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John's "Aha!" Page

This is a new page, started in March 2014, so there's not a great deal here as yet. It will gradually build into an archive of notes of explanation and discovery. The further additions mentioned in the introduction to the revised edition of The Horary Textbook will appear here.


Antiscia and things hidden - Posted on July 21st, 2014

My students often get hung up on the idea that whatever is shown by antiscia must be something hidden or secret. This is not so. It can be hidden or secret – but this is only if the context allows such a meaning. If the context does not allow it, whatever is shown by antiscia can be quite as overt as anything else. If an antiscion is what shows that the cat will come home, this does not mean that Puss will turn up in disguise.


Cazimi in competitions - Posted on July 14th, 2014

A student asked the horary ‘Will Argentina win the World Cup?’ He did not identify with Argentina – the question was not ‘Will we win?’ – so they are shown by Lord 7: any old person. Lord 7 was cazimi.

In most questions on competition, such as ‘Will A beat B?’, a significator cazimi would be a clear ‘Yes’ for that player or team. It would take a remarkable accumulation of contrary testimonies to out-gun that.

But in a question about open competition, one team against everybody else, this is not so. A planet cazimi is likened to a man raised up to sit beside the king. But if this is so, that man is by definition not the king. So in this case what the cazimi gives us is a clear astrological picture of ‘close but no cigar’.


Property rights - Posted on July 1st, 2014

A student asks about a horary where the querent has a long-term lease on a property and is now in dispute with the state, which owns the property. Is the property shown by the querent’s 4th or the 4th from the 10th (property of the government)?

It's not necessary for the person to have any kind of legal ownership of the property: it is still 'his' property, so it is shown by his 4th house. This is the whole point of the distinction between 2nd-house property, such as my computer, and 4th-house property, such as the house in which I live. 4th-house property is not really our possession, and no amount of legal documentation can change this. The idea is that if I can't move it around I cannot in any meaningful way be said to own it; I just have the temporary use of it. It makes no difference whether the querent has bought the property, or is leasing it, renting it, or squatting in it: it is his 4th house. The stars have no interest in our legal documents.


Sports issues - Posted on June 21st, 2014

There are two problems with sports predictions that come up again and again. One is with using the method of predicting matches from the time of the event, as I described in chapter 2 of Sports Astrology. I wrote there that the method works better the more singular is the game. For the finals of competitions it works excellently; for routine league fixtures it works no better than random. If you insist on using the method where I’ve said it doesn’t work, please don’t be surprised when you find it doesn’t work. Note also that a league match is a league match is a league match. It is no more singular because it is the last game of the season, or between Barca and Real, or between the two teams vying for the championship.

The second common problem is with horaries, especially on tennis matches. If the querent strongly identifies with one team in a match, that team can be given the 1st house and its enemies the 7th. It’s simple: if you support the team you would say ‘We won’ or ‘We lost’. Hence 1st house. Students are reluctant to accept how rare it is for someone to have that level of identification with e.g. a tennis player. You would not say ‘We won’ or ‘We lost’ after a tennis match. Consider the difference. You could have been following your team since you were 5. When you were 5 your favourite tennis player was probably not born. You follow the team regardless of players and managers coming and going. The team is ‘we’ when it wins the championship; it is still ‘we’ 10 years later, when it has been relegated to the minor leagues. Your tennis-player will not be ‘we’ in 10 years’ time, when she is playing for fun in her local park. Yes, you can give the player of an individual sport the 1st house, as ‘we’, but don’t expect to get the judgements right if you do.


Which house shows a classmate? - Posted on May 30th, 2014

A querent asked about ‘a former classmate’, which raises the interesting question of where we locate a classmate in the chart. That the querent described him as a classmate clearly rules out the 11th house. The astrological concept of friendship is something much more limited, much more precious, than that in common English usage. If you aren’t sure if the person is your friend, the person is not your friend. The classmate could be 7th house, as a workmate would be, the workmate being regarded as your equal in the working situation. But while we don’t choose our individual workmates there is yet an element of choice involved, in that we choose to work in this place or that place, which does not apply to a classmate. Classmates are more a part of our natural environment, like our brothers and sisters. For that reason, I would take the classmate as 3rd house, like an extended version of a sibling.


‘When will I sell my house?’- Posted on April 22nd, 2014

I’m reluctant to accept such questions if the house is not yet on the market. ‘When will I sell it?’ ‘After you start trying to sell it,’ is a little pointless. In such cases it makes more sense to ask the question about whatever it is that determines when the house will be offered for sale: ‘When can I retire?’ ‘When will the kids leave home?’ ‘When will the market pick up?’ etc.


Wars and rumours of wars. - Posted on April 6th, 2014

That truth is indeed the first casualty of war makes any astrological investigation of these events, whether through horary or mundane astrology, particularly difficult. We rarely have any solid ground of understanding on which to build our judgement. Hundreds of years after a war historians still argue their radically different interpretations of what went on and why, so it’s no surprise that what the media tell us about what is happening now rarely has much connection with the truth. Discussing such a situation with one of the biggest names in front-line journalism, I was surprised less by his lack of knowledge of what was happening than by his sublime lack of interest in what was happening, caring only for whatever snippets of information could be turned to support his Walt Disney view of events. We might expect that the astrologer who is close to the seat of power would have a clearer picture, but this is not so either, for the one who is nominally in that driving-seat is often quite as much the baffled passenger as are the rest of us, carried blindly along by the tide.

This makes the choice of significators difficult. If my country is going to war and I am asking a question about it, my country will be shown by the 1st house, as ‘us’. This regardless of my views on the matter. But although my country is ‘us’ the guys we’re shooting at are not necessarily our enemy. We may have no concern with them at all, but be shooting at them in order to exert pressure on whomever really is our enemy. A student asked if the outbreak of war would be shown by an aspect between the two significators. In itself, no: an aspect could just as well show a negotiated settlement.

The question of who will win is not as straightforward as judging a contest horary. If I score 3 goals and you score 2, I have won: simple. War is often not so simple, because it is rarely war a l’outrance. My student was asking about Ukraine. This is less a matter of ‘Will Russia win?’ than of ‘Will Russia get what it wants?’ But what does it want? Mr Putin does not wear his intentions on his sleeve – if, indeed, he knows them himself. It is, for instance, not uncommon for states to engineer a foreign war in order to quell discontent at home. Or following Machiavelli’s advice that the state, like the human body, needs to let blood from time to time to keep itself in health.

We must be particularly careful to avoid prejudging the question by our choice of significators: see the discussion on questions about alcoholism in The Horary Textbook, Revised Edition for more on this trap. My student, who is Russian, was asking if the south-east of Ukraine would join Russia. But what is the south-east of Ukraine? Is it part of a neighbouring country? Something that belongs to the enemy? A part of his own country presently controlled by his country’s neighbours? or by his country’s enemy? Or is it simply a pawn in a much larger game?


‘Here’ is not necessarily where I am right now. - Posted on April 3rd, 2014

It depends entirely upon the question. I don't have to be in my house for it to be my house: whether I am at home, in the mall, or visiting Japan, my house remains my house.If I'm in a hotel in Tokyo and ask what the weather will be, I'm asking about 'here': so the 1st house will show Tokyo, not the place where I live. Or if I ask 'Where is my passport?' the significator in the 1st would not indicate that I had left it at home. But if I'm in Tokyo and ask 'Should I continue to live in Poland or move back to England?' Poland would be 1st house. If I hear that my flight has been delayed and ask 'When will I get home?' I would be looking at the 1st house to show my home. Or if my wife phones to tell me the cat has gone missing and I ask the question 'When will she come back?' Lord 6 applying to Asc would show Puss coming home, not coming to my hotel.


Bewitchment is not necessarily a 12th-house matter. - Posted on March 7th, 2014

So don’t be in a hurry to run to the 12th when the querent speaks of such. For example, as Shakespeare tells us, ‘what a hell of witchcraft lies/ In the small orb of one particular tear!’ (Lover’s Complaint, 288-9). That I may feel myself bewitched does not mean that somebody has deliberately put a spell upon me.


Enough, already! - Posted on February 25th, 2014

With medical matters perhaps more than with questions on any other topic it’s important to remember the general rule: answer the question, then stop! We have no reason to assume that the stars will answer questions that have not been asked, so if I’m asking about my headaches I will not also find a diagnosis for my indigestion. Fail to do this and you’ll find that every querent is suffering from every illness known to man.


The Accuracy of Data - Posted on July 4th, 2014

A question from a student about one of Worsdale’s example charts prompts me to post this important reminder: even though we are doing astrology, we are still allowed to use our common sense!

I am not suggesting that Worsdale’s book should be taken as a manual of astrological technique – see the note on it on the Recommended Reading page here – but I find my students learn from pulling some of his examples apart. The chart in question is that of John Davison, on page 266 in my edition.

Worsdale gives the time of birth as 6.48 pm. This time ‘was given to me by his parents’ after the boy had drowned, at age 17. Was it really, Mr Worsdale? The chance that the parents had the means to know the exact minute of the child’s birth in that day is a slender one. Even had they such means, the chance they would have thought the exact minute of birth worth the trouble of recording, especially amid the chaos of the birthing-room, is more slender still. There is no way in the world that they would have told Worsdale ‘He was born at 12 minutes to 7’. If they were particularly pedantic they might have said ‘at quarter to’. More likely ‘a bit before 7’ or ‘around 7’. So what we have here is either Worsdale’s guess or Worsdale’s rectification. It is not the time given him by the parents.

Nor, by any means, is this a problem found only in old books. Take, as a random example, the chart of Roy Horn, as given by AstroDataBank. The time of birth is 23.57, ‘from memory’. We can take it that young Master Horn did not glance at the clock in the instant he emerged from his mother’s womb, so it is not from his memory. It would be what he was told by his family. But unless his parents were astrologers, they would not have told him ‘You were born at 3 minutes to midnight’. At the very limits of fussiness they might have said ‘a bit before midnight’. Most likely simply ‘at midnight’. The time given, then, is not ‘from memory’ at all, but is a silent rectification. And a silent rectification (by whom??) is even less reliable than a known one.


Revolutions: A background note, perhaps of interest. Posted on April 11th, 2014

It was the fashion among historians for almost a century to describe the events in the England of Lilly’s day as revolution: the Puritan Revolution, the English Revolution(s), etc. Like so many of the terms with which we define the past, such as Renaissance or Enlightenment, this was an invention of the late 19th century. It was coined by SR Gardiner, though he seems to have thought better of it by the time he wrote his History of the Great Civil War. It was then picked up first by literary historians and then by the Marxists, such as Christopher Hill, who liked to see these events as the blueprint for the storming of the Winter Palace.There were plenty who liked the idea of radical change: ‘When Adam delved and Eve span/Who was then the gentleman?’ as the rhyme went – much the same as ‘We are stardust, we are golden/And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden’. But it was only at the very end of this period that the word revolution was beginning to carry something of its primary modern meaning. For Lilly’s contemporaries the primary meaning of revolution was the regular movement of the planets, whether in the specific sense or, more often, in the broader sense of ‘the way things change over time’. With, of course, the general implication of ‘Oh my God, what now!’ If you had said to Lilly, ‘Hey Bill, we need a revolution!’ while he might well have agreed with your meaning, he would not have known what you were talking about.

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