The Debate About Ancient Systems of House Division

The Debate About Ancient Systems of House DivisionEpisode 54 of the podcast is a follow-up to episode 52 where I gave a lecture on whole sign houses, which I presented as an advocacy piece that was structured around 12 arguments for why I personally think that it is the best approach to house division.

There was a bit of controversy on Facebook after I released the episode last Sunday, partially due to how I framed the lecture as whole sign houses being the “best” system of house division, but also because some astrologers felt that I did not give an accurate or nuanced enough depiction of the history of the development of the house division issue in the Hellenistic tradition, and specifically the role that quadrant houses played in the early part of the tradition.

There were also some additional points raised about other arguments I made in favor of whole sign houses during the lecture.

The most vocal critic of the lecture was Deborah Houlding, who said that most if not all of my arguments were either false or misleading, and expressed that she was concerned that I was misleading the public with my presentation.

In response I invited her to join me for an episode of the podcast so that we could talk about and debate some of the specific points that she raised, and so that she could offer an alternative point of view to my arguments. She accepted the invitation and asked what the earliest date was that we could have the discussion, and then we scheduled the episode for two days later.

In the first half of the episode we mainly focus on some of the debates surrounding the development of different forms of house division in the Hellenistic astrological tradition, which occupies the first several hundred years of what is essentially the practice of traditional western astrology, and then in the second half of the episode we shift our focus towards some of the other arguments that I made elsewhere in my lecture on whole sign houses.

I believe that this is the longest episode of the podcast I’ve ever done, and during the course of it we covered a lot of ground.

I include links to a number of different papers that deal with different aspects of the issues that we discussed in the episode below, so please be sure to check those out if you would like to research some of the topics that we talked about more deeply.

Links to Relevant Articles

Here are links to some articles that were mentioned in the podcast, as well as other material that addresses the issue of ancient house division:

Listen to This Episode

You can either play this episode of the podcast directly from the website or download it as an MP3 to your computer by using the buttons below:

Comments

  1. Wow! That was hard to listen to. I don’t understand Deb’s need to nitpick with you and come down on you and criticize you. You are entitled to your opinion, and if you think Whole Sign house system is the best, then you have the right to say that and stand by it. I happen to agree with you. Once one applies it, it’s like the world opens up. Deb seems to have a real issue with nitpicking tiny little details and bludgeoning people into seeing things her way. It’s just sad to me that she tried to discredit you and your opinion as not being valid. I enjoy listening to people who are more supportive of each other, much like yourself, as opposed to people who always criticize others.

  2. Great pod cast Chris. A real heavy weight scrap between two hard fighters! Loved it. We need more open debates regarding astrology’s differences, instead of pussy footing around issues. Debs said you (Chris) had a “Loaded value system.” as if this was an awful thing. You defended your position intelligently and eloquently with evidence from reliable historical sources and top astrologers.

    What is needed to finally decide which house system is correct or which house system is most reliable. So where Is the evidence based search? Surely with so many intelligent, intellectual astrologers somebody would take on this mantel??
    I have been studying astrology for 30 years as a bumbling amateur and I have not a clue which is the best house systems!LOL

    Though I mainly use topocentric and whole signs. Keep up the good work Chris and well done Debs for coming onto the pod cast.

    • I think Debra Houlding made an excellent suggestion when she said to pick a system that supports what is important to you as each system has its strength and weakness. In a way, our intuition can also be our guide. I for one cannot wait to read her book. I too have studied for over thirty years, and actually took a class in the mid 70’s where we hand calculated charts using tables, but have never understood why there are so many systems until late. Howard Sasportas and others since the 70’s have given explanations of the different systems, and even he (and others) experimented, changed, and then settled on one. Non whole sign users definitely have their preferences. Liz Green, in a lecture on outer planets from the eighties was very clear that her preference for Placidus was because of the extreme importance of the angles and that the quadrant system made that very clear. She did not want the MC or ASC any where but on the angle. I get this – it feels right as maddening and inconvenient as it is to have houses (places) sharing signs. Personally, I just can’t quite reconcile the MC for example, being anywhere but the 10th and have reservations about the signification of the 10th H being pulled into the house where the MC resides if it does not land in the 10th in the whole sign system. This, to me, is an argument against WHS. BUT, the distortion of the houses at extreme latitudes in the quadrant system has to be addressed. I know more than a few Alaskans and their charts are just crazy. I would like to see a panel discussion with a moderator addressing some of these points. The moderator could keep a time limit on response. In response to Barb in a previous comment – I felt Houlding was very gracious and acknowledged her respect for Chris. She is passionate about her position and cares deeply about the influence of this forum and I think that check and balance is critical if we are to have a scholarly credibility. The debate needs to happen. She is a heavy weight with great respect from the astrological community. Critique is good and It seems to me Chris welcomes it and can handle it just fine.

  3. Sara Victoria says:

    Excellent! Many thanks to you both!! Keep ’em coming!

  4. Chris you bring much value to astrology. That podcast was hard to listen to cause Debra seemed to need to scold you without having the facts of what you said to back her up. She also interrupted you a great deal and seemed to want to kind of bully you. You are an excellent example of how to debate in a solid and professional way.

    I would really like to hear this same debate with you and Mark Jones and then you and Steven Forrest. House systems are such a major item in astrology and the topic is worthy of more debates.

    I’ve been taught to work with both Whole Signs and Placidus or Porphory or Koch. Whole Signs seems to ring true in regard to the charts I look at more than the other house systems. Thank you again Chris for your significant and ongoing contribution to astrology for the benefit of all.

  5. Deborah made good points that were more understandable at the 1:54 time and to the end of the podcast. I appreciate what she said about the major relevance of angular placements with quadrant house systems. Wish I better understood how to think about my 1st house, 5 planet stellium in Placidus versus my 2nd house, 6 planet stellium in Whole Signs. My astrology teacher said that one could even say that I have a 7 planet stellium. That is something to wrestle with and being more clear on house systems and which methods one can better rely on would help.

    Deborah also made a good point about how Chris has such natural communication talents and is seen as an expert historian – so he would want to be careful at how he presents his topics cause he might be too easily believed as the expert authority. No one wants to see helpful techniques tossed aside for one absolute truth. In other professions we often talk about the pros and cons of this approach versus that approach. I would welcome more clear understanding of using Placidus or Porphyry for this and using Whole Signs for that and how to balance them. In general I find that Whole Signs house system better represents the people I look at including famous people.

    It would help to better understand how to use at least 2 house systems and get the best from each. Seems we’re a long way away from only using one. A discussion of how to blend / balance the lenses would be nice.

  6. Nanette Furman says:

    Ooof. I couldn’t make it all the way through this . There was good data, but I kept having to breathe deeply and acquire patience. I congratulate Chris on clarity, patience, and scholarly back up. I don’t actually, having listened to the original podcast on the whole sign houses, see how anyone could get that bloody offended by it. It was clearly stated to be a pointed lecture, not a balance delve into history.. It did not in any way come across to me as, well, unwarranted. Ah well, some folk are easily triggered.

  7. I would like to reiterate what I have previously touched upon. Chris was right about WS being the predominate house system for the Hellenistic period i think even Debs agreed on this, though it was not the only one.

    But I think more important and this seemed to be lost in the discussion…… Is the elephant in the room…….”Which house system consistently over a long period of time through properly regulated study, yields the most consistent results?.”
    Until somebody (please anybody) can prove a house system is superior to another then we are dealing with a nothing argument. I feel Debs got so cross (She inadvertently used this word out of context during the discussion) because it was challenging not only her house system but all the astrological tools she had come to respect, rely on and utilise over along period of study. This can be understandably painful when somebody (Chris in this instance) challenges your astrological foundations and beliefs?? Only properly unbiased experimentation and research can hope to sort this mess out! To many astrologers use the cop out “Well if it works for you etc” This is not conducive to the public taking our art and science seriously?

