The Deeper Psychological Levels of Horary Astrology

Traditional astrology is erroneously assumed by some to be void of any psychological component; this is especially the case with horary astrology. The preconception being that horary astrology simply answers the question asked of the astrologer, predicting the outcome of a client’s fate without any sensitivity to their particular situation or feelings. This idea is easily refuted by even a cursory reading of William Lilly’s “Christian Astrology”.

William Lilly was a successful astrologer living in 17th century England and is widely acknowledged as being one of the greatest proponents of horary astrology to have lived. In the first book of his classic work: “Christian Astrology” he set down the basic principles and rules for astrological delineation. In his second book he puts these rules into practice, presenting his judgement on over 35 horary charts providing the reader with a gold mine of astrological nuggets. Here we can observe this great astrologer at work and are privy to the extent of depth and detail which he extracts from a horary chart.

The astrological rules of horary can be likened to the musical scales, arpeggios and technical exercises endlessly practiced by musicians. These technical exercises maybe integral to a musician’s craft, yet they are not what we hear when a musician is performing. At the point of performance it is the musician’s soul that speaks; and so it should be with the astrologer. Reading some of William Lilly’s judgement can be likened to witnessing a virtuoso’s performance, the depth and beauty of his skill leaves one in awe. Bending the rules Lilly illustrates his ability to dig deeper, beyond the fate evidenced of the chart, into the possibilities that are open to the client if they chose to make use of them in order to take an active role in shaping their destiny.

Horary is not only a means of “finding the cat” or getting a simple yes or no answer to your client’s queries. Horary is the tool that will most clearly guide your client to an understanding of their present situation and what possible path they can take. The issues troubling a client may be evident in their natal chart, but practical guidance is far more difficult to extract. This is when a horary chart can be of immense help.

Recently I had a client who present with a problem that she wanted answers to. This is a client who has been in therapy for a long period of time, with a soul based psychologist, trying to understand herself and her response to life’s challenges. She and her husband have also been in counselling for many years.  She came to me as an astrologer and asked me point blank “Can you see in my chart if my husband will change so that it is worth my staying in the marriage?”

Naturally this opened up a dialogue in order to discern exactly what the problem was. Pointing out that wanting another person to change was not a realistic way of dealing with problems in our life; she admitted her awareness of this and confessed that she had come to the end of her tetters and was at a point where she was quite prepared to leave the marriage. She also recognised that doing so would entail more than a break of her relationship with her husband; it would have far reaching effects, potentially destroy other relationships as well as see the shattering of a family.  She wasn’t sure she wanted to see the marriage dissolve, but felt so exhausted by the continually repeating problems that she doubted whether it was worth the effort to keep it together. After much discussion it turned out that she wanted to know whether the situation (her marriage) would change enough for it to be worthwhile for her to stick with it.

A horary was drawn up for the moment the question was clear to me, as I am the astrologer, the channel through which the stars have the ability to speak as I am conversant in their language. Over the years I have become aware of a strange sensation in my gut the moment when a question becomes clear. A gut feeling so to speak that heralds “the moment of Astrology”[1]. If I adhere to that moment the resulting charts appear to sing louder and clearer than others.


There are three important factors to consider in this chart; my client (the querent), her husband and the marriage. She would be signified by the ASC, the ASC ruler and the Moon, her husband by the 7th house and its ruler and the marriage by the 10th house and its ruler[2].

My client is signified by the ASC ruler Saturn in Virgo, the sign of Mercury, significator of the marriage in this chart and situated appropriately in the 10th house of the marriage indicating her principle concern. Saturn is currently peregrine, meaning he has no innate power and little control, but is placed in a strong angular house and is with Venus a benefic planet that is applying to conjunct him. Venus being the universal significator of relatonship further emphasises my client’s concern about the state of her marriage.

Saturn is in a partile sextile to a debilitated Mars conjunct the Moon, which he receives into his detriment; clearly describing to us my client’s anger at her husband and the situation she sees he has placed them in. Saturn is now at the beginning of his cycle (having recently conjunct the Sun) and so is increasing in light, he is also about to move into Libra the sign of his exaltation. Both are indications that my client’s significator will be gaining strength and in ability to act.

Normally we would also give her the Moon as a secondary significator, but here the Moon is the ruler of the 7th house and so signifies her husband. The Moon is in Cancer and is on the 8th house cusp partile conjunct fallen Mars and the South Node. The Moon currently in his own sign indicates that he is at present principally concerned about himself and his money (Moon rules his turned 2nd house of money). The five degree rule puts the Moon in the radical 8th house of “anguish of mind”[3]. The combinations of these factors describe an essentially honest man who is at present, in a bad place and keeping bad company. Being signified by the Moon would also suggest a man who is easily influenced by others. There is little happiness here and a lot of anger.

Being in the sign of Saturn’s detriment indicates that much of this anger is likely to be directed towards my client. Soon the Moon will be moving into Leo where he loses all power and control when he becomes peregrine. He is also losing light being in the last waning quarter of his cycle. This shows us that her husband is losing strength and heading towards a position of weakness.

Moon is applying to perfect a sextile aspect with Saturn, but first will conjunct Mars and carrying his light towards Saturn who is receiving the Moon into the sign of his detriment. So though there is an aspect formed and perfecting between the two there is not much agreement. The presence of Mars in this configuration shows the anger that is shared by both parties. Seeing as all of these aspects are already to the degree, but not quite perfected shows that this is the situation between the two as it stands now and things will very soon be changing as all are at the end of the sign.

Ultimately this question is about the marriage and whether the circumstances within it have the ability to change. Marriage as opposed to relationship is about a contract or agreement between two people. The ruler of the 10th house signifying the marriage[4] is Mercury in Libra. The marriage has recently under gone a shift described by Mercury’s recent ingress into Libra. Mercury is just under the Sun’s beams and will be following and getting closer to the Sun until it makes its superior conjunction at 12 Scorpio. We could interpret this as describing the marriage as becoming less visible or as having the truth of the marriage exposed. Mercury has recently had its inferior conjunction with the Sun (retrograde conjunction), and so is into the second half of its cycle.

It is interesting to note that the beginning of the sydonic cycle of Mercury (the superior conjunction) was at 21 Cancer[5]; very close to the Moon’s position. The inferior conjunction, being like the “full Mercury” point, the opposition point of greatest awareness occurred at 27 Virgo. My client’s significator is currently sitting exactly on that degree. We could say that she has a far greater objective perception of the state of their marriage than does her husband who maybe trying to hang on to the past, the old status quo which existed at the beginning of the marriage. This symbolic picture is given further weight by the Moon’s conjunction to the South Node.

When Mercury makes his superior conjunction with the Sun at 12 Scorpio heralding the beginning of a new cycle, Saturn will have moved into Libra, sign of his exaltation where he will stay till Oct 2012, (though he comes very close to his ingress into Scorpio in February 2012). Taking the symbolic time of the progressed Moon as equal to that of transiting Saturn, then the Moon will remain powerless in Leo till February 2012.

It was at this point that my client revealed to me some further information about the issues affecting the marriage. The issues principally revolved around money and her husband’s business dealings which were constantly getting them into problems that threatened the family’s financial security, though he has a very strong capacity of generating income. It turned out that the authorities were investigating him and that there was a very strong possibility that he would be barred from running a company or having financial control of a business for a period of two years. One of the proposed solutions would be for her to take financial control of the business. She would have the power and for the first time in their married life she would be at the forefront of their financial affairs.

The Part of Fortune is in Libra, ruled by Venus who is applying to conjunct Saturn in just over 1 and half degrees. Venus also rules the 11th house which could be seen as the 2nd from the 10th in other words the house of the marriage’s money. This makes sense as money which is so much part of the problem and therefore this question. Venus is intimately connected to both Saturn and the Moon, significators of my client and her husband as well as being in mutual reception with Mercury significator of the marriage.

The 11th house can also reveal to us the hopes and wishes of the querent. Ruled by Venus the planet of conciliation and with the presence of the Sun in Libra on its cusp shines a light on the truth that she is dearly hoping that the situation will change enough for her to reconcile the marriage and save her family as well as her sanity. Despite the presence of Mars, the aspect between the Moon and Saturn is a sextile indicating that there is possibility for cooperation despite the conflict.

This horary chart was able to show my client the increase in power that she had already been feeling but was loathed to fully trust. Seeing her husband’s coming worsening state confirmed that he was reaching the bottom of a cycle and powers beyond him would have to take control. The timing indicated in this chart fit in with the circumstances revealed to me only halfway through the session. My client left with a renewed sense of focus and confidence, satisfied that the possible outcome to their current predicament would allow changes in the marriage which could benefit all.


William Lilly “Christian Astrology (Book 1 and 2): An Introduction to Astrology. The Resolution of All Manner of Question” written in 1647

Deborah Houlding “The Houses: Temples of the Sky” The Wessex Astrologer 2006

Geoffrey Cornelius “The Moment of Astrology” The Wessex Astrologer 2003


[1]See “The Moment of Astrology; Origins in Divination” by Geoffrey Cornelius published in 2003 by Wessex Astrologers Ltd

[2] Traditionally the ancients saw the 10th house as the house of marriage as this was associated with ones status in the world and the 7th house being the house of the marriage partner. In some circumstances we could use the 7th house as signifying the marriage, but in light of this question we needed to distinguish between her husband and the marriage, so the 10th house was a logical choice, especially as my client’s attitude to the situation was far more rational and concerned with the practical ramifications of a break up rather than being emotional driven.

[3] William Lilly “Christian Astrology” Volume I, Chapter VII, page 54

[4] See Deborah Houlding “The Houses, Temples of the Sky” page 85, published in 2006 by Wessex Astrologer Ltd.

[5] There is some debate as to when the inner planets Mercury and Venus’s cycles begin. The superior conjunction occurs when the planets are on the other side of the Sun and in direct motion, while the inferior conjunction occurs when the planets are between the Sun and Earth and in retrograde motion. Dane Rudyard set the inferior conjunction as the beginning of the cycle and this has been widely accepted since. The evidence from traditional sources refutes this and from my perspective it seems illogical to have a cycle begin when the planet is going backwards. Deborah Houlding has an article appearing in the Jan/Feb 2010 Mountain Astrologer about this very issue.

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