Whole Sign Houses (A Return to Classical Principles)

23 12 2014

hellenistic-astrology-07It was not until I read some classical Hellenic texts that I started to understand classical astrology and its underpinnings. This is a personal post where I’d like to explain in a general way, why I re-discovered the in my opinion now “true” system of astrology which in actual fact makes no differentiation between “houses” and “signs”.

When I used to use Equal house system or another system like Placidus or countless others which have arisen during the Medieval period, I came across in my readings references to classical writers which seemed to confuse the word “house” with “sign”. I would read, something like “the house of Scorpio”, or “if the house on the Ascendant is Aries” and I would wonder why these ancient references were mistranslated or misrepresented.

Something never quite agreed with me though, while using “modern” which really is medieval astrological theory. The idea that a house is “in a sign” or in two signs which is the normal case. For example your 1st house is part Scorpio and part Sagittarius, so in theory your body is part short and part tall, you are part obsessive and part freedom loving. No. This didn’t make sense to me though there is plenty of room for contradiction in the human soul. An object can be half painted red and half painted black, this underlies the theory and allows for the astrologer to accept it. But one which I believe to be a sullying or muddling of hierarchical classical purity.

However, going back, through these texts, I didn’t find that houses were separate entities from signs. I didn’t see signs as colours and houses as the actual objects to use that analogy. I found that the sign rising was in fact the house rising. I found that with Ascendant in Virgo I was Virgo rising, never mind that it was in the last decan and that libra was supposedly also in my “1st house”. My first house was itself Virgo, I was a Virgin, not part Virgin part married, one or the other.

The discovery of how I realised that the classical astrology based on whole sign houses made perfect sense, is not important. What is important in this piece is that I relate to you how I see this system as more sensible than any of the other systems which have come later. Questions still remain in my mind about last degree Ascendants or last degree planets, but intuition seems to lead me to the answers for these questions which I will address before finishing this piece.

To illustrate the simplicity of the whole sign system, I pick a well-known chart of someone whose fame unlike pop stars or minor politicians will last for centuries to come. Mahatma Gandhi’s chart is Libra rising with Sun placed a number of degrees before the Ascendant. ASC at about 26 Libra, and Sun at about 9 degrees Libra. To the medievalist or modernist who may use placidus or equal houses or any other which separates “house” as distinct from “sign”, Gandhi has Sun firmly placed in the 12th house. Sun signifies authority, and power, and ubiquitous fame. There are obviously other reasons why the man became who he was, yet this is just one example to demonstrate the reasonableness behind whole house system. Gandhi has Libra rising, and Libra Sun, this means he is a double Libra. On the horizon in his nativity, is Sun in Libra, shortly after Sunrise. Why should the one work against the other? No, they don’t. Sun in Libra does not undermine Libra rising, it reinforces it giving it power and authority. Gandhi’s fame and authority will live on through centuries not just as a man who founded the most populous democracy, but as a man of peace (Libra) whose quotes and pictures are ubiquitous, and whose influence is everywhere. The fact is a 12th house Sun would signify a person disgraced, imprisoned, and who suffers either infamy or being hidden away from the public eye. In whole houses Gandhi has a 1st house Sun in Libra, and he is known world over as a man of peace.

In contrast you take two recent politicians who have 12th house Sun (whole house) GW Bush and Tony Blair, these men had power through other means, Bush through Pluto & Mercury rising, and Blair through Mars rising, yet these men, though famous and possibly popular in their election years, are in fact only a few short years later branded fairly widespread as men who “made mistakes” one is popularly referred to as a war mongerer, and the other is branded a liar. Their deeds are known as mistakes, and their motivations are criticised for being selfish, though success is attributed to other areas of their charts, in whole house their Suns are both 12th house and though they are free men, and successful men, their fame is mixed nevertheless with infamy, with rather massive mistakes, with duplicity, lies, and secret deals.


