Astrologers respond to “Will coronavirus kill astrology?”

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TWH –  On May 9, 2020,  The New York Times published  “Will Coronavirus Kill Astrology?” The article focused on the exuberant predictions of one astrologer, Susan Miller, for 2020.

Miller had given these favorable predictions on CBS New York, including that 2020 would be a great and prosperous year.  She shared some rosy predictions for the year for each sun sign. The article claimed that no astrologer predicted a pandemic this year.

In reality, several astrologers had predicted a probable pandemic this year. But many astrologers focus on the spiritual elements of the practice.

Pagan practice and astrology interact in many ways. They both elicit a bemused condescension or worse from rationalists. Most Pagan holidays mark astronomical events like solstices, equinoxes, and the lunar cycle.

Chris Brennan and Leisa Schaim discussed that article on the Astrology Podcast.

On May 27, we talked with Diotima Mantineia and Ivo Dominguez Jr.

Mantineia is the owner of the popular astrological blog, Urania’s Well.  She has been studying astrology for over fifty years. Mantineia follow a Wiccan spiritual path, utilizing various magical and shamanic practices for healing and to live in harmony with Nature. Her path is rooted in the Western Mystery Traditions, the principles of Yoga, and a profound connection with the natural world. She wrote Touch the Earth; Kiss the Sky.

Dominguez has been teaching for almost forty years. His spiritual path is a Wiccan syncretic tradition that draws inspiration from Astrology, Qabala, the Western Magickal Tradition, and the folk religions of Europe. He serves as Elder in the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel. He is the author of Practical Astrology for Witches.

Dominguez explained that the planets bear the names of Roman gods and then clarified that the planets differ from the gods of a pantheon.

He said, “What you may know about a particular goddess or god is the starting point of understanding a planet. Each of the planets is a larger category of forces and forms than a goddess or god from a specific pantheon.” He considers astrology to be a sacred science, a symbolic language, and a technology. He said that the technology of astrology “can be applied to all aspects of magic and pagan practice.”

Diotima Mantineia of Urania’s Well


Reaction from astrologers

Brennan, Schaim, Dominguez, and Mantineia all took issue with Miller’s exuberantly optimistic predictions for 2020.

Brennan and Schaim pointed out in their Astrological Podcast that Susan Miller’s astrological practice focuses on individuals. “Mundane astrology,” on the other hand, deals with global events, nations, movements, and epidemics. Miller does not practice mundane astrology.

Dominguez had never heard of Miller. Mantineia had heard of Miller, but does not follow her. None of these four astrologers described 2020 as a “great” and “prosperous” year, as Miller did on “CBS New York.”

On March 16, before The New York Times article, Susan Miller wrote about COVID-19 on her website. Unlike both Dominguez and Mantineia, she stressed the Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions. She did not stress the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn. She did not mention her previous statements about 2020 being “great” and “prosperous.” Miller noted that Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions in a birth chart indicated “great financial prosperity” as a marker of success. Among the “celebrities” with this conjunction in their birth chart, she listed Mohandas Gandhi.

Ivo Dominguez [Courtesy]

The storm in Capricorn

On December 30, 2019, Mantineia wrote in her blog that people would have to stay focused and clear about the direction of their lives. She said, “this year, things are moving faster, and the changes are happening everywhere. We’ll all be involved in profound change, and we may find ourselves needing to make decisions quickly … This is a year of long-term planetary cycles that are ending, and new cycles that are just beginning.” She said we would be facing choices, some of which would be difficult. Mantineia stated, “It’s going to be important to know what must be left behind and walk away, even when you really don’t want to.”

Three planetary cycles will experience endings and beginnings this year: Saturn-Pluto, Jupiter-Pluto, and Jupiter-Saturn.

According to Mantineia, Saturn will dominate this outer planetary cluster. It rules Capricorn. Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto will spend much of the year in Capricorn. Saturn rules discipline, but also building and manifesting. She continued, “Capricorn is all about the structures of a civilization government and business.”

Jupiter rules the philosophical structures. Jupiter expands while Saturn restricts. Pluto involves extremes and death. Mantineia described Pluto as a phoenix. It bursts into flames and dies, but is reborn out of its ashes. In myth, Pluto rules the Underworld. Neptune concerns the dissolution of boundaries. According to Mantineia, Neptune rules the social networks through which a virus spreads.

Uranus, the planet of radical change, sits largely by itself, off in Taurus.

According to Mantineia, when the outer planets are close together, major social change occurs. How these planets express that change depends on the signs through which they are moving. Three outer planets are moving through Capricorn, a sign involves “structures like business and government.” Mantineia feels that the outer planets moving through Capricorn will break down many structures of our extractive and unsustainable society. She compared the pursuit of unlimited economic growth to a cancerous cell. That cell also grows uncontrollably.

