People sometimes ask me how I feel about using whole sign houses, and Hellenistic astrology in general, and it's a very good question. The first thing I'd say just loudly and clearly: I have respect for all the forms of astrology that humanity has created all through human history, so long as they're used in ways that are truly helpful to people and do no harm to them. It's a ... I guess a bit of a platitude, but I really do want to say that. I don't speak the language of Hellenistic astrology and I don't use whole sign houses myself, but I don't mean that to be a rebuke of that system.
The single smartest thing I have ever heard anyone say on this subject came from the mouth of Robert Hand, who's a brilliant astrologer and a good friend of mine. He was asked a very similar question and his response was, "Which is truer: French or German?" Of course, it made everybody laugh, but more importantly, it made everybody think a little bit too. Because one can tell truth in French and one can tell truth in German, and one can lie in either language. And it's really the same with all the different forms of astrology.
I have cleaned up after evolutionary astrologers who've done damage with terrible, disempowering, shaming readings. Similarly, I have cleaned up after astrologers in almost every tradition who did the same thing, including Hellenistic astrology, or people using the whole sign system. It's a question of the philosophy, the attitude, the values and the love that we bring to bear. That's really what it all comes down to.
Astrologers can use astrology in a power trip, essentially, and again, I've seen that in every tradition. It comes down to whether we leave the client empowered or scared and shamed and defeated. It's an amazing philosophical meditation if we stop and reflect on this for a moment. I start with the observation that Hellenistic astrology and whole sign approaches, that they work. They produce good results. I might add, Vedic astrology, which is using an entirely different zodiac similar to Sidereal Western astrology, based on the constellations rather than the signs. Kind of a whole subject, but the whole point is they're different.
We're talking about entirely different systems of astrology that all seem to work, and we reflect on that and it's like, how can that be? We're so used to the idea that one system would be true and so the other systems must not be true. But it doesn't seem to work that way. It's like the universe is speaking some kind of elastic, flexible language to us.
There's an astrologer up in the Pacific Northwest named Diana Stone who once gave a terrific lecture at the NORWAC Conference in Seattle, in which she made the point that all we have to do is recognize that the divine – call it God – speaks many languages. And we just have to make an arrangement with the divine and say, "I wanna speak Hellenistic," or, "I want to speak evolutionary." Once we've established that relationship with the universe, the universe can speak to us on that wavelength, and we're able to produce results in reading the symbols according to that technology.
And just simple grace and generosity of spirit, I think, dictate that we don't attack somebody for speaking a different language. At the same time, at the practical level, I've always found it sound advice to suggest any of my students: pick a language. It doesn't have to be the language I'm teaching, but pick a language and become fluent in it and stick with it. That's the way you will get the best results and the way you'll help people the most powerfully. Simply choose a path and know that they all work and they all eventually get to the same goal. But pick the one that works for you.