20/20 hindsight: a horary about a missing ring

Earlier this week, I misplaced the ring I’d been wearing. (SPOILER: I found it two days later.) I looked in all the obvious places and didn’t find it, so I cast a horary chart. I still didn’t find the ring. There was no indication that the chart was incorrect, but it can be mighty difficult to interpret one correctly. As it turned out, this chart was correct, but I’m not sure I’d have ever figured it out if I hadn’t found the ring and was able to work my way back to the chart interpretation.

Horary chart for missing ring
Where is my silver Celtic trinity knot ring?

The considerations before judgment

The first step was to review the considerations before judgment and see if the chart was even likely to work. The Ascendant is neither in the first three degrees nor the last three degrees of its sign, so it was neither too early nor too late to do anything. The Moon is not in the Via Combusta (the span of the zodiac between 15° Libra and 15° Scorpio), nor is it void-of-course.

The fourth consideration is if Saturn is in the 7th house, or the cusp of the 7th house or its ruler is afflicted which would show that your astrologer (the professional you’re consulting, represented by the 7th house) will have difficulty answering the question. I’m asking my own question, so the consideration is if Saturn is in the 1st house or if the Ascendant or its ruler are afflicted. Saturn isn’t there, and the Ascendant looks fine. However, Mars, ruler of the 1st, is close to (conjunct) Saturn and squares Neptune. The former suggests blockages, the latter, confusion. And obviously I was having trouble interpreting this chart. Hmm.

But generally, there’s nothing in the considerations before judgment that say that the chart is a dud. So on to interpreting it!

Identifying the significator

The next step was to figure out which planet symbolized the ring. The usual suspects are the ruler of the 2nd house (movable possessions) or the ruler of the 4th house (buried treasure). But neither of these felt right. The ruler of the 2nd house is Jupiter. Now if my ring had been expensive and/or ornate, I would’ve gone with Jupiter, but this was a simple silver band with a knotwork design. It wasn’t expensive, and it didn’t have large stones or really intricate metalwork or anything that sounded as grand as Jupiter. The ruler of the 4th house is Saturn. I’ve never had a lost item horary chart where the ruler of the 4th house was the correct significator, perhaps because none of the items were really buried treasure. In this case, even if Saturn had been ruler of the 2nd house, I’d have hesitated to use it because Saturn doesn’t describe this ring. It’s not a burden or an obligation, it’s not ugly, it’s not made out of lead (!)—there’s nothing Saturnian about it.

There were two other options: Venus and the Moon. Venus is the natural ruler of jewelry. The Moon is the secondary ruler of lost items. I chose Venus, and this is where I went wrong. Since the Moon is the secondary significator of lost items in all lost item charts, I overlooked the fact that if it was the best planet to describe my ring, then it was probably the main significator in this chart. Or to put it another way, I’d gotten used to thinking of it as the option of last resort, if absolutely nothing else described the lost item at all, and since Venus did, albeit in a general way, I went with Venus. In practice, this wasn’t all that much different than if I’d gone with Jupiter. Both planets are in Virgo. Venus is in the 10th house, within 5° of the 11th house cusp, which could count as being in the 11th house; Jupiter was squarely in the 11th house. Briefly, from this I got that the ring would be in my home office (10th house) or guest room (11th house), which are the same room in my apartment. In Virgo, the ring would be close to or on the floor, or perhaps it had fallen into a box or drawer (entirely possible, given the state of my home office). And of course, it wasn’t.

The Moon did the best job of describing the ring, so it was the proper significator. It’s a silver ring, and the Moon rules silver. It has a trinity knot design, and the Moon has several associations with threes, such as its three visible phases (waxing, full, waning) and the Triple Goddess. This is still a general description, but it’s more specific than Venus’s rulership of all jewelry.

The Moon is in Aquarius in the 4th house. When you’re assigning chart houses to areas of a home, the 4th house represents the cellar or the basement. The Moon conjuncts the 4th house cusp, suggesting that the ring is close to the door. Aquarius is an air sign, which shows that the missing object is “high up, maybe on a shelf or hook.”* The last aspect the Moon had made was to Saturn, which is not only the ruler of the 4th house, but also of the 3rd house of neighbors. Because the contact between the Moon and Saturn had already happened before I asked the question, and the planets were separating from each other, a neighbor had already found the ring.

