Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Astrology of Boomers & COVID-19

"In an unsettling reversal of my teenage years, I am now yelling at my parents for going out."

                                          --Tweet, dated Mar. 15, 2020

It’s impossible to read the latest news in regards to COVID-19 without being reminded that seniors – anyone over 60,, that is—are the most vulnerable to its viral “charms.” This creates an intriguing dilemma—while it’s been pretty well-established (although not 100% scientifically proven) that younger people and children are far less likely to fall seriously ill with the virus, the key to “flattening the curve” probably depends upon the willingness of these younger age groups to modify their own behavior for the sake of the older individuals around them. 

Not that all Millennials have been ignoring the extent to which they can be passive carriers of the virus to those around them: I’ve personally benefited from conscientious young people who seem to have fully embraced CDC and local guidelines, and as the tweet cited above suggests, many of them are actively trying to protect their parents from themselves! Boomers are famously slow at admitting they've aged into being "seniors," but the inescapable bottom line reality is, everyone needs to take responsibility for protecting themselves because by doing so, they’re protecting everyone

In fact, I can’t think of a better example about how we’re “in this together” than the horrifying news being reported today (Wed.) about the viral fall-out from Mardi-Gras in Louisiana. Louisiana went from zero cases to over 1200 since that time: it’s now documented that the virus was celebrating right along with the people in the streets of “NOLA,” and that many of those partiers of all ages returned to points unknown, carrying it home to other states. This should be fair warning for anyone wanting to loosen restrictions on large gatherings right now—no matter the economic fall-out. 

Then there are those like newly-tested positive Senator Rand Paul, who could be the poster child for reckless indifference to his colleagues’ wellbeing. Was he not aware that 48 of our 100 senators are over the age of 65? Paul has reduced lung capacity due to underlying issues, so we wish him well, but we also need Congress to be available to do the nation’s work right now—not in quarantine or worse! He was a medical doctor before running for office; he should have known better than to swim in the Senate pool and work out in the gym while he was waiting for test results! Astrologically, his case reminds us that we need to monitor the health outcomes of that 1960s Virgo generation cohort born with Uranus conjunct Pluto—a story for another day!

Sen. Rand Paul tested positive for COVID-19, sparking a furor.

For now, however, let’s stick with the precarious relationship that Boomers have with COVID-19, considering they’re more likely to have underlying health issues: I thought it would be interesting to see how this reality shows up in their generational chart, cast for Pluto’s ingress into Leo in October, 1937. Logically, it should show up as a challenge to the generation’s vitality—as a factor that accelerates our aging at least, if not worse. Little did I know the virus would spark a sizzling discussion, laced with death threats, about the value of the “unproductive” senior population—more on that to come! 

Just so we’re considering it from a couple different angles, Triwheel #1 below places the generational chart—for the moment Pluto first ingressed into Leo in October, 1937—against both the progressed generational chart and the COVID-19 origins chart discussed in the last post here. And since I’ve set this generational chart for Washington, D.C., the COVID-19 origins chart represents the virus’s first appearance in this country, as well. 

Please note that what we see in these charts in no way reflects a prognosis for individual Boomers—generational charts are demographic exercises, so they represent a broad trend rather than individual characteristics or experiences. We already know from the medical experts that Boomers are at increased risk—this exploration will hopefully tell us something we don’t already know! 
Let’s begin.

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) Pluto Leo ingress, October 7, 1937, 6:42:08 a.m. ST, Washington, D.C.; (middle wheel) Pluto Leo ingress, progressed to December 31, 2019, 12 pm GMT, Washington, DC; (outer wheel) COVID-19 in U.S., January 20, 2020, 12 pm ST, Washington, D.C.. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

COVID Jupiter squares Pluto in Leo (PL) Sun, conjunct PL ASC (Libra); Progressed (Prog) MC conjoins PL Sun. This suggests that as a generation, Boomers are at a crossroads when true maturity and leadership are being demanded; happily, these qualities should be supported and even be rewarded (COVID Jupiter), although Jupiter has a little less vigor than usual in Saturnian Capricorn—it’s “aged,” a bit. No surprise, the Leo generation’s urge has always been to shine forth (sign ruler Sun at ASC), and its reputation as the “Me” Generation certainly fits the image here. Today, that image has a thinning shock of silver hair!

One Boomer who's been "OK" with Millennials.

The fact is, Boomers have held the reins of power in this nation for a long time (10th house PL Pluto trine Saturn in Aries have something to do with that)—perhaps even too long. Since the Clinton presidency, and then the G.W. Bush presidency, Leo administrations haven’t always lived up to that challenge very well, either—denigrating the dignity of the presidency, basically dismantling the middle class and enabling the onset of radical wealth inequality, not to mention getting us into “forever” wars that have done little that is constructive, but have certainly fed multinational corporations.  

Pluto in Leo favors ostentatious wealth, although as a generation it took awhile for us to reconcile with our parents’ post-WWII materialism (the “Establishment”) and to fully embrace our own drive for big money and the power associated with it. 

