The Impact of the USA’s Pluto Return: Snapshot
Do you feel a deep sense that our world is in some kind of cosmic quicksand? That our whole way of life seems to be slipping away or sinking down out of sight? That our institutions seem too inept or self-involved to do anything about it?
Most citizens of the USA feel a pervasive, profound sense of confusion, frustration, and fear at a rare level. We have a deadly and mysterious virus that impacts people very differently. We have a politics that, regardless of one’s affiliation, is uniformly ugly and getting uglier. We have deepening economic calamity with no end in sight. Above all, we have uncertainty.
The United States of America is nearing its first Pluto return, and this post will reveal its effects on the country and its citizens. I will also assert that this Pluto return is a global phenomenon because it is simultaneously the Pluto return of the Industrial Economy as well, so all countries and peoples are affected. Here are some highlights:
- How the USA’s 2020 general election has a much larger importance than its seems—and why who “wins” will have little significance.
- Why President Trump serves as a catalyst for profound change in the USA.
- Why many of these same dynamics will play out in all industrial economies, regardless of their politics.
- How the consumerist economy’s glorification of material things will lose importance.
- What is the spiritual meaning of the uncertainty, fear, and anger that many people feel.
- Why Health “care” will (finally) change radically, involuntarily, into a less capitalistic system.
- How we feed ourselves will become drastically slimmed down and more nourishing.
- Why the power-obsessed political system and government structures will be transformed beyond recognition.
How we’re at a turning point: what happens will depend on how we take responsibility for ourselves individually and collectively.
The Impact of the USA’s Pluto Return: Detailed Discussion
Rectified Birth Date
- 4 July 1776 with Pluto at 27°33’08” Capricorn Retrograde
2022 Pluto returns (all 27°33’08” Capricorn)
- 20 Feb 2022 14:27ET first return (direct motion)
- 11 July 2022 15:40ET second return (retrograde motion)
- 28 Dec 2022 10:00ET third return (direct motion, final return of the cycle)
General Background on Pluto Returns
When a planet returns to the same sign and degree it occupied when a person or country was born, that planet is said to “return.” For example, your birthday is called your solar return because the Sun returns to the degree of the sign it was when you were born. All planets have returns.
All planetary returns symbolize the simultaneous death of the cycle that finished and the birth of the new cycle. Every death is a birth, and every birth is a death. You can forecast the energies and themes of the new cycle in great detail by charting planetary positions of the return and comparing them to those of the birth chart. I will do this in future posts.
In 2020, no human has had a Pluto return, but redwoods and countries may have them. The USA will have its first Pluto return in 2022. As with most returns of the social planets (Jupiter and Saturn) and transpersonals (Chiron, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto), there are often three returns, one in direct motion, one in retrograde motion, and a final one in direct motion. In these cases, the return is kind of like a play in three acts, with the first setting the theme, the second offering a counterpoint theme, and the third being the definitive one.
The symbolism of the Pluto return is uniquely powerful in itself since Pluto’s key symbolism is regeneration through death and rebirth, so Pluto’s energy maps especially strongly the symbolism of the return.
Drilling Down into Pluto Returns
Pluto’s energy manifests subtly, slowly, and secretly to destabilize and decay that which no longer serves. It doesn’t destroy the structure through fire or lightning; it destabilizes through termites. Covid-19 is a very apt example of the manifestation of Pluto’s destabilization of social structures. Look at how it ripples out and is transforming commuting, home structure, business real estate, retail, social discourse…
For me, Pluto’s action begs a spiritual question, as “Who/What “decides” what serves and what doesn’t?” If you believe in a god, that god would make that judgment. If you don’t, it can be helpful to think in terms of evolution, which progresses as a function of myriad interactions that naturally “select” traits of successful living things. The evolutionary process disregards or deselects traits that no longer serve. So when Pluto returns, energies that are present in the country that no longer serve it will decay while others that continue to serve will be untouched and strengthened because they are no longer weakened by the things that die. Pluto is a master gardener that way.
The birth chart describes the person’s/country’s spiritual path, and it sets the context for the energies that endure. Another important thing to realize about returns is that energies that served during one cycle may not serve in another. Each cycle is a dynamic process, a different chapter. In connection with this, the country’s people will have identified with and valued those energies that helped the country to “succeed” during the old cycle, but many of these things are counterproductive in the new cycle.
