home articles forum events
glossary horary quiz consultations links more

Read this before using the forum
View memberlist
View/edit your user profile
Log in to check your private messages
Log in
Recent additions:
Can assassinations be prevented? by Elsbeth Ebertin
translated by Jenn Zahrt PhD
A Guide to Interpreting The Great American Eclipse
by Wade Caves
The Astrology of Depression
by Judith Hill
Understanding the mean conjunctions of the Jupiter-Saturn cycle
by Benjamin Dykes
Understanding the zodiac: and why there really ARE 12 signs of the zodiac, not 13
by Deborah Houlding

Skyscript Astrology Forum

Polar houses
Goto page Previous  1, 2
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Forum Index -> Nativities & General Astrology
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 23 Nov 2009
Posts: 1402

Posted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ruud66 wrote:
If I read through everything you say, I can’t escape the feeling that we actually agree on 95% of the ideas we have each brought to the discussion. And many of the “disagreements” are simply due to us coming from a completely different direction and misunderstanding or misinterpreting each other.

I think you're probably right, I hope so anyway. We may end up legitimately disagreeing rather than confusing one another, but so be it if so, it's still great to have these discussions with someone who has really thought through the issue of houses and I'm sure I'll learn a lot either way.

I gracefully bow for your superior knowledge on the history of astrology and will try not to say any more stupid things on the subject.

I'll likewise bow to your superior knowledge of the astronomy involved and so if I say something stupid I just hope you'll correct me on it and be patient! Nothing stupid at all about the history of the houses, I think the most honest thing we can say for definite on the history of the houses and their origins is that we don't know much about the history of the houses nor their origin! We're left to infer and suppose.

I’m actually quite curious if you know of other astrologers who have tried to say something fundamental on this subject. And I’m equally curious how your own thoughts are evolving about this.

Almost everything I have read on the issue of the houses in the poles, and to a great extent that includes this conversation, has focused principally on the issue of calculation. How easy or difficult or impossible it is to calculate a given house system in the polar regions. I'm pretty fascinated by the houses and their origins but also how and why astrologers use the houses. What has become obvious to me from simple informal surveys I've done both in person and on facebook, is that people overwhelmingly stick to the house system they were first introduced to by their tutor. Now sticking to the system is not because their tutor used it, but they've stuck with it because "it works" and it does so well. So there's an empirical quality to the houses at least from a phenomenological perspective amongst astrologers for why they use or adopt a house system. Outside of that there are other 'rationales' for using a house system: a common one is the notion that "you have to use Regiomontanus for horary" or "Koch houses are empirically proven by the Huber school" or "Topocentric houses were empirically discovered by Polich and Page" or "Whole signs are the oldest house system and originally intended house system". I personally find a huge amount to question on all of those issues. But equally common, and perhaps increasingly common, is the notion that whole and less commonly equal, somehow solve some issue at the poles, and that this is inherently meaningful symbolically to certain astrologers: it connotes an objectivity to the astrologer, my house system works everywhere and that beats one which only works some of the time.

It is in light of that very backdrop that I created that animated image to show how ignoring entirely the MC or the 'problem' of the poles can lead to unexpected outcomes - the idea was to break into this "whole is totally unaffected at the poles" idea. Now that idea derives from a focus on calculation alone. I have not seen any article or any astrologer talking about the houses in terms of conceptual or philosophical considerations, or even just describing in plain english what is happening with the houses. They tend to be formulaic and focussed on calculation which doesn't tell me, as an astrologer, what really is the philosophical distinction between them.

For example, as a simple idea, I might distinguish between something like Regiomontanus which is a division of the equator into 12 hour circles and so recognise that in Regiomontanus we indirectly have a division of time, but time in this way of thinking, is measured by the equator, and if we realise a day is a full turning of the equator so a point on the equator marks out a full circle, then we can see that the equator becomes a proxy for the diurnal rotation of the earth, and so the regiomontanus divisions of the equator are basically like dividing up a 24 (more or, in this case, less) period spatially. Now the houses come in by projecting those 12 hour circles into a way that's phenomenologically meaningful to someone with a local sky and local horizon, rather than for every latitude, and so they're projected through a point on the horizon directly south (or north). Whilst this may not inform me entirely about what's going on with the houses, we've suddenly moved away from "regiomontanus is for horary".

