The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 172, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Leisa Schaim
Episode originally released on September 22, 2018
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released May 1, 2023
Copyright © 2023 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, I’m Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode is recorded on Friday, September 21, 2018, starting at 3:59—actually it just turned 4:00. 4:00 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 172nd episode of the show. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit TheAstrologyPodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode, I’m gonna be talking with Leisa Schaim, and we’re gonna be taking some questions from listeners of the podcast that have been sent in over the past few months. Hey, Leisa, thanks for joining me today.
LEISA SCHAIM: Hey, Chris, thanks for having me.
CB: All right, so, yeah, I’ve been meaning to do a Q&A episode here for a while now, and there’s been both different questions that have been submitted over the past few months from listeners, there’s also some carryover questions from two other Q&As that I did earlier this year where I just didn’t get to all of the questions ‘cause there’s always more than we have time for. So, yeah, I thought we could do kind of a casual podcast going through them today. For those of you who—in the description for both the video version of this episode and the audio version, I’ll try to put a list of timestamps for what questions we address, as well as what time in the video or the audio that we address them. So if I don’t have that up already when you’re watching this then it means it hasn’t been created yet. But hopefully at some point we’ll have that up, so that you can sort of jump through to different parts of the recording if you want to skip certain questions. Let’s see. Any other preliminary stuff that we were supposed to cover—or that we should cover before we move on?
LS: Exciting shirts are in. The Astrology Podcast shirts.
CB: Right. We both have our cool, new Astrology Podcast shirts. So I’ve got my logo shirt for The Astrology Podcast.
CB: And which one are you wearing today?
LS: I’ve got the zodiac wheel, which is very colorful.
LS: You put it on a dark background.
CB: The zodiac one looks great. That was designed by Paula Belluomini. I literally, just like 30 minutes ago, got a package in the mail, the Llewellyn 2019 Daily Planetary Guide, and Paula is actually one of the designers. She just took over and is one of the co-designers for this calendar, which is like super exciting ‘cause this is one of the highest-circulation astrology calendars and planners that exists out there. And she just recently this year took over as the lead designer for this calendar, which is really awesome to me ‘cause she’s a good friend and has been a longtime person I’ve been working with on different design things. She did the cover for my book a couple of years ago. She also helped me to design the Planet Watcher calendars last year, as well as the Planetary Movements calendar. And I think she also just became the regional vice president of ISAR just a few days ago for Brazil. So, yeah, good job to her. And for the t-shirts, I guess you can find out more information about those—I have a link to them on the podcast website, which is TheAstrologyPodcast.com—if you go to the ‘Store’ section. So TheAstrologyPodcast.com/store, you’ll see a link to all the t-shirts. So, yeah, they’re nice and super soft.
LS: They are really soft actually.
CB: Right. ‘Cause I popped for the higher quality material ones that’s like an extra dollar—a few dollars to produce. But it ended up being worth it, I think.
LS: Mm-hmm, yeah.
CB: All right, cool. So let’s see, what else is going on? What have you been working on lately? Mainly electional stuff?
LS: Yeah, wedding elections. A few rectification requests have come in since we did that podcast with you, and me, and Patrick. And, yeah, I’d say that usual mix of those and consultations.
CB: Awesome. Yeah, you got a feature or were referred to in one of the major wedding magazines or something—
LS: Oh, yeah.
CB: And that’s been driving a lot of wedding elections your way, right?
LS: Yeah, it’s interesting. Someone from Refinery29 wrote a little brief article after they talked with me about how you might start going about choosing a good wedding date. And I mostly spoke about Venus signs and Moon signs. It didn’t get too intricate based on the length of what was possible, but it got reproduced on Brides.com—which is like a really high-circulating bridal magazine—and a couple other places. I don’t know how that really works—if they were okay with that being reprinted or what. But, in any case, the end result was that it was kind of all over the place.
CB: Right. Awesome. And you’ve also been doing a lot of natal consultations lately.
LS: Yeah, yeah, I’ve been really enjoying the natal consultations lately. And we’ll get into, I think, maybe something that touches on this in one of the questions in the Q&A. But it’s just always so interesting to see how basic placements can manifest in so many different ways in real life and in so many different specifics that are possible.
CB: Right. Definitely. All right, cool. Well, so, let’s get into it. So we’ve got a bunch of questions, they’ve come from a bunch of different sources. A lot of these, or most of them, are from patrons or people that support the podcast through our page on Patreon. We’ve got a few that are from Twitter and a few that are from Facebook. There were some recent ones that came through Twitter that are relatively quick and easy to answer, so I thought we’d knock out a few of those really quickly.
CB: All right, so, the first one that I wanted to knock out quickly—it’s from Carly Jane Lock @StellarReporter on Twitter. She says, “As far as celebrity endorsements of astrology goes, which famous personalities come to mind? Who regularly consults or has studied or has been vocal about their knowledge?” So I was trying to think of this and there were like a few that came to mind immediately—I know I’m spacing out on some—but the biggest celebrity endorsement in recent years that comes to mind for me is Robert Downey Jr. who is evidently a client of Steven Forrest, and who wrote an endorsement for one of his books just a few years back. I think it was on the cover of the book or the back cover of the book. He endorsed Steven as his astrologer and for his consulting knowledge because they’ve been working together for a while, I guess.
LS: Yeah, I’ve seen that around as well. And I think Sting was another one—if I’m remembering correctly—who was another ‘Steven Forrest’ person.
CB: Yeah. And one of the things that’s tricky about answering this question is the problem is that we don’t actually know. Probably like 99% or 95%, or some ridiculously high number of let’s say ‘celebrities’ who see astrologers you probably don’t know about because part of the ethics of being an astrologer and an astrological consultant is not sharing who your clients are, or having client privilege, or client privacy. Therefore, for the most part, unless somebody does go out of their way to endorse or mention you publicly, we’re not gonna know which astrologers have consulted with which clients. And it’s not really even something that astrologers necessarily talk about amongst each other. So while we know that Steven Forrest has seen clients like Robert Downey Jr. or Sting who have chosen to mention that they’ve seen Steven Forrest publicly just of their own volition, Steven, as one of the bigger astrologers, has probably seen a lot of other really famous clients that we’ll never know about.
LS: Yeah, definitely. I’m sure there are many famous people who do consult astrology that we wouldn’t know, so it’s really only these scattered ones here and there that talk about it. There was one that I found when I was preparing chart examples for the last conference, it was Tori Amos. I was surprised actually when I was looking through one of her biographies that she mentioned, kind of in passing, but still she mentioned very clearly that she had seen an astrologer, and they said ‘such-and-such’ about her chart. And I think she actually did mention the astrologer, but I can’t remember who it is now, and I don’t have the book on hand at the moment. So I was excited. It’s always exciting as an astrologer or a person just studying astrology to find those randomly in your daily life.
CB: Right. Yeah, definitely. And it’s like occasionally you come across—and I’m spacing out on a bunch of them. I mean, one that came up recently in the last episode that I forgot about was JK Rowling who is not a client. But evidently at an auction a few years back, some woman auctioned off a handwritten report, astrological report, that she said JK Rowling had done for her child when the child was like really young or first born or something like that, which indicated that before JK Rowling—who is the author of the Harry Potter books—before she found success writing the Harry Potter books had actually spent some time as an astrologer or had practiced astrology on the side for some period of time.
LS: Yeah, that’s really interesting.
CB: Yeah, but since she’s become bigger, as far as I know, it’s not something she talks about a lot or highlights a lot probably ‘cause it might have negative repercussions in terms of how some of her works are perceived, or some people might take offense to that or something like that.
CB: So that’s one. Another one that came to mind—I mean, the most famous instance of a celebrity who’s consulted with astrologers—as I’ve talked about in a past episode—has to be, undoubtedly, Ronald Reagan. And as I talked about in that episode, part of the issue was that he and his wife, Nancy, had been consulting with astrologers for years. And if you read some of his early biographies, he actually refers to this relatively openly, and there were a couple of astrologers that he considered to be actual friends. But then when it came out in the 1980s—when the story broke that he had been seeing astrologers and that they’d been using astrology partially in order to dictate his calendar and schedule certain things—when that story broke in the late 1980s there was a bit of a cover-up.
Part of the damage control that happened was they just sort of blamed it all on Nancy and said that it was Nancy’s infatuation with astrology because she was so worried about something bad happening to her husband after the first assassination attempt—or after the assassination attempt. And so, that was the damage control. Ronald Reagan himself doesn’t really believe in astrology, but he was just humoring his wife. But in reality, if you look back at his history, it becomes clear that he probably was much more interested in astrology and had more personal belief in it than they would have admitted at the time.
LS: Yeah, that was definitely one of the bigger ones. And I always feel like there’s probably people like that—other people involved with politics or involved with show business or different things who probably use astrology or have an astrologer but we just don’t hear about it most of the time.
CB: Yeah, I mean, there was this one—I’m spacing out his name—but there was one Nobel Prize winner who came out as endorsing astrology at one point, but then it wasn’t necessarily something that astrologers were getting on board with because he also turned out to be an AIDS-denialist or something at the time as well.
LS: That’s bad company.
CB: Yeah, so not really good company to keep necessarily, but occasionally you’ll run across weird ones like that as well. Yeah, anyway, those are the few that come to mind really quickly for me.
LS: Yeah, that’s about it, I think, too.
CB: Yeah, if anybody else knows of any other really good ones—there’s also a distinction between celebrities that know their Sun sign and that resonates with them and they’ve mentioned that publicly, which there’s been a bunch. I mean, Beyoncé has talked about being a Virgo. Rihanna has mentioned it; a lot of different celebrities like that. I think Drake, the rapper, just named his recent album after his Sun sign, which is Scorpio, so there’s a whole bunch of different things like that. But there’s a distinction between that vs. celebrities that have actually consulted with a professional astrologer or actually have more advanced astrological knowledge. It’s a little bit more rare and we know a little bit less about that because it’s more of a private thing vs. just people who know about their Sun sign or have endorsed that for whatever reason.
LS: Yeah, definitely.
CB: All right, cool. So if anybody knows of any other good examples, definitely let us know. So that’s the first question. Second question is from Astro Mag Dylan, which is from Twitter, @SoulXIIAstro, and “How to calculate a birth chart by hand?” was basically her question. It was a very brief question, but it was basically how to calculate a chart by hand. She said that she knew that it’s required for one of the NCGR tests, and so was curious how to go about doing that or starting to learn that. And this is one I can answer relatively quickly. There’s a book that I would recommend. It’s titled, Simply Math: A Comprehensive Guide to Easy and Accurate Chart Calculation, and you can find it on Amazon.
So this is the book. When I went to Kepler over a decade ago, in the second year, you had to learn chart calculation—how to calculate a chart by hand—and that was the book where I think originally two students of Kepler College ended up writing it as part of their final project. And then the book was so good that they ended up publishing it and it became the standard textbook at Kepler for learning how to calculate your chart. So I’d recommend getting that book. That’s not gonna be the only book you need because you also will end up needing three or four other reference books in order to actually calculate the chart. You’re gonna need an ephemeris, you’re gonna need a time zone atlas, and a few other things like that. You might need a table of houses if you want to calculate the Ascendant degree and the Midheaven and intermediate house cusps and other things like that if you’re using quadrant houses. So there’s actually several books that you end up needing but the Simply Math book is the starting point. And if you get that book it’ll tell you everything else you need, and it’ll walk you through all the steps in how to calculate your chart by hand.
On the one hand, it’s complicated ‘cause there’s a lot of steps involved—so I don’t want to make it sound easy, ‘cause it’s not super, super easy—however, once you really get into it, it is actually doable. When I was doing this through Kepler, I did get to the point where after, I don’t know, like a week or two of going through the steps, I could accurately calculate charts by hand, and I did calculate a few charts by hand. Unfortunately, I learned how to do that and then took a break from Kepler and came back and tried to take the test a few months later had promptly forgotten all of the steps. I think I failed the test—the chart calculation test at Kepler—even though a few months earlier I had successfully figured out how to calculate charts by hand. But nonetheless, it is possible, and it’s an interesting and somewhat useful skill to use because you actually understand the astronomy better when you start learning how to calculate it by hand. So it’s a good, kind of useful thing to know if you want to get deep into your studies of astrology.
LS: Yeah, I don’t have too much to add. It was so common for people when they started, before there was so much astrology software available, that it was required to know how to calculate by hand just to do anything with charts. And so, there’s at least one or two generations of older astrologers who had, at least at some point, been doing that out of necessity. But if you got in more recently then there’s always been software from the beginning, or even free things online like astro.com. So I can see the value of it, especially, like you said, in terms of visualizing what it all means astronomically. But it’s kind of a hard sell, I think—at least to a lot of people, myself included—when you get started, and everything’s right there for you, to feel like you need to go back and do that. Although I can definitely see the value in it, I haven’t so far.
CB: Sure. I know there’s sometimes some tension with some of the older astrologers who are annoyed that none of the younger astrologers know how to calculate a chart by hand because they feel like that’s a really integral component for them; an integral component in terms of learning astrology and becoming a competent astrologer was understanding or at least having some basic understanding of the astronomy. It’s not very common ‘cause most of the older astrologers don’t care. They’re just as happy as anybody else at this point to be able to just enter the data and calculate the chart and move directly to the interpretive side of things, since that’s really the side of everything that astrologers are the most concerned about, and what has always been the most focused on is what you do with the astronomy.
