For the past several months, news of the United States's Pluto return around Feb. 22 has been somewhat shrouded in mystery and fear — fitting for a major event involving the astrological planet associated with endings, secrets, and transformations. This significant astrological transit, which only occurs about every 248 years, poses a number of questions for those who live in the US, including decoding what a Pluto return means in astrology for the collective and WTF it means, if anything, for the rest of us individually.
To quell any major nerves the US's Pluto return may have stoked for you, it's important to understand that this type of planetary return isn't likely to trigger abominable changes on an individual level, so don't feel like you have to lock yourself in your bedroom for the foreseeable future. Instead, read on to get a handle on all this event's moving parts, including the general meaning of planetary returns, how Pluto's influence comes into play, and the themes the US's Pluto return might touch on on a much larger level.
What Is a Planetary Return?
Each planet in our solar system experiences what's called a "planetary return" in astrology, or the completion of that planet's cycle through each of the 12 zodiac signs. The term "solar return," for example, can refer to your birthday, when the sun returns to the position it was in when you were born. You're also probably familiar with the chaotic often dreaded Saturn return around age 27 to 29, when the planet of discipline and structure returns to the position it was in when you were born and typically triggers a serious life reset. Ultimately, a planetary return is symbolic of the start of a new cycle in someone's life.
What Do Pluto Returns Mean in Astrology?
In astrology, Pluto's impact far outweighs its small size. As the 12th planet in the zodiac, Pluto is often associated with darker topics — with the transformative properties of secrets, the unknown, and endings, as well as with the rebirth of new systems and understandings following those endings.
"Pluto rules death, karma, sex, taboo, transformation, and everything hidden beneath the surface. I think the best way to describe its presence is by visualizing the intensity and purification process that comes with every transformation," Miami-based clairvoyant astrologer Valerie Mesa tells POPSUGAR of Pluto's "super complex" energy. "Whatever Pluto comes into contact with will eventually experience a catharsis, even if it's slow and steady or even years from when [the return itself] happens. It's a slow build and purge, but more importantly, it's a catalyst for renewal."
What Does the US's Pluto Return Mean in Astrology?
While the Revolutionary War that resulted in the US's official independence didn't end until 1783, the US's birthday is most commonly regarded as July 4, 1776, or Independence Day, when the US initially declared its independence from Great Britain. At least, this is what most astrologers have used to calculate the nation's astrological footprint. At that time, Pluto was positioned in structured, realistic Capricorn, the 10th sign of the zodiac ruled by none other than taskmaster Saturn, hovering over themes like government structures and authority. On Feb. 22, Pluto returns to a similar position in Capricorn once again, rehashing similar themes of power struggles, endings, and new beginnings from which the US was born.
"Given that Pluto probes to reveal what is hidden and taboo-like, it's no wonder the US has experienced such a huge wake-up call with regard to the very things the country [says it] stands for: justice and freedom for all," says Mesa. "Secrets are a dealbreaker with Pluto, and [when the planet is] in Capricorn, it stops at nothing to expose what lacks honesty and integrity — the misuse of authority and power is not being tolerated." It's also important to note that the US's Pluto return technically began in 2008, when Pluto first entered Capricorn, meaning this transformation has been building for quite some time. This makes sense considering the current events — unrest over centuries of racism; outrage over inflation, insurmountable debt, and the mind-boggling wealth inequality; and so much more — that the US has grappled with for years.
Mesa also notes that the South Node — astrologically symbolic of what the collective is being called to release — is stationed in Pluto-ruled Scorpio. "Capricorn has everything to do with building something long-lasting and successful . . . but at what cost?" says Mesa. "The US's Pluto return is already shedding light (and will continue to do so) on the injustices and power plays that have been taking place for centuries. What goes up must come down, especially when it's built on false ground." While it's impossible to predict the future, this astro-weather seems to point to a continued changing of the guard of sorts: a reckoning of the nation's detrimental systems, traditions, and foundations, with particular emphasis on Capricornian themes of finances, power, and leadership. The result? Ideally, a priming of the collective for a more sustainable path forward.
How Will the US's Pluto Return Affect You?
Mesa recognizes the "hint of danger" that can swirl when you think about the kind of heavy transformation that can come with a Pluto return. However, this isn't reason to fret over a million cataclysmic life changes coming around the corner for you. (This is also a good time to unclench your jaw and let out the breath you were holding in.)
Rather, the more distant planets in our solar system like Pluto require many more years to complete full revolutions through the zodiac signs. "Pluto moves very slowly, which is why it's often regarded as a generational planet," says Mesa, "so the transformation will more likely occur at a collective level." In other words, because a full Pluto return takes more than 200 years to complete, individuals don't live long enough to experience the meat of something like a personal Pluto return, but long-standing structures like generations, regimes, and nations (like the US) often do.
Of course, any major changes to a society in which we live can indirectly affect us, and the shifts we might feel with regard to the US's Pluto return will have to do with any changes that come to larger structures of the nation. "Granted, if you happen to have personal planets at 27 degrees of a cardinal sign (Aries, Libra, Cancer, or Capricorn), then you're likely seeing significant shifts in your life as well," says Mesa.
As Mesa notes, "change is the only thing that's constant." The best thing you can do to sail through any shakeups smoothly is to set yourself up for success as well as you can: lean on your personal support systems, try to keep your finances in check, prioritize activities that nourish your energy and happiness, and go with the flow.