When Can We Expect Good Data? Mercury and COVID-19
When analyzing the astrology around the COVID-19 outbreak, most of us astrologers have been focusing – rightly – on the big planetary players, especially the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn that was exact in January 2020.
But all of the planets at any moment in time are worth looking at. They color the details of any breaking news, especially news that impacts the entire globe so quickly. They give us nuance, or alert us to trigger moments, or moments of change or new energy in the context of the longer emerging story.
In this post (and short video) I want to focus on Mercury, because its movement correlates with key details about how this story has been unfolding, especially in regards to Mercury-ruled dynamics like the spread of information, scientific testing and research, and messaging, whether from governments, the media or people sharing with each other over social media.
If you reflect back on the last couple of months (February and March 2020), would you say that information has been clear and presented objectively? Has it been easy access factual data – or any data for that matter? Do we have all the data needed to make the best decisions? Has there been a predominance of misinformation and confusion?
The answers to those questions lead us into Mercury territory. But before we get there, let’s rewind to the beginning of this timeline, at least based on the information I was able to source today April 1, 2020, with details referenced from The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, in addition to reporting from sciencemag.org and NPR.
On Dec 31, China reported to WHO about a number of serious pneumonia cases with no known cause.
At least one day before that, a doctor in China who had been treating the cases, now called a whistleblower, tried to share the info within his social circles.
Let’s stop here and look at the astrology. Because this is the moment that the info gets “out there” so to speak. This isn’t the moment someone first contracted the virus, or when they passed it on to someone else. It’s the moment when we became aware that there was a problem and when someone in the local situation started to alert others, and also when the government made an official announcement about it. In other words, the information came into awareness and was shared. This happened right when Mercury entered Capricorn on December 30. But just a few days before, on December 23, Mercury had just entered the peak of its declination cycle. You might know this described as being “out of bounds”.
Mercury’s time out of bounds is somewhat irregular. Sometimes it hits the peak of its cycle for just a few days at a time. This time, Mercury remained at its peak from December 23, 2019 through January 12, 2020. That’s almost three weeks.
So when the first cases of this virus were announced publicly, Mercury was not only in Capricorn – the sign of the forming Saturn-Pluto conjunction, but also at its peak.
When planets are out of bounds, they are operating from a place of extremes in terms of their declination cycle, so we can translate the astronomy into meaning and see that planets at the peak of their declination cycle often express in people and world events as extremes or with maximum intensity.
Noting the timing of this announcement – remember, the announcement is Mercury’s domain – we already see that there’s something out of the ordinary going on here with COVID-19.
Mercury goes out of bounds for a few days every year, usually twice, spaced a few months apart, but sometimes three times. It’s a little less frequent than Mercury retrograde, and doesn’t last as long, but it’s still an annual event. So while this technique can describe events, it’s perhaps best applied in the CONTEXT of the larger cycles it’s unfolding in to reveal more nuance about those bigger or longer stories.
In this case, with Mercury out of bounds in the context of the nearly exact Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn, with Mercury in the same sign, we have a signature worth paying attention to. And in fact, without looking at Mercury here, we’re missing key details. For instance, since Mercury was at peak declination at the time of China’s announcement, we could have known instantly with the astrological timing that this story was worth paying attention to, that we might be looking at the start of something extreme.
On the positive side, Mercury at its peak declination can correlate with extremes of Mercury’s positive attributes. My favorite example is the WWII codebreaker Alan Turing, whose amped up Mercury at peak declination helped him crack the Enigma code, which changed the course of the war. Mercury at its peak is in hyper-drive. This doesn’t mean everyone with Mercury out of bounds is a genius computer scientist. The unique way YOUR Mercury expresses is intensified when at its peak. You might be a prolific gossip or truth-bender, for instance. It’s up to you to make choices about how you express your chart.
In terms of this outbreak, we see Mercury at its peak at play in the speed at which the COVID-19 virus was sequenced – I’ve read that this is the fastest example we have of that process from discovery to sequencing. China identified the sequence on January 5 and announced it to WHO on the 7th. So the timing of the announcement through the sequencing all took place with Mercury at its peak. In this case, it seems like a blessing that Mercury spent a bit longer there.
While the news of COVID-19 began to spread, and the gravity of the situation started to come into consciousness, Saturn and Pluto were forming their exact conjunction. Mercury was still in Capricorn through January 17, when it changed signs into Aquarius. As I watched that part of the cycle, I was hopeful that we’d make some progress scientifically, and aware that we’d have a short window to do so, because just a couple of weeks later Mercury would change signs.
It was during this time that we started to get some usable information. On January 20, China confirmed human-to-human transmission for the first time, and the next day WHO confirmed that. Authorities were fast at work deciding whether this constituted an international public health emergency.
On Feb. 3, just before Mercury entered Pisces, China began its first drug trial of an antiviral drug’s effectiveness on the virus. More on that later.
Meanwhile, in the United States and elsewhere, things were about to get complicated. After Mercury entered Pisces, which is great for writing poetry or conveying your thoughts through a song, our access to clear information and ease of communication was altered. Mercury in Pisces is great at nonlinear communication, but not as awesome at objectivity or clarity. Every signature has its gifts, but the timing was pretty awful for a pandemic to be spreading across the globe as Mercury entered Pisces and retrograded. This meant that not only would we’d spend the crucial beginnings of a global response to the pandemic with a mushy subjective Mercury, but a retrograde cycle naturally extends a planet’s time in that sign, this was the extended-play version.
And things got weird… it was hard to get a clear picture of what was happening. China’s government isn’t known for being especially forthcoming and transparent, and politics began to color all communications coming from there.
In the US, at first the party line, as reported on national news media, was this the outbreak was a liberal hoax designed to hurt the re-election campaign of the president and that we had it under control and it would blow over quickly. At least one of the key media figures putting out that false and dangerous message on Fox news has since been taken off the air.
The US president, a Gemini, and therefore prone to changing course often, did just that. It’s what he does. It’s what every Gemini does. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Gemini mutability can be a gift in a leader when that flexibility is used to pivot to a new, objectively better solution, or respond in the moment based on the most up-to-date information. But this president has Mercury in a subjective water sign, Cancer, and also out of bounds. His communications are often described as “off the wall” and with a square between his Mercury and Neptune, we also find multiple websites fact-checking his so-called “alternate truths.”
Adding to this, astrologically in this time we’ve been in Mercury-in-Pisces land, where rainbow unicorns run free and facts turn into toadstools before our eyes.
So it was no surprise when we learned that the most important tool for getting factual data about an emerging pandemic – the testing – was not only hard to come by, but getting access was mired in misinformation and confusion on the part of governments, not just in the United States, but in other countries too. Not only were we unprepared for this, as Bill Gates warned us four years ago in a TED talk, we were trying to get prepared while feeling our way through a fog of disarray and disorder, trying to decipher the little bits of objective data we could get, without ever having the whole picture. And what did we do? Well, Saturn and Pluto made their conjunction in Capricorn, so we panicked. Our fear went through the roof, because it was a fear of death, one of the biggest motivators. And all of this was for good reason. As the news of Italy began to hit, the world finally started to get the dark and sobering picture. The virus was out there, and it was soon to be everywhere, if it wasn’t already.
Mercury went retrograde in Pisces on February 17, and dipped back into Aquarius on March 5, stationing direct on March 10th. This extra time in Aquarius gave us another window of a few days to get ahead of the curve, at least in terms of data and science, until Mercury went back into Pisces March 17 where it stays until April 11. Yikes, that’s a lot more Pisces when we’re all yearning for the very thing Mercury in Pisces can’t easily deliver: usable objective data.
That brings us to the present moment, and the reason I’m writing this post (and preparing this Youtube video). Because a change is just around the corner.
Today is April 1, and things are going to get a little more wonky with Mercury before they get better. Mercury is applying to conjunct Neptune as we speak, and that aspect will be strongest between now and April 5 or so. The exact aspect is on the 4th, and it starts to separate then. Here’s what I’ll say about Mercury conjunct Neptune in Pisces – multiply everything I said about Mercury in Pisces by about 10 unicorns. Plus, I predict you’ll be binging Netflix even more than you have been.
The good news? Mercury enters Aries on April 11, not a day too soon. Aries is associated with speed, and Mercury will be moving faster itself. I predict new information will start coming in faster, innovative ideas will emerge, supply chains of needed testing kits and PPE supplies for caregivers may ramp up in speed and become more available. When we finally have easy access to testing and it becomes widespread, we’ll be able to discern what’s actually been happening and finally make truly informed decisions.
Coincident with this timing, drug trials that have been under way will start producing usable data. The first results from the study I mentioned earlier – on an antiviral called remdesivir – should be available later in April. And there are others in the works.
By the time Mercury moves into Taurus on April 28, my hope is that we’ve made enough speedy progress in the last half of April that we can then shift into a period of practical choices based on grounded information. The pandemic will be far from over, and who knows how this will all unfold long-term – we’re still in Mercury in Pisces, and it’s anyone’s guess. But as we start to get more accurate data, we’ll know a lot more than we do now. Until then, be safe and overly cautious my friends, and take good care.
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