Which House System Is Best?

Hi, Elsa,

I have heard many astrologers say that “I use this particular house system, but they all work.” To me this sounds wishy washy and I am wondering if you could help me understand how they could all possibly work. For example, in one house system one has a stellium in the 12th house and in another it is in the 1st house. If you do the natal chart analysis, transits, progressions etc. you get two totally different stories. How can they possibly both work and make sense?

Learning in Finland

Hi, Learning.  I have heard this as well. It’s no wonder you’re confused. I’ve never said it myself, so I can only guess at why people say this. I’ll offer these points:

  • Some people believe a practitioner will get results, regardless.  The chart speaks, basically. Magic.
    While I agree the charts speaks, the chart will mislead if it is the wrong chart!
  • There are sometimes big differences in a chart from one house system to the next. But often the changes are subtle. Many astrologers will interpret a planet on the cusp of a house to be in the other or active in the other house. Combine that with the fact most of the chart has not moved and the aspects are in tact, you can see how a person could come up with something close, where close is close enough.
  • Last, and personal to you, you must be testing Whole houses to have a stellium move from the 12th to the 1st house. The differences using the other main house systems (Equal, Koch & Placidus) would not produce something so drastically different around the ascendant; such an important point in the chart.

I use Equal (not Whole) Houses. I started with Koch because it was most popular, forty years ago. I switched to Placidus, fifteen years later as it became “trendy”.   Everything, “European” was being elevated at the time.

I switched to Equal Houses about twenty years ago after testing them against Placidus, extensively for six or seven years. I decided to try Equal houses under the influence of astrologer, Jayj Jacobs. He’s deceased now, but I really enjoyed his work. I loved the results he got and I wanted to figure out how he got them.

It took time. I have Libra! I have to weigh things, incessantly. But I eventually I found myself favoring the Equal House chart. I switched to it, exclusively, about twenty years ago.

People say, “Use whatever ever works for you.”  It’s hard to argue that.  But for my money, while the house systems may all work, one of them works best and that’s where I’m going. However, I don’t expect people to follow me…

We’re all online now. Most people get their charts from astro.com which uses Placidus as default. As long as astro.com is on top, Placidus is likely to be on top with it.

Do you remember when “mauve” was the hot color? I’ve been around long enough to see how this works. Everyone has to have the thing in vogue, right up until they don’t.

In practice, I use Equal Houses unless someone asks me not to. This rarely happens because the person hiring me wants my opinion or my results. But I’ll tell you something… nine times out of ten, I can talk to someone for five minutes and tell them why their Equal house chart is a better fit.

This is because of all the years of testing. Years, people. Hours and hours and hours and hours of pouring over not just my own chart, but the charts of many hundreds of clients. People are shocked. I’ve gotten off the phone with countless clients who switched house systems after talking to me. It’s like a veil drops and BAM!

I’m not saying another chart system doesn’t work. I am saying, given a choice, I am going to choose the sleekest machine out there. One that doesn’t break down in extreme latitudes, doesn’t qualify. I have never, ever had a failure using Equal Houses.

I know this is beyond what you asked. But people ask me about this all the time. In the future, I’ll send them here.

What house system do you use and why?

49 thoughts on “Which House System Is Best?”

  1. I’m used to Placidus simply because I haven’t “learned” anything else!
    Must say that seeing my chart in equal house with 3 planets (including Sun) in 11th House feels strange to me – 11th House is something I never think about, I’m not even sure I know what it means.
    It gives a very different idea of “myself”, not a familiar one.
    Looks like I prefer the 10th House Leo label!
    That in itself is maybe a sign of not using the optimal system.
    Incidentally, what’s it like to be an 11th House Leo??? Maybe I’ll start a thresd.

    1. I understand the disorientation. My sister calculated my ascendant when she was ten years old…I was eight. She told me I was an Aquarius rising.

      Decades later, the first computerized charts became available. I went down to the local metaphysical store and got mine. I have a late degree, Capricorn rising. It was upsetting.

      However, I still had Aquarius in the first and the P of F in Aquarius / first. Uranus aspects my ascendant…

      You can see how once you get over the shock, it can begin to make sense.

