Part 3 of 3 Parts
Birth Data, Data Rating and Astro-Research
By DW Sutton
Subheadings: The importance of a precisely accurate birthchart The fast changing astrological image in the sky Precision requires attention to detail Birth times and astro-research Birth times and Church of Light astrological-research Dates, events and astro-research Aquarius and the new astrology
Introduction: Birth times and birth certificates play a vital role in astrology and Birth Data, Data-Rating and Astro-Research is essentially an investigation into the recording and accuracy rating of birth data over the past 100 years.
Precision in astrological work requires a birthchart that's precisely timed, but in 1934 CC Zain commented that 'many people do not know the hour of their birth.' Now in 2010 — in most countries — the birth hour and minute is recorded on a birth certificate, but this time is best regarded as almost accurate — it's never 100% precise.
A precise birthchart has a precise sign, degree and minute on the ascendant — a precise sign, degree and minute on each house cusp — and each planet located in its correct house. Such a chart is rarely obtained using the recorded birth time — it requires some fine-tuning — which is why CC Zain wrote Serial #117, Rectifying the Horoscope. It's written for serious students who according to the author 'cannot afford not to have a correct birthchart, whatever the cost in time or labor.' But even then the chart's owner can still be a little perplexed.
Ed Doane, for example — second president of the Church of Light — was born on October 13, 1892 at 2.58.34am LMT — Daykin, Nebraska (40N19; 97W18 — he used 40N19; 97W21). His chart is presented on page 66 (new version) or 130 (old version) of Course XIV, Occultism Applied to Daily Life. The recorded or given birth time was probably 3.00am and when the prenatal epoch was applied the birth time was found to be 2.58.34am. The chart presented in Course XIV has 5 Scorpio 27 on the third house cusp with Uranus also at 5 Scorpio 27 placed in the second house. But was it? — and he actually stated that Uranus was in the third. A computer calculated chart constructed for the precise epoch time has 5 Scorpio 28 on the third house cusp with Uranus at 5 Scorpio 25′ 35″ — in the second house — but on September 6, 1893, when he was 11 months old, Uranus moved into the third house where it influenced his thinking and other third house life matters. This situation made it very difficult for him to determine the precise house position of Uranus in his birthchart.
Precision with the timing of the birthchart has a flow on effect that influences the timing of astrological events in the progressed chart. The progressed ascendant is a key marker in the timing of events affecting the health and physical body and the progressed Mid-Heaven is a key marker in the timing of events affecting the career, business interests and reputation. An error of plus or minus 15′ in their birthchart positions — equating to an error of one minute in the birth time — converts into an error of plus or minus three months in the timing of the start, peak and finishing dates of their progressed aspects. So there's more to an accurately timed birthchart than meets the eye.
Birthcharts used in research projects can't have this highest level of precision. The time recorded on the birth certificate will have to do and this means that the most accurate birth times must be selected.
The astrological image in the sky doesn't change as fast as the images in the music videos on MTV but it is changing every few minutes.
The astrodyne values for two charts — one timed for 5.59am and the other timed for 6.02am for the same day and place — will be different. Three minutes is a very short period of time but observation reveals that in three minutes planets can change houses, signs can change house cusps and these changes can alter the chart's astrodyne values dramatically. This means that a slightly incorrect birth time will result in an incorrect astro-image, a faulty astrodyne profile and a faulty assessment of the character and life experience. The need to precisely time and record the birth moment is emphasized and while the ascendant’s motion in one minute of clock time can reach 30′ (half a degree) it would seem unreasonable at this stage to request that births be timed to the exact second, but it would be good if they could.
Computer technology not only calculates birthcharts quickly and accurately it also permits a quick check of any changes to the chart's structure within its birth time's margin of error. And an investigation into 180 AA birthcharts — by this researcher — revealed that 53% of the charts experienced a major structural change within three (3) minutes of the recorded birth time and very often there was more than one change. It was not uncommon to see major changes within one (1) minute of the recorded time. A major structural change occurs when a planet changes house, a sign changes house cusp or the decanate on the ascendant changes. Here are some charts that experienced a major structural change within three (3) minutes of the recorded AA birth time.
