Skyscript home page

Herbs & plants attributed to the planets
Table of Culpeper's house meanings in decumbiture
Notes & References
About the Author

by Dylan Warren Davis:

The Hand Reveals

By Dylan Warren-Davis

An Introduction to Decumbiture, part 3, by Dylan Warren-Davis

Part III
House Rulership in Decumbiture

This article examines the use of house rulership in decumbiture. The association of the planets and houses has been underestimated in contemporary practice but was an important issue in traditional astrology. Culpeper described the arrangement in his Judgement of Diseases:

The Sun delighteth in the 4th, 9th & 11th houses.
The Moon rejoyceth in the 3rd and 7th houses.
Saturn rejoyceth in the Ascendant, 8th & 12th houses.
Jupiter rejoyceth in the 2nd, 9th and 11th houses.
Mars rejoyceth in the 3rd, 6th & 10th.
Venus rejoyceth in the 5th & 12th houses.
Mercury rejoyceth in the Ascendant & 6th.[1]

This planetary pattern is composed of the classical order of the planets - Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon - projected through the houses. Saturn is linked with the 1st house, Jupiter the 2nd, and so on until the 8th house, where Saturn begins the sequence again, ending with Venus in the 12th house.

The other associations derive from the planetary 'joys' which can be traced to the work of Manilius. These link Mercury with the 1st house, the house of vitality. The luminaries are associated with the 3rd and 9th house axis; the Sun with the 9th house of God and the Moon with the 3rd house of Goddess. The benefics are associated with the 5th and 11th house axis; Venus with the 5th house of Good Fortune and Jupiter with the 11th house of Good Spirit. The malefics are associated with the 6th and 12th house axis; Mars with the 6th house of Bad Fortune and Saturn with the 12th house of Bad Spirit.

Associations between planets and houses

The importance that Culpeper placed upon this association between planets and houses is demonstrated by his instructions for collecting herbs:

Such as are astrologers (and indeed none else are fit to make physicians) such I advise: let the planet that governs the herb be angular, and the stronger the better. If they can, in herbs of Saturn, let Saturn be in the ascendant; in the herbs of Mars, let Mars be in the midheaven, or in those houses they delight in; let the Moon apply to them by good aspect, and let her not stay in the houses of her enemies. If you cannot well stay till she apply to them, let her apply to a planet of the same triplicity. If you cannot meet that time neither, let her be with a fixed star of their nature.[2]

From these instructions it is clear that Saturnine and Martian herbs are to be collected at times when their planetary rulers are strongly dignified in the heavens by being in the houses they 'rejoyceth' in. This is typical of Culpeper's cryptic instructions, leaving the reader to work out the rest from the principles demonstrated. The general rule is to gather the herb at times when its planetary ruler is dignified in the heavens, so that it contains optimum virtue. Thus a Jovial herb is best collected when Jupiter is in the 2nd, 9th or 11th house, ensuring its strongest virtue.

It is interesting that Culpeper specifically illustrates when to gather herbs of the two malefic planets, indicating the best house for each. Culpeper sees the influence of malefics as potentially damaging to the vital force - Inimical and destructive to this virtue [vital force] are Saturn and Mars[3] - and so gives precise instruction when to gather them, to enhance their effects on the body. Should a Saturnine herb be gathered when Saturn is in the 8th house - of death - it is much more likely to be toxic. Thus the malevolent action is modified when a Saturnine herb is gathered with Saturn in the 1st house - of life and vitality. Similarly, should a Martian herb be gathered when Mars is in the 10th house - of medicine - its potency is most profitably utilized.

Additionally, the co-signification of the houses with the zodiacal signs symbolically connects the 12 houses to the parts of the body, defined in zodiacal man (shown below).[4] The significance of these associations will be utilized and demonstrated in future articles looking at the principal houses of decumbiture.