CB: But I have seen some comments over the years that some people are concerned that it makes astrologers now just advanced computer users or something like that rather than knowing. And there is a little bit more of a disconnect now more than there has ever been of astrologers not necessarily understanding or knowing the astronomy underlying things and that could be problematic in the long-term. So it is probably a good skill to learn at some point even if you don’t end up using it regularly to calculate charts.
LS: Right. Yeah, I could see that for sure, too.
CB: Sure. All right, so I think that’s it for that question. I get that a lot, so I thought it would be a good one to answer briefly since all I have to do is refer to that one book which will tell you everything you know about the subject. All right so that’s that question. Moving on to question three, this is by Andrew B. Watt on Twitter @AndrewBWatt. So he says, “There’s been lots of discussion recently about writing horoscopes, but you never said how to set up a chart to write horoscopes. So what is the procedure for setting a chart up to write a set of horoscopes?”
So what I’ve been doing over the past few months in my approach—and from what I understand of other astrologers’ approach, this is relatively standard—is I’ve just been using the ‘Animate’ feature on Solar Fire. I turn the chart so that whatever the Sun sign or the rising sign is that I’m talking about—I put that on the cusp of the 1st house. We’re just using whole sign houses. So if I’m doing a chart for the horoscope for, let’s say, Sagittarius and Sagittarius rising, I’ll just turn the chart so that the Ascendant is in Sagittarius. I’ll look at the chart from that perspective—just imagining I’m looking at a chart using whole sign houses with Sagittarius rising—and then you put the transits in relative to where they are for Sagittarius rising.
So we know if a person has Sagittarius rising that right now, for example, Saturn is going through Capricorn, and that’s the second sign relative to Sagittarius, so that would be their 2nd whole sign house; so then we interpret it basically as going through their 2nd house. Mercury is about to go into Libra or something. I guess Mercury’s in Virgo right now. Today we’re at the last tail-end of the cazimi.
CB: So that would be the, what, 3rd house? Or, no—I’m spacing things out. It would be the 11th house.
LS: For Sag? Sag, you mean?
CB: For Sag rising.
LS: Oh, yeah, it would be in the 10th, moving into 11th.
CB: Right. Virgo going into Libra. So you would interpret that as their 10th whole sign house vs. their 11th house and some of the significations associated with that. So basically, for me, it’s doing whole sign houses relative to the rising sign. ‘Cause one of the things that’s nice about writing horoscopes in the early 21st century at this stage is that it’s so easy to calculate your birth chart at this point online for free. And it’s becoming more and more mainstream, and it’s becoming more and more common knowledge that you have more than a Sun sign—people are starting to know that you should look at your Sun, Moon, and rising signs—and I can tell people that you should primarily look at this relative to your rising sign. And if you don’t know what your rising sign is then go to astro.com and look it up, and then come back and look at the correct horoscope. So, from my perspective, it’s kind of an easy transition doing that since I already use whole sign houses doing my basic birth chart delineations. So I’m just applying that to a person’s horoscope, looking at the transits through their houses, but otherwise not knowing any other natal positions in their chart aside from the rising sign, and that’s pretty much it.
LS: Right. Yeah, just basically advancing if you have an ‘Animate’ feature, or you can just pull up separate charts, just advancing what the transits will be through the entire month, which for some things it’ll be the same the whole month. Like the Saturn transit in Capricorn, that’s gonna be the same the whole month. And you can look for whether it’s a month where it stations or something like that and puts extra emphasis on whatever house that would be relative to the rising sign. But for other things that are more quick-moving like Mercury or the Sun, or lunations like New Moons and Full Moons, you just go through the entire month and see how far those planets get and what dates they switch signs and things like that. And then you can just use those as markers for more emphasis on those particular areas of life during those parts of the month.
CB: Right. Exactly. And for those watching the video version, here’s a little graphic that Paula actually just made for me for this month’s set of horoscopes, which I’m about to record. This is the one for Aries and Aries rising where it shows basically the transits this month and how far and what parts of the zodiac the planets will be moving through over the course of October of 2018. So it shows that there’s gonna be a New Moon in Libra in the 7th house for those with Aries rising. There’s gonna be a Full Moon in Taurus in their 2nd house. Venus is gonna go retrograde in Scorpio. Mercury’s gonna pass from Virgo through Libra and move most of the way through Scorpio over the course of the month. And so, you’re basically just looking at what houses, for the most part, those planets are gonna be transiting through relative to each rising sign, and that’s really the core of it. I mean, there’s some other things that you could look at about what the exact aspects are that month, if there’s any especially major hard aspects between planets. But for the most part this is it—just looking at transits through whole sign houses relative to each rising sign.
LS: Mm-hmm. I really hope that the ‘rising sign’ piece will catch on more with people more popularly the way that most people know their Sun signs. I hope more and more people understand and look up what their rising signs are. I was actually just getting a haircut a few hours ago, and the hairdresser next to me had a piece of paper taped to the mirror that said, “Do you identify with your zodiac sign?” which made me laugh ‘cause, of course, my hair-person knows that I’m an astrologer. And I told her that I really wanted to add another note underneath it, and I was like, “Can I, to say, ‘If you don’t, do you identify and know what your Moon and rising signs are’?” I did not get to add the note. But anyway, I hope that that becomes more common because I think some people identify more with their Sun signs, but if people don’t, they usually really will with their rising or Moon signs, or both. And that can make all the difference in people kind of understanding that astrology works vs. blowing it off.
CB: Yeah, definitely. And I do think it’s becoming more common. I mean, seeing the amount of younger people, especially on Twitter, who know their Sun, Moon, and rising, especially over the past year, it’s really changed my perspective and I’ve realized there’s been a generational shift over the course of the past decade or two. ‘Cause when you and I got into astrology—for me, it was starting in the late ‘90s/early 2000s, and for you, it was early 2000s as well—
LS: Early 2000s.
CB: Astro.com was a still relatively recent website that just started offering a lot of that stuff starting in the late 90s. So the ability, just historically-speaking, to get your chart calculated accurately and for free on a website was something that was new for us and our generation when we were just starting to learn it, when we were a little bit younger, like in our 20s. But for a lot of people, they’re growing up when that’s already been established for a decade or two now, and it’s something that a lot of people are doing. So it’s much easier and more common to have somebody mention that to you than it might have been in our time.
LS: Yeah, definitely. And I hope that just keeps spreading from people who are already involved with astrology to some degree to more of a popular knowledge that that’s a thing.
CB: Yeah, and it’s also easier ‘cause it’s moved from horoscopes just being in newspapers to people mainly reading them and consuming them online through blogs or now videos and things like that. And the astrologers, the practicing astrologers that are doing it want to move more towards interpreting it relative to the rising sign because that’s how they would interpret it if they were reading an actual birth chart. And so, they’re dropping references more to using the Ascendant. And I think partially what’s changing things as well is the astrologers have more freedom to say you can look at this relative to your Sun sign or your rising sign or your Moon sign or what have you.
LS: Yeah, that’s a good point. People have more space to say whatever they want to say about it.
CB: Yeah, there’s less constraints.
CB: All right, so that’s basically the short answer to that question, so I think that’s good. There’s one more question from Twitter, it’s from Ryan W. Murphy, @weightsandmeans. He says, “I hear a lot of references to ‘if a given planet is prominent in your chart’, but I never feel like I understand what that means. Could you elaborate or explain?” And you thought this was kind of tied into another question we got from Twitter, which was, “How important/accurate are asteroids in reading a birth chart?” which is not that connected but is sort of indirectly connected.
LS: Right. Yeah, so, I mean, if a given planet is prominent in your chart, I mean, usually what that means is either it’s placed very prominently, say, right on the Ascendant, which is one of the most prominent places a planet can be in a chart, like near the actual Ascendant degree, or if it is—there’s a bunch of different ways ‘cause I think that’s a general term ‘prominent’. And I think that’s why there can be confusion over what it means exactly ‘cause there’s not one technical definition, but I think some of it’s placement. So right on the Ascendant, or, say, perhaps in the 10th house because that’s the most public area of the chart. Also, if it’s your Ascendant ruler—if the planet is ruling your Ascendant that’s a prominent placement. If it’s in a major hard aspect to your Ascendant ruler that would be a way that it’s prominent.
And I feel like I’m blanking on the last thing I was gonna say, but some of those are just the most prominent places it can be in a chart, just location-wise. Oh, I just remembered. The other thing is, say, if you have a stellium—like a bunch of different planets in one sign—then a planet ruling that sign would be particularly important for you. I wouldn’t say necessarily ‘prominent’ in terms of place because that’s a different thing, but it would be particularly important because it would be the ruler of many different planets in your chart.
CB: Right. Yeah, which sort of then almost leads back to the more modern concept of a final dispositor. ‘Cause oftentimes if somebody has a stellium that’s ruled by a single planet, it all ends up going back to that planet and sometimes it stops there. For example, if it’s in its own sign and is not ruled by any other planets then it sort of becomes the ‘final dispositor’ of the chart.
LS: Yeah, I mean—
CB: I mean, the answer to the question is that there’s a number of different ways that a planet can be prominent in a chart, and especially in Hellenistic astrology, there’s a whole checklist of different ones, and that’s something that’s interesting. Demetra George—we just got her book that she’s finalizing right now and doing proofing for. And you’re gonna be doing some of the proofing for that next week, I’m trying to write the forward right now. But we’ve been reading through it and it’s just this really amazing treatment of ancient astrology, except she’s integrated this workbook component, so that it’s kind of like her second book, Astrology for Yourself, where she has worksheets where you can go through and do this checklist of all the different things. And one of the things she does really a good job of is talking about different ways that planets can be prominent from the perspective of traditional astrology.
So, yeah, one of those that you were mentioning was angularity. So one of the basic premises is that angular planets are more prominent that planets that are either succedent or are cadent, and the two most angular houses are the 1st house and the 10th house, so that’s like one type of prominence. Another type of prominence can be planetary dignity. So planets that are well-placed in a chart that are gonna express their significations in a way that’s most natural to them; so that’s like planets that are in their own sign or sometimes planets in their exaltations. And that then gets tied into what you were talking about with stelliums, where stelliums can indicate a concentration of energy on a specific sign or sometimes a specific house so that that house stands out more in that person’s chart than it might for somebody else.
CB: So one of the famous examples of that that you showed me, that I ended up integrating into my book, was that children’s book author. What was her name, again?
LS: Was it Judy Blume you were talking about?
CB: Yeah, Judy Blume that has like a stellium of planets in the 5th house. So we would just think then, if we’re looking at this person’s chart, there’s a greater emphasis on the topic of children in this person’s life, and that ended up being true in a very interesting way.
CB: She wrote like 30 children’s books or something like that, right?
LS: Yeah, something like that. Yeah, she’s really well-known and has like a zillion books.
LS: I mean, another way for relative prominence can be your sect light, so if you were born during the day vs. at night. Obviously, that’s only the Sun and Moon, not considering the rest of the planets, but your sect light can be more prominent. And so, that’s why sometimes someone will seem more like their Moon sign or identify more with their Moon sign than their Sun sign. So that can be a certain way in which that could be more prominent than otherwise, as well as the ruler of that sign. And that’s probably like one of those where you would otherwise overlook it unless it was prominent in a different way, but that can be an extra way that that can be prominent as the ruling planet of the sect light.
CB: Okay. Yeah, the ruling planet. And that was actually traditionally one of the—
CB: Oh, there’s the delivery. I’ll be right back.
CB: So continue with your thought.
LS: Yeah, sure. Yeah, so, there’s a package that Chris is receiving that he needs to sign for, for a moment. Yeah, so, the ruling planet of the sect light, if it’s not locationally-prominent, can give an extra emphasis that you wouldn’t expect otherwise to some seemingly random planet in your chart. And sometimes people have looked up, say, the ruler of their Sun sign in that respect and realized as a sort of intermediate step that that could be more important. But it actually can also be the ruler of the Moon sign as well if you were born when the Moon was the luminary that was visible vs. the Sun. So, yeah, I mean, I think prominence-wise most people are usually talking more about location. So planets in the 1st house, planets in the 10th house, or planets conjunct your Ascendant ruler. I feel like those are some of those most common ways that people are thinking when they say ‘prominence’. Yeah, and I hope Chris doesn’t have any other points about this ‘cause that kind of segues into the next point about asteroids.
The reason why I was thinking about tying those two questions together—which one was, “How important/accurate are asteroids in reading a birth chart?”—is that usually when people do use asteroids, and they don’t go crazy with them, they usually talk about them with respect to if they’re connected to something else prominent in the chart; for instance, if there’s an asteroid conjunct the Ascendant ruler, or on an angle. So near the Ascendant degree itself, near the Midheaven degree, near the IC, near the Descendant, things like that. Can you hear me now? Are you back on?
CB: I am back.
CB: We knew there was gonna be a delivery today, but, hilariously, that wasn’t even the delivery that I was waiting for. It was actually a delivery of some t-shirts.
LS: Good. That’s a good one.
CB: My ‘Ophiuchus is Not a Sign’ shirt showed up in the mail, as well as my ‘What is your Sun, Moon, Rising Sign’ shirt.
LS: Nice. Yeah, I like that ‘Ophiuchus’ one.
CB: Strikingly relevant to our previous question.
LS: Right, right. So we may get another interruption ‘cause that was actually not the one he was waiting for.
LS: I did just move on for a second, unless you have more things about the prominence. I started to talk about the asteroid connection. You have more to say about the prominence in general?
CB: Uh, no. Just there’s a few different ways that planets can be prominent. There’s one other that we didn’t touch on, which is making a heliacal rising, which is a major traditional one. And that’s one that Demetra spent some time on in her book. So when that book comes out here pretty soon in the next few months, it’ll be a really good one to get a hold of if you’re curious about this topic.
