Astrology of the U.S. Pluto Return: 2017–2024

Ronnie Pontiac
14 min readJan 6, 2020


We have a rare combination of powerful planetary aspects clustered around January 12, 2020. Will they bring disaster or redemption, or more likely, a little of both.

“Apocalyptic propaganda is the basis of western religion. It’s a control mechanism by instilling fear. You instill the fear so people won’t think clearly. Everything is there to disrupt the creative intelligence so it doesn’t flow with clarity and coherence. So fearing the apocalyptic is just a mining tool they’ve been using since they came up with the concept of the male dominator god.” John Trudell


Take this with a grain of salt. Astrology is a science for poets, metaphor sneaking around with mathematics. Like the Bible, astrology can drive you crazy if you surrender free will and become addicted to constant guidance. Astrology is a conversation with the heavens. A map of shifting possibilities, not an infallible oracle. There is no doom in astrology. Only the spectrum of choices. Your good choice may be someone else’s bad choice. Hard aspects can have happy results. Happy aspects can disappoint, and sometimes harm, by causing excess or false optimism.

Pluto is generational. For example, Barack Obama was our first modern president born with Pluto in Virgo. Unlike the generation born with Pluto in Leo, exemplified by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the Pluto in Virgo generation of leaders tend to be more like managers than politicians. With the election of Donald Trump we returned to a Pluto in Leo president.

Pluto in Cancer the generation of Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan, FDR, Hitler, the WW2 generation, the so called “greatest Generation” were nationalistic, insular, suspicious of liberties, frequently conformist. Of course, they produced brilliant exceptions like Gertrude Stein and Allen Ginsberg. A generation devoted to mother and family. Brittle wholesomeness at surface, treacherous sensitivity underneath. Inhibition hand in hand with censorship and suppression. Capable of great cruelty, but also of phenomenal acts of self sacrifice and compassion.

Their children, the Leo generation, brought welcome sunshine after the gloom of the moon. Boomers grew up individualistic, cosmopolitan, rebellious, extroverted. Pluto in Leo is sun sign Leo Mick Jagger in his prime. To shine like the sun, to prowl like a lion, to be adored, means more to them than the big picture. President Trump is a prime example of Pluto in Leo’s deluded infallibility and extroverted love of attention.

In 2008, Pluto entered Capricorn. That generation will be coming to birth for another several years, the eldest of them are turning twelve as I write this in January 2020. We need the optimism of the Pluto in Sagittarius generation, the youngest of whom are twelve, and the eldest are turning 25 this year. But it seems likely it will be the Pluto in Capicorn kids who will face the facts and do what has to be done.

The zodiac divides into quadrants. Some esoteric astrologers believe that the lower the quadrant the lower the development of the average soul incarnating during that generation. Those kids turning 12 are the first to be born in the fourth quadrant since 1772 to 1778. If these astrologers are right we will regard their generation with awe, and they will view our world as misguided and primitive.


Pluto in Scorpio 1984–1996 began snakelike in the depths of Ronald Reagan’s America when Prince, MTV and hair metal ruled the entertainment world. Cocaine, flashy clothes, greed is good, the story began. Half way through, Scorpio took wing like an eagle, Clinton was elected and the internet boom began. It seemed the world was changing for the better. The sincerity of grunge replaced hair metal and Kurt Cobain with his intimations of Keats replaced Axel Rose as the symbol of dark and deep animus. A feminine friendly archetype imprinted a few years worth of teens. Hip hop opened the eyes of the world to life in American ghettos, consequently rosy cheeked boys in Mt. Shasta flashed gang signs (and probably still do).

Out from under the eagle wing also came riot grrrl, a bonafide counter-cultural movement of young female writers, musicians and artists, who liberated thousands of themselves. It seemed the world might change forever as a generation of girls woke to demand an end to rape culture. News spread like wildfire, first flying from copiers in parent’s offices, or on Kinko’s machines jimmied with 7/11 slurpy straws, then by emails and websites.

