I do a lot of electional astrology. I wrote a book on it 16 years ago and have continued to explore the area as both a personal project and as a service to clients. Along the way I've tested old rules and tried more than a few experiments.
I think electional astrology appeals to people who want to control things. We all know that this kind of attitude can get us into trouble. If a client wants me to time an event that only affects them, like a surgery date, well that's fine with me. Maybe such a chart will really improve the operation of the heavens.
Unfortunately, there are many out there who want to use my services as a way to manipulate others. This I hate, because I need to make money, but doing it goes against my principles. My response to this kind of situation is to more or less do what the client wants me to do. But I also constantly interject comments that force them to think about the larger implications of what they desire. When I finally get them to admit that their intentions are manipulative, slimy, and on the same level as a rat's, they either give it up or stop working with me.
I believe that electional astrology is a kind of ritual magic in which the practitioner exercises a kind of control over the unfolding of events by consciously altering the event stream at a specific moment. In other words, it's a way of programming your life, and then living it, consciously. It's a way of catching event-energy waves, a kind of "life surfing." With electional astrology, you can seize a propitious moment in time and jump through a window of opportunity as it comes by. I think that most successful people do this without astrology, just like most people navigate the roads without maps. In many respects, those who use astrology are map readers. Some of them even open their maps while driving, blocking their own view, and creating all sorts of chaos for themselves and others on the road.
So much for my observations about electional astrology in general. As I said, I have no reservations about helping clients schedule a surgery date -- it's their body, and most of the time it's only about healing. I get requests for this work from time to time and have developed a methodology that gets good results most of the time. I'll share with you how this method developed and something of how it works.
About 20 years ago a client came to me requesting that I select a day for cosmetic surgery. She had already had some work done on her nose, which she found unsatisfying (both the work and the nose). It didn't look so bad to me, but this woman had Virgo rising and was very concerned with the details. I looked at her chart and found that on the day her surgery had been performed, Mercury was retrograde and her natal Mercury was being squared by Saturn. It was incredibly obvious to me that Mercury, ruler of Virgo, had not been in good shape at the time of the surgery, and poor results could have been expected. I gave her some dates when Mercury would be well-aspected and moving direct, and her next surgical experience was positive.
The word then got out that I could schedule successful cosmetic surgery, and soon other clients came to me with similar requests. Most of the time, I found that the success of cosmetic surgery was very closely linked to the condition of the Ascendant and its ruler, which makes perfect sense when you consider that these points relate to the body's appearance. Even other kinds of surgery showed a similar pattern, with a few adjustments for the different body parts. Only under the worst conditions did the surgery turn out bad. Easy enough. The hard part is finding an astrologically propitious moment that matches both the doctor's and the hospital's schedule.
Anyone who has had surgery will know that the doctor's schedule is the number one consideration. The receptionist will tell you that, "Doctor only operates on Tuesdays and Fridays at 7:00 a.m. He plays golf on the other days." So the astrologer not only has to find a spot during the work week, but it must be on either Tuesday or Friday at 7:00 a.m. On the one hand, this is good -- it narrows the search for a good day. On the other hand, it's incredibly frustrating, because there's no room for adjustment. Then there's the immediacy factor -- everybody wants (or needs) to have their surgery done as soon as possible. For the electional astrologer, this is headache city.
It can get complicated from here, but there's a very good way to minimize the possibility of a bad surgery experience, a way that I recommend to everyone who wants me to pick the date of their operation. I tell them to hire a good doctor. That's right. Get a doctor with a lot of experience and a good reputation, and chances are he or she will do good surgery on just about any day that doctor operates. In my opinion, this alone accounts for about 85 percent of the success of any surgery.
Now, assuming you have a handle on doctor's schedule, and you want to "improve" the chart for the surgery, which accounts for 15 percent of the outcome, you have to take into account both the inner and outer realities of the patient. The inner reality is shown by transits, progressions, and directions to the natal chart of the patient. The outer reality is shown by the current mundane aspects and combinations. The inner reality is how the patient experiences the event; the outer reality is how the world is functioning at the time.
In general, I favor the inner reality. Or at least I begin my work with it, since the patient's experience is at the center of the work. On the other hand, the efficient, or not so efficient, functioning of the various Components of an operation -- the team of doctors, nurses, assistants, hospital administrators, etc. -- will be shown by the current conditions.
As to what configurations one should seek or avoid, there is, in my opinion, no perfect standardized set of rules. Everything is constantly changing, and planetary combinations that look bad by themselves might be excellent in some situations. But for starters, here are some suggestions for each category of reality.
Inner reality: Directions (solar arc, primaries, etc.), secondary progressions, and transits to the natal chart will reveal stress periods and periods of opportunity. A lack of aspects to the natal chart suggests stability, which is a good time to have something as delicate as surgery performed. Look for positive and supportive aspects to the Sun, Ascendant, Ascendant ruler, and the planet that signifies the part of the body operated on. For example, don't do stomach surgery right when the natal Moon is afflicted. Exact aspects are quite powerful. Try to avoid major surgery on the day that an aspect is exact, particularly a stressful aspect. Aspects to the 6th house and its ruler will show how healing progresses.
