Astrologer Laura Craig

Pluto in Capricorn: It’s Been a Long Time Coming

So this is what the US Pluto return feels like. Not to mention every-fuckin-thing going retrograde and eclipse season kicking off soon. One headline reads: 100,000 dead so far from COVID 19. And in other news, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd are now household names and unwilling martyrs—a dubious honor that neither of them asked for. Those tragic, senseless deaths, coming to light one right after the other, seem to have been a final straw for the beleaguered black people of this country. Black people who are just trying to live, but are harassed, silenced, pursued, and murdered, by racists and the racist institutions of the United States.

Pluto in Greek mythology is the god of the underworld and its hidden treasures. In modern astrology, the planet has a correspondence to wealth and riches (so many of which are ill-gotten), power and greed. Pluto also holds our shame, our fear and our shadow. But I also interpret it as our survival; the rebirth that comes out of destruction and decay. Being the farthest out in our solar system, it moves the most slowly, taking around 250 years to complete a cycle. It may be small, and it may be unfathomably distant, but do not doubt its power over the collective unconscious.

The late degrees of Capricorn have been well-trodden territory this year, as Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto have all been transiting over that point, and continue to do so. What is it about that little corner in the sign of the Patriarch that we can’t seem to free ourselves from?

In the birth chart of America (I use the Sibly chart), Pluto is at 27 degrees Capricorn. It rules our Scorpio 12th house (as does Mars in our Gemini 7th), which paints a fairly dark picture. But it is ruled from above by an exalted Saturn in Libra in the 10th, which says to me that this country can achieve true justice, honor and fairness, as long as it can do the hard work of making reparations for its past. 

In the year 1530, Pluto was at 25-27 degrees Capricorn. Spanish conquistadors Francisco Pizarro and Hernando de Soto, made rich from the African slave trade, overtook the Incan empire, toppling a civilization which had flourished in power for over 300 years. They took the gold and silver of this “new world,” and in exchange, brought infectious disease and genocide. European colonization was entering its glory days of manifest destiny, and the world would be forever transformed.

In August 1619, a ship called The White Lion arrived at the ironically named Port Comfort in Virginia, bringing with it the first African slaves to the colonies; slaves who, along with subsequent shipments, would eventually come to replace the unpaid labor of the Native Americans. The lunar nodes were at 24 Capricorn-Cancer that year. 

The next time Pluto was at 25-27 Capricorn was 1776, as self-proclaimed patriots rose up in defiance of the tyranny of the English King. America won its war of independence, and again, the world would never be the same. 

Right now in Virginia, the summer air is fragrant with the scent of magnolia. It is also filled with plague and protest, as our capital of Richmond (and former capital of the Confederacy), and cities all over the country, erupt in demonstration against police brutality. In the cosmos currently, Mars joins Ceres as she completes her cycle. He also approaches a square to his natal position, stoking the flames of deep-seated grief, pain and anger. Of generations of bodies, used, abused and sacrificed to this land. Our Ceres has the look of a tortured Billie Holiday (natal Moon 22 Capricorn) belting out the sinister words of “Strange Fruit”: there is “blood on the leaves and blood at the root.” She has been singing this song, and living its reality, for years, and she is tired. 

The Sun exactly conjunct our natal Uranus on the Descendant ignites a spark: passions and buildings go up in flames. Retrograde Venus, also under intense pressure from Mars, hovers over our collective Gemini 7th house of “The Other.” The faultlines in the relationships between races are once again exposed, and the age-old debate is revived: which is more effective, peaceful protest or violent uprising? But, you see, they tried taking a knee, and look at how far that got them. Our Venus avatar in this scenario, Martin Luther King, Jr. (natal North Node 27 Capricorn) even admitted, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” And our Mars, Malcolm X (natal Jupiter 22 Capricorn) said “I am for violence, if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American black man’s problem—just to avoid violence.” Mars just might have the advantage here, but it’s anybody’s guess.

Pallas Athena and Saturn are on the critical degrees of 0 and 1 Aquarius—there is rebellion, and it is organized. This is a new, savvy generation of protestor, the grandchildren of the Panthers and the freedom fighters—it may look like chaos out there, but they are careful and they are prepared, and they are carrying the banner of their forebears, in hopes that this time there will be true equality, and true liberation, for all people.

Pluto got as far as 24 Capricorn this past February and then went retrograde on May 1. It will station direct in October and then start again on its path. Due to its slow motion and next year’s retrograde, it won’t reach 27 until February of 2022. In other words, what is happening now is far from over. But it has been written in the stars forever and must come to pass. How we choose to respond to it, to learn from it, and to survive it, is the personal work that each of us must do. 

After being denied service at a whites-only motel (and then arrested for protesting), singer Sam Cooke (natal Sun 1 Aquarius, Saturn and Mercury in Capricorn) was inspired to write the lyrics to a song that would come to be an anthem to the black experience and the Civil Rights movement. Like Billie before him, there is pain and exhaustion in his voice when he sings it, but there is ultimate, persistent hope as well, as he reminds himself: “It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know, a change is gonna come.” Maybe this time it will. 

Using Format