March 16, 2015 witnesses the last of seven exact squares between Uranus, planet of individuality, innovation and freedom, and Pluto, planet of power, control and manipulation. Beginning in 2012, but with effects of much longer duration, the three-year period surrounding the set of exact squares has been fraught with violence, scandal, dawning awareness and brutal repression.
Throughout, a dominating theme of the square has been the intersection of technology—Uranus-ruled—and terror or control, under Pluto’s governance, whether that be defined as the live-streamed beheadings of ISIS prisoners or the constant electronic surveillance practiced by the American government against its own citizens.
This pairing is likely to emerge as the most potent feature of the square, the longest lasting and the most problematic. With the advent of the internet, social media and associated technologies, the ability of radical groups to disseminate their philosophies and proselytize adherents, and the capacity of governmental agencies to monitor our every word and deed, has never been greater, presenting humanity with a complex and seemingly insurmountable dilemma—what price security? What are the limits of freedom?
In 2011, the year before the first square, the antecedent rumblings across the globe which heralded its approach also intimated a more benign, hopeful outcome. The backlash in Wisconsin in February 2011 against the erosion of collective bargaining rights, and the subsequent Occupy Wall Street movement, underscoring the plight of the “99%”, taken in tandem with the so-called “Arab Spring”, a series of pro-democracy (or at any rate, anti-dictatorial) uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, seemed to point toward a brighter future.
And given Uranus’ focus on individual rights, freedom and liberty, equality and fraternity, the hopefulness these efforts spawned was not naïve. But the movements peaked too soon, before the celestial combatants had actually entered the ring. This removed one of Uranus’ key allies, the element of surprise, and by the time the square was well and truly joined in the summer of 2012, Pluto’s repressive, entrenched power base was ready for the tactically-challenged Uranians. The Occupy movement, which initially expanded into various cities nationwide, had dwindled to a mocked and maligned vestigial appendage in the body politic of Equality, and reform efforts in one after another of the newly revolutionized Arab states became marginalized, subsumed, or stalemated.
That this should be so is no surprise. Pluto, as the “heavier” (i.e., slower) of the two, has a natural entrenchment which, tortoise-like, wins through in the long haul, as opposed to Uranus’ comparatively breakneck pace, which, hare-like, runs rings around Pluto, but ultimately fails in the contest between them. In conjunction, as at the start of a race, they are fairly well matched, but once in aspect, Pluto will always have an edge.
In this case, Uranus’ technological leaps and bounds prior to their current match-up have actually favored the Plutonian elements of their struggle, and scientific advances which aimed at more fairly and equitably disseminating information have been co-opted by forces on both extremes of Pluto’s team, anarchic terrorism and governmental surveillance alike. What should have tended toward the self-empowerment of individuals, a positive Plutonic outcome, has become perverted into streamlining savagery, brutality, manipulation and abuse of power, all negative Pluto traits.
In the spring of 2013, less than a year after their first exact square, two of the more dominant elements defining this nexus of technology and terrorism emerged: the official formation of the pan-terrorist group ISIS, and Edward Snowden’s revelation of the NSA’s electronic domestic surveillance program. Although ISIS’ origins can be traced to al Qaeda in Iraq in the late ‘90s, and some of the NSA spying programs began in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, it wasn’t until 2013 that these fully emerged into the global consciousness.
To some extent, technology and terrorism or governmental abuse of power have always been linked, with advocates of the latter making full use of whatever advantage the latest technology had to offer. But the technological advances of the past 50 years, since Uranus and Pluto began the current cycle with their conjunction in the late ‘60s, have enabled both terrorist masterminds and governmental spies to achieve goals once beyond the reach of their wildest dreams. Paradoxically, the two sides thrive in opposite environments, with terrorism seeking as much publicity for its acts and views as possible, while state-sponsored espionage is most effective when conducted in absolute secrecy.
In April 2013, ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) was born of a union of terrorist resistance efforts in Iraq which had expanded into Syria in the previous year, ironically taking advantage of the turmoil created by a civil war spawned in its abortive Arab Spring demonstrations of 2011. Within a year the group had overrun large portions of western and northern Iraq, occupying major cities like Mosul and Fallujah, threatening even Baghdad itself, and had established a solid bridgehead in eastern Syria. Slaughtering thousands, often by beheading, ISIS imposed Sharia law and strict Islamic custom on all populations within its growing jurisdiction, offering a stark choice of conversion and compliance or death. Unlike previous terrorist organizations, ISIS aims to actually govern, taking over huge swaths of country and providing services, schools and stability of a sort, as it attempts to establish a new caliphate, or religious state.
From its inception, the terrorist group sought to spread its message via modern technologies, utilizing social media with high-production-value videos posted online, romanticizing extremism and touting the merits of jihad to a disenfranchised, desperate and despairing populace in the Middle East and around the world. Encouraging both emigration to join the cause, and local action in its sympathizers’ countries of origin, ISIS sought to extend its reach globally into the very heart of the Western societies it reviles. By the summer of 2014, live-streaming executions of beheaded Western hostages had become almost routine, with captured journalists, aid workers and humanitarian volunteers bearing the brunt of ISIS’ brutality. The execution of a downed Jordanian fighter pilot by burning him alive in February 2015 may have created a tipping point, evoking the aggressive intervention of established Muslim states in the region, now intent on ISIS’ total destruction.
Barely two months after ISIS burst upon the international scene, in early June 2013 NSA (National Security Agency) contractor Edward Snowden decamped to China (ultimately receiving political asylum in Russia) after revealing details of mammoth and virtually universal surveillance by the US government of all forms of electronic communication, from phone calls to emails. This surveillance was conducted not only on foreign nationals or suspected terrorists, but even the heads of closely allied states, and extended to domestic surveillance of ordinary Americans as well. The revelations published in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper shocked some and enraged others, but established the massive extent to which government surveillance had penetrated virtually every aspect of modern electronic life.
Since this time, terror has proliferated online, not just in the propaganda videos of ISIS and associated groups, but in the form of actual online attacks, with hacking becoming the newest form of terrorism, also known as “cyber terrorism”. The hacking of Sony Pictures’ website in November 2014 was purportedly perpetrated by North Korea in response to Sony’s film, “The Interview”, a comedy which depicts the assassination of North Korea’s current leader. Initially this resulted in little more than embarrassment for the company, as confidential data such as salaries and employees’ personal information were released, along with private emails from Sony executives containing their candid and unflattering, opinions of actors in their employ. But when these postings were followed up by threats of actual violence in theaters should the film be released, Sony pulled “The Interview”, eventually releasing it online and in pay-per-view formats.
It’s not just in terrorism where Uranus’ technology encounters Pluto’s realm. Crime is also Pluto-ruled, and a form of economic terrorism can be seen in the virtually daily news of hacks of personal data from a broad variety of commercial or financial outlets, with the aim of identity theft. Among the more notorious victims of this type of hacking are US health provider Anthem (with some 80 million affected), Target stores (70 million), banker JP Morgan Chase (76 million), internet service provider AOL (92 million) and online auction site EBay (145 million).
Yet another Plutonic arena affected by Uranian technological inroads is sex, with various celebrity social media accounts or smart phones hacked, and nude or sexually explicit photos released to the public. Some of those whose privacy was violated in this way in 2014 include actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Kirsten Dunst, model Kate Upton, professional celebrity Kim Kardashian (who really didn’t need much help exposing herself), singer Rihanna and soccer star Hope Solo.
The struggle between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn pits the rights (Uranus) of individuals (Aries) against the power (Pluto) of the government, business interests and society in general (all Capricorn). In this conflict, Uranus’ chief weapons are shock, surprise and rebellion or revolution, based in a growing awareness of realities and an understanding of the truth. Pluto fights back with coercion, manipulation, and entrenched power systems with little interest in altering the status quo or ceding one iota of control.
Examining a chart for the final of these seven exact square aspects may provide a glimpse into the immediate future of the square’s influence, and a roadmap for its long term effects as well. The chart is set for 10:53 PM EDT on March 16, 2015, in Washington DC, the capital of what is arguably the world’s only superpower, and whose response to the challenges raised by the square will be pivotal to its outcomes.
Featuring Uranus at 15 Aries in the Fifth House squared Pluto at 15 Capricorn in the Third House, the chart for their seventh and final square shows the combatants firmly entrenched in the middle degree of their respective cardinal signs. Cardinal signs are initiatory, ushering in the four seasons, and as such they represent leadership, enterprise, making change, aggressive response, and projection of force or power into the world. With Uranus and Pluto at the midpoint degree, they are wholly immersed in the energies of their respective signs, with no lingering undertones or influences of the sign prior, or the next to come. They are the raw energy of the sign personified.
In this case, Aries is impatient, assertive, and enthusiastic, jumping fearlessly into the void of the future with little or no regard for the consequences. Capricorn is more practical, contemplative, and organized, conservative in the sense of holding on to what is shown to work and can be relied upon, but also restrictive, controlling and intolerant.
There is also a type of receptivity between the planets and their House placements, with Pluto in the Third House, governing communication, facing down Uranus, whose technology allows Pluto to totally break down and rebuild Third House affairs, completely transforming the way the world communicates. Similarly, Uranus’ placement in the Fifth House, governing entertainment, pursuits of pleasure, and public venues such as schools, movie theaters, sports stadiums and resorts, affords Pluto many “soft targets” into which terrorism can expand.
A second dominating feature of the chart is a close opposition between the Moon, ruling the public, at 10 Aquarius, and Jupiter, ruling religions, philosophies and belief systems, at 13 Leo. Jupiter is also conjoined the MC, or Midheaven, at 18 Leo, the point of highest elevation in the chart, the focus of all eyes, and in trine to Uranus, indicating the importance (MC) of radical (Uranus) religion-based philosophies (Jupiter) in the aftermath of the square. Penetrating the populace (Moon), these views threaten to radicalize entire populations which are naturally or culturally predisposed to accept them, while simultaneously acting as a peril or hazard to populations not susceptible to their adoption.
