On Saturday night at UAC, I was hanging out with two of my roommates, one of whom is especially keen-of-insight, and she had a sudden wonder as to where in the world our fourth roommate had been as we hadn’t heard from her in some time and it didn’t seem that messages were going through to her phone. Naturally, with a horary specialist in the room, casting a chart was the most obvious solution.
Since this is a missing person question and, by extension, a question as to whether someone is dead or alive, we are going to judge the chart from the first, per Lilly’s instructions on first house judgments. It’s not a missing object we’re after, so judging from the second doesn’t work here, and the question is being asked generally, not in relationship to a querent, so we wouldn’t use the 7th. We are asking this question as a group—we were all concerned for our friend’s safety, being in an unfamiliar city past midnight. Lilly writes on p. 154 of Christian Astrology,
“If a question be demanded of one absent in a general way, and the querent hath no relation to the party; then the first house, the lord of that house and the Moon shall signify the absent party; the lord of the eighth house or planet posited in the house or within five degrees of the cusp of the eighth house shall show his death or its quality.”
“In judging this question, see first whether the lord of the ascendant, the Moon and the lord of the eighth house or planet in the eighth house be corporally joined together; or that the Moon, lord of the ascendant and the lord of the eighth are in opposition either in the eighth and second, or twelfth and sixth, for these are arguments the party is deceased, or sick, and very near death.”
Let’s look at a few considerations prior to judging this chart. We see first off that an early degree is rising, which means we might not know the full extent of the story and it is too early to do anything. We also see that the Moon will not complete her next aspect, a square to Mars, until she has changed signs from Libra to Scorpio. Perhaps this suggests that the situation was not “fully cooked” enough to bother asking it, either. But there is agreement between the hour ruler and the ascendant ruler—both are Saturn—which demonstrates that this question is, indeed, radical, meaning that the question emerges from a place of genuine concern for the wellbeing of our roommate.
Looking immediately at the list of “they’re probably dead if…” considerations Lilly gives in the passage above, we see that there is no contact between the eighth ruler and the ascendant ruler. The first-ruler Saturn is not placed under the earth, nor is he on the other end of any hostile contact from the other malefic, Mars. So, she’s probably fine.
Lilly says to start by looking at the first house and any planets placed there, the first-ruler, and the moon. We have a super-fun peregrine Mars immediately on the ascendant, from whom the Sun separates from a trine. Luminaries contacting the significators of the quesited person or item by helpful aspects, whether sextile or trine, are arguments for recovery in “where is x?” charts. Now, since this is a separating trine and not an applying one, it stands to reason that there is little that can be done where we stand now.
However! Lilly’s method is to stack up the collections of testimonies and judge from the overall weight of the chart. If they are equal, defer judgment. We don’t know whether these testimonies are equal. Consider that the Sun angular is an argument of recovery in a missing person case—even if that angle is the 4th, while the placement of the Sun under the earth is one of the traditional testimonies against recovery.
Saturn’s dignities and placement will give us both the description of the quesited and a clue as to her location, because Saturn is the ruler of the ascendant degree, 2º Aquarius. Consider what a dignified Saturn represents in terms of the quesited’s appearance and personality: someone who is older and in a position of responsibility (our missing roommate was the oldest of our bunch, a mother, with quite a wealth of wisdom accrued through her practice). Saturn’s oriental position (he rises before the Sun) describes someone who is taller and, barring my 6’2” frame, our roommate was the tallest among us.
Likewise the contact which Venus is making to Saturn at the time of the chart further describes her—the quesited was the founder of Beautiful Astrology and someone who works to render charts into visual-spatial representations on the human body through color and shape associations. Venus softens some of the Saturnine characteristics we would expect to find—Saturn gives a long face, severity of features, and lusterless hair, yet I knew precisely what the quesited looked like and this was only partly true. She has a fair complexion, not quite “pale” in the sense we would expect to see with Saturn ruling the ascendant, and has a more standard stature and frame than the “skinny legend” Saturn would otherwise suggest.
Saturn’s being dignified in Capricorn further confirms what we knew to be true about our roommate’s disposition: she is studious and attentive, responsible, mature, patient, and fully possessed of herself. Her being “missing,” I judged, is due to her own choice to be “missing” or inaccessible.
A further remarkable point bears mentioning: Uranus’ placement on the 3rd cusp indicates some kind of disruptive influence insofar as communication is concerned. We already knew that messages weren’t going through to her phone, and I assumed from the chart that this was likely due to the phone being dead or out of range of a decent signal (the third ruler being peregrine, as well as Uranus’ presence on the 3rd indicating general malfunction). That the ascendant ruler was in the 12th, and we could assume that the quesited had her phone on her at the time, suggested that perhaps the phone might not have been dead but was rather with the quesited in a place with no signal.
The question remains, where is she? Earth signs in general, and Capricorn in particular, indicate a “down” orientation—Earth tends downward, as the heaviest of the elements—and low to the ground. Cardinal signs indicate places of activity and action, but the placement of Saturn in a cadent house suggests isolation even within a place of activity. Capricorn also indicates places that are low, dark, and near thresholds—think of its ruler Saturn’s natural rulership of borders and boundaries, and this makes sense at once. So, putting it all together: I expected our roommate to be found in a place with a lot of activity, low to the ground, in a Saturnine location—perhaps a leather chair—and off to the side, out of the main flow of activity. Armed with this information, I set off to find her.
After riding the elevator down 33 floors (“low to the ground”), I emerged and immediately turned into the lobby, which was still vibrating with activity, alcohol, and the conversations of several dozen astrologers even at 12:30am. The lobby was surrounded by several seating alcoves off the beaten path, and sure enough, in a tan leather chair by the glass entrance to the hotel lobby, sat our roommate, talking to someone and obviously having a great time. As it happens, her phone, for whatever reason, had not been receiving our texts despite being turned on and having a connection (ah, the vagaries of iMessage). I returned upstairs to share the report, assuaging all our concerns and putting another notch in the horary astrology belt.
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Featured image by Murray Campbell.