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New Research Questions Helen Boyd’s U.S. Chart

Helen Boyd's proposed U.S. chartNOT LONG AGO, Gary Noel dropped me a line about some new research he had done on the version of the U.S. proposed some time ago by Helen M. Boyd. Boyd’s book, The True Horoscope of the United States, is one of astrology’s unknown classics, as it not only represents an example of comprehensive library research, but also is very thorough in regard to the astrology underlying the U.S. chart she proposes. The chart itself could perhaps be put in the same category, an unknown classic, as oftentimes when you see astrologers debating the subject of the U.S. chart in print or online, you will not see the Boyd chart mentioned at all. The chart did, however, occupy some space in The Psychology of Astro*Carto*Graphy, much of which was based on a tandem lecture Jim Lewis and I did at a conference of the National Astrological Society back in 1978, about three years after the publication of Boyd’s book.This is because Jim considered it to be an important one.


For myself, at the time I found it to be much clearer than any of the viable July 4, 1776 contenders in its indications for key events in U.S. history, and in a variety of ways, i.e., through progressions and through transits, as well as through sidereal return charts. Based on my early explorations of it (aided by the fact that those rare old ephemerides were easily available to me in the American Astrology offices in Tucson where I worked), I asked Jim to do a map on it, as he had not long before started Astro*Carto*Graphy. He was unaware of Boyd’s book, and I think all I told him was that it was a proposed U.S. chart. After doing the map, he called me up, quite excited at what he saw in the map, particularly the fact that a grouping of Mars, Saturn, and Neptune prominent on the chart’s Ascendant fell on areas across the world where the U.S. had been involved many of its important wars.

According to her book, Helen Boyd’s proposed chart was based on her research into The Journals of the Second Continental Congress, as well as the so-called “secret journals” of the Continental Congress published in 1821. When Boyd was doing her work, these journals were available in many libraries, but they are now available on the Internet at the Library of Congress site, along with correspondence and diary entries from the many of the principals. This was the resource used by Noel to check Boyd out, and I suspect that not only the wealth of material available there, but also the way it was presented made it possible for him to spot some obvious problems in Boyd’s research.

In adopting the 1775 chart as the “true horoscope” of the U.S., Boyd advanced two main arguments. The first of these was the often overlooked document agreed to on July 6, 1775, styled “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North America at Philadelphia, setting forth the Cause and Necessity of their taking up arms.” This declaration was one of a number of documents produced in the days around that date, though the one most cited in history books is the “Olive Branch Petition” agreed to and signed two days later, on July 8th. Boyd refers to the July 6th declaration as a “Declaration of War,” though I can’t find it referred to in that way in any of the contemporary journals, diaries, or correspondence online. In fact, in the Journal record for that date , it is referred to as “the address to the Inhabitants of G-B” (i.e., Great Britain). It was, however, central to a watershed period during which an armed conflict already in progress was given focus and direction. In the journals, it is mentioned both as an address to the people of Great Britain and as something to be read to the troops by General Washington. In reading it, one gets the feeling that both in its content and in its intent, it served as a model for the Declaration of Independence a year later.

The second of Boyd’s arguments was directed at the use of July 4, 1776 as an important date in American history, and as the date for the U.S. chart. Her main contention here was that the Declaration of Independence was not in fact signed on that famous date, but rather on August 2, 1776. This point is simply wrong, as in fact the same case could be made in regard to the July 6, 1775 declaration if the journals are not read correctly. In both cases, it appears that the final form of the document was agreed to (and signed by the delegates) on the given dates, and it then was ordered to be “engrossed” in a final parchment copy. In both cases, the final form of the document was approved on the date of the record, and the later signing was of a cleanly lettered parchment copy made from the approved working copy. The deed was already done and public by the time the parchment copy was produced.

Thus, Boyd’s “August 2nd” argument about the July 4th chart really doesn’t wash. However, she seems to have missed a chance to point out that July 2nd should be a reasonable contender, as it was on that date that the actual resolution of independence was formally agreed to by the delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress: “Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and, of right, ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connexion between them, and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” The July 4th document is the public declaration and justification of this resolution, which is included in it in the last paragraph.

In fact, John Adams, writing to Abigail Adams on July 3rd said: “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha [sic], in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

But enough of rearguing arguments on 1776 that likely have been made before. Boyd’s fundamental mistake on the July 6, 1775 chart is about the time when it could have been signed. The problem is clear when you look at the material as it is presented on the Library of Congress site, because it is possible to read the record chronologically, with all of the pertinent material for a given period (whether from journals, secret journals, diaries, or delegate correspondence) grouped together. Boyd states that there was no debate on the declaration before it was approved on July 6th. Thus, she estimated that with a start time of 9:30 A.M. it would take an hour or so to deal with the day’s other business and then get on to approval. Because of this, she approximated the approval time as 10:30 A.M. and Brigadier Firebrace (who contributed most of the astrological material to the book) refined this to 11:00 A.M. LMT.

However, as Gary Noel points out, the record shown on the Library of Congress site (both the journal of the Congress and a letter written on that day by John Adams to William Tudor) says clearly that the day’s normal business was dispensed with so that the declaration could be debated paragraph by paragraph, and that the process took “this whole day,” to use Adams’ words. Thus, 11:00 A.M. would seem to be out of the running. Since there is nothing in the record itself in regard to the timing of the end of the session (which of course would have coincided somewhat with approval of the declaration) that allows us to fix a starting point for working out a more reasonable time, Noel opts for a time of 5:25 P.M. LMT, which leaves most of the same planets angular. Noel’s version also seems to track events in much the same way as the Boyd chart, especially in regard to transits to local angles.

Ken Irving

Gary’s original comments on his research follow:

Gary Noel's proposed U.S. chartAfter taking a closer look at the history books, I can no longer take Helen Boyd’s horoscope of America seriously. I believe she got the day right (July 6, 1775) but the Declaration on Taking Arms could not have been approved at 11 a.m. In her book The True Horoscope of the United States, she avers “It is interesting to note the Journals make no mention of argument or controversy on July 6, 1775, before ratification of the Declaration of War.” (p.ii) This is not true. The Journal of the Continental Congress says that each paragraph was debated.

The debate appears to have lasted for several hours because the Journal indicates that the order of the day was canceled. There would have been no need to do this if the Declaration had been ratified late in the morning. In a letter dated July 6, 1775, John Adams told William Tudor, “We have spent this whole day (emphasis mine) in debating paragraph by paragraph, a Manifesto as some call it, or a Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of our taking up Arms.”

I have abandoned the 11 a.m. ratification time and now use 5:25 p.m. This time places Mars in a Gauquelin plus zone and Venus in a Gauquelin minus zone, a planetary pattern indicative of a war resolution. Strangely enough, precession corrected solar returns based on the latter time will yield results similar to the former time. The difference is that planets once near Ascendant are now closer to MC and planets once near Descendant are closer to IC.

If you calculate a precession-corrected solar return for the election of 2000, you will see what I mean. The solar return based on the Boyd chart puts Saturn and Jupiter in house 12, a major Gauquelin power zone. The return based on 5:25 p.m. puts Saturn and Jupiter in house 9, also a major plus zone. If Saturn represents Democrats and Jupiter Republicans, either return would seem to indicate that the election of 2000 would be a virtual tie. Jupiter, however, is closer to an angle in both returns.

This doesn’t mean that a method for picking winners of presidential elections I described in an article in the January 2004 issue of American Astrology Your Daily Horoscope is invalid. Using the 5:25 p.m. time, the same planets are still in a major power zone except for Jupiter and Uranus now in a zone of moderate power.

The Journals of the Continental Congress and Letters of Delegates to Congress are invaluable resources for astrologers who need to determine the approximate time a resolution was ratified. They are both available on the Internet. Just put “Journals of the Continental Congress” in your search engine.

Gary Noel

[Note: See links in my text above - KI]

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