The Mysteries in Hellenistic astrology
the original article and some 2014 review
Clelia Romano, DMA Copyright 2007-2014
This article was inspired by the lectures presented by Robert
Schmidt during the Vll Astrological Conclave in Cumberland, July 2007.
Robert Schmidt together with Robert Hand and Robert Zoller created the memorable
project Hindsight. In the beginning of 1990 they began the translation of
Greek and Latin astrological sources to English. The translation was an essential
tool in order that the current astrologers could recover and recall the great
Art and the nobility of the ancient astrology.
It’s impossible to discuss Hellenistic Astrology disregarding some important
philosophical concepts. The Greeks were really great philosophers, and they
had a quite complex insight on the cosmos and human existence.
Sometimes it’s difficult to understand their way of thinking, but if
we are able to leave aside the analytic mind just like we did when we relinquished
the Cartesian point of view in order to become astrologers, believing that
we can find more in the occult than in the cold way of measuring things, we
will be able to envision the true meaning of the Greek thinking.
We will see some quite unusual and at times weird concepts: there are many
clues in Hellenistic astrology devised to force you into thinking. Hence,
be prepared for unsettling ideas.
Some of them, according to Robert Schmidt´s information, are related
to esoteric aspects that are being revealed through recently discovered ancient
Tablets containing new ways of dealing with the meaning of houses. One of
these Tablets ends with the following words:
“He, Trasyllus, describes how Trimegistus said”
The Mystery of the Houses
The houses are divided in angular houses, pos ascensional and and cadents from
the angle. The first ones are called “pivots” by the Greeks and
they work like hinges around which everything revolves.
The post ascentional houses have the function of supporting the house before
they are those through which you enter a cadent house. The cadent house, a house
between worlds, on the other hand has the function of destroying the previous
house, and is like a bridge to the next one.
From where the division of houses came from? The Greeks were the first to describe
the Hõroskopos, the exact point of the Ascendant and this happened in
the second century BC when Hypsicles of Alexandria discovered the mathematical
method for calculating it. At this time appeared the first chart with the respective
Vettius Valens, in his Anthology written in the 2nd century AC, used whole signs
and also topic division based in Porphyry.
The Hõroskopo is the point from where we depart to describe the other
houses. For the Greeks, however, any point can be used as Hõroskopos.
The chart can depart from a LOT, for example, (the Fortune Lot , the Spirit
Lot, the Eros Lot, etc ) or even any other house can became a Hõroskopos,
a point of departure, the first house to analyze the others under a specific
subject. For example, if the issue is a financial problem, we can depart from
the Lot of Fortune or from the Second House, or use the system of derivative
The detailed description of this virtuosity in the Hellenist astrology is well
described in the introduction by Robert Hand to the Book ll of Vettius Valens
In spite of the determination of the exact position of the Hõroskopos,
the Greeks always used whole signs instead of dynamic houses, even if we have
testimonies of the topic division as well.
What means to use the whole sign systm of houses? Let’s assume the Ascendant
to be at 22º of Cancer. The first house initiates in the beginning of Cancer
and goes as far as its last degree. A planet at 29º of Cancer would be
considered in the first house.
But we haven’t discussed any mysteries yet…so far we just described
some astrological Hellenist statements.
We know the terrestrial houses are 12 and that they have a meaning, according
to their aspects relative to the Ascendant.
The Eight topic houses system coexisted with the current 12 houses system at
The Greeks had two words for life:
“Zoo”: the physical existence and “Bios”, the life you
live, the livelihood.
And you live your life in Places that the Greeks named Topos or Houses as we
name them nowadays.
The “Hõroskopos ” is the first house and represents “Zoo”,
the physical life. This life is supported by the activity of the Second House.
The issue of the Second House is a Bios´s issue.
Now we will see the explanation of life in a different way.
According to the new material being translated, the life that we live is shared
by the 12th, the 10th and the 8th houses.
This is really a mystery and a weird one, because what kind of life you can
live in the 8th house, the place of death if your life is restricted to being
In the 10th house, the statement is perfectly understandable because in the
10th is where you live and act without restriction your adulthood.
And the 12th house, a cadent house, “apoclima”, between worlds?!
You are not alive yet, this is prior to our existence! How can we understand
such a weird statement?
