In the last segment of this series we talked about general chart construction tips that can help with electing any event. In this segment we’re going to explore more deeply the First house, its elections, and some specific rules that apply to them.
First house elections are very significant when compared to the elections that focus on the other houses. Mostly, they’re significant because they make no sense and come off as very “out of date” and somewhat contradictory to some general rules about the spirit of electing matters.
Now, typically you will always want to fortify the Lord of the First house. This does represent the person who is beginning the action, and you’ll almost always want to give them some extra power so they will have the diligence to get through the event or come out on top. That’s not to say that there aren’t some legitimate (even by today’s standards) endeavors that can be elected through a focus on the First house, but they aren’t written about in the traditional texts because they weren’t as much of a concern (if they were ever a concern) back then as they are to us now.
What sorts of things are written in the literature about First house elections? They are mostly cosmetic things such as cutting hair and trimming nails. There are some different ones, such as electing when to send a child off to school so they will make the best of their education and succeed. That’s a good one, but difficult to do when school starts at a certain time and they had better be on that bus because you certainly don’t have the time to drive them there. First house elections become somewhat ignored and have really done a disservice to electional astrology due to how frivolous the undertakings seem.
In horary astrology there are instructions on how to ask questions and who should ask particular questions. Bonatti in particular seems to have taken a big stand on if a particular querent has any business knowing about a certain matter. A similar rule is given to electional astrology, where it’s said not to elect for any passing thing. This leads to an interesting contradiction when you have electional rules provided for getting a haircut. Well, it had better be a pretty important haircut or Bonatti’s not electing it for you! To be fair, at least the rules for doing these things are pretty simple. If you’re getting your hair trimmed, you want to put the Moon in barren signs to delay growth, if you are trying to style it in a particular way, have the Moon apply to a Trine or Sextile with Saturn to give it a sense of permanence. Do something similarly if you’re trying to color it, but it might be best to have the Moon apply to the planet that best represents the color you’re trying to dye it (Saturn for black, Jupiter for auburn or brown, Mars for red, Venus and the Sun for blonde, Mercury and the Moon for mixed colors).
Now, back to the more legitimate reasons someone might focus on a First house election (by “legitimate” I mean “things important enough to be worth the effort of electing a chart for). Many people are struggling to do away with bad or unhealthy habits but fear falling back into them. The First house would be extremely important in elections focused on quitting smoking or trying to change one’s body in someway. Now, an argument can be made that these elections could also be considered twelfth and sixth house elections, since the subject is something that could easily be seen as belonging to either house. I would agree somewhat, but still state that the main focus is the First house and trying to get particular configurations with it.
This election is going to have to take the Twelfth house into account as well, but we really want to focus on the First.
Since a habit is trying to be changed, we don’t want the angles to be in Fixed signs1 but would instead prefer Cardinal since we want the bad habit over with as quickly as possible and we want something to be overcome or changed. Following a similar theme, want we to avoid the signs of short ascension, as they often cause problems.
The Moon needs to be in her waning phase and needs to be separating from Mars (Mars is the planetary ruler of tobacco), preferably Mars needs to be in Capricorn or Scorpio (based on the receptions, the Moon will reject Mars as he is in the signs of her debility, thus injuring her). After the separation from Mars, we want the Moon to apply to a benefic planet, she could really apply to any planet, but we do not want her to apply to the Lord of the First.
The First house lord needs to be well fortified and have good aspects to the benefics. This increases willpower to overcome and offers support and ease (stress is the number one thing that causes quitters to start smoking again). If we can’t get the First house to be wonderfully strong due to time constraints, there are a couple of tricks to try to get that First house some more power to it. An easy way to go would be to place a benefic planet in the First house. Another way to go about it is to have a dignified planet apply to the First house lord, this way that planet can push its dignity onto the First house lord who can benefit from that strength. If we’re unable to have that, then at the very least we want it more powerful than (and preferably a superior planet to2) the Twelfth house lord (who signifies acts of self-undoing and addiction).
Speaking of the Twelfth house lord, we want this planet to be as weak as possible. Hit it upside the head with a frying pan and stick it in the basement. Afflict it as much as possible and place it in a cadent house. Don’t let the Moon or Lord of the First apply to this planet at all and make sure it has less dignity than the Lord of the First. Going back to Mars for a second, if you want to place Mars in Scorpio or Capricorn to get the receptions to work in the favor of the Moon, you won’t be able to afflict it essentially, but you can utilize some accidental afflictions like cadency, afflicted by Saturn, Combust of the Sun, etc. Get creative.
This election will only focus on the First house, no other houses are really necessary.
The Ascendant in this election needs to be in a barren sign. There are three signs which are considered totally barren: Gemini, Leo, and Virgo. These are the signs you’ll want to choose if the goal weight loss is high. If the weight loss goal is a bit more modest, then perhaps choosing those signs which are more inclined towards barrenness is a better choice; those are Aries, Capricorn, and Aquarius3. The quadruplicity of the Sign is not as much of an issue as long as it is barren.
The Moon needs to be located in a barren sign (not the same one as the ascendant) and needs to be in her waning phase, it’s best to place her in the third quarter (from Opposition to the Sun to the superior Square of the Sun) this makes her temperamentally cold and dry, which is least conducive to growth. In the previous election we were running away from Mars, in this election we want Mars to be our friend. Mars is about energy and athleticism, both very necessary for any serious weight loss attempt, so attempt to place the Moon in Mars’s dignities and applying to him favorably.
The Lord of the First should be in one of the aforementioned barren signs, but find the one in which it is the most dignified (don’t make it Saturn and place Saturn in Aries, for instance). The Lord of the First should not be applying to Venus or Jupiter (who represent sweets and fat) but instead should be applying to Mars if possible or Saturn if you want to get more restrictive.4
This also only focuses on the First house, and is almost a complete reversal from the election discussed above.
The Ascendant in this election will need to be in one of the fertile signs. If they need to gain quite a bit of weight then use the signs that are considered the most fertile: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. If the weight gain goal is more modest, choose the less fertile signs of Taurus, Libra, and Sagittarius. Quadruplicity and ascension are also not as big of an issue in this chart as long as the sign rising is fertile.
The Moon needs to be in fertile signs and needs to be applying to either Jupier or Venus. We really don’t want Saturn or Mercury involved, Saturn typically has associations with famine, and Mercury is associated with thinness. Jupiter and Venus are significant of gain and we want the Moon to be in her waxing phase as she applies to them. Getting the Moon within her first quarter (New Moon to inferior Square) makes the Moon’s temperament more naturally warm and moist, those qualities are considered conducive to growth.
The Lord of the First needs to be well dignified, preferably Jupiter or Venus and in a fertile sign, this planet needs to be in aspect with a benefic (either functional or natural). Like the Moon, we also don’t want the Lord of the First applying to Saturn or Mercury. Mars’s presence in the election is not recommended.
Functional and Natural
The benevolence and malevolence of a particular planet can be ascertained in several ways, but one of the most easily discerned is to consider whether it is a natural or functional benefic of malefic.
Benefics are more positive, they facilitate growth and allow things to happen. On the other hand, malefics are more negative, they deny growth and seek to destroy or twist events. Obviously, we want more benefics involved with our elections than malefics (most of the time), but how do you tell what planet is operating under what agenda?
A natural benefic or malefic is a planet whose very personality is attuned to those qualities. Jupiter and Venus are the two natural benefics and are respectively associated with growth and unity. Saturn and Mars are the two natural malefics and are associated with decay and conflict. The Sun and Moon tend to be more neutral, but slightly benefic, whereas Mercury will take on the nature of whatever planet it is most closely in aspect with5.
Functional benefics and malefics are planets that don’t have the natural tendency to be either, but become so based on what they signify in charts. Planets that rule the 6th, 8th, or 12th houses become functional malefics because they will then carry around the negative significations of those unfortunate houses with them. Planets ruling the angles become functional benefics as they will take on those positive significations. It’s important to consider the planets that rule those houses in the natal chart of the person the election is for, you want to avoid using the functional malefic 6th, 8th, and 12th rulers as they carry negative significations for the native.
Another way to judge benefic or malefic planets in any given chart is to consider the sect of the chart and compare it to the sect of the significators involved. In a day chart, the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn are more helpful and productive towards the business, whereas in a night chart the Moon, Venus, and Mars become more helpful and productive. Planets in a chart of the opposite sect become less helpful or don’t have the native’s best interest in mind (if they’re benefics) or can become obstacles and dangers (if they’re malefics).
To recap, we were identified some of the more useful elections that fall under the realm of the First house and how to properly elect for them. We also touched on the basics of what makes a planet an agent for good or bad in any single election chart. There are many other things that could be argued to be under the tent of a First house election, but they will probably be included in the article of another house. Stay tuned!
1There is a bit of debate about this that I am not entirely unsympathetic to. Many people believe that using a Fixed sign on the Ascendant is preferable because we want the effects of the election to last a long time. I do agree with that, but I think the focus is more on changing something and overcoming a bad habit, so using a Fixed sign on the ascendant almost feels like inadvertently locking someone into the habit rather than helping someone escape it quickly through the use of a Cardinal sign. Feel free to disagree and let me know about any success you’ve had with either quadruplicity in a quitting smoking election!
2 The planets in order of most superior to most inferior are Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon
3 There is some disagreement on whether Aquarius is a sign that leans more towards barrenness or fertility. Some authors focus on the time of year when the Sun is in that sign and its refreshing rains as being significant of fertility, whereas others focus on it being the house of Saturn and being the image of a prepubescent youth as being indicators of it being more of a barren sign.
4 In my opinion it is healthier to put the emphasis on Mars and his energy-giving, exercise-doing powers than the restrictive, overbearing Saturn. Make your own call, though.
5 There is a hierarcy of aspects involved here where some of the more intimate or forceful aspects would be considered to influence Mercury more than less forceful ones. The order of power is: Conjunction, Opposition, Trine, Square, and Sextile. This means if Mercury were in a tight Square with a planet, but also in a wider conjunction with another, Mercury would be considered to have the qualities and nature of the planet it was in conjunction with.