Not since last year’s exposure by Julian Assange and Wikileaks of classified documents has there been such a dramatic exposure of secret spying as the current scandal involving Edward Snowden, the young man who has blown the whistle on the surveillance of the National Security Agency on ordinary Americans and revealed the details of the PRISM program to the international press. Snowden had traveled to Hong Kong but on June 23rd took a plane to Moscow, ostensibly under the protection of the Wikileaks organization, with plans to seek asylum in a country with a more open government, potentially Ecuador.
Incidentally, the Uranus/Pluto square (see the sidebar for a description of this planetary cycle) has a big part to play in the disruption by wild card factors (Uranus in Aries) of the state power structures (Pluto in Capricorn) and the revolutionary force of Uranus in Aries battling against any repressive factor is another highlight of this cycle.
The Planet Waves crew sent away for and received a copy of Edward Snowden’s birth certificate which makes it much easier to do a comprehensive analysis of his chart. This is an extremely significant event and even “Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked what became known as the Pentagon Papers, said today on CNN that Mr Snowden had done an “incalculable” service to his country and that his leaks might prevent America from becoming a surveillance state. (Read more here.)
Snowden’s chart shows a strong Gemini influence, with not only the Sun in Gemini (at 29 degrees, an important factor we will discuss later); but also a triple or quadruple whammy involving the ascendant (Gemini ascendant, ruled by Mercury, conjoined by Mercury which is in Gemini, ruled by Mercury). All of this tells us that the Mercury/Gemini influence is extremely powerful in his chart and one of the dominating factors. (Remember Mercury is the planet – the “what” – and Gemini is the sign – the “how.”) Throw in the fact that Mars (motivation) and the North Node (future destiny) are in Gemini and there is a powerful force for disseminating, processing and assimilating information at work in this man’s chart.
Jupiter and Uranus are the two liberation planets and they are conjunct in Snowden’s chart. Jupiter liberates through a mindset of expansion and freedom, and Uranus through rebellious acts that destroy the status quo and open up doorways on a larger scale. This conjunction in itself would signify a fierce desire for liberty, but the fact that Jupiter and Uranus are opposite Mercury and the Ascendant intensifies that even more and brings a tighter focus to the idea of freedom (Jupiter/Uranus) of information (Mercury/Gemini).
Snowden has five retrograde planets in his chart. This is relatively rare and traditionally has been thought to signify an individual with very bad luck. I have not seen that in my practice, but a high number of retrogrades (anything more than four) does tend to show someone who perhaps has to learn “the hard way,” through repetition and going back (the retrograde force) over things already done in order to process and move forward.
His Moon is in Scorpio (“coincidentally,” Julian Assange’s Moon is also in Scorpio and the two men’s Moons are within two degrees of each other reflecting their connection in this work). A Scorpio Moon is very concerned with issues of Power – who has it, who doesn’t, and how secrets and the holding of them relate to the distribution of Power.
Aquarius sits on the Midheaven, the point of vocation and our “Life’s Work,” yet the Tenth House of career is untenanted, there are no planets in that house which suggests that Snowden has no desire to make a name for himself or to gain any recognition in the world. There is a fierce sense of justice emerging from this chart – a desire with the Aquarius Midheaven to right the wrongs of the world which is echoed by the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction. The Scorpio Moon adds a zinger of intensity fueled by a desire to see those who commit the crimes pay for their misdeeds. Scorpio Moon has a fierce need to win.
Saturn and Pluto conjoin in the chart in Libra, suggesting that relationships (Libra) will be made difficult by retrograde Saturn’s criticism and retrograde Pluto’s intensity and inability to let go. However, those two planets form a Grand Trine with the Mars/North Node conjunction and the Aquarius Midheaven. When a Grand Trine forms with such powerful players (Saturn and Pluto, the two planets of Death; the North Node, point of Destiny, and the Midheaven, the point of Highest Aspiration) we could predict just by looking at this chart that Snowden would be a person of some impact.
Snowden just turned 30 on the Summer Solstice, so normally our first thought would be “Aha! Saturn Return.” But his Saturn Return completed last September and is not a factor. But in March of this year his progressed Sun formed a square to his natal Saturn which is when Snowden took a job with Booz Allen Hamilton, and this week his progressed Sun had moved into position to square progressed Saturn, setting off the challenge. Saturn tends to bring obstacles that need to be overcome, and that certainly applies here.
When analyzing a chart I generally like to begin with the astrology so as not to be influenced by the details, but we can now take a look at Snowden’s life and draw corollaries to the chart. According to this ABC News timeline, Snowden may never have finished high school and appears to have been unable to focus on a course of study. This is not surprising with such a strong Geminian influence – Gemini is curious about so many things it can be extremely difficult (some say impossible) to find a path and stick to it. The Guardian has some interesting information from interviews with Snowden as well.
Gemini can also take a liberal approach to the truth, as we saw in the chart of John Edwards. There are several instances where Snowden appears to have fabricated his education and employment history.
Between 2007 and 2009 Snowden served undercover with the CIA in Switzerland. During 2007 Neptune transited his Midheaven which can be a time when we become disillusioned with our chosen career path, and indeed Snowden has reported that it was during this period that he became disillusioned with US intelligence. In 2008 transiting Pluto opposed his Sun which likely led to power struggles and a period of crisis.
In 2009 and early 2010 transiting Uranus (rebellion) formed a challenging square to his natal Mars (drive and anger) which could have sparked a fire to take action (Mars) against the actions of the US Intelligence forces that he would have considered unjust.
2011 and 2012 were heavy Saturn times for Snowden when transiting Saturn opposed the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in his chart. Saturn/Pluto can make life seem very difficult anyway, and when it is affected by transiting Saturn that intensifies, especially during the Saturn return. I was unable to find anything about Snowden’s life during this period but I suspect there were some great personal challenges. It does appear that he was attempting to settle down with his girlfriend in Hawaii in 2012 but evidently he never revealed to her his plans to become a notorious whistleblower (that Scorpio Moon in action, protecting its secrets).
On June 6th, when the Guardian released the documents provided by Snowden, his progressed Moon exactly aligned with progressed Uranus in the chart. This urge (Moon) for release (Uranus) would have been building for at least two weeks before the exact alignment, and likely made it easier for Snowden to step out from the shadows and reveal his identity.
Snowden’s astrology over the next few months is relatively benign so he may be able to obtain his freedom. Early to mid-October look challenging for him but that will coincide with the fourth alignment of Uranus and Pluto which could swing the balance in the whistleblower’s favor.
This will be an interesting factor in the upcoming post for the US Solar Return on July 4th, so stay tuned!