Skyscript home page

This article was recorded by Garry Phillipson on 5th February 1998 as part of his research for the book Astrology in the Year Zero

More details of the book and Garry's work, including other interviews are available on his website

An Interview with Maurice McCann by Garry Phillipson

Maurice McCann is a past chairman of the Astrological Lodge of London and editor of Réalta, the journal of the Irish Astrological Association. He is the author of The Void of Course Moon, The Sun & The Aspects, Astrological Essays (all published by Tara Astrological Publications), and co-author of Eclipses published by Aquarian Press (1989) with Derek Appleby. Maurice is also the conceptual designer of Tara, a computer software program for horary astrology.

Maurice has a Diploma in Higher Education on the history of astrology during the English Civil War period as well as a BA (Hons) degree in the same subject. At present he is studying for his MA at Bath Spa University College. He has researched and written extensively on astrology, being a regular contributor to a wide variety of international astrological journals, and with essays appearing in several anthologies on the subject. In addition he has lectured in many countries, from Russia to Canada and the USA and from Australia, Germany, Norway and Denmark to Belgium, Italy and Yugoslavia as well as in the UK, and of course his native Ireland. You can visit Maurice McCann's personal website at

Maurice McCann's birth chart

- This article was recorded on 5th February 1998 -

Q: What happened to your career in music?

I gave up music to go into astrology. Astrology just took me over - I couldn't resist it. And at that time, to me, astrology was really very easy. All my life, everything had been very very difficult. Anything I attempted to do, anything I tried to learn - even just in life in general, everything was an uphill slog. It was a typical Saturn opposing the ascendant, with double Capricorn, thing. But when I got into astrology, I just couldn't believe it. I got this little paperback book ('Astrology') by Ron Davison. It showed you how to draw up a horoscope, and said that you had to buy an ephemeris. So I went out and got the ephemeris, and that night I looked at the instructions and drew up my horoscope that night. I didn't realise until years afterwards that people couldn't do that.

I practically learned the symbols in one night - I don't remember learning them, I just seemed to do it.

You can imagine - I was struggling with the music, playing guitar in some really terrible bands. And the astrology was so easy, so I decided to go down that path, and eventually gave up music for astrology.

Q: What attracted you to that book in the first place?

What attracted me was, I watched a television programme, where they were interviewing people. They were interviewing Patric Walker, and I didn't know who he was. He was describing Sun-signs, because that was what he did. He described a Capricorn, and I thought, 'My God, that's incredible, because he's just described me' - you know how you are always fooled into this thought. I found after that, that I was picking up astrology books, so eventually I got Ron's because it was cheap. At the time it was 40p.

Eventually I met Ron, and told him how I'd got his book and drawn up my chart. He said, 'Did you get as big a shock as I did?' I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'When you saw how terrible your horoscope was!'

This is about 15-16 years ago. I'd been on my own for 8 or 9 years, just teaching myself - drawing up horoscopes and doing readings for friends. I thought, 'I need other astrologers - I can't do this just on my own'. So I heard about a class that Nick Campion was giving, down at Parliament Hill. Nick was teaching all forms of astrology - one night it would be mundane, one night it would be medical, and then harmonics - so this night he got Bernard Eccles to stand in and do horary.

I had been going through a crisis around this time, because I wasn't satisfied with birth charts. I didn't feel that confident or strong about them; it seemed very unreliable. It was all conjecture and guess-work, nobody seemed to be very positive about it.

I thought, 'OK - what if, each day, some unusual event was to happen to me? Would that show up in my horoscope? So I used to be on the lookout for anything that would happen - any sort of an incident; if there was a power cut, for instance, I'd try and get the time, and see if that locked in with my chart.

At times it seemed to work; other times it left me still dissatisfied. I began to think, 'Well, this stuff doesn't work' - you know? A lot of it was highly implausible, I thought - you read various things, or listen to people delineating charts… I remember, in the Lodge one night, seeing somebody talking about some form of mental problem having to do with Pluto. I thought, 'My God, you've got to be able to do more than that, surely?'

So anyhow; I was very dissatisfied. I began to think, 'Well, this isn't working - but I'm hooked on it - so where do I go from here?'

But Bernard came along and started doing horary. I was amazed - it was like looking at a black and white television all your life, and then suddenly seeing it in colour. When he was doing it, I knew - 'I know this; I can do this; this is it - this is really it!' Because I could follow what he was talking about, I knew exactly what he was on about.

I think there were only two books available on horary in this country at the time. One was Ivy Goldstein-Jacobsen's book, and the other was Barbara Watters. Bernard said, 'You have to get those!' So the next day I went down to Compendium and got the last copy of each. I thought, 'This is it; I'm definitely on here - horary's for me!'

I had heard about Derek Appleby, who was an expert in horary. But he lived outside London, he didn't really teach - he would just give an occasional lecture at the Lodge. Anyway, I was determined to meet Derek; and eventually I was introduced to him by Olivia Barclay. Derek and I became friends after a while.

Q: Didn't I hear once that you had become more involved in astrology as a result of a horary reading by somebody?

