Astrology and Horoscopes

Horary Astrology

A look at horary astrology, a branch of astrology perfected by William Lilly and how this compares with natal astrology.

Nowadays, astrologers might focus more on the drives, motivations and psychological impulses signified by the planets. But how did the late medieval astrologers proceed when this was long before all these psychological terms were available?

Without doubt the combination of astrology with various psychological doctrines has given the modern day astrologer an invaluable range of tools with which to approach personal experience.

But astrology is not restricted to the view that the planets can reveal insight into the psychology of a person. To view it in such an exclusive way would be ignoring what a good deal of astrology is about. Astrology has been described as “the psychological system of the ancients” but this is not the whole story. It should not be forgotten that astrology is not the study of individuals, nor the stars, but the study, too, of time.

What is Horary Astrology?

Horary astrology is the branch of astrology that deals with answering specific questions by studying a chart drawn up for the exact time and place the question was asked.

The astrological practice of answering specific questions is called horary astrology, an ancient and still very popular branch of astrology. In horary astrology, an individual asks for answers to a specific question.

The astrologer will draw up a chart by using the time of birth of the question rather than the birth of a person. By judging the strength, position and aspects of the planets at the time the question is asked he can give a reading and accurately judge the corresponding events here on earth.

This astrological system was perfected by the 17th century astrologer William Lilly. Lilly flourished in England in the 17th century, a period which saw astrology reach its zenith in France (with the physician and mathematician Jean Baptiste Morin de Villefrance) and in Italy (with Placidus de Tito).

After these three contemporary giants, the light of astrology was mysteriously all but extinguished in Europe until its rebirth in psychology in the twentieth century.

Horary Astrology

To make a judgement, many formulas and factors (some laid down by Claudius Ptolemy 2nd Century AD, others by William Lilly (1616-1654) are taken into account. Some questions cannot be answered for various reasons, others are more clear.

Questions such as: ‘Will I get the job’; ‘Will we sell our house’, ‘Will we buy this new house’; ‘Will I pass my exams’; ‘Will I be elected’ ‘Will I buy/open new business’ (example No. 1).these questions and other’s typical can be answered yes or no.

Horary charts have been used for many centuries to locate lost items such as: ‘Where is my Ring’; ‘Where is my Tape/Papers’; ‘Where is my Brother/Sister’ (example No.2). and are used to locate items or people, if they are to be found.

Horary Astrology can be useful with meaningful questions, where a judgement is required. In the case of `Where is my life going to’ or `Will I be successful’ type questions, they unfortunately cannot be answered, resting in the hands of each and every individual – not in the stars.

Because astrology’s been around for thousands of years, the questions people ask have usually been asked before, in one form or another, many times and of many astrologers.

Most people go to an astrologer with a problem. Many problems are emotional: “Should I stay with him?” or “Is she right for me”, or “How can I cope now that she’s left?”

But people also bring practical problems to an astrologer: “Is this a good time to put my house on the market?” or “Should I buy a new car this month?” or “Will I get the job?”

Almost any serious question can be answered in a horary astrology reading.

William Lilly and Horary Astrology

Lilly published yearly almanacs and offered his readership concrete predictions, sometimes off target but often uncannily accurate. He, for instance, predicted the fire of London which led to his being hauled up before a committee of Parliament on suspicion of being implicated in arson.

Lilly would answer questions made of astrology with absolute directness as were the regulations he suggested for this practice.

For instance, in reply to a question of what profession someone is capable of, Lilly wrote “If he be in Aries, consider the four angles, and whether you find a Planet in either of them, and if that Planet be in a fiery Signe, or of the nature of Aries, you may say, the Boy will prove a good Cart-maker, Coach-maker, Shepheard, Grasier or Drover to deale in Cattle, a good Groom, or Master of Horse, or Farrier, succesfull to deale in four-footed Beasts, or a good Butcher, Brick-maker, Smith, &c.”

There are also stipulations which apply to horary astrology which specify for example whether the inquirer has the right to an answer and whether an answer is possible or not.

Horary System of Divination

Properly understood horary is a system of divination with incredible complexity. It is capable of providing an extremely detailed analysis of the potentials of the moment in question. Lily’s work considers only the seven visible planets. He died in 1681 exactly one hundred years before Herschel discovered Pluto.

Could this be a clue to the function of horary astrology, that its use is for matters of plain fact and not for theoretical or ideological questions?

There is also the important matter of timing in horary astrology. Lilly took the moment when the matter became known to him, obviously he could not take the moment of the action. The relevance of the question seems also to be important, just as the I Ching will not respond to the trivial questioner, horary astrology must also be approached with respect.


Chart question was: “Should I open a shop?”

Late Capricorn Rising would create a cautious approach, and as to whether this question was too late in the asking. The querent (someone who asks the question) has Natal Capricorn Rising, close to the same point, so the question could be answered.

Saturn in the 2nd, connected favourably to Venus (6th) and Jupiter 10th showed the financial potential of this business. Saturn was also in square to Sun in 5th (Querent in Leo Sun) showing some conflict between the environment and the will.

Jupiter, most elevated planet in chart, was retrograde, changing direction 1 month later and re-activating helpful influences. Delay at least to this time would be adviseable.With some caution and to be wary of underhand financial deals or contractual delays , it was suggested beginning this in 1 month, after these problems were resolved.

This business did open and was successful, but the owner was plagued by lease delays, leading eventually to legal action. The overall conflict between Saturn/Sun showing how difficult it was for this business to succeed without obstruction from officialdom in some way and the need to have all relevant papers signed before any new enterprise begins.


Chart question was ‘Where is my Brother-in-law? after he had not picked up child from a daycare centre one Monday afternoon.

With early Taurus rising and Venus conj Pluto in 7th, it was obvious he was not going to turn up quickly – in fact the question was posed too early.

The chart shows 9 planets from 7-10th houses and only Moon travelling on her own in the 2nd house of Gemini. The Moon, a major player in interpretation of Horary Charts was tied in – probably indicating the decision was made quickly under emotional stress. Also that the question was posed under this same reactive Moon in Gemini.

My interpretation of the chart was that he was alive and travelling elsewhere and did not want to communicate. It was also felt he was going over a long distance and would not communicate for 4 days, more likely late Thursday to early Friday morning.

He was in fact travelling for 3 days by train and contacted his Mother about on Thursday (with the Moon now in Cancer). His decision had been emotionally based (child support – Taurus Ascendant).


Davenpo Adams, W H. The English Magicians: Roger Bacon, Dr John Dee and William Lilly. 2005

Lilly W. Christian Astrology London 1647.

See also: The Horary Moon As Ruler

Last updated on April 21, 2017 at 12:23 am. Word Count: 1387