That's a great deal of where my interest in houses lies and exploring and demystifying them and equally unpacking the claims that are made for houses so we're not being held back by this kind of limited thinking. In some ways I recognise you as a kindred spirit in that regard, at the very least in regards another common house system trope: "placidus houses cannot be used at the poles".

Recently, and part of where my original graphics here emerged from, a major focus of mine has been ideas which I've come across recently that whole sign houses are the *intended* house system in ancient times, whole sign houses (and equal) solve the *problem* of the houses at the poles, and also that whole sign houses model Gauquelin data. Obviously I'm dealing with one of those three things here, but just to provide some context and background because perhaps some of my posts have had this context in the backdrop, but invisibly and so may very easily lead to confusion or mixed assumptions.

Now not too long ago I made what I hope is a fair stab at trying to explain the major houses in a way that is meaningful for people with little to no mathematical or astronomical knowledge - I suspect you will find issue with some of what I say, but nevertheless here it is:

What I hope comes across is the focus of trying to make greater awareness of what the houses are doing conceptually and philosophically and why someone might warm to one or other, or find that one meaningful as opposed to another, without worrying about calculation at all - this is something I feel really lacking in the astrological community.

Paul wrote:
I hope it's not controversial to say that as the zodiac models secondary motion of the planets and points etc. through the celestial sphere, that the houses are chiefly about modelling primary motion of those planets and points etc. through the mundane sphere.

I think this was our first point of disagreement. I must say that I can move in your direction. Yes, most house systems model primary motion.
The point of reaction that I made was that most house systems incorporate the primary motion in their design in an inconsistent way.

Right, I think an area we may have had our wires crossed on here is that I'm not implying that the house system itself is modelling primary motion itself, but rather that the houses provide a frame of reference for apparent planetary movement just like the zodiac does, but does so by referencing primary motion where the zodiac references secondary motion. In other words if I needed a measurement system or a quantum of division to monitor or track secondary motion, a zodiac sign provides the answer, to some extent, to that question. To a similar (and similarly limited) extent, the house is a quantum of measurement which references the position of the planet whose position itself changes via primary motion. I hope this makes more sense.

Now some house systems, like Placidus, have primary motion somewhat baked into the actual conceptualisation or computation of the divisions themselves, whereas something like Campanus does not, and I wonder if you had this in mind where I had the other thing in mind. Really I was trying to find a description that was broad enough so that all the house systems could fall into it, in other words what are houses broadly rather than specifically, and for me they're a referencing frame for the snapshot of a planet or point in its journey along primary motion at a given moment of time.

There are of course other definitions, and this is just one. With that in mind...

But do Equal and Whole signs model primary motion? I don’t know. How can we be sure?

So hopefully I'm clearer now, but I'm not saying the house systems themselves are models of primary motion (actually I did say exactly that but perhaps we mean different things by that), but rather that the position of a planet because of primary motion is one thing that the houses can reference. In other words if the primary motion of a planet is to rise culminate and set, then the houses, whether they do it accurately or to what extent they do it, they all break up the mundane sphere and divide it so that a planet can conceptually be said to pass through the houses in a 24 hour (or slightly less) period of time and as that motion of movement in a 24 hour period is due to primary motion, the houses 'model' or perhaps better put, reference, that primary motion-based position.

Now even whole and equal do this, but of all the house systems perhaps whole is one of the weakest or less clear about this, but nevertheless, even if only broadly or even if lacking exactitude, you know something about the position via primary motion of the Sun if I tell you it's in the first house and if I tell you another one is in the 10th.

The way they model primary motion is unrelated to the actual movements of the celestial sphere. This is the point that Wackford made in his article “It's the Oblique Sphere Stupid!” where he criticises the house circles used in the Campanus and Regiomontanus systems.

Do you mean this:

Or is there a longer version somewhere? I don't see him mention Campanus at all.
I'll come back to this idea of the oblique sphere and the 'actual' movements of the sky a bit later as it deserves more unpacking and has more relevance to subsequent points you have made.

Maybe you could say that this is ample evidence. However, the early astrologers lived in the Middle East and in Southern Europe, where the ecliptic is always close to perpendicular to the horizon.

