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 Saturn - Neptune

The Astrology of Pandemics

 by Meira B. Epstein, C.A. NCGR-PAA

NOTE: This article was first published in the NCGR Member Letter, November 1993 issue, under the Title "Saturn in Pisces". It is reprinted here, with some abbreviations. 

The Current eruption of the Bird Flu makes it relevant today as it was then. October 2005.

The first salvo has already been fired, the signs are all over the country and the writing is on the wall, but the full effect begins on 29/1/94, and will last until 7/4/96.

As astrologers, we intuitively feel a little uncomfortable when we think about this oncoming combination, even if we haven't quite experienced it. What good can Malefic Saturn do in the delicate, sensitive, weak sign of Pisces ?

This is going to be a period when the collective and the individual fate meet, and when mundane astrology and the personal one cross roads on the most immediate level of experience. The arena will be in the fields of personal health, public medicine, possibly alternative medicine, hospitals, mental institutions, prisons and people in exile.  The public will find itself grappling with old ghosts of issues we thought we have left behind, and at the same time, new breakthroughs will be made.

Astrologically, we are going to see the manifestations of the recent conjunction of Saturn/Neptune in Capricorn in 1989 -1990, the Uranus/Neptune conjunction in 1992 - 1993, and a bonus from the Pluto in Scorpio period.

Saturn/Neptune/Pisces combinations create situations of chronic conditions and long term illnesses, usually in the respiratory systems, especially in the lungs, such as bronchitis, tuberculosis, lung cancer, asthma, etc.  These become acute when aspecting one of the personal points in the horoscope - Sun, Moon, Mercury, ASC, MC.  In addition to these, we also find situations of mysterious illnesses and viral infections that are hard to diagnose.  Saturn/Mercury/Gemini/3rd House and Neptune/Mercury also create respiratory problems, so when Saturn squares Gemini and opposes Virgo during the Pisces period, these will be awakened too.

The Uranus/Neptune conjunction at 18 Capricorn has been aspecting the (precessed) positions of the Sun-square-Saturn in the U.S.A chart, and are coming, in the next four years to aspect, by semi-square,  the ASC/DESC axis of this chart  (4th July, 1776, 9 Sagittarius rising, 12 precessed).

So the stage is all set, and the Mundane astrologer cannot fail to see all that, as President Clinton is making national affordable health insurance a central goal of his term.

Saturn has already put one foot in the Pisces door when he entered it on 22/5/93, stationing at 0-Pisces-19 on 10/6/93, and another befitting news item was the mysterious viral epidemic among the Native American Indians on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico.  This one claimed lives in a very rapid way, as the victims experienced flu-like symptoms and all of a sudden in a matter of hours, they died from suffocation when their lungs filled with fluid.  Experts from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) were unable to determine the causes and surmised that it might have been spread by rodents.  The story culminated again after the Lunar Eclipse, at 13 Sag 55 on 4/6/93, right on the U.S Ascendant, when the Navajo Indians were advised to avoid their traditional cleansing rituals which had something to do with coming in contact with the soil.  It was also thought that a recent rainy season and the muddy condition of the ground made things worse.  This aroused resentment among the Indians who saw it as an attempt to suppress their cultural values.  (Moon = people.  Sagittarius = traditional cultural values.  The asteroid Vesta was at 7 Pisces.  

Vesta has to do with ethnic identity.  Saturn/Earth + Pisces/Water = mud...)

