An astrological portrait of Edward Joseph Snowden.
This interpretation is an example of how to apply the specific interpretation techniques and the rules of grammar and syntax in the language of astrology that I present in The Real Astrology Academy's Online Natal Astrology Class. The complete chart interpretation covers four main sections: Personality, Relationship Needs, Relationship Wants and the Marriage Blueprint, and Career. This is a "classic" example of an astrological portrait, first published in July, 2013.
Birth Data (From Birth Record)
June 21, 1983, 4:42 a.m. EDT, Elizabeth City, NC
Part 1: Personality
Elements and Modalities
Snowden has four planets in Air: Sun, Mercury, Mars (all in Gemini) and Saturn in Libra. He will be the most comfortable operating in the abstract, mental, intellectual and social plane, and this, most likely, is where he will live most of the time. He only has one planet in Water, the Moon in Scorpio, and while he may overcompensate for this perceived lack and perhaps struggle with letting his feelings override his intellect, this suggests a more fundamental conflict between his intellect and his feelings. Planets in Air signs prefer to stay on the surface, and are very uncomfortable with deeper emotions. The Moon in Scorpio feels emotions at a greater depth than any other placement, although it also has great difficulty expressing these feelings. This is a pattern worth noting, as it’s likely to show up again.
Snowden has no planets in Earth, which indicates that he may be driven to overcompensate and give form, structure, and tangible expression to his ideas.
Snowden has four Mutable planets (Sun, Mercury, and Mars in Gemini and Jupiter in Sagittarius), making him changeable, flexible, and adaptable. He will always be engaged in multiple projects at once, but he will also tend to take on too much at once, and eventually scatter his energy. He only has two planets in fixed signs, but it’s significant that these planets are the Moon in Scorpio and Venus in Leo, the two planets that govern his relationship needs: Safety (Moon) and Validation (Venus). As changeable and unpredictable as he may be in other areas of his life, his relationships may be where he seeks stability. Loyalty will matter to him in the context of his relationships, although it may not be quite as important in other contexts.
Saturn in Libra is the only Cardinal planet in his chart, and with only two planets in Fire, Snowden lacks the inherent drive to initiate and begin things. With such a strong emphasis on Mutable energy, he’s more concerned with healing and completing things.
Sun in Gemini in the 1st House / Sun Rules 4th House
Snowden’s Sun is at 29°25 Gemini, in his 1st house.
He wants to express his authentic “Big S” Self (Sun) by being clever and charming (Gemini), analytical and impartial (Air), and adaptable (Mutable); however, he may appear to be undependable (Mutable), meddling (Gemini), and two-faced (Gemini). What’s fascinating is that because his Sun rules his 4th house, he wants to express these qualities WITH his home and family (Sun rules 4th house). [Blueprint Sentence]
Given how Snowden’s life has played out, it makes sense to expand the context of the 4th house to include his country and his native land (4th house). Because his Sun occupies his 1st house, he encounters these needs IN his personality, his self-expression, and his pursuit of happiness (Sun in 1st house).
Board of Directors for Sun
Mercury in Gemini in the 12th house (conjunct Ascendant)
Mercury Rules 1st house
8 Votes (Ruler + Triplicity)
In order to express and embody his authentic “Big S” Self (Sun’s Board of Directors), Snowden needs to be able to communicate, process information, and understand reality (Mercury) in a way that is curious (Gemini), changeable (Gemini/Mutable), ingenious (Gemini), and responsive (Gemini/Mutable), with his personality and self-expression (Mercury rules 1st House). He encounters these needs in his encounters with other individuals and the outside world (Mercury on Ascendant), and in his unconscious and shadow-self (Mercury in 12th house). [Blueprint Sentence]
At this point, we can safely say that Snowden is primarily motivated by ideas and information. With four planets in Air, and Mercury in Gemini holding absolute sway over his personality (Sun and Ascendant in Gemini, Mercury conjunct Ascendant), Snowden embodies the Archetype of Mercury in profound and powerful ways. He gathers data and makes connections — and not only in his career. Mercury in Gemini maps out reality by exploring the nature of duality and observing the world from every possible perspective.
We must also accept that Mercury is also the Archetype of The Trickster. Although Mercury is rarely malicious, he often takes great pleasure in the amount of mischief and trouble he can create with a few well-chosen words.
It’s not possible to tell what Snowden’s motivations are from his chart. It is, however, important to acknowledge that he has the potential to exhibit behavior that can only be described as sociopathic. At the lowest levels of consciousness, Mercury in Gemini can express as a master manipulator, someone who is capable of playing games on a massive scale. Higher levels of consciousness with greater amounts of integrity, however, Mercury in Gemini facilitates the sharing of information, and open, objective communication.
