Okay, I admit it: I picked the title for this entry because it’s a lot more exciting sounding than “Derivative Houses: An Under-Appreciated Astrological Technique.” But if you are learning astrology, the Derivative Houses Technique really is a great way to bring depth to your understanding of a birth chart, and demonstrates just how much information you can get from a nice, accurate birth chart.
“Derivative Houses” is a technique that is often used in horary astrology — the art of interpreting a “birth chart” for the moment a question is asked in order to determine the answer. It’s also useful in natal astrology, as per this example where I wrote about how to find more information on your career strengths based on the Derivative Houses principle.
Seriously: it’s THAT good.
Here’s how it works:
The Third House of a birth chart represents siblings (among other things), the Seventh House represents your partner (among other things), and the Ninth House represents Higher Education (among other things). So… to oversimplify… someone with Uranus in the Third House, Mars in the Seventh, and Saturn in the Ninth might have an eccentric sister, athletic (or cranky) spouse, and trouble paying for (or completing) college.
Derivative Houses is a technique where the birth chart is “turned” so that the House ruling the subject in question becomes the First House. So, we turn the chart so that the Third House becomes the “First House.”
And, by the way? Pitch out that Placidus House chart of yours and go Whole Sign for this. Yes, even if your ascendant is 29 degrees Aquarius, ALL of Aquarius is your First House. Yes, really. Whole Sign Houses work. Deal with it.
Now, re-count those House numbers, starting with the new First House as “one.” What used to be the Seventh House now becomes the Fifth House (the Seventh being five Houses away from the Third). There’s Mars… and there’s your eccentric sister’s athletic son and/or romantic taste for jerks. Saturn, which was in your Ninth, is now your sister’s Seventh… and sure enough, she ended up marrying one of those jerks she was attracted to and can’t get rid of the guy.
Oh well. At least she got a future Olympian out of the deal.
Try playing with the concept yourself, with your own birth chart and those of people you know well. You may find that the Sixth House Neptune that’s always messing with your immune system also explains why your sister (Third House) had a weirder relationship with your Mom than you did… the Sixth House being the Fourth House from the Third.
Your Third House Uranus is six Houses (Sixth House: daily details and work habits) from your Tenth… which might explain why you’re always having trouble with the software and procedures at work. And that Ninth House Saturn is the Twelfth House from the Tenth… so you might have a hard time getting work with the government.
Derivative Houses can add real depth to the interpretation of a birth chart, making you a better astrologer. Which, if you think about it, might be even better than being a Kung Fu master.
Well… it’s safer, anyway.
One of my former astrology students kept coming back to me, years later, trying to make sense of her often-confused love life. What puzzled me about this is that, despite my rantings in class, she’d always start with the composite chart, not the two individual charts. And the more I pointed this out over the intervening years, the more she’d do it.
(For those of you not familiar with the composite chart, it’s when you add up the placements in two charts and work out the average… a chart for the relationship itself, if you will. If your Sun is at 10 degrees Aquarius, and your mate’s Sun is at 10 degrees Aries, your composite chart will have the Sun at 10 degrees Pisces, and so on through the other planets in the two birth charts.)
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that finding a soul mate is not a guarantee of bliss, in this astrologer’s humble opinion. It’s not even a free pass to a stable relationship. Often, it’s the contrary.
I’ve come up with a composite chart that can give misleading results… if consciously or otherwise, you’re looking to be misled. Don’t laugh: a lot of durable relationships have strong Neptune action going on, and who doesn’t love a good romantic delusion now and then?
Meet Matthew The Astrologer and his soul mate du jour… Richard Milhouse Nixon. I’ve printed my/our composite chart above.
I have certain strongly held political beliefs. I don’t want to get into too much detail here… but in a lot of ways, Richard Nixon is a symbol of how things can go terribly wrong with the democratic process. Just thinking about the man can make me antsy. But if you look at the composite chart for me and Dick, it’s actually not that bad. Under different circumstances… like if it was an actual relationship… an astrologer could be forgiven for making observations like:
-“North Node in the composite 7th House gives this relationship a real feeling of destiny.”
-“Mercury-Mars-Jupiter conjunct in the 4th makes for interesting, purposeful
activity on the domestic front.”
-“Sun and Uranus in the composite Fifth House? You two are going to have a lot of fun together!”
…All of which could be more or less true, and none of which would change the fact that if the two of us were locked in the same room for an hour, one or both of us might get killed. A lot of life’s craziness comes from us trying to shoehorn people (and our relationships with them) into forms that don’t fit.
On the other hand, a composite can certainly give you some interesting clues about what a relationship wants to be, as opposed to what it is or what you think it should be. And, come to think of it, this composite does indicate that Tricky Dick and I might in fact develop a functional relationship, if I was (for example) a member of his personal staff.
Admit it: if you heard there was a sitcom about Richard Nixon and his time-travelling liberal hippie valet, you’d watch. Besides, I’ve always had a sneaking fondness for the man, no matter how much he annoys the me. Yeah, I can’t really explain it myself. I was no fan, but I somehow… empathized? Understood? Was willing to cut him some slack? No, probably not… but something like that. But in the event I was in the same lifeboat with him, I could probably make a better go of it than most could. And hey… that’s gotta count for something, doesn’t it?
Now: does that sound like any relationship you’ve ever been in…?
You’ve probably heard the old adage that “there are three sides to every story — yours, mine, and the truth.” This is a particularly important principle to remember when one is looking at the general nature of the Signs, and Sun Signs in particular. Beyond that, we also tend to have our own prejudices based on personal experience. If you’ve only ever met three Albanians in your life and two of them were dentists, you might assume that most Albanians are dentists… and as a result you are more likely to forget all the Albanians you meet who aren’t dentists. Furthermore, the next time you meet an Albanian who is a dentist, you’re probably going to congratulate yourself on what a keen observer of Albanians you are.
Keeping this principle in mind, let’s re-examine all our assumptions about the Signs… not just through our own observations, or even what people born under those Signs declare about themselves. Let’s explore the nature of each Sign through that most objective and flawlessly infallible of means… court records.
There was sarcasm somewhere in the previous paragraph. Can you spot it?
ARIES: Attempted Vehicular Homicide
Aries: “I have a clean record and a perfect insurance rating, so I think we’ve established I am a competent driver. I have driven past that school many times in past without incident. Since there was damage to the rear of my vehicle, it should be obvious I was rear-ended and thus am not at fault.”
The Defendant: “That’s outrageous! All the evidence clearly indicates I was doing my job at the time and I am not in the wrong here!”
The Ruling: “I rule in favor of the Defendant, who was simply performing her regular crossing-guard duties at the time. And no Aries, you can’t claim for the damage you sustained when you backed over her again just because she made you wait too long.”
Taurus: “I was entirely within my rights acting the way I did. There were clear rules posted, I paid the proper entrance fee, and behaved in a civil manner throughout the evening until the incident happened… at which time I had no choice but to stand up for myself.”
The Defendant: “At no time during the course of the entire day, from 11 AM until 9:45 PM, did any of us do anything but our jobs in an efficient, professional, and polite manner.”
The Ruling: “Taurus, I find you guilty. The phrase ‘all you can eat’ has practical limitations, and the buffet running out of roast beef and potato salad fifteen minutes before closing time is no excuse to hold the entire kitchen staff at gunpoint until they correct that situation.”
GEMINI: Contractual Dispute
The Defendant: “Your Honor, Gemini was hired to fulfill a contract for services as a personal care attendant, and although at least minimal expectations were met, Gemini’s attention span and quality of work is so scattershot that I am requesting that the contract be rendered void for the remainder of the term.”
Gemini: “If I may… the entire history of modern contract law has reflected both the need for fair and equitable standards AND the need to recognize that personal services must inherently, by definition, reflect the individual nature of the contractor!”
The Ruling: “You raise some valid points about the history of civil jurisprudence, however you seem to have gotten bored and wandered off from where you should be. This is the drive through-window across the street from the courthouse. Have you tried our new Triple Chipotle Burger?”
Cancer: “You wounded me! WOUNDED ME, deliberately and cunningly, and you are a sociopathic narcissistic monster. Everything I dd to you was in self-defense, and you were asking for it the whole time, and I wish you were dead!”
