2014 in L'Alpe di Siusi, fresh from the US and Australia.
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THE PISCES FESTIVAL 2020
9 MAR 2020
© Malvin Artley
Pisces, mundane and esoteric
The final Ground and Path
The full moon
The Sultan’s Waterloo
The linchpin of the Middle East
It’s all about oil
Consciousness reflected in worldly affairs
Neptune, illusion, deception and misinformation
The viral virus
Feeling the Bern yet?
Before anyone asks, no, there are no mass deaths in Italy from the coronavirus (now called COVID-19). We aren’t hunkered down in the house. We are all safe and sound here in Rovereto, with only one case in the region where we live. I cannot say the same for the politicians in Italy, who seem to have momentarily lost any sense of sanity. The panic is far worse than the virus. As a disease, it is much overrated. As a political and financial potential time bomb, well, that’s another story. We’ll have more on all that toward the end of this letter. There are other matters that will affect us worse in the long term than COVID-19, and which are receiving little if any mainstream attention. We will touch on those stories, too. But first, a little news from home.
This winter has been quite odd in Trentino in several respects. It has been the worst ski season here in 120 years, with no snow the whole of the winter. In fact, the snow has been decreasing in depth and frequency each year since I have been here. We had a piffling couple of inches in Rovereto in November, with nothing since. There is a ski community in the mountains near us that trucked in snow to the city center to celebrate the Carnevale season. Normally there are two feet of snow on the ground there this time of year. We can see snow on the mountains in the distance, but much of it is man-made. The psychic sense of the season has been odd, too, as if there has been a pressure that has settled over the land. In fact, the air pressure has been higher than normal, with a cell that has settled over much of Europe, keeping away the precipitation, but that is not the inner sense. The inner sense is one of change, and it has people here unsettled. This was before the coronavirus scare. The coronavirus is more in the nature of a precipitation of the pressures and the tensions worldwide, but especially in Europe. And now we have the potential for another refugee crisis here, with Erdogan opening the borders with Greece and Syria and allowing the refugees to flee into Europe. We’ll have more on that, too, after a look at the full moon. Suffice it to say, peninsular Europe is not at all happy with the Sultan.
Then, there has been a death of someone close to my wife’s family just this past week, which has been symbolic in many ways, as deaths often are. It has brought closure to a chapter from the family’s past, and opened possibilities at the same time. It comes at a time when we are just settled in the new place after having moved, which in itself has brought closure to a chapter from the past. And there are certain other closures taking place on the world scale, too, again which we shall examine here, and new possibilities opening. It is always so – every ending is also a beginning, so long as we do not try to hang on to the past. We take the wisdom from past experience instead, throw out that which is no longer needed and then start a new course. It is the same in astrology, too. With the Pisces phase every year, there is closure on the year that is passing, astrologically-speaking, in preparation to a new start in Aries. And that brings us to the discussion of Pisces for 2020, a year that certainly is turning out to be one of great decisions.
Pisces, mundane and esoteric: Pisces rules the natural 12th house of the zodiac, which has been given quite a bit of bad press in astrology over the years, being associated with secrets, deception, self-undoing, institutions, occult matters and so forth. However, it is also the house of accumulated wisdom, as Alice Portman likes to call it. That view of that house is closer to the occult truth than it is commonly portrayed. Pisces, by association with that house also tends to get a poor showing in astrology, along with the other water signs (Scorpio and Cancer) at times, being seen as generally weak and malleable. Such is hardly the case, in my experience. On the whole, Pisces represents salvation, and that takes strength and single-mindedness of purpose. It also presupposes wisdom. It takes wisdom to be able to perform acts of salvation, and the world teachers are archetypally associated with Pisces, Pisces being called the ‘sign of the World Savior’. That statement is a-religious and is not bound to any particular belief system or religion.
Pisces represents, “…the sign of the divine Intermediary in the highest sense, or of the medium in the lower; it is the sign of many of the world Saviours and of those Revealers of divinity Who establish world relationships. I would have you note that phrase.” Pisces is the ‘omega’ of the zodiac in terms of human evolution, and represents the final stage on the path, in which full liberation from human experience is achieved. So, in a very real sense – the true occult sense – Pisces is the sign where we experience self-undoing, reflected through the 12th house of the zodiac, and in which we assimilate all of the wisdom gained from our long experiences through the entirety of our incarnations. It is the death to the need for a physical form. This bears some examination.
Pisces is focused through Neptune, is ruled by Jupiter in the orthodox and by Pluto esoterically and hierarchically. That is a powerful set of factors, combined. Neptune focuses Pisces for humanity as a whole, not individually, by stimulating the realization of the soul, that there is something more than personal life, and thus begins the dissolution of the idea of self and not-self. It is the planet that is most associated with non-duality. It is therefore a more esoteric ruler of the sign and governs the later stages of a person’s spiritual path.
