Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Distributed Denial of Service: hitching a ride in these Cardinal/Mutable times

In today’s mutable-cardinal cosmic “weather,” security is not just being able to ride the waves, but to make something wonderful out of the experience.

Aside from the price I pay every month to stay connected, and my cyber-toddler’s vocabulary of techno-babble, I know very little about what makes the Internet tick. 

I’m guessing most of us take its availability for granted (and freak out when it goes down), but events this past week raised the red flag of insecurity. Just how vulnerable is the Internet to cyber-invasion?

 On Friday, October 21st, a wave of three “distributed denial of service” hack attacks overtook the systems run by Dyn, a New Hampshire-based “domain name system (DNS) provider.” This in turn overwhelmed and disabled a long list of major websites—including such giants as Amazon, Netflix, NYTimes, Spotify, Paypal, Visa, HBO, CNN, and many more.

Clearly, American commerce and media outlets were the prime targets, but the source of the attack and its motives are far from clear. Reportedly, a group calling itself “New World Hackers” claimed responsibility, and there’s some vague connection to Asian, possibly Vietnamese or Chinese players.

There’s even a possible connection to Wikileak’s Julian Assange—namely, that the attack was retribution for Assange’s recent lost Internet access because the Ecuadorian government (whose embassy in London provides Assange refuge from the Swedish government) doesn’t want to be seen as interfering in the U.S. presidential election through their guest’s actions. Again, all this requires much more investigation.

So, what insights can mundane astrology provide into all this? Why this, why now? Is this a new and different challenge, or simply a variation on the same themes we’ve been seeing with the ongoing mutable cosmic “weather?” Should we see this as a warning shot for something more damaging, or simply shrug it off? Let’s start by simply considering the chart for the first attack at 7 a.m. on Friday morning.

Chart #1: DDoS Attack on Dyn, October 21, 2016, 7:00 a.m. DST, Manchester, NH. Tropical Equal houses, True Node.

Sun-Mercury-ASC (Libra) oppose Uranus-Eris-DSC (Aries. Studying the attack chart on its own allows us to see how precisely timed the event was for maximum force. Cutting across the horizon, this Sun-Mercury-Uranus configuration points to a surprise launched by radical, technologically sophisticated operatives (Uranus conjoined 7th house cusp) with an “ax” to grind (Eris, not shown).

The perpetrators (7th house ruler Mars) likely viewed their actions as just retribution—even though they may have no essential gripe with Dyn itself. Mars disposes Uranus-Eris from Mercury’s natural, communications-oriented 3rd house, reflecting how the hackers used the Internet as a vehicle for retaliation for some perceived harm.

This strategic goal is also suggested by Venus in Sagittarius disposing the event Sun and being in mutual reception with Jupiter in Libra. No blood was shed (Mars conjoins Pluto and seems to be more concerned with strategic manipulation), but Mercury’s 12th house placement and close opposition to Uranus suggest coordinated, hidden operations.

Given the placement of this opposition across the chart horizon, we should probably consider this a warning “shot across the bow,” perhaps the “dawn” (ASC) of a new concept (Mercury) in cyber-retribution (Uranus-Eris). The experts are undoubtedly scrambling to determine what this means for future cyber-security—not just for commercial websites, but for more essential public infrastructure systems such as water and electricity.

Mars conjoins Pluto (Capricorn) and opposes Moon-Part of Fortune (Cancer); Mars-Pluto squares Uranus-Eris (Aries). No blood may have been shed in this cyber-attack, but there was real damage and animosity (Mars-Pluto) involved. The perpetrators may have also considered this a “pre-emptive strike,” whether justified or not. Because cyber-espionage is such a cloak-and-dagger affair, we’ll probably never know what’s truly behind it, but clearly this chart supports a mindset that says “the best defense is an offense” (Cancer-Capricorn, facilitated by Aries).

Election 2016 has highlighted the cyber-meddling that goes on between countries, so we’re increasingly sensitive (as we’ll consider later, the Moon here conjoins the Sibly Sun) to this unique type of insecurity. Perhaps the magnitude of this hack attack was meant to register like a grand saber-rattling parade: “Mess with us and this is what you’ll get!”

T-Square: Neptune conjoins South Node (Pisces) and opposes North Node (Virgo); Saturn (Sagittarius) squares this axis. Neptune melts away boundaries in whatever it touches, and here that passive force is at odds with Saturn’s more structured agenda. Spanning the 5th-11th and 2nd houses of this chart, this tense configuration points to a power play targeting finances and values. In Sagittarius, Saturn is disposed by Jupiter in Libra, weaving cardinal (Libra) and mutable (Pisces) dynamics into the event portrayed here.

