When the stars give you spoilers: why I love horary astrology

I’m often asked by folks—my ever-patient husband among them—why I favor horary astrology over the practice of something more well-known like natal astrology. My reasons aren’t overly complicated, but to get there I’d like to mention the difference between modalities of astrology.

Think about intelligence for a minute. The psychologist Howard Gardner delineated a theory of multiple intelligences in his 1983 book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In short, Gardner proposed that the bigger concept of intelligence was better conceived of as subsisting in eight specific modalities, to include such things as verbal-linguistic intelligence (what you use when speaking or writing), logical-mathematical intelligence (what you use when solving logical or arithmetical problems), or intrapersonal intelligence (what you access when you are reflecting on your own interior emotional and cognitive life).

Gardner’s theory supposes that there’s not one overarching construction of intelligence, but rather, different people have different strengths and weaknesses in terms of the facility they have with each of these modalities.

So, by way of parallel, we can talk about astrology is an alternative means of knowing that has different modalities. If astrology is an intelligence, a language of symbolically meaningful correlations that we can utilize to tell stories about the way our lives shake out, then I would suggest that we can look at horary and natal astrology as being two different “modalities” of astrology that have a lot of overlap but necessarily deal with different things. The same set of rules that governs natal astrology also governs horary, more or less (especially if you’re a traditional astrologer), but they have wildly different applications.

So why do I prefer this particular modality of astrology to natal—especially since I also practice natal astrology?

One: horary astrology is results-driven. Either the horary astrologer gets the judgment right, or they don’t. At the end of the day, what drives a person to seek out the assistance of an astrologer is a specific precipitating event that has driven them to a crisis. And I think “crisis” is the right word here, because the Greek word from which we get our word “crisis” means “judgment,” which is what a horary consultation endeavors to do. We get the chart of the crisis (in the form of a question) and judge what will become of it.

Two: horary astrology is a powerful intervention tool. Because of the nature of some of the questions that horary astrologers encounter in their practice, it is often bringing us face to face with the challenging realities of people’s individual emotional, relational, vocational, and financial crises (or otherwise). The astrologer, then, has the sacred responsibility to treat the client’s question or concern with the patience and unconditional positive regard such a situation may demand. The astrologer then has the opportunity to speak directly into the client’s crisis, using the wisdom of the chart.

In my practice I’ve found that the very process of working with a client to massage a question into something that is clear and answerable with a horary consultation is illuminating both for the astrologer and for the client, who may have some unspoken challenges or matters which they are not addressing in the question but are critical for understanding how to move forward from the consultation space; these matters make themselves readily apparent in the chart of the question.

Three: horary astrology is concise and accessible.Dr. Lee Lehman, one of the biggest names in the traditional astrology world and one of my mentors by way of the STA, said something in an interview with Chris Brennan on the Astrology Podcast that has stayed with me for quite some time: “We have our entire lives to work out our natal charts.” Natal consultations are hard because we really are speaking about an entire lifetime of subjective and objective experiences and trying to make sense of the story that is underpinning all of them, which, if we’re not focused in how we’re approaching the natal chart, can cause us to become lost in a forest of subplots and details that don’t further the client’s understanding of their life station.

Meanwhile, a horary judgment is zeroed in on one specific issue or concern, and it’s not something that we need to spend the rest of our lives puzzling about it. As well, despite the complex nature of the rules that govern the practice of horary astrology, a story can be told clearly and concisely to the point that the practitioner need not make recourse to any astrological terminology.

A joiner to this: the best horary charts have strong connections to the querent’s natal chart for sure, and I have seen this come to bear in my own life even as recently as this week.

Four: horary astrology is rules-driven and rooted in tradition. The whole practice of horary astrology works because of the tight rules that govern the interpretation of horary charts which have been handed down from the ancient near east through medieval Europe and ultimately, through the rediscovery of William Lilly by Olivia Barclay and her successors in the traditional astrological revival of the late 1980s and following.

The rules of horary follow a clear, logical order, and because of that, they are straightforward to learn and use systematically to all manner of charts. There are a lot of rules, though, so there’s a little bit of a barrier to entry for folks who haven’t exercised their memorization chops in a while, but all the same, this art can be learned and taught effectively precisely because of the clarity of the rules.

I especially love it because all of the symbolism in the chart comes out of following these rules; for example, Mars and Venus coming to a conjunction in Scorpio is going to tell a vastly different story than Mars and Venus coming to a conjunction in Libra. The best practitioners are those whose attention to the rules are joined to intuition in a way that supports the clear and precise interpretation of the chart.

Five: my personal experience has validated the power of horary. I put this one towards the bottom of the list because I was already deeply attracted to and invested in my study of horary by the time I had any remarkable experience of it in my own life. It wasn’t until I was wrapping up my studies in the practitioner’s level course at the STA that I asked and judged a question for myself, a career matter that is still playing out in ways that are, frankly, uncanny (which I won’t get into here). The chart spoke concisely and directly to a decision I was making and, two months ahead of time, predicted a new and important collaborative partnership that would emerge in my day job that necessitated me remaining deeply rooted therein.

So, yeah, it works.

In sum, I love this art simply because when questions are asked with sincerity and openness to whatever it is the Divine has to say about the matter, it works, and it gives the kind of clear, direct, and constructive feedback to which modern life has grown accustomed. And, honestly, I think it’s for everyone; yes, the rules are arcane and require lengthy investment of time and energy to learn and deploy well, but the number of astrologers who have the knack for this is growing and the art is becoming more available to people who otherwise wouldn’t know that they have recourse to the heavens.

Do you have a pressing, personal question that you would like to address with horary astrology? Send me an email today!

Cover photo by Steven Hille

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