Within minutes of each other on February 10, 2015, two major shape-ups in the media world were announced: long-time NBC Nightly News anchor and managing editor Brian Williams had been given a six-month suspension without pay for misrepresenting an incident he claimed to have been personally involved in during the Iraq War; and political satirist Jon Stewart stated his intention to resign from “The Daily Show”, after a 16-year run as host. Both announcements stunned the public, and came within hours of Mercury’s direct station the following day.
Mercury rules the media and news, and its station came at 1 Aquarius, noted for its involvement with technology, television, and shared societal or cultural themes. Both departures, one voluntary and one forced, are reflected in the placement of Mercury and other transiting points that day, in aspect to the birth charts of the two men involved.
To begin with, Mercury’s station closely opposed asteroid Osiris at 0 Leo. Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, is just one of several celestial markers of endings, transition and change, involving news or media figures. With this polarity in sextile and trine respectively to Saturn at 4 Sagittarius, ruling career matters, changes in the workplace were very likely. Saturn’s concomitant square to Neptune at 6 Pisces suggests that a resignation or abdication might be involved (such as Stewart’s voluntary withdrawal as King of Political Comedy), and also that deception, confusion of the facts, or distortion of reality could be a factor (as in Williams’ misrepresentations).
Additionally, the transit Sun at 21 Aquarius (the focus of the day) conjoined Damocles, that point representing the doom hanging unseen overhead, at 22 Aquarius, both points still broadly opposed Jupiter at 17 Leo, governing fame and reputation. So there is the sense that some culturally significant figure, someone famous, would have a run-in with the Fates affecting his reputation. This clearly applies more to Williams, a well-respected network anchor for over a decade, but in the “unforeseen or unexpected” quality of Damocles we can see Stewart’s sudden resignation as well.
This gives us the structure of the event, the potential for major and unexpected changes in the media. But why these two men in particular?
For that we can look to PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) on the day, which clearly point to the individuals involved. Both Williams and Stewart have PNAs with close contacts to the Sun and Mercury for the day. Brian Williams is represented by asteroid Brian at 24 Taurus, squaring Sun/Damocles, while Jon Stewart has a double hit, with both asteroid Johney at 21 Libra and Stuart at 23 Libra in trine to the Sun.
The difference in their outcomes may be explained by the varying qualities of the aspects which link them to the Sun as focus of the day—for Williams, with Brian in square, there was more conflict and compulsion to the event. For Stewart, Johney and Stuart in trine denote a freer, more benefic energy, one which the native has the ability to capitalize on and pursue, or disregard, at his option. Brian Williams is also represented by asteroid Williams at 11 Pisces, which broadly conjoins both Neptune (TV, illusion/fantasy and deception) at 6 Pisces and Chiron (wounding, maverick behaviors) at 15 Pisces (as well as being exactly novile stationing Mercury, a 40-degree aspect which reflects a period of anticipation, “waiting for the other shoe to drop” and can represent a completion of a cycle or a testing time).
Jon Stewart is also represented by additional asteroids, which form a Grand Trine with stationing Mercury, again suggesting an ease or comfort of manifestation, a “good fit” for the events as they unfolded that day. These are asteroid Johnny at 6 Gemini and Steward at 4 Libra, which is also paired with Lachesis at 2 Libra, named for the mythic Greek Fate who determines the span of life, just as Stewart set the term on his “life” at “The Daily Show”. Having these points in a Grand Trine with Mercury, ruling the deliberative process, highlights the fact that, unlike Williams, this was Stewart’s decision, and his alone.
This pattern becomes a Kite two ways, with the insertion of either Osiris in opposition to Mercury, or Saturn in opposition to Johney. The planet in opposition forms the “string” of the Kite, and performs a similar function to the string on an actual kite, giving direction to the boundless creative energy symbolized by the Grand Trine. In this case, Osiris indicates the urge to separate or provide a terminus to an action. Saturn shows the field of action in this termination to be career. Mercury says the termination involves a media-related position, and Johney personalizes the action to Stewart.
It should also be noted that both Johney and Stuart are at their respective retrograde station degrees, within a week to ten days of turning. This grants them greater prominence and control, putting Stewart in the driving seat as regards his decision-making process and its announcement, and is also a clear indicator of “change of direction” for Stewart, who has left “The Daily Show” to pursue other projects.
There are strongly descriptive contacts to both natal charts for the day as well, and some striking similarities between the two men. Both natal Suns are involved in tight T-Squares, and both incorporate Uranian energies into the equation.