Yes, it was a reading by Derek Appleby and on which I decided to quit music. Within 3 days I had turned my back on music and never played the guitar again.

So I struggled on; I'd phone up Derek, and he would give me suggestions about what to do. Olivia at that stage brought out her photocopies of 'Christian Astrology' - which was a great help. She'd done about eighty photocopies - can you imagine, with that book? - and she collated them all around her kitchen! Then eventually the Regulus Press brought out their edition, and everyone could get a copy. But at that time it was in the British Library, maybe a few other libraries, plus three or four collectors - so nobody knew what was in it; and Zadkiel's book was a total fabrication. He had changed all the rules, changed things around so nobody knew what was true or false.

So Zadkiel did a very big disservice to horary - it was Olivia Barclay who pointed this out. Just before Derek died I was getting very dissatisfied with horary. I was doing quite a lot of teaching, and I was seeing clients at that time - and the vast majority of the answers were wrong. It's very embarrassing. When you do horary, it's black and white; you either get it right or you get it wrong. And people were telling me, 'You got it wrong'. It was OK doing the nativities, because you sort of lumbered your way through the chart; I did predictions on the chart, and would get one or two right - and that was enough to keep them happy; nobody would condemn you.

But when you do horary, you will get condemned! And you've got to be pretty tough to take it. So I was back at that stage of looking at it and thinking, 'Oh my God, this whole astrology is rubbish! It's not working!' (This is four years ago)

With Derek's influence - I thought, 'It must be OK if he's doing it; and Lilly was getting them right…' But I couldn't figure it out. I was doing all the right things - because I was a stickler for all the rules, if it was too early to say, I would tell the client, 'It's too early to say'. Then half an hour later, the phone would ring and they'd say, 'Well - it wasn't too early' And there was nothing too early about it.

I got away with stuff. I met somebody recently who told everyone, 'Oh, Maurice! He did my chart years and years ago, and made an accurate prediction that I would meet somebody from a far-off country, who would do business with me and it would be great…' - I don't even remember saying that! God knows where I got it from. But every astrologer will tell you stories like this. Because, for some reason, you can hit it - or it might be that you say something that the client misinterprets, to your advantage. But there's no way in the world that you could repeat that again.

I was getting very discouraged. I was teaching here, and I stopped the class. I stopped seeing clients. That was about four years ago. Those four years I have just spent on horary - four, five hours a day, often more. I started testing it. I started testing the rules. Because I thought, 'How do we know that these work? Who has tested this? How do we know that the translation of light works?'

I bought everything on horary - whether it was any good or not - just to see what people were saying. I used to go in the British Museum and photocopy old English astrologers (since they're the most available in this country). I even did a degree in the Civil War period - on propaganda in astrology.

I started asking questions like, 'Where do the aspects come from?' You'd look up Ptolemy in the Tetrabiblos and he would say that you divide the circle up by numbers. But what puzzled me was - OK, you divide the circle by 2, 3, 4 and 6 - but that didn't sound right to me, because where was the 5 and where was the 7?

So I got more and more into thinking about the aspects, and got round to thinking, where do the orbs come from? I wrote an article where I think I pinpointed the moment when the planets lost their power; they lost their orbs; and the aspects took on orbs. Alan Leo did that - because he was having a lot of problems with trying to accommodate minor aspects. Because if the Sun has a 17 degree orb, how do you fit in minor aspects? He flipped it over to the aspects having orbs; then got the idea of narrowing down the orbs - at which point the concept came along that, the tighter the orb, the more powerful it is. If you narrow it down enough, you are bound to be right - that was the idea. But in fact, horary shows that isn't right. If you're dependent on the resolution of the question on the Moon aspecting the Sun, then the answer would be 'Yes' if they were fourteen and a half degrees apart. It would still be 'Yes' if they were only one degree apart. How far apart they were didn't matter.

That idea of Leo's has caught on like wildfire today; you narrow the orbs, and it's the aspects that have the power.

So this is basically what I have been doing for the last four years - just looking at the five rules in horary, and finding out, do they work or not? That's it. Most of the questions I've done have been my own questions, and it's just based on yes or no answers - so, a fifty-fifty chance of getting it right.

That's why I had to develop the computer program (Tara) - it's just a logical step. I had realised that it wasn't enough just to look at the three planets involved in the question; you have to look at the rest of them. So I used to sit here, spending one to two hours every day calculating - all the rules, everything. That got very tiring. I thought, 'Oh God, I can't stand this'. So I wondered if I could get someone to program it all - and that is how the program came about. Now I can roll off a horary, and be pretty sure about getting it right, in about four to five minutes.

There's no interpretation involved in a 'yes/no' horary; you just go through the rules. Now what that means is that the program could be updated to answer those questions itself. This is for people who know what house the question belongs to. Now if you get people who don't know what house it's about, you can say, 'OK - there's the answer for the 5th, 7th, and 11th - you asked the question, you go away and make up your own mind'.

… I can get that program to calculate quintiles and septiles, but they sure as hell are not going to work. I've put the hours in on this, and they do not work in horary.

Q: Do you have an answer to the question why quintiles and septiles aren't used?

Yes, I believe I do. I didn't solve it - it was a friend of mine who is a mathematician, and the best jazz trombonist ever out of Wales. I used to bat ideas to and fro with Nick (Evans) for years; he understood where I was coming from. He's not an astrologer and that meant I could bounce a lot of ideas off him, because he didn't have the fixed ideas that astrologers have.

His idea is that the very early astrologers may have discovered aspects through trigonometry. When you look at the sky and see two planets, you don't immediately think of dividing a circle. You see the stars as a backdrop, but notice that these planets move. Eventually, you maybe notice that things tend to happen when the planets are a certain distance apart. So they probably wondered the distance was between the two planets. To measure, they might get a cord, and hold it up. If the cord is the same length as your arm, you have an equilateral triangle. That was the square root of one.

So then you think, 'What if it was the square root of two?' That happens to be ninety degrees. The next step is the square of three - 120 degree trine; the square root of four - 180 degrees.

So Mick proposed this to me and I thought, 'Yes, that's logical; that's the answer'. Because these guys built the pyramids, so they knew about measurement; they knew about trigonometry.

When we look at a circle today, it looks to be incomplete if you divide by 2, 3, 4 and 6. But that problem just doesn't arise if you see it as being derived from the distance of the square root of 1, 2, 3 and 4. That is so simple and logical.

Q: OK, that explains how it might have come about in the first place, but it doesn't say anything about why only those divisions would signify something in the chart.

Again, hypothesising, they must have kept records over hundreds of years and noted down what worked. It must have worked that way, because eventually you have everyone agreeing - 'A trine is good, a square is bad'.

Another thing they would have noticed would have been the five planetary movements:

1. Separation - one planet separating from another
2. Application - one planet applying to another
3. A planet separating from one and going to another
4. One planet applying to one, but that one going to a third planet
5. This planet applying to this planet, but before perfecting a third planet comes up and then hits that one
6. Or just two planets; one coming up and then retrograding back again.

So those were the five movements; and those happen to be the five rules of horary.

I'm trying to look for some kind of logic here. You can look at harmonics and divide the circle by 113; you are going to hit something. You could go on dividing that circle forever - it gets ridiculous, you know?

Q: OK, but talking in terms of tradition: in the Hindu tradition there's the Navamsa, which is along the lines of the ninth harmonic…

Yes, but is it - really? You see I became very suspicious of astrologers who would make a statement about something, say this was what it was - when, in all probability, it was a misinterpretation. I wonder if we went to a Hindu astrologer, and asked them exactly what it was - maybe we'd get a different interpretation of it, you know?

Take the void of course Moon as an example. When you're dealing just with the English language, and you're looking at William Lilly and all those people, who described what a void-of-course Moon is - astrologers today have not got a clue, and they all disagree on what is a void-of-course Moon. Now that is in the English language, among people who speak English as a first language. So can you imagine, if they are confused - isn't it very likely, if you go into Vedic astrology, that the English speakers are mis-hearing, or mis-understanding, or mis-interpreting, what the navamsa is?

Q: Do you think someone could look at your natal chart and understand why you have taken the approach to astrology that you have? Your approach seems very Saturnine to me, in terms of trying to get to what is ultimately real.

One of the joys I have in life is to watch snooker on television. Because I am very much inclined towards people who work at their job. These guys practise six hours a day. Those guys are putting in the hours, putting in the work - and that's why they have got where they are today. I do not see anybody in astrology do that. Let's say it disappoints me.

The Saturnine approach I'm taking gets easily misunderstood. What I want to do - at least in horary - is to see, 'When this planet's there and this one is sextiling it, does that really give an answer?' So it's very mechanical. But once that is established, and everything has been printed out for you - so that you don't have to slog through everything - that gives you the freedom to do the interpretation.

So I believe this program will free people from Saturn, and will open up their intuition and creative ability. Get them to the point where they can say, 'Wow! We know the tools to work with, now let's use the tools and expand our consciousness'.

That's the way I'm thinking. But I feel pretty pessimistic about it, to be honest. I don't think it's going to work, and there are a lot of good reasons. It's not financially viable; the vast majority of astrologers are hobbyists, and always will be. You aren't going to get the dedicated people. This isn't the music business, this isn't snooker.

Q: There is a school of thought which holds that, in the interpreting of a chart, there is a coming together of factors and the level of technical nous of the astrologer is only one of the relevant factors. William Lilly said, "the more holy thou art, and more neer to God, the purer judgement thou shalt give" - which suggests that there is something more than technique, pure and simple, involved. What do you feel about that?

I think that's right. But you have to have the technique. And you must also have the ability to read the other person's mind.

And you must be very precise. Say a girl comes to me, and asks: 'Will I get married this year?' So I look at the seventh house, I go through the whole process of analysis. But what I don't know, because I'm not God-like, is that she's asking because she wants to leave her family - her home-life is so awful, and that is what's behind the question.