As our children’s generations have struggled with the economic crunch caused by globalization and other wage-suppressing policies, we (as a general trend) have remained a prosperous generation.

In fact, the Clinton and Bush, Jr. Boomer administrations presided over the breakdown of important support systems underpinning not just our economy, but American democracy itself, paving the way for the megalomaniacal fix we’re in today. When allowed the chance, Leo leans towards ego-driven, authoritarian-style control—a style that’s been “growing on us” for some time and one that we’re seeing on full display with the Trump White House. 

Trump is our third Boomer president, of course—one who is determined to ignore health care experts and the mounting dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic for his fellow Boomers so he can get “his” economy back in motion. It’s apparent that he believes “wealth = power” is the winning equation for Election 2020, and he never misses an opportunity to remind us how many “billions” it cost him to get elected.   

COVID Saturn-Pluto (Capricorn) conjoin PL Jupiter (Capricorn) and oppose PL Pluto (Leo). These “Saturn-heavy” aspects (Saturn rules Capricorn) highlight the aging of the Boomer generation—indeed, almost everyone in leadership positions in DC today is over 70 years old—a reality that can feel like part of the problem, not the solution.  Our two Democratic challengers for the presidency are in their late 70s, House Leader Nancy Pelosi turns 80 this week, and Senate Leader McConnell isn’t far behind! 

Obviously, these are “productive” players in our democracy (I’ve seen Pelosi speak for hours, standing at the House podium in her high heels to promote an important bill), but we might also argue that Boomers have, overall, had too much of a strangle-hold on the nation’s democratic institutions. 

The power of big money in politics is nothing new, but Boomers have excelled in it.

PL Jupiter (Capricorn) squares PL Sun-ASC (Libra), too—Big (or “Dark”) Money in politics has become the modus operandi under Boomer rule, poisoning our democratic processes and leaving the nation open to grandiose abuses of power. Somehow the progressive hopefuls who have tried to run campaigns that resist this abusive culture run aground—this PL Jupiter also trines PL Neptune (Virgo)—there’s a subtle, but very powerful “undertow” at work with money and politics that has so far prevailed. 

We’re seeing this inertia manifest in clear view these days, under the COVID-19 threat, of course: Trump made a show of calling for a national state of emergency, but he’s clearly regretting the action and hoping to reverse it soon, as soon as Easter Sunday (he wants “packed churches”), even though health experts are cautioning that this would be a very reckless move because the pandemic is likely to continue spiking in the coming weeks, not declining. 

Nevertheless, Trump has clearly recruited the Fox network to plead his case—using older commentators like Glenn Beck, they’re promoting the message that older Americans surely prefer to die rather than allow the economy to continue being shut down for everyone else, in their words, “killing the country.” So this is the new partisan divide, it seems—we’re now supposed to blame the elderly for not getting out of the way so the rest of the country can get back to business as usual? Maybe older conservatives in high places would like to lead the way over the cliff for the rest of us “lemmings?” Who dreams up these insidious ways of dividing the American people?!  

Thankfully, religious leaders like Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, are calling out the false choice and ethical pitfalls at the heart of such arguments:

“The economy is, of course, important in terms of human life and flourishing, but human life is paramount,” Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said Tuesday.
“He said he’s concerned that some people seem to be talking about human lives as expendable, while others are talking about rationing health-care resources. Such ideas go against basic Christian tenets, and Americans must uphold the dignity of every human life, Moore said.
‘We cannot define people in terms of their age or their perceived usefulness,’ Moore said.”
Hopefully such leaders will get that message across to Trump and his Fox mouthpieces, but this discussion opens up some important points about the transits we’re seeing in this chart, as well. Saturn is all about developmental cycles and aging, so its alliance with Pluto here, transiting the generation’s 4th house (the end of things) opposite our generational Pluto (Leo) could reflect the precarious situation Boomer-aged seniors are in right now overall. 

What's wrong with this picture?

That we’re seeing discussions about seniors that pit the value of their lives against the nation’s economy is not entirely surprising, either. It’s certainly reflected by Saturn-Pluto’s tightening conjunction to Sibly Pluto (Capricorn)—our national chart’s chief signifier for the (big “E”) Economy. And it’s true that Saturn-Pluto may end up “culling the herd” by the time this all ends, but to consider that  an “acceptable” loss disregards the fact that everyone is vulnerable to COVID-19. Hospitals are seeing deaths from this virus from all age groups, even if the odds of severe illness in younger individuals is still considered lower than in older populations. 

Even more importantly, however, as a society, we’re receiving a very loud wake-up call here about our national values. This issue of “productivity” is a gnarly beast: in our capitalist system, a lot of people doing wonderful things for our collective good aren’t considered “productive” because they aren’t earning a wage: stay-at-home moms or dads (who are worth their weight in gold, if you ask me); those who volunteer (many of them seniors) in thousands of organizations across the country; those who offer childcare and/or elder care to family members (again, many over-60 types here), and so on. Yes, the wheels of our consumer economy need to be greased with consumer dollars, but that doesn’t negate the value of these alternative contributions to society. 

