Whole Sign Astrology

Wouldn't it be great if astrology didn't consist of degrees and orbs and minutes and decans and all of the other technicalities which have turned this beautiful, simple, and divine art/science into a confusing and complicated mess?

Gone would be all those aspect lines, squiggles, calculations, and innumerable house systems. I remember the nightmare of having to calculate all the planets the house cusps by hand to the nearest minute(and sometimes second) and then determining whether they were in aspect or not. This was especially important for doing progressions and transit work. The whole question of orbs and how many degrees to alot every aspect is still arbitrary to this day and probably always will be given the subjective nature of the subject. Now, of course, we have computers to do all the complex calculations for us, but computers weren't always around -nor will they always be.

How did the ancients calculate their planets and what aspects or house systems if any did they use? The history is not very clear until about the time of ancient Greece and Ptolemy when astrology left the exclusive abode of the elite and became a popular pastime. It was also at this time that astrology began acquiring some of its modern format, such as houses and degree aspects, but the current 20th and 21st century astrology did not solidify untill around a few hundred years ago. Before that it underwent many developments and transformations reflecting the culture and thinking of its time and place -from India and China to Europe and the Middle East and finally the Americas.

Recent studies in Hellenic astrology, such as by astrologer Robert Hand, reveal that the ancients used whole signs, houses, and aspects in their work even to the time of Ptolemy and after. They didn't have telescopes after all, so observations were made using the naked eye and with the help of geometric instruments such as the astrolabe. The Ascendant and Midheaven degrees were distinguished but used as as power points rather than house cusps. The whole sign of the Ascendant, no matter what the degree, was used as the first house, and every other house/sign followed in counterclockwise order. Basically, houses and signs were interchangeable or occupied the same space. Today's house systems, most of which were invented during the Middle Ages or even Modern period, are highly irregular or unequal giving rise to complications and misinterpretations. The further north or south from the equator, the more distortion these alternative house systems would take, even to the point of some houses/signs disappearing(interception). The house system bungle, where power points or lines were misconstrued for house borders, appears to have had its origins in the Middle East around 600 or 700 AD.

Traces of the original astrology can still be found in India and China where whole house systems and aspects are still used, but other aspects incorporated into the craft are indigenous or highly tainted by that particular culture. Astrology's real origins probably go back to legendary Atlantis or even further back. The remnants of this ancient art/science were preserved and carried over by their wise men and transplanted into such cultures as Egypt. The Alexandrian Library in Egypt was an important reservoir of ancient knowledge and wisdom until it was repeatedly ransacked, and finally burned or destroyed by the fanatical mobs of the newly emerging Christian era. Certain texts, however, astrological and otherwise, were secretly salvaged and stored in underground caves and vaults where they are to this day. One such destination of these salvaged texts is the Vatican Library in Rome.

Regardless of the twists and turns that astrology as a science and art has undergone throughout its history, it has survived in tact and will continue to do so because it is basically an observable and intuitive discipline.

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