I've also had this idea; take this seventh-house question - 'Will I get married this year?' Could that be answered by any house? Meaning, that in the back of her mind, she's asking about the first house - which is herself; the second house - security; the third house - brothers and sisters; the fourth house - because the family background is unhappy; fifth house because she's really asking if she's going to get pregnant…

So what the astrologer has to do is to quiz the querent, say 'What are you talking about? What is the bottom line here?' But also, the astrologer themselves cannot afford to be prejudiced. Let's say the girl is a friend of yours. You want to give her a good answer - and you can then make the mistake of overlooking something. So Lilly is saying, you have to pray to God - 'Please God, let me get this one right'.

It's a big, big issue just to be the astrologer. And a horary astrologer has to get it right. You can't edge out of it. You can't duck and dive the way you can with natal astrology.

I think the astrologer has to be well-rounded - spiritually, emotionally, mentally. Physically, you've got to be fit.

I believe the rules of horary should be adopted into natal astrology, because that is the way the planets move. And the first thing the old astrologers did was, to look at the sky and see these things move. And they noticed five basic movements. Those planets are not going to move any way other than these five basic ways. Therefore it's logical to bring that into the natal chart.

I believe there must be a way of reading reincarnation into the chart. Look at translation of light. Here is the Moon separating from a planet, and applying to another. Now the idea is, these two planets are not in aspect. But if you have a fast-moving planet leaving that one, then contacting the other, that brings their energies into working order. What that means is, that you can be looking at a birth chart, and you can see two planets and dismiss them - fail to notice that another planet is translating them, and therefore bringing their energies together.

Say you believe in reincarnation. We are told that you bring over baggage - discarded stuff from the last life. So it's like these two planets are no longer in contact, but this (translating) one brings the baggage from the past back to this guy again. So I think that translation of light may possibly be an indication of previous lives in the birth-chart.

Q: What problems do you see in astrology today?

All problems. I think it is 100% problems. Mainly because no-one is being taught correctly. None of us know how it works. Even just the origins of the aspects - that should have been sorted out years ago. Why did nobody do that?

Why are they still arguing about orbs? What do the orbs belong to? To the planets or the aspects?

What other problems are there? Egotistical problems. I think astrologers are basically failures. They come into it - and they can pick out a couple of planets, and make a story out of them, make a prediction on them. It doesn't necessarily ever work. But they say, 'Oh, I can do this!' And once they have got to that point, they will not stand any criticism of it. A lot of the astrologers I know will say, 'Well - it works for me…' and that is no answer. That is lazy.

Q: There are two basic views of how astrology works, it seems to me. (Not for a moment wanting to deny what you say about astrologers being complacent and lacking rigour). One view says that there is an ultimate astrology (no matter how that is conceived by different people); there is a perfect set of techniques, and maybe it was known in ancient civilisations, maybe it's never been attained yet, but all progress within astrology is a march towards that end point. The other view says that there are different astrologies, which have validity. Robert Hand likened it to speaking Italian, English, Chinese; each valid in its own right, but you need to know which you are working with. Where do you stand on this?

From the research I'm doing, I'll have to go with the first one. But that is my starting point. The techniques are important - and what I mean by 'the techniques' is the aspects; and the orbs of the planets; and the five basic planetary movements - I think that's your basis. What I find, on a very very regular, daily basis, is that is how horary works - how you produce answers in a horary.

One reason I don't publicise wonderful predictions is that most of my questions are very personal, innocuous and not really that important - 'Will so-and-so phone me today?', or 'Will I get an email when I log on?', or 'Will I get a letter in the post tomorrow morning?' People are going to look at that and say, 'So what!' - but they are working, they really are working.

So there is the mechanical side, the Saturn side; the planets go round, and you can look it up in the ephemeris and find the day when they will perfect. So there is that side, which must apply to Vedic astrology - as well as western, or Chinese, or whatever. That's got to be the basis of it.

Now the Hindus may not go for the aspects and the orbs in exactly the same way as we do; but they have probably got some basic three, or four, of the nature that I just mentioned. But is it then that the Hindu will approach the chart and interpret it in a different way to us? Marriage for instance, in India, is a completely different ball-game to marriage in this country. So maybe they are taking in different things. It may simply be that what Rob Hand is saying is, that you have got the mathematical side, and then there is the interpretation, which is where you use your creative imagination.

The different astrologies, I would think, are within the creative imagination - and the culture that the person is brought up in.

Q: Also that with Hindu astrology you're working with sidereal rather than tropical.

Yes, sorry, I'd forgotten that.

Q: I was talking with Pamela Crane a month or two back, and she uses tropical, sidereal and draconic…

Yeah, I know.

Q: … she was espousing the view of an over-astrology which incorporates everything; her angle was that Indians gravitate towards the sidereal because that is more a duty, karma oriented thing, and that is the way their culture is attuned so it resonates more with them; the tropical chart is more about the individual self.

Well, that's only an opinion. I'm trying to stick to facts, you know? That's why I'm just looking at the rules of horary; it's a factual thing. That translation of light that I described will in fact produce 'Yes' answers.

I've avoided interpreting charts for at least the last four years. I don't interpret a horary when I get one. I look at it, and it's either yes or no. I don't write out a big description - 'The letter will be from the Income Tax, it will be in a yellow envelope, it will come from the east…' which can be done. But I have not looked into that part of it yet. I'm just trying to establish the very basics of the thing.

Pam may be right, but it's an opinion. I'm not trying to give opinions, I'm trying to be factual. I probably am failing in that, but nevertheless that's what I am attempting to do.

Q: You mentioned getting 'direct hits' with a lot of small questions. Are there any things that you would consider major successes - or indeed, major failures?

I can think of one major failure which has caused me nightmares recently. It was just down to sheer bloody carelessness on my part. I've had plenty of failures, and it has all made me think that you have to be absolutely on top of it with this kind of work. You cannot afford any carelessness. That's why I get so impatient with other horary astrologers, because I know they are not putting the effort in. And they've got to be screwing up all over the place. I don't mind saying that. I've got other opinions which I won't say.

Success: About seven years ago, a friend of mine from Denmark phoned me up, and told me she was pregnant. So I asked the question, 'When will the baby be born?' Worked on the question - and I was working on a certain technique at this time, to do with transits: I wanted to get the very day of the baby's birth. Which I did eventually get. I got it exactly right to the day, but missed the time within about six hours - which was a bit of carelessness. I'd taken Saturn as the significator of the baby, and I took Saturn's position in the horary and used that as a measurement. But on the day the baby was born, Saturn of course had moved on a couple of degrees. Had I allowed for that, I would have got the time right. I don't know why I didn't see it!

I was going to write a book on this - I was accurately predicting the day of births. I had it, and I thought, 'Great! I've solved the problem of timing!' I was getting it spot on. And then it all crashed. I started to fail all over the place. Since then I've done so much more research that I think I know where I was going wrong now - I didn't use the parallels and the antiscia to measure time. I think that's where the answer lies now. After I've completed this section of work I'm doing now, I'm going to look at timing. Once you do timing, it's no longer 50/50; it's got to be 100% right. You've got to get that day right, and that's it. So if I can solve that problem, that will be spectacular. I was doing it at one stage, but then it started to crash.

Q: The thing I wonder with cases like that - does the faith, the confidence, in the mind of the astrologer have an impact on the results do you think?

No, I think it's sheer hard slog. It's not a case of, if you're in a magical mood, it'll all work for you; it won't. I'm telling you it won't! What you've got to do is, you've got to know all the components of the chart. You can't overlook a rule, or the fact that, three weeks later, there is Mercury - it's coming up to conjunct Mars, but before it gets there it goes retrograde. That's refranation. Now you're looking at the horoscope, and you say, 'Oh yes - Mercury sextile Mars, great, there's the answer'. But you fail to note that Mercury was slowing down, not quite getting to that sextile with Mars, stopping, and then going retrograde; refranation.

So that's where the program came in - it takes account of all that for you. And it is very mechanical. The planets are going around up in the sky in a mechanical order. They just go on, boringly doing that. Saturn is boundaries, structure, and those guys (the planets) are doing the structure all the time - until they explode or something. But at the moment, and for billions of years, they have been going round like that. There's a lot of structure in this. It isn't that you are going to get up one day and suddenly you will be illuminated.

You can be illuminated - if you've got the parts laid out. Then you can get the illumination. But you're not going to get the illumination, and then notice the refranation. You've got to know that first, and then your illumination will come. Then you can go into your creative imagination; then you may get the intuition coming in. It's like being a musician, or a doctor, or a snooker player - you've got to train, you've got to put the hours in.

Q: Sure. But what I'd also say is that - taking the analogy of the musician - in the end, you need to transcend your technique.

Exactly. What happens with a musician is - you learn your scales, all your chords, all your arpeggios, you do your exercises - and then comes the time when it's automatic. And then you're playing, but you're way off in the hills somewhere - you're not thinking about what you're doing. You see this with the jazz musicians, because they just take off. And if you ask them afterwards what they played, they haven't an idea. But they know their stuff.

I spoke to a friend of mine - Brendan Feeley, who practises Vedic astrology - about this. I said - suppose you could just knock the chart up in your head, and go straight through the interpretation. Not drawing horoscopes or looking at them, but tuned in to that moment. I said, Brendan, what about that? Do you know any Indian astrologers doing that? He said there are one or two in India like that. And I believe that is possible - because I've seen it with musicians.

I heard that Thelonius Monk was playing - in a recording studio, he was making an album. He was playing manically away, then suddenly stopped. The recording engineer said, 'What happened? Why did you stop?' He said, 'I played a wrong note that didn't sound right'.

He had learned all the technique, but had got beyond it; so he could play wrong notes, but make them sound right - usually. This one just didn't fit, so he stopped.

Now I don't see astrologers getting to this stage. That's why I'm pessimistic. Do you understand where I'm coming from?

Q: Yes, that astrologers are still at the five-finger exercise stage - or should be.