As far as the average Piscean goes, Jupiter is the natural ruler. In its lower expression, Jupiter governs material gain. Pisces is often found in the charts of people in executive positions, where they have responsibility over large groups of people. Pisces and Neptune also figure strongly in politics, especially in the realm of shaping public opinion. The motto for the worldly-focused Piscean is, “And the Word said: Go forth into matter,” which speaks of material gain and experience gained through working in worldly affairs. The esoteric motto, however, gives the spiritual inclination of Pisces: “I leave the Father’s home and turning back, I save.” Jupiter through Pisces then governs the accumulation of wisdom. How, exactly, would this work?
The final Ground and Path: Pisces is reflected in the final stages of the spiritual path, when the final bonds with material existence and thus worldly attachments and concerns, are cut. That phase of the path is governed by Pluto, and symbolizes the liberation from the karmic need to reincarnate, as well as cutting free the soul on its own plane – the spiritual Triad or higher Self, removing the last obstacle to full enlightenment and omniscience. In Buddhism this is called the 5th Path and the 10th Ground. Pisces leads to ‘The Revelation’, and then ultimately to the final planetary initiations, which we do not need to address here. What exactly are the 5th Path and 10th Ground, then?
The 5th Path in Buddhism is called “The Path of No More Learning”. It actually encompasses the final three Grounds (8, 9 and 10), called respectively: ‘The Immovable’, ‘The Good Intelligence’ and ‘The Cloud of Doctrine’ (dharmamegha). Completion of these three Grounds leads to the 5th Initiation, ‘The Revelation’. The 10th Ground is of our particular interest here, and has the following characteristics:
“One benefits all sentient beings with the Law, just as a cloud sends down rain impartially on all things. This level grants limitless powers with respect to magical formulas. The bodhisattva spreads the dharma like a cloud spreads the rain. All final subtle obscurations to omniscience are eliminated. The ability to transcend the ordinary laws of time and space are achieved. The higher siddhis are perfected. The “revelation” is completed and is given freely to others like the life-giving rain.”
The elimination of the ‘obscurations to omniscience’, also known as the full realization of emptiness, is an act of supreme will, governed by Pluto, cutting the ties with the underworld, i.e. our worldly existence. It is the place and the final path along which the World Teachers must all pass if they are to be of service to all beings. So long as an obstacle to omniscience (divine wisdom) remains, there is an area of service that remains unfulfilled. And that is the greatest of pains to the Great Teachers. In Pisces, we give up ourselves in the service to all, and bring our little, selfish selves undone, imbued with the wisdom that has come through endless lives of experience, and revealed to us in fullness once we have trodden the final path and ground. The feet are ruled by Pisces. With that, we move on to the full moon and some rather interesting developments.
The full moon takes place on 9 Mar 20 at 14:23 UT (6:28 AM AEDT, 10 Mar). The Sun is conjunct Neptune in the figure. We begin a long transiting configuration with this full moon, with the midpoint Neptune=Saturn/Pluto, which points to weakness resulting in falsehoods or malicious behaviour (think: DNC establishment in the US, Netanyahu in Israel, Erdogan in Turkey, the negotiating position of the UK, etc.), as well as the inability to face emotional stresses, resigning oneself to the inevitable (Erdogan in Syria as well as the coronavirus, with more on that later) and the abandonment of resistance. That configuration will last more or less to the end of this year. It will also be accompanied at the start (10 March) for one week with another powerful configuration; Pluto=Mars/Saturn, which can result in catastrophes of many sorts. In world affairs the main effects of that will be seen in the Levant and with the spread of the coronavirus. But it is not all as bad as it sounds. The former configuration will be a background energy for the remainder of the year, though, and will have ripple-through effects worldwide, for reasons to be outlined below.
As to the overall figure for the full moon, in distinction to the preceding, this is one of the more hopeful figures we have seen for a while. The Sun/Neptune conjunction is sextile Mars and Jupiter, both of those in conjunction, giving a bold and expansive outlook for the following two weeks and in opportunities for service and for the ‘saving occupations’ (medical and emergency services) being increased throughout the year. The second configuration described will have a tendency to ‘blast through’ any obstacles to our vision of things and will call out underlying issues in sharp contrast. The Sun/Moon setup gives expanded intuition, is good for business relations and all sorts of projects and will serve to embolden those in whose charts it touches. If you choose to start a project around that time, just be certain to avoid the Neptune/Saturn/Pluto in key areas of your start-up/project chart.
