Mundane Astrology
The Knepf's Snake-eye

The New York Stock Exchange and Masonic Astrology

Historical Background of the Masonic Influence of the NYSE Astrological Chart

Three years and 17 days after George Washington was inaugurated first President in lower Manhattan, a group of 24 investment "bankers" met under a buttonwood tree and created the New York Stock Exchange by simply agreeing in a gentlemanly arrangement to only trade with one another.   This simple agreement grew into the largest capital market the world has ever known.  The NYSE has a reverence for this moment with a folksy ethos akin to some neighborhood pals getting together to share their snowblowers, but the reality is that these men were of the higher genteel class of the nation's second-largest metropolitan seaport; in comparison to today's standards, this meeting would have been between Donald Trump, Charles Schwab, Paul Volker, Warren Buffet, Martha Stewart and Michael Jordan.

We tend to forget that New York in those days was the Capital of the USA, the seat of government, experiencing rapid economic and population growth spruned by a new prosperity and new frontiers of not only wealth, but also political power.

We should not, therefore, be surprised to see a similar aristocratic astrological tradition being used in both the formation of the new Federal government and this new tool of Capitalism.  The former makes the world safe for the latter, and it would have been unthinkable to not consult the astrological tea leaves of the mighty brotherhood of Free Masons to bless this new foundation: just as the Inauguration of George Washington was timed to coincide the the culmination of the Pleiades on the eve of the feast of Beltane, so was the buttonwood pact to take place on a day when the Sun was conjunct the Pleiades' chief star Alcyone at sunrise - conjunct to the very minute of arc!

Sun/Alcyone sunrise
Figure 1 Astrology wheel which shows that the Sun and Alcyone were ecliptically exactly conjunct at the moment of sunrise at New York City on May 17, 1792, the morning of the Buttonwood Agreement that gave birth to the NYSE.

Sun/Pleiades sunrise skymap
Figure 2 Skymap that shows the eastern sky at sunrise on May 17.

Sun/Pleiades skymap closeup
Figure 2-a Closeup of Figure 2 with a black background.

Why the Pleiades? What could this revered cluster of stars have to do with trading stocks? Aside from being in Taurus, the fixed earth sign associated with material possessions, ownership, and money, what would make this cluster of faint stars more desireable than Taurus' brightest and chief star Aldebaran?

Engraving of Taurus
Figure 3 A popular 19th century engraving of the constellation Taurus, naming 10 stars in the Pleiades, located in the neck of the bull.

To answer this question thoroughly would mean delving into the anals of the histories of the earliest known astronomically-aware peoples, as the Pleiades captured the imaginations and passions of the great civilizations and their myth-makers.  With the NYSE crowd, however, we can hone in on the post-enlightenment neo-religious belief systems of the Freemasons, who saw the Pleaides as a geophysical gateway to their own origins, or what they believed to be their own origins, in the megalithic wonders of ancient Egypt and the earliest stone masons.

The Pleiades operate on many symbolic levels simultaneously due to the integration of the varied cultures that made up the transnational and multi-ethnic fraternity from its earliest days.  What may be the commonality between the different traditions is the Pleiades' connection to the return of warmer temperatures to the northern climes, temperatures that allowed life to rebound, and the air to be filled with that distinctive smell of chlorophyl, that "sweet" smell that would end up defining the magical cluster of stars in both literature and astrological lore.

At the time Charlagmane was was to consolodate vast portions of Europe 1200 years ago, the Pleiades could be measured at the center of tropical Taurus, and thus represented the half-way point of the Sun's passage from 0º Aries to 29º Gemini, or what we now call "spring."  These solar transits of the middle of fixed signs were celebrated in the centuries leading up to and including the medieval period with festivals and merriment, and in most regions were considered to be seasonal markers.  When we read Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream," he is really speaking of the Sun's ingress to Cancer, the day we now consider to the the beginning of "summer," as opposed to the beginning of August 45 days later that we today would consider to be the middle of "summer."

