Years ago I was chatting with a friend who worked in a metaphysical bookstore, and he dragged me over to the wall to view a horoscope posted on a bulletin board. It was the birth-chart for the bookstore, and he smiled as he showed me the time of birth—midnight. The owners of the bookstore had opened their establishment at the witching hour, not because they belonged to a coven, but because, as astrologers, they wanted a good chart for their new business, and the midnight birth time gave them Jupiter, planet of luck, right at the Midheaven, point of ultimate career success. Jupiter at the top of the chart is a good thing, and it augurs particularly well for a business chart.
People study astrology for one main reason. We want to know what’s going to happen. By learning to decode astrological symbolism, we can make sense of the past, project that information into the future, and feel a sense of power. We know what’s coming next. Life isn’t as scary when you have that sort of heads-up.
But then, what follows from that? If you know what sort of events might occur as a result of certain planetary pictures, the temptation is obvious. Why not wrest the controls of life out of the hands of blind fate and back where they belong—into your own grasp. So those bookstore astrologers began casting charts into the future until they found a good day, then tweaked the time until the birth-chart seemed destined for success.
Creating a new endeavor via astrological timing isn’t a very complicated matter. You give birth to an entity that has its own energy. Of course, we could also say that maybe they—however many partners there were—should have also looked at the transits to their individual charts in order to determine how propitious a time it was for embarking on a new business, as well as at how their charts combined in order to see if they made a good team. Perhaps they did! In any case, that would make choosing a time much more complicated.
In the case of the bookstore, they had complete freedom. They could choose any day of the week they wanted as well as any time of day. Chances are they didn’t have customers lining up around the block that fateful midnight, but, nevertheless, it was the birth date of the new business. In a situation like that, with complete freedom to choose date and time, it’s very easy to maximize on astrological symbolism and to choose the best possible chart.
So, for example, suppose you wanted to begin writing a book. I’ve done that, but I’ve never used astrology to time the first moment I typed my opening sentence. I just sat down when I was ready and did it. But that’s my nature—I tend to just let things happen and to do things when the spirit moves me. That’s not a bad way to live
because often you’re acting upon the wave of those good transits of which you want to avail yourself anyway. But if you really wanted to do that sort of thing, you could. You could cast some charts for the best time to begin a creative endeavor and make a pact with yourself to begin at that time, even if it was at 3 A.M. on a Tuesday. Of course, you might also want to look at the transits to your horoscope to determine if writing were a favored pursuit at the time in which you planned to start. This, however, is a minor example, because nobody really worries that much about starting a writing project or when to pick up the knitting needles for that new sweater.
An event that is worth considering is the purchase of a car. A client contacted me about her new car purchase because Mercury was retrograde and she was wondering if that would be a bad time to make the buy. Mercury retrograde is one of the most interesting of astrological phenomena, not primarily because of the effects it causes but because of the superstition associated with it. It seems that everyone has heard of Mercury retrograde and is terrified it will inflict havoc on every area of their lives. Will it? No, not really.
Mercury is the planet of communication, and, although Mars is the planet of action, Mercury is about movement and travel, so cars have some connection to this energy. The God Mercury is the one with winged ankles—we can pretty well assume he traveled on foot, not in a Lamborghini. But what does the process of buying an automobile consist of? First of all there is thought and vision, a Mercury thing. We think, “Ohh, I need a new car.” Then there is the vision of us tooling along in said vehicle, its shiny new paint glinting in the sun. So the initial desire lies in the province of Mercury and we would want a reasonable image. For example, I love those new SUVs. I like the way they’re all square and boxy and how they have all that room. I could easily envision myself in one. But, to be frank, I’m not that great a driver. I need a car with a low center of gravity, and one that doesn’t require a tank of gas to get to the supermarket. So in my case I’d want Mercury to be working well for me to make a reasonable first vision of what I truly need.
The second step in buying a car is the test drive, and even with Mercury retrograde, you can pretty well assume you’re going to navigate acceptably well along the one-mile radius of the showroom. But then comes the negotiation and the contract, and those things are definitely Mercury, so it made sense to wait until this little stellar glitch ended. This is another situation in which the car buyer has total control. Even if you urgently needed a car today, you could opt to rent one for a few days until Mercury went direct.
