A colleague recently asked about the use of separating aspects in determining the outcome of a horary chart. There is apparently a view among some practicioners that only applying aspects should be used. A good example of Lilly’s use of separating aspects to determine the outcome can be found in his discussion of a ship at sea on page 165 of Christian Astrology. A key point is that the astrologer must understand the nature of the question.
On March 19, 1647 (NS) at about 10:28 AM LMT someone asked Lilly about the condition of a ship at sea. The horary chart set for London, UK, with Regiomontanus houses. It was a MARS day during a MOON hour, the 5th hour of the day. The Ascendant is at 6 Cancer 05′ and its 12th part (dodecatemorion) is at 13 Virgo in the 4th house of places deep below sea level. The Moon, which signifies the ship and its crew, lacks any essential dignity and occupies the sign of the 12th part of the Ascendant, suggesting that the querent is worried that the ship may lie at the bottom of the ocean. Mercury, which rules Virgo – the sign of the 12th part – occupies the 10th of successful ventures, but Mercury in Pisces is in the sign of his fall, an indication that the question also has to do with a business failure.
It is important to note that the querent asked, “In what condition is a ship at sea?” The question is NOT about what will be the future condition of the ship, but rather what has happened to the ship up to this point, which resulted in its current condition.
As a result, Lilly studies the Moon which rules the Ascendant, the signifier of the ship and its occupants. It is a day chart and the only dignity which the moon has in Virgo, in Lilly’s system of dignities, is as triplicity ruler of earth signs at night. Thus, Lilly would consider the Moon peregrine, that is, without essential dignity. (My preference is to use the Dorothean dignities in which the Moon is also without essential dignity in 10 degrees of Virgo.)
To see what has already happened to the ship Lilly would consider its most recent aspect prior to the question, which was a square to Saturn. Unfortunately, Saturn rules the 8th Regiomontanus house of death, and Saturn is peregrine in 15 Taurus. At the time when Moon squared Saturn from 15 Leo, the moon was cadent and peregrine and then entered a void of course state. Since the question is about what has happened to the ship, and not what will happen to the ship, the approaching trine of the Moon to Saturn is irrelevant. What had already happened to the ship at the time the question was posed looked pretty ominous despite the fact that the Moon is about to trine Saturn at the time of the question. Here is a list of the relevant transiting aspects surrounding this horary question.
Below is Lilly’s delineation from CA 165:
Here the Ascendant and the Moon are Significators of the Shippe, and those that saile in her: the Moon lately separated from a Square of Saturn, Lord of the 8th and 9th, then at time of the question voyd of course; but afterwards first applyed to a Trine of Saturn, then to Opposition of Mercury, Lord of the 12th and 4th; this shewed the Ship had lately been in danger (of Death) viz. Shipwrack:
and as the Moon had been voyd of course, so had no newes been heard of her; because the Moon was last in Square of Saturn, in fixed Signes, tortuous or odiously and malitiously aspecting each other, and falling into Cadent houses, and then did not presently apply to the good aspect of any benevolent Planet, but was voyd of course, and then againe continued her application out of the 4th to Saturn, who is still Lord of the 8th, although it was by good aspect;
and then after seperation from him, applyed to Opposition Mercury, and that Mercury her Dispositor was in Detriment, and entering Combustion, and Jupiter Dispositor of Mercury Subterranean and in Conjunction with Mars, and termes of an Infortune; and forasmuch as I found Mars in his Fall, upon or neer the Cusp of the 2nd house, I judged losse was at hand to the Merchant; Part Of Fortune being in the 6th house, disposed by Jupiter, and he Retrograde in the 2nd, not beholding Part Of Fortune; the Moon also casting her Square Sinister to the Part Of Fortune, and so Mercury his Dexter Square: by meanes therefore of so many evill testimonies of receiving losse rather than benefit;
I judged that the Merchant should lose much, if not all that was adventured in this Ship, and so consequently I doubted the Ship was cast away; (and so it proved.)
Principal Significators under the Earth, ill: worst of all, if in the 4th, for that is an assured testimony of sinking the Ship.
Addendum: Deborah Houlding made the following comments about this chart at her site Skyscript.co.uk (bold mine):
“In this example Lilly reviews the Moon’s last aspect. This is something he routinely does to get a grounding for the background of the question, even if the Moon’s last aspect is well out of orb or occurred in the previous sign.
This is relevant in symbolising the last event to impact upon the situation under scrutiny. In this case he has to trace the Moon right back to the middle of the previous sign to find it: a square to Saturn. Since the afflicted Saturn rules the 8th house of death and the 9th house of sea journeys, he judges this to show that the Ship had met the “danger (of death) viz, shipwreck” some time before the question was asked. From that point on the Moon had remained void of course until its present application to Saturn by trine.
Despite the Moon’s current application to Saturn by trine, the violent fixed star connections and damaging indications in the chart are overwhelming; so Lilly judged the ship was lost.”