    • Chris Brennan says:

      Just for the sake of clarity, I don’t think that Deb did ultimately end up agreeing that it was the predominant house system in the Hellenistic tradition.

  8. Great three podcast debate on house systems. So necessary to get history straight but on the other hand we can clearly see how translators ‘interpret’ the meaning of the text differently. Can you please post the James Holden paper on the original of house systems please or give the link to Skyscript for this paper??

  9. Phew! Well I’m about halfway through right now. I will certainly listen to the rest, but I wanted to take the time to add some thoughts I’m having on the discussions I’ve already heard.

    Thanks so much Chris for having this debate. These are the kinds of discussions needed in order to raise the bar for intellectual inquiry into the how and why of astrology. “Making Astrology Smarter” would be a good tagline for your website, as it seems to be the central goal of the work that you do. This being said, I have no problem whatsoever with people giving reasoned arguments for best practices or best systems in astrology. I think the attitude of ‘anything goes’ in astrology has made the astrological community at large increasingly numb in an intellectual sense. And rather lazy, quite frankly. Deborah Houlding is not intellectually numb or lazy but I think she may have a blindspot that prevents her from being able to see this trend in the community. She has the great fortune of being surrounded by astrologers who really value scholarly research. Sadly, her circle does not represent the majority of astrologers. If we want astrology to be taken seriously and if we want to make truly meaningful breakthroughs in astrological research then people should be pushed to question their own practices.

  10. I apologise for posting another comment on the post but it is a subject close to my heart. I wondered it Debs would do a podcast purely from the quadrant house position to balance out Chris’s lecture on WS??
    The only theoretical issue I have with WS is in the case of twins as all the houses would be the same unless the second birth/twins went into the next rising sign.

    I’m friends with two lots of twins one set female and the other male. The twins lives have gone in total different directions. One of the twins went to Prison and was a womaniser the other a family man with a steady job. On the female set one twin could not have children and was very out going the other twin a home Mum with children. Unfortunately I don not have their times of birth though I asked!! LOL I think I mentioned this to Chris sometime ago about differences in twins and I think he mentioned the importance of the lots?
    Be interested if anybody has any suggestions on this I think it would be a valuable study of twins with exact birth times.

  11. Hi Chris,

    Great podcast!!!

    I certainly agree with your agreement and I just don’t understand Deb’s nitpicking…and she was so incoherent in her speech in the early part of the discussion that I wanted to throw something at her but then…

    Nowhere does anyone claim that WS sign house was the ONLY house practised by the ancients. The claim that Chris made was that WS house system was the original and predominant house system and not the only system. But Deb seemed to miss or ignored this and kept mentioning that quadrant house systems were mentioned in the ancient text, That’s really weak argument becuase that only showed the existence of quadrant house system! The arguments for WS as original and predominant house system far outweighs the opposite… in my opinion. AND when quadrant house system is mentioned it is always mentioned with certain techniques.

    Another thing: Deb did mention (?) that she finds it weird that an ancient astrologer would use one house system for one technique and another for another technique. I just don’t see a problem with that. Different techniques may well use different divisions for perfectly good reason that is not clear to us but may well be very clear to the ancients. My simple logic would say that to embellish via quadrant that originated from WS is far far believable than the other way round!

  12. That was difficult to get through. I wish Deb had let you finish your sentences instead of cutting you off constantly. She seemed more I nterested in saying what she had to say than listening to what you had to say. Still … so good to hear the discussion. Thank you for bringing the talks to us.

