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Astrology by Hand Week 9

Back to Horary

This week, I am resuming the track that I interrupted for the last two weeks in order to answer some issues raised in letters.

When we left my discussion of horary three weeks ago, I was describing how the doctrine of applying and separating aspects in both horary and natal astrology puts a serious strain on modern notions of causality. How can a separating aspect in a chart indicate something that happened before the date of the chart if the chart is a “cause” of the outcome of the question in any modern sense?

There is another problem raised by this. Sometimes the separating aspects do not describe the past circumstances of the question. What does it mean when this is the case? That is, what does it mean for the question and its outcome? It is one indication, among several other possible such indications, that the chart is not going to answer the question! If the separating aspects do not describe the question very well, then the applying ones probably are not going to describe the future very well.

Also, the void-of-course Moon is another indication that the chart may not answer the question. And there are others.

The Mind of the Questioner

Now why should a chart not answer a question? The usual explanation is that the question is not fully formed in the mind of the one asking the question, or that the intention of the one asking the question is not sufficiently serious. And there are other possible explanations. However, what they all boil down to is that the mind of the person asking the question has a strong effect on the chart’s ability to answer it. Notice that the mind affects the chart in this case more than the chart affects the mind! The following passage is from Guido Bonatti, a thirteenth century astrologer. In it, he describes just how important it is that the person asking the question be serious and have deep concern for the outcome of the question.

“…it is necessary that he [the one asking the question] observe this manner of asking; namely, that he ought to pray earnestly to the Lord God from whom every good draws a beginning, and that with all devotion and a contrite spirit he entreats that the Lord God grant to him that he may attain knowledge of the truth of those matters concerning which he intends to inquire.”

The Chart as a Statement of Intention

The chart is really a declaration of the state of mind, more often the unconscious mind, of the person asking the question. The chart is a statement made in a highly symbolic language (that of astrological symbols) of the intention of the one asking the question, whether or not he or she is aware of the state of that intention. The chart is descriptive, not causal!

So if we have a statement of intention, in fact a declaration of the state of a soul, what is actually happening here? Why is there is a close correlation between the state of a soul, the ability of a chart to answer a question and the actual outcome of the question?

We could explain it by taking refuge in extreme astral determinism. This is the astrological equivalent of the determinism of classical physics mentioned some weeks ago. In astral determinism, everything that happens, every thought, every event, is the result of stellar influence. This involves the notorious denial of free will that astrology is always accused of. The problem is that very few astrologers have ever believed in it outside of some stoic philosophers of the Hellenistic and Roman times (roughly 300 BC to 100 AD).

I don’t think that we should believe in it, and I am not saying this out of some philosophical version of political correctness. I say it for a much simpler reason. It is not observably true! There is no astrological system that has ever been able to predict perfectly or even close. I have heard claims made for various systems of astrology, Hindu (also known as Vedic), Medieval, Uranian, etc. But no one has been able to demonstrate the validity of these claims either from modern or historical examples. (Yes, I know about the nadi leaves of India, etc., but these are still a rumor as far as I am concerned. And besides, most of the Hindu astrologers I have spoken with, including those from India, also do not believe in astral determinism.)

Next week I will give what I think is the main cause of error in astrology.


For those who are not familiar with the concept of the void-of-course Moon here is a simple definition: When the Moon is traveling through a sign and has made all of the aspects that it is going to make until it enters the next sign, it is called void-of-course. The aspects that may be “counted” when figuring a void are the conjunction, sextile, square, trine and opposition. There is debate about parallels and contra-parallels of declination. Otherwise, no other aspects may be used in considering the void-ness of the Moon. In any case, a void Moon is an indication that the chart is not going to answer the question.

Nadi leaves are used by some Hindu astrologers to predict the life events of the client. The pre-written leaves are selected without calculation of the birth chart and are reputed to provide highly accurate forecasts.



Rob Hand, author of Planets in Transit and other works, is now involved in the translation and publication of texts regarding ancient and medieval astrology through ARHAT Media Inc.
View the entire Astrology by Hand Library.

Visit the author's website.

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For more information about Rob Hand, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Rob Hand:

  • Astrology by Hand 13   7/3/2003
  • Astrology by Hand 1   4/10/2003
  • Astrology by Hand 14   8/11/2001
  • Astrology by Hand 13   8/4/2001
  • Astrology by Hand 11   7/21/2001
  • Astrology by Hand 46   5/5/2001

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