Category Archives: Principles

Twelve Easy Lessons for Beginners | 5. Regards (Whole Sign Aspects) and Planetary Combination

But since the variety of the impulses of the soul is great, it stands to reason that we would make such an inquiry in no simple or offhand manner, but by means of many complicated observations. For indeed the differences between the signs which contain Mercury and the moon, or the planets that dominate them, can contribute much to the character of the soul [,,,]

Ptolemy from the Tetrabiblos (Robbins trans., 1940, III.13, cam. p. 154)


This post is part of a series of lessons on the basics of horoscopic astrology as practiced on this site and by astrologers in about its first 1,000 years.  As such, it is highly recommended that the reader review the previous posts in the series before proceeding. This post presupposes knowledge of the information in the other posts, as well as familiarity with matters one was instructed to study in the previous posts (such as zodiac and planetary glyphs).  The first post introduced the history of astrology and the significance of the planets.  The second post introduced free astrology charting software, as well as the horizon and meridian and the role that they play in planetary prominence.  The third post introduced various other important planetary prominence considerations. The fourth post is most critical to this discussion as it introduced the signs of the zodiac, their rulers, some features of the signs, and the strong relationship that signs of the same quadruplicity have with each other (i.e. “stakes”).  In this post we look at the most basic types of planetary relationships, which are those which pertain according to sign relationships, including the main forms of planetary rulership, as well as regards (also known as whole sign aspects).

Planets Influencing Other Planets

In the first three posts of the series we focused on planets and their significations, looking for ways in which their significations can become more or less prominent in characterizing life circumstances. In the last post, we considered that signs also further characterize matters.  Signs do this through their own features as well as the nature of their rulers.   Now we consider that planets are themselves in signs, and those signs are ruled by other planets, and may also be occupied by other planets. Therefore, in astrology the significations of any planet are further characterized by its relationship with other planets.  In life, different areas of life are not neatly separate, but interact in interesting ways that differ from person to person, as well as over the course of life. The way that planets influence the significations of other planets (and “places”, the topic of the next post), helps to characterize the nuances and variety of experience.  Different planets will play more prominent roles in influencing the significations of any planet in any particular chart, and while many planets may influence the significations, timing techniques help us determine when different planets more dominantly characterize what is being signified. Therefore, both the breadth and depth of particular influences on the signification of a planet are important. Considering all of the influences alerts us to the broad possibilities of signification that are possible, allowing us to see what can get highlighted when different points become activated by timing techniques. Considering the deepest or strongest influences helps us to understand the “status quo” or the more commonly recurring themes that crop up in relation to whatever is being symbolized.

The two primary ways that planets influence the symbolism of other planets is through rulership and aspect. We dealt with some of the important types of rulership in the last post on signs, and here will flesh out the other important types of rulership.  The aspectual system of ancient astrology has some more advanced features, but the foundation of the aspectual system is whole sign aspects, called regards.  These regards are crucially based on planetary rulership relationships and a sight metaphor. After discussing the forms of planetary rulership, we will delve into the basis of the regards and how the system works.

Ptolemy’s Predominator

The main types of rulership (house or domicile, exaltation, triplicity, and bound), as well as planetary regards, are fundamental parts of astrological theory, used by all the major ancient astrologers.  Even Ptolemy (2nd century CE), who made almost no use of places or houses for analyzing topics (houses/places will be addressed in the next post), and who sought physics-based ways to explain astrology, relied heavily upon rulership and regard. Ptolemy was known to analyze areas of life based on the planet or planets which were most relevant given their natural significations.  For instance, as in the opening quote of this post, if we wanted to analyze someone’s psychology then we’d look at Mercury for the rationale mind, and the Moon for the irrational (what we might term the unconscious today).  In order to look at planets that “dominate” the rational mind, we would look at 5 key relationships other planets have with Mercury:

1. House/domicile lord (i.e. sign ruler of the sign the Moon is in).

2. Exaltation lord (i.e. planet exalted in the sign it is in).

3. Main triplicity lord (i.e. ruler of the element of the sign it is in).

4. Bound/term lord (i.e. ruler of the part of the sign it is in; addressed next).

5. Planetary regards (i.e. planets in signs that make whole sign aspects to the Moon).

As Ptolemy puts it (note that in this passage a word was translated as “trine” in this 1940 translation but is more accurately “triplicity”, as in triplicity lord):
In general the mode of domination is considered as falling under these five forms: when it is trine, house, exaltation, term, and phase or aspect; that is, whenever the place in question is related in one or several or all of these ways to the star that is to be the ruler. (Ptolemy, Robbins trans., 1940, II.2, p. 109)

The house lord, exaltation lord, and triplicity lord were introduced in the last post.

Bounds or Terms

The bounds or terms are divisions of each sign into 5 segments, each ruled by a different one of the non-luminary planets.  In other words, each sign is a house of one planet, and each house is broken into 5 rooms which are ruled by each planet excepting the Sun and Moon.  These “bounds” are unequal divisions of the signs and the rationale behind the way the signs are divided into them has been lost to history.  Some authors (including Ptolemy) proposed multiple systems of dividing the signs into bounds, but by far the most wide-spread and the oldest (see this article on pre-Hellenistic evidence for bounds), are the Egyptian bounds.

Project Hindsight provides a convenient rulership tables PDF which includes the Egyptian bounds and other types of rulers.  If I’m online and need to look up bounds quickly, I typically prefer to check the Altair Astrology page for his article on bounds, as it has a very easy-to-read table of the Egyptian bounds. Additionally, the bounds are displayed in almost all charts on this site, as I use the Valens software which allows one to view the bounds within the chart.

Let’s look at an example chart (Whitney Houston, AA-rated) and determine the rulers of a few planets.

Whitney Houston's Natal Chart

Whitney Houston’s Natal Chart

The Sun and Venus: 

The Sun and Venus are in the same bound of the same sign, so they have all of the same rulers.

House: The Sun.  The Sun and Venus are in Leo, which is the house of the Sun.  A planet being in one of its own places of rulership is re-inforcing to the significations of the planet, so is a type of planetary prominence or strength (in this case for the Sun).

Exaltation: None. There is no exaltation lord for Leo.

Triplicity: Jupiter.  She was born at night, and the triplicity lord of fire signs (of which Leo is one) at night is Jupiter.

Bound: Saturn. Both the Sun and Venus are in the bound ruled by Saturn.

The Moon and Jupiter:

These two planets also have the same rulers as they are found in the same bound of the same sign.

House: Mars. Mars is the house lord of Aries.

Exaltation: The Sun. The Sun is the exaltation lord of Aries.

Triplicity: Jupiter. Jupiter is the triplicity lord of fire signs by night.

Bound: Mercury. Mercury is the bound lord of both planets.


For now, this is just an exercise in identifying the rulers.  I will discuss how they can be used later in the post.

Regards and How They Relate to the House Rulers

Planets that are in the same sign together are particularly influential upon each other and they are said to be “with” each other, or sometimes said to be “conjunct”.  This is the most powerful type of regard or aspect, but it is often not specifically called a “regard” or “aspect” because the planets are literally in the same place, rather than “seeing” each other.  In the ancient texts, it is more commonly referred to as two planets “with” each other than “conjunct” each other, as the term conjunction is often used for close aspects by degree (to be dealt with in a future post), whether they are between two planets in the same place (bodily conjunction/joining) or between two planets aspecting each other (aspectual conjunction/joining).  I will continue this trend here, referring to planets in the same sign as “with” each other.  For instance, the Sun and Venus are with each other in Whitney Houston’s chart, as both are in Leo. In this way their significations are very strongly tied together.

There are 4 additional aspects between planets, and these are based on a visual metaphor.  Examine the diagram of planetary domiciles/houses below (image attribution: Meredith Garstin commons).  Also, see the diagram on The Astrology Dictionary’s entry on “aspect”.

Domicile Rulers

Opposition: Note that the domiciles of Saturn (Capricorn and Aquarius) are opposite those of the Sun and Moon (Leo and Cancer).  Signs that are opposite each other are said to be in opposition and the relationship can be one of challenge, limitation, or obstruction, much akin to the nature of Saturn. The 7th sign from any sign is opposed to that sign.

Square: Note that each of the domiciles of Mars (Aries and Scorpio) are at a 90 degree angle from the domiciles of one of the lights (Sun or Moon).  This relationship is called a “square”  as the shape of a square is composed of right angles (or “quartile” as the signs are 90 degrees apart which is a quarter of the zodiac), and it is a relationship which be one of intensity, competition, and clash, much akin to the nature of Mars. The 4th and 10th (i.e. 4th backwards) sign from any sign is square to that sign.

Trine: Note that each of the domiciles of Jupiter (Sagittarius and Pisces) are at a 120 degree angle from the domiciles of one of the lights (Sun or Moon).  This relationship is called a “trine” as there are always three signs which trine each other (i.e. those of the same triplicity) and together their trines form a triangle. The relationship is one of friendship, strong harmony, and opportunity, much akin to the nature of Jupiter. The 5th and 9th (i.e. 5th backwards) sign from any sign is trine to that sign.

Sextile: Note that each of the domiciles of Venus (Taurus and Libra) are at a 60 degree angle from the domiciles of one of the lights (Sun or Moon).  This relationship is called a sextile as it is composed of two signs 60 degrees apart (60 degrees is a 1/6th of the zodiac).  The relationship is one of complement, much akin to the nature of Venus. The 3rd and 11th  (i.e. 3rd backwards) sign from any sign is sextile to that sign.

Read how Ptolemy describes the 4 aspects in Ch. 13 of Book I “Of the Aspects of the Signs” by clicking into this link, though note that Ptolemy partially sought a physical explanation for astrological phenomena, that the nature of the aspects are derived from musical harmony rather than planetary rulership relationships.  He partially sought an explanation based on sign features also, but he erroneously stated that signs in opposition and square/quartile are less harmonious due to being of opposite sex, when in fact only the square involves signs of opposite sex.

Signs that are not in one of the above 4 relationships with each other are said to be “not in concord”, “disjunct”, “inconjunct”, or “alien”.  As Serapio of Alexandra put it, “Not in concord are those that are in no way aspecting each other” (Holden trans., 2009, p. 61).  Though some astrologers, including Ptolemy and Porphyry, considered planets not to be disjunct if they have some other type of sign sympathy (see my post on sign symmetry for some of these types of sympathy). In any case, planets may be said to regard (as in see) those signs that they aspect, while those that are not aspected are not as directly influential as they are akin to being out of sight.  The signs that are not in aspect are the 2nd, 6th, 8th, and 12th from any sign. This concept of areas out of sight is important, as we’ll see, in the next post on places, that ancient astrologers associated those signs that the rising sign can’t see with topics in life that tend to be the most problematic for people (and often called them the “dark” or “bad” places/houses).  This is because the rising sign symbolized the individual person and the signs that they can’t see are akin to more “alien” influences.

Overcoming and Domination

When looking at combinations of planetary symbolism through regards, we should also take into account which planet has the upper hand in characterizing the relationship.  Sometimes astrologers do this by seeing which planet is more re-inforced in the sense that it is in a spot where it has some rulership of its own position (such as the Sun when the Sun and Venus are together in Leo, as Leo is the house of the Sun).  However, in Hellenistic astrology this was often done by looking at which planet was to the right (or clockwise from the other planet) in the relationship.  Planets normally progress forward through the zodiac, so the planet in an earlier position zodiacally (i.e. to the right or clockwise) is figuratively behind the other planet, putting the other planet in a more vulnerable position.  I refer to the planet on the right as “overcoming” the planet on the left.  This concept was used with greatest prevalence for the “square” aspect, in which the planet on the right was said to “overpower” (Dorotheus) or “predominate”/”dominate” (Porphyry).

And the [star] that is in the tenth sign is said to be predominant and to prevail over the one in the fourth [sign from it], e.g. the star that chances to be in Libra is dominant over the one in Capricorn, and the one in Capricorn is dominant over the one in Aries.

(Porphyry, Holden trans., 2009, Ch. 20, p. 17)

The concept is used less for the trine and sextile but is still important and is mentioned by some astrologers as “overcoming” or “prevailing”.  See the Porphyry quote below regard prevailing as applying to the trine, square, and sextile, whereas in the quote above he defines predominating as a special type of prevailing involving the square.  It may be that the distinction is most relevant for the square because of the Mars-like nature of the aspect, as it is helpful to know what is dominant when planets are in a relationship of conflict.

Every star prevails when it is posited in a dexter trine or square or sextile to one on its left, for that one goes toward it. For example, one that is in Capricorn prevails over one in trine aspect in Taurus […]  They say that prevailing is more powerful when [the planets] are in trine or square. For the prevailing star is thus stronger […].

(Porphyry, Holden trans., 2009, Ch. 21, p. 17)

So far, we see that planets on the right side are more influential in the aspect relationship, and that this is most important for the square, where the planet “dominates”, and then next most important for the trine, and even less important for the sextile.  The concept is not used at all for the opposition.  At least for one Hellenistic astrologer, Serapio of Alexander, the concept was important for planets with each other in the same sign as well (see quote below).  Therefore, I will generally refer to the planet on the right as “overcoming” whether they are “with”, square, trine, or sextile, and may occasionally use the term “dominates” for the one on the right in a square aspect to signify the increased importance.

whenever two stars are present in the same sign, and the one having fewer degrees prevails over the one having more degrees, e.g., the star of Mercury in Aries around the 10th degree, that of Saturn in the same sign around the 25th degree–it is evident that the [star] of Mercury prevails over that of Saturn by degrees.

