The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 52, titled:
By Chris Brennan
Episode originally released on November 21, 2015.
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at email@example.com.
Transcribed by Gülşen Altay
Transcription released May 15, 2016
Copyright © 2016 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
Hi. My name is Chris Brennan and you are listening to the astrology podcast. This episode was recorded on Wednesday November 18, 2015 just after 5:00 pm here in Denver, Colorado and this is the 52nd episode of the show. For more information about subscribing to the podcast please visit the astrologypodcast.com/subscribe.
This episode is actually a recording of a lecture I gave a few days ago titled 12 Reasons Why Whole Sign Houses is the Best System of House Division. I am recording this introduction to the talk today on November 21, 2015 just in order to provide some background information on the talk before releasing it for listeners of the podcast.
The lecture was presented as a webinar for Adam Elenbaas’s Nightlight Astrology group which you can find out more information about at nightlightastrology.com. When Adam originally invited me to give the talk on whole sign houses for his group last month I suddenly realized that I had never given a lecture that was just on that topic before so I actually decided to try in come up with sort of a provocative but playful title in order to draw people into the lecture and the title that I actually originally gave in the promotional material for this talk was Whole Sign Houses Literally the Best System of House Division Ever so by the time I actually gave the talk I toned it down a little bit to the slightly less humorous yet still descriptive Why Whole Sign Houses is the Best System of House Division and now at this point I am just calling this talk 12 Reasons Why Whole Sign Houses is the Best House System.
So the goal this talk is just to present a series of 12 arguments for what makes whole sign houses great as a system of house division and why somebody might want to choose it as their preferred method for calculating the 12 houses. If you have listened to my podcast before, if you have listened to it for a while then you know that I generally aim to more nuanced discussions that talked about the pros and cons of the different approaches although here I felt like I mainly just wanted to do a good job of pitching whole sign houses to my audience since it is in fact the form of house division that I prefer personally and I wanted to convey some of the reasons for why that is so as a result of that it deliberately adopted more of a polemical tone for the purpose of craft in the arguments that I presented in this talk. However I did in the lecture on a somewhat more conciliatory tone with some brief thoughts about the possibility of reconciling whole sign houses with other systems in the future so I do wanna say from the outset that I do think that in future discussions of house division that they mainly focus on a little bit more on reconciling whole sign houses with quadrant houses. Although I do believe personally that whole sign houses should form the primary bases of any synthesis because of the foundational role that whole sign houses plays in many other basic concepts underlying the meaning of the houses as I will discuss in this lecture.
All right, that is it with my extended preface to this lecture so without further adieu here is my lecture on whole sign houses.
All right. Great. Well, let’s get started.
First, thank you Adam for having me first off. I have never presented a talk just on whole sign houses before. I have usually this is something that I cream into my basic introduction to Hellenistic astrology where I am trying to present sort of an introduction to a seven hundred year tradition of astrology and I make this side note about this really interesting facet of it which is this system of house division that was the original system of houses that has just been recovered in the past 20 years so I am excited to actually have the opportunity to go into with more detail tonight and to present sort of an argument for why you should take whole sign houses seriously and why you should seriously consider using it in your professional or personal practice so I did modify the title a little bit. I was playing with the title, what was the original title was like Whole Sign Houses Literally the Best System of House Division Ever which I think still conveys what I am gonna attempt to present here tonight but I decided to reformulate it just slightly for the purpose of what I am doing here right now to the present title which is Why Whole Sign Houses is the Best System of House Division which I think is still you know adequately and similarly kind of bombastic as the previous title but I think better formulates it as a question of you know why would some astrologers since there is a number of astrologers that are quickly adopting whole sign houses today, why would they think that it is the best system of house division?
All right. Let’s get into the first slight.
Before we jumped into the topic I wanted to give you a little bit of background information so historical I wanted to give you sort of a historical backdrop. Our story with whole sign houses begins in 1982 when the astrologer James Holden published a paper in the American Federation of Astrologers Journal of Research titled Ancient House Division and Holden was a really interesting and really kind of special character in the astrological community that not many people know about. He actually wrote one of the best books on the history of astrology that was titled A History of Horoscopic Astrology in 1996 but back in 1982 he wrote this research paper shortly after around the time that he became the Research Director of the American Federation of Astrologers and what he did is he gave us survey of sort of house division in the first thousand years of the practice of western astrology and one of the things that he pointed out in this paper that nobody had ever pointed out before is that the original system of house division in western astrology was whole sign houses. He actually called it or he personally referred to it as the Sign House System.
And then later in the 1990s about a decade later basically Robert Schmidt and Robert Hand started translating some ancient astrological texts from Greek and Latin as part of this translation Project in the mid 1990s called Project Hindsight and what happen is that they were able to also confirm Holden’s original discovery where Holden who himself read Greek and Latin was able to go back and read the texts on his own and he noticed that whole sign houses was the system of house division that all of the ancient astrologers were using so then Schmidt and Hand come along 10 years later and they actually do translations into English of all of the texts from the ancient tradition and published them and they are also able to confirm Holden’s discovery and it became abundantly clear to everyone at that point in time that this really was the original system of house division so what happened at that point is that Robert Hand who had been practicing astrology for something like 40 years at that point, he discovered it when he was 17 years old and he would always sort of experiment it with different systems of house division but he kind of changed and went back and forth ever really found one that spoke to him or that really seemed as effective as he would like and at one point he even for a period I think around the 1980s, he even experimented with just getting rid of houses all together so then in the 1990s in the middle of Project Hindsight they make this discovery about whole sign houses and Hand starts testing it out and he starts using it and he really likes it. He finds that it really works and that it is more effective than any system that he had tried to up to that point in his 40 year, 50 year career as an astrologer so Robert Hand then starts popularizing the technique, he starts to popularizing whole sign houses starting in mid 1990s, first by writing some…, giving lectures and writing an article for the Mountain Astrologer Magazine and then eventually writing a small book a little monograph on whole sign houses.
It wasn’t really until the late 2000s though, I would say 2008-2009-2010 and especially the past few years that whole sign houses really started to catch on so it is really only in the past 5 years that suddenly it seems like a lot of people are switching the whole sign houses or starting to incorporate it into their practice in different ways, so whole sign houses is quickly becoming one of the most widely used systems of house division in western astrology and I actually saw two pools recently one of them was on the traditional astrology forum on Skyscript which indicated that the second most used system of house division was whole sign houses and then I saw similar pool on facebook that also said and it was more of a general sort of consensus of sort of western astrologers so not just traditional astrologers and again in that same pool it seemed to indicate that among practising astrologers and astrology enthusiasts that whole sign houses was the second most used system of house division underneath or next to Placidus which has always been the dominant system of house division in the 20th century so there is a big shift that is taking place, a lot of people are switching to whole sign houses and part of the purpose of this lecture is to show you and attempt to explain to you why some people are switching to whole sign houses and what it is about that approach that they see as appealing or useful or worth considering, you know as opposed to any of the other dozens of house division that are floating around out there of which there is at least 12 major systems of house division and there is really as many as 20 or 30 different forms of house division that you could choose from.
I am gonna frame this lecture in the form of more of a polemical argument so more of a sort of quasar contentious, you know this is the best system of house division sort of fully gung ho arguments that I could come up with and I think normally I might present if this was like a discussion with somebody or discussion amongst different astrologers that had different approaches, I might advocate more of a nuanced sort of you know approach that is not necessarily as assertive or as aggressive but for the purpose of this because I feel like I am trying to sell you on this system initially, let’s say I am gonna present the best arguments that I can come up with and I am gonna frame them in such a way to you know really give you an idea of why some people think that this system of house division is really great and potentially that you could make the argument of why it is the best system of house division and therefore the system that you should adopt. Let’s get into it.
And before we get into the actual arguments we have to sort of cover some ground bases first by first obviously explaining what whole sign houses are and how you calculate them. It is actually really simple in order to calculate whole sign houses all you have to do is identify what sign of the zodiac the Ascendant is located in and whatever sign that is that entire sign becomes the first house so from 0 to 30 degrees of that sign becomes the first house, no matter how early or how late the Ascendant is in that sign so if the Ascendant is at 0 degrees of your rising sign or if the Ascendant is at 29 degrees of the rising sign, it doesn’t matter that sign becomes the first house then the next sign in zodiacal order becomes the second house, the sign after that becomes the third house and the sign after that becomes the fourth house and so on and so forth.
