Since America has a unique Pluto return coming up in two years I thought it would be useful to look at the previous hard aspects — multiples of 45 degrees — of Pluto to its natal position over the course of US history. As we go through these seven periods, one notices that events do not necessarily happen on the exact date of the return, but rather the hard aspect signals a shift in the future direction of the country that can be appreciated by looking backwards. Sometimes these important changes had already started before the exact Pluto aspect, but the changes set in motion will be amplified in the years following the exact aspect. And these shifts, as can be suggested by the involvement of Pluto, can be seen as a “transformation” in America. Note that in the following Pluto makes either three or five exact aspects over the course of a year and I have chosen for illustration the one in the middle, with Pluto retrograde if there are only three. The first aspect discussed is the opening semisquare with its natal position.
This period saw the first wave of Americans who had been born after the Revolutionary War come to maturity. It also saw three important changes which all bear the name “Revolution” and which were to change the face of the new country of the United States. Since these were long lasting trends, it is impossible to give exact dates for them, even though a couple do occur. These “revolutions” continued until the Civil War.
The Transportation Revolution was to change the way people moved about the country, most important to farmers — and most people were farmers then — who needed to get their crops to market in a timely manner. The transportation revolution saw roads built to allow horse drawn vehicles to move swiftly to new regions, canals built, the most famous one being the Erie Canal in New York State, and most importantly the development of the steamboat which allowed quick transportation in both directions along that major waterway in the center of the country, the Mississippi River. One landmark event in this transportation revolution was the first commercial steamboat trip at about 1pm 8-17-1807 by Robert Fulton, who had been developing the steamboat in previous years. The trip went along the Hudson River from New York City to Albany and back.
There was also the building of roads, which was important if the people who lived in the West (that is to say west of the Alleghenies) were able to get their products to market and to get products from the East Coast so they did not have to be totally self sufficient. The most famous of there roads was initially called the National Road and later the Cumberland Road (and it finally became Highway 40 — the Man Street of America that ran from Atlantic City, New Jersey to San Francisco, California). The National Road was created by an Act of Congress in 1806 but it took a few years before construction actually started.
The Communication Revolution changed the way people thought about daily happenings. There were produced an increasing number of newspapers in the early years of the Nineteenth Century. Steam powered presses were initially developed in England; those presses allowed many more copies of a newspaper to be printed in a given period of time, and so many more people could read that newspaper. Photography was developed in a few years after the date shown, and that changed the way people saw their world. Telegraphy was developed in a couple of decades, allowing near-instantaneous communication, a development as far reaching as the Internet is in the present day.
Perhaps most far-reaching was the Market Revolution, which turned the United States into a full-blown capitalist country, and to use historian Richard Hofstadter phrase, changed the country from a democracy of fraternity into a democracy of cupidity. Laissez-faire capitalism was a relatively recent phenomena at that time, since Adam Smith’s groundbreaking book The Wealth of Nations was published in 1776.
While the Industrial Revolution first started under the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in the early Eighteenth Century, it was jealously guarded by England. The Industrial Revolution first came to America in 1790s in Rhode Island with pirated technology. The technology had been brought to America by Samuel Slater, who was called by President Andrew Jackson the father of the American Industrial Revolution. His design was copied and spread in the following years as America (and the world) joined the Industrial Revolution.
Another, totally unrelated change to America at this time, was the ending of the Atlantic slave trade. In the years following the Revolutionary War Northern States had abolished slavery. Then in 1808 slaves could no longer be imported. But slavery was still a thriving business in the South, and as the nation expanded, it was expected that many of the new states would allow slavery, so the question became where would the slaves come from. Thus in the Southern states a going business arose of breeding slaves to produce more that could be sold for a profit. For more details of this horrific practice see The American Slave Coast by Ned and Constance Sublette.
The Mexican-American War took place in 1846-48, and expanded the continental United States to essentially the size it is today. This was a big increase in the size of the country. Then gold was discovered in California (before the war was over and California was part of the United States) on January 24, 1848 which soon started a huge rush of gold-seekers into California. Oregon Territory was also added, after settling a dispute with Great Britain that had also claimed the Pacific Northwest, at roughly the same time. Thus the next few years after 1849 would see a major expansion of the United States, after Texas, California, and the Pacific Northwest were brought in. This expansion would bring the issue of slavery to the fore, since questions arose whether the new states would be slave or free, and the attempts to deal with that would lead to the Civil War in another dozen years and the birth of a new political party.
This was a period a long enough after the Civil War that many of America’s leaders were thinking of expanding the country beyond its bounds, to have colonies in foreign lands just like many European countries. A war of independence broke out in Cuba in 1895 (the third in the thirty years) and soon America got involved fighting Spain over its colony in Cuba, and as a result of the easy victory in that conflict, American found itself with foreign colonies: Guam, Philippines, and of course Cuba. The decision was made that America was to be an empire, an important change in the consciousness of America.
Alfred Thayer Mahan published his very influential book The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660-1783 in 1890. People like Henry Cabot Lodge and Theodore Roosevelt immediately got the idea of expanding America’s influence to have overseas colonies, like the European powers did, and they saw with the Cuban revolt against their Spanish masters a change to get involved in the Great Game. The ramification of this decision would bedevil America up unto the present day.
