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An Example of a Ship at Sea by William Lilly

The links on the right will explain any unfamiliar terms you are likely to come across in this reproduction of William Lilly's 17th century judgement concerning the safety of a ship at sea. If you want to test your own understanding of this subject, take a look at the modern reproduction of the chart before reading Lilly's judgement. Most of the important factors are featured in the Aphorisms for Travel at Sea and have been demonstrated by other charts in this series of articles. Page numbers from Christian Astrology have been included in the reproduction for ease of reference.

Page 162

Click for enlarged detailsIn December 1644, a merchant in London having sent out a ship to the coast of Spain for trade, had several times news that his ship was lost or cast away, there having been a little before very tempestuous weather, in so much that many ships were sunk and shipwrecked; he would have given 60li in the hundred for the assurance of her; but so general was the report of her loss, that none of the insurance companies would meddle, no not upon any terms. A friend of the merchant's propounds the question unto me, what I thought of the ship, if sunk or living? Whereupon I erected the figure preceding, and having well considered what was requisite in this manner of judgment, I gave my opinion. That the ship was not lost, but did live, and though of late in some danger, yet was now recovered. My judgment was grounded upon the considerations in art following.

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In the first place, the Ascendant being the 11th degree and 33. minutes of Cancer, showed the bulk or body of the ship; there doth also ascend with these degrees of Cancer three fixed stars in our horizon, wholly almost of the nature of Saturn: [1] I find Saturn casteth his square sinister out of the 11th house, but from a cardinal sign to, or very near, the cusp of the ascending degrees, thereby afflicting it: after his square aspect, I found the Moon in her exaltation, casting a sextile Sinister to the degree ascending, interposing her sextile betwixt the Ascendant and the opposition aspects of Mercury and Sun in the 7th, which otherwise had been dangerous, for all opposite aspects to the Ascendant in this Judgment are dangerous.

Page 163

From the Ascendant's affliction, both by the square of Saturn and presence of fixed stars of his like nature, I judged the ship was much of the nature of Saturn, viz. a sluggish, heavy one, and of no good speed, or very sound; and Cancer being a weakly sign, made me judge the condition, building and quality of the ship was such; [and it was so confessed.]

From hence, and for that South Node is in the 9th house, I judged the ship had been in some affliction or distress in her journey, occasioned from such casualties as are signified by Saturn, viz. had received some bruise, leak, damage in or near her breast; because Aries, the sign wherein Saturn is, represents that part, thereby afflicting it.

But in regard the Moon, who is lady of the Ascendant, is posited in the 11th house, and in her exaltation, is no manner of way impedited, but by a benevolent aspect applying to a trine of Mercury and Sun, and is by bodily presence so near unto Jupiter, and all the significators above the Earth, (a thing very considerable in this Judgment.)

Besides, I observed no infortunes in angles, which was one other good argument; for these considerations, I judged the ship was not cast away, but was living, and that the sailors and officers of the ship were lively and in good condition.

The next query was, where the ship was, upon what coast, and when any news would come of her?

Herein I considered the Moon was fixed, and locally in the 11th house; Taurus is a Southern sign, but in an East quarter of heaven, verging towards the South: her application to a trine of Mercury, and he in Capricorn, a South sign and West angle, made me judge the ship was South-west from London, and upon our own coast, or near those which lie betwixt Ireland and Wales; I judged her at that time to be in some harbour, because Taurus wherein the Moon is, is fixed, and in the 11th house, which is the house of comfort and relief; and that she was put into some harbour to mend her defects or rents: [It proved true that she was in the West, and in an harbour.]

Because the Moon applied to a trine of Mercury and Sun, and they in an angle, and was herself as well as they, very swift in motion and did want but a few minutes of their perfect trine; I judged

Page 164

... there would be news or letters, or a certain discovery of the ship in a very short time; the significators so near aspect, I said either that night, or in two days; [and so it proved]. And you must observe, that it gave me good encouragement when I saw the Part of Fortune disposed by Mars, and Mercury to whom the Moon applied to be in reception with Mars: as also, that the Moon, by so forcible an aspect, did apply to the Sun, who is lord of the 2nd house, or of substance, an argument, the merchant should increase his stock, and not lose by that adventure. You shall also observe, that Jupiter has his antiscion in the 9th of Leo, the very cusp of the 2nd house, and Mars his antiscion falls upon the very degree ascending: these were good testimonies of safety: Mars as being lord of the 11th, and dispositor of Part of Fortune; and Jupiter as lord of the 10th, viz. of trade and commerce.

Besides, usually when the Moon applies to a good aspect of a retrograde planet, it brings the matter to an end one way or another speedily, and when least suspected: and it's a general maxim in such like cases, if the Moon apply to the fortunes, or by good aspect to any planet or planets in angles, then there is reason we hope well, &c.

The Ascendant free from presence of infortunes, a good sign: lord of the Ascendant above the earth, and the Moon and their dispositors, good signs: lord of the Ascendant in 10th, 11th or 9th houses, good: lord of the Ascendant in trine or sextile with Jupiter or lord of the 11th, good.

Notes & References:

  1 ] Most probably these are Wasat (nature: Saturn), in Lilly's day at 12-Can-59, now at 18-Can-31; Canopus (nature: Saturn and Jupiter), then at 8-Can-48, now at 14-Can-58; and Sirius (although generally listed as of the nature of Jupiter and Mars), in Lilly's day at 8-Can-53, now at 14-Can-05.
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Reproduced from Christian Astrology pp.162-164

Horary Astrology