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Some thoughts on the Astrological Houses: Placidus, Equal – or what ?

Sooner or later, it dawns on the student or budding astrologer that the method of dividing the inner space in a horoscope into twelve sectors or spheres of life, known as Houses, poses some problems.

Astrological Houses

Astrological Houses

Firstly, since there are a number of different house systems – click HERE for more detail on this – which should you choose?

Secondly, to a varying degree depending on your chart, planets can move house. In my chart, for instance, by Equal House I have no less than SIX planets in the Twelfth House. When I first saw my horoscope in  Placidus houses, one planet, my ruler Mercury, had migrated to the Eleventh. O joy! I need all the help I can get here, I thought then. But, as you will soon see, it’s not as simple as that…

Then there is a further problem. In Placidus, the MC/IC axis always defines the cusp of the Tenth/ Fourth Houses. If you use Equal House, the MC/IC axis can fall through any pair of houses from the 8th/2nd to the 11th/5th. How do you deal with that?

I have worked with only two systems over the years, i.e. the most commonly used ones Equal House and Placidus. I used Equal House from the early 1980s perfectly happily, finding that the system worked well for me. Then I changed to Placidus in 1995. I didn’t choose it for any carefully thought through philosophical or practice reasons; it was simply the system used on the Diploma course I was doing. Now, in 2015, I am moving back to using Equal again. For philosophical reasons this time, as you will see shortly.

A class experiment

Ever since a small group of my ‘old’ students persuaded me to run a refresher class for them starting last August 2014, I have really enjoyed returning to astrology teaching. Those students were all very rusty, and wanted to cover the basics again. Inevitably, the question of house division came up. Having covered the core meanings of the houses in an introductory class, we recently spent a whole tutorial looking in more detail at the issue of house division.

The methods I adopted on this occasion were twofold: firstly, I gave the class copies of their charts in Equal House to compare with their existing Placidus charts. Then I drew up a grid, of which we all had a copy. This listed all the planets, Chiron and the North Node as well as the pair of houses through which the Equal House MC/I C axis ran. Thus we could see at a glance those features which stayed the same in both systems, and which ones changed. In some charts many features changed. In others eg mine, there was very little difference.

I have always taught astrology with every student having a copy of everyone else’s horoscopes, including mine. With permissions always asked and given before the start of a course, and appropriate emphasis on confidentiality, this way of working has been very effective. It creates each class as a kind of mini qualitative research laboratory, where astrological theory can be tested out there and then, observing to what extent it manifests accurately in the nuts and bolts of the everyday lives of those present. It is a model which makes for very lively teaching…

We worked our way round everyone in the small group, including me, discussing how interpretations might change, and most importantly, how much that mattered by potentially altering the emphasis on key horoscope themes.

eg the Moon in one student’s horoscope changed from the Placidus Ninth (a location she really  liked for her Moon, being both a teacher and an education junkie!) to the Tenth by Equal House, which she felt focused her Moon more narrowly than her experience told her it should be placed; the Moon in the 10th by Equal House emphasised her vocational/ career life. However, we pointed out to her that this didn’t really matter in terms of overall accuracy of interpretation. She really was very well endowed with Jupiterian energy, given her Moon’s trine to Jupiter in Aries, as well as her Sun’s square to Jupiter.

This was just one example in which, whatever shift we saw of planets from one house to another, there was invariably an underlying strong theme in the birth chart, so that the emphasis being slightly shifted in one context made little if any difference to the overall accuracy of interpretation of the whole horoscope. Interestingly, more than half of our small group, despite my having worked with all students with Placidus from 1995, said that they preferred the relative simplicity of the Equal House system.

In my own case, although ruling planet Mercury moved from the sociable, group-oriented Placidus 11th House to join five other planets in the reclusive Twelfth by Equal House, I have an exact semi- square from Mercury to 10th House Uranus in both systems, Uranus also strongly aspecting the Sun and Moon, so the Aquarian/Uranian/11th house ‘tone’ remains strongly emphasised. That Mercury energy also flows from the Twelfth House to an exact sextile to Neptune, and a square to Third House Jupiter in both systems. So any reclusive tendencies brought by the move are well and truly restrained by other horoscope factors!

The students could see from our small experiment something which is fundamental to the accurate reading of any horoscope: strong themes will shine through, whatever way you divide up the circle. As U.K astrologer Robin Heath so memorably observed a number of years ago: “…astrology appears more and more to behave like a hologram. You can perform almost any technique with the data, turn the chart inside out or slice it up, and still the symbolic pictures remain….” (i) Both this statement and our class experiment bore out the conclusion at which I had  arrived some time ago. It doesn’t really matter much what system you use. What you get is the same overall picture…

Horses (Houses!) for courses…

I went on to outline the way some astrologers use different house systems for different purposes. Since the Equal House system is based on the Ascendant/Descendant axis which is the axis of “… here I am in relation to you… “, this system can be used when the client in their reading wishes specifically to address matters pertaining to relationship.

