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Agreement with the Nativity
The Bride & Groom
Marriage of Ted Turner & Jane Fonda
The MC & IC of the Wedding Chart
A one hour Marriage
The Marriage Moon
Marriage of Convenience
The Marriage Moon by Sign
The Ascendant in Marriage Charts
The Marriage Venus
Marriage of Princess Elizabeth
Marriage with 12 Children
Notes & References
About the Author


Marriage Elections, By Ken Gillman

When is the best time to get married? What are the astrological criteria that will ensure a happy marriage? I've been reviewing the advice of eight authorities on the subject, reviewing the astrological factors they say need to be taken into account when selecting a time that will ensure a happy and fertile marriage.[1]

My intent was to improve my own understanding of Electional Astrology and to evaluate the different traditions. Here I present a textual comparison of these sources, together with comments on five marriage charts, only one of which seems to have been astrologically elected.

[All quotes from the stated sources are given in italics. Anything else represents the author's own comments.]

Agreement with the Nativity

While there is general agreement that a study of the natal horoscopes of the two individuals is of paramount importance, that this should be done before anything else, my authorities say very little on this.

Johannes Schoener, writing in the 15th century, simply says: This matter [marriage] cannot properly be comprehended except according to the genitures of the married persons individually. Obviously, the proposed election should avoid those times when any natal afflictions are activated, while the likelihood that an individual will enjoy a happy marriage at some time during his or her life can depend very much on the strength of natal Venus and on the planets in and ruling the natal 7th house.

Two hundred years later William Ramesey gave the following advice to prospective grooms:

Yet hadst thou Venus, Moon, ASC, Sun and lord of the Ascendant fortunate in the radix, thou needest not much to observe these [the criteria necessary for a good marriage election] or if they be but indifferently well dignified and located: it is but making the significators in the woman's radix (if it can be procured) apply by a benevolent aspect to the significators in thy own, or let thine dispose of hers, or let hers translate the light of the benevolents to thine, or be in reception with thine by house or exaltation, and out of good houses, or but indifferent houses, so they be in reception; and thou shall assuredly find the match in all respects fortunate and agreeable to thy desire, if thou desireth to live contentedly and lovingly with her.

Vivian Robson, a relatively recent author, simply repeats Ramesey:

If the birth map can be obtained observe the following rules: Make the significators in the woman's map apply by good aspect to those in the man's, or let his dispose of hers, or let hers translate the light of the benefics to his, or be in reception with his by house or exaltation out of a good house, for this denotes happiness, contentment and good fortune.

Writing 2,000 years ago, Dorotheus Sidonius tells us that If in the nativities of the man and the woman you find a benefic in the same place, then it indicates the love of each one of the two for his companion.

Ramesey, whose book on elections many consider to be the subject's Bible, confirms this: If in their nativities you find in one and the same place fortunate planets, they shall assuredly love the one to the other.

Continuing, Dorotheus warns:

If in the nativity of the woman the Moon is facing the Moon of her companion, there will come between the two of them estrangement and discord, and they will not be reconciled nor agree on anything, and this [happens] if the Moon of one of the two is in the sign Aries while the Moon of the other is in Libra. As it is an opposition, it indicates hostility. If the Moon in the nativities of both together is above the earth, it indicates that the two of them come together after the separation, and there will be peace and love between them so that they will be reconciled.

As will become obvious when we come to discuss the marriage Moon in detail, Dorotheus has little regard for the Moon in any of the cardinal signs.

Finally, Ramesey: If the Moon in anyone's nativity be above the earth, that party that has her so posited shall be inclined to make peace, and compose all differences.

That is all that my eight authorities, (some of whom contribute nothing at all), have to say concerning the natal charts of the couple and the synastry between them. Not much. We have better sources on these matters nowadays; readers wishing to pursue synastry could start with Linda Goodman's Relationship Signs.[2] What we don't have are any competent texts on Marriage Elections, and on this subject some - but not all! - of the cited authorities are well worth studying.

First, let them identify the participants, the bride and groom.

The Bride & Groom

Dorotheus: Look at the condition of the man from the Sun and the Ascendant and the Moon's departure from it, and at the condition of the woman from Venus and the 7th sign and the place with which the Moon is conjoined. As will become increasingly obvious, Dorotheus, whose book is the earliest source we have on Electional Astrology, (the same book is also the earliest full text we have on Horary Astrology), generally provides the basic rules. Later authors either expand on these or, as the following quotation suggests, possibly misunderstand them. Here he tells us that the Moon translates the light of the groom's significator to that of his bride, bringing them together.

Laurentius Bonincontrus, writing in the early 15th century: In celebrating marriage, adjust the Ascendant and Moon, their lords and their receivers [for the man? For the marriage as a whole?]… The 7th house and its lord, Venus and the planet from which the Moon is separated signify the condition of the woman. He has switched which spouse is indicated by the Moon's application and separation!

Ramesey corrects the Moon's application and separation back to the way Dorotheus had it: Observe that the Ascendant, its Lord, the Sun, and the planet from whom the Moon has last separated, are the significators of the man; the 7th house, its lord, Venus and the planet to whom the Moon next applies, of the woman.

Robson, as he so often does, repeats Ramesey. At least his English is more modern: The ascendant, its lord, the Sun, and the planet from which the Moon last separated are significators of the man. The 7th house, its lord, Venus, and the planet to which the Moon next applies are the significators of the woman.

Schoener, however, rejects the Dorotheus tradition: In general, for a happy marriage, the Moon & Venus should be strong. For the woman, the Sun with Mars; for both persons the Sun and Mars should be strong and angular and be in good aspect to the Moon & Venus. Jupiter should be in good aspect to these significators.

This is surprising. Masculine Sun and Mars to signify the woman; feminine Moon and Venus to signify the man! Schoener seems to be discussing natal indicators here, not those for an election. Perhaps he was mistranslated.

But maybe not, for Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson repeats him: Take the Moon & Venus for the man, the Sun and Mars for the woman, and let them be well aspected or in mutual reception with Jupiter or with the ruler of the 7th or 1st.

Finally, Doris Chase Doane ignores everyone else. She writes: In a marriage election chart, the first house rules the man and the woman; they cannot be separated. They are members of a partnership, which is mapped by the seventh house. She doesn't attempt to separate the two spouses. Doane's statement, together with the absence of any reference to prior authorities anywhere in her book, suggests that she completely ignores past tradition.