  13. Deborah Houlding says:

    Hi Astrojin
    As I would rather spend my time making the source material more widely available than taking up each point from individuals, all of whom are entitled to their opinion, I would like to make one detailed response to your comment here, and hope that it addresses some of the other points raised by other contributors.
    I suspect the reason that you “just don’t understand Deb’s nitpicking” is because of this comment that you addressed to Chris: “The arguments for WS as original and predominant house system far outweighs the opposite… in my opinion.”
    The strong evidence we have that this was not the case has been ignored (willfully, I think) for many years, so IMO it is time now for the matter to get more exposure. If I am to be seen as ‘nitpicking’, so be it, because when what we do know about ancient house division gets reduced to a blanket statement that “all of the ancient astrologers were using it (ie., whole-sign)” then I think it is time for a few nits to be picked.
    Was Whole Sign the original system? Not according to Valens, who instructs us to calculate the houses by using the degree of the ascendant as the commencement point for the first house of life, with each house following suit so that – as he clearly explains in book 9, in his section on The Twelve Places – houses are expected to overlap two signs, with their cusps falling within the signs and not at their boundaries. Valens describes this as being the system of Asclepius, and employed by many Egyptians and Chaldeans. That would make it far older than anything we possess that shows the use of house division in practice.
    Almost all of the evidence that is supposed to demonstrate whole-sign being the predominant practice of ancient astrologers comes from the fact that Valens appears to apply it liberally in practice. The importance of Valens is underlined by the comment made by Neugebauer and Van Hoesen on p.176 of Greek Horoscopes: “Without Vettius Valens we should have only five examples of “literary horoscopes before A.D. 380”.
    Yet Valens left no chart diagrams, and some of the textual chart descriptions he gives appear to contain errors of technique – though the assumption of error would be removed if we allowed the possibility that he did not always take a simplified approach of expecting each house to fit to one sign exactly. In fact we know that he did not because he outlines at least two examples (book II) where he pointedly demonstrates that when you calculate the chart correctly – according to the instruction he gives for determining the angles precisely in book I, then “two Places fall together in one sign, or a presumed angle really just precedes the angle”. He stresses the need to observe this correctly, when working with techniques such as profections.

    There is certainly no evidence, and no good reason, to assume that the clear instruction he gives in book 9 about what the houses mean and how to calculate them is meant to apply to certain techniques only. He shows that they are relevant for natal themes, for the use of derived houses, and for the employment of time-lord techniques – nothing in that passage indicates an expectation that this approach is only used when calculating the length of life. Hence, when the Classical scholar Mark Riley discusses Valens use of houses, he explains, without any hint of controversy, that the first house, or “Place” for Valens is “the 30° arc beginning at the ascendant, the II Place is the next 30° arc, and so on”. I don’t think that anyone can doubt Riley’s authoritative position as an expert commentator on Valens’ life and work.
    In addition, the most ancient of the existing documents we possess appear to show house cusps that are calculated to degree precision (See GH, p.28 ff for the text of P. Lond 98, and how the authors refer back to this in their analysis P. Lond 110, p.42, with the comment that this appears to show identification of ‘lots’ and ‘topoi’).
    Also consider that the *only* example of a preserved and detailed chart diagram within the whole assortment of texts described in Greek Horoscopes demonstrates the use of quadrant house division. I show the chart and explain its features at http://www.skyscript.co.uk/greek_horoscope.html
    Chris told the listeners of his podcast, or viewers of his accompanying PDF, that virtually all Hellenistic astrologers were using the whole-sign method. He omits reference to Firmicus, whose work describes the use of equal house, but specifies the names of “Ptolemy, Valens, Dorotheus, Rhetorius, Manilius, etc” as if there is any good evidence of those astrologers applying it in practice. There is, of course, no evidence at all that allows us to conclude that it was employed by Manilius or Ptolemy, whilst Dorotheus – where he gets specific – describes the use of quadrant division. Rhetorius is notable for giving very specific and very detailed instruction on how to calculate each house cusp precisely according to the system that later became known as Alcabitius. He demonstrates with the example of a nativity, showing that these are the house cusps that are expected to be applied to the chart as a whole, and not just for specific techniques such as determining length of life by primary directions. (See the example here, as published in Greek Horoscopes, p.138-140 –
    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=kEgnLpm06zQC&lpg=PP1&dq=greek%20horoscopes%20neugebauer%2C%20Rhetorius&pg=PA139#v=onepage&q&f=false).
    There are many similar examples that show ancient astrologers calculating and expecting the calculation of precise house cusps for general astrological consideration (see for example GH p.132, which shows another clear chart example from the case notes of Hephaistio).
    In his 3rd argument in support of whole sign houses, which supposes that this method received the theoretical approval of historical astrologers, Chris claims “The Shift to Quadrant Houses was sudden and not very well considered” which he supports by various suggestions, such as mathematicians showing off skills by creating new systems. My concern is the impression this could give to many new astrologers, that quadrant systems were suddenly developed within the 9th century, when we know that they have a very ancient lineage and a position of great importance in ancient astrology.
    What happened in the 9th century was not the sudden development of quadrant systems, but a great deal of translation of ancient Hellenistic works by Arabic authors, who provided many detailed texts that have been better preserved. So it wasn’t a case of quadrant houses suddenly coming into awareness at that time; but that from that point on, we clearly see the expectation that the 10th and 4th places commence from the MC and IC, with developments of arguments about the best mathematical techniques to use to determine the intermediate house cusps. From my own replication of many historical charts over various periods of history, the four alternate quadrant systems that are nearly always able to replicate the details are Porphyry, Alcabitius, Regiomontanus and Placidus.
    There is much more to be explored yet, so I hope the discussion continues. Feel free to use me as the target of your projectile wish-fulfilment whilst it does 🙂

