Wednesday 1 August 2018

Whole Sign Houses by Paul Cairo

Which House System? - Why can’t we all agree?

In this article in Part 1, I try and put forward the case for the general use of Whole Sign Houses amongst astrologers. I do have a close Mercury Jupiter conjunction in Sag. So I am prone to going off on tangents! However in Part 2, I have tried to put this to use by incorporating a discussion of an understanding of how astrology works within the emerging world view paradigm which positions consciousness as primary and the material world as a manifestation of consciousness. If you find this sort of thing fascinating please read on!

Part 1

There are 3 main methods of House Division-

1. Equal House
Asc marks the start of the 1st house then 30 degree divisions from there around the zodiac.
MC becomes “free floating”

2. Quadrant systems
Defined by adherence to the “angles” as marking the beginning of the 1, 4, 7 and 10th houses. Placidus is the most commonly used house system in modern astrology.

3. Whole Sign
The houses are 30° each and the first house begins at zero degrees of the sign in which the ascendant falls. The next sign after the ascending sign then becomes the 2nd house etc.

The Historical Background

Hellenistic Astrology

Hellenistic astrology is the direct ancestor of modern astrology and was properly developed after the conquests of Alexander the Great and the creation of the city of Alexandria in Egypt in 332 BC.

Alexandria became the intellectual centre of Egypt and was most probably the birth cradle from which fully formed Hellenistic Astrology emerged in the first century BC.

It derived from a fusion of techniques primarily from the Babylonians (Chaldeans) and the Egyptians within a Greek philosophical and scientific framework and is defined by the use of the Ascendant to create “horoscopic” (time based) individual natal charts.

The 4 tenets of Hellenistic Astrology.-


2.Use of Ascendant and creation of Whole Sign Houses.

3.Planetary meanings.


So – WSH’s are one of the original tenets of Hellenistic Astrology. As such they are at the source/ the birth/ the origin of the tradition and so, as with a foundation chart of anything, the relevance continues throughout the lifetime of the system.

The actual house “delineations” (meanings) have changed through the centuries. We don’t have any surviving texts from the very beginning of the tradition before the first century BC so we can only speculate on how the houses were originally conceptualised as the tradition coalesced into existence in the first couple of centuries after the creation of the city of Alexandria. We only know how the astrologers of the first century BC were describing the house delineations. If you wish to understand more about how these delineations have evolved over time then it’s worthwhile taking time to listen to Chris Brennan’s excellent podcast covering this topic - “The Astrology Podcast – episode 17”.

My personal view is that at the origin of the tradition there were no “Houses” as defined later but just a realisation that the signs could be numbered from the Ascendant to give a more “personal” Zodiac. This may then have then developed along the lines of the Egyptian tradition of “decanic” astrology which appears to have assigned certain topics such as livelihood, illness, marriage, children etc. to specific portions (decans) of the diurnal rotation.

So it may be that we have moved back to the original conceptualisation of the house delineations by the current use of zodiac sign relationships to define these delineations.

This has occurred in the last century or so with the advent of the so called “12 letter alphabet”.

I must stress this is only a personal opinion!

I would also like to say that possibly the WSH’s are the way we see ourselves (they are personal) and the “zodiac” is the “consensual collective” view that the world as a whole has. ie. Sun in Aries – everyone sees you as Sun in Aries but with this Sun in the 12th house you identify personally with Pisces – (internally not externally). So inside you feel Pisces but to the world you express as an Aries sun.

A Summary of Chapter 11 of “Hellenistic Astrology” by Chris Brennan

Chris Brennan’s book “Hellenistic Astrology” deals with the issue of the origins of House division systems in great detail and is required reading if you wish to study this fascinating subject. I’m going to spend some time here summarising chapter 11 of his book entitled “The issue of House Division”.

Chris states that “While the whole sign system appears to have been the primary form of house division in the Hellenistic tradition, it was not the only form and other methods… were developed and employed for different purposes”.

These other methods referred to are the equal house and the quadrant systems.

“All three (systems) appear to have originated very early in the Hellenistic tradition although they are not all mentioned with the same frequency in the surviving texts.”

Chris devotes many pages to surveying surviving horoscopes from the first century BCE to the sixth century CE.

“One of the most compelling pieces of evidence about the pervasiveness of whole sign houses in the Hellenistic tradition is the fact that while hundreds of horoscopes survive, the vast majority of them only list the sign that the Ascendant was located in”… “The exact degree of the Ascendant is required in order to calculate equal houses, while both the exact degree of the Ascendant and the meridian-Midheaven are needed in order to calculate quadrant houses.”

Chris also spends time discussing references to whole sign houses in the surviving astrological manuals from the period.

“One of the ways that you can tell when one of the Hellenistic astrologers is using whole sign houses is that they will refer to the “houses” or “places” as if they are zodiacal signs, treating the two concepts as interchangeable. This is clearly not done when an author is using another form of house division”… “and they will stop referring to the places as signs. This point is important because when the astrologers qualify their statements about other forms of house division, it implicitly acknowledges that whole sign houses was the standard or primary system.”

Many examples are given in his book.

Chris then goes on to discuss the origin of the quadrant house systems with reference to “dynamic strength.”

“Sometimes when the places (houses) are used within the context of determining how “busy or “energetic” the planets are, this is when other forms of house division were sometimes employed.”

The Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens’ application of a quadrant house system is discussed with reference to a “length of life” technique in book 3 of Valens’ anthology.

It appears that Valens only used the quadrant system for this technique and reverted to whole sign houses for the rest of his anthology.

Perhaps the most well known (retrospectively) astrologer of the Hellenistic period Claudius Ptolemy (100-160 AD) “waits until he deals with the length of life technique in book 3, chapter 11 of the Tetrabiblos to first introduce his alternative form of house division. Which specific form of house division Ptolemy describes in this chapter has historically been the subject of controversy, although both Schmidt and Holden have interpreted this passage as outlining a form of equal houses that begins 5 degrees above the degree of the Ascendant.”