Since the IC /MC axis can be seen as an arrow flowing from the person’s deepest self and origins (IC) to their future direction (MC), then issues of roots, vocation and life direction are most appropriately contemplated, some astrologers think, via the Placidus lens since that system can be seen to emphasise the MC/IC.

Also, although I have never worked with the Koch system myself, I know that some astrologers swear by the accuracy of its house cusps in plotting transits and progressions.

The Equal House MC/IC “problem”

The placing of inverted commas above gives you a clue that I do not see the shifting placement of the MC/IC axis in the Equal House system as a problem at all. Quite the opposite. I think that working with the MC/IC axis against the backdrop of either the 2nd/8th, 3rd/9th, 4th/10th, or the 5th/11th adds a layer of richness to the interpretation of the MC/IC which of course should remain just as focal and important in the Equal House system as in any other where the MC/IC  is always the cusp of the 10th/4th Houses.

For example, I have often encountered clients or students with 2nd/8th backdrops in professions involving finance and collective money, those with 4th/10th backdrops have their strong life focus on career/vocation emphasised. With 5th/11th emphasised, you often find “creative” types who work co-operatively and collaboratively in the pursuit of their careers. And in my own case, the 3rd/9th backdrop is highly appropriate since writing and higher education have been central to all the diverse vocational paths I have pursued throughout my working life.

Equal House: the return

In conclusion, the students were very keen to know why I had decided to return to working with Equal House.  For giving me the final shove in that direction I have to thank Phoebe Wyss and her excellent recent book “Inside the Cosmic Mind” which I am currently reading through for a second time. I  would urge any astrology student or practitioner to read this book if they are inclined, as I am, to perceive astrology as a ‘top down’ art whose practice and interpretation reveals us as expressing in micro form, the shifting macro patterns of the whole cosmos.

In Phoebe Wyss’ own words:

“ Archetypal astrology is an approach to astrological chart interpretation that is based on this cosmological view. The meanings of the chart factors such as  zodiac signs, houses, and planets are then seen to derive from the twelve basic categories of meaning associated with the astrological archetypes. These fundamental cosmic principles and their inter-relationships are symbolised in the geometry of the zodiac…”(ii)

Wyss’ book – which builds on the recent work of Richard Tarnas, Kieron Le Grice and other pioneers in the field of archetypal cosmology – has taken me back and re-grounded me in the basic geometry of sacred numbers, whose symbolism reflects the core shaping principles or archetypes governing the movement of energy throughout the whole cosmos. The number twelve is one of those sacred numbers.

From that symbolic, geometric perspective, dividing the inner space of the horoscope symbolically into twelve equal parts seems more appropriate than using any other house system, including Placidus, whose devising arises purely from measurements limited by the view from planet Earth in relation to the solar system in our tiny corner of space/time 

Endnotes:

(i) The Mountain Astrologer, Issue 78, April/May 1998, Letters p 11

(ii) Inside the Cosmic Mind, Phoebe Wyss, Floris Books 2014, p 93

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Zodiac

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Mars through Pisces…how was it for you?

The planet Mars entered the sign of Pisces on 12th January 2015. It is due to exit on 20th February 2015, entering its own sign of Aries. Boy, will I be glad! It has been a very mixed, pretty tough month and I would be most interested to hear how any of my readers/Followers have fared.

Mars enters Pisces

Mars enters Pisces

It should be obvious to anyone with some knowledge of astrology that Mars, the planet of energy and direct action, is not best placed in watery, subtle, diffuse, imaginative, dreamy and artistic Pisces.

Neptune, the ruler of Pisces, has been slowly traversing that sign, which it first entered in April 2011. It is currently at 6 degrees of Pisces. Saturn changed signs on 23rd December 2014, entering Sagittarius, beginning a long dance in square aspect to Neptune which will not separate until the end of December 2016. It is currently occupying 4 degrees of Sagittarius. Chiron, the planetoid signifying healing and wounding, is half way through Pisces, sitting currently at 15 Pisces.

Mars enters Aries

Mars enters Aries

So – as Mars began his watery journey, he made an exact square to Saturn on 16th January, a conjunction to Neptune on 19th January, crossed the Neptune/Chiron midpoint on 24/5  January, and Chiron on 1st/2nd February.