Amore serious situation arose when a pregnant client asked me to help choose the birth date for her child who was to be delivered by Caesarian. This was a big and scary responsibility, and I wasn’t sure I wanted it. It can be quite scary to “mess with Mother Nature!” But I began looking at approaching dates within the timeframe and came up with the date and approximate time that looked the happiest. I gave the client a breakdown of each of the possible dates and what sort of person her new child might be as a result, along with my suggestion about which was the nicest date.
In this situation, there were constraints. We couldn’t choose a weekend date because the doctor didn’t work on the weekend. Ditto the evening. Sometimes I wonder if Caesarians are done nowadays to facilitate doctor’s golfing commitments rather than mothers’ health! So we hit upon a date that was reasonable for the doctor’s schedule, or we thought we did. My advice to the client was just to tell the doctor that this was the day she wanted—and not to give in. He didn’t have to know why she wanted this date or that astrology was involved. But the client didn’t have the will to fight the doctor and the child was born on one of the dates I liked less well.
People have often asked me if a child born via Caesarian section has that artificial date as a genuine birth date, and the answer is yes, that’s when the child was born. There are all sorts of agreements made under the surface at a psychological/karmic level and one of those impels the doctor to deliver the child when the right time for that particular child has arrived. That spirit—the one who will inhabit that child’s body—is aware in advance of when the birth time will be and in agreement with it. In the case of this client, it made total sense why the baby was born on a less astrologically benign date. The client had a difficult chart, as did her husband and her older child. The new child was meant also to have a difficult horoscope—they had karmic issues as a family and they fit together. So in this case Mother Nature won out, and it was probably all for the best.
Part of the issue in using astrology to plan events is the level of power you genuinely have. In the case of the expectant mother above, she had little power indeed, which wasn’t surprising, as that was one of the issues in her horoscope. There is usually some degree of compromise necessary. Say we were planning a charity ball. We would clearly need a weekend evening, but chances are we could choose a Friday or a Saturday. As it would be a charity event rather than a personal one, we wouldn’t have to concern ourselves with transits to any individual’s chart, although we might want to look at the transits to the charity’s chart. Even if the charity were going through a difficult time, there would be relatively little to worry about. The event could be poorly attended, I suppose, but it’s not as though that single event would in any way define the course for the future of that entity—in this case the charity.
So, in planning this charity ball, what aspects might we look for? The bookstore’s idea of having Jupiter at the Midheaven is a good one, because that blesses the event with both luck and generosity, with a sense of patronage and happiness. A combination of Jupiter plus the Sun, perhaps also plus Venus, could be quite nice too. Now, obviously we can’t assume there could be a conjunction at any given moment. Jupiter is in mid-Leo at this very moment, so as it is October when I am writing this, I’d have no possibility of finding a conjunction to either the Sun or Venus until summer. But we could look for a trine or a sextile, and that too would be nice. Today, as I write, Mars is in Libra, making a trine to Neptune, planet of music, and that could be nice, plus with the planet of action in the sign of socializing and relationships, it leads to a cordial good time. But we realize something—if we’re planning a charity ball, we can’t plan today for a party in a day or two. We have to look a bit into the future. We could say, okay, the holiday season is coming up and on one of those weekends, on the way to Thanksgiving or Christmas, people might like to raise champagne glasses and pledge some money to a good cause. Or we might worry that family obligations would prevent solid attendance. Astrology could help with these issues, but it would really be just an advisor. As board members on the charity in question, we’d know our membership and their habits and could predict without astrology what general time of year would be good. Then astrology could refine it further and help select the best weekend for the event.
