William Lilly often used horary charts to advise his clients about a best course of action. A good example of such a “Should I?” question appears in England’s Prophetical Merline. On 24 June 1644 (NS) at 10:30 AM, a woman asked Lilly “if she should marry the elderly man.” Here is a close approximation to Lilly’s chart cast by a modern computer:
Mercury, lord of the Ascendant, and Jupiter, lord of the hour, are both rulers of the airy triplicity. On page 298 of Christian Astrology, Lilly writes that the Question is radical or fit to be judged “when the Lord of the ascendant and hour be of one nature or Triplicity.” In addition, although Lilly doesn’t use dodecatemoria, the 12th part of the Ascendant lies at 16 Pisces where it conjoins the 7th cusp in a chart about a marriage question.
Mercury rules the Ascendant and thus signifies the querent. The Moon co-rules the querent.
Jupiter rules the 7th and thus signifies the elderly man who is proposing marriage; Jupiter also rules the marriage contract.
Lilly notes that the querent’s rulers (Mercury and Moon) are each recently separating from the quesited’s ruler (Jupiter) and asks the woman whether she has recently been negotiating with the old man about a marriage contract. He also points out that Mercury (the querent) occupies Cancer, the sign of exaltation of Jupiter, who in turn trines the Ascendant (the woman), which Lilly interprets to mean that the elderly gentleman has been in hot pursuit of the querent whose ruler (Mercury) is passing through a place which Jupiter loves to visit because he can bask there in exaltation. She confirms that such is the case.
Lilly next notices a transfer of light in that the Moon, which has just left a square with Jupiter, is applying to sextile malefic Mars, which both rules and occupies the unfortunate 8th house. In short, the Moon is carrying the light from Jupiter, ruler of the 7th of potential marriage partners, and passing the nuptial light on to Mars, a general signifier of virile young men, thus imbuing Mars with her desire for a mate.
In addition, Mercury (the querent) next applies to square Mars from the 11th house of the woman’s hopes and wishes. Lilly takes this to mean the the woman has the hots for some Mars-like captain or hunky soldier who will end up disappointing her because neither of her rulers (Mercury and the Moon) has “any dignities in either the sign or degree of Mars,” that is, her rulers are not passing through a place toward which Mars feels any special affinity and vice versa. In addition, Mars in the 8th and the Moon in the 6th are both in unfortunate houses. The woman bursts into tears and acknowledges that Lilly is correct in his suspicions.
Below is the table of dignities for this chart. As you can see, neither the Moon nor Mercury has any dignity in Aries, the sign occupied by Mars. In addition, the degree occupied by Mars is not within the dignities of either the Moon or Mercury. There is nothing by way of essential dignity that brings Mars together with the querent’s rulers. (I am using the Dorothean terms and triplicities; Lilly preferred the Ptolemaic system.)
Though Lilly does not call our attention to it, Mercury in Cancer also lies in the fall of Mars. In addition, Mars is the malefic of the contrary sect and, as ruler of the 8th house, he is likely to do harm to the querent rather than act to her benefit. Lilly refers to Mars in this chart as the “impediting” planet, which I assume means that he expects Mars to impede her marriage prospects.
Mars both rules and lies in the 8th, which happens to be the 2nd of the 7th, signifying the elderly man’s financial assets. From this Lilly concludes the that old man’s money, or lack of it (malefic Saturn in the 8th), will impede the marriage. With this in mind, Lilly advises his client to require that her elderly suitor put up or shut up. She should ask him to give her a “jointure” (a property deed or other valuable tangible asset) if he wants to go forward with the marriage contract. Her suitor reveals that he can’t produce a jointure because there this a legal claim on his land (which he had conveniently forgotten to tell her about). Lilly continues, “after this they broke off all negotiations of marriage, exactly as I told her.”
So the answer to her horary question was: no, you should not marry the elderly man.
Here is Lilly’s original interpretation of this chart:
This is from Lilly CA 298: