[Cover Photo: the author with his Aunt Betty, 2011]
I had made it all the way through 2020 without personally knowing anyone infected during the coronavirus pandemic. Until New Year’s Eve, the last day of the year, when my cousin called to tell me that her 90-year-old mother had been hospitalized with COVID pneumonia. Aunt Betty was my mother’s sister, and had been a fixture of my childhood and an integral part of my family festivities for decades, until a hip fracture resulted in her moving in with her daughter nine years ago. This disrupted our seasonal celebratory cycle, and I have only seen her sporadically since then.
We always had a good relationship, if not overly close, but respectful and convivial, and for my part, I always looked forward to spending time with her. After my grandmother moved into an apartment in 1979, Betty took up the slack and hosted the clan for Memorial Day picnics, Thanksgiving and New Year’s dinners; family dinners out for birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were invariably spent with her. Aunt Betty taught me how to make the family New Year’s traditional entrée – pig stomach! (Don’t go all aghast on me, it’s a PA Dutch classic, and you don’t have to eat the stomach itself if you don’t want to, it’s simply a holder for the stuffing, like a sausage casing, but more substantial.) I had actually just finished stuffing the 2021 version when the phone rang with the news.
As of this writing, I don’t know the outcome, nor do we yet have results on the tests taken by her daughter and the rest of her family, but I wanted to take a look at Aunt Betty’s chart, and transits for the day of diagnosis, to see what I could see.
Born Betty Jane Werkheiser, at her parents’ home in Nazareth, Pennsylvania on 14 January 1930, Aunt Betty has one of those indomitable Pluto in Cancer charts, like her sister. Where mom had the Sun conjunct Pluto, Betty has it opposed, from 23 Capricorn to 18 Cancer. Mom’s steely determination showed itself in stoically weathering decades of debilitating illness, to which she finally succumbed at age 78; Betty’s showed in her longevity. They both had wills of iron, but my mother, as the more sensitive Cancer native, took things on the chin rougher, at least outwardly, than her more hard-bitten Capricorn sister.
At age 18, Betty scandalized her community by marrying a divorced ex-sailor 13 years her elder; the local Church of the Nazarene minister was so offended he refused to perform the ceremony, so the bride-to-be and her proposed groom went church-shopping, and thus Aunt Betty was never a part of my endless religious life as a child. Betty didn’t give up her faith, however, just its delivery system; she remained active in the church and became organist at a less severe congregation of the same denomination in nearby Easton, a post she held for decades. The Sun conjoins Venus at 18 Capricorn, traditional ruler of music, which is sesquiquadrate Jupiter at 6 Gemini, ruler of houses of worship, so “church organist” fits the bill there rather nicely.
Asteroid Betti (alternate selling of Betty) at 16 Taurus is trine the Sun, and stationary, having turned direct on January 2nd, and still at its station degree. Having one’s own PNA (Personal-Named Asteroid) in aspect to the Sun, Moon, Mercury or Ascendant is extremely common. Also at station is asteroid Lorraine, my mother’s name, which at 9 Virgo turned direct a day prior, on New Year’s Day. Lorraine was the younger sister, not yet thought of, so seeing her represented so powerfully in Aunt Betty’s chart is quite remarkable.
Their parents were Paul and Mildred (Wimmer) Werkheiser; asteroids Paul and Mildred appear united at the same degree, 6 Sagittarius, in semisquare to the Sun, more than appropriate for the pair whose union caused Betty to be. Husband John Weiss appears as asteroid Johney, conjoined Betti from 13 Taurus (it had stationed direct December 31st, but a degree earlier) and asteroid Weissman, closest to Weiss, which opposes Betti and Johney from 20 Scorpio. Additionally, the Johney/Betti conjunction is sextile to asteroid Hera at 14 Cancer, named for the Greek goddess of marriage, while asteroid Johnny, another variant of “John” (for which there is no exact asteroid match), appears at 29 Sagittarius, conjoined Saturn at 5 Capricorn, the planetary ruler of husbands.
There is one more stationary point in my Aunt Betty’s chart – asteroid Koronis, our celestial referent for the coronavirus. At 16 Virgo, Koronis turned retrograde just four days prior to Betty’s birth, and is in a Grand Trine Kite pattern with Betti (which it trines exactly) and the Sun/Pluto axis. Unfortunately, that’s not all Koronis does; it is also tied to no less than five death indicators, besides Pluto. Koronis is squared asteroid Requiem at 12 Sagittarius (named for the funeral mass for the dead); trine asteroids Anubis at 13 Capricorn and Atropos at 19 Capricorn (named respectively for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites and the mythic Greek Fate who severs the tread of life at death); and opposed asteroids Rip (which functions as the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription) and Lachesis (named for the Fate who determines the span of life) at 23 and 26 Pisces. This combination gives COVID-19, which wouldn’t even exist for ninety years after Betty’s birth, pride-of-place in the natal chart for a likely cause of death.
