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Upon the Equinox

Dear Readers,

We are in the final few days of the astrological year, as the Sun makes its way through the last inches of Pisces. This is a time of closure and completion -- and preparation for a shift in energy and a new season. The time of the equinox is approaching, which is exact March 20. The Sun enters the sign Aries, which is the root of the power of will, initiative, creativity, the sex drive, passion and power. Without Aries and its ruler Mars, nothing on this planet would get anywhere.

For about a week, night and day are of equal length all around the world. The reason for equal-length night and day is that at this time, the Earth is positioned such that the rays of the Sun are at a 90-degree angle to the equator.

That these several different events coincide is not an accident. They are the reason the horoscope that Western astrologers use is called the 'tropical zodiac'. The signs of the zodiac are measured not by the apparent movement of the Sun through the constellations, but rather using the Sun's angle to the equator, and the two tropics to the north and south -- the Tropic of Capricorn to the south, and the Tropic of Cancer to the north.

There is a second zodiac, called the sidereal zodiac, which is made of the actual constellations. But Western astrologers generally don't use it. We use the tropical zodiac.

When the Earth is positioned such that the Sun's rays are at a 90-degree angle to the Tropic of Cancer, in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun 'enters' the sign Cancer, and it is the peak of summer in the north and winter in the south. One hundred and eighty two days (or six months) later, when the Sun is at a 90-degree angle to the Tropic of Capricorn, the Sun 'enters' the sign Capricorn and it is the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Halfway between, the Sun's rays aspect the Equator and we reach the Equinoxes: the Sun's entry into Aries and Libra.

This divides the year into four parts. Then the seasons -- or the main points on the Sun's path between the tropics -- are neatly divided by three. This gives us a total of 12 divisions, which are the signs of the zodic. Each season begins with a cardinal sign (Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn), peaks with a fixed sign (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius), and ends or dissipates into the next with a mutable or common sign (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius or Pisces).

The first degree of Aries, or the beginning of the whole story, is called the Aries Point. It's where we reckon the tropical horoscope and the sidereal horoscope -- that is, the backdrop of the stars. In other words, if you look at the Sun's position in space on the day of the Vernal Equinox, it falls in one of the actual constellations -- which happens to be Pisceus. So for the most part, the tropical zodiac and the sidereal zodiac are off by one sign (which factors into one of this week's questions below).

The Aries Point is a truly sensitive point -- often acting with greater potency than a planet or the lunar nodes. When the Sun or any other planet is in early Aries, or making a 90-degree or 180-degree aspect to early Aries, there can be distinct effects.

At such times, events can occur that involve a lot of people. An unfortunate example is the tsunami, which came at the same time as a Full Moon square the Aries Point. There are many, many examples in the history of astrology.

This quality of bringing in the masses seems to run counter to the highly individualized nature of Aries. But the Aries Point itself is almost always some kind of invitation to the mass of humanity to TRANSCEND INDIVIDUALITY and to think of itself as one. Here is the chart:

Vernal Equinox chart

For a simpler version of the chart, please click here.

The most interesting thing I've noticed about the Vernal Equinox chart is that the Sun is in an exact conjunction to the asteroid Amor. Given that there are a couple of hundred thousand small planets orbiting our Sun, that may not seem like a big deal. However, the potency of Amor exactly conjunct the Sun and conjunct the Aries Point (all within one degree) is undeniably significant. Love and passion are most definitely in the air in an unusual way. The problem with that in our culture is that we have wrapped so many control dramas around what we call love and what we experience as sexuality that we usually need a therapist to get us through any experience of our energy rising one inch. So please don't panic. Just know a control drama when you see one -- and try to rise above it with the love in your heart and your desire to truly live. You can do it.

Astrologers not using the asteroids would get a similar message from Venus conjunct the Sun at the Equinox. Venus is in Pisces, her very best sign. And she is in late Pisces, full of mystery and wonder. This is definitely an archetype of the 'lost woman' or the 'true spirit of woman' who can stand with confidence in her femininity.

Mars in this chart corresponds with an interesting story: on the brink of transformation, about to go into Aquarius and make a conjunction to Chiron. The Mars-Chiron conjunction, which occurs once every two years, is one of those major events that most astrologers miss. It's a real turning point and this is the first time it's occurred in Aquarius since the early 1960s.

All in all, the cosmos offers us a rather dramatic equinox season, this year full of surprises, developments and changes that will, with the full power of Aries, really get us to question who we are and maybe even find an answer or two. Let's add some detail to the discussion.

On the day of the Vernal Equinox, Mercury stations retrograde in the middle of Aries. So for the first three weeks of spring, Mercury appears to be moving backwards, which it does three times a year. This time around, Mercury retrogrades nearly the way back to the Aries point, to within one degree. If the history of the Bush administration and the Iraq war are any indicators, we are in for some big developments as this station-direct occurs in the days following the solar eclipse. In a distinct way, this Mercury retrograde and the associated Aries eclipse amplify the message, 'We're all in this together'.

The message is further amplified by an eclipse of the Sun in Aries on April 8. Eclipses have a similar way of bringing in the masses and stirring up individual experiences, in a way similar to the Aries Point itself. So it fits right in with the pattern, particularly given that this eclipse is in Aries with so much other activity.

It is an annular (not annual, but rather annular) solar eclipse -- meaning that it would be a total eclipse, except that the Moon is a bit too far from the Sun to cover the disk of the Sun exactly. As the eons progress, we will have more and more annular eclipses. The Moon is slowly spiraling away from the Earth, making it appear astronomically smaller with each cycle. Eventually, there will be no more total eclipses; the entire phenomenon of a total eclipse is transient. And what they will be replaced by is annular eclipses -- so these are, in a sense, the eclipses of the future. And this one is a powerful image of the rebirth of the Sun, but a rebirth that lasts several weeks and will bring many changes, developments and revelations that teach us a lot about who we are.

This particular eclipse of the future happens in an exact conjunction with Venus in Aries. I am not sure how I feel about that; I need to give it some thought, but I will get back to you.

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Here are some of your questions for the week.

Mercury Retrograde at Birth

Hi Eric
Here's a question that has been bugging me for a while. I am a Gemini Sun with Mercury retrograde. Typically, I know when Mercury is retrograde, as communication gets all boggled up. Is it the reverse for me since I'm already 'in reverse'? Also, does the fact that my Sun is in Gemini play any particular role in relation to this since it is ruled by Mercury? I remember reading this somewhere and wonder your thoughts. Thanks for any insight you can provide.

Angie June 18, 1975 - 8:03 am
Petoskey, MI USA

Dear Angie,
Because you have Sun in Gemini, Mercury is definitely an important planet in your chart. It is what some call the 'ruling planet' of your Sun and its movements mark a big aspect of your identity. But I have a question for you, that's personal to your life. What happened, or what was happening with your family, when you were six years old? Here is why I ask. You were born six days before Mercury stationed direct. So that means that by what is called 'secondary progression', your sixth year of life was the year of the Mercury station. And the events of that year will give a big clue to the meaning and purpose of Mercury retrograde in your natal chart.

When a planet is retrograde in a natal chart, it is different than we experience that planet in real-time as a collective experience. Somewhere in the archives is a long response regarding natal retrograde planets, which I'll have a look out for and link to next week when I find it.

Remember: when it comes to natal interpretation, you need to go slowly, and work with a number of different theories, and test them carefully. You need to use your imagination; astrology is really a series of images that we experience and interpret. Retrograde planets in the natal chart are associated with references to the past -- or to internalizing the energy rather than expressing it freely; or both. I have noticed that they have three main associations.

1. A talent or skill we turned off or repressed so as not to threaten our primary caregivers. Often we are in some way more intelligent, aware or expressive than our parents or caregivers. Often, our these individuals lack the maturity to handle this, and kids, being highly sensitive (as a matter of survival) will respond and partially shut down or internalize their best qualities so that people don't freak out (in large or small ways).

