Pluto in Capricorn and the US Chart

While preparing for a talk I recently gave on the topic of Pluto's 15 year passage through Capricorn that began on 2008-1-25, it struck me that this long term transit will be having an incredible effect on the United States. The US is, basically speaking, a Cancer country, due to the presence of 4 major planets in this sign of the US chart: Venus, Jupiter, the Sun and Mercury. Since Cancer is the sign directly opposite Capricorn in the zodiac, Pluto will be opposing each of these planets in turn between now and 2020. In addition, the US Pluto is itself in late Capricorn, meaning the country is building up to a Pluto return in 2022.

Warning: Whenever you discuss "the US chart", you immediately run into a minefield of different charts all vying for that title. Rather arbitrarily, I will be using the Sibley chart (1776-7-4, 5:10:40 PM EST, Philadelphia, PA) as my reference chart for exact planetary positions. Different charts will, of course, have planetary positions that slightly vary from the ones I am using, but not by much. As a consequence, the precise dates for these transits may change somewhat if you use an alternate US chart, but in the grand historical scheme of the next 15 years, a few days won't make much of a difference to the main arguments here.

While affecting the nation in a general way across countless areas of our national life, it is widely considered that these Cancer planets specifically have a major impact on our economy and the role of business. Given that Pluto's transits correspond to times when we are forced to trim down and let go of inessential parts of our lives, getting us back to basics and becoming "lean and mean" again, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the economy should start looking rather shaky lately. In fact, as a campaign issue, the economy has emerged from near obscurity as late as December 2007 to the hands down, number one issue by mid January 2008, even before Pluto officially moved from Sagittarius into Capricorn. I suspect the large number of structural weaknesses in the US economy (such as the recent collapse of the housing and mortgage market; our large and continuing trade deficits with other countries such as China; the staggering amount of federal debt we've taken on due to irresponsible government spending and taxation policies, which is sustained by heavy borrowing from other countries, such as China; the decline of our manufacturing base; stagnation of real income levels for the average person, while the cost of living continues to increase; rising gas prices; etc.) will be coming to haunt us in coming years. This will naturally be a critical issue for our political leaders to tackle over the next decade or more, as Pluto none-too-subtly insists that we get our affairs in order. We've lived way beyond our means for too long, running up the "national credit card" and soaking up most of the resources and money supply of the entire planet, and I can only imagine that Pluto's response is "Enough is enough already!" Our wake up call has arrived and there's no hitting the snooze button anymore.

As if to welcome Pluto into Capricorn, financial markets around the world, already in a steady decline for several weeks, went into a nosedive on Jan 21, 2008, several days before Pluto's grand entrance. Based on foreign jitters over the weakening status of our economy and a simultaneous bank fraud of massive proportions in France, investors' confidence in the markets fell apart, fueling downturns in one market after another that circled the globe for days. It finally stabilized, more or less, later in the week as the Federal Reserve Bank started slashing interest rates and Congress began to debate a stimulus package to staunch the bleeding. Actually, I was surprised that Pluto's shakedown started "early", before its official entrance.

As Pluto starts to affect our Cancer planets, we'll probably be seeing more of these wake up moments. Let's start looking at them in detail. Please notice that with a slow moving planet like Pluto, who is prone to spend a lot of time in retrograde motion, these transits are never a simple one pass aspect, but generally are repeated 3 to 5 times total in a process that spans one to two years. Pluto takes his time...

Pluto Transits to the US Chart

The first of the Cancer planets that Pluto will connect up with is our Venus, at 3Cn06. This transit is already in orb, although it won't become exact for the first time for about a year yet. In fact, the first exact contact is on 2009-3-8, barely 6 weeks after the next president takes over the office from George Bush. The economy should be quite a handful for the new administration almost immediately. There are 4 more contacts in 2009 (on 5-2 and 12-26) and 2010 (8-9 and 10-18) before this transit settles down. Given that Saturn forms a T-square with Pluto and the US Venus during this same time frame (see below), don't expect our situation to resemble anything that Venus would call pretty.

Without giving us much time to catch our breath, Pluto next opposes our Jupiter (5Cn56). Jupiter is the natural ruler of many of the major institutions in our country (government, banking, the law, religion, higher education, etc.), so the effects of this transit may be quite widespread and not just confined to the economy. There are 3 such contacts in 2011: 1-17, 7-6 and 11-20. The Jan 17 contact is quite a remarkable chart, with 4 planets in Capricorn opposite a Cancer Moon on our Jupiter; the Sun is almost exactly on the US Pluto itself! The July 6 contact should make a powerful Fourth of July present for the country; this is also Bush's birthday. Granted, he'll no longer be in power, shielding us from further harm, but it is incredible that Bush's Neptune (5Li56) is exact-to-the-minute square both Pluto and the US Jupiter. Policies and decisions of the current Bush administration will still be affecting us in 2011. By the November connection, the 2012 presidential election season (now there's an intriguing phrase!) will be in full swing.

During the middle of the second administration yet to come, Pluto opposes our country's Sun (13Cn19). This transit challenges our nation's self-image and sense of purpose. We may be in a national funk or else itching to fight our way out of the hole we're in -- probably a little of both. Since the Sun rules the person in charge, the president him/herself may be under considerable stress, even danger. There are 5 contacts in this series: 2014-3-13, 2014-5-17, 2015-1-5, 2015-8-15 and 2015-11-1. The third contact (Jan 5) shows Pluto tightly conjunct the Sun, increasing the impact on the US Sun.

Mercury rules over the transportation and communications part of the economy. In addition, the US Mercury (24Cn12) is closely opposite the US Pluto (27Cp34). For some reason, I've always imagined this aspect as representing "the little people" vs. the bigwigs in business and government that actually run the show, a tension that runs throughout our history. There are 3 contacts here: 2020-2-27, 2020-6-25 and 2021-1-1. The Feb 27 chart is rather ominous looking to me. Saturn is not only conjunct Pluto (can you say "ouch!"?), but at 27Cp57, it's practically right on top of the US Pluto as well! The Jun 25 chart is equally dramatic. Pluto is tightly conjunct Jupiter and the asteroid Pallas, while the Sun is going over the US Jupiter and Mercury has just retrograded over our Sun. This is another presidential election year -- I suspect the stakes will be particularly high this year.

The United States is having a Pluto return in 2022. You don't often hear the phrase "Pluto return", since nobody lives that long, but I feel this is going to be an incredible turning point in our national life, or at least the start of such a turning point. Since becoming a superpower in the 20th century, the US has a reputation of throwing our weight around in the world, sometimes for noble purposes, sometimes for not so respectable reasons. This will be a time when we have to reexamine how we use our power and what our role in the world should be. Any misuse of our might at this time at any level will undoubtedly backfire on us, much as our misadventure in Iraq has. It's time to clean up our act. This return repeats 3 times in 2022, on 2-21, 7-10 and 12-28. Venus and Mercury are conjunct Pluto during the December contact (the final one), bringing added emphasis to this area.

Other Pluto Transits of Interest

In addition to this string of contacts to the US chart while Pluto is moving through Capricorn, there are a few miscellaneous aspects that I'd like to briefly mention to fill out this discussion.

Saturn and Pluto form a menacing square in 2009 and 2010. This is the same period of time as when Pluto opposes the US Venus, so Saturn makes it a T-square! Needless to say, any aspect between Saturn and Pluto is something to watch out for, especially the harsher aspects. For instance, their opposition in 2001-2002 brought us the World Trade Center attacks and the subsequent endless war on terror. Can you really expect these squares to be any easier? This aspect puts incredible pressure on the nation early in the next administration. These 3 contacts are on 2009-11-15, 2010-1-31 and 2010-8-21.

Pluto's squares with Uranus will perhaps be a little lighter that the ones with Saturn, but frankly, this is still going to be a tumultuous influence. Uranus is revolutionary overhaul, while Pluto is deep, evolutionary transformation -- and squares are just plain a pain in the butt. You need to put this group of aspects in the context of the 139 year long cycle between Uranus and Pluto if you want to understand them better. This cycle began in 1965-1966, with their conjunctions at 16-17 degrees of Virgo. More than any other aspect, these conjunctions mark the flowering of The Sixties, a period of cultural upheaval and political rebellion nearly unprecedented in our nation's history. (Nearly, except for maybe their 1850-1851 conjunctions of the previous cycle, in the decade leading up to the Civil War.) This cycle has been gradually unfolding since 1966, in a slow pendulum swing between periods of revolution and a powerful conservative reaction. These squares indicate a harsh clash of wills and agendas that will dominate the first half of the next decade, a period that should shake our society to its foundations. It could be an "exciting" time to be alive, in the sense of the old Chinese curse. Curiously, it coincides with the 2012 winter solstice time of Mayan calendar fame, so our basic cultural attitudes and assumptions may be thoroughly transformed in unforeseen ways. It could make The Sixties feel like a kindergarten playground by comparison. This square repeats itself 7 times (!) total, due to the dance of the retrograde cycles of Uranus and Pluto. These contacts are: 2012-6-24 (just after the summer solstice), 2012-9-19 (before the fall equinox), 2013-5-20, 2013-11-1, 2014-4-21, 2014-12-15 (as the Sun approaches the Galactic Center prior to the winter solstice), and finally 2015-3-16 (almost another equinox). This should be a totally fascinating show to watch! (The complete cycle doesn't finish until 2104 -- I don't expect to be around for the final act...)

When Pluto was discovered on Feb 18, 1930, it was at 17Cn45. This discovery position represents the moment in time and the position in the zodiac when this dark Pluto energy first entered human consciousness. Much of what we've been able to learn about these energies and how they affect us hasn't been all that pretty or respectable, to be quite honest about it. It's only recently, say from when he trined his discover point in 1990-1991, that we've started to get a glimpse of the more positive sides of Pluto energy, especially what I call his "spiritual warrior" qualities. In 2017, he opposes his discovery position for the first time ever since we've become aware of him. These oppositions bring all out the dualities and contradictions of how we live out our Plutos in our lives, forcing us to be more aware of these powerful energies within us. It's as though Pluto behaves like a mirror before us, showing us the darker side of ourselves and the need to redeem this half. Pluto is a powerful spiritual friend, even if most people aren't yet able to appreciate his potent transformative influences. Maybe we'll get a chance to discover a lighter or more positive side to the Dark Lord in 2017. He opposes his discovery degree 3 times this year, on 1-24, 7-25 and 11-28.