Brian Williams (born 5 May 1959) has his Sun at 14 Taurus, exactly conjunct TNO Varuna, and in square to both Uranus at 12 Leo and Damocles at 14 Aquarius. Varuna represents our legacy, what we leave behind us of lasting import or value, and as we have seen, Damocles is the unseen doom waiting to pounce. In this instance, Williams’ legacy, painstaking built up over decades, is hanging by a thread, like the sword over Damocles’ head. (Williams’ T-Square is actually a Grand Cross with a loose opposition from the Sun to Neptune at 5 Scorpio, perhaps indicating a tendency to sometimes play fast and loose with the truth, to exaggerate, if not outright lie.)
On the day of his suspension, Williams was receiving an exact conjunction from transit Karma to natal Damocles, a clear indicator that his past was catching up with him, and creating a negative result (the Mercury station also squared his Neptune, highlighting the theme of deception in the story). Until this incident, Williams’ Sun/Uranus square, with its tendency to shock or surprise, seems to have been somewhat under-activated (though echoes of this potential can be seen in his willingness to “play along” with entertainment figures—including Stewart—and lampoon himself or provide unexpectedly lighthearted and frivolous content, such as his cooperation with several “covers” of hip-hop tunes dubbed to his voice). It’s interesting that Williams’ downfall came via misreported stories of his having been subject to explosive small arms and RPG fire while in an aircraft, both Uranus-ruled.
Jon Stewart’s (born 28 November 1962) Sun-Uranus square was always much more in evidence, in the form of the rabble-rousing, intentionally shocking and disruptive, nonconformist views he expressed nightly. With the Sun at 5 Sagittarius squared Uranus at 5 Virgo and Jupiter at 4 Pisces, politics (Jupiter-ruled) was a natural focus of Stewart’s native discontent and desire to make waves and incite others to rebellion against the status quo. A conjunction of Johney and Steward in the birth chart, at 19 and 17 Virgo respectively, mirrors the Johney/Stuart transit conjunction, and had been opposed by transit Venus at 17 Pisces when he announced his departure, another indicator of the placid, unruffled internal state which accompanied his decision, going out at the height of his popularity (Venus-ruled).
A natal pairing of Osiris and Steward at 21 and 23 Scorpio was squared by the transit Sun for his announcement, while natal Johnny at 10 Cancer was exactly opposed by transit Atropos at 10 Cancer, yet one more signpost that major changes were in the wind for the iconic satirist. The Uranus/Pluto square interacted with this polarity from 13 Aries and 14 Capricorn, leaving many shocked (Uranus) by Stewart’s voluntary relinquishment of his media power (Pluto).
In stark contrast, Brian Williams’ natal asteroid Williams at 17 Sagittarius was tied to an exact transit T-Square of TNO Chaos at 17 Gemini and Venus at 17 Pisces. Chaos was surely what ensued in Williams’ life with his suspension, and the six-month loss of pay (he earns $10 million per year) will certainly impact his personal finances, Venus-ruled.
One other story emerged over the station period involving a major transition for a media figure, this time with deadly consequences. Veteran CBS reporter Bob Simon (born 29 May 1941), noted for his work on “60 Minutes” amid a career spanning almost five decades, was killed in a car crash in Manhattan on February 11, the night of the Mercury station. The transit Sun/Damocles pairing lay in square to Simon’s natal Saturn and Uranus at 20 and 26 Taurus, which together can spell “sudden, unexpected (Uranus) death (Saturn)”. Sun/Damocles was just entering the orb of Simon’s natal asteroid Requiem at 27 Aquarius, named for the funeral mass for the dead, and was also in trine to natal asteroid Simona (for “Simon”) at 23 Gemini.
Natal asteroid Roberta (for Robert “Bob” Simon) at 10 Leo was conjoined by transit Nemesis (undoing) at 9 Leo, which also squared natal asteroid Roberts at 7 Taurus, itself conjunct Lachesis at 11 Taurus. A natal pairing of asteroid Rip (for the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”) and Mercury at 27 and 29 Gemini suggests a potential for death involving a car (Mercury-ruled). This point would shortly be activated by the Solar Eclipse of March 20, which at 29 Pisces fell exactly atop Simon’s natal asteroid Osiris (death) and exactly squared his natal Mercury.
All three media-related stories share a common venue, New York City, represented by transit asteroid Manhattan, which at 18 Scorpio closely squared the Sun at 20 Aquarius, marking the city as pivotal to the events of the day.
I cannot recall a Mercury station which made as much immediate impact on media figures, perhaps due to its Aquarian tech influence, and the increasing importance which communication has in our complicated world, where such technologies seemingly run our lives and pervade every aspect of them.