Saturday, April 16, 2011

Is Horary Really Technical?

Call this an "open answer" instead of an "open question." There are many ideas that natal astrologers hold about horary that are frankly just plain strange. They are also largely artifacts of ignorance, which is not necessarily the fault of the person holding the opinion, but may well be the fault of their teachers, and of many of the people who have authored books on natal astrology.



Today, I received an e-mail from a person who was simultaneously intrigued and nervous about studying horary, because she was afraid it is too technical for her to grasp. Here is my response.


I don't see horary as any more technical than a host of things I have studied. What I would say is that horary is actually very procedural. All that means is that you call a spade a spade.

In natal, does saying that Leo is a fire sign mean natal is technical? Because, within the classical period, natal astrology was every bit as "technical" as horary.

So I guess I'm not sure what you mean by "technical." Does it run by rules? Yes! But what about that makes it problematic?

Imho, the following statements are true:

1. Most astrology books and astrology courses are written by well meaning people who don't know how to either write or teach. This is not a reflection of their moral or intellectual worth, but simply a statement that you can hardly expect people to intuitively know how to do either skill well. The same thing happens in martial arts, when people study for a while, and then are thrown in as teachers, without teaching them how to teach. The results are rarely satisfactory for either party.

2. Part of the evidence for 1 is that the knowledge conveyed is inadequate when it cannot be applied outside the examples given in the book/class. Many authors make statements that are so vague that they either apply to every chart, or no chart, and the poor student is left to wonder what they misunderstood. It is always easier to believe that you cannot understand the author - which is your fault! - than that the author got it wrong.

3. The real problem in writing and teaching is that most authors and teachers are not actually thinking about how to engage in astrological reasoning, and instead are attempting to teach only by applying their own knowledge as if it were drawn out of a barrel randomly rather than systematically applied.

4. If you don't teach systematically, nobody learns anything, except by attempting to reverse engineer.

5. Good teaching requires a defined curriculum, where the student is clear about what the purpose of the instruction is, what is expected of her or him, and what constitutes closure, at least in that particular course. Classes which continue indefinitely have a habit of becoming either entertainment or dependencies, rather than learning.

So, to my question to you: what is wrong with "technical," that this should be an impediment to learning?

Do you have problems following an instruction like, "Raise your right hand?" Because that is technical.

Do have have a problem with logical reasoning, like, "If the Moon is in the 8th house, then the Querent may be thinking about death?" Because reasoning is technical.

Are you concerned that you could never learn all the "rules?" No problem. Nobody does. As with law, the important thing is not memorizing, but knowing where to look them up.

Do you have a problem because you don't know why that statement about the 8th house might be true? In that case, I'm afraid no astrology will ultimately be satisfying for you, because while it may be possible to historically date the statement, no astrology brings you to the primary cause or complete truth about anything.

Is the comment about technical really a statement that you are afraid to put your astrological knowledge and reasoning to the test of a crucible in which you have to declare a judgment than can be then declared to be either right or wrong? In that case, then how much faith do you really have in what you have learned?


Beyond this particular person's concerns, the other great dig at horary is that it legislates against free will. It doesn't. Fate is merely the statement of what happens when you have neither the time, the will, nor the inclination to exercise free will. And that's the problem. The exercise of free will takes energy, will, and time, commodities that are often in short supply. And of all of them, the exercise of the will, or intention, is probably the commodity in the shortest supply. People are not encouraged to really think carefully about their options and make a considered choice between options that have been seriously studied. We are encouraged to pick between the red or the blue on impulse, not think about whether we really wanted that new car, or whether it is a good choice based on environmental considerations.

The expression of free will is difficult, because we have to think, we have to question, and we have to discover a path that nobody tells you to take, and nobody gives you very many points for choosing. I am completely in favor of free will, just as I know it is in short supply.


Horary "works" because it is the measure of how things will unfold in the absence of free will. Thus, horary is not an opinion about free will, but about how people operate when they themselves have abrogated free will.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Lee, I tend to agree with you. I think most students find that horary is more precise and leaves less room for "interpretation" and find comfort in the spade is a spade nature. I am putting a link to your blog on my blog as I have a number of students about to do their horary module. Linda Reid