If you’re familiar with the dreaded wrath of a person’s Saturn return (or the time when Saturn returns to the sign and degree it was at when they were born), imagine something similar for this Pluto return, but for the entire nation at once. Because the planet orbits so far from Earth, it takes about 248 years to transit through all 12 signs, meaning a Pluto return can’t happen for a singular person, explains astrologer Vanessa Hardy. But it can happen for a country that’s at least that old, as is the case with the United States this year. And when it does, the resounding impact is far more collective than individual in nature.
“Pluto will expose the shadow side of this country, the negative patterns that uphold racial and economic disparities.” —Narayana Montúfar, astrologer
Given that any planet’s return tends to shed new light on that planet’s particular themes, we can expect this Pluto return for the United States to surface the nation’s most deeply hidden corruption or agendas, or what astrologer Narayana Montúfar, author of Moon Signs: Unlock Your Inner Luminary Power, calls its “dirty laundry.” Much of what bubbles up will likely have ties to money or power, as Pluto resides in the second house of resources in the United States’ natal chart, she says: “Pluto will expose the shadow side of this country—the negative patterns that uphold racial and economic disparities.” And from there, it’ll push us to create the kind of radical change needed to dispel those systems.
If that sounds pretty major—and time-consuming—it’s because it most definitely is. While the United States’ Pluto return is exact (or at the precise 27-degree mark) for the first time ever this week, astrologers agree that this transit’s been a couple years in the making, as the slow-moving planet has inched its way through Capricorn. And we can expect to continue feeling its effects throughout this year and over the course of the next two, with Pluto finally moving into Aquarius on March 23, 2023, only to retrograde back into Capricorn twice before shifting into Aquarius for good on November 19, 2024.
Below, astrologers break down the ways in which this transformative transit has already taken shape, and how we can expect it to impact us going forward.
How the lead-up to the United States’ Pluto return may foreshadow what’s to come
In essentially mucking up the nationwide status quo, the country’s Pluto return puts power abusers on blast, airs our deepest grievances, and surfaces everything that needs to be dropped or destroyed in order to make way for a new era.
Though there’s some debate among astrologers about exactly when the initial effects of the United States’ Pluto return really hit, it’s likely that the massive upheaval of 2020 and our entrance into the Age of Aquarius fall within its scope. Montúfar notes the Saturn-Pluto conjunction of January 2020 as a turning point, while Hardy calls out the February and May 2020 transits when Saturn and Jupiter, respectively, hit 27 degrees of Capricorn (that is, the same degree of Capricorn where the Pluto return falls).
“We witnessed this collective awakening of the people, and a grouping together to address these power imbalances.” —Vanessa Hardy, astrologer
During that span of months, we saw the first reported COVID-19-related death in the U.S.—which would soon highlight inequitable access to determinants of health in this country against the landscape of a full-blown pandemic—followed by the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. In alignment with a Pluto return, these events shone a light on the oppressive power dynamics that have long lurked beneath the United States’ democratic façade. “We witnessed this collective awakening of the people, and a grouping together to address these power imbalances,” says Hardy. “And that reflects a significant part of the U.S.’s Pluto return story.”
Both astrologers also link the string of life-changing environmental events over the past couple years—like raging wildfires on the west coast of emergency magnitude and record-breaking storms in the south—to Pluto’s return. “Pluto governs pollution, damage, and destruction,” says Montúfar. “And with it currently being in an Earth sign like Capricorn, it makes sense that major environmental issues are coming up.”
In essence, all of the above has laid the groundwork for the broad-scale change we’re bound to witness in the coming months: Now that these deep-rooted, Plutonian dilemmas have reached a critical mass, so to speak, we have no option but to address them head-on with the kind of sustainable solutions that’ll carry us into the country’s next chapter.
How to embrace the energy of this transformative Pluto return
With long-established rules of order being shaken and stirred on a societal level, this year could be just as ripe for individual evolution, too. Perhaps the clearest sign of that impulse is the “Great Resignation,” or the phenomenon of folks leaving their jobs en masse in search of work or a workplace that better aligns with their values or priorities.
But both Montúfar and Hardy suggest digging even deeper than that to identify where in your life or your psyche, you might benefit from foundational change. “With the south node in Scorpio this year, which is ruled by Pluto, there’s really a double whammy of hidden traumas being revealed to us,” says Montúfar. And that’s where shadow work can come into play, too, she says: “Being okay psychologically with integrating your negative trait or darkest secret is one way to use that Plutonian energy.”
Because the United States’ Pluto return is most indicative of society-level change, figuring out your place in it might also require some reframing. “For example, we can’t prevent war on our own, but we can be aware of how the military industrial complex drives the economy. And we can’t prevent a stock market crash, but we can start addressing our relationship to money and resources,” says Hardy. The idea is to consider how you can personally fit into this multi-year Pluto return story, while the planet continues to trudge its way through no-nonsense Capricorn.
And in the end, you can rest assured that your efforts toward change will pay off: After it completes this transit, Pluto aptly moves into Aquarius—a sign of invention, innovation, and the next step forward.
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