I now offer natal astrology readings

If you’re looking to understand your place in the cosmos, or want a clearer perspective regarding your overall life circumstances, I want you to know that I now provide natal astrology readings.

I try to respond to requests within seventy-two hours, and ask only for a small donation in return, provided that you are completely satisfied with your reading, and you are able to afford it.

If you’d like to read a long, drawn-out version of why I’ve decided to offer natal astrology readings, read on!

Late last year, I began offering tarot readings via email, and the response I’ve received has been incredible. It was my intention to help everyone who chose to reach out to me for a reading, regardless of their ability to pay for my services. To that end, I asked for no money in advance. Instead, after I had answered their question, I would provide a link through which they could send me a donation or gift–provided that they were both 100% satisfied with the reading, and they wouldn’t harm their wallets.

The result is more than I could have ever hoped for. Not only have I been able to help more people than I thought possible, but their generosity has been truly humbling. If you are one of those wonderful souls who have reached out to me for a reading, please accept my sincerest thanks.

It has always been my hope to expand the services I offer through this site, but I’ve been hesitant to do so for fear of not having enough time to answer requests promptly. “Baby steps,” I said to myself. I would only offer those types of consultations which I knew I could handle in a reasonable time-frame, and I would give myself a long time between announcements of new services, so as to avoid biting off more than I could chew.

Now, I’m in a position to offer natal astrology readings, under the same terms and conditions that apply to my tarot consultations. If you’d like a natal consultation, you can request a reading here. If you have any questions, or just want to say “hi,” please email me and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Have a blessed day!

Which method of divination should you learn?

I’ve written before about how important I believe divination is to successful magic, but what I haven’t done is to write about which divination method one should use. This is because the answer to that question is: it’s up to you.

In my experience, which system of divination someone uses is a deeply personal choice. Yes, accuracy should be the most important factor in selecting a method of divination, but there’s also the question of feel. When you’re looking for guidance, answers, or knowledge of the future, whichever system or method you’re using should be something you resonate with.

It’s also important to understand that some methods of divination are better suited to certain kinds of questions.

That’s kind of what I want to unpack in this post: which sorts of questions you’re most likely to ask, and which systems of divination might be most suited to answering them.

Asking questions, getting answers

To be clear, regardless of which method of divination we’re looking at, the purpose of them all is more or less the same. You ask questions, you get answers. These questions might be specific, such as: “Should I go to the party tonight?”

Other times, we’re looking for a more “general read” on a situation, such as: “What does the next month hold in store for me?”

The most important thing to remember about any system of divination is that it’s only really useful if it gives you meaningful, actionable answers to the questions you ask. The more well-suited a method of divination is to the question, the better your chances of getting actionable information.

This is why I’ve studied and practiced many different methods of divination over the years. While I do have my favorites, I’m not opposed to reaching for whichever method is best suited for the kind of question I need answered.

With that said, let’s get into it. We’ll look at the kinds of questions we usually want to answer. As you’re experimenting with different systems, consider each of these broad “classes” of questions, and try to sort out which systems are best for answering each.

Yes or no?

One common sort of question we’d like to get an answer to are “yes-or-no” questions. Should I go to the party? Will I get a raise? Should I start looking for a new apartment? These are all questions where we’re looking for a direct “yes” or “no” response.

Unfortunately, many of the more popular methods of divination seem to be almost comically bad at answering direct, yes-or-no questions. For instance, I know relatively few Tarot readers who will even try to get their decks to cut to the chase and answer these questions directly.

In my experience, horary astrology is the best method for getting a yes or no answer to a question.

In horary astrology, you cast a chart for the moment you ask a question, then you follow a set of interpretive rules to determine the answer. You’ll almost always get a definite positive or negative response, along with a fair bit of other, relevant information.

For example, let’s say you were to ask: “Will I get a raise?” You’ll get a “yes” or a “no.” Let’s say it’s a “yes.” You’ll probably get a sense of how large or small the raise will be, as well as a pretty good idea of the time when you’ll get the raise. If it’s a “no” response, you can probably sort out why you won’t get it by looking at other factors in the chart.

The one real drawback to horary astrology (and astrology in general) is that it’s a pretty complicated subject with a lot of nuance. It can take months or even years to get even halfway good at reading a chart.

This might be why the most common divination tool I see used for getting a simple yes-or-no response is the pendulum.

Do a Google search for pendulum divination and you’ll find hundreds of articles and videos on its use, but the main idea is quite simple. Hold the pendulum by its cord and let it hang straight down in front of you. Make sure you start off with the pendulum still, then ask: “Show me yes.” Watch what the pendulum does. After a little while, steady the pendulum again and ask: “Show me no.”

Repeat this a few times until you’ve “calibrated” the pendulum, then ask the questions you want answered.

I don’t do a lot of work with pendulums myself, but according to those who do, it usually only takes a few sessions before you start getting consistently good results.

Either or? Should I?

Another very common kind of question is the “either-or” question. In fact, many “yes-or-no” questions can be re-phrased as an “either-or” one, particularly if you are asking a question that begins with the words: “Should I…”

For example, consider the question: “Should I go to the party tonight?”

That could probably be better expressed as: “Should I go to the party tonight, or should I stay home?”

In a case like this, I find the Tarot to be exceptional. My go-to way of answering such a question is to perform a “three-versus-three” reading.

I throw down six cards. The first three are to answer the question “What if I go to the party tonight?” The second three are for “What if I stay home tonight?” I look carefully at both situations, and choose whether or not to go based on which set of cards looks the best.

Most “either-or” questions tend to be rooted in this idea of “should I.” These are tricky sorts of questions to answer with most of the divination methods I’m familiar with. Horary astrology doesn’t do well with “shoulds,” unless you can honestly re-phrase the question to be a direct yes-or-no.

For example, let’s say you ask: “Should I invest in my friend’s business, or should I hold onto my money?”

Assuming your main interest in asking this question is growing your wealth, the question you’re really asking is: “Will I make a profit if I invest in my friend’s business?”

Horary astrology can answer that question quite easily.

Natal astrology can also help us a bit with “should” questions, although in a more roundabout way. By looking at your birth chart, and taking into account the current and upcoming transits to it, you can get a reasonable picture of which areas of your life are likely to be easier, and which are likely to be more challenging.

For out investment question above, let’s say that you look at your chart and upcoming transits and see what looks like a pretty hairy period of financial difficulties in your near future. You might want to set that “extra” money aside.

When?

Questions involving the timing of events can be among the most frustrating.

“When will I get married?”

“When will I find a job?”

“How long will it take for my business to take off?”

I already mentioned that horary astrology can usually give you a good idea of when events are likely to occur, but using other divination methods to get answers to a “when” question can be tricky.

In my experience, there are two broad approaches to answering these questions, and both come with drawbacks.

The first method involves trying to get a specific time or date, or at least a very narrow range (down to a few days or hours, depending on the nature of the question). This really is a question horary astrology. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never gotten a reliable, specific time with anything else.

Another method you could try is to use Lenormand cards. This is an oracle deck, as opposed to the Tarot, and some people I know have had good success in getting precise timing out of it. Myself? I only use Lenormand on rare occasions, and when I’ve tried to get a time, it just doesn’t pan out. Things might be different if I really took the time to “master” the deck, but I just haven’t.