“Westlessness”: On to topical matters, we start with the latest Munich Security Conference (MSC), which has been held every year, save for two, since 1963. Its primary focus is on international security, with its motto being, “Peace through Dialog”. The MSC has primarily been a NATO/EU gathering, but Asian states have been invited, depending on security interests. The purpose of the MSC, “…is to address the topical main security issues and to debate and analyze the main security challenges in the present and the future in line with the concept of networked security.” That in the past has meant Western security interests. This year it was a little different.
The title for the MSC annual report this year was “Westlessness”, described by Pepe Escobar as, “…one of those constipated concepts issued from a post-party bad hangover at the Rive Gauche during the 1970s.” He went on to say that, “…what Munich actually unveiled was some deep – Western – longing for those effervescent days of humanitarian imperialism, with nationalism in all its strands being cast as the villain impeding the relentless advance of profitable, neocolonial Forever Wars.” Emphasis added. That pretty much summarizes the prevailing attitude of Western security interests these days, with China rising, Russia finding its own course away from establishment Europe and the US and the European/American fault lines widening by the month. Of course, everyone but the Western security interests got blamed for the growing sense of ‘Westlessness’ among those interests gathered. The conference turned out to be a war of words between the US (Pompeo and Esper) and China (Foreign Minister Wang Yi). Wang Yi did not mince words, saying in effect:
The West – with or without Westlessness – should get rid of its subconscious mentality of civilization supremacy; give up its bias against China; and “accept and welcome the development and revitalization of a nation from the East with a system different from that of the West.”
The final MSC report gave the West’s game away, though:
“In the post-Cold War era, Western-led coalitions were free to intervene almost anywhere. Most of the time, there was support in the UN Security Council, and whenever a military intervention was launched, the West enjoyed almost uncontested freedom of military movement.”
That is no longer the case, and has ceased to be the case since 2015, if not before. We won’t go into why, as we have covered those reasons in past letters. But in summary, this meeting of the MSC has highlighted what many Western analysts have known for more than a decade – the ‘West’, as a collective entity, is losing its mojo. It is doing so for a variety of reasons – hubris, poor foreign policy, inability to change or to accept change, growing technological parity and sometimes superiority from the East, especially in military hardware, the rising economic power of the East, austerity measures at home, growing public dissatisfaction over domestic policies, especially brought on through neoliberalism and globalization, etc., etc. It is a long list, and outlines very real challenges facing Western nations today. Yet, our leadership, noting this ‘Westlessness’, blames everything and everyone else. That word will resonate throughout the year and into the future, as a sad, even pitiful refrain, reflecting the Neptune=Saturn/Pluto midpoint sense of resignation and helplessness described above. That general overview of Western (in)security then takes us to the Middle East, where a crisis situation has developed, again, of the West’s (re: NATO’s) doing.
The Sultan’s Waterloo: Next we have what is taking place in Syria, which is nothing like how it is being reported in the mainstream press. Turkey’s president, Recip Erdogan, is facing his Waterloo in northwest Syria as of this writing. What is happening there could well soon be the end of him politically, or otherwise. It will take time and there will be setbacks for the Syrians, but Erdogan is facing serious problems at home and abroad. Suffice it to say, the Sultan has been left to swing in Idlib. His solar return chart for the year has Saturn and Pluto across the ascendant of that chart. He is a Piscean, and his birthday was on the 26th of February. It is not what we would call a sunny outlook for the year for him. The linked article goes more into his situation. He is facing some very difficult situations and choices, and he has only himself to blame for them. This year marks a turning point for him, and not a happy one. He has Capricorn rising natally, and his ambitions for a ‘greater Turkey’ got the better of him. In vying for dominance in the Arab world and in playing to nationalist sentiments in Turkey, he has put the Turkish population in a difficult spot, not to mention the people of Syria and now Libya and Greece. And now he has to decide what to do with the terrorist mercenaries (takfiri) he has backed in northern Syria.
Erdogan has petitioned the NATO alliance for support in his most excellent Syrian (mis)adventure, but being a consensus organization, they are having none of it. Hence, he is left to swing. As a tool to try to leverage support, he has opened the gates to the refugees to enter Europe, further angering Europeans, especially the Greeks, who would bear the brunt of such an exodus. In response, the Greeks – to their credit – have sent warships to protect their islands and have turned away 4000 of the 30,000 refugees already, with no help forthcoming from the EU. Why do I say ‘to their credit’ about the Greek actions? It is because the refugee outflow is an attempt by Erdogan to force the EU to intervene in Idlib, under articles of the NATO treaty, to which Greece is also a signatory. Greece has vetoed a NATO communique which would have supported Turkey, thus angering several EU states. The refugees are being used to further the Sultan’s political aims, in order to keep the territory in Idlib, to which he mistakenly believes belongs to Turkey. The Greek actions are also to their credit because they are standing up for Greek sovereignty at a time when they are already overburdened by the debt crisis and the 2015 refugee crisis. If the Greek government does not confront this action by the Turks, it stands the chance of destabilizing Greek society even further. The EU needs to support the Greeks, rather than standing idly by or denouncing their veto. They can either stand up to Erdogan or take in the overflow of refugees, taking the strain off of Greece. The latter is not likely to happen.