Fig. 1: Marriage of Ted Turner & Jane Fonda

Marriage chart for Ted Turner and Jane Fonda

[ 12:09 PM CST (18:08 UT), 21st December 1991;
Chicago, IL: 41N51, 87W39 ]

Figure 1 illustrates the moment of marriage of the immensely rich and successful Ted Turner to Jane Fonda, the Oscar-winning film actress and Vietnam activist.

According to the Dorotheus-Ramesey tradition, Turner is represented by the Aries Ascendant, its ruler Mars in Sagittarius, and the Sun in Sagittarius (the Moon's last aspect was an opposition to the Sun). The emphasis on Sagittarius is appropriate; the TV mogul was born with Sagittarius rising (see Fig. 2 below).

Schoener's alternative tradition, by which the man is signified by the Moon and Venus is less appropriate: Turner's natal chart has nothing in Cancer, the sign containing the marriage Moon, and his natal Moon is not particularly prominent; the marriage Venus does fall on his natal North Node, but that is better explained by Venus, as 7th house ruler, representing Fonda.

By the earlier tradition, Fonda is signified in the marriage chart by the Libran descendant, with its ruler Venus applying to the conjunction of Pluto - the marriage Pluto is positioned exactly on her natal MC. In addition, Saturn is the almuten or strongest body in Libra, the sign of its exaltation, and in the marriage chart Saturn is in early Aquarius, the sign contained within Fonda's wide 1st natal house (see Fig. 3 below). The Moon's first classical aspect following the ceremony is to oppose Uranus conjunct Neptune, after which it will trine Venus - the Moon's close quincunx to Saturn would have been rejected as a non-aspect by most of the authorities cited here.

Goldstein-Jacobsen would have Fonda signified by the Sun and Mars, both of which are in Sagittarius. This is not necessarily wrong for the marriage was celebrated on her 54th birthday and Mars is close to natal Venus. There are good aspects between the two nativities. His Venus is conjunct her MC, her Venus conjunct his Ascendant - indications of reciprocated love. Both have Jupiter in Aquarius, they shared similar charitable, compassionate instincts. His Moon squares her Ascendant - she could turn him on. The rulers of the two Ascendants are in mutual reception - both were willing to compromise. Each has their Moon in the other's 9th house - they shared a basic view of the world. There are also negatives: her Venus conjunct his Mercury - she may have been more delicate, less unbending than he expected; her Saturn opposite his MC - she couldn't provide the at-home support he wanted and didn't care to play second fiddle to his career; his Pluto on her MC - he would have flatly refused to let Jane continue her film career after marriage.

Schoener's requirements for a happy marriage are not met. The Sun is angular, within 5º of the marriage MC, but it doesn't have a good aspect with the Moon or Venus. Mars is not angular; it is not aspected by either the Moon or Venus.

The Sun and Mars are both in a Jupiter sign but do not have the mutual reception Goldstein-Jacobsen says is necessary for a happy marriage. Mars square Jupiter is not a positive aspect for marriage, especially with Jupiter weak in Virgo and Mars conjunct Uranus by antiscion.

At the time of the marriage Turner's natal Mars opposition Saturn was on the horizon. For the marriage to have occurred at a propitious time, according to our authorities, there needed to be a sextile or trine between Mars or the Sun (Turner's significators) and either Venus or Saturn (Fonda's significators), preferably with reception; these do not happen.

Moon opposition Sun is difficult. Dorotheus: if the Moon is in opposition to the Sun then it is bad and it indicates the accession of quarrels and that the younger of the two will be the winning antagonist.

Despite the many promising ties between the two nativities, the marriage was not a success. Ted and Jane separated.

Fig. 2: Birth chart for Ted Turner

Birth chart for Ted Turner

[ 8:50 AM EST, 19th November 1938;
Cincinnati, Ohio: 39N10, 84W27 ]

Fig. 3: Birth chart for Jane Fonda

Birth chart for Ted Turner

[ 9:14 AM EST on 21st December 1937 (birth certificate)
Manhattan, NY: 40N43, 74W00 ]

The MC & IC of the Wedding Chart

There is general agreement as to the meaning of these two angles:

Dorotheus: [see from] the house of government [the 10th] to whatever of agreement or irritation or good or evil will occur between the man and the woman, and from the house of fathers [the 4th] the outcome of this matter, and what is handed over to them of a dowry or other than that.

Bonincontrius: The lord of the 10th house signifies what will be between them. The 4th and its lord signify the end of both.

Ramesey: The 10th house, the lord thereof, and the planet or planets therein or in configuration therewith, or with the lord thereof, hath signification of those things that shall happen between them, viz. whether good or ill. The 4th house, its lord, and the planet or planets therein, or in configuration thereof, or with its lord, hath signification of the event and the end of the marriage.

Robson: The 10th house, its lord and occupants, and planets aspecting the cusp or the lord denote the things that will happen between them, whether good or bad. The 4th house, its lord and occupants, and planets aspecting the cusp or lord denote the event and the end of the marriage.

Ramesey again clarifies the two earlier writers. Robson's virtual repeat of Ramesey is easier to read. The other authorities do not mention these two angles.

What happened between Fonda and Turner during the marriage? For one thing they became even more fabulously wealthy when Turner sold his company, which included CNN and other profitable television networks as well as the pennant-winning Atlanta Braves baseball team, to Time-Warner, as indicated by Saturn ruler of the 10th of the marriage chart in its own sign in the 11th, (income from business activities), and Venus ruler of the marriage 2nd, (personal income), on the 8th cusp conjunct Pluto. The subsequent proposed purchase of Time-Warner by America Online will further add to the Turner billions. They also gave away enormous sums of money to the United Nations.

Saturn is strong in the marriage chart. Its aspects to each of the two nativities may help us better understand what occurred between the two in the marriage. Marriage Saturn is conjunct Fonda's Jupiter. She would have experienced the marriage as a sober, steadying influence. She would have felt protected but also restricted. Marriage Saturn opposes Turner's 8th house Pluto. He may have been unable to completely relax or feel entirely at ease in the marriage, which Fonda's Saturn in his 4th tends to confirm.

