The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 15, titled:
The Ethics of Using Electional Astrology to Time a Birth
With Chris Brennan and guest Patrick Watson
Episode originally released on February 24, 2014
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released September 25, 2022
Copyright © 2022 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, I’m Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Friday, February 21, 2014, and this is the 15th episode of the show. You can find the show at TheAstrologyPodcast.com, and you can also listen to us on iTunes. My co-host today is Arizona-based astrologer Patrick Watson, and our topic is the subject of electing birth charts for a newborn baby and some of the ethical and practical issues surrounding that. So, Patrick, welcome back to the show.
PATRICK WATSON: Thank you for having me.
CB: Yeah, it’s been, I think, almost a year since our last podcast together when we recapped the astrology of the 2012 presidential election. And it’s been kind of an eventful year for you, I think, right?
PW: I would say so.
CB: So you had a baby last month on—what was it—January 24, 2014?
PW: That’s right. Yeah, at 1:04 PM exactly. I made sure to get the time as precisely as possible.
PW: So that was right on the dot, 1:04 PM. And that ended up being important because it came really, really close to the Ascendant being in another sign, but he ended up being 29 Taurus rising.
CB: Okay. And his name is?
PW: James Patrick Watson.
CB: All right. Excellent. Yeah, so you knew maybe nine months, I guess, before then—eight or nine months—that you were going to have a baby. And somewhere towards the end of the pregnancy, you realized that you were gonna have to have a C-section, basically, because there were complications. So you were actually put in a unique and interesting situation that we thought would be interesting to talk about because we discussed it before James was actually born. I mean, you guys had to schedule a date in order to do the C-section. And so, you were met with sort of this interesting philosophical issue as an astrologer, which was whether or not to exercise some control from an astrological perspective in terms of trying to elect the birth chart for your first child, basically, and that was kind of an interesting place to be. And how did that feel? Or what were some of your thoughts once you realized that’s what was happening?
PW: Well, I certainly recognized the opportunity that that afforded me, that I might be able to in some way guide, you know, what this child might be like, and have some influence over whether or not I could, you know, increase the best and decrease the worst. Ultimately, I didn’t want to let my ‘astrological engineering’ interfere or get in the way of my wife’s health. I mean, that was the primary concern for me…
PW: …but I knew that we had a choice. My wife said that she wanted to have the child earlier because it would be far worse to be scheduled for a C-section later and then end up having to go into natural labor anyway and then get a C-section, an emergency one. The official due date was January 31, and the doctor gave us a choice, basically—any weekday beginning at 9:30 in the morning, from January 23 to the 31st. So given that my wife wanted to have the baby earlier, I kind of gave a special preference to the days earlier in that range. January 23 and January 24 were really the only two options in my mind. I didn’t really want to let it go much later ‘cause I was afraid of an emergency C-section.
PW: But it also just so happened that between those two dates that January 24 had some favorable things. You know, it’s not really too much of a choice. You sort of have a choice, but, I mean, it’s still within the range of, you know, realistic possibilities.
CB: Sure. Yeah, and I remember that beforehand, or when you were trying to decide—when did you decide? It was like a week or two, or maybe three weeks before?
PW: Yeah, it was around early January. Yeah, early January.
CB: I remember you were talking to other astrologers about it on a Facebook forum.
CB: And you seemed to have some ambivalence because you were trying to decide what would be best from an ethical standpoint. On the one hand, you could argue different parts of this. On the one hand, is it ethical to elect the chart for a person’s birth given the premise that in some sense that you might almost ‘lock’ a person into not only certain positive things, but also potentially certain negative or challenging things?
PW: You know, ultimately, I don’t think it’s unethical. I mean, as long as the health of the mother and the baby are what are being kept at the forefront. I don’t think it’s terribly unethical to elect a birth chart because you’re already responsible for everything that basically happens to them anyway. I mean, is it that much worse if you have also elected the time that they were born? I mean, no, it doesn’t make you responsible for every bad and good thing that happens to them. But at the same time, you’re also responsible for them living at all and a whole range of experiences that they won’t have any control over and that are a direct result of choices that you’ve made. So it’s not really that much more than what you’re already assuming responsibility for, so I don’t think it’s terribly unethical.
PW: And I think especially since I have, you know, the astrological knowledge to possibly try to rectify a better chart. But I think in some ways it’s also a fool’s errand because if we accept the basic premise of astrology—that, you know, things are predestined so that we are able to say something about what happens in the future—then, you know, the birth is gonna happen at whatever time it’s gonna happen anyway. And I think we kind of saw that a bit with James because I was trying to decide between, you know, whether it would be better to have him be a Pisces rising or an Aries rising—because Pisces rising, then Jupiter would be the ruler of the Ascendant, and it would be in a better position because it’s in Cancer in the 5th. But then the chart was generally more eminent with Aries rising, even though it was more problematic because of the contrary to the sect Mars ruling the Ascendant.
But what ended up happening is he ended up being Taurus, and I didn’t even think he was gonna be that late. There were a few complications right before the surgery. They unsuccessfully tried to give my wife a spinal, which is basically delivering medicine right into the spine which would numb the experience. And it also happened later because there was an emergency C-section that came in the time that James would have. So while Aries was rising, there was a woman across from us in the hall who was going to have an emergency C-section. So there were kind of a few last minute things that ended up happening that ended up making him be born right at the time that he was.
PW: So, you know, I tried to influence it to what degree I ethically could. But ultimately, he came when he—and I guess the universe or whatever—decided he was gonna come out and what kind of fate and life he would have.
CB: Right. Yeah, and, I mean, it ended up working out really well in the sense that ahead of time, you were initially wrestling with the issue early in January about, on the one hand, is it ethical to pick the birth chart and isn’t that kind of a weighty thing to do—to choose someone’s birth chart for them prior to being born. But then on the other hand, one of the counterarguments that I thought of was, you know, having that knowledge, having a background in astrology, being an astrologer, and also having a background in generally practicing electional astrology—would it be ethical for you ‘not’ to elect the birth chart, or not to try to give your child the best start that they could?
I mean, isn’t that something that most parents do in most areas of a person’s life? To whatever extent, they can influence some control over their environment in order to try and make life, you know, perhaps better for the child than it was for the parent, or in order to try and look out for them that you try and do some of those things. And I think that almost because part of the argument that you ended up going with—that it made more sense to try and help rather than thinking that it was too…
CB: …too weighty.
PW: But the thing that boggles my mind is what if I hadn’t elected the birth chart and he came at the same time anyway?
CB: Yeah, I mean, we do see that happen sometimes. You know, people sometimes do things and end up with the perfect chart that day without having used an electional astrologer or the chart. I mean, I’ve seen instances in which somebody ended up using the very chart that I would have used.
CB: I remember actually a few years ago, several years ago, me and a friend, me and Austin Coppock, we were up late one night, like two in the morning, and we were looking at the charts for the next morning because there was this huge pileup of planets in Sagittarius, and there was this really spectacular electional chart the next morning. And we said, “There’s a great electional chart tomorrow. If somebody was born, they would have a great chart tomorrow morning.” And then it turned out that our friend Andy on the other side of the world was having a baby that next morning, and she ended up having it within like a 10- or 20-minute timespan of what we…
PW: That’s great.
CB: …identified as this great electional chart for the next day. So sometimes that does happen naturally. But in your case, it was interesting because, eventually, once you had decided to elect it, you came to me, and you and I together sort of looked at the charts and looked at what was available in that week that the doctor was giving, but also with the consideration that your wife Beth really wanted to do it sooner rather than later. And when we looked at the charts, the best day really was…
PW: Ended up being, yeah, that time anyway.
PW: So that kind of makes me think that we might have gone along with the first day anyway, and then all of the same little events that led right up to it would have occurred the same way. I almost think it’s like driving down a hill. You know, even if you aren’t pushing the gas, you are still gonna get down the hill.
CB: Sure. Yeah, and it was interesting also because, on the one hand, you did end up choosing to exert some control over it by selecting the day…
PW: I did.
CB: …that he ended up being born. But then the other part of it—which was the actual birth time—was left very much up in the air. So it ended up being kind of a 50/50-thing and that ended up being the resolution in the end. The birth date, you chose. But the birth time, you knew that it would just be a certain range in the morning, so we had figured out that it would be one of two or three rising signs. So that part of it at least, the actual final time ended up being left up to chance. And then it was interesting that that morning—because of delays in the operating room, that something happened before that—that it ended up getting, I think, almost delayed even later than anything…
CB: …we even anticipated.
PW: Yeah, definitely. And it’s funny, though, because it actually worked out because I was obsessed with getting the Moon bonified. I really wanted the Moon to be making a separating aspect from one benefic and applying to another benefic, and Pluto was kind of screwing things up that day. The Moon would normally be applying directly to Jupiter, but Pluto was making a very close aspect to Jupiter as well. So it’s funny because it so happened that it was actually so much later that the Moon had passed its aspect to Pluto and was directly applying towards Jupiter, the benefic of the sect.
CB: Right. So it was separating from—or, no, it was applying to a trine with Jupiter, and then right after that, a sextile with Venus.
PW: That’s correct.
PW: So a lot of the prioritized things I was trying to go for on that day ended up happening. And then it’s also really funny ‘cause I remember being in the operating room, right, as things were happening. And I was looking down at my phone, you know—which I had an atomic clock app on—and I had my wristwatch—which I had synced up to the atomic time as well—just in case one failed for whatever reason, and I knew that Gemini rising was coming. I knew that Gemini was coming, and I knew that I didn’t want Gemini because Gemini is ruled by Mercury, and Mercury that day actually happened to be corrupted. Now I know there was a…
CB: It was applying to a square with Saturn.
PW: It was applying to a square with Saturn and separating from a trine with Mars, so it was technically corrupted; although—because Mercury was in Aquarius—it was actually applying towards its domicile lord, which is sort of an ameliorating factor. But I knew that Gemini was gonna be a very tough rising sign for him to have, so I was kind of really hoping like, “Please, Taurus. Please, Taurus.” I mean, I was also thinking, “Oh, my gosh, I’m having a baby!” There were a lot of feelings at that moment.
PW: There were a lot of feels. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t, you know, watching the time really, really closely.
CB: Yeah, you were texting me from the operating room, telling me that it was close. And I was casting the chart and getting back to you on what the rising sign was at that point.
PW: Oh, right. But, you know, it’s funny because, you know, the Ascendant didn’t really seem to resonate with anything. When I was trying to think of what Ascendant he might have, I was thinking of, you know, natal connections between, you know, my chart or Beth’s chart or something like that. I figured it had to kind of tie in that way. My Venus is conjunct my Dad’s Ascendant, and my Mum’s Ascendant is generally opposite of my Ascendant, so I figured there might be some kind of confluence like that. But it’s really funny that it ended up being 29 Taurus because I looked back through my chronology of my relationship with Beth and I kept finding this degree popping up throughout our entire relationship.
CB: For example?
PW: For example, I have the chart for the time that my wife and I first met, and the Moon was at 29 Scorpio at that moment.
CB: Okay. So that’s your future son’s Descendant.
PW: And then on the night that me and Beth shared our first kiss, Jupiter was at 29 Taurus.
CB: Nice. Son’s future Ascendant.
PW: And then on the night that I decided to move in with Beth, which wasn’t too long after we had started seeing each other, the Moon was at 29 Taurus conjunct the North Node at 29 Taurus.
PW: And then Beth and I actually were able to…
CB: And that was actually a very dramatic night.
PW: That was a very dramatic night.
CB: That was like the night that Obama gave his acceptance speech or something, right?
PW: Yeah, that was a very tumultuous time. Actually we’d just broken up on that day, and I was kind of going back and forth about if this was the right thing to do ‘cause I felt like we might have been moving too fast. You know, but eventually I decided that I couldn’t let her go, and I was just drawn to her, and I just felt it was what I just had to do.
CB: And the Moon was exactly conjunct the North Node at 29 Taurus?
PW: It was at 29 Taurus with the North Node. I literally left the house as Obama was beginning his speech. And you know I would not have missed, you know, something as huge as that for anything.
CB: You had just spent like the past four years leading up to that point focusing on nothing but politics and writing dozens of articles about the astrology of the upcoming election, and in the end you kind of disregarded it for this relationship. So it was actually a really striking moment in your own chronology and it’s really amazing. I mean, there’s a lot of people who use the nodes that would be very impressed by this. And after downplaying the nodes and not using them as much over the past several years, this is one of the things that happened during the 2012 election, one of many nodal…
CB: …connections and transits specifically—like transits of the nodes that were really clearly very pivotal—that has convinced me to start paying much more attention than I was previously.
PW: Oh, no, absolutely. The nodes are serious stuff. I’m still on the fence about what exactly they signify. I know there’s a lot of different traditions which have a lot of different ideas about them. They’re kind of like eclipse points. They kind of remind me of eclipses. They’re almost like windows into the ‘sublunar’ sphere where there are these concrete manifestations. For example, the date that Facebook was started was a Sun-Neptune conjunction square the nodes.
PW: And so, at that time, this virtual world, you know, entered the world stage and, you know, became this really globally-important force which is very Neptunian. You know, a lot of people waste a lot of time on this, you know, virtual platform. It’s very Neptune.
PW: And then even with James himself, you know, on the day that he was born, the North Node was at—or the South Node was at 2° of Scorpio, which is the degree of my Moon, and it was square his Sun, which is at 3 Aquarius. And it’s opposite my wife’s Sun, which is at 3 Leo. So there’s this big Grand Cross configuration between his Sun, my wife’s Sun, my Moon, and the nodes. You know, the Sun and the Moon have to do with masculine and feminine qualities, so it was kind of interesting that it’s basically saying that the union of these people has produced this other person.
PW: You know, it’s literally entered the world.
CB: And speaking of that, there were a couple of other instances of 29 Taurus showing up, right?
PW: Yes. Yeah, we actually were able to deduce the nights that we must have conceived James. And I don’t think many other people get this opportunity.
CB: No, I’m just laughing at him listening to this in the future about his father talking about having his conception chart.
PW: Yeah, I figured out what time and what day it would have had to have been. And the night of conception, the Sun was at 29 Taurus, just a few days before we got married.
PW: And then the time that I actually realized these connections between 29 Taurus and Scorpio, the Moon itself at that time was at 29 Scorpio. That was like a day or so after James was born.
PW: Because I was trying to think about, you know, where 29 Taurus came from because it just seemed totally out of left field. Because I don’t have anything at 29 Taurus or Scorpio in my chart, nor does Beth, my wife.
PW: We don’t have any lots that are even at those positions. I mean, I do have Eros, I believe, at 27° when you do the nocturnal calculation, but even then the focus seems to really be on 29, not 27.
CB: Sure. So this ended up raising a point about…
PW: Right. I mean, to me, it’s kind of throwing me for a loop. I mean, were those transits, then, throughout my relationship with Beth—were those in anticipation of James’ Ascendant? Or did the transits essentially ‘call’ on James’ Ascendant to be 29 Taurus? It’s almost like he always had to have his Ascendant at 29 Taurus because of these transits. It’s kind of a problem because usually, you know, the reason why we say a transit is important is because it makes a contact to your natal chart. But in this case, we seem to have transits which are affecting a chart which doesn’t even exist yet.
CB: Yeah, it’s like a foreshadowing.
PW: Yeah, and that seems very—I don’t know. That’s very spooky. And I’m wondering now if there are any other examples of this.
PW: ‘Cause that would be really, really super weird.
PW: Yeah, go ahead.
CB: I was just gonna say that becomes one of those things that’s very hard to study. And this is a very interesting case because you’re an astrologer and you’re paying attention to it. But it relates back to the previous show I recorded with Kenneth Miller about whether it’s better to have celebrity charts or to use personal charts for study purposes or for examples, and this is actually a good example of probably the ultimate virtue of using a personal chart, like your own or people close to you. You can follow and see really what otherwise from the outside looks like minor things. But you can actually notice things like this that you otherwise wouldn’t notice in someone else’s life.
PW: Actually, you know, it’s funny. I think right now the Moon is at 25 Scorpio, so we’re coming up again to this degree. And, of course, it makes me a little worried about when Saturn hits 29 Scorpio as well a little later this year.
PW: ‘Cause now I know that it also directly affects him, but then might also have, you know, implications for my relationship with Beth. But, you know, it’s just one of those things that’s so kind of ubiquitous that now I’m getting a little paranoid with any of these transits or degrees.
CB: He has a day chart, so Saturn should be a little bit more constructive for him. And he also has the Sun and Mercury and Venus—actually a bunch of his planets—in that sign. So it’s certainly an important planet, but not necessarily too negative or too malefic.
PW: Yeah. Yeah, I’m not too worried. Ultimately, I guess it’s kind of like the general question about whether it’s, you know, ethical to elect a birth or not. I mean, you could almost say the same thing about life. You know, you have your own chart, with your own, you know, predetermined fortune, basically. And we all have to face, you know, bad transits. You know, we don’t get a whole lot of choice, or as much as we’d like.
CB: Sure. It’s almost like a ‘chicken-or-egg’ scenario.
CB: Let’s say—instead of using his actual chart, let’s use a hypothetical chart. Let’s say you ended up electing a chart and you had to put Mars in the 7th house in a day chart, and it’s very poorly-placed, and there’s other negative indications for relationships. And let’s say that the person then grew up and they had major difficulties somehow in this sphere of relationships, or that somehow turned out to be the part of their life where for some reason—let’s say things outside of their control—that was just the area of their life that did not go very well. And this general question of, you know, who’s fault is that, does that then become your fault as the astrologer because you chose that specific time for that person to be born? Or is it not your fault? I mean, is that something that’s out of your hands because perhaps it would have turned out that way anyway for some reason, or because that was the way it had to be or was meant to be? There’s I guess some questions surrounding that, you might say.
PW: Well, I think that’s a good question. With James, it’s funny. I tried to exert so much control over the time. But then, ultimately, it seems like the time was already etched in stone. You know, that it was gonna be 29 Taurus, I guess. One question I have is why wouldn’t it have been 29 Scorpio? The general axis seems to be significant.
CB: Well, I mean, one of the problems there is just the fact that it had to be a C-section at that point.
PW: Mm-hmm. It was almost like it always had to happen this way. I don’t know if we can really freely—what if electing the chart itself is also a part of your fate? I don’t know if we can really escape that. I guess I’m kind of tearing down the point of doing electional astrology, but I don’t know how you really get around that. You know, if we accept the basic astrological premise, then it sort of almost becomes a pointless exercise. But at the same time, if I hadn’t done these things, who knows? It could have changed or it could have turned out differently. But I don’t know. I think the example of, you know, all the transits for 29 Scorpio and Taurus—it just says to me that it was always gonna have to be 29 Taurus.
PW: And that it wasn’t really in my control, even though I tried. But that’s why I think it’s good to still try to elect because it’s gonna happen the way it does anyway, so you might as well get in on the details.
CB: Sure. And I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying it wasn’t in your control because that’s one of the funny things, especially the ancient conceptualization of fate. Fate is not just that’s external to you, that’s, you know, like—what’s that movie about fate? Final Destination. You know, they escape Death, and then Death is chasing them, and it’s messing with things in their environment, which are causing these freak accidents to happen, but it’s all this external thing.
And oftentimes I feel in our culture that’s how fate is conceptualized. But in the ancient world, in Western astrology, in Hellenistic astrology, and where this type of horoscopic astrology using birth charts with aspects and progressions and transits and everything else originated, their conceptualization of fate was not just that it’s an external thing—it’s definitely that—but also that it’s an internal thing. That even your very character and psyche and the actions and the choices that you make are somehow tied into the causal nexus of fate, so that even your own choices to some extent become fated in some way, or at least can be fated in some sense. And that’s what this almost implies to me. It’s not that you didn’t have a choice, but even the choices that you did make in some sense might have to a certain extent…
CB: …fated or predetermined, or at least…
PW: Right. Yeah.
CB: …inclined in a certain direction.
PW: No, I definitely agree with that. I guess I’m just saying that that in and of itself is like not having a choice, even though I have had choices which in and of themselves were fated.
PW: Yeah, it’s weird stuff.
CB: Yeah, I guess it presents an interesting problem when it comes to electional astrology. You know, usually in modern times, in 20th and 21st century astrology, we assume electional astrology is evidence of astrologers having free will, or it’s some evidence that astrology does not imply that things are completely predetermined. But things like what you’re pointing out in terms of his Ascendant and the number of different instances of foreshadowing of that axis of those degrees as being important in your relationship with your wife prior to the birth of your son—and then that degree coming up as important and actually becoming his Ascendant, and then he’s born or comes into the world at that moment—it kind of raises some of those issues in terms of questions about how much free will we actually do exert over things, and if it’s completely free or if it’s still tied in, to a certain extent, with, you know, who we are and where we’re going.
PW: I think the other really other compelling thing about this is that those degrees don’t even bear a relation to either of our charts.
PW: Not even midpoints or anything.
CB: I mean, there’s probably some midpoint, right?
PW: Maybe. Yeah, maybe. I didn’t see any when I was looking.
PW: But I think that’s what makes it all the more compelling is the fact that it’s not even related to any of our charts. It really is a kind of ‘left field’ degree, but then it was his Ascendant…
PW: …and just always had to be there. And then the fact that the Ascendant was so close to being Gemini. You know, we might even say there’s some leeway if his Ascendant was like 15 Taurus, or these connections were at 13 Taurus, or, you know, 17 Taurus. 20 Taurus even. But all of this is just right on the dot—29 Taurus. And if it was any different it would be a different sign. So in some ways I feel like the preciseness of these connections is just kind of a cosmic message, like, “We are in control.” But I do understand my role in it. You know, it feels free…
PW: …even if it’s still following the script. And I think Nick Dagan Best said this once, that ultimately you have to just pretend like you have free will. Act like you do have free will, even if you know in the back of your mind that maybe you might not. I think he said that.
PW: I apologize if he didn’t. I remember reading him saying that a long time ago, but that kind of stuck with me. Like act like you have free will. Try to make the best decisions you can, even though you can’t be entirely sure that they’re really yours.
CB: Yeah. Well, one of the problems in arguing about this issue about fate vs. free will is that even if everything, hypothetically, was completely predetermined, we’d still experience life as if we’re making choices completely freely and completely out of our own autonomy, which we assume, you know, that we could choose ‘A’ or ‘B’ at any given moment and there’s nothing that could tell you which it was gonna be ahead of time.
CB: Even if that wasn’t true, we would still have the experience as if it was completely undetermined, so it almost doesn’t make a difference in some sense.
CB: Or at least it makes it very difficult to decide. But your point about, you know, this not showing up about how that axis, or how those degrees of 29 Taurus and 29 Scorpio don’t show up in either of your charts is really interesting because it raises an issue that I was thinking about recently that’s kind of an argument in terms of a defense of the ‘time twins’ issue. You know, one of the arguments against astrology is about people who were born at the same time or in the same location and end up having the same charts having different destinies or end up doing different things. Or even two twins who are born at different times having different destinies.
PW: Oh, yeah. I mean, this is almost a complete refutation of the idea that they’re not gonna be any different. It’s almost like the chronology extends before birth. You know, the birth is still the important moment, but the universe is already giving signs, you know, that it knows about this person coming into the world and makes that degree relevant in the formation of that person between the parents that, you know, come together to make the child.
CB: Yeah. Basically, what it shows is it’s not just the person’s birth chart that has some bearing on who they will and what will end up happening to them and the external circumstances that they find themselves in. Because when a person’s born—let’s say two people are born at a hospital at the same time, and then they go home to different families and different parents—each of those parents has their own birth chart.
And then both of those, you know, couples—let’s just assume it’s a couple, two people—each of them has their own synastry and their own, you know, special midpoints and other degrees that are sensitive points for that couple. And the infant ends up growing up in that environment with their different synastry interactions with these different parents and with these different sensitive degrees interacting with their chart in different ways and emphasizing different birth chart placements. So that ends up being a lot more complex. You end up having to realize basically that things are a lot more complex than just what you see in the birth chart. It’s not just the birth chart that’s operative, but there’s other charts that end up influencing the person.
PW: And there’s a lot of really striking correlations between James’ chart and the charts of myself and my wife and my family members. You know, my mother was born with Venus conjunct Pluto. I was born with Venus conjunct Pluto. So now my son has Venus conjunct Pluto.
CB: Right. Venus retrograde stationing conjunct Pluto.
CB: With Taurus rising.
PW: Yeah, a very dramatic Venus stationing conjunct Pluto opposite Jupiter.
PW: And then that’s the other thing—he has Jupiter, I think, at the same degree as his grandparents. They all have Jupiter in Cancer. And then his Moon is in Scorpio, just like my Moon’s in Scorpio. My wife has Venus square Jupiter. He was born with Venus opposite Jupiter. Yeah, there just seems to be a lot of—oh, I was born with Mar in Libra. He was born with Mars in Libra.
PW: So there’s a lot of funny ways in which, yeah, the charts are connected. He was also born fairly close to the Mars station, and that seems to be a theme in my family. I wasn’t born with Mars retrograde, but like two of my brothers, Mars retrograde. My Mom is Mars retrograde. My grandmother on my father’s side is Mars retrograde. There’s a lot of Mars retrograde stuff in my family, so it’s just kind of fitting. He fits right in. The other really interesting thing about the time he was born is that his Saturn is essentially the Saturn return of my older brother, which in essence means that the birth of my son is the Saturn return of when my parents first became parents.
PW: So, you know, their Saturn return, they started having children. And then when the Saturn return of having children came along, yeah, we became parents, so it was the next link in the chain. Yeah, there’s a lot of really weird stuff like that.
PW: And that’s pretty common when you look at, you know, familial connections, astrological connections.
CB: Yeah, and that’s definitely I think a good or important and perhaps overlooked defense in terms of the ‘time twins’ arguments and a potential way to refute it. Although I think it’s just a technical and conceptual refutation that astrologers would see and understand and take into account. Although it might be kind of hard to make that argument in a debate ‘cause it involves going into technical issues that are a little bit more complicated or complex to explain.
PW: Yeah, I mean, they have a really good argument, you know, with you and Katie Perry.
CB: Oh, yeah, my time twin? That’s your favorite. You keep reminding me that Katie Perry was also born on the same day as me.
PW: I don’t know if we have her birth time.
PW: But no, it makes sense to me. You know, honestly, you should use her album cover as your book cover and just photoshop your face onto her face.
CB: Right. I’ll see what I can do.
PW: But yeah, sorry.
CB: Well, you actually discovered that she was into astrology recently, right?
PW: Yeah, yeah. Apparently, she has a relationship with Obama, and she’s into astrology and aliens, but I’m not entirely sure if she actually meant astronomy.
PW: But she seems like the kind of person that might be into her horoscope or something. You know, celebrities are random like that. You know, some of them lean into astrology. But yeah, apparently she said that she, you know, wanted to bring up these topics with the President. So I was joking with Chris about how this is sort of evidence of, you know, the similarities between them because they’re both like political astrologers in their own way.
CB: All right.
PW: Anyway, off-topic.
CB: Yeah, so I thought this would be a good show to record because I think this is an ethical issue, or to whatever extent this is an ethical or practical issue. One of the things that might be interesting in a few minutes is maybe looking at the different charts that we considered that day and why we ended up going with this chart, or what Ascendants we were considering and what the differences were.
CB: But I thought this would be a good topic because I think it’s gonna become an issue that astrologers deal with much more frequently. I sat in on a lecture a few years ago at the—what was it? It was an NCGR conference. I think it was in Baltimore or something, back in 2010. And an astrologer from the UK, Wendy Stacey, gave a really excellent presentation where she presented master’s or Ph.D research that she was doing that I think she’s getting ready to publish. It’s basically a study showing that the use of C-sections is on the rise, and it’s becoming more and more popular and almost more and more trendy in modern times for numerous different reasons. But the end effect is that the numbers keep increasing every single year, so that we’re moving towards a society where induced births or where C-sections become almost the norm or become much more prevalent than they are even now and some of the implications that has for astrologers.
‘Cause one of the implications is that doctors prefer it or tend to prefer C-sections because then you pick it. And they tend to recommend it because then they can make it fit their schedule, basically.
PW: And they also get paid a lot more, too.
CB: Oh, right. Yeah, that was the other point. They get paid more and it fits their schedule. Instead of, you know, going into a labor that lasts for 24 hours or something and then having the birth take place at like two in the morning, they say, “I can schedule it at 1:00 PM, after my golf game on Thursday.” But as a result of that there’s this interesting side effect for astrologers, which is that if it’s being scheduled around doctors’ schedules, what it means for virtually all C-sections is that they end up being on weekdays. So it’s Monday through Friday, so it’s no more weekend births. So no more Saturn-day or Sun-day births.
But then, also, because it’s being scheduled around the doctor’s schedule, all of the births end up taking place during business hours, basically, during the day. So between nine-to-five ends up being the window that all of these children end up being born. So the astrological, you know, result of that is that you end up having a whole generation of children that were all born with a day chart, with the Sun somewhere in the top hemisphere of the chart, in between the 12th to maybe the 8th house.
PW: That would make Mars transits a lot more dangerous for the general population since they would all have Mars contrary to the sect.
CB: Yeah, she started getting into some of this towards the end of her lecture. She was just raising the question of what this means for astrologers, and is this gonna have a major societal impact. You know, does that actually mean something that you have an entire generation of people who all have the Sun in the 10th house or the 11th house or the 9th house, which is a much more visible and much more social and public part of the chart vs. having, you know, an equal amount of people who are born with the Sun in the 4th house or the 3rd house or the 5th, which are much more private from a modern psychological standpoint?
But then, like you mentioned, there’s even other implications in terms of traditional astrology in that it kind of wreaks havoc with other astrological doctrines, like the doctrine of sect, which is that there’s an actual interpretative difference in understanding what the planets signify depending on if the person was born during the day or at night. And you mentioned Mars, for example, that Mars is traditionally held to be more malefic or more negative in a day chart and to be more positive or more constructive in a night chart. But if you have everybody born during the day, does that mean, astrologically, it shifts it so that you have a large generation of people that have Mars as the more problematic planet in their chart? I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question or how that’s gonna play out.
PW: Yeah, that’s weighty.
CB: Yeah, weighty, weighty thoughts. But your personal struggle just was interesting to me because it might be something that comes up in the future. And people don’t really discuss this very much. There was one lecture years ago, when I was attending Kepler, that was given by Dennis Flaherty who gave a lecture on the birth of his two twins and the way that he was paying attention to the astrological chart. And he kind of came to a similar conclusion in terms of them being born at the best moment or at the moment that they were supposed to be born. Otherwise, it seems like this topic isn’t discussed very much, and I haven’t seen a lot of arguments either way in terms of whether it is ethical or whether it’s not ethical, or what have you. Although, I know that I’ve seen various people expressing their views from time to time one way or another.
PW: Yeah, it really parallels the general discussion people have about, you know, genetic manipulation, genetic engineering. You know, what happens when people have such a strong preference for the sex of the child that they would decide maybe to terminate the pregnancy if it wasn’t the gender they wanted? You know, if they already had like four girls and they wanted a son, or if they already had boys and they wanted a girl, or if they just had a preference—that might throw off the natural equilibrium that’s supposed to exist to maintain a healthy balance of males and females. I think it would be a similar issue astrologically—and I guess throughout society—that you could have a lot of people who would be more—I don’t know how to express that. But yeah, it’s kind of in the upper hemisphere. I guess it would make people who aren’t really concerned with their siblings or families or children or work and money—or rather, possessions: the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th houses.
CB: Well, one of the comments—I don’t remember if Wendy Stacey made it, or if it was somebody that was in the audience. But somebody made an offhand reference in that lecture to the YouTube generation, and the generation of, you know, people right now that are growing up. And everybody’s using social media and trying to become, you know, a star and putting themselves out there…
CB: …in this really weird and interesting way.
PW: I was actually just reading an article the other day about how payment is basically being replaced by, you know, likes and social media attention. People are working for or working towards, you know, promotions and giveaways by companies which are based on popularity. Basically, popularity is the new currency. So that would be interesting if we have more and more people being born during the day.
PW: I hadn’t really thought about that.
CB: That’s a good point. I was watching an interview yesterday with 50 Cent, and he has seven million followers on Twitter. And so, a lot of advertisers for just random things want to advertise with him. He became a millionaire from promoting vitamin water just because he’s very visible as a celebrity. And therefore, that becomes the access point for advertisers to get the word out there, I guess, about their product. Anyway, that’s kind of far afield.
CB: One of the points that you were going towards was, you know, how much can we liken this to something like eugenics or like gene selection and some of the things that are starting to be done in that direction. It makes me think of the film from the mid-‘90s, Gattaca, about this futuristic society that’s driven by eugenics, where children are basically conceived through genetic manipulation in order to ensure that they possess the best traits of their parents. One could make the argument that if astrologers were regularly using electional astrology to elect births, that it would be something almost akin to that. And you get some of the same arguments in favor of or against, I would think.
CB: Except with astrology, it’s a little bit more mixed. I think every electional astrologer—every person who’s ever tried to do electional astrology—knows there’s only so much that you can control. And for whatever good things that you put in the chart, you’re gonna also end up with some bad things that you can’t control.
PW: Yeah, electional still has limits. I mean, you still have the limits of what is there. Whereas, you know, obviously, genetic manipulation is really wide open as far as what options you can consider.
PW: Yeah, if we had some sort of totalitarian society in the future where astrology was totally taken seriously, I think there would probably just be limits on when people could have children to ensure that—I guess it would be, yeah, just like Gattaca—everyone would be born with these amazing charts. ‘Cause the government wouldn’t want, you know, someone to be born with a chart that could overthrow it. But then that government would also have to be aware that, you know, their government would have to end at some point. Nothing just lasts and lasts and lasts forever. You know, every institution will have some Saturn cycle which will take them out even hundreds of years into the future or something. So a government that would acknowledge the existence of the astrological phenomenon would have to accept it in every way, to accept their own mortality in a sense, as well as the opposite notation of trying to control what charts people have.
CB: Yeah. One of the things that makes me think about it is, societally, we already probably have that in terms of—not governments saying that people can have kids. I remember a few years ago, there was some mass thing that was happening somewhere. It was either in India or China where everybody was trying to have a baby in this year because it was the Year of the Dragon or something like that. Something auspicious was happening either in Chinese astrology or Indian astrology, and so everybody was trying to have a kid that year. That was like a mass example of using a type of electional astrology for the purpose of manipulating and getting the best birth chart you can, I guess.
PW: Wow. I hadn’t heard about that. That’s really interesting.
CB: Yeah, I’m trying to remember what it was. ‘Cause I don’t remember if it was Chinese astrology or Indian astrology. I want to say it was probably Indian astrology, but I don’t remember exactly what the configuration was. It was something that only lasted for a year, which makes me think that it was either Jupiter or it was some Chinese zodiac thing, which also lasts for a year. But I’ll have to look that up. Okay, well, let’s see. The last thing that we wanted to touch upon was there’s a debate—and I see this come up from time to time. It’s this general question that astrologers sometimes have. Actually, maybe it’s not astrologers who have it as much as sometimes skeptics trying to pose it to astrologers, which is, is the birth chart still valid if the person was born by C-section vs. a natural birth. I mean, most astrologers would just say ‘yes’.
CB: And I think most of the time, people who say ‘no’ just have sort of a fundamental misunderstanding of astrology and what it’s about. Although, in defense perhaps of people who say ‘no’, Michel Gauquelin—who discovered the ‘Mars effect’ and related supposed statistical correlations that proved astrology in the mid-to-late 20th century—he tried to say that the ‘Mars effect’ and some of the things that they were finding statistically disappeared in induced births, like with C-sections and stuff.
So they said that there is an observable statistical effect where Mars just above the Ascendant or just past the Midheaven was correlating with eminent athletes or the birth of eminent athletes if a person had that in their chart, but the effect somehow disappeared if the person was born as a result of a C-section or something. I mean, I don’t know if that still stands up or if that still holds up or if that’s true. I’ve never met anybody who had a birth chart that was born through a C-section where the birth chart did not match their life or their personality. I don’t think I’ve ever really met anybody who claimed that was the case.
PW: One possible explanation I just thought of right now is perhaps children who are born through a C-section, maybe they are statistically less likely to be strong or something or physically fit enough or something to become a professional athlete, which would, you know, allow them to exhibit the effect of being some sort of professional athlete with an angular Mars in the 10th or 1st.
PW: I don’t know. That’s basically me saying that everyone who’s born from C-sections are weak or something. That’s obviously not what I mean. Something like that. I don’t know. Maybe. That would be interesting to see if the other effects you noticed went away for induced births. ‘Cause then I guess you’d have more of a point, you know, if something doesn’t depend on your ability. You know, being born is a physical thing, so an occupation that depends on a physical thing could be potentially impacted. But, you know, his ‘Jupiter effect’ for politicians or something, maybe that’s not necessarily something that depends on your physicality, so maybe that effect still holds up. But no, I haven’t heard that before.
PW: That’s very interesting.
CB: I mean, I can imagine some people invoking that, and I guess I’ve heard a few limited people invoking that. It’s just I’m very hesitant at this point to just adopt any of Gauquelin’s findings as being scientifically valid conclusions about the nature of astrology because they’re still very much disputed. And the only one that ever really was tested and reproduced by other groups—which was the ‘Mars effect’—is still contested to this day.
PW: I think the better argument that someone could bring up is to just ask, why isn’t the conception chart more valid than the birth chart? That is really the, you know, cellular beginning of someone’s existence.
PW: But, you know, I think it kind of comes back to what you see the mechanism of astrology as being. You know, if you think it operates through signs, then I think you would be more on the side of considering the birth as the more significant moment. That the positions of the planets at that time are a sign of that person’s entrance into the world.
CB: Right. It’s a more symbolically-significant moment.
PW: Right. Whereas if you saw it as a more physical or causal kind of thing, then, you know, maybe the conception chart would be the more precise moment.
CB: Yeah. And I think that’s why many skeptics do actually bring up the conception chart, and they say, “Why don’t you use the conception chart?”
PW: Again, I think the 29 Scorpio-Taurus thing with James kind of throws that out the window there because the correlations held up before he was even conceived. So, you know, it’s clearly operating through signs rather than just kind of a mechanical, natural, biological process. It’s mysterious. It’s not, you know, totally clockwork. The heavens are acting as signs for things which are happening.
CB: Yeah, I think that’s the case, but I could easily see somebody arguing that at those times in the past where 29 Scorpio and Taurus came up that there was some sort of celestial influence that was hitting at that moment, that happened to be prompting you guys to do things.
PW: Right. But my point is that it makes the birth chart more important than the conception.
CB: Okay. Sure. And that just gets into all sorts of issues.
CB: ‘Cause Ptolemy mentions this issue. He talks about this issue of conception vs. birth, and he says that while conception is the start or it’s the inception of the physicality or the physical material that becomes the person’s body, the moment of birth is the inception and is the start of their actual life as an independent entity from the mother. And this probably ties into other Hellenistic theories of conception vs. birth. They made an analogy that the fetus was like a piece of fruit that was on a tree, and that up until the moment of birth, the baby or the fetus is basically still an extension of the mother’s body until that moment when it sort of falls off of the tree branch, so to speak. And it’s sort of this separate entity as a piece of fruit or as a human being who’s starting its life at that point rather than as an extension of the mother’s body.
But, you know, at that point, you still come back to an issue of is that moment of birth and the alignment of the planets at that moment acting as a sign or an omen of what will happen in this person’s future? Or is the alignment of the planets somehow causing or imprinting the person’s biology or their life or what have you with certain qualities at that moment? And I think you and I definitely both favor the notion that it’s the former, that it’s a matter of the alignment of the planets acting as a sign or an omen of future events. But I don’t want to be too down on…
PW: Well, for me, I think that’s been conclusively proved by all of the stuff with James. You know, if it was just an imprint, then I think the night of conception would be the more appropriate moment. But since the correlations extend back further, and because there isn’t necessarily a good astrological reason why it should have been 29 Scorpio-Taurus, because of those points being represented in neither of the parents’ charts, and even any other lunations or eclipses, prenatal eclipses or prenatal conjunctions or anything before the birth or before the conception. It just kind of highlights that it’s not about causes, that it is about signs.
PW: But yeah, if anyone disagrees, I’m happy to hear the other side.
CB: Yeah, I mean, I’m sure there’s plenty of astrologers that disagree, even though I think the omen or ‘astrology as sign-based’ rationale is the predominant rationale due to the effect of Jung—and to a lesser extent, maybe Geoffrey Cornelius—on modern astrology. But there’s still a pretty significant segment of the astrological population that argues or believes that astrology works as a result of causes. And part of that is due to the scientific tradition, but there’s this other part. Christopher Warnock published an article about how the planets influenced life on Earth through magical means.
So there’s this other contingent of occultists—and people like our friend Austin Coppock—who use things like talismans and amulets, which are based on this premise that you can, you know, elect a chart for the moment of creating a talisman or an amulet, and that you can somehow capture the energy or the essence of a planet at that moment in time. So yeah, there is still and there always has been a pretty healthy debate about this issue, but this definitely presents an interesting case for study when it comes to that debate.
CB: And even this whole issue really about the ethics of electional astrology, in some sense, when it comes to electing a birth chart will hinge on where you fall with that debate. Because if you think it’s a matter of causes or if it’s a matter of signs, you might go one way or another about what you think is appropriate and what you think is not appropriate.
PW: Mm-hmm. Sure.
CB: Yeah. Okay, I’m trying to think if there’s anything else that we meant to cover when it comes to this issue. Can you think of any other points?
PW: I’m not sure. I think we’ve gone over everything that we wanted to touch on. But yeah, this has been a great talk.
CB: Okay. Well, you’ll have to get back to me at some point in the future in terms of maybe paying attention to the birth chart obviously which you’ll be doing, but also maybe—since you actually have it, and it’s actually very rare for a person to have it—paying attention to the conception chart to see if there is any relevance whatsoever, and if so, what that even is.
PW: Well, I should probably qualify, I don’t exactly have the moment. All right, I didn’t have a stopwatch or something or a wristwatch or something, you know, making sure I got the time. Part of the difficulty with really having an accurate conception chart is that it doesn’t necessarily happen at the moment of—how to put it—orgasm. You know, it can happen hours or minutes, or I guess days afterwards. It’s not really known exactly. I mean, unless you had some sort of camera hidden inside the woman, I don’t think you’d be able to tell exactly when the egg is fertilized.
PW: But I do have the general timeframe of when the deed was done, so I have that. And the Sun, yeah, is at 29 Taurus. And the Moon around that time, around midnight—because it was very early in the morning/late at night—the Moon was applying a trine to Taurus from Virgo. And it’s interesting because my Mom was born with the Moon in Virgo, and Beth has Moon in Virgo as well, so maybe that’s something.
CB: Interesting. So the women’s side.
PW: The women’s side, yeah, had the Moon in the same sign that they were born with. And that’s just interesting ‘cause there seems to, yeah, be some kind of theme with me and women with Moon in Virgo.
CB: Well, to summarize this, what is our position? Our position on this is that in practice actually, we really ended up letting it go 50/50. You exerted some control on picking the date. But ultimately, you acknowledged that the time was not necessarily under your control, I think, right?
PW: Oh, yeah. The time wasn’t necessarily under my control. And further than that, I think it was actually already kind of decided because of all these other correlations that I didn’t even keep track of until I actually had to go back and figure out why the Ascendant was 29 Taurus.
PW: So yeah, 50% was me trying to exert some control, and the other 50% was I think already figured out.
CB: Sure. I guess really you could make arguments either way in terms of the ethicality of using electional astrology to elect a person’s birth chart. We could see it going either way. ‘Cause certainly there’s an argument you could make in favor of it, and there’s an equally-valid argument perhaps you could make against it. And then on the same token, there’s probably ways in which you could abuse it even if it was ethical to do it; there’s probably misuses of it or things that would not be good. For example, if it got blown up into this huge thing where, like you said, it was taken to its fullest extent, where governments were mandating that people couldn’t, you know, be born on certain days or had to be born on other dates, that might get kind of weird.
CB: So there might be a way where it could be taken beyond what’s not just necessary, but what is recommended or what makes sense or what seems natural in some ways, but otherwise, it seems like a perfectly okay thing to do. I mean, one of the things that’ll be interesting for you—and one of the things that I worry about when it comes to this, or when I’ve thought about it personally—is it’s kind of like getting a tattoo. I’ve never gotten a tattoo because I read this advice once where they said think back to when you were 10-years-old and what your favorite thing in the world was. Imagine if you had gotten a tattoo of whatever your favorite thing in the world was when you were 10-years-old and that you’re living with that tattoo now and whether you were fully happy with that.
And I kind of think about that when it comes to electional astrology. You know, because sometimes our understanding of astrology grows and changes and sometimes shifts over the course of our lives or our careers as astrologers. And sometimes something we thought was a great electional chart at one point, we might look back on and say, “That was terrible,” or “Why wasn’t I paying attention to this?”
PW: I guess we’ll see ‘cause I elected my marriage, too. My wedding.
PW: And I also elected my proposal as well.
PW: There’s really nothing that hasn’t been elected that I couldn’t have. I’ve been very ‘election happy’ in my personal life.
CB: Well, then, yeah, you’ll have to get back to this. And we’ll do a followup show in five years, in 10 years, and 30 years in order to see how that’s going.
PW: Yeah, I’ll just tell James to always make sure he has, you know, a timepiece when he’s messing around with his girlfriend.
CB: Right. And we’ll have to have him on the show years later after he’s gone through therapy in order to complain about what you did to his birth chart.
PW: Fair enough.
CB: No, I’m just kidding. It’s a fantastic chart.
PW: It’s actually not a bad chart. It’s actually pretty ‘dec’. Like I’m pretty surprised, pretty stoked. He’s an awesome little kid. I love the hell out of him. But I guess I would with his Moon on my Venus. But no, it’s so awesome.
CB: Yeah, it’s a good chart. And it was also interesting ‘cause based on what was available, that ended up being the best day that week.
CB: When we were looking at it, we had an option between the Moon conjunct Mars for a couple of days in a day chart—and we wanted to avoid that—and then we had an option of the Moon exactly conjunct Saturn and that was it, so it was like a bunch of not-great choices. And then there was this one date that was that Thursday, and it was the Moon in Scorpio, but it was applying within like a degree or two to a trine with Jupiter in a day chart.
PW: That was a Friday.
CB: Oh, yeah, Friday. Sorry. A trine with Jupiter and then a sextile with Venus. So that really was the main thing.
PW: You know what? In some ways, this is like cosmic retribution because my Mom is really into astrology and that’s a big part of the reason of how I got interested in astrology. And, you know, considering that she knew a lot about astrology, she had to pick the one day in the year for me to be born with both the Sun and Moon in fall, in the signs of Libra and Scorpio. So I feel kind of like, you know, that I’ve rectified the wrong of my own birth by helping James have a good astrological chart.
PW: Certainly better than mine.
CB: By making sure he had the Moon in Scorpio and Mars in Libra.
PW: Yeah. Yeah, I guess that’s me on him.
CB: Right. That’s definitely your influence. Yeah, it’s a very good chart. Can we post it? I mean, is that all right?
PW: Yeah, that’s absolutely fine. Yeah, that’s absolutely fine.
CB: Should we seek his permission or something?
PW: No, I asked Beth, and she’s that was fine.
CB: Okay. Well, then, yeah, we’ll post a copy of his chart on the webpage for this episode of The Astrology Podcast, and people can check it out, and you’ll see what an excellent chart it is. All right, well, thanks for coming back for this episode of The Astrology Podcast, Patrick.
PW: Thank you so much for having me. This was really fun.
CB: Yeah, I’ll have you back on again at some point in the future maybe to talk about something. We’ll see what happens. All right, well, that’s it for this episode of The Astrology Podcast. If you like this episode, then please give it a good rating on iTunes and make sure to subscribe, if you’re not already, through the email form on the right-hand side of the main page of The Astrology Podcast website. So that’s it for this episode. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.