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Equal verses unequal house systems
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Paul
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Posted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Sternbach wrote:
Maybe all the different house systems have meaning, but in (subtly) different respects. If we were able to discern this, we could conceivably always use the house system that best suits the case at hand.

Perhaps the equal system (the simple division of the zodiac) could then be seen as the most basic and generally valid approach while additional house systems would be brought into play for inquiries into more specialised areas?

Paul's use of Equal and Placidus in parallel points in this direction.


Actually this is exactly what I believe. I actually think all the house systems have validity and depending on what your focus is may mean you wish to use one house system over another - one filter on the information over another. In a similar way, an item under a microscope will remain the same, but depending on the lens you use to observe it through will depend on what level of detail or context you wish to examine.

Michael Sternbach wrote:

It may interest you that traditional astrologer Rafael Gil Brand in fact gives exactly the same explanation for the dexter square in his “Lehrbuch der klassischen Astrologie”, p. 240 f. – He further remarks that a planet at the nonagesimal will be “elevated” over a planet at the ASC.


Thanks for this reference, it's always good to know that other people who have thought about the issue have come to similar conclusions - it doesn't prove anything but it's a good sanity check.


Quote:
A problem with seeing the equal house cusps primarily as aspects to (or from) the ascendant could be that their orbs extend on either side of the exact degree, so a house cusp should become the same house's centre, really. Also, a 15° orb is wider than any other factor has (except the Sun in classical astrology).


Right, but I should probably add that we can see it differently and see it that upon completing its aspect with the ascendant, and at which point it separates (by primary motion) from the house cusp, it rapidly loses its influence upon the house. This is not new thinking, we think the same thing with houses anyway even if we don't imply aspectual relationships to the ascendant. In other words as a planet moves through, say, the fifth house, by primary motion, and is brought closer to the fifth house cusp it is imbued with the symbolism of the fifth, reaches a pinnacle of signification of the symbolism of the fifth upon completion/perfection of its trine to the ascendant, and then as it separates from that perfection it then goes 'cadent' from that house and it stripped of its power/signification in that house and begins to 'absorb' the symbolism of the next house (the fourth in this example).

I'm not sure if you follow what I mean. In this instance then we can see the exact partile degree as the perfection of the aspect, and as we're not dealing with secondary motion here, but instead are dealing with primary motion to abstract 'points' we can be less concerned with the applying/separating of a planet and its orb, which, for me, has more to do with being in the light of another planet. These points are not philosophically, perhaps, related to this same concept of orbs.

This is how I see it, and how I tend to use it. It makes a lot of sense to me, though I would add that I would never expect it to make sense to anyone else or have any desire to 'convince' anyone of it. I say it only as another way of looking at the issue. In this sense then we can see the cusps as the pivotal/pinnacle of the expression of the symbolism of that house as the planet involved has traversed 30 degrees through this house and now reaches its moment of perfection and then 'falls' away into the previous house, is stripped of its symbolism in that house (being 'cadent' from it) and then starts to build up signification in that house before doing it all over again.

Quote:
This made me wonder - if unequal houses have their rationale in the apparent daily revolution of the Sun (or, by analogy, another celestial body) – like Placidus in particular implies – shouldn't the signs have different sizes as well? After all, the Sun doesn't traverse the zodiac at a constant speed either.


Well the difference, really, is that the MC marks the point at which EVERY individual point of the ecliptic will culminate, yes, that includes the Sun, and is probably the most obvious and easily observed in the Sun (after all we tell the time because of this motion), it is true of the other planets.

However the same is not true of the zodiac, it is not that during certain parts of the zodiac, all the planets move at a quicker or slower time. Yes, we do have signs of long and short ascension, but then some astrologers have dealt with this by converting squares to trines etc. when they occur in signs of long ascension to account for this phenomenon (whether we agree with that or not).

Really the cardinal points are analogous to the axes of our charts, and just like with quadrant houses where we establish our pivots and then divide the space in between differently depending on house system, we can divide the space in between the cardinal points any way we wish as well. But as we're using the zodiac to measure more than just the sun's passage (even if it's the most obvious and dominant) there is an argument that we ought not to change the arc of the signs based just on the sun. Instead we can divide evenly between them, and as they're 90º apart, we'll have our 30º signs - a porphyry house system approach which works out the same as an equal house system approach.

Of course there's no reason that what is true for the rotation of earth, ought to be true for the orbit of the sun around the earth anyway.

Quote:
Even though I find the idea that ancient astrologers created the unequal system by misinterpretation of even more ancient texts intriguing, it would take a careful study of the relevant source material to see if this theory holds true.


