An Astrology Toronto Event – May 10, 2014
A Workshop with Alanna Morgan
Northern District Library
40 Orchardview Blvd., Room 200,
Toronto, Ontario
William Lilly

We will be exploring the character and destiny of William Lilly in the light of his birth chart and illustrated with stories from his very eventful life. The second half of the workshop will be an introduction to the techniques of horary astrology, as delineated in Lilly’s classic 17th century text, Christian Astrology.

The Life and Legacy of William Lilly

Join me on a journey to the 17th century to celebrate the life of an extraordinary man who left us a wealth of wise and elegant teaching on the divine art of horary astrology. William Lilly, the most influential astrologer of his time, was born in the spring of 1602 in “an obscure town” in Central England to a family of yeoman farmers. Although it was rare at that time for a farmer’s son to be educated, Lilly’s mother determined from infancy that young William was born to be a scholar and so should receive as good an education as she could provide. So it was thanks to his mother, Alice, that a farmer’s son from “a town of great rudeness” was given an excellent training in the classics, including Greek and Latin.

Lilly proved himself a stellar student, consistently at the top of his class. His ambition had been to go into the Church, but when his family fell upon hard times due to his father’s mismanagement, Lilly was obliged to leave school at the age of 16. Being ill-suited to the life of a farmer – “useless” his father said – young Lilly set off at the age of 17 to make his living in London. For the next seven years he worked as a scribe and assistant for an intelligent but illiterate businessman who treated him well and was well served in return. Lilly was far from “useless” when it came to life in London. He took to city life like a fish to water and seemed more than capable of turning his hand to any challenge that life threw at him.

The Making of a Master Astrologer
Not long after his Saturn Return, Lilly found himself in a financial position to be able to devote himself to the study of the subject which had become his passion. His fluency in the classical languages was a great boon for pursuing the study of astrology in the 17th century. It meant that he didn’t have to depend on the unreliable translations of the time to gain access to the wisdom contained in the ancient Greek and Latin astrology texts. In 1647, Lilly’s Christian Astrology became the first astrology textbook ever published in the English language. This classic horary textbook continues to educate a growing number of horary astrologers in the 21st century. Horary astrology, once ridiculed by modern astrologers, is quickly becoming a staple technique in the astrological toolbox.

The Birth Chart
As we look at Lilly’s nativity we will be asking what motivated and supported such an extraordinary life? What qualities did Lilly possess which enabled him to be so successful as a consulting astrologer and influential as author of the most popular astrological almanacs of his time? At the height of his career, Lilly answered as many as 2,000 horary questions a year, “for a fee of half-a-crown, and soon attracted a stream of clients from all classes of society.” In his instructions in Christian Astrology, he advises that students of astrology, “be humane, courteous, familiar to all, easy of access …” William Lilly was all of these things, and so he prospered as a horary astrologer who welcomed all comers to his consulting room in the Corner House near the Strand.

Jupiter’s Child
The singular good fortune to be born to a mother who against the odds made sure that her son received a classical education – can be attributed in large part to the major role that Jupiter plays in Lilly’s chart. Pisces is rising so Jupiter is his chart ruler. Sagittarius on the Midheaven points to Jupiter as the primary player in regard to his mother’s contribution in preparing him for his career as a master astrologer. Jupiter’s placement in the 7th house hints at the wealth he was to inherit as a result of his marriages. Lilly’s third wife in particular was, in his estimation, the very personification of Jupiter. About Ruth Needham he wrote, “she is signified in my nativity by Jupiter in Libra; and she is so totally in her conditions, to my great comfort.” He was very happily married to Ruth for the last 26 years of his life.

Part II: Introduction to Horary Astrology

“I did conceive the good angels of God did first reveal astrology unto mankind.”

Before we begin the briefest of introductions to a complex methodology – how to cast and read horary astrology charts – I want to talk a bit about the spiritual culture of the 17th century, how it affected Lilly’s work as an astrologer and what it means for us today. In Lilly’s day astrologers continued, as they had for centuries, to seek the advice of angels, who they saw as messengers of God. And you didn’t mess with the angels. In Lilly’s experience, angelic fury could manifest as a ferocious wind which, if left unappeased, would be powerful enough to decimate a cathedral. It was not for themselves that the angels were furious but because the proper respect had not been observed in summoning them as messengers of the Divine.

