Thursday, November 30, 2006

An Open Letter to Maria K. Simms

Congratulations on the release of The New American Atlas for the 21st Century – Michelsen Memorial Edition ( It’s hard for me to believe it’s sixteen years since Neil’s death. Our own paths diverged only a couple of years after Neil’s death, as first you, and then I left the NCGR Board, the place where we had briefly walked together.

Neils’ early death so easily could have been much more of a tragedy, but for you, who chose to assume the mantle of keeper of the flame. This new edition shows that you have done so with grace and discernment. This could have just been a slavish reproduction with a new cover. But no: you and Rique Pottenger chose to update it, making the best current calculations available based on equations that Neil didn’t have. Then, in what was the first choice of an astrological ephemeris publisher since the astronomical flak last Summer about the planetary status of Pluto, instead of demoting Pluto to a monthly position, you took the bold stroke of adding Ceres to the main pages while retaining Pluto. What more fitting tribute could there have been to Rique’s mother, Zip Dobyns, who also makes a cameo appearance in the section remembering Neil.

So kudos on the publication!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

2006 Elections

The reason that I don't often make predictions about post-season baseball is that I'm too passionate about it. Strong emotions interfere with good predictions. Which is why most astrologers find themselves to be somewhat flummoxed with their own charts. The other area where strong emotion frequently gets in the way is politics: where almost everybody seems to have an opinion as strong or stronger than the most rabid sports fan pulling for his/her favorite team.

And so again: it's election season.

Well over a decade ago, I worked with Bernadette Brady to build a quantitative model for doing sports prediction based on the Medieval astrologer Guido Bonatti's rules of warfare. With this model, we were able to beat bookmaker's odds for both the cricket matches known as the Ashes (in Bernadette's case) and US football Superbowls in mine.

Shortly thereafter, I asked whether these models could be similarly applied to presidential elections. I did a study not only to determine if the warfare model in general worked (it did), but also which chart to use for the presidential election, as so many mundane possibilities existed. The three charts which historically produced the best results were:

  • Midnight election day

  • The prior lunation

  • The prior Libra Ingress (a contrarian model: i.e., it predicts in reverse)

Note: this article can be found at my web site under

Although this model was developed specifically for presidential elections, I have experimented in the past with applying it to presidential off-year elections. In this case, my hypothesis is that the same model that predicts the presidential result by party could predict whether the congressional elections show a net gain or loss for the party in power.

Therefore, in the spirit of this hypothesis, I present the predictions for 2006.

Here are the tabulations according to this model for the three different charts. Please click on any of the graphics to see a larger view.

The only chart here which may be unclear is the Libra Ingress, since the score is tied. The rule for tie-breaking is that the superior planet “wins;” thus all three models favor the Democrats. The conclusion is that the Democrats will gain seats: how much is not a function of the model.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Can Accountants be Astrologers?+

In the wake of Enron and other such messes, I want to ask this philosophical question. Granted, greed is endemic to the human race. Kenneth Lay’s excesses along with those of his cronies are merely one chapter in a long history of corporate-government corruption that includes such earlier chapters as Tammany Hall, Exxon Valdez, countless scandals and bubbles, and schemes.

So why get upset about Enron, apart from its environmental consequences, and its obvious tie-ins to the Bush Administration, and the Clinton one as well? The reason, I think, relates to the legacy of the Reagan Administration in the USA, and Thatcher in the UK. There was a fundamental paradigm shift then that still relates to life today. To follow the very interesting presidential study of historian Stephen Skowronek, particular administrations set up a paradigm of government that holds until the next paradigm.* Subsequent administrations either follow the lead of the paradigm-setting administration, or unsuccessfully react to it, until the whole thing collapses with the new paradigm. In Skowronek’s model, the Reagan Administration was the last paradigm, with F.D. Roosevelt before that.

Curiously, one of the accomplishments of the Reagan Era was to further complete the secularization of society which was a hallmark of the Enlightenment – the furtherance of the very point of view that banned astrology from serious intellectual consideration. And even more curiously, that secularization is currently being driven in part by a group of Christian Fundamentalist businesspeople – whose own beliefs are also ultimately compromised by the same position they are advocating.

Whether one chooses to blame Reagan’s economic team, or the simultaneous influx of data processing into business, the fact is that the way that business is conducted on the inside changed radically in the 1980’s. The advent of relatively easy access to reams of data not merely allowed, but virtually mandated that all larger businesses run everything “by the numbers.” The Walmart model of breaking down every sale into components of line item and customer zip code preferences heralded the era of “ship on demand” and frequent buyer clubs: where the clubs were “sold” to the public as benefiting them, but where the real beneficiaries were the companies.

The dark side of this force is that everything and everyone became a number, or merely an aggregate of numbers. And this is where everything changed. Customers became numbers. In the airline industry, this resulted in smaller seats, less legroom, horrible and eventually either non-existent meals or purchased meals as airlines raced each other to find every last way to shave a little bit off the cost,or raise the price a little bit. Flying became uncomfortable as customers were forced to the realization that these literally are cattle cars, and the airlines blamed 9-11. Flight attendants have told me that once their payroll was automated, they routinely found errors in their paychecks – and these errors were always in the airline’s favor.

This disconnection between money and humanity – the severance of any sense of humanity in a business transaction – means that customers can be constantly hit with questionable charges, support centers can be outsourced in ways that significantly impact customer relations, and employees are reduced to productivity machines. The irony is that in the immediate decades leading up to this sea change, there was substantial research suggesting the models such as Abraham Maslow’s where employees are treated well, and allowed to make a significant contribution to self-autonomy, do in fact increase productivity. Whereas treating people as numbers and reducing choice results in lower productivity in employees, and loss of brand loyalty in consumers.