I think, for me, one of the major arguments against this thinking is that several astrologers cite Nechepso and Petosiris when dealing with, for example, the length of life treatment, in which these 'ancients' state that we ought to find, say, the ascendant and the midheaven, and then divide the ecliptic evenly into three sections and do the same for the other angles. As so many seem to be of the same mind, and as we can assume that the idea of houses is likely to have come from Egypt, and as Nechepso and Petosiris are the ancient Egyptians to which later Hellenistic astrologers all bow to it seems unlikely to me that actually everyone was meant to be using equal house cusps and got it wrong. In fact it's much more easy to mistake quadrant houses for equally divided houses. It takes a lot more nuance and work to describe the calculation of the Midheaven and then to divide evenly the arc between the ascendant and midheaven. If we wanted to describe equal houses we'd just say find the ascendant and add 30 degrees for each house. It's much simpler.
Quadrant houses on the other hand are more likely to be misunderstood, if anything.

Quote:
This said, unbiased laypersons often note the awkwardness of unequal systems immediately. When showing them their “unequal” charts, I have heard some of them exclaim: “Why the [insert your preferred expletive] is my chart so distorted?!!”, and also: “Are you sure your PC is o.k.?”


Right, but this tells us absolutely nothing about astrologers, calculations for astrology, or whether or not astrologers made a mistake on equal houses and accidentally invented a more mathematically complicated way of dividing the ecliptic.

For me it's really irrelevant what the average layperson says when it comes to astrology or what they think when they look at the charts, as calculations are not based upon what the average layperson thinks. It is true that very disproportionate houses can inspire some explication for the average layperson but then so can having all the planets in one hemisphere or having a notable aspect patterns etc.
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Paul
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Posted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:

I suppose an obvious question here is why isn't the MC a fixed point calculated for local solar noon in a chart for a whole day? We all know the Sun at local solar noon directly coincides with the MC. In other words why does the MC position keep changing? My understanding is that the MC indicates the point where the planets reach their highest declination in their arc between the ascendant and descendant and since the ASC/DESC axis is constantly shifting so must the MC.


I think Michael's explanation has already addressed this for you, but just to add to it, if we recognise that the MC is really just another word for saying "exactly south from where you are" and that the acendant isn't actually exactly east, but is often north or south of east, then really we might argue that we should fix the MC at the top of our charts, and let our ascendant float up or down on the chart, rather than fixing it to the exact left of our charts. This would more accurately reflect what we're observing. Instead we put our astrological focus on the ascendant and so fix it to the left of the chart, for simplicity. But really it's the MC which doesn't move, as it's just another word for "exactly due south wherever it hits the ecliptic".

Quote:
So in contrasting the MC/nonagesimal we have the difference between the highest culmination point of the planets in terms of declination and the highest point of the ecliptic in the local sky.


This whole topic has made me wonder about whether or not we should treat the nonagesimal and MC differently and apply some subtle nuance to its interpretation.

Really any planet at the MC is the highest it can get to in a given day, and so maybe we should see it as more 'personal' or more relative to the rest of the chart, so a planet at the MC is one which is at the height of its own power. In contrast a planet at the nonagesimal is at the height of the entire chart, it may not be at its own personal highest yet, or may even be declining from its own "personal best" but it's still overcoming the ascendant and is rising above all the other planets. Just like a star athlete may still win the race against weaker competitors even if personal private victories are going on with the other players as they beat their own personal best times.
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Paul
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Posted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Larxene wrote:



Both the nonagesimal and MC lie on the local meridian, so they should be both 90 degrees from the eastern horizon. In other words, the nonagesimal and MC should both coincide; they should both be 90 degrees clockwise from the Ascendant. And yet, in natal charts, they do not. Why?


The only way that the nonagesimal can lie on the local meridian is if Aries or Libra rise. If we imagine 0 Aries to be the intersection of the ecliptic with the equator, then it means that when it's on the ascendant the point 90º from it, must, be extension, be exactly south from our vantage point, and therefore will be at the nonagesimal.

I hope I have that right, someone correct me if I'm misthinking this.

Having said that, Larxene I'm not completely sure what you're demonstrating here with the graph. Just make sure that you are not expecting the actual Zenith to be on the ecliptic as the MC, as the two are not the same. The Zenith is the point that if you looked up directly over your head you would find. I wonder if the graph is showing this point - which is therefore not the nonagesimal.

I don't know, cos I'm not sure what I'm looking at.
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Mark
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Posted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found the following piece from Deborah Houlding's article: The Problems of House Division.

http://www.skyscript.co.uk/houprob_print.html

I feel it summarises some of the points that have been already raised on the thread in non-technical language:


Quote:


The Difficulties of Ecliptic-Based Space Division

The relevant issue is that houses, as an astrological technique, most certainly evolved from a separate foundation to that of the zodiac and thus demonstrate a different perspective of the heavens. The purpose of the zodiac is to map the secondary motion of a planet as it revolves in its superior orbit around the Earth, but the houses map the primary motion of a planet's daily journey through our skies. Their relationship with the observer is altogether more personal and direct, and through them the affect of a planet in the zodiac is grounded to reveal its specific influence upon any locality.

