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Reflections on Coronavirus and the Saturn-Pluto Conjunction

This ain’t no party
This ain’t no disco
This ain’t no fooling around
“Life during Wartime” — The Talking Heads

To understand something about the astrology of the coronavirus pandemic, not to mention its impact on our world economy, it’s useful to consider the influence of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction that’s affecting our world right now. Although that aspect technically completed on January 12 of this year, an aspect of this magnitude exerts a long-term influence, months or even years beyond its exact completion. As an example, think back to the last Saturn-Pluto conjunction of the early 1980s, and how that led to such long-term developments as the AIDS crisis and the “Reagan Revolution,” among other things.

As astrologers such as Richard Tarnas have pointed out, hard aspects between Saturn and Pluto have historically been associated with dramatic world events and crises, from wars and political upheavals to famines or even plagues. But what I’d like to call attention to here is something a little different from what some others have been focusing on lately, and that has to do with what I’d call the “mood” of Saturn-Pluto.

Whenever these two planets have joined up throughout history, there inevitably seems to emerge a mood of deep seriousness — perhaps even “dread.” If you want a good cinematic expression of what I’m talking about, just check out the original movie Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, which premiered in February of 1931 literally within days of an exact Saturn-Pluto opposition. That film conveys a powerful sense of Saturn-Pluto dread and foreboding as well as any I’ve seen — which, of course, was a mood definitely in the air throughout society at the time, as a result of the Great Depression. (Incidentally, Lugosi himself was born under a Saturn-Pluto conjunction, so he seems right out of central astro-casting to have played that part!) (See charts below.)

For a more real-world expression of that same sense of dread, though, just think back to when those two planets were in opposition in 2001. Like me, you may remember the mood in the air immediately after 9/11, when there was an almost “end of the world” sense of heaviness permeating the air, a feeling of great uncertainty and fear. Were we all about to be obliterated in some act of nuclear terrorism? I remember just a few days after the Twin Towers came crashing down, I was walking in a local park with a friend when a loud boom echoed through the atmosphere; everyone in the park stopped what they were doing to look up because we all seriously feared that a nuclear device might have just gone off somewhere, most likely in nearby Chicago. In fact, it turned out to be a fighter jet triggering a sonic boom when it scrambled overhead to deal with the possible threat of a passenger jet that had mistakenly wandered off its scheduled flight path (it all turned out to be a false alarm). I also remember how the mood in supermarkets at the time was noticeably different, too — Were the vegetables in the produce section now poisoned by random terrorists using hypodermic needles? It seems all a bit insane now in retrospect, but it was a palpable fear at the time, and it was all very Saturn-Pluto in vibe.

I’m noticing much the same general feeling now, just in a different guise. I went to the supermarket this morning, and while there wasn’t a concern over produce poisoned by terrorists, there was a similar sense of concern among shoppers. Was there going to be a food shortage? Were we about to face a killer pandemic? Is the economy about to crash? When Saturn-Pluto makes the rounds, it’s as though we’re all enlisted to act out the mythic drama of Persephone en masse, as we’re collectively pulled down into the “underworld” to confront life’s darker side.

But as bleak as all that might seem on its surface, there is actually a silver lining to it that we need to remember. To explain what I mean, think back to that time right after 911. As heavy as it was, the seriousness of it also had the effect of shocking many of us out of our superficial concerns into a deeper reflection on life itself. We were suddenly jolted into a solemn awareness of the fragility of life, and perhaps even the importance of community, with a feeling that “we were all in this together.” I’d even say there was a spiritual quality about it in some ways, and I remember how our local classical music station devoted several days to playing recordings of great seriousness, but also of great beauty, like Samuel Barber’s “Addagio For Strings,” Bach’s “Mass in B Minor,” and Mozart’s “Requiem.” As difficult as that period was, there was also an unexpected perception of beauty in that “underworld” that so many of us found ourselves suddenly thrust into.

