Yesterday, December 3, 2010, Amazon pulled the plug on the controversial website Wikileaks, triggering a challenging public discourse and opportunity for deep thinking about censorship, ownership of information, and the security of the internet. In my last post about airport security, I pointed out the current planetary alignment of Pluto conjunct the North Node, both in Capricorn and opposite the South Node in Cancer. This signals that the issues on the table concern deep truths that make us squeamish, uncomfortably mixed with our attachment to security and our fears of losing just that. Since then Mercury has joined the party. And right on time, we see the Wikileaks story break.
Mercury, often described as the fickle witty androgyne with no attention span, also has a very important and less mentioned function – that of the psychopomp. Mercury was the only god allowed access in and out of the underworld, and carried messages back and forth. Mercury’s impartiality makes him the perfect companion to Pluto in some ways, who has a love for brutal truth and soul-shaking honesty. Mercury is the one god who can take in Pluto’s message and remain unphased – it’s just information after all, he thinks. As an underworld messenger, and currently in Capricorn, the messages Mercury delivers us have a sober darkness, a cold utilitarianism, and speak of unveiled truths concerning power, authority, death and domination.
The fact that Mercury just now begins to station retrograde while conjunct Pluto (Mercury will officially go retrograde on December 10, while still conjunct Pluto), alerts us to the fact that this Wikileaks information, and the conflict arising from it, is not only a brutal truth unearthed from the underworld, but one which can eventually lead us to a transformational processing of our deepest subconscious material. It has often been said that this long cycle of Pluto in Capricorn will lead to much unveiling of the shady behind-the-scenes and even criminal practices of governments, corporations and figures of authority. But perhaps not mentioned enough, is the extreme discomfort, pain, and catharsis such information will cause both globally and individually. One look around will confirm that many people are feeling this.
So how can we work with such information? As spectators, we can sit back and watch the contents of the collective consciousness spill forth through the various responses to Wikileaks release of classified information. Some praise Wikileaks for forcing the freedom of information, while others oppose them for revealing secrets of national security. There is indeed a fine balance here, and I think we are all being called to not jump to quick conclusions here, but to attempt to integrate a deeper spiritual lesson. All-or-nothing seems to be an approach that is criticized by most advanced mystical teachers. Otherwise known as dualism, a higher path towards non-dualistic thinking is laid out by spiritually advanced souls such as Ramana Maharshi. Somewhere in the middle of these opposing views then, lies a path to awakening.
Light From the North Node
Some astrologers claim that the north node points us in the direction of our evolution, while others see it as an entry point for energy – so that when a planet sits next to it, the energy of that planet more easily enters. The south node is thought of as energy that we’re moving away from, that brings us down, that causes our “undoing,” and the place in our charts where energy exits. So the nodal axis can be used as a compass, with the north node the light pointing the way forward. In this moment, the way forward carries the energies of Pluto, Capricorn, and Mercury, and this doesn’t look like we’re heading to a party. The energy of our undoing is represented by Cancer, the place in which we’re most concerned with safe cocoons of nurturing and security. Those same Cancerian motivators can lead us into false dreams. Cancer can be so attached to its version of reality that it starts to fully believe that what it imagines is actually real.
As the Wikileaks information is released, many have expressed concerns for the safety and lives of people identified in the documents. The Wikileaks founder himself, Julian Assange (who has the sun in Cancer square to Uranus), has found his own security threatened by attacks and threats from those who challenge him. Motivated by fears about security, our Cancerian need for protection rises up in defense.
Cancer is compelled to erect defenses and fortresses when threatened. And we can see this response from everyone who feels threatened in this situation. CNN reports that Assange himself has “posted a massive, closely encrypted file, identified as insurance” against the possible takedown of Wikileaks. But the fact that Pluto is on the North node, and now Mercury is there too, suggests that this disturbing information is in fact, just what we need to hear in order wake up from the Cancerian dream world – a labyrinth of fantasy constructed out of our need to feel safe in the world.
In the underworld, death, pain and suffering reign supreme. As lord of the underworld, Pluto is immune to our human experience of such things, and demands (not asks) that we face our deepest truth, no matter how frightening. Mythology as well as experience tells us that there is a price to pay for ignoring such demands. The amount of our resistance will at least be matched with the amount of increase in our discomfort. The deepest message here is to release our attachment to our own security – which here is shown to be holding us back – and surrender to the experience, no matter how painful or hard to look at. And that, my friends, doesn’t sound like any fun that I want to have. But evolution rarely is.
