June 24, 2014

The Four Quadrants in a Birth Chart

Before posting the meanings of the 12 houses of an astrology chart, I wanted to go over exactly what a house even is and how one is configured. In Astrology there are many different ways to divide a chart into 12 houses. Known as House Systems, house divisions and calculations is perhaps the most controversial subject among astrologers, but I will always refer to and use one - the most popular house system in modern western astrology- known as the Placidus House System, (popularized in the 17th century). I won't go into all of the specifics on how exactly a Placidus chart is calculated, as it is rather confusing and complicated, but I recommend this article on Astro.com for further reading.

As a quick summary as to what I even mean by "house", I found the best description comes from one of the best astrologers, a big favorite of mine, Howard Sasportas, in his book The Twelve Houses: Exploring the Houses of the Horoscope, which I HIGHLY recommend for all students of  Astrology. Here is how he explains it:
The division of the mundane sphere into what eventually became known as the house  arose out of a need to relate the axial rotation of the Earth with the movement of the planets in the sky. While signs are subdivisions of the apparent revolution of the Sun, Moon, and planets around the Earth, houses are subdivisions of the Earth's diurnal (daily) rotation on its own axis.  
The houses used to be called "watches". Watches were based on the movement of the Sun as it rose in the east, passed overhead of the observer and set in the west. Each watch covered approximately 6 hours of time, marking points of sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight.  
By the advent of the Renaissance, astrology had devised several methods of dividing these watches into the twelve houses of the horoscope. Furthermore they developed a correspondence between the various types of human activity and the different watches or houses. In this way houses became the frame of reference through which the potentialities of a planet and sign combination could be related to the actual events and concerns of life. Without the structure of the houses astrologers cannot bring the significance of celestial events down to earth. 
Because Astrology assumes a geocentric solar system - that is, the earth placed at the center instead of the sun - a birth chart is drawn up based on the human perspective from here on earth. A chart begins at a certain degree of a certain sign of the Zodiac. Just as a day begins when the sun rises up over the horizon in the east every morning and ends as it sets in the west every evening, astrological charts also begin in the east, (which is always on the left side of a chart - confusing, I know). Specifically, we look to the exact degree and the sign of that degree that was rising over the eastern horizon at the time of one's birth. It is that degree that begins a birth chart. This degree is called the Ascendant (ASC) or Rising sign. The Ascendant is literally the intersection of the ecliptic and a person's horizon, as in where the sky meets the earth. The point directly opposite (180-degrees) of the Ascendant is the Descendant (DC). The DC is always on the right side of a birth chart in the west. The two points, ASC and DC make up the horizon line running from east to west and divides the chart into two halves, a south half and a north half.
Astrology Houses and Quadrants chart
Just as there is, at any time, a particular sign rising over the eastern horizon, there is also always a certain degree and sign culminating at the upper meridian - the point exactly south of the place of one's birth. This point is called the Midheaven (MC). MC is an abbreviation for Median Coeli - or "middle of the heavens." The degree exactly opposite the MC is the Imum Coeli (IC) or "lowest heavens." These two points create the meridian axis, and also divide the chart into two more halves, an east and a west. These 4 points - ASC, DC, MC, & IC are what we call the Angles of a chart. They are like a framework or skeleton, from which, the rest of the chart is divided and configured.

Because the ASC/DC axis and the MC/IC axis cross each other at right angles, they create 4 separate divisions of the circle called quadrants. Each quadrant begins at one of the 4 angles mentioned above. The ASC is the cusp of the 1st house which is also the beginning of Quadrant I. The The IC is the cusp of the 4th house, which is also the beginning of Quadrant Il. The DC is the cusp of the 7th house, also the beginning of quadrant Ill. Finally, the MC is the cusp of the 10th house, also the beginning of Quadrant IV. This is how we create houses 1, 4, 7, and 10, which are in most cases located at different degrees for everybody. (There is a 1 in 360 chance of having the same angle degree as somebody else.) Marking the divisions for the rest of the houses is much more complicated, but for now, just know that each quadrant is divided into three different houses:

Quadrant I (navy): houses 1, 2, 3
Quadrant II (pink): houses 4, 5, 6
Quadrant III (brown): houses 7, 8, 9
Quadrant IV (turquoise): houses 10, 11, 12

When interpreting a chart it's important to remember that each house belongs to a certain quadrant. The birth chart is symbolic of many different cycles, including the cycle of a day, the cycle of a year, the cycle of life, and the cycle of human development, all of which go through different stages. Because I view Astrology as mainly a psychological tool, I tend to view the houses as stages in the journey from birth to death and the human developments that occur in each stage. In that sense, the 4 quadrants and the 3 houses in each quadrant are symbolic of these different psychological stages:

Quadrant I: The development and awareness of Self
Quadrant II: The integration of Self in the immediate environment
Quadrant III: The awareness of Other
Quadrant IV: The integration of the self into society

Next time I will go into more detail about each house!

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