In both senses of the phrase: Pluto enters apparent retrograde (a visual phenomenon caused by our viewpoint here on Earth), and in going back over territory he just crossed, returns, we might say, to the scene of the crime. With this latter meaning we see the god of the Underworld re-trace his steps, with the result for us that anything shaken loose, ripped open, torn asunder, or apparently destroyed or transformed recently (since roughly late December-early January) will get a second look.
Pluto turns around at 26 Capricorn 48, with only a single aspect on the horizon, as Ceres heads toward perfecting a square with the ‘heaviest’ planet in the solar system (yes, it’s a planet! I insist). Heaviest, of course, describes the impact of something so slow-moving, the psychic grind akin to the passage of a glacier over the tundra–it creates tremendous pressure, a weight that flattens in slo-mo whatever is in its path. We might initially think that this is a totally destructive interaction, but in reality it creates, as well. Intense pressure forms diamonds, and releases seeds from their shells as when fire sweeps a forest floor. Pluto can bring the loss or tragedy that sets us on a new and better path, and we need to remember that when something is destroyed, that makes room for a fresh beginning.
The Ceres aspect is already in effect and will remain so as Ceres completes that last little span, with the aspect perfecting and then beginning to separate by the 30th. It’s not unusual for another body to be the instigator in an aspect with Pluto; it’s almost inevitable that the majority of Pluto aspects will be formed as other bodies move into position– seeing Pluto make the contact itself is rare.
Here we have the king of the Underworld in a conflict dynamic with his mother-in-law, who just happens to be Mother Nature herself. Don’t forget, their power stand-off was a formidable one that involved Ceres negotiating for time with her daughter–and Pluto conceding some, which should tell you what a powerful figure Ceres is. Symbolically this is a clash between gods, the meeting of entities that represent and control primal forces, one side chiefly generative in its thrust (Ceres, life-giving) and the other with the capacity to take things to ashes (Pluto, destroying), but with both also containing the opposite ability; that is, death is the inevitable end to life, and from nothing (which we can call death) comes the spark that creates new life (the phoenix potentials of Pluto).
Difficulties between these two were over a third entity, Ceres’ daughter who became Pluto’s wife, Proserpina/ Persephone. I’m struck in this situation by the way two Beings who hold immense amounts of power take it for granted that it’s within their rights to decide the fate of another. Ceres oversteps in a motherly way, trying to control the commitments of a grown daughter, while Pluto oversteps in the way of a partner who sees it as natural that he decides how his significant other spends her time. In essence, neither respects the individuality and autonomy of Persephone; neither sees her as a complete Being with rights of her own.
Pluto is currently in Capricorn, suggesting that his energies are concentrated on breaking down established norms, authority, and structures societal, governmental, and that offer security, dependability, regularity. Ceres squares him from Aries, implying a strong individual Will comes to call out (and so question) Pluto’s destructive priorities. Pluto is always looking for a clean slate, whether that’s a productive approach or not; Ceres is always looking to exercise personal authority, even if it infringes on others. Both have trouble with boundaries (and by trouble I mean neither one recognizes those, unless another equally strong individual steps forward to enforce them).
There’s also the fact that Pluto carries an implicit promise of re-generation, while Ceres carries one of the inevitability of Nature always returning to balance–so at the very least, that tells us that despite the clash, a compromise will be reached when these two meet, a balance agreeable to both destructive and generative energies.
So, we have to ask ourselves what developed since late December that caused something destructive, a loss or elimination or change that struck us profoundly, that in reality has broken open the seeds of a new venture, that has offered greater personal autonomy, or that has altered the power balance or our own relationship with Nature (with this latter think health, or our own efforts at growing or producing natural product, as small as herbs on the windowsill, as big as agribusiness or the construction of a dam). That change-through-loss now offers us a new (or renewed) path–and over this retro period we’ll have the chance to review what changed, to course-correct, and to exercise our own prerogatives along ‘natural’ lines in shaping what the results of that loss or removal will, ultimately, bring.
This will very likely frame itself as some form of You (the ‘I Am’ of Aries) versus the current powers-that-be, which are undergoing inevitable changes of their own (Capricorn). Expect to negotiate; know that Mother Nature will have her say, will figure in (remember that ancient commercial, ‘It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature’? Don’t even try); and be aware that there is a quiet but central entity somewhere that needs to be listened to, if only to show the Universe that you’re not an egotistical brute (Aries) or a rigid conformist (Capricorn) but someone who’s fully aware of and considerate of the impact your choices have on others.
Also note: as Ceres moves away from Pluto, Jupiter comes along by sextile, with the aspect perfecting as both are in 29 tense degrees of their own sign, this on 5 May. Expect feedback over the negotiation/ change/ power struggle, from the social sphere, via irrefutable facts, with an infusion of knowledge, or with a new sense of optimism or access to new opportunities. That should tell you: don’t be afraid of loss or change, something new always, always, comes from it, and whether you are able to see it or not, it’s always to your benefit (eventually, though in-the-moment it can be quite hard to believe–another Jupiterian concept).