Amazon claims its decision to pull the plug on the Wikileaks site arose both because the information presented is not “owned” by Wikileaks and thus violates their internal policies, and also because the information released risks the lives of those revealed in the documents. We could get into a great debate about much of the content sold every day on Amazon that risks the lives of the very people reading it, but that’s another topic. What’s important here, is that Amazon has taken both the position of the South Node in Cancer, defending security, and also the dark side of Capricorn expressed as the monolithic, controlling power structure that has the last word – as in, “Dad says no.”
Hal Roberts points out an important fact in his Guardian article on the subject that “as a society, we have reached a place where the only way to protect some sorts of speech on the internet is through one of only a couple of dozen core internet organizations.” The massive size of the concentrated distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against independent online media warrants that those very producers of the content hold hands with Big Brother in order to disseminate their information. And so they are vulnerable to the control and censorship of those organizations. With only a few options, a site like Wikileaks is between a rock and a hard place, and symbolizes the struggle to protect our freedom and access to information. It will be important to keep an eye on what transpires here as this aspect will last throughout the Mercury retrograde period and again culminate as it moves direct on December 31. But watch for the peak energy to continue well into January. We’re not through talking about this just yet.
We can also argue that Wikileaks is representing Uranus and Jupiter in Pisces. The freedoms that they represent and claim to defend are portrayed as universal human freedoms – freedoms that every person should have access to on the open-access free informational network system, the internet. But Uranus is in tense square to Pluto, thus the shutdown and the struggle. And Uranus will station direct on December 7, remaining virtually motionless. Canadian astrologer Erin Sullivan points out that this may only “add more to the tension in the air, and fuel the “riot” of opposition that the shut down of WikiLeaks will bring.” Sullivan shared with me her take on this Uranus station direct: “When Uranus stations direct, it can unleash revolution and mass confusion, often masking freedom, movement forward, innovation, transparency of dogma, and progressiveness. The repression of the monstrous side of the status quo and the Plutocracy may become unsupportable, and a tsnunami of extremism could be unleashed.”
As we speak, Wikileaks is having a hard time finding a home and continues to be blocked at every turn. They were forced to relocate to a Swiss web server after the block by Amazon, and the Swiss URL address has been blocked and then unblocked, and has also come under DDOS attack. So finding a stable home (another Cancerian concern) on the internet seems unlikely for them at this point. Wikileaks has publicly asked for its content to be mirrored, or shared, on other websites, so that it remains public. Entire countries are taking a stand against Wikileaks, in this story that has become a global issue overnight.
As astrologer Joan Kiley reminds us, “Pluto is the planet of power and intensity, the “brutal truth,” radical change, earthshaking events (both literally and figuratively), things formerly hidden being brought to light, and transformation.” Combined with Capricorn, we are witnessing a real power struggle over information that is so earthshaking that entire countries like Russia and France, are expressing their opposition, and in so doing, taking the side of censorship.
This clash of the titans is quite huge, with Saturn (Structure), Pluto (Power) and Uranus (Liberation) still the players. Expect much rumbling to come.
In an interesting reminder that archetypes are never expressed in a one-dimensional fashion, Wikileaks is painted here by its opposition as a criminal.
Pluto rules the criminal underworld. Mercury is conjoined with Pluto. So the information leaked is somehow projected onto as illegal, with the French labeling Wikileaks as a “criminal” web site. Wikileaks becomes the criminal, dark side Pluto to those that fear it. And governments express Plutonian+Saturnian control over information that reveals them to be criminal.
But keep tracking me, it’s going to get even more complicated.
Mercury is currently “out of bounds,” or in astrology-speak, a high declination (generally above 23° 28′). Although theories about the meaning of out of bounds planets is just being studied, Steven Forrest’s initial research on the out of bounds moon suggests that any out of bounds planet carries a Uranian energy, an archetypal field which includes the expression of rebellion, revolution, as well as outlaw behavior. Any out of bounds planet sits literally, and so, symbolically, outside the purview of the sun’s domain. In Forrest’s terms, we can think of Mercury right now as operating “out of the King’s sight, no longer under Daddy’s thumb…out of control…gone wild.” Forrest writes that an out of bounds planet “is spontaneous, emancipated, liberated, released in its own recognizance, and utterly on its own. It has loudly proclaimed, “You can take this job (marriage, church, obligation, moral principle, town, duty…) and shove it.”
