The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 298, titled:
Revisiting the Considerations Before Judgement in Horary Astrology
With Chris Brennan and astrologer Rob Bailey
Episode originally released on April 6, 2021
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Mary Sharonn
Transcription released December 23, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to episode 298 of The Astrology Podcast. In this episode, I talked with astrologer Rob Bailey about revisiting the considerations before judgement in horary astrology. This was meant to be a follow up to episode 296 that I did with Sue Ward on the Considerations Before Judgement last month. I had done so much work researching and preparing for the episode with Sue and we covered a lot of ground in that episode, but I realised the next day that I still had so much to say that I decided to record a follow up discussion with Rob the very next day after I’d done the interview with Sue. This was originally recorded as more of an impromptu discussion with Rob Just to riff on and talk about some additional topics related to the considerations for a private podcast series called The Casual Astrology Podcast, which is available to subscribers through my page on Patreon. But the discussion went so well and I felt like it presented so much new information on the considerations that was valuable, that I’ve decided to release it as a full episode of the Astrology Podcast as episode 298. So that being said, it was kind of a casual discussion despite being an interesting one, but just keep that in mind as you watch it in terms of who our original intended audience was and why it was so somewhat casual or impromptu. With that introduction out of the way and without further ado, let’s get started with the interview with Rob.
Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Casual Astrology Podcast. I’m not sure what episode number this is but here in Denver, it’s Thursday, March 18th 2021, starting at 5:31 p.m. I’m talking to Rob Bailey today and we’re gonna be talking a little bit more about the considerations before judgement as a follow up to the episode that I just recorded with Sue Ward yesterday, and will probably release in the next few days. Hey, Rob, welcome to the show.
ROB BAILEY: Hey, Chris, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about this.
CB: Yeah. So I spent a lot of time over the past few weeks researching the considerations and rereading everything and collecting my thoughts. And then you and I talked about it a little bit, and you sent me a research paper you’d been doing where you’ve been trying to trace some of the sources for the considerations. And it was really interesting seeing that because there were some instances where we were already sort of in agreement or had read the same things, but then there are other instances where you’d find you’d gone deeper and found more connections than I was even aware of. I wanted to talk about that a little bit today and yeah, just talk a little bit more about that episode, that topic, because it was such a big topic that we packed a lot into that episode with Sue yesterday, but there were still more things that we could have gone into. So I just wanted to just discuss that more with somebody else who’s done research in this area today. Thanks for joining me. You’ve been doing horary for a while, right?
RB: Yeah, that’s right. I think I started practising horary in about, say, 2009 or so. And then on and off since then. I had a website for a little while, which I’m embarrassed about. I think it lingers somewhere on the archives of the internet, but I don’t wanna tell you about it. [laughs] I don’t go looking it up. It’s sort of my rantings as a young enthusiast of traditional astrology.
CB: Yeah, I think we all have those. Thankfully, for many of us that are past a certain age, a lot of those get stuck on old web sites like MySpace, which has since disappeared. And I’m kind of glad that I didn’t grow up in the Twitter age as a young astrologer and having some of those things immortalised kind of permanently.
RB: Yeah, I think I also agree. I’m glad I started on Twitter when I was in my 30s, my late 30s. And yeah, a very cautious approach to engaging with people [laughs] as I compare to my 20s. Yeah, so I started doing horary in 2009 and then practising on and off since then, and just in the last few years started to take it much more seriously and sort of approaching it really as a professional, I suppose. I launched my current website in 2019 and yeah, then just been taking a lot of questions and doing a lot of work since then.
CB: What’s your website URL again?
RB: Oh, yeah. My website’s oldschoolastrology.com.
CB: Yeah, cool. I remember you did a horary chart for Lisa once that actually turned out really well and you made a really good prediction with that. I forget what the exact configurations and what the question was, but I was impressed by that. You don’t happen to have that, do you? Do you have that question?
RB: I can pull up the chart for it.
CB: Because we’ve used that I think publicly as an example already at some point in the podcast, so it wouldn’t be like divulging something not okay. But I just remember it being a really interesting horary?
RB: Yeah. If Lisa’s okay with it being shared and stuff like that, um, I’ve got the chart up in my astrology software now, but I can talk through it if you prefer. Just quickly for the audience.
CB: Yeah. Since it’s already been shared publicly, I think it’s okay.
RB: Yeah. So here’s the chart. Yeah, I think there was a few salient points. Like, I think Virgo rises so Mercury signifies the person asking the question as the ruler of that.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. And so with replacing the sixth house, one concern was obviously what matters would be concerned with this with this question.
CB: One of the first primary things that’s the most impressive about it is it’s literally a question about her job and her day job, and the ruler of the Ascendant is in the sixth house, and it’s literally right there. That’s what is being focused on.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. And actually I’m just going to pull up my notes really quickly for this one as well so I don’t ramble too much. But yeah, in the sixth. And I think there was also some health concerns as well. I don’t want to divulge too much but I think health was also an issue that was sort of important for Lisa in this matter, and Mercury being in the sixth. The other thing that just leaps out was the combustion with the Sun being so close to the Sun, and the Sun signifies to the government in like sort of a natural sense or like a universal sense. I think there was some concerns about some recent changes and legislation and things like that, that were also impactingly so at the time. There was some sort of concern about some support payments or something like that. I can’t remember the exact detail. So it just interesting how the chart kind of reflects the situation that the querent describes. That usually is like a good sign that you’re onto something here, you know?
CB: Yeah, it’s like one of the principal features of horary and that’s something we talked about with Sue a lot yesterday. It was that the the chart should reflect the question and if it does, or if it reflects the querent, then you know you’ve got a good horary chart or got a horary question, or that there’s a genuine intention behind it or something like that as opposed to– it seems like especially with the early horary authors, there was more of a preoccupation with whether the person had a genuine question or whether it was like an appropriate question or whether for being naughty. Like whether they were trying to trick him or pull something nefarious on him or something like that.
RB: That’s right. And even right back to the earliest horary texts that we have, there seems to be this I guess you call it like an anxiety about that, you know? This anxiety about, “Is this person coming to me with a genuine intent to ask a question, or are they coming to me for some other reason? And are they withholding their real reason from me?” You see that in Masha’allah, you see it in Sahl, you see it in your older earliest texts. [Umar] talks about that as well, I can tell. And yeah, I think the reason is because the premise of horary depends upon the chart reflecting the question, you know, the question as stated. And you look for certain factors in the chart depending on what the querent tells you. If they’re sort of withholding the truth of their intention from you and telling you something else, well, then you’re going to look at the chart wrong and you’re going to look at the wrong thing. It’s just gonna confuse the whole endeavour.
CB: Yeah, you could get it wrong and that could impact your reputation or something. Some of the considerations later, I think, one of the ones at least in Lilly’s aphorisms is about malefics being in the 10th. And maybe something about the question coming back to haunt you, or there being bad for your reputation or something like that. And that’s a relevant consideration, especially as a professional astrologer, or if your reputation is based on your success or failure of making predictions.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. I think there’s lots of reasons to be concerned as a horary astrologer about these issues. And some of them are ones that are still relevant today. Some are ones that were more important to astrologers working in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, you know? Sort of specific to the way that they interacted with clients back then as opposed to the way we interact with clients today, perhaps? But, you know, there are some common issues that I think still sort of run through the whole tradition up until now that we’re still kind of grappling with and trying out how to deal with it. Because I think there’s a few different ways that a client can come to you and mess up the question if you like, or mess up the endeavour by how they approach you, whether that’s through not knowing what they want to ask instead of one possibility, you know, like not really having a clear idea of what they want to ask sort of coming out of curiosity, or just they’re sort of for entertainment’s sake, or they want to see what you can do kind of thing.
CB: Right, like not having a serious pressing issue, which is one of the other early horary things that’s a little bit– and that was one of the realisations I had in terms of a differentiation between the ancient horary tradition versus the modern one– I feel like there’s a lot more tendency to accept any type of horary question in modern times. Or even in traditional circles, like some traditional astrologers think that you can cast a horary for like anything, something somewhat frivolous, whereas it seems like there was a real preoccupation and authors like Bonnati and even Lilly, to some extent, about it needing to be like an important question that the person has thought about for a while and is really serious to them to some extent and that maybe they thought about for a 24 hour period even? Or if not, that it’s something very pressing that came up that has serious impact on their life in some way.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. And that particular concern with making sure the question is important and that it’s asked in earnest is something that again, goes right back to the earliest sources, you know? Lilly’s interesting case with that particular issue, I think what you’ve said is true. There’s a few points to unpick there. I think it’s true that there’s this sort of debate, I suppose, in the community about whether you can take any question and how far can you go in terms of what questions you’ll accept and things like that.
CB: When do you think it is to be? Because I don’t know. I’ve been surprised at how many of the traditional astrologers have been– I think a lot of them follow Frawley’s line where Frawleys is like, “Astrology doesn’t just stop working, it works all the time and whatever chart you cast is going to work no matter what.” It seems like my impression is that, that it’s his position fundamentally and that other people have sort of adopted a similar view, which is surprising to me because when I started studying horary early on, I was reading Masha’allah and Bonatti. And they were just very clear that it has to be like a super important thing and that horary charts themselves were somewhat unique because of the the pressing nature of the question, and that’s what allowed them to have that power to accurately both depict the question as well as its outcome. It’s that there was something unique about that moment, instead of it just being something, you know, somewhat in passing. But you feel like there’s more debate about that definitely still?
RB: I think so. Yeah. I’ll sort of explain. I’ll answer that in this way, if I can. So, in summary, the mediaeval books all say you should have an important question and that you shouldn’t ask frivolous questions. They pretty much all agree with that, you know? And Lilly kind of reports that faithfully in his book when he’s sort of talking about these issues. But then what you see in his charts and what he actually does– and this is often the case with Lilly. He says one thing and he does another– He talks about doing things with horary that we might consider pretty frivolous. Like, in one section of the book when he’s talking about lost objects, he says that he would sometimes get one of his servants to hide things around the house and then he would cast charts and find them, like for fun.
He even uses some sort of archaic terminology, he says, “I did this for fun to sort of entertain myself.” [laughs] I don’t know whether that’s important or not, I don’t know how important that is.
CB: That’s funny coz I didn’t know about that piece. I knew about the missing fish horary, and that’s usually exciting as more of an example of like a not serious question somehow, but that you could almost argue that it was perhaps. I thought that was the reason why he had opened up a window into more lacks, like the use of horary. But that’s funny if there’s this other thing about just finding missing objects.
CB: Yeah. He just sort of seems to be testing it as astrologers do. You do this, especially when you’re new to doing horary, I think early on you do things like that. You just ask any old question just to see if it works kind of thing. So it’s one of those moments where he seems very human, like just the idea of him getting his servant to hide his gloves, and then cast a chart and like, “Oh, I found them.” And also giigle. I don’t know. Sorry, bumping the table. [laughs] That demonstrates that he was at least willing to sometimes experiment and take charts that weren’t always the most important. But I think generally speaking, that is the traditional stance. It’s that the chart needs to be about something important. Frawley does sort of come out very strongly in his horary textbook saying that every chart is valid. He gives that as above or below kind of justification that, you know, that it should be operating 24/7 and that there’s no chart, you know? If the question is asked right and they they got the chart right, that it should come out accurately. Then I think that there is a debate, I suppose, because what you see in some other books like Martial Art of Horary by Lee Lehman is a more traditional approach sort of in line with the old books that say don’t take every question and be careful about what people are asking you and…
RB: And in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that it’s like that and Masha’allah’s On Reception and Bonatti’s Considerations translated by Henry Coley, those were my first three horary books. So I guess I have been influenced in that more seriously by Lee and some of the things that she says in terms of some of those restrictions for horary or some of the guidelines in terms of best practices compared to if I’d studied with Frawley or something like that primarily.
RB: Yeah. Yeah, and perhaps my perspective might differ from yours because I sort of started out with the Frawley stuff. My introduction to horary was his work plus just reading a lot of William Lilly.
