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Post by Moses on Porphyry Houses
and a note from Jeffrey Wolf Green
New Update 5/24/01
12/14/00, 12/19/00

A little while ago, i mentioned to x that i was a die-hard Porphyry houses fan, and she asked me to write something to the group about it, as she has known an astrologer that she respected who uses Porphyry houses. What a great invitation to stick a few forks in wherever people are attached to their viewpoints! i.e. don't take this personally!

I know a lot of people use Placidus and Koch houses, mainly because their grannies used them, and their granny's granny used them, and so on down the line. I think they leave something to be desired (how's that for diplomacy! I'm learning!).

As far as house systems that use the Midheaven as the tenth house cusp (so I'll be leaving Equal House out of this discussion, as well as whole-sign houses), Porphyry seems to me superior for a few different reasons. The problem with all of the other house systems besides Porphyry is that that they all have some arbitrary standard for how to determine the intermediate house cusps, i.e. house cusps 2,3,5,6,8,9,11, and 12. In Porphyry's case, the quadrants are simply, beautifully, and exquisitely trisected into three equal houses per quadrant. So if there are exactly 60 degrees between the ASC and MC, the houses in the 2nd and 4th quadrants, i.e. those between the MC and the ASC, and the IC and the DESC, would each be 20 degrees wide. If the distance was exactly 120 degrees between the MC and ASC, then these houses would be 40 degrees apart. Most would agree that this is a beautiful and sensible method. All of the other systems have some arbitrary and complex mathematical formula for determining the intermediate houses cusps; they mean well, but they are unnecessary, and I think inaccurate.

Some other pluses:

The whole extreme Northern or Southern latitude problem is taken care of. It's impossible in this system to have a 7th house 50 degrees wide, and an 8th house 15 degrees wide, for example. Of course, other house systems cover this, too.

If you know the ASC and the MC, you can automatically determine all of the other house cusps easily with very simple math by hand.

It's really accurate.

I first started using Porphyry because someone asked Hilarion in either Answers or More Answers if there was a best house system. He basically said, (I'm definitely putting him in my own words here) "I know everyone has their favorites, but the truth is that Porphyry is the 'real' house system." Of course, he was more gracious and diplomatic than i am being. At the time, Hilarion's word was gospel to me, so i started using Porphyry too. Since then i have more skepticism for what he says, although I usually still agree with him, and have also researched Porphyry for myself and confirmed that i find he is right.

I have often heard people say that "astrologers that they highly respect" use Porphyry houses. I know Dale O'Brien (he's one of the world's most informed on Chiron, if not the most informed) because my astrology roots are in Atlanta, and he once told me that an astrologer-friend of his who does all his own research before adopting an approach, found Porphyry to be the most accurate house system (although I don't think Dale uses Porphyry). Another great astrologer and friend of mine, James Coleman, was using Koch when i met him, then switched i think to either Campanus or Regiomontanus, and has since switched over Porphyry. I know Jeff Green uses Porphyry houses (see note below), and i'm sure a lot of other well-known astrologers do, too.

Here's my best Porphyry story: I tracked down the dates when my progressed New Moon entered my fifth house, and the date when it left my fifth house, by Porphyry houses. The day it entered the fifth was the day i met the woman i have had my longest relationship with to date, and the day it left the fifth house was the last day that she and i were together. I've seen it to be fully accurate many times, but that's my most amazing story.

Placidus is all over the place with intermediate house cusps, especially in higher numerical latitudes. Koch is about half right, half-wrong from what I find. Half of the intermediate Koch house cusps are like Porphyry (really regular), and half are more like Placidus (really irregular, often more than Placidus). Regiomontanus and Campanus are the closest to Porphyry. Rudhyar used Campanus. (For an article from Jonathan Dunn, in defense of Campanus, do that thing) I am by no means a house system scholar, so I could be wrong on some of these points.

Now that I've said all this, i'll have to pay more attention to Equal House, since i've never really given it the time of day. I'll add that i have recently been turned onto whole-sign houses, a la Vedic, and find that they provide the most obvious look at someone, but not the most deep or psychologically revealing perspective. I think they're pretty nifty, though, and i think they're really accurate in an obvious, outward way. It's like solar charts, which work better than the modern astrologer's security blanket and dogmatic fixation, 'the natal chart,' in an obvious kind of way, for looking at lunations and transits (although i also, of course, think that transits work to the natal chart). The actual natal chart is better for a deeper, psychological look (i.e. especially for secondary progressions), as well as an outward events orientation, but I find the solar charts are more powerful on an obvious, external level than the natal chart. When i observe the houses involved in transitting aspects, the Solar charts's houses are the more accurate for overall-outward phenomena, whereas the natal chart's houses are more accurate for one's psychology. I find that Sun sign astrology is not so totally ridiculous after all, if used intelligently. (Gee, i can't wait to answer all the complaints i'm gonna get about this one!)

Of course i don't mind if people use a different house system, and i know that this discussion is an age-old one that will probably never be resolved. No problem. Let no one say i didn't tell you what i think about it. If someone wants me to look at their chart from a different house system i certainly do. And i think that all the house systems can have some validity and usefulness. No big deal.

I'm just trying to stimulate thought. Consider it friendly-Mars. And by the way, if you ever see an astrological attachment of mine that you think is untrue, please be a pal and stick a fork in it right away. I know there's no need for me to ask for that on this list, but i did anyway. :)



12/19 E-Mail From Jeffrey Wolf Green

(I wrote Jeffrey to make sure he uses Porphyry Houses)

hey there, yes, i have used the porphyry system for over twenty years, and continue to do so. very few people remember anymore that this system was in fact the system of choice during the 1800's. it's origins come from a christian mystic named porphyry........fourth century ad. as you know it conceives that were one was born that that local space is equal relative to the mc, asc, asc, ic. the primary number in the system is 3 which for my purposes, evolutionary astrology, is perfect......past, present, future........ and of course is the primary number in all advanced math. it is a spatial based system versus time based as in placidius. so for all those reasons.............. god bless, jeffrey

5/24 Update from Mr. Moses

I was recently pleased to find out that the ancient Greek astrologers, whom our western astrology is indebted to, used two house systems primarily. Whole Sign Houses and Porphyry. So Porphyry goes back at least about 2000 years, and I even read from Project Hindsight that the references to Porphyry in the ancient Greek describe it as even more ancient than themselves. It appears that none of the other popular Western house systems, with the possible exception of Equal House have roots this deep. Also, one of the main alternate house systems in Vedic astrology also makes use of Porphyry house cusps, although they consider these points to be the middle of a house rather than the beginning.

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