As noted above, Jupiter and Venus stand in mutual reception (each occupying the ruling sign of the other), suggesting that this T-square is energized by an ideological, Jupiterian agenda. With Venus so tightly woven into the chart, the theme of justice (as the perpetrators see it, at least) seems inescapable, although from the 2nd house this Venus may also signify financial motives.

This interesting mix of cardinal and mutable energies seems custom-made for a hack attack: basically, the proactive, ideologically charged (cardinal Jupiter) destabilizing (Neptune) of the boundaries and structure (Saturn) of an entity by force of sheer overwhelm (Neptune/Pisces). As we’ve seen, Uranus speaks to the technological “battleground” and weaponry.

A la mode

None of the planets in this chart fall in fixed energies, which facilitated the destabilizing force of this attack. Simply in terms of energy dynamics, perhaps the key is figuring out how to turn mutable and cardinal energies into an advantage. This is easier said than done, of course—mutable energies tend towards duplicity, betrayal, overwhelm, erosion of trust, and other negative Mercury- and Neptune-influenced tactics. Acting to ensure that tactics such as these backfire on those using them is one general approach. Tapping into the more positive possibilities is also key—some ideas on that ahead.

It’s going to be some time before fixed energies play more of a role (Jupiter enters Scorpio in 3/2017; Uranus enters Taurus in 2019, and Jupiter and Saturn begin their new cycle in Aquarius in 2020), so we can expect more destabilization and the erosion of boundaries before then. In fact, a certain level of instability and erosion is helping to accomplish the clearing out phase of the current Jupiter-Saturn cycle (see the October 17th post here), and Neptune is happy to oblige.

Even so, the feeling of being out of control is difficult during mutable times, and unfortunate things often happen as a result. A sort of soft focus is required to apprehend the cosmic “sleight of hand” of mutable periods, but adopting this approach can help us maintain at least some control. This diffuse type of focus can help us respond to people who say one thing and do another, who shout from the mountain top that up is down and black is white, who tell you to look here, when the action is really over there, and so on. 

With practice and awareness, we can sharpen our intuitive skills during times like these, especially if we avoid over-rationalizing. Surrendering to our lack of control may actually be the wise thing to do, at times.

In today’s mutable-cardinal cosmic “weather,” security is not just being able to ride the waves, but to make something wonderful out of the experience.

Hacking the Sibly chart

We’ve considered the hacking event chart on its own; now, let’s consider the U.S. context in which this attack transpired.

Biwheel #1: (inner wheel) U.S. Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT., Philadelphia, PA; (outer wheel) DDoS Attack-Dyn, October 21, 2016, 7:00 a.m. DST, Manchester, NH. Tropical Equal houses and True Node.

Interchart Grand Square: Attack Mercury-ASC-Sun (Libra) oppose Attack Uranus (Aries)-Sibly Chiron; this axis squares Sibly Mercury (Cancer) opposite Sibly Pluto (Capricorn). Clearly, the DDoS attack was launched quite intentionally to wound (Sibly Chiron) key sectors of the U.S. economy (Sibly Mercury-Pluto across 8th-2nd axis). The Sibly 11th “launching pad” for the attack targeted the U.S. national “ego” and sense of self (opposite 5th) and suggests that the perpetrators are possibly well-known associates.

Our confidence in the Internet as a national creation (5th house-our military invented it) and a resource we take for granted in American life came under fire here. Our corporations—especially commerce- and media-related ones—were targeted as well. If we assume that a bigger “cosmic” message underlies the perpetrators actions (whether they consciously sent it or not), one takeaway might be that—as a matter of national “ego”—we identify too closely (5th house) with the power of business and media (Sibly Mercury-Pluto squares the 5th-11th house opposition). Perhaps even with the “cult of personality” we’ve been mired in during this election season. 

There’s no doubt our national reputation (Sibly 5th) has taken a hit with observers abroad over this election—was this attack perhaps a “wake-up call?”

Interchart T-Square: Attack Mars-Pluto (Capricorn) opposes Sibly Sun-Attack Moon (Cancer); this axis squares Sibly Saturn (Libra). If this attack employed different weaponry, things could have been much worse; the perpetrators clearly aimed to do the nation, the President (Sibly Sun) and Congress (Sibly Saturn) harm. Mars-Pluto not only aspects Sibly Sun and Saturn here, but it also squares Attack Uranus-Eris in Aries and Sibly Chiron (also Aries).  

Without knowing the actual source of the attack, it’s hard to say more, but we can wonder whether the full extent of this attack has been acknowledged.

Interchart Grand Square: Attack Saturn (Sagittarius) opposes Sibly Uranus (Gemini) across Sibly ASC-DSC; this axis squares Attack Neptune (Pisces)-Nodal Axis (Virgo-Pisce). The destabilizing of systems (Sibly Uranus disposes Sibly Moon in Aquarius) upon which the American people depend appears to have been the goal of this attack—Attack Neptune reflects the “overwhelm” that the targeted websites experienced during the repeated waves of “distributed denial of service.” 

The Nodal axis here suggests that the time was ripe for such an event, and that there’s a bit of karmic “payback” involved.

Attack Chiron (Pisces) also fell opposite Sibly Neptune (Virgo), suggesting that it’s time to heal our national illusions that we are somehow untouchable when it comes to global instability. This Chiron, semi-sextile Attack Uranus—which is itself quincunx Sibly Neptune—tells a different, more vulnerable story. No need for panic, but this “shot across the bow” may be telling us it’s time to reconsider our “American Dream.”

Attack Venus quincunxes Sibly Venus-Jupiter (Cancer); Attack Saturn (Sagittarius) quincunxes Sibly Sun (Cancer) and sextiles Sibly Saturn (Libra). The nation appears to be due for an economic adjustment with the Venus activity here, but perhaps more importantly, it appears that Saturn is prodding us to make some important changes. We have to admit the problems before we can solve them, of course, and that’s easier said than done.

As Saturn transits further into our national 1st house (national identity and character), it will square Sibly Neptune (Virgo-first exact in January, 2017), injecting further instability and triggering a new round of national soul-searching. Social unrest is a distinct possibility during this period because it coincides with the final 3 years of Saturn-Pluto’s waning cycle (they will kick off their new cycle at 22°+Capricorn in January, 2020). Hopefully we’ll make substantial progress on some key issues by that time and will start the new cycle with a fresh perspective. A bigger story for another day.

An October surprise?

American presidential elections have a history of producing “October surprises,” so it’s tempting to draw a connection between the election (there are not enough expletives to describe it) and what happened on October 21st to the Internet. Few would disagree that Election 2016 has revealed some very uncomfortable realities we need to deal with as a nation, but what do those have to do with an attack on mostly commercial and media websites? IMHO, we ignore the strategic importance of such power centers at our peril.

I don’t think we want to overstate the threat—supposedly, it took only hours to ward off whatever the hackers were trying to accomplish—but that doesn’t make it any less meaningful. In fact, it resonates in a couple key ways with the horrendous World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on 9/11/2001. Those life-changing attacks were both symbolic and physical, targeting American commercial, financial, and military power where it was geographically headquartered.

The October 21st attacks also appeared to target symbolic power centers—American media and commerce. It doesn't appear that military centers were compromised, but we may never hear about such incursions if they did happen. Selected finance-related sites were affected (Paypal and Visa, for instance), so disrupting American consumerism was clearly a goal.  

Thankfully, no blood was shed, but we may not want to take anything for granted going forward. Our intelligence services have certainly been compromised left and right by Wikileaks, and Russia seems to be involved in the Wikileaks effort, so it's all more than a little strange. The fact that we're trying to get through a presidential election in the midst of all this just adds another layer of lunacy.

Knock the muck off our boots

Without going into the details, suffice to say here that the 9/11 event was largely a Saturn-Pluto phenomenon, with these two opposed across the Sibly horizon (see this post for the chart and more). Given this history, it’s a bit sobering to realize that the October 21st Attack Saturn is conjoined Sibly ASC, a mere 7 degrees from exactly opposing Sibly Mars (Gemini), and only 3+ years from beginning its new cycle with Pluto. 

I won’t hazard a guess about what may actually happen in the next 3 years, but it looks to be a volatile period, and we may look back at this pre-Election 2016 “October surprise” period as a turning point.

By its choice of targets, the October 21st  attack focused on corporate and media players--the purveyors of mindless consumption and media nonsense. Both of these produce real harm in the world, and yes, there are much more important things happening in the world than the latest cell phone design or the latest media spin. 

Even so, do these twin poles of stuff and nonsense define our entire American reality? I would like to believe we have more and better things to offer the world in these unstable times. The dueling worldviews Election 2016 has revealed in the nation certainly speak to this dilemma: when attacked, we can fall back into a “we’re being victimized,” passive-aggressive stance (mutable energies), or we can knock that muck off our boots, seize upon the cardinal energies at our disposal these days (Mars, Pluto, Jupiter and Uranus, specifically) and do something constructive.

Cool heads and steady hands are called for, and sometimes the most constructive thing we can do is actually a negative:  as Douglas Adams of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy said, “Don’t panic!”

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: 

© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved.