On the DC Obelisk – Part I

On the DC Obelisk – Part I

When we look at monuments, we are looking at symbols that operate on multiple levels in both space and time. They commemorate past times, and they are also guides for the future.

Nothing comes closer to achieving that than the Washington Monument in the USA’s capital. Not only is it a tribute to the fellow who led the Revolutionary Army to victory, it is also a monument to the temporal and physical state in which the USA claimed its place. As such, there are attendant astrological dimensions to this structure, and we will explore those here.

If an obelisk functions as a time-keeping device, it does so within a location-specific environ. It isn’t only marking time in a practical sense, such as how our use of a wristwatch might tell us how long we have before a scheduled meeting with the boss, or with friends for lunch. Rather, it is both keeping and holding time, and much like our astrological study of celestial alignments and cycles, the structure is also about where we fit within the movement of the entire cosmos, both heavenly and earthly.

For that reason, the “local-space” grid of altitude (up and down) and azimuth (left and right)

Things that have happened in the past are set in stone, and the future is yet to be built. The “now” is the fulcrum moment between those two worlds — our stories of the past and our dreams of the future — and the astrology chart needs to be seen as such. We are only who we are because of where history has led us, but the history of the future is perhaps an near-infinite range of possibilities, both auspicious and unfavorable. How can we know what may come? That is the central question of the human mind.

Obelisks are simple things. They are square at the bottom and have points on the top. The point on the top is the important part, as it points upward to the zenith – the top of the local sky. This is where the timekeeping part of the structure comes in, as the obelisk is designed to cast a certain kind of shadow. It may be said that the shadow — the empty space that we can somehow still see — is as much a part of the obelisk as anything else. It is how the obelisk dials up not only the time of day, but also the time of year.

And, most importantly, the shortest shadow an obelisk will cast during any given day is when the Sun is highest in the sky — at its culmination, when it is due south in direction. In the local space grid of azimuth and altitude, this culmination is measured as either 180° azimuth or 0° azimuth. Those lines are the meridian, and in the case of Washington DC, where the latitude is well north of the Tropic of Cancer, it is always when the Sun is at 180° azimuth.

Every year is a circle of time, and has certain special days that are sure to return. Here is where we can start looking for what our Washington Monument can tell us about our place in the perceived cosmic drama.

Foundation Charts

On page 129 of Fred Getting’s excellent Dictionary of Astrology, we find this entry:

FOUNDATION CHART Term used for a horoscope cast in relationship to the founding time or date of a building, or an important reconstruction. In some cases – especially in mediaeval astrology, such charts were cast in advance, in order to encapsulate in the building an important astrological or symbolic lore…. In some cases, foundation charts have been cast in retrospect, in order to establish certain astrological presumptions, but in t general the chart is derived from “Electional Astrology”. Careful examination shows that there is no clear dividing line between what has been called ‘calendrical orientation’ and ‘foundation astrology’ in connexion with ground plans (and even symbolism) for ancient temples, churches and even non-ecclesiastical buildings….

The thing about buildings is that they do tend to reach up to the sky, into the realm of the heavens, at least somewhat. Buildings also need foundations, which reach down into the chthonic realm of the darkness of the ground. Thus, any structure, but mainly the important ones, are all anchors within the fixity of the earth that aspire to the ever-moving heavens. The profane structure becomes sacred in this regard.

The WM is no different, though it is an exceptional structure in this regard, being a literal timepiece in the center of a special district which is in it’s own way exceptional. Let us be mindful, though, that this is not a religious structure. Rather, it is a monument to the secular wisdom from which the Freemasons and their ideals crafted the nation-state. While the Constitution gives credit to a Deist “Creator,” it’s righteous empowerment derives from the accumulated wisdom and laws of humans. The obelisk and its construction draws down the heavenly perfection into our mass consciousness, and perhaps too our mass subconsciousness. The DC Code severely restricts building height, which ensures that the WM dominates the cityscape, albeit tacitly.

So, with foundations in mind, we will amble through this series of blogs about the Washington Monument, but we are going to do it from top down.

The Monument

The idea of a monument for George Washington, to be placed in the center of the Federal City, began almost immediately after his death in 1799, though there were efforts to devise a monument to GW in the immediate aftermath of the Revolutionary War. The Federal City itself was named after Washington soon after, and we now know it as “The City of Washington, District of Columbia.” (What is “Columbia”? More on that later.)

The Congress began asking for design submissions, and also funding. Eventually, a particular design was settled upon, and efforts were made to prepare the site. Their hope was to plant the monument at the very center of the city’s boundaries, which at that time was a square shape, yielding 100 square miles. (The aluminum pyramidion at the very top of the WM is said to be 100 ounces in weight, and reportedly the largest piece of aluminum – with an acceptable percentage of impurities – on the planet.)

The original was cast on November 12, 1884. A replica was cast on the 100th anniversary of that date, and is on display in Tiffany’s. It was set on top of the monument

Construction commenced in 1848, after a suitable spot was found. This ended up being a tad off-center from the original ideal of the center of the Federal City due to the ground being too marshy. The original intention was to have a cornerstone-laying ceremony on Washington’s birthday – February 22, 1848 – but that had to be postponed, and the ceremony too place on July 4, 1848.

The exterior of the monument was completed in 1885 (due to delays from the Civil War), and it was dedicated on February 21 of that year. This is the day before Washington’s birthday – February 22, 1732 (February 11, 1732 OS).

An astrology chart for the sun culminating on 02/21/1885 at DC is as follows:

Of course, they did not know about Pluto back then, but they did know about Uranus and Neptune. We see Mars and Sun in an opposition to Jupiter, Mercury conjunct Venus, and Moon conjunct Neptune. We see the Dark Moon in a conjunction with the winter solstice point of 0° Capricorn, opposite an ascendant of 26° Gemini. If we place the so-called 15 alchemical stars on an extra ring, we get:

A couple of things stand out here, notably that Luna is conjunct Algol [Alg] – Medusa’s Head. Luna is only 4° from the Pleiades [Ple]. The other item of note is Polaris [Pol], the North Star, on the Ascendant. Astrologers rarely place Polaris in charts, as it is so far away from the ecliptic, but it does have an ecliptic value. In this instance, it may be symbolic of relating the zenith of DC to the zenith of the earth.

Something interesting happens when we add our obscure-yet-important minor fixed star called “77 Leo”:

At the bottom of the wheel, we see The Part of Fortune (the circle with the X in it), which is calculated by taking the span between the Sun and Moon and then adding that to the Ascendant. In this case, the span is 81°20′ from the Sun at 03°17′ Pisces to the Moon at 24°37′ Taurus, which is added to the Ascendant of 26°00′ Gemini, giving us a Part of Fortune at 17°19′ Virgo. (The value is rounded off by the software.) Was this part of the plan? Maybe, but it also might just be happenstance. The Part of Fortune was definitely a major consideration in the contemporaneous astrology of the 18th Century.

The Pyramidion

The pyramidion atop the Washington Monument. Schemata found here.

The pyramidion rests on the frame at the 500′ mark, and extends upward the remaining 55′ of the ~555′ structure. It is basically the top 1/10 of the structure. The base of the WM is ~55′ square. Are we seeing a pattern here?

A simple pattern, surely, but, there is something a bit more cryptic in the measurements of the pyramidion. While the base of the obelisk is 55′ 1½”, it tapers off to 34′ 5½” at the 500′ level where the pyramidion rests. A quick bit of division gives us an approximation of the “Golden Mean” ϕ: 34.4583″ / 55.125″ = 0.625. ϕ is more closely arrived at with the simple 34/55 = 0.618181818… . This is found in the Fibonacci sequence of: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, and so on, where the addition of two subsequent numbers in the system give the next number: 13 + 21 = 34; 21 + 34 = 55. Clever, eh?

If we toss these numbers in a right triangle calculator, we get this, showing that the slope of the pyramidion is 72°38’37”:

The “ideal” of the 34 wide and 55 high gives us these numbers:

72°38’37” is thus the corresponding altitude the Sun would have to be at, at high noon, to match the slope. What dates are those? They correspond to the dates with Sun is in the 68th and 123rd degrees of the tropical zodiac — ~8° Gemini and ~24° Cancer, which are approximately May 28/29 and July 14/15 due to calendar jitter. (The latter dates are important, but more on that later!)

Going back to the astrology chart above for the dedication, we see that two very important stars are, at least in that epoch, conjunct the Sun those ϕ altitudes: Aldebaran @ 8°11′ Gemini, and Procyon @ 24°12′ Cancer. Furthermore, the midpoint of those two stars was very close to the 0° Cancer point, better known as the summer solstice point, which would be the day that the WM (or any obelisk north of the Tropic of Cancer) casts the shortest shadow.

Given that the fixed stars move in a prograde direction against the tropical zodiac, there would have been a year when the midpoint between Aldebaran and Procyon was precisely at the 0° Cancer solstice point, and that year was a very important year for the startup Greco-Roman-styled district: 1800 AD, the very year that the USA Congress began operations in Washington DC.