The second method of getting a time involves choosing a reasonable one as a starting point, and then asking whether the event will happen before the chosen time, or after it. You can then try for a yes-or-no answer, or try to ask a more general question with an eye toward that time.

For example, let’s say you’re unemployed and running out of money. You’ve put in for a number of jobs, have some good prospects. You want to know when to expect a job offer. Let’s pick a time—say, two weeks.

You could simply ask “Will I get a job within two weeks?” Assuming you have a good system for answering yes-or-no questions, you should get the information you’re looking for.

Taking the more general approach, you could ask “Show me what my work situation will be like in two weeks.” This tends to be the approach I take when using the Tarot.

One more thing I should point out is that, when using a system other than horary astrology for “when” questions, I usually get better results when I use “natural” events for timing. What I mean by this is, instead of asking if something will happen before “next Thursday,” I’ll ask if it will happen before “the next full Moon,” or “in the summer.”

Try it both ways and see what happens.

Where?

Sometimes you’ll want to know either where something will happen or where something is. These questions both involve the word “where,” but they’re very different, and they usually benefit from different approaches.

To be clear, “where should I move to,” is one kind of question. “Where are my car keys,” is another one entirely.

For the first kind of “where” question, you can usually sort out the answer doing variations on “either-or.” There are also some specific forms of divination which are tailored toward finding places, such as locational astrology.

When you’re trying to find a lost object (or a person, or a pet), again, horary astrology is a pretty decent choice. It can sometimes be a little tricky to find things using horary, because the methods involved usually give you a list of possibilities which don’t always narrow things down satisfactorily. For instance, if you’re looking for your missing cat, you might get an answer that it’s “a short distance to the north of your house, inside or under something.”

Well, that’s certainly a start, but it’s not exactly “sleeping under your neighbor’s car.”

Despite not using it very often, I’ve actually had a surprising amount of success with the Lenormand deck for “where” questions.

For example, maybe I’ve misplaced my keys. Well, there’s a “Key” card in the Lendormand deck. I’ll take out my Lenormand cards, shuffle them, and then look through the deck for the “Key.” If I find it between the “Book” and the “Letter” cards, I’ll go search my desk. If I find it between “Garden” and “Lillies,” I’ll go outside and check my flower beds.

It doesn’t always work, but sometimes the answers you get from Lenormand really can be that literal.

Getting a general “read” on a situation

We’ve covered several different types of “specific” questions, but in my mind, it’s the “general” sort of question or reading that’s the most useful. I find getting my head around a situation as a whole to be more helpful (and easier) than attempting a “surgical strike” for only the specific answer I might be interested in right then.

The answer to “will I get the promotion,” is less valuable to me than “show me my work situation for the spring.”

Astrology is an excellent tool for this, particularly natal astrology. I can pull up a birth chart, check the current and upcoming transits, and get a good sense of how things are going to go. This is especially true when I want to see which areas of a person’s life are likely to go well in the near future, which areas might be more challenging, and how these areas will affect and influence each other.

And, yes, the Tarot is my very next choice. I usually stick with a five-card spread when doing this sort of reading, but for particularly complex or confusing situations, I’ll use a full Celtic Cross.

Another method of divination which can be used similarly (and which I haven’t touched on yet) is geomancy. Put very simply, geomancy involves creating a series of figures using lines or points either drawn on paper or in sand, then arranging those figures into a kind of “astrologically-themed” chart. You then read this chart according to a set of fairly simple rules.

This is far from an adequate description of geomancy, and I encourage you to look into it yourself, especially if you don’t find yourself drawn to the Tarot. Geomancy was one of the most common forms of divination during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, prior to the rise of the Tarot and cartomancy in general.

Finding what works for you

In case it isn’t obvious, even in this long post I haven’t covered all of the types of questions you’re likely to encounter. For instance, I didn’t even touch upon “who” or “how” or “why.” Whenever you’re experimenting with a system, you’ll want to throw all of these kinds of questions (and more) against the wall and see what “sticks.”

As I wrote way back at the beginning of this overly-long post, don’t go looking for one system which will fit every situation. In my opinion, such a system just doesn’t exist.

Instead, you should study and experiment with several different methods of divination, and learn not only how each of them works, but also which kinds of questions or situations they’re best suited to. You should also consider whether or not you personally resonate with a system.

Some people just don’t like the Tarot. Other people find astrology too complex and confusing. These methods work very well for me, but they’re not for everyone.

Good luck on your search!

The astrological meanings of the planets

When people begin to learn about astrology, they often start by studying the signs of the zodiac. There’s nothing particularly wrong about this approach, but I think there’s a better way. Specifically, I think it’s better to begin by looking at the planets.

When an astrologer looks at a chart, they almost always begin by taking note of the rising sign, but from then on it’s pretty much the planets’ show. Which planets rule which houses, where those planets are in the chart, and which aspects they make to each other are all of crucial importance. In fact, these three basic relationships (what a planet rules, where it is, and which aspects it forms) constitute about ninety percent of the information an astrologer needs to make their interpretations.

Because the planets sometimes get short shrift, let’s take a look at them now. I’ll cover each of their basic significations, where they tend to be stronger or weaker in influence, and how we usually experience their effects in our daily lives.

This won’t be a comprehensive guide to absolutely everything you can know about the planets, but I will try to cover enough ground help you find your feet.

One caveat, though: I generally stick to the seven traditional planets. I don’t exactly ignore the “modern” ones, but I don’t assign them signs to rule, nor do I put especial emphasis on them in an individual’s chart. I’ll cover some of their significations and meanings in their proper place, but you might want to follow up this post with some additional reading if you’re really into learning about them in detail.

The Moon

In astrology, the Moon primarily signifies change, inconstancy, and variability. This is due partly to the speed at which it moves in the heavens, but it’s also because of the Moon’s changing phases. The phases of the Moon are often tied to ideas of birth, life, death, and rebirth. As such, in traditional astrology it is usually connected with ideas about the physical body.

You’ll also find the Moon linked to ideas about emotions, because we tend to experience our feelings as ebbing and flowing rather like the tides of the ocean. And because of its obvious connection with water, the Moon is said to govern those who fish, as well as those who sail.

There’s an unavoidable “gendered” component to the Moon found in most of the traditional literature, which connects to the Moon to midwives, nurses, and “all manner of Women.” Take this or leave this as you will.

People with a strong affinity for the Moon are often perceived as being “soft” or “tender.” They enjoy newness, sometimes to the point of seeming to flit from one thing or interest to another. They usually focus on either the here and now, or else seek comfort and peace in the present, perhaps at the expense of planning for the future.

In magic, the Moon often serves as one of the major “timing devices” for rituals or enchantments It’s phase, the sign it is in, and its overall condition are very important considerations for astrologers and magicians when it comes to choosing dates and times at which to work. For instance, it is commonly thought that the waxing Moon is good for bringing new things into existence, while the waning Moon is good for letting things go or sending them away.

The Moon rules the sign of Cancer, and is exalted in the sign of Taurus. It has its detriment in the sign of Capricorn, and its fall in the sign of Scorpio.

