ARS MORBUS: MORS NIGRA
O happy posterity, who will not experience such abysmal woe and will look upon our testimony as a fable.
On the 20th of Mach, 1345, it is believed that a triple conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in Aquarius harbingered one of the most catastrophic pandemics in all of human history, resulting in the deaths of between 75 and 200 million people in Eurasia, and initiating a death culture that would last well into our time.
Austin Coppock – one of the most talented, eloquent astrologers of our age – shares his insight:
It is a contemporary conceit to believe that plague is no longer with us. The post WWII years saw the humans triumph over a host of age-old afflictions. Polio, whooping cough tuberculosis and more fell one-by-one to the scalpel of modern science. Yet these gains, taken for granted, grow smaller every year. Long slumbering diseases have been roused, and those which were scheduled for elimination have shown dogged resistance to humanity’s best efforts. Plague is thus not a thing of the past, but an everpresent horseman, keeping pace with human progress. Though we may have pulled into a small lead, we have by no means outrun this dark rider.
Those who came before us knew well that this rider was forever at their back, and thus lived in anticipation of his terrible arrival. It should thus be in no way shocking to find that astrologers throughout history have done their very best to predict the times at which the waves of pestilence would crash against our shore. In a report commissioned by King Phillip VI from the University of Paris’ Medical Faculty in 1348, the fault of the great plague was thought to lie in a rare conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in Aquarius which had occurred some years earlier, in 1345. The report pointed to the malefic nature of the Great Conjunction which had occurred those few years earlier, and how it augured a disease both swift and terrible. But Medical Faculty of the University of Paris had the benefit of hindsight, and their retrospective spared no one.
Several hundred years later, in 17th century England, lived an astrologer somewhat more prescient. William Lilly, the “English Merlin” wrote in his 1665 Almanac “Here is approaching great fatality unto mankind…there may be feared some dangerous mortality, or plague to be at hand, inflicting destruction.” Furthermore, he wrote of “a sickly summer…during June, July or August..” Accompanied by the macabre illustration seen below, Mr. Lilly’s prediction was more than satisfied, for a plague swept the city of London at the appointed time, claiming one in six of its inhabitants.
Though rarely regarded with much reverence, the configuration of the heavens still proclaims the coming of afflictions terrible and cruel. When in August of 2014, Mars the Lesser Malefic and Saturn the Greater Malefic made their conjunction in the tropical sign of the Scorpio, a plague of sanguine horror spread about the lands of western Africa— Ebola.
Yet the planets did not speak of these terrible genesis, but instead their climax. Perhaps it is not the dire conjunctions which bring about such sicknesses, but instead merely direct our awareness to them. The sinister red light of Mars and the dull grave dirt glow of Saturn may indeed only seem evil to us in that they serve to illuminate the work of the horseman forever at our side.
One must wonder, then, what the heavens of this year are trying to communicate, for Mars and Saturn spend an unusual amount of together in 2016. They flirt for all of April, and then separate, only to be joined bodily over the Summer. They will do so against the red backdrop of Antares- the Heart of the Scorpio. Three eyed, like the oni of Japanese folkore, one can only wonder what this trio of eyes sees in our spring and summer months.