If the Pleiades marked the return of life and the middle of Taurus, so did other stars mark the remaining three seasons, as well as the centers of other fixed signs:

Star 2000 AD 800 AD
Pleiades (eta Taurii) 00°00' Gemini 13°17' Taurus
Regulus (alpha Leonis) 29°50' Leo 13°12' Leo
Graffias (beta Scorpii) 03°11' Sagittarius 15°17' Scorpio
Iota Aquarii 28°43' Aquarius 11°49' Aquarius

This fixed star grand cross, or square that marked the fixed astrological signs became entrenched in the nomenclature of the agrarian and religio-political classes that inhabited Europe.  The brotherhood of Freemasons took these ideas to certain extremes by adopting them into their initiation rites along with other astrological principles that are still considered mainstream today.  

Quoting some important passages from Brown's Stellar Theology and Masonic Astronomy, the symbolic importance of the Pleiades is evident:


Q:  To what does the masonic emblem of the seven stars allude?

A:  To the Pleiades, or seven stars in Taurus.  These stars were called by the Romans Vergili, or Virgins of Spring.  The constellation Taurus was anciently at the vernal equinox, and the year formerly then began.  Thus Virgil, referring to a remoter age, in the "Georgics," Book I, says:

"Candidus auratis aperit cum
Cornibus annum taurus."

"When the bright bull with gilded horns opens the year."

Job speaks of the Pleaides, also, as exerting "a sweet influence," expressive of the balmy air of spring which accompanies the approach of the sun to the constellation Taurus and the "seven stars."  This masonic emblem, therefore, has a direct allusion to the vernal equinox, and thus becomes a beautiful symbol of immortality, reminding us, also,, of that starry home beyond the grave to which the soul of man aspires.  It was for these reasons that, of all the "hosts of heaven," the Pleiades were selected as an emblem by our ancient brethren.1


Ladder of three rounds to Pleiades

Figure i

Q:  What is the signification of the ladder of three rounds, and why is it represented as leading up to the "seven stars," or the Pleiades?

A:  This emblem is clearly but a modification of the latter of the Mysteries, consisting, as we have seen, of seven rounds - and is of the same general astronomical meaning.  The sun, when ascending from the winter solstice to the vernal equinox, the constellation Taurus, and the Pleiades, or seven stars, situated therein, passes successively through three signs of the zodiac, to wit, Aquarius, Pisces, and Aries.  These three signs are therefore emblematically represented by a ladder of three principal rounds, by means of which the sun climbs up from the point of his lowest southern declination to the vernal equinox and the "seven stars" in Taurus.  The foregoing is the emblem of the masonic ladder as generally represented.

The diagram following will show how perfectly the explanation of its meaning, as given above, agrees with all the facts of astronomy, and how significant and beautiful the emblem is when thus considered.


Ladder of three rounds on the zodiac to Pleiades

Figure ii

The emblematic meaning now attached to the masonic ladder, which refers it to the one "Jacob saw in his vision," is neither lost nor sacrificed, even if we admit the probable origin of the emblem in that of the ancient mysteries.  Its symbolism is, however, thus made more extended and impressive, so that we gain rather than lose by so referring it.

The initiation into all the ancient mysteries, it will be remembered, was a drama founded upon the astronomical allegory of the death and resurrection of the sun, and was intended to, and did, impress upon themind of the candidate, in the strongest manner possible, the two great doctrines of the unity of God and the immortality of man.

These are today the two great fundamental principles of Freemasonry, and are illustrated and taught ina similar manner in the ritual of the third degree.

The solar allegory and emblems of the ancient mysteries have, however, a twofold meaning:

1) Being founded, as before stated, on the passage of the sun among the twelve constellations of the zodiac - his overthrow by the three autumnal months, his return to life at the vernal equinox, and his exaltation at the summer solstice oo they therefore taught and illustrated all the leading principles of astronomy, and thus had an important scientific value to the initiated.