Mercury

If you observe Mercury closely throughout the year, you’ll notice that this planet not only moves very quickly, but it also changes direction more often than any other planet. Because of this, the astrological meanings of Mercury are bound up in the ideas of speed, athleticism, and the mental equivalent of these: cleverness and wit.

Communication, education, language, and debate are all significations of Mercury. Teachers, scientists, and even astrologers are all counted among the professions which Mercury governs. You’ll also find trade, commerce, and money connected to the planet Mercury (hence the words mercantile and merchant). Of Mercury’s “less savory” significations, you’ll find tricksters, con artists, and thieves.

In our modern age, Mercury is often seen as intricately woven into our electronics, particularly those electronic devices we use for communication. This is why few astrologers are surprised when their computers go on the fritz as Mercury turns retrograde. In a similar vein, Mercury is connected to transportation, especially that sort used for short-distance or daily travel, such as the car you drive to work.

Mercury rules the signs of Gemini and Virgo, and it is also said to be exalted in the sign of Virgo. It has its detriment in the sign of Sagittarius, and its detriment and fall in Pisces.

Venus

“She is of a bright shining colour, and is well known amongst the vulgar by the name of the evening Star of Hesperus; and that is when she appears after the Sun is set: common people call her the morning Star, and the learned Lucifer, when she is seen long before the rising of the Sun.”

This quote from the astrologer William Lilly best describes the dual nature of Venus, as the planet is considered in traditional astrology. Venus is usually seen as the planet most closely associated with love, merriment, and all things beautiful. That said, Venus is also associated with the excesses of these. Love gives way to lust, merriment is replaced by disrepute and lewdness, and beauty becomes vanity and pride—this latter being the cause of Lucifer’s fall.

In terms of activities and professions, Venus is associated with artists, jewelers, actors, and makers of all fine and high-quality things with aesthetic value. It rules over love matters, but also friendly relationships in a more general sense. Marriage is another obvious connection, which is why most astrologers like to see Venus well-situated in a chart when they’re using electional astrology to plan the time of a wedding.

Venus rules the signs of Taurus and Libra, has its detriment in the signs of Aries and Scorpio, and has its fall in Virgo.

The Sun

Because “Sun Sign Astrology” became so popular during the last century, people tend to put a bit more emphasis on the Sun than they should. This isn’t to say that the Sun isn’t important—quite the opposite—but rather it shouldn’t be seen as so important that we ignore the other planets.

In traditional astrology, the Sun is in the middle of the planetary scheme, and it is identified with many Solar gods such as Apollo and Osiris. It is associated with kings, emperors, and other nobles. Officers of the court are also under the Sun’s rulership.

The Sun is associated with honor, distinction, and magnificence. It’s also associated with arrogance, pride, and domineering behavior. It’s where we “shine brightest,” but it can also cause a desire in us to outshine everyone else.

In practical terms, many of today’s astrologers think of the Sun as being connected to the “ego,” or otherwise indicative of someone’s basically personality or attitude. More broadly, where the Sun is located in your chart can indicate the approach to life which you tend to “lean into.”

The Sun rules the sign of Leo, is exalted in Aries, and has its detriment in the sign of Aquarius. Its fall is in Libra.

Mars

The planet Mars is most commonly associated with war, violence, separation, and conflict. In more “polite” terms, Mars is the planet of energy and action, especially action taken in haste. As a result, it’s usually viewed as one of the more challenging planets in a chart. This is fair, to an extent, but Mars has its constructive side, too.

Mars may rule over conflict and separation, but sometimes conflict is necessary. When there are things in your life which you know you should let go of, Mars is there to cut the ties that bind you to it. Speaking of cutting, Mars also rules over surgery, barbers, and even chefs. Wherever you see fire and knives, Mars is there.

Courage, passion, and the willingness to fight no matter the odds are all very Martial traits. Sometimes these are good things to embrace, and sometimes not.

Mars rules the signs of Aries and Scorpio, and it’s exalted in Capricorn. It has its detriment in the signs of Libra and Taurus, and its fall in Cancer.

Jupiter

In astrology, the planet Jupiter is often called the “Greater Benefic,” and most people tend to experience it in a very positive way. Jupiter represents those things and people which are faithful, ambitious (in an honorable way), and of benefit to all persons. Charity and goodwill, abundance as well as prudence are also common significations.

Jupiter is the planet of good fortune, justice, and it is sometime considered the planet most likely to bring one luck.

That said, Jupiter does have its downsides. As with all good things, too much of them can cause trouble. Charity can become overspending or overextending oneself. Ideas of “justice” can become tyrannical, or lead to someone adopting standards which are impossible to meet. Have you ever seen someone utterly condemn an otherwise “good person” because they held one, single, “wrong” opinion? That’s Jupiter as its worst.

Judges, lawyers, politicians, priests, and scholars of higher learning are all associated with Jupiter.

The planet Jupiter rules the signs of Sagittarius and Pisces, and is exalted in the sign of Cancer. Jupiter has its detriment in the signs of Gemini and Virgo, and its fall in Capricorn.

Saturn

The planet Saturn is sometimes called the “Greater Malefic,” and while it can be constructive, it is usually experienced in challenging or inconvenient ways.

Of the seven traditional planets, Saturn moves the slowest, and so it’s associated with all things sluggish and difficult to move or move past. In a nutshell, Saturn is the planet which says “No.” It’s the planet of limitations and barriers.

It is associated with death, austerity, suspicion, and old age. Typical professions linked with Saturn include miners, grave diggers, and plumbers. If it’s dark and underground, chances are good that Saturn is involved.

On the positive side, Saturn’s limits aren’t always a bad thing. Structure and boundaries can be very important, both for individuals and for society as a whole. We might not be delighted when we run up against such obstacles, but life would be very hard to manage without at least some organization or structure.

Saturn rules the signs of Capricorn and Aquarius, and it has its exaltation in the sign of Libra. It has its detriment in the signs of Leo and Cancer, and its fall in Aries.

Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto

As someone who leans pretty heavily on traditional astrology, I don’t spend a lot of time with the so-called “modern” planets: Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. I definitely see a role for them in the context of mundane astrology (the branch of astrology concerned with predicting world events), but I rarely have a need to look them when looking at an individual person’s natal chart, or doing an election.

In particular, I don’t consider these planets to have any rulership over the signs, nor do I see them as being in exaltation, detriment, or fall anywhere in the zodiac. This is my own opinion, though, and it’s not one which is shared by every astrologer.

Still, it’s worth considering their accepted significations, if for no other reason than it will help you to better understand how some other astrologers (particularly modern astrologers) incorporate them into their practice.

Uranus is usually thought to signify large shifts in thinking. New scientific and social breakthroughs—usually experienced with a sudden or even “violent” energy—are the norm for this planet. The word “iconoclast,” meaning “one who attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional or popular ideas or institutions” is a very fitting word for Uranus.

Neptune is the planet of illusions, glamours, and dreams. “Abstract thinking” is sometimes attributed to this planet, along with the products of that thought: unconventional art forms, trances, and certain kinds of meditation. Planets making tight aspects to Neptune sometimes see their energy not exactly dissipated, but rather directed toward ends or situations which aren’t quite “real” in the sense that we usually mean that word.

