With Jupiter applying to oppose Pluto, it's a good time to explore using horary astrology to predict death.
Most astrologers unneccessarily make a philosophical and ethical issue over the subject, but the reality is that such a mentality is patently absurd for four major reasons:
- Death is a natural part of life; as such it is eminently predictable and a perfectly valid question, just as birth or pregnancy questions are. No human being has ever escaped death, as such, death questions are valid to inquire and analyze astrologically.
- A horary chart (or any other astrology chart or horoscope) is nothing more than a current transit chart applied to a question. It possesses no inherent power to make anything happen or magical qualities. It's a snapshot of the sky at a specific point in time—nothing else.
- Planets don't care what humans think, or worry about astrological theory or social conventions. They do what they do (orbit the solar system) regardless.
- If astrology can't predict death, it can't predict anything else, either. The planetary orbits don't shut down or stop working because they "know" a person is asking a question about death. (See #3 above). The chart also won't "self-protect" by turning up "non-radical" or "not fit to be judged" charts, which don't actually exist. (There is no such thing as an "unradical" or "invalid" horary chart or question; those are nonsense by-products of an astrologer's own limitations, dogmas, or lack of interpretive skill.)
You don't want to push someone teetering over the edge. The querent will hear what they want to hear, whether you actually said it or not, and you will end up responsible and with a heavy load of fallout for something that could easily have been avoided. One very famous astrologer had a client commit suicide not long after a session; it deeply affected him and he realized he needed a psychology background to better serve his clients. The incident, and his subsequent degree in psychology, helped to make him one of the best astrologers alive. It's unfortunate that because he couldn't read the mundane signs and symptoms of a candidate for suicide, it took a tragedy for him to attain his level of astrological excellence through psychology.
So caveats aside, let's take a look at the nuts and bolts of death charts. This first chart is a question posed a couple years ago by a young woman whose grandmother was in her death throes. It was obvious she wasn't going to last long based on the querent's description of the symptoms. The querent cast the chart for her location to see when (timing) and the circumstances surrounding her grandmother's imminent demise. This is perfectly normal, acceptable, and valid. There is no reason not to read the chart.
The querent is feeling weak and powerless with her ASC ruler (Neptune) retrograde in the 12th house and in mutual reception with Uranus, both at dead degrees of their signs.The Sun, which symbolically rules a person's life force, is at the end of Leo, its rulership. Planets in very late degrees are a hallmark of death charts. The Sun is also opposing Neptune (querent's ruler) and Chiron. There is no healing or cure—there's no coming back for her grandmother. This is the end.
The grandmother is represented by the 7th house, which is the derived fourth house from the querent's fourth house (mother's mother). Retrograde Mercury in rulership is her significator opposing the ASC and not aspecting other planets. She's debilitated and on her own, as hospitals in her country didn't accept elderly hospice patients.
There is a t-square with Pluto, Saturn, and the Uranus-Jupiter conjunction in cardinal signs in angular houses. The mutable angles show a change is afoot. Note that in death charts, the Moon is not very relevant for timing or otherwise. For timing, use progressions or transits (this methodology is explained in detail in my book, Open Source Modern Horary Astrology). Pluto as ruler of the querent's 8th house of death is in the grandmother's derived fourth house of endings. Mars is in detriment in the grandmother's derived first house, showing lack of energy and power. Its conjunction to Venus brings a merciful end.
There is a sensitive way to discuss the situation with a querent. Here is a brief excerpt from the dialogue I had with her:
QUERENT: I am living alone with my 93 old grandmother, and in the last two weeks her condition has suddenly started to go worse and worse every day. She is eating very little or nothing, and is calling out to dead persons all the time. But, she is a very strong Aries and the amount of energy she has is incredible. When she is not sleeping, she starts yelling and screaming and cursing, and I just dont know what to expect. She is so weak that she can't stand on her feet but she yells so loud that can be heard throughout my whole building. What to do? I am all alone with her night and day, what to do to help her, and will this agony last long?
