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The Me Nobody Knows: Edward Snowden’s Mercury

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.

Snowden natal

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.


  1. thanks for your article Eric, but you do not reveal the source for the time of birth. I received the same information a few days ago, from a ‘reputable source’, how did you obtain it and how sure are you of its veracity?

  2. Eric’s source is Edward Snowden’s birth certificate. How he obtained it is explained on Eric’s website (

  3. I happen to disagree with your conclusion that his revelations were damaging to the American people. I am glad to know that the government is spying on my communications and so is the ACLU which has filed a lawsuit against the agency involved. Liz Green in her Pluto studyshop talks about the incredible secret surveillance of Americans, and not just by the government, as a recent New York Times article reports.

  4. I purchased the data from the state of North Carolina. I’ve published the birth certificate widely. Schofield has the same data.

    • I think you’re missing the important fact that Edward has Mercury conjunct…his ascendant. What is the orb…a bit less than 2 degrees.

  5. How do you interpret his intercepted signs?

  6. If this isn’t too intrusive- here is something from a ‘Virgoan’ point of view I posted on my FB page- 29.Rising- on Snowden’s birthday. I think it adds more than contradicts anything, to the wonderful analysis given above:

    June 21st, 2013. Happy birthday Edward Snow den, whistleblower extraordinaire! Eric Francis has found the birth time: 4: 42 am. So he is not only a Karmic 29 degree Gemini Sun, but also has a Karmic Chiron at 29+ Taurus- he shows us how our peace of mind re: info gathering has been wounded, and how it can be brought back.

    Mercury in its dominion and under fixed star Aldebaran sits on the Gemini AC- Mercury is very potent here as the ruler of the chart. But it is just inside the 12th house- how appropriate! Vesta/Chiron are also there, in late Taurus.But the really spectacular birth-chart pattern here is a Grand Kite: Mars/NNode/Sun at the string end in the 1st House oppose Minerva (Nept.), trine Ceres in the 10th in Aquarius, (near the USA Moon- ‘we the people’) and trine Saturn/Pluto-Charon in Libra trapped in the 5th. Saturn is exhalted here, and being trapped, (Placidus Houses) will try very hard to ‘stick it’ to any abuse of power. Uranus/Jupiter in Sagittarius oppose the Mercury/AC- he is compelled to shock us into awareness- not just ‘us’ but all the companies involved- Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Verizon….

    Ceres near the Midheaven, co-ruler of Virgo, is key to understanding what he has achieved- previous administrations have left us dirty diapers to wash when it comes to protecting our freedoms. The Scorpio Moon in the 6th house tells us the deed was done out of a true Virgoan motivation, after deep reflection. He is, and will continue to be, at our service- if he makes it to safety.

  7. Clarification before an edit goes in. I am not saying what Snowden did was in my opinion damaging — what I am saying is that the surveillance program was damaging to the people, the government, diplomacy, etc. NOT his revelation of it.

    • I made the correction as you requested, Eric..

  8. Glad to know what you really meant, Eric. I totally agree.

  9. Cheers Eric, I had no idea that a member of the public could purchase someone else’s birth cert. in the USA! With an abundance of Gemini in his chart, I just wanted to double check. Well Mercury going retro now will be interesting to watch for this elusive Gemini….

  10. States are all different. Most do not release the birth certificate. North Carolina will issue a non-certified copy of the document.

  11. Interceptions are 12th house in my opinion — they are like veiled zones. However, in Snowden’s case, the rulers of both signs — Virgo and Pisces are prominently placed in the chat and seem to speak for themselves. The position of Ceres is interesting as one of the last points before the interception begins — to do a proper study I would need to cast the minor planets and see what’s on either side of the edges of Virgo and Pisces. It’s an interesting way to read interceptions, once you’ve got what you can from the ruling planets of those signs.

  12. The relations between Snowden’s chart and the US Sibley chart are indeed complex and intriguing. No one so far seems to have mentioned that Snowden’s Saturn-Pluto conjunction sits right on top of the Sibley Moon.

    The composite chart also is very revealing. Here we see a Full Moon across 5-6 deg Cancer-Capricorn, with the Sun forming a grand trine with Neptune and the Ascendant. Also – intriguingly – composite Pluto conjuncts both the composite Midheaven and the Sibley Ascendant. This could turn out to be a long story!

    • Not only that but the Saturn-Pluto conjunction he’s born with becomes the opposition that influences his chart directly. It would have taken a really good astrologer to see that when he was a kid. In retrospect it’s obvious.

