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What is the Birth Chart of the United States?

What is the Birth Chart of the United States?

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:

NinaGryphon.com

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.
  • 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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8 comments
  • Good job on the specificities of the charts discussed, and we can safely say there is no one chart for an empire.
    The great Robert Zoller is of the opinion that none of these charts are relevant, for the United States does not exist until 1789, when a president and a congress are elected. So, as traditional astrogers, what do we look at?
    Bob suggests look to the transmutation conjunction, which occurs in 1782, the mutation from fire to air. Look to the vernal equinox, and we see the conjunction (in Taurus) in the ninth house. Intelligent astrologers can draw their own conclusions but this makes eminent sense to me. See it either as a worship of materialism, or a liberal attitude to religion, a basic principle of the founders that we are not a religious entity.
    And isn’t it interesting that nations and dynasties rise and fall, but cities endure?

  • The first time the ‘United States’ was recognized internationally by a foreign Sovereign Nation, such recognition requisite to be considered a ‘Sovereign’ in the international public law, was via the Treaty of Amnity & Commerce entered into with France on February 6, 1778. https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fr1788-1.asp

    This is the first international notice and recognition of a ‘United States’ as a separate collective legal entity, consisting of the several States, recognized within the confines of the public international law.

    There is also reference in the first State Constitution of Delaware of the first proclomation of Sovereignty by any domestic State, in which the State agreed to form its own Sovereign governments. This was not made public at the time it was held, but the date can be found within the State constitution itself.

    “This constitution was framed by a Convention which assembled at New Castle, August 27, 1776, in accordance with the recommendation of the Continental Congress that the people of the Colonies should form independent State Governments. It was not submitted to the people BUT WAS PROCLAIMED September 21, 1776.”
    https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/de02.asp#1

    By the Law of Nations, or international Law, nations are not considered Sovereign until recognized as such by the body of other nations; at least by 1.

    Using this rule, we can determine that the colonies ‘recommended’ forming Soverign Nations, but did not act upon that recommendation until September 21, 1776, this was the beginning of the ‘domestic’ recognition of the first State, previously agreed to be reconized by the other States.

    However, it was not until February 6, 1778, in the Treaty of Amnity and Commerce, that a ‘United States’ was recognized in international law, such recognition requisite for the ‘United States’ to be recognized in the body of public law, also known as the Law of Nations.

    These dates should have a profound impact for any delineation. Each should be say something different, and only be read within that specific context.

    The story of the ‘United’ States’ gets more interesting as the that bodies constitutional convention was held in secret in 1787, obviating the old articles of confederation formed in 1781. Those articles, however, were formed AFTER the recognition in the treaty of Commerce, so we shouldn’t find them necessary to observe. Yet, it must be noted, that many States did not enter into said treaty called the 1787 ‘Constitution for the united States’ until many years later, so this date is needless.

    Therefore, although the 1787 convention was the technical formation of the Federal Corporation known as ‘The United States’, birthed in Washington DC, it was the treaty of Commerce that proves that the collective States were first recognized by International Law on February 6, 1778.

    The Delaware constitution of course proves the first action to initiate Statehood was held on August 27, 1776. Action, not just an idea, being key.

    These, by law, would be the most important dates for the official recognition of a Sovereign Nation.

  • While Jefferson is considered a primary source, historians pay little attention to his account because it was written a couple decades after the fact and often isn’t in agreement with Adams’ account which was written down more contemporaneously. Secondary sources in the historiography focus primarily on Adams with a scant nod to Jefferson.

    Adams is clear that they introduced the Declaration at 10:00 am and reviewed Jefferson’s edits for approximately an hour when a motion was made to approve it sometime around or shortly after 11:00 am. I’m fairly convinced it was approved with Libra Rising. As far as I could find in any sources, the agreement to print and publish the Declaration occurred in the afternoon. I assume that agreement has Scorpio Rising. Jefferson’s account has a vote for the Declaration in the afternoon, but without any reference to time. However, it is more likely, based on Adams’ account, that what Jefferson was remembering was the agreement to print and publish. According to Adams, the fair copy of the Declaration was presented to the Congress after 7pm in the evening. That would confirm a 2:00pm-03:00pm time for the agreement to publish and the task given to the printer, if it took more than 5 hours to create the fair copy.

    • Yet, when question on his memory, Jefferson stated in a letter sent to James Madison, on Aug. 30th 1823, that his account of events on July 4th were accurate, and were he wrote ‘supported by written notes taken by myself at the moment and on the spot’ (Jefferson’s letters, Wilson Whitman, p.365.

  • I am a supporter of the Sibly horoscope which I felt was not given sufficient historic credence in the podcast. With this in mind, I am going to cite the research by Michael Baigent, ‘Ebenezer Sibly and the Declaration of Independence, 1776: An Investigation’ published in the Journal of the Astrological Association of Great Britain, Winter 1983/1984. A citation from the diary of Thomas Jefferson, “The debates having taken up the greater parts of de 2d 3d and 4th days of July, were, in the evening of the last, closed, the declaration was reported by the commee, agreed to by the house and signed by every member present except Mr. Dickinson’. Source for this is Paul Leicester Ford, ‘The Writings of Thomas Jefferson’ Volume 1, page 28. Baigent goes on to say that the ‘Journal of the Continental Congress ..suggests a time well into the afternoon’ (ref: Journals of the Continental Congress, Worthingon Chauncey Ford, Vol V p.509). To support the Sibly horoscope, Baigent also cites a letter dated July 5th 1776, sent by signatory Elbridge Gerry to General Warren, dated 5th July 1776, notes ‘after a day’s debate’ all colonies except NY …’ Source for this is the Journals of the Continental Congress. Baigent goes on to look at the research carried out by Manly P. Hall on the unpublished papers of Jefferson, Adams and Hancock. Hall wrote that the writings of all three ‘supported a time of “late in the day” which he places between 4.30 and 6.00 pm’. Hall also looked at the official bulletin of the Philadelphia Historical Association which states that the Declaration was first signed between 4.30 and 6.00 pm. Baigent does however note the difficulty in checking Hall’s sources. Some work there perhaps for the right American mundane astrologer. Hall also mentions illustrations of the signing, none of which make any suggestion of artificial lighting. By the way, Sibly was a free-mason.

    • Something I do acknowledge that I was confused about were some of the issues surrounding the location set for the Sibly chart and the irregularities surrounding it’s original publication, which we talked about a lot early on. In retrospect I do wish we had emphasized more later in the episode once we got to it that the Sag rising chart did seem like it was one that fell more in the range of plausible times on July 4, whether you call it the Sibly chart or not. Those two things of the historical issues with Sibly’s publication versus the practical issue of whether the Sag rising chart might be plausible from a practical standpoint got kind of confused a bit, and that’s partially my fault due to my lack of preparation. Thanks for bringing this up though, I appreciate it.

  • Adding additional weight to Jefferson’s diary, is the fact in a letter to James Madison, sent on Aug. 30th 1823, he insisted that his account of events on July 4th were accurate, and were he wrote ‘supported by written notes taken by myself at the moment and on the spot’ (Jefferson’s letters, Wilson Whitman, p.365.

  • I think that astrologers’ far-reaching ignorance regarding what is common knowledge among revolutionary-era historians is appalling. The Declaration was “Part two,” following the original independence resolution of May 1776, calling for the “total suppression” of royal authority and authorizing the thirteen colonies/states to WRITE THEIR CONSTITUTIONS. Here is a peer-reviewed article:
    https://startingpointsjournal.com/the-may-resolution-and-the-declaration-of-independence/