Sandra Day O'Connor was born at 1.10am and at 1.09.30am Jupiter moved from the sixth to the fifth house. Al Gore was born at 12.53pm and at 12.51.35pm the Moon moved from the sixth house to the fifth. Quincy Jones was born at 8.40pm and at 8.40.41pm Mars moved from the eleventh house to the tenth. Bob Dylan was born at 9.05pm and at 9.03.30pm the ascendant moved to the third decanate of Sagittarius. And Marilyn Monroe was born at 9.30am and at 9.29.26am Pluto moved from the twelfth house to the eleventh.
Liberace was born at 11.15pm and at 11.13.17pm the Sun moved from the fifth house to the fourth, at 11.13.45pm Mercury moved from the fourth to the third, at 11.14.51pm Pluto moved from the seventh to the sixth and at 11.16.43pm Aries moved to the third house cusp and Libra moved to the ninth. Jay Leno was born at 2.03am and at 2.01.44am Cancer moved to the fifth house cusp and Capricorn moved to the eleventh. And Marion Jones was born at 8.01am and at 8.00.20am Gemini moved to the eight house cusp and Sagittarius moved to the second and at 8.03.16am Uranus moved from the first house to the twelfth.
Research into documented birth times reveals that far too many occur right on the hour — not just noon or midnight — but any hour of the day. It also reveals that an abnormally high percentage of births occur on the half hour and quarter hour and that an abnormally low percentage of births occur at a time ending in a 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9 number of minutes. This forces the conclusion that a birth minute not ending in a 0 or 5 has a higher level of accuracy simply because its precision indicates a higher level of attention to detail by the person doing the recording.
During the second half of the 20th century the recording of birth times became more precise and the data gathering by the data collectors became much more coordinated. Michel Gauquelin and Paddy de Jabrun in France, Grazia Bordoni in Italy, Caroline Gerard in Scotland and Lois Rodden in the US began to collect and publish birth data. Now, the astrological research scientist has access to thousands of accurately timed births and while most of the older — pre-1900 — birth times are best viewed as 'more or less approximate' the newer birth times — after-1980 — can be viewed as almost precise.
The time recorded on the birth certificate will give a sign, degree and minute on the ascendant, but it may not be the precise sign, degree and minute as determined by the child's first breath. This requires a chart timed to the second. The Earth's relationship to the zodiac — due to the Earth's rotation — is constantly changing and as the seconds tick by on the clock the degree and minute of the zodiac on the eastern horizon — the ascendant — slowly advances. Depending on the birth date and place this rate of advancement — referred to as the ascendant's rate of motion — varies greatly. In one minute of clock time it can move from 10 to 34 minutes. And a chart can only be considered correct when the precise degree and minute of the zodiac — determined by the time of that all-important first breath — is on the ascendant.
The chart of Queen Elizabeth II will help to clarify the situation. The recorded birth time is 2.40am which gives 21 Capricorn 23 on the ascendant. The birth may have occurred at this time, but more than likely it's been rounded off by two — maybe three — minutes which means that the precise moment she breathed into independent life was probably some time between 2.38am and 2.42am. At 2.38am 20 Capricorn 45 was on the ascendant and at 2.42am 22 Capricorn 01 was there. During this four minute time interval the ascendant moved 1 degree 16′ or 19′ for each minute of clock time. This means that her birthchart has a level of accuracy which makes it eligible for some research projects but it may not be precise enough for others where the degree and minute of the zodiac that's on the ascendant is a crucial factor.
Astrology's knowledge base is contained in two separate portfolios. There's the 'pop' stuff that's popular with the mainstream astrological community and there's the Hermetic System disseminated by the Church of Light. Both use principles passed down from the ancients, via Claudius Ptolemy, but only the Hermetic System has researched and tested these principles to confirm their authenticity.
Some things can be generally assessed from the birth date, but the precise influence of the zodiac signs and planets can only be judged from a precisely constructed birthchart. This requires a precise time of birth and it's an unfortunate fact that much of our current astrological knowledge is based on faulty birth times and faulty birth charts.
If you want to get 100% accurate astrological data it's crucial to have an accurate birth time and during the Age of Pisces births were not accurately timed and birthcharts were not accurately constructed. So, its legacy is best described as a fantastic jumble of mystical notions. And while Hermetic Astrology's knowledge base during this fanciful age was carefully guarded and preserved many of its claims were not supported by evidence-based research. So during the early years of Aquarius — between 1924 and 1954 — the Church of Light made a concerted effort to gather research-based astrological facts.
By now the birthchart was an accurate construction, but very few births were accurately timed — so the times were wrong and the charts were right — and this severely compromised the search for authentic astrological information. The birth time starts the research process. It — along with the date and place of birth — provides the essential data for the chart's construction. So you can legitimately ask — can an inaccurate birthchart provide accurate astrological data? The answer is no and the evidence reveals that the original Church of Light research was compromised by faulty birth times and a faulty research model.
Astro-research involves the scientific investigation of individual birthcharts. The chart provides information and its owner operates and functions in the laboratory of life. The goal is evidence-based astrological information about the soul's nature and natural inclinations — its natural abilities and aptitudes and its tendency to attract a specific type of developmental experience defined by special events and unique experiences — and inaccurate birth times compromise the capacity to gather authentic astrological facts. Astrology's current knowledge base is the result of data gathered from faulty birthcharts and who knows what margin of error a faulty birth time can cause. Only accurately timed and constructed birthcharts provide authentic astrological data — and this means that everything rests on the accuracy of the birth time.
In 1924 when the Church of Light began to scientifically investigate birthcharts it needed birth data — a time, date and place of birth. This wasn't easy and even though it was located in Los Angeles — the movie capital of the world — its first research project, What makes a movie actor?, published in 1927 was based on the charts of 46 stars of the silent screen. It's safe to say that most of the birth data came from Hollywood astrologers and in many instances was simply speculative guesswork or hearsay. There was no rating system to grade the accuracy of the birth time and today most of it would be given an A, C or Dirty Data rating. It's unknown if any of the data actually came from a participant's birth certificate.
Then when the Church of Light began to solicit birth data from its own membership a Research Questionnaire was designed requesting the birth details including the birth hour — am or pm — and the kind of clock time. Elbert Benjamine wrote: 'The Brotherhood of Light Astrological Research Department began in April 1924 to solicit from as many persons as it could reach, the birth data, including the hour of birth, of people following various vacations, and the birth data, including hour of birth and date the event happened, of people who had experienced some particular disease or event.' But don't think the request for the birth hour was understating the importance of a precise time of birth. On the contrary — action was dictated by circumstance. There was a greater chance of people knowing their birth hour rather than their precise hour and minute of birth and the research department required birth data.
Each research project involved 100 birthcharts: And in each instance the mathematical expectation — if nature doesn't favour certain minutes of the hour — was 1.6 or approximately 2 births occurring on each minute of the hour. Here's what actually happened in six (6) of the research projects.
The 'What Makes a Writer' research project — 100 birthcharts
In this project 2 of the participants were born in the 1600s, 3 were born in the 1700s, 90 were born in the 1800s and 5 were born after 1900. The expectation was that approximately 2 births should have occurred on each minute of the hour. The actual number born on the hour was 30 and the actual number born on the half hour was 13. The actual number born on the 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, 40, 45, 50, and 55 minute marks was 21 (should have been 20) and the actual number born on the 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,and 9 minute marks was 13 (should have been 16). There were 29 minutes of the hour when no births occurred and it was odd to see that 4 (four) of the participants were born on a surprisingly accurate 59 minute mark.
The 'What Makes a Doctor' research project — 100 birthcharts
In this project 93 of the participants were born in the 1800s and 7 were born after 1900. 45 were born on the hour; 16 were born on the half hour and 39 were born on another minute of the hour. Theoretically 2 should have been born on the hour; 2 should have been born on the half hour and 96 should have been born on another minute of the hour.
The 'What Makes a Telephone Operator' research project — 100 birthcharts
In this project 23 of the participants were born in the 1800s and 77 were born after 1900. (This project had more participants born in the 20th century than any other, but it seems that most of the birth times were approximate rather than precise.) 40 were born on the hour; 20 were born on the half hour and 40 were born on another minute of the hour.
The 'What Makes a Waiter' research project — 100 birthcharts
In this project 31 of the participants were born in the 1800s and 69 were born after 1900. 49 were born on the hour — the expectation was 2; 21 were born on the half hour — the expectation was 2 — and 30 were born on another minute of the hour — the expectation was 96.
The 'What Makes a Lawyer' research project — 100 birthcharts
In this project 93 of the participants were born in the 1800s and 7 were born after 1900. 42 were born on the hour; 22 were born on the half hour and 36 were born on another minute of the hour.
The 'What Makes a Movie actor' research project — 100 birthcharts
In this project 52 of the participants were born in the 1800s and 48 were born after 1900. 34 were born on the hour; 14 were born on the half hour and 52 were born on another minute of the hour.
The number of participants in each project who were born right on the hour signifies rounding off on a grand scale. All told 240 of the 600 were born on the hour and 106 were born on the half hour. In each instance the mathematical expectation was 10. The evidence clearly reveals that the authenticity of the research findings was compromised by the accuracy of the data that was used — and that astrology's big problem has always been approximate or inaccurate birth times.
The reliability of the astrological information provided by a birthchart and the reliability of measurement provided by the astrodynes are dependent upon the accuracy of the birth-data that’s entered into the computer — particularly the birth time. A faulty birth time produces a faulty birthchart and an incorrect character profile and life experience — and the history of astrology is a story of inaccurate birthcharts.
The astrodynes by providing mathematical accuracy eliminate guesswork and personal judgement. In particular they eliminate personal bias. If the birth-data is correct the astrodynes provide powerful information — but if it's incorrect the numbers will be misleading and unreliable. If the birth time is incorrect there's a mismatch between the chart and its astrodyne values and the character, potential and real life experience the chart maps and measures.
The astrodynes can only be employed on a chart that is precisely timed. That's when their capacity to precisely measure the power, harmony or discord of the planets, signs, aspects and houses revolutionized the judgement process. But due to the amount of time involved in calculating the numbers they were never employed in the original Church of Light research work. It was only when computer technology did the calculations in seconds that the revolution they promised became a possibility. But in 1950 this revolution was a pipe dream. That was the year that Elbert Benjamine published the Astrodyne Manual and in the last paragraph of the Introduction he states:
But whether the chart is that of an animal or a man, the precision with which the birthchart and progressed astrodynes, harmodynes and discordynes may be ascertained depends upon the precision with which the chart of birth is erected. Only when the birth is precisely timed, and the position of each of the ten planets, the MC and Asc, both in the zodiac and by declination are calculated to the nearest minute, and the zodiacal position of each of the house cusps is calculated to the nearest minute, can the power and harmony of each position in the birthchart and by progression be ascertained with equal precision.
He placed the emphasis on the precise calculation of the birthchart simply because, at the time, few people had the ability to construct a chart. Computer technology has revolutionized all that — and the calculation of the astrodynes. So now — in 2010 — the major glitch in the whole procedure is still the birth time. Both the public and some astrologers need to be educated about this matter. Scientific astrology must play by the rules — and this means the validity of any chart and the astrological data it provides rests upon the validity of its birth-data — particularly the accuracy of the birth time.
Dates are tricky things. They can be right, wrong, easily muddled or transcribed incorrectly. They time when events occur and one area of astrological research searches out the astrology coinciding with an event's occurrence.
The most important date is the birth date. It's easy to remember but if there's no official document providing unequivocal evidence there's a degree of uncertainty. Abraham Lincoln was born on January 12, 1809 but the date's not supported by an official document. He gave it in a short autobiographical sketch so it comes from memory and ever since then every biographer states the same date. It only has one source — so if Abe got it wrong then everyone's wrong. Comments like 'all Wikipedia sources give January 12, 1809' are meaningless when they've all been taken from the one original source.
