Martin Gansten wrote:I think the point that keeps being missed, and that both Deb and I have made (separately and in our different ways), is that using whole-sign houses is one thing and prescribing them (the way some astrologers do today) is another. Nobody is denying the use; what people are disagreeing on is the reasons why they were used.* So simply piling up examples of use is not going to make a difference.

If someone misses that point, I can understand their frustration when I and others remain unaffected by their lists of 'evidence' (leading to accusations of 'denialism'). But I really don't know how to make the point any more clearly than I have done already, so as to help people understand it better.

* (One reason recently alluded to by Ed, I think, is imprecise times. If you have only an approximate time, calculating exact degrees for the ascendant and other cusps by hand is a waste of time. To this I want to add something from my practical experience: if you cast a lot of charts for the same location/region, after a while you will know where the MC and other quadrant cusps fall as soon as you know the ascendant, since that relationship doesn't change.)

Chapter 18. The Eight Houses and the Angles' [11.14] 2. For when a house had been found by degree, it must be considered what sort [of a house] it is, in what sign, and in whose terms, and to what extent those stars bear testimony to it. Another matter that must be espe­ cially considered is the ruler of that house, i.e. of the sign—in which house it is placed, or in what sort of sign, or in what sort of terms—which matter must be inquired into with the greatest diligence. Also, whether it is adorned with the testimonies of the benefic stars, or whether on the contrary it is stricken with the onslaught of the malefies. Let us now re­ vert back to the general definition of the houses, so that we may thus ex­ plain the order of the angles and of the other houses.
To be read carefully!3 3. Generally the House of Life is in that sign where the ASC is located, the House of Hope or Money in the second sign from the ASC, that of Brothers in the third, that of Parents in the fourth, that of Children in the fifth, that of Illness in the sixth, that of the Spouse in the seventh, [and] that of Death in the eighth. All of which, making their beginning from the ASC, we have signified with the following definition of names: Life, ‘The Index has the single chapter title “The Eight Houses and the Angles,??? but the received text has divided this into three chapters, which I have numbered 18, 18a, and 18b.
2 The text has singula "fhominis ‘the individual ones of man’, but some word or words should follow ‘individual’. Nemethy suggests <loca>singula ‘individual houses’. I have accepted this and replaced the following -fhominis ‘of man’ with *geniturae ‘of the nativity’.
3Sittl deleted these words. They may have been a marginal note in the archetype or its ancestor. But in their place, MS N has a title, ‘On the Signification of the Houses’.
62/Mathesis Hope, Brothers, Fathers or Parents, Children, Sickness, Spouse, and Death.
4. But, just as we said above, it suffices to have stated these things gen­ erally to form the beginnings for the learner. But later we shall take care to explain to what extent these houses are shown by the subtle definition of degrees. And of course you ought to know that those things which we say in the nativities of men—those same things are also effective in the nativities of women—being aware that [the star] of Venus shows the wife, the star of Mars the husband.
Chapter 18a. The Angles of the Nativity. [II. 15] 1. In nativities, there are four angles—the rising,1 the DSC, the MC, and the IMC, which houses are accustomed to be called by the Greeks by these names: anatole, dysis, mesuranima, ypogeon.1 2 2. The rising is the degree of the ASC . . . placed,3 4 which is called diametron dyticon by the Greeks.
3. But so that you may more readily understand, measure from the de­ gree of the ASC through the other signs 180 degrees, and in whatever sign the 181 st degree is found, in that very sign, <namely>5 or degree of the nativity the DSC is located.
4. The MC is in fact the tenth sign from the ASC, but now and then the MC is also found by degree in the eleventh sign from the ASC.6 But so 1 Rather than the usual term horoscopus ‘ASC’,

Mark wrote:
Could you elaborate exactly what you mean here please? Outside the Tajika tradition are you questioning the use of whole sign houses?

Martin replied:
Not the fact that they are commonly used, but the idea that they are explicitly prescribed in (classical, non-T??jika) Indian astrological texts. Of course, I haven't read everything, so I'm open to new information.
Note: In my post below, the bolding and underlining is by me, and I have tried to keep the italics as written by these authors.

From James Braha's book The Braha Sutras, published in 2022 (Sutra 162):

“When I met Santhanam, he was already a learned and famous scholar, who had translated many classical astrological scriptures:


• Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra
• Saravali of Kalyana Varma
• An Adorable Masterpiece of Hindu Astrology
• Garga Hora
• Nashta Jatakam
• Doctrines of Suka Nadi
• The Secrets of Ashtakavarga
• An Epitome of Astrological Nadis???

I presume the scholar Santhanam must have taken whole sign houses from these classics.

Braha also writes in the same book (Sutra 71 You must use the bhava chart):

“As taught in my other books, there are two different house systems, and both must be used in order to gain accuracy. The first is the older, more traditional method, where degrees are irrelevant.???

Braha writes later in the same page:

“When obtaining Jyotish readings in India, it’s typical to find astrologers using either of the two house systems. For example, Santhanam, my first mentor, noted both systems, but emphasized the ancient one and taught me to do the same. However, my second teacher, P.M. Padia, told me that for the accurate results, both systems must always be used. His reasoning wasn’t philosophical, but practical. He always used what worked best and produced the most accuracy.???

When James was about to leave India and return to the US, he had promised his mentor Santhanam to send him anything he wanted. Santhanam asked James to get him a copy of Al Biruni’s The Elements of Astrology since he could not find the book in India. It took James 4-5 years to find a cheaply made photocopied pamphlet. This happened in the early 80s. How much the world has changed in just 40 years in regards to having so many translations of the ancients available at our fingertips! :)

One of these books is Guido Bonatti’s Book of Astronomy, which Benjamin Dykes translated from Latin and published in 2007. I strongly recommend everyone to read and reread Ben’s Introduction. I will briefly quote from what Dykes wrote in section 6 Domiciles, Houses and Places:

“We do not know yet exactly when or why this transfer of topical responsibility began to pass from the whole-sign houses to the quadrant or dynamical houses, but two things are absolutely clear: (1) by Bonatti's time the transfer was well underway, and he describes both sorts of charts. As an example, in Tr. 8, Ch. 116, Bonatti appropriates Abu Ma'shar's text describing a mundane revolution, and Abu Ma'shar uses exclusively whole sign houses. On the other hand, when Bonatti gives the natal figure of his own nephew, he uses all of the intermediary house cusps. Moreover, (2) editorial interference over time accelerated the changes by "correcting" the earlier texts to support quadrant houses (see below).???

In the next paragraph Ben Dykes says:

“When comparing the 1491 and 1550 editions, it is clear that editorial interference is responsible for changing key word endings that can often make all of the difference between a sentence referring to quadrant houses or to whole-signs. To put it bluntly, it seems that editors tried to "correct" the earlier edition. In so doing, they also inadvertently "corrected" Bonatti's reports of his own predecessors. The result is that later astrologers have had a mistaken impression of the house systems used both by Bonatti and his medieval (especially Arab, Persian, and Jewish) predecessors.???

In the last paragraph of section 6, Ben Dykes writes:

“Unfortunately, while this will help us read Bonatti's text, by itself it will not help us understand what Bonatti thought when he was reading his predecessors. Often he recognizes their use of whole-signs, but did he tend to ignore this in practice? Or did he use it often but not tell us? The use of whole signs is especially strong in Tr. 7 on elections-did Bonatti himself therefore use them much in elections but not in horary questions? We may never have complete answers to these questions, but in the future we should be able to reconstruct more of his role in the historical shift away from whole-sign to quadrant houses.???

On p. 375 Figure 28 A Question from Sahl, Ben Dykes writes in a footnote:


“This chart suggests a latitude at approximately 30"N (for example, near Basra, Iraq). But Sahl himself gives 20° Gemini for the Ascendant and 0° Pisces for the Midheaven (suggesting a latitude of approximately 34°N, close to Baghdad's latitude), and omits all other cusp locations. The fact that Bonatti has filled in the other cusps as well as having gotten a different Midheaven value, suggests that he has recalculated the chart. I would also point out that this passage is a paraphrase, with some elements out of order, and with Sahl's clear references to whole sign houses (in the Latin translation) omitted.???

Deb, I will reply to you later today or tomorrow as my post is getting rather long.
Ancient and Chinese Astrology:


Zagata wrote:I presume the scholar Santhanam must have taken whole sign houses from these classics.
Not as far as I can make out, no. I'm happy to look at any particular quotations, though (as long as the Sanskrit text can be found).
I will briefly quote from what Dykes wrote in section 6 Domiciles, Houses and Places:

“We do not know yet exactly when or why this transfer of topical responsibility began to pass from the whole-sign houses to the quadrant or dynamical houses, [...]???
With all due respect to Ben, I think this description is misleading and that the idea of 'topical' whole-sign houses versus 'dynamical' quadrant houses is a very recent construct (unlike the use of both kinds of houses). Valens, writing in the 2nd century CE, assigned the topics of actions, honours and children to the MC (even when it falls in the 9th sign from the ascendant), and thouse of foundations, properties and parents to the IC.

Assumptions and appeals to modern authors won't bring us any nearer a solution to the question of whether whole-signs were formally defined and prescribed in ancient or medieval times. Only verifiable quotations from historical authors can do that.

Prof. Stephan Heilen in his monumental work "Hadriani genitura" – Die astrologischen Fragmente des Antigonos von Nikaia, (Walter De Gruyter, 2015, 1450 pp.) on pages 686-702 explains in details the Hellenistic teaching about houses/places (τόπος -Gr.). According to him many Hellenistic authors and astrologers such as Nechepso and Petosiris, Timaios, Serapion, Manilius, Thrasyllos, Balbillos, Dorotheus, Imbrasios of Ephesus, Antigonus of Nicea, the author of Michigan Papyrus, Antiochus of Athens, Sextus Empiricus and others have used signs and houses/places as interchangeable terms (p.691-692). One quote from his book which I think summarize very well his opinion regarding what type of house system the ancients used (p.693):
"Die übliche Einteilung der 12 Orte ist also nicht nur eine äquale in dem Sinne, dass jeder Ort 30° umfasst (vgl. die englische Bezeichnung ‘equal house system’), sondern eine äqual-identische in dem Sinne, dass die 30° eines jeden Ortes mit den 30° eines Tierkreiszeichens übereinstimmen."

"Die übliche Einteilung der 12 Orte ist also nicht nur eine äquale in dem Sinne, dass jeder Ort 30° umfasst (vgl. die englische Bezeichnung ‘equal house system’), sondern eine äqual-identische in dem Sinne, dass die 30° eines jeden Ortes mit den 30° eines Tierkreiszeichens übereinstimmen."
Translation please?

AJ wrote:
"Die übliche Einteilung der 12 Orte ist also nicht nur eine äquale in dem Sinne, dass jeder Ort 30° umfasst (vgl. die englische Bezeichnung ‘equal house system’), sondern eine äqual-identische in dem Sinne, dass die 30° eines jeden Ortes mit den 30° eines Tierkreiszeichens übereinstimmen."
Translation please?
The common division of the 12 places is thus not just an equal one in the sense that each place comprises 30° (cf. the English designation ‘equal house system’), but an equal-identical one in the sense that the 30° of each place agree with the 30° of a zodiacal sign.

(This is another simple statement about what is the practice most commonly met with. Nobody is disputing that. I don't know how many times I've said that now.)

the whole conversation is very tedious and conflict ridden as i see it..

i would just like to point out that oral traditions precede written traditions.. to ignore the oral traditions seems very short sighted as i see it as well... but i realize the great emphasis on written statement and how it basically ignores what came before it, or gives it less emphasis for obvious reason...

it would be nice if people knew how to get along and not alienate others... i know it is a lot to ask, but people can dream!