Another Neptune medical story has come up in the last couple of months, and that is a mysterious eye ailment in Cuba.  This also proves the ancient Ptolomaic rule that the chart of the ruler can be used for the country as a whole.  Fidel Castro was born on 13/8/27 with Sun at 20 Leo conjuct Neptune at 24 Leo, both opposite Moon in late Aquarius.  Sun/ Moon contacts indicate eye problems to begin with, and the Neptune 'influence' weakens and makes it even more problematic.  Now, with Saturn/Pluto affecting these Leo/Aquarius degrees and Mars also spending some time there, the story has come up again.  In an article in the New York Times (12/6/93) it is described as a disorder of the nervous system which first surfaced at the end of 1991, and so far 43,412 people have been diagnosed with it.  The symptoms include painful  muscle spasms, tingling and burning sensation, blurred vision and other senses confused and loss of eyesight.  It is not known to have caused any deaths, and it runs its course in six weeks.  Nearly 10 percent of the patients lost their sight.  Needless to say, the Cuban doctors along with American ones are totally baffled by this and hypotheses run from blaming foreign sabotage to a new mutation of a virus strain, to toxic material in poor food substitutes due to the weak state of Cuba's economy.  Neptune is subversive and always defies correct diagnosis.  In Cuba's Independence-from-Spain chart (10/12/1898) the Sun is conjunct Saturn in Sagittarius, opposite Neptune and Pluto in Gemini.  The Moon is square Mars, which is another indication for eye problems, like surgery, etc.  In another chart (independence from U.S.A 20/5/1902), the Sun is at 28 Taurus trine Saturn at 27 Capricorn, who is in quincunx aspect with Neptune.  The Moon is in Scorpio opposite the Sun.  The cusp of the 6th House (national health) is 1 Aq 08, and that is where Saturn entered in 1991.  The current Saturn station at 0 Pisces is sitting right on top of this chart's DESC.  In a third chart for the Communist regime (2/1/59) the Sun in Capricorn is square the Moon (eyes again), Pisces is on the cusp of the 6th House and the Angles, at 17 of the Cardinal signs are receiving the current Neptune transits.  Apropos Water & Cuba, did you notice the story in the news about the American swimmer that attempted to cross the ocean from Cuba to the Florida Keys, and quit half way (Neptune frustrates & resigns).   Fidel came to see him off personally.

It has been reported several times in the media that some soldiers who served in the Gulf War are complaining of some mysterious flu-like symptoms and skin problems, which, they claim, come from a chemical agent use by the army.  My astrological reasoning is that all those soldiers have strong late Cardinal degrees at Personal Points in their charts, which received at the time the transits of Saturn in late Capricorn, plus the eclipse at 25 Capricorn, at the very start of the war, plus the Neptune/Uranus transits.  The recent station of Mars in Cancer in these degrees has aggravated the symptoms and brought it to the media's attention.

In the last year or so (1992-1993), another medical news item has been coming and going without much public attention (yet), and that is the fact that tuberculosis (TB) is making a comeback.   From a PBS (public TV) Health Quarterly (29/6/93) here are a few facts:  This was a dreaded scourge around the turn of the century, without any real cure.  It was believed that fresh air could help, and people spent years in mountain sanatoriums in hope of getting cured.  The 1930's, before antibiotics, were the height of the sanatorium period.  [Neptune was in Virgo from 10/1928 throughout the 30's, square the ASC in the U.S chart, and Saturn opposed it from Pisces (2/1935 - 12/1937)].  This is a highly infectious disease, but with today's medications it can be arrested.  It is more contagious than AIDS, because it is caused by bacteria that can be transmitted by coughing or simply sharing air-space for a period of time, whereas the AIDS virus does not survive in open air.  It used to be linked with poverty, where people lived in crowded non-hygienic conditions.   In the last 5 years public health officials have recorded a 20% increase in TB cases, especially among the poor and the homeless, and the explanation is that in 1985 the number of cases was so low that the CDC thought the TB menace had finally been eradicated, and withdrew the budget for it.  The current outbreak shows new strains of the bacteria, resistant to the old drugs, and the low immune level among the HIV infected, makes them more vulnerable.  The Saturn/Neptune conjunction of the late 90's seems to have a hand in all this, and the prisons/hospitals connections comes out in the story that an early outbreak of TB was notes in an Upstate New York prison, and a nurse who treated them contracted it herself, and had to undergo surgery to remove part of her lung.   Saturn in Pisces will draw a lot more attention to the TB subject.

It seems that Neptune in Capricorn, the Domicile of Saturn, was enough to bring out 'mysterious diseases'.  Case in point is the CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) which became known in late 1984 early 1985, when Neptune entered Capricorn and Pluto entered Scorpio.  It had the form of an epidemic, breaking out in communities and families, with symptoms that ranged from flu-like to memory loss, sensitivity to light, temporary loss of vision, allergies and skin problems, inability to concentrate, feeling of 'fogginess in the brain', depression, and even as bizarre as patients losing their fingerprints [Neptune has to do with one's identity].  And invariable, profound fatigue that leaves the person totally incapacitated.  In the words of on patient - "I could see myself lying in bed for the rest of my life".  In 1988, when Saturn first entered Capricorn, it was officially recognized by the CDC.  Before that time it was thought to be depression by some, who dismissed it as the 'yuppie flu' of the stressed over-achievers (Capricorn..).  It is also thought to be caused by a virus (yet unidentified) which attacks the immune system and lowers the body's ability to fight the other things.

