And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon:
Choosing Wedding Dates With Astrology by April Elliott Kent
Previously published in Llewellyn's
2005 Moon Sign Book.
For a more detailed look at choosing
with astrology, read
Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
-- Mother Goose
When I returned to school three years
ago I took a sabbatical from astrological counseling,
figuring life as a 40-something undergraduate would
be demanding enough without the added emotional pressure
of advising others about their lives. Gradually, though,
I drifted into electional astrology - choosing times
for events, usually weddings, based on astrological
principles - to pay my tuition. It's satisfying work
that suits the Virgo/analytical side of my nature perfectly,
an almost purely intellectual exercise as logical and
comforting as a crossword puzzle.
Despite my accidental astrological specialty,
however, I didn't choose the date of my brother's recent
wedding. Rather, the happy couple based their decision
purely on practical considerations, the way 99.99% of
the population chooses wedding dates (albeit with only
a 50% success rate). And that suited me fine; for although
I've found an astrological niche for myself choosing
wedding dates for clients, I often worry that in plying
this ancient art I may be messing around in matters
that would work out just as well, perhaps better, without
I'm reminded of a bride who, after years
in a tortuous relationship, asked me to choose the date
for her wedding. I was reluctant, having seen and heard
enough about the relationship over the years to doubt
that astrology could do much to help this marriage succeed,
but I did my best. Finding an astrologically acceptable
day and time within the time frame they were willing
to consider was difficult, and convincing them to use
the time I chose was nearly impossible. But marry they
did, at the appointed hour, and managed to stay together
several more years, causing each other considerable
misery before ultimately divorcing.
I later wondered if the relative harmony
of the wedding chart had acted as a kind of cosmic superglue,
holding the tenuous union together beyond its natural
expiration date. Maybe, had they chosen one of the other,
astrologically ruinous days they were considering, the
whole mess would have been over with a lot more quickly!
In cases like this one, good astrology may be employed
to ill effect; after all, as any child who has eaten
too much candy can tell you, getting what we want is
not always what's best for us.
Perhaps, if left to our own devices,
we instinctively gravitate to the moments that are right
for us to do things - marry, start a business, plant
a rose bush - whether or not our efforts lead to the
outcome we'd hoped for. In fact, I suspect that using
astrology in an attempt to influence the outcome of
our actions may be self-defeating - that this very human
desire to outwit fate may, in fact, deny us our right
course of action and neutralize astrology's power to
show us both our own motivations and the mysterious
workings of spirit.
So maybe my brother and his bride, like
the dish and the spoon in the old Mother Goose rhyme,
had the right idea: to begin the mad gamble of togetherness
by simply running away together, without first asking
the astrologer if the time was right!
A Time to Every Purpose
That said, doesn't it stand to reason
that if there is indeed "a time to every purpose
under heaven," it would make sense to align ourselves
and our actions with this purpose? After all, if astrology
isn't good for this, what is it good for? I propose
that electing wedding dates with astrology be approached
as a ritual to bring individual will into alignment
with universal wisdom. Employed in this spirit, the
electional process can actually yield a better understanding
of the forces that significantly impact our lives and
So the question before us is, once deciding
to petition the gods for their blessing on your union,
which astrological factors should you look to for verification
that you're on the right path, or warning that you're
on the wrong one? As with all types of predictive astrology,
there are numerous rules to follow. Here are just a
few important ones to get you started.
Venus. Begin with Venus, the planet
most closely associated with weddings and marriage.
A wedding chart should feature a strong and happy Venus,
as little debilitated by sign, aspect, or retrograde
motion as possible. Venus is strongest and happiest
in Taurus, Libra, or Pisces (the signs of her rulership
and exaltation), involved in only harmonious aspects
with other planets, and placed in an angular house (the
first, fourth, seventh, or tenth).
In real life, of course, this dream scenario
is rarely achievable, because the ceremony must take
place on a Saturday in June when Aunt Ruth is visiting
from Portland, when Venus is retrograde in Scorpio and
squaring Pluto. So I occasionally find myself recommending
dates when Venus is in Aries, Virgo, or Scorpio (the
signs of her detriment and fall, where she is least
strong). I'll even bend the rules and allow Venus in
difficult aspect to Saturn or Pluto if factors in the
wedding couple's birth charts support this (such as
strong connections at birth between Venus and Saturn
or Capricorn, or Venus and Pluto or Scorpio).
On one point, however, I am intractable:
Thou shalt not wed when Venus is retrograde. Retrograde
periods when a planet appears to be moving backward
in the sky, are times to reflect upon the matters represented
by the planet, not to initiate action. Of Venus retrograde,
Erin Sullivan writes, "[ ] flaws and faults
in others can become enhanced, and one might see all
the dangers of intimacy, rather than the supportive
aspects of it." (Sullivan 2000, 96) Hardly sounds
like an auspicious moment to begin a marriage!
If you find yourself planning your wedding
for a time when Venus is retrograde, heed the wisdom
of the retrograde, which urges you to take a second
look at your reasons for choosing to marry this person,
at this time, and in this way. Venus is retrograde for
only forty days every eighteen months; you can almost
always wait for it to turn direct.
Mercury. As the planetary ruler
of contracts (of which marriage is one example), paperwork,
and logistics, Mercury is legendarily problematic when
retrograde; items are misplaced, miscommunication is
rife, decisions are made based on inadequate information.
The message of Mercury retrograde is "redo,"
"rethink," and even "reconsider"
- as entertainers Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez apparently
did when they postponed their September 2003 wedding
during Mercury retrograde!
Mercury is retrograde more often than
Venus (a few weeks at a time, four times each year)
but it is nonetheless usually possible to avoid scheduling
your wedding during these times. Occasionally, though,
you're stuck with Mercury retrograde, and in the not
uncommon event the bride or groom has been married before
the "redoing" symbolism of Mercury retrograde
can even be appropriate.
Still Mercury retrograde has its
reputation as a nuisance for a reason, as my brother
and his bride found out on their Mercury retrograde
wedding day. The wedding was my brother's second - so
far, so good; but despite the best efforts of a very
organized bride, the wedding was a cornucopia of Mercury
retrograde headaches. Traffic jams, keys locked in a
car, miscued music, a decorative arch that nearly fell
on the bride, bad directions, problems with the bridal
couple's reservation at the luxury hotel they'd booked
for their wedding night -- on and on it went, a textbook
illustration of a vital principle: Weddings are stressful
enough without inviting Mercury retrograde to the party!
The Moon. The Moon, ruler of mundane
matters and daily routines, looms large in the symbolism
of electional astrology. Its position by sign, house,
and aspect are seen as a microcosm of how any action
initiated under its influence will unfold and ultimately
be resolved. In fact, lunar placements which would be
perfectly admirable in a birth chart are sometimes considered
unacceptable for the purposes of electional astrology.
For instance, marrying with the Moon in Scorpio or Capricorn,
the signs of its detriment and fall, is to be strenuously
avoided. Likewise, a void of course moon (a Moon making
no further aspects to other planets before leaving its
sign), or the Moon applying to difficult aspects with
other planets, is considered tantamount to astrological
Over the years, though, I've seen enough
exceptions to begin to question these rules. Recently
I've chosen several wedding dates featuring the Moon
in Scorpio or Capricorn, simply because the Moon in
those signs harmonized beautifully with other planetary
placements on the date. For similar reasons, although
traditional rules recommend marrying during the Moon's
waxing phases (between the New and Full Moons), this
is not always practical, nor in my observation especially
important, falling more in the category of "nice
if you can get it."
On the other hand, harmony between
the Sun and Moon, representing the relationship
both between the bride and groom and between the wedding
couple and the world at large, is vital. If given a
choice between a date with the Moon in Taurus in difficult
aspect to the Sun and Uranus, or one with the Moon in
Scorpio in good aspect to the Sun, Venus, Mars, and
Jupiter, I know which I'd choose! And while I can't
always avoid every difficult aspect between the Moon
and other planets, I do try to make sure the Moon's
last aspect before leaving its sign is a harmonious
one (a sextile or trine, or conjunction with Venus or
Jupiter). I was taught that the Moon's last aspect in
the sign describes the way everything, great or small,
will tend to "end up" for the couple. By ensuring
that the moon's last aspect is a happy one, I am hoping
the couple will be left feeling that whatever comes
their way, "for us, everything seems to always
work out okay in the end."
My brother's disastrous Mercury retrograde
wedding took place with the Moon in Capricorn, but approaching
harmonious aspects to the Sun, Venus, and finally Mercury
before leaving its sign. He and his bride accepted the
logistical mishaps of their big day with characteristic
Capricorn pragmatism. They laughed off the problems,
enjoyed their wedding and radiated love for each other,
and their attitudes transformed a feast of problems
into a fun and memorable occasion.
What if you can't get married on the
Which is more important to your future happiness: a
favorable wedding chart, or holding your wedding ceremony
when sweet Aunt Ruth can be there to share it with you?
Common sense tells us that the best wedding chart in
the world will cause more problems than it will solve
if you've got to turn your entire life upside down to
make it fit! Every wedding chart, like every marriage,
has its tough spots, so don't drive yourself (and everybody
you know) crazy holding out for a perfect wedding date;
it doesn't exist. Work with what you have, and learn
what you can from the messages astrology is giving you
about the date you've chosen, but understand that much,
much more goes into creating a happy marriage than just
the wedding date. A strong and happy relationship simply
can't be ruined by a wedding chart, even one which breaks
every astrological rule in the book!
Conversely, it is a mysterious truth
that trying to squeeze an unhappy relationship into
a happy marriage chart is nearly always doomed to failure.
It is usually relatively easy to find a good wedding
date for a happy, relaxed couple, and almost impossible
to do the same for a stressed out, uncertain couple.
Even if I am able to present such a couple with an astrologically
fabulous date, something will almost always prevent
the marriage from taking place at this favorable moment
- their preferred venue will be unavailable, for instance,
or one of them will have an aversion to marrying on
a Sunday. So they gradually, unconsciously, negotiate
their way back to the date and time that perfectly reveals
the most important issues they must face together, then
ask for my astrological blessing. Stubborness? I prefer
to think the influence at work is that of the wise moon,
perfect as she is in any sign or aspect, guiding this
couple as she has so many others to the starting gate
that's exactly right for them - however forbidding it
might look to us!
We can approach astrology forcefully
and inorganically, as a way of bending life to some
abstract ideal. Or we can approach it with the wisdom
of the moon, and the dish and the spoon, respecting
its mystery and acknowledging our limited understanding.
We can use it to analyze the moments to which we are
spontaneously drawn - just as we spontaneously gravitated
toward the moment of birth, with all its potential for
pain and glory - to see what secrets those moments can
reveal to us. And we can use the traditional rules of
electional astrology as we might use candles or any
other ritual device, not as an inoculation against life
but as an invocation to align ourselves with a greater
wisdom. And that's not such a bad use for astrology.
For a more detailed look at choosing
with astrology, read
Reference 1 Sullivan, Erin. Retrograde Planets: Traversing
the Inner Landscape. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser,
March, Marion D., and Joan McEvers. The Only Way to
Learn About Horary and Electional Astrology. San Diego:
ACS Publications, 1994.
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Tutorial: How to Choose Your Wedding Date