A wide-angle astrological view of COVID-19
Thursday, April 2, 2020 8:17 AM
by Patricia Bechdolt, ThD.
In recent days I’ve been asked for an astrological perspective on coronavirus/COVID-19. While there are several ways we can understand the pandemic in planetary and zodiacal terms, I feel that one planet/sign combination, Neptune in Pisces, speaks most directly to us at this time. I also believe that part of our collective response has been deeply significant within the much larger context of human evolution, so we will be considering that as well.
I realize that reflecting on this urgent moment against the backdrop of both human history and the human future could feel too far removed from the immediacy of the here and now. But doing so offers a way to gain perspective, get our bearings, and remind ourselves to stay in touch with the intuitive, Neptunian part of ourselves that is profoundly useful in navigating uncertainty.
I want to add that, for me, this long viewpoint doesn’t render this crisis abstract or arm’s length. As I write, I’m thinking of my many clients who work in health care who are, or soon will be, in the depths of this. I think of them every day. Likewise, close friends whose businesses have shuttered, as well as those who are dealing with the virus directly around the world.
Astrology and Wellness
For much of human history, astrology and the practice of medicine were one discipline. Astrology was long taught at medical schools, including that of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician known as the “Father of Medicine,” and the namesake of the Hippocratic Oath still taken by physicians to this day. For thousands of years, we have understood astrology through the principle “as above, so below,” which I don’t think of in a causal way, but in a holistic and synchronistic one that places health within the larger context of our lives. (I.e., there is no suggestion here that astrology has triggered the pandemic, or that astrology makes anything else happen, for that matter.) In this model of astrology and medicine, the planets and zodiac signs correspond with the anatomical and physiological systems of the human body. Specifically, the contagious, epidemic aspect of this virus is associated with both Neptune and the zodiac sign Pisces.
(Please know there is no implication here that one person’s zodiac sign, or “Sun sign” is more likely to have issues with coronavirus than anyone else. This is not the case. Everyone has all the signs of the zodiac, and all the planets in the solar system within their personal astrology, or natal astrological chart.)
Neptune began its passage through Pisces in 2011, and it will remain there through much of 2025 and early 2026. Neptune is the “ruling” planet of Pisces, the sign of the zodiac where Neptune is most at home, and in its strength. We can sense this potency as the virus moves with astonishing speed through physical bodies, our collective psyche, and the global economy. We know it in the collective, grievous loss we feel as well (that’s Neptune, too).
But we can also keep Neptune’s positional strength in mind, and draw from it, as we consider other ways we can choose to express Neptunian energy in response to this experience. Each planet in our solar system symbolizes many aspects of our lives, and is part of a greater whole that reflects all of human experience.
In recent years, I have been thinking of Neptune in Pisces (in combination with other astrological factors) as symbolizing a developing perceptual shift in the way we define reality. For nearly all of human history, our reality has largely been formed and informed by our 5 physical senses and our rational minds. We’re progressing toward an understanding of reality that fully includes, and is guided by the 6th sense. We may tend to think of the 6th sense as intuition, and that is certainly a key component, but I will be considering the 5 senses and the 6th sense here as distinct worldviews that perceive reality differently.
Our experience of the pandemic has suddenly opened a worldwide conversation about this transition.
First, a little context.
The 5 senses and the scarcity mind
In moments like this one, it’s deeply human to hunker down, not just physically, but internally. When we’re facing physical threat, intense emotional insecurity, economic upheaval, and just plain fear, it’s deeply human go into survival mode, and to look at the world through that lens. Scientists tell us we’re hardwired to react this way, and that we’ve done so throughout human existence.
The animal part of us navigates the world with our 5 physical senses, and the rational part of our mind defines reality based upon them. In other words, what many of us call reality is largely based on what we can see with our eyes, touch with our hands, and prove logically.
This perspective has significant limits, however. When we operate from a physical definition of reality, we’re likely to view the world around us in terms of scarcity. We’ll reinforce that thinking by noting that there is only so much available land, water, food, oil, natural resources, money, time, and so on. As many of us are experiencing empty store shelves for the first time, more of us have added basic supplies to our scarcity list for the moment.