But along came 1996. Where Scorpio was all about water, femaleness, deep dark depths and revealed secrets of sex and death, Sagittarius enters horse hung and full of charismatic bullshit swagger. The sky is the limit! There are no borders or boundaries! Sports rule! Kurt was dead. Limp Bizkit topped the charts. Jocks could safely mosh again. 1996 brought the Gingrich revolution that tied Bill Clinton’s hands, for better or worse. The set up for the appointment of President George W. Bush.

At the end of Pluto in Sagittarius, rock bands were less popular than the video game Rock Band. Kids become popular by playing Guitar Hero instead of playing guitar; the first two lines of Guy Debord’s masterpiece The Society of the Spectacle personified: “In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.”

With such skilled bullshitting, the bullshitters bullshitted themselves. They invented financial instruments even they couldn’t understand, and as Pluto entered Capricorn the world trembled, wondering what would happen when the CDS and CDO, and all the other trillion dollar crises, finally unraveled.


February 2019 to January 2025 America will experience its first Pluto return, that moment when Pluto returns to the place in the heavens it occupied when America was born.

For those who stick to how it used to be Pluto brings the ugliest experiences. The fear of a too rapidly changing world will only become worse. Imprisonment, illness, even death are Pluto’s ultimate threats. Forced destruction of orders that outlived their time.

But the other side of death is rebirth. As the past is surrendered the future arrives with fresh energy and new wonders. That is the gift of Pluto. For those who seek to embrace change Pluto can be a joyful experience. Liberation so complete it inspires awe and gratitude.

Pluto in Capricorn may bring the ultimate “practicality” of martial law. It could still mean wrenching poverty unlike current generations have ever seen, the wasteland of Saturn. But it can also mean rising to the challenge and creating unimaginable new opportunities for prosperity achieved by practicality, hard work, dedication to common sense and the common good. Ethics will no longer be a liability. Fools will not be so easily suffered.

As Pluto opposes the US Mercury from 2017–2024 problems involving infrastructure such as bridges, transportation, and digital communications are likely, but repairs will probably be postponed until absolutely necessary. That cyber attack they’ve been warning about for so long could be indicated. Paranoia, suspicion, suspense, propaganda, we still have a few years to go as the generations sort out the fate of the country. Much needed modernization of communications, voting, software and technology, will help the future avoid some of the problems we have today.


Saturn conjunct Pluto last happened in 1982. In January of that year the U.S. went into a recession, over a million jobs were lost. That year El Nino brought catastrophic floods and droughts to Australia. The Chicago Tylenol murders terrorized ordinary citizens by demonstrating the ease of drug tampering. In the U.S. election that year, Democrats regained control of Congress; that didn’t stop the President Ronald Reagan from being reelected in 1994. But that time Saturn conjunct Pluto wasn’t conjunct the U.S. natal Pluto. One could expect more drastic scenarios this time.

The usual themes for Saturn conjunct Pluto are economic contraction, changing of the guard, dying off of the power of one generation, but also that generation’s final stand as it refuses to surrender control. Saturn conjunct Pluto at its worst can mean military or corporate dictatorship, poverty, hard times, but as we view the history of Saturn Pluto conjunctions those themes appear in a more diluted way.

The great powers of concentration of Saturn conjunct Pluto favor hard work, long term plans, and achievement that requires patient step by step approaches, but also the willingness to move decisively when necessary.

Saturn and Pluto are a tricky combination. Saturn wants to keep everything the same, only get rid of what has stopped working. Pluto wants to wipe out the past and start fresh. Yet they have much in common, They both clear the way. They both can bring healing, tranquility and deep meditation. Meditation and practices like yoga can be especially helpful now.


