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



In the first article of this series, I presented the general rules for electional astrology as laid out by Dorotheus. We looked at how they contrast with the rules of the later tradition. In the electional astrology of Dorotheus there is an emphasis on the sign types 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 article of this series, I looked at the more specific guidelines for electing a time to ask a favor.  We saw a reiteration of the importance of a strong Moon and strong natural significators.

Letters and Information

In this article, we will again deal with a common but specific type of election.  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 letter, when to teach, or when to deliver some important information.  I am of the opinion that the same rules apply to signing or delivering contracts as well.  The electional side of this is dealt with in Chapter 16 (Ch. 15 of Pingree trans.) of Book V of Carmen. we will also attempt to draw information from Chapter 27 (Ch. 26 of Pingree) 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 of the Pingree translation 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)


Not surprisingly, we notice that the key natural significator to strengthen in the matter is Mercury.  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.


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

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