A long-time client asked me if it were the “end of the world”. I don’t think the planet is going anywhere. But a pandemic is a reminder of how interdependent we are. Our air and water systems cannot be contained by boundaries. When contaminations of these vital elements happen in one part of the world, it affects us all.

Ease of travel for those with means has hastened the migration of microbes on the bodies of unwitting hosts. A dazzling city like New York goes dark to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and millions of people will remember 2020 as the year they cancelled a wedding, an anniversary cruise or the night they were finally to see Hamilton.

The conjunction of Saturn/Pluto only occurred once on January 12, 2020; we experienced its impact moving towards that time and must cope with the fallout when structures get dismantled to create foundations for new growth. On January 8, 2020, Washington Post reporters in China noted an “unidentified and possibly new viral disease in central China”.

The dismantling of structures does not feel voluntary, because most systems, institutions and people do not want to change.

Link to Coronavirus Podcast

Some of us have lived through Saturn/Pluto conjunctions before, but this time these two planets travel in the sign of Capricorn. This has not occurred since 1518.

The symbolism of Saturn is to limit, contain, create boundaries and to fear (because nothing limits us as much as fear). It’s “natural” sign is Capricorn, a cardinal earth sign. Cardinal signs initiate the seasons, so they tend to be starters. Earth signs are steady, they like tangible and physical results. This is a time of concrete and hard decisions. There is also a brittle component to this, because status quo concepts and seemingly rock-solid institutions must transform due to the influence of Pluto. Resistance does not prevent the eventual collapse, but often makes it harder.

Pluto symbolizes irrevocable transformation. When someone goes through a Pluto transit, it can feel like a death. Parts of our unconscious come to the surface through circumstances in our lives. Like it or not, we must confront them. Whether we do so willingly or resist, the only course for survival is to surrender to the lesson. We are not the same afterwards.

Back in 1518, the most significant act may have been the widely circulated publication of the Ninety-five Theses. Written by the priest Martin Luther in rejection of several teachings and practices of the Catholic Church, it laid the groundwork for the Protestant Reformation.

The Catholic Church had been a wealthy and powerful institution, in charge of armies and political alliances. In its quest for corporeal power, its hierarchy had forgotten the heart and soul of its purpose —  to provide spiritual guidance.

What we can anticipate at this time is to witness the transformation of bloated institutions that no longer serve their intended purpose, for example:

• The highly profitable USA healthcare system, at the cost of overall public health
• USA higher education and its skewed message of its inherent value
• The sanctified value of corporations compared to citizen welfare
• The rabid lust for natural resources at the expense of our children’s future
• The runaway power of religious ideals that declare their beliefs overweigh anyone else’s

The accepted norm of who yields the power and why can shift. With his Capricorn Moon, it was reckoning time for the predator Harvey Weinstein who received a substantial prison sentence — spin that has been usurped as panic and concern expands with the coronavirus.

Yet powerful men without conscience will continue to lose their grip, as Pope Leo X and his minions saw flocks leave their Church in the aftermath of 1518. We live in a time when information takes root and spreads quickly. This makes lies harder to hide but truth easy to manipulate. Historians have revealed that Martin Luther may have called the Catholic Church on its shortcomings, but he was a horrible anti-Semite. Luther wrote a book called On the Jews and Their Lies, to declare that Jews were a menace to Germany.

Capricorn, like every sign has a spectrum of high and low qualities. At the pinnacle of the goat’s climb is status achieved through hard work. But someone who has achieved that without consideration and respect for those who have not yet or cannot make the climb does not bode well for their ability to maintain the position. If not in life, death and legacy brings the ultimate judgement.

As I write this, I am coming to terms with the cancelled vacation planned at the beach with my beloved brother and sister. We need an updated picture of the three of us; this one was on my 50th birthday on our way to see Avenue Q.

Science recommends that the best way to tackle the virus is to contain it. Like a fire rampant in a forest, when it stops being able to find hosts, it will die.

One thing about a Pluto transit, is that most of us don’t want to go through the transformation. When we do, life as we know it is different. So often we are made to go through that dark unknown, kicking and screaming all the way. The best course is to accept with grace; doesn’t mean we like it, but at least we don’t waste energy.

Saturn-Pluto is not just about health, but in lieu of the concern that I’ve heard from several people, let’s focus on that aspect. To look at epidemics at this cycle, the determining factor seems to be how conscious the governing powers are to the threat and what can be done about it. Sometimes the health crisis seems like a background to other factors at play. But if we see our planet as an interdependent one, these viruses have energetic impact, as does the ocean, the air and the earth.

The last Saturn-Pluto conjunction in 1982 came as AIDS finally gained public attention. The government was slow to act, which resulted in devastating loss of lives. There is a roster of famous artists lost to that disease. As a young woman in the arts community, I knew too many talented men who died young.

The horror of the epidemic brought an eventual sea-change in how homosexuality is viewed. Although a percentage of people and countries still reject the normalcy of anything other than heterosexuality, from the wreckage of AIDS, a strong political voice for gay people was built which supports many areas other than just health.

