What did Lilly mean by “hardly”?

Lilly tells us in Christian Astrology (1647) that things “go hardly on” when the Moon is void of course.  The modern meaning of “hardly” is “barely or scarcely,” but did it mean that in Lilly’s time?

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary:

“hardly (adv.)  c. 1200, “in a hard manner, with great exertion or effort,” from Old English heardlice “sternly, severely, harshly; bravely; excessively” (see hard (adj.) + -ly (2)). Hence “assuredly, certainly” (early 14c.). Main modern sense of “barely, just” (1540s) reverses this, via the intermediate meaning “not easily, with trouble” (early 15c.).”

According to Wiktionary:


1 – (manner, obsolete) Firmly, vigorously, with strength or exertion.

2 – (manner, archaic) Harshly, severely.  [I can’t really deal hardly with people.‎]

3 – (now rare)  With difficulty.  (1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essayes, London: Edward Blount, OCLC 946730821, Folio Society, 2006, vol.1, p.234:
And what gentle flame soever doth warme the heart of young virgins, yet are they hardly drawne to leave and forgoe their mothers, to betake them to their husbands […].)

4 – (degree) Barely, only just, almost not.”

In other words, the word “hardly” originally meant “in a hard manner, with great effort”. In the 14th century, “hardly” was synonymous with “assuredly and certainly, vigorously, firmly.”  A century later (early 15th century) the meaning changed to “not easily or with trouble”.  And after yet another century (by the year 1540) the meaning of “hardly” reverses and it now signifies “barely, scarcely, almost not.”  However, in 1603, John Florio used “hardly” to mean “not easily or with difficulty.”

Lilly wrote during the 1600s when “hardly” commonly meant “barely, scarcely, almost not,” though there were still remnants in 1603 of the somewhat older usage of the term as “with trouble or difficulty.”  Let’s take Lilly’s original phrasing and substitute some of the synonyms:

Lilly’s original wording: All manner of matters go hardly on (except the principal significators be very strong) when the Moon is void of course.

Meaning in 1700s: All manner of matters go barely, scarcely, almost not on (except the principal significators be very strong) when the Moon is void of course.

Meaning in 15th century: All manner of matters go on not easily, with trouble, with difficulty (except the principal significators be very strong) when the Moon is void of course.

Etymology suggests that in the 17th century Lilly meant that matters go barely on or almost do not proceed when the Moon is VOC, but he probably also had in mind the more archaic meaning that matters proceed with great trouble or difficulty (not easily) when the Moon is void.

By way of review:

When I first read Lilly back in the 1980s I approached him with the modern idea of VOC in my head (that the Moon perfects no further aspects before leaving its sign) and did not really understand that he meant something different until after further study of writings.  Here are some relevant quotes from Lilly:

  • “All manner of matters go hardly on (expect the principal significators be very strong) when the Moon is void of course; yet somewhat she performs if void of course and be either in Taurus, Cancer, Sagittarius or Pisces” (CA, p.122).  The Moon is exalted in Taurus, domicile of the lesser beneific Venus.  The Moon rules Cancer.  Sagittarius and Pisces are the domiciles of Jupiter, the greater benefic.  A VOC Moon is one of Lilly’s considerations before judgment.
  • A Planet is void of course, when he is separated from a Planet, nor does forthwith, during his being in that Sign, apply to any other:  This is most usually in the Moon … You shall seldom see a business go handsomely forward when this is so” (CA, p. 112)
  • “Separation, is in the first place, when the two Planets are departed but six minutes distance from each other” (CA, p. 110)
  • “Venus has a platic trine, or is in a platic trine to Saturn, because she is within the moiety of both their Orbs; for the moiety of Saturn, his rays or orbs, is 5, and of Venus 4, and the distance betwixt them and their perfect aspect is eight degrees.” (CA, p. 107)
  • “I will againe insert the Table of the quantity of their Obs, … they stand thus as I have found by the best Authors and my owne Experience.” (CA, p. 107):
  • Lilly is listing the radius of the orbs, and the “moiety” is half of that radius.  By adding the moieties of two planets Lilly calculated the maximum distance those planets could be apart and still considered within aspect of each other.Let’s look at an example of Lilly’s use of Void of Course.  On page 385 of CA Lilly discusses a horary chart about a question “A lady, if marry the gentleman desired?”  Here is the chart:

    Lilly writes: “finding the Moon separated from void of course and applying to an opposition of the Sun, lord of the ascendant, did argue there was small hopes of effecting her desire, because she herself, by her own perverseness, had done herself so grand a mischief.” (CA, p. 386)

    Lilly’s table (above) gives 17 degrees to the Sun and 12.5 degrees to the Moon.  The sum of the two moieties is 1/2 of (17 + 12.5) or 14.75 degrees.  Thus, when the Moon is within 14.75 degrees of the position opposite the Sun, it is applying to oppose the Sun.  The Sun is at 5 Cancer 30, so subtracting 14.75 degrees, we find that the Moon enters into opposition with the Sun when it reaches  20 Gemini 45.

    The Moon’s last Ptolemaic aspect was an opposition to Mercury at  16 Gemini 23.  The Moon began its separation from that aspect (adding 6′ of arc) at 16 Sag 29 and was then Void of Course until the Moon reached 20 Sag 45 when it began to apply to an opposition with the Sun.  Hence, the Moon was VOC in the middle of Sagittarius from 16 Sag 29 until 20 Sag 45.  This is very different from the modern concept of void of course, which is based on a misunderstanding of Lilly promulgated by A.H. Morrison.

    To get back to the question that started this line of inquiry, is the Moon VOC if she is applying to aspect the North Node?  Lilly writes: “A Planet is void of course, when he is separated from a Planet, nor does forthwith, during his being in that Sign, apply to any other.”  The Moon’s North Node is a point and not a planet, so it does not meet Lilly’s definition.  Planets reflect the light of the Sun; chart points don’t.

    Modern astrologers will ask when aspects to the “modern” planets should be taken into account.  Strictly speaking, the modern planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) were not known in ancient times so the literature is silent about them.  Neptune and Pluto cannot be seen with the naked eye, but Uranus can be.  The ancients did not discover Uranus because it was so faint and they did not believe another planet could exist.  Their minds were blind to what their eyes could see if they only looked for it.

    Because Uranus can be seen with the naked eye, it clearly has an orb (based on the intrinsic light of a star or the reflected light of a planet).  Thus, by extension of classical principles, at least Uranus should count in determining whether a planet is void of course.  One could argue that Neptune and Pluto have tiny orbs that are too hard to see without a telescope.  Nonetheless, they do reflect the light of the sun, and so they also have orbs.

    Each horary astrologer will have to decide on experience which path to follow.  Traditional astrologers will pretend the modern planets don’t exist and that human history stopped in the 17th century.  Modern astrologer must live with greater ambiguity and uncertainty about what works in the modern world.

    Deborah Houlding has an excellent discussion of the classical theory of aspects at her site skyscript.co.uk, and Peter Stockinger discusses the idea of ‘void of course’ on his starsandstones blog

    Hellenistic VOC:  Chris Brennan has an interesting discussion of the various definitions of void of course as they relate to Obama’s nomination at his political astrology blog.  Chris notes the following:

    “Recent translations of some ancient Greek texts from the first few centuries of the Common Era have shown that the original definition of the void of course Moon is that the Moon does not complete any exact Ptolemaic aspect with any other planet within the next 30 degrees, regardless of sign boundaries.”


Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Culpeper with Whole Sign Houses

I thought it would be interesting to look at a classical medical horary from Nicholas Culpeper with Whole Sign rather than Regiomontanus houses.  On 25 July 1651 OS (3 August 1651 NS), Culpeper received a letter from a student of medicine and astrology asking his opinion of the following chart.

Culpeper horary2

The chart was a medical horary cast regarding the illness of a neighbor’s wife.  The symptoms had begun in the lower parts of her body and had spread upward as far as her tongue and lips. The woman was afraid she had been cursed and wanted to know the nature of her illness. The student noticed that Libra was on the cusp of both the 1st (the querent’s body) and the 12th (witchcraft), but he also noted that the ruler of the 6th of disease (Mars) was in the 1st, so a natural disease was more likely.

Culpeper responded that the proximity of Asc-ruler Venus to Saturn could also indicate witchcraft, but he did not believe that to be the case because the Moon separating from  a trine to Mars and applying to trine Venus indicated both the querent’s honesty and the progression of the disease.  He then reasons that the Moon, Mars, Saturn and Venus are all in fertile water signs, and the Moon lies in the 5th house of children, so it is likely that the woman is pregnant.  In addition, hot dry Mars rules the 6th of disease and its presence in watery Scorpio (the reproductive system) suggests that hot vapors are rising up through the body from the pregnant womb, causing the woman’s symptoms.  Cold dry Saturn in watery Cancer is causing the phlegm and difficulties in her chest and lungs.

And sure enough, the woman was pregnant.

How would this chart look with Whole Sign houses?  Here is the chart for 3 August 1651 NS with the calculation of planetary placements by computer, so the positions are a tiny bit different from Culpeper’s calculations by hand with the ephemeris of his time.

Culpeper horary3

In the Whole Sign houses chart, Jupiter now rules the 6th of illness.  Jupiter in Sagittarius has the powerful dignity by domicile and is in close trine to the Midheaven degree at 0 Leo 48 in the 11th house (the Good Daemon), which signifies the offspring of her 7th house husband, symbolized by Mars.

The Moon, a universal signifier of pregnancy and motherhood, occupies the 6th of disease in the fertile water sign Pisces.  The Moon often indicates the emotional state of the querent.  In this case she is worried about a mysterious illness.

