Choosing Your House System in Astrology
There are over 30 filters, or ways of seeing your world, in astrology. The 30+ house systems divide the circle up differently, so that the 12 areas of life ruled by the 12 signs, contain one planet or another. This is why astrologers use completely different systems, based on all they know and trust.
It is very common for astrologers to drop one house system, and replace it with another, as they grow older. Robert Hand famously did this, as the astrology chart he used for himself back in 1976 with his classic book Planets In Transit, has been replaced by a Whole Sign house system later in life. Seventies Mr. Hand is not Twenties Mr. Hand. Nor is his future.
This makes sceptics start frothing at the mouth, but astrologers play with reality all the time, by switching house systems.
I started out with Placidus, because that was commonly taught in Britain (and my old Eighties Liz Greene computer chart used Placidus). I ditched Placidus and replaced it with the Natural House System some years later, and that is what I use on this website for you today. I’ll talk about that more at the end of this feature, and how you can do it too. In fact, if you come along to this Zoom talk on 1st March, you’ll be trying the experiment with other astrologers too.
The Oldest House System in Astrology
Given that a horoscope translates as ‘time observer’ or ‘time observatory’ the oldest horoscopes in existence are made of stone. People watched the sky and used stones to mark what they saw with the visible Sun and Moon, in what are known as megaliths. The most famous megalith is Stonehenge. In fact, Stonehenge predicts eclipses.
In Turkey, we have a stone time observatory that is 12,000 years old. It’s called the Gobekli Tepe. Figures on one stone may show a zodiac constellation.
Archeologists may turn up an older stone circle somewhere. Meanwhile, the cuneiform tablets stored in museums around the world, are only just starting to give up their secrets. These come to us from Babylon and it has only been this month, February 2023, that the Electronic Babylonian Literature Project has begun to decode (with artificial intelligence) 300,000 lines of text.
This horoscope, below, is by Virgil Master, dated around 1405. Is it the best? No. It was the best for Virgil. Is the Stonehenge lunar time observatory (the 56 Aubrey Holes in the ground) the best, because it’s even older than Monsieur Master’s wheel? No. It was the best for those women, who were likely predicting their periods with it, or childbirth. Perhaps the tribe needed to know who the father was. Well, give me a better reason to dig 56 pits in that hard Stonehenge earth!
When Libra Went Missing
Not a lot of astrologers talk about the rather embarassing fact that Libra went missing in horoscopes once. Romans had two Scorpios instead. No wonder Ancient Rome was inspiration for Robert Graves and I, Claudius. Not to mention Caligula.
The zodiac had only 11 signs in antiquity, until it was corrected as Julius Caesar ascended. This is fascinating from an astrologer’s point of view – could we argue that with the arrival of Libra the scales of justice, fairness and equality, that the Scorpio in Rome, was reduced? And the Scorpio in Romans?
Libra used to be called Chelae. The claws of the scorpion. You can still see the old Chelae on some vintage maps and globes. This is the Mercator Globe by Gerard Mercator 1512-1594, harking back to the glory days of Rome when Scorpio hogged a couple of spaces on the circle and held the scales of Libra in its claws. (Image: Alamy).
Using Two House Systems
Using two house systems is common with professional astrologers. My friend and colleague in Sun Sign astrology, Susan Miller, uses two. One for birth charts and one for public sun sign forecasting. You will sometimes see me talking about ‘public chart and private chart.’ Your public chart uses the Solar Sign or Solar House System and uses your Sun Sign on the cusp of the First House, counting around in order, giving 30 degrees to each sign. Everyone knows your sign. It’s public. So, public chart – it shows the headlines of your life.
The back story is your natal chart or birth chart. Only you and maybe a parent or midwife know the time you were born. Even, the place you were born. Maybe you don’t even give your birthday out, except to an astrologer. That natal chart can use any one of 30+ house systems, as I’ve mentioned. Susan Miller uses Placidus and Solar.
Another friend and colleague, Deborah Houlding, uses Regiomontanus – just one system. I’ve worked with Deborah often at our Astrology and Tarot Meetups in New York, London and Sydney. I use a couple of whole-sign house systems at those events. Deborah works with horary astrology, based on what she calls ‘Regio’ which has always worked well for her.
Ancient Astrology and Modern Astrology Systems
The mysterious sign ‘Chelae’ persisted long after the Romans had gone. Here you can see the scorpion again (SCORPIVS) holding Libra in its claws. So should you be using a horoscope without Libra and double Scorpio? The Secret Zodiac: The Hidden Art in Mediaeval Astrology (Fred Gettings, Arkana, 1987).
