpose for you or anyone else at all?
While Pluto has been in Aquarius during these last few weeks, you may have already gotten a glimmering of a better, lighter path forward. That’s good news! But for the rest of this year, think of yourself as being in “Capricorn Recovery Therapy.” That means getting yourself ready for some big breakthroughs and changes when Pluto returns to Aquarius on January 20, 2024 – and that’s really just a few months from now. Honest inner work and reflection this year lays the foundation for that upcoming liberation.
What happens in the world is always the sum of all the choices that eight billion human beings are making. As you fight to escape the deadening hand of the outdated past as it echoes inside of you, you are setting up a resonance that ultimately helps everyone to create a better, more Aquarian future. And that is humanity’s mission for the next couple of decades.
New Webinar: Jupiter Enters Taurus
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