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Australia: Foundation to Federation


In looking at the history of Australia, two moments stand out above the rest as pivotal in the 'birth' of the nation as we know it today. The first is the establishment of the first colony at Port Jackson (aka Sydney Harbour) in 1788. The second is the legal formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.

This section documents the main features of both these charts, and links them with important events in Australia's life, as well as outlining current and future transits to Australia's chart.

Foundation Day at Sydney Cove

On the 26th January 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip and his marines raised the Union Jack flag at Port Jackson and proclaimed the founding of the first colony on behalf of the King of what was then Great Britain. The area had been claimed and named 'New South Wales' in 1770 by Captain Cook, and so 'Australia' as a name was not yet born. Nevertheless, this was the first 'incarnation' of the country that led to the Australia that exists today.

According to records, Arthur Phillip raised the flag around the first light of the day. This chart is therefore calculated for that approximate time, however the lack of an exact time means that we cannot consider the house cusps of this chart to be reliable. We also need to bear in mind that the Moon may be half a degree or so from the position shown here.

Australia birth chart
From the early days of the colony the anniversary of this day was celebrated as 'Foundation Day.' It is now celebrated as 'Australia Day'.

The chart's cluster of planets in Aquarius shows a strong focus on community-building, but hardships and difficulties associated with it. It indicates issues with tolerance, diversity, and fragmentation. Chiron in Gemini conjunct Jupiter symbolises a primary wound that has a duality to it; a tendency to split into two, an inability to bring two together, repetitive struggles with trying to overcome the schism. Saturn and Pluto in Aquarius reinforces this. This is a chart that speaks of the need to work hard at these issues in order to achieve progress.

Pluto positioned halfway between the Sun and Saturn aptly describes the brutal conditions and lack of resources that the settlers faced, as well as the themes of power at work during the establishment of the colony.

Journey to federal union

The journey towards creating a federation of States began in the mid-1800s. The first recorded suggestion of the need for an intercolonial authority was in 1846, a year when Neptune was sextile to Pluto. At this time, transiting Saturn had returned to the degree it occupied in the 1788 chart (known as a Saturn Return), marking a threshold year in the maturing of the nation. Also at this time, transiting Neptune, the planet of unity, was on the 1788 chart's Venus-Saturn conjunction. Venus is another planet of unity, and Saturn is institutions, structures, and boundaries, so this reflects a time when those boundaries would start to give way to the process of unification. Transiting Pluto was sextile this Venus-Saturn conjunction too, reflecting a drive for change in this area. However, although intercolonial conferences were organised during 1863 and 1880, progress did not really take off in earnest until 1889.

The key event in this year was the impassioned speech of Henry Parkes known as the 'Tenterfield speech', delivered at the School of Arts in the town of Tenterfield on the 24th of October. Astrologically, the planets Neptune and Pluto were both conjunct - a once in nearly 500 years event - at 4 and 7 degrees Gemini respectively. Parkes was born with the Sun at 5 degrees Gemini, and Mercury (communication) at 12 degrees Gemini, opposite Uranus at 4 degrees Sagittarius. He therefore linked in very strongly to the epoch-making and visionary Neptune-Pluto conjunction.

In terms of the 1788 chart, this Neptune-Pluto conjunction was itself conjunct the position of Chiron in Gemini. Thus, the 'original wound' of a dualistic and disconnected set of colonies was picked up for review. But that's not all, because Neptune-Pluto were also trine the Sun in the 1788 chart, symbolising a very powerful urge to centralising the colonies and bringing them under one government. As a reinforcer, transiting Uranus was conjunct Neptune in the 1788 chart, reflecting an awakening of the desire to merge, to unify, to remove barriers and to come together as one. Thus, the vision was truly awakened and Parkes was right when he proclaimed that the time was now for federation.

