Woe to the city under Her frown.
She’s a pit trap for the headstrong.
The evil and proud will bend under Her weight. *
Big calamities—plagues, locusts, famines, floods—were long ago understood as messages from the gods. Today we might call this an event’s “spiritual message” or “deeper meaning.” The way the ancients made sense of things was to determine which god was annoyed and what would appease them.
To understand the coronavirus pandemic, we can do the same. We study the symbols and patterns just as ancient magicians did. Gods are always revealed by the details. First we determine who’s talking, then what the deity wants from us.
French linguists have decided the coronavirus is female, “la” not “le.” I agree. Worldwide we’re seeing the power of a Great Goddess, not a god. There are plenty of masculine gods. There’s really only one Great Goddess. Her vulva, womb, breasts, and many arms have been attributed throughout the millennia to both Venus and the Moon.
I find her most fully expressed as the goddess Innana/Ishtar of Mesopotamia, daughter of the Moon God and his wife. Four thousand years ago, in a patriarchal time much like ours, Ishtar was elevated to the top of the pantheon. Maintaining the delicate balance between dark and light—between chaos and prosperity—that was in Her Divine Feminine hands.
Clue one: the world is called home
As COVID-19 lockdowns halted activity around the world—the masculine gods’ venues were drained. Saturn’s offices and factories—emptied. Jupiter’s universities; mosques, temples and churches; political gatherings; airplanes and cruise ships—shut down. The stadiums, arenas and battlegrounds of Mars—quieted.
Humans were called home as the Goddess drew us nose-to-nose with Her concerns: life and death. This virus can kill people. Overnight the focus shifted to the basics: Food. Health. Our common needs for safety, support and love. How quickly the lockdown made us hyper-aware of how profoundly we need other people—spawning new leaps in technological connectivity overnight.
And bringing a new kind of intimacy. We now see public figures—local ones like teachers, co-workers and bosses—and the more famous—like artists, journalists, politicians, and late-night hosts—join us from their kitchens with bad haircuts and maybe a child or a dog in view. Power and celebrity have been humanized.
Further turning the world upside-down—the anonymous and underappreciated have risen to new heroic status. The armies of nurses, teachers, and essential workers who daily march in the trenches of the Goddess’ values, who comfort, feed, teach, clean, and keep us healthy—we see them with new more appreciative eyes.
What an amazing feat of goddess sorcery. She used our social isolation to create a broader sense of unity. We became aware of our membership in the greater family of humankind. How quickly “We’re all in this together” was on everyone’s lips.
Clue two: leisure to be and see more clearly
A couple weeks ago, just after the last frost, I went to my favorite greenhouses. They’re typically filled at this time with rows and rows of flowers in vivid colors. The greenhouses were empty! Why? “Ashland gardens will surely be beautiful this year,” the clerk said. “We’ve sold out of almost everything.”
What happens when we step off the hamster wheel? We do the Great Mother’s work. We garden. We bake bread. We mend things around the house. We share meals. We awaken our sensuous bodies. We do the things that make for a balanced, happier life. We smell the roses. We give ourselves time to connect with beauty, time to connect with ourselves.
Hamster wheels are dynamic and noisy. They spin us away from our hearts. But the Great Mother has broader designs. When we slow down and come into the moment, we’re not like the ones who go rushing around. We’re more present. We see things more clearly. Big truths—personal and collective—become harder to ignore.
Quickly the pandemic and its economic catastrophe exposed broad fault lines of social inequalities and severe failures in our institutions. The vulnerable and poor were bearing the greatest burden, even as they were being deemed “essential” workers.
Clue three: the mass outbreak of empathy
If you had told me a year or even three months ago that mass protests against racial inequality & police brutality would break out in cities and towns across the US and around the world lasting for weeks—I would not have believed you.
This new spirit around the planet is breath-taking. Whether or not one thinks this is gods-driven, it’s worth our awe. And reverence.
2020 is a spectacular year astrologically. It brings a convergence of powerful aspects between three masculine lords, suggesting deep structural changes. Also collisions and gridlock. There’s the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, pitting the old world against the new; the Jupiter/Pluto conjunction, raising the stakes, making everything bigger, more intense; and the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, coming at the end of this year, heralding the dawn of some new kind of day.
Masculine gods work through logic, force, and power. But the Great Goddess works with something stronger. Using the coronavirus, she took us out of our thinking & doing and into the core of feeling & being. During the weeks of quarantine, she softened then awakened our hearts.
And overnight—it got too painful. It was suddenly too painful to see the inequalities that have been under our collective nose for years. An astonishing transformative tidal wave poured through so many hearts at once—during the very weeks Ishtar was journeying in the Underworld, remaking herself as the Morning Star.
With hearts awakened—it hurt too much to be silent–to watch the inhumanity of systemic injustice continue. Here in the US, with pinpoint precision the Goddess took us back four hundred years to the root of our maladies–our original sin–slavery–the shadow underneath our shiny founding ideals of equality, democracy and freedom.
We were stirred to finally stand up for the Divine Feminine values embodied in our modern-day Ishtar—the Lady of Liberty—who proclaims: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” “Will it last?” people wonder. If we stay in our hearts it will.
Clue four: the rebound of rivers, oceans, land and air
Human miracles aren’t enough. With gods we expect to see a burning bush or two. We like to be astonished by our deities. Again with pinpoint precision, Ishtar has delivered. If anyone was still wondering whether it’s humankind that’s polluting the planet and wiping out species–what happened to Earth during the lockdown should remove all doubt. Once humans stopped–the natural world came back.
Four weeks after our quarantine, the River Ganges, perhaps the world’s most sacred yet worst polluted river was running clean & clear all the way from the Himalayas to Kolkata. Major cities around the world—Los Angeles, New Delhi, London, Seoul, Beijing—have seen their bluest skies in years. The ocean has rebounded. Without the waste and noise of our vessels, sea life is thriving. On tourist-free beaches, endangered turtles and crabs are breeding again.
How hopeless many of us feel in the destructive face of climate change. Yet in just a few short weeks Ishtar has shown us. We can make a difference. When we slow down and open our hearts, look what together we can do. The Great Goddess is the source of our wellbeing–also our creativity. She fuels it.
What is the deeper meaning of COVID-19?
The Great Goddess is the flow of intelligence inside our bodies and Nature. She is the divine in matter. Keeping balance within the Great Unity is Her business. With the coronavirus, She’s polished the mirror and offered up a profound reflection. Our enemy, the pathogen COVID-19, is very much like us. It’s an ambitious species out to conquer new worlds without regard for consequences. Much like us, the virus doesn’t notice its own violence–that when it kills what it depends on (us), it kills itself.
We’re still learning more about this pathogen. Now the scientists say it enjoys traveling through air droplets–the fine mist that spreads when humans talk, laugh, or sing. This too is a message. There’s symbolism in our masks. They suggest we should speak less and listen more. We should also mind our words. Words that have no truth behind them are dangerous in times like these. They are, like a virus, a spreading malevolence that kills. There is power in truth. Let the masks remind us that our words matter. Our world depends on them.
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