The Moon’s last aspect was a trine to Mars in Scorpio in the radical 2nd house, which is the 8th house of the reproductive organs of her 7th house husband signified by Mars.  In other words, her “illness” stems from her recent past encounter with her husband’s reproductive organs.

The Moon’s next aspect is a trine to Venus in Cancer in the 10th.  Venus represents the querent, thus linking the recent past contact with Mars to the querent, resulting in her pregancy.  Culpeper used only the seven visible planets, so the next aspect the Moon makes after contacting Mars (the husband’s phallus) and Venus (the querent) is a trine to Saturn in the fertile sign Cancer, with Saturn ruling the radical 5th of pregnancy and children.

What about witchcraft?  As Culpeper points out, Saturn and Venus are in proximity.  In addition, the ruler of the 12th of witches is the Whole Sign chart is Mercury which is separating from Saturn, probably indicating the querent’s worry that her illness could have been caused by a curse.  In addition, the Moon after contacting Saturn by trine goes on to contact Mercury.  In other words, first came the pregnancy, and then came the worry about witchcraft.


Horary Louis

Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged | 1 Comment

Another horary with Whole Sign Houses

My most recent post about horary with Whole Sign houses produced a number of strong reactions, so I thought it would be useful to look at another chart from the literature from the perspective of Lilly’s framework of Regiomontanus houses (based on divisions of the Celestial Equator) and perhaps the original framework of horary which was done using Whole Sign houses (based on division of the ecliptic into signs of the zodiac).

In the October/November 2004 issue of the Mountain Astrologer there appeared a discussion of a horary about a haunted house.  The author Trish Marie noted that an innocent query, “Should we purchase this property?” produced a horary chart that suggested a haunted house.   I would like to revisit this chart using both Regiomontanus and Whole Sign houses to see how the interpretations might differ.

Here is the chart with Regiomontanus houses, which Lilly would have preferred.

haunted 1

It is a Mercury day during a Sun hour, and there are several considerations before judgment.  As Lilly writes in Christian Astrology:

All the Ancients that have wrote of Questions, do give warning to the Astrologer, that before he deliver judgement he well consider whether the Figure is radical and capable of judgement; the Question then shall be taken for radical, or fit to be judged, when as the Lord of the hour at the time of proposing the Question, and erecting the Figure, and the Lord of the Ascendant or first House, are of one Triplicity, or be one, or of the same nature.

Here the lord of the Asc and the lord of the hour are Mars and the Sun respectively.  They are not of the same triplicity but both are of the same nature, hot and dry.  In addition, the Sun applies closely to sextile the Ascendant.  By this criterion, the chart appears radical and fit to be judged.

Lilly goes on the name several “considerations before judgment,” some of which apply to this chart:

Late Degree Rising:

If 27, 28, 29 degrees ascend of any Sign, it’s no ways safe to give judgement, except the Querent be in years corresponding to the number of degrees ascending; or unless the Figure be set upon a certain time, viz. a man went away or fled at such a time precise; here you may judge, because it’s no propounded question.

In the horary 29 Scorpio is rising, which warns the astrologer that it is in “no ways safe to give judgment” unless the querent is 29 years old or the number 29 otherwise precisely describes some other aspect of the situation.  I don’t know the age of the querent in this case.

Moon in Via Combusta:

It’s not safe to judge when the Moon is in the later degrees of a Sign, especially in Gemini, Scorpio or Capricorn; or as some say, when she is in Via Combusta, which is, when she is in the last 15 degrees of Libra, or the first 15 degrees of Scorpio.

In this chart the Moon at 26 Libra lies in the dreaded Via Combusta, another warning that the chart may not be safe to judge.

Saturn in the 7th house (of the consulting astrologer), etc.:

Saturn in the seventh either corrupts the judgement of the Astrologer, or is a Sign the matter propounded will come from one misfortune to another.  If the Lord of the Ascendant be Combust, neither question propounded will take, or the Querent be regulated.  The Lord of the seventh unfortunate, or in his fall, or Terms of the Infortunes, the Artist shall scarce give a solid judgement.

In this chart Saturn lies in the 7th house, warning the astrologer of corrupted astrological judgment.  The ruler of the 7th house astrologer is Venus which lies in the Terms of Mars (an Infortune) and is also without essential dignity, suggesting that “the Artist shall scarce give a solid judgement”.

Moon Void of Course:

All manner of matters go hardly on (except the principal significators be very strong) when the Moon is void of course; yet somewhat she performs if void of course, and be either in Taurus, Cancer, Sagittarius or Pisces.

Modern astrologers would consider the moon VOC in this chart, but Lilly would not because the Moon is within orb of a sextile to Mars at 5 Capricorn 54.  I use Lilly’s defintion of VOC and would not consider this “consideration before judgment” to be active in this chart.

Clearly, the horary chart is warning the astrologer not to attempt to find an answer to the question in this chart because the astrologer’s judgment will be corrupted.

