Pluto's Retrograde Is Nudging You Toward Your Best Possible Self
From full moons to Mercury retrogrades, it's easy enough to point to frequent astrological events as the reason you're feeling off. This is, in part, due to the fact that these celestial bodies move fairly quickly. However, Pluto takes anywhere from 12 to 31 years to cruise through each sign of the zodiac and spends 248 years moving through all 12. So while it can be tougher to put your finger on how its astrological shifts affect you, that isn't to say that it doesn't.
Named for the God of the Underworld, Pluto's purpose is to urge you to contend with your inner shadows, potentially toxic beliefs and patterns, and deep-rooted psychological and emotional wounds in order to come away healed and empowered. It's also the planet of death, rebirth, and regeneration, so you can think of Pluto's symbolism as the phoenix rising from the ashes. It'll burn down anything that's no longer serving you in order to spur growth.
However, just like Mercury (and all of the planets in our solar system), Pluto also moves backward through our sky, entering retrograde periods annually for about five to six months. In 2023, Pluto stationed retrograde in progressive fixed air sign of Aquarius from May 1 until June 11, and now, Pluto enters the industrious cardinal earth sign Capricorn until Oct. 10.
Read on for the meaning of Pluto retrograde, and details on how the planet of transformation stands to affect us as it moves backward in 2023.
What Do Pluto Retrogrades Mean in Astrology?
In order to understand what happens when Pluto is retrograde, it helps to wrap your head around how it functions when it's direct — or moving forward. Pluto tends to bring attention to the darkness that underlies everyday life. When it links up or squares off with other planets in the sky or in your natal, aka birth, chart, it could set off power struggles, toxicity, or control issues or uncover nefarious secrets in our relationships. When Pluto is direct, we feel its effects far more externally.
However, when Pluto is retrograde, its effects are more internal, psychological, and emotional. The planet named for the God of the Underworld will challenge you to check — and ideally address — your own toxic, negative, and self-destructive behaviors, patterns, and belief systems. Ideally during this period, you might become more interested in resolving these compulsive behaviors or addictions.
But as with any astrological event, there's no guarantee you'll feel this Pluto retrograde in a wildly apparent way. Even if it's hitting a key point in your natal chart, it's crucial to remember that Pluto's snail pace means you'll generally notice its effects in terms of patterns or mindsets, rather than something obviously outward like communication, money, or love. You might find that by fall, Pluto's nudges — and mission to purge anything toxic — have managed to put you in a new, empowered headspace.
How the 2023 Pluto Retrograde Will Affect the Zodiac Signs
The effects of Pluto's transit through Aquarius have been a BFD, to say the least, and you can learn more about how the six weeks Pluto's retrograde in Aquarius impacted each sign here.
But when it comes to Pluto's retrograde in Capricorn from June 11 to Oct. 10, people who have placements in any of the cardinal signs, including Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn, will feel it more than others. If these four signs make an appearance anywhere on your birth chart, including as your sun, rising, or moon signs, here's what you can expect.
Aries (March 21-April 19)
While Pluto's retrograde, Aries, you'll be reflecting on toxic dynamics with higher-ups. Instead of pointing the finger at your boss for their control-freak ways or your colleagues for their overly competitive or gossip-mongering nature, this retrograde will stir you to look at how you've perhaps been enabling or adding fuel to any fires that have been sparking on your professional path. It's time to root out negative patterns and behaviors with self-reflection so you can more readily step into your power.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Pluto retrograde offers an opportunity to consider if there are particular behaviors, thought processes, or dynamics that are inhibiting long-term growth in one-on-one relationships, Cancer. It could be that you've been telling yourself a particular narrative about what you want or don't want, or you're exerting too little or too much control. In short, this phase is a wonderful one for better understanding yourself in relation to others, such as a family member, dear friend, significant other, or even business partner.
Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
Pluto's movement through your fourth house of home life has required you to look at issues of power, control, and toxicity that might be baked into your roots and family dynamics. Slowly, but surely, you've been facing and rooting out this darkness, and as Pluto moves backward this year, you might find a great deal of comfort and support from self-reflective practices like therapy. Through this work, you could be learning that beliefs you've held about yourself aren't true, and it's time to rewrite your story in a way that offers you the main-character energy you deserve.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
Until Pluto's move into Aquarius in late March 2023, the planet had been in your sign — and therefore, your first house of self — since 2008, causing you to rethink your personal brand or simply how you're commanding power and showing up in the world, Capricorn. While this powerful planet is in retrograde, you'll find new ways to harness your inner power, whether that's by gaining clarity on what's worth investing your time and energy into or releasing yourself from misleading toxic bonds that are preventing you from stepping into the limelight. Remember that challenges you face now are worth the effort, as they could lead to lasting self-transformation.
— Additional reporting by Mirel Zaman