The pandemic has affected all of us. Who saw it coming?
By Hayley Phelan
- May 9, 2020
The following is an article that appeared in the New York Times a few days ago. Like so many mainstream articles that come out making some mention of astrology, it was accompanied by a vocabulary with terms that undermine the credibility of the celestial science. Previous NYT articles were entitled, Astrology Is Fake but It’s Probably Fine (8/27/2018), and Astrology Is Hard, Even if It’s Fake (10/17/2018). The downside to this most recent article suggests that the error was so egregious that it would bring all the stars and planets crashing down about our heads.
We will include the article here, in italics, and make some comments along the way.
If ever there was one, Susan Miller would be a blue-chip astrologer. So, in January, when she appeared on CBS New York and predicted that 2020 would “be a great year, and it will be a prosperous year,” people listened.
People listened when she said Capricorn would be the year’s “celestial favorite,” and that Cancer was the most likely to wed; Libra was set to score in real-estate and Taurus could expect a calendar full of international travel.
And then, people got mad because — it probably doesn’t need pointing out — things didn’t exactly go according to the stars’ plan.
The main thrust here is the Capricorn stellium of Jupiter, Saturn, the asteroids Pallas and Ceres together with Pluto collectively bunched up in the sign of the mountain sea-goat over the winter. Few astrologers would argue that this concentration was big, and it forebode much. This series of conjunctions (one planet lining up with and triggering another) has been reshaping our government (ruled by Capricorn), the floods in Michigan, Brexit, the storms hammering the Welsh coast, the Australian fires, the government protests in Colombia, Iraq and Iran, with these governments firing on their own people, with Iran and the US firing missiles at each other . . . This is so much bigger than just March of 2020 and the virus, although that’s part of it, too. Civilization is going through a major metamorphosis, not seen last since the days of Ovid.
“I remember a month ago, thinking: has everybody fired their astrologer?” said Divya Babbar, who subscribed to Ms. Miller’s free app last year. As a Sagittarius, Ms. Babbar had been looking forward to the year of profit Ms. Miller had predicted for her.
YouTube and Instagram users took to Ms. Miller’s feeds to complain.
“Susan, you’re a very good writer but you forgot about the Covid-19 virus and the loss of jobs,” one user sniped.
Another railed: “Why didn’t you predict this, Susan? Covid-19 was major enough to see it coming!”
Yes, it was big. Conjunctions are thought to be the strongest of all the planetary alignments, and this was an extended series of them. This one was so big that it involved an ‘hour hand’ not generally used by astrologers.
The Moon circuits the Earth once a month; the Earth circuits the Sun once a year, while Pluto, at the other end of our solar system, circuits the Sun once every 248 years. The further a planet is from the Sun the more powerfully it interacts with alignments in our charts. Hence, the Moon, Sun, Mercury and Venus tend to make daily alignments with our chart, while Uranus, Neptune and Pluto represent deeper issues and fundamental shifts in our lives.
And this brings us to another point. One astrologer gets it wrong, and the whole lot are lined up against the wall. “has everybody fired their astrologer?” Did all the astrologers get it wrong? The implications here are that they did. If a doctor loses one patient, does the whole profession get blamed? If Tom Brady loses one game, is his whole career down the toilet?
Where astrology is concerned it seems to be all or nothing. Susan Miller, all by herself, has sounded the death knell for astrology.
You go girl!!
Many astrologers and their followers believe that daily events are impacted by the movements and positions of celestial objects, the planets and the sun. Science says: No. Most psychologists agree that astrology’s appeal relies largely on “confirmation bias” — the human tendency to seek out, recall and favor information that confirms what we already believe.
Science says: Yes. These are the opinions of some psychologists, they haven’t done any real testing themselves. If you want test results we turn to statistics and the work of Michel Gauquelin, a French psychologist whose ‘Mars effect’ was a statistical correlation between athletic eminence and position of the planet Mars relative to the horizon at the time and place of birth. This is what astrology says: that there is a correlation between heaven and earth. Gauquelin ran the charts of thousands of individuals using accepted statistical methods and known birth times in order to establish his hypothesis. ‘Most psychologists agree‘ does not meet this criteria.
