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How do the houses interact with the planets?
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:41 am    Post subject: Re: How do the houses interact with the planets? Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
Michael Sternbach wrote:

But what are the planets doing with the houses? Unseparably from this question: How do you define the houses in the first place?


To answer the last question first, the houses are the more embodied recognition of the cosmos around a given person such that they sky is somehow brought into the mundane or earthly sphere and indeed vice versa. For me, then, the houses are a division of the mundane sphere around a given observer by chiefly dividing up some great plane and projecting it through a symbolically relevant point. We can conceptualise the sky as moving through the course of a day, much like the sky appears to move through the course of the year, and so over the course of a day we see planets move from rising to culminating to setting and so the houses are a way of contextualising this motion through its journey so that as the planets move we recognise periods of waxing and waning power. The sky contains astronomically relevant/pertinent points which act as a focus of dynamism around those points the sky appears to twist or turn like around a pivot - chiefly this is the ascendant and descendant and then the MC/IC or the point 90 above and below the horizon from those the ascendant/desc. As planets move through the sky they can be seen to either move to or away from these incredibly dynamic points - and their qualities are equally affected by their relationship to these points.


I like that (highlighted) definition. Smile

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So are the houses coloring the planets in a manner not unlike the signs do?


Not unlike, but not necessarily alike either. In greek philosophy we have the distinction between substance/essence and accident. Substance deals with an essential quality of a given thing, accidental deals with a particular state of that thing. Substance, or, essence, is describing something which is intrinsic and exists in and of itself and has a quality which exists without the need for support of any other thing, it describes the quality or nature of that thing that exists without the support or modification of anything else. A chair's substance or essence is its chairness, it's "chair" qualities. Accident on the other hand are those modifications which apply to an essential/substantial thing to modify its state or alter it or in which that substantial thing just so happens to find itself. So the substance of a chair is it's chair like quality, and the accident of that chair is that it's wooden, and that a man is sitting on it.

Signs describe planets in particular in terms of substance/essence. Houses describe planets in particular in terms of its accidental nature.


That seems like a useful definition, although the most essential nature of, e.g., Venus would simply be her "Venus-ness." You actually understand "essential nature" this way yourself further below.

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Now in addition to this, the houses individualise our existence to a particular 'coordinate' on the planet and make that experience completely unique. We can imagine that the houses are immovable in the sky, that they exist for a given point and observation position and that they do not move - instead the zodiac itself as well as all the planets move through the houses and whilst they do so, the signs and planets are coloured by the accidental nature of the houses just as what the houses signify is altered by the essential quality of the planets in those signs. In practical terms as the zodiac and planets move through the houses what those houses focus their representation of accidental qualities on changes.


Again, a nice definition. Although, rigorously, the wheel of the houses isn't immovable in the sky, as it remains "attached" to the zodiac, most obviously to the ASC and DSC (which keep shifting back and forth across the East and West point respectively).

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So taking your example of Venus in the 6th house, Venus at this point in time can be described not in terms of its essential nature (we can't tell anything of its essential 'venus'-ness, or how it does venus-like things in typical venus-like ways) but instead the accidental qualities of where it happens to focus itself. In this case in a cadent house and so we can describe all planets as moving to or from an angle, and in this case Venus has already been angular in the 7th and has pivoted around an astronomical point, the descendant, to find itself now, having already been front and centre stage, taking a backseat and focusing her emphasis on areas of life that are not in the spotlight. The cadent houses are then ones which are more internalised, or about stepping away from limelight or about a period of rest or having its dynamism to affects its venus-like agenda move away from the outwardly evident.

In the 6th that's likely to be a particular focus on bringing venus-like qualities (as distinguished by the sign she finds herself in amongst other things) to sixth house accidental qualities such as health and those things which affect health, as well as areas of banality or places which are not novel but instead familiar etc. - it's work environments rather than career. But it would be incorrect to imagine that Venus limits herself to this focus, Venus will almost certainly rule two other signs and therefore dispose of and play host to signifying planets which are in her sign and similarly act as the symbol or significator for the areas of life where those signs happen to be passing through in terms of the accidental qualities of the houses they occupy.
She'll also likely aspect other planets and be disposed of by another planet for example. We can never isolate the chart, and I don't think anyone really (even traditional astrologers) imagine a segregated chart where planets exists solitarily from the rest of the chart.