This is one of Pluto’s most difficult challenges: it forces us to let go of things that served us in the past but no longer do. Most of us, when we are confronted with giving up something useful or precious, fight tooth and nail to keep it. The wisdom of Pluto is that our personal wants are not the most relevant thing in terms of the universe. What is important is where we are in our spiritual journey.
Pluto is a timeless energy, and it is relentless. Whether we want to or not, we will end up parting with the beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve us. Our only choice is when and how much pain we will create by resisting Pluto’s energy. Astrology has enabled me to recognize how these energies are manifesting, so I may interact with them with less friction. I have learned to let go with less resistance. Pluto is prominent in my birth chart, so I’ve experienced its energy in many parts of my life.
Pluto tells you what things must go, but it whispers. It shakes you in shivers in the depth of night. Something precious is challenged or symbolically lost, usually something you think you really depend on. When you recognize the signs, you may give up that thing proactively, before it is destroyed. Pluto gives you several chances to recognize it and to learn.
And here is another fascinating thing; usually, it is not the *thing* itself that you must release; rather it is what the thing symbolizes to you that you must let go.
In summary, Pluto returns are times of reckoning that manifest gradually. After Pluto’s last quarter (with itself), the country will increasingly feel the pressure to reevaluate the parts of people’s collective life on which Pluto is acting. This pressure will continue to increase until the return culminates. For example, the USA’s birth chart has Pluto at 27°34 Capricorn, so its last quarter was 27°34 Libra, which occurred in September 1983 (the last direct motion transit).
The Industrial Economy’s Pluto Return
At risk of sounding like another egotistical “American,” I think that the USA’s becoming a nation at the Industrial Revolution’s inflection point made the country its poster child. The USA epitomizes the idealistic exploitative capitalistic impulse. In this, the country had a Plutonian transformational power on the world. So the USA’s deepening travails will affect many other countries, not just economically, but philosophically, if one can call exploitative capitalism a philosophy.
And consumerism is the handmaiden of the Industrial Economy whose output is producing products. And since the mid-twentieth century, supply of most products has outstripped demand, so producers try to drive more demand. This has resulted in more convenience, packaging, and pollution.
So it can be useful to consider the USA as a kind of proxy for the Industrial Economy, which began around the time when Pluto last entered Capricorn.
List of Structures in the USA That Will Be Transformed
This list is very much open to interpretation, so please regard it as illustrative. I have learned that Pluto tells you what is on the block; you just have to listen. The things that aren’t working will go. So I look and notice what energies and actions are producing the most friction in the country?
- First, consumerism. When I researched the Industrial Revolution chapters of The Social Channel (my second book), I was struck by how making products mechanically had transformed human society at every level. Before the Industrial Revolution, we had the Agrarian Economy in which we focused on growing food, and before it, we had the Hunter-Gatherer “economy.” Machines now produce much more than we can consume, and this fact signals the end of the industrial era.
- The end of historical eras is rarely pretty because they all have entrenched power structures of human organization that developed in the old era. Our political, business, and religious structures are dependent on the Industrial Economy’s values and organizational principles. So many business and political structures will have to go.
- Although I find many of the things that President Trump has said and done odious at the personal level, I appreciate his role in the larger scheme of things: I observe that Trump epitomizes a system that only values power; I have seen the progressive centralization and standardization of political power since the mid 20th century. I think he serves as a catalyst for the transformation of the USA’s political system.
- The end of historical cycles always features corruption. Today, we have business and political corruption at every level. I’ve lost track of how many Illinois governors have gone to jail. The pharma companies in bed with their supposed regulators. Environmental regulation is a mockery. Poisoning the food supply to increase profits. The list is endless.
- The old structures are the root causes for today’s social and political battlegrounds such as the distribution of wealth and, above all, the exploitative attitude towards resources and people. In business, executives and marketing teams regularly refer to people as “wallets.”
In summary, I see that, in the USA and in other industrialized (“rich”) countries, the political structures will face increasing pressure. Few will survive in their current forms.
