Mars-Pluto in Capricorn and 'Empire-Building'


With Mars now in Capricorn (since Sun Oct 26)—one of the four cardinal signs, which are most directly affected by the still-alive-and-kicking square between Uranus and Pluto—we're headed into the eye of one more concentrated storm of potentially disruptive, yet powerfully revolutionary, energy.

As I've repeatedly described, this generation-defining Uranus-Pluto square (you know, the one that's turned this world all crazy over these past five years) becomes more pronounced whenever a faster-moving planet travels into its orb, forming simultaneous hard aspects (i.e., conjunction, opposition, or square) to both potent outer-planets.

In our present case, Mars is rolling toward a conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn (exact on Mon Nov 10), followed immediately by the exact square to Uranus in Aries two days later. This obviously grants Pluto the momentary edge in his ongoing standoff with Uranus. To put this in the wider context of their near-decade-long clash, the Pluto-in-Capricorn 'side' is more oriented toward the slower, deeper, more-psychologically-painful, but urgently-necessary-on-the-practical-level reconfigurations of our longer-range life-governing structures. In other words, to both attain far-reaching goals and ensure these desired results can endure over time, we must set up strategic systems and plans. This often requires us to hold off on instant-gratification indulgences, to balance our present passions against our aimed-for future, and/or to intentionally de-prioritize certain less-'critical' concerns in favor of a purposeful preoccupation with the coveted endgame.

Pluto in Capricorn has truly been an effective aid for those of us engaged in taking the lengthy-and-involved steps necessary to deconstruct the roots of any outdated authoritative frameworks operating in our lives… frameworks which, if not critically engaged, might otherwise trap us on a road that leads to an unrewarding or soulless destination. Because of the tight grip such frameworks can hold over our habitual thoughts and beliefs, we're often only able to triumphantly topple their reign with an ambitious pledge to sustain long-term initiatives. (One single dramatic act, no matter how grand, just isn't enough.) At the same time, those of us who've wished to preserve the general efficacy of an existing goal-structure and/or to protect our own power have had to intensify our efforts, carefully replacing each rotten foundation-plank with an upgraded version and/or doubling-down on the force with which we guard the status-quo. That's why those who defiantly resist these obvious turning-tides of change (plutocratic politicians and industrialists, for instance) have grown increasingly despotic in their preventive measures.

Mars in Capricorn is a wonderful ally for Pluto, in terms of bolstering the will and determination we need behind our efforts, in order to pursue long-term goals and/or dismantle whatever structural blocks stand in our way. A Mars-Pluto conjunction is perhaps the quintessential aspect symbolizing extreme resolve, the formidable competitor, the 'win at all costs' (and the oft-cruel-or-ugly conflicts which arise while chasing that 'win'). Not only that, Mars is at the top of his game in Capricorn, where he's exalted in strength due to his ability to tirelessly persevere, letting adversaries distract or exhaust themselves, never losing sight of the finishing-line nor the steam to get there. This creates an astrological climate ideal for asserting tireless commitments to ambitious objectives, for clutching dearly to our designs… and for fighting against what- and whoever would otherwise infringe upon these future successes.

The term which keeps coming to mind to describe this Mars-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn is empire-building. While I am sensitive to the problematic implications of this term, as it's usually used to talk about the colonizing projects of governmental and corporate entities, I also think it's a good idea to keep these problematics in the foreground of our awareness. Many of us may not wish to think of ourselves as active empire-builders, but plenty of others among us—particularly those who already possess a significant amount of cultural and/or material power—most certainly do conceive of their efforts like this. You aren't thinking, chess-player-style, several steps ahead about what you want and don't want out of life? I promise you somebody else is. And if your desires conflict with theirs, who's likeliest to emerge on top? Take a guess.

In this era of accelerated, intensified change, none of us really has the luxury to continually let the little obstructions, antagonisms and intensifications slide, under some delusional belief we can hold our existing ground through passive stasis. Ground is not being 'held'; it's either being gained or lost.

This, therefore, is a time for reconnecting with our own big-view ideas of what a deeply-satisfying 'empire' would look like—'empire' as 'tangible mark of an extended span of calculated actions', not as 'cold conquering campaign of oppression and exploitation'. It's time for making moves that lay actual groundwork upon which our 'empire' could reliably rest and/or wage war against any hindering tyranny which must be overthrown in the process. Examples include: starting financial plans which will eventually enable you to change jobs or homes; investigating educational or training opportunities which would build skills, increase confidence, and/or allow for a total career-shift; addressing mindless habits which rob energy or attention from what you really want.

In addition to the types of examples I offered, we must also look at our interpersonal involvements through this same long-range lens: Does this person play a clear role in visions of your future 'empire'? Will this relationship actively support you in reaching your highest goals, or must you somehow navigate around the relationship (or otherwise make competing compromises) to actualize what you want? In an interesting synchronicity, Venus conjoins Saturn in Scorpio in the midst of all this (on Wed Nov 12)… and that's a clear astro-directive to get real serious with our relationship business.

A Venus-Saturn conjunction in Scorpio is a really bad time to ignore extenuating complications, unspoken anxieties, or looming crises in our relationships. Whatever we should be dealing with but aren't ends up rooting its toxicity even more stubbornly into the fabric of the relationship, where it'll continue causing similar-but-worsening problems. On the other hand, this Venus/Saturn-in-Scorpio is excellent for dispensing with formalities or politeness, broaching difficult topics, confessing previously undisclosed truths, and explicitly acknowledging those most challenging differences between you. If you two are able to successfully tolerate the ongoing intensity of interactively grappling with whatever between you isn't easy or perfect, the relationship will profoundly deepen and your commitment will be further cemented. And if not? You won't find a better astrological moment for facing this disappointing interpersonal news head-on—and acting accordingly.

The enemy of Mars-Pluto's empire-building? Any momentary loss of impulse control, a condition which, funnily enough, is typically associated with hard Mars-Uranus aspects. Though I've spent the bulk of this article detailing how Mars and Pluto can best work together, we mustn't forget the clashing influence of a fiery Uranus in Aries (still being fanned by trine from Jupiter in Leo) who (1) has no long-range view at all, living completely in the moment, (2) lacks the patience or perseverance to see things all the way through, and (3) reacts in split-second spurts whenever challenged or provoked. This simultaneous Mars-Uranus square, then, tests our ability not to lose our cool or respond impulsively… for thoughtless or fast-tempered actions, offered in self-defense or a blustery show-of-strength, are the surest way to suddenly, in a single heated moment, fuck up something we'd been striving to achieve for a while. During this time, we will likely find ourselves torn between strategy and impulse as response techniques. Though impulse recently had its day-in-the-sun spotlight (via September's grand fire trine) and will continue to play a prominent role in our fiery outlook through the coming months, the favored technique for these couple weeks immediately ahead is unquestionably strategy.

There's a strong astrological resemblance between now and a similar period in late November 2012, the last time Mars was in Capricorn, conjoining Pluto and squaring Uranus. Notably, Venus also conjoined Saturn at the same moment. At that time, Saturn had just recently entered Scorpio; and now, Saturn's preparing to soon leave Scorpio. Reflecting back on what you had going on two years ago, you might notice a striking parallel or full-circle moment between those events and what transpires in the weeks ahead.