Yet, these newer quantitative models persist, presumably because the short term numerical analysis looks good on paper, and because numbers often provide a comfort blanket, regardless of whether they are correct or meaningful. What these models lack is any accounting for the uniqueness of individuals, or any incentive for service beyond the mediocre. Ironically, the enforcement of these quantitative systems has encouraged workers to act exactly like workers under the Communist system that supposedly was debunked: work is rewarded equally whether one does a good job, or a poor job, so why excel? These methods demean the individual person, declaring the only good to be “value,” which is strictly quantitative.

Whether one is interested in examining life astrologically or spiritually, this approach is both disastrous and demeaning. These systems declare the value of the individual so strongly that they are meaningless without it. You cannot run your life astrologically based on my chart – or vice versa. You cannot rely on me to do your spiritual work – or vice versa. We know that the whole is not the sum of the parts. Whenever we ignore this, we encourage those who seek to tear down our beliefs. Never forget this!

For a really interesting website related to this logical issue of the whole not being the sum of the parts, see

+ With thanks to Nick Campion, who asked a question which provoked this essay.
* Skowronek, Stephen. 1997. The Politics Presidents Make: Leadership from John Adams to Bill Clinton. Belknap Press: Cambridge, MA.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Thirteenth Sign? What to do with Ophiucus

When I was first coming up in astrology oh so many years ago, there was a book called Arachne Rising, proposing a 13th sign. Now, the discussion is about Ophiuchus. Now, Ophiuchus is technically on the ecliptic. But I think what we may need to realize is that this is not a new phenomenon.

What is different now is that some very slick anti-astrology skepticism is picking up on this as an argument against astrology, as you can see through sites like: On the one hand, this website is completely correct. But that same page actually mentions part of why this issue is being raised now, and it has nothing to do with astrology. In the 20th century, it was the astronomers who redrew all the constellational boundaries so that all of the sky is defined. In other words, you have a fundamental re-definition of what a constellation is. The traditional idea was that a constellation like Cancer or Virgo was a recognizable group of stars that looked like something, and therefore meant something. Constellations were seen as being discrete: in other words, there was "space" around them. When astronomy seriously separated from astrology in the late 17th century, it maintained the old definition of constellation, while stripping it of astrological meaning.

Then, astronomy, in going its separate way, engaged in massive study of the sky with vastly superior telescopes. The more they looked, the more objects they found: more stars, and ultimately, galaxies, nebulae, clusters, etc. Under the telescope, the sky ceased to look like a series of discrete pictures, and by the 20th c., astronomers had realized that the constellations themselves were not "connected" in any way: the pictures only look that way from Earth, because the stars of a constellation aren't necessarily "near" each other in three dimensional space.

Thus, astronomy needed a system for ascribing location, and that meant that they needed to cover the entire celestial sphere, not just the ecliptic. Within this quest for locational accuracy, they redefined the constellations as zones of the sky: yet further divorced from the original pictures of our ancestors.

Then, in the ultimate irony, they come back and chide astrologers for not adapting their changed coordinate system, a system that might as well call a location in Leo as A-150X16 as anything else!

So: back to Ophiuchus. Is there any meaning to having the Sun in Ophiuchus? Maybe. The astrologer who I think knows the most about fixed stars right now is Diana K. Rosenberg. Diana for years has talked about the overlays of the tropical, sidereal and fixed stars. She's also talked about the fact that, using the traditional system, any ecliptic degree actually represents an overlap of several constellations. The fixed stars have always been seen as factors that should be considered in the delineation.

As to whether one should change the zodiac, I would be very reluctant to muck with this when the driving force is coming from a group profoundly hostile to astrology. But apart from that, if the ancients knew there were other constellations which intersected the zodiac, why didn't they incorporate them? Largely, we don't know. There's no historical evidence on this. We've got no one to ask. Whether it's because Ophiucus-Serpentarius (it's really a dual constellation) is simply so large, and that only a small portion intersects the ecliptic, who knows? We can certainly can and should modify our delineations for planets in that region based on the constellational overlap. But junk the old system because 20th century astronomers re-invented the wheel? I don’t think so!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Encyclopedia Entry on Horary Astrology

Horary Astrology

© 2002 J. Lee Lehman, Ph.D.

This was submitted to and published in Lewis, James R. 2003. The Astrology Book. Visible Ink: Detroit.

Horary astrology is one of three branches of the general category of interrogatory astrology, literally, the astrology of questions. The other two branches are electional and event interpretation.

Horary astrology requires a Question to be posed by a Querent: and the simpler and clearer the Question, the better. The purpose of horary method is then to provide a means to answer the Question.

As a technology for answering a specific question using astrological methods, horary can also be considered a type of divination. As such, it is akin to I-Ching, Tarot, geomancy, and a host of other divinatory practices.1

The horary process can, for simplicity’s sake, be divided into three components:2

  • Defining and asking the Question

  • Describing the circumstances surrounding the Question – which is to say, proving the Question

  • Providing an answer to the Question.

Defining and asking the Question:

A good horary question is clear, answerable, and can only be asked once. In order to avoid the consequences of asking the same question twice, it is possible to limit a question to a particular time interval. Thus, it is well to encourage your Querent to prefer the wording, “Will I get married within two years (or another time interval)?” to “Will I ever get married?”

Taking the Time

The moment of a horary question is the clock time taken for when the Querent finds it almost impossible to not know the answer any longer.

Noting the Place

Deciding which location to use if the Querent and the astrologer are separated by distance varies depending on the educational lineage of the astrologer. Schools deriving primarily from classical methods favor using the astrologer’s location, while schools deriving from Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson prefer the Querent’s location.

Describing the circumstances surrounding the Question:

By the medieval period, astrologers had begun to notice certain general chart configurations which portended specific answers. These came to be called the considerations against judgment. While it seems that every astrologer had a somewhat different list, the concept is simple: if one of the considerations is present, there is some problem relating to the asking of the question. This is where the astrologer really decides whether the question can and should be answered.

