When Edward Snowden’s birth details arrived by mail from Elizabeth City, North Carolina this week, as I cast the chart I knew he was going to have an interesting Ascendant. That turned out to be true — his cluster of planets in Gemini is rising — though there is a subtle point: Mercury.
Before we get to that bit of analysis, we learned overnight Saturday, right during the Full Moon, that Snowden managed to catch a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow. From there he was expected to fly onto Cuba, then according most reports, he has been granted political asylum in Ecuador.
Snowden was reportedly accompanied out of Hong Kong by a member of WikiLeaks legal team named Sarah Harrison. Hong Kong authorities allowed him to leave the territory despite the United States requesting his arrest, in essence telling the United States to bugger off. In a statement, Hong Kong said that the United States had not properly completed legal documents justifying the request and therefore there was no legal basis for detaining him.
Snowden commenced his trip just as Jupiter was conjunct his Sun in the last degree of Gemini, exact to a few arc minutes. Astrology students may note that while this is exactly how Jupiter is supposed to work — right down to representing accompaniment by an international attorney — it doesn’t always. But it’s fun when the astrology textbooks are right.
Jupiter, which has been prominent in his late-Gemini chart throughout the events that ensured on June 5 when The Guardian released a secret court order compelling Verizon to hand over telephone records of its customers, seems to have given Snowden some cover, protection and a touch of the exotic. Everyone who has seen this chart has marveled over this Jupiter transit, as well as noting that the charge of espionage was revealed on his solar return.
Jupiter has certainly “expanded” his reputation — Snowden is currently the most famous person in the world — someone who we may never know or understand, or perhaps it’s better to say someone who will never fully let on who he is. The presence of Jupiter is one illustration of various pundits claiming that he’s too big for his britches. But that remains to be seen.
Let’s take a look at that Ascendant, about which I have a comment before we even look at any planets. Snowden has 12+ Gemini rising. This is remarkable for two reasons — one is that it’s the exact opposite degree as the United States Sibly chart. This is a kind of “identical twin” kind of setup and also it means that the U.S. and Snowden will experience transits to their Ascendant simultaneously.
The one that jumps out right away is the Saturn-Pluto opposition that happened a month before the September 11 incident. That opposition went right across 12+ Gemini/Sagittarius. The United States was directly affected. And so was Edward Snowden. It’s my impression from this transit that Snowden was profoundly influenced by the events of 9/11/01 and that his response — to join the military and then work as an intelligence analyst — was sincere.
In particular, Pluto on his 7th house cusp during that incident felt like the attack was personally directed at him. Saturn transiting his Gemini Ascendant was a call to a mature response, again experienced as a direct call to action.
Now for some planets. Snowden has four major points in Gemini: the Mercury, the Sun, the North Node and Mars.
Of those four points, just one — the Ascendant ruler Mercury — can be found in the 12th house. Some would call that the chart ruler; some would say it’s a significator for Snowden.
When there are planets around the Ascendant it’s helpful to study the chart closely to sort out what stands for what. We have three bold points in the 1st house — the Sun, Mars and the Node. That’s the image of someone direct, outgoing, clear in their intentions and focused on their mission — all could be used to describe Snowden.
Then Mercury is in the 12th house. The 12th is the hidden zone, a kind of blind spot. Mercury is the Ascendant ruler and the dispositor of all those planets. It’s running the show from behind the scenes. That’s the big question mark over this chart; the point of mystery; the version of Ed Snowden known only to himself.
When you consider the fact that he has four points in Gemini and therefore eight or sixteen different points of identity (Gemini tends to multiply), that Mercury in the 12th house clearly knows a lot that it’s not saying. The question over his intent is therefore seemingly amplified. But just because we don’t know everything does not predict what we don’t know. There are indeed a lot of possibilities.
Neptune opposing his Mars and Sun adds to the sense of mystery, a sense of an encounter with the unknown. Mars opposite Neptune is not necessarily easy for others to experience; it can describe an intensity about the person, a willingness to take risks, and also a kind of “walk through walls” quality: powerful Neptune aspects like this one can give a person a sense of boundaries that only they understand.
Jupiter and Uranus oppose Mercury, in Sagittarius in the 6th house. This adds to the clear sense of mission and drive — and also describes Snowden’s intelligence as well as his tendency to get himself into international intrigues. Jupiter and Uranus are retrograde, adding more seeming mystery about his motives and his sources.
He has the Moon in Scorpio in the 6th house. All in all, this is the perfect chart for someone who handles confidential information and who actually can keep a secret. But he chose to reveal a surveillance program that was in itself damaging to the American people and its government. He did everyone a favor by making this public.*
My take on this chart is that in sum, it reveals a person who makes his choices based on authentic values, even ones that are articulately stated — but he has the aura of doing his own thing due to Mercury in the 12th and the oppositions from Neptune. He lives with this tension as the struggle with his conscience. Most people can sit on that tension and ignore it. Snowden’s astrology is too bold for that. The Mars, Sun and Node in his 1st house demands correct action; it’s the embodiment of dharma.
He has not revealed everything about what he does or why he does it — and for that matter, neither does anybody else.
Editor’s note: This is a correction from the earlier version of the text which read: “But he chose to reveal those secrets of activity that were, in fact, damaging to the American people and its government.”
Bio: Eric Francis is a TMA contributor and editor of Planet Waves. Listen to his weekly podcast at Planet Waves FM.
A note from The Mountain Astrologer: Be sure not to miss Eric’s new article on the astrology of Monsanto and GMOs in the new Aug./Sept. edition, which is available now (in print or digital) by subscription. Please go here to order a subscription.