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Ebola in the U.S. and Hellenistic Maltreatment Aspects


The nation has been gripped with concern for the well-being of the American public over the arrival of the Ebola virus to our homeland. On September 20th Thomas Eric Duncan came to the United States from Liberia to visit family. On September 24th Duncan went to Texas Presbyterian Health Hospital in Dallas with a fever and told a nurse he has been to Liberia. But he was sent home with antibiotics and Tylenol. On September 28th he returned to the hospital in an ambulance and was isolated; two days later on September 30 the CDC confirmed that the first patient on U.S. soil had been diagnosed with Ebola. In the days following his hospitalization and eventual death, two nurses involved in his direct care were diagnosed as also having contracted the virus.

I wanted an astrological lens through which to look at the situation, and after considering the pros and cons of these key moments in the timeline, I finally decided to evaluate the chart for the moment of the CDC confirmation of the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States: September 30 2014, 1:22 pm, Austin Texas. This chart speaks not only to Duncan’s fate, but also to the subsequent course of events that arose as a result of his contagion. In the following analysis, I will use several traditional Hellenistic methods, paying special attention to the aspect doctrine of maltreatment, along with a selection of relevant asteroids.

Ebola Outbreak U.S. Chart

The chart opens with 23° Sagittarius Ascendant, sounding the notes of long-distance journeying and wide-ranging ethical issues that cross international borders. The Moon at 24° Sagittarius is conjunct the Ascendant and it is the lord of the 8th house – thus the matters of the 8th house of death and fears are brought to bear upon the matters of the 1st house of life. The Moon signifies the archetype of the caretaker and nurse, and the immediate impact of the contagion was first visited upon the two nurses involved in his direct care who contracted the virus. The Moon is also a general significator of the public, and the public response was a widespread fear of danger. Mars is present in the first house as well, and in ancient texts is associated with epidemics, fevers, and plagues.

The asteroids conjunct the Ascendant are Aletheia, the Greek personification of truth. Is the American public being told the truth of the matter? Did Thomas Duncan tell the truth about not being near an Ebola patient before he left Liberia? Did the hospital tell the truth of why Duncan was initially sent back home?

The asteroid Icarus is also present, the winged youth who, ignoring his father’s warnings for moderation, flew too close to the Sun and fell into the sea. Icarus’ presence suggests the arrival of the virus on an airplane, which may lead to a disastrous crash scene before the story is over if panic sets in and the situation gets out of control. Had Icarus followed the ‘middle path’ instead of going to the extremes, he would not have crashed. This asteroid speaks to the call for moderation as the best means to avert the crisis.

The third asteroid of interest is Tisiphone, one of the Furies, who was described by Ovid as clad in a bloody gown, with serpent tresses spreading poison as their forky tongues dart (Metamorphoses, IV).

The most important planet in any chart is the Lord of the Ascendant, which in this case is Jupiter, the lord of the Sagittarius Ascendant. The remainder of this short analysis will focus primarily upon Jupiter, located at 15° Leo in the 9th house of foreign affairs and long distance journeys, further accentuating that something from a distant foreign country came here and the solution to the crisis includes an international response. Jupiter also rules the 4th house (occupied by the sign Pisces in this chart) which speaks to the homeland; connecting the fate and security of the United States with that of foreign countries as they are joined by long distance travel.

Conjunct Jupiter is the asteroid Aesculapia, the name for ancient healing sanctuaries which are now the hospitals. The actual state of preparedness of Texas Presbyterian Hospital, as well as all the other U.S. hospitals, to treat the illness has become the one of the most prominent issues to arise as the alarms are being sounded by the nurses.

At first glance, Jupiter’s position and condition portend a reassuring sign for the matter turning out favorably. Jupiter is benefic, belongs to the favored diurnal sect of the chart, resides in the fortunate 9th house named God by the ancients; rejoices by hemisphere, sign, and solar phase; is favorably configured with a strong benefic Venus in Libra, ruling the 6th house of the disease as well as its own domicile lord, the Sun; and it witnesses the life force of the Ascendant by a superior trine – the best aspect from the best planet which is in relatively good condition.

Now let’s take a closer look at Jupiter from the perspective of Hellenistic aspect doctrine which specifies a set of special conditions known as maltreatment.  In some circumstances, a planet, via its aspectual relationships, has the capacity to severely injure another planet, rendering it incapable of bringing forth its agenda in the best interest of the individual. In recent lectures I have discussed maltreatment with the identification of trauma in the birth chart, and within the next year, this work will be made available for purchase on my website.

