P. J. McGuire and Labor Day

Peter J. McGuire, the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was the first person to suggest that special day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” He recommended that this special national day be sometime between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.  He felt that would break up the long period and allow workers to enjoy the beauty of the Creator and rest.

Others contend that it really was a peace offering from President Grover Cleveland to Eugene Debs for the killing of a dozen or more of the striking railway workers in Pullman, Illinois.  We decided to look at the two arguments and see what the Natal Chart of the holiday suggests

            Bowling Green

According to the United States Department of Labor, the first Labor Day was in New York City. The mayor announced the whole day to be in its honor, so we chose midnight for its birth. The event’s  temperament type is a bowl 1 i.e.: all ten planets fall cleanly with the parameters of a tilted hemispheric rim angling from the 5th House of play & sport to the 11th house of the public. 

Bowl temperament types are rather self-contained and this one, primarily Northern based, has most of the planets shining upwards towards the southern or visible hemisphere, showing that the original Labor Day was indeed the familiar one of parties, barbecues and beaches.

The rim makes sense for the original Labor Day as Mr. McGuire intended. Later, though, the more widely accepted Labour Day takes on a different angle and becomes more political, but it also has a different nativity. Dr. Clyde Tombaugh did not discover for another fifty years Pluto while shown on the map.

The 06 Cancer Ascendant (Hyperion Symbol) of a “boxer skipping  rope” i.e. resting up by taking on some idle exercise to be in better shape agrees;   it is conjunct Jupiter and via a translation of light, the Moon. This is an excellent combination as Jupiter is exalted in Cancer and encourages good-naturedness and enthusiastic enjoyment of things undertaken. Also, this conjunction in the 1st house  denotes indulgence and patronage on the mundane level an important reminder as McGuire felt it should be a paid one given by the employer, otherwise how can someone really luxuriate in the day?

Labor Day 1882, shown in whole house format

                              What’s the line?

The Line of Vitality, that aspect between the Sun and the Moon, is sextile suggesting an effortless time where everyone puts off today their chores for tomorrow and just enjoy the bounty that they have sown.

The Line of Motivation, the aspect between Jupiter and Saturn, is missing.  While semi-sextile, that is not  major aspect according to Marc Jones’s  planetary rules and  so suggests the spirit of the day is undisciplined and unregulated. Probably true too then as it is now, as it is has become a major end-of-summer shopping spree dictated more by the sales than by need.

The third line is Social Significance (previously the Line of Culture) and appears  in a harmonious trine. We see that as everyone is in agreement, whether it be in parades or barbecues.

The fourth line of Self Determination is between Neptune and Uranus. This aspect is also in trine, indicate according to Marc Jones “man’s opportunity for significance in his world.” This is also prominent in the chart of John L. Lewis, the great UMW leader.

One rather striking thing is that Lilith is partile (exact in degree) to Neptune, highlighting that from the onset there were many who disputed McGuire’s notion of a respite. We can look to the second and national holiday to see how that turns out.

If you would like to download this chart, click here First Labour Day 1882.

The Second Labor Day

The next Labor Day is when President Grover Cleveland signed a bill making it national six days after the Pullman Railroader’s strike declaring it to be the first Monday in September after a full weekend. In 1894, that would be September 3, so we have another chart for that date.

Another bowl but this one lipped, making Uranus in the 4th the scoop.

We have another bowl with the national Labor Day but this one has a Uranian lip, keyword independence, in the 4th house of Virgo, keyword assimilation, that works as a focal determinator, or focus point, for the chart. Thus here the Uranus scoop highlights that the holiday had changed in meaning — whereas before it was a happy family holiday — now it was a strident call for fierce independence and recognition by the nation of that call.

The Asteroid Lilith, this was revised in June 2019 when we are discussing her, is now in the 5th House, and now an unaspected point, so while she hovers over in Sagittarius, keyword administration, she is making a little bucket of her own. Jones recognized nothing but the four traditional asteroids, Juno, Pallas, Ceres and Vesta and never counted them in his planetary pictures, but we do particularly when they are pointing to something in the chart that needs recognition.

We feel that Lilith as the bucket handle to the new chart crystallizes the inherent “competing interests” that the original McGuire chart saw: political parades, candidates politicking for office vs. the unofficial end of summer, shopping and cook-outs.

This chart has an ascendant of 08 Leo (in the whole house system everything starts at the beginning so the ascendant is not on the first cusp but somewhere in the first house depending upon its degree. Read more about this and the competing types here. Leo 8, (HS) “Zeus’s thunder-bolt” is the human instinct to focus on the important points and ignore the rest.

No lines, so now what?

The line of motivation is now absent, while the line of vitality is semi-sextile and Jones does not recognize that. There is only one conjunction in the map and that of Mental Chemistry, the aspect between Mercury and the Sun. Here the aspect is less than 1 degree that shows the blind rush to pushing through the legislature.

The line of social significance is inconjunct and culture is missing, so overall there are no important planetary lines but there is one opposition, from Saturn to the Midheaven giving the latter at 26 Aries (HS bread baking) some added weight over the ascendant, making the bucket type culminate in a personal shrewdness that is best used by the individual.

In the end, the difference is the recognition that America was becoming a more politically sophisticated country, but because of the dual nature of the bowl vs. bucket typing, it was also bucking against that and wanting to retain its idyllic purity. And so mostly since then over the intervening years, American politics have argued that very point.


We constantly review and vet our posts for accuracy and thoroughness. I revised this one on June 14, 2019.

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