    • Chris Brennan says:

      These would have been good points to debate in our 2 hour and 16 minute discussion, and I wish that you had raised more of them then, rather than focusing on whether Holden said that whole sign houses was the original and the predominant house system in the Hellenistic tradition (which he did). I obviously have counterpoints to just about every argument you have made here, such as for example pointing out, like Rob Hand has, that Firmicus gives delineations for the Sun in the 1st house both in a night chart AND in a day chart, and the day chart delineations only make sense if he was using whole sign houses in the delineations, because the Sun would have to be above the horizon. I have already given way more time to this debate in the past couple of weeks than I intended though, and I don’t have time for additional point-by-point refutations, because I have to move on to other obligations and projects.

  14. Deborah Houlding says:

    The use of whole sign houses is not the only way to make sense of that point Chris. Many Hellenistic astrologers specified, as Ptolemy and many medieval and renaissance authors did, that if the Sun (or any planet) was placed within the five degrees that had pre-ascended the ascendant it should be considered a first house planet (so it would be described as being in the first house in a day-time chart). Alcabitius, for example, explains how the Sun can be allowed to be the hyleg (as a first house planet) in a diurnal chart if it is “within the 5° above the ascendant” (IV.4. 66-69). I use David McCann’s edition of Firmicus, where the placement of the Sun in the first house by day is described as being “on the ascendant” (for example: “If the Sun is on the ascendant by day, Jupiter on any angle … etc” and “But also if the Sun is on the degree of the ascendant and Saturn on the MC”). By contrast, the passage which describes the effect of the Sun in the first house by nights refers to the Sun as being “in the first house by night”.

    • Chris Brennan says:

      Yes, I know you have many different rebuttals and mental gymnastics in order to justify your beliefs, some of which are reasonable points, and many of which are not. As I said above though, I am not interested in continuing this debate with you right now.

  15. I think this debate is going to roll on and on. I can tell you are both being worn about by this discussion but it is needed. I respect you both for your differing beliefs on the house system and your passion. Only serious research will ever solve the million dollar question…….. which works most efficiently. This is what really matters no who is first ,last, or the historical high ground! God Bless you both.

  16. Hi Deborah,

    THANK YOU for the respond. To get a personal respond from you (a respectful scholar) is certainly a pleasure!

