Pluto in Aquarius – Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

by Agent 36 – Michele Finey

With life on Earth is under threat from a range of human activities, we are about to enter an epoch of social revolution that will shake the foundations of the global community. Michele Finey explores the history, themes and symbols of this epic transit to reveal how Pluto in Aquarius will reshape our future.

PLUTO’S LOCATION BY SIGN marks out generational themes of historical significance. It brings deep transformation and upheaval to matters associated with its sign placement. Owing to Pluto’s elliptical orbit, these turbulent periods of history span between 13 and 33 years. In 2008 Pluto shifted into Capricorn and the global financial crisis hit. Since then we have witnessed tremendous turmoil across the political and economic spectrum. Now we are entering a new era of social revolution that will shake the foundations of the global community in new ways.

Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces, the last three signs of the zodiac, are known as collective signs. They are associated with broad concepts that are impersonal. With Pluto, agent of revolution and rebirth, moving through this last segment of the zodiac, the entire world is interconnected and invested in this process regardless of whether we are conscious of the fact or not.

The last time that transformative Pluto moved through humanitarian Aquarius, the people of France revolted against their dictatorial and extravagant monarchy. On 14 July, 1789 they stormed the Bastille, starting the French Revolution. Mobs of people (Aquarius) projected their repressions (Pluto) back upon those in power. ‘Equality, Liberty and Fraternity’ was the Aquarian catch cry of the day. Now we are entering a period of human history where a similar cry for freedom and equality will echo across the globe.

Here we find there is a surge of new ideas (Aquarius) that confronts the powers that be (Pluto). This era is intrinsic to scientific, social and political revolution. New scientific discoveries (Aquarius) that revolutionise the economic system (Pluto) are set to alter the social order and transform our world.

Pluto in Aquarius differs from Pluto in Leo, (the opposing sign) where powerful leaders and megalomania are rife, such as we saw erupt in 1939 at the start of WWII. But Aquarius is a collective sign, where groups and communities are the realm where Pluto’s process of rebirth acts. In order to attain equality and freedom, people are willing to stand up against powerful leaders who they perceive as threatening their survival and free-expression. Groups and communities are set to rise up against entrenched political powers and institutions that have sought to control and manipulate the populace. What emerges is a striking and permanent shift in the balance of power.

HISTORY

The American Revolution commenced in 1775, just a few years before Pluto last entered Aquarius, continuing throughout this turbulent cycle until 1783. Subsequently the United States refused to accept any more convicts from England and an alternative solution to England’s overcrowded prisons was sought. Following Captain James Cook’s voyages of discovery, the First Fleet set sail for Australia in 1787 to establish a new penal colony. This was an era of tremendous social change across all levels of society as invading Europeans transformed Indigenous communities, bringing destruction and disease. Pluto, as the agent of death and rebirth, also brought radical social change to places like Russia. Catherine the Great came to power in 1762 when Pluto was in Capricorn. She orchestrated a coup against her husband Peter III and claimed the throne. Catherine became a passionate advocate for education, the arts and human rights. She ruled Russia until 1796, throughout Pluto’s entire sojourn in Aquarius.

The USA will have its Pluto return in 2022, just 12 months before Pluto moves into Aquarius. The significance of this return should not be overlooked. The seeds of a potential new US revolution have been germinating ever since the global financial crisis. The election of Donald Trump was one form of protest orchestrated by a disaffected middle class. But with Pluto shifting into Aquarius, a totally new set of values is emerging. Younger generations in particular are keenly aware of the many global issues we face, and not just in the USA. More and more we are witnessing people take to the streets in protest against the lack of leadership on important matters like climate change and the environment.  It’s likely that these protests will gain political traction as we move into this new Aquarian era with human rights and the future of humanity uppermost in our collective minds.

MORE AQUARIAN INFLUENCES 

Before Pluto shifts into Aquarius, Saturn will pave the way. Saturn will be in Aquarius from 22 March 2020 until 8 March 2023[1] reframing political objectives to a more principled, progressive and forward thinking agenda. This time period includes an approximately three month period during which Saturn retrogrades back into Capricorn,
before returning to Aquarius.

