The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 11, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Nick Dagan Best
Episode originally released on September 16th, 2013
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at email@example.com.
Transcribed by Christa Wilson
Transcription released February 19th, 2020
Copyright © 2013 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, I’m Chris Brennan and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Monday, September 16th, 2013 and this is the 11th episode of the show. You can find the show at theastrologypodcast.com and you can also listen to us on iTunes.
My guest today is Montreal based astrologer Nick Dagan Best, who recently published a book titled, Uranus USA: Astrology Looks at the First Planet and Nation of the New World. During the course of this show I will talk to Nick about some of the research that went into his book, as well as some of the insights that he came to about the relationship between the planet Uranus and the United States.
So Nick, with that out of the way, welcome to the show.
NICK DAGAN BEST: Thanks Chris, thanks for having me.
CB: I think I had you once last summer for one of our early shows to talk about the definition of astrologer. I thought it would be good to have you back now that your book is out, and I know that you’ve been working on it for several years now, right?
NDB: Yeah. It was part of a larger work that I wanted to do about Uranus. It still is. I have other little books that I’ll write about Uranus that I’ll write down the road after I write about some other things. But it was a natural first book to focus on Uranus.
CB: Sure. And what is exactly the scope of the book?
NDB: Well, the reason I thought it was a good first book to start with is because it starts with the discovery of Uranus, really. Which happens to coincide with the same period in history as the American Revolution. One thing I–
CB: Uranus was discovered what year again?
NDB: 1781. The 13th of March 1781.
NDB: Which is the same year that the Battle of Yorktown occurs, which is the last official battle between the British Army and the American and French troops in the American Revolution.
CDB: So in other words, the thing that strikes me just off the bat is that the discovery of Uranus is completely coincidental, in the literal sense of the word, with the emerging United States of America, with this new nation. In fact the first Constitution of the United States of America, The Articles of Confederation was ratified on the first of March 1781, just 12 days before Uranus would be discovered. So that in itself is sort of an interesting little connection between the two.
But there’s something actually a lot more profound about the whole thing, because it doesn’t just begin and end with the Revolution. Something I noticed long ago, and I’m certainly not the first astrologer to notice this fact, although I guess I’m the first to write about it in this way, is that whenever transiting Uranus has been in Gemini, the United States has found itself in a very big war. At the end of which, I mean obviously the United States gets into a lot of wars, but the thing about this period, whenever Uranus is in Gemini, is it’s a war that tends to be redefine the United States of America by the time it’s over.
These three periods are 1774 to 1781, which is the American Revolution pretty much from beginning to end. Then 1858 until 1865 beginning with the Lincoln-Douglas debates going through the American Civil War. And then 1941 to 1949, which book ends the period between American involvement in the Second World War and the early part of the Cold War just prior to when the Soviets get the nuclear bomb. So the part of the Cold War where really the United States was the only superpower.
CB: Sure. So this is essentially every what? Uranus Cycle.
NDB: Which is 84 years, yeah. Uranus spends seven years in each of the 12 tropical signs, a total of 84 years. When Lincoln said, “Four score and seven years ago,” he’s making, in his own way, a reference to the fact that a whole Uranus cycle has passed between the The Declaration of Independence and when he’s giving the Gettysburg Address. With a couple of extra years in there, but basically that whole Uranus cycle is even implied in some way in the Gettysburg address. Although I’m sure that is not what Lincoln himself had in mind.
NDB: In other words, this is a striking cycle because of the obvious importance of these three specific periods in the country’s history. Like I said, the United States of America gets into a lot of wars, and the wars may change things about the country. For instance, the Mexican-American war, the country gained a lot of territory out of that. Or the First World War, in its own way, gave the vote to women, as a sort of consequence of the ending of that war.
But when it comes to the three wars that I talk about the book, the ones that coincide with Uranus in Gemini, these are wars that seem to redefine the United States of America. By the end of these wars, the country is a different place or sees itself differently or identifies it differently. For instance, just between the Revolution and the Civil War, a few historians have said that prior to the Civil War, people used to say, “These United States of America”, where its afterwards it was, “The United States”. It went from being a plural identification to a singular identification.
NDB: And things like that. Obviously with the end of the Second World War, the United States suddenly finds itself with this awesome weapon, in the worst sense of the word. And a real global power, where as just a decade earlier, they had been really trying to demilitarize in a big way. So it’s like a reinvention. The first chapter of the book is titled after a quote from Thomas Paine, where he said in “Common Sense”, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” It’s almost as though, when Payne said that, he was tagging the United States to be a place that would perpetually reinvent itself every 84 years, which I think is the underlying point of the book, what we see happening.
CB: Sure. I think some other astrologers have commented on some of those broad things like the discovery of Uranus and the start of the United States when The Revolutionary war ends, because it’s a little bit difficult not to. Astrologers look back on when the planets were discovered, and they see what events were occurring in the world in order to get a sense for what that planet means.
Your book is interesting because you touch upon some of those points that other people have gone over before, like the Uranus cycle and the breakout of major wars. But you actually took that as a starting point and went much further in depth with that study than anybody has before, by studying different applications of Uranus. Different ways to study it, either in mundane astrology or natal astrology, as well as the integration of other cycles like the Venus cycle and how it works together sometimes with the Uranus cycle, right?
NDB: Yeah, absolutely. I would say Uranus is perhaps the star of the story, the protagonist. But there are a lot of other characters. For instance, the other planets. They all interact with Uranus over the course of the story. You see Uranus interacting Saturn, with Venus, with Mars. So it’s not one of these astrology books about a single planet where only that planet is discussed. The planet is discussed within all these different astrological contexts.
CB: Sure. And–
NDB: Sorry, go ahead.
CB: The context is basically the book is a collection of short stories that are almost biographical entries or historical write ups, but they are ones that integrate the astrology into the history, right?
NDB: That’s right. That tends to be my style, I combine biography and broader historical context. So the book will discuss, for instance, military battles like Saratoga in the Revolutionary War, Antietam in the Civil War, D Day in the Second World War. But it also has biographical profiles of people like Thomas Paine, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and so forth. It’s very much a combination of those two degrees of focus, from the very personal to the very universal. So there’s quite a bit of natal astrology in there, even though it’s mostly a book about mundane astrology. To me a big part of being a mundane astrologer involves looking at the people involved in the historical context, and what was happening to them astrologically, not just what’s happening to the country. That’s definitely something that the book does that is different from any other work of this type.
CB: Sure. And you could really read it, because your background is essentially as a biographer and historian. Essentially the way that the book is set up when you open it, is that you could basically read one side and it’s all entirely about the astrology that you’re covering, while the other page or other facing page is entirely about the history of some specific event or biography.
NDB: Yeah, that’s right. The left side pages just recount the historical anecdote about whoever I’m discussing, be it a person or event. Then the right sided page goes into the astrology behind the matter. So indeed, it’s the kind of book that someone could conceivably, if they had just no interest whatsoever in learning astrology, they could still just read the left sided pages and get a pretty interesting little historical overview of these periods in American history.
The book serves as a sort of astrological textbook. It can be used as an astrology textbook, but it’s not written like a textbook, it’s written like a story book. The delineations for planets and their transits are not written in a very obvious textbook or cookbook fashion, but are rather sort of woven into the literature itself. They’re just part of the author’s recounting of the story. It’s kind of a different approach in that way again, in terms of reading a book to learn astrology.
NDB: It’s not written in that obvious textbook style.
CB: So this is not a cookbook book on astrology that you pick up to read about what Uranus means in my 11th House or what have you. It’s a book that discusses Uranus and has a bunch of almost essentially empirical studies on, this is what Uranus has coincided with in these major historical events or in the lives of individuals in the past. From that you can glean some of the meaning of Uranus and some potentials of certain Uranus transits or placements.
NDB: That’s right. Like I said, I do plan on writing other Uranus books, so I didn’t necessarily lay out everything I know or that I’ve observed about the planet. I still have a lot to say about what the planet does to a sign and what have you, but I planned on revealing that in later works.
I have lost my train of thought.
CB: Sure. Well let’s go into some examples, because some of these stories that you cover about Uranus in the United States are about mundane things, things that affected large groups of people like the Uranus transits through Gemini and the major transformational wars have broken out, but some of them are about individual biographies.
CB: Do you have maybe an example or two of a couple of biographies and studies that you specifically did with Uranus in those stories?
NDB: Yeah, now I remember what I was about to say. I was about to address just this. In terms of the natal astrology involved, there are certain astrological topics I tackle, and use figures from history to discuss them. One such example would be solar returns. I have a thread going through the three chapters of the book where I discuss solar returns in the lives of relevant major figures in these three periods. There’s a phenomenon that I notice that is very interesting. One of the things I look at when I look at solar returns is the speed of planets in the solar return chart. I look to see if any of the planets are slowing down or speeding up right at that particular time of a given person’s solar return chart. And what I discovered was something interesting involving the direct station of Uranus.