The use of the Ascendant and Midheaven as sensitive points is discussed by several authors in the middle Hellenistic tradition. “Paulus of Alexandria in the fourth century, introduces the idea that the degrees of the Ascendant and the meridian-Midheaven have the power to goad other planets into action and render them “busy” by being closely configured to them.”

“That Paulus was integrating the degrees of the Ascendant and meridian-Midheaven into what was otherwise a whole sign house approach can be seen from the way that he repeatedly describes the places as zodiacal signs in chapter 24 of his introduction.”

“In this way we see another instance in which there was some overlap between the whole sign and quadrant house systems towards the middle of the Hellenistic tradition, or at least where even when working within the framework of whole sign houses, the actual degrees of the Ascendant and meridian would still be incorporated into the interpretation of the chart.”

Chris also discuses at length the use of equal houses early in the tradition.

“Outside of Ptolemy, equal houses also show up in two other major sources from the Hellenistic tradition, Valens and Firmicus.

Chris then goes on to compare the texts of Valens and Firmicus with respect to a previous text attributed to “Asclepius” and then discusses the introduction of the equal house system in chapter 9 of Valens’ anthology. How the equal house system as described was actually used by Valens is open to some debate however. As Chris says:-

“Unfortunately, Valens never seems to use the equal house system in any of the 100+ chart examples that he gives in the Anthology, and so we are left somewhat in the dark about whether this was actually a technique that he regularly employed in practice as a secondary overlay on top of what appears to be his primary system, whole sign houses.”

Chris also notes that Valens may have been simply citing the previous Asclepius text when referring to equal houses and may not have actually used the system for specific purposes, instead preferring a quadrant based system.

So it appears that the quadrant systems may have been adopted by later Hellenistic astrologers in replacement for the earlier equal house system (where used) and this may have been due to the increased usage of the Ascendant and Midheaven as marker points used for dynamic purposes (defining positions of strength).

At the end of his chapter on houses, Chris goes into some depth concerning the works of the later Hellenistic astrologers, Firmicus and Rhetorius. Well worth reading if you have an interest in this field.

“The important point here is that Rhetorius was using quadrant houses as his secondary overlay for dynamical purposes, whereas Firmicus seems to have been using equal houses”… “It is left ambiguous what the original source text that they shared in common would have used, since it only seems to have emphasised the degrees of the four angles and used them to determine which planets were the most “busy” or powerful within the broader context of whatever whole sign house they were placed in.”

At the end of the chapter Chris summarises by saying:-

“We find the whole sign system being introduced in the text attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, the equal house system being introduced in the text of Asclepius and some form of quadrant houses likely being described in the compilation of Nechepso-Petosiris. While I believe that it is still safe to say that the whole sign house system was the original and primary form of house division in the Hellenistic tradition, it is clear that from a very early stage, other foundational authors thought it was necessary to introduce other forms of house division to use alongside whole sign houses as a secondary overlay.”

And as a final nod towards the possible eventual integration of the systems, Chris says:-

“It is clear that from a very early period in the Hellenistic tradition, there was an attempt to integrate and reconcile the different frames of reference that equal and quadrant houses represent. The reason for this is that each of these frames of reference has some independent symbolic value and this provided the earlier astrologers with an impetus to integrate them in some way. Moreover, even if there was a tendency to use equal and quadrant houses mainly for dynamic purposes, we can clearly see that steps were being made towards using them for topical purposes, such as Valens’ use of the meridian to import tenth house topics into other whole sign houses”… “In this way the eventual transition towards using quadrant or equal houses for topical purposes in the later Medieval tradition seems to represent the next step in a process that was already occurring in the Hellenistic tradition.

An unfortunate side effect of this process was that the discussion eventually shifted entirely towards determining which form of quadrant house division was the most accurate and in the process the concept of whole sign houses as a system was completely forgotten.”

It’s also worth at this point to read a summary of a couple of other of Chris’s articles

A brief summary of “Whole Sign Houses – the original House system”

From Chris Brennan’s ”The Astrology Podcast” episode no.52

“In 1982 astrologer James Holden published a paper in the American Federation of Astrologers Journal of Research titled Ancient House Division. This is a survey of the type of house division in use in the first thousand years of the practice of western astrology. One of the things that he pointed out that nobody had ever pointed out before is that the original system of house division in western astrology was whole sign houses. He actually personally referred to it as the Sign House System.

About a decade later in the 1990s Robert Schmidt and Robert Hand started translating some ancient astrological texts from Greek and Latin as part of “Project Hindsight” and were able to also confirm Holden’s original discovery that whole sign houses was the system of house division that all of the ancient astrologers were using. Robert Hand who had been practicing astrology for something like 40 years at that point, started testing it out and using it. He found it more effective than any other system and so started popularizing the technique from the mid 1990s.

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 that suddenly it seems like a lot of people are switching to 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. So there is a big shift that is taking place, a lot of people are switching to whole sign houses.”

A Summary of Arguments for the use of WSHouses by Chris Brennan.

A pdf of a detailed critique can be downloaded from-

1. 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.

Were a thousand years of astrologers wrong? 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 (eg. length of life technique) and that is actually how quadrant houses and systems like Porphyry houses or Alcabitius houses or other forms of house division were first introduced.

2. The shift towards quadrant houses actually happened remarkably suddenly and it does not necessarily seem to be very well considered. Some of the earliest Medieval astrologers such as Sahl Ibn Bishr and Masha’allah who were both living and writing texts around the year 800 CE and 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 75 years later, and in his works and in the works of his contemporaries and the people immediately after him, suddenly they are using quadrant houses so what this means is that the shift to quadrant houses happened relatively suddenly within the course of potentially even a single generation.

So why did this happen? Why did this switch to quadrant houses take place around the ninth century? Frankly the answer is we don’t know because it is not very well documented and nobody has come up with the firm answer at this point in time. There are many different possible theories and 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 techniques eg. length of life.

3. Gauquelin effect peaks in 12th quadrant house but 1st WSH.

4. WSH is primary form in India for last 2000 yrs. Passed to India from Hellenistic tradition.

5. In the past 20 years a number of prominent astrologers have switched to whole sign houses as their sole form of house division or as their primary form of house division. For example Robert Hand, Demetra George, Benjamin Dykes, Robert Schmidt, Rick Levine, Austin Coppock. So when long established astrologers like Rob Hand and Demetra George who have had very long careers in astrology decide to make a huge change in their approach to astrology and get rid of quadrant houses and adopt whole sign houses, this is a really big deal because it means that they are going out of their way to make a huge shift and interrupting their lives and their professional practices in order to do it.

I would like to add some additional Points to Chris’s here -

1. Quadrant systems break down at higher Latitudes and become too distorted before then. Surely the various delineations of the houses have an equal weighting? Quadrant systems don’t provide this.

2. The MC is not an equivalent angle to the Asc so why divide the zodiac based on angles that are not directly linked to each other? The equivalent right angle “Angle” to the MC/IC is the Vertex/Anti-Vertex. The Ascendant floats freely in relation to these angles dependent on Latitude.

3. If there is a strong division at the ascendant position between the first and 12th house then planets in the 12th, even if nearly conjunct the Asc, would be considerably weaker than planets on the first house side of the Asc. Does this bear out in reality? Consider Trump’s “12th” house Mars! Or even Tony Blair’s “12th” house Mars.

If you are interested in what exactly happened during the shift to the Quadrant systems during Abu Mashar’s time it is worthwhile taking a look at Steven Birchfield’s article -

Rob Hand’s view

Rob’s original article on WSH’s can be downloaded as a pdf from-

I found this article at -

It gives a brief summery of how he came to find WSH’s and his subsequent usage of the system.

“In the early 1970's I attended a workshop at the New York Astrology Center give by the late Hindu astrologer, B.V. Raman. He began presenting his charts and immediately we got first our first surprise. The charts were of course sidereal; that was no surprise. The surprise was the house system! The houses each consisted of an entire sign and only one sign. We dubbed this the “Whole-Sign House System.” I remember turning to a friend and saying “I wonder if this is what Ptolemy was actually doing.” By that time I had enough familiarity with Ptolemy to realize that he did not seem to be using either Placidus, as Placidus thought, or Equal Houses as most others thought.

That is where my earliest speculation stopped. I found it difficult to believe in such a simple system and at that point in my career tended not to use houses at all following the houseless system of Reinhold Ebertin, also known as Cosmobiology. A few years later I began using Placidus houses, more or less the default option of the time, but then after attending a workshop by the late Edith Wangemann, I switched over to the Koch or Birthplace House System. However, in this whole period I noticed that the angular and cadent houses worked more or less but that the succedent houses did not work as well. These are the houses most affected by the differences among the house systems.

I turn now to the 90's and the beginnings of the research into Hellenistic astrology. When we began to examine the Greek text of Ptolemy, we found abundant evidence that he did in fact use the signs as houses in the same manner as the Hindu astrologers. The passages that have been cited as evidence of his use of other house systems all appear to have been misinterpretations.

Further investigations indicated that the vast majority of Hellenistic astrologers used the signs as houses in exactly the same manner. It even became clear that the earlier Arabic astrologers did as well including Masha’Allah, Zahel, Omar of Tiberias and Abu Ali Al-Khayyat. However, by the time that Europeans discovered Arabic astrology and began to translate it into Latin, the Alcabitius house system had displaced the Whole Sign system.

Impressed by the weight of evidence from Hellenistic astrology, I began drawing my charts in such a manner that I could read them using either Koch or Whole Signs. I found that invariably the Whole Sign Houses gave better results, even when the ascendant was in the late degrees of a sign. I was not prepared to accept this conclusion; I was intensely skeptical. But I was forced to Whole Sign Houses and from that time forward I have never found it necessary to use any other system for any purpose. Horary practitioners will be interested to know that the two oldest texts on horary astrology, Masha’Allah’s On Reception, and Zahel’s Introduction both employ Whole Sign Houses. James Holden in his writings has also noted the tendency of these early authors to use Whole Sign Houses.

They fly in the face of the conventional wisdom in astrology, but Whole Sign Houses work very well indeed, including the succedent houses. Many astrologers find them hard to accept. However, logic is quite simple. There is no such thing as a house apart from a sign. There are only signs. When they are counted from Aries, they are signs; when they are counted from the rising sign, they are houses. Functioning as houses is one of the things that signs do.”

Part 2

So how can we reconcile the different and competing Astrological systems?

To get to grips with these issues we need to consider how astrology actually works.

The current materialistic scientific paradigm negates the idea of an astrological influence because it has no recognised system through which astrological influences can work.

ie. no astrological “field of influence” has been “discovered”.

However! The current materialistic scientific paradigm is outdated by the discovery of the weird and wonderful world of Quantum Physics as discovered a century ago.

So how has (or should have!) this discovery affected our view of the workings of the universe of which we are a part?

The most notorious experiment showing how the materialistic paradigm is challenged is the “double slit” experiment.

There are many youtube videos explaining this experiment. You could try-

This experiment is mostly discussed in terms of the paradox of the wave/particle duality.

Basically a photon of light can behave as a particle and also as a wave function.

From a materialistic viewpoint this is very difficult to get your head around!

However! What is really interesting is that when an observation is made of a “wave” of light it causes it to behave as a particle. ie. the wave function collapses to a point.

Okay, this really has physicists scratching their heads. Those firmly entrenched in the materialistic paradigm have done everything they can to try and explain this within their system.