And so, jubilant in its freedom, and lacking any filters, Mercury is feeling free at the moment to blurt out its news from the underworld – damn the consequences. An out of bounds Mercury can also be expressed as a criminal Mercury. But sometimes criminals are only labeled as such because they are breaking laws that are in fact unjust. Meaning that in another culture, with other rules, they wouldn’t be labeled criminals at all. These are usually the Robin Hood kind of criminals that we love. And this is something we’re seeing associated with the out of bounds moon, and likely any out of bounds planet. Already there are many freedom loving citizens taking the side of the criminally branded Wikileaks, even as governments rally to stop them.
But the governments can also be represented here by those same planets (Pluto and Mercury), especially so since they are in the sign of Capricorn. And it’s clear that they are strongly attempting to maintain control and dominance.
A look back to the last Pluto in Capricorn period (1762-1778) reveals the year 1776. Ring any bells? And the revolutionary activity in that time period wasn’t limited to the United States. So what’s different about now? Well for one thing, in 1776 Pluto was “in harmony” with Uranus, suggesting an easier time uniting revolution with revelation. But Pluto was in square to Saturn (again in Libra). This suggests that now is especially linked to then energetically. It’s as if we are right now called to remember and re-engage with the very values and the revolutionary ideals the United States was founded on. It’s no accident that some especially unsavory folks are calling themselves the Tea Party, in an odd co-opting of revolutionary symbolism. Operators are standing by to transport you back in time. But the wires are all mixed up! Remember how I said that archetypes are never a one-way street? What is revolutionary for one person is criminal to another. What is oppressive to one is empire-building to another. And the energies always seem to switch sides, even in the moment they’re being expressed.
Consider Steve Job’s Apple empire. What do you think of when you think of Apple? Freedom, innovation, new ideas. If you think this sounds Uranian, you’re right on track. But the truth about Apple is more complex. With the release of the new iPad, the battle lines were clearly drawn. The iPad is a closed system – a system of oppression, one could argue – a device that intends to limit the user’s experience to an Apple-only world of corporate domination in which the user only has access to buy Apple products. Hmmm…now that sounds an awful lot like Saturn to me! When the iPad was released, Saturn and Uranus were tightly opposed in the sky. Jobs’ innovative new toy became an attempt to create a new system of corporate dominion. In an oppositional polarity, it is very easy to switch sides, essentially becoming the very thing that one opposes (dualism once again).
Getting back to the now, it looks like the freedom fighters are going to face even more challenges, more oppression, more power struggles and more complexity. And things are just heating up.
What About the Moon?
When Wikileaks was blocked by Amazon, the moon was in Scorpio, in its Balsamic, or Waning Crescent phase, suggesting an ending, a death. One of the shadow sides of this type of moon is madness, or losing one’s grip on reality. With a quick look at the news on any given day one can make an argument that the whole world has done just that. But let’s contain our view to this moment. As the moon moves into its darkest phase, the terrain becomes harder to navigate, and not exactly safe. Losing touch with practicality is easy now, especially with Scorpio’s attraction to the dark side. But Scorpio, like Pluto, is an underworld symbol of redemption through psychological excavation – a process that requires surrendering, letting go, and finality. What is ending here? On this deeply Plutonian underworld journey we’re on, what subterranean wealth have we come to retrieve, and what must we pay to get it? These aren’t questions that we can answer quickly. But as we take in this story, they can become personally relevant, and well worth pondering.
The Brutal Truth
So in closing today, this Mercury conjunct Pluto configuration throughout the upcoming Mercury retrograde cycle seems to be in part about facing the kinds of brutal truths that help us evolve. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the huge events at play here, the best medicine is perhaps to bring the focus back to yourself. Use this event as a personal metaphor and dive in deeply to its complexity as an entry point into your own healing process. It’s time to let Mercury’s messages out into the open, and respond with adult sobriety instead of childish fear and a defensive retreat into a secure facade of delusional un-reality. Think about how that may apply to some area of your life.
And wow, all of this just in time for the holiday season! In all seriousness, I wish all of us safety, peace, and wisdom on the difficult road ahead. And as Caroline Casey posted on Facebook: “May anything up to no good – be revealed, rendered harmless and an occasion for mirth!” Take good care.