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Aspects in Horary Astrology

You can probably become a fine horary astrologer without being able to define terms like "platic," "partile," "dexter," "sinister," "moiety," and so forth. In fact, I half-suspect, at times, that some astrologers fancy the convolutions of medieval and Renaissance-era astrology because these additional factors can be turned to when their reading of a chart doesn't turn out as they hoped: "Ah, I neglected to take into consideration that it was a sinister application. That's why I got it wrong!" Better a failure on the part of the astrologer, than on horary astrology itself, they might figure.

Nevertheless, these considerations can add useful detail. The danger is not in knowing too much, but in trying to use it all in every chart. If there is a Golden Rule in horary astrology, it might be that, "If the major significators answer the question clearly, stop!" In other words, use the minutiae when necessary . . . not as a vulgar display of astrological muscle-flexing.

The Aspects

Most astrologers consider only the major--or Ptolemaic--aspects in horary, viz., conjunctions, sextiles, squares, trines, and oppositions. Other astrologers, such as Joan McEvers, include the quincunx (150°) as one of the major aspect. Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson included the Parallel with the major aspects, but considered the quincunx a minor aspect. Generally, I look to only the Ptolemaic aspects for strong answers, use the quincunx for confirmation or description, and ignore parallels.

Following is a table summarizing commonly used aspects, their natures, and orbs.

Aspect Angle Orb Nature/Keywords
Conjunction Cooperation, unification, meetings, reunion. Positive or negative depending on the question and the nature of the planets.
Sextile 60° (2 signs) Opportunity, success with effort. Positive.
Square 90° (three signs) Obstacles, frustration, strain. Negative.
Trine 120° (4 signs) Success, good fortune, goals easier to accomplish than with a sextile. Positive.
Opposition 180° (6 signs) Separation, rending, conflict. Negative.
Quincunx (or Inconjunct) 150° (5 signs) Adjustment, dislocation, disrepair. Negative.
Parallel =Declination Similar to a conjunction. According to Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson, a parallel signifies that "The thing is as good as done now."

Outside of Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's Simplified Horary Astrology, I have not seen parallels given the same weight in horary as the major Ptolemaic aspects. I have not found parallels to be consistently useful in determining the outcome of horary questions.

Fudge Factors?

As you know from Lesson 1, the general rule is positive aspects signify positive outcomes, and negative aspects signify negative outcomes. Some astrologers find room for hedging even with this basic rule. For instance, Lilly believed that under some circumstances, sextiles are "stretched" into squares, and squares are stretched into trines. It's an idea he picked up from Ptolemy. This is one of those "rules" I pay no attention to, in spite of the fact that there is some fairly respectable precedent for it. In the excellent book Horary Astrology, the History and Practice of Astro-Divination, Anthony Louis, who leans towards a more traditional approach to horary practice, called this long-and-short ascension rule nonsense, a "fudge factor," and claimed that the history of horary is full of similar nonsense.

William Lilly and Aspects in Horary

The Long and Short of It

Signs of Long Ascension. These are (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere): Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra,Scorpio, and Sagittarius. When planets apply to a sextile from within signs of long ascension, the sextile acts as a square, and when they apply to a square, the square acts as a trine.

Signs of Short Ascension. Again, in the Northern Hemisphere: Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini. In these signs, squares act as sextiles, and trines as squares.

In the Southern Hemisphere, these signs are reversed, i.e., our signs of long ascension are their signs of short ascension, while our signs of short ascension are their signs of long ascension. Marc Edmund Jones said that an emphasis on signs of long ascension in a horary chart indicate show a course of development that is more solid and unhurried. An emphasis on signs of short ascension can show rapid development, impulsive action.

William Lilly and Orbs

When Lilly measured orbs, he didn't measure the orb of an aspect, as we tend to today; he measured the orb of a planet's influence. Lilly used two sets of orbs, stating, "I sometimes use the one, and sometimes the other, as my Memory best Remembereth them . . ."(Lilly 107).