In the winter of 1918-1919  the world saw one of the great influenza epidemics ever.  

That epidemic struck 1 out of every 4 Americans, killing 548,000 persons in the United States alone and at least 20 million more in the rest of the world.  Saturn was conjunct Neptune in early Leo starting July 1917 and in 1918 Uranus in Aquarius joined in by opposition to Saturn.  Leo operates on a grand scale...   The influenza of 1918-1919 was also named "the swine influenza".  In the fall of 1918 swine influenza (yes, animals get it too) first appeared as a new disease in pigs in the Midwestern United States. Over the next few months millions of animals were sick and tens of thousands died.  A veterinarian noticed the coincidental new illness in humans and pigs and christened it "swine influenza".  To this day, a milder form of swine flu appears in pigs in every state, but particularly in the Midwest.  Scientists concluded that the swine virus, which first appeared in 1918, continued to circulate in humans for another 8 or 10 years.

It is important to note here what I call 'The Delay Effect', especially with the slow and mysterious planets such as Saturn, Neptune and Pluto.  Neptune clearly exemplifies what old astrology called 'invisible, or secret enemies' in relation to Pisces and the 12th House, as it takes time for the subversive destructive action to build up behind the scenes, and by the time the effect is fully known, the damage is already done.  Mars is usually the trigger.  So, I would say that 1917 was incubation and preparation and 1918 was showtime!   It is quite possible that 1989 - 1990 (Saturn/Neptune in Cap) were such a preparation time and the children born then will manifest it later.  It is also my observation that, in the context of mundane astrology, a conjunction does not have to be exact.  It is enough for those Big Ones to be together in the same sign, and the faster moving planet will catch up, sweep through and pick up the qualities/energies of the conjunction as it passes over.

From August 1951 to October 1953 we had a Saturn/Neptune conjunction in Libra.  The mid 50's were medically noted for the Poliomyelitis epidemic in children.  I also personally know a young man born in Germany in 1953, with Saturn/Neptune opposite the Moon in Aries, who had one lung taken out in his teens because of tuberculosis.  I also knew an old lady and a dear friend, a Scorpio from 1906, when Saturn was at 8 Pisces, who also lived with one lung.  This happened when she was 36 years old, and the doctors gave her 6 months to live.

In 1957-1958 there was another world wide epidemic of the Asian Flu, which also caused a great number of deaths world wide.  In December 1957 Saturn (at 18 Sag) was semi-square Neptune (at 3 Scorpio).

In 1968-1969 we had the Hong Kong Flu afflicting more than 50 million Americans.  In October 1967 Saturn (at 7 Aries) was sesqui-quadrate Neptune (at 22 Scorpio).  Saturn was in Pisces from April 1964 to February 1967.  Was that an incubation period ?

In a book called 'A Virus of Love & Other Tales of Medical Detection' by Charles T. Gregg, where I found some of this medical information, there is a true Neptunian story, which might also be called 'Much Ado About Nothing'.  In the winter of 1976 there was an outbreak of influenza at the military base of Fort Dix in New Jersey.  Over 400 recruits had been hospitalized with acute respiratory symptoms and one soldier had died.  There are three classes of flu viruses, A, B and C.  Type C is the common one and type A is the more dangerous one.  Laboratory tests were confusing (another Neptune effect...) and did not show decided results as to which type the Fort Dix cases were.  Later investigation revealed that 230 of them were of the notorious type A swine flu form 1918-1919.  This started a big scare and scientists met to discuss the problem.  Was it an isolated outbreak or the start of a deadly epidemic?  Nobody was quite sure and the news soon leaked out to the press.  If the threat was real then mass vaccination would have to be undertaken.  Dr. David Spencer, the director of the CDC, was persuaded by the arguments and presented an "action memo" to President Gerald Ford, recommending that every one of Americans 213 million people be vaccinated against swine flu.  That was a risky and costly ($135 million) decision, since there was no assurance that the actual epidemic would break out, but the memory of 1918-1919 was too strong to ignore.  Even though some scientists voiced a different opinion, the prestige of others had the upper hand and President Ford announced his support for the NIIP (National Influenza Immunization Program).  Critics questioned whether it was logistically possible to complete such an undertaking by next fall which is flu season, but Congress approved and the President signed the bill.  The WHO (world Health Organization) saw no need to do the same and the American media said the same openly, but development of the immunization program rolled on.

