Astrology Secrets Revealed by ERIC FRANCIS

Why Does The Moon?


July 1, 2005


Dear Eric,


I need help with understanding the movements of the Moon. For several years now, I've been learning to follow the planets using an astrological/planetary date book that shows dates and times (by time zone) for the aspects and movements of most planetary bodies.


Here is my question: What determines the length of time that the Moon spends in each sign, and for which it is void-of-course? I understand the general concept, but I can't for the life of me figure out why sometimes the Moon is void for hours, and sometimes, mere minutes.


Unfortunately, the book doesn't seem to offer an explanation for this phenomenon. Could you please help me?


Thank you so much for your time, and thank you to Jonathan for all the joy and help that your horoscopes bring into our lives!


Warm regards




Seattle USA



Dear Jade


Before I get into the technical aspect of your question, I would like to make a recommendation: please get yourself a better ephemeris, and please get a copy of the "Arkana Dictionary of Astrology" by Fred Gettings.


Planetary date books are nice; they often have interesting information. But if you have an interest in astrology that lasts consistently, say, for more than a year, invest in real tools. The best ephemeris is an annual edition called Raphael's. It's not widely available in the United States and I recommend getting it by phone order from the London Astrology Shop (linked from my homepage, bottom right). They carry it year round. Most places that do get it run out early in the year. It costs about $10 and is one of the best astrological tools ever published. A new one comes out each autumn and once you get started, you will wait eagerly for it.


And, since much of astrology is learning the meaning of words, I highly recommend having access to books that tell you what words mean. Gettings' is the best dictionary that I've seen. Another source in this league is the Astrology Encyclopedia by James R. Lewis, which is excellent. Used ones are cheap on Amazon.


You can also Google things. But information on the Internet is only as good as its source. So read several sources and contrast them, looking for common ground and divergences. You will eventually piece together some coherent ideas.


As for the technical part. Your question is really two questions. The void-of-course Moon is one thing, and the speed of motion of the Moon (which determines how long it spends in a sign) is something different. It is not just the Moon's speed that determines the length of the Moon void, but rather (much more significantly) the positions of the other planets.


First let me address the speed of motion issue. All the heavenly bodies that orbit the Sun do so in elliptical orbits, that is, slightly egg-shaped circles; the Moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse as well. When the Moon is close to the Earth (perigee), it moves through the signs more quickly. When it's at the far point (apogee) it moves more slowly. This is a visual illusion; it moves the same speed in reality, but it moves through the signs in more or less time.


Raphael's is the only ephemeris I know of that still has tables for daily motions of the planets, which are less important now that computers do most of our chart calculations.


According to this table, today, June 30, the Moon will move 12 degrees and 51 minutes.


It is now slowing down, approaching the apogee. By July 8, it will move only 11 degrees and 50 minutes in one day. Then it will speed up. By July 21, it will move an incredible 15 degrees and 18 minutes in one day. As you can see, this is a very wide variable, more than 20%.


The speed of the Moon is an interesting thing to watch in charts. William Lilly, the great horary astrologer of the 17th century, said that while the Moon does not ever go retrograde, when it is slow, it is the equivalent of retrograde.


Set that aside.


The void-of-course Moon can be defined as: the interval between when the Moon makes its last major aspect to any planet in any sign, and when it enters the next sign.


Let me state it a little longer-hand. When the Moon enters a new sign, which it does every two to three days (that variable depends on the speed, see above), it begins making aspects to planets. It will square this planet and trine that planet and is like a baseball that's in play, bouncing from aspect to aspect.


Eventually, the Moon will run out of planets to make aspects to -- for that trip through a particular sign. And when this happens, the Moon is said to be void, until it enters the next sign. It is out of play until it reaches a new sign and starts making new aspects.


The main factor that affects how long the Moon is void is how late in any other sign the last planet out is standing. (You see all this action by watching the degree numbers, by the way.) Currently this is Saturn, which is in the 29th degree of Cancer. So there will be relatively short lunar voids, as the Moon moves about a degree every two hours. The Moon will aspect Saturn at the end of a run, keep going, and enter the new sign fast.


For now, the lunar void will end about three hours after the last aspect to Saturn. When Saturn goes into Leo, it will no longer be the latest planet in a sign. And the timing factor will change significantly, because a different planet will be the latest planet out in its sign. And if that is standing at, say, 25 degrees of its sign, you could have Moon voids that last 10 hours or longer.


When Chiron retrogrades back into Capricorn it will be the latest planet out, and there will be Moon voids that last a matter of minutes, at first. But most lunar tables don't count Chiron, which is the first problem with commercial lunar tables that I would like to bring up. Whether you count Chiron is something of a personal issue. But it is certainly a planet with a great influence, and if a date book ignores it, that should go in its included definition of the lunar void. There is a case to be made for not using the newer planets or asteroids, but by that logic, we should consider whether to use Uranus, Pluto or Neptune -- most commercial lunar tables do.


The second problem is that lunar tables (as in your date book) don't count the part of fortune. When the part of fortune is applying in a major aspect to the Moon, the Moon is NOT void-of-course. It's in an aspect, no matter what else is happening. Most people don't know this rule, and since the part of fortune depends on knowing the ascendant (a local phenomenon) it cannot be listed in a date book.


The third problem with date books is that they count the void period as beginning at the exact moment of the last aspect. This is entirely inaccurate, and they should all issue an apology to their readers and publish a correction. The Moon's void period actually begins AFTER the last lunar aspect is done separating; that is, when it enters a new degree. When it is partile (or in the exact degree of the aspect), it is still IN aspect and thus is NOT void.


This can be a difference of as long as two hours! That means that the commercial Moon void times given in date books can be inaccurate by up to that long. Fortunately, they are erring on the safe side; but typically the void is shorter than they actually say.


None of this addresses what about the Moon void is meaningful in interpretation. And that has different applications for different circumstances. I'll get into that a different week, but I'm sure I've covered it in this column before; please check the archives.


Here are two archived links to check for Moon v/c articles:


Eric Francis - April 22nd


Eric Francis - March 18th