Today at around 6pm my heart swooped down into a profound trough of bleakness. I felt alone, disconnected and disillusioned with myself and separated from those I love. It was a profound feeling, like being attacked by a Dementor (as it turned out, I happened to re-watch later the Harry Potter film Order of the Pheonix where Harry and Dudley are attacked by Dementors who suck the life force out of them until they are dispelled (pun intended!) by Harry’s Patronus spell). I state this because at the time it happened I looked up the current transits and the Sun and Neptune were right on the descendant conjunct my Chiron in Pisces and squaring my Sun. It took me 15 minutes or so to regain my equilibrium and recognise it as like a nightmare that I was slowly waking from. Yet my point is to illustrate that these emotions and reactions are like a programme playing out very precisely. We are finely tuned receivers. Mostly we are unaware we are receivers. We assume ourselves to be autonomous creators. It is not unusual now for me to see planets on the descendant when events are being triggered – I can even predict reasonably accurately, before opening my astrology app, what planets or signs might be on the angles of the chart.
Harry Potter dispelling the Patronus was symbolic of the entire story arc of the film. At first Harry is disbelieved and ridiculed and falsely accused – like being attacked by a dementor – but by the end, while deeply grieved by the loss of his godfather Sirius, he has overcome the obstacles and fear surrounding him and in himself. And so to Coronavirus. People are increasingly speculating on what the meaning of Coronavirus might be for humanity – and I am no different, I love to speculate philosophically. However, I am less concerned with what it is teaching us morally (somewhat unusual for me, I know) but rather with what the actual consequences of coronavirus are and might be.
I can’t help feeling if, like Harry Potter being attacked by a Dementor, we have fallen prey to a sense of bleakness and fear which has collectively sucked the Life out of us and left us awash with fear? However, the interesting point is how we react to this collective fear of death and illness that the current situation is creating and more importantly, what might it be manipulating us into seeing about ourselves?
I am now going to connect a series of events and insights to try and put together a picture of what might be happening – bear with me, I have the Sun rising in Sagittarius with Mercury in Sagittarius too and Jupiter in Gemini ruling it all so it is pretty much impossible for me to cut to the chase without taking you through the disparate elements and their connection!
My first point relates to the virus itself. Is it any more dangerous than any flu virus that has preceded it? The answer is that we do not really know. According to estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) 290,000 to 650,000 die from flu each year (as of 2017) . In this context, 12,944 deaths (WHO 22/3/2020) from Coronavirus (a type of flu) does not seem that unusual. No-one seems to know precisely whether it is a huge threat or not, there are many opinions but we simply don’t know yet. So, the more interesting point here for me is not that Coronavirus is necessarily a greater threat to humanity than anything in previous years but importantly, we feel more threatened. This strikes me as a continuation of a process that has been going on for some time, where we “feel” under threat – like we are living in dangerous times. Many people point to the idea that we are living in VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) times. Yet, if we look back, when were times not Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous? During the cold war with the threat of nuclear destruction? During the world wars? Before modern medicine when diseases like TB, Smallpox and Cholera were rife and infant mortality high? Certainly compared to the World Wars and living with the threat of something like the black death these feel like pretty comfortable times!
So, it is not the circumstances that lead to our feelings or perception about the time. If this is true then it pushes us back to look at how our own minds are operating and in particular what is influencing our collective mind? A few days ago, my friend David sent through a fascinating email about the origin of the word Influenza:
Much of my understanding of how our personal minds work is based on the recognition that our brains operate much more as receivers – akin to a mobile phone. We all understand that mobile phones receive signals (waves) that we cannot see which they convert into symbolic representations through pixels (such as apps, people’s faces etc.). We know (if asked) that these are not real; when we see someone’s face on our screen via facetime or skype we do not think they have been shrunk and are in our mobile phone. Yet, we relate to them very much as real – we talk to the person as if they are real even though they are not actually there. It appears to be the same with our brains. They are like receivers for a cosmic or collective field and they create or project a 3D symbolic reality which we treat as very real. When we are in the grip of emotions (or cosmic influences) they seem to us to be very real (like my early swooping despair example). It takes real presence of mind and hard work not to identify with these emotions (or influences). Yet, when we reflect back on our state of mind later, it looks so clear that we were not quite in our “right mind” – that we had lost a broader perspective. The fact that we can look back and see people and situations very differently suggests that our perceptions might not be quite as “real” or solid as we think they are. They are much more influenced by the receiver than we suppose.
