William Lilly defines “prohibition” as follows (CA 110):
“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 7th degree of Aries, and Saturn is in the 12th.
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 6th degree 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.”
“The second manner of Prohibition is by Aspect, either Sextile, Square, Trine, Opposition, viz. when two Planets are going to Conjunction; as Mars in 7th degree of Aries, Saturn in 15th of Aries; let us admit the Sun in 5th degree 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.”
In Lilly’s first example (conjunctional or bodily prohibition), all three planets occupy the same sign:
Sun (6 Aries) –> Mars (7 Aries) –> Saturn (12 Aries)
The two main significators are Mars and Saturn, and the matter will be effected when Mars perfects its conjunction with Saturn. The problem is that the Sun travels faster than both Mars and Saturn, and the Sun will overtake Mars and then conjoin Saturn before Mars can perfect its conjunction with Saturn. Thus, the matter of the question will be prohibited because the Sun first “impedites” Mars and then advances to impedite Saturn before the Mars/Saturn conjunction is able to perfect. This is called “conjunctional or bodily prohibition.”
In Lilly’s second example (prohibition by aspect), the two significators are applying to a bodily conjunction, but the major aspectual ray of a third planet overtakes the bodies of both significators before the first significator can conjoin with the body of the second one:
Sun (5 Gemini) –> Mars (7 Aries) –> Saturn (15 Aries)
In this case the sextile dexter ray of the Sun will perfect an aspect first with Mars and then with Saturn before the body of Mars can conjoin with the body of Saturn.
Other examples can be found in the literature, but these two of Lilly illustrate the concept. It is important to note Lilly’s delineation of “prohibition,” namely that “the matter propounded is hindered and retarded.” Note that Lilly does not say that the matter is completely negated or rendered impossible, although that is one of the possible outcomes. The dictionary definition of “hinder” is “to create difficulties, resulting in delay or obstruction,” and the definition of “retard” is “to delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment.” Finally, the word “impedite” is an obsolete form of “impede,” which means “to hinder, obstruct, delay or prevent.”
Case 1: Will I get the job?
Here is a horary from my files, which I was consulted about several years ago because the astrologer came to the wrong conclusion and wanted my opinion of the chart. The querent, an actress, had auditioned for a part in a theatrical production and wanted to know if she would get the job.
The question was asked on a Mercury day during a Mercury hour, and Mercury rules the Ascendant and thus the querent. The chart appears radical. Mercury occupies Libra in the 5th house of theatrical performances.
The desired job is ruled by the 10th house with Aquarius on its cusp. Thus, Saturn rules the job, and Saturn in Libra in the 5th also fits the symbolism of the question about being hired to perform a role in a theatrical presentation.
The astrologer reasoned that she would get the job because the Part of Fortune in the 1st house, was disposed by the querent’s significator Mercury, which was rapidly approaching a bodily conjunction to Saturn, ruler of the 10th, in the 5th house of Good Fortune.
Unfortunately, the querent did not get the job. What went wrong? Two factors stand out that may explain her being turned down in her quest for employment:
- The Moon is just about to conjoin the first significator Mercury and then will quickly conjoin the second significator Saturn well before the Mercury/Saturn conjunction will perfect. This movement of the Moon follows the same pattern as Lilly’s first example of conjunctional or bodily prohibition. Will this “prohibition” by the Moon merely delay her getting the job or will it obstruct her chances entirely. The second factor may answer this question.
- The Moon, Mercury and Saturn in Libra are all combust the Sun. As Lilly wrote in his discussion of prohibition, “you must know that the combustion of any Planet is the greatest misfortune that can be.“
Case 2: Will I sell my apartment to this buyer?
This question was asked on 15 February 2021, a Moon day during a Mars hour. For reasons of confidentiality I have not provided the chart data. The houses are Regiomontanus.
With Taurus rising, the querent is represented by Venus. The potential buyer is signified by Mars, ruler of the Scorpio 7th cusp. Mars occupying the 1st house shows the buyer’s interest in the property. Both Venus and Mars are peregrine (without essential dignity).
The house is represented by the Moon, which rules the 4th cusp. The Moon is peregrine (without dignity) and occupies the unfortunate 12th house.
The price is shown by Saturn, ruler of the Capricorn 10th cusp. Saturn has dignity of domicile and triplicity, and is the most dignified and angular planet in the chart. As an aside, seeing Saturn in the 10th, the astrologer should be cognizant of Lilly’s aphorism (CA 298): “The position of Saturn or Mars in the 10th, and they peregrine or unfortunate, or the South Node in that house, the Artist hardly get credit by that Question.” In this case Saturn is dignified in the 10th, so this aphorism does not apply. On the other hand, Mars rules the 7th (the consulting astrologer) and is peregrine and in detriment in Taurus in the 1st, so the astrologer may have some difficulty judging this chart.
The primary significators, Venus the seller and Mars the potential buyer, are approaching a square that will perfect in about 4 days. Venus in Aquarius casts its sinister square ray toward Mars in Taurus. A square can effect matters with striving and difficulty, and with less difficulty if there is reception. In this case Venus receives Mars in her domicile, but Mars (the buyer) does not receive Venus (the seller) in any of his dignities. A square from Venus to Mars, with no reception of Venus by Mars, suggests that the deal is unlikely to go through.
In addition, the Moon (which travels faster than Venus or Mars) will sextile Venus and then conjoin Mars before the Venus/Mars square can perfect. This is an example of what Lilly calls prohibition by aspect.
Finally, both benefics (the “fortunes,” Venus and Jupiter) are under the Sun’s beams. The 43rd aphorism of Bonatti’s Guide for Astrologers used by William Lilly states: “The Fortunes when combust and under the Sun beams, signifie none or very little good; and the Infortunes in like case have little or no vertue to signifie ill.“
The combination of prohibition by aspect, the fortunes under the sunbeams, and the square of Venus to Mars without reception of Venus by Mars indicated that the buyer would not purchase the apartment, and it did not sell. Part of the reason was that the buyer discovered some problems with the property (Moon in the 12th), which would have been costly to repair.