Of course, not everyone reacted that way, but then that seems to be part of the extremism that accompanies this planetary combo. When Saturn-Pluto comes around, it compels some of us to dig deeper, to be more contemplative and sensitive to life’s presence, and to reach out and be more compassionate toward others, while others are compelled to become more closed off and guarded, more selfish or paranoid. You even see that same extremism in the charts of many people born under strong Saturn-Pluto aspects, where that sense of heaviness and darkness can lead to similarly different extremes, from profound spiritual or creative depths on the one hand, to more constrictive feelings of fear or pessimism on the other.

It goes without saying that each of us has that same choice now — whether to respond to these Saturn-Pluto energies with fear, pessimism, and paranoia, or with compassion and kindness, and a commitment to using that sense of seriousness to dig deeper and draw upon those treasures of the underworld.

But it’s good to remember that while the alignment of these two planets can indeed evoke that “end of the world” feeling, the world has never actually ended any of these times, and somehow we’re still here to tell of it — most of us, anyway. Life continues on after Saturn and Pluto have their time on the dance floor, and it will carry on this time as well.


(Charts with Placidus houses, True node)

(1) Bela Lugosi, October 20, 1882, 3:30 p.m. LMT, Lugos, Romania (45N2 21E54) AA data;
AstroDatabank: Bela Lugosi

(2) premiere Dracula, February 12 1931, Manhattan, NY (40N35 73W59)

Ray Grasse is associate editor of The Mountain Astrologer, and author of several books, including The Waking Dream, Signs of the Times, Urban Mystic, An Infinity of Gods, and Under a Sacred Sky. His website: Ray


  1. 15-18% of all cold and flu viruses are corona viruses. The latest Corona virus 2019 is a lab-altered corona virus with HIV elements and 4 altered proteins.

    The propaganda meme is: any corona virus = corona virus 2019 ….. which is a lie.

    • This is a media controlled fear. Saturn conj. Pluto=fear real and imagine. Neptune is in Pisces sextile Saturn Pluto. Neptune is strong in it own sign and is in Pisces. sextile=opportunity. One must look behind the media hype. The truth will not be revealed because they will not make a complete sextile.

      • @Val and @Linda:

        I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next gal — and as a middle-aged African-American woman, both my in-group cultural history and my personal life experience more than justify such open-mindedness, IMHO — but even I must ask the source of conclusions like “the latest Corona virus 2019 is a lab-altered corona virus with HIV elements and 4 altered proteins” and “this is a media controlled fear.”

        As MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid often exhorts in her Twitter feed — and as I also ask of my undergrads and grad students in my classroom teaching — please ‘show your work,’ naming your sources and including links to them.

        Thanks in advance,

  2. Thanks for this wisdom-rich essay. There is good guidance: respond in a smart, spiritual way and tune out the hype!

  3. Really? That’s it?

    Not to mention the false flag that was also, and the gullible masses buying into that pluto manipulation.

    • @Lana:

      Please consider yourself included in the request that I made to @Val and @Linda above — namely, that you cite and link to your sources for (in your case) your conclusion that both the current COVID-19 crisis and 9/11 were “false flag” operations sold to “the gullible masses.”

      Thanks in advance,

  4. p.s. for the record, my article was simply addressing our reaction to the virus, not the nature or ultimate source of it – I’ll let others make up their own minds about that. Cheers.

    • It goes without saying that each of us has that same choice now — whether to respond to these Saturn-Pluto energies with fear, pessimism, and paranoia, or with compassion and kindness, and a commitment to using that sense of seriousness to dig deeper and draw upon those treasures of the underworld.
      And I’d like to suggest that it’s not necessarily one OR the other
      And that there are people myself included, who can experience both of those particularly the fear-pessimism and the kindness-compassion.

      • Yes!