Jupiter is applying to a square of Saturn at 20° Scorpio, a malefic planet in the 12th house of confinement (quarantine), enemies, afflictions, illnesses. Saturn rules the 2nd and 3rd houses suggesting the economic impact upon the transportation industry, and hence the stock market, is a major consideration in the measures being taken. However, Jupiter is in superior position (on the right and earlier in the natural order of the signs) relative to Saturn and thus can prevail, overcoming the difficult indications of Saturn (see Firmicus Maternus, 6.9.2-3); unless Jupiter is struck by a “backward hurled ray” from Saturn within 3-degrees.

The exact orb between Saturn and Jupiter is 4-degrees 36-minutes, which points to Jupiter’s close brush with a fatal injury, but just missed by a hairs’ breadth. In fact, the applying aspect does not become perfect, as Jupiter will turn retrograde before it makes an exact aspect to Saturn, while both planets are still in their respective signs. Thus, so far, while Jupiter (the benefic life force of the chart) has a close encounter with a dangerous enemy, it can turn back escaping the fatal assault. Jupiter reaches 20° Leo in late October, slowing down to station at 22° Leo in mid-December.  I wonder if this period represents the peak of this particular crisis, followed by some retreat or containment of the virus during the retrograde period. Or at the very least, it points to a focused concentration upon revising the protocols and preparedness of the medical response.

But Jupiter still has another problem, and that is maltreatment by being enclosed by the rays of both malefics.  As mentioned before, Saturn at 20° Scorpio, casts a square ray to 20° Leo on one side of Jupiter. Mars at 11° Sagittarius casts a trine ray to 11° Leo on the other side of Jupiter. No other classical planet casts an aspect ray into the intervening space (the sextiles of Venus and Sun go to 1° and 7° of Leo; Mercury’s square ray goes to 1° Leo; and the Moon’s trine ray goes to 24° Leo). Medieval astrologers gave the name ‘besiegement’ and Vedic astrologers ‘being scissored’ to the enclosure of a planet by the rays of malefics. It indicates that Jupiter is surrounded by dangerous energies, hemming it in on both sides and severely restricting it from easily expressing its beneficial restorative, recuperative, and healing powers.

The question that I am pondering regarding the judgment of Jupiter, and ultimately of the course of Ebola virus in the U.S. during this first direct encounter as based upon this chart, is if maltreatment by enclosure trumps the power of a benefic Jupiter overcoming Saturn.  Or does Jupiter still have the strength to prevail? I welcome discussion of this question by Hellenistic aficionados. And of course the events as this year closes will further illuminate our understanding of Hellenistic aspect theory.

As I complete this essay on the Solar Eclipse day, it appears as if Jupiter, despite the potentially frightening dangerous situation that engulfed him, has in the end handled the crisis quite well. All of Duncan’s relatives and initial contacts have been released from quarantine without having become ill; the two Texas nurses are recovering; the CDC is radically upgrading its protocols which were found to be insufficient; hospitals are evaluating their facilities to treat the illness; the nurses are demanding and receiving adequate protective gear and training; the waste disposal systems are being figured out; screening processes are being put into place at the airports, and a new Ebola Czar has been appointed to oversee the coordinated efforts.

Thomas Eric Duncan died just hours after the Lunar Eclipse on October 8th when the transiting Aries Moon passed over Uranus and the South Node of the diagnosis chart. Eclipses are portents of collective events within which an individual may have the destiny to trigger or participate in some way. As I write this, I await what the Solar Eclipse that will conjunct Mercury at 1° Scorpio in the 12th house of the diagnosis chart will portend. What secrets are yet to be revealed? A post script here with the news that an Ebola diagnosis was confirmed in New York City the next day, rumors of required quarantine for all medical workers returning from West Africa, and begs a new chart to follow its course there.

Other asteroids of interest include: Karma conjunct Ascendant and Moira (Fate) conjunct Jupiter;  Africa conjunct the  I.C.; Duncan conjunct Pluto opposed by Hygeia (nurses and public health); Thomas conjunct Louise quincunx Juno in 8th (they were going to get married but never did because he died); Lise (nurse) conjunct Venus in Libra, ruler of 6th ; Amber (nurse) in the 6th.

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