For experts of horary astrology, there is no dilemma of time and location for which a horary chart is constructed for a question - the time when an astrologer found out and understood the contents of some question and the location where he or she was at that moment. In recent years, with the increase of popularity of horary astrology there are some people who have been trying to study horary astrology spreading the idea that a question which “struck” a querent can be used as the relevant time, that is, when they talk about the location, they say that it is important where a querent was at that moment, but not an astrologer to whom a question was sent, as the horary astrology rules dictate. Some of them go the length of asserting that time was used in ancient times. That is, of course, completely incorrect. Before all of them, in the books and the announced examples of a great man of horary astrology William Lilly, it can obviously be seen that horary charts, without exception, were constructed for the time when an astrologer heard or read and understood a question as well as for the location where he or she was at that moment. There are at least two reasons for this kind of rule of horary astrology that has consistently been used for centuries during the studying and practicing horary astrology. Firstly, there is a reason of a practical nature and secondly, there is a reason of a logical and philosophical nature. The idea, that ancient astrologers could use the time when a querent conceived a question, is absurd because a clock as a device did not exist till the 16th century and mechanism had only one watch-hand (an hour-hand, without a minute-hand). The privilege of time calculation, that is, ascendant degree calculation exclusively belonged to mathematicians/ astrologers/ astronomers (that’s how people called experts of the celestial science in ancient times). In accordance with it, the idea, that the time which was relevant for constructing horary charts was the time when some question struck a querent, was actually absurd, because, as can be seen, something like that was impossible for an ordinary man. Beside this practical reason for adoption of the rule referring to the time and the location of an astrologer, there is one more logical -philosophical excuse. When we talk about questions in horary astrology, the so-called horary questions, we always talk about questions which are put to astrologers who have enough knowledge and experience to answer them using the horary astrology rules. In that sense, an ordinary question becomes a horary question and gets its own astrological sense when an astrologer, to whom some question is put, hears or reads and understands its contents. In horary astrology, that moment is called “the parturition of a horary question”, and we take the time and the location in which that moment happened, in accordance with that logic, as only relevant things for constructing a horary chart.
How did astrologers calculate the time, that is, the ascendants degree in ancient times, when there were no mechanisms? They used an astrolabe. It came from Greek meaning “an instrument for catching stars”. In accordance with this, any instrument used for observing stellar positions or latitudes could be called like that. Till the 10th century in the western Europe this word was used for armillary spheres, systems of rings which represented planetary and stars moving. A real astrolabe represented the projection of cosmic sphere onto the flat surface and this kind of astrolabe should be called a planispheric astrolabe in order to differ from other instruments with the same name. This kind of astrolabe was the most important observing instrument before the invention of telescope and it used not only for observing and measuring celestial positions but also for determining time, geographic latitudes, altitudes, distances and mundane houses. It might have been Ptolemaeus’ or Hipparchus’ invention. Of course, it was known to the ancient world. Apart from this kind of instrument, there were many other instruments which were used for calculating the time during the day such as a sun watches, solar instruments showing the time according to the position of solar shadow and clepsidra, water watches working like sand watches except that they had water instead of sand. Yet, Ptolemaeus insisted on an astrolabe as the most reliable instrument for calculating the exact time, that is, the first ascendant of Zodiac on east. In Tetrabiblos, the book III, item 2. entitled “Of the Degree of the Horoscopic Point” he said:
”It is often difficult to define the exact time of birth (it is the first and the most important fact). Generally speaking, only observing by means of horoscope astrolabes at the time of birth can give a moment of the hour by means of scientific observing, while practically all other horoscope instruments, on which the majority of the more careful practitioners rely, can often make an error.”
Author: Natasa Karalic Koprivica