While browsing the web, I came across an interesting horary chart in which the astrologer reports that he arrived at a wrong answer. Such charts are useful to study because they help us refine our technique. On May 2, 2008, at 10:25 AM in Athens, Greece, a woman asked “Am I pregnant?” after having had sexual intercourse the previous evening.
The astrologer looked in John Frawley’s excellent textbook on horary and found the following “rule” about the judgment of pregnancy, which seemed to apply: “The clearest and strongest testimony is finding Lord 5 in the 1st house, close to the Ascendant. This gives a clear picture of the baby (Lord 5) inside the mother and is a definite Yes. With so clear a picture of the situation, we do not need an aspect linking the mother and the baby”. His only doubt was that the 5th ruler, Mars in this chart, was not close to the Ascendant but instead was 13 degrees distant, so Frawley’s rule did not exactly apply. The astrologer also noted that the Moon, ruler of the Ascendant and of the querent, was separating from a trine to Mars, ruler of the 5th house pregnancy, and concluded that the woman had become pregnant prior to asking the question because the trine had already perfected.
The outcome, on the other hand, was that the woman was not pregnant; and she ended up needing surgery to remove a cyst that was making her unable to conceive. Because malefic Saturn rules the 7th cusp (the horary astrologer) and Jupiter is in his fall in the 7th house, it is not surprising that the astrologer did not come up with the correct answer.
My own take on the chart was different. I prefer to study the chart first and then read the author’s explanation. In this case, I looked at the chart and concluded that the woman was not pregnant. Let me explain my reasoning and discuss some of the issues involved.
Following William Lilly, I reasoned that for an event to occur there must be some action of the planets signifying the event that reaches perfection in the chart. My shorthand for Lilly’s several ways of reaching perfection is, “No aspect, no action.” In this phrase I include translation and collection of light. In the current chart there is no applying aspect connecting the mother and the baby. None of the traditional planets that are relevant signifiers reach perfection. The Moon is the mother, Mars is the potential child, and the Moon and Mars are separating from a trine. There is no impending perfection and thus no pregnancy in this chart.
What about the argument that the Moon separating from the trine to Mars means that she had gotten pregnant prior to asking the question? This is an interesting idea, but it raises the question of what the astrologer understands by the querent’s inquiry and also what it means to be pregnant. The horary chart is not a scientific pregnancy test; it is a symbolic representation of the querent’s concern. I understood the querent to be asking whether she would become pregnant as a result of the recent sexual activity. An applying aspect between the Moon and Mars would mean “yes.”
Scientifically, women can be considered pregnant when a viable fertilized ovum becomes implanted in the uterine wall. After vaginal intercourse hundreds of sperm travel through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes where they may encounter an ovum. If a sperm penetrates the egg, fertilization takes place. The fertilized egg then travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus; and if all goes well it attaches to the uterine lining, a process called implantation, which is the true beginning of pregnancy and starts about 6 days following fertilization. Since the querent had intercourse only the night before, from a medical point of view she could not yet be pregnant. The question becomes whether the fertilized egg will viably implant on the uterine wall. At that point, perhaps 6 days after intercourse, we can consider her pregnant.
Because none of Lilly’s rules for traditional signifiers apply, I concluded that no pregnancy, that is, no implantation would take place. I like to look for other confirmations of the answer, and for this I often turn to the modern planets as secondary indicators if they seem symbolically relevant. In this case Pluto rules Scorpio on the 5th cusp, so that Pluto is the modern ruler of the pregnancy. The Moon (mother) applies to square Pluto, which occupies the mother’s unfortunate 6th house of illness. This confirms the message of the traditional rulers and adds a bit of information. The mother’s state of health (6th house) may be involved in the failure to get pregnant. The Moon (mother) also lies in the baby’s 6th house of illness, so something about the mother is damaging the health or viability of this potential fetus.
If we look deeper into the chart, Mars (the pregnancy) lies in its fall in Cancer. A debilitated Mars supports the initial impression of no pregnancy. Furthermore, Mars is separating from an opposition to a debilitated Jupiter in his fall in Capricorn, and Jupiter rules the mother’s 6th house of illness. Again the message comes through that the mother’s ill health is interfering with the pregnancy.
In horary charts I always look for close conjunctions of significators with fixed stars. In this chart, Mars conjoins Procyon. Robson associates Mars/Procyon with cruelty, violence, scandal, slander, disgrace, ruin, and danger of dog bites. Since Mars signifies the pregnancy, things don’t look too good for this prospective fetus.
The outcome that a cyst was impeding her ability to conceive then becomes clearer from the chart. Jupiter represents growths (like cysts), and both Pluto and Mars can represent surgery. The Moon is past the trine to Mars (she is not pregnant) but applies to square Pluto in the 6th (she will need surgery to remedy her medical condition that is not allowing her to conceive). The fact that she was not pregnant seemed clear from the chart. The cyst and the need for surgery I only saw in hindsight, which can make brilliant astrologers of us all.
Another astrologer looked at the chart from the point of view of Barbara Dunn. It is interesting to see how different astrologers approach the same chart. For my part, I always return to William Lilly when I’m not sure what to do.
Essential Dignities for this horary chart:
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