I invite you to empty your mind and listen carefully:
The 12th house has a meaning of preparation: at the same time it’s the
apoclima, a decline, a turn backwards from the first, but it is the house where
you choose your Bios, where you’re not living your life, but choosing
the one that you will have to live.
Greek astrology was not reincarnationist but used a lot of Plato’s theory,
and Plato believed in reincarnation.
According to this theory, after the 12th we have the birth of the body, the
As soon as we live the three houses after the 12th and go directly to the end of
the Second House, which supports the First, we find the abyss of the Third House.
It is an initiation and we have to jump over it. At this moment we don’t
go to the Third, but to the 9th house: it’s the death of our childhood:
the 9th is the 8th of the Second.
The first return of Saturn occurs at this time and it represent the good-bye
to the first youth, in order to enter the adulthood. This event occurs at about
thirty years of age: we reach our maturity.
In the 9th, a cadent house, we prepare for our prime, we get subsidies, guides
and learning to achieve our acts in life. We reach the 10th house , the Praxis,
prepared to act in the public life, having children included, matter of the
10th for the Greeks.
The 11th house is the patronage, the friends and institutions that support our
public life and position.
Additional 30 years are spent in the 9th, 10th and 11th houses. It is the period
between the 30 and 60 years of age.
Once you lived the 11th house it is time for your second initiation: -you’ll
have to jump to the 6th House, the illnesses of the body, which will prepare
you for death, which will happen in the 7th House. Indeed, the setting place
makes opposition to the Ascendant.
The next thirty years of the native life will revolve around this new theme:
the destruction of life.
Back to our initial theme: what kind of activity can we have in the 8th house,
also called “lethargy” and when our body is supposed to be dead?
In this house we have to drink the water of forgetfulness, to forget the life
we lived and our Bios. This is the activity of the 8th: to forget.
So, the 12th House is a preparation for the Bios. We get a Zoo, a body, and
we begin to live our life going straight to the end of the Second House, where
our first thirty years of life are spent.
After this rite of passage that occurs -not by coincidence at the same time
we have the first Saturn´s return -there is a jump from youth to adulthood,
where we will live the next thirty years of our life, in the prime of our adulthood
and living the good houses, the 9th, 10th and 11th. Next, we have the second
Saturn’s return, another jump, this time to a worse place, the illness
of the 6th House which will prepare us for death.
Let’s suppose that someone lived more than 90 years. This person would
jump to the 8th of the 8th: i.e. from the 8th house to the Third (a between-worlds
house), cadent, preparing for the 4th, the Hades, and after this to the 5th,
the fame after death.
In the Hellenistic texts, action is Praxis, and Praxis is matter of the 10th
house, but also of the Third, because Praxis means practice but also means to
transverse spaces and to travel, matters of the Third: the travel to Hades.
From another side, siblings are matter of the Third, but the ruler of the Third,
Mercury, is the same ruler of the 12th in the Thema Mundi [iii], Mercury, means
that brothers and sisters are those who came for the same purposes and with
the same agenda. Our brothers are those who came from the same symbolical womb.
The Third House, between worlds in the Thema Mundi, is represented by the double
sign of Virgo [ii], disposed by Mercury, who is Psycho pomp.
What does the soul have to do in the Third house? It´s suppose to travel
to the underworld, to the Hades.
The 4th house is Nemesis’ house, the reward, the justice, the place where
the soul will be weighed. The Fourth House has its own Lot, the Lot of Nemesis
or Justice, based on the relationship between the Lot of Fortune and Saturn.
Nemesis becomes a contributing cause of fate coming from underground sources.
In the underworld´s house the soul will be weighed and evaluated until
it reaches the 5th house and again, jump to the 12th, where a new beginning
will be prepared.
In the 12th House, after the soul passes by the place of the Necessity it is
ready to live another life and another Bios. Hermes said that the Bios was supported
by the second house and for the Praxis, i.e. the 10th House, but besides this,
for the Third House that is a place of travel and dreams.
The Greeks had a very consistent way of seeing the houses.
We notice that they went clockwise and counterclockwise, and the use of derivative
houses was a rule. Besides this, each house could be used as the “horoskopus”
for the matter it represented.
