The Masonic Astronomy of the Gateway Arch
Mundane Astrology
The Knepf's Snake-eye
by Ed Kohout

Masonic Astronomy and Saint Louis' Gateway Arch

Arial view of the Gateway Arch
Photo courtesy of and Robert F. Arteaga, JNEM.

The Modern Masonic Monument

One of the most awe-inspiring monuments in the USA is the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Built in the early 1960's, this towering structure was an engineering feat of no small order; to this day it is the tallest monument in America, and second only to the Eiffel Tower in Paris in height. Standing on the grounds of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, located on the riverfront of downtown St. Louis, this elegant steel glissade dominates the skyline of the oldest European city in the Midwest. Visitors from around the world marvel at the grandeur of this mega-structure of steel. When approaching St. Louis from Illinois over the Mississippi river, the Arch stands out as a giant. The design is timeless in its simplicity, regal in its play on light, modern in its form, but perhaps the thing I recall most about how it made me feel when I first saw it as a youngster was the playful sense of comfort that it suggested to me - strength of steel cast into a delicate curve of harmless beauty.

View of Arch from south
Photo courtesy of and Robert F. Arteaga, JNEM.

Beyond this technological and architectural triumph lies a monument tied to a much deeper symbolic setting that connects Thomas Jefferson, westward expansion, and the Louisiana Purchase into a wider historic reality that is Masonic in both spirit and measure. Great monuments of this stature tell us more than what is visible on the surface; they also represent "where" and "when" we are -- both physically on the face of the Earth as well as in our cultural evolution -- and thus are testaments to the values of our society's political craftsmen. As we will see, this monument is a marker of both time and space, anchored into the ground by visionaries that have kept a sacred geometric and geophysical astrology alive for centuries in hopes of freeing mankind of tyrrany and opression.

Envisioned and designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1947, it ended up being the final construction project of his brilliant career. When asked why he thought an arch would be a good symbol for the JNEM, he said,

"The major concern here was to create a monument which would have lasting significance and would be a landmark of our time. An absolutely simple shape -- such as the Egyptian pyramids or obelisks -- seemed to be the basis of the great memorials that have kept their significance and dignity across time. Neither an obelisk nor a rectangular box nor a dome seemed right on this site or for this purpose. But here, at the edge of the Mississippi River, a great arch did seem right. The arch could be a triumphal arch for our age as the triumphal arches of classical antiquity were for theirs."

This statement will seem more symbolic after we analyze the astrology, geometry, and numerology surrounding the design construction of this alloy giant. Mr. Saarinen, as any other artist, drew inspiration from somewhere. After all, this was not the first stand-alone arch in the history of man. The Brandenburg Gate comes to mind, as does the Arc d'Triomphe in France. These arches are variations based upon the original Roman Arch design, which was borne more out of practicality than symbolic gesture. Arches were for architects the most stable and economic form for construction of large stone edifices, be they simple aqueducts or larger Cathedrals. The shape allows itself to support its own weight while allowing large space for inhabitants underneath, with relatively little material.

Forms in Freemasonry: Arch, Solstice, Luminaries, and Cardinal Points

The shape of the Gateway arch is that of a catenary curve, and not a parabola as most people assume. A catenary curve by definition is the shape of a length of hanging chain. This term is also applied to the electrical lines that are suspended above electric train cars, but these lines are not technically catenaries. Nonetheless, the shape of the Gateway Arch is a perfect catenary, and this is perhaps the strongest kind of arch in terms of supporting itself.