Both Fonda and Turner had experienced public success in the past: she was a successful film actress; he had captained his yacht to victory in the Americas Cup. However, the full moon on the MC-IC suggests the marriage may have been a little too much before the public, out on display. Despite their apparent outgoing natures, both Turner and Fonda were born with a natal Sun in the private 12th house. There had to have come a point when one of them decided that being continually on exhibition was simply out of character. That may have occurred much sooner for Turner, as Fonda, born with Moon in Leo, appears better suited to a life out in the limelight, one in which she can pretend and hide her private self.

Ted Turner, as indicated by the Mars conjunct Uranus antiscion in the marriage chart, has a stubborn "me first" streak and an adventurous zest for life; he can be rather truculent and is not at all someone easily put upon.

The Moon close to the IC suggests there was much moving about in an attempt to find privacy. Despite their fantastic wealth this placement of the Moon points to emotional insecurity within their at-home life, to things simply getting out of control.

Fig. 4: Marriage Lasted One Hour

One Hour Marriage

[ 8:14 AM GMT, 17th March 1946
Newcastle West, County Limerick: 52N25, 9W04. ]

Figure 4 illustrates a marriage that lasted just one hour. I know only that. It occurred in Ireland and was doubtless annulled soon after. It was probably the bride who wanted out of the marriage, for Mars ruler of the 7th house is at the IC applying to the conjunction of Saturn. The groom's chief significator, Venus, is in the 12th house, weak by sign, and applying to the opposition of Neptune - he may have gotten drunk or turned up in drag. Again, as with the Fonda-Turner nuptials, this was a marriage at the time of a full moon. The difference here is that the Moon is applying to the opposition of the Sun, creating a much more difficult situation. Mars conjunct Saturn at the IC explains the quick ending. Ruler of the 10th in the 4th shows that's all that happened in the marriage.

The Marriage Moon

After the angles, the Moon changes its position in a horoscope the quickest. As in Horary, its aspects and position are considered of great importance in Electional Astrology.

Dorotheus tells us: If you look concerning the matter of a marriage and you find the Moon injured, then evil and misfortune occur to these two together, the man and the woman, from this marriage…

Ramesey agrees with this: Wherefore in this matter, if you make any election, have special regard for the Moon; for according to her fortitude or debility, thou mayest judge the good or bad event of any of these.

Dorotheus continues: If at the marriage any of the malefics is with the Moon or in the Ascendant, then the two [spouses] will not agree on any matter and they will not be reconciled, and estrangement and discord will come between them.

Ramesey confirms this: See that she [the Moon] is not joined by any infortune in the Ascendant; for that signifies that the parties then married shall be continually in strife and contention, brawling and discord…

Robson goes even further: On no account should the Moon apply to Saturn or Mars even by good aspect, for it destroys love and harmony; while these planets in the seventh house indicate disharmony through the woman. If the Moon is combust it is said to signify the death of the husband.

Ramesey adds: See that in marriages you let the Moon be increasing in light and motion, but be sure of the increase in light, and if possible let it be before she be past the first square of the Sun… [Ensure] the Moon [is] in the house of either Jupiter or Venus, or in one of their terms; and, if possible, also in good aspect with them, or place the Lord of the 7th in sextile or trine of Venus, the Moon, or Lord of the Ascendant; but make the Lord of the 7th apply or else be disposed of by them either by house [i.e. sign], exaltation, triplicity, term or face; but by house or exaltation is best.

In his usual fashion Robson repeats Ramesey, but with one important difference: Particularly fortify the Moon for upon her much of the good or evil depends. Let the Moon be increasing in light and motion (especially light), and if possible past the first quarter and not in conjunction with a malefic in the ascendant, for that signifies continual strife and discord. If this position is found in either nativity, the party having it will have chief power and will make strife, but if the Moon is above the earth he or she will nevertheless be inclined to make peace again.

Ramesey wants the Moon to be prior to its first quarter, Robson says it should be in its second quarter. As Robson is usually such a faithful lapdog, it is tempting to assume that here he has misread Ramesey, which is not so difficult as these lengthy instructions for the Moon show. In this instance, I tend to side with Robson, the waxing Moon trine Sun should be stronger and more benefic than the waxing Moon sextile Sun.

The Turner-Fonda Moon is fast in motion, 15º 05' per day, but it is not increasing in light, being close to its maximum at full moon. It is strong in Cancer, its own sign, and makes no aspect to Mars or Saturn.

The One-Hour marriage had a slow Moon (12º44') that is weak both by sign and house position, is close to being full, and aspects the Mars-Saturn conjunction.

In both of these marriage charts Moon opposition Sun is a major affliction.

Fig. 5: Marriage of Convenience

Marriage of Convenience

[ 9:50 AM EST, 13th March 1964;
Newark, NJ, USA: 40N44, 74W10 ]

Figure 5 is a marriage from Doris Chase Doane's book. Although her book is just about worthless as a guide for learning how to set up elections, it is an excellent source of data for anyone investigating the subject. The couple, she says, had been close friends for several years. She was a US citizen, he wasn't. His visa to stay in the US was running out and he didn't want to leave. They married so that he could remain and work in the US. After marriage the couple didn't live together although they chatted by phone from time to time to keep communications open. He eventually became a US citizen and they then divorced. They had to stay married for a minimum of two years by law, but the marriage lasted longer as each was tied to their career and had no interest in marrying anyone else.

This is a chart that has much going on in secret, out of sight, hidden from the authority's eyes beneath the glaring rays of the Sun.

Dorotheus: If the Moon is under the Sun's rays [and] its light is destroyed and it is not seen, then it is corrupted but it is beneficial for one who desires theft or treachery or something which is kept secret against him, and for every hidden or secret action which its master does not wish to be made public.

There's also a great amount of help available, as indicated by the many strong mutual receptions in this chart: Mars MR Jupiter by sign, Mars MR Neptune by sign, Sun MR Jupiter by sign & exaltation, and Moon MR Venus by exaltation. With Saturn in its own sign, there's just one planet that is weak by sign, but it's a key one: Mercury.

