Category Archives: Elections

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.