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Whole Sign Houses

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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 3438
Location: New Jersey, USA

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 12:41 pm    Post subject: Whole Sign Houses Reply with quote

Good Morning,

I just realized it is afternoon in London and probably tomorrow in Austrailia, but greetings wherever.

Gary asked about whole sign houses on the 12th house thread elsewhere, and I spent a pleasant few hours at a workshop given by Rob Hand on solar returns. Hand uses whole signs exclusively.

For those who might not know, I'll explain whole signs or what used to be called the sign=house system. The MC and ASC are determined in the usual fashion. What we call "houses" were originally called topos or places. Tracing the etymology is a little out of place here, just trust me on this. The first "place" is the the sign of the ASC regardless of what degree the ASC falls on. For example, if the ASC is determined to be 28 Gemini, the first place or "house" is the entire sign of Gemini; the second place is the entire sign of Cancer etc through Taurus. There is no division of the quadrants formed by the intersection of the ASC - MC axis. The places or houses are read in the same way that we read houses in the quadrant system. The native's body is the whole first sign the native's wealth the whole second sign etc. There are no intercepted signs or "five-degree rules." The sign is the house.

I mentioned that Valens used a quadrant system (Porphry) to determine planetary strength and Gary asked for a reference. I made an oblique reference to a booklet written by Rob Hand "Whole Sign Houses: The Oldest House System" (ARHAT). Since the workshop I've begun to re-read this booklet that contains this quote:

... we do have clear references in Vettius Valens and in other places that something like modern houses might be used for another purpose, namely to evaluate the strength or intensity of a planet.

Italics in the original. Hand then cites in a footnote, Vettius Valens, Anthology, Book III, trans. Robert Schmidt

Hand argues that Valens used whole signs for determining the area of life that a planet effects from house placement and the quadrant house system was used for determining planetary strength. For example: If Gemini rises, the entire sign of Gemini is the first house; the entire sign of Cancer is the second house. Let's say Jupiter is posited in late Cancer. If Jupiter is determined to be in the second house using a quadrant system, this would be more beneficial than if Jupiter were determined to be in the third house (cadent) in that system. Evidently it was felt that simply being in the second sign was not enough information to make an accurate judgment of the influence of Jupiter.

The other interesting occurance in whole signs is that the MC doesn't always fall in the 10th sign or place. In quadrant systems, the MC is the 10th house cusp. This isn't true with whole signs. It can fall anywhere, depending on latitude from the 8th to the 12th sign. I mentioned in a previous post both George W. Bush and Tony Blair have their MC in the 9th and 8th houses respectively.

Hand cites the nativities of Edward VII of England and Lenin both of whom had the MC in the 12th sign. Note this puts the IC in the 6th "house" making Edward's parents his enemies (the Greeks apparently used the 6th as the place of enemies) Edward, according to Hand, was kept in the background by his parents, and Lenin's activities (10th sign) as a subversive are well known. I don't know anything about Lenin's relationship with his parents.

The final technique used in connection with whole signs that I'll mention is the use of the lots. The lots are computed in the usual way, but then the lot is used as an ascendant and the chart turned, using whole signs, to tell us about whatever lot we are examining. For example: if the lot of marriage falls in Leo, then Leo becomes the first sign of the marriage and we read the chart not in conection with the native, but with the marriage. The second sign from the lot is the finances of the marriage, etc.

Does this system work "better than" or "the same as" the better known quadrant systems? I don't know. Hand sure thinks so. They do solve a lot of problems and save a lot of math time, but computers have already spared us the math. The intercepted sign problem goes away and the idea that the MC falls into a different "house" adds something to the delineation.

The booklet can be purchased in the US from ARHAT ( It contains a wealth of information and is well worth the $7.95 price. In the UK it can be ordered from for I think 6 pounds.

As I mentioned Hand used this system in his explanation of medieval solar return techniques. I will be posting something about that in the near future. I had two Mercury Rx disasters regarding that talk. One: my tape recorder didn't work very well, but it was at least barely useable, and then I lost the tape. If I don't find it, I'll buy a set from my astrology group and reconstruct my notes.

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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 945
Location: Australia

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just realized it is afternoon in London and probably tomorrow in Austrailia, but greetings wherever.

Actually Tom, I think you'll find that it is today here in Australia, but I believe it is yesterday where you are.

Thanks for posting this information. I have been meaning to ask how the workshop went. I've been thinking about this issue quite a bit over the last couple of weeks. I don't really know enough about it and haven't looked into it much beyond my own chart. I have four planets in the 12th that would all move to the 1st using the whole sign system. However, to me they definitely belong in the 12th house. I don't see this as a bad thing necessarily, just the way it is and a fairly accurate description of events that have happened in my life. And anyone who knows me and knows astrology could probably attest to me being a 12th house Sun type rather than a 1st.

Speaking of Solar Return charts, I could safely say that my most challenging and life changing year so far was a year in which my Solar Return chart had six planets (including the Sun) in the 12th house. Again, in the whole sign system, these planets would all have been in the 1st. I must go back and read the chart in relation to the whole sign system. Maybe I had a better year than I thought I did. Laughing

I really would like to know more about this and look forward to your post regarding Solar Returns. We might have to wait until Mercury turns direct again and you find your tape.

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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
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Location: New Jersey, USA

Posted: Sat Apr 10, 2004 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really would like to know more about this and look forward to your post regarding Solar Returns. We might have to wait until Mercury turns direct again and you find your tape.

Hi Sue,

The tape was lost and now is found. It was in my car under the driver's seat. I put it in my pocket, and promptly forgot about it. When I remembered and pulled it out, a whole bunch of tape had come loose and when I slowly rewound it, some of it was wrinkled and I even spotted a hole or two. Arghhhhh. I'll let you know what happens when I try to play it.

We can start with these two techniques, one of which is found in Gadbury.

1. Gadbury says it will be a "good" year if the ASC in the solar return is the same as the ASC in the nativity. In that way the planets in the nativity will "behave" as though they were meant to behave. If it is a weak nativity, however, the native won't benefit very much.

I suspect if one has late degrees rising in the natal chart, and early degrees of the following sign risng in the SR chart, much the same thing would be true. If, we stick to whole signs, this may not be the case.

SR rising signs that trine or sextile the ASC are also beneficial. Even hard aspects would be beneficial in that the promise of the chart would be apparent, whereas no aspect at all indicates that it is a year of no help or consequence.

2. Hand quoted Schoener and someone else whose name I could not make out at the workshop. There was so much information coming out that I didn't stop him and ask since it seemed less important than the material. In any case, take a look at this technique: Locate, in the solar return chart, the place of the natal ASC. The two are linked for the year. So if Taurus rises in the natal, and Taurus is is located in the 9th place, it indicates a year of journeys or perhaps religious experience or some other 9th house meaning. The same can be done with the rest of the houses. If the natal second sign is in the 10th, we can expect money from 10th house activites, presumably other than our everyday work. Or money wil be highlighted this year.

Hand also went into other things such as the use of the bounds or terms in the SR ASC which I'll get to as I unravel my notes and tapes.

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Joined: 13 Mar 2004
Posts: 17
Location: Yorkshire, UK

Posted: Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:21 pm    Post subject: Thank you Tom... Reply with quote

for the posts here on whole sign house techniques. I appreciate the posts here and on the 12th house sun thread. I haven't had much more time to go any deeper (kids on school holidays) but even glancing superficially I can identify with both charts. I have learned much from the posts in other respects too, funny how we think we're looking for something and it turns out that perhaps we were not looking for that at all, if you know what I mean.

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