This, below, is a photograph of a twelfth-century roundel from the constellational arch at Sacra di San Michele, Val di Susa (Alamy). Fred writes, “There is no pretence that this is a zodiac at all. Following the established classical tradition, Scorpius is sculpted as a scorpion grasping in its claws the image of Libra.” He goes on “Libra was at one time called Chelae (The Claws) and was viewed merely as a continuation into the stellar space of Scorpius.”
If we wished, today, we could invent a new horoscope using the constellations, rather than the zodiac signs, and give ourselves 11 whole sign equal houses including a new one – Chelae – a greatly reduced Libra owned by Scorpio. That would be very interesting if you were, say, going through a divorce.
Objective Reality Does Not Exist
Objective reality does not exist. The Observer Effect proven by quantum physics, tells us that just measuring what is there, defines what we see. Astrology is all about measurements. We take a circle divided into 360 degrees, use 12 signs and 12 houses (unless we are disciples of Chelae astrology) and measure away. The aspects are 60, 90, 120 degrees apart and so on. We whip out our mental yardstick and judge what we find. Competing parallel universes vanish when we do this, and we end up with an accurate horoscope. According to some quantum theorists, there are multiple parallel universes where we never did this, and it never happened, and there was never any accurate horoscope at all.
In 1979, John Wheeler took the famous two-slit experiment and revealed that an observer (you, the astrologer – or reader) can be made partially responsible for generating the reality of the past. We do this all the time when we cast a horoscope on AstroGold or Solar Fire and look back at (say) when we took a job, or got married, or had a baby.
In 2008, the year of the Global Financial Crisis, two famous glossy magazines stopped paying me. They owed me around $20,000. My old Placidus chart showed I had a natal Second House/Eighth House opposition from Saturn to Uranus, being transited by Saturn. It looked dire, as oppositions are issues to fix and the Second and Eighth Houses are about money. A large tax bill arrived.
The Magic of Astrology
In 2008 I was also beginning to read books on quantum theory. I realised the horoscope was a construct. It was invented, the way the clock or calendar is invented. The way time zones are invented. None of it’s real. Reader, I sacked my Placidus house system. I used every one of the 30+ competing house systems in Stephanie Johnson’s Solar Fire computer program and ran the Second World War through all of them. I was taking my cue from John Wheeler. Back-predicting the past.
I tried the start of the war, end of the war, VE Day – and D-Day. Only one house system matched the old headlines and it was what I call the Natural House System. The fun part started when I typed in my own time, place and date of birth and switched my horoscope. It was radically different. Jupiter (solutions) went into the Second House (money). Before I went to bed, I checked my bank account. The entire $20,000 was in there. I will never know if it was the legal department of the William Morris Agency, or just astrology, but that was it for me. Placidus went in the bin and I never looked back.
This is the ‘magic’ of astrology which is really just a nice real-world example of quantum theory working on large objects. In other words, astrologers.
Geoffrey Cornelius uses four house systems in The Moment of Astrology, arguably the most important book about astrology ever published. His argument, that what we do in astrology does not work, without an astrologer involved (it cannot be reduced to a computer) is crucial in 2023 as artificial intelligence comes in. The threat is real.
Astrology is alchemy. You, your horoscope, your client or reader and the times we live in. Or you, your chart, your husband’s chart, and the times you live in. Unrepeatable combinations of astrology charts.
Natal astrology is a unique one-off that can’t be tested with statistics and cannot be mass-produced to reward investors in multi-million dollar American businesses. Well, what purports to be astrology can try to do that, but it won’t be the real thing.
House Systems in Astrology on Zoom
I am talking about House Systems in astrology on Zoom at the Sydney Astrological Research Society on Wednesday 1st March 2023 at 7.00pm to 8.oopm local time. We will try the most popular house system in the world, give you two tests to try in March, with the ingress of Saturn in Pisces and Pluto in Aquarius – and I will show you a world first. A photograph of the astrologer Brigadier R.C. Firebrace C.B.E. with Sir Winston Churchill at 10 Downing Street. Firebrace used what he called A and M Houses, as part of his work as President of the London Astrological Research Group.
Firebrace was at Downing Street in his capacity as Churchill’s trusted Russian translator, but he led a double life an astrologer. Did his A and M Houses help Churchill win the war? So, is that the best house system? Or just the best house system for Firebrace?
I’ll also have an original July-August 1952 edition of Astrology – The Astrologer’s Quarterly (The Astrological Lodge of London) to show you, where Firebrace debuted his original findings on the A and M House System.
This is the best month in 248 years to see what it means when Saturn leaves Aquarius and Pluto enters Aquarius. You can put house systems, including your own favourites, to the test in real time. In this Zoom event you can also use the Smith-Waite Tarot, created by two trained astrologers, to confirm what your chart is about to tell you. If you are in London, put the kettle on at 8.00am on Wednesday 1st March and tune in.