Astrology is foremost a study of celestial phenomena, and how it relates to the local world around us. It also considers things that are not phenomena, but instead purely mathematical, such as nodes and dark focal points, like the Black Moon, represented in charts with this glyph, the astrological symbol for the lunar apogee, or where the moon’s orbital path takes it furthest from the earth.:
It acts as a secondary focal point for the lunar orbit, and as such is a hidden expression of the moon. It is a point that was accurately charted in the early 18th Century by Isaac Newton via John Flamsteed’s data from the Royal Observatory, and perfected thereafter. I have included this point in this series for this reason, as it surely contributed to the electional efforts (still hypothetical, of course) in the realm.
Astrology relies firstly on accurate astronomical measurement, but how was that done in the ancient world?
To measure the location of the planets and the Moon, it was a somewhat simple effort, measuring the positions of points of light, or the disk of the Moon at night, against “fixed” referents of the night sky – fixed stars. Of these, there are two that just happened to be of a high brightness and on opposite “sides” of the zodiac – Aldebaran and Antares. If these stars were given a fiducial value, meaning a zero point, then planetary movements through the night sky could be calculated at any time of the year.
Measuring the Sun is different. Because it overpowers all other celestial lights (except the moon and Venus), it required special measurement techniques, such as the azimuthal value of risings and settings, lunar cycles, and heliacal phenomena related to fixed stars. Because the Sun’s path is highly stable and routine, the use of a certain device that will cast shadows, from which angles can be measured through triangulation, were famously devised in Egypt. Obelisks serve that purpose, and the bigger the better.
Therefore, when we find that our DC obelisk is angled specifically to the date that the Sun conjuncts Aldebaran, we can conclude with increasing confidence that this was not by accident, but instead deliberate. But, was there something about Sun and Aldebaran in 1776 that was of note?
May 27, 1776: Native Delegates Meet with the Continental Congress
It is an obscure part of the Revolution, but much energy, on both sides, went into forming alliances with native peoples. For the separatist colonials, the matter was essential, and we find that on May 27 of 1776, a major military parade was put together to entice the Iroquois federation to join the cause:
In the midst of this debate on government and independence, twenty-one Iroquois Indians came to meet with the Continental Congress in May of 1776. At the Albany Conference of 1775, the Iroquois had expressed concern about the nature of the executive in the Continental Congress. For over a month, the Iroquois would observe the operations of the Continental Congress and its president, John Hancock, as they lodged on the second floor of the Pennsylvania State House (later called Independence Hall), just above the chambers of the Continental Congress. On May 27, 1776, Richard Henry Lee reported that the American army had a parade of two to three thousand men to impress the Iroquois with the strength of the United States. “4 tribes of the Six Nations” viewed the parade, and Lee hoped “to secure the friendship of these people.” Newspaper accounts stated that Generals Washington, Gates and Mifflin, “the Members of Congress . . . and . . . the Indians . . . on business with the Congress” reviewed the troops. – Richard Henry Lee to General Charles Lee, Philadelphia, May 27, 1776 in Collections of the New York Historical Society (New York: Printed For the Society, 1868-1949), V, p. 46, Caesar Rodney to Thomas Rodney, Philadelphia , May 28, 1776 in Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates, IV, p. 99, Ibid., IV, p. 281, and Pennsylvania Gazette, May 29, 1776.
A chart for noon of that day reveals the expected Sun-Aldebaran conjunction, but once again our old friend 77 Leo sneaks into the picture with a conjunction to the Black Moon:
And while we don’t know (or at least I don’t know) much about the actual timing of this parade, we do know that this is indeed the day that the Sun conjoined yet-to-be-discovered Uranus:
Although the Colonial effort to woo native tribes to the Revolution was only marginally successful, many years later the Iroquois system of intertribal governance would inspire the federalism of the USA Constitution.
This inclusion of native tribes is seen in the famous graphic by Ebenezer Sibly from 1804, where an admittedly devalued tribal figure is seen at the cornerstone of the Federal City that George Washington is decreeing with his sword:
In closing, we now have a table for 1776 to compare to the table for 1800:
|Military Parade for Iroqouis – May 27, 1776||Sun conjunct Aldebaran|
|Adoption of Lee Resolution – July 2, 1776||Sun conjunct Sirius|
|Final draft – Decl. of Independence – July 4, 1776||Sun conjunct 1717 Grand Lodge Sun-Jupiter|
|Unanimity finally achieved – July 15, 1776||Sun conjunct Procyon|
|1800 AD values – Sun @ 180° azimuth @ DC||Sun altitude||Sun ecliptic||* ecliptic|
|Sun -0- Aldebaran – May 28||72°36′||07°02′ GEM||06°59′ GEM|
|Sun -0- Summer Solstice – June 21||74°33′||29°58′ GEM||00°00′ CAN|
|Sun -0- Procyon – July 15||72°37′||22°51′ CAN||23°01′ CAN|
But what about 77 Leo?
The minor star fits into all of this because it is the star nearest the ecliptic that rises when Aldebaran is culminant at the main latitudinal swath of Western Civilization – 41° North. Even though Regulus is a so-called “royal star,” it is not in a place on the oblique where it can ascend as Aldebaran rises.
Yes, it’s as simple as that. Or, is it? This wraps up the DC Obelisk series. Tune in next time when we go to the Iberian Peninsula in search of the 20th Century and the high stakes of current affairs.