The concept of disposition surely makes for greater variety regarding what areas a planet may express itself in. Still, this falls short of covering its full scope - e.g., my personality core (Sun), mental and communicative functions (Mercury), etc. will find constant expression in every area of life.
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
In case the above isn't clear regarding essence/substance and accident I thought I'd give a fairly well used or well known example. Keeping in mind that in the modern world we typically equate substance with the material building blocks that compose the thing, the exact opposite is true in the original meaning of the word. So a metal chair, we might tend to say that the substance is metal, because it's composed of or made of metal, but in fact the most substantial thing we can say about a metal chair is that it is useful or used as a chair, its substantial thing isn't that it's a metal chair. When we want to use a chair, we primarily want a chair, we don't primarily want metal. So chairness is the essential or substantial quality and metal is just what this particular chair happens to find itself embodied in.


I know what you mean: The Platonic "idea" or archetype as the form or template that is giving "undifferentiated matter" its shape.

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Now this same philosophy is at the heart of Catholocism and substantiation. In this case the substance or essential quality of the eucharistic wafer is altered or changed into a new substance. Notice that the wafer doesn't stop being a wafer because of course the water is the material or accidental quality of the thing its substance is initially its wafer-ness or its bread-ness. Trans-substantiation suggests that it become something other than a bread-essence, in this case it becomes the body of christ.

Now when this idea is confronted by materialistic scientists they mistakenly imagine the substance is instead the accident and so they'll remark "let's put this wafer under a microscope" or if we cut it it won't bleed etc.

As another way of thinking about this imagine that we have an iron nail. It's essence or substance is its nail-ness. Now let's imagine that I magnetise this iron nail by repeatedly rubbing a powerful magnet along its length. Now the essential quality of the nail has potentially turned from one of being a nail-like thing with nail-like effects, to instead a magnet-like thing with magnet-like effects.

But let's imagine a world in which there are no iron filings for example (to return to the image we might all remember from school) and no instruments to measure or weigh or determine its magnetic quality - how would we know it's a magnet at all? The important distinction is that we cannot find it in the facts that it is composed of iron - that is its accidental quality, its essential one is that, whether we can perceive it easily or not, it is in fact a magnet.


Makes sense.

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In this analogy then the signs describe an essential quality. Mars in Cancer is operating from a different Mars-like nature than Mars in Aries. But how much efficacy or how much 'strength' of force that this mars has will not be determined by the sign. Those things will be determined by, amongst other things, the houses, precisely because the houses show accidental qualities.

In traditional astrology Mars in Cancer is 'weak' by which it is implied that Mars does not perform its mars-like nature in a typical mars-like way, and so mars does not do mars-like things in an orthodox way. There can be a connotation of not being put together very well within its own mars-like sense - we expect Mars to do Mars things in a clear orthodox Mars-like way and there is a sense that this expectation is compromised or changed or weakened or altered when Cancer. Instead, the way I read Mars in Cancer is that Mars operates in an unorthodox way which can bring stress or difficulty in accessing Mars-like qualities in a straight forward way (in the case of Cancer as its in fall) and instead will have to adapt to find or recognise its own essential approach. With that in mind, Mars in Aries is much more orthodox in its expression and much more straight forward in doing Mars-like things in typically Mars-like ways, but Mars in Cancer is forced to be more creative and to do it in more unorthodox ways. Typically Mars in another sign outside Aries or Scorpio, when found in athletes, will be doing something novel, different, creative, unorthodox with their mars. Consider Muhammad Ali who was noticeable precisely because of this innovation and how he adapted martial qualities to the game of boxing and so he floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee and he built up a lot of momentum precisely because of how novel and unorthodox his approach was. His mars is in detriment. Mars in signs of dignity, tends toward the orthodox instead.


That's an interesting view. Another example would be Isaac Newton's Mercury being in Sagittarius:

http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8275&highlight=newton

Now one of the most ingenious physicists and mathematicians in history can hardly be suspected of having had a weak intellect; however, he most certainly had an unconventional one!

