How do the birth charts of America and Britain play out when we look at the Special Relationship? The long standing tie between the United States of America and United Kingdom is said to be a ‘special’ one, and has much to do with the fact that, even before English became a somewhat universal language, we shared a native tongue, a common religion and friendly relations between both sets of ruling classes. This, of course, is because the US – amazing though it may seem now – was once seen as little more than an annex of the UK, ‘the colonies’, as they were called in the eighteenth century.
Let’s look first, then, at this proverbial ‘special relationship’ shared by both countries, where according to Wikipedia it is
‘an unofficial term for the political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, military and historical relations between the United Kingdom and the United States, which has been used to different degrees in different times in history. It was used in a 1946 speech by Winston Churchill. Although both the United Kingdom and United States have close relationships with many other nations, the level of cooperation between them in economic activity, trade and commerce, military planning, execution of military operations, nuclear weapons technology, and intelligence sharing has been described as “unparalleled” among major powers … The United Kingdom and United States have been close allies in numerous military and political conflicts throughout the 20th and 21st centuries including World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Gulf War, and the War on Terror.’
The Special Relationship and the Synastry
As far as Americans are concerned (and one mustn’t take this too seriously) the British are are all emotionally uptight and buttoned up, possess bad teeth (like Austin Powers) and are obsessed by afternoon tea and the Royal family. We are, allegedly, reserved ‘speak properly’, sound ‘really clever’ and are also exceedingly polite. Plus, Britain is full of cities with narrow streets where we drive our Vauxhalls and Mini Coopers on the ‘wrong’ (i.e. right) side of the road. On the whole we are quaint and just a little eccentric, with our weird sports and food like cricket, marmite, and Yorkshire pudding. A post on the Quora website says, with regard to British oddness in relation to the English language: ‘They put “u” into words like color and favorite and pronounce the word derby as “darby” and ignore most of the letters in names like Worcester or Leicester. When they speak English, it sounds like something precious.’
Whereas the American observer may see us as rather too reserved, our perception seems to be that Americans are openly friendly, even somewhat over earnest in their personal manner. Many of the viewpoints and criticisms of America from Brits seem to centre on the issue of size, or expansiveness – whether they are remarking on its vast geography, automobiles, food portions at lunchtime, their expansive enthusiasm and capacity for sentimentality, or the actual waistbands of the inhabitants. May I remind readers that, on the USA national chart, the sun is conjunct Jupiter (expansion of Self and ego, the desire to incorporate more of the world into one’s life) in sensitive, emotional Cancer (‘ruling’ the stomach).
UK CHART ASPECT USA CHART
Sun Opposite Sun
Sun Trine Midheaven
Mercury Opposite Mars
Venus Trine Saturn
Saturn Square Ascendant
Uranus Square Venus
Ascendant Square Jupiter
Firstly, sun opposite sun is not necessarily a negative; it simply underscores the basic differences between the two entities. One can at best recognise something important, some special quality in the other one doesn’t actually possess oneself. I believe this serves as a general impression of the ‘special relationship’. Sun trine MC is a good augur for career and professional relations, a state which has always been well maintained between the two countries – trade, for example. Mercury opposite Mars can lead to arguments and can be responsible for obvious differences of style in communication – perhaps this is why Brits often consider Americans to be more voluble and vociferous!
But this dynamic is – to a large extent – softened by the ‘marriage of convenience’ aspect: Venus trine Saturn. These two planets in aspect have the focus on more practical issues: the thing that actually makes the relationship work, and Saturn will accommodate itself to hard-nosed reality if needed. This can be a utilitarian arrangement, the kind of relationship where – having recognised each other’s differences – a working compromise is achieved, irrespective of individual ideals or emotional considerations. This type of situation can occur when one country joins in with another’s war plans, simply because that’s what allies do. One rare instance where it didn’t happen is when Harold Wilson refused to commit troops to Vietnam for President Johnson in the mid-sixties.
Saturn square ascendant: the Saturn ‘partner’ here would be the arch traditionalist, quaint and old fashioned (which is how America sees us!). On a more serious note, it suggests some fundamental differences and deep rooted conflicts that are bound to surface at times. Relations between the US and UK were, in fact, severely strained throughout much of the nineteenth century. For example, according to Wikipedia:
‘Relations in the mid-19th century were often strained, and even verged on war when Britain almost supported the Confederacy in the early part of the American Civil War. British leaders were constantly annoyed from the 1840s to the 1860s by what they saw as Washington’s pandering to the democratic mob’
This is the Saturnian lack of patience with those not enforcing the rules, not being tough enough and exercising one’s true authority! Finally, there are the two happier kinds of cross aspects – Uranus square Venus, and ascendant square Jupiter. In the first instance, this is America seeing the Brits as basically eccentric and quirky (remember all of those weird sports and foods!), whereas it is fitting that they embody Jupiter squaring our ascendant (Libra). In other words, we notice the generous, gregarious, voluble and do-it-big element in Jupiter. (Think of the stereotyped American tourist – usually an unimpressed Texan – who boasts that things back home are much bigger than the puny English equivalent). Contrariwise, the Americans see the more modest, tolerant, polite and fair-play qualities of Libra on the UK ascendant.
The Special Relationship and the Composite Charts
The chart featured above (Derived Composite Synastry) is the Composite chart (as pioneered by the American astrologer Robert Hand) a technique which involves taking the midpoint between the positions of a related pair of planets from two birth charts. For instance, the midpoint between the sun in charts A and B gives us the position of the Composite sun. It is, as they say, that simple! What you have, as a result, is a chart of the relationship itself, as if it were a separate entity with a life of its own. What stands out immediately here is the moon-Venus conjunction, an indication of genuine feelings of affection between the two countries. Then again, the Composite sun falls in the 12th house, about which Robert Hand says that ‘this sun placement may make the relationship self defeating for both of you, particularly if you are not honest with each other.’1
In other words, openness is the key to the success of the relationship, otherwise suspicions are aroused, something which had occurred in the early 20th century:
‘For most of the period since 1919, Anglo-American relations had been cool and often suspicious. America’s ‘betrayal’ of the League of Nations was only the first in a series of US actions—over war debts, naval rivalry, the 1931–2 Manchurian crisis and the Depression—that convinced British leaders that the United States could not be relied on.’2
Look also at the 4th house Pluto (near to the IC) which is a tie to the past, roots and ‘where one comes from’. Robert Hand notes that a Composite Pluto in the fourth indicates that ‘past circumstances have a stronger than usual conditioning’ on the relationship – and this is pretty obvious in the case of the UK and America.
The second chart (Synastry Relationship) is another Composite, calculated with slightly different criteria from the previous one. It was pioneered by the British astrologer R.C. Davison, and has been known as a ‘Davison chart’ ever since. The chart here is based on the ‘midpoints’ in time and space of the two natal charts, for example, the midpoint in space for latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees N will be 45 deg N. Though very simple criteria, its results are often very powerful. As you can see, house-wise, the placings are similar, but the position of certain planets (moon, Venus, Mars for example) are now very different. I find that, instead of contradicting the standard Composite (based on planetary midpoints) the Davison chart can be used to add information. (Which is to say, where the Mars placing – for example – may be different in a Davison chart, the interpretation for Composite Mars there can be used to give extra significant detail.)
So what do we have, then? First, the moon-Mars conjunction in the Composite 1st house: with Composite moon in the 1st house, we have the kind of relationship where feelings and emotions play a huge role, no surprise given our shared common history, and the sense that the USA is something we gave birth to! According to Robert Hand, the Composite first house moon indicates that either partner knows intuitively what is going on with the other. It’s rather like a couple that has been married for more years than they care to remember – each one aware of the other’s foibles, though linked by a genuine mutual understanding.
But the presence of Mars here adds a new dimension. The first thing to note is that Composite Mars in the first house is definitely not a relationship of equals – it is competitive and based on the ‘superiority’ of one partner over the other. (Though what constitutes superiority can be a matter of opinion.) And – of course – it can be testy and conflict prone. This applies very much to the ‘special relationship’, indeed, as some commentators have noted, America has in the past fought England as an enemy as often as fighting alongside it as an ally. Indeed, the whole basis of our relationship with the USA (since they sought to break away from England) is founded on the War (Mars) of Independence – so how could Mars not be prominent on the Composite chart?
At the time of writing (early August 2017) both countries are undergoing momentous political change. They are – to put not too fine a point on it – in a state of upheaval. Even so, the Special Relationship continues:
‘Following the election of Donald Trump, the British government has sought to establish a close alliance with the Trump administration, which it has referred to as a new “special relationship” and which has proved to be strongly controversial in the United Kingdom. But leaders come and go – what will never go away, despite the appearance of superiority on the American side, is this mutual dependence which lies at the heart of the special relationship.
1 Hand, Robert, Planets in Composite, Para Research, 1975.
2. Reynolds, David (April 1990). “1940: Fulcrum of the Twentieth Century?”. International Affairs, 66.