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



In the first article, I introduced the general rules or guidelines of electional astrology. These guidelines were laid out by Dorotheus in the first century.  We found that the most important factors in choosing times significantly differed from today’s traditional electional astrology.  Those guidelines were put into practice in the second article on choosing the right time to ask a favor and the third article on timing messages.

I’d like to continue to explore Dorothean material on useful elections. This article takes on another very broadly useful matter: when to buy and sell things.  Again we will see that the general guidelines are important. Additionally, I’ll introduce you to some place-related rules.  We will focus primarily on two techniques in Chapter 9 of Book V of Carmen (Ch. 10 of Dykes trans.). After that we’ll take a quick look at the other chapter on selling (Ch. 43 Pingree trans.; Ch. 44 Dykes trans.). That chapter looks at various lunar phases and what they signify in elections for sales.

Buying and Selling by Lunar Connections

The Moon is very important in this matter, so we must first consider her aspects. Whole sign aspects are when planets regard (“see”) each other, or are co-present (“with”) each other in the same sign. If you are not familiar with these then please see the lesson on configurations. Additionally, there are also “connections” between the planets. These 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, we consider her closest aspects within 13 degrees as connections. This is approximately an aspect that will be completed within a day of her motion.

Note that this technique is also discussed by Hephaistion (Book III, Ch. 16). However, Hephaistion presented the second technique (that of the stakes discussed below), then this lunar technique.

Void of Course

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. As noted in the section on corruptions of the Moon from the article on the basics of electing, there is also a concept in which the Moon is “void of course” or running in a void. The concept of void of course Moon does not appear as a lunar corruption in Dorotheus or Hephaistion. It appears in some Hellenistic texts as more of a natal concern and later became a corruption for elections. The Hellenistic concept of void of course also uses a bigger range than even the 13 degrees used for connections. The Moon is only void if she doesn’t complete an exact connection within the next 30 degrees of her travel.

Both Applications and Separations

The connections made by the Moon are important in Hellenistic elections.  This includes both her applications and her separations, as discussed in the introductory article.  We will focus on applying and separating connections completed within the 13 degrees in front of or behind the Moon, regardless of sign boundaries.

Lunar Symbolism

“If you wanted to sell something or buy [it], then look at the position of the Moon: for the star which the Moon is connecting with indicates the buyer and the price, the star which the Moon flows away from indicates the seller, and the Moon indicates the commodity which is sold or bought.” (Dorotheus, Book V, Ch. 10, Dykes trans., 2017, p. 241)

In summary, the Moon is the commodity, her separation is the seller, and her application is the buyer and price.  Buyer and price are lumped together. Therefore, what is good for the buyer is good for the price. From this it is clear that what is meant by price is a “good deal”, i.e. the buyer benefiting from the sale.

Examining Condition of Significators

Malefics with or regarding one of these significators shows it is in a bad state. 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, so what is intended is to examine the nature and closeness of the aspect. For instance, a malefic opposition within 3 degrees is powerfully negative, while a malefic in whole sign inferior trine is very weak. The most powerful regards are when a planet is with another, square, or opposed. Connections are also more powerful.  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.

Example of Lunar Significators

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

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

Commodity: Moon

The Moon would represent the book.  Jupiter is with her which is powerfully beneficial. She is regarded by Venus by sextile which is also beneficial but much less so. Her lord, Mercury, connects with her by square and she is strong in the 1st place. She is not regarded by Mars and is only regarded by Saturn via inferior trine.  Therefore, we would judge the book to be of very good quality.

Seller: Separation

The seller is Venus as the Moon has just separated from her.  Venus is square to Mars and she is not regarded by her ruler.  She 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. Overall, the seller’s condition is disadvantaged as the strongest aspect is from Mars.  If we were electing for the seller then we’d want  to improve the state of the planet the Moon is separating from.

Buyer: Application

The buyer is Mercury because the Moon is applying a connection to Mercury.  Mercury is in a somewhat mixed state. On the negative side, it is under the beams and in a mutable sign. However, Mercury also shows benefit by being dominated (right-hand whole sign square) by Jupiter which it is making an applying connection to. By contrast, the connection with Mars by sextile has separated. Mercury is also with Fortune.  Mercury also rules the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Fortune, and Jupiter.  In conclusion, the buyer seems to be in a pretty good state and is favored over the seller as the advantaged party to receive the greatest benefit from the transaction. If electing, we have positioned the buyer to buy a high quality product at a favorable price.

Buying and Selling by the Stakes

The stakes of the chart are the four most important houses and define a cross of the signs. They 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. They would also be the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th houses respectively.  These four places take on special significance in Dorotheus’s alternative technique for sales elections.

“The Ascendant indicates the one buying, and the seventh the one selling, and the tenth indicates the price, and the house of fathers {4th} indicates the the commodity which you are selling or buying. And look in these places in the manner which I described to you about the matter of the Moon in the first approach: for wherever the fortunes or infortunes occur or look at it, it introduces harm and benefit to that matter which is attributed to that stake.”  (Dorotheus, Book V, Ch. 10, Dykes trans., 2017, p. 242 – curly brackets added)

This same technique was also give by Hephaistion (Book III, Ch. 16).