Planet Orb 2nd Orb Moiety
Saturn 10°0' 9°0' 4½° or 5°
Jupiter 12°0' 9°0' 4½° or 6°
Mars 7°30' 7°0' 3¾° or 3½°
Sun 17°0' 15°0' 8½° or 7½°
Venus 8°0' 7°0' 4° or 3½°
Mercury 7°0' 7°0' 3½°
Moon 12°30' 12°0' 6¼° or 6°

Lilly is not saying, however, that any aspect involving, say, the Sun will enjoy a 17° orb of influence. A planet's orb of influence is a sphere of influence, with the planet occupying the center of that sphere. In other words, the Sun's orb of influence does not extend 17° in all directions, but half that distance in all directions.

To see how this works in practice, consider two planets, Venus and the Moon. We'll say Venus is at 12° Aries, and the Moon at 1° Aries.

        <==6°==Moon==6°==>   <==3½°==Venus==3½°==>
	                          1°Aries      9.5°Aries           12°Aries

Above, you see each planet at the center of its orb of influence. You see, too, that they will be within orb of a conjunction when the Moon approaches to within 9.5 degrees of Venus. It is at this point that they will be within each other's sphere of influence.

Incidentally, the term moiety is used to describe one-half a planet's orb. The moiety of the Moon, therefore, is 6° (or 6¼°, depending on which orb you "best remembereth").

Some Additional Nomenclature

Application & Separation. First, remember that an aspect is said to be made by the faster of two planets, to the slower. Thus, Mercury at 5°30'Aries is applying in sextile to to Jupiter at 9°20' Gemini. Mercury would not apply to the Moon, though, because the Moon is faster. The Moon, being the fasts planet, almost always applies to all the other planets. Exceptions to this rule occur in the case of retrograde planets. It is best to check an ephemeris to see when and if a planet is slowing down, especially if you typically use a computer to calculate charts (as I do). It is very possible that what appears as an applying aspect in the computer-generated aspectarian will not reach perfection.

Second, remember that applying aspects describe what is to come, while separating aspects describe what has already occurred. Lilly regarded an aspect as separating at 6 minutes of arc after is exact.

Dexter Aspect. An aspect made against the order of the signs. Dexter aspects are considered stronger than sinister aspect. The Moon in Gemini applying to an aspect with Saturn in Aries is said to be casting a dexter aspect.

Sinister Aspect.An aspect made with the order of the signs. The Moon in Aries applying to an aspect with Saturn in Gemini is said to be casting sinister aspect.

Partile Aspect. When planets occupy the same degree and make an aspect, it is a partile aspect, "as if Mercury be in nine degrees of Aries, and Jupiter in nine degrees of Leo, this is a Partill Trine aspect: So Sun in one degree of Taurus, and Moon in one degree of Cancer, make a Partill Sextile, and this is a strong sign or argument for performance of anything, or that the matter is neer hand concluded . . . " In other words, the planets occupy the same numerical degree: Mercury at 9°14' Aries, and Jupiter at 9°29' Leo would still be said to be in partile trine.

Platic Aspect. A platic aspect occurs when two planets are within orb of an aspect, but occupy different degrees. In other words, the planets are within moiety of their orbs. Mercury at 9°14' Aries and Jupiter at 10°0' Leo would be in a platic trine.

Lilly's definitions of Partile and Platic aspects would seem to suggest that Partile is synonymous with "exact", and Platic with "inexact." Other writers, however (such as Anthony Louis) call an aspect exact when the two planets occupy precisely the same degree, minute, and second of the signs they occupy.

Mutual Application.When one planet is retrograde, two planets may apply towards each other in aspect. Mutual application can indicate that a matter will be brought to conclusion rapidly, or that a lost item or pet will be returned.

Solstice Points. In horary these days the solstice points are more commonly referred to as "Antiscia." They are reflection points along the Capricorn/Cancer axis. The following table shows the antiscia by sign, degree, and minute:

Some astrologers consider only those aspects that perfect before the planets change signs to give an indication of the outcome. Others allow the planets to change signs if the aspects (or planets) are within orb before the planets change signs (the sign change would indicate a conclusion to the matter only after a change of circumstances). Marc Edmund Jones says that the orbs of aspect are not important--it is merely when and if planets move into or out of a relationship that counts, so long as they do so without changing signs.

Antiscia by Sign Antiscia by Degree Antiscia by Minute
Gemini/Cancer 1° / 29° 1' / 59' 16' / 44'
Leo/Taurus 2° / 28° 2' / 58' 17' / 43'
Virgo/Aries 3° / 27° 3' / 57' 18' / 42'
Libra/Pisces 4° / 26° 4' / 56' 19' / 41'
Scorpio/Aquarius 5° / 25° 5' / 55' 20' / 40'
Sagittarius/Capricorn 6° / 24° 6' / 54' 21' / 39'
7° / 23° 7' / 53' 22' / 38'
8° / 22° 8' / 52' 23' / 37'
9° / 21° 9' / 51' 24' / 36
10° / 20° 10' / 50' 25' / 35'
11° / 19° 11' / 49' 26' / 34'
12° / 18° 12' / 48' 27' / 33'
13° / 17° 13' / 47' 28' / 32'
14° / 16° 14' / 46' 29' / 31'
15° / 15° 15' / 45' 30' / 30'

If the relationship of a point to its antiscion is not apparent from the table above, it might help to plot some points on a blank horoscope wheel.

To find a planet's solstice point, subtract the numerical value of its position from 30° (or 29°60') and then look up its sign's "reflection." Thus, a planet at 19°09' Pisces will have its antscion at 10°51' Libra:

29°60' - 19°09' = 10°51'

The reflection of Pisces across the Capricorn/Cancer axis is Libra.

Similarly, a planet at 25°33' Scorpio will have its antiscion at 4° 27' Aquarius. A planet at 19°56' Scorpio will have its antiscion at 10°04' Aquarius. A planet at 10° 02' Libra will have its antiscion at 19°58' Pisces.

A contrascion is the point exactly opposite (180°) the antiscion point. The conjunction of a planet to another's antiscion acts like a sextile or trine Contrascions act like a square or opposition.

Other Ways a Matter May Be Brought to Conclusion

Collection of Light. When two planets do not apply to one another in aspect, but do apply to a third, slower planet, the 3rd planet is said to "collect" the light of the faster two planets. Collection can indicate that another party will become involved to help bring the matter to a close. Collection can also help bring a matter to perfection when the rulers of the querent and the question make and unfavorable aspect to one another, but make another favorable major aspect to a third, heavier planet in a later degree. Collection of light can be an especially potent "aspect" when the third planet is in at least one of the essential dignities of each of the swifter planets.

Translation of Light. For a translation of light to occur, a planet that is faster than the primary significators of the question first aspects one significator, and then the other, either re-activating an aspect between between them or interceding before they perfect an undesirable aspect. Lilly gives the following example: Saturn is at 20° Aries, Mars at 15° Aries, Mercury at 16° Aries. Mercury, the swiftest planet, "separates from Mars, and translates the vertue of Mars unto Saturn." Translation can occur by any major aspect, not just a conjunction.

Mutual Reception. Planets are said to be in reception when they are each in a dignity of the other. In modern astrology, we generally only consider mutual reception by sign, such as when the Sun is in Scorpio and Mars is in Leo. In horary, however, we can consider reception by sign, exaltation, triplicity, term, or face. These will be discussed in Lesson 7, "Essential Dignity." Reception by sign remains the strongest, by face the weakest. Reception can help mitigate unfavorable aspects, although I have not found it consistently to be enough in itself to guarantee a positive outcome. Mutual reception can help planets "escape" difficult aspects by symbolically trading places with the planet that they receive. Where, precisely, the planets escape to, though, is debated. Say Mars is at 10° Libra, and Venus at 20° Aries. Some authors would say that when they exchange signs, they also exchange degrees, which in this case would but Mars at 20° Aries, and Venus at 10° Libra. Other astrologers say they remain in their original degree in the new sign.