Martin Gansten wrote: For myself, I have yet to see any ancient or medieval source that formally defines or prescribes whole-sign houses (as their proponents do today), states that they are equal or superior to houses calculated by degree, or that the latter should not be used for 'topics' but only for strength or for particular techniques like life-span calculations. What I have seen, repeatedly, are statements of the opposite kind: that if you want to avoid error, be sure to calculate houses (and lots, etc.) by degree. Whether those authors practised what they preached is a different matter: that is where the question of Why comes in.
I don't want to get too sucked into all this here but this post by Martin Gansten really resonates with me.

I would also add that I think we should remember that calculating things was not always as straight forward in ancient times as it is today - even before the advent of computer software to do the heavy lifting for us.

Valens suggests this in various places in his text.
For example, in regards calculating the planets ,he says:
"When the degree is found, then it is possible to make definite forecasts about the future. Determining the precise degree is difficult, but not impossible."
[Book VI, Riley's translation, p. 117]

Well it should go without saying, but maybe it's worth just articulating it: if you don't bother to calculate the planetary degree (because it's too difficult/tedious) then you have to either not plot the planet in a house at all, or if you want to do so, then the best you can do is position it by sign.

Well if you only position it by sign, you cannot know in what degree-based house it is in. You can only know what sign it is in, and therefore unless your house system is equally just recording the sign (without degrees), then you cannot use any house system. What are you left with? Whole sign houses.

So we shouldn't preclude that WSH was used in cases when the effort to calculate the planetary degrees was too difficult or tedious to calculate.

That might seem anathema to the modern mind who typically doesn't have to do a single calculation to cast a chart, but if we had to jump through all the hoops that an ancient astrologer did, maybe you'd give up.

The logical error, as I see it, is assuming that every instance of a chart appearing to employ WSH is a result of the author *preferring* WSH rather than just recognising that not every chart or enquiry requires the effort to calculate planetary positions.

As Valens again says:
"observe the position of the stars in degrees when necessary for determinations to the degree, to observe their positions by sign when that level of accuracy is appropriate’"
[Book IV, Riley's translation, p. 78]

It is my belief that ancient astrologers used WSH for precisely these kinds of reasons. I do not believe that WSH was an explicit preference for ancient astrologers as a group (though I'm willing to imagine that it was for some). I don't personally think we have evidence to claim that WSH were the preferred system of houses. Obviously lots of people disagree hence all this controversy.

But just as Martin has not seen any definition or statement of preference by any ancient astrologer, nor have I. And when you think about it, this whole thing goes away as soon as someone provides a single astrologer (not astrology skeptic), from, say, the early Hellenistic period who defines WSH explicitly (rather than from inferrence) and then implies any preference for this method.

I haven't found it. I have found suggestions to the contrary. I can't speak any ancient languages so I'm only going by English translations - it may well be I've been let down by those translations and I'm willing to change my mind provided more compelling evidence is provided.

That said, any astrologers today should use absolutely whatever the hell house system they want to use. Equally whether this or that ancient astrologer used a given house system or not really shouldn't emotionally (or otherwise) affect anybody today.
Last edited by Paul on Wed Feb 15, 2023 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing" - Socrates


That said, any astrologers today should use absolutely whatever the hell house system they want to use. Equally whether this or that ancient astrologer used a given house system or not really shouldn't emotionally (or otherwise) affect anybody today.
Agree with you Paul.

