Part I: Natal Foundations
This is the first of a 2 part post on mundane astrology examining the state of the nation as shown in the USA chart. In this part, I look at what exactly is a national chart and how to translate the major planetary themes in the nation's birth chart. In Part 2, I will examine the nation's current and future trends from 2021-2030.
For those who've been paying attention, the entrance into the current decade has been frightening and whiplash-inducing. Things are changing so rapidly, it's difficult to keep up or to even understand all the changes going on. As an astrologer, the tools I have at my disposal to make sense of this, are charts. Therefore, let us see if the national chart can shed some light on what the nation is currently going through and where it's headed. Mundane astrology SHOULD be useful that way. But in order to at least TRY to avoid reading our own political opinions and speculations onto the nation, we need to ground ourselves in rule-based astrology and philosophical consistency.
The Chart Context
So let's start by speaking about context, since it is probably the most important first step in looking at a chart and rarely does it ever get mentioned. If I were to interpret the 8th house of an event chart for a missing pet and saw the pet's significator in the 8th, I would probably not say that the pet can be found at the bank! However, if I were to knowingly interpret the chart of a banker and saw his Moon placed in the 8th house, I might interpret that planetary placement within the context of his place of work. The context of a chart is crucial to the manner in which we interpret the indicators of the terrestrial realm of that chart.
This brings me to nation charts in mundane astrology. What exactly do they represent? Note that "birth" charts for nations are a relatively modern technique first popularized by Charles Carter in the 20th century. Before the modern concept of "a nation" was established, medieval astrologers used Ingress charts – which are charts of a specific time of the year (the start of spring and autumn most frequently) – set for the kingdom or city that they wanted to know something about. And before that, for centuries, the Babylonians used a system of geographical astrology in which the planets and sign-months themselves, indicated the kingdoms affected by the celestial portents witnessed. But the logic behind nation charts is not really all that unique. The birth of a nation is an initiation event, much in the same way an individual's birth chart is also an initiation event. If I were to go see an astrologer and he erected a chart for the time of the reading, that would also be an initiation event: the start of the consultation. In fact, Hellenistic astrologers did commonly erect consultation charts (as they were called) for clients, instead of birth charts, because exact birth times were seldom known then. But for any of these different initiation events, the interpretation of the chart needs to be framed from the perspective of the new entity that is created during that moment. A national chart is said to represent "the life of the nation". However, a nation is made up of many people, animals, cities, businesses, etc. all with different lives and trajectories. What specific interpretative context can we establish for a nation as a whole and who drives that trajectory? Context for any chart always comes from its initiating event. In reality, the USA chart, and most national charts, are NOT the charts for "the life" of the nation or its people. The event that was initiated on July 4th, 1776 was not "the birth" of everyone within that nation, but rather the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Thus, the entity that was initiated at that time and which persists today, is the establishment of the nation as an independent political body. In addition, "the soul", that is, the driver and creator of that political entity, was the Continental Congress, which persists today simply as the governing body (executive and legislative) of the nation. This is important to understand because it means the chart of a nation is always depicting the perspective and future direction of those whose legacy it is to embody that original political entity.
Since the 1st house of any chart shows the physical environment of that created entity, then we would consider the 1776 chart's 1st house as the physical environment of that independent political entity when it was first created: that is, the 13 colonies of the original nation. While the original 13 colonies of that entity have expanded in size (much as a native may gain in weight throughout his lifespan) it has not yet died as an independent political entity. Therefore, this chart persists as a valid chart. For other nations suffering revolutions and new constitutions, we could argue that a new political entity is formed during those moments (almost like a new soul inhabiting the nation), and thus a new initiation moment (chart with different rising sign) would need to be examined. These significant national political moments have been chronicled by astrological historian, Nick Campion, in his handy reference: The Book of World Horoscopes. (Without getting into a long discussion about which of the USA birth times to use – which you can read about in Campion's book – I will be using the Sibly chart set for 5:10 PM in Philadelphia for many reasons, not the least of which is that I've found it to be empirically quite resonant to important events over the years.)
Having established the chart's context, we can now frame the other terrestrial elements in relation to its entrance point: the Ascendant. As I've said, the soul/driver of any chart enters into the chart through the rising sign. That sign establishes the need that guides the path of that entity. Having Sagittarius on the cusp of the 1st means that the framers of the nation were largely driven by the need for an ideological direction and possessed a strong inclination toward the outward expansion of that vision. Already in 1776, the founders had an interest in French Territory to the west of the 13 colonies, which they acquired under the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. This is NOT the path of an isolationist nation, despite the various debates that have ensued over this topic throughout the nation's years. (In part this has to do with the Sun's placement in Cancer, which will be addressed shortly.) However, initially, the Sagittarian need expressed as a tendency to find direction by expanding the political entity physically westward, into lands that had not yet been charted by Europeans.
But over two centuries, as colonization became impractical and frowned upon, we have seen the nation transition toward the outward global expansion of an essentially economic ideology and the political structures required to sustain it. This is in keeping with Jupiter's placement (Sagittarius' ruler) in the financial 8th house of others' resources, debt, and banking. The nation was formed with -- and continues to be driven by -- a strong desire to find upliftment in and through, the acquisition of the resources belonging to others -- that is, from banking and investments. We are essentially a nation built upon financial expansion. This is because, not only is Jupiter in the 8th, but so too is the nation's Sun, representing its Soul. However, because Cancer is the sign that underlies these planets, there is an indication that much of this activity is also necessary because of the perceived need to protect (Cancer's main need) against foreign debt and investments. This is echoed by the fact that the Sun rules the 9th house of foreign lands and is co-present with Jupiter and Venus (the former, ruler of real estate and the latter planet of acquisitions). This concern for foreign debt and taxation imposed from abroad, was actually paramount during the birth of the nation, since the revolutionary war was largely fought over unjust British taxation and financed through debt to France. A quote by Thomas Jefferson makes this Cancerian concern about debt quite clear:
“And I sincerely believe with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
~Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816.
Now let's move on to Mars, which is the next most important planet, as it sits at an angle of the chart (in the 7th sign). Mars is a planet that represents the principle of severing and cutting. When it is sitting in the 7th house of a national chart, it can and often does relate to war and conflicts, since it represents the severing of relationships, particularly those with whom we live or share a partnership or those who openly oppose us. When together with Uranus, it relates to revolutions, or wars against oppression and tyranny. In an individual chart, this would be a very reliable signature for divorce, which can be seen as a revolution from partnership. In this chart, it makes sense that a nation born of revolution, who's most famous battle cry was "give me liberty or give me death", would have such a signature.
However, let's not forget the rulerships involved and the context we spoke about earlier. Mars rules the 12th and the 5th. So its actions are motivated by the creation of objects from these houses. The 12th is the place of hidden enemies or those imprisoned or contained. The 5th is the place of children. But who are the children that are also hidden or contained enemies that may spur the nation's leaders into conflict? In 1776, aside from being in a war for independence, the ruling founders (remember, it is from their perspective that the chart is driven) were also openly engaged in a war of genocide against the existing native populations with whom we shared the nation (Cherokee, Shawnee, Iroquois and several other tribes), in order to seize their lands. The genocide, not often talked about in the histories, included women and children. Derivatively, the 5th is also the 2nd from the 4th, that is, it can also represent the value of the nation's lands. Can we ever see this Mars express more constructively or is it always going to be an inappropriate planet? No. A planet's propriety comes from the light involved in the chart. Mars will act more appropriate to its situation, during times when the chart has become nocturnal through its turning (in this case, between the years 1825 to 1932). But from its birth, and again as of 1947, the USA's chart has been fully diurnal, which means Mars will currently lean toward expressions that are less appropriate to the situations encountered, more competitive, and often more destructive.
Turning now to Saturn, we find that Saturn is in the 11th, a house of affiliations and allies. Saturn tends toward propriety in diurnal charts. Saturn expresses properly as the ability to work hard, plan and endure the hardships of commitment. When it is in a nocturnal chart, it can manifest as restriction, confinement and isolation. The former occurs when the Sun is in charge (such as in this national chart), the latter occurs when the chart has turned toward sunset (between 1825-1932 for this nation). True to a nocturnal Saturn, it was during these latter years, that this otherwise expansionist nation, saw its more isolationist period. However, just as the chart's Sun began to rise over the horizon in the early 1940s, it was WWII that prompted a national debate over whether to get back onto "the world stage" and endure the hardships of war, so that we might come to the aid of our allies. Similarly, having Saturn in the 11th and ruling the 2nd and 3rd in a diurnal chart at the moment of imprint, means that in order for the founders to attain their goals of independence, they would have had to endure their commitments to fulfill financial contracts (2nd and 3rd) with their allies (11th). So this Saturn placement has a lot to do with commitments to other entities for financial reasons. These entities can be other nations, groups or individual affiliations, such as James Swan, the financier and member of the Sons of Liberty, who bought the fledgling nation's debt from France and sold it to private investors. Since the MC is also in the same sign, these Saturnian commitments are important in attainting the nation's highest status.
Lastly, let us turn to the Moon, which is in Aquarius in the nation's 3rd house of information and knowledge. The Moon represents the receptive, gathering or collecting principle. To have the Moon in the 3rd house at the initiation of independence, means that the gathering of information was, and is, an especially important on-going process in the nation's imprint. The Aquarian sign indicates that the need for inclusion and cohesion is what motivated the collection and gathering of information. We know that during the formation of the nation, educated elites in positions of power, who were more inclined to sever ties with Britain, feared that loyalists to the crown would not be united enough when the time came to fight for independence. So they used the newly emerging industry of published newspapers to rally patriots across the 13 colonies. In other words, they gathered information in order to promote inclusion and political unity. According to David Ramsay, one of the first historians of the American Revolution who chronicles this influence: 'in establishing American independence, the pen and press had merit equal to that of the sword.'
Aquarius, a technological sign, expressed in terms of the latest information technology of the 18th century as the publishing industry. But going forward, we may see this lunar imprint of information-gathering, manifest in any of the nation's latest cutting-edge technologies driven by its commitments toward allies, affiliations, and organizations. It is in this Moon that we see the nation's proclivity toward collecting technological information that will be far-reaching. Because the nation's path (Sag ASC) is expansionist, unions and international collaborations based upon ingenuity and know-how, will always be favored by the ruling forces, regardless of the political contests that ensue or are acted out. Note that the Moon is provider of obsessions, as well as investments (rules the 8th). So this protective Cancerian impulse has a tendency to create national obsessions that will be served by the Moon's ability to collect information and knowledge.
It is often noted in mundane astrology that the Moon represents the public. This is true insofar as the public tends to be those who can best receive (a lunar principle) the will of the political entity. Thus, when inappropriately expressed, a need for protection and a defensive posture against others who may pose material threats, can become national obsessions that result in violations of privacy from too much inclusion of information or from the inclusion of improper information, such as in media disinformation. We can see this starting in the late 1930s when the Moon went out of sect. Indeed, the birth of illegal national and international surveillance, has its roots in an SIS program of the 1930s that enlisted the collaboration between government and the private communications industry (the collaborative commitment of Saturn, its dispositor in the 11th), and which continued in violation of the Federal Communications Acts of 1934, into the 1970s under the code name of Operation Shamrock. The post-9/11, internet era has seen this tendency continue and expanded upon unabated, as testified to by Edward Snowden and many others.
[Stay tuned for Part II, where we examine the timing for the current decade in this chart.]