In a 5 sensory version of reality, we compete for these resources, and sometimes fight over them, thinking, “If you have it, I won’t.” In the extreme, we focus only on “us” (and our people). We don’t think outside the tribe (familial, corporate, or otherwise), except for thinking of others as “them.”
Our 6th sense shifts our perceptions by changing the version of mind with which we see the world in the first place. We look at it through an entirely different lens.
Among other things, this viewpoint naturally reframes our thinking about the use and distribution of resources in a more sustainable and equitable way. Given that toilet paper has received more attention than any other commodity in the past couple of weeks, we can use it as an example.
In a fear of possible scarcity, people went into 5 sensory survival mode, which created actual scarcity as people bought toilet paper in huge amounts. Our perception became reality, though it wasn’t based in fact. The 6th sense knows how much is too much, and that if we buy more than we need, others may go without. Moreover, the 6th sense realizes, “hey, maybe I don’t need to use quite so much every time.” Applied broadly, the same amount of toilet paper then meets the needs of more people, and the Earth gets a break, too, because we don’t need more trees to produce it. Win/Win/Win.
This evolutionary perspective can be applied toward resolving the major issues of our time: deforestation/fossil fuels and climate change, food waste and hunger, economic and gender inequality, racism, the use of water, and so on. The 6th sense brings Neptunian creativity to problems whose solutions we can’t see with the 5 sensory mind from which they came. While more and more highly innovative projects are emerging along these lines, the 5 sensory way is still dominant within our current power structures.
All this said, the 6th sense is often the first thing we drop when we’re in survival mode.
Through this global event, we’re delivering a global message
In my work as a translator of the language of astrology, I pay a lot of attention to words. In recent weeks, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard a phrase that I, and many others, have used for years as code words for a sustainable future for humanity and all life on Earth:
“Everything is Connected to Everything Else.”
We’ve been hearing its close cousins as well:
“We are all One.”
“We’re all connected.”
“We’re all in this together.”
These statements are pure Neptune and Pisces, the astrological symbols of Oneness, of no separation. (Neptune is the mythological god of the seas, and Pisces, the symbol of the oceans. The oceans of the world are really one ocean, all connected, with no boundaries between them.)
Over and over, day after day, this same message is being echoed around the world, from personal conversations to international media, and from governmental leaders to corporate advertising.
In an instant, these phrases have become deeply impressed upon our individual and collective consciousness. Together, we’re writing and speaking to each other the exact words that can guide us through the next phase of human evolution. They also describe the consciousness that will help resolve the pressing issues that threaten our survival as a species.
The virus lends a way to actually see our interconnectedness, normally hidden from view, and to grasp that we put ourselves in peril by denying it. Being suddenly immersed in a world that no one wants to live in has brought the sober reality that what costs one, costs us all, and that all loss is shared. These are 6th sensory concepts that we are painfully experiencing in a physical way. They are obvious now on a macrocosmic global scale, but not so clear, though just as true, in more micro circumstances that occur every day.
I am not suggesting that I think we’re going through this international emergency at this time so humanity will evolve. I don’t personally hold a worldview that includes a punishing model of the universe. My perspective aligns with the ancient life principle, or law, “as above, so below.” Our universe is expanding, and our experience of what it means to be human is expanding, too. In my view, living in conscious awareness that “everything is connected to everything else” is a significant part of what’s next for us. It is my great hope that this message will be absorbed as self-evident, as fact and truth, and as a basis from which we go forward.
Our message can also guide us through this crisis personally
For each of us individually, “everything is connected to everything else” can put us in conscious touch with our Neptunian 6th sense. No matter where we are right now, or what we’re facing, we’re being reminded that everything in our material life of the 5 senses works better, and feels better, when we include our 6th sense in the mix. Our rational minds then have access to more information, benefitting from perception that is creative and intuitive. When we’re not scrambling to figure things out, we can more easily connect dots, perceive patterns, and make solid decisions. Intuition’s version of knowing sees beyond what seems apparent. It is the flow of life, within which we feel we’re in the right place at the right time.
If we’re in need of direction, we can start with a premise upon which physicists and mystics agree: there is no such thing as time. So in a timeless universe, the question we’re asking is already answered. We may not know that answer now, but somewhere in the energies of life, somewhere down the line it is known, and at some point, we will know, too. For myself, I just ask it to find its way to me in the clearest, gentlest way possible, in its own time.
We are also being asked to be highly conscious of our choices and actions right now, because we can impact each other in consequential ways that we can’t see, and may never know. We can have a direct effect on the direction the virus takes, or doesn’t. Of course, the Neptunian ripple effects of our choices are always motion, but the virus is offering us a view into this part of life is typically invisible to our eyes, and out of our conscious awareness.
We don’t have to know what the downstream effects of our decisions will be, indeed, we can’t. All we ever need to know is whether our choices feel deeply true and right. The rest takes care of itself. “As within, so without,” if it is right for us, it will be right for others. When we allow this to reform our reality, the ripple effects will be extraordinary.
Navigating Oneness and Separation
Other Neptune Pisces phrases that have been circulating in recent days include:
“The virus respects no boundaries or borders.”
“The virus is the Great Equalizer.”
On a physical level, the only safeguards we have for the susceptibility and permeability of our interconnectedness are rigorous boundaries and separation (symbolized by the also powerful position of Saturn in the sky right now). So we’ve closed off our borders, our public spaces, our homes, our own personal space. In doing so, our physical preventatives have revealed a paradoxical soul diagnosis: What ails the soul of humanity is not too much Oneness, it’s not enough of it.
At the same time, we have also been evolving an appreciation for human individuality and uniqueness. Historically, we’ve suppressed differentness in favor of conformity and fitting in, motivated by survival instincts associated with fear of rejection and of alienation from the tribe.
In other words, we’re finding our way to the sweet spot between seamless Oneness and pure individuality. Real togetherness, and the freedom to be ourselves. Technology has offered us a way to be more connected than ever, but that has also led to detachment and loneliness, so we’re working out these themes on various levels. As many of us are living this duality very literally right now, a sense of where we may need more of one or the other may emerge.
Choosing inspiring Neptune experiences and expressions
As many of us are experiencing necessary distance to protect our physical selves, we have a chance to be more connected with our inner lives and souls. Neptune has an association with places of retreat where we intentionally withdraw from the world, such as monasteries and ashrams. If we can channel that concept into our current situation, isolation can become sacred space. As we quiet the mind and body, we can hear our souls speak.
As we develop our Neptunian interior within these challenging circumstances, we’ll carry that inner sanctuary as we go back into the world.
Neptune and Pisces symbolize inspiration in its many forms: creativity, uplifting music, singing, reflection, contemplation, meditation, positive reading material, poetry, faith, prayer, spiritual practice, and silence. Whatever truly lifts our spirits. From online concerts to Italian balconies, music has offered joy and connection to the souls of many in recent days. Neptune’s association with grace, selflessness, and unconditional love has been expressed through countless acts of human kindness, and as these stories are passed along, the blessing is multiplied.
These forms of communing with Neptune also offer soul level peace. Given that up to 90% of illnesses are considered to be stress related, consciously expressing Neptune energy may offer some stress relief, which research shows benefits the immune system.
Neptune is also associated with escaping stress rather than dissipating it, through excessive self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, or other addictive or escapist habits. These only numb us from feeling stress, they don’t release it from us the way that creativity and meditation do. These habits also silence intuition, which is calming by nature.
Distraction, runaway imagination, and diversions that drain us rather than filling our well are also Neptunian signatures. When we find ourselves dispersing our energy in these directions, we can call it back by filling that space with more soul-affirming Neptunian options.
Neptune and Pisces are profoundly sensitive to collective suffering, and they also pertain to our conscious and unconscious experience of emotions such as despair and grief. While a lot has been said here about making transcendent choices, this does not mean denying the feelings that are deep for many of us. If we allow the watery nature of emotions to ebb and flow, rather than pool and stagnate, they are better able to move through us. We’ll also be more in touch with any need we may have to reach out for help, or for personal connection as we navigate the days ahead.
The virus is being called an invisible enemy; Neptune is also our invisible ally. So as we gather our physical resources, it’s important to prioritize our metaphysical ones as well. By drawing upon the limitless nature of creativity, intuition, and/or spirituality, we glimpse a sense of our true, quite boundless nature, and in my view, of the world to come. This is a subject that is far broader than one newsletter, so I’ll be offering further thoughts down the road.
In the meantime, I wish you all very well.
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