      1. Yes, I’d like to investigate this, to see how it applies.
        Something new to learn, a Sagittarius thing. Sounds good, if a bit unfamiliar.

  2. I’m one of those people Elsa converted to Equal House. 😀 I got a couple of reports from Elsa, but also started to draw both Placidus and Equal charts when reading for my friends and drawing event charts. And they made so much more sense to me, too.

    Also, as a fellow Finn, I can say Equal Houses has the advantage of not distorting houses near Poles, as Placidus tends to do.

  3. Do you still use the MC and IC for anything? I don’t do charts professionally anymore, but I still look at charts regularly for various things (including my own Natal, Progressed, Solar and Lunar Returns) and I’ve always wondered what to do with the IC and MC. I certainly have found in my life that transits to the MC have coincided with big things having to do with whatever job I was doing at the time, including being fired from a job when Uranus conjuncted the MC and then again, being laid off when Saturn conjuncted the MC. That’s why I still fall back on Placidus. I feel similar to Satsun (post above) who said that she doesn’t completely “recognize” herself in the Equal House chart. On the other hand, I definitely can make a case for both Equal and Placidus, at least when it comes to my own chart. Sometimes I wonder if the astrologers who have given up on houses altogether may have the right idea but for me that would open up another whole can of worms that I wouldn’t be able to deal with, LOL.

    1. Diane Zee: I certainly have found in my life that transits to the MC have coincided with big things having to do with whatever job I was doing at the time, including being fired from a job when Uranus conjuncted the MC and then again, being laid off when Saturn conjuncted the MC.

      That’s why I don’t switch to equal. In most (regular) house systems, my MC is 3Leo21 – in equal house it would be 29Can36, so the whole tenth house is in Leo, and when Saturn went over my MC, well, I definitely did not like that.

      But then I use Porphery since it just divides the thing up into quadrants, and then divides each quadrant by three which is good enough for me.

      [‘I’ve never found non-angle house cusps to be very meaningful.’]

  4. I think the first time I saw my chart (years and years ago), it was in Whole house. That puts my sun in the 6h and Saturn in the 7h. That was kind of a bummer (because I mistakenly assumed 7h Saturn was doom).

    Placidus gives me intercepted 3/9 houses. I don’t know what to make of that. I feel like it adds more complications.

    I use Equal because it keeps it consistent with what I’m learning here. I like to experiment with other systems to see what happens. I don’t understand them all.

  5. I use Placidius. The house cups and timing of outer planets’ transits to them made more sense for me than Equal.

    Equal gives me Sun in the 4th while I have Sun in the 5th with Placidius. Most people who know me well say the 5th placement describes me much better.

    I’m not knocking Equal. It’s just not as much of a “fit”.

  6. I’ve always found Equal describe my transits very well. Perhaps helps that my ascendant is very early at 1-3degs.

    Over the years I’ve noticed big differences/significant events occurring as planets like Saturn, Uranus even Jupiter change signs.

  7. When I first became interested in astrology I used Placidus but years later I switched to Equal and that’s when so many things started to finally make sense. So I say Equal all the way! ?

  8. I switched to equal houses because of this site. Equal puts my Leo Mars at the very end of the 3rd house instead of in the 4th. I used to identify with Mars in the 4th because of occasional conflicts at home. Now I understand that my Mars in the 3rd may have been the root of those conflicts!

    Equal house system also puts my Aquarius MC in the 9th house. I still haven’t completely wrapped my head around that but I think I understand.

  9. Equal since 2009 or 2010 because of Elsa. Placidus is a pain in these latitudes (another Finn here).

    What I still haven’t figured out is whether I should use 10th house cusp or MC for career.

    1. I’ve come to a conclusion that the house MC falls has a significance, too. It could be anything from 8th to 12th house, in Equal House System. The house position is about what you are seeking, and are most likely to find prominance, in your public life. The sign plays role here, too.

      1. Well said, Candela. 🙂
        I tend to forget to look at this, because my MC is in 10th, in both systems. (And, I’m not trying to interpret new charts, except partially, here, since a while now.)

