The Astrology of Pluto in Aquarius 2023

The Astrology of Pluto in Aquarius 2023

Pluto’s ingress into Aquarius is a generational shift with profound manifestations. Because Pluto takes 248 years to orbit the Sun, it takes a long time to fully enter a new sign. In 2023, Pluto only peeks into Aquarius for a couple of months before stepping back into Capricorn.

Here are the dates of Pluto’s movement between Capricorn and Aquarius:

  • March 23, 2023: Pluto –> Aquarius
  • June 11, 2023: PlutoRx –> Capricorn
  • January 20, 2024: Pluto –> Aquarius
  • September 1, 2024: PlutoRx –> Capricorn
  • November 19, 2024: Pluto –> Aquarius (it remains here until 2043)

Pluto’s astrological meanings are intense, dark and powerful, including but not limited to: ruthless transformation, destruction, power struggles, compulsions, obsessions and death. As such, its transit through a sign marks a period of intense destruction and transformation related to the things signified by that particular sign.

Pluto has been in Capricorn since 2008. Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign ruled by Saturn, representing all the institutional structures upon which we have built our civilizations: government, finance, education, healthcare, law. Pluto’s transit through Capricorn has uncovered the tenuous, crumbling foundations of all of these institutions.

Pluto’s transition period into Capricorn coincided with the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. That event is a perfect example of Pluto in Capricorn: destructive Plutonic energies fixed onto the global banking and financial structures and tore them down, exposing a web of power struggles, compulsions and obsessions underpinning the financial industry.

Over the next 15 years, Pluto has proceeded to expose the cracks in the foundation of all the other Capricornian institutions. These cracks were brought to bear during the Covid pandemic – the final years of Pluto’s transit through Capricorn – as all these institutions came toppling down.

All our institutions have failed us.

– Bret Weinstein, Feb 9, 2023

This tweet is a recent example of a sentiment that I have heard many times over the last few years – not just from Weinstein, but also from many others across a spectrum of different topics, industries and political opinions. Search the internet for “our institutions have failed” and see for yourself just how many times this has been said recently. Pluto in Capricorn, indeed.

The pinnacle of Pluto’s transit through Capricorn was the death of Queen Elizabeth II. She became Queen of England in 1952 and her reign was older than most people who were alive at the time of her death. Queen Elizabeth was a Capricorn rising and indeed, she was the human embodiment of Capricorn itself: a stalwart, dependable constant that seemed eternal. Her passing is a harbinger of the end of Pluto in Capricorn, and the beginning of Pluto in Aquarius. 

So we look to the meaning of Aquarius for insight into the specific areas that Pluto’s renovations, transformations and destructions will occur over the next 20 years.

Aquarius is a fixed air sign, ruled by Saturn: heavy, stuck, oppressive air. It’s the miasma that hangs over an area before a devastating storm, the brittle coldness paralyzing a city in the depths of winter, the cloud of toxic gas released from a train derailment.

It’s the tension hanging in the air at the dinner table after an argument. It’s the sullen, bodily weightiness during the commute to a hated job. It’s the impatient desire for a better way of being, while feeling simultaneously paralyzed to make any changes to the status quo.

Where Capricorn represents our institutional structures, Aquarius represents our social structures. Aquarius is social groups and networks, and social movements. It is all about how the individual fits – or doesn’t fit – within the context of wider social orders. It’s how we fit within and how we structure our relationships with others: family, friends, colleagues, intimate partners. This also includes spirit relationships: how we relate to our ancestors, descendants, spirit allies, spirit enemies and the entire community of non-humans with whom we interact daily, knowingly or unknowingly.

Pluto’s movement through Aquarius will expose the underbelly of these structures and reveal the fault lines below. It will show how rooted or tenuous we are within our families, friends, communities, workplaces, spirit landscapes. Some of these social structures will be destroyed and replaced; others transformed irreversibly.

This is not the Age of Aquarius in the sense of the 1960s and 70s hippie counterculture, much as I might enjoy donning a flower crown, dropping some LSD and dancing through a sunlit meadow. (And admittedly, I would enjoy that.) It is the dawning of a new era, however. Dark times are ahead, but dark times are always ahead, as they are also behind. So too are light times: ahead and behind. The linear progression of time is a lie. We sit within all times folded upon each other simultaneously.

Pluto in Aquarius is likely to bring social unrest, uprisings and maybe even an outright revolution or two. The last time Pluto was in Aquarius was between 1777 and 1798.

The French Revolution was between 1789 and 1799 – so, the entire second half of Pluto in Aquarius, the last time around. The American Revolution was between 1765 and 1791, so a good portion of that also overlapped with the last transit of Pluto through Aquarius.

Both of these revolutions were about overthrowing current governmental structures. They were also driven partly by the Enlightenment ideas of liberal democracy, especially in the face of ever-increasing economic, social and political inequality. When food prices get too high and large numbers of people are marginalized, you get revolution. Sound familiar?

This time period also saw the scientific revolution and the firm establishment of other Enlightenment ideas like materialism, reason and progress. Recall that Aquarius is fixed air, so it represents very fixed, dogmatic ideas and ideologies. Pluto’s transit through Aquarius will poke at the foundations of these Enlightenment ideas, which have become entrenched since the last time Pluto was in Aquarius. Some of these ideas may become even further entrenched, others may be discarded and replaced with other ideas that will take root.

These Enlightenment ideas and the slogan of the French Revolution sound great on paper. Who is going to argue against liberté, egalité and fraternité? However, we’ve already seen the dark side of these ideas – look only at recent examples of the extremes of the woke movement (to use a fraught word I loathe, but you know what I mean).

Much of the work of renovating and tearing down our social structures will occur over social media – another very Aquarian, fixed air phenomenon. There will be ongoing battles over social lines – race, sex, gender, age, ability – and these will reach a fever pitch, especially on social media. (This will be shocking to no one, I’m sure.)

Coupled with this, we will see ongoing censorship and attempts to control ideas and the information around these ideas. This is also very Saturnian and fits well with the signification of Aquarius as a Saturn-ruled sign. (Bill C-11, I’m looking at you.)

My hope is that we ruthlessly evaluate the ways that we are incorporating ideas and ideologies into our social structures and discard the toxic aspects while keeping the good ones. I’m not advocating for a return to traditional gender roles (if you know anything about me, you know that’s ridiculous), but I’m also not advocating for discarding the basic family unit, either.

Part of Pluto’s transit through Aquarius will be the start of rebuilding all the institutional structures that Pluto tore down through its transit through Capricorn. This is an opportunity for us to look at all of the fixed ideas that we’ve built our social and institutional structures upon and see what needs to remain and what needs to change. Let us keep that which enriches, enlivens and nourishes us, and compost all that doesn’t.

As an animist, I really hope Pluto in Aquarius helps us get rid of the empty materialist mindset that came out of the Enlightenment and became the de facto way that we’re supposed to understand the universe.

Pluto in Aquarius isn’t all revolutions and mandatory diversity training, however. I am hopeful that we will see some positive things come of this. This transit gives the West a chance to really evaluate our living situations. I am expecting multi-generational living arrangements to become much more normalized here again.

This will be done out of necessity at first, as younger generations simply can’t afford to live on their own. Indeed, this has already been happening at ever-increasing rates. The key will be for families to find ways to live multi-generationally in a contemporary way, where everyone in the household has their place (and privacy!), while still enjoying the advantages of a shared roof. I’ve been half-seriously joking with my own family about building a family homestead; I know we aren’t alone in that desire.

I also expect that we will see more homeschooling and alternative education arrangements, given all the rampant flaws and dangers that Pluto exposed in the traditional school system while traversing Capricorn. Aside from the issue of what subjects are being taught in school and how, the high rate of school shootings in the US make it very risky to send your kids to school.

As for the healthcare system, I admit to feeling very cynical about if and when that mess will ever get sorted out. The main takeaway, and something the Covid pandemic revealed very starkly, is that you – and you alone – are responsible for your health. It is up to you to take ownership of your health and try to live as healthy as you can. This is no easy feat, especially in a world that wants to pathologize and diagnose every little symptom, place the blame on anyone and anything else for the cause of it, and then sell you some meds to ameliorate the initial symptoms while causing a raft of new ones.

Technology will also be a prominent part of Pluto’s transit through Aquarius, particularly our relationship to technology and how technology changes the relationship between humans. The recent discussions and debates around various AI programs, like ChatGPT, is just one example of this. The technology angle of Aquarius can go in both ways: it can help people come together (like what social media is supposed to do) but it can also drive people apart and make us feel even more isolated and alone (like what social media tends to do).

I don’t think we are going to end up in a tech dystopia per se; there will absolustely be some dystopic elements of the technology that becomes normalized over the next couple of decades, but I am optimistic that real, in-person, human connection and creation will ultimately win out.

The Age of Air is well upon us. Pluto’s ingress into Aquarius triggers the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction that was at 0 Aquarius on December 21, 2020. That conjunction marked the formal start to the new 200-year Jupiter-Saturn synodic cycle. For the next two centuries, all of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions will be in air signs. The old, earthy ways of doing things are fast fading away, and we must find new airy ways of moving forward.

Now is the time to look at all the social structures in your life and coldly evaluate which ones serve you and which don’t. Of those that don’t, how could they be shaped to serve you better? Of those that do serve, what do you need to do to keep them intact?

Consider how you fit in with all the different social circles you inhabit. How do you contribute to their flourishing and how do they contribute to yours?

The onus is on every person to embrace difference and celebrate divergence on both an individual and social level. It is only through this radical embracing of difference that we’ll make it through this transit with the ability to build a society in which all can flourish. At this moment, one of the most radical things you can do is work towards accepting and even delighting in those who think, behave and live differently than you do – especially if you disagree with those thoughts, behaviours and living situations.

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