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.



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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2 Responses to Horary with Whole Sign Houses

  1. Mark Cullen says:

    If we accept horary is divination I am rather suspicious of retrospectively analysing a chart decades later using a different house system from the astrologer involved. That astrologer is intrinsically tied up in the question so their initial choice of house system is surely part of the whole divinatory dynamic?

    The issue of using whole sign houses in horary is a question I have pondered for several years. Living in a fairly northern latitude in Scotland I became uncomfortable with the extremely stretched and shrunken houses systems like Placidus and Regiomontanus produce. I understand the issues of shorter/longer ascensional rising times of zodiacal signs cannot be avoided in any house system. As I see it its not a question of imposing an artificial symmetry but restoring the houses as units of 30 degrees to match the solar ingress through the zodiac. But all quadrant systems which rely on the MC for the 10th house systems face the dilemma of the MC falling closer and closer to the ASC-DESC axis as you travel further north. I have been very satisfied overall with the results whole sign produces in natal combined with Equal houses. I have seen many examples where IMHO the Whole sign or Equal house rulers seem more accurate than Placidus or Regiomontanus house rulers. One can still use the MC as a sensitive point relating to career.

    Yet despite this experience I have never been comfortable to utilise Whole sign for horary work. How can I reconcile this apparent contradiction? The question arises do different types of astrology work better with different branches of astrology? This is an idea Bernadette Brady has floated. I know a lot of astrologers subscribe to the ‘Highlander’ school of house systems ie ‘there can only be one!’’. However, maybe we need to be more flexible in our outlook and see house systems as part of our tool kit we dip into depending on the issue we are exploring?

    Moreover, there is a deeper philosophical issue at stake relating to the extent of freewill and determinism in each branch of astrology. In particular does natal astrology allow for more free will to be expressed than a horary? I would suggest it does. In a natal chart you have a full lifetime to live out the potentiality given to a person. Hence over time even planets in succedent and cadent houses will get an airing. But horary deals with a very narrow frame of reference in time and space regarding a question. Quite often the issue has already been decided before the question is even asked. You don’t get much more fated than that! In that context it seems to me angularity and planetary strength assume a pivotal role in horary. I accept they are important in all charts. But in horary it seems absolutely crucial. If we accept Robert Schmidt’s theory the quadrant systems were developed as a system to illustrate planetary strength rather than house rulership quadrant systems are potentially an invaluable tool in horary too. So rather than an either or approach perhaps the two systems can be worked together. It seems like the Perso-Arabic astrologer Masha’Allah worked like this.

    As for the historical arguments for house systems in horary I note one of our earliest sources Hephaistio of Thebes seems to have been using Porphyry houses in relation to questions. I understand Benjamin Dykes has proposed that Abu’Mashar may have used whole sign houses for horary but I don’t believe any chart examples have been found to substantiate this claim.
    One interesting issue that may provide an interesting comparative study for the issue of Whole Sign houses in horary is the use of Whole sign houses for questions or prasna in Indian astrology. Traditional Indian astrology relies on two house systems. Whole sign as found in Hellenistic astrology and Sripati which is a variant of Porphyry where the house cusps are placed in the centre rather than the beginning of houses. I am currently checking to see if Whole sign houses are extensively used in the Indian equivalent of horary known as prasna. While whole sign horary may seem initially bizarre to those trained in a Lilly/Renaissance astrology mindset it would interesting if it turns out Whole sign houses has been used in Indian astrology since the early medieval period.

    I think the acid test in comparing the Whole Sign or Equal for horary is matters relating to the 10th or 4th house which produce a different planetary ruler in quadrant systems. Your article gives an example where the 4th house house ruler stays the same in Whole sign or quadrant house systems. A better comparison would be one where the 10th/4th house rulers differ. This is where I would suggest further research on this question should be concentrated.

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your very thoughtful comments. In this post I was experimenting with Whole Sign houses to see if the meaning would change substantially. As you pointed out, Cornelius had recast the chart into topocentric, so he did not respect the original house system that the chart was cast in despite his firm belief that horary is a divinatory art that depends on the participation of the querent and astrology at the unique moment of asking the question.

      Years ago when I was doing a lot of horary charts, I tried the experiment of using a different house system for a specific period of time. What I found was that questions that came when I was using one house system gave different answers than would have been the case in another house system in which cusps changed signs. In other words, the questions that came to me were suitable to the house system I was using at the time. I remember one instance in which I was in a “Regiomontanus” period and someone called with a horary question. An unbidden prompting urged me instead to cast that chart with Koch houses, which had different cusps than Regio would have, and the outcome was quite clear and satisfactory with Koch but it would not have been with Regio. Cornelius would probably say that the horary daemon had manifested in the prompting, which I then followed.

      Another weird instance occurred when I was writing a book about horary. I wanted a chart to illustrate a certain point Lilly made but I couldn’t find one in my files. Often when this happened, someone within days would ask me a horary question that necessitated the point I was trying to cover.

      In short, my goal in recasting some well-known horaries in Whole Sign houses is simply to see what happens and what I can learn about the workings of astrology. I am convinced that whatever house system the sincere astrologer happens to be using at the time will “attract” questions that can be answered in the chosen system. It’s similar to the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

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