William Lilly’s Cheate Sheete

William Lilly’s Christian Astrology is the most famous and influential work on astrology in the English language.

Like most famous books, it is mentioned and revered much more often than it is read and studied.

There is a table in that book, which is labeled as, A Ready Table Wherefore to examine the Fortitudes and Debilities of the Planets.

This scoring system has become well known and is often copied, and computer programs that ‘score’ the planet’s dignities often use this table of values. So, the modern astrologer can enter a chart, print out a page, and there are all the scores already tallied.

Which is completely missing the point.

Lilly has many examples of reading and evaluating charts, almost all of them of horary, which answers a specific question. However, he uses the scoring system only twice – once, on a horary chart he spells out as an example to novice students, and again on the one example he gives of a natal chart interpretation.

So if his scoring system is so very important, why did Lilly himself use it so seldom in the example charts in his book?

It is now obvious to me that Lilly did not intend his famous table of dignities as a scoring system.

He intended it as a training device, to teach students what to scan for in a chart.

If you actually go through the process of taking a chart, and looking at the planets, one at a time, and evaluating them for all of the various qualities that Lilly mentions in his table of dignities, you are training yourself to pick out the important features of a chart. Go through that process and you will have a good grasp of the relative strength and weakness of the planets, and how they interact and influence each other.

That table of dignities is as close to a Cheate Sheete as he ever did.  It is a brilliant one page summary and teaching device of how to thoroughly scan and evaluate a chart.

I wish all young Beginners at first to write down their Judgements in length, and the reasons in Art, as fully as they can, and afterward to contract their opinions into a narrow compass: by following these directions, they will have the Rules of Art perfectly in their memory.” – William Lilly


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