Horary astrology has a self-limiting feature that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the practice of astrology: the concept of “strictures against judgment.” There are certain conditions pertaining to a horary chart that render it “unfit for judgment;” in his 17th-Century English, William Lilly called this “decisions before judgment” and described it thus:
“All of the Ancients that have wrote of Questions, doe give warning to the Astrologer, that before he deliver judgment he will consider whether the Figure is radicall and capable of judgment.”
Any one of several chart factors that does not pass this test disqualifies the chart from being read successfully, as it isn’t considered “radical.” The subject of planetary hours and triplicities is first on the list, but I have yet to wrap my head around that one. The others can be seen directly in the chart. I will give Lilly’s text on each one and then append the modern translation by R.J. Smith that I found on Noel Tyl’s web site.
“Whether either 00. degrees or the first or second degree of a Signe ascend (especially in signes of short ascensions, viz. Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Tauruis, Gemini), you may not adventure judgment, unless the Querent be very young, and his corporature, complexion and moles or scarrs of his body agree with the quality of the Signe ascending.” (Note that in today’s world any such exploration of a young persons body would be cause for arrest on child molestation charges, so this one is conveniently overlooked in modern practice.)
“If 27, 28 or 29 degrees ascend of any Signe, it’s no wayes safe to give judgment, except the Querent be of years corresponding to the number of degrees ascending, or unless the Figure be set upon a time certaine, viz, a man went away or fled at such a time precise; here you may judge because it’s no propounded question.” (Here Lilly seems to be saying that trying to astrologically determine the precise time of occurrence for something that has already happened is acceptable, but this is another one I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere).
“It’s not safe to judge when the Moon is in the later degrees of a Signe, especially in Gemini, Scorpio or Capricorn; or as some say she is in Via Combusta, which is, when she is in the last 15 degrees of Libra, or the first fifteen degrees of Scorpio.
All manner of matters goe hardly on (except the principall significators be very strong) when the Moon is voyd of course; yet somewhat she performes if voyd of course, and be either in Taurus, Cancer, Sagittarius or Pisces.” (These exceptions seem to have escaped modern interpreters as well.)
“You must also be wary, when in any question propounded, you find the Cusp of the seventh house afflicted, or the Lord of that house Retrogade or impedited, and the matter at that time not concerning the seventh house, but belonging to any other house, it’s an argument the judgment of the Astrologer will give small content, or any thing please the Querent; for the seventh house generally hath signification of the Artist.” (He means the Astrologer here.)
“The Arabians, as Alkindus and others, do deliver these following rules, as very fit to be considered before a Question be judged.
Viz, if Saturn be in the Ascendant, especially Retrograde, the matter of that Question seldome or never comes good.
Saturn in the seventh either corrupts the judgment of the Astrologer, or is a Signe the matter propounded will come from one misfortune to another.
If the Lord of the Ascendant be Combust, neither question propounded will take, or the Querent be regulated.
The Lord of the seventh unfortunate, or in his fall, or Termes of the Infortunes, the Artist shall scarce give a solid judgment.
When the testimonies of the Fortunes and Infortunes are equal, deferre judgment, it’s not possible to know which way the Balance will turne: however, deferre your opinion till another question better informes you.” (I take the “Infortunes” to be Mars and Saturn and the “Fortunes” to be Venus and Jupiter.)
Although my personal preference is to stick with Lilly if and when I use strictures at all (horary master and pragmatist John Frawley doesn’t seem to think much of them), here is a modern version with a few of my own edits. You will notice that it misses some of Lilly’s nuances and takes on a few peculiarities of its own. Note also that I have removed all reference to the trans-Saturnian planets since I don’t use them in horary. You will find it here:
Strictures Against Judgment in Horary Astrology
3 degrees or less rising, or 27 degrees or more rising:
In the former, the question was asked much too early and is premature. In the latter, the question was asked ‘too late,’ and therefore nothing can be done about it! For example, 27 Degrees of Sagittarius rising usually means it’s a “beating a dead horse” issue.
Horary Moon is void of course:
When the radical Moon makes no applying aspects to any of the other Ptolemaic planets before leaving its present sign, then the Moon is considered void of course, and therefore nothing can be done about the matter asked. Whether the ending is favorable or not depends on the ruler of the 1st house and its aspects and condition.
Saturn in the 7th House (or Saturn in the 1st house):
In horary rules, the 7th house always rules the astrologer or person giving you advice. However, if YOU are both the querent AND the astrologer, then the 1st house applies to you, and therefore, Saturn in the 1st house can be a stricture against judgment !
Here are the risks of finding Saturn in the radical 7th house:
– The astrologer made an error in calculating the time chart and therefore, the chart has an invalid ascendant.
– The client misunderstood the question or phrased it wrong.
– The astrologer or the client is incompetent and/or biased and not fit to act. For example, say you have been generally unhappy with your astrologer’s advice; then you ask him or her to draw a horary chart for you. A stricture may appear since you have no faith in the counsel, or the astrologer has a bias against you or some other personality conflict that mars the relationship!
Moon in the Via Combusta:
The via combusta is a Latin phrase meaning ‘the fiery way.’ The ancients described it as the zone of the zodiac from 15 Degrees Libra to 15 degrees Scorpio. Whenever the radical Moon is found in this zone, the chart is either too dangerous or too unpredictable to judge.
Natal Saturn conjunct the degree on the Ascendant of the radical chart (or the astrologer’s natal Saturn conjunct the degree of the radical chart (please allow for 1 degree of orb, only).
If natal Saturn is conjunct the radical ascendant, chances are that the question that was asked is not the question you really wanted to ask ! Why? Because you were likely too afraid to ask the real question !
On the other hand, if the astrologer’s natal Saturn is conjunct the radical ascendant, then the astrologer should consider resigning as an advisor, since he or she might make a serious error in judgment or some other major blunder.
If the degree rising in the radical chart is conjunct (by an orb of one degree or less) one of your natal planets that rules the matter you asked about, then the question is exalted in importance and the horary chart becomes more important or dignified as a result.
For example, say you ask a personal love relationship question and the radical chart contains 28 degrees of Taurus rising, normally an invalid ascendant. But suppose you also have 28 degrees of natal Venus in Taurus. Then, the ascendant becomes not only valid, but is VERY important and the outcome is turned in the client’s favor, since Venus ‘rules’ relationships.
Who is eligible to ask a horary question:
ONLY a querent who has a direct stake in the question asked is eligible to ask the question !
No third-party questioners are allowed !
For example, Will the Vancouver Canucks win the Stanley Cup this year ?
Will the New York Yankees win the 2011 World Series, this year ?
Who is eligible to ask sports horary questions:
– Players for that team, management, coaches, employees of the team.
Who is NOT eligible to ask:
– Fans, journalists, bookmakers and gamblers, astrologers and other third-parties.
Who MAY be eligible to ask:
– Relatives, spouses, family members or personal friends of the players. management or coaching staff !
Everyone else has to butt out, as it’s none of their business !
Also, people sometimes ask whimsical, curiosity-type questions: such as: “Will I win the lottery?”, “Will I become famous?”, etc, that are beyond the purview of horary rules, and therefore a study of the natal chart is a much better place to go to answer such speculative questions.