There are many branches of astrology besides natal astrology, which most people are familiar with. They all deal with the birth or beginning of something. While natal astrology more broadly deals with the birth of a person, horary astrology deals with the birth of a specific question. Will I get the job? Will I get back together with my ex? Where the fuck are my keys? Are there problems with the car I want to buy? The language and the techniques used are pretty much the same since these are both branches of astrology but there's a difference in how they're applied. This post is going to cover some of these differences.
Asking a Valid Question
The first and most important thing in horary is asking a valid question. Other forms of divination like tarot have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to asking questions but horary questions have to be specific. One of the main reasons for this is that the entire chart isn't going to be relevant, only the areas that deal with the question are important. So, what makes a valid question?
· Is it verifiable? Horary questions have to have an outcome that can be observed. If you ask "where are my keys" and the horary says they're under your kitchen table, you can check that. If you ask "should I take this job" there's no way to check if whatever answer the horary gave you was correct. Under what conditions would you or would you not take the job? Instead, you could ask "will I be able to advance at this new job?" As a general rule all "should" questions are invalid. If you're going to an astrologer for a horary they can help you rephrase your question if needed so don't stress it too much.
· Has the question been asked before? If you have used any form of divination to ask the question already then it's invalid. If you ask your tarot reader "am I going to get back with my ex" then go to your astrologer and ask the same thing then you're wasting your money and the horary won't be accurate. Think of it like asking one parent for something, they tell you "no," then you go ask your other parent and they tell you "yes." They're going to find out, you're going to be in trouble, and the answer is sure as hell gonna be "no" now. The universe isn't going to punish you for asking twice but it might fuck with you a little by giving a bullshit answer. The universe said what it said and if you aren't ready to accept the answer you get, even if you don't like it, then you have no business asking in the first place. There's no shame in saying you really don't want to know. I rarely ever do horary for myself cause I know I just want validation, not an answer.
The only exception to this is if the situation has significantly changed. This would be like asking if you're going to get back with your ex, they're already dating someone else and you get told no. Then asking if you're going to get back with your ex once they're single and they started texting you again. Same question but the situation is significantly different. You can also get a second opinion on a horary that has already been asked, just use the same chart.
· Is it important? Whether something is important or not is subjective but it has to be important to you, the person asking the question. If I went to the grocery store and couldn't remember if I needed eggs or not it would be pretty frivolous to ask "do I still have eggs at home." Divination used to be a lot more difficult so it was natural that people would be invested in their question. You would have to travel to find someone that could do it then they would have to cast the chart manually. Just because you can whip out your phone and cast a chart doesn't mean you always should. Your investment in the question is what connects you to it. It's kinda like how your birth chart doesn't show what you ate for breakfast yesterday. It's just not that important.
Also note that if you're trying to mind somebody else's business that really ain't got shit to do with you then that's not important either. If I cast a chart asking whether my barber's second cousin that I've never met is going to marry their current partner that ain't got shit to do with me. If I cast a chart asking whether my brother is going to marry his current partner then that's arguably relevant enough to me to be valid.
Casting the Chart
Yes, there are even different rules for casting the chart. A horary chart is cast for the birth of a question but the logistics of that are a lot more vague than a person being born. I'm just gonna keep going with bullets cause fuck it, it's Virgo season.
· Location - A question isn't a physical thing so how do we know where it's happening? Well, since we know that there are invalid questions we could say the location is where the valid question is formed. If you're going to an astrologer for a horary then 9 times out of 10 the astrologer will use their own location. To compare it to natal astrology, the moment when the question pops in your head is like conception. The baby exists but it isn't fully formed and out in the world yet. If you don't know anything about horary or asking a valid question then you're basically taking it to an astrologer to deliver it. In this instance the astrologer's location is like the hospital where you were born. The exception to this is if you already know how to ask valid a valid question yourself. Maybe you go to your astrologer for horary pretty frequently and know the rules by now or maybe you've studied horary some yourself but just don't feel comfortable interpreting it. This would be like a home birth and you take the baby to the doctor later for a checkup.
· Time - If you're birthing your question at home and you're able to get it fully formed and out in the world then you can use the time you decided to ask it. If you're taking your question to an astrologer to deliver it then they will use the time that they understand the question. They aren't going to use the time you emailed them or booked their services. I usually have to help people rephrase their question which requires me to clarify what exactly it is that they want to ask. The moment when I understand exactly what you're asking is the moment the question is born.
· House System - This is a bit more technical. The majority of astrologers use some sort of quadrant house system for horary like Placidus, even those astrologers who use whole sign houses for everything else. The reason for this is that there are certain horary techniques that use house cusps which don't exist in whole sign houses. For example, in Placidus your ascendant is the cusp between the 1st house and the 12th house. In whole sign houses the houses are simply determined by the beginning and end of a sign so your ascendant itself is a floating point and the entire sign that it's in is the 1st house. However, there are astrologers that use whole sign houses for horary and I'm one of them. You can use whatever you feel most comfortable with because I, and others, have gotten accurate answers from horary with whole sign houses.
