• Search
  • Lost Password?

Whole Sign Houses: The Best System of House Division

Whole Sign Houses: The Best System of House Division

This episode of the podcast is a recording of a lecture I presented recently titled 12 Reasons Why Whole Sign Houses is the Best House System.

This talk was presented on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 as an evening webinar for the Nightlight Astrology group organized by Adam Elenbaas.

When Adam invited me to give a lecture for his group on whole sign houses I realized that I had never given a talk solely dedicated to just that topic before. So, I decided to frame my argument as more of a polemical set of arguments for why someone might adopt whole sign houses as their preferred method of house division. Basically, my goal with the talk was to discuss some of the most appealing historical, conceptual, and practical arguments in favor of that specific approach to house division.

Usually I tend to favor more nuanced discussions that incorporate different perspectives on things, but since it was just going to be a relatively short lecture I thought it would be better just to focus on some specific points in favor of the approach. It seems like a lot of people have been switching to whole sign houses recently, I wanted to show what it is that people are finding appealing about this approach.

Towards the end of the talk I did make some conciliatory remarks about the possibility of using whole sign houses together with quadrant houses, which is an approach that I do feel is worth exploring, even if I think that whole sign houses should still be the primary approach.

Below you will find the PowerPoint slides for the talk, a synopsis of the 12 arguments I made in favor of whole sign houses, and then links to download or stream the recording of the lecture.

PowerPoint Slides

You can download the PowerPoint slides that contain the diagrams and lecture notes for the talk below:

12 Reasons Why Whole Sign Houses Is The Best House System

This is a PDF file, so you will need to have Adobe Reader in order to open it.

12 Reasons for Why Whole Sign Houses Is The Best House System

A synopsis of the 12 arguments I gave in favor of whole sign houses in the talk:

  1. Whole sign houses was both the original form of house division as well as the dominant form of house division for the first thousand years of the practice of western astrology.
  2. Many of the core significations of the houses were first developed within the context of whole sign houses, and only make sense still today conceptually within the context of that framework.
  3. The shift to quadrant houses happened suddenly and may not necessarily have been very well-considered.
  4. It solves a long-standing dispute that astrologers have had for the past 1000 years now since the switch to quadrant houses occurred.
  5. Whole sign houses provides a stark contrast to other approaches, and is more readily testable than other systems.
  6. Transits through the houses are more clear, both in terms of when they start and end, as well as in terms of the circumstances associated with them becoming more evident immediately.
  7. WSH creates a better distinction between the 1st and 12th houses, so that planets that rise over the horizon do not immediately move into the 12th house, thus resolving a conceptual issue with the significations usually associated with that house.
  8. Provides a solution to the Gauquelin “plus zone” issue.
  9. Rectification becomes more straightforward.
  10. It has been the primary form of house division in India for almost 2000 years.
  11. It was used in the earliest texts on horary and electional astrology.
  12. It has recently been adopted by a number of leading contemporary astrologers, which is notable because it involves switching to a system that is different than the one they started with, rather than sticking with whatever approach they happened to first learn.


A transcript of this episode is available here: Episode 52 transcript

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:

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Really appreciated this presentation, thank you so much!
    I would have loved a comparison case study example or two… Like looking at a real chart in, say, Placidus and Whole Sign, and a significant transit that corresponded with noticeable events in the life – even if those events were more subjective… For if one posits a thesis, it’s really a question: What makes whole sign houses a superior method? Ease and history are cool, but unless they prove more accurate, what does that matter? I do find that using both yields more useful information than one, alone.. I’ve also noticed that sometimes a transit seems to ‘work better’ using one or the other, and wonder if you have noticed this, yourself? Love this podcast, and am so grateful you do it!! Deep bow <3

  • Using the Saturn transit example – if Saturn is a very early or very late degree of a sign, then the orb of influence(fifteen degrees in your example) does not hold true ? Does sign/house trump orb? It seems kind of crazy to have a 29 degree Saturn return over just like that once it has changed signs where a mid degree Saturn has this very long orb of influence. I have a 2 degree Saturn so am curious. Similarly regarding orb for aspects out of sign, would a 3 degree Aries trine a 28 degree Cancer? Here, aspect trumps sign and house using all house systems? Also, if a late degree (say 29 degree) planet is in a whole sign house then it can never be read in the next house as it would be in other house systems with the five degree allowance.? Example – I have a 29 degree Neptune in Libra that is just inside the third H in Placidus but clearly in the 2nd H in whole signs. I thought it would still be read in the third because of the house cusp situation, irrelevant of sign – that the justification was the proximity to the next house and the urgency that late degree holds wanting very much to be in the next sign, and in whole signs,the next house as well?. Curious you do not address interceptions and the many opinions of how that is to be read being eliminated in the whole sign system, also the difference of accuracy in the non whole sign systems when getting close to the north and south poles. A system should work any where in the world – without distortion. This problem goes away in whole signs. And finally, with any house system, what is the justification of only using 12 constellations etc? Can an exact 2 hour division be justified? I am not scientific so this baffles me. Lastly, I like the idea that a late degree 9th H MC or 3rd H IC in whole signs can seen to be pulling meaning to those houses from the significant angled houses (10th and 4th) but this seems to need justified as well.

