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Posted Under Astrology

An Introduction to Horary Astrology

Astrological Charts

People are always misplacing things. One of the more common questions posed to astrologers has to do with finding lost objects or locating missing persons. Such an interest is not new; the literature on using astrology to find lost objects and missing people dates back a couple of millennia!

In my book, Horary Astrology, you will learn the method of William Lilly, a seventeenth-century British astrloger who carefully studied all the astrological texts available to him at the time, including translations of the works of the great medieval Arabic and Persian astrologers of the Hellenistic tradition as well as those of notable European astrologers such as Guido Bonatti. (For readers interested in the ancient origins of Lilly's ideas, I recommend Works of Sahl & Masha'allah, translated by Benjamin N. Dykes [2008]). Lilly tested and synthesized the horary principles he learned from the "ancients" into a coherent system, which he published in his 1647 volume Christian Astrology.

Lilly's greatness lies in the fact that, being an accomplished astrologer, he tested each technique against hundreds of charts in his busy practice, keeping only those methods that produced reliable results. No astrologer has 100 percent accuracy, but Lilly was correct enough of the time to make quite a good living from his satisfied clients.

In studying Lilly, we can feel confident that we are learning a system that has been verified in hundreds, if not thousands, of horary questions of real people. A caveat to keep in mind, however, is that in the seventeenth century, Lilly used only the seven visible planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto had not yet been discovered), the classical planetary rulerships of signs (Mars for Scorpio, Saturn for Aquarius, Jupiter for Pisces), the mean nodes rather than the true nodes of the Moon, and Regiomontanus houses.

A note about Regiomontanus houses is in order. This house system was advocated by Johannes Müller (1436–1476), a mathematician and astrologer of the German Renaissance whose Latin name was Regiomontanus. During the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, Claudius Ptolemy was revered as one of the great thinkers of antiquity. His writings on astronomy, astrology, geography, etc., were considered extremely authoritative, almost sacrosanct, sources of knowledge. Aware of the many quadrant house systems available (e.g., Porphyry, Alcabitius, Campanus), Johannes Müller proposed a method of dividing the zodiac into houses based on equal divisions of the Earth's equator, which he argued was consistent with how the great Ptolemy himself would have done it. In the belief that Regieomontanus had correctly represented Ptolemy's ideas, European astrologers of that period widely adoped Regiomontanus houses as their standard of practice. The seventeenth-century French astrologer Morin de Villefranche, for example, regarded Regiomontanus houses as the most rational house system ever invented.

Lilly, in England, took for granted that Regiomontanus was the house system most consistent with the teachings of Ptolemy, one of the founders of Western astrology. As a result of this unquestioned presupposition, Lilly cast all his charts with Regiomontanus houses and test all the "rules" of horary against Regiomontanus house cusps. Thus, the empirical validity of Lilly's techniques is grounded in the use of Regiomontanus houses to identify signifiers in a horary chart. We will never know how Lilly's methods might have differed had he experimented with other house systems. Because Horary Astrology is based on Lilly's findings, most of the charts it contains are cast with Regiomontanus houses, and any exceptions are noted in the text.

As an aside, I should mention that when British astrologers discovered the writings of Placidus in the late 1600s, they realized that Regiomontanus was mistaken in his understanding of Ptolemy's ideas and decided to adopt Placidus houses as their standard. The Catholic hierarchy was so confounded by the novel ideas of the brilliant monk Placidus that the Church placed his writings on the Index of Forbidden Books in all the Catholic countries of Europe. In contrast, awed by the genius of Placidus, astrologers in Protestant England in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries made Placidus the go-to system of house division in the English-speaking world. As a result, books of tables of Regiomontanus houses were deliberately replaced with those of Placidus.

Nowadays there is a resurgence of interest in Whole Sign houses, which eliminate the use of the quadrant house cusps that are essential to Lilly's method of doing horary. Morin states that the beginning, or cusp, of a quadrant house is the most powerful or robust point of that house: "domus principium esse punctum ipsius domus robustissimum" (Morin, Astrologia Gallica, Book 17, 2008, chap. 2). Some astrologers combine the interpretation of Whole Sign houses with quadrant houses when reading a chart. In the Jyotish tradition, for example, the school of Ernst Wilhelm interprets the quadrant house cusps as sensitive points within the whole signs. As in Hellenistic astrology, the whole signs are "places" numbered in order from the ascendant sign as number one or the First Place. Each "place" (zodiac sign) has a specific set of significations that have reference to the Ascendant, a symbol for the native. Astrologer Ryan Kurczak of the Ernst Wilhelm school argues that the whole sign "places" represent our relationship to the aspect of our life symbolized by the numbered place, aka whole sign house (Kurczak 2014).

The cusps of the quadrant houses, Kurczak argues, symbolize concrete areas of life. The 4th Place would show us how we relate to our mother (if we take the 4th to be the house of the mother), whereas the 4th cusp would represent the concrete embodient of the mother. Thus, difficult planets in the 4th whole sign place can show problems in the native's relationship with the mother, but the 4th quadrant house cusp may be in an adjaent sign with a benefic planet, so that the mother herself is quite fortunate and, as a person, displays the quality of the sign in which the 4th cusp is placed.

With this historical context in mind, I recommend that readers who are first learning Lilly's method stick with his use of Regiomontanus houses, against which he tested the ancient "rules" of horary. After gaining experience with the technique, it would then makes sense to test Lilly's horary method with other house systems to see what, if any, difference it makes. Keep accurate records and an open mind, and after doing a few hundred horaries, you will be able to decide which house system best suits your practice.

That said, we must also keep in mind that horary astrology is a system of divination. In other words, if we and our clients are sincere in asking about a pressing personal concern, we can rely on the universe to give us the appropriate symbols needed to provide the answer. Such symbols include the rulers of the house cusps of a horary chart, which are dependent on the house system utilized. In fact, house cusps play such an important role in horary that a good part of Horary Astrology is devoted to fleshing out the various significations of the twelve houses. Because the assignment of significations to houses has evolved over many centuries, not all astrologeres will agreen on certain specific assignments. It will be up to the reader the reader to test what I have written against their own experience and to correct, amend, or modify the house assignments in the book accordingly.

Why would a horoscope cast for the moment a query about a lost object becomes clear in the mind of the astrologer provide a road map to finding it? Astrologer C.C. Zain (aka Elbert Benjamine, born Benjamin Parker Williams, 1910–1950) suggests that the unconscious mind of the individual resonates with the current relationships among the heavenly planets: "When the planets reach the proper positions in the case of one who is unconsciously pondering a question, energy of sufficient intensity then becomes available to give the image distinct objective form" (Zain 1969,110). By "image," Zain means that "the planets and signs are so situated that they correspond to the various elements of the matter" (Zain 1969, 111). Thus, according to Zain, a horary chart depicts three sympathetically related levels of reality related to a question:

  • The positions of the zodiacal signs and planets (a map of the heavens) based on when and where the astrologer understands the horary question and casts the chart.
  • An astrologically symbolic representation of the most activemental factors in the mind of the querent at the time of the question. The implication of Zain's hypothesis is that the configuration of the heavens at the moment of the question brings certain factors in the birth chart to the forefront of the querent's mind. Because we often misplace things when we are stressed or emotional preoccupied, this mental level of symbolization may also reveal significant psychological issues currently confronting the querent.
  • An astrologically symbolic representation of the most active external factors in the ongoing circumstances surrounding the querent.

Zain's explanation provides a theoretical basis for the oft-quoted "consideration before judgment" that a horary chart is "radical" (valid) and therefore fit to be judged if the ruler of the planetary hour at the moment of the question also rules the Ascendant or the sign of its triplicity (Fire, Air, Earth, Water), or else that the hour ruler be of the same nature as the Ascendant ruler—hot and dry, cold and moist, etc. From Zain's point of view, we might argue that the lord of the planetary hour at the moment of the question stimulates certain factors in the birth chart (i.e., the natal houses that the lord of the hour rules and occupies, and the natal planets that the hour ruler aspects) and thus highlights in the querent's mind key issues related to these factors. The outcome of this process is the horary question.

The lord of the hour thus serves as a bridge between the promise of the birth chart and the issues that preoccupy the querent's mind at the time of the query. For example, if Mercury were the planetary hour of the horary chart, then the winged planet would serve as the link between the significations of Mercury in the birth chart and the querent's current concerns. In other words, Mercury as current hour lord would "activate" its natal house rulerships, placement, and aspects and give them prominence in the querent's mind, thereby prompting the related horary question.

In Horary Astrology, I discuss a wide variety of horary charts, some from the historical literature but most from contemporary situations. Whenever possible, I have attempted to quote relevant literature and to explain any archaic wording in modern language. As a result, this volume can serve as both a ready reference and a learning tool with numerous case examples. To make best use of the book, I encourage students first to attempt to locate any lost objects or missing persons by doing their own interpretation of a chart and only then to check their analysis against my delineation and the final outcome. Don't take my comments as the final word. Some readers will no doubt see symbolic connections that I missed or will come up with their own ingenious ways of getting to the correct solution.

With all horary inquiries, the querent must be sincere in asking a question (that he or she has been unable to resolve using available resources) and must have a pressing need to know the answer. In a sense, asking a horary question is a kind of ast resort when other efforts to resolve the matter have failed. Insincere and disingenuous queries, or those asked out of impatience, idle curiosity, or without the querent expending any genuine personal effort to find the answer, will produce meaningless charts that the astrologer should not waste time trying to interpret.

Excerpted from Horary Astrology, by Anthony Louis.

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About Anthony Louis

Anthony Louis (Conn.) is a physician and psychiatrist. Astrology has been his avocation for more than 30 years and he has authored five books on the topic. He has lectured internationally on horary astrology and has ...

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