Perfection by opposition: a horary by Masha’allah

Masha’allah (730-815 CE) was a Jewish astrologer from Basra who converted to Islam. His books were very influential in teaching the methods of horary astrology. In his work On Reception he gives several case examples, among which is the following, which demonstrates perfection by opposition. The interpretation below draws heavily from Masha’allah but also includes my own understanding of the chart.

A man asked the astrologer whether he would “acquire a kingdom” in the year 791 AD, that is, whether he would succeed in being granted rule over a particular region of the greater kingdom at the time. From Masha’allah’s description of the chart, it was cast for a location near Basra in modern Iraq on 21 April 791 at about 10:13 AM LMT.  I am unable to reproduce exactly the positions in the original text, but a chart cast in the sidereal zodiac according to the method of Sri Yukteswar and with Alcabitius houses comes very close. Here is my modern version of the chart:


With Cancer rising, the querent is signified by the Moon in Libra in the 4th house. The man with whom the querent must negotiate to obtain the position is shown by the Capricorn 7th house, ruled by Saturn.

Saturn happens to be in the 10th house of the position which the querent wishes to acquire. Aries is the sign of Saturn’s fall, so the querent must negotiate with a “fallen” or corrupted Saturn (7th house ruler) to secure his advancement. Perhaps this man will require some kind of bribe in exchange for assisting the querent. Clearly Masha’allah did not know about the existence of Pluto, but it is striking that on the day of the horary question Pluto was stationary and turning Retrograde in the 7th house, which symbolizes the man the querent had to negotiate with to get the advancement he desired.

The Moon (querent) occupies the exaltation of Saturn but applies to the “fallen” Saturn through an opposition. It will not be easy for the querent to secure his promotion. With Saturn in its fall, the querent (Moon) may need to grovel before Saturn, or in the verancular, “kiss his ass” and “grease his palm.” And because Saturn is involved, the querent can expect hardships and delays in obtaining the position.

Saturn’s placement in the 10th of career describes the desired post. Saturn in his fall is debilitated and despised. Fall is the opposite of exaltation in which everyone is singing Saturn’s praises. In his fall, everyone is heaping insults upon him. Thus, even if the querent obtains the position, there will be something about it that he hates, or those whom he governs may despise him.

With Aries on the cusp of the 10th and the Sun (exalted in Aries) therein, the significator of the desired position is best symbolized by the Sun, a natural ruler of royalty and those in authority.

The outcome was that the querent did receive the command but there was a delay of about 15 days, as indicated by the fact that the Moon (the querent) reached the domicile of the quesited (the 10th house) and  conjoined 7th-ruler Saturn 14 days after the question, indicating that he was appointed on that day. Masha’allah’s idea seems to be that the querent’s significator,the Moon, being received by Saturn in his exaltation (Libra) and then opposing Saturn turns over the matter to Saturn as its final arbiter. The conclusion of the matter will only occur when the Moon (querent) bodily conjoins Saturn which received the disposition of the Moon and became its final arbiter. Because the Moon is at the beginning of Libra and will need to reach Aries to conjoin Saturn, Masha’allah estimates that it will take about 15 days for this conjunction to occur (since the Moon moves through six signs of the zodiac in half a month).

In addition, though Masha’allah does not mention this fact, it took 15 days of ephemeris time for the Moon to reach the position of the Sun (the command) in the 10th house. Here is the original horary chart advanced exactly 15 days from the time of the question. As you can see, the Moon (the querent) has moved to conjoin the position of the Sun (the position desired) in the original chart. In addition, Mars, which rules the 10th and disposes the horary Sun, has moved into the Cancer 1st house, which rules the querent.


It is also interesting in the chart for 15 days later, Venus in Aries disposes the Sun, now in Taurus. Venus is received by Mars in Cancer in the 1st and has just completed a square to Mars, indicating his receipt of the position with some stress (the square) involved.

As the chart indicated (fallen Saturn in the 10th), the querent was not especially happy with the new position. In Ben Dykes translation, the new command is called “a middling thing” that was “of little advantage” and of paltry usefulness. The fact that a debilitated Saturn in the 10th, being opposed by the Moon (querent), did not entirely deny his advancement was shown by the strength of the Moon, Saturn and the Sun in the angles of the chart, especially with the Moon (querent), so close to the IC, making the Moon the most angular planet. Even though Saturn being in its fall in the 10th indicated that the position was hateful, the angularity of the significators “fixed”, that is, settled the matter of receiving the position in his favor.

This chart is an example of William Lilly’s dictum that “I have rarely seen anything brought to perfection by this way of opposition, but the querent had been better the thing being undone…” (CA, p. 125). In other words, be careful what you ask for; you just may get it.

Original material on this blog is copyright Anthony Louis, 2017.

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Puzzling receptions in a horary chart

The issue of reception in horary can be quite confusing. For example, Nina Gryphon stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy when she published a blog about Bonatti’s idea that a planet being received by malefic planet abates the infortune’s malice. This led to an extensive debate on Nina’s Facebook page about reception. The current availability of English translations of more and more ancient texts seems to add fuel to the fire. With this debate in mind, I’ve been looking at horary charts with a much keener eye to the role that reception plays in the outcome.

Recently I came across a puzzling chart published by an astrologer named Dirius in Buenos Aires. Dirius explained that “around a month ago I ran into this girl I used to work with; I always had a crush on her but she used to have a boyfriend; she is now single so I asked out to dinner.” Being an astrologer, he then asked the horary question, “Will she go out with me?”  The question was asked on 17 November 2014 at 6:56 PM in Buenos Aires. The date took place on 2 December 2014, some 15 days after the question. Dirius added, “Please feel free to use and learn from this chart,” so here it is:


Dirius is the querent, signified by the Taurus Ascendant which is ruled by Venus in Sagittarius in the 7th Regiomontanus house. His co-ruler is the Moon in Libra (in aversion to the Ascendant), also ruled by Venus. The Moon in the 5th indicates his emotional focus on romance.

The quesited is signified by the 7th house with Scorpio on the cusp, which makes Mars her primary ruler. Mars is exalted in Capricorn in the 9th and occupies the Dorothean term of Venus. This is a day chart, so Mars is also in the triplicity of Venus. In other words, Venus receives Mars in her term and triplicity.

There is no aspect between Venus and Mars, so the primary significators don’t show a date happening.

Mars (exalted at 16 Capricorn 52) does, however, apply to trine the Ascendant at 17 Taurus 38 (Taurus being the detriment or exile of Mars). Even though Mars applies to trine the Ascendant from the “good” 9th house, the Ascendant is in a sign detrimental to Mars. The fact that Ascendant-ruler Venus receives Mars in her term and triplicity makes Mars feel like a welcome guest, so the date may well go forward but it will be up to Venus (the host of Mars) to make the date happen. Receptions are guest/host relationships.

Next we must look at the Moon, the querent’s cosignificator. The Moon will square Mars in 15 degrees (the date took place 15 days after the question). The Moon in Libra lies in the detriment of Mars (which rules the opposite sign Aries), and Mars in Capricorn occupies the detriment of the Moon (which rules the opposite sign Cancer). This is kind of a negative mutual reception by detriments, and the planets are applying to a stressful square. I would interpret this square between significators in each other’s detriment as a negative testimony. In other words, either the date will not happen or it will go forward with much difficulty.

If I understand him correctly, astrologer John Frawley would interpret Mars lying in the detriment of the Moon as meaning that Mars (the quesited) feels hatred toward what the Moon signifies (the querent). Similarly, the Moon (the querent) in Libra, the detriment of Mars, would indicate the Moon’s hatred toward what Mars signifies (the quesited). Since neither the querent nor the quesited hate each other, and if fact went out on a date, this approach does not make sense in interpreting this chart.

The outcome:

They managed to arrange a date to go out to dinner. Darius was late at work and had to pick her up late. When they got to the restaurant, it was full and they did not have a reservation, so they had to wait for a table to open. Then the date went fine. I don’t know if they continued to see each other after the date or if the relationship just fizzled out afterward.

What puzzles me about this chart are the conflicting testimonies, the square between significators in each other’s detriments, and the role that the receptions played in the outcome.

Addendum (14 April 17): Recently I was reading Ben Dyke’s translation of Sahl ibn Bishr (c. 786–~845) who comments that the 5th house is a place of love and seeking the friendship of women. In the Whole Sign house system, Mercury would rule this querent’s 5th house of dating; and in the chart Mercury is received by Mars (the querent) in his domicile Scorpio. In addition, the Descendent (quesited) is received by Mercury (the date) in his term. Mercury applies to sextile Mars in three degrees and goes on to conjoin the Descendant in less than four degrees, indicating that the date will take place within a few weeks time.


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Regiomontanus vs. Whole Sign in Horary

Recently I’ve been experimenting with the difference between Regiomontanus and Whole Sign houses in horary by recasting published charts with known outcomes in both house systems.  On YouTube I came across a horary presented by Peter G. Burns of the Ambrosia Academy of Astrology about a business woman who asked whether her flight would be cancelled due to volcanic ash in the air over Australia.  She needed to get to an important business seminar in Sydney.  Here is the chart in both Regiomontanus (on the left) and Whole sign (on the right) houses.


Following Lilly, Peter used Regiomontanus houses in which the 9th house of flights has Virgo on the cusp, making Mercury (a natural ruler of travel by air) the significator of the flight.  It then becomes necessary to explain the combustion of Mercury by the Sun the the application of Mercury and the Sun to the Moon’s South Node which is in its fall in Gemini.  Fortunately, Mercury rules Gemini and has triplicity there, so Mercury is quite dignified.  (Although combustion of a significator is usually quite damaging to a horary question, in this case the Sun occupies the domicile of the significator and the effect of combustion is thereby minimized due to the reception.)  Apparently this woman was able to take the flight to Sidney and attend her seminar.

The Whole Sign chart is much clearer and easier to interpret.  The 9th Whole Sign house is Libra, ruled by Venus in Gemini.  Venus is peregrine, but it is a night chart and Venus is the benefic of the sect in power and thus the most auspicious planet in the chart.  Venus applies to trine the Ascendant degree and then moves on to trine Saturn, ruler of the Ascendant, showing that the querent will be able to take her flight as planned without impediment.

The mutual reception between Venus (in the term and domicile of Mercury) and Mercury (in the term of Venus) reinforces the interpretation of an auspicious flight (Venus/Mercury).  In addition, Mercury’s next aspect is a square to the Part of Fortune at 20 Virgo 50, and Mercury receives the Part of Fortune which lies in Virgo, the domicile and exaltation of Mercury.

It is of some concern that Saturn, which rules the querent, is stationary (not moving) in the 9th of flights.  Fortunately, Saturn turns direct in less than 48 hours, which may mean that the flight delays will have ended within two days.

In addition, the protective and beneficial fixed star Spica at 24 Libra 00 conjoins the MC, which lies in the 9th house of flights in the Whole Sign chart and also occupies the term of Venus, which rules the 9th house.  Spica conjunct MC in the 9th signifies a favorable business trip.

While both Regiomontanus and Whole Signs give the same answer, the Whole Sign chart (see below) is much more direct and obvious in its answer.


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A blast from the past

Recently I was searching for something about horary astrology in google and came across an old horary chart which I had interpreted in 1986.  In the mid-1980s I made the acquaintance of astrologer Celeste Teal who went on to write several well-received books about astrology.  In 1986 Celeste asked me to interpret a horary chart for her question about whether she would have success as an astrology writer.  Here is the chart (6 April 1986, 11:10 AM, 40N33, 85W39).


This is my 1986 interpretation of the chart, taken from Celeste’s website Moon Valley Astrologer.  I’m grateful to Celeste for having preserved it and for posting on her site after all these years.  In looking back, I think I must have been impressed by Jupiter, the Moon and Mercury, all in Pisces (ruled by Jupiter, which is exalted in the Ascendant and almuten there), in the 9th Whole Sign house of astrology and publishing.  This is what I wrote to Celeste back in 1986:


Using traditional methods and the Regiomontanus house system used by Lilly, the chart has 11 Cancer 42 rising. With natal Uranus conjoining the horary Ascendant, this is a significant chart and certainly relates to your career in astrology. You are shown by the Moon, and by Almuten Jupiter.

Note: Almutens were used by the Arabic astrologers and refer to the planet with the most essential dignity at a point along the zodiac. The idea was that a planet with the most dignity was the most free to act effectively on behalf of the Querent.

In your chart, Jupiter was Almuten of the degree rising, and being most dignified there was an excellent Significator for a question about publishing.

Both Moon & Jupiter occupy the 9th of publishing, a favorable indicator. Carol Wiggers calls this “emplacement” since your Significators are in the house of publishing. Jupiter applies to trine the Ascendant.

Moon has just completed a conjunction with Jupiter and goes on to conjoin Mercury. This may be considered a “translation of light” in which the Moon takes the light of Jupiter and carries it to Mercury. The point of this is that the meaning of the aspect(s) becomes a triple conjunction: Moon conjunct Mercury conjunct Jupiter all in the 9th of publishing, a very good omen.

In addition, all three planets in the 9th apply to conjoin the career MC. Jupiter will get there in 10 degrees, suggesting some significant success in 10 years (Jupiter is cadent and mutable) — so a major book contract in 1996? Moon and Mercury arriving there soon suggest publications of articles or less significant material.