Others have simply ignored the ramifications and followed the premise that we can never really understand quantum physics but it works so we’ll just use it anyway!

There are a small sub-set of physicists that are thinking outside of the box and supposing a world where consciousness is primary and the material world of particles does not come into existence unless observed by some level of consciousness.

There are then issues of what this consciousness is?

In the materialistic paradigm matter is primary and consciousness is an epi-phenomenon arising from matter. The upcoming paradigm reverses this and at it’s extreme version the material world is purely an expression of consciousness.

This puts it very neatly into a parallel with the ancient mystical religions which all consider consciousness to be fundamental in their views of the world.

So, however it works, it appears that consciousness is primary and so we can infer from this a realisation of how the astrological effect manifests itself.

As the material world is divided into basic subatomic forms so the consciousness that it derives from must express a template or mirror of these fundamental forms.

The most fundamental constituent of matter is the quark which combines in it’s various forms to create the protons and neutrons that make up the nuclei of atoms.

Okay here comes the best bit. There are SIX types of quark known as up, down, strange, charm, bottom and top. Each is unique in it’s properties. (note - there are also 6 types of Leptons and 12 guage bosons in the Standard model of elementary particles – oh, and one Higgs boson!)

So it appears that there is an inherent 6 fold division in the world of matter and thus by inference there is also a basic 6 fold division in the world of consciousness (the psyche).

This is why the 12 fold division of the circle as used in the Zodiac is so fundamental to the human psyche. It echo’s the primordial 6 fold division as manifest in matter.

At this point you may be wondering why I’m going on about a 6 fold division when the Zodiac is a 12 fold division!

Well, actually the zodiac can be thought of as a 6 fold division with each “part” being divided into 2 parts - a “positive” sign and a “negative” sign.

With a little thought it can be seen how this may work. Each pair of signs form a whole part. eg. Aries and Taurus are the pairing of the masculine and feminine archetypes. Gemini and Cancer are the pairing of thought and feelings. Leo and Virgo are self-centeredness and servitude. Libra and Scorpio are level evenness and extremism. Sagittarius and Capricorn are expansion and limitation. Aquarius and Pisces are universal mind and feeling.

So as consciousness we need a framework to manifest the inherent divisions of the psyche.

As the collective consciousness of the human race began to observe the sky and the movements of the Sun, Moon, planets and fixed stars we found in these motions a framework upon which to define the fundamental divisions of the conscious psyche.

The movement of the Sun across the sky provided our frame of reference and we called this great circle through the sky “the ecliptic”. This circle needed a “start” reference point and as the original formulators of this system lived in the northern hemisphere, the natural starting point became the spring vernal equinox. The moment in the natural world where the new agricultural year started.

So the Zodiac was born!

The constellations through the ecliptic became defined as they are now around the 6th century BC.

Wikipedia states that-

“The classical zodiac was introduced in the neo-Babylonian period (ca. 7th to 6th century BC). At the time, the precession of the equinoxes had not been discovered. Classical Hellenistic astrology consequently developed without consideration of the effects of precession. The discovery of the precession of the equinoxes is attributed to Hipparchus, a Greek astronomer active in the later Hellenistic period (ca. 130 BCE).
Ptolemy writing some 250 years after Hipparchus was thus aware of the effects of precession. He opted for a definition of the zodiac based on the point of vernal equinox, i.e. the tropical system.”

So the defining of the constellations around the ecliptic (roughly marking the 12 zodiac divisions) at the time of the great Axial age conjunction (see below), created the backdrop for the accurate observations of planetary positions from thenceforth. Or at least until precession annoyingly started to shift this natural frame of reference!

The Axial Age and the Birth of Astrology

Axial Age (also Axis Age, from German: Achsenzeit) is a term coined by German philosopher Karl Jaspers in the sense of a "pivotal age" characterizing the period of ancient history from about the 8th to the 3rd century BC.

He argued that during the Axial Age, "the spiritual foundations of humanity were laid simultaneously and independently in China, India, Persia, Judea, and Greece.

Richard Tarnas in his excellent book “Cosmos and Psyche” discusses the axial age with reference to the great outer planet conjunctions of Uranus, Neptune & Pluto which were all conjunct within 2 degrees from 9-13 degrees of Taurus at 576-577 BC.

At this time several very important historical figures were born-

Buddha – c. 563 BC

Confucius – 551 BC

Lao Tzu – possibly legendary figure. Contemporaneous with Confucius. Attributed founder of Taoism.

Pythagoras – c.570 BC. Do not underestimate the influence of the Pythagoreans! (See Wiki).

I would argue here that the foundation of the modern astrological tradition derived from the energy of this conjunction.

Think how the energies of the mid 60’s conjunction of Uranus and Pluto and also the early 90’s conjunction of Uranus and Neptune influenced the resurgence of astrology.

Next conjunction of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – 3370 AD!

So, returning to the idea that consciousness is primary.

If we follow the rabbit hole down which this leads we get to an understanding that it is the collective consciousness (or as Jung terms it “the collective unconscious”) of the human psyche that determines the manifest reality of which we are a part.

This may sound like new age waffle but there is evidence to support the existence of the non-material (or psychic) realm from outside of quantum physics.

One obvious consideration is the existence of instincts. If you stop to consider exactly what instincts are you inevitably come to the conclusion that they are a manifestation of the collective psyche of a species or group of species.

Rupert Sheldrake explores this idea further with the idea of “morphogenetic fields” that shape the physical development of all living things.

In Biology, the current paradigm cannot explain instinct nor can it explain how consciousness can arise as an epi-phenomenon of the brain. (this is known as the “hard problem” in neuroscience).

A materialist will argue that the physical structure of DNA encodes for the development of life and also will explain instinct through this coding. They will also deny that there is any other esoteric field or force that is involved in these processes. Matter is all there is! And we live in a soulless universe.