The Defendant: “Your Honor, here is a copy of the police report on the incident in which no action was taken against me by the police, and some photos of my defensive wounds.”
The Ruling: “I rule against Cancer. Cancer, I’m sorry, but neither a stray comment about your Mother that you didn’t approve of nor mild personal criticism constitute ‘attempted murder,’ thus your plea of self-defense is invalid. Furthermore, the Court finds that the Defendant is not liable for the extensive counseling you claim to require now as a result.”
LEO: Disturbing the Peace
Leo: “Democracy cannot last without freedom of expression. Without the ability to speak the truth, ultimately tyranny will prevail and our entire way of life, as protected by the Constitution by our Founding Fathers will collapse. All civil rights must be based on individual rights!”
The Prosecution: “Nonetheless there are clear restrictions when it comes to proselytizing religious or philosophical positions in public places or against the will of others, such as prayer in public schools.”
The Ruling: “I find you guilty, Leo. I don’t care HOW much of a Good Hair Day you are having, it’s doesn’t give you the right to commandeer a sales meeting and shouting ‘All of you, bow down before my mighty hairstyle.'”
VIRGO: Interfering With An Aircraft In Flight
Virgo: “Your Honor, the actions taken by Oceanic Airlines were, and still are, a clear and present danger to public safety, and I wish to claim immunity from prosecution under the Whistleblower Protection Act.”
The Prosecution: “The Whistleblower Protection Act does not in any way apply to this case or the Defendant’s actions that day.”
The Ruling: “I agree. No matter how poor the nutritional value of the in-flight snacks or the health hazard presented by re-circulated air when someone ten rows ahead of you is sneezing, the Defendant has no right to scream ‘MY GOD WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!’ repeatedly in mid-flight.”
Virgo: “However, I am technically correct when I say ‘we’re all going to die, and poor diet and disease are major causes of — ‘”
The Ruling: “You want 30 days more for contempt of court, Virgo? I don’t care if you’re technically correct or not!”
LIBRA: Second Degree Battery
Libra: “I was walking back to work after my lunch break when I turned the corner and saw the defendant assaulting that hot dog vendor. What other choice did I have but to intervene? Where will we all end up if no one cares about these things?”
The Plaintiff: “I WASN’T DOING ANYTHING WRONG!”
The Ruling: “The Court finds Libra guilty of assault. Furthermore Libra: I should note that neither ‘being rude to a hot dog vendor’ nor ‘wearing both stripes and plaid at the same time’ constitute ‘assault’, no matter how delicate your aesthetic senses are.”
SCORPIO: Labor Code Violations
Scorpio: “If only you knew the number of years I was subjected to harassment by this man — denigrating my work, never approving my holiday requests, micro-managing, saying things that I really knew were just snide remarks about my professionalism — then you’d be dismiss these charges immediately!”
The Defendant: <silence>
The Ruling: “Scorpio, your accusation of unfair labor practices is dismissed. Now untie your boss and take that gag out of his mouth before I charge you with contempt.”
SAGITTARIUS: Operating Heavy Equipment While Impaired
Sagittarius: “Your Honor, I have worked at ABC Construction for five years now without a single day lost due to injury, and not one single citation for unprofessional or dangerous behavior. I believe my boss reported me simply because he has no sense of humor — which isn’t illegal, but probably should be.”
The Defendant: “Sagittarius had returned two hours late from lunch and clearly smelled of alcohol even before Sagittarius began to engage in the offending bahavior.”
The Ruling: “I find Sagittarius guilty. First of all, ‘I feel lucky’ is never a valid defense. Secondly, what you call ‘forklift jousting’ is clearly dangerous. Finally, you’ve worked there for five years but you’re the receptionist and you don’t even have a driver’s license.”
CAPRICORN: Violations of the Geneva Conventions
Capricorn: “Your Honor, the defendant is a known associate of several accused terrorists, and it has been previously ruled that non-uniformed civilians acting independently against our interests do not receive protections reserved for prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.”
The Defendant says: “I was separated from my friends, my family, and my life for years while I was degraded and tortured for no good reason and to extract unreasonable behaviors from me!”
The Ruling: “Capricorn, even if one of your salepeople isn’t performing well and hangs out at lunch with other under-achievers, that’s no excuse for waterboarding that salesperson… and even if that salesperson tells a customer something is cheaper across the street, that doesn’t make him a ‘enemy combatant.’ Also Capricorn, you are a terrible regional manager.”
AQUARIUS: Human Rights Violations
Aquarius: “I’M out of order? YOU’RE out of order! The entire SYSTEM is out of order! I will be taking this to the highest court in the land! Justice must be done in this case! Everything our society is based on depends on it Your Honor!”
The Defendant: “Aquarius is in clear and flagrant violation of not only the letter but the spirit of the law, and thus I request not only a directed verdict and that Aquarius be compelled to comply immediately!”
The Ruling: “Aquarius, you know the rules. You go for your nap after lunch, even when it’s Daddy putting you to bed and not me. You can’t sue us over that. And stop calling me ‘Your Honor’ — it’s ‘Mommy.'”
PISCES: Parking Ticket
Pisces: “It was just — I was so overwhelmed by the needless suffering of — of all living souls. I… I just couldn’t… I just couldn’t go on!” (collapses into a sobbing ball on the courtroom floor) “And then this big meanie did something that hurt my feelings even worse!”
The Defendant: “Your Honor, I don’t care how damned empathetic Pisces is to the suffering of others, that doesn’t mean she can park in the handicapped spot, even if it IS in front of the animal shelter. So I wrote her a ticket.”
The Ruling: “You were technically correct to issue the ticket, Officer Wilson. However, in light of Pisces’ current condition, I am waiving the ticket and issuing her a handicapped parking pass.”
Many an astrologer has spent a lot of time and energy explaining to clients how the energy Saturn brings is ultimately a good thing. It challenges but it strengthens, it hurts but it scrapes away the things you don’t really need, it scares but it clarifies, and so on. These are all good and true things of course, but they neglect one very important fact — one that the old-school, fatalistic astrologers of yesteryear were all too ready to point out: Saturn is a gigantic nuisance, and at worst it can feel like the icy breath of Death Itself down the back of your neck .
Whatever department of your life has been the most work in the last two and a half years and/or has seen the most hard work and seemingly unnecessary setbacks is likely the House of your birth chart where Scorpio lies. Although no one can promise you instant results, that area of your existence is likely to get easier once Saturn enters Sagittarius on September 17th. For example: Scorpio in my birth chart is the Fifth House, which is the general ruler of “having fun.” So, go ahead, ask me how much fun the last couple of years of my life have been. Go ahead, ask! Wait, you probably shouldn’t until my medication kicks in. You better clear it with my counselor, therapist, and nursing staff first. Yeah… just don’t ask.
At the same time though, I have learned and grown immensely from the last couple of years of my life and I genuinely believe I am now a better person overall for the experience… or will be once my recovery is complete. That’s the thing about Saturn transits: they take time to process. Like a fine wine they take on flavor and richness in the fullness of time, but if you crack that barrel open too early, you’re going to be drinking something akin to grape-flavored pond scum.
Sagittarius seems like a bad fit for Saturn. As much as Sagittarius has gained the reputation for being a philosopher, a deep thinker, and possessed of a certain innate wisdom, you have to admit that often they seem to take more after… shall we say the hind end of the Centaur? Making it worse is that Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, which is in many ways Saturn’s polar opposite. Jupiter wants to order anther round of drinks for everyone, but Saturn is always there to collect the tab at the end of the evening… and if your wallet is empty, there will be consequences long after you sober up.
Nonetheless, there is much good to come from Saturn in Sagittarius, and I will be covering it from all the angles, right here. Keep dropping by and we’ll figure this out together, okay?
To summarize: whatever Saturn brings you between this September and December 20th, 2017 (when Saturn finally moves on and becomes Capricorn’s problem) we’re going to be fine, and then better than fine — and ultimately the cheerful, boisterous, optimistic, somewhat cheerleader-like nature of Sagittarius will get us all through it.
So I say: bring it, Saturn in Sagittarius!