The difficulties of finding a suitable house system that will work well in all locations are the legacy of our decision to make the zodiac - and hence the ecliptic - the central crux of the horoscopic scheme; an underpinning principle which was firmly established by the classical period and is now so deeply embedded into the core of our art that any perspective but this appears irreconcilable. To understand why the difficulties arise, it is necessary to visualize the variability between the true cardinal directions and those represented by the ascendant and descendant.

As the Earth rotates on its axis from west to east, it appears from our apparently stationary viewpoint that the stars rise in the east, culminate on the upper meridian and set in the west. For an observer in the northern hemisphere the easiest way to observe the planets in the zodiacal belt is to stand facing south - one would then see the stars rising in the east on the left, culminating in the south ahead and setting in the west on the right: this is the perspective that is represented on an astrological chart.

Since the Earth is a globe, an observer from any locality will always be at the center of their own bowl of heaven, but in astrology the midheaven does not represent the point immediately overhead (our local zenith), but the point at which that meridian intersects with the ecliptic (see diagram above). The more northerly the latitude, the further down on the horizon it is likely to be. It will, however, always culminate due south, where the planets reach their highest declination before retiring towards the descendant. With the MC and IC then, there is true alignment between the astrological angles and the cardinal directions south and north, which is not usually the case with the ascendant and the east, or the descendant and the west.

Because of the tilt between the Earth's equator and the ecliptic, the ascendant will only align with cardinal east at two moments during the day - namely when 0° Aries or 0° Libra, the points of intersection between the equator and ecliptic, are rising. At such times the midheaven will be close to a 90° angle to the ascendant for all locations, but when other parts of the ecliptic ascend there is a discrepancy from due east, the ascendant being most northerly when 0° Cancer rises and most southerly with 0° Capricorn. Thus, 90° as measured along the ecliptic does not necessarily reflect 90° in geometrical measurement and there is a distorted angle between the ascendant and midheaven which becomes increasingly difficult to resolve with latitude. In the district of Alexandria (31°N) the variation is small and causes no real problems, but in high latitudes it becomes impossible for certain parts of the zodiac to rise at all. Of the signs that do rise, some linger on the ascendant for many hours while others speed by in a matter of minutes.

In the Arctic and Antarctic regions, the inherent problems can be illustrated through the phenomenon of the midnight Sun, which prevents any division of the chart into diurnal and nocturnal hemispheres. And though it may be an extreme example, how does one reconcile the fact that at the north pole, 0° Aries can rise on the ascendant and be on the midheaven simultaneously? Obviously, at these localities, the theory of ecliptic-based methods of house division become impractical in working astrology.

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Mark
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Posted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
Quote:
But really it's the MC which doesn't move, as it's just another word for "exactly due south wherever it hits the ecliptic".


Unless you live in the southern hemisphere. In that case its always due north!

Paul wrote:
Quote:
This whole topic has made me wonder about whether or not we should treat the nonagesimal and MC differently and apply some subtle nuance to its interpretation.


Yes. Michael also raised this point earlier in the thread in his reply to me. I agree from a practical astrological point of view it seems the key issue. I have been pondering this issue for a while myself as I use whole sign houses but take equal cusps as the sensitive points within the houses. Along with the MC/IC which I also examine. Perhaps we should consider opening a new thread entitled MC vs Nonagesimal?

Mark
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james_m



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Posted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great conversation folks! i feel like i have little to add or more specifically don't have the patience paul and others have to go into the many details here on the thread, and i can't say that i understand them fully, but in my own way which of course has holes in it. i really enjoyed what paul had to say in the 12:56pm post from today. thanks for that paul. i just want to pick up one comment from paul in his 1:06pm post that i've quoted below.

Paul wrote:

This whole topic has made me wonder about whether or not we should treat the nonagesimal and MC differently and apply some subtle nuance to its interpretation.


i think this makes a lot of sense and i think you've done this by highlighting the concept of 'overcoming'. that isn't enough, and other ideas have been articulated, but i think you're doing this. i wonder if anyone wants to do the same with the east point, vertex/anti vertex and other important astronomical considerations that generally get overlooked by a large number of astrologers? part of the reason i think they get overlooked is because we don't fully understand the mechanics of them. i could be wrong, but really that is what this thread is trying to do in distinguishing the nonagesimal with the mc. we could be doing it with a few other relevant points in the chart too - perhaps on a different thread.
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Larxene



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Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think my question should be this: what is the zodiac circle? When we draw it in a given horizonal view, how would the line look like?

My first impression was that the zodiac circle is the ecliptic, but that doesn't seem feasible: the nonagesimal will be in the same degree with the MC, or it will be very close to it.

My second impression is that it is the line which connects all the 12 constellations whose names were adapted to the astrological zodiac. In other words, the line that connects the constellations of Aries, Taurus, Gemini...Pisces.

This line would be quite slanted relative to the ecliptic; if this is the line we are using when we draw the zodiac circle, then indeed as Michael says, the nonagesimal would not coincide with the local horizonal zenith often.
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright Larxene,

Here's the short version of my answer to you first:

Your problem as I see it is that you are setting the nonagesimal at the zenith. Shocked

Possibly, for such a clever child like you (who can down Rubik's cube in 11 seconds by use of algorithms Thumbs up ) this hint is all it takes to set things clear! Idea

But - if not - here's the long version:

Larxene wrote: Apr 28, 2014 2:03 am
Quote:
My first impression was that the zodiac circle is the ecliptic, but that doesn't seem feasible: the nonagesimal will be in the same degree with the MC, or it will be very close to it.


Your first impression was right, Larxene: The zodiac circle is the ecliptic.

To be more precise, astrologers envision the zodiac as a band that extends some degrees to either side of the ecliptic line as to enclose the planets (which are often not right at the ecliptic in actuality) - but all this is not relevant to our basic considerations here, really.

Quote:
My second impression is that it is the line which connects all the 12 constellations whose names were adapted to the astrological zodiac. In other words, the line that connects the constellations of Aries, Taurus, Gemini...Pisces.

This line would be quite slanted relative to the ecliptic; if this is the line we are using when we draw the zodiac circle, then indeed as Michael says, the nonagesimal would not coincide with the local horizonal zenith often.


Original thinking granted here, Larxene, but - no, this is definitely not what we are using!

In historical terms, according to German scholar Franz Boll in his "Sphaera", the ancients actually started out by dividing the ecliptic evenly into the twelve sectors we know as the signs. These were named according to the nearby constellations used for marking them.

The zodiac/ecliptic is slanted relative to the equator, though. That's where the nonagesimal's deviation from the MC has its cause.

So, in the final analysis, the whole confusion about Equal verses unequal house systems can be said to have its cause in another planet bumping into Earth at an early stage of her development, tilting Earth's axis by an angle of currently 23.4°. Incidentally, this meant the creation of the Moon at the same time, if contemporary astronomers got it all right.

I don't remember saying that the nonagesimal doesn't coincide with the local horizontal zenith often, or anything in this direction. - I said it often doesn't coincide with the local meridian and MC, respectively.

It's correct that the nonagesimal always coincides with the highest zodiacal degree relative to the horizon (the one with the shortest zenith distance, in other words). With the zenith (the highest point above your head on the celestial sphere) the nonagesimal in fact never coincides at all, as observed from moderate geographical latitudes.

However, if you are watching the sky from a position near the equator, the ecliptic is more or less over your head, and therefore the nonagesimal can indeed be right at the zenith. In this case the nonagesimal won't deviate much from the MC. That's why in the more equatorial latitudes there is not much difference between the MC and the nonagesimal.

It's too bad that I currently don't have Wulfing von Rohr's aforesaid book at hand, but I recall him writing that when astrology was exported to more Northern latitudes, the MC was misunderstood to be the most important point even though what the Egyptians really meant was the nonagesimal.

It is my conception that the Egyptians just didn't care much to distinguish between the two, much like there was no practical need to differentiate between the tropical and the sidereal zodiac in astrology back then.

Personally, I find this question highly interesting, not least on historical grounds.

I am aware of having brought up a fairly complex topic with this thread, it really challenges that grey mass between our ears!

“Be patient, and in patience ye will find your soul.” Edgar Cayce, reading 3486-1 Tongue Out

Regrettably, the effort of a study of basic astronomy is no longer generally regarded as necessary for astrologers. While our ancestors had a much more direct relationship to the actual sky, most of us moderns are satisfied with computing it in a split-second in a distorted form. - Cheers, Larxene, in this respect.

But astrologers cannot hope to find approximation to the scientific community, and to astronomers in particular, as long as they don't understand and speak their language.

Per aspera ad astra

Michael
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Atlantean



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Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Paul,

Re: "I actually think all the house systems have validity and depending on what your focus is may mean you wish to use one house system over another - one filter on the information over another. In a similar way, an item under a microscope will remain the same, but depending on the lens you use to observe it through will depend on what level of detail or context you wish to examine."

I see this a little bit differently... To me, the different house systems are approximations of one reality. They are different models attempting (basically) to zero in on something that can be specifically defined.

