In episode 252 astrologer Nina Gryphon joins the show to talk about question of what is the correct birth chart for the United States, and to review some of the different possible charts that are available.
While this sounds like a simple question, there are actually a number of different birth dates and birth times that are possible candidates for the founding of the United States as country, and each of these options yield slightly or sometimes extremely different planetary placements.
The purpose of this episode was to provide a broad overview of the the issue, and to review some of the different charts that have been used or proposed by astrologers at different points in time.
Most of the research for this episode was compiled by Nina, and we also wanted to give a special shout-out to astrologer Gary Lorentzen for his contributions and advice (update 4/29/2020: see his article The Astrology of American Independence), as well as the AstroDatabank entry on the chart of the US, and Nicholas Campion’s Book of World Horoscopes.
For more information about Nina, check out her website:
Below you will find some of the show notes that we prepared as the outline for this discussion, followed by links to listen to the episode at the bottom of the page.
This episode is available in both audio and video versions below.
Show Notes and Episode Outline
- Introduction of the topic.
- National horoscopes
- New concept compared to traditional approach of assignment of signs to nations, regions, and cities.
- Prior approach focused on single signs assigned to cities, regions, countries.
- As first set down in book 2 of Ptolemy in the 2nd century.
- Also, lunation and cardinal ingress charts for particular locations such as the capital.
- Became common in the early Medieval tradition.
- Really problematic when nation-states and hard national boundaries were established in 19th century.
- Ingress chart for capitals not too far apart, say, Paris and London, or Bonn and Brussels might be almost identical.
- Earlier reliance on sign assignments circumvented this problem.
- Also sometimes foundation charts for cities. E.g. Baghdad.
- Bagdhdad elected by a group of astrologers.
- For most cities though the foundations were deep in the past.
- Astrologers would sometimes resort to rectification to try to figure out the chart.
- Rectified charts like Constantinople or Rome.
- Maybe this acts as a transition point. Elections and inceptions.
- The 20th century saw a real shift in emphasis towards natal astrology.
- Emphasis in predictive techniques such as transits and progressions.
- These techniques all require a timed natal chart to use.
- In many cases, the original national charts are impossible to obtain.
- There is often a question about when is a nation officially born?
- Astrologers often work with a significant chart from that nation’s history.
- Recognizing that it’s one in a chain of charts representing key moments in the long lifespan of a nation.
- Ideally, such charts have been shown to be useful for predictive purposes.
- Often these charts relate to a transfer of power or bestowing legitimacy on a person or group as leaders. In the life of a nation, many such moments may exist.
- Emphasis in predictive techniques such as transits and progressions.
- United States’ chart of particular interest to astrologers worldwide.
- Well-documented history around the founding of the US, and founded in the modern era rather than antiquity, so a timed chart is at least theoretically obtainable.
- There is something decisive about the founding of the US, with a clear demarcation of when it broke away from England.
- The earliest national chart. Ebenezer Sibly published in 1787. May have kicked off increasing interest in national charts and a certain desire to demonstrate a preferred chart to be true and all others false.
- So what is the birth chart of the United States?
- Answer is not as simple as it may seem.
- Most astrologers tend to focus on July 4, 1776, which is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States, to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
- But there are a number of other crucial moments around the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence that could also be used as moments of origin.
- Some astrologers even go back further to important events in the settling of America.
- There are also a number of different possible times even if you go with the July 4, 1776 date, which lead to different rising signs, and thus slightly or significantly different charts in terms of the house placements of the planets.
- We are going to go through each chart individually to give people an idea of the full scope of different possible charts that have been proposed.
- General point upfront: the two most popular charts historically have been the Gemini and Sagittarius rising charts, or variations thereof, although both are also somewhat historically impossible to varying degrees for different reasons.
- Major events that could be used as national charts for US
- Marc Penfield published the chart of the first permanent settlement in America (September 18, 1565, in St. Augustine, Florida). He sourced it to the American Federation of Astrologers. It has Uranus in Sagittarius on the Ascendant, which is 9 Sagittarius. Jupiter conjoins Virgo on the Midheaven, and the Moon is in Pisces.
- Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. December 21, 1620, 6 AM in Plymouth, MA. Sagittarius rising, Moon in Sagittarius, and the Sun at 0 Capricorn. (Campion)
- Boston Tea Party, December 16 1773, with unverified time of 5:45 PM in astrological sources (Campion)
- First Congress, September 5, 1774, Philadelphia at 10 AM. Scorpio rising, with Moon and Sun conjunct in Virgo. (Campion)
- Start of the Revolutionary War, early April 19, 1775, with British and American troops facing off in the Battle of Lexington. Battle started around 5 AM, with Aries on the Ascendant and Sun there as well, with Moon in Sagittarius. (Campion)
- Declaration of War by Congress July 6 1775. Heavily advocated by the astrologer Helen Boyd, who used a 11 AM chart. (Campion)
- Alan White was really into this chart as well. He said that in Zodiacal Releasing it showed an L1 loosing of the bond on 9/11, which doesn’t happen in natal charts, but it can in the longer life of a country.
- GL (Gary Lorentzen): July 1, 1776, 07:08pm: the 1st majority YES vote for independence (9 yes, 2 no, 2 abstentions).
- Congress voted for independence on July 2 1776, but time is uncertain. John Adams wrote of July 2 that “this day will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I believe that it will be celebrated as the great anniversary.” Ray Merriman favors this chart, with 7 Libra rising and Saturn exalted in the first house.
- GL: July 2, 1776, between 11am-noon. A second vote was taken to accommodate Delaware who had to abstain on the first vote because they were missing a delegate. 2nd vote: 12 yes, 1 abstention. (Mercury was Rx, so they ended up taking a second vote, but it didn’t change the outcome of the first.) John Adams does give an 11th hour of the morning for the 2nd vote on July 2.
- July 4 1774, the day that the wording of the Declaration of Independence was agreed.
- One of the more popular charts historically has been the Gemini rising chart set for around 2:15 a.m. Luke Broughton, the best-known U.S. astrologer of the time, in 1861 said that Gemini rules the U.S. and the ingress of Uranus (or Herschel) into Gemini, the Revolution began. When Uranus came to 9 degrees of Gemini, the U.S. declared its independence. Seems to have assumed that the degree of Uranus on July 4, 1776 was the rising degree.
- GL: Although Jefferson’s Declaration was brought to the floor at 10 am on July 4th, according to John Adams they didn’t start the vote to approve the language in the Declaration as edited until the ’11th hour of the morning’. They went through the document and motion was made sometime between 11am and Noon.
- Some astrologers dispute Jefferson’s account of the debate on July 4, which precludes a time before noon. These charts are set for 10-11 a.m., giving a Virgo Ascendant. Discussed at length in Ronald W. Howland’s American Histrology.
- Marc Penfield highlights a chart with a 2:20 p.m. time based on John Hancock’s recollections of the Declaration coming out of committee. 8 Scorpio rising.
- Historical documents, including Thomas Jefferson’s writings, seem to support a late afternoon time for ratification of the Declaration of Independence, but the historic sources do not pin down a time for this moment.
- Sibly chart.
- Published by Ebenezer Sibly, a Freemason in England, in 1787. Chart was set for 10:10 p.m. London time, but set for Philadelphia. Also the chart is calculated for 9:50 p.m., but planetary positions are set for 4:50 p.m. Planets are set for local mean time, and house cusps are set for Greenwich mean time, which differ by one hour. Generally criticized as hopelessly confused.
- Susan Manuel hypothesizes that Sibly worked from the Aries Ingress and Cancer Ingresses preceding the Declaration of Independence, using the Cancer ingress angles, transiting positions as of July 4, as of noon in Philadelphia, but set for London, as the U.S. did not yet have a capital.
- Best viewed as a symbolically derived horoscope, rather than one for a historical moment.
- Proclamation of Independence July 8 1776, noon in Philadelphia. This chart has Libra rising, with Saturn exalted on the Ascendant, and the Moon in Aries.
- GL: July 8, 1776, ‘high noon’ (when the Sun was 90 deg to the horizon) the official public reading of the Declaration, and then big celebrations that followed. For the beginning of the celebrations, I use 12:28pm LMT.
- What sign placements are certain regardless of the time with July 4?
- Venus, Jupiter, Sun, Mercury in Cancer.
- Mars and Uranus in Gemini.
- Saturn in Libra
- Neptune in Virgo
- Pluto at 27 Capricorn (note that slow outer planet placements are going to be the same across the charts for a number of days, so more stable in some ways)
- Moon in Aquarius until about 9:50 PM on July 4.
- Other important sources discussing the national chart for the US
- Europas Zukunft (The Future of Europe) by A.M. Grimm (1925, Germany). Uses timed national charts, including the US, to make detailed predictions for European countries and the US for the following 50 years. US chart is set for July 4, 1776, noon, with no source. For more about the US chart, see Nina Gryphon’s article and partial translation of this book in the December 2017 issue of The Mountain Astrologer.
- Introduction to Political Astrology by Charles E.O. Carter (1951, UK). According to Campion, first astrology book to discuss national horoscopes – perhaps the first one in English, anyway.
- The Book of World Horoscopes by Nicolas Campion (1988, UK).
- Modern rectifications
- One modern approach – Dane Rudhyar in “The Riddle of the USA Horoscope” published in Zodiac Magazine in 1971. Advocates July 4, 1775, 5:13:55 EST (13 Sagittarius rising). He says the most significant feature was “the arc between the Midheaven and Saturn (14ş49) corresponds to the period of 12 years and several months separating the Declaration from the time the Constitution went in force March 4, 1789.” Cautions that chart should not be used for predictions, as its main focus is to describe the consciousness of the American people. Predicted 1972/73 as a change or culmination in the US state of consciousness based on Pluto’s conjunction to the US chart MC; previously indicated wars when transiting angles of the Rudhyar chart.
- Pseudonymous Dr. H/Regulus Astrology used the medieval technique of directing through the bounds and based on key events in U.S. history, he rectified or modified the Sibly chart to arrive at a chronology of the United States that he feels matches the symbolism of the bounds. He wrote about it in a book called America Is Born. I interviewed him and reviewed his book on my blog, gryphonastrology.com. He arrives at a 26 Sagittarius Ascendant.
- Ultimately we will never know for sure, because it is something that is unknowable or unverifiable, at least with 100% certainty.
- Each astrologer tends to develop their pet theory, or follow one that seems most sensible to them.
- It is probably best to approach this area with a sense of caution because it is uncertain.
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A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 252 transcript
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