Moon's Aspects. A glance at the Moon's recent aspects can show events leading up to the moment of the question. A look at the aspects it makes before leaving its sign can show upcoming events. I often find the last conjunction the Moon made to be particularly descriptive. The Moon's applying aspects can confirm an answer, but they don't in themselves usually yield one unless other factors support that outcome. The exception is when the Moon translates light.

Obstacles to Perfection

Many factors in a chart can contribute to a matter's not concluding satisfactorily. These include combustion, essential dignity, accidental dignity, aspects to the New or Full Moon, planetary speed, and more. Here, we will discuss a few factors directly relevant to aspects.

Frustration. Lilly described this with a proverb: "The Dogs quarrel, a third gets the Bone." Or, two of the primary significators are moving towards a conjunction, but before it perfects, another planet interposes itself between them, joining to the heavier planet, "as Mercury in ten degrees of Aries, Mars twelve, Jupiter in thirteen of Aires; here Mercury strives to come to Conjunction with Mars, but Mars first gets to conjunction with Jupiter; whereby Mercury is frustrated of the Conjunction of Mars . . ." (Lilly 112-13).

Prohibition. This is not unlike frustration. Two planets, significators, are applying toward a major aspect, but before it perfects, a third perfects a major aspect to one of the two significators. Frustration and Prohibition might not necessarily prohibit a positive outcome, but they both at least show some sort of outside intereference, the nature of which will be revealed by the interfering planet and the house it rules in the horary chart.

Refranation. Two planets are applying toward an aspect, but before the aspect perfects, one of the planet turns retrograde, and as a result the aspect cannot become exact.

Void of Course. A planet is void of course when it does not apply to to another planet, in major aspect, before leaving its sign. Modern astrologers often consider a planet void if the aspect does not perfect before the applying planet leaves its sign, but Lilly and his contemporaries were more forgiving. So long as a planet is within orb of a major aspect before leaving its sign, Lilly stated, it was not void. This obstacle is most commonly observed in the Moon. A void moon doesn't necessarily prohibit a positive outcome--it does make it more difficult to attain, though. Jones said that a void Moon shows, "a definite lack of pertinent dynamic in the situation . . ." He considered the chart unreadable when the Moon is void, unless this debility had special significance in the matter. Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson, however, asserts that "NO CHART IS UNREADABLE." She says that if the Moon aspects the Part of Fortune, that she is only "zodically" void. A completely void of course Moon, Jacobson said, shows that nothing can will come of the matter, that fears are unfounded, that the seeker can stop fretting. Other astrologers claim that a VOC Moon can also suggest that the querent is powerless to affect the situation, or that lost articles will not be returned.


If a planet turns retrograde before an aspect perfects, it signifies a reversal of some sort, and the thing asked about not coming to pass. For instance, if someone asks a question about marriage, and the signifiers of the man and woman are applying by sextile, but one of the planets turns retrograde, it could show that person whom the planet represents backing out of the committment. The same holds true for business dealings, and partnerships in general. This failure to complete an aspect is called refranation.

The symolism of a retrograde planet can also have very positive implications. For instance, if the horary chart is cast for a lost object, a retrograde planet signifying the lost object generally shows that the object will be found. Think about it: retrogradation is a turning back of the planet, a return to a previous position. An errant spouse signified by a retrograde planet will return.

Planets can apply towards each other when one planet is retrograde. This is called mutual application, and an aspect that completes by mutual application is even stronger, more emphatic than otherwise.

In Lilly's point system, retrogradation weakens a planet. I'll discuss this more in the Essential Dignities lesson.


A quick look at the Moon's recent aspects can reveal circumstances that have lead to the the moment of the question: background information. The Moon's future aspects can reveal how things will develop, up to the conclusion of the matter as shown by the primary planets. Consider only separating/applying aspects of the Moon in its current sign. Further detail can be revealed by examining the planet that the Moon last conjoined (and the house that planet signifies). Unless the Moon is a primary signifier, though, its influence in the matter is more descriptive than determinative. In other words, the last aspect the moon makes will not negate a contrary outcome indicated by planets ruling the houses in question. It may, however, confirm that outcome.

End of Lesson 4