Grandmother`s condition is very bad; she doesn't know where she is. I am doing my best to make her last days on earth easier. It all affects me very much. I am depressed a bit, and lost in all that suffering of her soul. In the same time, her passing away will bring to me a completely new start, because so far I had to be all the time with her; I sometimes didn't go out of home for a few days in a row. I am afraid of that change too. I am not used to the freedom I will have. I am single, without kids, never married and I am so afraid of the future. I am also in a dilemma about practical things after it happens...like should I move to our capital city, or even go abroad, or not do anything but stay in the same apartment. It all sounds so complicated and frightening, that I can't describe it to you.
R.K. ALEXANDER: It's going to be a HUGE change in your life but the opportunity will be very freeing and expansive for you (Jupiter/Uranus) to finally move on with YOUR life and do the things you want instead of caring for others (Virgo) and feeling so confined (Merc/12th). The best and only thing you can do now w/your ruler retrograde in the 12th house is to finish your duty to your grandmother. After that is done, you can put one foot in front of the other and slowly emerge from your confined way of life (Merc in the 12th) out into the world and freely explore. Saturn in the derived first shows your fears about being alone in the world and breaking old habits, but it's exalted and opportunities will open up to you, especially next year when Jupiter and Uranus return to stay in Aries=new beginnings. I promise you that you'll know what to do when the time comes. So don't fear the future; just stay focused on finishing up what you have to do right now. Later, the way will become clear. You are still very young and have your whole life ahead of you yet. You have a lot to look forward to. This is just the end of one particular chapter.
Four days after the horary question was asked, the querent's grandmother died.
The fundamentals of death charts are the same for non-human deaths, provided you place the quesited in the proper house. This example is for a querent who wanted to know the timing of when her cat with Stage 4 kidney failure would die:
Cats (and other small animals) are ruled by the 6th house. Deriving the chart to put the 6th house on the ASC, Neptune is the cat's ruler. It is again at dead degrees along with it's mutually recepted dispositor, Uranus. It is also in the 12th house, the symbolic last house and with a stellium of planets at the end of the zodiac—ultimately symbolic of the end of life.
The derived eighth house has exalted Saturn retrograde in Libra, indicating a benevolent delay; the cat wasn't going to die immediately. Saturn is also mutually recepted with Venus, further showing the animal still has some endurance left. Appropriately, retrograde planets symbolize something in a damaged state, and Libra rules the kidneys. This is affirmed by Neptune, the cat's significator, in the derived12th house, since water regulation and dehydration would be ruled by Neptune, particularly the dehydration, since Neptune is only 6 degrees away from the Sun (parched).
The Uranus-Jupiter conjunction in the cat's first house showed he had major health swings as a result of the condition. One minute he was on death's doorstep and doing sub-q fluids twice a day, and the next minute he would pull through and rebound just fine—until the next incident. The sudden ups and downs took a huge emotional toll on its owners (Moon in detriment in Scorpio).
The fixed and mutable siginficators (Moon, Neptune, ASC) and the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in the cat's first house showed death wasn't imminent, and that the ups and downs would continue unabated. Jupiter's partile square to Pluto would continue to exacerbate the swings.
The derived 4th house of endings has Gemini on the cusp, ruled by Mercury in detriment in Pisces and combust the Sun in the derived 12th and besieged between Chiron and the Sun. Mercury is also disposited by the Neptune-Uranus mutual reception at dead degrees. Again, there's no healing possible here—the situation is terminal and the prognosis negative, affirmed by the South Node in the derived 4th house at a critical degree and opposing Pluto.
Since the question was about the timing of the death specifically, avoid the impulse to use the Moon for timing in death charts as you would for most other horary or event matters. Use transits and progressions instead. Since Neptune was so prominent in the cat's situation, it was progressed to when it would partile conjunct Mars, (Neptune's next aspect by progression), with Mars also in the cat's derived 12th indicating a severance and ending being in the 12th and in Pisces at 0 degrees (beginning of the end, literally).
Almost one full year after the question, the cat was euthanized due to his condition: he had stopped eating (Pluto square Ceres) and weighed three pounds. Below is the chart for the time of death; note Neptune is at 0 Pis 09, and that Mars in the chart of the horary above was at 0 Pis 07.
Saturn, ruling the 6th house of the cat and his health, is at the dead degree of Libra, with the retrograde not indicating a delay this time, but the terminal debilitation. There was no more time left. Jupiter, ruler of the derived 4th house of endings, is opposing Saturn and trining Pluto. The cat's radix 6th ruler, the Sun, is opposing the Moon in the Sun's sign of Leo in the derived 12th house, which rules veterinarians, with the Moon in the house of the cusp it rules in the sign of the quesited's ASC—and life force. Finally, the Sun and Mercury are combust in the cat's derived 6th house, with Virgo intercepted in the first.
If you are asking a death horary for someone you are unrelated to or unaffiliated with, you can use the first house to represent the person you are inquiring about. This goes for historical or past deaths, as well as deaths yet to occur.
In this example, a young man was brutally murdered while walking home from work one dark evening in November 2011. Two years later, the case is still unsolved. Understand that this is dangerous territory for an astrologer to tread in in light of the recent examples of Sylvia Browne's abject failures in her psychic murder predictions, and the requisite public blowback. So don't do something stupid like run horary or event charts for every unsolved murder on the books, and then phone up the local police department(s) and tell them you have cracked the case. This chart is presented more to ponder and practice what to look for, to hone your craft better, rather than to torment police detectives and the victim's family members. Even if psychics, etc. do get it right once in a very rare while.
This event chart of the murder is derived from police and news reports:
With historical death horary or event charts, the chart is unraveled differently from death inquiry charts, since with historical questions/events the outcome is already known (the subject of inquiry is dead). So the goal becomes to reverse engineer the events that led to the outcome. If horary is the art of "What happens next?", historical death horary is about "What happened previously?" Utilize the same factors as in death charts, but ask different questions, such as: What were the circumstances (e.g., tragic, pleasant, unexpected) at the time of death? Who (if anyone) was present or involved? And in a murder case, such as this one, you want to know who the killer was, did they act alone, did they know the victim, what was their motive, and when they will be caught.
In this chart, since we know the victim is dead, the basic question is "Whodunit?" The 7th house shows open enemies, and the 12th house hidden or secret ones. The murderer is ruled by the 7th house, and Jupiter, ruler of the 7th, is in the 12th. The killer was known to the victim, but not as an enemy. It is likely that the victim had prior contact with his killer from work (Jupiter in the derived 6th); the murder appears tied to the victim's work environment. The 7th also has Mercury in its detriment, showing lies and deception, and it is conjunct Venus. All disposit to Jupiter in the 12th, which indicates there is a woman who is involved (possibly a co-worker) who knows what happened and was possibly an accomplice, but is lying (Moon square Venus) or misleading in her account of her involvement. She's also probably protecting the killer, who is known and close to her (Venus mutually recepted with Jupiter). So there's a third party involved.
The case will either receive a very strong lead, or be solved entirely in 2014, when the Sun progresses into 0 degrees Sadge, the sign of truth (and legal matters and jury trials), and literally sheds light on the 7th house, as it will be in the same sign. The Sun is important in that it rules the 4th house of endings. The Moon will also sextile the Sun before going void-of-course, so the case will eventually close solved.
So keys to death interpretation in charts are:
- Condition of the Sun, Pluto and Saturn
- Late degrees, particularly of significators
- Status of 4th, 8th and 12th houses
- Retrogrades and Chiron hinting at the ailment, and whether it's terminal
- Using progressions and transits for timing, not the Moon
As always, let the chart lead you, rather than trying to apply a fixed formula of rules.
NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL ME ASKING ME TO PREDICT YOUR OWN DEATH.
NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL ME ASKING ME TO PREDICT YOUR OWN DEATH.