Mundane Astrology
The Knepf's Snake-eye
by Ed Kohout

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

Freemasonry's Cosmic Cross and the American Revolutionaries (cont'd)

Here is where we can return to Sibly for the Masonic connection that will complete the picture.  We had already discussed that Sibly's radical angles could only be drawn for London, the location of the Grand Lodge, a fact known to Rudhyar and Robson.  However, the planetary positions are those that occurred at noon over Philadelphia, as is seen in this table:

Planet Sibly Noon @ Philadelphia 7-4-76 Swiss Ephemeris data
Sol 1308' 1307'
Luna 240' 2406'
Mercury 2321' 2418'
Venus 248' 251'
Mars 2117' 2114'
Jupiter 558' 553'
Saturn 1450' 1448'
N Node 737' 736'

The positions of Sol and Luna are accurate to the tolerance of what was available to Sibly at that time.  Noteworthy is the accurate computation of geocentric Luna, which shows how good the English were with adjusting for parallax.  Notice the wide discrepancy of Mercury, which is much harder to plot when in Sol's aura, as well as Uranus' conspicuous absence, which was not at all a factor in any elective astrology of the day.

There are other astrological goodies in the Sibly chart as well.  He claims that he chose the particular angles of 19*49' AQU and 13*12' SAG as they were near to the ascendants of the two preceding solar cardinal ingress charts:

Cancer ingress @ London 1776..........ASC 16º44' Aquarius
Aries ingress @ London 1776...........ASC 8º30' Sagittarius
Cancer ingress @ Philadelphia 1776....ASC 7º34' Sagittarius

There is no doubt that the Sibly angles do occur at the site of the Grand Lodge of London once every sidereal day, but remarkable is the fact that on July 4, 1776, at London, when the ASC hit 19º49' Aquarius (9:54 PM LMT, London), the Part of Fortune (derived by taking the arc of the Sun to the Moon and then adding this to the ascendant) was conjunct Jupiter -- the eclipsed planet in the 1717 chart -- again highlighting this most favorable of planets.

Sibly angles showing Jup conj. POF
Figure 1-f Astrology wheel showing POF conjunct Jupiter on July 4, 1776, when using the Sibly angles.

AND, if we insert the same "9:54 PM" time into a Philadelphia chart, we find Luna exactly on the Ascendant on the cusp of Pisces!

Luna on ASC over Phili
Figure 1-g Chart for Philadelphia using the 9:54 time, showing Luna rising.

I find Luna's cuspal position rather fascinating. Did the Freemasons have a notion that they were perhaps entering the "age of Aquarius," which is defined as the vernal equinox moving from Pisces to Aquarius?

Finally, what are we to make of the "10:10 PM" time cited by Sibly, when, above, 19º49' Aquarius is shown rising some 16 minutes earlier?  Knowing he has placed Philadelphia planets in a London grid, does he mean Philadelphia time or London time?

John B. Earley felt strongly that this time was local Philadelphia time, as evidenced in his pamphlet.  But we have no way of knowing whether he knew of the Sibly chart or not; he makes no mention of it.  Earley claims to arrive at the 10:10 PM time via a copy of an ephemeris from 1776, in the margin of which was written (allegedly by the owner), "July 4, 10:10 PM, American Independence signed," with the planetary positions of that date underscored in purple ink.27  It is possible that the ephemeris' original owner had access to the Sibly data, and that this was not obvious to Earley who then rectifies his time to 10:04 PM, placing 4º of Pisces on the ascendant:

Scan of Earley's published chart
Figure 1-h Scan of Earley's published chart from 1914. The Ascendant is 409' Pisces, and the MC is 1550' Sagittarius.

A current calculation would show that Luna rose "in mundo" (attained 0º altitude) over Philadelphia on that day at this minute of LMT:

Earley's Luna rising in mundo

Figure 1-i Sky map of Earley's Luna rising in mundo.

This chart boasts mutual reception between Luna and Jupiter, while the stellium in Cancer is trine to the ascendant - of which Earley sings praises: "No other astronomical figure could be erected for the twenty-four hours of July 4, 1776, that would so truly symbolize the marvelous growth and expansion of the country as does this map."28  

Did Earley do the proper math?  Surely he wanted Luna rising, but shouldn't he have added four minutes instead?  What are the special mundane characteristics of Luna on that date?  She is conjunct Iota Aquarii, in square to the Pleiades, and thus also in square to the original 1717 Luna that was conjunct the Pleiades.  The Pleiades are prominent in other important Masonically-influenced political charts.  Interestingly, New York City is astronomically tied to Giza cartographically via the Pleiades; as Alcyone culminates over Manhattan, it sets in mundo at Giza.