LS: Yeah, definitely. So, I mean, I think the general answer is there’s a number of different ways. It’s not just one thing that people are talking about when they say a planet is prominent, but it’s also not like everything in your chart. So it’ll maybe be like several things that would make different planets prominent, but not all of them.
CB: But with asteroids, I mean, I think asteroids are something that I’ve seen work, but it’s not that important to me. It’s like there’s a lot of minor things that I think—
CB: Oh, that’s funny.
LS: I can keep talking about asteroids.
CB: All right, go ahead.
LS: Okay. That’s hopefully the other delivery. So asteroids are actually kind of a thing that I’ve gone through a funny journey around. Because when I first encountered them I thought it was really fun just because they have such specific meanings, some of them. And so, it was a way to kind of look up lots of different things and see whether they seemed true for you, whether those particular topics were really important for you. But I think usually there is kind of a journey that people go through with asteroids more or less because they’re are so many.
So for some people they’ll use just the first several ones that were discovered, like Juno and Ceres and then Vesta and things like that, there are a few major ones that some people use. But if you actually look at asteroids there’s just a zillion of them, and some of them are named for personal names. Some of them are city names. Some of them are mythological figures; there’s a lot of those. There’s some that—I don’t know—there’s a lot of random ones, too.
And so, on the one hand, they can be fun to play with, but on the other hand, you can get really sidetracked, too. And so, I think the proper way to use asteroids in my humble opinion is to learn everything else first because there’s so many other more major considerations for how to judge different areas of a person’s life. And so, they’re kind of like sprinkles. So you can add a few sprinkles at the end—again, this is my approach—but they’re not like the main food substance; it’s just a little extra. Now that’s not to say—I guess on the flip side I don’t want to say that they can’t show—oh, I’m sorry. I think I need to—hold on one second—let Chris back in. Okay, was that the one you were waiting for?
CB: Yeah, so, I ordered this new camera. I’m trying to get more into being able to do livestreaming with the podcast and the YouTube channel. So the camera actually just arrived, which we were waiting for. And we knew as soon as we started recording, it’s like ‘Murphy’s law’ or something, that it would of course arrive right then. And then of course I locked myself out trying to get back in.
LS: Yeah, so, sorry for the interruption. But hopefully we won’t get any more deliveries in the next while.
CB: Right. All right, so did you answer that question extensively? What did you say about asteroids?
LS: I wasn’t fully done. So, basically, I was saying that you can get excited about them for a little bit. I think there’s often a little journey that sometimes people go through where it’s like really fun for a little bit, ‘cause there’s so many of them and they have such specific names or meanings. But in the end, as I just let you in, right before that, I was comparing them to sprinkles like on a cupcake.
LS: You can add some at the end but that’s not the main substance of what’s going on.
CB: Yeah, I mean, some people really like sprinkles, though, so I feel like that’s a dangerous analogy. There’s somebody that might not—
LS: You could sit there and eat a bag of sprinkles but it wouldn’t ultimately be substantially satisfying to your hunger.
CB: Right. You couldn’t eat that in a desert and survive.
LS: Right. I mean, I was just about to say, on the flip side, my general impression is that you should definitely learn the major pieces first and really thoroughly because that’s really gonna say most of everything about what’s going on in someone’s chart, in someone’s life, in different areas of their life. And know those really well first before you get a little sidetracked with the asteroids—but that’s not to say that they can’t mean things and they can’t be interesting additions. I was saying earlier that some people use a handful of the earliest ones, like Juno and Vesta and Ceres and things like that.
And so, I think you could also do that—like pick a few that kind of have major mythological meanings. And then if you look at them consistently enough then I think you could do something potentially useful with them. And I guess I should say here too that one of the reasons why I don’t want to get too dismissive of asteroids is because I do know that one of the major reasons that some people initially got into them and are still into them is that they brought more female mythological characters into the chart, whereas there were like a lot of planets named for male figures and not as many for women.
CB: Right. Although there was a whole issue there, like we don’t know if Saturn was supposed to be feminine originally. And if it was in Dorotheus then it might have been at least split theoretically 50/50 in the beginning with the traditional seven.
LS: Right. And I just wanted to kind of throw that in there because I know that that’s kind of a less superficial reason that some people find them important. So, for me, the reason why those two questions were tied into each other is because the way some people who use asteroids regularly counsel to use them—and I kind of agree—is to just look at ones that are really prominently-placed in the chart. So on the Ascendant, Descendant, Midheaven, IC, conjunct the Ascendant ruler. Maybe conjunct the Sun or Moon, things like that, and like closely in degree. So I think personally that that’s kind of the way to go. I still think they can be fun and sometimes just make me laugh; like some of the asteroids really make me laugh. But I know of, or instance, someone who has had a longstanding alcohol problem and the asteroid Beer is very closely-conjunct their Midheaven degree. And there’s just stuff like that where they make me laugh in ways that the planets don’t.
CB: Right. I mean, to me, that is the reason why I’ve never used them that much. Because it’s almost just like, yeah, that’s entertaining, but it’s not like a crucial piece to me. There’s so much more important stuff to prioritize, and you can spend so much time on the super important stuff that gets to really core things about the person’s life that getting to the garnish or the sprinkles of the asteroids, to me, isn’t that important. And therefore, I’ve never prioritized or I’ve never found the need to prioritize it a lot in chart stuff. And I feel like there’s a lot of things in astrology where you could make a whole thing about that and make that your focal point, but if you do so, oftentimes, it’s to the detriment of some of the more important fundamentals.
LS: I definitely agree, yeah. And I think it’s important to thoroughly know everything else first—or at least prioritize that more in reading a chart. And unless it’s something really specific, like a personal name—like I know sometimes people who work with asteroids will be like, “Oh, look this person has a long-time partner/spouse with this name,” and there’s a similarly-named asteroid that’s on the Descendant or something like that—that can add something specific that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, but it’s not necessarily crucial. Like I said, they usually make me laugh more than are essential. And also, even in the ones that will show you something—like in the example I was mentioning with Beer on the Midheaven—there’s almost always something more primary in the chart that will point to the same issue.
CB: Right. Like a Neptune theme or something like that.
LS: Exactly, exactly. And so, they’re not, in my opinion, essential. They can be fun to play with when you’ve kind of mastered a bunch of other stuff, I would say.
CB: Sure. I do want to say if somebody did want to figure out a way to integrate them or wanted to find the best way to approach it, Demetra tries to deal with this question in her book that came out about 10 years ago called, Astrology and the Authentic Self, where it’s kind of an attempt to bridge and to synthesize modern and traditional astrology. But one of the things that she does is she talks about how she integrates the asteroids into her practice within that context. So if you did want to, that would be where I would go to learn more about that. It’s not something that I use majorly. I mean, I don’t even use Chiron at this point. And I know there’s some astrologers that think that that’s like a major thing. I know you’re one person who uses Chiron regularly, right?
LS: I use Chiron more often than other asteroids or other bodies, but I use it similarly because I don’t find that it jumps out in every chart. And so, I only use it if it seems focal in some way, like if it’s conjunct something important, or if there’s like another theme that it’s adding another repetition to that’s like sort of confirming something.
LS: So I use it in some and not others.
CB: Okay. I don’t know. I feel like there was a lot more excitement when Chiron was first discovered. That was like the next planetary body that was really discovered since Pluto. And so, I think there was more excitement a few years—a few decades ago and that was the reason why, for example, in astro.com it’s a default thing that appears on charts, I think. But I don’t feel like I know a lot of astrologers like me or Austin or Kelly or other people that place like a huge amount of emphasis on the asteroids because there’s just so much else to focus on that has greater priority and is more important in dictating things about the person’s chart and their life before you get to asteroids.
But I kind of feel the same way about other things like, for the most part, fixed stars, some subdivisions of the signs. Even to some extent lots, or Arabic parts, although I do place a lot of emphasis on Spirit and Fortune for the purpose of the zodiacal releasing timing technique. But there’s just a lot of things like that that are sort of like minor things that sometimes I feel like astrologers get carried away by, and sometimes that can be distracting to new people that are just getting into astrology. So I would caution not to get carried away by it too early in your studies before getting the fundamentals down.
LS: Yeah, I would agree. Yeah, just don’t take it at the same level as the more foundational things in the chart for sure. Sprinkles.
CB: Yeah, don’t be fooled by the hype. ‘Cause sometimes they get hyped up or something where that’s like their thing or their pet project that will hype it, which is kind of okay, but sometimes can be misleading for new students that don’t realize that most astrologers aren’t using that thing as the most important thing in astrology 24/7.
LS: Right. Yeah. Or, I guess one other way to approach it is—in addition to learning all the foundational things well—if you want to focus on that then do it thoroughly enough so that you know what you’re talking about rather than kind of dipping in and out because then you can actually add some potential new knowledge to that area of astrology; but it’s usually not when people just kind of halfway look at them that they really get much additional substance out of that.
CB: Sure, definitely. All right, so, that’s probably good for that question.
CB: Let’s see, the next question was by a listener named Johannes, and he says, “I’ve got another question for the Q&A. What exactly constitutes the beginning for electional astrology? For example, I want to use an election to find a new job. What is the beginning in this case? The job search? The writing of the application? The telephone call? The sending of the application? The job interview? The start of the job?” etc.
LS: Yeah, I mean, so both of us have done a decent bit with elections. I mean, I would say that it depends on the topic. Some things lend themselves more to having just one or two more primary moments that are really important in starting that venture or starting whatever that entity. And the one that he mentioned—I guess one that I think has fewer is getting married. And so, there can sometimes be a discussion about whether signing the marriage certificate vs. saying your vows and being pronounced married are the more important moments. But there’s not like six or seven moments and there’s fewer for something like that vs. a job search. Like he mentioned, there are actually a number of different pieces that could be important in that.
And so, this is where it’s helpful to actually know some principles or at least basic principles of electional astrology, I feel. Because something like that it’s useful to at least use the very basics for each piece of that. So I know in the past, for instance, I’ve paid attention to when I’ve sent in an application for a job, and also even when I set the interview time if there were different options for interview times. Yeah, and then I’ve looked at charts for when I’ve actually started on the first day of a job and that seems to matter, too. Yeah, so I would say it depends.
One thing that I have said in the past is that sometimes it’s when you do the first thing—the very first thing—like if you’re starting to write a book, it might be when you start a new document and write something on it and then push ‘Save’. That could be the beginning—like the very beginning inceptional moment vs. sometimes it matters a bit more when you kind of can’t take it back, like if you’re sending a letter or sending an email. Typically, when you actually press ‘Send’ or you put the thing in the mailbox is considered a major inceptional moment.
CB: Yeah, I mean, I always think back—I don’t know if we’ve answered this question before on the podcast—but I always try to root it in Ptolemy’s distinction between conception charts vs. birth charts, or conception vs. birth, and then take that principle and apply it to other things. So Ptolemy tries to address this question of what’s the difference between conception and birth, and he basically says that a conception chart is the chart for the gestation, which is like the eight or nine months of the pregnancy itself and the success or failure of the pregnancy in some instances vs. the birth chart itself is truly the beginning of the life and the success or failure or everything that comes from that point forward once the individual is born and starts their life as an independent entity from the mother.
So I try to think about it in that context as well, like you were just talking about, you know, writing a book. And starting to write the book is like an electional chart, but it’s kind of like a conception chart for the book where you first start that Word document. And that chart itself might tell you how the book writing process itself is gonna go, but the book itself isn’t officially born until it’s published and is officially available that day. So the trick, though, or the insight or pro-tip, electional astrologer thing is that eventually you realize that very rarely is there just one defining moment; or there’s not always one defining moment, but instead many things are a series of successive moments of importance. And in reality what we end up doing in practice oftentimes is have a variety of different electional charts available for those different important moments in that sequence of initiating or starting something.
Like doing an electional chart for starting to write your book—which is actually what I did—it wasn’t a very good electional chart, and I actually look back and I kind of laugh at that now in retrospect. I wanted to start it while Mercury was still in Virgo back in 2006, but I only had a few days left to do that. So I think I started it as soon as I could, but it was at sunrise back in September of 2006. And there’s some other things that are not great about the chart ‘cause I was still very new to electional astrology, but I did start a chart for that, and then there was a separate chart for when the book was published. Yeah, but there’s other things like that where there might be some in-between stages as well that you might have other electional charts for.
LS: Right. Yeah, for sure. And that’s kind of why, I mean, even though some kind of endeavors lend themselves more to a number of moments vs. two-to-three moments or something, it’s still just useful to learn some of these principles. Because, say, you’re gonna pay someone to do an election. Usually they’ll just do it for the most important one-to-two things—
LS: But not like seven or eight. But if you learn these principles yourself then you can kind of use them in your day-to-day life. And so, you can still kind of make the best charts possible for some of those in-between pieces.
CB: Yeah, and that’s one of the reasons why we outline—at least for electional charts each month on the Auspicious Elections Podcast that we do for patrons on the $5 and $10 tiers through our page on Patreon—‘cause that’s what we’re doing ourselves each month. We’re using different electional charts for starting different things or for different phases of things that we’re initiating during the course of each month, and sometimes that’s the successive things we’re doing in a single project, whether it’s writing a book, or launching a website is a tough one because there’s a little ambiguity there about when a website happens.
