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Why are there House Systems?

The use of House Systems is a key part of building a horoscope chart. As we have seen in the descriptions above, the Houses in a chart provide additional detail about the meaning to be taken from the placement of a planet or planets within a horoscope chart. The planets will be positioned within an area of a chart ‘controlled’ by one of the zodiac signs, but the House in which it is located adds another layer of meaning.

Throughout the history of astrology there have been a number of different ways of calculating where the boundary lines of the twelve houses should sit on a horoscope chart. In ancient astrology the Houses were aligned with the parts of the horoscope chart associated with each sign. So the First House would always be Aries, the Second House would be Taurus and so on. When we look at the key focus of each House and compare it to the relevant zodiac sign we can see that there are links between the focus of the Houses and the characteristics of the sign with which they are associated in ancient astrology.

The idea that a House and a zodiac sign should occupy the same space on a horoscope chart (so the first House begins and ends where Aries begins and ends for example) is the oldest House System in existence. It remains the only House system in use by Vedic astrology. In Western astrology a number of different House systems have been developed over the years. This is because of a different view of the way in which astrology works between Vedic and Western astrology. Vedic astrologers and those Western astrologers who have remained with an ancient House system tend to take the view that astrology works because the horoscope provides a map that allows us to interpret the subtle energies in the universe which impact upon and help to mold a person’s personality and future. In contrast to this Western astrology views the movements and interactions of heavenly bodies as having a direct effect on people. In this view the horoscope will be more accurate the more closely it represents the actual positions of the planets and stars.

For many years the Ancient House system was replaced by an Equal House system. In this arrangement the Houses in a horoscope chart do not line up with the zodiac signs, but like the zodiac signs each House occupied 30 degrees or a twelfth of the whole horoscope area. This was a move towards physical accuracy as it creates a situation where more than one sign might share a House. However more recently various systems with uneven House sizes have become increasingly common. A number of Uneven House systems are in use and they use a variety of complex formulae and even research data on personality types to determine the size of each house in a person’s horoscope. However, the most popular and probably the most accurate on average is the so called Placidus House system. If you purchase a horoscope chart today the chances are that it has used the Placidus system.


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