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Ptolemy's Terms and Conditions, by Deborah Houlding

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The planetary rulership of terms has always been a contentious issue. Astrologers such as Ptolemy and Valens recorded the heated disagreements of their time, and demonstrated the differences between competing national ‘systems’. The Egyptian system was predominant in the preserved records of classical astrologers, but by the end of the medieval period its popularity waned as support moved to the table ‘deemed worthy of record’ by the illustrious Ptolemy. Supposed to have been his preferred choice, this was said to have settled all disagreements and to have helped standardize European technique. Even if this were true (it is not) the inconsistency by which the 'Ptolemaic terms' are recorded makes this table the most problematic and controversial of all! What the inconsistencies are and why they exist is the focus of this paper.

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Deborah Houlding is a practitioner and teacher of astrology, specialising in horary, with a particular interest in the history, philosophy and early development of astrological symbolism. She is best known for being the principal of the STA school of traditional horary astrology, the author of The Houses: Temples of the Sky (Wessex 1996), past-editor of the Traditional Astrologer Magazine and publisher of out-of-print astrology texts (Ascella, 1993-2000), and host of the astrology site Her personal website is at

© The article made available on this page is copyrighted to Deborah Houlding and is offered here for private, non-commercial use only. Permission must be sought for any alternate form of circulation or reproduction. Published online November, 2010.