Mars in Gemini in the 1st house / Mars Rules 6th and 11th Houses
2 Votes (Term)
Mars has little influence, with only 2 votes on the Sun’s Board of Directors, and because Mars is in Gemini, it will do whatever Mercury tells it to do. What Mars in Gemini brings to the picture is the need to take action based on information, specifically information that involves his job and work environment (Mars rules 6th house) and his hopes and aspirations (Mars rules 11th house). Because Mars is in his 1st house, this need to act also shows up in his personality.
Sun in Gemini in the 1st house / Sun Rules 4th House
1 Vote (Face)
It’s worth noting that Snowden’s Sun does have dignity by Face. This is one of the rare instances where the traditional application of Essential Dignities has practical value. Planets in Face are actively afraid. They have an interest in the matter, but absolutely no ability to influence the outcome. Snowden, then, may have a fear that he will not be able to express or embody his authentic “Big S” Self.
Aspects to the Sun
Snowden’s Sun opposes Neptune in Sagittarius in the 7th house, and trines Pluto and Saturn in Libra in the 5th house. It’s also semi-square Venus, which, as we’ll see, does provide some pertinent information.
Oppositions always indicate a need for balance and perspective, and they play out in the context of relationships, even more so for Snowden, as the Sun-Neptune opposition plays out in his 1st and 7th houses of one-to-one relationships. Neptune dissolves boundaries and form, and while it can relate to high levels of spirituality, on a practical level, it shows up as illusion, glamour, fantasy, and deception. Even though Neptune in Sagittarius is a generational placement, and one shouldn’t read too much into the sign of Neptune, in this context, it’s perhaps significant that planets in Sagittarius are motivated to pursue a higher truth, to the exclusion of all else. Snowden encounters this energy in his 7th house, so he projects it on other people.
Whenever he is in any kind of a relationship, Neptune will fog his perceptions of the other person, and he will respond by adapting his authentic “Big S” Self (Sun) to find balance (opposition) with these perceptions. Neptune, in fact, is very close to opposing the midpoint of Snowden’s Sun and Mars. This would seem to indicate that Snowden is likely to align his Personal Standards of Integrity (Sun) and take action (Mars) based on perceptions and information that may or may not be entirely true (Neptune). Ordinarily, we would expect this pattern to show up in his marriage and contractual relationships; in Snowden’s case, however, it may have a greater sphere of influence.
The trine from Pluto and Saturn in his 5th house to his Sun in the 1st house is also important. Trines represent a constant, effortless, continuous flow of energy. The flow of energy from Pluto gives Snowden tremendous power (Pluto), and the potential to be a vehicle for profound change and transformation in society (Pluto). This power comes from his 5th house of personal creativity, and, perhaps more importantly, risk and speculation, and affects all of his 4th house affairs (Sun rules 4th house), including his home and country. He experiences these changes personally and directly (Sun in the 1st house).
Saturn in Libra rules Snowden’s 8th, 9th and 10th houses, and is the almuten of his 5th house. The trine from Saturn to his Sun means that Snowden is continuously and automatically concerned with rules, responsibility, boundaries and the Law (Saturn). His sense of justice (Saturn in Libra) is a constant, generally supportive (trine) influence on his individual identity (Sun). Because Saturn rules his 8th, 9th, and 10th houses, Snowden needs to experience justice and structure in shared resources (8th house), foreign affairs (9th house), and his career and life path (10th house); they’re also important in his personal creativity, because Saturn is the almuten of his 5th house.
While it may be true that Snowden is an expert game-player, it’s equally true that he has absolute respect for the rules and the Laws … or at least his personal interpretation of the Laws.
Finally, it’s worth considering the semi-square between Venus and the Sun, for several reasons. Not only is the aspect very tight (16 minute orb), but Venus is in Leo, and therefore ruled by the Sun. Venus is in the 3rd house of communication, and rules Snowden’s 5th house of personal creativity and risk (as well as his Saturn in Libra). Venus in Leo craves the spotlight and equates attention with love and appreciation. Ideally, Snowden wants to be validated (Venus) for his genuine warmth and generosity (Leo), but being infamous is almost as good as being famous. This is not to suggest that Venus in Leo is the motivating factor for Snowden’s current fame. However, Venus in Leo in the 3rd house does want to be validated and appreciated for his personal (Leo) communication (3rd house). The semi-square to the Sun indicates an inherent tension and conflict. The desire to be loved and appreciated and to be in the spotlight (Venus in Leo) may interfere with his ability to communicate his message (Sun in Gemini) in an authentic manner.