After Capricorn, these three planets will move, at different times, into Aquarius. Aquarius being a sign that involves “building a just society,” a society that values freedom. On the Winter Solstice of 2020, Jupiter, and Saturn will conjunct in Aquarius. That conjunction will start another 20-year cycle. Hope exists but we have to get through all that creative destruction first.

The Saturn-Pluto cycle and pandemics

For Dominguez, COVID-19 brought back memories of the 1982 Saturn-Pluto conjunction. “My other-half, Jim, is a nurse and we both looked at articles about a new illness mostly attacking queer men. I said ‘that’s interesting.’ And I ran the chart and went ‘Holy Crap!’ The moment that I saw that it was a Saturn-Pluto conjunction and a stellium in Scorpio, I said, ‘This is going to be a pandemic.'” This led Dominguez and his partner to become HIV/AIDS activists.” Astrology indicated a pandemic. Social and political attitudes and decisions channeled that indication into both a global disaster and a global resistance.

The Saturn-Pluto conjunction has co-occurred with other epidemics. Dominguez stated, “It was the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn of 1518 that heralded the Spanish bringing smallpox to the Americas which assisted in the destruction of the Maya and the Inca Empires.” He continued “The Black Death was signaled by the Saturn-Pluto conjunction. The Plague of Justinian was during a Saturn-Pluto conjunction. This cycle is roughly 33-38 years as Pluto has an irregular orbit. Anytime the outer planets line up, you do have a dramatic change at the global level.”

Neptune and pandemics

According to Mantineia, Neptune rules pandemics. As Neptune rules Pisces, it also has power. It forms a sextile to the conjunction in Capricorn. In individual charts, sextiles indicate an easy flow of the energies of the planets in aspect. Astrologers of individuals consider it beneficial. Mundane astrologers, however, question who or what might benefit from that easy flow. In this case, Mantineia thinks the virus benefits from the easy energy flow of that sextile.

Mantineia said that she did not predict a pandemic because she did not want to inject fear. She felt people would have limited options to act to avoid the virus. She has been urging individuals to establish food security and to be fiscally conservative in preparation for economic trouble.

Two mundane astrologers predicted a 2020 pandemic

On April 26, Edward Snow of the Astrological Association of Great Britain wrote about an astrologer who had predicted a pandemic in 2020. In 2011, French astrologer, Andre Barbault, wrote that “It may well be that we are seriously threatened by a new pandemic in 2020-2021.” He based this on correlations between pandemics and a pattern of close proximity of the five, slow-moving outer planets. In January 2020, only 100 degrees separated the five outer planets.  Barbault, who is 98, wrote a text on mundane astrology titled Planetary Cycles Mundane Astrology.

The Astrological Podcast referenced another mundane astrologer who had predicted a pandemic in 2020. Richard Tamas wrote “Cosmos and Psyche” in 2006. In that book, he linked Saturn-Pluto conjunctions with pandemics.

Dominguez reported that the organizers of the Between the Worlds/Sacred Space Conference had planned their main ritual to prepare people for the challenges of this year. They had planned to “to shield and empower people in preparation for the hard times were ahead.” The organizers of that conference felt this was “just the beginning of several years of severely challenging times. We almost scheduled the event for January 2020, but were worried about snow.” They had to postpone the event because of COVID-19.

Looking ahead

Mantineia described the fall as an astrological “hot mess.” The anti-lock-down protests indicated a danger of violence accompanying the election. She indicated that she feels the potential for conflict abroad and within the U.S. one a number of fronts and around many issues definitely exist, but that the positive side of that energy reflects fighting for what we believe in and a future we want to live in. While Mantineia felt that the coronavirus would be around for the rest of this year, she also felt a vaccine could be available early next year.

Dominguez described the future as a “time to live heroic lives. We are at the beginning of a long period of profound political, cultural, economic, you name it, social transformations. We need to be prepared to part of a process of creating the best future that we can pull out of this.”

Dominguez connected the relationship of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction to national uprisings. “Saturn is power, authority, the law and limits of all forms. Pluto is forces that affect large masses of people and the inexorable tides of history. Both Saturn and Pluto also put a spotlight on that which is diseased, broken, and needs to be excised or transformed.” He continued, “In June, there is a loose Jupiter–Saturn–Pluto conjunction that sextiles Mars and Neptune around the solstice. The current crises will intensify and what occurs in June will set the shape and tone of what occurs until the solstice in December.”