Transiting (TR) Pluto, now moving very slowly retrograde at 24+ Capricorn, precisely opposite the US Mercury, symbolizes, among other possibilities, not only the ongoing national obsessions and projections about COVID19, but about other matters as well, race included, as well as the economy, related subjects (discussed below). The natal (N) Mercury-Pluto opposition (as distinguished from the present transit) symbolizes the projection of “dark” qualities onto people of color, starting with Native Americans and extending to the current situation. The present transit, reiterating the natal Mercury-Pluto aspect, brings the natal material into full view; we can see once again that Americans for the most part like to think of themselves (Mercury) as homeowners and family-folk seeking security above all (Cancer), tendencies reiterated by the other three N planets in Cancer.[1] Playing the role of Mercury throughout the nation’s history, the people have tended to project Pluto onto others – or, at least, people considered as “other,” even if they qualify as American citizens (e.g. millions of people of color), attributing to those people qualities or tendencies that they either don’t have or don’t have to the extent often imagined, qualities and tendencies that rightly belong to the projector.[2]

By referring to obsessions and projections, I don’t mean that the country doesn’t face real problems, whether about viruses, race, or other matters, but only that those problems arise as projections of something unregenerate in the national psyche. We might recall the words of James Baldwin about the “negro problem” as intimately connected with a sickness – perhaps we could even say a virus – in the soul of the country.[3] The natal (N) Mercury-Pluto opposition suggests that Americans will too often ignore the problem, thus ensuring that it gets projected out, for oppositions often split, with one end experienced as part of the self and the other experienced via projected energies. Thus, for many decades, arose the “negro problem,” as if the problem arose in black people, not in the nation’s (so to speak) soul.

The N opposition appears continuously in our history via the rhetoric (Mercury) emerging from a press (Mercury) under plutocratic (Pluto) control. Thus the similarity in the descriptions of, say, Native Americans, African-Americans, Cubans, Middle-Easterners of all sorts, and even Russians – and, these days, the Chinese.

Because Pluto made a station (on April 25) precisely opposite the US natal (N) Mercury at 24+ Cancer, things seem pretty much stuck – as do economic matters, for the TR opposition takes place in the “money houses” of the nation’s horoscope: from N Mercury in the 8th to TR Pluto in the 2nd. And, of course, the US N Pluto also falls in the N 2nd house, so the present situation mirrors and reiterates a set of economic questions, the answers to which seem vital to the nation’s health, both literally and figuratively. It’s almost as if Baldwin had studied the US horoscope.[4] (See the attached two-wheeler.)

The astrological information goes a long way to explaining why the United States has made such a mess of the “race problem,” not to mention the current situation with the virus.

The house positions related to the present transit and natal position of the relevant planets (Mercury and Pluto) point to the importance of economic factors and other matters swept under whatever rugs seem at the ready: the 2nd, 8th and 12th. The 2nd and 8th both deal with money, symbolizing the nation’s finances (2nd) and its financial or value-oriented relations with other nations or groups (8th). The US Sun and Mercury in the 8th, with Venus and Jupiter on the cusp (rulers of the midheaven and ascendant respectively) suggest the way this country has established its security (Cancer) by taking the resources, including the people, from other people and places. The nation began by stealing land from the indigenous people of this continent, largely for economic reasons; not much later began the stealing of people from Africa in a process that had clear economic motivations, for slavery generally proves a good business practice – as does “wage slavery.”

The present transits of Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto through the US 2nd house point, obviously enough, to the present economic upheaval, and the transit of Pluto to N Pluto, already somewhat in effect but not exact until 2022, marks the end of an economic cycle that began with the birth of the nation in 1776. The 2022 transit may bring the economy to its knees (Capricorn)[5] – or worse. The present transit (TR Pluto opposite N Mercury) points to the obvious obsessions and projections mentioned above, obsessions and projections encouraged by the Plutonic (plutocratic, if you prefer) press (N Mercury opposing N Pluto) and including the Black Lives Matter movement. It also tells us (via the houses involved) that economic problems play at least as important a role as racially-motivated ones. After all, even as some (not all, obviously) overt racism has dissipated, economic disparities remain and, according to some sources, keep getting worse. Some studies offer the following figures regarding average family wealth: $139,300 for non-Hispanic whites; $12, 920 for blacks – a more-than ten-to-one disparity even after decades of desegregation and over a century and a half after the end of slavery.

              The 12th house enters the picture because the racial and financial problems too often remain hidden, even if in plain sight. The 12th symbolizes that which the nation prefers to ignore; with Pluto as the ruler of its 12th, this country prefers to ignore the Pluto-related matters discussed above, but the current transit has brought all manner of 12th house matters to the surface (including, for example, problems related to hospitals and confinement). Thus we have seen, in recent years, not only Black Lives Matter, but also Occupy Wall Street (related to plutocratic finances), plus #MeToo (Pluto as the mythological rapist and abductor) and other problems related to sex and power.

