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The Houses in Renaissance Astrology
Christopher Warnock, Esq.
George Wharton on the Twelve Houses


The Houses in Renaissance Astrology
Of the 12 Houses of Heaven
the Islamic Astrologer Al-Biruni
Al-Biruni on the 12 Houses
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The First Cause, therefore, of all things can be no other than the Supream Heaven...

George Wharton

The Cabal of the Twelve Houses Astrological from Morinus


The Works of that Late Most Excellent Philosopher and Astronomer, Sir George Wharton, Bar.

[1659] Collected into one Entire Volume. By John Gadbury.

Now amongst all other Foundations of Astrology, this of dividing the Heavens into 12. Houses, is the first and chiefest; in that thereupon principally depends the whole Art of Predictions: And the Causes, Reasons, and first Beginnings of this Division, furthest distant from our Understanding, and far more hardly to be found out, by reason, than any other; in which regard very few (if any at all) have undertaken the defence thereof, by any true or probable Reasons, Ptolemy himself (so say the truth) being in this particular very defective.
For Lucius Bellantius (who took upon him the defence of Astrology against Ficus) in his 10. Book (written against c.5. of Ficus' 10. Book) after he had enumerated sundry of his own and the Ancients trifles, not worthy the name of Reasons, is at length forced to oppose Ficus with Experience onely, and to conclude him from Objects very ridiculous, and unbeseeming an Artist of his Learning and Gravity, in these words: Querere igitur quam ob causum haec vel illa domus hujus virtutis sit, est quaerere, quare Sol sit Lucidus, cur Ignis calidus, Agua frigida; [roughly translated this says "Asking about the causes of the powers of the houses is like asking why the Sun gives light or why fire is hot or water cold..."] quae tamen ex principiis intrinsecis pendent nobis ignotioribus, aut saltem minime notioribus; which but a little before he had called Profunda Naturae secreta.


And indeed all others, who have endeavoured to give the Reasons of these Houses, have produced nothing orderly, nothing of Truth, but mere figments onely: So that if any-where they brought a reason which seemed but to defend one House, the very same really destroyed all the rest. And therefore Alexander ab Angelis, lib 4. cap. 19. after his Muster of all the Arguments brought by Julius Firmicus, concerning these Houses, he justly resells them, in these words: Ridiculus sit quicunque ridiculas bas rationes nostra refutatione egere existimaret.
By which it plainly appears, how easie and free it was for the Enemies of Astrology to hiss and laugh at these Houses, and importunately and impudently to demand, Why Heaven might not be divided into more than 12 Houses? Wherefore the First House is called the House of Life, and placed in the East? Why the order and numeral succession of the Houses is from East to West? And why the Second House is called the House of Riches or Gain, the twelfth of Enemies, Imprisonment and Misery? And so, why the other Houses are called by their Names, and disposed in that order?
Seeing (as they pretend,) as well their Order as Names, observe no Order at all, but are rather a mere Chymera of confusion, a plain hotch-potch of fiction and fooler, as Picus (lib. 10) and Alexander ab Angelis (I. 4) c. 27), variously, but most wretchedly torment themselves in proving.
But know, that the Division of Heaven into 12 houses, as before in the Figure,) ought not in any wise to be accounted feigned, or as wanting a Natural Foundation: But rather for a happy conception of the most wise and piercing intellect (provided any humane understanding can it self apprehend it, and it be not of that universal knowledge God infused into Adam at the Creation) as that which standing upon a real Foundation, declares the universal state of Man in Heaven, wonderfully shadowed, like as in his first Physical Cause. For this Division was by the first Author thereof, Cabalistically conveyed to Posterity, who indeed have in no sort changed the same; but yet its Mysteries (the spirit of the Cabal) they have not understood, nothing at all being left us by anyone concerning them.
First then (for more Illustration sake) I say, That the former, first and simple division of heaven into four Cardinal parts, is not feigned, but natural, and upheld by a natural foundation, as before hath been demonstrated. And that is everyone of these parts hath two other parts in heaven of the same Nature, viz., those with whome is makes an Aequilateral Triangle in the Aequator (the principal Circle of the Worlds first Motion) or which it beholds by a partile Trine in the Aequator.
For, the Eternal Trinity is of infinite Love, and the fountain and substance of infinite and most perfect Love, wherein the thing Loving, which is the First; the thing Loved, which is the second, and Love proceeding from both, which is the Third, are one, not in Genere, or in Specie, but in numero; and therefore the most simple, and most Perfect: Whose Perfection is such, and so universal, that it derives it self into every Trine: And therefore may every Trine be called Perfect: not in any particular or special perfection, but in that first, and most universal perfection of the First Trine, which cometh in Love, and whereof all Trines do diversly participate, according to the Capacity of the Nature.


