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The Charles Bridge

Historical Archive in the Heavens.

Preface:

This brief article is part of a much larger and more technically based body of work currently being developed for publication. I hope most of the ‘astro-babble’ terms have been eliminated or explained so the combined history and astrology of the magnificent Charles Bridge can be easily understood as a bridge between us and our ongoing human endeavor to derive meaning from our connection with the stars, both from this special chart and for every birth chart we examine.
 


 
 

A recent trip to Prague in the Czech Republic yielded an unexpected treasure. Filled and sparkling with ancient legends as well as with its famous Bohemian crystal, Prague is a magical and mystical medieval city, ripe for any traveler to enjoy. Its ancient heritage sites sit alongside the drab and horizontal buildings reminiscent of soviet occupation and within tree lined avenues and renaissance architecture built when Prague was the “Paris” of eastern Europe.

The cathedral city of Good King Wenceslas is also home to the ‘Golden Lane’ a sheltered environment built for the alchemists who were there to manufacture gold, find the elixir of eternal youth and the ‘philosopher’s stone’. Within the Old Town Square is the “Horologe, a fantastic clock completed in 1410 with a 600 year old geocentric view of the universe, fully depicting the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and the equator. There is an hourly demonstration of the twelve apostles moving blithely around the twelve signs of the zodiac as the clock chimes each hour for the delight of tourists and astronomical enthusiasts alike. So for an astrologer, Prague presents a veritable constellation of wonders, not the least of which is its famous Charles Bridge.

Prague Horologe or Orloj - Charles Bridge and Astrolgoy
Prague Horologe or Orloj


Key to the astrological focus on The Charles Bridge is a piece of information from ancient lore and mentioned in almost every tourist guidebook available. The construction on this beautiful and famous bridge, in a city renowned for its beautiful bridges, began on July 9, 1357 at 5:31a.m when the Emperor Charles IV himself laid the cornerstone. This was the time and date when Charles’ court astrologer’s advised him there was a conjunction of the Sun and Saturn, believed to be the most auspicious moment of the whole year. Yes indeed, Charles IV maintained the services of astrologers and connecting the Holy Roman Emperor to his court astrologers is perhaps another study in and of itself. But, the historical significance of this information notwithstanding, for an astrologer to receive a date, a time and place of birth from the annals of history, is a gift from the heavens themselves!

Obtaining the time of birth from the mists of the 14th century is a premium piece of information for an astrologer since that is the information necessary for determining the Ascendant Sign (“Lagna” in a vedic chart). The Ascendent is the sign of the zodiac on the eastern horizon (rising or “ascending”) at the moment of birth for a person or an event. Vedic Astrology places great importance on this sign, called the ‘stumbha’ or root of the chart, which sets the sequence for the very important ‘house’ placements. It is these ‘houses’ that allow us to be privy to the area of life under scrutiny.

Medieval astrology used the ‘old’ planetary rulers; that is to say, Scorpio was ruled by Mars, Aquarius was ruled by Saturn and Pisces was ruled by Jupiter. Without a lengthy discourse on the current sign rulerships assigned to Pluto, ranus and Neptune respectively; and because this particular astrological review is based on the sidereal zodiac, that is how this information presented itself to me and how the chart was cast and studied. The ‘old’ rulerships seem worthy of note when studying a medieval chart though because they are the planets used in the vedic system of astrology to this day. It also seems prudent to mention that further study might reveal that the sidereal zodiac used by vedic astrologers today was not unknown nor unused by medieval astrologers in Europe. A current interest in this topic would benefit from research on the works of Peter Berresford Ellis or Benson Bobrick, independent of this article.

Here, in all its glory and mystery is the chart for July 9, 1357 at 5:31a.m. in Prague, Czech Republic.

The old astrologers were spot on. Their amazing feat was achieved absent our currently utilized computerized software programs and with astronomical knowledge that earned astrologers positions of respect and influence at court. These influential positions are well documented despite current notions and the dismissal of astrology by many in the Church and in modern society. As evidenced in the chart above and just as the ancient astrologers foretold, Sun and Saturn are at 9 degrees and 25 minutes and 9 degrees and 12 minutes respectively. .

Noteworthy for this ‘bridge’ muhurta (‘muhurta’ is Sanskrit for an electional chart, so this was a “chosen” time for building a bridge – not for the Emperor himself) is that the Ascendant, 4 planets (Sun, Saturn, Mercury and Mars) and the south node of the Moon, *Ketu, are all posited in the sign of Cancer. That’s a lot of water! (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces constitute the water signs in a chart.) As further evidenced in the chart, *Rahu (the north node of the Moon) is in Capricorn, Jupiter Retrograde is in Aquarius, Ascendant Ruler (“Lagnesh”) Moon is in Aries, exchanging signs with Mars and Venus is in Gemini.