I started in astrology using Placidus because it was the only system with tables.
I switched to Koch because it was the system used in cosmobiology.
I used Placidus and then Regiomontanus for Horary because it was what other astrologers used.
I now use Topocentric because I find evidence on the intermediate cusps.
I have seen astrologers doing magic with Solar Charts (not a House system but a Sign system).
Any house system has the potential to say something about the chart.
Above all, it is your interpretation that makes the difference.
The astrologers who inspired me the most were not always strong on the scientific side.

james_m wrote:i would just like to point out that oral traditions precede written traditions.. to ignore the oral traditions seems very short sighted as i see it as well...
If we had access to oral sources predating the 19th century, that would be great. Unfortunately, there were no means of recording oral teachings before then, which means that they are lost, utterly and forever.

As Valens again says:
"observe the position of the stars in degrees when necessary for determinations to the degree, to observe their positions by sign when that level of accuracy is appropriate’"
[Book IV, Riley's translation, p. 78]
I think the reminder about how much detail to trouble with in hand calculation is important. Lilly explains how, in most horaries, it is good enough to read the planetary noon positions (only need to check further if there is a reason to know when an aspect will perfect). For the Moon just quarter its daily motion and add the appropriate amount to the noon time - all very quickly done and good enough for most circumstances. But then we get the reminder that this will suffice many times, but not for matters of importance or precision. All working craftsmen know when it's good enough to go by rule of thumb, and when to get the measure out.

Re Heilan: I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times; he is a scholar and a gentleman, with impeccable research standards. I was at the Warburg event when Rob Hand presented his paper on WSH and I saw the immediately warm reception Heilan gave to the presentation of Hand’s logic. I recall him making a comment during the questions at the end of the talk, along the lines of how this is so useful as it seems to make sense of many things.

Now I didn’t have the same sense of Rob’s research being robust – I saw holes in various points he presented in that paper, with arguments that required us to look at the matter through one particular lens, and too many things that had to be put aside that were begging for attention.

I did (as I always do) explain my position was one where I couldn’t accept those points, but there is only so much you can say before you just come across as contentious about someone else’s research points. The reason I am saying this is only to mention that I think many people are seeing what they are being directed to see, and they are not seeing some things that are like unfamiliar ships on the horizon to their vision.

One of the persuasive arguments of Hand was that the lack of notation of the MC proved the astrologers could not have calculated the angles. That point is now known to be redundant, and it was a key argument in Hand’s theory. He also argued that Firmicus advocated a whole sign, and I think we can now agree, he did not.

So, at this point I don’t think any of us should be basing this matter on appeals to authority, or quoting what someone else has said as evidence that this proves ths theory or that. This matter wants reconsideration from a fresh perspective, because everything that has recently been published has suffered from an overload of presumptions built into it.

EG - I agree with Martin about Dykes attempts to evidence whole sign in Bonatti – this is like the Morin situation. We know that Bonatt’s charts were cast in Alcabitius, and that his text explains in detail why the houses must be properly constructed. I made the comment to Ben at the time of publication that using the same logic he applied, I could prove William Lilly used whole sign too (if I ignored the chart evidence). Also, I do bear in mind that his Bonatti translation, magnificent as it was, was an early translation work for Ben so I am not sure even he would agree with all of his annotated proposals now.

6) Did I sneakily edit my own work?

6) Did I sneakily edit my own work?

The FBI declined to get involved, but there has been a forensic-level investigation into the possibility of me editing the recording of my own presentation and removing four words before making it freely available for personal attack.
As reported by the Good Man himself (I didn’t get this from him, but from the brusque accusations of his iratified followers).
(Hang on, did his 7-hour feature play the copyrighted audio file without permission? I trust he did not show video footage from my copyrighted presentation too; or thinks that he can use my original creative ideas in text reproduction for his channel? Just because I release my research work for free doesn’t mean I don’t retain the rights; something used to fill 7 hours seems beyond ‘fair use’ to me!)

Anyway, to this point: I was a bit surprised to hear this, as I struggled to remember making any significant changes. Then surprise turned to disbelief that anyone would make a deal of this one!