Anne W's Horoscope

Anne W’s Horoscope

In my horoscope, Mars was transiting the 6th House of work and health, crossed my Pisces Descendant, and is currently travelling through the Seventh House of relationships. I never cease to be amazed and moved at how the currents of shifting energy in our solar system, plotted and explicated by the planets, flow like tides, bearing our lives along with them, bringing us delights and challenges, pains and pleasures with every breaking wave.

Here in brief is how I have been faring. I hope some of you will share your experiences, thoughts, and insights too.

Mars entered Pisces and I began a bout of intermittent insomnia which lasted until Mars crossed and passed Chiron early in February. On the day Mars entered Pisces, I had the great pleasure of moving – with my seafaring brother’s help! – into a lovely new office which is now my Twelfth House retreat in which I hope to write my next book.

With Mars applying in square to Saturn, I was foolish enough to attempt to buy a digital overhead projector for my new office (from which I will also be teaching.) This produced a long series of thwartings of byzantine proportions, during which I failed to acquire the projector from one place, easily located it in another, bought it, then had to return it as unsuitable on the very day that the Mars /Saturn square was exact. Moral of this story? You are an astrologer! Don’t you ever look at your Ephemeris?

I usually get very angry with something/someone when Mars crosses my Pisces Descendant. This occurred on Saturday 24th of January, when we went to see an opera by a well-known composer, which I hated so much I left half way through and went home early. Note in my diary:” hatred, fear, and loathing of women still alive and well in the psyche of 21st century Western male composer…”

I then contracted a bacterial infection which took two lots of  reluctantly consumed) antibiotics to shift and gave me headaches every other day, causing me to feel low in energy and pretty dispirited for a few days.

And – with Mars in the 7th House, I re-connected with an old friend I hadn’t seen for several years, who came to visit in the new office. Also, I arranged with a friend I have known over 20 years, to sublet a day a week from me at a much reduced day rate, thereby aiding her in setting up her therapy practice and helping to cover part of my rent.

Apart from all that, it was a very quiet month…!!

Zodiac

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Evoking the Twelfth House…

Last summer I was most happy to have The Mountain Astrologer magazine publish my long essay ” Contemplating the Twelfth House” – a reflection on that most complex of houses, born from my own long period of Neptunian meltdown and recovery during 2001-8. It will be re-published next month in the UK’s“Astrological Journal “, after which I intend to make it available as a free downloadable pdf. 

 In the meantime, I thought some of my Followers and readers who haven’t read the essay would like a peek at the prequel, a much shorter piece in which I first featured the nature image that midwifed the eventual finished essay.

tiny-frog-on-lotus-bud

tiny-frog-on-lotus-bud

A tiny frog, barely half an inch long, flopped, dead, on the tip of a teaspoon as I gently lowered it toward the plug hole of the kitchen sink. Soon, I’d turn on the tap and its fragile little body, already liquefying, would be washed down the drain.

Yesterday, it had been leaping around, full of life, inside the  plastic refrigerator box in which I had created a little aquarium with water, moss and stones. The tadpoles which I had brought home a few weeks previously had all survived. Satisfaction and pleasure at having achieved this, however, was tempered with the growing knowledge that these delightful new pets would soon have to be returned to their original habitat.

But this little fellow would never go home.

This small incident, which occurred well over thirty years ago, offered such a poignant illustration of the transient fragility of life that it has never left my memory.

There are times when something apparently tiny and fleeting can illustrate much larger truths.

The constant dance between order and chaos, form and formlessness, being and non-being, seems to occur in all epochs and at all levels. Humans have created a range of paradigms and metaphors, from ancient myths through the world’s great religions to modern cosmology, within which to explore this dialectic.

Cosmologist Brian Swimme in his inspirational invocation of ‘The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos’ speaks of “each instant protons and anti protons…… flashing out of, and …… absorbed back into, all-nourishing abyss……” The abyssis his term for “a power that gives birth and that absorbs existence at a thing’s annihilation.”

Astrology has its own name for this inchoate territory where everything, tiny or vast, which has ever had form dissolves back into the primal waters of the Source. It is called the Twelfth House.