This is not to say that all house systems aren't "usable." I am merely implying that they are approximations, and therefore introduce error. (scale of error depending on which particular house system we are analyzing)

Think of Newtonian Physics. Einstein completely turned that one on its side. For velocities well under the speed of light, Newton is more than close enough for government work. Still, there is a better model available that works under all conditions. The approximation is usable, the main change is the margin of error.

Alice (McDermott) had written that different house systems could apply to different people. (implying that the physical ordering of the universe was variable, dependent on the subject) Both philosophically and because I was unable to find a single example of this, I have a hard time with this reasoning.

Since we're basically subdividing a circle when defining houses, I see the various house systems (analogously) like approximating Pi.

If we say that Pi is 3 and we have a 1 inch radius circle, the (calculated) circumference is 6. (2*Pi*r)

If we say that Pi is 3.14, we arrive at 6.28. ie. our margin of error decreased

If we say that Pi is 3.1415926535897932384626433832 (the extent of my current memory), then we arrive at a circumference of 6.28318530717958647692528... ie. not exact, but the margin of error is virtually infinitesimal

Depending on application (and required specificity), these other approximations of Pi will "work", but that in no way means they are exact.

In this analogy, I find all other house systems (than Topocentric) to be like approximations of Pi... usable, but with an inherent margin of error.


James
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Larxene



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Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Michael:

Please hold off the sarcasm Smile. There are some things that some intellectuals don't know. I happen to suck at geometry and perspective drawing.

The nonagesimal is 90 degrees from the ecliptical ascendant, not the horizonal ascendant. Since the ecliptic almost never reaches the zenith (unless you live at around 23.5 N or S), so the nonagesimal is almost never at the zenith either. So my misconception was thinking that the nonagesimal is the zenith (due to the fact that I was looking at a flat zodiac circle in a natal chart).

The slant of the ecliptic and the eccentricity of the ecliptic are probably the main reasons behind the discrepancy between the nonagesimal and MC.
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Paul
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Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Atlantean wrote:

I see this a little bit differently... To me, the different house systems are approximations of one reality. They are different models attempting (basically) to zero in on something that can be specifically defined.
...
Since we're basically subdividing a circle when defining houses, I see the various house systems (analogously) like approximating Pi.
...
In this analogy, I find all other house systems (than Topocentric) to be like approximations of Pi... usable, but with an inherent margin of error.


Right, but for me, the problem with this is in the assumption that all the house systems are trying to determine the same point/place and only do so to varying degrees of accuracy. However, is this really the case? Is there really only one, for example, fifth house? If so, then in order to discover what the formulae should be for discovering it, we need to ask what is the philosophical premise underlying the signification and symbolism for what the fifth house is supposed to be. Then we can examine all the varying ways of attempting to calculate that point and see which ones are the most accurate.

The problem, of course, is that there's no one singular philosophical symbolism behind the fifth house - and therefore we are forced towards agnosticism about what the method should be for discovering it.

Contrast this with PI like in your example, which is a real property and mathematically pure and true - there are not several PIs, there is just one. The same is not true for house cusps.

For example, let's take the fifth house. A major part of its symbolism comes from the fact that the fifth house makes a Ptolemaic aspect to the ascendant, or, if you prefer, it makes a full integer division with the ecliptic with a modulo of zero etc. This is important as the houses which are in aversion to the ascendant, those which do not divide evenly into the circle, are given certain significations as a result, which still survive today into modern astrology.

In addition the nature of the aspect involved is a trine, and this colours our understanding of the fifth (and 9th) house as well. It's a trine which is succedent to an angle, unlike the ninth which is cadent from it, so this gets added too. Then we notice that it is the joy of venus, and add this to the pie as well.

Eventually we have a unique set of associations and symbolism with the fifth house cusp.

So far Topocentric houses etc. have no real monopoly on how we wish to derive that house. In fact, in some situations, we can clearly see that a Topocentric fifth is just a symbolic approximation. Returning to my example of equal at least showing an exact aspectual relationship to the ascendant, and as we can infer that house meanings derive, if only in part, to this aspectual relationship, then clearly both equal and whole are more accurate depending on whether we wish to focus on partile aspects or aspects by sign alone. With this context in mind, Equal/Whole triumphs and Topocentric is just a rough approximation.

Similarly if we wish to observe the length of time of rising for a given planet, and divide evenly, keeping in mind that houses like the 10th, 8th, 8th, 7th etc. (and others) are, at least in part, derived from the quality of time of a given day when the Sun is at its most brilliant, and then falls away and begins to die in the sky before dying at the 7th house cusp. In this context we may wish to divide our intermediary houses equally with this focus in mind and our division will be thirds of how long it takes for a given point to move by primary motion from one angle to another.

Again, in this situation, Topocentric is a philosophical house system which is in error in contrast to Placidus.

We might instead wish to simply evenly divide the ecliptic between the angles, for whatever reason we wish to examine, and use Porphyry. Or we can divide the equator and use another house system like Regiomontaus.