Seeing therefore the Fixed Stars and Planets do (by reason of their various Motions) oftentimes behold one another with different Aspects into the Coelestial Circles, viz. a Sextile, Square, Trine, and Opposition: The first and wise Astrologers (as well for reasons taken a priori, from the infinite and most universal perfection of the first Trine, as a posteriori, from most evident Effects} do generally affirm, that of all Aspects the Trine is the most perfect, and that therein the perfection of the first Trine, viz. Love, is so strong and lively, it is called by them an Aspect of perfect Friendship. Now forasmuch as this could not be without a similitude of natures, or at least a generical Identity: They rightly concluded the parts of the Aequator, which beheld one another by a partile Trine, to be at least of the same generical nature, and to make up a Triplicity of the same nature.
Mr. Tambourine Man
Wherefore seeing that each of the aforementioned Four Cardinal parts of Heaven doth challenge to it self a peculiar Triplicity of its own nature; by these four Triplicities, Heaven is divided into 12 parts, called Houses: Neither was it divisible into more or fewer parts by the Created Quaternary multiplyed into the Divine Ternary. And therefore this Division is accounted the most absolute and truly perfect; as containing two Sextiles, two Squares, two Trines, and also the Opposition:
Which are all the Coelestial Aspects, from whence (not omitting the Conjunction) all variations of the general Coelestial Influences do happen. And these Aspects do perfectly agree with all the parts of the Number 12. which are 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. where of 1. is referred to Union or Conjunction; 2. (the 6. part of 12.) to the Sextile Aspect; 3. (the 4. part thereof) to the Quartile; and 4. (the third part) to the Trine; and 6. (the middle part) to the Opposition: And as there are not more Aspects in the Circle, so in the Number 12 not more parts. For indeed all things were made by God, in Number, Weight and Measure.
Thus much premised, I say, that the Life of Man consists of 4. Ages; Child-hood, Youth, Man-hood, and Old-age: And, that in Man there are four different things observable, unto which all the other de reduced, as it were to their first beginning; Namely, Life, Action, Marriage, and Passion. And these agree with the Beginning (or Rise) Vigour, Declination, and End or Death; which four were before insinuated generally agreeable to all the effects of Nature.
For Man is said to Rise into the World, when first he enjoys a Worldly Life: To be strong in Action, when he acteth, or reduceth his vigour of doing, into Action: To decline, so soon as a plentiful dissipation of his innate heat and radical moisture beginneth, as at the time of Marriage. And from Man-hood (the best time of Marriage) he declineth toward Old-age, and at length Dyes, when he sustains the last Passion of Life. Therefore Man's Life, Action, Marriage, and Passion, belong to the same Coelestial Principles, as do the Birth, Vigour, Declination, and Death of all other things in the World: viz. Life, to the East; Action, to the Mid-heaven; Marriage, to the West-angle; and Passion, to the Angle of the Earth.
Whence do arise 4. Triplicities of the same generical nature; and 12. Houses, as aforesaid.


The First Triplicity is of the Angle of the East, (which they name the First House, and belongeth to Child-hood) called the Triplicity of Being and Life: the other houses of this Triplicity are the Ninth and Fifth, both which do behold the first house by a Partile Trine Aspect in the Aequator, where is made this rational Division of the Houses.
For, Man liveth on a three-fold respect, in himself, in God, and in his Posterity. But the First Life is onely given a Man for other Causes, viz. That he might Worship God, and beget his own likeness: Which is the compleat intention of God in the production of Man.
  1. Now as touching the Life of Man in it self (because it is the first of all other things in the Order of Nature, and without it the rest could not be: therefore) it justly challengeth the principal House of the Triplicity, viz. The Angle of the East.