Mercury is the Ascendant ruler, the man's chief significator. It is weak by sign in Pisces, where it is in its detriment and fall - the man is in a difficult situation, the whistle can be blown on him at any time and then he'll be kicked out of the country. Mercury, however, is just 16½ minutes of arc from the Sun, within cazimi, where tradition says it is greatly strengthened. Dorotheus tells us the planet the Moon is separating from represents the man. The combust Moon has just separated from the opposition of Pluto in Virgo, which squares the rising degree. As the most distant of the planets, Pluto signifies the outsider, the alien. When transit Pluto aspects a natal angle it often points to the native being caught red-handed in an unlawful act, of being embarrassed when secrets thought to be safely hidden away in his closet are unexpectedly unveiled. Pluto is located in a sign ruled by Mercury, general significator of official papers, including visas. Pluto's square to the ASC points to the problem: the absence of needed papers, the danger that he might be expelled.

The classical planet last aspected by the Moon is Venus, strong in Taurus in the 12th house and applying to trine the Uranus-Pluto conunction.

The woman's chief significator is Jupiter, ruler of the 7th house. She is also signified by the planet the Moon next aspects, here Mars in Pisces. Mars in turn is applying to the trine of Neptune in the 6th house, with mutual reception. As the 12th from the Descendant, the 6th represents the woman's secrets; with Neptune there she is willing (there is a sextile between Neptune and Pluto) to help create an unreal situation, a marriage of convenience, to protect her friend. Further confirmation is provided by the other mutual reception involving Mars, with Jupiter, the woman's chief significator, which is located close to the chart's 12th cusp, the man's place of secrets.

A marriage of convenience to circumvent deportation is clearly described by the various interplanetary connections and by the grouping in the friendly 11th house. Sympathetic Pisces, the sign containing the shielding Sun, is ruled by Jupiter, the significator of the woman. There is an exact semi-sextile with mutual reception between the Sun and Jupiter. With Mercury fully protected by the Sun, this might provide an unusual way of translating the light between the couple's significators.

But it's all unreal. There are no true aspects (in the classical sense) between the man's significators, Sun, Mercury and Pluto, and those of the woman, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. This was not a true marriage.

The Marriage Moon by sign

Dorotheus: Look every time concerning the matter of marriage at the sign in which the Moon is. If the two [Moon and sign] are injured, then there will be shouting and discord and hostility and separation between the man and the woman, and the two [of them] will not settle upon anything and will not be reconciled; thus it indicates the subject of friendship and love. Look concerning both of these things at the power of the benefics. If they are in a strong [and] good position, the conflict and estrangement and evil will disappear and there will be peace and agreement and good between them.

The different authorities suggest the following Moon-in-sign portents also apply when the ASC or Venus is in these signs.

Dorotheus: The different Ascendant signs have much the same meaning as shown here for the Moon.

Ramesey: Applies also if the Ascendant or Venus is in the sign, yet these significations will be most manifest the Moon being therein. The ancients have taught that the Moon, or indeed (as I hold) any of the significators, Jupiter or Venus, is not to be placed in the Ascendant at the time of marriage in any of these signs which are to be avoided or shunned.

Robson: These effects are strongest when the Moon is in the sign, but are also felt when it is on the ascendant or containing Venus.

Moon in Aries:
    Dorotheus: The marriage will have no good in it. If the Moon is in a tropical sign, then the marriage will not be good for the man or for the woman as there will be no agreement between these two, and [their] association will not last long.
Ramesey: Avoid for marriage
Robson: Bad for marriage
Aries is the sign of detriment for Venus. As Venus in Aries can indicate a person unable to sustain any bonding with others, this sign would also be bad for the Moon in marriage.

Moon in Taurus:
    Dorotheus: Early or late - the marriage will have no good in it. The woman will be disloyal to her husband. Middle, it will be good for the marriage
Ramesey: Last 10º are bad.
Robson: From 0 to 19º, good; the rest bad.
They disagree concerning the first decade of Taurus, but agree on the others.

Moon in Gemini:
    Dorotheus: 1st half, not good for marriage. 2nd half : it will be good.
Ramesey: Last 15º are bad
Robson: The first 15º are good, the rest bad.
Ramesey and Robson again disagree with Dorotheus.

Moon in Cancer:
    Dorotheus: Avoid marrying at this time.
Bonincontrus: Do not place the Moon in Cancer for the marriages of virgins. In the marriages of widows the Moon is well placed here.
Ramesey: Avoid for marriage
Coley: Refuse the Moon in Cancer for marriages, unless it be for marrying widows.
Robson: Bad for marriage, except when marrying a widow.
For 'widows' we can, I assume, include those who have been divorced. Moon in Cancer occurs in the Turner-Fonda marriage. As Fonda has a daughter from her marriage to film producer Roger Vadim, Moon in Cancer seems to have been appropriate. The Moon in Cancer in Figure 9 is also appropriate.

Moon in Leo:
    Dorotheus: Good for the marriage except that neither the man nor the woman will be able to maintain the property of the other, but will spoil and waste it. The pair of them will bring down the level of the property of others.
Bonincontrus: Do not place the Moon in Leo for the marriages of virgins. In the marriages of widows the Moon is well placed here.
Ramesey: Good but it will cause one to deceive the other over money.
Robson: All good, but it causes one party to deceive the other as to his or her money or possessions.
Bonincontrus seems out of place here. His remarks better apply to the Moon in Cancer or Virgo, according to the other authorities.

Moon in Virgo:
    Dorotheus: Marriage to a widowed woman will be good, but to a virgin it will not be good.
Ramesey: Signifies the woman shall soon lose her husband; wherefore it may be beneficial to her, though pernicious to him, women seldom loving so affectionately as men.
Coley: Refuse the Moon in Virgo for marriages, unless it be for marrying widows.
Robson: Bad for marriage except when marrying a widow. Indicates that the husband soon dies.
Much the same as Moon in Cancer. The one-hour marriage has Moon in Virgo; the bride quickly lost her husband.

Moon in Libra:
    Dorotheus: The marriage will not have good in it, but courtship and requesting will be good in it. If the Moon is in a tropical sign, then the marriage will not be good for the man or for the woman as there will be no agreement between these two, and [their] association will not last long.
Ramesey: Avoid for marriage. It may be chosen for betrothing or contracting but not for marriage
Robson: Good for betrothal but bad for marriage. In last 15º a bad end to the marriage.
Being good for courtship makes sense, but the unanimous warning against marrying when the Moon is in this Venus sign is unexpected.

