Perfection by opposition: a horary about a kingdom by Masha’allah

(This was originally posted in April of 2017 and was updated with some additional comments about timing and zodiacal releasing on 8 Oct 2017.)

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.

In the year 791 CE, a man asked the astrologer whether he would “acquire a kingdom,” that is, would he 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 Kuwait 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 from his exaltation (Moon in 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).

Masha’alllah on timing.

Masha’allah goes through the following list of factors, in order, to estimate when the matter will perfect:

  1. The number of degrees until the Moon (querent) will perfect the opposition with Saturn (the granter of the kingdom).  In this modern computer chart there are 11 degrees, so it will take about 11 days.  (In Masha’allah’s original chart, there were 6 degrees, so he estimated 6 days.)
  2. If not #1 above, then when the Moon (querent) conjoins Saturn.  By transit, this occurs 14 days after the question.
  3. If not #2 above, then when the dispositor of the Asc-ruler reaches the degree of the Ascendant.  In this case, when Venus, which disposes the Moon, connects with the 13th degree of Cancer (the Ascendant).

Regarding point #3 above, the Holden translation indicates that Masha’allah, eyeballing the chart, estimated it would take about 90 days for Venus (at 17 Pisces in the above chart) to reach the Ascendant at 13 Cancer in the modern chart.  (In the ephemeris Venus reaches the degree of the Ascendant in about 98 days.)  Dykes translates this estimate as about 60 days from the time of the question.  In Dykes translation it must be that Masha’allah is estimating the time it will take from Venus at 17 Pisces to arrive at 13 Taurus, where a very strong Venus in her own domicile and from the very positive 11th house will contact the degree of the Ascendant by an exact sextile, thus perfecting the matter. (In the ephemeris Venus reaches this degree in about 48 days.)

Thus, Masha’allah might have said the querent: “You should know whether you will receive the kingdom in about 11 to 14 days.  If you do not hear within two weeks, however, then there will likely be a delay of one or two months (or, more precisely, 48 or 98 days) until the matter is settled.”  In fact, it took about 15 days (or until 6 May 791) for the querent to learn he had been granted the kingdom; but, as the chart indicated through the opposition of the Moon to a fallen Saturn, he ended up regretting getting what he asked for.

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.

Horary chart advanced 15 days from the time of the question:


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.

An interesting aside:

I wondered if Valens’ method of zodiacal releasing would give any clues about timing.  Because the outcome of the question is outside of the querent’s control (essentially he is asking what fate has in store for him) and the question was about his material fortune, I decided to look at releasing from the Part of Fortune in the chart of the horary question.  Here is what it looked like:


The Lot of Fortune lies in Sagittarius.  On 6 May 0791 the querent received the answer to his question.  On that date zodiacal releasing from Fortune had advanced to Pisces, ruled by Jupiter (benefic of the sect) and occupies by Venus (dispositor of the ruler of the Ascendant).  In addition, Pisces in angular from the Lot of Fortune and thus indicates a peak period.  Thus, it appears that zodiacal releasing from Fortune (the workings of fate) may play a useful role in giving addition information about timing the outcome of horary charts.

How might Lilly have analyzed this chart?

Lilly would have taken the Moon to signify the querent because the Moon rules the Cancer Ascendant.  Jupiter is the exalted ruler of the Cancer Ascendant.

The position sought would be ruled by the 10th house with Aries on the cusp, making Mars the ruler of the quesited.  Saturn and the Sun in the 10th describe the “job,” so there are mixed indications about the quality of the quesited.  Saturn is in a “fallen” state in Aries and the Sun is exalted in Aries.  Thus, the Sun is the exalted ruler of Aries and could possibly signify the job.  Mars, which rules Aries, lies in the unfortunate 12th house in Gemini where it only has dignity by term.

The Moon (querent) does not apply to aspect Mars (quesited), suggesting that he may not get the kingdom he desires because the main significators do not connect.  The Moon’s next aspect is an opposition to a fallen Saturn in the 10th, so he may get the job but he will regret it.

On the positive side, the Sun (exalted ruler of the 10th) is about to change signs into Taurus, which rules the 11th of hopes and wishes of the querent.  Venus, which disposes ASC-ruler Moon, is separating from the Part of Fortune and applying to Jupiter (which rules Fortuna) in the 11th of hopes and wishes.  In addition, Venus in Pisces is in mutual reception with Jupiter (exalted ruler of the Ascendant) in Taurus, so there is a powerful mutual reception between the two benefics which are joined by a favorable sextile.  This is a strong indication that he will be offered the job.

Thus, there are mixed indications.  Most likely he will get the job that he wants, but he will end up regretting having done so.


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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2 Responses to Perfection by opposition: a horary about a kingdom by Masha’allah

  1. ayves says:

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

  2. By reception in this chart, Masha’allah means that (1) the Moon is applying to aspect Saturn (an aspect is necessary for reception) and (2) the Moon in Libra occupies the exaltation of Saturn, so that Saturn can “receive” the Moon from one’s of Saturn’s domains (in this chart, from Libra where Saturn is an exalted ruler).

    In other words, Libra is the sign which Saturn governs as its exalted ruler, somewhat like Kim Jong Un is the “exalted ruler” of North Korea. When the Moon moves through Libra (Saturn’s exaltation) and also makes an aspect with Saturn, then Saturn is said to receive the Moon from his exaltation.

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