The building of a new existence or the slow destruction of all: we decide.
America is in the throes of a reckoning — a judgement of its values and how it perceives its future. The violent scenes at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 laid bare an anger and injustice nursed by a not insignificant portion of the US population. The cause of this anger and perceived injustice has been laid squarely at the feet of the man whom that population worships. But if men are indeed pawns in the hands of the gods, are the instigators and perpetrators of this ugly theatre perhaps driven by forces beyond their control?
America will experience its first Pluto return in February 2022, an event that occurs about every 247 years. What the heck does a Pluto return even mean? If you are an astrology skeptic, you may look away now. If you seek some understanding of what may be driving not only the chaos of the past months, but the months to come, then read on.
Astrology is the study of planetary influences based on natal (time of birth) charts. A planetary “return” occurs when the position of a planet returns to where it was in the natal chart, at the time of birth. Pluto returns are noteworthy (and cringeworthy), because Pluto is the planet of creative destruction. Pluto is the great revealer, bringing a dark night before a rebirth. Pluto brings a purging, an exorcising and releasing of buried power, making a Pluto transit feel like an extended ordeal.
The effects of a Pluto transit are felt for a considerable period before and after the actual event. The impact of the US Pluto return began to be felt in 2017 and will continue until 2024. The election of Donald Trump in 2016 forced America to confront its deep rooted problems around race and white supremacy. Despite his assertions of being the “least racist person that you’ve ever encountered,” his election campaign was based on rhetoric over border walls, Mexican “criminals” and “rapists,” a Muslim ban and disputing the birthplace of America’s first Black president. To those who know him, this was just a continuation of his known bigotry, but to his base it granted legitimacy to their deep seated beliefs. The protests over the death of George Floyd in 2020 seemed less of a protest over the murder of one Black man, and more an explosion of revulsion over inherent racism being nurtured under Trump’s leadership.
This is quite apart from the religious zeal to which Trump cleverly attached himself in order to garner followers.
Upheaval became a constant in 2020 as citizens protested their right not to wear masks during a pandemic and people took to the streets to contest an election result, one for which no evidence was produced to prove that the result was anything but fair. While the pandemic caused global upheaval, the world’s eyes seemed eternally focused on America as it exited climate agreements, put itself first and extended a hand of friendship to dictators. The America that was previously viewed as a conciliatory leader in world affairs seemed to want to retreat into itself, confident that it was rediscovering its greatness in its bellicose trumpery.
While the country voted for a new administration in 2020, it is shocking but also very telling of the mood of its citizens, that Donald Trump received more votes than he did in 2016. The simmering racial biases in every day life became more prevalent (remember Pluto the revealer) during his tenure and a large portion of the voting population seemingly saw him as the defense against Black and Brown people rising above their station. Outgoing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, reportedly with 2024 presidential ambitions of his own, appealed to these sentiments by declaring just one day before he left office, that “…multiculturalism [is] not who America is.” If we hoped that Trump leaving office in disgrace would bring some pause to the rhetoric, what we have instead is the embers of racism being kept glowing by those intent on using prejudice as their route to power.
Then there is the outright misogyny of America’s patriarchal culture. It says something about a people when their president can continually refer to women using demeaning language and still be applauded by a large portion of its female population. So it seems fair to say that what America wants is white men in positions of power — there is little room for women or people of color. As some applauded the diversity represented at President Biden’s inauguration, the faces of a bi-racial female Vice-President, a Latina performer and a Black poet laureate would have been salt in the wounds of those disappointed by Trump’s exit from office.
And this is where the trouble lies. We hate admitting defeat and we hate admitting that we are wrong. Instead we seek avenues accepting of our hurt feelings, injured pride and deeply held belief systems. And the avenues that are now open to people who were happy prey for the far-right conspiracy theories that Trump was only too willing to take advantage of, are the domestic terrorist militia groups who believe in a White, Christian America. These groups are now recruiting disillusioned QAnon followers in droves.