Moon in Scorpio:
    Dorotheus: Early Scorpio: it will be good. Late Scorpio: not good; the association of these two will not last long.
Ramesey: The first 15º are good to marry a maid or virgin, for that it denotes she will be obedient, good and chaste, also loving to her husband; but the latter 15º are altogether to be rejected in that it causes the woman to be of disposition quite contrary, viz. lewd, a brawler, perfidious, inconstant, envious, malicious and disobedient, etc.
Robson: In first 15º a bad end to the marriage. The first 15º are good for marrying a maid or virgin, indicating that she will be obedient, good, chaste and loving. The last 15º are entirely bad, & denote a woman who is lewd, quarrelsome, treacherous, fickle, envious, malicious, & disobedient.
I'm extremely cautious with Robson on those rare occasions that he displays independent thought and adds something extra, as he does here with his opening sentence. The Moon is in its fall in Scorpio; it may indicate the emotions are turned inward, destructively.

Moon in Sagittarius:
    Dorotheus: Many changes, and it will be good for some, it is better that the couple postpone the marriage and do not begin at this time.
Ramesey: Indifferent, as some of the ancients hold; I for my part cannot agree to reject it.
Robson: Indifferent, but not unfavorable.
The marriage chart at Figure 6 has Moon in Sagittarius; the couple experienced many extreme ups and downs.

Moon in Capricorn:
    Dorotheus: Early Capricorn - the marriage will have no good in it. Middle or end of Capricorn - it will be good.
Ramesey: First 10º are to be neglected, yet the other two faces are good, and signify the woman shall be loving and tractable to the will and desire of the man, and they are better in a widow than a maid, except they cause but few children.
Robson: The first 10º are bad for marriage. The rest of the sign is good, especially in marrying a widow, and denotes that the woman will be loving and tractable, though she will have few children.
The Moon is in her detriment in Capricorn, indicating someone who may be overly sensitive to the opinions of others. General agreement here that the last two decades are good, though not particularly fertile.

Moon in Aquarius:
    Dorotheus: The marriage will have no good in it.
Ramesey: Avoid: causes the woman to be of a manly spirit, and disobedient to her husband.
Robson: Bad. Causes the woman to be masculine and disobedient.
Avoid the Moon in Aquarius.

Moon in Pisces:
    Dorotheus: The woman will be spoiled [deflowered] and will not cease wronging her husband, but it will be good in the rest of things.
Ramesey: Good; it denotes the woman to be loving and just, yet it will also cause her to be addicted to twatling and prating, which will now and then lessen the man's love towards her.
Robson: Good. Makes the woman loving and just, though it inclines her to chattering.
Occurs in the marriage of convenience. Note Robson's use of the word 'chattering', the same word Doane uses to describe how the couple maintained communication by phone.

Dorotheus is particularly negative concerning each of the cardinal signs, with the exception of the last 20º of Capricorn. In addition to the above comments, he writes: If the Moon or Venus is in a tropical sign, then the marriage will have no good in it as it indicates that this woman is a whore, a harlot who will secretly frequent the beds of men.

Ramesey also has problems with the cardinals: When both the Moon and Venus are in moveable signs the joy and mirth between those then married will not be of long continuance.

Robson confirms (simply repeats?) Ramesey: If the Moon and Venus are in cardinal signs the joy and happiness between the couple will not continue long.

Goldstein-Jacobson disagrees for Moon in Libra; most modern astrologers will doubtless agree with her: The best insurance of happiness is to have the Moon in Libra or Taurus, increasing in light, absolutely unafflicted, & well aspected to Venus; also the rulers of the 1st and 7th conjunct or in trine or reception with each other.

Ramesey also seems unsure about Libra, for though he tells us Libra is good for betrothal but not good for marriage, in an earlier paragraph he writes that one should try to have: the Moon in the house of either Jupiter or Venus, or in one of their terms; and, if possible, also in good aspect with them.

The Marriage of Convenience chart (figure 5) has the Moon in Pisces: twatling and prating (some earlier expressions are so much better than many we use nowadays), Venus in Taurus (excellent), and the ASC in the first half of Gemini (not good according to Dorotheus, though Ramesey and Robson disagree).

In Figure 4, the One-Hour marriage, the Moon is in Virgo (the husband was soon lost, though not in the expected sense), Venus is in Aries (a bad position), and the ASC is in 12º Taurus (good).

For the marriage of Jane Fonda and Ted Turner (figure 1) the Moon is in Cancer (good for the non-virgin), Venus is in the second half of Scorpio (a terrible place), and the ASC is in Aries (bad).

The Ascendant in Marriage Charts

Besides signifying the man, the Ascendant is also taken to signify the stability of the marriage as a whole:

Dorotheus: Marriage is best if its commencement is at an hour in which the ascendant is in one of the signs of which I wrote that, if the Moon is in them, is good for the marriage, while none of the malefics is in the ascendant or aspects it.

Bonincontrus is more specific. His instructions should perhaps be the basis for setting up a chart for a marriage: In celebrating marriage, adjust the Ascendant and Moon, their lords and their receivers. Let the Ascendant be in one of the fixed signs, Taurus or Leo with the Moon in the other of these two, in the trine or sextile aspect of the Sun.

Coley warns against Scorpio as the rising sign: See that you fortify the Ascendant, as also the lord of the ascendant and the Moon, with their dispositor. The Ascendant ought to be in a fixed sign, and the Moon therein in sextile or trine the Sun; but by any means let not Scorpio ascend.

Aspects to the rising degree concern Ramesey: Know that it is a fit time (having considered what has been already said) to marry when the Ascendant is assisted by the benevolent aspects of the fortunes, or they therein located; but if it be afflicted by the malevolents either by body or aspect, judge the contrary.

As we've come to expect, Robson says much the same: Let the ascendant be well aspected or occupied by the benefics, and unafflicted by the malefics.

A slightly independent view is presented by Schoener: The sign of the seventh house, which is [the house] of marriage, and both the signs of the Ascendant and the Moon ought to be safe and free, and suitable to the occasion of marriage. These signs are Taurus, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius, and Pisces, and Virgo for widows. Dorotheus and Ramesey, the authorities who appear to make the most sense, disagree with some of these sign allocations.

Goldstein-Jacobson lists the same signs as Schoener but because she says they can be on either end of the horizon, she's simply saying avoid having the Ascendant in Cancer or Capricorn: Either the 7th or 1st cusp should be in Libra, Taurus, Aquarius, Sagittarius or Pisces with the ruler unafflicted, direct and strong by Sign.

In the one-hour marriage (figure 4) Taurus, one of the recommended rising signs, is on the Ascendant, but its ruler, Venus, is weak: in her detriment in Aries, in the 12th house, applying to the opposition of Neptune.

The marriage of convenience (figure 5) has Gemini rising, squared by Uranus, with its ruler, Mercury in hiding in Pisces.

The Fonda-Turner marriage (figure 1) has Aries, an unpopular sign, rising with a peregrine Mars on the 9th cusp. Pluto is Sesquiquadrate the rising degree from the 8th cusp.

The Marriage Venus

Venus is the general significator of love and marriage:

Dorotheus: Look concerning the marriage at the condition of Venus as there is no good in a marriage when Venus is with the malefics or the malefics aspect Venus.

Bonincontrus: In marriage, Venus and the Moon should be strengthened.

Ramesey: Whatever you do, be sure to fortify Venus, and see that she be not cadent, retrograde, combust, nor in her fall or detriment, nor in any malevolent configuration with the infortunes; for it is impossible the marriage should be good where Venus is impotent or afflicted; neither can it be very bad if she be strong and well aspected of the fortunes; for in marriages she is the chief significant.

Robson: Be certain to fortify Venus, who is chief significator, and take care that she is not cadent, combust, retrograde, nor in fall, detriment, or afflicted by the malefics. No marriage can be good if Venus is weak or afflicted, nor can it be very bad if Venus is strong and well aspected.

Let's get to the nitty-gritty. First the good aspects:

Dorotheus: If the Moon and Jupiter and Venus are some of them aspecting the others from trine, then it will be good for the marriage, but it will be better than that if they are in triplicities or in signs which abound in children and progeny.

Ramesey agrees: If possible, make Jupiter be in sextile or trine with Venus, or she in reception with him, and the Moon in the house of either Jupiter or Venus.

Robson repeats this and also gets the 7th-ruler involved: If possible put Jupiter in sextile or trine with Venus, or Venus in reception with Jupiter, and the Moon in a sign ruled by either or in one of their terms and if possible in good aspect with them. Or place the lord of the seventh in good aspect to Venus, Moon or the lord of ascendant, but make the lord of the seventh be disposed of by them by one of the essential dignities. Let the Moon, Jupiter and Venus if possible be in sextile or trine to each other, but the trine is best and in the watery triplicity. Be sure they, or any of the significators, are not in the signs or parts of signs to be avoided, especially in the ascendant.

Dorotheus takes care to point out that a Venus-Jupiter aspect does not necessarily ensure joy and happiness for all concerned: If you find the Sun injured and Venus with Jupiter or Jupiter aspecting Venus, then it indicates that this marriage will not be useful for the man, or a misfortune will reach him, but the woman will attain joy and happiness and profit.

Now the difficult aspects:

Dorotheus: If Venus is with Mars or with Saturn or the two [malefics] aspect Venus, then it indicates that misery and misfortune will come to the woman, and the two [spouses] do not delay that there should be separation and estrangement between them.

The Turner-Fonda Venus is not strong. It rules the 7th cusp from Scorpio, and is conjunct the 8th cusp where it is about to conjoin Pluto. Venus is sextile Jupiter, but the aspect is separating.

In the marriage of convenience, despite being in the 12th, Venus is very strong. She is in her own term in one of the signs she rules, in her own triplicity, and has a mutual reception by exaltation with the Moon. This marriage accomplished exactly what was intended.

In the one-hour marriage, as one might expect, Venus is weak by sign, house and aspect.

Fig. 6: Marriage of Princess Elizabeth & the Elector Palatine

Marriage of Princess Elizabeth & the Elector Palatine

[ 9:46 AM, 14th February 1613 (proposed time)
Whitehall, London: 51N30, 0W10 ]

Figure 6 illustrates an arranged wedding that became a love match. It is the only astrologically elected marriage discussed in this article. The bride was Princess Elizabeth, eldest daughter of King James I of England (her birth chart is shown at Figure 7). The groom was Frederick V, Elector Palatine of the Rhine (see Figure 8). Events surrounding the wedding are described by Frances A. Yates[3] in her book The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. The young German prince arrived in England on 16 October 1612. When he and Elizabeth first met later that day, they "really fell in love with one another". They were betrothed on 27 December, and married in the royal chapel in Whitehall on 14 February 1613. Their romance was to endure throughout many vicissitudes.

Although we can be assured that the moment of the marriage was astrologically elected, the time of the I-do's has not come down to us. We do know there were extensive festivities that began shortly after noon, so the marriage had to have taken place before then. Times shortly after the proposed one would have had the Moon void of course. I have attempted to view matters very much as a 17th century astrologer would, selecting a time that has the Moon separating from square Jupiter and applying to sextile Sun, with Venus (ruler of the Taurus Ascendant) on the MC, in sextile and mutual reception with the MC-ruler. Venus is also trine North Node. As the bride and groom were born just three days apart it is relatively simple to find a rising degree of maximum benefit to both; here the Ascendant falls on their natal Jupiters with the benefic North Node close by. The wedding Sun closely opposes the bride's natal Sun.

In 1613 Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were all unknown. An astrologer then would have been unaware that Pluto was close to the Ascendant. He would have had difficulty enough choosing this day, with Mars applying to square Saturn. He could at least ensure that Jupiter was away from opposition Saturn and that the Moon had left opposition Mars and square Saturn, and he would have attempted to minimize Mars square Saturn by the tight sextile the elevated Venus sends to Saturn from the sign in which Mars is exalted. Unfortunately, he would not know that Mars was applying to conjoin Uranus and then square Neptune while Saturn would soon be square Uranus and opposition Neptune.

He couldn't have known that the so-promising Moon sextile Sun, which appears to be translating the light of Jupiter to the Sun, will be prevented by the tight Moon square Neptune that occurs just beforehand. The intended joy and success in the marriage would become distorted by Neptune; it would lack genuine accomplishment.

At the time, Dr. Yates tells us, it was believed that this marriage of the Thames and the Rhine was a statement of English policy, a firm indication that England would support the Elector Palatine as leader of the European Protestants against the reactionary Catholic powers. It was not realized that the bride's father did not hold this view. He had no intention of following the policies of his predecessor on the English throne; Queen Elizabeth had, after all, executed his mother. His idea was to balance the marriage of his eldest daughter to a German Protestant prince with the marriage of his son, Charles, to a Spanish Catholic princess, and so, at all costs, avoid war with the Hapsburg powers.

After the marriage Princess Elizabeth followed her husband to his home in Heidelberg, where they remained in contented bliss for six years. Then, as a result of intense politico-religious propaganda that, according to Dr. Yates, had been begun many years earlier by the astrologer John Dee as an attempt to unite religious differences, Frederick was invited to become king of Bohemia. He accepted. The young couple moved to Prague and reigned there during the winter of 1619-20. (In seven years the marriage Part of Fortune comes by 1º to conjoin Saturn, the MC-ruler.) The Catholic forces rose against Frederick, James failed to provide the expected aid, ignoring both his daughter's pleas for help and the pressure of his own court, and on 8th November 1920 the Protestant army was totally defeated at the Battle of White Mountain, just outside Prague. The couple history knows as The Winter King and Queen of Bohemia, with their children, were forced to flee - ruler of marriage 10th in the 12th, downfall due to ambition. The victorious Hapsburgs dominated Europe. The movement Frederick led, which was supposed to unite John Dee's philosophy and the chivalry of England with German mystical currents, failed disastrously and rushed Europe into the horrors of the Thirty Years War. This 1613 wedding chart not only portrays the future of a marriage but is also a major mundane chart for the history of Europe.

Frederick died in 1632, and his royal widow lived out the remainder of her life as a refugee in The Hague (her natal Moon is in the 12th), allowed to live there by the Dutch royal family.

The groom is signified by Venus, ruler of the Ascendant, by the Sun (according to Dorotheus), and by Jupiter, the planet the Moon last aspected. Venus is strong at the MC - the world (the protestant world, at least) held him in high esteem. The Sun is separating from trine Uranus and awaits the Moon's promised sextile (previously discussed). Jupiter is weak and afflicted: retrograde in the sign of its detriment, in the 6th house, opposition Saturn, square Uranus and conjunct Neptune. This must resolve any question we may have had concerning whether or not the groom is indicated by the body the Moon last aspected - the Elector Palatine is a text book example of a weak and badly afflicted Jupiter.

Elizabeth Stuart is signified by Mars, ruler of the 7th, and by the planet the Moon next aspects. The Moon's next application is not the anticipated easy sextile to the royal Sun but a damaging square to a miserable, retrograde Neptune in the sign where it is weakest, Virgo, in Elizabeth's 12th - if there were ever grounds for executing a court astrologer, this failure to anticipate the discovery of Neptune would be sufficient.

We must remember that Laurentius Bonincontrius switched the meaning of the Moon's application and separation. He would have had Elizabeth signified by Jupiter and Frederick shown by Neptune. As the Elector was born with Sun conjunct Neptune it would be appropriate for him to be signified by this planet in his marriage.

As the couple were born just three days apart, their Jupiter's are very close, just 6' apart, and their Venus's are separated by only 2º.

Venus conjunct MC - it was a love match; there appears to have been love and agreement between the pair throughout the marriage.

Mars antiscion at 16º Cancer is conjunct the IC - the marriage eventually led to war and Frederick died in battle. Elizabeth was left alone, a widow.

The Moon is in Sagittarius, which Dorotheus says indicates "many changes." They were handed a throne, but lost it and were forced to flee without their possessions, then spent their lives as homeless refugees (Moon square Neptune). Ascendant in Taurus: the couple stayed together till death parted them.

Fig. 7: Birth chart for Elizabeth Stuart

Birth chart for ELIZABETH STUART

[ 2:00 AM LAT, 19th August 1596
Dunfermline, Scotland: 56N04, 3W29 (source Martin Harvey) ]

Fig. 8: Birth chart for Frederick V, Elector Palatine

Birth chart for Frederick V

[ 10:30 AM LAT, 16th August 1596
Heidelberg, Germany: 49N25, 8E43 (source: Martin Harvey) ]


It can be argued, all the romance, glamour and desire for companionship associated with marriage notwithstanding, that the basic purpose of marriage is to propagate children, to further the race. Our authorities have much to say on this important matter:

Dorotheus: If in the nativities of the two of them together one of the benefics is in the house of government [the 10th] of both, then the two of them will obtain a child in the year in which they come together. If the house of government of both of them is a sign abounding in children, then the woman will conceive on the first day in which she and her husband come together.

Bonincontrus: In the hour of the marriage if a fortune possesses the tenth house, it signifies that the lying together on the first night impregnates the woman if she has been first deflowered.

Coley: If a fortune shall be in the 10th house in the hour of marriage, it signifies that the woman will conceive the first night she lies with her husband.

Robson: If Jupiter or Venus is in the 10th house at the time of marriage it is said to indicate immediate conception.

Venus is smack-dab on the MC at the suggested time for the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Frederick V. A son was born that same year.

Dorotheus: If Mercury is with the benefics or they aspect it, then it indicates that a child will soon be born to these two.

Schoener: Mercury also with his gentle shining is not contrary to the procreating of offspring.

Ramesey: Mercury is not to be rejected, for he hath signification of the children which they are to have. So that at the time of the marriage or contract, he be well dignified, and in conjunction or aspect of the fortunes, thou may assuredly say the married couple will soon have a child. The ancients have said the same, he being but in configuration with the fortunes, but I hold it most true if he be in his own dignities also at the time, and beholding them out of the 5th house, and the more assured this be, if they be in prolific signs.

Robson: Mercury denotes the children and if dignified and in conjunction or aspect with the benefics, especially if in a fruitful sign, denotes a child speedily.

Mercury is in the 11th house for the Elizabeth-Frederick marriage, the 5th of the bride.

In the marriage chart for Fonda and Turner, Mercury in the sign of its detriment is applying to square Jupiter, also in its detriment, in the 6th. The marriage produced no children.