Ascendant in Gemini
Snowden’s Ascendant is in Gemini, the same sign as his Sun. How he appears to others (Ascendant) is very much in accord with who he truly is as an individual (Sun). As with the Sun, Mercury has absolute dominion over the Board of Directors for Snowden’s Ascendant, with 8 votes for Rulership and Triplicity, and Mars in Gemini (with only 1 vote for Face) will again side with its ruler, Mercury in Gemini, in all things. The most significant difference between the Board of Directors for Snowden’s Ascendant and his Sun is that Jupiter in Sagittarius has 2 votes for Term in his Ascendant. This has a small, but significant impact on how Snowden approaches the world. Somewhere, buried amidst the whirlwind of data and information, language and ideals (Gemini/Mercury in Gemini), Snowden has faith (Jupiter) that there is a higher, unifying truth (Sagittarius). Jupiter rules the 7th, and is the almuten of the 2nd and 4th houses, so Snowden has faith in other individuals (rules 7th), his own skills and resources (almuten 2nd), and his home and country (almuten 4th), and he encounters this faith in his job (Jupiter in 6th house).
We’ve already noted that Neptune’s presence in his 7th house, opposing his Sun could mean that his faith in other people (Jupiter rules 7th house) is based on glamour, illusion, or deception (Neptune in 7th house).
Part of Fortune in Capricorn in the 8th House
Snowden’s Part of Fortune is in Capricorn in the 8th house. His success and happiness comes from embracing the practical, responsible, mature, and ambitious energy of Capricorn. Because he has no planets in Earth, operating on such a physical, tangible level doesn’t come naturally to him, but at the same time, it’s something that he may find particularly attractive. That he encounters this energy in the 8th house of mystery, secrets, and shared resources is interesting, especially in light of the fact that he essentially chose a career that requires tremendous secrecy.
Saturn’s influence shows up once again, as Saturn has a total of 7 votes on the Board of Directors for Snowden’s Part of Fortune (Rulership and Term). Snowden’s Saturn in Libra cares about justice, particularly with shared resources (rules 8th), foreign relations, cross-cultural experiences, and publishing (rules 9th), and his career and public reputation (rules 10th). Again, because Snowden’s Saturn is both in his 5th house and the almuten of his 5th house, he has a personal connection to these ideas of justice and fairness, and probably takes pleasure from being in a position of authority — or perhaps in a position to pass judgment.
Mars in Gemini has 4 votes for Exaltation, and Snowden’s Moon in Scorpio has 3 votes for Triplicity, although the Moon in Scorpio will always defer to Mars in Gemini. The drive here is to take action (Mars) through communication (Gemini), and this drive is also enhanced because it ties in with his need to feel Safe (Moon). Mars, however, is quincunx Snowden’s Part of Fortune, suggesting that his actions may not produce the results he expects.
In fact, Snowden’s Part of Fortune seems to be at odds with much in his chart: It’s quincunx his Sun and it’s square his Saturn and Pluto in Libra. The quincunx aspect represents a fundamental incompatibility between two planets, or in this case, between a planet and a point. There are irreconcilable differences that make it impossible for both planets involved to express fully, at the same time. This would seem to suggest that in order for Snowden to realize his fortune and success, he would need to deny and suppress his authentic “Big S” Self (Sun); and when he embodies his Sun in Gemini, it interferes with his material success. The square from Saturn and Pluto (which, of course, also trine his Sun) merely intensify this conflict because the square encourages him to take action from his Part of Fortune.
Snowden’s Part of Fortune also receives a Trine from Chiron in Taurus in the 12th house. As Chiron represents core, spiritual wounds, and this energy flows from the 12th house of self-sabotage, sorrow, and imprisonment, this doesn’t seem to bode well for Snowden’s fortune or success in the material world.
Summary of Edward Joseph Snowden’s Personality
Information, knowledge and communication are what matter the most to Snowden. He is driven by a fascination and a curiosity about the world, and comes alive when he is able to gather information. His strengths, however, lie in collecting and gathering data; his essential personality traits don’t give him an inherent ability or interest in synthesizing or understanding that data. Because of the opposition from Neptune in the 7th to his Sun in the 1st, he is even more prone to misinterpret the meaning of the data. What he perceives to be the truth may, in fact, be something quite different.
The outer planet aspects to Snowden’s Sun (as well as the opposition between his Mercury and Uranus) show that Snowden has the potential to be a vehicle for change and transformation that affects the greater world as well as his individual life. Having Pluto trine the Sun (for example) does not automatically mean that an individual will have a profound impact on society; however, individuals with strong aspects from the outer planets to their personal planets have the potential to be vessels for the energies of the outer planets.
Snowden, of course, has free will, and how his current predicament plays out depends on the choices he makes. The less ego-involved he becomes, and the more he is willing to be a conduit for these energies, the better the outcome will be for him, personally. If he does view these events as a game, it will not end well for him. On the other hand, if his motivations were pure (however misguided they may have been), he will emerge relatively unscathed.