Consequently, a constitutional convention was arranged, and in 1891 it was decided to proceed with federation. The title of the federated States was to be 'The Commonwealth of Australia', and a draft constitution was also agreed. During this convention, the Neptune-Pluto conjunction was exact, and exactly on Chiron in the 1788 chart, and still within orb of trining the Sun. Perfect timing.

Agreement was obtained from the government of the United Kingdom, and in 1901 the historic day arrived: Australia was (re)born.

The birth of modern Australia

Unlike the Sydney Cove chart, this next chart is accurately timed and we can therefore rely on the Ascendant and house cusps, as well as the Moon's position. This is the chart for when the legislation drawn up by the States entered into force, thus founding Australia in its current form.

Australia birth chart
For the first time, Australia had government institutions and political roles that covered the whole nation. The constitution that was written has been amended several times since, but nevertheless it is that original document that forms the basis of today's Australia.

This chart has what is known as a 'Grand Trine' in the Earth signs: Sun in Capricorn, Moon in Taurus, and Mars in Virgo. This reflects a powerful physicality and robust earthiness in the Australian character. There is a determination to achieve, yet the Grand Trine is known for taking it easy - this combination of dynamism and boldness coupled with being relaxation accurately describes the trademark laid-back and easy-going approach of modern Australians.

The Libra Ascendant is the same as the UK's, as is the position of the Sun, however in Australia's chart the ruler of the Ascendant (Venus) is in Sagittarius, right next to Uranus. Nearby there is also a triple conjunct of Mercury, Jupiter, and Chiron, also in Sagittarius, and placed in the third house. This places a great emphasis on things like travel, media, publishing, networking, diversity, broadening horizons, extending out, searching for knowledge, being philosophical, and seeking truth. This is a packed third house, and there isn't space to go into more detail about the placements here. Suffice it to say that there is scope here for everything from garrulousness, controversy, approachability and friendship, love of truth, to a sense of intellectual inferiority, all contained in this small segment of the chart.

If we look at the planet's positions in this chart and compare them to the planets in the 1788 chart, there are certain degrees that repeat almost exactly:

1788
1901
Moon 13 deg. Virgo
Mars 12 deg. Virgo
Node 25 deg. Sagittarius
Jupiter 26 deg. Sagittarius
Jupiter 17 deg. Gemini
Pluto 16 deg. Gemini

This means that when a transiting planet moves across one of these degrees it triggers both of these charts. Any politicians or other leaders could also have charts that link with these degree areas too, and therefore be linked to both charts. Robert Menzies, Australia's longest serving Prime Minister and someone who defined an era in the nation's life, had his Sun at 28 Sagittarius and his Neptune at 14 Gemini, very close to two of these degree areas.

Constitutional Crisis: 11th November 1975

The early 1970s were a turbulent time in Australian society and politics. Astrologically this was reflected by transiting Pluto crossing the country's Ascendant. This transit always reflects an intense reorientation and is often accompanied by power-struggles and radical changes. By Autumn 1975 Pluto had moved 2-3 degrees past the Ascendant, into the 1st house. This is nevertheless still close enough to the Ascendant to reflect a process that had not yet finished in the Australian national psyche.

With transiting Neptune exactly on the 1901 chart's Venus (finances, the economy), the Plutonic deadlock and power-struggles were played out mainly in relation to the government's budget bills. The Senate refused to pass government's proposed bills, and talks failed. The heat rose, and Australia's most dramatic political and constitutional crisis unfolded.

The months of deadlock were October and November. The Plutonic boil was lanced, as it were, in typically Plutonic fashion: an outside power intervened. The Governor-General of Australia, without the Queen's knowledge or permission but using the Queen's previously unused authority, dismissed the Prime Minister, causing the dissolution of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, in what is known as a 'double dissolution' (Neptune in particular is the planet of dissolution, but Pluto also reflects something that is torn down, or which crumbles, and must be rebuilt from scratch), and triggering an election. Apart from the political repercussions, the fall-out from this event remained for years as it brought home the fact that Australia was still tied to the UK by old colonial laws. Sovereignty was yet to be achieved.

This crisis was the third time that Australia had responded to major aspects of the Neptune-Pluto cycle. The first sextile between the planets saw the first recorded mention of the need to join in a federation. The next major aspect, the conjunction, saw the quickening phase when the federation was organised and the constitution drawn up. The next sextile saw the most dramatic constitutional crisis in the Commonwealth's first hundred years of history. So when is the next major Neptune-Pluto aspect? The two planets have been in septile (7th harmonic) aspect to each other this recently, and will be for a few more years, but will not sextile one another again until 2025, lasting until 2031. We can therefore expect those years and the build-up to them to be pivotal in Australia's further development as a sovereign nation.

Australia Act 1986

On 3rd March the Australia Act 1986 entered into force, terminating the power of the UK parliament to legislate for Australia. Transiting Neptune was closely conjunct the Australian Midheaven, symbolising the dissolution of 'parental' authority (in a person's birthchart, the MC-IC axis represents the parents; in a nation's chart, it represents the 'parent' nation.)

The next 10 years

Transiting Pluto has moved across the important 16-17 Sagittarius degree area (opposite the 16-17 Gemini area in the table above) in the last few years. It's now (July 2005) moving to the 25-26 Sagittarius area (also listed in the table above), and is conjoining Jupiter-Mercury-Chiron in succession over the next three years or so. This suggests that during this period there may be a lot of upheaval due in the publishing, travel, media, and sales industries, and possibly also the gambling industry. Transport within and outside the country is likely to be restructured in a major way, as is the education system. The country's perceptions of itself, both internally and in relation to the wider world, may well radically change. Religion is also likely to come under scrutiny. The nation's capacity to repair and tend to old wounds will also be highlighted; there is a chance for reconciliation and release of stuck situations.

When transiting Pluto reaches and moves across the Sun-Saturn conjunction, from 2011 to 2014, it will be a major milestone for Australia in terms of sovereignty. Pluto will be exactly 90 degrees from where it was during the 1970s constitutional crisis. Because the UK's Sun will also be transited in exactly the same way at the same time, the relationship between the two countries will be due to radically change. The Sun symbolises sovereignty, royalty, and the Head of State. This is therefore a transit to watch. It will be presaged by Pluto's crossing of the IC, and then its square to Australia's (and the UK's) Ascendant. These two transits begin around 2008 and continue until around 2013.

Bringing the lens on the time-scale closer to the present once again, transiting Uranus is opposite Australia's Mars, simultaneously making a sextile to the nation's Moon and Sun. It also trines the MC. This set of transits is within range from now until early 2008. It reflects a galvanising of the nation at grass-roots level as well as at the government level. There is the possibility of the people asserting themselves more effectively during this time. This transit also suggests that Australia as a nation is experiencing an awakening of its aggressive and possibly combative urges. On the positive side this could stimulate healthy competition and an increased sense of constructive power. The desire to be independent from all restrictive or old ties is likely to grow during this period. This transit links with the country's Grand Trine of Sun-Moon-Mars, so it goes right to the heart of the nation's 'being' and 'doing'. Transiting Uranus will move across the half-way point between the Sun and the Moon (known as the Sun/Moon midpoint). The nation may well feel buffeted by the winds of change and have difficulty finding stability during this time, however the constructive use of this transit allows the cobwebs to be blown away, a fresh start to begin, and a renewed sense of purpose, vitality, and confidence to flourish.

Applying astrology to political life Hutton Inquiry, Tony Blair, Iraq, Israel, European Union, USA,
War on Terror, Uranus in Pisces & Neptune in Aquarius, & more

Applying astrology to business life Euro Currency, NHS, BBC,
USA economy, Ofcom, Concorde,
W Edwards Deming, European Central Bank, Anita Roddick, & more

Applying astrology to people's lives Health, emotional intelligence, zodiac elements, understanding change, Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani, Germaine Greer, & more

Astrology for the 21st Century - Bringing the sky down to Earth


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