Void of Course

After a lengthy discussion about definition and validity of the void of course Moon on another astrological web log, [see the whole of the original discussion here], I thought it to be a good idea to have another look at William Lilly’s views on the subject and share my findings with the readers of my web log.

To show that Lilly was drawing on a long-standing tradition, I first want to quote from Dr. Dykes’ excellent new translation “Persian Nativities” vol 1, wherein he translates Masha’allah (p25): “But the Moon is said [to be] solitary whenever she applies to neither fortunate ones nor the malevolents with her own body, nor does she regard any [star] from the trigon, tetragon, hexagon, or opposition” The footnote states that he [Masha’allah] must have drawn this from Rhetorius Ch.39, because in Ch.112 and in other Hellenistic authors is added: “within the next 30 degrees”. Dr Dykes adds that “this fuller definition makes a void in course Moon extraordinarily rare”.

But let’s now have a look at Lilly’s definition of “void of course”:

“A Planet is void of course, when he is separated from a Planet, nor does forthwith, during his being in that Sign, apply to any other: This is most usually in the Moon;…” (CA, p112)

To fully understand this concept and its use, we have to look further and find Lilly’s definition of separation:

“Separation, is in the first place, when the two Planets are departed but six minutes distance from each other[…]”(CA, p110)

And here is his definition of application which is as well necessary for the understanding of the concept of “void of course”:

It [application] is when two Planets are drawing near together, either by conjunction or aspect[…] (CA, p108)

This definition can only be understood properly, if one considers the use of platic aspects, orbs and moiety in horary charts. Lilly did this as the next quote about application shows:

“[…] for every Planet that applies is allowed half his own orbs and half the orbs of that Planet from whom he separates.” (CA, p110)

Lilly explains further:

“A Platic Aspect is that which admits the Orbs or Rays of two Planets that signify any matter. […] As if Venus be in the 10th degree of Taurus, and Saturn in eighteen degrees of Virgo, here Venus has a Platic trine, or is in a Platic trine to Saturn, because she is in the moiety of both their Orbs.” (CA, p107)  

Moiety is of course half the value of an orb; a table of the orbs Lilly used may be found in CA, p107.

On the basis of these definitions it should be easy to determine if and when a Planet is void of course.

If an aspect can only be perfected when the Moon has crossed over into another sign and the aspect is in moiety of the orbs of both Planets concerned, it is likely that the matter propounded will have a positive outcome, although there may be difficulties in the process. Further  indicators for a positive outcome in these cases are mutual reception, or the position of the Moon in Taurus, Cancer, Sagittarius or Pisces.

Should the Moon be in late degrees, particularly in Gemini, Scorpio or Capricorn, this is an indication for a negative outcome.

For a thorough investigation into the matter of “void of course” and a detailed and illustrated explanation of the operation of application, please see Sue Ward’s excellent article “An Introduction to the Astrology of William Lilly”, which can be found on her website, or accessed here:  http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~sueward/articles/astrologyof%20lilly.htm

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13 comments on “Void of Course

  1. Oh – moiety is a factor for aspects that will perfect after the Moon changes sign! I think that’s the puzzle piece I was missing from eavesdropping on your Twitter conversation.

  2. Dear Christine,

    yes, horary astrology works with platic aspects. The faster Planet approaches the slower one and until they perfect the aspect, they form an applying aspect. The addition of the moiety of both Planets shows us when application takes place. Moiety belongs to each individual Planet and not to the aspect itself. So even if perfection of the aspect means that the faster (or applying) Planet has to cross over into another sign, it does not mean that it is void of course. A Planet is only void of course if it does not apply to any other Planet and this may happen anywhere in a sign.

  3. Wroskopos says:

    Though I disagree with the standalone value of moieties, this article is a good compilation of the relevant abstracts in Christian Astrology and a handy reference for any student of traditional astrology.

