Skyscript home page

Questioning our Horaries
An Introduction to Horary
Where is it?
Horary Love Charts

Prediction, Providence and the Power of the 'Self' in Horary

"be a good example thy selfe, avoid the fashion of the times"

William Lilly, CA, 'Letter to the Student of Astrology' (1647)

During the last century the word 'prediction' (pre dict: 'to say before') came to be something of a dirty word in astrology. When I started studying astrology in the 1980s, I remember frequent reminders that astrologers should not attempt to 'predict' but should merely aim to forecast 'psychological trends of experience'. I was probably typical of many students, in that the best selling book, The Complete Astrologer by Derek and Julia Parker, was one of my first introductory guides to the subject, and for me an early source of reference as to what astrology was all about. Later editions have been updated and no longer reflect some of its earlier attitudes, but their first edition (published in 1971) was very representative of the prevailing views towards the use of astrology as a divinational tool. Horary astrology was particularly singled out as epitomising all that could be defined as shallow and ridiculous in the 'old fashioned' approach. Their assessment was:

The student will be more than likely to encounter horary astrology. While there are astrologers who take this branch of astrology seriously, its effect is to trivialise astrology by its dangerous affinity to fortune-telling and divination. [1]

Serving to emphasise the point, the same section of the book included persuasive images of 'the astrologer at work'. The first (fig. 1 below) portrayed "The 'modern day' astrologer at work" with a picture of the widely respected astrologer John Addey. With his academic stance and half-ringed glasses, surrounded by books and notes and papers, he looks entirely respectable and erudite. The clock is suggestive of the intricacy of the subject with precise timing; and he sits pen in hand, coffee on desk, looking every bit the dedicated, hard-working professional we would all like to emulate. An especially nice touch about this picture is the black cat sitting on the table, a subliminal reminder perhaps of astrology's integration between the rational and the mystical?

Two images of the astrologer at work

By comparison, consider the image headed "The horary astrologer at work" (fig. 2), where the horary astrologer is characterised as the astral tramp and downcast member of our society. Here, someone we are led to believe is a typical horary astrologer sets to work looking like a bit of a spiv! Working on the streets without books or papers to suggest study or aquired technical knowledge, his working environment comprises a collection of sensationalist mystic symbols and palm prints. He doesn't appear to need any chart forms as he stares intently into his client's eyes. The Parkers conclude their paragraph on horary with the statement:

The theory that events take on the nature of the time in which they occur is basic to astrology. But the notion that the planetary positions can produce an 'answer' of this kind, usually to the most petty questions, seems too absurd for consideration and is the kind of activity that can only call serious astrology into disrepute. [2]

Whilst entirely representative of mainstream astrological opinion in Britain at that time, such a flippant dismissal of horary would surely cause widespread concern amongst astrologers today. Currently, after many decades of being frowned upon for its supposedly 'vagrant-style', horary is undergoing a renewal of interest and popularity, even among astrologers who previously believed it lacked the potential for creative psychological analysis. Others have come to see horary as a kind of gateway that leads to greater understanding of traditional astrological philosophy. In my view, the potential of horary is still often misunderstood or underestimated, but it has certainly re-established itself to the point where it now seems hard to understand why a branch of astrology as powerful and as proven as horary came to lose its footing in the first place. If the Parkers were mistaken and the notion that the planetary positions can produce answers is a sound one, then how and why did horary fall into such a disreputable position in recent times?

The demise of horary in the early 20th century was a complicated issue, but one major impact can be realised through events that affected the life of Alan Leo, the great British champion of astrology at the turn of the last century, whose influence upon the perception of astrology amongst his contemporaries and later practitioners can hardly be over-stated.

Leo's own attitude towards horary was somewhat ambivalent. He practised horary and even wrote a book about it, [3] but he also referred to the type of horary practised in his day as "the vilest rubbish imaginable". [4] He alternates between recommending it as something best pursued in conjunction with the birth chart, to elsewhere arguing that it's real value is when the birth time is unknown. Overall it seems that Leo had respect for the concept of horary when used to answer serious questions, and on occasions he felt it could be "exceedingly useful"; but from a moral standpoint he loathed the idea of people becoming overly reliant upon it, through which he felt it would weaken rather than strengthen the individual's character and sense of free will. [5]

The significant events began to emerge on 29 April, 1914, when Leo, then aged 54, was summoned to court to answer the charge that he "did unlawfully pretend to tell fortunes" through astrology. The case was dismissed for lack of evidence but it left an uncomfortable feeling among astrologers. [6] For Leo, it prompted a resolution to safeguard the legality of his position and have astrology recognised as a creditable science. In order to do this he advised:

Let us part company with the fatalistic astrologer who prides himself on his predictions and who is ever seeking to convince the world that in the predictive side of Astrology alone shall we find its value. We need not argue the point as to its reality, but instead make a much-needed change in the word and call Astrology the science of tendencies. [7]

In 1917 Leo was brought to trial again on a similar charge. This time his defence was that he did not offer predictions, but only focused on general character analysis and astrological trends:

I most emphatically say that I do not tell fortunes. I tell tendencies from the horoscope and in every horoscope I send out I make that statement.

The prosecution read out several passages from a report prepared by Leo, part of which included the statement "at this time a death in your family is likely to cause you sorrow". His case fell apart when the prosecution asked him "is this death a tendency, or is there a tendency to be dead?" [8]

On conviction of the charge of "pretending and professing to tell fortunes" Leo faced up to three months imprisonment with hard labour, but he actually suffered only a minor penalty of a £5 fine plus costs. The political issue was never about punishing Leo, it was about forcing legal boundaries upon the rising interest in spiritualist movements, and clarifying a murky aspect of British Law which had criminalized astrology as part of an 1824 Act introduced for "the Punishment of idle and Disorderly Persons, and Rogues and Vagabonds..." The Act's purpose was to deal with homeless vagrants and gypsies, but Section 4 specified that it applied to "every Person pretending or professing to tell Fortunes, or using any subtle Craft, Means, or Device, by Palmistry or otherwise, to deceive and impose on any of His Majesty's Subjects …"

It was not until 16 November 1989, that the Law Commission repealed the Act without replacement. Over time it had become so ineffective and impotent that few people even noticed its passing. It was only in 1991 that the astrological community realised its removal, revealing how little concern was then given to the potential of it holding legal consequences. [9] But Alan Leo's conviction shows that things were very different in the early 20th century; and if the hidden motives of the prosecutors were to restrict the activities and inhibit the confidence of astrologers, they certainly did the trick. Leo's colleague, H.S. Green, wrote of the effect that the criminal charge had upon Leo, saying:

It became evident that his whole system of reading horoscopes would have to be revised, because what he regarded as no more than truthful and legitimate advice to clients, the law insisted upon treating as fortune-telling. Therefore he decided to recast the whole system and make it run along the lines of character reading.... This entailed a tremendous amount of rewriting of reference-books and sheets. [10]

Leo's determination to 'recast' astrology fell heaviest upon the branch of horary, which though its ability to offer specific advice upon specific situations, could present exactly the kind of fatalistic undertones that his legal insecurities obliged him to distance himself from. But even within natal technique, the fashionable new doctrine of 'tendencies' fostered an attitude where rigour was loosened, specifics were frowned upon, and the potential meaning of the chart was as open and free as the will of the person it was intending to guide. The unfortunate consequence was that later generations of students tutored in purely modern methods were admitting, if they were not making predictions, it was not simply a case of choosing not to, but also feeling incapable of doing so anyway; the lack of specific predictive technique and the more creative style of 'free-will' judgement being of little practical use in trying to establish what is likely to happen, rather than what is likely to be inwardly experienced.

Thanks to the outspoken spirit (and in some cases bloody-minded determination) of a few remaining advocates of horary, a striving for the traditional definition and detail that is most readily apparent in that branch of astrology never really disappeared, but horary did become a fragmented branch which lost its voice amongst mainstream astrological practitioners. An active drive to call attention back to horary in Britain began in the 1970s and started to gain effect in the 1980s, a decade which saw fruitful results of collaboration between horary enthusiasts such as Olivia Barclay and Derek Appleby, and those with a passion for traditional techniques and philosophy, such as Geoffrey Cornelius and other members of the Company of Astrologers. All, of course, were served by Clive Kavan's facsimile reproduction of William Lilly's 17th century work Christian Astrology, regarded as the most authoritative text on horary astrology and offering demonstrations of specific astrological judgements that most astrologers of the 80s felt ill equipped to replicate. Still, it wasn't until the end of the 1990s that most horary practitioners began to feel comfortably re-integrated within astrological society, and we are really only now seeing the effects of restoring respect for horary as a credible astrological tool. [11]

It is not my objective to analyse the details of that recent resurgence of interest in horary, except to suggest that the motivation for many of those involved in it was a sense of dissatisfaction with never-ending options presented by loosely defined, 'open to your own interpretation' symbolism. My main objective is to argue that the approach to horary which has resurfaced today has been influenced by its earlier 20th century rejection, and that despite the general view that this 'loosening' was a negative thing, there have also been many positive consequences of an interim which allowed astrologers the room to think creatively and freely, to re-question the symbolism, and to consider the importance of psychological states of mind. My argument is not that the traditional approach to horary is generally inhibitive, but that by the early 20th century it had certainly become so.