In the 20th Century, it became common to use the considerations as a reason not to answer the Question, but there is no evidence that this was ever done consistently before the modern era. In most cases, the considerations themselves become part of the delineation of the answer.

The main considerations are:

  • The placement of Saturn. If in the 1st House, the Querent may be lying, although misleading may be a better match. In the 7th, the astrologer may not be properly placed to answer this Question unless the Question is itself of a 7th House nature, in which case Saturn simply becomes part of that delineation.3 In the 10th House, the Querent may damage the reputation of the horary astrologer.

  • Ascendant or Moon in the Via Combusta (the zone from 15° Libra to 15° Scorpio. This is considered to be a malefic section of the zodiac. As there have been other degree spans mentioned by the ancient astrologers, it is unclear exactly what the Via is really. It is also not known whether the reference is tropical or sidereal

  • Ascendant too early or too late. An early Ascendant of 3° or less may mean either that it’s too early to ask the Question, or that there is still too much free-will in place to presume to give an answer. A late Ascendant generally 27° or later means that there is nothing that the Querent can do to change the outcome: other plans and events have happened rendering the question moot.

  • Moon Void-of-course. As the Moon traverses a sign it (usually) makes aspects to the sun and other planets. It is as if the Moon still has work to do. After the Moon has completed the last aspect to a planet, its condition is said to be Void-of-Course, vacua cursus. The aspects in use were the five ptolemaic aspects and the bodies, the Sun through Saturn. In classical times, the Moon was not Void-of-Course if occupying four signs: Cancer, Taurus, Sagittarius and Pisces4 (i.e., the Moon’s own sign and exaltation sign, and Jupiter’s two signs). There are multiple interpretations to what this one actually means in practice. The simplest starting point is to be aware that most timing in a horary comes from the Moon: when Void-of-course, there are no events being recorded by the Moon.

  • The Planetary Hour matches the Ascendant Ruler by Triplicity (i.e., their signs are in the same element). The use of planetary hours in modern times has dwindled, but traditionally, these were supposed to match, sharing an affinity between the Question and the Moment.

The traditional purpose of the considerations was to look for red flags that would make judgment difficult.

Providing an answer to the Question:

Generally, the astrologer needs to be able to do the following things to delineate the Question:

  1. Describe the Querent.

  2. Describe the Quesited (that which as asked about)

  3. See if there is any relationship between the two

  4. Provide some detail on how the Querent does or does not attain the desired end

The Querent is always given by the 1st House. The possible Significators for the Querent are:

  • the Ascendant itself

  • the Ascendant Ruler

  • planets in the 1st House, or occasionally

  • the Moon – but this is problematic, because what the Moon really shows in the chart is the sequence of events

A similar list can be drawn up for the Quesited, except that first, we have to decide which (if any) house rules the Quesited.

The Quesited is shown by:

  • the House represented by the nature of the Question

  • the Ruler of that House

  • planets in that house

Table One is a brief listing of house rulerships for various types of questions, done in the classical style.

Table One. Types of Questions by House5

1st House

Longevity, health (disease is 6th), happiness, moving vehicles (planes, trains and automobiles), best period in life, the visiting team in most sporting events.

2nd House

Money, financial instruments directly convertible into cash (bank accounts, CD’s, guaranteed bonds), salary, moveable objects (things you can pick up and carry by yourself), lawyer acting in your behalf in a lawsuit (i.e., barrister).

3rd House

Neighbors, siblings, cousins of the same generation in age, primary education (see below), short trips (see below), religious matters (see below), whether the rumor is true, writing.

4th House

Your father (usually), property (whether land or buildings), hidden or buried treasure, your home, inheritance of land, the home team in many sporting events, gardeners or other workers who do landscaping or other outside work.

5th House

Entertainment, sex (see below), pleasure, gambling, ambassadors (see below), bribery, gifts, the stock market and other riskier investments, alcohol and recreational drugs, children, procreation.

6th House

Pets, disease, accidents (as in: car accidents), employees or day laborers, small animals (i.e., smaller than a sheep, but also includes large but domesticated dogs like St. Bernards), birds, labor unions (the unions themselves, not labor actions).

7th House

Marriage and marriage partners, partnerships of all sorts (business as well as intimate), open enemies, thieves, the other party in a buying and selling transaction, a contract labor or subcontractor situation, the default other person (see below), the other side in a lawsuit or negotiation, the other possibility for the home team in a sporting event, removals (or moving house).

8th House

Death, taxes, wills, insurance, your partner’s money, inheritances other than of property, lawyer representing the other side in a lawsuit.

9th House

Travel, long trips (see below), philosophy, religion (see below), prophetic dreams, lawyers (see below), higher education (see below).

10th House

Your mother (usually), honors and awards, promotions, high managerial jobs, judge in a lawsuit, arbiter in a negotiation, bosses higher up in the corporate ladder, perks given out at the whim of someone higher up.

11th House

Friends, associations, organizations, funding bodies of government agencies, hopes and wishes.

12th House

Witchcraft (see below), hidden enemies, imprisonment, all institutions of confinement, hospitals, self-undoing, large animals (horses, elephants, whales).

Having defined Querent and Quesited, the astrologer has three steps left. First, there may be specific rules that apply to the particular type of question. For example, there are specific rules for determining whether an object is lost or stolen that are considerably more complex than simply determining the house rulership of the object. For more information on this matter, the reader is encouraged to study a specific horary text in detail.

Second, the astrologer needs to decide whether the Question is resolved through perfection or emplacement. A perfection horary requires that some sort of action(s) or event(s) happen in order for the result to be brought about. An emplacement horary relies purely on where the planets are positioned at the time of the horary, not where they will be sometime later. Lost items, missing people or animal horaries, are the emplacement type horaries. Most other horary questions require the significators’ perfection.

The most common perfection is an approaching aspect of the Querent's planet to the planet symbolising the Quesited. Usually, only the ptolemaic aspects (conjunction, sextile, square, trine, and opposition) are allowed, but differing horary systems may include the parallel or quincunx. In a perfection, the faster moving body must catch up to the slower, generally, without the planets changing sign.

Many authors also allow for perfection by mutual reception between the Significators of the Querent and Quesited.

The next most common means of perfection is translation. In translation, a fast-moving body (generally the Moon, but occasionally Venus or Mercury) separates from one of the Significators, and applies to the other one.

There is one very rare means of translation, which is very powerful: collection. Collection occurs when the faster moving body is separating from the slower moving one, but both are applying to yet a slower body. The slowest one then “collects” the other two.

In addition to these means of achieving perfection, there are also other ways to thwart a perfection. These include:

  • Refranation: in this case, the two bodies are moving toward perfection, but before the aspect becomes exact, the faster moving body turns retrograde, and the aspect never happens until after that body goes direct again, if at all in the same sign. This is one of the most frustrating scenarios, because everything appears to be moving in the right direction until things suddenly veer off.

  • Frustration: in this case, again the Significators appear to be moving to perfection, but this time the slower moving planet achieves a partile aspect with a different body before the faster moving body catches up. Again, this scenario shows hope until the person represented by the slower moving Significator goes off in a different direction.

  • Prohibition: the Significators are moving to perfection, but a swifter body intervenes and completes aspects with both bodies first.

  • Besiegement: if a Significator is between two malefics, it is besieged. It is not at all clear how large an orb should be allowed for this. The concept for besieged is: between a rock and a hard place. A besieged planet is not free to act as it is hemmed in on all sides.

If the outcome of the Question is negative, the horary astrologer is finished at this point, If the outcome is positive, then there is one more job: attempting to determine the timing of the events leading to the result, or determining the spatial relationship to the object in question in the case of a lost object.

Timing comes from looking for a degree separation between any of the following:

  • the Significators of the two parties in a simple perfection

  • between the Moon and one of the Significators

  • between a Significator and a nearby house cusp

  • the number of degrees until the Moon changes sign, especially if the Moon is in the late degrees of a sign.

There are actually two scales of time: symbolic, and ephemeris. Symbolic time (a difference of degrees between the two Significators applied to produce time units through the following table) is used most of the time, unless some significant ephemeris event itself may impact the outcome. If, for example, a significant planet is about to go retrograde or direct, it’s common to refer to the actual station date as the critical timing date.

The unit of time to go with this number is given in Table 2.

Table Two. Units of time based on the qualities of the Significators.6




Cardinal = days

Cardinal = weeks

Cardinal = months

Mutable = weeks

Mutable = months

Mutable = years

Fixed = months

Fixed = years

Fixed = unknown

Of course, much of the time you get mixed indicators: for example, one Significator will be Cardinal Cadent, while the other is Fixed Succedent. In these cases, you may want to adjust the units of time. The units of time also vary according to the nature of the Question itself.

Direction is not always so obvious, in part because of the frequency of having mixed indicators. The general idea is this: take the major Significators in the chart. Examine their location by sign and by house. If the bulk of the planets are either in one house or one sign, then you can translate this into compass location using the cardinal points of the chart,: the Ascendant as East, etc.


Horary was already well developed by the 1st Century C.E. as demonstrated by the work of Dorotheus of Sidon.7 In this remarkable work, Dorotheus presents interrogatory methods for such questions as building or demolishing a building, buying and selling, requesting a gift, marriage, whether a pregnancy will come to term, debt, travel, buying or building a ship, imprisonment, lawsuits, theft, fugitives, illness and bewitchment. While a modern horary astrologer would not likely follow all of his methods, his presentation is quite readable and logical to modern eyes.

The viewpoint that infused Dorotheus was that all forms of interrogations are interpreted with the same methods, except where the type of interrogation forces a change in usage. Furthermore, there is a hierarchy among the three branches, which applies to deciding upon the appropriate time to use for a question. For example, when it comes to theft, if the time of the theft is known, then a chart for the event is drawn. A horary is used only if that time isn’t known. While the differences between reading an event chart and a horary are often not explicitly mentioned, the most important is that in a horary, the Ascendant gives the Querent, while in either event interpretation or electional, the Ascendant gives the event itself.8 Event interpretation is generally for a past event, horary for the present, and electional for the future.

Most likely, horary is much older than the 1st or 2nd Century in which Dorotheus lived. We can conclude this for two reasons: (1) because Dorotheus’ work looks too sophisticated to be a first generation codification, and (2) because Vedic astrology has an absolutely equivalent branch called prashna which is probably equally ancient. At this time, it is impossible -- based on manuscripts and artifacts alone -- to decisively nail down the exact nature of the cross-fertilization of Western and Hindu methods. It is clear that there was extensive sharing of knowledge between the two cultures. We know, for example, that the words used by Vedic astrologers for the planets are transliterations of the Greek planet words. It was easy to postulate that the major source of “sharing” occurred when Alexander the Great invaded Western India in 327-327 bce. However, it now appears that sharing between cultures was far more extensive and over a far greater time period than had been previously thought possible.9

There are several extant katarche (the Greek word for interrogation) from the 5th Century astrologer Palchus.10 Mixed in with questions about taming lions and ships at sea, we see charts drawn for the times of political events: a disastrous crowning of a king, and the time when a Prefect entered Alexandria.

