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A Life & Death Issue
Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's Judgement
Re-reading the Chart: Significators & Radicality
The Heart of the Matter
Craft Language
Notes & Refs
About the Author

The best of horary practice reflects this katarchic approach, trying to find the line of good fortune in whatever situation is enquired about. Where death is unequivocally shown, the astrologer may serve the client best by affirming this truth, rather than turning away from it.

Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's Sick Boy Horary by Maggie Hyde

Maggie Hyde is a founding member of the Company of Astrologers and a tutor for its Katarche correspondence course in horary astrology. She also teaches the Company's Horary Diploma Class in Hampstead. In this article, first published in the AA's Journal in 1995, Maggie takes a deeper look at the symbolism embedded in one of Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's classic horaries, and calls for modern practitioners to enter into a spirit of constructive criticism when evaluating each others' methods.

Flicking through a recent batch of books for review, I was once again struck by the way in which so many modern authors feel the need to re-invent the wheel. The work of twentieth century astrologers - Leo, Carter, Ebertin, Addey, Greene, Rudhyar, Hand et al vanishes to nothing as yet another writer explains what Virgo really means, or how Venus-Pluto conjunctions work, without any reference to the ideas of others. In most subjects, individuals could not strut their stuff with such flagrant denial of their contemporaries and still expect to be taken seriously.

Against this lack of scholarship, Project Hindsight and ARHAT may be seen as a collective compensatory process, allowing us to acknowledge the ultimate origins of our tradition. Yet at the same time as we are looking backwards, perhaps we might also begin to peek sideways at each other. I am really asking for a spirit of criticism, in the best sense of this word. Unless we are prepared to discuss each others' interpretations and question different approaches, our astrology levels down to an uncritical, all-is-one mediocrity.

Horary astrology may show the most immediate benefits from discussion. Despite the volume of horary productions in recent times, a fully radical, well-delineated horary chart is a rare bird in our literature. Occasionally one or two exceptional horaries do arise, and the case taken up here is an outstanding example, raising major issues of prediction and the katarche.

A Life & Death Issue

Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's 'Sick Boy' horary is found in her book, Simplified Horary Astrology, [1] an informative work, full of lively symbolism. It also teems with example charts, although whatever the success of her actual judgments, many of the charts are of middling to doubtful radicality. The 'sick boy' horary is, arguably, the strongest example in the collection.

A mother asked, "Can I save my sick boy?". The child is ill with leukemia and the mother alternates with a nurse in caring for the boy. By the time of the question she has exhausted her finances on him. As Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson comments, as put, the question is concerned with what the querent can do, but it "also carries the thought 'Can my sick boy be saved?' In other words, will the child live or die?". [2]

Many astrologers may back out at this point, as the question raises the most potent ethical concerns, [3] but I will leave this problem until later.

Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's Judgement

The chart is disturbing because of its unequivocal nature. However hard one searches, like the mother, the astrologer can find no saving graces. Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson takes Venus as the mother, in mutual reception with Mercury, lord of the 6th, the nurse. The Moon, besieged and going to Saturn, cannot save the boy. With her customary Aries brevity and short, sharp, sound-bite astrology (natal Mars in Gemini mutually receiving Mercury in Aries), she judges:

The ruler of the child-5th, the Sun, in his fall by Sign and almost exactly conjunct Neptune ruler of his death-8th, has little time left. 17 days later he died … of leukaemia.[4]

She also refers to the Part of Death in conjunction with the Sun which "proves he cannot live". [5] She does not linger on the symbolism, nor does she mention several significant horary factors in the chart; nor does she give us any sense of how she conveyed her judgment to the mother.

Re-reading the Chart: Significators & Radicality

I would like to go further into the symbolism of the map in order to encourage discourse about the horary method and some of its implications. As the querent, the mother is signified by Venus in Virgo in the 5th, a highly radical placing for a woman concerned with her child (5th). Venus is in fall in Virgo, suggesting that the mother is herself worried sick. As Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson points out, Venus in mutual reception with Mercury in Libra in the 6th is the mother alternating with the nurse to care for him (Mercury, lord of 6th, is the nurse). Mercury also rules the 2nd, the finances which she has spent trying to save him. The Moon in Cancer is dignified in her own sign. As well as being a co-significator for the child, which is Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's approach, I believe she is also a co-significator for the mother and the whole situation, and I will discuss the Moon's condition shortly.

