Horary Astrology of Illness: When Recover? Part 2

January 21, 2015 by  

Horary astrology of illness: excising the stone of folly by Pieter Huys.

Excising the Stone of Folly by Pieter Huys. Only the most cutting edge treatment for your cold here at Gryphon Astrology.

The horary astrology of illness is complex and requires a fairly subtle level of interpretation. Part 1 of this post summarized essential traditional horary techniques for determining the duration of an illness. Now I will share my own horary question on illness that prompted this line of research in the first place, and apply the techniques to see what information we can extract. I am somewhat embarrassed to share such a trivial horary (though it has been a gnarly cold), but hope it will be useful to readers who want to try their hand at applying the theory while lacking a convenient disease.

The horary chart is below:

Horary: When get better from cold?

When will I recover from this cold?


Expect a change in 3.5 days, so Tuesday, January 20, though not necessarily an improvement [NG: True; the cold symptoms are waning as of 1/20, now just fatigue and chills. Delightful.]. A more favorable turn of events may occur on Thursday, January 22. The cold is likely an exacerbation of an existing chronic state of a choleric/sanguine nature, and may in fact be the return of old symptoms brought about by my naturopathic remedy.

Showing Our Horary Work

In my experience, using horary astrology for illness related questions poses a special challenge, because a really good analysis of any chart requires both horary skill and subject matter understanding. I am not a health practitioner (the public should count itself lucky), and therefore lack some of the traditional vocabulary of disease and treatment. That said, we should celebrate what we can do, and determining the course of the disease is well within our powers.

First, the sources tell us to analyze three key factors; the Ascendant and its ruler (these represent the querent), the Moon, and the sixth house and its ruler, which describe the disease.

The Ascendant is fixed, one indication of a long-lasting disease. Jupiter in Leo is in its triplicity and retrograde, and conjoins the ascending degree. Recall Lilly’s comment on pages 251-2 of Christian Astrology: the involvement of a retrograde benefic suggests a slow recovery with the possibility of a relapse. I suggest this is especially true when the benefic is in a fixed sign. My suspicion, based on previous episodes, is that this illness is a flare-up of a long-standing sanguine/choleric imbalance, as indicated by Jupiter. A retrograde benefic can also be the temporary return of old symptoms as part of a long healing process.

Venus on the seventh house cusp applies to oppose Jupiter in about 3.5 degrees, and he receives her into his triplicity and term. She rules the tenth house of remedies/treatment, suggesting a possible benefit from medicine, but with difficulty and slowness (opposition between two benefics from fixed signs). Venus brings old Jovial symptoms about through the remedy.

The Sun rules the Ascendant and is in the sixth house, at 26.5 degrees of Capricorn. A planet placed in its decan/face suggests that the situation is not great, but hardly desperate. It is written that a planet in its own face is like a man on his own threshold; not really honored in his house, but not homeless. The Sun in Capricorn is a fair picture of a cold; an ordinarily hot and dry planet finds itself in the incompatible, cold/dry sign ruled by the Sun’s enemy, Saturn. The Sun is in the last few degrees of its sign; it will shortly move into the hot and moist sign of Aquarius where the Sun is in its detriment. Lilly says that the imminent change of sign indicates that the disease will improve or alter in so many degrees as remain in the sign. Here, 3.5 degrees could be most likely days or weeks. I chose days, since a cold is typically measured in days or weeks, and the Sun is in a fast-moving cardinal sign (CA 267-8).

Let’s now apply our astrological microscope to the disease itself, indicated by the sixth house and its ruler. A cardinal sign on the sixth house cusp indicates a fast-moving disease (CA 248) that is cold and dry (earth sign). Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which typically produces lingering illnesses, though this is somewhat modified by Saturn’s oriental position, very swift motion (over 5’ a day right now), and mutable sign. So, it’s a nasty cold, but not as lingering as it could be.

The Sun applies to sextile Saturn, and is received by Saturn into his domicile. The reception will continue as the Sun moves into Aquarius, since Aquarius is also ruled by Saturn. Reception is especially helpful when a significator aspects a malefic, because it makes the malefic abate its malice. The Sun, in aspecting Saturn, will escape Saturn’s malign influence because it is being received into Saturn’s domicile like an honored guest into a mafioso’s lair. There might be a crisis in the disease when the aspect is exact, on Thursday, January 22.

The Moon is in a mutable sign, suggesting a medium duration to the illness; it won’t be over very quickly, but neither will it stick around for eternity. The Moon’s last aspect was a square to Mars, suggesting I caught the illness while traveling. In traditional thought, Mars is one of the planets of travel. Mars rules the ninth house and is placed in the seventh house of “over there.” The Moon applies to sextile Mercury and Venus, followed by a trine to Jupiter. This indicates recourse to a remedy (sextile to Venus) and benefit from it (Moon’s received trine to Jupiter). On Saturday, I took some homeopathic Phosphorus, and have had a dramatic increase in energy ever since.

