Hour rulers in horary astrology

It seems like the main use practitioners of the Lilly school of horary astrology have for hour rulers in to test them against the Ascendant to determine the radicality of the chart. Nonetheless, there are many passages in Lilly’s text where he discusses the use of hour rulers as significators in answering a question.

Recently I’ve been reading Choices & Inceptions about electional astrology, translated by Ben Dykes who makes the point that many of the classic texts on horary astrologer are simply rewrites of the rules for elections. It appears that electional astrology and its methods preceded and inspired the development of the astrology of interrogations. This fact is important because traditionally the lord of the hour often plays an important role in the outcome of an election.

astroclock prague

In the chapter on 12th house elections, he goes over horse races according to the Al-Rijal (Dykes, p. 375).

Al-Rijal’s method goes as follows:

  • Find the lord of the hour when the horse leaves its home to go to the race track.
  • If the lord of the hour when the horse sets out lies in the 1st house, the horse is likely to win or be among the very first horses to place in the race.
  • If the lord of the hour lies in the 10th house, the horse will run in the middle of the pack.
  • If the lord of the hour lies in the 7th house, the horse will run toward the end of the pack.
  • If the lord of the hour lies in the 4th hour, the horse will come in last.
  • If the lord of the hour is in the sign of its fall, the horse itself will fall during the race.


Bonatti appears to have patterned his somewhat more elaborate rules on this older Arabic text.  The principle seems to be that the lord of the hour is the horse, the 1st house is first place, and the further away from the Ascendant in the order of direct motion of the heavens, the further away is the horse from the winning position. If the hour ruler lies in the sign of it fall, the horse may fall. He doesn’t mention other debilities of the hour ruler, but by extension of this principle one could argue that if the hour ruler is in bad shape, it is an argument that the outcome is unlikely to favor the querent.

This example raises the question of whether we should be paying more attention to the lord of the hour in horary charts. Should we be considering the lord of the hour an important significator in horary questions and not simply a factor in whether or not the chart is radical?



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Where is my silk scarf?

My wife is forever misplacing things. This evening (15 December 2017) we had dinner at a restaurant with some friends. When we got home, my wife noticed that the silk scarf she had been wearing was missing. At 8:30 pm she asked me to help her find her scarf. I quickly cast a horary chart.

Silk scarf

It is a Venus day during a Mercury hour.

My wife is shown by the Leo Ascendant. Her ruler is the Sun, and her co-ruler is the Moon.

The missing scarf is ruled by Mercury, ruler of the Virgo 2nd house of movable goods. The Moon can also signify missing items, as can the dispositor of the Part of Fortune, which is Mercury in this chart. Venus is a natural signifier of women’s clothing.

In this chart all the signifiers of the scarf lie in Sagittarius, the 5th Whole Sign house, and all but the Moon lie in the 5th Regiomontanus house. Because the 5th house signifies fun, good times with friends, enjoyable meals and restaurants, I suggested that she call the restaurant.

In addition, the location of missing items is often revealed by the ruler of the 4th house, which in this chart is Mars in Scorpio. Mars conjoins the 4th cusp (the subterranean house), and Scorpio (a water sign) implies a location lower down and dark or dirty . I told her that her scarf was probably on the floor under the table where we ate at the restaurant.

Within 5 minutes of her asking the question, she called the restaurant and they found her scarf on the floor under the table where we had eaten, just as the chart indicated.

Her rapid recovery of the scarf was probably indicated by Mercury Rx applying to the Ascendant in less than one degree.

Addendum: She went the next day to retrieve her scarf from the restaurant. This occurred at 12:30 pm, which is 16 hours after she asked the horary question.

