Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z. Political polls obsess over them. Tastemakers are born from them. And global markets hinge on their purchasing power. While we casually invoke these names invented by corporate strategists and talking heads, we’re usually speaking to something deeper. Generations are the titans of a culture. They exert their influence with a shared, underlying force and shape history as they mature. To understand the astrology of what drives a generation, we look to Pluto.
The planet of descent, inner resources, and power
The planet Pluto was discovered in 1930, a time when the world was in a geopolitical crisis. Nations stood in the fraught pause between two world wars, and demagogues were harnessing power via propaganda. Atomic fission had just been developed. Psychology had entered the mainstream as a “scientific” way to map the subconscious. Because Pluto was discovered against this socio-political backdrop, it signifies the power that lies beneath the surface. It is the planet that rules our inner realms and subterranean resources. It is the secret, the mystery, and the force that can be at once devastating and divine. And it points us to our inner strength, should we be willing to face our own darkness.
Demoted from its planetary status as of 2006, Pluto is now technically considered the “minor planet” that skirts the edges of the solar system. That outer placement means that Pluto’s tour through the zodiac is gnawingly long, at 248 years, and erratic — taking anywhere from 12 to 24 years to transit a particular sign. A notably similar period of time to that which spans a generation. This slow course that Pluto takes to complete its transit through a sign signals the depth that the planet has come to symbolize. It is only when you’ve spent time within a landscape that you get to know it, after all. Pluto is the planet that overturns every stone and seeps down every last well to uncover the hidden treasures inherent to each sign.
What makes a generation according to astrology
Since Pluto takes over a decade — sometimes two — to trek through a sign, its cultural impact isn’t immediately evident. It demands a long view. Similarly, we need time before we can accurately reflect on the shadow cast by each generational cohort. It’s usually not until a generation has come of age (i.e., when they enter their 20s and 30s) that we get a handle on what fuels them. Because Pluto represents power, the subconscious, and inner resources, everyone born with Pluto in the same sign will share the deep desires and impulses that are common to everyone else born with Pluto in that sign. Together, these shared Pluto placements form a generation — one defined by mutual neuroses and subconscious drives that folks with Pluto in another sign may find baffling. Why are Boomers so self-interested? Why do Gen Xers school others on authenticity and social justice? Why are Millennials eternally emo? What is it with Gen Z and their never-ending quest to shirk traditional modes?
Yet, we’d only rob Pluto of its power to shape the collective if we reduced generations to their cliches. Like individuals, each generation contains multitudes. Astrology simply provides a way to define, chart, and track each one so as to reveal their potency: What makes them unique, and what puts them at cross-purposes to other generations? While all three of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) shape the zeitgeist, Pluto is the one that excavates the subconscious drives that unite those born at the same cross-section of history.
How Pluto manifested in the most recent zodiac signs
The most recent six zodiac signs that Pluto has transited during our modern era are Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, and Capricorn. The following sections outline the ways that each of these Pluto generations is a force to be reckoned with and how they can lean in to their collective dynamism. Just remember: Because Pluto rules the underworld, such planetary readings can venture into dark and difficult territory at times. View these Plutonian synopses as a way to traverse that darkness and understand each generation’s true power.
Note: Although Pluto usually does a prelude and encore as it moves in and out of the signs, we will be using the initial ingresses and last exit dates as bookends throughout.
Pluto in Leo (Baby Boomers)
The power of Pluto in Leo as a generation is the ability to use self-realization to make a resounding impact on the collective.
Pluto was touring the fixed fire sign of Leo from 1937 through 1958. Thus, it coincided with the birth of a large number of Baby Boomers, also coined the “Me Generation.” An apt name, as Leo is the sign that represents the self, radiates warmth, and embodies leadership.