If we decided to ignore the warnings of the heavens against reading this chart, what could we say?  Most likely we would note that Jupiter, ruler of the Pisces 4th house, represents the property.  Mars rules the Ascendant (querent) and applies to oppose Jupiter in the 8th house, so the purchase of the property is not a good deal and is likely to be costly and problematic.  The property itself looks quite valuable since Jupiter, ruler of the 4th, is exalted in Cancer.

Now here is the chart for the same question cast with Whole Sign houses:


With Whole Sign Houses the situation looks quite different.  There is still a late Ascendant, warning the astrologer to be cautious about rendering a judgment but Saturn has moved to the 8th house and no longer corrupts the judgment of the astrologer.  Venus still rules the 7th cusp of the consulting astrologer but has now moved to the angular 10th house, which gives Venus a lot more strength than the cadent 9th house of the Regiomontanus figure.

The real estate is now ruled by Saturn (Aquarius 4th cusp) rather than Jupiter.  The Ascendant ruler (Mars) is in aversion to Saturn, so there is no connection between them. Mars is also in aversion to Venus, the ruler of the 7th house seller.

The Moon, a co-ruler of the querent, is just separating from a sextile to Venus, the seller, so again they do not connect.  The Moon does not apply to aspect Saturn (the house) and will soon be in aversion to Saturn when the Moon enters Scorpio.

All indications are that the querent should not buy this house.  The only “consideration before judgment” is that there is a late degree rising, which could be the age of the querent (I don’t know).  It could also be that the querent asked the question at the last minute, and in the article we learn that the querent did not even read the astrologer’s written response to the question until after going to the bank to make financial arrangements.

What is the condition of the house in this chart?  Saturn lies in the unfortunate 8th house, suggesting problems with the property.  Saturn lies in Gemini, an air sign, so it has dignity of triplicity.  There are some good things about the property.  Neptune and Uranus in the 4th (Aquarius) suggest that there are strange and mysterious things going on, and we learn in the article that the locals believe the house is haunted and that people seem to had have bad luck or have even died in unusual circumstances when they were connected with this property.

Interestingly, the author Trish Marie states that she felt a very powerful gut feeling that she should interpret the chart (cast with quadrant houses) despite the many “considerations before judgment”.  The Part of Daimon (Spirit) in this chart lies at 28 Libra, conjunct the Moon and sextile to Venus (the consulting astrologer).  It appears that the “Spirit” (Lot of Daimon) moved her to provide an answer to the querent despite her knowledge of the traditional rules of horary which advised strongly against trying to read this chart.  In the Whole Sign chart the warnings against reading the chart are minimal or entirely disappear.

Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Horary with Whole Sign Houses

In his booklet on Whole Sign Houses (ARHAT, 2000), astrologer Rob Hand maintains that the earliest texts on horary astrology use Whole Sign houses.  He also gives an example of a client whose father went missing and for whom he did a horary chart to determine what happened to the missing person.  Hand analyzed the chart using both Koch and Whole Sign houses and came to the same conclusion.  While I doubt that this would always be the case, I wondered if it would be true with another famous case of a missing father, which was solved using horary astrology.

In 1926 the London Evening News published an account of the discovery of a missing person through a horary chart.  The astrologer William Frankland received a phone call from a woman whose father had gone missing on 20 February 1926.  The horary chart was cast for 22 February 1926 at 4:45 pm GMT in London.  A detailed account of this event can be found in Geoffrey Cornelius’ book The Moment of Astrology. The chart below is cast with topocentric houses, as displayed in the book by Cornelius, but more likely Frankland used Placidus houses because Wendel Polich & A. P. Nelson Page only proposed their system for the first time in an article in 1963 (my thanks to Mark Cullen for pointing this out).


William Frankland reasoned that the Placidus 4th house, which contains Saturn in Scorpio, represented the father.  The applying square between Saturn and Neptune in the 12th conjunct the ASC suggested a negative outcome.  Mars, which rules the 4th, is tightly opposed to the Moon, ruler of the Cancer 12th, in the radical 11th, which is the derived 8th house of death from the 4th of the father.  Frankland’s summary was that:

There was probably death by water, in a stream or canal [Cancer suggests running water]; South and a little West [Mars in Capricorn, a southern sign on the western side of the chart]; not exactly near the home but at no great distance [Mars in a succedent house]; in a place where there are sheds, tools and boat, at a rather barren place [Capricorn, Saturn].”

The father’s body was found in a canal in a location as suggested by the chart.

Here is the same chart with Whole Sign houses.


The question was asked on a Moon day during a Sun hour. The Sun rules the Ascendant, suggesting a radical chart. The Moon in the 12th house indicates the daughter’s upset about her missing parent.  The Sun in the 8th probably reflects her concern that the father might have perished.