(Serapio, Holden trans., 2009, p. 63)

Putting Things Together

Let’s combine a number of things covered in this post and the last in analyzing the “irrational mind” through the Moon in the chart of Jeffrey Dahmer (AA-rated), using some of the pointer given to us by Ptolemy pertaining to planets that bear the greatest significance in terms of the Moon’s symbolism, due to their influence by rulership and regard.

Jeffrey Dahmer's Natal Chart
Jeffrey Dahmer’s Natal Chart

The Moon is at 19 degrees Aries, which is the bound of Mercury, the house of Mars, the exaltation of the Sun, and the triplicity of the Sun.  From looking at aspects we find that Mars is the most influential of all these rulers as Mars is “with” the Moon in the same sign, and is also of an earlier degree (“overcoming”) and reinforced by being in its own house.  Jupiter and Saturn regard the Moon by square from the right side, so they “dominate” the Moon.  The Sun and Mercury regard the Moon by sextile, but they are in the weaker position (the Moon overcomes them). Of the two planets that dominate the Moon, neither has any form of rulership, but Saturn dominates most closely, being at 17 Capricorn while the Moon is at 19 Aries, and Saturn is in its own house, so Saturn is more influential of the two (between Jupiter and Saturn).  In fact, Saturn is the last planet the Moon aspected, so it is the planet that the Moon separates from, which is a very significant planet in Hellenistic astrology (the separation and application of the Moon are important planets for assessing psychology in Hellenistic astrology and are also noted by Ptolemy in that section as something to investigate).

Therefore, by close examination of the Moon we find that Mars as the most direct and strong influence over its symbolism (irrational mind subject to violence, turmoil, or anxiety) as it both has rulership and is tied together with it in a strong way, then Saturn and the Sun, with Saturn dominating the Moon closely and representing its separation (think of the symbolism of Saturn pertaining to death, as well as darkness).  The Sun has multiple forms of rulership as well as a weak sextile aspect.  The Sun and its symbolism of fame, accomplishment, exposure, father, truth, recognition, authorities, and so forth may also then relate strongly to the Moon’s symbolism in multiple ways, though the Moon may be said to prevail over the Sun.

Note that in the modern period, those rediscovering the techniques of Ptolemy often apply the predomination technique using rulership and regard in a mechanical fashion that fails to take into account the varying influence of different types of regards and the way that multiple planets can be relevant in different ways.  Typically, a point is given to each planet for each type of rulership and regard that it has over the planet (or point) being considered.  For example, if we were looking at just the Moon, as we have, then we’d give the Sun 3 points (exaltation, triplicity, regard by sextile), Mars 2 points (house, with in the same sign), and Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury one point (regard).  Ptolemy advised to look at the planet or planets that predominate over Mercury and the Moon, so we combine the points for both to get one planet (or more in the case of a tie) that we assess as being the predominator over the mind or soul in general (i.e. a significator for the person’s soul).  This reflects the later medieval approach, as the Ptolemaic predomination technique came to be one of finding a predominator (almuten, al-mubtazz, “winner”) according to what type of rulership or combination of rulerships a planet had over a position, with different types of rulership given different amounts of points.  Both approaches fail to account for the fact that a planet “with” another planet or closely dominating another planet may have a much strong influence over a planet than one that it is just its triplicity and exaltation ruler. I’ve provided some critiques of this approach in the past.

Understanding both the breadth and depth of planetary influence over the symbolism of the Moon, will provide much more important information about the irrational mind of someone than finding a single planet that you can say represents the person’s soul due to it having the most points over Mercury and the Moon in some mechanical operation of adding rulership and regards, giving them all equal standing.  For instance, Mars has the strongest and most constant influence on the Moon in Dahmer’s chart, serving to strongly characterize the nature of what the Moon signifies due to their being so strongly tied together, with modifications from the features of Aries (fire sign; cardinal). Saturn represents a conflicting and challenging influence on the irrational mind, with Saturn able to “dominate” it with its significations, again emphasizing the cardinal feature as Saturn is in a cardinal sign (see the last post on sign features).  The Sun’s symbolism then relates to the irrational mind in a way that is less directly impacting the nature of the irrational mind itself, but important nonetheless.


In this post we we looked at ways in which planetary influences combine to yield more complicated symbolism.  The interpretation of planetary and sign combinations is very difficult and is one reason why astrological prediction of fine particulars is probably impossible.  Ancient astrologers would devote large portions of texts to giving some examples of possible indications from each combination of planets in the same sign, combinations of planets in each type of aspect, rulership scenarios, and so forth, often with extreme examples, so that one would stay open-minded to the range of possibilities.  I advise the reader to study some of these (some texts are available free, including translations of Ptolemy, Valens, and Maternus; see the first post of the series for some sources of these), and to look at one’s own chart and think about what sorts of possibilities could be symbolized as well as which possibilities appear more dominant.

In the next post, we tie some of these significations to certain specific areas of life, as we explore the main strategy of assigning life topics to signs, called the “places” (they are called “houses” in modern astrology).

The fact that Ptolemy used the Moon to symbolize the irrational mind was brought up strategically in this post.  Modern astrologers often assume that ancient astrology had nothing to say about one’s psychology and that instead it was just about trying to predict things that would happen to a person.  Ptolemy’s treatment of the Moon and Mercury as relating to rational and irrational aspects of the mind or soul, written in the 2nd century CE, shows that not only did ancient astrologers concern themselves with psychology (despite it not being called psychology at that time) but probably had a more sophisticated tool set at their disposal for symbolizing the nature of influences and disturbances upon the mind than found in modern psychological astrology.



Porphyry, & Serapio. (2009). Porphyry the Philosopher. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers.

Ptolemy, C. (1940). Ptolemy: Tetrabiblos. (F. E. Robbins, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library. Retrieved from

Image Attributions

Source for Featured Image of Eye: By derivative work: Laitr Keiows (talk) Iris_-_left_eye_of_a_girl.jpg: Laitr Keiows (Iris_-_left_eye_of_a_girl.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Source for Planetary Domiciles Image: “Fig.3 Planetary Domiciles” by Meredith Garstin commons – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Manilius, Neptune, and the Fishes

The Roman astrologers poet, Marcus Manilius wrote a poem in five books called the Astronomica, in Latin in the 1st century CE.  It is one of the oldest major astrological texts that has survived. It contains many techniques that are not found in other authors.

In the work, the signs of the zodiac are ruled by the classical planets in the typical fashion, but there is also an aside in which Manilius assigns additional Roman gods to signs, possibly for the purpose of religious practice or to teach them by analogy. Interestingly, in the passage we find what is likely to be the first association of Neptune to the sign Pisces.  Modern astrologers assert that Neptune is a ruler of Pisces, in addition to, or instead of, its traditional ruler, Jupiter.

Neptunian rulership of Pisces would break with the established scheme and rationale of planetary sign rulership, so I don’t advocate it in this sense. However, many modern astrologers struggle with understanding the relationship between signs and newly discovered modern planets (of which there are plenty these days if we include the “planets” of the Kuiper Belt recently downgraded to dwarf planets by some astronomers) and asteroids. I remember passages in a work by the 17th astrologer Morinus, in which he discussed another type of planetary strength called “analogical strength” which involves a planet being in a sign with similar significations. For instance, Saturn which signifies earthly resources being strong for such in the 4th house as it also signifies earthly resources.

The Neptune-Pisces association, and some of the other god-sign associations named by Manilius have a similar “analogical strength” to them, with Pallas associated with Aries, and Ceres associated with Virgo.  It would seem natural for asteroid Pallas, named for the goddess known for her military strategy (Pallas Athena), to be analogically strengthened in the sign Aries, a fire sign of Mars. Similarly, for the planet Ceres, named for the goddess of agriculture, to be analogically strengthened in the sign Virgo, an earth sign whose constellation is a virgin holding a plant (palm front or sheaves of wheat). Associations of Vesta to Capricorn, Diana to Sagittarius, Apollo (Phoebus) to Gemini, Vulcan to Libra (as Vulcan made the scales), and Juno to Aquarius, may also have some use. Less interesting are associations of Venus (Cytherean) to Taurus and Mars to Scorpio, which are the same as the natural rulerships. He also associates the god Mercury with Cancer and Jupiter with Leo, which are more puzzling associations, especially in the Mercury-Cancer instance.

The complete passage is recounted below (Manilius, Astronomica, 2.433-452, Goold trans., 1977, p. 117-119):

What step must one take next, when so much has been learnt? It is to mark well the tutelary deities appointed to the signs and the signs which Nature assigned to each god, when she gave to the great virtues the persons of the gods and under sacred names established various powers, in order that a living presence might lend majesty to abstract qualities. Pallas is protectress of the Ram, the Cytherean of the Bull, and Phoebus of the comely Twins; you, Mercury, rule the Crab and you, Jupiter, as well as the Mother of the Gods, the Lion; the Virgin with her sheaf belongs to Ceres, and the Balance to Vulcan who wrought it; bellicose Scorpion clings to mars; Diana cherishes the hunter, a man to be sure, but a horse in his other half, and Vesta the cramped stars of Capricorn; opposite Jupiter Juno has the sign of Aquarius, and Neptune acknowledges the Fishes as his own for all that they are in heaven. This scheme too will provide you with important means of determining the future when, seeking from every quarter proofs and methods of our art, your mind speeds among the planets and stars to that a divine power may arise in your spirit and mortal hearts no less than heaven may win belief.



Manilius, M. (1977). Astronomica. (G. P. Goold, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.


Featured image attributed to 3268zauber, titled “Neptunbrunnen (1885) in Baden-Baden”

Biopic Shorts | Karl Marx

I recently read a couple books on Karl Marx and found that his chart very vividly reflected his life.  In my own personal opinion Marx was a great economist who is too often overlooked and helped to inspire many important positive changes in labor conditions and the regulation of business.  Drawing on Hegelian dialectics, while critiquing its spiritual aspects, his “dialectical materialism” helped to expose inherent contradictions in competitive enterprise that could lead to its necessary dissolution or transcendence, such as competition itself fostering economies of scale and mechanisms of cohersion that result in anti-competitive monopolies.

While the importance of his analyses is often overlooked, being buried under propagandistic hype and his being scape-goated for the abuse of his ideas by those in power (with a focus on Stalin without a similar critique of the mass genocide in the U.S. and other such atrocities committed to help pave the way for liberal enterprise), he also seemed to be a bit unsure of his own theoretical and pragmatic stances, very frequently reversing positions, often pardoxically, but then perhaps in a way that may be expected of someone whose philosophy was so strongly based in dialectics.  He was adamant about philosophy being used to transform the world rather than just to think about, but in that there is something propagandistic, as if the need to transform to what one feels is just or right is a priori and then the philosophy can work to justify that.  For all his urgings for transformation, he was known to advocate revolution and then do an about-face and oppose revolutionary action, and was an ardent critic of revolutionaries and “Marxists” in his own day.  He exhibited a rebellious zeal against capitalist powers but was from a wealthy bourgeois background, recklessly spent his ample allowance given to him from his friend Engels (from Engel’s family industry) even speculating in stocks for a time with his wife retaining her baroness title and them both keeping on a housekeeper, and while advocating ardently for the working class he refused to stoop down to labor work himself and seems to have been a somewhat irresponsible, with 4 of his 7 children dying in childhood in part from very poor living conditions despite his receiving more than a typical clerk’s salary in regular money from Engels, and with him possibly fathering a child with his housekeeper, and constantly avoiding paying his bills/rent. All in all, I found him to be a good-humored somewhat selfish, impulsive, and irresponsible person, though one with a strong sense of social justice and a keen mind for abstract economic analysis.  His most mature work, taken up late in life, is the three volume Capital, which is also known to be terse and somewhat prone to ambiguity.

I’d like to take a look at his chart, with an eye toward teaching the basics of chart interpretation in the ancient, original (as in first horoscopic astrology), manner of Hellenistic astrology, which differs greatly from that of modern astrology.

A Little Background in Chart Reading

The horoscope, or astrological chart, is named for the horoskopos, the point where the Sun rises on the horizon (i.e. intersection of local horizon and ecliptic plane), which is the most important point of the chart as it localizes the arrangement of the heavens to a specific time and place (with a change of about 1 degree of the 360 degrees of ecliptic space about every 4 minutes of regular clock time, i.e. 360 degrees in 24 hours).  This rising point is sometimes conceptualized as like the helm of a ship.  I often conceptualize it as being the point where sky, which is distant, evocative, abstract ratio-oriented (rational), seemingly infinite, and full of lights, being akin to the soul or mind-stuff of our reality, is seen to reveal itself, to stream out or peer out from the Earth, which is close, finite, solid, and manifest, being akin to the body of our reality.  While in modern astrology the Sun particularly, and to a lesser extent the Moon and other planets, are seen to be representative of the self, it is this point that represents the self in ancient astrology, and with much clearer analogical reasoning.  Likewise, in ancient astrology the Sun represents power, vibrancy, rule, egoism, and stuff of that sort, rather than “the ego” of an individual, allowing for the possibility that someone is more or less solar in temprement and life situation, and for the Sun to take on greater or lesser significance in relation to the individual depending on its relationship with those things that signify the self in the chart.  This allows for a much greater ability to capture life’s complexities in the chart and move further away from the over-generalization and stereotyping so commonplace in the popular astrology of today.

