The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 82, titled:
With Chris Brennan, Kelly Surtees and Leisa Schaim
Episode originally released on June 30, 2016
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released July 09, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
Chris Brennan: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Wednesday, June 29th, 2016 starting at 1:28 p.m. in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 82nd 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 the astrologypodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode, I’m joined by Kelly Surtees and Leisa Schaim, and we’re going to be doing our first ever question and answer episode where different listeners have sent in questions and we’re going to be going through them. So, we’ve got a lot of questions to answer so let’s get right to it. Kelly and Leisa, welcome back to the show.
Kelly Surtees: Thank you.
Leisa Schaim: Thanks, Chris.
CB: All right, let’s see. So, before we get started, people can find out more information about each of you on your websites. Kelly, what’s your website again?
KS: It’s kellysastrology.com, so kellysastrology.com.
CB: Awesome, and Leisa?
LS: Mine is just leisaschaim.com.
CB: Okay, and my website as usual is chrisbrennanastrologer.com. So, before we jump into it, we’ve got a few news and announcement type things. So, the first off as I mentioned in the last episode and you can go back and listen to the forecast episode for the full rundown of the latest news and announcements, but one of the things is tomorrow is the deadline for nominating The Astrology Podcast for an ISAR award. ISAR is giving out this award for best audio-visual production at their upcoming conference in October and there’s an open call for nominations right now. So, if you’d like to nominate The Astrology Podcast for an award, then all you have to do is send an email to Glenn Perry at email@example.com saying that you’d like to nominate the podcast and give them a link to it. Please CC Sam Reynolds, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. And if the podcast gets enough nominations in the next 24 hours, I guess before the end of June 30th, then it could win an award which would be cool. So that’s our first announcement. Our second announcement is, of course, this is the final episode of June, so we’ve got to do our June giveaway drawing where we’ve got two prizes this month for patrons on the $5 and $10 tiers from what are essentially our sponsors this month, which are the ISAR astrology conference which is taking place in October and The Mountain Astrologer magazine which publishes a regular astrological magazine six times a year. So, we’re giving away one free pass to the ISAR conference in October and we’re giving away one free one-year subscription to The Mountain Astrologer magazine. Those are both great things I’ve been really excited about this whole process and it’s been working out really well. And Kelly, it turns out you’re going to be speaking at the ISAR conference now, right?
KS: That is true, yes. I know when we spoke earlier this week, I was not, but there has been a turn in my fortune and I will be. So I am not sure 100% what my lecture will be yet, but I’ll be talking on Saturday morning, I believe.
CB: Okay, awesome. And Leisa, you’re also speaking at the ISAR conference, right?
LS: Yeah, I’ll be speaking on the 12-year cycle of repetitions of annual profections.
CB: Okay, and I will be giving a talk on how to time peak periods in a person’s career in eminence which is supposed to be tied in especially with the presidential election, and we’ll look at a few presidential charts and perhaps talk about the upcoming presidential election which will take place just a few weeks later. Yeah. So, the ISAR conference, it’s being hosted by the International Society for Astrological Research. It’s going to be the biggest conference event of the year. I think everybody is really looking forward to it. It’s being held in Costa Mesa, California from October 13th through the 17th of 2016. The focus of the conference is on astrological forecasting, and the tagline is the power of forecasting meets the consequence of choice. I guess that gives you some like parameters for what talks you would have to give right, Kelly, in terms of you focus on forecasting talk.
KS: Totally. I suspect I will end up doing something on progressions which is one of my favorite forecasting or predictive tools, but we’re just waiting to finalize that. But yeah, this topic, the whole conference topic around the forecasting, it’s such a practical and useful part of astrology.
CB: Yeah, yeah, I really like that as a theme because then you really have all of the astrologers coming and giving their best talks on the different forecasting techniques or different things surrounding the philosophy of astrological forecasting and things like that.
KS: Totally. So yeah, if people can’t make it in the flesh, I think the recordings are going to be amazing.
CB: Definitely. So, the conference is going to feature more than 60 speakers from around the world. There’s going to be six different tracks on different topics plus numerous pre-conference and post-conference workshops and also two separate panels on the US presidential election which will be predicting the outcome of who’s going to become the next president of the United States. For more information about the conference, you can go to their website at isarastrology.org. So, let me reach into my high-tech bowl of names and see who’s the winner of the giveaway of this one.
KS: I’m surprised you haven’t come up with some kind of app for this, Chris.
CB: I know, I actually need to. I guess that would be more high-tech of me.
KS: Well, it would be. I guess we’re allowed to be out of character occasionally.
CB: Actually, initially pulled it from the wrong bowl. [Kelly and Leisa laugh] All right, let’s see. The name is Scotty Hudson. So, Scotty Hudson is the winner of the $10 tier this month and he gets a free pass to the upcoming ISAR conference in October. That’s actually really awesome. He’s been a longtime patron on the $10 tier and a big supporter of the show, so I’m glad to see his name.
KS: That’s fantastic. That’s a price that has a quite a few $100 values, too.
CB: Yeah, I mean, tickets to the ISAR conference are like $300 or $400. The goal here is I wanted to figure out some system and all this is like an experiment still, but figure out a system to be able to promote stuff that’s going on in the community that’s important and that I’m interested in, but also give something back to the listeners and it seemed like a good way to do that. All right. Well, Scotty, if you’re listening to this, just send me an email and I will give you instructions on how to collect your prize and hopefully, we’ll see you at the conference on October and we’ll have to hang out and get a drink or something. All right, so that is our first drawing for the month. Our second drawing for the month is a free one-year subscription to The Mountain Astrologer magazine for a patron on our $5 tier. The Mountain Astrologer magazine or TMA for short is published six times a year for nearly 30 years now. So, they’re going through their first Saturn return with Saturn in Sagittarius when the magazine was first started in the 1980s. It’s just about slightly younger than I am [Kelly laughs] which is pretty impressive. It’s become the main publication for students of astrology and professionals of astrology because it helps to keep you connected with what’s going on in the astrological community. It covers just about everything. They’ve got well-edited feature articles, they’ve got a student section, they’ve got detailed forecasts and Astro humor and cartoons, so you can find out more information about TMA. And they also have an online blog with a bunch of great free articles on their website plus 15 years of back issues that they’ve digitalized available online at their website at mountainastrologer.com. Let’s see. Pulling a name to see who the winner is this month. Who is this? Okay, Freeman Presson. So, the winner of the one-year subscription to The Mountain Astrologer magazine this month is Freeman Presson.
KS: Congratulations Freeman.
LS: Hey, congratulations.
CB: Awesome. Well, that’s really exciting. Freeman’s also been a longtime supporter. Yeah. Just send me an email and I’ll give you the instructions for how to collect your prize and congratulations. Now you can read the electional section that Leisa and I do every month in The Mountain Astrologer magazine and, of course, Kelly’s regular articles every once in a while as recently as like two or three months ago, right, Kelly?
KS: Yeah, just earlier this year I had a piece on the third and sixth houses traditionally.
CB: Excellent. All right. Well, yeah, congratulations to both of our winners this month, and thanks everyone for supporting the podcast and being patrons. I’m in the process of lining up the prizes for next month, but I think we’re going to do like a software giveaway next month where the top tier prize I think I’ve worked out is going to be a free copy of the astrology program called Solar Fire, which is one of the main programs that lots of people use. I know it’s the program that Leisa and I use. I think it goes for something like 400ish, 400 plus dollars at this point, so it’ll be a great giveaway next month. So, if you want to be in the giveaway next month, then just become a patron on the $5 or $10 tier and you’ll be all set. And thanks also to ISAR and to The Mountain Astrologer magazine for being our sponsors this month for this month’s giveaway. All right, so let’s get on to the main topic of the show which is the questions that have been sent in over the course of the past couple of months since I announced this, I think at the end of April. So, we’ve been building up to this for a while and we ended up getting a lot of questions. So, I’m not sure that we’re going to be able to get through all of them today, but we’re going to do our best to make a large dent in them. And perhaps if there’s some that are left over, we might be able to carry over a few of them into the next Q&A episode in the future. So, our first question actually comes from Twitter a few weeks ago and it comes from a Twitter user named Gaston Garcia, who said, “What’s a good way to learn astrology step by step for beginners?” For this actually, Kelly and I did an episode of The Astrology Podcast last year. Episode 31 was me and Kelly doing an episode titled tips for learning astrology and becoming an astrologer and that would be a great resource for how to learn astrology that I’d really recommend checking out because we really packed a lot into that episode. Otherwise, my advice would be to use www.astro.com for charts in order to generate charts, get a copy of an ephemeris, preferably like a printed copy although you can also get free copies online through Astrodienst through astro.com, and just start looking at charts and transits for everybody you know on a regular basis. And I think that’s a really great way to really get into the basics of astrology and get a fundamental grounding in just the techniques of how it works and what you’re working with just by looking at your own chart and transits and looking at other people’s charts and transits. That would be my starting point. What would you guys say?
LS: Well, one of my favorite beginner books, if you’re asking about actual basics, understanding the definitions of what different signs are like and so forth, April Elliott Kent’s book, The Essential Guide to Practical Astrology, was out of print, but it’s actually just recently become available again in the Kindle version and then it’s supposed to be back in paperback soon. So that’s actually a really good resource that I found for people who need to go right from the beginning. I agree with doing charts for friends and family. And in particular, I think if you’re just starting out, it can be really useful to watch the Sun transits. It’s pretty basic but then you get a sense of the Sun transits about a degree a day. When they go over placements in your chart or friends or families’ charts, you can watch and see exactly what happens at those times. So I think that’s a really good starting point as well. And then of course, The Mountain Astrologer is a great resource. And yeah, there’s a lot of other things to go from there.
KS: Yeah, I think what you guys have said is fantastic and the only thing that I would add in is just to go slowly if you are an absolute beginner. Don’t try and run before you can walk. Just take your time to take it all in. And the other thing that I found really helpful when I was studying was to take some classes. Find an astrologer that you connect with either in person or online and sign up, whether it’s just a six-week class or you sign up for a 12-month program. The first class you take in astrology will not be the last one, but it may really help you get a good grounding in the basics or the foundations and then you’ve got a platform that you can continue building on for the rest of your life.
CB: Sure, yeah. And that was something that I didn’t realize until I actually had teachers is that some of the benefits of that in terms of, I did self-study for the first four or five years. And with self-study, there’s pros and cons to either way you go, but one of the downsides is that if you have like a teacher or somebody that’s been doing it for a while to guide you, it can really accelerate your studies in terms of going straight to the best sources and having somebody that can tell you like what you need to focus on at different points in your studies rather than just reaching around and trying to find your way in the dark and not knowing what resources are out there or what things you should be focusing on and instead, having to learn that the hard way. Sometimes having a teacher can be a really nice step in terms of just taking a shortcut towards finding out some of the best resources that you might not know otherwise. Of course, the downside to having a teacher that sometimes comes up is sometimes that can lead you towards a specific approach and adopting the teachers approach without necessarily… It’s not a given that whatever teacher you’ve happened to run into or started learning under will necessarily have the best approach or the only approach to astrology, and so sometimes one of the downsides can be getting too locked into a specific approach rather than studying many different approaches. But the benefits probably outweigh the potential downsides as long as you’re careful about that.
KS: Yeah, for sure. And I often say to students that think about the first person you study with astrology as perhaps your kindergarten or your year one teacher who taught you your basic letters and maybe some basic words, and you had other teachers and your skills developed. So, your first teacher ideally shouldn’t be your only teacher because I totally agree with you, Chris. There’s such value in getting out there and connecting with different teachers or learning about the different types and different applications of astrology. There’s certainly not just one way.