Generally speaking, for a happy event I wouldn’t necessarily want a Moon-Saturn aspect because that is not particularly light, carefree, or joyous. In the case of a charity, a trine or sextile wouldn’t be such a terrible thing. For example, years ago here in Los Angeles, a charity raised a bunch of money for world hunger. They did something quite dramatic. The A-list guests arrived and were given numbered tickets. Based on this lottery system, a small percentage dined elegantly on gourmet food, symbolizing the percentage of wealthy people in the world. A far greater number sat on the floor and were fed cups of plain rice, symbolizing the numbers of underfed across the globe. And some were fed nothing at all, to symbolize the truly hungry. In the case of a dramatic presentation such as this, a Moon-Saturn aspect would help point out the need in the world, but you wouldn’t need such an aspect to have a successful event. You might even have a difficult Pluto transit, which would give the event more of a sense of reality, but that could backfire as the planet of manipulation could make the deep-pocketed guests feel put-upon rather than generous.
This past spring a special event happened in my own family. My daughter got engaged to her longtime, live-in boyfriend, and she indicated a summer 2003 marriage date was the plan, and it was up to me to choose a good date for the wedding. Well, leaping lizards! Holy, buxom bridesmaids! This was the ultimate challenge in scheduling an event astrologically. I was terrified.
The question was this: Just how serious is the wedding date and what does it mean to the couple? Is that wedding chart going to define their entire marriage, whether it lasts or fizzles, produces little grandchildren I can babysit, or screaming matches I won’t want to witness? The only true answer is yes and no. Maybe if Xandy and Steven had never met until the day of some sort of archaic arranged marriage, and that was the true beginning of their connection, then the wedding chart would be the sine qua non of their life as a couple. But they had been a couple for a while, so there were more factors to consider. But when I resurrected the chart of my own long-ago marriage, I could see quite clearly that the chart described a relationship that really did match what I had experienced. So a marriage chart is a valid entity and does draw a picture of what that union will be like. Some astrologers say that the marriage chart goes into effect and then nullifies the chart that preceded it—in this case the one from when they first began living together and sharing life as a couple.
I took some time first to look at their individual charts to see in a general way what transits would be hitting them in the summer of 2003. Steven, who was born in 1971, had an easier time, as he has already passed his Saturn return. That summer shows Jupiter transiting his seventh house of partnerships, always a good thing. Saturn would still be transiting his fifth house of romance and children, but this is not a bad thing, as it often indicates a desire to get serious about love and make a commitment. I was a little concerned because Neptune, planet of confusion, was hovering at his Ascendant then, but this is a long transit, and will last years. In addition, Uranus, planet of chaos, transits the first as well, so we can assume Steven is going through some ups and downs, but as they are part of a longer bit of energy, sometimes you just have to say, okay, roll with the punches. Pluto will soon be moving out of his tenth house and that can only be good for his career, and as a future mother-in-law, I say a quiet “Yay!”
Xandy’s chart had me more worried. Summer 2003 will bring her Saturn return. All her life I’ve told her, wait until after your Saturn return to marry. The Saturn return is the time at which the planet of karma works its way back in the sky to the exact point it occupied at your birth, usually at approximately twenty-nine-year intervals. But September 11th had just happened, and Xandy had adopted a carpe diem mentality. She would marry in 2003, just at the time of her Saturn return; she wouldn’t wait. This isn’t always a bad thing, because Saturn tends to nudge us toward what we should do. At the first Saturn return, we realize it’s time to be an adult and opt to embrace what’s good for us in the future and to release that which is just a lingering remembrance of childhood. That’s why so many teen brides divorce at this fateful moment. In addition to the Saturn return, Uranus will just have entered her seventh house. My feeling is that planets of upheaval create more chaos just as they enter a new house. Once they’ve been there for a while, it’s still ups and downs, but not as extreme. It’s hard to see how finally marrying someone with whom you’ve lived for several years will change your life so drastically, but there are usually events associated with Uranus, so we shall see what occurs.
Neptune is still floating around in the middle of her sixth house of day-to-day responsibilities at work, and Pluto is in the middle of her fourth house of mother and home. Assuming that she doesn’t work me to death over this wedding, those planets will probably cause no grief. Transiting Pluto will be squaring her natal Jupiter, a seventh-house planet, and that could cause dramatic effects. One such imaginable result is that she, at the last minute, meets someone else and runs off with him instead. It’s possible, but she is a Cancer and pretty loyal. It could also be growth to their mutual business involvements. There’s never one and only one outcome to any transit. There are just waves of energy, as described by astrological phenomena, and it’s wise to realize that many possibilities could emerge. In any case, we can all agree that the transits to her chart are more volatile.