The chart as a whole is oriented to the horoskopos or Ascendant, representative of the self, with the rest of the circle signifying its circumstances.  The Ascendant lies in a specific degree of a specific sign of the tropical zodiac, and each sign is the “house” of a planet in the sense that some planet is in a sense evoked in connection with matters of the house and has some responsibility for them.  In addition, the signs are divided into “room-like” divisions called bounds which are also under the dominion of specific planets, and there are additional rulerships related to specific signs and houses, and the planets themselves have certain affinities for specific matters directly, called their natural rulerships.  Finally, there are certain derivative points which are used to gather further indications of various matters.  In this way, there is in any natal chart a number of planets and other factors that are relevant to any specific matter, and each has its own relations to other topics and tendencies toward pleasant/unpleasant and prominent/backgrounded effects.  Reading a natal chart helps to clarify the most prominent indications and gives you a very rich and complex jumble of possibilities, while timing techniques help to focus things by showing which planets are more active at a given time in relation to different things and to modify their indications in important ways.

To learn more about the basics of Hellenistic astrology, check out my (unfinished) series on basics and consider taking the Hellenistic astrology course offered by Chris Brennan which is affordable and is a great springboard into direct readings of translated texts from the first thousand years of horoscopic astrology (roughly the first millennium CE).  The rest of this post will illustrate some chart reading with Marx’s chart.

The Natal Chart of Karl Marx

The Ascendant is the point most symbolic of the individual in the chart and it shifts by an entire zodiacal degree about every 4 minutes of regular clock time, so horoscopic astrology is missing the most important symbolic ingredient when the birth time is unknown or inaccurate.  Thankfully, the birth time of Karl Marx is from his official birth record, so we have good reason to believe that it is very accurate (given a Rodden Rating of AA for accuracy on AstroDatabank).  He was born at night with 23 Aquarius rising.  Aquarius is the day house of Saturn, and is a fixed air sign, fixed signs being known for tenacity/focus/steadfastness, and air signs associated with the humanities and movement, and having Mercury, planet of movement, rationality, and commerce, as its primary triplicity ruler by night.  The Ascendant is in the bound of Mars, planet of aggression and inflammation.  The twelfth-part of the Ascendant (not shown) is at 6 Scorpio, the night house of Mars, a fixed water sign, with water signs being ruled by Mars at night (principle triplicity ruler), and in the bound of Mars, while in the 10th house of the chart, which is that of heights, achievement, authority, and rule.

Natal Chart of Karl Marx (CTRL+Click to enlarge)

The rulers of the Ascendant and 1st House inform us of the particular importance of Saturn, Mercury, and Mars in relation to studying Marx, but rulers of the 1st House are not the only factors of relevance to the self in ancient astrology.  Planets in the 1st, and those aspecting or “regarding” the 1st, particularly in more influential ways are very relevant, as is Mercury because of its special significations of rationality, and prominent planets for being influential, including the Sun and Moon which are naturally prominent.  There are also certain lots (derived points) which many astrologers (e.g. Vettius Valens) considered very important for particular matters of personality and character, but here I will try to stick just to the seven planets.  One important distinction often made is that the 1st house has more relevance to the body/temperament, as does the Moon, while the ruler of the 1st house has more relevance to the mind/direction, as does Mercury (and the Sun).

With an air sign rising, Saturn and Mercury will be important by default, but they are made even more important here by the fact that Saturn rules the house itself and Mercury is the primary triplicity ruler while also in his own house and bound (Mercury is in Gemini in its Mercury bound, in an air sign by night, so there is a sense of great reinforcement to Mercury which makes it more prominent).  There are no planets in the 1st house, and while the Sun, Moon, Venus, and Mercury all regard the 1st house, they do so from an inferior position so I don’t consider their influence to be particularly pronounced.  The Sun and Moon, while prominent, are in the house of family and origins (the 4th), being particularly relevant in relation to the parents, and are in the bound of Mercury further signifying Mercury’s importance in the life.  Mercury is also in phasis (crossing under the beams of the Sun within 7 days of birth, another mark of planetary prominence).  Mars provides noteworthy indications for the self but these are more covert.  Therefore, an astrological analysis of Karl Marx’s life and character should focus upon Saturn and Mercury in the chart, rather than on his Sun and Moon in Taurus as might be done in a modern analysis.  This makes good sense as Saturn is the planet of doubt, loss, fear, constriction, critique, poverty, and imprisonment, while Mercury is the planet of commerce, movement, theory, writing, and all forms of rational analysis.  Also, as was noted in my series on the charts of atheists, an identification with air, Saturn, and Mercury is rather characteristic of a rational worldview tending towards physicalism and materialism with a particular doubtful disdain for spiritual and mystical elements (Marx was irreligious and critical by sympathetic to religion, seeing it as serving a function for the oppressed but also as deluded).  We see many of the typical marks of an atheist chart, with Jupiter even being in the 12th house, in fall, stationing retrograde, and opposed by the malefic Mars (with Mars in “domination” over the 9th).

Saturn, besides being a key point of identification for Marx, is also one of the “loudest” planets in the chart, as it is the planet most advancing, being about 20 degrees from rising.  In this sense, Saturn has a sort of general prominence and persistence in the life, shedding something like a dark cloud over it with Saturn’s natural significations of doubt, negativity, death, loss, poverty, and stern cold authoritativeness.  Saturn is a complex planet in the chart.  Most noteworthy, Saturn is in the 2nd house of the chart which is that of money matters, directing Marx persistently into this sphere of life.  The 2nd house is directly impacted by its occupant Saturn, some indications of which can be poverty, loss of capital, obstructed capital, money worries, and criticism or challenges to wealth and possessions.  Here it is Marx who identifies in some ways with being the Saturn in the house of money, and coincidentally feeling a need to consistently challenge and critique those with the means of production was one of the most persistent and certain things he identified with in his life, even before his philosophical thought and analysis was well-developed.  The 2nd house itself is buried deep in paradox, akin to his own monetary paradoxes in his life, being from a wealthy background, choosing to live in poverty, while at the same time constantly begging for money from his friend, receiving money in generous amounts, and eschewing his responsibilities with money.

The 2nd house is Pisces, a water sign, which can connect it with emotional and familial ties, while a mutable sign which tends to signify fluctuations between two poles and possibly multiple sources of income (for much of Marx’s life he was receiving income from writing articles and from Engels, the bulk from Engels).  That both Saturn and Mercury are in mutable, or double-bodied, signs, would also signify a certain back-and-forth quality to his manner of thinking which would make him prone to reversals/flip-flops, and would likely be related to the great appeal that dialectical theories held for him.  The 2nd house, while mainly and most directly impacted by Saturn, is then ruled by Jupiter (and Saturn is in the bound of Jupiter), with Jupiter overcoming and actually connected with Saturn (aspecting within 3 degrees), while Jupiter is in a bad place (that of the “bad spirit” pertaining to negative social and mental afflictions, such as poverty and imprisonment) and is itself ruled by Saturn, creating a bit of a bounce back between Saturn and Jupiter, the planet of constriction, poverty, and doubt (Saturn), with that of expansion, wealth, and belief (Jupiter), with Saturn holding this upper-hand in this strong association and being the planet Marx identifies with more strongly.  In any case, Jupiter’s role there does add some indication of aid and luck connected with money matters (and Jupiter rules the 11th of friends, in addition to the 2nd of money, connecting the two), but overall there is the sense of such wealth going sour. Saturn is additionally out of sect, which tends to increase Saturn’s tendency toward malice, such that we are to expect Saturn to have much more vitriol in the darkness of its many significations, including those in relation to money, such that the doubt is deeper, the negative associations more intense, the difficult events connected with Saturn more painful (though again, Saturn is very mixed, so we see a difference depending on the timing of activations, with Jupiter’s activations providing more beneficent connections with Saturn abating the general difficulty signified). Finally, the twelfth-part of Saturn (not pictured), is in the 8th house of death, together with the twelfth-part of the Moon, a significator of physicality and mothering, emphasizing Saturn’s association with actual deaths, which no doubt had a big impact on Marx.

Mercury in Marx’s chart is in the 5th house which is that associated with pleasures, performance, and children.  I have personally found that a strong association of Mercury with the 5th connects with someone and the person in the chart shows someone who is involved with writing/oration/analysis as a pleasurable pursuit or “art”/”sport”.  Mercury in the sign, bound, and triplicity of Mercury, in an air sign, with Marx having an identification with Mercury, also shows an identification cleverness, intellectuality, and a bit of the trickster or even con man (enjoyment in deceiving people by mental means), as Mercury’s quick and elusive nature is very much ramped up, such that you would expect a Mercury that will do anything to avoid being to narrowly defined or pinpointed (though Mercury in Gemini was not considered good for the intellect in ancient astrology, as it is a wandering mind and prone to unpredictability and anger – while he was a middling student, unpredictable, provocative, frequently in trouble, flip-flopping, and prone to misinterpretation, there were also some additional significations in the chart for depth of thought).  The identification with Mercury shows an overall preoccupation with the world of thought, ideas, and communications.  In addition to the connections with wordy or commerce-oriented art, the 5th house is showing something of the close connection with his children too, and that such is likely to be playful and to inspire intellectualism in them.  Mercury is a duplicitous planet, and is here in a duplicitous sign, which can signify many children, and may also pertain to the possible fathering of a child with his housekeeper (two women).  Although the relationship indications in his chart show steadfast focus on one partner, with Venus, the 7th, the Moon, and all their rulers in fixed signs.  While Mercury is rather neutral (here, in sect and in a good place so tending to associate with more pleasant occurrences in the life), the 5th house is also dominated by the out of sect Saturn, which is one of the important connections between children and death that is in the chart.

Mars is very important too, and when identified with shows a certain domineering competitiveness and desire to get rowdy and stir up trouble.  Marx was an avid drinker and smoker from his teenage years and was very frequently in trouble with the law, to a notorious degree.  Additionally, the twelfth-part of his Mars is in the 2nd house, possibly showing a desire to irk those with money and to damage others’ property, all things he was known to do.  Mars is in sect in the chart, so some of its inflammatory tendencies are tempered and can be channeled productively, but its location in the 6th house of illness and maintenance (and labor?), ruled by the Moon (who pertains to physicality among other things) can indicate bothersome difficulties with accidents and disease, particularly of an inflammatory nature.  Its position in the 6th and his identification with it may also have had something to do with his identification with workers, as the 6th is traditionally a house of servants, and workers are the servants of the industrial infrastructure.  Its location in the bound of Jupiter and dominating the 9th house connect it in an incendiary way with spiritual belief, one of many indications of his ardent atheism.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at the natal chart of Karl Marx and I hope it leads you into further fruitful explorations of ancient astrology.  – ant

Planets | Venus in Picnic at Hanging Rock

I recently had the pleasure of seeing two of Peter Weir’s beautiful early films.  Weir is an Australian director who is probably best known today for “Dead Poet’s Society” and “The Truman Show”.  His film “The Last Wave” is an apocalyptic thriller involving aboriginal lore which I caught on the solstice.  That film didn’t grab my interest until halfway through but was much loved by its finale.  “The Last Wave” prompted me to watch “Picnic at Hanging Garden”, an earlier film of Weir’s.  The visually stunning images from the cover and booklet art particularly lured me in.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the film more and more to be an exploration of the Venusian mysteries.

The main events of the film take place on Valentine’s day, starting with beautiful girls in white flowing and lacy outfits preparing at the college, with valentines, poetry, romantic intrigue between two of the girls, and numerous object of beauty.  Most of them go on a trip to a million year old volcanic formation called Hanging Rock with their mannerisms and speech brimming with feminine mystery, intriguing two boys picnicking nearby.  The rock causes the watch to stop of one of their head mistresses, who believes it is due to magnetic disturbance.  Another lady, glancing at a book of Botticelli paintings (opened to Venus) says something strange about the main figure of intrigue, Miranda, calling her a “Botticelli angel”, while the three girls follow Miranda up and up the rock, until 3 of them are barefoot climbing higher and unresponsive to the heavy unattractive one of them who freaks out and screams running down from the rock.

That is where the mystery truly begins, as the girls in some sort of sexual excitement  trot up the rock and truly disappear.  I would rather not give away all the plot points, but needless to say there are other points of contact with Venus and much to be appreciated in this film.  The beauty, sensuality, romanticism, mystery, and incommensurability showcased in the film all lead me to conclude that it is one of the most Venusian pieces of cinema to have ever been made.  Those looking for a taste of the essence of Venus, look no further than “Picnic at Hanging Rock” and its Venusian savior, Miranda.

Twelve Easy Lessons for Absolute Beginners | 4. Signs and Stakes

So far in this series I’ve discussed a bit about the origins of astrology and the significations of the planets in the first installment, and then elaborated upon the material on planets by introducing some of the most important methods for evaluating planetary prominence in the second and third installments.  A discussion of the signs of the zodiac, which figure so prominently in modern astrology, has been put off until this point in order to stress the more focused significations of the planets.  In this post I introduce the signs, in part by discussing their features and how they relate to the stars (sidereal) and the seasons (tropical).  I boldly assert that the most commonly used features of the signs in ancient astrology stem directly from the tropical cycle, while the sidereal features play a much more minor part.  After the discussion of the signs, I point out that there are 4 signs in a given chart that refer to the most important personal matters. Notable astrology scholar and translator, Benjamin Dykes, Ph.D., has translated these as the “stakes”.

