Saturn in Leo III: Overstepping the Royal Authority


Most Americans, myself included, had no idea our federal government runs a secret court—the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—charged with approving undercover searches and wiretaps for 'national security purposes'… and with no requirement to disclose its writs and rulings, even to those who may be charged with crimes as a result.

We weren't aware, that is, until recent weeks … when all the 'Domestic Spying: Essential or Unconstitutional?' shit started hitting the fan.

The Bush administration has now been forced to defend itself against accusations it overstepped its executive-branch authority, allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists. (Hell, I never even knew the NSA existed. Aren't the FBI and the CIA enough?)

Many members of Congress, who were largely left out of the briefing loop with regards to the NSA's eavesdropping program, are questioning its legality and want more details. And the questions are not limited to Democratic lawmakers, either—even politicians from Bush's own party are calling for a review.

This latest challenge to the Bush administration's dominion plays right into the ongoing lesson of Saturn in Leo. It's another example of 'a challenge to the king's power'. Leo is the zodiac's regal sovereign, who revels in the Sun's bright light and bestows a majestic, loving glow upon all who flock around. But when tough-taskmaster Saturn moves through his sign, Leo must prove responsible and generous and truly noble… or risk tarnish on his crown and damage to the throne.

I've already written about Bush's current personal showdown with Saturn, as it crosses back and forth across his Leo Ascendent and 1st-house Mercury/Pluto conjunction in Leo. Beyond that, Saturn in Leo also raises the more general issue of self-centered power… and at what point confidence and decisiveness (positive Leonine qualities) degenerate into narcissism and megalomania (presumably less positive).

In the context of government, the term 'self' is a poignant stand-in for the executive branch (i.e., the president and his cabinet), which jibes well with Leo—this, in contrast to the legislative branch (i.e., Congress), which is more clearly signified by Leo's opposing sign, Aquarius. Whereas Leo is about one central shining cult of personality, Aquarius represent the whole group, the united body of diverse individuals (or not so diverse, as in the case of the US Congress) coming together for a common cause. It's no surprise, then, as Saturn in Leo approaches a long-term (mid-2006 thru mid-2007) opposition to Neptune in Aquarius, a polarization between executive and legislative authority—and/or between 'the leader' and 'the people'—should manifest in the national consciousness.

Obviously, this is not the first time a debate has broken out about the appropriate bounds of presidential power. Indeed, it was in the period directly following the Watergate scandal that governmental discussions on this issue led to the passing of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which effectively created the secret Surveillance Court. Journalists have picked up on the 'déjà vu' feel of the current situation, in relation to the similar debate that occurred during the Ford administration (circa 1975-77)—especially considering the many of the key players were the same. At that time, George Bush Sr. was the CIA Director, Dick Cheney White House Chief of Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld, then as now, Defense Secretary.

Also at that time, Saturn was passing through Leo. See, astrological cycles provide the rationale to support the old adage that history does repeat itself. Déjà vu, indeed.

FISA was passed and signed into law by President Carter on Oct 25, 1978. And as we might expect from legislation involving power, secrecy and in-depth investigations, the chart for FISA is crammed full of Scorpio—Sun, Venus, Mercury, Mars and Uranus. Meanwhile, the Moon and Jupiter both reside in Leo, squaring this stellium (cluster of planets in the same sign) of Scorpio planets.

That means, of course, FISA (like many of us) has recently suffered from 'grand-cross malaise', forcing it ahead in dynamic evolution. In particular, Jupiter's current transit through Scorpio expands FISA's presence… to the point of publicizing it to the many Americans who didn't know of it at all. And Mars's marathon transit through Taurus, in opposition to the FISA Scorpio stellium, helps to explain why the executive powers it bequeaths are now facing animosity from outside forces (congressional, journalistic, populist). Plus, Saturn in Leo (which, as we said, curtails royal license) doesn't help matters, conjoining FISA's Leo Moon and squaring all that Scorpio stuff.

One last feature of the FISA birthchart worth mentioning is its Saturn placed at 10 degrees Virgo, which square the natal Uranus (8 Gemini) in the US's chart. I read this as an inherent friction between the disciplinary constraints (Saturn) wrought by FISA and the personal liberties (Uranus) sacred to the American way of life. The US's Uranus in Gemini is all about freedom of information and personality, with which FISA's Saturn in Virgo can easily clash by fixating on the details of intelligence gathering, at the expense of the big picture—in this case, the very liberatory principles the government aims to protect by spying.

I've already mentioned the significant point we're at in American history, as reflected by the current position of transiting Uranus at 9 Pisces—in square to the natal US Uranus. (It hit our awareness in connection with Hurricane Katrina, when Uranus also conjoined the city of New Orleans's natal Pluto at 8 Pisces). Now, here's another synchronicity: Uranus in Pisces forms an opposition to FISA's Saturn in Virgo… right as its tight Saturnian lid gets popped off by the currents of Uranian freedom. How fitting that politicians and the media alike are calling for reform to FISA. The timing, as always, is perfect.

Saturn in Leo, meanwhile, is still at the beginnings of its toughening-up adjustment period for the 'royal authority'. Currently retrograding through the first third of Leo until April, it has a lot of its recent ground still to retrace. And plenty of members of the Bush administration, not just George W. himself, have natal placements that'll continue to receive the challenging Saturn treatment.

Expect more dramatic twists after the Mar 29 06 solar eclipse. Especially watch Dick Cheney.

FAQ: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Q&A: NSA Eavesdropping: Privacy vs. National Security (NY Times)
The Wrong Wiretap Debate (Washington Post, opinion)