Right, but they also had different 'klimes' and were cognisant of the impact upon rising times and so on that these klimes implied, so they knew that at different latitudes that the signs rose at varying times, and they employed the Babylonian system of rising times to achieve this (often muddying up System A with System B or not being clear on the distinction). But what this shows us is that they were aware that latitude affects rising time, and they were equally casting charts at these latitudes. Some evidence indicates that at least some charts were cast in France, and if you think about it, Baghdad for example, has a latitude of 33º, and Rome, a principal power in the Hellenistic world, has a latitude of 41º. So I think that we might be open to the idea that they've seen houses fairly distorted even on this evidence. But we have textual evidence that they were aware of it even from our earliest sources - several astrologers, for example Vettius Valens, describes how the MC can fall in the 9th or 11th sign. So the concept is there, whether they applied that to the poles theoretically I don't know, perhaps Ptolemy may have understood it best, he certainly wrote extensively on geographical latitude.

Were the ancients not confusing one way of domification with another?

That's possible, it's also possible more than one philosophical tradition came together to form the houses as we know them, so trying to solve the issue by only one would always pose challenges. My own personal opinion is that whole sign houses can be imagined or likened to a whole sign aspect - in a whole sign conjunction any planet or point is conjoined any other planet or point in that sign and then the two planets/points co-mingle in various ways. The division of that application is the sign itself, similarly if you had a planet or planets and a point, in this case a house cusp (imagining it for a moment as just a point), then your whole sign house could in fact be just any degree based cusp where it falls in a sign. My own thinking is that the evidence more readily reflects this than anything else, but this is controversial and I'm inviting critique or even hysteria by suggesting it!

If we adopt the viewpoint that the whole signs system is just the zodiac, but turned in such a way that the rising sign is the starting point, then we don’t need the MC or nonagesimal in the construction of this system

Agreed, but then this is precisely my frustration when it comes to discussion of the viability of the houses, they always focus on the calculation alone, as though provided we can calculate a thing, we somehow infer that we understand it. Precisely the illusion that I think is created by this is that people think that the only problem when it comes to houses, particularly houses at the poles, is whether or not you can calculate them. When I said earlier about the 'problem' of the poles, the problem people assume is one of calculation, the problem I have however is actually one of application and symbolic meaningfulness.

If the houses do not derive their meaningful qualities or symbolism from anything astronomical, and are merely numerical abstractions along the zodiac from some fiducial point, then why don't the signs and houses correlate more strongly through history. In other words why doesn't Capricorn, the 10th sign, have traditional associations of height, fame, achievement and recognition? Modern astrologers do this via the astrological alphabet, but for the most part classical astrologers didn't. The exception to this is for direction or location, where houses and signs really do overlap. But there's nothing particularly meaningful about 4 which leads us to get signification of buried treasure, things under the earth, hidden things, etc. - those significations must come elsewhere. If not for the fact that the 4th house is literally under the earth, is the most 'under the earth' part of the sky etc. then what?

Similarly the moment we start naming our houses for their astronomical relevance then I think we can see even more evidence that this astronomical perspective is rooted right in the houses from the very beginning - the ascendant is the ascendant not because ascendancy is related in some abstract, perhaps pythagorean, way, to the number 1, but because its astronomically the point of ascension. I was actually meaning to play with that very idea in my graphic where I have a "descending ascendant" to try to really shock the complacency of our thinking to really recognise the absurd and in so doing be forced to admit that it's the ascendant for an astronomical reason - it's the part of the sky that is literally ascending. Likewise, it's the descendant for an astronomical reason. It's the "mid heaven" for an astronomical reason etc.

So the idea of "well you don't need an MC in whole sign calculation" kind of misses the point for me. It's not about calculation, it's about recognition of what exactly it is we're calculating here. And if we're not mindful, then we can easily run afoul of the astronomical issues at stake in the polar regions precisely because the houses are, in my view, intrinsically modelling/referencing/framing/etc. the primary motion of the planets which has astronomical relevance, and, particularly for whole sign houses, not just the planets but the signs are affected by the astronomical issues at the poles. No matter what way we want to argue this, I think it's inarguable that issues of cadency, angularity and so on go out the window at the poles, and despite having no inherently obvious 'cardine' (or pivot or thing around which something moves which the original words used by ancient astrologer connote) in whole sign houses, they, if nothing else, contain the equal house angles which really do have a cardine or fulcrum of pivoting. If your whole sign house can jump 6 houses in a heartbeat with no intermediary houses involved, we have a problem - in a way the problem is exaggerated in whole sign houses in my opinion.

The real issue is that if you don't realise what's going on at the poles then you will utterly ignore this. The problem isn't calculation then. But because quadrant users are more aware of the problem (in fact they may get the problem rammed down their throats) they tend to be more mindful. It's left to the whole sign house astrologers (and equal) to make the faux pas of assuming the problem at the poles is entirely a calculation one and ignore all the implications of the poles and go about their business as usual, safe that these issues are for the Placidus house users to be embarrassed about and deal with.