    I was using you as a “projectile of wish fulfilment” mainly because I was irritated by your approach in the dialogue (I get easily irritated by people who cannot hold an argument long enough and keep on jumping from one topic to another incoherently without really answering/responding to the topic at hand. In addition, you keep giving the same “answer” which does not really answer the questions presented. If you are saying that the ancients use quadrant house system then – nobody would want to challenge that… in fact the ancients use both (judging by textual explanation and whatever charts we have). WS house system needs not be explained as it is so simple which is why when it comes to quadrant house system, the ancients took their time to explain…

    Calculating the degree of ascendant is important regardless of what house system one uses as it is the most important point in a native’s chart. So important that it determines a person’s destiny. In addition, the same degrees of other signs are also activated (not through aspects but simply having equal number) – thereby creating the cusps of equal house systems. Just like a sign is connected to another via aspects, equal ascension, etc. so is degree (esp. of the ascendant) to other degrees of the same number and also (less so) through same monomoiria. This is also why when the degree of ascendant is directed via equal ascendant (primary direction), it activates all the degrees that it reaches (not just the degrees it aspects) with different outcomes to those same degrees without aspects…

    Anyway, it is certainly a good topic to discuss and until next time (or probably not judging from Chris’ response), I will tell myself to be nicer!

  17. Deborah Houlding says:

    I don’t mind at all about a need to be nice Astrojin – apart from the fact that I think you are generally decent and polite anyway the invitation to comment asserts “Speak your MInd” does it not? By the same token it puzzles me that some contributors here think I sounded cross in the podcast, when I didn’t feel cross and can be heard to be laughing at some points. Probably the mistake I made was to continue a long discussion with Chris that had started the evening before, as if the conversation was still continuing between the two of us. And yes, fair comment that the conversation jumped about too much because of that – and also because some points that I expected to be briefly covered caused me confusion, because I expected Chris to accept those points quickly so we could move on. We would not have been having the discussion at all if Chris had not given the impression that Holden stated that *all* ancient astrologers were using it [whole sign]. I wanted to clarify that was not Holden’s position whilst struggling against what seemed like an attempt to manufacture another objection on my part which I do not hold. There are other shades to this but they are too tiresome to linger over. It was always going to be difficult when an invitation to give the other side of the argument turns into a debate which is hosted by the person I am debating with. I think Chris did his best in a difficult set of circumstances, and I did not do my best for various reasons of my own.
    Still, I think it has led to a very valuable opportunity to highlight and bring more attention to the issues, and that is the important thing. You see, even in this thread Astrojin you state (above) “AND when quadrant house system is mentioned it is always mentioned with certain techniques”. But my argument is simple: that is not the case, and there are far too many occasions when astrological teachers squeeze what can be known into neat little packages that suit the argument they want to make, for reasons of their own. (I am not directing that comment particularly at Chris, but pointing out that this happens as a norm).
    Beginning tomorrow I am going to start a long process of making important references available on Skyscript and opening up the issues for renewed evaluation. It will be a long process because individual quotes, by themselves, can give a misleading indication of what was in the astrologer’s mind. It is the cross-reference of passages, not only within the work of one author, but also against what one astrologer says, and what other contemporary astrologers claim, or claim was meant to be said by other authors, that gives us a better understanding of the conventions of any era as a whole. Each individual statement is like a small piece of a complex jig-saw puzzle that needs to be put together carefully. None of us should be claiming to have the ultimate answer yet, but I do think we can immediately start shifting the supposed consensus of some things, based on some pretty clear evidence that we have access to.
    And Steve, I’d just like to say thank you for your remarks which are appreciated.

    • Your quote:
      “Beginning tomorrow I am going to start a long process of making important references available on Skyscript and opening …”

      That would be splendid!

  18. It is a pleasure Deb’s, you and Chris both do a great job and deserve much praise from the astrological community. Sky Script and Chris’s pod cast are excellent sources of material. I love your book on The houses “Temple’s in the Sky” and Chris’s course in Hellenistic astrology is excellent. My own research into the house system rumbles on….. I have several of my children’s (accurate) birth times to help me from 19 up to40! LOL

  19. Since this was a talk that took place at my astrology school, with my students and a fair amount of my local community present, I’ve wanted to respond for a while now but also wanted to wait and think everything through before saying anything. Mostly because I very much admire both of these astrologers, and also because it was me who invited Chris to give this talk, and the two of us who agreed it would be a fun attempt to argue the case for whole sign houses (something I’ve changed over to in my practice in the past year for many of the same reasons Chris mentions in his lecture, though many of these conclusions I arrived at through my own studies, including most of the references Deb and Chris discussed in their debate).

