Lilly on Prohibition in Horary Astrology


In traditional horary astrology a client (the querent) asks the astrologer a question, and the astrologer then casts a chart for the moment and location where she or he understands what the querent is asking.  The astrologer then identifies pertinent significators (planets) in the horary chart to symbolize the querent and the matter asked about (the quesited).  To indicate that the matter will come to pass, the horary chart must show the significators applying to perfect a Ptolemaic aspect or to otherwise come together, as by transfer or collection of light.

Sometimes other planets in the horary chart interfere with the process of coming together of the relevant significators.  There are several forms of such interference with names like refranation, evasion, abscission, prohibition, etc.  In this post, I’d like to explore some of Lilly’s ideas about “prohibition” in horary.

According to William Lilly (CA, p.110), first

Prohibition is when two Planets that signify the effecting or bringing to conclusion any thing demanded, are applying to an Aspect; and before they can come to a true Aspect, another Planet interposes either his body or aspect, so that thereby the matter propounded is hindered and retarded; this is called Prohibition. For example, Mars is in 7. degr. of Aries, and Saturn is in the 12. Mars signifies the effecting my business when he comes to the body of Saturn, who promises the conclusion, the Sun is at the same time in 6. degr. of Aries. Now in regard that the Sun is swifter in motion then Mars, he will overtake Mars, and come to Conjunction with Saturn before Mars, whereby whatever Mars or Saturn did formerly signify, is now prohibited by the Sun his first impediting Mars and then Saturn, before they can come to a true Conjunction. This manner of prohibition is called a Conjunctional or Bodily prohibition; and you must know that the combustion of any Planet is the greatest misfortune that can be.”

I. Here is a diagram of Lilly’s first type of prohibition by body or conjunction:

—  Sun (6 Aries) –> Mars (7 Aries) ———–> Saturn (12 Aries) ——-

Note that Mars and Saturn are both combust the sun and thus quite debilitated.  The Sun travels faster than Mars and therefore reaches Saturn before Mars does, so that the union of the two significators (Mars and Saturn) suffers “bodily prohibition” by the Sun and thus the “matter propounded is hindered or retarded.”  It is also noteworthy that Lilly differs from  Abu Mash’ar who regards prohibition as two significators applying to an aspect but having a third planet between them which will arrive as the second significator before the first one does.

II. Lilly continues:

The second manner of Prohibition is by Aspect, either Sextile, Square, Trine, Opposition, viz. when two Planets are going to Conjunction [to a major aspect]; as Mars in 7 degree. of Aries, Saturn in 15 of Aries; let us admit the Sun in 5. degr. of Gemini; he then being more swift then Mars in his diurnal motion, doth quickly over-take and pass by the Sextile dexter of Mars ( and comes before Mars can come to Conjunction) to a Sextile dexter of Saturn: This is called Prohibition by Aspect, in the same nature judge if the Aspect be Square, Trine, Opposition.”

Here is a diagram of Lilly’s second type of prohibition by aspect:

—————————–   Mars (7 Aries) ————–> Saturn (15 Aries) ——-

——————- Sun (5 Gemini) casts sextile to Aries

The Sun is traveling faster than Mars, so its sextile first connects with Mars and then with Saturn, before Mars is able to reach Saturn, and thus prohibits the conjunction of Mars and Saturn from being fully effective (“the matter propounded is hindered or retarded”).

Here is an example of prohibition from the horary literature.  In 1928 a 37 year old physician asked astrologer Robert DeLuce whether his proposed marriage to a woman in her 20s would take place.  There were apparently problems and disagreements within the couple, and the woman’s parents were opposed to the marriage. Here is the chart with Placidus houses, which DeLuce used in his horary practice.

Deluce marriage

It is a Saturn day during a Mercury hour. A retrograde Saturn rises in the 1st, which is usually a negative indicator in horary charts. The Moon’s South Node conjunct the Ascendant also suggests some type of decrease or loss.

The querent is signified by Jupiter (Sagittarius rising) in Aries in the 5th, so he may have passionate romance on his mind. The querent’s co-ruler Moon lies in the 7th, conjunct the 7th cusp, so his feelings are focused on the impending marriage and his bride-to-be.

The quesited young woman is shown by a quite dignified and strong 7th-ruler Mercury in Gemini in the angular 7th.

Will Mercury (the young woman) come together with Jupiter (the querent) in holy matrimony?

Mercury and Jupiter will form a perfect sextile in 10 degrees. Traditionally Jupiter is given an orb of about 10 or 12 degrees but Mercury is allowed about 7 degrees, so they are slightly out of orb but Mercury is quite strong and dignified and a marriage is possible. On the negative side, Mercury occupies Gemini, the detriment of Jupiter, indicating problems with the potential union. In other words, the querent may view the bride-to-be as working to his detriment.

A more serious problem is that the very next aspect which Mercury completes is an opposition to Rx Saturn in the 1st house. Oppositions bring separations, and Saturn symbolizes obstacles and delays. Furthermore, Rx Saturn could mean a turning back or change of heart.

Thus before Mercury (the young woman) can reach Jupiter (the older doctor) to perfect the marriage-granting sextile, Mercury’s opposition to Saturn “prohibits” the sextile of being effective and no marriage will take place.

If we take the Moon to be the querent, then the Moon’s application to conjoin Mercury (the quesited) in the 7th could indicate that the marriage will take place. But again, as we advance the chart in real time, before the Moon can reach Mercury to consummate the marriage, Luna will first oppose the Rx Saturn in the 1st and the doctor will pull out.