Here the father is again represented by the Scorpio 4th house with Saturn therein.  Mars has moved to the cadent Whole Sign 6th house.  The radical 11th, ruled by Mercury in the radical 8th of death, is the derived 8th of the 4th, that is, the death of the father.  The Moon, ruler of the unfortunate 12th, is separating from Mercury in the 8th of death (and ruler of the father’s derived 8th of death) and is closely applying to oppose Mars, ruler of the father.

Interestingly, Venus is the almuten of the radical 8th of death; and Venus is also the dirunal triplicity ruler of the planets Mars (the father), Saturn in the 4th, the Moon (ruler of the 12th), the Sun in the 8th, and Uranus in the 8th (sudden or unexpected death).

Another feature of this chart is that Valens’ Lot of Accusation at 10 Libra 34 (which projects the combined maleficity of Mars and Saturn from the Ascendant) almost exactly conjoins Venus, almuten of the 8th and a general signifier of young women, like the querent who phoned about her missing father.  The Spanish literature refers to the Lot of Accusation as the Part of Infortunio (adversity, misfortune).  Curtis Manwaring describes it as follows:

Lot of Accusation:

  • [Day] Lot = Ascendant + Mars – Saturn
  • [Night] Lot = Ascendant + Saturn – Mars

“According to Valens this lot indicates the house [sign] through which the native is likely to experience failure, dangers, or downfalls. This lot is also known as the lot of injury and sometimes the lot of being away from home.”  — Curtis Manwaring

In conclusion, it does seem (at least in this case) that the topocentric and the Whole Sign house systems lead to a similar conclusion.


Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Stolen Fish and the Transparent Eye-ball

When I was in high school, we were required to read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1836 essay Nature.  At the time I loved spending time hiking in the woods, so a particular passage really stuck me about enjoying the solitude of uninhabited places in nature:

“There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite spaces, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”

My first thought on reading this passage was, ‘Is this guy nuts?’,  but I was struck by the poetic wording, and the image of the transparent eye-ball stuck with me like a pop song that you can’t get out of your head.  Trying to understand what he meant by a “transparent eye-ball”,  I checked a book of the essays and journals of Emerson out of the library and read through much that he had written.  In one of his notebooks Emerson commented on Socrates Daemon:


“Can you believe, Waldo Emerson, that you may relieve yourself of this perpetual perplexity of choosing? and by putting your ear close to the soul, learn always the true way. I cannot remark but how perfectly this agrees with the Daimon of Socrates.”

Emerson then quotes Plutarch:

“Socrates, warned by his Daemon to change is road, walked another way saying that the change was the ‘will of admonition’ of his Daemon.  His friends went wearily on, but were overturned by a herd of swine.  So it was shown that Socrates’ Daemon never forsook him.”

As an adolescent, while I was reading these essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, I had also begun my study of astrology.  It occurred to me that what astrologers were attempting to do was to act like “transparent eye-balls” and to “put their ears close to the soul” to “learn the true way” as it might be revealed in an astrological chart.

In recent years I have been studying Hellenistic astrology in which Socrates’ Daimon is represented by the Lot of Spirit (aka, the Lot of Daimon).  In the technique of Zodiacal Releasing, this Lot of Daimon progresses through the birth chart, revealing the lessons and challenges that unfold during each period of the native’s life.

I first got interested in horary astrology in the 1970s and worked my way through the books by Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson (published in 1960) and Barbara Watters (published in 1973) on this topic.  During the 1970s I also read  Zadkiel’s abridged edition of Lilly’s work which was available through Dover Books, but it seemed rather obscure and dense at the time.  In the 1980s I got more serious about Lilly and spent several years carefully studying Christian Astrology (1647, the Regulus Edition), and it occurred to me that horary astrology was perhaps the most obvious way in which Emerson’s ideas about the “transparent eye-ball” and Socrates Daimon manifest in the field of astrology.  In 1994 Geoffrey Cornelius in his book The Moment of Astrology made explicit the connection between horary and the Daimon.  An excellent example of this connection occurs in Lilly’s horary about the stolen fish.

Lilly tells us that he had bought some fish in London to be delivered by barge to his home. Unfortunately on the day he expected delivery a waterman informed Lilly that the warehouse had been robbed the the fish stolen.  Lilly noted the exact time (20 Feb 1638 NS, 9 AM LMT) he got this news, and he cast a horary chart to find out what had happened to his fish and perhaps recover his stolen goods.

stelen fish3

The above chart is for Saturday 10 Feb 1638 (OS).  Below is the chart for Saturday 20 Feb 1638 NS at 9 AM LMT, which shows the Lot of Daimon (Spirit) in Aquarius in the 10th Whole Sign house.

Stolen Fish

Lilly does not discuss the Part of Spirit in this chart, but let’s look at what Daimon is doing.  The Lot of Daimon lies in the 10th house in Aquarius.  Daimon is applying to the prenatal lunation, which was a New Moon at 25 Aquarius.  Saturn is the lord of the Lot of Daimon, and Saturn is receiving a superior square from a retrograde and peregrine Jupiter on the Western horizon.  So Jupiter is annoying the lord of Lilly’s Daimon with a square, and Lilly decides to cast a horary chart to discover who stole his goods.  It appears that Lilly is “putting his ear close to the soul” and taking the advice of his Daimon to cast a horary chart, perhaps enlist the aid of 10th house individuals, and pay special attention to the upcoming lunation.