Signs in Modern Astrology

It is often claimed by scientists and skeptics that astrology has been discredited or even disproven.  However, nearly every test of astrology by the scientific community has been a test of Sun sign astrology and the related newspaper horoscopes (not to be confused with the original sense of “horoscope”, from “horoskopos” meaning “hour marker”, to refer to the Ascendant, and later to refer to chart drawings).

It is perhaps ironic that the newspaper Sun sign blurbs are called “horoscopes”, as the term “horoscope” initially referred to the Ascendant, or hour-marker, which changed about every two hours and was regarded in ancient astrology as symbolic of the individual person.  In other words, in ancient astrology the most significant sign in the chart for the person was the Ascendant which is a factor of location, time of day, and time of year, rather than the sign of the Sun which changes monthly.  You can have a completely different Ascendant sign from someone born in the same hospital, sometimes just 5 minutes later (if you were born near the end of the sign), or totally different from someone born at the same time as you in a different part of the country, or totally different from someone born at the same time of day at a different point in the year.  Additionally, ancient astrologers also utilized the twelfth-parts, which are twelfths of the sign that project into other signs, with the twelfth-part Ascendant changing about every 10 minutes of clock time.  It is amazing that ancient astrologers used the sign of the Ascendant, which changes very rapidly, to symbolize the person in the chart, while modern Sun sign astrologers attribute so much of the personality to a sign that one shares with anyone else born in the same twelfth of the year.

The Sun was not symbolic of the personal ego or personality center in ancient astrology.  In fact, in many ancient astrologers’ techniques for personality delineation, the Sun plays a minor role or is absent altogether.  The faster moving Ascendant, Moon, and Mercury played a greater role (for instance click here to see what Ptolemy advised looking at for examining “the quality of the soul”).  Even then signs were used a bit differently and the signs were not always as significant as other facets of the planetary condition.  In the chart, we can examine the Ascendant, symbolic of the person in the chart, interacting with the Sun, symbolic of power, exposure, leadership, and brilliance, without forcing the Sun to symbolize the person or their ego in some mechanical and generic fashion.

Signs are Not Constellations

You may recall a sensational news story all over the internet in the last year about a 13th sign of the zodiac, suggesting that you may have a “new Sun sign”.  This was the work of an astronomer who was trying to draw some criticism of astrology for its supposed lack of logic.  The idea was that the today there are 13 constellations that fall on the ecliptic (path of the Earth around the Sun, or from the vantage point of the Earth it is the path of the Sun around the Earth).  By this astronomer’s logic, since the Sun passes through 13 constellations, not 12 as in ancient times, there are 13 signs.  However, he made the mistake of confusing constellations for signs.  His mistake has fostered such widespread ignorance regarding the difference between sign and constellation that even the Wikipedia entry for the constellation that was the so-called 13th sign has had to address this difference.

Constellations are special groupings of stars.  They have been used in astrology for many thousands of years.  For instance, the twelve zodiacal constellations have varying dates of origin, with Taurus likely having the earliest origins in Mesopotamia.  The twelve constellations on the ecliptic were then regularized into “signs” sometime before 600 BCE by the Babylonians.  Signs, unlike constellations, were all equal in size, at exactly 30 degrees each, while constellations dramatically varied in size.  The signs were mathematical divisions of the sky into a coordinate system to precisely measure the travel of the planets along the path of the ecliptic.  Not long after the signs were introduced, the concept of divisions of each sign into twelve micro-signs was also introduced, making the twelfth-parts of the signs nearly as old as the signs themselves.  Both signs and twelfth-parts are mathematical in nature and not to be confused with the constellations with which they share names.  Stars and constellations were also used in ancient astrology, and some astrologers, such as Manilius and Ptolemy,  used the constellations and the stars within them, even extra-zodiacal constellations (such as the so-called thirteenth “sign”, Ophiucus) to provide additional significations.

Signs as Feature Bundles

In my discussion of Advancement, I noted the nearly universal importance of planetary alignments with the local horizon (Ascendant/Descendant) and local meridian / culmination point (MC) among ancient cultures, as well as how the most important of such alignments were those on the days of the equinoxes and solstices.  The equinoxes and solstices are important points in the Sun-Earth cycle that cause important seasonal transitions in the year.  The equinoxes are the days when the day and the night are of equal length, while the solstices are the days of the longest day or longest night, and these days take on these features by virtue of the extent to which the northern hemisphere of the Earth is inclined toward or away from the Sun (i.e. the points where the Sun appears to travel farthest north in the tropic of Cancer as summer solstice, farthest south in the tropic of Capricorn as winter solstice, crossing the equator toward the north at spring equinox, and crossing the equator toward the south at autumnal equinox).   At the advent of Hellenistic astrology in the last couple centuries before the start of the first millennium, the signs of the zodiac overlaid the constellations but the zodiac also started with the sign Aries, as the beginning of that sign was marked by the spring equinox.

The zodiac is essentially a circle with no beginning or end, but the sign of Aries was considered to sort of kick things off as it signaled the transition to spring in the northern hemisphere.  Horoscopic astrology has a bias for understanding the signs in terms of the northern hemisphere due to originating in that hemisphere.  While some find this bias disquieting, it is indeed the case that the northern hemisphere is the dominant hemisphere when it comes to human affairs, accounting as it does for more than two-thirds of the habitable land on earth, and upon which about 90% of the human population lives.

The signs of the zodiac take on astrological significance by way of a conglomeration of various features.  Some of these features, in fact the most important ones used in Hellenistic and Persian astrology, are based upon the seasonal cycles.  Others were based upon associations with the images of the constellations and the significations of the stars.  In the centuries that followed the advent of Hellenistic astrology it also migrated to India, where it completely transformed the astral lore of the subcontinent (see Yavanajataka).  As centuries go by, something interesting happens to the relationship between the seasons and the stars.  Due to what’s called the precession of the equinoxes, the equinoxes slowly shift backwards across the backdrop of the constellations at the rate of about 1 degree every 72 years.  Therefore, in astrology it becomes necessary to choose whether the features of the constellations or the features of the seasons as marked by the equinoxes/solstices are more essential to the astrological nature of the signs.  The famous natural philosopher and Hellenistic astrologer, Claudius Ptolemy, of the second century CE, asserted that the signs of the zodiac should be defined by the equinoxes and solstices, so that they always overlaid the same seasonal and light/dark relationships, and this is now known as the Tropical Zodiac.  In India, the trend of defining the zodiac by way of a reference star prevailed (today it is usually Spica marking the beginning of Libra), which ensured that the signs always overlaid the same constellations, known as the Sidereal Zodiac.

Today the choice of two zodiacs has caused quite a stir, with astrologers in the west often choosing the Tropical Zodiac simply because they are western and those in Indian choosing the Sidereal Zodiac simply because they are Indian.  Arguments made for the Tropical Zodiac typically include the readily apparent affect that the Sun’s passage through that zodiac has on life on earth as exemplified in the seasons.  Arguments made for the Sidereal Zodiac typically include the fact that its signs still overlay the constellations for which the signs are named, so locations in it more accurately correspond to actual positions relative to stars in the sky than those of the tropical zodiac.

My opinion is that the debate is wrongly framed.  In ancient astrology the signs are defined by bundles of various features.  One of the most important features is that of the planetary rulers assigned to the signs.  This feature is almost certainly tropical in origin, as the Lights (Sun and Moon) are assigned the signs of summer in the northern hemisphere (Cancer for the Moon and Leo for the Sun, corresponding to the period of time from about June 21st to August 21st) while Saturn, the lord of darkness and cold, is assigned to the signs opposite, which are those of coldest winter in the northern hemisphere (Capricorn and Aquarius, corresponding to the period of time from about December 21st to February 20th).  These rulerships originated with the signs, not the constellations, and are clearly related to the seasons, therefore tied intimately to the tropical zodiac.  Hellenistic authors like Porphyry explicitly note that the rulerships of the Lights were related to the northern-ness of those signs.  These rulerships don’t make as much sense by a sidereal understanding, as the sidereal zodiac is not tied to the seasons.

It is possible that the sidereal zodiac is more appropriate for some purposes in astrology than the tropical zodiac.  Since the signs signify in terms of their features in ancient astrology it will be very instructive for us to divide the most important of such features into two types, those which are derived from the tropical cycle and those which are derived from the constellational and sidereal cycle.  As you’ll see, the tropical zodiac is the appropriate zodiac for the most commonly used types of significations in ancient Hellenistic and Persian astrology, but there are many significations which appear to be sidereal in origin begging the question as to whether we perhaps should use two zodiacs, one for signifying the tropical features and another for signifying the sidereal ones.

Tropical Sign Features

Domicile and Exaltation Rulerships

By far, the most important sign feature that appears to be tropical in origin is that of sign rulership. These are rather systematic, with the signs of the Sun and Moon adjacent to each other and marking the peak of summer, while each of the other 5 planets get two signs each straddling those of the Sun and Moon based on planetary speed, such that those of Saturn are opposite those of the Lights. Note: if you are unfamiliar with the glyphs of the signs and the planets, you should take a couple days to familiarize yourself with them before continuing (you can find flashcards for planetary glyphs, helpful mnemonics for signs, and there’s more help here with a video).  In the image below (image attribution: Meredith Garstin commons), you can see that the Moon rules Cancer, the Sun rules Leo, then Mercury which is the fastest of the 5 other planets, rules Gemini and Virgo, which are the signs on either side of those of the Sun and Moon, while Venus, the next fastest, rules Taurus and Libra, the signs on either side of those of Mercury, Mars rules Aries and Scorpio which are on either side of those of Venus, Jupiter rules Pisces and Sagittarius which are on either side of those of Mars, and Saturn rules Aquarius and Capricorn which are on either side of those of Jupiter as well as opposite the signs of the Lights.

Domicile Rulers

These signs are known as the houses or domiciles of their rulers.  For instance, if the sign rising when someone was born was Cancer, then Cancer would be considered the 1st House, and the Moon, ruler of Cancer, would be the ruler of this 1st House. The ruler is viewed as a sort of owner and major player in affairs pertaining to the 1st House.  Similarly, the next sign to rise, Leo, would be the 2nd House, with its ruler, the Sun, as the ruler or lord of the 2nd House, and so on in the order of the rising of the signs in a chart.

Each of the planets also has a sign that is said to be its exaltation or kingdom. The motivation for that form of rulership is not as clear, but also appears to be based on tropical considerations.  The Sun and Moon come to be associated with the signs of spring in the northern hemisphere in that assignment, and the exaltations seem to center upon the signs of the equinoxes and solstices (the Sun is exalted in the sign of the spring equinox while the exaltations of the Moon and Venus straddle that sign; Saturn is exalted in the sign of the autumnal equinox while Mercury is exalted in a sign that straddles that sign; Jupiter is exalted in the sign of the summer solstice; Mars is exalted in the sign of the winter solstice).  I will enumerate the exaltations here: Aries is the exaltation of the Sun, Taurus is the exaltation of the Moon, Virgo is the exaltation of Mercury, Pisces is the exaltation of Venus, Capricorn is the exaltation of Mars, Cancer is the exaltation of Jupiter, and Libra is the exaltation of Saturn.  The exaltation would be a house where the planet is given more power and freedom to act.  The sign opposite a planet’s exaltation was called its fall or descension and was considered a place where a planet is more encumbered or downtrodden in its significations.  Some astrologers use a similar concept for the signs opposite a planet’s domicile, calling them the “detriment” of the planet, but this concept of detriment does not figure into Hellenistic astrology and its methods as a distinct concept.  Some astrologers also assign point values to the different forms of rulership, a practice started by a medieval Persian astrologer, but I find this to be more misleading than useful and strongly advise against the practice.

Quadruplicity and Stakes

Quadruplicity is a fancy word for a grouping of four signs.  These are signs related in a cross pattern in the chart and such signs are said to be each other’s “stakes” as well (more on “stakes” below).  This very important concept creates three types of features, each one assigned to signs that form a cross pattern.  These features are tropical in nature, as they divide each season into 3 parts, a beginning, middle, and end, with distinct features.

The cardinal signs, which are also called the changeable, moveable, or tropical/equinoctial signs, are those which start with an equinox or solstice.  They mark a turning in the direction of the season, and thus a bold step in a new direction.  As such cardinal signs are associated with frequent change (and repetition), bold and fast initiation, but not necessarily depth nor staying power.  For instance, Mercury in a cardinal sign was considered good for oratory ability, as cardinal signs signify quickness and bold projection.  The cardinal signs are Aries (0 Aries is the point of the spring or vernal equinox), Cancer (0 Cancer is the point of the summer solstice), Libra (0 Libra is the point of the autumnal equinox), and Capricorn (0 Capricorn is the point of the winter solstice).

Each cardinal sign is followed by a fixed sign, which are also called the solid signs.  These are the signs in which the heart or depth of the season occurs and things are most stabilized.  The fixed signs are associated with steadiness, staying power, slowness, thoroughness, and depth.  They are the signs which Dorotheus (1st century CE) recommended emphasizing in choosing times for general important endeavors because they signified carrying things to completion and making them last.  Mercury in these signs was thought to signify depth in thought and possible writing ability. The fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius.