CB: Well, that’s interesting then because then that would have really coloured your perception of the considerations going into it because that was another thing. That he has a very strong and very particular unique position on, which I actually honestly found very obnoxious to hear a lot of his students repeating this position that the considerations were just invented in order to allow astrologers to get out of answering questions that they didn’t want to answer. And that was answer to the issue of there are these considerations, but then the Lilly still answers charts that contain the considerations. So what does that mean? And different students of Olivia’s came to different conclusions, but he came to that. That was his conclusion, that he came to that.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. Yes, and I think it’s fair to say that Frawley really influenced me early on, and I sort of ascribed to a lot of his views. I was sort of like a Frawley-ite, I guess.
CB: Were you one of those people saying on forums like the 2010 timeframe that considerations were invented by Bonatti to get out of answering questions?
RB: Again, probably don’t recall that website. [laughs]
CB: Okay. [laughs] Okay.
Rb: It lingers somewhere.
CB: Okay, there’s like a 10-page screed about people using the considerations before judgement or something like that.
RB: Goodness. I think it’s fair to say that Frawley’s position is pretty extreme. The thing is, I have a lot of respect for Frawley, I must say that. In some ways, he really influences my whole approach to the way I like to write and talk about astrology, like his wit and his sort of like, kind of… I don’t know what you call it. Yeah. The way he uses language and stuff, it’s really appealing to me.
CB: Yeah, he’s a really amazing writer. That’s why those books became so popular, especially the first one– the pink one and the green one. I guess those are his first two books, right? Those became super popular in the early to mid 2000s and I just remember this wave of people being really super interested in his work because he was such a good writer and because he was so compelling, not just in what he was saying, but in the way that he conveyed his thoughts in an interesting and engaging fashion.
RB: Yeah, I think that’s right. That’s probably what I would say I still take from him as that way of writing. I try to emulate that a little bit in how I write and stuff. But anyway, when it comes to the considerations, though, I think his take on it is- What he says is that they’re all not really real and they’re just there to kind of be an excuse so that you don’t have to read a chart if it’s an awkward question or if answering it would get you in trouble somehow or something like that, you know? I think that’s not the whole truth. I think there’s maybe a little bit of that. There might be an inkling of truth to that, like I think you could probably use them in that way if you wanted to. If you are a mediaeval astrologer, you could probably say, “I don’t want to answer this question because the Moon’s void of course, sorry,” to get you out of a question that might get your head chopped off or something like that if you get it wrong.
CB: Right. Or if you see something [laughs] I guess the question is whether the considerations mean anything symbolically, and I guess that was always my main objection to that is I took them to be passed along because at least at some point they were genuine things that somebody thought were symbolically significant enough to record, and therefore telling you something that’s relevant about the question… I always took Frawley’s interpretation to mean they have no symbolic significance at all whatsoever and therefore we shouldn’t pay attention to them, versus they have symbolic significance. In some instances, maybe if you did see one, and you did ascribe significance to that, you might want to not take the question or back out of it or get out of it or what have you, however you want to frame that. But it’s not because it’s not telling you something, it’s because it is saying something that’s relevant.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. I think Frawley’s assumes that we’re using them cynically and that we’re not actually honest. That we don’t actually mean it when we’re looking at a chart and saying, “Oh, that’s concerning for me.” I think that’s not entirely true or not true really. I would say that his approach to- I haven’t read the books, I haven’t really looked closely at the texts and really thought about it. I think there is a real concern about being deluded by a querent, and there a real attempts made especially later in the tradition to try and find ways to tell if someone is trying to deceive you or trick you or test you by looking at the chart and looking for things in the chart that can help you to sort of tell if they’re up to no good like that. So I think he’s he’s wrong to say that they weren’t real rules that were used earnestly by people in the past. I think that’s false. But I will say that his proposition that you could use them to avoid taking questions is like… Of course you couldn’t do that if you wanted to, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. The other tip, the last point he makes is the rule about late rising signs or early degrees rising. He makes this point that that might just be because of inaccurate timekeeping in the old days. That it might be difficult to know particularly if the Sun’s like around the midheaven. If it’s like middle of the day, it might be hard to know what time it is actually if you’re just looking at the shadow or something. And so in that case if you get a late degree rising or early degree rising, you might have some anxiety about what the right rising sign is. Similar to if you cast someone’s birth chart and you get like an early or late degree rising and you panic and need to rectify their birth chart, you know, especially if it’s around that time. It’s that same issue of not knowing for sure what the Ascendant is. He postulates that that rule about the early or late rising sign might be just some concern about timekeeping. That might be true. Nicholas Culpeper, who was a contemporary of William Lilly and also wrote on horary, mentions this when he reports this rule from Bonatti about the early or late rising degree meaning potentially that the chart is not good or dangerous to read or something like that.
CB: You sent that to me here, I’ll share it on the screen while you’re talking.
RB: Yeah. It’s interesting because that’s the view that Frawley expresses, reported by Culpeper. So this is the rule from Bonatti, basically. The source for this rule is Bonatti’s book on Questions. Or I think it is aphorism, his seventh aphorism actually. He says, “Pass no judgement upon a figure when either the first or later degrees of a sign Ascend; for if few degrees Ascend, the question is not (as then) ready for judgement. But if the later Ascend, the time slipped, and the querent hath been tampering with some other artist about it.” So he’s already asked someone else about this question and so you shouldn’t take the question. But then over here in the sort of the margin, or this other side note, he says, “I suppose the true reason for this is fear of mistaking the Significators.” So he reports faithfully the tradition from Bonatti, but then he also in a side note says, “Well, personally, I wonder whether this is actually more about not knowing what the right rising sign is. Even in Lilly’s time, there was some scepticism about at least that particular rule and what it meant. So, you know, there are different reasons why you might discard a chart. One of them might be that you’re just not sure what the rising sign is, you know?
CB: Yeah, which is valid. I mean, if it was a calculation issue, that would be a valid issue because especially in horary in particular, if the Ascendant is at 01 degrees then if it was actually in the previous sign, then your ruler of the Ascendant– and especially in the whole sign– all the other house rulerships are wrong or could be wrong. That would be something you’d have to be concerned about as a warning or a potential issue if you cast the chart for that time and it comes up with that position.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been in that position myself where I cast a chart with 29 degrees and 57 minutes on the Ascendant once for a horary chart and I was like, “Do I even answer this?” [laughs]
CB: Yeah. That is definitely a legitimate concern. But on the other hand, then if it’s like two or three degrees of the sign, it’s not that far off especially if it’s a sign of slow ascension, then I think there still can be something symbolically relevant about that if it is early. And I do feel like I’ve seen charts with early and late rising Ascendance where either there’s something about the question that’s premature and they’re asking too soon, or alternatively there’s something that’s already concluded and either they don’t acknowledge it or they don’t realise it, that the matter is already done and they’re just not sort of clued in on it yet.
RB: Yeah, and that’s fair. I think that’s fair. I think you’re using that rising degree technique and saying that it’s symbolically relevant or significant is perfectly fine approach. It’s there in tradition, it’s very old, it goes back to at least Bonatti as far as we can tell or maybe older. So I think that it’s a fair technique to use. I make this point not to sort of cast doubt on the utility of this, but just so we can flash out some of the debates that are going on about the considerations at the moment in the community, sort of between the Frawley camp and the Lee Lehman or I don’t know, like the STA kind of camp I suppose would say about the utility of the considerations. But also there’s this sort of historical stuff with Nick Culpeper casting some doubt on that particular consideration at least.
CB: Would you have any idea what the STA… Because I’ve realised that in the past few years different things have changed because for example, Lee Lehman on her definition of the void-of-course Moon– like eight years ago, was keeping and staying with the modern definition of void-of-course Moon. And that was true. Even like a few years ago, she published an advanced horary workbook and mentioned things that had changed since the Martial Art of Horary Astrology and didn’t mention this. But then evidently sometime in the past three to four years, he has now adopted towards interpretation of Lilly and says that that’s what Lilly was doing based on the charts, which puts her more in line with the STA people. Do you happen to know the STA people what their position is on the considerations? Because I’ve no idea.
RB: I’m not sure. I’m perhaps generalising by assuming that Lee’s stance is in line with the STA’s. That might that might be an overgeneralization, I suppose. I don’t actually know exactly what they’re teaching at the moment. I have to presume though that it’s fairly traditional and that the considerations are valuable and that they’re worth at least learning and, you know, looking at and trying out for yourself. I have to assume that. I’m not actually sure, though, what their stance is at the moment on that.
CB: Okay, that’s fine. I was just curious because I have no idea. I know Frawley’s position, I know Lee’s position from her book, but I realised sometimes I focus so much on just the primary sources and what the primary sources say that I often don’t know what the contemporary practitioners say. And sometimes I’m caught off guard by contemporary debates that I didn’t know existed. So reception, sometimes reception and whether reception with malefics is a debate that I didn’t know existed until several years back. And there’s other little things like that where sometimes there’s modern interpretations that I wouldn’t have come to myself from reading the texts, the primary sources on my own, and suddenly there’s different interpretations of them that I didn’t know existed.
RB: Yeah. Look, that’s fair. And I think horary in particular, perhaps because of the nature of it, might be an area where you get a lot more debate and a lot more disagreement. Because there’s this sort of intense need to have a definitive answer on certain topics, you know, and like to sort of say, “Well, this is the right way to do it.” Because otherwise you get this confusion or you get this sort of divergence of different approaches, and we’re trying to be very sort of concrete and specific in horary. So I think it’s an area where you do get a lot of different disagreement and debate, especially when we’re reading translations of old books where the wording really matters. You tend to get this- It seems to be an area where people are bickering a lot, let’s say, in horary so it’s hard to keep up. I also find it hard to keep up myself sometimes. [laughs]
CB: Yeah. Yes. That’s why sometimes I just ask to be clued in just in case, so I do know. So one of the things that was interesting, , you and I both, I had counted up the considerations and Lilly went through and counted them up and I came up with 12, and when I read your paper you had also come to 12. I’ve seen different people report different things but I thought that was interesting that we basically came to the same conclusion of the number of those in his initial introduction of them. But one of the things I thought was interesting is that he, later in the seventh house questions, introduces another set of aphorisms and he both reiterates some of the considerations, but he also adds some potentially new ones that are like extensions of some of the previous ones. And not all of those are necessarily considerations, per se, but we thought it was interesting because Lilly got some of these considerations, the very first ones, from Bonatti and they come partially from Bonatti’s own aphorisms or considerations. One of the things I realised later is that the initial considerations, while they all are like considerations before judgement before horary, they’re also just kind of aphorisms. There’s a little bit of a lack of clear boundary and there’s a little bit of interchangeability between considerations and aphorisms to some extent even though in the modern horary tradition in the mid 20th century, the considerations evolved to have this special, separate place as these scary warnings that you’re supposed to reject charts with if they show up. I kind of wonder just what the role is, or what the exchanges with the relationship is, with just being aphorisms that you’re supposed to take into account. And if people had understood that, then you would have a much better understanding of the level of importance you’re supposed to place on these rules.
RB: That’s right. Yes. I was thinking that myself. That seventh house part of Lilly, actually it’s very relevant. I was thinking about it last night. There’s also stuff there too.
CB: Here, let me show you that so you can put it up on the screen.
RB: Yeah. It’s worth having a look at. So he mentions the rule about the chart being radical, which is comparing the rising sign with the triplicity. Sorry, the rising Sun with the lord of the hour.
CB: So the first degrees or later degrees.
RB: Yeah, these are the ones from Bonatti and they also appear in considerations earlier in the book. And then- Oh, go ahead.
CB: This third one. This is the one that I think is like an extension of some of the like first house Saturn or seventh house Saturn, things that he’s pointing out in the initial considerations. And this one, he puts it in the 10th and he says, “The position of Saturn and Mars in the 10th, and they peregrine or unfortunate, or the South Node in that house, the artist hardly gets credit for the question.”
RB: Hmm. Yeah.
CB: And that’s really interesting thinking about the result of the question or the reputation of the astrologer subsequent to answering the question or what have you, being described in the question itself. Or at least the astrologers intertwining with the question being a relevant thing that the astrologer might want to know about ahead of time?
RB: Yeah, that’s right. It’s another way of looking at that, sort of inserting the astrologer into the chart in a way and saying, “Well, this is me and this is my interest in this outcome as well.” It also reminds me a little bit of the old Dorothean thing of putting, you know, first is me. So first is the queerier and seventh is sort of the other subject in the question, then fourth is sort of the outcome and the 10th is sort of the business itself. And perhaps if there’s afflictions in the 10th that sort of shows, it’s not going to go well. Something like that. Something vague like that. But yeah, I think it also might just be to do with the 10th’s reputation as well in that concept of, “Well, if this is me in public and my public status, then having Saturn and Mars there might affect my public status in a negative way.”
CB: Right. So one of the things about that that then raised a question for me was– because they’re labelled as considerations is 12 from the end of book one, but then it’s like; is that a consideration and therefore, do we have to expand them? Do we have to say that there’s more than 12 considerations, really, because some of these should be included? Although the issue is I don’t think you necessarily include all of these in his subsequent aphorisms, so it gets a little tricky.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. I think that’s true. This is a good point, actually, as well. It’s that the considerations, as they sort of set out earlier in the text in this book, do take on sort of a life of their own in the modern horary sort of tradition, and perhaps one that really didn’t necessarily intend them to sort of take on. We treat them as this sort of checklist and you sort of go through it, and if any of them are there then you’re supposed to throw the chart in the bin or something extreme like that. I don’t know whether he really intended them to be used in this way or sort of canonised, if you like, in this way and sort of revered in the way that he’d revere them now. They may have just been a set of things to look at. He also includes some later on the seventh house where he includes some more aphorisms there. I think you’re right, they have an aphoristic nature to them. They’re kind of picky and rounded and, you know, self contained.
CB: Yeah, one other thing I’ve been realizing– because I found some later aphorisms that Lilly did– so he had Coley or whoever translated Bonatti’s aphorisms as The Astrologers Guide, and that was published as a separate publication. But then Sue Ward sent me to a link where the tradition journal has been relaunched and their website has been relaunched, which I didn’t know about by Luis and Helena Avelar. Helena Avelar and Luís Ribeiro, they relaunched the traditional website, but it has a bunch of these texts that they had done that are really amazing that include a bunch of aphorisms, some of which are from Lilly’s later career that I didn’t know about. Here, let me see if I can share it. So it’s at traditionjournal.com. It’s got a lot of stuff, especially this. I’d been looking for this for a while because I remembered it but then their website’s been offline for years, but The Life of Lilly it’s a nice annotated Lilly’s autobiography by Sue Ward. So here it is, Choice Astrological Aphorisms by William Lilly. I was like, “What is this?” and opened it up. It’s a whole other sort of book of aphorisms. Then she says it’s Extracted from Merlinus Angelicus by William Lily, London, 1676. And I’ve a few hours like earlier today looking for this and realised it wasn’t a book. It was just one of his almanacs.
CB: So he published additional lists of like aphorisms in some of his later almanacs, and this may not have been the only year that he did this but he actually may have done this in other years as well. Which makes me realise that he just really liked aphorisms, like aphorisms were kind of William Lilly’s thing and he was kind of into them and that’s what the considerations were. And it’s an early example of that of him giving you a list of early horary aphorisms right before he introduces horary astrology. But then like you said, they kind of got canonised as this thing that took on a life of its own?
RB: Yeah, that’s right. I think that’s absolutely right, Chris. I think what you see– and we can get into this later perhaps– but some of the things in the list of considerations of the main one, the canonised set, do seem to be things that were originally in aphorisms or in sets of instructions for other things you’re supposed to do in horary and kind of found their way into the considerations list there by Lilly. And then becomes sort of seen as things that you have to look at before you read a chart. Originally they may have not been intended for this very specific purpose, there might have been more general statements of things to look out for and you’re doing horary, you know, and then they become used in this… I think what I’m trying to get out is that because they appear in this list called Considerations Before Judgement and because people are reading Lilly very closely at the moment than they’ve had they had for the last 30/40 years since the traditional revival, they sometimes overanalyze things or overate things or sort of take things to this heights and treat them in this way that they may not necessarily had been intended to be originally.
So the stuff he says about, you know, “Well, okay, if this ruler of the Ascendant is like retrograde or if it’s combust or something, the question is not going to work out very well.” And then because it’s in the Considerations Before Judgement part of the book, people are looking at that going, “Well, before I read this chart, I have to look at the Ascendant ruler. Before I start reading it and see if it’s messed up, you know, retrograde or combust or something. If it is, then I should probably think about whether I want to read the chart or not.” Maybe what that rule is saying is just when you’re reading charts generally, if the ruler of the Ascendant’s combustible, it’s going to be hard to like make something of that. Even if it’s in an applying aspect with the planet you want, the fact that it’s combust or retrograde or something might mean that it doesn’t actually produce the outcome. So it’s more of a general horary rule that’s then being used in the considerations. So I think you’re right that some of this stuff might be more general in nature and then it becomes sort of interpreted by people as being really important to look at before you read a chart. That sort of particular context of before you read the chart, you know?
CB: Yeah, and also of calling it like a consideration as opposed to an aphorism. Because I think if you understood it as an aphorism, you know, to take that as a possible interpretive principle that may be relevant as a useful mimetic tool in some instances for interpreting certain combinations or certain placements, but that it’s not supposed to be taken as a sort of axiomatic, this will always happen every time and is not to be taken into account outside of other mitigating considerations that might change the picture a little bit. But when you call it a consideration before judgement or a consideration- And also with some of the language that Lilly himself used by referring to warnings and other things in the initial considerations before judgement, I think that may have put more of a spin on it that gave later readers maybe an unintended emphasis of avoiding these things at all costs rather than just taking into account as a potential outcome?
RB: That’s right. That’s right. And not to sort of repeat the ground that you’ve already gone over with Sue, but Sue Ward’s work demonstrates that Lilly was not using these things axiomatically, and he was still taking charts that sometimes had these features in them for different reasons. And he was still factoring them in then perhaps steering away from certain charts and steering more towards others and things like that, but he was not using them sort of in this very hard and fast or black and white kind of way. He was using them more as things to be mindful of. I think that’s important to keep in mind as well, is that these things perhaps– because we are so focused on texts and we’re all very interested in reading them carefully and understanding them– perhaps some side effects of that might be that we take things to be more important or more of a hard and fast rule than they really were.
CB: Yeah. Once something gets committed to print and it’s said by somebody who’s viewed as in authority or an in an authoritative position, the older that gets the more emphasis is given and more, not respect or admiration, but the more that’s treated as a major consideration, it becomes entrenched as a foundational part of the tradition and sometimes blown out of all proportion relative to even what the author intended in terms of their level of of emphasis on that. That’s something that I’m actually very nervous about constantly with the podcast, like making some blow-off comment and then that becomes the statement that astrologers are repeating about that one thing, you know, about something like whole sign houses or Zodiac Releasing or something like that, what that would look like on a long timeline of like 100 years from now. If somebody is going to be quoting some joke that I made on the podcast that was taken seriously, or something like that.
RB: Yeah, it’s a concern. It seems to happen a lot in the tradition over time. I want to be careful here because I think the considerations have value, you know?
CB: Yeah, I know. I do.
RB: In saying these things about, you know, they shouldn’t be used axiomatically and they shouldn’t… I think there’s still value there and there’s a reason for them to be there.
CB: Yeah. Just to clarify, I wasn’t rejecting them in that sense or saying they don’t have value. I didn’t mean to downplay them because I actually think I give them more value than many practitioners might. That’s one of the things I appreciated about Sue’s work, is showing that they were giving relevant information in Lilly’s horary charts oftentimes, and they were being taken into account. And many of them are some of them, at least, I have found useful. Like that early or late degree rising in describing certain horary questions being useful information. I guess I just wasn’t necessarily taking them as– like when I think of an aphorism, I think of something that’s conditionally true or maybe true, but maybe not always 100% of the time.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. It’s sort of something to keep in mind. You look at the chart and if it’s there, you note it kind of thing. I think that’s what sort of intended with some of these considerations, is that similar kind of approach of just memorising it and then noting it when you see it.
CB: I love that you keep using this phrase ‘something to keep in mind’ and that’s the perfect phrase because that’s exactly what a consideration is, and that’s probably how he intended it. But then it later became, you know, the strictures or… I forget what the other word was that Ivy Goldstein Jacobson used– the warnings or something like that– of something that is more sort of meant to be spooky or scary or something like that.
RB: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think it’s safe to say the way that they’ve been used more recently has perhaps been more strict or more dogmatic than perhaps they were in the past, you know? And yeah, perhaps that’s how I would summarise my view on that.
CB: So it looks like Ivy Goldstein Jacobson called them cautions and then it was Barbara Walters, then 1973 they called them strictures.
RB: Strictures, that’s a very strong word isn’t it? Stricture.
CB: Yeah. I pulled up a dictionary to get an exact definition of stricture, and it was saying something like; something that closely restraints or limits a restriction or moral strictures.
RB: That’s like a tight restraint. That sounds like sort of a rule that if you break it, woe betide you. And I think that’s sort of the way that some people do approach these considerations these days. In my mind I picture Christopher Warnock who teaches primarily in the sort of Renaissance William Lilly’s style of horary. His approach to the considerations has changed over time. He initially would always note when the chart was radical or not using the Bonatti sort of Ascendant and planetary hour method, but then he would always proceed to read the chart anyway. Then over time, he decided that he would just stop bothering to note it. He said, “Well, if I’m reading the chart anyway why am I bothering to note it? He thought that it perhaps helped him to be more confident with the chart. Like if he saw that it lined up, he would be more confident in making concrete statements about what he thought that the chart indicated. Whereas if it was not there, he might be more cautious and more qualifying with what he would say. But I think the fact is that he took charts anyway. So that, over time, made him wonder whether it was worth the time and effort of checking that. You just have to get on with reading the chart. [laughs] That’s an example of just how people have sometimes been strict about it and changed their views about it. These things evolve and change, I think, and they’ll probably continue to. There’ll be debates back and forth in the contemporary community about how to use these things and how much value they have. I’ve certainly ended up more on the scale of not using them very much and that’s mainly because I’m so focused on the early horary tradition in particular. I’ve kind of been less interested in the later tradition, like the William Lilly tradition. I’ve just become very focused on Islamic texts and try to understand what they do because they don’t have the same kinds of considerations that you see in Lilly and Bonatti. It’s just sort of not been something that I’ve been focusing on a lot personally.
CB: Yeah, definitely focused on that tradition of Masha’allah and then especially when Ben’s translation of Sahl came out in 2008, is forming the basis and foundation of my horary practice. It’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve become much more interested in what was going on in the Renaissance tradition and kind of fascinated by some of this different stuff, because I’m impressed by the extent to which Lilly actually did go back and read so many sources and then synthesised them in Christian astrology, and what his unique synthesis was of the tradition from his vantage point in the 17th century is kind of interesting in different ways. But it’s something that’s relatively new to me.
RB: Yeah. I also came with the opposite. It’s interesting to think about because I started out sort of from the other end looking at Renaissance horary and being really interested in Lilly and reading Frawley and learning a lot from Christopher Warnock about Renaissance astrology.
CB: I shouldclarify, it’s like I did read Lilly earlier. I did have Christian Astrology. I got lucky and picked up the [unintelligible 00:19:42] edition in a bookstore in Seattle in like 2007, which I’m still surprised that I have because it seems to be the best addition of Lilly that there is and it’s very hard to find.
RB: Jealous. [laughs]
CB: So it’s like I’d read that and read especially the first couple of books of Lilly but was focused so much I’m writing my book on Hellenistic astrology for 10 years that I didn’t go that far outside of the Hellenistic tradition just so I could finish writing that book. But since it’s been out over the past few years, it’s been nice to now get into some of these other later traditions.
RB: Yeah. I sort of started with Lilly and now I’m reading Masha’allah and Sahl really closely. It’s a funny sort of different trajectory.
CB: I like that. One of the things Sue mentioned yesterday that I didn’t know and was a surprise to me was she said that, and maybe you can inform me on this if you know any additional background, but that Christian Astrology was published in 1647 by Lilly, and then I thought there was a second edition that was published like a decade or like 12 years later, but she said that that was actually a pirated edition where somebody had gotten a hold of the press plates for the first edition and then they they had done like an unauthorised second edition or something. Have you heard about this? I want to know more about this. I’m certainly fascinated.
RB: No, that sounds really interesting. I just assumed like you that the later edition from 1659 or whatever was authorised, I didn’t know that there was this potential for it to be this black market Lilly. [laughs]
CB: Yeah. I thought, and in our notes in the episode I did with Nina on Lilly and Christian Astrology, we just noted it as like a very slightly updated or corrected edition, which is what I thought it was. But she was saying something else. So there’s still lots of really interesting stories and things like that. There’s also lots of interesting things about this point in the tradition in terms of the interaction between the different astrologers and the rivalries that are much more well documented and fleshed out, which is very interesting and sort of novel compared to, you know, we know a lot less about the mediaeval astrologers and who they were interacting with and then we know even way more or less about the Hellenistic astrologers and who they were interacting with, and whether even though Valens and Ptolemy lived in the same city, possibly in Alexandria in roughly the same timeframe, we have no idea if they interacted or were buddies or hated each other or what. But with Lilly and some of those people, you have much more worked out lineages and genealogies and stuff.
RB: Yeah, that’s true. I’ve been reflecting on that myself where in the early mediaeval tradition that I’m focused on, Abu Ma’shar is kind of like the first one who really we have much biographical details and tidbits about and some interesting anecdotes about his life, which is really nice to sort of round out this personality because for Sahl or for Masha’allah, we don’t have much about them at all; who they were, what they were like as people and things like that. We know a little bit about Al-Kindi like apparently he was really stingy with money. Some little funny details like that. But yeah, it really rounds out the figures to sort of see. You really get to meet them in the Renaissance period in their work, but also just from the anecdotes and stories that are told about them that sort of collect around them as well. Which you just don’t get, unfortunately, with the older authors. It’s always a nice reflect. Like reading William Lilly’s autobiography story is really interesting to see the colourful characters that also practiced astrology at the time, he was just getting started.
CB: Yeah. And like the wooing of his wife that he met and the way that he describes that and different things like that is really funny. And yeah, there’s a lot of interesting– there’s much more like the personality. Because even though this is true of ancient astrologers and like Valens, that’s one of the things that I love about Valens. He’ll have these personal digressions occasionally, which makes you realise this is actually just some guy that’s living in the second century and doing astrology at that time, and there’s something relatable about it. The Renaissance period having that fleshed out more, it makes you realise that even though this is 400 years old, that people are still very much the same and many of the same dynamics are still in play in terms of human interactions. And that’s why astrology is a system that can still work, because there’s something about the core system that does describe human life accurately and is still relevant to us today.
RB: Yeah, that’s really true. That’s what makes it so relatable. I love those moments where you’re reading someone’s old textbook and some line or something just rings true to you and you just think, “They’re grappling with the same issues that I am in my practice.” And to bring it back to the considerations, I think there are definitely moments like that where I’ve been looking at the old texts and what they have to say about things to be mindful of before you cast a chart or when you’re looking at a chart, you know? And some of the concerns they have are the same concerns I have, like making sure that it’s the right time like daylight savings time– I think it’s changing. I think it just changed recently in America– and that can really befuddle horary astrologers if you don’t remember to set the software or whatever to change them daylight savings to not daylight saving.
CB: Yeah, that’s terrible. And that would be an instance where sometimes that can happen and you might not see in the consideration, but for the actual chart might be there of, you know, Saturn in the seventh house in the astrologer somehow making a mistake, or there being something wrong with the astrologer’s judgement. Sometimes it can be something like, that you’re looking at the wrong chart or something?
RB: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Yeah, it can be just that literal, I think. And the transit, that’s another thing; that the transits can become enshrined in the chart. So yeah, there’s a Saturn in the seventh house going on and then you cast the chart, and now you are sort of inhabiting the role of that seventh house with Saturn messing it up. [laughs]
CB: That’s really crucial, just the idea of the consultation chart and the idea, especially I think in the early horary tradition, where you have some of those rules from Masha’allah that are repeated in some of the later astrologers, I think in Bonatti, about not asking your own questions than most horary practice then would have always involved in exchange of a question between Aquarians and the astrologers. It sets up a framework where that exchange framework is always assumed and therefore some of these rules that always assume that the astrologer is receiving the question as the seventh house party, and that it’s almost partially like an extension of the consultation chart in some way, makes sense in that context. Like why they’re talking about Saturn in the first house and there being a problem with the querent, or Saturn in the seventh house and there being a problem with you, the astrologer, or Saturn in the 10th house and something about the outcome or the result of the interaction between the two of you resulting in something that’s problematic for one or both of you.
RB: Yeah, that really makes a lot of sense. I think that really explains actually the rules that you see in Lilly about the first and seventh house. Afflictions to those houses being important as a consideration for judgement and why those rules do actually also appear in the earlier horary texts, like in the sense of [unintelligible 00:27:36] and in Sahl there are these lines about, you know, “Just be careful if Ascendant rule is afflicted, and be careful if the seventh rule is afflicted.” Because if you think about it, the consultation is kind of a contractual interaction. It’s between two people. And so when you’re doing an electional chart using Dorotheus for a sale or interaction or exchange of money, well, the first house is you and the seventh house is the other party in that interaction, in that sale and in that exchange of goods and services. That’s probably where that first and seventh house afflictions become really important in a horary question because you’re sitting down with someone and they’re across from you at a table or something like that. That’s the context in which horary was originally practiced. These days we do it by email and Zoom and things like that, but originally you would sit across from someone. So yeah, that absolutely I think is the conceptual underpinning of why those afflictions to the first and seventh houses are important to look at when you’re doing a horary.
CB: Yeah, let’s look at some of those considerations. This is later in the list but one of the later ones is Lilly says, “You must also be wary; when in any question propounded you find the cusp of the seventh house afflicted, or the Lord of that house Retrograde or impeded, and the matter at that time not concerning the seventh house but belonging to any other house, it’s an argument that the judgement of the astrologer will give small content or anything will please the Querent, for the seventh house generally has signification for the artist.” Then he mentioned the Arabians and Al-Kindi and then a bunch of the other considerations that really relate to that framework. So the next one is, “If Saturn’s in the Ascendant, especially Retrograde, the matter of the question seldom or never comes to good. Saturn in the seventh either corrupts the judgement of the astrologer or is the sign that the matter propounded will come from one misfortune to another. If Lord of the Ascendant combust, neither question propounded will take, or the querent will be regulated. Lord of the seventh unfortunate, or in his fall, or terms of the infortunes the artist shall scarcely give a solid judgement. I was able to trace this one back to, because we were both looking for sources, I found one source for this one in the Centiloquium that was attributed to Ptolemy but was probably by some 10th century Arabic author. Here, it’s actually number 14. It’s pretty early on in that list, and this is from the Ashmand translation of Ptolemy, because at the end of it they threw these aphorisms that were associated with Ptolemy in the mediaeval period. The 14th says, “The astrologer will be entangled in a labyrinth of error, when the seventh house and its Lord shall be afflicted.” On one hand it’s interesting because again, it’s coming from an aphorism itself in the beginning, and then Lilly incorporates that into his list of aphorisms. But then on the other hand, he was seeing a lot of clients so it may have been an aphorism that he decided to retain because maybe he did screw up or something when Saturn was in the seventh house one day, or gave a bad judgement like everybody has. Like an off day or, you know, gets one wrong every once in a while. And sometimes you go back and look at that chart and see what happened or what went wrong and learn something from it?
RB: Yeah, that’s right. I think there must be a little bit of empiricism going on with Lilly, I suspect, with some of this stuff as well.
CB: So it’s like a balance between on the one hand, it’s interesting for us to trace back some of these rules and find them in earlier authors, especially since Lily mentions like the Arabians and Al-Kindi sort of signalling that he’s drawing some of this from earlier sources, and to look at this from a almost purely textual standpoint. But then on the other hand, we also have to realise that as a practising astrologer for over a decade at that point, for 12 years or something, that Lilly also there was a experiential component for him in terms of the things that he decided to emphasise based on whatever must have worked better in practice for him?
RB: Yeah, I suspect that’s right. That’s what some of Sue’s work seems to suggest, that just judging by the charts he was taking and gaps between charts and things like that, you can draw some inferences about, “Well, why did he avoid taking charts in this hour or something like that?” You can start thinking about questions like that. It might be circumstantial but it might also be deliberate. You know, there’s some interesting stuff. You can speculate at least that he was looking at the charts and adapting to them and learning from them as he’s working, and some of the stuff he reports and advises you in the book might be his own sort of learning as well as stuff from old texts.
CB: Well, one of the things with astrology is sometimes even if you see something like that, you just have to do it or just have to try. I don’t most astrologers can or always have the luxury of just like walking away from a question if you think there might be a problem. And that comes up nowhere else more frequently than in Electional Astrology as an astrologer when you’re trying to do things and you sometimes just have to work with the best that you can, or you see that you have to launch something under a not-great electional chart and then you just start to do it, you just do the best you can. And I’m sure there’s many charts where Lilly still went ahead and interpreted the chart, even if he was aware that there could be a potential problem going into it.
RB: Yeah, that’s right.
CB: Like maybe that’s just something that’s supposed to warn you in terms of trying to be on your toes not to make a mistake, or to do better, or be careful if it’s something that’s related to you as an astrologer in your performance or something?
RB: Yeah, I think that’s right. It’s almost like a little warning or something like, you know, “Be careful with this one,” or “Take your time with this one.” I don’t want to sort of read too much into it but if it’s Saturn perhaps, you want to sort of go slowly and be careful of things like that.
CB: Yeah, double check that you got the right time, that you got the daylight savings or what have you.
RB: [laughs] That’s right. Thank you for finding that source. Because I was struggling to find the source from the Islamic period for the seventh house affliction being relevant, but that sense Centiloquium is an interesting text because it claims to be written by Ptolemy, but there’s some scholarship that’s been done that suggests it was actually written by a 10th century Islamic author.
CB: Yeah, because he wrote a commentary on it at the same time or very shortly after that in Arabic, so then the assumption of the scholars than has been that he actually authored the set of aphorisms that he attributed to Ptolemy and then wrote a commentary on them immediately afterwards. And then those aphorisms because they’re attributed to Ptolemy in Arabic, actually got translated back into Greek by the Byzantine astrologers who thought they had actually preserved a genuine work of Ptolemy, and then it got sort of passed on from there.
RB: Yeah, it’s fascinating history that document. But the fact that there’s that rule in there is evidence that that rule was observed by astrologers in the Islamic tradition of horary, at least by the time that it was written. That’s evidence enough for me that they were looking at things like this back then. They were looking at the seventh house and saying, “Okay, maybe I’m in trouble if I answer this question” Or they’re looking at the first house and seeing that it’s afflicted and going, “Oh, this guy doesn’t have a hope in hell. [laughs] I don’t even want to answer this question for him because it’s not going to go well.” That kind of thing.
CB: Yeah. You tried to trace some of the other sources at the different considerations. Like the first few we know are from Bonatti with the hour matching, like the Ascendant of the ruler of the Ascendant, as well as the earlier late degrees rising. That’s from Bonatti. Let’s see what are the other ones in order. So after that, it’s the Moon in later degrees of the sign. And some say when she’s in the combustor, that’s kind of like a generic thing that lots of authors talk about to some extent, right?
RB: Yeah, I think that comes from Sahl but ultimately it’s old, it goes back to Dorotheus and his list of afflictions of the Moon really. This is just standard afflictions of the Moon. If the Moon’s in late degrees, it’s in the terms of the malefics. Sahl actually mentions this. The reason I think Sahl is because he specifically mentions Gemini in his list of defects of the Moon. He says, “Be careful when the Moon’s in the later degrees of the signs, you know, the end of the signs especially when it’s in Gemini.” And then he kind of goes on. So that’s sort of specific mention of Gemini, like in particular to be careful of. I think he says it’s because it’s the 12th from Cancer?
CB: Okay, the 12th from its domicile?
RB: Yeah. That’s why I think that’s probably coming from Sahl.