2. Some kind of reference to a past life situation. Check the house and sign placement; check the houses that are associated with Gemini and Virgo. The retrograde planet can represent a past life skill, a debility, or a situation we need to work out in the current lifetime. It can represent a growth agenda. This theory is dependent on whether you accept the notion of reincarnation, and whether you think the natal chart has anything to say about it.

3. Something we do our own unique way that has little or nothing to do with the people around us. It is the way we march to the beat of our own drummer. This particular point can encompass both 1 and 2 above, but does not need to. The retrograde may just be a place we come from a distinct place inside.

I would create a bold theory here. Retrograde planets all function a little like Chiron. They have a kind of debility around which power and talent focus. They represent a place where we were hurt, held back, or challenged, and now must grow into our full strength. And they represent places in our chart of unusual individuality.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you can figure this all out in three minutes, but I do suggest that breaking out the old fashioned astrological analysis tools will get you a long way. The first one I thought of was looking up when Mercury stationed direct in your progressed chart.

In summary: describe the house and sign placement of Mercury. Describe the aspects Mercury makes. Say something about the houses where the cusps intersect Gemini and Virgo. As you do this, look for correspondences in your life on points 1, 2 and 3 above. Think of your parents and their personalities, and how they might have responded to your Mercury, were it direct and running at full broadcasting power.

Last, consider what you've learned from the fact that it's retrograde -- and what you've learned, in particular since the age of six.

Mercury is Always Retrograde

Hi Francis,
I'd be grateful for your insight on this. I have had nightmarish experiences with technical issues (website and email down for a week now) since Feb 28... three weeks before the retrograde actually starts. That's a very long shadow, indeed.

Does this mean that my issues will get worse from March 20-April 12??? Because I might jump off a cliff!


Hi Sabrina,
The most important thing you can do when Mercury is acting up is slow down and use your mind. One factor of Mercury retrograde is that one problem can lead to another. Another factor is that things can seem to go wrong or be broken that are not really wrong at all; it's a kind of illusion. So it really helps if we chill and, as calmly possible, assess the situation.

If I had to write a book or article on Mercury retrograde, it would be called, "Mercury is Always Retrograde." Mercury is the Trickster, and it's always playing games. These games are just a little harder to take during the retrograde, and that may have as much to do with our experience and perception as it has to do with what's going on. Mercury is after all the planet of the MIND.

It's retrograde three times a year for about three weeks, when it passes between the Earth and the Sun. Mercury moves faster than the Earth; so when it 'laps' us, that's the retrograde. Part of the effect may come from the simple fact that Mercury is close to us during the retrograde; all retrograde planets are closer to the Earth than direct ones. It's like we get their full-on energy, not deflected by the Sun.

During these phases, Mercury appears to be moving backwards, which is a visual illusion (that you cannot see, as Mercury is too close to the Sun to be visible during the retrograde), much the same as sitting on a train that's going slightly slower than the train outside the window, and you, or it, or something feels like it's in reverse.

Mercury retrograde is an illusion; but so too is the whole astrological effect, being broadcast into the larger illusion of the senses and the mind. By illusion, I don't mean 'not real' but rather borrowing great power from imagery, symbol, the imagination and the sensations of the mind. Yet there is an undeniable energetic factor; we may not be able to measure the energy, but we can observe it.

First I'll explain the definition of 'Mercury shadow' for those readers who might not be familiar with the term, which is a sub-topic of Mercury Retrograde. This term, as I understand it, was either devised or made popular by a very talented astrologer named Jim Shawvan. In any event he has done much to enhance our understanding of this phenomenon, but through all astrology, one must get the real lessons through experience and observation.

Astrologers measure the positions of the planets in degrees of longitude. The currently developing Mercury retrograde begins at 14 degrees of Aries and 5 arc minutes (i.e., in the 15th degree of that sign). Mercury holds something close to that position for about a week on either side of the exact station, on March 20, and then moves back to 1 degree and 45 minutes of Aries (i.e., in the 2nd degree), where it turns direct on April 12.

