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Ep. 252 Transcript: What is the Birth Chart of the United States?

The Astrology Podcast

Transcript of Episode 252, titled:

What is the Birth Chart of the United States?

With Chris Brennan and guest Nina Gryphon

Episode originally released on April 28, 2020

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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 astrologue@gmail.com.

Transcribed by Andrea Johnson

Transcription released January 10th, 2021

Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com

CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This is Episode 252, and today, I’ll be talking with astrologer Nina Gryphon about what is the birth chart of the United States. 

So today is Sunday, April 26, 2020, starting at 4:51 PM, in Denver, Colorado. And, hey, Nina, welcome back to the show.

NINA GRYPHON: Thank you. It’s a great pleasure to be here, Chris.

CB: Yeah, this is an episode we’ve been talking about doing for a few months now, and I’m glad that we finally got a chance to do it. And you put a lot of work and research into this topic–and it’s a really big one–so we’ve got a lot to cover today, but I think it should be a good episode to finally have out there.

NG: Agreed. Very excited about this.

CB: All right. So part of the genesis of this episode is just, one, as I’ve been sick, obviously, a lot of major events have been happening in the world, and I wanted to start getting back to the podcast, now that I’m getting better, but it seemed like it was not a good time to do lighthearted episodes. 

There were some weighty, world events going on right now, so I wanted to do a weighty episode on a major topic that’s sort of relevant to large groups of people; and one of the major discussion topics and debate topics that frequently comes up in the astrological community when you start talking about mundane astrology is what is the true birth chart of the United States. And while it seems like that should be an easy answer, it’s actually a lot more complicated than one would think, right? I think that’s a fair statement to make.

NG: I think, if anything, it’s an understatement, Chris.

CB: Right. So this is one of those things where there’s been a lot of debate for a very long time about what is the true birth chart of the United States; we’re going to sort through all of that today. We’re not going to give you a singular, specific answer, but instead we’re going to focus on outlining what is the problem and what are some of the different birth charts of the United States that people have chosen or worked with historically or still use today, and what is the background behind that, and which ones have what going for them in terms of why you would choose one chart over another. 

So in order to start, we have to give–since both of us are into traditional astrology–a little bit of a traditional backdrop in terms of how astrologers historically have used astrology to study world events. And when you go pretty far back, you don’t end up using birth charts of countries, but instead there were other approaches to mundane astrology back in the day, right?

NG: Yes, that is definitely true. So if you go back far enough, I would say that you’d pretty much have to go back to Ptolemy who wrote about this in the second book of his, Tetrabiblos; he assigns certain signs to regions. It’s even hard to say that it’s assigned to countries because nation-states as we know them today really didn’t exist in his time, but he might assign a certain sign to Germania or the Germanic tribes, which obviously covers a very amorphous and potentially large piece of land. And similarly, you do see that a lot more in the old texts where entire regions–or you can think of them as bands really–are associated with certain signs.

CB: Okay, so they would apply the signs of the zodiac to different countries or different regions and give them different qualities. There were also different techniques in mundane astrology for studying things like lunations or ingress charts, which you’ve done a lot of work with.

NG: That’s right, I have, certainly, on the practical level. Again, if you go back before the idea of the national chart–which we’ll get to in a second–you see people were looking at lunations, they were looking at eclipses, important transits or configurations–certainly, ingresses. 

And these particular ones, these particular types of charts were useful in a lot of ways, but it becomes a little bit difficult because if you have capital cities–so that you might set these charts for a capital city of a country, or of a region, or kingdom–if they’re pretty close together, as many European cities often are, you might not really see much of a difference between those charts at all. So it becomes a little bit difficult to distinguish between events occurring in neighboring countries or kingdoms.

CB: Right. For example, the Aries ingress–which is the start of the astrological new year–is just a chart set for the moment that the Sun moves into the tropical sign of Aries in that location–in a specific city, let’s say–in a given year, and that’s supposed to give you some forecast for the year. But your point is that, especially in Europe, with cities so close together, those charts aren’t going to vary that much from city to city.

NG: That’s exactly right.

CB: Okay.

NG: Yeah, and that can be a predictive challenge, as you could imagine.

CB: Right. Definitely. So as I was thinking about this historically, the earliest precedent for this issue about the U.S. birth chart is astrologers–through electional and inceptional astrology–did occasionally cast charts for the founding of cities. So for example, the most famous one was the founding of Baghdad in the 7th or 8th century, which the foundation was picked by a group of astrologers who the king got together and said, “Pick an auspicious date for me to found what will become the capital of my new empire,” and then they picked the most auspicious date and that became Baghdad, which became an intellectual hub for several centuries. 

So we have instances like that where you have a singular chart for a city, which becomes even the capital. There were earlier attempts by Roman astrologers to come up with a chart for Rome or a birth chart for Constantinople, but often these cities were founded so far in the distant past that there weren’t good historical records, so they would have to rely on or resort to rectification in order to speculate what the founding chart of the city must have been.

NG: That’s right. And I think the operative word there is ‘speculation’. A lot of these cities, unlike Baghdad–which was very conveniently and thoughtfully, for astrologers, founded at a certain moment–most cities are thought to have just grown up from settlements or from very ancient times, so it would actually be difficult to even find a moment that it really began.

CB: Right. Which is funny in the case of Rome because when you see the astrologers’ discussion of that, Rome has this quasi-mythological story about being founded by Romulus and Remus who were supposedly raised by wolves; so they’re trying to factor in things like that into the rectification and it gets a little dicey.

NG: Yeah, I agree. And you have to wonder if they were really taking it that seriously, but they must have. I mean, they put a lot of work into it.

CB: Sure. So that sets up a historical precedent for astrologers looking for singular charts for the inception or the beginning of something major, like a city, under the premise that that chart would tell you something about the history and the future of whatever was founded or started at that time, which is the basic principle of electional astrology. But also, it sets up a premise where astrologers so desperately want to find that singular chart for something that they sometimes have to resort to rectification to try to infer or speculate what the founding must have been based on astrological principles. But all astrologers know that rectification is inherently speculative on some level, and therefore, not always 100%.

NG: That’s exactly right. So then it becomes more of an issue of belief and how much you want to believe a particular chart; and then, of course, you can get all these competing rectifications.

CB: Right. Which everyone’s familiar with, especially from natal astrology with the birth charts of celebrities, especially if a birth time is not known, or if there’s conflicting birth times; like recently, for example, the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s birth time, but even other celebrities, like Michael Jackson or other people like that. There’s many different, competing speculations in natal astrology, but here it’s just being applied in a mundane context. 

NG: That’s exactly right.

CB: So one of the points that you made in our outline, as we were preparing for this–and I wanted to say, most of this outline was compiled by you, and you did an amazing job compiling our discussion today, so I just wanted to give you credit for that…

NG: Oh, thank you.

CB: …at the start of this because I’ve been still kind of low energy. But one of the points that you made is that in the 20th century, we saw a real shift in emphasis towards natal astrology. And that’s part of also what sets up this issue, as well is just the emphasis that modern astrologers have on natal astrology, right?

NG: Yes, exactly. I mean, if you think about it–and as a historian of astrology, I think you can probably confirm this–once you get into the 20th century, there starts to be this trends where natal astrology is the dominant form of astrology; and for many astrologers, it’s like it’s almost the only valid form. 

We move away from horary, we move away from even mundane in a lot of cases, and so, really the natal chart becomes primary and dominant in a way that, historically, it was just one of your many subfields of astrology; but in the 20th, it really does seem to take a certain precedence.

CB: Sure. So that would be as opposed to or as compared/contrasted with, let’s say, somebody like William Lilly who writes his Introduction to Astrology, and he does introductory concepts and then immediately jumps into horary and then does natal astrology after that showing a clear preference for horary; whereas that shift in natal astrology is–typically, in 20th century and early 21st century astrology–what people are exposed to first and primarily.

NG: That’s exactly right. And so, I think there is the tendency, once you start looking at the world that way, to essentially look for natal charts of countries as being the predominant method and the ‘holy grail’ of prediction.

CB: Okay. And that carries with it some other shifts, such as the focus on timing techniques, like transits and progressions, especially secondary progressions as applied to those birth charts, but then that means you need a really well-timed natal chart in order to use timing techniques like that.

NG: That’s exactly right. So it carries with it some dangers when it comes to nations and cities.

CB: Sure. So in order to be able to make predictions about a nation or a city, you have to have a well-timed chart for that nation, otherwise, your timing could be off by a year or 10 years, or a hundred years.

NG: Precisely.

CB: Okay, so that makes sense. But the issue that we come back to then is, just like in ancient times, in many cases, the original national charts for different countries are either impossible to obtain, or there comes a question about when is a nation officially born; because sometimes there can be different symbolic moments of origin that could be valid or useful, or could compete for preeminence. 

NG: Yeah, that’s exactly right, and we’ll get into this a little bit later, but you do see that. Because if you think about it, in the life of a nation–however you define that–there may be many significant events, right? There often isn’t just one, but there could be quite a few. Especially in more modern times, you have different republics, different governments, so you have all these different, competing options. 

And so, what you see is often you get kind of a smorgasbord of options as an astrologer which chart speaks most to you. Maybe you’ve done a little bit of back-testing to see which seems to match events. But in any case, I think any astrologer today would recognize that all these charts are just kind of one in a chain of events, right? So it’s really in this long lifespan. 

So sometimes people look for the one ‘true’ birth, but even then I have seen astrologers say, okay, the division of this country in 1939 is really the chart that works, even though there have been subsequent important events since then, things like that.

CB: Yeah. I mean, it really comes back to natal astrology, because at least with natal astrology, there is a definitive moment. In one minute, you’re still a fetus on some level, at another minute, you suddenly have been separated from your mother’s body and are an independent living entity; and although there can be some gap there where there’s some question about when exactly is the exact moment of birth, it’s still in a range of time where there was a very clear demarcation. 

And while, sometimes, there have historically been questions about why astrologers use the moment of birth instead of, let’s say, the moment of conception–and sometimes astrologers have experimented with conception charts for different reasons–natal astrology and the clear-cut nature of natal astrology often makes astrologers want there to be something similar when it comes to studying other things, like the birth of a country.

NG: That’s a great point. And one of the things that seems to distinguish these key charts, one from another, or the ones that seem to be most popular and popularly-used are ones where there is a transfer or transition of power, or the bestowing of legitimacy on a person or a group as leaders or as the legitimate government. 

Now, again, in the life of a nation, this usually happens many times. And so, like I said, people do have to make some decisions about which chart they want to use, but it may not be the same one for all people working with the chart for that nation.

