Horary, once the mainstay of every working astrologer's practice, offers direct insight into the issues that are really pertinent in people's minds. Used effectively, is one of the most useful techniques for offering guidance in times of crisis. Its method involves the erection of an astrological chart drawn specifically to examine a matter of human concern. The nature of that concern can take many forms, including queries about relationships, financial investments, career issues, family matters, conflicts and lawsuits, even lost objects or missing people.
The horary chart is drawn for the moment that the question is clarified in the mind, crystallized in structure, and submitted for astrological scrutiny. Through the symbolism of the heavens the astrologer aims to gain a deeper spiritual knowledge of earthly matters, and seeks to understand the wider significance of the situations that trouble us. Although some of its applications can appear to be very mundane and entirely practical, it is not true that horary can be used to answer each and every question that flitters through the mind. Tradition warns us that for our charts to be relevant and reliable, a sincere approach and a matter worthy of deep reflection is required.
Any definition of horary has to accept that it is a method of divination, heavily reliant upon symbolic appreciation. The philosophy that lies at the heart of horary is the one that drives the whole spectrum of astrological techniques - firstly, that significant moments are never randomly selected, but act as part of a finely tuned enfoldment that reveals its offspring to consciousness at an exact moment of cosmic sympathy. The same applies regardless of whether the birth is that of a child, a nation, an institution or a realization. Secondly, that despite the apparent diversity and separateness of the incidents that happen to us and the emotions we experience, our universe is connected. We are all part of each other's lives and every individual occurrence is part of a bigger picture that carries wider significance than our isolated view of it can comprehend. Accepting that we live in a meaningful universe with an implicit sense of purpose allows us to acknowledge that there is a divine essence seeking to guide us towards an understanding of that bigger picture, with shadows of meaning reflected within us and around us. Our inner drives and outer experiences are all part of a higher manifestation of meaning and therefore subject to symbolic analysis.
However, whereas modern natal astrology generally gives free reign to the creative interpretation of astrology's symbolic language, viewing planetary movements primarily as insights to our internal drives; in horary such an approach would be far too lax and open to a wide array of possible manifestations. It would make a confident assessment of what is actually taking place in the outer life impossible. To develop a workable and useful method of analyzing horary charts, astrological symbolism must be reduced down to its most mundane application, given the context of the question. At a high level, the inherent nature of Saturn may be all about the process of structuring, compressing, limitation and solidification; but horary needs to know about its lowest mundane level - that it may be symbolizing the wall that marks the boundary of the garden.
It doesn't take much thought on the matter to realize that there are multitudes of possibilities as to what Saturn could be representing at the bottom end of its manifestations: a toxic herb, an old bone, a white haired man, a leather jacket, a crumbling ruin, a financial loss, an iceberg, a restraining order - the list is endless and fairly useless in practical terms unless it can be constrained in scope by knowledge of how its symbolism is altered and defined by additional astrological conditions. This, of course, requires detailed study of rigorous and sharply defined symbolism. Modern textbooks that focus upon the essential principles of astrological symbolism cannot possibly fit the bill, which is one reason why horary has remained so reliant upon the traditional methods outlined in the historical texts that delve into such practical rulerships with great detail. The classic text is William Lilly's 17th century compendium Christian Astrology, a three-volume epic running to 832 pages of highly detailed information.
With such a breadth and depth of information, it is possible to spend a lifetime studying horary and still feel that there is much left to discover. But expertise in horary isn't just about learning the techniques and dogmas; it's also about developing confidence, acquiring sound judgement, applying perception, and perfecting the skills of analytical thinking, synthesized interpretation and sensitive communication. Even a splattering of 'technique' takes a horary practitioner a long way when the importance of the latter is fully recognised.
It is a common mistake to believe that because the symbolic interpretation of astrological factors are often very mundane in horary charts, there is less spiritual significance or opportunities to express free will. Horary is a study of predictive astrology but that in itself does not necessitate a fatalistic viewpoint. Of course, this very much depends upon the issue under examination, some questions are much more straightforward than others; but usually the attempt to gain insight into the 'bigger picture' is a process that opens options up rather than closes them down. This is a fact that most certainly needs more recognition because there is an area within horary practice that fully embraces the need to look beyond the outer ramifications and explore hidden factors that reveal their importance by their significance in the chart, (even though the client may be consciously unaware of their relevance). This is often the case where the client is seeking to gain understanding of a traumatic event as well as knowledge of what is happening and what is likely to happen in the future. Horary has much more flexibility and subtlety than most astrologers imagine. Its usefulness is restricted only by the limitations we enforce upon it.
The lessons and exercises that follow are designed to introduce the horary approach and some of its techniques. Some self-assessment exercises are included and new resources will be introduced as time permits.
has been a practicing horary astrologer since gaining her diploma in Olivia Barclay's QHP course in 1990. She has in-depth experience of teaching horary directly to astrologers through correspondence courses, international seminars and residential workshops. Within the UK she has presented a master class on horary at the Astrological Association Annual Conference and workshops for the Faculty of Astrological Studies Residential Summer School at Oxford.
Her published work includes numerous articles on horary in astrological publications at home and abroad. She has acted as the Horary Editor for the Astrological Association's Journal
, and Editor of the Traditional Astrologer
Magazine. Books include The Houses:Temples of the Sky
and a retyped, annotated version of William Lilly's Christian Astrology
© Deborah Houlding 2003