The Impact of Life on Health

     In conventional astrological symbolism, the houses represent the various areas of life experience.  They project the planetary energies, which essentially pertain to the inner universe of mind and spirit, out onto the stage of the outer world, to manifest in outer life events.
     The houses also depict the essential relationships of the Self, or the native, to the various persons, situations and circumstances in his/her life.  Each life area symbolized by a house is centered around a certain type of essential relationship between self and others.


House Symbolism in Medical Astrology

     There are certain ways in which the houses are used in Medical Astrology.  Basically, the houses show the influence or impact of the various outer life areas and their associated environmental and pathogenic risk factors on the health of the individual.  Many houses also pertain to common healthcare situations and relationships in the life of the individual. 
     There are twelve signs of the zodiac, and also twelve houses, with essential relationships or correspondences between the signs and houses.  Like the signs, the houses, through these essential correspondences, can also pertain to various parts of the body, with the First House (Aries) ruling the head, the Second House (Taurus) ruling the neck, and so on. 
     Because of these essential correspondences between the signs and houses, the houses also have the same affinities of element and modality, humor and temperament, as their corresponding signs.  Whereas the sign placements of the planets indicate one's natal or innate nature and temperament, the house placements of the planets indicate one's evolving nature and temperament over the course of one's lifetime, particularly past middle age, due to the influence or cumulative impact of various exogenous environmental stresses and pathogenic factors.
     The essential sign / house correspondences are also used to determine the relative strengths and weaknesses of various planets in the natal horoscope, by house as well as by sign.  Planets that are weaker and more debilitated in their house as well as their sign placements are more likely to be involved with dysfunction and pathology.
     For example, Venus is in its fall, or is very debilitated, in Virgo; similarly, Venus is very debilitated in the Sixth house, which corresponds to Virgo.  Conversely, Venus is very well placed in the Second House (Taurus) or in the Seventh House (Libra).
     The sign that is actually on a house cusp according to the particulars of an individual natal chart is also important.  With a Leo Ascendant, for example, Taurus is usually on the cusp of the Tenth House; with the Ascendant in Capricorn, Libra is usually on the Tenth House cusp. 
     The planet that rules the sign on the cusp of a particular house in a particular natal chart is its accidental dispositor.  With a Leo Ascendant, Venus is usually the accidental dispositor of the Tenth House (Taurus), for example.  But if the actual sign on the cusp of the Tenth House in such a chart should be Aries, the accidental dispositor would be Mars; if the sign should be Gemini, it would be Mercury. 
     The condition and placement of the accidental dispositor of a house tells us a lot about the affairs of that house.  If the accidental dispositor should be afflicted, or poorly placed by sign, house or aspect, dysfunction and pathology are more likely. 
     In the medical interpretation of the natal horoscope, four houses are especially important.  These are the First House, or Ascendant; and the Sixth, Eighth, and Twelfth houses.  The Ascendant or First House is the house of life and health, of the body and its constitutional nature and temperament.  The other three houses are all those that don't form any major classical aspect to the Ascendant or First House.  These houses of health will be discussed in the next article. 


The Cardinal Angles of the Natal Horoscope

     The Cardinal Angles of the birthchart, which form the cusps of the First, Fourth, Seventh and Tenth houses in quadrant-based house systems, are also important.  Angular planets, or planets conjunct these angles, are very important in the overall interpretation of the horoscope. 
     Planets conjunct the Ascendant, or First House cusp, have a great influence on the constitutional nature and temperament of the native, and on the overall structure and appearance of the physical body.  Planets in hard aspect to the Ascendant generally represent obstacles or difficulties to the life and health of the native, whereas those harmoniously aspecting it generally represent health assets.  The Ascendant, being the First House cusp, has an affinity with Aries, which rules the head.  The Ascendant is the most important of the angles in Medical Astrology. 
      Planets in direct opposition to the Ascendant, or conjunct the Descendant or Seventh House cusp, generally represent physiological or metabolic functions that are weak or deficient in some way, and need to be strengthened.  The Descendant, being the Seventh House cusp, also has an affinity with Libra, which rules the kidneys, genitourinary system, and lower back.
     Planets conjunct the Midheaven, or Tenth House cusp, often concern things that are very prominent or visible about the individual and his/her appearance.  Since the Tenth House corresponds to Capricorn, these planets can also influence the bones, joints and structural connective tissue of the body.
     Planets conjunct the Nadir or Fourth House cusp often represent health problems or factors that are obscure or hidden, but which nevertheless have an important influence on the health of the individual.  Since the Fourth House corresponds to Cancer, the stomach, uterus, female breasts or other Cancerian parts may be affected.
     Having the Sun conjunct one of the angles in the natal horoscope also says a lot about the overall nature and temperament of the individual, especially of his/her solar functions - the Innate Heat and Vital Force, digestion, metabolism and the immune response.  This also concerns the inherent nature and temperament of various cardinal turning points in the daily circadian cycle, as the house placement of the Sun in your natal horoscope indicates the time of day at which you were born.  The basic or essential temperaments of the angles in Greek Medical Astrology are:
     Ascendant (Sunrise) - Sanguine
     Midheaven (Noon or Midday) - Choleric
     Descendant (Sunset) - Melancholic
     Nadir (Midnight) - Phlegmatic
     In classical Greek or Hellenistic Astrology, the four angular houses were associated with certain important phases in the life span of the individual:
     Ascendant - birth, infancy, childhood
     Midheaven - the prime of life
     Descendant - maturity and old age
     Nadir - death and its legacy or aftermath.


House Systems

     In modern astrology, house systems are a very controversial topic.  There are many different house systems, each one with its proponents, who argue that it's the only "right" one.  Ultimately, it's up to the experience and opinion of the individual astrologer to determine which one (or ones) is/are right for him or her. 
     The controversy lies in exactly where to place the house cusps, and how to slice the pie of the houses.  Each sign of the zodiac is exactly 30 degrees in width, but the houses of the horoscope don't have to be.  This is due to various mundane factors, such as the time of day, the speed or rate of ascension, and the obliquity of the ecliptic. 
     House systems can be broadly subdivided into those that are quadrant-based and those that are not quadrant-based.  All quadrant-based house systems take the Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant and Nadir as being the cusps of the First, Tenth, Seventh, and Fourth houses, respectively.  They differ as to where to place the cusps of the intervening houses, which are caslculated according to various elaborate formulas. 
     Of the quadrant-based house systems, the oldest and most classical is Porphyry, which is also the simplest.  The four quadrants of the horoscope are each subdivided into three equal parts to get the cusps of the intervening houses.  This is the quadrant-based house system I prefer. 
     The next oldest and generally most commonly used quadrant-based house system is Placidus, a time-based system that subdivides the quadrants according to the planetary hours.  The Koch house system seems to have a particular relevance to Medical Astrology, since its intervening house cusps are all supposed to be projections of the Ascendant, which is generally the single most important factor in the medical interpretation of the horoscope.  Campanus is another popular system that has amongst its adherents the great astrological philosopher Dane Rudhyar. 
     The non-quadrant based house systems include equal houses, often used as lots; and whole sign houses.  The former was used by the ancient Greeks in various specialized prediction techniques, and the latter is the basic house system used in Hellenistic Astrology.  Whole sign houses are also the basic house system used in Vedic astrology, which uses the sidereal zodiac, not the tropical.
     In the whole sign house system, the entire sign containing the degree of the Ascendant is taken as the First House, and each subsequent sign is taken as the entire subsequent house.  So, with a Gemini Ascendant, for example, the entire sign of Gemini is taken as the First House, the entire sign of Cancer as the Second House, and so on. 
     The beauty of the whole sign house system is that the signs and houses are always in sync, and always have the same corresponding aspectual relationships of element, polarity and modality.  The quality and character of a house is consistent throughout, and there are never any mixed sign houses or intercepted signs.  Every sign has its corresponding house.
     The ultimate test of any house system is to use it to interpret your own natal chart, and then the charts of friends and clients, to see how well it works, and how it speaks to you.  You don't have to be stuck with any single one; you may even find that different house systems each have their own inherent strengths and weaknesses, and are appropriate for different situations. 


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