CB: Then the next one is the void of course one and then he gives the exception that it performs in Taurus, Cancer, Sagittarius or Pisces as a mitigation for void of course, and I’m pretty sure that’s Bonatti, right? Bonatti lists that mitigation.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. I think Lilly is getting that from Bonatti. And again, that’s another old piece of law. You’ve done a podcast on the void-of-course Moon and how irrelevant that consideration is so there’s this traditional kind of general things to be mindful of, I think.
CB: Okay. The next one is the one we’re just talking about; the cusp of the seventh house afflicted or the Lord of the seventh house in some way afflicted. So that’s that. Saturn in the Ascendant, especially Retrograde, is that one that you traced?
RB: Yeah. Let me just look that one up. Let me see here… That one, I think, there’s a chapter in Al-Kindi where he says, it’s chapter four which is called the Beginning of Affairs, I think. It sort of seems to be a list of electional rules but also possibly some horary stuff as well mixed in. In one of them he says, “Beware lest the Lord of the Ascendant or the quisitive matter appear Retrograde, for even though all things may be promised as being able to come about, the effecting of the matter will follow after much labour and long desperation with many adverse obstacles.” So it’s not talking about Saturn being there but it’s saying that an affliction to the ruler of the Ascendant, and specifically if the ruler of the Ascendant is Retrograde, that could be a problem. Then there’s also a line in Sahl where he talks about that if the significator of the querent is afflicted like, you know, combust or Retrograde or cadent to some other problem with it, then it sort of shows that the querent is unfortunate or prone to misfortune and unlikely to sort of succeed. I think the implication is that they’re unlikely to succeed at them in the endeavour. Again, they don’t exactly say Saturn, but it’s pointing to issues with the first house as being something that you want to look at perhaps early in the consultation. Perhaps beforehand, hard to say, but at least early on you want to take a good look at that and consider if those afflictions are going to be a major problem.
CB: Let me check my list and see if I’d found a source because I’m surprised especially because he mentions Al-Kindi by name and he mentions the quote unquote “Arabian astrologers,” that there’s not like a more obvious– especially with these first two, like Saturn in the first are Saturn in the seventh– as like a source that we can point to that he’s drawing on. Because we sort of expected this point, that these are certainly the ones that he’s signalling that he’s getting from somebody else.
RB: I haven’t been able to find an exact- Well, I’d be interested to see if you can find something. I was wondering whether it might be in like [Al Gujral] or something. I haven’t read Al Gujral. There’s not an English translation available of Al Gujral. But that was a really important and influential text for the Europeans. So that might be in there. But I agree those quotes I just read are not really, that it’s not the same thing. It’s sort of conceptually similar, I guess, but it’s not the text he’s drawing on.
CB: I mean, it shows at least that the rule that Lilly gives in the Considerations is conceptually consistent with the early tradition and how they’re treating like the first house and the seventh house in horary questions so that either, he was drawing on some other rule that came from that tradition that would have interpreted Saturn in the first of the seventh that way and that would make totally total sense conceptually, or alternatively Lilly himself drawing on that conceptual tradition himself could have made that extension that Saturn in the seventh or the first could indicate those things.
RB: Yeah, that’s right.
CB: Yeah. It doesn’t look like I do. I just have the note, which was the same note you had about Al-Kindi saying something about the seventh house representing doctors in chapter 31 of the 40 chapters, which just shows again more of the conceptual consistency of the seventh house being treated in that way.
RB: Yeah, it’s a similar thing to what you said earlier about the first and seventh being relevant in any kind of interaction or contractual sort of exchange of some sort. So the doctor comes to help you so that you’re sort of purchasing their services in some way. They’re the seventh house and you’re the first house and that kind of… And similarly to when you go to visit an astrologer. They will be the seventh house because you’re going to visit them and get their services.
CB: Right. I wonder if it was from one of those. I didn’t finish looking through because I found one of these was in one of the Renaissance astrologers. That aphorism wasn’t just in the pseudo Ptolemy aphorisms, but also got repeated by like Claude Dario. I meant to look and see if any of these other ones were in his text as well but I haven’t gotten a chance to yet.
RB: I haven’t gone and looked at the Renaissance texts, I’ve been focusing a lot on the earlier things. But it’s interesting to see how well they report it.
CB: The Book of the Nine Judges as well, I didn’t finish going through all of that. Had you searched through that for any of these?
RB: Yeah, I did actually. I found some interesting things in there actually. I shall go down to where I’ve got my notes for it. There’s no real rules-
CB: I only found the last one in The Book of the Nine Judges, the 12th one of benefics and malefics being equal, but that’s because it was coming from Masha’allah and it was in Bonatti and it seems like it’s in a lot of people.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. In The Book of the Nine Judges, there’s a quote from Umar and Umar reports– I think he’s building on Masha’allah, he’s just basically expanding on Masha’allah’s on hidden things– and he discusses that the issue of having fight a finely balanced chart with both malefics and benefics kind of equally balanced. The only thing to mention other than that, because there’s not really other really real rules like you see in Lilly in Nine Judges, this is more sort of that advice instead of make-sure-you’ve-got-the-right-time kind of advice. But Masha’allah does at one point make a statement that Ben Dykes interpreted as possibly indicating that the early authors believed that you could tell whether someone was misleading you by looking at the chart. Which is interesting conceptually, because we know that the method of finding out whether a chart is radical of using the rising sign and the planetary hour probably comes from Bonatti. But what this quote from Masha’allah in Nine Judges shows is that there may have been an earlier tradition or an earlier concept of being able to do something similar. You know, of being able to look at a chart and by looking at certain indications, tell whether someone is coming to you for the wrong reason or withholding information from you. I wonder if that’s worth me reading or sharing because it’s interesting to this whole issue of, you know, the primary reason why you get into considerations before judgement is because of this anxiety about, “Can I trust this person? Is he telling me the truth,” that kind of thing. And this is an early author speaking on that and sort of talking about how you might be able to overcome that.
CB: Yeah, go ahead if you want to.
RB: Yeah, so it’s in the section of The Nine Judges, it’s right at the start. It’s from a book by Masha’allah. It’s not on Reception, it’s at some other horary texts that he wrote, and it’s preserved in Nine Judges. It says, “But if anyone made a question in order to test to the astrologer, or in order to scoff– I think that means to sort of just mess around– the effect and end of the affair in no way leaves the proper intention untouched.” That’s sort of difficult Latin and Dykes admits that that’s a tortured sentence in Latin because he’s reading through the translator. This particular translator liked really flowery sentences and makes things difficult to understand. Okay, just say that again. “If anyone made a question in order to test the astrologer or in order to scoff, the effect and end of the affair in no way leaves the proper intention untouched.” What you can take from that, perhaps, is that proper intention– it depends what proper intention means but one way that you can interpret that, which Dykes notes, is that it could mean that the chart will be affected by that. By the fact that the quieren is scuffing or or coming to test you, the chart somehow responds to that intention to laugh at you or that intention to test you in some way in that you might be able to sort of see that. And elsewhere in one of Dyke’s books, The Search of the Heart which is about thought interpretation, he quotes that same passage from Masha’allah that I just read and he says… In his introduction to The Search of the Heart, ben quotes that and he says that maybe what that’s pointing to is using thought interpretation to figure this out. Bonatti’s solution to this is to check the planetary hour and check the rising sign and compare the two, and Ben Dykes notes that in his search. So this is Bonati’s approach and Lilly’s approach to figuring out this problem. But it seems like the other authors might have just used that thought interpretation method of finding the significator of thought; of what the querent is thinking about, what they want to know about, or what’s on their mind, what’s the pressing issue, etc. And then comparing that to sort of what they’re saying [laughs] and and sussing out that way whether they’re trying to mock you or test you in some way.
CB: Yeah, that makes total sense. And I think that’s it, and that is the core of the Considerations Before Judgement is that; one, that they had established, and by this point in the astrological tradition, the amazing and magical thing had been established about horary, which is that the chart cast for the moment of the question and the exchange of a question between two parties– between the client and the astrologer– that if the astrologer cast a question for that moment, it would describe what the person was thinking and what they were asking about, and what the focus of the client was in that chart just in the same way that the chart we showed of Lisa’s horary question at the very beginning of this show. You casting that chart for when you received the question showed that she was thinking about her job and her health. And the ruler of the Ascendant, the planet that represented her in the chart was in the sixth house, which is the place of work and health. So horary astrologers in the Horary tradition had established this really magical and weird thing that when you cast a chart for the exchange of the question, it will actually describe what the person is asking and what they’re thinking about, especially if it’s an important question. But what they also must have noticed is that sometimes when the person was approaching them and didn’t have good intentions, the chart also sometimes indicated that. That there was something weird about the intentions of this person or there were other related things related to the consultation and what would come of it, that could be seen in the chart. And they came up enough that the astrologers sometimes would collect their own observations about what happened in those instances.
RB: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s a primary way that you can kind of check the chart’s accuracy in some ways by saying, “Well, does this line up with the situation as it’s described to me?” I know that Lilly also did this thing which is a little bit connected, where he would look at the rising sign and then see if the clearance description matched the rising sign and they looked like the rising sign, and they sort of ended the chart. He would look at marks and scars. It sounds funny, you wonder why he’s doing that. I think part of it is to impress, probably just to show the querent, “Look, the chart matches your description so astrology works.” But also potentially, he might just be trying to check that it’s right. If it lines up with the way the person looks and stuff, that makes him feel more confident about the chart. I guess you could say that.
CB: Yeah, it goes back to the question of radicality of that actually being a relevant thing and radicality being a relevant consideration for Lilly and for other earlier astrologers potentially. Because there’s like a fundamental thing that sometimes maybe we get away from in modern times and just assuming, because horary has been around so much or especially Horary astrologers who use it so frequently, take it for granted that it works. But it’s still a weird thing that you’re casting a chart for the moment of a question, and that it works at all. That it either describes what the person is asking about or describes even more so even less the outcome of the question is weird and shouldn’t be true, but for some reason it is. But there might be situations where for different reasons, maybe the chart doesn’t always reflect the situation properly if the question or the querent wasn’t basing it on a true intention or something. And that’s the part where I think we have an issue with this, with the modern approach to horary being more permissible about just whatever question is– in some of the ancient authors, they may have treated some questions as not being as valid or not being as rooted in a genuine intention on the part of the querent as other questions that clearly were. And that’s a whole discussion that is something we should have as horary astrologers but they’re just kind of hard to have sometimes because different people have different takes on that in terms of, you know, how are there valid horary questions versus not valid horary questions, or different things like that.
RB: Yeah, I think that’s right. This is a really good point and I think Sahl kind of picks up on this a little bit. This point of the chart should reflect the situation and that’s a way of sort of understanding whether you’re on the right track on questions where he talks about that the chart really should reflect the state of the querent. He talks of that very issue, you know, where he says, “If someone to whom the good fortune of the lord of his Ascendant and the Moon corresponds is made fortunate, and once whom their misfortune corresponds is made unfortunate….” And then there’s this sentence where he says, “And it is that no one asks, in a situation of the misfortune of the indicator, that is the Moon and the Lord of the Ascendant at the hour of the question, unless he is unfortunate, a distressed man or a man whom misfortune ought to strike. And likewise, good fortune, one does not ask in that situation unless it is a fortunate man, or a man whom good fortune ought to affect so.” He’s really just talking about that from a striking phenomenon, it does strike you. I think every time I cast a chart and the querent says, “I’m really concerned about work.” And then you see the planets in the 10th house or something like that and you go, “Oh, cool.” Or they say, “I really worry about my mother,” and then the Moon is combust or something.
CB: Right. So the chart’s accurately reflecting the question and what they’re asking about?