Let me give you a diagram really quickly just in order to demonstrate exactly what I am talking about. Let’s imagine a chart where the Ascendant falls somewhere in the sign of Cancer so it doesn’t matter if it is you know the first degree of Cancer or the Middle of Cancer or the end of Cancer, let’s just say that the degree of the Ascendant falls somewhere in Cancer so what that means from the perspective of whole sign houses is that the entire sign of Cancer becomes the first house from the beginning of the sign all the way to the end of the sign then the next sign in zodiacal order because zodiacal order always goes counterclockwise is Leo and that sign becomes the second house from 0 to 30 degrees of Leo, then Virgo becomes the third house, Libra becomes the fourth house, Scorpio the fifth house, Sagittarius the sixth and so on and so forth so there end up being twelve signs and twelve houses and each of the houses begins at the beginning of the sign and the house ends at the end of the sign so the cusps then essentially become…, the cusps of the houses become the cusps of the signs.
Part of the rationale for this is that the Ascendant in ancient astrology in Greek originally in the first century was referred to as the horoscopos which means Hour-Marker and the reason for this was actually very…, the reason they choose that specific name of Hour-Marker, they had a specific reason for doing so and it was because the functional purpose of the degree of the Ascendant or the Hour-Marker in the ancient astrology is that it would mark or designate the rising sign so whatever sign the Ascendant falls in, it marks or designates that entire sign as the rising sign and thus the first whole sign house so in the whole sign house system the Ascendant is no longer the starting point or the cusp of the first house but instead the Ascendant just access sort of like a floating sensitive point which can fall anywhere in the rising sign and anywhere in the first whole sign house. It still retains some of the power that it has as a sensitive point just like other sensitive points in the chart such as the Vertex or let’s say the Part of Fortune or something like that but it no longer acts as the starting point for the first house but instead it is just used to designate the rising sign so the other signs are or the other houses are assigned in zodiacal order and they are end up being in 12 houses in 12 signs and this is actually the reason why there were 12 houses that is the reason why we have 12 houses to begin with, it is because the houses were originally supposed to coincide with each of the 12 signs, otherwise we might actually end up having some other number of houses like 8 houses or 4 houses or even 36 houses as one potential option depending on how things went but the specific way that things worked out the houses were supposed to concide with the signs.
At this point sometimes people ask what about you know the degree of the MC and IC and what happens with those is that the degree of the MC and IC also become floating sensitive points but they are actually able to float around and land anywhere in the top or the bottom half of the chart and what happens is that instead of acting as the starting point for the 10th or the 4th house as they do in other forms of house division especially in forms of quadrant house divisions such as Placidus or Porphyry or what have you, they do not act as the starting points for the 10th or 4th houses in the whole sign approach but instead the MC and the IC just import 10th house and 4th house significations into whatever whole sign house that they fall in so what that ends up doing effectively or practically speaking is that it doubles up the significations of that house so to give you an example if for example the MC, the degree of the MC falls in the 9th whole sign house then it would import 10th house significations into the 9th house whole sign house.
And so this is actually birth chart of…, the whole sign house birth chart of Robert Hand who is an advocate of whole sign houses and he has Cancer rising so we see that the Ascendant is located in Cancer so that means Cancer becomes the first house then Leo becomes the second house, Virgo is the third, Libra is the fourth, Scorpio is the fifth and so on and so forth, all the way we get into Pisces which is the 9th whole sign house and the 9th house of course one of the primary things that is associated with is education, teaching but also things like astrology, another sort of mystical or metaphysical arts and what we see happening here is that Rob Hand’s MC, the actual degree of the MC falls in the 9th whole sign house and so it brings, it imports 10th house topics pertaining to career and social standing and reputation into the 9th house of astrology and education and teaching so what you end up with then as a famous astrologer and somebody whose career is very much dedicated towards 9th house pursuits and who sort of builds up a reputation within the context of the 9th house so you get a doubling up of the significations in the 9th house with both 9th and 10th house significations in Pisces and then in Aries where we have the 10th whole sign house we have a sort of separate house that has pure just 10th house significations which is a second thing that we have looked for in terms of career.
The other example is when the MC would sometimes fall on the other side of the 10th whole sign house so this is an example of somebody where they have Scorpio rising and the degree of the MC falls in the 11th whole sign house so in this instance we have the MC importing career significations or importing 10th house significations into the 11th house of friends and groups and alliances so what you get is somebody then that becomes involved in some career sense or in terms of her reputation with groups and alliances and organizations and she is in fact involved in and is one of the leaders of one of the major astrological organizations.
This is sort of a digression because it is one of the first questions that people have in terms of what you do with the MC and IC. I don’t wanna focus on it too much but I did wanna at least give you some idea of how that is dealt with from a whole sign approach that we are not completely ……… the MC and the IC because we actually still incorporate those and use those as floating sensitive points. We are just not using them as the cusp of the 10th and the 4th and what we are ……….. is the intermediate house cusps that some people draw in between the MC and the IC and other angles which is how you come up with other forms of house divisions such as Porphyry or Placidus or what have you is that you tried to divide the space between the degree of the MC and the degree of the Ascendant or between degrees of other angles so that is how you calculate whole sign houses, it is basically just you identify the rising sign, that sign becomes the first house then rest of the houses are assigned in zodiacal order so I wanted to have before we get just one last digression before we get into our specific arguments about why whole sign houses is the best.
I wanted to give you a little bit more of a historical backdrop so that you understand what I mean when I say that whole sign houses is the original system of house division or what people actually specifically intangibly mean by that because it is a really important point and it would become one of our first points. One of the things that most people don’t know especially if you haven’t studied the history of western astrology is that western astrology was essentially created in the first century BC based on a fusion of the earlier Mesopotamian and Egyptian astrological traditions. Well, it is true to say that certain aspects of astrology go back three thousand or four thousand perhaps years about let’s say three thousand and half years actually is some of the earliest recorded evidence for ancient Mesopotamian astrology into lesser extent Egyptian astrology, the types of astrology that they were developing and practicing and using at that point were somewhat basic and somewhat rudimentary and what ends up happening is that it is not until the first century BC that you see somebody in the ancient world fusing those two different traditions together in order to create a new type of astrology and so this fusion of ancient traditions to create a new type of astrology resulted in what is usually referred to as Hellenistic astrology which was practiced from approximately the first century BC until about the seventh century CE and at this time in the first century BC the concept of houses was first introduced .
So one of the things that you have to understand is that the concept of houses is essentially for all intents and purposes is a technical concept, it is like a technique, it is an astrological technique just like any other technique, just like secondary progressions or synastry or solar arc or something like that, the concept of houses is a technique that was first introduced at a specific point in time probably somewhere around the year 75 BC. It didn’t seem to exist prior to this, we have no evidence for it and in fact we have a lot of evidence of astrologers practising astrology without any concept of houses prior to this but we do observe or can be observed, we can kind of see how this system seems to have evolved or developed out of the previous traditions and how the concept of houses and the technique of houses probably emerged as a result of a synthesis of the concept of the zodiac from Mesopotamia with the concept of the decans from Egypt.
Let me show you what I mean by that. Most people know that astrology…, western astrology that the oldest origins of western astrology go back to and originated in ancient Mesopotamia about 3000 or 4000 years ago. At this point they started collecting omens where they would make an observation about something that happened in the sky and then they would record it on a clay tablet and record what happened on earth at that time or they would do the opposite they would say, you know such and such event happened on earth and this event was happening in the sky at the time so these were pretty basic observations that they built up over the course of several generations of many generations and over the course of several hundred years, several centuries. Eventually one of the concepts that the Mesopotamians developed was the concept of the zodiac and eventually by the fifth century BC they actually standardized the zodiac to incorporate or to include 12 signs of 30 degrees each so the zodiac became standardized so that were just 12 signs and each of the signs consisted of exactly 30 degrees so the important point here basically is that the Mesopotamians invented the zodiac for all intents and purposes.
