As I write this article the world is gripped in lockdown where normal life has been suspended. This is against a backdrop of fatalities attributable to the coronavirus pandemic. It is widely recognised that a ‘new normal’ is developing that is very different from the world we knew just a few months ago, but which already seems like another age. How has this come about? Where are we going?
Jyotish (Vedic astrology) uses a system that is different to western astrology in as much as we take the sideral position of the 7 visible ‘grahas’ (or planets) set against the starry night sky of the zodiac, rather than the tropical positions. Hence at the moment, the Sun is at 19 degrees of Aries whereas tropical western astrology would place the Sun in Taurus at around 13 degrees. In traditional Jyotish, the 3 outer planets (Pluto, Uranus and Neptune) are not used, although these planets are increasingly being studied particularly in the worlds of mundane & financial astrology, where influences on mass psychology can be discerned.
The starting point for an understanding of Jyotish is based on 2 fundamental concepts familiar to Theosophists:-
- We are subject to the laws of karma, and
- We re-incarnate to work through our karmas to learn spiritual lessons that eventually lead to moksha, or final liberation from the cycles of birth and re-birth
The planets move around the 12 signs of the zodiacal belt at varying speeds. Jyotish employs the 2 luminaries, Sun and the Moon, plus Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, plus the 2 shadow planets, namely Rahu (the north or ascending node of the Moon), and Ketu (the south or descending node of the Moon). The position of these 9 grahas at our moment of birth – or at the birth of a new country or the birth of a new company or business – forms a blueprint of our karmas to be experienced in our life. The 2 nodes Rahu and Ketu form a karmic axis (exactly 180 degrees apart and always retrograde in traditional Jyotish) that sweeps around the zodiac, creating major issues in the natal chart and by transit.
Planets and their multiple conjunctions together move in cycles of time. These cycles may be relatively short or may encompass various spans of time beyond the imagination of mankind. In the current period we can see that a number of cycles have coincided in portions of the zodiac (specifically in the signs Sagittarius and Capricorn) that have unfortunate consequences for the human race in 2019-20.
We will focus on 4 main themes to examine the current pandemic:-
- The significance of the solar eclipse in Sagittarius on 26 December 2019
- The significance of the Rahu-Ketu transit in Gemini and Sagittarius
- The affliction or ‘curse’ to Jupiter in Sagittarius and Capricorn, in particular its relationship with Saturn and Mars
- The significance of the conjunction of Pluto with Saturn in Capricorn
In addition, we will examine the annual forecast charts for a number of countries to investigate the consequences of the pandemic.
- Solar Eclipse 26 December 2019
Chart 1 shows the solar eclipse for London, using the southern style for Vedic charts:-
Chart 1: Solar Eclipse 26 December 2019
The 1st house is the ascendant (or lagna) which is the constellation on the eastern horizon at the time indicated (05.12am). In this chart, the ascendant is Scorpio with lagna lord mars placed in its own sign. The eclipse is at 10 degrees Sagittarius. It is notable that this point is close to the degree of the galactic centre Sagittarius A (at around 7-8o), taken to be a powerful point in the zodiac.
It will be noticed that there is a build up of planets in Sagittarius, including Ketu, with Rahu being placed in the opposite sign of Gemini. Venus is in Capricorn. Hence all 7 visible planets are in only 3 signs. Seven visible planets in 3 signs is called a Shula Yoga (one of the Nabhasa or Sky Yogas), with Mars becoming the dominant planet. This dominant planet is referred to as the Samkya graha, & is the carrier of agni (fire element) as a type of ignition power. The Shula Yoga in an individual’s chart can be very destructive, showing a tortuous experience. In the solar eclipse chart, Mars as the Samkya graha is the lagna lord and the 6th lord (ill health) & is in Scorpio which is the natural 8th house, indicating disease Mars is placed in its own sign of Scorpio. This placement means that Mars will get heated up (fever?), & being placed in the 12th house from the Sun indicates a hidden force. It is also noteworthy that the vara lord (the lord of the day – Mercury) is the enemy of lagna lord Mars, resulting in inauspicious circumstances.