CB: Yeah. And one of the things that’s funny about some of the older countries–like countries in Europe–is you have so many options because their history goes so far back–like hundreds and hundreds of years–that there can be much larger debates about what to go with, just because you have more significant moments of origin to work with, all the way up until modern times. 

But that’s where the United States almost presents an interesting and unique case because, as a country, it’s still relatively new and it’s origins are a little bit more distinctive in some instances than other countries as a result of that; so you almost do have a more clear-cut, time-frame to start with or to work with. 

NG: Yeah, that’s a great point. I mean, obviously, the United States is interesting because it’s a major country, it’s a major international player, so people study it much more than, I don’t know, the chart for Luxembourg or something. 

But one of the things about it, just like you said, really all the countries in the Americas, you can say have been founded in the last several hundred years. Whether you start from colonization or from the moment of independence, however you want to begin, this is one of those things where it’s very tantalizing to astrologers because it is during recorded history. And so, there should be a timed chart that at least in theory could be attainable, if we only find the right diary or document that gives that exact time.

CB: Right. And it’s interesting because it’s more recent, within the past 300-400 years. So it’s in a period of more well-documented history, where some of the primary source documents that you have to work with still exist or can be read in their original language relatively easily; you don’t have to learn Latin or ancient Greek in order to go back and reconstruct the birth chart of the U.S. And it’s also something that a lot of modern, mainstream historians have spent a lot of time on; so there’s plenty of source material to draw on, if you should want to investigate this question thoroughly.

NG: Exactly. And as you just said, secondary material too, which we’ll get into when we talk about the U.S. chart specifically.

CB: Right. So why don’t we get into this question? So the question is, what is the birth chart of the United States? The answer is not as simple as it seems. Most astrologers do tend to focus on July 4, 1776, and part of the reason for that is because that’s usually celebrated each year in the United States as Independence Day, to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. So there’s a clear social thing that happens that’s kind of built into every astrologer that lives in the United States, where you can remember that being a major holiday that happens every year on July 4, and it’s usually treated as if that is the birthday of the United States. 

So as a result of that, most astrologers tend to focus on July 4, 1776 as the birth date, and then there just becomes a debate about what time exactly and what Ascendant or rising sign to use. But there’s also some astrologers that use or argue for different dates as being the true birth date and say that July 4, 1776 is not necessarily the true chart or date that should be used for the birth chart of the U.S.

NG: That’s right. You can think of it as kind of your trump card or something. You have all these people arguing about what time is correct for July 4, and then somebody else comes in and says, “Actually, guys, it’s not even July 4.” 

CB: Right. 

NG: It’s part of your power move.

CB: Yeah, exactly, and it gets a little bit crazy. I’m trying to think of analogies because there’s other things like this in the astrological community. I mean, house division is something there’s a lot of major debates about, obviously, but I’m trying to think of something that’s even more of a parallel. Sometimes there’s debates about the start of the Age of Aquarius and that can be kind of a similar speculative thing.

NG: That’s right.

CB: Are there any other major debates like that that you can think of?

NG: Gosh. Well, you can certainly go back historically to, in the old days, people who were looking for the date of the Flood or the date of Jesus Christ’s birth.

CB: The birth date of Jesus, yeah, that’s a big one.

NG: Yeah, I think this is a hobby for astrologers and has been for quite some time.

CB: Yeah, that’s a really good one, the birth chart of Jesus is probably, historically, the other major, even more long-standing, speculative attempt to rectify a chart for a major event that was thought to have happened and to pick out a specific–not just date, but exact time.

NG: Precisely. Yes.

CB: All right. So astrologers have been engaging in this for a long time now and will continue to do so. So back to the chart of the United States; we’ve broken down those two main categories. What we’re going to do now is we’re going to go through and talk about a bunch of the different specific charts and specific dates. 

Do you want to start with talking about the July 4 charts, or do you want to build up to that first, using the ones that are outside of that range?

NG: I’m thinking let’s maybe build up to it.

CB: Okay.

NG: And I just want to make sure if people watching or listening to this episode would like to experiment with different charts, these are ones that have been put forward with reasonably decent cases for them being working charts or operative charts. So it might be that people might want to just try them out and we work our way up to that point.

CB: Okay, sounds good. So what is the earliest chart that you found in your research that’s been put forward as a possible chart for the United States?

NG: So the earliest one that I know of was published by Marc Penfield, and this is the chart of the first permanent settlement in America. And the chart that Marc Penfield chose is set for September 18, 1565, in St. Augustine, Florida; and he sources it to the American Federation of Astrologers, but I don’t know the original genesis of this particular chart. 

It’s an interesting chart because it actually has Uranus in Sagittarius on the Ascendant–so Sagittarius rising, which becomes important later–and the Ascendant is at 9 Sag. Jupiter conjoins the Sun in Virgo on the Midheaven and the Moon is in Pisces, so lots of mutable signs operative in that chart.

CB: Okay. And what’s the rising sign again?

NG: Sagittarius. 9° of Sag.

CB: Okay. So let me go ahead and share that for those that are watching the video version of this episode. Does that look right? September 18, 1565?

NG: It actually should have 9° of Sagittarius rising. 

CB: Okay, let me address that. There we go. Is that right? Because there’s like the ‘old school’ and ‘new school’ change, and sometimes that gets messed up when I animate the chart.

NG: Yeah, let’s take a quick look at that. Yeah, that looks right.

CB: Okay, so that’s this chart. Like you were saying, Sagittarius rising, Jupiter-Sun conjunction up in Virgo, Sun-Mercury conjunction in Libra over in the 11th house, and so on and so forth.

NG: Mm-hmm.

CB: Mars in Gemini is kind of interesting because that is what some of the later charts share.

NG: That’s right. It mirrors a lot of some of the popular July 4 charts–or all of them actually.

CB: So that’s the earliest, but this is not something that a lot of people have embraced necessarily. It’s just one of the ones that you found where…

NG: Where it’s the earliest one.

CB: This is the earliest date. Okay, got it.

NG: That’s right. All right, so after that, another one that I like symbolically–just in terms of the event–is the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, which is an important part in the American myth of settlement; it’s just an important moment. And this chart is set for December 21, 1620, and 6:00 AM, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. And it should have Sagittarius rising, though I don’t have the degree in front of me, but it has Moon in Sag as well.

CB: December 31.

NG: 21st.

CB: Oh, the 21st.

NG: 21st, 1620. And that’s 6:00 AM, in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

CB: There it is. Can you see? 

NG: Yes.

CB: Is the chart coming up? Okay.

NG: Yeah, and looks good.

CB: All right, so this is when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

NG: Mm-hmm.

CB: Got it.

NG: Interesting. Again, emphasis on Sagittarius and Gemini, which we see in future charts.

CB: Okay. And this one comes from Nick Campion’s Book of Horoscopes?

NG: That’s right.

CB: And was that a major source for you in compiling some of this? Because I know Nick has done a lot of work, especially in that book. 

NG: It was. It’s certainly not the only one, but it definitely was important.

CB: Okay. So when we’re talking about some of these early charts, the previous one was the first permanent settlement in America. This is the first religious group coming over that ends up founding it, which is very notable later and which is still talked about a lot. So some of these are symbolically important in terms of the founding of the colonies essentially.

NG: Precisely. Yes.

CB: Okay, got it.

NG: Right. Shall we move on?

CB: Yeah, let’s keep going.

NG: So then, the Boston Tea Party, which, again, a very important moment in American history and in the American conception of itself as rebellious; and this is set for December 16, 1773. And this is also from Nick Campion who notes that it has an unverified time of 5:45 PM, but that just comes from astrological sources rather than historic ones, so I’m not sure how reliable that time is from a historic perspective.

CB: Right. Because sometimes there are time ranges that were noted in historical sources, but other times, we don’t know the time, we just know a date. And sometimes, some astrologer will rectify it to some specific time for various, miscellaneous reasons, and that’ll become the chart, but we often don’t know the actual time.

NG: That’s right. That’s what tends to stick, but we may not know how they got there.

CB: Sure. Okay, so that’s funny–so the Boston Tea Party happened under a Mercury retrograde conjunct Mars at 4° of Capricorn.

NG: Yes, that seems appropriate in some way.

CB: Yeah, there’s some angry Bostoners throwing tea in the water.

NG: In the harbor, yeah.

CB: That sounds pretty good.

NG: All right, here we go, okay. So then, after that, we get to the First Congress, or the first meeting of the colonists, and this is set for September 5, 1774, at 10:00 AM, in Philadelphia. And this chart has Scorpio rising with the Moon and the Sun conjunct in Virgo.

CB: Okay. So at this point, we’re getting to the range of the colonies. The 13 colonies have been around for a while, and now, there’s growing tensions between the colonies and England and the King, and eventually, these tensions start leading towards war. 

NG: Yes, that’s exactly right.

CB: Okay.

NG: So we’re getting, as you said, in the range of the American Revolution.

CB: Yeah. And so, this is the First Continental Congress; so this is when the colonies first started to get together to initiate the rebellion.

NG: That’s right.

CB: Okay. 

NG: All right. So then–and I can see how this could be interesting as a moment–this is the start of the Revolutionary War, and it would be early on the day of April 19, 1775; this would be the Battle of Lexington. And it’s thought that the battle started around 5:00 AM, which would put Aries on the Ascendant, with the Sun there as well, and the Moon in Sagittarius.

CB: Okay, so this was the first battle of the Revolutionary War?

NG: Correct, and Lexington is going to be your location.

CB: Oh, right, I haven’t changed location. I’m just doing approximate charts here as we’re going through this. So it’s late Aries rising, with the Sun at 29° of Aries?

NG: Correct.

CB: Okay, that’s fine. So the Revolutionary War starts, but one of the things that’s interesting just chronologically–as I was refreshing myself on all of my ‘American History 101’–is that the rebellion had already started before they actually made the Declaration of Independence and all that. The Declaration actually came a year later, once tensions had already erupted into actual battles taking place.

NG: Right. You would almost think it should go the other way, but sometimes, battles just happen, so they went with it.

CB: When I was rewatching a documentary in preparation for this, the thing that the historian really emphasized was that up until this point, it was the colonies having a temporary spat over taxes and other things like that. But then, suddenly, when they signed the Declaration of Independence and produced that and sent it out, that was a real declaration that they had a problem with the King, in particular, and were separating themselves from the King’s empire.

NG: Yes.

CB: Okay. So we’re looking right now at the start of the Revolutionary War, on April 19, 1775, and then a few months after that, there was an actual declaration of war in July, right?

NG: Correct. And so, Congress declared war, July 6, 1775, interestingly, almost exactly a year before the most commonly-used date, July 4, 1776. And this one was very heavily advocated by the astrologer Helen Boyd who used an 11:00 AM chart. So perhap, you want to pull that up. And I think there’s some interesting comments that you made, Chris, in our outline about zodiacal releasing, if you wanted to talk to that a little bit.