Over in another area a little ways away we have Egypt and Egypt was developing its own form of astrology that was a bit different from what they were developing in Mesopotamia. In Egypt they were focused on this set of 36 sort of fixed stars or fixed star clusters that later became known as the decans so the decans were 36 discreet divisions that were associated with specific stars or specific asterism, specific clusters of fixed stars but the way that they were using them was not necessarily at the same way that the Mesopotamians were using the zodiac or the fixed stars that they were focused on but instead the Egyptians were using the decans to time religious rituals especially at night by focusing on certain decans that were either rising over the eastern horizon at a certain point so that they would focus on a specific star that was rising over the horizon or another fixed star or another decan that was culminating over ahead at a specific point in time so this deals with the diurnal rotation which is the periodic or the daily rising and culminating and eventually setting of each of…, not just the Sun but also each of the fixed stars and each of the planets.
Essentially what was happening is that the Egyptians were focused on the diurnal rotation which is essentially the thing that we today associate with the houses whereas the Mesopotamians were focused on to the zodiac so then a few centuries later we get an important development to takes place where Alexander the Great takes an army of Mesopotamians and Greeks and storms out of Southern Europe and goes on to concur basically most of the Middle East, Egypt, Persia all the way over to the western most portions of India and then suddenly what happens as a result of that is that you get these two areas that were previously developing these very long traditions of astrology in their own regions and Mesopotamia and Egypt suddenly under the control of similar rulers or the same rulers, they are basically subsequently under the control of Greek speaking rulers so this united these lands into what is usually referred to as the Hellenistic Empire starting in the fourth century BC so as a result of this and as a result of basically they are then being a much closer connection between Egypt and Mesopotamia in subsequent centuries we see a few centuries later astrologers starting to merge the two traditions that had been developed in those two areas so basically somebody started to merge the zodiac together with the decans and what happens when you merge those two systems is you are essentially merging to different frames of reference so you are merging the zodiac which deals with planets moving across the ecliptic and you are merging it together with the system of diurnal rotation which is planets rising and culminating and setting each day.
So one of the interesting sort of side effects of merging those two systems is that the astrologers started paying attention to specific decans that were rising at certain points in time and they started especially paying attention to certain signs of the zodiac that were rising at certain points in time and whatever sign of the zodiac was rising at a certain point in time, they turned that into the starting point for a system of houses and that is essentially where you get whole sign houses coming from is from that that merging of these two different reference systems of the ecliptic which is connected to the zodiac and the diurnal rotation which is connected to the houses so then you get whole sign houses and somebody at some point in time somewhere around the first century BC came up with this idea, they introduced the concept of starting the counting of the houses from the rising sign and then having the other eleven houses, having all twelve houses associated with one of the signs relative to that and they also introduced some of the first significations or the first meanings of each of the houses so you know because this was a new concept or a new idea there were initially only a few significations that were associated with each of the houses just maybe like a handful each and then later on some other astrologers added more significations but initially it was kind of a small cluster of just like basic ideas about what they thought each of the houses meant. All right. That is the historical backdrop to give you some context of where we are coming from and what we are talking about when we say that this is the oldest system.
Now let’s get into some of the actual specific arguments about why for us today…, why this is relevant to us today in the early 21st century and why whole sign houses 2000 years later may still be the best form of house division for astrologers to adopt.
Argument one: Argument one is interesting because it is actually an appeal to antiquity which is technically, a logical policy but I think it is actually still a reasonable argument to make and I wanted to make it here because it actually becomes relevant and tied into other arguments that you could make about whole sign houses which were actually not logical policies so this is our starting point. As I have just demonstrate it with that little historical overview whole sign houses was the original form of house division so in fact it actually goes beyond that, it wasn’t just the original form of house division, it was in fact the dominant form of house division for approximately the first thousand years of the practice of western astrology and when I say western astrology what I mean by that is essentially the system of astrology that all of us used today that incorporates the fourfold system of planets, signs of the zodiac, houses and aspects so that fourfold system did not exist as a system prior to the first century BC and then when it was developed or invented that was also the point where whole sign houses was introduced so when whole sign houses was introduced, that was actually widely successful, the original system of western astrology was largely practiced in essentially the same form for about a thousand years, basically spending from essentially the entirety of what we usually consider to be the Roman Empire all the way through until about the seventh century CE when the Roman Empire is formerly sort of fall and aparted that point and it is not quite what it used to be so all of the what we refer to as the Hellenistic astrologers or the ancient astrologers that practiced astrology during the Hellenistic and Roman period used whole sign houses as their primary form of house division and this actually includes some of the most famous and influential astrologers not just from antiquity but also in the history of astrology just all together hands down so this includes Claudius Ptolemy, Ptolemy did arguably use whole sign houses as his primary form of house division and I have a long article on that where I just go through and point out every instance in which Ptolemy used whole sign houses in his four book work on astrology. If you wanna read that it is on my website at hellenisticastrology.com under the blog section. Other famous astrologers that used whole sign houses were astrologers like Vettius Valens, Dorotheus of Sidon, Rhetorius of Egypt and Marcus Manilius as well as basically any other author you could mention during that time period.
In addition to that it wasn’t just all of the Hellenistic astrologers but it was also many of the early Medieval astrologers also used whole sign houses so this includes famous astrologers such as Masha’allah, Sahl Ibn Bishr and Theophilus of Edessa so these three basically are the core authors of the early Medieval tradition and they were all primarily using whole sign houses so what you end up with then is one of the arguments that you can make is that for the first thousand years of the practice of western astrology, all of the major astrologers were using the same form of house division so that is you know not a sort of death blow in terms of an argument but it is certainly an argument that one could make that has to be taken into consideration, you know were a thousand years of astrologers wrong? or were they onto something?, did they have some particular insight into astrology when they had adopted this specific form of house division. It is not that other systems of house division didn’t exist or that they weren’t capable of calculating them because in fact they did have the ability to calculate other forms of house division and in some instances they used other forms of house division within the context of specific techniques and that is actually how quadrant houses and systems like Porphyry houses or Alcabitius houses or other forms of house division were first introduced is that they were supposed to be used only within a context of certain techniques in order to accomplish of very specific things so they did use those other forms of house division for certain things but for the most part their primary form of house division for just interpreting a natal chart and what the placements meant was primarily whole sign houses as part of a deliberate choice or a deliberate decision so that is argument one.
Argument two: Argument two is connected with argument one and it is basically this. Many of the core significations for the twelve houses are actually derived from whole sign houses so part of this argument involves the point that because whole sign houses was the original system of house division because it was the system of house division that was used when the concept or the technique of the twelve houses was first invented, many of the core significations of the houses were actually first developed within a whole sign framework and not only that but even though many of the significations the same significations are still attributed to each of the houses today from it is basically the same in many instances as they were 2000 years ago. In fact many of the significations of the houses only make sense conceptually within the context of whole sign houses so basically if you tried to figure out the logic of why let’s say the eight house signifies death both in ancient and modern astrology or why the sixth house can signify illness or sickness, you can actually only figure out the original rationale for why that even make sense or how you could come up with that in the first place if you look at it from the perspective of whole sign houses and if you look at it from the perspective of quadrant houses, you wouldn’t necessarily come to the same conclusion or you wouldn’t have originally developed the same significations for those specific houses and this is actually due to the connection between the houses, the signs and the aspect doctrine in ancient astrology where all three of these areas of the system essentially were integrated together and were sort of tied together as an actual system or as a functioning whole.
Let me show what I mean by that. The significations of some of the houses are actually partially based on the aspect or lack of aspect that certain whole sign houses have with the rising sign so in ancient astrology the first house was the primary house that was associated with the native and their physical vitality so even though in modern astrology we are used to conceptualizing the entire chart as being like different parts of the native or different parts of the native psyche, in ancient astrology the first house was really the primary house associated with the native themself and their physical well-being whereas the other parts of the chart and the other houses primarily related to either other parts of the native’s life or other people in the native’s life but the first house is the house of self so part of the rationale for the houses and part of the rationale for how they came up with the significations of the houses is that they said that any of the whole sign houses that aspect the rising sign by its sign based aspect those houses would be positive houses that are supportive of the native whereas any of the houses that do not make one of the designated major aspects to the rising sign so that would be a sextile, square, trine or opposition or conjunction, any of the five major Ptolemaic aspects any of the houses that does not make one of the Ptolemaic aspects as a sign based aspect to the rising sign then that whole sign house would have some negative significations associated with it because any whole sign house that aspects the rising sign is supportive as seen to be supportive of the life and the physical vitality of the native since that is what the first house signifies whereas any house that does not aspect the rising sign is seen to not be supportive of the life and the physical vitality of the native at least not in any direct way so this is actually the reason why the sixth house and the eight house and the 12th house were originally developed.