Some people — like Joseph Stalin — played games with their birth date. His chart is presented on page 162 of Brotherhood of Light Course XIV Occultism Applied to Daily Life. The data is January 2, 1880 (Dec 21, 1879 Old Style), 8.16am 44E, 42N. The source notes state: Rectified chart published in (Alan Leo's) Modern Astrology. For verification of day of birth see mother's statement, December 1936 Astrology. So a quick click on Google should sort things out, but the first thing you get is two birth years — December 21, 1878 and December 21, 1879! At least everyone seems to get the birth place right. A quick click on Astro-Databank soon has Joseph Stalin on the screen and there you learn that the Soviet politician played games with his birth date and that his most likely date of birth was December 6, 1878 Old Style which makes it December 18, 1878 New Style. This means the chart presented in Occultism Applied is way off — and so's the story told by the progressed chart.
And another one playing games is Madonna. She has a dirty data rating on Astro-Databank because she's given out an alternate birth date — August 16, 1959 — not August 16, 1958. The trick is as old as Jeanne Dixon and the right date is usually the one that came first.
The second most important date — after the birth date — is probably the death date. It's officially recorded and timed so there's a reduced chance of error, but in between the birth date and the death date are a lot of other events that should be carefully timed, but verifying event dates can be difficult when different sources give conflicting dates. Discrepancies do occur between the date given by Astro-Databank and references on Wikipedia. It could be a typographical error but who's to know? Events, and the dates they occur, have an important role to play in astrological research, but if the date of the event is wrong the astrological evidence explaining the event will be wrong too.
It's impossible in 2010 to imagine the mind set of an astrologer in the 16th century. Back then belief based mysticism was in the driver's seat and no attempt was made to sort the facts from the fictions using evidence-based research. And back then — just like today — astrologers needed birth data so Lucas Gauricus compiled Operum Omnium — an important collection of historical data. But don't get too excited. The chart data, particularly the birth times, is best considered wildly speculative just like the mystical astrology that attempted to make sense of the charts and their owners' life stories.
In the 19th century, many countries in Europe began to officially record and register the birth details — including the birth time (or hour). These official records were a big step forward but the recording of the birth time in most instances was sloppy and slipshod. But every now and then someone got it almost right. General George Patton, for example, was born on November 11, 1885 at 6.38pm PST — according to a written record in the Family Bible — and Hugo Black — associate Justice of the US Supreme Court — was born February 27, 1886 at 11.57pm CST according to his birth record.
Then in 1900 the USA introduced 'official' certificates of birth but the documenting of the birth time was not essential and while most people had a birth certificate they didn't always have a recorded birth time. But the stage was set for a very important development in the astrology story.
In 1911 Alan Leo published 1001 Notable Nativities — the best data collection so far — but it was marred by a fatal inadequacy — incorrect birth times. So the author explained that most birth times have a plus or minus ten minute margin of error and should be viewed as approximate — and the reader asked: How can you get accurate astrological information from an inaccurate birthchart?
By now Piscean Age astrology — that in many respects still refuses to give way to the new scientific Aquarian Age — was being discarded to the recycle bin. And at the forefront of this astrological revolution was Elbert Benjamine who — as CC Zain — began writing the Brotherhood of Light lessons in March 1914. His extraordinary astrological skills and expertise cut through the mystical nonsense and by 1923 he had revolutionized the astrology of the ancients.
But the new astrology had to be built on precision based scientific astrological facts so in 1924 the Church of Light established its astrological research department. That's when Lenora Conwell began to collect birth data, construct birthcharts and scientifically assess the astrological data. But most of the birth times were rounded off to the nearest hour and half hour, and this lack of precision compromised the research findings.
Then in 1946 Elbert Benjamine and William Drake developed the astrodynes — a mathematical method of measuring the astrological energies displayed in any birthchart: But the accuracy of the measurements was dependent upon a precise birth time — and most people didn't have one.
In 1953 Marc Edmund Jones published Sabian Symbols in Astrology, another collection of 1000 birth data, but inaccurate data and birthchart errors marred the publication. In 1956 Doris Chase Doane published Astrology: 30 Years Research. It summarized all the previous research work done by the Church of Light between 1924 and 1954: And in 1962 Marion Drew published 101 Hard to Find Horoscopes, but the data was poorly sourced and mostly dodgy.
In France during the 1950s Michel Gauquelin had started collecting recorded birth details from parish records and when he published — in the 1970s — a large number of documented birth times became available. But just because a birth time is documented doesn't mean it's precise and most of the recorded birth times were rounded off to the nearest hour or half hour. Precision astrology requires a precise birth time so most of this 19th century data won't provide much worthwhile astrological information. And the idea that these incorrect birth times and their incorrect birthcharts could be scientifically investigated to provide authentic astrological information was quite misguided. It's unfortunate that Gauquelin's attempt to scientifically investigate astrology in the 1970s was hopelessly compromised by faulty birth times and unproven astrological theories. But in 1969 the new Uranus cycle promised that astrology's big problem — inaccurate birth times — would be solved. Birth certificates with accurately recorded birth times had been around for 70 years and data collectors were about to set their sights on these precious documents.
In 1976 Katharine Clark, Allan Gilchrist, Janice Mackey and Charles Dominay compiled and published Contemporary Sidereal Horoscopes — and the birth data they presented came straight from the birth certificate. The collection set a standard of excellence that had never before existed.
Then in 1979 something revolutionary happened. Lois Rodden published Profiles of Women. There were too many errors and too many wrong charts but the lady who taught us how to gather data, source data, rate data, update data and share data and whose impact on Aquarian Age astrology was simply stunning wrote: 'It was, in a sense, the book that turned the corner between the naiveté of the early 20th century about our data and the awareness of the 21st century astrologer, approaching our data as educated professionals. The astrologer today who speaks, teaches, writes and publishes (and I might add does astro-research) has the sophistication to demand accurate reporting of data and verification of all data sources. Astrologers who cannot verify their data cannot verify their conclusions, and astrologers who do not know the source of their data and who do not state the source of their data limit themselves to the category of amateur.' Her message was clear. Data has a source — so state it — and then grade the chart's accuracy according to its source. The result was the development, in 1979, of the Rodden Rating System.
In 1980 Lois Rodden published Astro-Data II — and each chart was sourced and given an A, B, C or DD accuracy rating. Later — at the suggestion of Marion March — the AA category was added to separate documented birth certificate data from personal data based on memory. In 1982 Michel and Francoise Gauquelin compiled and published The Gauquelin Book of American Charts — and all the data came from birth certificates. In1986 Lois Rodden published Astro Data III and in October 1986 she commenced the publication of Data News — a bi-monthly newsletter that kept the astrological community informed of new data from then until April 2003.
In 1990 Rodden published Astro-Data IV and Janice Mackey and Jessica Saunders published — straight from the birth certificate — Contemporary American Horoscopes. In April 1992 Rodden published Profiles of Crime and in 1996 a revised, updated edition of Profiles of Women. In the mean time data collecting had gone international. Grazia Bordoni in Italy had published Data Di Nictia and 3000 of the 4000 Italian data came from the birth registration. Caroline Gerard in Scotland was collecting Scottish data — straight from the birth certificate; David Fisher was collecting British data and Luc de Marre was collecting Belgian data. In the US the data collectors excelled. Thelma and Tom Wilson in Chicago, Edwin Steinbrecher in Los Angeles, Francis McEvoy in Boston and Steven Przybylowski in Milwaukee kept the birth certificate data flowing. And in 1996 Michael Munkasey published Birth Data Index which sourced the data for over 8000 charts.
Now in 2010 the Astro Databank website provides a spectacular amount of data that has the highest level of accuracy and accurate birth times make precision astrology possible. Now for the first time in history we're able to unite the astrological expertise of CC Zain, the mathematical precision of the astrodynes and the almost accurate birth times gathered by the data collectors in an Aquarian Age Astrological Research Project that will, for the first time, provide humanity with the most accurate and authentic astrological information ever discovered. A new data base of astrological facts that will serve humanity well.
But there's still a lot of mystical thinking around — old habits die hard — and there's so much faulty information, so many natural deceptions, so many twists and so many questions. In 2010 we just don't know what the right answers are going to be, but the new astrology will be defined by accurately timed birthcharts, documented case histories and evidenced-based scientific research.
Copyright 2014, DW Sutton, light.org