    At any rate, I asked my students to reflect on Chris’ talk and also on the ensuing debate. One of my students wrote this, and I’m including it anonymously because I think it is fair and reflective of most of my own thoughts as well as those of a number of our students.

    My student wrote:

    I can’t listen to more than an hour of this “debate” because Houlding comes across as someone who is uninterested in really listening to Brennan in the podcast or taking in his original talk at Nightlight without a “gotcha” agenda. She seems more interested in proving she’s “right” than actually entering into a well-reasoned debate. I found Brennan’s talk to be informative, scholarly and funny. It seems her main issue with his talk was that he dared to approach the topic with a strong point of view, which I think is the first step in arguing anything, right? I thought he made it very clear that his title was a tongue in cheek use of hyperbole to spark debate not shut down independent thought. It baffles me how Houlding and other astrologers missed that. Also I find her argument on Facebook that she took issue with his talk because it “misleads the public,” somewhat condescending. It’s as if she thinks other astrologers or particularly your students can’t think critically or research for themselves and that she has to protect them from villainous mind molders like Brennan. Listening to the podcast it seems to me that Houlding is the one more interested in upholding and controlling student’s information and perspectives on Ancient house systems than Brennan. Her book on the houses is great though…

    —————

    Similar to my student I have to say that I think its somewhat condescending to assume that those who listened to his talk aren’t capable of being critical thinkers, or understanding that Chris’ claim was intentionally provocative or that he was arguing a point of view. The idea that Chris is misleading the public also feels to me like a mechanism of control or regulation when contrasted with the fact that throughout most of their debate Deborah doesn’t present rational arguments against Chris’ arguments (in fact she seems to avoid it) but instead more generally just disapproves of Chris having strong claims or ideas about whole sign houses. I agree with a number of my students who said that it seems like Deborah thinks she should be in charge of how exactly traditional theory or house arguments based in traditional theory are presented, or that she’s somehow in a better position of authority to present classical ideas about houses.

    Additionally, I took issue with Deb saying that Chris has a “loaded value” or loaded value system. The opposite could also be fairly criticized…why shouldn’t we have strongly formed opinions or ideas about what systems or ways of doing astrology are the best, most accurate, or most coherent, etc? Isn’t it possibly distorting and misleading to suggest that any and all forms of astrology are equal or valid? Even if we grant that astrology is divinatory in nature…are all forms of divination born equal? Are they all rooted in truth? Are they not capable of distortion? I’m not saying it’s easy to discern these things, or that there aren’t multiple valid approaches in astrology, but it strikes me as negligent to think that we shouldn’t have strong ideas or make strong claims about what tools or methods we think are superior to others in astrology. I

    At the outset of the talk Chris said that they didn’t want to have a quadrant based versus whole sign debate, but I actually think that debate was the skeleton in the closet pf this talk (I think Deb simply prefers Quadrant based house systems), and I would have rather seen that debate actually take place than what ended up feeling to me like a less reasonable attack against Chris for having an educated and well researched position or argument. If not this, then I wanted to see Deb make it clearer why she thinks having a strong position on such a subject is bad or misleading..which I don’t think she accomplished.

    Like I said earlier…I was hesitant to post anything in response. Maybe because I’m younger than both of these astrologers in my work, and I admire both of them a great deal. smile emoticon But in the end of the day since it took place at my school I felt like I should chip in!

  20. Clever stuff, all. This is indeed the kind of thing that’s needed to consolidate the current state of astrology for the future. Without this kind of earnest debate, people like Mashallah, Valens and even Ptolemy would never have been compelled to do what they did.

