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Derek Appleby & Horary Astrology
By Maggie Hyde

On the occasion of the republication of Derek Appleby's book, Horary Astrology, his colleague Maggie Hyde at the Company of Astrologers in London gives us some insights into the life and work of this English astrologer who, in the 1970s, was largely responsible for the revival of horary astrology in the UK.

After muddling along to teach myself astrology in the backwoods with the help of a book and a friend, Derek Appleby was the first 'real' astrologer I met, sometime around 1976. He was by then teaching an advanced horary class in an Adult Education institute in London, having been turned on to horary some years earlier by his first attempt at a horary chart. Someone had mislaid a ring, and when Derek saw Libra rising in the chart, he suggested it might have been left in the kitchen scales when she was baking. Simple, but true, and from then on, horary fascinated and absorbed him.

So with Derek as a guide, I was plunged into horary charts before I could stumble through a nativity. He was the person to whom I put that question which all earnest beginners ask: "Which house system should I use?" During the ensuing years, Derek's astrology inspired a group of colleagues in both adult education and at the Astrological Lodge of London. Always with Derek, there were heated debates around charts - under street lamps when the pubs had shut, on the front doorsteps of the Theosophical Society where we would gather for a smoke in the Lodge tea-breaks, by the riverside on Lilly Day, or later, at the Company rooms in Queen Square, Bloomsbury. In the early days, Derek's practical astrology was championed by Geoffrey Cornelius, and between them, they were responsible for the revival of horary in the UK. The spirit of their work was exciting, questioning and pioneering, and in 1983, it was central to the formation of The Company of Astrologers.

Derek's involvement with the Company went through several phases. Sometimes he was never away from the place, at other times he was off, doing his own thing elsewhere, befitting his Aquarian nature with Gemini rising. In the last few years of his life, he was running an active programme of classes and was beloved by dozens of students. He rectified everyone he came into contact with, turning Leos into Cancerians, Scorpios into Sagittarians, spending days on charts for students as he experimented with the pre-natal epoch. His sudden death, coinciding with the ingress of Pluto into Sagittarius, occurred with solar eclipses falling on the Company's Saturn at 9 Scorpio in the 4th house.[1] It was the darkest moment in the Company's history, the loss of a father figure.

All of Derek's astrological work, natal as well as horary, was written up. He preferred to give written judgments, and in an almost Victorian manner, he was a great letter writer, corresponding on astrology with students and friends around the world. Sometimes he wrote volumes on a chart, other times a few brief words would sum up his judgment. He was thorough and disciplined, and his real gift lay in his ability to cut through the multiple possible interpretations of any one symbol, and to go definitively and clearly for one particular line of interpretation. He was prepared to be wrong, and he always expressed surprise and delight when his judgment was right.

Derek was infuriatingly averse to self-promotion and believed that if he just did his own stuff with integrity, whatever was meant to be would be. In this media age, such an approach meant that he was less recognised amongst astrologers outside of the UK, although he had considerable influence in Russia, Denmark and Ireland, where he directly influenced many traditional astrologers. He particularly loved being with Irish astrologers at their annual conference. He commented once that he had enjoyed himself more than ever at the Saturday night highlight of one Dublin conference - a wine and cheese party, to which someone had forgotten to bring the cheese!

Derek was a true Aquarian and a pure spirit. For many of us inspired by him, he was and will continue to be the astrologer's astrologer, and I hope that with David Roell's new edition of Horary Astrology, new generations of astrologers will come to see and be inspired by Derek's work.

Blue Judge

The following example illustrates some of the nuances of the spirit of Derek's astrology, which I would otherwise find difficult to describe.

As well as his expertise in horary, he was fond of mundane astrology and contest charts, and one morning, I received in the post from Derek a horoscope for the Derby, taking place that afternoon at Epsom race course. He had simply sent a computer print-out with the name of the horse he thought would win written on the bottom - 'BLUE JUDGE? - LOVE DEREK.' I hadn't planned to do astrology for this race and I was very busy that day. I couldn't get hold of Derek by phone to discuss the chart, but on a quick look, I could see why he had gone for Blue Judge. Legal Jupiter rising in Libra, sign of justice, as well as Saturn, lord of the 5th of gambling, in the 5th, both suggest a judge. Perhaps he got the 'blue' from the strong sexual theme in the chart: Moon Scorpio, applying square Mars, lord of the 8th, disposing a naughty Venus on the 8th cusp. It was certainly worth a bet, and I called a few friends and left messages for them to put money on Blue Judge, too. It was only when I got in the betting shop and placed my each-way bets that I discovered Blue Judge was 150-1. Fat chance![2]

Blue Judge didn't win, but it was placed, and my fiver each way produced £192.50. In addition, due to a silly secretarial mix-up, a friend had received a confusing message to bet on Blue Judge. She assumed I wanted her to put money on for me as well as for her. Eventually, I ended up with £269.50 for a £16 stake.

Yet the point of this story is not simply that Derek's craft of astrology was canny enough to pick good outsiders in horse-races. As always with Derek, as with any good astrologer, there is something else far more spirited going on. Only the context in which the chart arose reveals this.

On the morning I received the chart, in the same post I received an airline ticket for a flight to Moscow. Derek and I had been invited to lecture at a conference organised by the League of Independent Astrologers. He had very much wanted to attend and for various reasons he couldn't do so. But what is the connection between this and Blue Judge? Simply this. The cost of the Moscow flight was £270 - only 50p more than my winnings from Blue Judge. If you don't have a symbolic attitude, this won't mean much, but to me, it suggested that Derek, who couldn't get to Moscow himself, was helping me out with the cost of the air-fare. This was confirmed because Derek was indirectly associated with the 50p short-fall. He himself had not profited much from his astrological acumen because he had only bet 50p on the horse! In a chart with Jupiter rising, we could expect astrology to lark around. In Libra, Jupiter might let you win for someone else, but not for yourself if you are the Venus in Aries, ruler of the Ascendant, on the 8th cusp.

This may seem an odd case to select from Derek's work but I believe the Blue Judge chart has a signature quality about it, in relation to the spirit of astrology. The Sun is in Gemini in the 9th house of astrology, conjunct Derek's own Ascendant (01'arc).[3] In addition, Mars of the race is opposite Derek's natal Sun (01' arc). These are incredibly tight contacts, almost partile, with two of the most important points in a nativity, Sun and Ascendant. Moreover, the Moon of the race is closely conjunct Derek's Mars, so that the Blue Judge chart brings out his natal Sun-Mars square. Although Derek always referred to the trouble this square brought him in life, his Mars serves as the outlet for a natal Saturn-Neptune opposition, with Saturn lord of his 9th of astrology. This opposition is like the confusing, multiple nature of symbolism (Neptune), and the struggle to create order and a judgment from it (Saturn). It was Derek's great gift as an astrologer that he could cut across such confusion and simply go for one particular line, like the ability of the dignified Mars, trine Saturn, to decide, assert and judge.

So there is something in the Blue Judge chart about Derek's fine ability to judge a chart, and about his particular astrological magic. He was not doing the chart of the Derby to win himself a few bob on the horses. He was doing it, like he did all his astrology, in some other uncanny spirit of astrology itself.

Derek did get to Moscow the following year but there is another joke in this chart. After the race, filing the chart away, I noticed that there was a mistake in the GST/GMT correction. Derek had been playing around with a new computer programme and he had not realised it automatically made a time change correction. The chart is an hour out. When he was told that it was a wrong chart, he chuckled. "Oh is it?", he said.

Notes & References:
  1 ] Company of Astrologers, 9.29pm GMT, 14 November 1983, Queen Square, London
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  2 ] The Derby, 2.45pm GMD, 2 June 1993, Epsom, England.
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  3 ] Derek Appleby, 11.49am GMT, 7 February 1937, Paignton, England. (Time from Derek. Several other times have appeared. See Astrology Quarterly, Vol 65/2, Spring 1995).
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Horary Astrology by Derek Appleby is republished by Astrology Classics price $23.95. Follow this link for full details.