  10. Elsa – just wanted to make a comment on today’s “Something is about to go Rogue” blog post. You noted that the Sun is in Capricorn at anaratic 29 degrees. This last degree in Capricorn usually marks the end of a professional career and the native either retires or transitions into another career direction. Capricorn rules governments. Well, Barack Obama is “retiring” Friday morning and he’s transitioning into another role within the Democratic Party! Gotta love astrology!

  11. Elsa, thank you so much for answering my question. To be honest I have never seen my example in real life. I made it up to make a point. But my sister has 4 planets (including the Sun) in Libra in the 4th house (Placidus), that all move to the 3rd house in Equal. She has 4 kids and has been a housewife all her life. It is all about family with her. This is a little baffling to me, but I am not advanced in astrology so I can’t go beyond this. In my own chart Mercury and the Sun are in the 10th and Venus and Jupiter in the 9th in Placidus. In Equal the Sun and Mercury are in the 9th and Venus and Jupiter in the 8th and this makes sense to me. Most of my life is about 9th house matters. I can’t relate to the 10th house Sun at all. I am going to be using the Equal house system if for no other reason than the fact that intercepted houses are just too crazy.

    1. Learning, 3rd house is about (among other things) immediate neighborhood: the people we encounter in the everyday. When we’re very young, this is our siblings and playmates who live nearby. When we’re grown up, it’s still siblings & friends, and also people and places that we see frequently.
      It”s things like the radio tuned to whatever station, in the kitchen. Keeping up with a family member’s news (pphone calls, text, email). Passing on useful bits of information. Etc. Hth 🙂

  12. max — Thanks for your thoughts about house systems. I definitely have a lot to consider. Most likely I’ll continue to go back and forth between equal and unequal houses.

  13. You wrote this post just in time because I was feeling conflicted yesterday. In my consults with you – I have a Leo stellium falling in the 8th house. In my two recent consults with Diane, it falls in the 7th house (including in all other house systems besides equal). Do you interpret stellium changes as a blend of the two houses? I’m grappling with this.

    1. I read a chart using the Equal house system, only, so I don’t grapple with this. I did look at your chart. Using Equal, the large stellium falls in the 8th. I see Mars on the cusp of the 9th…it’s right there, so I would see it heading there, for sure. Like a person in the 8th, headed for the 9th?

      On the other end, you have planets in the 8th, near the 7th house cusp. I would not read them in the 7th though. The planets are advancing.

      This is strictly my view. Most astrologers (at this point in time) use Placidus. Diane is one of them and she’s part of the majority.

      I understand this is uncomfortable. I never wanted be separated from the majority, but my testing on this is extensive and these are my findings. I have to go with them.

      I posted about this on facebook (where it is also being discussed). I will cut and paste some of that on this thread, below.

      1. From fb –

        “I printed both charts for years…maybe five years. This is how long it too me to decide / tease it out. The day came, when I ditched Placidus.

        I didn’t set out too…who wants to be weird? But ultimately, I found it far superior. The Placidus chart wound up set aside, as I spoke with the clients and matched their stories to their charts.”


        “…I look at the angles of the charts as working together. A transit over the ascendant, makes it clear that ALL Cardinal houses are profoundly affected.

        This is very easy to see and verify. Just watch the transit of any planet into one of the Cardinal houses. It’s impossible to miss the impact.

        See, it’s not so loosey-goosey, in my opinion. I can set my clock by these transits.

        I also think it why people start seeing more in progressed or whatever. If the Natal chart is jacked, it’s not surprise it doesn’t work that well.”

        I am sorry for creating confusion or conflict. If a person wants me to read their chart in a different house system, I certainly will. But if I’m on my own, it’s going to be Equal all the way. It’s impossible for me to ignore my own study into this which really is extensive.

        I wear a lot of scarves. I have a lot of scarves! I’m careful about which one I wear on a particular day. I try on a few, checking the color and the weight and such, until I get the right scarf for the right day at the right time.

        This is something else, I have done for a long time…I have gotten good at it. I leave the house with the right, most attractive scarf, each time I wear one. The result of the care I take, can be seen.

        Now if someone told me to wear the wrong scarf for some reason, I could and would do it because, hey! It’s not the end of the world. It’s good enough! But I would definitily know that my outfit could have been better.

