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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”