This discussion is worth a digression, in fact, because it segues with the very important passage represented by our looming Pluto return (exact in February, 2022).  Former Harvard Economics professor and the president of Living Economies Forum, David Korten, attributes these skewed value judgments to the cultural “story” mainstream economics has imposed on society over our history. He calls it the “Sacred Money and Markets” story, and is summarized briefly below:

“Time is money. Money is wealth. Material consumption is the path to happiness…Economic inequality and environmental damage are a regrettable but necessary and unavoidable cost of growing the GDP. GDP growth in turn eliminates poverty, drives technological innovation to free us from our dependence on nature, and brings universal and perpetual prosperity for all. There is no viable alternative to a profit-driven free market economy.”[1]
Korten also points out that by surrendering to this “story,” we’ve compromised what is best in humanity and have related to the “Earth as if it were a dead rock for sale.” We don’t need experts like Korten, of course, to know that this “sacred story” isn’t working out very well for millions of people. It has never delivered what its proponents promise—poverty is never “eliminated” and “perpetual prosperity” is a mirage. 
Similar to the Happiness Index.

There’s no becoming less dependent on nature, no matter what the story, and being solely focused on the GDP as an economic barometer in the face of the human and environmental destruction such focus often produces is deeply flawed and counter-productive. The so-called opioid epidemic was a net GDP positive, while taking care not to infect each other during this pandemic would be considered GDP negative. Maybe it’s time, as Korten says, to “change the story” that directs our economy, and our Pluto return may be forcing that need on us. If so, it could be a very productive exercise!
Bottom line, if Boomers can provide a reason for society in general to slow down and seriously reconsider that toxic “story” that directs our lives (Sibly Mercury opposes Sibly Pluto), that’s a worthwhile contribution!
PL Mars squares PL Saturn (Aries); COVID Uranus trines PL Mars (Capricorn) and sextiles PL Saturn. These aspects point to ways in which Boomers have been part of the problem, too: Mars and Saturn are in mutual reception here (inhabiting each other’s ruling signs), so the square between them powerfully reflects the drive Boomers have always had for prosperity and success. The transiting influence of Uranus could be disruptive, although the “soft” aspects suggest that any damage may be manageable. 

There’s a bit of dissonance, however, between these soft aspects and the COVID Uranus (Taurus) square to Prog PL Jupiter (Aquarius). Even if stimulus packages help, there are bound to be financial ups and downs for Boomers who depend upon the stock and/or bond markets for their retirements.  

Notice also that this COVID Uranus falls trine PL Prog Sun-Mercury (Capricorn): maybe the disruptions we experience getting through all this will inspire a productive change of hearts and minds. Again, this could impact perceptions of that economic “story” we’ve all perpetuated. 

PL Pluto in 10th trines 6th house PL Saturn-Eris-COVID Chiron (Aries). Clearly, generation Leo has fully embraced its power and authority over the past few decades, but that power, exercised as public servants (6th house Saturn-Eris), appears to now be “wounded.” It’s hard to say if this will be reflected in the COVID death toll, or if it’s more about a loss of trust in Boomer leadership. More on this in a future, election-related post!

Yes, this is an election year, isn't it?

This Chiron also squares PL Mars, reflecting the hit that Boomer vitality is taking, so this wound could work both ways. It’s instructive that the one leader everyone seems to trust these days is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo—a member of that early 1960s Virgo generation alluded to earlier with Senator Rand Paul, with Pluto conjunct Uranus and both opposite Chiron (Pisces). 

Interestingly, Neptune (Pisces) is now opposing Cuomo’s Jupiter/Pluto (midpoint, Virgo, chart for Dec. 6, 1967 birth not shown)—it’s no wonder he’s faced with the seemingly insurmountable task of dealing with both the pandemic (Neptune) and the vagaries of a Neptunian White House response that talks a good talk, but never quite gets the job done. He’s challenged to calmly exercise the highest form of public service and political power (Jupiter/Pluto) in the midst of overwhelming circumstances.  
COVID Chiron (Aries) conjoins PL Saturn-Eris (Aries) and squares PL Chiron (Cancer)  both the radix aspects and the transiting Chiron-Chiron square reflect the love/hate relationship Boomers have had forever with the so-called “Establishment”—except, they became the Establishment and Chiron is now ripping open old wounds. Wounds related to the tortured relationship this generation has had with authority and the right (as opposed to the arrogant) uses of power, with our responsibility for leaving the planet in better shape than we found it, and so on. 

The criticism lurking behind the “OK Boomer” phenomenon probably has something to do with these reopened wounds: despite some accomplishments that younger generations wouldn't want to do without these days (cell phones, the internet, open heart surgery, etc.) we do owe future generations better than we’ve given them to date—hopefully there will be time to work on that! 