And an issue I had with finding ‘the’ chart for The Astrology Podcast is I knew a few different important moments: when I first discovered and bought the domain name, TheAstrologyPodcast.com, when I first bought the website and uploaded the first files to the website. There’s the moment when I started recording the first podcast. Like with this one, we were trying to shoot for Capricorn rising to start recording this podcast today, and we wanted to avoid Aquarius rising because it was gonna put Mars right in the 1st house or right on the Ascendant. So we sped things up and made sure we started before Aquarius rising. But then there’ll be a separate chart for when I actually release and publish this podcast online, which is probably the actual chart for the episode itself. Yeah, so, it’s a matter of sometimes being aware of the different important symbolic moments of conception or birth and trying to, as much as you can, cover all of them.
LS: Mm-hmm. And sometimes also just think through the logic of what might be the most important things in order to make that endeavor an individual entity, like you were saying with the conception vs. birth. So, for instance, that’s why I prioritize pushing ‘Send’ on an email. I mean, you can try and write it and also send it—if it’s an important communication—under the same rising sign, but I prioritize the sending of a letter or an email or something because that’s when it’s out in the world and on its own. And, similarly, when people get married, even though usually it’s totally possible to start the ceremony and have the vows under the same rising sign, and most people do, if that’s not possible for whatever reason I prioritize the moment of saying the vows and being pronounced married. Say someone walks out in the middle of the ceremony—doesn’t happen very often, but it could happen, they wouldn’t be married.
LS: So prior to that particular moment they don’t exist as a married couple, whereas after that moment they do, even though the start of the ceremony is still important as a gathering. So just kind of thinking through maybe the logic of each particular project and what makes the most sense in terms of declaring it a thing.
CB: Yeah, and the point of no return is the one, ideally, that you’re searching for, although sometimes that can be tricky to establish. ‘Cause it’s the point of no return, but it’s also the one that’s the most symbolically-significant. So symbolically-significant is the most important thing under the premise that there’s moments in time that have symbolic importance in terms of a person’s overall life narrative in establishing the most symbolically-significant moment. So there’s one, for example, like departing for trips. We’ve played with this a lot, ‘cause sometimes we’ll both try to book our plane tickets under a decent election, but that’s not really the one we’re the most focused on because that’s more like the conception. But most of the time, when we’ve left for astrology conferences, we’ll really focus on—this one I got from my friend Scott Silverman years ago. He said that he always elected his charts for when he locked his door and left the front door of his house in order to finally begin his journey for that specific trip. And that’s always worked out relatively well for us, I think.
LS: Yeah, definitely. And we’ve tracked a lot of those at this point. And you can usually see how the trip worked out based on the chart for when you’re leaving the house because it is when you’re leaving for the whole journey. Separately, if you’re going on a flight, for instance, there’s a certain point where the flight takes off.
LS: But that’s not necessarily your whole journey because it’s like part of the journey that you started when you left home. ‘Cause you’re not intending to take all your luggage and go to the grocery store and come back, you know. It’s like that’s the symbolic start of the journey.
CB: Yeah, when you leave your house for the final time. ‘Cause you could argue that that’s the point of no return when the plane takes off and it’s out of your hands, but that’s an instance where I think the symbolic significance of you leaving your home and locking your door for the final time is more important in that instance; even though, theoretically, yeah, you could come back home or something like that.
LS: Yeah, right. Definitely. Yeah, I mean, and if you test these things for long enough—even if it’s not that important at the time—write down when you do certain things and then look at the chart later and see how that worked out. So see how a trip worked out when you write down the time for when you left your home and things like that, and then it usually matches the chart quite well. So you can kind of watch it be confirmed that that is in fact the proper moment.
CB: Yeah, and that’s something I recommend in my Professional Astrologer Course that I launched this month, but I’ll reiterate it here right now. I would recommend you doing it in Solar Fire ‘cause that’s the easiest way to organize it and use the different folders, but you can also do it on astro.com or wherever you save charts. Start a database and start compiling charts as early in your astrological studies as you can of different times—electional times—when you started different things; so when you started a trip or when you got married. Or even of ones that you’ve observed, like when you were at a wedding and you saw your friend get married. You write down the times and save that chart, but also other important events in your life, like when you met somebody for the first time, when you started a job, other things like that.
Start saving as many of those charts as you can, as frequently as you can for important events or semi-important, or even events that you don’t think are important at the time, but they still represent a new development in your life. Because you may turn around years later and find out that that event was hugely important and that becomes your core material for astrological research. Your own life events and life story will always end up being the most important material that you have to draw on in developing your understanding as an astrologer. But it only works if you pay attention to and start documenting things relatively early on, and the best way to do that is by having exact timed charts for important events.
LS: Yeah, I definitely agree, and I don’t have too much more to add. I mean, you’ll talk to clients about their charts or friends or family, but they’ll only tell you some things about their life, or whatever can fit into an hour, hour-and-a-half vs. you have 24/7 material that you can always try to observe and use as research charts.
CB: Right. Definitely. So, yeah, we both use Solar Fire. And I always forget to mention—and people then always email me about it—we use Solar Fire, and the promo code for that is ‘AP15’ if you want to get the—I think it’s like a 10% or 15% discount when you buy the program through Astrolabe, which is the company that sells it in the US at Alabe.com. All right, so I think that’s it for that chart.
CB: We did have a sub-question. I don’t know, do you have an answer to this? So Arthur asks, “Are there any hilarious stories of unforeseen consequences from electing a chart poorly?” And I know I have some, but I can’t remember any offhand. Did you have one that you remember?
LS: I just had one thing that was kind of like that. I think I may have talked about it on the electional podcast, but I don’t think anyway that I’ve talked about it on the regular podcast before.
LS: So it was before I learned electional principles really. I just knew it was a thing, but I hadn’t really learned how to do elections yet. And so, it was actually early on when you and I had started talking actually, and I had remembered that you told me, “You can’t elect everything; sometimes you just have to do stuff when you need to do it,” which I think is still true with some caveats. So I learned some caveats from that experience which was I needed to list my room for rent. I was moving out of Boulder to Denver and I had signed a lease that I was breaking, so I needed to list it on Craigslist. And so, I was thinking at the moment, “All right, well, sometimes you just have to do things when you need to do them,” and so I put it on Craigslist. And then I think I had some exchange with you later on, and you were like, “You did that just now?”
CB: Right, ‘cause I’m probably looking at the chart at that moment.
LS: Yeah, and I don’t think I had software back then. And I was like, “Yo, why?” And you were like, “I mean—” And I said, “You said that you just need to do it.”
CB: You just gotta do what you gotta do. And I’m like, “Well, there’s an implied caveat there of don’t do it under a terrible, terrible chart.”
LS: Right. Exactly. And I didn’t know how to distinguish terrible, terrible charts at the time; it was like 10-ish years ago or something. So, anyway, it was hilarious in fact—in retrospect, now that I know electional astrology—because what happened is I had Saturn right on the Ascendant in a night chart, which already is super terrible, because Saturn is the most challenging planet if it’s a night chart, if the Sun has already set. And so, to put it in the most prominent place in a chart, on the Ascendant, is like not what you want to do. And then I think there were also two other planets applying fairly closely to Saturn as well.
CB: Okay, so it was just like basically all the negative qualities that you could possibly draw out of Saturn were being emphasized as much as possible in this chart.
LS: Yes, which is in fact hilarious to look back at. Yeah, I actually put that in my last electional lecture. I put this as a ‘what not to do’ slide ‘cause it’s like the antithesis of every electional principle you would normally proactively use.
CB: Right. So what happened is you were breaking the lease, you were moving, and you needed to have somebody else fill this or sign up to become a tenant as soon as possible, otherwise you’re gonna have to pay hundreds of dollars on a second rental thing that you were no longer living in.
LS: Yes, and that’s in fact what happened. And it was like otherwise a fairly desirable and inexpensive room in Boulder, Colorado, which is like a nice place to live. But for some reason I kept showing the place and it kept just not working out. Like there were people that answered the ad, but for whatever reason it just kept not working and not working. And so, I was paying in fact on two apartments for like months. And I was exhausted ‘cause I was working almost every day in order to keep paying for these two apartments. So, I mean, the principle of making the undesirable parts of Saturn super prominent, which were that I was getting very, very tired from overwork—which are both Saturn things—and also that things were taking way longer than they should have in most cases, that was really the most prominent thing about it.
CB: ‘Cause it was, literally, “Like the primary thing I need to do with this thing is make this happen as quick as possible,” and you picked a chart that was basically as diametrically opposite to that as possible by putting Saturn on the Ascendant in a night chart with other planets applying to hard aspects with Saturn. And that’s actually a good exercise that people could do. No, I mean, ‘cause that’s how to learn with astrology. Sometimes we learn by our mistakes, or you learn sometimes by doing the opposite of what otherwise would be recommended, ‘cause then you can see what the worst-case scenario is sometimes. So if you wanted to reconcile with somebody let’s say and make peace with somebody or form a friendship, and you put Mars conjunct the Ascendant in a day chart with the Moon applying to an opposition or a square with Mars or something like that then you’re emphasizing that divisive energy or that pulling apart or anger or fighting or something like that; you’re emphasizing that archetype rather than the more unity and friendship and other archetypes from Venus. So, yeah, that’s one way to go about learning, though. Just try to elect the exact opposite of what you’re going for.
But one of the biggest things I think that trips up modern astrologers is that—I shouldn’t say ‘modern’. But one of the trends that we’ve noticed is there wasn’t for a long time in the 20th century many books on electional astrology, and as a result of that most modern contemporary astrologers didn’t know the basic principles of traditional electional astrology and like what you look for in a good chart or what you look for in a bad chart. Even that distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ charts had been eradicated due to the premise in psychological astrology there’s no good or bad placements. Everyone just has different shades of whatever and does their best, which is fine from a consulting standpoint. But from an electional standpoint there is a difference between creating a chart that’s optimized for what you’re trying to accomplish vs. these instances we’re talking about—creating a chart that’s diametrically opposite to what you’re trying to accomplish or could counteract that in some way.
LS: Yeah, definitely. And instead then people kind of try to figure it out themselves and prioritize the psychological qualities or traits of different signs and things like that. Which it’s not to say that those don’t ever express themselves in an electional chart, but it’s just not the primary thing that you want to go to first.
CB: Sure. Yeah, so knowing some of those distinctions. So, yeah, I think that answers the question.
CB: That’s a good example.
LS: I actually really love that story, and it makes me laugh a lot, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to choose it. It’s tough because I kind of also agree that using really bad electional charts can be very instructive. But the thing is you don’t want to use them for things that are of much importance at all because they probably will go badly. So use them for super minor things and see how they go.
CB: Yeah, I mean, I still do it occasionally for minor things just to mess around and see what happens, or sometimes you’ll do it for consultations. ‘Cause one of the things astrologers notice pretty quickly when you’re a consulting astrologer is sometimes if you have a bad electional chart for a consultation, sometimes that consultation does not go well for various reasons. And I know that that’s made both of us kind of nervous and annoyed sometimes when we’re needing to schedule things like back-to-back and not having a good chart and sometimes just having to go with it. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
LS: Right. Sometimes you just have to do things when they’re necessary, just don’t use the worst possible charts—that is the lesson.
CB: Sure. Yeah, and sometimes it’s not worst-case scenario but it’s just minor annoyances or problems but it’s manageable. And then of course one of the things that’s implicit in all of the rules that we’re giving is that the natal chart of you or the individuals involved is always sitting there somewhere or is in our mind in terms of when we’re electing things. We’re also thinking of that to some extent as well. Even though we’re establishing the event chart itself first as primary, there’s still the natal transits, which can offset or be different if the person’s having super good transits that day but the electional chart is not great. Sometimes that can help to balance things out in things at least going positively for that individual; or even if it ends up being difficult in the election, ultimately being successful for the individual in the long term.
LS: Yeah, I agree.
CB: All right, so I think that’s good for that question. So moving onto the next one, this is from a listener, Marin. So she says, “In terms of conferences, how do you know when you’re ready to apply to speak or hold a lecture? Do you need a specific original breakthrough in order to consider moving forward towards that?” So, I mean, my recommendation for this is before trying to speak at conferences—this is, again, something I talk about in the professional course; these are the types of questions that I address in the professional course, just to promote that again. I usually recommend trying to give at least a couple of talks at a local astrology group first.
And the role that the local astrology groups still play that’s actually really crucial and important is they’re the staging ground or like the starting point for astrologers starting to get on the lecture circuits and eventually starting to speak at conferences or give workshops or other things like that. The local astrology groups—of which there’s usually at least one or two in any major city, if not more—are a great place to get some experience giving astrology lectures and talks, and that’s the starting point. And once you’ve given a couple of talks at least at a local astrology group then you can think about applying to speak at a regional astrology conference or a larger, national astrology conference.
LS: Yeah, I would definitely agree with that, too. And depending on the group sometimes—like our group, for instance—we have at times in the past let people do a half-meeting talk; so split the time up so that you don’t have to come up with a full, 75-minute lecture. So you start with a 20- or 30-minute lecture or something. That’s of course depending on what the group is open to, but that’s also a nice way to just kind of dip your toe in and get started when you’ve never done it before. The next step I would say is some of the conferences will offer things called ‘lunchtime’ lectures, or sometimes they’ll call them different things, but basically lectures during lunchtime where you’re usually not paid for it. So it’s not like you’re selected against everyone who’s more experienced, but it’s a way to kind of get younger or newer astrologers starting to integrate into speaking at conferences in a kind of lower pressure way.
CB: Yeah, I think some of my first lectures at an NCGR conference, at a major national conference, were lunchtime lectures.
LS: Yeah, mine as well. I would say beyond that, I mean, you don’t have to have like a groundbreaking thing. Like observation—I think that was the other part of the question.
LS: You don’t have to come up with something brand new in order to start speaking because actually that’s not super common. In astrology, it’s more building on what’s already known and then just occasionally something groundbreaking someone will come up with. But I think it helps to have become interested in a particular topic more than other topics, so that you can focus on it more for a bit, and so then you have more to say about it. So it’s not that you have to necessarily say something brand new about that topic, but you do need to be more or less well-versed in that particular thing, and/or have looked at enough good example charts or gathered enough good example charts so that you have something interesting to point out about it, I guess.
CB: Right. We were talking about this the other day. ‘Cause this is a video that I want to make for the professional course, which is things to avoid or not to do in astrology lectures that sometimes we see too frequently—and one is don’t give an entire lecture that’s only about your own chart. So it’s okay occasionally to drop or your chart as an example, but don’t make that your primary example.
CB: Try to focus on chart examples of other case studies you’ve done or celebrity chart examples or just whatever. But try not to make it just only about yourself or only using your own chart as an example.
LS: Yeah, definitely, I super agree with that. It can be kind of cringe-inducing to watch that as an audience member. Especially ‘cause I think it’s more common when people are newer into astrology and they’re just like excited about everything, and so it doesn’t really stand out yet as something that’s maybe a little bit inappropriate to do. But if people are listening and they’ve been involved with astrology for longer, it comes off as a little bit narcissistic or also like, “So you haven’t looked at anyone else’s chart yet, just your own,” you know.
CB: Sure. It’s funny ‘cause it’s an interesting contrast with my recommendation earlier in saying that really your own chart and documenting events in your life is always gonna be your primary study tool. And it’s like that’s true, but you can’t stay there, and you run into issues of subjective experience and subjective bias with your own life. The only reason your life is the best and will be your primary case study is because that’s the one that you’re gonna have the most control over in terms of gathering data and events in your life and being able to get exact timed charts for every little thing. But for the purposes of presentation you want to have a variety of different examples because that’s gonna make whatever conclusions you’re making seem more compelling and not just based on your own subjective perception or biases about your life or what have you—as well as making it not just not a presentation about your own life just in general for 75 minutes.
LS: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I mean, I would say all of those same things. So it’s using your own life experience as a constant learning tool as different and distinguished from what you’re actually presenting in a lecture, for the most part.
CB: Sure. Yeah, it doesn’t have to be a unique thing that nobody’s ever discovered or talked about before. But sometimes even just presenting a good, well-rounded presentation of something other people have talked about before, but presenting it in a way that’s compelling or has your own unique spin on it, or has unique chart examples or something like that. Sometimes even just a very good presentation, a well-refined presentation of something that people already know about is sufficient. And really when you see a lot of lectures on the astrology circuit at major conferences a fair portion of what a lot of lectures are about are topics like secondary progressions or something.
It’s not like people haven’t been talking about secondary progressions for a century, but there’s always new people coming into the field who don’t know that Dane Rudhyar gave a lecture on secondary progressions like 30 or 40 years ago or something ‘cause they didn’t see that lecture. So they’re a new student of astrology and they want to learn the basics, and they go to a conference, they see secondary progressions are on the lecture circuit and they don’t know anything about that, so they attend your lecture. And one of the things that’s good to do is not to assume that your audience already knows what you’re talking about. But instead try to approach the subject as if your audience doesn’t have any idea what the background is on that topic, and then do the best job you can to explain it from the ground up, and that’s sort of a good approach in any lecture that you give.
LS: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think implicit in part of that question about “Do you need something really novel or groundbreaking?” Astrology in many ways is a craft and you’re learning and building on what’s been done before. And so, I think that sometimes people view it through the eyes of if someone’s been an astrologer for decades, are they gonna find this interesting? That’s not always the bar once people have learned things from years and years of practicing. Maybe that’s not who your specific audience is. Just don’t always gauge it based on, “Do I have something brand new?”
CB: Right. I mean, I’ve talked about this a few times before—and I emphasize it in the professional course—that you’ve got to push yourself to make the transition to start seeing clients at some point even if you don’t feel like you’re ready. Because there’s only so much book learning you can do and a lot of your knowledge as an astrologer will eventually come from seeing clients. ‘Cause every new client you see, even though you may know how to delineate their chart and you may be able to tell them things about their chart without knowing them personally, and you’re gonna be able to say things about their life that are true, you’re also gonna learn things about them and how the placements in their chart manifest in a unique way that are gonna be new pieces of information. You’re gonna learn something new from having that consultation with them. So part of what’s happening in astrology lectures is there’s astrologers sharing with other astrologers examples that they’ve found which represent whatever that person’s unique manifestation of that placement was. And that then becomes community knowledge that helps to improve the whole community’s understanding of different types of manifestations of different placements.
LS: Yeah, definitely, I thoroughly agree. I’m really big on using lots of chart examples and client stories, or a client’s or friend’s or whoever’s stories in lectures because of that very reason that you mentioned and just fleshing out—it’s almost my big thing—almost why it matters. Like why do we care about this particular topic? Or why do we care about how this particular thing can manifest? And I think that’s often really well-done through specific client stories.
CB: Right. So that’s a good opportunity maybe as a—not a segue—but promo. So Kelly, Austin, and I just recorded the next forecast episode yesterday, which actually will be released after this episode. But we mentioned that NORWAC, the Northwest Astrological Conference, the schedule for that was just released, and a bunch of us are gonna be speaking at it next May. So just to give you an example of lectures, I’m giving two lectures or my two main lectures there. One of them is on sect—which is the difference between day and night charts, where I’m gonna share a bunch of examples of ‘this is an example of somebody that has Saturn in the 10th house in a day chart’ and ‘this is somebody that has Saturn in the 10th house a night chart’, or ‘this is Mars in the 1st house in a day chart vs. a night chart’ or what have you.
And then another one that I’m giving is reception as a mitigating factor in natal astrology. One of the experiences I’ve had in seeing clients over the years and have gathered a bunch of examples on is just how significant reception is as a mitigating factor in taking the edge off of some aspects and some placements in the chart that would otherwise be more difficult than are otherwise manifested in the person’s life just due to reception. So some of that’s a little bit of a blend between unique research and some of it’s more a showing my own personal examples that I’ve found of specific techniques that are already relatively well-known.
CB: You’re speaking there.
LS: Yeah, so mine’s ‘Benefic and Malefic for the Modern Astrologer’, which should actually have a lot of crossover with some of yours, but hopefully we can distinguish them a bit. Yeah, so basically just if somebody hasn’t already incorporated the benefic and malefic distinction—maybe it sounds still too judgmental for them—why it can still matter even if you’re primarily counseling astrology.
CB: Right. And so, one way to approach it too is, what is your hobby-horse topic? Or what’s a thing that’s like a strong opinion you have about some technique or some concept in astrology that you feel passionate enough about that you can give an hour lecture on it? So like one of yours, for example, was interpreting malefics and how they’re often downplayed or not treated appropriately, right?
LS: Yeah, just the idea that you always use the best-case scenario, or things are always possible to make good, and the lack of acknowledgment for the suffering that’s unavoidable in life sometimes and kind of what that looks like in a chart. And, yeah, that really mattered to me for personal reasons, and then I got interested in it astrologically as an outgrowth of that.
CB: Right. It was like a broader point that you wanted to make, that you fleshed out then with some examples about how sometimes people, in a desire to be encouraging or empowering, can sometimes end up doing the opposite or can sometimes not validate people’s actual lived experiences if they don’t recognize and treat appropriately some of the difficult placements in their life.
LS: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that’s very well-stated for that thing that I really care about and ended up starting to speak on after a bit because I was focusing on that. Also, in particular, for a while, I was focusing on the Saturn return, and so I ended up blending those two for some lectures for a while. So that kind of speaks to something that you’ve talked about in the past of just representing the entire spectrum of life in astrology. So that’s how that came out.
CB: Sure. So that’s one way that you can approach things as well. Figure out what your hobby-horse or something you’re passionate about that might be a unique opinion or a strong opinion that you have, or something maybe that goes against a trend that you’ve seen most astrologers doing or something like that. It doesn’t have to be but that’s just an idea for generating a possible lecture topic.
LS: Mm-hmm. I think it’s just after a while you’ll drift towards certain things, and those are good topics, if you haven’t started speaking yet, to do your first talks on.
CB: Yeah, like things, techniques, or approaches that you’ve drifted towards.
CB: All right, so I think that’s good for that question. So moving on, there’s like a whole string of questions that I got from different people that were sort of related to whole sign houses and our use of that that I thought about treating as a group. Some of them are kind of long, though, so I’m trying to figure out how to summarize some of these. Any ideas?
LS: Let’s see. Yeah, so the first one was wondering about how people with their Ascendants in later degrees of the sign can reconcile changing to whole sign houses because of so many things shifting oftentimes from house to house in that case.
LS: So that was the first one.
CB: So it’s like that. “How do you deal with it if you have a 29° Ascendant and switching to whole sign houses?”
CB: So the other one was they’ve noticed a lot of shift to whole sign houses over the past few years, “What is the relationship or the interplay between whole sign and other house systems and the role of traditionally intercepted house interpretations in chart analysis?”
LS: Yeah, so that was the second one. And then the third one was someone who was overall having a good experience using whole sign houses after switching, but after experimenting with using solar and lunar returns was not finding them as effective in those particular charts.
CB: Okay. And then finally there was one more person that said, “Can you speak of how you managed your reorientation to using whole sign houses vs. Placidus?” And this person’s name was Kat. The previous question was by Sandra. The one before that was by someone named Rebecca. And the first one was by a listener named Erin. All right, so let’s bang these out really quickly. So the 29° one, the first thing I would say to that is just that I always tell anybody, even if it’s like a new student and I’ve just calculated their chart and sent it to them, and it’s got either 29° rising or it’s 0° rising, when you’re switching to or when you’re using whole sign houses that’s like the dangerous range because when you’re using whole sign houses you have to know for sure that you have the correct rising sign and that the Ascendant is definitely in that sign.
And this is the thing about whole sign houses, the conceptual change that people need to get a hold of in order to understand it—within the context of whole sign houses the purpose of the Ascendant is that it marks or it designates the entire sign with the qualities of the 1st house. And this is similar ‘cause they’ve used this in other approaches. They did this with, for example, the Lot of Fortune, or the Part of Fortune, where the original purpose of that is you calculate the Part of Fortune, and then whatever sign it lands in is not so much emphasizing that degree, but what it’s doing is it’s marking that entire sign with those qualities. For example, Vettius Valens also recommends using the degree of the Midheaven—so the Placidus or quadrant Midheaven—but what he does is he says whatever sign that falls in, it will mark that entire sign with 10th house topics. So it’ll double-up with whatever whole sign it falls in.
So this is part of a broader conceptual approach to house division where the ‘cusp’, especially when it comes to the Ascendant, is not acting as the starting point for the house—like it does in Placidus or equal houses—but instead it’s just marking that entire sign. And as a result of that you have to be really sure that your Ascendant is in the correct sign, otherwise, everything’s gonna be one sign off. So anytime I see a chart that has 29° or 0° rising I basically have to do a quick rectification in order to confirm that the person’s experiences are matching up with what I would expect based on looking at the chart. And if they’re not, I’ll try shifting that Ascendant degree forward or backwards to the next sign or the previous sign to see if that chart actually matches up better with the person’s lived experiences at that point. And if it does, then that can be grounds for me to use the rectified chart rather than the original one that they gave me.
LS: Yeah, that’s a really good point to start with. So especially pay attention to birth time sources in that case. Be like, “Is this definitely from your birth certificate?” And that’s kind of the worst-case scenario if it’s like a mother’s memory and it’s 29°.
LS: So you definitely need to double-check stuff.
CB: ‘Cause I’ve had that before, like, “I’ve tried whole sign houses but it doesn’t work for me.” And I would look at the chart and it’s like 29° rising, and the birth time is like 4:00 PM, so it’s clearly rounded, and it becomes one of those issues where they’re not even using necessarily the correct chart. But if I had spent 10 minutes trying to rectify it, I would have concluded very quickly that it should be 0° or 1° of the next sign and then all of those whole sign placements actually do work out relatively well.
LS: Right. Yeah, so that’s definitely a first place to start. I think after that oftentimes—this is kind of blending these four different questions about whole sign houses. But I know, for instance, when I started with it—I actually am very sympathetic to people not immediately recognizing themselves in the new chart—I felt pretty much that way, and I didn’t immediately take to whole sign houses. And now I use it as my primary, and most of the time, only house system. So one of the things for me that I noticed in making that leap in understanding the differences that were represented when the planets moved houses in particular was how those planets manifested in concrete ways in those areas of life. And there’s not like a strict division in terms of modern astrology looking at psychological things and traditional astrology looking at more concrete things, but there’s some trends in those directions.
And so, I think because I was used to looking at my Placidus chart more in psychological terms, I would say, when I saw it in whole sign, I was like, “That’s not how I feel internally.” And it was only really understanding that those placements meant more concrete things that it made sense to me eventually. So I think that’s part of the shift, and that’s something that I know we’ve both kind of talked about and bemoaned at various times as a general problem. Oftentimes, when people start using some traditional thing, they’ll use like one piece, but without the rest of the things.
LS: And then they’re like, “This doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t work for me.” But you have to use all of them together.
