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Hunter S. Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the inventor of "gonzo" journalism, killed himself on February 20, 2005.

According to news reports, Thompson shot himself while on the phone with his wife. A glass of Chivas Regal was found on the counter next to the phone. He was 67 and in declining health and had talked "repeatedly" about killing himself in recent weeks, his wife told The Denver Post.

The time of death (5:30 pm MST, Woody Creek, Colorado) puts the transiting Cancer Moon right on top of Thompson's natal Sun-Pluto conjunction. Robert Hand, in Planets in Transit, has this to say about transiting Moon conjunct Pluto:

"This transit can bring about very intense emotional experiences, because it tends to bring energies to the surface from the deepest part of your psyche...This transit can include strong feelings that completely overwhelm you for a time and take away your sense of perspective...A closely related effect of this transit is its power to produce an obsession, an idea you cannot get out of your mind that seems to be running you.Ē

In an interview with the Aspen Daily News, Thompson's son Juan said the suicide was not unexpected, reflecting his father's lifelong will to control his own experience on his own terms.

Road Man for the Lords of Karma

"One thing that he said many times was that, 'Iím a road man for the lords of Karma,í" Juan Thompson said. "Itís a cryptic saying. But thereís an implication there that he may have decided that his work was done and that he didnít want to over stay his welcome; it was time to go."

Hunter Thompson was born July 18, 1937 in Louisville, KY (time unknown). He rose to fame in the 1970s with the publication of his third book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Subtitled "A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream," the book established Thompson's persona as a gun-toting, whisky-swilling, LSD-gobbling madman and turned him into a counterculture hero.

Thompson's Sun in Cancer speaks of a sensitive man with deep feelings, seemingly the polar opposite of the wild druggie reporter he presented in books, essays, public appearances, and regular political reports for Rolling Stone magazine.

But Cancers who don't learn to nurture themselves emotionally often compensate by building a thick shell. In Hunter Thompson's case, the shell was a legendary appetite for, and tolerance of, drugs of all descriptions. He was also a heavy drinker who spent increasingly long periods in isolation in his "fortified compound" in the Colorado mountains.

Born to a stern, older father who died when he was 18, Hunter Thompson came of age in a society marked by the hitherto unimaginable destruction of World War II and the mechanized, spend-and-forget mentality of the 1950s. Thompson once said: "I always felt like I was born in defeat. And I may have written everything I've written just to win back a victory. My life may be pure revenge."

Sun Conjunct Pluto: Death of the American Dream

His outlet for his sensitivity was his work, which stands as one man's eloquent, rambling witness to the Death of the American Dream. With his Sun (identity or essence) conjunct Pluto (death and regeneration, obsession and power) in sensitive Cancer, it's no surprise that Hunter Thompson's life was almost totally absorbed by issues of death and power. He had an empathic understanding of the motives of those in power, and a driving need to regenerate the less than ideal reality he found all around him. This configuration is reinforced by a trine to Mars in Scorpio, enabling Thompson to turn his intense personal anger into the fuel he needed to sustain a relentless, lifelong campaign against the politics of greed.

Another trine, between theatrical Mercury in Leo and Saturn in inventive Aries, shows up in Thompson's ability to create (of necessity) a whole new genre of political reporting, one he termed "gonzo" journalism. Thompson threw the rules of so-called journalistic objectivity out the window and gave us in its place a fantastic three-ring circus of sideshow freaks, with himself at the center as the demented ringmaster.

In so doing, he rewrote the book on political journalism in the second half of the twentieth century. By telling the truth about power in a way that made you laugh and made you marvel and made you question your very reality, Hunter Thompson empowered a generation of freaks. He proved that you could be marginalized and still make a difference, if you cared to badly enough. Because for all his personal and literary excesses, Thompson was a truth teller with a desperate need to penetrate to the core. He was indeed a hunter, obsessively stalking dark men doing dark deeds in dark spiritual places. Thompson lived his life as a daring explorer of Pluto's dark realms, and the truths he brought back from his underworld journeys came wrapped in such rage and exuberance and righteous indignation that his prose seems to leap electric from the page.

Transiting Chiron in Capricorn

Hunter Thompson killed himself with the centaur Chiron in the last few arc minutes of Capricorn, opposing his natal Pluto. In many ways, Thompson's lifelong crusade against political and corporate abuses of power embodies the energy of Chiron in Capricorn. Chiron (the wounded healer) in Capricorn (big money, big power, politics) tries to bring the spark of spirit back into our collective power structures by raising our awareness of where they are broken. Since entering Capricorn on the heels of September 11, 2001, Chiron has brought to light such abuses of power as Enron, Vioxx, the weapons of mass destruction scam, the Catholic Church sex scandals, and the U.S. military's torture of prisoners.

Thirty-three years after Hunter Thompson wrote the modern political classic Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972, American finds itself once again mired in a bloody foreign war of "liberation". Meanwhile, here at home the government is expanding its powers of surveillance and control in ways that Thompson's archenemy Richard Nixon could only dream about.

Hunter Thompson is gone now. Like Chiron in Capricorn, he did his best to warn us. It's up to us now to act on what we know.


D.K. Brainard is a writer, musician and astrologer based in New Orleans. Find out more about his work at his website.

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