Condition of the Stakes

In summary, the 1st house is the buyer, the 7th is the seller, the 10th is the price, and the 4th is the commodity. He explicitly advised us to look at how benefics or malefics are in or regarding those places. Hephaistion advised to do the same

In this we see another contrast between Hellenistic elections and later traditional elections, concerning the state of significant places. The regard of planets to the places became de-emphasized and replaced by analysis of the state of the ruler of a place.  Dorotheus makes no mention of the rulers of the places in this technique. The places themselves are the primary factors of influence here.

Additionally, regard is not as important for this technique as the position of benefics and malefics in the houses themselves. This is because each of the stakes has a strong regard to the others. Though it is worth noting that regards from the right side are more influential than those from the left, particularly as we look at those regards by sextile and trine for this tecchnique.

Example of Stakes as Significators

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

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

Buyer: I

The buyer is at a great advantage in this election because Jupiter is in the 1st house with the Moon. Additionally, Venus and the lord of the place regard it. Saturn only regards from inferior trine.

Commodity: IV

The product also seems to be in a good state. Mercury, the Sun, and Fortune occupy the 4th place. The place is dominated by Jupiter (right-hand square) and occupied by the place’s lord. Mars regards only by inferior sextile, so its influence is relatively weak.

Seller: VII

The seller is not in a very bad state, but not nearly as good as the buyer.  The 7th place is empty. Saturn is in a superior sextile to it. Venus is also in superior trine. Overall, it is fairly neutral. However, it is not in nearly as good a state as the 1st place, which represents the buyer. Therefore, this election favors the buyer.

Price: X

It is very much the same situation with the 10th place, representative of the price. Mars in superior trine, but the place is overall somewhat neutral.


In this case the techniques yielded very similar but not quite identical significations.  These two approaches 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. We can also try to avoid afflicting the 10th and 4th.  For a seller the stress should be on the separation of the Moon and the 7th house.

Note that the person we are electing for is not always represented by the Ascendant and the application of the Moon. In a sales transaction, the buyer is the effective agent that offers to purchase kicking off the transaction. Without a buyer, there is no offer, so the buyer is suitably the 1st house in a transaction. Whether the seller has been trying to sell for years or has never marketed the commodity, the seller receives the buyer’s offer and formalizes the transaction. The seller is suitably the 7th house in a transaction. Similarly, the commodity (Moon) flows away from the seller and to the buyer, so the seller as separation and buyer as application are also suitable.

Lunar Cycle Material

There is some additional material on buying and selling contained in Chapter 43 (44 of Dykes trans.). This is the last chapter of Book V of Carmen. Here the signification is provided by various lunar cycles.  These cycles are of three types, those relative to the nodes, relative to the Sun, and through the signs.

Hephaistion not only addressed this material as well in Book III, Ch. 16 of Apotelesmatiks but provided a lengthy quote from the original Dorotheus.

“When Selēnē passes by the up-leading Node, if, full of light, she also increases her course in numbers,  [for] whatever you buy, you will give more than what you need to give. But going on the down-leading paths, on which she decreases, going towards less, easy will the purchase be. And they say that if you look up on when Selēnē comes out from the assembly, and first enters the four-sided figure of the fiery-looking Helios, better will it be for fairer [dealings]: form you will pay money for something worth buying, and a more agreeable deed is to offer neither too inferior a price nor a much too superfluous amount. Until she into the diameter moves, it will suit the one who sells or demands payment. Again, when the quick-glancing one goes into the third side of the square, then it is good to buy–or steal– whatever one desires. The Goddess being on the fourth side and moving towards the assembly, if you give little from much, better will this be for you.”  (Hephaistion quoting Dorotheus, Apotelsmatics, Book III, Ch. 16, #13-17, Gramaglia trans., 2013, p. 81)

Relative to the Nodes; Ascending/Descending in Latitude

After the Moon passes the North Node but before she reaches the South Node, she is ascending, Once the Moon passes the South Node, and before she reaches the North Node, she is descending.  An ascending Moon indicates rising prices (benefits seller) while a descending Moon indicates falling prices (benefits buyer).

Relative to the Sun; Lunar Phase

From the Moon leaving the beams of the Sun to the First Quarter Moon is a time of fair prices.  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).  The Full Moon to the Last Quarter Moon is a good time to buy.  From the Last Quarter Moon to the New Moon is a time when one can give little to receive much, so the price is particularly low.

Therefore, just after a New Moon it doesn’t favor either buyer or seller. However, when she is more than a quarter full the waxing Moon (think rising prices) favors sellers, while the waning Moon (think fall prices) favors buyers. Note that Hephaistion adds that the Full Moon indicates a higher price (favors the seller) and waning indicates a lower price. So the buyer advantage is not until the Moon is clearly waning toward the last quarter. When it is waning past the last quarter is probably the time when prices are lowest.

