Jupiter (publication, knowledge) was transiting the US Mars-Neptune square (all-encompassing deceit) last week when Edward Snowden blew America’s mind by calling out the elephant in the middle of the room. Y’all are being massively data-mined, he pointed out, and not just by FaceBook – to which we have effectively given our enthusiastic assent1 – but by our government.
Mr Snowden, whose ingenuous young face reflects the showdown he is in right now with his Saturn Return, fled from Hawaii to Hong Kong on May 20. Transit trackers will recognize this as the date the square between Uranus (shock) and Pluto (corruption) was exact to the minute of arc.
“I am not here to hide from justice,” Snowden said this morning. “I am here to reveal criminality.”
Beyond the Turf War
My last blog discussed how the American mass media bends over backwards trying to fit every news event into a single plot line: the great turf war between the Democrats and the GOP. Given that the US government is a business-sponsored duopoly, the turf war idea is essentially a crock. But it has served very well to distract an unevenly informed, financially insecure and over-stimulated populace from thinking about what the 1% are up to.
Now the stories are getting harder to control. Uranus, the cosmic trickster, is shooting events at us, one after another, that don’t fit into the narrative. They explode out of the frame.
The job of transpersonal planets like Uranus and Pluto is to send us to the podium without a teleprompter. On an individual level, they make us lose our place in the script that our ego wrote for us. On a collective level, they shatter the official narrative.
For several years now, we have been watching the official narrative of the USA break down, as the Grand Cross in the national (Sibly) chart moves into orb2. Congress and the courts have become more and more dysfunctional, and the White House’s policies have become more and more chaotic.
As politicians scramble to position themselves vis-a-vis each new scandal, we’re seeing an uptick in Strange Bedfellows Syndrome. Remember Rand Paul’s filibuster, back in March? A reactionary by most accounts,3 Paul staged a piece of radical theater worthy of Code Pink when he prank-filibustered Obama’s drone policy. It was a brilliant channeling of transiting Uranus (amoral libertarianism).
The wily senator’s natal Sun is smack dab in the path of the Cardinal Cross (16° Capricorn), as it approaches exactitude on the US chart (13-14° Cancer -Libra). His filibuster stunt was a triumph over friends and enemies alike. Now he’s making mince meat out of party allegiances again, by denouncing NSA spying on the grounds of constitutionality.4
While Paul was lambasting the NSA, his colleague Lindsay Graham, sounding like a sleepy Southern cartoon character, was busy defending them (being spied on is just fine with him, but by gum, let them try to register his rifle, and, why, them’s fightin’ words.) For its part, the ACLU, presumed by media stereotyping to be in Obama’s camp, is suing the White House.
The NSA revelations have burst upon us right now because the collective unconscious willed them into being. Uranus is forcing Americans to think outside of the box, at the same time that Pluto’s exposing the rot within it.
As Jupiter approaches its own position in the US chart (exact in July), Americans of conscience will be asking themselves whether they are cultivating their own independent moral stands, or reacting to their country’s traumas through the distorted, outmoded lens of Pretend Politix.
A more meaningful way to understand the NSA revelations is to read them as one would an image in a myth. Events like this one strike a collective nerve because they have archetypal depth, as does great art.
George Orwell’s 1984 (published in 1949) is such a work. A Plutonian fairy tale, it has been chilling the blood of millions of readers for decades. This is because it used imagery that resides in a timeless state in the collective imagination.
1984 is about a secular, modern kind of evil. It describes a state whose all-seeing eye allowed citizens — not soldiers or spies, but ordinary people — no personal boundaries; its cameras operated even in the bathroom stall. The government controlled the populace professionally through the threat of exposure, physically with lawful torture, and psychologically by depriving them of all sense of safe quarter. The return to mass consciousness of Orwell’s dark tale is supported by Saturn’s current placement in Scorpio (Oct 2012 – Dec 2014).
Here in the nonfiction world, there’s no singular Big Brother. The devil is a symbol, not an actual being. Here in the bland, practical realm that is contemporary American life under capitalism, the NSA’s spying, like everything else, has been privatized. The agency contracts out its surveillance — to firms like Booz Allen, where Snowden worked — for the same reason that the Gap contracts out to child seamstresses in Bangladesh: they’re cheaper than government workers.5
The NSA is made up of human employees who have gotten in over their heads in their use of machines, just as humanity at this world moment is deeply estranged from our core commonality. Estranged enough to construct agencies that use digital technology for power and control, and to conceive of destroying anyone who gets in their way.6
To Respond, Not React
Will we respond, deeply and authentically, to these soul-crushing events in our world? Or will we react in rage and fear? Or try to tune them out? The latter option is, for good or ill, pretty much impossible under the transits going on right now. We are all too steeped in mass feeling (see June’s Skywatch) to pretend what’s happening isn’t happening.
If our goal is to discern meaning from the world we incarnated into, then we must commit to drawing on the highest, not the lowest, parts of ourselves. This starts with remembering that societies are made up of individuals, whose consciousness becomes projected en masse, creating collective events. To truly respond means returning, again and again, to the place in ourselves that is deeply curious, genuinely interested in the cosmic purpose of world events, even – especially – the most distressing of them.
In the monthly Skywatches we will consider the lessons we can draw, as individuals, from these dramas.
1 On the day Neptune stationed, June 7, my morning newspaper ran an editorial righteously condemning the government for procuring millions of phone records from cell phone companies. Deeper into the same paper, the business section ran a parallel story, exulting in the awesome new money-making possibilities available to Verizon et al: Cell phone makers are now selling the user-location data on their customers’ phones to third parties who want to track consumer behavior. Presumably the second bit of news is just fine with the editorial-writers, as a sign of good healthy capitalism at work.
2 Transiting Uranus-Pluto and America’s natal Sun-Saturn are moving into a perfect geometrical square, to peak in 2014-15.
3 Snowden himself apparently supported Rand’s father, former presidential candidate Ron Paul.
4 This hardly means, however, that liberals can now count Paul as one of their own. This is the guy who, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Obamacare, said constitutionality didn’t count. Uranus isn’t about principle; it’s about unpredictability.
5 It was around the turn of the millennium, when Pluto was hovering over the US ascendant opposite Saturn, that the privatization of the US military began in earnest. The war planners decided they weren’t going to leave the dirty business of regime change to amateurs. They brought in the pros. Mercenary operations like Blackwater were and are the true occupiers of Iraq, not the citizen soldiers that illustrate the war in the public’s imagination.
6 Snowden’s Guardian interviewer asked him about a rumor that four men at an intelligence conference had been overheard opining that the leaker should be “disappeared”. Snowden replied,”Someone responding to the story said ‘real spies do not speak like that’. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk.”