New York, The City with Jupiter Rising

Sunday May 10th 2020
The NYC smog of 1966 -- when Saturn opposed Pluto-Uranus.

The NYC smog of 1966 — when Saturn opposed Pluto-Uranus.

New York City is taking a battering. The virus appears to be stomping through the five boroughs like a horrible hungry ghost, killing people, emptying streets, destroying livelihoods. And yet, at the same time, New York’s famous resilience, resistance, sense of humour,and sheer vitality persist.

I have this chart for Greater New York from Lois Rodden’s Astrodatabank with an AA rating. It’s drawn up for the moment that the five boroughs were united as one big city in 1898. If you test it against 9/11, it works, with Mercury Rising (planes) and Jupiter on the MC (the world’s attention) — as well as many other spooky astrological transits.

New York has Jupiter, the planet of optimism, generosity, excess, literally joviality, smack on its Ascendant in Libra, the sign of culture and commerce. What could be more appropriate for a big, loud bustling metropolis, which has had such a huge impact on world culture. Here’s that giant juicy apple that welcomes incomers, turning them into New Yorkers overnight; the city of a thousand and one movies, and hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of stories, novels, articles, plays, musicals, dances, performance pieces, stand-up routines. New York spews culture out across the planet like a giant hose. With that stunning Mars-Venus conjunction in excessive, verbose Sagittarius in the third house of communications, it’s unstoppable.

The Pandemic

It’s easy to see what’s been hit in the NYC chart during this pandemic — the people, represented by the Moon.

New York’s 7th house Aries Moon shows us a people who are fast, aggressive, warm pioneers — and essentially egalitarian (although caveats elsewhere in the chart). And it’s exactly squared in the natal chart by the Nodes, the North Node in ambitious, aspirational Capricorn (“…if you can make it here”), and the South in homey Cancer (old families too). That Moon’s spot, precisely halfway between the Nodes, is called the bendings, and in any chart it’s powerful. New Yorkers are, of course, legendary — even to themselves. Wise-cracking, story-telling, smart, quick, first, independent — at least that’s the stereotype, and like some stereotypes, there’s some truth there.

The epochal triple conjunction — Saturn-Pluto-Ceres — in January was at 23° Capricorn, next to New York’s North Node, it’s destiny point, the direction it goes. The North Node sucks things in. Maybe some of the swirling darkness of that conjunction was inhaled then, and got stuck in the city’s lungs (ruled by Mercury).

Then Mars came along in February and set that virus off, and Jupiter came along in April and suddenly it was expanding out of control across the city.

NYC’s Mercury Rx, the planet of communications, in Capricorn, got the full blast of the triple conjunction too. This is a city built from stories by story-tellers, stories about itself, a city of character filled with characters — Eloise, Travis Bickle, Holly Golightly, John Grimes, Harriet M. Welsch, Sherman McCoy, Francie Nolan, Annie Hall, Holden Caulfield, “Paul Auster”, Reuven Malter, Oskar Schell, Carrie Bradshaw — Don Corleone… and on and on. There will be so many, many more stories to tell about the plague in New York.

The other important astrological feature of the beginnings of the pandemic was the transiting North Node passing over the city’s Ceres at 3° Cancer, her carers (the nurses of New York, the priests and doctors). These are the people who really pull their weight right now, who carry on, and maybe even drag the city through a gateway into the future.

All cities run on a tacit contract between citizens. We have to agree to co-operate to make urban life work. Those agreements can be unsaid: how far apart do you stand on the subway? how loud are you in your flat? do you queue for your coffee or just muscle up to the front? New York is a highly civil place bound by myriad unspoken rules — although the aggressive street signage always makes me laugh. I loved the old LITTERING IS A FILTHY AND DISGUSTING HABIT, now sadly replaced with something less shouty. This civil contract, Juno (contracts) in Libra in the first house, is being tested — it’s at 23°, squared by those planets in Capricorn.

It’s interesting that by transit Juno is actually retrograde in Libra right now. She backed into the 12th house of isolation on April 22. These rules of behaviour are being rewritten — “stand further apart, wear a mask, shut yourself in your apartment”. Transiting Juno will turn direct later this month, but she won’t pass back over Jupiter until early July, and she’ll be in the 12th house until then. By that time the social distancing rules may be inculcated.

There may also be issues with how justice is meted out during this period — or at least it will have to be closely monitored.

But let’s talk about Saturn, the planet of fear, stalking the streets of the city in the 4th house, home. Saturn moved through those last seven degrees of Capricorn, the actual built environment, in the first three months of 2020. Currently he’s at 1° Aquarius and standing still. He hit that critical 26° on February 9, and he’ll be back on August 31, and then October 27.

Keep in mind that when you get a triple transit like this, it’s usually the first hit that’s the worst, and the other two are when you’re getting used to the new world.

Right now, cold Saturn at 1° is squaring Vesta in Scorpio and it may feel like the flame of vital life in the city is burning very low. But Vesta in Scorpio is an absolute survivor, she can keep going when she’s just an ember.

Jupiter and Pluto made an explosive conjunction on April 5 at 24°. They’ll be back together again on 30 June at 24°, and then again at the end of November at 22°.

Another planet involved in all this mess, is natal Chiron in the second house of cash at 25° Scorpio, making a nice sextile to those transiting planets in Capricorn. New York has been bankrupt before and come out of it. (Just to prove this chart further: on the night New York City saved itself from bankruptcy, 18 October 1975, Pluto (debt) and Mercury (talks) were at 9° Libra! And Chiron was at 25° Aries.) It’s a place that goes boom and busts, but also, perhaps, runs on debt, imaginative innovation and risk-taking (Uranus and Saturn in Sag in H2).

That curious Uranus currently receives a nice sextile also from Saturn in Aquarius. It is time to think about the real future, what kind of 21st city New York could become. How would that really work? Could it be reimagined as a green city, generating its own power, growing vegetables up skyscrapers? Nurturing eagles on the Chrysler building, grazing goats on Madison Avenue, seeing dolphins in the Hudson? Maybe the city of the future is something completely different and New Yorkers will get there first.

Powerful Mars

For the final six months of the year, Mars will be in Aries. The most similar one — in the four (1909, 1973, 1988) last century — was in 1941. If you’re a historian of NYC perhaps these dates mean something to you. You’d be looking for public disorder or possibly “enemies” of the city coming out fighting.

Note that Mars will go retrograde over NYC’s Moon in September. This may mark a second wave of infection, but this time, the City will be prepared, and able to respond quickly. I note today that Mayor De Blasio is suggesting that’s when the city will fully reopen… well, maybe, but only with new rules in place that everyone is able to follow. Mars Rx is never a time to push ahead.

So it looks like New York will be going through some tough times at least until the end of 2020, when both Saturn and Jupiter will finally leave Capricorn. The learning curve — unlike that other one — looks very steep, but climbable.

Bon courage.


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