Time is extremely important in astrology. Without the birth time, you only get half the story. But what is perhaps worse than no birth time is an inaccurate one. If you were born during Daylight Saving Time, your natal chart may be off.
For many in the U.S., Daylight Saving Time (DST) is something we take for granted. Is it annoying having to flip flop between being an hour ahead to being an hour behind in time twice a year, throwing everything out of whack? Yes, but it is something the majority of states accept and fulfill year after year. However, this ritual of “springing forward” and “falling back” is relatively recent not only in the U.S., but across the world.
Some people think we Americans have DST “because of the farmers” but there weren’t many farmers in the 1970s when DST was standardized at the national level. However, farmers were likely still en vogue in 1895’s New Zealand. Entomologist (bug scientist) George Hudson is often cited as the man to first introduce the time bending concept of moving forward and backwards in time throughout certain points of the year. He proposed a 2-hour shift forward in October and a 2-hour shift back in March so that he could have more time in the summer to bug hunt. This idea never caught on, however.
Seven years later in Britain, builder William Willett was struck with the same idea. While he was riding his bike early in the morning one day, he realized, despite the Sun’s harsh light beaming down on the earth, the blinds of the houses nearby remained closed. Instead of understanding people’s complex love-hate relationship with the Sun, he thought that people should just get up a little bit earlier when the Sun wasn’t fully arisen. He suggested adding 20 minutes to each of the four Sundays in April and taking those minutes back in September.
Although it may have seemed that Willett was rather tongue-in-cheek when he proposed this idea in his 1907 pamphlet titled, “Waste of Daylight,” he was quite serious about this adjustment to time as he was able to persuade British authorities to introduce a DST bill into the House of Commons a year later. Unsurprisingly, however, the bill never passed despite much effort on Willett’s part until his death in 1915.
Willett’s death was not in vein though! Across the pond on July 1, 1908, the residents of Port Arthur, Ontario (present-day Thunder Bay) was the first place to presumably enact DST into law. Other places in Canada also passed DST bills in 1914 and 1916 as well. Back in Europe, the Germans were brainstorming ways on how to save the nation energy during the first World War. On April 30, 1916, clocks were moved an hour ahead at 11:00pm allowing for more light in the evening. DST ended on October 1st at around 1:00am.
Germany (and its ally Austria) writing DST into law more or less popularized the idea of DST as an energy saving mechanism for the war in Europe. For instance, on May 17, 1916, the United Kingdom passed its own DST bill with Willett reportedly seen dancing from beyond the grave. A few days later on May 21st, time jumped an hour ahead at around 2:00am to much of the public’s horror and dismay. Despite the opposition, however, DST seemed to spread across Europe like a virus. The U.S. even followed suit on March 9, 1918, as Congress not only enacted the first DST law, but defined time zones across the nation in the Standard Time Act as well.
Although DST seemed to be the hot new thing during the first World War, many countries understandably reverted back to what is now known as Standard Time until returning to DST after the second World War. This included the U.S., which repealed its DST law after 7 months of having implemented it. But several cities kept the change such as Boston, Pittsburg, and New York. The unenforced yet independently enacted nature of DST was the norm up until 1966.
The U.S. flirted with DST at the national level once during World War II in 1942 when then President Franklin D. Roosevelt reintroduced the model from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. But from 1945 to 1966 there were no uniform rules regarding DST, meaning that most states and individual counties and cities simply did what they wanted. This, of course, caused much havoc for public transportation and broadcasting schedules. So finally, in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that created a nationwide synchronized timetable of when to spring forward and fall back, which was on the last Sunday of April and October respectively at 2:00am local time.
This did not solve all of the U.S.’s time problems as Congress allowed states to opt out of DST and because of the U.S.’s now four different time zones that spans across 3 hours from coast to coast. (In 1972 the law was revised to allow a state that was in two or more time zones to exempt either the entire state or the part of the state that was in the different time zone.) Not to mention there were other various experiments at the national level such as the year-round DST that lasted from January 1974 to April 1975 and the continuous tinkering of the DST schedule since the late ‘80s until today. (Did you know that some states are trying to proposal bills that may make DST permanent or year-round?) Nevertheless, all states except for Arizona, Hawaii, and U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands observe DST. Around the world, 40% of countries claim to use some variant of DST.
So, what in the world does all of this have to do with astrology? Well, the underlying problem with DST seems to the fear of inaccuracy when drawing up a chart. Adding or subtracting an hour to the time can lead to many issues when calculating a birth chart such as the case of twins that were born in West Barnstable, Massachusetts. One brother was born around 1:39am on November 6, 2016, while the other twin arrived 31 minutes later. By this time, DST had ended which resulted in the second twin’s time being recorded at 1:10am! Although they would have the same Ascendant, the degree of it would differ in the “wrong” direction with the younger twin being perceived as the eldest.
Situations like these are unfortunately not unusual, because as has been shown in this article, DST was unregulated and unstandardized for the majority of its history that it has been implemented in the U.S. Luckily, however, many websites’ software reference numerous databases to ensure that the time entered is rendered in DST or Standard Time when applicable. Some websites like Astro Dienst even warn users that the time they have entered may occur twice as the time could have either been either DST or Standard Time.
Although safeguards like these and options to unmark the auto-detect time function on most birth chart calculators exist, the anxiety of imprecision seems to run high among astrologers and astrology enthusiasts. Many are of the opinion that even a second off can throw the entire natal chart out of whack. And this can very much well be the case when it comes to places that have observed DST in its history. Nevertheless, the question we should be asking is, “How accurate is accurate enough for a birth time?” Is the time on the birth certificate suffice? Or is the time on one’s hospital bracelet more or less correct? What about a time that a family member recalls? Is when the child crowning the birth time, or is it when they take their first breath? As we can see, “accuracy” in this context is very fluid and hard to pin down just like time. With that being said, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! Were you born during DST or Standard Time? Is your natal chart accurate or accurate enough for you?
If you like my work, support me on Ko-fi!
Arens, Christine. (2016). Saving Daylight Creates Timing Dilemma for Astrologers. Retrieved from http://astrologynewsservice.com/news/saving-daylight-creates-timing-dilemma-for-astrologers/
Bikos, Konstantin. (n.d.). Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the USA. Retrieved from https://www.timeanddate.com/time/us/daylight-saving-usa.html
Blakemore, Erin. (2019). Daylight Saving Time 2019: The Odd History of Changing Our Clocks. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/03/daylight-savings-time-arizona-florida-spring-forward-science/
Buckle, Anne. (n.d.). History of Daylight Saving Time (DST). Retrieved from https://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/history.html
—. (n.d.). Daylight Saving Time Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/statistics.html
Chuck, Elizabeth. (2019). Ditch the Switch? Call to Go on Permanent Daylight Saving Time Grows. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ditch-switch-call-go-permanent-daylight-saving-time-grows-n1043051
Daylight Saving. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/index.html