In most of the modern astrological literature about Pluto, the planet is seen as something of a “cosmic wrecking ball.” Like Uranus, it’s broadly disruptive, but whereas Uranus disrupts things by replacing them with something new, Pluto simply ends them. It is frequently said to rule over destruction in general, as well as death. Less hostile takes on Pluto tend to connect it with ideas about transformation, rebirth, or regeneration.

Going forward

As I wrote way back at the beginning, this post isn’t meant to cover absolutely everything there is to know about each of the planets. Instead, think of these descriptions as starting points, or as a simple “life line” to help you pull yourself along as you continue learning, or start to become overwhelmed by their myriad significations.

There’s a lot to learn about astrology, and keeping the planets first and foremost in your mind will help you greatly in your studies.

Astrology, communication, and ways of thinking

This past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about communication, how I relate to others, and especially how to avoid getting into unproductive or disastrous arguments.

So, like any good astrologer, I’ve been looking at what my chart has to say about all of this.

I’m a pretty typical Aries when it comes to patience and persistence. Considering that I have my Sun, Mercury, and Venus all up in that sign—with Leo as my rising sign—this makes sense. I dive into new things with reckless abandon, obsessively engage them with all of my energy, then collapse in exhaustion.

One way this manifests is in how I communicate with others, particularly when tensions rise and conversations turn into arguments. It’s taken me most of my life to learn that I don’t have to die on every hill, or turn every disagreement into an all-or-nothing situation.

When I’m in an argument or disagreement, I tend to focus my energy on “logic-ing” my way through it, and getting the other person to see things my way. Sometimes this works, but usually it just leaves everyone frustrated and angry.

You see, more often than not, arguments between people who are close are best settled when those involved can acknowledge and validate each other’s feelings. This doesn’t mean you should just abandon logic or reason entirely, but rather that instead of spending all of your time saying “I’m right,” you should also be able to tell them “I see you.”

That’s easier said than done, though, especially if you and the other person don’t think or communicate in the same way. Fortunately, astrology can give us some insight here. This won’t be a “deep dive” into everything a chart can tell you about ways of thinking and communication styles, but it should give you more than a few insights, especially if you haven’t looked into these traits before.

Mercury and the Moon

Broadly speaking, how a person tends to think and communicate is most easily seen by looking at where Mercury and the Moon are found in their chart. As usual, we look first to how essentially dignified or debilitated these planets are.

If Mercury is essentially dignified, it tends toward straight-forward thinking, rational observation, and clear communication. There’s cleverness, but it’s more the “honest” variety—the ability to think around corners, and to communicate in a way that is best received by the audience. If Mercury is peregrine or essentially debilitated, the person’s thinking can became less linear, less rigorous, and sometimes leans toward dishonesty.

To be clear, this is a bird’s eye view of one planet observed in isolation. Don’t put too much stock in this general interpretation. Just keep it in mind.

The Moon, on the other hand, is not about rationality or reasoning at an intellectual level. Instead, it’s about instincts and emotional reasoning. It’s how we respond to situations “without thinking.”

When the Moon is essentially dignified, this usually indicates a person who tends to have a positive experience of their emotions. There’s usually an ease or flexibility to their emotional responses, often with an underpinning of kindness. With a peregrine or essentially debilitated Moon, the person may feel more “afflicted” by their emotions rather than “affected” by them.

Now, which of these two planets is most influential in a person’s thinking and communication is best answered by seeing which of them is the most accidentally dignified.

For instance, if Mercury is in an angular house, with the Moon tucked away in a cadent one, the person will usually operate more at the “intellectual” level. On the other hand, if the Moon is in an angle with Mercury in a cadent house, the person likely favors “emotional” reasoning and communicating “from the heart.”

Another piece of the puzzle is whether or not Mercury and the Moon are aspecting each other, and which sort of aspect it is. Easy and flowing aspects such as the trine and sextile mean that the person’s emotional and intellectual minds tend to work well together.

Difficult aspects such as the square or opposition (or no aspect at all), usually implies a struggle between these two modes of thinking and communicating. In such cases, the stronger planet will tend to win out, whether that strength comes from accidental dignities, or if one planet is placed in the essential dignities of the other.

Again, these are just the most basic of considerations, but this is a decent enough starting point to begin understanding how two people will think and communicate when misunderstandings arise.

A Personal Anecdote

Last week, I had an extremely unpleasant interaction with someone close to me. At the risk of being one of those astrologers (one who talks about their own chart all the time), let’s take a peak at a few of my placements and how they compare with the other person’s.

My Moon sits alone in Virgo, and I’ve already noted my Mercury is in Aries with my Sun and Venus. In their respective degrees, both Mercury and the Moon are peregrine, but neither has any other essential debilities. As for accidental dignities, my Mercury sits in an angle, while my Moon is chilling in a cadent house.

And, of course, with the Moon being ruled by Mercury here, it’s not hard to see that I tend to logic my way through things, but it’s not always easy. Also? There is no aspect between my Mercury and Moon, meaning the connection between my intellectual side and emotional side isn’t the greatest. Most obviously, this means I’m frequently caught unaware when my emotions get all up in my business.

As for the person I was trying (and failing) to communicate with, they also have their Moon in Virgo, but it’s not alone. Venus is in that sign, and this person’s Mercury is in Libra with a stellium of other planets.

In the degrees where the Moon and Mercury sit in this person’s chart, both planets are essentially dignified. However, the Moon is in a succeedent house while Mercury is in a cadent one. This means emotional reasoning tends to win out more often than not. Oh, and once again, we have no aspect between Mercury and the Moon.

One last thing to note here is that with so much Venus and Libra going on in this person’s chart, compared with my Mars and Aries, we definitely don’t come at situations in the same way in general. Getting on the same page as this other person can be a challenge. When we do have a meeting of the minds, it’s awesome.

It’s just not always easy to do that.

There are other chart dynamics at work, but the crux of the matter is whenever we disagree, I spend far too much time trying to convince this person that I’m right. What I should be doing is listening to them, understanding and validating how they feel, and trying to relate to them on a more emotional level.

This doesn’t mean setting my own needs or expectations aside, but I need to be willing and able to “yield the floor,” and allow this person to express how they feel. And then I really need to work at understanding and validating those feelings, as well as trying to see how my own emotional state might be affecting me.

Once we’ve connected on an emotional level, that’s where we can start to find common ground and bring Mercury into the picture. But until that connection is made, there’s a very real risk of things just spiraling out of control as an immovable object meets an unstoppable force.

Putting Everything Together

So what should you take from this rambling little tract? Well, if you haven’t done so already, take a look at your chart and see where Mercury and the Moon are sitting for you. Are they in aspect to each other? Is one stronger than the other?

Look also to the elements and primary qualities which your Moon and Mercury signs are affiliated with, as well as their rulers, and which other planets the Moon and Mercury are making close aspects to. You’ll likely find a lot of nuance there, and more keys to turn as you try to unlock your thinking and communication style.