Before Mercury goes retrograde, it crosses that range of degrees moving in direct motion; then it stops and crosses them again (retrograde) and then it stops and crosses them a third time (in direct motion). Those first and third crossings are called 'Mercury shadow'. Shadow seems like a strange word. I don't know of a better one. But the definition of shadow phase is, "Any time Mercury is in the degrees of the retrograde, but moving direct."

When Mercury crosses into new territory, it has left shadow, and this phase lasts two months. Here is a little calendar that will list out the dates for you (as well as for the less-frequent Venus and Mars retrogrades that are coming later in the year).

In the week or so surrounding the exact station, we have what is called the 'Mercury storm'. These are times to be particularly aware and careful, as a very rapid shift of energy is taking place -- Mercury is changing directions faster than any planet could ever dream of. This shift can be put to good use, but it can also be catastrophic, so you need to be careful and conscious and play cautiously at first.

Now, to get to the point of your question, you're describing something that occurred long before the most recent Mercury shadow began, which I noticed as well. Everything has been a little weird since Mercury got to Pisces on Feb 17. Then it left Pisces March 5, crossed over the Aries point (big conjunction) and entered the shadow phase the same day. Mercury in Pisces can be pretty gosh darned freaking weird. Meaningful, but weird.

Now, let's be real here. Mercury is not known as the Trickster for nothing. Working with this energy is one of the most basic tactical field skills of an astrologer. We all have a lot to learn. Not everything goes wrong when Mercury is retrograde. Certain things go wrong and you're glad they did, because they flushed out the weakness in the system. Sometimes you find out something really, really interesting when Mercury goes retrograde. Sometimes you buy a top-end Marantz D4 portable taping unit during Mercury retrograde, it works pretty good, and then one day eight years later it disappears into thin air -- poof. I have a lot of Mercury retrograde stories and I am sure you do too. If you have any, please send them into the question email address; I will collect them for this column and for an article or other project called 'Mercury is Always Retrograde'.

Which it isn't, but hey what's a little joke between Tricksters.

And I do agree with the prevailing wisdom: hold off on signing major contracts unless you have to; and further, if you're rushing to get it done by the exact station retrograde, it probably doesn't need to get done early anyway, and you might have to do it twice. Mercury retrograde counsels patience, which is the last thing you might be able to muster -- but it will be worth it in the end. And as St. Augustine or someone said, "The reward of patience is more patience," but try telling that to an Aries!

Illinois Birth Time Mysteries

Hello Eric,
Iíve been a subscriber to your website and fan of yours for a couple of years. I just read your Q&Aís on Jonathan Cainerís site where I check in every week. I donít know if I have a clue as to why Andrea from Chicago had three astrologers wig out about her chart, but there is a synchronicity here that I wanted to share with you.

Like Andrea, I was born in Illinois during the 1950s (Sept. 2, 1955 at 10:23 am in Galesburg).

Iíve only been a student of astrology for 2-1/2 years or so. I had my first chart cast in 1980 when computer software was new. About 10 years ago I had a computer chart done by the Liz Greene organization. Almost a year ago I got access to the Solar Fire software. In all cases my chart came out with a Scorpio Ascendant. So Iíve been living life as a Scorpio.

On Last Monday nightís (March 7, 2005) Star Talkers radio show, Jeff Jawer and Rick Levine took a call from someone born in Chicago in the 50s. They explained that in the 50s, Illinois had a crazy law that required that hospitals record all births at CST -- even in the summer during daylight savings time. They asked the caller if his birth time was clock time or CST. He knew the answer because for a while he had it wrong. He said the first chart had a Leo ascendant, which never felt right and that the Virgo ascendant fit.

Naturally, I started researching my birth time. Fortunately, I have the family albums and my mother has a pretty good memory of our births. It became clear to me that the 10:23 am time is clock time, or CDT. I went back to the two old charts and -- voila! -- they were calculated in CST. I went into the ephemeris in Solar Fire and found no time zone listings for the 1950ís! It defaults to CST. (Solar Fire now gives me a warning when I enter a chart with these parameters).

