Ancient And Modern – Can There Be A Reconciliation ?

The Church and State thing has been an issue for thousands of years and even in the 21st century, so many democracies are still having to deal with interference from and inappropriate influence of religion in the political arena.

Maybe this is an Age of Pisces thing and it will be cleared up over the next 2400 years. Looking at the threatened make up of the Supreme Court in the USA and the influence of Hillsong in Australia, I’m not inclined to hold my breath.

After all Aquarius promises much but often delivers the opposite.

You’d think a subject like Astrology would be free of this kind of thing, but it really isn’t.

We have our own cult like followings where people are inclined to religiously believe what their leaders tell them without actually testing their theories objectively.

There are almost as many different approaches to astrology as there are astrologers but a broad split appears between the ancients and the moderns, those that look to traditional sources of 2000 years ago and others that call themselves evolutionary and will include in their prognostications, any rock that happens to be floating around in the solar system.

The old school has had a big revival in recent years, perhaps this is due to Pluto’s sojourn in Capricorn. Ancient methods have almost taken over the subject since Saturn joined it there in the last two years.

Maybe this will start to break up as Jupiter and Saturn move into Aquarius next year.

Its an interesting point because I first became interested in traditional astrology as Pluto moved from Libra to Scorpio in the early 1980s.

The feel at the time was that astrology had lost some of its sharpness and a focus on horoscope columns and had started to become a place where vague personality descriptions and general positive affirmations were all it had going for it.

Horary astrology with its focus on specific answers to actual questions appeared to be a very useful arrow to have in one’s astrology quiver, so I enrolled on Olivia Barclay’s first correspondence course and attended the Company of Astrologers first summer school.

I loved Horary straight away, learnt a lot from Derek Appleby and John Frawley, but particularly from the master of the art, the 17th century astrologer to Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and many others, William Lilly.

In Lilly’s day, and for all of the preceding centuries, horary was the main branch of the subject.

Natal astrology was not such a big thing then and birthcharts were seldom read for the simple reason that the vast majority of the population had no idea what their birth time and for many even their birthdate was. Some would struggle even to recall their year.

The other fact was that most people had no interest in what ” their sign was “, they were more interested in their chances in not actually dropping dead from the the latest plague.

Unlike many of their modern counterparts, astrologers in those days were not naive airheads. They needed to earn a living and the opportunities for moonlighting as a cab driver or a barista at Starbucks were few and far between.

Also there weren’t so many opportunities to cash in on their skills with the local bookmakers.

You can just imagine it ” Saturn is in Leo so I think I’ll drop a few drachmas on the Christians at the Coliseum on Saturday “.

So astrologers had to come up with a system that accounted for all this and horary was the result.

Horary rests on the principle that everything, even a thought or a question, is a product of a moment in time. Astrology is a code to read the qualities of that moment so therefore it should be possible to reveal that thought and answer that question by looking at the planets positions at that moment.

But one thing that was very clear to me back in the 1980s. This subject of Horary was very, very different to natal astrology.

It had completely different rules which needed to be followed very strictly ( thank you Miss Barclay ).

There should also be no crossover of these rules into Natal Astrology. This was pretty obvious from the start.

For one thing we were warned about the ” Considerations before judgement ” right from the start.

In horary you are advised not to judge a question if less than 3 degrees or more than 27 degrees are rising at the time, and if you do proceed you should recognise that anything you might say would be unreliable because the actual situation was not sufficiently developed for the question to be appropriately answered or it had already been resolved and the issue would not be altered by the reading.

It doesn’t take much common sense to realise why this issue had become a rule. This would be simply because the methods of calculation in those days were not as sophisticated as they are now so there could be genuine errors made over the actual Ascendant.

In natal astrology such an error might not have such a massive impact on the overall reading, and many are done without knowing the birth time at all.

In horary it would be catastrophic, because everything depends on which planet rules the client, so if you got the Ascendant wrong you would be stuffed.

But no-one in their right mind would refuse to read a natal chart because 0 – 3 or 27 – 30 degrees were rising.

Likewise the Moon being Void of Course. This is a very simple thing that applies to horaries only.

A VOC Moon is one where it can make no more aspects to any other planets before it leaves the sign that it is in.

The Moon in horary is the main body that can make things happen because it moves much faster than the other planets. But if the Moon is Void it means that it cannot make an aspect to the planet that signifies the question the client inquired about.

So therefore nothing could happen in respect of the question.

But in recent years I have come across people applying Void Of Course Moons to natal astrology. Therefore if you have one, you won’t come to anything.

Well try telling that to Napoleon then. The Emperor had the Moon in the 29th degree of Capricorn.

I once used this example in an argument with a traditional astrologer, who came back at me by saying that Napoleon didn’t come to anything in the end, because he was exiled on the island of Elba.

Well ignoring the fact that we all come to nothing in the end, even those of us without a Void of Course Moon, this has got to be one of the most stupid arguments I have heard, up there with a recent assertion that Nostradamus predicted that Amy Cohen Barrett would be nominated for the Supreme Court.

This kind of horary / natal cross dressing has become absurd in recent times.

I’m constantly reading that the Lord of this house being placed in that house means doobie doobie dah…

In natal charts – no it doesn’t.

Apart from the simple fact that anyone who calls a house ruler a Lord must be a hipster who travels to meet his ( they are mostly men ) clients on a penny farthing, this really is not a thing.

In horary the rulers of houses are essential, because they represent people and situations relevant to the question.

So if someone asks whether there is a chance of them eventually marrying the charming stranger they have just exchanged phone numbers with in the pub, we need to know where the Ascendant ruler and the 7th house ruler are and see if there is an applying relationship between them, because these are the two planets that signify the people involved.

So if the L1 ( to use the hipster vernacular ) is in the 12th house and L7 is in the 9th but separating from a square aspect to L1, we can confidently tell the client that the hoped for object of their affections has got far bigger and more interesting fish to fry than them and is probably on a plane to New York as we speak leaving them sad and alone.

This kind of thing does not work in natal.

For one thing, applying and separating aspects do not mean the opposite thing. A natal aspect that is applying might be a little stronger than a separating one but that is all.

Without question, the most overrated issue in natal astrology is that of retrograde planets, particularly Mercury.

In horary, retrograde planets are of vital importance.

If the Ascendant ruler is retrograde it immediately shows that the client is going backwards in relation to the question.

Also if in the above example, if the pub charmer’s significator is retrograde in the 9th house, it is therefore applying to the querent’s ruler and so they may well have bought a ticket for the flight but there is every possibility of a rethink and a Rachel / Ross type situation developing in the departure lounge.

But this does not translate into natal. If you have Mercury retrograde nataly this does not make you somehow mentally deficient or uncommunicative.

The transits are not a thing either, although given the widespread belief to the contrary, Mr Geller’s best line to Ms Green would have been ” don’t catch that flight to Paris, Mercury is retrograde and its bound to crash “.

Another very significant thing in horary is that there is a right and a wrong answer. There is a good and a bad from the clients perspective at least.

This kind of thinking does not apply to natal, but it is happening all the time. So many times these days I hear people going on at great lengths about it being bad thing that a planet is in detriment or fall.

So therefore we can write off all Aquarians and Librans can we ?

It’s nonsense. Planetary dignities are important in horary because they give us insight into whether the querent is in a strong or weak position relative to the question that they asked.

It does not translate to natal in the same way.

Also with this confusion of the two different disciplines, we are in danger of moving towards an astrology that is far too binary, all about good and bad, whereas in human behaviour, every planet / sign combination contains features that could be both.

So my feeling about traditional astrology is great, lets use it but keep it within the field that it was principally used in and not bring these outmoded quasi religious concepts into the modern psychological analysis of natal charts.

But I’m not criticising traditional astrologers here, just asking for a clearer distinction between natal and horary.

The same applies the other way.

Because horary has had a lot more exposure in recent years, all and sundry are trying their hands at it. And you can pretty much guarantee that they haven’t experienced the pleasure of receiving their scripts back from Olivia Barclay with loads of red biro lines crossed through their observations.

So what tends to happen is that they approach a horary in much the same way as they would look at a natal chart and go by the feel of the symbols in a general way.

This is a serious mistake and can very quickly lead into difficulties. Because horary has strict rules which you can’t get round by a vague bit of catch all cod psychology.