However just to digress a bit and have a pop at these soulless materialists, there is a problem with their view of the functionality of DNA.

DNA is by it’s nature a binary “computer” code with the 0’s and 1’s represented by the A-T and C-G chemical bonding connecting the double strands in the DNA molecule.

However to turn this code into instructions to build proteins etc. you need to have what is known in computer programming parlance as a “Compiler” ie. you need an intelligently created system that will transcribe the coded instructions into an actual event. Without this “intelligent” compiler the code is simply random nonsense.

In other words there has to be an intelligence of some sort to interface between the code and what it is that the code “codes” for.

To me this is direct evidence for a non material intelligent “field” of consciousness.

We can take the DNA analogy further with the idea of “archetypes” and the planetary structure of the Zodiac circle.

An archetype can be seen as a specific part of the whole psyche and the planetary positions on the zodiac as a form of computer program. Our consciousness acts as the “compiler” transcribing the planetary positions and angular relationships into a (personally) meaningful relationship between all of the archetypes that together make up the whole of the psyche.

So in a roundabout way I’ve arrived at a realisation that it is our consciousness or I should say the field of human consciousness (past and present) that determines how we transcribe (or relate or link) the physical planetary positions and angular relationships to the all pervading archetypes that together make up the whole of the human psyche.

This now leads me onto a discussion of how the various astrological techniques can be understood in relation to the extent to which they are directed by the collective consciousness of the human psyche.

Before we discuss house systems it may be worthwhile to deliberate on the biggest “elephant in the room” in the practise of astrology and that is the use of the tropical vs. sidereal zodiacs.

We in the west are very much brought up on the assumption that the tropical zodiac is the one true zodiac and conversely virtually all Indian astrologers believe the sidereal to be the one true zodiac.

There are 2 points here. The first is that from the Tropical perspective it makes more sense astronomically to define the start of the zodiac by the intersection of the Earth’s equatorial plane with the Sun, rather than starting it with an arbitrarily defined point on the ecliptic as defined by the fixed star background.

The second is that although the above may be true, because there are so many Vedic astrologers the collective consciousness of these astrologers has affected the manifestation of the zodiac positions so that within the Indian community the sidereal zodiac may indeed have relevance or even prominence over the tropical zodiac.

It follows on that in the case of the validity of the different house systems it may be that the quadrant house systems as used today (eg. Placidus) have a validity within the collective psyche of the practitioners of the system.

So if enough people actually believe in the validity of a system it may then start to manifest within the society in which these people live.

The actual origin of modern western astrology must have occurred in this way.

There may have been competing astrological methodologies originally but at some point general agreement was come to and the basic tenets of modern astrology became firmly entrenched in the human psyche.

An astrological instinct was born!

So I agree that there may be a degree of validity to the various competing house systems.

However! The primary house system for the first 1000 years at least was whole sign houses. So this is firmly entrenched in the collective astrological psyche and is the system that the astrological tradition was “born” with.

We know through mundane astrology how important the inception chart is for a country and even when that country undergoes serious transformation so long as it remains the same “nation” it retains the original chart as the primary chart and adds “overlays” of the charts of subsequent events.

So where does that leave us?

I would like to see an eventual agreement on house system usage within the astrological community but for this to happen there has to be a collective agreement between the factions.

What may facilitate this is the understanding that we as conscious beings are the co-creators of reality so that no one system of reality is “right”, it is simply the one that we choose to manifest.

If we follow this train of thought then we realise that there is no one absolute “correct” reality out there and we should not therefore become so personally invested in the correctness of one particular system.

That said it would help our cause as astrologers if we could agree upon a system and then allow that system to take precedence within the collective astrological psyche.

And in the case of competing house systems why should we not choose the system that was the primary system for the for the first millennium of the astrological tradition.

Not only that, it is the most logical system in that it does not break down at high latitudes and it is not defined by great circles in the sky that actually have no direct relationship with each other.

I hereby rest my case m’lud.

Sunday 18 December 2016

Temperament Research - An Update

In temperament analysis, the Moon, ascendant and birth season are analysed in terms of the four types – sanguine, choleric, melancholy and phlegmatic. Each individual has an underlying primary 'temperament'. This is usually combined with a secondary temperament. So, for example, whilst an individual may be principally choleric, they may have a secondary temperament, say phlegmatic, giving a mixed choleric-phlegmatic type.

The four temperaments are a blend of four fundamental qualities – hot, cold, moist and dry. Each temperament is made of one of either hot or cold and moist or dry. So the choleric temperament is the combination of hot and dry qualities; the phlegmatic temperament is the combination of cold and moist qualities. Each temperament has positive and negative dimensions. The combination of temperaments can moderate the excess of a predominant temperament giving a more balanced expression of the personality.

The temperament types have a range of associations, so melancholy is associated with autumn by season. Sanguine has associations with spring. The following table gives the particular qualities and associations with each temperament type:

Hot, Moist
Jupiter, Venus oriental,
Mercury oriental
Hot, Dry
Yellow Bile
Sun, Mars
Cold, Dry
Black Bile
Saturn, Mercury occidental
Cold, Moist
Moon, Venus occidental

Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum has written an excellent book on temperament. She gives the following keywords for each of the temperament types. I have added my own words to give additional details about the pure temperaments.

Hot, Moist
DGG – friendly, social, shallow, unfocussed, cheerful, dilettante, lucky

Excitable, enthusiastic, opportunistic, charismatic, charming, youthful, 'easy come, easy go', forward, warm, exuberance
Hot, Dry
DGG – will, inexhaustible, optimistic, aggressive, assertive, take-charge, impatient, hates details, high achieving

Drive, determined, irritable, quick acting, unreflective, challenging, irascible, explosive, hot-headed
Cold, Dry
DGG – anti-social, analytical, pessimistic, connoisseur, studious

Solid, dependable, practical, hard-working, obsessive, dour, quiet, responsible, reliable, ambitious
Cold, Moist
DGG – contemplative, reserved, shy, slow-moving, resigned

Pessimistic, languid, emotional, changeable, deep, still, empathic, sensitive, private, retiring

For temperament analysis I have developed a weighted scoring system using the following factors. Temperament analysis is typically made using a combination of the temperaments associated with the Moon placement and the ascendant. The only solar factor that is analysed is the birth season – the Sun's placement according to the equinoxes and solstices.

The following table of temperament factors has been subject to revision over the last year or so. The table presented below represents the latest form of the weighting scores, developed through research using a range of natal horoscopes.

Temperament Factor
Scoring Explanation
Birth Season
Score 3 for the season of birth – e.g. Sun in Pisces would be phlegmatic, being a winter birth in zodiacal terms.
Ascendant Sign
Score the temperament associated with the rising sign – e.g. Aries rising scores 2 for choleric temperament being a fire sign.
Sign of Ascendant's Ruler
The sign of the ascendant's ruling planet scores 2 for its temperament – e.g. Mars, Aries' ruling planet, in Gemini scores 2 for sangine temperament, Gemini being an air sign.
Planet Aspecting Ascendant
Score 2 each for the planet most closely aspecting the ascendant and its sign – e.g. Saturn in Capricorn square ascendant scores 2 for melancholy (Saturn is a cold, dry planet) and 2 for the melancholy sign Capricorn (being an earth sign). If there is no planet aspecting the ascendant use the ascendant's sign and its ruler.
Ascendant Almuten
The almuten planet of the ascendant scores 2 – e.g. the almuten of Aries is often the Sun which would score 2 for choleric temperament.
Moon Sign
Score 3 for the sign of the Moon – e.g. Moon in Leo would be choleric, being a fire sign.
Moon Phase
Score 3 for the phase of the Moon – e.g. New Moon to first quarter counts as sanginue, first quarter to full counts as choleric etc.
Sign of Moon's Ruler
Score 2 for the temperament of the sign of the Moon's ruler e.g. the Moon's ruler is the Sun; Sun placed in Sagittarius would be choleric, Sagittarius being a fire sign
Planet Aspecting Moon
Score 2 each for the planet most closely aspecting the Moon and its sign – e.g. Jupiter in Gemini sextile Moon in Leo scores 2 for sanguine (Jupiter is a hot, moist planet) and 2 for the sanginue sign Gemini (being an air sign). If there is no planet aspecting the Moon use the Moon's sign and its ruler.
Moon's Almuten
Score 2 for the almuten of the Moon – e.g. the Sun is usually the almuten of the Moon placed in Leo.

Using this scheme, which is developed from Greenbaum's temperament analysis methodology in her book Temperament: Astrology's Forgotten Key, Donald Trump, President-Elect, is clearly a choleric type, with an admixture of sanguine. According to this scoring system, Trump has no cold qualities at all – melancholy or phlegmatic. You can follow the breakdown of the scoring in the table below.

Temperament Factor


Birth Season

Ascendant Sign


Sign of Ascendant's Ruler

Planet Aspecting Ascendant


Mars in Leo
Ascendant Almuten


Moon Sign


Moon Phase


Second Quarter
Sign of Moon's Ruler

Planet Aspecting Moon

Sun in Gemini
Moon's Almuten


Total = 28

Trump is true to his temperament, being quick to react, direct, assertive, and concerned to act authoritatively. You can read Greenbaum's other choleric qualities above. The sanguine element of his temperament may make him more likeable than he might be if he was more or less completely choleric. Only time will tell if he has the temperament to be President, or whether, as Hillary Clinton suggested, he is “temperamentally unsuited” to be POTUS.

Donald Trump - Natal Chart

14 June 1946, 10:54 EDT, Jamaica, NY, USA: RR AA.



Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum (2005) Temperament: Astrology's Forgotten Key. The Wessex Astrologer, Bournemouth, England.

Sunday 20 November 2016

The Exeter Fire - 2016

Exeter's 'birth chart' is reckoned to be the Date of Incorporation: 23 August 1537 at 00:00 hrs local mean time. This gives the degree of 10 Cancer 59 rising, with 9 Pisces 00 on the midheaven. The following chart is set for the Date of Incorporation with Porphyry cusps for the intermediate houses.
The Sun at 8 VIR 51 and Saturn at 9 VIR 45 straddle the I.C. They form the apex of a yod shape with Neptune-Moon at 8-9 Aries and Pluto at 7 Aquarius. They are also part of a grand sextile with Venus and Uranus if one includes the nodes at 6 GEM/SAG 56. 

Chart 1: Exeter - Date of Incorporation

The fire that devastated the Royal Clarence Hotel on Friday 28 October 2016 occurred 8 weeks and a day after a Solar Eclipse hit the Sun-Saturn-I.C. conjunction in Exeter’s horoscope. A more immediate trigger was perhaps the New Moon two days afterwards, though prefigured by the actual event.
The relevant annular eclipse (not visible in the UK) occurred on 1 Sep at 9 VIR 21. 

Chart 2: Solar Eclipse Preceding Fire

The following bi-wheel chart shows the Incorporation chart in the centre with the eclipse chart in the outer wheel. The alignment of the eclipse degree with the MC-IC axis is clear. The fact that the eclipse occurred on the subterranean degree shows the fire attacking the heart of the city, the very foundations of its identity.

