Interview with Astrologer Deborah Houlding (Part 1 of 3)
July 7, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
English astrologer Deborah Houlding will be presenting astrology classes in San Francisco this September. Deb is a well-known traditional astrologer (though she may eschew that label, as she explains in the interview), and her San Francisco classes teach astrology with hair on it. She calls it “forensic astrology,” as the methods reveal specific details about past events or specific persons. Deb is also the founder of the astrology website, Skyscript.
I talked to Deb last week about her upcoming workshop and her thoughts on astrology.
Nina Gryphon: You will be doing a workshop in the San Francisco Bay area in September 2008, focusing on ‘forensic horary’. What do you mean by ‘forensic horary’?
Deb Houlding: The workshop called ‘forensic horary’ concentrates on how we deal with what I call ‘the mystery charts’ – lost items, missing pets, thefts, abductions, and those situations where we have no idea what happened or who might have been involved. A lot of the emphasis is on how to discover the identity or appearance of someone essential to the question. My goal for the workshop is to help astrologers feel more confident about their approach to these charts, and to show them how to get a very good description about something or someone that is known, and then to successfully project that technique onto the unknown. The goal is to get astrologers looking forward to those charts instead of dreading them! It is a workshop with broad appeal because it is about clarifying some of the basics of horary astrology, whilst discussing methods that are de-emphasized in modern discussions of traditional techniques.
NG: Why did you decide to teach a workshop specifically about this aspect of horary astrology?
DH: On the surface, the notion of “forensic” horary is partly about having a dramatic, and intriguing title to the workshop, but ultimately, it conveys the principle of needing to break down, analyse and fully investigate the depth of meaning that is built into the planetary significators. Mostly, horary astrologers barely scratch the surface of the information they could get from the planetary significators, and this workshop shows that the key to discovering the meaning of these charts lies in understanding the symbolism as it relates to something that has already happened. I am always keen to stress that planetary signification is meaningful, that the selection of the planets used is never random, so getting every drop of reliable descriptive information that we can get from the main significators is essential. We see Lilly doing this in so many of his judgments; even though it was not necessary to the querent’s question. He will often tag a few comments about physical descriptions to the end of his judgements, as if he was constantly monitoring his notes and updating his knowledge. He sometimes goes into great detail, describing the persons involved, even though the physical description might not seem relevant to the querent’s concern.
Even though the physical or psychological description is not what the querent specifically asked about, it is still part of the question. The premise behind this is that everything in a horoscope is significant. So if Mars symbolizes the querent in a horary question, the person will be Martial in some way, in their psychological involvement, or in their appearance somehow.
NG: Can you talk about your approach to astrology? Whose methods do you use? William Lilly’s or someone else’s?
DH: William Lilly is the greatest influence on my astrology. I am constantly going through his books, and I am still finding things that I thought I understood, realizing that what I once thought is not what he had meant at all! Now, with Ben Dykes’s Bonatti translation in English, I’ve found it especially valuable to go through Bonatti and find passages that Lilly translated; and of course Bonatti himself was translating the passages out of yet older authors, such as Masha’allah, Haly or Sahl, even back to Dorotheus. So there is a long line of tradition behind many of the passages published in Lilly’s Christian Astrology, and scrutinizing this tradition is – I think – very helpful in terms of constantly re-evaluating my own understanding of traditional astrology and the symbolism of horary. But I do not exactly think of myself as a traditional astrologer, because all of us living here today are essentially modern people. I see myself as someone in the continuing tradition of astrology, but ultimately, none of us can get away from being a product of our times.
[Continue to Part 2 of the interview with Deborah Houlding.]