Across all walks of life what was once an obscure question — “What is going on in this world?” — has become more insistent in recent days. In noticing many hard-to-articulate feelings and overall confusion in myself and people in my life, I reached out to some astrology friends and colleagues to collect some of their impressions.
The topic is the strangeness of this time of Pluto’s back-and-forth movement between Capricorn and Aquarius. Brian Clark’s recent piece, “Cusps and Liminality,” served as an introduction — please do read it if you missed it.
Pluto brings extremes; to borrow from Frederick Woodruff, “the qualities and organic tone we associate with the sign are amplified to a startling degree.” One pronounced visceral experience for me is the immediate change of state brought by fresh air. Sometimes, when I’m close to suffocation by the weight of the world’s dark and desperate suffering, going into the air brings immediate relief. Often a slight adjustment, even looking out a different window, will markedly change my perspective — heralds of the imminent and longed-for ingress of Pluto from earth to air.
In addressing the current confusion, Aerin Fogel’s sense of “directionality” in this in-between-time resonated with me: the Capricorn mountain goat is climbing, its movement upward; though still goal oriented, Aquarius is not about direction, but connection. “How do we go from something that we have been working towards for the last 15 years and suddenly it’s not about direction but it’s about connection — about witnessing something besides ourselves?”
She also describes Pluto at 29° Capricorn — i.e., the anaretic degree — as the “quantum state, neither a wave nor a particle. The outcome depends very much on whatever we do, how we interact with the energy of this time.” (This idea echoes the quality of fatedness associated with the last degree of any sign.)
Aerin also spoke to the long transit of Pluto squaring the nodes as contributing to our confusion: a “psychological pause is happening for people while things continue to take place in the world around us.”
Frederick Woodruff also considers the 29th degree: “Experience has taught me that planets at the 29th degree have a near-manic power … If the zero point of a sign is raw and filled with limitless potential, the final 29th degree has an effulgent, near-to-bursting expression about it.”
Pluto first came to 29° Capricorn in February 2023 and retrograded back to that degree in mid-June. At that time, Frederick wrote: “Pluto returning to Capricorn is akin to the penultimate moment in The War of the Worlds, where the aliens are in a balls-out crusade to wipe out whatever structures are resistant to their mission.”
Here is his sage advice: “On the personal level, there’s only one way to accommodate Pluto as it loiters in the late degrees of the sign — poking at and disturbing the shaky yet seemingly stable ‘routines’ and ‘habits’ that comprise our lives….And that’s to practice a form of energetic aikido, where the planet’s cleansing/destructive Shiva force is embraced and enacted. Not so much beating it to the punch but falling into accord with it.
“What I mean is, don’t leave it to your unconscious to rummage about like a blind man, attempting to compensate for the incoming disruption — where you unknowingly recreate limits or new versions of the same ole shit. Evolve: consider the possibility of becoming consciously proactive.”
A few of his words on what’s next: “The Aquarian experience, marked as it is by Saturn and Uranus, is like striking (Uranus) a piñata (Saturn) and wondering what will tumble out and land at your feet.”
“It’s not hard to imagine small groups of people going rogue and making an exaggerated return to a sort of Luddite existence, where their hunger for tangibility and sensate reality clashes with the promise of living in a completely disembodied state within cyberspace and AI-dominated discourse.”
Steve Wolfson summarized our extended conversation: “From my perspective, what is happening is a dramatic acceleration of the spiritual energies, currents, present on Earth. Because this is not collectively acknowledged, it is driving a segment of the population crazy, as they don’t know, and don’t like, what is going on. Many want to turn the hands of time back, to a fantasy golden past.
“The very concept of ‘normal’ is evolving. I feel it is leading us to a redefinition of the purpose of a human life, why we are here and what this is all for and about. What has been ‘normal’ appears as over. And we’ve no idea what comes next.
“Pluto entering Aquarius: Everything is shifting. Normal is over. No one knows what the new normal will look like as the dust settles.