Once you’ve looked at your chart, compare it with how you approach challenging or tense conversations with others. You’ll usually find it’s a pretty close match.

After you’ve gotten a good handle on your own chart and experiences, look at whatever charts you may have for the people closest to you in life. Consider how you both respond when you fall into a disagreement, and see whether or not a match can’t be found there as well.

One thing I should probably point out before closing out this post is that there is no one right way to think or communicate. Don’t make the mistake of comparing charts with the idea that one set of placements is “better” than another. The key takeaway from all of this shouldn’t be to create differences where there aren’t any, but rather to understand where differences already exist, and how to best address them.

Always try to be aware of your own blind spots, to the best of your ability anyway. For me, this means I need to recognize when the other person is looking for emotional understanding and connection, and to slap down my jerking Mercury when I see it.

And maybe one of these days, I’ll figure out how to do that.

Let’s make friends (or, basil and beyond)

I’ve been thinking about the word “community” a lot lately. What community means to me, how communities are formed and grow, and how each of us relate to the communities we find ourselves in.

It’s a big word, which describes our personal corner of the big world. Siblings, cousins, neighbors—if you’re astrologically-minded, you might notice that these keywords are connected to the third house. Indeed, the third house is probably best described as the House of Community.

Messages, short journeys, early education—these are also intrinsic parts of community.

We connect with our community through communication (and note the similarity of those words). Our daily rounds take us through our community, whether for work or play. And what is our earliest form of education? Learning to socialize. Pediatricians in the United States appear universally convinced that teaching children good social skills is critical, especially during the brain’s early development.

So let’s lean into this concept of “community” and see if we can’t do a little magic. Maybe we can try some herbal magic this time.

Magic and herbalism have gone hand in hand for thousands of years. The idea of using of “plant allies” to get things done is found in traditions all over the globe, and the Western magical tradition is no exception. Modern, Medieval, and Renaissance grimoires are full of lists of herbs for all that ails you, and although some of them can be expensive or hard to find, a very good one for this “community” theme is probably sitting in your kitchen cupboard.

Basil: it’s not just for pesto

Basil has been used in religious and magical rituals for thousands of years, and can be found just about everywhere these days. Its culinary uses are legion, but it’s also a very good herb for relationships: forming them, fixing them, and dealing with them when they aren’t meant to be.

Look through any book on magical herbalism, or do a Google search, and you’ll see this property of basil mentioned over and over again. Whether it’s the plant’s attractive, sweet smell; its welcoming, vibrant green color; or its unusual resistance to “pests,” it seems obvious that this particular plant will be particularly good for “community” work.

Grow some

Never underestimate the power of keeping plant allies in and around your home. If you have the window space or a suitable yard, consider growing some basil. Living basil kept in or around your home encourages meaningful, positive relationships which generate little friction. It can also help “keep the pests away,” if you need that sort of thing.

Whenever you grow a plant, from seed or seedling, you’re building a relationship with it. You offer it nutrient-rich soil, water, and daily companionship. In exchange, it offers you its culinary, medicinal, and magical gifts—not to mention its friendship.

Growing your own plant allies is hands-down the easiest way to get to know them.

Buy some

If your gardening chops aren’t up to snuff, or you simply don’t have the space to grow a plant, hit up the spice rack of your neighborhood grocery store. The dried basil they sell in jars is fine.

You might do well to keep the jar on your altar for a while, make some offerings to it, and show some respect to the spirit of the plant before trying to get up to any magic with it.

I mean, let’s face it, it’s sort of rude to ask a total stranger for a favor.

The home

Community starts with your home and those living within it. Whether these people are friends, relatives, or roommates, cultivating good relationships with those you live with seems like a good first step. And the simplest way to use basil in this regard is to cook a meal with it.

Food is powerful magic, and the sharing of food is one of the hallmarks of community. Throw together some pasta and sauce, using and thanking some of the basil you’ve either grown or bought. Invite everyone and enjoy a friendly meal together.

A pinch of dried basil placed discretely in each corner of your home or apartment (or in each corner of every room) is another common way of smoothing out tensions, mellowing everyone, and keeping “pests” away. And if this latter is a significant issue, a good pinch of basil scattered on the welcome mat outside helps make sure that only those things which actually are welcome come in.

The neighborhood and beyond

Basil scattered about the four corners of your block, or at the nearest crossroads can help cultivate good relationships with and between your neighbors. You can also toss a bit of it around your neighbors’ yards, though that might look a little weird if you’re caught.

Another way to spread some “basil cheer” is to write a few greeting cards or short, friendly notes to friends and neighbors in your community. After you’ve composed them, burn a little basil as incense and pass the cards through the smoke. You don’t want to get carried away with this, otherwise the card might smell like a pizzeria. Just a little will do ya.

(As an aside, in case it isn’t obvious, sending cards and small gifts to friends and neighbors through the mail is, on its own, an excellent way to cultivate strong relationships. It’s a fading practice we’d all do well to revive.)

There are endless possibilities for the use of basil in forming and strengthening communities, and I encourage you again to do some digging for other ways to work with this plant. It’s an ally which seems to absolutely love meeting and working with new people, which shouldn’t be surprising given what it’s so very good at.

The ship that you sail in

In Western astrology, the first house is the most important House. It’s the house where your Ascendant is found, and the planet which rules your first house is often called your “chart ruler.” It marks the hour of your birth, and determines the placement of every other house in your chart. It represents you as an individual, and it sets the stage for all of the other elements in your life.

Your motivations, your objectives, and the overall course of your life are all signified either by the planets in your first house, or by the planet which rules it. Some astrologers have even said that the first house determines your physical appearance, right down to your height.

Perhaps more interesting, though, is that your first house is also sometimes called “the ship that you sail in.”

This idea of your body or your “self” as a sea-faring vessel is an old one, with nautical comparisons stretching back at least as far as Hellenistic times. One of the titles for this house in Greek can be translated as “helm.”

You can also see this “self as boat, life as ocean” metaphor outside of astrology. You might have heard about the “Breton Fisherman’s Prayer,” which United States President John F. Kennedy had on a plaque which he kept on his desk in the Oval Office.

“Oh God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.”

It’s a powerful image for a powerful metaphor, and one worth exploring with a bit of meditation.

The Captain at Sea Meditation

This meditation is designed to realize and use this nautical connection between yourself and a ship at sea. It is very easy to follow, and should only take a few minutes to get into. Once you’ve become familiar with it, though, it can be a powerful tool for navigating life’s many storms.

To get started, find a relatively quiet, comfortable place to sit or lay down. You should feel at ease, with your back straight, but otherwise there are no real requirements for your posture. Just make sure that when you breathe, you are able to completely fill and empty your lungs. Slouching can make that difficult. If you want to listen to some sort of “white noise” or other audio, a good idea might be a track containing sounds of the ocean. It’s not strictly necessary, though.

Once you’re comfortable, and are sure you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes, you can begin.

Close your eyes and take a long, slow, deep breath. Then, exhale, long and slow, letting your body relax.

Do this again, taking in another slow, deep breath and letting it out. As you exhale, feel the tension leave your muscles.

Pay particular attention to the muscles of your face. Let the area around your eyes relax. Feel the tension around your cheeks and your jaw release.