Alfred E. Waite, in his New Encyclopedia of Freemasorny, speaks of the Catenarian Arch:

"There are two points from which this form of arch can be approached; the first is that of architecture, and it is proverbial in this respect that there is no curve in Masonry which approaches the catenary in strength; as regards the second, it is summarised in the simple statement that in its due and proper arrangement every Royal Arch Chapter approaches as nearly as possible the form of a catenarian arch. Of all that arises herefrom and belongs hereto it is not possible to speak: the motto is: Come and See. The word catenarius signifies chained or linked."1

There exists in Freemasonry the concept of the Royal Arch of Heaven, which is based upon astrological principles. In 1949, George Steinmetz wrote of the Royal Arch:

"Without some knowledge of astrology it is impossible for any one to fully understand the symbology of the Royal Arch degree, or for that matter Freemasonry, for it is replete with astrological references."2

Robert Hewitt Brown's Stellar Theology and Masonic Astronomy depicts his understanding of the Royal Arch with this next image. Brown gives the basic idea of the concept of the Royal Arch, but in some ways the particulars of the graphic are misleading, compared to what Brown relays about the graphic:

Robert H. Brown's Royal Arch "The accompanying diagram of the Royal Arch is but a geometrical projection, and, therefore, gives nothing more than the relative positions of the various constellations and signs of the Royal Arch.  The summer solstice is represented as the key-stone of the arch, and has the astronomical sign of the sun inscribed upon it, showing that the 21st of June the sun is exalted to the summit of the arch."3
  Figure 1 Robert H. Brown's astronomical rendition of the Royal Arch.

The graphic is incorrect as to where the keystone should be "placed," as it is shown in the middle of Cancer, where it should be on the cusp of Gemini/Cancer, as this is the precise point that the Sun "exalts" itself on the 21st of June.

18th C. Royal Arch Symbolry

A more elaborate graphic (taken from Ovason's Secret Architecture) that was popular in the late 18th Century and renders the same idea can be seen at the left. Here, the progression of the signs is from left to right, and we see the sign of Cancer as the entire keystone. The reason that the signs appear to be going in the wrong direction is that we are looking into the "temple" from the outside. Notice that a cluster of 7 stars float below the keystone, which are symbolic of the Pleiades. Notice also the heraldric shield that depicts an ox, an eagle, a lion, and a man. These are direct references to the fixed signs of the zodiac, namely Taurus, Scorpio, Leo, and Aquarius. The Sun and Moon hover above the arch, and above the two pillars that support the arch. These pillars are called Jachin and Boaz, are sometimes simply labeled as J and B, and are important elements in understanding the Royal Arch via operative Masonry.

  Figure 2 The Masonic Royal Arch

The early beginnings of temple building, allegedly dating back to the megalithic cultures of the Mediterranean, used certain techniques to plat structures that would result in foundations perfectly aligned to north, south, east and west. This could be done with precision by tracking the path of the rising Sun's shadow over the course of an entire year, and marking where the shadows intersect a larger circle drawn on the level ground. A perfect circle was easliy attained by driving a stake in the ground, tying a rope to the top as a tether, and inscribing a circle in the ground by walking around the circle with the rope stretched to give an equal radius. From this, an exact north/south alignment could be reckoned, and on this north/south line, two pillars could be erected at some predetermined spacing.

Once the two pillars were in place and standing perfectly upright, two important measures were taken. The first was to mark the path of the shadow cast by the northern pillar from rising Sun of the summer solstice, and the second was to mark the path of the shadow cast by the southern pillar from the rising sun of the winter solstice. The point where these two lines intersect would then become the center of the rectangular floor of the temple. The trick was in determining the precise dates of the solstices, but over successive observations, the solstical risings would obviously be seen as the days in which the pillars cast their most extreme angular shadows.

As Speculative Freemasonry emerged, it took these technical tools and crafted them into purely symbolic motifs, as seen above. Jachin and Boaz are actually cryptic names for the luminaries. Jachin is derived from the Hebrew word for the Moon, Jarac, and thus the "month" was called Jachin. Boaz is derived from two roots, "bo," motion, haste; and "az," fire, i.e., the moving fire.4

