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Home » Current Events, Featured Article

The Void Moon and Mercury Retro On Obama’s Inauguration Make Sense

Posted by on Monday, January 19 200916 Comments

obama-inaugurationBarack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States at noon on January 20th, 2009 in front of the Capitol Building in Washington DC.

Recently astrologers have made quite a fuss about the “void of course” Moon in Scorpio and the retrograde Mercury in Obama’s inauguration chart. However, it will be argued here that viewing this chart without the historical context of how Obama has experienced the transits of these planets in the past can lead one astray.

Barack Obama’s Inauguration Chart: January 20, 2009, 12:00 pm, Washington, DC

Obama's inauguration chart

Current Opinions About The Void of Course Moon in the Inauguration Chart

Over the past few months a lot of ink has been spilled over the fact that the Moon is “void of course” at noon on the day of Obama’s inauguration, with January 20th at noon being more or less the exact time that all inaugurations have taken place since 1937. The modern definition of a void of course Moon is when the Moon makes no classic aspect to any planet before it leaves the sign that it is in. As you can see from the above chart, the Moon is indeed void of course in Scorpio at noon on the day of the inauguration, and this condition lasts until about 12:30 pm when the Moon moves into Sagittarius. If Obama is sworn in anytime prior to 12:30 pm, then the Moon will be locked into that void of course condition in his inauguration chart.

The Moon being void of course is traditionally seen as an inauspicious astrological indication, and generally thought to be an unfavorable time to begin new ventures and undertakings. Deborah Houlding has compiled a list of list of references to the void of course Moon by ancient astrologers as well as their interpretations on the Skyscript website. The most often quoted interpretation of the void of course Moon in this list is the 17th century astrologer William Lilly’s statement that

In judgements do you carefully observe whether she [the Moon] be Void of Course yea or no; you shall seldom see a business go handsomely forward when she is so…

Or in other words, actions taken when the Moon is void of course are often met with difficulties and impediments.

As a result of the rather prevalent negative interpretation of this astrological indication, a number of astrologers have commented on the void of course Moon placement in Obama’s inauguration chart lately, with some even calling for him to delay the inauguration until 12:30 when the Moon is no longer void. Astrologer Shelly Ackerman is one of the more outspoken examples:

At the risk of repeating myself ad nauseum, I will for one last time state how strongly I feel about Barack Obama somehow delaying the oath for 30 minutes to enhance the health and success of his historic presidency. … Times when the incoming President was sworn in when the Moon was “Void of Course” (no longer making aspects to other planets before it enters the next sign) as was the case with Gerald Ford, and the nominations took place when the Moon was V/C, (Al Gore, John Kerry, George McGovern, and Nixon in 1960), things did not work out too well. On January 20, 2009, at noon, the Moon is V/C in the very last critical degree of Scorpio (the sign of its fall) and enters Sagittarius at 12:30 pm. The chart for 12:30 is better. Let’s hope that there are delays due to the cold, or the audience demanding that Aretha Franklin sing an encore, or whatever, so that the actual oath takes place at 12:30.

The Placement of the Moon in the Inauguration Chart Makes Sense

Yes, we will admit that from an astrological perspective the Moon at 29 degrees and 45 minutes of Scorpio above the horizon in a day chart isn’t exactly ideal. But let’s put it in context, shall we? Obama’s Midheaven is at 28 degrees and 54 minutes of Scorpio. So the Moon will be less than a degree off his Midheaven at the time of the inauguration. This is something that we might actually expect to see in his chart at the time with the kind of crowd he’s gathering, namely the entire world. The Moon will also be conjunct Joe Biden’s Sun-Venus conjunction at 28-29 Scorpio. Should we completely ignore all of these positive transits that the Moon will be making to Obama and Biden’s natal charts just because one of the many factors in electional astrology isn’t looking so hot? I think not.

Crescent MoonMore importantly, we should note that when Obama first announced his presidential bid, the Moon was at 25 Scorpio, approaching his Midheaven. It was also void of course at this time, yet he ran the best presidential campaign in modern times, and he actually won. So explain that one.

It is also worth noting that there are several different definitions of the void of course Moon throughout various astrological traditions, and not all of them seem to take the notion of sign boundaries into account. That is to say, in some traditions of astrology the Moon is only void of course when it is not applying to any planets whatsoever, regardless of sign boundary, which is not the case in Obama’s inauguration chart. In that case both Obama’s initial announcement of his candidacy, as well as his inauguration, both have the Moon in late Scorpio, making their next application to Mercury once they enter Sagittarius.

In mundane charts the Moon is often seen as representing “the people”. The Moon collects light from the Sun, and because of this it is often seen as directly representing the collective – “the people”. So the relatively poor condition of the Moon in the inauguration chart actually makes quite a bit of sense from this perspective, since it is a pretty accurate representation of the collective state of the country at this point in time.

That is to say, the American people are pretty depressed. It has been that sense of dissatisfaction with the Bush years that has been used as such a large advantage by the Democrats, and Obama was certainly able to capitalize on that. Now Obama, and “the people”, grimly face a looming economic crisis which will surely be the cause of some of the greatest difficulties during the course of his presidency.

Instead of bemoaning the state of the Moon in the inauguration chart and the subsequent difficulties that probably indicates for Obama’s presidency, perhaps we should simply be marveling at the fact that it is a rather appropriate reflection of the state of the country and some of the challenges that we face at this point in time.

Some of the financial hardships that the country is facing may very well be symbolized by the next aspect the Moon will make once it has made its ingress into Sagittarius, which is a sextile with a retrograde Mercury, the planet of commerce and markets.

Mercury Retrograde

Mercury inferior conjunction with the SunIn Obama’s inauguration chart Mercury is at its inferior conjunction. This is when the Earth, Mercury and the Sun are aligned, sort of like the picture to the left. The Mercury inferior conjunction on inauguration day goes exact only one hour before the ceremony, at 11:00 am. The inferior conjunction is at the heart of the Mercury retrograde period, and Mercury retrograde periods are notorious for bringing about a lot of periodically recurring problems, misunderstandings, do overs, controversies and the like. However, the thing we all have to remember about Mercury is that it is, well, mercurial.

mer·cu·ri·al (mər-kyŏŏr’ē-əl), adj.

  1. often Mercurial
    1. Roman Mythology Of or relating to the god Mercury.
    2. Astronomy Of or relating to the planet Mercury.
  2. Having the characteristics of eloquence, shrewdness, swiftness, and thievishness attributed to the god Mercury.
  3. Containing or caused by the action of the element mercury.
  4. Quick and changeable in temperament; volatile: a mercurial nature.

The nature of Mercury is highly variable, and the way that Mercury is going to act largely depends on how Mercury is configured in a chart. When Obama was born Mercury was at its heliacal rising, making its first appearance Barack Obama, Mercury opposing Jupiter, sextile Moonfrom under the beams of the Sun. It was opposing Jupiter and sextile to the Moon, highlighted in blue in the chart to the right. This says a lot about Obama’s speaking talents, his big ideas, and his ability to bring in crowds (and cash). But it also generally denotes a more favorable experience with that planet overall, especially around the central points of its cycle, the retrograde and direct stations, and the inferior conjunctions.

The same should be true for his first term, because Mercury is conjunct Jupiter on inauguration day, the opposite of Obama’s Mercury-Jupiter opposition. Time and again you will see that Obama tends to benefit in some way from the strife that Mercury is usually associated with. He’s able to stay calm in the eye of the storm by discovering, innovating, and adapting. As a result of this, things tend to go his way.

It is also worth noting that Obama has made many of his most memorable and important statements and announcements around these crucial phases of Mercury. Mercury is the winged messenger after all. So contrary to popular belief about Mercury retrogrades, Obama actually has pretty good luck during them. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

Mercury Retrograde 4 Pisces-19 Aquarius, February 8th-March 2nd 1981

In February 1981, Obama made a speech to his fellow students at Occidental College that wowed everyone, including himself. Uranus had just ingressed into Sagittarius, giving a jolt to his natal Moon-Mercury-Jupiter placements. Mercury was retrograde for most of that month, and that was actually when Obama first discovered his speaking ability. This was even more emphasized by the fact that the direct station of Mercury was very close to his ascendant at 18 Aquarius.

Mercury Retrograde 6 Gemini-28 Taurus, May 12th-June 5th 1989

In June 1989, Obama met a pretty young lawyer named Michelle Robinson at the law firm that he was a summer intern at. The direct station was exactly on his IC at 28 Taurus.

Mercury Retrograde 25 Capricorn-9 Capricorn, December 30th 1989-January 19th 1990

On February 6th, 1990, Barack Obama was elected President of the Harvard Law Review. This happened in the post-retrograde shadow period of Mercury, but the campaigning and announcement of the candidates likely occurred in the retrograde period.

Mercury Retrograde 13 Libra-28 Virgo, September 14th-October 6th 2002

Barack Obama giving a speech against the Iraq War on October 2nd, 2002“I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war.”

-Barack Obama, October 2nd, 2002

These prescient words Obama spoke may have been the most important of his career. Just 4 days before Mercury’s direct station, he spoke out against the invasion of Iraq, while the drums for war deafened out calls for restraint. This was ultimately to his benefit though, because later he was able to run as one of the few presidential candidates who opposed the war from the start.

Mercury Retrograde 8 Virgo-25 Leo, August 9th-September 2nd 2004

Obama giving his 2004 DNC SpeechObama made his 2004 DNC speech that first made him become a household name on July 27th, 2004. This occurred in the pre-retrograde shadow period of Mercury. The ensuing Mercury retrograde period that followed was all about the buzz of his future prospects, which was of course a lucky development for Obama.

Obama’s Senate opponent Jack Ryan had dropped out of the race in June because of a sex scandal (during a Venus retrograde of course). On August 8th, the day before Mercury stationed retrograde, the GOP cynically and unwisely chose Alan Keyes, a controversial black paleoconservative Republican to oppose Obama for the Senate seat. Obama, fresh off new found national celebrity status and a wellspring of funds benefited from the chaos that embroiled his opposition, and won the election in November with 70% of the vote.

Mercury Retrograde 9 Pisces-25 Aquarius, February 14th-March 8th 2007

Obama announcing his run for President on February 10th, 2007 Just 4 days before the Mercury retrograde station, on February 10th, 2007, Barack Obama announced he was running for President of the United States. Then Mercury went retrograde. Shortly thereafter the first shots were fired between Obama and Hillary Clinton on the issue of Iraq.

At the inferior conjunction, the Federal Election Commission drafted a proposal that would allow candidates to raise private funds for the general election while keeping the option of public financing open if they should decide to take it. This would become important for Obama later on.

Mercury Retrograde 11 Cancer-2 Cancer, June 15th-July 9th 2007

Obama Girl, aka Amber Lee EttingerAt this point Obama began to get really popular. The online viral video “Obama Girl” was released on June 13th on YouTube by, just 3 days before Mercury stationed retrograde. It caused a huge sensation on the internet, and it was discussed many times on the news about its political effects, and how it may actually represent a broader trend of Obama’s growing popularity online. Coincidentally, Amber Lee Ettinger, the actress who played “Obama Girl” was born on October 2nd, 1982, the day of a Mercury inferior conjunction in Libra.

Mercury Retrograde 8 Scorpio- 24 Libra, October 12th-November 1st 2007

The then-Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton suffered her first big political stumble over the question of Hillary Clinton at the October 26th Democratic Debate in Pennsylvaniaillegal immigrants owning driver’s licenses at a debate in Pennsylvania on October 30th, two days before Mercury stationed direct. Obama was able to present himself as a viable alternative. Hillary did not seem so inevitable after this performance.

It’s important to note that Hillary’s natal Mercury is retrograde and square Saturn. So you could probably predict that between Obama and Hillary, he would be more likely to succeed in Mercury retrograde periods (Mercury opposite Jupiter), while she would be more likely to be set back (Mercury square Saturn). From here on out, we see this dynamic play out.

Mercury Retrograde 22 Aquarius-8 Aquarius, January 28th-February 18th 2008

The ill-fated Michigan and Florida primaries occurred around the retrograde station of Mercury on January 28th, 2008. Michigan’s was held in the pre-retro shadow period on January 15th, and Florida’s was held on January 29th, the day after Mercury stationed retrograde. They were states that went early in spite of party rules, and as a consequence the Democratic Party stripped them of their delegates. Candidates agreed that they would not campaign in those states. The states held their primaries anyway. After Clinton won those primaries, she waged a long campaign Obama, Clinton, on Time magazine coverto get the delegates seated. This became known as the Florigan controversy.

Mercury’s inferior conjunction occurred at 18 Aquarius, exactly on Obama’s Ascendant at 18 Aquarius, on February 6th, the day after the Super Tuesday contests (more like Super Tiesday). This was the day that 22 states held their primaries and caucuses simultaneously. Hillary had planned on locking up the nomination this day, but Obama made a better than expected showing, which is the best he could have hoped for. Because of the proportional allocation of delegates, there was no clear winner. He continued to win primaries scheduled to the end of the retrograde period.

While he didn’t win on this day, if it wasn’t for the brutal primary season that followed, he arguably wouldn’t have been able to win the general election against McCain. His primary campaign against Hillary ended up being an important crash course in presidential politics, where Obama was able to address potential roadblocks to a victory in November, such as the issues of experience and race. This would seem to be the reason why we have Mercury retrogrades.

Mercury Retrograde 21 Gemini-13 Gemini, May 26th-June 19th 2008

The Florigan issue came up during the previous Mercury retrograde, and it was resolved in the following Mercury retroThe Obamas fistbumpgrade. On May 31st, the Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee ruled that every delegate would be seated, but each would only have one half of a vote. While this helped Clinton substantially, it was not enough to offset the trajectory of Obama’s victory.

On June 3rd, 2008, after the last primary contest, Obama became the first African American nominee for President for a major party ticket. Within hours of the Mercury inferior conjunction, Hillary conceded defeat on June 7th, 2008, in New York City. On the very day that Mercury stationed direct, Obama announced he would forgo public financing in favor of private financing for his campaign. This turned out to be a smart move.

Mercury Retrograde 22 Libra-7 Libra, September 24th-October 15th 2008

Mercury stationed retrograde conjunct Mars, and so the markets got into trouble. The economic crisis hits the headlines at the time of the retrograde station, and the differences between Obama and McCain became abundantly clear. McCain acted in a way that was widely perceived as Obama and McCain debate in Mississippi on September 26th, 2008rather erratic, when he suspended his campaign and suggested he might not show up for the first debate. This was widely perceived as a wild political stunt, and it backfired since it made Obama appear decidedly more level-headed in comparison. Again, we see that Obama benefits from the chaos that surrounds him.

Amazingly, the three debates that Obama and McCain had were scheduled right around the major phases of Mercury’s retrograde period. Obama and McCain debated at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi on September 26th, 2008, two days after Mercury stationed retrograde. The second debate between Obama and McCain was held at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee on October 7th, 2008, a day after the Mercury inferior conjunction at 13 Libra. The third and final debate was held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on the very day of the direct station. Was the Commission on Presidential debates looking at an ephemeris? Obama presented himself as a force of stability, always striving to look calm and rational. He cruised to a landslide victory on November 4th, 2008.

And that brings us to today.

Mercury Retrograde 7 Aquarius-21 Capricorn, January 11th-February 1st 2009

The Capitol Building where Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United StatesExactly one hour after Mercury’s inferior conjunction with the Sun, Obama will be sworn into the Presidency on January 20th, 2009. So really, trust me when I say that the Mercury retrograde it’s not too much to worry about, especially since we now have a President who seems to be able to deal with whatever Mercury throws his way (including shoes). Given his history with the planet, we should really be pleased when Mercury goes retrograde, because if he is doing well, then it is likely the country will be also. Then again, Mercury can be a bit unpredictable too. Mercury is always shaking things up, innovating. But didn’t Obama promise exactly that – change? May we never live in dull times.


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Written by

Patrick is an astrologer originally from High Wycombe, England. His personal practice is based on a blend of ancient and modern astrology. He is a member of the Association for Young Astrologers.

Hellenistic Astrology Course


  • Great post Watson. The right blog at the right time!

  • […] Rodney Smith and Patrick Watson already wrote about it, so I will not. Watson takes special notice of the connections between […]

  • Leisa says:

    Hey, nice research! Interesting to see this string of overtly positive achievements during Mercury retro.

  • Cor scorpii says:

    nice article.
    But, the “modern definition” of VOC is really a NONSENSE, since it has no support in any traditional source whatsoever.It is therefore completely without grounding, except in the wild imagination of “modern” astrologers who are famous for making up their own rules which function for them, exclusively – as it seems. But that is, and can not be the true criterion by which we decide whether some astrological principle functions in practice or not.
    Moon is definitely not VOC in this chart, since it applies to both Mercury&Sun.
    So why all the fuss about it?
    If I sounded a bit harsh, I do aplogize – but I prefer to express myself directly, openly and honestly.I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.
    I just addresssed a widwspread notion of VOC Moon which is proven to be wrong, that’s all.
    Best wishes,

    There’s much more that testifies to Obama’s success than just these periods of Mercury retrograde, as I’m sure you’re aware of it yourself.
    Since I’ve made a thorough analysis of his chart and compared it to major planetary cycles prior to his birth like JU0SA, syzygy preceding his birth, Ar ingress charts, etc. it was clear to me that he would be the winner of these elections – his indicators of prominence were simply far stronger than McCains(although his officially presented birth certificate is higly controversial).

  • Patrick Wason says:

    Cor scorpii,

    I understand your concerns about the VOC Moon definition, but we did present the fact that there are several different definitions. Even within traditional astrological literature there are points of difference about how many degrees the Moon must travel without making an aspect to a planet before it is officially considered void.

    P.S. Absolutely. Mercury retrograde is just the icing on the cake. You should read my article Barack Obama’s Rise To Power. Eclipses and Neptune seem to have been instrumental in getting him where he is.

    I just used the most recent events of his life to tie them directly to this current Mercury retrograde period, but he’s likely had good luck with them throughout his life. And we’ll certainly be able to test this throughout his first term.

  • PAM says:


    The second oath took place at 7:35 p.m.


  • Dinah says:

    Now that Barack Obama has RE-taken the oath of office (at 7:35 pm EST, January 21, 00:35 GMT January 22, I believe), we should have a look at the event chart for that time.

    I know that it does not replace the noon chart. However, I believe it may correct the noon chart’s built-in problems. I’d like to think that John Robert’s “goof” was the “gift” of the V.O.C. moon, to give Obama another shot at a better beginning. Just like America gets another shot at a new beginning.

    I’m grateful that he DID re-take the oath. The re-take gives President Obama’s REnauguration a mid-way Sagittarian moon. I’d love to hear an interpretation of this astrological overlay from someone with more expertise than I.

  • Chris Brennan says:

    I just posted the chart in a new article on the front page! It really doesn’t look much better to me at this point, although I can see how it could be argued from both sides. We will have some more detailed interpretations of it up soon.

  • […] great articles  on the blog over the past couple of weeks, including an excellent article on the astrology of Barack Obama’s inauguration and why the void of course Moon and Mercury retrograde make […]

  • Francis says:

    Interesting website! I’m a little late in finding it and I just had to comment.

    IMHO, Moon VOC is one of those quaint astrological notions which astrologers reman attached to even though it is basically meaningless. Obama is bringing change and maybe, just maybe we astrologers can accept that he has also delivered us from the mythology of this tired notion by proving Moon VOC has no effect. I challenge any astrologer to defy the myth. Try it out as an experiement and you may see, as I have, that there is really no correlation and that some new beginnings have difficulties and that others do not.

    Trines to all!

  • […] saying them correctly. I already covered several examples of his luck with Mercury retrogrades in a previous article, but the main gist of my observations is that Obama tends to benefit from the chaos that surrounds […]

  • WRose says:

    You might also consider the United States has mercury retrograde and behind her natal sun, hence a nation’s struggle to grant itself redemption from mercury’s difficult expressions; seems the best we can do is lionize one – Obama – who’s natal mercury is well-placed, and only drink from his mercurial waters during times of our own collective mercurial strife. At least we give ourselves that much. Unfettered mercury would be nice. Maybe some time in our future.

  • […] has had quite a long and fairly positive history with Mercury retrograde which you can read about here, so it doesn’t surprise me too much that he made yet another important announcement during […]

  • […] with retrograde Mercury in Aries. Obama’s positive history with Mercury retrogrades has been well-documented on this blog, and is certainly appropriate for a big announcement from an administration that also began under a […]

  • […] retrograde in opposition to Neptune. This could play out a few ways. We know that Obama has had a fairly decent history with Mercury retrogrades from his well-placed Mercury at birth. He tends to benefit from the chaos that surrounds him, and […]

  • […] an article a couple of years ago here on The Political Astrology Blog where he pointed out that Obama launched his 2008 presidential campaign under a void of course Moon, and it didn’t seem to be a problem because he won the […]