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'ELECTIONAL ASTROLOGY the art of timing' by Joann Hampar

Book Review

'ELECTIONAL ASTROLOGY the art of timing'
by Joann Hampar

ISBN: 0-7387-0701-5
Published by Llewellyn
Reviewed by Deborah Houlding

Available for purchase from
Llewellyn internet site and most astrology suppliers
Price: $14.95

All astrologers manipulate the timing of events in the hope of getting the maximum aid - or at least the minimum disturbance - from celestial alignments. Would you apply for promotion when the Moon is moving directly to the square of Saturn? Electional astrology is the art of fine-tuning the commencement of activities to ensure the planets are on our side. Vivian Robson sums up its purpose where he writes:

"…let us assume that a business is to be started. The business man selects a date and time based upon reasons of convenience or some other practical consideration, and this automatically becomes the birth-time of the undertaking … by applying the rules of Horary Astrology one can predict the ups and downs of the business then begun and its ultimate success or failure. But it is obvious there is another way of going to work. If the horoscope for the start shows failure, why not start at some other time when the horoscope favours the venture?" [1]

Both horary and electional astrology can be bracketed together under the heading of 'Inceptions', where we see them as offering techniques to establish the wisdom of doing a certain thing at a certain time - and for choosing astrologically suitable alternates where there are signs of danger or disappointment. They are mutually dependent in many ways, electional principles being written into the methods of judging horaries, and horary knowledge furthering the ability to make a well supported 'election'.

Also like horary, electional astrology is one of oldest and most fundamental uses of astrology. We can see its importance in ancient works such as Carmen Astrologicum by Dorotheus, an excellent source for exploring the early basis of its traditional rules.[2] The influence of electional astrology - though generally unrecognised - has seeped into every other branch of astrology; it would be no overstatement to say that any astrologer whose work involves interaction with planetary cycles will benefit tremendously from a good understanding of electional principles and techniques.

In spite of this, there have been surprising few astrological works dedicated to this all-important branch of astrology. As far as I am aware the first and, until recently, only book in modern times to be fully focussed on this subject was Vivian Robson's Electional Astrology, published in 1937. In fact, Robson leant so heavily upon the 17th century text of William Ramesey that most of his book is little more than a stripped-down, simplified and re-categorised representation of Ramesey's rules and methods, which are far better understood by a study of the original source.[3] A new approach to explaining electional rules has certainly been long overdue!

Thus Joann Hampar's recent publication: Electional Astrology - the art of timing, makes a very welcome addition to essential textbooks. Finally we have a book dedicated to electional astrology which doesn't merely lay out the traditional rules, but also explains them and explores the reasoning that lies beneath them. The book begins with an introduction to the subject and the general techniques employed. The planetary cycles, the primary rulerships attributed to the planets and houses, the election chart's relationship with the birth chart, and numerous other essential principles are covered in preparation for putting the methods to use in real-life situations. The latter half of the book allows the rules to be placed in context alongside demonstrated case-histories, but thankfully the book doesn't descend into a meaningless list of 'dos and don'ts'; the instruction continues, with relevant points continuing to be raised at the places where they will be most meaningful. Over two dozen demonstrated case histories make this book unique in offering a fully comprehensive exploration of electional rules in a concise and highly readable format.

I would recommend this book to any astrologer interested in developing a confident understanding of electional techniques. Timely explanations of traditional terms and a very useful glossary make it particularly appealing to modern students, who have suffered too long from a dearth of digestible literature on this extremely practical and informative subject. Even professionals will benefit from the fresh perspective Joann has brought to the subject. Sadly electional astrology is becoming an underestimated study, with a lot of confusion around its rules and very little active debate or exploration of its philosophy and methods. Let's hope this book will stimulate more attention and a deeper appreciation of its principles in the future.

Deborah Houlding
July, 2005

  1 ] Vivian E. Robson, Electional Astrology, (J.P. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1937); available as a facsimile reprint from various suppliers and accessible as a PDF file on the internet at Back to text

  2 ] Dorotheus of Sidon, Carmen Astrologicum, dating from 1st century AD; translated by David Pingree, (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1976).
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  3 ] William Ramesey, Astrologia Restaurata [or Astrology Restored] (R. White, London, 1653); the fifth book is dedicated to electional astrology. A retyped and annotated version by Kim Farnell has recently been published by Ascella (email Kim Farnell for details), and a facsimile version is available from Ballantrae and other suppliers of out of print works.
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