People believe the empire is ending a thousand times before it actually does. Rash leaders court apocalyptic outcomes but the full fruition of their ignorance is rare. As an astrologer, it’s safe to say that from the perspective of the second half of the 2020s, the next few years will be seen as a time of turmoil and change. Pluto and Saturn both ripen karma, making it visible to all. With these planets on the U.S. natal Pluto. America has a lot of soul searching to do. As a collective, the human race now confronts the consequences of ignored responsibilities. Things are changing fast, but whether for the better or the worse remains to be seen.

Most astrologers expect another worldwide economic crisis, the big one after the crash of 2008. Some expect more natural disasters. Throw some earthquakes in with those fires and super storms. Others predict a Constitutional Crisis, or even a civil war when Neptune enters Aries in 2025. The last time we had Neptune in Aries the U.S. did have the Civil War. Deadly epidemics and climate disaster also come up frequently.

All of these are certainly possibilities from the astrological perspective, but I’m less pessimistic. All of this happens in Capricorn. The positive energy of Jupiter has entered Capricorn. And cautious Saturn conjuncts the Pluto return. It’s sure to be momentous, but not necessarily disastrous. There’s just too much common sense and restraint in all that Saturn and Capricorn.

Another positive factor is that the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto is in orb of the U.S. natal Pluto. but five degrees away. It’s not as intense as it might have been if they were within a degree or two, or exact. This could indicate a long term process. First, Saturn will cross the U.S. Pluto during the second half of February 2020. If there is an issue, it should become obvious then. It will perhaps be underestimated and even dismissed or at least postponed. But then Pluto will exactly conjunct the U.S. Pluto in early February 2022 and all through October 2023, which may be the real moment of crisis.

The first key moment is January 12, 2020, the only time Saturn and Pluto will be exactly conjunct. We’ll have the conjunction most of the year but this is when we should get a clear idea of what to expect. Uranus will be stationary direct, bringing the unexpected, the new, the shocking. Then Mercury will conjunct the sun conjunct Saturn conjunct Pluto. Saturn conjunct Pluto may play out in a dramatic way, though not necessarily on that day. In our own lives it’s helpful to see what challenges arise at this time. Address any weaknesses. Do not ignore repairs and reforms. Observe carefully, as Saturn and Pluto like to hide things, but they are so slow and methodical one can read the signs with sincere effort.

We could argue that the old and conservative are favored with Saturn conjunct Pluto in Capricorn. But Saturn won’t be in Capricorn much longer. Only till the end of 2020. It’s strange to think that over the next ten years we will leave behind the very conservative, nostalgic, and morose combination of Saturn in Capricorn, Pluto in Capricorn, and Neptune in Pisces. Instead we will have Saturn in Aquarius, Pluto in Aquarius, and Neptune in Aries.


Eris has been called a dwarf planet. The name refers to the ancient Greek goddess of chaos, strife and discord. Famously she was not invited to the wedding of the parents of Achilles, but she attended anyway. Her gift of a golden apple ultimately resulted in the doom of Achilles and Troy.

Since the 1950s Eris has the distinction of being the deity favored by Discordians. But to understand what Eris means to astrologers, Robert Graves is a better choice. Indiscriminate rage, slaughter, and destruction. Graves points out that to reverse the order of nature Zeus is helped by Eris. There is a quality of fate, of consequence, of vengeance against hubris signified by the astrological Eris.

Pluto has been squaring Eris since spring of 2016. Pluto moves very slowly but Eris is even slower. The square will be exact in 2020. To complicate matters this square occurs conjunct America’s Pluto Return. Big karma for the U.S, and indeed, right on schedule, Trump was elected that fall to mirror America’s shadow beyond anything we’ve seen before.

But Eris has been squaring America’s Pluto since 1989, steadily since 1992. Riot grrrl is a good symbol of the appearance of this energy. A punk movement organized by females, featuring female art dedicated to elucidating the hypocrisy and injustice of the patriarchy. Third Wave Feminism had a strongly Eris flavor.

America’s Pluto return will last through 2024. The Eris square to the US Pluto will last right through the 2030s so America’s appointment with destiny with Eris is a long term relationship.

