Shadowlands—Pluto Retrograde—April 25th—October 4th
For those who are just beginning to emerge from a surreal dreamscape after months of confinement, the world may seem freshly washed, the air intoxicatingly sweet. For those who are still marooned on uncertain ground, far from home, devoid of landmarks, suspended in a state of waiting, the long days melt into weeks. Time stretches like spun sugar.
It’s been almost a week now since Pluto, dark god of the Underworld stationed Retrograde (April 25th 24° Capricorn.) Pluto abducts us and takes us into the Shadowlands of our psyche, and draws up all that is foetid, rotten, in the world. As Pluto moved Retrograde, the tense square to Eris (Goddess of Discord) and Mercury (God of communication and increasingly our mental health), has once again highlighted the restrictions for the good of all (Saturn in Aquarius) that grip us tightly, shut us away from the hunger of the homeless.
Today is Beltane, May Day, a spring festival that has been celebrated with singing and dancing and feasting for centuries to celebrate nature’s greening as icing sugar white blossoms that flutter like confetti from the trees. Today, in some countries, naked emperors wrap our lives in rules and restrictions that sit uncomfortably for those of us who know the story of the Hand Maid’s Tale.
Mercury conjoins Uranus (7° Taurus) on May Day, reflecting perhaps stirrings of rebellion as our personal freedoms are curtailed, perhaps for some, a sense of liberation as we appreciate the small miracles that sparkle in the spaces of the day. This too shall pass. Yet, it doesn’t take a crystal ball or the metaphor of astrology to know that this is the end of a way of life for all of us, except the Plutocrats. Air travel, shopping, cruise ships and holidays will never be the same again. There will be many more widows who cook stones for their hungry children.
From May 11th, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn prepare to loop backwards in Retrograde through the heavens. Expect reversals, lockdowns, slow starts. And if our leaders fail to learn from his-story, civil unrest.
As Pluto and Jupiter in Capricorn move in tandem through the heavens, (April 4th, June 30th and November 12th) we may see a resurgence of COVID-19, and certainly a second wave on the pandemic in some countries.
Pluto Retrograde cycles may drag us down, compel us to enter those forsaken places, where, as Dylan Thomas wrote, we “hold a beast, an angel, and a madman…”
In myth, Pluto demands surrender, the letting go of a way of life that now may feel like an uncomfortable fit as we inhabit the twilight of these in-between months. As we sit and wait.
In myth, Pluto’s realm was Hades, the place of death and darkness. Jupiter was a sky god; his realm limitless. Optimistic Jupiter lifts, expands, amplifies, and spreads. He may inflate our confidence and our hubris as Pluto draws out all that is hidden in the shadows and exposes all that is rotten in our communities and self-serving plutocracies.
These planets will both be in Retrograde as Venus emerges from her Retrograde period in Gemini, a sign that is associated with our lungs, with our well-washed hands. As this pandemic peaks or recedes in some countries, there may be a sense of breathing out, easing up, a gradual emerging into the world once more between May 14th and June 25th, at least until the final Pluto/Jupiter conjunction perfects on November 12th. A volatile self-centred Mars will be in combustible Aries from June 27th to January 6th, 2021. Mars will be Retrograde from September 10th to November 13th, moving direct 10 days after the big reveal of the US elections.
Pluto transits are slow and often painful if our hearts are impatient, if our hands “grab”, and our eyes are too dim to see the hidden treasure concealed in things. Some nations are experiencing Pluto’s power of break-down and destruction—the UK since 2013 when Pluto began to conjoin the UK Sun and oppose the UK Moon. In America, the land of the free, Pluto opposes the US Mercury (communication, paranoia, truth and trust) from 2017 to 2024.
The American nation dances with the Fates as the nation’s Pluto Return (2022-23) marks the culmination of a cycle that began on July 4th, 1776 when America declared independence from Britain and pledged to uphold democracy and freedom.
Psychiatrist Dr Lise Van Susteren co-author of the book, Emotional Inflammation, describes the anticipatory anxiety and pre-traumatic stress that has emerged in this uncertain time, as emotional inflammation.
She reminds us that the parietal lobe of our brain lights up when we work collaboratively, when feel compassion, when we transcend our own feelings and reach out with generosity; when we become what she calls an “upstander” instead of a “bystander.”
Gandhi once said that when the people lead, the leaders will follow. Mohandas Gandhi was born under a Pluto/Jupiter conjunction in earthy Taurus, and in 1931 when Pluto and Jupiter met once more in Cancer, he defied the British ban against Indians collecting salt from the ocean and selling it, leading one of the world’s most powerful non-violent campaigns. Author Lynne Mc Taggart writes, “a single collective directed thought is all it takes to change the world.”
As we sit and wait, may we flex our courage, direct our thoughts. May we turn back towards the breathing earth, our Home.
Light breaks where no sun shines. Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart push their tides—Dylan Thomas
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The Girl with the Pearl Earring—Banksy.