If your client had come to you asking would they get the plague, which given 2020’s experience is probably a frequently asked question, you could not get round it by telling them to eat all their greens and adopt a positive attitude.

It is a simple yes or no answer.

Nowadays anyone can ask a horary and get the chart up on their phones, but they might not have had the time to develop the skills required to read it properly.

In natal astrology this might not be considered such a problem but with horary it is easy to get completely the wrong answer.

I see frequent examples of this from modern astrologers. They treat a horary as if it were a natal chart and set about interpreting it without even beginning to assess which planet actually rules the querent or even the thing enquired about.

Another thing about horary is it is incredibly specific and therefore the question asked of one should be very tight.

It does not respond that well to open ended or should I do this questions.

A horary chart will very neatly describe the situation that the client is in but its main purpose is to give an indication of what will happen.

A fascinating example of what this ancient art can do was provided for me by a client a few days ago.

My client was recently laid off work because of Covid and is living with her mother.

They live in a relatively expensive area and were considering moving away to another state because housing would be cheaper there.

The client’s uncle lived in this other state and had applied for a job elsewhere and had offered to rent his house to his sister and niece in order to help them out.

So my client ( who is relatively new to horary ) drew up the following chart asking whether it would be a good thing to move to this area.

As soon as she saw it she was horrified.

The T Square with an exact opposition between the Moon in the 12th and a retrograde Mars in Aries focusing onto an apex Saturn / Pluto conjunction would be enough to scare anyone.

She was immediately inclined to see that a move would be a very bad thing.

A few days after drawing this horary she contacted me and asked for advice about it.

My answer was that the horary might not actually be saying what she thought it was.

I talked her through the horary rules and we quickly spotted that the planet that signified her was Mars, in its own sign Aries but retrograde in the 6th house.

This was an excellent description of her situation. She was strong but currently unemployed due to a health epidemic ( ticking the retrograde in the 6th box twice ).

The fact that Mars was square an equally retrograde Saturn was a worry but I explained that Saturn was ruler of the 4th house.

This question was not simply about the 4th house unless that was referring to her current dwelling, but it could equally refer to her mother who was in the same place.

In this case Saturn, the mother was retrograde in her own 12th house suggesting that she was perhaps imprisoned by the current situation.

The key to this is the Moon.

The Moon is just separating from an opposition to Mars ( the querent ) and Saturn ( her mother ) and also void of course, suggesting that nothing would come of it anyway.

But this chart is not about moving generally, it is about the specific offer of the uncle’s house.

How to find the uncle in this chart ?

His house would be the 3rd ( sibling ) from the 4th ( mother ), therefore the 6th. The ruler of the 6th is Mars ( same as for the client ).

The uncle’s house would be signified by the 9th ruler, because that is 4th from the 6th, therefore the Moon.

I could see that the Moon had just separated from an aspect to Mars and Saturn, so I called my client to say that although the uncle’s house had been recently offered to her, but it would not come to anything. In fact the Moon’s separation to Mars was so close that I suggested he had just recently withdrawn the offer.

My client confirmed that in the few days between her doing the horary and me pronouncing on it, that the uncle had in fact already withdrawn the offer.

The reason for this was that the uncle had applied for a job in a different area and was planning to move. He was unexpectedly turned down.

This can also be seen in the horary as Mars ( ruling the uncle as well as the querent ) was retrograde in the 6th house, so did not get the job he was expecting to.

So what this horary did was show the current situation extremely well and clearly point to an outcome that happened within a few days.

I encouraged my client to ask another horary about moving to that area in general rather than specifically to her uncle’s house and got another outcome altogether, a much more positive one.

This chart was an extremely good example of turned houses and how to find all the people involved in the question.

It is also a reaffirmation about how important it is to ask specific questions.

Horary is an entirely different discipline from natal horoscopy.

Just as in 21st century politics, there should be a separation between church and state, our two disciplines should be considered as independent from each other.

Techniques that apply to one, should not be automatically assumed to apply to the other.

I have been using horary for my clients for 35 years, not 35 minutes.

Anyone that is having difficulty with this method is welcome to contact me for some help at

Posted October 4th 2020


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