CB: Yeah. And what was the location for that again?

NG: You know, that’s a good question. I think Philadelphia. 

CB: So this is a Libra rising chart. It’s one of the Libra rising charts, right?

NG: Yes.

CB: Okay. So I’m only familiar with this chart because the guy who was in one of my recent podcast episodes, Alan White, was a big fan of this chart and called it the ‘war’ chart, or the ‘declaration of war’ chart; and he had a whole lecture on that that I’ll see if I can find at some point. But one of the reasons that he tried to advocate for it, or that he argued for it, from a Hellenistic perspective, is he said that if you did zodiacal releasing with this chart that there was a ‘loosing of the bond’ on Level 1, which occurred around the time of the September 11th attacks in 2001. 

So normally, a Level 1 loosing of the bond isn’t possible for humans–you can only have a loosing of the bond on Level 2 or 3 or 4–because it would take too long, longer than the duration of a human life to have one on Level 1, where the periods can last for decades before it moves all the way around the zodiac. But for something like a country that’s been around for a few centuries, you can actually have a loosing of the  bond, theoretically, if zodiacal releasing can be applied to inception charts in that way. 

Anyways, I don’t have any real attachment necessarily, but it was an interesting speculation that Alan always had and one of the reasons why he argued for this being a chart that should be paid attention to.

NG: I’d be interested to know, Chris–it doesn’t sound like maybe you tried it–but I do wonder if zodiacal releasing can be applied to inception charts rather than just natal charts.

CB: Sure.

NG: Sounds like maybe Alan had worked with it. Maybe there is some room for experimentation there.

CB: Yeah, there’s definitely room for experimentation. I mean, I know you can use profections. The only thing with zodiacal releasing is usually it’s better for long-term things, and oftentimes, inceptions and elections can tend to be for shorter-term things, so I haven’t studied it in the same way that I’ve studied longer lives of individuals. And it’s also so much more dependent on having an exact birth time because zodiacal releasing is based on the Lots; if there’s any questions surrounding the birth time then…

NG: It’s way off.

CB: Yeah, it’s way off, and it’s almost not even worth it to try at all. And that’s one of the issues I often run into wanting to apply it to inception charts, but not always having a very good, solid, reliable time to work with for inceptions.

NG: That makes sense, thank you. That’s quite interesting.

CB: Yeah. So this is when we start getting into the realm of some charts that have been advocated by more astrologers, or specific astrologers, like you said, Helen Boyd who didn’t make an entire career, but she’s partially known for having advocated this chart.

NG: That’s correct.

CB: Okay, so we’re getting into the realm of some astrologers heavily advocating for certain charts, and sometimes, making their career out of it or becoming well-known for having advocated a specific chart.

NG: Precisely, yes. So I think we’re getting into July 1776 now. So the one that I think came from Gary Lorentzen, one of the ones he suggested is July 1, 1776, and this is set for 7:08 PM, which is probably the most specific time that I’ve so far seen on our list. And this is the first ‘yes’ majority vote for independence where 9 of the delegates, or 9 of the colonies, voted yes, 2 voted no, and then 2 abstained. 

Do you want to talk about how Gary arrived or how historians have arrived at this very precise time of 7:08 PM?

CB: Yeah. I mean, with Gary, he had written a series. When I announced that you and I were researching this episode, I think Jenn Zahrt mentioned that he was somebody that had researched this topic a lot. And he wrote a series of Facebook posts for us, where he outlined different research he had done into the different dates and what time ranges had good historical sourcing. 

And he was often drawing on, it sounds like, firsthand accounts of people like John Adams or other people that were around at the time, who sometimes noted when the Continental Congress started that day, or when they broke for lunch, or when they adjourned for the evening and other things like that; which, in some instances, gave him ranges of, let’s say, an hour or two–that it must have started at 10:00 AM, but then it ended by 12:00 PM–and then sometimes he’s adjusted it to come up with a specific time. So we don’t always know necessarily the specific time, but sometimes, we know ranges for some of these dates due to just firsthand documentation at the time.

NG: Now that makes sense. All right, so that’s the July 1 chart right there.

CB: Yeah, and just historically, this is the Second Continental Congress. This is when they were starting to get together to make the Declaration of Independence to officially have the 13 colonies announce that they’re basically separating from the King and separating from England and setting up a new country, and this is the first vote that happened for that. But one of the things that’s funny is Gary notes that Mercury was retrograde and they actually had to do a re-vote the very next day on July 2.

NG: That seems typical for Mercury retrograde.

CB: Yeah, for whatever reason, this is Gary’s preferred chart, which is July 1, 1776, at 7:08 PM, with Capricorn rising, Saturn exalted in Libra in the 10th whole sign house, Jupiter, the Sun, and Mercury are over in the 7th house in Cancer, and Venus is not quite moved into Cancer yet–it’s at 29° of Gemini–along with Mars at 19 Gemini, Uranus at 8° of Gemini, and Neptune at 22 of Virgo. 

So one of the things that I noticed that was interesting about this chart, and just about the time-frame general, this would have been the day of the Full Moon right there in Capricorn. So this is just after a Full Moon and we see the Continental Congress getting together and issuing this very first vote, which seems kind of notable just in and of itself.

NG: That’s right. And it’s interesting that it’s a Full Moon very closely squared Saturn in Libra. So I can see how this could be a very powerful moment for breaking with an authority figure, perhaps, the King, or however you want to characterize that Saturn in Libra in his exaltation.

CB: Yeah. And one of the things about this entire period that we’ll talk about eventually later is with this range of dates, once you narrow it down–if you are narrowing it down, or if you chose to narrow down to this time-frame in early July and go with one of those charts–then there’s certain commonalities that all of the charts are going to share in terms of sign placements of certain planets. 

But one of the ones that I always thought was really cool about the founding of the United States, that’s true no matter what, if you use any of the July charts, the two, classical, outer planets–Jupiter and Saturn–are both located in their signs of exaltation, which is just really fascinating to me because that’s a concept that had been around for hundreds and hundreds of years at that point, at least since the 1st century BCE. But here, it just so happens that at the founding of this country, the two largest planets in the solar system happen to be in those two specific signs of the zodiac, with Saturn exalted in Libra and Jupiter exalted in Cancer at that time.

NG: Yes. And I think this is one of the reasons–not the only reason–some people say, “Oh, the Founding Fathers were actually astrology-practicing, Freemasons who elected this chart,” because it just seems so perfect in many ways.

CB: Yeah, where they would have waited or something to do that; which they probably didn’t wait until this specific year and hold off the entire Revolutionary War. It sounds like the war was already going by that point.

NG: Exactly.

CB: But that is probably a subtopic that we should address at some point, which is some of the Founding Fathers were Freemasons or were involved in Freemasonry and questions surrounding to what extent that played any role in things that happened with the founding of the country, questions about the late 18th century, in the 1770s: How prominent was astrology at that time? Were there practicing astrologers? Was astrology incorporated into Freemasonry in any way? What is the plausibility of anybody having used electional astrology in any real sense during that time-frame?

NG: Yeah, it’s–go ahead.

CB: I don’t know the answer to most of those questions, but they’re questions probably worth asking.

NG: For sure. It’s sort of interesting–I think it was Nick Campion who says a little bit about this in his Book of World Horoscopes, where he says Thomas Jefferson had, of course, an enormous collection of books in the library of which just three had to do with astrology. And then the thought was that if anybody would have known how to cast a horoscope, it probably would have been someone like Ben Franklin, but then he didn’t leave behind any astrological works other than a work where he denigrates astrology. So the circumstantial evidence isn’t very strong that they were deep, astrological practitioners or even believers for that matter. 

CB: Yeah, I mean, Ben Franklin is often mistakenly thought to have been an astrologer, to have advocated astrology, but that’s because people will just see this little quote that goes around in memes from Benjamin Franklin–pro-astrology memes–where it sounds like a really positive quote. But they don’t realize that he’s writing it under the pseudonym of somebody he’s mocking and that part of his thing was writing satirical articles, and he actually did mock actual astrologers or almanac-makers sometimes very strongly or viciously.

NG: That’s right, needs a sarcasm tag.

CB: Yeah, so that’s a whole separate thing unto itself. But be careful about sharing the pro-astrology, Benjamin Franklin memes because they’re not necessarily as positive as you might think at first glance. 

NG: Out of context.

CB: Yeah, out of context.

NG: So shall we get back to the charts?

CB: Yeah. Okay, so this is the first vote, but then what happens? So Gary let us know that Mercury was retrograde. So Mercury is at 25 Cancer on July 1. It looks like it only stationed retrograde 3.5 days earlier; so it actually literally just stationed as they were doing all of this. And then, the next day, they had to do some sort of re-vote, right?

NG: That’s exactly right, if you want to share your screen and show that. So that second vote was July 2, 1776. It seems like the time is uncertain, but Gary told us that it was between 11:00 AM and noon. And the reason they took the second vote was to accommodate Delaware because they had to abstain on the first vote; they were missing a delegate who didn’t get there until July 2. So the second vote didn’t really change things, it just became more official because they had everyone present. And that was 12 who were voting for ‘yes’ and 1 abstained. And John Adams gave an 11th hour of the morning for the second vote, July 2, so I’m assuming that’s Gary’s source. 

Speaking of John Adams, I also want to share this deeply, historically, ironic quote. He wrote to his wife about July 2. He said, “This day will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I believe that it will be celebrated as the great anniversary.” So clearly, that is not when we let off fireworks, that is not when we have our national celebration. And I would venture to say most people aren’t aware of the significance of July 2 unless they’ve spent some time studying the American revolutionary history. So despite John Adams’ belief in this as a deeply symbolic and important moment, it just doesn’t seem to have captured the attention of the public the way that July 4 did.

CB: Sure. So that’s really important though because that means there are some astrologers that could make a legitimate case that here we have the personal writings of one of the founders of the country, and he believed that the moment that the country truly began was when the Continental Congress issued this vote saying that we are going to set up our own separate country and we are now independent from anything else.

NG: Exactly. So that would be an interesting chart to experiment with. Like I said, that’s probably as close as we get to some of the original Founding Fathers’ writings on what they thought was the significant moment, which I think has weight and value.

CB: Right. So it’s interesting that in this chart, Venus has switched over from its position the previous day at 29 Gemini; it switched over to 0° of Cancer. And between 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM on that day, the Ascendant switched from Virgo to Libra; so you’ve either got a Virgo Ascendant or you’ve got a Libra Ascendant. It looks like it switched over at about a quarter after the hour. 

