Simply, if you can't place the question in the right house, you can't answer the question.
True, signs and planets are important, but natural rulerships are of secondary importance to house rulership. For instance, Mars might be a natural ruler of soldiers, policemen, accidents, and so forth. But if you were asking a question like, "Will the police catch the thief?" the ruler of the the 10th (authority figures) would be a good choice to represent the police. (And the 7th house would represent the thief.) When judging a question, always look first to the rulers of the appropriate houses.
I always try to assign a house to the matter before looking at the chart. I may change my mind while reading the chart, but only if there is a compelling reason within the chart to do so, or if I have made an obvious error. Choosing the house ahead of time helps me avoid wishful bias in my interpretation, and allows me better to see in a chart what I might not see in the querent's description of the situation, or even the querent himself.
You also need to decide which house system to use. Among traditional astrologers, Regiomontanus is the house system du jour because it is the house system favored by William Lilly. I have successfully used Regiomontanus, Koch, and Placidus. For a long time, I used Regiomontanus. Lately, I've been using Koch--for no good reason other than the pleasure I get from experimenting.
If you use Regiomontanus, keep in mind that William Lilly observed a 5-degree cusp orb. When a planet was within 5 degrees of the cusp of the next house, he considered the planet to be a resident of that house. Say, for instance, that the Ascendant is at 15Aq27. Say, too, that Venus is at 8Aq40, and Uranus is at 11Aq32. Employing the 5-degree cusp rule, Venus would reside in the 12th House, but Uranus would be considered a resident of the 1st House, regardless of where you drew it on the physical chart.
I only observe the 5-degree cusp rule with Regiomontanus houses, although the ancients, who used house systems other than Regiomontanus, observed the rule with whatever house system they used. It seems to me, though, that one ought to draw a line somewhere: Either a planet is in a house or it isn't. Horary analysis can be difficult enough as it is without adding additional mugwumping.
I've found it instructive to look at the same chart using different house system, although this sort of comparison hasn't really shown one system to be preferable, overall, over another, at least not in my own studies. Although reading the same chart in different house systems will often yield remarkably similar results (even when a change of houses changes significators), I think it's wise to consider the chart drawn in house system the chart was "born" in as the question's "real" chart, and to use it to answer the question. For the same reason you don't ask the same question more than once, you also don't shop around for a house system that yields the desired answer. A horary chart maps a moment in time, and convergence of chance and choice, part of which involves the astrologer's choice of house system, even if that choice is somehow accidental. This, at least, has been my experience.
The table below employs house rulerships drawn both from modern and traditional sources. Reading horary astrology books, you will come across some apparent contradictions. For instance, modern astrologers generally assign the mother to the 4th house, and the father to the 10th. Traditionally, this is reversed, and the father is ruled by the 4th, the mother by the 10th. Noel Tyl advises that you let the 10th represent the "dominant parent," whoever it might be.
Modern astrologers' reasoning for assinging mothers to the 4th and fathers to the 10th runs something along these lines: The 4th is ruled by Cancer and represents the home and security, therefore, it is natural that mothers and motherhood should be associated with this house; the 10th is a house of authority, and traditionally fathers are the authority figures within a family, so it is natural to place fathers and fatherhood in the 10th." Not a bad argument.
Nevertheless, while I follow Tyl's advice when doing natal astrology, I follow Lilly's when doing horary. It was what I learned when I started doing horary, and it has yielded good results, so I have found no need to change. Lilly says:
The Mothers Significators are,
First, the 10th house.
Secondly, the Lord thereof.
Thirdly, Venus in a diurnall Nativity, Moon in a nocturnall.
Fourthly, a Planet or Planets in the 10th house.
Although Lilly was talking about natal charts, the same rulerships can be applied to horary charts.
About fathers, Lilly says:
The Significators of the Father in every Geniture are:
First, the 4th house.
Secondly, the Lord thereof.
Thirdly, the Sun in a diurnall Geniture, Saturn in a nocturnall.
Fourthly, the Planet or Planets in the 4th are considerable.
I think it's easiest to choose whichever rulership you prefer, and to stick with it.
When the seeker asks a question about another person, you may find it necessary to skip around the chart to "derive" the house suitable to that person inquired about. For the most part, this skipping will depend on ther quesited's (i.e., the person/thing asked about) relationship to the querent. For instance, say you ask a question about your grandmother--your father's mother. If you take the 4th to rule the father, then the 10th from the 4 will rule the father's mother, or your grandmother, which places paternal grandmothers in the 1st house.
If you ask a question about your grandparents, say, both your father's parents, then the correct house would be the 4th of the 4th, or the 7th. If the grandparents you're asking about are your maternal grandparents, then the correct house would be the 4th of the 10th.
Nieces and nephews, as your siblings'(3rd house) children (5th house), would reside in 5th house from the 3rd, or the 7th. You would find your nieces and nephews by marriage (i.e., your spouse's niece or nephew) by starting at the 7th. The 7th represents your spouse, the spouse's sibling would be in the 9th (3rd from the 7th), and the spouse's sibling's childres would be in the 5th from the 9th, or the 1st.
Often, a horary question will require you to differentiate similar, related objects. For instance, say you own a vacation home in the Catskills, but most of the year you live in your home in the Bronx. You get a notion to sell the Catskills home, because you no longer see what the Catskills has to offer that the Bronx doesn't (queer thinking, but maybe you like noise and hordes). You ask, "Should I sell my home in the Catskills?" Your first home would be ruled by the 4th house, and your second home--your vacation home-- would be ruled by the 3rd from the 4th, or the 6th. The Catskills home is regarded as a sibling of the Bronx home. If you own a third home in Vermont, and ask, "Should I sell my 2nd or 3rd home?" the third home would be ruled by the 3rd from the 6th, the 8th.
The same can be done with people. Charlie Chan would place Son Number One in the 5th house. Son Number Two would be in the 3rd from the 5th, or the 7th . . . and so on. If, however, Mr. Chan referred to Son Number Two simply as "my son," then Son Number Two would be a resident of the 5th house of children. It all depends on how the question is asked.
The thing asked about must bear some sort of relationship--either one of ownership or of kinship--to the querent to be derived using 3rd-house sibling relationships.
That doesn't make much sense, does it? Simply, it means that something asked about does not bear a kinship/ownership relationship to the querent. For instance, if the Querent lives in the Bronx and asks, "Should I sell my vacation home in the Catskills and buy one in Vermont?" the home in the Catskills would enjoy the sibling relationship to the Bronx home, and thus represented by the ruler of the 6th, but the "one in Vermont" would not in this case be placed in the 8th, because it is not yet owned.
The rule is this: If the querent bears an ownership/kindship relationship to a certain object, and asks about another similar object to which he does not bear that relationship, then that 2nd object bears the same relationship to the first that the first does to the querent.
This sounds terribly confusing, but an example should make it clearer. Imagine you've accepted an unusually well-paying job as cowpunch in Texas. You currently live in the Bronx. You have travelled to Texas and looked at houses, and see one you like. You ask, "Should I buy the darling cottage in Seely, Texas?" The house you own and live in now belongs in the 4th house. The one you don't own but are asking about would be the 4th from the 4th, or the 7th. The 7th house bears the same relationship to the 4th that the 4th does to the first (the querent). Simple, right?
Back to the previous question, "Should I sell my vacation home in the Catskills and buy the one in Vermont?" The vacation home is the 6th, and the vacation home in Vermont, the one not yet owned, would be the 6th from the 6th.
Some House Rulerships
| 1st House.
The querent. His state of mind, temperament. Influences surrounding him.
His physical appearance. His health. The head. Accidents befalling querent.
Vehicles inquired about, and ships at sea. The head and face. Absent person
of no relation to querent. "The People." The present, today. Self-promotion.
Derived: Paternal grandmother. Maternal grandfather. Nieces/nephews by marriage. Great grandchildren. End-of-the-matter house of mother (4th from 10th). Death of small animals (8th of 6th).
