This article is an excerpt from my book Horary Astrology – Your Ultimate Horary Textbook with 124 Example Cases (available in paperback at Amazon)
The time of the question is that moment when we feel a strong need to get an answer to a question. It’s very important that we write the question down – word for word, since many mistakes in interpretation are due to the fact that questions are not clearly expressed. If the querent is someone else than ourselves, it’s even more important that the question is formulated as clearly as possible. This way we avoid misunderstandings – as has been explained in the first chapter of this book.
Next we write down the date and exact time of the question. If we are our own astrologers, we’ll obviously do that as we know how important this is – except, of course, if we have no watch at hand or if our question is such a burning one that we can’t figure when it was that we first thought of it. The time also presents no dilemma if astrologer and the querent talk face to face, on the phone or through other means of direct electronic communication.
The problem of the right time of the question can occur if the question was posed in a letter, either conventional or electronic. Most modern horary astrologers believe that a horary chart should be cast for the moment when the astrologer reads (or hears) and understands the question. Thus a link between the querent and astrologer is established and this is supposed to be the “magical moment” when the question really comes to life and is ready to be “divined”.
Now, think. An urgent question pops up in the mind of the querent and he feels a strong desire to get the answer, so he rings up his astrologer. But, alas, the astrologer does not answer, so he leaves a message on the answering machine, or sends him an IM, email or similar. There’re many ways to leave a message nowadays. But when is his astrologer going to read his question? Well, it depends on the time he’ll spend in the toilet! (Utterly banal, yes, but also utterly serious.) If the astrologer hears (or reads) and understands the question within a few minutes or even within half an hour after the message was sent, the ascendant of the chart created for the question will be close to that at the time of asking, but if half an hour or more elapse, it will probably already be in the next sign and indications in the horary chart will be significantly different from those at the time of asking. So, which time is more correct?
Not only logic, but my long-standing practice and research have convinced me that the true time of a horary question is the time when the question is “born” in the mind of the querent – felt, brought to consciousness, expressed, written down. The question “belongs” to the querent, not to the astrologer! The “heavens” have an answer ready for any question “born” at any time and place, regardless of astrologers who cast charts. What’s more, those answers are ready regardless of any conscious realization of any person that they can be arrived at by means of horary astrology. Remember that astrologers didn’t invent the rules of cosmos, they’re just decoding them.
But ever since the possibility of divination was discovered, we have querents and astrologers. A person feeling a need for an answer can put his question forward to an astrologer or try to find the answer himself (if he’s an astrologer), or, not knowing that questions can be answered by horary astrology, try to find other means of getting the answer, or else – simply drop the question and wait until the situation resolves by itself.
Guido Bonatti, a famous Italian astronomer and astrologer of the 13th century, instructs the astrologer to cast the chart “as soon as he can, accurately, immediately, without any delay or any length of interval, once the words leave the mouth of the one asking about the matter” (Liber astronomiae, Treatise 6 – Questions, Chapter 2). The original time of the question was even so “sacred” to him that in Chapter 2 of the same treatise, dealing with the dilemma of an astrologer’s asking “for himself”, he writes: “Indeed, after the other person were to understand his question, he would be able to look for himself, and answer his own question, or he may give his own question to another (whether in writing or not) – naturally to such a person who is concerned about his matter. And he may offer it on his own behalf after he has posed it, when he wishes.” He continues by saying that “he” (the second, third or fourth astrologer) may even wait for a certain sign and make that be the ascendant of the question, but note how important it was to him that the original question was asked again by the new astrologer, empathizing with the querent, so as to really get the “right” moment for casting the chart. He didn’t simply cast it for the time he received the question! (I’m stressing this because I’ve read an article by a well-known contemporary astrologer who, unfortunately, misinterpreted Bonatti’s writings in this part.)
In his famous book Christian Astrology (Of The Time of receiving Any Question) William Lilly states: “Without doubt the true houre of receiving any question is then, when the Querent propounds his desire unto the Astrologer, even that very moment of time, in my opinion, is to be accepted.” He continues by saying that if he receives a question in a letter, he casts the chart for the moment when he breaks it open and perceives the intention of the querent. Such proceeding directly contradicts his statement of “the Querent propounding his desire unto the Astrologer”, but he obviously saw this to be the only option, so he went with it – and even found it successful. “This way and manner have I practiced, and found successe answerable,” he writes. Unfortunately, he doesn’t say which example charts in his book were created for the times when he received the questions in person and which stood for the times when he received them in a letter. It’s likely, though, that he received a vast majority of questions personally, as postal services were just being introduced in England in his days, so there’s no logic in believing that this was his daily practice.
But the fact is that his system of taking the time of “receiving and understanding the question” was strictly followed and adhered to by most modern horary astrologers who have learned their discipline from his books. Olivia Barclay, my personal tutor at The Qualifying Horary Practitioner’s Course, was among them, so it’s understandable that in the beginning of my studies I followed suit. I changed my approach only after realizing that it (mainly) gave false results. I found – as I hope to prove to the reader by several examples in the practice part of this book – that best results are given by charts cast for the exact times when the questions are truly “propounded” (thought of, put forward, expressed).
And yet – can we deny the correctness of any approach, given the evidence that it works? Of course not. Correct answers to the questions by themselves justify the techniques and approaches of the astrologer. But how many are there, really? In none of the several horary books that I have read do astrologers state in what manner they received the question! Many claim that they use the above mentioned approach successfully, but I’m leaving it to them to prove their point, as I am proving mine.
Still, let’s assume that they’re right. What would be the logical premise behind that? The only one seems to be the one set forth by Guido Bonatti – a question indirectly received can only be answered by an astrologer who feels an affinity with it. Only such attitude could, logically speaking, result in an astrologer opening the letter (whether conventional or electronic) at a time that would be synchronized with the nature and the aim of the question.
But why should we torture ourselves by such tedious and doubtful proceedings in cases when the time of the question is known? Lilly obviously used this approach only when there was no other way to get to the original time of the question. But, hey, it’s a whole new world today! A very large majority of people don’t use “snail mail” for personal correspondence any more. They use phones and electronic mail which precisely record the time of all communications.
But let us dig deeper. Nowadays, astrology students often post questions on astrology forums, asking professionals and more experienced colleagues for help. If it was true that the “right” time of a question is when the astrologer reads and understands it, then all forum members who wanted to help would have to cast their own charts which would, of course, vary substantially, not just because they’d read them at various times but also because they live all around the world, in locations belonging to various time zones. “Hi there, my American friend, I’m back from holiday and I see that a week ago you asked this question, I’ve just read and understood it, I’m in Paris, it’s ten to two p.m. and this is the chart I have cast for your question …” Just think of the confusion if, say, 25 different charts were produced by 25 different astrologers! But such confusion actually does exist and this is one of the reasons why horary astrology nowadays tends to regress instead of progress.
It’s obvious, therefore, that to get the right chart, reflecting the true nature of the question and offering clear, unambiguous grounds for delineation, querents should always provide the exact data (time and place) for their question.
The problem, however, can occur when the querent is a layman and doesn’t know the rules of horary astrology, so that he poses a question without providing the time when the question arose in his mind. But there’ s solution to that too, at least in modern times. As already mentioned, nowadays we usually receive questions via phone or electronic communicaton (emails, IM-s, forums, chatrooms etc.). Those media nearly always record the time of receiving bits of communications. As for emails – we usually receive them only a second after they’ve been sent to us (except those which pass through several servers as is sometimes the case), but if after a couple of days the information dissapears from the main email window, it’s easy to retrieve it: open the mail, go to “More” and click “Show original” – there’re the date and the exact time of sending, but note that the recorded time is the clock time at the location from which the mail had been sent, so don’t forget to adjust the information. It should be easy to ask the querent about his whereabouts at the time when he posed the question.
It’s true, of course, that the time of sending the letter might not be the same time that the question popped up in the mind of the querent – although this usually is the case. If not, we just have to educate our clients that they should note down the exact time of any question, as this is the only way to assure the relevance of a horary chart. (It’s a tedious job, but it’s worth the trouble.)
Astrologers who still receive questions from clients by classic mail, will probably not be able to produce meaningful and relevant horary charts, except if they proceed as described in the above paragraphs, so that – guided by a strong desire to help – they cast their own charts for any moment that they find “propitious”, or trust that the “sky” led them to open the letter at the time when it “offered assistance”.
I used to solve this problem so that I asked the clients who posed questions in classical letters, to note down the exact time and place of their questions. If they didn’t, I told them that due to lack of information I can’t answer their question, or I turned to other predictive techniques.
As for the place of question – we always use the coordinates of the querent’s location, which in turn demands to also use their times and time zones, of course. In other words, create the chart as if at the time of asking you were in the querent’s mind and body.