        Again, I apologize. But I just can’t move on this, it’s not a decision I made quickly or lightly. I am a careful person when it comes to this type thing. I don’t like to be wrong!

        That said, Diane is a great astrologer. If not, I would not have her on the site. And she gets results, so that’s what matters.

        1. Thank you so much, Elsa! This helps a lot! And I agree that Diana is an amazing astrologer. It’s why I got two consults because her insight is amazing into the questions I asked! 😉

          1. Good!

            There’s another point to make: often times there are only minor differences in the chart using different house systems. Your situation is unique in that the change is so drastic. 🙂

  14. Hi Elsa, to clarify, the astrodienst site gives the option of equal houses or equal houses (midhaven) for their charts. Which do you use?

    1. I don’t know. Someone asked me this on facebook.

      I use Kepler software, which offers no option. I assume the houses are calculated using the ascendant, but I don’t know. I’ve used this software since the early 1990’s; back when it was a DOS program. I’ve never had a choice, so I don’t know the difference. Sorry!

  15. I use PLacidus because it’s the first at Astro.com and I don’t have enough knowledge to know which one would suit me best. I just checked the difference between that and equal and the biggest difference is that it would make my venus conjunct MC in 9th house not 10th as it was before. Then again, it’s 6 degrees to 10th house cusp so should it be read as 10th house Venus/MC anyway or is that too far away?
    I still struggle with rulership of houses. My 4th house starts at 27 degrees Cancer but is mostly in Leo so I would be inclined to think Sun is the ruler of that house, but no, it starts in Cancer, so Moon it is. 🙂

  16. I remember the first chart reading I ever got – Placidus. There was a lot that really didn’t fit – just wrong. Equal makes it right. For example, Placidus puts Mars in Taurus in my 5th house. Not me. Equal puts it in the 6th. Me.

  17. Thanks Elsa, house systems have bothered me for simply ages. Your post put it all to rest for me. I went right in to astro.com and changed my default to Equal (that is one of the options listed in astro.com when entering on the default to change it).

    Equal “speaks” to me so clearly. My chart and others I study look so very clear now, easy to see and now – I can understand more deeply, your last reading for me – as though “all the lights are back on”, because of moving to Equal House.

  18. I generally use Koch because most astrologers I’ve consulted with use it. But the guy I go to now uses whole signs and traditional astrology, which he teaches – a whole other perspective! I’ve tried whole sign myself but I still feel Koch works better for me – but equal would be mostly all the same for my chart anyway since only the MC and IC change house (into 9th/3rd). I’ll have to try out equal for some other people’s charts though since you find it so much better!

  19. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been confused ever since you told me once my moon was in my 7th house and all I’d ever known was its in my 6th. I’m going to investigate this more!

  20. Hello!

    What do you think of Equal MC house system? I am thinking about the people born above the arctic circle at certain times of the year. David Chrocane uses Equal MC and Equal together. What do you think of this approach?

  21. I’m still a “learner,” but in the main, Equal felt right to me in what began as my experiment of one.

    One reason was Mars. The other was my Sun. The other were my fourth and tenth houses.

    My Mars is at 1 Leo, in my 12th house (under Placidus, too). Whole Signs (I’m a Leo ascendant), moves it into the first. There’s no way that’s accurate. I prefer coming up with and executing great ideas behind the scenes.

    My Sun: under Equal houses, my first house goes from 8 Leo-8 Virgo, meaning my unaspected 3 Virgo sun now falls in my first house. I analyze everything to death. I was an editor for years. I love to help people. All very Virgo. (I may have to rein in my critical tendencies; also Virgo.) The presentation of my Virgo has a decidedly Leoish tinge to it, hee.

    The 4th and 10th houses: though there’s a case for the fact my MC/IC fall at 29 degrees of their respective signs being the reason, Aries ruling my tenth and Libra, my fourth never felt right. (Under Placidus, Taurus and Scorpio are intercepted.) Under Equal, Taurus and Scorpio ruling those houses fit like a glove.

    Even Saturn moving from my 9th to my 8th, however heavy it sits, makes more sense. My Aries MC falling back into my 9th did, too.

