Twenty-six-year-old internet prodigy-turned-activist Aaron Swartz, of the "information should be shared" hacker school, was found hanged in his New York City apartment on January 11, 2013. An apparent suicide.
Swartz helped develop RSS feeds when he was 14 years old and was a major player behind Reddit, a site for the online sharing of articles and information. Swartz was also politically active, helping to block the "Stop Online Piracy Act" which would have given the United States government new powers to interfere in legitimate internet communication on the basis of copyright infringement. (Remember when they took all those blogs down with no warning for that reason?)
Swartz had been accused of breaking into the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) network in November 2010 and downloading nearly five million academic articles from JSTOR (Journal Storage), a digital library of articles. This was likely an effort toward redistributing privileged academic information from an institution that employed some of the "big American minds."
JSTOR refused to press charges against Swartz, but MIT was unclear about whether they wanted to pursue legal action.
As a result, the Massachussetts' Attorney's office laid charges that, if Swartz were convicted, could have resulted in a 30-year jail sentence and a $1 million fine.
The trial was scheduled to start in February.
A statement released by Swartz's family places blame squarely on the shoulders of MIT and the Attorney's office:
"Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles."
After Swartz's death, some academics published their articles on Twitter for free in tribute to him.
For anyone still unaware, we're embedded in the long, hard Pluto in Capricorn years at this point (until 2024), and these years involve a theme of death (Pluto) by institution (Capricorn).
A 26-year-old computer prodigy - more than likely of prodigy-level sensitivity - facing 30 years in prison with a $1 million fine for sharing academic work from one of the brain trusts of U.S. academia. You see the overwhelming weight of the situation.
Aaron Swartz was emotionally and psychologically crushed to death under the weight of threatened institutional violence (Pluto in Capricorn).
He was a member of the Pluto in Scorpio generation (1983 to 1995). This is a generation under tremendous pressure right now as Saturn conjuncts their natal Pluto placements (2012 - 2015) and the full karmic weight of the collective situation is brought down on them, through their personal lives.
The sign of Scorpio bears the brunt of how fucked up everything is. It all circles back to bite someone in the ass, and the Pluto in Scorpios, as a generation, are reaping the consequences of decades of irresponsible energetic buck-passing on the part of their elders.
They're being sacrificed, if you want to get right down to it.
Make no mistake. This is how Scorpio is killed. At the very least, it's how Scorpio is damaged.
You crush its central nervous system. You step on it with tremendous downward force. You weigh it down from overhead until it can't tolerate the pressure. This is a favourite tactic during the Pluto in Capricorn years.
Heap on as many toxic threats, toxic debts, toxic institutions, toxic procedures, toxic red tape, toxic food, toxic air, toxic information, toxic energy fields as you can. Weaken the systems until they implode on their own.
No fuss, no muss. Self-annihilating problems clean themselves right up.
This is one of the ways that the toxic pharmaceuticals and immunizations being handed out like candy these days work to flatten people - they fuck with the central nervous system. They trigger suicidal thoughts. They make it seem hopeless to continue living.
This is the way toxic debt loads are used to flatten people. Train people from childhood to buy, to fill emotional and spiritual starvation with consumer goods, produced by slave labour somewhere far away. And then to rot under the stinking weight of it all. Under their debt to it all.
This is the way the violent, corrupted, top-down institutions are used to flatten people: Put people through hell. Scare them. Fuck with them. Tie up their time and energy. Invade their emotional, psychological, and psychic space. Leave no comfort. Threaten them with long-term confinement in their version of hell. Use the institutional muscle at your disposal (police, lawyers, judges, prisons).
Scorpio is the sign of intense regeneration and healing, but there's only so much it can handle. We're past the point of tolerance in a number of cases.
And, if this was suicide, it appears Aaron Swartz was one of those cases.
Aaron had natal Pluto at 7 degrees Scorpio conjunct Venus at 10 degrees. His natal Ceres (12 degrees Scorpio) and Sun (15 degrees Scorpio) were also conjunct. (Pluto-Venus-Ceres-Sun in Scorpio)
Transiting Saturn had just completed the first conjunction to his natal Pluto in Scorpio and was conjunct his natal Venus at the time of his death. Saturn would have stationed retrograde on that point on February 18. What this initial pass of Saturn would have been kicking up for Aaron was the understanding that he couldn't escape this one. Saturn was going to retrograde (go back) over his Venus and Pluto placements, and this would be applying intense pressure at various times into late 2013. Swartz was in the shit, as they say, and there would have been the classic Saturnine dread that the current troubles were going to last forever. He was going to trial. That much would have been certain. And the potential results of that trial would have been consuming his psyche to a relentless extent.
