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George Washington and the Constitution.


by Dane Rudhyar

First Published
Horoscope Magazine
February 1942

The Founders & Sustainers
of Democracy Series

In this accessible and informative article Rudhyar examines the birth-chart of George Washington and Washington's unique place in the American Myth. The article also explores the US Constitution and the forces behind its creation from an astrological angle.

ADDED 15 January 2008.

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George Washington and the Constitution.

Washington occupies a most interesting place in our history and even more in our traditions. An analysis of this unique situation has perhaps never been attempted, even though a number of studies, a few years ago, were written with the purpose of showing the "true" character and work of one whom generations of Americans have learned to venerate as the "Father of our country." Washington the man and Washington the myth are inseparable; and it would be rather meaningless to try to separate them.

Every national whole — being in a very real sense a social "organism" — must have at its origins a Personage who stands as a symbol of the unity and of the integrative forces of the nation. In older times this "Great Ancestor" of the tribe or nation became an object of worship, and his "seed," actual or fictitious, was regarded for long generations as the very core of the tribal-social organism. Today, in our democratic civilization, we frown upon such concepts and ideals; nevertheless the need for a "Root-figure," an almost sacred Personage, as a "Father" of the nation is still very strong — and logically so. Washington, the myth, satisfies that need; and because of this, it is quite unimportant to attempt to analyze with too strict an historical sense the man who became, even before his death, the standard and symbol of the original unity of the United States.

Washington, as the symbolic "Root" of our nation, has a unique place; and it would be very interesting indeed if the birth-chart of such a Personage would reveal unmistakably such a destiny. Indeed, one should expect that a comparison of the U.S.A. horoscope and Washington's birth-chart would reveal several striking points of contact. The difficulty however lies in the fact that there is still a great deal of discussion as to what is to be considered as the "U.S.A. Horoscope."

This difficulty goes deeper than a mere agreement on the time at which the Declaration of Independence was adopted. It has its roots in the fact that the United States can be considered as having a twofold character. In one sense, the United States — as conceived by a Jefferson, and even more by Thomas Paine — can be seen to be the place where a new type of social organization and of human relationship was established; as the center of radiation for and the symbol of a living Democracy truly world-wide in meaning. In another sense, the American nation may be considered as merely one nation, like any other nation, but happening to be established on the American continent.

These two conceptions of the United States obviously lead to radically different approaches to all matters of national policy. They may be said to be symbolized respectively by the Declaration of Independence — the birth-cry of democratic freedom and of the embodiment of an ideology — and by the Constitution which is a pattern for a definitely national organization, conditioned as it was by purely local interests and the state of affairs prevailing among the Colonies when they sought to establish themselves permanently as a political organism. In its deepest sense, the conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton was a conflict between the Declaration and the Constitution. Jefferson took no part either in the War of Independence or in the framing of the Constitution. Behind the august figure of Washington, Hamilton was indeed the most influential of the moving spirits in the building of the Constitution and in the establishment of a centralized and strongly "organic" national whole. The two ideals can be seen in their sharpest antagonism by considering them as symbolized respectively by Thomas Paine, the internationalist world-crusader for Democracy and for all kinds of freedom; and by George Washington, the "Father of the country."

In this study, an attempt will be made to compare the charts of Washington, of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution of the United States; and a great deal can be found of deep interest in such a comparison if one remembers the symbolic meaning of these charts.

First, a few words about Washington's birth-chart. There seems to be no doubt as to the approximate moment of the birth, as the family Bible of the Washington records it as 10 A.M. (cf. The True George Washington, by Paul Leicester Ford). On this official basis, a chart with Taurus 18° rising and Capricorn 30° on the Midheaven is given here. It does not seem, however, to fit well with the death of Washington's father when the future General was only eleven years old — obviously an event which determined greatly the structure of his destiny. I would rather suggest a chart with Taurus 27 rising and Aquarius 7 on the Midheaven. In such a chart the Sun is located in the tenth House, befitting a man who achieved such public prominence and immortality, and the meridian nearly coincides with the Moon's Nodes "axis of destiny" in the U.S. horoscope. Mars in the sixth House seems to be placed more significantly than in the seventh, suggesting among other things the smallpox markings which were conspicuous on Washington's features after he had contracted the sickness in Barbados (1751). It also befits one who achieved fame largely through military achievements. However, this is "speculative" — even though within the realm of probability, as birth moments are hardly ever recorded correctly.

Outstanding in Washington's chart is a grand trine of Mercury, Neptune and Jupiter-Pluto in air signs. Both configurations include Neptune which is approximately stationary, and if indeed it be rising, becomes thus most important, dominating also the Sun-sign, Pisces, in which Venus (ruler of the Ascendant) is located. In other words, Neptune most likely is the true ruler of the chart.

The Neptune-Pisces emphasis may puzzle students of astrology who also hold that the United States is the place where the American Age will flower and who believe in a very strong Uranian influence in the U.S.A. chart. Washington, however, should be considered as "link" between the Piscean and the Aquarian eras. I spoke of him as the "Root" of the American nation; and all "Root-forces" are conditioned by the past, for their work is to gather in and integrate the chemical elements in the soil: elements which are the remains of the past. In this sense, thus, Washington can be seen as the integrator of scattered elements which belonged to the Piscean era: as the unifier of the American Colonists. And he himself was typically a "Colonist"; that is, a seed blown away from the parent plant of Piscean English culture.

Undoubtedly he knew great internal conflicts within himself, especially with regard to collective-social ideals. Up to almost the last moment he refused to believe in the need for separation from England. Indeed, only a minority of the Colonists were for separation, at least until Thomas Paine's Common Sense crystallized the feelings aroused locally by men like Otis and Patrick Henry. Washington's chart symbolizes well this turning point of social opinion in the Colonies. Uranus balances Neptune — but his Sun is like the sword of judgment deciding the issue, and Mars is close enough to a square to the Sun to suggest violent, military action.

It should be remarked that this very same opposition of Neptune to Uranus occurred throughout the years ushering in our twentieth century; that it is present in the birth-charts of men and women who, as youths, experienced the conflicts of the Jazz Age, and who have today become, or will soon become, the leaders of our nation in a moment of choice and decision as critical as the choice and decision facing the Colonists in 1776. We are dealing here with the 164-year cycle of Neptune: with dates marked by that cycle — 1612, 1776, 1940, — (the approximate time of the foundation of the Virginia Colony, the Declaration of Independence, the present World-War and all its consequences, as yet unclear to most people).

However this may be, Washington's Cross in mutable signs (Pisces, Gemini, Sagittarius) is most revealing. His statesmanship, after the war had been won, was centered in an attempt to reconcile conflicting tendencies, particularly Jefferson and Hamilton — and Jefferson and Hamilton merely objectified the conflict within Washington himself, and within the Colonists struggling to achieve national unity on the basis of a compromise.

The history of the constitutional convention is that of a constant compromise; or we may say, of an effort to integrate opposite tendencies. Signed about noon, September 17, 1787, the Constitution has a birth-chart with Sagittarius rising — as does, I believe, the Declaration's chart. Usually the Moon is shown rising; but there is some doubt in my mind as to whether it should not really be in the twelfth House. The Moon is said to symbolize the "common people" and the Constitution was not the work, nor did it display the deeper wishes of the "common people." It was a conservative document framed by the "best people" of the land and, were it not for the addition of the "Bill of Rights" under Jefferson's influence, it could hardly be considered a "democratic" statute.

Franklin's statement at the close of the 81-day long work of the delegates, urging them to sign the Constitution as then drawn, was characteristic of the liberal minds' opinion:

"I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve; I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, because I think a general government necessary for us. I doubt, too, whether any other Constitution we can obtain may be able to make a better Constitution because I expect no better. The opinions I have had of its errors I sacrifice to the public good. Sign, and turn our future thoughts and endeavors to the means of having it well administered."

What the Constitution did to the United States, whose "representatives in Congress assembled" had once voted for the Declaration of Independence, can be seen in comparing the astrological charts of both documents. The Sun of the Constitution is exactly on the Neptune of the Declaration; the Saturn and Jupiter of the former respectively near the Moon and Mars of the latter. Mars and Uranus in the Constitution's chart conjoin respectively Venus and Mercury in the Declaration's; Neptune in the Constitution's overshadows Saturn in the Declaration's chart. The Constitution's Moon opposes the Declaration's Uranus.

On the whole, the Constitution was a rather bad deal for what the Declaration represented. The contact stresses particularly the dangerous Neptune-Mars square in the Declaration's chart and, in a sense, makes of it a set features of our national government. That square is most important for us today as it is being strongly vivified. It is really the danger zone for the United States. In the Declaration's chart it stands as an ideological danger, as a tendency to go in for an impractical and glamorous idealism which facts contradict. In the Constitution's chart, it carries the meaning of the "power politics" in the hands of the wealthy. In both cases it leads America to war and unwise associations.

However, the Declaration's chart reveals a spiritual burden of responsibility in Saturn squaring the angular Jupiter and Sun. If there is tragedy, it is an ennobling one. In the Constitution's chart, the constructive forces are stronger: but my belief is that the Moon should be correctly placed in the twelfth House, leaving Saturn-Pluto and the Part of Fortune alone in the lower hemisphere of the chart. This means integration and structural power, but in a rather dark or at least oppressive sense — specially as Saturn is so close to the Moon of the Declaration: Saturn sitting heavily upon the "common people" of the United States.

If Washington had Neptune rising and ruler of his chart, one may wonder how Neptune is there to be interpreted; also in the relation between the Declaration's and Constitution's charts. The Neptune of Washington's also conjoins the Descendant of the U.S. chart which I believe to be correct. Why Neptune? That planet in its mystical aspect has been associated with the "seamless robe of Christ"; or, as Alan Leo puts it, with the "spiritual body of the Adept." In sober fact, it is a symbol of any type of organization which does not depend upon blood-foundations, tribalism or the hereditary rights of kings and tyrants. Very likely, thus, during the Revolutionary Period it would have represented the Federal type of organization as against the more local and particularistic State-rights. It meant the organization of the Federal whole as against the intense democratic idealism of the more individualistic (and Uranian) proponents of strongly independent states.

Washington wanted above all for the United States to present a unified front to the world — a collective front. He wanted a strong Root-unity; and we find his Saturn standing on the Nadir point of the U.S. chart having Sagittarius 13° rising — that point which symbolizes indeed the Root-unity of the personality, the land and soil, and, in general, that from which stem all organic developments. And this Saturn is on a degree which, in Sabian symbolism, carries the meaning of "national avatarship." Such a meaning befits any case in which a man becomes in any way more than a mere individual, and actually a symbol, a Representative Man, a national standard.

Washington was such a man; but in saying so one must not overestimate the personality of the man himself. More important still, one should not be too general in defining the meaning of what he represented. In a sense, Washington represents the karmic destiny of the United States — which does not mean the most constructively progressive elements in the United States. With Sun in Pisces and Moon in Capricorn squared by Pluto, and even probably by Jupiter, Washington represents the substantial foundations of this country; a root and not a flowering. And if "democracy" be considered as the essence of America's contribution to the world, that contribution is not particularly to be discovered in strength either in Washington's chart or in that of the Constitution — any more than the flights of Gothic arches and the beauty of rose windows are to be discovered in the underground pillars; yet these are the requirements which make possible the soaring grace of nave and spire.

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