As with individuals, how society decides to react to these challenging aspects will determine events. The more Eris is resisted the more intense the crisis. Whatever the crisis is the year 2020, the next presidential election, is ground zero. That election will be a referendum on what it means to be American.

It is possible that a theocratic Dominionist dictatorship may raise its ugly head in a coup attempt or worse. But we have the tools to reconnect the divided, to bring communication to diverse elements, to respect the variety of grievances laid bare by history. We have tools for conflict resolution and we have successful experiments in sustainable communities. However if denial and hatred prevail there may be an ugly reckoning. Acts of terror are possible. Environmental crisis, or economic collapse of some kind, are also worst case scenarios. But this will only galvanize the sense of purpose.

How as individuals can we best weather such harsh astrological conditions. Well, first consider that your karma has brought you here for this experience. You have something to learn and something to contribute. The most powerful current will be associated with bringing justice to those who have been wronged for too long.

The spectrum of vengeful anger from arguing politics online, to acts of politically motivated violence, is not the way to get the best out of Eris square Pluto.


I know people who have exemplified coming to grips with Eris in their lives. In deciding how to use their talents and resources they make their decisions based on a greater good. For example, a band mate of mine from the early 2000s was a charismatic musician with a natural gift for playing almost any instrument. His sense of style caused Hollywood stylists to follow him around when they needed ideas. He had a band with two guys much like himself. Their idea of a gig was playing a street corner with big empty water jugs for drums. Kids would swarm those gigs. I had no doubt that these were rock stars of a new generation. But he had zero interest in the fame factory. He played music for the joy of it while pursuing training as an environmental engineer.

I know an actress who toured the world but gave it up to get a Ph.D. on how to manage fires, and how to restore and protect habitats. An educator teaching inner city kids to grow organic vegetables. A collective devising revolutionary advances in community farming. These are the people building a better future for us all. They are using their time and skills wisely. This does not mean that we must all give up our vocations and become crusaders for the environment, people of color, LGBQT, or for women’s rights, but the more our decisions reflect awareness the more likely a better outcome, individually and collectively.

Historically the scarcity caused by desertification leads to the violent suppression of the rights of women and minorities. We stand at a crossroads. Will America, frozen in denial, refuse the mantle of leadership? Will we fight against the evolution of our own species? Or will we lead the way in making the changes that are necessary, in discovering new and better ways to live?

One more thing about Eris. Swedenborg wrote that the essential emotion of Hell is feeling aggrieved because we are not being supported as we wish to be. That, and indulging in pleasure over the spectacle of others being denied support, and enjoying refusing support when we can give it.

For Swedenborg the presence of this emotion of feeling wronged because we have not received the support we wanted, this bad habit of furthering the wrong by refusing support to others, and enjoying the chagrin we cause, is the sure sign of a soul headed for self-inflicted damnation. Self-inflicted, because Swedenborg believed God never damns anyone. The damned damn themselves. They aren’t thrown into Hell, they dive in. From this point of view Facebook appears to be a portal of Hell where lost souls argue over what they should or shouldn’t support. Dive in at your peril.

If you want to get the best out of Eris square Pluto in your own life extinguish grudges. Instead examine your your potential. Are you doing things you shouldn’t be? Are you taking advantage of the dispossessed in some way? How can you bring more justice to your activities? How can you help not only yourself but people who have a right to feel that they’ve been wronged? Can you help them find out that life offers them more opportunity and support than they expected? Can you give without expecting in return? Can you discriminate in the use of your resources in ways that serve the greater good? Above all, invite chaos to your wedding. Allow the unexpected into your life. Look at the world from the perspective of Eris, and you may find some serious healing for yourself and others.

John Trudell quote from an interview by Tamra Lucid.

Photo by Tamra Lucid.



Ronnie Pontiac

A place for my writing about spiritual mysteries, American Metaphysical Religion, astrology, and related subjects. As a kid I was mentored by Manly P. Hall.