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Valens: equal houses not whole signs
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Konrad



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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Mark wrote:
On the other hand in describing houses derived from the Lot of Fortune Valens does seem to be relying on a purely whole sign perspective.


Not according to Valens Bk II. 37, (Schmidt translation pp.79-80):

Quote:
It is needful then, to examine the lots more precisely and to the degree. For often times, the lot falls out in a certain zoidion by the platic consideration, but by the consideration of degree in another zoidion. This results from the degrees of the lights and the Horoscopos, when [they] are found either at the end of beginning of the zoidia.



Deb,

I can't find that passage in Riley's translation, but from memory, that passage is advising us to count the exact degree difference between the Sun and the Moon when calcuating the Lot, rather than signs only.

He has this to say about houses from Fortune (pg34 of Riley's translation):

Quote:
In addition, after finding the Place which has been assigned to Fortune, examine the points square with it and the other aspects, just as with the angles in the natal chart. The Lot itself will be equivalent to the
Ascendant and will mean “Life;” the tenth place from it will be equivalent to MC and will mean “Rank;” the seventh will be the Descendant; the fourth IC. The other places will have the same effects as the <original> XII Places. Some astrologers have mystically hypothesized that the astronomical Ascendant and the points square with it are the Cosmic Angles, while the Lot and the points square with it are the Natal Angles

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zoidsoft



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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Valens used more than one house system depending upon what the technique was which has been clear for some time. When it comes to counting lots and judging topics and judging trigon lords for eminence it appears that he is using whole signs, especially when counting from fortune (personally I think when trigon lords happen to be exactly on an angle by degree, that this adds to the level of eminence particularly if it is also angular by whole sign). You can see this from the examples that Valens gives from both the Riley and Schmidt translations. Now there are places where Valens does use degrees, but it seems odd that there is no mention of degree positions early in the texts when talking about eminence considerations. In the Schmidt translations start at book 2 part 1, pg 33 or the Riley translation on pg 12 of book 2. (the Riley translation I have counts pages continuously to 493 and doesn't start over at each chapter and has some strange duplicated content where Valens describes combinations of 2 planets and 3 planets early on).

*** With Valens it is important to look at what he does in the examples, not just at what he says.

The problem as I mentioned before is the meaning of the word "kentron"in Greek which has 2 principal meanings: one is to goad or prod into action, and the other is "a center of activity where something revolves around". In the first case, it seems that the closer the planet is to the angle, the more "goaded" or "prodded" it is toward action. Schmidt calls this "motivated". In the other case, a center of activity such as an "agora" acts as a place where business can be conducted for a given planet in a guest / host relationship, the important consideration is the casting of rays and whether the domicile/exaltation lord can perform the oikodektor function.

So the answer is does Valens use whole signs or quadrant houses or equal houses? It depends upon what techniques he is using. Schmidt has said that he believes that this is where the confusion of house division originated.
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Deb
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can’t help thinking that the confusion originated with some categoric statements published prematurely, and a lack of distinction between speculation and fact.

If we are talking about a difference in approach between the calculation of the “places” (houses) and that of lots or places from Fortune, then yes I wouldn’t necessarily disagree, noting the comment I mentioned before and the interesting one found in Rileys translation, p.157 (third Para from end), where he explains significant changes in the extent of variation found in charts cast in different climes. But Curtis, you make it sound like it has been proven that Valens used whole sign to judge topics and flipped to another system of house calculation for other reasons – can you provide an example of where we can see him doing that?

If this point has been made before, then it won’t hurt to make it again. The reaction in this thread shows that many astrologers are not aware that Valens gave instruction on how to calculate the houses, and that in the 8th book, his description fits the equal house method, not the whole sign approach which prevents the overlapping of houses and signs in the way that he describes. We can see that this accompanies his detailed explanation, given immediately before the explanation of calculation, on what the topics of each house includes. so I think the text is clear enough for anyone to check it for themselves, and put to bed the idea that Valens simply identified houses from signs, (there being “no problem of house division at all”) or that the judgement of topics requires something other than the calculation he describes for us. Remember he tells us, very clearly that this presents the means by which the topics of the houses can be judged, and shows that he would take note of those rare situations when the houses and signs are closely correlated:
Quote:
With these procedures, the Place can readily be interpreted. If it is calculated that each Place exactly corresponds to each sign in the chart as a whole (a circumstance which is rare), then the native will be involved in confinement, violence, and entangling affairs.

I realise this thread is not likely to make me very popular, but isn't it time we paid more attention to what Valens said, than to what someone else said about what Valens said?
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
I can’t help thinking that the confusion originated with some categoric statements published prematurely, and a lack of distinction between speculation and fact.


When it comes to Greek, everything is speculation. Schmidt has said jokingly that it is a language tailor made for liars... Tongue Out I believe that it was Hand that came out with that statement on whole sign houses. Schmidt has repeatedly stated that these translations are preliminary. Riley also said the same.

Deb wrote:
can you provide an example of where we can see him doing that?


I just pointed out the examples above. Well here are a couple of typical examples from Riley (Book 2 page 12):

Quote:
For clarification of the previous points, we will use examples, taking first a distinguished nativity:Sun in Scorpio, moon in Cancer, Saturn in Aquarius, Jupiter in Sagittarius, Mars in Scorpio, Venus in Libra, Mercury in Scorpio, Ascendant in Libra. Since the birth was at night, I investigate the moon: this happens to be in Cancer, trine with Mars. We find Mars rising just after the Ascendant and in its own house <Scorpio>, triangle <Scorpio>, and sect <nocturnal>. Then we find Venus sharing
rulership with Mars, being in the Ascendant and in its own house <Libra>. Third, we find the moon at MC in its own house <Cancer>. It is obvious that the nativity is distinguished, since the houserulers are configured so appropriately. Investigating the Lot of Fortune, I find it in Aquarius; Saturn is there, the ruler <of> and in <the> Good Fortune, in its own house <Aquarius> and /80P/ triangle <Aquarius>. Likewise the 11th Place from the Lot of Fortune, i.e. the Place of Accomplishment, is <Sagittarius>, and Jupiter is there. I also found the exaltation of the nativity: from the moon to Taurus is eleven signs, and the same distance from the Ascendant in Libra brings me to Leo, in <the> Good Daimon. The sun is the ruler of this and since it is found to be at MC with respect to the Lot of Fortune, it made the birth even more illustrious and distinguished.

Another example: sun, Mercury in Taurus, moon in Aries, Saturn, Mars, Venus, Ascendant in Cancer, Jupiter in Capricorn, the Lot of Fortune and the exaltation of the nativity in Gemini. The native rose from mediocre origins to become a prefect and a governor. Since this was a day birth, I found the sun in the triangle of the moon <Taurus> and its partners, Venus and Mars, at an angle <Ascendant>, the /84K/ Lot of Fortune and the exaltation in Gemini, just preceding an angle (hence the beginning of his life was humble), and its ruler <Mercury> in <the> Good Daimon.


But more particularly can you point out examples where I am wrong? Read Riley's translation of the same examples and tell me where the degrees are listed in regard to those techniques to make this more definitive. If it was important, then shouldn't it seem odd that he didn't make it more explicit, not just once, but over and over again in numerous examples as taken from the Riley translation?

Deb wrote:
If this point has been made before, then it won’t hurt to make it again. The reaction in this thread shows that many astrologers are not aware that Valens gave instruction on how to calculate the houses, and that in the 8th book, his description fits the equal house method, not the whole sign approach which prevents the overlapping of houses and signs in the way that he describes.

...I realise this thread is not likely to make me very popular, but isn't it time we paid more attention to what Valens said, than to what someone else said about what Valens said?


Schmidt said nearly 2 decades ago that the 8th and 9th book are very messed up. Can you make an argument based upon the Greek directly and not from a translation?

I've spent more than a decade reading charts using the Koch houses before Project Hindsight and came to the conclusion that there is significant overlap in house meanings.
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:

I haven't had time to study the mathematics of the passage, but note that Van Hoesen and Neugebaur make reference to the use of seasonal hours, so perhaps this is a source of the Placidus system(?)


I believe that Placido system is based on Ptolemy's chapter on length of life where all the points are calculated according temporal hours and we know that Placidian houses are distant each other 2 temporal hours.
But this only shows that Placido could read Ptolemy.

About Ptolemy I'm quite agnostic, really I don't know. Professor Bezza prefers Placido system, anyway he always quoted Almagest rather than Quadripartite.
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Curtis, the example you gave is irrelevant because it concerns the calculation of a lot - but even if it referred to a radical house, we know that Valens offered generalised examples, whilst reminding of the need to avoid mistakes by taking care to calculate by degree. The only places where he bothers to include degrees is where he is demonstrating techniques that relate to the length of life, and which need that degree of precision for the principle to be understood. So yes, we know that there are many places where he takes (or appears to take) a simple sign=house approach, and we also know that there are places where he demonstrates an approach we see Masha’allah take, where the combined meaning of the houses “by counting” and “by division” are combined; but nowhere do we find him (or Masha’allah) considering that the sign offers the meaning and the house depicts the strength. And, to throw your question back to you, if the calculation of houses according to the principles he explains wasn’t important - or at least known and employed - then why did he make it so explicit? And why would you need it to be shown over and over, as if the principles of equal house division need elaboration?

Also, why do I need to translate Greek in order to point out the patently obvious? It is clear that several areas of the text are “messed up”, but whatever Schmidt’s reasons for not translating the 8th and 9th books, the fact is that an able scholar with a great reputation has. If you dispute the existence of passage in the original text, surely that is something that you can verify easily.

I think it was Robert Schmidt who published a paper suggesting that quadrant division is used to depict power and not employ the meaning of the houses, but I could be wrong on that because I forget the details now. Perhaps you or someone else can clarify - if that suggestion/argument is now dropped, then I'll be happy to be corrected.
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:

I realise this thread is not likely to make me very popular, but isn't it time we paid more attention to what Valens said, than to what someone else said about what Valens said?


saying something like that will make you more popular in my eyes, LOL!

it is a very interesting conversation and one i am trying hard not to participate in, mostly as i don't think i have much to add to it.. i did read rileys translation of valens, but didn't go over it with a fine tooth comb.

how is it going to change anything is my question? i think the suggestion from curtis that different house systems were used for different reasons makes a lot of sense.

what really is the difference between equal sign and whole sign anyway? you are still left with the same rulers for the 12 houses - something that can't be said once you start using house systems that incorporate the midheaven axis having to be the 10th. does anyone using whole sign houses not acknowledge the degree of the ascendant and whether the planet is above or below the ascendant axis as having relevance as to it's meaning? as i understand it both equal and whole sign keep a connection between planet and sign. both acknowledge the degree of the ascendant..

didn't holden put out a book on house systems back in the 80's where he first discussed whole sign houses?

then you have indian astrology where some mention the degree of the ascendant being the middle or center of the house? does that have any connection here to this? perhaps it just re-captures the way i of think of equal and whole sign being much the same.
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would love to answer your points directly James, but I'm babysitting now, out tomorrow and committed next week. So I'm just going to let this thread roll on where it will. (In a nutshell I would say that conceptually the distinction goes deep - do the houses and their meanings originate only from the principles of counting signs, or are they expected to be based on division of the celestial sphere by the angles, with meanings drawn from these and intermediate spaces according to notions of the power or weakness associated with proximity to, or distance from angles).
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
And, to throw your question back to you, if the calculation of houses according to the principles he explains wasn’t important - or at least known and employed - then why did he make it so explicit? And why would you need it to be shown over and over, as if the principles of equal house division need elaboration?


There's nothing there to say that it is equal houses Deb. This is brought up near the end of the text in a different context. If it was so important as the only system he used throughout, then why didn't he bring it out in the beginning where the context was? To say that Valens used only equal houses ignores his statement that when the MC falls in the 9th or 11th, then that topic (topos in Greek) also has to do with praxis.