  2. Life in God (the second in order) exists in the house of religion, viz. the Ninth, subsequent to the First House in this Triplicity, according to the Motion of the Aequator.

  3. And lastly, Life in his Posterity, bestowed on the house of Children, which is the fifth. Wherefore this whole Triplicity concerneth Life. But herein one thing is very remarkable, viz. That by the motion of the Aequator (the measure of Time) there is made an immediate ingress, from the 9. house, into the 8. which is the house of Temporary Death: whereby man is to understand That he must live to himself in God, until his Temporal Death: so that betwixt this, and the Life in God, no part of time intercedeth.

The second, is the Triplicity of the Angle of the Mid-heaven, which they name the 10. house and appertaineth unto youth. This is also called the Triplicity of Action, and of Gain or worldly goods flowing thence: because every thing working Physically, worketh for some Physical good. For, as by the Motion of the Aequator, progress is made from the Angle of the East to the Angle of the mid-heaven: so is there a progress made from Child-hood unto youth, and from Being, or Life, to Action. The two other houses of this Triplicity are the 6 and 2.


But Gain, or the Physicall good arising to man from his Actions, I is threefold.
  1. The first (in order of dignity) is Immaterial: as are Arts, Magistracy, Dignities, and honours, unto which a man is raised: also Power and Majesty: wherefore it hath the principal house of I this Triplicity, viz. The Angle of the mid-heaven.

  2. The second, is Material and Animated; as are subjects, servants, and all other living creatures; and is placed in the 6. house, according to the Motion of the Equator, in the subsequent Triplicity.

  3. The last is Materiall-inanimated, as are gold, silver, household-stuff, and even all other Immoveable Goods, gotten by our own labour: which are attributed to the second house, under the name of Riches. Therefore this whole Triplicity is of Action and I Gain thence arising.

The third, is the Triplicity of the West Angle, named the 7. House, and belonging to man-hood: This is called the Triplicity of Marriage or Love. For, as by the Motion of the Equator, progress is made from the Angle of the Mid-heaven, to the West Angle: even so there is a progress from youth to Man-hood, and I from famous deeds, to Marriages and friendships of men, which thence are purchased, The two other houses of this Triplicity are the 3. and 11.
But a man is joyned to another, in a threefold respect.
  1. The first Conjunction (in order of dignity) is that of the body, which we call Matrimony, and therefore the principal house of this Triplicity, viz. the West Angle, is thereunto dedicated.

  2. The second, is that of Blood, which constitutes Brethren and Kindred, in the Third House, according to the Motion of the Equator in this following Triplicity.

  3. The last, is that of simple Benevolence, or favour, whence do arise friends, in the 11. house. Therefore, this whole Triplicity is of Marriage and Love.

The fourth Triplicity, is that of the dark angle, (in the middle of the night, or bottom of heaven) called the fourth house, and the Cave or Den of the Planets; attributed to old-age, and termed the Triplicity of Passion, Affliction, and Death; whereunto every man is subject, for the sin of Adam. The two other houses of this Triplicity are the 12. and the 8.
  1. But the first Affliction of Man, in the order of nature, is a sorrowful expectation of the Natural Death of his Parents: or rather (speaking Cabalistically) it is that stain of Original Sin, which our Parents imprint in us, and through which we are from our very Births made obnoxious to every misery, and at length, to death it self. And therefore the Parents and their Condition, during the life of the Native, as also Death, and heritages left by them to the Native, do possess the principal house of this Triplicity, viz. The Angle of the fourth house.


  2. The second Affliction consists in the hatred, deceits, Machinations, Treacherousness and Injuries of Enemies, especially Secret ones: So likewise in Prisons, Servitude, Poverty, and all other the Miseries a Man suffereth in his whole life-time. Now, for that all these are Enemies to Life, therefore they are contained under the onely consideration of an Enemy, in the 12. house, which is truly called the valley of miseries, and immediately followeth in this Triplicity, according to the motion of the Aequator.

  3. The last Affliction, inhabiting the 8. House, is the Death of Man himself, which is an End of this Temporal, and the Beginning of an Eternal Life: wherefore according to the second motion, or the motion of the Planets, which is from West to East, there is an entrance made from the 8. house into the 9. which is the house of Life in God: whereby man is given to understand that he is to pass by the second motion of the Soul, which is attributed to the mind or reason (as the first and rapt motion, is to the Body or sensitive appetite) from a Temporary Death., unto a Life in God, which is Eternal.

Therefore, in these Triplicities, that which is First in the order of nature, or dignity possesseth always the more noble houses, viz. the Angular: That which is second, succedent houses, according to the motion of the Aequator: And that which is last, Cadent, which are also succedent according to the motion of the Ecliptick, or Planets.
Lion Chariot
Now I beseech you, what is he will suppose this Division of the 12 Coelestial houses by Triplicities, appearing in this so excellent a consent, and in such wonderful order, to be in any wise feigned, or casual? Or whether by chance such consents are wont to be in things so abstruse and intermixed? Or if altogether fictitious, whether therefore altogether wanting a Natural Foundation; which before I have plainly proved to be false, and now made that most orderly consent of the Houses themselves manifest. Therefore is this Division Natural, and ordained by great wisdom, as comprehending (at least generically) all worldly things that can possibly be enquired of or concerning Man: forasmuch as the knowledge of Contraries is the same, and that an affirmative or I negative may be sought of any thing belonging to any house.
For example; Seeing Man, by the force of natural light, knoweth, I that there is one God, who made and governeth the world, and therefore to be worshipped and Loved above all (as the Trine aspect made from the first house, (the cause of all inclinations,) to the 9. which is the house of Religion, by the first principles of nature, insinuateth) from the Stars and Planets, (or their Aspects) resident in the 1. and especially in the 9. may judgment be given, whether the native shall be in- clined to the worship of God, and to Religion, or the contrary. And so concerning other things of this nature.


In like manner, conjecture is made from the 7. house, whether he shall lead a married or a single life: From the 5. whether he be fruitful, and to have issue, or the contrary: and so of the rest of the other houses. Moreover, this light of the Triplicities doth very clearly distinguish the things which belong to every House per se; and manifests their Errors who judge from the purpose by inconvenient or Repugnant Houses. For example;
In a manner all Astrologers do suppose (but erroneously) that health and sickness belong to the 7. and 6. Houses per se: whereas indeed they depend upon the Temperament, which is the Seat of Life; and therefore ought judgment to be given concerning them, from the First House, per se: but the judgment deduced from other Houses is only per accidens, that is, as you shall find the Malevolent Planets, or their Beams, upon which the horoscope falls by Direction, or which shall come by Direction to the horoscope it self, or to the opposition or Square thereof, during the Life of the Native: And therefore if Saturn or Mars, shall at the Moment of his Birth, be found in the 2. or 6. House; from these Houses shall judgment be given (per accidens) of a Saturnine or Martial disease; to happen when the horoscope comes by Direction to Saturn or Mars, in the 2.
Or when Saturn or Mars shall come by Direction to the opposite of the horoscope in the 7. Therefore judgment per se is always referred to the horoscope. The like of other Houses, which Ptolemy especially seems highly to pervert; but would have said otherwise, had he known this Cabal of the Houses, which so perfectly distinguisheth the proper house of every thing. Much more might be said concerning these Triplicities, conducing to the natural light of Praedictions, which I here omit; presuming I shall abundantly satisfie as well the Friends as Enemies of Astrology, if from the Doctrine proposed, I do give a full and clear Answer to the beforementioned importunate Questions, put to Astrologers, concerning these houses.
Therefore to the first Question I say, that heaven is divided into 12 Houses and no more; because everyone of the 4 Cardinal parts of heaven, which govern the beginning, vigour, Declination and Death of things, do by a Trine Aspect, behold two other Coelestial parts, which be of its own Nature: whence shall arise three places out of each of the 4. Cardinal, of the same nature, for three times 4 doth make neither more nor less than 12.
To the second, I say, that the first House is called the House of Life, because a man is said first to Rise upon this Scene of the world, when first he draws the Breath of this Life: and therefore seeing that the first breathing of this Life is the beginning thereof, it must be placed in the East, as the beginning of every other Physical thing.
Janus Faced Gods
To the third, I answer, that it matters not as to the instituting of Coelestial Influxes, or Praedictions, what number any House be called by, whether 2. 3, or 4. provided heaven be divided (as before) into four Triplicities, and the nature of the Houses not changed. Yet the Physical order of the Houses is from the East to the South, into the West, agreeable to the Motion of the first and most universal Physical cause, according to whose parts succeeding one another, by that motion, are the principal Estates or Ages of all generable things contained (according to their succession, before related) in the Equator the principal Circle of the first cause: and so Physically the House of Enemies is the second in order; the House of Friends the third; the House of Magistracy, the fourth, and so forth.
But mystically, or Analogically, the Numerical order begins from the East by the North Angle, to the West: the reason whereof is this. There are two Motions in the heavens; the first is of the first Moveable, termed the Raptmotion: the second of the Planets, who (notwithstanding the Rapt-motion, by which they are wheel'd about) inviolably observe the Laws of their own Moderate motion, ordained to the contrary of the former. There are also two Motions in Man, who is called the Microcosme; one of the sensitive Appetite, which is the motion of man, in as much as he is a Living creature, and the first in the order of nature, and also rapid: the other is of the Rational appetite, which is the Motion of a man, as he is man, and contrary to the former, and also very moderate in it self.