The effects of a solar eclipse can last at least 6 months. The solar eclipse of 26 December 2019 may be seen as indicating a difficult period in 2020, and may be taken as the start or trigger for the pandemic
- The Karmic Axis Transiting Sagittarius and Gemini
Vedic astrology uses an ancient system of describing the constellations called the nakshatras or lunar mansions. These are portions of the zodiacal belt. Each day the Moon moves a distance of 13 degrees 20’ of arc, and in the full 3600 there are therefore 27 lunar mansions. Each nakshatra has its own individual planetary lord independent of the sign it is in, and there is a rich mythology including deities, symbols and animal totems associated with each nakshatra.
Ketu is currently in the lunar mansion called Mula (or Moola), which spans from 00 to 130 20’ of Sagittarius. Rahu is in Ardra nakshatra in Gemini. A full description of these lunar mansions is beyond the scope of this article. However it is important to note the deities involved. The deity ruling Mula is Niritti, a goddess of destruction & a form of Kali (the fierce goddess who wears a necklace of skulls). Niritti has the power to ruin, destroy and break things apart. It reveals the necessary dissolution to proceed to a new life. Ardra spans 60 40’ to 200 of Gemini. The symbol is a tear drop (reflecting tears of sorrow) and the deity is Rudra, lord of storms, and a form of Shiva.
It can be seen that the transit of Rahu-Ketu in the 2 fierce nakshatras is potentially problematic. The karmic axis takes 18 years to complete a cycle round the zodiac, with Rahu/Ketu spending 18 months in each sign (travelling retrograde). Ketu is the significator of viruses & epidemics, hard to detect diseases, terrorism, mass death, assassination, the vertical direction, wars (physical as well as economic), mistakes/errors, as well as spiritual liberation to counter materialism. Rahu represents war and violence, rebellions and riots, politics, research, innovation, nuclear energy, fears and obsessions often created by politicians, epidemics and plagues, and esoteric philosophies including astrology.
It is instructive to examine some past events to gauge the significance. Here is a short list of some of the critical events that took place with Ketu in Sagittarius and Rahu in Gemini over the past 100 years or so:-
- 2001: World Trade Centre terror attack and the war on terror campaign
- 1982-83: AIDS epidemic worldwide and intense medical research
- 1963: Assassination of President Kennedy and the start of the Vietnam war; American race riots
- 1945: Atomic bombs dropped on Japan & the start of the atomic age
- 1926-27: General Strike in the UK; 1000 people/week die of influenza in UK; civil war in China
There were notable advances in science and technology during these periods – information technology and the birth of the internet, medical science, space flight, etc.
- Curse on Jupiter and the Mars-Saturn Conjunction in Capricorn (Ref. 1)
On 31 Dec, 2019 China alerted WHO of several pneumonia cases. It was actually COVID-19 taking roots. Later on 7 January 2020 France confirmed its first case, but by then Wuhan city had already been reeling under the coronavirus. An examination of the transit chart at this time (almost identical to the solar eclipse chart shown) indicates that Jupiter, the great benefic and protector of humanity, was under a severe affliction (a ‘curse’) caused by its conjunction with the malefic planets Saturn, Sun, Ketu and aspected by Rahu.
Ketu moved into Mula nakshatra on 15 January 2020 (Chart 2). It can be seen that Jupiter is still afflicted by conjunction with Saturn and Ketu, and aspected by Rahu in Gemini. A yoga is an association of planets resulting in a specific consequence. In Chart 2 there is a malefic yoga in place, called a papa kartari yoga (a ‘scissors’ yoga) in which Sagittarius and the planets placed there (including Jupiter) are caught between 2 malefics, Mars in Scorpio and the Sun in Capricorn.
Chart 2: Ketu Transit into Mula Nakshatra 15 January 2020
In Chart 2 Jupiter is completely afflicted by all malefics and deaths were mounting worldwide at this time. Rahu in the sign of Gemini (communications) indicates that the media are adding to the fear and paranoia.
Saturn transited into Capricorn around 24 January thereby strengthening the malefic papa kartari yoga. Panic gripped people and governments were also very confused due to the conjunction of Saturn and the Sun (the Sun is significator of governments).
On 7 February Mars moved into Sagittarius to join Jupiter and Ketu. The combination of Mars and Ketu is known as a Piscara yoga (another malefic combination) and introduced more fear and paranoia into the situation.
On 22 March Mars transited into Capricorn where it was conjunct Saturn. A Mars-Saturn association is called a Yama yoga, and is the harbinger of death. Also, one of the symbolic interpretations of Capricorn is that of a graveyard. Hence Lord Yama is now waiting in the graveyard for Jupiter, the protector of humanity, to arrive, which it duly did on 30 March (Chart 3). Capricorn (an earth sign) is also related to the base chakra representing our basic survival needs. It is little surprise that the general public was seized with the urge to purchase toilet paper in bulk!