So, if the Fourth House has to do with Hades, the place where the soul is weighed,
it has to do with both parents as well, and the First House is the 10th of the
Fourth: we are the result of our parent’s action. A house has many meanings,
as we can see, depending on its relation of the other houses.
In the Thema Mundi, our next topic, we will see that the Fourth House has to
do with Saturn and Nemesis, because the Fourth House is Libra in the Thema Mundi,
where Saturn exalts.
The 5th house is the posthumous fame, good or bad, and represents what will
happen to our body or ashes after death. At the same time, the 5th house has
to do with the legacy from the parents.
The meaning of the houses is mixed and it is important to consider everything
that was said, not discarding the news just because they are news. The ideas
are very consistent, and for sure they demanded a lot of dedication from the
ancients sages of Greece ,trying to figure out the human destiny facing the
large cycles and initiations of the life that ends with death, at least regarding
to our Zoo and present by Bios.
The Thema Mundi
Now we will take a first tour of the underlying philosophy in the Hellenistic
astrology. We went through a place where the meaning of the houses is virtual,
and each of them can represent the most varied kind of things, including the
journey of the soul to the earth and to the underworld.
To better explain the philosophical issue and the underlying Mystery of the
astrological houses, we will use the Thema Mundi, a hypothetical chart on the
birth of the world.
Such a chart is very ancient and is certainly used before the Christian Era. Pingree says in “Essays on Islamic Philosophy and Science”ed. G.F. Hourani that Gayomard, the first persian man had the Ascendent on 19th of Cancer. The myth of creation is not the same as the neoplatonic , but Cancer as the birth of the world seems to be common. Keyumars, the first man, is named Gayomard in the sacred Zoroastrian text, the Avesta ( 6the century BC).
The Greeks had contact with astrology as it was practiced by Babylonians and Egyptians and they used the Thema Mundi to construct their own philosophical and astrological understanding,
As we can see the Thema has the rising sign in Cancer and the MC in Aries,
which seems coherent, since Cancer is the universal symbol of generation. The
choice was not random. In the origins of the Persian civilization, astronomers
realized that in the sky in Cancer´s place, instead of constellations
and stars there was a vast black hole, without stars. For some scholars, the
round and big shape of this hole resembled a large crab or a turtle, from which
the idea of the Crab would come. Also the word “to cut” in Arcadian
has some similarity to crab, and “cut” should mean the division
between two sides of the sky, coinciding with the summer solstice in Cancer
divind the year.
The MC in Aries is quite appropriate, also, as the MC is where we develop our
actions to be seen in the world. The 7th House, that has the signification of
Death for opposing to the Ascendant, shows the sign of Capricorn and the IC
, Hades or underworld, is represented by Libra.
The Greeks explained the exaltations of the planets through geometrical drawings.
The trigons and hexagons drawn by the houses regarding the Rising Sign of the
Thema Mundi were regions where planets had their exaltations. Likewise, the
houses considered good for the Zoo had benefic planets in exaltation.
So, the 9th, the 10th and the 11th Houses are considered good places because
they “look” so to the horoskopus.
In the Rising Sign of the Thema Mundi, Cancer, Jupiter, the most benefic planet
has exaltation. In the 9th in the Thema Mundi, where is the sign of Fishes,
which makes a trigon to the horoskopos happens the exaltation of Venus, the
The Fifth House, in the Thema Mundi, is Scorpio and it has no planet in exaltation
in this sign. Though it makes a trigon with the Horoskopo, Scorpio is the fall
of the Moon, ruler of the Rising Sign in the Thema Mundi. Nothing can have exaltation
in the fall of the “horoskopo”´s ruler, it was said.
The two planets that exalt in Pisces and Cancer have to do with the Zoo, the
maintenance of life.
The 10th house is also beneficial to the Ascendant because it is a place where
the Bios works in the world and completes itself: in the Thema Mundi, we have
the sign of Aries, where the Sun exalts linking the action with visibility and
If the Sun exalts in the 10th, the other luminary, the Moon, exalts in the 11th,
making a hexagon with the Ascendant. In the Thema Mundi we have the Sign of
Taurus, giving support to the 10th house and making a sextile with the ASC.