On and on we go through our house systems. I have no proper philosophical understanding of exactly how Topocentric house cusps are derived, the name tells me nothing as, after all, all house systems take a topocentric reference point in order to ascertain the four angles. I did look into it and struggled to understand some of it complexity. But we can imagine the same thing for Topocentric as is true for other house systems, namely that what it sets out to do is to derive a fifth house cusp, not the fifth house cusp.

Symbolically all the fifth house cusps are valid in that they place their focus/context in one place and then calculate around that focus.

Unlike, then, with PI, or its attempts to calculate it. Because there are no perfectly exact calculations of PI available (we're still finding new numbers at infinitesimal scales), all attempts to calculate it are approximations of greater or lesser accuracy - some are more accurate than others but they are all attempts to calculate, or approximations of PI.

But house systems do not claim to be attempting to derive the same point. Regiomontanus does not claim to be marking the division of time it takes for a planet to rise, culminate and set, Placidus does not claim to be marking aspectual relatinoships to the ascendant.

They all have different claims and therefore different contexts or different filters for examining our data. House systems, for me, are just filters, we swap one out for another depending on what our focus is and what our philosophical preferences are. I appreciate that Topocentric comes with big claims about empirical derivation. I am not sure that those empirical observations have been independently verified by a blind trial, which should be an easy thing to do, and so until I see something like that, I have to reserve judgement about it and put it in the same category as all the other house systems. Namely a perfectly accurate and perfectly sound division of some great circle based on some particular philosophical preference - just like all the others are.
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james_m



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Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:


House systems, for me, are just filters, we swap one out for another depending on what our focus is and what our philosophical preferences are. .... Namely a perfectly accurate and perfectly sound division of some great circle based on some particular philosophical preference - just like all the others are.


paul - thanks for trying to articulate your thoughts on this topic. i really resonate with what you've said in your post and appreciate your taking the time to say it all. 'philosophical preferences' is a good way to articulate others choice of a house system, or house systems if one is receptive to the idea of entertaining more then one house system at one time which i happen to relate to as well. but i think some folks are unwilling to see how the basis for what they believe is built on a particular philosophical position( they may be unaware of) and instead are seeking something very concrete where there can only be one valid house system. of course that is a part of their philosophical perspective whether they wish to acknowledge it or not. tolerance towards others viewpoints might be difficult, but i think it is only this way when there is an insistence on their being only one way to do something.

so much of our thinking seems steeped in a cultural background where everything must be squeezed into a scientific matrix whereby it must be objectively proved in order for it to be valid, or it must be taken on faith that their is only 'one true house system' much like their is only 'one true god' - a perspective that still continues in many cultures around the world. i don't think astrology or house systems lend themselves to this type of thinking, and is more a reflection of the person doing the astrology or whatever, then it is the astrology.
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Mark
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Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Sternbach wrote:
Quote:
It's too bad that I currently don't have Wulfing von Rohr's aforesaid book at hand, but I recall him writing that when astrology was exported to more Northern latitudes, the MC was misunderstood to be the most important point even though what the Egyptians really meant was the nonagesimal.


I have no time to check references for you today but I seem to recall the Roman astrologer Firmicus Maternus (4th century CE) seems to have adopted an approach that looks very like he considered the nonagesimal as the 10th house cusp rather than the MC. It seems likely Firmicus was working with equal houses.

Although in his book Whole Sign Houses: The Oldest House System Robert Hand puts forward an intriguing theory that Firmicus may have been combining equal house 'cusps' within whole sign houses. Hand's argument here is that 'cusps' were seen as the sensitive points within the whole sign houses but not the actual boundary of the house itself. This is very similar in outlook to the Indian view that places its 'cusps' in the middle of houses in the Sripati house system. However, Hand's speculative interpretation on what Firmicus was doing is by no means the only view possible.

When we examine other ancient astrologers there does seem to be quite widespread use of the MC. Hence we find ancient astrologers like Porphyry, Hephaistio, Olympiodorus , and Rhetorius all utilising the MC as the 10th house cusp. It seems likely they often combined this with a comparison to whole sign houses too. However, this was starting to break down in the late hellenistic era (ie Byzantine period) so that Olympiodorus seems to delineate exclusively with Porphyry houses while Rhetorius seems to advocate Alcabitius houses but compares these to Whole sign.

I am not at all convinced by your suggestion that earliest Egyptian (Alexandrian?) astrologers all relied on the nonagesimal to define the 10th house. It seems far more plausible to me that they used Whole sign houses rather than Equal as their default approach to begin with.

In later hellenistic astrology we often see them combining whole sign houses with quadrant systems. Deborah Houlding's recent thread on the traditional forum breaks new ground in providing us with intriguing evidence that Vettius Valens may have chosen to adopt Porphyry, Equal and Whole sign approaches at different points his Anthology.

