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The United States’ Pluto Return: The First Return Conjunction (Part 1 of 3)

There’s been some talk and quite a few questions about the United States’ first Pluto Return – what it is, and what it actually means for the country and the world. This will be a bit more technical than my usual articles, but I’m going to do my best to explain what this means, what we’ll be experiencing, and what’s at stake here in the U.S. and around the world.

Let’s start with the basics.

Pluto, which is now astronomically classified as a dwarf planet, is still a celestial body with a great deal of influence upon our earthly matters. It takes approximately 247 years to orbit the Sun.

In astrology, Pluto represents the power of transformation – the ending or death of one way of being in order to create space for a new way of being to emerge. Pluto’s message is that simple, superficial change is not enough. It pushes us to dive deeper into our hearts and souls in order to face our worst fears and darkest darkness, feel them, understand them, and allow them to die through exposure to the Light of Truth. Of course, when our deepest fears are overcome and our deepest darkness is illuminated, we are transformed – our lives can never be the same as they were before. Pluto is literally the destruction or collapse of an old way of being which inhibits our personal power, in order to bring the emergence of a new way of being which strengthens our personal power from within.

Pluto is currently moving through the sign of Capricorn. Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign, meaning it brings initiative energy to physical, material, financial, and experiential matters. This is the sign which reveals the interests behind your ambitions and goals, and its placement in a natal chart usually indicates what drives you in professional/career or public matters. Capricorn also represents our societal infrastructures and institutions – the aspects of a society which determine and enforce the laws and policies such as governments, executive boards, and other hierarchal structures. Often times, how a society measures success is partially if not fully defined by where Capricorn is positioned in its natal chart.  Capricorn is a very serious-natured sign, and understands that if goals are to be achieved, there must be discipline and focus applied. It has a strong traditional and paternal archetype, and can be disciplinarian and/or authoritarian in nature when things don’t seem to be producing the desired results.

When we consider that Pluto is currently in the sign of Capricorn, we can put these descriptions of planet and sign together to understand that Pluto in Capricorn represents the transformation of societal structures and the collective reassessment and realignment of power and influence throughout the world and in our individual and collective experiences of our lives. There are governments and political ideologies which are failing, and there are others which are stepping into their individual power and sovereignty. There are old alliances collapsing, and new alliances emerging. The collapses and emergences are rooted in common goals and values, and as social and personal values shift, these alliances transform.

Pluto in Capricorn is an opportunity for each and all of us to look at things deeply and honestly, especially in regard to the intentions and motivations behind our ambitions and goals.

On a collective level, what are you most confident about when it comes to your profession as a whole? What are you most confident and proud of regarding your country/nation and its leadership? What are you seeing and/or experiencing as success in your society and/or government? In asking these questions, we must also ask ourselves what we are most afraid of or insecure about regarding our professions, our country’s/nation’s leadership, and our collective definition of success and achievement? What are we most disappointed about in regard to ourselves as a society? What are we most unwilling to acknowledge and/or change about the structures we are governed and influenced by?

On a personal level, how do you experience benefit or detriment from the societal institutions and governmental structures in place now? What are you most proud and confident to admit in this regard, and what are you most ashamed or fearful to admit about your benefits or detriments? Do you feel successful by your society’s terms? Do you feel empowered by your society and/or government to achieve your goals? How do your benefits and detriments influence the ambitions and goals you have?

All of these questions and their answers have had opportunities to be asked and answered since 2008, and will have time to be answered through the end of 2024 which is when Pluto definitively departs the sign of Capricorn for the next 247 years.

That all said, let’s bring this Pluto in Capricorn placement into our topic for this article:

First, an explanation.

An astrological return is when a celestial body or astrological point returns to the exact same position (by sign and degree) as it is located in one’s natal/birth chart. Every celestial body and point in a chart can experience a return, though these occur based upon the orbit of said body or calculation of said point. Therefore, the returns of different planets and bodies will occur on different days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millennia… Some returns happen more frequently than others, but when it comes to the outer planets, especially Pluto, it can be amazingly rare.

The United States is experiencing a rare one now…

The United States’ natal Pluto position is 27.55° Capricorn in retrograde motion.
Therefore, the United States is experiencing its first Pluto Return with this return’s most impactful year being this calendar year, 2022. This is United States’ first Pluto Return – a rarity with many nation-states around the world. Most nations haven’t existed in their current forms under their current constitutions long enough to have reached this milestone.

That said, this is a powerful and profound milestone – one which can bring a nation to its next level up regarding power and presence in the world, or one which can bring a nation to its knees if not its demise.

Though we’ve all felt structures and institutions undergoing shifts on a global level, the United States has been feeling its Plutonic transformation coming in earnest since early 2020 (late January), will be feeling its effects and presence through to the end of 2024 (late December), and will be experiencing its impact now and for a very long time to come.

Transiting Pluto will make three exact return conjunctions with the U.S. natal Pluto (based on Sibly chart for U.S. natal – location: Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A. 75w10 39n57):

  1. Sunday 20 February 2022 at 2:21p EST on (direct motion)
  2. Sunday 10 July 2022 at approximately 1:20a EDT (retrograde motion)
  3. Wednesday 28 December 2022 at approximately 8:52p EST (direct motion)

As you can see, the first exact return occurs this coming Sunday afternoon (or Monday, depending on where you’re located in the world). Though it may not feel like it, this will be the mildest of the three exact return conjunctions.

We’ll be looking at the first exact return conjunction in this article, the one occurring this Sunday 20th February 2022. I’ll be reading this as a natal chart of sorts, as it has a definitive time and location marker.

NOTE: I’ve included both a chart image for the return in the natal location of the United States’ “birth” (Philadelphia, PA), and another for the current location of the U.S. Capitol (Washington D.C.). I will be using the Philadelphia chart for my interpretation of this first exact conjunction of the United States’ Pluto Return. They are very similar, but obviously, not exactly the same (location, location, location).

Philadelphia-Based Return Chart (article reference):

U.S. Pluto Return First Exact Philadelphia location

Washington D.C.-Based Return Chart:

U.S. Pluto Return Frist Exact D.C. location

This first exact Pluto Return conjunction has an extremely extroverted and extrospective chart with almost all chart elements above the horizon line and on the west side of the chart. This is very similar to the U.S. Natal Chart in layout, and tells us the United States is very concerned with how it is being seen and perceived in the world, even more than when the nation was first established. Extroversion means that the U.S. is seeking energy through its interactions with other nation states, and extrospective means that the U.S. is seeking responses and/or affirmation of their identity from others – that it’s not defining itself, but rather, seeking its self-definition through others at this time. This suspicion is affirmed by the empty first quadrant of the chart – there’s literally nothing there (with the celestial bodies and points I use, anyway). The United States has very little introspection or sense of self at the time of this first exact conjunction of its Pluto Return, other than how it is being received and perceived by other nation-states.

The returning Pluto being above the horizon yet close to the descendent is an indicator of the U.S. being very aware of its descending influence in the world’s eyes – something it is very much trying to “correct”. Asteroid Vesta in Capricorn in the 6th house (on the other side of the horizon line and in conjunction with the Descendent) indicates the effort to which the U.S. is going to in order to protect its image of power and influence in the world. Vesta is within 3° orb to be conjunct the conjunction of Venus and Mars, which reveals the U.S. utilization of partners willing to help it maintain its power. However, the Venus-Mars conjunction is out of orb with the descendent – Vesta is the link between the two, which again, affirms the determined effort on the part of the U.S. to find partners willing to help it keep its influence in the world.

What’s even more revealing is the fact that this first exact return has a Cancer Ascendent and Cancer’s ruling body, the Moon, is in the chart’s 4th house (also ruled by Cancer) in the sign of Libra. This indicates that much of what is happening now is emotion-driven and perceived as very ‘personal’ – it is the fear of losing its power and sense of control over matters domestically and globally that has the U.S. scrambling to take some sort of decisive action to maintain its status as a preeminent world power. This means the U.S.’ actions at this time are fear-based emotional responses to the realities presenting themselves, and the government itself is acting out in frustration, ‘personally’ offended as more nations look elsewhere for collaborative opportunities.

Many of the U.S. people who have been considered the top of the nation’s societal hierarchy are also lashing out in frustration, fearful of losing their favor and benefit in the collective society of the United States and in the world around them, scrambling to hold onto their privileges and perceived entitlements as more people are looking to find other options for getting their personal and professional needs and desires met. The days of admiring billionaires and celebrities are coming to an end as more people are looking at the governmental and societal institutions that have been running the show, and are demanding changes to how they choose to operate.