    • “It goes without saying that each of us has that same choice now — whether to respond to these Saturn-Pluto energies with fear, pessimism, and paranoia, or with compassion and kindness, and a commitment to using that sense of seriousness to dig deeper and draw upon those treasures of the underworld.”
      I’d like to suggest that it’s not necessarily one OR the other
      And that there are people, myself included, who are experiencing and expressing both each day,
      the fear-pessimism-paranoia and the kindness-compassion.
      Thank you!

    • “It goes without saying that each of us has that same choice now — whether to respond to these Saturn-Pluto energies with fear, pessimism, and paranoia, or with compassion and kindness, and a commitment to using that sense of seriousness to dig deeper and draw upon those treasures of the underworld.”
      I’d like to suggest that it’s not necessarily one OR the other
      And that there are people, myself included, who are experiencing and expressing both each day,
      the fear-pessimism-paranoia and the kindness-compassion.
      Thank you!

    • “Opportunity knocks.” Saturn Pluto say who is the leader? You? Your Inner Guru? or the government leaders? Think for oneself and be the leader of your own self. Trust your Inner Guru but first we (me included!) must clear out the old patterns and beliefs that are in the way. Opportunity knocks giving us the time and space to contemplate meditate and let go of what is not real and seek to “KNOW.” Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are all conjunct my natal Rising Jupiter Moon conjunction which is 21-26 degrees of Capricorn. Lessons given as I see it…fear of the unknown, facing this boils down as all fear does, to fear of death, pain and suffering. Thank God/Goddess for NDE’s who have been sharing their experiences with us.
      Onward together.

      • little more:
        those I know with Saturn/Pluto conjunction have had their own issues with being too controlling and using power incorrectly to then discover they are doing that so they can let it go of that other lifetime patterning and move forward in love and shared vision and cooperative forward momentum for the good of ALL. all of One and One for ALL. Saturn and Pluto is about dictatorships, facing fears and death. What is death… we are being asked, now. Also the power of prayer, positive send outs of healing love energy.. to all is where it’s at.
        Love to all of you, me,we, THEE it’s all us.

    • Mr. Grasse, may I share a rave and a comment?

      First the rave: as a longtime fan of your work, I was eager to read your astrological take on the COVID-19 crisis. I thank you for this article.

      Now the comment: I think that both several of the comments here and your article’s suggestion that Saturn-Pluto events meet each of us where we already are — i.e. plumbing our lived experience, individual belief systems, and *tendencies* of belief — illustrate that said Saturn-Pluto events influence not only how we interpret our direct experience of the event itself, but also what we’re most likely retain from it and recall later.

      e.g. You recall poisoning fears at your local food market as a core example of post-9/11 paranoia, anxiety, and reactionary behavior. Whenever I recall the same issues from the same period, I think of PBS NewsHour’s near-nightly coverage of the wave of post-9/11 attacks on the homes, businesses, and physical persons of Muslim-Americans — and folks like Sikhs whom attackers mistook for Muslim-Americans — even after the Bush Administration (of which I am generally not a fan) spoke out against such attacks. As a person of color, the latter example is the one that burned most deeply for me.

      Similarly, when you recall the aforementioned post-9/11, grocery-store-poisoning scares, they’re an emblem of the outsized and often ungrounded fears of the period. In contrast, if someone asked me about ‘post-9/11 poisoning scare,’ I’d recall the anthrax mail poisonings that struck Capitol Hill and killed at least 2 DC-area postal workers in the weeks and months immediately following 9/11. (Folks too young to remember this can again search PBS NewsHour’s online archives by keyword.)

      While these anthrax poisonings were later found to be the work of domestic terrorists completely unconnected to the 9/11 conspirators (per the fog-of-war vibe your article captures), the fear these initially-misunderstood but very real poisonings sparked in the weeks after 9/11 is burned into my memory because they ‘met’ me when I was working my way through graduate school in a full-time job as a postal worker. Since my daily task during this period was thus to don a hazmat suit, supervise inspections of all of the university’s incoming mail for ‘suspicious’ pieces, bag said pieces, and send them to be autoclaved to kill potential anthrax spores, the poisoning fears of the era had their basis in cold, hard reality for me and my coworkers.

