A Question of Timing: SOTU 2019

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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Original request from student/friend [edited]:

“This was sent to me by a fellow I know. It’s obviously written by a supporter. I thought it was interesting enough to spend some time fact checking. Most news outlets list the SOTU start time as 9:00 PM. I saw where the White House website DID say 9:10; but then this author [astrologer who timed start of speech accurately] says the speech actually began at 9:07 PM. What time does a speech actually begin? When the speaker enters the room? When s/he speaks the first word? I know there may be a built-in delay for TV “live coverage”, so that may need to be considered as well. It was just a speech, just words, which through all of human history stirs up the most conflict!” My reply… (superfluous stuff edited out):

As to timing… I will use an outside example as an explanation.

You plan a wedding. You want everyone to be there on time for the processional and ceremony. That’s the time usually announced. There may be a variety of sermons, etc. before the vows are actually taken.

  • Short: sermon or notary public-type wedding, a few minutes.
  • Average attention span of audience: eighteen minutes (I am a minister).
  • Long: anything over twenty minutes (ceremonial, long sermon, tradition, etc.)

I studied a number of the British crown weddings, which are well-reported, and with time going back to the early 1900s. The ceremonies themselves averaged about twenty minutes even with the pomp and circumstance. So I set most of the charts for twenty minutes AFTER the announced time. Those corrected charts worked for whatever I was studying. IF there were any exceptions (such as longer, shorter, interrupted, etc.) those exceptions would have to be taken into account.

  • The set time is for convenience: everyone there, everyone seated, no disruptions, eyes on the bride and groom, etc.
  • The promise between the bride and groom would be their vows followed by the legal authority to swear in the marriage: “By the authority vested in me by…”, fill in the blanks, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” That’s when it is legal.

Note: There are usually only a couple of minutes between “I do” or “I will” and “I now pronounce you”.

Having said all that, when I moved into this house, I was close friends with two well-known astrologers. They did not use the time of the signing of the contract for the house, which was my original choice for time because of legal responsibility and possession of property. My friends used the minute that you crossed the home threshold the first time. My eventual reasoning? The legal was for the house as property. The second was for the home. You can see the use of each: legal and actual occupancy. I just had never encountered the threshold concept prior to that.

Think: when a baby is born and that birth is timed, what exactly was timed? That is usually the doctor’s choice. Emergence, first indrawn breath, cutting umbilicus, guessing later because no one recorded the actual time? Traditionally astrologers prefer the first indrawn breath, the baby is emancipated at that moment.  Usually there is very little time between those choices, but astrologers need accuracy. Were the watches/clocks in the delivery room accurate? A research project (100 live births in two local hospitals) was done many moons ago with a nurse/anesthetist astrologer. She was accurate and timed the first indrawn breaths for me. My purpose was to check out, verify or dispute an astrological technique that postulated that the birth time would result in the birth of a specific gender. (The percentages did not hold up. I am perfectly capable of making mistakes on my own, I don’t need any help from outside techniques.)

To answer your timing question specifically:

  • SOTU schedule was 9:00 PM EST, everybody in place, ready to commence, not actual speech reality, allowing possibly for TV coordination.
  • Announced time by White House probably rounded off, or convenient, or someone guessed.
  • Watched and timed by an Astrologer? Most reliable IF their watch were accurate.

My choice for timing would be to think about what was being asked of the chart for the most reliable measure of that question.

First published in Today Astrology vol 81#2, Feb 2019, republished with slight editing.

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