  13. Hi! Great thorough article. One comment though: “Gemini in his Ascendant was a call to a mature response”. I almost fell off my seat. Gemini mature?? Since when?

    • Vic, I was describing a transit — Saturn in Gemini in his ascendant during the Saturn-Pluto opposition. If something in print seems funny and it’s not satire, clarifying is the next step…which appears to have been all taken care of for this episode.

  14. Remarkable article, Eric! Thank you for this, and the back-and-forth discussion, too.
    To me it is most revealing that Assange, Manning, and now Snowden have obviously cared more about principle than about their personal convenience or safety. The gargantuan edifice of National Security, in the Corporate State of the USA, has been merciless to Bradley Manning, and has hounded Julian Assange. Now they are on the Bloodhound-trail of Snowden (Happy Birthday, ED!) as they burn bridges diplomatically with China and Russia, and who else?
    The Pluto/Capricorn underground disruptions are beginning to bite, evidently.
    Welsome to a long, strange, weird, unique Summertime!

  15. Excellent article…although I might read that important Mercury in the 12th essentially as an exact conjunction to the Ascendant, not only because it’s so close but because it rules the Ascendant and therefore the whole chart. Certainly it is the archetypal
    “Messenger” in this instance, and in a very visible (1st House) way.

    PS: Shouldn’t, in the last line in the piece, the word “does” actually be “has,” so that the line reads “neither has anyone else”? That would make more sense linguistically and also clarify the issue. Thanks!

    • “I might read that important Mercury in the 12th essentially as an exact conjunction to the Ascendant, not only because it’s so close but because it rules the Ascendant and therefore the whole chart. Certainly it is the archetypal’Messenger’ in this instance, and in a very visible (1st House) way.”

      I agree. And Mercury is in opposition to the Jupiter Uranus conjunction, indicating a powerful Promethean archetypal quality underlying his character and destiny. Prometheus is an awakener, liberator, and champion of humankind who defied the king of the gods, Zeus, in order to enlighten human beings. For his trouble, Zeus has him chained to a rock where a double headed eagle tears at his liver. I think the story resonates with Snowden’s actions to enlighten Americans about the abuses of the surveillance state, at great personal cost and sacrifice.

  16. the US Sibley chart moon is 27 Aquarius so Snowden’s Ceres is on the US moon and his Saturn/Pluto conjunction is trining the US moon.

  17. Thanks for the article Eric. Very interesting that Julian Assange and Edward both have Moons in Scorpio, and both seek asylum with Ecuador. Both have Venus lines running very close to Ecuador on Astro Cartography Maps. It’s been a big year for whistelblowers with Jupiter in Gemini, it was a year ago that Julian Assange sort asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
    And isn’t it grand that places like Singapore and Ecuador are making a stand against American demands to hand Edward over, the world is changing and we can very much thank these guys for being so brave and helping to change the dynamic.

    • Umm….did you say Singapore? You can bet your last dollar Singapore would have sent Snowden back to Uncle Sam.

  18. As Anthony pointed out (above) the USA Sibley & Snowden composite chart is worth a look. What jumped out at me is the Pluto / Uranus Square in the composite chart. Pluto in this square is conjunct the Sibley ascendant and Uranus in this square is square the Sibley Uranus.

    Kind of eerie since the Pluto / Uranus square is the big aspect of our current times.

    P.S. Thanks for the great article Eric!!!

  19. I and Me are Two are We —
    Me is for People —
    That only I can See

  20. Is this story the first to simultaneously include China, Russia and the U.S.? Besides, you know, the nuclear arms race, of which this whole business is an extension.

  21. Some other Mundane factors of note:

    Mercury makes a synodic return every 79 yrs and 79 x 3 = 237 -which is exactly how old the USA is this year

    So, this Mercury Rx in Cancer is re-activating the July 4, 1776 USA natal Mercury Rx in Cancer

    In other words, this station Rx has all the potential for chaos that many people THOUGHT the 2012 election station had (but in fact did not). The potential is more able to become manifest because it is a synodic return for our country, whereas the one last fall was not

    Also, the Rx station of Mercury was on the N Node of Saturn

    Both of these Mundane factors contribute to why this Trickster rising individual was able to make such an impact on this Country at this time

  22. This is the chart of someone who CANNOT be trusted. Gemini Sun opposite Neptune, Moon in Scorpio, mercury in the 12th. Just the kind of person our foreign enemies would love. When I first heard about Snowden I was impressed. Then I learned about his liberal character…then I observed he fled to China…and then Russia…and then it made perfect sense. This creep is a spy. The chart confirms it. Your Sibly connections just identifies the victimized…us, or should I say the US.