One more relevant point: William Lilly has a nice section in Christian Astrology on applying the principles of horary astrology to illness. Page 280 indicates the nature of the disease when shown by the Moon in Sagittarius conjunct, square, or opposite Mars:

“I daily find by experience, the sick party his Blood is overheated by some inordinate exercise, that he burns extremely, sometimes the malignancy of the pestilent Fever is such, he is twice or thrice let Blood [NG: Did not do that yet!]; they are besides many times offended with the Hand and Foot-gout [NG: Not yet], or Itches or breaking out [NG: Not that either], and sometimes with sore Throats [NG: Yes to that], and at other times sharp Rheums offend their Eyes.”

Lilly’s analysis sums it up; I had spent much time walking outside in cold and damp Portland (Mars in a cold/wet sign) last weekend and got a cold/sore throat. Not bad for a 400-year-old, William Lilly!

Update (Jan 29, 2015):

The Sun moving into Aquarius removed some of the most acute symptoms of the cold, but I still was tired and got intermittent chills/fevers. The sign change didn’t produce the biggest change. It wasn’t until the evening of January 22, as symbolized by the Sun sextile Saturn (Sun being received by Saturn, so creating a harmonious relationship with The Great Malefic) that I first felt normal. It’s been a big improvement ever since.

Traditional Astrology Handbook: How to Ask Horary Questions

March 12, 2014 by  

Excommunication of Robert the Pious by Jean-Paul Laurens

Excommunication of Robert the Pious by Jean-Paul Laurens
[this is what happens when you don’t consider your horary question for a sufficient length of time]

Since June 2013, I have been writing a book-length commentary on Guido Bonatti’s 146 Considerations.  This is not as dry as it sounds; my work is an astrological textbook with lots of examples, using the Considerations as a structure to convey astrological concepts in a systematic, organized manner that is also fun and relevant to modern readers. Now, on its face, Considerations is a long list of astrological guidelines, rules, and aphorisms written in the 13th century. It is well-known among astrologers even today, but mostly as a collection of handy pointers rather than something more substantial. This sells the Considerations far short of the complete astrological study guide that it really is. Here is a better description, from my introduction:

The Considerations are actually much more than Bonatti’s random brain droppings: they are a syllabus for a complete traditional astrological education, but, in the traditional manner, the teacher does not spoon-feed the student much. Until now, to get the full benefit of the wisdom in the Considerations, the student had to do significant additional research to locate the relevant reference sources. Often, Bonatti only names a concept and then moves on, leaving to us the work of locating his sources. My book collects and interprets key sources for the reader, so that it completely fills in Bonatti’s telegraphic outline. If Considerations is the course syllabus, my book is the textbook for an intermediate or advanced astrologer who wants to enrich her technique and improve her results.

I will be posting occasional excerpts from the book on the blog. Today’s excerpt is from the 2nd Consideration: How to Ask a [Horary] Question. Asking horary questions the right way is key to obtaining a clear answer.  If one’s mind is unfocused, the chart for the question will reflect that.  From my experience, this advice holds even when using  other divinatory means to ask questions, such as the Tarot cards, I Ching, geomancy, or dream incubation.  Bonatti provides a two-step approach to ensuring one asks horary questions (or any divinatory questions) in the proper way:

1. Pray to God [I would add that this means any personally meaningful spiritual entity/concept] to receive the truth
2. Hold the question in mind for at least a day and a night before going to the astrologer (or casting one’s own horoscope), “not touched by just any motion of the mind (as sometimes many impertinent people are wont to do, as is said elsewhere).” (p. 265, Bonatti, Treatise 5 of the Book of Astronomy, 146 Considerations, trans. Benjamin Dykes) It is also acceptable to ask questions immediately that arise out of suddden events, where waiting 24 hours is not practical.

My commentary on the 24-hour waiting period, from the “2nd Consideration” chapter:

The 24-hour minimum is a useful requirement, because it allows the querent to live with the question while awake as well as asleep, allowing both the conscious and unconscious to work on the matter. Very often, the querent will end up with a slightly different question at the end of the incubation period. The extended incubation fosters active problem-solving as it prods the querent out of the realm of vagueness into a deeper understanding of her own motives. The horary does not only reflect one’s situation, but also the querent as actor in her own life. The clarity of the querent’s mind and intention is directly related to the clarity of the resulting horoscope.

The recommendation for waiting 24 hours is helpful especially for astrologers and horary students, since the temptation to cast charts at whim is always there. Unless there is a genuine emergency (and those are thankfully rare), it is best to wait and turn the horary question in one’s mind for a while. Very often, one finds that there is no need for a chart; the answer is right in front of one’s face. The clarity of the horoscope goes up significantly when the querent poses a well-considered question.

Sometimes, it is challenging to wait the necessary 24 hours, and I am the first to admit that putting this kind of restriction in place was difficult at first, given that I like answers fast.  That said, it’s improved the quality of the readings I do for myself immeasurably, whether using horary astrology or other means of divination.

The English astrologer William Lilly, who, along with his student, Henry Coley, translated (and heavily edited) the Considerations into English, had this comment on Bonatti’s recommended horary question process:

Those that take this sober course [the process recommended by Bonatti], shall find the truth in what they enquire after; but whosoever do otherwise, deceive both themselves and the artist; for a foolish Querent may cause a wise Respondent to err, which brings a scandal upon Art amongst inconsiderable people, whereas the Astrologer is not blameable, but the ignorant silly Querent.

Lessons in Horary Astrology: Lesson 2 – Planets: Your Tools

July 8, 2012 by  

When I was learning horary, I wish that someone had explained to me the basics of planetary motion and average speed.   The reason that this is important is that horary is 90% about planetary motion.  Think about that for a moment.  Our world down here is constantly changing; the way that this is symbolized in the sky is by the ever-changing state of the planets.  Knowing where the planets are going and where they have been is key to producing accurate judgments.

Pop quiz: Let’s say that I want to know whether I will get that job I interviewed for last week.  Eager to find out whether I get the job, I cast a horary. In our chart, I am represented by the Moon, while the job is represented by Mars.  We want to see a connection between the Moon and Mars to indicate that I get the job.  Our horary shows the Moon at 10 degrees Taurus trine Mars at 8 degrees Virgo.  All other things being equal, do I get the job?

No, I don’t.  Why not?  The Moon is separating from Mars, showing the job and I are leaving each other, rather than getting closer.  Now, if you know average planetary speeds, you know that the Moon’s speed is many times higher than that of Mars, and the Moon must therefore have overtaken Mars, rather than vice versa.  The Moon moves 12 degrees per day on average, while Mars moves about only about 1/2 of a degree per day.  The Moon has already left Mars behind.

To really be a hit at parties, commit this table to memory:

Average Daily Motions of the Planets, from fastest to slowest***

Moon: 13 deg 10 mins

Mercury: 0 deg 59 mins

Venus: 0 deg 59 mins

Sun: 0 deg 59 mins

Mars: 0 deg 31 mins

Jupiter: 0 deg 05 mins

Saturn: 0 deg 02 mins

***Important caveat: the planets are rarely moving at average speeds, so always check your ephemeris/software.  For example, today, July 7th, 2012, the planets’ speeds are as follows:

Moon: 13 deg 14 mins per day, Mercury: 0 deg 33 min; Venus: 0 deg 20 min, Sun: 0 deg 57 min, Mars 0 deg 32 min, Jupiter 0 deg 12 mins, Saturn 0 deg 01 min.

Now, given today’s actual planetary speeds, we have Mars at 2 Libra trine Venus at 9 Gemini.  Are the planets applying or separating?  Applying, because Venus is so slow right now, that Mars is (very slowly) approaching Venus.  Still, you should check your ephemeris to find out if Mars ever does catch up.  Venus is gaining speed, so it may be they never form the anticipated trine.

So, why does this matter?  Oh, only because it determines the answer to nearly all of our questions.  Let’s say that I interviewed for yet another job yesterday, and cast a horary this morning, July 7th, to see if I get this job.  If I am Mars, and the job is Venus, do I get the job?  Alas, not.  We see the promising Mars-Venus trine.  Looking in the ephemeris, however, we see that Venus rapidly gains speed in the coming days and pulls away from Mars.  Symbolically, this can show a job situation that was promising (seemingly applying Mars-Venus trine), that ends up not working out (Venus eventually pulls away before completing the anticipated aspect).

Horary Astrology: Do Invalid Questions Exist?

May 1, 2012 by  

Note: A reader asked me recently whether a horary question about someone I do not personally know (i.e. Madeleine McCann) is valid.  I am not sure where the concept of some questions being invalid came from, as it does not appear in traditional literature; I assume it arose at some point in the 20th century.  Below are some thoughts on this issue. 

