Whole Signs & Planetary Strength

It is usually implied that if one uses the whole sign system one will need to recalculate the chart using a quadrant based system to determine the relative strengths of the planets. I have always considered this465531_488826147828921_984372261_oLandscape with clerks studying astronomy and geometry, showing an armillary sphere, square, compasse1s highly suspect and self-contradictory. Why use the whole signs in the first place if you cannot tell planetary strength from the chart it yields?

Whole Sign is much older than any quadrant system, so it must have been considered complete in itself. Indian astrologers still use them to this day.

I’ve drawn up a chart for a random time and date for Reykjavík, which is the capital and largest city in Iceland. Its latitude, at 64°08′ N, makes it the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state. Charts for places this far north often have intercepted signs.

The same would occur if a chart were drawn for a similar distance south of the equator. Intercepted signs raise a number of problems, not least that a sign is missing from the horoscope.

The first chart will be drawn using whole sign followed by four common house systems employed by astrologers to establish planetary strength.


 Here is the Whole Sign chart: We’ll just take a cursory look before checking the other charts. Let’s pay particular attention to the angles where the planets are strongest.  Mars in Aquarius is in the Seventh House, He is disposited by angular Saturn in Scorpio. Mars returns the favour and disposits Saturn.  They form a partile square. This looks like a Mutual Reception made in Hades.

The Moon in Scorpio is in her Fall and Void of Course in the Hour and Day of the Moon. She is also the Hyleg if we follow Bonatti. Jupiter is in his House of Joy, but Debilitated and Retrograde. I can’t see that the trine to Mars  is much good and it’s separating anyway.  Mercury is Under the Beams. The Ascendant in Leo is disposited by a chilly but supportive Capricorn Sun.  Taking a few minutes has already given us a good sense of the overall chart and I would say planetary strength as well. Let’s take  a look at the quadrant housesregiomontanus

This is the chart using Regiomontanus  Most obviously the fifth house is strikingly different.  Jupiter is now in the tenth house and angular. Mars, however, is the sixth house. `He is no longer in Hayz. Note the shift in authority. We lose the Scorpio house due to interception. The Scorpio planets are now in a Libran house. Taurus is also intercepted.


Morinus – At first glance Morinus seems to be the most like Whole Sign, until we notice the cusp of the first house is in Cancer Also note the highly significant shift from the fifth house to the sixth. Mars is back in the seventh and ready for war.


Placidus – Jupiter is back in the tenth house Mars in back in the sixth.The fifth house looks fairly good  and the malefics have been slightly subdued. Jupiter is angular and Mars is cadent – opposite to the Whole Sign chart. This might give us something if we pretend that Placidus didn’t say his own system was flawed. And it would have to agree with the other quadrant charts, of course


 Companus – The planets that were in the fifth have moved into the sixth with Mars.  In this chart Sagittarius and Gemini are intercepted. Again, Mars is cadent, but this time Jupiter is back in the eleventh house.

Finally we look at the Porphyry chart: Again, Mars is cadent but Jupiter in the eleventh.


I think these examples show that relying on a quadrant houses system to illuminate a Whole Sign chart is of little or no use. Because each quadrant house yields different results, I think it fair to call the process arbitrary.

Because of the way a Whole Sign chart is read, it tells us all we need to know. We have a plethora of tools by which to determine planetary strength : Fixed Stars, Peregrination, Hayz, Halb, Joy,Void of Course, Face, Term, Retrograde, Besieged, Lunar Mansion, Hour of the Moon, Arabic Parts, Oriental / Occidental and many more. Using a second system is unnecessary.

10 thoughts on “Whole Signs & Planetary Strength

  1. thanks Peter for that post. I find whole house so much easier to use and read. You can see the planets aspects and get the feel for their ability to act in a brief glance. With the other house systems, you have to stare and stare and then work out who is in control of whom.

  2. I’m pleased you found it helpful, Sharon and thanks for the comments. I take it you mean Whole Sign, but as you know Whole House is quite old as well. There is an ongoing, probably endless, debate about which one was actually used by Ptolemy.I would be curious to know, but it wouldn’t make an iota of difference to my own practice.

    By the way, WordPress appears to be set up so that the first post of anyone requires that I *approve* it. After that there is no delay. I’ve tried to set so that posts are automatically approved, but find no way to do that. My apologies for that inconvenience.

  3. Demetra George uses whole sign houses, as I was just reading her book Astrology and the Authentic Self. I have decided to try it, and see how it works. Why don’t they use whole sign for horary charts then?

  4. I can’t speak for all, but most are simply following Lilly, Bonatti et all. t’s a lot easier following a teacher if you’re using the same system. I use Regiomontanus for Horary. To the best of our knowledge, neither Lilly nor Bonatti ever knew Whole Sign.- they almost certainly didn’t know about. WS .Our knowledge of it is a result of the Hellenistic Renaissance, particularly over the last two decades

  5. Interesting, but also not for me. Admittedly, this is because I work in the classical tradition, but also simply because the rendering of charts that are “easier to read” just feels reductive to me. Then again, whatever works….

    • One comment here – the first below the article – was that whole sign makes charts easier to read. And I’ve heard some astrology students saying they liked the whole sign system because they found it easier and preferred not having to deal with interceptions.
      Then I said that favoring a system because it makes charts easier to read feels reductive to me.
      And then I said that it’s up to astrologers to use what they find works best.

  6. Thank you for the clarification. This issue I have with quadrant houses being used in concert with a whole sign chart is that it produces arbitrary results. The system you use will give you the relative planetary strength, but each one is different — that’s why I would argue that whole sign can be used alone, like any other system

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.