Aaron Swartz, the brilliant internet pioneer and social justice activist is dead. His untimely passing on Friday, January 11, on the first Full Moon of this new post- 12.21.12 era, burst like a meteor through the neurological circuitry of humanity. The death of this one young man reseeds the noosphere with a set of values that it has been in danger of losing altogether: openness, generosity, kindness, justice for everyone, and a genuine indifference to the materialistic root value of this capitalist age. For Aaron, money was not “bottom line.” Money was a tool like any other. It depends what those tools are for. Do we serve ourselves or serve others? Aaron Swartz demonstrated a lifelong clear choice between the two.
His death was an apparent suicide, by hanging, in his apartment in Brooklyn, New York. His girl friend found the body.
Besides the inundation of encomiums pouring from his friends, colleagues, family, and others who had been personally affected with the power, passion and purpose of this highly unusual young man, this young man of whom we can say that he truly was and is a star whose light shines on, some of those who would see his light shrouded in darkness are now talking about Aaron Swartz as having been “taken out” by those who would keep humanity enslaved.
Of course, given that he had been targeted by a federal prosecutor for “stealing” (information that he wanted people to be able to access freely) and was facing a felony trial that could have locked him up for 30 years, that question occurred to me as well.
For me, when in doubt, I look at the astrology. Not for definitive answers, but for perspectives on the question. And what I found made me think that he was NOT assasinated. That the current stresses in his life had built to the point where he could have very well taken his own life.
BTW: when 9/11 went down, I had an instant hit: “inside job.” Strong and clear. Then I looked at the astrology of the event that morning, and was stunned to find that the chart showed a harmonious grand trine. “Aha,” I thought, “this event was the result of careful planning that went off without a hitch.” You would think that such an explosive moment would have looked explosive astrologically, but it did not. The chart looked downright serene. That taught me something, as an astrologer.
I approached the matter of Aaron Swartz, his manner of dying, with my discovery about the astrology of 9/11 in mind. Had his astrology resonated with that of 9/11, had it indicated nothing much internally, nothing unusual, then I would have assumed he had been killed. An “outside job,” so to speak. But it did not. Not by a long shot. Instead, his astrology showed a powerful transit picture that was bound to affect his psyche in a massive way, a picture that had been heralded two years prior, that had been building for months, and that was then triggered by a powerful Mars.
I’ve tried to find his birthtime and not succeeded. Unfortunately, without the time of birth, there is no way of setting up his specific chart, and no way to know either his Ascendant and Midheaven (and house system) or the exact degree of his Moon.
Nor do we have his time of death, though we do know that he died on Friday, the day of the first New Moon of 2013, in Capricorn. Last night I read an interesting reflection, written last Friday, on this New Moon from astrologer Eric Francis on planetwaves. Two paragraphs were eerily resonant:
Today’s New Moon is intriguing because its closest aspect is to a newly discovered planet, Eris . . . The aspect is a square — maximum tension. It’s as if there’s some energy lurking behind this New Moon, as if something is trying to burst out and crack through the world like an egg. . . .
In addition to this tension, there’s some wistfulness in the air. This New Moon is conjunct an asteroid called Requiem. There may be some longing for what might have been, what was lost or what went unexpressed. . .
Keep the above in mind as we now pay attention to what we do know about Aaron Swartz, his birth date, as well as the day he died. November 8, 1986 and January 11, 2013.
For like Bradley Manning, Aaron Swartz was a member of the “Pluto in Scorpio generation” (born 1983/4 – 1995) who personally enjoyed/endured several natal planets in Scorpio, symbolizing their mutual, soulful drive and determination to overcome the powers that be. And like Bradley Manning, Aaron Swartz also had planets in Sagittarius, reflecting his ethical focus on the primacy and transparency of Truth. (See this for more on Manning’s astrology).
The astrology of Aaron Swartz’s birthdate shows a strong, intense, fixed conjunction among three planets in Scorpio: Pluto (at 7°39), Venus (10°42) and the Sun (16°02). That conjunction was, in turn, on the day this bright spirit entered a body in this world, “square”, or 90° from what was probably an intense, near exact conjunction between Mars (18°31) and the Moon (somewhere in that degree area) in Aquarius. Sun was exactly square Mars on that day. Aaron was born to be a revolutionary, to push against (Mars) the boundaries of the powers that be (Pluto in Scorpio) in order to free up space and speech and interchange of ideas (Aquarius). That his Sun and Venus were in Scorpio as well shows that he knew (Sun) what he was up against, and that he loved (Venus) what he was doing — puncturing dark, secretive powers in order to release the light. That his Moon was near the revolutionary Aquarian Mars indicates that, on an emotional level, he needed to explode avenues for free expression.
That Aaron came in with the wave of souls born during the years when Pluto was in Scorpio branded him as a member of a generation that deeply feels the implications of plutocratic power. More than most, he consciously recognized what he was up against (Pluto often works unconsciously rather than consciously) and acted as a leader (Sun/Venus conjunct Pluto) of his generation to penetrate the secret halls of power (Scorpio) in order to release information freely into the world (Aquarius). That was what he was born for. That’s why he came in when he did. Clearly, given the dizzying list of projects he had already seen through to completion, and the organizations he had helped found and spur on — most of which I myself as a non-techie near-Luddite had either never heard of or have taken for granted but which his generation knows about in a big big way — in 26 short years he did what he set out to do.
But it wasn’t easy. He suffered from depression and said so, blogging on the subject.
