Access:NewAge Note:
We thank Zane Stein for his permission to republish this piece which he posted to the Festival mail list.

The Void Of Course Moon
by Zane B. Stein


There is a great deal of talk in astrological circles about the Void Of Course Moon, and it is easy to see how the topic is filled with confusion. After all, there are many people teaching there own definitions of this term, and teaching them as facts, and so their students go out into the field armed with (they are sure) the 'correct' meaning for the Void Of Course Moon.

What we need to do is seperate the definitions into two categories:

  1. What is the traditional definition....the one the ancients used?
  2. What are the definitions based upon modern astrologer's theories and/or observations?

Traditional Definitions

I found a very nice instance of the traditional definition in Anthony Louis' "Horary Astrology":

"The Moon or any planet is "void of course" when it makes no major Ptolemaic aspects before leaving its sign. Firmicus Maternus refers to the void of course planet as traveling in an aspect vacuum. The five major aspects used to make this judgement are Ptolemy's conjunction, sextile, square, opposition and trine."
Al H. Morrison studied the Void Of Course Moon for over 45 years, and his conclusion was that the Moon was Void after its last Ptolemaic aspect to the Sun or one of the planets, and that the semisextile, quincunx or other minor aspect could not save the Moon from being Void. (He also concluded that neither Chiron nor the asteroids could stop the Moon from being Void either.) Al's research supported the traditional definition.

Modern Approaches

Mark Lerner, Editor/Publisher of "Welcome To Planet Earth" magazine, hoping to start a dialog on the subject, wrote in the Gemini/Cancer 1995 issue of that magazine, "Why only utilize the major aspects from the days of Ptolemy? Why not include the quintile, semi-square, sesquiquadrate and inconjunct aspects? Now that we've discovered the three outer planets (during the last 214 years) and they are included in modern Void Of Course work, why not add Chiron, the Four Main asteroids and other bodies? Where is the logic in this?" He then goes on to ask why we don't include the four angles, and the arabic parts.

In the same issue, Gregg Castellucci writes, "Technically, the Moon is "void of course" if it will not make any further major aspects to other planets before leaving a given sign. Quite often, in mundane and horary astrology, a void of course Moon does point to an apparent lack of momentum in the situation at hand. But what about the less obvious, the so-called "minor" aspects? Can these be tossed aside, disregarded? Is there a subtle difference between the Moon that will yet complete one of these before changing signs and the truly void of course Moon that will make no aspects whatsoever? The minor aspects are less obvious, both to the eye and in their expression. When the Moon is void of course except for such an aspect, this may indeed indicate a lack of objective momentum, apparent direction or conscious purpose. The minor aspect will, however, point to perhaps less obvious but nevertheless related matters that are yet to be encountered before the overall situation can be declared as having been fully experienced or truly spent."

Also in the same magazine, Alex Miller-Mignone writes, "To suggest that the Moon is somehow impaired while still forming its Crescent phase semisquare the Sun seems to be ludicrous."

And in a recent message about President Clinton's Inauguration (right here on our own festival list) Carole says, "The Moon is not, as it turns out, void-of-course. In the chart for the start of the oath of office at 12:05:15 EST, Washington DC, the Moon is in the second house at 28GE15. It makes a quincunx to Jupiter at 29CP47 in the 10th house." She does not say that, according to her definition, a quincunx counts....she just states her viewpoint as an absolute fact.

The Current Landscape

I've done a lot of polling among astrologers on this subject. Some stick to the traditional view, and say that their own experiences back this up. Some modify this definition by including only two other aspects, the semi-sextile and the inconjunct (quincunx), believing that all aspects involving multiples of thirty degrees should be considered...and they also say that their personal observations back them up. There are some who add the semi-square and sesquiquadrate also, but draw the line there. And finally, we have the astrologers who include all of the quintile family and the septile family in their defintion. (I have yet to find an astrologer who will include such aspects as the Nonagen (40 degrees) or the Johndro aspect (165 degrees), but perhaps some of our readers will volunteer that they do.)

Everyone can't be correct....either the quincunx keeps the Moon from being Void, or it doesn't; either the Moon's influence changes when after the last Ptolemaic aspect even if there is still a semi-square, or the Void doesn't begin until that aspect has passed as well. And either the Moon is Void when it makes no further aspects to the Sun and planets but still aspects Ceres, or else Ceres saves it from being Void too. What is the truth?