  • Wonderful presentation. Thank you!!!! I’ve been using Whole Sign for a while now and it does yield the best results. I’m wondering about your point regarding transits – so if someone has the Sun at 20 Capricorn in the 5th house, do you mean that the native will feel Pluto on their Sun as soon as Pluto enters 0 degrees of Cap? Or were you just trying to make the point that the native will feel Pluto affecting 5th house things for the duration of its transit of that house.? Also, in regards to the MC, does one use the ruler of the MC for career matters or the ruler of the 10th house?

    • Barb – since I am at the end of my career life I have some perspective on this and interestingly enough – the sign and rulership of both the MC and the 10th H played an equal role, but the house location of the MC, being in the 9th in all systems, not at all. MC is at 28 degrees Taurus in the 9th H conjunct a 26 degree Venus. At one point very early on I aborted the idea of teaching a foreign language. I could go on but it will suffice to say that the career path has a very whole chart story to it. Ruler of the 10th in my example is also ruler of the ASC, and ruler of the MC is ruler of 2nd H of earned income etc. I have always studied astrology, a 9th H matter and adore foreign cultures and language, but neither one of these has been a career path for me. Rather, I had a Mercury ruler of the 10th in whole signs, and Venus, ruler of the MC combo all along.

      • Rob Hand said the MC/10th is what we do ‘for a life’, this often manifests as our work/career, but not always. It can be an avocation such as foreign languages and culture as it was in your case. 🙂

        • Thank you Gary for that important clarification. What I have done off work hours has always been more important to me but I have always, at least, been able to tie in the Venusian quality in the day job and that has made it bearable. Another clue here – I have a south node in the 10th and really, my work is not in the outer world as much as the inner. And to take the dance further as we seen in all charts, the NN is in Sag, and back to the 9th where the MC ruler is exalted ! Avocation indeed.

  • Very interesting to revisit this concept. I first learned about it when I took Medieval astrology from Bernadette Brady many years ago but I never really used it.

    I am from Denmark and my Asc. is in late Sagittarius and my MC in Scorpio, which would then be my 12th house! A bit weird, right! But, it nicely echoes Neptune conjunct my MC (1 degree orb). I didn’t think about that before. Well worth checking into. My partner for example was born in California, Cancer rising and Aries MC – cut and dry. But for those of us who were born at the northern or southern latitudes, the MC can be anywhere from in the 8th to the 12th house – kind of provocative. Will be interesting to see how it pans out.

    If I remember right from those classes, the ancient astrologers used the term “house” for what we call “sign”. Maybe it is in Liber Hermetis? That would of course be logical if they used a whole house system.

    Great talk, Chris!

    • I’m actually shocked that I forgot to include the point about the whole sign system resolving the issue regarding the distortion of the houses and quadrants that occurs in quadrant house systems when you are in extreme northern or southern latitudes, as that is one of the biggest arguments in favor of whole sign houses (or potentially equal houses for that matter). I put together this lecture kind of quickly in about a day just based on things I had been thinking about or talking about in other lectures for a while, so I guess it is not surprising that I forgot to include something, although still a bit disappointing that I left out such a critical piece of the argument. I guess that it is kind of implied in the basic premise though.

      Yes, the Greco-Roman astrologers referred to the signs of the zodiac as the homes or dwelling places of the planets, and that was the original idea underlying the idea of planets ruling signs. They referred to what we call the 12 “houses” as the 12 “places”, “regions”, or “sectors” (topoi).

  • Awesome lecture. I had never heard of Whole Sign houses till I started listening to your posts. My convincers were:
    no special status for Placidus..merely convenience. I had never heard that before. Simplicity. I am trying to simplify everything astrological to counteract the massive masses of data we can generate with one click of our computer software. I will experiment with this system. At first glance it may provide some perspective for our egos. In Quadrant systems our personal Ascendant is the center of the world. In Whole Sign just another degree within the 30, although still very important. Thanks again for this incredible lecture and I promise to sign up for Patreon soon.

  • Very nice show !

    I always felt something was weird with quadrant houses (too much emphasis on cusps, unbalanced houses), but whole sign houses are just perfect and it’s a pleasure to work with this simple system. It’s funny, now I use the houses a lot more in my work (before that, I was mainly using the signs, as I found them more reliable).