The question was asked at 8:30 PM.  I looked at a digital clock which only displays minutes, so the exact time could have been anywhere between 8:30 and 8:31 PM. If we take the mean time shown by 8:30 pm on the digital clock (the midpoint between 8:30 and 8:31) and calculate the Ascendant for 8:30:30 pm, we get a value for the Ascendant of this question as 16 Leo 30.  There are 47 minutes of arc between this Ascendant and the position of Mercury (the scarf). If we allow 1 degree to represent one day (24 hours), then 47 minutes corresponds to about 19 hours after the question. Thus, she should have retrieved her scarf within about 19 hours. In fact, she got it back 16 hours later. Since I did not record the exact time to the second, it’s possible that she asked the question closer to 8:31 pm, which would still have shown as 8:30 pm on the digital clock.


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Will it rain on my parade?

This is an interesting horary. The querent is a woman who was planning a Halloween party for her young daughter and some of her playmates. The idea was to take the children to a pumpkin patch on Sunday, 29 October 2017, to pick their own pumpkins and then to return with the kids to her home to decorate them.

Part of the event would be outdoors, so she wanted to know if the weather would permit or impede the outdoor part of the event. The question about the weather was asked on Friday 20 October 2017 at 9:39 AM in Orange, CT.

It is a Venus day during a Moon hour. This seems fitting because Venus rules parties and the Moon rules moisture and rain. Scorpio, a water sign, rises. The chart seems radical and fit to be judged.

The 4th house rules pumpkin patches (“gardens, fields, pastures, orchards” — Lilly, CA 52) and their quality. Traditionally the weather and conditions affecting the land and crops are judged from the 4th house.

The cusp of the 4th is in Pisces, a water sign. In addition, Neptune (god of the oceans) conjoins the 4th cusp. The pumpkin patch looks very wet in this chart.

The ruler of the 4th is Jupiter in Scorpio, another water sign. Jupiter conjoins the cusp of the 12th house (undoing) and also conjoins the watery Moon in Scorpio (a water sign) in the 12th.

Parties are a 5th house matter. Uranus occupies the 5th, implying that something could disrupt the event. Mars rules the Aries 5th house cusp, and Mars (the red planet) lies in earthy Virgo in the 10th, which seems appropriate for a visit to a farmer’s field to pick bright orange pumpkins. In Lilly’s system Mars rules all the water signs by triplicity. Mars in this chart is void of course, so whatever Mars signifies may have a hard time getting off the ground, so to speak.

The chart seems to be saying that the party will be disrupted by wet weather, and the kids may not be able to go to the pumpkin patch.

The outcome was that it rained heavily in Connecticut on Sunday 29 October 2017. The party was held, but the pumpkins were obtained from a local indoor market instead of an outdoor pumpkin patch.

It’s interesting that the “end-of-the-matter” 4th house of the horary chart is ruled by Jupiter, which is in Scorpio on the 12th house cusp, and the 4th house of the party (4th of the 5th) is the Gemini 8th, whose ruler Mercury is also in Scorpio on the cusp of the 12th.


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Where is my garage door remote?

My wife got home this evening and had misplaced her garage door remote, so she called me on her cell phone to come out and open the garage for her. She then asked me to help her look for the missing remote, which she had used earlier in the day and which she thought must be in her car. I cast a chart for the time she asked the question: 6:35 PM EST, 7 Dec 2017, Orange, CT. Here is the chart:

Garage door remote

  • The querent is ruled by the Moon (Cancer Ascendant).
  • The missing remote is signified by 2nd ruler Sun (Leo cusp).
  • Sun and Moon are both below the horizon, which supposedly indicates that it may be hard to find. Not so.

Moon in 2nd indicates her approaching the missing remote. Moon is in partile trine to Sun, and they are separated by only 11 minutes of arc.

Lilly says that separation occurs “when two Planets are departed but six minutes distant from each other” (CA 110). I assume he is measuring the distance between the centers of the bodies of the planets. This definition of separation may be true for the non-luminaries, but Lilly does not take into account the apparent sizes of the sun and moon, so Lilly’s statement is misleading.

In fact, the apparent size of the sun in our sky is about 32 minutes of arc (radius 16′), and the apparent size of the moon is about 31 minutes of arc (radius 15.5′). Thus, when the luminaries are separated by only 11 minutes of arc, as in the above chart, the bodies of the sun and moon are still overlapping by aspect. For the sun and moon, true separation occurs only after they are departed at least 31.5 minutes of arc (the radius of the sun plus the radius of the moon).

The partile aspect with the bodies of the sun and moon not yet separated indicates that she will find the remote very quickly. The sun rules the 2nd cusp of where she keeps her valuables. She looks in her pocketbook a few minutes later, and there is the remote.

Note that Venus at its brightest has an apparent size of only about 1 minute of arc and is larger than any other planet in the night sky. The sun’s apparent size is 30 times greater than that of Venus at its brightest. The radius of Venus at its largest is 0.5′ of arc. The radius of the body of the sun is 16′ of arc. Adding the two, we get 16.5 minutes of arc which is found in the definition of cazimi or being in the heart of the sun. Lilly is a bit more generous and defines cazimi as the centers of the sun and the planet being at least 17 minutes of arc apart.

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Lilly’s misleading oversimplification of triplicity rulers


Recently I posted a discussion of “Should I?” questions in horary astrology. One astrologer commented that she was puzzled by my statement that one of Lilly’s charts (“if she should marry the elderly man”) with Mercury ruling the Ascendant and Jupiter ruling the hour met the traditional criteria for radicality, namely, that when these two planets are “of one triplicity, or be one, or of the name nature” (CA 121).

Her objection was that Lilly would not regard Jupiter and Mercury as being of the same triplicity.  In Lilly’s over-simplification of the traditional system of triplicities, the rulers are:

Lilly’s Oversimplified Triplicity Rulers

  • Fire: Sun (D), Jupiter (N)
  • Earth: Venus (D), Moon (N)
  • Air: Saturn (D), Mercury (N)
  • Water: Mars (D), Mars (N)

Every since I first read Christian Astrology decades ago, I was suspicious of this simplification, especially because it has Mars ruling Water by day and by night. This did not make intuitive sense. In Lilly’s sheme, Jupiter and Mercury have no relationship by triplicity but in practice they do because both planets rule the Air triplicity, so Lilly must be mistaken in his thinking. The chart with Lord 1 as Mercury and hour lord as Jupiter is one that Lilly regarded as radical enough to be published under his name as an example of his horary art.

Although I initially tried to follow Lilly, eventually I became convinced that the classical Dorothean/Egyptian triplicity rulers were of more value in practice. In the Dorothean system, the triplicity has three planetary rulers: day, night, and participating (a planet that assists the main ruler both by day and by night). The assignment of triplicity rulers has much to do with the sect of the chart, a key concept in Hellenistic astrology.

Classical Dorothean Triplicity Rulers

  • Fire: Sun (D), Jupiter (N), Saturn (P)
  • Earth: Venus (D), Moon (N), Mars (P)
  • Air: Saturn (D), Mercury (N), Jupiter (P)
  • Water: Venus (D), Mars (N), Moon (P)

This more ancient system of triplicity rulers is quite elegant and makes more sense. In this system, a horary chart with Mercury ruling the Ascendant and Jupiter lord of the hour is radical because Jupiter and Mercury (along with Saturn) are rulers of the Air triplicity.

Unfortunately, when Lilly adopted the old rule that in radical charts the hour ruler and Ascendant-ruler must be “of one triplicity, or be one, or of the name nature” (CA 121), he changed the definition of what constitutes a triplicity ruler in traditional horary texts; the use of all three triplicity rulers was an essential part of this principle. Essentially Lilly mixed apples with oranges and introduced a half-baked notion into his version of horary astrology. Lilly’s redefinition of triplicity rulership, probably based on his reading of Ptolemy, caused many charts to be considered “not fit to be judged” which traditionally would have been considered radical at the hour of the question.

In many ways it seems odd that Lilly did not adopt the Dorothean system of triplcities, which appears in so much of the horary literature which he referenced in his magnum opus Christian Astrology. For example, Lilly was a great admirer of Bonatti who used the system of three triplcity rulers, as evidenced in this quote from Bonatti’s Treatise 6 (Dykes translation, p. 552): “… I looked at the Lord of the triplicity of Libra, namely Saturn (who is the first), Mercury (who is the second), and Jupiter (who is the third).” Clearly, Lilly’s hero Bonatti would have regarded the hour ruler (Jupiter) and Ascendant ruler (Mercury) as belonging to the same triplicity in Lilly’s chart about “Should the gentlewoman marry the elderly man?”.

Deborah Houlding has an interesting discussion of hour agreement and radicality at this site: http://skyscript.co.uk/hour_agreement.pdf.

The table of dignities below is the one I prefer in horary astrology:




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Will my cat be put to sleep?

This is a sad horary. My son’s beloved cat, who was in his 18th year of life, had gotten sick several weeks ago. After repeated trips to the veterinarian and a course of medication, the cat appeared to improve but then had a turn for the worse. The vet recommended keeping the cat for a few days of observation.

Today (Saturday, 2 Dec 2017) was the day my son was to meet with the vet for a definitive diagnosis. I spoke to my son this morning, and he asked at 9:33 AM EST whether the outcome was that his cat would need to be put to sleep. Here is the chart.


It is a Saturn day during a Sun hour. Saturn rules the Ascendant. The Sun rules the fire triplicity by day and Saturn is the participating ruler. The Sun rules the radical 8th of death, and the Sun rules the cat’s turned 8th of death (8th from the 6th). The chart appears radical.

Jupiter is angular at the MC. Jupiter rules the radical 12th (grief, sadness), and the radical 12th is the derived 7th of the cat (7th from the 6th) and thus symbolizes the cat’s doctor, the veterinarian.

The 12th part of the Ascendant (at 14 Cap 06) is 19 Gemini 12, conjunct the cusp of the 6th of small animals. The ruler of the 12th part is Mercury in the radical 12th (sadness) which is also the 7th of the cat, symbolizing the veterinarian.

The main signifiers are:

  • Mercury, ruler of the 6th, is the cat.
  • Saturn, ruler of the 1st (8th from 6th), is the death of the cat.
  • Saturn, as ruler of the Ascendant, is also the querent.
  • Sun rules the radical 8th of death.
  • Venus rules the cat’s derived 4th house of endings and lies just inside the cat’s derived 6th house of illness.

Mercury (the cat) is turning stationary Retrograde and will conjoin Saturn (the cat’s death) in a little more than a degree. Mercury rules and opposes the Part of Fortune (material well-being) in the 6th house of pets.

The Moon’s last aspect to a visible planet was an opposition to Jupiter (ruler of the 12th) and the Moon’s next aspect is an opposition to Venus, ruler of the radical 9th, which is the turned 4th of the cat (4th from 6th), symbolizing the cat’s ending and final resting place. The Moon co-rules the querent, and its past opposition to Jupiter (the vet) probably symbolizes the fact that he left the cat at the vet several days before the question.

The 1st house is the turned 8th of the cat. Pluto (lord of the underworld) conjoins the cusp of the 1st, and the South node (of the nature of Saturn) lies at the end of the 1st. Neither placement is favorable to the cat’s survival.

All in all, the chart looked like the vet would recommend putting the cat to sleep.

My son phoned about 4 pm from the vet to say that the cat’s condition was terminal (he was dying of incurable kidney failure) and that they had put the cat to sleep. The appointment was for 2 pm, so I’m guessing that the event took place around 3 PM. Given the circumstances, it would have been inappropriate to ask about the specific time of the cat’s demise.

Addendum: In an online horary group Marc Weizmann pointed out that Mercury conjoins the fixed star Sinistra (at 29 Sag 45). which according to Robson is associated with “mortality by poisoning.” The cat was dying from the accumulation of toxins in its blood because the kidneys could not clear them. In the same group Maria Blaquier noted that the cat’s derived 6th house ruler Mars in detriment in Libra could indicate kidney disease.

I also noticed in reviewing the chart that the Hemetic Lot of Necessity lies at 14 Cancer 05, exactly opposite the Ascendant. In this case the querent was confronted with the necessary and inevitable consequences of his cat’s illness. The Lot of Necessity is the Hermetic lot of the planet Mercury, the god of logic, rationality and orderly unfolding of the universe.

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Is the rumor about Tillerson true?

Despite denials from the White House, the news broadcasts are all reporting a rumor that Rex Tillerson will in the near future be replaced as U.S. Secretary of State. I heard such a report at 8:07 AM and wondered whether the rumor was true, so I cast a chart for the time I heard the news and decided to look up Lilly’s rules for its interpretation. Here is the “horary” chart (technically, it is an event chart being interpreted as a horary):


Lilly says to check the following factors to decide whether a rumor is true or not (CA 193-194):

  1. Is L1 (Lord of the 1st) or the Moon in an angle? NO, neither Jupiter (L1) nor Moon are angular.
  2. Is the dispositor of the Moon in an angle and a fixed sign? NO
  3. Is L1, Moon or Moon’s dispositor in a succedent house and fixed sign?  YES: Jupiter (L1) lies in Scorpio in the 11th, and the Moon lies in Taurus in the 5th.  (Jupiter also rules the 3rd house of rumors.)
  4. Is L1, Moon or Moon’s dispositor in sextile or trine with Jupiter, Venus or the Sun?  NO
  5. However, if L1 is afflicted by Mars or Saturn, or in a cadent house, then the rumor is false.  NO, L1 (Jupiter) is not afflicted by Mars or Saturn or in a cadent house.
  6. All four angles of the chart in fixed signs is supporting evidence of the truth of the rumor.  NO, the angles are not fixed.

Etc. …

By criterion #3 it appears that the rumor is true, especially because Jupiter, which rules both the Ascendant and the 3rd house of rumors. lies in fixed Scorpio in the succedent 11th house. The Moon, which rejoices in the 3rd house of rumors, lies in fixed Taurus on the cusp of the cadent 5th house.  Rex Tillerson will resign, at least according the the criteria set forth in Lilly’s Christian Astrology. Let’s see what happens in reality.

ADDENDUM (13 March 2108)

CNN reported on the morning of Tuesday 13 March 2018:

“White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that Trump asked Tillerson to step aside.
Trump ‘thought it was the right time for the transition with the upcoming North Korea talks and various trade negotiations,’ a senior administration official said, adding that Trump asked Tillerson to step aside on Friday.
Tillerson did not speak to Trump and is unaware of the reason behind his firing, Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Steve Goldstein said.
Trump has wanted Pompeo as his secretary of state for months now, and the White House began planning for him to take the job last fall, sources told CNN.”
In this case it took just over three months from the time of the question for the firing of Rex Tillerson to occur.  Does this timing show up in the chart?  If will look at the chart with mundane astrological principles, the 10th house signifies the president and the 11th house, his secretary of state.  Thus, Tillerson is ruled by Mars (Scorpio 11th cusp) and Mars in Libra applies to sextile Saturn in Sagittarius in the 1st house in about 3 degrees, which could be symbolically equated to 3 months.  Interestingly, Mars also rules the end-of-the-matter Aries 4th cusp.
On 13 March 2018, transiting  Mars at the time the news broke was at 27 Sag 37, almost exactly conjunct horary Saturn at 27 Sag 49, thus timing the end-of-the-matter of this horary chart to the very day of its resolution.
Interestingly, Trump tweeted that Tillerson was fired at 8:44 AM  on 13 March 2018 from the White House.  At the time of the tweet, the Ascendant was at 24 Aries 42, almost exactly opposite horary Mars at 25 Libra 04.


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