Lilly first notices that Jupiter is without essential dignity on an angle, which in horary means that Jupiter in Scorpio could well be the thief, as could Mars in watery Scorpio as the ruler of the 7th cusp.

Lilly’s missing goods are shown by the 2nd house of movable goods (Gemini, ruled by Mercury in watery Pisces in the 11th) and by the Lot of Fortune (in watery Cancer, ruled by the Moon in Taurus).  As ruler of the Ascendant, the Moon rules Lilly as well as his Lot of Fortune.  The applying sextile of the Moon to Mercury means that Lilly will get his goods back, but they may not be in great condition because Mercury in Pisces is in its detriment and fall (opposite Virgo).

Next Lilly notes that Mars, ruler of the 7th cusp and dispositor of Jupiter, the thief) is at the very end of his home sign Scorpio and about to change to the new sign Sagittarius.  To Lilly, this means that the thief has recently sold land or changed residence.  Living in a small town, Lilly does some sleuthing and discovers that a jovial fisherman, known for thievery, has recently moved to a new home.

Armed with this evidence and his horary chart, Lilly convinces a justice of the peace to issue a warrant so that a constable can search the house of the suspicious fisherman for Lilly’s fish.  Lilly postpones the search until Sunday, 28 Feb 1638 NS, to take advantage of the Full Moon bringing matters to light.  Note that his Daimon lies in the 10th house of civil authorities like justices of the peace and the constable, and his Daimon is applying to the prenatal New Moon in Aquarius, suggesting that Lilly wait until the next lunation, the Full Moon of 28 February, to go after the fish.

Here is the original horary chart, now advanced 8 days to 28 February 1638 at 9 AM, the day the Lilly went with the constable to the thieving fisherman’s house to recover his stolen goods.  Note that Daimon, which prompted Lilly to cast the horary chart and wait until the Full Moon to serve the warrant, is now exactly on the Descendant, the cusp of the Regiomonatus 7th house, which represents the thief.  Daimon has led Lilly to the site of his stolen goods at the home of the thief.  Of course, at the Full Moon Lilly’s Daimon is with the Lot of Fortune which symbolizes his material possessions.


Although it is not typical horary practice, Lilly’s example of the stolen fish suggests that it might be quite useful to listen to the promptings of our Daimon as evidenced by the symbolism of the Lot of Spirit in our horary charts.

Here is a table of the Zodiacal Releasing from Daimon (Spirit) for the original horary chart. As you can see, the Daimon has moved from Aquarius into Pisces on 28 February 1638, the date of recovery of the stolen fish represented by Mercury, ruler of the 2nd, in Pisces.

Lilly summarizes his findings as follows:

Lilly concludes

John Frawley has an interesting discussion of this chart at http://www.astrologiaoraria.com/frawley2Eng.html.


Tarot Basics

Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Death of Pico della Mirandola

One of the famous predictions in the history of astrology was that of the death of Pico della Mirandola, the precocious young philosopher of 15th century Italy who wrote the key text of Renaissance humanism and the Hermetic Reformation.  Based on his philosophical beliefs, Pico was an ardent critic of predictive astrology.  Legend has it that in retaliation for this criticism, three astrologers of Florence studied Pico’s birthchart and predicted that the life of their philosophical enemy would end before the completion of his 33rd year.  We must remember that this was a period in which the prevailing religious authorities felt justified in torturing and killing anyone who disagreed with their opinions about dogma, so we shouldn’t fault the three astrologers too much for wishing Pico dead. To do so was part and parcel of the culture of the time.

Sure enough, Pico died on 17 November 1494 (OS) at the age of 31. He never reached his 32nd birthday, which would have taken place in February of 1495.  The average lifespan of Renaissance artists was about 63 years, and death at age 31 was certainly uncommon.

What might the Florentine astrologers have seen in Pico’s chart to make such a formidable prediction? During the Renaissance there was a rebirth of interest in Ptolemy and the use of primary directions in which one degree of movement of the MC in right ascension was equivalent to one year of life. According to the birth chart for Pico available at the time, when his MC advanced 33 degrees of Right Ascension (to his 33rd year of life), his Ascendant advanced to the position of Mars in his birth chart.  Mars, being malefic and opposing the Moon in the 8th house of death, was thus a symbol of his potential demise.

Pico face2

Pico was born 24 February 1463 (OS) in Modena, Italy.  The astrologer Girolamo Benivieni, a personal friend of Pico, had cast his chart with a birth time of 20:39 LMT (2h 42 m after sunset).  Here is the chart or a close approximation to the one used by the astrologers to predict Pico’s early demise.