These examples give an introduction to the reasoning behind whole houses. Yet they are not the business area. The system is based on the idea that the actual constellation on the Eastern horizon is the first house, and any planet in that sign is in the first house. It’s too simple isn’t it. It is that simple. Hellenic Astrology uses trigon lords which are the triplicity lords as well as the house rulers. In Gandhi’s chart 1st ruler is Venus, and lord of his Sun is also Venus. The condition of Venus is important, but what is of more importance in this system is that ASC and Sun act as one unified whole, Venus essentially taking the decisions for both.

In Whole Sign system, the 1st house may be partly below the horizon or partly above, it may be almost completely below or almost completely above. Another question which bugged me before was “why does Sun below the horizon mean strength and Sun just having risen mean bad news and weakness?” Sunrise is surely the beautiful moment which you can watch and feel a sense of awe and happiness at the birth of a new day. The Sun having just risen is a beautiful moment when it is in the same sign which is on the distant horizon, when a different sign begins to dominate the horizon this is when the Sun no longer is in the same house, and thus enters the 12th, because you have two distinct energies which are different signs which are semi-sextile and of different triplicities.

“House” and “Sign” are one. There is no difference. The first house is the sign which is rising on the Ascendant, the Eastern horizon. The second house is the sign which follows, so the system is truly simple. The Midheaven is an important point but the tenth house is the tenth sign from the Ascendant, the sign which is 90 degrees anticlockwise.

When observing transits whole sign houses make perfect sense. A planet changing signs changes its energy completely, it therefore makes sense that this changing planet coming under the disposition of another planet or into its own domicile may be considered to be in the domain of the planet which rules that house and therefore it is in that same house. Say Pisces is on the Descendant in a chart, yet although Neptune is two decans below the horizon, once Neptune has entered Pisces, the energy of Neptune is aligned with the energy of the Descendant, it comes under the trigon lord Mars and the domicile of Jupiter, or if you are so inclined Neptune is its own house. The chart then denotes Neptune figures being allowed in through the door by the lord of the 7th Jupiter, and therefore Neptune is welcomed fully into the 7th house, the wife in this example may be a buoyant Jupiter type, yet she has Neptune in her domain, in her house, making her take on some of the Neptune characteristics, namely artistic rendering of reality.

Tight applying aspects are of importance, these aspects describe events and facts, successes and failures. Yet, under the Hellenic theory, which underpins whole sign houses, it’s possible to observe that, the greater influence is brought about through the energy of the signs involved, so that any planet being placed in Libra is really working on the same level as any other planet in Libra, since they are in the same house and concerned with the same problems in love.

Planets which are close to the Sun yet in another sign are not said to be combust. The reason for this is that the Sun is dominant over the energy of the sign it’s in, with the extent of its orb of about 15 degrees. A Libra Sun will dominate the house it is in, though Venus may hold the key, she must do as Sun insists mitigated only by her essential strength or weakness, If another planet happens to be combust in Libra, then Venus controls that planet through Sun’s authority, yet if that planet slips into Scorpio, then it comes under the protection of Mars, and therefore out of Sun’s influence. Being in the next sign is synonymous with going next door, going into the next “house”.

If a house happens to be empty, how does anything get done? Of course the analogy may be the same as in medieval interpretation, the house has a lord which does the business of that house in another house. The classical whole system houses that I present here confront the medievalist (modernist) with a rather embarrassing question: “If Virgo rises yet Libra is also in the 1st house, which is the lord of this house? Mercury, or Venus?” Obviously only one person can be in charge. The career of a person is one thing at a time, unless that person has Gemini in the 10th, yet it is still just one planet, Mercury which is conducting the affairs of that 10th house. Mercury conducts the affairs on behalf of the Gemini 10th house, and anything that transits Gemini visits the house of Mercury, and any aspects to Mercury natally or by transit will support the house which Mercury rules, the house of Gemini, which happens to be the 10th sign in that example.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: