Planets and Signs in Horary Astrology


In horary astrology, planetary rulership of a matter is determined first by locating the question in the correct house, and then using the ruler of the sign on the cusp, as well as the planetary ruler of the seeker, to answer the question. Planets have "natural" rulership over things, too, though, and sometime you'll find it useful to consider them as a means of confirming an answer, or even, in some cases, as primary rulers. If you ask a question like, "Will I find the money?" and you have Aquarius on the cusp of the 1st, and Capricorn on the 2nd, with no other planets in the 2nd, you might consider using Venus, the natural ruler of money and precious items, to signify the lost money, and Saturn to signify you, the querent, since you can't very well expect Saturn, which rules both houses, to make an aspect to itself.

Planets and signs also play important roles in providing detail to a chart. They can be used to describe people, places, even plants and animals. Some of these other qualities of the planets and signs will be treated in later lessons dealing with physical description, and finding lost objects.

The table below presents some rulerships of the planets, most of them compiled from Lilly's descriptions in Christian Astrology, and Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's Simplified Horary Astrology.

Astrologers treat the so-called modern planets in different ways. Lilly and his crowd--and of course those who preceded him--did not know of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Many contemporary astrologers who favor traditional horary techniques do not consider these three outer planets when reading a chart. Others regard them only as secondary rulers of the signs to which they've been assigned by modern astrology. In other words, a house with Pisces on the cusp would still be ruled by Jupiter, first, and Neptune, second. Some use Uranus as the primary ruler of Aquarius, and follow traditional rulerships for Pisces and Scorpio.

Early in my horary studies, I used modern rulerships, with good results. When I started learning traditional horary astrology, I used traditional rulerships only. Now, I've settled somewhere in between. I still consider the traditional planets the primary rulers, but will use Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto to answer a question when no aspects are made by traditional planets, or for confirmation, or added detail.

Planet Rulership Nature & Characteristics
Sun The giver of life. Gold. Mature men, royalty, aristocrats. Authority. Employers. The father. Bankers. Fidelity. Hot and dry. Masculine. Diurnal. Equivalent to a benefic when well-dignified. Well-dignified:   confident, truthful, direct, humane, charitable. Ill-dignified:Vain, arrogant, untrustworthy, prone to vulgar displays of personal magnificence.
Moon Queen, First lady, women in authority. Women in general. Mothers. Changes. Emotions. Nurses. Wanderers, runaways. Seas, oceans. Domesticity. Children. The "masses." Cold, moist, phlegmatic. Feminine. Nocturnal. Benefic. Well-dignified:  Well-mannered, soft-spoken, mild, prodigal and easily frightened. Freedom-loving. Sensitive. Ill-dignified:   A vagabond, drunkard. A malcontent, impossible to please. Lazy.
Mercury Books, writing. Documents and contracts. Briefcases. Papers. Cars, transportation. Intellectuals. Teachers. Short trips. Luggage. Clerks. Writers, stenographers, etc. Learning, school. Clever people, pranksters. Cold and dry. Neutral gender, except when conjunct another planet, in which case Mecury assumes the gender of that planet. Neither benefic nor malefic, except when joined to a benefic or malefic planet. Well-dignified:  Represents a clever thinker or learned person. An eloquent speaker. Witty and cunning and curious. Ill-dignified:   "A troublesome wit . . . his tongue and Pen against every man" (Lilly). A liar and gossip and cheat.
Venus Called "The Lesser Benefic." Jewelery, money, fine things in general. Presents. Partners, mothers, young women. Fine art. Pleasure and celebrations. Social events. Elegance. Cooperation. "Temperately Cold and Moyst," according to Lilly. Feminine. Nocturnal. Benefic. Well-dignified:   Quiet, refined, pleasant. Prone to romantic entanglements. Sybaritic. Cheerful. Trusting. Ill-dignified:  Given to excess. "Riotous." Debauched. Adulterous. Lazy.
Mars Called "The Lesser Malefic." Fire. Combat. Strife. Courage. Argument. Guns, knives, weapons in general. Men, young through early middle-age. Aggression, generally. Impulsive actions. Danger. Ego. Hot and Dry. Masculine. Nocturnal. Malefic. Well-dignified:  Strong, courageous, victorious. Confident and bold, "yet of prudent behaviour in his own affaires" (Lilly). Ill-dignified:  Cruel. A bully and braggart. Treacherous and violent. Someone not to be trusted.
Jupiter Called "The Greater Benefic." Optimism. Expansion, generally. Higher education. Mature men. Lawyers and judges, legal clerks. Foreigners, long journeys. Priests, ministers. Abundance. "Temperately Hot and Moyst . . . author of Temperance, Modesty, Sobriety, Justice" (Lilly 62). Masculine. Diurnal. Benefic. Well-dignified:  Lilly says it best: "Magnanimous, Faithfull, Bashfull, Aspiring in an honourable way at high matters, in all his actions a Lover of fair dealing, desiring to benefit all men, doing Glorious things, Honourable and Religious, of sweet and affable Conversation, wonderfully indulgent to his Wife and Children, reverencing Aged men, a great Relievaer of the Poor, full of Charity and Godliness, Liberal, hating all Sordid actions, Just, Wife, Prudent, Thankfull, Vertuous: so that when you find Jupiter the significator of any man in a Question, or Lord of his Ascendant in a Nativity, and well dignified, you may judge him qualified as abovesaid." Ill-dignified: Hypocritical, falsely pious. Careless, miserly. Ignorant.
Saturn Called "The Greater Malefic." Time. Old age. Elderly men. The father. Discipline. Constraint. Restriction. Delay. Penury. Loss. Structure. Loneliness. Debility. Discipline and seriousness. Practicality. Severity. Frugality. Cold and dry. Masculine. Diurnal. Malefic. Well-dignified: "Prfound in imagination" (Lilly). Reserved. Austere. Frugal. Patient. Grave in speech. Ill-dignified:  Covetous and jealous. Avaricious, mistrustful. "Outwardly diessembling, sluggish, suspicious, stubborn, a contemner of women, a close lyar, malicious . . . never contented, ever repining" (Lilly 58).
Uranus Accidents. Sudden events and surprises. Unpredictable events, generally. Inventions and inventors. Freedom. Revolution. Astrology. Sudden changes in fortune, good or bad depending on other factors in the chart. Gender neutral, considered by many astrologers to by the "higher octave" of Mercury. Zadkiel says, "The nature of Uranus is extremely evil." Well-dignified:  Humanitarian, ingenious, creative, autonomous, eccentric, spontaneous. Ill-dignified: Violent, unpredictable, unreliable, forgetful.
Neptune Confusion, drugs and alcohol. Addiction. Depression and other psychological ailments. Idealism. Inspiration. ESP. The Arts. Mystery. Fog. Intuition and instinct. Deception. Well-dignified: Visionary, creative, telepathic, intuitive, gentle, dreamy, spiritual, other-worldly. Ill-dignified:  Out of touch with reality, hypochondriacal, given to substance abuse, impractical to a harmful degree, neurotic or psychotic.
Pluto Death, sex. An inexorable force. The "masses." Putrefication. Other people's money, debts. Cutting and penetration. Perspective and transformation. A strong force. Reproduction. Well-dignified:  Powerful, unyielding, irresistable. Ill-dignified:  Violent. Using wealth and power for ignoble purposes.

A Note About Benefics and Malefics

From the table above, you see that Jupiter and Venus are called the Greater and Lesser Benefics. That is, they are naturally fortunate planets. They may become unfortunate, though, depending on the question asked and the house they rule. For example, if Jupiter rules the 8th house of death, it may very well not be fortunate at all. Similarly, a malefic (Saturn or Mars) may rule the 11th house of wishes, and may be applying to a sextile with the Ascendant ruler, indicating that the querent will get his wish.

Part of Fortune

This is a point on the chart, not a planet. It and its dispositor can signify lost objects, money, possessions, and luck. I use it only to confirm answers. I've never had a well-placed POF provide a positive answer in itself.

Marc Edmund Jones uses the house location of the POF to show (or confirm) a querent's area of interest.

The Lunar Nodes

A "node" is the point at which a planet crosses the eliptic. All planets have nodes. I've only seen the Moon's nodes used in horary. The North Node (also called Caput Draconis, or the Dragon's Head) is considered beneficial, having the nature of the Jupiter and Venus. Marc Edmund Jones calls the North Node "a point of definite assistance wherever it is found," assuring cooperation and smooth transactions in areas ruled by the house in which it is found.

The North Node is the Moon's ascending node. The South Node, or Cauda Draconis, is the descending node, and is always exactly opposite the North Node. Jones calls this point an impediment in any horary chart, and shows self-undoing or a lack of common sense.

The Signs

Planetary traits are qualified by the signs they inhabit. In a later lesson, I'll provide more information for using signs to find lost objects, to describe illnesses, and to determine physical characteristics. Here, now, we'll just look at some of the characteristics and correspondences of the 12 signs.

Qualities, Elements, and Signs
Mode Fire Earth Air Water
Cardinal Aries Capricorn Libra Cancer
Fixed Leo Taurus Aquarius Scorpio
Mutable Sagittarius Virgo Gemini Pisces

Cardinal Signs. Also called "Moveable" signs. Cardinal signs signal initiation, beginnings, action. A Cardinal Ascendant can show a quick start. Cardinal signs on all the angles show a sustained, quick movement of the matter, and a quick resolution. Seasons change with the Cardinal signs.

Fixed Signs. These represent an established force. They show stability and rootedness. Change does not occur quickly. Prominent fixed signs can show that the querent is "dug in," stubborn, conservative, stable. Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson says that a fixed cross shows that "there is no stopping the proceedings."

Mutable Signs. Also called "Common" signs. They mark the end of one season and the beginning of the next. They signal imminent change, flexibility. Also, instability. A mutable cross signals changeability, or unstable conditions.

Questions described by a mixed cross often begin in the manner denoted by the mode of the signs on the ascendant and 7th house, and continue or end in the manner dentoed by the mode of the signs on MC and IC.

Sign Rulership and Planetary Dignity

In horary, at least traditional horary, there's much more to Planetary dignity than we typical deal with in contemporary natal astrology. We'll get the basics of essential dignity out of the way here, though, and go into more detail in a later lesson. The gist, though, is this: Planets are stronger--or more "comfortable" in some signs than others. The following table summarizes planetary standing in the signs.

Planet Dignity Exaltation Detriment Fall
Sun Leo Aries Aquarius Libra
Moon Cancer Taurus Capricorn Scorpio
Mercury Gemini & Virgo Virgo Sagittarius Pisces
Venus Taurus & Libra Pisces Aries & Scorpio Virgo
Mars Aries & Scorpio Capricorn Libra & Taurus Cancer
Jupiter Sagittarius & Pisces Cancer Gemini & Virgo Capricorn
Saturn Capricorn & Aquarius Libra Cancer & Leo Aries
Uranus Aquarius Scorpio Leo Taurus
Neptune Pisces Undetermined* Virgo Undetermined*
Pluto Scorpio Undetermined** Taurus Undetermined**

*Jacobson claims Neptune is exhalted in Gemini, and in its fall in Sagittarius.
*Sylvia DeLong has Neptune exhalted in Cancer, and in its fall in Capricorn.
**DeLong has Pluto exhalted in Cancer, and in its fall in Capricorn.

Generally speaking, in horary charts planets reflect the debilitated state of that which they represent. When a well-digified planet represents the querent, for instance, it can show that he is healthy, held in high esteem, or able to accomplish his goals: he is "well-positioned." Well dignified planets can confirm a positive answer. A poorly dignified planet, say, representing the quesited, can show that what the seeker hopes for will fall short of his expectations, or for some reason ought not be pursued.


Here's an example in which the quesited's ruler is poorly dignified. The chart was cast in the Koch house system. There is no agreement between the planetary hour ruler and the Ascendant, so whether the chart is valid is arguable. I had the querent's natal chart, though, and saw that the planetary hour ruler matched the natal Ascendant ruler--not in itself a compelling sign of validity. But the horary Ascendant adequately describes the querent, who is bookish and until very recently worked as a teacher. I decided to read the chart.

The Querent is ruled by Mercury, and co-ruled by the Moon. The quesited--the job--is a 10th house matter. With Aquarius on the 10th, Saturn rules the job. In Koch, the Moon is in the 10th.

The angles are mixed, with mutable signs on the Asc/desc., and fixed signs on the MC/IC. This suggests that the querent is currently in a period of transition that will resolve itself in some manner of increased stability. The Moon's last major aspect was a sextile to Saturn, which in this chart rules the 8th, 9th, and 10th houses. Recently, he quit his job teaching to move to another state, where his wife was offered an excellent job opportunity. A long-distance move is apt 9th house symbolism. The Moon's next major aspect is a sextile to Mercury, natural ruler of tests. He would soon be taking the written exam for the law enforcement job, and the sextile suggests he will do well. (He did, scoring 100%).

He is concerned that past health problems will automatically disqualify him from the race, even though his health now is excellent; this is what motivated him to ask a horary question. That Saturn is in the 12th house of hospitalization confirms that, at the very least, the people in a position to give him a job will be concerned about his past problems.

Mercury is dignified by term, but weak by house (the 6th is considered a malefic house-- it rules illness). The Moon is peregrine. It is, however, acidentally dignified by house. Using Lilly's point system (which will be explained in a later lesson), the Moon rates a +8, and Mercury a +9. Not bad, either of them. Saturn, though--the job--is severely debilitated rating a -10. Saturn is not a surprising planet to show up representing a government job, but in this chart it is retrograde, and peregrine. It resides in the 12th house of self-undoing. Furthermore, Mercury is conjunct the fixed star Unukalhai, at 22Scorp04. Unukalhai signfies success, followed by downfall. Not a good sign. The Ascendant is conjunct Aldebaran, signifying courage, violence, and sickness.

Things don't look good. There are no strong aspect between the major players. Regarding career questions, however, Lilly says that "if none of the Significators be joyned to the Lord of the 10th, see if the Lord of the 1st or Moon be in the 10th, he shall then attain what he desires, if that planet be not impedited." In this chart, the Moon does indeed reside in the 10th, unimpedited.

At the time of this writing, the querent is still pursuing the job, but the chart seems to suggest this: That although the prospect for his obtaining the job does not look very strong, there is a chance that in spite of his past health problems he will be offered a job. He ought to think twice--seriously--about taking, it, though, because it will not be what he hoped it would be, and more likely than not he will be unhappy (at best) in the position.

More Signs Miscellany

Lilly uses various properties of the sign when considering charts. For instance, if a man or a woman asks, "Will we ever have children?" (and, believe it or not, Lilly did answer questions like this, and seemed unafraid to deliver an unequivocal "No"), a barren sign like Virgo on the cusp of the 5th house of children could contribute to a negative answer.

Here is a list of some of the properties described by Lilly in Christian Astrology:

Masculine, Diurnal Signs:  Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius.
Feminine, Nocturnal Signs: Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces.
Regarding these distinctinctions, Lilly says:

The use whereof is this, That if you have a masculine Planet in a Masculine Sign, it imports him or her more manly; and so if a Masculine Planet be in a Feminine Sign, the man or woman is lesse couragious, &c.

Northern, or Boreal Signs:  Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Virgo
Sourthern, or Austral Signs: Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces

Double-bodies Signs:  Gemini, Pisces (Jones, drawing on James Wilson's A Complete Dictionary of Astrology, includes Virgo and Sagittarius.)

Bestial, Four-footed Signs:  Aries, Taurus, Leo, Sagittarius, Capricorn. (Jones says, "The last half of Sagittarius only.")
"Manly" or Humane Signs: Gemini, Virgo, Libra, Aquarius. (Jones includes the first half of Sagittarius.)
According to Lilly, if the Ascendant ruler is in a bestial sign, the querent will shows some characteristics of the animal represented by that sign. Conversely, if the significator is in a human sign, or if a human sign ascends, the querent will be more refined, and of "civil carriage."

Fruitful Signs:  Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Barren Signs: Gemini, Leo, Virgo

Mute Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, "the more if Mercury be in any of them, in conjunction, Square, or Opposition of Saturn." (Lilly 89)

Signs of Long Ascension: Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra,Scorpio, and Sagittarius (in the northern hemisphere)
Signs of Short Ascension: Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini
More about the significance of these in the next lesson.

End of Lesson 3