It is a mistake to assume that the divide between those who see horary as trivializing, and those who see it as empowering, revolves around the 'traditional v. modern' debate or the specific details of the techniques employed. But the spirit of any age does set the standard by which practitioners are expected to approach and utilise the information at their disposal. In the 17th century mindset of astrologers such as William Lilly, society still held a collective expectation that the material world was animated by a spiritual design. This allowed astrologers great freedom in symbolic reasoning, and they took up an active engagement with astrological movements as a way to navigate their clients through difficult situations. We may consider this style of astrology predictive, but it wasn't fatalistic. Lilly for example, demonstrates many charts where the predicted outcome for the client's course of action looks bleak, and so he recommends a change of course, or scrutinises the more positive connections in the chart to identify a person whose help could be sought, or an unexploited situation that could be more advantageous than that currently embarked upon. This is active horary analysis.

But as we move through the materialistic (or scientifically enlightened) ages of the 18th century up to the early 20th century, this spiritual undertone to astrology becomes increasingly lost; the fashion moves towards seeing astrology, and every branch of it, as an astral 'science' that has an objective reality in its own right. Providing the 'rules' are thoroughly known and techniques are applied correctly, horary is expected to perform regardless of the personal involvement of the individual reading the symbolism. This trend is aptly demonstrated by William J. Simmonite's 1852 book on horary astrology, subtitled The Key to Scientific Prediction; in which horary is referred to as "the truest science of which mankind has any knowledge". Here horary is expected to demonstrate unfailing reliability - false predictions being the unfortunate consequence of failing to apply a necessary rule or mistaking the correct significator. Even the Foreword of the book prepares the reader for dire consequences should a fundamental rule be "violated or misunderstood". This is passive horary analysis because the onus is placed upon the system, and under this system the astrologer assumes the role of passive observer and interpreter of what the stars declare, not daring to maximize upon their own creative input.

When we compare the works of Lilly and Simmonite we see a difference between them that goes far beyond the size of the text. The fact that Lilly's work is very comprehensive is not one of its great strengths, for much of the information is unnecessarily repetitive or even contradictory, and his horary volume suffers for want of the editorial cuts that modern readers take for granted. Lilly's strength lies in the fact that he not only displays great breadth and depth of knowledge in his subject (both technical and philosophical), he also takes full responsibility and ownership for his judgements, being prepared to sculpture traditionally accepted knowledge to the specific requirements of each individual chart. He isn't following rules, but working with them, allowing them to be the springboard from which his creative assessment arises, but never being afraid to read the symbolism in a way that makes most sense to the situation it is tied to. Currently, most new horary students are advised to hold back on their own creative impulses in order to develop a thorough and detailed knowledge of traditional horary technique. This is an important part of developing the structured processing involved. But unfortunately many students, having sufficiently redressed that imbalance, create a new one in their fear of imparting their own intuitive reasoning in case it affects their judgement, rather than seeing it as the critical factor that turns a passive judgement into an active one. Passive judgements are predictive but they are also fatalistic. This is the style of horary promoted around the time of Alan Leo but which Leo himself abhorred: supposedly scientific, but noticeably rigid and dry. The astrologer is involved in a process, but it is so programmed and routinely mechanical as to appear robotic or computerised. [12]

Naturally, a branch of astrology that purports to be thoroughly reliable in providing answers on what will happen is bound to retain some interest. But horary is quickly open to abuse and scorn when people become overly dependent on it as a decision-making tool; undermining the benefits of fully employing their own inner wisdom, common sense and judgement born from experience. The distaste that some modern astrologers feel towards horary can seem justifiable when we witness it being used as a system that only aims to reveal what the answers are; rather than a system that demands self-reflection, an exploration of the root causes which led to the development of the problem in the first place, or a desire to acquire a mastery of the self that allows the problem to be more competently addressed at any other point in the future. When this neglect of deeper exploration happens in situations where clients have brought problems on their own heads through emotional insecurities or mismanagement, the horary resolution is not really an insight into how to treat the cause, merely a quick-fix solution to a symptom that is bound to repeat itself. Of course everyone wants to know the answers, but as any student knows, it is so much more useful when you understand why those are the answers.

In aiming only to predict, and in failing to counsel or advise, this type of fatalistic astrology missed the rising spirit of the 20th century, which turned against the failed promise of scientific materialism and placed its favour in the humanistic approach to astrology, as was so effectively promoted by the likes of Dane Rudhyar. Rudyhar, Parisian by birth and American by nationality, [13] had no concern for championing astrology as a science. Like many of the great astrological philosophers of the past, he was passionately involved in music and theories of harmony; his combined interests in religion, philosophy and theosophy gave him a great knowledge of spiritual beliefs, which he married very neatly to the emerging interest in Jungian psychology.

It is generally assumed that the humanistic astrology of Rudhyar sounded the death knell for horary, and that there's little ground for reconciliation between Rudhyar's view of the chart as potential, and the horary urge to reveal the inevitable. But horary was already gasping for breath before Rudhyar entered the scene, having lost contact with its spiritual basis. Rudhyar made his own attempt to resurrect it as a creative tool, one that recognized the individual's power to influence their own environment as well as be affected by it. In fact Rudhyar is an undeservedly forgotten name in the recent history of horary and ought to have some recognition for the way that he attempted to rescue this branch of astrology from the soulless place in which it had been left forgotten. In 1969 he published his Practice of Astrology, the twelfth step of which was entitled 'The Significant Use of Horary Techniques'. [14] Although this lacks the details of technique found in other works, it contributes a very impressive philosophy on what horary is, how it works, and how it is most gainfully employed as a system of direction and reorientation rather than a means to static prediction. In contrast to many other astrologers of his age, Rudhyar maintained a high regard for horary, and provided a dignified answer to the Parkers' charge of 'fortune-telling' two years before it was raised:

The real function of horary astrology is to establish a state of relationship between universal intelligence or divine Grace and the individual person … It is not "fortune telling" as an escape from personal responsibility and effort, still less for curiosity's sake. It is instead a sign of the conscious binding of the individual to the rhythm and purpose of the universal Whole in which he accepts full and deliberate participation. From this Whole the individual receives understanding and healing, and the key to his many problems, in proportion as he is willing to consciously fulfil his function and his destiny. [15]

Rudhyar's support for horary was longer and more committed than most astrologers realise, and appears to have been prompted by his collaboration with another American whose name doesn't readily spring to mind in association with its restoration: Marc Edmund Jones. As early as 1943, Jones had published Problem Solving by Horary Astrology, and it was to this book that Rudhyar referred his readers for the details of horary technique. Jones himself pays homage to Rudhyar in his Foreword, stating that it is due to Rudhyar's early support that he gave up anonymity of the authorship, and adding:

If the volume were to have a dedication, it should be inscribed to Dane Rudhyar, who early took an interest in the mimeographed materials and insisted upon giving credit in print to the whole research project. [16]

The substance of technique explained in Jones' work was largely derived from Zadkiel's edition of Lilly's Introduction to Astrology; hence the wordy subtitle: "A complete analysis and demonstration comprising a clarification and modernization of an interestingly effective seventeenth century psychology".

Unfortunately the analysis was a little too complete and the demonstration was lacking. There are some real gems of psychological insight hidden within its pages, but I would find it hard to recommend this book to anyone; most of its content is so dull and boring that it becomes almost interesting by virtue of trying to find the point of it. [17] But despite the unwieldiness of it all, and the absence of good practical examples, here and there Jones reveals a glimpse of his genius; and though he still refers to horary as an 'astral science' he does at least point out that this is not really an appropriate way to consider a subject that places such a strong emphasis upon symbolic reasoning. The real value of his work lies in the way Jones' set out his theory on how the mechanism of horary works. This undoubtedly influenced Rudhyar, or at least sat comfortably with Rudhyar's own views, so that when Rudhyar wrote about horary himself two decades later, he ran with the idea presented by Jones, but articulated it in a much more persuasive and elegant manner.

Jones' suggestion was that a horary chart encapsulates the issues that are most relevant in the mind, and as such reveals both the subconscious and conscious knowledge contained within the mind, as reflected by the cosmos of which all individuals are a part. He spends considerable time suggesting, and attempting to demonstrate, that the subconscious mind is fully aware of the reasons for past experiences and the future opportunities that lie before it. Hence those 'chance meetings' that arise due to inexplicable wrong turns in our journeys are actually designed by our subconscious mind in an effort to unite us with our potential destiny. The horary chart is therefore not just a map of the external heavens, but also a map of the internal mind and all the information that the mind is able to project forward to collect or cast back to recollect. This applies to both the conscious and the subconscious part of it, and 'judgement' draws upon the knowledge contained within this map and that of the mind of the astrologer, who must use subjective symbolic processing as well as rational processing in order to extract its full meaning and value. Jones explains that this is the reason why some astrologers can make certain procedures work for them although these may be of little use to anyone else:

The chart, in the case of a question, patterns a matter resident in some individual's mind; and the content of that mind is also contained in the general social complex - along with everything else - and hence under as real a necessity to operate in concordance with universal order. This leads to the rule that anyone who practices horary astrology must be very definite in everything he does, not hesitating to express his own individuality. Every good practitioner makes modifications in the techniques according to his own tastes, because his private universe of thought has a specialized way of ordering things. It is in accordance with the general reality, of necessity, but it is also necessarily personal in all respects. [18]

As far as I can ascertain, Marc Edmund Jones, supported by his friend Dane Rudhyar, was the first modern horary astrologer to make a deep and committed attempt to offer a rationale for the workings of horary in such a way that it offers no conflict to spiritual beliefs and yet remains compatible with modern views on the power of the subconscious. He was obviously not the first to touch upon these issues, but he appears to be innovatively involved in the revival of astrology in modern times, in his attempt to give horary respect as a technique which demonstrates remarkable power and needn't be innapropriately defined as a science nor cast off into the negative bracket of superstitious fortune-telling. He also moved beyond the ominous warnings of 'violation of technique' that we witness in the earlier works, placing the onus back onto the astrologer to mould the techniques under their own judgement as Lilly did. The fact that he subtitled his work "clarification and modernization of an interestingly effective seventeenth century psychology" illustrates that he felt more inspired and compatible with the creative approach of Lilly than he was with the static and passive approach that had since come to dominate the British astrological scene. He gives his main credit to Lilly and mentions that it is Lilly's pioneer work "together with a very few and sometimes surprisingly inconsequential books on the subject written since his day" that formed his bibliography. In all, this totals only seven works on horary that he had access to at that time: Zadkiel's version of Lilly's text, the 19th century works of Simmonite, and Raphael, and the early 20th century works of Leo, C.C. Zain, Geraldine Davis and Robert de Luce. It seems clear from his reference to these being "surprisingly inconsequential", that he held much of the latter in scant regard. [19]

Recent articles and publications suggesting that the influences which resurrected horary in recent times were centred upon what was happening in Britain ought to be reconsidered. The evidence suggests that the British influence around the turn of the last century had become stifling in its use of horary, and was consequently generating hostility towards the concept that lay beneath it. There didn't seem to be any attempt in Britain, in the early 20th century, to consider horary as anything but the fatalistic branch of astrology that could drag all other branches into disrepute. Yet in America there emerged much more of a will to work creatively with horary and to recapture that "interestingly effective seventeenth century psychology".

Perhaps it is highly relevant that in America, around the same time that Leo was enduring his legal trials, the law was pressing down just as heavily on the activities of Evangeline Adams - but Adams fought back more effectively. Adams never denied that she made predictions; she insisted that she did and that they were very good ones too! She was first arrested under suspicion of 'fortune telling' in 1911 and although the charges were dropped, she revelled in the publicity she gained from them. Then when she was brought to trial again on similar charges in 1914, her decision to impress the judge with just how good she was, not only led to her being acquitted of all 'wrong doing', but also brought a commendation from the judge (reported in the papers) that she "had raised astrology to the dignity of an exact science". [20]

So horary was never squashed in America, not even by those involved in the humanistic movement, who offered the means to ennoble its philosophy in a way that removed the final charge of being too fatalistic and potentially weakening of the will. Later American writers such as Australian born Ivy Goldstein Jacobson, who wrote her Simplified Horary Astrology in 1960, and Barbara Watters, who wrote her Horary Astrology and the Judgement of Events in 1973, subsequently felt no need to argue or defend their interest to 'modern astrologers'.

Ivy Goldstein Jacobson's book was particularly influential, triggering the interests of Derek Appleby and Olivia Barclay, both of whom then had a persuasion upon other British astrologers.[21] But still, even in the Foreword of Olivia Barclay's own book, Horary Astrology Rediscovered (1990), there is respectful acknowledgement to the efforts made by Dane Rudhyar and Marc Edmund Jones in restoring to astrology "a sense of responsibility for the creation of our own lives". Barclay is generally considered 'strictly traditional' in her interests, but although she condemns some changes made under the umbrella of humanistic astrology that were "simply for the sake of change" or "wandering off track", she was still of the opinion that "For the most part, the new Humanistic Astrology was an evolution, a step forward".[22]

The fact that the respect which horary needed was being offered through the humanist branch of astrology is either a good thing or beside the point. Traditionalists will find that their techniques work just as well whether it is believed that the individual creates its own opportunities or is submissive to the limitations of fate. Lilly obviously believed that his clients had options worth exploring, but he also recognized the fatedness of situations that had moved beyond the point of return. His advice then was:

… afflict not the miserable with terror of a harsh judgement; in such cases let them know their hard fate by degrees. [23]

Through this comment we can see that Lilly valued the usefulness of the process above the 'cleverness' of the prediction. We can also see that he was conscious of the need to treat the mind of the recipient with care, so that problems weren't augmented through a client being paralysed by fear of the unavoidable, but that there was a gentle leading towards a state of realisation which worked in harmony with the client's inevitable progress towards self-recognition. Thus Lilly adhered to Ptolemy's reasoning that "foreknowledge accustoms and calms the soul and prepares it to greet with steadiness whatever comes", [24] and yet he wouldn't have been in conflict with Rudhyar either, because whether it's appropriate to call it a psychology or not, his astrology involved taking every opportunity to offer guidance and advice, and he was fully appreciative of the need to be sensitive and sensible with his words.


