Sun Signs by Whitney Will

The past several years have been harrowing, to put it simply. From the personal to the political, the stresses of the pandemic have exhumed many things from our personal and collective histories. At a national level and through the lens of astrology, this is to be expected as the United States approaches the first exact hit of its Pluto Return.

Nations also have astrology birth charts, a tool used by astrologers to describe the life, characteristics and features of a person born at a specific time and location. In this case, a chart tells of the culture and characteristics of an entire country. For the United States of America, most astrologers use a chart based on the signing of the Declaration of Independence as the moment our country was born.

Planetary returns describe the moment when a planet returns to the precise location in the zodiac that it occupies in a birth chart. Depending upon the planet, this can happen more or less frequently. 

The moon travels the entire zodiac in a month, hence returning monthly. The sun travels through every sign over the course of a year, and each year, within a day of your birthday, you have a Solar Return. Many people have also heard of the Saturn Return, a transit that occurs between the ages of 28 and 30 years old and functions as astrology’s “coming of age” transit, the successful navigation of which makes you officially an adult.

There are some planets whose cycle takes so long that no human experiences their return. Uranus takes 84 years, Neptune 165, and Pluto a whopping 248 years. While no human can experience a Pluto Return, nations and empires are forced to examine their own underworlds when Pluto comes back around.

While all three exact hits of the United States’ Pluto Return will happen in 2022, the slow-moving nature of Pluto means that we are already experiencing it and we have been since 2008, when Pluto first moved into Capricorn. Before we jump into an examination of this transit, let’s take a look at the natal position of Pluto in the Declaration chart.

At the time of the signing of the Declaration, Pluto was toward the end of Capricorn at 27 degrees, falling in the part of the chart that relates to resources, how they are acquired and how one manages finances. In this position, Pluto describes a fixation or complex that the United States will and does have with economics, and a difficulty in relating to this topic with any kind of moderation. When it comes to money, the United States as an entity is likely to relate in compulsive ways and with a great deal of psychological shadow involved.

When Pluto comes back around, we will have to reconcile with the darker parts of our history. As mentioned, the themes of this process of reviewing our own shadowy history began simmering when Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008 and the Great Recession popped the bubble on financial systems that controlled vast sums of wealth, calling into question our banking systems.

The exact return reaches much deeper, touching the core of shame in the country’s history of racism and the uncomfortable truth that the land we enjoy was taken forcibly from indigenous people; a great deal of our economic stability was built through the slave trade and the ceaseless extraction of natural resources. The unrest around the topics of racism, capitalism and climate change are palpable in the tension of the public discourse. Some are seeking to hide and cover up this shame through limiting what can be taught in schools, some are filled with anger and many with despair. The pandemic has brought much to light about the weaknesses and failures of the richest country in the world to take care of its own.

Wrestling with our shadows and shame is Plutonian work, and calls us to engage with the underworld. We cannot do this work and stay the same. The Pluto Returns of 2022 are likely to see some of this darkness brought to light, and choices will be made that will set the course for the next 248 year cycle.

Raised in Carbondale, Whitney Will is a professional astrologer, writer and teacher. For courses and readings, visit:

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