One day I was called in for a tax audit, and as astrologers tend to do, I checked out the horoscope. It did not look good, with the Moon activating a Saturn/Jupiter square, but I soldiered on anyway through the interview – you can’t let astrology rule your life, right? – and it ended just as badly as the horoscope suggested it would. Another time, on a routine visit to the bank, I ignored the fact that there was a Moon/Pluto conjunction (in Scorpio), and my bank adviser took out her foul mood on me, which translated into financial difficulties for several months. As time went by, experience has shown that it is a good idea to arrange the time for important meetings, so that they will unfold harmoniously. So now if the tax calls me to a meeting, or if I want something from my bank, or if there is a business meeting, I make sure that we are going to reach a favorable agreement. If the date is not good, I am on the phone… sorry, I can’t quite make it that day, what about… ? – whilst I frantically work the keys of the computer casting charts for the alternative times we discuss.

So am I a slave to the planets? I don’t care, I just want good results. In the East it is completely normal to start any project at an auspicious time and to invoke the blessings of the gods. No important building is started without ritual and propitiation of the spirits. In India, marriage and other important occasions are as a rule carefully calibrated by astrologers… particularly the moment when the bride and groom say their vows.

In all election horoscopes, it is essential that you are in a strong position. This means insuring that the Ascendant ruler is in its own sign, exalted, well-aspected, or at least not in detriment, fall or badly aspected. Often when dealing with others – with the exception of the tax authorities – it is a good idea to have the 7th house ruler strong, because you want the other person to be in a strong enough position to help you. Apart from that, it is preferable to have an approaching aspect between the Ascendant and Descendant rulers, preferably harmonious, or at least have the moon in a comfortable position and moving towards a good aspect, hopefully connecting AS and DS rulers. It is not a bad idea to have the moon void of course, if you really don’t want anything to come out of the meeting (like with the tax).

One specialized use of electional astrology is when you embark on a journey, and I have a 20-year collection of these horoscopes, which are carefully timed. Such a horoscope commences the moment you go out of the door with your suitcase and lock the door. It is not when the plane takes off – a horoscope shared by everyone else on the plane. If you forget something and have to go back, the horoscope changes to when you leave the house the second time. If you leave first, and your partner leaves later, you will have separate departure horoscopes.

From time to time, I really mess up with these horoscopes, and one such occasion was a family holiday in July 2008. This trip went disastrously wrong from the start, and it is not difficult to see why. I guess what happened was that I was juggling with flights and departure times for several days, and I developed a blind spot, which was that the Moon was square Pluto. In fact Pluto had been in Capricorn a few months earlier and I unconsciously assumed it was still there, and although I could see that the Moon had conjoined Uranus, I thought that the subsequent trine to Mercury and then the Sun would bring good results.

Travel horoscope - no toilet

Autocamper holiday: 23.07.2008 kl. 6.25 Odense (AS 12 LE)

The punishment was swift. Off in the car to the airport, arrived in good time. Cup of coffee, general relaxation. But where was the flight number and departure time, because there was nothing on the screen? It transpired that my cut price airline had arranged departure from some obscure and remote airport, which we could not reach in time. Down 200 dollars, we arrived in England on a later flight, after spending an excruciatingly boring 12 hours at the remote airport. Arrived in London past midnight. Hotel room bad.

Generally it is not a brilliant idea to have the Moon in Pisces in an elected chart, because there can always be confusion and chaos. Obviously I should have waited until the Moon came into Aries, aspected the Sun and before it trined Venus. As I recall I could not find a flight at that time (the next day). Also, if you are going on a holiday, why put the Ascendant ruler in the 12th? Hmm. The reason was, as the alert reader will note, we set off at 6.25 a.m., and had no desire to set off at 5.00 a.m. So we compensated by putting Venus in Leo on the Ascendant. It’s not that clever either to have put Mercury in the 12th… which suggests that there will be a certain isolation during the holiday.

Back to the Moon/Pluto square, which was the defining aspect for our foreign journey. We hired a motorhome, and set off on our way through the magical British countryside, so full of history and myth. When we got to our first destination that evening, we made a discovery. The toilet unit in the motorhome had been forgotten by the rental company. It is quite a necessary fixture when you sleep and wake in a vehicle. There was nothing to be done and we continued our holiday without it. By now of course, we had gotten wise to how the master astrologer had messed up, and this (and other Moon/Pluto disasters) became a source of humor. Until – just prior to delivering the vehicle – I reversed in a parking lot… directly into another parked vehicle with some guy having an afternoon nap inside. That damned blind spot! It has to be said that we had a great holiday despite all this, not least because of that prominent Venus and the strong Ascendant ruler.

Readers will note that there is a Mars/Saturn conjunction in the elected chart, but this is not something you can do anything about, if there is a limited window of time to holiday. Obviously you would not want that placed on in the first, fourth, seventh or tenth house. There is an old rule that says that it is a good idea to place “malefics” in the 6th, 8th or 12th houses, where they do most damage to themselves. This is a truth with modifications. I remember meticulously planning a trip for three months to the south of France in February 1990, when there was a Mars/Saturn conjunction, which I placed in the 8th house. I awaited with trepidation the consequences. We hired an apartment in Antibes by the coast, and all seemed fine. But every morning at 5.30 the butcher – who lived just across the road (and the “road” was 10 feet wide), threw open the doors to his shop and started singing at the top of his voice. After a few days of this, I opened the bedroom window and told him to shut up in the best French I knew. This made him enormously happy, and he waved his butcher’s knife at me, and declared that he would sing just as loud as he wanted. He was a big man, and a butcher, and with the Mars/Saturn conjunction in mind, I retreated under the bedcovers.

It is really difficult to get everything right when you elect a chart. You may have to look months in advance to find a really fortunate date, but a few times in a year there is a perfect combination. If you can get Mercury in good aspect to Jupiter, Venus in good aspect to Mars, and the Sun or Moon in good aspect to Saturn, then – as these planets are complimentary opposites – it is the ideal time for a relationship. Take a look at the ephemeris for mid-August 2002 and you will see these conditions satisfied.

Your departure horoscope will set the scene for the subsequent unfoldment of your trip until your return, but there is no guarantee that there will not be upsets when you embark on a new trip within the holiday, creating a subset of horoscopes. Recently I returned from India, and the departure horoscope for the journey was ambiguous, as was soon to reveal itself.

Travel horoscope - First Clas

First Class upgrade: 4.05.2012 1.30 a.m. Ahmedabad (AS 15.07 AQ)

This is a good enough horoscope. Compromises were made – my colleague was driving me to the airport at 1.30 in the morning, so he pretty much decided the departure time. That was OK, because the Ascendant ruler Saturn was exalted in Libra, though I would rather it was in the 9th. Planets in the 8th are often not so good for sleeping (remember the butcher).The moon was in Libra, and fortunately had gone past that most discomforting pair, Uranus and Pluto. And what a wonderful sextile to Venus from Mercury! And indeed, when we got to the airport, one of the air stewards took a liking to us and upgraded us to first class. Great experience, with multi-adjustable chairs that could convert into flat beds… perfect for a night flight. Definitely the way to travel – if you are a millionaire.

So far so good, but Mercury is actually moving over 1½ degrees a day, so on arrival in Copenhagen it was almost opposed Ascendant ruler Saturn. Furthermore, the moon had gone past the trine to Venus and must now conjoin Saturn. Going to the departure desk for the last leg of our flight to the north of Denmark, I presented our tickets and – disaster! Our airline had announced bankruptcy just 24 hours previously, and I had to buy a new set of expensive tickets to get home. Perhaps Mars in the degree of the Nodes, and square them opposing Neptune, was indicative of this airline, which not for the first time had taken money from passengers and subsequently gone bankrupt. My bad flight karma.

In conclusion, it is worth pausing before planning a journey or holiday, and operating with some basic rules in mind. By all means try to travel a day earlier or a day later, or arrive at the airport a few hours early, if it will give you a better departure chart. Ensure that the moon is well placed according to a few simple rules:

– Keep it out of the 6th, 8th and 12th houses, but don’t despair if you can’t. Preferably not in Capricorn (unless it is a business trip and it is well aspected), or Scorpio (unless going on an archeological expedition).
– Make sure as far as possible that the moon has gone past any really heavy aspects – to Mars (you don’t want to be arguing all the time, right?), Saturn (unless visiting a parent), Uranus (unless you like surprises, which you might), Neptune (weepy) and Pluto (no toilet).

The same rules apply to the Ascendant ruler. If you can get this planet in the 5th and well aspected, then you are guaranteed a great holiday with kids or lovers, although if it is a business trip, then the 10th or 11th (you’ll want to socialize) would be good. If you are traveling to meet a partner, then the Descendant ruler is also important, and should connect somehow with the moon or Ascendant ruler.

Remember you will probably not find the ideal horoscope, and many times you will have to travel with difficult aspects. Mercury could for example be stationary and badly aspected for days, but if the trip has to be made, the trick is in selecting the right Ascendant. Even difficult aspects can be fun, and to some extent they can be mitigated by simply acting them out. If Mercury in Sagittarius is square Saturn, that may be OK for trekking. If Venus is square Pluto, then the red light district may hold some appeal. Mars in Sagittarius square Uranus in Pisces may be just the job for white-water rafting, the Moon in Scorpio trine Neptune in Pisces could be the thing for visiting World War II graves. Small doses of danger might be quite appropriate for a holiday, and it is illusory to suppose that your plane will go down. It won’t, or at least the chance is one in a million.

As I write, towards the end of June 2012, the Sun will be entering Cancer exactly constellating with the first newly-formed Uranus/Pluto square on Friday June 29th. Millions of people will be setting off on holiday. Travel with Mercury as Ascendant ruler – it’s in Leo and sextile Jupiter and Venus, and don’t let the sun rule, unless you are visiting Mount Etna. May your travels be most exciting!

Adrian Ross Duncan 17th June 2012.