The Astrology of the Viral Pandemic — Part 1

Astrology, Politics, and History:

An Astrological Perspective on the Viral Outbreak – Part I

                  Tim Lyons —; 720-338-3658

This link will take you to a video presentation of some of the material in this blog:

Let’s look at the astrological signatures for the current viral pandemic – and let’s do so in (probably) four installments:

  1. Two installments on the viral pandemic per se (i.e. without reference to its development in various nations):

    Looking at the various archetypal relations between Saturn and Pluto, with an emphasis on Pluto penetrating into Saturnian realms.

    b. Looking at the current situation from a cyclic perspective: as Saturn moves away from Pluto, we find ourselves in a new Saturn-Pluto cycle, with Saturnian forms (often social or hierarchical ones) growing out of matters-Plutonian.

  2. Two installments on the interactions between the horoscopes of nations, with particular emphasis on the United States, and the matters discussed in #1 (above).

The recent Saturn-Pluto conjunction serves as the major astrological signature of the pandemic. The first announcements of the virus we now call COVID19 emerged from China in December; the Saturn-Pluto conjunction took place on January 12 at 22+ Capricorn. The chart below shows the dates and zodiac placements of all conjunctions and oppositions between those two planets during the 20th century. Because the events associated with the archetypes appear some time before the precise aspect, we should feel surprised that the events that carry the archetypal energy (so to speak) will appear before the precise conjunction. I often liken these situations to the periods preceding hurricanes on the East Coast where I grew up: the waves would begin to get bigger and bigger long before the first clouds appeared in the sky, and if you didn’t get your boats out of the water before the storm hit, you’d regret it later. In the present case, I suspect that the virus made its jump from animals (chickens, apparently) to humans some time before the first announcements came out of China, with the delay due not only to the actions of the Chinese power-structure (Saturn-Pluto), but also because the virus had not spread enough for doctors or epidemiologists to recognize it as a problem. (See discussion below of the basic Pluto-dynamics.)

1/12/2020                        conjunction       22+ Capricorn

8/5/2001                          opposition         12+ Gemini
11/2/2001                        opposition         13+ Gemini
5/25/2002                        opposition         16+ Gemini

11/8/1982                        conjunction       27+ Libra

4/23/1965                        opposition          13+ Pisces
8/17/1965                                                       15+ Pisces
2/20/1966                                                       17+ Pisces

8/11/47                            conjunction         13+ Leo

2/17/1931                        opposition            19+ Capricorn
7/8/1931                                                           20+ Capricorn
12/13/1931                                                       21+ Capricorn

10/4/1914                        conjunction           2+ Cancer
11/1/1914                                                          2+ Cancer
5/19/1915                                                      0+ Cancer

A few technical notes: 1. Sometimes, due to retrogradation, these aspects recur three times (possibly more) within about a year. 2. The zodiac degrees refer to Saturn’s position; with the conjunctions, these will coincide with Pluto’s; the oppositions find Pluto precisely opposed to Saturn (for example, if we find Saturn at 12+ Gemini, we will find Pluto at 12+ Sagittarius[1]). 3. All degree-measures refer to the tropical zodiac. 4. Michael Tarnas’ research strongly suggests that the events associated with these planetary interactions and bearing their archetypal signature, extend through the period when the planets remain within 15 degrees of each other.5. Note that the cycle runs for about 35 years, with the exact duration varying because Pluto moves at various speeds through the zodiac (due to its eccentric orbit).

Pluto rules viruses, among other things and processes; Saturn rules the structures or containments of society, among other things and processes. Saturn has a lot to do with national boundaries, which viruses do not respect. Pluto, ruler of the underworld, undermines and/or infiltrates things-Saturnian; plutocratic enterprises, whether viral or plutocratic (for Pluto, not surprisingly, rules plutocracies) have no respect for, and suffer no limitation from, such things as laws, national boundaries, hierarchies, or people’s sense of who they “are” or of their own importance.

Not surprisingly, the Saturn-Pluto alignments coincide with attempts by plutocratic elites to expand their influence within and through the status-quo arrangements of society; Michael Tarnas’ research (see Cosmos and Psyche) certainly suggests such an interpretation, among many others. Developments of that type might remind us, too, of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, in which Ms. Klein provides abundant evidence that when a national government experiences a shock – with 911, closely coinciding with the previous Saturn-Pluto opposition; see above – offering an excellent example – plutocratic forces will do what they can, sometimes seeming to operate solely out of survival instinct (as with viruses), and sometimes driven by the careful planning of rapacious humans seeking to take over more of the public sector and restrict (Saturn) human freedom– the plutocratic process, also driven, it seems, by unconscious complexes, also ruled, at least in part, by Pluto. s

So in brief: Plutonic things or processes, whether driven by human rapaciousness or the drive of viruses to survive, undermine or penetrate Saturnian limits and boundaries. In fact, it seems that Saturnian hierarchies, insofar as we find them within highly concentrated human populations, often present excellent fields of operation for these of these Pluto-driven processes, as plutocrats find hierarchical societies excellent fields in which to flourish, and as viruses seem to thrive when hosts congregate together. None of this means that all Saturn-Pluto conjunctions bring viral outbreaks, but only that such outbreaks serve as symbolically-relevant means for the aspects’ expression in the world..

Why do astrologers say that Pluto rules viruses? Let’s look at four reasons:

  1. Like viruses, Pluto moves in secret, going among mortals unseen, with what seems mysterious intent. In Greek mythology, Hades, the Greek version of the Roman Pluto, ruler of the underworld, wore a helmet when moving among humans; that helmet conferred invisibility. Viruses, too, move in secret. We can’t see them, and in many cases, even the results may initially remain invisible, for in many cases, a person can carry and transmit a virus for some days, even weeks, before symptoms appear.

    Interestingly, the secrecy may also suggest questions about Pluto’s gender, for though the Greeks and Romans saw Pluto as male, many other cultures had females as rulers of the underworld. I prefer not to say that Pluto either “is male” or “is female,” as Pluto’s nature does not seem describable in either-or terms (or in terms of what it allegedly “is”). Pluto’s “real” gender seems hidden perhaps difficult to express in either-or forms – and, in general, we should abandon either-or logic when dealing with Pluto, thinking instead in terms of both-and. For example, we can see Pluto as both male and female. The planet we call “Pluto” actually qualifies as a double planet: two bodies rotate around a common center; “Pluto” refers to both bodies, though they go by different names.[2] The “two genders” may, so to speak, act similarly.

  2. Also, like viruses, the mythic Pluto’s injunctions could not be altered. Humans have had great difficulty finding cures for viral problems, and in many cases, even a temporarily successful vaccine becomes much less effective as the virus transforms itself (see quotation below) – reminding astrologers of Pluto’s connection with transformations, particularly those that seem inherent in the natural world.
  3. Here we see a third reason: Pluto and viruses both transform themselves. Pluto, ruler of Scorpio, rules major natural transformations, often involving death and rebirth patterns: organic life dies and enriches – with Pluto as a natural plutocrat– the soil, empowering, beneath the surface, the next spring’s rebirth. (Many astrologers, including yours truly, feel that Pluto has its exaltation in Aries, the sign of the spring equinox.) And, of course, just as Pluto rules transformations that seem integral to the continuance of organic life, so viruses transform, making it difficult for humans to come up with effective vaccines. It seems that many seasonal flu viruses change enough that last year’s inoculation may not work for this year.[3] In Plagues and Peoples, William H. McNeill writes,

    The problem [of creating a vaccine for viral influenza] is complicated by the fact that the influenza virus is itself unstable and alters details of its chemical structure at frequent intervals. Any new and widespread epidemic is therefore almost sure to originate with a virus that has changed enough to escape the antibodies last year’s vaccine can create in human bloodstreams. (p. 255 of the 1976 edition)

  4. Pluto has to do with processes that begin with something small yet, via a chain-reaction, have widespread effect. You don’t need all that much plutonium, for example, to bring about enormous and long-lasting destruction; and as we can see from the present world-pandemic, viruses, small buggers that they are, and even if they get started in what appear insignificant ways, can wreak significant havoc for a long time, as chain reactions appear not only in the extensional effects of influenza, but also in the internal processes of the virus itself.

Viral epidemics seem to achieve world-wide status quickly and readily now due to the crowded and mobile conditions of modern life (particularly since the discovery of Pluto in 1930), the quickness and readiness apparently arising at least in part because of the speed and pervasiveness of modern transportation – through, one might say, the processes we associate with globalization, with that term thinly veiling myriad plutonic processes – i.e. rule by the plutocrats – that William McNeill would surely describe as “macroparasitism,” a term that plays a major role in his study – and which he distinguishes from “microparasitism,” the kind associated with viruses and other microorganisms. We will return to these matters in a future installment.


Plagues and Peoples, by William H. McNeill
Cosmos and Psyche, by Richard Tarnas
Tables of Planetary Phenomena, by Neil F. Michelson
The People’s Chronology, by James Trager
The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein

[1] Note that this one fell right on the US ascendant-descendant axis, a matter we will discuss in a future installment.
[2] BTW: these remarks have relevance to whether Pluto “is” a planet or “is” something else entirely.
[3] Some of the preceding may also apply to bacteria, and I would agree that Pluto also has at least partial rulership over those critters.

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