©by Donna Cunningham, MSW
The following is an excerpt from my hard copy book, How to Read your Astrology Chart, available from the publisher, Red Wheel/Weiser.
For at least 40 years, astrologers have disagreed about house divisions, often vociferously. The more scientific-minded tend to espouse the Koch system, while diehards like myself stick with the traditional Placidus system. There are trends in house cusp choices, and the current hottie is Whole Sign Houses.
What makes this such a knotty problem is that intermediate cusps may be in different signs in one system than the other, and some planets may change houses, depending on which system you use. I’ve noticed that many people pick the one that puts their own planets in the best light. If their Venus falls in the self-defeating twelfth in one system and the friendly eleventh in another, they’ll swear by the one that puts Venus in the eleventh.
No one seems to disagree about the cusps of the first, fourth, seventh and tenth houses. They correspond with the four angles which showed up so sharply in the Gauquelin studies, and a planet sitting on one of them carries extra power. They are clearly demarcated and identical in all but the equal house and Whole Sign Houses, which bury the true Midheaven and IC.
These angles also correspond with four major reference points in space–the two horizons, the zenith, and the nadir. Unlike other house cusps, they are given their own names–the Ascendant, IC, Descendant, and Midheaven. These four points in space are nearly as active as a planet. If the birth time is exact, when a transiting or progressed planet forms an aspect to one of them, an event will usually occur. A progressed angle making an aspect to a natal position will also coincide with an event.
For all the above reasons, those four cusps are real. I am not much convinced of the reality of the rest of the cusps. There is no such clear demarcation of the intermediate house cusps–2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, and 12. Their degree and even their sign may vary with the house system. A planet which sits on one of these cusps does not gain in power.
Events only occasionally occur when a planet crosses them by transit or progression. When they do, there is usually a natal planet in that numerical range that accounts for it. (E.g., the house cusp is at 8 Libra, but there are planets at 8 Cancer and 8 Leo.) Unlike the progressed angles, when a progressed intermediate house cusp forms an angle to a natal planet, it does not jibe with events.
You will often see a meaningful development when a transiting or progressed planet crosses an angle, but don’t expect instant action when one crosses an intermediate house cusp. Generally, though new conditions are shaping up, no action will take place until an aspect is formed to a natal planet or angle.
If the intermediate cusps were real divisions rather than artificial ones, there wouldn’t be such controversy about them–the truth would be self-evident.
Instead of crisp dividing lines, there may be gray areas shading gradually from one house into the other. I hold as suspect any planet within five degrees of an intermediate cusp.
I then question the person as to which house seems to be the focus of that planet’s energy. What these interviews clarify, as often as not, is that the planet on the cusp affects and is affected by the matters of both houses.
Moreover, it appears to draw the two together. For instance, Venus on the eleventh/twelfth cusp often shows up as a tendency to have secret, unrequited crushes on friends or even–until the person learns better–to engage in unhappy, illicit affairs within their circle of friends.
This has been an excerpt from my hard copy book, How to Read your Astrology Chart, available from the publisher, Red Wheel/Weiser.
Readers, do you have a planet that changes houses depending on the system? What systems have you tried, and in which one does the meaning of the planet correspond best with the house of its placement? Share your experience in the comment section.
More Posts about the Houses:
- Download a chapter on the houses here: AGSA ch13-houses
- Download a chart blank here: Blank chart with house meanings
- A Series of Q&A sessions on all 12 houses starts here: Readers Ask: Basic Questions about the 12 Houses
- How Do House System Choices Affect Your Chart?
- Full Houses vs. Empty Houses in your Chart—What to Expect
- The Houses–12 Different Ways to Heal from Stress and Trauma
- How Does your First House Give the Wrong Impression?
- Career Differences between the 10th, 2nd, and 6th House
- Midheaven 101—What the 10th House Cusp Shows about You
- See more articles on the 12 houses in the category Houses of the Horoscope.