Horary Analysis--The Basics

Volumes have been written about horary astrology. The best I can hope to do in the short space I'm allowing myself is to offer some basic guidelines--which basics should, in fact, be enough to get anyone started reading charts.

This lesson gives a method of horary analysis in its broadest strokes. In later lessons, I will elaborate on these guidelines, as well as add the insight of other astrologers whose methods I might not necessarily employ, but who are widely respected and worth trying out.

There remains much debate in horary circles on the subject of "well-it-works-for-me" strategies of analysis. Traditional horary astrologers, especially, eschew (sometimes with the same amusing vehemence with which they deny their own fundamentalism) any technique not espoused by William Lilly, Henry Coley, Bonatus, Ptolemy, and other long-dead astrologers. While the contribution of these old astrologers--and the lasting usefulness of many of their techniques--remains, in my opinion, inarguable, it may be prudent to remember that astrology is not a hard science. The "rules" of the ancients are not scientific laws, and even they tried out the techniques of their predecessors, and kept what worked and discarded what didn't. Astrology remains largely an art, and as such ought to be subject to the beneficial vagaries of intuition, hunches, and daring . . . and, of course, most importantly, experience. Some horary astrologers, however, will not even look at a chart unless it has been cast in Regiomontanus (the house system preferred by William Lilly). Such fundamentalism is unnecessary. If you pick up a variety of horary astrology books, you will find that the techniques taught in them differ, sometimes only slightly, sometimes a great deal. This is because astrologers find that certain techniques work better for them than others do. Experience, built on an appreciation for and understanding of the best the tradition has to offer, will show you what works best for your style of analysis.

In other words, explore the tradition, but don't be imprisoned by it. That's what you'll find here . . . tradition explored, and a variety of sources drawn upon.

    First, a short list of books I've found useful:

  1. Horary Astrology Plain & Simple, by Anthony Louis
  2. Christian Astrology, by William Lilly
  3. Simplified Horary Astrology, by Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson
  4. The Only Way To Learn About Horary and Electional Astrology, by Marion March, and Joan McEvers
  5. The Art of Horary Astrology in Practice, by Sylvia DeLong

Also, if you want to save yourself having to calculate charts by hand, download Allen Edwall's excellent free astrology program, Astrowin , and browse his site.

1. Asking the Question & Casting the Chart. Virtually any question can be answered by horary astrology. The easiest questions are those requiring simple yes-or-no answers, but even more complex ones such as, "Should I move to Arizona, Las Vegas, or Oregon," or, "Where did I leave my glasses, will I find them, and when?" can successfully be answered using horary. You can even ask several unrelated question at the same time, and answer them all with the same chart.

I always cast a chart for the time and place that I first understand the question, even if the querent first asked the question at a different time in a different place. This is the only way I can be certain of an accurate "birth time" for the question. It makes sense, of course, that the better time for which to erect a chart would be the moment when the question is first asked . . . so experiment. I find that more often than not, at least as far as divination is concerned, consistency of procedure is often more important than precisely which procedure you favor.

Finally, ask the question only once, unless circumstance have changed considerably, and the situation warrants another chart. If you cast a chart, don't like the answer, cast another chart for the same question, and like the answer . . . the first chart remains the only valid one.

2. Determine the Appropriate Planets and Houses. The querent is always ruled by the first house. The Moon is considered a co-ruler of the querent. In some cases, it may rule the question--for instance, it may co-rule a lost object. Planets in the first house are also co-rulers of the querent. If Libra is rising, and the Sun and Mercury are in the first house, then the querent is ruled first by Venus, then by the Moon, Sun, and Mercury. In some cases it may be more useful to use a co-ruler to rule the querent, such as when the same planet rules the sign on the cusp of the querent and the quesited.

To receive an accurate answer, you must successfully place the question in its house. This subject deserves-- and will get--its own lesson. Briefly, though, the nature of a question determines which house it is assigned. Questions about money & possessions are assigned to the 2nd house; neighbors, writing, siblings, to the 3rd; the home, father, family to the 4th; and so on. The ruler of the question is that planet that rules the sign on the cusp of the appropriate house.