CB: Right, definitely. Okay, so I think that answers things pretty quick. So definitely check out that article or that previous podcast episode 31 that I mentioned, and you’ll find a ton of other additional tips for getting started in learning astrology. All right, so thanks for that question, Gaston Garcia. All right, so moving on to the second question. This one comes from Christina Unzicker and she says, “In your experience, how accurate is software like Astrodienst at calculating degrees since when using whole sign houses, the difference between 29° of one sign and 0° of the next sign can be pretty huge?” She goes on to say, “For example, in my own chart, the ruler of the Ascendant is Jupiter which is retrograde at 0° and 18 minutes of Leo in the ninth whole sign house. If that’s off by just a smidgen, then it’s really in Cancer in my eighth house and I assume that could mean a fairly different life path for me. Have you ever run into a situation where you question the accuracy of that small of a scale or do you find it to hold true?” Okay. I would say for that, to answer the first part of that question, yeah, Astrodienst is definitely the most accurate chart calculation site that we have or that is out there in the astrological community. They’re one of the oldest software companies in the astrological community, and they actually produce the ephemeris that most other programs use. It’s called the Swiss ephemeris. And so, I think Solar Fire and Sirius and many of the other actual software programs, they all draw on the same ephemeris or the same ephemeris program. It’s like a coded ephemeris that started being produced by Astrodienst in the mid-1990s, and that ephemeris is based on a set of ephemerides that are used by NASA in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. So, in terms of accuracy, that’s the best you’re going to find, and Astrodienst is generally pretty reliable in that regard. In terms of planets that are really close to sign cusps, when it comes to outer planets like that, I don’t think you have to worry as much because Jupiter, for example, in the instance that you mentioned in your chart, it actually wouldn’t retrograde back into Cancer for several more days after you are born. So, in instances like that where you’re talking about planets that won’t change signs for days compared to like a day or an hour or even like a few minutes which is sometimes the case with faster moving planets like the Moon or something like that, you do run into a bit of an issue at that point. But when it comes to outer planets where it’s like several days from retrograding, I think Jupiter would firmly be in Leo in that instance in your chart. Have you guys come across this or what do you guys think?
KS: I have noticed I think one occasion where astro.com was a little bit off from Solar Fire, but it was more to do with the geography maps section rather than the planet info. So, I think you could certainly rely on what’s coming at you from astro.com and that was going to be my point completely, Chris, a slow-moving planet like Jupiter. If you’re really concerned, grab the ephemeris which I just did. Christina was actually born very close to when I’m born and so I’m very familiar with this 0 Leo retro Jupiter, but it was four or five days after she was born that it changed signs. So, you very definitely have your Ascendant ruler in the ninth house.
CB: Yeah, definitely. And I mean, one of the things that’s interesting in terms of the astrology software programs that surprised me when I first got into astrology, and I’m not sure if most people realize, is that the programs are not taking real time measurements of where the planets are like in the sky at that moment. That’s not actually how the programs work. And I guess I should explain what I mean by that. Solar Fire or Astrodienst is not like connected up to like an observatory which is then moment by moment tracking where the planets are, but instead these are all computed positions where it’s like at some point in the past, they’ve taken very specific measurements of where the planets were then and what their trajectory was and where they have been in the past, and then in the ephemeris they will then project that out in terms of where those planets will be in the future based on what we know about their movements and their speed and how frequently they go retrograde and things like that. But that’s actually one of the interesting things to almost like go back on or counter my statement from earlier, it’s always been interesting to me that the astrology programs and stuff are based on ephemerides which are produced years ago in the past. And therefore most of the positions are based on predicted positions of where the planets will be in the future or sometimes where they were in the past, but the thing about that is that the outer planets, the planetary cycles are known with such precision, and we have the math down so well that if you’re talking about planetary positions within a century or two, there’s usually very little deviation from their predicted paths of where the math basically says the planets should be versus the actual observed paths of when they actually end up. It’s extremely accurate just because we’ve got the math and the planetary orbits down so well at this point in time. But nonetheless, it’s still worth noting that the programs are not measuring the positions of the planets live, but instead they’re almost based on mathematical models and projections. But nonetheless, they’re extremely accurate projections.
LS: So, the only thing I’d have to add to that is yeah, astro.com had always seemed pretty accurate to me for natal charts and mostly I’ve been using Solar Fire for a long time now. Sometimes, if anything can be off, it can be a matter of either the places’ longitude and latitude being exact or it being in that database for that particular software or all of the local time changes being in there are incorrect, especially like if you’re looking a few years in the future or something like that, and mostly they’re good. But if you have any doubts, it would be good to double check the longitude and latitude that’s listed for those places and the time zone or daylight savings time status at that time. I think that’s the only thing… It wouldn’t change a planet like your Jupiter, but it could change like a rising sign especially if it was close or early or late in the degree, things like that.
CB: Yeah, and that’s really the biggest area of chaos in terms of astrological programs is that the timing of when certain cities or certain states or areas or countries had daylight savings versus didn’t have daylight savings because that can change from year to year as different countries adopt different standards or different states have their own local standards or sometimes certain cities have their own local standards and change them from time to time. That’s been something that’s given the astrological community major headaches over the course of the past decade and there’s entire books. The American Atlas or the International Atlas is largely dedicated to documenting time zone changes so that you know whether daylight savings time was an effect in different areas at different times. And there’s certain cities where it’s just a mess and it’s very uncertain whether it was daylight savings time or not daylight savings time which basically throws things off by an hour. But like Leisa said, that’s more of an issue if you’re trying to determine the correct Ascendant or if the Ascendant is close to a sign cusp or if there’s some ambiguity if you’re born in an area where it’s not clear if daylight savings time was in effect or not. But for the most part, if you’re talking about ephemeris positions, those calculations are going to be extremely accurate. Let’s see. There was a second question that Christina had where she said on a slightly related note, “Do you ever consider out of sign aspects?” So, in Hellenistic astrology, they primarily did sign-based aspects, they did have some degree-based aspects, but only if they were pretty close like within a few degrees if we’re talking about most of the planets or if it was within 13° if it was talking about the Moon. And definitely, with that 13° rule with the Moon, that’s something that I’ve really seen hold true if the Moon is applying to another planet within 13° even if it’s out of sign that next aspect still is really clearly relevant in terms of what that ends up indicating in the person’s life. And I know I’ve used in some of my lectures like my rulers of the houses lecture, I use the examples of Robert Kennedy and Princess Diana who both had the Moon applying to either an out of sign square or an out of sign opposition with Mars in a day chart and that ended up being really prescient in terms of some of the things that ended up happening in their life in those specific areas that the Moon ruled in their chart. That would be my answer is yes, if it’s relatively close or in the case of the Moon, yes, if it’s within 13°. What do you guys think?
LS: Yeah, I would say the same. If it’s really close, then I would think about how that was impacting the other planet that it was close to or if it was close to an angle in particular, but I would still consider each of them in their separate whole sign houses as well in terms of delineation of planet in house.
CB: Sure. How do you treat out of sign aspects, Kelly?
KS: Oh yeah, it’s very similar to you guys and I think the only thing I would add is that I would consider that an out of sign trine, for instance, may not be as potent as an in-sign trine. So, in some of the conditions that you guys have mentioned, if it’s within the degree particularly with the Moon, maybe it’s a conjunction that’s very close but the planets are in two different signs. But understanding the origins of aspect theory where so much was based on the sign sign connection of two planets, I would just maybe slightly take it down a notch in terms of how significant I might think that particular aspect is all other things being equal.
CB: Yeah, definitely. And that really brings up the point that is been coming back to me over the past couple of months as I’ve been really focused on my book and trying to write this broad overview of Hellenistic astrology and of the earliest tradition of Western astrology that used the fourfold system of planets, signs, houses and aspects, is that in almost every area, the signs of the zodiac acted as like the backbone for the entire system and an acted as a backdrop both for the aspect doctrine but also for the houses. So, this becomes relevant in terms of the debate about whole sign houses in terms of realizing that why they were using the signs as the backdrop for the 12 houses. But one of the arguments actually for whole sign houses and its prevalence in the early tradition is seeing that it wasn’t just restricted to the houses, but they were doing that for aspects and for other things as well so that the aspect doctrine it was partially predicated on the ability of the planets to have an affinity or a lack of affinity with each other based on the signs that they were placed in under the premise that each of the signs has a few fundamental qualities like gender, element, and modality or quadruplicity cardinal, fixed, or mutable and that if planets are in signs that have matching qualities, then that means they’re going to be in the aspect with each other and therefore share relationship. Whereas if planets are in signs that don’t match in those qualities, then they’re not going to be able to share a relationship because they don’t have anything in common. So that goes back to what Kelly’s saying in terms of there’s a big difference, even if, let’s say, planets are aspecting each other by degree within like a degree or two, even though there are cross sign boundaries, there’s still going to be a much different flavor to that type of configuration if they’re in signs that are not aspecting each other or if they’re in signs that share a different type of relationship than the aspect that you’re looking at. So, for example, part of the reason trines were originally conceptualized as good and part of the conceptual motivation is that planets that are in signs that are trine, share the same gender and the same triplicity or the same element, whereas signs that are square share only the same modality, cardinal, fixed or mutable, but otherwise, they’re different elements and different genders. Actually, that’s not correct.
KS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re different. Yeah, one is cold and one is hot. They have more odds with each other. Yeah, I totally agree, Chris.
CB: I thought I reversed it for a second but no, that’s correct. So, the point there that would really feed and just conceptually would explain part of what you’re talking about, Kelly, just in terms of there’s a difference between, let’s say, a square or a trine by degree across sign boundaries versus one that’s in the appropriate sign to a square or a trine by sign, right?
KS: For sure. I mean, an example might be somebody who has Jupiter towards the end of Cancer which would make a trine to a planet towards the end of Scorpio or a sign-based trine to any planet in Scorpio and we’ve got the water triplicity or mental connection there. And then somebody might say, well, I’ve got the Moon in early Sag and by degree, that makes a trine to Jupiter in Cancer. And that’s maybe not a great example because there’s a little bit of rulership there, but we’ll just ignore that for the moment. [Leisa laughs] But a planet in a fire sign does not have the same kind of warmth or appreciation or understanding of how a planet in a water sign operates. So, it’s kind of hard to see how it could be as juicy and flowing as a trine that operates according to those sign-based principles.