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But how much Mars there is, if you like, is not determined by the sign. We can have a highly potent and very effective and very embodied and noticeable Mars, whether its in Cancer, Aries or any other sign. This how much of Mars is a quantitative thing and is therefore an accidental quality shown by the houses. A powerfully placed Mars will be a mars increasing in accidental and therefore situational circumstances and have greater strength behind it in terms of battery power. This is normally referred to as accidental strength or accidental fortitude. Whereas sign based 'strength' is more internalised kind of togetherness and is referred to as essential dignity.


Referring to the example of Ali's chart again, the problem I have is that Mars is in a cadent house. Do you think its accidental debility here was offset by being the most elevated planet in respect to the MC (as opposed to the nonagesimal) and in the same sign with it?

We may also consider that both Hephaisto and Dorotheus actually thought of the 9th as one of the "good places" (perhaps exactly because of its vicinity to the MC?), whereas the other cadent houses were "bad places."
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

waybread wrote:
Michael, you had mentioned family and friend relationships in paragraph 4 of your OP.


Okay, gotcha - that was what you were referring to. Smile

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I wouldn't stick love & romance with being the primary meaning of Venus. It really depends upon what type of chart you've got and what you're asking it to do. In medical astrology Venus might indicate diabetes. In horary, its primary meaning might be simply as the significator for the querent.


I was strictly referring to natal astrology, as per my OP.

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In many ways, romantic love is a fairly modern notion for most people. In parts of India today, marriages are still arranged, as they were for Europeans of any substance prior to modern times.


True that "romantic marriage" is more of a Western/modern conception. But I doubt that romantic feelings as such are a modern invention. And that these could be at odds with marriage as a social institution is also nothing new. What comes to mind here is a tale from ancient China (I would have to look for the book I found it in though).

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Not in all cultures at all times, but at least today where I live, marriage is considered to be a romantic attachment, regardless of whatever else it might be. That brings in the 7th house.


I do think that marriage, although not seen as romantic attachment, was the domain of the 7th house already in ancient times, as it is in Indian astrology too.

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Fooling around or a light-hearted affair might be a 5th house matter.


5th house relationships can get quite romantic though, IME. Wink

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Paul, I think you've got a great exposition of Plato's philosophy.

Of course today our definitions are a lot more contingent and variegated. So is Venus a woman's sense of her femininity? A heterosexual man's ideal female? In some contexts Venus might be hairdressers or sweets. Perhaps as a benefic Venus might simply enhance what it touches. These differences become "accidental" rather than essential only if we pre-determine an inviolable `a priori correct context.

On the 19th century American frontier in winter, there are stories of blizzard survivors burning the wooden furniture to stay warm. In which case "wood-ness" or "flammability" would seem like the article's essential nature.


I would agree to "flammability" as its essential nature. Paul's example of the nail's magnetism becoming its prevalent essential nature actually describes that kind of shift, according to context.

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When you wrote about transubstantiation, it made me think of something I heard once in a rabbinical lecture. In Hebrew, the word for rain is "geshem." But it is simultaneously understood as a blessing, and apparently even transubstantiation of the divine. I haven't been able to go back and validate the third meaning, but the meaning of rain as blessing from God in the Hebrew liturgy is very explicit according to commentators.

This is understandable in the context of an ancient society living in the seasonally arid Near East, where failure of winter rains could lead to famine, and God was understood as the source of weather.

I mention this because whether the Platonic true essence of "geshem" is water falling from the sky or divine providence would be very circumstantial. It might mean one thing in secular life, and another thing in the liturgy where prayers for rain are important.

Of course, nobody accused Plato of being postmodern!

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Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

waybread wrote:

Paul, I think you've got a great exposition of Plato's philosophy.

Of course today our definitions are a lot more contingent and variegated. So is Venus a woman's sense of her femininity? A heterosexual man's ideal female? In some contexts Venus might be hairdressers or sweets. Perhaps as a benefic Venus might simply enhance what it touches. These differences become "accidental" rather than essential only if we pre-determine an inviolable `a priori correct context.


But this isn't really what I'm focusing on at all in my post - these are of course accidental if they're this or that because it's a man's chart or because it rules this or that house. But what I was focusing on was more distinguishing factors in which the houses describe our relationship or understanding of the planets in contrast to what the planet's relationship to the zodiac describes.

Whenever Venus signifies something we might imagine that we can differentiate between what Venus signifies generally speaking, versus what it signifies for a particular person - I don't think anyone would disagree with that. But you begin by saying that today our focus is more contingent and variegated, but really the potential for this focus is no more contingent than it ever was, because it was always, at the very least, limited by the astrologer themselves.