The Libra Moon at the time of exact return conjunction reveals the U.S. may be feeling that these shifts of global and societal power are unfair or unjust in some way, yet what may actually be happening here is that the rest of the world feels that the U.S. has become so out of balance and so out of touch with the rest of the world, other nation-states are now seeking their own fairness and equity, and in some cases, justice. No longer willing to answer to the United States, other nations now seem to be seeking what is best for their own empowerment and looking out for their own interests. This is showing up, so far, as many nations seeking new and different global alliances in foreign policy; and in domestic matters, people are seeking new and different approaches to old ways of transforming and updating societal policy, beginning to push back on the systems and institutions which have gained “too much” power and influence within the country itself.

There are also valid indications that the United States’ vision of maintaining or reclaiming its power in the world is far bigger than the reality of matters can deliver. This may lead to the U.S. creating and sharing larger-than-life stories in order to keep its vision alive. The U.S. is likely trying to compensate for its self-identity wounds with these tall tales, but as the world’s other nations evolve their values to be more aligned with the Highest good of all of human kind, the stories the U.S. is trying to tell may be making a different point that the U.S. intends to make – one of trying to hide its own weaknesses rather than taking responsibility for them, addressing them head-on, and showing the rest of the world what domestic and global leadership truly look like. These stories may also be revealing to many current and potential partners that the United States is no longer aligned with their values and priorities, and it may be time to seek new partners or to go elsewhere for the assistance or support they seek.

The United States’ vulnerabilities at this time are clearly self-inflicted, so no matter which external strategy they employ (and there are definitely strategies being implemented), until it faces and addresses its demons and truly heals its core wounds, its pattern of self-interested behavior will continue to be exposed through every strategy it tries to implement. The U.S. can no longer declare itself a beacon of hope and promise in the world when it won’t deliver on those

This first exact U.S. Pluto Return conjunction is occurring on a 1 Universal Day, numerologically speaking, which is very appropriate since this is the first of three exact conjunctions. It also in some ways marks the beginning of a critical transformational opportunity for the United States – the nation is defining itself for itself and the world with its priorities, choices, and actions during this calendar year. This is also happening in an 8 Universal Month, meaning that power, influence, control, and manipulation are the energies in play right now, and this is a day where the United States’ actions (or lack thereof) will play a part in determining how the U.S. is seen in the world. The 6 Universal Year means that the entire world is focused on how to best care for their people, and therefore, when their attention drifts to the U.S., other nations are looking to see how the U.S. is going about doing what it needs to do, or if it’s doing what it needs to do at all. They’re watching how the U.S. people care for themselves and each other, and how well they serve their own and others. It’s also looking at whether or not the U.S. has any focus on making sure the world works for everyone, or if the U.S. is focused only on whether the world works for the U.S. In other words, other nations are looking at the U.S. to see if the U.S. shares its societal values.

The leadership of the United States needs to understand that its every step globally and domestically is being watched and listened to closely, and its role in the global order of things is now being carefully assessed by every other nation-state on the planet. Though the United States has been considered a beacon of hope and freedom to the world in its existence up to this point, with this Pluto Return, that worldwide identity is undergoing a transformation now. Whether it’s a positive or negative transformation is up to the United States itself.

For the U.S. to come through this Pluto Return in its best position possible, it will need to face the foundational elements of its societal structures and institutions. It will need to come to terms with its history and legacy domestically and globally, including how it has influenced other nation-states throughout its existence. It will need to delve into its darkest demons, face them, and comes to terms with them in order to overcome them. The United States will have to do some really deep soul-searching – something the U.S. has never been really good at doing as its natal chart reveals that the more it is challenged to look at itself, the more committed it becomes to drawing attention to its relationships with and/or comparisons to others.

The U.S. has and will continue to be presented with opportunities (some of those recurring) to come to terms with its past and heal its self-identity wounds and insecurities. These opportunities have been coming forward in earnest since 2020, and will continue through 2024, though they will be most powerful and most impacting this calendar year of 2022. Interestingly enough, this larger window of 2022-2024 started around the same time the COVID pandemic began, meaning COVID played a very instrumental role in bringing the realities and weaknesses of the United States to the surface to be dealt with… or not. We still have a few months and a couple years to see what the U.S. chooses to do with what it is learning about itself.

In the meantime, for those of you who are seeking more details about the astrology of the day, here are the astrological transits within 3° orb on this first Pluto Return Exact Conjunction Day #1:

GRAND SQUARE: Cancer Moon in 4the square Capricorn Vesta conjunct DC in 6the square Aries Eris in 10the square Cancer AC (21-23°) – This exact return moment gives the U.S. a Cancer Ascendent. Cancer’s ruling body, the Moon, is in the chart’s 4th house (also ruled by Cancer) in the sign of Libra. This is what identifies that much of what is happening now within the U.S. and in anything the U.S. is currently involved with is emotion-driven – it’s the fear of losing its power and control over matters domestically and globally that has the U.S. scrambling to take some sort of decisive action to maintain its status as a preeminent world power. This emotional focus is highlighted by the Moon being in a square aspect with the horizon points (Cancer Ascendent and Capricorn Descendent – 23°) and in opposition with asteroid Eris in Aries in the 10th house (23°). Being at 21° also has the Moon square to Vesta, Mars, and Venus. This configuration confirms the U.S.’ actions at this time are fear-based, and the emotional responses to the realities presenting themselves show both the U.S. leadership and what has been considered the top of its societal hierarchy lashing out in frustration and fear of losing control. The Libra Moon reveals the U.S. may be feeling that this shifting of power is unfair or unjust in some way, yet what may actually be happening here is that the U.S. has become so out of balance and out of touch with the rest of the world, balance, fairness and equity, and in some cases, justice have now become the focus for those at a disadvantage through the United States’ traditional worldview. This present an opportunity for the leadership and/or the people of the United States to create and new societal foundation for itself – allowing the old, outdated ways to end in order for new, forward-thinking ways to begin so the U.S. has a chance of keeping up with and collaborating with the rest of the world.

STELLIUM: Capricorn Venus conjunct Mars conjunct Vesta in 6th house (19-21°) – Ambitious actions are more productive and successful in partnerships than on one’s own. When both parties involved are dedicated to a clearly-defined goal or outcome, there is a far greater likelihood of success in achieving that goal than if either party were to act alone.

  • sextile Pisces Neptune (19-22°) – It will be important to ensure the goal is realistic, not delusional. Pursuing an outcome rooted in make-believe only results in making a mess, and may result in great disillusionment and disappointment when things do not work out as intended.

SEQUENCE: (Pisces Jupiter conjunct Part of Fortune in 9th house) semi-sextile Aries Chiron in 10th house semi-sextile Taurus Uranus in 10th house (10-11°) – This shows that the U.S. is very much acting as the source of wisdom in whatever matters it is facing at this time. Jupiter is in one of the signs of its traditional rulership (Neptune rules Pisces in contemporary astrology), and is currently in the house ruled by its other sign of rulership, Sagittarius. This is very fortunate, yet it could also be a cursed blessing of sorts. That’s because Jupiter expands things, and Pisces is known for being a bit dreamy and imaginative. This could indicate that the United States’ vision is far bigger than the reality of matters can deliver. This may lead to the U.S. creating and sharing larger-than-life stories in order to keep its vision alive.
Jupiter’s semi-sextile to Chiron reveals that the U.S. may be trying to compensate for its self-identity wounds with these tall tales, and Jupiter’s sextile to Taurus Uranus reveals that as humanity’s values evolve, the story the U.S. is trying to tell may be making a different point that the U.S. intends to make – one of trying to hide its own weaknesses rather than taking responsibility for them, addressing them head-on, and showing the rest of the world what domestic and global leadership truly look like.
Aries Chiron’s self-inflicted vulnerability is outside my preferred 3° orb from the Aries Midheaven, but it’s still the first celestial body after the Midheaven giving it the power in the 10th house. In the Philadelphia return chart, Asteroid Pallas Athena is equidistant on the other side of the Midheaven in the 9th, so there’s definitely a strategy being implemented, but a pattern of self-interested behavior is being exposed through said strategy.

(Capricorn Venus conjunct Mars) semi-sextile Aquarius Saturn (17-19°) –The Venus-Mars conjunction indicates a determined tag-team effort to take action to achieve a desired result which may be more focused on the outcome than the impact. However, the public (or possibly humanity-at-large) may put up a great deal of resistance to what is happening because those looking in from the outside can foresee the impact, and the court of public opinion may set limits to what can be achieved or accomplished with these efforts. Humanitarian crises or public protests domestically and/or abroad could create delays or obstacles to the desired goal(s).

Capricorn Pluto in 7th house square Libra Moon (27-28°) – The returning Pluto position brings challenging questions of equity, fairness, justice, and peace. If the goal is to obtain more power, with Pluto in the 2nd house, this indicates the acquisition and control of resources is the driving factor.

Capricorn Pluto in 7th house trine Taurus North Node in 11the house/ sextile Scorpio South Node in 5th house (26-27°) – I’ve haven’t done much focus on trines and sextiles with the Nodes unless there is a Grand Trine or Kite configuration involved. Yet in this case, it seems important to note that the trine, being the more influential connection, is indicating that the United States’ connection with the rest of the world has become a values matter.

Aquarius Mercury conjunct Juno in 7th house (6-7°) – A public communication of loyalty and commitment to partners, which also may be the public communication of a commitment to stand by an agreement or collaboration.

Pisces 8 Sun in 8th house semi-sextile Aries Pallas Athena in 9th house (2°) – With an emotional investment in (re)claiming power in matters of shared interest with others and/or claiming power in the business of others, this could lead to strategies which are intended to teach a lesson… but will a lesson be taught, or learned?

Pisces 8 Sun in 8th house square Gemini Ceres in 11th house (2°) – That emotional investment in (re)claiming power in matters of shared interest may be met with challenges as others’ values and priorities are evolving. What happens when the people you’re in collaboration with no longer share your priorities? What happens when their needs become different than yours?

Aries Pallas Athena in 9th house sextile Gemini Ceres in 11th house (2°) – There’s a lot of thinking happening in this transit, and that means there’s a lot of strategizing in play. Yet as the values of the parties involved are (re)considered, is there enough common ground to find a common strategy, or is this the moment when collaborators part ways? Note: These values conversations are likely centered around human livelihood and quality of life.

Aquarius White Moon Selene in 7th house trine Gemini Ceres in 11th house (0-2°) – Those who are earnestly and honestly considering the highest well-being of as many as possible will have the upper hand in any discussions and agreements. The values emerging now are focused on the value and quality of human life. Anything or anyone not aligned with that will be questioned and doubted. The U.S. needs to understand that the world’s values – humanity’s values – are evolving, and this first exact conjunction is one of its last opportunities for the U.S. to choose whether or not it will make the shift along with others, or stay the course and possibly end up alone and on its own.

It’ll be interesting to see what the United States chooses for itself during 2022, as the one major warning with Pluto is this: If you’re unwilling to make the changes you’re being called to make, Pluto will make them for you.

The United States can be quite stubborn when it comes to changing its ways. Its natal Nodal Axis in Leo North Node/Aquarius South Node (6°) indicates that it may have too much pride it what it has already accomplished to believe it can learn and/or innovate further. The transiting Aquarius Mercury-Juno conjunction also conjuncts the U.S. natal South Node, indicating that its agreements with others may be outdated or outgrown, limiting its partners who are now seeking to set up new partnerships and collaborations which allow them to grow and expand their own global influence. Don’t be surprised if the United States find that its usual sales pitch to other nations isn’t as effective as it used to be – the buyers have other priorities now, and those priorities are likely more focused on improving the quality of life for their own citizens and being in positive and productive collaborations with other nations regarding infrastructure and advancing technology.

There are also serious doubts that the U.S. is willing to truly collaborate with other nations for the betterment of all involved. It may not be able to sustain itself in a multi-polar geopolitical world because it’s simply too independent and too competitive or comparative. Its comparative nature is displayed through its Aries Chiron-Libra Juno opposition (20°), which also indicates the U.S. may also be too committed to hiding behind its partnerships with others to admit its own weaknesses and points of improvement. The fact that others are willing to partner with it gives it validation, but as nation-states around the world begin seeking new partners and collaborators, the U.S. could find itself left out in the cold. The bad news with this is that there would be no one left to hide behind; the good news is that the U.S. would finally have to face and deal with itself on its own.

United States Natal Sibly

The key to restoring its power in the world is for the United States to 1) walk its talk to overcome its tendency to expand on truth and to curb any ideological or practical hypocrisy on its part, especially in regard to the standards they hold other nations to account for; 2) follow through on its word, and do what they say they’ll do when they say they’ll do it, both abroad and especially at home; 3) recognizing and acknowledging its challenges and/or failures in commerce by allowing itself to collaborate with others to balance its relationships with other nation-states to mutual advantage, not just its own benefit; and 4) coming to terms with its own past in order to heal those enduring wounds so the country can truly move forward into the future as a nation, acknowledging that all (humans) are created equal and worthy of the “unalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

This is the first of three articles as there will be three exact conjunctions of the U.S. Pluto Return. Part Two will be coming in July.

Thank you for reading and sharing Signs and Numbers. Until next post…

~ Light, Love, and Blessings,

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