Astrologers, the haters say, write their horoscopes in such a broad, general way that anyone could find something that applied to them, especially if they’re really looking for it. But then March 2020 arrived, and with it the dawning of a global pandemic, the magnitude and universality of which seemed to contradict not just astrology, but the very notion that each sign could have its own fate (after all, we all are facing a common threat at the moment and it doesn’t take a seer to know that most of us will be spending a lot more time at home).
Again, one astrologer made one erroneous prediction. It is not the individual who is at fault, it is the entire discipline. “which seemed to contradict not just astrology, but the very notion that each sign could have its own fate.” Each of the planets, constellations and archetypes do indeed have their own fate, their own destiny.
So you might expect people would be having their doubts. And yet, horoscopes appear to be more popular than ever. Amid the flurry of questions that loom over our daily lives — How long will this last? Will things ever go back to normal? Can we trust the people in charge? — other, more celestially-based questions, began emerging again: Is Mercury in retrograde? When was the last time Saturn and Pluto were conjunct (as they were in January)?
According to data provided by Lucie Greene, a cultural trend analyst, Dazed and Refinery29 reported a bump in traffic to their horoscope-related stories. Dazed Beauty saw a 22 percent increase in horoscope-related traffic this quarter versus last quarter. An article by Refinery29 titled “The Super Pink Moon in Libra is Good News for Your Relationships” was one of the sites top-performing stories last month.
Comscore, a media analytics company, shows that traffic for major astrology sites like Astro, CafeAstrology, and Ms. Miller’s site, AstrologyZone, increased in March when compared to February.
Yes, astrology is more popular than ever. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, and astrology is an Aquarian discipline. So is astronomy. As the in-coming vibration continues to bathe the planet, Aquarian themes (such as technology, computers and smart phones among others) will grow ever more prominent. ‘
‘Amid the flurry . . .How long will it last?’
The underlying conditions which produced the endemic? Longer than you would like.
‘Will things go back to normal?’
‘Can we trust the people in charge?’
“Astrology for us is a consistently high-performing category across all our sites,” said Emma Rosenblum, the editor in chief for the lifestyle category at Bustle Digital Group, overseeing content and strategy for Bustle, Elite Daily, Romper, NYLON and The Zoe Report. “In place of traditional religions and spirituality, I think some people — particularly in this time of such uncertainty — are doubling down even more on horoscopes.”
Depending upon the skill of the individual astrologer, like the skill of the individual doctor, astrology works.
It used to be that horoscopes were more or less apolitical; they promised travel, pay raises, and, of course, locking eyes with that soul mate on your morning commute. There was very little hay to be made about the global economy, systemic inequality and other structures, which undeniably impact a person’s fate. But in recent years, the genre has moved in a more politically and financially aware direction. Basically, astrology’s gone woke.
Everything has gone more politically woke. Astrology is just commenting on what’s happening in the media (like this column). And besides, it was more than simply mundane in times past. John, the author of the Book of Revelation, was sent to the criminal island of Patmos where he crossed paths with astrologers who had been sent there because it was illegal to determine the fate of the emperor by the stars. The establishment didn’t want the ‘fate’ of the emperor known, not because it was codswallop, but because people believed in it. Remember that just a few decades earlier three Magi (astrologers) successfully found their way to the cradle of the new prince, much to Herod’s displeasure.
All of this was political.
If you go back to the Sumerians and Egyptians, all of it was political; for the nation and for the pharaoh. Individual horoscopes for people were not composed until the time of the Greeks.
Chani Nicholas, dubbed “a kind of social justice astrologer,” has built a following for her thoughtful, socially-conscious astrological briefings, which often reference mental health, queer identity and progressive politics.
Ms. Nicholas said she knew 2020 would be a tough one, but it wasn’t only the stars that gave her that clue. “It’s an election year,” she said. “And election years are always tough.” Add that to growing warnings about a coming recession, and her own astrological calculations, and Ms. Nicholas felt confident in her own conjectures.
