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.


Blogger interested in all things astrological, especially Hellenistic, medieval, Uranian, and asteroid astrology.

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