I’m in the process of writing a book on traditional natal astrology, and I was fininshing up a chapter which was a lengthy analysis of a single natal chart, using an outline I drew up.
I use the Whole Sign house system, which is probably the oldest house system extant in the West, going back to the Hellenistic era.
It went well, and as I approached the end of the chapter I saw that the interpretation was accurate, powerful, specific, grounded, detailed – and incomplete.
Here is an image of the chart, which belongs to my daughter. I will title this chart, My Daughter The Nurse.
Notice that 5 planet tight opposition from the 6th to the 12th houses. That is a signature of someone who is a dedicated worker in health care. She works in an extended care facility, which is 12th house; the patients are all confined to the facility and will likely die there. She is dedicated, hard-working and conscientious at an unglamourous job with no power or prestige, all of which fits the 6th and 12th houses.
This is a woman whose father left the marriage when she was very young, and she was raised by her single mom. The missing father is shown by Saturn in the 12th, and her mom, who she identifies with, is the Venus conjunct her Sun. It fits.
I think I’ve made my point. The chart is valid and accurate.
However, I know her very well, and there is another whole dimension of her life that does not show up in this chart. This map is valid but incomplete.
When I first drew up my daughter’s chart many years ago I used the Placidus house system, and I recalled the planets falling differently.
So, I took this same chart, and switched house systems, from Whole Sign to Placidus. I came up with the chart I will title, My Daughter the Mother and Dedicated Friend.
In this chart that same 5 planet opposition is across the 5th/11th house axis.
This is a woman who lives for her children, who is completely dedicated to them and values them above everything else. She is deeply loyal to her circle of friends, and will travel half-way across the country to attend a wedding of a high school friend she hasn’t seen in 15 years. Fifth house is also creativity and fun, and she used to do Renaissance Festival with me when she was younger; she attended science fiction and fantasy conventions, and met her husband at a convention here in Minneapolis where Neil Gaiman was guest of honor. She also has a very good ongoing relationship with me, her father, and we do fun and creative things.
All of this fits the 5th/11th house axis very well.
In this case, it is definitely not a matter of a single house system being True, or even of one being preferable to the other. Both are highly specific and accurate, and each brings out a different strong dimension of the life of a complex, mature, multi-faceted woman.
I needed both charts to make a fair interpretation of her life. Not either/or, but both/and.
She’s a nurse; she’s a dedicated mom and good friend. Her father is missing; her father is an ongoing friend.
There is yet another dimension to our relationship shown here. Since I separated from her mom when she was quite young, I consciously decided that I would be offering her an alternate set of experiences from what she got with her primary family unit. I introduced her to Festival, to science fiction and fantasy conventions, to Tolkein, Ann Rice and Terry Pratchett. That whole alternate world sits well on the 5th/11th house axis.
So, the two maps together, with different house systems, reflect the fact that she was given two very different sets of experiences by her two parents. It is not just that the two maps have meaning, but the two maps juxtaposed make a third, larger map that has meaning in its own right.
My daughter grew up in a multi-map reality.
This blew my mind.
This example was so clear and powerful, so utterly right, that it shook me to the core. After seeing the complementary interaction of the two maps with different house systems, there is no way that I could possibly go back to using just a single house system.
The correct answer to the question of which house system is True is – Yes. They are each different maps, and multiple maps are used for multiple purposes, multiple perspectives.
The different house systems need each other. And, I think that we, as modern astrologers living in a complex, pluralistic, multiple perspective world society, can benefit from using multiple maps in our work.
We can also set up a larger multiiple map framework, that itself contains separate maps, and the interaction and synergy between them gives us yet more information.