What is traditional astrology?

This is a short video which considers what traditional astrology has come to mean today, as opposed to what it signified in the recent past. The differences between traditional and ancient astrology are broadly discussed.

If video takes too long to appear, click here for direct link.

Ages of Man

I’ve been thinking about the astrological Ages of Man/Woman persons.

Illustration: Joy Usher – A Tiny Universe: Astrology and the Thema Mundi Chart

These are divisions of time using the Chaldean order of planets to describe a psychological progression in the stages of human life, which we find described in the Hellenistic astrologer Ptolemy’s work, Tetrabiblos.

Briefly the seven “stars” or visible planets and luminaries each describe a stage of life and its experience, with a certain number of years aligned to each (see illustration above).

The quality of the period depends on the condition of the ruling planet in the nativity of the person in question, which we would determine through using either Hellenistic or medieval/renaissance traditional techniques (or both…)

I tried this on my own chart by simply using essential dignities to determine planetary condition. I’m in the crone stage of my life (i.e. I am pushing seventy…) so I’ve reached the Saturn Age already. In looking back over my life, I found the planetary ages corresponded quite nicely with what I experienced

My partner is roughly the same age as me, and their periods also corresponded accurately. I’m going to include this technique as a quick way of getting a sense of a native’s life in working with nativites.

I’ll let you know if my Saturn period works out as I expect when I am 98 years old! 😉

Introduction to Astrological House Division videos

Astrologer Rhys Redmond Chatham presents a talk in three videos on Astrological House Division. In this talk he shows how the various astrological house systems are calculated (no math is required!).

In the first video Rhys introduces himself and his background as an astrologer and gives a tour of the various great celestial circles used in house calculation.

In the second video, he goes into detail on how the houses are calculated, starting with the first two categories of house division:

(1) The ecliptic-based houses – whole sign houses, equal house system and Porphyry Houses – and then,

(2) The space-based houses – the Meridian House System, Morinus, Regiomontanus and Campanus Houses.

In the third video, Rhys covers the time-based houses: Alcabitius, Kohn, and Placidus Houses, and then wraps up the talk with conclusions and possible next steps.

International Astrology Day 2022

I’ll be giving a talk this weekend at an event hosted by AFAN, the Association for Astrological Networking. Here is a list of the speakers:

AFAN has a spectacular lineup to celebrate International Astrology Day. In fact, they are celebrating all weekend! Mark your calendar for March 19 and 20.

I’ll be giving a talk there on astrological houses on Saturday, 19 March. The talk will be be a tour through the major house systems and how they are calculated. We’ll look at the celestial circles upon which they are based (without going into the math…) and touch on possible symbolic interpretations of each.

The conference will be held on Zoom, it is free, but one needs to register at this address: afan.org/iad2022/ 

Here is the schedule:

Saturday March 19, 2022 (Pacific Time UTC -7)


Doors Open


Wendy Stacey

Using Astrocartography for Natal and World Events

9:00am (5pm UTC)

Rhys Redmond Chatham 

A Non-Partisan Overview of Astrological House Systems


Ema Kurent

Prenatal and Postnatal Eclipses

1:30pm | 13:30

Naike Swai

Release into Pisces’ Waters : A Sound Meditation

3:00pm | 15:00

Janay Anthony

Imperfect (Celestial) Bodies: 

A Disability-Affirming Framework for Interpreting the Planets

4:30pm | 16:30 

Keiko Ito

Positive Saturn! Understanding the Symbology of the Karma Planet (Vedic)

6:00pm | 18:00

Debbie Stapleton

Filling Our Cup, Feeding Our Soul – An inspirational talk on Jupiter in Pisces

7:30pm | 19:30

Doors Close

Saturday March 19, 2022 (Pacific Time UTC -7)


Doors Open


Sonal Sachdeva

Controlling Dance of the Malefics – Saturn, Mars, and the Lunar Nodes (Vedic)


Alejo Lopez

Between Heaven and Earth:

How Myth & Astrology Can Help Us To Navigate These Difficult Times


Nathan Theo Naicker

Introducing the Southern Tropical Zodiac: A Holistic Astrology for the Future

1:30pm | 13:30

Alan Clay

Dwarf Planets as Higher Octaves: Sedna – Ceres – Moon & Eris – Pluto – Mars

3:00pm | 15:00

Cameron Allen

Holistic Health & Astrology: The Luminaries Explored in Everyday Life

4:30pm | 16:30

Omari Martin

Legality & Ethics for Professional Astrologers

6:00pm | 18:00  

Alicia Yusuf

Taking the Crisis Out of Midlife Transits

7:30pm | 19:30  

Doors Close

The three great celestial circles: the ecliptic, the local horizon and the local meridian.

Earlier, we spoke of ecliptic-based house systems (c.f. blog 24 January 2021).

In the course of talking about these older house systems, we are going to look at the ecliptic, the horizon and the meridian, see what they look like in the sky above us, and finally we will look at how they are represented in an astrological chart.

The easiest house systems to calculate are the ones that are based on the ecliptic. The three major house systems based primarily on the ecliptic are: (1) the whole sign house system (WSH), (2) the equal house system, and the (3) Porphyry house system.

These three house systems use as their basis three great celestial circles: the ecliptic, the local horizon, and the local meridian and are easy to calculate.  All one needs to know is the longitudinal position on the ecliptic of where the ecliptic meets the horizon, this is called the ascendant.

Then we need to find the point where the ecliptic meets the local meridian, this is called the midheaven. 

Once we know these positions, the rest of the calculations can be done in one’s head!

I’d like to introduce a more complex house system, but before we get to that, let’s review the basic celestial circles that we have covered so far: the ecliptic, the horizon and the meridian.

The Ecliptic:

The ecliptic, of course, is the apparent path of the Sun as it is seen from the point of view by an observer on earth. 

The five visible planets never drift too far from the path of the ecliptic, so in astrology we usually measure the longitudinal position of the luminaries and planets, including the outer ones, as longitudinal degrees along the 360° circle of the ecliptic, which by convention we divide into twelve sectors of 30° of longitudinal position each.  Each of these twelve sectors is represented by an astrological constellation (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc.), which may or may not correspond with the ones in the sky.

The Horizon:

The horizon is the great circle on the celestial sphere that is directly between the zenith (the point directly above you) and the nadir (the point directly below you).

The horizon is always perpendicular to the local zenith and nadir, that is to say the horizon is 90° from the ascendant.

The Meridian:

The meridian is the great circle passing through the celestial poles, as well as the zenith and nadir of an observer’s location. In astrology, the midheaven is defined as the point where the ecliptic meets the local meridian.

How the great circles are represented in an astrological chart:

In an astrological chart, we squish these great celestial circles together, we flatten them so that they are represented by straight lines:

The outer circle represents the ecliptic, and on it we see the degrees of the house cusps, which were calculated in Porphyry in this chart.

The vertical line going from left to right, from 5° Leo to 5° Aquarius, represents the horizon, which of course is actually a circle, not a straight line.  Because western astrology was developed in the northern hemisphere, the Sun was always to the south.  So since the chart assumes that we are facing south, the east is on the left and the west is on the right.  This convention has stayed with us through the ages, and we use it today, even if we live in the southern hemisphere.

Finally, the vertical line that goes from the bottom at 15° Libra to the top at A5° Aries represents the local meridian, which of course is also a great circle, and not a straight line (c.f. illustration 3).  The point of the midheaven represents the point where the two circles intersect: it is the point of intersection of the meridian with the ecliptic.

The beginning of the tenth house in a quadrant house system such as Porphyry, Alcabitius, Campanus, Regiomontanus or Placidus is called the Medium Coeli (M.C.), which is Latin for midheaven.

The M.C. is where the Sun reaches its highest point in the local sky, NOT to be confused with the zenith, which is the point directly above the observer. 

So, to give an example, if one is in the northern hemisphere at a mid-latitude location, for example Wisconsin, or in Europe in France, the Sun would be towards the south as it rises, culminates, and sets.  The Sun only passes directly overhead the observer at the equator.  The Sun travels along the ecliptic, the local meridian is perpendicular to our local horizon, so basic physics tells us that the Sun will reach its highest point when, travelling along its path on the ecliptic, it meets our local meridian. 