Schoener: For the gaining of offspring, the Ascendant and the Moon should be in signs of many children and in benign aspects of Jupiter and Venus. It is better, however, with this, if the Moon is in the 5th, 10th or 11th houses, with one benefic in the Ascendant, and the other with the Moon or standing in her benevolent aspect. And before anything else the 5th house should be well disposed.

The signs of many children are those of the water element.

The Fonda-Turner Moon is in Cancer but the ASC is in a fire sign. The Moon, ruler of the 5th of children is in the 4th - not a good placement as this is the 12th from the 5th - and is not conjunct, sextile or trine Venus or Jupiter.

None of Schoener's requirements are present for the Elizabeth- Frederick marriage. They had three sons and (at least) one daughter.

Dorotheus: The marriage will be good if Jupiter is overcoming Venus, which happens when Venus is in quartile of Jupiter from its left and Venus is in the 10th sign from the Moon so that Jupiter according to this is in opposition to the Moon, as it indicates that these two [spouses] will be properly blessed with children in this marriage, and it will be good in the rest of things also.

This Moon-Venus-Jupiter T-cross doesn't appear in any of the example charts.

Dorotheus: If Venus is in trine of the malefics, then in the marriage which occurs according to this he [the husband] will be blessed with children, but he will be blessed with this child when in the revolutions of the years the benefics arrive at the place if the malefics in the base [the marriage chart] or aspect it.

Venus is closely sextile Saturn in the Elizabeth-Frederick marriage chart.

Ramesey: Have regard also to the radix of both parties if they can be procured; for if there be fortune in the Midheaven at the time of their nativities, or such planets as are in configuration with the fortunes, the new-married couple shall have issue the first year of the marriage. If in the radix thou findest the lord of the 10th in the 9th, there shall be no conception in the first month.

Slightly reworded by Robson: If benefics or planets aspected by benefics are in the radical Midheaven at the time of marriage, the couple will have issue in the first year. If in the birth map the lord of the tenth is in the ninth, there will be no conception in the first month.

Doesn't apply in the natal charts of Jane Fonda, Ted Turner, Elizabeth Stuart or Elector Frederick.

Fig. 9: Twelve Children

12 Children

[ 10:00 AM EST (15:00 UT), 25th November 1961 41N29, 81W48 ]

Figure 9 comes from the AFA Bulletin. The bride was aged 34, widowed for three years with four children. The groom was 43, a widower for 1½ years, a tool engineer, with eight children. Together they brought twelve children into the marriage. Both main significators, the rulers of the 1st and 7th, are in their own signs, not in aspect, although the Moon will eventually come to opposition Saturn. The Moon is transferring the light of Neptune (the man - the Moon has no prior aspect to one of the classical planets) to Venus (the woman), both in the fertile sign of Scorpio, close to the cusp of the 11th house. Venus, ruler of the man's 5th, is at the cusp of the woman's 5th - she will treat his children as if they were her own. Mercury in a fertile sign is exactly on the cusp of the woman's 5th, where it is conjunct Venus and close to the antiscion of Jupiter - many children, already present.


Using the advice of William Ramesey or Vivian Robson for electing a marriage chart amounts to just about the same. Of the two, Robson, is easier to understand. With the surprising exclusion of Dorotheus Sidonius, the other authorities quoted here provide much less information.

I was amazed to observe that, with very few exceptions, the 2,000- year-old advice of Dorotheus Sidonius is every bit as good as anything provided by any of the later experts. Indeed, he or others following the same tradition is obviously the source for Ramesey.

Perhaps the only difference between the remarks of Dorotheus and Ramesey concerns house and planetary rulers. Dorotheus says "Look at the Ascendant"; Ramesey says "Look at the Ascendant and its Lord." If we assume astrological knowledge has improved over time, we can say that Ramesey's addition is an indicator of this. However, I do have a suspicion that to terse Dorotheus looking at a house ruler or planet's dispositor was implied when he tells us to "Look at the Ascendant".

As Carmen Astrologicum, Dorotheus' book, also contains the earliest known set of rules for Horary Astrology, it may profit readers who work in that field to obtain a copy. I make frequent use of it.

Notes & References:

  1 ] The sources used were:

1st cent. Dorotheus Sidonius. Carmen Astrologicum.
Trans. David Pengree. Leipzig: Teubner, 1976. pp. 271-276.

1410. Laurentius Bonincontrius. Treatise on Elections.
Trans. Robert Hand. Berkeley Springs, WV: Project Hindsight. 1994. pp. 14-15.

1477. Johannes Schoener. Opusculum Astrologicum.
Trans. Robert Hand. Berkeley Springs, WV: Project Hindsight. 1994. pp. 72-73.

1653. William Ramesey. Astrology Restored.
London: Robert White. 1653. pp. 175-177.

1676. Henry Coley. Clavis Astrologiae.
London: Ben Tooke & Thos. Sawbridge. 1676. (Ballantrae Reprint) pp. 282-283.

1930. Vivian Robson. Electional Astrology.
Ballantrae Reprint pp. 117-123.

1970. Ivy Goldstein-Jacobsen. Simplified Horary Astrology.
Pasadena, CA: Pasadena Lithographers, 1970. p. 272.

1990. Doris Chase Doane. Profit by Electional Astrology.
Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, 1990. pp. 121-137.

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  2 ] Published in New York by Bantam Books, 1998.
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  3 ] Originally published by Routledge & Kegan Paul, Inc. in 1972. Reprinted by ARK Paperbacks, 1986.
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Ken GillmanKennet Gillman was born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on 7th June 1937 with Cancer rising. He has been a student of astrology since 1960 and practiced his early craft in Germany, Arabia and Britain. He holds the honour of being the initial speaker at the AA's first annual conference, in 1969.

Ken has been a resident in North America since 1970. He was the vice president of ISAR between 1970-73, editor of Kosmos between 1973-77, and is well known to most as the editor-publisher of Considerations between 1983-2006. Besides his astrological contributions Ken has also headed a firm of consulting statisticians, being a graduate Fellow of London's Institute of Statisticians , and more recently a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.

You can contact Ken by email at

© Ken Gillman. Uploaded May 2006.
Previously published in Considerations XV: 3, August-October 2000

Electional Astrology

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