CB: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So that’s really crucial and it’s just important for understanding the original approach to Western astrology, and this is something that I’m really going to try to draw out in my book, is just how the signs of the zodiac really acted as a backdrop for everything with respect to the planets and their relationships with each other in their placement in the chart in a way that’s much more prominent than in modern astrology. Because starting around the time of the Renaissance with guys like Kepler, he didn’t like the zodiac conceptually and so he had a tendency to either reject or to downplay the zodiac and instead to focus on the aspect doctrine and specifically to focus on aspects as just harmonics between planets or degree-based geometrical relationships between planets. And that was always part of what the aspects were, but they were originally viewed partially as these geometrical relationships between signs and the ability of planets to relate to each other through the signs that they were in which secondarily had this secondary geometrical component. So, what happens in the Renaissance is you have guys like Kepler that are emphasizing more of the geometrical component with aspects and downplaying the zodiac and then at the same time, you have other guys like William Lily and some of the other Renaissance astrologers that are really focused on horary astrology which is much more directed towards dynamic relationships between planets and applying and separating aspects and questions about whether relevant significators in a chart will complete aspects with each other or whether they won’t, and so you have this shift in focus towards much more of a degree-based focus in that time. And I feel like that just accelerated in modern astrology in the 20th century where it was interesting where even though you have books like in 1968, Linda Goodman’s book, Sun Signs, that really focused on and popularized the concept of the zodiac and the Sun sign as being like this core thing in astrology, especially in this popular consciousness, in the actual astrological circles, there’s a tendency to focus primarily on degrees between planets and aspects as geometrical configurations. So, one of the things I’m trying to do in my work is bring back this orientation towards integrating the zodiac as this key component underlying not just the aspect doctrine but also the houses, transits, synastry and other things as well. So that’s part of my answer to that question. All right. That’s only question number two. I think we might be going not at a very brisk pace. [Leisa laughs] Maybe we’ll pick it up a little bit. Okay. Yeah. And then of course, we get to question three, which is one of our longer questions. Yeah, sure. So, I don’t know if we’ll be able to take all of them because it’s actually several separate questions and sub-questions, but some of them are very good. So, I do want to spend a little bit of time talking about this one. This is from Marlene Stalker. The first question she has she says, “Were Arabic parts used in Hellenistic astrology? And if so, how?” The timing on this is actually really excellent because I literally just finished writing my chapter on the “Arabic parts” in my book on Hellenistic astrology yesterday. I just finalized it while I was sitting at a coffee shop, trying to finalize it over the course of the past week yesterday, so good timing. The answer to this question is that yes, Arabic parts were used in Hellenistic astrology and in fact, the concept or the technique actually originated there. And as a result of that, some people like myself argue that the term Arabic part is a misnomer because the Arabic astrological tradition only started sometime around the year 775 CE, but this technique had actually been in use since about the first century BC. So, for about 700 or 800 years, this technique was already being used before the astrologers who wrote in Arabic started using it. And they actually inherited it from the earlier Hellenistic tradition of astrologers, they were writing in Greek and Latin and other languages. In the Hellenistic tradition, they actually originally called the concept lots, which is related to the modern concept of a lottery like we just did earlier in the show where you write a bunch of names on little pieces of paper or little scraps of paper and then shake it up and then pull one of the names randomly and somebody wins a prize. That was actually the concept underlying this technique originally, and they were specifically called lots for that reason in order to invoke this idea of a random or chance shaking up of something, shaking up of significators in the chart that then spits out a specific outcome. And originally, this was tied in with a lot of other things in the ancient world in this ancient type of divination called cleromancy, which is where people would cast lots where they would draw lots in order to determine the outcome for something, but they were doing so under the premise that there was some divine agency that would make sure that the correct outcome or the best outcome would occur even though the process otherwise seemed very random or very chance-like, that somehow fortune or chance was somehow subservient to fate so that the outcome itself would be fated in some sense but in more of like a providential or positive sense. Anyway, so lots were used in the Hellenistic tradition and the way that they were used is in a few different ways, but the primary way that they were used is in order to assign additional topics to the signs or to the houses. So, they had this whole collection of different lots that would signify different things like the primary set of lots were for different family members. So, for example, the fourth house in the Hellenistic tradition was generally said to signify the parents, but they didn’t really seem to have any differentiation between, in modern astrology, we have sometimes astrologers who say that the fourth house signifies the mother or the father and the 10th house signifies the other parent, they don’t seem to have had that distinction as far as I can tell in Hellenistic astrology. But instead what they did is in order to differentiate the mother or the father, they would use a specific lot. So, they had a lot called the lot of the father and they had another lot that was called the lot of the mother. And if you wanted to look at a specific parent in the chart, you would then pull out one of those lots and calculate it and then whatever sign it falls in the chart, the entirety of that sign will take on the topics associated with that lot, which in this instance is of significations of the mother or the father. So essentially, what it was is they were doing this within the context of whole sign houses, but then you calculate the lot and whatever sign it falls in, that sign and its whole sign house will then take on additional topics pertaining to that lot. It was kind of like an alternative way of calculating house significations or assigning significations to the house in a random way that was chance like or not standard. Because on the one hand, they had the standard method of assigning topics to the houses which always had like the fourth house is parents and the fifth house is children and the seventh house is marriage. But then you had these lots where by making it a little bit more random, those topics could fall in any of the 12 places or any of the 12 houses in a specific chart. And one person might have the lot of the father in the 10th house whereas another one might have the lot of the father in the sixth house and so on and so forth. That’s the primary way that lots were used. Do either of you have any points about that?
KS: No, I don’t think I have anything to add.
LS: No, I think I’ll just defer to your expertise here, Chris.
CB: Okay, right. Yeah, I’m going to go on it whole because I literally just got done writing an entire chapter on this.
LS: And you’re also fresh with it, too.
CB: Yeah, it’s really fresh in my mind so I’m really fired up about it. Okay, so the second part, related part of her question was, do whole sign house cusps work with Arabic parts? When rules for calculating Arabic parts like those below mentioned house cusps, what house systems would Greeks have been using? A book by Linda states that only equal house cusps work with Arabic parts and many traditional websites show charts using Regiomontanus or Alchabitius house systems. So, the latter part of my chapter on the lots, I did like a survey of many of the major lots that were commonly used in the Hellenistic tradition. And two of them that came up in Dorotheus were actually lots that involved house cusps. So, one of them was the lot of, I think it was called the lot of possessions or something like that, the lot of finances. And in this lot, you were supposed to measure, and I don’t have it in front of me so I don’t know if I’m misremembering it, but it’s like measure from the lord of the second house up to the cusp of the second house and then measure the same distance from the Ascendant. What it seems like they’re doing there is actually they’re using the beginning of the whole sign house cusp as the cusp of the second house. And he also has an eighth house, he has a lot of death where he does the same thing using the cusp of the eighth house. And looking at the commentary for the translation of Dorotheus and Hephaistio of Thebes, Rob Hand actually has a little footnote on it and he points out, he says, “It looks like they’re basically using the starting point of the whole sign house which ends up being just the cusp or the beginning of the sign in order to calculate this lot.” And this is probably partially also connected to it. It seems like lots were originally calculated perhaps by sign first and then eventually by degree. And in Dorotheus, it seems to be this mixture of the two where he’s using the beginning of the sign as the house cusp but then he’s measuring the distance to the degree of the ruler as part of the fundamental component of the lot.
Yeah, as far as we can tell, in some of the earliest authors that mentioned lots, when they do have lots that involve house cusps, I don’t see any evidence of them. They don’t say anything about calculating other house systems, they don’t say anything about measuring it to the degree of certain cusps, they just seem to say measure it to the beginning of that house. And all of the context leading up to that seems to indicate that they’re using the whole sign houses, that they’re using the signs themselves as houses so naturally, the cusp or the starting point of the whole sign house is the starting point of the sign. That changed later on, of course, when they started using Regiomontanus and Alchabitius and Porphyry and other things in the medieval tradition because eventually the medieval astrologers inherited the concept and started using that. And then by the ninth century, there was this shift away from whole sign houses to using quadrant houses and so they still had the old calculations, but then they started applying them in a quadrant house framework which necessarily involved the cusps of the houses now being specific degrees somewhere falling in the signs themselves and not necessarily the beginning of the signs. But anyways, as far as I can tell, the starting point of the whole sign house would be the cusp in terms of calculating the lot. Okay. You guys don’t have any comments about that, do you?
KS: No. I might have a little to add on the next part, but I think you’re the expert on that question.
CB: Okay. So, let’s see. The next part of her question was, please explain the reasoning behind changing various Arabic part formulas for day and night births. Is this because of sect? For example, the importance of the part of fortune is being featured in current neptunecafe.com articles and the author Michael O’Reilly clearly states, he’s referring to himself I guess. The author uses the daytime formula and not the day/nighttime formula advocated by Sun. If you’re using Solar Fire to calculate your part of fortune, the default setting is the misguided day/nighttime formula. And then she says, the importance of the part of fortune as highlighted in this guy’s article, there’s many examples. So, if he’s not using the night formula for such personalities as Teddy Roosevelt, Barack Obama, Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, why does it work? Is he actually pointing to the part of spirit in these charts and it’s equally sensitive and informative even though it’s character attributes are different? I have a whole set of notes and responses to this. Do you guys want to say anything before I launch into it?
KS: I don’t know. I have some stuff, but I don’t want to. Why don’t you go first?
CB: I can give mine first and then if you want to add to that. Okay. Like I said earlier, the lots go back to the earliest strata of the Hellenistic tradition. And that’s another point, is that in the past 10 or 20 years since the original concept was recovered, the people that know and are starting to use this concept called them lots for the most part, especially the people that have the background in the Hellenistic tradition and the word part doesn’t really convey the same meaning even though it means the same thing in Latin. In English at this point, the term part doesn’t really convey the original conceptual meaning underlying the concept. So, I’m going to use the term lot and I meant to say that from the start. So, the lots go back to the earliest strata of the Hellenistic tradition, and there seems to have been some debates about how they should be calculated even in the early part of the tradition. And this is partially arising from conceptual reasons and questions about whether they should be reversed based on a sect of the chart, that was usually the primary conceptual reason why they would be reversed or not reversed. But then there was also other debates that seem to have arisen based on how to interpret some mysterious early source text that originally outlined or introduced the calculations for those lots. Valens has this passage in the second century where he takes this quote from Nechepso, who is one of the earliest authors on horoscopic astrology, which is the type of astrology that uses the planet signs houses and aspects, and he’s one of the mythical founders of the Hellenistic tradition or supposed founders. So, he takes this passage from Nechepso, and it is extremely difficult Greek. And it’s written in a very cryptic riddling fashion and Valens says, “Many different authors have tried to understand this passage and figure out what the hell this author was talking about, but it’s extremely difficult.” And he gives the passage and then he says, “And here’s my interpretation of what I think this means.” And then he gives his interpretation.
One of the issues may be is that there was different interpretations of an early source text and this led to some disagreement about how lot should be calculated. Most of the Hellenistic astrologers though like Dorotheus, Valens, Paulus, Rhetorius, pretty much all of them seem to have reversed the calculation for the lot of fortune and many other lots for day and night charts. And then as a result of that, most of the medieval astrologers basically followed them. So, the vast majority of the Western astrological tradition for about the first 1500 years or so pretty consistently reversed the calculation for the lot of fortune and the lot of spirit for day and night charts. Ptolemy was one of the only major Hellenistic astrologers who in the second century said that you should never reverse the calculation for the lot of fortune, but that you should always measure the distance from the Sun to the Moon and then project that same distance from the Ascendant. So, what happened and this is like a funny historical story is that later astrologers basically ignored Ptolemy for most of the Hellenistic and medieval tradition and they instead followed other astrologers like Valens and Dorotheus who consistently reversed the calculation for day and night charts, so that in a day chart you measure the distance from the Sun to the Moon and then project that from the Ascendant, and in a night chart you measure the distance from the Moon to the Sun and then project that from the Ascendant. Most later astrologers in the Hellenistic and medieval tradition ignored Ptolemy until the Renaissance period. And then during the Renaissance period, there was this weird short-lived back the Ptolemy movement with guys like William Lily and some of his contemporaries, where Ptolemy was one of the earliest and one of the only Greek texts that survived all the way through until the 17th century. The approach of Ptolemy is a weird and unique compared to some of the later medieval astrologers who were using approaches that were much more close to the mainstream Hellenistic tradition and mainstream authors like Dorotheus and Valens. So, Ptolemy’s approach appears unique from that perspective. And so what happened is some of the Renaissance astrologers assumed that because Ptolemy’s approach was weird and unique that it actually represented the older or what was the mainstream approach originally early on before there were deviations in the later medieval tradition from the Arabic authors. There was this back the Ptolemy movement where they started just adopting whatever sometimes very unique approaches Ptolemy had, and one of these included not reversing the calculation for the lot of fortune for day and night charts even though everybody else largely did that. The funny historical thing about that is that Lily wrote what was the first textbook on astrology in English. Prior to that point, astrologers wrote their textbooks in Latin even if English was their primary language. So as a result of that, Lily’s texts had a huge influence on the subsequent English tradition all the way through into the 20th century. And for that reason, all the way through the 20th century, you have just the day calculation for fortune where you don’t reverse it becoming the standard. And this has only changed recently in the past 20 or 30 years when suddenly we’ve started getting translations of some of the older Hellenistic and medieval texts besides Ptolemy, and researchers have realized that almost literally everyone besides Ptolemy was reversing the calculations for the lot of fortune. I wrote a paper a few years ago that’s titled The Theoretical Rationale Underlying the Original Seven Hermetic lots and you can find this on my website or just do a Google Search for it. And I actually discovered what the conceptual motivation is for reversing the calculation for the lot of fortune, and it actually has to do with this very interesting philosophical premise where they seem to associate the lot of fortune with the concept of darkness and the concept of the body, whereas they had another lot that was often calculated along with fortune which was the reverse of it which they called the lot of spirit which they associated with the concept of light and the concept of the soul or the intellect. So, fortune indicates darkness in the body and spirit indicates light in the soul and intellect. In that paper, you’ll see what the rationale is for reversing the calculation for day and night charts and it’s all very interesting. So, instead of going into that, I would just refer you to that paper since it actually takes a fair bit of explaining to do and you’ll see what the rationale is and then you can form your own opinion from there. But I would just caution people from following people that argue too strongly for this thing for one doing it one way or another that don’t have a good argument or a good conceptual argument underlying it or where their argument boils down just to arguments of textual superiority because that’s not usually a good argument to make if you’re just saying well, this author says to do it and therefore I trust his authority or what have you. That’s not really a good, practical or conceptual reason to do what you’re doing, and I would definitely caution people who advocate that approach. Yeah, that’s my take on it. What would you say, Kelly?
