What Pluto Retrograde in 2023 Means for You

This article originally appeared on Yoga Journal

While Pluto retrograde may get less airtime than the well-known Mercury retrograde, its invitations are just as influential, impactful, and deserving of our attention. Pluto retrograde is a backward spin through the underworld. A deep dive into transformation. And a reclamation of our shadow. It is an invitation to come into communion with the parts of ourselves we have yet to accept so that we may reclaim every aspect, light and dark, of who we are.

When is Pluto Retrograde in 2023?

Pluto retrograde will last from May 1 to October 11, 2023.

What is Pluto Retrograde?

Pluto is referred to as an “outer planet” in astrology. It’s labeled as such because it sits outside of the asteroid belt, as opposed to those inner planets--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars--which exist within the asteroid belt.

Illustration of the planets and the asteroid belt, including Pluto
(Photo: Anastasiia_M | Getty Images)

While the inner planets are fast moving and shifting between signs and making aspects on a weekly basis, the outer planets are much slower in motion. They represent years of our lives. When we connect with the movements of the outer planets--which also include Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--we connect with larger chapters of our experience. When they move, we feel the shift deeply. When they transition, it represents an entirely new era for us.

Pluto lingers in each sign of the zodiac for up to 21 years and retrogrades every year for five to six months. In March 2023, Pluto left Capricorn, which it has called home since 2008, and entered Aquarius for the first time since the 1700s. On May 1, 2023, Pluto began its retrograde in Aquarius, where it continuess its backward spin until it reaches Capricorn once again on June 11. Pluto will remain in Capricorn into until it retraces its steps into Aquarius in January 2024. It will continue this forward-backward motion a few more times until it settles in Aquarius and remains there through 2043.

What Does Pluto Retrograde Mean for You?

The moment in which we currently find ourselves is somewhat of a straddling of two worlds--the old and the new. Pluto in Capricorn is the old, or the existing, and Pluto in Aquarius is the new, or the future. Pluto, and therefore we, took one step forward into Aquarius, and one step back into Capricorn. With more steps in each direction to take place, we are dancing deep with change. We are preparing for a new era. And this retrograde is an integral part of the dance.

While Pluto retrograde may get less airtime than the well-known Mercury retrograde, its invitations are just as influential, impactful, and deserving of our attention. It has been theorized that the further away from the Earth we look, the more complex, misunderstood, mysterious, and subtle the astrological invitations and frequencies of the planets.

Pluto, named after the Roman god of the underworld and sitting at the edge of our known solar system. Like Mercury retrograde, it has an indelible effect on us. Unlike Mercury--which represents linear thought and the logical mind, among other things--Pluto's influence cannot be grasped only with the mind. It is the process of death, rebirth, transformation, power, and the unconscious. It represents the unseen, the mystery, and the hidden aspects of self and humanity. It is the deep reserves within us that are not often journeyed. It is our shadows, darkness, and vulnerabilities.

Retrogrades in astrology represent “re” words, such as review, revise, reconsider, realign, revisit, and so on. They are the one step backward to allow for the many steps forward. They are a sacred pause inviting us to look around, review who we are and the path we are walking upon, to integrate our lived experiences, to consider past journeys that were left behind, to bring closure to what is needing it, and to arrive present, centered, and aligned before continuing forward.

Retrogrades remind us that, no matter how we try, life is not linear. Our journey is cyclic. We move up and down and every other direction possible. And our inner world is no different--especially under the influence of Pluto.

Pluto excavates. It brings to light. It asks us to be with the dark. Pluto retrograde shows us what is lying within, waiting for awareness. Waiting for acceptance. Waiting for closure. Waiting for our presence. Waiting for healing. It digs deep within our hidden inner caves, the unconscious, the emotional body, the hidden within us.

Here, we are revisiting what is ready to be transformed. Throughout Pluto Retrograde we may find what we have labeled “old” emotions, stories, or pain resurfacing. And while transformation is rarely easy, it is deeply nourishing.

It is where we feel imprisoned within ourselves that Pluto asks us to find our freedom. It is within the experiences where we have felt powerless that Pluto invites empowerment. And it is through cracking open from within that Pluto welcomes light into dark spaces. If old stories, wounds, or fears present themselves to you throughout this time, give yourself grace. How can you befriend this part of you? What is waiting on the other side of this wound? What would it feel like to descend into it? What does this part of you need? How can you create safety while you journey with this?

Pluto represents aspects of humanity that, for many, are uncomfortable. To journey through one's inner shadow and face what sits within the discarded parts of us isn't easy. It is necessary, however. And it is deeply healing. Pluto is the missing piece of the puzzle that brings us home to the wholeness of our human experience. This retrograde invites us to be vulnerable while it peels back layers to sit with what lies underneath. To witness parts ourselves we have disowned and cast into the shadow, all so that we may reach into acceptance and reclaim ourselves, piece by piece. To witness what has been keeping us chained, dimmed, powerless, and fearful, all so that we may remember our freedom, power, and light.

Your Invitation

As Pluto retrogrades, allow the cyclic journey of your becoming and unbecoming to be what it is. Not only are we in the space of retrograde, but we are dancing deep within the era-defining changes of Pluto from Capricorn to Aquarius. This dwarf planet lives in the realms beyond our control, beyond our grasping. Our part in this is that of surrender, presence, and grace.

Allow your humanness to be as messy as it desires for this time. For we are quite literally taking a step back, picking apart the pieces, making a mess, and then placing them back together in a way that is aligned, empowering, freeing, and real, all in time for our forward movement.

Learn more about the influence of astrology in your life, including astrological events the Moon cycles, your Sun and Moon and rising signs, how journaling can help you connect with the current influences, and more with Jordane Maree at Girl and her Moon.

About Our Contributor

Jordane Maree is the founder of Girl and Her Moon, a platform and community exploring Soul through the lens of astrology, tarot, and energy healing. She is a writer, intuitive astrologer, energy and soul guide, and host of Girl and Her Moon, The Podcast. She is inspired, every single day, to be the mirror for you to see all that you truly are, you in all your infinite abilities, in total expansion, in infinite opportunity and love.

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