As I noted earlier, we’re still uncertain how this will play out; Betty is being treated with Remdesivir and blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, but her age is against her, and the astrologic timing of the diagnosis is far from encouraging.
A more attentive astrologer nephew than I might have taken a look at this aunt’s transits for 2020, then explained, gently, that it would be a good time to put her affairs in order. Pluto has been transiting her 23 Capricorn Sun for two years, and made its retrograde station in April 2020 at 24 Cap, one degree past the natal Sun, with the backhand station direct in October at 22 Cap, one degree shy. This is an extremely likely window for a passing, given age and circumstance.
Then, too, 2020 eclipses have been problematic. The Lunar Eclipse of 5 June at 15 Sagittarius conjoined natal Requiem and squared natal Koronis; the following LE (there were two that summer) on July 5 at 13 Capricorn conjoined natal Anubis exactly. The final Lunar Eclipse of the year on November 30 at 8 Gemini conjoined Jupiter (often active in passing charts as a symbol of the “final journey”) and exactly opposed natal asteroid Nemesis at 8 Sagittarius, a point relating to ruin and destruction, also opposing natal Requiem, but was wide of the square to Koronis. And the Solar Eclipse of 14 December 2020 at 23 Sagittarius squared natal Rip exactly, also squared Lachesis, as well as forming a T-Square with an opposition to natal asteroid Werkmeister (closest to maiden surname of Werkheiser) at 25 Gemini.
Transits in effect for the COVID diagnosis on December 31st include Betti at 11 Capricorn opposing the 9 Cap Sun, putting her into focus for the timeframe. Betti is retreating from natal Pluto at 18 Cancer, exactly where it made its retrograde station on November 18th, another obvious sign of pending mortality, with Pluto the modern lord of death. A solar spotlight by transit is a two-edged sword – it is often positive, but just as frequently brings bad news. All that can be said for certain is that the native is highlighted in some way.
Transit asteroid Weissman at 23 Libra is closely squaring transit Pluto at 24 Capricorn, and still within orb of its square to natal Atropos at 19 Cap (as well as the 23 Cap Sun), while opposing transit Koronis with Mars at 19 and 26 Aries, forming a T-Square. It is also trine a transit Damocles/Rip conjunction at 24 and 27 Aquarius, foretelling a looming disaster related to death, with Rip exactly conjoined natal asteroid Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead. Transit Osiris at 8 Aquarius is exactly semisquare natal Rip at 23 Pisces. The dual Rip/Osiris contacts reinforce each other, the sum being greater than the parts.
Transit Venus and Neptune are exactly squared from 18 Sagittarius and Pisces, speaking to a hospitalization (Neptune) for a female (Venus); their T-Square with natal Koronis at 16 Virgo indicates the cause of admittance. Transit asteroid Nemesis at 23 Scorpio had recently conjoined natal Weissman at 20 Scorpio, also squared by Damocles/Rip. Transit Requiem at 6 Aries squares natal Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 5 Capricorn.
No, it’s certainly not looking good for Aunt Betty; the preponderance of activations to death indicators isn’t insurmountable, and if anyone can beat these odds, it’s a Sun/Pluto native. But the cards are stacked against her; for now, she’s holding her own.
Aunt Betty is the last living holdout of the generation of my mother’s family that came before me, a bond with my childhood that I fear will shortly be cut. I miss her already.
ADDENDUM: 8 January 2021
My Aunt Betty passed away yesterday, January 7th, at 11:45 AM. Thanks to all who offered their prayers and well wishes for her and our family. COVID will prevent a proper funeral at this time; I will be attending a small graveside service, date not yet determined, with perhaps a memorial to follow when things return to normal.
The chart for her passing shows 22 Aries Rising, squared her 23 Capricorn Sun and transit Pluto at 24 Capricorn; MC at 12 Capricorn conjoins natal Anubis at 13 Cap. The Sun at 17 Capricorn opposes natal Pluto at 18 Cancer. Transit asteroid Betti at 9 Cancer still opposes the transit Sun and natal Anubis, and conjoins the IC at 12 Cancer. Transit asteroid Weissman at 26 Libra squares her natal Sun and transit Pluto.