Relative to the Signs; Ascending/Descending in Ecliptic Declination

This is not mentioned by Hephaistion, nor in his quote of Dorotheus (see above). However, the manuscripts of Dorotheus that we have also equate the signs of increasing declination with increasing prices and vice-versa. Some (including Dykes 2017) take this to be a corruption of the advice regarding the nodes (i.e. using declination instead of latitude). Though it may also reflect an additional condition discussed by Dorotheus.

Dorotheus noted the ascending half as Aquarius to Cancer and descending as Leo to Capricorn. However, technically, in terms of declination, the ascending half is from the start of Capricorn to end of Gemini, and the descending is from the start of Cancer to the end of Sagittarius. Again, the ascending Moon indicates inflated prices (benefits seller) while a descending Moon indicates deflated prices (benefits buyer).

Five Dimensions of 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, phase, sign).  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. Lunar connection: Buyer benefits by lunar connection because Mercury is in better state than Venus.
  2. Stakes: Buyer benefits by stakes because the Ascendant is in a better state than the 7th.
  3. Nodes: Buyer benefits by nodes because the Moon is past the South Node which indicates falling prices.
  4. Lunar Phase: Buyer benefits by lunar phase because the Moon is waning at Last Quarter indicating falling prices.
  5. Signs: Seller benefits by signs because the Moon is in Gemini which is in the ascending half of the zodiac, indicating higher prices.


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


Dorotheus of Sidon, & al-Tabari, U. (2017). Carmen Astrologicum: The ’Umar al-Tabari Translation. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, Minn.,: The Cazimi Press.

Hephaistion of Thebes (2013). Apotelesmatics Book III: On Inceptions. (E. Gramaglia, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.

Image Attribution

Featured image by upyernoz from Haverford, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Update 05/11/2019

This article was significantly updated on 05/11/2019 with the addition of quotes from more recent translations of Dorotheus and Hephaistion. Additionally, some minor errors in the original article have been corrected and it has been edited for greater clarity.



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

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

  • September 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Dear Anthony,

    if a malefic casts an inferior aspect – whatever – isn’t it enough for afflict the aspected one? Example, moon receiving an inferior sextile from mars.

    Are ALL the aspects good for help describing a point/planet aspecting or only the superior trine/square?

    Thanks a lot

    • September 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      Hi Rodolfo,

      Inferior aspects are not quite as potent as superior ones. Basically, the planet in the superior position tends to influence the inferior one more than the other way around, and this type of superiority may be called “overcoming”.

      However, some types of aspects are more potent than others. For instance, when two planets are with each other in the same sign (i.e. co-present) that is most influential, especially if they are applying to each other within 15 degrees, which was called “in assembly”. According to Serapio, even of those in the same sign the one in the early degree in the sign is more influential. Also, planets in the “stakes” of each other (i.e. in a whole sign square or opposition) are particularly influential on each other. Additionally, planets that are aspecting closely, such as those in assembly (applying conjunction in the same sign within 15 degrees), those in adherence (applying conjunct within 3 degrees even if across the sign), separations and applications of the Moon (within 13 degrees), and connections (other planet-to-planet aspects within 3 degrees, regardless of sign boundaries) are very influential. The planet on the right side of a whole sign square is extremely influential and that position was said to be one of the planet on the right “dominating” the one on the left.

      Let’s say the Moon is receiving an inferior sextile from Mars that is applying within 3 degrees. That is extremely influential, and I would say that it afflicts the Moon. Even more so if it is the next application of the Moon. It is similar if Mars were in square or opposition to the Moon by whole sign, or Mars was in assembly with the Moon. Similarly, while many astrologers view a square or opposition from a benefic as a bad thing, that (and actual connections) are the most influential regards from a benefic besides being with it in the same sign, so they are very beneficial, especially if the benefic “dominates” the planet (superior square).

      Basically, either a strong type of aspect (same sign is strongest, then opposition and square, then trine, and sextile is weakest) or the close aspects (connections, especially applying ones) are very powerful and can afflict or bless a planet.

      Example: Dahmer – http://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Dahmer,_Jeffrey Moon is badly afflicted by both Mars (co-present with Mars overcoming, last bodily separation and within 13deg) and Saturn (domination plus connection, last separation of the Moon). The Ascendant lord, Venus, is lost strongly influenced by Saturn, as he overcomes her by trine and most closely (she is also in Saturn’s bound). The Sun is most influenced by Mercury (with Mercury and in Mercury’s sign and bound) but also by Mars which overcomes by sextile, and the Sun is not seen by any of the benefics. The Ascendant’s ruler does not see it, but the Ascendant is strongly influenced by the Moon which opposes it by applying connection and Saturn which square it by separating connection. The domination of the Moon and Mars by Jupiter does add a touch of luck with the significations of the Moon and Mars but for the most part is a weaker influence because Jupiter is retreating, in fall, and afflicted by Saturn.

      This distinction between stronger and weaker types of aspectual influence is really useful when looking at Lots as well, where I’ve found that the actual degree of the Lot can be very important especially if there are actual planetary connections (aspects within 3 degrees) to it.

      Best wishes,



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.