This is really what I want to highlight and draw attention to. And an example of this is the MC and how we want to define - the reality is that for temperate latitudes the MC is both the point furthest south, as well as the culminating point above the horizon, and these defining features can be mutually exclusive at the polar regions, so depending on which way your computer program decides the MC should be, your whole chart could be really quite inaccurate. This is why I said earlier that "the definition of the MC is an important factor in determining how we imagine the houses in general" - note what I'm not saying, I'm not saying it's an important fact to calculate the houses.

I'll have to respond to the rest of your points in a future post - this one already is pretty lengthy and took me some time to write up and hopefully articulate myself a bit better. I think we'll probably start to at least recognise our arguments a bit better if nothing else, even if we ultimately still agree to disagree on certain things. Either way it's still good to be able to have this kind of dialogue!
"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing" - Socrates
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 23 Nov 2009
Posts: 1402

Posted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This distinction between two ways of domification is also the basis of my use of the terms static and dynamic and why I put more emphasis on that than you do. Either you view the house system dynamically as modelling the primary motion and therefore viewing everything in relation to the entire diurnal cycle of the earth’s rotation, or you view the house system in a static way by making a snapshot of the sky and go on from there.

Actually I wonder if you can expand on this more because to be honest the reason I don't put emphasis on this is that I don't necessarily see the houses as being one or the other, but that all houses are both. This may be related to what I highlighted in my previous post about the houses modelling primary motion, by which perhaps a better way to say it would be to reference primary motion or encapsulate primary motion.

Really I kind of see all the house systems as modelling/referencing the primary motion of the planets/points, and this very motion is dynamic, and all the idea of movement to or from something is equally dynamic, and no less equally can be evidenced in all the house systems - they all refer to succedent and cadent houses etc. as modelling whether planets move to or from the angles.

But the horoscope is just a snapshot of time, so just as we can infer something about the dynamic movement of the planets through their orbits via modelling them or referencing them along the zodiac, and just as that reference point is static for the 'frozen moment of time' of the horoscope, likewise for the houses with regards primary motion rather than secondary. At a given moment of time the planet is not moving, but the houses model the movement nonetheless by telling us whether at that moment in time the planet is moving to or from an angle.

Maybe I'm still not grasping this static vs dynamic distinction all that well because I sort of feel an argument could be made for nearly all the houses as being both static and dynamic. I think it's not that I take one view or the other, but that when I consider houses I consider them as being static in one instance, and dynamic in another - again this difference could be due to issues of calculation though so I would be grateful if you could expand on this more perhaps listing more specifically what makes Regiomontanus for example not dynamic. I'm trying to get my head around whether it's a sense that arcs or some kind statically divide up the sky and the ecliptic just cuts through them at various angles/inclination so something like Campanus and Regiomontanus (your examples) would be static in that context. If so it's not what you describe when you say about shifting perspectives from how something moves (dynamic) to where something is (static). Surely all the houses, to some limited extent, tell us both?

But if what I think static means in your approach is correct, what is dynamic? Porphyry? Or is it not because it's about where something is rather than how it moves? I'm not sure what the 'it' is perhaps, is it a planet in the house? Or is it the house cusp itself - maybe this is my confusion.

An additional consideration is that when I think of most (not all) house systems I imagine great arcs in the sky which are static in teh sense that for a given observer at their horizon etc. that the arcs are not moving. Instead the ecliptic cuts those arcs at different angles and inclinations throughout the day as the points of the ecliptic move east and west, but also as it gains and loses altitude cyclically.

House systems I would suggest have this kind of feature are probably principally Campanus, where the the space around the observer is divided up and projected out and remains stationary, and in this way of thinking, static, for the observer. And yet the dynamism comes not from these arcs of division of the mundane sphere, but the where the celestial sphere and particularly the ecliptic, meets that mundane sphere, and you have the apparently disproportionate 'houses' because we're modelling something real world which operates across more than one plane.
Similarly if you imagine Regiomontanus to be great hour circles which, rather than shoot off the equator and converge upon the earth's poles, instead shoot off and intersect with the north/south poles along the horizon (the pole of the prime vertical), and then, having done so, shoot off again like a the spokes of a lady's fan. Again the house cusps are where those 'spokes' hit the ecliptic, but again, for that observer, the spokes themselves (to tire this analogy) never move, in this sense they're static and dynamism is again via the ecliptic rising and falling etc.
Placidus likewise has great arcs, though less straightforward to conceptualise, and as I understand it and conceptualise it, these arcs are likewise stationary for the observer. Am I incorrect on this? I understood one of your posts to be in agreement with that.

