In this article we will investigate the method handed down to us by Mâshâ’allâh with regards to horary judgment. As all of the later astrologers – famous or not – more or less follow his instructions, it is very interesting to read Mâshâ’allâh’s own text, especially as he illustrates them with quite a lot of intriguing examples. If any book deserves the prefix ‘The Bible of…’ it is this text ‘On Reception’ with its sparkling clarity and instructive and effective horary method. One can read this book time and time again, and still discover new insights and inside views on the art of horary astrology. Here I will outline Mâshâ’allâh’s general method of delineating horary charts, elsewhere I will apply his rules to a contemporary horary.
Mâshâ’allâh’s method in short
1. Do we work primarily with lord of the 1st house or with the Moon? Which one is stronger?
"That is, you will begin looking at the lord of the Ascendant. If it aspects the rising sign, this will be the one [to use] because of the strength of its testimony. Therefore, [you will begin] working by means of it, and the Moon will be made a sharer with the lord of the Ascendant in whichever place the Moon may be."
If the ruler of the Ascendant makes an aspect by sign (beholds) to the Ascendant, use the ruler of the Ascendant. It is naturally the more powerful. If the ruler of the Ascendant does not aspect the Ascendant by sign, then see whether it is making an application to another planet which does aspect the Ascendant by sign.
"But if the lord of the Ascendant does not aspect the rising sign either by itself or by another planet to which it gives light, then it will be impeded and evil. For this reason then work by means of the Moon just as you have worked by means of the lord of the Ascendant."
So, if the ruler of the Ascendant is not fit, then one should look at the Moon and subject it to the same kind of analysis as the ruler of the Ascendant. If neither the ruler of the Ascendant, nor the Moon qualify as significators according to the criteria above, then one should see if another planet reflects their light to the rising sign.
"And if the lord of the Ascendant does not aspect the rising sign, you should look at whether it is being joined to a planet which does aspect the rising sign from its own place and gives its own light to the rising sign."
So if the lord of the Ascendant falls in aversion, then look and see if there is a planet transferring its light to the Ascendant. That is achieved by one of two ways: a) the significator of the Ascendant is itself applying to a heavier planet that aspects the ascendant sign or b) a lighter planet than the significator of the Ascendant is separating from the significator of the Ascendant and beholding the rising sign.
If either of these conditions happens, we can work with the ruler of the ascendant.
If the ruler of the Ascendant nor the Moon see the ascendant nor have their light reflected, and thus cannot qualify as significators according to the criteria above, then one should see which of them, i.e. the Ascendant ruler or the Moon, will be first to leave the sign it is in. This stands to reason; because when that significator does, it is then changing from aversion to the rising sign, to an aspect to the rising sign.
That one becomes the primary significator of the querent and one should see what application that planet first makes upon entering the new sign. Mâshâ'allâh demonstrates this in his 2nd example of an ill person. In that case he chose the Moon to work with first because she would be first to leave her sign even though both the Moon and lord of the Ascendant aspected the rising sign and the Sun was stronger in testimony by being angular.
So this rule applies also, when both significators see or aspect the ascendant, but both are void in course. Mâshâ’allâh is however not much concerned with void planets:
"For the number of degrees that exist before the Moon or the ruler of the Ascendant leave the sign they are in, indicates the tardiness and inactivity of events while that planet is void in course."
They do not necessarily indicate whether or not a matter will be perfected, it simply shows ‘tardiness’. How much tardiness or how long of a delay is shown? As many degrees as are left in the sign the significator is in.
[Both rulers used]
Perhaps one other thing should be mentioned here. It is possible to work with either the lord of the Ascendant or the Moon in any question, but regardless of which one we work with, both share in the final outcome of the matter.
"But they should be sharers in everything, nor does either of them possess anything separately without its partner. And likewise if one of them should gain an advantage and the other should suffer harm, the one which has gained the advantage will necessarily enter into possession over that other planet and over the matter sought for according to the quantity of the harm to its partner."
In other words, which ever of the two indicates a good outcome rules over the matter but will be somewhat limited in its final outcome because of the damage done to the other planet which will limit the goodness indicated by the other!