              The plutocratic hierarchy (Pluto in Capricorn) finds itself under threat, but we should remember that the press plays a major role in fomenting upheaval and in controlling thought (the natal Mercury-Pluto aspect). Furthermore, Pluto can induce an obsessive and compulsive state of mind (Mercury) throughout the nation, driven by long-inheld (12th) rage that, however justified, may not think strategically, but only in terms of destroying the old, with Pluto symbolizing, as Dane Rudhyar said many decades ago, death and the possibility – not the guarantee – of rebirth. The plutonium bomb destroys, and its main creation is harmful radiation. We must all, therefore include in our thinking a reference to fundamental values, considering not only what must die, but also what new life might arise from that death, what values will endure, and how we will all relate to earth – phrases that might remind us of problems related to climate change, an ongoing process that will likely bring death to many people and institutions, even if we solve the problems discussed above.[6]

ERRATA: A few months back, I claimed, erroneously, that the previous Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn took place in 549 CE and coincided with the Plague of Justinian, a bubonic epidemic that did so much to speed the final collapse of the Roman Empire. I hold to most of what I said, but I would say “a previous” instead of “the previous.” There have been a few other such conjunctions in Capricorn, with perhaps the most notable taking place in 1518 at 4+ Capricorn and connected to the first transmission of smallpox to the New World mainland in 1820 (i.e. according to one source; another source mentions a 1516 smallpox epidemic in the Yucatan). Though the disease had appeared as early as 1509 in the Caribbean Islands, it apparently did not get to the mainland until almost a decade later. According to some sources, the disease eventually wiped out at least half of the population and obviously facilitated the Spanish conquest. (The Aztec’s repulsed Cortez’ first attack, but the second (1821) took place after the disease had ravaged the army and the general population, the people having contracted the condition from Cortez’ army.) The Aztec empire collapsed quickly.

ADDENDA: I feel indebted to my old friend Antero Alli for spurring me into an investigation of Eris and pointing out that that very distant planet (or, if you prefer, celestial object, or perhaps” dwarf planet”) presently hovers at 24+ Aries, precisely square the US Mercury even as TR Pluto opposes it, making Eris the focal planet of a t-square formed by transit. Though I have been studying Eris via Henry Seltzer’s excellent book on the subject (The Tenth Planet: Revelations from the Astrological Eris) I don’t feel ready to make specific statements (partly because of Eris’ astronomical and, it seems, behavioral similarities with Pluto) about how it manifests, beyond the following, which comes from Mr. Seltzer but which accords with my observations so far: “The astrology of Eris seems to be related to the no-holds-barred fight for continued existence that is fundamental to all natural processes, and for making a stand for what one believes, even if violence is involved.” That plus a strong connection to women’s warriorship, as Mr. Seltzer notes.

[1] The Sun, Jupiter, and Venus. Jupiter rules the Sagittarius Ascendant; Venus rules the Libra Midheaven. The N Moon in Aquarius in the 3rd adds to the Cancer emphasis that of Aquarius: the people, even as they seek security, prefer to see themselves as progressives, reflecting Uranus (one of Aquarius’ rulers), though with a hidden affinity with authority (Saturn, the other ruler). And this: N Uranus lies near the Descendant, suggesting the projection of Uranus’ progressive rebelliousness onto other nations and peoples so that they appear as enemies, another pattern traceable in the nation’s history.

[2] For recent projections of Pluto, consider the ongoing relations of the United States with all sorts of Middle Eastern people. The situation with Iraq seems particularly noteworthy, as the US kept claiming that Iraq had stashes of “weapons of mass destruction” even as our military sat atop piles and piles of such weapons. Michael Paul Rogin’s Fathers and Children: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian gives extensive treatment of the national projection onto native peoples, though Rogin uses different terminology (and doesn’t use astrology). See also my Your Hidden Face: Projection in the Horoscope (AFA, 2014).

[3] Do not consider this an exact quote. I offer it from memory. I don’t remember whether it comes from one of Mr. Baldwin’s books, from his essays, or from his speeches.

[4] As I have said before, I use the “Rudhyar Chart” for the country.

[5] The transit takes place in Capricorn, ruler of the knees.

[6] The symbolism of Taurus, the polar opposite of Scorpio. As Marc Edmund Jones pointed out many decades ago, and as Antero Ali did more recently, we can work more effectively with outer planet transits by emphasizing the energies of the sign opposite the one ruled by the planet-in-question.


  1. The 2022 Pluto transit on US natal Pluto sounds ominous. Can you elaborate on that or perhaps make it a subject of a future article?

    • Christina: I will quite likely deal with the subject soon. Because the US Pluto has such an important aspect with the US Mercury, even the current transits affect the economy, so far negatively. Remember, though, that Pluto effects transformations, some of which may prove beneficial in the long run even if painful in the short. Though its true that countries usually make the biggest mess possible of all challenging transits, it’s also true that we see people like Elizabeth Warren, Ms. AOC, Bernie Sanders, and some others in positions of influence. That sort of development wouldn’t have happened thirty years ago. So I hold out hope that the changes will bring benefit. Thanks. Tim Lyons (

      • Thank you Tim for pointing out the potential positives of the hard aspects we’re dealing with and scary as it is Pluto does seem necessary. I for one, feel more hopeful every day that we are making our way to a dynamic new leadership in our country as Trump continues to free fall. I’ll stay tuned for more details. Christina

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