Bonatti looks at a horary by Sahl

In his Treatise 6 Bonatti discusses a classic horary by Sahl.  On July 5, 824 OS in the wee hours of the morning someone asked Sahl whether he would acquire a kingdom — a 10th house horary question.  To approximate the chart used by Bonatti and Sahl, I used the following data:

July 5, 824 Julian, 3:29 AM LMT, Usha-Shashi zodiac, near modern Basra, Iraq.  Here is the chart by modern computer, which is very close to the one that appears in Sahl.

Sahl Bonatti

It is a Moon day during a Saturn hour. The querent wants to know whether he will acquire a “kingdom” (position of authority).

The querent is ruled by Mercury (Gemini rising) and co-ruled by the Moon.

  • Mercury is quite dignified in Gemini and is strong (angular) in the 1st house.
  • Moon in the 4th is also angular (strong)  and has dignity as triplicity ruler of Virgo in a night chart.
  • Sahl had the Moon at 19 Virgo, which is in the terms of Jupiter but not in other dignity of Jupiter, so that there is no classical reception of the Moon by Jupiter. In addition, Virgo is a sign of detriment of Jupiter, making it likely that Jupiter will scorn the Moon’s beams emitted from that in hospitable location.

The question (career matter) is signified by Jupiter, ruler of the Pisces 10th cusp.

  • Jupiter is dignified in Pisces and strong (angular) in the 10th.
  • Jupiter is debilitated by its conjunction with the Moon’s South Node.  Sahl has the node at 22 Pisces.
  • Jupiter is very slow in motion, about to make a first station and turn retrograde — a severe debility. Sahl regards stationary planets as “evil” and “inactive,” and he takes a planet that is slowing down to mean that the action or promise of the planet will take longer and longer to manifest.
  • Jupiter will very soon turn Rx, which classically means that it will not behave as normally expected. Sahl gives as keywords for retrograde: disobedient, contradictory, discordant; turning back, taking back, and diversity.  (See Dykes translation, page 53.)

Bonatti indicates that the querent will NOT get the kingdom desired because

  • Mercury (querent) has already perfected a major aspect with Jupiter (the kingdom) and is now separating.  They are moving apart rather than coming together.
  • The Moon (co-ruler of the querent) is applying to oppose Jupiter (the kingdom) from a minor dignity (the term or bound of Jupiter), but Jupiter is essentially stationary and turning retrograde; so that Jupiter is unable to make productive use of the opposition from the Moon, an aspect which in itself means that the matter can be perfected only with much effort and difficulty.
  • Bonatti makes the statement that the querent may not get the kingdom because of illness, arguing that Mars rules the 6th (illness) and receives the Lord of the Ascendant.  On the surface of it, this does not appear to make sense because in late Gemini Mercury (Lord of the Ascendant) is not in any of the dignities of Mars.  Bonatti may have meant to say that Mars (ruler of the 6th of illness) disposes the Aries Part of Fortune (a symbol of material and physical well-being), in which case Mars in Taurus (its detriment) and ruling the 6th could indicate physical illness and failure to acquire the kingdom.
  • On the other hand, Bonatti may be thinking of the fact that Mercury is about to enter Cancer where it will apply to sextile Mars from the dignities of Triplicity and Bound of Mars and thus be received by Mars. In this case, Mars lies in its detriment in Taurus and rules the 6th, whereas Mercury will lie in the Fall of Mars (Cancer), both of which debilitating factors will harm the querent’s chances of acquiring the kingdom. Upon re-reading Sahl, I think this is what Bonatti had in mind. Sahl places Mercury at 27 Gemini and suggests that Mercury, which is traveling fast in direct motion, will soon enter Cancer (2nd whole sign house), implying that the querent wishes to quickly improve his financial status.
  • Both Bonatti and Sahl ignore the fact that Mercury is under the sun’s beams and will be combust the sun when it perfects its sextile to Mars.  Mercury rapidly applying to the Sun does not bode well for his chances to be awarded the kingdom he desires.  Instead it suggests debility and obscurity.


  • Bonatti notes that if Jupiter (which rules the quesited kingdom) were in the house of the quesited (the 10th) and were in good condition and well disposed, then it would signify that the matter will be accomplished.
  • However, in this case Jupiter is stationary turning Retrograde and conjoins the Moon’s South Node (of the nature of Saturn) and is thus ineffectual.  In addition, Jupiter receives no help from benefic Venus, and its last aspect to Saturn was a square.



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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