Perfection by opposition: a horary by Masha’allah

Masha’allah (730-815 CE) was a Jewish astrologer from Basra who converted to Islam. His books were very influential in teaching the methods of horary astrology. In his work On Reception he gives several case examples, among which is the following, which demonstrates perfection by opposition. The interpretation below draws heavily from Masha’allah but also includes my own understanding of the chart.

A man asked the astrologer whether he would “acquire a kingdom” in the year 791 AD, that is, whether he would succeed in being granted rule over a particular region of the greater kingdom at the time. From Masha’allah’s description of the chart, it was cast for a location near Basra in modern Iraq on 21 April 791 at about 10:13 AM LMT.  I am unable to reproduce exactly the positions in the original text, but a chart cast in the sidereal zodiac according to the method of Sri Yukteswar and with Alcabitius houses comes very close. Here is my modern version of the chart:


With Cancer rising, the querent is signified by the Moon in Libra in the 4th house. The man with whom the querent must negotiate to obtain the position is shown by the Capricorn 7th house, ruled by Saturn.

Saturn happens to be in the 10th house of the position which the querent wishes to acquire. Aries is the sign of Saturn’s fall, so the querent must negotiate with a “fallen” or corrupted Saturn (7th house ruler) to secure his advancement. Perhaps this man will require some kind of bribe in exchange for assisting the querent. Clearly Masha’allah did not know about the existence of Pluto, but it is striking that on the day of the horary question Pluto was stationary and turning Retrograde in the 7th house, which symbolizes the man the querent had to negotiate with to get the advancement he desired.

The Moon (querent) occupies the exaltation of Saturn but applies to the “fallen” Saturn through an opposition. It will not be easy for the querent to secure his promotion. With Saturn in its fall, the querent (Moon) may need to grovel before Saturn, or in the verancular, “kiss his ass” and “grease his palm.” And because Saturn is involved, the querent can expect hardships and delays in obtaining the position.

Saturn’s placement in the 10th of career describes the desired post. Saturn in his fall is debilitated and despised. Fall is the opposite of exaltation in which everyone is singing Saturn’s praises. In his fall, everyone is heaping insults upon him. Thus, even if the querent obtains the position, there will be something about it that he hates, or those whom he governs may despise him.

With Aries on the cusp of the 10th and the Sun (exalted in Aries) therein, the significator of the desired position is best symbolized by the Sun, a natural ruler of royalty and those in authority.

The outcome was that the querent did receive the command but there was a delay of about 15 days, as indicated by the fact that the Moon (the querent) reached the domicile of the quesited (the 10th house) and  conjoined 7th-ruler Saturn 14 days after the question, indicating that he was appointed on that day. Masha’allah’s idea seems to be that the querent’s significator,the Moon, being received by Saturn in his exaltation (Libra) and then opposing Saturn turns over the matter to Saturn as its final arbiter. The conclusion of the matter will only occur when the Moon (querent) bodily conjoins Saturn which received the disposition of the Moon and became its final arbiter. Because the Moon is at the beginning of Libra and will need to reach Aries to conjoin Saturn, Masha’allah estimates that it will take about 15 days for this conjunction to occur (since the Moon moves through six signs of the zodiac in half a month).

In addition, though Masha’allah does not mention this fact, it took 15 days of ephemeris time for the Moon to reach the position of the Sun (the command) in the 10th house. Here is the original horary chart advanced exactly 15 days from the time of the question. As you can see, the Moon (the querent) has moved to conjoin the position of the Sun (the position desired) in the original chart. In addition, Mars, which rules the 10th and disposes the horary Sun, has moved into the Cancer 1st house, which rules the querent.


It is also interesting in the chart for 15 days later, Venus in Aries disposes the Sun, now in Taurus. Venus is received by Mars in Cancer in the 1st and has just completed a square to Mars, indicating his receipt of the position with some stress (the square) involved.

As the chart indicated (fallen Saturn in the 10th), the querent was not especially happy with the new position. In Ben Dykes translation, the new command is called “a middling thing” that was “of little advantage” and of paltry usefulness. The fact that a debilitated Saturn in the 10th, being opposed by the Moon (querent), did not entirely deny his advancement was shown by the strength of the Moon, Saturn and the Sun in the angles of the chart, especially with the Moon (querent), so close to the IC, making the Moon the most angular planet. Even though Saturn being in its fall in the 10th indicated that the position was hateful, the angularity of the significators “fixed”, that is, settled the matter of receiving the position in his favor.

This chart is an example of William Lilly’s dictum that “I have rarely seen anything brought to perfection by this way of opposition, but the querent had been better the thing being undone…” (CA, p. 125). In other words, be careful what you ask for; you just may get it.

Original material on this blog is copyright Anthony Louis, 2017.


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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One Response to Perfection by opposition: a horary by Masha’allah

  1. ayves says:

    I fully realise I still do not understand reception. Thank you.

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