So if it’s, let’s say, Libra rising, then you’ve got a Libra rising chart, with Saturn exalted in Libra in the 1st house. And then Venus is up in Cancer around the degree of the Midheaven, in the 10th whole sign house, possibly 9th quadrant house, along with the rest of the planets–Jupiter and the Sun and Mercury, and they’re opposing the Moon, which is down in Capricorn at this time actually in a relatively close conjunction with Pluto; the Moon being at 24 Capricorn and Pluto being at 27.

NG: Right, so starting to get interesting.

CB: Yeah, so this is the July 2 chart; that’s the final one before July 4 and then we finally come to the July 4 charts.

NG: That’s right, the main event. So July 4–now this is the day that the wording of the Declaration of Independence was finally agreed.

CB: Okay, so this is when they finally officially declared it. They wrote the document and that’s the document that everybody in the U.S. learns about in school and that much attention is paid towards, and this is the date that’s usually treated as the birthday of the country.

NG: Exactly. And I wonder if–even before getting into the specific times–it’s worth talking about the prevalence of the Sagittarius and Gemini rising charts, at least in the 20th and 21st centuries. I don’t know if you had some comments about that, Chris, because it does seem like those are the two signs that seem to have some pretty strong advocates.

CB: Yeah. So historically, there’s been two charts, two times, two rising signs that have primarily been advocated by astrologers; weirdly, both of them have historical issues. There’s arguments where neither one, in varying degrees, could be historically possible if you try to go with the main sources or just with what time of the night it was when that must have taken place. So there’s issues surrounding both of them, but historically, for the past century or so, astrologers have usually come down in one camp or another on this issue, with it either being a  Gemini rising chart or a Sagittarius rising chart.

NG: Yes, and I think that’s quite fascinating. So we’ll just start chronologically.

CB: Could we start with Sibly first, just because historically that was the first?

NG: Absolutely. 

CB: Okay. So there’s a lot of issues with the Sibly chart, but the Sibly chart was the first instance of some astrological publication publishing a birth chart for the United States, right?

NG: Yes. So Ebenezer Sibly was a Freemason living in England, and he published a chart for the United States in 1787, and it’s thought that this is probably the first national chart, in the West at least, that has been really used and published and advocated for; so it is important from a historical perspective in the history of astrology, as well as what it signifies.

CB: Right. So this is 10 years after the Declaration of Independence, and astrology is in kind of a low point at this point. Astrology’s not super popular at this point in history in the UK. It had fallen out of favor towards the end of the 17th century in Europe and was in kind of a low point; so even Sibly’s publication of astrology texts at that time was a little bit of a historical oddity in some sense or an outlier.

NG: That’s right. And I’ll try to go through all the inconsistencies in the chart, so forgive me if I get it wrong; but there are just so many that I’ll try to represent them accurately, so stop me if I don’t have it.

CB: Okay.

NG: So the chart was set for 10:10 PM of London time, but it was set for Philadelphia as the location; and also, I think the chart was actually calculated for 9:50 PM. So I think the chart said it was for 10:10 PM, but in fact, it was calculated for 9:50 PM; but then the planetary positions are actually set for 4:50 PM in London. And so, the planets are set for Local Mean Time and then the house cusps are set for Greenwich Mean Time, which differed by one hour at that moment.

And so, because of all these inconsistencies, is it a chart in the U.S.? Is it a chart set in London? Where are the planets? It was criticized, and has been, as being kind of hopelessly confused because no matter where you set a real chart–whether it’s Philadelphia or London–you wouldn’t get exactly the same values for house cusps, as well as for planetary positions.

CB: Yeah, so this is in an era before computer programs. So somebody’s calculating this chart by hand, 10 years later, they’re focusing on July 4, the day of the Declaration of Independence, and they have a specific time picked, but the location is set for London for some reason rather than the location being set for Philadelphia.

NG: That’s right. And one of the after-the-fact rationalizations or speculations is that they’re still part of England, whether that’s an ideological position that the astrologer is taking or whatever else. It’s still a colony, so why would you set it for them? Wouldn’t you just set it for the capital of the mother country?

CB: Okay. What specific time should I set this for? Is it 4:50 PM, hypothetically, in Philadelphia? Do we even know what time we should set it for, for the Sibly chart?

NG: I think I’ve seen 10:10. Well, that’s 10:10 PM for London. Let’s see, you’re 4:50. No, you’re right; I think you’ve got it. I’ve seen Sibly set for 4:50, but also, 5:10 PM. I’m not sure which is the canonical Sibly chart, if such a thing even exists.

CB: I guess if he was setting it for 10:10, then let’s say 5:10 for this, which would give 12 Sagittarius rising.

NG: Right, which I think is the most common Ascendant I’ve seen for Sibly.

CB: Oh, yeah. Okay, that makes sense because then that’s the one where–as we were talking about earlier before we got on the call–before 9/11, a lot of astrologers saw a Pluto-Saturn opposition that was relatively close on September 11, and it was somewhere around these degrees, and a number of astrologers took that to be conclusive proof for the Sibly chart after the fact.

NG: Yes, that’s right. So Saturn and Pluto opposed each other three times in 2001 and 2002. The first two oppositions occurred at 12 Gemini and Sag and the third one occurred at 16 Gemini and Sag, and that was in early 2002. But the thing that’s kind of confounding here that I think does not necessarily prove conclusively whether Sibly works or not is that this chart, July 4, has Uranus at 8 Gemini and it also has Mars at 21 Gemini. And so, you could also say that those planets could just have been activated; you don’t really know if the angles were the ones doing the heavy lifting as it were.

CB: Right. So let me show the chart, just to demonstrate what we were talking about earlier. Let me figure out how to do this. Let me animate a bi-wheel with the Sibly chart. Actually, no, I can just do a bi-wheel with the September 11 chart. 

Okay, for the people watching the video version–my apologies to the people listening to the audio version–the Sibly chart has 12° Ascendant, and so, it’s 12’21” Sagittarius rising, and on September 11, Pluto was at 12’38” Sagittarius and it was opposite to Saturn at 14’45” Gemini. 

So that’s basically it. A lot of astrologers were like, “Oh, that must prove the Sibly chart,” when the attacks happened, and then after that people immediately noticed that and were looking for answers. But what was the point that you were making about other transits surrounding this?

NG: Right. So as you noticed, we don’t just have the Ascendant and Descendant in Gemini and Sag, we also have Uranus in Gemini and Mars in Gemini, and so, that opposition triggers them as well. So you could technically be looking at a completely different Ascendant and Descendant with those planets still being activated by that opposition.

CB: Right. And you said there were three oppositions that happened that year between Pluto and Saturn and they were a little bit earlier.

NG: Correct. So you had ones in 2001, both of which were at 12° of their respective signs, and then the last one, in 2002, was at 16°; so that would be well within orb of Mars, as well as Uranus.

CB: Okay, got it. And also, even though sometimes we have major events, we have to be a little bit careful about looking for easy solutions as well. I don’t know–I can’t help feeling like some of the Pluto hitting the Ascendant stuff could be some of the overemphasis on Pluto; which I think is an important significator, but I don’t think it’s the only significator in astrology that we should be paying attention to, but maybe one piece that could be an argument; but that can’t be the only argument for the Sibly chart.

NG: That’s right. 

CB: All right, is there anything else we need to say about the Sibly chart that we haven’t? Did we give a general overview of the placements, especially for the audio listeners?

NG: You know, maybe you want to do that. I don’t think we went through all of them exactly, so that would be good. Yeah, go ahead.

CB: So the Sibly chart has 12° of Sagittarius rising. What’s interesting, one of the things that’s weird about the Sibly chart is that the Cancer stellium of Venus, Jupiter, the Sun, and Mercury is in the 8th house; so for whatever reason, that’s all 8th house stuff. The only angular planets, at least by sign, in the chart, you have Uranus hanging out over by the Descendant–and depending on the exact degree–it’s either in the 6th quadrant house or it’s in the 7th whole sign house; and you have Mars angular in the 7th whole sign house at 21° of Gemini. 

Let’s see, Saturn is exalted at 14° of Libra, as in the other charts for this time period, either in the 11th whole sign house or the 10th quadrant house–since the Midheaven is over at 1° of Libra–and the Moon in this chart is at 27° of Aquarius. Pretty much all of the July 4 charts–except if you get really late at night, after 10:00 PM–have the Moon in Aquarius, more in the later degrees of Aquarius. So that would be the Sibly chart; also, Neptune in Virgo at 22° in the 10th whole sign house or the 9th quadrant house. 

Yeah, so that’s an overview of the Sibly chart. Are there other things to say about that, aside from its somewhat confused historical origins? Who have been the main proponents of this?

NG: That’s a good question; I feel like it’s had a number. Certainly, Dane Rudhyar, to me, is probably the most famous one; he rectified it just a smidgen. And I can talk to that a little bit; maybe now is the right moment.

CB: Sure.

NG: So he rectified it, and he wrote an article in Zodiac Magazine, in 1971, so quite a while ago, called “The Riddle of the USA Horoscope.” Actually I take it back–I think he’s using July 4, 1775. I apologize. I thought that was a Sibly chart rectification, but I feel like that’s not quite right. So I won’t talk more about that; we can get to it later.

CB: Does it use Sagittarius rising?

NG: It does. That’s why I thought it was the same. It uses 13 Sagittarius rising.

CB: Yeah, so it’s still sort of an argument for a Sagittarius rising-type chart. Got it. I do know that there have been a number of astrologers that have advocated Sibly. I feel like there was an uptick after September 11, that a lot of astrologers were really compelled or found persuasive the argument about Pluto conjoining the Ascendant of the Sibly chart on the day of September 11, partially because the primary signature that most astrologers focused on as being the 9/11 signature was the Pluto-Saturn opposition. And so, if that’s the main signature they’re looking for, then people would gravitate towards the chart that hit that the closest as being ‘the one’.

NG: That’s right. And of course, not to get too far off track, but Rob Hand wrote a very famous article for The Mountain Astrologer well in advance about the Saturn and Pluto opposition. And so, I think in some ways, it had already been pre-figured as maybe the key configuration of that year. So as you say, people are really focused on it to the exclusion of a lot of other factors.

CB: Yeah, and he’s one of the ones that I remember saying that that helped to confirm the Sibly chart. So maybe he’s part of the reason why more astrologers were compelled to take the Sibly chart more seriously after that point.

NG: That’s right.

CB: Whereas, prior to that point–and that may be a nice segway into our other chart–historically, it seemed like there were more arguments and more astrologers had used literally the opposite chart, which is the Gemini rising chart which also had a long history, but also, some kind of weird history and rationale behind it.

NG: Absolutely. So the Gemini rising chart was set for around 2:15 AM, which is, as far as we know, completely ahistoric in the sense that there is no documentation that the Founding Fathers who were present at the Declaration of Independence meeting had anything other than a full night’s sleep; so there’s no reason to think they met that late or that anything significant happened at that time. 

But as far as we can trace it back, the reason that this chart arose was Luke Broughton, if I’m saying his name correctly. He was probably the best-known, and certainly, the most vocal U.S. astrologer of the mid-19th century. In 1861, when he was doing a newsletter, an astrological newsletter, he said that Gemini rules the U.S. and the ingress of Uranus–or Herschel, as it was known back then–into Gemini was when the Revolution began. 

So for him, the ingress of Uranus into Gemini was very important; and so, when Uranus came to the 9° of Gemini, the U.S. declared its independence. And he doesn’t say it, as far as I know, but he seems to have assumed that the degree of Uranus on July 4, 1776 is the rising degree of the U.S. chart and that’s why we end up with a 2:15 chart.

CB: Yeah, so it looks like this is a chart where the person tried to put Uranus right on the degree of the Ascendant, so that, at 2:15, the Ascendant’s at 7° of Gemini and Uranus is at 8° of Gemini.

NG: Correct. And I think that you have to recognize that, Americans, it does feed into their perception of themselves as mavericks, as revolutionaries, so I think there is a certain mythic appeal to having Uranus as the co-significator or the planet that inaugurates the start of the country.

CB: Yeah, I was looking that up because that’s become an important part of astrological lore and how astrologers conceptualize the planet Uranus in general now, a few centuries later. Uranus was discovered on March 13, 1781; so just a few years after the Declaration of Independence and after the Revolution, and after America became an independent country and broke away from England. And so, as a result of that, astrologers developed a doctrine that whenever a new planet is discovered that whatever is going on in the world at the time often has important symbolic meaning for whatever that planet is about, so that’s one of the ways that Uranus came to be associated with things like revolutions.

NG: Yes, I think that’s quite right.

CB: Okay, so Uranus gets associated with the birth of the U.S. One point that’s actually worth mentioning in favor of Luke Broughton is he was one of the most prominent astrologers of the 19th century, of the 1800s, and he actually predicted, I believe, the outbreak of the Civil War based on the Uranus return, the very first Uranus return, which ended up coinciding with the outbreak of the Civil War, if I’m remembering correctly.

NG: Yes, I think that’s right. He was publishing his newsletter; I don’t know when he began, but he definitely was publishing it in the early 1860s, and he seems to have predicted it pretty accurately, as you say, on the basis of Uranus returning to Gemini.

CB: Okay. And then, weirdly, as people have noted almost a century later, when Uranus again returned back to Gemini in the 1940s that was when the United States got involved in World War 2.

NG: Correct.

CB: So historically, there have been these super important turning points in U.S. history–both the Civil War, as well as World War 2, or America’s involvement in World War 2–whenever Uranus returns back to the sign of Gemini for some reason.

NG: Yes, and I feel like you’ve had an episode about this on your podcast some years ago. I don’t remember if it was Nick Dagan Best maybe that was your guest at the time, but it might be worth mentioning.

CB: Yeah, so Nick Dagan Best actually wrote a whole book about this called URANU.S.A, and I interviewed him about that in one of the first episodes of the podcast; I think it was Episode 11, titled, “The Astrology of Uranus and the United States.” So people can go back and find that on the podcast website just by going to Episodes and scrolling down to Episode 11. 

And that, of course, has interesting implications for the future that all astrologers immediately then jump to speculating and wondering about, naturally. We’re in the early phases of Uranus going through Taurus right now, which means in just a few years’ time, later in this decade that we just entered into, Uranus will again return back to Gemini. And the question is, if the pattern holds–of Uranus going back into Gemini during the Civil War, Uranus returning to Gemini during World War 2–will there be some similar repeat of some great conflagration or war or something when Uranus goes back through Gemini the third time?

NG: Yes, let’s hope not.

CB: Yeah, let’s hope not. So far, this decade’s not shaping up so well.

NG: No.

CB: But we’ll see how it goes; we’re only a few months into it.

NG: That’s right.

CB: All right, so back to this. Are there any other things we need to say about the Sibly chart? I guess we’ve moved on from the Sibly chart. Is there anything else we need to say about the Gemini rising chart? I do need to mention the house placements of this chart, which is relatively easy because it’s literally the exact opposite of all of the Sibly chart placements because we have the opposite rising sign. 

So one thing that would be interesting and notable is Uranus, of course, we’ve talked about being conjunct the Ascendant, but then Mars would also be in the 1st house in this chart; so we would be talking about a country that’s Gemini rising with Uranus and Mars in the 1st house. The Cancer stellium moves down to the 2nd whole sign house, with Venus, Jupiter, the Sun, and Mercury there. Neptune in the 4th in Virgo, Saturn in Libra in the 5th whole sign house, and the Moon is up in Aquarius around 18°, conjunct the Midheaven in the 9th whole sign house, or 10th quadrant house. 

So that’s the difference. Astrologers have historically championed two different charts that are literally the exact opposite from one another. But that can sometimes be kind of tricky comparing them if you were to try to compare each of them, just because there can be overlap as a result of those oppositions due to the similarity.

NG: That’s right, same polarity applies.

CB: All right, is there anything else about the Sibly chart? The last thing is just the oddity of this chart being as popular as it is, because it almost requires–because it’s set for 2:00 AM–some sort of weird, quasi-conspiracy theory-type explanation in order to work. The Continental Congress was meeting during the day. We have relatively good documentation of what hours or what time ranges they were meeting, and setting the exact chart for 2:15 AM would require some sort of weird explanation to come up with a justification for why this would be the singular, correct chart, right?

NG: That’s right, a secret side meeting or agreement, or something like that occurring then.

CB: Yeah, it’s been a while since I was super into conspiracy theories and reading up on that stuff. I think sometimes people will speculate or just put out wild speculations that because they were Freemasons, they must have been using astrology, and therefore, they elected this chart or something like that. That argument doesn’t work out very well though because it’s not a terribly good electional chart, if that’s your argument, right?

NG: No. You have Mars in the 1st house, not with any essential dignity. I think that would be a big no-no right there.

CB: Right. It made retrograde Mercury the ruler of the Ascendant, in the 2nd house, which isn’t really terribly that useful.

NG: That’s right.

CB: What else? We’ve got the Sun applying to Saturn in a square, in a night chart. I mean, you could maybe argue that if you wanted to have financial prosperity, they’d put both of the benefics in the 2nd house. Maybe you could argue that, but that’s kind of weak electional astrology thinking, nonetheless.

NG: Especially from people who would have been practicing a fairly traditional form of astrology, if they were really practicing it.

CB: Yeah, we would have to go back to Lilly-type rules, if anything, would be in circulation during this time, about a century after the death of Lilly.

NG: Mm-hmm.

CB: Yeah, it seems more like a chart where somebody was trying to emphasize Uranus, as Luke Broughton did, and so, they picked the chart that had Uranus right on the Ascendant and then said this must be the chart. 

In the absence of some insider information, I did get an offer once from Robert Zoller to join the Freemasons, but I never took him up on that. So I sometimes regret that because then I can’t say conclusively–to answer this question–perhaps there is some secret knowledge of this actually being the correct chart; that would be really cool.

NG: Right.

CB: But absent that, just from a historical perspective, we probably have to discount this, unless some huge discovery comes out at some point.

NG: That’s right. So if somebody wants to invite Chris so he can access the secret archives, I think he’s open to that invitation.

CB: Right. I just have to admit that I will probably blab about it all over the podcast, so I’m probably not a good candidate for that.

NG: All right.

CB: All right, so let’s move on to a broader discussion. So those are the two main charts historically, but both of them have historical issues just onto themselves. So let’s talk more about some of the time ranges that we do know about that were available on July 4 when the Continental Congress was meeting and what charts those would actually result in, hypothetically. 

NG: That’s right. So Gary Lorentzen pointed out to us that the Declaration was brought to the floor at 10:00 AM, July 4, but according to John Adams, they didn’t start the vote to approve the language, as edited, until the 11th hour of the morning. So they went through the document and the motion was made some time between 11:00 AM and noon.

CB: Okay, so it looks like the Ascendant–if I’m calculating all of this correctly with Solar Fire and using the Animate Chart feature–moves into Libra pretty quickly after 11:00 AM that morning, so that by 11:08 AM, it’s firmly in 0° of Libra and will stay there for the next couple of hours. So Gary said that they brought it up for approval and then approved it some time between…

NG: 11:00 and noon.

CB: …11:00 and 12:00. So that time range would probably give some sort of Libra rising chart.

NG: Yeah, again, with Saturn in Libra in the 1st house, or in the Ascendant.

CB: Right. And then, also, with the ruler of the Ascendant being Venus up in the 10th house– depending on what time we’re specifically setting it for, and depending on what house system–but at least the Cancer stellium all moves up to the 10th. 

This is one of the first times recently, as we were researching this, that I even looked at this chart, but it’s interesting that even in this chart, that Saturn-Pluto opposition during 9/11 moves to the 3rd house/9th house axis and becomes almost more of a 9th house problem. It’s activating the difficult 9th house placements of Mars and Uranus in this chart on 9/11, if that was what was going on, or if this was the root chart that those transits were referring back to.

NG: That’s actually a really good point, Chris. And of course, we should probably think back to other major events that we’ve seen as a country.

CB: Sure.

NG: But you’re absolutely right.

CB: Yeah, and it’s also one of the issues when we note that the Uranus return has coincided with a major war each time. Natally, just the fact that Mars is there in the same sign, in Gemini with Uranus, means that the birth chart, no matter what–if we’re using an early July 1776 birth chart–is going to have that Mars-Uranus co-presence or that wide conjunction, which is a problematic or a tense or even warlike energy in and of itself if it gets activated. So that in and of itself could be a problem, no matter how prominent or not prominent Uranus is in the chart natally.

NG: That’s a great point. Absolutely.

CB: Okay, so is there anything else?

NG: Onward. Yeah, I think that’s all I had.

CB: So Gary said that the Continental Congress opened up at 10:00 AM, they began having the debates about it, and then they finally approved the Declaration of Independence some time between 11:00 and noon?

NG: That’s correct.

CB: Okay, so then, at that point, at noon, they broke for lunch.

NG: Mm-hmm. They broke for lunch and then they came back, I believe, in the early afternoon.

CB: Okay, so at noon, the Ascendant’s at 12 Libra, by 1:00 PM, the Ascendant is around 24 Libra, and then, eventually, just after 1:30, around 1:40, the Ascendant moved into Scorpio.