In my horoscope the Sun, Moon,Venus, Saturn, Pluto, and Mercury the planet of communication and writing are all to be found in the Twelfth House. I have been preoccupied with the mystery of whence we arise and where we return since I opened my eyes to the world. Thus it doesn’t require much of a leap of imagination to work out why my main blog www.anne-whitaker.com is called ‘Writing from the Twelfth House’……

Zodiac

Zodiac

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Can astrology define whole generations? Yes it can, says Guest Blogger Ellis Nelson…

Anne Whitaker:

Ellis and I ‘met’ via our blogs last year. Since then we have reviewed each other’s books, shared a range of esoteric interests, commented on one another’s blogs and even Liked various items of personal and intellectual interest on Facebook. I have been happy to observe Ellis’ growing interest in astrological symbolism, and I’m really pleased to be able to re-blog this astute and insightful post on the astrological generations. Since the beginning of my astrological studies, teaching, and practice I have been utterly fascinated by the way in which planetary symbolism plays out not only in our individual, but also our collective lives. “As above, so below” as the ancient maxim states.

As Ellis rightly observes, the outer planets including Pluto take so long to traverse a given astrological sign that they symbolically define generations rather than individuals. However, when those generational planets connect with the personal planets in your or my horoscope, the collective becomes very personal!

For example, you will read Ellis’ summary of the key characteristics of Sagittarian energy as manifested by the group of young folk born whilst Pluto traversed that sign from 1995-2008...” Sagittarius rules religion, philosophy, long distance travel, and foreign countries. This generation should have a keen interest in these areas …” For those members of that generation with Pluto in Sagittarius triggering off personal planets, ie the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars in their personal horoscopes or birth charts, the collective becomes very personal indeed, and those young folk become particular exemplars and exponents of Sagittarian energy in action!

Enjoy this post…and do share your own thoughts with us. We’d be especially interested to hear from those of you with young folk born between 1995 and 2008.

Originally posted on ellisnelson:

Pluto with satellites Pluto with satellites

Recently I watched an episode on Gaiam TV where Regina Meredith was interviewing an astrologer. I’ve been interested in astrology off and on since I was a teenager, but over the past year or so that interest has become more intense and I watch quite a few YOUTUBE astrologers as they explain what’s going on in a given month. It is fascinating and personal.

Scorpio2

What resonated with this interview concerned the movement of Pluto and how these long transits (248 years to circle the zodiac) influence generations. With Pluto in a given sign anywhere from 11 to 32 years, it defines a whole generation. In a way, this is the opposite of personal because I share influences with everyone in my age group. As a writer for young people, this idea intrigues me. It especially drew me in as the astrologer talked about my adult children’s group…

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2015’s first Guest Post: from Emerging Pattern…” Fear – Saturn transiting Sagittarius”

Anne Whitaker:

Emerging Pattern writes eloquent, thoughtful posts which truly put flesh on the bones of astrological symbolism. Here, she writes about the changes in her life wrought by the recent shift of Saturn into Sagittarius. Saturn has recently crossed my 29 Scorpio IC ( EP and I share an IC/Mercury link! ) – beginning a long transit through my 4th House: I am busy re-structuring my working life by moving my astrology, counselling and teaching practice into a lovely new office, right next to a favourite local park. So – I’ve been too busy these first weeks of 2015 to post on this blog. I am more than happy to share a fellow astrology blogger’s insights in the meantime. Enjoy this post – and have a trawl round some of the other perceptive astrology posts on Emerging Pattern’s blog. I’ll be back soon!

Anne W's new office

Anne W’s new office

Originally posted on emerging pattern:

Saturn moved into Sagittarius 23.12.2014, so by now we can get an idea what he is going for. In the mundane the terror attack in Paris sticks out for sure, and yesterday, when Mars in Pisces was (and is still) squaring Saturn in Sagittarius, Switzerland surprised the financial world by removing the cap of Sfr1.20 per euro to stop the currency’s appreciation.

On a private level Saturn passed my natal Mercury at 29° Scorpio and is moving towards my natal Neptune at 7° Sagittarius. Depending on house system, both could be placed in 12th house, or Mercury could be still in 11th house. For now it feels like he already arrived in my 12th house.

For more than a week I feel anxious, sometimes almost panic, without an outer reason.

I am busy in my art studio and putting everything into place. My love builds me a fantastic high rack…

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Astrology: Questions and Answers: top posts of 2014…

W0rdpress very kindly  sends us all annual reports on our blogs. I thought my readers might like to see the top posts here for 2014. Do read, re-read, comment, re-comment, email – and most of all, enjoy!

This Wonderful Universe

This Wonderful Universe

(‘Some of your most popular posts were written before 2014. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again’…says WordPress. Well, maybe!)

Thanks to all my readers and Followers!!

It’s been my most enjoyable year yet on ‘Astrology: Questions and Answers’, largely thanks to YOU! Do keep me on my toes with questions, comments and emails in the year to come. A special THANK-YOU to my top commenters and Followers:

  • AND

  • Happy New Year, Everyone!!!
  • Zodiac

    Zodiac

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