In a PBS News Hour interview last week, former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was commenting on the current administration’s handling of the National Security Council when she said, “Disruption is not a bad thing for bureaucracy. Destruction, however, is very dangerous.” (1)
Had Albright been an astrologer she might have said, “A little Uranus (disruption) is okay to shake up Capricorn structures and authority, but Pluto (destruction) is very dangerous.”
Is the American bureaucracy being destroyed?
Pluto in Capricorn
Pluto entered Capricorn in early 2008, although it spent some time retrograde in Sagittarius before going direct in November 2008. Pluto will not leave Capricorn until 2024.
If you don’t remember Pluto changing signs because you were hiking Mt. Everest without your cell phone, you might recall some of its effects, which arrived remarkably soon after the ingress into Capricorn. The first thing you might have noticed is that you owed more on your house than it was worth as the value of houses in the United States collapsed after the mortgage-backed securities market imploded. (2)
Soon after the United States’ mortgage market collapsed, the domino effect liquidated other financial institutions and spread the financial crisis to the global markets. The domino was stopped in the U.S. by government intervention and the Federal Reserve. (3)
Capricorn is the 10th sign of the zodiac and represents our social consciousness. It’s associated with career and reputation and seeks positions of status and authority. Capricorn and its ruler Saturn make up the rules and are most comfortable in institutional settings where levels of expertise and experience are clearly defined, such as government, banking, universities, and the military. In these places, you are hierarchically defined and have clear rules for “moving up the ladder.” You know your place, the place of others, and the rules of engagement.
Pluto as destroyer wasted no time in leveling Capricorn structures. If we dig deeper into the meaning of Pluto, we have to accept that its ultimate purpose is evolution, which is gradual until it develops enough momentum for a big shift that becomes obvious when the planet transits into a new sign — in this case, the perceived destruction in the external world of Capricorn.
Perception is the key here. Pluto didn’t destroy the housing market; the housing market was built on an unstable foundation that Pluto revealed by doing its work. Pluto simply shook the floor and the house collapsed. Pluto does that.
After the global financial crisis of 2008, a cascade of Pluto-in-Capricorn situations involving authority and structure arose around the globe, aided by Uranus moving into Aries in 2011 and Saturn moving into Sagittarius in 2015. These situations included the role of government surveillance, the forced removal of authority, the role of non-elected players in global politics such as groups and corporations, mass human migration, and the composition of nations, such as the attempt to limit immigration of certain groups.
The U.S. in particular has struggled since its founding with the role of federal authority versus individual, local, and state authority. Like beauty, the role and reach of authority are often in the eye of the beholder. When we complain about a particular energy, we are often complaining about one polarity of that energy.
Stereotypes, for example, are rejected by those receiving the negative side of the stereotype. Positive stereotypes, in contrast, are often embraced. The challenge is to reject all stereotypes, positive and negative, as they are equally unearned.
The overreach of authority is labeled “authoritarianism,” defined by Merriam-Webster as “of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people.” (4)
It’s easy to say we dislike authoritarianism until it enacts a law or rule that we deem necessary for the benefit of society as a whole. Yet our various personalities have differing viewpoints on when authoritarian energy is needed. One person’s authoritarianism is another person’s justice.
Capricorn Evolution in the United States
The Pluto transit of Capricorn is particularly relevant for the U.S. If we use the signing of the Declaration of Independence as our birthday, it has natal Pluto at 27° Capricorn. (5)
People don’t have Pluto returns, since the planet takes 248 years to return to its natal position. But the United States will soon turn 248 and will have a Pluto return in 2022-2023.
To provide an example of Pluto evolution: Slavery existed in the U.S. from 1619 to 1865 — 246 years, and a few years shy of an entire Pluto cycle! (6) And where was Pluto during the slavery cycle?
Pluto was in Taurus, which rules the physical body, property, and assets. Our Pluto-in-Taurus evolution taught us (hopefully) not to own people. Pluto in Taurus also saw the U.S. develop into the materially prosperous nation it is today.
If our Pluto-in-Taurus cycle taught us about property and assets, what is the Pluto-in-Capricorn cycle teaching us?
The U.S. was founded as the result of a break with authority fostered by strong idealism, as represented by the natal Moon in Aquarius. Yet at the same time the country condoned slavery, a clear disconnect with those ideals.
After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it took 89 years (close to an 84-year Uranus cycle) to end slavery, 144 years (close to a 165-year Neptune cycle) to allow women the vote, and 100 years to establish civil rights.
In 1776, the U.S. parted from perceived authoritarianism, but apparently the habit wasn’t quite out of our national system. As Pluto returns to its natal position 248 years later, it may represent the culmination of the original Aquarian ideals.
In 2015, Pluto at 13° Capricorn opposed the U.S. natal Sun in Cancer. Cancer is about personal consciousness, in contrast to the social consciousness symbolized by Capricorn. Cancer, associated with mothering and emotions, ultimately wants to belong. As transiting Pluto in Capricorn opposed its natal Sun in Cancer, the U.S. once again debated the issue of who “belonged” in the country. This is not the first time this discussion has arisen in the U.S., a country populated by immigration. (7)
Prior to its 2022 return in the U.S. horoscope, Pluto will first hook up with Jupiter and Saturn in 2020 for an enhanced impact in Capricorn. We will have more Capricorn before we have less.
2020 lines up with the next U.S. presidential election. If 2016 was disruptive, 2020 may be the destruction that Madeleine Albright fears. The U.S. may be moving into a different style of government, possibly even different borders, as Capricorn likes to set boundaries.
If Pluto does create destruction in governmental structures for the U.S. and other nations, what might be next?
Pluto’s Next Stop
When Pluto leaves Capricorn in 2024, it will move into Aquarius. It will take until 2040 for Pluto to make it to 27°Aquarius, the degree of the U.S. natal Moon. By this time, the full potential of the U.S. Moon-in-Aquarius idealism may reach fruition.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the planets Uranus and Neptune traveled together, first in Sagittarius, then in Capricorn. There’s a generation born between 1990-1995 that has these two planets conjunct in Capricorn. These individuals are charged with the Herculean task of rebuilding and recreating what Pluto in Capricorn is leveling.
Uranus and Neptune conjunct in Capricorn created disruptions but also idealizations of the structures of society. This group of youngsters experienced several societal and economic disruptions — the dot.com bubble, the Asian financial crisis, the rise of non-state regimes (e.g., ISIS), 9/11, and then a global financial crisis.
Hints of Pluto in Aquarius abound in such things as the rise of hand-held technologies, the breakdown of strict gender roles, crowd funding, and group consciousness through social media. While Pluto may change signs with a great show of drama, energies generally don’t change overnight. Aquarius is already with us.
Astrologers are often associated with predictions of doom and gloom, but doom and gloom are not truly the outcome of any astrological aspect. Astrology is about cycles. How any energy manifests is dependent upon what has occurred in all the prior concurrent cycles of our lives. In other words, we reap what we sow.
While former U.S. Secretary of State Albright fears the destruction of government protocol, and maybe government itself, she may not be noticing the trends of the future.
Do we really want to hang on to systems that have not evolved? Do we hang on simply out of habit and training? Letting go is not easy and is often forced upon us from the outside, and that outside force is often Pluto, whose actions bring us to a necessary regeneration.
(1) PBS News Hour
Bio: Angela Slezak enjoys data and patterns of all sorts, from art to astrology, which she has studied for the past 30 years. The global changes occurring today are particularly fascinating and astrology has an important place in helping us to understand how our patterns and thoughts lead to the present energy. Read her work at Ohio Astrology.