Much has been written about the 20 year Jupiter-Saturn cycle. These key stellar players commence a new synodic cycle at the 2020 December solstice at precisely 00AQ29, ushering in a fresh Aquarian agenda.

In addition, Venus and Mars will unite in two powerful conjunctions, the first of which happens within days of the USA Pluto Return in February 2022.  Two exact conjunctions of Venus and Mars will take place a few weeks apart. These alignments are significant because they will be the first conjunctions within two new series of Venus-Mars conjunctions.[2]. We have not witnessed the birth of a new series since 1983 and that was the third in the current group of five (1964-2034). It is interesting to note that the group before this started in 1665 and ended in 1736.[3]

Of particularly significance the second of these 2022 Venus-Mars conjunctions will take place at precisely 00AQ01, at the very gateway to Aquarius. This will open a portal of Aquarian influence that will infuse us personally and collectively with a potent humanitarian agenda. Coming just twelve months before Pluto shifts into Aquarius, at the same time at the US Pluto return and with Saturn also in the sign of the water-bearer, this surge of Aquarian energy is set to transform the social order. Our personal relationships, how we go about our daily lives and every aspect of life looks set for a dramatic overhaul, and it could start well before Pluto shifts into Aquarius.

Aquarius is original, principled and progressive. A marriage of the air element with the fixed quality, Aquarius is determined, but also experimental in its outlook. Scientific innovation is high on the Aquarian agenda. Originality and logic go hand-in-hand to spawn new inventions. Aquarius always has an eye on the future. With Pluto here there’s a tendency towards decentralisation as groups and communities reassert and reclaim power, joining forces and linking up in networks to share resources. This is likely to include sharing electricity that is generated and stored across neighbourhoods. Wind power is just one of many fields that will gain traction in this new economy, helped along by Uranus in Taurus inspiring the building of new green infrastructure. Pluto in Aquarius seeks to level the playing field so that power is shared more equitably. Personal ownership will be largely superseded by group sharing and co-operatives are likely to flourish.

It’s not just astrologers like me who are forecasting these changes. In his book, The Third Industrial Revolution, best-selling author Jeremy Rifkin discusses how lateral power, technology and renewable energy will soon transform life on earth. Rifkin outlines the many opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

We will need to be prepared by readying the human race to shift out of an industrial existence and into a collaborative future just as our great-grandparents made the shift from an agricultural and rural existence to an industrial and urban way of life.[4]

Distribution is a key function of the sign of the water-bearer. Aquarius pours forth all manner of life sustaining concepts and materials. Aquarius is an air sign, but water plays a key role in its symbolism. Water purifies and cleanses. The Sun moves through Aquarius mostly in February, which comes from the Latin, ‘februare’ meaning ‘to purify’. The water-bearer showers us with a feeling of refreshment. This is a fresh beginning. A new day is dawning.

In myth, Aquarius is linked to the beautiful youth Ganymede, who so impressed Zeus that he made him his immortal cup-bearer. Ganymede provided ambrosia to the gods to sustain their immortality. Aquarius renews and brings life. Ganymede was also Zeus’ lover, so Pluto in Aquarius may also help to uphold the rights of the LBGTIQ community as well as those who are otherwise marginalised.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

New clashes with old when Pluto moves through Aquarius, as advanced concepts emerge based on fresh discoveries. In 1781 when Pluto was last in Aquarius, the wildcard planet Uranus was discovered, forever altering the cosmology. Because of their symbolic similarities, Uranus has been accepted by many astrologers as the true ruling planet of Aquarius. Apart from its unexpected discovery and its unusual rotation, the symbolic meaning of Uranus also stems from the fact that it was discovered during this epic time in history, a time of radical social turmoil as the First Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution and the American Revolutions forever transformed society.

It’s easy to see how Uranus has gained acceptance as the ruling planet of Aquarius over the traditional ruler Saturn. New discoveries are part and parcel of the Aquarian motif as new concepts and inventions propel us towards the future.