Keep breathing and keep feeling more and more relaxed. Your neck muscles are becoming looser, your shoulders are easing down, your arms are heavy and soft like clay.

Breathe in, slowly and deeply. Exhale, slowly and fully. Until your entire body is fully relaxed, heavy, and at ease.

Let yourself breathe normally, now. Calm, relaxing breaths. And focus on the sensation it gives you. The rising sensation as you inhale, the falling sensation as you exhale. Breathing in, breathing out. Let the gentle rising and falling of your breath become the gentle rising and falling of your body.

Feel this sensation for a minute or two, this rising and falling, then allow your mind’s eye to take in your surroundings.

Fading in, you begin to see details. Wood, ropes, masts, and sails.

You are standing on the deck of a tall ship—a first rate ship of the line, of the sort which ruled the seas during the age of sail. Masts that were the trunks of tall, straight trees stand against the sky, immense sails which catch the wind suspended and stretched upon them. A sturdy hull and decks which have born uncountable sailors, and weathered hurricanes of untold force, lay beneath your feet.

Look all around you at the ship, its rigging, and its crew. You are the captain here, ruler of this vessel upon the sea, and all that you survey is for you, and answers to you alone.

Stand here for a while, feeling the gentle rise and fall of this ship, the ship in which you sail, and let its every detail become fixed in your mind.

The wheel, the rudder, the sails and rigging. What sort of flag are you flying? What sort of figurehead is on the bow

What is your ship’s name?

Who are the crew? What do they look like? What are their names? Which responsibilities does each one have? Who swabs the deck? Who repairs the sails? Who is your “first mate?”

You are only just now realizing this ship exists, so don’t worry if you can’t get every detail this time. You can always return again. Now that you know it’s here, you can see the ship whenever you want. And you can always choose to return from it when you want, confident that both the ship and its crew will carry out your orders and intentions just as you command.

Remember, though, that each member of your crew possesses their own wisdom. They each have their own set of skills and their own experiences, which may, of course, be your own experiences and wisdom, just seen in their proper perspective—or perhaps they are more.

Your first mate has been at sea for a long time, and could tell you many tales and give you excellent advice.

Your navigator knows the sea well, and can read any chart or map.

In your captain’s quarters are your ship’s logs, diaries, and many secrets. Maps to buried treasure? Letters from lost loved ones? Powerful artifacts found and collected on your previous journeys?

The ship is yours.

The ship is you.

It holds everything you need and only what you wish.

After you have explored, begin to more deeply feel that gentle rising and falling of the sea.

The details of the ship begin to slowly fade as you begin to realize that rising and falling is the rising and falling of your breath.

Slowly, taking as much time as you need, allow yourself to come back to that comfortable, quiet place where you started your journey. Breathe in, breathe out, slowly and deeply. Feel yourself return to your body, still fully relaxed and at peace.

Do not rush, but only once you a ready, open your eyes.

Using this meditation

I really enjoy this meditation and find it immensely useful when I feel myself “adrift” or “battered by storms.”

If you find yourself feeling “stuck” or without energy or motivation, slip on board and take stock of the situation. Are your sails tattered? Is the rigging failing? Has your ship sailed into a “dead calm?” Talk to your first mate and get the crew moving.

Feeling overwhelmed by a dozen different tasks hitting you all at once? Batten down the hatches, get together with your navigator, and come up with a fresh course to see you through.

Unsure what to do, or looking for a bit of inspiration or advice? Retire to your captain’s quarters and read over some “letters from home,” or maybe take a look through all those chests and crates you’ve been collecting down in the hold. Maybe there’s a strange idol that could use some investigating.

The sea may be great, and your ship may be small, but once you get to know it and its crew, it’ll take you anywhere.

Forward marching through Mercury retrograde

So, how am I spending this Mercury retrograde? Well, in no particular order…

Mercury goes zoom.
  • I’ve been updating this site and getting its related nuts and bolts working as they should. I’d hoped to get to this project before the retrograde, but life and other projects got in the way.
  • I had two large writing tasks to take care of, which each involved around thirty thousand words.
  • It looks like one of those projects is going to be cancelled, or at the very least so thoroughly re-imagined that I’ll have to re-write basically all of it.
  • For reasons best left unexamined, I need to get my old laptop back in working condition for someone to use as a temporary system.
  • And wouldn’t you know it, the laptop decided it didn’t know what a “wireless network adapter” was, nor was it having any of the dozen or so different drivers I downloaded from the manufacturer’s site and sneaker-netted over to the machine on a thumb drive.
  • I ultimately had to go online and order a ten-dollar, USB wi-fi adapter to get it connected to the network and start doing updates.
  • There were years worth of updates, by the way, since the only legit copy of Windows I had to spare was a DVD of Windows 8.1 which I think I bought four years ago.
  • Oh, and I had to download and run the “Windows Update Troubleshooter” from Microsoft before the machine would even do the updates, because otherwise it just sat there for half an hour “checking for updates” until giving up and telling me there were none to be had.
  • That fixed, the laptop has been sitting on my kitchen counter, downloading and installing updates for about sixteen hours, and it’s still going.
  • Oh, and yesterday my father asked if I could do a wipe and reset of his old laptop, so he can give it to a friend who also suddenly needs a temporary machine.

Right now, the astro-weather is pretty terrible in general, and Mercury-type stuff in particular is more likely to go off the rails than to go smoothly. And yet, here I am, tweaking websites, moving projects along, and setting up computers. Why? Am I just bad at making decisions?

Yes. Yes I am. But there’s also an underlying logic to just parking my butt in the chair and force-marching my way through this stuff.

Ultimately, no matter what the astrology has to say about it, you have to live your life.

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about how electional astrology was theoretically about planning ahead, but usually comes down to making the best out of a bad situation.

Did I want to be doing all of this stuff right now? Not even a little bit. But what else can you do when the work comes to your door demanding to be done, or friends and family come knocking with their computer problems?

You can’t always say no, nor should you.

It basically comes down to acceptance, at that point. You do the work, knowing that things aren’t likely to go as planned, but that sooner or later you’ll get through it. A Mercury retrograde is almost always more annoying than disastrous, especially if you know it’s coming, and you can give yourself extra-time to deal with the inevitable delays and reversals.

What would be disastrous, though, is getting stuck in an endless waiting game. Waiting for the astro-weather to clear up, waiting for that “perfect” chart or transit, waiting, waiting, waiting…

Anyway, what do you think of the site’s new look?

Under the beams, combustion, and cazimi

If you’ve been looking into astrology, you might have seen the terms “under the beams,” “combust,” and “cazimi” floating around. In this post, I’m going to go over the basics of what these mean, as well as a couple of finer points which don’t always come up as often as I think they should.

The bottom line? It all comes down to visibility.

Increasing and decreasing in light

How easily a planet can be seen with the naked eye is an important consideration in traditional astrology, and a planet’s visibility is directly related to how close that planet is to the Sun.

As a planet moves toward the Sun, it is said to be “decreasing in light,” and it’s thought to become weaker. The planet becomes more restricted, and slowly loses its power to act. A planet has the least amount of light when it is exactly conjunct the Sun.

As a planet moves away from the Sun, however, the planet is said to “increase in light.” This is considered empowering for the planet, making it stronger, and thereby giving it more power to act. A planet has the most light when it opposes the Sun, and is therefore as far away from it as possible.

Just how strengthening or weakening this increase and decrease in light depends on how close the Sun and the planet in question are. Once they get to within about seventeen degrees of each other, though, the planet’s loss of light becomes especially significant.

Under the beams

When a planet gets to within about seventeen degrees of the Sun, the Sun’s glare begins to obscure the planet’s light. When a planet is within this glare, it is said to be “under the beams,” and significantly weakened. It has to really struggle in order to express its significations.

Think of the planet like it’s a movie you’re trying to watch on Netflix, while the Sun’s “beams” in this analogy is everyone else in your house also trying to stream something. As the other network traffic grows, it starts to swamp your connection, and the movie you’re watching will begin to drop in quality.

That’s what it’s like for a planet which is under the beams. It’s still the same movie, but you’re obviously not getting the full experience.

Combustion

When a planet gets to within about eight degrees of the Sun, the situation gets even worse. In this case, the planet is said to be “combust.”

This is your movie buffering…buffering…then timing out completely.

Combustion is considered so bad that several traditional sources say that not only is the planet’s light “obscured,” but that the planet is effectively destroyed by the Sun’s light and heat. In traditional, Western astrology it’s just about the worst case scenario for a planet.

Still, exactly how combustion affects a planet depends on that planet’s nature. A planet with a “moist” nature, such as Venus, firmly falls into that “destroyed” category. It’s severely weakened by the Sun’s excessive heat and its drying nature.

A planet like Mars? Well, Mars is already quite hot and dry. Since combustion adds to this heat and dryness, it can sometimes exacerbate Mars’s natural hostility. Mars still won’t have very much power to act (remember, visibility is a thing), but when it does act, watch out.

Now, the planet Mercury is something of a special case with respect to all of this. According to some authors, Mercury generally possesses a hot and dry nature because it’s never very far from the Sun. And because of its rapid movement—which frequently changes direction—Mercury is considered a much more “flexible” or “adaptable” planet.

So when Mercury is under the beams or combust, it doesn’t tend to suffer like other planets do. Rather, a combust Mercury is usually linked to a “loss of objectivity.” That is, because it’s in the Sun’s glare, it not only can’t be seen, it tends to lose its own ability to see things, particularly other points of view.

Personally, I find that if Mercury plays a dominant role in your natal chart, combustion can sometimes feel a little bit like a retrograde. As it enters combustion, Mercury stuff can be slightly delayed or interrupted. As it leaves combustion, though, those delays or interruptions usually resolve themselves pretty quickly.

Cazimi

There’s another piece to the combustion story we need to cover, and that’s when a planet makes an exact conjunction with the Sun. In traditional astrology, this is considered a special case and not a debility at all. Instead, the planet is said to be “in the Sun’s heart,” and it’s greatly strengthened.

This condition is called “cazimi,” and most astrologers say it begins to apply when a planet is within about seventeen minutes of the Sun. Several sources I’ve read compare a planet in cazimi to a noble being propped up and aided directly by a powerful king. It’s a very strong dignity which gives the planet significantly more power to act than usual, at least in theory.

Other considerations like the planet’s speed and direction do factor in, but cazimi’s no joke. It’s like Netflix coming to your house to install a fiber-optic connection exclusively so you can stream the movie you wanted to see.

Chariot

Finally, we come to the last piece of the puzzle: “Chariot.”

If a planet is in a sign that it rules when its conjunction with the Sun takes place, it’s said to be much less affected by being under the beams or combust. The planet is on its home turf, so it has the strength to resist the Sun’s influence.

In this situation, the planet is said to be “in its chariot,” which makes sense if you picture a chariot with a large canopy built to provide shade to the driver.

Want another streaming analogy? “Chariot” is you jumping into your internet router’s settings and giving your own connection top priority, because this is your house, dang it, and Catwoman deserves better than 144p!

Now, different astrologers have different opinions as to what extent chariot mitigates the Sun’s effects. It also touches on another “touchy” issue: what if the Sun and the planet in question aren’t in the same sign?

For instance, if Jupiter is at twenty-nine degrees of Pisces, and the Sun is at two degrees of Aries, they’re only three degrees apart and well within the range of combustion. Is Jupiter still considered to be in its chariot, since it has no power over the Sun in Aries? And does it even matter, since Jupiter and the Sun aren’t in the same sign? Do the Sun’s beams cross sign boundaries?

As I said, there are different opinions. Personally, I don’t consider a planet to be under the beams or combust unless it and the Sun are in the same sign. I also only give “partial credit” to a planet being in its chariot. I see it as mitigating the effects of the Sun somewhat, but the planet is still invisible, and so it still suffers some limitation.

Then again, this is just my own take on the matter. What do you think?

Electional astrology: take what you can get

Many years ago, myself and a couple of friends went to a table-top gaming convention hosted at a resort a few hours away. It was a nice place, though it was technically during the “off-season.”

This, of course, made it even nicer. The only other guests were fellow nerds, and the price for our suite was ridiculously low.

And by “suite,” I mean we were basically staying in what amounted to our own house. Multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, a full kitchen, dining room, and living room—it was lovely.

But something funny happened in our first hour there.

We’d arrived late, about six in the evening if I recall, so once we’d checked in and dropped our bags off in the room, we headed over to the hotel restaurant for dinner.

We placed our orders for I can’t remember what—though I was pretty big on fried calamari back then, so I’m guessing it involved some of that—and then we spent the next few minutes looking around and just being excited about what the weekend would bring.

The server, after taking our orders, left and returned with a basket of rolls. They were warm, soft, yet with a crisp crust. They looked and smelled amazing.

Then I noticed we didn’t have any butter.

The server had already taken off by that point, so I just made a general comment to my friends. Something along the lines of “I guess we have to eat dry bread.”

One of my friends started laughing.

“You sound like that cartoon dog, Droopy,” he said. “‘I guess we have to eat dry bread.‘”

I blinked, and my other friend starting laughing, too.

“Look at this place,” he went on. “We’re in a beautiful hotel, have the place all to ourselves, and we’re spending the weekend playing games. Like, we’re going to do literally nothing else but have fun, and you’re complaining about butter.”

What can I say? It’s a gift.

While I’m usually pretty happy, or can at least “fake it until I make it,” I’ve always been able to find the clouds around silver linings, even when there’s far more silver to be found. Whether I should blame my first house Saturn, or my Virgo Moon, I can always be counted on to find the one, tiny thing that’s less than perfect in any situation.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise when I tell you that I think electional astrology is the most frustrating thing ever.

Electional astrology?

You probably already know what electional astrology is, but just in case you don’t, it’s the branch of astrology commonly used to find “auspicious times” to do things.

The theory boils down to this: everything has a birth chart. Your trip to Tijuana? You can think of the moment you leave your house as the birth, or “inception” of your trip. And, according to the general theories of astrology, if you were to cast a chart for that moment, you can learn something about how your trip will go.

And if you accept that, it stands to reason that if you can choose your trip’s “birth” chart, you might be able to influence the outcome.