It made sense to look at the general transits first, but not to try to refine a marriage date based on transits to either of their natal charts or the composite chart. (A composite is a chart erected from the midpoint of each of the elements in the two individual charts. The midpoint of the two Suns becomes the composite Sun; the midpoint of the two Moons becomes the composite Moon, and so on. It’s a chart that describes what the relationship is all about and how the two people interact.) The thing to do next was to look at the possible dates to see what sort of energy was available. I had visions of beautiful aspects, the Moon plus Venus, Mars plus Jupiter, the Sun in a nice place, happy trines, Saturn offering subtle support—basically the sort of perfection at which angels weep.
Here is where reality intrudes upon astrology. The kids were getting married and I didn’t have the freedom of trying to pick a date for an astrological bookstore. They could wed on a Tuesday at midnight, maybe, but they sure couldn’t have a family wedding then. If we were going to avoid nuptials blessed by a Las Vegas Elvis impersonator, we would have to have the wedding on a Saturday night so out-of-town guests could arrive and attend. These are the limitations you have to face when planning special events. But, okay, that’s life, and the summer is long, so, hey, we’d probably have tons of great Saturdays from which to choose. And there was also the issue of time. We could have an afternoon wedding if we wanted to, which we didn’t, but we couldn’t plan the ceremony for 10:00 P.M. because that’s just too late. Once again, more constraints supplied by reality. Still, what was there, maybe twelve or thirteen Saturdays in summer 2003? There had to be a bunch of good ones. So let’s start at the beginning and see what we find.
June 7. It would be cool and pleasant with ocean breezes and a little mist. That sounded positive. Venus in Taurus—it’s nice when the planet of love is in a compatible sign and also nice that on that day it’s conjunct Mercury. Mars (action, sex) is in the egalitarian sign Aquarius, widely conjunct Uranus (eccentricity) in Pisces. Would that mean the marriage would be plagued by temper tantrums? Those kids are volatile enough already! But the real deal-breaker was the Sun—in Gemini, in opposition to domineering Pluto and making a T-square to the Moon in Virgo. That sounded not only like strife and power struggles but surly waiters as well. Not only did we want to choose a time that would create a positive marriage chart, but we needed one that at least indicated a nice party.
Fast-forward seven days to June 14 and what do we find? The Sun is still widely opposed Pluto—more power struggles—but the Moon is in Capricorn, in opposition to Saturn. When the planet of limitations opposes the Moon, there are emotional issues, timing issues, and sometimes even fertility issues. We didn’t want that. Besides, Moon opposite Saturn isn’t good for socializing either, so who wants dried-out entrees and late officiants at a wedding?
Next we look at June 21, and by then the Sun is in Cancer, conjunct Saturn, which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing for a marriage because it indicates responsibility, stability, and longevity. But where is the Moon? In Aries, squaring the Sun-Saturn combo. I didn’t want a Moon-Saturn aspect for my daughter’s wedding! Moon in Aries is considered not a bad thing, because it’s a fertile sign, but somehow it seemed to me that it’s not really a partnership Moon, and that would be a better thing.
June was nearly over, and the dates looked dismal. I began to worry and pointed out to Xandy that this is what happens when you don’t listen to your mother. Although I felt it might be okay that she marry at Saturn-return time, we had to face the fact that when you do opt to do that, there are limitations, delays, and frustrations in the process itself. Details have to be nudged, labored over, whined about; they don’t just fall into place.