They should be! But they're not. Because they don't even know what an aspect is, or an orb. They're arguing about what a void-of-course Moon is. Why haven't they all got together and worked out what it is? I wrote a book on that, and I wrote it because I got angry. I was on the internet one day and I saw these people talking about void-of-course Moons. I thought, 'I've had enough of this. I'm going to go into it and write this damn book. That's it.' I even published it myself because of anger. Had I been cool in the head, I wouldn't have thought that I could publish.

Q: Yeah, the discussion groups on the internet are like a vast display of what goes on in the human mind - in other words, 98% junk.

That's right - terrible.

But you know, it took me years and years before I started to think about things - so I'm as guilty as anyone else, I'm as gullible as the next one.

Q: Which astrologers - either contemporary or historical - do you admire?

Robert Zoller and Dr. Igor Podolsky. I met Podolsky in Moscow a year or so ago. He is a surgeon who controls 9 theatres in a hospital in southern Russia and he uses astrology to time the moment the other surgeons begin the operations by making the first incision. There is a computer with astrological software in each theatre. He is very highly respected by the medical profession in Russia and also by his fellow astrologers.

Q: And historical figures?

Not really.

Q: Not even Lilly!

Definitely not. Because Lilly was regurgitating stuff. Now that's fair enough, because it keeps the thread going on through. But he states things that he's obviously not thought about. For instance - going back to void-of-course Moons - one of his great statements is that the Moon, even though it is void of course, will work - provided the main significators are strong. But the Moon, when it's in Taurus, Cancer, Sagittarius and Pisces, "can somewhat perform", he says. So (Lilly says that) it's obviously going to work when it's there, even if it's void of course.

If he had looked at the Moon in Pisces he would have seen that it is peregrine in that sign. (According to Ptolemy's table of essential dignities) Lilly often warned about peregrine planets. Here the Moon is peregrine and at the same time void of course. How could it 'perform somewhat'? Also the Moon in 2/3 of Sagittarius is also peregrine. There are many other instances where he does not seem to think about what he is writing.

First of all, that (suggestion that the Moon can 'perform somewhat') comes from Guido Bonatti. It's not Lilly's. (Subsequent note from MMcC:"You will find the above reference in Guido Bonatti's 'The Astrologers' Guide'. No.64.(p.30 or p.23 dependent on edition). Lilly edited this book in 1675, 28 years after he published Christian Astrology (1647), but was already aware of Bonatti's work. In his bibliography in Christian Astrology he only mentions one book by Bonatti De Astronomia Tractatus 10. Folio Basiliae 1550.)

That's fair enough, because Lilly does quote all his sources in his bibliography. So he did admire Bonatti. Now what is obvious to me is that he didn't stop to think about that. He didn't stop to think, 'Well, why is it strong in Taurus and Cancer? How can it possibly 'perform' in Sagittarius and Pisces?' He didn't stop to think about that. Because the Moon in Pisces is totally peregrine. And later on in his book, he says how peregrine planets are really bad. So the Moon's void-of-course and also peregrine. It hasn't got a chance in hell of 'performing'!

When you look at the Moon in Sagittarius - between 10 and 20 degrees, it's in its face, which is a very weak dignity. But between 0 and 10, and 20 and 30 - again, it's peregrine in Sagittarius. So Lilly hasn't stopped and said, 'Alright, let's have a look and see why it would work or wouldn't there'. He just repeats it (i.e. Bonatti's statement).

Q: Have you worked out why Bonatti thought the Moon was reasonably strong in Pisces & Sagittarius?

I can only reply that in all probability it was because Jupiter rules both Sagittarius and Pisces and maybe because Venus is exalted in Pisces - Venus and Jupiter being the benefics. This is the reply any one of the horary people would give you. I have not given it any more thought than that - probably a big mistake on my part. It would be sensible to try harder, I may look further into it at a later stage. If I find anything - which I doubt - I'll let you know.

Q: Do you have any other objections to Lilly?

There are other things. In some of his judgements he overlooks things; I can think of one - the siege of Reading - where there was a translation of light in the horoscope, which would have given him a wonderful interpretation of the events which eventually happened; and which he overlooked totally.

You get things like reception; he would say, 'These two planets are in reception' - yet when you look at it, it's a very weak reception, and you find that in fact either one or both planets were in much stronger receptions with other planets, which he doesn't mention. He seems not to see things - which is understandable, because he's trying to calculate all these possibilities in his head as he looks at the chart.

This is why Tara (MMcC's horary program) came around - because you can overlook so many pointers.

But you can see his weaknesses. The horary he did on Presbyterianism - 'Will Presbytry Stand?' is in my mind - and I'll back it up - a total propaganda job. It's not based on any horary techniques of any kind whatsoever. He was really bending over backwards to give a negative result on that question, and it is totally fabricated. When I looked at that I thought, 'Well - it's all very well to put your propaganda into the almanacs', (because he was a propagandist, and he earned a pension of £100 a year from Parliament for that), 'but you don't put it into a text book. Because you're trying to teach the right techniques of horary.'

There are three or four in there. The Presbyterian one is the most obvious, but the battle of Alresford, I think, is another one. Because he is stretching matters there. He is trying to make things work when they don't work, and is overlooking little things that don't suit his point of view.