The Inauguration of George Washington in 1789 finds the cluster culminant as well.29  The date, April 30,  was the Pagan celebration of "Beltane," and was originally based upon the Sun's annual conjunction to the Pleiades, marking the beginning of springtime.30  

Some years later, the granting of Congressional authority for Thomas Jefferson to take possession of the Louisiana Purchase saw Luna occulting the Pleiades,31 on the day that is the calendrical counterpart to Beltane - Halloween, October 31, 1803.  

Big Ben in London first rang during Luna's occultation of the Pleiades32 as well; the works were still not complete, and the bell was silent for some time afterward, suggesting that things were hurried in order to fit the astrological event, rather than a more practical time frame that allowed the clock to keep running uninterrupted.

Looking to Sibly's chart, we have to take into account the meaning of "PM" in an 18th century context.  "Local Mean Time," or LMT, was a new innovation at that time.  Before that, time was reckoned by "apparent" means, usually the Sun passing over the local meridian to what is called "high noon."  By this method, "noon"  on July 4, 1776, occurred at 12:04 PM by our modern standards of "mean time" at Philadelphia.  Therefore, if we add the 4 minutes to Sibly's 10:10 PM, we would get 10:14 PM, and at that moment over London, the fixed star Regulus is exactly setting in mundo with an altitude of 0º, while iota Aquarii is rising silmultaneously.

iota Aquarii rising as Regulus sets
Figure 1-j Skymaps of London for 10:14 PM LMT, showing iota Aquarii rising while Regulus sets.

Of course, Regulus in the astrological traditions of the West signifies royalty, and more specifically the king.  Regulus setting could therefore symbolize the demise of the King of England, George III, at least in the colonial theater.  

It's important to note that Regulus is one of the four stars that mark the zodiacal "square" of constellational Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, and Taurus, mentioned in the Bible as the Lion, Ox, Eagle, and Man.  In the rituals of Royal Arch Masonry, these four symbols are emblazoned on banners for the initiate.  In terms of the zodiac and ecliptic, Regulus, the Pleiades, Graffias, and an unnamed star in Aquarius called "iota Aquarii" are almost evenly spaced at 90º.  Due to precession, these stars are all near the cusps of tropical Virgo, Gemini, Sagittarius and Pisces, respectively, but at the time of the Carolingian Renaissance, they occupied the midpoints of the zodiac's cardinal points:

Star 2000 AD 800 AD
Pleiades (eta Taurii) 00º00' Gemini 13º17' Taurus
Regulus (alpha Leonis) 29º50' Leo 13º12' Leo
Graffias (beta Scorpii) 03º11' Sagittarius 15º17' Scorpio
Iota Aquarii 28º43' Aquarius 11º49' Aquarius

It is easy to see that these stars occupied the mid-quarter points in the 9th Century, which was a crucial age for the consolidation of stellar and cosmological practices in Western Europe as a direct result of the Carolingian Renaissance.  It was easy to observe solstical events by measuring the shadows of the Sun and, from that, the equinoxes, but it was not as simple to measure the halfway points between these cardinal solar transits.  Noting when the above stars culminated at midnight would enable the observer to help reckon the calendar and ensure that the proper festivals were celebrated on the proper days.  These dates corresponded to May 2nd/3rd (The Conception), August 4th/5th (St. Oswald), November 1st (All Saints) and February 1st (St. Brigit) of the Roman Julian calendar, as well as the Celtic festivals of Beltane, Lughnasa, Samhain and Imbolc, respectively.:

Star Celtic Festival Christian Feast
Pleiades (eta Taurii) Beltane Conception of the Virgin Mary
Regulus (alpha Leonis) Lughnasa St. Oswald
Graffias (beta Scorpii) Samhain All Saints
Iota Aquarii Imbolc St. Brigit

Our current unofficial festival called "Groundhog Day" is a bastardization of the pagan mid-winter observation, as is May Day the remnant of the original Beltane, when the Sun was conjunct the Pleiades.  Halloween is similarly derived from the acronychal rising of the Pleiades, and the festival of Samhain.  