NG: Yeah. And I should point out at this point that Jefferson’s account of the day precludes a time before noon; so he’s focused on the afternoon or late afternoon. So if you do set it obviously for before noon, we are going against some of the documented evidence from an eyewitness.

CB: If you set it up before noon, for what? Say that again?

NG: If you set it before noon, really we would set it for 10:00 to 11:00 AM. So this is discussed at some length in a recent book called American Histrology by Ronald W. Howland. And so, this is something that’s treated at length in his book and it gives a Virgo Ascendant. But the point I’m making is that taking that mid-morning time would go against the written accounts, at least of Jefferson’s.

CB: Because Jefferson says, what?

NG: Jefferson says that it was ratified in the late afternoon.

CB: Okay, so what happened in the morning then, they got together and debated it. And before they broke for lunch, what did they do?

NG: So Gary says that the motion to approve or motion to ratify was made before 11:00 and noon.

CB: Okay, so they made the motion to ratify it before they broke for lunch; so that’s the late Virgo or early Libra rising chart.

NG: That’s right.

CB: So you’re saying that this guy, Ronald Howland, in his book, American Histrology, says–you’re saying that some astrologers dispute Jefferson’s account of the debate.

NG: Of the debate, right, because Jefferson is saying that the debate went on through the morning. And so, a ratification couldn’t have occurred before noon, according to Jefferson.

CB: Okay, so our primary sources then are conflicting because Adams is saying that they ratified it between 11:00 and 12:00  probably, and Jefferson is saying there were further debates that happened after they came back.

NG: That’s right. And then there’s a third conflict based on John Hancock’s recollection of the Declaration coming out of committee. Marc Penfield highlights that at 2:20, though I don’t know if that’s a rectified time or where he gets that time exactly.

CB: Yeah, Marc Penfield, there were some issues with him and the Hillary Clinton birth time during the election a few years ago in 2016 that were not very good, so I’m a little nervous about adopting some of his times too strongly based on that. But that seems relevant if we have conflicting historical sources or primary sources who were there at the time, who are reporting different things about when the process was finished or concluded.

NG: Exactly. So I think probably it would be worthwhile for any astrologers–before making their final decision as to which chart is appropriate–to try to look at some of these primary sources and draw their own conclusions as to what they feel is the most plausible.

CB: Sure. But at least this is helping us to narrow down some time ranges, where we know the Continental Congress got together by 11:00 AM, so by Virgo rising, and a lot of stuff happened even into Libra rising before they broke for lunch, then they come back. And what happens? They eventually approve the document some time earlier in the afternoon. 

NG: Yes, that’s right.

CB: And so, at some point, we get to the Scorpio rising chart. Actually, let me close this and restart just to make sure I have the correct chart and time because sometimes Solar Fire can get weird when you’re animating it for too long. 

And is this the Scorpio rising chart? Because there was somebody who published a book, at one point, arguing for a Scorpio rising chart for the United States, and I wasn’t sure if that was this, if they’re using July 4, but just with Scorpio rising or if that was a different date.

NG: Yeah, I’m not sure the book you mean, but this was one of the ones that Marc Penfield highlighted, so that might be it.

CB: So between 2:00 and almost 4:00 in the afternoon that day, basically, the Ascendant was in Scorpio.

NG: That’s right. And again, it would be hard to elect that given the ruler of the Ascendant being in the 8th house, which is rather inauspicious for the birth of anything that you want to survive.

CB: Yeah, if they were trying to do it deliberately versus a group of people getting together and doing whatever, whenever it’s going to happen. What happened at this point, historically, in the afternoon? At this point, they are getting ready and they do eventually send it out to the printer to be actually published, right?

NG: Yeah, that’s exactly correct.

CB: Okay. And when they do this, there’s a five-hour time-frame where it takes them five hours to get it typeset before it eventually comes back that day, right?

NG: Right. And so, when it comes back, that’s when they get back their fair copy that they’re all happy with; that’s when the ratification and signature process begins.

CB: And did it happen that afternoon or that evening then?

NG: Yes. So the predominant amount of contemporary evidence from people who were there–including Thomas Jefferson–seem to support maybe a late afternoon time. Although I don’t know that we have a specific time when this happened other than it was some time in the late afternoon, which we could end up at 4:00, 5:00, or perhaps even 6:00 PM, depending on what you consider afternoon.

CB: Okay, so it looks like we start getting into a Sagittarius rising chart again then. If it was anytime between 4:10 PM and 6:30, then we’ve got a Sagittarius rising chart, which would then essentially be the same as the Sibly chart. And then, eventually, by around 6:32 PM, the Ascendant moves into Capricorn for the next couple of hours, all the way into about 8:30 PM.

NG: Mm-hmm.

CB: And sunset occurs around this time, around 7:30; so we’re definitely getting later in the evening at this point, into the night.

NG: That’s correct.

CB: Okay, so all of this is just taking the same planetary positions and switching them around to different houses, and it’s moving that stellium of four planets in Cancer. One of the things that’s interesting is the Moon stays in the same sign; it stays in Aquarius for the entire day until late that night. After 9:30 or about 9:52 PM, the Moon switched from Aquarius and moved into Pisces. But otherwise, for the entirety of that day, the Moon is in Aquarius, no matter what, and all of the other planetary positions that day, of course, also stay in the same zodiacal signs. 

So this really just becomes a matter of what houses are the planets placed in and what is the specific rising sign and degree of the Ascendant and Midheaven in the birth chart of the U.S.

NG: Exactly.

CB: Got it. Okay, well, at the very least, that narrows things down because unless they stayed up until, I don’t know, 11:30 or midnight, it’s not going to be an Aries rising chart. Obviously, we have some arguments about people taking the Gemini rising chart seriously, also late at night, but if you just took those historical accounts into consideration–like you just explained in terms of when they actually met up to sign the document or published it, or got the document back and started distributing it–we’re talking about a specific range of hours in a relatively small range of rising signs.

NG: That’s right, so you could at least narrow it down. And it is interesting that even if you go pretty late, you can still have the angles–that is, the MC and IC–in Sagittarius and Gemini; so those do become important, just not as the rising sign.

CB: Right. All right, so what happens after that? So they basically accept the document, everything happens on July 4, but then there’s other charts for other important dates.

NG: There are subsequent charts, yes. 

CB: Okay.

NG: So there is a July 8, 1776, and it’s set for noon, in Philadelphia, and this chart has Libra rising. What happened then was that the Declaration of Independence was publicly read out and proclaimed at that time in the main square. So this is the official public reading of the Declaration, followed by big celebrations.

CB: So this is when the Declaration goes public or becomes public?

NG: Goes public, that’s right. That’s the big release. And the beginning of the celebrations, Gary was saying he uses 12:28 PM LMT. Again, I don’t know why that specific time, if that’s a rectification, or if he has other reasons to choose that, but I think that’s something that he’s timed.

CB: He uses what? What was the time, again?

NG: At 12:28 PM, on July 8.

CB: Okay.

NG: And so, that puts Saturn on the Ascendant, or close to it.

CB: Sure. So the Ascendant would be in 19 Libra, and Saturn would be at 14 Libra, and Mercury would be conjunct the degree of the Midheaven at 22 Gemini. It’s funny that no matter what, in this period of early July of 1776, you’ve got a Mercury retrograde happening. That’s kind of a funny little thing about the birth of the United States, if that’s the appropriate birth range.

NG: Yes. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that they had their Declaration after the war started and was well underway rather than as a first step that later kicked off the war.

CB: Right, that’s a good point. It’s kind of ironic then that American astrologers would later publicize the idea of Mercury retrograde being a big deal, whereas, while it was taken into account in early electional lore, it wasn’t given the degree of emphasis that it later would in recent times.

NG: That’s right. The Founding Fathers made Mercury retrograde happen as a meme.

CB: Right, the first memes. All right, so is that it? Is that enough charts, or are there more charts after that?

NG: That’s all we’ve got, and I feel like that’s certainly plenty.

CB: So there are different variations. You mentioned other charts, like a German work that you had studied. 

NG: I did, yeah, and so, I just wanted to mention. So when I was reading Nick Campion’s work, he said that the first book he was aware of that dealt with national charts was Charles Carter’s 1951 book called Introduction to Political Astrology; and that might be true in English, but actually national charts were used well before then in other languages.

The one that I am aware of, personally–and this really doesn’t mean it is the first one, but it’s just what I know–is a book called Europas Zukunft, meaning The Future of Europe, and was written in German by a very prominent astrologer of the first half of the 20th century, called A.M. Grimm, Alfred Max Grimm. This was published in 1925 in Germany; it’s a book I have. 

And it’s a really interesting book, very bold. It uses timed national charts for a number of countries, not just Europe, including the U.S., to make detailed predictions for European–and the U.S.–countries for the following 50 years. So he literally goes year by year and he tells you what he thinks will happen. 

And so, the U.S. chart that he gives is set for July 4, 1776, for noon, and with no source. I don’t think he gives sources with any of his charts. Maybe for the German ones, he explains some of the history; but it could be he just wanted to sidestep some of the confusion around the timing and just used a noon chart.

CB: Usually when astrologers use the noon chart, that’s the universal, ‘we don’t have a time’ chart.

NG: Exactly. And I just wanted to mention for people who are interested in that source, I wrote an article for The Mountain Astrologer about it and a partial translation of the book. It was in the December 2017 issue.

CB: Okay, cool. And let’s see, other sources. The Book of World Horoscopes is very useful for this because he has a lot of documentation, not just about the U.S. chart, but also, about other charts around the world for different countries and cities.

NG: Exactly. And I think what’s probably worth mentioning there is that Nick Campion states in his introduction repeatedly that, in his view, even a chart that’s historically impossible or inaccurate can work–that is, it can be used accurately for prediction or divination–and that would include the Gemini rising chart, which I think he sets for 2:17 AM. Because so many astrologers believe in it, that alone can make it a valid divinatory tool. So obviously, people can vary on that particular view, but he does take that point and that’s how he squares the circle of how could you have a 2:15-or-thereabouts chart AM that seems to work.

CB: Okay. Yeah, I mean, that’s an argument that you could make. There’s different arguments that you could make either for or against that, and that’s something astrologers have been wrestling with for the past few decades, especially different arguments, like Geoffrey Cornelius’ argument about astrology as divination. And he had an example like that where some scientists used a random chart in an article, and he argued that the chart actually perfectly matched what they were using it for versus other astrologers might say, no, there is objective validity to astrology and the true chart, in of itself, should work. 

I remember Rob Hand, for example–I don’t remember if he was responding to Geoffrey Cornelius directly–but he said he’s never had an instance where a chart’s been rectified or he rectified a chart and the rectified chart, or the true time worked better than the time that had been used previously. Maybe I’m saying that in the reverse. 