Generally, other people are ruled by the 7th house. If you ask about a relative, though, he belongs to the house that rules that relative. So, too, do questions asked in such a way that a relationship is established. For example, since the 11th house rules friends, and the 4th house rules fathers, if you asked, "Will my father's friend get his promotion?" the friend would be ruled by the chart's 2nd house (the 2nd is the 11th of the 4th), and the promotion would be ruled by the chart's 11th (which is the friend's 10th house of career). Complicated, huh? More about this in Lesson 3.

A rule of thumb I've found useful is to determine in which house I will place the question before casting the chart, to avoid being swayed by any bias. Often, though, the chart itself will reveal other things that need to be considered.

3. Are There Any Strictures Against Judgment? Strictures are conditions within a chart restricting its interpration. Traditionally, charts were not to be read if they contained certain strictures. In my own experience, I have found that while strictures may make interpretation difficult, they don't necessarily prohibit it; often, they merely warn the astrologer to proceed with great care.

Here are "Lilly's Considerations Before Judgment."
Do the Ascendant Ruler and Planetary Hour Match? Lilly says the ruler of the hour at the time the question is proposed must be the same as the ruler of the Ascendant, or of the same triplicity or nature. Lilly's example: "Let the Lord of the hour be Mars, let the Sign of Scorpio, Cancer, or Pisces ascend, this Question is then radicall, because Mars is Lord of theHour, and of the Watery Triplicity, or of those Signs Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces."
Also, if Mars rules the hour, and Aries is on the cusp of the 1st, the chart is radical, because Mars rules both the hour and the Ascendant.
If Leo Ascends, the chart is radical because the Sun (ruling Leo) is hot and dry, like Mars.

You might also compare the horary ascendant to the querent's natal chart ascendant. Similarities between them, or the conjunction of a natal planet with the horary ascendant can indicate a radical chart.

Less than 3 Degrees Rising Lilly warns against judging a chart with 0 - 3 degrees rising, unless the seeker is very young, and his physical charateristic "agree with the quality of the sign ascending." Early degrees may also signify that the matter in question is too premature to judge.
More than 27 Degrees Rising. "It's no wayes safe to give judgment, except the Querent be in yeers corresponding to the number of degrees ascending; or unlesse the Figure be set upon a certain time, viz. a man went away or fled at such a time precise . . ." In other words, you may safely judge a chart with late degrees rising if the time of the chart corresponds to an actual event that you are judging. Late degrees may also signify that the question has been asked too late, that conditions have changed making the question obsolete,
Where is the Moon? According to Lilly, a chart is not safe to judge when the Moon is in the later degrees of a sign, especially Gemini, Scorpio, and Capricorn.

The chart is also not safe to judge when the Moon is in the Via Combusta, or "Fiery Way," which lies from 15 degrees Libra to 15 degress Scorpio.

Moon Void of Course According to Lilly, things rarely progressed as hoped when the Moon was Void of Course, unless other factors in the chart were very strong. Lilly says that sometimes "she performs if void of course, and be either in Taurus, Cancer, Sagittarius or Pisces."

Lilly and Dariot regarded a void of course Moon as a Moon that did not begin any applying, major ptolemaic aspects (conjunction, sextile, square, trine, opposition) before leaving her sign. Modern astrologers, however, regard a VOC Moon as one that does not complete any major aspects before leaving her sign. I tend to favor Lilly's definition because I have not found that a VOC Moon by the modern definition necessarily disqualifies a chart. If the Moon is within orb of a major aspect, I do not consider it VOC.

What's Going On in the 7th? Lilly advises that the astrologer be wary when the cusp of the 7th house is afflicted, or the planet ruling that house is retrograde or otherwise afflicted (in its fall, or terms of a malefic, for instance). Except when the astrologer asks a question for himself (in which case she is ruled by the 1st), the 7th house, as the house of "other people," rules the astrologer, and an affliction can indicate difficulty reading the chart, or mistaken analysis. Astrologers, especially traditional horary astrologers, always prick up their ears when Saturn is in the 7th.

An exception to this rule occurs when the question itself is a 7th-house matter.