Some Premininary Suggestions

I don't have an absolute answer, although I sure wish I did. Certainly, I have my own theory, which I will close this article with. But first, I would like to make two suggestions:

  1. When teaching students about the Void Of Course Moon, or writing on the subject, would astrologers please, PLEASE teach the traditional definition. If they also want to include their own view, or the view of their favorite teacher or writer, that is fine.....but then distinguish between them? I am not asking you that you abandon your definition...just don't teach it as the traditional or only one, please?
  2. If you teach or write about a non-traditional definition for the Void Of Course Moon, it would help immensely if you include clear examples of exactly how the minor aspect saved the Moon from being Void...or how the square to Chiron kept it from being Void. If you can show us your reasoning, perhaps we will be convinced.

Some Lines of Thought

OK, now for my views on the subject. Many of you know that Al H. Morrison was not only my mentor, but my friend, and so his work on this topic greatly influenced my thinking...I can't deny that.

I see the Moon as being polar opposite of Saturn, as Cancer is opposite Capricorn. Since this is the case, they work as a team.....and in order to understand one, you need to comprehend them both. For example, the Moon's cycle of 28 days parallels Saturn's cycle of 28 years....and the progressed Moon cycle IS 28 years.

Saturn rules structures, limits, and order. It is safe, secure, reliable.....and while not exactly the most exciting, it helps to enhance our survival in the world by giving us walls to keep the 'bad' stuff out....and to keep us in our 'cribs' until we are mature enough not to need the walls anymore.

The Moon rules cycles, day-to-day needs/hungers, routines. While it, too, is not in itself exciting, it also helps to enhance our survival by providing us with food, and teaching us habits that we can rely on, integrate into our psyche, and then do without thinking (such as 'look both ways before you cross the street.')

The Moon's major aspects.....the conjunction, sextile, and the other Ptolemaic ones.....are represetative of the major signposts/landmarks along its monthly journey. Each is a clearly marked out event, helping to define the structure of that lunar cycle. As such, each major aspect can be said to be to some extent Saturnian, in that it gives definition to that moment in time. (Yes, even the trine, because it is a clear, easily distinguishable marker.) I see these aspects as the 'box' containing the package known as the current moon cycle.

When the Moon makes a semi-sextile, or quincunx, the influences are much more subtle. Gregg said that himself. They are harder to see, more difficult to put your finger on, and as such are not clear definers of that lunar cycle. Perhaps these aspects are the packing in the box that keeps the contents from rattling? (LOL) But seriously, they are transition aspects, but not clear lines of demarcation. And the other aspects....quintile, bi-septile....are even more subtle. All these aspects are very real...and their influence does appear around us after the Moon goes Void...but they are not the ones that shape and mold our day to day existence. When the Moon goes Void, events go off in unplanned directions, and the minor aspects are there to add some color, some flavor, while on the way.

When the Moon aspects the Sun, or a planet from Mercury out through Saturn, this is a clear marker as well. These bodies also help define the cycle's meaning, being potent points of power that. At first I thought that Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto....all being beyond Saturn...shouldn't save the Moon from being void. But my experience has shown that they do...that a major aspect to one keeps the Moon from being Void. My only explanation is that perhaps, while they are beyond Saturn themselves, they are nevertheless major steps on a journey, and so even their aspects have a Saturn nature. More on those three in a minute.

Ceres and Juno are worthwhile bodies to study in a chart....but they are finely focused influences. Like the type of siding used on a house, which adds to the value and utility of the structure, but is definitely not the walls, ceiling or floor, the smaller bodies add details to the particular cycle, but do not serve to define the nature of it. Even Chiron, which has shown itself to be a powerful force for balance and healing, is not one of the bodies that contributes to the cycle's structure. (Perhaps it is because Chiron is a comet, not a planet, and focuses more on a process rather than an event, that it does not nullify the Void of Course Moon.)

I have a vision of the Moon, while making Ptolemaic aspects, as a kind of a clock, ticking away, measuring, working within the structure the aspects create. After the last of these aspects, I perceive the rest of the Moon's path while in that sign as outside of Saturn.....outside of routine, outside of the predictable, beyond controllable...where time seems bent into all kinds of odd shapes.

In fact, the Void time seems to be ruled by Uranus, Neptune and Pluto....check out the way things go off into uncharted directions during the next Void period. I'm not sure I understand how a Moon square Uranus keeps the Moon from being Void, yet the Void time feels in part like Uranus is in control of the moment. Perhaps it is the aspect itself which keeps Uranus-on-out in check, keeping events somewhat under control.

Well, that's my two cents......just a personal theory.....not claiming I've discovered the absolute truth!

You know, I didn't even check to see if I started writing this during a VOC Moon. Some astrologer I am!


Copyright 1997 - 2001 Zane B. Stein Snail-mail: Zane B. Stein, 23 E. Ridge St., Apt. 2, Lansford, PA 18322. Websites: http://www.geocities.com/adamlink/chiron.htm and http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/7969/chiron.htm

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