The boy is the Sun, lord of the 5th, also shown in fall in Libra, weakened by the Sun's interception in the 6th, a natural house of sickness.[6] His condition is further described by considering the significators for his health and possible death. Using derived houses, his health is shown as the 6th from the 5th, giving us the 10th house of the chart which has Capricorn on the cusp, so Saturn is the significator for his health. Saturn is detrimented in Cancer, near the IC. The greater malefic, the enemy of life, badly placed by sign, on an angle, shows the chronic and potentially terminal condition of the boy's health.

The child's house of death is the 8th from the 5th, and this brings us to the 12th of the chart, with Pisces on its cusp. The significators of his death are therefore Jupiter and Neptune, lords of this house. They sit together in a conjunction in Libra, intercepted in the 6th, next to the Sun, the child. All of these significators aptly describe testimonies to the radicality of the chart.


In the context of the stated question, a perfection would mean that the mother may be able to save the boy. The significators of the mother (Venus) and the boy (Sun) are in an applying semi-sextile. This is not a major aspect and not powerful enough to bring perfection. Similarly, there is no perfection involving Mercury with the significators, suggesting that no further expenditure or use of the nurse will help.

The Moon cannot help either. She is dignified in Cancer and to the extent that she is a co-significator for the mother, she cannot perfect anything with the Sun, the significator for the boy. She separates from a fallen Mars, and looking in the aspectarian, we find that this prior Moon-Mars aspect was in fact an occultation,[7] with the Moon having passed over the body of Mars. Terrible Mars is the universal 'slayer', the bringer of death, and he is connected in particular here with the boy's 8th house through the interception of Aries in that house. The mother's terror is that she knows the boy is at death's door. Separating from this occultation, the Moon applies to the detrimented Saturn, the child's chronic health. If we read Saturn and the Moon in Cancer as universals, then the Moon going to Saturn on the IC, the natural angle of the grave, indicates the mother's sorrow.

What is happening to the Sun, significator for the boy? The immediate applying aspect of the Sun is to the conjunction of Neptune, followed by a conjunction with Jupiter. Yet the saviour planet (Neptune) gives false (Neptune) hope (Jupiter) because together, these planets rule the 8th house of the child's death. The fallen Sun is too weak to counter them and as it applies to them, the child moves towards death. Thus Sun to Neptune, Moon to Saturn, are the perfections in the implicit question in this chart. They suggest that the child will die and the mother will grieve.


Are there any further testimonies in the chart to support this judgment? In a broad sense, with nothing above the horizon, Saturn pinning the IC, and a fallen, intercepted Sun, this is a dark map. Yet the most striking testimony is the Moon's condition. Although she is the dispositor of both Mars and Saturn in her own sign, she is besieged by them, on a critical degree.[8] I have not seen such a powerful showing of besiegement as this. A dignified Moon in maternal Cancer, hemmed in by debilitated malefics, describes this desperate mother, caught in her anguish (Mars) and fear (Saturn). Reading these as universals, her question touches us at an archetypal level, the cry of all mothers, everywhere. We can also read the Moon's besiegement as the boy's hopeless condition. Following Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's line, the Moon-Mars occultation may be read as the child's leukemia; Mars damaging the Moon by its bodily contact, and the Moon-Mars in Cancer as an image for destructive white blood cells.

Yet like the Moon moving to Saturn in Cancer near the end-of-the-matter fourth, the chart leaves us with a depressing mood. Do we really trust astrology to show us such things, so totally?

The Heart of the Matter

There is one factor in the chart which makes a difference and allows this astrology to be something more than a 'fated' showing. This involves the mutual reception of Venus and Mercury. Given the inability of the mother to save the child, how can the chart guide us? To answer this, we must make use of one of the most abiding contributions to horary technique developed by Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson: mutual reception by degree. This is the method whereby when planets in reception move to the sign of their dignity, they keep the same degree. [9] It is curious that she does not note this here, and her possible reasons for not doing so I will discuss shortly. However, if we do make the reception of Venus and Mercury by degree, Venus moves to 5 Libra 25. This puts Venus (the mother) conjunct the Sun (the boy) and offers the apparent promise of perfection. The applying semi-sextile of Venus to the Sun is turned into an applying conjunction. Furthermore, the closeness of this conjunction places Venus cazimi because she is then within 17' arc of the Sun. This symbolizes the mother's desire at the centre of her question. She wishes to put herself cazimi with the child, to move to the heart of the Sun, and through her love (Venus), tip the scales in his favour as his life (Sun) hangs in the balance (Libra).