  21. @ Adam ” I thought he made it very clear that his title was a tongue in cheek use of hyperbole to spark debate not shut down independent thought. It baffles me how Houlding and other astrologers missed that.”
    She did not miss this at all – she stated more than once that she understood what he was doing with this – trying to make a clever title and pulling people in with this (which personally, I did not think was very clever or funny and certainly did not need to be explained – kind of takes the wry out of tongue in cheek when you have to tell people it is tongue in cheek). Why not just title it. “Why I use the Whole House System”, or “An Argument for Using Whole Houses” i. To be fair to Chris he did suggest that people experiment – try out different systems – etc. I felt this was a balanced approach. I am experimenting. Houlding is a scholar and took issue with justification and interpretation of the texts referred to. She was not at the top of her game for whatever reason – and she has explained that in this forum. Maybe this debate should have been kept private until it was better organized and calmed down a bit. I am glad it took place – I have never been entirely convinced of WHS and after Chris’ lecture had many unanswered questions. I could pick apart your comment and take the transcript of the “debate” and clearly show where you have misinterpreted a few things. There is a lack of accuracy in your comment. Now I am really hot to get over to Skyscript – but still remain open.

  22. The idea that an astrologer would use more than one house system absolutely makes sense. There are other disciplines where practitioners have and use multiple systems simultaneously to analyze/diagnose a person or problem. It might not be easy to do but it is really simple. Life and people are very complicated and each individual or chart or technique may require a different system or more likely multiple systems to give the best results. It is an artifact of the modern industrialized-standardized cookie cutter mindset to believe that there is only one right way or even one always better way. Hopefully, this “debate” will spark more research into the ancient and modern combining of WS and Quadrant systems within a given chart interpretation.

  23. Congratulations, Chris on your remarkable patience, diplomacy and fairness. Articulating Deb’s arguments for her went above and beyond!

    Deb’s deplorable, disrespectful demeanor, on the other hand, made the podcast excruciating. She interrupted and talked over you too many times to count, mostly to launch into rambling, incoherent, run-on sentences. In addition, she presented few positive arguments for quadrant houses (either being used during the Hellenistic period or being better than whole-sign houses). Mainly, she just tried to undermine your arguments without offering a positive alternative.

    Passion is no excuse for being unprofessional and impolite. There is a difference between actually listening to the other person and just waiting (or not, in this case) for one’s turn to speak. May I respectfully suggest that Deb take a page from some other metaphysical teachers and learn to take a deep breath, listen and respect.

  24. I think you going over the top Grace. Debs is a feisty Yorkshire lass made of pure British steel. Chris does not need any help in defending his position, he is a big boy and can more than hold his own ground.
    Please don’t take out the passion out of astrology. The fact is nobody at the moment can say with all honesty which is the best house system. Until then let the battle continue! But with just a little Grace?

    • I agree Steve – no one needs to be coddled here and whilst calmer debates are perhaps easier to listen to they can also be a bit of a snooze. Speaking of which, would someone please wake me when all this is over? I like a few ground rules and these rules keep shifting. Not sure how many more times I can change house rulers based on house division and still get my head around all of this. So I am keeping my own notes and watching the timing of events in my own life and trying to stay a bit flexible. I think modern astrology is going in the direction of the sushi burrito a bit and that is ok too if it works. Astro does work. I am liking the use of traditional rulers but see the outer planets clearly holding sway in world events. I see Saturn as clearly being the Lord of Karma in the present but have an inconclusive feel about Pluto as being the Karma of Legacy – perhaps because it is in my 12th H which means I get to fly blind with that one. If we study the science of epigenetics which states that trauma is inherited, is shown in the DNA, then clearly, there could be a correlation somewhere in the birth chart, and I find this fascinating. We know astro works, that is why we study it. So yes, let the debate and passion continue and as with Tarot, I think a bit of intuition also goes a long way when reading symbols – there is an Art to astrology as well, after all.

  25. Chris Brennan says:

    I’m closing off this page for further comments because I’ve transitioned into writing for the next few months and I don’t want to deal with any further distractions related to this debate.