      So thanks again for this timely and thought-provoking article — and for all of your work. (Your article on the importance of radix stationing planets changed my life!) Please stay safe and well.

  5. Rick Tarnas also referred to Saturn-Pluto as a crisis of contraction.

    • Today my greatest fear is that our current leaders will be able to hold onto the old world…I have been choosing to look forward to a total reset and a brand new world….I’m not sure I could deal with having to go back into the old world 🙁

  6. Thank you, Ray. Your article is not only informative, but provides comfort. I, and probably most of us, are in need of perspective and solace.

    It will be fascinating to see what is born of Saturn’s early walk through Aquarius. Saturn moves into the sign on March 31, and will mark 1 degree of the water bearer’s domain until retrograding back into Capricorn.

    I see this first dip as a preview of coming attractions in terms of the fear and dread Bela Lagosi’s persona as Dracula and the premiere of the movie. What resonance will be see? There is a “vampires” (new) series available now on Netflix, for example.

    Bela’s Mercury at 2 AQ will receive the square (two times at least by rx and direct Saturn motion) and will bring the conjunction to his Moon (4 Aquarius) on January 20, 2021, when the next president is inaugurated.

    Saturn at 1 AQ conjoins Dracula movie premiere Mercury at the same time as the above-mentioned aspects to Lagosi’s natal chart. It also will oppose Movie Premiere Mars in Leo at 1 degree (twice by rx and sd planet motion). I’ll be alert to resonances in connection with Culture, fad, fashions, obsessions and extremes (Neptune in Pisces is a “bacchanal” of all that!) in months to come.

    I am curious to see what kind of visible change in fashion will take place when the Autumn 2020 fall collections are previewed. I had this weird idea some designer is going to update the Black Plague garb of hat, beak nose and long gown for the runway.

    My imagination tends to be a bit dramatic, but it’s in line with the times!

  7. I enjoyed this article. Thankful Ray Grasse took the time to write and post it. I am 76, been through the other Saturn/Pluto cycles, both as a personal chart and larger social political events. While I feel a bit edgy, wondering why humanity doesn’t just grow up!, I also feel a lot of comfort in that a lot of falsehoods are being dredged up by these planets, and we do have the option to make better choices. `Some folks truly did in the past. For example, we have a better grasp of our Arab Muslim brothers and sisters now, their cultures and their diversities. Yes, S.O.S. Pompeo, lots of us do know where Ukraine is, too! We all can see our similarities, especially among the three Earth religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam. The three all have the real
    Peope of faith, and also religious extremism. We all have a lot more to learn, even so.

  8. Excellent analysis. Saturn & Pluto conj. remind of The Seventh Seal film-“playing chess with Death”.
    Saturn is the end of cycles, Pluto is the “burial” (literally and metaphorically) of the cycle with the promise that our ashes will not be wasted-renewal awaits. Looking forward to the New Moon in Aries on 3/24.

  9. Thank you Ray for pointing out that the world did not end before. Take lots of Vitamin C that is how in part Wuhan is controlling things…

  10. Ray, I forgot to add that Bats have been identified as (perhaps) the core species containing the C-virus and human trafficking in them as caused the virus to jump to h.sapiens. Bats have also been identified as carriers of Ebola. I will refrain from what I’d like to say about animal traffickers and trophy hunters for purposes of remaining polite in this forum!

    Suffice it to say: Dracula transforms into a bat at will. To him, they are a sacred animal. I learned on BBC WORLD NEWS that vampire bats actually french kiss with blood to cement their partner bonds. Wow.

    • Claudia, sorry, but bats were not the cause of the outbreak. There is a lot if misinformation being bandied about.