Sahl Ibn Bishr seems to allude to the same thing – but in the context of afflictions to the rulers – when he says:
"This is an exposition of the stable angles; and the testimonies of the stars on their effects on the earth are three, from which things are sought, i.e. the ruler of the ASC and the Moon and the ruler of the thing; if two of them shall have been free from the aforesaid evils, i.e. the ruler of the ASC and the ruler of the thing, two parts of the thing will be perfected; [and] i.e. if one of them is safe, a third part of that thing which was wanted will be perfected. That is, if there is one testimony, he will have a third part; and if there are two testimonies, he will attain two parts of those things that he has sought; and if all the testimonies are conjoined, and if the ruler of the ASC and the ruler of the thing and the Moon are safe from retrogradation and combustion, safe from the evil planets, and safe from fall or cadency, he will attain everything that was sought; and if they are received with their own testimonies, and the one that receives them is also received, it will increase the good of it. Know, therefore, those questions that are conjoined and that agree in all things!"
Earlier,Mâshâ’allâh says that if for example the lord of the Ascendant does not see the rising sign and is not joined to a planet(s) that does; nor does it immediately join with a planet upon leaving its sign, then it indicates its harm. If on the other hand the Moon at the same time indicates good, then the outcome will be good but it is moderated by the degree of harm to the lord of the Ascendant! So while it is true we are going to work with specifically one of these two significators, i.e. the lord of the Ascendant or the Moon, they are always partners in signification, and in order to get a complete perspective of the outcome, we must examine both!
The main point though here, is that both significators of the querent give a combined picture of the outcome and both are necessary in judgment.
2. To which planet is this ruler of querent joined?
Whenever this first joining is immediately to the ruler of the quesited, the matter is perfected. It doesn’t matter if this planet is malefic or benefic, in dignity or not, and reception is not required. This is the most straightforward method of perfection.
3. When there is no joining of relevant rulers
Then see whether planets are in the ascendant and/or the house representing the matter sought. But Mâshâ’allâh warns:
"However, the outcome of a matter and its prohibition does not happen according to a planet which is in the Ascendant but happens in the name of the lord of the Ascendant, or in the name of the Moon, and according to the stars to which they are being joined, and the joining together, reception, and the rendering of the reception of these stars."
So, if the Moon or the lord of the 1st house apply to a planet in the house representing the matter, or planets in this house apply to the ruler of the first house or planets in the ascendant, we have perfection.
Mâshâ’allâh tells us that a planet in the ascendant or in the house of the question has a share in the outcome. If a planet in the house of the question commits its disposition to a planet in the Ascendant and the lord of the ascendant is not harmed, then we have perfection. This is especially the case if that planet in the ascendant has some authority there by having dignity in the sign it is in. The rulers thus situated will perfect the matter under the following conditions:
- If the application from a relevant house is to a fortune, the matter will be perfected, whether or not that fortune receives it, and it need not have any dignity in that house.
- If the application is to a malefic planet which has dignity in that place, the matter will be perfected and reception is again not necessary.
- If the application is to a malefic planet which has no dignity in that place, and it receives the lord of the Ascendant, or the Moon, the matter will be perfected.
- If the application is to a malefic planet which has no dignity in that place, and it does not receive the lord of the Ascendant, or the Moon, the matter will be destroyed.
"If the joining together is from the opposition or square aspect, there will be some difficulty, delay, and effort in the matter. But if the joining together is from the trine or sextile aspect, the matter will be without effort and without hardship. It happens in a similar manner in (the case of) a bodily conjunction. And understand that if the planets which have dominion over the matter are in (one of) the four angles, they dispose of the matter, hasten, arouse, and perfect it. But if the querent should ask you about the good or evil in which he may be, or (if he should ask you) what future he should expect afterward, and you find the planets which have dominion over the matter in the angles, the matter will be one that endures whether good or bad. Also, examine the joining together of planets which are in the angles, their reception and the giving of support through this of your affair, if God should will."
4. If the querents significator does not make its first application to the lord of the question, and neither in or from houses ruling the quesited, but rather to some other planet
Mâshâ’allâh instructs us to look at the first and immediate application of that (second) planet (the one applied to). If this second planet does itself make an immediate application to the lord of the question, all is still well.
A series of such applications culminating in a received application to a benefic will perfect the matter. The only exception to this is cases of life and death in which a benefic happens to be ruler of the eighth house and where in addition there is no reception between the benefic and the significator of the querent; the querent will die of his illness.
The main point is that each planet, as it applies to another planet, commits its disposition to that planet. The applying planet ‘pushes’ its disposition onto the second planet so to speak. Then the second planet may in turn ‘push’ its disposition onto yet another, or it might reject the disposition because of lack of reception in which case the matter is destroyed.
So whatever planet is last in this chain of applications is very important in determining the outcome of a question. Sahl called this planet the ‘receiver of the disposition’, and it decides ultimately whether the matter will be perfected or not. Careful analysis of this planet informs us of how this success or lack thereof will come about. Any affliction of this planet can destroy the matter, even if it was perfected and the promise seemed fulfilled.
So, when relevant rulers do not apply to each other, observe which planet(s) is joined to the Moon or lord of the ascendant. This planet can and will perfect the matter, but only under the following conditions:
A. If the planet applied to is a fortune, and it is in an angle, or in a strong place, the matter will be perfected, and reception is not necessary (although always desirable). The indication ‘strong place’ refers however to four things:
- strong through essential dignity
- strong in sect
- strong by phase to the Sun
- Strong by house position
So it is not simply dependent on whether or not a planet is angular or succedent. A planet can be cadent, but still be in a strong place, being one of the others!
B. If the planet applied to is a malefic, and it receives the applying planet, the matter will be perfected.
C. But If the planet applied to is a malefic, and it is not the lord of the quesited, and it does not receive the lord of the Ascendant (or the Moon), and that malefic does not commit its disposition to another planet, then the matter will not be perfected; the malefic then destroys the matter.
D. If the planet applied to is a malefic and it commits its disposition to yet another malefic which in turn receives the planet handing over the disposition lord of the Ascendant, the matter will be perfected.
The definition of reception by Robert Hand is:
"Reception exists when a planet applies toward one of its dispositors according to the five essential dignities, or the dispositor applies toward it. The received planet commits disposition to the receiving planet, which simply means that the receiving planet takes on the responsibility for handling or arranging (the original meaning of ‘to dispose’) the affairs of the received planet."
I have a bit of a simplistic, but in my mind, efficient manner to check reception. In Dutch, this is called an ‘Ezelsbruggetje’ a ‘Donkeys bridge’, meaning a simple way to get a grip on a complex concept. Here it is; whenever a planet (A) applies to another one (B), I always check if (A) is in ‘something’ of (B). This ‘something’ being a sign, part of a sign or degrees belonging to (B). If so, there is reception. If then (B) is also in ‘something’ of (A), the applying planet, then we have mutual reception.
The only thing to be added here is that Mâshâ’allâh only used receptions involving sign-rulership or domicile, and exaltation. Abu Ma’shar adds:
"The strongest of these is the Lord of the House or of the exaltation. The Lord of the term or (that of the) triplicity or decan are weak unless two or more of them are joined. One of them may receive the other also by aspect without application, although the reception by application is stronger."
So, later astrologers also considered a reception by at least two of the lesser dignities, as a strong reception. We will likewise do so here.
These rules Mâshâ’allâh applies to three issues and illustrates them with several examples. First, he illustrates an 8th house issue of whether a person who is ill will die or not; second, 2nd house and 8th house issues concerning substance acquired or not; thirdly, the 10th house matter of Kingship, whether acquired or not, which can nowadays be applied to issues concerning career. I would encourage the study of these charts in his book.
Author: Martien Hermes
(This article is taken from "The Foundations", issue 1, Winter Solstice 2006. by Steven Birchfield and published with his permission)
 Masha’allah (800). On Reception – Edited and Translated with commentary and appendix by Robert Hand. ISBN: 0-9662266-2-3. Page 20, especially in the 2nd paragraph
 Holden, James H., M.A., (2003); Sahl Inn Bishr – The Introduction to the Science of the Judgments of the Stars – Translated from the Twelfth Century Latin Version. Phoenix, Arizona. Page 28
 Translation and collection of light are two other methods that can join relevant significators and perfect the matter, however Mâshâ’allâh does not explicitly mention them.
 Mâshâ'allâh actually says: "If that malefic commits its disposition to another malefic which in turn receives lord of the Ascendant, the matter will be perfected." In all of his examples, it is the reception of the planet handing over disposition that is essential and not just the reception of the Lord of the Ascendant.