While America has dedicated considerable time and resources to combating the threat of external terrorism, too little attention has been paid to its problem of domestic terrorism. The media has taken a long time to refer to White Americans as “terrorists”, promoting the idea that terrorists are only non-Christian people of color.
We can pose various questions around how and why America is where it is today. We can ponder why a nation built on stolen land can even consider other people as immigrants. We can surmise why an invading people who forcibly converted the Native Americans to their way of life and their religion, would feel so threatened by “the other.” We can examine the propaganda promoted through film — that the hero is always White, the Black side-kick is expendable and the Brown person is stupid (remember Tonto with the Lone Ranger? Well, “tonto” is Spanish for foolish). We can argue over why so many people bought into QAnon and its lies.
But none of that changes where we are today: an America suffering an identity crisis. An America intent on holding on to its hate, or an America willing to grow beyond its misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, patriarchal infancy.
I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
As James Baldwin reminds us, growth is painful. A Pluto return demands growth through pain, but it is our choice to grow or to continue clinging to our reality even as Pluto is destroying it. None of this will make sense to the people finding safety with domestic terrorist and militia groups. They are fighting an enemy that exists largely in their heads, with those beliefs being the identity for which they are willing to die. The role of reversing this terrifying trend is a daunting task, not only for the Biden administration but for each of us. It means having difficult conversations with ourselves and with our loved ones who are vulnerable to being influenced by these beliefs. It means having constructive discussions around race and white supremacy, affirmative action and a more equal distribution of wealth. It means being open to a more balanced society, with the poor and people of every color and sexual persuasion not suffering prejudice.
When astrologers look at the USA’s Pluto return, they usually fall into two camps. The first camp takes the traditional view of Pluto as the great destroyer, bringing a collapse of this great nation through civil war. This possibility is not to be mocked, particularly when one considers the domestic terrorism threat discussed here. The other camp prefers to focus on the mandatory refocus and rebuilding that must occur when Pluto uncovers what is no longer fit for purpose. The “old” America which so called “patriots” are trying to retain, no longer fits in a rapidly changing world. This isolationist America will crumble and fall. We get to decide which we want and whether we are up to the task of refocusing and rebuilding before a complete destruction.
To complicate matters, Pluto has been squaring Eris, a dwarf planet described as “Pluto’s twin”, since the spring of 2016. It is noteworthy that Pluto/Eris alignments are rare, bringing an importance to the influence this alignment is having. Squares in astrology bring tensions, obstacles and challenges. Eris is named after the Greek Goddess of chaos, strife and discord. It is no coincidence that Trump was elected in 2016, and that his tenure served to reveal the shadows which Pluto demands to be brought to light. Pluto’s square with Eris became exact in 2020 and the squaring of these planets is conjunct (aligned exactly) with America’s Pluto return.
The coming months will therefore provide plenty opportunity for disruption in America. But not all disruption is negative. Mystic Medusa Astrology is one forum focusing on the female emphasis of this alignment, based on advancements made in women’s rights during previous Pluto/Eris alignments. If America was not ready to have a woman at the helm in 2016, Eris opened the way for a female Vice-President in 2020.
The study of the planetary influences on world events provides a roadmap of what may unfold. When Pluto enters the picture we have little control over the collapsing paradigm, but full control over what we build to replace it. The first step in building a new paradigm is accepting that what sustained us, our accepted reality, is falling away. The disruption that astrologers are predicting comes from the assumption that as a nation, America will not easily release its grasp on the old reality. If we think of how opposed we are individually to change, on a collective level that translates to deep strife.
It is now up to each of us how difficult we make the task of building a new America.
When faced with a radical crisis, when the old way of being in the world, of interacting with each other and with the realm of nature doesn’t work anymore, when survival is threatened by seemingly insurmountable problems, an individual life-form…or a species…will either die or become extinct or rise above the limitations of its condition through an evolutionary leap.
Eckhart Tolle — A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.