It turns out I have a Libra Ascendant. It has been a funny feeling to switch over. Itís fun to have a whole new chart to explore. I like the new chart even though in some ways itís tougher than the first. Iím getting to the point where I am doing charts for family and friends and I think having had this experience will really help me in my interpretations. After all, I know from experience that we all have each of the sign energies in ourselves. With a Scorpio Ascendant or a Libra Ascendant -- Iím still me.

Maybe this doesn't help with answering Andreaís riddle, but it is a juicy coincidence to see that Andreaís birth time and place could put her in the same quandary.

Thanks for all you do, Eric. You are making the world wiser and more fun!


Dear Julia,
I just calculated your stated birth time in Io Edition (Time Cycles Research) for Macintosh, and the atlas returned Central Standard Time for your county in the summer of 1955, and gives you Scorpio rising. If we use daylight time -- which my atlas says was not in effect the summer of your birth -- we come up with Libra rising. So the real question does not involve the Illinois law alone, which I have confirmed (in Mercury Hour magazine and which was not necessarily followed everywhere!) was indeed in effect; it was; but rather, the real issue is whether the county of your birth was on CST or CDT the summer of your birth. And I get that Daylight Time was not in effect.

This does not make it true. Your family may remember differently. Their memory may be hazy or incorrect or correct. It was, after all, half a century ago (not to make you feel too old, how about, it was 1/20th of a millennium ago!) and you were being born, which was the bigger deal than Daylight Time. As you can see, getting certain facts straight can be challenging and requires devotion, thought and luck. But this fact can be researched, mainly through the county government. You were born in Knox County, Illinois; you might want to the County Clerk's office a call. It will be one of the more interesting calls they get that day. In olden times, some counties used daylight time and some did not, and some switched every few years. The world was not obsessed with perfect consistency like it is today.

The charts program I use utilizes the ACS Atlas -- reputed to be the best in the business, which software companies purchase and add to their own program. It was researched meticulously by Neil Michelson (author of the American Ephemeris). It's considered such a good atlas mainly because the team researched whether every one of the approximately 4,000 counties in the United States was or was not observing daylight time any given summer. It accounts for a variety of other changes, such as War Time (during WWII) and Oil Time (under the Carter administration). But think of it this way. The atlas would be useless otherwise.

And this atlas is telling me that the summer you were born, 'clock time' was Central Standard Time in your county. This leaves you with Scorpio rising. Are they correct? We need to fact check their work. Every time, with maybe one exception, that I have suspected the ACS Atlas of an error, I was the one who turned out to be wrong, so in my experience it's pretty dependable. However, I will place a call to them today and ask them what's up.

However, I suggest you look further into this matter with your local officials, while I will provide you with an alternate astrological theory that may account for your feeling of relief and shifting energy.

Let's presume you were born with Scorpio rising. This would be in the tropical system of the zodiac (described above in the intro), or what some call the Western horoscope. If we take your exact data and cast your chart in the Sidereal horoscope, the one used by Indian astrologers, your ascendant (like everyone's) goes back about 23 degrees. And that makes you Libra rising in the Indian or Vedic system.

This is a truly important chart from the Vedic standpoint, and I think for any student of astrology. It is your 'other chart'. When a person is about your age or maybe a little younger, the Vedic chart is the one that may begin to take precedence. It is somehow closer to the core of who we are. My old client, photographer (and amateur astrologer), the brilliant Billy Name, once described the difference between the two charts. He said that his Tropical chart was like a bright tattoo that faded from the time of his birth. But his Vedic chart was actually him, his actual skin.

So you may have taken the long way around to getting to your Vedic chart. This is, I feel, a necessary phase of (prolonged) exploration for anyone who takes astrology seriously enough to get their chart done in the first place. You will notice that not only the ascendant but many other planets change signs -- but they keep their original aspects, as their relative positions do not change. Here is your Vedic chart.

You will note that your Sun becomes Leo (more powerful, in its ruling sign) and your Saturn in the ascendant becomes Libra, which the Vedic astrologers just love. And you wind up with an Aquarius Moon, which I suggest you ponder for a few years and tell me if it's not a more accurate picture of who you are.