CB: Right. Like not paying attention to the rulers of the houses, which is more of a traditional concept that’s under-utilized in modern astrology. Or not paying attention to sect, which really shifts things. Or not paying attention to bonification and maltreatment conditions and how to determine planetary condition in a chart and things like that; it’s part of an overall system. And thinking back, which is funny in retrospect, I often forget about this, but that was the thing I was missing. ‘Cause I heard about whole sign houses like a year before I went to Kepler and before I actually started using it because I read that Rob Hand was using it, who I really respected because of Planets in Transit, and his delineations were just spot on for those interpretations on astro.com.
But I was like, “That sounds like a really stupid idea,” when I first heard about it, “And surely that doesn’t really work in my chart.” But it was only a year later when I was literally forced to take the course on Hellenistic astrology with Demetra George, starting in December of 2004, that I saw how whole sign houses was integrated into the rest of the system and how to use it properly within that context. And that’s when I finally got it and realized how it worked and why it worked and was able to assess it properly within that context, rather than just picking that piece out independently of the rest of the system that it’s actually a part of and that it’s integrated with.
LS: Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s a pretty frequent thing. When people don’t immediately resonate to things or say, “These tools don’t work for me,” they’re just using one thing or two things, but not everything that’s supposed to all work together. So, yeah, I would just say that’s like a big piece of it. And some of the specifics around that for me when I made the switch were learning the more concrete manifestations of what those new placements meant in those houses. Also, I think one of the common resistances that I’ve definitely had personally as well is being used to a certain topic being emphasized in your chart and then it looking like initially it’s not emphasized in the whole sign chart. And sometimes, fairly frequently in fact, the things that you think are gone are actually just represented in different ways. And so, it is, like you said, house rulership vs. the planet in the house or something like that. Or major strong aspects between planets tying two houses together, or different things like that where the thing actually hasn’t disappeared that you think has disappeared.
CB: Yeah, ‘cause usually it’s just represented in a different way looking at it from the whole sign approach. And that’s why you have to understand all the different ways that things can be represented in a chart, otherwise, you’re not gonna see that. So like somebody saying that some house placement is very prominent for them in their life using Placidus, but then when you switch to whole sign, the ruler of that house is in a very prominent position in the chart or something like that, or is bonified or something like that, and that ends up being how it’s represented from a different perspective in the whole sign chart.
LS: Right. Yeah, I had one where I had a planet in a house in Placidus and then it wasn’t in that house anymore in whole sign. And I was like, “Well, that’s totally wrong because I totally have that energy in the house.” And then I realized that it was square the ruler of the whole sign house very tightly. And so, I was like, “Oh, okay. So it is still represented there.” And so, there’s a lot of things like that that I would, I guess, encourage people to pay attention to before they pass judgment on the new chart.
CB: Sure. And that sort of echoes or repeats a theme that we were talking about earlier with the asteroids, which is sometimes people become fixated on a certain placement of a certain thing that they really resonate with. But oftentimes if there’s something that’s showing up really strongly in a person’s life, there’ll be echoes or waves of that coming through the chart in different ways. Like repeating the ‘Rule of 3’, for example—the notion that if you see something once, it’s a maybe, if you see something twice, it’s pretty likely, and if you see something three times then it’s for sure. That’s sort of a good rule to stick by. Typically things come up in multiple different ways in a chart rather than just once. And being aware of that in switching to whole sign houses is part of just needing to figure out how to assess it properly or neutrally.
LS: Mm-hmm, definitely.
CB: So that’s one of the things with 29°.
LS: Yeah, specific to 29°—I think this is something we’ve talked about a little bit more recently—when there are transits that are really close to that angle, even if they’ve slightly gone into the next sign, that can still matter because it’s close to the degree angle. And so, that’s like the one thing that kind of counteracts otherwise paying attention to the whole sign house overlay. Say someone has 29 Sagittarius rising, for instance, and Saturn just went back to 1 or 2 Capricorn and then stationed.
LS: They’re gonna feel that as like a Saturn station near their Ascendant even though it’s technically in the next sign. They will also probably notice it in 2nd house things but it will be like both going on.
CB: Yeah, especially if it’s within like 3° of an exact aspect or an exact hard aspect, they’re still gonna feel that conjunction or that aspect with that angle. Because when you’re using whole sign houses—and for some reason people don’t get this point. I don’t know why that is ‘cause they hear the first part, which is just you establish what degree the Ascendant is in. And then that’s not the starting point of the 1st house, but instead the entire sign becomes the 1st house, so that technically 0° of that sign is the ‘cusp’ of the 1st house. But the thing that all of us whole sign house users take for granted is that the exact degree of the Ascendant still acts as a sensitive point at, in this instance, 29° of that sign. And so, sometimes one of the consequences of that is that if there’s an ingress into the rising sign, the transit through the 1st house starts at that point.
So they start seeing 1st house topics as soon as Saturn goes into 0° of the rising sign, but sometimes it won’t culminate or won’t become its most intense until the later part of that transit when Saturn hits let’s say 29° exactly. So technically it’s really culminating towards the end of that transit through the rising sign or through the 1st whole sign house. Or sometimes there’s those lingering effects, like you were talking about. And this is problematic because then people think that this is confirmation that only the quadrant houses are working. But what it is instead showing is actually just the culmination or sort of like a peak intensity coming when it gets close to the exact degree. But in reality if you pay attention oftentimes the events and circumstances surrounding that transit began back at the sign ingress into the rising sign itself.
LS: Yeah, exactly. So, I mean, both matter. The whole sign setup of the houses matter, but the degrees don’t not matter because of that. They still matter too.
CB: Right. And so, the same thing, to some extent, goes for the Midheaven, except with the Midheaven that’s still a sensitive degree, but it can fall in whole sign houses other than the 10th. And how that ends up working, let’s say, the degree of the Midheaven falls in the 10th whole sign house; at which point it’s gonna be in the same sign. But you may have an ingress of a planet moving into that sign, but if the actual degree is not till the very end of that sign, it may not culminate or peak with those events until it hits that exact degree. Or in other instances, the degree of the Midheaven may fall in a sign other than the 10th, in which case it important 10th house topics into whatever whole sign house it falls. And then you’ll see a doubling-up where you’ll see both 10th house topics and, let’s say, 11th house topics—if it falls in the 11th whole sign house—taking place when you get transit over that.
So what’s interesting about that is that means this is baked into the use of whole sign houses and has been for the past 20 years that astrologers have revived and started using this technique again based on the reading of different Hellenistic astrologers like Valens. He talks about this really explicitly at one point in Book 5 of The Anthology using this dual approach, where you have the degree of the Midheaven falling in different whole sign houses and a doubling-up of topics. It’s like right there in Book 5 and you can read it. What’s interesting about that is it means that all the whole sign house users have been using, in a sense, dual-house systems, where we’re using both whole sign houses and we’re integrating some components from quadrant houses into that at the same time. So it’s really kind of like a hybrid approach rather than just one house system necessarily. And that’s like a misconception I think people sometimes have where they don’t realize that whole sign house users are also trying to integrate some of those good pieces from quadrant houses as well.
LS: Yeah, I would agree with all of that. I mean, there’s one last piece that I often like to know, not as the first consideration but as maybe the last consideration, which is that if you are struggling with making whole sign houses your primary house system, it doesn’t have to mean that everything you’ve been looking at up to this point has no value and is completely wrong. That’s something that actually kind of makes me crazy with the perpetual house system debates or fights. Because I think that’s like a crucial component that is missed and that makes fights happen when they don’t actually even need to happen, which is that it can be another facet of your life that you’re looking at.
And I don’t want to overstate that on the one hand because I do personally use whole sign houses almost exclusively at this point. But I do also notice sometimes, particularly with the longer transits—like the outer planet transits, for instance, the things that are much more slowly moving. I will sometimes notice—and you can watch this yourself to kind of test it, this is what I’ve been doing for a long time. When faster-moving planets make hard aspects—especially conjunctions, but other hard aspects too—to the slower-moving planets, see where that shows up in your life. And I often personally, after tracking this for a long time, have seen—like I said, particularly with the outer planet ones—them showing up in two distinct areas of life in the whole sign house, as well as in the quadrant house if those differ at that time. And that’s just from my own life. I think it gets too complicated to use in consultations unless people make a note of something that otherwise shows up strongly in the other one. So, I don’t know, that’s something that I’ve tracked for a long time. So, for instance, for a long time I’ve had a Pluto transit every time there’s like a Sun-Pluto conjunction or a ‘Mercury-Pluto’ something, and I’ll see it happen in two different houses, and I’ll watch that happen over and over.
So I think that’s one thing where I think whole sign houses, personally, is the primary thing I want to use and seems to give me the most valuable information that I want at this point. But you don’t have to completely disavow what you were looking at before or disavow what your own life or your own psychology looked like in that chart. And I think, again, it’s something I don’t want to overstate, but I think sometimes whole sign houses shows better the concrete circumstances in different areas of life. And I think sometimes the quadrant can show some more psychological things, but I don’t want to say that too strongly. But, yeah, I have in consultations once in a while, not very often, but once in a while, I’ll mention it if something is really strikingly different and is showing up strongly in the person’s life.
I remember I had one person in their Saturn return, and I can’t remember if the Saturn in the whole sign houses was in the 3rd or the 5th, but it was one of those. And it made sense, and we discussed why it made sense in that particular context. But towards the end of the consultation they noted that their parent and also grandparent were all going through their Saturn returns right now. And then I looked and I noticed that in quadrant the Saturn would be in the 4th. And so, I said, “Oh, that’s really interesting,” and we discussed something a little bit about that as well.
CB: It would be in the 4th, but not in the same sign as the IC.
LS: You know, it’s been a while, so I can’t say exactly. Because, yeah, I pay attention also to if it’s in the same sign as the IC.
LS: So, anyway, you can pay attention to that when it comes up. You don’t have to be like, “All of Placidus is wrong now.”
CB: Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing that is disappointing and is kind of sad to me about some of the recent strong reactions amongst quadrant house users that are getting defensive and trying to pretend that whole sign houses never existed or is a recent invention. I was hoping it was heading more in the direction of figuring out how to reconcile the two systems. When I put out my original whole sign house lecture a few years ago, where I was trying to promote the benefits or the things that I thought were positive selling points of quadrant houses, I said at the end of it that we really need to figure out how to reconcile these because I think there is an interface between the two.
And it may not be that one is right and the other is wrong, but it may be that there’s a way to try to use both of them at the same time, which is something that we’re talking about a little bit, even just by using the degree of the Midheaven and the degree of the Ascendant; but also, there might be an actual means to or a reason to use both as overlapping systems at the same time. And I think that would be much more productive and useful at this point in terms of figuring out how to reconcile that because as far as I’m concerned, I haven’t seen anybody successfully pull it off.
Occasionally, people will make offhanded references like that, where they sometimes say, “Well, maybe the whole sign approach is more concrete, and the quadrant approach is more psychological,” but I think that it’s not always clear if that’s not just coming from the fact that quadrant houses is the dominant approach in psychological modern astrology. Everyone’s used to using quadrant houses when they first learn modern astrology in that context—a largely psychological context—vs. whole sign houses tends to be more of a Hellenistic or a traditional thing, and so it’s being used in a more concrete context. And therefore it’s been hard for me sometimes to know if that’s a genuine thing where it is actually more of a psychological or a subjective thing for quadrant houses and more of an objective thing for whole sign houses. I’m open if that’s actually the case and that’s the way to reconcile those two approaches. I just want to be careful that we’re not getting false-positives from the context in which they’ve traditionally been used, even if that’s not objectively how. But we do have to come up with some reason or some conceptual motivations for reconciling them, or at least ideally that would be the case.
Even 10 years ago, when Ben Dykes was thinking he was gonna make the transition from quadrant houses to whole sign houses, I encouraged him just to do it more carefully than I did and more slowly, and think it through and see if there’s any pieces from quadrant houses that he wanted to retain that were still useful. And I think he ended up still doing like I did, and like most of us end up doing, which is still ending up primarily just using whole sign houses. But I think there are still some creative ways to reconcile those issues that I hope astrologers start focusing on more rather than just this sort of ‘pissing’ contest of who’s house system is better.
LS: Yeah, and that’s part of why it makes me crazy when this keeps getting revived, these kinds of fights, because they seem so unnecessary. Not just in the sense of, “Why do we have to fight people?” kind of thing, but just in terms of a logical fallacy. It’s not always the case that one thing being true has to completely falsify the other thing, and there is a way in which you can see maybe these different house systems giving different pieces of information. And while you don’t want to go to the other extreme and be like, “It’s all right—”
CB: Everything works.
LS: “Anything goes; everything works; everything is as valid as everything else,” without really critically evaluating how they’re working. I do think that’s more or less the answer. The premise of the fight is always—which I think is a false premise—for whole sign houses to work, the other ones have to not work and give you no good information.
CB: Right. Well, people just come at it from the perspective of, “This is the approach that I use, and it really works for me in practice, so therefore that other approach either doesn’t work or can’t work.” Or, “If you’re saying that my approach that I use in practice doesn’t work, even though I’ve had that validated in my approach, then you’re wrong automatically.”
CB: Which is almost like the ‘elephant’ parable. Is that the correct analogy of the—
LS: Yeah, it is.
CB: Two blind people that are feeling an elephant and then trying to describe it or something. What was that analogy again?
LS: Yeah, well, I think it’s usually like three or four people. But, yeah, you’ve got the gist of basically people who can’t see but are touching an elephant, and they’re touching different pieces of it and they’re describing it. And they don’t have to all be wrong, they can actually all be right, but they’re touching different things.
CB: Right. Like one’s touching its leg and trying to describe it this way, and the other’s touching the trunk and describing it this way.