KS: Well, you said it all so perfectly, Chris. No, for sure, the only thing I think is just that yeah, my understanding is that the reasoning behind changing the formulas for day and night, certainly for the lot of spirit and lot of fortune, does have a little bit to do with the sect light of the time.
CB: Right. So, the Sun in a day chart or the Moon in a night chart?
KS: Exactly. So, for the lot of fortune, it starts from the Sun and goes to the Moon in the day, and then for the night formula, it starts at the Moon and goes to the Sun. But for anyone who does want to go further, your paper on the theoretical rationale or going into all of this is fascinating. And I didn’t know the piece about the Ptolemy being translated first which makes really good sense as to where that emerged and why at that particular time, that idea I guess of not reversing, which there are some traditional and then modern astrologers who are very passionate about the not reversing piece when it does seem to be the way they did it way back in the day.
CB: Yeah, a lot of the Lily people today, the people that are students of or got into Lily and that’s one of their primary reference texts and they’re really into that approach to astrology in horary which is actually an interesting side topic that this is becoming an interesting and unexpected growing disparity in the traditional community where it seems like you have the astrologers that are focused on and use as their primary basis the later part of the tradition which is the astrologers around the time of the Renaissance, and then especially the 17th century, which ends up focusing on Lily, and then you’ve got other people who focus on the Hellenistic tradition which is an emerging thing which is 1700 years earlier around the first century through the, let’s say, fourth or fifth century. And there was enough change in between those time periods and there’s enough disparity between those schools that that’s actually becoming a much bigger disparity in terms of some contemporary astrological discussions than I anticipated like five or 10 years ago, where camps are becoming entrenched and people are arguing about things like house division, like the debate that I had last year which largely or partially arises from that disparity between somebody that’s coming at it from the perspective of the 17th century and what makes sense within the context of 17th century astrology versus somebody that’s coming at it from their perspective of first century astrology and what makes sense within that context. And there’s a lot more disparity there than one would think given that oftentimes, traditional astrology is sometimes mentioned as this thing that was much more consistent or much more unified from the first century through the 17th century prior to the advent of modern astrology in the 20th century which is then sometimes contrasted with as a less unified or more chaotic approach. But in fact, there’s a decent bit of disparity in traditional astrology as well, and even I guess the calculation of the lot of fortune is good evidence of this or good example of this. And I should say before because this is the traditional way that this issue has been dealt with as these debates come up over the past 20 years after all these translations of texts have been made and there was this realization that more astrologers were reversing the calculations and that that was definitely the majority of astrologers compared to Ptolemy who seemed somewhat unique. But in working on this, I’m trying to be very careful about how I talked about it in reconstructing the history of the issue for this chapter, I should say that there is actually much more ambiguity earlier in the traditions so that we can’t necessarily just reject the non-reversal argument completely because of frequency of use or because most astrologers reversed it whereas Ptolemy was one of the only major astrologers who didn’t. Because when Valens actually quotes that passage from Petosiris that’s so cryptic and may have given rise to different astrologers interpreting in different ways and therefore having different calculations for the lot of fortune, when Valens actually interprets it, he says, “What I think this actually means in this cryptic passage is that you use the diurnal formula or the daytime formula for the lot of fortune in day charts, which is to measure from the Sun to the Moon and then the same from the Ascendant, and then in night charts, you reverse it and you use the nocturnal formula where you measure from the Moon to the Sun.” But he says, “But only if the Moon is above the Ascendant-Descendant axis in the top half of the chart and that if the Moon is below the Ascendant-Descendant axis in a night chart that you default back to the diurnal calculation for the lot of fortune.”
KS: That’s really interesting, Chris. And then one thing I just wanted to throw in here on this topic is for people to maybe just remind themselves because I think that I agree with you on the idea of not throwing out the day formula for the lot of fortune because it appears to consistently, there’s a philosophical piece there that the formula for the lot of fortune by day is actually the Moon phase. And since the lot of fortune I believe is the part based on the Moon, there may be some philosophical piece in there that honoring the Moon phase or giving it prominence in the chart which is essentially what we do when we take the distance from the Sun to the Moon projected off the Ascendant and then give it extra meaning. I think there’s definitely something to be said for, it may not have just been a quirk that some people left it without changing.
CB: Sure, yeah. And that’s what I was getting at. There’s a complicated and nuanced issue. I mean, Valens presents that interpretation of the Nechepso and Petosiris text, but then appears to ignore it because in the rest of his chart examples, he always just flips the calculation for day and night charts regardless of what side of the horizon the Moon is on. But the point is that the origins of the concept and the technique may have been much more murky and much more up for debate even if it did get standardized by the time the Hellenistic tradition really picked up with the surviving texts that we have from Dorotheus and Valens and whoever else, and then all the subsequent medieval authors who largely just followed the earlier Hellenistic authors such as Dorotheus and Valens through their translations. So, it’s complicated issue, requires additional research. I feel pretty strong about the approach of just reversing it for the conceptual reasons you can see outlined in that paper that I mentioned earlier on the origins of the significations of the theoretical rationale for the seven Hermetic lots as well as for and this relates to one of the next questions that she asks, which is how are the lots used in the Hellenistic tradition. And one of the ways they were used was in complex timing technique called Zodiac Releasing where you actually use the lot of fortune or the lot of spirit as a starting point for the timing technique, and that’s where you actually see the reversal of the calculations used as being the most important and the most compelling or impressive. And this relates to another question that was asked in the next by Anna Alpheus, where she asks, “How do you use the Hermetic lots? And do you use them with profections and transits for instance?” You can and many of the Hellenistic astrologers do use the lots within the context of profections and transits, although I’ve mainly used them within the context of Zodiac Releasing and I think that’s where they’re the most impressive is within the context of that timing technique where you really see what they’re about and what they’re capable of in a technique that’s entirely based on them or entirely predicated on the position of the lot, and you know pretty clearly if you’ve got the lot in the right sign or if it’s not in the right sign and something’s off because when the technique is working, it just works in this really stunning fashion typically, whereas if the techniques not working, it’s very clear that everything is off. So that’s what I would say to that. Okay. Leisa, do you have any comments?
LS: Yeah, the only other couple of things I’d say is I was going to chime in with, what you just said which is evaluating which one’s working, it depends on what you’re doing with it, rather than just seeing it as a static thing placed in a certain place in a chart. I use Zodiacal Releasing timing technique like Chris. And if you’re releasing from the lot of spirit, the timing is supposed to be related to peak periods and more positive and more challenging periods with respect to your career or your general life direction, whereas the one from the lot of fortune has to do more with the body. And so, I feel like that’s usually held up. I feel like that holds up with day night reversal, so I think it’s important to evaluate things like that instead of just interpreting it in a sign and a house or something. And the only other thing I had to add was the original person asking the question alluded to, is it actually pointing to the part of spirit in these charts when it’s working or seeming significant even if it’s not reversed? And I would say that’s really important because oftentimes, you’re going to get another lot that’s significant if you don’t reverse it. It’s not that you’re going to get nothing. And so, I think can’t be overlooked in terms of people arguing for the other.
KS: Yeah, that’s a really good point, Leisa. Yeah, the arguments for either way, if you don’t reverse it, then the formula you use to calculate the lot of spirit is the reversal of the lot of fortune, so you end up with both parts or both lots in the chart regardless. I guess what you guys are saying is when you use them with Zodiacal Releasing, you’ll really get a sense of whether you’ve called correctly the lot of spirit or not.
LS: Right. But if you’re just looking at it in the chart and saying, well, that’s a significant point, well, it is going to be a significant either way.
CB: Yeah, and this has come up as really important and prominent in some charts recently as I’ve been researching over the past couple of years, this issue of when exactly does it become day or night because there was always this assumption with the planetary hours, that it’s right when the Sun hits the Ascendant-Descendant axis. But I’ve actually been finding that sometimes there’s like a range to it and sometimes it really becomes a day chart when the Sun’s a few degrees below the Ascendant-Descendant axis or just rising up over the Ascendant or even sometimes if it’s just sat below the Descendant and it’s still bright out that it still behaves like a day chart, and therefore the diurnal calculation of fortune and spirit still work very effectively in the context of Zodiac Releasing. So that’s another instance where the reversal really makes a difference and you can really tell and there’s charts like George Lucas, for example, where I think when you apply the Zodiac Releasing technique to his chart, it’s much more impressive if you do the reversal versus if you don’t. All right. So that was just a few questions from Marlene. She had a few other questions, but I think because I’ve spent so much time on this one and because there’s different or unrelated questions that we might want to move on so we can get to other ones and maybe we can come back and do these again some time or in another episode. Okay, so the next question was by Anna Alpheus, and she had two questions and I already asked the second one about their Hermetic lots. But the first one she had is she said, “How do you interpret the malefics and the benefics too when they’re rulers of the first or seventh houses? Do they still carry the malefic/benefic significations?” Does either of you want to start with this one?
LS: You can go, Kelly.
KS: Okay, cool. I mean, I’m always happy to talk, but Leisa, did you [Leisa and Kelly laugh] want to say something?
LS: I have things I can say. I’ll add to you. Okay. Well, the only thing I was going to say was, yes, basically that the malefics and benefics do still carry significations regardless of which house they’re ruling. And seventh, it’s more straightforward so it couldn’t describe like any other topic in the chart, the quality of how that area of life will go for you or describe the relationship partners or things like that. With the first house, it can be a little bit more complicated only in that it represents you, and so it can sometimes be how you bring those qualities yourself to situations. And so, sometimes if it’s a malefic or something but it’s really in the Ascendant sometimes maybe like especially whatever house that is then placed in like maybe you bring some issues to that area of life rather than it coming from other people in that area of life to you if that makes sense. And the other thing is sometimes with the first house, it can pertain to health as well since the first house also represents your body. I’m still looking for additional tools to differentiate this if I don’t know ahead of time or haven’t talked to the person yet because sometimes it’s not like a malefic ruling the Ascendant is like you being problematic, it’s actually like your body being problematic and so there’ll be some health issues, that kind of thing.
