This article was first published in the Winter 2003 issue of the Journal of the Seasons for Astrological Society of NZ.
Horary astrology is the art of answering those 'need to know' questions that surface at the most inconvenient of times - like three o'clock in the morning when you've been laying awake for what seems like hours wrestling with a problem that desperately needs resolving.
By calculating a horoscope drawn up for the precise moment the question is asked or formed in your mind, your dilemma is put into perspective, assisting or suggesting possible resolution. Abracadabra!
Herein lies the magic of horary astrology. If the question is a valid one then the chart reflects the validity of the question.
Conversely, if the question is one of those 'testing' ones or just mean silly then the chart will tell you so - ask a stupid question and you will get a stupid answer!
And it works - like magic.
It is said that 'a moment in time has the qualities of that moment in time'. Horary astrology operates on the premise that, for there to be an answer to your question, that question must be asked when the need to know is strong, the intention clear. When thought tunes in with the cosmic pattern of the moment. For the universe to hear you loud and clear, the question must be one that is dear to your heart and communicated clearly. A half-hearted, let's-see-if-this-stuff-works type question, is of no interest to the universe so you'll just get a half-hearted, let's-get-real-here, type of reply.
Inherent in both the terms horary and horoscope is the Greek horus meaning 'the hour' - 'horology' the study of timepieces is also linked to horus. Horary astrology is the study of a moment in time in order to answer a question of great import to the person asking the question (in horary speak the 'querent').
Horary astrology has been around since man first watched the sun, moon, planets and stars in the heavens and became attuned to their daily, monthly, yearly cycles. It wasn't long before events on earth were correlated with celestial events; the planetary patterns in the heavens provided a calendar for their day to day living - when to sow, reap and harvest, when to best prune, when to fish; woman's monthly cycle linked in with the natural rhythms of the lunar calendar and answered the questions related to her fertility.
Horary astrology grew not so much from man's need to understand himself but his need to survive. Questions like 'will there be drought this year', 'when will we go to war', 'will the king live', are more likely to have been the questions of the day. These questions were answered by the study and knowledge of horary astrology.
Today the questions likely to be asked are more mundane and personal: Will I get the job? Is Fred the right man for the job? Where is my gold watch? Will my gold watch be returned to me? Should I buy a new car or repair the current one? Will my daughter benefit by going to a different school? When would be a beneficial time to open my new business? Will my business be successful?
What I love about horary astrology are the rules and regulations that accompany any reading of a horary chart. They provide a structure.
When reading a natal chart, a huge degree of latitude can be given to the likely manifestation of say, a 90° angle or square aspect between two planets. Instead of it's difficult and frustrating reputation we couch the term square in words like 'obstacles to overcome' and 'challenges'. In horary astrology, the square is bad. That's it. It denies things.
In Horary astrology aspects, planets, houses are either good or bad, black or white. No grey.
Horary astrology comes with it's own particular language designed to strike fear and dread in the most hardy of souls. Words like afflicted, malignant, malefic, debilitated and sinister are scattered throughout the horary dictionaries and are alive and well in the lives of many hardy astrologers today. The good news is that we really can do without them; 'good' or 'bad' will suffice quite nicely for now.
I am assuming that you are either well acquainted with the calculations necessary to cast an accurate chart for the time, date and place the question is asked; or alternatively that you have a computer together with recommended astrological software that will do all the hard work for you.
So you have a burning question to ask. You have made a note of that question together with the time the question is asked, and you now have chart in hand, what next?
This is as important as making a note of the exact time the question is asked. It is very tempting to go beyond the question and read more into the chart. Have the note of the exact wording of your question before you at all times and do not stray from that question. Remember our dialogue with the cosmos. The universe tuned into the precise words asked, not all the 'oh but what I really meant to ask was ...' that came afterwards.
The chart reflects the question of the moment. If the question you really meant to ask was something else, then by all means ask it at a later date.
Having said that, I can also say that if you are confused at the time of asking the question, the chart will often reflect that. For instance Neptune rising in a horary chart alerts you to someone who could be either confused or hiding the real reason for the question. Or there might be a 'stricture against judgement' which tells you the time is not right to be asking this question (more about that in a minute).
To judge a horary chart, you need to be reasonably well equipped with a toolkit of keywords for the signs, planets, houses, aspects. If you don't have a good list of keywords, then a good place to start might be The Horary Textbook by John Frawley.
Leave a generous amount of space in your toolkit - for the more horary charts you do, the more you will learn about said signs, planets, houses and aspects. Your understanding of these little building blocks of astrology will grow, and this knowledge will be transferred to the reading of the natal chart.
Natal astrology is a natural progression from horary astrology. Take a hypothetical question, 'Will we go to war?' In the [hypothetical] chart cast for the moment the question is asked, the planet Mars is rising, conjunct the ascendant. The nature of Mars is that of the warrior and a more war-like indicator would be hard to find. The answer to the question is Yes.
Now transfer that knowledge to the chart of a person with Mars rising conjunct the ascendant. When judging the character or personality of an individual you are in fact asking the question 'How will this person present, what is his personality?' With Mars rising, you can be pretty certain that the person, while not necessarily going through life declaring war, will nevertheless show a combative personality, certainly someone who is highly motivated and always on the go. Of course with natal astrology, the sign on the ascendant and the sign Mars is in adds more information to the way in which the person will express this warrior spirit - in a water sign through the emotions; in an earth sign through practical needs; air through ideas and fire through spirit.
In horary astrology, the signs do not play such an important part; it is the planets, houses and aspects that beg our attention.
But I digress ...
Let's return to the rules and regulations of horary astrology. These are referred to as 'Considerations Before Judgement'.
If the ascendant is between 0° and 3° it is too soon to answer the question, the question is premature.
At the other end of the sign, if the ascendant is between 27° and 29°59´ then it is too late to ask the question; without your knowing it has already been answered or the decision made.
The Moon is Void of course (it makes no aspects to other planets before leaving the sign it is in). The Moon is 'not going anywhere' so the question has no future.
The Moon is in the Via Combusta (that area of the zodiac between 15° Libra and 15° Scorpio the ancients referred to as the 'fiery road').
Saturn is in the 7th House.
By Carol Squires, PMAFA, DTASNZ.