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Election: I used astrology to decide when to travel
here's how my use of electional astrology went
Electional astrology, also known as inceptional astrology, is the astrology of choosing, or electing, the best time to begin things, the inception. The chart of the time and date of the inception, or beginning, of an event is what electional astrologers judge. Historically, court astrologers practiced this to choose the best times to go to war, erect buildings, and embark on long voyages.
I’ve used electional astrology in my professional work, electing wedding times and business opening dates. In my personal life I use it sparingly, mostly when I want things to go as best as possible (i.e. when to hit “send” or choose times for long trips). Most recently I elected a chart to begin a complicated trip from Berlin to the US, where I’ll stay for a longer time than usual.
I am writing from the end of a three flight itinerary to get from Berlin to New Orleans, traveling with a friend, who was open to leaving for the airport hours earlier than necessary for the sake of astrology. It’s wise to get to the new Berlin airport extremely early anyway, since it is so poorly designed that people miss their flights. I elected a time that was two hours earlier than necessary anyway, meaning I was at the airport for four hours before my flight, instead of the regular two.
Astrologers define the beginning. There’s the creation and then there’s the release, the conception and then the birth, the commute and then the flight, the paperwork, the event. All times can be carefully elected, but the origin trumps all.
When do journeys begin? The moment the plane takes off is not the original point of departure. I’ve been told it’s when you walk out the door. I began planning this trip as soon as the tickets were purchased. I did make sure to purchase the tickets before Mercury stationed retrograde, however, Mercury was stationary, sitting still in the sky and not budging, regardless of direction. This emphasizes the delays and confusion I’ve been experiencing related to organizing this trip since the moment I pressed “purchase” on the tickets in January. Even before the flights, things were not running perfectly smooth. In hindsight, it is possible that the purchase of the ticket was the inception of the trip.
According to 13th century Italian astrologer Guido Bonatti, the goal of an election is to make the best as best as possible. There will always be challenges to mitigate. A “perfect” chart only exists in myth. The elected chart should be judged alongside a natal chart, too. He quotes some proverb, “It’s better to eat crickets than to eat nothing.” If a natal chart is afflicted, then maybe the best result possible is simply crickets for dinner! Let’s not feel so doomed here. Personally, I believe everything in a natal chart can be worked through with consciousness.
The ultimate goal of choosing a time to begin things is to play up the good, working with the cards that are dealt. An astrologer looking at a chart from a purely technical perspective can come up with something that is objectively as astrologically auspicious as possible.
I believe the chart that I elected will cover the life of the entire journey, as well everything that happens during and after because of it. In this writing I will walk you through my process, and tell the story of how the chart played out in real life. My top priorities with this trip include: to make all of my flights on time (I booked with three different airlines so if one flight was too delayed or canceled, then I would need to buy many tickets again), travel peacefully with a partner, and to be as least stressed as possible (I am naturally very stressed, so maybe this is an “eat crickets” situation).
For a “distant journey” chart a few things needed to be considered:
Always, the first house and the planet ruling it is the individual and how they will experience the election.
The 9th house (9H) is the house of long journeys and faraway travel. This house, and the planet ruling it (L9 or lord of the 9th house), should be in top shape if the journey is to go smoothly. In ancient times these elections were especially important for people traveling by boat, exposed to the elements. I could have made this house stronger in my election, but it would compromise other priorities.
Since I am traveling with a partner, I wanted to pay special attention the 7th house of relationships (7H), and its planetary ruler (L7) as well. This will reflect the way that they experience the journey. Since they are my guest and traveling far away from home for the first time, I wanted them to feel comfortable and safe.
Apart from houses, some planets to consider in traveling:
Jupiter is the planet of distant travels, and the most positive planet in a day chart. The quality and placement of Jupiter in this election took priority, because it’s also in good condition in Pisces, its home sign.
The moon, finding its joy in the 3rd house (3H), corresponds with short trips.