And even still today maintain some negative significations such as the sixth house being associated with illness, the eight house being associated with death and the 12th house being associated with loss. The only house that sort of lost many of its negative significations even though it still had some in ancient astrology was the second house which is actually interestingly the house associated with financial matters which you know in modern times and in our society we don’t necessarily recognize as negative or problematic but in certain context certainly could be seen as such depending on how it affects your life or doesn’t affect your life so one of the things that I am pointing out here is that this rationale for explaining why the sixth house and the eighth house and 12th house have some negative significations associated with it, it only works conceptually if you are using whole sign houses.
Because those are the only, that is the only system where those specific signs or those specific houses are not gonna have any major aspect with the Ascendant whereas if you are using quadrant houses because quadrant houses can shift and becomes so distorted, it would actually be really easy for the sixth house or the eight house or potentially even the 12th house if it is big enough to aspect the rising sign through some sort of major Ptolemaic aspect so one of the problems here is some of the basic significations of the houses that astrologers still used today are based on rationales that only makes sense within the context of whole sign houses and that should be kind of a problem or that should be kind of troubling to anybody that uses quadrant houses today and who doesn’t otherwise have a good explanation of why the houses originally came to mean what they mean today.
Now you may have some alternate rationales for why certain houses mean what they mean today or you may have some alternate access point such as referring to let’s say the natural houses or certain zodiacal signs that you associated with certain houses but one of the things that is interesting is that when the significations of houses was first developed they didn’t actually make many of those connections so they didn’t associate the eighth house with Scorpio or they didn’t associate the sixth house with Virgo, this was really their primary access point, the aspect between the rising sign and the whole sign house that was actually their primary and it is not entirely but almost their soul access point for developing the meaning of the houses so the issue that you run into is that you kind of have to find a way to justify within that context, otherwise you run into a bit of a problem.
And just to explain this a little bit more clearly part of the reason for this is that the aspect doctrine was not purely based on geometrical angles between planets in ancient astrology but in actuality it was primarily based on the relationship that certain signs had with each other based on an affinity between having similar qualities so the aspect doctrine was basically predicated on the idea that planets that are in signs that share similar qualities have a relationship with each other and that is why they are able to aspect each other whereas planets that are in signs that do not share any similar qualities do not share any relationship with each other and therefore when you don’t share relationship with somebody that opens up the possibility of sort of antagonism between the two of you or becoming enemies or becoming counter productive or against what the other wants to accomplish so this is why the sixth whole sign house starts developing some negative significations or why the eighth whole sign house or the 12th whole sign house starts developing some negative significations, it is because the signs that occupy those whole sign houses share no affinity with the qualities associated with the rising sign so this actually goes further so that is one element of how the significations of the houses were actually derived from whole sign framework.
There is other ways that you can only derive certain significations of the houses from whole sign framework as well so for example in Hellenistic astrology the first house was associated with both the body of the native and their physical vitality as well as the spirit or the intellect of the native so things that we would associated with like their personality or their character so that is still true to some extent in modern astrology where will associate both to some extent like the character or the mannerisms of the native in their appearance as well as their body and their physical vitality with the first house, one of the problems though is the reason that they originally assigned both of those significations to the first house is that the first house is one of the only houses where in whole sign houses because the Ascendant can fall anywhere in the first whole sign house, part of the house is gonna be above the horizon and part of the house is gonna be below the horizon so this is important because originally part of the conceptual structure of the houses is that the ancient astrologers believed that the top half of the chart that is above the horizon is connected to what they sort of implicitly refer to as the solar hemisphere which they associated with the soul and the mind and the spirit and the intellect of the native whereas the bottom half of the chart below the horizon which is all under the earth so the top half of the chart is basically the sky and the bottom half of the chart is all obscured because it is under the earth the bottom half of the chart they associated with the body and matter and the physical incarnation of the native and physical things associated with a person’s life so top half of the chart is basically like the spirit and the mind, bottom half of the chart is the body and the physical incarnation so that is what makes the first house special in Hellenistic astrology from the perspective of whole sign houses is that part of the first house is always gonna be above the horizon and part of the first house is gonna be below the horizon so that the first house becomes the meeting point essentially between the realm of the spirit and the realm of matter or the realm of the body and thus results in the physical incarnation of the native themself and thus the first house subsequently becomes associated with that meeting point which is the native’s body and the native’s mind so the problem with this is that it doesn’t work that way in quadrant houses because in quadrant houses in every single form of quadrant houses the first house is entirely below the horizon so the first house if you started right at the degree of the Ascendant as you do in Placidus or Porphyry or even Equal houses which is different in whole sign houses then the entirety of the first house falls below the horizon and the realm of the body and so you don’t get any of this other element of the spirit or the mind or the soul or the intellect which is also a very relevant component when you are talking about the first house so that is one of the additional arguments you could make about how certain significations that were both associated with the first house and other houses in ancient astrology as well as in modern astrology only make sense conceptually within the framework of whole sign houses so I hope everybody is still with me at this point. That was argument two.
I have actually got a few to get through here, this is actually still kind of early in this so I should probably increase my tempo a little bit.
This is argument three and again this is more of a historical argument now so I am gonna alternate between sometimes historical or conceptual arguments in another times practical ones, I will get some practical ones very soon for those view here waiting for that. Argument three is that the shift towards quadrant houses actually happened remarkably suddenly and it does not necessarily seem to be very well considered so what happened is that basically as I said earlier, some of the earliest Medieval astrologers such as Sahl Ibn Bishr and Masha’allah who were both living and writing texts around the year let’s say 800 CE they were still primarily using whole sign houses as their primary form of house division but then by the time of Abu Ma’shar who lived about 50 let’s say 75 years later, he basically was the next generation of astrologers after Sahl and Masha’allah, suddenly in his works and in the works of his contemporaries and people immediately after him, suddenly they are using quadrant houses all in sudden so what this means is that the shift to quadrant houses happened relatively suddenly within the course of potentially even a single generation.
And one of the issues with this aside from it happening very suddenly is we also don’t know why because there don’t seem to have been a lot of discussions about it at that point in time or at least in terms of the text that have survived they don’t seem to really discuss it very extensively that this shift to taking place. It is just basically like if you go back and read the text, you are reading one set of text from earlier in the century and they are using whole sign houses and then you are reading another set of text from later in the same century and suddenly everybody is using quadrant houses so after this point when this shift takes place it completely displays as the earlier tradition so that everybody forgets that whole sign houses even existed and in fact it wasn’t until 1982 when Holden published that paper that anybody even remembered that whole sign houses existed as a concept and was originally used in western astrology to begin with so that means that for all intents and purposes that whole sign houses was forgotten as a concept or as a technic for about a thousand years so that is a pretty big deal because that means there wasn’t some period that is taken place over the past few hundred years where different astrologers tried different you know used whole sign houses and compared that to quadrant houses or sort of weighed the pros and cons between the two but we literally forgot that this existed as a concept.
And after that point additionally interesting from a historical standpoint is that this is the point when suddenly in the ninth century and shortly after that there is this huge explosion of different forms of quadrant houses were suddenly there is more than 20 different forms of quadrant houses, they were suddenly introduced over the course of the next century or next few centuries and there is little agreement in the astrological tradition on the matter of house division from this point forward so something really major happened at this point in time where whole sign houses got displaced, quadrant houses becomes the next big thing but suddenly nobody agrees on anything anymore and astrologers have been arguing about this part of astrology ever since that time.
So you know one of the funny things is that this is one of the only areas of the astrological tradition where we have this much contention, you don’t have that much contention when it comes to the outer planets or to newly discovered planets, you know we discovered Uranus a few centuries ago and pretty quickly astrologers came to an agreement on what Uranus meant and there is not a lot of disagreement at this point in time over the significations of Uranus. It is pretty much the same with Neptune, it is pretty much the same with Pluto, even though Pluto is only discovered a few decades ago, everybody has largely an agreement about what Pluto means and that has been only a few decades but for some reason for a thousand years now astrologers have been arguing about house division and everybody has a different answer to it so something happened and it wasn’t necessarily a positive development.
