Timing for the Perfect Trip or Vacation — A Case Study

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 Departure for the airport if I had left 2 hours before boarding time.

Departure for the airport if I had left 2 hours before boarding time.

I've used astrology to do solar return travel for my birthday for years now (with amazing success) but this last vacation was the first trip where I used electional astrology to time my departure for a vacation/birthday solar return trip to Iceland. I wanted to achieve as smooth and as enjoyable of a trip as possible. and now that I just got back yesterday, I can say that it was AMAZING, thanks to my good electional work. I was stunned at how incredible, and how literal the elected chart and my predictions turned out.

With travel, one uses the electional chart to determine the moment one would cross the threshold of one's home and lock the door. This moment is the moment that we use to signify the beginning of a big trip. 

My departure was going to be on December 2nd at 8:30am to catch an 11am flight. To the right  is a chart of a departure for that time. 

This chart looks like a complete disaster of a trip and here's why. 

— The ascendant is tightly conjunct malefic Saturn and Mercury about to retrograde. Mercury retrograding back into Saturn in Sagittarius just feels like a disorderly mess with spikes between a rock and a hard place, such unnecessary duress and possibly dangerous. Setting off at this time provokes accidents, since it's on the ascendant.
— Mercury about to retrograde is also the ruler of the 9th house, ruling air travel, however it's at an aneretic, critical degree in the sign opposite it's ruling sign, Gemini. It is out of place here, and at a critical degree, prone to plunges or rash moves. This isn't a good feeling especially with it going into retrograde during my trip.
— The moon is in the 5th house of pleasure and fun but it isn't applying to any useful aspects before she leaves Taurus. And although she is waxing and in her exaltation in Taurus, she is conjunct in the middle of Algol, probably the most dangerous star of all, which I very much prefer to avoid any activation of since whenever algol is activated by transits, it triggers physical discomfort and debilitating illness for me.
Because she's not making any useful applying aspects, I get the hunch that I wouldn't even be able to see or take part in a lot of the things I've planned for the trip because of some delay or problem. Absolutely must avoid!
— Mars is above the horizon and strong in the 10th, but positively malefic as this is a day chart. Mars is also in its detriment in Libra. It's also opposite Uranus in the 4th house, which also spells out accidents and calamity.
—Looking to the 4th house, which is usually the end of any electional matter, Uranus in the 4th seems a bit too unstable for my taste. 
—The sun, ruler of the 8th house, is shut up in the 12th house.  If all this doesn't spell out a visit to a hospital, I don't know what. 
— At least the part of fortune in the 6th spells out that I would reasonably recover from any accident or illness...

Suffice to say, knowing all of this, I couldn't leave at this time. So I searched for a reasonable time within a 12 hour window and found this one to be the best, with all things considered given the transits.

The Elected Chart for Departure

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This chart required that I actually leave the night before! This is for 8:16 pm, a little more than 12 hours before I would have planned otherwise.

Waxing Moon for Fun and Friends

With Cancer rising at 27 degrees, the moon becomes the strongest element and the premier focus.  She's in her exaltation and in the second face of Taurus, which she rules. Here she gives "slow but steady triumph in all manifest areas." Well I absolutely wanted to manifest a magnificent trip. Notice how she's also on the cusp on the 11th house — fitting since this trip would be a short vacation with a girl friend of mine who would be flying in from the UK to meet me in Iceland — the Moon lending her beneficence to the 11th house of friends and social activity would be amazing! Most importantly, the moon is safely away from the malefic fixed star, Algol, (using a 1° orb ) which would contribute a great deal to the mood and safety of the trip. 

The Moon Applying, Or Not

I still wasn't able to have her in applying aspect to any other planets without leaving much earlier.  I could have had her applying in trine to Pluto in Capricorn for a more positively transforming experience, but I would have needed to leave much earlier, and I really needed the time to work, pack and get my life in order. 

Neptune For Discovery and Dreaminess

The ruler of the 9th house of air travel is Neptune, and in its home sign of Pisces, it couldn't be more dreamy and strong.  This would have been inadvisable for any business trip where I wanted to get a lot done, but because this was a vacation where I wanted to take lots of photographs, discover the glaciers and lagoons of Iceland, and see the northern lights, all of these activities, especially photography, are ruled by Neptune. here Neptune is also just on the cusp of the 9th, giving it extra oomph, I think. 

Action Packed

Mars rules the 10th house which is, in this instance the aspirations of this trip.  It's true that because we have only 3-4 days in Iceland, each day would be packed with fast moving activity such as riding through tundra, hiking glaciers with crampons, and even snowmobiling. Having mars in the 4th house representing the end of the matter, I think all of these endeavors would be pulled off with success. Because Mars rules my natal house of fun and pleasure, I think having it so strong in this chart would in fact be good. I also have it natally in Libra, so I wasn't concerned with mars in a detrimental sign. Here Mars is also conjunct the benefic star Spica, so I think it wouldn't be setting off anything detrimental for me as Spica is also strong in my natal chart. 

Yup, Mars is indeed opposite unpredictable Uranus, but as Uranus rises in my natal chart, and since it's presently transiting my 5th house of fun and pleasure, again ruled by Mars, I'm not bothered by this in fact I just hoped that this would mean a happy, exciting sense of surprise to the trip.

Overall Trip Success

Jupiter is also in the 4th house, bringing its beneficence to the 4th house representing "the end of the matter" — that this would be a successful and fun trip. It's also the ruler of the 6th house, and because Jupiter is so strong in my natal chart, I knew this would figure for good health despite the line up of Mercury in retrograde, Saturn and pluto in the 6th.

Here's To Not Going To A Hospital

Do you like how I shunted malefic Saturn and Mercury in retrograde to a weaker, cadent 6th house? I was hoping that the effects of mercury in retrograde and Saturn in the tail end of Saturn would be less noticeable here. Again, because Jupiter is the ruler of the 6th house of health and service and also a strong planet for me natally, I was confident they wouldn't stir up TOO much trouble for me here.

Beautiful Friends & Their Benefits

The 11th house of 'Friends' and 'Dreams Come True' begins in Taurus and is ruled by Venus, also the ruler of the Moon. Although Venus is under the sun's beams, newly ingressed in Sagittarius, she's still isn't combust, and here I was able to place these in the 5th house of fun and pleasure, which was absolutely the point of the entire trip. In sagittarius they're both strong and adventurous. And because I have plenty of beneficial planets in Sagittarius, I knew this is a great place for these transiting my natal lineup.

Protecting Possessions

Whenever I travel I am very concerned about losing or damaging important things like my wallet, passport, gloves, phone, cameras, headphones etc. Even when I'm careful I somehow manage to nick an expensive thing or lose jewelry etc. Also with mercury in retrograde, it seemed almost a given. So I was worried when I saw the Sun, the ruler of the 2nd house of possessions, applying in an exact square to the 9th house ruler of the trip, Neptune. It seemed like something might be sacrificed by the trip, what I wasn't sure but I was reassured by the fact that the north node just gently hovered over the 2nd house of possessions.  Here, I had the feeling that not only would my possessions be ok, but that I would also somehow gain somehow in this trip, with the North Node opposing the Part of Fortune, something was going to happen to this effect but it would be hard to say what. 

My Trip

 I can't even make this stuff up.

I can't even make this stuff up.

A few hours before this departure time I had a flurry of friends texting and calling me and I told them about wanting to leave 12 hours before I needed to for "astrological reasons."  One friend invited me to sleep over at hers, while another friend actually was leaving for the airport in the early morning for a work trip, and offered to let me spend the night at hers so we could share a ride. Already, my friends and fun were coming into the picture!

I locked my door at 8:15 and headed out to join my friend where we hung out, had some dinner, but I also I needed to do some work to turn in for a deadline the next day.  I got some work done, but not as much as I would have liked. The next morning when we set out for the airport at 7 am, I realized I forgot a round hairbrush and lamented the idea of going back to mine to get it, reversing all of my efforts (mercury in retrograde, Neptune square sun) but then my friend whipped out an amazing brush that she said she didn't need, she has 3 of the same one. What a score! (North Node on 2nd House cusp, opposite PoF).

We parted ways at the airport and I headed to check in at my gate.  I tried to check in to my usual airline lounge but then realized I wouldn't have time to go through international security — during this mix up of turning myself around to a different terminal, I found $100 on the ground and couldn't find anyone who would have dropped it. What a score! (North Node on Cusp of 2nd, way to go! Opposite Part of Fortune?) Amazing.

Normally I fly a different airline where I have status and I was concerned that I didn't have the advantage of priority at security or boarding. But everything happened fluidly, there was space for my luggage, I was able to board easily.  I was asked to switch seats but really that was the only unexpected thing I encountered. The flight was moderately comfortable for an 8 hour flight and I even got 3 hours of rest. 

We landed at 3:50 am and it was a blur. I felt nauseous from the time difference but I forced myself to brush my teeth, wash my face and then to try to sleep another hour and a half on an airport bench before I would have to leave for my airport transfer to the blue Lagoon. The lagoon wouldn't be open until 8 am and there was nothing else to do but sleep. Trying to sleep in this state was the worst part of the entire trip.  Now looking back I see that the ruler of my 12th house, which rules the unconscious and sleep, is Mercury, and as we know, mercury was about to retrograde and uneasy at the tale end of Sagittarius.  No wonder I felt an inability to sleep. 

 Sun rising over the Blue Lagoon, Iceland. 

Sun rising over the Blue Lagoon, Iceland. 

I slept restlessly until about an hour before having to leave, forced myself to buy a green juice, which I carefully nursed on my way out of customs.  Getting onto the airport transfer was easy and the bus left on time.

When we arrived at the Blue Lagoon, it was pitch black still but the landscape of lava rock seemed so strange — I kept thinking this was the beginning of a space adventure film.  Before I heard of Iceland being described as a different planet, and really, it is. I rolled my suitcase along a path winding through a giant lava rock field — it just felt like I was anywhere but earth, but at the same time it felt dreamy and calming. I entered the actual lagoon when it was dark but beautifully lit with steam rising from the blue geothermal water into the cold night air. Because I was alone all I had to do was relax and possibly set up my camera equipment to catch the sunrise over the lagoon. I very carefully carried my tripod,  camera and remote shutter slowly across one end of the lagoon to another and then set them up carefully over a mound of lava rock.  To this day, I still can't believe with my luck that I didn't manage to damage, lose  or drop any of my devices into the water, especially given the fact that I started and ended my trip with sunrises at the blue lagoon. Anyway, there I waited and relaxed in the serene pools until the sun slowly peaked out beneath the clouds. 

 The blue lagoon water's color owes to the amount of naturally occurring suphur, minerals and silica. 

The blue lagoon water's color owes to the amount of naturally occurring suphur, minerals and silica. 

If I felt like complete garbage getting off of my red eye flight earlier, I was completely renewed, restored and glowing with positivity and strength after I left the lagoon — not only that, I had pain from stiff muscles in my neck and shoulders that seemed to just melt away after so much time in the water. Later when I met up with my friend she could not believe the amount of energy and spark I had despite so little sleep.

I won't bore you with a play by play of my trip, but list the poignant turn outs as they relate to the elected chart. 

— I couldn't sleep really the entire trip, averaging 3-4 hours a night (thanks to 12th house ruler in detriment and about to retrograde but I had plenty of energy and strength (moon, asc. ruler in exaltation, waxing in the 2nd face of Taurus).

— After arriving at Reykjavik, I realized that the track pad to my laptop mysteriously stopped working. I anticipated at least this much with Mercury about to retrograde and applying in conjunction to Saturn. I knew the key wasn't to get frustrated but to simply plan around it.  So I texted my friend who was now at Heathrow airport and she picked up a USB mouse no problem. I knew that this might just be a temporary issue, but I plan to take it to the apple store after mercury stations direct and Saturn has ingressed into Capricorn. But just as she was buying this mouse for me, her own phone fritzed and she was non communicative until she landed in Iceland.  Mercury conjunct Saturn, indeed.

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— I expected more upheaval in areas where I expected service and help from others, with Mercury and Saturn conjunct in the 6th house. Everyone encountered in this capacity however was so lovely, friendly, and almost too jolly, and perhaps that's due to the fact that Jupiter ruled the 6th house of service, and it's strongly placed in the 4th house, and seemingly seemed to be enough to mitigate the nasty Mercury & Saturn conjunction therein. If anything, I felt like I was getting lost trying to locate our bus transfers or pick ups and connect and find these folk.

But back to the Mercury & Saturn conjunction, experiences like being redirected to a different terminal on the flight out, the hotel switching us from one room to another across from it, losing the hotel keys or simply forgetting to bring them, having to constantly go back to my locker at the lagoon maybe 10 times to grab something I forgot, were all little things that seemed hardly annoying, but still took time. I noticed if I wasn't being guided by a tour, I was easily disoriented and had to retrace my steps or go back and change things. Because I had a more go with the flow attitude that wasn't so controlling (except for when it came to controlling the lighting and exposure of images) it made for a very smooth trip overall. Something to remember for Mercury in retrograde experiences.

—The first full day with my friend started at 6:30 am with an action packed 18 hour tour. We had limited 5-6 hours of sunlight but we saw so much of the southern coast, because our small tour bus flew like a demon down the main road. We ate on the go but felt so lucky to see glaciers, ice bergs on a beach, the black sand beach of Vik (which famously has been the site of so many films and shows I love, so Neptune!) but each place we went felt like such a gift to witness. Now in hindsight, I realize that each destination was really a massive body of water, or water doing odd and strange things — very, very strong Uranus and Neptune travel I would say. We visited the ocean at Vik, a gigantic waterfall, a geyser, then to Jokulsarlon, a glacier lake, and then we climbed into a monster truck that traversed the base of Vatnajokul glacier which we scaled with crampons and climbed inside. The glacier was an incredible thing to see and experience inside, so cognitively dissonant since this thing was from a different geological era. we felt like we were witnessing something amazing, huge and utterly strange. Absolutely strong Uranus and Neptune inspirations abounded.

— My favorite movie genre really is sci-fi and I realized on this tour that we were physically visiting such strange natural phenomena that can only be found in Iceland, which is why these landscapes were the setting of so many of my favorite Sci Fi films. It was like a strange bend in reality to physically be and to see the backdrops from Star Wars, Interstellar, Game of Thrones and the like. Even the fact that we saw, not just the Northern lights, twice, but such a strong, and vivid dancing display of them on our first night. It's incredible and difficult to describe but the lights danced with the strength and vividness of a laser light show at a rave party. Again this cinematic experience is all thanks to the following signatures: the positive manifestations of such a  strong Uranus in the 10th house, and Neptune in Pisces ruling the 9th house of travel and grand experience.

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 Northern lights captured with an SLR on the second night. 

Northern lights captured with an SLR on the second night. 

Extending to this idea of a cinematic experience realized, was the fact that we saw the most vivid display of the northern lights imaginable not just on one, but two nights.  To put this in perspective for those who've never seen them, many people will go Iceland for a week or longer and may never see the northern lights without the aid of an SLR camera on high exposure and only after the fact. The phenomenon of high activity, high movement "dancing" northern lights, requires a confluence of factors that truly make seeing them feel like a miracle. Many northern light tours operate under the caveat that there's no guarantee to seeing northern lights and that's because that's like guaranteeing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

On the night of the supermoon during our 18 hour tour we pulled over on the side of the road and were hopeful.  We just saw two greenish gray blobs that seemed to move slightly.  Then all of a sudden the EXPLODED into dancing streaks that morphed into different colors and shapes that seem to extend across the entire sky, like a laser light show at the most intense rave party.  With the super moon (at Gemini 11°) it was a once in a life time experience. Even our Icelandic driver and tour guide were speechless and said that they hadn't seen anything quite like it in years. It was a particular dream come true for my friend, who later showed me that it was on her life's bucket list of top things to do, to see the northern lights. In the election chart for the trip, surely this was helped by the moon waxing in her exaltation, the second face of Taurus, and this was placed at the cusp of the 11th house of dreams realized. But this laser light show, the sheer rarity, oddity, and otherworldly nature of the light phenomenon, I will attribute to a strongly positioned Uranus in the 10th, and a well aspected Neptune, ruler of the trip overall. Not only this, sharing this beautiful one of a kind experience with a friend, I think, brought us closer. 

 Northern lights captured on an iPhone, during the December supermoon in Gemini.

Northern lights captured on an iPhone, during the December supermoon in Gemini.

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— By the end of the second day we were so exhausted from all of the action packed in the past 48 hours. we could hardly muster the energy to go on a northern lights hunting excursion that night, but we rallied, despite the cold, and we saw them for a second time. At this point we were on the brink of happy collapse dreaming of dipping into the blue lagoon for our last day. Maybe this is the manifestation of Mars ruled Aries ruling the midheaven of the trip; Mars placed in the 4th house opposing Uranus in the 10th, to signify that the end or the success of the trip would be that it would be action filled. In the next sign but in the same house, was mars ruled Jupiter in Scorpio which was in an applying trine to Neptune, the ruler of the house of travel. The trip was a success, all of the goals were met but not without a great deal of activity. We did feel as though we had successfully ran a marathon. 

— On the last day just before heading to the airport from the Blue Lagoon, we sat down at the very fancy 5 star restaurant.  We were wearing just our spa robes and sitting down to what we thought was almost too fancy of a lunch. But we ordered up an exquisite spread.  Everything was fine until my friend noticed a blonde eyelash baked into her bread roll — we alerted the server who was so overly apologetic, she promptly brought out twice as many rolls. We aren't too fussy and soon forgot about this, but when we motioned to sign for the check, the maÎtre d, came over and said that the $150+ lunch was on the house.  I repeat, ON THE HOUSE. Our response; "What! are you sure?" We were incredulous. He said, "Absolutely." If this isn't the best argument for placing a north node on the 2nd house of personal income of any election, I don't know what... This probably was also due to its hard aspect to the Part of Fortune,  (conjunct the south node, in the 8th). I liked the placement because of my forgetfulness and general Sag clumsiness, I wanted to make sure i didn't accidentally lose or break anything —and I certainly didn't but I'm amazed at the fact that I actually GAINED substantially with this signature.

In summary, I had to remind myself that there is no such thing as a perfect chart but this was as close as I would get and I couldn't be more pleased with how my dreamy vacation and solar return trip turned out. In all I think I'll definitely be using electional astrology to guide my departures going forward. Most of all I was amazed at how literal my very quick election interpretation turned out. I'm still amazed and delighted on my hunch of using the north node on the 2nd house; I found $100, and had a sumptuous lunch on the house, a new hair brush, not to mention other credits and bonuses from the travel. All in all the trip was a net positive in addition to the incredible experience.

Do you have any instances in which you've used, or wish you had used astrology to time your take off for a vacation?

Placidus VS. Wholesign

Presently I am experimenting between using Placidus and Whole Sign House systems for elections. I use whole sign for horary astrology and understand the arguments for using Whole Sign for Electional, but I'm someone who enjoys learning through experimental practice, first on myself, so I'm comparing and contrasting the use of placidus and whole sign elections at the moment.