by Gaia Losna
This article originally appeared in Raven's Call Magazine Volume 1, Number 3
What is meant by ' refining the astrological timing? Basically it means taking into account not only the Moon's phase and the particular sign it is in, but also the aspects the Moon may be making to other planets, both in your natal (birth) chart and in the heavens on that day, especially aspects to a planet who's rulership governs the result you wish to obtain through your working. You can take this refinement a step further by also timing your working so that the Moon is moving through the particular House in your natal chart that is most closely related to what you are trying to achieve.
Now, obviously this last refinement in particular requires that you have a copy of your natal chart to refer to. If you don't already have one, you can usually get one fairly easily from either a local astrologer or through various online astrological services. Besides your date of birth, you do need to know the time you where born and where. Alternatively, there are some astrology programs that are fairly inexpensive but can still produce a natal chart that will work just fine for determining timing elements. One program I have used for several years is called Expert Astrologer by Expert Software, and at the time I bought it, it retailed for around $12.95. The natal chart that "Expert Astrologer" produced for me was only a few astrological minutes off on some of the planetary positions when compared to a chart that had been prepared on a $200 program. These slight discrepancies in the chart usually make very little difference when you use the chart to figure out astrological timings.
The first, and probably most important aspect of timing, and the easiest to figure out, is the phase of the Moon. Basically, the waxing phase (from just after New Moon to just at Full Moon) is the time for doing workings for growth, increase, action, fertility, abundance, starting things, planting seeds (physical or spiritual), planting above ground crops, building, bringing together, summoning and binding. The waning phase (from just after Full Moon to just at New Moon) is the time for banishing (negative aspects of oneself, things or people), things that need to remain secret, ending things, sending away, decrease, dieting, harvesting, planting below ground crops, and reaction. So, for example, if you want to do a magickal working to increase prosperity and abundance for yourself or your family, you will need to do that working when the Moon is in its waxing phase. On the other hand, if your working is to help banish negativity from your life, you will need to perform the working during the waning Moon.
Any good astrological calendar or planetary guide will show you the Moon phases and the exact times of the Full Moon, New Moon and other phases, as well as the movements of the other planets. A word of advice though - not all astrological calendars guides are created equal! Make sure the one you are using is either listing times for your rime zone or else be sure to calculate for the difference. For example, one well-known publisher of astrological calendars uses U.S. Central Time Zone for all its timings. If you live on the West Coast of the United States, as I do, the times will all be two hours ahead. Thus, if this calendar says the Moon is full at 9:00 p.m., it would really be full at 7:00 p.m. on the West Coast. If you live on the East Coast, the Full Moon would be at 10:00 p.m. You either have to compensate for these time difference up front or you can try to find a calendar or pocket guide that is geared to your time zone. One of the best I have found that uses Pacific Time Zone as their basis are Jim Maynard's Celestial Guides. I have used his Pocket Astrologer for many years now. It is very small (4 1/4" x 5 1/2") and I carry it with me at all times in my purse or backpack. Most planetary guides also show the various major planetary aspects each day and many have an ephemeris in the back (a chart showing the daily positions of each planet).
So, the most basic timing element for magickal workings is the phase of the Moon. The next element to be aware of is to avoid a void-of-course Moon (this information is in most astrological calendars or pocket guides). The Moon is said to be "void of course" when it has made its last aspect to another planet in a sign and it does not make any further aspects to any planet until it moves into the next sign. This period can last a few minutes or a few days, depending where the other planets are. It's like the Moon is "biding its time" in a sign, waiting to move on. It's not that a void-of-course Moon is bad, it's just that during a void of course Moon actions can produce unexpected results and things can take off in unexpected directions. Not quite as difficult as Mercury retrograde but still unpredictable. However, a void-of-course Moon can be a good time for workings of a subjective, spiritual or non-materialistic nature.
The next refinement to consider is what Zodiacal sign the Moon is in. The Moon moves into a new sign about every two to two-and-a-half days. After working with Moon signs for awhile you will come to learn the "flavor" the Moon takes on as it transits each sign. For instance, if you are doing a working for family peace and harmony, you wouldn't want to perform that working if the Moon was in Scorpio or Aries. Moon in Libra would be good for this kind of working.
Then, going a step further, you can look at the aspects the Moon is making to other planets in the heavens. Sextiles, trines and most conjunctions are beneficial aspects. Squares and oppositions are difficult or challenging aspects. So, for example, if you are doing a working for prosperity it's better not to do it if the Moon is opposite or square to Jupiter. But the timing would be beneficial if the Moon is trine or sextile to Jupiter.
The next refinement you can use is to time your working so that the Moon is moving through the particular House of your natal chart that governs the ultimate outcome of your working. You will need to be familiar with what areas of life each House rules. If it is a working for prosperity and abundance, you would want to time it so the Moon is moving through your Second House, for the Second House rules material possessions, finances, prosperity, etc. If it is a working for physical healing, the Moon should ideally be moving through your Sixth House, for health and physical healing come under the Sixth House's rulership.. Since the Moon changes signs about every two to two-and-a-half days, if you miss its transit through a particular House one month, you would only have to wait until the next month to try again for this particular timing.
Taking this one step further, you can also time your working so that a particular planet is moving through the appropriate House of your natal chart. However, this usually is only practical for the faster moving planets, such as Mercury, Venus, the Sun or Mars due to the length of time it takes the other planets to move through each sign (Jupiter takes a year to move from one sign to another, Saturn two years or more, Uranus about seven years, and so on). For example, performing a magickal working for attracting the appropriate mate for oneself would be greatly empowered if it was timed for when Venus (which rules love, attraction, and beauty) was moving through your natal 7th House (which rules marriage, unions, partnership).
However, you should avoid using planetary transits as a timing tool if the particular planet you wish to use is in a "retrograde" movement. A planet is said to be retrograde when, due to the Earth's particular orbit, it appears to be moving backward in a Zodiacal sign. Most people are familiar with the periods of "Mercury retrograde" and its chaotic effect on communications of all kinds. Retrogrades are almost always considered negative in effect, causing chaos and unpredictability in the outcome of things. The Sun and Moon never move retrograde but all the other planets are capable of it. Mercury goes retrograde the most frequently; however, the outer planets are often retrograde for very long periods of time. So, it's best to avoid working with a planet and its energy when it is moving retrograde.
Finally, if you want to refine the timing even more, it means starting your working at the appropriate planetary hour for it. Planetary hours are an ancient system developed by the Chaldeans. Under the planetary hour system, the day is divided up into 24 planetary hours starting with sunrise and sunset. Planetary hours are calculated based on latitude, local sunrise and sunset times and local mean time correction, so they vary from place to place. There are some good books out that explain fairly simply how you can figure out the planetary hours based on your location. However, there are also books that show a generic table of planetary hours. You can use this but be aware it is more accurate if you calculate them out yourself, using your particular latitude, the local sunrise and sunset times and utilizing your local mean time correction (you can get your local mean time correction from a local astrologer, the library or even a local weatherman!).
There is also a simple Kabbalistic way of figuring the basic Planetary Hours. Only 7 planets are used in this system and they have a planetary order - Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury and Moon (in descending order based on the length of time it takes each one to move through the Zodiac). Planetary hours begin at dawn, and the first hour after dawn is ruled by the planet of the day (i.e., Sun - Sunday, Moon - Monday, etc.). Now, no matter which day of the week you start with, if you start with the "Planet of the Day" and keep to this planetary order, you will end up with the hours all in order.
As you can see, all this can get very involved.
But each step you take in further refining the timing of your magickal working hones the focus of that working and empowers it that much more. Combining these elements of astrological timing with the correct elemental and/or color correspondences helps to further focus your intent and your will, thereby assisting you in manifesting what you wish to bring about by your working.