Interpreting the Chart
Interpreting a horary chart requires a huge shift in approach and perspective if you have only worked with natal astrology before. Don't worry, it's not that difficult, it just takes some getting used to. It's kind of like the difference between writing a story and writing a scientific paper. The language, astrology, is the same but the format is different.
· Significators - Remember how I said only certain parts of a horary are relevant and not the whole thing? Well, significators are how we find out which parts of the chart are important. There are a few different ways to find the significator (the planet that represents a particular thing) for whatever you're asking about. The first method is to use the planet that rules the relevant house. For example, the planet that rules the 1st house is always the significator of the querent (the person asking the question). If I cast a horary asking "where is my cat" and the chart has a Leo rising then that means the sun represents me. Using whole sign houses, Leo rising would put Capricorn in the 6th house. The 6th house rules pets, Saturn rules Capricorn, so my cat would be signified by Saturn.
The second method is to use what's called the "natural significator" which would be the planet that generally rules the thing you're asking about regardless of what house it rules in the chart. An example of this would be asking "where is my necklace" in which case you could use Venus as the significator for the necklace since Venus naturally rules beautiful things like jewelry. Choosing what significators to use is a judgment call based on what is most relevant to the question.
You have to study to know what house or planet is the most relevant. Even if you're a professional astrologer that has been doing natal consultations for decades you might not know that the 5th house signifies representation by another i.e. ambassadors or real estate agents. This kind of specificity is what makes horary such a valuable branch of study even if it's not your main interest.
· The Moon - The moon in a horary has a much different role than in natal astrology. The moon is the fastest moving "planet" and in a horary it's kinda like a spotlight. A spotlight shows where the action is happening on stage and that's basically what the moon does. The last aspect the moon is separating from is like the previous circumstances that lead up to the question being asked. If you were looking for a lost object then the moon's last separating aspect would indicate how the object may have been lost. The past is nice for context but the most important thing is the moon's next applying aspect. What's happening in the future? Where are events leading? The moon can also be used as "the co-significator of all things" which is honestly kind of annoying in a discipline that relies on specificity but suffice it to say the moon is important in every. single. horary.
· Aspects - Aspects are how you get your answer! Ideally, you want a positive aspect (sextile or trine) between the significator for the querent (person asking the question) and the quesited (the thing they're asking about). If there's a square between the significators then that generally means "yes, but it will be difficult." If there's an opposition between the significators then that generally means "it will take a great deal of effort and you'll probably regret it." If there is no aspect between the significators (we only use major Ptolemaic aspects, no biquintile bullshit) then the answer is no. There are other ways you can get a positive answer without an aspect between the two significators like translation of light but that's more advanced.
· Timing - There is a way to see how long it will take the events of a question unfold. You basically take the number of degrees between the two significators making an exact aspect or the degrees between the moon and one of the significators making an exact aspect. The difficulty is that the horary can use either symbolic time or literal time. Literal time would be when the aspect you're looking at goes exact, or "perfects," as you would see in an ephemeris. This is when the aspect literally perfects in the sky, real time.
Symbolic time would take the number of degrees between the two significators perfecting and assign a unit of time based on symbolism. Let's say you have a positive answer indicated by an applying aspect that is 3° from perfecting. We know the timing is going to be 3 units of time but is it going to be hours, days, weeks, months, years? You would determine which unit of time you're working with by whether the significators are in angular, succedent, or cadent houses and whether they're in cardinal, mutable, or fixed signs. Angular houses and cardinal signs are fastest. Succedent houses and mutable signs are in the middle. Cadent houses and fixed signs are the slowest. You also have to use common sense. If someone asks "will I get the job I interviewed for" and the answer is positive but everything is cadent or fixed it's still not going to be years from now. If someone asks "will my partner and I get married" then that's something you can more reasonably assume will operate on a larger time frame.
· Direction - There are also ways to tell the direction something is in. I'm not getting into all that but I felt like I should at least mention that it is in fact a thing. It is not a thing I am good at but a thing nonetheless lol.
That's it, that's the basics. As of September 13th, 2020 when I'm writing this I consider myself a competent beginner with horary. I have no desire to make horary my main focus and to be honest I really don't enjoy it. That being said, I still plan to continue studying, practicing, and offering it to clients because it has been so incredibly enriching for the rest of my astrological practice. I really can't stress enough just how much horary has sharpened my focus and chart reading skills. So, even if you're like me and horary isn't really your thing but you're passionate about astrology then it's worth the time and effort to learn! Or if you just lose shit a lot.