The Four Stages of Pluto

Rick DiClemente’s
From the Astrology Newsletter
Volume 70, December 2011

The Four Stages of Pluto Transits
(And How to Tell Which One You Are In)

This issue deals with the transits of Pluto. It pertains to any time Pluto transits one of your important planets in your chart as well as the long 16-year-era in which we all find ourselves while Pluto traverses the sign of Capricorn.

In terms of the global era, we now find ourselves ¼ of the way through the Pluto-in-Capricorn era which ends in 2023. Not all of us have even noticed that this era started on January 25, 2008. Surely, by now, most of you can see its devastating effects on all fronts.

I will be explaining the four stages that seem to correspond with the major changes that Pluto delivers. First, a little about Pluto… Yes, in astrologer’s eyes, it’s still a planet. Dark and tiny, it is the farthest from the Sun – the planet is said to rule Scorpios. Its mission, if you will, is devoted to purity and transformation of any and all kinds. Even so, it is no Snow White. It roots out any and all entities without integrity and attempts to transform them. If it can’t, it will go a long way towards destroying same.

Pluto is very intense and austere. When Pluto is found strongly placed in a birth chart, or a person has a large degree of Scorpio markers, the resulting being can be the best of the best or the worst of the worst. Much is up to how that person has chosen to live his or her life. Perhaps much of it is karmic.

Since 2008, when the economic markets collapsed, Pluto gave up the game of buttressing institutions, people and corporations that were essentially hollow inside. Since then, so many have pined for recovery! Recovery! When will the recovery be? Many people aren’t seeing clearly… The patient (the U.S. and other countries as well) is on the operating table. More and more poisoned organs are being replaced, going through treatment or outright being removed. You don’t recover until after the operation, if even then.

The entity is not close to recovery. Those are the facts. Look around.

We can’t even get congress to agree that the sky is blue. The faster we address our “ills,” then the faster we get to a true recovery. We have seen, just as was predicted: too many of our problems have been pushed under the rug for decades or more. Warnings and warnings have not been heeded. It’s natural for Pluto to uproot these problems. As a society/world, we can no longer continue with such corruption. Something has to give, and, it’s giving all right.

That brings us to the 4 stages of Pluto.

Keep in mind that not all people go through the 4 stages. Some never get out of stage 1. Some breeze right through and don’t even notice any of the stages. There are no distinct demarcations of how long each stage will “last.”


Keep in mind that the same principles apply to countries, people, businesses, governments, etc. Broaden your vision when you read about the 4 and you should quickly be able to identify where you are within these long-term periods of transition.

Stage 1 of denial is when you start to notice that your life is somehow decaying at a much more rapid rate than you ever could have imagined. At this point it’s quite natural to react in one of two ways, 1) try to push the problems back under the rug, or 2) try your old tricks in order to make it back off, ease up, or simply go away. This is why one of the WORST things you can do with astrological information is duck and wait for it to pass by. It doesn’t work and in general is not good for your health. You simply cannot suppress your own vital energies and get away with it. It’s called blockage.

Pluto is not out there, it’s in here.

Many of us have had a long-held habit of pushing more and more under the rug even though we know that one day, it will catch up with us. One of several Pluto transits brings us that day.

When you have the benefit of astrological guidance, you not only know what “time” it is, you also can see when these periods will peak. More importantly, you get an idea that “this is real” and cleanup time is here. When Pluto gets involved our lives, most of us are in for sweeping changes. This is no joke, but almost all of my clients can mark the time of the transition from stage 1 to 2 when they find themselves “inexplicably” obsessed with cleaning out their basements. Literally.

I had a client today. After I explained to her about these stages, she said, “That’s it, I’m going home and clean out my basement!” I had not even mentioned the metaphor. She was actually bouncing back and forth between 1 and 2.

If you’re NOT cleaning up, this is one great big shiny red flag.

Many of our glorious souls that we inhabit this planet with just don’t collect what is called emotional baggage. Pluto loves to raise hell with those that do though. For those who mostly groove through life, keeping well balanced within, many skip right on by to stage 4.

Unfortunately, most people spend at least a little bit of time in stage 1. It’s not a place in which you want to spend a lot of time however. Misery gets to such a point and the message Pluto is trying to pound into your cranium and that something has to give! And, in most cases, without a doubt, suffering during a Pluto time is because of hanging on to the old. Not letting go. Co-dependency. Living in the past.

