Unless it’s about an alien intervention, I am done with conspiracies theories—they are ubiquitous and ridiculous and I feel as if simply listening to them drains my life force. Last week and up until the moment of writing this week’s missive, I’ve heard the following theories: Dr. Fauci traveled to China to engineer the virus; the doctors and nurses on the front lines of the pandemic are murdering people in New York City and attributing their deaths to COVID-19; 5G electromagnetic rays are causing the virus; it’s a blue state hoax; the U.S. Army is responsible; Bill Gates made it happen; and on and on and on as the spin about the origins of the virus grow out of control, infecting and also reflecting perspectives everywhere. And that’s why I am rooting for the alien intervention theory; at least that one offers a chance of returning to my home planet safely.
Although I loved The X-Files, I have very little tolerance for conspiracy theories because I was raised on the idea that “they” were out to get us and spent much of my young life desperately trying to get a handle on what was real as I puzzled through who was friendly and who wasn’t. I had to figure it out because “they” actually were out to get us! My father (as many readers of this column might remember) was blacklisted in the ’50s for being a communist organizer, which he was while he worked as a merchant marine and member of the National Maritime Union. He was a union organizer and he was a communist and the FBI pursued him—persecuted him, really—and by association, his family; I was raised on the idea that the FBI was listening in on everything we were doing, certain they were taking notes and snapping pictures.
My father’s fascination with all sorts of conspiracy theories matured over time, even after the blacklist faded away, and by the time he was free from FBI persecution, he was his own left-wing version of Fox News—there was a mysterious “they” behind everything—everything. My stepfather also suffered from McCarthy’s blacklist, and when he died in 2001, his memorial was held at the Communist Party office in Manhattan. At my mother’s insistence, I had to warn friends who were coming to honor his life that their picture would be taken as they entered the building.
The thing about conspiracy theories is that they are built on the notion that we are victims of a force more powerful than any individual, and those manipulations by whatever secret force is working behind the curtain makes us all victims of its ultimate agenda. And victim is the operative word here. Don’t misunderstand: there are real victims—my father was one—but to live thinking your life is controlled by some unseen force—and not by a divine force—is a disheartening way to live, which is why I have always rejected it. I saw what it did to my father and I wasn’t going to let it happen to me. But the pandemic is not a secret force and there are real victims who need our support: COVID-19 has identified those most at risk and most in need of our help and compassion. If ever there was an argument for a national health care system, the coronavirus has made it clear that we must take care of ourselves and our fellow travelers.
Some conspiracies are real, but the theories that Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates, or the cell towers transmitting 5G rays invented COVID-19 are not, so when I hear people say, “Well, you just don’t know what to believe anymore,” I always disagree. Most of us have good, solid, common sense that allows us to know when something is true. If you’re paying attention, you can usually spot or smell the deceit. Are there dastardly plans being made and put into motion by mendacious people in power who want to rule the world? Absolutely. Steve Bannon has been very clear that Mr. Trump’s and his backers wanted to deconstruct the government—and they did—and we are suffering the consequences of that deconstruction: chaos in the face of a pandemic that needs a unified federal strategy to create order. But sometimes some things just happen because that’s life. COVID-19 is one of those things, which is one of the reasons it is life-changing and has brought almost everyone to their knees. Its power and presence caught us all off guard and it affects all of us, even the “they” behind every conspiracy theory.
We’ve always told stories to make sense of life and to create order out of chaos. Creation myths are our oldest stories. According to Dr. Barbara Sproul in Primal Myths, creation myths ask “the most profound human questions.” They are stories that express ultimate values and therefore act as guides to a deeper presence. They are always about our relationship to the unnamable force that gives birth to all life.
Stories about the origins of COVID-19 are not creation myths—although some are very creative. They don’t point to a transcendent force against which we can measure ourselves. All stories express the values of the storyteller, and if you listen carefully to all the conspiracy theories, you’ll hear the worldview and values that form their core. They are trying to make order out of chaos, but they just create more chaos.
Astrology also tells an origin story: it reminds us that we are part of the sky and that while we participate in its magnificence and mystery, it’s a mystery we are never going to fully comprehend. There are many astrological systems and every astrologer interprets the sky according to her value system, but no matter how diverse those interpretations may be—and they are diverse—they all share common ground: we belong to the sky.
Here’s a link to a Scientific American article about our shared celestial origins to remind us of our cosmic interconnectedness.
This week, the sky tells a specific story about slowing down and taking a good look at what’s transpired since the beginning of this year, when the effect of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction turned the world upside down—and we’ve got a lot to review. Saturn Retrograde begins on May 10; Venus Retrograde begins on May 12; Jupiter Retrograde begins on May 14. Pluto Retrograde began on April 25. Even though there is an undeniable urge to open up the country and get back to normal, there is no astral indication that opening is safe or that it will be successful. I hope I am wrong, but my hunch is that we are sure to see a surge in infections and hospitalizations and, of course, deaths as a result of premature action.
Venus slows down to a crawl this week in preparation for her retrograde, which begins in six days. Venus goes retrograde in a square to Neptune, in Pisces. Neptune rules imagination and Venus, goddess of love, beauty, and what matters most, turns around in Gemini, the Sign of the storyteller. Be prepared for even more theories about where the virus began and what it’s teaching us about who we are as humans.
As we work our way through these myriad stories about the how’s and why’s of our current condition, it’s important to be able to discern which stories about COVID-19 express values that will help us co-create a kinder and more perfect union. That co-creation could be the origin story of the next step in our evolution, a step toward compassion, unity, and love.