Pico’s natal chart

The Renaissance astrologers looked at the Right Ascension of the 20 Cancer 59 MC, which is  11241′.  They then calculated the number of degrees of change in the MC which would be required to bring the Ascendant to natal Mars, as in this chart:


Pico’s natal chart advanced to 10:59:44 pm LMT with Ascendant conjunct the body of Mars (age 36)

The MC of this latter chart lies at 25 Leo 42, which has a Right Ascension of 147o  58′.  The difference between the MC of the natal and this “directed” chart is  14858′ – 11241′ = 3617′, which in Ptolemy’s measure (one degree = one year of life) means that Pico might die by the age of 36.  It may be that the Italian astrologers who predicted his demise by the time of his 33rd year of life were using a slightly later Ascendant, or much more likely they were measuring the number of degrees of Right Ascension it took for the MC to advance so that the directed Ascendant reached exactly 13o Scorpio, which is the degree containing Mars, thus forming a partile conjunction of the directed Asc with natal Mars, (in theory, primary motion directs Mars to the Asc, but in practical terms the effect is the same).  Here is the chart:


Pico’s natal chart advanced to 10:55:25 PM LMT with Ascendant entering 13o Scorpio (age 34)

The MC of this third chart lies at 24 Leo 35, which has a Right Ascension of 146o  53′.  The difference between the MC of the natal and this chart is  14653′ – 11241′ = 3412′, which in Ptolemy’s measure of one degree per year of life means that Pico might die by the age of 34.

In fact, Pico died on 17 November 1494 (OS) at age 31, during his 32nd year of life, probably poisoned by one of his enemies.  Pico had a rather provocative style (Sun opposite Uranus) and was known to fool around with the wives of some prominent and powerful Italian men, who didn’t take kindly to his dalliances. Around the time of his death, Pico had become friends with Girolamo Savonarola, the fanatical Dominican friar, and thereby enemies with Piero de’ Medici who may have had him poisoned with arsenic.  Given Pico’s personality style and extreme political and religious views, even a non-astrologer could have predicted his early demise as the hands of a powerful enemy.

As a check on the Renaissance Italian astrologers’ prediction, we might look at the Hellenistic technique of Zodiacal Releasing from the Lot of Fortune, which shows what befall the body.  Here are Pico’s ZR periods from Fortune as calculated in Elías D. Molins’ program AstroSpica.


In Level 1, Pico is passing through a Virgo period, which is his 12th Whole Sign house.  This activates Uranus in the 12th and the Sun and Venus in the 6th, with Venus ruling his 8th house of death.  In his houses measured from Fortune, Venus also occupies his derived 8th house of death.

In Level II, Pico is in a Gemini subperiod.  Since Gemini is a mutable sign, this also activates his natal 12th and 6th houses (Virgo and Pisces, respectively).

In Level III, Pico is in a Capricorn subperiod, with Capricorn being his 4th house of the end of life.

In Level IV, Pico is in a Scorpio subperiod, which will change to Sagittarius at 19:55 in the evening.  This activates his natal Mars in Scorpio (death by poisoning?) as well as the opposite natal 8th house of death.  Also activated are the many planets in fixed signs: Pluto in Leo (which is also activated by primary direction), the Moon in Taurus in the 8th of death, malefic Saturn in Aquarius in the 5th (did he have an affair with someone’s wife which lead to his being poisoned?), and Mercury in the 5th (with Mercury ruling his 12th of secret enemies).

The 15th century astrologers were not aware of the existence of Pluto but it is striking that around the time of Pico’s death, by primary direction, there is a conjunction of the Asc with Mars and of the MC with Pluto, a modern symbol of death and the underworld.

Finally, here is a printout from Janus software of the converse primary directions for Pico from the ages of 30 to 37.  These are Placidus semi-arc mundane directions using the time key of Naibod (the Ptolemy key gives dates about 6 months earler than Naibod in this list).


Looking at these directions for the period surrounding his death in November of 1494, we see

  • Saturn opp. Uranus (in 12th of secret enemies).
  • Jupiter conj. Mercury.
  • Ascendant conj. Mars (2 Dec 1494; death was 17 Nov 1494).  Mars rules the Dsc which opposes the Asc, and this opposition can mean a threat to bodily integrity.
  • MC opp. Saturn, malefic of the contrary sect in this night chart.  (Saturn rules his end-of-life 4th house and the 5th house of love affairs.)

Thus, regardless of whether the story of Renaissance astrologers accurately predicting Pico’s death is apocryphal, his early demise does seem to be foreshadowed in his birth chart.

Solar Returns

Book Review: http://www.skyscript.co.uk/rev_returns.html

Posted in Astrology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The logic behind triplicity rulers

Recently I’ve been thinking about triplicity rulers and wondering about the logic behind the different systems.  I first learned triplicity rulers from William Lilly’s Christian Astrology (1647) and later learned the Dorothean system from Dorotheus’ 1st century work Carmen Astrologicum.  The two systems have some similarities and some important differences.

As a refresher, here is the Dorothean system of triplicity rulers:

And here is Lilly’s more simplified version which he attributes to Ptolemy:

As you can see, Lilly assigns only two rulers to each triplicity (day and night rulers) whereas Dorotheus assigns three (day, night and participating rulers).  Both authors use the classical seven visible planets. It appears that Lilly has greatly simplified the Dorthean system by eliminating the “participating” ruler of the triplicity.  In addition, Lilly appears to have eliminated the day and night rulers of the water triplicity and used only the participating triplicity ruler, Mars.  In doing so, Lilly almost certainly introduced an erroneous understanding of Ptolemy into the astrology of his time.  Interestingly, Claude Dariot, a predecessor of Lilly (Christian Astrology, 1647), wrote a book in 1557 in which he gave VENUS as the day ruler of the Water triplicity and MARS as the night ruler.  Like Lilly, Dariot did not use the participating rulers.

Here is a table I put together to illustrate the logic behind the triplicity rulers:


William Lilly appears to have selected the domicile ruler of the fixed sign of each triplicity as its principal triplicity ruler by day.

  • For diurnal Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), Lilly’s day ruler is the Sun, which rules fixed Leo.  This leaves Jupiter as the night ruler.  Mars cannot be used because it is of the nocturnal sect and is quite malefic in a day chart.
  • For nocturnal Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn), Lilly’s day ruler is Venus because Taurus is a fixed sign.  His night ruler is the Moon which is exalted in Taurus and is the leader of the sect.
  • For diurnal  Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius), Lilly’s day ruler is Saturn because Aquarius is a fixed sign.  Even though Saturn is a malefic, it is a member of the day sect, and its more positive attributes are likely to manifest in a day chart.  Lilly’s night ruler is Mercury, which rules Gemini.  Venus cannot be used because it is of the nocturnal sect.
  • For nocturnal Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces), Lilly’s day ruler is Mars because Scorpio is a fixed sign. His night ruler is also Mars, but there is little logic in his position because both Venus and the Moon are available to be used as triplicity rulers of Water.

Dorotheus uses the domicile rulers of the fixed signs as well as the exaltations of the planets in his system of triplicity rulers.  The sect of the planets is also of paramount importance.

  • For diurnal Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), Dorotheus uses as his day ruler the SUN which is exalted in Aries and also rules the fixed sign Leo.  Jupiter (domicile ruler of Sagittarius) becomes the night ruler.  Mars cannot be used because it is of the nocturnal sect.  Saturn, as the remaining member of the diurnal sect but which is not a domicile ruler in Fire, becomes the participating ruler.
  • For nocturnal Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn), Dorotheus uses as his day ruler VENUS which rules the fixed sign Taurus, and as his night ruler the MOON which is exalted in Taurus.  Mars, which is exalted in Capricorn, becomes the participating ruler.  [It is notable that Mercury rules Virgo and is exalted there, but does not appear as a triplicity ruler of the Earth signs, probably because Mercury’s sect varies according to its position relative to the Sun.   Pingree, however, in his translation of the Arabic version of the Carmen Astrologicum does have the phrase, “in Virgo there is also a participation of Mercury,” so it appears that either Dorotheus or his Arabic translators considered the idea of Mercury as a triplicity ruler of the earth signs.  At least one modern practitioner of Hellenistic astrology, Rafael Gil Brand, uses Mercury in this way.]
  • For diurnal  Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius), Dorotheus uses as his day ruler SATURN, which is both exalted in Libra and ruler of the fixed sign Aquarius.  Mercury, as ruler of the air sign Gemini, becomes the night ruler even though it is of variable sect because there is no other choice among the possible planets to rule this sect.  Jupiter, as the remaining member of the diurnal sect but which is not a domicile ruler in Air, becomes the participating ruler.
  • For nocturnal Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces),  Dorotheus uses as his day ruler VENUS which is exalted in Pisces, and as his night ruler MARS which rules the fixed sign Scorpio.  Mars cannot be a day ruler because it belongs to the nocturnal sect and is quite malefic in a day chart.  The Moon, which rules Cancer, becomes the participating ruler because it is neither exalted nor the domicile ruler of a fixed sign in the Water triplicity.

It seems to me that Dorotheus’ system has a tightly reasoned logic, whereas Lilly’s system makes little astrological sense, especially as regards the water triplicity.  Why would an astrologer grant primary dignity to Mars as a day ruler of the water signs in a diurnal chart in which Mars is the malefic of the contrary sect and capable of such grand maleficence? Because Scorpio is a member of the water triplicity, Mars has some dignity as a participating triplicity ruler, and this does serve to mitigate its malevolence a bit in a day chart; but Mars remains the malefic of the contrary sect and an extremely problematic planet during daylight hours.


complete tarot book




Posted in Astrology | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments