The Horoscopic Astrology Blog

10 Tips For Learning Astrology
October 19, 2007 – 3:23 am | 62 Comments

So you want to learn about astrology? Not the generalized Sun-sign stuff that you find in newspapers and magazines, but serious astrology. The advanced type where you can actually determine specific information about a person’s life through the observation of the planets and other celestial phenomena. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Read the full story »
book reviews

Reviews of the latest books on or related to astrology by Chris Brennan.

astrological techniques and concepts

Articles related to specific astrological techniques, including basic concepts.

astrology news

News and information about what is going on in the astrological community, and in the world in general from an astrological perspective.

history and philosophy of astrology

Articles focusing on the history and/or philosophy of astrology.

astrological tips and guides

Lists of tips and guides for learning astrology or becoming more familiar with the world of astrology in general

Home » astrological techniques and concepts, featured articles

Whole Sign Houses

Posted by on June 10, 2007 at 12:52 am45 Comments

the houses smallThe purpose of this article is to give an overview of a form of house division used in western astrology called whole sign houses.

Whole sign houses is the oldest form of house division, originating sometime around the 1st century BCE as a part of the Greco-Roman tradition of astrology known as Hellenistic astrology.

Despite the fact that whole sign houses is the oldest form of house division, knowledge of this approach was lost during the middle ages, and it was only recently rediscovered by western astrologers in the late 20th century.

The purpose of this article is to introduce this form of house division to western astrologers who are unfamiliar with its usage.

Historical Origins of the Houses

The notion of the 12 “houses” appears to have first been developed in the early Hellenistic tradition of astrology, probably somewhere around the 1st century BCE.

Some scholars such as Jim Tester have pointed out that the development of the houses in the Hellenistic period may have been partially motivated by an earlier Egyptian tradition of decanic astrology, which appears to have assigned certain topics such as livelihood, illness, marriage, children, etc., to specific portions of the diurnal rotation. This Egyptian tradition was then synthesized with the Mesopotamian system of the 12 sign zodiac, which produced the more complex tradition western astrology that we are familiar with today.

What Are Whole Sign Houses?

The Greek term for the ascendant in Hellenistic astrology was horoskopos, which literally means “hour-marker.” The original function and purpose of the ascendant was that it was used to “mark” or designate the zodiacal sign that was rising over the eastern horizon. Once the rising sign was marked by the ascendant, it became the first whole sign house.

Whatever sign is rising, no matter how early or late in the sign the degree of the ascendant may be, that entire sign from 0 to 30 degrees becomes the first house. Then the next sign in zodiacal order becomes the 2nd house, and the sign after that becomes the 3rd house, and so on. Thus the name “whole sign houses.”

There are 12 signs and 12 houses, and this is actually the reason that we have 12 houses instead of some other number such as 8 or 36 or what have you.

Here is an example. Suppose someone has their ascendant in Cancer. Cancer then becomes their 1st house, the sign Leo becomes the second house, Virgo is the third house, etc.

whole sign houses

As you can see, the ‘cusps’ of the houses in this system are actually the cusps of the signs. So any time a planet transits into a new sign in a person’s chart it is also moving into a new house.

There are no interceptions, and no complex mathematical procedures for determining the cusps of the houses. Just a very simple, yet elegant system where the signs and the houses coincide with one another, even though each retain their distinct function and purpose.

What about the Midheaven?

You may note that the degree of the MC and the IC can actually fall in other whole sign houses besides just the 10th and the 4th, because in the whole sign house system these points move around in a way that is similar to the vertex or the Lot of Fortune.

Both the MC and the IC retain their commonly agreed upon significations and importance, they just do not designate the cusps or starting points of the 10th and 4th houses. Instead they act more like important points of focus in the chart.

The MC still retains it significations related to the career and social standing of the individual, but it blends these significations together in the whole sign house that it falls in.

For example, if someone has a chart where their MC is in the 9th whole sign house then we would see career significations being mixed in with the 9th house significations, thus possibly leading to a work in a foreign country, or work as an astrologer, a philosopher, a religious figure, etc.

If the MC fell in the 11th house we would see the career being more closely aligned with friends, social movements, etc. The same is true of the IC when it falls in other whole sign houses, except that its significations pertain to the parents and the family.

For example, here is the nativity of a well known astrologer, and a proponent of the whole sign house system, I might add, whose MC falls in the 9th whole sign house:

rob hand natal chart small

Quadrant Style House Division

It does appear that there was a notion of house division that is similar to the more modern understanding of the concept, where each quadrant is trisected between the degree of the ascendant and the MC, the MC and the degree of the descendant, etc.

These divisions do not appear to have been assigned topical significations though, but instead they were used to determine planetary strength, or how active or “busy” a planet is in the chart. The closer to an angle a planet is, the more active or ‘busy’ it becomes. This usage of the quadrant style house division to determine planetary activity has been termed a ‘dynamic division’ by Robert Schmidt of Project Hindsight.

It is notable that these ‘dynamic divisions’ were almost always brought up within the context of the length of life treatment in Hellenistic astrology, essentially restricting their application to that specific technique.

When did astrologers stop using whole sign houses?

It appears that just about every astrologer from the 2nd century BCE until about the mid-9th century CE used whole sign houses almost exclusively in order to delineate topics in a chart. Even the early Arabic era astrologers working in Baghdad in the 8th and early 9th centuries such as Masha’allah and Abu ‘Ali al-Khayat used whole sign houses in their chart delineations.

Then, at some point in the middle of the 9th century something changed and all of a sudden the quadrant style systems of house division started to be used topically, and this usage completely displaced the use of whole sign houses. Rob Hand points out in his monograph Whole Sign Houses, The Oldest House System that this shift

…began with the commentators on [the 2nd century astrologer Claudius] Ptolemy…

There is this particularly tricky passage in Ptolemy which many people over the past 1,000 years or so have interpreted it to mean that Ptolemy was using quadrant style houses for topics. However, due to recent translations from Project Hindsight we know now that Ptolemy was consistently using whole sign houses to delineate topics throughout the entirety of his work known as the Tetrabiblos. In the introduction to his translation of Book 3 of the Tetrabiblos Robert Schmidt points out that, outside of his use of the so called ‘dynamic division’ for gaging planetary activity within the context of the length of life treatment

…there is no reason to believe that Ptolemy regards the Horoskopos, Midheaven, etc., as anything other than whole-sign houses.

Nonetheless, the astrologers of the mid-9th century appear to have interpreted Ptolemy’s text otherwise. Rob Hand recently expressed to me privately that he strongly suspects that the main culprit for this interpretation of Ptolemy and subsequent shift in emphasis to the quadrant systems of house division was the renown 9th century astrologer Abu Ma’shar. Abu Ma’shar, who is sometimes known as the ‘Prince of Astrologers’, was such a towering and prolific figure in the Medieval tradition of astrology that his use of the of the quadrant style divisions of houses may have completely set the standard for the next 1,000 years.

The question of house division in the modern period

After the 9th century the quadrant style divisions of the houses became the standard, but out of this sprouted one of the longest held debates in the history of astrology: which is the correct house system to use? After the 9th century dozens of different forms of house division began to appear and be developed and debated upon by astrologers who were trying to cope with the question of house division.

Even today the problem of house division is a common issue, and perhaps one of the biggest inconsistencies with the practice of astrology in the modern period. There are many different astrologers using various forms of house division and there is little agreement upon a common standard or even a consistent rationale for why each person uses the specific system that they use.

Placidus is the most widespread system of house division at the moment, but as James Holden points out in his work A History of Horoscopic Astrology this is largely only a result of the fact that it was grandfathered in because it was the only system of houses for which there were widely available tables that were needed for the calculations in the early 20th century

It has become a cliche in the 20th century that the Placidus system later became the 19th and 20th century standard because it was the only one for which affordable tables were readily available. This is partly true, but the same thing could be said for the initial success of the Regiomantanus system. Had the first published book of house and auxiliary tables have been according to the Campanus system, there is little doubt that it would have become the standard of the time. (Holden, pg. 150)

Astrologers have a tendency to stick to the method of house division that they learned when they first began their studies of astrology. Still, this issue of house division is a big problem at the present point in time, and it seems like there should be a reasonable solution to it.

My friend Bill Johnston is fond of pointing out that astrologers were able to figure out and pretty much come to a consensus on the nature of the outer planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in a relatively short time span, yet the solution to the problem of house division is still elusive.

Possible solution?

In 1982 the astrologer, linguist and historian of astrology James Holden published a paper in the American Federation of Astrologers Journal of Research titled ‘Ancient House Division’. In this paper Holden was actually the first astrologer and historian of astrology in modern times to point out that the original method of house division wasn’t equal houses where each house cusp is exactly 30 degrees apart starting from the ascendant, but it was actually whole sign houses, or the “sign-house” system as he called it.

In the mid 90’s the translation effort carried out by Project Hindsight confirmed that whole sign houses were the original and primary system of house division for the first 1,000 years of the practice of horoscopic astrology, and perhaps more importantly, that the system actually works in practice.

The noted astrologer Rob Hand became an outspoken advocate of the whole sign house system, and pointed out that this system is actually the main system of house division that has been used in India for nearly 2,000 years now.

The reason for this is that Hellenistic astrology was actually transmitted to India sometime around the 2nd century CE, and this was the foundation of all subsequent traditions of horoscopic astrology in India. I’ll save that story for another article though.

Conclusions

One conclusion that some people who practice whole sign houses have come to is that there was a fundamental mistake that was made at some point around the 9th century that led to the shift away from whole sign houses towards the quadrant style house divisions, and that the subsequent 1,000 years of arguments amongst astrologers about house division and the dozens of new systems that were created were merely the byproduct of a mistake, or a mistranslation. The argument follows that that the remedy to this mistake is simply the drop the quadrant style house divisions and employ whole sign houses exclusively for topical purposes.

Others see the development of the quadrant style houses and their application to topics as a logical extension of the original notion of whole sign houses or perhaps a creative mistake, and choose to employ them in tandem with or as an additional overlay to the whole sign houses.

At this point I’m not really sure if I fully agree or disagree with either of the two aforementioned conclusions that others have come to. Personally, I made the switch to whole sign houses several years ago after working with the modern forms of house division for about five years.

I think that it is a very useful and elegant way to delineate charts, and I have found that many charts which had previously given me problems or just didn’t seem to make sense were actually clarified quite dramatically when cast in this new light.

Not only the simple placement of planets in the houses of a natal chart become clearer, but there are also other applications to areas such as synastry, composite charts, transits, annual profections, secondary progressions, the rulerships, and birth chart rectification, that are incredibly useful as well.

Ultimately, I would encourage everyone to give it a try just to see what happens, and then you can draw your own conclusions. Perhaps you will end up joining the growing number of astrologers around the world that have started applying this ancient approach to house division in their chart work on a daily basis.

I think that in approaching the issue of house division in a thoughtful manner like this through research and case studies we can at least develop a better understanding of what lies at the very core of the concept, and perhaps eventually we can end a longstanding dispute that has been going on amongst astrologers for over a thousand years now.

Article tags: , , , , ,


About Chris Brennan

Chris is a practicing astrologer from Denver, Colorado, USA. He is the former President of the Association for Young Astrologers, as well as the former Research Director of the National Council for Geocosmic Research. He offers personal consultations and teaches online classes through his website at www.ChrisBrennanAstrologer.com.




Hellenistic Astrology Course

45 Comments »

  • sam says:

    What is this crap?! I want to hear about Paris Hilton! ;)

  • Ha. How did you like the previous two articles Sammy?

  • sam says:

    I don’t quite get why everyone makes such a fuss over her but it’s certainly interesting from an astrological perspective. ;)

  • Yeah, that is pretty much my take on it as well. I just find the astrology of the situation(s) fascinating, even if I’m not necessarily very interested in all of the hype per se. It just makes for a nice case study when you have someone whose life is so well documented. Or, overly documented, I should say.

  • james says:

    Chris wrote: “The MC still retains it significations related to the career and social standing of the individual, but it blends these significations together in the whole sign house that it falls in. For example, if someone has a chart where their MC is in the 9th whole sign house then we would see career significations being mixed in with the 9th house significations, thus possibly leading to a work in a foreign country, or work as an astrologer, or a philosopher, a religious figure, etc. If the MC fell in the 11th house we would see the career being more closely aligned with friends, social movements, etc.”

    Interesting this concept of whole sign houses; however in the 100 or so random charts I just checked in my client database, the overwhelming majority of Mc’s either fell in the 9th, 10th or 11th whole sign houses and in a few instances the Mc came quite close to the 12th whole sign house. Only but a few had careers associated with the whole sign house the Mc “fell” into.

    Also in interpreting houses, do you still work with rulership? Say a 3rd house in Scorpio, would Mars be the ruler? And the house and aspect it gives reveal answers about brothers/sisters? Do you also blend in the “modern” rulers?

    Thanks for your interesting posts

    james

  • Hi James,

    Yes, rulerships are still extremely important when looking at whole sign houses. This would still be taken in account when looking at certain topics, such as career for example. The ruler of the 10th whole sign house would still be one of the primary rulers of ‘praxis’ or ‘what one does’, but you would also pay attention to when the sign of the MC is activated by certain time-lord techniques such as annual profections, as well as by transits. Of course the actual delineation of work and vocation is a bit more complicated, and would still involve the other houses such as the 6th and 2nd, as well as the rulers of those houses, etc.

    In going through your case files I would bring the rulerships of the houses into account as well as any planets placed in the houses. In trying to validate the technique I would pay the most attention to if the topics associated with the 10th house are coming into focus when the 10th is activated by time-lords such as annual profections as well as the transits, and then also see if these themes appear to be carried over and blended in with other topics if the MC falls in a another sign and it is activated in the same way in other years in the native’s life. It is possible in extreme latitudes for the MC to fall in the 12th or even the 8th. Prince William is an example of this with his MC in Scorpio in the 12th.

    Personally, I would recommend using the traditional rulerships which are based on the visible planets in this analysis. I’m writing a post right now which will explain part of the origin of the traditional rationale of the sign rulerships.

  • Douglas Noblehorse says:

    So Chris… when are you going to write “Hellenistic For Dummies!”?

    Great explanation of Whole Signs…

  • I’m actually working on it right now as we speak Doug!

  • daimones says:

    Great post.

    I would also say that one of the things that modern astrology, as it is generally taught, fails to recognize, is the importance of looking at house rulers in terms of interpreting houses. It is simply bad, lazy astrology to say that, for example, Aries “rules” (which is wrong, actually Mars would rule) the 3rd, so the native has an agressive learning/communication style. That would absolutely not be true if, for instance, Mars were to be found in Cancer.

    I have been playing around with whole sign (& equal sign) houses for years, and remain agnostic as to whether there is one “right” house system. Rather I think it is more important to understand the philosophical basis of a house system and use it in allegiance with that philosophy. For that reason, when looking at specific topics in life, whole sign houses are right on the money. However, I would never use whole sign houses for horary or electional astrology–rather I would use a “time-based” system.

  • Andrew says:

    George Noonan, in his book “Classical Scientific Astrology,” writes:

    “As the ecliptic is divided into twelve equal areas measuring the apparent annual movement of the Sun, so the equator and observer’s horizon is divided into twelve unequal areas measuring the apparent diurnal movement of the Sun. These areas, projected onto the ecliptic, are called loci. The loci are unequal due to the fact that the hours of the day that the Sun is above the horizon are not, in general, the same as the number of hours that the Sun is below the horizon … The horoscope determines the beginning of the loci as determined by the Sun. That is, the size of each of the loci is based on the length of time between sunrise and sunset on the day that the Sun rises at the horoscopic point.” (p. 39)

    “As each sign of the zodiac represents one-twelfth of the apparent sidereal movement of the celestial sphere (e.g., one-twelfth of a year), each locus represents one-twelfth of the apparent diurnal movement (e.g., one-twelfth of a day).” (p. 175)

    “The system attributed to al-Qasim [Alcabitius] was ancient in A.D. 450, almost 600 years before he lived … As sophisticated as were the Renaissance astrologers in the tools of their trade, astronomy and mathematics, without the aid of the fragments of papyri cited above [Rhetorius], they were all unable to correctly reconstruct the true method of loci division. Regiomontanus correctly assessed the importance of the equator, but used spatial rather than time arcs. Placidus correctly uses time arcs, but not based on a reasonable division of the day. Campanus divided the prime vertical, pseudo-Porphyry the ecliptic between the horoscope (ASC) and the MC; and, finally, the equal house system divided the ecliptic equally from the horoscope (ASC) etc.” (pp. 113, 182)

    Noonan argues by analogy: “As each sign represents one-twelfth of a year, each locus represents one-twelfth of a day).” This argument by analogy might explain the appeal to the medieval mind of what J. D. North referred to as the Standard Method of house calculation: as above, so below, but after another manner.

    “Placidus is the most widespread system of house division at the moment, but as James Holden points out in his work A History of Horoscopic Astrology this is largely only a result of the fact that it was grandfathered in because it was the only system of houses for which there were widely available tables that were needed for the calculations in the early 20th century.”

    In a very closely argued essay (too closely argued for my liking), Rudiger Plantiko argues that the Placidus system “belongs organically to the Ptolemaic concept of mundane positions … as divisions of the daily arcs described by the stars.” Furthermore:

    “The Placidus house system carries the signature of an age of individualism, since each point of the sky is considered with its proper mundane coordinate system. This has been characterized in an article by Dieter Koch (translation by me): ”One cannot say that the Placidus system follows a particular measure of time, as the system of Regiomontanus does – instead, each point of the sky hasi ts own measure of time. Everything is relative, and each point follows its own individual way. Placidus conforms to our zeitgeist, which is characterized by relativism and oerspectivism.” This observation is not a mere reflection on the house system. Turning it around, the new individualism that started with the renaissance times can be seen as a factor which favoured the development of this house system.”

    Read Plantiko’s paper here:

    http://www.astrotexte.ch/sources/others/houses.pdf

  • Susan says:

    I was listening to Daniel Giamario, shamanic astrologer, on a radio show talking about the whole sign house system. So I did a search on it, and found this great article. Thank you Chris! At astro.com (Astrodienst) what house system is it called? They don’t have whole sign house system listed. The closest they have is Equal. They sell Rob Hand’s reports there and feature his articles. Shame shame ;-)

  • Thank you Susan. Unfortunately astro.com doesn’t have an option for whole sign houses in their extended chart selection at all. I think that I asked Alois Treindl or someone there about implementing this at one point a couple of years ago, but they didn’t sound very excited about the idea. Maybe we should start a petition or something.

  • Susan says:

    Ok, great idea. Let’s DO IT!! Will you please write up a concise description of what we want and post it here? I’ll put it up at a petition site and post the link. Then we can get it viewed and signed in the right places and present it to Alois Treindl.

  • I was actually kind of joking, but now that you mention it, maybe it would be a good idea… I will try to draft something over the next few days.

  • Susan says:

    Well, I have Mercury in Aries, but plenty of Virgo and I’m disabled (or rather I have spent too much time in the underworld) with too much time on my hands. I’m actually writing in my planner now to check back here in a few days because of the ADD effect of the internet. Or is that my Jupiter in Gemini?

  • [...] the switch to using whole sign houses as our primary form of house division. Since I have already discussed the benefits and history behind this approach in previous articles I won’t go into it here. Needless to say, after making the switch and becoming an advocate of [...]

  • [...] together six month periods of time in a person’s life or in mundane events in general. The whole sign house that the eclipse falls in will often act as the focal point of the eclipse, especially if it is [...]

  • alex says:

    i’m a convert. nice article/blog chris

  • [...] From the ascendant additional factors are often derived, for example such as the system of 12 celestial ‘houses’, or the system of ‘Lots’, sometimes misleadingly called ‘Arabic [...]

  • [...] houses are simply whole sign houses derived from the natal Sun-sign.   Whatever sign of the zodiac the Sun is in, that becomes the [...]

  • Diego says:

    I like your article, but my mind is not very clear about the astrological aspects, for example, In my natal chart I have my ascendant in the first degree of Aquarius and my moon in the last degrees of Capricorn, the orb is less than 4 degrees between them, so if you are telling the true about this subject, my moon is in the twelfth house and is not in conjunction with my ascendant because my ascendant and my moon are in different signs, but I know my personal history, and I know that my mother is very important in my life, because I did not have father, so in my personal opinion my moon and my ascendant are in conjunction although they are in different signs.

    Please answer my question, I have a lot of doubts about the use of the astrological aspects in the whole house system.

    Thanks for your attention, if you can send the question to my mail, It could be better

  • Chris Brennan says:

    The aspect doctrine and the house system doctrine are somewhat separate issues, and you can use whole sign houses without just using whole sign aspects. Even from a Hellenistic perspective that is primarily about whole sign aspects though, degree-based aspects are still taken into account even if they cross sign boundaries, especially if they are very close- such as in your example. Personally I would still consider the aspect you mentioned to be a conjunction.

  • [...] things first, use whole sign houses.   Not only are they more accurate in general practice, but the rectification process is actually [...]

  • [...] things first, use whole sign houses.   Not only are they more accurate in general practice, but the rectification process is actually [...]

  • charmvirgo says:

    I enjoyed the article it was interesting, thank you. And also some of the replies.

    You mention that with whole sign houses the MC and IC are points that can move around – but still keeping whole signs houses, would the AC and DC not become moving points as well? Why are they not treated the same way?

    I had wondered if whole sign houses were only used because calculation was so difficult and it was just easier. That does not mean I have dismissed the idea, but I have not studied enough charts to say which system should be used.

  • Chris Brennan says:

    Yes, the degree of the ASC and DSC are kind of like moving points that can shift around within the 1st and 7th whole sign houses, although its not quite as extreme as the MC an IC. The degree of the ascendant will always be in the 1st whole sign house, whereas the degree of the MC will not necessarily always be in the 10th whole sign house. That is the only sense where they might be treated differently.

    The argument that whole sign houses were employed simply because it was easier during the Hellenistic period would be a compelling one, if not for the fact that other forms of quadrant house division were used and advocated by astrologers of that period – they just didn’t use them to assign topics. Instead they seem to have used the quadrant houses primarily for the length of life treatment initially. So, they were perfectly capable of constructing the more elaborate forms of house division, they just don’t appear to have employed it for normal purposes.

  • Michael says:

    Chris,

    In using Whole house system where will the Descendant and the IC lie? Will it still be located exactly opposite of the ASC OR lie the exact cusp of the 7th house? Same with IC and MC?

  • Chris Brennan says:

    The exact degrees of those angles are still the same, since those are astronomical points, they just don’t act as the starting points of their respective houses. So, the degree of the DSC is still exactly opposite to the degree of the ASC, but the 7th house itself starts at the beginning of whatever sign the DSC is in, not at the degree of the DSC itself. In this way the degrees of the angles act more like sensitive points rather than ‘cusps’, sort of like Arabic Parts or the Vertex. Does that make sense?

  • Michael says:

    Thanks Chris it does make sense. I’m strongly thinking about taking your online course later this summer. I’ve recently discovered the whole house sign through you and this site and I find it fascinating. I’ve studied astrology on and off for about 10 years (I am an advocate of the equal house system- now I may make the switch to whole sign!) and my knowledge when it comes to putting the puzzle together in interpretation is limited but I am great at calculating charts by hand.

    I have 2 more questions, im not a huge fan of Placidus but I notice on your political section of this site the other astrologers use Placidus for Political events so I was confused whether you find Placidus accurate in that aspect and why not Equal or Whole Sign?

    In Hellenistic tradition in the 1st and 2nd century BC did the ancients use Greenwich Meantime to find the ASC?

    thanks
    Mike

  • Chris Brennan says:

    Are you talking about the charts cast on the Political Astrology Blog by Nick and Patrick? Nick prefers to cast the charts using a quadrant system just so that you can see the degrees of the angles more clearly, although all of the delineations are still done strictly with whole sign. It is just a matter of visual preference. I don’t think that it is necessary since I can visualize the angles just fine with the chart style I use.

    I don’t quite understand the second question. GMT is kind of a recent development from a historical perspective though, so the answer would have to be no.

  • [...] natives were born in the same year, and both have Scorpio rising with Mars and Saturn in the first whole sign house, but one was born during the day and the other was born at [...]

  • [...] descendant, and imum coeli.  The first approach, where the signs are used as houses, is called “whole sign houses,” whereas we will refer to the second approach generically here as “quadrant [...]

  • Gary (NJ) says:

    A number of years ago I had asked a student of Robert Zoller which house system he (the student) thought worked best (whole sign or quadrant). He said, “both of them”. As a somewhat saturnine type person, it would be nice for me to have a nice clear black and white answer to the above, but after having observed both systems in the same charts, it’s been my experience that some times the whole sign seems to work better in a given matter and other times the quadrant system seem to give the more accurate answer. I am a student of John Frawley’s, so still use a quadrant system, but I have to admit, using whole signs is much easier as long as you know the ascendant–you automatically know what rules the other houses without having to scramble to find out what sign a given cusp falls in and of course intercepted signs are another pain the a–. Some astrologers say include the ruler and others say only use the cusp ruler. You may yet win me over to using only whole signs. :)

  • Chris Brennan says:

    Gary, you might be interested in listening to the recent podcast that I did on the topic of the development of the house division issue in the Hellenistic tradition: http://traditionalastrologyradio.com/2011/12/20/house-division-in-hellenistic-astrology/

  • [...] purpose of determining what house is activated during the Saturn return, I would recommend using whole sign houses.  With whole sign houses you just have to determine what sign the ascendant is in, and then that [...]

  • [...] Saturn leaves that sign.”  Being grounded in Hellenistic astrology, Chris recommends using whole sign houses in which the first house is the entire sign that contains the Ascendant and the subsequent houses [...]

  • Botanist says:

    Chris, thanks for an interesting article! I have tried the whole-sign houses for a while now and found it to work very well; for one it moved my sun-jupiter from the 7:th to the 8:th which finally makes sense.
    Since I still, at 34, don’t know what I’m gonna be when I’m grown up, I am very interested in vocational astrology. With this system my MC is not only conjunct uranus in scorpio, but also in my 12:th house. I am really having problems figuring out what this could indicate; how would you reason? Also, in a couple of months, transiting saturn will enter scorpio and square my natal saturn, so I am trying to understand this so as not to get ambushed :).

    Sincerely.

  • Hi Chris. A few weeks ago, I came across your astrology blog which I
    thought very interesting. I’ve been ‘studying’ astrology among other
    similar subjects for quite sometime.I am more inclined to follow the
    teachings of what is known Traditional (Classic)Astrology. My question to you is the following: If the Twelfth House is in the upper hemisphere and next to the cusp of the Ascendant[1]why is it
    that it has such a negative reputation? I can understand that about the 6th House which is below the Descendant. Can you give me some input concerning this? I thank you in advance. Sincerely, HM

  • Chris Brennan says:

    Hi Henry,

    It has to do with a few different things.

    First, using whole sign houses, the 12th house is a sign that does not aspect the ascendant. The houses that don’t aspect the ascendant was seen as not being conducive to life, which is what the 1st house and Ascendant signify.