Finding the ring

Where was the ring? This apartment building doesn’t have a true basement (4th house), but the ground floor is two-thirds below ground level. The laundry room is the only room on the ground floor that I have access to, and I’d done laundry that morning. The ring was in the laundry room, hanging from a pushpin (Aquarius) on a bulletin board that’s just inside the laundry room by the door (Moon conjunct the 4th house cusp). A neighbor (Saturn) must have found it and pinned it up there. The previous aspect between the Moon and Saturn had been a flowing, easy aspect. Had it been a difficult aspect, it could have meant the neighbor had kept the ring. But then, I’d have never found it and we’d never know for certain.

Okay, even if I couldn’t find the ring by using the chart, it would have been nice—and less stressful!—to have known that I’d find it eventually.** Horary charts can tell you this, but technically, I’d asked where the ring was, not if I’d find it, so it wasn’t as strongly indicated in the chart. The best indicator I have, which I only learned after I’d found the ring, is Frawley’s observation that if the item’s significator conjuncts an angle, that increases the chances that you’ll get it back. And like I said, the Moon conjuncts the IC, one of the angles of the chart.

The ring is back, and there was a happy ending. And it was a learning experience. Here’s hoping I’ll have more success with future charts!


*John Frawley, The Horary Textbook (revised edition), p.174.

**I found the ring after a friend suggested checking the laundry room again, and it finally occurred to me to look at the bulletin board since other small items have been pinned there in the past.

H is for horary astrology

The best-known astrology nowadays is natal astrology. Its simplest form is the Sun-sign personality descriptions you’re probably familiar with. In its “unabridged” form, a professional astrologer creates a chart for the moment and place of your birth which can be used for insights into your life and personality, and is the basis for any predictive work the astrologer might offer. But natal astrology for the masses is fairly new, really coming into its own in the 20th and 21st centuries. For most of its history, astrology has been put to other, less individualized, uses. Electional astrology is used to choose the most auspicious time for an event. Mundane astrology is the study of world events, often based on the natal charts of nations and world leaders. And then there’s horary astrology: astrology as divination.

Horary astrology was my introduction to traditional astrology and its more events-oriented outlook. I had heard that traditional astrology saw everything in black-and-white, making no allowances for free will or personal growth. Stuff in a chart was either Good or Bad, and if too much of it was Bad, you were doomed. It turned out that where horary is concerned, most of those accusations are meaningless. See, when you’re doing natal astrology, you’re dealing with human beings who can choose actions, analyze their situations, learn and grow, or refuse to change, all over the course of a lifetime. But if you’re trying to find the keys you lost, they aren’t likely to express a lot of free will in the matter, you probably want to find them in less time than your entire life, and if they’re beyond recovery, you probably want to know that too. I could leave the debate between the concrete view and the psychological view for another time, and just focus on learning this radically different way to use astrology.

The horoscope of a question

So what is horary? Basically, instead of interpreting the birth chart of a person, you’re interpreting the birth chart of a question. The querent asks their question, and a chart is erected for the time and place of the question. Drawing on a body of “rules” that simply don’t apply to natal astrology, you work out which planets represent the various parts of the question. Then you interpret the relationship between those planets and look at their movements to get your answer.

An example: years ago, the dry cleaners lost the belt to a coat I had brought in to be cleaned. They thought it had gotten mixed in with someone else’s order and would be returned. I asked Will the dry cleaners find my belt?

horary chart for belt question
Will the dry cleaners find my belt?

Either Venus or Saturn could represent me. Venus was in Aries, a sign that it’s essentially incompatible with. Saturn in Gemini was doing better sign-wise, but it was in the eighth house of death and was also close to the star Alcyone, part of the Pleiades star cluster. As Anthony Louis writes in Horary Astrology Plain & Simple, “the weeping sisters give you something to cry about,” and Vivian Robson observes that the combination of Saturn and the Pleiades means “many losses.” I hadn’t even gotten to the planet for the belt yet, and already this wasn’t looking good. The dry cleaners? They were Jupiter in Gemini. Jupiter doesn’t like being in Gemini any better than Venus likes being in Aries: in plain English, the dry cleaners weren’t going to be of much help to me. The planet for the belt was Mars in Sagittarius in the third house. Mars is generally fine in Sagittarius, and the third house shows one’s local neighborhood—glad to know the belt was likely still in town!—but Mars was between the South Node (symbolizing loss) and Pluto (symbolizing death). As for the relationship between Mars and the planets representing me and the dry cleaners, there wasn’t one. Mars had already moved past its most recent connections with Venus, Jupiter and Saturn—we’d each of us had the belt in the past, but now it was leaving. It was headed towards another connection with Venus, but wouldn’t manage it before leaving Sagittarius, and so that wouldn’t count.