Now as we’ve already discussed, Uranus has a cycle of 84 years. It takes 84 years to go around the zodiac. Consequently, in a person’s solar return, there is really a one in 84 chance that Uranus is going to be making its direct station very close to the date of a given person’s solar return chart. So that one in 84 chance becomes very striking in the context of the book, because what I stumbled upon was that if you take the solar return of Tom Paine in 1776, the year he wrote and published “Common Sense”, Uranus was making a direct station in his solar return that very year. And then if you jump ahead to 1860, Abraham Lincoln had Uranus making a direct station in his solar return chart. In his case, he was actually born on the day of a Uranus retrograde station. Then Franklin Roosevelt, in 1941 he had Uranus making a direct station in his solar return chart. And this is very striking. Paine wasn’t president the way Lincoln and Roosevelt were, but I think all three of them were sort of the voices and the consciences of these wars. They were sort of the spiritual figureheads of these wars. So It’s very interesting that you find this one little common thing that is rare enough, I mean a one in 84 chance. Of course, three examples is by no means a scientific study, but I do have a lot of other examples of this same phenomenon outside of the context of American history. But just in the context of the book, I found it very striking that those three people shared this one little factor.
NDB: So there are things like that. I also talk about the Uranus conjunction transit to the natal Sun. I have a lot of geminis that I discuss in the book. I find it very interesting, for instance, that King George the Third, the very British king who the Revolution was fought to, not overthrow, but to extract from his rule. He had a Gemini Sun, and transiting Uranus was conjunct his natal Sun right when the United States signed a treaty with France bringing France onto the American side of the war. Which of course is really important because it’s really France that won that war. This fact is especially interesting, because when William Herschal discovered Uranus in 1781, he was going to call the planet George after King George. It’s especially funny.
NDB: That this guy who has a Uranus transit, and a classic Uranus transit, if you will, because he’s a king and he’s being overthrown by his subjects, if you will. There is something sort of Oedipal, just like in the Uranian myth about what happens to him with that transit. And it’s especially funny that if William Herschal had his way, the planet would be called George.
CB: Sure. That’s perfect.
NDB: That is perfect, yeah. And similarly, there are other Geminis I discuss in the book. Patrick Henry, who famously is often quoted as saying, “Give me liberty or give me death.” We don’t know if he really did say that, although he probably said something like that. He was a Gemini, and the thing I point out in the book relating to Patrick Henry is before the Declaration of Independence was even conceived, Virginia, before the United States declared independence, elected a new governor of a new republic or commonwealth. It was Patrick Henry that they elected to be governor of this newly independent Virginia. And the Declaration of Independence sort of followed all of this. And the reason this is interesting is Patrick Henry was a Gemini and Uranus was conjunct his Sun when he was elected and inaugurated the governor of this new Republic of Virginia. It’s interesting because this is the prototype of what would become the US presidency. If we think of the US presidency of being the head of a republic state, that’s what Virginia was before the United States of America was created or even identified. So what is interesting is that not only was King George having a Uranus transit in conjunction to his Sun, but on the opposite side of the ocean, the first elected leader of a kingless nation, if you will, which at that point time Virginia would have considered itself, is also having that Uranus transit to his natal Sun.
CB: So essentially it’s not just that Uranus is discovered and the Revolutionary War is taking place, and that Uranus becomes connected to the country of the United States in a very core or very pivotal way, but also many of the core players at the time, the people that are involved in the revolution and subsequent events, were having very prominent either natal placements of Uranus or transiting hits from Uranus to their natal chart at the time.
NDB: Exactly. In later chapters I go on to make similar observations about, say Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. Well he was a Gemini and Uranus was conjunct his Sun when he became president of the Confederacy. So you see little bits. There’s a sense of history repeating itself in these subtle little ways, and that’s something that is another recurring theme in the book. I point out what’s different about it. Obviously there’s a lot that is different between these three periods in history, but I succeeded, using astrology, in finding a number of common threads or recurring themes over the course of these three periods. I think the book is quite successful at pointing these out.
CB: Sure. That’s one of the things that will be useful about this book, and your research in general, is that you’re oftentimes just pointing out correlations, you’re not necessarily drawing conclusions about them. I’m trying to insert some conclusions here while we’re talking, but for the most part you don’t really do that in the book. You just objectively write out the history of what happened or when a person was born or what transits took place on certain dates, and sort of let the reader draw their own conclusions. In that way, the book is actually probably one of the more, if not the most, type of book that is compelling to people that either aren’t into astrology or are even perhaps skeptical about astrology, because you’re just presenting the correlations and letting the reader draw their own conclusion.
NDB: Yeah, that was a liberty in my decision to really make a work of literature rather than a sort of stiff backed textbook. As a simple work of literature, just being a storyteller, adopting the mantle of the storyteller, I don’t feel like I need to take the reader by the hand and lead them directly to a bunch of conclusions. A lot of the great works of literature usually give the reader some room to contemplate what’s being presented, rather than having all drawn out very literally or obviously. So I did opt to do that. Also because it’s the first book in a series, I also didn’t feel like I had to present everything I know all at once. I have plenty more to say about Uranus that goes beyond the scope of just this one subject, the United States. I do plan on eventually discussing it and writing about it. Yeah, I felt that number one as a work of literature, I didn’t have the same responsibility. Or I was eschewing the responsibility. Maybe some folks would think I have it, but I was eschewing the responsibility of leading people, in a very obvious or deliberate way, to the conclusions, very specific conclusions. Rather, I think the work speaks for itself. I think just telling the story, the reader gets a real sense of Uranus’ presence in the nation’s history, and some idea of what a transit of Uranus, what Uranus represents astrologically, how it’s delineated.
I would say one thing I don’t mention in the book, but that I do discuss a lot when I do astrology talks and what have you about Uranus, is that Uranus seems to pervert the values of the sign it’s transiting through. I’ll give you an example. Right now it’s in Aries. If we look at previous periods when Uranus was in Aries, and certainly even this age that we live in now, the theme that comes out is we have a lot of these mass uprisings, mass political uprisings. In the 1840s Europe was having revolutions all over the place. In the 1930s of course we had the labor union movements and a lot of activism. In our era, we’ve seen things like the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement. Now why is this perverting the values associated with Aries? Well Aries is a sign that values leadership, that values the individual, the singular individual who leads the masses. But what happens when Uranus is in Aries is the masses function as a sort of individual. Now that doesn’t mean that you don’t like it or I don’t like it. I think a lot of people have enjoyed seeing it in the world, but the point is Aries doesn’t like it. Aries, it’s not a natural mode of operating for the values one would associate with that sign.
NDB: That’s what Uranus seems to do no matter where it goes. It does something to corrupt or pervert the value that you would associate with it. That’s not something I spell out too obviously in the book, but that I’ll probably touch on when I discuss Uranus’ transits through other signs, besides just this one, just Gemini.
CB: Sure. There’s many things that are unique about this book, and that might be firsts, which is kind of apropos or ironic or what have you, given the subject matter. But one of the things that’s unique about your book is it’s not actually a normal astrology book, you actually designed it with a very artistic sense in mind, in order to make it like a graphic novel or comic book essentially, right?
NDB: Yeah. There were a number of reasons for doing that. Certainly when I thought back to when I started studying astrology, some of my favorite books were really pretty. I’m thinking of things like A.T. Mann’s The Round Art, or Derek and Julia Parker’s classic Complete Astrologer. These were really great astrology books that taught me a lot at the time. Well written and well presented, but they also looked really great with wonderful illustrations and design. That always appealed to me. In this day and age, being a literature fan myself, you’re certainly struck with this medium, the graphic novel, that allows an author to delve into creativity using more than just words. I have a cinematic background, and graphic novels are a merging of literary styles and cinematic styles. Astrology is already a very visual medium. So I thought that was another reason I wanted to have chart wheels and sky diagrams and other artwork. It just made sense to focus on what I’ve got, which is a full color graphic novel and very pretty looking, if I say so myself.
NDB: The other thing about graphic novels is my sense was that that’s what the intelligentsia of today. If you really want to read the thinking people, they’re in the comic book stores these days. That’s where you’re gonna find them. So I wanted to branch out. I wanted to write a book that wouldn’t necessarily fit in the New Age section at Barnes and Noble. This book is trying very hard to bust out of a narrow audience that is only interested in astrology outside of any other context. I’m trying to break into the comic book world. I’m trying to break into the historical literature world. The book is trying to be a lot of things at once, not unlike its subject matter, The United States of America. There are a lot of different facets as to how it can be seen.
CB: Sure. This is part of your overall strategy, that this is going to be your format that you’re innovating, and that you plan to follow up on with a number of other issues or volumes, right?
NDB: Yeah. I have a bunch of book ideas planned. I’m already working pretty hard on the next two or three. I’ve got them outlined and I’ve got artwork that I’m putting together. This has always been a long term plan for me. For a long time I wanted to work with an artist. I wanted to find an artist to work with, and that is still not something I’ve ruled out. I want to do a lot of these books and I’m not an artist myself. I learned how to make the art that I needed the book, but it was really just because I wanted to make this book, and doing a collaboration with an artist at this point didn’t seem practical for a variety of reasons. So I just took it upon myself to do it, and I actually had a ball learning how to do it and doing it. It was sort of like being a child finger painting. It’s not something I would have done for any other reason, but to make the book look nice I taught myself a new skill. To my surprise, I think I did pretty well. It was actually easier than writing it, and I obviously think of myself as a writer. It was easier to do a new thing than to do the thing that I’m supposedly skilled at.
CB: Yeah. No, it looks great. I think one of the future books that you’re planning on writing about is actually something that you touch upon briefly, at least at certain points in this book, which is the Venus retrograde cycle and Venus transits. I think a large part of your work, or different lectures that you’ve given in the past, have shown that Venus transits are actually much more important than modern astrologers often realize. Or at least they can be under certain contexts. You actually go into that a little bit in this book in certain ways, right?