Olcott, in his "Star Lore of All Ages," hints at the Masonic importance of Regulus, "Leo is for many reasons significant to Masons.  In the four Royal Stars, the four great Elohim, or Decans, gods ruling the signs, were believed to dwell.  The four decans who ruled the four angles of the heavens were the most important and most powerful.  

"To these four stars divine honors were paid, and sacred images were erected in which the Lion, Eagle, Ox, and Man were variously combined.  These figures on the Royal Arch Banner, and the Royal Arch itself are best exemplified by the appearance of the constellations themselves, and Leo, typical of strength, is at the very summit of the Arch at low twelve [midnight] on Feb 5th..."33

They were cardinal markers of the tropical zodiac in the 25th Century BC, which was around the time that the pyramids in Egypt were completed, of which the greatest monument to masonry stands to this day, the Great Pyramid of Giza.  Another clue to this connection may be Mars' conjunction to the "Great Pyramid" star in Orion's belt, "Alnitak," by ecliptical longitude, in the D of I chart.  This is digressing from the Sibly focus, however.

Returning to Sibly, concurrently with Regulus setting, the fixed star "iota Aquarii," also known as "33 Aquarius" in Flamsteed's catalog, is rising, as was stated earlier; this particular star was occulted by Luna on that very day as seen from the latitudes of 40 degrees North, again a nod to the astro-mathematical prowess of the English.  This occultation occurred as it transited the local nadir of Philadelphia.  Iota Aquarii, being opposite of Regulus and in Aquarius, would signify "the people" and the forces against the Monarchy.  

Luna occulting iota Aquarii
Luna occulting iota Aquarii
Figures 1-k and 1-l Luna occulting iota Aquarii as it passes the nadir under Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, at about 3:06 PM LMT.

And, this occultation was a lunar return of the June 7 occultation of that same fixed star on the very day that Freemason Richard Henry Lee submitted his Resolution Proposing a Declaration of Independence!  This occultation did occur while the Moon was above the horizon, but was not visible as its duration was during the daytime, from 9:08 AM until 10:08 AM, with the occultation setting below the western horizon at about 10:01 AM.  Geodetically, as iota Aquarii sets at Philadelphia, Spica [alpha Virgo] rises over London.  Again, these coincidences points to a premeditated set of events planned around Masonic astrology.

Skymap of Lee's Resuloution for a Declaration of Independence.
Figure 7 Luna occulting iota Aquarii over Philadelphia on the morning that Freemason Richard Henry Lee submitted his Resolution for a Declaration of Independence.

It makes sense that the Masons believed in an empowering occulting Luna, as Luna also signifies "the people" in a mundane context - doubly so when occulting iota Aquarii on both June 7 and July 4, 1776.  Luna, as symbolic of the masses, is in direct proportion to the Sun being symbolic of the Lord, or the King, to whom the masses should reflect his light; the full moon is the epitome of that symbolism, although in later times it was said to give rise to popular unhappiness with the monarchy or leadership.34  Therefore, the final and culminating key to Sibly's riddle is in the position of Luna.  If we take the 10:10 PM time to be drawn at London, we instead find Luna rising, or at least Luna's ecliptical degree rising.  In addition, if the Penfield time is indeed precise, we would find that Luna, relocated to the Great Pyramid, is again on the ascendant.  Considering the advances made in determining longitude in the later half of the 18th Century, this synchronistical relocational design is not improbable.

The other fascinating relocational aspect of Sibly's "10:10 PM" time is when we use it as Earley did, as the local time for Philadelphia.  If we relocate that chart to London, we find Jupiter and Venus rising, as seen in the following sky chart (Figure 7):

View of rising Jupiter and Venus @ London
Figure 1-m Eastward view over London at 10:10 PM Philadelphia time of Jupiter and Venus rising

If we take the Penfield time of 2:20 PM (within a minute or two) as the historically proper time, and I think it is, we would find that the ascendant and descendant of that chart, 9º Scorpio/Taurus, fits in nicely with the Sun's transit of these points every year on November 1st and May 1st, thus activating the chart on the Pagan Pleiadian festival dates.  Perhaps it is no accident that Federal elections are always held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, thus ensuring that the national decisions are cast after Sol is safely transiting the first house?  McCluskey has traced the codification of "All Saint's Day" to the festival of Samhain as a product of Carolingian efforts.35

