Mundane Astrology
The Knepf's Snake-eye

The Riddle of the Sibly Chart for American Independence:
Masonic Astrology and the Fixed Square of the Zodiac

Sibly's Delineation

The AFA cites the important passages from Sibly, describing what he is trying to impart from this uniquely symbolic chart:

"I shall in this place call attention of my reader to that remarkable era in the British history, which gave independence to America, and reared up a now empire, that shall soon or late give laws to the whole world.  The revolution carries with it something so remarkable, and the event is so important in the country, that I shall make no apology for introducing the scheme of the heavens for the spring and summer quarters of the year 1776, when this revolution happened, and for examining and explaining the same, according to the rules I have so amply laid down for that purpose.

¶  In the vernal equinox [Figures 1-b and 1-c], we find Jupiter is lord of the ascendant, and in his detriment.  Mars we find in Aries, which is the ascendant of England, strong and powerful in his own house, but under the earth.  The Moon, who represents the common people, we find under affliction, being combust the Sun; and Mars, being combust also, foreshows that poor England, through her internal strength is great and permanent, yet she will this year be accidentally afflicted and depressed; more especially as we find Mars going to an opposition of Saturn, and Saturn uncommonly strong in the midheaven, in his exaltation, and beheld by the two fortunes Jupiter and Venus; and consequently superior to Mars in power and dignity, who is under the earth and combust the Sun, though located in his own house; which in this case serves however to show the permanency and stability of Great Britain during the whole of this trying conflict.

Aries ingress London 1776
Figure 1-b

Aries Ingress Philadelphia 1776
Figure 1-c

¶  In this figure the planet Saturn is the significator of America, and Mars represents the people of Britain; as may very easily be seen by taking down the dignities of Saturn and Mars, according to the Table on page 120 of this work.  That Saturn hath the superiority of power, and that Mars and Saturn are inimical in their nature to each other, are facets too evident to be denied; and as the aspect which is about to be formed between them is a malevolent one, namely, a partile opposition, it declares the event shall be such as to cause a total and eternal separation of the two countries from each other; and that the congress, which is represented by Saturn in his exaltation, supported by the benefic rays of the two fortunes.  And since there is a remarkable reception between the two planets, Saturn and Venus, i.e., Venus in the house of Saturn, and Saturn in the house of Venus; supported by a propitious trine aspect of the three proceeding planets, occupy and possess the whole expanse of the heavens; it is hence declared, that whatever is effected under this revolution of the Sun's ingress into Aries by the Americans, shall not only be permanent and durable, but shall be supported by those three grand pillars of state - wisdom, strength, and unanimity; which are pointed out by those three planets, agreeable to their tendency and nature, viz. Saturn, strength and durability; Jupiter, wisdom and justice; and Venus, unanimity and perseverance; and their mutual trine aspect to each other, is expressive of future perfection and harmony; so that, if we attentively contemplate the above position of the heavenly bodies, we shall find no point strained, to show their natural tendency towards the good fortune and success of the Americans; and consequently the disappointment and prejudice of the British arms and administration.

¶  We shall now take notice of the time in which this extraordinary revolution should come to its crisis, or completely take place, as pointed out by the several significators in the figure.  To do this, we must equate the distance of Mars from Saturn, they being the two principal actors in the revolution.  Their distance is taken by right ascension, according to their latitude; because Mars, which is the significator of Great Britain, is within three degrees of the cusp of the fourth house.

The right ascension of Saturn is................18º52'
The right ascension of Mars is..................02º30'
Subtract, and the remainder is the
distance of Mars from Saturn....................16º22'

¶ Which arch of direction must be converted into time, by adding to it the right ascension of the Sun, as taught in the Doctrine of Nativities; by which rule we are to examine how many days the Sun takes in going that space in the ecliptic; and this being an annual revolution, with the two significators in common signs, which denote weeks, we must therefore allow for each day's motion of the Sun one week; by which it will appear that the crisis or effect of the opposition of Mars and Saturn came up in fifteen weeks and two days from the time the Sun came into the first scruple of the equinoctial sign Aries; at which time to a day the Americans declared themselves independent of the British government, and became a free state.

¶  At this time the heavenly intelligencers were posited as in the scroll presented by the hand of Fame in the annexed Plate [Figure 1]; and from whence the following conclusions naturally follow.  So many significators being posited in the fifth house, in the watery and fruitful sign Cancer, the sign or house of the Moon, with the Moon in the ascendant; and Venus, Jupiter, Sol, and Mercury, all beholding the ascendant with a trine aspect; clearly evince that the state of America shall in time have an extensive and flourishing commerce; an advantageous and universal traffic to every quarter of the globe, with great fecundity and prosperity amongst the people.  At this period we are in some measure unable to speak experimentally of the truth of this prescience; though the stars point out those particulars, with all other important incidents relative to the rise and progress of the United States, with as much certainty and precision as by the Moon we calculate the ebbing and flowing of the sea, the times and periods of eclipses, the courses and effects of comets, or any other extraordinary phaonomena, wherein nature, and the ordinations of God, the great and primary cause of all things, are at the bottom.

¶  The better to satisfy the curious in those mundane revolutions, and to enable them to draw conclusions with greater exactness, I have subjoined the figure of the Sun's ingress into the tropical sign Cancer [Figures 1-d and 1-e], which took place near fourteen days before the American declared their independence; and, what is very remarkable, Mars, who is the significator of Great Britain, is disposed of in the imum coeli by Mercury, the significator of the French king, who, when the Sun entered into Aries, the lord of the seventh house, the house of public enemies, of falsehood, and deceit.  He likewise disposes of Jupiter, lord of the ascendant at that time, which had co-signification with Mars, in representing the people of England.  From those remarkable positions and effects, we may fairly conclude, that the Americans had not only the French nation to assist them, but had many strong and powerful friends in Great Britain, who would support the cause and second the exertions of the French in establishing their independence.

Cancer ingress London 1776
Figure 1-d

Cancer ingress Philadelphia 1776

Figure 1-e

¶  It is to be noted, that, in the proceeding figure of the Sun's entrance into Cancer, Mars is found in conjunction of Venus; and, although Venus is a fortune, and declares England should not be ruined by the strong influence of Mercury, their dispositor, yet she softens and takes off the warlike courage and intrepid impetuosity of Mars, and inclines him more to warlike courage and intrepid impetuosity of Mars, and inclines him more to amity and peace than to bloodshed and slaughter.  Besides, we find the Sun, the implicative aspect of war and conquest, is in conjunction with Jupiter, who is the natural significator of peace and concord; so that the Sun's ingress in to Cancer declares that the counsels of his Britannic majesty should not prove effective, nor his arms victorious; but inclined only to push on a defensive war with the Americans, as the nature of their situation and the necessity of the times might require, though an unlimited thirst for conquest was predominant; which exactly corresponds with the situation of the heavenly ordinances at the time the Americans chose to declare their defection from the mother-country.

¶  At this time Jupiter and Venus were in conjunction, and appeared to meet as counsel with the Sun and Mercury in the celestial Crab, in that part of the heavens where she was posited at the time of the ingress.  And disposed of by Saturn, the significator of America.  Hence it will appear that if we read the history of the American war, and examine with attention the various transactions of those who were the principal actors in the business, and compare the result with what is denoted by the forgoing figures, according to the rules heretofore laid down to determine planetary influx, we shall find no difficulty in tracing every important even, with astonishing exactness and precision, that can in any shape relate to this department of the astral science."

[The foregoing is all quoted from pages 1051 to 1055, of the third edition of Sibly's work, published in 1785.]13

In a manner consistent with the astrology of his time -- in the tradition of Lilly -- Sibly incorporates the traditional mundane technique of charting solar ingresses into cardinal signs.  Sibly is quite supportive and reverent towards the "new nation" and is also a bit hostile to the monarchies of his own country as well as to France, which is in accord with much of the Masonic political philosophy of that time.  What he does not explain is how he arrives at the times, angles, and planetary positions of the July 4 chart!  For this explanation, we have to dig deeper, asking some important questions about other techniques he may have been using.  If indeed Sibly was privy to the secretive "moment" of the signing of the "D of I," why would he not use any cosmic reference to that time in his charts?  If Sibly was ignorant to the "moment," what might have caused him to choose the specific time he used? I strongly feel that he is speaking to us through what he has chosen to withhold -- information that would be obvious to those with knowledge of the Masonic astrological techniques.

Masonry was a prevalent social club during the Revolutionary period. Ben Franklin and John Hancock were members of the fraternity, along with at least 7 others who signed the D of I.  Masonry was an elite club in the larger port cities in that era, and membership to modern lodges was limited to the most prominent men in society.  Sibly's Masonic ties and astrological prowess suggest that astrology was integral to Masonry's activies.  If that same tradition was implanted in the colonies, it is a small leap to conclude that the signing of the "D of I" was timed astrologically, and timed to coincide with a special set of circumstances that were astronomically relevant -- and sacred to -- the universe of Speculative Freemasonry.

To understand this technique, we must see it against the astrological and astronomical backdrop that was traditional for Medieval Europe's operative Masonic clubs.  These developments then have to be followed into the Newtonian enlightenment, to the political ramifications of the New World, and then through the explosion of Freemasonry in Western society in the second half of the 18th Century, -- a phenomenon which has only started to wane in popular strength and importance in the past 30 years.

13 AFA, Astrological Americana, AFA Publications, Tempe, AZ, 1949, pp. 25 - 33.

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Copyright 2002 Edward Kohout. All Rights Reserved.