 Chart 3: Incorporation Chart and Eclipse Chart

The nodes and also Fortuna will be hit by the next New Moon at 7 SAG 43 in late November. This might signal some minor upturn, such as the switching on of the Christmas lights. Future lunation aspects include the Lunar Eclipse of 11 Feb at 22 LEO 28, exactly conjunct the Charter’s Mercury, and more importantly, the Solar Eclipse of 26 Feb at 8 PIS 12 opposite the Charter’s Sun. Expect major issues following the fire to come to a head around then.
In the context of the event, Saturn well describes the hotel, opened in 1770, as a ’piece of history’, an old traditional structure of dry plaster and timber (Saturn) finally consumed by fire (the conjunct Sun). It was arguably Exeter’s second most iconic building, right in the heart of the city (the I.C.) and just 100 yards across the Green from the most iconic – the Cathedral itself (the Sun). Exeter, a city whose long history dates back to Roman times, is itself commensurate with Saturn and equates numerologically to the Saturn-related number 8 (E+X+E+T+E+R = 5+5+5+4+5+2 = 26; 2+6=8).
On the day, Neptune by transit was on the M.C. opposite at 9 PIS 23. This describes the continuing confusion over why the fire took hold after initially being ‘under control’, why sprinklers weren’t operative, how long the demolition will take, how much of the shell can be saved, even what caused the fire to start, and so on. (The owners have vowed to rebuild with a ‘sympathetic reconstruction’).

The chart for the moment at which the alarm was raised, at 5:00AM, is shown below.

Chart 4: Exeter Fire 2016

Transiting Neptune at the time of the fire is within two minutes of arc of the solar eclipse degree at 09 Virgo 21.
The New Moon occurred on 30 Oct at 7 SCO 44, in exact T-square to the Charter’s Venus at 7 LEO 45 and opposing Pluto at 7 AQU 27. The fire stated in an art gallery (Venus) two doors down. It spread via roof spaces running across the tops of buildings and set the hotel alight. [This New Moon also falls opposite the ascendant (7 TAU 16) in Exeter’s Royal Charter of 1 Jul 1463.]

Chart 5: New Moon - 30 October 2016

If the chart is turned upside down, with North at the top as in the street map of the city centre, the superimposed Moon’s T-square reproduces the T-square formed by the junction of High Street and Queen Street. The safety cordon that blocked (Saturn) all routes through the centre for a week is located at this axis, where down Martins Lane stands the ruined hotel. Neptune now at the base of the chart can also graphically represent the gas main running under the hotel which fractured on the Saturday morning, intensifying the blaze.
In the weeks following the fire, there has been a tangible air of sadness in Cathedral Green as people confront the reality of the tragedy. It seems to be a sadness much equated with Saturn.
The Aries Ingress 2016 – Exeter
In traditional astrology much store would have been placed in the Aries ingress chart, set for the location of interest, as a guide to the forthcoming year. The following chart shows the moment that the Sun entered the tropical sign of Aries in March 2016 in Exeter. 

 Chart 6: Aries Ingress, 2016, set for Exeter

This occurred during the night, at 4:30AM. This means that the chart should be judged as 'nocturnal', according to the principles of sect. This is a striking chart, with the two malefic planets, Saturn and Mars, elevated in the tenth house. Mars is within a few minutes of arc of the midheaven.
The rising degree in the ingress chart is 4 Aquarius. This places Exeter's natal Uranus position on the ingress descendant, with the close Venus-Pluto opposition being brought to the horizon. 

Chart 7: Incorporation Chart and Aries Ingress, 2016

Mars, as the lesser malefic, being intensely hot and dry, is the planet associated with fires and destructive forces. Saturn, as the greater malefic, being intensely cold and dry, is associated with sorrow and loss. We may infer that the coming year, based on this ingress chart, shows a propensity for loss through fire for Exeter. We should note that the midpoint of the malefic planets is 10 degrees 29 minutes of mutable signs, bringing Venus, Neptune and Fortuna into a close, tense relationship.
This conflicted arrangement in these degrees of mutable signs is made doubly powerful because these degrees are closely associated with Exeter's 1537 chart: the midheaven axis 9 degrees Virgo/Pisces. We have noted that Sun, Saturn, the nodal axis and Fortuna are close to this axis in Exeter's 'birth chart'. In essence, the Aries ingress marks out 2016-2017 as a particularly challenging year for the city.
Other significant features of this ingress chart include the midpoint of the transiting Sun-Uranus combination picking out the city's Moon-Neptune square the natal ascendant. This portends events of great unexpected shock (Sun-Uranus) that will have an emotional impact (Moon-Neptune) on the city (ascendant). The Sun-Uranus midpoint moved on to square the natal rising Mars a few days after the ingress.
Although the fire devastated the historical heart of Exeter, it is important to note that there was no loss of life. The emergency services were able to contain the blaze to a specific area of the city, when there was concern that it may spread beyond this zone to the High Street. The impact on business may be substantial. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the fire including local residents and workers whose jobs depended on the hotel and other local businesses.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Henry Miller's Phlegmatic Temperament

Henry Miller was a twentieth century American modernist writer who garnered a notorious reputation as a pornographer. Many of his books were banned from publication in the English speaking world until the 1960s. He was born in the late nineteenth century, under the Neptune-Pluto conjunction, and died in 1980.

He composed a number of controversial novels during the middle part of the last century. He is most famous for writing The Tropic of Cancer, the Tropic of Capricorn and Black Spring. He also wrote a trilogy called The Rosy Crucifixion (Sexus, Nexus and Plexus). These freeform novels combine erotic description, hallucinogenic prose and semi-autobiographical content.


Henry Miller - 1940


Carl Van Vechten


Miller is notable from an astrological point of view because he maintained a long-term interest in astrology. It is likely that he consulted astrologers, perhaps Sydney Omarr, and that he knew how to interpret a birth chart. He corresponded with Dane Rudhyar and was influenced by Rudhyar's Astrology of Personality. Rudhyar and Miller met in the early 1940s in New York. At the same time, Rudhyar met Anais Nin, Miller's lover from his days in Paris in the thirties. Miller also made frequent references to astrology in his works.

Miller's birth time is cited in Erica Jong's homage to Miller called The Devil at Large. She gives his birth details as 26 December 1891, 12:17PM, Manhattan, NY. The source of this data is likely to be another biographical work called Always Merry and Bright by Martin Jay. There is a copy of Miller's horoscope on the web at which also shows this time. Other times exist for Miller's birth, with other sources giving between 12:30PM and 12:45PM. The time given in the Solar Fire database is the midpoint of these two – 12:37PM.

Any of the times between 12:17PM and 12:45PM can be used to successfully establish Miller's temperament type. Miller himself confirmed that he had Aries rising, and any of the birth times mentioned above will give this Mars ruled sign on the ascendant. During the 1970s Miller corresponded with Erica Jong, another American writer. He said in a letter to her dated Saturday 15 June 1971 “No, I am not Aries, I am Capricorn (Dec. 26 1891) – really ancient, what! But Aries is my rising sign. I have been in love several times with Aries women – always disastrously.”

Henry Miller's horoscope, calculated for 12:17PM, is shown below.

Chart 1: Henry Miller (12:17PM)

In another blog on Janis Joplin I have given a brief background to the temperament technique. The only variation I am adding in to the calculation below is to identify the temperament associated with the solar quadrant – for example, if an individual is born between sunrise and midday, the temperamental association for this quarter is sanguine. Miller was born just after noon, hence his temperament by solar quadrant is choleric.

The following table summarises Miller's temperament factors:

Temperament Factor

Birth Season

Solar Quadrant


Ascendant Sign


Sign of Ascendant's Ruler

Planet Asp. Ascendant

Venus occ in Cap.
Ascendant Almuten


Choleric - Sun
Moon Sign

Moon Phase

Final Q
Sign of Moon's Ruler

Planet Aspecting Moon

Jupiter in Pisces
Moon's Almuten


Choleric - Mars


 Table 1: Henry Miller's Temperament Type

Henry Miller is strongly phlegmatic. In some ways, this is a great surprise, given his reputation for being a wonderful raconteur and welcoming host. However, although Henry became well-known in later life, his reputation was essentially an underground one and he did not move in high level academic and literary circles. He lived in relatively obscurity at Big Sur in California for most of the 1940s and 1950s. It was only when the world caught up with him, and the censorship of his books ended in the 1960s, that he became something of a celebrity.

Miller wrote from a feeling point of view. His novels are fluid, free-form and driven by emotion. He is not a scholarly writer or novelist. He did not give his works a highly structured (melancholic) quality. Although Henry was a highly intelligent man, he had little time for academics and critics. He felt that most of them did not understand what he was trying to achieve. It was his reputation with other writers and artists that made his name, rather than formal critical acceptance.

Miller has a relatively strong streak of choler in his makeup. This is created by Mars being strong as the ruler of Aries, his rising sign, and the almuten of the Moon. Choleric qualities are also added by his afternoon birth. Note that Miller's Mars placement in Scorpio reflects the overall temperament balance in his chart, Mars being a choleric factor placed in a phlegmatic sign. Miller has the Moon, a phlegmatic factor, close by his Mars. Aries rising, Mars and Moon in Scorpio, all reinforce the phlegmatic-choleric quality of his horoscope.

The challenge with a phlegmatic-choleric temperament balance is the lack of a common quality that bridges the two modes of expression. The phlegmatic style is cold and wet; the choleric style is hot and dry. The risk is that the cold, wet phlegm drowns the hot, dry choler and extinguishes the individual's fire and drive. Nevertheless, Miller's mode of self-expression is a good example of two temperament types working together. Miller seemed to be able to balance a need for privacy and reflection with a drive to achieve a significant artistic reputation and engagement with the wider world.

Without his choleric streak, Miller probably would have been a recluse. In various interviews that are available on youtube, Miller reflects on the isolation of the writer's life, living in a world of ideas (or, in his case, feelings). The hot, dry nature of choler warms and stimulates Henry's predominantly cold, wet, phlegmatic nature. It is likely that strong phlegmatic qualities gave him a very sensitive, private side that he hid behind his choleric Martian machismo image.

Miller has very few elements in his natal chart that directly add melancholic or sanguine qualities to his temperamental makeup. Miller was little interested in the mundane world of work, a melancholic realm, and we have to look elsewhere in his chart for sanguine qualities, principally to his strong Jupiter, placed in one of its own signs – Pisces. Nevertheless, Henry had a Capricorn Sun; his MC, Mercury and Venus are all in that sign. He also had a strong Saturn, placed in Virgo, an earth sign, which are both melancholic factors.

Even though Miller found it difficult to hold down a conventional job, he had a very tenacious and hard-working streak. He worked hard to become a writer and then experienced great hardship as a result of his vocational choice. It is interesting that these factors do not reflect in his underlying temperament but are other qualities that Henry was able to work with astrologically. This shows that the temperament is about a fundamental mode of self-expression or an underlying orientation to the world. Other astrological factors can play a role in an individual's life but are modulated in light of temperament characteristics.

It is worth spending half an hour watching the interview with Henry Miller called Henry Miller: Asleep and Awake. This film is also known as the Bathroom Monologue. The bathroom is a phlegmatic (watery) environment. During the half hour, Miller reflects on the various images that he has posted on his bathroom walls. You can see him responding to the memories and experiences associated with the images. He seems to be in a very phlegmatic mood. Reflection, memory, and images all have phlegmatic associations. Nevertheless Miller is clearly 'holding court' in a choleric (opinionated) fashion. (Some of the images contain 'adult content' – please be warned.)

In the final five minutes of the documentary Henry is transferred from Pacific Palisades to New York, still wearing his bathrobe, where he reflects, in an unsentimental way, about his roots in Brooklyn. This section of the film highlights the direct, Martian, choleric side of his temperament in an obvious fashion. There is, however, an overall nostalgic tone to the ending of the film, which reinforces Miller's phlegmatic nature.


Erica Jong on Henry Miller (1994) The Devil at Large. Vintage, London.

Photo Attribution

Public Domain,