Nevertheless, having been hounded to provide an answer:
I remember wanting to be able to go through the video to tidy it up before I released it to my own private students (this was months ago) and feeling frustrated that I didn't have the time to do that. So it was pretty much in its raw state, even though there are parts of it I definitely would have cleaned up if I’d been offering it for sale or considering the much wider circulation it would later get. I remember clipping a little from the beginning and the end and a few very small, insignificant edits, so that the whole thing lasted exactly 60 minutes.
I assume I clipped that little comment because it was repeated.
This was a rather casual presentation for me, given for free for an AA conference, where I filled in a speaking slot for someone else. I had little time to prepare a ‘presentation’ (my PP was put together in the morning of the day I delivered around noon) – although a big topic, this was not the ‘big thing’ in my life at that time, compared to some other pressing deadlines I was working on.
Note the style of my delivery is very much in the nature of in-the-moment-live, spontaneous dialogue, recounting from experience without reference to notes.
Here is the dialogue in its context, with those clipped words reinserted in square brackets. Read in full, within context. This should make it absolutely clear, to anyone with a functioning brain-cell, that I am talking about awareness of this approach not existing within my experience at the specific time referred to.

I’m particularly stirred to give this presentation in view of the quote on the screen: “the whole Sign House system is the oldest form of house division and remained the preferred method of determining houses for about a thousand years after its Inception???.

That definition is all over the internet, on many credible authoritative websites; and any new student coming into astrology is obviously going to think “Well, everybody's telling me this is a great house system; it’s the easiest: it's the best; it's the oldest, and it was preferred for a thousand years???. So, you know, why would you not use it? Let's take a look at the issues.

So I want to say, that what's of interest to me is: I am a pre-computer astrologer; when I started studying astrology you had to manually calculate your charts. The internet (the World Wide Web) wasn't invented; there were forms of the internet, but there wasn't a public web that we all shared.

And I remember in the 80s, and early 90s, there wasn't any semblance of a house system called Whole Sign Houses. I mean, I would like to say there was zero recognition of it in the western tradition. I don't know about Vedic systems, or Hindu astrologers using sidereal systems might have used something like that, but certainly as an astrologer that was in the community at the time, there was no awareness of anybody using Whole Sign Houses, showing charts, teaching on it, talking about it, [it just didn’t exist] prior to the 1990s, when it was launched with a big fanfare by Project Hindsight. So, you know, this is just 30 years. We've moved from a situation where there was virtually no recognition of this system – like I say, I would say “zero??? but there might have been one or two people using it (like there were some people claiming there are 13 signs in the Zodiac) - but it didn't exist within the mainstream practice prior to the 1990s.
I've underlined the last remark so that those unable to see the wood for the trees can understand the personalised and limited time-frame context in which I was saying it didn’t exist (clue again – for me; in my experience – that is, at that time, and in my own experience of things, amongst the astrologers I was mixing with – at that time).

Since I’m an editor by instinct, and wanting to shave a couple of minutes off the length of the whole thing, I no doubt realised I had repeated the same words “it didn’t exist??? more than once in the same paragraph (that sort of thing annoys my Virgo Moon). The gist of my point is sufficiently made and very clear.

BTW, if someone is going to put me and my work on trial for 7 hours, followed by ongoing analysis into eternity, it would have been nice to have been called as a witness in my own defence.
Or someone could have asked me about this *before* suggesting to the world that I'm just sneaky and not to be trusted, or going off on a tangent for hours and hours to accuse me of persistently holding to views that I keep shouting “I don’t have!!???
I suppose it is too much to expect the Good Man to possess a moral compass and refrain from circulating malicious comments like this to his 60K+ fired up Twitter followers, more than 40 of whom have recirculated that demeaning remark, so I have to suffer offering justifications like this, to account for myself to a mob reaction. Let alone that he is plagiarising my work constantly, by presenting my original research ideas on his channel without permission to my own detriment.

For the record: I will edit my own work any way I choose - even if I took half of it out, and played the whole thing backwards, speeded up, I wouldn't be mashing it up half as much as Brennan has.

(In future - should we call anyone who edits their postings here "sneaky"?)