Lilly on Planets that Impede What Is Demanded

On pages 184-186 of Christian Astrology, William Lilly gives a rather dense account of conditions
under which the thing demanded in a horary question can be either hindered or assisted in coming to pass. Because Lilly’s 17th century English can be hard to decipher, I have attempted to state his argument more clearly without distorting his original explanation. Nonetheless, since I may have misunderstood something that Lilly wrote, please let me know in the comments if you find errors in my interpretation of Lilly’s text.

Stop Sign

What are “Impediting” Planets, according to Lilly?

When analyzing a horary chart, the astrologer must carefully identify any Planets that impede or hinder the matter inquired, thereby preventing “the effecting or performance of what is demanded.” Such impeding planets may be called Strong, Hurtful, Destroyer, Abscissor, Obstructor, or Impediting because, by their action alone, they can destroy or pervert the nature of the Question, which otherwise would come to a good conclusion.

Possible Candidates for Impediting Planets:

A Hurtful or Impediting Planet is one which, by its action alone, can prevent the matter inquired after from reaching a favorable conclusion.  Such a planet will be one “unto whom” a key significator in the horary chart is joined, by which I believe Lilly means the planet to whom the significator is applying within orb and which will form the next aspect that the significator will perfect. Candidates for the role of “Impediting Planet” include:

  1. the planet unto whom the Lord of the Ascendant is joined,
  2. the planet unto whom the Significator of the Quesited is joined,
  3. the planet unto whom the Moon, as a co-significator in every chart, is joined.

To identify a Hurtful Planet, consider “the Planet unto whom the Significator of the Querent is joined, or the Significator of the thing required, or the Moon, and observe how that Planet is disposed, and unto whom he is joined, for if the Lord of the Ascendant, or Moon, or Significator of the matter propounded, is joined to an evil Planet, evil disposed, without reception; or if he be not ill disposed, but joined to an Infortune, and he [the Infortune] ill disposed, and receive him not, it prenotes the destruction of the thing quesited.”

In other words, to identify the Hurtful Planet or Planets, study the planets unto whom the key significators are next joined in the chart. For each of these planets, answer the following questions:

  1. Is the planet unto whom a key significator is joined an “evil Planet” which is ill-disposed (evilly disposed, unfortunate) and joined to the significator without reception?
    If all three conditions are met, it “prenotes the destruction of the thing quesited.”
  2. Is the planet unto whom a key significator is joined NOT ill-disposed (not unfortunate) but is joined to an ill-disposed Infortune (a malefic) without reception with the significator, then this condition also “prenotes the destruction of the thing quesited.”

On “Pushing Management”

Although Lilly does not mention this concept by name, he appears to have in mind the medieval Arabic principle of “pushing,” sometimes referred to as giving or pulsation. The idea is that each planet has a particular task to accomplish, so that when one planet applies to aspect another, it pushes, gives, or pulsates its light (which contains information about its particular task) to the next planet unto whom it is joined and who can help the significator to accomplish or manage its task. This process is called “pushing management” and involves the planet receiving the application by aspect taking over the management of the task of the applying planet. It’s similar to a relay race in which one runner hands the baton to the next, who takes over running the race.

In a horary chart, the key significators are charged with ultimately bringing about the matter inquired after. If one of these significators applies without reception to a malefic or to an ill-disposed planet, then the malefic or the unfortunate planet will take over the management of that significator’s task and will carry it out badly or harmfully. An analogy might be that you want to increase your income, so you invest with a firm run by a dishonest person who embezzles your money and leaves you penniless.

Here is a quote from Ryhan Bulter’s article on reception in which he explains pushing management:

Pushing management occurs during any applying aspect.  The basic idea is that faster planets (classically thought of as ‘inferior’ due to their placement in the Ptolemaic Spheres) will push their significations to the heavier or superior planets they apply to. … When the faster planet applies to the heavier planet, it implores the heavier planet to assist it in bringing its significations to pass. The success or failure of pushing is determined by several factors including, but not limited to, the aspect type involved and the heavier planet’s nature.”
To this list of factors should be added whether the heavier planet is ill or well disposed.
Deb Houlding also has an excellent article on reception at

What does it mean for a planet to be ill-disposed, unfortunate, or evilly disposed?

According to Lilly, a Planet is considered ill-disposed or unfortunate under six possible conditions, namely, when it is:

1) Peregrine (without any essential dignity)
2) Retrograde
3) Combust (Lilly defined a combust planet as being in the same sign and within 8° 30′ of the Sun.)
4) In Aversion (“Cadent“) to the Ascendant and its Lord, or in aversion to the House of the thing demanded and its Ruler. If a planet is unable to see the House (or Sign) which it manages or the Ruler of that House (or Sign), it cannot effectively manage the affairs of that House. It would be like trying to drive a non-self-driving car on a major highway while blindfolded.
5) In its sign of Fall (opposite its sign of exaltation)
6) In its sign of Detriment (opposite its home sign)

Lilly uses several expressions for “ill disposed,” including evil disposed, unfortunate, badly disposed, etc. He also describes malefic planets as evil or malevolent, or as Infortunes.

Reception to the rescue:

Lilly’s model emphasizes the role of the Planets unto whom the Significator of the Querent, the Significator of the Quesited, and the Moon are joined. If any of these three key significators is joined WITH RECEPTION to an ill-disposed planet (peregrine, retrograde, combust, in aversion, in Fall, in Detriment), there will be perfection of the matter but it will come about with “weariness and much solicitation.” The Reception will help bring the significator’s issue to fruition but with some difficulty because of the unfortunate state of the ill-disposed planet to whom the significator is joined. Planets that find themselves in unfortunate circumstances have a hard time accomplishing what they intend to do.

How is Reception Defined?

According to the traditional definition,  two planets are “in reception” when:

  1. The two planets are within orb of perfecting an aspect (or bodily conjunction), AND
  2. One of the two planets occupies a major dignity (domicile or exaltation) or two minor dignities (triplicity, term, face) of the other planet.

In such a case, the planet that owns the dignity acts as a host who “receives” the planet occupying its dignity as its guest, or like a landlord who receives the planet occupying one of its properties as a tenant.

Possible Scenarios Involving Reception

The matter will be perfected with ease, if:

  1. The key significator (Lord of the Ascendant, Lord of the Quesited, or Moon) is received by the Planet unto whom it is joined by aspect, AND
  2. the planet that receives the key significator is free from misfortunes, neither receiving a misfortune nor being received by misfortunes. I believe by “misfortunes” Lilly means “malefic” planets.

The matter will NOT be perfected or come to a good conclusion, if:

  1. The planet unto whom the key significator is joined with reception is free from the Infortunes (malefics) AND
  2. the receiving planet is joined to a benevolent planet which is aspecting a malevolent (malefic) AND
  3. the malevolent planet is impedited (peregrine, combust, etc.) AND the malevolent planet does not receive the benevolent planet.

Lilly cautions the astrologer to always take into account whether an aspect involves planets in reception “for when they are in reception, things are brought to pass, though [it may be] with some trouble [because the astrologer must be] ever considering whether any Planet do cut off the light and virtue of the Significators before their perfect conjunction with an evil [malefic] Planet; if such a thing happen, it [the abscission of light] hinders not, but that the matter may be perfected and accomplished; but if no abscission of light intervene, whereby the malevolence of the Infortune may be taken off, the matter is prohibited, and will not be effected.”

In this quote I believe Lilly has in mind the situation of a significator applying to aspect a malefic without reception, which is a destructive influence. If the significator perfects an aspect with another planet with which it is in reception before it can perfect the aspect with the malefic, then “the malevolence of the Infortune is taken off” and the matter can come to pass.

What if two planets apply with reception to a square or opposition?

If two planets WITH RECEPTION apply to a square or opposition aspect, AND one of the planets is “evil disposed” (peregrine, combust, retrograde, etc.), then “the reception profiteth nothing”, even less so when the planet that is received is impedited.

BUT if two planets WITH RECEPTION apply to a sextile or trine aspect, “you may confide the matter will be effected;”

“OR if the Planet who receives be at that time well-disposed, let the reception be by any manner of aspect, the matter is performed, be the aspect a square or opposition;”

“if the aspect be a trine or sextile, it performs the thing, whether the Significator be received or not;  but provided the aspect be not separated, but applying;”

“if the Significator be joined with a Fortune [benefic] not impedited, the thing will be perfected.”

How does reception work with transfer of light between Significators?

If any Planet transfers the light from one Significator to another, and the Significator to whom the light is transferred is an impedited Malefic, “the Question or matter is destroyed, unless the Infortune be again received.” I believe Lilly means that a reception between the planet transferring the light and the impedited Infortune accepting the transferred light of the first Significator must be in reception for the transfer to be effective.

Note: Lilly definestranslation of light and nature” (CA 111) aswhen a light Planet separates from a more weighty one, and presently joynes to another more heavy.”

How does reception work with collection of the light of the Significators?

If the Significator of the Querent  or of the Questited, or the Moon be joined to an Infortune (malefic) or an unfortunate (impedited) Planet, the collector of the light “destroys the matter, and permits it not to be accomplished,” UNLESS the collecting planet receives both Significators. If the collecting planet receives only one of the two Significators, “the matter will not be performed.”

Note:  Lilly defines “collection of light” as “when as the two principal significators do not behold one another, but both cast their several aspects to a more weighty planet than themselves, and they both receive him in some of their essential dignities, then shall that planet that collects both their lights bring the thing demanded to perfection” (CA 126).


Lilly states that when the Significator of the Querent occupies the House of the Quesited or is applying to perfect and aspect with its Lord, the Querent “is going to the thing quesited after.”

On the other hand, when the Significator of the Quesited occupies the Ascendant or House of the Querent, or is applying to perfect and aspect with its Lord, then “the matter enquired of, or thing desired shall come to the Querent, receptions notwithstanding, the Moon and other aspects remaining in their proper being.”

All original text in this blog is Copyright Anthony Louis 2023.

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 Lilly on Planets that Impede What Is Demanded

  1. MC says:

    Great ! Thank you

  2. Abby says:

    Hi! I found your blog while researching the Moon’s direct nodes. I’ve found inconsistent data among the and Astro-Seek websites, and wanted to know what ephemeris you use? I do love your work on the stationary nodes, and was also wondering what software you used to calculate them. Thanks so much!


  3. Subramanian Balagopalan says:

    Hi Anthony, can you also top this up with an example so as to bolster our understanding

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