At the moment, we are under an influence from the stars – a large conjunction of planets in Capricorn with a sextile (a positive connection) to Neptune in Pisces. Capricorn rules death, limitations, governments, control, protective defences and fear. It also rules work, structures and society. So we find ourselves in a global lockdown, restricted and distanced from others and limited to our homes (Capricorn opposes Cancer, the sign which rules the home). At the same time there is a positive connection to Neptune so there is a sense of oneness, singing to each other and selfless spirit of help towards the vulnerable and those in need.
We are in a period of enforced meditation or reflection, blocked from our normal structures of life. These are the conditions for great breakthroughs and changes in our mindset or frame of reference. We know that in our personal lives, crises precede breakthroughs, insights and new ways of being. The current crisis is like these personal rebirths – the world is never the same again. It is rarely that we would choose such periods of change or the difficulties that come with them; it is often only afterwards that we see the meaning of what has happened or the value of the changes that it brought.
My experience of life is that it often employs a “cunning wisdom” to get us to change – none of us would willingly step out of our comfort zone. I don’t think any of us would have chosen the current situation. However, I see many now who are excited by the possibilities it presents to step back from their normal approach and I think this might be part of the point of the current crisis, namely that we are being forced to re-evaluate our priorities and our current focus on work and money. At the same time, I think that there is another subtler manipulation taking place through these influences. I have noticed through the course of my work as a coach and facilitator, a distinct process of change going on in the way people work and the way work is organised. For most of us now, the majority of work is done with people that we are not in direct physical contact with. Meetings with personal bank managers, or even trips to the bank are fast becoming a relic of the past. Similarly, even if we are old and have not joined the modern world, we talk to vast call centres often in different countries. The structure of our lives contains more and more that is not about direct physical contact with people.
We have all been pulled into a virtual, online world whether we like it or not. Many I have spoken to have not been happy about having to load zoom or webex on to their computers and connect virtually, yet at the same time it has create a profound change. Combine this with an environmental crisis which sees travel as the route of destruction of the earth and you see an astonishingly brilliant piece of cunning wisdom and manipulation. We are caught in a perfect pincer movement to get us to fundamentally change the way we work and organise. Individuals, companies and organisations who would never have dreamt of operating through video-conferencing are being forced by necessity to attempt the approach and they are realising it is possible. Individuals who would never have dreamt of spending their whole working time at home are forced to do so too. Even if we go back in a few weeks or months time the world will not be the same again. It is an acceleration of a process to force us online and into a virtual world. Stroud Farmers’ market locally to me, friends running workshops with the express intent of personal connection and retreat are all being forced on line and realising they can do it and it works. At a personal level, I have just finished a zoom call with someone in a charity I work with where we were contemplating running training via Zoom and experimenting together with how to present slides etc. We both suddenly saw the potential for it transforming some of our training. At the same time she was describing an earlier first meeting of the charity team where people attended in their dressing gowns, eating their breakfast and she commented on my unshaven state. This linked into another theme I had picked up about our normal Capricornian structures for work being undermined. It came from a conversation with a client at Louis Vuitton in Shanghai. I had been a facilitator for a Leadership training programme she attended in London and as part of this we had visited Thomas Pink’s new factory in the heart of London where they were moving the business away from mass retail of shirts to bespoke tailoring. She mentioned in the call that LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) were selling off Thomas Pink and she said that at the training all those from Asia had been surprised by the strategy and the targeting of the Asian market. I asked her why and she explained that nobody in Asia really wore formal shirts to work anymore. At the same time, I had noticed in the last few years that all my clients had stopped wearing suits and ties had become relics of the past. Whereas ten years ago, I had looked slightly unusual in my unwillingness to wear a tie, in the last few years, I suddenly realised I needed a new wardrobe as wearing a suit had become outmoded.
It is the same with children and education. Once freed from the straight-jacket of physical school will it ever fully return? The seed has been sown for an understanding that there is a different way and (to mix my metaphors) I don’t think we will be able to put the genie back in the bottle on any of these things.
Before the Coronavirus phenomenon took place, my son and I attempted to open a joint bank account for the business we were starting. Frustrated by the online process which promised so much but delivered nothing that would work for us we decided to resort to going into town and into the branch to see someone face to face to open the account and we were very surprised when we were told that we could only open an account online. The resulting 6 weeks later without a functioning account was a painful process involving call centres that never answered, interminable phone options and having to redo the process because of one small mistake. It is not that much of the shift online is efficient or works well – far from it – but without us all doing the work of being forced to go through these problems, the technology and understanding would not evolve. Last night my friends had a date to explore the new online Guggenheim museum together but only because they had been isolated for a week already. We are changing so much but because it is happening day by day we do not really contemplate the scale unless we look back. Just twenty-five years ago, all this would have seemed bizarre. Certainly to someone living fifty years ago it would have seemed the stuff of science fiction.
With the move to the age of Pisces and Christ as the seed point for the age, we learnt to understand that we were all one and about the nature of unconditional love. Our learning still goes on in this regard, but we are now building on that through the Age of Aquarius by utilsing the virtual world and structure and, I think, to put this into practice with people we are not physically present with. It is hard work and we are all slowly learning how to interact by email, by Video-Conference by phone without it being impersonal or misinterpreting each other. I suspect that this is the seed point of the Age of Aquarius-Leo as we move towards the virtual world being a reflection of and indistinguishable from our physical world. The scale of this change is enormous and the acceleration at the moment is also much greater than we think. It might have taken us many years to achieve the changes that are taking place overnight.
It is significant from an astrological point of view that Mars is involved. Mars is exalted in Capricorn and being faster moving and initiatory of the new or change, it is acting as a trigger for these underlying Pluto in Capricorn changes to our structure. With Jupiter there as well, it is being inflated and expanded very rapidly on a huge scale. On one level it looks like infection,virus and limitation – which it is – at another level, it is a fundamental change to the structure of the way we work and organise our society.
At the same time the sextile to Neptune in Pisces allows us to gain a glimpse of the positive possibilities of this change – that we can connect with love and heart in a personal way through this changing structure. For the last few years we have been using the internet to polarise and criticise each other in a negative and destructive way over Brexit, Trump etc. yet now we are using it to connect kindly and come together. I have clients and friends sending each other jokes, messages of support and love and around the world people are singing to each other and supporting each other in their local communities through groups and individual acts. Even the governments are putting plans in place to support people and have compassion for the hardships. Who would have envisaged this even a few short months ago?
At the same time, we are seeing that there are more important things to build our society on than simple material wealth and the pursuit of it. It is like we are undergoing an enforced meditation; a possibility to reconnect. It is highly probable that this will pass and maybe just as quickly as it erupted and we will go back to many of our normal habits but I think the seed of change will remain and grow as it has already been doing for many years. Pluto’s movement through Capricorn has fundamentally changed the nature of work and the way we organise ourselves and opened the door for a new structure of connection globally.
One other area that this is bringing us face to face with is our approach to death (A very Pluto in Capricorn subject!). For many years we have been divorcing ourselves further and further from the reality of death. In the current environment it feels a very present threat to everyone. Yet, when we contemplate the figures for flu’ each year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there are 290,000 to 650,000 deaths globally from flu’ each year (as of 2017). A very large proportion of those dying from the coronavirus are in their 80s or older. In our present society, we have extended the lifespan of our bodies way beyond that of previous generations. How do we now die? My father is in his mid 80s and whilst his body continues (at the same time as it deteriorates rapidly and he is no longer able to walk) he wants desperately to go. My mother and sister and I know it will be a blessing for him to go. An illness which now released him would be a kindness. Flu used to be called the old man’s friend. Death is an ever present and Life feeds on death. This is Pluto’s truth. How could we have spring without Autumn and Winter? It is fine for us to grieve and have compassion and certainly the mad way that we have ignored illness and continued to work through it as a social norm without consideration for spreading the disease to others (particularly the more vulnerable) might well be in need of revision but to think that we can overcome or defeat or hold back death is like thinking we can hold back the waves at the sea. Don Juan in the Carlos Castaneda books talks about “consulting death” as an approach to keep our perspective and our self-importance in check. Indeed in Greek tragedy, the source of tragedy always lay in the hubris of the hero who thought they could escape or cheat fate, who believed in their own power and agency beyond the limits of nature and life. These events have been a rude but valuable awakening to the limits (Capricorn) of our powers (Pluto). We like to think that we are so powerful and so able to control the world and our lives and yet, one small virus from Life has demonstrated the limits of our power and knowledge and our dependence on the Universe. It is a touch on the tiller to remind us. At the same time, when we see our vulnerability in the face of Life it brings out the best in us – our common humanity and our compassion.