Deb wrote:
Also, why do I need to translate Greek in order to point out the patently obvious?


Because it isn't obvious. Astrologers have been arguing over house division for millennia because it isn't and if you can make the argument in Greek, then it can be more definitive. Trying to make it over a translation to English already has significant semantic corruption. Perhaps the best course of action is to ask if Riley thinks that the context could be equal houses, but I still think it is more plausible to think that it is whole sign because he uses topics/signs interchangeably in that section on judging trigon lords and where the lords of lots fall. Later in the book, he brings up degrees, but in a different context. Now if you can find an example where the Ascendant falls in Libra (or any other sign) and Mars was said to be in Virgo in the Good Spirit, or in the Goddess in Capricorn then you would have a point that he was in fact dividing up signs for topics. The fact that I've never seen this suggests whole sign is being used in this area.
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Deb
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
To say that Valens used only equal houses ignores his statement that when the MC falls in the 9th or 11th, then that topic (topos in Greek) also has to do with praxis.


Be careful Curtis, I never said that. Feel free to contact Riley yourself if you need his onion on whether that passage describes equal houses or not. In any event, I'm of the opinion that when translators translate, they make the text available to the scrutiny of others with knowledge of those matters and other experience to be pulled upon, they don't retain rights to exclusivity of opinion on whatever implications their translated works present.
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
In any event, I'm of the opinion that when translators translate, they make the text available to the scrutiny of others with knowledge of those matters and other experience to be pulled upon, they don't retain rights to exclusivity of opinion on whatever implications their translated works present.


Then you agree that it depends upon what Valens was trying to do as to which house system he used? It is important to realize that when reading translations that semantic fields are often not exactly correct. I'm not saying that one isn't entitled to an opinion, only that if you have read the Greek that your opinion would become more definitive because you would know when the semantic fields are being stretched to make sense of something that is either in your own mind or if it truly originated in the mind of the author.
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
(In a nutshell I would say that conceptually the distinction goes deep - do the houses and their meanings originate only from the principles of counting signs, or are they expected to be based on division of the celestial sphere by the angles, with meanings drawn from these and intermediate spaces according to notions of the power or weakness associated with proximity to, or distance from angles).


okay thanks deb.

the main problem i see is integrating 2 different axis - ascendant and midheaven.. as i understand it, a time factor( ascension like) is used to arrive at house systems like placidus which integrate the 2 axis.

however if one uses the ascendant axis only to define character, the importance of the ascendant degree and any planets in a close aspect to this degree will have great bearing on the character of the person as i see it. and the relationship between the signs remains intact.. this approach can be taken off the midheaven degree too, but it is in trying to meld these 2 axis together, especially in extreme northern or southern latitudes that creates extreme houses with a few signs intercepted, or one sign taking up a large chunk of zodiac space.. i suppose this is why i think looking at the ascendant and midheaven independent of one another is a better alternative then time based house systems.. the same means of how long it takes for the ascendant to reach the culmination degree is used for most types of primary directions too, but even when this is done - the 2 axis are treated as individual points in the chart and viewed separately..
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

James, there my be merits in what you suggest for astrologers nowadays, but this was of less concern to astrolgers in the regions where the techniques of astrology were developed; and where the symbolic associations of space are known to have been intertwined with the symbolic elements of passages of time.

Curtis, let me set out my own view in my own simple-minded way, without the knowledge of ancient Greek, but with the benefit of decades of exploration of astrological texts translated out of whatever ancient sources I could get my hands on. My interest is not to prove the merits of one house system or another, but to question the still widely spread assertion that the whole sign system is the original, the intentional and effectively the only system of house division employed before the influence of Arabic texts (all references that suggest otherwise to be dismissed, passed over lightly, suspected of being interpolations, or considered “messy”).

For me to suggest that Valens only used equal house division would be conflicting with my interest of not seeing the complexities of ancient astrology simplified into a “final solution” that we are not qualified to make. It would also be an act of insanity, given that I previously commented on his description of quadrant division, and my argument that this was not devoid of meaning for topics of life.

So what we have in Valens is two definite descriptions of house division methods, without clear understanding of how or to what extent they were employed by him. But certainly there is no reason to suppose that they were meaningless in any element of interpretation, for topics of life or not.

The equal house division correlates to descriptions offered by other important sources (Dorotheus, Ptolemy, Firmicus), whilst the reference to quadrant division is attributed to older sources by Valens, and also described in works such as those of Antiochus (dating questioned, on the assumption that such an approach was not used at that time) and Porphyry - this gives at least one demonstration of how the two descriptions offered by Valens might actually be two references to the same method of division: one being idealised the other aiming for greater accuracy. Perhaps, perhaps not. The passage in Valens is interesting in this regard, make of it what you will. I am not in a position to make an authoritative statement, and I don’t believe that – at this point in time - anyone else is in that position either.

This is Schmidt’s translation of the passage from Antiochus Thesaurus I.46:
Quote:
Each of these 12 places obtains as its lot the 5 pre-ascended degrees and the 25 post-ascending degrees, if the squares should occur through ninety degrees. But if they should occur with different numbers of degrees, divide the degrees of the square numbers equally into three third-parts, and you would know how many degrees each place of the zodiac has. For example, if the midheaven should be 96 degrees distant from the horoskopos, the setting will be 84 degrees distant from the midheaven, and the subterranean pivot will be 96 degrees from the setting, and the horoskopos will be 84 degrees from the subterranean pivot point. From these things you will learn what the twelve-turning has for the succeedent [places], by distributing equally to each place the degrees that are in addition to those of a proper square, beginning the addition from the degrees dividing the birth hour and the 5 degrees that have pre-ascended it.


PS - what I said before about Hand goes for Schmidt too. I appreciate that without his labour, it would not be possible to readily draw reference to passages like this. However, I beleive that I am absolutely qualified to contribute to discussion on the origin, development and historical employment of houses and their methods of division.
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A most interesting thread! Deb, may The Force be with you.

You wrote:
Quote:
My interest is not to prove the merits of one house system or another, but to question the still widely spread assertion that the whole sign system is the original, the intentional and effectively the only system of house division employed before the influence of Arabic texts (all references that suggest otherwise to be dismissed, passed over lightly, suspected of being interpolations, or considered “messy”).


Exactly. Historical narrative sources are inherently messy.

A question that I find helpful in close readings of texts is to consider, what was the author's project? What was his motive, or what was he trying to achieve? Notably if he doesn't specify, we can look and see how he put together his text.

Valens was quite the compiler, and a conservative one, at that (in addition to writing a manual for his students.) Contradictions in his work seemed less important to him than retaining a record of different methods. Unsurprisingly we find topics described differently in different places. His editorial mindset is very consistent with Egyptian and Hebrew textual mentalities: conserve everything as potentially valuable.

Scientist and systematizer Ptolemy, in contrast, hardly used houses at all--he mentions just a few, and very sparingly; unlike the other Hellenistic astrologers who referred to sacred texts, adepts, and religious mysteries. It would be just a huge leap to suggest he used whole signs-- or any other (except in one case where 5 degrees into a sign seems important to him.) This makes me think that the origin of houses was originally religious and Egyptian (as Deb proposed in Houses: Temples of the Sky.)

My fledgling thesis is that whole signs were initially a simple default system used when horoscopic astrology first emerged in the 2-3 centuries BCE, but that there were some problems with whole signs which subsequent house systems authors sought to address. However, they did not do so in an orderly fashion.

Houses were not used in Babylonian astrology, so houses developed some time after the introduction of astrology into Greece from Mesopotamia. Babylonian astrology was based on the moon's transits, not the sun, so the definition of houses as pre-determined in static space by a model of the sun's diurnal transits seems very Egyptian to me.

