Philosopher's Stone - Horary Question from William Lilly's masterpiece 'Christian Astrology'  ·  April 14, 2024, 8:02 GMT
Right now: Moon at 7°45' Cancer, Sun at 24°52' Aries

Philosopher's Stone

from William Lilly's masterpiece
"Christian Astrology"

Philosopher's Stone

This is a very unusual horary question, something that just doesn't happen anymore in our days. The querent, an alchemist, asked about his chances to obtain the Philosopher's Stone. In alchemy, the Philosopher's Stone is a mythical substance that supposedly could turn inexpensive metals into gold and/or create an elixir that would make humans immortal.

If it's inexpensive gold you are looking for, there are various options besides seeking the wisdom of the Philosopher's Stone. The Philosopher's Stone is more of a metaphor, representing wisdom, knowledge or the divine, rather than being a physical object. Likewise, turning base metals into gold does not refer to a substance you can buy on, but the precious nature of gnostic truth, burnished by experience and purified by long hours of study.

The alchemists' dream is to attain knowledge of the mysterious Philosopher's Stone, or "that Elixir by which such wonders are performed". The Stone is "a blessing beyond all blessings upon earth... given to but very few, and to those few rather by revelation of the good angels of God than the proper industry of man".

Interesting, isn't it ? Now, that's a horary question of real importance!

Below is the original chart, set in Old Style format - May 27, 1647 JC, 10:37 am LMT, London (00w10, 51n30)

philosopher stone

And this is the modern chart set for June 6, 1647 GC, 10:38 am GMT, London (00w10, 51n30)

philosopher stone

First, Lilly's words on this horary chart.

Excerpt from William Lilly's Christian Astrology

An ingenious man with much seriousnes propounded the Question above, viz: Whether he should obtain the Philosopher's Stone? or, that Elixar by which such wonders are performed? that there is such a thing in being I verily believe; that it may be attained I am as confident: but as it is a blessing beyond all blessings upon earth, so I hold, that it is given but to very few, and to those few rather by revelation of the good Angels of God, then the proper industry of man. This Question must admit of this manner of proposall: Whether the knowledge of the querent is so able, or he so cunning, as to produce to effect by his Art what he desires?

The querent is signified by the ascendant, and Mercury Lord thereof; his knowledge by Mars, Lord of the ninth, and the aspects which may be cast unto him from other planets.

I find Mars Lord of the Querent's Science in a cadent house, but in his own Terme and Face.

Mars is in a square aspect both of Mercury and Saturn, and they and he in fixed Signes, they in the Terms of Saturn, falling into the ninth house; I find Mercury lately Retrograde and in square of Mars, now moving slowly in his direct motion, and applying againe to a second square of Mars: From hence I judged the querent had formerly spent some time in the search of this admirable Jewell the Elixar, but in vaine and to no purpose; his second application by square happening not long after, while Mercury was in Gemini, and in his own Terms, intimated a stronger desire, greater hopes and resolution to endeavour once more the attaining of the Philosophers Stone, but I advised the querent to decline his further progresse upon that subject; and in regard of the former reasons, advertised him how incapable he was, and the improbability of the thing he intended, according to naturall causes, and advised him to desist: I also said, that he erred in his materials or composition, working upon things terrene or of too grosse and heavy a substance, part of which judgement I collected by Mercury his square unto Mars, part by the affliction of Mercury, his intellective part by the proximity of Saturn, both cohabiting in an earthly Signe, for in any operation where Mercury is corrupted, there the fancy or imaginative part is imbecill; but where the Lord of the Work it self is unfortunate (as here Mars Lord of the ninth is,) there the groundwork or matter it selfe of the principall part of the operation is defective, as here it was: and that the Gentleman should think I spoke not in vaine, I acquainted him, he had more necessity to cure himself of a Consumption he was entring into (nay entered) then of advancing his paines further in the scrutiny of this Laborinth.

For seeing Mercury Lord of the ascendant and Saturn in conjunction in Taurus, Saturn being Lord of the sixt, of evill influence naturally, and finding Mars afflicting Mercury out of the twelft, and Mercury not receded from, but applying to a further evill square of Mars, no Fortune interjecting his benevolent aspect betwixt Mercury and the two Infortunes, but that he stood single of himselfe without any assistance, and thereby was incapable of resisting their malevolent influence. I advised to have a care of his health speedily.

Next, my comments on this chart.

philosopher stone

The chart describes extremely well the situation. The querent is represented by the 1st house, whose cusp (the Ascendant) is in VIRGO, the zodiacal sign of chemistry and pharmaceuticals. By extension, this sign represents the alchemist as well.

The alchemy, as a divine science of the universe, is represented by the 9th house. The querent hopes to reach the perfection in this art, obtaining the final alchemical target, the Philosopher's Stone, which transforms any common metal into gold. This final target is shown in the turned 4th house (end of things) from the 9th (alchemy), which is the radix 12 house whose cusp is in Leo, ruled by the Sun = gold.

So, the entire process is this: the querent (1st house, Mercury) studies alchemy (9th house, Mars) in order to obtain the Philosopher's Stone (12th house, the Sun).

First of all, Mercury has no essential dignities where it stands, it is therefore peregrine, a very debilitating position that indicates the person to be weak, powerless. And so is the Moon, the co-ruler.

Although Mercury is at 25 degrees and Mars is at 26 degrees, there isn't actually an applying aspect (square) between the two planets because Mercury is moving very slowly, just recovering after a retrograde period. It catches up speed however and then approaches the perfection of the square aspect with Mars, but before that happens, Mars passes to Virgo and the aspect can't be perfect in the planets' current signs, indicating that the querent won't be able to advance on his path. There are other things in this chart that show the the querent just passed through a very difficult period (Mercury recovers from retrogradation, Mercury separates from a conjunction with Saturn).

William Lilly advised the querent to abandon his quest. We see Mercury on the edge of leaving the 9th house (the alchemy study and practice), indicating that the querent was about to give up alchemy any way. Even more, Mercury is separating from Saturn, ruler of the 5th house (of action), showing him unwilling to take action.

Moon's position in this chart is also very interesting. She, as the co-ruler of the querent, is located in the 11th house of hopes and wishes, at the very beginning of Leo at 00º00', indicating that the querent is actually just at the beginning of his quest and has made no important steps so far towards the obtaining of the Philosopher's Stone. The Moon's semisquare with the Sun is not encouraging either.

Below is a symbolic representation of the Philosopher's Stone. The dragon of Nature straddles the globe of the Earth. Its twin, intertwined heads represent the perfect balancing and harmonisation of the alchemical principles sulphur and mercury, represented by the Sun and Moon. From Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum (1652). (Image from

Philosopher Stone

In the horary chart, this image is reflected in the Sabian Symbol for the 9th house cusp (by antiscia): Virgo 10 - "Two Heads Looking Out and Beyond the Shadows".

Horary charts William Lilly