Outer reality: Look at what the Moon is doing. Generally, a void-of-course Moon suggests that things may not go exactly as planned. There will be less control over events during these periods. Note when the Moon makes aspects to other planets and plan the surgery to occur as the Moon is applying to a favorable aspect. Check the last aspect the Moon makes in the sign that it is in during the surgery. A nasty last aspect is something to consider avoiding, since it symbolizes a tough finish to the matter -- in this case, the surgery.
Check the mutual aspects and avoid the days when eclipses or other exact alignments occur. Avoid stressful combinations involving Mercury (and Mercury stations), which is both the planet of communication and a significator of the use of precision instruments and devices that are the tools of doctors. Determine what planets will be rising, culminating, setting, or at lower culmination as the operation begins. Put Jupiter on one of the angles if possible. Pay attention to any parans that may exist on the day of the surgery at the latitude of the hospital.
If cosmetic surgery is requested, make sure to avoid periods of time when the natal chart Ascendant degree and Ascendant ruler are terribly afflicted. Remember that one bad aspect won't spoil the bunch, but several will. If it's some other kind of surgery, or if the client's condition is serious, you have to consider a few more things. Here are a few more general electional rules you may want to consider in such cases.
The Sun, Ascendant, and the Ascendant ruler are potent indicators of the physical body in a birth chart. If possible, don't do surgery, except in an emergency, when all three points are severely afflicted by Mars, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto. Generally speaking though, if somebody needs surgery, at least one of these points will be afflicted, symbolizing the fact that they have a physical problem. Try to avoid dates when hard aspects (squares, oppositions, conjunctions) are making exact aspects to these points. Exact is too tense; you want to keep the pressures as low as possible. For a good adjustment to the surgery and quick healing, make sure the ruler of the 6th house, or any planets therein, are not horribly afflicted. You don't even have to have good aspects, just regular normal aspects, and things will behave predictably.
I learned a few things when I had surgery myself. Back in the 1970s I slipped a disk by lifting heavy guitar amplifiers, moving refrigerators, and changing the transmission on my car. For a year I tried conservative measures like chiropractic and acupuncture, but the problem (sciatica) kept getting worse. I then reasoned that since conservative Capricorn was on the cusp of my 6th house of healing, I should probably go the traditional route for my problem -- back surgery by an orthopedist and neurologist. I then tracked down the most famous back surgeon in the region and had to wait four months to see him. He checked me out and suggested I get a laminectomy and spinal fusion ASAP.
Next I checked my aspects and set a hospital date when Saturn was square my Midheaven, which is always a good time to retire, check out, and keep a low profile. In terms of my career this worked out fine, since business was slow. But I also found that I lost control over any scheduling. Sure enough, as Saturn passed the square of my Midheaven, first the surgery was delayed by four days, and then there I was, horizontal and tied to the hospital bed with tubes coming out of my body. On the day of the surgery, the Moon was in Leo (rules the back) conjunct Saturn (last aspect a square to Jupiter), and there was an exact conjunction of Mars and Neptune (cutting and drugs) sesquiquadrate my natal Sun. Jupiter was squaring my Ascendant, and there I was being attended to by the nurses. More positively, the Sun was approaching my natal Jupiter in Sagittarius. To keep my spirits up, I read a few books about the Aztecs and human sacrifice.
The operation was a great success. The doctor knew his stuff, and the only thing I lost was the ability to run long-distance painlessly. So I took up hiking. Astrologically, I learned to not fear what seemed at first to be bad aspects. Some of the old rules about elections for surgery clearly didn't work. I believe that the major factors were that the transiting Sun, which rules my Ascendant, was applying to a conjunction of natal Jupiter (positive), while my natal Sun was being afflicted by Mars and Neptune (stressful). I was successfully drugged and cut open. Here's my rule of thumb: major surgery is never shown astrologically as stressless and painless, so don't fear a hard aspect or two. Just make sure that other supportive aspects are coincident.
By now you should have gotten the idea that elections for surgery are not easy. If you have the nerve to dabble in this field, don't get bent out of shape if you can't find a perfect planetary pattern that fits into doctor's schedule. Hire a good body mechanic and pick a time around his or her schedule that is not an astrological mess. If it's a halfway decent time, all should go well -- unless doctor's chart is horribly afflicted! Ha! Surprise! Yet another potential astrological headache that I try not to think about.
©1996 Bruce Scofield - all rights reserved
This article was first printed in the July 1996 issue of The Mountain Astrologer. For subscriptions or back issues, call 800-287-4828 or go to www.MountainAstrologer.com.
Book by this author:
User's Guide to Astrology
by Bruce Scofield.
About The Author
Bruce Scofield, CA, NCGR is a practicing astrologer, lecturer, and author of several astrology books, as well as seven hiking guides to mountains and natural areas of the Northeast. He writes for many astrology magazines and newsletters, and has self-published several of his own books, including User's Guide to Astrology, a practical introduction to the subject of astrology. You can contact him at P.O. Box 561, Amherst, MA 01004, (413) 253-9450, or through his web site: http://onereed.com.