A few final thoughts on this. In Genesis we ate from the apple of knowledge and we were thrown out of the garden of Eden. We moved from innocent ignorance to awareness and suddenly we had to face reality and to work and use our newly found free will. Whenever we are aware (Uranus) we are also responsible (Saturn). I realised recently that the Matrix is a retelling of this story for modern times. We take the red pill and we come out of the matrix and see the disillusioning reality of Life and then we cannot go back. We are no longer identified with the matrix. It seems a very apt metaphor for the modern world and our understanding now about the nature of our inter-connectedness. It revolves around seeing reality (Pluto in Capricorn) and being disillusioned (Neptune in Pisces). At the same time, we see the limits of our bodies and the possibilities of transcending them (Uranus in Taurus). We also see the cosmic interconnected field of the earth (Uranus in Taurus). A recent video I watched by Dr Thomas Cowan on the link between flu epidemics and technological breakthroughs – the beginning of radio waves and six months later the spanish flu epidemic etc. up to the modern day and the correlation between 5G in Wuhan and South Korea and the Coronavirus raises interesting connections – are they correlated in a causal way? Who knows? I am not about to jump on this, however, it is a possibility that they are. I certainly do not subscribe to the general view in all these things that we are somehow getting it all wrong and being punished or that we have to go back to some imaginary previous golden age before we messed it all up. Every generation seems to feel that the next generation is going to hell in a handcart because of their technological breakthroughs. As far as I can see, if this theory about new radiation waves creating viruses is true then we have adapted to each change/virus but perhaps more interestingly what it raises for me is further clues to the real nature of our world and reality. A recent experiment (https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/08/these-scientists-took-over-a-computer-by-encoding-malware-in-dna/536361/) demonstrated that it was possible to introduce a computer virus into physical DNA and take over a computer by doing so. The boundaries between the virtual world and our real world are getting more and more fuzzy and this may well be because there aren’t any boundaries because both are describing the same thing. Perhaps with the current virus what we are being given the possibility to see is that DNA is computer code?
The German philosopher and mathematician Leibniz invented the binary system based on his discovery of and respect for the I-Ching with its concept of the binary nature of Life – yin and yang. The scientists who introduced a virus into physical DNA did so based on the idea of the four building blocks of DNA (Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G) and Thymine (T)) being associated with ones and zeros. It is like we are being teased and manipulated into consciousness and learning. We may never get to a full understanding but we are always progressing in our models for understanding Life. We have a chance at each stage to play it unconsciously and take it all as real or to peak behind the curtain – to take the red pill or the blue pill in Matrix parlance. It strikes me that in this instance, we have the opportunity to model and understand the real nature of viruses and their role in the brilliance of Life rather than treat them with collective fear and anxiety. But also to recognise that we are being manipulated through our fear and anxiety into expanding our awareness and understanding. Can we, as Ram Dass used to put it, be “in the world but not of it”. Can we stand back to appreciate the sheer brilliance of what we are part of and have a sense of awe at how amazingly it is constructed to prompt us to consciousness? Can we do this at a collective level? We seem now to be moving to a position where we are local fields of awareness in a global field of consciousness and we are building the technology to represent and understand this – individual consciousnesses but part of one consciousness – we don’t need to move to connect to the whole world. Wow!