Astrology Questions: Ask the Astrologer Eight

Astrology Questions: Ask the Astrologer Eight

Not part of any kind of a series, but the question came up for a second, third time, “Which house system?”

Can’t help but think of the prologue to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette.

Two households, both alike in dignity,

(Line 1.)

Koch House Display

Koch House Display

Astrology Houses are numerically derived and then drawn segments of the sky. Like splitting up a Pecan Pie, or any pie, but I like Pecan so, let’s just use that.

With a couple of clients, what I saw, heard, “I like the Placidus House System better.”

What was handed down as lore, verbal tradition, from several astrology teachers, and I can’t even provide a source, as I’m out of my range on this — lack available biological memory as to a source — but the way I learned it?

First off, what I did was experiment. In the early days, I used a variety of house systems, switching each year, more as a record-keeping effort, but also, trying to see what fit best. Being from Austin, except for a few unicorns, most the residents — think about those formative years along the shores of Town Lake — were from elsewhere. Typically? It was big-brained people escaping portions of Texas that were, perhaps, more narrow-minded. Alas, that was then, old Austin.

The experiment wended its way through various house systems until academic research, and practical application, I was averaging around 500 charts in a year, that would be charts I saved, not just glanced out, the results led me to the Koch House System.

Straight from my own, porous memory, what I recall? The Koch House System is more “mathematically pure,” and does resemble an approximate version of the equal house system.

Placidus House Display

Placidus House Display

Trying to dig up a simple yet effective graphic display of these concepts? Two charts, alike dignity. Simple enough, and examine those charts closely, same data, different display. The only change is House Systems, one is Koch and the other is Placidus. A simple way to explain the differences, without too much math?

Look at the “8th House Cusp,” the thin line just above the horizon on each chart. With both charts, the cardinal points are the same, exactly the same. The slices of pie are not unlike my family’s version of splitting stuff up equally, and look at the difference, let’s take one line, one slice, the 7th House. On the Koch system, the slice goes from 11 Leo to 15 Virgo, just a shade more than 33 degrees, bigger than the 30 degree number, but as adjusted for the Astrological House’s place on the planet? Works well for me.

With the Placidus House System, the same line is 11 Leo to 22 Virgo, or more than 40 degrees wide. With these numbers, there’s a correspondence around the rest of the chart. Placidus 10 & 11 Houses are barely 20 degrees each whereas the Koch 10 & 11 are more than 25 degrees each.

Yeah, imagine my family trying to equally divide pie at a holiday. “I like Placidus Pecan Pie better,” yeah, because you get a bigger slice?

Back to the academic research, several of the great thinkers in my early astrology education agreed that the Koch House System was better for predictive astrology.

This came up recently, as I have one client who like Placidus better. Preferred the results from using that house system. When doing a reading, that’s the house system I use, as preferred by the client — I’m not married to my use of the Koch system but I have found, over the intervening years, the Koch system while it doesn’t fit everyone, it does fit my style.

The history is kind of fascinating, this being more from the lines of lore rather than anything I could quickly access — the story I got? Placidus had better advertising. Better marketing. Not a better system, but from a monk’s perspective, they calculated and copied over those tables more frequently, so the system got used more, so it was more popular.

My first astrology charts were done in Placidus, and then, I tried several others. Over time, and certainly for the bulk of my weekly columns, I use the Koch House System. Not a ringing endorsement, but like the visual shows, the Placidus gives a more uneven sense of the houses, with — in the example — the 1st and 7th Houses being more than 40 degrees wide, which, in turn, shrinks the rest of the houses.

Margin of error?

Included in BareFoot Astrology, I think, is my notation that the lines between the houses are not hard and fast, not definitive black lines, but more like gray, fuzzy lines. Might be best to remember that, too.

BareFoot Astrology

Portable Mercury Retrograde

Portable Mercury Retrograde

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Astrology Questions: Ask the Astrologer Eight

Kramer Wetzel

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