The Birth of the United States
as a Collective Person
In the chapters that follow I shall present the astrological reasons
for my belief that such a chart not only characterizes strikingly well the fundamental features of the American temperament and way of life, but also that it has proven eminently valuable in revealing and interpreting the main phases of the historical development of our nation during the two centuries of its existence. But before this is undertaken it seems essential that I discuss matters which cannot be ignored whenever we deal with a process of birth.
Birth is the emergence of a new entity asserting its will to live within a world crowded with a myriad of other entities. All these entities constitute his actual environment in space. The newborn has to be related, passively or actively, to all that this environment includes, at the psychic and mental as well as the physical level. Thus if we wish to understand what happens to this newborn, and what conditioned its biopsychic formation and its acquiring a particular name symbolizing in a social sense its identity as a person, we have to consider at least the fundamental character of its physical and sociocultural environment, and the set of beliefs and traditions that this environment imposes upon the growing child.
There is also another kind of environment, one which refers to the timing of the birth in relation to a multiplicity of cyclic processes which had begun before the birth-moment. These cyclic processes underlie what we call "history." They beat the rhythm of the march of civilization. They also provide frames of reference enabling the astrologer to give specific meanings to the positions of the planets at the moment of birth. For instance, to be born with the Sun at Aries 1° has meaning only because we refer this zodiacal position (the Sun's celestial longitude) to the cycle of the solar year. If at the same time the Moon is located at Cancer 1°, it is in square to the Aries Sun. More significant still, it is waxing and in its first-quarter phase — that is, its position has to be referred to the cycle defined by successive conjunctions of the Moon and the Sun, which establish a "lunation cycle," lasting some thirty days.(7
There are also much larger cycles to consider if we want to understand the place a birth occupies in historical time, and therefore
the function the newborn is meant fulfill in the wide world of man's evolution — his purpose, or destiny. The longer the life span of the newborn entity, the more relevant are larger cycles, such as the precession of the equinoxes, the cycle of conjunction of Neptune and Pluto, and that of Jupiter and Saturn. If we study the birth chart of a person born under particularly binding socioeconomic circumstances and with a genetic heredity sharply limiting his capacities, we may not need to consider the larger planetary cycles, though these affect his entire generation and his society; but when we deal with the birth of a nation, it is essential that we look at the birth chart from a far-reaching vantage point. It is an historical birth; the whole history of civilization inescapably constitutes its background, its "time-environment."
The place in the historical and evolutionary process at which the United States of America was born as a collective person able to, relate to the rest of mankind is of particular importance because, in the minds of most of the founders of the American nation, this birth was thought to mark the beginning of a new era in human affairs. I have already quoted Thomas Paine's glowing words: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." These words are echoed in the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States where we see under the "unfinished pyramid" the motto Novus Ordo Seclorum
— A new order of the centuries — and the date for this beginning, also inscribed on the Seal, is 1776, the year of Destiny.
For a study of the lunation cycle and its soli-lunar phases, see
my The Lunation Cycle
(Shambhala Publications, Berkeley, California). Return
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