I've looked at the horoscopes interpreted by Neugebauer and his associates, based on archaeological finds, and the majority do not mention a house cusp system. The demotic horoscopes that do mention houses sometimes use Egyptian symbolism, like calling the 4th house the "Dwat" (Duat), the Egyptian name for the hall of Osiris, a major stage in the soul's passage through their afterlife. Several planets were identified as attributes of Horus. I think the "rudder" or "tiller" associated with the first house in some Hellenistic astrology texts stems from the Egyptian barque of the sun.

We find different explanations amongst the Hellenistic astrologers for the strong and weak houses; and particularly very different thematic meanings ascribed to the houses. (The third is the moon, goddess, and brothers; the latter seemingly derived from Gemini as the third sign, to cite just one example.) Manilius (3: 96ff) describes a house system ("athla") based upon lots. This variety would make sense if astrologers did not start out with one unified house system, but with several different house systems that they subsequently thought to weld together.

I think houses initially had a pretty weak affiliation with the rest of the horoscope. Because the stations of the sun (or pharoah or soul) were religious in origin, they needn't be firmly connected to particular degrees.

(to be continued)
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(continued from my previous post)

Let's look at the technology. An early type of horoscope was the "astrologer's board", a fixed zodiac on which gems could be moved around, each symbolizing a different planet. This would suggest a whole-sign system, if houses were used, at all. Apparently the earliest known astrologer's board is from 2100 to 2200 BP, prior to our major textual sources. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/worlds-oldest-astrologers-board-discovered. It would be easiest to use such a board, I imagine, either with no houses or whole-sign houses.

We often find the Hellenists using houses sparingly, even though they give one or more thematic schema. Delineations for which we today might use houses, to them were often determined through planetary relationship or "lots" (Arabian parts.) It is almost as though astrologers initially developed some house-free techniques, subsequent to thinking, "OK, now that we've settled on houses, what do we do with them?"

Here I will display my ignorance, in the hope that someone will help me out, but I actually do not find whole signs to be a very realistic way of dividing up a horoscope-- which is fundamentally a stylized representation of the earth in the cosmos.

I have yet to get my head around how the whole signs system fits the problem that different signs take different amounts of time to rise, depending upon latitude and time of year, which the ancients were well aware of. Confused Regardless of whether degrees represent time or distance, rising sign times do not squish neatly into 30-degree segments.

[I am still puzzled by a horoscope divided into two equal hemispheres, upper and lower, because day and night balance each other with 12 precise hours a piece only at the equinoxes; a problem for any house system. Confused If someone can explain how this works with uniform 30-degree signs I would greatly appreciate it.]

I am also puzzled by why the emerging sun is shown under the horizon (significantly so, for a late degree rising) when the ascendant supposedly represents the sun's position at dawn; thus positioning much of the first house into what seemingly ought to be the 12th house. Similarly, I don't get why the MC should wind up far from the 10th house in a high-latitude birth at certain times of year, when supposedly it relates to the 10th house.

(But Larxene, I think this explains how you could get a first house planet either by day or night, depending upon whether it was above or below the ascendant.)

To me, there is a real unhinging of "hinges", "cardines", angles, &c. from houses in both equal houses and whole signs systems, which is why I wonder if several systems were designed separately and then superimposed. I do understand the "logic" of explaining weak and strong houses as far as it goes, but why it should seem logical to anybody escapes me. (However, you can map it very well onto daily weather patterns in the Egyptian summer, if anybody is interested.)

The ancients had several means for estimating the ascendant, which could then be relatively easily mapped onto the rest of the horoscope in an equal house system. I think at one point Valens says, that one can find the ASC, and count 90 degrees from it to get your MC, in addition to more sophisticated methods.

But neither equal house system really gets at the above problems of the impact of time and latitude on the horoscope, which quadrant systems seem designed to solve.

Porphyry houses make sense, because it is simple enough to walk outside (assuming a flat plane,) identify the points of sunrise, sunset, and the MC simply by looking at the sky, dividing the quadrants by 3, and extrapolating into the lower hemisphere.

It does seem as though whole signs were the "default" house system initially, but that with time, more refinement took place. However, this did not happen in any unified step-by step fashion.

History is a lot messier than tidy schemes for systematization, as Ptolemy clearly realized.
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