New House Models
Regular readers of The Mutable Dilemma are aware that I consider Astrology to be largely symbolic. I think that the sky is a convenient way to see the order in the cosmos; I do not think the sky creates the order. Human conceptual systems in religion, philosophy, and science, are models which attempt to simplify the complicated reality of life and cosmos, to give us increased understanding and control. Models are selective, seeking the key principles of the complex whole they represent, so they are never “absolute truth.” All we can expect of a model is that it be useful. For anything as complex as life and the cosmos, there is not likely to be a single “true” model. Instead we have many models of varying value or usefulness. Of any model, we ask “Is it helpful in our understanding of ourselves and life?”
My preferred model in astrology suggests that a conceptual system with twelve sides of life can be highly useful. In this model, many different astronomical factors are assumed to symbolize the same key principle; one of the twelve ways of being in the world. This does not mean that planets, signs, houses, nodes, dwads, etc. are identical! It does mean that I think they symbolize the same twelve key principles. Planets are definitely the most important with aspects next, houses next, signs last (of the big four) and nodes and dwads still further down the scale. This means that I think that the first house, like the first sign, Aries, and its ruler, Mars, are all different ways that the horoscope indicates instinctive action, a sense of personal identity, our ability to be ourselves spontaneously and independently. The second house would be like Venus and Taurus, the pleasure principle; our capacity to enjoy the material world whether we seek such pleasure from making money, collecting possessions, indulging the appetites, or creating beauty.. And so on.
The preceding model has worked well for me during many years of personal counseling, including work with numerous psychological professionals. But that does not mean that it is the only possible useful model. Carl Payne Tobey preferred a model with Leo in the first house and the signs running backward, so the twelfth house was associated with Virgo, the eleventh with Libra, the tenth with Scorpio, etc. Part of Tobey’s reasoning was based on the astronomical fact that the earth’s path around the Sun (the ecliptic) which is the base of our tropical or seasonal zodiac, gives us the signs in counter-clockwise order while the movement of the planets through the houses is clockwise, due to the rotation of earth every twenty-four hours around our own axis. Currently, two well-known astrologers, Robert Hand and James Eshelman, have independently offered their own models for the astrological houses, using Tobey’s idea of a clockwise movement but each offering his own version of symbolic meanings assigned to the houses.
I missed Rob Hand’s lecture on his model, but did hear Jim Eshelman at the SWAC conference in Oct. l980, and Jim said that the ideas had quite a few parallels. If I may be allowed to present the essence of Jim’s talk (and he is invited to offer his own version in a future issue of our journal if I fail to do it justice), he is basing his model on a division of the houses into hemispheres. The eastern half of the chart is regarded as “self” and the western half as “others.” The northern (bottom) half is described as “inner” and the southern half as “outer.” Jim went through the houses, using these two dichotomies, describing the shift from self and inner (NE quadrant) to self and outer (SE quad) to other and outer (SW quad) to other and inner (NW quad). I had problems justifying the element movement (the reverse of our accustomed order of fire (new outreach), earth (direct that energy into the physical world), air (try to conceptualize and verbalize the fire-earth experience just completed) and water (absorb and assimilate the results of all this experience into the unconscious to prepare for a new fire beginning). I had trouble thinking of the transpersonal (SE quad) area as a focus on self. I had trouble with the eighth house as other and outer since I consider it to include a passion for self-knowledge and self-mastery, though these goals are often worked out through relationships with others, including reactions to and interactions with others. The most introverted, inward, “cut off from people” child I have ever known had everything in her chart in the 8th, l0th, and l2th houses except for one planet in the 5th house. I had trouble with the third house being self and inner. I find it more talkative and outgoing.
Yet, in spite of my problems with Jim’s model, it makes sense that the course of the day is marked by a movement of the planets through the houses in reverse of their numbers and that there ought to be a usable model which takes this into account. I have not abandoned the shared meaning of planet, house, and sign, but feel that we could think of the daily action as being manifested in this way. Remember, all models are simplified representations of a more complicated reality, so we can start by assuming two hours of time for each house, an average which is actually never met in reality. Among the “higher order” abstractions of astrology, we include the four elements (described briefly above) and the three qualities, and I also feel that a division of the twelve into thirds is a useful abstraction. The first third I call the personal needs, the second the interpersonal relationships, and the last third the transpersonal or impersonal area. We move from childhood to mature adult to concern with humanity, universal law and a search for final truth and ideals.
Using this concept or model of thirds of a 24 hour day, we meet our personal needs by going to sleep, to recharge the battery, including houses one through four, but of course in reverse order, between the hours of ten P.M. and 6 A.M. We begin to face the world with sunrise at 6 A.M. but the first two hours are very inner, for meditation and tuning in to the infinite to plan the day and ask for guidance and help in it. At 8 A.M., as we reach the 11th house, we plunge into our involvement with other people, and continue through the transpersonal area until 2 P.M. In the 8th and 7th houses we are still much involved in the world, but with more focus on close interpersonal interactions, finishing up our joint financial concerns in the 8th house by 4 P.M. and permitting some socializing (cocktails anyone?) between 4 and 6 P.M.. Necessary work on the more personal level (preparing dinner, eating it, cleaning up after it, etc.) takes up to 8 P.M. and the 5th house where we have another two hours for entertainment until ten and time to sleep again. Obviously, no one ever lives such a stylized life, but remember, models are selective. There is a thread of meaning that can be used even if an individual works at night and has to vary the time for personal chores and socializing. Probably the only reason for playing with our conceptual system in this way is that it provides a healthy reminder that astrological interpretations are not final and unalterable “TRUTH”. We create our own destiny with our own character. Astrology helps us to see what we are doing, so if we wish, we can change it.