How did this play out in real life? I never saw the belt again. The dry cleaners (the people who weren’t able to help much) did pay for someone to make a new belt, but she couldn’t make it look like it had been meant to go with the coat. The coat didn’t work well without a belt and it looked odd with the new one. I wore it for a few more years, but never really liked it again. Something to cry about, indeed!

The right tool for the job, part 2: what and why

I think that different divination tools work better for different kinds of questions. That said, I don’t make this an absolute rule of my practice. Sure, it would be nice if I could always make the perfect pairing of tool and question, but I’m not equally experienced in all the tools I’ve tried and I certainly don’t have each of them available any time a question comes up. If the need exists, I figure you can get an answer from whatever oracle you can get your hands on. But if I can manage a better pairing of tool and question, I do. I see it as a way to stay flexible, since this nudges me into using a variety of tools rather than only reading tarot cards or only consulting the I Ching. And while it would be neat if I could simply list off the basic question words (who, what, where, when, why, how) and assign a divination tool or two to each, but no, my experience isn’t that nicely organized. I tend to ask the same sorts of questions over and over, and it’s my preferred questions that I’ve ended up matching to certain tools.

What’s going on? These are the situations in which I know something is bothering me, but I’m not sure what it is. For these sorts of questions, I prefer to pull out a pack of tarot cards and use a general purpose spread to give me an overview of the situation. I could also use runes for this, but if I’m truly trying to get my bearings in a situation, I want to cover as many options as possible, and 78 tarot cards give me more detail than 24 runes. Plus, I need all the help I can get trying to figure these things out, and I find the pictures on tarot cards to be more stimulating to my imagination/intuition than bare runes.

What should I do? When I have a pretty good grasp of the situation itself but want solid advice about it, I turn to the I Ching. Since the I Ching is written text, not pictures, I find its advice and commentary comparatively straightforward even if the translation I’m using leans towards the abstract. Do this. Doing that would be ill-advised. No one is to blame for this situation. The wise person acts in this way in a situation like this.

Where is it? This category is a little different because I only started asking these questions after I found the right tool rather than the other way around. I used to not ask lost item questions because I couldn’t imagine being able to interpret a tarot spread or rune casting well enough to get a meaningful answer. And then I learned about horary astrology. Horary astrology is astrology as divination: a chart is drawn up for the time and place of a question and then interpreted according to certain rules. If the question is “Where is [item]?” the chart can be interpreted as a description of where the lost item is and if the querent will ever find it. I admit my success is rather hit-or-miss with this, although I’m still proud of using a horary chart to locate one of my entries in the state fair knitting competition one year.

Yes/no. For years, no matter what divination tool I was learning about, yes/no questions were discouraged. I suspect this was part of a broader view that held that divination was to be used for personal growth and self-understanding, and that yes/no questions encouraged querents to focus on the material aspects of a situation. When I did come up with a yes/no question, not only did I have overcome that discouragement, but I wasn’t sure what kind of divination to perform. I’d heard that pendulums were good for yes/no questions, but I have no affinity for pendulums. There were systems out there that used the tarot or runes, usually variations on comparing numbers of upright cards to reversed, but they seemed stiff and artificial to me. I’m still not comfortable using the tarot or runes for these questions, but I think the I Ching or horary astrology work well. The I Ching is not shy about labeling actions good or bad, and horary charts show whether the different elements of a question will come together or not, which pretty much shows yes or no. And of course, a divination may tell you more than that. Once I asked “Will So-and-so get the [job]?” and drew up a horary chart. Not only did I get a “no” but a description of the person who did eventually get the job.