KS: Yeah, I was going to speak to that as well, Leisa, because I actually just had a client this very week who had Saturn ruling her Ascendant, and in the chart, Saturn was also placed in the sign of its detriment, so I guess there’s a double factor there. But she had some kind of chronic and ongoing health conditions. So, I guess the malefic nature if we like is still there and just manifesting specifically to the topics in question.
CB: Right. So, and that’s an important point in terms of, when it comes to the rulers of the houses, is the planet or its condition and what it signifies, is it just representing the circumstances? Sometimes it’s just representing the circumstances surrounding that area of life like Leisa was saying to the extent that the first house signifies the body and the physical health and vitality. Sometimes when the ruler of the Ascendant is not in a good situation in the chart, it can indicate challenges or struggles surrounding physical matters or matters relating to the natives health, whereas other times, if it’s like a benefic and it’s connected to the first house, it can quite literally mean positive things with respect to the body. One of my favorite things, one of the things I point out in my long, I think, like 10-hour lecture on this, in my Hellenistic astrology course is one of the ways that’s sometimes traditionally interpreted or delineated, especially if there’s a benefic like in the first house, is that there’s something about the natives physical appearance or body that’s like aesthetically pleasing or beautiful so that the native is actually handsome or physically attractive in some way. So I use the two examples of, the first one was Paul, the actor Paul Newman, who had, I think, Venus in the first house conjunct the degree of the Ascendant and in his obituary in the New York Times, he was said to be like strikingly handsome or something like that or like eerily handsome. Then the other, the female example, I think I used was Angelina Jolie, who also had like Venus conjunct the degree of the Ascendant or something like that.
KS: Yeah, she does. That’s the example that came to my mind, “I’m like good old Angie and Venus.”
CB: Right. So,there’s that element of it in terms of, is it pertaining to that area of the person’s life? Then the other way that it works out, that I’ve been super interested in over the past few years, and Leisa mentioned this as well is just the way that sometimes when you’re talking about houses that represent people in the person’s life, how sometimes the ruler of that house, whatever planet it is, the person represented by that house will take on the agency of that planet or will sort of become the agent of that planet in the natives life. So the one that’s been the most interesting to me, and I think I’ve talked about a few times before on the show is just how sometimes if it’s a malefic planet that’s the ruler of the Ascendant that because the first house represents the native and it’s the house of self and it’s the house that’s most closely connected with the native in the person’s life versus the other houses representing everyone else, that sometimes when there’s a malefic ruling the Ascendant, especially if it’s contrary to the sect, that sometimes the native can take on the agency of the malefic and sometimes either cause problems in their own life in that certain area of life that it’s placed or cause problems for other people in some way in the area of life that it’s placed in. So, there’s other manifestations of that like Leisa mentioned, so I don’t want to give the impression that that’s always the case. It’s been really interesting for me studying the cases in which that is the case and just seeing that as an interpretive principle which doesn’t just apply to the Ascendant because it also can apply to other houses. So, Anna asked about the seventh house and sometimes it’s the same thing where if a malefic is the ruler of the seventh house and it’s poorly placed in the chart, and let’s say contrary to the sect, sometimes it’s like the natives partner becomes the agent of the malefic and imports difficult things or misfortune or problems into the natives life in some specific area. I remember last year I got really excited about the example of Steven Spielberg, where I think if I remember correctly, it’s like he had a malefic ruling the seventh house and it was placed in the second. When it got activated by annual profections, he had like a famous most costly divorce in history because it’s like in that instance at least, his partner from his subjective standpoint became the sort of malefic that was sort of taking away his money or what have you. That works when it comes to the rulers of other houses as well. Like if you have a malefic ruling the fifth house of children and it’s somehow poorly placed in the chart and somehow the natives children cause them problems or the natives friends if it’s the 11th house or what have you. Of course, that works in the reverse, if it’s a benefic and it’s extremely well-placed, it’s like those people playing very positive roles in your life or somehow helping you or bailing you out or what have you so that it can go both ways. So that’s just a particularly interesting area of research for me in terms of the way that that can sometimes work out in very literal ways, even though it’s otherwise just a sort of a broader symbolic placement where you’re just taking a few very basic techniques or concepts and then putting them together and it produces this delineation which then can sometimes work out very literally. Okay, I think we covered that one pretty well, right?
CB: Okay. Let’s move on to question number five by Teodora Gales. This is one where I should probably read out the full question because like her sort of background is part of it or is important context for the actual question itself. So, unless one of you wants to read it.
CB: Either of you want to read it? [laughs]
KS: Do you want me to read it to give your voice a break?
CB: Sure. Might as well, go ahead.
KS: Okay, cool. So when I first set eyes on my birth chart, I had no idea what Placidus meant. I had no idea that there are other systems of house division anyway. So I got used to my planets being in certain houses and I became accustomed to seeing myself through a certain type of lens. I had no clue that life could look any different. Fast forward a couple of months and here I am diligently studying astrology. Traditional astrology draws my attention. I learned about the whole sign houses and I have a shock. Welcome to the club. That’s my insert. My chart looks different when I change the house system. Actually, it always looks different, no matter what house system I use. My north node, for example, sits either in the third, the fourth or the fifth house. How about that? Truth be told, I’ve come to pay more attention to the whole sign houses because they seem to be more accurate. That being said, what strikes me is that no matter what house system I use, the main themes never change. The question specifically is, so my question is, how would you approach a chart that is so changeable? How could you not lose confidence when no two house systems yield the same result?
CB: Right. So this is a really important question that I think every astrologer or at least every thinking astrologer like struggles with at some point in their career, especially when they first start learning astrology or sometimes at different points in their studies as an astrologer. I know or I think I dealt with it a little bit because of the way the different house systems change my chart, some of the different quadrant systems. Do you guys really remember struggling with that either before the whole sign house sort of exposure or even during?
LS: Yeah, definitely, definitely. I had a major problem adopting whole sign houses, which is what I use now, but there was quite a long period of me questioning and not being sure if that was the right way to go and that kind of thing.
KS: I was a little the opposite only because my chart doesn’t really change. I have pretty even houses and a fairly early degree rising, so nothing. I think the one thing that changed is my Midheaven ruler actually, unfortunately it pops into the sixth but it obviously still works. I’ve dealt with a lot of students so I made the transition to whole sign houses myself personally, in my own practice first and then I changed my teaching program to teach in whole sign houses. Then to go back to some of my senior students, we did have to work through a few things because for some people as this particular listener is asking, they’re some very significant changes.
CB: Do any of the house systems really chang anything significant in your chart, Kelly?
KS: Only the Midheaven ruling planet Jupiter. So it’s at zero Leo, but in Placidus that would be at the end of the fifth house and in of course whole sign, it’s in the sixth. Thankfully though, it has the amelioration of being in a trine aspect to the Midheaven degree, but that’s it, that’s the only thing that changes.
CB: Okay, so it wasn’t like a huge shift for you in terms of your personal chart but maybe in terms of clients and stuff?
KS: Yeah, for some clients and for students as well. That’s been really interesting. It’s also helped me better understand. They always say, “If you want to learn something, teach it.” Working with students and when they first encounter their chart, I’d say to them, do the topics of X house seem more relevant around this planet? Maybe it’s their Midheaven ruling the planet or maybe it’s either in the eighth or the ninth, and based on the kind of work they can do or they’re doing, we can very clearly see which one is actually more accurate for them. Obviously, it’s always been the whole sign, so that’s why I’ve kept up with it.
CB: Okay. Yeah, so this has become a… No, it’s not become an issue, this has always been an issue in the astrological tradition for a thousand years because astrologers have been arguing about it for about a thousand years and in modern times. I don’t know if you’d say that that’s heightened, but certainly I think with the advent, because one of the points that James Holden made in his book, I think, A History of Horoscopic Astrology, was that he tried to argue or he just said sort of blatantly based on his reading of different books, different astrology books, that the reason why the house system Placidus became so popular in the 20th century is because it was the only house system that there were tables available for much of the, I think, early or mid 20th century. So he said that you need for certain house systems, you need books of tables in order to be able to calculate them correctly. So he said the availability of those tables is one of the reasons why Placidus became popularized and became sort of the standard or the default house system for many astrologers in the 20th century. I think certainly even before that time, this was an issue, but certainly with the advent of computerized chart calculation software and programs and the ability of astrologers to calculate different house systems on the fly with online programs like Astrodienst to where you have 10 or 15 different forms of house division to choose from, even though it defaults to Placidus, you can change it to Porphyry or equal or whole, what have you, that this becomes, I don’t want to say more of a pressing issue, but it’s a much clearer issue that you have a number of different house systems to choose from in the past 20 or 30 years. Nobody really seems to have great arguments for why you should use one house system or another because a lot of the origins of the different forms of house division have to do with different sort of mathematical models for schematizing how you should measure, what the houses should be measured relative to or how you should trisect or divide into three the different quadrants between the angles and different things like that. So that a lot of the arguments in modern times, but even over the past thousand years, have been largely mathematical arguments that are very abstract and don’t really get to the heart of what is the conceptual reason why we have this house system or what is the conceptual reason why we have this house system or what would make a person conceptually use this house system or another form of house division. There hasn’t been, I don’t feel like, a lot of that type of discussion and that’s one of the things that makes the house division issue so uestionable and so nebulous is there’s a lack of sort of like concrete, conceptual arguments for different house systems. One of the things that I found really interesting, especially last year when the whole house division debate started is, I’ve been noticing that part of the way that astrologers are dealing with this is by sort of importing certain political philosophies over almost into the astrological techniques, where a lot of astrologers tend to have more sort of liberal, sort of political philosophies where there’s this sense of like wanting to promote openness and diversity and just the point of view that everything is good and that there’s different approaches and that everybody can sort of like live and let live and there can be multiple different sort of approaches to life that are fine and that can kind of co-exist at the same time. In some ways, it’s like that philosophy has been imported into and applied recently to this debate about house division, where sometimes because people don’t have necessarily really like conceptual arguments for using one form of house division over another, it just sort of becomes this thing of, there’s just different ways that people do it and it would be best to just to live and let live and that it’s all good and it’s all valid, everybody has different subjective experiences of life and therefore will gravitate towards one house system or another or something like that. There’s a certain level where I’m sympathetic to that in the sense of, I think it’s kind of lame when astrologers get too militant about promoting some specific variant of astrology that they find to be particularly effective. There’s something that’s kind of like counterproductive or kind of off-putting to me about sometimes arguments like that. So that in that sense, I have a certain level of sympathy for that approach to dealing with the house division issue. I think most of the time it’s appropriate, but at the same time, this is like a technical issue that has practical ramifications. There’s a certain level where if the entire debate is just sort of dismissed in that way as, you know, live and let live and everything works and it’s all the same, I feel like that’s kind of a cop-out and it’s kind of avoiding the issue and kind of sidestepping the issue rather than actually dealing with it head on by trying to figure out either if there are different systems that are more effective or if there’s different ways that multiple systems can be true or accurate, but just in different ways or just when applied to different things or to different measurements like maybe different house systems have specific uses perhaps is one theory that some people have. So, one of my things has just been wanting to understand what the conceptual motivation is underlying what we’re doing in astrology. And that’s true of house division, but as I sort of demonstrated or talked about a little bit earlier, that’s also true in other areas like when you come to that debate about whether the lots should be reversed or not. I have a specific sort of philosophical or conceptual rationale that I found that I think was part of the original rationale in the texts that motivated why they flipped the calculations for spirit and fortune. I’d like to ideally have similar conceptual rationales for why I use whatever form of house division I use as well, and that is actually a large part of what I was attempting to do last year when I gave the original talk on whole sign houses. Despite the fact that I ended up marketing it in a certain way that was very over the top, I thought it was supposed to be obvious that I was doing that kind of tongue in cheek. Although that’s really funny that Leisa actually you warned me [Leisa laughs] that people are not going to get that that’s supposed to be tongue in cheek at the time, right?