An earlier, but equally radical overhaul of the map of the solar system happened 238 years before Uranus was discovered, when Pluto was also in Aquarius. In 1543 Copernicus first set down his findings that the Sun and not the Earth was the centre of the solar system. Copernicus passed away in 1543, but shortly before his death.[5] he published his ideas concerning the heliocentric nature of the solar system, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres). His book completely revolutionised the thinking of the day. Of course there were many nay-sayers, just as today there are those who deny the reality of climate change.

Aquarius is the sign most associated with technology and science, and Pluto has deep roots that stretch back through past generations. With Pluto located in the sign that Uranus rules, one might expect that there will be people who will find it hard to accept these changes, given that both planets are impersonal in their focus. Future possibilities and new discoveries always confront old ways of doing things, but this is especially so when Pluto is in Aquarius. Because something has always been done a certain way, does not necessarily make it correct. Today, with the future of life on our planet at stake, the need for an awakening is urgent. With Pluto in Aquarius it seems that we are set for a mighty intense encounter that is set to shake things up. This will be the mission of youth. As the millennial generation, those born with Neptune in Aquarius (1996-2011), come of age we are starting to witness a wide ranging philosophical shift towards a more compassionate and humanitarian paradigm.

MORE LESSONS FROM HISTORY

Between 1532 and 1554 Pluto in Aquarius continued to undermine the power of the Roman Catholic Church, as the Protestant Reformation spread across Europe. The Reformation began with Pluto in Capricorn as it made a conjunction with Saturn in January 1518. This was when Martin Luther’s 1517 theses of complaint against the church was translated and distributed throughout Europe. Word spread quickly thanks to the printing press and increased literacy. People who were previously afraid to speak out against the power and corruption of the church created their own system of worship and belief led by the likes of Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox. With Pluto in Aquarius the ultimate consequences of these revolutionary forces were dramatic and far reaching.

The imminent transit of Pluto through Aquarius is again likely to bring about systemic reform to corrupt institutions. This time around Pluto in Aquarius is once again following a conjunction of Pluto and Saturn in Capricorn (2020) a stellar arrangement that we have not witnessed in that sign since 1518.

At the start of Pluto’s journey through Aquarius in 1532, Henry VIII defied the authority of Rome. He divorced his first wife, Katherine of Aragon and married Anne Boleyn, establishing himself as the head of the Church of England. He then set about dissolving the Monasteries in England, Wales and Ireland (1536-41), appropriating their assets and income. It was at this time (1543) that Copernicus presented his theory that the Earth and the planets orbited the Sun, further undermining the authority of Rome.

In January 1547, Henry VIII died. He was succeeded by his only son, Edward VI, who accelerated the agenda of religious reform initiated by his father, despite being only a young boy king. In 1549, the first English Prayer book was introduced. Although it might not seem like a big deal by today’s standards, at the time this was a radical change. Edward died in 1553 and those who were eager to continue his political influence installed Lady Jane Grey as Queen not wanting the country to return to Catholicism under Mary I.  This rebellion was thwarted and nine days later Mary I was installed as Queen, setting the scene for further turmoil as she set about returning England to Catholicism with equal zeal as Pluto began to move into Pisces.

At the same time in South America the Spanish, led by Pizarro, were insisting that the Inca convert to Christianity. In 1533 the Inca Empire stretched across vast reaches of the Andes. However the Spanish stole their gold and silver and brutally massacred and enslaved their people, while European diseases like smallpox and measles systematically destroyed their empire.

THE INGRESS CHART

The moment that Pluto shifts into humanitarian Aquarius signals the commencement of this new era and the chart for this momentous event holds clues as to its likely manifestation. The first thing to note is that this ingress happens hot on the heels of the 2023 March Equinox. There’s a stellar line up of planets in enterprising Aries, including Chiron and freedom-loving Jupiter. Mars, Aries ruling planet, is at 29GE03 making a tight square to the Sun and also a quincunx to Pluto, suggesting this will not be an easy process.