      • What the cause? I heard the virus was tracked to a wild animal species sales in Wuhan. Bats were named after having been tested positive for the virus, as were Pangolins. So to this extent, this wild animal market is one of the proximate causes of viral spread.

        • I heard it escaped from a lab where researchers were trying to find vaccines. I heard a lab assistant accidentally got contaminated then went off to meet her boyfriend for lunch in Wuhan market. Which is not to deny some of the molecules they were dealing with did not originate in bats.

  11. Love this thread. I have Sun/Sat at 26/28 Cancer so am keenly monitoring the Sat/Pl showdown. Every article helps keep me calm and rational in the face of personal, interpersonal and societal meltdowns. And they do come in waves.

    Recalled last night watching one of those Anthony Bourdain-type food shows, Americans in an open-air food emporium in China, a few months ago. The ebullient host had a tough time persuading the contestants who’d won trips to China to sample the delicacy—some bat concoction. Only after the cook cut open a bat, sliced it up before their very eyes, did they dare to eat it. They each found it very tasty. I thought they were all bats**t crazy and that you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to do it.

  12. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for all these comments…I know Ray was having some computer issues;-) and I’m sure he’ll join this thread as soon as he can..

    Be well, stay safe everyone.


  13. I find it interesting that BL has Neptune in the 2and, and in Taurus, no less: it’s easy to see that he would earn income from film. The rest of that stellium is certainly fitting, given the genre of film he was known for, too.

    As for the premiere, Jupiter-Pluto in the 5th! Abundance of dark underworld vibe, anyone? He made horror “fun!”

    I am refraining from “Covid-commenting,” because I am so tired of it all – it’s overwhelming and at the same time, frustrating (and often infuriating),because there is SO much misinformation going around and around. So much hype – in the worst way. 🙁

  14. Thank you for the balance, wisdom and compassion for us all in your writing of this article, Ray. As someone born under an exact Saturn/Pluto conjunction who has been working to understand and draw the best possible energy from this powerful and uncompromising planetary conjunction for half a lifetime, I would endorse everything you say here.

  15. Thanks for the article by Ray Grasse, which contains several kernels of truth about it. About Saturn conjunct Pluto and fear, anxiety, and doom and gloom. I am an astrologer who needs to see a planet’s influence, up close, before I can process its’ effect on me and others. I need to see it with my own eyes and, I never prejudge ! Back in the 1970’s, I was at an astrology conference in Montreal, Quebec, when I observed a large black man sitting at the back of the meeting room. The seminar had just ended and all of the participants were greeting each other, making small talk. But, this one man seemed to be by himself and no one had approached him. So, I did and the conversation was friendly. It turns out that he had an intense, frightening Plutonian gaze about him and he was darker than the earth you step on. However, I was not concerned. I just treated him like a normal human being ? We then started to talk about natal charts and it turns out that he had his handy. He had Saturn conjunct Pluto conjunct the natal Ascendant in Leo, and he was a Sun in Leo to boot ! Wow. Well, my natal Uranus conjoins my Leo ascendant and HIS Saturn/Pluto aspect, so his proverbial apple cart was upset by me, the Uranian agent ! LOL The bottom line ? Never be distressed by the natural order of planets or a certain aspect. View all planets (and all humans?) with respect and be not afraid if they are Black, Chinese, White, or from outer space. Take one day at a time and feel lucky that you are still alive. Please do your own thing while COVID 19 wears down everybody. Stay safe !

  16. You know, the COVID 19 virus scare has produced not just disease (in my community) but also, unexpected acts of kindness and goodness and people being cajolled into being friendly and inclusive. That might be a good thing ! You don’t have to witness Saturn and Pluto in the same part of the sky to experience gloom and doom. Some of you are “Saturn = Pluto” like all of the time, with the smell of sexism, elitism, and or oneupmanship. The astrology community can reek of this, so badly, it’s like I need to put on a gas mask, just to escape the fumes of noxious banality ?

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