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Washington is a unique city in that a major component of its original design is based on astrology, according to author David Ovason in his book The Secret Architecture of Our Nation’s Capital, published by Harper Collins.

Aligned with the Stars

Ovason suggests that Washington’s planners followed the teachings of the ancient Greek and Egyptian mysteries by aligning the city with a constellation’s fixed stars. His well-researched book explores the mystery of the 1791 planning of the city’s Federal Triangle, consisting of the Washington Monument, White House and Capitol building and their alignment with the three main stars of the constellation Virgo.

On August 10, 1791, the three fixed stars Arcturus, Regulus and Spica rose at sunset, forming a celestial triangle, and the city’s Federal Triangle was engineered to mirror the constellation’s pattern. Why fixed stars? They appeared to be permanent, therefore suggesting stability and spiritual benevolence, desirable traits when constructing a powerful institutional setting. “A sunset leading to the rise of three stars is rare,” Ovason writes, “And a city’s alignment with it is unique.”

Virgo Symbols in the Nation’s Capital

The designers’ choice to link Virgo with the capital indicates that they may have had a mystical intention to establish balance between the masculine and feminine. Ovason cites the numerous images of a beautiful woman holding a sheaf of grain, the symbol for Virgo, appearing on the nation’s architectural decorations. This woman, the virgin, is the only female character in the entire zodiac. Therefore, the most feminine archetypal energy offering healing, purity and wisdom is permanently linked with what appears to be a highly masculine world.

Virgo also appears with a cornucopia, symbolizing the fulfillment of time, prosperity and agriculture. This sign associates with traits of redemption and organization, desirable in a post-war society.

The signs Gemini and Virgo are associated with the planet of communication, Mercury. As the female Mercury (Virgo is considered a “feminine” sign in astrology, while Gemini is considered “masculine”), she represents analysis and critical thinking, qualities that the forward-looking planners knew would play an important role in the nation’s future.

Virgo Prevalent in the Charts of Washington, D.C. Buildings

Astrological charts cast for the laying of important building marker stones involve Virgo in a significant way, and point to the sure knowledge of planetary movement. Jupiter was ascending in Virgo when the city’s first marker stone was laid on April 15, 1791. On October 13, 1792, the marker stone for the White House was laid with the Moon ascending in Virgo. The Capitol was founded with Mercury conjunct the Sun in Virgo on September 18, 1793, and the cornerstone for the Washington Monument was laid when the Moon was in Virgo.

Zodiacs of Our Nation’s Capital

There are 23 zodiacs in public government buildings in Washington, D.C. and many more on monuments and room interiors. The National Academy of Science has a wonderful statue of Albert Einstein overlooking a granite horoscope of the actual chart for the statue’s dedication ceremony on April 22, 1979. The Academy building also has twelve bronze stylized zodiacal characters on the south entrance hall door.

Astrological motifs appear in the Library of Congress on a clock, painted tondos (a round painting or relief) on the ceiling and a splendid marble floor in the great hall.

The Federal Reserve Board building has a beautiful 1937 Steuben glass ceiling lamp depicting the zodiac, including a version of Virgo as the Virgin Mary.

President Garfield’s memorial statue has both astrological signs and planets on the pedestal. The Mellon Memorial fountain’s rim is decorated with all twelve signs, and the Dirksen Senate office building’s interior features zodiacal characters.

The first astrological reference in the capital was the Car of History, sculpted in 1819 for the Statuary Hall. Images of Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius appear on the front of the winged chariot.

The Inauguration and Astrology

The connection between Washington, D.C. and astrology doesn’t end with the capital’s buildings. Astrological timing determined the original choice for the presidential inauguration date. The founding fathers, many of whom were Masons and therefore astrologically savvy, chose the first week of March for the inauguration because on that day the Sun, in the sign of Pisces, created a trine (favorable 120 degree angle) to the Scorpio Sun on Election Day in November and most importantly, the Cancer Sun of the birthday of the United States on July 4. Each of these is a water sign, and the intention of the founding fathers was to establish a beneficial grand water trine to ensure harmonious adjustment. The March date remained unchanged until the adoption of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933 moved it to January.

Ovason concludes that two centuries ago, designers George Washington, L’Enfant and Ellicot sought to align the city, and therefore the nation, with the stars, knowing that the power of the combination of the celestial and earthly would affect its destiny. He writes, “A city that is laid out in such a way that it is in harmony with the heavens is a city in perpetual prayer. It is a city built on the recognition that every human activity is in need of the sanctification of the spiritual world, of which the symbol is the light of the living stars.”



Marcia Masino has been a working astrologer for over thirty years. She is the author of the books Easy Tarot Guide and Best Tarot Practices, both modern classics on tarot interpretation.She has been awarded certification as a Grandmaster of Tarot by the American Tarot Association She is also a contributor to Llewellyn Publications' first Tarot Calendar and writer for Fate Magazine.

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Other StarIQ articles by Marcia Masino:

  • Beth Alpha Synagogue’s Zodiac Floor   5/31/2001
  • The Astrological Tarot Deck   12/11/2000
  • San Miniato al Monte: The Zodiac Church of Florence   10/15/2000
  • Gifts of Love   2/14/2000

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