  23. Having looked at the charts again, I must correct myself: Snowden’s Saturn and Pluto are conjunct the PROGRESSED Sibley Moon, not the radical one. Anyone who has looked at both charts will, of course, already be aware of this. (I don’t think this will make much difference to the interpretation, however.)

  24. Eric, thank you for your analysis and insights on Snowden. I don’t know that I agree about the question of his intent. Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the story, spent 11 days with Snowden in Hong Kong. He gave a speech yesterday in which he shares his experiences and gives us a first hand account of Snowden, the impact that Snowden has had on him personally as well as many people working at the Guardian. I think we can know a great deal about a person by the effect they have on other people. Snowden’s effect on these people has been extraordinary. And this is aside from his impact on the US. government, and the governments of China, Russia, and Ecuador.

    Here’s a link to Greenwald’s speech:

  25. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript of Greenwald’s speech:

    “What he [Snowden] continuously told me is he judged his life not by the things he thought about himself but by the actions he took in pursuit of those beliefs.”

    which is indicative of his Sun/Mars conjunction in the first house I’d say.

  26. The Ceres element to this equation is interesting. Snowden has Ceres at 28* Aquarius in the 10th making it significant to his public image. Judge Vinson has his Sun at 29* Aquarius. Vinson is the one who wrote the letter on April 25 giving Verizon phone material to the government. This letter is what Snowden leaked to the Guardian and was published on June 4. Since Ceres has to do with something that forces growth/maturity, you could say that the Vinson letter had that impact on Snowden. With Ceres in the 10th you might say Snowden has a certain childlike naivety regarding his Aquarian ideas of freedom.

  27. I think that the Aquarius angle needs to be delineated with Saturn, Ken. If you go to the ruler of Aquarius, it’s not exactly naive. What he is doing is stating the truth as a child might say it, which we can claim to be childlike or which we can recognize as sage.

    Vis a vis the Mercury ascendant, what we have is a person who is the embodiment of a message. He’s not just saying something; he is being what he has to say.

    There are not very many people who have experience doing this, and who could therefore critique it, but reading a lot of the commentary on Snowden is like listening to people who have never played baseball and who don’t know the ground rules try to describe the game.

  28. Another interesting Ceres connection is with Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who spent 11 days with Snowden. His Ceres is at 25* Gemini which sits on Snowden’s North Node/Mars conjunction. I see the Greenwald/Snowden connection being one of a Ceres maturation process–both of them grew a lot from this. I think Snowden is right now putting his fate with the universe–he doesn’t have much control over it.

    It’s funny we have to be looking at Snowden’s chart to know much about him, but that’s where were at–Ed, we hardly knew Ye.

  29. […] Snowden’s chart burst onto the scene at the solstice Full Moon, which can always be counted on to bring things to light. But as many astrologers have noted, there is much that is fishy about the lad – that is, Neptunian. His solar opposition points to selfless idealism (martyrs, conscientious objectors); it could equally point to lying. We see here the Plutonian sub-theme we would expect from a man who seems to be risking his life –“This country is worth dying for,” he has said – as well as an extraordinary moral conscience. But this doesn’t tell us whether he has pledged his allegiance as an agent-turned-whistleblower, a double agent or even a triple one.1 […]

  30. It looks to me that the events being played out with Snowden stranded in Russia and his lack of success in obtaining asylum so far is linked to transiting Mars in opposition to his Neptune in the 7th house, no less, which is exact on July 10th. We may see a climax in the situation at that time. He is also having his Mars return. If he manages to stay out of U.S. custody by the end of next week, his situation may improve on that front.

  31. Mr. Francis,

    Thank you for your very informative article. It is interesting to note that Mr. Snowden turned 30 years of age a few days ago. I would be very interested in hearing your opinion on the influence of Saturn return in this situation.

  32. The Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Libra in the 5th also conjunct the Part of Fortune suggests ‘destiny’ from a Saturn/Pluto perspective – i.e. Saturn (work) Pluto (surveillance) in Libra (justice) 5th house creative potential and POF (mission) which has now been accomplished. The opposition from Saturn/Pluto to his Ascendant that occurred on 9/11 must have been the catalyst that awakened him to his destiny!

  33. To me, the 12th house and neptune emphasis suggests that edward is the voice of the collective. No doubt, he speaks for us.

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