Sunday, February 24, 2013

Riffing within the Tradition

I got a very good question the other day about horary and in particular Lilly's famous Christian Astrology, from a student of mine and member of my discusssion group, Spiritus Mundi, Kiel Price.

Kiel asked, "Just a quick question, perhaps I'm missing something here. Page 305 of Christian Astrology says "The Lord of the Ascendant in the seventh, the Querent loveth best;". Yet page 317 of Christian Astrology seems to say the exact opposite. "...when the Lord of the Ascendant was in the seventh, the quesited loved best." If you could shed some light on this that would be great."

Ok, very good question! Let's back up a bit here. First, we are talking about marriage and relationship horaries here. These are pretty key for any practicing horary astrologer since I'd estimate about 75% of my horary clients are asking about relationships. Next, we are discussing emplacement. Lilly explains emplacement as follows:

"Lastly, things are sometimes perfected by the dwelling of Planets in houses, viz. when the Significator of the thing demanded is casually posited in the Ascendant; as if one demand if he shall obtain such a Place or Dignity, if then the Lord of the tenth be placed in the Ascendant, he shall obtain the Benefit, Office, Place or Honour desired:"

Christian Astrology page 126.

Basically emplacement is a way of connecting significators or in this case a significator with the affairs of a house. If the significator of the querent or quesited is in a particular house it indicates a connection between the two.

Ok, so now when we are talking about a relationship, what does it mean when the significator of the querent is in the 7th house, the house of the quesited, the person the querent is asking if they will have a relationship with. Lilly at page 305 says that if the significator of the querent is in the 7th then the querent is more interested and wants the relationship more than the quesited. Conversely, Lilly at 305 says that if the significator of the quesited is in the Ascendant, the house of the querent, that the quesited wants the relationship more. Lilly goes on to say, and this is very interesting, that if the lord of the 7th, ie the significator of the quesited, is in the 7th, that this indicates that the quesited "is free from love, has little mind to Marriage..." ie is not interested in a relationship with the querent.

So it is rather perplexing that at page 317 Lilly says the exact opposite, ie, lord of the 7th in the Ascendant, the QUERENT wants the relationship the most and vice versa. However, the mystery is dispelled by the immediately previous phrase, "Contrary to all the rules of the Ancients, I (!!!!) have ever found..." and then Lilly states his backwards rule.

Very interesting! This gives us a very useful insight into how a traditional astrologer saw his sources and how they fit into the tradition. Much of Christian Astrology is taken right out of earlier traditional sources, in particular Guido Bonatti's Book of Astronomy. In fact, many of Lilly's marriage rules are word for word from Bonatti. Traditional astrologers, just like traditional scholars in general did not consider this plagiarism because they were less concerned with originality. They saw themselves as part of a long lineage and had no problem using ancient sources. Lilly is firmly within traditional astrology, but is not afraid to say, in particular circumstances, that he doesn't follow individual "ancient rules"

Now, my almost invariable tendency when Lilly does this and innovates is to stick with the older methods. In this case, I use the page 305 method, such that significator of the querent in the 7th, the querent wants the relationship more, etc. It is the older method, it makes more sense to me and most importantly in my wide experience as a professional horary astrologer, it works! Similarly with Lilly's use of the modified essential dignity system, I go with the older Dorothean triplicities, etc., etc.

Now I am not saying that Lilly was a bad astrologer, or that he was wrong to innovate. It certainly seems to have worked for him. None of these innovations were so radical as to take him outside traditional astrology unlike having the modern planets rule signs or making the 8th house the house of sex. Also Lilly's innovations are based on very wide experience, Lilly saw huge numbers of clients, in a two year period, for example, 1654-6, he saw over 4,000! Most importantly Lilly's basic philosophy was traditional, he was not a modern atheistic/materialist though those influences were growing during this period.

This wide experience and philosophical orientation are key, but ultimately staying within the tradition is the only way that one can claim the illustrious title of traditional astrologer. Even so, it is very important to be straightforward about what the basis for one's methods are. You should be able to quote a pre-1700 source or be honest about innovating. Nothing wrong with innovation so long as it is acknowledged.

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