The Houses

Temples of the Sky

Deborah Houlding


Intermediate* – Advanced


Traditional, Horary, Mundane, Medical, Technical, History

Serious fan get it

You know those astro books that you read and have so many aha! moments you want everyone else to read it too? ASAP! You just know that even if it isn’t their cup of tea/usual astro style, they’ll find it interesting and informative? Then you start daydreaming about gifting it to every astro friend, or starting an astrology book club so you can all sit around Zoom and discuss it for hours….no? Just me? Ok, fine, whatever, but The Houses: Temples of the Sky is that book. For such a slim astrology text (coming in at 168 pages, you can read it in a weekend!) Deborah Houlding sure manages to pack a whole lotta high grade learning between the covers. Best of all, you feel smarter before you even get to the first chapter. Brilliant!

Drama Central

For those of you who are wise enough to avoid the hot mess that is Twitter, you’ll be blissfully unaware of the “One True And Correct House System” cycle. Cliffsnotes – a few times a year someone (usually a student or an astro-twitter newbie) will post an innocent question/comment/complaint about house systems. One of the larger accounts will comment, often linking a ‘and here’s one I prepared earlier’ article or vid on their favoured house system. A fan of a different house system will wordily disagree. Subtweets abound. An amusing meme or two bring the lols. And the comments, aaah so many comments. It’s the only reason I’m there tbh, munching away at my popcorn….Well, if I was a more extroverted human, this is the book suggestion I would drop in the comments whenever the crap hits the Midheaven (whichever damn house it’s in ;)) in the never-ending Great House Debate. 

Between the Covers

This book provides you with more than just a solid historical foundation so you can pick your home team in Twitter battles; Temples of the Sky gives an in-depth synopsis into the meaning of each of the twelve houses and how they have evolved over time, from Manilius to Modern. Part 1 should be required reading for every first year astrology student imo, thus the asterisk up the there when considering what learning level this book suits best. I want you to know there will be no judgement if you peruse Part 2 and decide to pop the book on the shelf for a while so you can delve deeper into the very important things you took up studying astrology for. Like, say, learning if your relationship is doomed because your Sun signs are incompatible (shakes fist at Linda Goodman, still together 20+ years later) and why my your house was always messy if I’m you’re a Virgo rising (that’d be late Leo tyvm Ma, shakes fist at mum’s dodgy calculations using Linda’s books)!

Part Two

It’s juicy, with a thoroughly researched breakdown of the technical basis of the house systems, covering the where, when, who, why and how of the houses. Placidus, Morinus, Campanus, Regiomontanus, Alcabitius, Koch, Equal, Whole Sign and Porphyry house systems are all discussed, without judgement, which is refreshing, and allows the reader to select their preferred house system with confidence. I highly recommend wasting a few hours in the near future looking at your chart in all of the above styles, if you haven’t already. It’s an interesting experiment, and you’ll learn a thing or two, which is pretty much my favourite thing to do, and if you’re into astrology, I’m sure it is up there on your list too. 

But wait, there’s more

The appendices are a trove of excellent astrological information. The glossary of terms is in-depth enough to justify purchase on that alone. There’s an interesting reproduction of Al Biruni’s ‘Advice on Finding the Hour of Birth‘ which is further proof to me that day births have it easy from day dot (don’t fight me until you read it. Then fight me.) But my favourite bit is the brief but thorough look at the planetary hours, including instructions on how to calculate them, which you should totally have at least one go at, dear reader, you’ll feel like a total astro-boss if you do. It was a bit of fun to dust the cobwebs outta my brain and flood it with memories of learning how to do calculations – by hand! – and feeling like Einstein every time my math resistant brain got ‘it’ and could move onto the next bit to stumble over. Aah, the good old days, thank heavens for technology….I love you Solar Fire!

The bibliography is extensive, and if you are an astrology history buff, there’s plenty of highly regarded and meaty works here to tempt you. The general index and house rulership index are ah-MAZ-ing to this horary lovin’ library technician’s eyes, thorough, detailed…if you are familiar with it, you could pretty much answer a horary question using this index alone. Though I suggest checking out the STA link below if you really want to know horary.

Deborah Houlding is an absolute legend in the astrology community, and not just for this book. She is the creator of the Skyscript site, which is an absolute treasure trove of credible astrological articles, interviews and forums, the founder of the School of Traditional Astrology, an award winning astrologer, and, I found out today, an artist, and a bloody good one too! Check out Deborah’s sites below-

Must. Own. The Houses: Temples of the Sky

The Houses: Temples of the Sky is available at the usuals – paperback version from Book Depository and Amazon, digital at Amazon, and tbh, it’s a bargain. This is a Must Own for any astrology library.

I really wish I did at this point. But no, I do not receive money or perks from any endorsements I make on this blog. It’s all for the love of astrology and books. Enjoy!

Happy astro reading!

Foreword by Robert Hand

Introduction: (Wheels and Signs – Theories on House Division)

Preliminary Guide to Divisions of the Celestial Sphere

Part I

1. Introducing the Houses: An Historical Overview

2. The Angles: Significance of Egyptian Solar Philosophy

3. Aspects & Gates: The 2nd/8th House Axis

4. Planetary Joys: 5th/11th House Axis

6. Cadency & Decline: The 6th/12th House Axis

7. House Rulerships in Practice

Part II

8. Technical Basis & the Inherent Difficulties of House Division

9. Ptolemy’s Powerful Places

Appendix A – Glossary of Traditional and Technical Terms

Appendix B – The Planetary Hours

Appendix C – Al Biruni’s Advice on Finding the Hour of Birth

Works Cited

General Index

House Rulership Index


It is all about the houses. Just like the title says…


The Wessex Astrologer

Bournemouth, England

1998; Reprinted 2006

This book review was originally published on the stellarleeastrology blog.