Part Two: Strictures and flexibility
If you can interpret a birth chart, you can also interpret a horary chart. Each discipline has elements which strengthen the other. The same principles are involved, and horary astrology afford a means of observing what is happening here and now, and using everyday life as a teaching tool. So far we can see that a modern view of how to practice horary in contrast to a traditional view is more dynamic in its approach to planetary movement and more flexible in interpretation. Traditional horary astrologers tend to adhere to a set of rules called strictures, which must not be ignored. Strictures can be useful because there are rules in astrology. For example, the querent will always be the Ascendant ruler, and for something to happen, then the querent should aspect the planet which rules the house of the quesited. For example, if a person asks whether to join a group, you’d be looking to see whether the 1st House ruler is going to make an aspect to the 11th house ruler.

Too Late and Too Early
In practice however, there are so many possible variations in horary charts, that there are occasions where hard and fast rules have to be ignored, and the astrologer must look at what the chart is trying to say. A good example of this is the stricture that when the Ascendant is in the last three degrees of a sign or in the first three degrees, then it’s either too late or too early to make a judgement.

However you can definitely make a very accurate judgement when there are late and early degrees. This condition shows a person in transition. 27 degrees shows the transition inevitably happening, 28 degrees shows the shifting sands, 29 degrees shows the person on the verge of change. 0 degrees shows the person wondering what is happening and trying to reorientate herself, 1 degrees shows some kind of realization that a new situation has arisen, two degrees shows the person forgetting the old and radically adjusting to the new, etc. Clients often arrive in these transition periods. It is like they are fording a river, and first they put their toe in, then they are midstream and can’t turn back, then they reach the other side but have as yet no real idea about what awaits them.

The last three degrees and first three degrees rule can be applied to all house rulers, indicating a time of transition. The movement from one sign to another is significant. Cancer to Leo might for example show a transition from looking after the family to looking after oneself and one’s own creative needs. From Aquarius to Pisces might show someone moving out of a busy social life and into a period of isolation. It is possible therefore to answer a client’s question simply because the horary chart shows them in transition. For example if someone comes with the Ascendant at 28 Gemini and asks whether they should continue a study or raise a family, then they are on the point of doing just that.

You’ll see this kind of borderline activity quite a lot in mundane astrology. For example, when Uranus moved from 29.59 Pisces to 0.00 Aries in early 2011, a tsunami (Pisces) swept over the Fukushima nuclear plant (Aries). More recently, when Mars moved from 29 Aquarius to 0 Pisces, two Neptune (!) missiles sunk the Russian Black Sea flagship Moskva – Mars traveled from air to water. So of course, if the horary chart shows planetary movement from one sign to another, is has profound significance.

Saturn in 1st and 7th House
Traditionally, astrologers were advised to refrain from trying to interpret horary charts when Saturn is in the 1st or 7th house. As with all strictures, there was a reason for this. Saturn in the first house shows a client or quesitor as resistant to advice. They may be entrenched in their views, hiding behind a lot of emotional armor etc. So if you were dealing with a king or nobleman, perhaps it was a good idea not to find chinks in that armor. But today, this shows a person struggling with a difficulty, and the issue is that it can be quite a challenge getting this person to open up. They may not expect someone to like them, and perhaps they are not initially likeable. This does not prevent interpretation, but perseverance is required.

Strictures suggest that Saturn in the 7th house means the astrologer is not functioning optimally. But the real effect of the 7th house placement is that the client evokes Saturnian behavior in others. For example, a client may arrive 20 minutes late. You get impatient and frustrated. That’s what the client has evoked in you, and it is a sign that that’s what the client evokes in others – and that is the meaning of Saturn in the 7th house.

Void of Course
Different horary astrologers have different interpretations of void of course, which is generally applies to the Moon when it makes no further aspects before leaving a sign. Some would say that if the Moon is not within orb of planet, then it is void of course: for example if the Moon is a 2 degrees Aries and all other planets are, say, over 16 degrees in a sign, then too much time elapses for perfection or resolution to happen. William Lilly talked about the void of course moon, but said it did not necessarily apply if the Moon was in Cancer or Sagittarius.

There is no doubt that the smaller the orb between two significators, the more likely something will happen, and the faster it will do so. Also, a void of course Moon is not a good sign, and it is an indicator that something may not arise. But perfection can take place when the Moon is void of course, especially if it makes a strong aspect when it moves into a new sign. For example, if someone asked whether they would find a partner, and the Moon was 27 Scorpio and the significator for the partner was at 4 Sagittarius, then the chances are good – but the person would have to move out of a bad situation (in Fall in Scorpio) first, perhaps making a journey or going to study, or similar. Also, if a significator, say for example Mercury ruling a Gemini Ascendant, was about to trine Jupiter ruling Sagittarius Descendant, then a relationship would be formed, even if the Moon was void of course.

Any planet close to the Sun is said to be weakened. In traditional horary if a planet, often Mercury, is from about 8 to 17 degrees of the Sun, it is under sunbeams. From 0-8 degrees it is combust, and within 0.17 minutes of arc it is cazimi. It seems that the closer a planet representing a person is to the Sun, the more stressed out that person will be. This particularly applies to Mercury, which, as it approaches the Sun, stress levels rise, and as it separates from the Sun, stress levels decrease.

William Lilly suggested that combustion did not apply for Mars or Jupiter, but I have seen considerable evidence Mars and Jupiter when combust will also show highly stressed or disorganized people if they are significators. I am not sure if that would apply to Saturn though – Saturn and the Sun are natural partners, as they rule each other’s opposite signs, so when they conjoin, people get together.

When a planet is cazimi, it is as if a person is in the eye of the hurricane. Suddenly there is perfect calm, and the person can see everything that is going on. People who come when Mercury is cazimi are often extraordinarily clear-sighted. Mercury and Venus can be cazimi both when direct and when retrograde, and I’ll be discussing retrogrades in the next article.

Mutual Reception
Astrologers have very different views about how effective Mutual Reception can be. The standard mutual reception is when each significator is in each other’s sign, for example Venus in Aries and Mars in Libra, or Mercury in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Virgo. Some also use mixed reception, when a significator is in a sign where the other significator is exalted, for example Venus in Taurus and Moon in Pisces. (If they exchange positions, then the Moon is exalted in Taurus and Venus is exalted in Pisces.) I know skilled horary practitioners that never use mutual reception to facilitate judgments, but my experience is that mutual reception works well, although there are all sorts of complexities involved.

Basically a planet is strengthened by mutual reception. Some astrologers maintain that planets in reception can exchange positions, and even each other’s degrees, and therefore can make a new set of aspects from a new house position. This indicates that a client can make a conscious choice to embrace an alternative solution. If a significator exchanges position, then there should be mutual benefit because each planet can then move to the sign it rules or is exalted in. It’s tricky though. For example, what if Mars is in fall in Cancer trine Moon in fall in Scorpio – can they really extricate themselves from a really bad situation to a really good one? Maybe. If you were looking at a prisoner exchange, when each prisoner could come home, then this aspect would definitely be a good sign.

A Difficult Horary
The following example is a question I asked, which was whether a programmer I had employed to complete some software would ever be finished… the project had dragged on for a year.


Will programmer finish? Oct 31st 2016. 13.46 Copenhagen. AS 29.27

The first thing to notice is that the Ascendant is in the last degree of Capricorn, and as the Ascendant, along with ruler Saturn, represents me, then it looks like a whole new situation is arising. Saturn in Sagittarius is well-placed in the 10th house and has a mixed reception with Jupiter in Libra (where Saturn is exalted). Also Saturn and Venus conjoin, so my position seems robust enough, with Jupiter giving backup and support.

Employees are generally shown by the ruler of the 6th house, which in the case is the Moon in Scorpio in the 9th house. The programmer lives abroad. It seems like the programmer is devious, and the trines of the Sun, Mercury and the Moon to Neptune do not bode well for truth-telling. The moon is also under sunbeams, and Mercury is combust. Mars rules, or disposes of, the Moon, and the Moon sextiles Mars. But Mars is in the 12 house and does not represent me but someone else. It turned out that the programmer’s day job was working for the military, so he was not focused on the project. In any case, the Moon in fall, the imminent Ascendant change, and no aspect between the significators Moon (or Sun) and Saturn, indicated that the project was doomed. An expensive loss.

Astrologers who work with horary a lot are generally aware of where the planets are at any given time. Some are cognizant of where the Ascendant is during the day too, and they make automatic horary charts all day long. It can be really enlightening, because astrology then becomes a tool for living in the moment. Powers of observation are sharpened as events unfold and the magic of the universe is revealed. Life itself becomes the best astrology teacher in the world.

In the third and final article we’ll look at the significance of retrograde planets, and timing issues.

Adrian Ross Duncan
April 19th, 2022