    Second, the 12th house is a cadent house that is moving away from the Ascendant. In fact, it is the sign that rises before the rising sign, and thus it came to represent what in-between stage between life and death. Since childbirth was kind of difficult traditionally, the sign that was rising just before birth came to be associated with some of those difficulties as well.

    Third, the 12th house was traditionally associated with Saturn, through the system of planetary joys. This is an additional reason why it tends to have some more negative significations associated with it. I actually talked about some of this in a recent paper on the planetary joys just a couple of months ago:

    http://www.hellenisticastrology.com/the-planetary-joys.pdf

    I hope that that answers your question, at least partially.

  • Henry Morales says:

    Hi Chris. Thanks for the input concerning the 12th House. It has
    helped me to understand things better. I would like to ask you the
    following: what does it mean when you read that a given house / sign
    does not aspect the ascendant? I’ve tried to find the meaning of
    ‘aspect’ but it does not seem to make much sense. I appreciate your
    input. Thanks, HM

  • Chris Brennan says:

    It has to do with the fact that the aspect doctrine was originally sign-based, and in fact the connection to the signs is what makes the 5 “major aspects” aspects or “Ptolemaic” aspects distinct. If you think about the five major aspects within the context of a sign-based aspect doctrine then what you realize is that each sign is capable of aspecting 8 other signs by conjunction, sextile, square, trine, or opposition. The other 4 signs it would not be able to aspect by a major aspect, which was originally called aversion.

    Here is a diagram that kind of illustrates the point:

    http://theastrologydictionary.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/aversion-02.jpg

    Just imagine that the Ascendant is in Cancer and that Cancer is the 1st whole sign house. The 4 signs that are shaded in grey are not configured to the rising sign by a major sign-based aspect. Perhaps instead of “ascendant” I should have said “rising sign” in my original comment.

    Here are some other articles I wrote on The Astrology Dictionary that go into some of this a bit further:

    http://theastrologydictionary.com/a/aspect/
    http://theastrologydictionary.com/a/aversion/
    http://theastrologydictionary.com/m/major-aspect/
    http://theastrologydictionary.com/p/ptolemaic-aspect/

    I also talk about it extensively in my Hellenistic astrology course:

    http://www.hellenisticastrology.com/courses/introduction-to-hellenistic-astrology-course/

  • Henry Morales says:

    Hi Chris. Thanks so much for your prompt response. The diagram you
    sent has help me to understand better the term “aspect” in relation
    to the houses and signs. No wonder some of these houses namely: the
    12,4, 6, and 8 are described as ‘dark houses or areas’ in the old
    books of classical astrology. I have for a long time been fascinated
    by some of these texts. Thanks again, HM ▲

  • Mihail says:

    Hi Cris

    I read somewhere that there are people that use both house systems (WH and Quadrant) simultaneously.The delineation is based on the WH system but the strengths of the planet´s actions are taken from the Quadrant map. What is your opinion about this interpretation procedure?

  • Chris Brennan says:

    Hi Mihail,

    This is something that Schmidt proposed originally when they first rediscovered whole sign houses. He made the observation that the Hellenistic astrologers would tend to use whole sign houses most of the time, except in the length of life technique where they would use quadrant houses in order to determine how angular a planet is.

    The problem that I have with this argument is that there is not really any evidence that this was done outside of the length of life technique. So, most of the Hellenistic astrologers used whole sign houses for just about everything. It is true that later in the Hellenistic tradition some of them started using whole sign houses and quadrant houses at the same time, but I don’t get the sense that they only used one for angularity, and the other for everything else, or what have you. Instead they just seemed to blend the two. I’m still in the process of trying to determine if this approach works. I do think that you should pay attention to the quadrant angles and what whole sign houses they fall in, but I’m not sure that the intermediate cusps are as important.

  • peter says:

    Hi

    if the quadrants are for assessing strenght how come Valens calls MC place of action,status,just like the 10th?

    thanks