Sue Ward’s Traditional Horary Course

Sue Ward’s Traditional Horary Course, by Sue Ward (Author), Joao Xavier (Editor), Luis Vicente (Editor), Prisma Edicoes, September 2021, ISBN13 9798477494156

Sue Ward’s new horary astrology course book, which takes up the tradition as laid out by the celebrated 17th Century astrologer William Lilly, could not have been published at a more appropriate point in time. King Charles III acceded to the throne on 8 September 2022, after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Thus began the second Caroline era. William Lilly lived and practiced astrology during the first Caroline era, the 24-year reign of King Charles I, which took place between 1625 and 1649. We know from Lilly’s Autobiography, that Charles I was in favour of astrology, even seeking advice from the great astrologer. With the present monarch also being positively inclined towards astrology – in 2016 King Charles III (then Prince of Wales) met MA Cultural Astronomy and Astrology graduates – there is hope that predictive astrology, as practiced by William Lilly, will once again thrive and flourish.

For nearly 30 years, Sue Ward has been teaching students the art of horary astrology, but only now has her Traditional Horary Course been published, and therefore made available to the wider astrological community. With its stylish, understated title and cover, this handsome 373-page volume could easily be mistaken for another attempt to teach horary astrology to those who are mainly interested in a quick and superficial overview of the subject. But nothing could be further from the truth, as the 20 lessons this book comprises contain the art of horary astrology in its entirety, as set out by William Lilly in his Christian Astrology

I would also like to add that the book’s type-font is very small. If it would have been typeset with a font-size usually seen in print these days, this would have turned out to be a mighty tome, or even a two-volume set.

For me, one of the most interesting parts of Sue Ward’s book are her teachings of the use of what I tend to call the “First Principles”. Having studied Christian Astrology, and subsequently applied William Lilly’s teachings in my own horary practice for well over 20 years, I entirely agree with her that a  continuous output of correct horary predictions can only be achieved if the principles laid out by William Lilly (and Sue Ward) are meticulously adhered to. 

Without wanting to delve too deeply into the course content, or quoting too many excerpts from the Traditional Horary Course, I can reveal to the interested reader that these principles include the observation of Radicality via the Considerations before Judgment. Secondly, it is paramount that sound prescriptions of the Querent and the Quesited are established. This can be achieved through exploration of physical description and temperament, which is covered in great detail in one of the lessons. The third principle, which is also often not emphasised strongly enough, is the concept of angularity. Sue Ward finds this to be of such major importance, that she dedicates 5 of the 20 lessons to angularity and the angular houses (Lessons 16 to 20).

 Another very valid point the author repeatedly and poignantly makes is the fact that horary astrology is not something that should be undertaken lightly. Early in the course, the student is made aware of the fact that 

 “…] we should never forget the sacred nature of our art” (p152). 

We are reminded of William Lilly’s words in his letter To the Student in Astrology, that

 “…] thou rangest above the heavens by contemplation, conceivest the motion and magnitude of the stars, thou talkest with Angels, yea with God himself”. (ibid)

Due to her many years of teaching experience, Ward is capable to explain difficult concepts in an easily understandable manner, but without loss of substance. Some of the example horaries throughout the book are taken straight out of Christian Astrology, but many others are contemporary real-life horary questions, highly relevant for our time. Throughout the book, Ward manages with ease to bridge the 400-year gap between the publication of Christian Astrology, and her own course book, seamlessly transferring Lilly’s approach into the 21st Century. 

What is also noticeable is the fact that the author never shies away from pointing out the philosophical underpinning the tradition is based on. There is no talk about astrology being a science, based on repeatable experiments, or quantifiable measurements. To the contrary, she states that:

“…] This is an opportune moment to remind you of astrology’s purpose: the means by which we are afforded a glimpse of divine will. It is the symbolic language with which we communicate with the heavens.” (p152)  

Later on, towards the end of the book, there is a highly interesting discussion, concerning astrology as divination. Again, Ward addresses astrology as our “symbolic craft”. She then continues to explore the possibility that the individual astrologer can decide which meaning they are going to attribute to any of the available components. The conclusion she comes to is though, that, unlike other divinatory techniques, astrologers need to have 

“…] a basic set of rules or principles that can be learnt and practised on an intellectual level.” (p295).  

Much more could be said about the Traditional Horary Course, which includes a lot more material than I have space and time to discuss here. In the book, the interested reader will find a guide on how to calculate their astrological charts by hand and there are many interesting and useful tables and work sheets included. One I find particularly useful is a table of physical descriptions, which I am sure will come in handy. Although this may not be a book I am going to use permanently in my daily practice, I will still keep it in my hand library, where it isn’t too far away to easily have a glance at one table or another when the need arises.

In summary, Sue Ward’s Traditional Horary Course is a book for the serious student of astrology, and I am deliberately not limiting this to horary astrology here, because as Ward writes “…] there is only one astrology” (p200). Anyone interested in astrology who is willing to immerse themselves into the tradition as it was articulated by William Lilly, will reap great benefits from an in-depth study of this book.


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