2) By personifying the sun, and requiring the candidate to represent him, the whole solar phenomena were exhibited in an allegorical manner, and became symbolical of the unity of God and the immortality of the soul.  The ladder of the Mysteris, being but an emblem intended to illustrate the main solar allegory, had the same twofold symbolism.

Whe full explained to the initiated, it fixed upon the mind certain great facts in astronomical science.  It taught the order and position of the signs of the zodiac; the ascent of the sun from the point of his lowest declination below the equator to that of his highest above it, by seven equal gradiated steps.  It also taught the duration of and order of the seasons, the length of the solar year, and many other particulars of the greatest importance ot agriculture, as well as to science and art generally.

The emblem, viewd in an allegorical sense, also taught, by solar analogy, the unity of God and the life everlasting.  The ladder in this sense was the emblem of the ascent into heaven from the lower hemisphere - the underworld of darkness, winter, and death.  This mystic ladder leads to the "seven stars," or the Pleiades, shining in the constelation Taurus, at the golden gates of spring.  It mounted still onward and upward, to the summint of the Royal Arch of heaven, thus emblematically teaching us that by the ladder of virtue the soul of man will at last pierce the "cloudy canopy," and mount to the highest circle of "the starry-decked heavens," to dwell for ever triumphant over death and the grave.2

Thus, it is logical that the Pleiades as a Masonic symbol in America is as old as the craft's beginnings on this continent due to its importance in the old country.  It was only a matter of years after 1717 that Speculative Masons, later called "Moderns," were setting up shop in Boston and the Carolinas.  Masonic aprons, engravings, and other paraphanalia were emblazoned with a grouping of 7 stars, and this practice continues to this day (see Figure x).  As discussed in the Sibly treatise, the chart for the Grand Lodge of London boasts the Moon conjunct the Pleiades.  


Figure 4  Modern glassware depicting the Pleiadic symbolry. (taken from Béresniak's Symbols of Freemasonry.)

Geodescy and Cardinal Points that Link New York City to the Great Pyramid

The most important aspect of why the Pleiades would be of special importace to those in New York City rests with mundane geometric and astro-cartographic considerations.  It is a well-known fact that the Great Seal of the United States boasts a pyramid with a missing capstone.  However, it is not common knowledge that the model for this pyramid - the Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza - was designed to align with the Pleiades as a celestial marker of the inner passageways' slopes.

Measurements of the Great Pyramid in Egypt at Giza have revealed that a set of scored lines in the descending passage align with the Pleiades, specifically Alcyone, for the year of 2141 BC at noon of the spring equinox, when the Pleiades were near to the "0hr" line of right ascension and equator of the equatorial sphere, or basically 0° Aries.  The entrance chamber's opening is angled to the pole star Thuban's lower culmination, and thus it is safe to say that both stars were used as celestial markers to align the structure's inner chambers.3  Perhaps these facts have garnered the thought that the seven chambers of the pyramid represent the seven stars of the Pleiades; however, the concept of seven-foldness could represent other constellations, the number of planets plus luminaries, or some other numerology, or all aspects of the mystical "7."

diagram of the northern passages in the Great Pyramid
Figure 5  Diagram showing the scored lines aligned with the Pleiades (taken from Lemesurier's Great Pyramid Decoded.)

The above sets the backdrop for the Pleiades' astro-cartographic connection of the two locations of New York and Giza.  First, some explanation of "cardinal points" and the "equinox."  Masonic symbolry and ritual is dependent upon the concept of cardinal points, which are technically segments of 90 degrees of a circle.  The heavens are measured using three different spheres, and each sphere has its own set of cardinal points:

1) Cardinal points on the ecliptic are measured as 0º of Capricorn, 0º Aries, 0º Cancer and 0º Libra.  

2) Measured as right ascension, or the earth's equator projected out into space, 0º Aries becomes 0h, 0º Cancer becomes 6h, 0º Libra becomes 12h, and 0º Capricorn becomes 18h, with the "h" meaning "hours," as the earth takes 24 hours (6 x 4) to complete one rotation.

