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Home » astrological techniques and concepts

An Example of a Horary Astrology Question

Posted by on October 3, 2008 at 4:42 am25 Comments

Horary astrologyLast week I went to Sedona, Arizona in order to speak at the Blast astrology conference.  The conference itself was great.  It was divided up so that each day was a focused on a different astrological tradition (i.e. Hellenistic, Indian, Medieval, Modern, etc.).  I gave three lectures on the Hellenistic track on the first day of the conference, with each of the other presenters on the track giving separate presentations as well.   After the first day of the conference was over I was able to relax for a bit and enjoy myself since I wasn’t scheduled to give my workshop on Hellenistic time-lord techniques until the last day.

At one point towards the middle of the week I went out to dinner with several other speakers, Demetra George, Deb Houlding, Dorian Greenbaum, Joseph Crane and Meira Epstein.   Later that night I ended up at a party with a bunch of people from the Association for Young Astrologers, and at some point I realized that I had lost my laptop bag which contained my computer, my passport, my digital camera, and several other important possessions.   The computer itself contained material that I needed for the workshop that I was due to present later in the week, as well as several other projects that I have been working on over the past few months such as my book.   I spent the next few hours trying to retrace my steps in order to figure out where I had left the bag, but it was to no avail.   I had lost something really important and I simply didn’t know if I was going to get it back.

By the middle of the next day I was starting to freak out because none of the possible places that I thought that I had left the bag at seemed to have it.   Initially I was convinced that I had left it at the Chinese restaurant that I went to with some of the other speakers the previous night, but the staff at the restaurant said that they hadn’t seen it.  At this point my sense of desperation had become quite acute, and eventually I realized that I simply needed to know whether or not I would eventually get my laptop bag back at all, one way or another, because the entire incident was starting to put a damper on the entire conference for me.

Right about that time I realized that this was a perfect scenario for a horary question.  While my immediate focus was on the location of the laptop bag, my main concern was whether or not I would get it back at all at that point.  So I asked a friend of mine who I was with at the time something to the effect of “will I ever get my laptop back”, and we cast a chart for the exchange of the question.  In my opinion the focus of horary isn’t so much on casting charts for the abstract moment of the birth of a question, but rather, the focus is on casting a chart for the exchange of a question between the querent and the astrologer.   Thus I always cast the chart for the time and location of the astrologer who receives the question, and I never pose questions to myself (Masha’allah actually has a specific injunction against this in his work known as On Reception).

We noted the time of the question and cast the horary chart on my friend’s laptop on the way to lunch that day.  Here is the chart:

Horary question:  “Will I ever get my laptop back?”

Before we even cast the chart I knew  what I should expect to see if the answer to the question was going to be ‘yes’, or conversely if the answer to the question was ‘no’.   Since it was a question about some of my possessions it was a 2nd house question, and the configuration of the ruler of the 1st and the ruler of the 2nd, or lack thereof, would be enough to provide me with a yes or no answer.  Basically, if the ruler of the 1st was applying to the ruler of the second, or vice versa, then the answer would be ‘yes’, but if there was no application between the two significators then the answer would be ‘no’.

The technical approach to horary astrology is pretty straightforward like that, which is why it has become so popular over the past couple of decades.  Horary is all about determining what the focus of the question is,  assigning the significators accordingly and then seeing whether or not they are applying, separating, or completely unconfigured with respect to one another. While horary astrology isn’t very good at answering broader ranging questions like ‘what is my purpose in life’, which is more the purview of natal astrology, it is very good at answering specific questions that can easily be assigned to one of the twelve houses and answered with a straight forward yes or no response.

As soon as we cast the chart I realized that it was a text book example of an easy to delineate horary question with an affirmative answer.   Right off the bat we notice that Sagittarius was rising at the moment of the question and the ruler of the 1st was in the 2nd house of possessions.  Thus the horary chart itself was accurately reflecting that the focus of the question was on the querent’s possessions (i.e. my laptop).

The next step was to see if there was an applying aspect between the ruler of the 1st and the ruler of the 2nd.  As it turned out I was in luck and there was!   Jupiter had recently stationed direct and it was applying to a trine with Saturn in just over one degree.   Thus the planet that was signifying me in the chart, Jupiter, was actually applying to the planet that signified my laptop in the chart, Saturn.   So, the symbolism of the chart was actually showing that I was moving towards the laptop, and more specifically that I would indeed recover it.   This was further reinforced by the fact that the Moon was at 10 Taurus applying to a trine with Jupiter and Saturn.  Since the Moon usually acts as a secondary significator for the querent its application to the relevant significators in the chart reaffirmed the positive response to the question.