And here is an example of two astrologers disagreeing with each other. She seems to suggest that the fact that it was an election year ‘trumps’ the stars of astrology. I don’t believe that to be true. And I am not putting Ms. Nicholas down. Her wisdom is the culmination of her personal experience, which is different from mine.
“Astrology should be in service to the moment,” Ms. Nicholas said. “This pandemic is bigger than we could have foreseen, even though we did know this year was going to be challenging. But the point now is, what can we do from here? That’s when we look to each other. We don’t keep looking to the planets.”
I do. A Capricorn stellium, straight from the School of Hard Knocks? Yes. At it’s most basic vibration should have signaled a tough year, but there is still one criteria that we have not discussed.
Steph Koyfman, a former journalist who founded The Daily Hunch, a site that offers personalized daily horoscopes, agrees that astrology can help provide tools to cope with uncertainty and the daily frustrations and fears brought on by the pandemic.
“I think astrology might offer comfort because it has a way of naming and unpacking archetypal patterns; it allows people to put words to what they’re already feeling and that helps them feel witnessed,” Ms. Koyfman said. “It’s also a way of orienting yourself in history and time. It helps take you beyond, oh my God, why is this happening to me? This is just how time works. It’s a cycle.”
Soon after the upset over her inaccurate predictions, Ms. Miller’s followers were clamoring to know how she thought the pandemic would play out.
The pandemic is causing us to realign our thinking in many, many ways. It has brought down atmospheric pollution due to people staying home, while saving fuel as people en mass work out of their homes in alternative office conditions. Technology is making this possible.
One of the most important changes is that the crisis has brought out for many the best in people, reaching out to help those who need it the most. The people who are in the front lines are the true heroes here, the medical staff, grocery workers, the commercial delivery people such as UPS, Fed-Ex, US Post Office and drive-thru windows, each risking their lives in that they might come in contact with the virus. While maintaining our social distancing many people are out walking in their neighborhoods and, for the first time, saying hello to those also out walking that live around them.
“I was in a bad mood that day and I really should apologize to her,” said Melanie Syed-Ismail. She’d left a critical comment on Ms. Miller’s Instagram account. “I was being snarky when I shouldn’t have been.” And after reading Ms. Miller’s special coronavirus report, released in mid-March, Ms. Syed-Ismail said her faith in the astrologer was renewed.
The hour hand that is being overlooked is the Vernal Equinox. While Pluto has a 248-year cycle, the Vernal Equinox has an over 25,000 year cycle and a much greater social impact when it is triggered. This is what marks the advent of the coming of the Age of Aquarius and the leaving behind of Pisces. Two major streams of consciousness are on a collision course and are gaining momentum. In ‘When the Dragon Wore the Crown‘ we observe how mythologies from around the planet recorded these changes in their ‘spiritual’ story lines. It was God, or the Gods if you prefer, looking down on them from heaven above. This work observes the timeline of the Vernal Equinox moving from (the Ages of) Gemini, Taurus and into Aries, approximately a six thousand year period BC. During this entire time the constellation Draco (the Dragon) stood at the summit of heaven, guarding or marking the location of the North Celestial Pole. This is the center of the circle, around which all else turns and marked the beginning of their ancient astronomical calculations.
The second book, ‘The 8th Seal,’ observes the last two thousand years and the Vernal Equinox moving through the constellation Pisces and the Christian history (sign of the Fish) that this has evoked. According to this work, the Vernal Equinox aligned with the star that, like a boundary post in a field, marked the end of Pisces and the beginning of Aquarius. That was on 11 February 2012. Since that time the transition has begun in full force, and the conditions called for according to legend are beginning to unfold.
On the day the Vernal Equinox aligned with the star Omega Piscium at zero hours, zero minutes and zero seconds of Right Ascension (ask any astronomer), the Pope said he quit, and lightning struck the Vatican that night.
Pisces was over, Aquarius had begun.
We predicted it ahead of time and it played out on cue. The new vibration was beginning its work, cleaning house and the status quo from the way it has been.
Ms. Miller simply didn’t take this one celestial alignment into consideration.
But that doesn’t mean astrology doesn’t work.