  22. The main problem I have with Equal – especially Whole House- is that most people born the same day would get roughly the same results, the same houses and same planets in those houses, regardless of where they live, wouldn’t they? Also, interceptions disappear and I feel like they are important… They add an extra layer of information, easily seen. I have nothing against Equal House, I like it actually, but I feel it is way too simplistic.

    It also takes my 9th Saturn into the 8th, which is something that I just can’t ignore, considering how important Saturn is. I guess it could fit me though. But if it is true, I’d better get prepared for my Saturn Return because it would hurt much more than in the 9th.

    Elsa, how could I know for sure which one is accurate for me? Thank you for your article.

      1. Thank you very much for your quick answer :). I understand. May I just ask, if my Saturn is in the 8th, but conjunct my MC which is in 9th, can I interpret my Saturn placement as being both in the 9th and 8th houses? With the lessons associated to these both houses? Sorry, I have a lot of Pisces/Neptune, I’m really confused about everything most of the time :D.

          1. OK, thanks : ).

            Simplistic? Well, if it’s so I think it’s a good trait. I’m always looking too far into things to the point where I don’t understand anything anymore, so I wish I could see things simply and clearly like you do. It’s why Equal System looks beautiful to me but totally inaccessible at the same time, because I always need to complicate things.

            I guess I’ll look more into this system and try to find clues in various charts about what appears to be missing compared to others systems.

            Anyway thank you so much for taking time to answer so quickly! I really appreciate it.

  23. Avatar
    Pierre Grimbert

    Hello dear astrology lovers.

    After 40 years of practice in astrology, I am still testing the domification systems. The equal house system is very tempting. However it is hard for me to use it simply beacause of my chart and my life.

    Born on July 24, 1955 at 7:53 PM in Quebec (46d50 N 71d14 W with EDT time), this gives a 22 degrees Capricorn Ascendant with a Midheaven at 21 degrees of Scorpio and Saturn at 14d31 of Scorpio.

    If I draw my birth chart using the common (Placidus, Koch, Regiomontanus, etc.), Saturn is dominant in the 9th house according to studies by Michel Gauquelin (7 degrees from midheaven). With the equal house system, the 10th house is in Libra with Neptune conjunct to it and surrounded by the Moon and Neptune.

    However, I studied and worked in econometrics (mathematical models) and learned programming by myself. I am retired and I continue to work in business intelligence.

    This is why I have a hard time imagining how Neptune in Libra in the 10th house could represent my career. As a scientist, I’m not saying it doesn’t work. On the other hand, the traditional meaning of Neptune is not mathematics and programming.

    Thanks for sharing.

    (English is not my native language so excuse if it is not perfect…)

  24. Thank you for this. I’m an intermediate astrologer/student and I really struggle with house systems because my own chart changes so much depending on what’s used.

    I have a moon/mars/Jupiter conjunction in early Virgo (1-6 degrees) and Saturn in late Virgo. With whole sign, this is all 10th house. With equal, it’s all 9th. And with Placidus, it’s 8th/9th.

    I feel like Placidus is probably most accurate for me, but I’m not sold. I definitely feel the 9th house stuff but that might be my sag rising, and I feel the 10th, but I also have Pluto conjunct MC.

    Every time I think about it, I change my mind! This is a Gemini nightmare lol

  25. Placidus but I am still bothered by the interception thing- leaving my pisces/virgo in thin air. It’s just that I can’t really see how my saturn would be anywhere but 1st house or how all my 4th planets would be in 5th, it makes no sense. I rarely leave my house and being alone and comfortable is very important. I don’t feel creative and talented at all but emotional and sort of glueing my folks together, yes. It doesn’t work for me. Wish it would, I mean, it would be awesome to have a 5th sun, mercury and venus but that’s not me.

  26. The very first time that I ever looked at my astrology chart,
    I noticed that my 8th house was Virgo/Leo with a total of 6 planets forming 2 stelliums.
    I stopped studying astrology for a few years because my chart is really dark and it took me awhile to accept that. I’ve been studying astrology for 15 years and I’ve used placidus, equal and whole house systems.

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