The Essential Role of Dispositors in Horary

Masha’allah in his writings on horary astrology makes extensive use of dispositors of planets. The dispositor of a given planet is simply the ruler of the sign which that planet occupies in a chart. For example, if Mars is in Libra, its dispositor is Venus. Similarly, if the Moon occupies Leo, its dispositor is the Sun. Although dispositorship played an essential role in the development of horary astrology among the Arabic and Persian astrologers, I rarely see it mentioned in contemporary delineations of horary charts.

The theory behind dispositorship is anthropomorphic and straightforward. If I am a planet visiting your home, then I am dependent on you for the resources at my disposal to accomplish my aims. If you are strong and powerful and have kept your home in good order, I can more easily get my job done. If you are weak, disorganized and impotent, I may not be able to achieve what I desire. My ability to produce results consistent with my nature, and to manifest my own significations, will depend a great deal on your condition as my dispositor, because you are the owner and the person in charge of the zodiac sign from which I am working. If the owner of the home is not in whole sign aspect to his own domicile, matters become even worse because the owner is like an absentee landlord who can’t see his property and has no idea what’s happening in his own home.

The people in this image might represent planets visiting the home (domicile) of a dispositor (the ruler of the sign) in a bad celestial state. How can they get anything done if their dispositor is not taking care of his own property?
(Image from

William Lilly was aware of the importance of dispositors and used them in his delineations of horary charts. For example, the the chart of the tradesman who wanted to know if he would become rich (CA 177), which I discussed in the previous post, Lilly relied on dispositors to answer the horary question.

Lilly (CA 177): tradesman asks if he will get rich.
Mercury day. Sun hour.

Lilly writes that the querent’s wealth should be shown by Mars, the ruler of the 2nd house, and by the DISPOSITOR of the Part of Fortune, which is also Mars. Because Mars is in the 1st house closely conjunct the Ascendant degree, Lilly reasons that material wealth (signified by Pars Fortuna) will come to the querent largely through his own efforts.

In addition, Jupiter, which is a general or universal signifier of wealth, is prominently conjoined to the Angle of the M.C. and occupies Cancer, the sign of its exaltation. Jupiter is also strongly connected to the Ascendant by a square aspect.

Lilly goes on to point out that the Moon is separating from a sextile to 2nd ruler Mars (his wealth) and from a conjunction to Mercury, and applying to a conjunction to Venus, ruler of the Ascendant and signifier of the querent. In other words, the Moon is transferring the light from Mars and Mercury to Venus. For some reason Lilly does not mention that the Moon is also separating from its trine to Saturn and transferring Saturn’s light to Venus.

Furthermore, the Moon, which “hath a general signification in every question,” is “DISPOSITED by the Sun, and he is strong and powerful” in Leo in the 10th house (CA 181). In other words, the strength of the Moon, which is related to her dispositor (the Sun) being strong and powerful, enables to Moon to effectively transfer the light from Mars, the ruler of the 2nd and of Fortuna, to Venus which signifies the querent. The Moon is able to do a good and effective job because of its dispositorship by the Sun in this chart. Presumably if the dispositor of the Moon were in bad celestial condition, the Moon would have a hard time manifesting its significations or bringing about an effective transfer of light.

On CA 186 Lilly summarizes his delineation of the question whether “the querent should continue rich”:

“This I resolved by the cusp of the 2nd, which being a Sign fixed [Scorpio], and the Part of Fortune in it, and Jupiter in his exaltation and Angular, and Venus the DISPOSITOR of Mars [2nd ruler], and the Moon in Leo, a firm and stable Sign, I judged he would continue in a plentiful estate …”

Note here that even though Mars is a malefic, which happens to be the nocturnal malefic in a diurnal chart, and Mars in Libra is in the sign of its detriment, the fact that Venus DISPOSES Mars means that the performance of Mars will depend heavily on the status of Venus in this chart. Fortunately, Venus conjoins the cusp of the benefic 11th house and Venus herself is DIPOSED by the Sun, which is powerful in Leo in the angular 10th house, so that the performance of Venus is closely tied to the status of the Sun in this chart. The very favorably placed Sun also happens to be the FINAL DISPOSITOR of this chart and, as such, has a great deal of say in the final outcome.

A hypothetical example:

Consider the following chart for the hypothetical question about whether the querent would marry her current boyfriend:

Will I marry him?
Jupiter day. Mercury hour.

Saturn rules the querent (Aquarius rising), and the Sun rules the potential spouse (Leo on 7th cusp). Sun and Saturn are separating from a square aspect, and there is no translation or collection of light reuniting them. Based on the primary significators, marriage appears highly unlikely.

We must next consider the Moon which “hath a general signification in every question” (CA 182). The Moon can co-signify the querent and applies to trine the Sun, ruler of the 7th. Moon trine Sun could indicate that the marriage will take place, but we must assure ourselves that the Moon has the ability to manifest its goals via this trine.

Things don’t look great for the Moon in this chart. First, she is in partile conjunction with Ketu, the South Node of the Moon, a point of loss and diminution where eclipses take place. Lilly writes in his Aphoriams (CA 301): “The Lord of the Ascendant or the Moon with the Head or Taile, of the Dragon, brings damage to the Question propouned; see in what house they are in, and receive signification from thence.” He goes on to caution: “Beware of men and things appertaining to that house wherein South Node is in; it seldome failes, but the Querent shall receive damage, scandall or slander from men and matter signified by the house he is in.” The Moon being so afflicted by Ketu in the 2nd house suggests that money problems may interfere with her hopes for marriage.

Next let’s look at the dispositor of the peregrine Moon who is without any essential dignity. For its own functioning a peregrine planet is especially dependent on the celestial state of its dispositor. The peregrine planet has a better chance of achieving its goals if its dispositor is strong and dignified in the chart. A weak and afflicted dispositor leaves the peregrine planet with few resources to work with, so it is unlikely to be able to get its job done.

Here the Moon is disposed by Mars, the out-of-sect malefic, in the cadent 9th house and in Scorpio, the sign of fall of the Moon. Mars is afflicted by the greater malefic Saturn. In addition, Mars in Scorpio is “in aversion” to Aries, where the Moon resides. Even though Mars lies in his own domicile in Scorpio, he is unable to connect with the Moon in Aries, which he cannot see, and the Moon is left to her own devices, lacking any essential dignity and afflicted by Ketu and also by Uranus if we use the modern planets. Even though the Sun receives the Moon from the Sun’s sign of exaltation, Aries, the trine is not likely to effect a marriage because the Moon is so weak and afflicted in this chart. Mars, the out-of-sect malefic which disposes the Moon, is not at all inclined to help the querent get what she desires.

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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5 Responses to The Essential Role of Dispositors in Horary

  1. Vyri says:

    The use of depositor’s as you have propounded on is so very important and thank you for elucidating on them.

  2. Pingback: The Essential Role of Dispositors in Horary - Charm Wish PR

  3. AM says:

    Thank you, this article sheds a great deal of light on a chart that’s been puzzling me for a while! It’s a “will we marry” chart similar to your second example, where the primary significators are Mercury Rx in the 9th on Algol, separating from a square with Jupiter in Aquarius in the 5th. The square perfects again before either planet leaves the sign, and there’s an applying sextile from the moon in Aries to Jupiter, but I was confused why this turned out as a “yes, and happily” when I’d seen similar charts result in a “no.” Using Mars as an indicator for how much power the Aries moon has makes it much clearer—Mars is in Aries in the 7th conjunct Venus, sextile Jupiter, and trine POF. (I’d be happy to share the chart if it’s of interest, I don’t know how common it is to find examples of confirmed affirmative marriage horaries.)

    • Please feel free to share the chart. Every chart has something to teach us.

      • AM says:

        “Will we marry?” – 21 May 2009, 3:35 PM, 84w29, 42n44

        The ascendant is at 29 Virgo, but I asked this one month into a relationship that was going well, so “already decided/known” doesn’t make sense. At the time, I’d recently read on a forum that a late ascendant represented the querent if they had a luminary in the same degree and element, and interpreted the chart as radical because my sun is at 29 Taurus. However, I’ve yet to find someone else using a “same element” rule. After reading your book where you mention using different houses for the quesited depending on the exact phrasing of the question, I’ve started to wonder if the querent in this chart should actually be treated as “we”–the ascendant is only 4 minutes from the composite moon. 

        Both parties were 19 when they started dating and have natally-stressed watery moons that are coaxed out by the other’s chart, so there was an emotionally tumultuous learning/unbottling period in the first year that makes some sense with the weak position of Mercury. The querent has a 7h Pisces north node, so Mercury separating vs Moon applying makes sense to me in that for success, the querent needed to learn to put more weight on feelings over logic in relationships and not pull away at the first hint of uncomfortability. 

        I believe this chart has the multi-translation of light you described in another article (the Moon carrying the light of both Venus and Mars to Jupiter). 

        The couple got engaged 2 years and 2 months after the question, and married 4 years and 1 month after the question, roughly 24 hours after transiting Jupiter hit the horary MC and squared the horary Asc/Desc.

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