Then we are told that the actions of the SAA and Russia in the region are the cause of the crisis in Idlib, where in point of fact, Erdogan’s failures to live up to his agreements have brought this on. Turkey’s army is overextended at a time the Turks need to be focused on domestic matters, much like we see with the United States. We are not being told the truth about what is happening in Idlib, northwest Syria. What we hear is that the SAA, backed by Russia, is causing a humanitarian disaster and bombing civilians. It is hardly the truth.
Erdogan was supposed to clear the takfiri fighters out of Idlib or at least separate them from the opposition militias. He either failed to do so or wilfully enabled them. It is those fighters who are being bombed and routed now, by the SAA. The Turks are an occupying force in Syria, illegally, and the SAA (Syrian army) are within their rights to oust them. There are several points of real interest in this, though, unreported in the mainstream media:
When Idlib is cleared and back in Syrian control, the war in Syria will effectively be over except for some mopping up. Attention will then turn to eastern Syria. With the M5 open, it is only a matter of time before the Kurds will have to choose, between Erdogan (not likely) or Damascus. The US position is becoming more untenable in Syria by the day. The end of the war is not a fait accompli yet, but it is much nearer than it was even a year ago.
The linchpin of the Middle East: Syria has been a linchpin in so many plans for the Middle East. The reason we are not hearing the items mentioned in the last bullet point above goes back to the murder of Soleimani and the resulting Iranian attack on the al-Assad and Erbil air bases. There are now Iranian and Hezbollah forces openly fighting alongside the SAA in Idlib. Netanyahu will seek to make political capital from this for the elections taking place there today (2 March). But as in the last election, the vote is still neck-and-neck. Bibi could well pull this off with the increased tensions in Idlib, but he still faces the charges in the indictments against him. The US, Israelis and Gulf States have been put on notice with the attacks on the air bases in Iraq. A significant attack on Syria by the US or Israel will mean retaliation in kind on military targets of the US, Israel and Gulf States by all of the members of the ‘Axis of Resistance’. Essentially, those military and infrastructure targets are defenceless against the missile systems the Iranians have developed and supplied to Hezbollah, Syria and Yemen. And now, with the highways in Syria just about cleared, Iran will have a clear path to the Mediterranean in short order. That is why Idlib has been of such strategic importance to Washington and Tel Aviv in particular, and to a lesser extent, the Saudis and Turks.
All we hear about in the press is the plight of the poor civilians in Syria. At the same time we are not told about how they have been terrorized and brutalized by the takfiri in Idlib for the past 9 years, whom our governments have supported. Idlib is Erdogan’s last stand. The Turkish defeat there will eventually bring a greater peace to the Middle East, which brings us to another important developing story about which we are not told.
It’s all about oil: Neptune, focusing the power of Pisces and ruling oil, is also very much connected in kind with the passing Piscean Age. There are several things of note in that regard, especially with the passing energies of the Piscean Age. Oil, as the king of energy supply, is seeing its final decades. Here’s why:
Why all this is important is because, 1) it will impact the world economically as time goes on in the form of higher prices at the pump and production and heating costs in general, 2) because it will cause further conflicts over the control of energy resources, meaning the US in particular will be facing further debts from wars in the future, and 3) nations that had not been particularly important in terms of energy production are going to rise in world importance as the years pass. All this is contributing to the shifting geopolitical situation we are seeing today. And we are told nothing of it, unless we go to open source, independent media.
Neptune, ruling oil, and associated with Pisces, is passing in importance. It then comes as no surprise that oil would be passing in importance, too, although we wouldn’t know it at the moment. But, economies and means of production are shifting. Trump has always had a thing about oil and about energy dominance, which fits right in with the Washington and Atlanticist think tanks on American foreign policy. The outer world always reflects the inner subjective energies. In the Pisces interval this year, as in every year, it is useful to take stock of what the year up to that point has wrought in terms of change to get a sense of the subjective world that is about to make its presence felt at the three great festivals to follow – Aries, Taurus and Gemini.
Briefly, the Saudis have been fudging the numbers on the Aramco oil reserves and production for years. There is little transparency. The reserve numbers that are made public probably encompass their probable and possible reserves, aside from their proven reserves. The proven reserves are decreasing. We do not know about their other reserves, as those numbers are a closely guarded state secret. There is reason to be sceptical of their numbers, given there is no transparency. But that is the least of the problems for the Saudis. Their money is running out faster than their oil, hence bin Salman’s bid to sell off part of Aramco. The fact that potential buyers are wary also points to the scepticism about the Saudis’ reports on oil reserves.
Lest we get the impression that the world’s oil is running out, it isn’t. What is changing is the cost for extracting it. The ‘sweet spots’ in proven reserves are drying up, which means production has to be moved to more expensive extraction sites and methods. This is the primary reason we see fracking as an extraction method, and why Canada has begun to more aggressively develop its tar sands, causing all the difficulties with indigenous peoples there and the pipeline disputes. The Saudis have been pumping more oil than they needed to in order to keep the price of oil low in order to leverage weaker producers, but it is coming back to bite them, in that their revenues from oil sales are taking a hit as a result. That is why their money supply is dwindling. They also lack an important emerging energy source, which is gas. They have little of it, oil being their prime export.
Consciousness reflected in worldly affairs: As the consciousness of humanity gradually shifts to a more mental polarization, little as it may appear at the moment, our energy sources also shift. The old axiom, ‘energy follows thought’ holds as true in everyday life as it does in the subjective realms. Humanity has been primarily astrally polarized, as in the emotions, with a decided shift having taken place as the Aquarian energies slowly began to take hold in the 19th century, when electricity became known and utilized. Electricity, governed by Uranus, gave us the incredible leap in technology we have witnessed in the past century. Oil drove the satisfaction of material production and the production of electricity in many areas, as well as giving us the mobility we see today in the form of automobiles, large shipping and aircraft. Now, some of the fastest inexpensive mass transport is high speed rail, typically running upwards of 300 km/hr (ca. 190 mph). The nations that have high speed rail, which is electric, are at the forefront of the shifting consciousness at the moment, being primarily Asian and European nations. The Americas lag behind. Germany will have far and away the largest high speed rail network when it completes its construction of the same, with over a million km of high speed rail lines. China already has over 30,000 km of such already in operation. The US lags behind for various reasons, two of which are the influence of Big Oil in its politics and it love affair with the automobile and the sense of freedom owning one brings.
We also see the shift in energy usage from oil to gas, i.e., from emotions to mind, with gas being the agent of fire used to drive industry and heating for homes. It also pollutes the atmosphere less than petroleum, which is another concern. The top four producers of natural gas, in order, are Russia, the US, Qatar and Iran. Do we start to see a pattern in terms of conflicts, real and covert? Most US gas comes from fracking, whereas the reserves of the other three are from natural gas pockets. Gas has become a geopolitical hot button as a result, with the US seeking to leverage nations away from Russian gas and trying to keep Iran from exporting it. Whosoever controls the energy supply controls the world. This is one of the main reasons we see such animosity toward Russia and Iran by Washington, because the Beltway cannot control Russia and Iran. And by keeping Syria from rebuilding, it prevents Iran from running their gas pipelines to the Mediterranean and thus to Europe. It is all part of the ‘Great Game’ for dominance. It is also why we see Erdogan kicking up such a fuss in the Mediterranean, as he seeks his piece of the energy pie and control of that region of the world.
With all the preceding, we see the fault lines emerging and widening between the nations and the continents, really, leading us to a point of crisis wherein we will be forced to either cooperate or dramatically change our societies. As for gas, as a parting word, Russia will complete Nordstream II, ensuring Western Europe’s energy supply for the foreseeable future. That is due by the end of this year. Syria will then be the next theatre to watch. Once stabilized, then we can probably safely bet that Iranian and Qatari gas will be flowing to Southern Europe soon. The US will have to find other buyers for its gas, or use it at home. China has ample Russian gas for years into the future. And Russia is diversifying its economy away from reliance on fossil fuel exports. In terms of social cycles (generational and wider cycles), these changes are taking place rapidly. We are all having to adjust to them, and at the same time, to allow other emerging powers to take their rightful places in the world order. Uranus, the occult planet, is gradually superseding Neptune, the mystic planet, in influence as the decades pass, as we move more solidly into the Aquarian Age.
Neptune, illusion, deception and misinformation: As a final word about Neptune, and to close out this letter, the lower expression of Neptune is deception and obfuscation, whereas its higher expression is the pure reason, or buddhi. When operating emotionally, Neptune can be used to deceive, to hide facts and to move mass opinion – public opinion – by more unscrupulous factions and people in a society. We have a topical example of that with the media coverage of the coronavirus. The scaremongers have been out in force, and they have had their desired effect. People are panicking about this virus, and needlessly so. We’ll outline why as we go along here.