LS: Yeah, I mean, I feel like it sounds so basic to say, but I want to emphasize it anyway ‘cause I feel like it keeps happening—like it doesn’t have to mean that. Just because I use whole sign houses and it works well for me that doesn’t mean that I’m saying that you can get no useful information from whatever house system you’ve been using and feel you’ve been using successfully. It may be giving you different information, and I think it’s good to critically assess what information you’re getting from each one and see.
And I think unfortunately it’s much easier to just pick one and be like, “This is it.” Because most people aren’t gonna take the time to rigorously look at the same chart in many different systems and then keep doing that with lots of charts ‘cause we have other things to do, but it would be useful for some people to do that. So, anyway, I guess I would urge people to pay attention to what they can see in the whole sign chart if they’re making that switch, making sure you’re using all of the other tools that go along with that and not just switching the house system alone. Pay attention to what information is being shown in a different way perhaps than you’re used to before but might still be showing up. And, yeah, be open to possibly more than one house system working in some sort of way.
CB: Right. And the biggest thing that people don’t get that people need to understand is just there’s different approaches to house division, and that’s okay. There’s at least three different major ways to do house division. One of them is this symbolic sign-based approach of Ascendant falls in a sign, it marks that entire sign; then the next sign is marked with certain qualities, then the other sign is marked with certain qualities. There’s the equal house approach where it just measures equal 30° segments from the degree of the Ascendant. And then there’s the quadrant approach basically trisecting the arcs between the degree of the Ascendant and the degree of the meridian Midheaven and then using those 12 sectors in order to mark the houses.
And what’s happening is just people—once they get into a specific approach, for example, quadrant houses—are getting defensive about quadrant houses and saying, “Well, that’s not how house division works,” or “Whole sign houses isn’t a real approach to house division because it’s not incorporating the degree of the Midheaven and then trisecting the arc between that and the degree of the Ascendant,” or what have you. So it’s just a matter of being able to open up your mind a little bit and realize there’s different approaches to dividing the house and being able to understand what the unique benefits are of each approach.
LS: Yeah. So, I don’t know, were there any other pieces of that? I feel like we addressed that pretty thoroughly.
CB: Yeah, so that’s the 29° thing for the most part. The other one was about interception basically.
LS: Oh, right.
CB: My thing about interception is when I was studying modern astrology for like the first, I don’t know, five six years of my study, and even for the first 10 years of my study, I always got the sense that people didn’t know what to do with interceptions and that that wasn’t a very well-defined part of modern astrology. I really got the sense in 20th century astrology that interceptions were like this oddity, and I still think even today that there is an issue with quadrant houses. Even if we acknowledge that the degree of the quadrant Midheaven and the IC need to be incorporated and that there may be something to quadrant houses, there’s still a lot of ambiguity about how to trisect the quadrants and how to divide the quadrants into three houses each. So there’s four quadrants between the degrees of the angles and then you divide those into three or trisect them. It’s like people can explain the math behind the different approaches to quadrant houses, but they can’t usually explain why they would want to use this approach vs. another.
And that is a major continuing, lingering issue with quadrant houses, and nowhere does that become more of an issue than in the area of interceptions. Because it’s like in some quadrant systems there’ll be interceptions and in others there won’t. It really depends on what quadrant system you’re using and how you’re dividing things up. And once you get that—and let’s say there are interceptions in the chart—I’ve never felt that it was very clearly articulated, and it always seemed like an issue where a lot of astrologers didn’t really fully know how to deal with that. I know there’s some who now have come up with explanations and they have a specific interpretive approach, but I don’t think that that’s been, generally speaking, widely accepted what the single approach to interceptions has been or has always been.
LS: Yeah, when I first got into astrology it was modern astrology first. And the thing I had read in a few different places about interceptions was that if you had planets in the intercepted sign, it was supposed to represent something that couldn’t easily express itself or was hidden in some way. And I always felt like it was a bit of a stretch, honestly, that that was the explanation. I felt like that was the theory, but I didn’t necessarily see it really jump out at me as corroborated.
CB: Sure. Yeah, so, I mean, to me that was always one of the benefits of whole sign houses rather than something that was lost—that there are no interceptions, at least in whole sign houses, and that becomes a non-issue. And then to me that always kind of explained why that was such a murky area in modern astrology, where it didn’t seem like a lot of astrologers had a good answer to either what to do with interceptions, a), or b), which specific approach to quadrant houses to use and why. Like even some of the explanations that people come up with of, “Well, I use Placidus because that’s what the default on astro.com is,” isn’t a good explanation. Or, “I use Regiomontanus because that’s what Lilly used,” isn’t a good explanation. Yeah, it sort of cleaned up that issue. This is one of those questions where the answer is that there isn’t a good answer to it because, to me, it’s like a non-issue.
CB: So I don’t have anything else to add to that.
LS: No, that’s pretty much it. Like I said, I learned what it was supposed to mean. I was never really strongly struck by that being validated and then I started using whole sign.
CB: Sure. Okay. Let’s see, the other sub-question with this was, “I’m experimenting with whole sign houses and noticed they do not seem to be as effective when reading solar and lunar return charts. Do you cast solar and lunar returns for this house system? Have others found similar?” Yeah, so, the answer to this question is that I did experiment a lot with solar and lunar returns back when I was doing modern astrology. And I remember when John Townley’s book came out on lunar returns, I was really excited about that ‘cause there weren’t a lot of good treatments on it up to that point. But over the years, especially once I got into traditional astrology, I started paying less and less attention to solar returns, and especially lunar returns, because I was using other techniques like annual profections and zodiacal releasing.
I was already getting so much information from those and the information I was getting was more valuable, and the context was more clear in terms of more specifically what I was supposed to do with it and how it was useful. And it took up enough time that I didn’t find the need to resort to solar returns ‘cause I was already doing annual profections, which were telling me what the major themes were in that year. So I’m not sure at this stage if there’s something majorly significant that I’m missing by not doing solar returns, and I acknowledge that there could be. And I’ve been meaning to go back to that to look into it to see if I can integrate that into what I do now in a way that’s useful and effective. And I know there’s some traditional astrologers that really do emphasize solar returns, and integrate them with annual profections, for example, but it hasn’t been necessary for me so far.
LS: Yeah, I have largely the same response and for the same reasons. I will say that I did one return chart one year, a while back, that ended up being super striking to me, and it was whole sign. So, I mean, I don’t routinely use them, but I feel like the logic should not necessarily switch in terms of return charts not working in whole sign houses. And I think it may be more of an issue of something about return charts or how we read them, or if we’re missing tools to make them more useful or something like that. I mean, I don’t want to diminish if someone’s already having good experiences reading return charts, but I feel like if there’s an answer, the answer might be more on that side rather than the house system suddenly not working for those types of charts.
CB: Right. Just reminded me of one of the few critical comments I got on a review of my book last year—my book on Hellenistic astrology, titled, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, available at fine bookstores everywhere. When it came out last year, a lot of reviews came out. And one of the few critical remarks I got was that I didn’t deal with solar returns, and this was from an astrologer who finds solar returns to be very important in her practice using traditional astrology. And I ended up writing to her, and one of the things that I explained was that there are so few references to solar returns in the Hellenistic tradition that it’s not really clear how they dealt with them or interpreted them. There’s just like a few occasional offhanded references in passing to the idea that there is or could be some sort of solar return chart. But it’s not until the Medieval tradition several centuries later that we have some of the first surviving full treatments of solar returns by authors like Abu Ma’shar who has just this crazy, elaborate approach to interpreting solar returns, which Ben Dykes published a translation of that text a few years ago. And I think there’s an episode of the podcast where I interviewed Ben about that.
So one of the other issues for me in approaching this is it was not clearly explicated in the Hellenistic tradition, and there may have been a different way that they were approaching it. And that was the thing that made me hesitant about even trying to broach the topic in my book. Because Valens at one point, when he does spend like a paragraph talking about solar returns, he does something really weird where he does this sort of solilunar return. He calculates the planets at the time of the solar return, but in order to calculate the Ascendant he calculates the lunar return that will take place in the month after the solar return. And then whatever the rising sign is at that time, he’ll use that rising sign using whole sign houses and apply that to the planetary placements in the solar return chart.
So that’s really weird. And one of the questions is, was that a standard approach? Was that actually the approach that other Hellenistic astrologers used? But because none of them go into it much, we just don’t know the fact that that was the standard approach? Was that just a unique approach that was unique or idiosyncratic to Valens? What motivated that approach? Did he do that for a specific conceptual reason because they thought that that union between the Sun and the Moon in the month of the person’s solar return? That there was something really crucial about that conceptually or symbolically? Or were they doing it because maybe it was easier to calculate the rising sign at the time of the lunar return than it would have been at the exact degree of the solar return, just for practical or astronomical reasons? We don’t know. So it’s like this very unexplored area. The book was already 700-pages-long, so I wasn’t gonna add another 20 pages trying to unpack that issue.
LS: Yeah, definitely.
CB: But it’s one of those areas of research that I hope somebody—of which there’s tons of areas of research, and most of the students in my Hellenistic course know at this point some of them. And I’m gonna start, especially in the near future, outlining, as specific assignments or research projects that this is an issue in Hellenistic astrology. I haven’t been able to fully get into this because I’ve had other areas of research that I’ve focused on instead, but I hope that somebody will take this and research it and run with it at some point and figure this issue out. And that’s one of them that I wanted to outline for students of my Hellenistic course, and there’s a bunch of other things like that as well that some of my students are working on.
LS: Yeah, I think that’s a good answer. I mean, I never consistently and for a long period of time got really good information from solar returns before I switched to whole sign houses. And I think it’s one of those things that sometimes it works and you’re like, “Oh, I noticed something from that,” but I never personally felt like it was really striking and accurate information all of the time, or even most of the time. So, yeah, I think there’s more research to be had. I know that Nina Gryphon is one person who has been starting to or has been trying to integrate some other pieces into just looking at where the solar return falls. And I know that she had a lecture on that at the last UAC, and even was saying if you just use the solar return, you may get a little information but maybe not consistently, and maybe not a lot of information. So I think there’s a lot of other pieces that maybe we need to know about how to make solar returns more useful.
CB: Sure. Yeah, Nina has done that lecture. And I know Ben Dykes and Demetra George have also done lectures where they talk about using profections together with solar returns in order to do things more effectively.
CB: And I think that was what you were alluding to that Nina probably integrated as well—needing to use things like profections to get the full power of the solar return.
LS: Yeah, that was one of the additional pieces that she was using.
LS: Yeah, so, I guess in conclusion I’m not sure if the house system is the main problem. Without wanting to overstep that, but that would be my question.
CB: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t know. There’s a lot of issues there. All right, well, that concludes the large section here on whole sign houses and the four different questions we got on that. We’re at two-hours-and-ten-minutes. So we have a bunch of other questions that we didn’t get to. I don’t know if we’ll try to plow through a few more of them, or if we’ll wrap this up at this point. What do you think?
LS: Let me take a look real quick. Yeah, I mean, I could do one more maybe, or we could just stop ‘cause it has been a while.
CB: Yeah, ‘cause some of these are carryover questions from two other prior Q&As earlier this year, and I feel bad for not getting to them. But I might want to do a separate episode of the Casual Astrology Podcast that’s available to patrons to answer some of the rest of these just so I can finally get recordings of some of them down. So one of them—let’s end with this one by Paul, who asked—
LS: That’s gonna be a long answer.
CB: You think that’s too big of a—
LS: No, I think that’s too big. We can’t end on that one.
LS: I mean, I could do the ‘challenging house placement’ one. I think that would be less of a long answer.
CB: I mean, that almost seems like a bigger, broader issue to me.
LS: It could, but you could also have a short answer to it.
CB: Okay. Well, let’s just do both because I want to have just a short answer to Paul’s question.
CB: Paul’s question is, “Something I think is often implied but never really discussed often enough: what is the purpose of astrology, and what role does the astrologer play for their client?” And the short answer is there’s many different applications of astrology, and there’s different astrologers that approach this subject with different philosophical and religious and metaphysical assumptions about what they’re doing with astrology, and there’s no way to answer that question in a way that’s gonna be true for every single astrologer in the world. I mean, we could attempt to draw it back as much as possible to come up with some sort of core thing that would be broadly applicable to a lot of astrologers. But even doing that is gonna be incredibly difficult because you’re gonna have to generalize a lot in order to get there.
LS: Yeah, I would agree. That is a good short answer actually because if you really unpack it, it’s a long discussion.
LS: There’s all the different branches that you can use astrology for. I don’t know if the assumption was specific to natal astrology.
CB: Right. But even if we assumed it was natal astrology, it’s like are you coming at it from the perspective of an astrologer that believes in reincarnation, and we’re reincarnating at different times to work off karma, and things we experience in this life are largely the result of past actions in a previous life? Are you approaching it from the perspective of astrology being causal, or astrology working through synchronicity, so that the planets are causing things to happen in your life, and therefore, as the astrologer, you’re gonna counsel people differently than if you think the planets are not causing things—they’re just reflecting what’s happening on Earth? Like what other paradigms are there in astrology?
LS: Yeah, I mean, there are a bunch of those kinds of things. I mean, my main answer I guess, without fully unpacking it, would be if you’re just focusing on natal astrology the assumption is that you’re there to give bigger picture insights about what’s going on either in their life as a whole or at certain times that they may not fully see otherwise, even if they may partially see.
