A clock is needed to time the birth moment and when Alexander the Great was born – around 355BC – there wasn’t one. Clocks and watches are quite recent inventions so way back then sunrise and sunset were very popular birth times. Linking the birth moment to either of these major daily happenings didn’t need a clock, watch or hourglass. It was just a matter of checking where the sun was. And the practice didn’t stop with the invention of the clock. Abraham Lincoln was born at ‘sun-up’; composer Richard Wagner at sunrise; and Carl Jung ‘when the last rays of the setting sun lit the room.’ So here’s a fact-check on birth times and birth certificates.
The records show – judging by the birth data collected by Michel Gauquelin from civil birth registers in France, Italy and other European countries – that most births in the 1800s occurred on the hour. And this forces the conclusion that births were not accurately timed. Clocks were around but they weren’t used for timing births. Back then the birth time wasn’t an important issue and the idea that a precise hour and minute should be recorded as the birth time hadn’t been hatched. The birth hour was regarded as the birth time and if it wasn’t known any hour would do. In Europe the parents – not the doctor – registered a child’s birth sometime after the main event and they very often gave an approximate birth hour. This practice was accepted throughout Europe and it’s safe to say that most of the registered births didn’t occur at the time that’s recorded.
History reveals that the documentation and registration of a child’s birth was a quite common practice, but certified birth certificates are a very recent invention. Abraham Lincoln didn’t have one and the only existing record of his birth date is an autobiographical sketch in which he states February 12, 1809. Cleopatra didn’t have one either, but her birth in 69BC in Alexandria, Egypt was recorded by priests in hieroglyphic text. The registration of births it seems is just a matter of when and where you were born. The authorities in some countries – China, Egypt, Greece – kept tabs on population numbers for military and tax purposes, but there is no birth record for Genghis Khan because Mongolia didn’t keep birth records when he was born.
In the US – prior to 1900 – births frequently went unrecorded or were noted by doctors, midwives, church officials or family members. Then from 1900 to 1946 the US Census Bureau designed standard birth certificates and generally sought to improve the accuracy of vital statistics. In 1946 this responsibility passed to the US Public Health Service. They issued a standard form called a ‘Certificate of Live Birth’; however individual states could create their own.
Most countries now have statutes and laws that regulate the registration of births. Most often it’s the responsibility of the mother’s physician, midwife, hospital administrator – or the child’s parents – to properly register the child’s birth with the appropriate government agency. The official birth document is then stored with the agency. In the US the physician attending the birth – or hospital administrator – is required by law to complete the birth certificate form and forward it to a local or state registrar who stores the record and issues certified copies when requested. Your birth certificate provides prima facie evidence that you were born, but in 2008 it was estimated that 51 million babies – more than two-fifths of those born worldwide – were not registered at birth.
In most countries the attending physician or midwife records a child’s hour and minute of birth on a birth record. On occasions an interested third party with a stop watch may record an even more precise time; but different countries have different procedures and different accuracy standards and some record the birth time on a birth certificate and some don’t.
In the US, Italy, France and Scotland and most countries in the Euro Zone a very precise time of birth is recorded on a birth certificate. Japan started entering the birth time on the birth record in 1947 and most countries in South America record the birth time on a birth certificate. But England and Australia don’t. These countries have birth certificates but the birth time is not documented on the certificate. It is documented (by someone) on the hospital records or the baby’s birth announcement or baby card.
The actual event that signals the exact moment of birth is an important astrological issue and there are three separate events that the attending doctor or midwife can consider as the birth moment. They are: (1) the time the baby is taken from the womb, (2) the time the umbilical cord is cut and (3) the time the baby takes its first breath. And the circumstances surrounding the birth determine if these three events occur at almost the same time or not.
From an astrological perspective the exact moment of birth, and the time for which the birthchart should be calculated, is the time the child takes its first breath. This marks the moment when the electromagnetic forces previously provided by the mother become polarized to the child. It’s the starting point of the child’s independent life – the time when its temperature, pulse and respiration begin to function without the aid of its mother. The cutting of the umbilical cord is not important when it comes to timing the birthchart.
A child’s life begins in time and space and the time it takes its first breath starts the journey. And your birthchart should be calculated for the time you drew your first independent breath, and oxidation gave you an electromagnetic form of your own. But the general public remains largely unaware of just how important this momentous moment really is. And it’s unlikely if the time on your birth certificate is as precise as its importance warrants. It’s your birth date – not your birth time – that gets all the notice and legal attention. An almost accurate birth time has been recorded on your birth record and that’s the time you should use to calculate your birthchart.