Oh, it’s easy to talk glibly about letting go as if we were jumping off the low dive. Many people construct their entire lives around CLOSING OUR EYES TO WHAT WE ARE HANGING ONTO. This is why stage 1 is so rough. When Pluto comes around – you can no longer go forward – until the detachment occurs. If you don’t let go of your “junk,” Pluto will back up a large flat-bed truck and come in your house uninvited with some big sweaty dudes and simply start taking your stuff – like a Sheriff’s Sale. Seriously.

Your unconscious doesn’t like being ignored.

And, that’s what Pluto is! It represents your passions at the very soul level. Pluto becomes “unhappy” if “you” don’t have the courage to live “your” passions. See how we compartmentalize ourselves? That’s why waiting until “it” passes is simply irrational. How can we wait until we pass by? We are verbs, not nouns.

One of the big problems that occurs during this initial stage is simply that you may have become bored with what you do. Your life has no purpose. Pluto doesn’t take that matter lightly; it bugs us from deep within. It pressures us to mean more, to play a more significant role on this globe. One of Pluto’s favorite questions is, “Why are you taking up space?” So, you can see, in stage 1, you may not even be aware that this is going on even if things are falling apart all around you. This is why we need to teach real astrology in grades 1-12; to everyone.

If you recognize the “dark cloud hanging over your head,” you’re under a Pluto transit. At one time, my 3-year-old boy was undergoing a Pluto transit. He asked me, “Dad, what are those dark things above my bed?” I told him, “Don’t worry, those are enemy spaceships and Dad will shoot every one of them down.” The more you work WITH Pluto, the better off you will be. If you start letting go of toxic friends, bypassing bad habits and in general start getting more courageous about your life, Pluto will bring you great friends, promotions, money, poignant books, movies and opportunities.

It’s really that simple: be brave and own your power, and Pluto will help.
And vice versa.


You finally accept the fact that dramatic changes are in store. (Many people entirely renovate their homes at these times.) It’s all symbolic. You might not like it. You don’t want to do it. It stinks. You see no light at the end of the tunnel but you just flat out know:

You have to do it or die. And you will die, in one fashion or another.
Your passion is your life.

This is the hardest stage because Pluto makes you do it by yourself. You will lose your support during this time. This is no joke, this is how it works. Why? Because Pluto knows that you can do it by yourself. You’re not going to gain courage by keeping your training wheels around. Pluto is an expert at pointing out what blockages (self-induced) are in your way – it knows you have to surpass them for your own evolution. That’s what it’s doing to the USA now. We have to redefine ourselves. This most distant of planets doesn’t “care” if we make it or not. It has brought down many-an-empire before that was simply too corrupt. Pluto only honors integrity.

But, the key to stage 2 is accepting that you put yourself in this mess…

…an ugly and awful realization that is ultimately very rewarding and liberating. That is why I say, Pluto is ultimately pure and altruistic. You’re just not going to get past Pluto carrying emotional baggage. Once you take responsibility for your stuff, it becomes easier to let go of the past. Many of us keep things alive in our minds because we think we “can’t live without them.” Most times this is just a myth. Pluto has no interest in getting rid of your good friends that have integrity – but it does want you free of those 95%-5% relationships; you know what I mean. The ones who ask you how YOU are 59 minutes into your 1-hour discussion.

Once the task has been accepted to start cleaning up your life, it does get easier. During this phase, since Pluto is the purifier, it is quite common to experience unusual expulsions from your body. Blackheads, pimples, cysts, abnormal secretions, etc. All are very common as a result of Pluto releasing toxins into the bloodstream at an alarming rate. I am not a Doctor and you should certainly seek one’s advice, but in many cases that I have seen, it’s just the body purging. Purify your diet.

In other cases, I have seen serious cases of cancer and worse. Death surrounds Pluto. I cannot and will not make those kind of predictions. It seems to be dependent upon just how big that LUMP is under your rug, how long it’s been there and exactly what did you do in your past live(s).

America is definitely stuck somewhere between stage 1 and 2. Many people are still looking for someone to blame; and that keeps us well stuck in stage 1. More and more we see many have bitten the bullet and started to see that we’re in for a long haul and have stopped blaming Bush and/or Obama. Not that each didn’t make their own mistakes… I make this claim:

If Thomas Jefferson were president now, we’d be irate with him.

