Saturn in Aquarius
Dear Friend and Reader:
First, a reality check.
This has all happened so fast. One astrological time marker is before and after Mercury retrograde, which was Feb. 16 through March 9. On either side of that three-week span are two different worlds. Two different continents of history.
The famous Spanish Steps in Rome are usually mobbed. Now, it's illegal to be there. New York Times photo.
For some context, Pres. Trump was acquitted by the Senate in an impeachment vote on Feb. 5, just six short weeks ago. At that point, there was an epidemic that seemed largely confined to China. We were being told to wash our hands and not sneeze on people. That was it.
Now, much of the world is under house arrest. Restaurants, cafes, theaters, sporting events, entire leagues, concerts, festivals around the world — all canceled. Just like that. School districts in nearly every state are shut down. Colleges and universities are closed to people, and are teaching online. In one month, we have rewritten the entire social fabric of every society.
All borders are closed nearly everywhere. The United States has told its citizens abroad to come home, or to stay put. Financial markets have lost more than a third of their value. Investors are dumping gold to raise cash. Airlines are expected to be bankrupt by May. So will many small businesses. To put it mildly, the entire world has been thrown into turmoil.
The Federal Reserve has cut the prime rate to zero. The U.S. government approved a trillion-dollar bailout/stimulus package on Wednesday. Markets are not responding positively, and these are the two most powerful tools that could get a result.
All of this in a month!
Let's consider some numbers. As of this writing on March 19, there are about 237,000 known cases of testing positive for the "novel coronavirus." There have been just over 10,000 deaths so far. Let's put that in its wider context. Every day, on every normal day, 180,000 people die here on planet Earth, from all causes. Since the impeachment, about 7,920,000 people have died from all other causes. Perhaps more notably, as of this writing, 17.5 million people were born in 2020.
I understand there are reasons to be concerned; the main one is the epidemiological curve. But let's just at least consider the most basic data. A shade over one-tenth of one percent (0.12%) of total deaths since Feb. 5 were from COVID-19 disease. Yet the global economy has crashed and is spiraling into a depression. That is the incredible thing.
Many countries are affected. This map of the United States, with numbers for March 19, shows how rapidly a virus can spread from coast to coast, and explode in epicenters here and everywhere.
Lack of Basic Preparation
What is panicking the medical profession (and apparently market traders) is not the number of deaths but rather the fact of not enough basic supplies, not enough respirators and beds, and the loss of their own doctors and nurses who keep getting sick because they keep getting exposed.
The scale of the problem is magnified by the fact that we, in every country, are completely unprepared for such an eventuality. This is compounded by the lack of testing, when tests are available and there are industrial laboratories galore. We have no idea who has been exposed and who has not, whether nurses or mail carriers.
So here is what we are to understand: a shortage of hospital beds and basic equipment is the cause of the global economy crashing, and all of us living under world war conditions? Sheltering in place for an indeterminate period of time?
With all the trillions of dollars flooding through financial markets every day, nobody thought to set a little aside to have a system in place to care for people in the event of a pandemic? You would think that one had never happened before.
What is even more vexing is that in the 103 years since the Spanish Flu was first identified in late 1917, medical science is still telling us the same thing: wash your hands, don't sneeze on people, avoid contact. This is the same 103 years where medical science went from shock therapy and the discovery of vitamins, to brain surgery, open-heart surgery, heart and lung transplants, cloning animals and unraveling the human genome.
Stay Home and Wash Your Hands, in 1918 and 2020
And after that same century, all medical authorities can do is tell us to stay home, learn how to cough properly, and wash our hands? They have no other solution, no other remedy, no other cure, no other preventive? What am I missing here? I guess I could watch the rerun of the Hindenburg bursting into flames and crashing for a clue.
Despite a century of medical advances, not much has changed since 1918.
Of note, homeopaths and herbalists know how to handle this problem, but most people think those medical arts are on the level of sorcery. Those who do not, who are new to these methods, need guidance, which is not readily available because the practitioners have been marginalized.
Meanwhile, how long are we supposed to stay inside for? From what I understand, the moment people are told it's OK to go out and socialize (which many are doing anyway), the problem of rapid transmission will come right back.
According to everything I've been reading, what social isolation does is level out the initial growth curve, which eases the rush on the health system, but also means extending the duration of the problem. There may be an effect of reducing the total number of infections, though that's one of many uncertainties we're facing.
We are told a vaccine is 18 months off. The fantasy of an AI-aided development process that could happen much faster denies the need for human safety testing. We learned this week there is a malaria drug that may be effective for coronavirus -- this is apparently established science. Trump has directed the FDA to look into this. I read today that Bayer has donated 3 million of the pills.
A guy named Matt works on my guitars down in New York City. The other day I called him up to say hello, and get his point of view. He said, "I understand what they're doing. I don't understand what they're going to do next."
As for Saturn
We arrive at vernal equinox tonight. The Sun enters Aries amidst much other concentrated peak activity. I've written a lot about this
. Let's stick to Saturn in Aquarius, which last occurred from early 1991 through early 1994. Saturn enters Aquarius on Saturday, March 21. It retrogrades back into Capricorn on July 1, and returns to Aquarius to stay on Dec. 17. That's followed four days later, on the solstice, by the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in the first degree of Aquarius.
Saturn’s brief foray into Aquarius is a new factor. It’s the one we have not experienced yet. This time frame of March 21 through July 1 represents a crucial test for how humanity responds. Will we adopt this new idea of Saturn and of Aquarius, and do what we need to do?
