Now affecting every corner of the globe except Antarctica, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic threatens to destabilize governments and sow economic chaos for months, even years to come. Across the planet, cities, provinces, even entire countries are on lockdown, with businesses shuttered and citizens told to “shelter in place”, ultimately restricted to house arrest except for essential errands for food, medicine, gas and assistance to dependent family members. A death toll count is pointless; even at the speed of internet publication, such figures are immediately outdated, but as of March 18th, global casualties approach 10,000. Millions are likely to follow.
Government response in most countries has been slow, not least in the US, where a coronavirus test proffered by the WHO (World Health Organization) in the early weeks of the virus was refused, and widespread, universally available testing remains a dream. Hospitals and medical facilities are unprepared for the scale of the coming health tsunami, with insufficient ICU beds, ventilators, and safety supplies; inadequate protection for healthcare workers ensures a growing pool of vitally needed first responders who are themselves sidelined by infection.
With schools closed, nonessential businesses asked to shut down, concerts and sporting events cancelled or rescheduled, movie theatres darkened and release dates postponed, restaurants limited to take-out or delivery only, and employees working from home whenever possible, the economy is grinding to a halt, certain to lead to a recession as great, likely greater, than in 2008. Financial markets are in meltdown, with the Dow shedding a third of its value in little more than a week. Fittingly, this drop has wiped out every cent of the gains made during the Trump presidency.
Where are we headed? “Nowhere good” is all we can say for certain. I thought now might be a good time, as we prepare to plunge into the depths, to review what we know astrologically, to glean a sense of where we are, and what we’re facing.
At the time the coronavirus was first isolated and identified by the Chinese government on January 7, 2020, I analyzed that chart, but failed to put it fully into the context of the times. Upon reflection, I now realize how significant was the juxtaposition of that date with the precise Saturn/Pluto conjunction just 5 days later. As with the discovery and naming of a planet, events which cluster about major planetary configurations tend to illustrate the themes of that interaction. And one baseline interpretation of Saturn combined with Pluto is “major, transformative (Pluto) structural change (Saturn).”
The world is certainly experiencing that, with the effects exacerbated by the conjunction occurring in Capricorn, Sign of business and government. In the US the shift from an industrial, manufacturing economy to a digital, service-based one was already well underway, but coronavirus has likely put the final nail in the coffin of brick-and-mortar retail. Malls, already under intense pressure from online mega-retailers such as Amazon.com, are probably a thing of the past. Many “big box” stores may rebound, but more and more of their business will be focused on “click and deliver”. Smaller “Mom and Pop” stores are apt to become a thing of the past, unable to recoup the financial losses of this protracted shutdown; once they close their doors in compliance with governmental strictures, most will never open again.
Keeping people alive and the economy afloat, albeit severely wounded, will be government’s greatest task, and already a trillion dollar aid package has been passed in the US Congress, with another to follow shortly and a third being planned. Even this will not be enough to turn the economic tide, but hopefully may avert total disaster for many struggling families and individuals. A major revision of business and government was foreshadowed for astrologers by the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, but few if any anticipated the means the cosmos would use to effect its ends. Consideration of Saturn and Pluto’s roles as the ancient and modern lords of death might have provided a clue.
For death is the underlying threat of the pandemic, which may ultimately be more lethal than common influenza by as much as a factor of thirty. So let’s review what the discovery chart says about mortality.
January 7th “just happened” to be the day when asteroids Apollo and Koronis came together in a union at 15 Aquarius which “birthed” the coronavirus, or at least its identification. Koronis is the asteroid whose name most closely approximates the virus, while Apollo, among his many attributes, was known to the ancient Greeks as the bringer of plague. These two are no strangers; they have a mythic backstory as tragic lovers, and their current union opposed asteroid China at 8 Leo identified the birthplace of their new “child.”
At the time, I also noted the impact of asteroid Wuhan at 29 Sagittarius, named for the city where the virus first emerged, conjoined centaur Pholus at 2 Capricorn, noted for mass casualties, by whatever cause. This led me to believe the outbreak would be a costly one in terms of human life, but perhaps restricted to the Wuhan region in its worst effects. What I failed to appreciate was that Pholus was also semisquare to the Koronis/Apollo paring, indicating that the virus was likely to promote a high mortality rate wherever it was experienced globally, not just at its origin point.
As of this writing (March 19) Italy is poised to surpass the death toll in China, with some 2900 casualties rapidly closing in on China’s 3200. Iran has also been hard hit, with at least 1300 dead, if government statistics can be relied upon. France and Spain have also seen dramatic outbreaks, with nearly 300 dead in France and almost 800 in Spain. Reported deaths in the US stand at 155, with updates hourly.
With this in mind, let’s revisit the discovery chart with PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) representing these global hot spots. Italy is represented by asteroid Italia, which at 2 Libra is sesquiquadrate the Koronis/Apollo conjunction, tapping directly into its energies. There is also an asteroid Roma, for Italy’s capital of Rome, which at 20 Pisces conjoins Neptune at 16, indicating the country’s ineffectual, unfocused initial response to the threat posed by the virus.
Iran is represented by asteroid Irani, which at 16 Capricorn was an exact match for the Sun that day, semisextile Koronis/Apollo and caught up directly in the forming Saturn/Pluto conjunction at 22 Cap. France and Spain are represented by their capitals, Paris and Madrid. Asteroid Paris at 12 Scorpio squares Koronis/Apollo, while asteroid Madrid at 20 Virgo is widely inconjunct, but also at station, turning retrograde four days later, making it an embedded factor in the chart.