Basically the horary chart gave me an resoundingly positive response to the question of whether or not I would get my laptop back.  At that point in time I had no other reason to think that I would ever see the laptop bag or any of the possessions contained in it ever again since I had checked every possible place that it could be, however I was now rather certain that I would get the laptop bag back and that it was only a matter of time.  Armed with this information I was able to sit back and enjoy the rest of my day at the conference with an odd sense of serenity about the whole situation.  It wasn’t so much a sense of elation about the knowledge that I would get the laptop back, but it was simply the fact that I knew the answer to the question and I could forget about it for the time being.

Later that night I stopped by the front desk at the hotel lobby and found my laptop bag.  Apparently I had left it by the pool at some point earlier in the day, before I even went out to dinner with the other speakers from the conference.  Someone had returned it to the front desk completely untouched.

In my opinion this is what horary astrology is useful for, and astrology in general for that matter.   The ability to acknowledge, to know and to come to terms with the state of one’s life,  in the present, the past and the future.  In it of itself this is something that can be extremely valuable, despite how simple it might seem as a concept at face value.  From an ancient standpoint this was in fact the entire purpose of astrology: to habituate the soul to accept events in the future as though they were in the present, and thus to approach all events in one’s life with a greater sense of moderation, contentment and purpose.  This is a rather Stoic sentiment, but as I can attest to it does have its merits as a useful working philosophy for astrology in the 21st century.

More Information About Horary Astrology

If you would like to learn more about the techniques and practice of horary astrology then check out the online introduction to horary astrology course that I teach through my website.  If you would simply like to pose a horary question to an astrologer then you can contact me in order to set up a horary consultation.

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About Chris Brennan

Chris is a practicing astrologer from Denver, Colorado, USA. He is the former President of the Association for Young Astrologers, as well as the former Research Director of the National Council for Geocosmic Research. He offers personal consultations and teaches online classes through his website at

Hellenistic Astrology Course


  • Rudy Friend says:

    Hi Chris,
    My name is Rudy and I have been studying Astrology for approximately 10 years. I come from more of the school of natal astrology but I am familiar with other schools like horary, mundane, financial, etc. I especially like genethliacal(I think I’m misspelling it) which I believe to be the study of astrological patterns in family generations. After reading your blog I wanted to thank you for your writing. It is rare treat for me to read well written Astrological writings. I wish you much luck and success on your book that you are writing. One of these days I’ll have enough cash stashed away to attend one of the conventions.
    Thank you for your time in writing this,

  • carlos says:

    I was wondering what your response might have been had the Laptop bag not re-appeared?

  • I would have made due, and acted accordingly with the knowledge that it wasn’t going to reappear.

  • carlos says:

    Are you saying here you would have rejected Horary Astrology?

    It occured to me that the chart didn’t give you a time for it to be returned so you could have kept your faith and hoped it would show up in due course, perhaps years later.

  • No, I’m saying that I would have tried to accept whatever the answer to the horary question was, one way or another, even if the answer was negative. Perhaps I misunderstood your original question though.

    That is true about the second part, although it is somewhat beside the point. I phrased the question that way intentionally though because the primary concern was whether or not I would get it back at all, not necessarily if I would get it back soon. The tightness of the orb between the planets as well as the angularity and speed of the significators did provide some information about how swift the recovery would be though.

  • carlos says:

    I’m asking you about this ‘one way or another’.

    The clearness of the chart and seriousness of your question suggests to me the bag’s non-appearance could have been problematic for you.

  • So this is more of a question of what I would do if the chart said that I would recover the bag but then I never did? In that case I would have to re-tool my approach to horary. So far that hasn’t been an issue though.

  • carlos says:

    Re-tool could be giving it up, using other systems or techniques and modifications depending on the new data?

  • More like reassessing my approach to answering horary questions. I’m not adverse to changing my approach in the interests of finding out what works and weeding out what doesn’t.

    This has not been an issue in the past several years of working with horary though, so this is more of a hypothetical response.

  • carlos says:

    Do you know of any studies done into the effectiveness of horary astrology.

    As I understand it Horary has been accused of Circular Reasoning, namely you have to believe in it for it to work so if it goes wrong you were a non-believer.

    So in the laptop case had the chart given you the wrong answer you could have rationalised this as you weren’t that serious about getting it back or temporarily had lost your faith in it’s powers.

  • And what makes you think that I would have rationalized it in that way had the horary turned out to be wrong based on my previous response?

  • carlos says:

    I’m exploring the options availiable to you, from my understanding as to how horary astrology is understood to work, had it not re-appeared.

    We know from your article that it was important that you found it soon, but had it not re-appeared you might have questioned if it really was that important. Maybe a part of you sensed that giving a workshop without the notes could have been challenging.