Can she succeed? No. The apparent perfection of Venus and the Sun is not possible. If we look in the aspectarian for the time of the Venus-Sun semi-sextile (received conjunction), we find that it is made at 10:47 pm GMT on 29 September. This is several hours after the Sun has made the conjunction with Neptune at 5:01 pm. Such a movement is called abscission, the 'cutting off of light'. What it means is that the Sun (the boy) gets to Neptune, lord of his 8th (death), which therefore cuts him off before Venus (the mother) can reach him by making the semi-sextile (received conjunction) with the Sun. The Sun slips to Neptune and her son slips away.


Amidst this tragic situation, the chart does leave us with an image of some positive conduct. There is no perfection but there is a better place the mother can be in with respect to the child. What does she have to do to effect the mutual reception and become cazimi? The reception with Mercury shows the money and the nurse, but in the present situation, neither money nor nurse will help her. As the boy's death approaches, she must herself function as Hermes, guiding her son's soul to Hades. She can stop trying to save him and instead, simply be with him. Venus disposes all the Libran planets - the boy and his death - and by being totally with him, the mother eases his passage out of life. The symbolism is directing her to ensure that she is literally with him as his death approaches, guided by the timing implicit in the Sun's conjunction with Neptune. This is applying by half a degree, cardinal and cadent, a timing of half a month, and the boy dies 17 days later.

Today, coming at the chart from a more psychologised age, we can see that the chart is as much about the psychology of grief as it is about a death prediction. The symbolism of the chart shows us that the mother's desire to save her boy from leukemia is, sadly, unrealistic. But her attitude, and how she can deal with her loss, are an equal part of the chart's showing.

The best of horary practice reflects this katarchic approach, trying to find the line of good fortune in whatever situation is enquired about. Where death is unequivocally shown, the astrologer may serve the client best by affirming this truth, rather than turning away from it. Even in death, astrology can reveal a katarchic possibility which allows the querent to take initiative and bring about the best possible resolution.[10] In this move, judgment and prediction find their ethical foundation. As Geoffrey Cornelius says of Lilly's death prediction for a sick priest:

Neither does this ethic of astrology mean not talking about death, because death at the right time and well accepted is not a misfortune but the last act in the fortune of life… The man is already dying, and the sign of that truth is already appearing in the symbolism. [11]

The death of a young child is a terrible misfortune, but even in such misfortune there is a true way of moving for the mother, in the last act that she can make for her boy.

Returning to Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's judgment, we see that by limiting herself to reading the chart for the objective truth of the boy's death, she does not bring out the positive move for the mother. This is why she does not make use of mutual reception by degree, a katarchic possibility which demands that the querent takes an initiative or acts in the world along the lines of its symbolism.

Craft Language

I would now like to conclude by considering some of the technicalities involved in this horary, and the importance of the astrologer's ability to craft a chart. There is a rare radicality in its symbolism and without this, a question of such seriousness could not safely be judged. Consider again the remarkable showing of both key significators as fallen (Venus and the Sun), and the power of the debilitated malefics. Consider also the exact relevance of the many craft details - perfection, mutual reception, besiegement, occultation, abscission, cazimi. To treat these planetary conditions and movements as simply technical concerns would be to merely "quack a few tearmes".[12] They are part of our craft language of astrology and like the craft language of alchemy, they have an emotive, archetypal power. I have discussed this theme more extensively in a previous article on horary.[13]

The horary vocabulary and its various rules describe the movements of the psyche, and it is because they do so that the meaning of the situation enquired about is found within the terminology used to describe it. The Moon and Mars in occultation, darkened and damaged. Both mother and child are besieged by debilitated malefics, under duress and unable to move. The mother wishes to become cazimi - in the heart of the Sun - she was empowered with the life-giving force, and yet she must suffer abscission, the light cut off from her with her impending loss.

The co-dependency of 3rd and 9th houses, language and meaning, the blend of 6th and 5th houses, craft and creativity, is essential to good practice. As we craft the horoscope, it is through the vocabulary of our own time and place that we engage the symbolic and create meaning. We draw upon a tradition that comes from the 'ancients', but only with insight can hindsight be meaningful.


