The Pluto Return of the United States

We are approaching the exact Pluto Return of the United States on February 22, 2022. I thought it might be helpful to share the astrological perspective on what we are currently living through and the message the cosmos is giving us for how to get through it.

If this context is helpful for you, great!  If not, carry on without it.

Remember that astrology is the study of the correlation of the movements of the planets with what happens here on earth.  The planets are not controlling what happens to us.  Astrology is just describing what the cosmic landscape says about the themes at play here on earth.  We have free will to operate within that landscape and choose our own path.

What is a Pluto Return?

In astrology, a planetary “return” means that a planet is “returning” to the same place in the sky where it was when someone or something was born.  A “return” symbolizes the end of one cycle and the start of another.  The theme of the cycle is determined by the theme of the planet.  You may have heard of a “Saturn Return” which starts a new cycle of responsibility and maturity (~ every 30 years).  We also have “Jupiter Returns” which start new cycles of growth and development (every ~12 years).

It takes Pluto over 240 years to make one full cycle, so humans don’t have Pluto Returns, but nations do.

Pluto’s signature theme is complete transformation through death and re-birth.  It’s definitely the most intense cycle of them all.

Pluto Returns have been associated with the fall of empires. Not all empires fall when they go through their Pluto Return, but they all go through some type of “considerable upheaval”. (Ray Grasse)

This year, Pluto will return to EXACTLY where it was when the United States was “born” in 1776, but Pluto transformations take a long time.  We kicked the process off in 2008 when Pluto first re-entered the sign of Capricorn (which, not coincidentally, was when we elected our first black president), and we won’t be on the other side of it until Pluto moves into Aquarius in 2024.  (sorry!)

FYI –  Our Pluto Return will be “exact” (at 27 degrees and 33 minutes of Capricorn) three times this year. The first time on February 22nd.  It retrogrades back over the same spot on July 11th and makes its final hit on December 28th.  These dates use the assumption that the US was “born” when the declaration of independence was signed on July 4th, 1776.  The birth of a nation is kind of hard to pin down so don’t take the exact dates too literally.  Net net – we are in it.

As mentioned, Pluto’s signature theme is intense transformation through death and re-birth. All planets have light and dark sides to their themes.  The light side of Pluto is the capacity within all of us to transform into something better.  The potential for growth and evolution is a good thing!

The dark side of Pluto is the stuff that needs to be transformed – the shadow side of human nature: crime, deception, racism, manipulation, abuse of power, sexual abuse, megalomania.  Pluto stuff also includes the dark feelings that drive us to act in shady ways: shame, resentment, jealousy, obsession, phobias, taboos, addiction.

Pluto transformations often start by revealing the “demons” that have been hiding in the shadows. This might be about subconscious feelings becoming conscious or dark secrets being revealed.  Then we have to face those feelings and actions, deal with them, and make transformational changes in our lives. This often involves a death – the death of an identity, a perspective, or a part of your life.

If we face and “kill” the demons, we can move forward as a better more evolved person/nation.  If we resist facing the demons (deny the truth, avoid the feelings) and don’t change our behavior on our own, something or someone will intervene and make that transformation for us…which is a much harder path.  Don’t resist facing the demons!

Facing the demons is HARD.  You have to be vulnerable, admit where you went wrong, forgive yourself, and forgive others in order to release and heal.  That is the opportunity we are presented with when Pluto comes around.

As mentioned, people don’t have Pluto returns, but Pluto can interact with other planets in your birth chart.  When that happens, you will likely have some kind of death/rebirth/transformation in your life.

Pluto transits are often described as a “dark night of the soul” or the “hero’s journey”.

What Does the Pluto Return Mean for the United States of America?

As Pluto revisits the place it was when our country was born, all of the shadows related to the founding of our nation are coming up to be revisited.  We are being reminded, in a painful way, that we have not made as much progress as we thought.

We are being asked to face the darkness and heal it so we can move forward as a better nation in this next cycle.

