houses_temples.jpgDeborah Houlding is a contemporary English astrologer specialized on traditional astrology. She published her only book, The Houses Temples of the Sky, in 1998 and revised it in 2006. If you want to find more about her you can visit her impressive website Skyscript


In the Introduction the author writes about two theories about houses, used in modern astrology: one which equates signs with houses (Aries with the 1st house, Taurus with the 2nd house etc.), the other which presents houses like a psychological wheel. She sustains that those two conceptions are wrong and departs astrologers from the fundamental traditional meaning of houses. In the present book she wants to restore the traditional meaning of houses and the principles behind the houses symbolism, being convinced that:


"Herein lies the key to successful astrology: a confident and unambiguous application of its symbolism."


In Chapter 1 – Introducing Houses: An Historical Overview the author explains when and where took place the first astrological observations (more details here). About the houses, this book’s subject, their first presence in an astrological chart is dated from the year 22 BC in Manilius Astronomica.


In Chapter 2 – The Angles: Significance of Egyptian Solar Philosophy the author presents the angles in relation with an Egyptian theory which sees the Sun in his daily cycle like a man in his life, marked by events like birth (represented by the Ascendant), maturity (MC), death (Descendant) and Underworld (IC). With this background image, Deborah Houlding depicts the characteristics for each angle: the Imum Caelum (IC) and 4th house shows our origin, family, home, ancestors, roots; the Ascendant and 1st house represents our life, appearance, basic character, health, will, vitality; the Midheaven and 10th house shows our social status, reputation, how we manifest in the public world; the Descendant and 7th house shows our opponents, partners, last years of life. The interpretations made to the four angles have some differences from the general modern view, for example: the Ascendant represents also the basic character and the Descendat, being the place where the Sun "dies", has a much more bad reputation than nowadays, in modern astrology, symbolizing the final years of life, death, enemies. About the 4th house, I saw that signifies sometimes the father, sometimes the mother, generally the parents, but I agree more with the explanation given by Robert Hand who associates the 4th house with the "mothering process" in his book Essays on Astrology

An interesting aspect is that after every house presentation there is a little box named The house association through history where are presented different views of the house from 6 sources: Manilius, Others (classical), Firmicus, Al-Biruni, Lilly and Modern.


Chapter 3 – Aspects & Gates: The 2nd/8th House Axis starts with the author attempt to convince astrologers to stop trying to demonstrate that all the houses are good and to accept that are good, favorable houses and bad, weak houses (traditional astrology principle). For example:


"The 8th house remains the house of death, loss and grief, no matter how pleasantly we wrap that up in digestible phrases such as personal – transformation."


Generally, the bad houses (2, 6, 8, 12) are those which don’t make a major aspect with the Ascendant, which don’t see his light. She analyzes the second/eight house axis showing that the 8th house has no relation with sex or pregnancy, which belongs to the 5th house, and the 2nd house is not so favorable how is seen today because she has no aspect with the Ascendant. 


In Chapter 4 – Planetary Joys: The 5th/11th House Axis the author writes about the planetary sect (find out more here), a very important subject in traditional astrology, and presents the planetary "joys". A planetary "joy" is the house where a planet rejoice, equivalent of the zodiac domicile for houses. The planetary joys are: Mercury in the 1st house, Moon in the 3rd house, Venus in the 5th house, Mars in the 6th house, Sun in the 9th house, Jupiter in the 11th house and Saturn in the 12th house. Then, Deborah Houlding presents the 5th and 11th houses in strong connection with the planets Venus and Jupiter, planets which rejoice there: the 5th house is the area of love, children, pleasure, games, pregnancy and the 11th house represents friends, hope, happiness, benefactors.  


In Chapter 5 – The King and Queen: The 3rd/9th House Axis the author uses the same method like in previous chapter, deriving the explanations for the houses from the planets which rejoice there. She demonstrates how the characteristics of the 3rd house (messages, short journeys, letters, travelers) can be likened more easily with the Moon than with Mercury and the associates the couple 9th house and the Sun with religion, faith, revelation, long journeys, philosophy.


Chapter 6 – Cadency & Decline: The 6th/12th House Axis presents two of the most difficult houses, 6th and 12th. The author finds 3 reasons for the bad lore associated with those houses: they are cadent, don’t aspect the Ascendant and are rules by the malefic planets Mars (6th house) and Saturn (12th house). Then, she presents the general characteristics for the houses, not very different from what is accepted nowadays: the 6th house governs disease, health problems, hard work, poorly rewarded work, small beasts, pets while the 12th house governs imprisonment, disgrace, infirmity, hidden activity or secret enemies.