Where's Saturn? If Saturn is in the 1st House (or, presumably, conjunct the Ascendent), then the matter will rarely work out as the seeker hopes, especially when Saturn is retrograde. An exception to this rule may be when Saturn's placement in the first is somehow descriptive of what's going on. Look at the chart, "Will I get the Anullment?" (in the drop-down menu below) for an example of a retrograde Saturn conjunct the Ascendant. In this case, the seeker did indeed get what he wanted: the anullment. It was, however, delayed, and Saturn often signifies delay.

As already noted, "Saturn in the seventh either corrupts the judgment of the Astrologer, or is a Sign the matter propounded will come from one misfortune to another." Thus spake Lilly.

Is the Asdendant ruler combust? When the Moon is too close to the Sun, it is--so the wisdom went--"burned up" by its heat, and therefore unable to perform. A planet is combust when it is:
  1. in the same sign as the Sun, and
  2. between 17 minutes and 8-1/2 degrees of the Sun.

If a planet is between 8-1/2 degrees and 17 degrees of the Sun, it is considered "Under the Sunbeams," where it is weakened, but not as severely as when combust.

If, however, a planet is withing 17 minutes of the Sun, it is considered "Cazimi," and is greatly strengthed.

According to William Lilly, , "If the Lord of the Ascendant be combust, neither the question propounded will take, nor the querent be regulated." In other words, the matter the seeker hopes for will not come to pass, and/or he will remain unsatisfied.

Equal Testimonies In other words, the chart does not give any clear answer. The positives are balanced equally by the negatives. In such cases, I will reluctantly resort to minor aspects, and Lilly's point system as tie-breakers. I always feel as though I'm on thing ice, though.

4. Does the Chart Describe the Question? William Lilly believed that it was of primary importance that a chart's Ascendant ruler matched the planetary hour ruler, or that the triplicity of the Ascendant was the same as the planetary hour ruler, or, finally, that the Ascendant ruler and the planetary hour were of the same nature. If there is no match, then the Ascendant should physically describe the querent (more on this in a later lesson).

I do use these means to validate charts, but generally, I look at the chart as whole to see if it describes the situation in some way. Particularly, I look to see if the lights (Sun and Moon) reside in houses pertinent to the question, or if the Moon's separating aspects somehow describe some recent event. Also, do the houses with the signs ruled by the lights (Cancer and Leo) have something to do with the question?

To be wholly comfortable with the "fit" of a chart, I like to see at least three confirmations, but I will read a chart when there are fewer, especially if they are particularly descriptive. Here's are some examples of how one may gauge a chart's fit. They were cast in the Koch house system.

In the first chart, the Ascendant is ruled by Saturn (I always use the ancient planets as primary rulers, and often, if not always, ignore Uranus, Pluto, and Neptune as primary significators). The planetary hour is also ruled by Saturn. The Moon is in the 9th house of long-distance travel, which a move to California would involve since the seeker would be moving very nearly across the country. The Ascendant ruler, Saturn, is in the 2nd house of money; the seeker was concerned about the considerably higher cost of living in California. Finally, Leo, the sign ruled by the Sun, is on the cusp of the 7th. In questions involving relocation, the 4th house rules the present home, and the 7th rules the place you are moving to. That the sign of a light is on the cusp of the 7th, then, is entirely appropriate. The Moon's last major aspect (to a traditional planet) is a sextile to Mercury, which rules the 4th. The querent felt a keen attachment to his current home and did not want to leave. Saturn, the querent, is applying to a square of the Sun, ruling California in this chart: he does not want to go. In fact, this aspect alone seems to be urging them not to go. The chart adequately describes the situation. (They did, in fact, move to California. It was a difficult and expensive move and the querent is very unhappy there.)

The second example regards a seeker's attempt to secure a marriage anullment from his first wife. He had since remarried and wished to join the Roman Catholic Church, and they were requiring him first to endure a protracted and complicated anullment process. His ex-wife was inexplicably bitterly opposing the anullment.

Probably the first thing to note is that there are two obvious strictures against judgment. First, the Ascendant is within the last 3 degrees of the sign, and the Moon is void of course (it makes no major aspect before leaving its sign). Nevertheless, look at how well the chart describes the situation. First, the Moon is in the 9th of relgion and legal matters. The Catholic church has its own court--a "marriage tribunal"--to judge these cases according to canon law. One of the seeker's main reasons for joining the church was because his daughter, who lived with her mother, was being raised in it, and he wanted to share this part of his daughter's life with her. Leo is on the cusp of the 5th of children. The Ascendant ruler is Mars, and the planetary hour ruler is the Sun--planets of the same nature, fiery. Saturn rules the tribunal, and is retrograde in the the 12th, on the cusp of the Ascendant. This could signify delay, and in fact, the seeker's Advocate at the tribunal told him that his ex-wife was using every obstructionist tactic she could come up with, and successfully delay the procedure (prompting him to ask this horary question). The Moon's last aspect was a trine to Saturn, which rules the 10th (the tribunal).

Sometimes, a Void of Course Moon, or an Asc. in late degrees will simply indicate that there is nothing to be done about the matter, and in this case, there wasn't. There was nothing the querent could do to speed up the process.

Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson regarded some degrees as critical, among them, 29 degrees of any sign. About this, she writes, "The 29th degree shows some misfortune connected with the matter: The person or matter asked about is changing, at the end of his rope or patience, or desperate." The seeker was fed up, so, in this case, that both the Moon and the Ascendant were in critical degrees aptly described the situation.

Guido Bonatus, and ancient astrologer, regarded early- and late-degree Ascendants as an indication of the seeker's insincerity: that the seeker was only trying to test the astrologer.

This was a difficult chart to judge. There were no strong indications one way or another. I told the seeker this, and that I was not comfortable rendering a judgment on this chart, but that if I had to choose--with a gun to my head--I would say that after much delay it would be judged that his case was stronger, and that therefore he would get the anullment. I based this judgment primarily on the fact that using Lilly's point system for judging the strengths of the planets, Mars (him) was considerably stronger than Venus (the ex-wife). Also, the Part of Fortune resided in the first house. Also, the Moon's next major aspect was a distant trine to Jupiter in the 11th house of hopes and goals. Jupiter also rules the 9th of legal matters. Eventually, he got his anullment.

5. The Moon is A Co-Ruler. Generally, the Moon is considered a co-ruler of the querent, secondary in weight to the ruler of the ascendant. Often, the Moon's house, sign, and aspects will describe some aspect of the querent's situation, or an area of concern. A favorable aspect involving the Moon may not be enough in itself to ensure a favorable outcome to the question, but it certainly helps.

In matters involving lost objects, the Moon is considered a co-ruler of the lost object.

The Moon's past major aspects describe events leading up to the question (as do other separating aspects made by other pertinent planets). The Moon's applying aspects describe situations the querent will encounter; only the aspects the Moon makes through until it leaves its current sign are significant.

6. Favorable aspects indicate a favorable outcome. Only the major ptolemaic aspects are considered, generally. Joan McEvers also looks at the quincunx, and may consider minor aspects if no others are made. Of course, other considerations may need to be taken into account, but generally this rule holds true. Conjunctions, sextiles, and trines indicate positive relationships. In some cases a conjunction may be negative, if the joining, or coming together that it symbolizes is undesirable. Similarly, negative aspects indicate a negative outcome. Squares indicate frustration, oppositions show separations.

Generally, no major aspect indicates no major action. It doesn't necessarily mean "No," however.

If the chart is radical, and there are no major positive or negative aspects, look for other positive or negative indicators, such as significant planets conjunct strongly positive or negative degrees, or fixed stars, or malefics rising (see below). Always search the chart for additional conditions, aspects, and so on, that confirm the major aspect. Two or three confirmations should be sufficient. More are even better. In some cases, where there are conflicting aspects, go with the preponderance of indicators.

7. Pay Attention to Rising Planets. Malefics rising confirm (but don't in themselves usually yield) a negative answer. Benefics rising confirm a positive answer.

Saturn Rising. This can show delay and worry.
Mars Rising. This can show disagreement or quarreling. Disruption and change.
Neptune Rising. Can indicate deception, confusion, indecision, weakness. Seeker may not have a clear or accurate picture of what he desires.
Uranus Rising. Sudden events. Disruption. Seeker may change his mind. Expect unexpected. Separation.

8. Are There Any Other Strongly Positive or Negative Factors? Malefic degrees, fixed stars, Arabic Parts . . . all these can contribute to a positive or negative answer. Other factors that affect planetary strength and the perfection of aspects will be further discussed in later lessons.

End of Lesson 1