Review of this chart from a Tropical or “Western” astrological analysis could include the outer planets and would yield different information based on different calculations and altogether different interpretations, equally interesting and valid. However, it is the Vedic chart that captures the imagination at the moment. And, once again, it is only the constraints of time itself, that dictate a limited, albeit revealing, perspective of some key points in this chart reflecting the longevity and celebrity of a bridge that spans the centuries and isn’t vain about sharing its birthday.

We can assume the court astrologers meant for the bridge to last and stand the tests of time – if for no other reason than as a monument to their own prowess! And, we are told that the Sun and Saturn conjunction was considered the most auspicious time of the year to lay the cornerstone, so the Emperor Charles arose very early on that summer morning to complete this task. Maybe he always rose early or maybe kings just get up early every day regardless of their bridge responsibilities, but his astrologers wanted him by the River Vltava at that specific time on that specific day, and history records that he met that requirement.

The Sun, (an indicator for kingship or ruler in a chart) as noted earlier, was exactly aligned with the planet Saturn (an indicator for delays and obstacles), but the Sun was also close – within 5 degrees - to the planet Mercury (an indicator for commerce, communication and sometimes a youthful lack of discretion). In Vedic astrological terms, these two planets are ‘combust’ or burned up by the energy of the Sun. So it is the Sun itself that becomes prominent and powerful among these three planets in the sign of Cancer. And, while this is a chart for a bridge, not the king himself, it is, in point of fact, the king of planets that overcomes and subsumes the energies of these two planets and their individual characteristics. Saturn and Mercury are not considered particularly ‘friendly’ planets for a Cancer Ascendant so their weakened positions provide more power to the Sun and to the Moon, the ruler of the sign of Cancer. Which planets, then, of those four previously mentioned in the sign of Cancer were then left standing outside the influence of the Sun’s mighty rays of combustion? While the planetary conjunctions previously recounted were still in evidence, Mars and the south node of the moon, *Ketu, were beyond the Sun’s influence of combustion. Mars (an indicator for initiative, real estate, and a warrior planet) was also exactly conjunct (next to) the south node, *Ketu (associated with spiritual enlightenment and past-life karmas). And, Mars and *Ketu were also very close (within 3 degrees) of the all important Ascendant itself. This places the spiritual energy of the Mars/Ketu conjunction with the ‘king’, both literally and figuratively, revealing the imprint of their influence in the heavens and visible through the ages. Also, as easily seen in the chart all planetary placements lie between the nodes of the Moon, *Rahu and Ketu. That is to say, the planets are all located between Capricorn and Cancer. This configuration is particularly noteworthy in this discussion because it creates a ‘Kala Sarpa’ Yoga. This translates to a ‘serpent of time’ configuration and holds this chart and this bridge between these two key points which are often referred to as the ‘agents’ of Lords of Karma.

Mars’ exchange of signs with the Moon – ruler of Cancer, that cardinal water sign holding the preponderance of planetary energy for a very special bridge - indicates that Mars acts like the Moon and the Moon acts like Mars. In this case, each planet gains strength as this exchange effectively places them in their ‘own’ signs. Each planet exchanges it energies and influences with the other. And, this exchange occurs on a powerful 4 /10 house axis. These are two ‘kendras’ or ‘action’ houses. The fourth house is the house (“bhava”) associated with the mother, or in this case, perhaps the older interpretation associated with ancestral land, heritage and conveyences. The tenth house is associated with great deeds and accomplishments or even honor from government. Mars, the ‘spiritual’ warrior, Ketu, past life karmas, and the Moon, the Queen and indicator for our influence over others, combine their energies with the all powerful Sun (King) to astrologically anchor this time, this place and this bridge in royal trappings for the ages!

While we have access to these powerful pieces of the puzzle, we don’t know exactly what the ‘old’ astrologers were thinking or their exact rationale for choosing this time and place. But we do know the Sun effectively ‘wipes out’ two of its ‘enemies’ in the chart. We do know that the chart reflects a friendly and powerful Jupiter in the 8th house of longevity and we do know the feminine and masculine energies of the Sun and Moon combine with the spiritual warrior, Mars, to create a bridge across the River Vltava leading us to the royal castle in Prague.

The Charles Bridge still stands as a reminder that astrology continues to play a part in the study of time and place – both in historical study and as a reflected archive in the cosmos.


*These two planets (Ketu and its counterpart, Rahu or the north node of the Moon located in Aquarius, are given planetary status in Vedic astrology. The are the mathematical points associated with eclipses and are often studied as the ‘agents’ of the Lords of Karma.)


Patricia Sanders, M.Ed.
May, 2007