A similar admonition attends the practice of horary astrology today. It probably applies to all astrology but I am focused here on its relevance to horary in particular. Lilly made prayers to particular angels at particular times over a period of time as a part of his preparation for becoming an astrologer. In the workshop I’d like to discuss the different ways we in the 21st century keep ourselves respectful of those guiding forces which watch over the practice of astrology.

Join me on May 10 and prepare to be illuminated by the brilliance of William Lilly and amazed at the elegance of the divine art of horary astrology.


The writer in me loves to gaze at astrology charts the way some of us gaze at clouds, watching to see what images will emerge from the hieroglyphics of the sky. Astrological symbols are full of love and quantum-rich with symbolism. They are all signposts to a celestial body or part of the sky.


January 30: I don’t know about you but I’m noticing a rash of nitpicking going on “out there” today, which probably means I’m doing a little interior nitpicking myself which would explain how loooooooooooong 20 minutes of meditation was this morning. Nitpicking seems to be a flavour of the day, for which we have a few suspects, prime among them Jupiter’s station in Gemini about which I was so encouraging yesterday. It’s true in the long run that most of us feel a lot better under a direct Jupiter than a retrograde one, so Jupiter’s return to direct motion for the next 9 months was certainly something to cheer about. But of course nothing exists in a vacuum.

For instance, the Sun is square Saturn today and that’s one unhappy customer. And the Moon is in Virgo, a sign which can be an Olympic class nitpicker. But the thing is that JUPITER IS STATIONING TODAY WHICH MEANS HE GETS TO TALK REALLY LOUD. So he’s a prime suspect today when it comes to making his feelings known. Being in Gemini is hard on Jupiter because Gemini is a magpie whose eye is caught by every shiny object, but Gemini is not so great when it comes to standing back and seeing the big picture. This makes Jupiter uncomfortable because the biggest planet is all about the big picture. So let’s help Jupiter out by connecting the dots so we can see the big meaningful patterns Jupiter loves. Look up. It’s a big sky out there.

Jupiter has been playing statues all month, contemplating his navel in preparation for the big turnaround this week. The Jupiter-inside-of-us is preparing to turn around too. Some of us have already felt it. A big sigh of relief. Jupiter’s direct station tells us it’s time to leave behind the fevered inner questioning that’s been bedevilling us since October. Jupiter invites us now to open the window and look outside to a future full of adventures. Jupiter says it’s time to BREATHE. Anticipation is back in style. Things really start to pick up speed in March/April, but as of tomorrow, it’s officially Game On for Jupiter direct! Long journeys begin with but a single step – forward.

Following today’s infusion of Solar juju, the Moon, in Her Dark Maiden of the Wild Things (new moon) phase, immediately sails into an uncertain sea. That is to say, She becomes void-of-course, has no more aspects to perfect in the sign in which the new cycle is born. No more engagements dictate the course of her day. Nothing is certain. Her jam-packed appointment book dissolves and is reborn as the enigmatic whispers of the Dreamtime.

It’s anybody’s guess what happens next.  Nothing, it seems, is fixed. According to the Sabian Symbols interpretation of the image symbolizing this New Moon, there will be a defeat of some kind, but never fear, for the image is elaborated to explain that, “Apparent defeat … spells real spiritual victory.”

Another image associated with the degree of this New Moon, in the Kozminsky system, is said to denote “one whose power is directed to the uplifting and advancement of his race.” Kozminsky goes on to say that this degree “is a symbol of Renewing.”  When we weave together these two images, we are led to the impression that the first New Moon of 2013 is a harbinger of apparent failures which are in fact spiritual victories which will renew the strength of an ancient race.

Deborah Houlding's Horary Certificate Course 2006

Planets affect us through resonance and correspondence. The constellation of qualities particular to each planet can be found in a host of related earthly phenomena. For instance, Saturn is associated with ancient ruins because everything old, traditional or historical resonates with Saturn’s nature. 

Many things are mixtures of planetary influence but usually one attribute will stick out and it is the planet most strongly associated with that attribute (eg, old = Saturn; gold = Sun) which is said to “rule” that object, process, creature or event. 

Astrology subscribes to the “everything is interconnected” worldview which dominated Western thought until the end of the 17th Century, when so-called “Natural Philosophy” stripped creation of its sentience and nature of its living web of interdependence. It took modern physics to rediscover the web of interconnection. We are all – humans, animals, plants and angels – interconnected. What affects one, affects all. 

It is a profound democracy.