CB: Right. So giving the person perspective on their life could be the most general or generic answer that would be broadly true to all astrologers. And that sounds almost overly-generic, which it has to be to cover everybody. But it actually ties it back into something more specific that Robert Zoller told me once when I was living with him actually in Maryland 10 years ago at Project Hindsight very briefly. But one of the most striking things he ever said to me was that astrology—I’m gonna paraphrase it here. But he said something to the effect of astrology allows you to know things that you otherwise shouldn’t be able to know, and that was the biggest thing, and that sort of ties back into the answer that you just gave. You’re giving people perspective on their life based on something that’s giving you information that you shouldn’t otherwise be able to have.
And that’s basically true for just about any approach or any branch of astrology, especially if we’re talking about natal astrology. And so, therefore, that’s what you’re able to do, or that’s what astrology is enabling you to do, or that’s the tool that you have to work with. And so, therefore, what you’re actually doing with it or what most astrologers are doing with it is giving people perspective on their life. Or, let’s say, a different perspective. Allowing people to step out and look at their life from a different vantage point, which most astrologers would argue is a more objective standpoint.
CB: I know Zoller, for example, that was actually one of Zoller’s big hobby-horses that I didn’t fully agree with at the time, but I’ve come to understand better. I still don’t fully agree with him, but I understand better now why he said that. He took an extreme position and said astrology is the ‘only’ means of having an objective perspective of our life, and that astrology was truly and fundamentally objective; the biggest issue that people had with it is it could be brutally honest about what your life is actually about or what’s going on in it almost to a fault or something.
LS: I mean, I would halfway agree with that. Although I think there are crucial caveats about human beings being the medium for that information, in which case it’s not objective.
LS: You just try to be as objective as possible.
CB: The ‘flawed’ medium, which is the astrologer and their attempt to interpret it. Because the act they actually have to perform in order to accomplish it and get the information is an interpretive one, which is inherently flawed and problematic because it requires interpretation which is partially subjective and not as clear-cut as we would like it.
LS: Yeah, definitely. But, yeah, I mean, I think the general sense is that you’re giving people a different perspective on their life, and also, in some ways, a bigger picture perspective that’s less personal to them because everyone has all of those planets in a chart. And you can describe what they generally mean. And if you don’t know astrology, it’s a different way of seeing your life. And I think astrology isn’t the only thing like that, but there’s a number of ways in which you can get a different perspective on your life than the kind of frameworks or paradigms that you’re used to thinking about. And I think there’s something inherently useful about that that can kind of spark good things.
CB: Sure, definitely. Yeah, so I think that’s a good answer. See, that was relatively concise. It only took us like 10 minutes.
LS: Yeah, we didn’t really fully unpack it, which could take a whole episode in itself.
CB: Yeah. Well, that would be a good episode to do perhaps at some point. But then of course our answer to that is gonna be different than some other astrologers might be, if you put 10 astrologers in a room together.
LS: Right. It’d be a good conference panel.
CB: Yeah, I think we did successfully answer that in the most generic, general way that’s as broadly applicable as possible.
CB: All right, do you want to answer this last one that you wanted to do?
LS: I mean, we can, yeah. I just have a few things to say about it. So the question, which was sent in by someone named Jenn was, “How do you approach challenging house placements in the natal chart? For example, the chart ruler being in the 12th house? Are there any rules or ways to mediate this placement?” And she gave the example of a Leo rising with the Sun in Cancer in the 12th house. So I think this is kind of like the double-edged sword of the ideas getting back out there that there are in fact good and bad placements and things like that, because I think the positive of that is that is actually how life exists to a pretty strong degree. And so, it’s negating reality to not point out in a chart—at least as the astrologer, not necessarily in the same words with a client—or to be able to see things that are more positive or more challenging.
But I think sometimes people then get overly-scared about some of those placements, and in some ways that ties back in with one of our previous answers, which is that you need to take into account all of the factors and not only one. And so, for instance, an Ascendant ruler in the 12th, is it being helped by any other planets? Is it having Venus or Jupiter help it out? Is it sextile the Midheaven, and so it’s being made more able to operate in a prominent way, as opposed to just in the 12th without being tied into an angle?
CB: Right. Are there any mitigations?
LS: Are there any mitigations, basically, is the general category. So that’s a huge piece. I guess I would just not jump to be like, “This planet is in a bad house, and therefore, it’s all terrible,” so that’s one thing. The other thing is the dialogue is really important. So if this isn’t, for instance, your own chart, but you’re talking with a client or a friend or a family member or something, there are usually some sort of positive things or neutral things in terms of manifestations of any given house. And so, even if it’s a so-called ‘bad’ house, it’s probably not going to be exclusively and only bad things manifesting from that placement. It’s usually a mix of things. Usually not only one thing ever in that person’s life comes from that placement. Usually it’s more than one thing, at least over the course of a lifetime.
So dialogue is really important in terms of this person has already lived with that placement for a while. And so, if they’re not super young, they probably have some idea of how that’s played out already for them. You could list a bunch of different possible topics in that house that can run from the more challenging to many of the neutral ones to the most positive ones and see what they’ve experienced so far. And that can be useful in itself, I think, to put out maybe some of the overlooked good things about that placement; not to be ‘Pollyanna-ish’, which I am definitely not. But sometimes, though, people can get more in a mindset of only seeing the bad parts and not seeing anything else that is actually going on.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I mean, that’s hard because the traditional texts tend to state things in extremes. So it’s like they’ll only state the negative parts of some of the more challenging houses, or they’ll only state the more positive things of some of the more positive houses. And so, it’s really on the astrologer learning that and reviving some of that stuff in modern times to understand what the worst-case scenario could be, but also what the best-case scenario could be. And every house placement or every house in the chart has a more negative possible set of scenarios and manifestations and also a more positive version, as well as a bunch of shades of gray in-between. So maybe just being able to establish what some of the shades of gray and what some of the extremes are on both ends of the spectrum is the starting point.
LS: Definitely. You want to validate what people have actually experienced and also explore what they might be overlooking, as well as other things that they might try. I think both of us, for instance, have noticed this kind of hilarious repetition of 8th house placements being tied to people who work in banking or accounting or things like that.
LS: 8th house is considered a bad house, but this is really common.
CB: Yeah, it’s one of the few positive things that does at least come up in the traditional texts, where Valens talks about the 8th house being the partner’s money because it’s the second from the 7th using derivative houses. And then more broadly you can expand that to if the 1st house in the birth chart is the native, yourself, the 7th house is others in general. And if the 2nd house is your money then the 8th house is other people’s money in general. And so, the 8th house can then symbolically be associated with this broad general category of other people’s money, which I always understood abstractly.
But then it’s funny seeing when the 8th house is prominent and situated positively, or when there’s planets there situated positively, or when there’s mitigations. Like a planet in the 8th house that’s also making, let’s say, a very close aspect within 3° to the degree of the quadrant Midheaven, which is a mitigating factor; it’ll tend to manifest more constructively. And it’s funny seeing that over and over again people will say that they’re an accountant, one of my clients. What was the one you had recently?
LS: A mortgage lender. I’ve had a lot of those actually with 8th house placements.
CB: And so have I. And it’s funny then that that’s a literal placement that matches the symbolism. But especially when it’s placed well, it will tend to be more of the constructive end of that; so sometimes being able to identify what the more constructive significations associated with the bad houses could be. Another one that I use in my book and my course—actually I should mention my book. I recently released it on Google Books as an ebook. So if anybody’s ever been waiting to get my book for the ebook version, it’s finally out. So just do a search for ‘Hellenistic Astrology’ on Google Books and you’ll find it.
One of the examples I use is of a person that had the ruler of the 1st and the 10th in the 6th—which in ancient texts was traditionally the house of illness and sickness and suffering—but it’s extremely well-placed. It’s trine the degree of the Midheaven. It’s also bonified. So it’s being made positive by other benefics in the chart that are aspecting it. And the person is a doctor who focuses on patient treatment and eventually became the head of a hospital, and then the head of a larger association for doctors. And that was, again, a positive manifestation of a more potentially difficult placement. But what ends up happening is that the person used it for good in that she works with people who are sick; but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she, herself, has become afflicted by being ill or something like that.
LS: Mm-hmm. I have a similar example chart with someone with the ruler of the 10th in the 12th, and is also a doctor. So it’s like working with sick people because the 6th and the 12th can have some overlapping qualities of dealing with sick people.
CB: Sure. And then some of them, especially with mitigations, the last two US presidents have the ruler of the Ascendant in the 12th. So Obama had that, but it was mitigated and well-placed by being in its own sign, and I think aspecting the Midheaven or something. And then I think Bush Jr. had that as well. He had Leo rising with the Sun in Cancer, which I think was also mitigated, if I’m remembering correctly. So, yeah, there’s no placement that’s like a complete deal-breaker, end of the world, and that’s basically why I’m giving that lecture at NORWAC next year on reception. Things like reception or things like aspects to the degree of the Midheaven are crucial mitigating factors. And if you’re not paying attention to them, you may not realize why a placement is working out more positively than you might otherwise expect or something like that.
LS: Mm-hmm. Definitely. Yeah, and then just to kind of cap all that off, the question about any rules or ways to remediate that placement, I mean, I think it’s always useful to suggest some of the positive possibilities that someone may not have considered in terms of activities for their life or things they might want to focus on or something. But I have some feelings in terms of the casual way of using the word ‘remediation’ in terms of the ability to completely avoid what otherwise might be challenging about that placement. I think oftentimes how it shows up is more than one thing, as I mentioned before, and there can be side-by-side something that someone can get some positive use out of in that area, as well as something that is more challenging, if it’s not a super positive placement that’s not mitigated. And so, I think that, again could be another whole podcast on its own, the digression around that, in terms of the actual ability to completely remediate away difficulty in life.
CB: Yeah. That actually is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as well and I’d like to have a discussion about ‘cause I’ve been thinking about the ancient concept of the ‘substitute king’ and stuff like that. In the Mesopotamian tradition, if there was a bad omen and it was extremely repeated, and it indicated the king was gonna die or something like that, they would substitute somebody else and make him the king for like a week or something, and then he would not be king after that. The other king would come back then and take over. And that always sounded kind of wacky to me in a way, but I’ve sort of been understanding it more lately and have been experimenting with and thinking about this idea of substituting an event or giving up something. And it suddenly started making me understand some of those religious practices of giving up something during certain religious periods and the idea of sacrificing or propitiating something.
You’re actually doing something that’s hard or difficult for you, and you experience it as hard or difficult, but in some way it almost might be taking up the symbolism and sort of eating up the symbolism of that time in a way that’s more controllable for you. So you’re still experiencing the thing that’s challenging, but it’s not as challenging as it could have been. It’s not like the worst-case scenario or something like that. I’m still working on that. It’s still something I’m thinking about and sort of working out conceptually and theoretically. But, yeah, that would be a fun discussion sometime.
LS: Yeah, I have a few soapbox feelings about it tied into earlier things we were discussing. I do feel like it’s kind of cast about casually, sometimes the idea that it’s completely possible to remediate away everything about a placement if you just do something else that also fits the symbolism, but is more positive.
CB: Yeah, and that’s one of my big reservations and concerns about the revival of the magical tradition. Because even though I’ve been interested in talking about that and exploring that over the past two months, I’m actually nervous about that. That gets abused a lot in the Indian tradition, the idea that you can buy an expensive gemstone and all of your negative karmas will be erased or something like that, or that you can do things in order to avoid suffering in your life or just completely sidestep it. And that’s really not realistic. And in some instances it may be giving people a sort of false sense of hope about being able to do something magical in order to avoid any challenges or hardships in one’s life, which just doesn’t seem realistic.
LS: Yeah, as with many of these things, I feel like some of my feelings about it came from personal experience, but I don’t always think it’s possible to completely substitute something for something else. I mean, one can talk about degrees of course, but I feel like usually when things are particularly challenging in one topic in a life, like we were talking about earlier, it’s usually because it’s shown in a bunch of different ways, not just one way.
LS: And so, it’s not necessarily like one placement that you can remediate and then get rid of that.
LS: But again, it could be a long digression.
CB: That’s a whole other thing, but we’ll have to save that for another time.
CB: All right, well, I think that’s it. We actually made it through. It doesn’t seem like it, but we made it through a fair bit of questions here. There’s still a number that are left over, but I think I might deal with these in a separate podcast for the Casual Astrology Podcast somewhere here in the near future. Maybe I’ll buy you a chai or something and you’ll join me for that, we’ll see.
LS: Thank you.
CB: All right, I’ll let you decide on that later on.
CB: Yeah, thanks for joining me today, Leisa.
LS: Yeah, good discussion. Thank you for having me, and thank you everyone for listening.
CB: All right, and people can find out more information about you on your website, LeisaSchaim.com, right?
LS: Yes, I do consultations and elections and things like that.
CB: Excellent. And you’ve got—what do you have? There’s like two lectures on your website for sale, right?
LS: Yeah, I have a Saturn return and sect lecture on there from a past conference about how day and night charts affect Saturn returns. And then I have another one about the repetition of the 12-year annual profection cycle and how the same topics keep coming up over and over again as that 12-year cycle repeats the focus on a particular house.
CB: Awesome. Cool. Yeah, both of those are really good. The lecture on sect really shows you how to use sect, as well as Saturn returns. And a really good lecture on profections and showing you how to use those 12-year repetitions to anticipate and make predictions about the future. So check those out at LeisaSchaim.com. For me, my main thing is my Hellenistic course. So if you want to learn more about my technical approach to astrology, you can find out more information about that at TheAstrologySchool.com since new students can sign up at any time. So feel free to check that out.
I think that brings us to the end of this episode. So thanks everyone for listening or for watching on YouTube. We appreciate it. Thanks to all the patrons who make the show possible each month. Would not be able to do it without you. And I think that’s it. So thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.