Pluto has an energy that is as subtle and yet powerful as mind control, which is just one of the many things that falls within this planet’s realm. Sometimes referred to as the planet of power, Pluto seeks to control and influence on a grand, if hidden, scale.

In fact, Pluto is all about the hidden side of existence -- secrets, affairs, behind-the-scenes manipulations and so on. But more than that, it’s about power, whether it’s negative or positive. Powerful experiences such as sexuality, death, destruction and regeneration are within this planet’s realm, as are powerful urges like will, control, obsession and, again, sex.

In order to understand Pluto’s influence in your life, think of a time when you were utterly overtaken by something or someone. Perhaps you fell in love and grew obsessed with the object of your desires, or maybe you were involved in a relationship with someone who tried to control your every move. Maybe you’ve had a memorably intense sexual experience, or an equally memorable period of self-destructiveness or addiction.

All these experiences define Pluto’s energy, one that has the simultaneous power to create and destroy, to make life both amazing and terrible; or, in short, intense. It can grip you in its jaws and rip down everything you’ve come to depend on, but it can also force you to learn the power of strength -- of standing on your own two feet, come what may.

Pluto rules the intense sign of Scorpio. Read about Scorpio to learn more about this sign and Pluto's influence on it.

Pluto is a very dark, cold, slow (dwarf) planet, and is the furthest known planet from our Sun, visible only with a powerful telescope. It was only recently discovered, in 1930. Unlike other faraway planets, Pluto is not gaseous: It has a sold body.

Pluto takes 245 years to orbit the Sun. It is quite eccentric in that its orbital plane is tilted by about 17° off the ecliptic, unlike the orbital plane of other planets. This creates a strange effect as Pluto circles around the Zodiac, because it spends much longer in some parts of the Zodiac than in others. For example, it takes thirty years to travel through Taurus, but only fourteen years to make its way through Scorpio!

From Earth’s perspective, Pluto appears to be retrograde 54% of the year, which makes the retrograde somewhat insignificant in itself. However, the stationary position of Pluto -- when it seems to stand still as it changes directions -- is when the qualities and characteristics of Pluto are likely to be very noticeable.

During a retrograde period, we are often forced to step back and pause in our own evolutionary processes. The stations and retrograde periods of Pluto give us a chance to stop and consider our situation and the next course of action.

The Pluto Return occurs outside of the human life span, so we look to other points in the cycle for significance, such as the Pluto square which often indicates a time of mid-life changes and turmoil.

However, because of Pluto's eccentric orbit, it’s not always a mid-life thing: The square can happen as early as age thirty-seven and as late as age ninety-two!

Pluto, the planet of transformation and regeneration, is so very far away from the Sun that it takes almost 250 years to make its entire orbit around the fiery center of our solar system. It spends many years in one sign, and is so slow and far away that it is retrograde almost forty-five percent of the time.

You can’t see Pluto, of course, unless you happen to have access to a powerful telescope, but it’s hard to avoid feeling its influence -- especially when it’s at a dead standstill, spending up to four months in the same degree of the Zodiac, at what are called the stationary points of its cycle.

On the days when it finally seems to start cranking up and moving again -- whether it is going retrograde or direct -- Pluto themes are all over the headlines, and they aren’t usually very pretty: terrorist attacks, mining disasters, things long hidden coming to light. In short, scary stuff.

On a personal level, Pluto is all about personal growth and transformation. And let’s be honest: You can’t grow all the time without pausing occasionally to absorb and integrate the lessons you’ve been learning.

Pluto Retrograde periods are perfect for this. Personal evolution is a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process, and the pace is determined by the direct and retrograde motion of Pluto.

Occasionally the Pluto retrograde period is characterized by painful loss, or events and circumstances in your life that are far beyond your control. In many ways, Pluto represents factors that are much larger than any individual; it is the planet of human evolution, after all, and that trumps any single person.

But for most of us, most of the time, Pluto retrograde periods offer us the chance to delve deeply into our own inner resources and determine what is most important, when all is said and done.

Learn more about the other retrograde planets: Mercury retrograde, Venus retrograde, Mars retrograde, Jupiter retrograde, Saturn retrograde, Uranus retrograde, Neptune retrograde, Pluto retrograde