Bellingcat – a digital obsession turned to good use

A cripplingly shy teenager and school dropout is changing the world of war reporting and espionage using open source videos, maps and pictures and social media for investigations. Eliot Ward Higgins a British citizen journalist and former blogger, founder of Bellingcat, caught media attention when he investigated the chemical weapons used in Syria, then focused on the  2014–15 Russian military intervention in Ukraine, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by Russian separatists, the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and unmasked Alexei Navalny’s would-be killers. From a sofa in Leicestershire he has revealed some of the world’s dirtiest secrets, notably in Russia.

Bellingcat is named after an Aesop’s fable in which mice put a bell on a cat’s neck as a warning system.

Now he is focused on Ukraine, debunking conspiracist claims that the civilian massacres in Bucha were staged or committed by Ukrainian forces, backed up with video evidence. He says he is “frustrated”, because Russian spokesmen “are still treated as serious people. We know they lie in the most absurd and grotesque ways and we shouldn’t give them a platform to lie without challenging them.”

  Bellingcat set up on 15 July 2014, has only a dozen or so full-time staff, and despite criticism that it is an arm of the CIA, or MI6, in reality is funded by grants from the EU to the giant UK trust of billionaire Sigrid Rausing as well as individual donations. The aim is to collect and validate source material of high enough quality for war crimes tribunals and to train other organisations to collect evidence in the same way.

 Higgins was born 8 January 1979 (Companies House) in Shrewsbury, England and has a high-octane, ultra-determined and courageous chart with a Sun Mars in Capricorn square Pluto and probably in an Earth Grand Trine to Saturn in Virgo trine a Taurus Moon; formed into a Kite by Moon opposition Uranus. A driving planet Uranus would make sense of his technological and innovative talents which all the practical (and engineering) ability of the earth planets is focused towards. He’s also got a hope-for-a-better-society Saturn square Neptune.

  His Mercury in last degree Sagittarius is unaspected, giving him a single-tracked mind and what Bil Tierney describes as “ an extraordinary mental facility in a singular area of life.”

  Bellingcat, 15 July 2014, now headquartered in the Netherlands, has a highly Cardinal chart giving it turbo-charged initiative and resourcefulness with a Sun Jupiter in Cancer square Mars North Node in justice-oriented Libra and opposition Uranus with Pluto square in Capricorn. Certainly well-designed to dive into crisis and high-risk situations.

  Higgins is on a confident roll this year and next but it is not a lifestyle without danger and there will be one or two disasters lying in his path as well.   

9 thoughts on “Bellingcat – a digital obsession turned to good use

  1. It must be either my Virgo Mercury Rising, or maybe Venus/Uranus in Scorpio 2nd/3rd house ( depends on house system), but I love open source investigations. Bellingcat got famous after Skripal case, but there are now other players there doing awesome work with Ukraine, for instance verifying equipment losses by Russia.

  2. It is interesting the his Mercury is in Sagittarius and the 9th house is Higher Education, if that is his birth time. Not only the Teacher of a New kind of higher communication (ie computer generated ) but also a philosopher. Jupiter is square Chiron. His heart is set on helping and I get the feeling he is attempting to heal the Earth in some way. His Part of Fortune and North Node midpoint is not exactly on Saturn, yet close enough to have a destiny in using his mind to teach people responsibility and bring communication to the masses. He is a leader with a destiny. His Moon/Mars midpoint is near is South Node is Pisces. The North/South Node axis is in Pisces/Virgo. A bit esoteric to write he his an old soul come back to Earth to help.

    • Thanks Marjorie, I find this person fascinating. He also has a tough, down to earth Sun/Mars in Capricorn though and it squares Pluto in Libra. Like many Cardinal sign people, particularly those with Libra/Capricorn he’s at the forefront of movement to bring progress and Justice. Mars/Pluto can be involvement with criminality or criminal investigation. It’s the aspect between these two which draw one towards the ‘Underworld’ and the action required to interact with it. It’s an aspect you see in the charts of killers, surgeons, police as well as victims and it can be obsessive. So I’d say this chart is not all sweetness as light, but has a good dose of that Mars/Pluto grit which gives him the determination to bring these dark deeds to the light.

      • I use to do charts for friends only. I once did two charts within weeks of each other and they were virtually Astro twins, both two hours apart. Both with Mars/Pluto conjunction. One was a retired policeman and the other, who was a friend of a friend, was into drugs and maybe selling ( I didn’t ask).

    • @Susan, the beautiful thing is, really, how slow so called “state actors” are in front of crowd investigations like this. Take, for instance, China. They have no doubt the largest, most technically advanced state surveilance operation of their own citizens. Yet, images of food riots that broke out in Shanghai somehow made it to Western Social Media exposing a crack that few knew was there.

      Also, young Gen Z people in particular are incredibly savvy in spotting “fakes”. For instance, there was that I suppose very young – either late teen or early 20’s ,- girl who debunked Russia’s claim of a Bucha victim being crisis actor because their hand moves by color reversing footage and proofing it was a raintrop on windshield.

      Also, unfortunately, I feel we will have atrocities too large to hide or even spin. Some get less attention, but OSINT reporters are there, too.

  3. Marjorie, I have never heard of this fellow and am shocked about the whole story…..unaspected Mercury is so rare, but in the 29th (highest degree) – of any sign – is special. He’s a steamroller (earth/fire)…..I played around with a More Likely (he he) ascendant than a midday birth might indicate……I plumped for 8.00 a.m. finally, Merc (the vocational indicator) still at 29 Sag – which gives a Cap ascendant…he apparently did zilch as a kid and his talent was hidden – 12th house Merc seems strong possibility but not necessarily correct. This time gives a Merc biquintile to Jupiter, which is a midlife planet. He’s strongly earthy, but with equal fire planets. Thus (I think Sakoian & Acker discovered) indicates a steamroller, silent, directed, grounded….He has only the generational Pluto in Air – and ditto Uranus in Water, the only planet there. I find the interpretation of that singular, unseen Mercury brilliant! esp as it seems to fit in the 12th house….its in Sag, so does not really hit its stride until middle age.
    My instinct on reading the story is that he was born as brilliantly spatial – not verbal, but someone who can link patterns, pictures, visuals – without being able to understand why, and even more importantly, the inability to explain verbally.

    No doubt he was labeled dyslexic and all kinds of other condemning words…..I think his initials are appropriate…. EH? That was probably the question he asked himself most often – as in Eh? is this right, what can it be, is this true? as he sought images of weapons……in this chart his Uranus would be on/around the MC letting his odd vision of his passion come to light.

    His transiting node is at 22 Taurus conjunct his natal Moon currently, with Uranus following close behind……! of course he did well to use the Netherlands as his base, that’s a cardinal country as well. Hurrah for all the kids like this who only need the space and time to teach the rest of us we know….very little!

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