On the 23rd of March, Pluto will change signs for the first time since 2008, ingressing into idealistic and humanitarian Aquarius just after midday where it will remain (bar a few retrograde spells) until 2044. This is momentous on so many levels – not just for humanity, but for all of us individually.
As Pluto comes to the end of its 14-year stay in Capricorn, it’s laser sharp focus may turn towards polarising issues such as democracy vs. social control/engineering, the utopian vs dystopian model of science and technology, as well as our future relationship to each other, and to machines.
transforming institutions, structures & our relationship to power
To give you an idea of just how powerful this planet can be in terms of shaking things up, shifting paradigms and the balance of power, think back to 2008 – the date of Pluto’s previous ingress into traditional and conservative Capricorn – and then consider how much our relationship to the patriarchy, traditional institutions and social conventions, from marriage to politics, banking and even gender, has either dramatically altered or been upended, whilst the gaps between rich vs poor, the political right vs left, and race/gender inequalities, have simultaneously widened. Here, we can see Pluto’s reputation for creating both major transitions and extremes at play.
Before that, Pluto powered through Sagittarius (1995-2008), setting in motion events that would eventually lead to several high profile doping scandals such as the one involving Lance Armstrong, as well as allegations of bribery and corruption within sporting organisations like FIFA, beginning in May 2002; and amplifying the cultural polarisation that would to the re-emergence of religious fundamentalism, which many believe motivated terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and, in turn, to the retaliatory military campaigns that came to be known under the banner of the so-called ‘War on Terror‘.
As a transpersonal planet, Pluto’s role is to ‘stress test’: to push things to their limit – often to breaking point – so that structural issues, or toxic patterns can be exposed or brought to the surface, so that they can be faced, confronted and then be purged, healed or improved upon. Often, this can bring about shifts of power, especially if there has been some form of repression or unhealthy type of control at work behind the scenes. Although dramatic and sometimes painful, Pluto is about making us face up to the truth of things – like a good therapy session – only often more dramatic,
Now, as we collectively prepare to deal with Aquarian-ruled issues such as utopianism, collective ideals, our relationship to technology, science, diversity and democracy, we must also prepare to push past certain social limitations and open up our horizons to new frontiers. It will be interesting to see whether we develop fresh charters and new definitions of human rights around issues such as the right to privacy and the ownership of our personal data, as several outspoken advocates have already begun arguing for.
REDEFINING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN
Given that the water bearer is the only human figure in the zodiac, this period may hark back to themes from the last time Pluto toured Aquarius – the time of the French and scientific revolutions – a period associated with the emergence of democracy from feudalism, the rise of humanist philosophies centered around civil rights and democracy.
Humanism rests on the notion that mankind sits at the top fo the evolutionary tree, and has a limitless capacity for development or achievement, provided he/she acquires the right knowledge, skill or techniques to do so, and applies his reasoning abilities in appropriate, if occasionally novel, ways. Humanistic ideas can be seen in esoteric concepts like Universal Man or ‘Adam Kadmon’, representing the pinnacle of man’s evolutionary potential, ideas that became popular amongst initiatory traditions and ‘illuminist’ secret societies like freemasonry and kabbalism at the time. These, in turn, show clear parallels with the altruism and utopian ideals associated with the sign of Aquarius, qualities that may have their roots in the star lore of the Babylonians, who saw the constellation as a chief-like demi-god named Gula, who was a sort of archetypal embodiment of the hero-leader associated with the water god Enki.
However, unlike Renaissance humanism, the emphasis during this period was less on philosophy and the study of humanities, and more on civic humanism – giving more freedoms and rights to ordinary citizens via charters such as the English Parliamentary Bill of Rights, Rousseau’s Social Contract and The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, considered by many to be the crowning achievement of the French Revolution.
On one level, this may involve learning to balance our sense of personal sovereignty with a sense of where we belong in the group or social whole, which may involve a level of teamwork and cooperation we have grown unaccustomed to. On another, it may concern a need to approach things more rationally and not so emotionally (i.e. a need to develop our critical thinking abilities in an attempt to balance the over-emphasis on opinion and venting we have become accustomed engaging with via social media); to step out of the shadow of narcissism, which has become so prevalent in Western society (driven by a strong emphasis on individualism via neoliberal philosophies as well as selfie and celebrity/influencer culture) and start to think again about group dynamics, friendships and how we can contribute to the greater good through team efforts.
We may also need to confront our often toxic relationship with technology, especially things like dating apps and social media, and consider whether continued use over the last two decades, has, in significant ways, downgraded our social skills and ability to form healthy relationships with other people, both individually and collectively.
Ultimately, given that we are talking about secretive and power-hungry Pluto, this may lead to some form of confrontation over issues such as personal privacy and how much our behaviour has been manipulated by increasingly invasive spying practices driven by cyber-warfare, as well as the huge profits being generated by the purveyors of what’s been dubbed ‘surveillance capitalism.’
PERSONAL GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES
On a personal level, Pluto is likely to herald some important shifts in terms of our relationship to groups, friendships and social justice issues, including things like diversity and gender rights. Personal empowerment, perhaps via the healing of psychological issues around control (e.g. OCD or abuse), or transforming self-destructive subconscious programming or trauma wounding, are just some of the ways that this transit could be positively harnessed. Pluto can be about alchemical transmutation and catharsis, while Aquarius tends to be group-oriented, so perhaps this might lead to novel forms of group therapy or unusual healing modalities involving technology such as subliminal reprogramming audio, lasers, ultrasound or non-invasive brainwave regulation along the lines of solfeggio tracks.
Much will depend on what house cusp Aquarius rules, as well as where Pluto falls natally in an individual’s chart. To that end, I have prepared a ‘cheatsheet’ which should more or less help you to identify (house division and latitude depending, of course) which life area is destined to be overhauled by Pluto between now and 2044.
For now, it’s safe to say that we are in for quite a turbulent but also potentially exciting period.
To find out more about the mundane trends mentioned in this post, check out my in-depth article on the Astro-Insights blog,