In addition to Saturn on this potentially difficult point, Mars in Aquarius had just formed a square to Saturn in Scorpio. The exact Mars-Saturn square occurred on January 7 at 10 degrees Scorpio/Aquarius and triggered Swartz's natal Pluto and Venus in Scorpio (square Moon-Mars in Aquarius). It was still within a three-degree orb at the time of his death.
Swartz's natal Mars was also in Aquarius. He was heading into a Mars return (January 18) with Saturn in Scorpio squaring, and the outlook for the next two years of his life, caught up in a horrendously overblown and terrifying trial, was not pleasing, to say the least.
Swartz would have sensed the extent to which his will (Mars) was going to be thwarted. His freedom was about to be intensely curtailed by the legal system for what would feel to him to be a lengthy (Saturn) period of time. Maybe even for 30 hellish years - a full Saturn cycle. The possibility of that would have been absolutely horrifying to a natal Mars in Aquarius disposited by Uranus in Sagittarius. Eccentric freedom of movement and independence were primary.
So the horror of all this would have been real, but it also would have been overblown and intensified to the extreme at the time of his death, inflamed by the Mars-Saturn square and the contacts to his natal Venus and Pluto placements.
The emotional impact would have been exacerbated further by Swartz's natal Moon in Aquarius, within range of a notoriously tough Saturn square to the natal Moon. This is another layer of the extremely difficult emotional/psychological territory Aaron was traversing. Huge collective energy stirred by the Saturn-Pluto-Venus contacts would have overwhelmed the personal emotional function (Moon) as well as his interpersonal relationships (Venus) at times. A strong, often overwhelming feeling of no escape. The emotional detachment of Moon in Aquarius could apparently not provide the objective context necessary for Aaron to survive this.
The Mars-Saturn square is associated with male suicide. The last time Mars squared Saturn, it was in the signs Cancer and Libra in August 2011. I wrote at the time about Ryan Rypien, a professional hockey player (fighter/enforcer) who commited suicide under that aspect. You can read more about that here: Mars-Saturn Square: Survival Guide For the Breaking Point
"News hit a few days ago of the suicide of National Hockey League hockey player Ryan Rypien. Rypien had just been traded from the Vancouver Canucks to the city where I’m currently stationed, a city where he had played as a junior. Instead of showing up for work, he was found dead at his home in Alberta August 15. Ryan was at the fateful age of 27, soon to be entering his Saturn return. He had endured years of depression, speaking publicly about it and taking time off twice from his hockey career to have it treated. The death of his girlfriend in a car accident when he was a junior player and captain of the Regina Pats was more than likely a contributing factor to his ongoing depression, and the stress of a move and a brand new hockey club under the Cardinal Grand Cross – facing down that Mars-Saturn square - were more than likely contributing factors in his decision to end his life...
Mars square Saturn is an indicator that we’re challenged to do things we don’t really want to do right now, things we don’t feel we have the strength to do at this point, and it’s kicking up anxiety and dread."
For Rypien, it was a stressful and potentially depressing (balmy Vancouver to freezing Winnipeg) career move (Mars-Saturn) coming at a time of weakened emotional health, under detrimental aspects.
The current aspect, Mars in Aquarius square Saturn in Scorpio conjunct Swartz's Venus-Pluto, indicates an extreme curtailing of personal activity, freedom, and enjoyment of life. Again, because of the collective karmic weight of Saturn-Pluto in Scorpio, the force of it was too much for one individual to contain. Swartz worked with broad, philosophical issues, issues that affected millions or billions of people, and the energetic weight of all this coming down on him was too much. As with many strongly Plutonic individuals, he was fighting battles that were far bigger than himself. Dangerous yet necessary work.
But his relative youth and inexperience (Mars) were detrimental to him as he experienced Saturn on his natal Pluto and Venus. He couldn't see his way out. Interacting with older activists with strong legal perspective could have been beneficial.
As Pluto, one of Scorpio's ruling planets, transits Capricorn, people are being crushed under the weight of institutional violence. But they're also being crushed by the fear of what could happen. Institutional fear intentionally used as a weapon.
We are living with inhumane institutions. This is nothing new. Two million U.S. citizens sitting in prisons can tell you that much. The mentally ill, the homeless, sick war veterans, those who can't get enough food to eat, those without health insurance. They can all tell the tale.
Most of us can tell it, actually.
With Pluto in a slow-burn transit of the sign of the hierarchical institution, Capricorn, it's just being fully exposed.
In a great many instances, institutions want you to fail. They train you to fail. Because they benefit from, make money from, your failure.
Institutions destroy people. They sometimes destroy people quickly. Usually, however, it's a slow, eroding, toxifying collapse over the course of time. Aaron Swartz had enough notoriety and enough middle-to-upper-middle class technology connections that his story hit the headlines in a big way. The vast majority of these stories don't, especially if they involve people of a certain race and/or class. Especially if it's been accepted as "just the way things are."
The current constructs and power dynamics have lost legitimacy in the minds of all but the most conditioned.
What you have to do, pretty babies, is destroy its importance in your mind before it destroys you.
Get out from under the psychological weight of it however you can.
Step right out from under it.
Because it will crush you if you give it the chance.
Whatever is oppressing you so heavily right now doesn't matter.
Whatever is stressing you out doesn't matter. It's bullshit. Take responsibility for what's yours and get rid of the rest. Give it up to the universe, your higher power, God.
You're what matters.
You are loved.
Aaron Swartz is who mattered in that situation. Not a bunch of academic articles. Not a bunch of lawyers or universities trying to be the biggest, most fascist cunts they could possibly be. Swinging their dicks around by the letter of the (too often corrupted) law.
To a great extent, our institutions are devoid of humanity. But that doesn't mean we have to be.
Swartz's Venus (love) placement was in the sign of its detriment, Scorpio. Conjunct Pluto and square Moon-Mars in Aquarius, this indicates a sense of being isolated with what he faced, most likely throughout life. Transiting Saturn conjunct his natal Venus - and sitting there for months during a retrograde station - was cutting off the love flow even more.
One of the ways they crush us is by isolating us. They make us feel as if we're the only ones going through it, as if we're irretrievably damaged goods, as if we'll never have access to what's good in life.
Understand that whenever Pluto is involved, the roots of the situation are immensely complex. Each individual struggling is part of a massive Plutonic network struggling with the same thing. Venus, Juno, and Pluto are currently conjunct in Capricorn. We are not alone with this. You are not alone with this. Aaron wasn't alone with it, though he probably felt that way.
We have to work to connect with each other, even though it's hard, and to love and care for each other, or they've got us. They've stripped us of one of the primary things that makes life worth living on this planet - our loving, compassionate humanity, given and received.
Aaron Swartz fought to get necessary information to the people. He believed in the free flow of knowledge. Natal Saturn-Uranus-Juno in Sagittarius. His belief was an Aquarian era belief: if people need to know something, they should have access to what they need to know. This benefits, improves, and advances dignified human life. Aaron was a water-bearer. Aries North Node disposited by Mars in Aquarius.
I'm a water-bearer, too. I know that astrology, applied properly and responsibly, can save lives. I think astrology could possibly have saved Aaron Swartz's life. Astrology is another example of knowledge being kept from people when they need it.
You see how transits can provide temporary increases in difficult themes and pressures. The key word, though, is temporary. To get a road map of these transits and their timing, rather than being left alone with the nightmarish emotional and psychological weight of them, could have helped keep Aaron here, and that would have benefited a lot of people.
Aaron had public opinion on his side. MIT itself seemed wishy washy on the charges. The trial would have been arduous, but, even if convicted, he probably would not have been left with anywhere near the maximum sentence or fine.
Saturn in Scorpio would have been a maturing transit for Aaron. If he had lived through it, he would have gone from free-wheeling young prodigy to seasoned, stealthy, strategic freedom fighter. One here for the long haul.
He blazed out, and I wish he hadn't.
What I want to say right now is this: we're going through some rough, early-Aquarius waters on this planet over the next few years. I want you all to live through it with me. To do what we need to do to create change. And to be stronger for it.
Understand, if you're going through hell, there are hundreds, thousands, millions more who are going through it right alongside you. They're living almost the exact same story...or worse.
You're never alone. Please reach out when you need to. Express what's going on to those you trust, even though it's hard.
They keep us isolated in shame and embarrassment. Feeling like damaged goods. Feeling abnormal. Don't be ashamed. There isn't one thing we need to be ashamed of. It's the ones enforcing this violence who should be ashamed.
Reach out. Get the support you need. Don't let their hell constructs take you down.
Pluto in Scorpios, this is for you: You know something about astrology if you are reading this site. You see this stuff. You know what your peers are going through over the next couple years - even if they don't - because the astrology sets the scene.
Please know that astrology is here to help you. Good, responsible, properly applied astrology is one of the only things that helps the hardcore Scorpio/Pluto cases. Access it when you need it, and use the knowledge to help the people around you.
Aaron Swartz information source: The Telegraph obituaries