He always felt that once a true time had come out or become clear that that had always more clearly matched whatever the presumed chart had been up to that point. So his argument was that the objective, true time was always more valid in every instance that he had seen versus just the presumed chart, no matter what level of belief people had in it up to that point.

NG: Yeah.

CB: And I tend to be more on that side as well in thinking that there’s some objective validity to astrology, regardless of whether we’re aware of it, even if there is also some divinatory component that shows up most readily in horary, for example.

NG: I think that’s right. The problem is if you go too far down that line, why does any chart matter then? As long as you believe in it, any chart could be used, and I’m not sure that’s really what this is about.

CB: Yeah, and that becomes an issue also. I don’t know if Campion still believes astrology is a legitimate, objective phenomenon that occurs out there, and so, that feeds into why he might think that, or the direction that his thinking ended up going in not being a practicing astrologer for several decades, but just doing it as an academic hobby. So we have to be careful as well in terms of adopting some of those views in just understanding the context of where the person’s coming from in terms of their belief in astrology as a phenomenon. 

All right, so where are we at? We’ve introduced all of the main charts at this point and given people a lot of stuff to work with. Once you actually have a chart though, one of the questions is, what can you do once you find a chart, or what are some of the things that you would apply the chart to in order to test it or see if it’s accurate? 

Obviously, a lot of this ends up focusing on, like we’ve been doing, looking at the birth chart and then trying to look at the house placements, and then see how that might symbolically match with or connect with things that have happened in the history of the country. But there’s other cool stuff that you would also do that we’ve alluded to or mentioned a few times, in terms of just timing techniques, like applying transits to the birth chart of the United States, such as, for example, that Uranus return we mentioned–every 84 years–when it comes back to Gemini during the Civil War or World War 2, or even that Saturn-Pluto opposition that we mentioned during 9/11; but there’s also things like secondary progressions. 

I know some astrologers will do secondary progressions to the birth chart of the U.S. and that can sometimes show interesting things, right?

NG: Yes, absolutely. So as I mentioned earlier, Dane Rudhyar did a kind of rectification for July 4, 1775, and the time he ended up with was 5:13:55 PM, Eastern Standard Time, which is interesting. I don’t know why he would use EST, but I believe that’s what he had in the chart. Standard Time was not yet a thing back then–there were no time zones–but you do end up with 13 Sag rising. 

And he says that the most significant feature was the arc between the Midheaven and Saturn–I believe that’s 14°–which corresponds to the period of 12 years and several months, separating the Declaration from the time the Constitution went into force, March 4, 1789. And because he was very focused on psychological astrology, he cautioned that this chart should not be used for predictions because it’s main focus is to actually describe the consciousness of the American people. 

And he predicted 1972 and 1973 as a change or culmination in the U.S. state of consciousness based on Pluto’s conjunction to the Midheaven of the chart that he developed. And then, previously, he also looked at wars that were indicated when there were transits by Pluto to angles of his chart.

CB: Okay. And if he’s talking about the Declaration there, are you sure that it’s not a typo and it is 1776?

NG: You know, maybe it is 1776. I’ll need to confirm, so sorry for the confusion

CB: No, that’s all right.

NG: But yeah, that must be it.

CB: So that means Rudhyar probably used a modified Sibly chart.

NG: I think he’s rectifying Sibly.

CB: Yeah, so that would then make sense. If you have people like Luke Broughton who was a famous astrologer in the 1800s, and he was using the Gemini rising chart, you have a precedent for why maybe a lot of astrologers were using that up to that point. 

But then, Rudhyar was such a prolific author–he has to be one of the most prolific and influential authors of the 20th century–starting in the 1930s and writing books all the way through the 1980s. And then when all the Pluto in Leo astrologers came into the field in the 1960s and ‘70s, they got really into Rudhyar. So him writing an article like that probably would have been very persuasive on that generation of astrologers in the fourth quarter of the 20th century.

NG: Yeah, I could see how, as you say, that 13-or-thereabouts Sagittarius chart really enters consciousness if he says it.

CB: Sure. So even though there’s objective issues with the Sibly chart–because, historically, it’s set for London and has all sorts of weird stuff going on with it–a Sagittarius rising chart certainly was plausible that day, depending on what you want to focus on, because that was one of the times that came up in the afternoon, basically, right?

NG: Exactly, that we have eyewitness accounts of.

CB: Okay. And what was the exact degree that Rudhyar used? 13?

NG: 13 Sagittarius, yeah.

CB: Okay. 

NG: So there you go. And he said 5:13:55. You could round up to 5:14.

CB: Okay.

NG: There you go.

CB: There it is. So that puts the Midheaven at 2 Libra.

NG: Mm-hmm.

CB: Okay, so that would have to be later; so that would be after they get the document back maybe from the printer or something like that versus earlier in the day when they finished the final changes and everybody votes to accept it, and that being the official thing, versus when they officially send it off and everything else. 

So as with most things, any electional astrologer will tell you–and what you run into really quickly with electional astrology–is that the problem is that for most important events, it’s not a singular, specific moment, but instead, it’s a series of important moments during a process of starting something, so that sometimes you do run into a question of what is the most important moment that you should use, and that’s not always very clear-cut.

NG: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

CB: Okay, so that being said, you could do things like, if, for example, you did use a July 4 chart, most of the planetary positions and the degrees of the planets are going to be the same the entire day; so most of the transits that you could run to that chart would largely be the same, at least to the degrees of those planets; and you can also do things like secondary progressions, which would largely be the same on that day, no matter what, right?

NG: That’s right. As long as it’s planet-to-planet and you’re not using the angles as progressed or progressing.

CB: Okay. 

NG: There’s another very extensive rectification that was done fairly recently in 2009. So the pseudonymous author, Dr. H–he’s known as Regulus Astrology; this one really interested me just as a traditional astrologer–he 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 felt matched the symbolism of the bounds. So as the different planets and as the angles progressed through bounds ruled by different planets, different eras and different trends arose and ended in American history. 

He wrote a whole book about this called America is Born, and when it came out, I interviewed him and reviewed the book on my blog at gryphonastrology.com. So he arrived at a 26 Sagittarius Ascendant. So it’s still a July 4 chart, but this is somewhat later than Sibly, and it has 26 Sag rising.

CB: Okay, so here’s the chart, 26 Sag rising and the Midheaven at 18° of Libra.

NG: Correct.

CB: I think I actually helped him to edit that book back in 2008-2009. I tend to be more skeptical of things like this because I know how many different chart options there are, and also, how sometimes you can have false-positives where something can look correct, or you can get timing hits, but it’s because another chart that has similar angles could also be getting hit in a slightly different way by the same placements. I don’t know if this is the correct chart or anything like that. 

I will say, however, though, in his favor–in favor of Dr. H–that before that 2008 election, before Obama’s birth certificate was published and his birth time became common knowledge, I was always impressed by Dr. H that he was the only astrologer I knew who had correctly rectified Obama’s Ascendant to be Aquarius rising.

And he didn’t get the exact degree correct, necessarily–if the birth certificate time is correct–but he did get the rising sign correct. And then when the birth certificate actually came out, that was verified, and he was the only astrologers I knew who did that; so I thought that was pretty impressive in terms of a track record on his part.

NG: Yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, one of the things too that can be said for this book, again, rectifications, at the end of the day, are just hypotheses, right? But I think just the fact that he took so many events and trends into account in creating a rectification is really good because sometimes what we see with any rectification is that the astrologer might just take 5 events, or 10 events, or 15 events. 

CB: Best-case scenario, let’s be honest, most astrologers’ rectifications on the chart of the U.S. are hot-takes based on one placement, like the Saturn-Pluto thing we mentioned or some other singular thing versus something like this, where he took…

NG: Tons of data points.

CB: …hundreds of data points.

NG: Precisely. So whether you agree or disagree, I think we can say, at least to my knowledge, this is probably the most rigorous rectification that’s been done publicly that I know of; so I think that does speak highly of his process.

CB: Sure. Definitely.

NG: Yeah.

CB: Cool, and there’s tons of other books on this. We didn’t even collect together all the ones that we possibly could have. I know there’s different astrologers that advocate the Scorpio rising chart and lots of other different variations during the course of the day. Like we said earlier, Gary Lorentzen prefers the July 1 chart, I believe, and you could probably make a list of hundreds of other different ones that have been advocated by astrologers over the years.

NG: Exactly. Do you have a preferred chart, Chris, or do you prefer not to taint the discussion with your own favorite?

CB: I mean, I don’t at this point. When I got into astrology, I got in through conspiracy theories and New Age literature, and the books that I was really into, for some reason, really heavily advocated the Gemini rising chart. And their argument was always that the country somehow had the stamp of Gemini because it has great polarities of cold in the North and hot in the South, and then it has different twin cities on the East Coast and West Coast, and that it had this idea of polarities or almost this sibling factor being a prominent, recurring archetypal theme in the country, and I always thought that that was interesting. 

I used to think that was much more plausible or compelling as a narrative or as an argument for that specific chart. But at this point in time, I don’t as much just because of how much of a historical stretch it would have had to have been in order for that to take place at two o’clock in the morning, and then it would have required some heavy, secret society-type thing happening at that point. While I can’t say that that’s completely outside of the realm of possibility, it’s probably not necessary to go that far when we have relatively good documentation of a group of people getting together and doing this. And often, history is less complicated than we want to make it. Often, things are much more straightforward.

NG: That’s right. Occam’s razor.

CB: Yeah, so that has left me more with the sense of just not having any idea and being open to different possibilities, keeping vague awareness of different planetary placements. We know that the planets are placed in certain signs in early July, no matter what–like Uranus in Gemini–so we know what some of the long-term cycles are going to be, like the Uranus return coming up later in this decade, or like the Pluto return that’s happening right now. Since Pluto was at 27° of Capricorn in early July of 1776, we know it’s getting back to that point now as it’s getting closer and closer to late Capricorn. 

But I, otherwise, haven’t settled on a specific chart, although that’s partially because I’ve never tried to research it enough to firmly come to some conclusion. Do you have a preferred chart?

NG: You know, for a long time, I used the 26 Sagittarius one proposed by Dr. H just because I felt like there was some rigor there and some background. But in my work, I tend to use the solar ingresses more, lunations, things like that, so I actually don’t rely on national charts that heavily, certainly ones where there’s doubt like here. 

CB: Right.

NG: I just feel that there are other tools that we can use.