So why did this happen? as one of the questions that comes up, why did this switch to quadrant houses take place around the ninth century? and frankly the answer is we don’t know because it is not very well documented, nobody has and nobody can come up with the firm answer at this point in time but there are many different possible theories so Robert Hand speculated at one point in his monograph on whole sign houses that what may have taken place is there may have been a misunderstanding or potentially a translation error at some point in the ninth century where some of the Medieval Arabic astrologers were receiving the earlier Greek astrological tradition and they were translating works from astrological authors from the Hellenistic tradition from Greek into Arabic and that they may have gotten false impression that the Greek astrologers were using quadrant houses all of the time rather than what they were actually doing which was just using quadrant houses within the context of certain technics, specifically quadrant houses were first introduced within the context of the length of life technique and that is really the only time that most of the Hellenistic astrologers ever talk about quadrant houses is within the context of this one technique where you are trying to figure out literally how long a person will live so one of the speculations early on and I am not sure if Hand still entertains this notion or still thinks that this is correct but it was certainly one it was a theory that he published almost 20 years ago at this point was the idea that perhaps, there was a misunderstanding and a misinterpretation of the earlier tradition and that everybody got on board with this interpretation and it caused this huge shift because they thought that they were actually sort of making a positive reinterpretation of the tradition and they were going back to what was in their time their ancients were actually doing but in fact they were actually going in a completely different direction then what had been happening up to that point so that is one possible theory we don’t know if it is true.
There is other possible theories as well in the early Medieval tradition in the ninth century they started to develop horary so the concept of horary as a branch of astrology was getting worked out much more at this point then it was in the earlier tradition and part of what came along with that is they started introducing new aspect doctrines and new ways for planets to be configured so the concept of translation of light for example was introduced at this time, also the concept of collection of light and other things related to horary astrology like that. There was also a move more towards using orbs of aspect and viewing aspects as being geometrical relationships between planets purely rather than viewing the aspectual relationships is taking place within the context of signs so this potentially this move towards more degree based aspects could have made it sort of tempting to look at these different forms of house division of whole sign houses versus quadrant houses and to make the assumption that you know for moving away from sign based aspects that we might wanna move away from sign based houses as well that could have been but without necessarily recognizing or realizing that some of the basic meanings of the houses were actually tied into that sign based model so they may not have understood what they were moving away from or what they were losing.
Other ideas I was talking with my friend Benjamin Dykes who is a translator of Medieval astrological texts earlier today and we are talking about some other ideas, one of the things that he said not as a very strong theory but one of the things that he noticed is that sometimes some of the different forms of house division would be introduced by different mathematicians who were almost kind of showing of their skills by creating new systems and that is part of the reason potentially why you get this proliferation of different forms of house division at this time because people were doing this sort of intellectual exercise in order to sort of introduce what they thought was a new and sort of elaborate sort of technique or approach conceptually so this leads to this other possibility which is that part of the shift may have been more of a social shift in some way or like a sociological shift, quadrant houses because they take more work to calculate and there is a lot more math involved, especially if you are doing some of the more complex ones they may have come off as more sophisticated or more complexed at the time which may have been more appealing so it may have seemed basically like it was like a new and more advanced piece of technology and thus sort of snowballed into sort of like a fad that everybody was getting involved with because it seemed to be more advanced so it is not a great analogy but joke that I make at this point is that quadrant houses may have been like the iPhone of the ninth century where it is like this new gadget or this new piece of technology that like everybody has to have but they may have lost something in the process or it may not necessarily have been an improvement so much as it was just like an elaboration or something that seemed more complicated and more effective than it actually was. All right, that is argument three.
Argument four: Argument four sort of ties together this whole historical section and the series of historical arguments which is that argument four is that whole sign houses solves a long standing dispute amongst astrologers which is that after the ninth century we get 20 plus different systems of quadrant house division introduced and from that point forward as I said earlier house division becomes one of the most hotly disputed topics in astrology for over a thousand years so literally a thousand years of disagreement even though in other areas of astrology like with the significations of the planets or even to some extent like the meaning of aspects or other things like that, astrologers really don’t have that much disagreement further this is also one of the weakest areas of astrology in terms of the rationales that astrologers give for why they use one system of house division versus another, they often have very poor conceptual or technical or even practical arguments for that standpoint like this is the system that I started with so that is why I use Placidus, that is a very common argument because Placidus is the most popular form of house division in the 20th century but one of the things that most people don’t know is the only reason that Placidus became the most popular form of house division in the 20th century is because that is the only system of house division that there were tables for in order to calculate it in the early 20th century. This is an argument actually that James Holden makes in his book A History of Horoscopic Astrology as he points out that Placidus became popular just because that was literally the only book of tables that you could find in order to calculate it so that is what everybody used and then it just snowballed into you know that being the most popular form of house division to this day.
In other instances astrologers have other kind of weak arguments like they would say ‘Well, this is the system of house division that Rudhyar used or that Alan Leo used’ or some traditional astrologers would say ‘This is the system that Lilly used so that is why I have adopted it’ which additionally is not a very good argument just in and of itself taken it face value.
Finally astrologers often sometimes would have really weak sort of personal arguments about their own chart and they would say you know ‘Well, X system of houses puts the Asteroid Beer on the cusp of my 11th house and you know my friends really like to drink so that really makes sense and that is why I use you know Porphyry houses’ or what have you. That is not you know in all fairness it is not a great argument I don’t think conceptually or practically speaking, certainly we should make some room for practical arguments but for practical arguments that pertain to a person’s chart but that shouldn’t be end of the matter, you should have a good philosophical and conceptual argument and technical argument for why you are adopting a specific form of house division besides just saying that you know it makes my chart look better to use Placidus over Porphyry because it puts like the Sun in the 10th house or something like that, there should be other things that go into your argument.
One of the arguments that I wanna make here, argument four is basically that maybe this is an area of disagreement, maybe we have had a thousand years of arguing about this topic because we took a wrong turn in the ninth century and maybe we have been arguing about it ever since because somebody made a mistake, maybe there are some sort of fundamental mistake about our conceptualization of what we were doing with the houses that occurred at that point in time and that is why astrologers haven’t had our act together on this specific area of astrology ever since. All right, that is argument four.
Argument five : Argument five which is that whole sign houses so we now get into the practical arguments, whole sign houses are arguably more readily testable than other forms of house division. One of the issues you run into if you wanna test one of the like 20 different forms of quadrant houses is that the cusps are not necessarily always hugely different in the different forms of quadrant house division, especially if you are testing all of them so we are talking about like 10, we are talking about at least 12 or maybe as many of upwards of like 20 different forms of quadrant houses and when you are talking about that many forms of quadrant houses there is gonna be a lot of overlap between the two and maybe they will just be you know a degree or two difference between one system’s house cusps versus another so with so many different systems of quadrant houses how can you actually test them against each other and know for sure that one system of house division is working better than another, this is where I think whole sign houses is really interesting and presents a really interesting alternative to anything else that is out there today because whole sign houses is so radically different in its approach to dividing the houses, it is so radically different that it actually makes it easier to test as sort of like an accident or by-product of using it because it is such a weird form of house division compared to the current prevailing norm of quadrant houses, it is actually pretty easy to look at it and see if it works so that is one aspect of thing.
The other aspect is that there is no question about where the cusps of the houses are in whole sign houses because the cusps of the whole sign houses are the cusps of the signs so there is no ambiguity where in some forms of house division you will see, you know some question about when the cusp of the house fully begins whether you should use a five degree rule or whether you have got two different forms of house division where the cusps are a few degrees off from each other, with whole sign houses you don’t have that all because there is a clear distinction between one zodiacal sign and another and the beginning of one sign of the zodiac in whole sign houses is also the beginning of a new house so whole sign houses are more readily testable arguably than almost any other form of house division out there.
Argument six: Transits through the houses are more clear using whole sign houses and this is a practical argument but I like it because it is something that is actually that you can actually demonstrate and try out and it is falsifiable so one of the interesting things about working with whole sign houses is that you realize that the ingress of a planet into a new sign of the zodiac is also an ingress into the new house so for example you know Saturn recently change signs and it spent two or three years in Scorpio and then it ingressed into Sagittarius so according to whole sign houses that means that Saturn actually changed houses for everybody moving into a different house of their chart as soon as it went from Scorpio into Sagittarius so that is a pretty big shift and not only that but that is true for every single one of the planet so it is not just outer planets but also all of the inner planets where everytime Mercury or the Moon or Venus changes signs it is also moving into a new house of the chart.
So one of the interesting things then you have to realize that make it really useful to use whole sign houses but one of the ways that you can test it is by realizing that the transit of a planet into a new sign, immediately begins the transit of that planet through a new house and then the end of that planet’s transit through a specific sign also marks the end of its transit through a specific house so what that means is that you can have really clear really discrete dates for when the transit of a planet starts moving through one house and then eventually finishes moving through one house so you know there is no rule about, there is no five degree rule which is always kind of like a mercy thing that people picked up from Ptolemy that was originally supposed to mean something very different than how it used to…, how it ended up getting up applied where it can be kind of this gray area where of a planets like anywhere within the vicinity of like five degrees of the cusp, you can kind of like BS and say maybe it is in this house or maybe it is in another house, you don’t know how that ambiguity whatsoever in whole sign houses because if a planet is in one sign then it is in a specific house, if it is in another sign then it is in another house so one of the great things about this it makes whole sign houses really easy to test because all you have to do then is asked the question did that specific area of my life as indicated by that house in the topics associated with that house become activated or become more prominent when that planet moved into that whole sign house and then conversely did that area of my life and the topics surrounding it become less prominent suddenly when that planet departed from that whole sign house.
Here is an example let’s say that somebody has Cancer rising so the Ascendant is somewhere in Cancer so Cancer becomes the first house and that means immediately that the sign Capricorn from 0 to 30 degrees of that sign becomes the seventh house and therefore that becomes the sector of their chart that pertains to relationships and partnership and if they are married their marriage partner so that means that, let’s say hypothetically that as soon as the planet Saturn ingresses into Capricorn that would begin a two or three year transit of Saturn through that person’s seventh whole sign house and thus they should start experiencing pretty shortly after that some topics related to that are of the nature of Saturn that are in connection with that specific sphere of the life which are relationships and partnership and then eventually when Saturn for the final time for the last time leaves Capricorn and moves from Capricorn into Aquarius that means it is departing from the seventh house and therefore some of let’s say if it is a more challenging transit let’s say some of the challenges and the difficulties that they might experience during that transit of Saturn through their seventh house would then fall into the background pretty quickly after that point once Saturn departs from that sign and that is actually what you see and that was the thing originally that solved me on whole sign houses is primarily by testing it with transits.
And having this realization that especially if you follow slower outer planet transits but also to some extent if you follow inner planet transits that transits really do begin as soon as the planet moves into a new sign and they really do end as soon as the planet leaves that sign and that is actually such an amazing and sort of mind blowing, it is so simple and so obvious but it is actually very elegant in a way and but even despite its simplicity that actually has some huge implications for how we do transits and how you apply the modern approach to transits to a person’s chart so I am not gonna go into all of those here today but just by starting to apply transits within whole sign house framework, you will see some pretty interesting stuff start to come up and all you have to do is look at the ephemeris because it is right there in the ephemeris which will tell you all of the sign ingress changes.
This also works for just transits to natal planets so one of the things that you can also take from the whole sign approach and from the Hellenistic approach is the idea that a transit to a natal planet begins as soon as the planet moves into the same sign or a sign that is configured to that natal planet that is aspecting that natal planet by a whole sign aspect and the aspect or the transit to that natal planet ends as soon as the planet departs from the sign that is configured.
Let’s say for example somebody had Saturn at 15 degrees of Libra so right in the middle of that sign then their Saturn return which is when Saturn returns back to the position that is in in the natal chart begins as soon as Saturn ingresses into Libra and it ends as soon as Saturn leaves Libra so it is true that when Saturn gets closed back to the exact degree of its natal position right in the middle of the sign at 15 degrees by transit that there would probably be the most intense part of the transit where some of the most important events will take place but one of the things that you will notice if you pay attention to this is that many of the circumstances and situations that sort of culminate or reach a climax at the exact Saturn return when it gets exact to the degree, those things actually will start to build up as soon as Saturn moves into the natal sign and then eventually all of those circumstances and scenarios and experiences even though they start to sort of decrease or become less intense after the exact Saturn return, they won’t be fully wrapped up and fully brought to completion until Saturn departs from that sign so that is another way that whole sign framework is sort of tied into this and provides you with an interesting additional perspective on transits that actually gives you new information that you can work with but also because the specific implications of it are so stark or so clear it actually makes it very easy to test.
One of the things that I would recommend that you do is cast your whole sign chart and follow some outer planet transits. Saturn in particular seems to be really easy and really useful because some of the events that it tends to coincide with tend to be so stark and so clear and so tangible that it is really good planet for using to test things out so cast your whole sign chart, figure out what your rising sign is and what the other whole sign houses are and then focus on looking at what happened when Saturn ingressed especially into the four angular houses of your chart and see if the events and circumstances surrounding the transit of planet Saturn through those houses, see if it didn’t start shortly after or not too long after Saturn first moved into that sign and then see if those circumstances and events didn’t start to fully get wrapped up, once Saturn departed from that sign and focus especially on transits through the first house which largely relate to things or one of the primary things that relate to is matters pertaining to your physical health and your body check transits through the fourth whole sign house which oftentimes would relate to your home, living situation and parents, check transits of Saturn through the seventh house for matters pertaining to relationships or matters pertaining to your partner and check the transits of Saturn to your 10th house for matters pertaining to your work and your career and your general life direction and I think you will find some pretty impressive results.
Starting to make it through we are getting most of the way but we have still way to go.
Argument number seven is that it is a minor argument but it is an important one that whole sign houses creates a clear and a better distinction between the first and the 12th houses then there is in quadrant houses so we have this issue in all forms of quadrant houses basically all forms of house division that are not whole sign houses where as soon as the Sun rises over the horizon each morning as soon as the Sun and the other planets rise over the degree of the Ascendant in quadrant houses they immediately move into the 12th house for some reason because you know since the Ascendant which is the horizon represents the cusp or the starting point of the first house in quadrant houses that means anything above that is immediately in the 12th house so this is a problem because of the way that the 12th house has always been described both traditionally as well as in modern texts where that are often associated with matters that are hidden and secrets and things like that but if you think about that actually makes very little conceptual sense for planet that has just risen over the horizon like the Sun for example has just risen over the .Ascendant and just emerging from underneath the earth for the first time that day to suddenly say that has something symbolically to do with secrets or with hidden matters, it literally does not make any sense so whole sign houses solves this issue because it is literally the only form house division in which planets that rise over the horizon do not immediately move into the 12th house and this is because a planet can be above or below the horizon and still in the first whole sign house as long as it is still in the rising sign.
Let me show you a diagram to give you an idea of what I mean by this so this is an example where let’s say the Sun is early in the rising sign and eventually at some point the Sun rises upwards so diurnal rotation at always moves the planets so that they go clockwise so the Sun rises up over the Ascendant but as long as it is still in the rising sign, it is actually still in the first house even though it is now moved above the degree of the Ascendant so whole sign houses is the only system of house division that does this where you can still have a planet in the first house but not…, you can still be in the first house but it can be above the degree of the Ascendant and I think that is really really important so one of the things that I should clarify here is there is a specific reason why the 12th house is associated with hidden matters and secrets and things like that there is actually a conceptual rationale that is very interesting that is still relevant that makes sense in the whole sign framework but it goes back to and it relates back to the thing that we were talking about previously about houses that are configured by a major aspect to the rising sign versus houses that don’t so part of the reason that the 12th house has those connotations of things that you can’t see or secret matters or things that are hidden is because the 12th house does not make a major Ptolemaic aspect to the first house, there is also other reasons that go along with that such as the fact that the 12th house is actually the sign of the zodiac that was rising over the Ascendant in the hour to prior to the moment of the native’s birth so it is literally the sign that was rising before you are born and therefore in the ancient traditions it is kind of connected with that pre birth state where you are sort of they referred to as in between worlds where the native is sort of in between life and death basically because they haven’t been born yet but instead they are kind of in that this in between stage but that really makes more sense within the context of the fact that the 12th is the sign that rose prior to birth and the fact that it is a sign that does not aspect to the first whole sign house or the rising sign rather than the idea that just planets that rise over the Ascendant immediately popped into the 12th house which in whole sign houses that is definetly not the case. All right, that is argument seven.