Each fixed sign is then followed by a mutable sign, which are also called the common or twin signs.  These signs are said to participate in two seasons, mixing some of the season that is drawing to a close with intimations of the coming season.  For this reason they are dualistic and signify complication, confusion, exchange, and mediation.  In electional astrology they were believed to signify a need for additional conditions to be met (i.e. things getting more complected).  Mercury in these signs was thought to be a bad indication for intellect as they are unstable, providing little confidence and direction, while making one prone to confusion and frustration.  The mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces.

The signs of the same quadruplicity as the rising sign are known as the stakes, angles, or pivots of the chart.  These are the most important houses of the chart, and their topics are the cornerstones to the life.  Ben Dykes, Ph.D. explained his preference for “stakes” as a translation of “kentra”, the Greek term of these places, as they operate to fix the sky (signs) to a location, in the same manner that stakes are used to fasten a tent.  The stakes of a birth chart include the rising sign, which is the 1st House, pertaining to the self, body, and skill, as well as the 10th House, pertaining to mastery, bosses, and recognition, the 7th House, pertaining to partners and marriage, and the 4th House, pertaining to family, land, and origins.  Planets in the stakes of a birth chart have a type of prominence, in that they have a strong influence upon the person, as they are in the house of an important area of life and strongly regard the Ascendant, either by co-presence, square, or opposition.  Similarly, a planet can be in the stake of another planet, point, or place simply by being in a sign of the same quadruplicity as that planet, point, or place.

Let’s examine the stakes of a birth chart, and the stakes of important planets in the chart:


Barack Obama has the sign of Aquarius rising, which is a fixed sign.  The fixed signs are Aquarius, Scorpio, Leo, and Taurus.  Barack has Jupiter in Aquarius, the 1st House.  He also has the Sun and Mercury in Leo.  Therefore, Jupiter, the Sun, and Mercury are in the stakes of the chart and are directly operative in particularly important areas of life.  He has Aquarius rising, which is ruled by Saturn.  Saturn is in Capricorn which is a cardinal sign.  Other cardinal signs include Cancer, Libra, and Aries.  Only Venus is also in a cardinal sign, Cancer, so she is in one of the stakes of Saturn’s position.

Triplicity and Elemental Lords

Triplicity (the triangles), is similar to quadruplicity, but signifies groupings of three signs.  There are 4 groups of signs that are in triangular relationships to each other (i.e. that are trine each other).  Today these 4 groups are identified by the elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water.  However, originally the triplicities were not associated with the elements in early Hellenistic astrology, but with the winds and directions.  However, here I will label them by element as is commonly done. As there are three signs in each triplicity, it so happens that each one has one cardinal sign, one fixed sign, and one mutable sign in the group.

The triangles are also associated with another system of rulership, called the triplicity rulers. Each triangular set of signs is associated with one planetary ruler by day, another by night, and a third which is a lesser participant.

The Fire triplicity has Aries as its cardinal sign, Leo as its fixed sign, and Sagittarius as its mutable sign, and it is a Masculine and Diurnal (day) triplicity, ruled by the Sun by day, and by Jupiter by night, with Saturn participating. The Fire triplicity is particularly associated with power and leadership.  The Persians associated these signs with the east because their cardinal sign is Aries which is to the right of the northernmost sign, Cancer.

The Earth triplicity has Capricorn as its cardinal sign, Taurus as its fixed sign, and Virgo as its mutable sign, and it is a Feminine and Nocturnal (night) triplicity, ruled by the Moon by night, and by Venus by day, with Mars participating.  The Earth triplicity is particularly associated with the working of the land.  The Persians associated these signs with the south because Capricorn marked the winter solstice which was the point when the Sun reached its farthest southern point (i.e. the Sun was overhead at Noon at the farthest point of the tropic of Capricorn).

The Air triplicity has Libra as its cardinal sign, Aquarius as its fixed sign, and Gemini as its mutable sign, and it is a Masculine and Diurnal (day) triplicity, ruled by Saturn by day, by Mercury by night, with Jupiter participating. The Air triplicity is particularly associated with culture and movement. The Persians associated these signs with the west because their cardinal sign, Libra, is right of the southernmost sign, Capricorn.

The Water triplicity has Cancer as its cardinal sign, Scorpio as its fixed sign, and Pisces as its mutable sign, and it is a Feminine and Nocturnal (night) triplicity, ruled by Mars by night, by Venus by day, with the Moon participating.  The Water triplicity is particularly associated with all things water.  The Persians associated these signs with the south because Cancer marks the summer solstice which is the point when the Sun is at its southernmost declination.

Let’s look at an example of rulership, quadruplicity, stakes, and triplicity in a chart:


Bill Clinton has the sign of Libra rising, so Libra is the 1st House, which is that of the self.  The stakes of the chart are cardinal, and they are Libra (1st House), Cancer (10th House), Aries (7th House), and Capricorn (4th House), but only Libra is occupied. You’ll notice that he has Mars, Venus, and Jupiter all advancing in the 1st House, with Mars particularly prominent right on the Ascendant.  Therefore, we expect him to have a very Mars-y life, one that is in a sense quite combative, competitive, and requiring a lot of toughness.  Also, we generally expect Mars, Venus, and Jupiter to directly signify in relation to more important matters in the life, as they are in one of the stakes of the chart.  The Ascendant, Mars, Venus, and Jupiter are all in a sign ruled by Venus, so we expect the self to be strongly influenced by aesthetics and sexuality, especially with Venus in the actual 1st House.  Venus and Mars are out of sect and Mars, as a malefic, could potential create some trouble in relation to Venusian matters in a combative sense.  His initial aspirations to be a professional musician are also very clearly shown by the prominence of Venus and her rulership of the 1st.  Libra is a cardinal sign, so we expect a bolder and more expressive character and for the actions of the planets in the 1st House to make their more important expressions in terms of bold, quick, dramatically sweeping changes in circumstances.  The 1st House is an air sign, so we might expect the self and the planets in the1st to have a strong connection with thought and movement.  Finally, Clinton was born during the day and Libra is both the exaltation of Saturn and the triplicity of Saturn by day, so we expect Saturn to have some influence over 1st House matters as well.  Saturn is in Leo, a fixed, fire sign, signifying steadfastness (fixed) and leadership (fire), and Saturn is with the Sun, which rules the sign Leo and rules the fire triplicity by day, so the solar influence (which is of power, exposure, prominence) is very strong.  Saturn is also with Mercury, planet of intellect.

As you can see, some of the most important significations of signs come down to domicile, exaltation, triplicity, and quadruplicity, all of which are concepts related particularly to the tropical cycle.

Other Tropical Features

There are a great many additional features of signs that are tropical in origin but of less importance.  For instance, signs of short and long ascension which was an important consideration in choosing times for actions according to Dorotheus.  Also, there were many sign relationships which pertained to mirror relationships between signs and degrees across the points of the equinoxes and solstices, which I’ve addressed in a past post.  Additionally, the Persians spoke of the southern signs (Libra thru Pisces) as being cold while the northern signs (Aries thru Virgo) were hot, with both the directions and the temperatures being a reference to the tropical cycle. Further the signs were divided up into season quarters, the spring signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini) being hot, moist, infant-like, and sanguine; the summer signs (Cancer, Leo, Virgo) were hot, dry, young, and choleric; the fall signs (Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius) were cold, dry, middle-aged, and melancholic; the winter signs (Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces) were cold, moist, elderly, and phlegmatic.  These features of the signs are more minor and are not used as commonly as those cited in the previous section.

Main Sidereal Features

Image Associations

The Greek word for sign, zoidion, meant image or species, and some of the features of the signs are in fact direct associations with the species of thing that is imaged by the corresponding constellation.  For instance, Dorotheus noted that an eclipse in Aries would likely affect sheep, one in Sagittarius would affect horses, and so forth. Additionally, there are some sign classifications that pertain to these imaged species of things, such as calling some signs four-footed, others lacking a voice (because they image animals lacking a voice), and some rational (because they include an image of a person).  While these sign associations are used less often than rulership, quadruplicity, and triplicity, they are important to some techniques and can provide a very fruitful source for gathering further significations.  I believe it is an open question as to whether the sidereal zodiac (or even the constellations themselves) would be a more appropriate zodiac to use for ascertaining such associations.

Star Cluster Delineations

There is much material in Hellenistic astrology where certain segments and degrees of signs are given distinct significations.  Often in these delineations, stars, and segments of constellations are explicitly named.  Such delineations are prominent in many Hellenistic authors, including Valens, Ptolemy, and Maternus.  However, very little has been done to revive the use of such material.  It would seem that this material is truly sidereal in origin and that the sidereal zodiac is probably the more appropriate zodiac to use for these delineations of special groups of degrees.  An important division of each zodiacal sign into 5 unequal divisions ruled by each of the non-Light planets, called bounds, has its origins with the Babylonians (the so-called Egyptian bounds) and no clear link with star clusters has been proposed, so while the origins and motivation for the bounds is not entirely clear, they don’t appear to be a sidereal concept. However, the decans, which are divisions of the signs into thirds, actually originated with the Egyptians and was based on the rising of 36 star clusters, so they also appear to be predominantly sidereal in origin.  Similarly, the mansions of the Moon, which are commonly used in India but have been largely neglected in the west in practice, are clearly associated with star clusters and are probably not appropriate for use with the tropical zodiac.


In conclusion, both the tropical and the sidereal zodiacs have their own motivations.  While we are primarily concerned with significations that are tropical in nature, the western astrologer may be missing out on the correct source of a big chunk of significations in Hellenistic astrology by refusal to also use the sidereal zodiac where it is best suited, for image associations and delineations of degrees and clusters based on the stars and constellations.  Perhaps one day we will come to find some happy synthesis in the use of both zodiacs but in those domains where they are most appropriate.

This has been a long lesson, and may need to be re-read a couple times before fully grasped.  In this lesson we gained a few new tools which can be applied right away to charts.  You now know how to find the ruler of a sign.  The Ascendant, or rising sign, is particularly symbolic of the person, so you may want to take a look at the sign of the Ascendant, and that of the Moon, in various charts, and to pick apart the possible significations based on the features of the signs, as well as to look at which planets are in the Ascendant and those that are with the Moon.  Also, take a look at the ruler of the Ascendant.  The ruler was typically considered to pertain more to the spirit and direction of the person while the Ascendant itself pertained more to the body and its temperament.  Examine the nature of the ruler and how that is affected by the significations of the sign.  Now you have an additional planetary prominence consideration, that of a planet being in the stakes.  Think about how a planet in a stake may impact a person. Even a planet that is not prominent in a general way may have a very strong influence over important matters in the person’s life by virtue of being in a stake.  In such cases you’ll find the influence of the planet more focused in those areas of life, and less pervasive and broad in its significations.

Have fun!

Elections and the Art of Choosing Times | 4. Dorotheus on Buying and Selling


In the first post, I introduced the general rules or guidelines of electional astrology as laid out by Dorotheus in the first century of the common era.  We found that the most important factors in choosing times and the ideal circumstances surrounding those factors differed enough from typical traditional electional practice to be significant.  We then saw those general rules in application in the second post on choosing the right time to ask a favor and the third post on choosing the right time to deliver messages and perform other such mercurial tasks.

I am seeking to keep the initial posts that venture into special topics in elections as useful as possible, as well as using those topics that help to use and elaborate upon the general rules. This post takes on another very useful and broad topic, that of when to buy and when to sell things.  Again we will see application of the broad rules, as well as the introduction of place-related rules.  We will focus primarily on two techniques in Chapter 9 of Book V of Carmen, while we will also take a quick look at the other chapter on selling, Chapter 43, which pertains to various lunar phases and what they signify in elections for sales.

Buying and Selling by Lunar Connections

Besides whole sign aspects which is when the planets regard or see each other (or are co-present in the same sign, i.e. “with” each other), there are also “connections” between the planets which are the aspects by degree.  In Hellenistic astrology these were typically those aspects that were within 3 degrees of exact, regardless of sign boundaries.  However, for the Moon her applications within 13 degrees (i.e. within about a day of her motion) were her connections as she moved so fast and was so influential.  The Moon was failing to make a connection when she did not complete an aspect within the next 13 degrees of motion, regardless of sign boundaries.  This is one of the definitions of void of course, and the one that I prefer.  Some Hellenistic versions of void of course use a bigger range in which the Moon is only void if she doesn’t complete a connection within the next 30 degrees of her travel.

The connections made by the Moon are important in Dorothean elections.  This includes both her applications and her separations, as I discussed in the first post.  In this post I will use connections completed within the 13 degrees in front of or behind the Moon, regardless of sign boundaries, and considering the Moon to be void when no such connection is completed in front of the Moon (i.e. in her next 13 degrees of motion).

In an election that pertains to buying and selling, Dorotheus advises to look at the Moon as the commodity, the planet the Moon separates from as the seller, and the planet the Moon applies to as the buyer and price.  Since buyer and price are lumped together such that what is good for the buyer is good for the price, it is clear that what is meant by price is a “good deal”, i.e. the buyer benefiting from a good price.  Malefics with or regarding one of these significators shows it is in a bad state while benefics with or regarding one of these significators shows it in a good state.  As regards are by whole sign it would be rare for a significator to have no regard from a malefic, but in this there are degrees of goodness or badness, as it would be for instance much worse to have a malefic opposing a significator within 3 degrees which is very powerful than to have one in a whole sign inferior trine to it which is very weak.  What we care about most are regards from the stakes (i.e. a benefic or malefic with the planet, square it, or opposed it) and connections (i.e. aspects within 3 degrees).  You want a benefic to be with the significator, square it, opposed it, or connecting with it by some aspect, but you don’t want a malefic to do so.