Having said my piece, I moved forward in time. June 28, the last Saturday in June. It contained a large stellium, or cluster of planets, lined up like a row of dominoes, each one conjunct the next, starting with Venus at 23˚ Gemini, the Moon at 29˚ Gemini, Mercury at 29˚ Gemini, Saturn at 3˚ Cancer, the Sun at 7˚ Cancer. With Pluto at 18˚ Sagittarius, it made an opposition to Venus, and, by association, the whole shebang. And, with the approximate 6:00 P.M. marriage time, Pluto was pretty close to the Ascendant of the chart. My feeling was that it was nice to have that large cluster in the seventh house of marriage, and Venus with Moon and Mercury and the Sun. Well, that’s all pretty nice, but with Pluto dominating the first, there would be a constant series of power struggles in every aspect of the relationship. It wasn’t a terrible date, but it wasn’t a good one either. So we moved forward into July.
The first Saturday was the 5th, and that wasn’t a bad idea. It was a holiday weekend and people would have extra time off, more time for travel and vacation, plus there would be fireworks on that weekend and who can say no to that? But it wasn’t to be—Venus was in Cancer that day—excellent for love and for those grandchildren I want, but it was conjunct Saturn. Venus conjunct Saturn isn’t a terrible thing, especially in a marriage chart. It indicates mutual karma to be worked out, a sense of belonging, a reason to be together as well as a relationship that lasts a while. It’s often a feature in composite charts of couples. The real deal-breaker came from the Moon, very late in Virgo and about to enter Libra, making a square to the Venus-Saturn combo.
By July 12, even though I was still looking at an approximate 6:00 P.M. timeframe, Pluto had moved out of the first house into the twelfth, which, although considered the house of hidden enemies, still seemed like a better thing to me. Remember, Venus moves relatively rapidly, being one of those small, inner planets, but it only moves about a degree a day, compared to Saturn, which moves much more slowly. The Venus-Saturn conjunction was still in effect, but it was at a lesser degree—the two planets now being five degrees apart. I still didn’t like it, but, once again, the deal-breaker came from the Moon, in Capricorn, opposing Venus-Saturn. Wow! What were the odds that every single Saturday would feature mostly bad Moon-Saturn contacts? I had no idea, but that Las Vegas Elvis wedding was beginning to have some appeal. The kids were nagging me—where was the date—as I laboriously pored over all those charts.
On July 19, Venus is now conjunct the Sun, which is excellent, and at 6:00 P.M. the two planets are in the seventh house, along with Saturn. I would generally rather not have Saturn in that house because it will just serve to emphasize whatever issues of compromise must be faced. Mars was now seven degrees away in its conjunction with Uranus, and, in my opinion, the farther, the better. But once again, the Moon, now in Aries, made a wide square to Saturn as well as a square to the Sun-Venus combo. Moon square Venus isn’t such a bad thing—it can be an excess of love or too many sweet treats, but Sun square Moon in a relationship chart isn’t something you want because there are basic strifes and a difficulty in maintaining a happy partnership at home, while working or just in general. Someone wants one thing while the partner wants another.
On July 26, the Sun and Venus were still conjoined, and Mercury was conjunct Jupiter, which was wonderful for a pair of writers, but at 6:00 P.M., the Moon was conjunct Saturn, hovering at the Descendent of the chart. We couldn’t have that. The summer was fast waning, and I was getting more and more stressed. What if I couldn’t find a good date? Could I let the kids marry on one of those dates I disliked and then worry for the rest of my short life about their welfare? I shuddered! And on a grander level, was every marriage made in 2003 going to fizzle because of all those nasty Saturday nights? We moved into August.
On August 2, a good thing happened. We were still looking at 6:00 P.M., but by then Saturn was moving its way down into the sixth house. The Sun and Venus were conjunct in Leo, which is nice for children and general happiness. The Mars-Uranus conjunction was getting tighter again, due to a Mars retrograde, and that combo opposed Mercury. That wouldn’t be good—it would indicate some arguments, some delays when trying to work together, but it could also mean some lively conversation, which was something already in the kids’ favor. But once again, the Moon, now in Libra, squared Saturn. This was the first time I’d ever gone weekend by weekend to set a date, and if you had asked me if it were likely that week after week the Moon would be compromised, I would hardly have said yes. It was amazing!
