Although Pluto has been demoted to a "dwarf planet" in astronomy, it still plays a big role in astrology as the ruling planet of Scorpio and the planet of transformation. Pluto retrograde begins on April 24 — but don’t freak out. Pluto spends about half the year in retrograde, and this retrograde will continue until October 3. So unlike Mercury retrograde, Pluto retrograde probably won’t send your life into chaos… unless you haven’t dealt with your “shadow” (cue the two Lupita Nyong’os in Us).
“Unlike Mercury retrograde’s effects (which manifest as external forces), Pluto retrograde affects us on a subconscious level,” explains Narayana Montúfar, managing editor of horoscopes for Horoscope.com. “Each year, when Pluto retrogrades, we are given an opportunity to dive beneath the surface to encounter — and deal — with our darkest psychic material. We are not being asked, but pushed to search and destroy whatever is blocking our personal growth.”
As for the effects of Pluto retrograde, she adds, “Will it wreak havoc on our lives? It depends on how much each one of us has dealt with their own shadow material. Basically, if you have done the work, you will probably be okay. If you have not, you might be in for a ride!” This means that “the best thing you can do is face your dark side. Whether it means getting closure on an old issue, opening up about your darkest secrets, doing healing work, going to therapy… deal with it — or it will deal with you.”
Pluto is in the sign of Capricorn — which means desires, both sexual and not, will resurface. “The sea-goat, while practical by nature, is an undercover freak in the sheets,” explains astrologer Lisa Stardust. “Desires will be reawakened, as we are exploring past fantasies. Some may decide to manifest power, while others will opt to add kink to their stale routine. Pluto rules the underworld, often allowing us the option to embrace our devilish delights. During a planetary backspin, we can bring growth to areas where we are unsatisfied — relationships, sex, money, and work. Allowing oneself the chance to transform and awaken old yearnings will help soften the Plutonian energy.”
Make sure you don’t get in any love triangles, though. “The only thing to avoid is power struggles and triangular relationships, as these may cause more drama than necessary,” Stardust adds. “Creating balance and purging oneself of psychic drains will unleash past constraints that hold us back during this metamorphic transit.”
Astrologer Jessica Lanyadoo notes that Pluto retrograde will especially affect people who have a planet in their birth chart in a position in which Pluto will transit that planet. "If Pluto is hitting your chart in a way that either gives you a positive or easy transit or a more challenging transit, then you’re really going to feel Pluto’s retrograde," she explains. "If you're not getting a transit by Pluto, you’re not necessarily going to notice it."
However, Lanyadoo adds, “retrogrades are always a good time to review and reflect” for everyone. “Pluto is about transformation and profound developments,” she says. “When we experience Pluto, we’re being asked to go deep and confront something that’s really difficult to confront. So maybe something we have shame around or something that is taboo.”
Right now, Pluto and Saturn are very close to each other in the sign of Capricorn, creating a conjunction — something that hasn’t happened since 1518. “It’s quite rare, and it is a really big deal,” Lanyadoo says. “Pluto being so close to Saturn, and both of them being in the sign of Capricorn, directly implicates global events that we’re seeing,” such as climate change. “On a personal level, it makes it so that each of us as individuals is more personally confronted by what it means to be part of a society,” she explains.
That means that “this is not a good time to try to keep things on the surface and keep things light,” Lanyadoo says. Instead, it’s a time “to take responsibility for the work you’re doing, and how you’re connected to other people, and what it all means. To distill it to a more personal level, that means taking responsibility for the language you use, making sure your language isn’t ableist or racist or homophobic. And on an even more personal level, I think that people really need to look at the ways they’re living on a day-to-day and really acknowledge whether it’s serving their mental health and their physical health, and to start to unpack that so they can make different choices.”