CB: Yeah, that’s right. It’s a foreshadowing of where the next book is going to go. The next book I’m writing will be about the Venus retrograde cycle, and there will be a number of those books as well. And that is something I touch on in Uranus USA. What I discuss there is Venus as a morning star. Now when Venus goes retrograde, it’s an evening star. Then it retrogrades backward, crosses over the Sun in what we call an inferior conjunction. And upon it’s direct station, it’s in a phase that we call a morning star. It’s proceeding the Sun in zodiacal order, and it’s also moving at a very slow speed at that point.
So there are these three periods when Uranus is in Gemini, there’s this one to two month period when Venus is also in Gemini alongside Uranus, but in this very slow moving morning star phase, which is a very narrow window. We’re looking at a window of about a month to two months once every 84 years. In the book what I show is these three very brief small periods present us with a theme involving racial equality, the matter of racial equality. It’s a very, unfortunately, slow and gradual realization in the country’s history.
In the first chapter, in the American Revolution chapter, I talk about the founding of the Republic of Vermont which was the first territory anywhere in the Americas to abolish slavery. They did this in 1777. They were not one of the original 13 colonies to declare independence, but they did declare independence from Great Britain, and they functioned as an independent republic, until they finally did join the United States as the 14th state in the 1790s. So we see the first hint of America’s future, before Vermont even becomes a part of the United States, when it abolishes slavery. That’s obviously going to be a huge matter 84 years later when the Civil War happens.
Now in the Civil War, Venus is in a slow moving star phase in July of 1862, which is when Congress passes the Second Militia and Confiscation Acts. This is what allows black soldiers to enlist and fight with the Union Army. It’s also when this is passed, it’s this same week that Abraham Lincoln decides that he wants to pass an Emancipation Proclamation. This is the week that he reads his first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet and declares that he intends to pass it. Now he doesn’t wind up passing it until a little later for strategic reasons, but it’s the moment when he knows as President of the United States that he’s going to be doing this, and that obviously it’s going to change the context of the war and make a huge difference in American history, obviously.
Then if we jump ahead over to the Second World War or after the Second World War in the 1940s, Venus is just stationing direct in Gemini with Uranus in Gemini when president Truman desegregates the armed forces. Which is one of the most important measures relating to Civil Rights. I would argue more important than anything Johnson wound up doing 20 years later, because the desegregation of the armed forces gave american blacks, it made them eligible for the Military GI Bill. They’re suddenly getting college educations, moving into suburban neighborhoods and desegregating these neighborhoods, and everything that we see happening in the 1960s, with regards to what is often called the civil rights struggle. That has its roots in that post war era, and the great strength of that movement, I think derives a lot from Truman’s action in desegregating the armed forces.
So there is this thread that we see. Like I said, these are very brief periods, lasting about a month or two months when Venus is also in Gemini alongside Uranus and it’s moving at this very slow speed. And this is just one in a whole bunch of themes that I pull out of the book.
CB: Okay. Yeah, and you start looking at historical themes that come into play when Uranus is in a certain sign, especially Gemini, but also when other planets start moving into specific phases.
CB: And a recurrence of specific themes in history.
NDB: Yes. Yeah, there’s all kinds of things. I look a lot at Uranus just making it’s stations, going forward and backward, because that is something I often follow in astrology. When a planet literally just stops for a moment, stops moving.
NDB: I am transposing, I suppose, an old Hellenistic idea and applying it to a modern planet. The idea of a planet making a station making a phasis in it’s speaking. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that that’s what Uranus is doing, but certainly much the same way that we look at the visible planets making stations and make a note of them and we think of them as speaking when they do this, I do see a similar thing with the outer planets, in so far as when they make their station, there seems to be this reverberation that the planet is expressing itself, if you will, in the world.
NDB: I provide some examples like that. Also interacting with other planets, as we discussed earlier.
CB: Okay. I don’t remember if you touch on Saturn stations, because that’s been really big in the past few months. Obviously the ingress of Saturn into Scorpio, I think we’ve talked about it once or twice on the show already, has had some very hilariously literal correlations with what’s going on in American politics and just the temperature, or what the theme of certain discussions are going on in America right now, involving secrecy and privacy and secrets and spying agencies and things like that.
CB: A lot of it came out, especially recently with the Edward Snowden leaks which were released around the time of one of the Saturn stations in Scorpio.
NDB: Yeah, well I do you touch on Saturn in a number of places in the book. One that jumps to mind is Uranus was making an exact square to Saturn, while Saturn was making a retrograde station, right at the moment that the Confederacy was created.
NDB: Well, when South Carolina succeeded. So they didn’t call it the Confederacy for like another month or two, but the beginning of it when South Carolina, the first state to break away from the Union. When they vote to break away from the Union, on that very day Uranus in Gemini is squaring a stationary Saturn.