We moved to August 9, and the nice Sun-Venus conjunction held, along with the Mars-Uranus opposite Mercury. On that date, the Moon in Capricorn had just passed orb for the opposition to Saturn. It hovered at the Ascendant of the chart, which could make the marriage too emotional, but wouldn’t necessarily be a terrible thing. It trined Mercury, which was nice, and made a quincunx to the Sun, something I didn’t like but couldn’t say I hated. It wasn’t an impossible date, but it wasn’t one I loved.
We move along to August 16. Not only are the Sun and Venus in tight conjunction, they are also conjoined by Jupiter, which is lovely for just about everything—romance, love, money, happiness. Mars is conjunct Uranus, but they’re both trine Saturn, so even if there’s some Uranian chaos, there will be Saturnine stability, in a congenial way. Mercury has moved away from the opposition, but it is being squared by Pluto, and this could indicate some arguments and verbal power struggles. The Moon is in Aries, but at a late degree, and it trines the Sun-Venus-Jupiter stellium as well as Pluto, creating a grand trine in the sky, considered a lucky and harmonious planetary picture. What worried me most was Uranus. At 1˚ Pisces, it made an out-of-sign opposition to Jupiter and also the Sun-Venus conjunction, but the opposition was very wide.
I felt compelled to keep looking. August 23: Moon conjunct Saturn in Cancer in the sixth house. We have enough hypochondriacs in our family already, thank you very much. August 30: Tight opposition between Mars-Uranus and the Jupiter-Sun-Venus combo. The Moon is in Libra—good—but it’s connected only by a sextile to Pluto, so that wasn’t good enough.
By then the summer was over. I kept going through the end of the year, but knew the kids wanted to marry in the summer. So what would you do? We went back and revisited August 16. I knew the date wasn’t perfect, but it was better than the mostly dismal dates that were the alternative. As a mom, I had to do my best. My heart was pounding, my head ached. But then I decided to pull up the charts of their relationship so far.
Their first date, marked by the death of Princess Diana, was in August 1997, and on that day Venus opposed Saturn and the Sun squared Pluto. They moved in together in February 1998, and the Moon was conjunct Saturn and square Venus, the Sun conjunct Uranus, and Mars square Pluto. The day they got engaged in March 2002, Mars opposed the Moon, T-squared by Neptune, Venus was squared by Pluto, and the Sun was square Saturn. These are a bunch of very difficult aspects. They had muddled along on their own, falling in love, cohabitating, and promising to marry during a lot of astrological chaos. So clearly the marriage date was so much better than any of these other dates, it seemed I could relax a little.
All that was left was to choose a time for the marriage. I decided to nudge the time just a bit in order to move Neptune down a little farther toward the middle of the first house, in order to lessen the square to the Midheaven. This also moved Jupiter into the seventh and Uranus out of the second up into the tail end of the first house. Altogether it seemed a good plan. They would say, “I now pronounce you…” at 6:15 P.M.
The kids were content with the date I chose and we soon thereafter began visiting places to hold the wedding. The first spot we saw we loved. It was beyond perfect and our imaginations soared. At that time we had about eighteen months to plan. Except the spot was already taken—by someone else who planned farther ahead and who also chose the date because of an astrologer’s advice! We agonized about changing the date to an available one in order to gain our location. Of course, I once again gave my speech about the aggravations of marrying at Saturn’s return, but we survived and continued to plan the wedding—to be held at another location on August 16. It made more sense to sacrifice a dream location than to compromise on energy that would affect the rest of their lives.
That same week, I heard from a client who wanted to marry next summer and needed advice. They had already set a date, but he wanted my input. My teeth clenched, remembering all those terrible Saturday nights. What was the date you were planning, I asked him. And casually he replied, “August 16, 2003!” I breathed a sigh of relief. Mother Nature had come through, and without even opening the ephemeris, I could tell him he’d selected the best date for the wedding of the entire summer!
Nancy Frederick is an internationally known astrologer and one of the most-published people in the field. She is certified by many of the national astrology organizations and has been counseling people for nearly twenty years. She offers a full range of profoundly insightful readings including horoscopes, tarot readings, past life readings and channeled messages from spirit guides, the dead and the living. To contact her, email mailto:MmeZodiac@aol.com or visit her on the web at http://nancyfrederick.com