Let’s use our letter election from the last post as an example chart and pretend that it pertained to the sale of a book:

Letter Election - Constrained to a date from 9/2 to 9/9

The Moon would represent the book.  The Moon is with Jupiter, regarded by Venus by sextile, connected with her sign lord by square, strong in the 1st place, is not regarded by Mars and is very weakly regarded by Saturn by inferior trine.  We would judge the book to be of very good quality.

The seller is Venus because the Moon has just separated from Venus.  Venus is square to Mars and she is not regarded by her ruler.  Venus is regarded by the Moon and Jupiter but weakly so.  Venus is also in a cadent place and retreating.  We would not judge the situation to be very favorable to the seller, and if we were electing for the seller then we’d want the state of the planet the Moon is separating from to be much better than this.

The buyer is Mercury because the Moon is applying a connection to Mercury.  Mercury is in a somewhat mixed state, being under the beams and in a mutable sign, but Mercury also shows benefit by being dominated (right-hand whole sign square) by Jupiter which it is making an applying connection to, while the connection with Mars by sextile has separated (Mercury is also with Fortune).  In conclusion, the buyer seems to be in pretty good state, and the election to buy would favor the buyer over the seller in acquiring a sound product.

Buying and Selling by the Stakes

The stakes of the chart are the four most important houses that define a cross of the signs that include the Ascendant and those signs of its same quadruplicity (cardinal, fixed, mutable).  For instance, if Gemini rises, then Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces are the four stakes of the chart, the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th houses respectively.  These four places take on special significance in another technique for elections for buying and selling.

The second technique given by Dorotheus is to consider the 1st house as representing the buyer, the 7th as representing the seller, the 10th as representing the price, and the 4th as representing the commodity.  He explicitly advised us to look at how benefics or malefics are in or aspecting these places.  Some of the Dorothean elections concerning places were corrupted and changed in the later tradition, de-emphasizing position and regard in favor of the state of various rulers of the places.  Dorotheus makes no mention of the rulers of the places, as position and regard to the places themselves are the primary factors of influence here.  In fact, regard is typically not very important in these elections which tend to be more about sticking benefics in the right houses, since each of the stakes has a strong regard to the others.  It is worth noting that regards from the right side are more influential than those from the left though, as we look at those regards by sextile and trine particularly.

Let’s use the same chart as an example again:

Letter Election - Constrained to a date from 9/2 to 9/9

The buyer is at great advantage in this election because Jupiter is in the 1st house with the Moon, and Venus and the lord of the place also regard, while Saturn only regards from inferior trine.  The product also seems to be in a good state, as Mercury, the Sun, and Fortune occupy the 4th place which is dominated by Jupiter (right-hand square), occupied by the place’s lord, and regarded by Mars by inferior sextile.  The seller is not in a very bad state but not as good of a state.  The 7th place is empty and Saturn is in a superior sextile to it, but Venus is also in superior trine, so overall it is fairly neutral.  Notice, however, that it is not in nearly as good a state as the 1st place, which represents the buyer.  It is very much the same situation with the 10th place, representative of the price, which has Mars in superior trine, but is overall somewhat neutral.  In essence this appears to be an election to benefit a buyer in a sale.


In this case the techniques yielded similar but not quite identical significations.  They can be synthesized.  For instance, when electing for a buyer we can make sure that both the planet the Moon applies to and the 1st house are both attended by fortunate planets, and also try to avoid afflicting the 10th and 4th.  Similarly, for a seller the stress should be on the separation of the Moon and the 7th house.

Lunar Cycle Material

There is some additional material on buying and selling contained in Chapter 43, the last chapter of Book V of Carmen, in which signification is provided by various lunar cycles.  These cycles are of three types, those relative to the nodes, through the signs, and relative to the Sun.

Relative to the Nodes

When the Moon is closer to the North Node of the Moon she is ascending, while when she is closer to the South Node of the Moon she is descending.  An ascending Moon indicates inflated prices (benefits seller) while a descending Moon indicates deflated prices (benefits buyer).

Relative to the Signs

The half of the zodiac from Aquarius thru Cancer is the ascending half of the zodiac (i.e. the lunar half), while the half from Leo thru Capricorn is the descending half of the zodiac (i.e. the solar half).  Again, the ascending Moon indicates inflated prices (benefits seller) while a descending Moon indicates deflated prices (benefits buyer).

Relative to the Sun

From the Moon leaving the beams of the Sun to the First Quarter Moon is a time of fair prices.  From the First Quarter Moon to the opposition (i.e. Full Moon) is a time when it is best to sell (also a good time to commence litigation).  From the Full Moon to the Last Quarter Moon then it is best to buy.  From the Last Quarter Moon to the New Moon is a time when the fair and just benefit.


Altogether, we’ve seen 5 separate ways to indicate benefit will be more to a buyer or to a seller (lunar connections, stakes, nodes, lunar sign, lunar phase).  Of the five, I consider the lunar connections to be most important.  Let’s take on more look at our example chart in terms of who benefits most by all five considerations though.

Letter Election - Constrained to a date from 9/2 to 9/9

  1. The buyer benefits by lunar connection because Mercury is in better state than Venus.
  2. The buyer benefits by stakes because the Ascendant is in a better state than the 7th.
  3. The buyer benefits by nodes because the Moon is near the South Node which indicates low prices.
  4. The seller benefits by signs because the Moon is in Gemini which is in the ascending half of the zodiac, indicating higher prices.
  5. The seller benefits by lunar phase because the Moon is in the phase from Full Moon to Last Quarter (basically right at LQ), which is best for selling.

Experiment with these on your own and decide what works best in practice.  Of course, these indications may also have interesting implications for speculative purchases, such as that of stock, bonds, and commodities.  Much more research is needed in this area.

Elections and the Art of Choosing Times | 3. Dorotheus on Letters and Teaching


In the first post of this series, I presented the general rules for electional astrology as laid out by Dorotheus and explained how they contrast with the rules of the later tradition.  Namely, while electional astrology is typically conceived of as a matter of the application of the Moon and the lord of the Ascendant as they connect with the lord of the house which rules the topic of the matter, in the electional astrology of Dorotheus there is instead an emphasis on the type of sign of the Ascendant and the Moon, the strength of the Moon itself, the strength of her lord, strengthening benefics over malefics, and making the natural significator of the matter more prominent.

In the second post of this series, I ventured into special topics in elections by discussing the guidelines for electing a time to ask a favor.  In that post we saw a reiteration of the importance of a strong Moon and strong natural significators.

In this post, we will again deal with a special topic, and while more narrow than asking for favors, it will be one very commonly elected for.  The issue is that of writings and teachings, including when to write to someone.  We would typically think of this in terms of when to send a written piece to someone or when to teach someone something or deliver some important information to them.  I am of the opinion that the same rules apply to other matters of writing and finalizing delivery such as signing or delivering contracts as well.  The electional side of this is dealt with in Chapter 15 of Book V of Carmen, while we will also attempt to draw information from Chapter 26 as it pertains to interpreting the event chart of when one receives a letter or some other information (such as a book).

Writing and Teaching

Dorotheus is very concise in his advise on this matter, so I quote the entire Chapter 15 below, which is one sentence:

Let this be when Mercury is with the Moon and none of the malefics is with it or aspecting it while Mercury is eastern and is not under the [Sun’s] rays or retrograde in [its] motion and the Moon also is free from the misfortunes which I wrote of [and] untroubled.     (Dorotheus, Book V, Ch. 15, Pingree trans., 2005, p. 271)

Breaking this down we notice that the key natural significator to strengthen in the matter is Mercury, not surprisingly.  As is always the case with elections, we want the Moon strong.  Along with strengthening Mercury it is best if Mercury is oriental the Sun (morning rising) and not afflicted by malefics.  Finally, we want the Moon and Mercury to be linked together strongly, with it best if they are in the same sign.

I break these down because one often has to write, teach, sign, or deliver important documents frequently, and it is not always possible to do so when Mercury is direct, oriental, not in the beams, strong, not regarded by malefics, and with a strong Moon in the same sign.  In fact, it could be the case that such an ideal scenario doesn’t occur for months.  However, we see in this election the employment of the general rules which I discussed in the first post, so it becomes easy for us to clearly define the types of things that help to facilitate this action:

  1. Strengthen the Moon, as with all elections.
  2. Strengthen Mercury as the natural significator and know that a matutine (morning rising) Mercury is preferred.
  3. Make sure the Moon and Mercury are strongly linked together, with an application in the same sign being preferred.

An example may be in order.  Today is 9/2/2012.  Mercury is at 3 Virgo and is under the beams of the Sun.  Mercury will be under the beams for a while.  Additionally, Mercury is in a mutable and straight sign which is nocturnal.  Unfortunately, being under the beams and being in a mutable straight sign are not ideal.  Additionally, we have a letter that must be sent at some point in the next week, ideally at night as Mercury is in a nocturnal sign.  Mercury is at least oriental to the Sun. Our important tasks are to strengthen the Moon and Mercury as much as possible, link them together as much as possible, and also to pay attention to the signs of the Moon (and Ascendant).

Currently, the Moon is in Aries which does not see Virgo, so the connection between the Moon and Mercury is quite weak.  Additionally, Mercury is connecting (applying aspect within 3 degrees) with Mars and the Moon is opposed to Saturn.  When the Moon connects with Mercury from Taurus, she will also be applying an opposition to Mars, which is not ideal.  On the other hand, when the Moon is in Gemini she will be in one of the stakes of Mercury, in Mercury’s domicile, and with the benefic Jupiter, while not regarded at all by Mars and only regarded by Saturn by inferior trine.

The best time for such an election, in my opinion, is when the Moon is in Gemini and is rising while applying to Mercury.  This would be at moonrise, the night of the 7th, near midnight of the 8th.  Immediately after the Moon rises in Gemini, she would be on the proper side of the horizon (in halb), with Jupiter in the same sign which is fortunate, with both very prominent, while she connects with Mercury from a strong square, while Mercury is in a stake, advancing, lord of the Ascendant, with Fortune.  The benefic Jupiter would be prominent, the benefic Venus would be in the house of letters, and the malefics would be weakened.  While Mercury being under the beams is not ideal, and Mercury, the Moon, and Ascendant would all be in mutable signs which is not ideal, at least we would have made the Moon and Mercury as strong as we can and would have linked them as strongly as we can, while augmenting the benefics and diminishing the malefics.  We have found a facilitating time, during a period when overall conditions were not very facilitative of Mercurial elections.  Our connection between the Moon and Mercury is more ideal than having both in the same sign, as both together would occur on a New Moon which is one of the corruptions of the Moon.

Letter Election - Constrained to a date from 9/2 to 9/9
Letter Election – Constrained to a date from 9/2 to 9/9

Clues from the News

Chapter 26 pertains to using the event chart of when some news arrives (such as a letter or other message) to figure out when the news is about.  It is one part event chart astrology and another part natal astrology, as it looks at the relationship between event chart planets and natal positions. The basic idea is to view the event chart as a set of transits to the natal chart and to determine if benefics are influencing natal Mercury, or transiting Mercury is influencing natal benefics, or transiting Moon is connecting to natal Mercury free from malefics.  Another method is given also, in which one looks to see if it is the benefics or the malefics that are transiting the places (or the stakes of the places) of the natal luminaries (Sun and Moon) and to judge according to that.

As far as input for our Mercurial elections goes, this is not extremely helpful.  We do see that Mercury again is important though, whether one is on the transmitting or receiving end of a message, but that when looking at the event chart of the act of receiving it essentially becomes more of a matter of transit analysis.


In this special topic, as in that of asking favors, we find that the natural significator of communications, Mercury, becomes very important, and that the general rules of elections are again put to use.  For people in business or politics who must sign important documents, deliver important messages, and make important requests on a regular basis, one can see how important it would be to have a full handle on Mercury’s activities at any point in time. The implications for this particular type of election extend beyond letters to best times to sign contracts, deliver important emails, perform a lecture, make a webcast, file important legal paperwork, and even publish blog posts (I really need to use that more :-) ).  We live in very Mercurial times, so while the advice given by Dorotheus in Chapter 15 is very brief, it is some of the most versatile advice on electing that he provides.



Dorotheus of Sidon. (2005). Carmen Astrologicum. (D. Pingree, Trans.). Abingdon, MD: Astrology Center of America.

Elections and the Art of Choosing Times | 2. Dorotheus on Asking Favors


In the first post of this series, we discussed the origins and fundamentals of electional astrology which find their root in Book V of the Carmen Astrologicum or Pentateuch of Dorotheus (1st century CE).  In this post we find a nature transition point from general principles to incorporating more special techniques for specific topics.  Chapter 14 of Book V pertains to asking for favors.  This is one of the most general topics and is really at the heart of most electional types of concerns in that one is about to undertake something with considerable uncertainty and wants to ensure that things are made easier.  For instance, maybe you want to ask your boss for a raise, then you’ll both want the vibe of the time to be one of luck and generosity, and you’ll want your boss to be feeling well and in a good mood.

