From September 1918 to June 1919, 675,000 Americans died of influenza and pneumonia. This epidemic took more lives than World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. It was the worst flu epidemic to that point in time. Now so-called Avian Flu is much in the news. Will there be another influenza pandemic?
Saturn-Neptune and Epidemics
Looking for an astrological signature indicating such epidemics, Saturn-Neptune conjunctions and oppositions emerge. More specifically, it has been when Saturn was in Leo conjunct or opposite Neptune that the most devastating epidemics have hit. Saturn in Leo conjunct or opposite Neptune are rare occurrences. One has to search back to the 1600s to find the previous instance—and it coincided with the black plague that decimated Europe in the 1680s. During 1918 and 1919, Saturn and Neptune were conjunct in Leo when the first wave of illness hit the USA, and during the worst of this epidemic (August 1918) Saturn moved opposite the USA’s natal Moon at 18 Aquarius.
Of course we cannot blame Saturn, Neptune, the Moon or any other planet, luminary or asteroid for this or any other calamity. And we must remember that many good things came out of the 1918-1919 Saturn-Neptune conjunction, among them recognition of women’s civil right to vote. Progress often grows from challenging planetary angles. We may meet and overcome the Asian Flu danger now looming.
Now, with Saturn in Leo and Neptune in the opposition sign of Aquarius, health care professionals are fearful of Avian Flu spreading from infected chickens and other birds. This strain appears as virulent, or more so, than the one which took so many lives in 1918-1919. Researchers around the world are working hard (Saturn) to solve this mysterious (Neptune) problem.
Saturn moved into Leo in July 2005 and will be there until September 2007. Neptune will not move out of Aquarius into Pisces until April 2011. Their current opposition will make direct hits on August 31, 2006; February 28 and June 25, 2007. They will be within orb of opposition through most of 2006 and 2007.
Since the worst of the 1918 epidemic occurred when Saturn moved opposite the US Moon, it’s worth noting that Saturn will make direct oppositions to the US Moon on September 2, 2006, and April 14 and 25 of 2007. Note in the biwheel chart that during the summer of 2006 Saturn and Neptune will be within 1-degree orb of exact, with Saturn opposite the US Moon and Neptune conjunct. By August 31, 2006, Saturn will be at 17 Leo, opposite the USA’s Moon at 18 Aquarius, with Neptune conjunct the USA’s Moon at 17 Aquarius. As this opposition is forming and becoming exact, chances of another epidemic increase, based on past history.
The 36-Year Saturn-Neptune Cycle
The Saturn-Neptune opposition occurs in cycles averaging 36 years. The two previous ones made direct hits during 1971-1972, and 1936-1937. Conjunctions of Saturn-Neptune occur in the same rhythm as oppositions, the previous occurring in 1989 and 1953. This suggests that when Saturn is not in Leo conjunct or opposition Neptune, there is little danger of a devastating epidemic. It’s when Saturn is in Leo and also conjunct or opposite Neptune that the worst epidemics in the past few centuries have occurred.
To find a major epidemic previous to 1918, we must search back to 1683. Saturn was then at 27 degrees of Leo opposite Neptune in Aquarius. At that time, Europe was hit by the black plague. In Vienna alone, 76,000 perished, a large percentage of the population back then.
What was happening in the Americas in 1683? Newcomers from Europe were reporting that the “new world” was a vast wilderness very thinly populated. Explorers came upon towns and villages with no living people in them. An epidemic had raced through the native population before the newcomers arrived. Archeological finds during the 20th and 21st centuries indicate that over 100 million Native Americans had perished from various imported diseases to which they lacked immunity. That’s why newcomers from Europe found this continent so lightly populated. In the centuries leading up to Columbus’ discovery, the Western Hemisphere had been more densely populated than Europe, with cities larger than those in Europe at the time. A series of plagues devastated Native Americans from 1492 through the 1600s.(1)
Europeans had built up a natural immunity to influenza, smallpox, typhoid and other diseases. The people of the Western Hemisphere had built up immunity to indigenous viruses, but not to imported strains.
Flu viruses are something like migrating nations of microscopic creatures. These clusters or communities of viruses can “drift” or “shift” as they travel. The most dangerous flu viruses are categorized as A and B types. B Type viruses spread from human to human. A Type viruses are found in a variety of animals: ducks, chickens, pigs, whales, etc. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control:
|Influenza viruses can change in two different ways. One is called antigenic drift. These are small changes in the virus that happen continually over time. Antigenic drift produces new virus strains that may not be recognized by the body’s immune system...This is why a person can get the flu more than one time.
And why flu vaccines are continually updated to battle new strains. Someone inoculated against one strain of flu may be vulnerable to a strain that has resulted from the shift or drift phenomenon. In other words, viruses struggle to adapt and survive much the way humans and other creatures do.
Saturn in Leo
A conventional astrological reading of Saturn in Leo uses words like “determined” and “creative” to suggest a struggle to express and be recognized. Saturn, on the other hand, has to do with obstacles, difficulties and overcoming them. Leo has to do with prominent entities and leaders, and when Saturn moves through Leo, such people face new problems—or problems that were until then unrecognized—and are in danger of being toppled from prominence or political power.
Saturn-Neptune conjunctions and oppositions combine the Saturnian urge to systemize and logically construct with Neptune’s influence, which is amorphous and creates doubt or illusions and/or delusions. “Practical Saturn follows directions. Dreamy Neptune wanders around without a plan. Together, they create a focused imagination—or demonstrate a complete inability to get organized.”(2)
Saturn in Leo frustrates our usual determination and creativity on a subtle level of awareness, thus making us more vulnerable to viruses such as Influenza Type A. Meanwhile, Type A flu viruses struggle by “drifting and shifting” to overcome Saturnian restrictions. Flu bugs are believed to migrate from birds to animals to humans. In Leo, either conjunct or opposite Neptune, Saturn’s discipline is undermined by Neptune’s amorphousness. Because the flu bug is ever shifting and drifting, developing inoculations to protect people is an iffy business.
Back in the 1960s I developed an interest in herbal medicine and have used Goldenseal root, ground to a powder, to purify the blood and thus help the immune system. I know of no scientific evidence that Golden Seal root protects against flu viruses, but if you sprinkle it on a cut, you will see that it coagulates the blood and definitely promotes healing. Goldenseal’s Sun-yellow color suggests it’s Leo-related. It is often combined with Echinacea and sold as a cold preventative or remedy.
1. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann, Knopf, 2005.
Remembering that the worst of the 1918 flu epidemic hit in August of that year, the Saturn-Neptune opposition of the summer of 2006, with both hitting the US Moon, is likely to be when the present so-called Avian Flu may do its worst. If it comes in two waves as the epidemic of 1918 did, the first wave could arrive early in 2006, to be followed by a climactic wave in August.
2. Astrology for Dummies, by Rae Orion, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 1999.