Horary was passed on as one of many techniques when large numbers of Greek manuscripts were translated into Arabic in the period around the 8th Century ce. Because the Islamic expansion extended into India, this was another period of technique sharing between East and West. Dorotheus was one of the authors translated into Arabic, so his methodology became generally known – and influential on subsequent generations of astrologers. Later authors expanded on the Hellenistic authors. William Lilly, the great 17th Century horary astrologer, cited Zael, one of the 9th Century Jewish horary astrologers.11 The 10th Century astrologer al-Biruni (973-1048?) also included horary as part of his work.12

Just as the 8th Century represented a bonanza for Arabic-speaking intellectuals, the 12th Century was the same for Latin-speaking ones, as that marked the watershed for the translation of Arabic materials into Latin. To fully understand the significance of this transmission, we have to be clear about what actually happened to astrology in the Arabic period:

  • Hellenistic (and Persian, which is to say Babylonian) methods were translated into Arabic and studied.

  • Vedic methods were also translated in Arabic.

  • Hellenistic (Western) and Vedic methods could be combined and synthesized.

  • The Arabic-speaking practitioners themselves then added and modified the inheritance that they received.

The influx of material into the Latin West was even more extensive than that experienced by the Arabic scholars four centuries before. Thus, when Guido Bonatti wrote on horary in the 13th Century, the tradition he built upon was already rich.

The Medieval horary astrologer practicing in the West navigated turbulent waters since the very essence of horary astrology – divination – was at best an uncomfortable topic for the Christian Church, and at worst, a mortal sin. Church philosophers postulated that if one can really predict human behavior, then the individual is not “free” to choose Christ and Salvation. While other branches of astrology can adopt the position that the stars incline, but don’t compel, doing so for horary would destroy its very substance, which is the prediction of human behavior. The Church had effectively restricted prophesy as its own perquisite, banning and anathematicizing it in other quarters.13 So despite brilliant individual horary astrologers like Bonatti, most portions of horary apart from medical usage were outside the pale of acceptable astrological behavior for much of the Middle Ages. Yet somehow, its rules continued to be transmitted to future generations, and no doubt individual astrologers continued to answer their own questions.

The survival of horary astrology is due in no small part to the fact that people continued to ask the kind of questions that are the grist for horary astrology: Will I marry B? Is she a virgin? Where is my brother’s ship? Will my son die in the war? The people wanted the answers, while the Church said it either wasn’t possible to have them, or if you got them, it was from a demonic source. This hardly represented a stable situation.

Ultimately, every town had its own cunning man or woman.14 He or she would either “fix” your problem, or at least tell you what was going to happen. These people were often the targets of the Inquisition in Catholic countries, but they flourished in Protestant ones – at least, as long as they kept a low profile. How they did their job might vary, with prayer a frequent accompaniment, but there were herbalists, palmists, readers of bird lore, physiognomists, scryers, talisman-makers, psychics (in our terminology), and some astrologers. The astrology practiced might have been primitive by the usual standards, but as literacy increased and books became more available, astrological technique became increasingly available.

The Renaissance had opened the door on classical learning – and it was never completely closed again after that. Part of what this opening represented was an alternate source of knowledge – one not controlled by the Church. Distracted by the rise of Protestantism, the Catholic Church was never able to regain the keys to knowledge. It was in this heady mix of the 16th and 17th Centuries that horary once again flourished. The foremost practitioner of this period, who still influences horary, was William Lilly (1602-1681). His eight hundred fifty-four page masterwork, Christian Astrology, is one of the most significant works on the subject.15 What made Lilly’s work both great and enduring was that he not only covered the theory, but he also provided sufficient examples so that the reader could really work through his method.

By the time of Lilly’s death, unfortunately, horary astrology had gone increasingly out of fashion. Lilly had been involved in producing political propaganda in the form of almanacs and broadsides for the Parliamentary faction in the English Civil War. While that side “won” the war in the sense that they ousted (and beheaded) the king, after a relatively short period, the monarchy was restored. In this new social climate, prophesy that could have religious and political implications was frowned upon. In addition, the “new” scientific (which is to say secular) paradigm had asserted itself, and all forms of the occult became suspect. Astrology went into decline.16

Fortunately, astrology was revived in the 18th Century. Ebinezer Sibly’s large work on astrology, which went to many editions both before and after his death, included a substantial section on horary technique with his own chart examples.17 Sibly’s technique was on a par with late 17th Century astrologers, an observation which unfortunately does not hold true for the next generations. The 19th Century environment in which astrology again flourished was one in which matters of the occult generally had become increasingly popular, in part as a reaction to excessive reason in the century prior.

Zadkiel (Richard James Morrison, 1795-1874) is today the best known of the 19th Century horary cohort. Zadkiel thought highly enough of Lilly to produce an abridged version with his own material tacked on – a work that still confuses modern horary astrologers, who often mistake it for the original Christian Astrology.18 Zadkiel and his contemporary Rafael (Robert Cross Smith, 1795-1832) both substantially simplified the astrology of their ancestors, with Zadkiel going in a “scientific” direction that would have been frankly unrecognizable to Lilly.

Many, if not most, astrologers dabbled with horary, even if it wasn’t the bulk of their practice. For example, The Astrologer’s Magazine (Volume 3, 1893) featured a regular horary column by “E. Casael.” This magazine was published by Alan and Bessie Leo.

In the early part of the 20th Century, Leo substantially changed his astrological method to emphasize character analysis over predictive technique.19 It was from these changes that both psychological astrology and esoteric astrology were ultimately based.

In the wake of these new forms of astrology, it isn’t surprising that one of the major trends of 20th Century horary has been to add natal methods to horary delineation, and to combine horary with natal method.

Among the significant 20th Century horary astrologers are:20

  • Marc Edmund Jones (1888-1980): While Jones’ method is often opaque, in great part because of a lack of examples, his philosophical discussion of "Phrasing the Question" and "Locating the Question" are useful reading even to classicists.21

  • Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson (1893-1990) practiced in California, writing a number of books. She adapted some classical methods, adding the use of the word “cautions” for the considerations against judgment, and was adamant that the horary had to be calculated for the location of the Querent, not the horary astrologer. She was inadvertently the originator of the idea that planets in mutual reception “swap” or “exchange” places. She also popularized the use of the parallel, and added decanates to horary delineation.22

  • Barbara Watters (1907-1984) allowed the quincunx as an aspect, brought back the use of eclipses in horary delineation, use the word “strictures” for the considerations against judgment (thereby allowing later horary astrologers to refer to the “cautions and strictures” and to attempt to distinguish between them).23

  • Olivia Barclay (1919-2001) was largely responsible for the current popularity of William Lilly and the revival of classical methods in horary astrology. Originally trained in Goldstein-Jacobson’s methods, Barclay switched when she accidentally found a partial original copy of Lilly in a used bookshop.24

1 For a fuller discussion of this connection, please see Cornelius, Geoffrey, 1994. The Moment of Astrology. Penguin: New York.

2 For a full discussion of this system of classification and most of this article, please see my book, Lehman, J. Lee. 2002. The Martial Art of Horary Astrology. Whitford Press: West Chester, PA.

3 For example, if the Question concerns marriage, and Saturn is in the 7th House, then it may become a Significator of the Quesited, or at least tell something about the potential marriage partner. Since 7th House Questions include marriage, buying and selling, and theft, it is very common for this consideration to not apply. It is not then considered to be a warning concerning the astrologer. Also, if Saturn is dignified, these house placements may not qualify as true considerations, because then Saturn is not considered so malefic.

4 Lilly, William. 1647. Christian Astrology. Reprinted in 1985 by Regulus: London. Also available: Just Us & Associates, pages 122 and 299.

5 Lehman, pages 33-34.

6 Stella Rupertus. 1832. An Astrologian's Guide in Horary Astrolo­gy. London: Simpkin and Marshall. In text format, the idea is much earlier, but Stella was evidently the first to use a table.

7 Sidonius, Dorotheus. 1976. Carmen Astrologicum, translated by David Pingree. B. G. Teubner Verlagsgesellschaft: Leipzig. Also available: Ascella: Nottsh.

8 For a fuller discussion of this point, see Lehman, J. Lee. 2002. The Martial Art of Horary Astrology. Whitford Press: West Chester, PA, page 13.

9 For one account of how extensive this cross-cultural sharing could have been, see McEvilley, Thomas. 2002. The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies. Allworth Press: New York.

10 See Neugebuaer, Otto and Van Hoesen. 1959. Greek Horoscopes. The American Philosophical Society: Philadelphia., pages 142–150.

11 Lilly, William. 1647. See the “To the Reader” section for some of his sources.

12 al Biruni, Abu'l Rayhan Muhammed ibn Ahmad. 1029. The Book of Instruction in the Elements of Astrology, translated by R. Ramsay Wright, Luzac & Co.: London, 1934. Available from Ballantrae.

13 A fascinating picture of how this worked is found Chevalier, Jasques M. 1997. A Postmodern Revelation. Signs of Astrology and the Apocalypse. University of Toronto Press: Toronto.

14 For an account of this whole sociological period, see Thomas, Keith. 1971. Religion and the Decline of Magic. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

15 Lilly, William. 1647. Christian Astrology. Reprinted in 1985 by Regulus: London. Also available: Just Us & Associates.

16 The following gives a full account of this period: Curry, Patrick. 1989. Prophesy and Power. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ. Curry also discusses popular astrology in the 18th Century, which was probably quite similar to what was being practiced in the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries by the less urban classes.

17 Sibly, Ebinezer. 1817. A New and Complete Illustration of the Celestial Science of Astrology; or the Art of fortelling future Events and Contingencies by the Aspects, Positions and Influences of the Heavenly Bodies. The Propietor, at #17, Ave-Maria Lane, St. Pauls: London. (12th, or Posthumous Edition).

18 The Zadkiel versions are generally published under the name: An Introduction to Astrology by William Lilly with Numerous Emendations, adapted to the Improved State of the Science. Also a Grammar of Astrology and Tables for Calculating Nativities. Many editions.

19 Curry, Patrick. 1992. A Confusion of Prophets. Victorian and Edwardian Astrology. Collins & Brown: London, pages 149-150.

20 I have engaged in the common hedge of picking our deceased colleagues, so that my contemporaries cannot complain were I to unconscionably omit their names.

21 Jones, Marc Edmund. 1993. Horary Astrology. Aurora Press: Santa Fe, NM.

22 Goldstein-Jacobson, Ivy M. 1960. Simplified Horary Astrology. Frank Severy Publishing: Alhambra, CA.

23 Watters, Barbara. 1973. Horary Astrology and the Judgment of Events. Valhalla: Washington, DC.

24 Barclay, Olivia. 1990. Horary Astrology Rediscovered. Whitford Press: West Chester, PA.

Astro Fundamentalism

Cleaning out my e-mail (a good Mercury retrograde activity), I ran across a posting that I had done almost three years ago to an astrological e-zine. I wanted to share it here, with the names omitted to protect the innocent (or guilty). A contributor to that e-zine had said, "[T]here is a tendency among at least some exponents of ancient astrology to assume that (1) astrology originated with omniscient, divinely inspired ancient gurus; and (2) that one's character and fate are fixed at the moment of birth. At the very least this viewpoint is implicit in much of ancient astrology."

