Considerations Before Judgment

Some of the Considerations Which Precede the Judgment of a Horary Chart

Most of the authorities in horary astrology stressed the importance of fulfilling certain preconditions for judging horary questions. The most famous among them, as to the number and quality of these rules included in his work and astrological theory was, certainly, Guido Bonatti (1223 – 1300) the Italian mathematician and astrologer.

The first rule established by Bonatti, regarding considerations which precede the judgment of a horary chart, concerned the assessment of spontaneity of the question posed to an astrologer, as well as the sincerity of the querent, regarding the matter inquired about. Equally, Bonatti stressed, almost obsessively, the need for profoundness and contemplation regarding any horary question – this concerned the querent primarily. However, even the fulfilment of these requirements was sometimes not enough to render the question fit for horary judgment. The second precondition concerned something Bonatti termed “sympathy of the heavens (superior cosmological spheres and heavenly bodies)”. Based upon this premise, one can conclude it is quite possible that some horary chart doesn’t “open itself up” for judgment (for some unknown reason) despite the spontaneity of the question, seriousness of the situation which brought the question forth and sincerity of the querent.

Bonatti’s second consideration concerns the astrologer, the interpreter of the horary chart and it states that the astrologer is due to estimate whether the querent approaches the issue earnestly and thus “deserves” the attention of the heavens. Bonatti also recommends some special preparations for the astrologer, before he commences the judging of horary, which comprise prayer or contemplative concentration on a horary question through some kind of isolation and tranquilization.

According to Bonatti, the matter of the horary question should never be a “trivial thing” or a matter of the querent’s “emotional whim”. According to his own admission, many came to consult him just in order to test him or to make fun of him. Because of this, Bonatti contrived a number of rules which serve the purpose of assessing the sincerity of the querent and the so-called “radicality” of the question. The word “radix” (radical) originally means “the root”, distinctive, primary, essential. If the chart reveals that the question isn’t radical, this means that it isn’t firmly rooted in the mind of the querent or that the querent isn’t serious enough, or he is light-minded and his question is without any grounding in reality.


The primary indicators showing the lack of radicality of a question concern the ascending degree and the planet (hour ruler) of the horary chart. The ruler of the hour or the ruler of the ascendant located at the very end/beginning of a sign or at the boundary between two signs are the first hints indicating the lack of radicality of the question. Bonatti didn’t state precisely which degrees (out of thirty pertaining to every zodiacal sign) are to be taken as indicators showing the lack of radicality, but we may assume he had in mind the 29th, 30th and the 1st (ordinal) degree of every sign. There is one more possible interpretation of this rule, which originated because of the imprecise calculation of the ascending degree in 13th century, when Bonatti lived. The ephemerides and the tables of mundane houses were neither very precise nor reliable back in those days, especially in the case of signs of short ascension (Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini). When these signs are concerned, the “sensitive” interval of ascension shift from one sign to the other is, in fact, between the 26th of the preceding and the 5th degree of the following sign. In the case of the signs of long ascension (from Cancer to Sagittarius) this sensitive interval is considerably narrower and is situated along the longitudes which Bonatti presumably had in mind when he mentioned them as indicators showing lack of radicality in a horary question. There is also a third kind of interpretation of the rule pertaining to the early/late ascending degrees and it concerns the observations that the question is too early/too late to be judged. This is not originally Bonatti’s idea. John Partridge, the English astrologer from the 17th century, was the first to explicitly assert that if the first few degrees of any sign are on the ascendant, the matter is not yet ripe for judgment. Several other English astrologers of this period, including John Gadbury and Henry Coley, interpreted the early/late degrees on the ascendant as indicators of “knavery and stupidity of the querent” and the absence of spontaneity. Gadbury, for instance, interpreted it as a hint that the querent had already posed the same question to some other astrologer and is now only testing the current one. Coley suggests the same, whereas Partridge thinks that only the late degrees rising convey such a message. This leads us to another consideration which stresses the necessity of posing a particular question only once, which means that there’s only one horary chart relevant for a particular question. By posing the same question more than once, the horary chart loses its focus, conveys contradictory information and becomes useless for proper judgment. William Lilly, specifically, interpreted the late ascending degrees as a potential indicator of the querent’s age, when, in the case of a match between the querent’s age and the number of the late degrees ascending, the degrees ascending may be taken as an indicator of radicality (and not of the lack thereof, as is suggested in the writings of the majority of the older authorities on horary).

The situations of uncertainty regarding the sign ascending Bonatti used to solve by taking the ruler of the hour into account. If, for instance, the ascendant falls between Pisces and Aries, and Jupiter rules the hour, he chooses Pisces because of the domicile rulership of Jupiter in this sign.

Another, very important rule about radicality is the comparison between the ruler of the hour and the ruler of the ascendant according to planetary/triplicty affinity and according to the sign on the ascendant.

One of the more popular considerations of radicality of the question, first mentioned by Claude Dariot (a lesser known astrologer from the 16th century) is the rule about the condition of the 7th house which is, most probably, deduced from the XIV aphorism of the pseudo - Ptolemy’s Centiloquium which reads: ”The astrologer plunges himself into many errors, when the cusp of the 7th house and lord thereof are unfortunate or afflicted.”. This is also one of the Lilly’s considerations which he wrote down in his “Christian Astrology”. Beside this 7th house rule, Lilly also took into account two rules laid out by Bonatti (early and late degrees on the ascendant and the hour ruler of the question), then the rule about the affliction of the Moon in the late degrees of a sign, especially when in Gemini, Scorpio and Capricorn, Vacua cursus (Void of course of the Moon) and other relevant significators, which implies the absence of the applying aspect before the change of a sign, or, up to 5 degrees in the following sign, as well as the position of the Moon in the Via Combusta (burned path) between the 15th degree of Libra and 15th degree of Scorpio. After the assessment of the conditions of the Moon, important consideration indicating the lack of radicality contained the condition of Saturn, especially if it is retrograde and placed in the 1st mundane house, near the ascendant. The ruler of the ascendant combust, as well as the equality between negative and positive testimonies in a horary chart are the rules Lilly also mentions regarding considerations before judgment.

In the times of the first katarche horary astrology the comparison with the natal chart was the first and primary rule. From this, another potential rule springs up, regarding considerations before judgment. Astrological practice, indeed, often shows that the important horary questions “sire” charts in which the most important factors and significators overlap exactly with natal chart factors. Therefore, although it ‘functions’ independently, a horary chart for some important questions can be submitted to comparison with natal chart in order to ascertain the sincerity of the querent.

Author: Natasa Karalic Koprivica

"Stars rule by moving and corrupting the elements."

(Guido Bonatti, Italian mathematician, astronomer and astrologer)