View Full Version : Newbie with a never answered question

27-01-2007, 00:36
I keep on trying to find an answer to this but haven't found it on the internet or in a book or anything. The question:

Why, depending on where you are at birth and the time of day, are certain houses different sizes. For instance, an ephemeris shows different rising suns depending on the time of day. But being born farther into the northern atmosphere, Pisces is smaller than the Gemini section of when it "changes" your rising sun. Also, the midheaven/nadir change place depending on the time of day and month and such too. I just don't know how the houses change and in order for me to get over my OCD self, I need to find out or else I can't continue learning. Why do the houses change size, is in essence, my question.

Thanks much to all of you experienced astrologers.


27-01-2007, 02:26
Your question is a good one. The Earth is a sphere. The globe which we may have on a shelf to look at shows nicely marked off lines of longitude (vertical lines delineating blocks of coverage or area around the globe in a east-west direction. We have, on this globe, an equator line midway between the two poles (north and south). Paralleling the equator are lines of latitude that running east to west that delineate block of coverage or area in a north-south direction. Because of this orderly definition of global areas, you may be expecting that your natal chart will have a similar arrangement of order and balance. Not so!

Several factors enter into the distortions you see.

** First, we are trying to project some of the 3-dimensional aspects of the globe and the apparent celestial sphere onto a flat sheet of paper.

** Second, the globe's axis is almost always tipped, to a greater or lesser degree, towards or away from the Sun at noon time. I say "noon time" because we can relate to that due to the Sun being high in the sky in the northern summer time and lower in the sky in the northern winter time. At night, the opposite is true -- the winter Moons are often high in the sky while the summer Moons are often lower in the sky generally speaking.

** With the location and time of the day, at the time we are born, the tipped axis and the latitude we are at presents us with a view of our local horizon that is projected upon the celestial sphere. Since we are tipped and angled to this celestial sphere which remains constant, we find that our local horizon's east, south and west points intersect the apparent zodiac and its lines of latitude/declination differently. Our horizon is a flat plane to us but the celestial sphere is a "sphere" and the mixing of 2 dimensions with 3 dimensions results in distortions.

** The "houses" of the chart are arrived at mathematically by dividing the arc between the Ascendant point (where our local horizon intersects the zodiac) and the MC (where our overhead point intersects the zodiac when projected southward) into three segments. Various house systems use various math formulas for this which mostly boil down to a couple of variations. The houses reflect a tri-segmentation by degree along the arc between the Asc. and MC, or the a division by the time is takes to for each segment to rise from the Asc. to the MC, or by some other obtuse and sometimes abstract value.

** Each house system will distort or define house cusps differently at various latitudes as a general rule. When all of this is plotted on a sheet of paper we end up with distorted houses. Only the degrees of the zodiac, which we use as a measuring tool, remain constant.

I've tried to explain this without reverting to math or spherical trigonometry, and there are some "technical" shortcuts in how I've explained this, but I think the explanation provides an introductory grasp of what is involved. Dave

27-01-2007, 03:38
This is one of the main reasons I adopt the Equal House System. It's what some of my favorite astrologers (linda goodman, alan leo, sepharial) have always used for natal horoscopes and in all my experience of studying and practicing astrology... It worked best. (Koch came second).

Not to start a fist-fight among other astrologers, but it's always more rewarding to experiment with other house systems rather than sticking to whichever default system (*cough cough placidus cough*) majority of websites and softwares utilize. Equal worked best for me, and hence I use it. The most. However, whenever I felt it lacking, I tried the second best system that worked for me (Koch).

So try experimenting with house systems and see what works for you.

Love and Blessings

27-01-2007, 08:11
tarotreader2007, you asked for an explanation of why the houses of your chart were so distorted. I have tried to answer that. Meanwhile, sweet_intuition has expanded the question to which house system might be useful.

Normally I would let that pass because the discussion of house systems is quite complex. But, the issue of "Equal House" usage is a bit different. The equal house system, when used in your charting, has an Ascendant degree which is determined much along the lines I described in my earlier response. It where the eastern local horizon intersects the zodiac in terms of a line from the north to south passing thru the eastern horizon and then the zodiac.

Once this degree is determined, one goes back to the two-dimensional chart and just construct equal 30 degree segments using the Ascendant as a starting point. This has both good and bad points depending upon your use of the chart and method of interpretation.