In the passages on the general approach to elections I noted that there was nothing on the lord of the Ascendant, which is unusual considering its prominence in medieval elections.  We did see that the lord of the Moon was important for outcome, and that there were some parallels between the role played by the Moon and that of the Ascendant (these parallels also exist in natal astrology where both can be very symbolic of the actual physical person).  It wouldn’t be too far-fetched for one to speculate if perhaps the lord of the Ascendant shouldn’t be important in a similar way to the lord the Moon.  I wonder this as well.  For now, it is important simply to note that in Dorotheus the lord of the Moon was noted as very important for outcome and the lord of the Ascendant was completely neglected in a discussion of generally important factors, and that this is pretty much the reverse of what we see in the later tradition.

Interestingly, in the matter of asking favors, the lord of the Ascendant does become an important factor, though not necessarily in a way that implies usage akin to its role in medieval elections.  As seen below, there is a need to put the Moon either in the Ascendant or strongly linked with its lord, with the former appearing to be preferred. There are some other passages in Dorotheus where the lord of the Ascendant does appear to play something of a parallel role with the Moon though, for instance in material on electing for journeys.  I think that the issue of whether the Ascendant or the lord of the Ascendant are more parallel to the Moon in signification actually has a deeper philosophical issues of signification at play.  The Ascendant carries symbolism related to the physical self, as does the Moon, while their lords would be considered more abstract, such as showing results or spirit/mentality, as eventualities and guides.  The lord of the Ascendant would be considered to pertain more to the spirit of the person and their “direction”, which also gives it an interesting parallel to the role of the Moon as the swiftest moving, journeying planet, which connects and directs planetary information.  Therefore, I think that the Ascendant has primary importance but that its lord is systematically emphasized when elections involve a need to strengthen spirits or mental activity, or the matter is that of a journey.

Asking Favors

Ask for this when the Moon is in the ascendent or in quartile to the ascendent or in trine to it while the Moon is increasing in computation and in light or the lord of the ascendent is direct in [its] motion [and] not retrograde and is with the Moon in one sign and the Moon conjoins it.   (Dorotheus, Book V, Ch. 14, Pingree trans., 2005, p. 271)

The Moon

In confirmation that the advice given in the general chapters that the Moon is strongest in the Ascendant, we find here, in a very general sort of election, appearing later in the work, that again it is advised to put the Moon in the Ascendant.  Additionally, it is advised to put the Moon in the Ascendant and have it waxing.  This is exactly the opposite of what is advised by authors like Saul of the Middle Ages, who specifically advise against putting the Moon in the Ascendant when she is waxing.  Again, I feel that this advice not to put the Moon in the Ascendant is a corruption of original electional doctrine.  Here, we find that if we cannot put the Moon in the Ascendant then we should at least put her in a sign quartile or trine the Ascendant.  The quartiles referred to are at least 2 of the other angles or “stakes”, of which the 10th house (i.e. 10th sign counted inclusively from the Ascendant) is the next strongest after the Ascendant (1st house), then the 7th, and then the 4th (though Dorotheus may not be including the 7th in this advice).  The trines are the 5th and 9th places, but the 9th is expressly advised against in the introductory material, especially if it is a mutable sign, so after the angles, we would prefer the 5th.  Dorotheus also advises to have the Moon in her own house or regarding it.  Therefore, to refine this rule, with input from the general principles:

Lunar Rules for Asking Favors: Make the Moon strong and waxing, putting her in the Ascendant if possible, or at least one of the stakes or the 5th.  Make the sign she is in one of short ascension, a fixed sign (though for a favor that can be satisfied quickly a cardinal sign may be more effective to hasten things), and/or a sign of the same sect as the time of the asking.  Make sure she is not corrupted nor impeded by malefics.  Have her fast and increasing in speed if possible and have the lord of the Ascendant direct and not stationing retrograde if possible. Also, if possible put the Moon in the same sign as the lord of the Ascendant and conjoining it, especially if you can’t get the Moon in the Ascendant itself.  Additionally, make sure the Moon is in her own place (Cancer) or regarding it (i.e. in whole sign aspect to it).  


After the Moon, Mercury becomes the most important factor for the election of asking favors.  The basic idea is that you want Mercury to be with (i.e. in the same sign as) a benefic or strongly connected to a benefic, without being in the same place as a malefic or strongly connected to a malefic.  For instance, Dorotheus advises that it is great to have Mercury with Jupiter, that is quite bad to have Mercury with Saturn or aspected by Saturn from a strong place, and that in requests made to women or involving pleasures or entertainment it is best to have Mercury with Venus.

Mercurial Rules for Asking Favors:Try to elect when Mercury is with a benefic in the same sign and not with a malefic (especially Saturn which rejects), or at least strongly linked with a benefic and not a malefic. Associate Mercury more with Jupiter for elections involving males and things like money and opportunity but associate Mercury more with Venus for elections involving females and things like pleasure, the arts, and entertainment.

Natural Significators

In this election, there is the sense in which Mercury is a natural significator of the act of asking favors itself, which is one reason there is special emphasis on Mercury and its associations. Dorotheus ends the section by advising one to strengthen certain planets which signify the one that is being asked for the favor.  For instance, one is to strengthen Jupiter if asking from leaders or nobles (or bosses?) and to make sure that Jupiter is not retrograde (stationing retrograde would be much worse in my opinion) nor afflicted by Saturn.  Similarly, he advised to strengthen Mercury if making a request to a scientist, business person, or analyst, and to strengthen Saturn if making a request to an elderly person, or someone afflicted with grief, such as a prisoner, accused, or a slave.

Rules for Natural Significators in Asking Favors: Strengthen the planet that best signifies the one to whom the request is made.


I personally favor means of evaluating planetary strength beyond the emphasis on the stakes and the direct motion found in Dorotheus.  Therefore, it is sometimes helpful to keep the language of an election more general, such as to say “strengthen the waxing Moon and link her with the Ascendant, especially by putting her in the Ascendant or conjoining its lord in the same sign”.  I find natal astrology to be the most fruitful testing ground for planetary strength and prominence as dominant themes in a life can be easy to recognize.  Ultimately, there are many strength and prominence considerations, as well as beneficence and maleficence considerations, in Hellenistic and Persian astrology and the choice and emphasis among them plays a big part in defining each astrologer’s art.  Therefore, below I summarize the most important points of electing to ask a favor in a way that is more easily adapted to the astrologer’s art.

  • The Moon should be strong, waxing, fast, in one of the facilitating signs, and able to see her own sign Cancer (i.e. in whole sign aspect to Cancer).
  • Mercury should be linked with benefics (same sign is best) rather than malefics, particularly with the benefic that pertains most to the type thing or the person being asked, and particularly avoiding influence of Saturn on Mercury.
  • Act when the Moon is prominent and linked with the Ascendant.  The best is the Moon in the Ascendant, but also very good is the Moon conjoining the lord of the Ascendant in the same sign while angular.
  • Act when the planet that is the best natural significator of the role played by the person being asked is strong.

Best wishes and happy electing!




Dorotheus of Sidon. (2005). Carmen Astrologicum. (D. Pingree, Trans.). Abingdon, MD: Astrology Center of America.

Elections and the Art of Choosing Times | 1. Dorothean Foundations


Electional astrology is one of four distinct major uses or categories of astrology.  Electional astrology is the art of choosing the right time to start something important; a time that will facilitate success.  The other three major uses of astrology are Natal astrology, which is uses birth charts to indicate things about people’s lives, Mundane astrology, which uses important cycles and astronomical events, such as equinoxes, solstices, lunations, to indicate things about worldly affairs, and Horary astrology, which uses the chart of the asking of a question to indicate the situation and the answer as a form of divination.


The earliest horoscopic astrological literature,  in the Hellenistic world of the first few centuries CE, put a particular emphasis on natal astrology.  This is in contrast to the greater preoccupation of its predecessor, Babylonian astrology, with mundane astrological indications.  Hellenisitic Astrology included major developments in the astrology of the individual.  Large tomes of new natal astrological lore were written at that time, including those of Dorotheus and Manilius of the 1st Century CE, Ptolemy and Valens of the 2nd Century, and Maternus of the 4th Century.  Natal astrology comprised the bulk, sometimes the entirety, of these large and influential works.  What is perhaps also interesting in this era is that mundane astrology seemed to somewhat wane in importance and horary astrology did not yet exist (to be developed and refined by the Perso-Arabic and the Indian astrologers).  The emphasis on an intricate astrology of the individual is interesting, and it may be this emphasis on the individual that helped to spark the ascendancy of a more complex form of electional astrology in the same period.  That a use for astrology that is so strongly linked to the will (i.e. electing a facilitating time) gains prominence along with one that focuses on the individual (i.e. natal astrology) is certainly a testimony to shifting philosophical attitudes at that time about fulfillment and fate.

The Carmen Astrologicum (“Song of Astrology” as it was written in verse) or Pentateuch (“Five Books” as it contained five books) of Dorotheus is one of the oldest surviving Hellenistic works (composed in the 1st Century CE). Its first four books dealt with natal astrology, but its final book focused on electional astrology.  This fifth book of Dorotheus laid the foundation of the horoscopic approach to electional astrology, and its influence is felt from the Hellenistic era thru the Middle Ages and Renaissance, all the way to the present.  As the roots of horoscopic electional astrology are Dorothean, I feel that a study of electional astrology should begin with a study of Book V of Dorotheus.

This sounds good in principle but there is a confounding factor at play.  The version of Dorotheus that has survived is an early medieval (about the 8th century) Arabic translation of a Pahlavi translation of the Greek work and is notoriously corrupted.  It influenced pre-medieval astrologers like Julius Firmicus Maternus and Hephaistio of Thebes, so there works can provide some guidance for reconstruction, but it does appear to differ at times from even those works.  The only known major Hellenistic work to work with the Dorothean electional material is the third book of The Apotlesmatics by Hephaistio of Thebes, which has yet to be translated into English (at the time this was written; but there is now an English translation available at this link).  Therefore, we are left with our surviving somewhat corrupted translation as our best representative of a “Hellenistic” electional astrology.  There are additional Persian works from the 8th century and beyond, which further develop the Dorothean material but often at a variance from the approach of Dorotheus and the chart principles of Hellenistic Astrology.

The recent publication by Dr. Benjamin Dykes of “Choices & Inceptions“, a collection of important medieval electional texts, is the best source for study of the Dorothean electional astrology as developed and elaborated upon by the Persians.  That text will repay years of study.  However, all serious students of electional astrology will also want to have a thorough understanding of the foundations of the art as laid out in Dorotheus and Hephaistio.

There is much in Dorotheus to suggest that electional technique was a bit broader in his day, as opposed to the later more systematic emphasis on the lord of the 1st, the application of the Moon, and the lord of the house signifying the topic.  Much like there is more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes, there is more than one way to bolster the helpfulness of a time in a general way, and we find a few things about these ways which were emphasized by Dorotheus that are gradually lost, or de-emphasized, in the later tradition.  I think that an understanding of Dorotheus’ approach is extraordinarily helpful in contextualizing electional astrology.


Book V can be divided into two main sections.  Chapters 1 thru 5, and Chapter 30, deal with the general principles of elections which can be applied to facilitate a diverse non-delimited range of actions, from when to start a journey to when to carry out a secret theft.  Chapters 6 thru 27, Chapter 29, Chapter 31, (Chapter 32 is natal astrology) and Chapters 33 thru 43 pertain to special considerations that pertain to specific topics, from construction to sales, and from marriage to sickness.  Topically the book can be examined as follows:

  • Rising Sign: Its fundamental importance in elections – Chapters 1-4.
  • The Moon: Its fundamental importance in elections – Chapters 4-5 and 28.
  • Natural Significators: The importance of each planet as a natural significator in elections – Chapters 3, 5, 30.
  • Asking Favors: Making requests to different types of people – Chapter 14.
  • Real Estate: Important things to examine for construction, demolition, leasing, buying land, and loans – Chapters 6-8, 10, and 20.
  • Sales: General buying and selling – Chapters 9, 43.
  • Servitude and Animals: Slaves, animals, imprisonment – Chapters 11-13, 27.
  • Teaching, Letters, and Wills: When to write or teach some topic – Chapters 15, 26 (Ch. 26 is really inceptional, i.e. an event chart, rather than electional), 42.
  • Partnership: Courtship, marriage, and the like – Chapters 16-19.
  • Journeys: When to leave and ship or vehicular matters – Chapters 21-25, 34.
  • Illness: Event chart indications and elections for medicine and dispelling spirits – Ch. 29, 31, 37-41.
  • Legal Contests: Mainly event chart indications – Ch. 33.
  • Thieves and Fugitives: Mainly event chart indications of theft, lost items, and runaways – Ch. 35-36.

Here my focus will be on the general indication sections, which focus on the Ascendant, the Moon, and the natural signification of the planets.

