Astrology by Hand Week 6
Horary: The ”Birth Chart of an Idea,” or Something Completely Different?
Last week I began describing horary astrology and how it seems to pose a greater challenge to a ”scientific” view of astrology than any other branch of astrology. I mentioned the idea of the horary question as being the ”birth chart of an idea.” Let’s look at some rules and factors that affect the asking of questions that make this idea difficult to defend. Remember not all of these rules are held by every practitioner, and there is considerable disagreement about some of them. This is astrology after all, and astrologers are not notable for agreeing on every point.
For What Time Do We Erect a Horary Chart?
Rule One: It is better to ask a question of someone else and have them cast the chart, than it is to ask of oneself and read the chart for oneself.
Well okay, is this any different from physicians not treating themselves as patients, and attorneys hiring other attorneys when they go to court? That is definitely a factor, but it is not the whole story. Having someone else read a horary chart is clearly a better idea than reading it for oneself for reasons of objectivity. But if that were the only issue then one could simply note when a question pops into ones mind, write down the time and place, and have someone else read it. But that is not the best way to do horary.
The best way is to erect the chart for the moment that one gives the question to someone else! The best charts are not the births of ideas, but charts of the moments when person A asks his or her question of person B! I have tested this thoroughly. Sometimes my clients do write down the times when they formulate questions themselves. But then they find that they cannot get to me for some time afterward. Then there is the later moment when I get the question. In every case, when I have compared the two times, it is the second one that gives the answer correctly.
Now, I am not saying that one can never ask a question for oneself. It does work sometimes, but it is nowhere near as reliable as charts for questions asked of someone else. Guido Bonatti, an astrologer of the early thirteenth century and an expert on horary, said that if an astrologer needs to ask a question, he should write down the question and give it to a friend. The friend should then take the question to another astrologer and that astrologer should erect the chart for time in which he, the second astrologer, received the question.
It is clear that horary astrology is much more effective when the question is asked of one person by another and the chart is erected for the conveying of the question to that second person. If the chart is a type of birth, then it is not the birth of the question. It is the chart of the birth of a relationship between two people that involves a question.
Not All Questions Are Created Equal
Rule two: All questions should be questions of considerable significance. The answer should matter to the one asking the question.
Trivial questions are not allowed. It is also generally agreed that one should not ask questions in order to ”test” the astrologer. There is considerable lore in horary that is designed to test whether the person asking the chart is serious or not. Almost everyone agrees that questions asked without serious intent do not usually produce charts that give a correct answer. And there are also signs within the chart that the person asking the question is not serious or is confused.
Among traditional horary astrologers, one of the techniques used is to see whether the chart accurately describes the physical appearance of the person asking the question or not. Typically, I get my questions from the same people over and over and the indications of physical appearance are not usually consistent from chart to chart of questions asked by the same person. Yet, knowing the person asking the question, I know that the question is serious and is of concern to the one asking the question. The test of physical appearance in the chart is not a useful method for me.
But another method of telling whether a client is serious and not confused about a question is even stranger from a ”scientific” viewpoint. In each chart there are combinations or aspects of planets forming, and ones that are separating—getting farther apart. The aspects that are getting farther apart are supposed to describe the circumstances that have led up to question, the events which have happened in the past regarding the question. Okay, fine! But stop and think for a moment. How can a chart be the beginning, or the cause of something that has already happened? This truly strains any conventional doctrine of causation, at least any such doctrine born of philosophy after 1600. And by the way, this same distinction between separating and applying aspects is also to be found in natal astrology. Forming or applying aspects describe circumstances that occur before birth, while separating ones describe events after birth.
We will look more at horary and these issues in the weeks to come, but next week I am going to take some time out and respond to some of the letters and feedback that have been sent to me from the first weeks of this column. These have been very interesting and I think that you will find them interesting as well. Then we will get back on the main track again.
Next week Rob answers some letters from readers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Hand, author of Planets in Transit and other works, is now involved in the translation and publication of texts regarding ancient and medieval astrology through ARHAT Media Inc.