If you learn more about what was going on in Knox County, Illinois, at the time of your birth, please do let me know.

Spirituality v Materialism

Dear Eric
Please can you offer me some insight into my dilemma? I recently see the fruits of having raised daughter single-handedly. She is now nearly 23 years old, has turned out to be a most lovely person in her own right. In the early years of raising her I have worked voluntarily and dedicatedly in campaigns to change the world, and for the last almost 10 years I found my niche working in the outside world working as an alternative health practitioner. I ground myself in a daily spiritual practice which involves meditational movement and breathing and chikung exercises. For the past almost three years since Uranus conjoined my Jupiter-Venus conjunction in the 12th house I have been studying astrology.

My dilemma is that despite, or probably because of all this overemphasis on the Healing / Spiritual / Changing the World side of things, I have found myself faced with the total lack of a secure material base. I am plagued by things like the insecurity of still living in rented accommodation where I cannot control the kind of environment I feel I now need to be living in order to further develop the healing/spiritual important contribution I feel I still feel I have yet to make to the world. (I feel I would now like to write and publish meditative/spiritual poetry and images as well as continue to develop my healing profession). I would really appreciate your advice. Looking at my chart please can you tell me if you can see a focus for me to urgently address this material/spiritual imbalance in my life?

Thank you,
(Chart details: 5 AM 6 April 1950. Bridgwater, Somerset.)

Dear Alice,
I know many people who do quite well financially in the healing professions. I know fewer who succeed economically in the save-the-world department, but there are still some that I can name. I think the issue is likely to be less what you are doing, and more the approach you are taking.

I will make a few comments before even looking at your chart, which I will investigate in a moment. What follows is just horse-sense.

There are few theories loose about money and doing the right thing. Every now and then we hear from a placid, serene person who is doing exactly what they like the most, helping the world immensely, granting the interview from their sailboat, accompanied by the perfect life partner who has interesting things to add. More power to them.

However this can have two effects. One is to say that it's really possible. The other is to give a false impression that success, if you are spiritual, should somehow come easily. Not that it can; not that it must; but that it should. It gives the false impression that those who must exert effort are somehow wrong. And last, it suggests strongly that those in a 'spiritual' vocation don't have to stay up late figuring out how they are going to connect their services with their customers, in the most tangible, concrete ways.

And spiritual doesn't mean that there are not cycles of success, of confidence, and an odd quotient unique to each person that balances creative fulfillment and financial reward.

I am all for spiritual practice. But it is very different than business practice. And business practice is more than sending out resumes and handing out cards, but those things help. In some recent Planet Waves essays [parts one and two], I discussed the 6th and 10th houses at length. One thing I can tell you is that the 6th house requires enormous practice at one's craft, till it is one with your body; and the 10th requires seizing the reins of power in your own life, dealing with issues of power and responsibility, and working to spread your reputation for what you are really offering the world.

In short, success requires confidence in yourself. Yes, there are some people who find themselves standing on the world stage with zero confidence and they get it in the moment. Most do not; most people who succeed have worked to shore up their self-esteem, or renovate it all the way from the inside out.

One needs to charge enough for their work, and eliminate all traces of guilt about receiving compensation for what you do. And you need a business plan that it's best to go over with a businessperson -- of the ordinary non-spiritual variety.

And to some measure, success requires planning, patience and yes, luck. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, so there is a lot you can do in the meantime. As for your chart.

Alice's chart

I would say that you have the obsession with service thing going (Pluto in the 6th house) and you definitely have more of the spiritual type of energy than the 'go for it!' energy. You are capable of work, but you're way way way idealistic. That can help you -- but only if you put it to work for you. I speak in particular of a Sagittarius Moon (not a problem in itself, but just very idealistic) semi-square (read: hidden square) to Neptune. Neptune is itself exactly -- exactly -- opposite the Sun. My dear, you need grounding if you want to succeed in the very earthly, mundane, Capricornesque world of business.

