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Planetary Days and Hours
Christopher Warnock, Esq.
The Planetary Hours in Renaissance
Horary and Electional Astrology

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The Question shall be taken for radical, or fit to be judged, when the Lord of the hour... and the Lord of the Ascendant are of one Triplicity, or be one, or of the same nature.

William Lilly,
Christian Astrology

Planetary Hour and Rising Sign
The Planetary Hours in Renaissance Horary Astrology
The Planetary Hours in Renaissance Electional Astrology



Generally there are two methods that are used to determine significators in traditional horary and electional questions. The primary method is to look to the house rulers that relate to the question at hand. This method provides an incredible amount of detailed information because of the complexity presented by the interaction of the seven planets and the twelve houses. The twelve houses can signify all possible relationships, e.g. husband-wife, owner-personal property, and even complex relationships among various people and things, e.g. husband's legal opponent's funds, husband, opponent, opponent's lawyer, etc. Through their house rulerships, placements and aspects, the planets signify the present, as well as past and future conditions of whatever persons or things the querent wishes to know about. Further complexity is added by the rapid movement of the ascendant putting the significators under our primary method in constant flux.

Planetary Hour and Rising Sign


While at least peripherally aware of the use of planetary hours as significators traditional horary astrologers have tend to think of the planetary hours primarily as a means of gauging whether or not a horary chart can be used to answer a question. Thus horary astrologers compare the hour ruler and ascendant sign and ruler and look for sympathy between them. Lilly states that a horary chart is radical or fit to be judged if the Lord of the Hour and ascendant ruler are the same planet, or if the Lord of the Hour rules the triplicity that the ascendant sign belongs to, or if the Hour ruler and ascendant ruler have the same nature, e.g. hot and wet or cold and dry. William Lilly, Christian Astrology, p.121. This method of determining radicality ensures that there is harmony between the ascendant ruler, which represents the question (and querent), and the Lord of the hour, which represents the time that the question was asked.
My experience is that a radical chart which contains this sort of sympathy between the rising sign and hour ruler is accurate, but that the lack of radicality does not mean that a chart cannot be judged. The true test is how well the chart describes the situation. Physical descriptions derived from signficators can also be useful in validating a horary chart.

The Planetary Hours in Renaissance Horary Astrology


The planetary hour ruler is integrated into the primary method as a significator in a number of different horary situations. Lilly uses the hour ruler in questions regarding pregnancy, the timing of conception and birth, the sex of the unborn child and whether or not it will live. William Lilly, Christian Astrology, pp. 228, 231-2. In an interesting variation on this last use of the hour ruler Lilly notes that if a strong planet is in the ascendant and it is both ruler of the 8th house and hour ruler then this portends death. William Lilly, Christian Astrology , p. 257.
Another major horary use of the hour ruler is in questions of theft and loss. While Lilly makes some use of the Lord of the Hour in these questions, Anthony Griffin in his Astrological Judgment Touching Theft frequently uses it as significator of whether goods are stolen, their location, the timing of their return and information about the thief. Griffin even uses the hour ruler to decide guilt or innocence,

    If the Lord of the hour be in Opposition to Scorpio or Capricornus, the suspected party is guilty. If the Lord of the hour be in a South sign and a night house the suspected is guilty. But if he be in an Occidental sign as Gemini, Libra, Aquarius or in the Center of the Earth, the suspected is no Thief, but the Thief dwells in the town where the goods are lost.

Anthony Griffin, Astrological Judgment Touching Theft [London, 1665] Ballantrae reprint undated, p. 47.
Physician and King

Lilly's Christian Astrology, a comprehensive guide to all types of horary questions, makes only a limited use of the hour ruler as significator, generally as an additional testimony or secondary significator. Other authors dealing with more specialized and discrete areas make greater use of the hour ruler. Richard Saunders, for example, in his Astrological Judgment of Physick, a 17th century treatise on medical astrology, makes extensive use of the Lord of the Hour as significator in questions of death and in diagnosis. Richard Saunders, Astrological Judgment of Physick, [London, 1677] Issaquah, WA: JustUs&Assoc., 1997, Bk. I, pp. 39-64; Bk. II, pp. 12-17.
Lilly and Griffin offer no theoretical explanation for their use of the hour ruler as significator nor is it readily apparent why the use of the Lord of the Hour as significator is appropriate in the e xamples given above. However, the French astrologer Claude Dariot says, "I will speak of the unequal hours which are attributed to the dominion or rule of the planets, for that the dominion of the hour serves to the planets as for a dignity." Claudius Dariot, Astrological Judgment of the Stars, [London, 1583] Issaquah, WA: JustUs&Assoc., 1996, p. 26. Thus, the use of the planetary hours by Lilly, Griffin and Saunders, noted above, appears to have been integrated into the primary method. Ruling the hour is seen as a dignity, a weaker dominion similar to ruling other dignities like the sign, exaltation, face or term.

The Planetary Hours in Renaissance Electional Astrology


Another method of determining traditional astrological significators, generally considered secondary, is to look to the natural planetary rulers of the matter in question. Thus in a questions involving a judge we would look to Jupiter as the natural planetary ruler of judges. William Lilly, Christian Astrology , p. 63. This is a much less complex method. The significators never vary, Jupiter always signifies judges; significators and their interrelationships are not dependent on house rulership. Still, the simpler and less accurate method of natural rulership is often used along side the primary method. Hour rulers are also used in analogous ways and their use as natural planetary rulers is particularly prevalent in electional astrology. Thus we would elect a day and an hour ruled by a planet that also naturally rules or will assist us in the activity that we wish to undertake.
The English astrologer Henry Coley in his Clavis Astrologiae Elimata provides a comprehensive list of elections using the planetary hours. Here is what Coley says about the hours of Saturn,

    In the hour of Saturn take no Voyage to Sea, neither take any long Journey by Land; for crosses will surely at-tend and small success may be expected; take no Physick; entertain no Servant, for they will prove idle, careless Persons: Not good to put on a new Garment or cut your Hair; but this hour is good to buy or take Leases of Houses, or Lands; good to buy any kind of Grain or dig in the Earth or Plow; not good to borrow Money in this hour or to fall sick in for it threatens a long Disease; and sometimes terminates in death.

Henry Coley, Clavis Astrologiae Elimata, [London, 1676] Issaquah, WA: JustUs&Assoc., 1996, p. 271.


Many of our sources use the hour rulers for electing a time for journeys and voyages. John Partridge says "...let no Ship set sail in the hour of Saturn and Mars...let them begin to Sail in Hora Jovis vel Veneris..." John Partridge, Mikropanastron [London, 1679] Issaquah, WA: JustUs&Assoc., 1995, pp. 263-4. Yet another specialized journey election using the hour rulers is selecting the time for a physician to set out to see a patient. Lilly says,

Physician and Patient
That Physician that first visits his Patient in the houre of Saturn, his patient will either be long sick, or long curing, and suffers much torment in his cure; nor shall be cured, untill both Physician and Patient despaired. He that first enters upon a cure in the hour of Mars, shall find his patient disaffected to him, and partly disdaine or reject his Medicines, his pains ill rewarded, and his person slighted. He that first visits his Patient in the hour of Jupiter or Venus, shall have good words of the sick, be well esteemed and paid for his paines. Though he faile of the cure he shall receive no prejudice thereby; I meane, in point of estimation.
William Lilly, Christian Astrology, p. 282.
One final noteworthy medical use of planetary days and hours is to elect a time to pick herbs. The English astrologer Richard Ball says, is also necessary, that the Planet governing the Herb you gather, be ruler of the Day (as well as Hour) as for Example: Suppose you gather Herbs governed by Moon, Monday being assigned to her government, that Day is most proper to gather her herbs in, having regard to the Hour she rules the same Day which is every Monday at Sun Rise: the like you may observe of all the Herbs, governed by the that an ingenious Man cannot be to seek in gathering, compounding or applying his medicines according to the Nature of the Distemper and Parts afflicted.

Richard Ball, Astro-Physical Compendium [London, 1697] Ballantrae undated reprint, p. 112.


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Copyright 2000-2001, Christopher Warnock, All Rights Reserved.
Originally Published in The Mountain Astrologer.