The astrological truth is that collectively, the whole country was "under the influence" of Neptune, who, at 13 Sagittarius, had been sitting on the ASC/DESC of the U.S.A, opposite Mars, since the beginning of 1975, demonstrating on a national scale, or at least at the government level, medical public health issues, confusion, not knowing what to believe, not being realistic, and taking inflated monetary steps.  Let's not forget that the U.S.A chart has Neptune square Mars, so mass confusion or acting under a false premise, or fear of infection is a "natal promise".

Needless to say, the dreaded swine flu did not make an appearance and Neptune proved to be the mirage he always is.  Another astrological 'beauty' was on the financial side.  Transiting Uranus all that time was around (station) 7 Scorpio in the U.S.A 2nd House, conjunct the South Node at 6 Scorpio, signifying (for our purpose here) fear of mortality, other people's money, life insurance and the national bank account, and not in the least, computers.  So the story goes that in mid June 1976 the four major pharmaceutical companies, who were furiously engaged in mass producing the vaccines, were told by their insurance companies that their computer actuary models statistically predicted liability claims in the billions of dollars, resulting from inevitable incidence of vaccination side effects, which could not be insured against.  The drug companies turned to Washington who eventually agreed to foot that bill too.  With many neptunian twists and turns, not the least one being the production of the wrong type of vaccine, this came to an end in December 1976, when cases of paralysis as a result of the swine flu vaccine became known, and the NIIP was suspended and never revived again.

In  the book 'Mundane Astrology' Charles Harvey shows the significance of the Saturn/Neptune cycle in the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and its connection to President John F. Kennedy.  JFK had an out-of-sign conjunction of Saturn(27 Cancer)/Neptune(2 Leo) in the 10th House, and Pisces on the cusp of the 6th House.  Neptune in semi-square to Venus ruler of Ascendant.   Beside its political connotation, the medical significance also showed in Kennedy's chronic severe back problems, for which he had to take heavy doses of medication.

The combination of Saturn in Pisces and the Uranus/Neptune conjunction reminds me of an observation that Charles E.O. Carter made about Uranus/Neptune in his 'Introduction To Political Astrology', 1951.  He says: "Not only do these celestial events coincide closely in time with events in the world at large, but they also reproduce their values as those born under them grow to adult manhood and take their part in national affairs....Pasteur, for instance, had this conjunction with the Sun, Mercury and Venus".   Can we hope for a medical (Neptune) discovery (Uranus) in our generation, which God knows we need, or do we have to wait until a baby born now, with these combinations in her natal horoscope, grows up and makes such a discovery ?

In the meantime, here are a few more Saturn/Pisces/Neptune/Water medical and mundane manifestations to watch for, especially during Saturn Stations:

Wrong medical diagnoses discussed in public. New/mutated virus strains discovered - already mentioned in the media for the 93/94 flu season. 

Mud slides, inundation of river banks and floods.  Right after these words were written (26/6/93) the Mississippi river made its big showing, flooding vast areas and causing great economic damage.  This was aggravate by the opposition of Mars from Virgo (=Economy. =Sand bags & earth levees).  It is said to be the worst flood since 1965 (Saturn was in Pisces).   The state of Ohio, where a lot of the damage occurred, has North-Node, MC, Pluto and the Sun in early Pisces, opposite Saturn at 17 Virgo.

Health care system will get on the national agenda.

Saturn in Pisces will certainly awaken other human experiences and realize many dreams, which may be less depressing and more elevating than just health problems, but I believe in the adage that "what you don't know will kill you", even if it is unpleasant to think about.