Elections and the Art of Choosing Times | 2. Dorotheus on Asking Favors
In the first article of this series, we discussed the origins and fundamentals of electional astrology which find their root in Book V of the Carmen Astrologicum of Dorotheus (1st century CE). In this article, we find a natural transition point from general principles to specific topics. Chapter 15 (14 of Pingree trans.) of Book V pertains to asking for favors. This is one of the most general topics. For instance, maybe you want to ask your boss for a raise. You’ll want the circumstances to be favorable. For instance, for your boss to be in a generous mood.
Lord of the Moon Emphasis
In the passages on the general approach to elections I noted that there was no stress placed on the lord of the Ascendant. That was unusual considering its prominence in medieval elections. We did see that the lord of the Moon was important for outcome, and that there were some parallels between the role played by the Moon and that of the Ascendant. Perhaps the lord of the Ascendant should be important in a similar way to the lord the Moon. Dorotheus only emphasized the lord of the Moon for outcome. He neglected the lord of the Ascendant. This is pretty much the reverse of what we see in the later tradition.
Lord of the Ascendant Rising
Interestingly, in the matter of asking favors, the lord of the Ascendant does become an important factor. However, it is not emphasized in the same way as in later medieval elections. As seen below, there is a need to put the Moon either in the Ascendant or strongly linked with the lord of the Ascendant.
There are some other passages in Dorotheus where the lord of the Ascendant does appear to play something of a parallel role with the Moon though. For instance, in material on electing for journeys. The Ascendant and Moon both carry symbolism related to the physical self. Their lords would be considered more abstract, such as showing spirit guiding toward the result. The lord of the Ascendant would be considered to pertain more to the spirit of the person and their “direction”. Therefore, I think that the Ascendant has primary importance but that its lord is systematically emphasized when elections involve a need to strengthen the spirit and social sentiment, or the matter is that of a journey.
Ask for this when the Moon is in the ascendent or in quartile to the ascendent or in trine to it while the Moon is increasing in computation and in light or the lord of the ascendent is direct in [its] motion [and] not retrograde and is with the Moon in one sign and the Moon conjoins it. (Dorotheus, Book V, Ch. 14, Pingree trans., 2005, p. 271)
Again, as in the general principles, it is advised to put the Moon in the Ascendant. Additionally, it is advised to put the Moon in the Ascendant and have it waxing. This is exactly the opposite of what is advised by later Perso-Arabic authors. Saul specifically advised against putting the Moon in the Ascendant when she is waxing. Again, I feel that this advice not to put the Moon in the Ascendant is a corruption of original electional doctrine.
Here, we find that if we cannot put the Moon in the Ascendant then we should at least put her in a sign quartile or trine the Ascendant. The quartiles referred to are at least 2 of the other angles or “stakes”, of which the 10th house (i.e. 10th sign counted inclusively from the Ascendant) is the next strongest after the Ascendant (1st house), then the 7th, and then the 4th (though Dorotheus may not be including the 7th in this advice). The trines are the 5th and 9th places, but the 9th is expressly advised against in the introductory material if it is a mutable sign. Dorotheus also advised to have the Moon in her own house or regarding it.
Recap of Lunar Rules with Consideration of Asking a Favor
Make the Moon strong and waxing. Put her in the Ascendant if possible, if not then the 10th, 4th, 5th, or 9th (provided it is not mutable). If possible make the sign she is in one of long ascension, a fixed sign, and/or a sign of the sect in favor. Make sure she is not corrupted nor impeded by malefics. Have her fast and increasing in speed. Have the lord of the Ascendant direct and not stationing retrograde. Also, if possible put the Moon in the same sign as the lord of the Ascendant and conjoining it, especially if you can’t get the Moon in the Ascendant itself. Additionally, make sure the Moon is in her own place (Cancer) or regarding it (i.e. in whole sign aspect to it).
And it is preferable if the Moon is in her own house or looking at her own house, and Mercury is with Jupiter. Now if you sought the needed thing while Mercury is with Saturn or looking at him from a powerful place, then he will not have a good word put in [for him], nor will he get that needed thing. But if one seeks the needed thing when Mercury is with Venus and the seeking of it is before women, and it is something he rejoices in and is entertained by, then he will have a good word put in [for him] in that. (Dorotheus, V.15, Dykes trans., 2017, p. 247)
The idea here is that the planet Mercury associates with is important for the election of asking favors. The emphasis is not so much on making Mercury itself strong and prominent though as it was for natural significators in the general principles. Instead it is about making Mercury benefic.
The basic idea is that you want Mercury to be with (i.e. in the same sign as) a benefic or strongly connected to a benefic. Avoid having Mercury in the same place as a malefic or strongly connected to a malefic, especially Saturn. Dorotheus advised that it is great to have Mercury with Jupiter, but quite bad to have Mercury with Saturn or aspected by Saturn from a strong place. In requests made to women or involving pleasures or entertainment it is best to have Mercury with Venus.
Significator of the One Being Asked
Dorotheus ends the section by advising one to strengthen certain planets which signify the one that is being asked for the favor. For instance, one is to strengthen Jupiter if asking from leaders or nobles (or bosses?) and to make sure that Jupiter is not retrograde (stationing retrograde would be much worse in my opinion) nor afflicted by Saturn. Similarly, he advised to strengthen Mercury if making a request to a scientist, business person, or analyst. One should strengthen Saturn if making a request to an elderly person, an accused person, or a slave. This is fairly consistent with the general principles so it is assumed that we strengthen such a planet by putting it in a stake while free of the afflictions mentioned in the last article.
Below I summarize the most important points of electing to ask a favor in a way that is more easily adapted to the astrologer’s art. Also see Hephaistion Book III, Ch. 25 which is a briefer treatment of favors with similar guidelines.
- The Moon should be strong, waxing, fast, in one of the facilitating signs, and able to see her own sign (i.e. in whole sign aspect to Cancer).
- Mercury should be linked with benefics (same sign is best) rather than malefics, particularly with the benefic that pertains most to the type thing or the person being asked. Avoid the influence of Saturn on Mercury.
- Act when the Moon is prominent and linked with the Ascendant. The best is the Moon in the Ascendant, but also very good is the Moon conjoining the lord of the Ascendant in the same sign while angular.
- Act when the planet that is the best natural significator of the person being asked is strong (i.e. angular).
Best wishes and happy electing!
Dorotheus of Sidon, & al-Tabari, U. (2017). Carmen Astrologicum: The ’Umar al-Tabari Translation. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, Minn.,: The Cazimi Press.
Featured image of clock boy on the streets of Merida, Mexico (cropped) by malias [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Update 4/3/19: Edited and lightly revised for clarity.
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