by Robert Wilkinson
When the Moon is Void of Course (VOC) it means that it makes no more major aspects to other planets before it leaves a sign. It is a phenomenon of the transiting Moon, and there is a lot of controversy about what its influence is, and whether we should punt our lives and affairs during those times. It is said that nothing happens of note, and so is supposedly a good time for filing tax returns, but a bad time for getting nominated for the presidency.
As I've made it clear in many articles, I don't ascribe to the concept of "nothing important happens when the Moon is Void of Course." No one thing determines whether important things happen or don't, though it could be said that our own free will, behavior, and responses to life circumstances and events do determine our character, and therefore our destiny, which is pretty important in the larger scheme of things.
I’ve found there is a lot of confusion about when it's influencing affairs, and on what level. What most astrologers never learned is that originally the use of the VOC Moon was strictly limited to Horary Astrology, the branch of the Celestial Science that deals with posing a question to find an answer to an event, or possibility, or offer. Also, in the traditional approach, technically the VOC Moon considers only transit to transit major aspects, such as we find on Astrological calendars.
Usually these are limited to the conjunction, opposition, sextile, trine, and square, and occasionally include the semisextile, semisquare, and quincunx. Of course there are many more aspects than these, which I believe would change the picture radically were they to be included in what aspects we're considering in the context of the VOC Moon. If we take the “minor” aspects into account, then there are very few times the Moon is not in some relationship with some planet.
Regarding the attitude that it shows periods when “nothing important happens,” I find it absurd to believe that there is ever a time when nothing is happening, or when our honest and diligent efforts won't bear some kind of fruit in their season, even if the results don't look like we'd want. If we took that attitude (especially with where the planets will be very soon) then we’d be seeing entire days when supposedly nothing important could happen, or when our efforts would come to naught. That’s ridiculous.
Then there are those who are born with the Moon in the final degrees of a sign. Certainly a person born with a “VOC Moon” isn't "doomed" to a life of nothing happening of significance. That approach is just too fatalistic! So today we take a new look at the VOC Moon to get a deeper understanding of this phenomenon.
I originally wrote what follows about 7 years ago, and have updated it for readability while elaborating on key principles. As you read, remember that the planets do not “cause” anything to happen or not happen; that power is within us, though of course we do not have full control over life and other people’s behavior. The planets merely symbolize the “phase” various parts of us and life are at, and the aspects show us how our phase relates to others’ phases, or the phase some activity is at in our world.
Of course the Moon at the end of a sign means something different than it does at the beginning or middle of a sign. Also, the Moon still has some meaning or influence whether it’s in a “phase relationship” (aspect) with some other planet or not. The Moon at the end of a sign just shows that it’s completed a good part of whatever its presence in that sign is about, and preparing to enter another sign experience.
So from the beginning, to recap: The Void of Course (VOC) Moon is said to occur whenever the Moon makes no more aspects to any other transiting planet before it leaves the sign it's in. Historically it was only applied to questions in Horary Astrology. Traditionally, the only aspects considered in determining whether a Moon was VOC were the conjunction, opposition, sextile, square, and trine.
It is assumed by many pop astrologers that supposedly the VOC Moon is a time when nothing happens of note, or whatever you do will not yield desirable (or even undesirable!) results. It is said to be a metaphoric "black hole" into which our efforts fall into oblivion, and that nothing of importance occurs during a "void of course" Moon. Let’s examine if any of this is true.
I am aware of many anecdotal tales of sending in tax returns during void of course Moons yielding no audits, negotiations supposedly going nowhere during these periods, and efforts apparently coming to naught. Of course, it’s also good to remember that these things also happen when the Moon is not VOC. To me that means we cannot entirely attribute these types of events solely to a VOC Moon.
When the Moon is at the end of a sign, it is true that often things "hang out" until it changes signs, since the Moon indicates the daily and weekly fluxes in lives and affairs, and when it's at the end of a sign it indicates those affairs symbolized by that sign are at an end. However, it is equally valid to say that simply because we don't note that something is happening, it doesn't mean that, in fact, nothing is happening.
There are often pauses in life, when we catch a break before renewed activity. This may or may not be associated with a VOC Moon. Again, in our example there are many tax returns that are sent in when the Moon is not VOC that are not audited, and I'm sure there are many audits that came about due to flaky numbers on a tax return, regardless of whether the Moon was VOC or not. The real world is like that.
To reiterate my primary concern, of paramount importance is the issue of whether the Moon is actually ever really free of aspects. The popular astro-calendars often do not note the so-called "minor" aspects such as semisquares (45 degrees), sesquisquares (135 degrees), or quincunxes (150 degrees), yet these are very potent aspects that most definitely show turning points, crises, agitations and adjustments in our lives.
Very few astro-calendars or aspectarians account for any of the 5th Harmonic aspects (Decile, Quintile, Tredecile, Biquintile), 7th Harmonic aspects (Septile, Biseptile, Triseptile), or 9th Harmonic aspects (Novile, Binovile, and Quadranovile – only the Trinovile, or Trine, is considered), probably because there is a lot of confusion in pop astrology as to what these actually mean, with many conflicting speculations. And of course, they would also take up a lot of valuable print space. A pocket calendar would easily become a small book if they included every possible aspect of significance!
These are not traditional aspects as known in antiquity, and some of them are not so obvious in their workings in the moment. However, after 40+ years of studying all the aspects and seeing how they work, I can definitely say that even “minor” aspects mark major points of specialization, forks in the road of our "destiny," or stages in our larger spiritual development. We certainly would not dismiss the importance of a Yod, or “Finger of God,” simply because it has two quincunxes, since the quincunxes describe how that configuration works!
If the Moon makes any aspect from any of these harmonic aspect series to another planet, is it still void of course? If we use only traditional aspects, then it is, but how many astrologers confine themselves to the traditional aspects? We now use a plethora of different aspects to describe the various internal relationships between the different parts of our inner and outer life, so I'm not sure the Moon can be considered VOC if it makes any of these "minor" but significant aspects.
Here’s an example: In late February 2013, no planet occupied a degree between 21-30 in any sign. The Moon made its last major aspect, an opposition to Mars 6 ½ hours before entering Libra. However, in that supposedly VOC period the Moon made triseptiles to Venus and Neptune, tredeciles to Jupiter and Pluto, and a septile to Saturn. Those are fairly important aspects to be dismissed as having “no significant effect!”
Then we have a period of a week at the end of March 2013 when all the planets will be in the first 13 degrees of their respective signs. According to VOC theory, nothing significant will happen for large periods of time whenever the Moon is in the second half of a sign. Somehow I doubt “nothing important will happen” when the Moon makes no traditional aspects for 36 hours across March 20-21, 36 hours across March 22-24, 22 hours across March 25-26, 18 hours across March 27-28, and 31 hours across March 29-30! If nothing else, we have two very powerful interlocking Yods going on then, regardless of where the Moon is and what aspects it’s making.
And in what I believe is the most important consideration regarding the VOC Moon in birth charts, I have found the Moon is NEVER void of course for you if your chart has a planet at the end of a sign, regardless of what it is or is not doing with the planets in the sky. For example, my chart has Saturn at 29 Virgo and Mercury conjunct the Midheaven at 30 Aries. The Moon always makes aspects to these planets in my chart before it leaves any sign.
Thus I do not experience a Moon void of course, since it's always in some aspect to my Saturn, Mercury, and Midheaven before it changes signs. The transiting Moon is always in some relationship to the rulers of Capricorn, Aquarius, Gemini, and Virgo in my chart whenever it transits the final degrees of any sign.
So it may well be that any time the pop astrology calendars note a "Void of Course Moon," it may or may not be entirely true. There may or may not be dramatic events in the outer world, but if the Moon still makes aspects in your chart, you can bet you will experience a definite energy associated with that aspect between the Moon and whatever planet you have in your chart, the houses they occupy, and the houses that planet rules.
Also note your progressed planets, since if you have a planet in the final degrees of a sign, the progressed part of you that planet represents will be triggered by the Moon aspecting that planet. And if you have a planet in the last degrees of a sign in your Solar Return chart, you can expect things associated with that planet in the Solar Return chart, as well as the natal houses it rules, to be affected.
In my opinion after many decades at this craft, the Moon is never void of course, except perhaps for a few hours once in a while for a few people. The rest of us, especially those of us with planets in the late degrees of a sign, will always experience activity associated with those planets when the Moon is in the last degrees of any sign.
Whether semisextile, sextile, square, trine, quincunx, or opposition, we'll get a full dose of the Lunar aspect to a planet, whether it's making an aspect to any other transiting planet or not. Quintiles, biquintiles, tredeciles, septiles, biseptiles, triseptiles, noviles, binoviles, and quadranoviles included. Though the effect may be subtle, the Moon making any of these aspects will certainly trigger something in a chart.
© Copyright 2006, 2013 Robert Wilkinson