If you look at it from that point of view, all these houses are formed from static divisions of the mundane sphere, albeit ones which are sometimes abstracted.

I think it's because of issues like this that I struggle to really see the distinction between something as being static and dynamic in the context of the houses.

One plane of measurement or viewpoint precludes the use of other ones within the design of one particular system of houses. What I meant is that you must adhere to only one point of view in the design of a house system. I have a problem with most quadrant house systems, because they use two unrelated points of view of the mundane sphere and fudge them together in their design.

But is that a problem of the houses or a problem of trying to model a 3D moving image into a 2D stationary image?

So do almost all other quadrant systems. Only Placidus and Campanus of the quadrant systems, produce house sectors in two dimensions on the celestial sphere that are always of equal area. That’s what I meant. Maybe symmetry is the wrong word?

Right, but why is equal are a requirement? I'm not sure I'm following this. Surely equal division is enough? In other words taking, say, Regiomontanus, if I divide up the equator evenly, it's not that I've somehow picked and chosen that some divisions be larger than others, the only reason that these equator divisions are now no longer represented in equal space along the mundane sphere is that for my location there's a kind of foreshortening effect precisely because my location is extended away from the equator. Is this really a problem with Regiomontanus calculation or is it just a faithful representation of the fact that we have to convert 3D space into 2D and still make sense of the apparent difference in space of the mundane sphere divisions. As an analogy, consider the signs of long and short ascension - the division of the zodiac is even, but a kind of foreshortening effect causes them to not appear to be even. I take a similar kind of allowance for the quadrant divisions - I don't see it as being a weakness of the system if the system is trying various ways of dividing up a kind of phenomenological experience of not just space but also snapshots of time within a 3D sky but flattening it to 2D. Perhaps this is because I see the houses much like I might imagine a pie-chart or the comparative different starting points of runners on a race track. The fact that we have latitude off the equator and also away from the tropic of cancer means the sky is like a distorted lens anyway - if we go outside we won't necessarily be able to visualise the equal division of say the ecliptic precisely because of that distortion, if other house systems try to counter-distort that by making it appear more visual or have effects similarly distorted for similar reasons, then I don't see this as a problem personally.

I lost you here. Are you saying this is therefore irrelevant? I tried to explain a philosophical point that choosing your perspective in the design of a house system, automatically has implications on the way you can use this system in astrological interpretation

I'm not saying it's irrelevant, just highlighting that the first two 'guidelines' pertained directly to qualities essentially derived from the house system itself - its symmetry and so on. Whereas the the 'correspondence' isn't so much about the house system as opposed to a guideline on the use of that house system (or misuse perhaps). It's not that this isn't relevant or meaningful, but it really leads me with nowhere to go as I don't want to imagine that I would tell astrologers what they should or shouldn't do with their houses beyond perhaps understand what their system means. I'm just hesitant because I fear it would lead to some kind of policy policing or even concept policing. Whilst I agree with using different systems, I don't necessarily agree that one must use a different system for a different purpose - unless I misunderstand what you have in mind with 'purpose'. I'm aware of people who say that to do horary you need to use Regiomontanus, to do this technique you must use that house system etc. and whilst I can see where that has a place in some limited application where the technique is astronomically meaningless, most such techniques and ideas are symbolic or ideological rather than purely astronomical.

This is what I mean when I say it shifts from houses to astrologers, because I think it's a more subjective realm and there's therefore limited things that I personally could say on it and still want to allow astrologers to hold opinions different to me, whilst still say objective things about the houses broadly or specifically. You imply a similar thing yourself when you say "How astrologers actually use this, is up to them and not for me to prescribe".

I may have missed some things, I'll go back over our conversations again and see if I left anything major out.
"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing" - Socrates
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Forum Index -> Nativities & General Astrology All times are GMT
Goto page Previous  1, 2
Page 2 of 2

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
. Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

Contact Deborah Houlding  | terms and conditions  
All rights on all text and images reserved. Reproduction by any means is not permitted without the express
agreement of Deborah Houlding or in the case of articles by guest astrologers, the copyright owner indictated