From ancient astrology, we know that Aquarius is Saturn's preferred sign -- it's the "day side" (diurnal) of Saturn rather than the "night side" (nocturnal) which is Capricorn. Saturn in its diurnal expression is where we get the self-authority, the independence, the maturity, and the collaborative qualities it's associated with. Saturn in Capricorn is where we see more of the authority issues and family dramas.
Saturn's rings seen from Cassini Space Probe.
Aquarius is the sign of groups, and of patterns. Mostly those are human patterns, though when something like electricity and then the internet can wrap the globe and take over life instantaneously, that's when you know Aquarius is happening. These patterns seem extremely difficult to shift.
Think of the world rushing toward irreversible global warming, and nobody can do anything much of real value to slow down the economic forces that are leading us there.
Cars and airplanes dumping millions of tons of carbon into the environment, so many cell phones and chargers manufactured as to dwarf Mount Rainier, the take-out packaging used every day requiring enough paper to clear a good-sized forest.
Now much of that economy is shut down. The airplanes are sitting on the ground. The highways are eerily empty. Restaurants and theaters and just about everything except food stores are closed. Could anyone have imagined what it would take to shift these seemingly intractable patterns?
A minor planet called Pholus was involved in precipitating the events. That's the centaur with the small cause and the big effect
. It's the one that describes the runaway reaction
Pholus describes the cause. Saturn describes the effect, which will largely be on the social and economic patterns of society -- very much an Aquarian thing.
Before I talk about the positive effects of these events, I want to acknowledge that we don't know how we got here, really. We don't know what this "coronavirus" is. In fact the origin cannot be traced to a market in Wuhan, China. I interviewed a wildlife pathologist last night
(with whom I've had a reporting relationship since 1991), and he said, yes, it can happen, and sooner or later it will. But these events cannot be traced to the market.
We don't know if all we are witnessing is manipulated, or the result of a biowarfare error, or an intentional act. I am certain of absolutely nothing, except what I'm witnessing. All we know is that something (we are not sure what) has happened, and that it is happening, and happening very, very fast.
This Will Change us, and Change the Future
As we go through this experience as a world and as a society, we will change, and the world will change. It's happening before our eyes, and the alterations have
only just begun. We are seeing and directly experiencing events we've never witnessed in our lifetimes.
First, we are dealing with a problem that is an immediate global threat. This will require the nations of the world, and their leaders, to work together. Many of the greatest economies in the world have been dominated by military spending and the arms trade. The United States in particular has invested vast fortunes into bombing people. Maybe we will reevaluate this disgraceful national policy, which many of our citizens have supported.
Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
Individual people are now being called into service to solve a global problem. We all must take action and make sacrifices. This is truly unusual state of affairs for the Western world.
It's true that some individuals are blowing off the problem like it's no big deal. Yet I think most of the world is, in fact, responding to some degree.
We are seeing in real time the results of greed and the use of the health care and pharmaceutical industries as profit centers. Squeezing every penny out of the sick and dying leaves the health system unprepared for its actual purpose, which is taking care of people. We have, till now, been living through a largely unquestioned political obsession with denying healthcare to less privileged people. We will now get to evaluate the effects of this policy on everyone.
On the personal level, one of the most important things that's in flux is how we relate to one another, which will reach into all relationships and the most fundamental of values. After years of meeting virtually, we're now being told we cannot get together or even be near one another. We are actually being told we cannot breathe the same air
I wonder if months of isolation will change the way we view companionship. Maybe we will appreciate people a little more, rather than swiping left, ghosting or blocking them.
A great many people are now being forced to stay home. This will have many effects, one of which is retrieving that thing known as the family. It will also compel people to confront themselves inwardly. Yes, the internet may be a distraction from that, though for most people, that will get boring fast. People will need to read books, play long-forgotten musical instruments, make art, and have actual conversations on the phone.
We're going to need to learn how to take care of one another. The value of "every man for himself" is no longer going to work now. The ethic that must prevail here is taking care of ourselves so we can take care of one another. Some will learn it more easily than others; many people will take a step. One underlying issue with this pandemic is a lack of proper self-care. People with strong immune systems are in a much better position than those with weak ones. Smokers face a special risk of infection progressing into serious disease.
We're going to learn how to conserve resources rather than waste them mindlessly. We can no longer afford to waste 40% of food or more. Many people will learn how to appreciate having any food at all.
The events we are witnessing are an intervention in history, which came right at the moment when we figured out that our political system could not enforce its laws, and that governments
and industrial corporations would destroy the environment to turn an extra profit, and right when we were about to give up.
All from a little virus, one micron wide.
Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Sunday and Thursday evening in Kingston, New York, Planet Waves, Inc. Core Community membership: $197/year. Editor & Publisher: Eric F. Coppolino. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Associate Editor: Amy Elliott. Assistant Editor: Joshua Halinen. Client Services: Victoria Emory. Illustrator: Lanvi Nguyen. Finance: Andrew Slater. Archivist: Morgan Francis. Technical Assistants: Emily Thing, Cate Ryzhenko. Proofreading: Jessica Keet. Media Consultant: Andrew McLuhan. Music Director: Daniel Sternstein. Bass and Drums: Daniel Grimsland. Additional Music: Zeljko. Additional Research, Writing and Opinions: Samuel Dean, Yuko Katori, Amanda Painter, Cindy Tice Ragusa and Carol van Strum.
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