Lilly, Pluto, and a Lost Husband

I just attended a webinar by John Frawley where he showed a neat example of the meaning of Pluto by using the chart below which is one of William Lilly’s charts from Christian Astrology.

John interpreted Pluto as “imprisonment” based on the meaning of the myth of Pluto and Persephone. And he wondered how Lilly’s interpretation could have been sharper if he knew Pluto then.

I agree. But while Pluto does gives a message here the chart has much more than Pluto to tell a fuller story and a beautiful display of symbolism. 

The answer is also clearly there without Pluto or any other outer planet. This is proof enough that the outer planets are more like spices; they are rarely the full meal.


“A Woman of her Husband at Sea, if alive, where, when returne?” (Christian Astrology – page 417.)


The chart was cast during the English Civil War. The woman wants to know what happened to her husband who was a sailor. Part of the context was that all sailors were taken to the West of England to fight a battle for the Parliament forces against the King. The Parliament forces were defeated by the King’s forces with little fight.

william lilly pluto

The Husband. What happened?

The context would indicate that having gone to battle, he was either dead or captured by the King’s forces.

The last aspect with Jupiter was a sextile with Venus, L10, the King. Or, we can take the Moon’s translation of light from Jupiter to Venus. Both confirm his capture, rather than death, which would have been shown by a separating aspect with L8.

Jupiter is in the early sign of its Detriment in house 10. Here we have the clear picture of someone recently captured by the King’s forces and is under the King’s power. Notice that Gemini is incepted in the 10th: Jupiter is in a “room” inside the king’s house! What could that mean for a sailor who was fighting against the King and who lost the battle?

This is happening in a Mercury air sign, a sign of mental activity, cleverness, and negotiations, which suggest that he surrendered without a fight; or outright defected to the other side.

Jupiter’s dispositor, Mercury, is conjunct Saturn, telling us that the influence of Mercury on Jupiter is heavily of a Saturnine nature. Since the chart tells us he is not dead, the context tells us he has been captured and is detained “in the king’s house”. This is happening in a Mars’ sign, that is: in the middle of a battle/war. He is a POW: a prisoner of war.

The Wife

The Moon’s position and the fact that those three planets in Aries are inside the ascendant by antiscion, suggests that this picture was in the querent’s mind. Maybe the husband even told his wife of his plans of defection or surrender beforehand. We will never know that but it is worth considering because of what the chart shows.

All this is the chart speaking to the astrologer. But we must pay attention.

Incepted Signs

Most astrologers have difficulty with (or disregard altogether) interpreting incepted signs. There are no rules in any books about this. While this is not of importance in many types of charts, in many others we cannot simply ignore it. It becomes difficult or impossible to get an accurate answer without interpreting an incepted sign adequately. In this chart, in my opinion, it is very applicable and adds to the interpretation.


A horary chart is a special event of communication and astrology speaks the language of the astrologer.

Although I could criticize Lilly for his convoluted thinking, lack of clarity, and outright bias in some instances, Lilly read the chart above according to his knowledge of the context, according to his interaction with the querent, and according to the astrology available to him. There is nothing wrong with that.

But the bare truth is that Lilly basically hacked his way though the chart and could not give a clear answer or accurate timing. In the end, after he knew of the husband’s return he commented that he was captured, etc.

The Outer Planets

As for Pluto, yes, it is a nice cherry on the cake for the theme of “imprisonment”.

And notice that Jupiter is opposing Neptune. There’s the theme of “hidden stuff” going on with this Jupiter, which is echoed by the planets in antiscion in the ascendant. There is likely more about what really happened than we will ever know. Maybe Jupiter was a spy for the King after all… 🙂

And there is Saturn, Mercury, and the Moon opposing Uranus, which point at the theme of separation in the context. Like: Mercury and Saturn separating Jupiter from his wife, or in some other way.

One thing we can be rather certain of, with or without the outer planets: the hubby was in the King’s “house”. This is shown by the application of simple and basic horary interpretation principles. In this case: an immediate past aspect with the King and being in an incepted sign in the King’s house. Whether he was captured, surrendered, defected or was an outright spy going to report to his employer, we cannot know. 

When will he return?

The querent asked when her husband would return, so the timing must be in the chart. Lilly tells us he returned in the second week of July. That is about 2.5 months from the chart date.

The Moon, the co-significator of the querent, is very fast. It leaves its wartime ordeal in Aries and enters its exaltation in the Venusian peace of Taurus in a little over three degrees.

That is: the querent becomes happy in about 3 months or less. Within the context that means the husband returning home. That is the timing


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