More than 280,000 people worldwide have died of COVID-19. The global economy and our livelihoods have been put on pause indefinitely. Doctors and healthcare workers are scrambling to save as many lives as possible while researchers are frantically developing vaccines. Strong accusations fly between and within nations regarding the cause of this pandemic and the individual and global response to it.
For many of us, it feels like our world is in chaos. But lightworkers, psychics, healers, and astrologists aren't panicking. Instead, they're relying on several forms of mysticism to put the pandemic into perspective for their followers. Others even insist they saw it coming.
In mid-March, when most European countries had announced nationwide lockdowns due to the pandemic, Alice Bell, British Vogue’s resident astrologer and an influencer based in New York, weighed in. “I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the astrology behind coronavirus, and this is what I have so far: On Jan. 12, Saturn and Pluto connected for the first time since 1982,” she wrote on Mar. 14 in her Instagram story highlight, “CORONA.” “Saturn represents structure, while Pluto represents deep transformation and upheaval.” She then looked into this planetary connection in history, in addition to a slew of other planetary shifts.
“This hasn’t [happened] since 1518, and the Protestant Revolution happened two months later, so the last time these two met in Capricorn this major upheaval happened,” she explained in a subsequent interview with journalist and filmmaker Sophia Li, on Li's IGTV show Supernatural is the New Natural .
Bell isn't alone. The Astro Twins wrote in their 2019 book, 2020 Horoscope, “the global economy may well be subject to the ever-present dangers of economic deterioration. This could set the stage for the ultimate Plutonian plot twist — a ‘black swan event’ — a term to denote a random event occurring outside all known statistical modeling and or status quo perspectives, an absolute surprise.” Some believed that self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne, who passed in 2013, predicted the virus in her 2008 book, End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies About the End of the World. She wrote: "In around 2020, a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments." (If the quote rings a bell, it might be because of Kim Kardashian's viral tweet about it.)
Astrology is not the only discipline trying to provide an explanation: Deborah Hanekamp, a healer and the author of the book Ritual Baths, explained that the reason why everything is so intense in New York City, now the epicenter of the pandemic, is because it was built upon a reserve of quartz. “If you go to any of the beaches and reach into the sand, you can pick up quartz crystals,” she tells InStyle. “It activates energy — it’s going to activate and intensify what you’re experiencing.” This applies to both creative excellence and tragedy. (There may be a scientific explanation: Quartz is indeed known as a piezoelectric crystal, which means that, while it’s not conductive, it can generate electricity when it’s subjected to pressure, and it’s been widely employed in technology.)
Leo Max, a hypnotist who specializes in past-lives regressions, connects this historical moment to Dolores Cannon’s theory of the three ascension waves, which relates to the awakening of the collective consciousness (early '70s; early '00s and 2012-present). “This is going to be the next phase of the mass awakening of the collective consciousness for the people to look inside, ask questions, and evolve,” he told me.
At first, all of these theories struck me as an “everything-happens-for-a-reason” rationale, a doomsday discourse for the spiritually minded Instagram generation, or a hindsight Cassandra effect bordering on conspiracy theory. And it's fairly pointless to try to back up these claims with science: As far as the crystal theory is concerned, the Italian region of Lombardy, which suffered a health crisis comparable to the New York area, has an amount of quartz in its geological rocks classified as “negligible” by mineralogy websites, and many psychologists agree that most astrology relies on confirmation bias. Even if astrologists claim that they predicted tragedies such as 9/11, the 2004 Tsunami in Indonesia, or the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, they did not prevent them from happening. So what good is the prediction issued in hindsight, anyway?
“For astrology and healers, when they say something like 'it's been in the cards,' it's because there are patterns that happen in history, and since time is a continuum, they are seeing patterns repeated during this time,” says the journalist Li, whose creed balances science and spirituality. “They don't know if it's a pandemic or something else — even [something] positive. They just understand a huge shift is about to happen to the world.”
In her interviews, Li asked her subjects why their predictions did not come in a more timely manner. “We underestimate how much free will we have as humans. We all are born with a soul and a destiny [or] purpose per se, but that doesn't mean we all align with it,” she explained, recapping what she’s learned. “We still have free will to drastically change the course of our path and collectively there's free will in the behavior that ultimately caused COVID-19, which boils down to the abuse of Mother Nature.”
“Correlation versus causation” has caused a lot of headaches for a lot of philosophers across the centuries, but another thing lightworkers and astrologists do agree on is the potential good of this situation.
The astrologist Bell called the meeting of Saturn and Pluto conjunction “a breakdown of what we know in order to welcome in a new way of doing things that will unfold over the next few years.” Hanekamp, the healer, expressed deep sadness at the lives lost, but insisted on seeing light in the current situation. “We’re reconnecting, realizing we don’t need this much. This massive grief makes us see how we’re all connected.”
Max, the hypnotist, shared Hanekamp’s silver lining-outlook, saying that lightworkers have been preparing for it for the past couple of years. “The times when you have to make these big leaps are not the times when everything is OK, they come when there’s some stress,” he said. “It seems crazy, like a domino effect, but when you emerge on the other side you see it was all worth it. The pandemic is like a collective version of that.” He does not feel fear that “we [light workers] are holding that light and the potential of positive change: we have to in order to grow that society,” he said. “Someone has to be holding that image, there’s visionaries in every culture.”
There are benefits to this frame of mind, and it’s not just related to the rise of spirituality and faith during hardship, as reported by study on JWT Intelligence, or to the fact that wellness (a la Goop) as an industry does benefit (to some degree) those who were let down or whose concerns were minimized by Western medicine.
Christine Gutierrez is a licensed therapist and the author of the upcoming book I am Diosa. Her practice, combining spirituality and traditional psychotherapy, mainly caters to trauma survivors, and she sees a connection between our response to the pandemic and forced isolation and the one displayed by personal-trauma survivors. Just like personal trauma, isolation, coupled with powerlessness and uncertainty, has caused spikes in severe depression and anxiety. “Meditative, contemplative, spiritual practices allow people to tap into an energy that is beyond their own,” she said. “We provide the spiritual support that you feel on a body level: when we’re breathing and meditating, we’re telling our nervous system that we’re safe. We teach clients coping skills in order to rewire their nervous systems.” A recent New York Times report confirms that traffic to astrology related websites increased between February and March, when the virus arrived stateside.
And while she cautions against over-spiritualizing a phenomenon such as COVID-19, “for the people that are home and safe enough, saying something like, ‘what can I learn from this experience?’ is something that can be powerful, but you have to be careful not to minimize [your] feelings around it.”
Gutierrez suggested, for example, being mindful of the things we can control. For example, to heal Mother Earth, one can plant seeds, or vow to drive in a car less often. “If you already have a school of thought that you believe in, and these 'bigger picture' messages from light work resonate, why not let it benefit you?" she says.
"I focus my energy only on what I can control and let go of what I can't control,” echoed Li, who described her attitude in this context as stoic. “Just that simple thought in itself will bring a huge relief to your mental and emotional state.”