Here is the chart for the moment that the Moon opposes Rx Saturn in real time. Note that the Moon has not yet perfected its conjunction with Mercury, so that the opposition to Saturn prohibits the marriage from taking place at the last minute. Interestingly, in this chart Saturn rules the Aquarius 7th of marriage, and the Moon rules the 12th of isolation and withdrawal. Here the Moon in Gemini lies in the triplicity of Saturn, so there is an opposition with reception of the Moon by Saturn.

doctos pulls out yes

OUTCOME: DeLuce tells us on p.141 of his horary book that in the end “there was a disagreement and the match was permanently broken off.”

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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3 Responses to Lilly on Prohibition in Horary Astrology

  1. Thanks Tony

    Enviado desde mi iPhone

  2. Sean says:

    Hi Anthony Louis ,

    I enjoy your blog – and your book too , still my go-to reference for a lot of things. great book indeed, no question about it.

    Well anyway though just this issue of prohibition matters however, is like the final piece of the puzzle that yet still seems a bit elusive and then some, still always a bit thorny.

    So just on a couple of points – that would interested to perhaps know what your views are regarding them..

    I have a handful of horary books at this stage , one of my books (by Karen Zondag) – makes a point of saying steadfastly in her text that a prohibition can only inhibit the matter if is a tense or hard aspect involved.

    Yet this would seem to be standing in contradiction to Lilly (as per above , where sextiles and trines can be offending culprits too)
    , and indeed in one of my other Frawley related books (called Horary Examples) – whereby
    even the harmonious aspects (sextiles and trines) can indeed most definitely inhibit.

    {
    Although of note – (there is mention in one example whereby
    the prohibiting planet – is actually ruled by the original applying planet – or disposits to it, such that the prohibiting planet then
    has no power over the original applying planet – such that a prohibition did not then occur in that case,
    (which i found interesting as was the only mention of it anywhere that i
    ever saw, and so that in that particular case therefore as a result…no prohibition was to be counted, but again there is not hardly much mention of this kind of thing in other books or in social media groups etc., which seems a little strange to me, oh well)
    }

    One book that helped a lot get a handle on honing down the issue on whether to count as fully inhibiting prohibitions or not is the book Horary Astrology re-examined by Barbara Dunn, whereupon: prohibitions of various kinds (or gradations) are explored
    such that a trine to Jupiter with reception may count as only a dubious interference, or that is to say not enough to deny the matter, only instead to cause some kind of disruption, delay or bumpy interference. Yet however that said – this way of thinking still yet seems to be strongly standing contrarily to my other Frawley related book, whereby there is one interesting horary example (pg. 134)…of the issue as to whether Britain would join the euro (back in 1996) Venus and mars are applying to a (albeit wide orb) sextile yet before that happens Venus makes an applying trine to Jupiter – and the author makes a point of saying that this outright prevents
    the matter. So that again,…my point being, seems to be somewhat a quite stark different view in place here once again such that any cutting of the light so to speak destroys the matter – . {and again that is to say
    if consider the Barbara dunn way of looking at it – a trine to Jupiter may not be as big of a deal here, or certainly not as bad as a sqaure to Saturn
    without reception for example, such that may allow for a yes, with some interference on the way – but another thing….this kind of judging seems to be a bit arbitrary in a sense
    or not concrete enough in order to give definitive rock solid judgements, or possibly some room for error at least,… hmmm)

    Finally , in your book you reference the Mcevers system a number of times. which i happen to like a lot – i find it a bit refreshing in some way, yet for the life of me – it seems quite bewildering how her system can work at all – as there is little or no mention whatsoever of prohibition/frustration issues. In one of her examples (on pg. 31 – should i use conor as my attorney?) she gives a very strong yes
    as answer owing to a moon Venus conjunction, but before that occurs moon will square Pluto, and sextile mars. – so hmmm seems certainly a bit of prohibiting going on here. How on earth her system can be working at all? – Is what i am often wondering, (frustratingly so, 🙂 )

    ok just couple things on the question of prohibition issues. Bit of time over the xmas period – so thought i would post this on here , as always going around
    in my head about it. — Insofar as ironing out some of these baffling confusions, and/or seemingly bewildering contradictions that, as it occurs to me
    at least that seem to be in effect in relation to horary theory/practice. Ok certainly would be interested in any or all points that you may to offer in order to clear the mist of some of these horary confusions of mine, lol 🙂

    ok cheers and best regards. & Seasons greetings too.

    • Hi Sean,

      Thanks for your detailed comments. I must confess that I too have found the issue of “prohibition” confusing in the literature. Different authors do seem to have different understandings.

      The view I have come to is that the chart must tell the story of what is happening in the question. The interpretation must read like a narrative, and the planets are like the actors in a play.

      If the querent (Asc ruler) wants an outcome related to a particular house (quesited), then the planet(s) that signify the querent must somehow come together with the planet(s) that signify the quesited.

      Suppose you want to go to a movie with friend Carl, but on your way to meet up with your friend you run into a girl whom you like and she invites you to have coffee. The meeting with this girl might be signified by a sextile between your ruler and hers. Then this sextile might interfere with (prohibit) your meeting with your friend Carl.

      Sometimes it is hard to know in advance how the “prohibition” will play out, so you may be left with possible options, any of which could occur.

      I think the best way to get a handle of this concept is to study a chart that you know well in which some type of interference or prohibition occurs and to which you know the outcome and the events leading up to the outcome. Then you can trace exactly how the interfering aspect played out in real time. Often there is a surprising twist that did not occur to you when you first studied the chart.

      It’s also important to keep in mind that “prohibition” does not necessarily mean that the outcome will not occur. Lilly says that if there is a prohibition in the chart, “thereby the matter propounded is hindered and retarded.” In the hypothetical example above, you may still go to the movies with Carl, but it may be at a later time or on a different day because, on the way, your preference changed to having coffee with the girl of your dreams.

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