Course Correction: Mars Trine Pluto

On 25 August 2023, Mars and a retrograde Pluto will form a rare and powerful trine aspect to each other in earth signs, signalling one of the best opportunities this year to introduce swift and wide-ranging structural reforms and/or implement a ‘system rewrite’. Great news if you’re wanting to improve your health, or make a major course correction in money or career matters.

Think of it as a cosmic intervention to help you shed bad habits or get out of a rut and back on course. Or indeed, head in a brand new direction if you feel your current path will take you so far and no further. With Mars in health-conscious Virgo and Pluto in determined Capricorn, this is also a great time to make some tangible lifestyle shifts that will have a long lasting impact.

Sign Changes

Earlier this year, Pluto ingressed into Aquarius and although it has temporarily retrograded back into Capricorn, its stay here will be short-lived. In fact, both planets are due to change signs – Mars into Libra (27 August), and Pluto back into Aquarius (21 Jan 2024) after this particular event, meaning that this will be the last of the earth trines between these two powerhouses for some years, after which the focus will switch to the air element.

Given that both Pluto and Mercury are also currently retrograde, (and Uranus about to make the switch on the 29th), you might also find that this transit is more about closure or catharsis, refining or redoing on some level – whether it’s putting crooked things straight, getting closure about a past pattern or situation that’s been haunting you, or reworking an earlier project that wasn’t quite up to scratch the first time around.

Think Marie Kondo – both Virgo and Pluto absolutely thrive on clearing out the clutter in preparation for a brand new stage, phase, do-over or redo. And that’s a great way to work with this transit. To be fair, it is probably necessary, given that it effectively brings a 14-year dance between this dynamic duo to a close.


So what’s the deal with this particular trine? Why is it so significant? Two reasons.

Firstly, it’s the last in a series of earth trines that have been happening on and off, every two years or so, since 2008. This is largely down to their very different orbits: Mars manages to do a circuit of the zodiac every two years (1.88 years to be exact), while Pluto takes around 248 years to do one lap around the Sun (but it has an elliptical orbit so the time it spends in each zodiac sign tends to vary). As a result, the odds of them syncing up in the same element tends to be on the low side – usually when Mars is in either Taurus or Virgo.

2008 – 2023: Pluto in Capricorn

Since 2008, Pluto has been in Capricorn, which means that the all of these trines would all have taken place in earth signs – something to consider because not only does it favour individuals or companies that have lots of earth in their natal/inception charts, but on a mundane level, it also tends to place more of an emphasis on concrete changes rooted in material phenomena such as money, physical health or your relationship to nature/food, as opposed to more ephemeral things.

2021: Intensity Levels go up a Notch

More recently, however, these events have become more frequent, helping to raise intensity levels, perhaps as a wake-up call to humanity. Rather than every two years, Mars and Pluto have been making this aspect annually (sometimes even bi-anually) since 2021, often around the third quarter of the year, (July/August/September).

Below is a list of dates for this period. You may want to cast your mind back to see whether any of these dates proved significant for you. Perhaps you had some type of healing crisis, or experienced higher than usual levels of energy or motivation, or felt called to right a wrong or undertake some form of social justice or activism during these week-long spells?

  • 25 February and 6 September 2021
  • 14 August 2022
  • 25 August 2023
  • 22 July 2024

As you can see from the list, there were TWO passes of this aspect in 2021 – one in late February and again in August – which seems fitting, given what an intense time it was for the world. Not only was there a strong emphasis on Pluto themes like death and regeneration – think of the emergency vibes around the mass rollout of COVID jabs, which began in earnest in the UK around Jan-Feb 2021.

However, 2021 also seemed to be a year when the need for system-wide reform, sometimes even drastic ‘upgrades’, began to take on an added degree of urgency, perhaps because of the tension and sense of discomfort and disillusionment created by the Saturn-Uranus squares after the difficult Saturn-Pluto transits of 2020. Whether it was due to a sudden realization about the fragility of the world’s food supply system in the face of war, extreme weather events or supply chain disruption; or all the talk about monetary policy reforms and economic interventions needed to eradicate poverty and fix the consequences of chronic money-printing and the debt cycle haunting many countries; or the need for action on climate change post COP 26, there was definitely a sense that the time for complacency was over and something drastic needed to be done.

Mars-Pluto: Do or Die

Mars-Pluto contacts can do that. Both are about change and action – using one’s will or powers of persuasion to get things done – to fix what’s broken, cut out what’s not working, or get going again after being bogged down by obstacles.

In general, Mars adds willpower, courage and ‘mojo’, helping you focus and making you more confident about things like physical strength or your relationship with your body, including energy levels, vitality and testosterone levels. It usually speeds events up, adding an air of urgency to proceedings. However, earth signs tend to slow things down and make people more practical and deliberate, especially when in Taurus, helping to mitigate any tendencies to be brash, impatient or reckless.

Pluto, on the other hand, tends to add an air of power, charisma, drama and intensity, making people more persuasive, potent or attractive than usual. In situations, it brings about ‘now or never’ pivot points – moments that demand drastic decisions or extreme actions, such as rescuing someone from certain death or perhaps killing off unworkable plans or toxic dynamics. Considered to be one of the so-called transpersonal planets, Pluto often has a social or archetypal dimension to it – think everything from our collective shadow, as played out on social media, or more positively, shamanic underworld journeys or the work of Carl Jung, but also what’s hidden beneath the surface – the secret power dynamics often at play within situations.

Asa result, these transits tend to coincide with sweeping socio-political reforms or societal shifts, bringing together the personal and collective dimensions in a way that can often feel ‘fated’ on some level. As a I wrote about on the Astro-Insights blog, this time window coincided with the end of Pluto’s 14 year transit through Capricorn, a time of wealth inequality, political extremism, increasing conservatism and a resurgence of patriarchal values.

From the General to the Specific

Anyway, putting that aside for a minute, let’s focus on the more positive aspects of this transit – for, in pure astrological terms, a trine aspect is generally considered to be auspicious, ushering in changes for the better. This aspect is also very good for strategising, change management, as well as medical procedures, healing protocols or social activism.

For those who have strong earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) in their charts and who are looking to make a major change of some kind, I therefore recommend making the most of this week-long transit, especially if you want to revive, restructure or reform an earlier situation, system, organisation or project that didn’t get off the ground the first time around.

Taking your Power Back

On an individual level, a Mars-Pluto trine is excellent for harnessing one’s willpower to get you out of a rut, or give you the motivation to make a serious career or lifestyle change. With Mars in Virgo, it’s especially good for helping people to get more active or transform their health/diet/energy levels in a fairly dramatic way It’s also great for enlisting the aid of powerful people to assist you in a major undertaking for the greater good, whether that be organising a sporting event, reforming public healthcare, revolutionising nutrition, or addressing the ‘masculinity crisis’ in some way.

Since Pluto is about digging deep and getting real, these changes could involve myth-busting, cutting through illusions or bringing hidden truths to light that free people from the weight of denial or unrealistic expectations.

Alternatively, it could be a method or system that enables people to be more honest about their experiences, perhaps addressing their hidden struggles with weight, or coming to terms with their sexuality, their journey to overcome trauma or any personal difficulties arising from past abuse or exploitation. This is the end of a 14-year cycle, after all.

Rehabilitation could be another big theme, whether it’s recovering from an addiction or finding tools or ways to get around or do things more effectively – say, if you’re disabled, for example. In fact, eighth house themes like sex, hidden vices, inheritance, tax, bank loans and business partnerships are all possible themes that could be highlighted now.

Chances are, it’s also likely to be confidence-building or empowering on some level, allowing people to reinvent themselves in some way – after all, these are the two planets that co-rule the sign of Scorpio. This is a transit that helps you to ‘get things done’, and so has the potential to be very productive, provided you take action to harness it – carpe diem and all that.

Much will depend on:

a) Your natal Mars and Pluto placements (this help you determine your underlying Mars-Pluto ‘signature’ in terms of how you tend to express or work with their energy)

b) Which of your house cusps are ruled by earth signs (as this will focus the area/s of life most likely to be affected by any changes brought about by the trine)

c) What aspects they make to other planets in your chart (as this will show likely blocks or knock-on effects of such changes – planetary dynamics that are unique to you).

If you don’t know, I recommend getting a natal report done or having an astrology consultation, as this will help you get a lot clearer about how these transits are likely to affect you personally.

The key to optimising this transit lies in harnessing your willpower to act: making a conscious decision to implement that hard fork or act on a major plot twist. The choice always remains in our hands as to whether or not we take action.

Given Pluto’s links to fate, it’s also worth stating that sometimes external events, such as a workplace restructure or law change, for example, will happen to us and we’re then given the opportunity to respond to what cards fortune has dealt us. Whatever happens, remember that this is ultimately about positive shifts or course corrections, even if they feel scary at first.

So to avoid fear or overwhelm, it’s worth framing your thinking in advance – tell yourself that change is happening ‘for’, rather than ‘to’ me. And then act accordingly – you may be surprised at how the universe then conspires to confirm your conviction.

May the odds be forever in your favour.

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