Saturday, August 29, 2009

Venus Morningstar: Harbinger of Illness?

As I mentioned in my previous post, the A-H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic has been the source of intense scrutiny and commentary for the past five months. I decided to compare the charts of the last major pandemic, The Spanish Flu of 1918, to see if there were any similar astrological configurations that might reveal if this one will be as severe.

When I first compared the charts of the onset of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic (3/3/1918, Fort Riley KS) with that of the 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic (March 28, 2009, Mexico City), I started by looking at the positions of Rahu and Ketu as they are traditionally the prime indicator of epidemics. I had to include the outer planets in this exploration to make the most basic connections.

In the 1918, Ketu was placed in Gemini, which rules the lungs, within 5 degrees of Pluto, the Western astrological archetype for death and mass disease. In 2009 Rahu was transiting the sign of Capricorn with a debilitated Jupiter, ruler of the lymphatic and circulatory systems. Other than Pluto being in the opposite sign of the previous pandemic, I must admit, I was kind of disappointment that there weren't bigger indicators of mass disease and global death in the 1918 chart, or connections to the 2009 chart that might indicate a similar pattern.

That was until I looked more closely at the 2009 chart that featured a debilitated Mercury with a retrograding Venus in Pisces, also debilitated. Suddenly it became clear. Both outbreaks began while Venus was retrograde in the Morningstar position.

The planet Venus has been referred to as the Morningstar or Evenstar for thousands of years. Because it is closer to the sun than the earth is, it can never appear very far from the sun in the sky. In other words, when the sun sets in the evening it might be in the west, near the sun as an evening star; or it could be in the morning sky before sunrise, again, near the sun. A Venus cycle describes her retrograde patterns that bring the planet into what's called combustion with the Sun. During this time Venus disappears from view on the earth for approximately 40 days. Many ancient skywatching cultures interpreted its disappearance as a shamanic journey to the underworld.

The 1918 outbreak officially began the day after she went stationary direct, ie as she re-emerged from the journey to the underworld. The 2009 outbreak officially started in March, but made headlines as President Obama was in Mexico during the height of the scare, the day before Venus went stationary direct. The similarity is intriguing.

In Vedic astrology Venus is considered a benefic and represents artistic talents, the quality of the body and material life, wealth, the opposite sex, pleasure and reproduction, feminine qualities and music and dance. So how could this sweet influence be a harbinger of illness?

In Hindu mythology Venus is called Shukra, the son of the great seer Bhrigu who was an astrologer that taught Venus all of the spiritual sciences and scriptures. According to Vedic tradition Venus is the preceptor, or teacher, of the asuras, demons or lost souls. The word asura is derived from the root Asu, meaning 'to breath' or 'to be'. According to the Bhagavad Gita (16.6), all beings in the Universe partake either of the divine qualities (Daivi Sampad = suras) or the demonic qualities (Asuri Sampad = asuras).

Hindu mythology is filled with stories of how the Suras and the Asuras were engaged in a grand battle of light vs dark, like the clash of the giant Titans and lesser gods. Asuras are often described as snakes, like the north node Rahu who was separated from his body Ketu by Vishnu.

It is the same archetype that is found in early Christian legends concerning the battle fought in Heaven between the spirits of Light and the spirits of Darkness. According to Rudolph Steiner, the Asuras were retarded Beings of the Hierarchy of the Archai. They are Beings who instead of furthering man's progress to independence, lure him into gross egoism.

But what if the Asuras refer not only to snakes and unself-conscious demons, but to unconscious cells or lifeforms, like a virus. A virus infects a host cell much like a demon possesses a host body. The word stems from the Latin virus referring to poison and other noxious substances, the nectar of the asuras.

Coincidentally I had been researching Venus cycles in relation to the Mayan calendar when I look more closely at the eight year cycle associated with her dancing orbit and retrograde patterns as viewed from the Earth. Venus appears to circle the earth in the shape of a star or pentagram.

Over 8 years Venus dances around the sun making 5 retrogrades. She begins her retrograde motion as the evening star, eventually disappearing behind the sun in a shamanic journey that tranforms her into to the morning star. This phenomenon was observed by ancient sky-watchers and mystics, and became the basis of many myths involving death and resurrection. Christians, Mayans, and Hindus all describe the return of the morning star as symbolic of the return of their teachers.

Greek astrologers called the morning phase of Venus Lucifer (the light bearer) and the evening phase Hesperus (setting in the West).

The Babylonians called Venus the double-phased Ishtar -- the morning star of war and the evening star of love. According to mythological lore, as the evening star of love, Ishtar travels down to the underworld to bring back her lover Tammuz. After a terrifying ordeal, she is returned to the land of the living because the other gods cannot abide even their utopian existence without a goddess of love. Ishtar returns to reign as the Queen of Heaven, though without her lover, Tammuz.

The Sumerian goddess Inanna, is an even earlier Venus archetype. Inanna had to journey to the underworld where she was trapped and rendered naked and defenseless. Only by her cunning and strength does she gain release. Sumerian priests composed hymns in honor of the planet which they venerated as Inanna: To her who appears in the sky, to her who appears in the sky, I want to address my greeting, to the hierodule who appears in the sky, I want to address my greeting, to the great queen of heaven, Inanna, I want to address my greeting, to her who fills the sky with her pure blaze, to the luminous one, to Inanna, as bright as the sun, to the great queen of heaven.

They also described her frightening power: To provoke shivers of fright, panic, trembling, and terror before the halo of your fearsome splendor, that is your nature, oh Inanna.

The Mesoamericans linked the morning phase of Venus with Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, believing that this was a time when leaders are struck down and natural disasters occur.

Venus as disaster-bringer was chronicled by Bernardino de Sahagun, a Franciscan friar:

And when it [Venus] newly emerged, much fear came over them; all were frightened. Everywhere the outlets and opening of [houses] were closed up. It was said that perchance the [light] might bring a cause of sickness, something evil when it came to emerge.

Some researchers suggest that Venus' association with dire portents and tales of apocalyptic disaster was due to an ancient astronomical event in which the planet Venus actually caused a cataclysm that was imprinted on the memory of ancient man. In her book The Many Faces of Venus The Planet Venus in Ancient Myth and Religion, Ev Cochrane writes that she believes that there is evidence that Venus only recently moved on a much different orbit, cavorting with Mars and raining fire from heaven. She asks as profound question. Is it is possible that modern astronomers, in neglecting the ancient folklore surrounding the respective planets, have overlooked a vital clue to the recent history of the solar system?

Venus will remain the morningstar until January 13, 2010 when she becomes combust with the sun and transforms into the evening star, goddess of love. Perhaps in this position, she will at last return to her pleasurable pursuits and inspire more joy and happiness -- the ultimate viral protection -- in the hearts of men.


Fall Astro Weather -- Stormy

The Swine Flu A(H1N1) pandemic is one of the major headlines of 2009. Initially the media hype distracted our attention away from the depressed economy and instead created a worldwide health panic on which to focus.

From the beginning, the media's coverage only heightened the hysteria as we watched Mexico City close down for a week; Australia tell its citizens to stock up food and supplies for 14 days; Egypt order the slaughter of the country's 300,000 pigs; conspiracy theorists suggest the swine flu virus was genetically engineered by bioterrorists and would be used to create fear and mandatory vaccination; and in the US, school closures, overwhelmed emergency rooms, and consumer runs on hand sanitizers and flu remedies occurred throughout the month of May. Finally on June 11, 2009 the WHO declared the first pandemic at level 6 in 41 years.

The latest World Health Organization (WHO) headline suggests that the A-H1N1 pandemic will persist in the coming months, and that the North Hemisphere should prepare for the second wave. Last week, the White House unveiled a grim report estimating the swine flu will wipe out up to 90,000 Americans in the coming months.

However the head of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden disputes the White House findings as he said in a CSPAN interview: "Everything we've seen in the U.S. and everything we've seen around the world suggests we won't see that kind of number if the virus doesn't change."

Frieden's downgrading of the swine flu threat marks yet another volley in what appears to be a growing battle between the CDC and the White House's top medical advisors over the dangers of the next wave of the A-H1N1 virus. Could pharmaceutical companies with stakes in the vaccine business be pressuring the White House to heighten the threat?

Perhaps it is because the US is going to dump its expiring Tamiflu stock. The US is scheduled to dispose of billions of dollars of Tamiflu stock that was purchased back in 2005 to counter a predicted avian flu that never happened. At that time the US government ordered 20 million doses, costing $2 billion.

Moreover, Tamiflu’s manufacturer, Roche, has confirmed that the shelf life of its anti-viral is three years. Isn't it convenient that it now may be put to use before it expires? On April 27, 2009 Homeland Security declared a health emergency and released 25 percent of 50 million doses -- about 12 million doses -- of Tamiflu and Relenza treatment courses from the nation's stockpile. However, Tamiflu has been reported to be ineffective against seasonal flu outbreaks, and may not be sufficient to combat an epidemic or pandemic. Even worse, some patients with influenza are at higher risk for secondary bacterial infections when on Tamiflu. And secondary bacterial infections, were likely the real cause of the mass fatalities during the 1918 pandemic!

An astrological assessment of this ongoing threat reveals some very intriguing and intense patterns. This fall is going to be extremely challenging with many planets spending time in their signs of debilitation.

September 2009
September begins with Mercury, the ruler of commerce, communication, and travel in its sign of exhaltation, Virgo. It stations on September 7 and retrogrades from Virgo back to Leo at the end of September. When an exhalted planet is in retrograde motion it loses some of its strength. As Mercury rules the lungs, skin and nervous system it is considered the first line of defense of the immune system. The first case of Swine Flu surfaced in mid-March when Mercury was debilitated traveling with an exalted Venus in retrograde motion, making them both debilitated. In fact, with Jupiter in Capricorn, all the benefic planets were debilitated at that time. By the end of September Mercury will regain its strength, as it travels forward with Saturn in Virgo as an auspicious pairing for improvement in business and focused money management.

October 2009
This window of focused economic activity will quickly be challenged when Venus joins them on October 10th. Although Venus is debilitated in Virgo, she gains a little strength traveling with Mercury in Virgo as this exalted planet raises her up. When Mercury enters Libra on October 24, the two benefics will be in mutual exchange, again cancelling Venus' debilitation.

However, there are more debilitated planets in October. On October 5, 2009 Mars will enter its sign of debilitation, Cancer, and remain there until May 27, 2010. The most malefic time of the month will occur around October 9th when Mars conjoins Ketu, the south node. Mars rules the blood, and Ketu rules epidemics, unpredictable disease, hard to treat conditions, hysteria, and conditions resulting from poisonings. Ketu has a fiery nature and when combined with Mars may indicate a sudden onset of fever and inflammation, or perhaps a cytokine storm. It is believed that cytokine storms were responsible for many of the deaths during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed a disproportionate number of young adults. In this case, a healthy immune system may have been a liability rather than an asset. Recent reports of high mortality among healthy young adults in the 2009 swine flu outbreak has led to speculation that cytokine storms could be responsible for these deaths.

Next Jupiter, ruler of the lymphatic system, will go stationary direct on October 13 and return to its full debilitation opposite the Mars-Ketu conjunction. If that weren't enough, the Sun, the ruler of vitality, makes its yearly visit to its sign of debilitation, Libra, between October 17 - November 16.

Wow. So what do we do if a healthy immune system is a liability? Prevention. I still believe that the key to preventing illness is maintaining strong cellular walls with flax and fish oils and/or reducing inflammatory levels with gluten-free and nightshade-free diets. Raw garlic is one of the best antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal foods you can eat. Avoid sugar as is raises the insulin level inhibiting the release of growth hormones, thereby depressing the immune system. And I would avoid anything that increases cytokine activity like Elderberry extract.

And express your feelings, make time for meditation, and find what truly makes you happy. According to psychoneuroimmunology proponents like Candace Pert:

Viruses use the same receptors as neuropeptides to enter into a cell. Depending how much of the natural peptide for a particular receptor is around and available to bind, the virus that fits that receptor will have an easier or harder time getting into the cell. As the molecules of emotion are involved in the process of a virus entering a cell, it seems logical to assume that the state of our emotions will affect whether or not we succumb to viral infection. Presumably what happens is that when you're happy, the virus can't enter the cell because the norepinephrine blocks all the potential virus receptors. (from The Molecules of Emotion)

Next post: Venus Morningstar: Harbinger of Illness?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Astro Weather September 2009

Full Moon September 4, 2009
September begins with a full moon in Aquarius opposite the ruler of Aquarius, Saturn in Leo. This Aquarian moon occurs in the twenty-fourth nakshatra, Shatabhisha which means "the hundred physicians" or "hundred healers". It may also be translated as "the hundred flowers" indicating the knowledge of herbs and other flower remedies. The number 100 refers to the collection of stars belonging to this asterism, each representing one physician/medicine/herb/flower.

The symbol for Shatabhisha is an empty circle, and the deity associated with this nakshatra is Varuna, the god of rain and cosmic waters. As he presided over the waters of heaven and of the ocean and was a guardian of immortality, Varuṇa was one of the most important deities of the ancient Indo-Aryans. In 2000 a potential dwarf planet located in the outer circle of our solar system, the Kuiper Belt, was named after Varuna.

The significance of the circle refers to cycles of all kinds: the cycle of life and death, the cycle of day and night, or a trip around the zodiac. An empty circle implies a boundary around space, perhaps like a cell wall? A circle is also used to set the boundaries for sacred space in which healing work may be done under its protection, like a medicine wheel. Thus a circle may also conceal and hide things, which may explain why Shatabhisha is also known as the "veiling star". The mystery of crop circles is that their meaning is often hidden in the geometric designs within the circle. Shatabhisha is ruled by Rahu and thus has a shadow side. Its secretive nature may veil or distort information for selfish purposes. It gains power by keeping its wisdom hidden.

During this full moon, it might be wise to draw your own magic circle and make space for meditation. Shatabhisha is connected with the crown chakra (baihui, Du 20 in acupuncture means 100 Convergences), which is a portal to higher levels of consciousness.

It is a perfect time to explore these realms in solitude. It is not a great time to go out if your immune system is weak and the membrane/circle of your cellular walls are not intact. According to ancient Vedic seers chronic illnesses contracted under the moon in Shatabhisha may require "a hundred physicians" to heal them.

Saturn changes sign from Leo to Virgo on September 9, 2009 For the past two and a half years Saturn has been traveling in the stellar fields of the sign of Leo. As anyone with a Leo moon, sun or ascendant will tell you, this is not a happy transit. Saturn's cold and constricting nature puts out the lively enthusiasm of sunny Leo leaving a lot of disappointment and disillusionment in its wake. Even Saturn's beautiful rings have temporarily disappeared from view.

The good news is that Virgo is a friendly sign for the somber giant. Saturn does well in this earth sign that rules perfection, service, and practical design. Saturn in Virgo is focused and analytical, and may inspire those working in the health and banking fields to reassess and restructure current practices in favor of something practical, productive and perfect. However, as Saturn spends two and a half years in a sign, it may take a couple of years before any new policy is actually in place and in effect. Saturn is the chart ruler for the US Scorpionic chart, and where it transits usually indicates where national attention and energy will be focused. It will spend the next two years transiting the 8th house that rules sex, death, chronic illness, debt, and taxes -- as if we haven't already been focusing on these subjects. Saturn promises to heal these areas. With a little hard work and patience the nation will feel revitalized in two and a half years when Saturn finally makes it to its sign of exhaltation -- in Libra -- in 2012.

Future posts:
Mercury retrograde: 9/7/09 - 9/29/09
Venus, Happiness and Immunity
Fall Equinox occurs on September 22, 2009