Lastly, one of the paragons of Freemasonry was its lack of discrimination to brothers of different religious denominations.  Brothers from any strain of Christianity, and eventually Jews and non-Judeo religions were allowed into the lodge, provided that they professed a belief in the one God who created the universe.  These concepts found their way into our Constitution in the innovative concept of "separation of church and state."  Thus, what was "sacred" in European realms would have to be redefined in the New World.  Secular and Sacred lines were drawn, but for Masonry in America, nation-building, and then the building of the nation's capitals, courthouses, and monuments, would be kept a metamorphosis of the sacred, and thus subject to astronomy and sacred geometry.  Freemasons, like the Knights Templars before them, were an international group that was above the political boundaries of Europe's monarchies.  The situation was similar in 18th Century America, where entangling interests that originated in Europe had been difficult to reconcile with existing models of statehood.  New common ground was desperately needed to alleviate these tensions, and Freemasonry was best suited to handle the task.  


Central to the Masonic pseudo-sacred ceremonial event was an astronomical intelligence deemed necessary to cement political allegiance to the cause for independence.  This intelligence was preserved in the traditions of the cross-cultural and anti-monarchial Freemasons.  Sibly, in his most eloquently crafted symbolic chart, defines the very soul of what Freemasonry's aims are, as well as how and why they were manifested in the revolution of America - a nation that he asserts "will soon or late give laws to the whole world."  This is quite a statement to make about thirteen colonies that were at best a meager outpost of the larger English realm.  There is no question that the elective astrology that determined the USA's conceptual moment in history was inspired by the Freemasons of New England that were beholden to the Grand Lodge of London, and Sibly invokes the astrological backdrop of Masonic neo-secularism to show that the new nation was borne from within the traditions of the Freemasons, and was perhaps created to serve the ultimate designs of the craft itself.

However, it is somewhat obscure as to whether Sibly was giving out the "time" of the Declaration of Independence, and thus presenting a "birth chart" for the nation.  If he was indeed privy to the actual time of the signing, it surely was through Masonic circles; if this was the case, it would be hard to dispute this time, and we would do well to use it.  It is likely that the Freemasons who were searching for a propitious time to empower their new political entity called the "United States" might have seen his time as perfect for a thumping astro-symbolic volley.  If Sibly was not aware of the precise "moment," we can still glean much from his efforts as to what was astrologically important to the Freemasons.  

With his astrological genius, Sibly wrapped a series of charts, elements, histories, and symbols into one cryptic map that, once deciphered, enlightens us to a rich history of Masonic cultivation of the social structures that helped to shape America, for better or for worse.  It is quite remarkable that Sibly was able to predict the USA's rise to world dominance some 150 years before the end of World War II:  "...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....  a new empire that shall soon or late give laws to the whole world."  I wonder who else was as hopeful as Sibly in 1780!

A special thanks goes out to astrologer Michelle Young, who helped make this essay more comprehensible, grammatically correct, and ultimately more readable.

27 Earley, p. 1.
28 Ibid.
29 Historical Magazine, 3 (1859), p. 184.  Source gives the time of his Inauguration as 1:00 PM.  Other sources have given times as early as 12:45 PM.  George Bush gave a speech in 1989 to mark the 200th anniversary of the occasion, and his remarks began at 12:53 PM, according to the Bush Presidential Library.  A congressional party did meet Washington at his mansion at 12:30 to escort him to the Federal Hall, and the 1:00 PM time would allow for the journey, which stopped for a 13-gun salute along the way.
30 Many sources are available for this, most recently Bernadette Brady's Fixed Stars, pp. 237 ff., as well as Olcott, pp. 407 ff, and R. H. Allen's Star Names, pp. 391 ff.
31 October 31, 1803;
32 May 31, 1859.
33 Olcott, William Tyler, Star Lore of All Ages, 1911, (Kessinger Publications, Montana, USA, reprint), pp. 234-235.
34 William Lilly said of Luna, "She signifieth queens, countesses, ladies, all manner of women; as also the common people..." Christian Astrology, 1647.
35 McCluskey,  pp. 63 - 64.

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Mundane Astrology

Copyright 2002 Edward Kohout. All Rights Reserved.