Argument eight : Argument eight is kind of a special one and it is one that others have pointed out that was one of the things that I have first noticed when I first came across whole sign houses and other people have commented on it as well which is that and it requires some additional background that you may or may not have I will try to give a little synopsis really quick but basically whole sign houses is the only system of house division that may provide a solution to a mystery that came up in the mid 20th century when some large scale scientific tests on astrology started to taking place so generally speaking a lot of this scientific tests on astrology haven’t gone that well. One of the few tests that actually did go relatively well was carried out by a French scientist and statistician named Michel Gauquelin and what he discovered or one of the things that he discovered that became very controversial was this thing called the plus zones and the Mars effect and basically what the Mars effect was is it showed that the argument was that eminent athletes statistically speaking tended to be born more often when Mars was either rising over the Ascendant or was culminating around the Midheaven so initially that sounds like it is validating astrology and it makes a lot of sense because on the one hand it is showing that there is some correlation between a person’s birth chart and then the career that they would later have since Mars is you know pretty commonly associated with athletes. The problem though that we ran into, astrologers ran into when these results came out is that they actually didn’t really make sense in the context of quadrant houses because they showed in the results that the effect actually peaked on the 12th house side of the Ascendant and that was problematic because traditionally the 12th house is supposed to be much less active and much less prominent than the first house.
Here is a diagram to show you what I mean so on the top left, well let’s start with the bottom left so on the bottom left I have a picture of Michel Gauquelin, he is sort of writing on a board and he is showing the plus zones or the peaks where the peaks…, he shows the cross in the middle and the circle which represents the Asc/Dsc axis and the MC/IC axis and then he shows these peak zones that occur right above that which is basically the number of people who are borned that had Mars in those sectors tended to be really high for eminent athletes and what he showed is that that was occurring especially the highest peak was when Mars was just above the Ascendant so the problem with that is that it fell if you are using quadrant houses and he recognized this immediately as well as every other modern astrologer who research Gauquelin’s work like recognized it immediately that even though it showed an astrological correlation it created a problem because it said that the 12th house was for some reason more powerful than the first house or that at least the just barely above the horizon side of the 12th house and the other side of the Ascendant was more powerful and tend to do coincide with more eminent athletes than the sector just below that in the first house under the earth so it didn’t really make a lot of sense in the context of quadrant houses but if you use whole sign houses which he did not because the concept, it wasn’t until a few years actually after his death that the concept of whole sign houses was fully sort of revived into the public consciousness, it is only in whole sign houses that those results actually make a little bit of sense because again planets can be above the degree of the Ascendant and still in the first whole sign house because of the way that whole sign houses are calculated and because it is the cusp of the rising sign, it is zero degrees of the rising sign which acts as the beginning of the house, not the degree of the Ascendant, the degree of the Ascendant just marks the rising sign so that is one of the more exciting implications of whole sign houses is that potentially it could answer one of these weird mysteries that came up during the course of the 20th century because he made these discoveries like decades ago and astrologers are always kind of, on the one hand kind of supported them and said ‘Yeah, that is great that he found an astrological correlation’ but then there was this issue where it was kind of disproving a long held assumption about astrology which is that the first house is more powerful than the 12th and it may be that what he found actually didn’t disprove that at all but we merely weren’t using the right form of house division in order to look at it correctly. All right, that is argument eight.
Let’s move on to argument nine: Argument nine is basically more of a bonus . It is sort of like a fringe benefit of using whole sign houses than it is like a conceptual or practical argument for why it is better but it can be spanned or it can be used in such a way that it actually shows why whole sign houses works better and this is why it is because when you are doing rectification which is to say when you are trying to figure out what time a person was born when you either don’t know or you don’t know for certain the exact moment of birth, using whole sign houses actually makes rectification easier in some instances and more straightforward and the reason for this is that when you are rectifying charts using whole sign houses, once you have determined the correct rising sign all of the other house positions for all of the other planets in the chart will also then immediately fall into place so if you figure out what the correct rising sign is then that means that you have always also figured out what the correct house placements is for all of the other charts or all of the other planets since all of the houses are measured out in a standardized fashion from the rising sign so this leads to some interesting sort of effects, one of them is that the difference between one rising sign and another is much more stark because as soon as you changed rising signs in a chart in whole sign houses all of the planets immediately change or shift to another house so that means that the difference between two charts with two different rising signs is very stark compared to if you are just adjusting it using quadrant houses.
Let me show you an example of what I mean by that. This is a sort of chart from a lecture that I gave on rectification that I did a few years ago and the chart is set for the same date so it is set for Saturday, April 12 2014, the chart on the left is set for 3:00 pm whereas the chart on the right is set for ten minutes later for 3:10 pm both in the same location so the chart on the left has 28 degrees of Leo rising so that means that Jupiter is in the 12th house because it is in the 12th sign relative to the rising sign, the Moon is in the second, Mars is in the third, Saturn in the fourth, the Sun and Mercury and Uranus in the ninth, Venus in the eighth and so on and so forth. However just ten minutes later the Ascendant switches and it moves into Virgo and as a result of that all of the house positions in the chart switch and they jump to one house over so suddenly that 12th house Jupiter becomes an 11th house Jupiter, that second house Moon becomes a first house Moon, that third house Mars becomes a second house Mars, the fourth house Saturn becomes a third house Saturn and the eighth house Venus becomes a seventh house Venus so as you can see those are pretty stark differences that would lead to very different interpretations depending on which chart you know the person was actually born with.
And what I have actually found in doing rectifications is this makes rectification incredibly simple and incredibly easy because all you have to do is design a series of questions where if the person answers the questions honestly about their life, you sort of designed a set of questions that would match what you would expect to see if the person matched one chart and then you designed a set of questions that would match what you would expect to see in the person’s life if they matched another, the other chart and if you do that it is often times very simple and straightforward to figure out what the correct chart is so that is why I say one of the benefits, one of the fringe benefits of using whole sign houses is that rectification becomes easier and more effective.
There is an additional piece of this which is that I think that this actually then could become one of the best tests of astrology which is that if not just one astrologer but if a group of astrologers could correctly look at these two charts for example that we have in front of us and match the correct one with the person who is actually born at that time with their biography and you can actually demonstrate that astrology is real with in a scientific context. You have to have a certain type of training because you have to know what to look for and you have to know the type of questions to ask so I don’t think we are there yet but I think it actually presents a really promising, has a lot of promising potential I guess, I will just leave it at that. All right so yeah, when doing rectifications, other things like looking at Saturn transits is much more stark so that also makes whole sign houses really useful. That is point nine.
Argument ten: Argument ten is that whole sign houses interestingly is still the primary form of house division that is used in India to this day and they have actually been using it continuously as the primary form of house division for about 2000 years now so the reason for that is that Hellenistic astrology so the original form of western astrology that was originally written in Greek was transmitted to India in approximately the first or second century CE so there is a text on astrology written in Greek that went over on a trading ship to the western coast of India where there were trading colonies set up and it was translated into Sanskrit and they took the form of astrology that they got it at that point which was basically western astrology with planets and signs and houses and the aspects and they merged it with the indigenous form of astrology that they had which was a form of lunar astrology called the Nakshatras which was like a 27 sign lunar zodiac so they merged the lunar astrology with western astrology to create a type of astrology that is essentially what they use they are today.