Mars is exalted in Capricorn and Saturn is in its own sign. The action of Jupiter is to expand whatever it is associated with. Hence Jupiter’s influence was malefic, in effect, and its debilitation in Capricorn was weakened by being conjunct the 2 strong malefic planets. All of this time Rahu was in Ardra, and Ketu in Mula nakshatra.
Chart 3: Jupiter Transit into Capricorn 30 March 2020
On 4 May Mars moved out of Capricorn into Aquarius, thereby breaking the influence of Yama. The level of fatalities was probably decreasing as soon as the fast-moving Mars started transiting away from the slow Saturn (the actual conjunction was late on 31 March). This would seem to fit the UK mortality statistics, which indicated the maximum death rate occurred on 8 April or thereabouts, with about a 7-day incubation period for the virus to take serious effect.
Rahu will leave Ardra nakshatra (in Gemini) on 20 May, transiting into a gentler lunar mansion called Mrigashira. Ketu will retrograde from Sagittarius into Scorpio on 23 September, leaving the destructive Mula lunar mansion for another 18 years. However, this border between Scorpio (a water sign) and Sagittarius (a fire sign) involves Ketu crossing an intense gandanta area (or a ‘karmic knot)’, specifically 48’ of arc either side of the interface. This is a very difficult position for any planet placed here or in transit.
Mars will move from Aquarius into Pisces on 18 June with Saturn (with both Saturn and Jupiter retrograde) aspecting from Capricorn. Could this indicate a second wave of the virus, as Yama will once again make an appearance via the glance of Saturn?
- Saturn Conjunct Pluto in Capricorn (Ref. 2)
Pluto transited into Capricorn from Sagittarius on 24 February 2020, where it conjoined Saturn (Pluto (Pl) is also shown in Capricorn in Chart 4).
Chart 4: Pluto Conjoins Saturn in Capricorn 24 February 2020
Pluto is the God of the Underworld in Greek mythology. Saturn-Pluto conjunctions bring life changing global events, fear of loss, disturbing power grabs and restrictions, draconian power grabs, and assertions of governmental authority and crises that change the structure of society. Saturn represents the working class, and Pluto empowers them to fight for their rights. In Capricorn (the conjunction can reflect business structures, policies and government laws. Pluto has been described as a first-class malefic of mass psychology that can warp and distort Saturn making it more paranoid, apocalyptic and bringing out the darker side of Saturn, creating mass hysteria. Saturn will remain in Capricorn till April 2022, and Pluto remains in Capricorn for about 20 years. Interestingly, the United States will be experiencing its first Pluto return in February 2024 i.e. transiting Pluto will be crossing the degree of Pluto in the natal chart for the US (about 70 Capricorn).
Consequences of the Corona Pandemic
The combination of factors previously described gives an insight into the sequence of events leading to the present situation. Jupiter signifies scientists, Ketu signifies mistakes, viruses and mass death. Are the origins of the pandemic found in an error by scientists?
Every 60 years there coincides the (approximate) 30-year cycle of Saturn with the 12-year Jovian cycle i.e. 2 cycles of Saturn coincide with 5 cycles of Jupiter. Each of these 60 years has been allocated a name and a description by the ancient seers. The description applies to the whole world. The year just passed (i.e. March 2019 to March 2020) is named ‘Vikaari’ (Ref 3). It is considered to be a negative year. Literally, the word means sickness, disease, and demon. Clearly, this is what has transpired all over the world. The current year that started on 24 March 2020 (for 12 months) is named Sarvaari and is a more auspicious year. This is one of the names of Sri Maha Kaali, and it literally means ‘dark, killing’. The goddess Kaali is dark and she killed the demon Mahisasura. The demon had viral blood, a drop of which would create another demon. Hence this was the reason the goddess cut off his head and consumed the blood. This indicates that the coming year the ‘demonic’ virus will be defeated (Ref. 3).
The destiny of a country over a 12-month period is seen in the Vedic tradition by examination of an annual chart for each capital city when the Moon and the Sun are conjunct at the exact same degree in Pisces in March, (usually around the time of the spring equinox). The chart represents the fortunes of the country for the coming 12-month period (i.e. it is not based on a Gregorian calendar year running from January to December). This chart is called the Chaitra Shukla Chart. Chart 5 shows the annual chart for the UK for 2020-21.
Chart 5: Chaitra Shukla Annual Chart for the UK 24 March 2020
It can be seen that the ascendant (the 1st house) is Gemini. There is a ‘garland’ of planets starting with Jupiter/Ketu in the 7th house of Sagittarius and ending with Venus in the 11th house of Aries. All the planets are hemmed in between Ketu and Rahu. This is an inauspicious kala sarpa yoga. It starts in the 7th house (of relationships including business relationships) in Sagittarius (representing the natural 9th house or the world). This may indicate the deterioration in relationships with the EU and a move towards a more global outlook. The Yama yoga of Mars conjunct Saturn is in the 8th house of disease. The UK currently has one of the highest recorded mortality rates in Europe for the coronavirus. The planetary garland ends with Venus (private enterprise) in a fire sign (Aries) indicating that businesses may get ‘burned’ over the coming year. The lagna lord Mercury has gone to the 9th house (Aquarius) which is an auspicious placement in a friendly sign. Moreover, there is a parivartana yoga (PVY) which is an exchange of signs involving Rahu (ruler of Aquarius) and Mercury (ruler of Gemini). Hence the lagna lord benefits from seemingly being placed (by virtue of the PVY) in its own sign of Gemini. This indicates an overall improved year for the UK, despite the current problems.
The planets are in the same signs everywhere in the world but the ascendant would be different, thereby producing different results for different countries. For Brussels, the ascendant 1st house is Taurus, with the lagna lord Venus going to the 12th house of loss, indicating perhaps an unhappy situation with London (represented by Aries). The Yama yoga is in the 9th house which could indicate further difficulties with the world. For the USA, the ascendant is Capricorn. Again, there is much to analyse, but one of the key points is that the lagna lord Saturn is in the Yama yoga and is also in ‘marana karaka sthana’ (MKS) indicating death-like suffering for the country. This will impact the 2nd house of wealth, resulting in a negative impact on the economy and possible economic depression. For China, the 1st house is Leo. The indications are that the economy and businesses will suffer, as will China’s relationships with the rest of the world., and the Chinese government will face opposition both at home and abroad. The virus will take its toll on the population who will continue to suffer (Ref. 4).
It seems to be agreed by commentators that life will never be the same again, and that mankind has to adjust to a ‘new normal’. This will involve changes to the ways we work and travel, and our work-life balance and quality of life. Rahu in Gemini promises technological advancements that should benefit humanity if our leaders show vision and compassion. If we examine the cycles of conjunctions between the 2 planetary giants, Jupiter and Saturn, we can see that the last time these 2 bodies were conjunct in the earth sign of Capricorn was 1961-62. These conjunctions establish the trends for the following 20 years. The early 1960s ushered in a time of great social and political change across the world – some good, some bad depending on your personal perspective. It would appear that the coronavirus pandemic will act as a catalyst to bring about changes in our societies across the world, perhaps political changes too. The events of year 2020 will be studied for a long time to come. Suffice to say for those of us now in the middle of this pandemic we will be happy in the coming months for the death rate to decrease to a level where some semblance of a normal routine can be restored fairly quickly.
Jyotish always offers the hope of being able to improve any situation by the application of remedial measures. In the current climate it is a good time to meditate and to reflect on your life and your life mission, and to live a sattvic lifestyle. My Jyotish Guru, Pandit Sanjay Rath (to whom I am indebted for much of this article) has offered the following mantra to help everyone at this time of world crisis:-
om hrīṁ śrīṁ krīṁ parameśvarī kālike svāhā
Ref 1: Pt. Sanjay Rath ‘ The Curse of Jupiter in Sagittarius’
Jyotish Digest April-June 2020 p.10-13 Sagittarius Publications
Ref. 2: Barry Rosen ‘Saturn-Pluto Conjunction in Capricorn: Mass Fear and Paranoia’
Ref. 3: Professor Jaya Sekhar Subha Jaya Muhurtha Chapter 7
Jiva Trust (publishers)
Ref. 4: Bhanu Panda ‘Covid-19: A Jyotish Perspective’
Jyotish Digest April-June 2020 p.14-27 Sagittarius Publications
Paul Barker 9 May 2020