2nd House. Moveable possessions. Money. Money lent. Profits. Querent's assistants. Lilly says, "In private Duels, the Querents second." Allies. Ammunition and resources. Lost items. Income. Penury. Self-esteem (i.e., sense of self-worth). Ancestors, querent's stockbroker. The immediate future, tomorrow.
Derived: Spouse's death, children's careers, health of brother- or sister-in-law.
3rd House. Short trips. Cars and other transportation. Communication. Messages. Letters. Books. Visits. Writing. Speech. Teachers. Writers. Gossip. Siblings. Primary education. Neighbors. Neighborhoods. The immediate environment.
Derived: Higher education of spouse. Friends' children. Children's friends. Long journey of spouse. Step-grandchildren.
4th House. Father. Parents (both). Household & domestic concerns. The house one lives in. The end of the matter. Land. Things underground. Digging. Wells. Mining. Fields. Mineral rights. Farms. Real Estate. Things mislaid. Buildings. Financial investments. Graves. Estates. The womb. Secure places.
Derived: Cousins (mother's sibling's children). Sibling's money & other 2nd-house affairs. Spouse's job, career, business.
5th House. Children. Gambling. Pregnancy. Dates and dating. Casual amorous relationships. Flings. Recreational sex. Lotteries. Games & sports. Fun, in general. Creative pursuits. Poetry, fiction writing, painting, etc. Financial speculation (depends on the degree of risk involved). Risky activities. Loved pet. Contests. Affairs, if querent is married. Someone acting on behalf of Querent. Secondary education.
Derived: Father's money & moveable possessions. Death of mother.
6th House.Health. Sickness. Small animals. Tasks, work, employees. Tenants. Nurses, doctors (in general). Non-traditional healers. Pets. Detailed work. Food.
Derived: Children's money. Homes or land owned by siblings. Aunts & uncles (i.e. father's siblings).
7th House. Significant others. Business partner. Marriage & divorce. Thieves. Open enemies. Opponents. Other people. Competitor. Other party in a court case. Fugitives. Love affair. Other places. Agreements & disagreements. Doctor, laywer, etc.
Derived: A place you would remove to (as in, "Should I move to California?"). Paternal grandfather, sibling's children.
8th House.Sex. Reproduction. Cutting. Surgery. Death. Taxes. Garbage, sewage, plumbing, dead people. The occult. Psychoanalysis. Rape. Violence. Poisons.
Derived: Child support. Alimony. Wills, legacies, loans. Other people's money. Mate's money & moveable possessions. Money from a business partnership. Mate's sense of self-worth.
9th House. The law. Lawyers, in general. Philosophy. Higher education. Religion. Professors. College classes. Publication of one's writing. Publishers. Legal entities (such as corporations). Legalizing procedures (such as marriage ceremonies). Ritual. Long-distance travel. Standards & rules. Derived: Grandchildren, sister- or brother-in-law.
10th House. Career. Business. A career job. The King. The President. The CEO. The boss. Honor, prestige, reputation. Fame. Government & government officials. Authority. Officers. Law enforcement officers. Success. Career promotion.
Derived: Sibling's death. Health/illness of querent's child.
11th House. Hopes. Goals. Wishes. Friends. Social organizations, clubs. According to Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson, the 11th, coming between the 10th of success and the 12th of failure, represents circumstances in general. Falseness of friends.
Derived: Father's death. Money from job. Mother's money. Boss's assets. A corporation's assets. Children's marriage. Health/illness of aunt or uncle (paternal), and small animals. Son- or daughter-in-law. Stepchildren.
12th House.Charity and kindness. Personal undoing. Institutions. Hospitalization, institutionalization, prison, bondage, fears, nightmares, misfortune, black magic, drugs, alcohol, addiction, drug addicts, madness, secret enemies, suicide, seclusion, large animals. Mysterious and hidden things. Crime. Lying. The past. Ancient things. Yesterday, the past.
Derived: Health of spouse, partner, business partner. Aunt or uncle (maternal).
End of Lesson 2