** House cusps are easy to define.
** The regular cusp locations make it easier to find aspects between planets by making a visual scan of the chart.
** Astrology is based on cyclic movements of the planets. Having both equal signs and equal houses makes it easier to project planetary movement in terms of weeks, months or years so as to grasp when important cyclic points (such as conjunctions) will approximately occur.

** The structure of the MC and the ASC degree locations are a function of your birth time and birth location. Using these points makes the house system of your chart unique to you, your birth time, your birth location. The equal house system trashes this uniqeness-to-you since it does not structure the chart so as to reflect this uniqueness.
** Certain times and places on the globe will emphasize a house and/or sign thru its distorted presentation on the astrological chart. This can symbolically be seen in the chart and in the chart-owners life. The equal house system hides this emphasis of house and/or sign. That sign might take, for example, three and a half hours to rise, therefore playing a major role in that person's life.

Now, I'll stop here as I don't want to get into the more complex discussion of which house system works better with which type of chart-work. But I thought it appropriate to comment on the equal house system. As noted, there is nothing wrong or right about any one system but there are reasons why some systems are used in some situation but not in other situations. I have found that very few astrologers change the house system used depending upon the astrological work to be done. Dave

27-01-2007, 08:59
I, for one, think it is of vital importance to maintain the Ascendant and Midheaven in the house system as a minimum to preserve the integrity of the chart, which is, essentially, a 2D map of the 3D sky at your birth. Of all the house cusps, only the Horizon and Meridian are "real".

The midheaven is the highest point of the zodiac -- symbolically very important if you think about it -- The highest manifestation of what you can be your destiny/vocation/calling, if done right -- also, the highest point on the mountain, the part first to be seen from afar. The Nadir is the base upon which your entire universe rests.

The Ascendant is quite simply, your starting place. The point on the Zodiac that is currently rising over the horizon -- the essential marker of what separates "you" from "not you". And the Descendant, of course is the symbol of "Otherness" in your life. Also, The East/Rising is a symbol of free will/choice, and the West/Setting is symbolic of fate and choices that are beyond our control.

Take away one or the other, and you lose a very real part of the Sky-Symbol that is your birthchart. "As Above, So Below."

Now, there are a dozen ways to determine where the borders for high, medium, and low in the sky are, which is essentially what the houses are doing, and I believe that certain house systems will only work for certain astrologers. I use Placidus, but some use Porphyry, and some use Koch.
The differences are in how they divide the 4 sections of the sky into 12. And since they're all, essentially artificial, who's to say who's right? But, for my own use, at least, the Midheaven/Nadir and the Ascendant/Descendant are sacrosanct.

(This of course, would segue nicely into a discussion on Equatorial projections and how a body in your first house could actually be above the horizon at the time of your birth, like Pallas Athene on my chart...)

27-01-2007, 18:31

Thank you so much for posting! I've been trying to wrap my brain around the whole snarly bit of house systems for the last couple months. Dave's been graciously helping me try to understand it, so thank you for posting : ) It's like they say in grade school, if one person has a question, odds are, a lot of other kids have the same question.

The preciseness of natal chart makes sense, esp. re: MC, IC, Asc, full horizon and meridian (north and south nodes, too?) Question, though...do you keep such accuracy when doing progressions (in the outer wheel), esp. when you live at a very different latitude/longitude than when you were born? Or, can you keep it closer to an equal system in the outer ring, so that it's easier to take a gander, for instance, of what sign and degree the moon's in?

27-01-2007, 22:19
Relocation is a vexing question, even under the best of circumstances! Many astrologers use one of two systems: either they recompute the chart for the birth date, time and timezone, with the relocated longitude and latitude (this is called a relocated chart, and it features the fact that all the planets are in precisely the natal degrees; only the houses change), or they use astrocartography, which is a system for correlating where planets rise, culminate, set, and anticulminate on the globe. The thing is: ask around and see how many people would throw out the natal chart and use the relocated chart exclusively. You'll find an exceedingly short list. And that's the point. The only major technique that is often computed for a relocated position is the solar return. And even there, there is controversy, with many different schools, especially European continental ones, favoring the natal location.

28-01-2007, 06:30
Just to add a little something about the equal house method. If one would give a read to this wonderful yet forgotten book by famed astrologer Sydney Omarr - My World of Astrology, it explains a lot about it, especially regarding erecting a chart and the placement of planets in the houses.