Benjamin Dykes research seems to confirm the real shiftover in attitudes occurred in later Perso-Arabic astrology. I dont mean a shift from the nonagesimal to MC as you suggest. I mean the shift from using Whole sign houses (or Whole sign combined with a quadrant system) to exclusively MC derived house systems. It seems to be be in this period that use of Whole sign houses effectively died out.

This was long before astrology was reintroduced back into western Europe in the 12th century. So it wasn't that the western Europeans changed the understanding of the MC. They simply faithfully copied the tradition passed on to them by later Perso-Arabic astrology.

Mark
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
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Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul, re yours: Apr 27, 2014 1:56 pm

Michael wrote:
Quote:
Maybe all the different house systems have meaning, but in (subtly) different respects. If we were able to discern this, we could conceivably always use the house system that best suits the case at hand.

Perhaps the equal system (the simple division of the zodiac) could then be seen as the most basic and generally valid approach while additional house systems would be brought into play for inquiries into more specialised areas?

Paul's use of Equal and Placidus in parallel points in this direction.


Paul replied:
Quote:
Actually this is exactly what I believe. I actually think all the house systems have validity and depending on what your focus is may mean you wish to use one house system over another - one filter on the information over another. In a similar way, an item under a microscope will remain the same, but depending on the lens you use to observe it through will depend on what level of detail or context you wish to examine.


I like your microscope analogy.

This way of looking at house systems also somehow brings to mind the use of various harmonics in delineating a chart in Vedic astrology.

I wonder if you already have any observations on what Equal house positions may signify in practical application, as contrasted with Placidus.

Michael wrote:
Quote:
A problem with seeing the equal house cusps primarily as aspects to (or from) the ascendant could be that their orbs extend on either side of the exact degree, so a house cusp should become the same house's centre, really. Also, a 15° orb is wider than any other factor has (except the Sun in classical astrology).


Paul replied:
Quote:
Right, but I should probably add that we can see it differently and see it that upon completing its aspect with the ascendant, and at which point it separates (by primary motion) from the house cusp, it rapidly loses its influence upon the house. This is not new thinking, we think the same thing with houses anyway even if we don't imply aspectual relationships to the ascendant. In other words as a planet moves through, say, the fifth house, by primary motion, and is brought closer to the fifth house cusp it is imbued with the symbolism of the fifth, reaches a pinnacle of signification of the symbolism of the fifth upon completion/perfection of its trine to the ascendant, and then as it separates from that perfection it then goes 'cadent' from that house and it stripped of its power/signification in that house and begins to 'absorb' the symbolism of the next house (the fourth in this example).

I'm not sure if you follow what I mean. In this instance then we can see the exact partile degree as the perfection of the aspect, and as we're not dealing with secondary motion here, but instead are dealing with primary motion to abstract 'points' we can be less concerned with the applying/separating of a planet and its orb, which, for me, has more to do with being in the light of another planet. These points are not philosophically, perhaps, related to this same concept of orbs.


So, in other words, you are suggesting that, even though the house cusps have an orb extending on both of their sides, this would have a different meaning on each side? In other words, the meaning of the cusp in the aspect would depend on whether the aspect is applicative or separative?

Surely, this difference would not only be important if a planet is conjunct a cusp but also if it is in any other aspect?

I wonder if I read you right, here.

An alternative view (as far as Equal) would be to look at a cusp as the centre of the corresponding house. In this regard, I would like to highlight something Mark contributed a while ago to my “zodiac with 24 sectors” thread (on the traditional forum):

Mark wrote: Mar 06, 2014 12:30 am
Quote:
I know this is a tangent but I find an interesting link here to the thinking of the early 20th century German astrologer Johannes Vehlow. In his monumental 8 volume work Lehrkursus der wissenschaftlichen Geburts-Astrologie Vehlow discusses his proposed equal house system (which has cusps in the house centre) in Volume 1 which was published in 1933.

Vehlow also realised the traditional orb of the Sun is 15° on either side and imagined it rising on the ASC degree. Hence he calls his type of house system 'solar'.

This type of equal house system (with cusps in the centre not the edge) seems to have independently developed in Indian astrology.

Vehlow attributed his house system to Egyptian astrology although this seems rather different from the whole sign house system that most commentators now think predominated in the early phase of ancient astrology.

Arguably, whole sign houses are symbolically 'solar' too in terms of their mirroring the annual motion of the Sun in each sign and their connection to the Sun's 15° orb if we imagine it in the middle of each whole sign house.


But back to Paul's post.

Paul wrote:
Quote:
Of course there's no reason that what is true for the rotation of earth, ought to be true for the orbit of the sun around the earth anyway.