Like the moon, Mercury moves quickly between the planets, giving it “travel” significations. It’s the sun chariot. Mercury can help with commutes and trips, too, but also can determine paperwork and mentality.
Having experienced the intense travel delays of my elected chart, I wonder if the first, unelected chart could have somehow fated a smoother journey since the 9H looks so juicy. I know this is not a rational thought and the logic behind it is something that people in togas would discuss.
Here’s what the chart of departure would have looked like if I didn’t step in:
It had the sun in the 9H, the place of its planetary joy, ruled by Jupiter, the planet of distant travels, with Jupiter also in the 9H. This is a great chart for travel, which elected itself! The 9H is in fantastic shape. But… it shows some aggravation in relationships.
Aggressive Mars, the planet of separation, is the malefic out of sect. It is the most challenging planet in a day chart, technically. This is the planet we want to play down or mitigate, while still playing up the benefic of sect (Jupiter in a day chart). Mars is in an angular house— not just any angular house, but the 7th house of partnerships. Angular houses are most active or prominent in a chart. I think this chart has potential for fighting, annoyance, or even separation in relationships.
I also was a little unsure of the moon, the L1 (lord of the 1st house), being in the place of its antithesis (opposite the sign of its exaltation, giving it connotations of being out of place). I feel like this could have played up sad memories of not fitting in. Alternately it could materialize some of my creative career ambitions, as the moon in this chart is conjunct my natal Mars/Mercury/Mc. But, I am a Libra and wanted my travel buddy to be safe and happy.
There were only a few different rising signs that I could choose to embark on this trip and still keep up my appearance as a sane person. This is the chart I elected:
I settled on Gemini rising, with L1/L4, Mercury, in the 9H of distant travels, and Jupiter, the L7/L10 and benefic of sect, angular to the ascendant, showing this journey as an event that brings success to my relationships and career. Out of all available, sane times, this made the best chart for relationships, and shows potential for career growth. However, the distant traveling part of the elected chart is proving to be malfeasant, which I’m blaming on a malefic in the 9H.
I thought that Saturn being the malefic of sect, wouldn’t hurt too bad, especially since it’s the ruler of my natal chart’s 1H. I was mistaken. Maybe next time I will avoid all malefic planets, not just those out of sect.
The 9H in my elected chart is in pitiful shape. Literally every single flight was delayed. All three. Mercury copresent (in the same sign) with Saturn. Saturn is slow and represents failure… Saturn ruling the 9H shows delayed flights, especially with Mercury. Saturn and Mercury are square Uranus, the planet of the unexpected. There have been a lot of unexpected delays.
I did, however, to my credit, manage to be as punctual as I could. I have a reputation for missing my flights. Mercury with Saturn reflects that I took the information written on boarding passes and itineraries very seriously, for once in my life. I actually paid attention to the time the gate closed, the time bag drop off ended, the time that I needed to be out the door in order to stay true to the election.
I was focused (Mercury in fixed sign Aquarius) and all of my delays were from faults outside of my own. This lines up with my birth chart, since I am in my Saturn return. I even said “I am grown up now,” because I was astonished that I decided not to stand in line at Starbucks when there were only 10 minutes before the gate closed. Pre-Saturn return Randon would have held up a flight for a Pink Drink™️.
Having required travel between New Orleans and New York for my entire teen and adult life, I must have missed about 50% of all flights since 2008, originally because I wanted to be with my friends and family in New Orleans before returning to doomed Long Island, where I’d be grounded and socializing with BMW owning teenagers who think Billy Joel is cool. My protests taught me that there’s always another flight. As I got older I didn’t miss flights on purpose, but always remained unfazed when my blasé blasé gave me a delay. I still don’t think it’s a big deal to miss flights, but I couldn’t really afford to miss this one…. I mean… I could… I wouldn’t die. It would just be incredibly expensive. The stakes were higher. Saturn is awareness of consequences, gravity, a debt.
The flight from Berlin to Paris, which we arrived four hours early for, was delayed 30 minutes due to weather. This delay meant that once we landed, we only had a 30 minute window to de-board, pick up baggage, and make it to the other terminal to check the baggage into a new airline. I was frazzled. Mercury, L1, applying to a square to Uranus is not great for peace of mind, but I somehow made it work through prayer (Jupiter square ascendant), which helped me to “accept the things I can’t change”. There was clearly not enough time, but I made it work. There was jogging involved, to my embarrassment. Even though I have Mars on my natal midheaven I refuse to run in public, it’s undignified.
The line for customs was almost an hour long, which I believe was because the French were on strike, as they are known to do. The airport appeared momentarily understaffed. This is very Saturn square Uranus (workers fighting for revolution), and reflected in the 9H of travels, ruled by Saturn. Luckily the airport staff handled the situation gracefully and made sure that the group of 20 passengers in line for customs to get to their flight from Paris to New York were not going to miss it. The flight was delayed due to this.
On the flight from Paris to New York, our neighbor (also represented by the 9H, the derivative 3H of neighbors from the 7H of partnerships, the person sitting next to my partner on the plane), was not having a great time. They were extremely stressed out, and made sure everyone heard, both in line for customs and on the flight itself. They spoke to the manager at one point. They were friendly, and generous towards us, though vocally complained about everything possible. It was remarkable. Mercury is in its terms here. Hopefully this “neighbor” thing isn’t an issue for the rest of the trip!
When we landed in New York for our overnight layover, my cat sitter sent me messages saying he was locked out from my flat. He had a bad experience with my neighbor (3H from the 7H, now representing his experience of the neighbors), who rudely shut the shutters on him when he asked them to let him in. I am praying for them to say the least. I accidentally gave him the wrong key to the front door (Mercury is keys, square Uranus, which destabilizes). I became very panicked trying to figure out the best solution. A more generous neighbor stepped in and helped, saving the day.
Even though the L4, the house of home and resting, is also this wacked out Mercury in Aquarius, the airport hotel was solid! There was a deep element of nostalgia for both of us at this hotel. My friend said the smell reminded them of their hometown, where they left at age 4. For me it was exactly like the hotel my mom worked at, where I spent a lot of time as a child. It must have been part of the same franchise.
The moon is the sentimental “planet” of memories. My natal moon falls in the angular 1H of this chart. My friend’s moon is in the angular 4H of this chart, which represents the deep past and childhood. The moon of this chart is conjunct my natal midheaven, an angle representing prominence (I’m publicizing this entire experience…). I anticipate the locations of this trip being full of nostalgia, both during and after.
We arrived to the airport for our flight from New York to New Orleans on time, but were still crunched for time due to crowds at the airport. Once we boarded the plane, the flight was (you guessed it) majorly delayed. We’re on the plane now, and our neighbors are much cooler. I think this is reflected in the timing. The flight is happening during the day, and Saturn in a day chart is not going to close the shutters on you or feel personally attacked by every minor inconvenience. We still haven’t even landed in New Orleans yet, and we haven’t returned back to Berlin either, but I feel a better sense of what I can expect on this trip.
Everything that happens, and has happened, from the elected inception until infinity writes the story. May I employ the gravity and grace of this illustration for the sake of freedom above all things.
We landed in New Orleans safely, and are staying at my stepmom’s apartment. At night there was another problem related to neighbors. I knocked on the door to get hot sauce and was yelled at by an unexpectedly grumpy and angry voice! In this case the neighbor of my stepmom, the 3rd house from the 7th, represents a signature of the election I keep running into— grumpy neighbors at night. Luckily a friendly neighbor intervened, invited me inside, and loaned me some hot sauce. Apparently for every grumpy neighbor, there’s a kind one, too.
Edited on Thursday Feb 24 to correct Mars is out of sect in a day chart, and Saturn of sect.