Pluto is returning to the sign of Capricorn, so our biggest transformation themes are around Capricorn stuff like financial systems, government, power, and law.  Since Capricorn is an earth sign, issues related to the environment are also in play.  (This might remind you of the Pluto/Saturn conjunction in January 2020 because Saturn and Capricorn have similar themes and Pluto is at the center of all of it.  It’s all just one big, long, transformation we are going through.)

What are some examples of Capricorn shadowy stuff that needs to be confronted and transformed? Hmm….

    • Our country was founded by rich, white men who set up a government that only they could participate in.
    • We stole lands from indigenous people, built wealth on the backs of African slaves, and continue to exploit the land we live on.
    • We were founded on ideals of freedom and independence, but many have taken those ideas to the extreme and value individualism over the wellbeing of all.
    • Our financial and political systems have created a huge economic divide that continues to grow and breeds corruption.

I am sure I don’t need to illustrate how Pluto is revealing our darkness to us, but I will list a few examples:

    • We are in the middle of an intense culture war that is being fueled by dark, shadowy people for profit and power.
    • School boards are dealing with irate parents who don’t want any discussion of racism, equity, the holocaust, diversity, or inclusion taught in schools. (File under…resisting the demons.)
    • Anti-Semitism is at historically high levels. Terrifying.
    • We are seeing more extreme weather and natural disasters as a result of the “exploiting the land” stuff. (aka Climate Change)
    • A global pandemic might be nature’s way of revealing more of our darkness AND pushing us to transform and find new ways of living. (File under…the harder path we did not choose to take on our own.)

I read an article in the NY Times this week titled The Dissenters Trying to Save Evangelicalism From Itself which had a great passage about the shadows we are fighting (not just in the Evangelical world):

“The age of the autonomous individual, the age of the narcissistic self, the age of consumerism and moral drift has left us with bitterness and division, a surging mental health crisis and people just being nasty to one another.”

“The proximate cause of all this disruption is Trump. But that is not the deepest cause. Trump is merely the embodiment of many of the raw wounds that already existed in parts of the white evangelical world: misogyny, racism, racial obliviousness, celebrity worship, resentment and the willingness to sacrifice principle for power.

Politically, we are in a very dangerous place.  Recent events go far beyond the normal ego, power-seeking stuff we always see in politics:

    • Our last president fired anyone who didn’t agree with him, attempted to overturn a legitimate election with lies (or delusions), incited political violence, and illegally destroyed government documents by eating them or flushing them down the toilet (wtf!!???).
    • The Republican National Committee just declared a violent insurrection “legitimate political discourse” so they can appeal to their base and stay in power.
    • Half of the senate has said they plan to block EVERYTHING for the next three years.
    • An extraordinary number of restrictive voting laws were passed in 2021.
    • It is very possible that this morally corrupt man, who embodies our raw wounds, will be president again.

In 2020, the United States was downgraded from a democracy to an anocracy – “a political system which is neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic and is inherently unstable.” ( The Biden administration restored us to a democracy in 2021, but we are still on thin ice.

From the Minnesota Post:

“Full democracies rarely have civil wars. And full autocracies rarely have civil wars. It’s the ones that are in between that are particularly at risk.”

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace talks about the dangers of the polarization we see today:

“The United States is the only advanced Western democracy to have faced such intense polarization for such an extended period. The United States is in uncharted and very dangerous territory”

“Within the broader pool of perniciously polarized democracies…..a plurality have descended into authoritarianism, and even those that depolarize face significant risks of repolarizing in the future.”

We are, no doubt, in a dark night of the soul.

Is it a coincidence that things are escalating to levels unseen in our lifetime while we are still reeling from the extraordinary planetary alignments of 2020 and at the exact time of the Pluto Return of the United States? Or is Astrology real?  (See why I can’t quit it!)

Other Astrological Themes of the Moment

At the end of 2020, The Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter brought hope of a new era of disciplined (Saturn) growth (Jupiter) around ideas, communication, and social connections (Air sign themes).  These first 20 years the growth are supposed to be in Aquarian themes of freedom, innovation, science, technology, facts, and humanitarianism.  (Sounds lovely, right?)