LS: Yeah, I was like, maybe you don’t want to say it that over the top, not everyone will realize you’re joking. [laughs]
CB: Right, and I was like, but if I say literally the best house division [Leisa laughs] ever, people will obviously understand that I am being slightly facetious here and that that’s sort of supposed to get your attention and then I’m supposed to draw you in and actually present some of my arguments. Then at the end of the lecture, say my ultimate conclusion that ended up getting overlooked by several people was that it doesn’t matter what form… Two conclusions, one was that it doesn’t matter what form of house division you use, as long as you have a good reason for doing it and as long as you have some good conceptual or philosophical motivations for why you’re using that specific form of house division rather than some other form of house division or practical reasons or what have you, then I’m okay with that. What I was trying to do is sort of lead by example by showing this is a set of reasons why I use whole sign houses and why I think it’s compelling in addition to whatever practical reasons that I have in terms of my experiences as an astrologer and feeling like that’s an effective approach. So that was part of it. The other part of it, of course, was that I also said that I do think that part of the path forward is not everybody giving up every alternative form of house division and everybody switching to whole sign houses, which I feel is a little bit kind of what’s happening lately. In fact that the path forward and the area that I’d be focusing on researching is how to sort of reconcile some of the different forms of house division and how to perhaps integrate quadrant houses in a sense into whole sign houses, so that you’re using them both in a way that seems consistent and seems sort of conceptually compelling not in just a sense of that you’re doing everything or you you’re using all of the same systems at the same time just for the sake of it, but as a way to actually solve the issue by recognizing that there are legitimate pieces to both approaches and figuring out what the legitimate pieces are, and then finding a way to use the best of both worlds. So, that was kind of my conclusion. I didn’t really expect that. I should have probably anticipated that there were going to be proponents of quadrant houses that were going to freak out over that argument and then sort of launch tirades on me for promoting whole sign houses because there’s basically some people that really react in a super negative way to that concept when their entire career and sort of life’s work is based around doing one approach and then there’s this new approach that comes in and says that it should be done at different way. Obviously, you’re going to have some people that react negatively to that, and I guess I sort of underestimated how that discussion would go and that’s had some repercussions even recently where it’s been interesting to me how the debate has gone on where some people seem to be picking up that argument and sort of taking in a new direction where it’s becoming much more sort of like combative, like quadrant houses against whole sign houses, than I think I ever anticipated or that I ever wanted it to go in terms of my lecture or the way that I actually conceptualized things despite otherwise sort of promoting the lecture as if it was going to be this polemical sort of argument. To sort of wrap this up, I’ve made most of my points, which is just that I think there should be a good conceptual reason for using whatever you use. I don’t think it’s a good argument to say that because William Lilly used this house system, that’s the house system that I’m going to use. I don’t think that’s compelling intellectual or conceptual argument any more than somebody saying, Vettius Valens used this system and therefore that’s the approach that I’m going to use. I don’t think those are compelling arguments. So, it’s hard for different astrologers, especially if you’re new to astrology, to research all of the issues related to house division and to really get into this in a deep way so that you’ve researched like 20 different forms of house division and then decided that you want to settle on this one. I realized that that’s not something that you can really do, especially if you’re a newer astrologer, but I guess I would just recommend understanding that broadly speaking, there’s basically like three different forms to house division. There’s the whole sign approach, there’s equal houses and then there’s the quadrant approach. The difference between these three, well, there’s many differences, but a lot of it really boils down to the difference between how to treat the Midheaven. Like in whole sign houses, the Midheaven is the 10th sign relative to the rising sign. In equal houses, the Midheaven is exactly the 90 degree point upwards from the Ascendant. And in quadrant houses, the Midheaven is the intersection between the Meridian and the ecliptic, which is sort of a separate astronomical concept. One of the things that I’ve been moving towards is just the realization that there’s a place for all three of those measurements in some sense, it’s just a matter of figuring out which ones you want to integrate and what each of them mean. From my perspective, after having started out with Placidus and quadrant houses and used that for the first four or five years of my study and being very dismissive of and rejecting whole sign houses initially, for I think the first year after I heard about it, before eventually coming around after seeing the way that it was so well integrated into the rest of the system, like I was saying earlier through the zodiac being sort of like the backdrop or the backbone of the entire system and that applying to the aspect doctrine as well as houses, as well as the lots or Arabic parts and profections and zodiac releasing and all these other different parts of the system where the Zodiac was sort of underlying everything and sort of holding it up in some sense, to me, eventually it wasn’t just the practical demonstration of that working when I actually started trying it in chart work and seeing it working in transits or in planetary placements or intellectual charts or what have you, it was also just conceptually that there was something compelling to me about that as an overall system or an overall approach to astrology. I’m not sure that it would be as compelling outside of that overall approach, but that’s why I think in each instance when you’re talking about different forms of house division, that you have to understand not just what the approach is, but also what type of astrology it arose from and how it would have been practiced by people that developed it originally at that time. Then if you study it in that context and come to an understanding of it, then you can maybe sort of develop a more informed decision about the merits of it. So I could keep going, [Leisa laughs] but one of you should cut me off.
LS: I actually have a bunch of points, so I could go. [laughs] Okay, so I have a little bit of overlap with what Chris said. He’s a little bit more conceptually oriented, whereas I’m often very practically oriented in terms of what I see working hands-on. So, I had a couple points that were more on the practical side and then a couple of points on the more big picture side. So one of the practical points is, sometimes it’s easier to resolve questions of what seems to be working in a chart when you’re looking at sort of concrete events or external specific circumstances. I know that’s not everything of what people are interested in seeing in charts, but it’s often phrased in terms of personality traits. And with personality, it’s much harder to say something is definitively false, I think because you’re juggling so many different factors. So unless something is like so way off, like you’re really shy and there’s something in your chart that says, “No, you’re like super like a bouyant and outgoing,” then, okay. Overall, I think it’s harder to falsify personality traits. So, one of my practical suggestions would be to look at sort of more concrete circumstances, as well as external events. One of the ways you can do that as my second point is, people often talk about these different house systems in terms of planets in the houses changing. I hear that a lot. I don’t hear a lot of people focusing on the house rulers as much. I’m sure some people do, but usually I hear this discussion in terms of whether it moves my Mercury from the eighth to the ninth or things like that. I would suggest us a good way to kind of test some of this, focusing more on the rulers of the houses and using timing to watch it. So, for instance, watching when house rulers get exact transits and see what happens and what particular themes come up, which house themes come up or watching like annual porfections activating certain placements. So that’s one of my sort of just like practical suggestion. The other is it really helps to use all the rules together. So, not just saying, what does Mercury in the ninth mean?Mercury is maybe not the best one, say maybe what does Mars in the ninth mean? And using that with the rules of sect, using it with the rules of like malefic and benefic and then which areas of life that’s in and ruling and seeing are those areas of life particularly difficult to me if I, for instance, have a day chart and I’m looking at Mars or are those areas of life particularly beneficial for me if I have Venus there and it’s a night chart? So using it with those other rules, I think it’s really useful unless the same planet rules both houses such as Capricorn and Aquarius being ruled by Saturn, for instance. So those are my practical suggestions and that kind of plays into one of the things that Chris said and that all of those things were developed with whole sign houses and so they do work really well together. So, I’m suggesting that on the one hand as a way to test your house system, but it also could be that like he was saying that some tools work better or some tools work better with a particular house system or with a particular what are you looking to do with that house system. So that’s on the practical side. On the bigger picture side, I really think the larger problem and I hope this isn’t like completely obvious, but I think the larger problem often seems to me, how do we acknowledge that there’s multiple angles on the truth that can show valid things without on the other hand completely defaulting to anything goes? That’s on the one hand, I think it does bear repeating, even if it’s obvious to some people, because I think oftentimes people act. Some people act like that can’t be true, that two things can’t be true. So people end up in sort of like spurious arguments where it’s coming from the angle of, if my system works and I know that I can see it working, then your system must not. I think that’s not useful and there’s just like a lot of air wasted on those arguments when it’s like a false assumption to begin with. So I think it is possible to say that something works really well without having to simultaneously assert that everything else must be false therefore, but it’s tricky because also like Chris was saying earlier, you don’t really want to get into the complete loose anything goes or like it’s all good or yeah, that sort of thing, because it is a technical thing. We are working with a technical system and so there should be some things that seem more correct than others. That kind of goes back to what I was saying with the personality versus external events, some things being more easily falsifiable. So, but I think that that’s a good bigger picture thing to keep in mind to not get into inessential arguments by just sort of like being black and white about it. But also to still keep your critical function and not assume that because multiple things can work that everything works. I think that it’s a good thing to acknowledge that that’s actually a somewhat challenging thing for human beings in any realm and to not get down on yourself if you can’t figure it out because I think that realm of existence as hard acknowledging multiple truths but still having a critical faculty, I guess. Then the final thing I would say is, even though it is frustrating, I certainly think it’s frustrating, I would like to have one answer. I don’t think it necessarily has to be fully resolved as long as you do test whatever you’re working with well, and see that it seems to be working well and consistently and it’s possible that different house systems do show different things or different facets of your life. One of the examples for me is, I’ve noticed, for example, watching outer planet transits over time, every time like a quicker planet comes around and sets the longer transit off, it seems to be having manifestations in the whole sign house and in the quadrant house simultaneously for me on two entirely different topics. So that’s something that’s sort of like an ongoing thing that I’m watching. So I think that’s potentially sort of like a good thread of an example that multiple things can work, but then it’s still a matter of sort of developing what you’re doing really well and maybe you don’t have to do everything. I think that’s more of the practical piece again because there’s only so much time, so I don’t prepare every client’s chart in a whole sign system and in a Placidus system. There’s just not enough time to look at everything, but to maybe be to research on the side, but also be simultaneously content with developing your own system really well that you do see working. So I guess those are the points that question made me think of.
KS: Yeah, really interesting points, Leisa. The one that I really wanted to hone in on, which is one that you explained beautifully and I’ll just throw in a little second here just to really emphasize it for the listeners, is that idea of using all the rules together. So many times people will say, well, this whole science system or this system, it can’t be true because then this planet is in this house and that means that area of my life should be good or bad. What you’re saying there is that there’s a lot more to an area of life being “good” or “bad”. I mean, I think it might be better to say functional or not functional. There’s a lot more to that functionality of the different areas of life according to the rules of the houses than just the house placement of the ruling planet.
One area that has really helped confirm if you like for me that worked, example, I liked the point you said Leisa about personality traits are a little bit more forgeable or permeable, but if you look at a particular, there are different topics in life that are more clear-cut. One of those that I work with a lot is fertility and conception in children, which is a fifth house topic. So one can either be functionally fertile or not. There’s not a lot of gray area there. And so working with the ruler of the whole time fifth house, for instance, can help clarify that and that topic is one that there’s less gray area around it. You either can conceive easily or you can’t. So there may be some areas of the chart that could be a little bit more black and white that may be better for beginners to sort of be testing out. I do think it’s not just the house of the ruling planet of the fifth house, you’d also need to check it out for some strength indicators or speed indicators or use all the rules together. That was a really beautiful point, Leisa.