- Humans and other primates with relatively large brains are always looking to grow their power; exploitation is part of our nature and a relative constant. What has changed during the Industrial Economy is our mechanization of everything, including exploitation. Hence, we use mass communication, psychology, and neuroscience (marketing, advertising, entertainment-as-advertising, behavioral economics) to manipulate people on a mass scale (marketers: “create demand”).
- The USA’s exploitative attitude also applies to our treatment of Earth and its animals and plants. We have lost our reverence to the universe, to nature. We are currently an environmental disaster to Earth. All of us participate in this exploitation in various ways based on what we buy. Pre-packaged anything means packaging and trash that will outlive our great-grandchildren and beyond. Our cars and manufactured goods. The computer I’m using to write this post.
My Responsibility—and Yours
“Transformation” is a great concept—if it goes your way. If it doesn’t, you’re riffed (cast out).
Another thing that doing charts has taught me is to have a more detached view of my life and world. The fact is that 100s of species (at least) are vanishing from Earth every year. Whether “human activity” is the cause or not, this means that our environment is undergoing tremendous stress. I am accountable for doing what I can to lessen my impact—and so are you. If we do not take responsibility, our garden, Earth, may well become uninhabitable by us.
We are also responsible for the commons. Humans have exploited and destroyed the commons worldwide, and we must stop this. It may already be too late, but we have to choose: do we keep opening Champagne on the Titanic, or do we try and organize the lifeboats? I think it’s the effort that counts, and I intend to die knowing I did everything I could to be responsible.
Here are some things I’m doing right now in case they are useful for you in taking action in your community.
I don’t know about you, but I have learned that trusting political and business “representatives” is risky. Our business and political organizations are manipulative and corrupt, and we are responsible for holding them to account. That means not trusting them. It means verifying their actions. Let them earn our trust.
If we are not engaged in this transformation, it can go against us. Mechanization of power and control—The Matrix or some such—may well be our future. Pluto’s energy is about transformation, change, but that doesn’t mean that the effect will be agreeable to us. More on this at Privacy and Autonomy in the Digital Age.
If we do not take responsibility, others will, and the “others” may be machines and controls that decide for us. “Freedom” only exists alongside responsibility.
- If this post resonates with you, think seriously about letting go of your attachment to “the way things are.” Most of us are invested in the current system in various ways. Realize that many parts of it are decaying, and we cannot prevent it.
- We stand at a turning point in history. Imagine how Christopher Columbus’s crew felt this sickening dread, perhaps mixed with quiet excitement, as they approached the edge of the known world, as they went off their map. For whatever reason, you and I are at a similar point: many of the “sacred cows” of our country’s structures must be questioned. Pluto—and history—takes no prisoners. We must figure out what works and what doesn’t. And that means rising above pat “arguments” that were created by other people. Rethink everything. I accept everything as something for my individual consideration.
- Since Pluto works slowly and deeply, it will be more adaptive for us to take the long view, to reevaluate what we really need, not only individually but socially. Consider everyone—really.
- Think about de-investing in careers in systems that are producing the most friction in the USA today: examples are the healthcare “system,” the financial “system,” industries that produce the most trash (fast food, packaged goods), etc.
- If you are in a business that tries to “influence” people via mechanized tools, take a hard look at what you are doing. Examples are software, hardware, advertising, and marketing.
- Consider that the USA’s political system is going to change to the core. I’m not talking about an election or a party; the change will be deeper. Observe how the value of all structures is power. Imagine political organizations that truly served people and abided by people’s will. Today most political figures spend a large part of their terms preparing for reelection. This suggests to me that they are primarily serving themselves, and their constituents come second—or even further down the priority list. They advertise and influence at every opportunity they can afford.
- Imagine that every product had a disposal fee build into its price. For example, bottled beverages would be unaffordable unless they had biodegradable packaging.
You can release much of the friction and fear you may be experiencing by realizing that it is serving a purpose. This can help you find meaning in the destabilization we are experiencing and will continue to experience for quite some time.
- If you are in health “care,” agriculture, or food production prepare for profound change. The current attitude and practice of exploiting people is likely to change your industry beyond recognition. Part of the reason the USA is facing such high coronavirus deaths is that a large portion of our fellow citizens is officially obese, and much of this development is the result of behaviors that multiple sectors have actively encouraged. This lack of health will need to be addressed to the core.