Houses – Temples of the Sky

Deborah Houlding

Newly expanded and updated, this absolutely excellent and very welcome addition to the booklist discusses the background of house systems and the meanings of the houses in the context of ancient, traditional and modern astrology. Brilliant book!


This is a vital addition to any astrologer’s bookcase. Deborah discusses the background of house systems and the meanings of the houses in the context of ancient, traditional and modern astrology. Invaluable book and a must for those new to astrology.

An eBook version is available through the usual online sellers: iBooks, Nook, Googlebooks and Amazon

Weight 290 g

UK astrologer Deborah Houlding has been instrumental in bringing traditional astrological techniques back to the forefront of modern day practice. She was the award-winning editor of the much respected Traditional Astrologer Magazine, founded in 1993 when she also established Ascella Publications to specialise in producing rare and out-of-print traditional astrological texts. Since the late 1980s she has been active in researching the astronomical and symbolic basis of the techniques used in the traditional art of western astrology, from its earliest roots to its contemporary extensions.

Deborah’s book The Houses: Temples of the Sky is regarded as an essential text for anyone seeking a truly informed knowledge of the development and use of astrological houses. It is available in translation in Czech, German (awaiting publication) and Italian. Her knowledge of the techniques of William Lilly and his contemporaries, enabled her to produce a richly annotated reproduction of Lilly’s voluminous 17th century classic Christian Astrology, acclaimed for the illuminating explanations that accompany the main body of the text. Volume I is now being serialised online under the title ‘An Annotated Lilly‘.

Deborah hosts and maintains Skyscript, one of the most popular and informative astrology sites on the web. She also leads her own School of Traditional Astrology (STA), which tutors astrologers to a professional level of horary practice by correspondence and residential workshops.

Deborah is a popular and highly sought-after speaker at astrological conferences all around the world. In 2010 she was awarded the Astrological Association of Great Britain’s Charles Harvey Award for Exceptional Service to Astrology. In 2011 she was made an Honorary Member of the Astrological Association of Romania, for “acknowledged sustained contributions to the promotion of astrology”. In 2012 she was honoured as the first recipient of the Jayavidya International Astrology Award instituted by the Cultural Association Jayavidya.

A common practice in modern astrology texts is to equate the houses with the signs in a straight, one-to-one correspondence. Thus, Saturn in the second house can be interpreted in the same way as Saturn in Taurus, or Mars in Cancer has the same or similar meaning to Mars in the fourth house. This shorthand method makes learning the symbolic language of astrology much easier than if one had to learn the meanings of the houses as well as the meanings of the signs.
Historically speaking, in the evolution of astrology, the meanings of the signs and houses are quite different, with the signs offering descriptive information about the planets, and the houses showing the planets’ influence – where they are empowered and where they show incapacity or weakness. In The Houses, Temples of the Sky, Deborah Houlding takes the long view of the houses, how their meanings came about in the first place, and how they evolved over time according to the great astrologers and their writings. Her scholarly approach is an eye-opener for the more humanistic astrologers, those who look at the bright side when interpreting planets in the sixth, eighth or twelfth houses. In her mind, and apparently in the minds of some of the great astrologers from the past, planets in the eighth house, or transits through this house, bring catastrophe, plain and simple. Planets in the sixth house may bring bad health or require servitude to others, while planets in the twelfth house bring misery, bad luck, and enemy action. According to Houlding, the derivation of the house system began around the time the Ascendant was added to charts around 4 AD. The practice was already recorded then, so the house system may have been in use far before that, but the classical astrologers Manilius and Firmicus provide the best sources for the more ancient meanings of the houses. The well-respected Ptolemy hardly mentioned houses, but the Islamic astrologer Al-Biruni and William Lilly provide the other sources for interpreting the houses.  Using these classic sources, Houlding presents the play-by-play development of the house meanings, and then stands them in contrast to the modern interpretations.
Those interested in the history of the houses will find this book rich with insights, and likely emerge amazed at the true origins of the house system we use today. Based on the original consideration of the chart as a map of the heavens, everything above the horizon showed where the planets were during daylight hours (diurnal), while the planets below the horizon were called the nocturnal planets. Diurnal planets had power of expression, so they were considered to be empowered, while the nocturnal ones were weaker. Then, every two hours a new sign would arise, so night watchers were posted to check out these developments. The division into two-hour segments is the actual origin of the twelve houses, and the term “horoscope” means scoping the hours. According to Houlding, the favorable or unfavorable interpretation of planets in houses had to do with the house’s position in the diurnal scheme, and its relative aspect to the Ascendant. The eighth house is considered fairly calamitous because it’s near the end of daylight, and so doesn’t hold much promise. The fifth house is more favorable because it trines the Ascendant, and the eleventh house is likewise favorable because it’s sextile the Ascendant and growing in light. It’s all quite fascinating, and is bound to give those who study this pause in their thinking about houses. After the illuminating historical discussions, the author then presents the meanings of the twelve houses as they should be used today. Each house is given general interpretive meanings, and then these are followed by what the house signifies in horary astrology, mundane astrology, medical matters, commerce, and a few other categories. Try working with these house meanings and you’ll likely see better results in your ability to read what’s happening in the horoscopes, especially if you’ve been using the signs-equals-houses method.
Chris Lorenze – Dell Horoscope