In fact, there is plenty in your chart that says you need a month or two of experience selling vacuum cleaners. Have you considered that? Sign up with Kirby or Rainbow and knock on doors. Take their classes and read about selling. I am only half kidding. I think you need to acquire the most basic, bare bones, down to Earth skills of management, development and selling.

When designing your products or services, start with a NEED in society -- not with what you have to offer. Identify a need, and then ask, "How can I fulfill that?" I know this sounds backwards and kind of un-spiritual, but then, could there be something more meaningful than fulfilling a need that the world has?

It might work a lot better. You're a hard worker, you can focus if you need to, and you can be very convincing. Put these things to work, as part of a tactical plan, and build your financial house one brick at a time. Soon enough you will be able to live in it.

PS, hey, I missed something obvious. You said 'materialism'. Are you a little based against food and the rent? That's not materialism, that's eating and having a nice place to live. I suggest you have a quick review of your beliefs around that stuff. As long as you consider having house keys materialistic, and have some judgments around materialism, you might not get where you need to be.

Void of Course Moon

Dear Eric
Please help me understand what's okay and what's not okay to do during a Moon Void of Course.

I've read not to start any new activities during those hours, but just what does that mean? Here's an example: When I go to the dentist, does that activity begin when I make the appointment? When I arrive at the dentist's office? When he starts to drill?

And if I make an important decision during the Moon Void of Course, is my decision certain to fail? Thanks.


Dear Gail,
There are different theories and levels of intensity that astrologers put around the void of course Moon. And what you do with the information depends on the extent to which you want to involve yourself planning your life around astrology. Some people are meticulous about it. Others, including certain very famous unmentionable celebrity astrologers, love to play fast and loose -- and they do well. But you have to factor in how they have the 'feel' for things when they seemingly throw the dice around odd astrology.

First a definition. The Moon is void when it's not making any new aspects to other planets or the Part of Fortune prior to entering a new sign. That means, when the Moon is in the last 10 degrees of a sign, check and see what aspects it's going to make to other bits out there. But then there is the question: what is an aspect? Do noviles count? Do sesquisquares? How about quindeciles? (The old rules say you use major aspects, but William Lilly liked semi-sextiles, for example.)

The next question is: what is a planet? Zane Stein, one of the Chiron guys, said that if the Moon was applying in an aspect to Chiron and nothing else, it was still void of course.

There is a simpler way to do this. Learn to follow the ephemeris well enough to make sure the Moon is doing something you like when you want to do something meaningful. Look at the aspects and learn to feel them. Experiment and see what happens.

I would want a half-decent Moon for a dental appointment. I would want it trine or sextile something, not square it, for example. And I would use the time of the appointment itself to plan the electional chart, were I to do something -- and assuming the office cooperated. Medical and surgical electional charts are quite challenging, complicated and they can be VERY important, in my view, and having done them for myself as well.

Also note: the Moon is not really void up to one hour AFTER most date books tell you it is (sometimes less, sometimes more). The Moon remains IN ASPECT for the duration of being in the same degree as the other planet; then it disengages and gets ready to change signs. There are some activities it feels good and is traditionally sanctioned to do with a v/c Moon -- like walking in the woods, therapy, writing or taking a nap. Sometimes I find that I've had a really unproductive morning or afternoon and I look and the Moon was v/c. It would have made more sense to take a walk.

There is more to say, but I'm about all written out for the week!

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Planet Waves Weekly is the only place online to get the weekly horoscope of Eric Francis, both emailed and posted to the Web each Friday. The Friday mailing comes with a weekly birthday report. Plus, there is a Monday mailing of a bonus horoscope. Keep up with Eric's essays on astrological developments, chart reading techniques, Tarot cards, and world affairs. Experience Eric's unique perspective as an astrologer-investigative reporter. Read more than two yeas of archives of essays and horoscopes. Planet Waves Weekly is about to add a daily astrology feature that will describe how to make the most of the energy of the day. And all subscribers get free access to Bridge to the Core, the 2005 annual pages. We invite you to look around and become one of many satisfied readers of Eric's daring and innovative astrology journal.

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