CB: Definitely, and that’s one of the hardest things I think for beginner astrologers or a lot of modern astrologers that are dealing with this topic. I feel like it often boils down to only it shifts a planet from one house to another and what the interpretation of that planet is in terms of being in, like, let’s say like the ninth house versus the 10th house or being in the second house versus the third house or something like that. One of the ones that people do often overlook that that was mentioned earlier is just the rulers and the rulers of the houses. I’ve noticed one of the things that people are resistant to in terms of switching from quadrant to whole sign is certain chart placements that they’ve come to identify in their life. Then it turns out that sometimes the same delineation or the same interpretation is already present in their chart from another perspective using whole sign houses just by looking at the rulers of the houses and how they’re placed. Sometimes you can have things sort of echoes of the same placement that show up in different ways in different systems. So you have to be kind of careful when you’re evaluating charts on that basis, because sometimes if you think that one system changes your chart to be in a way that’s different and perhaps worse, because it looks like you lose something, you should make sure that that’s not something that’s being sort of repeated somewhere else in a different way using the other system. That’s kind of a really ambiguous point that I’m not sure will make any sense.
LS: [laughs] No, I think that made a lot of sense. Yeah, and especially if you don’t know all the rules yet, you might not even see how it’s showing up in a different way for you if you use the different house system. You might just see the surface of it’s in that house and instead of the other house and not all the sort of back alleys and things of how it could still be manifesting that same theme in a different way.
CB: Yeah. So I feel like house division’s become a much more prominent thing. There’s been some major developments in it in the past month that I don’t want to go into right now, but Austin actually pointed out to me privately that when the whole house division thing sort of happened last year in November on the podcast, that Saturn was exactly squaring Neptune at the time when I was releasing some of those episodes and then the Saturn-Neptune square again occurred this month in June when some other developments started happening with that. I thought that was kind of interesting and appropriate and maybe insightful on some level that there may be something about house division that almost is like a Saturn-Neptune type flavor. Because you have this real difference between these two different drives of like on the one hand wanting to like establish a specific external truth-based approach like system, like figuring out what is externally valid in terms of an approach versus this is sort of like a Saturn thing versus like Neptune as sometimes being the fact that sometimes things are more nuanced or more flexible or more ambiguous than we would like some times and what happens when those two realms collide of like, you know, the things that are objective externally true versus the things that are subjective and nebulous and uncertain. And what happens when there’s tensions between those two realms and house division is one of those areas in astrology that’s just symbolically is very much like that in some ways, because there’s this element to it where there might be objective ways in which some systems work better or are more effective or more useful for certain things than others. Then there might be this other way in which multiple systems could work in different ways or could have overlapping uses in some sense or where there could be ways that different systems are valid in some sense that don’t necessarily have to conflict or be like mutually exclusive. So we may not be solving this issue immediately right now because there’s something about like the nature of that. If Saturn-Neptune contacts or the center night Neptune cycle is sort of fully actually tied into this issue in that way, it may not be something that’s fully reconcilable, but I would hope as we continue going through that square at different points that perhaps we’ll start to get a slightly better grasp on how to resolve those two different areas of life sort of coming into conflict at this time. All right. So did we give that an adequate treatment? I don’t know if we’d left things in a better shape than when we left them or if we just made them worse. What do you guys think?
LS: No, I think those were some good tips and thoughts to work with.
KS: Yeah, and the other piece too, is there isn’t an absolute answer here. That’s sort of what comes up again and again, is in different circumstances or with a different philosophy, you could apply a different technique and still have a useful result. There’s no absolute result, but the point, I guess, really is this useful in some way.
CB: Sure. Yeah, and I’m sure this will be something that we return to in the future and future episodes, since obviously there’s a lot to say about it and there’s a lot of new research and things that still need to be explored and sort of discussed more broadly. At some point, I mean, this is a chapter that I’m working on in the book about what was the original system of house division or what were the original systems of house division? How were they used? What are the origins of this whole debate and how can that help us to inform and sort of reconcile that debate today? So that might be something that I return back too if I get the courage to later this summer at some point. All right, how are we doing for time in terms of how many questions we have left to go through?
KS: We may have to pick a couple because we seem to be giving some really detailed responses. So I don’t know if there are any that really stood out to you guys that you would prefer to look at.
CB: How much time do we have left to go through?
KS: I think we have about 25 minutes.
CB: Okay. I feel like I really have to address the next one. I know it’s going to be a longer one, but I can try and do it.
KS: Well, maybe that’s the next one and if it takes that time, that’s what needs to be addressed, and we can hold the other questions for a future episode.
CB: Okay, sure.
LS: If we have any more time left after that one, I love the one after that about the bad houses.
KS: Yes. Yeah. Okay. So, we’ve got our plan for the next little bit.
CB: Yeah. We’ll try and get through the next two questions. All right, so the next question came from a listener and patron, Erica Jones. She had a long sort of email, and I want to read the whole thing just for the sake of making sure all for her points are in there because of the way that she sort of framed the question and I want to make sure I convey that correctly. Okay, so she said, “On episode 64, the significations of the seven traditional planets, you said something to the effect that the Tarnasians (presumably meaning practitioners of archetypal, astrology, and cosmology as taught by Richard Tarnas) are guilty of conflating mythology with astrological archetypes or perhaps overly relying on mythologies to derive planetary symbolism. At least that’s what I understood you to say. If I did understand that correctly, I’m curious what you mean by that. I studied with Tarnas for three years at the California Institute of Integral Studies and the master’s program which he founded there, and he never taught us that we should restrict our thinking to the planet Jupiter to Zeus or the planet Venus to Aphrodite or the planet Pluto to Kale. He never really deviated from what he set forth in Cosmos and Psyche in which following along discourse on the nature of the archetype and giving three means by which it may be understood. Homeric is a primordial deity or mythic figure, Platonic Pythagorean as a cosmic and metaphysical principle and then Jungian as a psychological principle Tarnas states. And then she quotes Tarnas from Cosmos and Psyche, “For all the planets, both of those known to the ancients and those discovered in the modern era, the body of evidence will be examining points to the existence of trans-cultural archetypal principles that inform and encompass the observed synchronistic patterns of meaning.” That was a tongue twister. So the specific mythic deities of the more local cultural mythologies such as the Greco-Roman appear to represent particular inflections of these trans-cultural archetypes. The Greco-Roman figures and narratives are resonant with significance for the Western cultural imagination, but ultimately seem to be best understood as culturally-specific embodiments of more universal archetypal principles. Page 89 emphasis added. This is a pretty clear statement. So, this is Erica again, she says, “This is a pretty clear statement that we shouldn’t think strictly in terms of local myth when engaging the planetary archetype, but rather understand the perception of any special resonance in terms of our own cultural history, indeed beware of bias and to make the effort to discern and articulate more universal qualities of the archetype. In that part of episode 64, you also said the conflation of myth with planetary archetype is a bit of a hobby horse for you. So I’d like to hear your thoughts on that perhaps within the context of addressing the error of the Tarnasians.” So, all right. So here’s the deal with that. So I said that was a bit of a hobby horse for me because about 11 years ago when I first started studying Hellenistic and medieval astrology at Kepler College, I was actually surprised to find out that they didn’t really seem to resort to myth as an interpretive tool as much as I would expect given how common that has become in modern astrology. So actually, I wrote like a little, I don’t know, probably wasn’t a term paper was probably a little homework assignment on that topic at the time. I posted that on my blog a few years later on The Horoscopic Astrology Blog under the title on the use of mythology and astrology. So you can kind of see the argument that I make there. So the point was is that it turns out that that approach has really only become commonplace in the past 40 years or so in the west, of using mythology as an interpretive tool or as a core interpretive tool or device in astrological delineations and in consultations and in order to understand the meaning of planetary significators or other celestial bodies for that matter. So I will say it was probably unnecessary for me to single out the Tarnas school in particular, since it’s not something that’s restricted or necessarily unique to them because that approach has become popular among many modern astrologers who are influenced by Jung of which Liz Greene is a really popular and good example, and perhaps even more prominent example than students of Tarnas. Then more recently others like Demetra George and others who work with the asteroids and other minor planetary bodies or other celestial bodies. So I mentioned the students of Tarnas in particular just because I’d recently seen a book and it seemed like part of the premise of archetypal astrology is that the archetypes of the planets would bleed through into reality in many different ways including mythology. So, at the core of this school, there is sort of rationalization of why the use of myth is and should be a core interpretive device in astrology. So that came up or that comment actually came up in that particular show because I had noticed not too long before that that Keiron Le Grice had recently published an entire book on Aries, and it seemed like he was using the mythology associated with the god Aries as one of his primary access points for understanding the astrological meaning of the planet. And one of his longer chapters in that book actually takes that approach, where and I have a quote from the beginning of the book, he says, because he’s outlining his principles for how he’s going to understand the meaning of this newly discovered planetary body which was just discovered a few years ago and then he wrote a book on it already in 2012. So he says, “An examination of the other planets suggests that there’s a connection between the archetypal meaning of a planet and the mythological associations with the planet’s name which might be disclosed through an exploration of myths featuring the corresponding god or goddess through intuitive sources such as revelation, dreams or active imagination, as well as through works of art and literature by considering the myths featuring the goddess Aries. Therefore we will consider how these myths might aluminate the meaning of the Aries archetype in astrology.” So this is primarily what I was referring to in terms of specifically referring to students of Tarnas and how students have Tarnas were sometimes taking this new archetypal approach to astrology, which mythology is a relatively significant or it can be a major part. And they were using that in order to inform things like, what are the significations of newly discovered planetary bodies? One of my objections to this approach just in general, just in the astrological community in general, students of Tarnas aside, is just that it seems like it’s led astrologers to develop preconceptions about what the celestial body means before any actual empirical work has been done. There’s something about relying on the synchronistic coincidence of the name and the related stories over or instead of the empirical observations that makes me a little bit uneasy. I’m not really clear that this was necessarily done with Uranus and the stories about people like John Varley seemed to emphasize the empirical observations in terms of developing an understanding of that planet more before any sort of mythological associations were brought into play. I think that’s actually perhaps why even Tarnas himself would later question whether the mythology of another story, the story of Prometheus would actually fit better for the meaning of Uranus. If anything, that a little bit, I think I already mentioned this in the previous show that kind of is one of the things that even points to me how sometimes the mythology isn’t something that you can fully rely on when even somebody advocating that approach says, in this instance, there’s this other myth that actually seems to fit the empirical, our empirical understanding of Uranus more than the name that actually got associated with it by some astronomers a few centuries ago. So I guess my point here is just cautioning that it’s assumed that this approach has always been done, but in fact, it’s relatively recent. The fact that astrologers are using that to inform their fundamental initial meaning of new planetary bodies makes me a little bit uneasy because I think it might overshadow the empirical work, which potentially could be more important in developing our understanding of the planetary meanings of these new bodies. That’s what I was referring to in that instance specifically because I had just recently gotten a copy of that new book on Aries where it seemed like that was one of the primary approaches being taken. So that’s my response to that. You can see that paper that I mentioned earlier on my blog which shows an older sort of my view of this initially about 10 years ago which is titled on the use of mythology and astrology. All right, do you guys have any comments about that?
KS: No, I think that was all you and beautifully said.
CB: The question was directed at–
KS: At a comment you’d made in a earlier episode, so, yeah.
CB: Okay. So we can move on. So the next question, does anybody want to read this one?
KS: I’ll read it because I know Leisa is really keen to answer it. I’ll just read the first point, which I think is what we’ll probably focus on. It’s from Margarita Stefburgh who’s asking about the bad houses and she says, “On a personal note, I have attached my chart with the plethora of 12th house planets. I do understand you work with whole signs, so you’d move Mercury into the first, although do bear with me as I’ve seen a 12th house Mercury effect on my relationships. Anyway, that’s beside my question. My question is; is there such a thing as a non-scary 12th, 6th or 8th house when there’s a concentration of benefics there? If so, what can we expect more specifically related to the 12th house as I would imagine making use of other resources as well as good health would come from good eighth and sixth.” She’s really wondering about the 12th house and what good could possibly come from that.
LS: Yeah. So I think it’s a really good question and it’s also a really good distinction to make with the benefics there. Because a lot of times sort of the 12th house is sort of more casually referred to, especially in modern astrology as the sort of the spiritual house or that sort of thing, meditation and stuff like that. Actually, especially if you’re using a whole sign house system and you don’t have good placements in the 12th house, it can be really difficult topics. A lot of the most difficult topics in life are given to the 12th, also the sixth and the eighth. So, prisons and hospitals and chronic illness and things like that. So but I’ve seen great examples of benefics both in and ruling the 12th house, as well as like other exalted planets like exalted Saturn in the 12th and things like that being really nice manifestations of the 12th house. So for instance I’ve seen doctors with that placement because they’re working with people who are ill. I’ve seen people who volunteer in prisons with good placements in the 12th and they’re trying to bring some benefit to the people in the 12th house circumstance. Then I’ve also seen people with the benefics surrounding the 12th house with that’s when the spiritual or contemplative practices really do come in that I’ve seen, is people with strong contemplative practices often do have nice 12th houses. So I think a common major difference with the benefics there is that people are working with others going through those difficulties that that house describes rather than they themselves going through those difficulties personally. Sometimes with benefics there, it’s like sometimes even this sounds bad, but it’s not really, it’s sometimes getting some benefit from other people’s difficulties such as one’s job being working with the sick and therefore getting paid for that rather than being sick themselves. So that’s a lot of what I’ve seen. Then the sixth and, let’s see, oh, actually a couple of good examples, I had the doctor one. Another one was the ruler of the seventh was like a benefic in the 12th and it was someone who has a very spiritual partner who is nonetheless also very reclusive and has some ill health issues. So it can also be related to the particular house rulers that are there. And then there’s the sixth and the eighth that were mentioned, I’ve also seen health practitioners of various sorts with benefics related to the sixth, as well as work with animals. Then the eighth, the person asking the question mentioned people working with other people’s resources and that can be like accountants or bankers, people who work with other people’s money because it’s a shared resource thing. I’ve also seen an additional manifestation of people who work with others around significantly traumatic topics. I’ve seen people work with the topics of sexual assault with the ruler of their 10th house of career in the eighth and things like that. So I think to me, the major difference is helping other people in those circumstances.
KS: Yeah. I would agree, Leisa. I’ve seen a few of those examples myself. The surgeons, I’m thinking of one client who has a Venus-Mercury really tight conjunction in the 12th, who’s a very well respected surgeon. Then the eighth house with the other people’s money, it comes up a lot with accountants or I had one student who worked in… She had the rule of the 10th in the eighth and she worked in a government agency around taxation. So yeah, I guess the point of the benefics there is that you can somehow be helpful around the topics rather than be subjected to the consequences of the topics, I guess.
CB: Yeah, definitely. I had a client who had the ruler of the 10th in the eighth and they were a mortician. That was one of my favorite examples, and then a doctor who had the ruler of the first in the 10th and the sixth, very well-placed. I mean, that’s the other thing though. So there’s a few additional nuances to this, but one of them is that I definitely feel like there’s a tendency for those placements to work out in constructive or positive ways where the person is like helping other people or is somehow making good use of what would otherwise be a bad situation when there’s mitigations involved. So an example of a mitigation for example, is like if a planet’s in the sixth house, if it’s closely configured within three degrees to the degree of the Midheaven, that can be a major mitigating factor. That’s something that’s commonly mentioned in the Hellenistic tradition and it’s one of those techniques that I actually found to work out really well in chart examples, where even if a planet is in a difficult house, if it’s configured to the degree of the Midheaven, it will still have a tendency to work out in a very constructive way or for there to be positive manifestations of the placement even though it can sometimes be in a more challenging context like illness or death or loss or what have you. So that’s one thing, there’s other types of mitigation conditions as well like if benefics are configured to the placement or if the planets are aspecting planets that are otherwise themselves angular like planets that are in the 10th house and things like that.
KS: It almost sounds like it comes back to a point that we made on an earlier question where you have to apply all the rules together.
LS: Yeah, definitely.
KS: It’s not as simple as saying, “Oh, such and such is in the sixth or the eighth or the 12th houses, therefore bad.”
CB: Yeah, and I mean, that’s one of the issues because people don’t usually learn, you don’t learn the entire system in astrology. Modern astrology is not typically presented in a way that it’s that systematic. So you really have to find some form of like traditional astrology that is presented in a more systematic way that treats you all of those conditions and usually in traditional astrology, one of the things that puts people off is it’s always phrased in terms of extremes. So they’ll give you the delineations are usually like the extreme version of like worst case and best case scenarios for this placement. But what they don’t tell you is, then there’s like 10 or 20 mitigating conditions that will move this more towards the middle or more towards the opposite end of the spectrum when there’s things like, they’ll say planet in the sixth house indicates like illness and injury and blah, blah, blah, but then later you’ll read, however, if it’s configured within three degrees to the Midheaven, then it’ll work out favorably. And then you find a chart of somebody like that that’s a doctor or what have you. I don’t really know how to get around that except because I don’t…
KS: I think it’s where classes come in. I think it’s where having a teacher that says… Because a live person can explain some of the nuances on the fly which you may not get if you’re just reading bits and pieces of a text or picking up pieces of a whole rather than the whole complete system.
CB: Yeah, and this is where I’m going to go ahead and pitch my course, which–
KS: [laughs ] Oh, that wasn’t kind of me to set this up for you, Chris. Pay me today. [laughs]
CB: And your course, and then also Leisa’s lecture because I know all three of us in different ways do that and talk about the placements and show you the system, but then also show you the mitigating conditions. So in my course in Hellenistic astrology, it’s in 10 parts and I go through all of that in terms of introducing all the basic concepts and like what’s a good house versus what’s a bad house. And then going into the conditions of things like bonification and maltreatment which can show either extreme instances of positive and negative or can show, what are the mitigating conditions that can throw off a bad placement and make it much more positive or constructive than it should be otherwise or what are the negative conditions that can throw off what should be a good placement and make it manifest in a way that’s the opposite. So you can find out more information about that at chrisbrennanastrologer.com/courses. And then of course, I know Kelly that you do a lot of courses on natal astrology like that as well that get into things like that, right?
KS: Yeah. I teach an 18-month practical astrology program which is designed as a foundation course to bring students from basic beginners, I don’t know how to write a chart, to learning a few handy forecasting techniques and relationship compatibility. And of course it does have a, I wouldn’t call it Hellenistic in any scope, but it definitely has a traditional flavor. Yeah, and I teach those online all the time.
CB: And then Leisa, in your lecture on Saturn returns, that was one of the things that you do really well in that lecture is that you show how sect is this important consideration to take into account when you’re looking at somebody’s Saturn return and just their natal Saturn placement in general and how they’re likely to experience that, and you show some of the worst case scenarios. But then you go into different mitigating conditions that show when it’s still going to be much more positive than it would be otherwise, even though it’s otherwise a difficult placement, right?
LS: Yeah, exactly. So that lecture is specifically focused on the Saturn return, but it does go through a bunch of those different conditions that you could also apply more generally just in terms of different mitigating factors.
CB: Sure. So I think that’s really important. And one last thing with this question that I thought was interesting is that she mentioned, because this relates back to the house division issue where she says, “I do understand that you work with whole sign houses, so you would move Mercury to my first house. Although do bear with me as I’ve seen the 12th house Mercury affect all of my relationships.” And this is actually really…
KS: It’s the perfect example.
CB: Right, of what we were talking about earlier because when we all pull up her chart, it’s like she’s been reading delineations of Mercury in the 12th house and that’s why she thinks that, and Mercury is the ruler of her seventh house, so that’s why she thinks that she’s had whatever unspecified problems in relationships she’s had in the past. But when we pull up this chart, one of the first things that we see is that Mercury is closely square to Mars and Saturn, right?
CB: So that actually…
KS: It doesn’t matter what house Mercury is in. [laughs] It’s got some tricks.
CB: I don’t know whether I’d go that far. I would just say that there’s oftentimes other reasons why a planet is acting in a certain way and sometimes it’s easy for people to get used to assuming that it’s because of one thing, and then if they look at it in another system and that’s taken away, they’re like, “Well, that doesn’t make sense because Mercury’s then not my 12th house and therefore there’s no reason for me to have had such and such experience surrounding it.” But then you realize there’s other factors sometimes that can reiterate or can show you the same thing or similar things that you may not realize or may not be paying attention to.
LS: Yeah, exactly. And in addition to the Mercury square Mars Sarturn, I noticed that Venus as a general significator for relationships was in the 12th house in the whole sign system. So it’s like an additional factor sort of pointing to 12th house things, even though Mercury as the ruler of the seventh has now moved to the first.
KS: And this really speaks to that point I think of if you want to use a more modern system, then use a more modern house approach. And if you’re interested in learning the Hellenistic ideals or some of the traditional approaches, it may be better to then switch into one of the older house systems. That idea of using not parts of multiple systems, but maybe trying to get something cohesive because yeah, that way you’ll see all the right pieces in the right way.
LS: Yeah, definitely.
CB: Sure. Although I know, because I can already hear objections where some traditional astrologers would object saying but the Lily people used Regio and Hellenistic are using whole signs, so what tradition?
KS: Yeah, totally, but there’s different philosophies there, I guess. Like some of the ideas that Lily really employs perhaps versus the whole sign. I don’t know, you would probably be able to speak to that better.
CB: Sure. Anyway, and there’s other positive things going on there in terms of the seventh house. So not to get too down on that example, but I know it was just something that jumped out to me that I’m meant to mention just because that comment it sort of tied in with some of the things we were talking about earlier. All right. I think we’ve run out of time, I think we’re out of time. Right, Kelly?
KS: I do have to dash off. I mean, you guys can carry on if you want to.
LS: [laughs] I think we’ve talked enough for today.
KS: You might have exhausted your podcasting allocation for today.
CB: Yeah, 2 hours and 17 minutes I think is a pretty good run for one day. Well, this has been great. I meant to say, I forgot to say at the end of theTarnas question, that I’m in the process of setting up an interview with Richard Tarnas at the end of July. So hopefully one month from now, that’ll go through and I’ll be interviewing him just to connect to the previous question. So perhaps I’ll be able to ask him about some of that or discuss that with him directly during the next show. All right, so this has been great. I think this went really well. So thank you both for joining me, you guys were awesome.
KS: Yeah. Thank you.
LS: Any time. Thank you.
CB: All right, and people can find out more information once again on your websites, which is kellysastrology.com and leisaschaim.com. Do you guys have any parting things before we go or anything that you guys meant to mention that you didn’t get a chance to?
KS: I think I covered everything on the questions we brought up.
LS: Yeah, me too.
CB: Okay. Awesome. Well, we’ll have to do this again sometime. Thank you to everybody that sent in your questions. Sorry to those that we didn’t get a chance to get to. If we do another one of these shows at some point, then maybe we’ll try to take some of those previous questions and bring them forward to the next episode. And yeah, if anybody has new questions or other questions, please send them in and I’ll start filing them away for if we do another one of these Q and A sessions. I guess we’ll see you see you next time. Thanks Leisa and Kelly for joining me.
LS: Thank you.
CB: All right, and thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.