Note: Order of aspects concerning significators:
From Raphael's ephemeris for 1945, times in GMT

Notes & References:

  1] Ivy M. Goldstein-Jacobson, Simplified Horary Astrology (1960, Pasadena Lithographers, Pasadena, California).
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  2] Ibid., page 171.
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  3] This horary contains several ingredients to set the Association of Professional Astrologers flapping. It concerns a health matter and an astrologer who sees death in the chart. The APA code of ethics (section e) states that its members shall:
" … refrain from offering any medical, legal or financial advice to a client on astrological grounds unless the appropriate skills or qualifications have been obtained."
Knocking out the 2nd and 8th, 6th and 9th houses leaves us with an eight-house horoscope. I have always been an ardent supporter of high standards in astrology, but we cannot police our profession with a code of ethics which isn't rooted in the realities of our practice. For a discussion on what constitutes an ethical astrology, see Geoffrey Cornelius, The Moment of Astrology, p.294 on the ethical symbol, (Arkana 1994). [Recently revised and republished by the Wessex Astrologer - p.305].
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  4] Simplified Horary Astrology, ibid., page 170.

[View image of Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's original judgement]
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  5] The Part of Death, calculated by Ascendant plus 8th house cusp, minus the Moon.
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  6] In a very radical chart, the houses work not only in a particular way, but they also work as universals. Here the Sun, signifying the child, is in the sixth house of health. From the mother's point of view, this is her nursing her sick child, but the sixth is a universal or natural house of health. Similarly with Saturn on the IC, the natural angle of the grave.
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  7] Occultation: Moon and Mars form a bodily conjunction, coming together in the same latitude as well as the same zodiacal longitude.
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  8] 'Critical degrees' are based on the Moon's average daily motion through the signs, counted from 0 Aries, and they symbolise a crisis point. They are:
Cardinal: 0, 13, 26.
Fixed: 9, 21.
Mutable: 4, 17.
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  9] For further discussion on mutual reception by degree, and an analysis of Ivy Goldstein Jacobson's horoscope, see Vernon Wells' article in Bulletin No.5. Company of Astrologers. This chart may even be re-taken as a partial signature for her ability to nudge the tradition along through introducing this technique. As Venus receives Mercury, god of language, lord of the 6th of techniques, a new concept enters our technical vocabulary. Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson's work is also valuable because she kept the horary flame burning during the early twentieth century which was, on the whole, somewhat hostile to horary.
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  10] Lilly's frontispiece to Christian Astrology proclaims that his work will teach how to judge and resolve all manner of questions. I have discussed the difference between judgment and resolution in my article 'Psychological Horary' (AA Journal, 35:6). See also Geoffrey Cornelius on 'Horary Revived' in The Moment of Astrology, ibid., Arkana p.173 and p.297; Wessex p.161.
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  11] The Moment of Astrology, ibid., Arkana page 298; Wessex, p.308
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  12] Ashmole, Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum, (London 1652). pages 453-4; [online reproduction]. See also Appendix 5, The Moment of Astrology, ibid.
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  13] 'Psychological Horary', Maggie Hyde, (AA Journal, 35:6)
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Maggie HydeMaggie Hyde read English at the University of Ulster and is currently completing an MA in the Study of Mysticism and Religious Experience at the University of Kent, Canterbury. In 1984, she co-founded the Company of Astrologers, a London based teaching body, and acted as its director from 1984 to 1999.

Her consultancy work led to an interest in psychoanalytic thought. She has been influenced mainly by the existential psychology of the Philadelphia Association and became an associate member in 1999. Her interest in Jung culminated in the publication of two books on Jung: Jung and Astrology, where she explores his work on synchronicity and Jung For Beginners, which has been published in 10 languages. In addition, she has written astrology books for beginners and children.

Maggie is well known for writing astrology columns for the media and has been the astrologer for Cosmopolitan, The Media Guardian and the business section of the Sunday Observer, specialising in business astrology and property. She is currently the astrologer for Woman's Own and, and continues to run a London based consultancy.


© Maggie Hyde. First published in The Astrological Journal of the Astrological Association, Jan/Feb 1995; Vol.37, No.1, pp.39-41. Published online July 2005

Horary Astrology
Company of Astrologers
Maggie Hyde
Maggie Hyde is a founder and one time Director of the Company of Astrologers.
The Company of Astrologers was founded in 1983 and promotes the practice of traditional astrology as a way of insight and self-knowledge. It offers a full program from beginners to professional level, including a horary course which incorporates studies in psychological horary.

For details of horary courses and classes visit the Company website.

By Maggie Hyde