RB: Yeah. And so I think that’s a natural instinct you have as a horary astrologer, I certainly noticed it in my practice just doing that. Like when you see that it strikes you and you’re like, “Ah, good.” And I think that’s perhaps what Sahl is talking about in that passage; is being mindful of those factors that it should line up. It should line up. And then Masha’allah said with that statement that if it doesn’t line up, then you can sort of know. [laugh]
CB: Yeah, that there’s something off. Because it just has to do with this idea that we call ‘radical’ but it comes from Radix and then a lot of people talk about how that means root, that the church is rooted. But also Radix can mean that it has a strong foundation as opposed to having a weak foundation or having no foundation. I think this is important because this also comes up in Electional but it’s not often connected. But they also say that the Electional chart needs to be rooted in an earlier chart like the natal chart ideally, because if you have like a good electional chart like standalone electional chart but it doesn’t match up very well with the birth chart of the individual involved, which is the underlying like foundational chart, then the election may not be successful for that person because it doesn’t have a strong foundation in the natal chart. I think we see a similar thing going on here with the horary, which is sometimes they’re looking for– because the horary question is otherwise such an impermanent and almost like elusive thing that you’re casting a chart for question which is not really like a material thing, the closest material thing you can get is the exchange between the astrologer and the client. Like sitting down together and meeting or receiving a letter as the astrologer. They’re looking for reasons that are showing tangible signs that this is like a question that’s rooted in something deeper than just the question itself, somehow are rooted in reality. And I think that’s what the early and late degree rising thing is when Lilly mentions those exceptions, is he says, “These are things to watch out for that may indicate that the horary question is not very well rooted, it’s not radical.” But then with the early degree rising, like you said, he says, “Unless the querent is very young, and his corporature complexion, complexion and moles or scars of his body agree with the quality of the sign Ascending.” So he’s saying this could indicate the chart’s not rooted well if the Ascendant is really early, unless the person’s really young, because then the chart is actually describing somebody who’s very young because the Ascendant is early. Versus if the Ascendant is very late, then it may not be very rooted. And then he says again… Does he say that? No, I guess he doesn’t say. He says ‘unless’ and gives other things. Oh no, he does say that. He says unless they have the exact age… Doesn’t he say that at this point or am I not seeing it? Oh, yeah. “…except the querent be in years corresponding to the number of degrees ascending.” So he says this is like something if 27, 28 or 29 degrees are rising, that may indicate that it’s not a rooted question and that there’s an issue somehow, unless the person just happens to be that exact same age in which case there’s a clear concrete correspondence between the person and their physical entity in reality versus this chart that’s been cast for the moment of a question.
RB: Yeah. And these are the some of the methods that you use to sort out; Is this person, to be frankly, are they bullshitting me or are they trying mess me around and waste of my time kind of thing?” Because I assume what you’d say is, “Well, if the chart doesn’t look like the question that’s been asked, or in Lilly’s method, if the person doesn’t match the description that you’d expect they would look like based on the chart, then you might wonder, “Well, why have they come to me? Is this a nothing chart?” I guess what you’d say? Is that like, a chart that’s cast for an honest question that’s important will look like the question. I guess that’s the theory, right? And so, if it doesn’t look like the question then it’s almost a nothing chart. It’s just like the chart or the transits at that time, and it won’t have any meaningful descriptive value?
CB: Yeah. Because ultimately as the astrologer, you want to make sure it does have descriptive value and your prediction can be correct if you know that this is a chart that has a strong foundation from which to make a prediction. But if it doesn’t have a strong foundation for some reason, it may not be a strong foundation from which to make a prediction, there may be something amiss, whatever that means, and that may mean different things.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. And I think what’s really exciting is Ben Dyke’s suggestion that in the past in the early tradition when Masha’allah and Sahl and these guys were actually practising, that they might have used the thought interpretation methods to do this. That this is the approach they took. And I think that might explain- I mean, and I have some other thoughts on this. I’m trying not to get too excited, Chris, but some recent comments that were made on the podcast you recorded with Professor Olomi about Arabic Islamic astrology and Queen Buran. He talks about astrologers being tested. And he mentioned the book by [unintelligible 00:29:51], which I was aware of but didn’t think too deeply about, that actually gives some rules for how you test astrologers in sort of what things they ought to know and these stories about astrologers being sort of tested by the kailif to like, what am I holding behind my back and things like that. Thought interpretation might have been useful not only for determining if someone’s a scoffer as Masha’allah says, or is like a sceptic or something. But it might be handy to also deal with people who are trying to test you and ask you these sorts of questions like, “Well, what am I thinking of right now? What am I holding behind my back? What did I eat for breakfast?” I don’t know, but those sorts of questions coz thought interpretation rules. I’m not sure what the practical use of them is in the modern world, but when you start thinking about some of the issues that these historical astrologers were facing, and combined with this anxiety about, “Is this person lying to me or deceiving me in some way?” I think it becomes clear what these rules were used for, potentially.
CB: Yeah, definitely. And I think the existence of what Ben calls thought interpretation, and have always called consultation charts or the consultation chart framework, that the greater prominence of that during the late Hellenistic and early Mediaeval tradition, is really an important piece here and is probably where some of these rules come from. Because a lot of the thought interpretation stuff just got folded into the Horary tradition because Horary, it’s like thought interpretation. It’s probably the earlier application which is just casting a Inception chart for the beginning of the consultation, and then the chart itself will describe how the consultation will go and what the client wants to focus on, and what they’re thinking about. But then horary is what I think is a somewhat later development, where they took it a step further and they started trying to say– once they had established that they could describe what the person was thinking about, they then took it a step further to try to predict what the outcome of those thoughts would be and what the outcome of the circumstances would be that the person was concerned about at the time. They found that they could actually do that by paying attention to things like the applying aspects and applying significators and rulers of houses and things like that. And that’s basically the birth of Horary by at least the eighth century with authors like Masha’allah and Sahl where we get that more dynamic approach to horary all of a sudden that’s involving things like transfer of light and collection and different ways of rulers connecting and stuff like that.
RB: Yeah, I think that’s right. It’s important this material, this thought interpretation material, to understanding all of this. And I think that’s the reason why perhaps, because when I was looking at these earlier statements, I was looking really closely at these old texts trying to find the same sorts of rules that we see in Bonatti and Lilly like if it’s a late degree rising then be careful, or if the planetary hour doesn’t match the Ascendant then be careful. And I couldn’t find anything like that. But I think the answer is the reason why they don’t have those rules set out in that way is because they weren’t using that kind of approach, they were using the thought- It seems at least Ben speculates that they were using the thought interpretation, or the consultation shot as a way of getting into the client’s head and trying to understand what they were thinking about in a situation where maybe the astrologer was concerned they might be a sceptic– that the person coming to them might be sceptic or might be there to laugh at them or make fun of them or something like that. Or in a scenario where they’re been formally tested or someone’s come to them said, “I’ll pay you money but first let me see what you can do,” kind of situation. That might be the reason why you don’t see the sort of formulaic rules so much in the older texts is because they kind of had a different approach. And then in the European tradition, they perhaps didn’t pick up on that. And so you see Bonatti and Lilly sort of using these different or new techniques like looking for the radical chart based on the planetary hour and the rising sign.
CB: Right. Let’s see… There’s something I was gonna say about the idea of- Oh, yeah. I’ve thought about this a lot about, like consultation charts or the practical usages of that, aside from just trying to weed out sceptics or people that have negative intentions, and one of the things that’s helpful about it especially in a horary context, is helping to clarify what the client is focused on and what their primary concern is. Because sometimes this is like a famous thing that horary astrologers like Lee mentions at one point, which is this idea of negotiating the question and actually finding out what the querent is actually asking about because sometimes let’s say a client for a natal consultation, but also sometimes a horary client may not always know exactly how to ask what their question is, or they may phrase it in a way that initially makes you the astrologer think they’re asking about one thing but in reality they’re asking about something else for whatever reason. And sometimes the consultation chart or the thought interpretation or looking at the chart in that sense can help the astrologer to get right to the heart of the matter. I always speculated that’s why, like in Ben’s translation, it was called the search of the heart because you’re trying to get to the heart of the matter of what is on their mind and what their central concern is.
RB: Yeah. I think that must be a part piece as well. I think it can’t just be to be used for sceptics. I think you’re right, that’s not the full purpose. I think the original purpose is probably as you said, it’s probably to help narrow down and focus on a particular topic. And elsewhere in the middle in the early horary texts you see statements about being concerned about making sure that the querent use words like reducing down to the question, you know? It seems like there is a process going on of a discussion with the astrologer trying to make them state something simple like in Masha’allah on hidden things, which is about thought interpretation. He says the four ways that astrologers can err, and one of them is that if the questioner did not know how to ask. And so helping this helping the querent to ask a question that’s simple and makes sense, you know and is confined. Then there’s also other material in the early texts where they talk about making sure that once they’ve asked the question, they don’t add more things in. Once you’ve sorted out what the question is, you’ve done the consultation shot and you figured out what the what the question is going to be and you’ve started looking to answer it, the querent might start saying, “Oh, what about this? What about that?” You’ve got to say, “No, we’re not looking at that. We’re just focusing on the question that we’ve already kind of sorted out.” So this concern with reducing it down to one thing, keeping it simple, keeping it straightforward, you can see that they’re really interested in that. I think you’re right, that must be one of the primary purposes of the consultation chart or the thought interpretation method is. If the querent needs help, perhaps if they aren’t certain what they want to know, if they have a few different topics on their mind. Like there’s a passage in Masha’allah in Nine Judges, he says –this is really relevant, actually, to what we’re talking about right now– in Nine Judges Masha’allah says, “The manner of asking is that there’ll be a question appearing simple and absolute so that something not asked is in no way mixed in with things already asked. So if there was someone asking about marriage, he should submit a question once more about a matter he had contrived at the very last before he expects a response.” He’s kind of saying don’t let people add new questions in, but he’s also emphasising it’s really important that the question be, as he says, simple and absolute and that nothing else is mixed in with it. Like some people might come to me today with three or four different problems in their life, like they might be unfortunate enough to have several difficult things going on in their life and they might not know which one to ask about, you know?
RB: In that situation I can look at the consultation chart, or just hypothetically, I could do that and then go, “Okay, well, it looks like your significant is in like the sixth house, for example. So maybe health is more of a pressing concern for you or something.” It’s just a really simple example like that, and that helps narrow down the issue. They had more complex ways of doing it using like Victor’s and like [unintelligible 00:09:06] and stuff like that. But, you know, the idea of it is simple. The idea is just simply to help them narrow down what they want to know, you know, what are we here for today?
CB: Yeah, and there is an impressiveness factor that if you can state the focus of the client’s thoughts to them and their main focus before they’ve hardly even said anything to you as a complete stranger, that would instil a certain amount of not just surprise, but like reverence and seriousness in what you’re doing there at that point, which might be helpful in terms of then acting as their advisor, having them take the entire exchange seriously. So there’s like that factor and then additionally, Sue and I mentioned in passing the protective function or protective feature that the considerations would have in terms of the astrologer knowing what they’re getting into and being able to protect themselves if there’s anything about this consultation that they need to know about, that could be drawbacks or problematic for them in some way.
RB: Yeah. That’s a really really overly good point. Yeah, I think the protective factor needs to be considered as well. There’s two good points there; one is about impressing the client and then the other part is about protecting yourself. I’ll speak a little bit on both, hopefully not to get too sidetracked, but impressing the client seems to be another important role of the thought interpretation material. And I think, especially when you’re in a scenario like today, when I take a question I get paid up front. I take the payment, and then I answer the question. So in that scenario, the querent really has no incentive to withhold things from me. They’re financially committed already. So you would assume they’d help me, they would not withhold things from me, they would not try to mess with me or test me necessarily, you know? They might not state the question properly. They might sort of ask one thing when they mean another or not, sort of gobble it. But they wouldn’t try and deliberately withhold things necessarily. I think that’d be weird. But in the old days, someone might have said, “Okay. Well, I want to hire you to do this, to do some work for me. But first of all, tell me what I want to know.” And fold their arms and sort of, you know? And then you as the astrologer has to sit down and you cast the chat and you go, “Well, I think you want to know about your wife,” or something like that and they’re like, “Wow! Okay, you’re hired,” kind of thing. That is a realistic scenario. And I’m thinking of also the stereotypes, the gypsy fortune teller kind of complex web of stereotypes and archetypes about fortune telling where the first thing that the fortune teller tells you is, “You’re here for this,” and then your mind’s blown because before you even told them what you wanted to know, they’ve told you what you want to know. So it’s very impressive, like you said. Yeah.
CB: Well, and that actually serves an important function, because that’s something I was reflecting on after doing the episode a couple of months ago on Explaining Astrology to Sceptics, where I sat down with a couple of people who are genuinely curious about the subject but sceptical and had no belief in it or reason to think that I wasn’t just a crazy person. We did that two-hour discussion and it went really well. I mean, I thought I did a good job and most of the listeners thought I did a good enough job. But it wasn’t until the end of the actual discussion after like two hours that I thought to ask them for their birth data, and one of them declined and the other presented it. But I didn’t feel like it was appropriate at that point to just read this person’s chart as if it was a parlour trick, because I tend to think that’s a pretty serious thing that you should do carefully and not mess up or anything like that. But then I realised afterwards that they didn’t end up walking away from that discussion. While they walked away from it being impressed that I wasn’t purely crazy person in terms of being able to almost sort of explain a cosmological vision for how astrology could maybe hypothetically work, they otherwise didn’t walk away from it thinking that it actually worked in any other real sense, and therefore had no reason to think that it was legitimate thing. Therefore, somewhat to my disappointment, sadly in their follow up podcast, I was kind of disappointed that they still seemed pretty dismissive of it that they were just like, “It just can’t work and we’re kind of done with our investigations, we’re gonna move on.” And I realised that the only opportunity I could have had at that moment to change their opinions truly would have been by making a statement with astrology that I shouldn’t have been able to make about their life or about something that was going on with them at that time. That’s the only manner of proof that would have been compelling enough to change somebody’s mind who was truly sceptical about the subject. And we hear anecdotes about that down through history of like the astrologer who started out as a sceptic but was impressed by something and like he reluctantly got dragged into it. But that is potentially what it might take in many cases, or in some cases when it comes to somebody who doesn’t believe in astrology as a sceptic, and it could have a real value for that reason. Something like thought interpretation and being able to say exactly what is on the person’s mind in a way that’s going to be conducive and helpful for you as the astrologer as well as something that you could or potentially should do if it’s within your power to do.
RB: Yeah, I think they call it a convincer sometimes in this sort of world. Like Lilly says, you know, “Check check the moles and scars.” He gives rules in one point- I think if the Moon’s in a particular house, you can say that the corresponding body part or something has a mole or a scar there, I can’t remember the exact rule but it’s something pretty simple like that. And it seems like the idea was that you do that for people when they first sit down with you to sort of impress them and to sort of convince them that there’s something to this, it’s powerful. I know that myself, when I first got into horary, I had a moment where I found a lost object with it– one of my early charts– and that really impressed me and sort of inspired me to keep going. with studying it. So yeah, there is a value. I mean, on some level it seems cheap or something or like sort of showing off or something. I get that. I really relate to that and that’s why I don’t do this sort of thing in my own practice. Like, I don’t part from the fact that I don’t think my clients need convincing, but, you know?
CB: Yeah, the astrology for astrologers and people that take it seriously, that it’s not like a circus act or like a circus trick or something like that. But it is something that we take seriously so that you don’t usually feel like you need to resort to stuff like that. I was just thinking that in certain circumstances, or in let’s say certain different societies centuries earlier, maybe there would have been more of a reason that something like this could have had a useful application, that thought interpretation could have had a useful application on its own outside of horary and before you even get to horary. And that actually brings up a really interesting point that I meant to make in the podcast with Sue but didn’t or didn’t get a chance to, which is that Lilly calls it for the most part pretty consistently Horary Questions, and that’s actually the full title of the fourth branch of astrology, it’s Horary Questions or Questions. And in the Arabic tradition and in the Byzantine Greek tradition, that’s also what they called it. They called it Questions. And it’s funny though, in modern times that this got shortened and we kept one of those words, but we just call it Horary for short. But one of the things in rereading Lilly in his horary sections recently that was interesting is that he consistently refers to it as Questions much more than he refers to it as Horary.
RB: Yeah, I was thinking about that as well. It speaks to sort of the real distinctness of the branch from its earlier stuff, I suppose.
CB: Yeah: That was the thought that got me there.
RB: Yeah, yeah. And I think in Arabic it’s [00:17:50 marsayil] or something like that. It means questions or like interrogation, you know, like the questioning.
CB: Right. And then in Byzantine in Greek, they started calling it in the same period– in the Byzantine Empire– they called it erotesis, which also means questions or interrogations.
RB: Mm hmm. So it is like there’s a distinctiveness to that compared to the consultation chart or the electional kind of rules that kind of came out that it kind of evolved from.
CB: Yeah, which originally they were using the word [katarke or katarki], which is like inception. So you’re casting an inception chart for the the moment that something begins, in this case, the inception of the consultation between the astrologer and the client, although that was also the term that they used interchangeably for an inception of when a city was founded or starting. They also used it for electional charts, so [katarki] was also the term for electional charts up until modern times.
RB: Mm hmm. And thinking about all this, it just reminds me of how the transactional nature of astrology has changed and how in the ancient world there would have been more scenarios where you would need to convince or impress someone or you might need to demonstrate your skills in a way before you get paid in a way that just isn’t really true in the modern world, and how that difference in the way we make money or the way we transact also changes the way we experience astrology. And sometimes we make assumptions about astrology in the past perhaps based on the way we experience it today that may not necessarily reflect the reality. I think some of the trouble we’ve had understanding of the thought interpretation material might partly be because of that sort of issue of not being able to imagine ourselves in the shoes of someone in Baghdad in the ninth century and what they would have to go through to convince the client to pay the money, you know?
CB: Yeah. It’s like a double-edged sword that I’ve been thinking about and dwelling on a lot recently, which is both the advantages that modern practising astrologers have to studying ancient astrological traditions is that sometimes some of the dynamics that came up in ancient times are very similar to the dynamics that astrologers still experience today, and that can sometimes be useful or give astrologers unique insight when they go back and do historical research because of those similarities. And sometimes a practising astrologer can see and understand what another practising astrologer 1000 years ago or 2000 years ago would have been dealing with or what their thought process was like, in a way, because there’s similarities today. But then the flip side of that is sometimes there are blind spots or things that we’re taking assumptions about or things that we can’t see because things are so different, either in the cultural context or either in terms of how the practice of astrology has changed in the early 21st century that sometimes can limit us or act as blind spots or things that can trip us up when doing historical investigations like that. So it kind of can go both ways?
RB: Yeah, that’s exactly right. That sort of reminds me of our first point about, you know, when we started this whole conversation actually.
CB: Which was what?
RB: Oh, sorry. Um, just this idea that… Oh dear, I’ve lost my my thread now. But this notion that there’s ways that we can sort of project things back into the past and being careful about, you know, sorting out those. What’s the perspective of the the astrologists in the past?
CB: Yeah, that’s true. That makes. You know what’s funny is we never finished answering Lisa’s question or what your answer to Lisa’s question was, but it was affirmative, right?
RB: [laughs] Yeah, that’s right. Let me see if I still have it open here. I can share the chart again if you want to round out.
CB: Yeah, go ahead.
RB: Let me do that.
CB: I interrupted you in the middle of that and then we went in a long digression because that picked up a great discussion point to enter us into the discussion, but then it was funny because then we just got in that segue or that one acted as a segue and we got stuck on that; now it’s been two hours and now it might be good to wrap it up by coming back to it.
RB: Yeah. I don’t want to leave people hanging so I’ll run through how I read the chart, and then we can talk about how it went and then leave it at that, perhaps. First of all– I’m just looking at my notes here– the first thing is that Mercury signifies both the job and Lisa because it rules the 10th house and it also rules the rising sign. That can be challenging to deal with, because usually what you want is to see an aspect between the ruler of the rising sign and the ruler of whichever house is relevant to the question, but in this case it’s both. The same planets rules both houses. So what you do in that scenario is you either look for the strength of that planet and see what happens to it, or you look for aspect from the Moon or something like that-
CB: -as the secondary significator for the querent or as the general significator for the sequence of the horary chart in general, the Moon?
RB: Yeah, that’s right. That’s one option. It’s to look to see if the Moon connects with it by degree by an aspect, or alternatively, just look at what’s happening to that planet and just see does it look good or bad kind of thing. [laughs] That’s what Sahl kind of instructs in that situation. My teacher, Chris Warnock, always said that if he saw that in a chart, he took it as a good indication because it indicates that the querent and the thing they are after that they’re seeking is linked in some way.
CB: Right. There’s a connection between the two?
RB: Yeah. He says that that’s a good indication. So I sort of took that to mean that. And the other thing is it just makes the job of reading the chart easier in some ways, because there’s less significators to look at, you know?
CB: Because then you’re just like, “So what is the ruler of the Ascendant applying to and what is the Moon applying to?” And if it’s applying to good things then it will be good, if it’s applying to bad things ai will not be good?
RB: Yeah, that’s right. I also looked at… Let me see here. Then I ran through the chart depicts the situation quite literally with Mercury in the sixth combust. I looked at Mercury and I said well, it’s obviously not in a good condition. It’s stuck in a cadent house and it’s combust. But on the plus side, it’s dignified by triplicity so it’s in an air sign in like a night chart. It’s got Dorothean triplicity dignity and it’s also in Deccan as well or as face. So it suggests that Lisa does have some resources in here, it’s not a completely desperate sort of scenario. Then another good sign was that Mercury’s next aspect apart from with the Moon– like it’s next aspect with a planet other than the Moon, because the Moon is always making aspects– is a sextile with Jupiter. And Jupiter is angular in the chart in the fourth house in Sagittarius. The majority of my judgement came from that applying aspect to Jupiter, which will not be interrupted by anything other than the Moon.
CB: And it’s pretty close, it’s only like five degrees away.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. And Jupiter is really strong in its domicile, it’s in Sagittarius. So that looks really positive. And because the subject of the question was, “Should I quit my day job and work from home?” More or less. That was sort of the subject of the question, you know? So seeing Mercury in an applying aspect with Jupiter, the ruler of the fourth house so positive in its own domicile, it just looked really positive. The move felt like fourth house matters; like moving to the home, focusing on home life and orienting yourself towards the home like the fourth house. And especially because it’s almost exactly conjunct the IC as well, which is really striking.
CB: Yeah. That’s one other thing I was noticing, is that it’s actually the most angular planet. Because it’s exactly not in this chart, which is one interesting thing that we’re gonna do a podcast on sometime but not probably today, but you’re using whole sign houses with this horary chart which is an interesting whole two-hour discussion topic maybe in itself, but you’re also showing the degree of the angles, the degree of the MC and IC and descendant and an midheaven, and which whole sign house users still do. And Jupiter happens to be exactly on the diggery of the IC here?
RB: Yeah, that’s right. Exactly. And that just really ramps home the point that Jupiter is very connected with fourth house themes and themes connected with the IC. That just looked very encouraging, I guess, because as I said in the write up, I said the question boils down to, “Should I stop going to this place to make money and make money at home instead?”
CB: It’s kind of like, “What will happen if I do that,” in a sense as well. Right?
RB: Yeah, that’s right. “What will happen to my career and me,” because again, they’re linked by being both signified by Mercury. “What will happen to my career and to me in the future?” And it looks like a very positive move to the fourth house to the home. So that that was like… Yeah.
CB: And part of it was also like, “Will I be successful if I quit my day job and start working, being self employed and working from home basically?”
RB: That’s right. Yeah, and the other piece that looks really good is that both the benefic planets are placed in the fourth and so Jupiter and Venus are both in the fourth, and that Venus rules the second house of money and it’s placed in the fourth. So that looks really good. And it also rules the ninth house which signifies astrology. So the question was about focusing more on astrology and quitting the day job, and so having the ruler of the ninth be a positive planet is good. But then also having the ruler of the ninth be in the fourth house, it just sort of symbolically fits with the nature of the question because there’s a positive indication for astrology in ninth house, in the fourth, Venus being being placed there.
CB: It’s also interesting with Jupiter on the IC thing in the fourth sign and also Venus in the fourth whole sign house, I guess also the fourth quadrant house for that matter. But you mentioned earlier the idea of the early rules about the Ascendant being the one asking, the seventh being the one receiving, the 10th being the action, and the fourth being the outcome or like the final ending of all of this and it being interesting you just mentioning both benefics being there as a indicator in terms of the final outcome in some sense.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. It’s very positive for the outcome, the fourth being the sort of the end result of the outcome of the matter. Absolutely. Yeah. I think the other note I had was that… Where is it? I said the best sign of all is that the Moon is in the fourth house separating from a conjunction with Jupiter and a trine with Mars, and I think it’s just separated from that trine with Mars and is now applying to a conjunction with Venus, the ruler of the second house of money. So that aspect of the Moon just looks really nice, it looks like you’ll be getting some money. Because I’ve actually said the chart does look quite reassuring financially.
CB: Yeah, so it’s not just that the primary significator or the ruler of the Ascendant or the ruler of the 10th was applying to a benefic in the fourth indicating an affirmative outcome in the future or a positive outcome to the question of like, “What will happen if I quit my job and go solo or become self employed,” but also the secondary significator of the querent in the question was also applying to benefic. And the second benefic actually happens to be Venus in a night chart who’s like even more positive in that circumstance?
RB: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So all of those reasons, I said to Lisa that, “Yes, I think the chart looks good. I think you should take the plunge. Take the leap of faith and quit the day job.” And I think it worked out.
CB: Yeah, she’s doing great. I can report this is January of 2019 so this is two years ago. So she’s doing really good and has been really successful and we’re both doing pretty well in terms of our respective careers. But also, it’s interesting because her doing that at that time interestingly, in retrospect, she was working at a library up to that point for most of the past decade as her day job and doing astrology on the side, but she quit about a year before the pandemic and that actually ended up being kind of a big deal because of some of her health stuff in the past. If she had had to go into a day job on a regular basis or do some of that stuff, it would have been pretty problematic. And she would have had a bad time a year later once 2020 rolled around and the pandemic broke out. So making that switch at that time about a year before that ended up not just being successful, but also somewhat fortuitous in terms of the timing?
RB: Yeah, there you go. I’m really glad. I think she came back to me and said much the same. It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? Yeah. But I was really glad to do that for Lisa and really happy to see the positive outcome. A lot of questions I get have quite a negative looking shot. I’m often telling people “No,” or “I’m afraid that person doesn’t love you,” or “You know, the job that you’re going for you’re not going to get it.” Those kinds of things. [laughs] So it’s really nice to be able to give us some good news.
CB: Yeah, definitely. Especially like a chart like that where it’s like overwhelmingly positive with both of the primary significators applying to benefics. That’s a little unique and that doesn’t happen every day that you get a yes with like an exclamation mark after it.
RB: That’s right. Yeah, I think I noticed that as much to Lisa at the time and she was like, “Oh, gosh.” [laughs] It’s almost like more scary in a way, being told that something looks really good. Because then the pressure’s on, you know?
CB: Right. Yeah. Anyway, that’s funn and that’s a nice way to round this out just because it was one of my favourite recent examples of a horary chart that I’ve seen and actually witnessing it play out and being aware. It’s hard to convey the sense of uncertainty and nervousness and whether this was a good call. Because that was the other thing, was losing– and we’ve talked about this publicly before– but like losing health insurance that she had with her regular day job which was very good, versus switching to not having that and losing that safety net, and many things that made it uncertain and a potentially problematic prospect. Yeah, so that’s just a good example of horary in practice and how it can work out. And obviously, not all horary charts as you were saying are going to work out in that exact way so you don’t want to like set people’s expectations too high here, but it’s a good example of the principles working out in practice. So yeah, thanks for a good job answering that one and thanks for sharing that.
RB: No worries, my pleasure. Yeah, my pleasure.
CB: Were there any considerations in that chart? Maybe we should have checked, I did not look to see if there’s any considerations before judgement in that one but I don’t recall any of the normal ones like Saturn or anything like that offhand.
RB: No. Well, the ruler of the seventh is very strong so I do well from this question, which I suppose we’re talking about-
CB: I hear you, right. You’re that Jupiter that’s on the angle in the fourth eventually. So it’s almost like the opposite of Lilly’s rule, which is the thing about him being worried if you have like malefics in the 10th house and the astrologer not getting any credit for the question. Now we’ve got the reverse situation where you’re getting lots of credit for the question for answering it correctly.
RB: [laughs] I guess so, I hadn’t thought about that until right now. Actually, it’s funny. I think the only other thing would be ‘Will Mercury, the ruler of the first, combust?’ But it is not a worst case scenario because it has that triplicity and deccan dignity going for it. I think the old books were concerned with things like that and they sometimes say that if a planet was retrograde or combust, even if it wasn’t an applying aspect with the planet you want it, it might not work out. But I think because Jupiter is so strong angular and in domicile like… Yeah, even with mercury struggling, it’s going to work out.
CB: Yeah, I think the other thing about that is the fact that it’s separating. That Mercury’s coming out of the combustion and even though it’s still not there and it has a long way to go, it’s at least headed towards Jupiter and is headed towards the other side of that rather than moving into the combustion and moving under the beams of the Sun. And I think that relates more to past medical issues that were the context of being concerned coming out of that, but then that the future was looking brighter than the past did in some sense.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. The fact that it was a separating conjunction with the Sun is very important and that shows that yes, the worst of it is in the past and that as you move further and further away from the Sun and eventually emerge from the beams, things will get better.
CB: And that’s actually also relevant because I think if it was a Virgo rising, then the Sun was the ruler of the 12th whole sign house. The sun was actually the ruler of the 12th, which was like long term ailments or illness and things like that. That’s probably additionally relevant in some way?
RB: Yeah, as Lilly would say, it’s a very radical chart. It really describes the situation closely. So even though it has an issue with the first house ruler, you would not throw this chart in the bin. You would not. Just to talk about axiomatic of applications of the considerations, you’d note that. You’d go, “Okay, well, it looks like Mercury is struggling a bit but let’s see what happens.” That kind of thing.
CB: Yeah, definitely. All right. Cool. Well, that’s awesome. What is your website again? You’re open? Are you still doing horary consultations?
RB: Yeah, definitely taking horary questions and taking natal consultations as well. My openings are pretty limited in my calendar but I’m doing birth chart readings as well. You can find me at oldschoolastrology.com. I’m also on Twitter @oldschoolastro and a few other places too like Instagram and Facebook. I’m not as active on there, but I have accounts. [laughs]
CB: Cool. Yeah, I love following you on Twitter. You’re always posting a lot of interesting and useful things and that’s how at least I think we initially connected or at least how we first started to interact was through Twitter like a few years ago?
RB: That’s right. Yeah, I think you reached out to me and said that you liked my username which made me really happy [laughs]
CB: Yeah. That’s always a good opening, having a clever– everybody always thinks that much clever titles and usernames than I do so I’m always impressed when I see a good one. And whole sign horary, we’re going to talk about that at some point because that’s, as you and I have talked about a lot, that’s what the early horary astrologers were doing. Like Sahl and Masha’allah, they were casting whole sign charts and there’s no reason- People often have this question, like they’ve asked me for years like “Can you use whole sign houses with horary?” And the answer is yes. There’s absolutely no reason why you couldn’t or shouldn’t. Some people like to say that, well, because Lilly did whatever quadrant house that that’s what we should do, or that horary as a branch in it’s entirety should always be done in a quadrant framework if that’s what astrologers used with horary in that time period. But the problem is that if you have this other group of astrologers in the eighth and ninth century who are using whole sign houses for horary then you’ve got instances of both. So there’s not like a historical precedent either way, it’s something you kind of have to figure out on your own and make a decision about.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. That’s absolutely right. I adopted whole sign houses and started using them for horary a few years ago and it does strike me as funny. I think it’s because perhaps people aren’t as sort of close to the old mediaeval texts as you oor I are, but people come to you and say these sort of dogmatic things like, “Oh, you have to use quadrant houses for horary.” Or like, “How could you possibly do horary with whole sign houses?” It just strikes me as a funny statement because it’s just not really… It’s ahistorical.
CB: Well, and I know some whole sign users that use whole sign primarily in like Natal, but then they switch to quadrant in horary and that doesn’t make any sense to me because the branches– and soon I talked about this a little bit– there’s a lot of interchangeability in the rules between the branches. And even though there’s a different focus, and sometimes you’re using different rules or sometimes you have different timeframes involved with like a horary question as opposed to a person’s entire life, all of the basic principles are the same. So if you figured out good approaches to house division that work in one branch of astrology, then they work just as well in another branch. And I haven’t seen a good argument for why there should be different house systems for different branches, it’s just something that people accidentally fall into and I’d like to see more discussion about that topic and I think I will see more discussion about that topic in the future.
CB: Yeah, me too. I also think it’s something that needs to be talked about a bit more. I think that’s a bit of an assumption people make for some reason about horary that quadrants are somehow necessary. It’s probably worth sort of having a discussion about that at some point because there’s a lot to be said, and looking at the older books it’s clear that a lot of them weren’t working with whole sign houses.
CB: Sure. And that being said, if people want to use quadrant houses for houses, go nuts! That being said, you know, people should do whatever they feel like works better in practice. I guess we’re just saying this a little bit that you can and that people like you or I do actually use whole sign houses in horary and don’t see any really major objection or obstacle to that because the principles are largely the same that you’re applying from natal astrology. There should be no barrier to doing that.
RB: Yeah, that’s right. I haven’t seen a good explanation for why you need quadrant house cusps to do horary. I don’t know what technical benefit. I mean, I’m getting into the weeds of it now.
RB: Yeah, it’s just a question as to, “Well, how does it affect the actual practice of the subject?” And the answer is not a great deal, you know, you can do horary with any house system.
CB: Yeah, for the most part in terms of the fundamentals of horary and the primary techniques, which are just establishing significators and rulers of houses, seeing what the ruler of the Ascendant and the Moon are doing and what they’re applying to, and what perfections are or not going to take place between the different rulers of houses. And while that is going to shift and you’re going to have differences between what houses are ruled by different planets in a quadrant system versus a whole sign system, you can still establish house rulers using whole sign houses and it can be just as effective and just as compelling in correctly both describing the situation as well as the outcome as quadrant houses are. It’s the same issue that you run into with natal astrology just all over again with horary, which is different astrologers have different approaches.
RB: That’s right. Yeah, I find it funny how people have a more open-minded approach to natal and are sometimes going, “You can do what you like with natal.” But when it comes to horary, people tend to be a bit more dogmatic and a bit more rules-focused and there’s this sort of… Yeah, people make very absolute statements about horary in a way that they’re perhaps less likely to do when it comes to natal. I think most people are sort of happy to live and let live when it comes to house systems in natal for the most part. I mean, there are people who are very determined about one particular system over another and so forth, but in horary you get people saying things like, “Oh, you have to do [unintelligible 02:12:50]. You have to.” I think that’s taking it too far because I don’t think there’s a good actual technical reason why. I think it’s more of a sense people have, for some reason, that that’s important. And perhaps there’s been some statements made by some contemporary authors or something that is influencing people, I’m not sure.
CB: Yeah. I don’t know. But anyway, I don’t want to drag you into another whole two-hour conversation. Thanks a lot for joining me today for talking about the considerations. Like I said, I spent a lot of time researching and preparing for that episode with Sue and I tried to pack a lot into it that I felt like I actually packed too much into it in the first two thirds that by the time we got to the considerations, we didn’t dwell on them as much as I wanted to and both of us were exhausted by the end of the last hour. But also there was just so much more that was worth talking about and saying and that I wanted to talk about with somebody. So thanks for giving me the opportunity to do this and also sharing some of your research about tracing the origins and the sources of some of these considerations. I hope you do publish that in a paper or something at some point. Do you have any plans to, or what was the idea with that?
RB: Yeah, I had some vague idea that I might want to publish that at some point or that it could form part of a book or some teaching materials or something like that. Yes, I don’t want that work to go to waste. I think it’s going to be interesting for people. Even if you’re not interested in mediaeval astrology, even if you’re more just really interested in the Renaissance horary stuff, it’s still cool to know where this stuff comes from and to see the books that Lilly was reading.
CB: Yeah, definitely. I’d like to do more of that. Well, thanks for this. This is such a good discussion. I don’t know if I’m gonna release this as a casual podcast or public one because actually there’s a lot of good stuff that would be worth committing to the main podcast if we weren’t too flippant and casual in some of our discussion at different points. So I hope if I do release it publicly, I’ve not annoyed anyone too much. And if it ends up just being a casual, then I hope everybody enjoyed the episode. Thanks for joining me today, I appreciate it. And thanks everyone for listening, we’ll see you again next time.
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