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


Tarot Basics

About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
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