Pluto is the extremist of the zodiac and this is reflected in that planet’s extreme, elliptical orbit around the Sun. This results in Pluto’s time in each sign varying from from 12 years in Scorpio to 30 years in Taurus. Its 248 year orbit means it is a generational planet in the extreme; none of us will ever experience a whole orbit of Pluto; it will traverse only a few signs during the average person’s lifetime. And that makes this point even more clear: history may repeat itself – but it does so slowly.
And we have to rely on history to tell us how the dynamics of Pluto in each sign will manifest. The timespan between each revolution is huge; time moves on, but Pluto often brings a revolution of its own to each generation that it touches. Eliminating what passed before and clearing away conditions that have become moribund are the hallmarks of Pluto; even if the seeds of revolution were sown 248 years previously, it’s never too late for them to grow. Deep seated compulsions are much too strong to be resisted by any surface manifestation in the form of mere events.
Abuse of power, adapt or die, crime, criminals, cycle of life, dark compulsions, darkness, death, decay, destruction, elimination, empowerment, the beginning and the end, envy, evolution, explosive, fanatical, fearless, hidden treasure, inner resources, insurance, intense, intolerant, jealous, manipulative, obsessive, pollution, power, psychoanalysis, radical change, rebirth, renewal, relentless, repression, sex, subversion, survival, sustainability, taboo, transformation, turning point, underworld, violence, volcanic, wealth.
Pluto in Aries
Pluto was last in this sign between 1823-1853 and will not return to Aries until 2068. History tells us that Pluto in Aries is associated with the era that brought us the transformational (Pluto) effects of the industrial revolution (Aries) that had its origins some years earlier. During this time, increasing industrialisation transformed rural communities into urban communes and massive inequalities in the conditions of the rich and poor became a notable social issue – as did the power imbalance between workers and employers, leading to industrial tragedies, violence and exploitation.
It was an era that signalled a shift from a rural, agricultural society to the modern world we know today. That was reflected in the art and literature of the time; the works of the novelist Charles Dickens, for example, provide a social commentary on the poverty, deprivation and twists of fortune that were characteristic of the time. What conditions will prevail in 2068? The themes of power/wealth imbalances, unrest, and transformational social changes are issues that the next Pluto in Aries generation may need to confront. And as history reminds us, such transformations often come at a price.
Pluto in Taurus
Pluto last visited Taurus from 1852-1883 and will not return until 2131. Owing to Pluto’s elliptical orbit, it will spend around thirty years in this sign when it does so. Maybe our grandchildren will be around to experience this Pluto placement, as it will occupy a considerable part of their lifetime. So, what kind of experiences are they likely to see with Pluto here? History repeats itself on a regular basis – and Pluto has a habit of dredging things up from the past. As the saying goes, let history be your guide.
If we look at Pluto’s previous visit to Taurus, this marked a period that really saw the beginnings of the industrial and business-oriented society we have today. Taurus themes like property ownership, natural resources and productivity were exploited and the relationship between workers and bosses became one of imbalanced power. Many people also transformed their lives for the better. Pluto’s term in this sign changed the world forever. Themes we associate with Pluto and Taurus are likely to repeat on Pluto’s next visit to this sign.
Pluto in Gemini
Pluto was last in Gemini between 1884 and 1914. Its next ingress into this sign is in 2132, and it’s worth looking at the themes associated with plutonian energy when it expresses through a Gemini lens. The last Pluto in Gemini period led up to one of the most cataclysmic periods in history – the outbreak of the first world war. It’s the period often known by the French phrase, ‘fin de siecle’ (meaning the end of one era and the beginning of another) and it’s a phrase that accords with the deeper meaning of Pluto; something has to end to enable something else to take its place.
The Great War of 1914-1918 is often regarded as the fracture point between the old world and the modern world. It was Pluto in action – destruction of the old social order at the cost of millions of lives – and it resulted in radical change. Education became widespread and transformed social mobility. People found a voice (Gemini) and exercised power (Pluto) through extended voting rights. Society was transformed by an information and transportation revolution. When Pluto revisits Gemini, who knows what pain – and transformation – that will bring.
Pluto in Cancer
Pluto last visited Cancer from 1914 to 1938. This was a time of extraordinary upheaval – and upheaval is what Pluto does best. It was a period of extremes – and a period of war. In Europe, the idealism of Neptune gave way to Plutonic mass slaughter and loss on a cataclysmic scale. The old world was demolished, but Pluto’s task was not yet complete. Cancer represents homeland, and the rise of extreme nationalism followed the end of the First World War. Plutonic figures, like Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy, led the push towards inevitable destruction – based on a need for vengeance and absolute power.
At its most extreme, Pluto in Cancer evokes the kind of tribalism that results in a fight to the death. It’s psychologically challenging because physical survival is at stake. Pluto also has a significant financial impact and this period saw the ‘Great Depression’ (an appropriately Cancer term) with mass unemployment and extreme poverty. Pluto feeds on misery – and that, perhaps, is what needs to be taken from the Pluto in Cancer experience – Pluto’s inexhaustible appetite for purging the world of things that have outgrown their time – no matter how emotionally painful that experience may be. Pluto returns to Cancer in 2157.
Pluto in Leo
Pluto in Leo is a placement in living memory. This is the period that gave us the baby boomers, a generation born in the aftershock of the Second World War – a plutonic re-set if ever there was one. If the recent past has been made in the image of Pluto in Leo, what does that tell us of the dynamics of that placement? Pluto is transformational, but extreme.Pluto often denotes extreme wealth. So, it’s no surprise that this generation has spawned many multi-billionaires – with close ties to power. Pluto in Leo comprises both philanthropists and those who seek power to feed their own egotistical compulsions.
Fame and fortune is another element of the Pluto in Leo dynamic. Those years brought us film star royalty. Rock star royalty. Sports star royalty. To succeed because of your own talent and will-power is a core belief of the Pluto in Leo generation. The phrase, ‘the winner takes it all’ would be a good take on this. Pluto in Leo demonstrates both the power and potentials of human creativity and the self-destructive folly of human conceit. Each Pluto in Leo generation will experience a similar dynamic, however it manifests in reality.
Pluto in Virgo
Pluto last stayed in Virgo between 1956 to 1972, the long-lasting Pluto-Uranus conjunction during that period saw a combination of social revolution, technological revolution and profound change in our social structures. One of the core beliefs was that each generation should do better in life than the one before. It’s a powerful concept. The generational attitude was, at best, determined to bring about positive change – and at worst? No price was too high to get what you wanted. Pluto in Virgo is controlling and systemic.
So, what does recent (and not so recent) history have to say on this? Being in control of your mental and physical well-being. The gym generation. The diet industry. The obesity crisis. Sexual health. Reproductive control. All of these themes – and more – have informed the experiences of the Pluto in Virgo generation. During an earlier stay in this sign, between 1710-1725, Pluto in Virgo saw the beginnings of the system we know as capitalism. It’s the Pluto in Virgo system that is still in control of our lives today. Pluto has a long cycle
Pluto in Libra
Pluto was in Libra between 1971 and 1984. It gave it a depth, rage and darkness that was both shocking and liberating – particularly in the arts. The music world was shocked and invigorated by the emergence of the punk music scene. This counter-cultural movement consigned the excesses of the music industry to the dustbin of cultural history and gave us bands like The Velvet Underground. How Pluto in Libra is that name? But it was more than the music; the punk era represented a sudden and shocking break from a value system that seemed to be going nowhere.
To have come of age at that time may have been liberating, but what have been the experiences of the generation born at that time? This is the era of ‘Generation X’, a generation whose financial benefits have been more hard won than those of the earlier ‘Baby Boomer’ generation. Libra is ruled by Venus – and Venus is always associated with cash. Pluto in Libra blows up things economically, but it also transforms values too. Is decreased net worth (in exchange for a better life-work balance, a more collaborative approach to problem solving and a flexible approach to relating) a price worth paying?
Pluto in Scorpio
Scorpio’s ruling planet was in its own sign from 1983-1995 – and I suspect it may be one of the most transformational placements of all time. This is a generation that was born into a period of relative peace and prosperity, but this is Pluto – and how things change. I suspect many of the ‘Millennial’ generation, will wonder how the relative stability of their early years turned into the politically extreme, financially corrupt, environmentally degraded, militarily dangerous and generally doomed world in which they came of age. This is a generation that feels as if they have nothing to lose.
This is also the generation that will soon assume power. And they will be uncompromising when dealing with the errors made by previous generations. Of course, they won’t all be on the same side. It’s easy to forget that. But think about it. Extremes mean that no quarter is given. It’s a fight to the death. It’s terrifying to think that there is the potential for this generation to have to deal with events that could be existential. That is fundamentally Pluto and Scorpio. To sense danger. To know, instinctively, what must be done to mitigate risk – no matter how hard the task. And to transform seemingly impossible situations.
Pluto in Sagittarius
Pluto in Sagittarius places the planet of extremes in the sign of belief systems. What could possibly go wrong? From 1995-2008, Pluto blew apart many articles of faith. It’s recent history and many of you reading this will be aware of terrorist acts predicated on perceptions of injustice and long-held grievances – and justified on the basis of religious or other ideological beliefs. You will also be aware of wars declared, ostensibly in the name of ‘freedom’, but underpinned by wealth, oil and power. Those who want the oil – and have the wealth – have the power. When Pluto is in Sagittarius, it seems a lot can – and does – go wrong.
The events of that time may have transformed the way we think about the world. Will this generation find themselves polarised by the same set of dynamics that rocked the world at the time that they were born? As I write this, the Pluto in Sagittarius generation are young; some are now young adults, while the youngest of the cohort are still at school. They seem to be maturing at a time when many want the freedom to be extreme. Pluto cycles take a long time to play out, but the dynamics of ‘extremism’ will play out in many forms during each cycle.
Pluto in Capricorn
Pluto has been in Capricorn since 2008 and will eventually leave for good in 2024. Pluto did a great job of blowing up the world’s economy in 2008 – and so it has continued.This is the placement of Plutocracy. During this time, the rich and powerful have become demonstrably more so. Extreme wealth – and the gap between the super-rich and the rest of us mere mortals – seems to have grown exponentially. And Pluto being Pluto, it doesn’t seem to have gone well. All of the usual suspects appear to be in play: fraud, corruption and abuse of power and resources in all forms.
What we have learned is this: Plutocrats will do anything to stay in power. It’s a placement that’s descriptive of what economists term ‘late-stage capitalism’ – the stage where power and wealth are maintained not by genuine entrepreneurship, but by manipulation, exploitation and greed. The ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ is eating us all; the book (2007) and the film (2013) captured the spirit of the age. This will affect the generation born during this time in ways we cannot comprehend, but one thing is clear; Pluto in Capricorn has taught us that the way we live now is unsustainable. It’s existential for all of us. Plutocrats take note.
Pluto in Aquarius
Pluto makes its first ingress into this sign in 2023 and will not leave until 2044. Stand by for a revolution – or a whole series of them. After all, it’s what happened last time Pluto entered this sign. A quick historical review reveals that the dynamics associated with Pluto in Aquarius shift power away from the establishment and towards the people. Pluto was last in Aquarius between 1777-1798; revolutionary times. The US fought for and gained independence. The French declared the First Republic and the industrial revolution happened too.
All revolutions have their victims. Slavery was abolished in the UK during a Pluto transit through this sign, but industrial workers found themselves enslaved by the new working practices of the industrial age. Revolution does not guarantee peace. Power is always contested – sometimes with a degree of violence. Will this happen this time around? I suspect it will, one way or another. A green industrial revolution is as likely as those that involve social unrest. The power of technology may be the thing to watch out for. Beware of the technological Plutocrat…
Pluto in Pisces
Pluto in Pisces will arrive in 2043 and will remain in this sign until 2068, so let’s look at history to assess how Pluto in Pisces may transform our world. The last visit of Pluto to Pisces saw the emergence of the ‘Romantic’ period of literature, music and art that explored the profound connection between imagination and emotion, idealism and passion – and their impact upon the individual soul. The Romantic poets – Wordsworth, Byron, Keats and Shelley, the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, and the works of the artist JMW Turner combined the imaginative with turbulent – and often violent – emotional impact.
The ‘old world’ (Europe) was reshaped through the Napoleonic wars; the vision of one man was being expressed with uncompromising force. A new technology – the power (Pluto) of steam (Pisces) – would create the industrialised world we know today. During an earlier visit of Pluto to Pisces (1552-1579), Galileo Galilei pushed our understanding of the universe beyond earthly bounds and the constraints of religious orthodoxy. Pluto’s visits to Pisces transforms our world by seeing things differently. It’s a time of powerful – sometimes ruthless – visionaries – and exceptional, lasting change.
© Sara Shipman