    What you seem to be saying is that you would re-evaluate your approach, which I took to mean you would question if Jupiter and Saturn were the significators after all in this instance

    Although I wondered if you did mean this as you said in the article the Technical Approach is quite straightforward?

  • I’m not really sure where you are going with this. I do think that horary questions need to be important and personally significant to the one asking the question, but I was the one who asked it, so I know how important it was at the time. I wouldn’t have tried to rationalize that it wasn’t important in retrospect. That wouldn’t make sense. I simply would have reevaluated the technical approach that I took to answering the question. Again though, this isn’t what happened, so its a pointless question.

    If you want to argue that horary doesn’t work or that it is an example of circular reasoning then you should just cut to the point here and we can agree to disagree. Otherwise I don’t see where you are going with this.

  • carlos says:

    Ok it’s clearer to me now you would have re-evaluated the Jupiter/Saturn in this instance. What’s less clear is how you would do this if this way of reading this particular question is so ingrained in the tradition. Which technique here are you refering to, I understand Lilly is often cited as influential.

    To ensure we don’t have any confusion I have no idea if Horary Astrology works or not. I’m simply curious about it.

  • Gabe says:

    This is a pretty clear chart: I assume the date and time for it is Sep 18 2008 12:20PM MST?

    Neither Jupiter nor the Moon aspect the Ascending sign, so that would indicate your inability to complete the matter yourself, i.e. the trouble you had trying to find the bag by looking for it. Luckily both planets aspect Saturn, ruler of the 2nd and thus the bag. We can see by the picture that it is a black bag, appropriate for Saturn; being a laptop bag, it’s probably a bit heavy, also Saturn.

    I do wonder about the timing. Jupiter is the slowest moving of the three significators, due to its recent station, so that probably slowed up the recovery of the bag.

  • Yes, that is the correct time for the chart. The bag was recovered later that night, the same day that the question was asked.

  • Gabe says:

    Like 8-9 hours later? If so, then it would be timed by the actual time the Moon took to perfect its trine to Saturn, which took around 4.5 hours, and the placement of Saturn in a double-bodied sign doubling the time. Eh, timing is more tricky then it needs to be. At least you’re not out a laptop. 🙂

  • Harold says:

    It seems to me as well, the chart would show where the laptop is at (location). What was the founding date (birthday) of the hotel? And how far was you away from the laptop’s pick up point? The reason why I ask is you asked “will I ever get my laptop back”, I bet at the same time you asked that question, you also asked in your mind “where is my laptop at?”.. Get what I am saying? I would like to see your answer to this. Should be interesting..

  • whall says:

    Thanx Chris for a very well-written and informative horary example. I thoroughly enjoy the ‘walk-through’ type of post and I’m looking forward to more.

  • […] is often characterized as pertaining to the physical body and appearance of the native, and in horary astrology the ruler of the ascendant always signifies the querent in the chart.  Similarly, in electional […]

  • nina says:

    Hi Chris,

    “I never pose questions to myself (Masha’allah actually has a specific injunction against this in his work known as On Reception).”

    Can you please elaborate a bit on what are the specific injunctions against one asking one’s own horary question.


  • Chris Brennan says:

    In chapter 2 of Masha’allah’s horary text On Reception he runs through a list of precursors to asking a horary question, such as that the person who asks should ask for himself, that there should only be one question at a time, that the question should be important, and, to quote Hand’s translation (which is the closest one to me at the moment):

    “In addition, it is not suitable for a sage to look on his own behalf. It is necessary that he asks of another.” (pg. 6 in Hand)

    This is pretty much the full extent to which he elaborates on this matter, although it was picked up by other astrologers as late as Bonatti.

    I put forward an argument in my paper on the origins of horary that the reason for this injunction is the fact that horary originally developed out of the use of consultation charts, and in consultation charts there of course always has two be two people involved. Here is the link to that paper if you would like to read the full argument:

    From this perspective, horary isn’t so much about casting charts for the abstract ‘birth’ of a question, but it is more about casting a chart for the exchange of a question between two parties. This is why certain things like the consideration before judgement about Saturn being in the 7th house were developed, because the astrologer was always meant to be implicated in the question, and this notion survived right down through to Lilly’s time in the 17th century.

    So, that is my take on the subject. I know that most modern practitioners of horary wouldn’t agree with my stance here, but I’ve thought about this issue quite a bit, and this is the approach that I take and advocate.

  • nina says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for taking time to answer my question.
    I will go to the link and read the paper.
    Regards Nina

  • […] main interest in astrological prediction is through horary astrology: the art of interpreting a chart for the moment a question is […]

  • Tara says:

    Pretty cool! Part of Fortune in Cancer: my first thought was, it’ll be somewhere by home! Even better – it was by the pool! Ha!