Let's not hold back, Millennials! 
COVID Neptune (Pisces) opposes PL Venus (rules chart) conjunct PL Neptune (Virgo-rules 6th). Remember all those pot-smoking Hippies holding “Love-ins” and calling for “all natural health food” diets once upon a time? Well, we’ve come full circle with broad societal acceptance of “food-to-table real food” diets and marijuana (in Michigan, our Governor deemed access to marijuana delivery an “essential need” in her pandemic response). This radix Venus-Neptune conjunction in earthy Virgo certainly had something to do with that signature Hippie ethos, although the dark side of that was the potential for serious drug abuse, as well. 

This potential still exists among aging Boomers, of course: whatever happened to the so-called “opioid epidemic” that was in the news so heavily until recently? Folded in there is an awful lot of prescription drug abuse by Boomers and non-Boomers! When the dust settles from this pandemic, perhaps we’ll be able to sort through these various Neptunian issues more clearly. 

PL Venus also trines PL Uranus (Taurus). The Boomer generation also manifested in Radical Anti-War Peaceniks, like the Chicago 7: There were, of course, more strident rebels who were willing to lash out violently to make a point (such as the Students for Democratic Society (SDS) and the Black Panther Party). 

We see that potential here with the PL Mars-PL Uranus trine.  This aspect makes me wonder how invested the Boomer generation has been in the “death” industries that profit from violence and terrorism—great fodder for GDP and stock market growth, of course! I do believe the generation’s early anti-war sensibility lives on in some form: it surfaced during the run-up to the Iraq war, although the priorities of Boomer-led corporations like Halliburton heavily outweighed any protests. Obviously, this generation has expressed itself in a multitude of ways and continues to do so. 

Grand Earth trine: PL Venus-Neptune trines PL Uranus (Taurus) trines PL Jupiter-Pallas (Capricorn). This just reinforces what we discussed earlier: as a broad aggregate, the Boomers have been the wealthiest generation since the late 19th century Robber Barons (Pluto in Taurus), and while Boomers benefited from the frugality and diligence of their Pluto in Cancer parents, they also benefited from the Reagan years, which swayed many to adopt a more conservative or “centrist” ideology (their Capricorn Mars and Jupiter), in the case of those who supported moderate Bill Clinton. This very prominent generational wealth factor assured that Boomers would be influential on the Supreme Court (Jupiter-Pallas) as well. 

Is Trump taking COVID-19 seriously?

Final thoughts

In the last post here, I mentioned that we might attempt to take an educated guess about when the COVID-19 pandemic would wear itself out and subside. In fact, I’ve rethought that idea since and am convinced that trying to predict anything about this could be irresponsible and hazardous to people’s health, so we won’t even go there. It’s more important at this point that we listen to the guidelines that health experts are putting out there and that we err on the side of extra caution. 

Why would Trump decide to name an arbitrary date like April 12th on which he’d like to see the country back up and running, despite protests from the health community? Because he has a vested business interest in seeing things up and running—a business interest that frankly, may overwhelm whatever true dedication he has to the health of Americans (anyone heard any condolences from him at the podium?). This conflict of interests illustrates exactly why former presidents have always voluntarily divested themselves of business interests: the American people shouldn’t have to wonder just which priorities are driving a president’s decision making. 

And we certainly shouldn’t have to listen to presidential mouthpieces telling us how seniors should be willing to get sick and die for the sake of the economy—the fact that anyone would even say this out loud in front of cameras suggests that there’s no limit in some minds to how ruthless our economic system should be to preserve and perpetuate itself. Boomers (and other generations, for that matter) have seen this before—especially those who fought in Korea and/or Viet Nam and were treated like expendable materiel. 

Countless examples come to mind, in fact—our history is littered with examples of people being treated as meaningless ciphers (or even property) for economic priorities.

Could it be that this long toxic history is coming home to roost during these Capricorn Saturn-Pluto times? The good news is, thanks to Neptune demanding our attention, we’re being forced to act more as a united collective, capable of subsuming short-term priorities to the long term collective good of mitigating the spread of the pandemic. Of course, we haven't done this for the sake of mitigating the other great challenge of our times--climate change--and it's high time that we design an economy around doing just that! These are choices we can make!

So I hope that people will simply ignore Trump’s call for everyone to “get back to business” until the health experts say it’s safe to do so. We’ve been seeing that phrase “the cure is worse than the disease” perpetuated by Trump and the right-wing media, but thankfully there are others calling out the false choice implied by this phrase. From the New Yorker:

 “Is it the disease or the cure that Trump doesn’t understand? In his briefing, he said that one of his motivations for rushing to reopen the country is new research into the mortality rate—this is ‘a big factor’ for him. And he doesn’t think that the numbers on the table are that big. There had been talk that the rate might be three, four, or five per cent; now it looked like it might be one per cent, or a little less. He might do the math on what one per cent amounts to in a country of more than three hundred million. Think of whatever group of a hundred or more you like—your office, your school, your wedding-invitation or holiday-card list—and now imagine yourself or someone you love as the one. And that number may not even be right, not even in ideal conditions of limitless medical resources….What he [Tucker Carlson, speaking on behalf of Trump] was suggesting is not decent; it is not too strong a word to say that it is barbaric. It is the bullying instinct of Trumpism taken to its extreme. Such an approach would cost the country something that, unlike restaurant sales, could never be regained.”
Enough said—our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. Please, be well, be safe!

