Magazine article Insight on the News

Ergo, We're Virgo

Magazine article Insight on the News

Ergo, We're Virgo

Article excerpt

Washington's stellar design was no coincidence, argues the author of a new book on the Capital's astrological foundations. Masonic founders oriented the District of Columbia around Virgo.

Every Aug. 10, an astrological event takes place in the sky over Washington that some say ties the city to a pagan goddess. At dusk, as golden light turns brick facades a dusty rose, the shimmering sun floats a few degrees just to the left of Pennsylvania Avenue, gradually inching to the right until it sets directly over the famous street. If the horizon remains cloudless, three stars are visible in a straight line from the Capitol to the White House to the skies in the west. Known as Regulus, Arcturus and Spica, the stars form a right-angled triangle framing the constellation of Virgo.

Washington's founders deliberately aligned the city with the stars, consecrating it to Virgo -- also known as the Egyptian goddess Isis -- claims British author David Ovason in his new book, The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital. "You rarely found a sunset leading to a rising of the stars" Ovason says. "Washington is unique and it's magical when it happens. The stars emerge from the dusk. In Greece and Egypt, temples and sacred sites were oriented toward the stars, but I know of nowhere else in the Earth where a city is oriented toward a specific sunset"

In a detailed 356-page book --combined with another 150 pages of appendices, notes and an index -- Ovason makes Nancy Reagan's astrological interests look tame. His case for Virgo as an arcane leitmotif dating back to this country's 18th-century origins has its skeptics, of course. But Ovason earned plaudits from Fred Kleinknecht, sovereign grand commander of the 33rd-degree Supreme Council of Freemasons, based in the District of Columbia. That's an important endorsement -- almost all the men who surveyed Washington were Masons, including Pierre L'Enfant, the original designer of the District of Columbia, and George Washington, a soldier and surveyor who knew how to lay out land according to stellar and solar positions.

"In 1790, someone conceived of linking this city with the stars and that tradition continued for 200 years" Ovason says. "It died out about 1950. I could never find out who did this, but someone, somewhere, maintained this incredible esoteric view of the zodiac."

Freemasonry, still perhaps the largest secret society in the world, was established at the Grand Lodge of England in 1717, although scholars trace the organization's roots to the stone-masons of the Middle Ages and even earlier, to ancient Egypt, Babylon and Palestine. Members of the fraternal order traditionally believe in religious tolerance, local government, brotherhood and equality -- in general, liberal and democratic thought and practice. …

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