Pluto Retrograde Meaning And Effects Explained

Pluto retrograde forces us to face our shadow side.

Last updated on May 02, 2024

pluto retrograde in zodiac signs sickmoose, Chikovnaya and sparklestroke / Canva

In astrology, Pluto is known as the lord of the underworld, the ruler of all that is unseen below the surface, both in our physical and emotional lives.

But more than just the exposer of secrets, Pluto is the bearer of truth. He brings up from the darkness what was hidden, and brings it to light for us to see and face. Sometimes a planet that causes more difficulties than joys is a necessary part of life.


While Pluto himself is always operating as this alchemistic energy in which he transforms our greatest fears into our greatest triumphs, when Pluto is in retrograde, it’s especially potent.

Pluto retrograde dates

On average, Pluto goes retrograde once a year for approximately six to seven months. We experience Pluto retrograde in Aquarius on May 2, 2024, which lasts through October 11, 2024, when it will end up in Capricorn before ingressing into Aquarius in November, where it will stay until 2044.

Generally, this planet’s retrograde is from the April to October timeframe, and we can generally see that with this planet only in direct motion half the year, the purpose of this transit is always to have us pause and see the truth of what we’re doing, what we’re thinking, and what we’re feeling before it’s too late.


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Pluto retrograde effects

During Pluto retrograde, this planet shows us all in no uncertain terms what we need to change, and likely without much fanfare or glory. In fact, during Pluto retrograde, we’re often hit with the reality we’ve tried to deny or the truth we’ve tried to bury.

During Pluto’s regular cycle, we go through phases depending on the zodiac sign it's in and how that affects us. Pluto’s home sign is Scorpio, also the sign of the alchemist and truth, so while transiting this sign, we usually tend to feel those themes more strongly. During Pluto retrograde, we may feel a strong urge to dig deeper into ourselves and uncover the root causes of our patterns and behaviors. This can be a challenging process, as we may need to face some uncomfortable truths and let go of old habits and attachments that are no longer serving us.

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However, this inner work can also be incredibly transformative and liberating. By facing our shadow selves and embracing our true power, we can emerge from Pluto retrograde stronger, wiser, and more authentic than ever before. In retrograde, Pluto serves to bring that to the light so we have to face what isn’t working or growing for the greater stability of our lives.

It is important to remember that Pluto retrograde is a time of intense energy and heightened emotions, so it is important to take care of ourselves during this time. This may involve seeking support from loved ones or a therapist, practicing self-care, and being gentle with ourselves as we navigate this powerful astrological transit.

Pluto retrograde in the signs

It’s almost as if Pluto is this being of truth, while each sign is a lens or filter. So, depending on where this planet is, we notice or are aware of different aspects, not just in our own life but within ourselves. Earth signs are all about stability, just as water is about emotions, fire is about action, and air is about our internal thoughts.

Because this is an outer planet, it doesn’t change signs as often as a closer planet like Mars or Venus, meaning that it stays in a sign for approximately 15 years, give or take, sometimes transiting back into other signs as it retrogrades occasionally.


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Pluto retrograde in fire signs

Pluto in a fire sign — Aries, Leo or Sagittarius — is completely different because we’re more likely to get outbursts, spontaneous changes, and the unexpected. Pluto in Aries would be a period of accelerated growth, likely through very chaotic times, while in Leo it would be about tuning into the truth of our heart; in Sagittarius, it would feel very much like a deeper universal and spiritual truth.

Pluto retrograde in earth signs

Pluto in Virgo would challenge the details we’ve built our life on, and whether or not they coincide with our truth, especially any significant plans that we’ve made. In Taurus, as one of the ruling signs of Venus, not only would it challenge our love lives and any truth we were ignoring, but it would also ask us to consider the truth about our material securities versus our emotional ones. In Capricorn, we’ve seen Pluto take aim at the foundations of our life. Capricorn is a sign that is represented by the mountain goat, and is all about hard work and dedication. Pluto retrograde exposes how sometimes Capricorn will keep working on something, even if it’s no longer viable, simply because of a sense of obligation.

Pluto retrograde in air signs

In an air sign — Gemini, Aquarius or Libra — there would be the idea that we’d be freeing ourselves from the cages of thoughts we had believed were truth. The most difficult thing for any human to accept is the truth that would change their life story. For all of us, we have a script and idea of how life will go, depending upon what we’ve already been through and what we are comfortable with imagining for our lives.


When Pluto moves through an air sign like Gemini, it means that not only are we asked to be more expansive in our thoughts, but we also likely have to contend with decisions or choices, as this sign is represented by the twins. In Aquarius, we're encouraged to find our own inner truth about what we want and imagine for this life, embracing that rebel energy and not caring what others think. In Libra, we’re asked to consider what will bring a greater balance to our lives, such as the work versus home life dynamic that so many struggle with.

Pluto retrograde in water signs

Each element has a different representation in our life, so while the specifics vary a bit — for instance, Scorpio will likely bring out more change, while Cancer could mean change on the home front because it’s the sign of the mother — in any water sign, Pluto retrograde acts as a magnifying glass for any emotion or feeling we’ve tried to suppress.

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Kate Rose is a writer, spiritual astrologist, relationship and life coach, and motivational speaker. For more of her work, visit her website