A Classic Horary by James Wilson – will my friend live or die?


In his 1909 text on Horary Astrology Alan Leo reproduces a classic horary chart by James Wilson, taken from Wilson’s Dictionary of Astrology. In January of 1819 a good friend of Wilson took ill with fever and shortness of breath. Initially it appeared to be a typical winter respiratory illness, which his friend had always recovered from in the past, but this time the doctors became quite concerned that the illness might be more serious than initially thought and that his friend’s life might be in danger. Concerned about the doctor’s medical opinion, of which he was initially skeptical, Wilson cast a horary chart with the question, “Will my friend, Mr. J, live or die?”

The data for the chart are: January 10, 1819, 11:33:36 PM LMT, London, UK. Wilson used Placidus houses as was the custom in the UK at the time due to the popularity of the writings of Placidus among English-speaking astrologers since the end of the 17th century. Here is the chart.

Will my friend Mr. J live or die because of this illness?

The question is asked on a Sun day during a Moon hour. Libra rises, making Venus the ruler of the Querent, James Wilson. Leo on the cusp of the 11th indicates that the Sun is the signifier of Mr. Wilson’s friend, Mr. J.

The Ascendant at 9 Libra 11′ has its 12th part at 20 Capricorn 12′ in the 4th house and conjunct the Sun. The 4th house is the 6th from the 11th, that is, the house of illness of the friend. The Sun is the signifier of the friend, so that the 12th part of the Asc conjunct the Sun in the 4th indicates that the illness of his friend is on Mr. Wilson’s mind. The Sun is conjunct Jupiter, ruler of the radical 6th, which is the 8th of death the 11th house friend, and Mr. Wilson is concerned that his friend might die of the illness.

The Sun, which rules his friend, is without essential dignity in the friend’s derived 6th house of illness. The Sun applies to Jupiter, ruler of the friend’s 8th of death and also peregrine and in Fall in Cancer, which is an indication of approaching death. The Sun and Jupiter are only 3d 42m of arc apart, indicating that the death may not be far off. In the ephemeris, the Sun will conjoin Jupiter on Friday January 15, 1819 at about 5 PM LMT, indicating that he may die on the Friday following this horary question.

Saturn rules the radical 4th, which is the friend’s 6th of illness, and conjoins the radical 6th cusp, which is the friend’s 8th of death. The illness is likely to prove fatal.

The Moon is dignified in Cancer and strong in the radical 10th; however, the Moon rules the friend’s derived 12th of confinement and misfortune. In addition, the Moon’s last aspect was a trine to Saturn, ruler of the radical 4th of the grave and the turned 6th of illness of the friend, and the Moon’s next aspect is an opposition to the Sun, signifier of the friend. As mentioned previously, Saturn is also conjunct the radical 6th, which is the 8th of death of the friend, so that the Moon is transferring the light of Saturn to the Sun. The Moon and the Sun are 5d 30m apart on the ecliptic (disregarding the latitude of the Moon), suggesting that death might occur about 5 1/2 days after the horary question, which is slightly longer than but consistent with the transiting Sun/Jupiter conjunction on Friday January 15, 1819.

To interpret the application of the Moon to oppose the Sun, Wilson also made use of the concept of the Moon as hyleg (life-giving planet) and the Sun in the 4th of endings and the grave as the anareta (killing planet) in this nocturnal chart.

Outcome: Wilson noted that his friend died on Friday morning at 5 AM, which was about 4 and 1/4 days after the question and 12 hours before the Sun/Jupiter conjunction became exact on Friday January 15th. The doctor had diagnosed “dropsy” which is most likely shown by the Moon in watery Cancer and by Saturn in watery Pisces at the cusp of the radical 6th / turned 8th house. [Dropsy: “An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water. In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.”]

Here is the transiting aspect sequence in the days following the question:

Adjusting for the Moon’s latitude:

To time the death of his friend, Wilson considered primarily the applying opposition of the Moon to the Sun, which are about 5d 51m of arc from perfecting the opposition by modern calculation. Wilson found the difference to be 5d 16m of arc in his ephemeris. Wilson noted, however, that the Moon was near 5 degrees north latitude for which, according to the common rule, there should be subtracted at the rate of a degree for a day, though I know not for what reason, for it makes for but a small difference in the right ascension. For my own part I never allow above a degree for latitude, however great it may be, nor do I allow even that if it does not amount to 2/3 of a degree.” In other words, Wilson adjusts the timing given by the applying aspect to up to a maximum of one degree depending on the latitude of the Moon. Wilson therefore subtracted one degree from the 5d 16m he had calculated until the opposition between Moon and Sun and thereby arrived at an approximate time of death of 4 days and a 1/4 day from the time of the question, which would have been Friday morning January 15th, very close to the actual time of his friend’s demise.

According to modern calculations, the Moon was at 4N53 latitude and had a RA of 106d 18m. The Sun always has a latitude of 0 degrees and was at a RA of 291d 37m, the difference in RA being 5 deg 19 min in a modern ephemeris. Because the Moon has north latitude, Wilson shortened the time originally suggested by the application of the Moon to the sun. In her book on horary, Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson writes: “When the significator is in North latitude the time is shortened, but in South latitude it is prolonged” (page 70, Simplified Horary Astrology).

Like Wilson, I do not know the origin of this principle about time speeding up when the Moon is of north latitude and slowing down when the moon is of South latitude. It may have to do with the symbolism of the activity of spring and summer occurring in the northern hemisphere (where Western horary astrology was invented) when the Sun lies north of the equator, with the slowing down signified by fall and winter occurring when the Sun lies south of the equator.

The following table shows the latitude of the Moon and the other points and planets in this chart.

This table also reveals that the Moon is “out-of-bounds” which means that its declination is greater than the maximum declination of the Sun, that is, greater than 23 degrees and 27 minutes of declination, either North or South.

The following passage from the 1832 text on horary astrology by R. Stella also discusses the use of latitude in timing horary charts.

The Moon’s Nodes and Bendings

Although neither Wilson nor Leo mention the Moon’s nodes in this chart, it is noteworthy that the lunar nodes across the 1st/7th Libra/Aries axis have their bendings across the 10th/4th Cancer/Capricorn axis. The South Lunar Node, which is associated with loss, falls in the first house of the querent, suggesting that the querent, Mr. Wilson, may be dealing with a loss.

The south bending of the lunar nodes falls in Capricorn in the 4th of endings and the grave. The Moon itself falls in Cancer with the north bending of the lunar nodes in the radical 10th, which happens to be the 12th of confinement of his friend.

Where is the Moon in relation to its own nodes?

In addition, Vettius Valens, in his commentary about the lunar nodes and their bendings (points in square to the nodes) in electional charts, notes the following. When the Moon occupies the same sign as one of its nodes or occupies a sign of one of the bendings of its nodes, then the situation surrounding the matter under consideration is unstable and the matter will run its course in a manner that is unsatisfactory, deficient or painful to the querent. In this chart the Moon in Cancer lies in a sign square to the lunar nodes, and the outcome was painful to the querent and not what he hoped for.

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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