Effective occult symbolism operates on many levels simultaneously that evokes our perception of the interconnectedness of seemingly discordant aspects of our world. Masonic symbolism is perhaps the epitome of this level of thinking, and is invaluable to our understanding of astrology's relevance. The very basis of the Royal Arch is that of the Sun's travels through the zodiac. The ecliptic, which is the center of the band of sky called the zodiac, is defined as the planet of the path of the center of the Sun. A graph of the Sun's delination is the basis of the arch shape in the Royal Arch:

Figure 3

A better rendition of the meaning of the keystone would be to have only the first 6 signs of the zodiac in a semi-arc, and to place the Sun's symbol at the cusp of Gemini/Cancer:

Figuure 4

In pure astronomical terms, the Royal Arch is simply the Sun's ingress into Cancer, where it attains the highest declination of its journey through the zodiac. Masonic symbolism throughout the craft pays reverence to the Sun as the giver of life, and light, to mankind and to the world; its proper exalted spot is therefore where it is most elevated, and this is June 21st in our calendar.

Furthermore, this exalted point of  0 Cancer symbolically represents the gateway of life from the etheric realms into the material world.  This concept is nothing unique to Masonry, as it was significant in ancient cosmologies, and certainly the ancient Egyptians.

This point has an opposite, that of  0 Capricorn.  This point would reflect the opposite sentiment of 0 Cancer, or the gateway from the physical realm to the etheric -- the process of death, and is therefore suitable for memorials. This point is where the sun is lowest in declination, as seen in Figure X. Simply, the keystone is transited by the Sun on June 20/21st, the first day of summer, and the keystone's antithetical counterpart is transited by the Sun on December 21/22nd, the first day of winter. In keeping with this theme, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial was dedicated in 1935 on December 21st!

This was no ordinary winter solstice in astrological terms, as will be revealed shortly. Technically, the winter solstice in 1935 occurred on the 22nd of December in Saint Louis. If our symbolic pattern is to stand up, we should be able to find a reason for this discrepancy. The answer may be found in the history of the Louisiana Purchase, for which St. Louis would become the de facto capital under the guidance of Thomas Jefferson in 1803, 132 years earlier. (132 is a factor of 33, as 4 * 33 = 132. More on this later too!)

The two important dates surrounding the legalities of the Louisiana Purchase are:

Louisiana Purchase Treaty (April 30, 1803)

Authority Given to the President to Take Possession of the Territory of Louisiana (October 31, 1803)

The Louisiana Purchase treaty was signed in Paris, but an interesting astrological event occurred over St. Louis in the early morning that resembles the Sibly fixed star scenario as outlined in The Riddle of the Sibly Chart. Again, we see that Luna is conjunct the Regulus/iota Aquarii axis, and thus square to the Pleiades, highlighting the Masonic fixed star "square":

Luna co-setting with Regulus over St. Louis

Figure 5 Iota Aquarii rises as the Moon and Regulus co-set over St. Louis, USA, in this rare astronomical event that resembles the Sibly fixed star alignments.

More amazing is the geodetic relationship between St. Louis and (once again!) Giza, Egypt. As Luna and Regulus co-set at the future site of the Gateway Arch, Mars rose at Giza:

Luna co-setting with Regulus over St. Louis

Figure 6 Mars rises over Giza at the same moment Luna and Regulus co-set over St. Louis.

This kind of geodetic astrology is commonplace in Masonically-influenced events of note, and it is the mission of this author to elucidate this pattern that is so pervasive in American history.

The date of the treaty may seem familiar as the same calendar date of the first Presidential Inauguration in 1789, 14 years earlier. The Inauguration date of George Washington may have been chosen to honor the deputation of the first Grand Master of New England by the Grand Lodge of England in 1733 (O.S.).  Freemasonry was active in the Colonies prior to that date, but painstaking research has proven that Henry Price was deputized by Grand Master Lord Viscount Montague on this date, and that this was the first deputation to be realized on American soil.