The viral virus: Mainstream news headlines about the COVID-19 virus, as the coronavirus is now known, are full of very leading and negative statements. We in the West have little idea, from mainstream media, what is taking place in China about this virus. As stated in the last letter, their response has been extraordinary in many respects. We don’t hear that kind of statement from the mainstream. Instead, what is trotted out is ‘the totalitarian regime’ placing draconian measures on the population and quite a bit a China-smearing. The measures taken by China, however, tally with the reading of China’s rays, (1&3), given by DK in Alice Bailey’s, The Destiny of the Nations. They have the political will (ray 1) to meet the crisis, the ability to adapt quickly (ray3), the scientific and technical know-how to address the problem (also ray 3) and so on. As an example, Chinese fast food has even adapted, with contactless food deliveries, temperature readings of the person who prepared the food presented upon delivery to the customer, and companies supplying the doctors and nurses with food at no cost while on lockdown. The linked article is an interesting story in many respects, with the CEO of the company going so far as to say that companies have souls, too:
“Every great company has a soul inside. [said Joey Wat, CEO of Yum China] Of course, we need to learn how to make money, but in a moment like this it is important to learn how to not make money, sometimes.”
The company opened six stores in Wuhan solely to supply the health care workers in the crisis. The people in China for the most part have rallied and support each other and the government response to the crisis. Instead what we hear about are the small protests that take place there. Meanwhile in the US, there are no visible efforts to stop the spread of the virus, with talk in Washington instead of tax cuts and the Fed reducing interest rates to reduce the economic impact. Apparently, protection of the population and care of the sick is not high on their list of priorities, with economic impacts taking priority. So, here is the main point about this virus: It is a catalytic event, and it will more likely than not sharply affect the economy, for the following reasons. We, meaning governments and people, can either:
Scaremongering? Well, the media isn’t helping. Given that, this phenomenon cannot help but send ripples through the world economies, given the measures against it. Stirring people’s emotions sells subscriptions and papers, though, regarding the opinions (I would not call most of what I have read in the mainstream, ‘reporting’) seen in the mainstream press. But the headlines are out of perspective and proportion with the health effects this virus is having. We hear and read things like ‘deadly virus’, ‘pandemic’, and headlines like, “country warily eyes spread of coronavirus”, “health officials urge Americans to prepare for spread of coronavirus”, “San Francisco declares emergency over coronavirus”, “More than 80,000 cases worldwide as World Health Organisation says virus now spreading faster outside China than in it”, “As new cases soar in South Korea, a U.S. soldier there tests positive”, and “Coronavirus pushes across Europe and Middle East, while U.S. prepares for outbreak.”, to cite a few. And these are just from Reuters and the Gray Lady (NYT). All this scaremongering is for a disease that is not really taking that many lives, comparatively. Oh, and it might be threatening Europe’s economy, too. When we start talking about money, we might be getting closer to why we are seeing headlines like those just cited. Let’s have a little perspective about the real effects of this virus, shall we? And then we can look at other issues around it.
This virus, from appearances, manifests as little more than a case of the flu in people under 50 years of age, and is mild compared to SARS. Although it can be fatal (overall, around 2%), it is not as fatal as the first SARS outbreak, the latter at around 5% of cases. But, overall percentages for mortality are deceptive. To put it in perspective, the common garden-variety flu has a fatality rate that varies widely between age groups, with the elderly being most at risk, the same as with this virus. This season alone, since October there have been estimates of between 16,000 to 41,000 deaths from the flu in the US. This particular flu season is a bit out of the ordinary, too, with the type B ‘Victoria’ strain predominating in the US. Now, the ‘Gray Lady’, one of America’s favorite propaganda papers, is pushing more of its anti-China propaganda, while choosing instead not to cover the success of the measures the Chinese have taken. This brings us to the financial side of the virus. There are a few points to keep in mind about the mainstream reporting on it:
Back to Italy, there were 500,000 cases of flu reported in one week alone in Italy since October of last year, when the flu season started, with 40 dead from the flu since then. There was no mainstream reporting here on that. Are they closing the schools, factories, events and so forth for the almost 4 million cases of flu now in Italy since October? Hardly. The blowback economically here from this virus is going to be worse than any virus, with parents having to take vacation days because their kids can’t go to school for two weeks, lost production, and broken supply chains. Small businesses will suffer the worst. Eventually, probably within a couple of months, the world will feel the economic effects. Container ships are not leaving China, most of them bound for the US. iPhones, auto parts, food, cheap electronic equipment…all delayed and at risk. Who is it going to hit the worst? Trump’s voter base. But, the panic merchants are having a field day.
Then, is a pandemic worse than an epidemic? It is relative, really. The flu is rarely listed as a pandemic, though it sweeps across the world every year, killing hundreds of thousands of people. There is a clear lack of perspective with the COVID-19 virus, and it is bringing up some rather ugly truths, as in racism and xenophobia, with politicians seeking to make political gain, Washington seeking to use this as leverage against China, and all sorts of crazy theories about its origins, uses and ‘cures’. There is no cure at this point. The ‘cures’ are either ineffective or far deadlier than the virus, such as rubbing sesame oil on the skin, for example, breathing in the smoke of fire or fireworks, or drinking bleach (a post on Facebook that has since been removed). The panic the media has irresponsibly drummed up in the public adds to the problem. Trump says everything is fine, that the US is ready to handle the virus when it breaks out there. We’ll see on that one. This level of disinformation should serve as a huge wake-up about ‘news’ we are fed on a regular and mounting basis, and to be especially cautious around posts on social media from dubious sources. There is a worse side to this outbreak than the virus itself, though. From a recent article:
“China’s central position in the world economy — the scale and scope of its global trade and transit — places billions of livelihoods around the world at risk when an outbreak occurs there. Hair-trigger decisions are often made by politicians intent on demonstrating a dramatic response to their constituents. For example, travel bans and quarantines can make responding to an outbreak even more challenging by exacerbating the economic devastation of outbreaks and wreaking havoc on local communities. These impacts can be debilitating well beyond the time of the outbreak…As health security emergencies become more frequent and their consequences graver, a new holistic approach to policy is required that can match the complexity of the threats they present.”
Emphasis added. We have had examples of ‘politicians demonstrating a dramatic response to their constituents’ here in Rovereto. It’s Carnevale time here, and they have cancelled all the festivities. Schools are closed. Churches are closing for a week or two. The center where I do most of my writing is closed for this week at least. There is a supermarket in the suburbs that has empty shelves due to panic buying. And there is only one reported case of COVID-19 in our region. Better safe than sorry, might we say? Perhaps.
One thing to keep in mind is that people can have the virus, be able to transmit it, and yet show no symptoms for up to two weeks. That makes it a dangerous disease for the elderly, and shows the need for rigorous testing of anyone being suspected or suspecting themselves of having been in contact with the virus, or for people who have regular contact with the elderly or infirmed. The US is woefully lacking in that regard. Proper test kits are not available there. South Korea (read the whole thread) and China are the only nations currently showing the world how this outbreak can be handled. It costs an average of over $1300 USD out of pocket for the average worker in the US for treatment of any condition according to current insurance premiums. That’s the average gap payment now, and there are many families who cannot afford it. Then, there are quite a number of uninsured Americans, at around 28 million, with that number rising as of last year. Their costs for testing and treatment can run into thousands of dollars. They cannot afford insurance. How will they afford treatment? They will choose not to be treated and will probably go to work when they are sick instead, as they often do. I have witnessed such in the past. ‘Medicare for All’ is dominating the Democratic campaign platform this year (Foreign policy statements by the same are shameful, except for those of Tulsi Gabbard), and if a large number of Americans get sick over the next months, it is an issue that will rise in prominence across the board.
This leads to another point, and that is the capital, as in money, to be made off this virus. The US Congress has asked for 3.1 billion dollars in funding ‘to battle the virus’, for example. Just what we need – a ‘war’ on the COVID-19 virus. Congress does like its wars. The request is from Senate Democrats, speaking of politicians intent on demonstrating dramatic responses. Again, it is an election year, after all. Trump is calling the Dems’ response to the virus their latest hoax, speaking of their comments about his handling of the situation. We might well ask where that money would go, too, pointing back to the Democrats. Perhaps it might be better spent providing health care at affordable costs. Better yet, health care for all. That appears to be too much to ask, though.
This brings up an interesting point, speaking of crazy theories from before. There has been a lot of conjecture about this virus being some sort of bioweapon released in China by the US. It is interesting conjecture, but I am not buying it. But what if, as a hypothetical question? If so, it would be an act of war. But, in our current language, it would have ‘unintended consequences’, as in blow-back on the perpetrator. And that blow-back would be in the form of increased economic instability in the world economy, referring to the article just quoted above, and which would affect the most vulnerable sectors of the populace in any nation. Now, no matter where the virus originated, the impact from it will be felt by those who are most vulnerable, in terms of health and economically.
And then, there is a video and various posts I have seen trying to pin the outbreak on the 5G rollout in Wuhan, which is nonsense, but which in itself is receiving a lot of panic-posts on social media. There is talk of the virus affecting primarily Orientals, leading people to think it is somehow a bio-weapon, but it has not made its way in any measure outside of China, yet. There again, the virus to this point has been centered in China. We’ll see what happens in the US when it gains a foothold there. There is also a video circulating in Chinese claiming that a TCM practitioner predicted a pandemic originating in southern China around the time of the solstice last year and that it would be conquered in China by 24 March of this year. We’ll see on that one, too. That is usually a pretty normal timeline for flu season. What is a person to believe? Well, we can start by doing our own research instead of buying into any reactions, and use our common sense. And, what to do if we do, by some slim chance, happen to get this bug? Again, common sense applies. The worst effects are on the elderly and those people with weakened organs and immune systems from pre-existing conditions. Children seem to weather it in their stride. If you are otherwise healthy, not over 50 and are diagnosed with it, stay at home, isolate yourself and take good care of yourself. Let it run its course, and take your doctor’s advice. Catch up on your daytime TV. That, too, might be worse than the bug, though. Fear of this thing is actually worse than the bug.
