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.
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.
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. 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
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
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
[ 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
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
[ 8:50 AM EST, 19th November 1938;
Cincinnati, Ohio: 39N10, 84W27 ]
Fig. 3: Birth chart for Jane Fonda
[ 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
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
[ 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
[ 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
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
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:|
||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
||Avoid for marriage|
||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:|
||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|
||Last 10º are bad.|
||From 0 to 19º, good; the rest bad.|
|They disagree concerning the first decade of Taurus, but agree on the others.
|Moon in Gemini:|
||1st half, not good for marriage. 2nd half : it will be good.
|| Last 15º are bad
||The first 15º are good, the rest bad.|
|Ramesey and Robson again disagree with Dorotheus.
|Moon in Cancer:|
||Avoid marrying at this time.|
||Do not place the Moon in Cancer for the marriages of virgins. In
the marriages of widows the Moon is well placed here.|
||Avoid for marriage|
||Refuse the Moon in Cancer for marriages, unless it be for marrying
||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:|
|| 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.
|| Do not place the Moon in Leo for the marriages of virgins. In
the marriages of widows the Moon is well placed here.|
||Good but it will cause one to deceive the other over
|| 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:|
||Marriage to a widowed woman will be good, but to a
virgin it will not be good.
|| 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.|
|| Refuse the Moon in Virgo for marriages, unless it be for marrying
||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:|
||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.|
||Avoid for marriage. It may be chosen for betrothing or
contracting but not for marriage|
||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:|
||Early Scorpio: it will be good.
Late Scorpio: not good; the association of these two will not
||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.|
|| 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,
|Moon in Sagittarius:|
|| 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.
||Indifferent, as some of the ancients hold; I for my part
cannot agree to reject it.|
|| 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:|
|| Early Capricorn - the marriage will have no good in it.
Middle or end of Capricorn - it will be good.
||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.|
|| 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:|
||The marriage will have no good in it.
||Avoid: causes the woman to be of a manly spirit, and disobedient
to her husband.|
|| Bad. Causes the woman to be masculine and disobedient.
Avoid the Moon in Aquarius.
|Moon in Pisces:|
||The woman will be spoiled [deflowered] and will not
cease wronging her husband, but it will be good in the
rest of things.
||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
|| 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
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
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
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
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
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
[ 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 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
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
[ 2:00 AM LAT, 19th August 1596
Dunfermline, Scotland: 56N04, 3W29 (source Martin Harvey) ]
Fig. 8: Birth chart for Frederick V, Elector Palatine
[ 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
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
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
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
Mercury is in the 11th house for the Elizabeth-Frederick marriage, the 5th of
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
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
[ 10:00 AM EST (15:00 UT), 25th November 1961
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
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:
|| 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.
Back to text
||Published in New York by Bantam Books, 1998.
Back to text
||Originally published by Routledge & Kegan Paul, Inc. in 1972. Reprinted by
ARK Paperbacks, 1986.
Back to text
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 KWGMKG@aol.com
© Ken Gillman. Uploaded May 2006.
Previously published in Considerations
XV: 3, August-October 2000