Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Review: Astrology and the Authentic Self

The two most popular systems of calculating house cusps are the Placidus and Koch methods. Both are mathematically rigorous methods, high-tech if you will. (Don't worry if you have know idea what I'm talking about. I'll explain about house cusps later.) But what if I told you that there was a more accurate method that was both older and simpler? Would I sound like a reactionary or an old curmudgeon? Well, there is such a method, and it's used in Astrology and the Authentic Self: Integrating Traditional and Modern Astrology to Uncover the Essence of the Birth Chart by Demetra George. This book uses the Whole Sign method, which is a throwback to the Middle Ages and before. But guess what? I've tried it on my own chart, and it works. Some of the planetary placements in my chart make a lot more sense under this system.

Now for those of you who don't know much about astrology, there are twelve houses in an astrological chart, each corresponding to a different area of life. The first house, for example, corresponds to identity and personality; the second house to money, possessions, and things of value, and so forth. The house cusps are the starting points of each house in the Zodiac. The Placidus and Koch systems start with the Ascendant (the point of the Zodiac that's on the Eastern horizon at birth) and the Midheaven (where the sun would be if it were "high noon") and extrapolate the other house cusps by either space or time. The Whole Sign system just uses the Ascendant, assigning the start of the sign it falls in to the first house cusp, the start of the next sign to the second house, and so forth.

At this point, I don't want to talk about the book (it's good, try it) as much as about the implications of the usefulness of the house systems. If a medieval house system works better than the two most currently used systems, what does that say about the usefulness of astrology as practiced today? Shouldn't there be a clear winner among the house systems? Or if valid results can be obtained with any of them, does it really matter at all?

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