Our local zenith is also on our local meridian, it is directly above where one is standing.  But the local zenith is not on the path of the ecliptic, unless we happen to be standing exactly on the equator!

Having reviewed these three basic circles, in the next blog I hope to cover later astrological house systems.  The next one we will cover is the Placidus house system.


A Neptunian question!

What is the difference between the way a contemporary astrologer would interpret Neptune on the descendant, as opposed to how it would be interpreted traditionally or Hellenistically? 

This is a question that came up recently in a study group that I participate in.

It’s true that the approaches would be quite different. 

Even though many astrologers working with traditional and/or ancient techniques work mostly with the seven visible planets, if an outer planet (Uranus/Neptune/Pluto) touches an angle, many of us will take that into consideration.

Here is how I would define the difference between the contemporary approach and that of traditional or ancient astrology:

In contemporary natal astrology, each of the seven visible planets represents a component of consciousness within the native, and the three outer planets symbolize an element of the unconscious mind (in its Jungian sense). The natal horoscope is interpreted as a map of consciousness and the various psychic impulses of the native. The entire natal chart and all the astrological symbols within it become a means of analyzing character and the psychology of the native.

However, in both traditional and ancient astrology, the approach is different: The ascendant, any planets in the first house and the ruler of the first house symbolize the native, both physically and psychologically.  Houses other than the first house represent everything outside of the native. 

So, for character analysis, both traditional and ancient astrologers interpret the ascendant, the first house and any symbols found within it.  Additionally, a traditional astrologer (medieval, renaissance) will make an analysis of the native’s “manners”, by which is meant the temperamental balance of the chart.  Is the person choleric or melancholic?  Sanguine or phlegmatic? Or perhaps a combination thereof…  These serve to give us effective delineations of the character of the native.

Keeping all this in mind, let’s return to the original question:

How would a contemporary astrologer interpret Neptune on the cusp of the seventh house? The seventh house being the house of marriage and partnerships.

Neptune is in the seventh house of this chart.

Simply put, a contemporary astrologer’s interpretation would be that the native approaches seventh house relationships in a Neptunian way!

If the aspects to Neptune are soft ones, the native’s relationship strategies will probably manifest in a positive way (a spiritual approach, total immersion with the other person, etc). If there are hard aspects, then the manifestations would more likely be negative (difficulty seeing the other person in the relationship clearly, confusion, etc.)

For the traditional/ancient astrologer, the approach would be to see Neptune as a type of person or situation external to the native. If I saw this in a client’s chart, one of the first questions I might ask is if they happen to be married to a musician! Or poet… Or negatively, perhaps a drug addict!

And if it turned out that they weren’t currently in a relationship, the next step would be to use various traditional and ancient time lord techniques to find out when they would be likely to meet such a person.

That, for me, is the traditional approach (renaissance, medieval) , and also the Hellenistic (ancient) one.

Another related question that came up during our study session was: if the client is having a problem of some kind with their seventh house Neptune, how do we help them with it?

Using the contemporary psychological approach, we help our client by identifying the exact nature of the problem, for example if their Neptune was square or in opposition to Venus, we might explore whether they had difficulty seeing their love interests clearly.  We’d help them identify the exact nature of their problem, and offer strategies as to how the difficulty might be solved.

The traditional astrologer’s approach would be to help the client by identifying the type of person likely to appear in their lives, when this person would be likely to next appear, and to advise them as to whether this person ought to be accepted with open arms, or to run for the hills!

 If it turned out that the Neptunian influence was negative for some reason, then the next steps for the traditional astrologer would include looking at the various significators for the seventh house (its lord, other planets contained within and aspects to them), also looking at the lot of marriage and the lot of eros.

And THEN, we’d look at Venus for the boys and Mars for the girls, and by the time we’ve finished doing all that, we’d have quite a bit to talk about and will have normally helped the client see things more clearly vis-à-vis their seventh house issues.

At least that’s what we hope!