It’s the times. Remember, it was this same point in history astrologically when Britain “lost” the New Colonies. Pluto makes its orbit and when it gets to certain points, as it is now, we just have to pass the integrity test. We have lots and lots of stage 2 to go yet. The good thing is that many now know that we have to reinvent ourselves and face our new identity crisis. Our victory in WWII was a long time ago. If we don’t rebuild our bridges, they will fall down.

Do you think this is a coincidence? Bridges, roads, schools, Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church, our University sports programs, power-brokers, lobbyists, government, crime, sexual exploits, oil spills, earthquakes, tsunamis, on and on and on an on. It’s Pluto. Not to mention our politicians.

Nevertheless, as I said before, if the “client” has started by cleaning out their basement, that’s a very, very good sign. Stage 2 continues as long as it has to. People become obsessed with living lighter. Both in body and in collected stuff. Past indulgences suddenly lose their luster. This is THE period when you have to ask for help; and in my experience with clients and God; His/Her help arrives almost immediately.


Your life situation may still be difficult. You’ve become more accustomed and willing to clean up your act and do the “dirty work.” But now, there IS some light appearing at the end of the tunnel. And the only reason there is visible light is because you have removed enough rubbish for it to shine through.

It was always there.

So, in this stage, most all of the challenges get easier. Others usually get the message “not to mess with you anymore.” They have sensed the new you, and now they respect you. That’s if you haven’t gone off of your rocker in stage 2 and lost your cool at the water-cooler. This time will be a bit disorienting if you’re not used to standing in your own truth. Everything will be affected. Even your skin will look healthier. The home should be quieter, even if a bit more empty. You’ll be doing things you like for a change and find yourself in a less-appeasing mood. Pluto is about finding your own power. Things just won’t bother you as much because you are using less and less pressure holding YOURSELF down. I think you get the point.

I am always pleased to sense when my clients have gotten to stage 3. Stage 2 was and can be very scary where you’ve more or less been backed into the corner. Now that you’ve gotten more in sync with the cleansing, purging processes of Pluto, you’ll tend not to let things pile up again. Once was enough. It’s such a joy to start feeling “like your old self” again – just that alone brings plenty of motivation. People will ask you, “What’s gotten into you?” Tell them, “Pluto.”

Once you start to experience the process of this third stage it will become vividly clear to you which of your acquaintances are back at stage 1 or 2. And you’ll feel for them. You’ve been there.


In this final stage, you have made it. Now you are owning and using your own Pluto-power. Much less friction appears all across your life. Some people never even experience the first three stages! I’ve seen many cases where the individual has simply kept in sync with themselves (and their Pluto) all of their lives. They have never given their power away nor abused it. They have stood up for themselves but haven’t become obnoxious about it. Integration and balance.

If you have had to go through the rough, grueling previous stages, stage 4 is a welcome sight. You’ve paid your dues. Now you know who you are and who you aren’t. You’re no longer willing to sell yourself out just to be accepted. Most of these unhealthy habits/roles were adopted in early childhood. It’s certainly understandable. Pluto works with you; it puts a “force-field” around you that silently asserts, “My life means something to me now. I matter.”

More and more, I’m noticing people advancing through these stages faster and faster. This is a very hopeful sign. People are taking responsibility for having made their lives the way they are – the first step towards fixing it.


I’ll be talking plenty about these next two items in years to come. In 2015, Pluto will oppose the USA’s Sun and in 2022, Pluto will complete its first orbit of the USA’s chart. These will be eras full of national crises and challenges. We will have the opportunity to redefine ourselves. Much of the outcome during that time depends on how well we dismantle and rebuild during the phase in which we now find ourselves.


Pluto entered Capricorn on Friday, January 25th, 2008, at 9:37 pm Eastern. Think this is silly?

About 4 months later, I was reading a chart for a professional man who was gay. We talked over many of these Pluto points. He had a rather dry and somewhat repetitive profession. After realizing what massive changes he had gone through during the past 4 months, being a Virgo, he pulled out his accurate day-timer. He looked back in amazement: 4 months earlier, almost to the minute on January 25th, he stood up in middle of a professional meeting that started at 9:00pm! How many professional meetings have you been to at 9:37 pm on a Friday night? Around that time, he announced, “I’VE HAD IT! I QUIT!”

He walked out, and never returned. He couldn’t take it anymore. Pluto had been stirring and stirring in him for over a year. He had watched too many of his dear friends die to A.I.D.S. He felt so purposeless. He had plenty of money; he quit the job and enrolled in a local college learning to be a nurse (Chiron ruled) so he could help his ailing companions.