Astrological Predictive Techniques | Progressions | 1. Valens on Secondary Progressions

Secondary progressions are a popular predictive technique in modern astrology in which the transits of each day following the birth are symbolic of important events in each year of life (i.e. a day symbolizes a year).  They are called “secondary” to distinguish them from “primary” directions, in which every degree of earthly rotation or as its called, primary motion (i.e. degree of right ascension), after birth was associated with one year of life.  Primary directions can be traced back to a very early strata of Hellenistic astrology.  On the other hand, secondary directions are typically believed to have been invented by Placidus, a 17th century astrologer, monk, and mathematician.

Therefore, it has been surprising to find that secondary progressions were also discussed by Vettius Valens, over 1500 years prior to their independent invention by Placidus.  Unlike primary directions, secondary progressions were not widespread in Hellenistic astrology.  Like many other predictive techniques, evidence of their use in that era survives only in the work of Valens.

Valens discussed two methods of secondary progressions in the final book, Book IX, of his Anthology.  The first is the standard method in which one determines the age of the native, and then adds that many years in days to the birth date and looks at the transits to the natal chart on that day.

It is necessary to calculate as follows: add a number of days to the birth date equivalent to the age (in years) of the native.  Then, having first determined the date, whether in the following month or in the birth month itself, cast a horoscope for that day.  <See> which star, if any, is in the Ascendant or is coming into conjunction with another star, and whether it is moving from an angle to a point following or preceding an angle, or from a point <following or> preceding an angle to an angle, or whether it was rising at the date of the delivery but is now setting or coming to some unrelated phase, or to something better.  You may consider these to be the periodic forecasts.  (Valens, Anthologies, Book IX, Ch. 3, Riley trans., 2010, p. 154)

It is pretty cool to see Valens using this symbolic rationale of equating smaller units of astrological time with larger units of time in one’s life, and it certainly opens the door for validating the type of thinking that goes into other similar symbolic progressions, such as tertiary progressions (each day after birth represents a lunar month of life) and solar arc directions (each planet and point progresses at the same rate in one year as the Sun does in a day following the birth).

The basic secondary progression as described by Valens can be accomplished in the free open-source astrological program, Morinus, by selecting “Secondary Directions” from the “Chart” menu or pressing CTRL+SHIFT+F4 while a chart is open.  This type of progression is a useful predictive device.

For instance, note that in Kurt Cobain’s natal chart the Sun, which moves about a degree a day, is about 27 degrees before Saturn in the chart.  Kurt died at Age 27, and as we can see from the chart of the secondary progression it was when his Sun progressed to his Saturn (i.e. the Sun conjoined Saturn 27 days after he was born which is symbolic of Age 27).  In the chart for 27 days after birth, the Sun is at 28°49′ of Pisces, which is in the same degree as his natal Saturn with the disc of the Sun actually spanning over that exact Saturn position. This fits with some of the other things noted for Cobain’s death (also see Kurt’s synastry with Courtney Love), especially the Sun-Saturn conjunction at his solar return for the year.

Cobain's Secondary Progressions at Age 27
Cobain’s Secondary Progressions at Age 27 – Progressed Sun conjunct Natal Saturn

While the simple method of looking at the transits so many days after birth as years in age is a good method for most purposes, it should be noted that the Moon moves about 13 degrees in a day, so its position could differ somewhat after just half a day.  For this reason, we might want a more precise measure of secondary progressions sometimes to measure exactly where the progressed Moon would be after so many months, as twelfths of a day, has passed in addition to years as days.  One way to do this is simply to add about a degree to the position of the SP position of the Moon for each month after the birthday, since the Moon travels a little over a degree each twelfth of a day.  Also, some software programs will calculate the SP Moon position for a particular day after birth.  This can be useful as the SP Moon can be very significant in predictive timing.

For instance, David Carradine died when Age 72, but about halfway through the year, in June, following his birthday in December.  Looking at the exact SP positions for the day of death, we see two things.  First, we note that the SP Sun finally moved into Pisces, his first house of self and body, a few months after his birthday.  This is very significant because it is an important planet moving from a cadent house to an angular one, and the most important angular one at that, which happens to be occupied by Saturn in Carradine’s chart (note in the Valens quote above that he attached particular important to planets entering the rising sign by secondary progression).  Secondly, we notice that the SP Moon enters into his natal Sun-Saturn square configuration, as the SP Moon applies a square to his Saturn (while separating from Mars) and an opposition to his Sun, all in an extremely tight configuration that also includes SP Venus (planet of sexuality).

Carradine's secondary progressions at the time of death
Carradine’s secondary progressions at the time of death

Valens was concerned about the fact that Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn move very little by secondary progression.  To remedy this he proposed that we also look at the date of the secondary progression but for the current year, taking special note of the aspects they make and such.  What this does is to give us another particularly important symbolic day of the year besides our solar return, in that we look at the day which is about the same number of days after our solar return as we are old.  For instance, if you were born December 4th and turned 15 years old in 2011, then you would be interested in December 19th, 2011 and the transits on that day to your natal chart, especially as they concern Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

I have not experimented with this latter technique as much, and my experimenting with it so far has not been very inspiring, but there have been intimations that it may be useful.  For instance, when we return to Carradine’s age 72 SP positions (February 18th) and look at them for the year of his death (2009), we do find the ruler of his 1st house (Jupiter) in the 12th house of the bad spirit and conjoined to the out of sect malefic Mars in the bound of Venus and the domicile of Saturn. While Saturn also opposes his natal Saturn, the indications from that were more revealing at the solar return than at this secondary chart.

Carradine's Secondary Progressions but using year of death rather than year of birth
Carradine’s Secondary Progressions but using year of death rather than year of birth –

While secondary progressions are almost wholly absent from ancient astrology, appearing as almost an afterthought in the last book of Valens’s Anthology, they can be an informative addition to our arsenal of annual techniques for prediction.  Take some time to explore them for yourself.


Valens, V. (2010). Anthologies. (M. Riley, Trans.) (Online PDF.). World Wide Web: Mark Riley. Retrieved from

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.