  • Is it possible that given the prevailing spiritual and philosophical orientation existing during the development of Hellenistic astrology, that later cultures decided to omit or change the concepts underlying the houses system due to cosmological conflicts? Hellenistic Joys and WSH’s seem to suggest some very specific concepts regarding the nature of the Soul. Only in the earliest authors do we find the 3rd referred to as “the place of the Goddess” and the 11th as “the place of the Agathodiamon (good spirit)”.

  • I am commenting well after broadcast so I’m not sure if this comment will be received. In any case – thank you for this podcast Chris. I do find your points persuasive and will also follow your advice to test out the whole sign house system. In that vein, do you know of anyone or any resource supporting any of the other house systems? I’d like to watch/listen to the other side (so to speak).
    May I seek your clarification too on two points? (1) What is your view of 0 degree planets, particularly on the WSH 1st and 7th cusps? Can these be interpreted as an asc-planet conjunction for example or is the interpretation reserved for the ascendant sensitive point? (2) If using the WSH system switches the sun from 6th to 7th house does that mean the chart is interpreted as a day chart or is that distinction made on a ‘horizon’ drawn from the ascendant sensitive point? At the time of my birth it looked like night (I distinctly remember it) so I am inclined to ‘want’ to keep my night chart status.
    I live near Lat. 43 in the southern hemisphere where I enjoy(?) reversed seasons, equinoxes etc., chart ‘distortions’ due to being nearer one of the poles, and sometimes long dawn/dusk periods. It would be great to find an astrological system that is more consistent with the experiences in my part of the world.
    By the way, I will check out the night/day situation on my next solar return, just to be sure. (I really don’t have any personal memory of my birth).

  • As a deaf person I want to thank you for providing a transcript! Yet to read it (I wanted to run in to offer my gratitude).

    • You’re welcome! The transcript is not perfect, as this is one of the earlier ones that we did when we were still working out the process. I’m starting to get it down though, and I hope to start making them available more regularly soon.

  • If you have Stellarium you can see that a planet 90 before the ASC is higher than the MC planet,but the MC is right in front of you.The Nonagesimal may be to the left-right. This is what puzzles me.Whats most important,verticality or altitude?

    • They are probably both relevant in different ways. First just recognizing the distinction like you have here is important.

    • I would recommend my book, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune. In the footnotes and bibliography for the first few chapters you will find some good reference works for other astrological traditions. There are not a lot of good works on Egyptian astrology at this point, but for Mesopotamian astrology I would recommend Francesca Rochberg’s work. Also a book titled Mesopotamian Astrology, by Ulla Koch-Westenholz. See also Michael Baigent’s From the Omens of Babylon, recently republished under the title Astrology in Ancient Mesopotamia.

  • Hi, Chris. Thank you for your amazing research and insights.
    Actually, i’m one of those cases still divided between the merits and accuracy tha both systems have: quadrants (i use, mainly , Alcabitius or Porphyry) and WSH.
    About WSH, i would like to ask you how would you interpret a close conjunction between two planets in different signs/houses (taking WSH as reference). I have Mars in Gemini/6th house (28º 29′) conjunct Jupiter in Cancer/7th house (1º 28′).
    Would you consider, in this case, that Mars could also be felt (even more intensely felt…) in the 7th house/sign? Would you recommend the use of orbs to the beginning of the signs/houses? If so, how many degrees do you think would be accepted/recommended?
    The truth is that, in my life and personality, there’s almos nothing that resembles like a 6th house Mars…at the same time, there’s a lot of 7th house Mars character(istics) and events.
    I would really appreciate any insight you can provide about this subject.
    Thank you,
    Pedro Soares (Porto, Portugal)

  • Whole Sign Houses is certainly one of the simplest and most dramatic shifts of technique I have experienced in terms of effectiveness. I have always been a bit reluctant to delve into Hellenistic astrology with gusto, but I switched to Whole Sign about a year ago and now can’t believe how clunky I find Placidus to be. Not that feeling clunky necessarily constitutes proof of ineffectiveness; more so that switching to Whole Sign Houses has made me a more effective astrologer philosophically as well as practically.

    I recommend everyone unfamiliar with WSH to this podcast as soon as the information is revealed.

  • Whole sign houses has been a revelation and revaluation, and I was initially skeptical; but no, my new third house Saturn and ninth house Pluto and Uranus and the rest completely click.

  • really loved this – thank you!
    As an historian myself, I like having access to the same methods of those who came before us. I also was totally blown away by the concept of the first house representing both the body/person and mind/soul. I used whole signs on my own chart where mercury and the sun both moved into cancer 12th house- that really was confirmation on a personal level that WHS is a good way to go xx