Typically a major stumbling block and almost obsession with many beginners to horary are the so-called “strictures against judgment”. These are particular placements within horary charts that are meant to warn the astrologer that something may not be quite right with the situation. The “strictures against judgment” are something of a modern exaggeration of the classical “considerations before judgment” and while the semantics involved may seem silly, one phrase is definitely more severe than the other. Classically, if a placement befitting a consideration appeared in a chart (let’s say a late Ascendant), then it required the astrologer to ask more questions to clarify the intention. However, nowadays it is not uncommon to see beginners assert that a horary chart cannot or should not be read if that placement occurs.
The classical considerations appear to have their start with Guido Bonatti in the 13th century. He tells us to make sure that the intention of the querent is pure and they are not simply trying to play a trick on us by asking questions about situations that don’t exist. He identifies this as being noticed in a few ways, mostly having to do with the placement of the Ascendant. These are then later expanded upon seemingly by William Lilly a few hundred years later to include special situations regarding the Moon and Saturn. We’ll discuss each major consideration below and what effects they could have on a horary beyond the mistaken reaction to simply discard them.
The first considerations many are introduced to are considerations involving the Ascendant. This is probably the most important point in a horary (or arguably any) chart so it is definitely important to make sure there isn’t any funny business with it. The focus is on if the Ascendant is in the extremely early parts or extremely late parts of a sign. This is quantified by being within the first three degrees or the last three degrees. Note, though, that this means an early ascendant is 0°-2° while a late ascendant is 27°-29° due to the different way degrees of signs are notated. Typically charts with these degrees rising are considered unstable and are to be discarded. It is best, though, to simply get better at asking questions of our querents. Early ascendants denote situations that may change, so start asking questions to figure out what all is going on before sticking to a judgment. Conversely, late ascendants can be somewhat more difficult as they usually show that the querent already knows the answer (and can mean they have sought help elsewhere in uncovering it) but may to struggling to accept it.
Another ascendant based consideration is comparing the sign on the ascendant to the lord of the hour of the chart. There should be some form of similarity between the ascendant and the hour lord, this can happen in three ways. The first is that the lord of the hour rules the sign ascending, the second is that the lord of the hour is of the same nature as the sign ascending (Scorpio rises during a Venus hour is okay because they are both cold and wet), finally the sign ascending can be a member of the triplicity that planet rules (Capricorn rising during a Moon hour is okay because the Moon rules the Earth Triplicity by night). I wouldn’t suggest not reading charts that don’t have an ascendant/hour lord agreement, just be prepared to work harder in interpreting it. There seems to be a much stronger connection between chart and question when the ascendant and hour lord are in agreement that isn’t present when this relationship isn’t there. So in these situations it may be easier to make errors as the significations aren’t as obvious or striking as they would be otherwise.
The Moon in the Via Combusta is not a reason to disregard a chart (mostly because there really is no reason to discard a chart that is asked appropriately) or to really take any special precautions in interpreting it. This usually just indicates that the querent is under extreme emotional distress and the astrologer may need to have their counseling hat on in order to help them through their question. However, I do consider the Lord of the Ascendant being Combust to be difficult to overcome. Not because the astrologer may err necessarily, but that the querent may have difficulty accepting the astrologer’s judgment and this can cause tension between astrologer and querent.
There are a few considerations that revolve mostly around Saturn and the astrologer’s ability to perform. Specifically that Saturn in the Seventh in questions not related to that house can show the astrologer struggling to arrive at a correct answer. This may be one to personally keep track of and see if this effect rings true for you, and if it does it may be better to refer that querent to another astrologer and hope they don’t pull Saturn in the same house.
The last couple of considerations to discuss are the Void Moon and Saturn in the First house. These are also not reasons to discard a chart. These placements simply suggest difficulty with the situation. This means that seeing either of these placements shows that a positive outcome is going to be difficult to obtain.
Hopefully this has given a nice rule-of-thumb guide on how to handle the considerations before judgment. There is no reason to be afraid or intimidated by their appearance in charts. The best way to handle them is to simply ask for more information.