So that's why I don't respect him. But I will say this. I found it astonishing, and I still don't understand how he did the prediction of the Fire of London. I thought that was brilliant. Because he got the exact day

Q: Can you remember where he cites the day? All I'm familiar with is the pictures symbolising a fire in London, which I think he published in his almanac.

The Fire of London was an article written by me in the AA Journal Jan/Feb 1990. vol. XXXII. no.1. The picture was a disguised horoscope for the 2nd September 1666, early in the morning, the 7 people in it representing one of the planets. The two babies being Mercury and Venus. I'll leave you to guess which is which. I don't know how he did it. So okay, it's half and half; maybe I've got a love/hate relationship with him!

Q: John Frawley's doing this thing of working out who's going to win football matches, and even putting money on the outcome sometimes. Do you agree that's possible? Do you think the Tara program would make it easier?

Yes, I've done that. In horary, it's your state of mind when you ask the question. I haven't done enough of this, but what I have done is this: say I'm watching a snooker game, and I think, 'I wonder if so-and-so is going to win this frame?'. If it's someone I'm not particularly interested in - if they're just another snooker player - and I ask myself the question, 'Are they going to win?', that's a horary question so what I'll do is straight away hit the (computer) buttons, look at the 7th house, and if there's an aspect or a rule giving a positive answer between the ruler of the 7th and the ruler of their 10th - which is the 4th - then they will win that frame, or the game, or the championship - whatever the question. So it's that easy.

On horses it's very difficult - this only really works if it's a one-to-one thing.

If it's a football match, and you're not particularly interested in who wins- you say, 'Chelsea are playing Swansea; will Chelsea win?', I would recommend using the 7th house ruler and the 4th house ruler (because the 4th is the 10th from the 7th). And if you can tie them in to one of the positive horary rules, then the answer is yes.

Q: As well as using the time of specific questions, he also takes the time of kick-off.

That might very well work, I haven't done any research. I'm only talking about the stuff I know. But I would say that if he's going to have success he has to use parallels, and the antiscia as well. That (i.e. not using them) is a big mistake astrologers are making.

Looking at a horoscope tells you 50% of the story; because when you look at a horoscope you don't really know which planets are going to go direct or retrograde. You don't know which planets are in parallel. You can get an idea of these things, but you don't know which planets are separating and applying; there are lots of things like that which you don't get from the horoscope.

So people are fixated on looking at the chart, but are not getting the information to make proper judgements. Even in the natal chart.

With the Tara program you get a lot more information. You can look at the horoscope and see things like translations of light and collections of light and refranation - because it's indicated by the aspect lines. I've got five different kinds of aspect lines: a straight line is applying; a dotted line is separating; a broken line is refrenation; line-dot-line-dot is frustration; and line-dot-dot is prohibition.

I can run one of William Lilly's horoscopes through it; you can analyse it, and see all the things that he missed! But you can't blame the guy, because he's in 17th century England, with all sorts of things going on. And he didn't have a computer to spot everything for him!

But the whole idea of the program is going to take a lot of swallowing for most people.

Q: What's the response been like so far?

I've had some response, but it's slow at the moment. Because it's a brand-new idea, and there's so much conflict in horary anyway as to what works and what doesn't… Some people see it and say, 'Great! We're going to get all the rules put together, we don't have to worry about them any more!' But I think some people are not going to jump in just yet; but that's England anyhow. I all along thought this country would be difficult, because of the tradition of Lilly, and that what Lilly does is right all the time.

Q: Could you summarise the major things you've discovered through using the program, about what works and what doesn't?

The major discovery I think is to do with the rules of translation collection of light.

If there's a horoscope with two planets in no way aspecting one another, so there seems to be no influence between them; but there is an influence in operation. How that comes about is because one planet would separate from one of the planets and apply to another - in translation of light. But that's not enough. You then need to say to yourself, 'If aspects are what make planets come together, if there has to be an aspect between two planets, how come this works when there is no aspect between the two?' The old astrologers said that the planet doing the translating - the transmitting planet (like a transmitter of radio signals), that transmitting planet takes onto itself the power, the energy, the goodness of one planet to another (they talk this sort of language!). In fact, a couple of them talk like that. But hold on, are they saying that this planet - say the Moon - leaving, say, Venus - takes on the qualities and energies of Venus into its own body? So the Moon takes on a Venusian quality? And then takes on the qualities of the planet which it applies to - say, Mars? So it has three types of quality at the same time - its own, and Venus, and Mars?

Now the theory of radio signals is well-known; that we get radio signals from all the planets. Let's say that Venus is a transmitting planet (let's call the planet which actually does the translation 'the transmitting planet'). Here's the Moon transmitting Venus to Mars. Venus itself is a transmitting planet, and it is transmitting Jupiter to Saturn. So Venus is caught up in two translations of light - it's doing one of its own, and it's doing another translation as well. What I found was that they short out, and it's as if none of the aspects actually happen.

