The Saeculum in the USA chart
Updated: Apr 10, 2020
...or the unusual times we are currently living through
To start with, do not be mislead by the tagline or the image to the left; this is not a controversial article about whether the coronavirus is or is not present in the world. Nor will I be engaging in a "fishing expedition" into the USA chart looking for random indicators that might "show" the Covid-19 virus in randomly convenient timing techniques. What I do want to do is to open up our lens a little wider and examine the current state of the nation in a bit more objective terms. In essence, this post will mainly chronicle a recent test of a new (and exciting) timing technique that we initially discussed in December of last year.
As I explained in that article, this timing method was discovered out of the need to find a "clock" if you will, within the natal chart itself that might outline the native's life as a whole. We were calling it a seasonal method because it was inspired by my understanding of The Gilgamesh Epic as a metaphor for "the seasons" of a human life and, as in that story, it appeared to follow the same seasonal order as the Zodiac.
In the subsequent course of those ongoing studies, the question of whether this method could be applied to a national chart arose and I initially ruled it out, given the fact that one cannot know in advance the "lifespan" of a nation and cannot therefore apply that figure into the calculations needed to tabulate the said "seasons". However, the current bizarre state of the world has once again brought to the fore for me the need to understand this situation from a larger historical perspective. I again asked myself: Is there a way to apply this same idea to national charts and if so, how would we do it? Let's outline my train of thought and the fascinating historical discoveries that emerged from this experiment:
I started by trying to operationalize the definition of a nation into astrological terms that we might be able to use. In reality, while a nation is a political concept, in practical terms it is also the conceptualization of human minds. Thus, might we not just use the same unit of time that we have been using for individual charts? In point of fact, the changing events that affect a nation's life are nothing more than the collective actions of its individual residents as well as those that live outside of its borders. In the same way, a natal life is the result of the actions of its native as well as those that are non-natives. Therefore, I decided to use the lifespan of a resident American for my calculation. In the natal chart, we use an average 80 years to make the calculation simple and because the individual variation does not accumulate over a life all that much, when one resets every 20 years. But because the nation is longer-living, the figure should be more precise to avoid accumulation over time. Since the nation is made up of roughly equal males and females, we can use the average lifespan of both men and women, which turns out is currently 78.9 (Females: 81.4 and Males: 76.3). We can round this up to 79 for our "seasonal cycle" of US residents.
(If you have not already done so, it may be useful to re-read the previous post at this point, so that you have a better understanding of the whole method). Now to calculate where we fall in the national chart, we need to do some simple math: First we calculate the age of the nation: 244 years (2020-1776). How many residential lifespans is that? 244/79 = 3.08861. That means we have circled the nation's chart a little over 3 times. If we multiply the fraction by 79, we get how far (in years) we are into the 4th cycle. So .08861 x 79 = 7 . Thus, we are exactly 7 years into the 4th "seasonal cycle" of the nation. Following our Zodiacal order, 7 years is at the start of the 2nd month, or Taurus. [As a reminder, each sign in a 79 year cycle contains 6.5833 years. And the count always begins at Aries. Therefore, 7 is at the start of Taurus.]
Now we move into the chart for our interpretations. [We use the 12 degree Sag rising chart,aka "the Sibly chart", because it has proven to be sensitive to major national events. Note: This method will not work with quadrant house systems. You must use Equal or Whole-sign houses.] We first locate Taurus in the chart and note that it is on the cusp of the 6th house. Because the need of the sign arises from within the context of that house, we can delineate that the nation's need for resources and value arises from the employment of its residents, that is, its workers. Because signs are compensatory by nature, when they show up, it is because what they represent is logically lacking or required by the unfolding situation. Additionally, since illness is traditionally also located in the 6th house, we can also say that the need for resources and value might arise from an illness. While, either or both of these situations is possible, employment seems to be the more commonly manifested one across most situations involving this house on a national level. There are no planets in Taurus and only the Nodes are located in the fixed signs of the 3/9 axis. (We look at fixed signs, because these are square and opposite the seasonal sign and therefore more likely to impact the life in a major way.) Therefore, we can say that the nation's ties to other nations (Nodes represent the bonds to others in natal charts. Therefore, other nations are implicated in a national chart.) are also involved in its need for material resources.
Summarizing this house, we can state that during the next 7 years, the nation will turn its attention to the financial and health issues of its workers and will recognize that they are lacking in material resources in both cases. In the last few years, and more so this election year -- as an apparent viral pandemic dominates the headlines of this 1st quarter -- we have already seen some politicians on both sides of the aisle embrace this theme in their speeches. While the opposition argues for a lack of adequate wages for workers, the incumbent president, who won four years ago on a campaign to return more jobs to his citizens, assures us that he is delivering on his promise. And while a worldwide pandemic is a perfect manifestation of a 6th house symbolism, the more pressing issue being symbolized by the chart as well as the pandemic event itself, may actually be the unsustainable cost of illness that is crippling both our workers as well as their employers.
As I noted in the previous post, the sign that would occupy the 6th place from Aries, will also be involved. More specifically, we can now say that this "natural" place sign that corresponds with the location of the chart's seasonal one, will tend to be involved as a consequence of the native's attempt to meet the seasonal sign's need. In this case, we are speaking of Virgo, which would naturally occupy the 6th place. In a chart with Sagittarius rising, the seasonal sign will always be 9 signs ahead of the sign that should be placed there when counted from Aries. Therefore, we find Virgo in the 10th place of the chart by counting 9 signs back, or simply by noting that Virgo naturally "belongs" in the 6th place where Taurus is.
Virgo is a sign that always signals problems that need to be fixed or situations that need to be improved. In the 10th, it represents the need for improvement or repair that arises from the nation's public status. Traditionally, this house is thought to represent the government and the executive branch in particular. And while that may be true, I'm going to avoid using that interpretation because it will very easily lead us into allowing partisanship politics dictate any ambiguities in our interpretations (which I would like to avoid). For example, does that mean there is some problem with the current government or does that mean that the government is trying to fix a problem that arises in the 6th? Instead, let's take a different approach. Let's consider the 10th in the same way we consider the 10th in a natal chart: i.e. it represents the occupation of the native. If we've defined the nation in terms of its collective residents, then the 10th will represent the collective occupations of its residents. As such, Virgo here then means that there is a problem with the collective occupations of its residents. This makes more sense because we started in the 6th with a financial problem in labor/health.
Astrologically, the direction of causation between indicators matters. As we have noticed, the seasonal sign is noted first. It functions much like the seasons, in that they come upon us and we adapt to them. Whereas the natural house sign, functions more like the landscape we have at our disposal in order to deal with that changing climate. In other words, we experience the seasonal sign, and afterwards we look to that houses's natural sign to adjust to those changes. We do this because that houses' sign is instinctively perceived as the most naturally adept at handling that place in time.
These indicators seem uncannily similar to what we are seeing in the news. And they are also supported by the transits that are occurring within this chart at this time. The US is currently experiencing its first Pluto return in Capricorn in the 2nd house. This is accompanied by transiting Saturn. Many astrologers have noted that this will bring structural changes to the economical situation of the nation. And here we have a larger supporting picture of this in the seasonal chart. There is more that can be said about this, including the presence of Neptune in the 10th. But I want to further illustrate the reliability of this technique by looking back in time.
If we go back two more signs by subtracting 14 years from 2020, we come roughly to 2006. This brings us to Pisces in the 4th house. We are alerted to something happening in the real estate market (the property of the nation's residents is shown by the 4th house) within the next 7 years. Pisces is a sign that desires to transcend limitations and remove boundaries. Jupiter (its ruler) is located in the 8th house of banks. That is exactly what caused the real estate market collapse and subsequent overexposure of the banks: the removal of regulatory limits that controlled access to mortgages and their exotic financial derivatives in investment banking. The "natural" sign takes us to Cancer and the 8th house of banking, reaffirming the need to protect the banks. We can see that the US chart, with its 4 planets in the 8th sign, tends to ultimately lean heavily on the need to protect its financial sector as a prescriptive orientation.
The last 7 years, from 2013-2020 occurred in Aries, in the 5th. This can also argue for the need for a fresh start in real estate values (5th is the 2nd from the 4th). But if we change gears a bit and examine the 5th as "the children of the residents of the nation", we are told by the placement of Chiron there, that those children who are in need of a fresh start (Aries) may become "injured" either physically or emotionally. That new beginning, we are told, arose from a break and liberation from other nations (Mars and Uranus in the 7th). In retrospect (and this is not something that I would have expected to show up in the chart, but yet here it is), we can easily recognize that it may very well be referring to the children of immigrant residents who have recently been deported or are currently detained in ICE centers at the border, often separated from their parents. If we look at the 5th houses's natural sign Leo, we find it on the 9th house, where the north node is also placed. This indicates that the foreign identity of these children is a need that is being considered as a response. The North Node presence also indicates that their legal ties or ties abroad, may play a role in handling the matter. There is more in the cardinal angles that speaks to the details of these changes. But I want to move along to describe one last discovery that merits a mention.
If indeed this 79 year seasonal cycle works at the national level, then we should see a repetition of the same indicators come up the same number of years ago. That means that starting in 1941(2020-79) and ending in 1948, we should have witnessed similar themes playing out. In point of fact, the primary issue preoccupying the nation in 1941 was the conversion of US industries into a war-time economy that would last until 1945. This had been prompted by the attack on Pearl Harbor that same year. Thus, while the nation was not battling a pandemic, it was preparing its labor force to become retooled for a more conventional enemy. Taxes and war-bonds (i.e. public debt) provided the large sums of investment required to pay for the war investment. So we have both the need for value and resources from the labor force (Taurus in the 6th) as well as large government and employer subsidy of those investments (8th house placement of the 10th house lord Mercury). If we go back 79 years before that, the Taurus house runs from 1862 to 1869, the majority of the Civil War years. Again we find similar themes involving the financialization of workers -- in this case slavery, which is traditionally located in the 6th house -- and an attempt to resolve the problematic state of the nation's status (Virgo in the 10th) by borrowing and taxation (8th house lord of the 10th) to secure that labor. In this case, the problematic status was the secession of the southern states from the union.
We have not talked about the 8th house as a house of death, which is one of its more traditional meanings. I tend not to start with that one because it comes up less frequently in natal manifestations (see my articles on delineating the 8th house). But in all three of these cases, we do encounter the theme of death as something that the leaders of the nation must negotiate; in the first two cases through war, and in the current case, through illness. To have Mercury in the 8th can mean that rather than debt being negotiated, we can encounter death as something being communicated by the leadership of our nation.
If we do the same thing with the Pisces and Aries houses, that is, go back 79 years on each, we can get a sense of the similarity in themes during both those periods with the corresponding seasons of the last 14 years. For example, let's go back to the Pisces period, of the last cycle: that places us between 1927-1934. This corresponds with the last Pisces season from 2006-2013. What is immediately evident is that both these periods encompassed the two greatest economic low points we have been through as a nation: the great Depression and the 2008 Recession. How are these similar in terms of the 4th house significations of the chart? We've mentioned that the 2008 recession was sparked by real estate market speculation, but the Great Depression was also sparked by problems involving the land: severe drought and poor conservation practices that caused 400,000 farmers to be displaced from their lands. It is significant that in both cases, the lowest point in the nation's chart, was also associated with extreme lows in the nation's economy, both having been brought about by land issues.
Before we examine the last Aries reboot period, let me make a quick digression into the use of this cycle as a historical rather than astrological timer. While researching the US history, I wondered if this 79-80 year pattern had not also been noticed in economics, since that is a field that tends to be immersed in the study of recurring cycles. To my surprise, I found that there is indeed an 80 year cycle that has been seen to reoccur in United States history. It is known as the Strauss-Howe generational theory or the Four Turning theory and posits that every 80 years -- the amount of time that a human generation lasts -- the nation undergoes a reboot into a new social, political and economic climate. Within this cycle there are four "turnings" lasting about 20-22 years each, whereby a new generation comes of age and makes itself felt. The cycle normally starts with a crisis that then segways into a period of recovery where institutions and communitarian values are strong. But later generational personas weaken these institutions and values in the name of individualism, ultimately resulting in an unstable political climate that culminates in another crisis. This theory bears an uncanny resemblance to the seasonal cycle that I've been discussing. Indeed, each 20 year segment corresponds to a chart quadrant, which as we know, does indeed correlate to positions on the collective vs individualism scale. (See for example the Huber method of Psychological astrology which posits that if an individual has most of his planets in the lower hemisphere, he will be more oriented toward collective pursuits, whereas if she has more planets in the upper hemisphere, she will possess a more individualist stance.) This however, does not mean that each period correlates better with a predominant political perspective or orientation. The collective vs individualism scale refers to dynamic situations that arise through circumstance, not necessarily from political inclinations.
This idea that history ebbs and flows at the rate of generations is not a new one and goes back to the Etruscans who believed that the gods had allotted everyone, including civilizations, a lifespan. They called these periods saecula. From wikipedia:
Originally it meant the period of time from the moment that something happened (for example the founding of a city) until the point in time that all people who had lived at the first moment had died. At that point a new saeculum would start. According to legend, the gods had allotted a certain number of saecula to every people or civilization; the Etruscans themselves, for example, had been given ten saecula. A saeculum is not normally used for a fixed amount of time; in common usage it stands for about 90 years. It can be divided into four "seasons" of approximately 22 years each; these seasons represent youth, rising adulthood, midlife, and old age.
In light of this earlier usage of the concept, from hereon, we'll begin to call this "the Seaculum method" of astrological timing. [This appears to be in contrast with Eric Meece's use of the term to describe non-generational, larger cycles using the outer planets as timers.]
Now, returning to the last time we experienced a reboot of this full cycle in Aries, we find that it took place from 1934 to 1940 (2020-79+7). Remember that Aries always signals a rebirth and the start of something new. And if Strauss-Howe are to be believed, it should be a time of recovery and communitarian values, where society and institutions turn their focus toward propping up the least self-sufficient among us. This is indeed what happened as FDR enacted an array of New Deal policies between 33-39. And while the current "reboot" that ended in 2020 has not yet born out the same fruits (remember the cycles do not correlate with political perspective), we certainly hear the echoes of it from voices like Alexandra Ocacio Cortez, who has made a "Green New Deal" part of her campaign platform, and Bernie Sanders who in many respects has become the political spokesperson of our youth. Remember that Aries arises from the 5th house of children. Thus we find in 1935, our national attention drawn toward children in need as shown in the enactment of Title IV of the Social Security Act, which created the Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), as well as in Dorothea Lange's iconic photograph of Florence Owens Thompson, the Migrant Mother in 1936. And even though our own seaculum (2013-2020) has not responded with similar communitarian values, it is not without a noticeable parallel of circumstance, as illustrated by the national attention given to the American migration crisis of children in 2014 as well the ongoing situation with the immigration status of children under DACA.
In conclusion, this experiment has been quite eye-opening and solidified for me the merits of using this method on the nation's chart. In the next post, I will return to this technique again with a more in-depth analysis of a non-celebrity natal chart. If anyone wishes to contact me with questions, feel free to use the contact form of this website.