In order of importance, after the first “pivot”, i.e. after the First
House, we have the 10th house and after the Seventh, Finally we have the 4th
The 7th house is an important house since it is in a “pivot”, but
it is not good for the native. As a matter of fact, it makes an opposition to
the native´s life, represented by the horoskos and because of this, Mars
has his exaltation there, in the sign of Capricorn of the Thema Mundi: it is
the house from where injury comes.
The 7th house, however, even being a not good house for life is not as bad as
the 4th House, the Hades, the worse of the “pivot” houses, so the
exaltation of the biggest malefic, Saturn, is in the 4th of the Thema Mundi,
Libra, where “Bios” and Zoo are still destroyed. Saturn and Libra
weigh the souls in the house of Nemesis, the distribution of the justice.
To Mercury is given the exaltation in Virgo, the Third House, since it’s
a house that makes a sextile with the ASC (using the hexagonal figure)
The third house is the least bad of the cadent houses, and is named the Goddes´s
The 9th is the best of the cadent houses, named the House of God.
With these considerations we hope to have given a small idea of the astrological
Greek philosophy. There are more articles to come up on this subject.
The Cadent Houses and
the Thema Mundi as Inexhaustible Source of Astrological Knowledge
Clélia Romano,DMA copyright 2014
There are articles not worthing to review . Even their eventual failures must
remain , otherwise we can delete some that was written when our memory was fresh
with astrological immersion in some important phase of our life . This is the
case, just now.
However it is important add further clarification that occurs after meditation
on certain topics and our own astrological maturity .
One of the things I could not help to clarify is how much of egyptien philosophy
in embedded on all the abpve explanation: we can´t forg that the sp called
Greek astrology was praticed in Egypt even if transmitted in Greek language.
The egyptien were much more interested in the soul and its destiny after life
than in encarnation, as Nick Campion made clear in the workshop that he gave
in Rio de Janeiro in 2011.
Traditional astrologers as Chris Brennan and Benjamin Dykes have offered a good
hypothesis explaining the position of the planets in the Thema Mundi in the
very house where they have exaltation.
My goal here is only to cover certain gaps relating especially to the cadent
houses , which are difficult to understand especially why they are ruled by
certain planets .
The first houses in each quarter of the chart are called ” pivots ”
or points that act as key points of life .
The houses hereinafter called post- ascensional houses have the function of
giving support to the previous ones. The following are called the cadent houses
or between worlds , and their function is to serve as a bridge to the next house
, the next pivot.
In this sense we can say that the Twelve House is a house where we choose our
incarnate life , where we choose our ” bios” .
Notice that both the 12 House and the 3rd House are ruled by Mercury. For this
reason they have important similarities . At first, Mercury forms a bridge between
the missing and the existing bios, ” chooses ” next life that will
have to be lived and this is quite near in its meaning of a thinking planet.
Mercury is also a psychopomp planet, mediating between what is above and what
Thus , in the third house , it also makes his role , as it was rumored that
the third house was related to travel and dreams and also to the brethren, children
of the same womb , the symbolic womb represented by the Twelve House .
But we can´t wonder why the 6th House, a house of diseases , has Jupiter
as ruler , just as the 9th : apparently this is not consistent with the maleficient
sense of the house .
My idea is the following: the 6th House is the 9th house from the 10th, which
means praxis, everything that we do. In this case , Jupiter , wisdom , prepares
to face the 7th House, which is the 10th House from the 10th. It is not a coincidence
that the 6th House is ruled by the same lord of the 9th House in Thema Mundi.
This may well be related to the fact that Jupiter represents the wise actions
necessary to accomplish our partnership.
Moreover and more relevant, is the fact that the 7th House is a dangerous one,
being ruled in the Thema Mundi by the malefic Saturn and having the lesser malefic
in exaltation there. Saturn rules also the 8th House , which is a house giving
its support to the 7th, the enemy of life, in other words, representing death.
So what kills is the 7th House and the the 8th House is death already happened
It seems to me that in the sixth house we need to prepare ourselves spiritually
for death. First , we get sick , we learn that our life and health is a miracle
, we prepare well or not so well , developing acceptance or another way to look
wisely to what is or was the course of our life and its end, waiting for us
It needs wisdom to make a good use of the 6th house! This is my explanation
on why Jupiter has rulership of the 6th House on the Thema Mundi .