The date of the Congressional resolution is more familiar as Halloween, better known before the 18th Century as "All Hallows Eve," or "All Saint's Eve," in celebration of November 1st as the date to honor all Saints.  Saints attain sainthood only after death, and November 1st was a fitting date to sanctify as "All Saints" as it was the festival of Samhain when the Earth was thought to enter a zone of death -- currently known as winter. Calendrically, this date coincided with the acronycal rising of the Pleiades in the pre-Carolignian era of Europe, and this fact makes the following chart interesting:

Luna conjunct the Pleiades at Noon on Halloween, 1803.

Figure 7 Noon chart for the Congressional Act of October 31, 1803, drawn for St. Louis.

November 1st and May 1st (May Day), two of the four mid-quarter dates, were celebrated as the ends of fall and spring and beginnings of winter and summer in much of Pagan Europe before and during the Medieval period. The Church preempted the dates for Christian observance as the reach of Charlemagne's Rome spread to the north, and the Christianization of the old festival dates was mostly complete by the Carolignian era.

This process of "Sainting" the old calendaric festivals was an attempt to reach out to the pagan community for Political cohesiveness throughout Christendom, and thus the correlations are vague or unknown to many Protestants. However, scholarship has shown that the ancient Celtic and Druid calendars did incorporate these dates as seasonal markers, now recognized as the middle of the fixed signs of Taurus and Scorpio, or the beginnings of calendrical (meteorological) summer and winter, respectively.5 The fixed stars associated with these dates were, in those days, the Pleiades/Alcyone (eta Taurii) and Graffias (beta Scorpius). These stars were also half of the grand square of the sidereal zodiac, with Regulus (alpha Leonis) and the nameless iota Aquarii.  Positions in the tropical zodiac due to precession are as follows:

Star 2000 AD 800 AD
Pleiades (eta Taurii) 0000' Gemini 1317' Taurus
Regulus (alpha Leonis) 2950' Leo 1312' Leo
Graffias (beta Scorpii) 0311' Sagittarius 1517' Scorpio
Iota Aquarii 2843' Aquarius 1149' Aquarius

It is easy to see that these stars occupied the midpoints of the cardinal points in the 9th Century, which was a crucial age for the consolidation of stellar and cosmological practices in Western Europe in the milieu of the Carolignian Reniassance. It was easy to observe solstical events by measuring the shadows of the Sun, and from that the equinoxes, but it was not as simple to measure the halfway points between these cardinal solar transits. The solution to this problem was partly dependant upon recognizing when the above stars culminated at midnight; this would help adjust the calendar and ensure the proper festivals were celebrated on the proper days.

Calendrically, these dates corresponded to May 1st (mid-spring), August 1st (mid-summer), November 1st (mid-fall) and February 1st (mid-winter) of the Roman Julian calendar. Our current unofficial festival called "Groundhog Day" is a bastardization of the pagan mid-winter observation, as is May Day the remnant of the original Beltane, when the Sun was conjunct the Pleiades. Halloween is derived from the acronycal rising and midnight culmination of the Pleiades, formerly the festival of Samhain.

Geodescy and Eclipses

Geodetic principles along with Masonic Astronomy combine to furnish the important symbolic allusions to the location of the Gateway Arch, on the banks of the Mississippi, only a few miles from the longitude of 90 West To be precise, coordinates of each corner of the monument are listed as 38.627952º N 90.1843880º W and 38.62258º N 90.186339º W. Averaged out, we arrive at the following figures for the center, and the unique keystone of the Gateway Arch:

38.625266º N, which translates to 38º 37' 31" North;
90.185364º W, which translates to 90º 11' 07" West;

90 West longitude is significant in a geodetic sense as it is really 270 east of London and the Grand Lodge of England, which lies on the prime meridian, or 0. In geodetic equivalents, the Prime Meridian is equal to the fiducial of the ecliptic, or 0 Aries. The latitude/longitude grid of the earth is similar to the ecliptic's; the zodiac signs are simply 30 sections of the sphere that taper off at the poles. 90 West on the earth is the geodetic equivalent of  0 Capricorn, which was explained above as the opposite point of the keystone of the Royal Arch of Heaven. More on the Geodetic Zodiac is available at this site:

The measurements of the Arch itself are another clue to its geodetic reference. It stands 630 feet high in the center (keystone) by 630 feet wide at the base (pillars). This could be construed as numerical allusions to 0 Capricorn, as 630 - 360 = 270. Closer examination of the facts argue more loudly for this hypothesis. Earlier we discussed the December 21st date of the dedication of the JNEM. A quick consult to the astronomical tables shows us that an annular eclipse of the Sun occurred four days later on Christmas Day, 1935, with the path of totality crossing the continent of Antarctica:

Eclipse path over Antarctica on Christmas Day, 1935

Figure 8 Computer generated map of the path of totality of the Christmas Eclipse of 1935. St. Louis is located directly north, but out of the frame.

I generated this graphic with 90 W pointing directly north towards St. Louis. The following graphic, a sky map, is a southern view of the eclipse from St. Louis:

Location of Sun and Moon at high noon over St. Louis on Christmas Day, 1935

Figure 9 Astrology wheel showing the co-culmination of the Sun and Moon on Christmas Day of 1935 over St. Louis.

Here we can see that the local meridian (the 180 vertical line) dissects both luminaries, although no visible evidence of an eclipse would have been evident for someone standing in St. Louis during this particular eclipse. The next graphic is the Solar Fire generated chart for the skymap above -- a culminant Sun at the locale of St. Louis during this eclipse:

Eclipse as it culminates over St. Louis on Christmas 1935

Figure 10 Sky map showing the co-culmination of the Sun and Moon on Christmas Day of 1935 over St. Louis.

Even more incredibly, not only does the cardinal meridian intersect both luminaries, but the ecliptic's cardinal points play a special role in this eclipse for the locale of the Gateway Arch: a chart drawn for downtown St. Louis for the moment when 0 Capricorn passes directly overhead boasts the geocentrically measured lunation to the minute of arc, as seen below:

Chart for the conjunction of cardinal ecliptic and alt/az.

Figure 11 Astrology wheel showing the Christmas eclipse as the cardinal points aligned over the locale of St. Louis.

If that weren't enough to astound, we have the following astrological connection between the October 31, 1803 noon chart for the Arch and the geocentric lunar transit of that point on December 21, 1935, which produces a Part of Fortune exactly on the ASC of the 1803 chart!!

alignment of Halloween, 1803, and JNEM, 1935.

Figure 12 An Astrology bi-wheel showing the Congressional Act of halloween, 1803, seen above as Figure 7, on the inner wheel with Luna's transit of the Sun/MC on the date of the dedication of the JNEM in 1935.

The Part of Fortune is calculated factoring the coordinates of the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant. The net effect of this amazing coincidence is that again we have a special interaction of the cardinal points between two different dates for the same location, and this perhaps may explain why the 21st of December was chosen to dedicate the JNEM, which rests on the geodetic "Capricorn" line.

The fact that all of these important measurements and moments establish an astrological pattern centered around cardinal points (with an emphasis on 0 Capricorn) is surely remarkable, and suggests that this pattern comprised part of the intelligence of the design. Investigating the history of all events surrounding the Arch including planning, design, construction, and even the lighting ceremony of 2001 reveal a pattern of Masonic symbolism that is as astounding as it is ingenious.

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1 Waite, Alfred E., "New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry," Wings Books, New York, (reprint) 1970, p. 42.
2 Stienmetz, George, "The Royal Arch: Its Hidden Meaning," Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, Inc., Richmond, Virginia, 1946, p. 85.
3 Brown, Robert Hewitt, "Stellar Theology and Masonic Astronomy," New York, D. Appleton and Co, 1882, pp. 36-7.
4 Brown, pp. 75-6.
5 McCluskey, Stephen, "Astronomies and Cultures in Early Medieval Europe," Cabridge University Press, 1998, pp. 30-61.

Copyright 2002 Edward Kohout.