Feeling the Bern yet?: Speaking of health care for all, and of disinformation, alongside the disinformation about China and the virus, there is also a concerted smear campaign in effect against Bernie Sanders, too, who happens to be the front-runner in the Democratic field now. The corporate Democrats and the Republicans are beside themselves. The amount of smear against Sanders is in direct proportion to the amount of threat to the status quo Sanders represents. Yet, if we want a dose of truth, Bernie would be a normal politician in most nations of Europe, and would have been a regular Democrat in the Roosevelt era (from the ‘30s through the ‘60s). I recently gave a talk to a group of astrologers in the US, which will be updated, on the US election and the outlook. I will post some material when it has been updated. To be clear, Bernie’s real ‘threat’ represents the end of neoliberalism in the US and a return to Roosevelt era policies – the very same ones reactionaries in the US have been trying so hard to completely overturn since 1945, when Roosevelt died. They have nearly succeeded, too. People are starting to wake up to it, however, judging by the size of Bernie’s rallies.
We cannot go into it here, but what is being waged against Sanders is gutter politics at its worst. And social as well as mainstream media are the main platforms for it. Other issues aside, this election in the US is about only one issue, really: The oligarchs vs. the people. If the oligarchs have their way again, we can expect a very restive period to ensue in the United States. And if Bernie were to somehow win the election? – He would be hounded, smeared and resisted at every turn, especially by the media, who have profited very handsomely from neoliberalism, and from the Washington establishment, who have also done in kind.
In closing, the main call for the months ahead is to stay aware, especially of attempts at obfuscation and diverting attention from the real issues at stake before humanity at the moment. One issue that we have not examined here, for instance, and which is being completely obscured in the US by the virus and the campaign, are the extradition hearings on Julian Assange in the UK. If he is extradited to the US, it will be a very dark day for journalism everywhere. He should be pardoned and released, as he has simply done journalism. One wonders what sort of dirt WikiLeaks has on British and American politicians, for this to even be an issue. To follow the proceedings, go to Consortium News. They are worth following and should certainly receive far more attention by the media than is happening.
Otherwise, our economic system needs cleaning up, which means also cleaning up politics. Realities about strengths and weakness in militaries, societies and economies are becoming clearer by the day for anyone who investigates those matters. The establishment parties in every nation are fighting hard to keep the personal gains they have made in recent decades, all the while the public morale and services deteriorate. It need not be so, but it will take people standing up for a better way of doing things. We, the people, are the saving force within our societies. This is the great gift of Pisces every year – collective involvement with a vision to the future. Pisces stands for the mass of humanity, and it manifests through public opinion. All the great World Teachers teach us first to save ourselves and then to use our wisdom in the salvation of all. It is only when people stand together against oppressive circumstances and for social progress that any real gains are made.
We should never forget our accumulated wisdom, and should remind ourselves of it every year at this interval. And in that regard, we have a reminder of that accumulated wisdom every evening when the sky is clear. Just around sunset, following the sun in its descent into night, Venus appears in the western sky as the brightest ‘star’ in the evening sky, at the height of its Hesperus phase. Hesperus represents wisdom, and is the ‘judgement phase’ of Venus, judging the outcome of past actions. Let us judge wisely these days. The stakes are high, as important decisions loom large as to our collective destiny. There are no little things. Every ocean is composed of countless droplets, without which there would be no ocean. No decision is too small, no insight gleaned out of the darkness worthless. Added together, every action determines the destiny of the whole. Our futures hinge on every moment. These times are great in their import, but so are we. We are The Light of the World, when we see ourselves in truth, as every World Teacher demonstrates to us. Let our light so shine as to become resplendent.
2 Mar 2020
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12th House: https://astro-kitty.com/12th-house/
The Sultan: https://www.pinterest.com/mfah75/political/
Big Oil: http://www.bendib.com/environment/
High Speed Rail: https://www.railway-technology.com/projects/siemens-icx-high-speed-trains-germany/
Contactless delivery: https://www.businessinsider.com/fast-food-cooks-give-temperature-readings-customers-china-coronavirus-outbreak-2020-2?IR=T
Face mask: https://asiasociety.org/coronavirus-crisis
Empty shelves: Photo by author from the local paper, “L’Adige”