What that means is that when you do horary, you look and say 'Ah! The Moon is translating Venus to Mars, the answer is 'yes'. I was doing this, and it kept turning out that the answer should have been 'no'. It puzzled me for a long time. And I only arrived at my conclusion through thinking of electricity - you are placing too much of a load on the system, and it blows up. I'm speculating on this, but I have enough evidence to satisfy me that when a planet is involved in more than one what I call 'negative translations', the aspect will not work. And you will get 'no' answers where there should be a 'yes' answer.

So you need a thorough analysis of the whole horoscope. But you also get that with collections of light. I find that fascinating; it means that two planets do not have to be in aspect to operate; it also means that there is such a thing as 'overloading', where two planets actually could be in aspect, but they will not work; those energies will not work. This may explain a lot of things in birth charts, where you can see planets which don't mean a thing to the person. But they are aspected. It might be, I'm not saying that it is. But it makes a lot of sense to me.

Another thing is this: where you have one translation of light - the Moon with Venus and Mars; and Mercury is applying to conjunct the Venus, and is within orb; that Mercury cannot aspect the Venus because the Venus is involved in the trio with Moon and Mars. Once they are in translation, other planets cannot apply to them. They are kept out. Also, whilst they are in the trio, they cannot go out and aspect another planet.

That blew me away! I remember my hair standing on end when I discovered that. There are games being played up in the sky with three planets. They get together into a little gang, and they won't let anybody join. And they won't let anybody leave. They are locked in there until as time goes by they change, and join other gangs. Since nobody has heard that before, they may find it hard to take. But that's what I have experienced with horary work; it was the only plausible and consistent way I could find to answer the problems I found in charts.

When I started to work through all these rules, I used to get a chart, and if I made a wrong prediction I'd go back and look at it, and stick with it until I was satisfied with the answer: 'Oh, I got the wrong answer because I overlooked that'. And I went down that line until I think I finally got there.

It's interesting… let's take the Moon translating Venus to Mars. Say the Sun is trying to conjunct Venus - or Venus is applying to the Sun. That would be combustion, which is bad; but because Venus is in that translation, the Sun can't touch it. So this brings up another idea. Because the Sun is in orb for combustion - eight and a half degrees - it should destroy Venus, but it can't because Venus is tied in with this triangle. So the Sun's power is suddenly taken away because of the translation. The Sun should destroy Venus, and it can't do it. So what happens is the horary astrologer looks, sees Venus combust, and answers 'no'; but in fact it's a 'yes' answer, because of the translation. The Sun's proximity to Venus is not enough

This is the side of astrology where I'm trying to find answers; this is where I'd like people to come on board and discuss things. There's more to this than meets the eye, and I don't see anyone really investigating this. They're talking at the level of, 'I'm a Piscean, you've got Moon in Cancer' - give me a break!

In his editorial in the Astrological Journal, Adrian (Ross Duncan), who has lived in Denmark for a long time, said that over there all the astrologers are very nice to one another, but in England everybody is fighting - especially the horary people, there's blood being shed! I agree with him, but I prefer to see the fighting. At least there's creativity there. That's how you make progress. I'd sooner see some debate or argument.

Q: Do you think you would ever give up astrology in despair?

Not really. I did reach a point a few weeks ago, to be honest. But I think I have personally only just begun; because I'm just dealing with the rules of horary - those five things. What about timing? I really feel I'd like to go into that, and do a research project on how to predict the exact day. There is so much to investigate. I've spent four years working on this - and wasted probably twenty-one years of astrology before that. In America the Kepler college in California is planning a four-year degree course in astrology. Now I'm really worried about that. This will be pure astrology; it will be a first ever. But if they haven't worked out what the orbs are yet… Can you imagine, with Richard Dawkins. You'd just have to say to him, 'Look, when you are in debate with an astrologer, just ask them what orbs are; what an aspect is. Leave it at that: "You're an astrologer, you use these every day, surely you should know this?"' That would blow them away. Because there's just no consensus at all.

Garry PhillipsonGarry Phillipson has practised astrology since 1976. His other interests include Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. Astrology in the Year Zero published in 2000, resulted from Garry's study of astrology - in particular, from his investigation of the philosophy and assumptions that underpin the subject. His articles and lectures have appeared under the aegis of groups including the Astrological Association of Great Britain, the Astrological Lodge, the Company of Astrologers, the Urania Trust, the Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism, The Mountain Astrologer, and Ascella. He is currently working on a PhD about astrology and truth at the University of Wales, Trinity St. David.

Visit Garry's website at

Maurice Mcaccan passed away after a long illness, on the evening of 18 Februrary, 2011

© Garry Phillipson

Professional Astrology

Books & software by Maurice McCann

Bernadette Brady
Darby Costello
Benjamin Dykes
Bernard Eccles
Dennis Elwell
Kim Farnell
John Frawley
Dorian Greenbaum
Darrelyn Gunzburg
Robert Hand
Mike Harding
Deborah Houlding
Warren Kenton
Maurice McCann
Garry Phillipson
Christine Skinner
Shelley von Strunckel
Komilla Sutton
Robert Zoller

Plus ...

An Interview with some American Astrologers

by Deborah Houlding