The US is represented by asteroid Washingtonia, for its capital of Washington DC, and asteroid America. Washingtonia at 18 Cancer opposes the Sun and Saturn/Pluto, and is inconjunct Koronis/Apollo. Asteroid America at 27 Scorpio does not aspect Koronis/Apollo, but is conjoined Mars at 2 Sagittarius, associated with contagious disease, and in a precise T-Square with asteroid Achilles at 27 Aquarius and a pairing of asteroid Hygeia with TNO Sedna, both at 27 Taurus. Achilles points up our vulnerability and inherent weakness to face the crisis (and rests precisely upon the USA Moon, indicating the threat to the American people), while Hygeia/Sedna points to the way out: Hygeia represents sanitation and personal hygiene (hand-washing and cleansing surfaces!), while one of Sedna’s major themes is isolation (self-quarantine and “social distancing”).
It may be as well to take a look at key players in the crisis; international readers will I hope forgive my emphasis on American charts. The Independence Day chart for the US shows Hygeia at 25 Leo opposed the Moon at 27 Aquarius, with asteroid Nemesis opposed asteroid America from 28 Aries to 27 Libra, aspecting the original polarity by sextile and trine. This shows an inherent linkage between the populace (Moon) of the country (America) and a threat (Nemesis) involving public health (Hygeia). This is an underlying consideration throughout the life of the nation; to speak specifically to the current threat we need to look to Koronis’ natal placement.
At 17 Capricorn, natal Koronis opposes the USA Sun at 13 Cancer and forms a T-Square with Saturn at 14 Libra. This grants Koronis/coronavirus the ability to affect how we see ourselves in our core essence (Sun), as well as the structure of the nation (Saturn), potentially via means which involve restriction, limitation, scarcity or loss, even death (all Saturn). We should note here that the USA Koronis also closely opposes Donald Trump’s natal Nemesis at 16 Cancer, perhaps proving a point of undoing or ruin for the President, as it relates to the national psyche and its view of how the crisis is handled.
This is supported by Donald Trump’s natal Koronis placement at 13 Capricorn, conjoined the nation’s own and doubling down on the effect. The T-Square formed with natal Chiron and Jupiter at 14 and 17 Libra suggests a potential for coronavirus (Koronis) to inflict an incurable wound (Chiron) of a political nature (Jupiter) which results in Trump’s undoing (Nemesis).
Koronis in Trump’s 2019 Solar Return (still in effect until this June) stands at 24 Capricorn, conjunct Saturn, Pluto and asteroid Troemper (our celestial referent for The Donald) at 19, 22 and 25 Cap respectively (identifying Trump personally with the virus and its restrictive, devastating effects), and opposes Mercury and Mars at 14 and 18 Cancer. These last cluster atop Trump’s natal Nemesis, implying that his downfall (Nemesis) is a direct result of his rhetoric (Mercury) about the contagion (Mars). Certainly Trump’s early downplaying of the virus made matters worse, and no amount of revisionist history, with the President now averring that he knew in advance of everyone else this was going to be a serious pandemic, will erase the many soundbites of his prior “happy talk.”
In his upcoming 2020 Solar Return, effective through the general election in November, Koronis appears at 16 Aries, exactly squared natal Nemesis, so the heat won’t be off Trump for quite some time. At the election itself (assuming it isn’t postponed or cancelled), transit Koronis at 20 Aries will still be in orb of the Nemesis square.
And the pressure isn’t released when we look at the Administration charts either. Coronavirus’ pivotal importance to the administration is foretold by asteroid Koronis at 23 Cancer on Inauguration Day 2017, conjoined the IC at 26 Cancer and opposed asteroid Whitehouse at 22 Capricorn, on the 26 Cap MC, in a Grand Cross with Jupiter at 22 Libra and a Uranus/Eris pairing at 20 and 23 Aries. This suggests that coronavirus (Koronis) has the capacity to eat away at the foundation (IC) of the administration (Whitehouse) in a political context (Jupiter), in unexpected ways (Uranus) affecting its reputation (MC), perhaps provoking a rebellion (also Uranus) of the discontented and disaffected populations (Eris) which brought him to power. From 23 Cancer, the administration’s Koronis is also exactly aligned with Trump’s natal Saturn/Karma conjunction: how he performs as leader and head of state (Saturn) will come back to bite him (Karma).
At the administration’s 2020 Solar Return on January 21st, Koronis at 20 Aquarius is traveling with Troemper, Damocles and Achilles at 23, 24 and 29 Aquarius, exposing Trump’s personal (Troemper) weakness and vulnerability (Achilles ) to the doom hanging overhead (Damocles) presented by the coronavirus (Koronis). Saturn and Pluto, fresh from their exact conjunction, are now both at 23 Capricorn, exactly opposing Trump’s natal Saturn/Karma and his administration’s natal Koronis, bringing their considerable combined powers to bear on the White House’s response to the pandemic, and the harvest reaped by Trump’s managerial style.
If there is one bright spot on the horizon (and I can see only one), it could be in Koronis’ transit cycle. It has been speculated that the virus might lessen by August, due to a variety of factors including an acquired “herd immunity” (once a certain percentage of the population has been exposed); a coordinated proper response to its spread; and increased summer temperatures, non-conducive to its viability. And indeed, Koronis in the skies will “back off” at this time, turning retrograde on August 29th, which may afford a brief respite or breathing space before it resumes direct motion on December 3rd, as colder weather again sets in and provides a more hospitable environment for its reproduction.
The scope of our shared vulnerability to this type of threat is truly staggering. In a matter of weeks, the world has been turned upside down, with no end in sight, and no real understanding of the consummate destructive potential of coronavirus to our way of life. And if that doesn’t say “Saturn/Pluto”, I don’t know what does.