There can be no doubt that horary is properly described as a 'predictive' branch of astrology; but it is also probably obvious that I favour the active approach rather than the passive one. To me the veracity of horary illustrates the existence of a cosmic environment that is very rich, purposeful and meaningful. Its creative intelligence is full of signs, pointers, omens, and warnings, designed to lead us towards opportunities or necessary crisis points, and aiming to constantly develop our own ability to make wise and informed decisions on the possibilities before us. I am personally a believer that the human spirit does have the power to rise above what might be expected, but that this entails an effort of will to transcend the 'predictable' and to consciously conquer the baser instinctive responses. Horary is divination, and there is no denying that. But does the phrase 'fortune telling' adequately summarise what divination could and should mean? To 'tell one's fortune' implies that we are delivering advance news of what will inevitably fall upon someone's head regardless of what they do or how they strive to perform; but 'divination', in its original sense, indicates inspiration and guidance from a 'divine' or 'spiritual source'. Maybe it is wrong to worry about whether that divine source originates from without or from within or both at the same time; the only relevant point is that no one can practise horary effectively without a firm belief in the existence of providence.

Historical lessons remain invaluable to us as situations we can learn from, and one question I have often reflected upon is, given the circumstances he found himself in, can we really blame Leo for distancing himself from the concept of prediction? I realise there is no easy answer, but my conclusion is that, if he did regard what he was doing as "truthful and legitimate advice" as H.S. Green reports, then it really was foolish to try and argue that astrology can operate without being seen as a predictive tool. Once again, words from Lilly's 'Letter to the Student' echo down the centuries as a pertinent reminder: "avoid the fashion of the times"! Hopefully astrologers will never allow themselves to fall into that trap again. [25] If we are to retain our own respect as astrologers we must first give it to astrology and to what we aim to do with it. Our argument should not be to reject the potential of prediction, but to exalt its purpose, and to hold it always in a place of philosophical and spiritual respect. Prediction will never again seem like a dirty word if we keep in mind that it is representing the ability to 'say before' what appears to be 'fated' has truly become so.

Notes & References:

  1] Initially published by McGraw-Hill Book Company, this book, written jointly by Derek and Julia Parker, has sold millions of copies and has been translated into 12 languages. It should be pointed out that their more recent editions now contain a very useful introductory guide to horary and their earlier comments are referred to here only because they demonstrate an attitude that was typical and widespread in western astrology at that time.
Back to text

  2] In response to the original publication of an earlier version of this article in the Traditional Astrologer magazine (Sept. 1998), Maurice McCann wrote an interesting letter which picked up an intriguing point concerning this picture: it has been altered! This appears to deepen someone's commitment to discredit the reputation of horary astrologers. A section of McCann's letter (published in the TA, issue 18, March 1999) reads:

I had been discussing your article with Peter Berresford Ellis when he noticed that one of the photos had been tinkered with. I recognised the photo of the so-called horary astrologer from page 19 of Louis MacNeice’s book Astrology, first published in 1964 a year after his death. This was one of three books published posthumously. Louis MacNeice (1907-63) was the famous Irish poet who lived in Antrim a few miles up the coast from Belfast. You acknowledge that both photos, the horary astrologer and the photo of John Addey beside it, have been reproduced with permission from Derek Parker. On p.350 in the MacNeice book this photograph of the so-called horary astrologer is acknowledged to Herbert List.

In the MacNeice book the caption says: 'Casting horoscopes to answer questions is called “horary” astrology; below right, an Italian fortune teller outside a Naples law court undertakes to answer litigants’ questions by this method.'

The two published versions of the controversial image
On the banner in the MacNeice version, underneath the drawing of a hand and the diagram of the zodiac with the signs in reverse order, are the words: Kiromanzia (cartomanzia) attraverso la costra mono. Potete conoscere scientificamente ii vostro destino. Consultatemi.

In English this roughly means “Chiromancy (fortune telling by cards) through your hand we will be able to know your fate scientifically. Consult me.”

The words at the top part of the banner in English read roughly “Famous magician Hans D’Anna will reveal whatever the future”. In short, the so-called horary astrologer would appear to be more of a palmist, a hand reader and not an astrologer at all!

In the photo which appeared in the TA, these words have been blacked out. It was this blacking that made Peter suspicious. If you look carefully you will see a black bar with a straight white line at the bottom of the banner blotting out these give-away words. The bottom of the banner is lined up with the top of the palmist’s head. In the MacNeice photo the bottom of the banner is lined up just beneath his left shoulder. The blacked out banner space between the top of his head and his shoulder has been altered to appear as if part of the stone wall. The photograph has been cleverly forged. The only apparent reason would seem to be to give horary astrology a very bad press and to attempt to dishonour it. The dishonour, I would suggest, must be bestowed on those, whoever they may be, who deliberately and with malice aforethought falsified this photograph.

