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.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Let's Get Traditional With Reception

A series of unfortunate events made the very useful technique of reception very confusing. First I really regret that the 17th century astrologers messed with it and tried to limit it to mutual reception, then some contemporary traditional astrologers further muddied the waters.

Let's start with the traditional definition from Bonatti, the classic medieval source,

"And it is said if a planet is joined with the lord of the sign in which it is or the lord of the exaltation of the same sign, or with the the lord the [term] or triplicity or face, either bodily or by aspect [they are in reception] However, this is true [only] if it is joined with the lord of the [sign] or exaltation, or with the lord of two of the lesser dignities, to wit with [a planet which is] the lord of the [term] and triplicity, or with lord of the [term] and face, or with the lord of the face and triplicity..."

Liber Astronomiae, Tr. III ch 13 (the corresponding passage can be found in the Dykes trans at 223)

In other words, you need two planets and (1) they are making an applying aspect and (2) at least one planet is in the other's sign or exaltation, or in the others triplicity plus term, triplicity plus face or face plus term.

Even though Lilly only defines reception in terms of mutual reception, ie two planets, both in each other's sign or exaltation, he actually uses the older definition in examples in Christian Astrology. I much prefer the term "generosity" which Ibn Ezra uses for two planets each being in each other's sign or exaltation without needing an aspect. Beginning of Wisdom, Epstein trans page 125.

Then to make things even more confusing some contemporary traditional astrologers starting saying that planets in mutual reception switched signs or places or something, what? I never understood what this was about and it is not supported by actual traditional sources.

So with regard to reception we have a big mess! Actually it is pretty straightforward. If you have two planets making an applying aspect and at least one is in the sign or exaltation or two minor dignities of the other, it makes the aspect go much more easily. A square with reception means problems that can be worked through, for example, and a trine with reception means smooth as silk! See Bonatti, Liber Astronomiae, Tr 6 Horary ch 2 Dykes trans page 362-4 for examples of this. If you don't have a copy of Bonatti's Horary Section of LA GET ONE! Here it is as an Amazon paperback Dykes has even put this out as an e-book.

They don't switch places, they don't increase in essential dignity, the interaction between them just goes so much more easily. For example, if Mercury is the ruler of the 7th applying to Jupiter, ruler of the 1st and Mercury is in Cancer and Jupiter in Aries, they are making a square with reception since Mercury is in the exaltation of Jupiter. However, Mercury is still peregrine and Jupiter, if this is a night chart, just dignified by triplicity, as the night ruler of fire signs. They aren't increased in essential dignity by reception, thus they aren't any stronger, but that argument they are about to have, maybe they can work through it.

Reception is a good example of where I part ways, even with Lilly, when that "modernizing" impulse kicks in. This was a problem even in the 17th century!