  4. Dear Wroskopos,

    If I read you correctly, you state that you are not sure about the validity of moiety in certain circumstances?
    Well, I would say, as I have stated in our discussion on your web log, that one has to accept moiety if one wants to work with horary charts successfully. As far as I understand horary astrology, the most important factor to decide if the matter propounded will come to pass or not is that one needs to look at the existence of an applying aspect between the significators. If it exists, this may lead, in due course, to aspect perfection or not, as the case may be. How would one go about, if one could not rely on the existence of moiety in all cases – the foundations of horary astrology would be shattered, would they not?

  5. Wroskopos says:

    Dear Peter,

    Not shuttered, not even shaken. Even if we assume my point as correct it can be resembled to a constant (parameter) in a formula. It fine tunes the formula it doesn’t render it invalid.

  6. Dear Wroskopos

    how can I put it, how can I bring it over to you? Traditional astrology, and especially horary astrology, which we are talking about here, is well documented, not at least since the appearance of William Lilly’s Christian Astrology. This corpus of traditional horary astrology comprises a set of basic rules and techniques, which, once learned and understood, can be applied to answer any horary question. Many practitioners, who have a good understanding of the basic principles, are perfectly capable of answering all horary questions successfully without introducing new rules as they are working in the tradition. Most of these contemporary practitioners who have written books include a warning to the students, that, if they think that they have to introduce new rules, or think that they have to do it their own way, they would better go back to the basics and try to learn and understand and apply them properly, before they come out with these new ideas and run the risk of confusing other students.

    So, once again, the traditional approach does not need any fine tuning; it is perfectly good and valid as it is and has been for many hundreds of years. If anybody needs some fine tuning, it is the student!

  7. Ishtar says:

    Hi Peter

    Along these same lines that you’re arguing (for the traditional approach)have you looked into the sidereal system of the Vedic Indians on the subject of the moon. I’m not an expert on astrology/astronomy (which the Vedics treated as one, holistically) but I know it was a lunar-based system.

    Apologies if you’ve already dealt with this subject.

  8. Dear Ishtar

    thank you for your comment. I am in no way an expert on Vedic astrology and the main title of my web log suggests that my field of expertise is within the Western tradition.
    Nevertheless I presume that there is an underlying principle at work. Many people, although drawing on the tradition heavily, seem to be of the opinion that they know better than their ancestors. That this is not necessarily the case can be seen time and time again on your own website. (the link to Isthar’s Gate can be found in the list of links on the right hand side of this web log)

  9. Ishtar says:

    Amen to that, Peter! 🙂

    Great blog by the way. I’ll be keeping tabs on it, in future.

  10. […] skyscript.co.uk, and Peter Stockinger discusses the idea of ‘void of course’ on his starsandstones blog Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  11. […] William Lilly’s definition (1647).  Lilly wrote: “A Planet is void of course, when he is separated from a Planet, nor does forthwith, during his being in that Sign, apply to any other” (CA, p.112).   I used to think that Lilly and Morrison were saying the same thing, but then I read an essay by the erudite horary astrologer Sue Ward who pointed out that Lilly did not use the modern definition in the examples from his famous text Christian Astrology.  Not quite believing Sue Ward at first, I went through all of Lilly’s case examples and discovered that she was correct.  Lilly has several examples in which the Moon perfects no aspects before leaving its sign and yet is not considered void.  He even has an example in which the Moon is void for a little while in the middle of its sign and then leaves the void state when it comes within orb of applying to another planet before leaving its sign.  Clearly, Lilly meant that the Moon is void of course when it is not within orb of applying to another planet by major aspect, regardless of where the Moon lies in its current sign.  This is the definition I used in the 1996 revision of my text on horary.  A variation of Lilly’s definition occurs in Ramesay’s 1653 book on elections: “the Moon is impedited when she if void of course, which is when she is in any sign, and beholds not any Planet till she enter another sign, &c.” (An Introduction to Elections, 1653). […]

  12. […] Deborah Houlding has an excellent discussion of the classical theory of aspects at her site skyscript.co.uk, and Peter Stockinger discusses the idea of ‘void of course’ on his starsandstones blog […]

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