But forasmuch as the first of the Motions of a man, hath a greater Analogy with the Motion of the first moveable; and the second with the Motion of the Planets: Therefore it was thought fit that heaven should be divided according to the Succession of the Signs, or the direct Motion of the Planets (for these also are sometimes Retrograde, and Stationary, even as is the Rational appetite, in its course, whilst it suffers it self to be rapt or perverted by the Sensitive Appetite.)
But that was done only in an Analogical consideration, and not for any Physical cause, as if the Motion of the first Moveable should by itself have influence upon the Sensitive Appetite of man, and the Motion of the Planets, by it self, upon the Rational: for the Planets insomuch as they are carryed by their own Motion, and even also the first moveable, have not of themselves any influence upon the Sensitive Appetite, or on man, as he is a Living creature, otherwise than upon other Animals. But neither the Planets, nor First Moveable, have of themselves influence upon the Rational appetite, or man, so far as he is Rational, for a reason arising from no Natural, but a Supernatural principle.
Nevertheless, there are many things to be perceived in that mystical Analogy, worthy our consideration, as conducing not a little to the wholsome instruction of the Mind, and amongst others, this especially, viz. That there are two ways which presently occurr to a man at his Birth, and even when placed in the first House of his Rising.
One is of the Sensitive Appetite, whereby he is brought, by the Motion of the first Moveable, into ,the valley of miseries, viz. the 12. House...which contains all the miseries of this Life, and also the House of the secret Enemies, of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, the way of whose Pride this is; tending first and forthwith on high to the Angle of Honour and Majesty; which House issueth from the Triplicity of Parents and Death, and threateneth continual Imprisonments in the dark den of sorrow and horror.
But the other way is that of the Rational Appetite, whereby a man is carryed by the Motion of the Planets in the way of Descension and humility, to the House of Riches, or Goods gotten by a mans own vertues, viz. the second, which springs from the Triplicity of the Supreme Angle, or mid-heaven, wherein Goodness, Power, and Majesty are seated; whereby it's evidently manifested unto us, whether of those ways is the better, and which we had best follow, the Motion of the Rational, or that of the Sensitive Appetite.
Lastly, to the 4 Question I say, that the reason, why every House must be called by its own, and not another Name; appears more clear than the Sunshine it self, in the Constitution, Distinction, and Explication, of the Triplicities before posited. wherefore I will put an end to this my discourse of the Coelestial Houses, which although it be indeed new, and hitherto unheard of, yet it is firmly established upon Physical Reasons, and taking its Original from the most Glorious things, is thitherto reduced; to the end, that the invisible things of God from the Creation of the world, might be clearly seen, being understood by the things which he hath made.


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