July 31, 762 A.D.
As an example of an electional horoscope, we can examine the foundation horoscope for the city of Baghdad in modern-day Iraq. Most cities just kind of grow up without any given plan or official beginning. However, given the Arabs’ extreme interest in astrology, the founding of Baghdad was astrologically planned, and we can see the many interesting features that the astrologers of that time worked into the horoscope.
The exact time for the founding of Baghdad is somewhat in dispute, but the time and date I am using below comes from James Herschel Holden’s book about the history of astrology. When we look at the horoscope, it makes sense in a number of ways.
We first notice the very good condition of the Sun. The Sun rules all monarchs, so of course Caliph al-Mansur who founded the city would want to make his planet as strong as possible to ensure a powerful and long reign. Here, the Sun is in its own sign of Leo, in the ninth house (the house of its joy), and it is conjunct Regulus, the Royal fixed star par excellence. The fact that the Sun is in the ninth house (the house of higher knowledge) helped Baghdad become the center of culture and learning for several hundred years. It also helped make the Caliph’s reign a long one.
Also, the ninth house rules all wise men, including the two astrologers (the Jewish Masha’allah and the Zoroastrian Naubakht) who elected this horoscope. They, too, are ruled by the Sun, so their high position in this new city was guaranteed by the Sun’s good placement.
One immediately notices the Mars-Jupiter opposition on the ascendant/descendant axis. Jupiter is in Sagittarius, which is the sign that it rules, and just inside the first house, it is very powerful. It also rules the fourth house, traditionally thought to rule cities and foundations and the like. The astrologers were obviously electing the horoscope for a city of prosperity and abundance, which Jupiter bestows.
However, Mars in the seventh house ensures that Baghdad’s swords and weapons will be forever drawn and pointing in the direction of the enemy. This is not a placement one would have chosen for a peaceful and uneventful reign. Perhaps the astrologers considered that war was inevitable, and at least wanted to make sure that the city always had the advantage.
We also notice Saturn’s recent ingress into Taurus, which is a far better position for it than in Aries, the sign of its fall. Saturn rules the second house of wealth, and placing it inside the fortunate fifth house was perhaps an effort to make sure the city was always solvent.
The Moon has not yet entered Scorpio, the sign of its fall, and in fact has almost maximum latitude, since it is exactly midway between the two lunar nodes. It is unclear whether this was accidental or by design, but if it was planned, perhaps the astrologers considered that great latitude somehow strengthen the Moon, which is also placed in the benefic 11th house. The Moon rules the eighth house of death and the enemy’s money. This may have been the astrologers’ attempt to keep the death rates low.
It is especially instructive to analyze the seven key Arabian Parts in this horoscope, since we know the astrologers would have been highly aware of them. The Part of Spirit, the Part designating the city’s “soul,” is conjunct the Midheaven. Firmicus says that the Part of Spirit is the Guardian Angel in a horoscope. The ancient astrologers clearly wished to have benefic spirits protecting the new city. Venus, ruler of the 11th house of friends, is in the exaltation of Jupiter, and conjunct the Part of Love, perhaps a way to draw allies to help the city. The Moon trines the Part of Victory at 25 Gemini, and the Part of Valor’s dispositor is the highly benefic Sun in Leo. This is not a city that will ever give up.
Finally, observe the way in which the old astrologers made sure that Baghdad’s enemies would always be at a disadvantage: Mercury, the lord of the 7th house of open enemies, is retrograde, weak in Cancer, in the malefic 8th house of death, and conjunct the malefic South Node. The city was specifically founded to keep invaders weak and unable to win. Baghdad is a city that will remain impervious through the ages, all thanks to a well-constructed electional chart back in 762. That is the power of astrology.