The need for cleansing and healing of the environment is clearly indicated by Pluto’s conjunction with asteroid Hygeia, goddess of health and hygiene while both are squared by the Nodal Axis. Note also that Saturn has just concluded its transit of Aquarius, passing the Aquarian baton to Pluto.

The challenge will be to implement a humanitarian agenda and progressive policies and, despite the obstacles that still lie ahead, to have the courage of our convictions as we move into uncharted territory.

THE NEW REALITY

Uranus in Taurus is propelling us towards a green economy with business rather than politicians leading the way. Cryptocurrencies are also radically shifting the economic structure. Pluto in Aquarius will augment these revolutionary trends. As with all revolutions, we will probably initially struggle to make the necessary alterations.

As we make the shift towards a sustainable lifestyle, it’s worth mentioning that after Pluto has been in Aquarius for a couple of years, Uranus and Pluto will form five trine aspects (2026-2028) with Uranus in Gemini. This is likely to be a highly creative, inventive and productive time, when new technology will transform society in ways we can barely imagine.

The last time that Pluto was in Aquarius (1778-99) there was huge growth in the number of corporations, as groups of people (Aquarius) began to buy shares (Pluto). Between 1781 and 1790 the number of corporations in the US grew from just 33 to 328[6]. Global trade exploded which eventually spawned growing opposition to slavery. Today, there are many people who suffer appalling working conditions, not to mention those who are unable to find work, or who are homeless, or otherwise disadvantaged. Pluto in Aquarius will overhaul the workforce as artificial intelligence makes for more redundancies and new digital technologies are rolled out. For many years the rich have been getting richer, which has exposed the lie of the trickle down economy. Pluto in Aquarius is set to shake the foundations of our social structures as fossil fuels are mothballed and the green economy seeds the growth of sustainable practices. Don’t be surprised if Pluto in Aquarius creates a groundswell of protest against poverty and inequality. Some will say that the new Aquarian advances have caused the problem, but in the long run Pluto in Aquarius will bring about a more fair and equitable system while also creating a swathe of new employment opportunities.

Pluto (Scorpio) and Aquarius (Uranus) are both fixed entities, not given to flexibility or compromise. But both are also symbolic of dramatic transformation that is forced to occur. Equally, these archetypes are associated with two vastly different elements that do not mix easily, water (Pluto) and air (Aquarius). They have different agendas and perceptions. Aquarius is scientific and rational, an air sign, while Pluto is connected to the depth of the water element, which feels things internally and deeply and seeks to maintain control and power. Whenever water and air come together there is an agitating, stirring, aerating bubbling up of forces. And yet, Aquarius has within it, an understanding of water, given its role to distribute this life giving element.

The shift from Pluto in cardinal earth sign Capricorn, to fixed air sign Aquarius, takes us from a political agenda to a principled one. Aquarius values concepts and ideas, knowledge and innovation. While Capricorn is pragmatic, Aquarius won’t stand for hypocrisy and does not hesitate to speak out against corruption and prejudice.

With Pluto moving through Aquarius (2023-44) the hope is that a new generation of young people will exert their power and influence and lead the way towards a fresh healthy future of new and exciting possibilities.


Distribution is a key function of the sign of the water-bearer. Aquarius pours forth all manner of life sustaining concepts and materials. Aquarius is an air sign, but water plays a key role in its symbolism.  Water purifies and cleanses.


[1] This time period includes an approximately three month period during which Saturn retrogrades back into Capricorn, before returning to Aquarius.

[2]Venus-Mars cycles are born as a pair of conjunctions that happen a few weeks apart. While the first conjunction is a retrograde cycle that lasts about 300 years, the second is a direct cycle lasting much longer. Within these cycles Venus and Mars unite at 32 year intervals. When these cycles commence they herald new eras of social change.

[3]M Finey, The Sacred Dance of Venus and Mars, The Wessex Astrologer, 2012.

[4] J Rifkin, The Third Industrial Revolution, St Martin’s Griffin, 2013. p.265.

[5] It is said that Copernicus was presented with a copy of his book on the day he died. Viewed 15 October, 2019.

[6] J Bakan, The Corporation, Constable and Robinson, 2004, page 9.

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