The Rising Sign

It is rather surprising that Dorotheus begins his book on elections with four chapters on choosing a rising sign that will facilitate success.  Most traditional electional astrology puts emphasis on the condition of the lord of the Ascendant and the application of the Moon, not what type of sign is rising.  However, the type of sign rising is the first thing noted by Dorotheus.  The first chapter introduces the book and stresses the importance of the rising sign at the start of every action, particularly whether it is straight or crooked in rising, as indicative of whether “its end will be good or bad” (Dorotheus, Book V, Ch. 1, Pingree, 2005, p. 262).  These are the admonitions of each of the next three chapters as concerns the sign rising when something is begun:

  • Crooked signs (Capricorn thru Gemini) rise fast so they facilitate quick and easy completion, while straight signs (Cancer thru Sagittarius) rise slowly so they tend to slow things down and cause trouble. Therefore, try to elect when a crooked sign is rising.  (Ch 2)
  • Tropical (i.e. cardinal or moveable) signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) indicate only brief activity so action break off before completion and need to be repeated.  Twin (i.e. mutable or common) signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) indicate complexion so an additional condition will arise that needs to be addressed before the action completes.  Since both of these signs encourage additional demands, you should generally elect when a fixed sign (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius) is rising.  (Ch. 4)
  • It is stronger and more fortunate to elect when the sign rising is of the same sect as the time of the election, so to have a diurnal sign (i.e. fire or air sign, though the “triplicities” weren’t identified with the elements at the time of Dorotheus) rising during the day and a nocturnal (i.e. water or earth sign) rising during the night.  (Ch. 4)

When one combines these sentiments one should conclude that in general terms it is Aquarius (the crooked, fixed, diurnal sign) that is the most fortunate rising sign to elect with by day and Taurus (the crooked, fixed, nocturnal sign) that is the most fortunate rising sign to elect with by night.  Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and Leo by day, or Scorpio, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces by night, can give you two out of three.  Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, and Pisces by day or Aries, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo by night give only one of the three indications.  By this logic it is unwise to elect with Cancer or Virgo by day nor by Libra or Sagittarius by night, as they give none of the three indications, and would greatly encourage instability.  For the most part, this doctrine seems to have been lost, especially the part most emphasized by Dorotheus, that of the straight and crooked signs.

The Moon

The bulk of the information about the use of the Moon is in Chapter 5.  There is one interesting passage at the end of Chapter 5 that provides a different perspective than what we are used to.  I would like to bring it up first, so I will quote Pingree’s (2005) English translation:

Look concerning the commencement of every matter at the ascendent and the Moon.  The Moon is the strongest of what is [possible] if it is above the earth, especially if this is at night; the ascendent is the strongest of what is [possible] if the Moon is under the earth by day.    (Dorotheus, Book V, Ch. 5, p. 267)

This passage implies that rising sign should be given primary consideration by day (especially if the Moon is below the horizon) and the Moon should be given primary consideration by night (especially if she is above the horizon).  This is another fascinating doctrine that has apparently been lost and could be a fruitful avenue for further electional research.

In Chapter 4, besides indicating that it helps to facilitate the action when the Ascendant is in a sign that is in sect, Dorotheus also noted that it is good when the Moon is in a sign that is in sect (i.e. in a diurnal sign by day or a nocturnal sign by night), indicating a sort of parallel between the Ascendant and the Moon for elections, not unlike that noted in the two paragraphs above. There are also passages in Book V that imply that you want to avoid putting the Moon in a mutable sign, so the indications given for the rising sign also appear to be relevant for the Moon (perhaps more so at night when she is above the horizon).

Another contrast with typical traditional electional doctrine is that there is virtually no emphasis on the lord of the Ascendant.  However, the lord of the Moon is very important (and possibly that of the Sun).  In a passage in Ch. 5 that is attributed by the translator to Valens, it is advised that one is to pay great attention to the Sun and Moon and the lords of their signs (then the Sun is no longer mentioned and the section pertains only to the Moon).  The Moon is said to indicate the base or start of the action while its sign lord indicates how things end up.

When it comes to strengthening the Moon, we again find it at somewhat of a variance from the typical traditional doctrine.  Whereas we often heard it expressed that the Moon shouldn’t be in the Ascendant (i.e. rising sign or first house) for an election because it could create instability, in Book V we find it explicit advise to put the Moon (and its lord) in the Ascendant (1st house) or Midheaven (10th house) if possible, or in one of the stakes (1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th houses), and avoid putting the Moon (or its lord) in a cadent place (12th, 6th, 9th, 3rd).  My guess is that the doctrine of not putting the Moon in the Ascendant resulted from a later distortion of a passage on journeys in which Dorotheus advised not to put the Moon in the 1st if it was aspected harshly by a malefic at the start of a journey, presumably because that could cogently signify bodily harm.  Also, when it comes to strengthening planets, whether the Moon, her lord, or the planet she is conjoining (see below), but especially the Moon, then it is important to make sure she is not regarded (i.e. whole sign aspect) by malefics by square or opposition, and that she is regarded by the benefics.

Dorotheus advises to avoid starting an action when the Moon is corrupted, which he defines as pertaining to one of the following conditions:

  • Eclipse (just a lunar eclipse?), especially if in the sign it holds in the nativity or a sign of the same triplicity (i.e. element).
  • New Moon, because the Moon being hidden under the Sun’s light lacks exposure.  However, this is actually beneficial for elections involving secret actions, especially if commenced as the Moon is moving out from the rays.
  • Full Moon, i.e. Moon opposed to the Sun (quarrels, advantage to youngest (upset?)).
  • Moon in twelfth-part of a malefic (i.e. Mars or Saturn).
  • Moon in the bound of a malefic at the end of a sign.
  • Moon in the via combusta (15 Libra to 15 Scorpio?).
  • Moon in the 9th and in a twin (i.e. mutable or common) sign.
  • Slow and Slowing Moon, i.e. decreasing in speed while moving less than twelve degrees per day.

Finally, the way that the Moon’s aspects are viewed also has some subtle differences from typical traditional doctrine.  The separations of the Moon are typically not seen as very significant in traditional doctrine because they supposedly indicate the past, while the applications of the Moon are given crucial importance because they represent the future.  Dorotheus does assert that the separation indicates ongoing situations and what has passed while the application indicates things to come.  However, the separations of the Moon are given a great emphasis in Dorotheus.  In Chapter 5 the separations of the Moon (particularly those in the same sign) are indicative of the basis of the action and ideally should be from benefics unless it is a matter of fleeing from those who wish one harm (in which case the symbolism of the Moon fleeing from malefics takes precedence).  Interestingly, the importance of the separations is noted before the applications are discussed.  Similarly, in Chapter 28, for looking at event charts it is advised that one pays special attention to the planet the Moon separates from when the matter pertains to a situation that already exists which one wants ameliorated, such as an illness or imprisonment.  Also, when electing for buying and selling, Dorotheus advises that the Moon may symbolize the commodity, the planet she separates from the seller, and the planet she applies to the buyer, which makes the separating planet very important in an election for a seller.

The star to which the Moon connects (applies, especially if in the same sign) is very important, especially if the election pertains to creating a new situation rather than modifying an existing one.  Dorotheus advised to make the planet the Moon applies to strong, by putting it in a stake (i.e. angle) just as he advised for the Moon and its lord.

To summarize the Dorothean principles for using the Moon and the way they differ from typical traditional electional doctrine, I review the points below:

  • It is the Moon and Ascendant that are important in the Dorothean doctrine, but not the lord of the AscendantThe Ascendant is more important by day and the Moon is more important by night.
  • The type of sign the Moon is in plays a big role in facilitating the action, just as the type of sign of the Ascendant does in the Dorothean doctrine.
  • The Lord of the Moon is very important and signifies the final outcome so it should be strengthened.
  • A strong Moon (or planet generally) is one in an angle, especially the 1st or 10th house, while weakest is when cadent.
  • Avoid corruptions, like lunations, and harsh malefic influences on the Moon.
  • Pay attention to the separations of the Moon as the basis or foundation of the action, good or bad, and strengthen the planet the Moon conjoins to.
  • There is not concern given to having the Moon apply to such and such house lord of such and such topic – strengthening the topic itself pertains to natural significators which are addressed below.

Natural Significations

By natural significations I mean the significations of the planets themselves, as opposed to the accidental significations that planets take on by ruling or being in a certain topical house.  Natural significations are much more immediate and overt.  It is little wonder we see more of an emphasis on generally strengthening the planet that signifies the matter (much like turning the volume up on that planet’s energy and influence) in the early electional astrology of Dorotheus, rather than a preoccupation with connecting the lord of the first and the Moon with the lord of the house that pertains to the topic, an approach that became prominent in the Middle Ages.

First off, in Chapter 2, Dorotheus advised to make the benefics strong and the malefics weak.  By strong, he meant angular.  He explicitly advised to put the benefics in the angles, especially the 1st or 10th, and presumably we want the malefics to be cadent because he noted that malefics in the Ascendant (or regarding it) slow things down and create trouble. Next, in Chapter 5, Dorotheus advised to let Jupiter or Venus (the benefics) be in the 1st or the 10th and to make sure they are in good condition such as not under the beams or retrograde or in a mutable sign or cadent or in a dark place or regarded harshly or closely by malefics.  These are considerations which harness the natural significations of the benefics for good and ease, while minimizing the natural significations of the malefics for difficulty and trouble.

In Chapter 30, Dorotheus then additionally advised to look at the lord of the action and make sure it is in good condition.  He clarifies that he means the lord which naturally signifies the thing.  Here are some of the actions he associates with planets (and some pairings):

  • Saturn and Jupiter together: buying land (i.e. real estate), power of attorney
  • Mercury: theft, gifts, arguments, practice, partnership, insults, love, trades, cultural events
  • Venus: marriage, love, food, perfumes
  • Mars: fights, military, etc.
  • Jupiter: government, asking favors, momentous needs for good
  • Sun and Jupiter together: evident important matter not involving secrecy or evil


In conclusion, Dorothean electional astrology generally involves paying attention to the sign of the Ascendant and the Moon, and probably giving more attention to the sign of the Ascendant by day and that of the Moon by night.  It also involves generally strengthening the Moon and its lord, and the benefics, while secondarily strengthening the planet the Moon applies to and the natural significator of the matter, while weakening the malefics.  The 1st and 10th place become crucial in this matter, and the other angles secondary.

As you can see, there are many differences between the emphasis of the electional astrology of Dorotheus of the 1st century CE and that of the Middle Ages which continues to be a dominant influence over the practice of electional astrology today.  Only through keeping an open mind and a willingness to experiment can we decide the best times for facilitating actions.


Dorotheus of Sidon. (2005). Carmen Astrologicum. (D. Pingree, Trans.). Abingdon, MD: Astrology Center of America.

Lots | Boldness: A Lot for Bloodshed | Holmes Revisited

And if the Ascendant were a masculine sign, and the luminaries and the Lord of the Ascendant in a masculine sign, with Mars lingering in an angle, it signifies that the native will be bold and his commands will be implemented, and he will love the shedding of blood, especially if the Lot of Boldness were with Mars, or Mars were the Lord of the Lot.   (Abu’Ali, On the Judgments of Nativities, Ch. 34, Dykes trans., 2009, p. 300)

The Lot of Boldness was discussed by Abu’Ali in his material on significations for various the types of actions and strivings in birth charts.  In Chapter 34 of his “On the Judgments of Nativities”, in which the topic of boldness is discussed, he looks primarily at this lot and its lord as an indicator of how easily a person can carry out military-style killing.  According to Abu Ma’shar and al-Qabisi, the lot is found from Saturn to the Moon by day, or the Moon to Saturn by night, with this distance projected from the Ascendant.

As evident in the introductory quote, the Lot of Boldness relates strongly to how easily one can kill.  Certainly, this is a very important consideration when it comes to the military, where a hesitancy to kill can cost one’s side defeat.  Another factor that relates strongly to this is the prominence of Mars.  The occurrence of Mars in an angle or “stake” (1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th house) was thought to also bring some type of violence or military action (or other Mars-y thing) in the life to wider fame or infamy.  Additionally, we see that significators of the self and personality in masculine signs also tends to make one more bold and commanding.

James Holmes and the Lot of Boldness

James Holmes, the Colorado mass murderer who executed movie-goers in a style reminiscent of a military massacre, provides a shocking testimony to the potential of this lot.  Holmes has his Lot of Boldness at 12 Scorpio, both ruled by and conjunct within one degree (applying) his Mars at 13 Scorpio, and very prominent, conjunct the angle of his IC at 13 Scorpio and his Lot of Fortune at 10 Scorpio.

Homes Natal with Lot of Boldness
Homes Natal with Lot of Boldness

Abu’Ali also looked primarily to the lord of the Ascendant and to Mercury for the personality, considering their position in mutable signs to be an indication of instability. Here we find the Ascendant, its lord, the Sun (which is the lord the Asc), and Mercury additionally all in masculine signs.

Additionally, Mars is in an angle/stake, and actually strongly advancing conjunct the angle of the earth.  Interestingly, Abu’Ali, in Ch. 47, on the planets in each house, noted that Mars in the 4th signifies “the shedding of blood, murders, a sad exit [from life]” (Dykes trans., 2009, p. 320). He doesn’t mention murders and shedding blood for any other Mars position in house.  I am thinking this is particularly so with the 4th because the 4th, being the “angle of the earth”, with the earth being itself representative of physicality and the body, strongly carries connotations of bodies and ends.


The chart of James Holmes provides some indications that the Lot of Boldness warrants further research and can hold some potential in delineating the human capacity for ease or difficulty in taking human life.



Masha’allah, & al-Khayyat, A.  ’Ali. (2009). Persian Nativities I: Masha’allah and Abu  ’Ali. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.