Skyscript home page

Part One

Introducing HoraryIdentifying SignificatorsTraditional Sign RulershipsHouses in HoraryMiscellaneous TermsTurning the Chart
Learning Horary Astrology - free online tutorials written by Deborah Houlding

Traditional Sign Rulerships

Without a doubt, horary works best when traditional sign rulers are used. Familiarise yourself with the traditional rulership scheme and get into the habit of using these planets when assigning significators in your charts.

The traditional rulership scheme recognises only the seven visible planets as shown in the diagram below. Note how the planets fan outwards in a symmetrical pattern from the Sun and Moon, with Mars ruling Scorpio, Jupiter ruling Pisces and Saturn ruling Aquarius.

Traditional Rulership Scheme

There are three primary reasons why the traditional rulerships are maintained in the predictive branch of horary astrology and it is worth introducing the reasoning at this stage for the benefit of those who may struggle to move away from mainstream influences.

Horary astrology is a study largely derived from symbolic and philosophical association. When the traditional rulerships were created, the assignations were based upon a symbolic structure that is complete within itself. Breaking any part of that symbolic structure destroys the fundamental strength and reasoning of the whole. Tempting as it may be for some astrologers to feel that Pluto naturally blends into the meaning of Scorpio; to deny the rulership of Mars over Scorpio also denies the very reason it is given rulership over Aries. Apart from the luminaries (Sun and Moon), each planet's rulership over its attributed signs derives from its relationship to the Sun and recognises dominion over two signs - one diurnal (of the day) the other nocturnal (of the night). Diurnal energies relate to masculinity, being active, direct and expressive, whilst nocturnal energies relate to femininity, being responsive, indirect, and impressive.

The distinction of the diurnal and nocturnal influences and the way they temper the inherent nature of the planet is enormously important and sadly largely overlooked by many modern texts, which don't consider the originating philosophy and explain its reasoning. Diurnal and nocturnal definitions can completely redefine planetary energies - consider for yourself how Mars in Aries, a diurnal sign, expresses itself in a very active, direct and expressive manner, whilst Mars in Scorpio is more indirect - an energy that is released slowly, deliberately and with cold control, quite opposed to the natural, hot and dry energy we associate with Mars, but just as threatening nonetheless. The same applies to the sign rulerships of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn; each relating to a diurnal sign where its masculine energy is strengthened and its mannerisms are more overt, and also to a nocturnal sign, where its feminine traits are emphasised and its characteristics are more implicit.

In addition to the above, a study of horary will encourage you to break apart the symbolic associations that have merged together to formulate loose astrological insights, in order to rebuild clearer, stronger definitions that derive directly from their appropriate source. For example, the whole 'Pluto = Scorpio = 8th house' theme becomes a dangerous astrological diversion when each element merges into the other and begins to mean the same thing. Pluto does not mean the same as Scorpio, nor does it signify the same things that the 8th house represents. However, some astrologers use it that way and therefore give Pluto a very negative slant even though the planet itself is pure energy which can be good or bad; its influence must be assessed purely by its association with the factors in the relevant chart.

It is true that at times similarities exist, but recognising only the similarities without understanding first the clear distinctions leads to chaos and the inability to apply detailed precision in descriptive judgments. In horary, your interpretative abilities will only be as good as your knowledge of astrological technique allows. Therefore avoid any temptation to rely on 'gut feelings' or 'loose associations' and be prepared to define and account for your significations - this doesn't just apply to the modern rulerships, but is equally important in all the rulerships; Mars is not the same as Aries, nor is it the same as the first house, and the same is true of all the other planet/sign/house associations.

Another practical reason to maintain the traditional sign rulerships in horary is the fact that we are generally dealing with person-oriented astrology and placing great significance upon the sign rulers to symbolise individuals or personal events. The outer planets, whilst not dismissing their general relevance or denying them a valid role in judgement, are accepted as tending to represent social or political influences. Where they make a contact to the significators they can add fine descriptive information, but their slow movement fails to convey personal influence in the way that the quicker moving visible planets are able to through techniques such as translation or collection of light. These techniques will be detailed later, but essentially, the separation of a significator from the contact of one planet and its movement towards another will reveal who or what the querent last dealt with prior to the question being asked, and who they will be dealing with next. The outer planets are incapable of demonstrating this flow of movement, and therefore cannot reveal a fine degree of detail in events or in the actions of the querent. Whatever arguments can be made for using them in natal work, there is a clear disadvantage to using them in horary techniques.

Finally, but by no means least, is the evidence that in horary the traditional rulerships work. If some astrologers want to make a case that modern rulerships work as effectively, that's fine, but I've never seen it demonstrated and so can't guarantee it. I can guarantee that the traditional rulerships work, both on a purely educational level - because we have a significant heritage of past astrologers who have demonstrated their use in practice - and I can also validate it personally because my own charts, and a myriad of charts submitted by students and colleagues have proved the case beyond question. There is no role for the outer planets as sign rulers in horary, they don't act as rulers, co-rulers or secondary influences over the signs of the zodiac.

Before leaving this lesson, read the article Philosophy of Sign Rulership, which explains more about the natural association between the planets and their role as sign rulers. Then return to this page and take the simple exercise below. The answers are available in the following link. If you struggle with the answers, re-read this and the previous page. However, if you have problems because you do not have a clear understanding of house rulerships, continue through the lessons - house rulerships be covered in detail next.

Exercise: Assigning Significators

  1. Which planet signifies the querent?

  2. If the question was about a holiday overseas, which planet would signify the trip?

  3. If the question was about the querent's career, which planet would represent the quesited?

  4. If the question concerned the death of the querent, which planet would represent the quesited?

  5. What aspect exists between the two main significators in the scenario given in qu.4?

 Continue to section 4: Houses in Horary

© Deborah Houlding 2003

Horary Astrology

Required reading to accompany this lesson
Philosophy of Sign Rulership