When Elizabeth Tudor ascended to the throne on November 17th, 1558, she asked her friend and counselor, Dr John Dee, to elect the moment for her coronation.
A teacher, astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, alchemist, scientist and magician, Dee was as much of a controversial figure in his own day as he is today. Because of the diversity of his interests, many of his contemporaries could not decide if he was a genius or a crank. Historians are still up in the air today. Elizabeth herself shared many of his interests. And so Dee was honoured with this task.
Astrology is about beginnings. The themes inherent at the start of an event will carry through its lifespan. Choosing a moment in time to begin an event is therefore a form of magic, a manipulation of the energies in order to guarantee certain outcomes. What would be the "themes" of Elizabeth's reign?
Classical astrology consisted of seven planets: The sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They have different energies consistent with their mythological nomenclature. For example, Mercury, the Roman name for Hermes, is about language, as Hermes was the messenger to the gods. Jupiter is Roman for Zeus and is about expansion and fortune.
The 12 signs of the Zodiac, beginning with Aries and culminating with Pisces, are the motivations that the planets move through, picking up differing expressions or flavors. We all know our sun sign. What this means is that the sun, (a planet in astrology) was in a particular sign at our birth, and so part of us is now "flavored" with that set of values or motivations.
The coronations for the Tudor monarchs usually took place within a few months of their ascension. (They ranged between 22 days for Edward VI to 75 days for Mary I). Given that time was needed to make ready, the two options for the sun's position (the Queen herself) were Capricorn (Julian calendar December 13 to January 10) and Aquarius (Julian calendar January 11 to February 9th).
The two energies could not be more different.
The Capricorn energy will inspire traditional values, honor the existing structures and hold a reverence for the past. Aquarius, on the other hand, is future oriented. The symbol of Aquarius is of a youth pouring water out of an urn. It is an Air sign, which privileges the mind, It is the energy of new ideas, and ingenious ways of looking at the world. John Dee, with his quirky notions, his interests in expanding knowledge and in forging new intellectual and literal territory, was more of an Aquarian type. In fact, in his own natal chart, his natal moon is in the sign of Aquarius.
The choice was obvious. Dee was not going to set the new queen up with a look to the past, Aquarius it would be.
And Dee was lucky. Jupiter and Mercury were already in Aquarius at that moment. With this Aquarian energy already on the table, by adding the glorious sun to the mix Dee had a powerful "stellium," three or more planets in a sign.
The date he chose was January 15th 1559.
Why that date? Because of the moon. The moon is the "planet" closest to the earth. It is the fastest moving entity and in astrology is given all kinds of power. Its relationship to the sun and to the rest of the chart would be a crucial determining factor of the success of the event.
We can picture Dee looking through an "ephemeris," a ledger of the positions of all the planets. On January 15, the moon happened to be in Aries, God's teeth! There we have it!! This no shrinking violet of a moon! And this energy is harmonious with the Aquarius planets, Jupiter and Mercury and the Sun. Aries is a sign in the element of Fire, which complements airy Aquarius. As the first sign of the zodiac, it is the symbol of new life after a hard cold winter. New life igniting new ideas.
At 12 noon that day, the moon was at 19 degrees Aries, exactly coordinating with Jupiter at 19 degrees Aquarius. Gemini was rising on the eastern horizon, making Mercury, the Ruler of the Chart. And Mercury, remember, was also in Aquarius. John Dee had found his moment.
History calls the reign of Elizabeth a Golden Age, with its voyages of discovery and the expansion of the English language through Shakespeare and Marlowe. Is it possible that astrology set the stage?