If we run a chart for that date of the first session – November 17, 1800, we find that, at about 9:32 AM, Luna is exactly aligned with Aldebaran, but at the famous opposition star called Antares:

(We also find the important fixed star Spica on the midheaven. I could devote 33 blog pages to that alone, but not now.) This Luna-Antares conjunction is actually a super-conjunction, as Luna actually occulted Antares that morning. (The occultation was not visible because it was daytime, but that’s not really important in astrology.) Here is a sky map of the occultation:

A video gif of that occultation is as follows. In it, the moon is kept at the center. Antares is the red star with connecting lines of the constellational figure. The gif starts with the Moon on the horizon, which is the horizontal white line which moves downward through the sequence, and the frames advance as the sky would for a viewer at that location:

The ascendant of the First DC Session chart (I am unsure of the exact time but I drew it up for the moment of Luna -180- Aldebaran) happens to fall in the last degree of Sagittarius, which is basically the winter solstice point. That winter solstice point was also at the midpoint of Aldebaran and Procyon, as midpoints are axes (the plural of axis, not what a guitarist plays) that can be measured as 180° apart in our astrology wheel.

Luna with Antares/Aldebaran is featured in one other important USA chart – the signing of the US Constitution in Philadelphia.

In this chart we see that the square between Sun, Black Moon and Jupiter is aligned with Polaris, finding symmetry with the WM dedication chart. It’s been this blogger’s contention for over 20 years that Ben Franklin was the astro-timer of our Declaration of Independence, and he was the guy who guided the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

What are the odds of all these chart-moments being coincidental? Not much. And there’s more. (There’s always more.) If we construct a bi-wheel for Congress’ first DC session with the dedication of the WM, we get this:

A couple of things stand out here, notably that the Moon in the dedication chart is opposite of the Sun in the First DC Session chart – a full moon between the two charts, aligned with Algol. We can also see that the Black Moon at 29°50′ is on the 29° ascendant of the First DC Session chart. If we recalculate this bi-wheel in the Fagan-Allen sidereal zodiac, we can see that Uranus has returned to its original position:

I would like to add here that the year 1800 is also 83 years on from the year 1717, in which the freemasonic Grand Lodge of England was formed. 83 years is the exact number of years of the Sun-Jupiter cycle where both bodies return to the same position in the zodiac, and indeed we find that there is a Sun/Jupiter conjunction at 13°09′ Cancer on July 5, 1800. We might conclude that the commencement of actual government activities in the Federal City was timed with that in mind; Adams moved into the still-unfinished White House on November 1, 1800, only to lose the election to Jefferson a few days later.

Back to Uranus. The orbit of Uranus can be calculated in both tropical and sidereal periods:

  • Tropical orbit period: 30,588.74 days, or 83.749 years.
  • Sidereal orbit period: 30,685.4 days, or 84.011 years.

The difference in dates from 11/17/1800 to 01/21/1885 is 30,777 days, and the difference in dates from June 24, 1717 (OS) to 11/17/1800 is 30,450. (The reason Uranus is conjunct with itself in the charts above has to do with the fact that we are measuring from the Earth, which is not the center of the solar system.) The return of Uranus in the sidereal measure is telling us that we should be looking at fixed stars in the astrology of the monument. The hopeful freemasons of 1717 had no clue about Uranus, but in retrospect from the vantage points of 1800 and 1885, they might have been hopeful for an electro-plasmic link.

A side note on the USA “Gemini Rising Chart”

In the early part of the 20th Century, an astrology chart for the “birth” of America was floating around that had Uranus near the ascendant. This chart is farcical, being cast for 2:13:32 in the morning (yes, down to the second!) when surely everyone was asleep. However, the ascendant for the chart is 7°23′ Gemini, which was very close to the epoch-1800 value for Aldebaran. So, some crafty astrologer, back in the day, thought that the USA needed Aldebaran on the ascendant, and published this chart. It was used widely by astrologers for many decades until a new (and equally farcical) chart was floated by Dane Rudhyar in the mid-1970’s. That chart is now widely referred to by the misnomer “The Sibley Chart,” as Rudhyar based his “rectification” of the chart time from his misinterpretation of Ebenezer Sibly’s famous Independence chart from about 1805:

Back to the Washington Monument and where we are at this juncture

To summarize, we have learned here that some of the astrology of the Washington Monument has elements that relate to the timing of the first session of Congress in Washington DC, the Constitution, and Speculative Freemasonry; we glean this through discovering a special arrangement of stars that are related to the slope of the pyramidion at the top of the structure. One might conclude that there was some serious astrological work going on behind the scenes through all of these dates. Such is the point of my little blog – to unpack everything and demonstrate how astrology played a big role in the USA’s creation and evolution.

The saga will continue in Part II.

– Ed

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