Prior to that in 1947, a few smallpox cases appeared in NYC. The city health commissioner recognized the threat and was able to distribute vaccinations to nip the potential scourge in the bud. The non-physical epidemic was the beginning of the Cold War, a true manifestation of the Saturn/ Pluto dance of power.

With Saturn Pluto in 1914, typhus and malaria wreaked havoc on troops at war. The present Coronavirus’ early effects in nursing homes has highlighted that institutions and strongholds must be aware of the dangers of close quarters and high contagion. We see travel and entertainment curtailed. Schools and businesses are encouraged to exercise caution. Other concerns not yet addressed are for prisons, tent cities of the homeless and the refugees trapped at the border. These situations threaten like a forest drought vulnerable to a match.

There are movements of enlightenment that can occur during this transit without active disaster. In 1883 during the reign of Queen Victoria, the care and hospitalization for those with infectious diseases shifted to treat both paupers and those with means. Even though they created separate wards for those able to pay, all patients received the same care.

This decision came after three brutal epidemics of cholera (two of them at Saturn Pluto conjunctions) although no epidemic was rampant at the time. Nonetheless, this act recognized that the health of the entire population affects the whole.

It is not unusual for an epidemic to be part of a Saturn Pluto conjunction. A severe public health crisis upends “business as usual” to force transformation. Because of the Capricornian nature of this particular passage, we see all the governmental bodies scrambling in the way the Catholic church and their alliances must have in the 1500’s.

People must take control of their destiny, especially those in positions to give a leg up to others. Epedemics teach us that no wall is impermeable, no country can exist alone and each human has a responsibility to others. We must learn to co-exist and to support the whole. The systems as we know them are collapsing. In the United States, this cycle has a particular punch because the nation is on the threshold of its Pluto return.

It’s time for the people to determine their future. We can hope that governmental bodies make the right decisions to keep people safe and hospitals underwhelmed.

It’s unprecedented that a city like New York close its cultural institutions, theaters, universities because of a virus, but consider the decisive action in 1947. Smallpox had a vaccine, people coorperated, the potential epidemic became a non-event. Coronavirus is an unknown entity which is considered a serious threat by the scientific community. The action that is taken now determines the arc of the disease. We can ignore it, minimize it, hope it will go away — but that will make it worse because this is a catalyst that demands structures of evolution.

The economic consequences will be far greater if the disease is not brought under control in the next few months. I know many of you, like I have, will make or are making hard decisions about what to do, where to go, what to cancel.

Make the decision that does not feel dictated by fear. To go on a trip and panic at every cough is not a vacation. Consider the consequences if you get trapped at your destination because of restrictions or if you or a loved one gets sick. Understand that you may become infected and pass it on to others. To be conscious is to own your power.

Jupiter in Capricorn comes to the Pluto point in early April. My sense is that is when we will start to have more clarity about the way through this pandemic. That doesn’t mean everything is shut down until then, but decisions made now, impact how big this looks then.

This pandemic had to be a severe reckoning because too many people were still invested in “business as usual”. The question is, will they get that there is a need for change now?

In 1518 when the Catholic Church sold indulgences, people could buy their way into heaven, regardless of the transgression. This may seem ridiculous today, but people have other ways of buying the reassurance of their goodness, regardless of their actions.

Saturn/ Pluto in Capricorn has no patience for magical thinking. In 1518 Martin Luther was able to change the religious world and everything it affected.

But in August 1518, King Charles I authorized Spain to ship enslaved people directly from Africa to the Americas — this fueled the foundation of the Americas slave economy. The increase of slavery at that time leads to a reckoning now. While seeking a deeper religious understanding through the Protestant Reformation, the Shadow side of Pluto dehumanized those who were not “heathens” to justify their greed.

It is imperative to be conscious of the power of the Saturn Pluto transformations. In the 21st century, we need to take responsibility for where institutional leadership takes us, whether religious, political or economic. What looks due for a dose of reality and transformation to you at this time?

Please take care of yourselves. The most loving thing you can do is eat right, avoid sugar, smoking, vaping, alcohol – this is not a time to diminish your immune system. If you’ve been procrastinating, this is the time to see that nutritionist and/or homeopath. Get plenty of sleep, your quota of vitamins C & D, fresh air in nature and exercise. The stronger your immune system, the less chance disease has. Stay close to the nest, talk to your elders on the phone and get selective hugs (always a good idea)!

You don’t need me to tell you to wash your hands! One good thing that will come out of this is overall better hygiene. We are part of an interdependent web and the healthier each of us is, the better for all of us.

Weird though it may be, the epidemic that occurred in 1518 was the Dancing Plague. Frau Troffea began a solitary snake-like dance in the Strausbourg square and over the course of a week, others joined her. They didn’t stop, eat or drink – Physicians called it “hot blood” but did nothing to stop it.

Music was brought in, more people joined the dance until finally heart attacks and strokes claimed some of the dancers, the authorities broke up the party. Historians have never been able to identify what had been the true cause of that event. Labeled a “plague” it only affected one town.

Our neighborhood has become so much bigger; it’s time to think in terms of how to live well and holistically within it. Let’s be a part of building new, sustainable, collaborative systems. This is NOT magical thinking. Each one of us can be part of the architecture of transformation.

My ActiveSpirituality podcast about the Coronavirus