Let’s unpack what you mean by “valid.”  Does an invalid question mean that the answer will sometimes or always be incorrect if people ask a certain type of question?  I’ll assume that is what you meant.
Now, let’s take the logic a little further; let’s assume that hundreds of horary astrologers not connected to the McCann situation have asked “Is Madeleine still alive?”  For the sake of argument, let’s posit she is still alive.  Do we really think that all those charts came up with “no” as an answer?   That seems unlikely, so we can assume that questions asked by querents unconnected with the matter will at least sometimes lead to correct answers.  But when?  Does that mean astrology worked at some of those times but not at other times?  That does not seem right.
Does astrology stop working when we ask certain types of questions?  If “as above so below” is true – and Hermes Trismegistus assures us that “true without falsehood, certain, most certain” – then the stars should always reflect reality here on earth without exception.   I have gotten accurate results to questions about situations in the news that interest me, so these questions are clearly valid at least some of the time.
This raises a second question: Even if there really are valid/invalid questions, how far removed from a situation do we have to be for a question to be valid, and who decides where the line is drawn?   Immediate family to the McCanns?  Neighbors who sometimes saw Madeleine?  Friends?  How about acquaintances of the family?  Family of friends of the McCanns?  Any line that we draw between valid and invalid questions must be arbitrary, and not supported by traditional literature to my knowledge.
Why is it insufficient that this is a topic that affects me emotionally?  Presumably, Madeleine’s parents, would be mainly motivated to ask out of their emotional involvement with their daughter.  Is their question invalid?  Or are we letting post-Enlightenment materialism creep in by assuming that there must be a physical connection between us to have a valid question?  It’s well proven scientifically that emotions affect our bodies, so whether little Madeleine lives or dies does, in fact, impact me more immediately than we think.  The only requirement is that we care at least a tiny bit about what happened to this little girl.
I have recently become very conscious of the fact – and this is not about you at all – is that in all areas of life, there are people who set themselves up as authorities who are eager to tell us what is and is not possible and we are very eager to take their word for it.  The Buddha said: “One is one’s own refuge, who else could be the refuge?”  Also, “be a light unto yourselves.”  We cannot take statements of possibility for granted, but rather, let us do the actual hard work to test assumptions.  What is our reward?  The truth, the only thing worth striving for.

Astrology of Missing People: Is Madeleine McCann Still Alive?

April 25, 2012 by  

Children Playing on the Beach

Faithful readers of the Gryphon Astrology blog have read my 2007 post about little Madeleine McCann who vanished without a trace from her parents’ vacation apartment in Portugal, on May 3, 2007.  Recently, Scotland Yard stated they have evidence that Madeleine is still alive and they are investigating this line of inquiry.  Perhaps they read this blog!  In 2007, I wrote that the little girl is most likely alive.

As this is an emotional topic for me (and many readers), I impulsively cast a horary chart when I learned of Scotland Yard’s announcement, asking “Is Madeleine McCann alive?”  The chart is below:

Madeleine McCann Astrology Chart

Short answer: Yes, Madeleine is still alive.  There is a good possibility she will be found.

Long answer:  This is clearly a question about children; we have a Mercury-ruled sign rising, Gemini.  Mercury rules young children, especially those between 4-10.  We also have the Moon and Venus on the Ascendant, so further evidence that this is about a little girl.  Madeleine is represented by the 1st house (William Lilly assigned missing persons we don’t personally know to the 1st house), its ruler, and planets in it.  Any past connection to planets associated with the eighth house would indicate death.

Mercury, ruler of the 1st house, is in the auspicious 11th house, which, according to Lilly, means the person is still alive, however many reports there are of their death.

Saturn rules the 8th house of death in this chart; there is no past connection between Saturn and Madeleine’s planets (Mercury, Venus, or the Moon).  Lilly also says to watch out for oppositions between these planets, which we fortunately do not see here.

Now, the Moon does apply to a trine of Saturn, translating the light of Venus to Saturn.  However, we are optimistic that Madeleine is not in danger.  Saturn is in the 5th house, which is not malefic, and having Venus on the Ascendant is highly protective for the little girl.  Interestingly, Venus will not trine Saturn anytime soon; she will go retrograde a hair before the aspect perfects.

We do see that the Moon has separated from Venus, ruler of the 12th house, which means a past imprisonment or fear of imprisonment.  But interestingly, we do see Mercury and Venus applying to a sextile, and are cautiously optimistic that this brings some news of Madeleine.  This aspect perfects on May 4th, William Lilly says to look at when the ruler of the 11th (Mars) and the ruler of the Ascendant (Mercury) come into aspect to determine when we hear about the missing person.  Mercury trines Mars on the 13th of May.   Let us hope we hear about Madeleine on one of these dates.

Horary Astrology Reading: Is the Vanished Air France Flight Okay?

June 1, 2009 by  

Ship in a Storm. Astrology Reading on Air France flight.

I read about the Air France flight that disappeared over the Atlantic this morning, and my immediate thought was: “Are the Air France plane and its passengers okay?” I am sure that being an optimist is somewhat laughable in the situation, but I do think that good things can happen, and perhaps the passengers and crew escaped the worst.  I cast a horary chart for my question, below, because I genuinely want to know what became of the Air France flight.

5:49 am, June 1, 2009, San Francisco, California

I used William Lilly’s horary criteria from Chapter 26 of Christian Astrology: “Of a Ship, and Whatever Are in Her, Her Safety or Destruction.” This should apply to more modern conveyances as well, and an airplane would certainly be very similar to a ship in this situation.

As I discussed elsewhere, for horary questions that don’t directly concern me, I like to doublecheck the radicality of the question, and make sure that it is appropriate. Here, we have a horary question about transportation by air, with Mercury ruling the hour, and Gemini rises, so because of the planet-sign agreement, we have a very radical horoscope.

  • Because in this horary question, I identify with the flight and the people on it, and am concerned for their well-being, we must give the plane the Ascendant, its ruler, and the Moon.
  • Mercury is in its second station in the 12th house in Taurus, on the malefic fixed star Algol.
  • The Moon is just inside the fifth house in Virgo, within orb of a trine to Sun in Gemini. Its last aspect was a trine to Mercury.
  • The Ascendant is with the fixed star Aldebaran, which is of the nature of Mars and therefore malefic. The Sun is just inside the first house, and therefore will be important to our judgment. It rules the fourth house.

Lilly says that if we find out the Lord of the Ascendant in the eighth house, in any “ill configuration” with Lord 8, 12, 4, 6, or the Moon combust or under the Earth, the ship is lost and the men drowned, unless there is mutual reception. If there is reception, the ship was wrecked, but some of the men escaped.

Here, Mercury is in the 12th house, which is bad, and it is square Jupiter, ruler of the seventh and 11th houses, and it is also trine Saturn. The connection to Jupiter might indicate that some hope still remains, but more likely it might indicate that the plane had encountered some winds, because Jupiter is in the 10th house in an air sign.. The trine to Saturn in the fourth house, which is particularly malevolent in these types of questions, is rather disconcerting. Mercury receives Saturn by domicile and exaltation, but what we really care about is whether Mercury is received by Saturn, and being at 22 Taurus, it is not. With no reception, Saturn will not spare Mercury, and therefore, the Air France plane is not in good shape. Mercury is essentially motionless in second station, and in a fixed sign, indicating that this plane is not going anywhere.

The Moon under the Earth is a bad sign, and the fact that it had been void of course shows that no news had been available from the plane. The Sun is kind of a secondary significator in this chart, because it is placed in the first house. It, too, aspects Saturn, but by a square. Neither of them receives the other, which makes the situation serious.

The fixed stars in this chart look pretty grim, with Mercury on Algol and Aldebaran rising.

Lilly has a handy chart of parts of the ship assigned to the different astrological signs, and since we see Saturn in aspect to the Ascendant, the Sun, and Mercury; essentially all of our main significators, we can see that it is the “belly” of the plane that will have been affected, as that is the part of the ship associated with Virgo. It could be that the plane smacked down on the ground or water and broke from the bottom.

The Moon will aspect the Sun in about 13°, indicating that some news will be heard of the Air France plane in 13 hours or days from this chart (which was cast 6 AM Pacific time on June 1).

This is one of the charts where I sincerely hope I am wrong, but the testimonies look pretty serious indeed.

Horary Astrology Reading: Is the Talking Fish Story True?

May 25, 2009 by  

Horary Astrology: Is the Talking Fish Story True?

There was a talking fish in a New York market a few years ago, issuing warnings in Hebrew to repent because the end is near. Many people interpreted it as an ill omen for the then-impending Iraq war. I find omens fascinating, but most of them verge on the ridiculous (yes, I speak of the grilled cheese Virgin Mary). This seemed just odd enough to warrant an astrological inquiry. After reading about the talking carp, I immediately wondered whether the story was true; the Guardian article mentions that it could have been a practical joke, but I had my doubts. So, I cast a horary chart, asking “Is the talking fish story true?

12:44 pm, May 1, 2009, 37N25 122W08

Is the Horoscope Valid?

First, I checked the horoscope for radicality, the indication that the question was asked properly and not out of idle curiosity. Because this is not a story which involves me personally, I wanted to make sure that the chart was solid, and that the heavens were on board with this question, as it were.

The ruler of the hour is Mars, which is of the same nature as the rising sign, Leo. Both are hot and dry, and therefore the chart is radical. Moreover, Mars is in its own domicile in Aries, placed in the ninth house of religion and God. As is often the case with Mars, the lesser malefic, the story does not end well for either the butcher, who, in attempting to kill the fish, sliced into his own thumb and had to be hospitalized, nor for the carp, which was eventually chopped up into gefilte fish. If it was an omen presaging a war in distant lands, then Mars in the ninth house would take on another layer of significance.

Find the Fish

The carp is symbolized by the Moon, which rules all fish; Al-Biruni says that the Sun rules all large fish, and carp definitely counts as a large fish. Moreover, the Moon is in the terms of Mercury, so it is a large fish endowed with the gift of speech. Note that the Moon and the Sun are in mutual reception by major dignity; it is as though the fish had been suddenly enlightened, the heavens parted, and it spoke. The Sun, of course, represents divine inspiration.

But Did the Fish Really Speak?

William Lilly, in his Christian Astrology (p.192-194), has a few pointers on determining whether a rumor is true. Our horoscope, amazingly, hits all of the points mentioned by Lilly:

  • Lilly says that the Moon in the Ascendant means the rumor is true; here, we have the Moon in Leo on the Ascendant.
  • If Lord one is angular, the rumor is true; this chart has the Sun in the 10th house.
  • If the angles are fixed, the tale is true; all the angles in our chart have fixed signs.
  • The Moon angular makes the story true; we have already established that this is the case in our horoscope.
  • If the dispositor of the Moon is angular and in a fixed sign, the story is true. The Moon’s dispositor is the Sun, and it is in Taurus in the 10th house.
  • If the Moon is separating from a malefic and applying to a benefic that is angular, the tale is true. Here, the Moon separates from a trine to Mars and applies to a square with angular Sun.

One cannot help but draw the conclusion that the story is indeed true. If the heavens speak to us in signs we do not understand, we must try to unfold their meaning.

Book Review: Horary Astrology Re-Examined (Barbara Dunn)

May 3, 2009 by  

Book Review: Horary Astrology Re-Examined by Barbara Dunn

Reading Horary Astrology Re-Examined brought me back to the days when I was just beginning to learn horary, with Olivia Barclay’s book, Horary Astrology Rediscovered, at my side.  Dunn is a student of traditional astrologer Olivia Barclay, and Horary Astrology Re-Examined is similar to Barclay’s book, in that it is a compendium of traditional quotations on various topics from many authors.  Essentially, Dunn appears to have updated Barclay’s book with the new translations that had been obscure or unavailable when Barclay published her book in 1997.  Dunn has taken over Barclay’s horary course a few years ago, and it appears that in writing Horary Astrology Re-Examined, she has updated the course book as well.


This is perhaps the most thorough survey of traditional thought on horary astrology.  However, precisely because of its depth and breadth, I would not recommend this for a beginning horary astrologer.  The book is not written especially didactically, “soup to nuts,” but rather gives the reader absolutely everything, and more, right from the start.  Horary Astrology Re-Examined is more like a compendium of horary.  For the intermediate to advanced practitioner, Dunn’s book is a treasure trove of information, with seemingly everything traditional ever written about horary in one book.  It is best used as an encyclopedia when one wants to understand a specific topic in depth, with footnotes and references to primary sources galore.

Contents & Structure

Horary Astrology Re-Examined is organized into two major parts; Part I is methodology and doctrine, and Part II contains house-specific questions and judgments.

The Introduction sets out the author’s argument for traditional astrology, which is portrayed as losing ground to the new age facsimile of the art.  I am not convinced this is the case, as traditional astrology has come a long way just in the last decade, but Dunn’s basic hypothesis is sound, in that she views traditional astrology as a valuable, internally cohesive system that can be used for accurate methods of prediction.  The introduction is followed by a dozen or so pages of Terms of Art, which the student should understand as they learn horary.

Part I starts with a chapter about the planets; their nature, joys, friendships, associations (Morin, Lilly, and Abu Ma’shar), and rulership of the days and hours.  Chapter 2 describes the houses, the house systems, the nature of the quadrants and directions, and the nature of the angles/succedent/cadent houses.  There is a good-sized listing of the meaning of each house, drawn from the traditional authors (Lilly, Al Biruni, Morin, and Ptolemy).  This is not a substitute for a good book on the houses, such as Deb Houlding’s text, but is a very good start.  Included is a good discussion of the triplicity rulers of the houses, a natal technique.

Chapter 3 discusses the signs of the zodiac, their divisions, and associations with parts of the body, the seasons, colors, directions, fertility, places (for lost objects), and geographical locations.  Chapter 4 covers planetary sect, hayyiz, and the way these concepts are used in natal horoscopes, including the notions of oriental and occidental planets.  Chapter 5 explains planetary movement and aspects, antiscia, beholding, and orbs.  Oddly, not much time is spent on the nature of the major aspects, the heart and soul of horary, specifically the ways in which they can bring about perfection (square brings perfection with difficulty, for example, while the trine does so with ease).  The material on planetary movements is quite valuable, and unique, in the sense that no one has brought together this material as comprehensively as the author.  Concepts discussed include committing disposition – though we are never told what disposition is, exactly – pushing nature, pushing power, pushing two natures, pushing counsel, and the uses of a separating aspect.  There is also some discussion of void of course and feral Moon.

Chapter 6 deals with essential dignities, discussing domicile, exaltation, triplicity, term, and face, according to each of the ancient sources.  The author then gives information on the debilities of detriment, fall, and peregrination.  In the interest of comprehensiveness, it would have been most useful to include Ibn Ezra’s description of the dignities, both here and in the following chapter. 

Chapter 7 continues this theme with a discussion of accidental dignities and debilities, with a heavy emphasis on William Lilly’s point scoring tables, which apparently continue to exert fascination over astrologers despite their limited utility in practice.  There is also a table detailing the nature of the planets when occidental and oriental.  The table dates from the 1930s edition of Al Biruni’s treatise on astrology, and, in my humble opinion, should have been reset for easier reading.  A section on accidental dignity and debility follows, discussing each of the factors that strengthens or weakens a planet, depending on its position in the horoscope and relative to other planets.   Chapter 7 closes with a wealth horary by Lilly, demonstrating Lilly’s checklist of essential and accidental conditions of each planet. 

Chapters 8 and 9 address reception and almutens, respectively.  Both are very well presented, in that they summarize and quote the traditional authors on these multi-faceted topics.  Almutens are not as important in horary as in other branches of astrology, but they are important to know and understand.  A thirty-page chapter on signification follows, dedicated to the method for selecting the correct significator(s) in a horary chart.  There is a good discussion of natural significators, which tend to be under-utilized in today’s practice of horary.  Another good portion of the chapter is the section on planets and their role in appearance, another forgotten but highly effective horary technique.

A chapter on Considerations before Judgment is a good summary of the various pre-judgment cautions given in traditional texts.  Chapter 12, on The Question, is a particularly welcome and unique addition to this book.  Most books gloss over the importance of asking the question properly, but the author does not skip this rather unglamorous part of the proceedings.  An added bonus is a rather amusing deconstruction of a psychological horary analysis.  Chapter 13 gives a big picture view of how to judge a chart, including a section on timing.

Chapters 14 and 15 are titled “The Possibility of the Matter Propounded,” and “The Impossibility of the Matter Propounded,” respectively, and since they match the subtitle of the book, we can assume they form the center of the author’s work.  The chapters essentially summarize the ways that outcomes can perfect or fail to perfect; the assiduous student could create a checklist for each chapter and refer to it when judging a chart.  The more experienced astrologer may not find these chapters as useful, but they are essential to learning to read horoscopes.

Part II focuses on the specific horary types for some of the more popular houses; the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 10th houses are detailed.  It is unclear why, with her obvious penchant for thoroughness and completeness, the author did not address the less riveting but still essential 1st, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th houses, especially given that the traditional authors usually described them all.  The houses that are not addressed are the ones that have subtle meanings, and that give students the greatest trouble, so one would think that a comprehensive approach would be worthwhile.  The houses that are covered are done very well, with a detailed description of some of the criteria of the ancients, and supplemented with the author’s own examples. 

The book wraps up with an excellent bibliography and index.


An excellent book to round out one’s horary collection.  This is not the book to start with, due to its sheer comprehensiveness, and one would be better off starting with something a bit pithier.  Olivia Barclay’s book is useful, and, of course, John Frawley’s Horary Textbook is a great introductory text.  The attraction of Horary Astrology Re-Examined is that it encourages the reader to peruse the primary sources for himself, rather than rely on restatements by modern authors.  The frequent footnotes and rich bibliography make it easy to discover the sources for oneself.  Highly recommended.


Horary Astrology Re-Examined: The Possibility or Impossibility of the Matter Propounded

By Barbara Dunn

The Wessex Astrologer, 2009, 536 pages, paperback.

28.00 GBP (44.00 USD), amazon.com, astroamerica.com, wessexastrologer.com

Free Horary Astrological Reading: Back in the USA?

August 24, 2008 by  

I am petitioning to work as a nurse in California. Can you see when I will be back in the US? And will I be able to shift to medicine (I’m a graduate of nursing and medicine) and be a doctor when I am there?


Dear M.,

The horary chart for your question is pretty clear; that is what happens when you have a clear question (other free reading requesters, take note 🙂). The astrological chart is below:

You are ruled by Saturn, ruler of the first house of self, and by the Moon. We see that the benefic North node is just inside the ascendant, which is a generally positive indication, though not the final word. Saturn is hanging out in the seventh house, trine Jupiter, but not making any immediate aspects. We do notice that the Sun has just moved into Virgo, and Saturn is now combust. This can indicate that you do not see clearly in the situation; it may be that you do not get updates on the application process, so you really know where you stand. You may also not know exactly what is involved in becoming certified as a doctor in the US as compared to your home country.

We see that the Moon is translating light between Saturn and Venus. It looks as though Venus conjunct Mercury in Virgo in the seventh house represents the United States. The seventh house can indicate “over there,” and with Venus so strongly influenced by Mercury both by sign and by aspect, there is a definite medical flavored to Venus. The Moon applies to Venus by a square aspect, indicating delays, obstacles, and struggles. However, you should be able to get back to the US sooner or later. The aspect between the Moon and Venus will perfect in about 6 1/2 degrees; because we are dealing with double signs, we could be looking at your returning seven or eight months from now. This could actually be weeks, but that seems a little rapid for what a bureaucratic process.

Will you be able to be a doctor in the US? Of course you are able to; all you have to do is just pass a bunch of exams. I think this will be a little trickier, though, because you are represented by Saturn in Virgo, which is in the detriment of Jupiter, the planet governing your career. You might not be focusing enough on what it takes to make your American M.D. credentials happen. If you want to be a doctor here, it is absolutely essential that you focus on getting the right qualifications, which I am told is not easy or simple. The medical profession protects itself, so you must prove your worth.

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Free Astrological Chart Reading: “Will He Leave His Wife? Will We Marry?”

August 8, 2008 by  

I met G. nine years ago when I interviewed him for a news story I was writing. I felt an instant kinship. But since he had a wife of two years, I kept everything professional. Fate kept having us collide once or twice a year and we always had memorable conversations that were deep and compelling…we just clicked. About 2 years ago, we began meeting to converse more frequently — he says he feels more intellectually stimulated with me than with anyone. We talk for 4 to 6 hours at a time about philosophy, etc. Now, we’re constantly getting drinks together and wanting to be with each other.

There’s almost like a psychic energy between us. We have never kissed or slept together because we are both very noble and good people. We want to make each other stronger and more successful — not destroy one another’s lives. But we seem to love being together and can’t stand being apart.  Once we met at a place with a huge parking lot and came out to find we had somehow parked right next to each other. It was surreal … and yet, things like this happen with us. It’s as if the Universe wants us together.

He loves his wife. I don’t want to be a mistress. But emotionally, I’m more than a friend. I wish he would conclude the marriage and marry me instead. Will this happen? Will we have an affair?  Am I what he needs in his life to be fulfilled?  I don’t want to “take” him if she is the better suited for him. I want everyone to be with their highest soul matches.


Dear S.,

I have been getting a lot of questions about hidden relationships in the last few weeks. Perhaps the planetary configurations are just right to describe such situations. I cast a horary chart for your question:

Powerful Physical Attraction

There is a lot of physical attraction here. The Moon, one of your significators, is in Scorpio, where it is in the sign and triplicity of Mars. Mars can symbolize sex in relationship questions, which seems accurate here. You are emotionally very focused on the physical attraction to G. He is represented by the Sun, ruler of the 7th house of partners (or potential partners), and is likely attractive. The Sun in its own sign, Leo, can be quite magnetic, even dazzling. A person represented by the Sun in its own sign will put out some very seductive vibes; not necessarily because he is deeply attracted to you, but just because that’s how he is. The Sun shines for everyone.

Things certainly seem headed toward a physical encounter, at least from your perspective. Venus, which shows your physical attraction, recently moved out of Leo, and into the sign of its fall, Virgo. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, which represents his wife. You now feel that his wife stands between you and your happiness. Your third significator is Saturn, which is also in Virgo, repeating the same theme on a more conscious level in your mind.

The Sun is about to conjoin the malefic South Node, which shows a sudden “fall” in that planet’s strength. There are an awful lot of planets falling in this chart; the Moon in Scorpio, Venus in Virgo, and shortly, the Sun. This is not uncommon in charts about affairs, so someone is certainly contemplating an affair. Whether it will happen is another matter.


I do not see him motivated enough to leave his wife for you. The Sun is in a fixed sign, Leo, which is also the Sun’s own sign. He’s not moving from where he is. However, and you might already be aware of this, his wife might be. She is Mercury, in Leo, so in her husband’s house. However, shortly, Mercury will leave Leo and enter its own sign, Virgo.

Your energy is certainly focused on his wife right now. In fact, the Moon recently opposed Mercury by antiscion, indicating some kind of hidden aggression between you and his wife in the recent past. You didn’t put a curse on her, I hope! Whatever happens between him and his wife, I don’t really see an upcoming connection between you and him. The Moon’s next aspect is a sextile to Saturn, followed by a sextile to a very weak Jupiter in the 12th house of secrets. Jupiter rules your 11th house of hope, so you might hope for a secret relationship, but I’m not sure there is more here than that. There are hints of an affair or something secret going on here, but I don’t really see marriage. An affair is a possibility, but not clearly shown.


You wondered about the compatibility between him (Sun) and you (Saturn), and him and his wife (Mercury). Given that he does not seem terribly motivated to pursue this relationship with you, that probably says everything. However, I do see that in this chart, you are represented by Saturn, and he is represented by the Sun. These are not considered traditionally friendly planets, as one is the bringer of death and the other, of life. Mercury and the Sun are a bit better together, because Mercury is the messenger of the Gods; the planet that circles around the Sun like a faithful servant.

[Readers interested in private astrology readings can pay via the PayPal button at top left, or find out more at the Astrology Readings page.]

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