House Systems

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on relocation astrology. It will be at least one post longer, as I mentioned a few months ago that I might want to discuss the reasoning behind the house system(s) that I prefer. Additionally, I would eventually like to do some work on Compatibility, although I’m less expert in it but would be willing to discuss what I consider the best method for Compatibility, which is David Cochrane’s method (he relies heavily but not exclusively on harmonics, or vibrations). I need a chart for that too.

Today, I’m going to be excerpting from a paper I wrote a year ago for David Cochrane’s program regarding the house systems I prefer and my reasoning for them. This is arguably more advanced than what I usually write, and it certainly is conceptual; try to pick out some tidbits of insight. Let’s go.

Equal houses DO work better for Vibrational Astrology.  A harmonic chart is not a ‘real’ chart but merely an illustration meant to highlight the patterns that vibrational astrology uses to understand a person.  If we are using a, say, 7th harmonic and we find trines and squares, etc., these patterns will be completely unrecognizable in the natal chart.  In a 7th harmonic chart, it makes sense to use equal houses because then the patterns (squares, trines, etc.) will be easier to see.  It cuts down on any confusion.

Outside of the realm of Vibrational Astrology, I am partial to Placidus.  Here’s why.

I consider houses to be, essentially, pieces of the sky.  The sky above our heads can be divided into six pieces, with the cusp of the 10th house the midheaven, and the “sky” below our feet can be divided into six pieces, with the cusp of the 4th house the IC.  There is a certain integrity to such a system, and, given the tilt of the earth, the latitude, and the time of year, the ecliptic is usually not a straight line through equal houses.  Whichever house system is consistent with this division of the sky is the house system I want to use. 

This illustration might be a good one to use with its 3 dimensional emphasis.

At first I was impressed with Campanus, with its division of the celestial sphere.  (Does the above illustration indicate that it’s Campanus?  I can’t tell.)  I realized that its celestial sphere divisions were not equal in area, but only in linear distance, and I found it to be a very irritating system.  In fact almost always the 9th and 10th house are very small and the 7th and 12th house are very large.  This does not seem ‘natural,’ and I can prove that Placidus takes into account important things that Campanus does not.

Let’s pretend we are at the Summer Solstice at about 40 degrees North (actually, as I write this it is June 24 and I am in Denver, so we’re pretty close!).  At this time of year, the length of the day is 15 hours and the length of the night is about 9 hours.  Yet the Ascendant and Descendant are opposite signs.  What that means is that in 15 hours of daytime six houses move 180 degrees, or an average of 12 degrees per hour, but in 9 hours of nighttime, six houses move 180 degrees, or an average of 20 degrees per hour.  During other times of the year there is similar skewing but the skewing is not centered on the ascendant and descendant; it is some other set of oppositions in the chart wheel.  The house system we use should be the house system that is most congruent with this reality.

I can only conclude that the quadrant house systems that divide the semi-diurnal arc into three equal pieces, in terms of distance on the arc itself, are the only house systems that can accurately account for this reality.  Your video graphically delineating Steffi Graf’s chart at birth time (which is near sunrise in this case, so her Sun is conjunct her ascendant):

and; then her chart projected to noon (or, the highest point in the day), which, given that she was also born so close to the Summer Solstice is roughly 8 hours later:

serves to further illustrate the semi-diurnal arc’s accuracy at accounting for the reality of the skewed projection of the ecliptic plane in the sky.

I haven’t paid too much attention to the other systems that divide the semi-diurnal arc into three equal pieces, such as Koch and Alcabitius.  The differences seem to be very minor, and I don’t have the expertise to analyse them.  However, I’m going to project my relocated chart to Denver using both Placidus and Koch, because as it turns out there is one major difference.  First, Placidus:

Then, Koch:

As it turns out Mars is in my 4th house in Placidus and in my 5th house in Koch.  That is the only planet that is different.  So the remainder of this paper will be to try to determine which Mars placement I think is the most accurate.

One interpretation has to do with the Round Art’s differences.  These tend to be mostly accurate in my observation.

4th house:  intense emotions, temper tantrums, troubled home life, lacks persistence, accidents; impulsive, instinctual, bold, ambitious, irritable, sensuous.

5th house: formative power, zeal, ardour, egotism, ambition, gambling, ruthlessness; self-assured, responsible, fearless, audacious, possessive, domineering, frank, brutal, determined, speculative, macho.

In the 4th house I tend to identify most with intense emotions, temper tantrums, lacks persistence, accidents, and sensuous.  In the 5th, it’s less clear.  Gambling, audacious, speculative have some resonance.  It’s so close to the 5th house even in Placidus that it might take on 5th house characteristics even in Placidus.

Using what you have taught us, I can see how I would want to ‘achieve things’ (Mars) in the home (4th house), such as trying (and failing) to start an astrology based business, wanting to work at home, wanting to work with clients over the phone or through Zoom using my computer in my home, NOT wanting to do the work outside, such as in a coffeehouse, etc.  What I could see in the 5th house having to do with achieving a synthesis of disparate inputs might be illustrated by my radio show, but that was also true at locations further east with it definitively in the 4th house.  It’s hard for me to see it clearly as a 5th house influence.

That limited amount of data would lead me to conclude Placidus over Koch.

I haven’t fully explained what makes Koch Koch and what makes Placidus Placidus. In these systems the four angles (Asc, MC, Desc, and IC — cusps of the 1st, 10th, 7th, and 4th) are in exactly the same place but the non-angular house cusps are different. There is a less than 1 degree difference at the 2nd house cusp, a 1.5 degree difference at the 3rd house cusp, a 4.5 degree differnce at the 5th house cusp, and a 5 degree difference at the 6th house cusp.

Additionally, since the Ascendant relocated to Libra, it was pretty close to the Virgo-Libra cusp (this would also be true for the Pisces-Aries cusp) and the differences in house size are a good bit smaller, the midheaven being only 4 degrees different from 90 degrees to the ascendant.

Using a chart with ascendants near either the Sagittarius-Capricorn or Gemini-Cancer cusp would give far more skewed charts, the Midheaven likely to be far away from 90 degrees from the Ascendant. The differences between Koch and Placidus could be very different. Or they might not. More than that, though, I’m interested in a good explanation for why Koch has these differences to Placidus.

Just because I believe that I share more 4th house Mars characteristics and thus Placidus (empiricism) doesn’t mean that there isn’t some reasoning as to the rationale for both Placidus and Koch that passes the smell test (rationalism). I invite any astrologers to explain the differences, the rationale behind each of the two systems.

By David Muir

David Muir recieved his PAC as a 2020 graduate of the Avalon School in Vibrational Astrology. He has been a practicing astrologer having studied astrology since 1997. He specializes in relocation astrology, particularly in terms of how both one's character and external influences change in a new location. He has interests in compatibility, and just generally “getting the necessary information out there for you,” which can entail personology as well as different interpretations in general. David writes a 2x/weekly blog in both relocation astrology and other astrological topics of interest, on

David received a BA from Carlow University in 2011 with concentrations in philosophy, writing, and political science. He does a 2x/month radio show and has lived in Denver, CO since 2016.

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