CB: Yeah, I think that’s really important for mundane astrology. That’s a really important lesson; I think it’s something we learned a lot in the past few presidential elections. Even if there is uncertainty about the chart that you’re using, then you’re really upping the chances of mistakes happening if you try to base your predictions on that chart because it could not even be the correct chart. You could be working with the wrong chart, and therefore, come to the wrong conclusions; and so, that becomes a lot more dangerous if you put too much emphasis on a singular chart. 

And so, that’s always created a tension with me. On the one hand, I admire sometimes people who do a ton of research and pick up these pet projects in astrology. I’ve seen these different areas where astrologers will pick up a pet project and then try to specialize in that and go on this quest to find the correct chart; and astrologers have been doing that for centuries–like, first, with the birth chart for Jesus–and astrologers have had entire careers about that. I think Cardan or somebody was thrown in jail for that, right?

NG: I believe so, yes. That’s a whole other episode actually, Jerome Cardan.

CB: That is one we’re going to do. He was thrown in jail for publishing his rectification of the speculative birth chart for Jesus.

NG: That’s right.

CB: There’s been other astrologers more recently that have made entire careers out of that, or finding the date of the Age of Aquarius, or here, finding the birth chart of the U.S. And on the one hand, I have some degree of respect for people that decide to not just do something in passing, but to seriously try to research any subject and become experts on it and then try to render a verdict, and there’s something respectable on that level. 

But then there’s another part of me that sometimes I feel like people can become obsessed with trying to find a true, singular thing when, ultimately, something is not completely unknowable, but it’s so murky and hard to ever confirm, you’re never going to have complete, 100% sureness about something. It’s a little bit hard to put too much emphasis on something or to build your entire career around it when you’re never going to be able to fully validate it in the way that you might like, and that sometimes gives me pause for ever wanting to go too far in that direction with any one of those projects.

NG: Yes, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, I think the odds of a true birth chart of America ever coming out is zero.

CB: Right.

NG: You’ll never de-validate it or prove it wrong, I guess, so that’s a bonus.

CB: Yeah, it’s such a tricky thing or a double-edged sword for that, but that was really our goal and that was the way that we wanted to structure this episode because we were both somewhat on the same page about that and wanted to both give people an overview of here’s the situation, here are a bunch of the different charts that have been used and the reasons why different people have used them; here’s the different ranges that are plausible on certain dates–like July 4–that you have to choose from. But also, we don’t fully know what the answer is and these are the problems that you’re going to run into if you decide to engage with this as a research project. 

So it’s up to the individual listener what they want to do with that information or where they want to go from there, now that we’ve provided this overview and this introduction to the problem.

NG: Exactly.

CB: Cool. All right, well, I think that brings us to the end of this episode then. Let me glance at my notes and see if there’s anything. We mentioned 9/11, Freemasons and conspiracy theories, both of the classical outer planets being in their exaltations–which is really interesting–in 1776. 

Another side thing is the inauguration chart has actually stayed fixed for the past several decades, which is an alternate, interesting thing that you can focus on that also ties in with the U.S. chart in somewhat weird ways because we know that the inauguration is always going to take place on a specific date, at a specific time, in Washington D.C. at this point.

NG: Yeah, I actually have a comment about the inauguration, and I don’t want this to turn into a whole thing. According to the Constitution, the elected person becomes President at midnight, so you can have your inauguration at any time. But my argument–and that might be my legal background–is that you actually become President whether you have an inauguration or not. It’s a legal act.

CB: Okay.

NG: That’s the other reason I tend not to rely too much on inauguration charts, but something to think about.

CB: Yeah, that’s a good point. Well, maybe, Joan Quigley didn’t need to move Reagan’s inauguration four minutes earlier or later.

NG: In light of the fact that he would have become President whenever the inauguration occurred–he would have become President at midnight–it seemed a little superfluous.

CB: And also, even just moving it four minutes in and of itself is funny; because she couldn’t move it that much, but she tried to do what she could. But maybe there it also goes to the conspiracy theories, for whatever it’s worth–not that I want to promote conspiracy theories, especially lately, when there’s just so much craziness being promoted out there–but there was an astrologer in the White House for eight years, off and on, who did occasionally elect things, or tried to move dates and times for astrological reasons, and that was something that didn’t come out till later and was denied thoroughly. 

The way that they approached it was by blaming his wife, by blaming Nancy and saying it was Nancy’s crazy addiction to pseudo-science and that Reagan was just humoring his wife, which is a total lie, but that’s still in most documented sources, what they’ll say to this day. So who knows if that’s come up in other instances and just never became public knowledge, we’ll never know, and it’s a little pointless to speculate as a result of that, but who’s to say.

NG: That’s right. And by the way, you had an episode about Joan Quigley too. I don’t remember what number it was, but it’s been a few years. So if people are interested in that, that’s a whole other rabbithole they can pursue.

CB: Yeah, that was Episode 68. That was probably one of my favorite episodes in the podcast’s history because I researched it for a while around that time, and it ended up coming out relatively well as a specific narrative in just everything we know about what happened.

NG: That’s right, it’s a memorable one. I would recommend it to people who haven’t heard it.

CB: Definitely, thank you. All right, well, I think that’s it for this episode. It’s been a few months; you did the William Lilly episode with me last fall, which was a major episode. What have you been working on since then, or what do you have coming up?

NG: So a few things. So I’m still publishing my Magical Elections ebook every month, and it’s basically a compilation of electional dates and times, but with a magical purpose in mind. And so, it contains not just when the moment of making a talisman or having a magical ritual is, but also, it has background information for what’s appropriate planetary magic, what are some of the things that you might need. It aims to help people get into astrological magic as practiced in Medieval- and Renaissance-era Europe and the Middle East.

CB: Yeah, that’s a great accompaniment for anybody that was interested in the episode I did with Christopher Warnock, a few months ago, on the Picatrix because you’re taking some of his magical elections and rules straight out of documents, or at least taking inspiration from things like the Picatrix and then finding good elections each month for making talismans and other things like that.

NG: Exactly. And it’s pretty different, I would say, than what you guys do with auspicious elections because with magical elections, just to distinguish it, you have other tools that don’t always apply. You are looking at things like decans and fixed stars, things like that don’t usually fall into electing for a moment or a time; so that’s just more to tell people what that’s like. 

And the other thing I’ve been working on is I’ve started making videos on my YouTube channel, and I have a Patreon. So if you just go to patreon.com/ninagryphon, you can support my work; and these are videos on astrology and magic and astrological magic. So hopefully, you can find them on YouTube–youtube.com/ninagryphon–and get educated. And I talk about current transits and astrology, magic–all of the above.

CB: Definitely. I love that you’re doing more videos now. And you did a great video not too long ago with Ryan Butler on fixed stars that was really good.

NG: Yeah, thank you.

CB: Cool, so people can check that out. And what’s your main website url?

NG: It’s NinaGryphon.com

CB: Got it. And then you’re also active on Twitter and Instagram, right?

NG: That’s right. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. If you just type in ‘Nina Gryphon’, you should be able to find me.

CB: Brilliant. All right, really quickly, your mention of the magical elections, that reminded me of another historical anecdote about the guy that when he died–he was found with a talisman–had founded Mormonism. 

NG: Joseph Smith.

CB: Yeah, Joseph Smith.

NG: Jupiter talisman.

CB: He was killed by a mob, and they found a Jupiter talisman that was straight from Agrippa, one of the earlier magical works, right?

NG: That’s right. I forget, was it Agrippa or Key of Solomon? I don’t recall which it was, but it’s a seal, and so, the image is something that occurs quite frequently in particular grimoires. So did he make it? Did he buy it? We don’t really know, but somebody was at least a consumer of planetary magic, if not a practitioner.

CB: Sure, and he died in 1844. He was born in 1805; so this is a few decades after the founding of the U.S. So again, it just circles around to that question, that tension I have–maybe it’s my tension as a Scorpio–between skepticism versus…

NG: Conspiracy.

CB: …what was the secret history of the United States, and magical or occult or divinatory things, what roles have those played, if any, in U.S. history at different points? And we see pieces of that occasionally with things like Reagan having an astrologer in the White House or Joseph Smith founding a religion and having a magical, Jupiter talisman on him at the time, but in some instances, we’ll never know. It’s almost too bad on some level because I’m sure there’s a lot of interesting stuff we’ll never find out.

NG: That’s right. I mean, a lot of this would not have been documented in the official documents that come down to us, so it’s a secret history.

CB: Jefferson doesn’t have a page in his library that says, “Well, at two o’clock in the morning, we all got together.”

NG: The secret cabal convened, yes.

CB: Right. “And exactly at 2:10 in the morning, when Gemini was rising and Uranus–which wasn’t discovered yet–was on the Ascendant, that was when we actually signed the Declaration.”

NG: But they knew already because, clearly, they were Masons and they had that information.

CB: That’s good thinking. Okay, you’re right. All right, well, thank you so much for doing this episode. Like I said at the top of this, you put in pretty much all of the research into this episode, so I really appreciate it. And people should thank you for this overview because I don’t think I’ve seen a singular take on the birth chart of the United States like this, so I appreciate you putting it together. 

And I think it’ll be helpful going forward, not just for future research into this topic, if people want to get into it, but also just as we’re talking about world events these days and all the crazy stuff that’s going on and trying to get some larger meaning of it, when looking to things like national charts of the United States and what the future of the country looks like as we move forward.

NG: That’s right. Just in time for the U.S. election, folks.

CB: Oh, god, yeah. Yes, that will be fun. We’ll have to follow-up on that. Let’s see what happens over the next few months. Cool. All right, well, people should check out your website at NinaGryphon.com. Correct?

NG: That’s right.

CB: All right.

NG: Yeah, thank you, Chris. It’s been such a pleasure.

CB: Yeah, I look forward to having you again soon, hopefully, for either the Jerome Cardan episode, or maybe to talk about fixed stars or some other topics in the future.

NG: Yeah, that sounds great. Thanks, Chris.

CB: Cool. Well, thanks everyone for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast. Thanks to all the patrons who supported this episode. And that’s it, so we’ll see you again next time. 

Thanks to the patrons who helped to support the production of this episode of The Astrology Podcast through our page on patreon.com, in particular, a shout-out to patrons Christine Stone, Nate Craddock, Maren Altman, and Irina Tudor, as well as the Astro Gold Astrology App, available at Astrogold.io, the Portland School of Astrology, at PortlandAstrology.org, and the HoneycombCollective Personal Astrological Almanacs, available at Honeycomb.co. 

The production of this episode of the podcast is also supported by the International Society for Astrological Research–which is hosting a major astrology conference in Denver, Colorado, September 10-14, 2020–more information about that at ISAR2020.org, and finally, also, Solar Fire Astrology Software, which is available at Alabe.com. And you can use the promo code AP15 for a 15% discount on that software. 

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