Herbs and planets attributed to the planets
SaturnBarley, beetroot, comfrey, hemlock, nightshade, spinach, elm tree, yew, pine.
JupiterAsparagus, borage, chervil, cloves, nutmeg, chestnut, lime, maple, oak, sage.
MarsChives, garlic, ginger, hops, mustard, nettles, onion, pepper, radish, rhubarb, tobacco, thistles.
SunAngelica, bay, cedar, chamomile, cinnamon, marigold, rosemary, sunflower, walnuts, citrus trees, ash, juniper.
VenusAlder, birch, burdock, catmint, cowslip, elder, feverfew, foxglove, mallow, mint, sorrel, strawberries, thyme.
MercuryAniseed, carrot, dill, fennel, lavender, marjoram, parsley, parsnip, valerian, mulberry tree, mushrooms.
Moon Cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, lily, melons, poppies, pumpkin, saxifrage, wallflower, willow.

The Houses in Decumbiture

House Rulerships Culpeper says:
1 The first house, connected to Aries, is linked with the head. "Under Aries is the head, and whatever belongs to it … its bones, the face, brain, hair, beard, eyes, nose, tongue, teeth, &c… whatsoever in man is above the first vertebra of the neck"
2 The 2nd house, connected to Taurus, is linked with the throat. "Under Taurus is the neck, throat, the vertebrae of the neck, which are in number 7. The chanel-bone, the shoulder blade... Also Taurus hath signification in the voice; for he will roar like a Bull"
3 The 3rd house, connected to Gemini, is linked with the arms and Shoulders. "Under Gemini are the shoulders, shoulder-blades, arms, hands, fingers, together with their bag and baggage."
4 The 4th house, connected to Cancer, is linked with the chest. "Under Cancer is the breast, ribs, lungs, pleura, the ventricle of the stomach, womens' breasts, the liver, &c"
5 The 5th house, connected to Leo, is linked with the heart. "Under Leo is the heart, the back, and the vertebrae of the breast, which are in number 12; the pericardium."
6 The 6th house, connected to Virgo, is linked with the intestines "Under Virgo is the belly and the bowels, the navel and the spleen, the omentum, and all their appurtenances, &c"
7 The 7th house, connected to Libra, is linked with the kidneys. "Under the Ballance.. .are the reins, loins, and kidneys."
8 The 8th house, connected to Scorpio, is linked with the pelvic organs. "Under Scorpio, are the secrets of both sexes; it is not very fitting for me to name them; the feminal vessels dedicated to the generation of man, the bladder and the fundament"
9 The 9th house, connected to Sagittarius, is linked with the hips arid thighs. "Under Sagittarius are the thighs, the bone called Os Sacrurm... The Rump-bone, the Thigh bone, together with all the appurtenances belonging to the thigh."
10 The 10th house, connected to Capricorn, is linked with the knees. "Under Capricorn are the knees, hams, and what belongs to them."
11 The 11th house, connected to Aquarius, is linked with the calves. "Under Aquarius are the legs and whatsoever belongs to them, even from the outward skin called cuticula, to the midst of the marrow in the bones."
12 The 12th house, connected to Pisces, is linked with the feet. "Pisces claims the feet and ankles, toes and all the bones. Tarsus & Metatarsus... the bones of the toes.. also the skin of the foot, the flesh and vessels betwixt the skin and bones."

Notes & References:

  1 ] N. Culpeper, Astrological Judgement of Diseases, 1651, Ch.9.
Back to text

  2 ] N. Culpeper, British Herbal and Family Physician.
Back to text

  3 ] N. Culpeper, Astrologo-Physical discourse on the human virtues in the body of man, 1653.
Back to text

  4 ] N. Culpeper, Astrological Judgement of Diseases, 1651, Ch.10, pt.4.
Back to text


Dylan Warren DavisDylan Warren-Davis has been practising herbal medicine (naturopathy) for 25 years, qualifying as a prize-winning student with the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (UK) in 1982. Since completing his herbal training, Dylan has researched the lost European metaphysical teachings, upon which Western herbal knowledge is based. He has also been engaged in the commercial production of herbal tinctures and has been a consultant on the manufacturing of herbal tinctures to the herbal industry in Britain. In addition to seeing clients, he is currently promoting glyconutrition in both the UK and Australia. He may be contacted by email at

© Dylan Warren-Davis. Published online July 2006. This article was published in The Traditional Astrologer magazine, issue 3, Winter 1993, pp.14-15, of which Dylan was a contributing editor.

Decumbiture Links