Back to text

  3] Horary Astrology, published through Leo's 'Modern Astrology' office in London, 1907.
Back to text

  4] " ... Horary Astrology, as practised to-day, is the vilest rubbish imaginable, and not worthy of the name."
Modern Astrology, vol2, no 10. May 1897.
Back to text

  5] I am grateful to Maurice McCann for providing some pertinent references that illustrate the harsh things Leo had to say about horary:

The first aim of the Simple Method of Instruction given in these pages was to clear away the rubbish of horary Astrology from the path of the true practical Astrology.
Ibid., p.433

Ibid., p.437

Nevertheless, incessant recourse to Horary Astrology is not to be recommended; and this on two grounds. First and foremost, undue reliance upon horary astrology is to be strongly deprecated on (in the highest sense of the word) moral grounds, in that it weakens the true judgement and if practised to excess gradually deprives those who lean on it of all independence and self-reliance. Secondly, and from a more practical standpoint, because, unless pursued in conjunction with Natal Astrology, it is apt to lead to erroneous judgements.
Horary Astrology by Alan Leo, 1909. Reprinted by Ascella. Supplement: 'Horary Astrology and Divination'

It requires very little skill to become a successful Horary Astrologer, and it will very often happen that those who would shrink from the more abstruse study of Natal Astrology may become experts in divination by the aid of horary figures.
Ibid. Introduction.

Back to text

  6] For "A Brief Biography of Alan Leo" see

The details of this particular affair are explored at length in A Confusion of Prophets: Victorian and Edwardian Astrology, by Patrick Curry (Collins & Brown, London, 1992). Leo asked one of his assistants to draw up a chart for 4:15 pm after he was presented with the summons at his London address. If Leo treated this as a horary chart, then he would have judged that he (Venus) was in a stronger position than his opponents (Mars), and with the Moon void of course, he might have expected the charges to be dropped. The presence of the 12th house ruler in the 7th is one of the indications of sinsiter motives by his accusers.

Chart for the time Leo received his first summons

Back to text

  7] Curry, p.149.
Back to text

  8] Ibid., p.155.
Back to text

  9] Ibid., p.14
Back to text

  10] Ibid., p.157
Back to text

  11] This is my own assessment based upon personal experience and dialogues with relevant friends and colleagues. I became personally involved in the efforts to raise attention in horary through lectures and courses, publishing reprints of traditional texts, and in the distribution of the Traditional Astrologer magazine that ran between June 1993 and January 2000. Throughout that time my experience was that horary sat on the fringes and a certain amount of diplomacy needed to be exercised in order to talk or write openly about horary and traditional technique without generating a hostile reaction from mainstream astrologers. Due to illness I dropped off the astrological scene at the end of 1999 and regained an involvement when I set up the Skyscript website in spring 2003. It came as a surprise for me to realise that during the interim there had been a noticeable shift of attitude and that a great many mainstream astrologers were now looking to further their knowledge of horary and traditional techniques in general.

For a more detailed exploration of the restoration of horary in Britain since the 1970s, especially as it relates to the efforts of Geoffrey Cornelius, see Kirk Little's paper Defining the Moment - Geoffrey Cornelius and the Development of the Divinatory Perspective, available as a pdf download from Garry Phillipson's website:

Or for a more general view see Nick Campion's The Traditional Revival in Modern Astrology: A Preliminary History, available at
Back to text

  12] Upon this theme Leo wrote:

A Horary figure is useful to answer serious questions when the birth time is unknown, or when the mind is very anxious concerning any important event; and so long as it is not confounded with natal astrology it can be exceedingly useful. It tends, however, to weaken the will and initiative of the user who relies upon the figure, for he thereby becomes, more or less, a fatalist.

From one of two (undated) hardback notebooks by Leo containing Lessons For Beginners In Astrology held in the library of the Astrological Lodge of London.
Back to text

  13] He was born in Paris (Mar 23, 1895 12:42 am LMT) but emigrated to New York in 1916. For a detailed biography see Dane Rudhyar: An Illustrated Biographical Sketch at
Back to text

  14] Reproduced in full on Michael R. Meyer 'Rudhyar Archival Project':
Back to text

  15] Practice of Astrology, the Twelfth Step. See above.
Back to text

  16] Marc Edmund Jones, Problem Solving by Horary Astrology, (David McKay, Philadelphia, 1946), Foreword, p.10.
Back to text