Jupiter also squares the Part of Fortune in Gemini in the 12th, a good aspect for a writer of occult subjects. (Lilly would say that this square in signs of short ascension is similar to a sextile).

Your hopes & wishes are shown by the 11th ruled by Mars and Venus. Both Venus & Mars apply favorably to aspect Jupiter, ruler of the 10th of career. This confirms that you will achieve your wish to become a writer.

Saturn, ruling the 9th of publishing (Aquarius, traditional ruler), is retrograde near the 6th cusp, so the process will be slower than you would like and require a lot of effort.

Finally, the dispositor of the Gemini Part of Fortune in the 12th (work done in a quiet setting, like writing) is Mercury which exactly conjoins the MC, another very favorable sign.

I think Lilly would have used your chart as an example of “dwelling in houses plus translation of light by the Moon” (see pages 118 -119 of my horary book). In your chart, the Ascendant ruler and Almuten both occupied the 9th of publishing and the Moon translated the light from Jupiter to Mercury, reenergizing that earlier Mercury-Jupiter conjunction in the 9th, which is an excellent omen for writing a successful book.

Since Jupiter represented you, its conjunction with the MC symbolized a major career event related to publishing in 1996. Best wishes, Anthony.


Celeste commented in her post: “1996 is the year I did the major work on my first book and submitted a proposal. This was followed by the publishing contract – extremely accurate.”

Since her first publishing contract in 1996, as predicted by her horary chart ten years earlier, Celeste has gone on to write several highly acclaimed astrology texts.  Here is a link to her author’s page on

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Zodiacal Releasing in Horary Charts

Recently I’ve been experimenting with the Hellenistic time-lord technique of zodiacal releasing in horary charts, and it seems to be quite useful.

In zodiacal releasing each of the seven visible planets is assigned to specific time periods in the progression of the querent’s life.  As the various signs of the zodiac are activated, their planetary rulers and any planets contained therein become active. Most commonly the releasing is begun with the sign which contains the Part of Spirit, symbolizing our voluntary and intentional actions.

Let’s see how zodiacal releasing adds another dimension of understanding to a famous horary chart: the houses of Master B by William Lilly.

Mr BLilly really wanted to buy this property, so he cast a horary chart on 30 March 1634 OS (10 April 1634 NS) and followed the advice of the stars on how to negotiate the deal.

Seeing that the Sun (a significator of the 7th house seller) and Venus (the querent’s significtor) were conjoining in Taurus (ruled by Venus, thus favoring Lilly) on 25 April 1634 OS (6 May 1634 NS), he decided to bargain about the price on that date.  He closed the deal on 17 May 1634 OS (28 May 1634 NS) when the Moon conjoined Venus in Gemini, ephemeris time.

Here is the zodiacal releasing from Spirit for this period according to the program Aphesis by Curtis Manwaring.


The zodiacal releasing begins with the Part of Spirit in Taurus, the 8th house of the horary chart. Lilly waits until the Lot of Spirit moves into Gemini on Level 3 to begin serious negotiations. Gemini is a active period because it squares the Part of Fortune in Pisces. The activation of Gemini also activates Mercury (ruler of Gemini), Jupiter in Gemini, and Mars and the Moon in Virgo in the radical 11th of Lilly’s friends, which is also the turned 5th house of the seller. Lilly tells us that he actively engaged the assistance of the seller’s daughter (a friend of Lilly’s) in his bargaining tactics.

On 25 April (OS), the Part of Spirit has moved to Cancer on Level 4. Cancer is the 10th house of the horary and symbolizes the price of the house, fitting symbolism for a negotiation about the price.

On 17 May when he paid the seller and finalized the deal, the Lot of Spirit had moved to Capricorn on Level 4. Capricorn is the 4th house of the horary and symbolizes the landed property which he just took possession of.  The activation of Capricorn also activates the Sun (seller) and Venus (querent) in Aries in the 7th. The conjunction of Venus and the Sun symbolized the coming together of buyer and seller to seal the deal.

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Where are my sunglasses?

On Tuesday afternoon, 4 April 2017, my wife used her sunglasses to drive to a meeting at a local church.  She did not use them on the return trip because the sun had gone down by the end of the meeting.  The next day she went to use her sunglasses again but could not find them.  At 1:07 pm on Wednesday, 5 April 2017, she telephoned me to ask that I cast a horary chart to locate her missing glasses.  Here is the chart:


It was a Mercury day during a Venus hour.  My wife is shown by the Sun which rules the Leo Ascendant. My wife’s co-ruler is the Moon in Leo in the Ascendant of this chart.

The missing sunglasses are also signified by the Sun, which rules the 2nd cusp of movable goods.

The Moon (my wife) applies to trine the Sun (the missing glasses) in about 5 1/2 degrees. I figured that she would find the glasses by the end of the week, and perhaps sooner because the Moon was fast in motion.

These are Regiomontanus houses, and the Sun is within 5 degrees of the 10th house cusp so it is considered a 10th house planet. The angular Sun suggests that the missing item is in her possession and in a place she might normally keep them. The 10th could be her workplace, and she was calling from her office.  I told her that the glasses were with her in her office, probably in her pocketbook and, if not, then in her car.  Because the Sun was applying the the MC from the 9th house, I suggested that the glasses had fallen against something which was concealing them.  The presence of Mercury and Mars in the 10th made me think of her car.  The Sun in Aries made me think of her purse which is a burnt orange color.

She looked in her purse and in her car and did not find the glasses.

The next day (6 April 2017) she came home at 4:30 pm and was looking in her rather large pocketbook for something else when she found the missing sunglasses. They had been there all along, and she simply did not see them amidst the myriad other things she keeps in there.

Interestingly, the Sun on the 9th house side of the MC but having entered within 5 degrees of the cusp of the 10th may reflect the fact that she last saw her sunglasses when she was a church (a 9th house matter).

Addendum (April 7, 2017):  A note on timing.

Timing is often difficult in horary charts. In this case my wife found her glasses at 4:30 pm on 6 April 2017.  At that moment the transiting Moon (4:30 PM in Connecticut, USA) was at 25 Leo 44.  If you look at the original horary chart, she found the glasses at the exact moment that her co-ruler Moon conjoined the 2nd house Regiomontanus cusp of her movable possessions.


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Revisiting Derek Appleby

When I was first learning horary astrology in the 1980s I came across a wonderful book by Derek Appleby, which had a major impact on my understanding of the art.  In this post I’d like to revisit a chart which Derek published in the Traditional Astrologer magazine, Issue 2, in the autumn of 1993.  An architect, who felt that he had been unjustly dismissed from his job, brought the case before an Industrial Tribunal and asked the horary question of whether the tribunal would decide in his favor.  Appleby used Lilly’s point system of dignities and debilities to determine the relative strength of the first house ruler (the querent) and the 7th house ruler (his employer and opponent in the case).  Because the 7th ruler had many more essential and accidental dignities than the Ascendant-ruler, Appleby judged that the employer would win the case.  Here is the chart:


It is a Jupiter day during a Venus hour. The Moon is fast in motion. The Ascendant lies in the Via Combusta, which may be a warning that matters will not proceed to the querent’s liking.

Scorpio rises, so Mars rules the architect querent.  Taurus on the 7th cusp makes Venus the ruler of his employer who is his opponent in the lawsuit.

In legal tribunals, the 10th represents the judge, and the 4th is the final verdict.  Leo on the 10th means the the Sun signifies the judge, and Aquarius on the 4th makes Saturn the ruler of the verdict.

The querent’s ruler, Mars, and co-ruler Moon lies in the 8th house in Gemini.  The 8th (idleness, fear, death) is traditionally a bad house which does not favor the Ascendant. Mars and the Moon are disposed by Mercury, which is combust the Sun — another unfavorable indication. In this case, the Sun happens to signify the judge, and the sun’s intense light is obscuring and burning the dispositor of the querent’ rulers.

In addition, both the querent’s rulers (Mars and the Moon) are separating from Saturn, the verdict.  Things do look favorable for the querent.

The employer’s signifier, Venus, lies at the very end of Pisces where she is exalted in the 5th house, traditionally called the House of Good Fortune.  Venus is also two degrees from an exact sextile to Saturn (the verdict), but Venus will need to move into Aries for the sextile to perfect.  Venus will be in her detriment in Aries but in the early degrees of Aries, Venus will occupy the term or bound of Jupiter and will apply to conjoin the dodecatemorion of the Sun (the judge).  Jupiter in Leo in this chart lies in the term or bound of Venus and is also disposed by the Sun.  From these conditions, it appears that Venus (the employer) is much more favored by the judge (the Sun) than is Mars (the querent).

Finally, the Sun (the judge) in early Pisces the 4th house of the verdict is applying to square Ascendant-ruler Mars (the querent) in Gemini in the 8th of death. In the chart the Sun is 8 degrees from the square to Mars, and in the ephemeris this transiting square will perfect on March 8, 1991.

The outcome was that the tribunal decided in favor of the employer (Venus) and against the querent (Mars).

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