NDB: So this is something, even though you’re following one planet, if it’s configured to stationing planet, you’re roping in Uranus to the fact that Saturn is, as I was just saying, making a statement, if you will. Sure enough, what do you have? You have the beginning of the breaking up of the country.
CB: That’s interesting because maybe at the time, I don’t know how they, obviously within a month things start moving very quickly, but astrologically, because you have that station and that square occurring, you would know, or you might be able to know, at the time, that this is going to become much bigger than anyone would assume. It ended up embroiling the entire country in a civil war for several years. That seems to keep coming up, or I’m noticing that as a common theme, and I’m sure you’ve seen in your work, that sometimes you’ll see an important astrological alignment or movement take place. But then it won’t be immediately clear, or at least people won’t immediately see what coincided with that. It’s only sometimes in retrospect that you can see the important turning points or developments in history that took place at that time or sometimes were initiated. But at least while you’re living through them, it’s not always entirely clear what’s happening or what the important thing was that occurred at the time.
NDB: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. That’s something that’s quite common, because naturally astrology is pointing us to the origins of things. So just like I was talking a little while ago about looking at Patrick Henry becoming governor of Virginia, and looking at that as a model of the presidency. Well if you’d been in the room in 1776 when this happened, you might not have realized what the… you would have been struck, I’m sure, by the significance of Virginia declaring independence and electing their own head of state, but you wouldn’t necessarily have understood where all this would go and how this idea that Virginia was advancing on would spread quickly. So quickly and so thoroughly and so powerfully, because no matter where you live on the planet, the United States of America is a presence in your life, I should say.
NDB: Except for maybe a very few people living off the grid, culturally and technologically and what have you, we all live with it.
CB: Sure. I’d almost like to stay on that topic more, but actually that provides a nice transition point, which is something I think you often mention in your lectures and you may allude to in this book, is sometimes the biggest influence that the United States sometimes ends up having is through cultural things. Through the media and through the arts and through literature or what have you. I’m not sure to what extent you really go into that very much in this book, although you might touch upon it very briefly.
NDB: Yeah, not as much. Although it’s certainly something that I’m likely to discuss a lot more in future books. Even the next book merges politics and culture a little more evenly than this one. This one is more or less just about these political matters, these wars and their consequences.
CB: I guess I just wasn’t sure if that related at all to what you had mentioned previously about Uranus in certain signs almost perverting our inverting some of the themes associated with that sign.
NDB: Yeah, certainly. I’ve got a lot of observations of culture shifts related to Uranus, and especially in American culture. It was too broad for the scope of this book.
NDB: I was very careful with this book to be sort of precious about its integrity. The book has 84 pages, in other words, the same number of pages as there are years in a Uranus cycle. I could have made the book 86 pages or 89 pages, but no, I really wanted it to be 84. Then if you could the extraneous pages, the introduction page or the index in the back, then that is an extra 12 pages. So you’ve got another astrological number thrown in. So I get very sort of cute with that kind of thing.
NDB: Consequently, I wasn’t going to cram a lot of outside material into this book. I wanted to keep it thematically very tight. So yeah, I just covered politics in this particular one.
CB: Sure. What are some of the techniques that you apply in this book? Or the things at least that you pay attention to, that have become commonplace for you to look at when you’re doing these historical studies, in terms of when you’re reading a biography and you’re like, let’s see what Uranus is doing around that time. That people perhaps could also look at in applying it to their own chronology. For example, I think one of the things that you mentioned is looking at whether Uranus was making a station in the solar return chart.
NDB: Yeah. That seems to be a really big one. It’s a one in 84 shot. So anyone who lives to be 84 years is going to have it happen to them at some point. I had it happen to me when I was 15, in my 15th solar turn, which was the year that I wound up beginning what is still the longest relationship I’ve ever been involved in. It was almost like I got married at 15 way in a way. It lasted three years, but it was hugely consequential to me in that sense. There were some other things going on in my life. I don’t want to get into a whole biography, but in other words, I’ve seen, just in my own life, that factor in the solar return being striking in itself.
NDB: That year in my life is significant outside of any of the others before or after it.
CB: So that is something people can look at, is just find the year in your life in which Uranus will be either at it’s station or very close to stationing, just direct?
NDB: Direct and retrograde. I mean in the book I just look at the direct stations, because those are what came up with Tom Paine, Abe Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But I would look at both of them. They’re especially interesting. What I do with a lot of these biographical studies, because I have the freedom to look at someone’s life from beginning to end if their life is well documented.
Say Abraham Lincoln, there’s a whole website that will show you his journals. His journals are online, and you can figure out what he was doing pretty much every month of every year of his life, certainly of his adult life. So someone with that kind of documentation, whose life is that well documented, you can look at various periods in life and get a sense of a Uranian theme.