Let me address (2) first, before I return to (1). If there wasn't something "fixed" at birth, then we wouldn't bother with nativities! So the question is really: how much of the birth moment represents inexorable fate? I would certainly agree with the gentleman's characterization that classical and Vedic astrology both on average assumed a greater quantity of fixed than modern astrology, but let's remember that individual astrologers always varied in the extent of their adherence to this idea. William Lilly, in his rather (in)famous horary on his stolen fish, started with a not promising outcome, and then showed how he applied electional astrology to maximize his recovery. Had Lilly believed in the immutability of his horary, he would not have tried. Other horaries he presented also have subtexts of this same idea: I don't like the predicted outcome, so what do I do to get one that appeals to me more?

What is sometimes not recognized by modern astrologers, however, is the extent to which Western astrology, and especially modern Western astrology, has been affected by going through 1700 years of a Christian lens. It is precisely this Christian viewpoint - the need for free will so that we can "freely" choose salvation or damnation - which has made this whole discussion such a hot spot for much of that time. "Free will" can be seen as a tenet of Christianity.

I think much of what the poster may be objecting to crosses a major cultural and religious divide - and that's where we return to point (1). In the Indian culture, Vedic astrology is a part of the sacred teachings! Astrology, although certainly not the full system, pervades the Vedas, especially the Atharva Veda. In parallel to Christian beliefs about the Bible, these teaching were laid down by - dare we say it? - divinely inspired teachers, also known by the name gurus.
Because astrology is within the sacred sphere, its teachings are divinely inspired.

Now, at Kepler College we may (and do!) study the transmission of astrological ideas back and forth between Mesopotamia, the Hellenistic regions, and India, so that we would not tend to look at any past pronouncements on astrology as being any more divinely inspired than, say, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. However, the mind-set of a culture where astrology is sacred is very different. And I think this cultural divide also explains why so many of the American and European Vedic astrologers do not approach their astrology in quite the same way as the direct biological inheritors of the practice do: Westerners do not come to Eastern material through an Eastern lens, but a Western one. Which then raises the point: if a Vedic astrologer is coming to
this position from a deep religious belief in the sacred nature of his or her astrological findings, who are we to criticize that belief? It is one thing to point out differences resulting from cultural divides, it's another thing to attempt to apply names, such as Fundamentalism, when those names may not successfully cross the cultural divide either - or at least have the pejorative connotation on the other side.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Mars-Saturn Conjunction

Until the end of the 17th century, the Mars-Saturn conjunction was regularly examined for its mundane potential by just about all serious astrologers. Unfortunately, all the references are badly out of print. Among the primary works is:

Edlin, Richard. 1668. Observations Astrologicae, or an Astrological Discourse of the Effects of a Notable Conjunction of Saturn and Mars. Billingsly & Blagrave: London. I have made this available in an annotated edition through my Learning with Lee cd series.

Prior to the 20th century, the custom was to interpret the conjunction for its house location and rulerships in a particular place (especially a nation's capital), and using the Medieval convention of deciding which of the planets was stronger by essential dignity. In this case, being in Leo, Mars is stronger, but Saturn is nastier, being in its detriment. With the conjunction being in a fire sign, one expects hot and dry weather, and one expects the martian group of calamities: wars, fevers, violence. It is this very classification of troubles - whether those of Saturn or those of Mars - which was precisely why the conjunction was considered to be of importance.

In this case, for Washington DC, this conjunction occurred at 8 Leo 45 in the 5th house, with Mars, ruling the conjunction ruling the 1st house (Aries rising). This shows the United States as a principal instigator of war during the next couple of years. The Mars also rules the 8th hose of death, and this combination is not great news. With Saturn ruling the 10th house and in detriment, one expects that Bush's overall popularity will decline.

Friday, March 31, 2006

An underused Technique: Diurnals

In December, my father died. As a daughter, my reactions have been varied and at times, surprising even to me. Perhaps in a few months, I will be able to write about that more fully. For now, I can only address externals, like: which financial companies really gave us hassle, and which were easy to deal with? More on that soon!

However, as an astrologer, what do I have to say about this? We all are such ambulance chasers, what can I say about the prediction of death?

First, did I predict it? Yes, and no. In my solar return for 2005, I had the Moon in Scorpio in the 8th house. As a classicist, the 8th house is certainly a primary indicator of death, and probably not that of the Native. The previous year, I had also had the Moon in the 8th house, this time, in Cancer, and sharing the house with Saturn in Venus. What happened? Our beloved head cat died. So death was a high probability item for 2005-2006, but whose death?

The following month, my partner had actually asked a horary question about who would died first, my father, or my stepmother? The chart had some uncertainty about who was which (another topic I hope to return to), but one thing was clear: whoever it was, was likely to die soon.

So the table was definitely set when I got the call that Dad had possibly had a stroke, but certainly was in a bad way health-wise. My brother and I dropped everything and high-tailed it to Arizona, and Dad died a little more than a week later. As soon as we arrived, it was terribly obvious that Dad was in very bad shape, and not likely to recover. His Christian science beliefs were only part of the complex of issues that added up to too little too late.

In that very odd world of hospice, when the mind gets endlessly caught up in trivial details like urine output, the astro-brain engages the “when” question, because there’s really not much else that makes any sense. The macro view of the solar return had performed, but what is the difference between Sunday and Monday?

Let’s be frank. Most astrological techniques are not really developed to work in total real time. When my partner Maggie’s Mom died, transiting Saturn was a day from conjunct Maggie’s natal Moon. Not bad! But still an orb. My solar return showed the year. My lunar return for the month in which he died (a technique I almost never use) had a fixed grand cross straddling my natal angles, with Uranus right on the 8th house cusp and the 8th house ruler Jupiter right on the 4th house cusp opposed by Mars; and the forming Saturn-Neptune opposition on my 1st-7th axis. It is the worst looking lunar return for this year, although upcoming July doesn’t look so great. So this focused November to December as the peak point. But do we always get the juicy transits on the “right” day?

I have found over time that when I am searching for the hit within a week’s time, more often than not, I get the real precision out of diurnals. Diurnals are a modern technique that is calculated by taking the time, time zone, and location of the Native’s birth, and inserting today’s (or whatever desired) date. What you then look for is angle hits: exact to the degree, transiting or natal, because the angles move by about a degree per day.

The hint that it’s time to consider diurnals is something big, with no logical transit to set it off. By logical transit, I mean something bigger than the Moon sextile a totally unrelated planet, i.e., a planet that is neither in a relevant house, nor ruling one.

Since I ended up sing diurnals to rectify my own chart, have also applied them to this kind of quotidial effect, to very interesting results.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Astrology is not Inherently Esoteric

One of the ideas floating around the astrological community is not merely the idea that astrology is intrinsically esoteric, but that this is a good thing. Part of my problem with this idea no doubt revolves around definitions, but I think this idea also masks a couple of other underlying assumptions which are not terribly benign.

Esoteric knowledge is hidden knowledge. Ok, easy enough. But that raises the questions: hidden by whom? Hidden from whom? And what is knowledge, anyway? If your cosmology is that astrology was created by and maintained by the Divine, whoever and whatever that is, and that primary knowledge does not and cannot reside in human beings, then, yes – astrology must have and does have an esoteric component, if only because Divine knowledge and Divine will is rarely if ever transparent to mere mortals. However, if this is true of astrology, wouldn’t it be equally true of every other form of knowledge which relates to the divine? Why should astrology be unique?

Most of what we call astrology in either the West or India either originated with or was strongly influenced by the Babylonians. Francesca Rochberg, in her 2004 book which is listed in my bibliography post, addressed this issue of what divination meant to the Babylonians in great detail. Simplifying somewhat, in the Babylonian cosmology, all people were slaves of the gods. The king might be way up the ladder from everybody else, but even he was at best an overseer. But ho do you know what your masters want? The Babylonians believed that the gods spoke to humans through omens. Anything that happened that was out of the ordinary was potentially an omen, hence a message from the gods. At first, these omens might be seen as applying primarily or exclusively to the king, as it was his job to relay these commands. But eventually, omens that happened to you and to you alone could be seen as your personal message. Among the possible omens were the celestial omens. And eventually, the birth itself could be seen as a personal omen.

If interpreting the omens is at heart what astrology is, then why would those gods not want us to be able to decipher the message???

I believe that a lot (I won’t say all) of what gets touted as esoteric has a lot more to do with human power games than with anything divine. There’s good communication and teaching, and bad communication and teaching. If I acquire a skill and then I either cannot or won’t teach it to others, what good did it do for the human race for me to have gotten it in the first place? Where’s the divine logic in that? Now, it’s one thing to say that the acquisition of knowledge requires sequencing. That’s like saying that in order to understand radioactive decay, I first have to understand atomic theory. Fine. But if I understand decay, and you have only gotten as far as atomic theory, I am not “better” or “more evolved” than you are. I’m simply further along the learning curve, which is not a value judgment at all.

Get a grip. Learn what you can. Teach others. Have fun. Move on.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Books I've read recently of interest to Astrologers

  • Burnett, Charles, Jan P. Hogendijk, Kim Plofker and Michio Yano, Ed. 2004. Studies in the History of the Exact Sciences in Honour of David Pingree. Brill: Leiden.

  • Connor, James A. 2004. Kepler's Witch. An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of his Mother. HarperSanFrancisco: San Francisco.

  • French, Roger. 2003. Medicine before Science. Cambridge University Press: New York.

  • Gutas, Dimitri. 1998. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture. Routledge: London.

  • Ho Peng Yoke. 2000. Li, Qi and Shu : An Introduction to Science and Civilization in China. Dover: New York.

  • Ho Peng Yoke. 2003. Chinese Mathematical Astrology. RoutledgeCurzon: New York.

  • Hogendijk, Jan P. and Abdelhamid I. Sabra, Ed. 2003. The Enterprise of Sciences in Islam. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

  • Lucas, John Scott. 2003. Astrology and Numerology in Medieval and Early Catalonia. Brill: New York.

  • McEvilley, Thomas. 2002. The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies. Allworth Press: New York.

  • Newman, William R. and Anthony Grafton. 2001. Secrets of Nature. Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe. The MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

  • Noegel, Scott, Joel Walker and Brannon Wheeler, Ed. 2003. Prayer, Magic and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World. Univ. of PA Press: University Park.

  • Pingree, D. and C. Burnett, Ed. 2004. Studies in the history of the exact sciences in honour of David Pingree. Brill: Leiden ; Boston.

  • Possanza, D. Mark. 2004. Translating the Heavens. Aratus, Germanicus and the Poetics of Latin Translation. Peter Lang: New York.

  • Rochberg, Francesca. 1998. Babylonian Horoscopes. American Philosophical Society: Philadelphia.

  • Rochberg, Francesca. 2004. The Heavenly Writing. Divination, Horoscopy and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture. Cambridge Univ. Press: New York.

  • Rubenstein, Richard E. 2003. Aristotle's Children. How Christians, Muslims and Jews rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and illuminated the Dark Ages. Harcourt: New York.

  • Tinniswood, Adrian. 2004. By Permission of Heaven. The True Story of the Great Fire of London. Riverhead Books: New York.

  • Turner, Gerard L'E. 2003. Renaissance Astrolabes and their Makers. Ashgate: Burlington, VT.

  • Twicken, David. 2000. Classical Five Element: Chinese Astrology Made Easy. Writers Club Press: Lincoln, NE.

  • vanden Broecke, Steven. 2003. The Limits of Influence. Pico, Louvain and the Crisis of Renaissance Astrology. Brill: Boston.

  • Walters, Derek. 2005. The Complete Guide to Chinese Astrology : The Most Comprehensive Study of the Subject Ever Published in the English Language. Watkins/Duncan Baird: London.