Well, the ancient microcosm = macrocosm concept ,which is really the philosophical basis of astrology, was also understood to mean 1 day = 1 year, as exemplified in our secondary directions and in the the wheel of houses as reflecting the zodiac.

But as far as I can see right now, this analogy does not clearly speak for one house system in preference of another.

The idea of a possible historical priority of the nonagesimal to the MC I would like to address in conjunction with my response to Mark's latest thoughts.

Michael wrote:
Quote:
This said, unbiased laypersons often note the awkwardness of unequal systems immediately. When showing them their “unequal” charts, I have heard some of them exclaim: “Why the [insert your preferred expletive] is my chart so distorted?!!”, and also: “Are you sure your PC is o.k.?”


Paul replied:
Quote:
Right, but this tells us absolutely nothing about astrologers, calculations for astrology, or whether or not astrologers made a mistake on equal houses and accidentally invented a more mathematically complicated way of dividing the ecliptic.

For me it's really irrelevant what the average layperson says when it comes to astrology or what they think when they look at the charts, as calculations are not based upon what the average layperson thinks. It is true that very disproportionate houses can inspire some explication for the average layperson but then so can having all the planets in one hemisphere or having a notable aspect patterns etc.


Granted, the average layperson cannot be expected to demonstrate any understanding of astrology's intricacies, and, of course, other obvious patterns in the chart can induce questions just as much.

So I don't mean to overemphasize this, but when some of my clients were spontaneously voicing what I had somewhere on my mind already at the time, it made me wonder whether their unbiased view actually allowed them to spontaneously perceive something more clearly as odd which modern astrologers (including myself) have been trained to accept unquestioningly.
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote: Apr 27, 2014 2:06 pm
Quote:
Really any planet at the MC is the highest it can get to in a given day, and so maybe we should see it as more 'personal' or more relative to the rest of the chart, so a planet at the MC is one which is at the height of its own power. In contrast a planet at the nonagesimal is at the height of the entire chart, it may not be at its own personal highest yet, or may even be declining from its own "personal best" but it's still overcoming the ascendant and is rising above all the other planets. Just like a star athlete may still win the race against weaker competitors even if personal private victories are going on with the other players as they beat their own personal best times.


I find this definition of the MC in contrast to the nonagesimal very interesting!

Paul wrote: Apr 27, 2014 2:06 pm
Quote:
This whole topic has made me wonder about whether or not we should treat the nonagesimal and MC differently and apply some subtle nuance to its interpretation.


Mark replied: Apr 27, 2014 4:28 pm
Quote:
Yes. Michael also raised this point earlier in the thread in his reply to me. I agree from a practical astrological point of view it seems the key issue. I have been pondering this issue for a while myself as I use whole sign houses but take equal cusps as the sensitive points within the houses. Along with the MC/IC which I also examine.


As I mentioned earlier, the German astrologer Bernd A. Mertz thought of the MC as indicating the native's true vocation as (potentially) opposed to their profession. However, to my knowledge, he didn't talk about his reasons for this assumption in any detailed manner.

Interpreting the meaning of the MC falling into a particular Equal house, however, is quite straightforward. More or less in accordance with Mertz, some key words would be:

MC in VIII: The calling lies in things occult, obscure, or having to do with crime and/or death.
MC in IX: Dedicating oneself to a mission, callings of a philosophical/religious/metaphysical nature, wishing to widen one's intellectual and/or spiritual horizon.
MC in X: Dedicated to profession and outward career, in accordance with the 10th house
MC in XI: Philanthropic interests, feels inclined to working in a team, educational endeavours.
MC in XII: Tends to seek self-fulfilment in seclusion; artistic and spiritual inclinations.

This brief list is by no means complete, to be sure, it's just a few ideas for the sake of our discussion. Especially, I think, Mark, may have further thoughts or observations to share.

We will also need to address the IC as contrasted with the 4th house, naturally.

James wrote (in reply to Paul's aforesaid post): Apr 27, 2014 6:38 pm
Quote:
i think this makes a lot of sense and i think you've done this by highlighting the concept of 'overcoming'. that isn't enough, and other ideas have been articulated, but i think you're doing this. i wonder if anyone wants to do the same with the east point, vertex/anti vertex and other important astronomical considerations that generally get overlooked by a large number of astrologers? part of the reason i think they get overlooked is because we don't fully understand the mechanics of them. i could be wrong, but really that is what this thread is trying to do in distinguishing the nonagesimal with the mc. we could be doing it with a few other relevant points in the chart too - perhaps on a different thread.


I agree with you, James. Once we come to a clearer understanding of what the MC and the nonagesimal signify, we should expand our thoughts to other little understood elements of celestial mechanics such as the vertex/anti-vertex, planetary nodes, etc.
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