One of the interesting things about this is that they have had a much more stable transmission over the past 2000 years then we have had in the west because we have had lots of empires rise and fall and different languages come in and out of prominence and each time the texts on astrology were transmitted to a new language or to a new culture, they were translated but they were also changed and adopted and there has just been a very spotty transmission of astrology in the west over the past 2000 years which let to think is like that shift in the ninth century were suddenly it goes from everybody using whole sign houses to everybody using 20 different forms of house division. In India they didn’t necessarily have that, they had a much more continuous and a much more stable transmission so one of the interesting side effects of that is whole sign houses is actually still the primary form of house division used amongst the vast majority of Indian astrologers to this day so there is probably more…, technically speaking more Indian astrologers in the world just in that one country because astrology is so much more widely accepted than there are in the west which technically speaking may mean that even though in the west Placidus is still the dominant form of house division, in the east in India there is more whole sign house users than there are than any other form of house division. That is argument ten.
We are getting towards the end here. I will try to wrapped it up pretty soon.
Argument eleven is that whole sign houses was actually used not just in the earliest texts on natal astrology but it was also used in the earliest texts on horary astrology and electional astrology so the earliest complete text that we have on horary that have survived were written by Masha’allah and Sahl Ibn Bishr around the eighth century and both of them were primarily using whole sign houses. It is same for the earliest texts on electional astrology which was written by Dorotheus of Sidon in the first century, he was also using whole sign houses so I bring this up because sometimes this wasn’t often come from modern astrologers, it more comes from late traditional astrologers where they would say that just because one of the later traditional astrologers like William Lilly used some form of quadrant house division like Regiomontanus, they would say that that is the reason why they use Regiomontanus for horary for one branch of astrology like horary but for something else like natal they might use a completely different form of house division like whole sign houses and my point here is that house division is actually not supposed to be restricted to just a certain branch of astrology, all branches of astrology even though they are applied to different things and they sometimes have different rules, they are still drawing on the same fundamental framework of planets, signs, houses and aspect and there really isn’t any good conceptual reason to use one system of house division for horary and another for natal or at least I haven’t seen anybody present any good arguments to that effect and this is the reason why I would argue against that because the oldest astrologers on horary actually used whole sign houses and it is actually a perfectly valid system of house division to use for that even still today.
Argument twelve: Finally my last ……argument twelve is that all the cool kids are doing it and that is somewhat like just a joke but on the other hand it is not because in the past 20 years, on the one hand both a number of prominent astrologers have switched to whole sign houses so for example Robert Hand, Demetra George, Benjamin Dykes, Robert Schmidt, Rick Levine, Austin Coppock and other astrologers that range from just about any modern tradition of astrology or any traditional approach to astrology or even some psychological or Sun sign astrologers had been switching to using whole sign houses either as their soul form of house division or as their primary form of house division and this is really important in its worth noting not just as an argument for authority by saying, you know Rob Hand is a famous astrologer and he uses whole sign houses so therefore that is what I use but I am pointing it out because when long established astrologers like Rob Hand and Demetra George who have had very long careers in astrology and have been consulting astrologers for 30 year or 40 year or 50 years decide to make a huge change in their approach to astrology like that which is to get rid of quadrant houses and adopt a radically different systems such as whole sign houses that is a really big deal because that means that they are really going out of their way to make a huge shift and sometimes they are actually interrupting their lives and their professional practices in order to do it.
I know that Demetra said that she spent, she took like a year to off from doing consultations while she was reorienting her practice of astrology when she discovered whole sign houses and realized how well it worked that she really had to take sometime off to reorient her approach to astrology because it was such a radical change, not just and how she handled charts but and how she saw even her own chart and thus her own life so that is one reason why it is important to pay attention to the fact that some of these significant astrologers have switched to whole sign houses because there is some smart people that are taking it seriously and finding it useful. On the other hand it is also notable that there has been this huge shift in the past five years where suddenly a lot of just normal astrological enthusiasts or people that are interested in astrology that have been using it for a long time but are not necessarily professionals or that are just low level not like super famous astrologers are also making the shift.
I have seen two pools recently as I mentioned earlier one of them was on Skyscript which is a traditional forum but one of them was on facebook for just practising astrologers and it seemed to indicate that well, Placidus was still the primary form of house division for most astrologers, whole sign houses had actually become the second most popular form of house division amongst practising astrologers so that is very important because it means that there are people who you know there is no introductory books out there at this point in time where a person can learn astrology from scratch using whole sign houses so that means that anybody who is adopted in the past 5 or 10 or 20 years made a conscious decision to look into the matter, potentially to research it and then to make the shift whereas for Placidus again Holden made the point in his book on the history of astrology that literally the primary reason that Placidus is as widely accepted as it is today is because that is the only book that tables were available for in the early 20th century and then because people have a tendency to stick with whatever the first system was that they have learned Placidus became the main system but prior to that in previous centuries when there are other times when only one book of tables was used then there are other systems that were more popular there were the primary systems like Campanus or Alcabitius or what have you.
All right, making some of my final points as I reached the end of this lecture, I just wanna give you a piece of advice. If this is the first time you have heard about whole sign houses or if you are considering testing it out, for many of you many of the placements in your whole sign house chart are probably gonna be the same as your quadrant houses so on the one hand that is gonna mean that there is not really a big shift for you because you may already be using what are essentially whole sign house placements that you just assume to meant that the quadrant houses are working so that is one thing that you have to take into account and for a lot of people that is typically the case.
In other instances one of the things that you need to take into account if you are having reservations about whole sign houses because of something that it changes in your chart because this is usually people’s primary objection is that there used to some specific placement of a planet in a certain house of their chart and they feel like that describes their life very well. One of the things that you have to take into account and keep in mind is that there may be alternate ways that the same thing is indicated but from a different perspective so for example instead of let’s say having Saturn in your seventh house which let’s say you have that in quadrant houses, maybe Saturn is squaring the ruler of your seventh house in whole sign houses so that would essentially result in a very similar experience in terms of your experience of your seventh house but it would become from a different standpoint or there would be different reason for it so if you are testing out whole sign houses to see if it works you have to pay attention to and make sure you are being cognizant of potential overlapping issues like that where something that you thought was indicated by one placement is actually being indicated by a completely different placement in the whole sign perspective.
And ultimately all the way frame this in the form of like a polemical argument of a series of arguments about why whole sign is the best form of house division and it is the primary one you should use, you may actually not have to give up quadrant houses completely so we have already seen earlier how you can take into account the degree of the MC and the IC and how those actually get integrated into the whole sign framework in order to create almost sort of like a hybrid approach but in the late Hellenistic tradition they were actually using both whole sign houses and quadrant houses almost at the same time so that whole sign houses was the primary system of house division but they also to some extent would pay attention to the quadrant house placements as a secondary overlay and in fact that could be the solution for us today so we don’t necessarily have to be…, it doesn’t have to be like in the ninth century where it is like somebody makes an observation or discovery that there is this alternate form of house division then everybody switches to it and completely forgets the other form of house division for a thousand years, we don’t necessarily need to do that all over again by switching back to whole sign houses and completely forgetting about quadrant houses but instead there may still be a way to synthesize the two together or to use them at the same time or potentially for different things which is another suggest that different astrologers have made that certain form that whole sign houses maybe more useful for one thing and quadrant houses maybe more useful for another.
We are still very early on in the process of recovering whole sign houses because we are just working with, this is literally the first generation of astrologers who have started using it again in the west at least for over a thousand years so much of this research is still early and there is still stuff that we are working out about how to fully revive it and what position it has relative to quadrant houses and what the potential is for reconciliation ultimately so there is still work to do and there is no sort of final answers yet so despite how I sort of framed this lecture with the title in order to get you in here, unfortunately I am gonna end this on a more conciliatory tone and say that ultimately what it is important here is just having good reasons for what we do so no matter what form of house division you use, just make sure you are using that form of house division because you have good reasons for doing so and that you can back them up and if you do that then I have you know tones of respect for you in whatever system of house division that you are using. If you don’t have that then try working on it and seeing what you can come up with it in order to provide both a practical as well as a conceptual and philosophical sort of defence for or explanation of why you use whatever your preferred system of house division is and if you do that then I think that your approach to astrology and your experience of using astrology and applying it as a technique and as a system will be improved significantly. That is it for this lecture.
If you wanna learn more about Hellenistic astrology or my approach to this subject you might wanna check out my online course on the subject which is at hellenisticastrology.com. I have 60 hours of lectures just like this one except I go more into detail about specific astrological techniques and you can find more information about me on my websites which are chrisbrennanastrologer.com and hellenisticastrology.com
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