That’s electional astrology in a nutshell. You look ahead for times with “good” charts, and deliberately schedule important events for those times. Job interviews, making an offer on a house, or saying “I do” at your wedding, these are all things which people have used electional astrology to schedule.

But what does this have to do with dry bread?

What can you live with?

If there’s a Golden Rule for electional astrology it’s this…

There’s no such thing as a perfect chart.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been looking for a good electional chart, find what looks like a really great arrangement, get all excited, and then…

“Oh yeah, Mars is a thing. And it’s in Taurus, conjunct the mid-heaven.”

For someone who regularly channels Droopy Dog, finding good charts is excruciating. There’s always something “off” about every chart you do. You’ll get the ruler of the ascendant looking pretty, but then notice Saturn or Mars is squaring it. Or a planet is about to station retrograde. Or the Moon is void of course.

On and on it goes. And then you realize the real truth behind doing an election. That, when you get right down to it, electional astrology might ostensibly be about finding auspicious times, it’s at least as much about finding times which are less bad than others.

Basically, with every electional chart, you have to ask yourself: “What am I willing to live with?”

If you don’t cultivate an attitude of “I’ll take what I can get,” you’ll find yourself spinning the chart endlessly, looking for that “perfect” chart which doesn’t exist.

Think “inside out” when you can

So how does someone like me, with a tendency to…nit-pick, deal with this?

I try to think “inside out.”

Here’s what I mean.

First, I own and use an ephemeris. I also own a large assortment of colorful highlighters. Every month or so, I grab my ephemeris and highlighters, then go through the months ahead, marking up when each planet is in its domicile, detriment, exaltation, and fall. I use a different color for each, that way I can see at a glance when each planet is “behaving itself.”

This makes it so much easier to find good elections.

If I see Mercury is going to be in Virgo or Gemini in a few weeks, I know that if I go looking for a Mercurial-type election during that period, I’m more likely to find one. Mercury in Pisces? That’s going to be more challenging.

I also look for any periods of time where multiple planets are in their domicile or exaltation, and make a special note in the margin. If you have two or more planets sitting pretty, good electional charts tend to be a lot easier to find.

Next, I also keep a notebook in which I write various things I’d like to do or accomplish. These is more for “long-term plans” than it is for my “daily to-do list.”

Would I like to go on a trip? Do I need to order a new computer or buy a new car? These are the sorts of things which go in my notebook.

Finally, at the beginning of every month, I look ahead at my ephemeris, find the planets which look promising, and compare them with what I have written in my notebook. When I find a potential match, then I pull up my astrology software and start looking for specific charts.

That’s what I mean when I say think “inside out.” Rather than try to find a good election to fit my plans, I try to fit my plans around good elections.

You’ll find this is how a lot of professional astrologers do their elections. They don’t wait until they have to do something specific, but rather they look ahead to find good “windows of time” in general, and then mark them on their calendar for later use.

Learn to relax

When I say “try to fit your plans around good elections,” I don’t mean “rigorously plan your life around astrology to the exclusion of all other considerations.”

Nothing can turn you into a hyper-obsessive, anxiety-riddled basket case like electional astrology. Believe me, I know this from personal experience.

If you’re already prone to focusing on minor irritations or inconveniences (dry bread, anyone?), you’ll find that tendency cranked up to eleven once you start poring over charts.

That’s partly why I put so much emphasis on the “inside out” way of doing elections. The further ahead I can think about things, the more relaxed I am, and the easier it is for me to find and use good elections.

Unfortunately, sometimes things happen suddenly, or things need to happen suddenly. People get laid off without warning and have to find new jobs. Computers melt down and need to be replaced. Cars won’t start and need to be towed to a mechanic.

Even with the most careful, long-term planning, there will come situations when you need to do or start something important, and you don’t have a lot of time to play with.

In these cases, I sometimes still use electional astrology, but I also stick to a firm set of guidelines when I do. I think of these as “sanity savers.” They’re purely so I can avoid turning into a gibbering husk.

  1. I never elect anything for the same day. If I suddenly realize I have to do something, and it absolutely has to be done that day, I don’t even look at a chart. I just do it. Whatever benefit I might get from shifting the time a few hours is unlikely to outweigh the anxiety it will give me.
  2. I almost never elect anything for the same week. This is basically the same rule (for the same reason) as number one, but I’m much more loose about it. If I’m already really anxious about Doing the Thing, then I’ll skip the chart. If I’m pretty relaxed, I’ll take a peek.
  3. I pick a time frame and I stick to it. If I decide something has to be done by next week at the latest, I treat that deadline like it’s carved in stone. If I catch myself thinking “well, Mercury will look really good next month,” I close my astrology software and just do without an election.

Lastly, while it’s not really a rule, I have an “Election Fail-safe,” which I can always resort to. When all else fails, I get the malefics out of the way.

When every chart looks awful, and I feel my inner Droopy rising, I throw up my hands and just try to get Mars and Saturn out of the relevant house(s), and as far away from the angles as possible.

Will this give me an ideal chart? Unlikely. But it does mean I probably won’t have to deal with any overtly terrible stuff.

When push comes to shove, I’ll settle for “good enough.”

Let’s Recommend: “On the Heavenly Spheres”

It’s been a while since I wrote a recommendation post, so I figured why not break that streak with what I think is the best book on astrology you’re likely to find.

Photograph of the cover of "On the Heavenly Spheres" by Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro.

On the Heavenly Spheres by Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro is, as its subtitle says, a treatise on traditional astrology. Specifically, this is traditional, Western astrology which consists of techniques and concepts as practiced and understood in Europe from the Hellenistic era through the sixteen hundreds.

It’s the astrology of the middle ages and the renaissance. The stuff John Dee used to select the date of Elizabeth I’s coronation, and the stuff William Lilly wrote about in the first English-language textbook on astrology.

Simply put, it’s the heart and soul of Western astrology, and On the Heavenly Spheres does a fantastic job of presenting it. It includes traditional interpretations of the planets, signs, houses, and aspects just as you’d expect, but it also goes into incredible detail on a number of astrology’s finer points. Concepts such as sect, hayz, occidental and oriental planets, and countless others are introduced and explained in detail.

And it’s that level of detail which raises one of the two issues you might find with this book. At only around 270 pages, On the Heavenly Spheres is extremely “information dense.” Topics are introduced, discussed at length, then the authors move on assuming you have absorbed the material. This makes the book an invaluable resource, but it also might make it a little less friendly for the beginner.

Simply put, this book requires work. It demands to be read more than once, and you’ll likely find yourself referring back to it over and over again.

The second issue is less of a problem and more an intention. This is a book on traditional astrology, and the authors are both very clear on this, as well as very exclusionary of “modern” astrological contributions. The most obvious example of this is an appendix in the back of the book which criticizes the use of the outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

That may put some readers off, particularly if they’re coming from a purely modern background, but Avelar and Ribeiro’s arguments are worth reading.

And, at the end of the day, you’re ultimately free to take them or leave them.

No matter what your astrological background, though, I can’t recommend this book more highly. It absolutely belongs on the shelf of everyone who is serious about astrology.