The square between two fixed signs is always difficult to work with. Both signs are determined to have their way. In this case, Scorpio, to dig deep into secrecy, into the corruption of old, stuck power, to press on it there until it transforms; and Aquarius, to bring information to light, to enjoy the free exchange of diverse ideas. When he wasn’t sunk, stuck, “depressed,” in the darkness of his own inner Scorpio, he would harness the power buried there to release the Aquarian light — not just for himself, but for everyone, as is the Aquarian way. And he did. This five planet configuration — Sun/Venus/Pluto square Mars/Moon — was the engine that fueled his enormously creative and productive life force.
He was also an extremely idealistic, ethical person who honored truth-telling as a virtue (Saturn and Uranus both in Sagittarius). These two planets in that fiery philosophical sign fueled the Scorpio/Aquarius engine that he utilized to both guard and amplify the dynamic freedom of the internet.
There is of course much more to say. I’m just sketching here. We don’t know his whole chart. But we do know that this powerful Scorpio/Aquarian tension ruled it, no matter what the exact time of his birth.
Skip now to the day of his death, and what led up to it astrologically. And keep in mind here, that I’m not saying that planets cause us to act in certain ways. Rather, I am saying that the degree positions of the planets — and especially, their angular relationships to one another and to the natal planets of the person in question — symbolize and reflect what is going on both externally and internally. Furthermore, please realize that I’m not saying that anyone with the configurations that he endured/enjoyed would have had such an impact, or acted in the same manner. Rather, given what we know of his public biography, he must have been a very “old soul” to begin with; that this old soul chose the day of his birth that held this configuration; that he chose to have a powerful effect and be drawn to work with exceedingly dark and difficult and ultimately universally liberating situations.
Two years ago, in January 2011, when the current prosecutorial sting began, transit Mars was in Aquarius, directly squaring his Scorpio Sun and conjuncting his natal Mars in Aquarius. No big deal, however. The cycle of Mars is somewhere between 18 months and 2 years, so Mars impacted that fixed Scorpio/Aquarius engine of his about every three months, either by square, opposition or conjunction. But: and get this, for it is important: Two years later, in January 2013 when Mars again impacted the Scorpio/Aquarius engine, he would kill himself.
In other words, the prosecutorial zeal, which began two years ago in January 2011, finally strangulated him, without even coming to trial. Before he was due to sit in the courtroom, the forces of society that are determined to keep power held by the few against the many, got him. Took him out. Not in any direct way. They didn’t have to. They could count on his “depressive” nature to take over.
So, then, starting this past October, 2011, for the first time in his young life, the planet Saturn, which has a 29.5 year cycle, entered the sign of Scorpio, to transit that sign until December 2014. Saturn in Scorpio: when debts come due. The entire “civilized” world is to feel the effects of strict, stern Saturn as it grinds through the intense, hidden sign of Scorpio, where either the love of power or the power of love rules. Clearly, Aaron Schwartz was driven by the power of love to penetrate the (Saturnine) structures of the love of power and release the massive long-repressed ideational and financial energy of the 99% that has been compressed into the greedy maw of the 1%.
Starting with his indictment in January 2011, when Mars alerted him to the forces arrayed against him, and then, ramping up in early October 2012, when the long arm of the law (Saturn) began to impact his inner life in a way that felt more and more pressing (Saturn in Scorpio).
By mid-December, Saturn reached the first of his Scorpio planets, Pluto, at 7.° And then, in the first week of January, Pluto began to press on his natal Venus at 10°. That Venus in Scorpio of his that loved so deeply and with such soul. Saturn constricts whatever it contacts. Saturn presses down. He died on Friday, January 11, when Saturn was at 10° 15 Scorpio, in exact conjunction with his natal Venus.
Meanwhile, the planet Mars, which makes one cycle of the zodiac every 18 months to two years, on December 27, 2012, entered Aquarius, the sign it occupied when he was born, and the sign of his Moon. Rash, impulsive Mars, acting usually a bit ahead of itself, and ahead of its transits, started to trigger the situation that had been set up by transit Saturn, and forewarned by its own transit through Aquarius in January 2010. I imagine that the sheer weight of what he was soon to face in the courtroom by a corrupt, corporatized legal system that has been proving itself over and over again weighted against whistle-blowers and activists for justice (witness Bradley Manning) started to pull him under.
Mars squared Pluto during the first few days of January. It squared his Venus and the transitting Saturn shortly thereafter. On the day of his death Mars was heading into a conjunction with its own natal position as well as a square to his natal Sun. The combination of the transits of these two very difficult planets, one of them action oriented (Mars), the other heavy with fear or responsibility or something like that (Saturn), both working directly, by conjunction and square onto his massive five-planet natal array of Pluto/Venus/Sun square Mars/Moon, tipped him over into the final darkness that put an end to the meteoric rise and fall of this embodiment of the astonishing being who was both known and loved (by those who love freedom and audacity and the willingness to stand up to power) and feared and hated (by those who represent such plutonian, corporate power and want to keep it in their control).
So while he may have been “suicided” by the cabal, perhaps the method they chose was the long slow strangulation of a nasty court case that would have imprisoned him for life. And perhaps the cabal knew that this being suffered from depression, that he would most likely play right into their hands by taking his own life.
What they may not realize, is that the exemplary life of Aaron Swartz has now been seeded into the collective as a soulful, brilliant array of a new/old set of service-to-other values that we have longed for.
What they may not realize is that this egg did burst out and crack through the world, and that the requiems still reverberating through the on-line circuitry will galvanize the young so that millions upon millions more will direct their own lives with power, passion, and deep deep humanitarian purpose.
What they may not realize, yet, is that the love of power gives way to the power of love.