“The uncertainty at times puts our bodies into a state of shock and overwhelm, which is more or less the definition of trauma. There are many body strategies for dealing with the unknown — fight, flight, freeze among them. Forms shift and change. People die, relationships shift or end, new ones begin. Life chapters end, new ones begin. Technologies change. The nature of what we call reality is perceived differently.
“No one really knows what it will become. We’ve heard for years to stay in the present moment. This does seem to be the most effective strategy — whatever is going to be, will unfold, on its own timetable. I remain open to the shift, to the wonder and grief and joy and pain and love in it all.”
Dorje Kirsten and I also spoke about this Pluto threshold, and I’ve assembled some of his poignant reflections.
“With Pluto in Capricorn the myth of authority has been destroyed, it has rotted out from underneath us. How do we maintain social cohesion with such a mistrust of government?” He wonders: “How do we find a myth of humanism to replace that? Where does that come from?”
“How do we find the internal empowerment to feel fulfilled in life? On social media, everyone still seems to be speaking about authority as wrong and bad, projecting evil onto the outer instead of asking what is my responsibility for self-empowerment and how do I help others find that?”
“The increase of technology has brought tremendous challenges through the dehumanizing of society and the extraction of human heartfelt bonds into social media–controlled sound bites. It is disheartening as human beings when we see endless pictures of war and drone strikes and human suffering through our social media feeds, yet this is our reality.”
“We are being controlled more and more by the efficiency of the algorithm and remote satellites. This implies a ruthlessness (which can also be a gift of the fixed air sign). But, when the efficiency of the algorithm is not connected to the human heart, we get into trouble.”
“This time is shifting the structural idea of what it is to be human.”
Michele Finey lives in Australia, a country enduring catastrophic fires in recent years. (1) She is an environmentalist, and we talked about her thoughts on this pivotal time.
“From many reference points, the planet is in ‘dire straits.’ Many people are depressed and immensely sad about the climate, a significant component to the mood of the time.”
Acknowledging that Pluto changing signs is always dramatic, Michele noted this one is especially so as it is drawn out over nearly two years. The last three signs — Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces — play out in the collective sphere. “With Pluto, agent of revolution and rebirth, moving through this last segment of the zodiac, the entire world is interconnected and invested in this process whether we are conscious of the fact or not.”
“Old things are being dealt with whilst new things are coming in and there is a lot of Capricorn unfinished business on a global scale: financial corruption, climate change, implications of pandemic and lockdowns.” Michele also addressed the current “angst” by noting the polarizing nature of Aquarius — a fixed sign, its rulers, Saturn and Uranus, suggest divisiveness. She referred to the Sun being in Aquarius at the hottest (Southern Hemisphere) and coldest (Northern Hemisphere) times of the year, another hint at Aquarius’s tendency towards extremes. Michele noted the etymology of February: “from Latin februarius mensis ‘month of purification,’ from februare ‘to purify,’ from februa ‘purifications, expiatory rites’ (plural of februum ‘means of purification, expiatory offerings’)” — suggesting we are in the throes of a global cleansing ritual. (2)
Michele spoke quietly about everyone dealing with personal challenges — illness, finances, family instability — which, combined with “the big picture stuff,” is making it a very, very difficult time for many….Time will tell how it plays out.”
Thank you to everyone who spoke with me. I will post Part 2 of these conversations next week.
(Please see footnote #3 for articles on the mundane implications of Pluto’s ingress into Aquarius.)
Footnotes and references:
(1) A haunted Australia stares down bushfire disaster again
“The Black Summer , as it is known, was characterised by the unprecedented: scenes Australia had never seen before and will never forget.”
(3) Pluto in Aquarius — Liberty, Equality, Fraternity by Michele Finey
Mary Plumb is a long-time astrologer and TMA team member. She has an astrological consulting practice integrating a range of techniques informed both by reviewing astrology books for nearly 40 years (!) and, more importantly, by the nuance and richness of clients’ lives revealed in the sacred consultation space. She also greatly enjoys the search for new voices for TMA’s blog. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: maryplumb.com