But there is a dark side of Aquarius we were hoping we do not slip into – extremism and revolution without critical thinking behind it and mad scientists who are so sure they are right that they lose track of the humanity behind their ideas and become opinionated, selfish, and erratic. (Not so lovely.)

We are starting to see glimmers of growth in Aquarian themes around us (light and dark), but for the past year, we have been stuck in this tension of a Saturn/Uranus square which astrologers say is keeping us from making a lot of progress in any direction.

Some astrologers describe this tension as a battle between old versus new – conservative ideas (Saturn) of keeping things the same versus progressive ideas of making change for something better (Uranus).  Others focus on the battle between being “overly worried” about staying safe (Saturn) versus individual freedom (Uranus).  The planetary themes can be interpreted in many ways, and there are astrologers on both ends of the political spectrum.

Any way you look at it, this tension is manifesting in extreme polarization around the world. (These are global planetary happenings.)  This specific Saturn/Uranus tension stays with us through the end of the year and gets especially heated for our US mid-term elections. (Buckle up, stay engaged, and vote!)

How Do We Get Through This?

These are big, complicated problems that will take many, many years to resolve.  Astrology can’t tell us what will happen.  We have free will to choose our own path.  But the message Pluto brings is that we must transform to survive.

The threat for survival is matched with the opportunity for reform, redemption and rebirth. We must be willing to make sacrifices and reforms to protect ourselves and assure the existence and status of the world’s greatest democracy in history. We have to surrender the ego, dissolve the threats to one another, forgive ourselves and one another, and then reform and rebuildRaymond Merriman, 2022 Forecast

But how exactly do we do that?

One of the most helpful things I have heard from astrologers is guidance on how to best resolve these Saturn/Uranus square tensions we are living through now – our extreme polarization (old vs new, safety vs freedom, etc.).

When two planets are in a tense angle with conflicting, seemingly opposite themes, the answer is not to get pulled completely into one side or another.

The magic is in the balance between the themes/perspectives. We need to find the best expressions of each and build something completely new – something so new, we can’t even imagine it today.

We have to let go of the idea that everything we believe is right and the other side is 100% wrong.  We have to listen to each other more, stop yelling at each other, and be open to finding a path down the middle.  We all have to be willing to experience the “death” of what we believe to be true or who we believe we are before we can be reborn into something new.

(We still need to take down the corrupt, manipulators who have been consumed by their own darkness – unless they read my blog post and decide to face their shadow and transform!)

Another helpful thing that I was reminded of by the amazing Richard Tarnas on the latest episode of the Astrology Hub Podcast (which I HIGHLY recommend you watch or listen to if you are into Astrology in any way.)

It feels like we have so little control over these issues that are so big and systematic. If you are reading my blog post, you are probably not a member of congress, the President of the United States, a television news anchor, the CEO of a huge corporation, or Oprah.

But we are all an equal part of this big, interconnected cosmos.  Every interaction we have makes a difference (even our thoughts!).  The conversations you have with people in your life, the work you do on your own shadow “stuff”, what you post on social media, the information you choose to consume that might shift your perspective, the way you treat your neighbors, cuddles with your kids… all have an impact on the broader consciousness.

None of us can save the world on our own.  But we are all in this together and we all have a role to play.

In Tarnas’ words, every step we take to live more consciously, compassionately, and courageously will help us ALL evolve to a better place.

If you would like to read more about the Pluto Return of the United States or the Astrology of 2022 in general. These were my favorite sources:

Changing of the Gods

There is a 10-part astrology documentary series being released on 2/2/2022 that explores the question: Is there a correlation between human history and the movement of the planets?

If this is your thing, check it out and sign up to watch FREE at

They are releasing one episode per day that is available to watch for 24 hours before the next one is released.  I heard there will be a marathon over a weekend before the last episode is released and a way to pay to purchase the series and watch it later at your leisure (those details are NOT on the website so TBD on that!)

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