When this generation came of age in the late ’60s and early ’70s, it was the era of sweeping social reforms and protest movements led by iconic leaders who weren’t short on charisma. These influential figures included Angela Davis, whose defiant racial and political activism made her a wanted woman; Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, who heralded second-wave feminism; and Jane Fonda, whose protest of the Vietnam War stole headlines. And the list goes on. During this time, social and political power was completely transformed by leaders who were unafraid to stand up against corruption, racism, patriarchy, and greed. The Pluto in Leo generation also witnessed the loss of many of those leaders. It stands to reason that the generation born when the planet of death was in the sign of Leo would be shaped by the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy (1963), Malcolm X (1965), and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968). The murders of these historic figures rattled the US, and even today, they remain shrouded in mystery and (so-called) conspiracy theories — other Plutonian significations.
Culturally, the Pluto in Leo generation was the first in the modern era to reap the benefits of a booming economy and advancing technology, which freed up the labor force to do something other than work. As the planet of the underworld in the Sun’s sign would have it, this generation made their individual desires front and center. Woodstock and the 1969 Summer of Soul festival showed that Baby Boomers were keen on having fun and expressing their sense of style. Enter the era of the hair (read: shags and afros) and an obsession with royal “crowns.” What’s more, they were the first modern generation to have enough disposable income on a large scale and could therefore afford to delve into their own needs and wishes.
As the decades have progressed, we’ve seen how the Pluto in Leo generation’s self-realized agenda didn’t always translate into benefits for the community. The Plutonian urge in Leo settled into fixed-sign conservatism. Reaganism and trickle-down economics shaped much of the US financial policies, while Pluto in Leo representatives constituted the majority demographic in congress. We then witnessed the ramifications of the increasing atomization of family units and the dissolution of community safety nets and support. The shadow of Pluto in Leo is that it puts the individual first at the expense of the collective.
Yet, Pluto in Leo shows us that it only takes one person to bring about a watershed moment in history. See also Muhammad Ali’s resistance to the Vietnam War draft, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ability to change a generation, and one solo informant called Deep Throat who brought about the eventual impeachment of a corrupt President Nixon.
Pluto in Virgo (early Gen X)
The power of Pluto in Virgo as a generation is the ability to embody wholeness and completion away from mainstream narratives and to invest in independent projects that make the world better.
Pluto was in Virgo from 1956 through 1972, which coincides with the first iteration of Generation X. Once Pluto entered the mutable earth sign, the grip of self-power loosened in favor of everything but. It’s edgy to have the lord of the underworld in the sign of the Virgin. To the ancients, the virgin had nothing to do with chastity but, instead, represented the ability to be whole unto oneself, without the influence of outside forces, and create on one’s own. Thus, when the Pluto in Virgo generation came of age in the ’90s, we witnessed the rise of the independent and underground, and creation outside of — and often subversive of — the mainstream. This era also saw the advent of MTV, backpack hip-hop, and slacker culture, as well as the surge of the zine, indie bookstores and record labels, and an obsession with grunge.
Pluto in Virgo is considered the “keep it real” generation because it puts authenticity above all else. This first guard of Gen X takes grit and authenticity to new extremes. They eschew anything and everything that reeks of self-aggrandizing marketing and seek transparency above all else.
But because Virgo corresponds to the harvest, when Pluto dug into this sign, it also led to the rise of mass agriculture and over-cultivation of land to grow monoliths of crops. Virgo attributes have to do with refinery as well, and this is the generation that was sent to fight in the Gulf War — a war over Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait that put oil resources at stake.
Still, Pluto in Virgo natives continue to shape the culture today. We owe a lot of our anti-conglomerate leanings to them and can harness their power to further resist the capitalist agenda.
Pluto in Libra (late Gen X)
The power of Pluto in Libra as a generation is the ability to go to great depths to seek real justice, however messy it may look on the outside.
Generation X has two guards, and the second is marked by those born from 1971 to 1984 with Pluto in Libra. When the angel of darkness takes up residence in the Venusian air sign, powerful drama ensues. This generation came of age in the late ’90s and early 2000s and rode the cresting second-wave feminism, purporting fairness, equity, and justice. (We are only now, in 2023, understanding that true justice must be restorative, after all.) Women and femmes also reached a critical mass in universities and the workforce during this time, and this generation not only owned being the product of divorce but normalized it, ushering a full realization of femme power in relationships.
And yet, such power and love were at times antithetical. The late ’90s in the US was a time of so-called racial “color blindness” predicated on respectability politics for the Black community. The shadow was in the pretense of harmony — the etiquette of justice over real, equitable justice that we are still grappling with today. If we think of balance at all costs, this era also saw bipartisan politics reach an unprecedented level in Washington. On an even darker level, the state drove punitive “tough on crime” policies in the name of law and order, yielding a boom in mass incarceration during the ’90s.
Still, the Pluto in Libra’s thirst for justice never ceases, just as the scales on the fulcrum never fully come to rest. This generation is comprised of lawmakers, justices of the courts, and thought leaders whose flavor of what constitutes equanimity and reciprocity is ever-evolving. At present day, we are discussing what reparations look like for Black Americans, finally acknowledging the presence of women and femmes in the workforce, and seeking justice for trans folks thanks to their efforts. Those born with Pluto in Libra hold a strong influence in these realms and are continually reaching for equality.
Pluto in Scorpio (Millennials)
The power of Pluto in Scorpio as a generation is the ability to expose taboos in order to protect those who are most vulnerable. To use their emotional radar to identify places of rot in the culture so that it may become fecund.
Pluto waded through the fixed waters of Scorpio from 1983 to 1995 — the shortest amount of time that Pluto has spent in a single sign. Those with Pluto in Scorpio were thrust into a world of outdated modes ready to be composted. This process has not been easy, as any Millennial will tell you — whether elder or younger. As teens, they witnessed the terrorist attacks of September 11th on TV and endured the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that followed. They entered the workforce in the late 2000s, when the Great Recession hit hard, upending the financial security that previous generations had enjoyed. And yet, to have Pluto in a Mars-ruled sign is to know the potency of true courage. The MeToo movement, predicated on work done a decade earlier by activist and survivor Tarana Burke, became a viral hashtag in 2017. For millions of people, this unleashed a cultural reckoning that brought to light sexual abuse and assault pervasive in spaces such as work, entertainment, and intimate partnerships. From the uncovering of the USA Gymnastics abuse scandal (2016) to the earlier revelation of abuse rampant in the Catholic Church in (2002, exposed by The Boston Globe), those growing up during the aughts and maturing during 2010s have witnessed the power of raising voices that were once silenced. The movement belongs to everyone, and yet it is the Pluto in Scorpio generation that has been poised to continue to carry the torch of truth through shame, secrecy and lies. If there is a taboo, a cover-up, or a scandal that impacts the masses, then Pluto in Scorpio has the power and nerve to reveal how deep it goes.
The urge to share and illuminate deep emotional caverns extends to the pop culture of this generation as well. As teens, those with Pluto in Scorpio enjoyed the emo music of Dashboard Confessional and All American Rejects. They devoured episodic crime dramas, first-person personal essays, and Twilight, where the power is all in the bite. And, of course, social networks such as MySpace, TheFacebook, and Tumblr were made for the Pluto in Scorpio generation to make public their inner lives.
But those with Pluto in Scorpio also learned how to shed a skin or two. It was the generation that witnessed an election stolen for hanging chads and uncounted votes in 2000 (Bush v. Gore) and returned to the polls eight years later to elect the United States’ first Black president. A generation predicated on hope, and a dose of Scorpionic revenge. Here, Pluto may forgive, but it will never forget.
Pluto in Sagittarius (early Gen Z)
The power of Pluto in Sagittarius as a generation is the ability to go to the ends of the earth to discover and fight for meaningful power shifts in the world. To free themselves, and society, of confining conventions.
Dubbed with many names — Gen Z, the TikTok generation, Zoomers — this generation coincides with Pluto in Sagittarius. From 1995 to 2008, the planet of power and resources mined into the sign of mutable fire. In Sagittarius, the Plutonian drive throws restraint to the wind. Since this generation has come of age, its impact has been felt in rapid, unbridled rejection of convention. They are the experts at off-the-cuff satire. Their power lies in ridiculing the things that deserve it — read: stale concepts and uninterrogated traditions — and turning them into viral Reels.
Those with Pluto in Sagittarius are the first true digital natives, giving them an instinct for effectively calling out BS when and where it should arise on social platforms — the same way a wise teacher would a class clown. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of “cancel culture,” where Gen Z has had the proverbial mic to take down platitudes and show the door to folks who perpetrated falsities. Yet, the danger of this power is a rapid and unchecked mob mentality. The planet of shadow doesn’t do nuance or patience when in the Jupiter-ruled sign. Rather, what fuels the Pluto in Sagittarius generation is spreading the message as far and as wide as it can.
In this Gen Z era, the fashion is maximalist (a sharp detour from Pluto in Scorpio minimalism), the music spans as many genres as Spotify Wrappeds, and home is a concept that has gone completely nomadic. This generation has also shown us the harm of the binary, whether in gender, gender expression, or the heteronormativity of past generations. They reject dualism outright and seek new ways to find meaning — from astrology and divination to new wisdom traditions far outside the temple walls.
Pluto in Capricorn (late Gen Z and Generation Alpha)
The power of Pluto in Capricorn is the ability to apprentice lessons of the past and alchemically transform them into viable structures for future generations.
The world is still churning out Pluto in Capricorn babies, but the earliest of this cohort are now in their teens. Since we have this transit in current and recent memory (2008 to the present), we know that it brought about the crumbling of institutions and antiquated power structures that were long past their expiration date. (Looking at you, colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy.) This era also saw the Pluto in Capricorn transit play out in more concrete ways, as statues of historical figures once revered as heroes were finally toppled and taken down. The educational curriculum was rightfully scrutinized as well, and we re-learned history, thanks to initiatives such as the 1619 Project (which was released at the moment of the United States’ Pluto return in 2021).
Those with Pluto in Capricorn are the children of the Pluto in Libra and Pluto in Scorpio generations, and articles have already been written about their divestment from screen culture. (Who can blame them after having to endure entire academic years over Zoom?) The teens of today are self-professed Luddites and are rejecting devices in favor of going offline, walking in nature, and writing in physical notebooks. They’ve seen the ramifications of a life lived completely online. They are the ones who are well-poised to preserve tradition and carry it into the future once Pluto fully enters Aquarius for 20 years in January 2024. This generation will build time capsules that include everything from the past that still has value and utilize the initiating powers of Pluto in a cardinal earth sign to erect a brand-new foundation.
Journeying through Pluto’s depths
Pluto is indeed the planet of the underworld, which can bring a personal or collective reckoning. But in trekking through the underworld, we learn what it truly means to be alive. The more that we sit with the underbelly of our cultural mainstays, the better equipped we’ll be to take the right action. In this way, Pluto invites introspection and demands an honest and unflinching survey of who and what we really are — especially when the lights are off. When each generation confronts their subconscious drives, the shadows no longer engross them. Instead, they motivate us to a deeper, truer end.
How to work with Pluto
- Find out which Pluto generation you belong to by pulling up your birth chart on the CHANI app or via our online tool.
- Learn more about your unique Pluto sign and house placement under the Me tab of the CHANI app.
- Reflect on the themes of your Pluto generation discussed above and pinpoint what resonates with you. Then free-write about the ways you embody the signatures of your generation, and the ways you also feel different from your peers. How do you channel the power of your cohort?
- Notice how you experience the themes of other Pluto generations in your friends, loved ones, mentors, etc. Consider where you feel points of tension with your own, and where you feel excited to learn or work with others.
- Read your Current Sky Horoscope for Pluto in Aquarius to see how the planet of the underworld is impacting you today and to learn how its sign-shift will shape you moving forward. Then check out our What To Know About Pluto in Aquarius post to understand how the planet of power will transform the collective once it changes signs.
- Delve into Your 2023 Guidebook for an in-depth look at what Pluto has in store for you this year.
This post was written by Thea Anderson.