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at:

© Raye Robertson 2020. All rights reserved. 

[1]David Korten, Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., Oakland, CA, 2015, pp. 23-24.

Monday, March 16, 2020

A Coronavirus Update: the Astrology of Interconnectedness

“’The fact that we are connected through space and time,” evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis observed of the interconnectedness of the universe, ‘shows that life is a unitary phenomenon, no matter how we express that fact.’

—Maria Popova,

One massive wake-up call that stands out from what is now known as the COVID-19 pandemic is its passive ability to infiltrate communities by way of asymptomatic and mostly unaware infected individuals. The situation today in the U.S. (and in many nations)—is marked by a rising tide of social distancing shut-downs (sports, schools, etc.) and a general halting of the wheels of everyday life. 

The eerie sculpture installations in Jason Decaires Taylor’s Underwater Museum (MUSA) come to mind in times like these (see above): as a society, the U.S.—and other impacted nations—are entering an almost literal state of suspended animation.

In the absence of protective masks, people will get creative!
The big question now is, how can we best respond to our current reality? It’s tougher than we might think—Neptune can undermine our capacity for clear thinking and it can zap our motivation to do the right thing. We might accept responsibility for being part of the solution instead of the problem, but the overall reality of a new viral pandemic is beyond any one person’s control, and that can work on a lot of our minds. For those rugged individuals among us, this can be especially difficult; as all Neptunian challenges require that we must work together for the sake of all.  

This can manifest in a number of ways, from volunteering to keep local food pantries stocked for families who find themselves out of work, to providing child care for kids whose parents have no choice but to work during this time of closed schools, to leaving that extra package of toilet paper on the shelves because someone else might need it more than you do. 

Perhaps the best contribution any of us can make to our neighbors and local communities, however, is to practice the CDC’s recommended hygiene and social-distancing protocols—willingly and persistently.

Split-screen responses have only confused people; we need to hear from experts only.
Ideally we would have helpful, coherent leadership at the top, but if that’s not to be, at least our local states and municipalities seem to be stepping up, giving us clear facts and making the difficult decisions. In Neptunian times, the “big picture” is often cloudy, distorted and overwhelming; better to break that down into manageable, relatable pieces where taking action might make a difference.  

In fact, we’ve seen a relentless parade of leadership failings by those at the top, but let’s not dwell on the blame game here. Let’s celebrate those who are getting this right and do whatever we can to see that they get all the help they need to do their jobs.  

As for the astrological puzzle for today, it’s a topic that’s difficult to pin down to a single chart or planetary cycle and more about exploring ways in which the Cosmos and Nature (in our Earth realm) work together—quite a relevant topic, given the pandemic we’re dealing with. We don’t always view our mundane analyses through the lens of natural systems, but I’ve long thought we need to incorporate more of this perspective—certainly for today’s situation, but also for the sake of more deeply understanding the astrology of climate change.  The difficulties we’re experiencing coming to grips with both these phenomena has to do with us, not with Nature, despite how elusive and frankly threatening it feels at the moment.

For instance, consider for a moment the amazing Neptunian dynamics driving this pandemic: water and water-based fluids (including cough-and-sneeze-borne mist) are perfect solvents, and since fluids, like oceans, are always in motion, substances that find their way into these waters are almost instantly dissolved and dispersed throughout.

The science of water can tell us a lot about viral epidemics.
That’s why scientists testing water samples in one small part of a lake can assume that what they’re seeing in those samples exists throughout that body of water. Not only that, but the same substances dissolved in those waters will show up in the tissues of any resident flora and fauna, from the largest fish down to the smallest plant life and microbes. Molecular transmission such as this needs no overt force to drive it; it simply happens because this is what the nature of the water medium provides for. This is why we can assume that if the COVID-19 virus is present anywhere in our environment, it may very well be everywhere. The sooner we operate on that assumption, the sooner we will “flatten the epidemic curve,” as the experts are saying. 

So the astrology of the situation—the long tradition that says Neptune rules epidemic transmission of disease—must have been derived from observing these dynamics in Nature. What we’re experiencing today is Neptune on steroids, of course—it’s about mid-way in its transit of home sign Pisces, which clearly amplifies its basic dynamics considerably.  Has every pandemic in history happened under a Pisces Neptune? Of course not, but there was an abnormally high number of such events during Neptune’s last tour of this sign between 1848-1861.  

Wikipedia documents the history of such events and the list is quite startling during that pre-Civil War era. I’ve reproduced the list of events that reached North America in Table 1 below. Other mass disease events were happening around the globe, as well, including a third cholera pandemic between 1846-60.

Table 1. Infectious disease mass events in No. America during 1847-1861.
Infectious Event
Typhoid fever
Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever
Bubonic Plague

Notice that after beginning a new cycle in April, 1846 at 27°+Aquarius (conjunct Sibly Moon),  Saturn and Neptune transited Pisces together from February, 1848 to November, 1848, and then again from December, 1848 to April, 1849. These were key months in the wave of revolutions that swept across Europe in 1848—yes, Neptune is thought to rule such mass movements, and Saturn’s weak position in Neptune’s home sign would have undermined national governments and their “immunity” against mass uprisings.  It should be said that hard economic times also compromise societies in a number of disruptive ways.

Deep divisions seem to be a hallmark of Pisces Neptune.
Here in the U.S., for instance, 1846 saw one of the first major events leading into the U.S. Civil War—the Wilmot Proviso. Congress careened from one impossible plan to another between then and our disintegration into two halves in December 1860, followed quickly by the Civil War in April 1861, the very month that Neptune entered bellicose Aries. 

 The fact that all this was transpiring under a new 1850 Uranus-Pluto cycle in late Aries only reinforced the volatility and the Neptunian dynamics then fueling the South’s uprising.  Is it any wonder that our current times, which bear certain resemblances astrologically (Pisces Neptune, 3rd Q Uranus-Pluto square, from Aries-Capricorn), are marked by the deepest, most destructive polarization that we’ve seen since the 1850s? 

Too far off to spend any time on right now, but still a future concern, Saturn and Neptune will again be transiting Pisces together in the years leading into their new 2026 cycle, which will launch at 0° Aries.  This will be a time period to watch for its parallels to the 1848-49 period.
Returning to the issue of epidemics, however, because of its association with fluids and tides, we must also look to the Moon for her contribution to disease transmission: in medical astrology, the Moon is thought to rule a long list of issues. 

From expert Jane Ridder Patrick[1]:

·         “The limbic system
·         Circadian rhythms and body cycles in general
·         The menstrual cycle
·         Fertility, pregnancy and lactation
·         Feeding patterns
·         Habits
·         The right eye of a woman, the left of a man
·         Lymphatic system
·         Body fluids”

Ridder-Patrick attributes the character of our general health to our Moon placements, and not surprisingly, there’s a “fluid” connection. As she reminds us, the Moon’s “…sign and aspects show the flow of vital force rather than its quality. A disturbed flow will cause fluctuations in vitality and therefore ill health. The Moon shows instinctive, reflex actions, the quality of response to the body’s needs and how the body adjusts to everyday challenges and stresses.”[2]

All of this works together to influence our emotional lives.
The limbic system (“a complex set of structures in the brain which appears to be primarily responsible for the emotional life”)[3] is a big part of how the body adjust to stresses because it works through the hypothalamus (in concert with Jupiter) to regulate important emotional responses, and these responses can either enhance or weaken the all-important factor of immunity

All of this applies on both the personal and the mundane levels of society, of course, where intense periods of toxic, heightened emotions can undermine any society’s “immune system”—those institutional defenses that keep systems functioning with at least some stability and effectiveness. We’ve witnessed this exact situation for several years now, which is why it’s so important for our response to the COVID-19 virus that we get beyond divisive emotions and start acting as a coherent, interconnected body politic.  

Confucius is credited with influencing China's collectivist culture.
It’s often been said that eastern cultures like the Chinese are more “collectively” oriented—more focused on the well being of the whole, as opposed to the needs or desires of each individual. On the flip side, American culture is deeply individualistic and skeptical of anything that smacks of collectivism (Bernie Sanders is finding this out as deep-rooted biases against “socialism” surface against his campaign). Trouble is, this narrow focus renders us incapable of thinking collectively when we really need to—like now. Is it really so hard to leave a little toilet paper on the shelves for the next customer? The mindset driving that inconsiderate hoarding behavior is going to endanger our overall COVID-19 response if we let it. 

In Neptunian times, it helps to think and behave with the collective’s well-being at heart—if we can do that, our own well-being will be assured as well, but this calls for empathy, compassion, cooperation and as much loving kindness as we can muster.

Onlooker, or connected?
Along these lines, it’s not difficult to see how what happens in that Neptunian ocean we considered earlier also happens in epidemics—we humans are but “fish” swimming in a global web of inter-connectedness—a fact that facilitates virus transmission, even when we’re extremely careful. Of course, the silent, invisible breaking down of defense barriers (including those provided by our immune systems, since this is a “novel” coronavirus) and the seemingly uncontrollable nature of such transmission are big factors in stoking panic—another Neptunian phenomenon. We humans tend to feel more secure with some sense of boundaries and structure (Saturn), and Neptune works to erode both.

Notice that there’s a subtle difference between Neptune’s facility for spreading an epidemic and that other Neptunian “superpower,” sabotage. Indeed, Foreign Policy put all this into perspective in an article titled “Trump has sabotaged America’s Coronavirus response.” An extended excerpt is warranted here:

 “For the United States, the answers are especially worrying because the government has intentionally rendered itself incapable. In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure. In numerous phone calls and emails with key agencies across the U.S. government, the only consistent response I encountered was distressed confusion. If the United States still has a clear chain of command for pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it is—not just for the public but for the government itself, which largely finds itself in the dark.”
The fact is, even though some measures the administration has made are starting to make more sense, Trump created the chaos that has squandered the time we had to prepare for this pandemic. He did this by dismantling the bureaucracy that was charged with making our response work seamlessly and transparently. Was Trump simply oblivious to the challenges posed by several epidemic-level threats in the recent past, or did he simply not care? Foreign again:

In the spring of 2018, the White House pushed Congress to cut funding for Obama-era disease security programs, proposing to eliminate $252 million in previously committed resources for rebuilding health systems in Ebola-ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Under fire from both sides of the aisle, President Donald Trump dropped the proposal to eliminate Ebola funds a month later. But other White House efforts included reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS. And the government’s $30 million Complex Crises Fund was eliminated.
In his Rose Garden emergency declaration this past Friday (finally!), Trump denied knowing anything about these cuts and he called a question that was asked about them “nasty,” as if it wasn’t exactly the right question to ask at the time. Yes, the facts matter here—and since no one else could have made those cuts, which indeed did happen, who else can be responsible? Bottom line, his raging against the media for reporting the facts is irresponsible and is going to hurt all of us.
Perhaps the bigger question is whether Trump made these cuts to help fund his precious border wall, or just because many of the programs he was targeting were Obama programs? Either way, the blind arrogance it takes to destroy programs that could mean the difference between life and death for the American people so he could put that money towards anything else is simply gob-smacking. 

Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro meeting with Trump, et al at Mar-o-Lago.
As for the cost of the administration’s “make-it-up-as-we-go-along” response, how could it not cost all of what he tried to cut from health programs and more? Prevention is always less expensive than playing catch-up, and it’s also more responsible. But then, to be responsible, one must be able to respond to others’ needs, and that may just be asking for too much. 
Foreign Policy also reported that Trump himself may have been exposed to the virus, yet he spent days being evasive about whether he would be tested or not. Finally, on Saturday, his White House physician announced that he was tested and was deemed negative. Considering all the hands he continues to shake, despite all kinds of advice to the contrary, this is good news for a lot of people. Unfortunately, several individuals who attended a gathering with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-o-Lago were exposed to Bolsonaro’s press secretary, who did test positive, but they have at least taken the initiative to self-quarantine. 

So the editors of Foreign Policy called upon Trump to follow the precedent set by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has quarantined himself after his wife, Sophie contracted the virus overseas. Perhaps that’s why Trump finally agreed to the test (let’s hope he and his doctor wouldn’t lie about this)—there was a growing chorus of people calling his behavior irresponsible. 

What we can do
Psychologists concerned with minimizing public stress levels (high stress and anxiety levels wear down immune systems) are suggesting that we impose structures on our own lives while we’re stuck at home, and this makes perfect astrological sense—Saturnian measures always help to maintain a bit of control during Neptunian times. Schedules, goals and reasonable limits on immersive Neptunian screen time will help. Exercise and competitive activities (especially as the weather warms up) will help keep minds and bodies (and emotional wellbeing) going, and there’s no reason to fall out of contact with key people in our lives—we just may not be doing as much face-to-face communicating for a while. 

Parents are challenged to step in where teachers have been forced to step away, and as long as Congress provides some relief for lost incomes, perhaps everyone can find constructive uses for this increased family time. Nothing will go entirely to plan, of course, but we can strive to be as intentional as possible about forced isolation. Again, the more structure and purpose we can build into our days, the less we’ll suffer from “cabin fever” and general boredom and malaise. 

For those whose families have flown the nest, we can catch up on reading and spring cleaning, learn something new that’s been collecting dust on our “bucket lists,” write letters to the powers that be, participate in phone canvassing for causes we care about—the possibilities are out there and we might as well enjoy the “gift” of the slower-paced period of time we’ve been given! Whatever adds to our enjoyment and wellbeing, whatever makes us part of the solution instead of the problem, sounds like fair game to me.

One thought nags at me about how the powers-that-be in D.C. handled this crisis early on: China began its fight against the COVID-19 crisis in December, which should have given us ample time to prepare our response. Instead, our leaders chose to enable (Neptune) the crisis rather than lead a coherent response to it. IMHO, we’re within our rights to wonder what Trump’s aims were in taking this approach. Was he just trying to calm down the stock market, seeing that a strong market has been his claim to political fame? Or did he passively enable a crisis so that he could then look like the “hero” saving the day?  Does he simply assume that American lives (not to mention others!) are his to jerk around as he likes? Where are the official programs for responding to the virus in institutional settings, like prisons and the military? Will returning soldiers be quarantined for a period to avoid the tragic mistakes of 2018-9 (more on that ahead)?

We need to raise these questions and keep at them until there are answers, because Neptunian inertia is clearly the default mode in D.C.

These levels of irresponsibility and inertia seem frankly inconceivable, but did Trump really think that deny-deny-deny and lie-lie-lie would work for this particular challenge? It didn’t work in 1918 when the so-called Spanish Influenza pandemic hit the U.S. like a sledge hammer, and it won’t work now. Trump tried to claim that he didn’t know that flu could kill people, when in fact, that 1918 epidemic killed his own paternal grandfather

In fact, that 1918-1920 event is a precedent worth considering in more depth. From Wikipedia:
“The Spanish flu infected 500 million people around the world,[2] or about 27% of the then world population of between 1.8 and 1.9 billion, including people on isolated Pacific islands and in the Arctic. The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million[3] to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.[4][5]
Infectious diseases already limited life expectancy in the early 20th century, but life expectancy in the United States dropped by about 12 years in the first year of the pandemic.[6][7][8] Most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill the very young and the very old, with a higher survival rate for those in between, but the Spanish flu pandemic resulted in a higher than expected mortality rate for young adults.[9]
To maintain morale, wartime censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.[10][11]

Unfortunately, minimizing the true dangers of the Spanish flu did nothing to save thousands of soldiers—military camps were hit especially hard, and returning soldiers were often inadvertent carries of the disease, as well: 500,00 to 675,000 Americans died in that event. To understand a bit better, let’s take a quick look at a chart for this pandemic, set for January 1, 1918 in Washington, D.C.. The dates are given as January 1, 1918 to December, 1920, so this is about as exact as we can be. 

Chart #1: The Spanish Flu Epidemic, January 1, 1918, 12:00 p.m. ST, (no exact time known), Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Sun (Capricorn) conjoins Mercury (Capricorn) and inconjoins Saturn/Neptune (midpoint, Leo). Communications surfaced, revealing “delusions among the leadership…Leaders deceive about the exercise of control…respected persons in questionable practices…a leader capitulates.”[4] Attempts to squelch information about the Spanish flu for the sake of wartime “morale?” Whose morale, we have to wonder? 

T-Square: Pluto conjoins So. Node (Cancer) and opposes No. Node (Capricorn); this axis squares Vesta (Aries). This fits stories I’ve heard that nearly every American household was hit with loss during the 1918 pandemic—another reason we need to avoid complacency today, with Nodal axis again transiting Capricorn-Cancer. Thankfully, Pluto has transited well beyond the So. Node in Capricorn today, but there’s also too much Capricorn energy afloat today to let down our guard.
Mars (Virgo) opposes Chiron-Eris (Pisces). This configuration demanded purposeful, health-centered action in a time of disruptive, collective suffering—certainly a good fit for the situation in 1918, as Europe’s most bloody war was winding down.

The Women's suffrage battle was being waged in the midst of the Spanish flu!

Uranus conjoins Venus-Juno (Aquarius) square Pallas (Scorpio). The U.S. was one short year away from finally giving the vote to women at this point, so we can see the impetus for that cause here. It looks here that the suffragettes’ message was framed as a call for justice (Pallas) for wives (Juno-many widowed by the war), and it’s possible that it resonated more strongly during this terrible period of suffering and disruption. Uranus was strong in its home sign Aquarius, which may also have been a winning factor. Notice that this aspect may have “radicalized” women somewhat – the Roaring Twenties were right around the corner!    

Final thoughts

We started this post by talking about the passive nature of our response to the COVID-19 crisis thus far, and I would only add that there’s been an aggressive edge to that passivity as well. Willfully confusing people, sabotaging the needed response by stoking turf wars between agencies and issuing testing protocols that only make sense if you’re trying to stop testing are Passive Aggression 101, and we might even call it a type of passive tyranny because the American people were basically left hanging, with little control over our own destinies. Exactly the opposite of what we need right now. 

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed an emergency relief package that should help working families get through this crisis while workplaces and schools are shut down—that’s if our passive aggressive Senate can be coerced into cooperating and moving the bill along! The Washington Post offers the best list of details about how this will work that I've seen--click here for more. Also late-breaking news, the Fed has cut interest rates to Zero, to head off the dangers of a recession. Investors don't seem to like the idea (the Market's tanking again today), but at least families or businesses that need to borrow money to make ends meet will have an interest-free lifeline. 

So life will be far from normal for the foreseeable future, but every individual who takes prudent, considerate action gives us reason for hope. Let’s not forget the power of cultivating a positive, loving collective mindset in Neptunian times like these. I’m reminded of the following potent words from the Buddhist practice of Metta (loving-kindness)[5]:

“May all beings’ minds be filled with the thought of loving-friendliness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. May they be generous. May they be gentle. May they be grateful. May they be relaxed. May they be happy and peaceful. May they be healthy. May their hearts become soft. May their words be pleasing to others.”
What more can we ask for? – stay safe everyone!

We'll get through this!

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at:

© Raye Robertson 2020. All rights reserved. 

[1]Jane Ridder Patrick, A Handbook of Medical Astrology, 2nd ed., CrabApple Press, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2006, p. 68.
[2]Ibid, p. 48.
[3]Ibid, p. 48.
[4]Michael Munkasey, Midpoints: Unleashing the Power of the Planets, ACS Publications, San Diego, CA, 1991, pp. 292-93.
[5]Bhante Gunaratana, Loving-Kindness in Plain English: the Practice of Metta. Wisdom Publications, Somerville, MA, 2017, p. 17.