3) Measured as "azimuth," these points are 0º, 90º, 180º, and 270º.  This translates in astrology to the Imum Coeli (IC), Ascendant (ASC), Midheaven (MC), and Descendant (DSC).  Azimuth is always measured with "altitude," which is basically up and down; the horizon is always 0º altitude, no matter which direction we face, and straight up is always +90º, while straight down is always -90º.

Masonic ritual often refers to the meridian, or the north-south plane.  No matter where one is standing, or what time of day it may be, the meridian is always given the measure of 180º facing south, and 0º facing north.  

The ascendant and descendant represent the plane of the horizon that intersects the ecliptic as seen by the observer at his specific location on the surface of the Earth.

Because the Earth is a sphere, different observers at various locations on the globe will see a different veiw of the sky at any given moment.  Thus, it is possible that that as one person sees a star setting on the horizon at one location it can be seen by another person as culminating at that second location.  This is indeed the case with Alcyone at the locations of New York and Giza  -- when Alcyone culminates over New York, it is exactly setting at the Great Pyramid, as seen in the next two skymaps:

Washington Inauguration skymap
Washington Inauguration skymap closeup
Figures 6 & 6-a  The Pleiades culminates (attains 180º Azimuth) over New York during George Washington's Inauguration on April 30, 1789

Washington Inauguration @ Giza skymap
Washington Inauguration @ Giza skymap closeup
Figures 7 & 7-a  The Pleiades sets (touches the horizon, attains 0º Altitude) at the Giza Pyramids as George Washington took the oath of office.

Alcyone, 12:58:38 LMT, New York City:
@ New York.....Azimuth....180º00'00"
@ Giza.........Altitude.....0º03'57"

This evidence suggests that like the Washington Inauguration, the Buttonwood Agreement was commenced at high noon on May 17, 1792, perhaps with the knowledge of New York's geodetic connection to Giza via the secret knowledge of the Freemasons.  This also explains rather nicely the origins of the slang terminology for a market that is increasing in value...the "bull market," which is in reference to Taurus the bull!

A "bear market," or one that is decreasing in value due to more sellers than buyers, surely is related to the constellation of the Great Bear, better known to us as the Big Dipper.  Although the Big Dipper is not opposite of Taurus in the sky, it is associated with Scorpio for the simple fact that when the Sun passes through Scorpio, the Big Dipper can be seen reaching its highest elevation in the sky at sunrise,  This phenomena occurs during the time of year when the sun is decreasing declination and the daylight is rapidly decreasing in duration.  The Great Bear, during the nights in October and November, can be seen to crawl (or should I say claw!) up from just above the horizon to its highest altitude by daybreak, at a time of the year when the nighttime darkness lasts longer than the daytime sunshine.  Conversely, when the Sun is in Taurus, the Great Bear will be seen as descending during the nights that are becoming shorter than the daytime.  

Interestingly, the crashes of 1929 and 1987 both occurred when the Sun was in Scorpio, and the second-worst bear market of the last century, in 1973/74, began in earnest in November of 1973, and did not begin recovering until January of 1975, after a second plunge in November of 1974.

What seems to matter most, though, is that the greatest markets in the world were blessed with the underpinnings of Masonic stellar craftsmanship -- small consolation for the majority of investors who have seen thier bull market gains dissolve after the bear's long hibernation in the mid and late 90's. Masonry's view of the world is, thankfully, cyclic. The markets will surlely spring back to bullishness in due time.

1 Brown, Robert Hewitt, "Stellar Theology and Masonic Astronomy," D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1882; p. 51.
2 Ibid, pp. 54-5.
3 Lemesurier, Peter; "The Great Pyramid Decoded," Element Books, London, 1977, pp. 46 - 48.

Mundane Astrology

Copyright © 2002 Edward Kohout. All Rights Reserved.