An important Supreme Court decision happened in 1896 which influenced race relations until another decision in 1954. The was the case of Plessy v Ferguson which was an argument against segregated railroad cars. The result was that “Separate but Equal” became the standard for the land, enforcing the use of “whites only” facilities. The ruling of Brown v Board of Education (of Topeka) is widely seen as the first blow against that 1896 decision.
In 1890 the Census Bureau declared that the frontier was closed. The Native Americans had been subdued and most of the land settled. In 1893 a historian from Wisconsin named Frederik Jackson Turner proposed his “Frontier Thesis” which stated that the expansion of the frontier made American democracy and shaped American character; this thesis was later expanded to a book, and it altered the way historians and thus Americans in general looked at the past.
This Pluto opposition to its natal position occurred during the New Deal which was the biggest change in the country since the Civil War. This New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt was a response to the Great Depression which was the largest financial crisis the country had yet seen. The Great Depression, which began in October of 1929, was not amenable to standard measures. After Roosevelt took office in 1933, he instituted measures suggested by various third parties, such as socialists. Laws passed under his administration gave the US Social Security and made it much easier for Unions to do their job. By 1937 the Depression had been ameliorated so much that FDR held back on some limits, which resulted in a resurgence of the depression; this depression was not finally ended until the increased defense spending needed for World War II. This “military Keynesianism” has never stopped.
The results of this period were to influence America through the administration of Richard Nixon, who was called the last New Deal President by Noam Chomsky. This was more than 35 years after that Pluto opposition, which indicates how strong the effects of that opposition were. They lasted until the closing square in 1983, as explained below.
Interestingly, the first of the three exact aspects occurred on October 10, 1963, about six weeks before President John Kennedy was killed. This Pluto sesquiquadrate occurred just as the Uranus-Pluto conjunction was forming. The Pluto-Pluto aspects indicates the changes that were coming in this decade, which would alter the way the country saw itself. Notice also the square between Pluto and the Ascendant: America was trying to force its will on a Southeast Asia country, and the results were not pretty. The Vietnam War would continue for the next ten years.
This aspect is near the beginning of the Reagan Revolution, the start of the Age of Reagan that we are still in. There was also a Saturn-Pluto conjunction at the same time, the last one before the conjunction at the beginning of 2020. There were so many changes that started in this period it is difficult to list them all. This was the start of neoliberalsim which has been discussed extensively in this blog. This was the closing square between transiting Pluto and natal Pluto, and the country (and the world) were changed massively by the actions of Reagan and his supporters, which turned out to be most everyone. If one does not take account of neoliberalism in the years since this square, ones analysis will be as vacant as an analysis of a fish which does not recognize that it lives in water.
On August 23, 2001 Pluto went retrograde within ten minutes of conjunct the Ascendant and also a closing semisquare to its natal position. This was shortly after the last exact pass. Not only did this period see the selection of George W. Bush as President by the Supreme Court of the United States, thus avoiding a recount (there was an exact pass on November 29, 2000) but also the beginning of the War of Terror. At the same time there was a Saturn-Pluto opposition, the middle of the cycle that started under the previous hard Pluto aspect mentioned above. The War on Terror would be one of the dominant motifs of the next 20 years, not only in America, but in the rest of the world as well. Many nations used America’s War on Terror as an excuse to also crack down on “terrorism”.
You will notice that the first half of the Pluto Cycle is from 1776 to 1937, a period of 160 years, and the second half will end in 2022, a period of 85 years, or almost half of the first half period. This is because Pluto has a very eccentric orbit and moves faster when it is close to the Sun. Pluto was inside the orbit of Neptune from 1979 to 1999 and thus was traveling the fastest at that time.
This actual return occurs one week after the 246th Fourth of July, the second of three exact conjunctions, all in 2022. There is also a stationary direct Pluto which is within half a degree of its natal position during the fall of 2023. From looking at the previous aspects, we can guess several things about this upcoming Pluto Return.
The effects of this Pluto Return — a conjunction to its natal position — will start before the exact conjunction, but we will not be able to see the indicators until after the exact return has happened, with the benefit of hindsight. This return will be a transformative event for the United States, changing the country in ways that people can not see now, but afterwards everyone will say “it was so obvious, you could certainly see it coming”. The effects of the return will extend well after the conjunction, perhaps many decades. And since I believe that the conjunction is the mother of all aspects, this transformation will be greater than those we have seen in the various aspects described above.
Uranian sidebar: For those who use the eight hypothetical planets of Uranian astrology we see an important conjunction coming up. As illustrated in the graphical ephemeris below, at the same time that the Pluto Return is happening — 2022 and 2023 — we also have the hypothetical planet Kronos conjuncting the Sun of the United States. In the illustration below, Kronos — whose symbol is a cross with a hat on top — moves very slowly over the golden dashed horizontal line representing the natal US Sun. The standard meaning of this conjunction is a president or leader, someone with high authority. The planet by itself represents everything above normal, high up, excellent. Perhaps this conjunction will mean that America will once again be a force for good in the world, a massive transformation (Pluto return) from what it is now.