The Moon is also exactly squared to the Horizontal Axis of Ascendant at 10 Scorpio and Descendant at 10 Taurus, consigning the populace to a very delicate balancing act pitting shared values and resources (Scorpio) against individual needs and desires (Taurus). Scorpio’s coercion and Taurus’ stubbornness are both unleashed on a population already weighed down and stressed by the pressures of cultural and religious perspectives (the Jupiter opposition to the Moon) alien to local customs and values, as globalization proceeds apace and capitalist corporatism seeks to dissolve differences which potentially restrict their marketplace and thus, limit profits.
The Sun at 26 Pisces closely squares the Galactic Center at 27 Sagittarius. Contacts to the GC are always an indicator of events or individuals with a potential for global impact or importance, attention and notice. If we didn’t realize it already, this is a signal of the pervasive effects of this period of the square. Mars at 19 Aries is within orb of conjunction to Uranus, and thus bound up directly with the square energy, an indication that more aggression, conflict and violent death is on the horizon, with a likely increase in military action. Regardless, its inclusion in the framework of the final Uranus/Pluto square is a strong signal that this conflict will not find a bloodless resolution.
A combination of Mercury at 6 Pisces and Neptune at 7 Pisces suggests muddled, confused thinking, and the likelihood of deceptive communication and fanatical (Neptune) mindsets (Mercury). There is a tendency to deny facts, to prevaricate or delay decisions, and to approach situations or problems indirectly, without dealing with root causes effectively. The square to this combination from Saturn at 4 Sagittarius says that governments may be slow to respond, distracted or lacking commitment and resolve or follow-through when action is taken, and overly ideological in their perspectives. Saturn linked with Mercury and Neptune is also a nod to the “conservative” values of religious zealots (Neptune), who believe they are preserving a way of life prescribed in their holy books (Mercury).
PNA (Personal-Named Asteroid) involvement in the chart is significant as well. Asteroid Isis, eponymous with the terrorist organization’s acronym, appears at 2 Leo, in exact conjunction with asteroid Whitehouse, representing the seat of presidential power in the US. This suggests a high level of engagement between the two, constant friction, and an inability to avoid interaction or conflict. There could even be an actual face-to-face confrontation, as in an ISIS-inspired or -executed terrorist attack on the physical White House itself, or the person of the President. Fittingly, asteroid Isis also closely opposes asteroid Apophis at 3 Aquarius, a point named for the ancient Egyptian personification of pure evil, which fairly sums up the group ISIS’ actions.
These points are in the midst of a string of other minor bodies which further illumine the political situation in the aftermath of the square. Asteroid Jordaens at 25 Cancer is approaching Whitehouse/Isis, suggestive of the country of Jordan’s recent escalation of involvement in the fight against ISIS sparked by the burning alive of their captured fighter pilot, and closer ties with the US in the offing. Just two degrees past Whitehouse/Isis, at 4 Leo, is asteroid Nemesis, a point named for the Greek goddess of vengeance, retribution and undoing. Which of these antagonists plays the role of Nemesis to the other is in question, but her inclusion in this mix is certainly apt. An indication that the US might be cast in the lead role of nemesis is given by the placement of asteroid America at 7 Leo, also conjunct Nemesis, thus giving the US two celestial stand-ins within orb of the vengeance-seeker, to ISIS’ one.
Three other namesake PNAs with resonance to the issue are Washingtonia, for the US capital; Arabia, which may be seen as shorthand for the Middle East region; and Africa, from where much of the emerging terrorist threat ensues.
At 21 Leo, Washingtonia crests the 18 Leo Midheaven, the focus of all eyes, and the leading political factor in the conflict, given its Tenth House placement. Where Washington leads, others will follow. Asteroid Arabia at 14 Pisces conjoins Chiron at 17 Pisces, an indicator of the wounded brokenness of the region, where local governments denounce terrorist acts but export terrorist philosophies, as in Saudi Arabia, or allow private citizens to fund terrorist groups, as in Qatar. Arabia also conjoins Neptune at 7 Pisces, denoting its close connection with the fanaticism and zealotry associated with many religion-based terrorist groups. Asteroid Africa at 29 Aries is an exact match for Venus, known as the “lesser benefic”. This is a puzzling placement, until we realize that much of the focus of African terrorism is specifically directed toward women, Venus-ruled.
Take for example the Nigerian-based, ISIS-affiliated group Boko Haram, which became infamous in April 2014 for the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, most of whom have not been recovered, but sold into slavery or coerced into forced marriages with the group’s members. The name Boko Haram translates as “Western education is forbidden,” and the group has spread its message of separatism from Western values (values being also Venus-ruled) throughout the region, including the neighboring states of Cameroon and Chad. Nigeria was placed under a state of emergency in 2012, with the civilian death toll in the country rising to more than 5000 by June 2014. In January 2015 Boko Haram upped the ante, instigating massacres in Baga and 16 nearby towns, destroying villages, killing some 2000 and displacing up to 35,000 others.
The square itself may be winding down, but we are from finished with the problems and challenges evoked by this latest slugfest between Uranus and Pluto. As more and more of our lives are ruled by Uranian technology, and more and more lives become subject to Plutonic power and control issues, we may find this “brave new world” is nothing more than a return to the “bad old days” of bondage and oppression.