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On the 19th century American frontier in winter, there are stories of blizzard survivors burning the wooden furniture to stay warm. In which case "wood-ness" or "flammability" would seem like the article's essential nature.


Right, it's nature to be able to burn and to do so in a way to provide warmth was the essential quality they were looking for and wood was presumably the most expedient accidental example of that.

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I mention this because whether the Platonic true essence of "geshem" is water falling from the sky or divine providence would be very circumstantial. It might mean one thing in secular life, and another thing in the liturgy where prayers for rain are important.


That's an interesting way of exploring this! In fact, when we apply this kind of thinking, we might see how the difference between divination of any kind, and accidents in the common sense of the word, may well be in what is happening in our own mind as we parse the information we perceive.
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Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Again, a nice definition. Although, rigorously, the wheel of the houses isn't immovable in the sky, as it remains "attached" to the zodiac, most obviously to the ASC and DSC (which keep shifting back and forth across the East and West point respectively).


Ack, I seem to be having discussions about houses everywhere I turn right now. When I suggested we could imagine them as static, I meant to divorce the zodiac from the houses purely for illustrative purposes, I don't mean to imagine that the houses *need* this divorce, it just suited my need more to separate them as much as I could.

Ultimately no matter what we divide up the houses, we pretty much always intersect them with the zodiac anyway.

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Now one of the most ingenious physicists and mathematicians in history can hardly be suspected of having had a weak intellect; however, he most certainly had an unconventional one!


Right, and it shows that there's a difference in saying that the quality of mercury is unorthodox with a more pejorative 'bad' or 'weak' as in implying stupidity. Really Mercury's Mercury-ness as I see it is much like a nerve - it should transmit information reliably from one place to another without adding, removing or altering that data. It also has to parse that information too. And you can see why Mercury in Gemini or Virgo would do that function well - but Mercury in Pisces, with a wider view lens etc. or a darting about with Sagittarius or a connecting philosophical or religious ideas would really not be Mercury's real Mercury-like function. Nonetheless, whilst there can be struggle or difficulty or associated with the planet as a result, there can also be quite a lot of creativity.

Of course in other forms of astrology, like horary, where you want more polarised symbolism to aid in clearer divinatory statements, especially where one planet may be describing person, you sometimes want to be more literal. But I'm just assuming natal here.

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Referring to the example of Ali's chart again, the problem I have is that Mars is in a cadent house. Do you think its accidental debility here was offset by being the most elevated planet in respect to the MC (as opposed to the nonagesimal) and in the same sign with it?


Right, but then no matter what way we look at this, we know that this was well known famous boxer and so cadent or not we ought to examine it. In this case it's 1 away from the cusp of the 10th from the lot of spirit (what we do in the world) and so it seems relevant to me especially as the dispositor, Venus, is angular. In many ways its interesting to imagine people like him as being entertainers and showmen first and boxing as the medium.
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Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:52 am    Post subject: Re: How do the houses interact with the planets? Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
Michael Sternbach wrote:

But what are the planets doing with the houses? Unseparably from this question: How do you define the houses in the first place?


To answer the last question first, the houses are the more embodied recognition of the cosmos around a given person such that they sky is somehow brought into the mundane or earthly sphere and indeed vice versa. For me, then, the houses are a division of the mundane sphere around a given observer by chiefly dividing up some great plane and projecting it through a symbolically relevant point. We can conceptualise the sky as moving through the course of a day, much like the sky appears to move through the course of the year, and so over the course of a day we see planets move from rising to culminating to setting and so the houses are a way of contextualising this motion through its journey so that as the planets move we recognise periods of waxing and waning power. The sky contains astronomically relevant/pertinent points which act as a focus of dynamism around those points the sky appears to twist or turn like around a pivot - chiefly this is the ascendant and descendant and then the MC/IC or the point 90 above and below the horizon from those the ascendant/desc. As planets move through the sky they can be seen to either move to or away from these incredibly dynamic points - and their qualities are equally affected by their relationship to these points.


It seems to me that what you are referring to here is more of a quantitative than a qualitative approach to the houses. In other words, what has planetary strength got to do with a planets' accidental nature, in your view?
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