For instance, I mentioned Lincoln was born when Uranus was making a retrograde station, the day Uranus was making a retrograde station. Interestingly, so was John F. Kennedy. But just to look at Lincoln, he’s born with a retrograde station. When Uranus is conjunct his Sun in the 1830s, this is when he is involved with a woman who he’s not going to wind up marrying, basically, but an early very significant romance that I think shaped him in a really big way. And then, of course his solar return stations direct for the year that he’s going to be elected president and the war was going break out and what we associate with Lincoln.
But even just if you look at him as a person, and look at his whole life, his pre political life and his post political life, you still get a theme. You can still follow Uranus in these key points in his life. And that’s what I find interesting to do. I think anyone reading the book, if they’re going to glean anything from my approach to astrology, is to employ that broad overview even of your own life. Unless you’re still too young to have that span to contemplate. In that case, I guess you could at least look ahead and make a note of when these things happen.
NDB: When anyone has lived long enough, you start to see these connections between these different periods of time. That is what I always am drawn to with these biographical studies. Again because I have the luxury of looking at the life from beginning to end.
CB: Sure. That actually raises an interesting philosophical point, because that’s something that really draws me to astrology as well, and that I try to apply in consultations in looking at what the theme or seemingly the direction of a person’s life is. And where certain themes, or what are some recurring themes that seem to keep coming back up in a person’s life, and where does it seem to push them towards?
For you, in reading some of these biographies and noting some of these important correlations when important events would happen in a person’s life, where does that end up leaving you in terms of your philosophy of astrology? Do you feel like some of these people have a graded sense of a fatedness or purposeness or destiny about their lives? Or how does that work for you? What sort of philosophical implications have you drawn from some of this?
NDB: Well, that’s the interesting thing. Because I’m really just writing about the history, on the very last page of the book, I do address the future to some degree, albeit not in an overly committed fashion. But because I have the luxury of really just being focused on the past, it’s a lot easier for me to throw around words like fate. Because after something has happened, you can say after the fact that, say Lincoln was fated to be assassinated or Hiroshima was fated to happen or anything like that. You can use that language in hindsight pretty safely. It’s not like an astrologer saying to someone during a consultation that they’re fated to lose a limb before they die or something like that.
NDB: There is a whole other implication when you start to address the future in terms of fate. I make a point of, I know you and I have had this conversation many times, and I guess it’s one of our distinctions in our approach to astrology, but I try not to think too much about the fate or free will question. Not because it’s not important, but it seems pretty clear to me, just in terms of what I’ve seen over the course of my life, that some things in life are very much planned and predetermined and some things are not. I don’t think it’s all one thing or all the other, I guess, when it comes to that classic question. But in a historical context, it is perfectly appropriate to just say, well it’s all fate. Because after the fact that is the way it seems. That’s the way it is, just in our language.
NDB: We say things like, “Well it was meant to be or it was not meant to be”, and that kind of thing. And in that case, you can do that. I think that is one of the comfortable things about doing what I do. I can do this very intensely deep probing astrology because I’m talking about people who are no longer living these lives.
NDB: I liken it to an autopsy. Doing a kind of astrology that is sort of cold and clinical in a sense. You would not conduct an autopsy on a living person. You would not cut open their body and pull out their kidney and put it on a scale and all that. That would be horrible. But to do it to someone who has passed, this is seen as still somewhat of a gruesome activity, but a respectable and necessary one that contributes to knowledge and finding answers. So that is the safety I have in studying history is I don’t have to worry about screwing up someone’s life with things I’m going to say, because everything is said and done, and this is just commentary after the fact.
CB: Sure. And yet, despite that, because of some of the clear patterns that you’ve discovered, and because of the similarity of some of the repetitions, in terms of the events that tend to coincide with them, that does still seem to lead you, inevitably, to drawing some conclusions about the future when similar alignments or planetary transits will occur.
For example, one that obviously comes up many times in your book is Uranus in Gemini, and I think it’s been on a lot of people’s minds for a while now, that we’re due for another Uranus return in the United States’ chart, and Uranus is not too far from going back into Gemini in just a few years now.
NDB: 12 years from now, yeah. It’ll be entering Gemini in 2025.
NDB: Having just talked about how I’m safe in talking about the history and all this, I’ll say this. I might not have written this book if the zeitgeist had not just gone through that whole 2012 Mayan calendar thing, because my sense is that to the degree that people were going to be freaked out by that kind of thing, they’ve already gone through it.
So it’s a little safer for me to pop up with this astrology book that by no means insists, but certainly suggests that the United States would be headed for a thematic return during the cyclical return. In other words, when Uranus enters Gemini again in 2025 the book at least suggests or anticipates that there would be another one of these big wars, the result of which by the end in 2033, would see the United States becoming a different country in some fashion, redefining itself. Again as Tom Paine said, “Having in its power to begin the world over again.” Which I think was very prophetic of Mr. Paine.
NDB: When it comes to the country. There was no way he could have seen ahead 200 years, but lo and behold he sort of did.
CB: Sure. Yeah, and the 2012, that’s true. Maybe you’re in better shape now since everyone perhaps, or at least some people are feeling a bit burned by the 2012 hype and the fact that it came and went and nothing really happened. Which I think a lot of people said. I mean, I said. I think you said. I think a lot of us were trying to be much more cautionary about that, because of what a weak astrological argument it was based on. This is a little different, though.
NDB: Well, yeah, but at the same time the Mayan calendar scare was turned into a big blockbuster Michael Bay movie.
CB: Right. Well, that was worth it. I mean I enjoy that film in terms of disaster films, so if that was the main thing that resulted in then I appreciate it for that.
NDB: Again, something like that movie makes me feel a little safer about putting out my little astrology comic book that suggests that the United States might get into a war. First of all, the United States, like we said earlier, is almost always in war, so it’s not like that fact alone should necessarily be any more troubling to people than it already is. But the immensity, the larger consequences that seem to come out of the wars that occur when Uranus is in Gemini is a little more striking.
And perhaps, if you really think about it, it could be a scary thing or it could be a wonderful thing. The wars that I’ve discussed in this book are all really horrible events with unthinkable levels of destruction. But there was reason for optimism at the end of these wars as well. They changed the nation, I think in ways that I think most people would agree were really positive in the long run. Even though, unfortunately, they had to come at the expense of so many lives.
CB: Sure, we’re talking about the Civil War and World War Two?
NDB: Yeah, and the Revolution. All three of them were bloody. They were horrible. A lot of innocent people suffered, and so much of it, most of it, is so needless. But you know, once the war is over, there are always these positive consequences coming out. So I guess I was–
CB: Desegregation during the course of the Civil War and–
CB: –World War Two, seeing the US as the remaining superpower.
NDB: Yeah, and also of course, pulling it out of the Depression which was pretty important in terms of where the nation was going to go down the road.
NDB: So, I guess what I would say to anyone is if they were going to read my book and get all paranoid about it, to bear in mind that there is also always a light at the end of the tunnel. I hate even mention it, but maybe we are in for one of these just horrible, horrible experiences that the last three involved. But at the same time, if you’re going to be paranoid and think negatively about all that, I would say try to balance that out with the understanding that in the big picture these tend to improve life.
NDB: I’d certainly be very happy if none of this happens. If there is no war in 2025, or any other time, that’s fine with me. I just made the observation. It’s by no means wishful thinking.
BC: Sure. Well, I think that’s a good high note to end on or sort of mixed, I guess. Some dark possibilities, but also some positive ones.
CB: In terms of the transformation of the country. So yeah, I think on that note, unless there is anything else to mention, we might wrap it up. I did want to remind people they can order your book on your website which is nickdaganbest.com, and the print book is now available, right?
NDB: That’s correct. The print book is available. The ebook has been available for a few months now and people have been really positive, given me positive feedback about it. The print book has just been published recently. People who ordered preorders, the book is being shipped to them. So there are very few people who have read the print version of the book, but that’ll be coming out soon. Anyone who orders it now will receive it in the mail within about two or three weeks. The printers are a bit slow, but it’s out now. It’s done. It belongs to the ages, as they say.
CB: Awesome. So you did a tour earlier this year, although you’re currently also out giving talks right now. I think you’re in the northwest.
NDB: Yeah, I’m in Seattle right now. And tomorrow night, Tuesday, September 17th, I will be doing a joint presentation with the great Austin Coppock at the Jewelbox Theatre in Seattle. It’s going to be a really special night, we’re calling it Cosmos and Cocktails. Austin is going to be talking about transiting Saturn through Scorpio in various instances in the 20th century when that has happened.
I’ll be presenting material from the book and some other material related to the transit of Uranus basically looking at the periods between when Uranus is in Aries up until when it’s in Gemini, because there’s always a broader story arc, really. The transit of Uranus through Gemini is just the culmination period, obviously, in this American story.
CB: Okay. Excellent. Well yeah, like I said, it’s a really great book. It’s very innovative and also very, very beautiful just as a piece of artwork or literature. So I definitely encourage everyone to go to your website, nickdaganbest.com and to purchase it. Thanks for coming on the show. I look forward to future works. I hope you’re able to continue this series, and we’ll have to have you on the show again next time to talk about the Venus retrograde book or what have you.
NDB: Oh, you bet Chris. I can’t wait. Thanks for having me.
CB: Yeah. All right, well that’s it for this show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you enjoyed the show then please either subscribe to it or go onto iTunes and give it a five star rating. Check out Nick’s website and that’s it. So thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.