  17] Jones tries to make his book all things to all people. It deals with a specialist subject and yet he aims it at the popular market, and so the first 100 pages or so are taken up explaining such elementary principles as what the zodiac is and the difference between the ecliptic and equator, etc. He feels obliged to detail everything needed to be known in order to manually cast a chart, forcing such explanations as what sidereal time is and how to calculate angles. Although this part of the book goes on and on, the instruction is still very rushed and incomplete, presumably so that Jones can get around to horary; so from the start there is a sense of confusion that makes his explanations seem incomprehensible even for an experienced astrologer. By the time he gets around to outlining horary techniques it all feels very tedious and laborious. He is neither detailed nor illuminating in his explanations of the actual principles of horary. There are very few practical examples and references to these are scattered; one comment regarding the chart appearing in one place, another appearing elsewhere. In all, it is a very long winded text which would probably confuse most students more then it enlightened them. He obviously had a passion for horary to write a book of over 400 pages about it, but his mistake was to market it at the man in the street, when no-one but a die-hard enthusiast would be willing to mine his nuggets of gold from the surrounding dross.
Back to text

  18] Jones, p.58.
Back to text

  19] His full bibliography, including reference to his own research, is:

Lilly, William, An Introduction to Astrology (incorporated in "Christian Astrology"), London, 1647; edited by Zadkiel (Richard James Morrison), London, 1852; popular edition, "Bohn's Scientific Library", London, 1865 (?)

Simmonite, William Joseph, The Prognostic Astrologer, London, 1851(?); new edition, Horary Astrology, by John Story, Sheffield, 1896

Raphael (Robert Cross), Horary Astrology, London, 1883

Leo, Alan, Horary Astrology, London, 1907

Zain, C. C. (Elbert Benjamine) Horary Astrology; three manuscript lessons; Los Angeles, October-November, 1920; combined with three general lessons and another on elections; Los Angeles, 1931

Jones, Marc Edmund, Divinatory Astrology, twenty-four manuscript lessons issued in mimeographed form; Hollywood, California, 1930-31

DeLuce, Robert, Horary Astrology, Los Angeles, California, 1932; new "improved, revised and enlarged" edition; Los Angeles, California, 1942

Davis, Geraldine, Modern Scientific Textbook on Horary Astrology with Authentic Charts and Predictions, Los Angeles, California, 1942
Back to text

  20] See A Brief Biography of Evangeline Adams by Karen Christino
Back to text

  21] Irish astrologer Maurice McCann, who was close friend and colleague of Derek Appleby and himself very influential in his horary teachings, writings and lectures, also reports that Ivy Goldstein Jacobson's work was one of his earliest sources. He recalls that Derek Appleby first became interested in the subject after reading a short article written by Joan Rodgers in the popular 'new age' magazine Prediction, (sometime around the mid 70s). After this Appleby more or less developed his own system, later coming across the work of Goldstein-Jacobson which offered him a more defined and structured approach. Derek mainly adhered to his own techniques so is far more important in the revival of interest in horary than the revival of interest in traditional astrology as some reports claim; for he never had a great passion for the traditional texts.

Maurice also recalls that his own interest in horary was activated after hearing Bernard Eccles speak of it at the Astrological Lodge of London in the early 80s, and that during this talk his notion of astrology changed from 'black and white to full glorious Technicolor!' Clearly the British community did benefit from having a nucleus of well informed and passionately interested astrologers working together and meeting at groups that were physically close to each other. This allowed them to 'turn up the volume' about horary so that it had its fair representation in journals, and it gathered enough demand for information to see Lilly's text back brought back into circulation. Even so, it has to be appreciated that the impetus for their interest had come over from America.
Back to text

  22] Olivia Barclay, Horary Astrology Rediscovered, (Whitford Press, Pennysylvania, 1990) Foreword pp.13-14.
Back to text

  23] William Lilly, Christian Astrology, (originally published London, 1647); 'Letter to the Student of Astrology'.
Back to text

  24] Tetrabiblos, (1st century AD), translated by F.E. Robbins, Harvard Heinemann, Loeb Classical Library; 1.3 .
Back to text

  25] One incident that springs to mind occurred a few years back when the British AA circulated a proposal for feedback that suggested defining astrology as a religion, in order that it would be able to claim more rights in its representation on British television.
Back to text

Deborah HouldingDeborah Houlding is the web mistress of the Skyscript site. The past editor of The Traditional Astrologer magazine, and author of The Houses: Temples of the Sky, her articles feature regularly in astrological journals. She has a particular interest in researching the origin and development of astrological technique and as a consulting astrologer specialises in horary. She is the principal of the STA school of traditional horary astrology, which offers courses by correspondence and intensive residential seminars.

By Deborah Houlding:
The Houses: Temples of the Sky

The Houses: Temples of the Sky by Deborah Houlding

© Deborah Houlding, September 2006.

Horary Astrology

This article is expanded from one originally published in the Traditional Astrologer magazine under the title: 'Fate, Prediction & the Guidance of Horary'
(Issue 17, Sept. 1998).