The Virgin City: The Mystery of Washington DC Astronomical Alignments
Writing a conspiracy thriller in this age of fake news takes some real research. Even then, some facts can be too fantastic to believe.
Years before I started writing fiction, I was a 22-year-old broadcast journalist in Washington, D.C. It was then and there that I first began noticing some crazy things about America’s capital, and it wasn’t the politics.
For example, what was with all the zodiacs? I was seeing them everywhere in federal buildings and public spaces. Wherever my crew and I shot my interviews and standups.
The Capitol Building. The Senate Dirksen Building. The Library of Congress. The Federal Reserve. The National Academy of Sciences. And on and on.
Digging deeper, I began researching old texts at the National Archives and Library of Congress, which officially boasted about a dozen zodiacs of its own. Working with an enthusiastic library staff, I found three more zodiacs in the Jefferson Building. They were shocked, I was hooked.
We were first to discover these hidden zodiacs since 1897.
Astrologers claim the zodiac proliferation in D.C. points back to the unique alignment of the sun and planets on the city’s official birthdate of July 16, 1790. (Disclosure: by pure coincidence, my wedding anniversary is July 16.) This “birth chart,” they say, identifies the city with mysteries and the occult. But I think they’re missing the heavens for the stars.
Birth charts always seemed “Un-American” to me, especially for a city or nation. Astrology? Determinism? In our land of the free? Treason! Maybe it worked for Ancient Rome (see my latest novel, The Chiron Confession). But not modern-day America (see Nancy Reagan).
Soon the powers that be and other people from government and the intelligence communities—and, yes, the Masons—came to me with all sorts of family history and off-the-books info from public and private collections.
One source got me into the tunnels under Capitol Hill (originally Jenkins Hill). These weren’t some secret tunnels that JFK used to slip Marilyn Monroe in and out of the White House. These were ancient tunnels, some of them said to be older than the republic. I remember that night clearly. I had just wrapped my coverage of the president’s State of the Union address. It was snowing, and I was about to head home for the night while I could still take the Metro or grab a cab. To think what I would have missed.
Sure enough, the secret of D.C.’s horoscope crystalized. No, our capital city didn’t miraculously spring from the virgin womb of the new republic on July 16. That date was chosen by George Washington. America’s first president instructed his fellow Freemason and French architect, Pierre L’Enfant, to align the site plan for the new Federal City with the constellation Virgo, based on the star charts created by his chief astronomer (and a former slave) Benjamin Banneker.
Specifically, L’Enfant fixed three proposed terrestrial monuments—the Presidential Palace (White House), the Congressional House (U.S. Capitol) and the Equestrian Statue to Honor Washington (the Washington Monument) to align with the alpha stars of three key constellations— Boötes (Arcturus), Leo (Regulus) and Virgo (Spica).
Those three constellations created a triangle in the sky—reflecting the Federal Triangle on the ground below—and frame the constellation Virgo. Ergo, my reference to D.C. as the Virgin City.
Why fix D.C. to the heavens? Long before the pyramids, the ancients aligned their cities and monuments to the stars, which represented the “eternal.” So, it shouldn’t surprise us that George Washington did the same with D.C., especially as he was on record with his fears about the ever-changing, temporal nature of carnal politics.
Why Virgo? To the Masons, the heavenly Virgin represents hearth and home, the milk of the breast, and the promise of the harvest. Virgo represents a very different purpose and destiny for America and the New World than, say, Aries, the god of war.
Today the Federal City has grown into something quite beyond what Washington originally imagined. You practically need X-ray eyes to see the alignments, radiants and other markers among the jam-packed maze of buildings now encroaching on the National Mall.
That’s why I believe the Masons incorporated zodiacs into federal building over the course of the past two centuries. In conspiracy thrillers like my own, astrological signs may represent clues to a hidden national treasure or sinister state secret. More likely, they’re simply reminders from the Founders and their proxies of America’s deeper meaning, pointing us to fix our eyes on the eternal light of glory in the heavens and aspire to reach higher as individuals and as a nation.
Thomas Greanias is the New York Times bestselling author of The Atlantis Prophecy and The Virgin City, and is founder of Atlantis Media Corp.