The 10th House in Ancient Astrology | House of Children?
Someone today mentioned a passage in Valens in which the Midheaven is associated with children. I hadn’t recalled any association of the Midheaven nor 10th House with children, apart from special techniques in which a planet in the 10th confers children. For instance, having a benefic (especially Jupiter) strong in certain enabling houses, including the 10th, free from the harm of malefics, can signify one will have children The 10th house (also known as the 10th place) is strongly associated with matters of profession, career, and social standing/rank, so it seems odd to me for it to also describe a child. However, in my quick review of about a half dozen different ancient authors, I discovered that a few of them do indeed associate the 10th with children. In such cases the 10th is also associated with marriage.
Additionally, the 10th is often associated with mothers and parents. This appears to relate to the fact that the 4th is the house of the father and origins, while the 10th is opposite the 4th (7th from 10th) and thus would signify the partner of the father.
Indeed, in looking into this matter of children, there are a lot of references to 10th house significations of children. Below are some of the conflicting viewpoints that exist in ancient astrology as concerns significations of children from the 5th and 10th places.
Early Hellenistic (1st-3rd centuries)
Manilius (see Astronomicon, Book II, 856-967): He associated the 1st house with children and the 10th with marriage. Manilius is an odd Hellenistic astrologer when it comes to these associations.
Valens (see Anthology, Book II, Ch. 16P; Book IV, Ch. 12; Book IX, Ch. 3P): In his initial list of place significations he associated the 5th with marriage, the 11th with children, and the 10th with actions and occupation. However, in his later list of place significations he gives many significations for each place and many places are associated with children. Furthermore, the 5th is specifically called the place of children in that section. The 4th, 10th, and 11th are also associated with children but secondarily, as the first significations given are rank, occupation, and friends, respectively. In Book IX, for predictive indications involving the lives of children, Valens advises to look at the 5th (step-children from the 11th).
Dorotheus (see Carmen Astrologicum, Book I, Chapter 5, Pingree, 1976): Dorotheus noted “[…] fifth from the ascendant which is called the house of the child […]” (p. 164). I was unable to find any reference to the 10th or 11th concerning children, but like Valens, Dorotheus is a messy text to sort through, and the index isn’t spectacular. The strength and beneficence of the first two triplicity rulers of Jupiter, as well as Jupiter itself, Venus, and the Moon, figure heavily in his special techniques for children.
Late Hellenistic (4th-7th centuries)
Paulus Alexandrinus (see Introductory Matters, Ch. 24, Greenbaum, 2001): Paulus very explicitly noted that the 5th “signifies the reckoning about children” (p. 46). He associated the 10th with actions , but added, “it becomes indicative of marriage and male children” (p. 48). Paulus does have a special technique for children, examining respectively: the 5th, 11th, 10th, 4th, Lot of Children, Jupiter, Jupiter’s triplicity, Venus, and Mercury. However, these places are relevant in so much as showing possible gateways or enabling factors, causing children to be more likely. Therefore, I get the sense in Paulus that only the 5th rules children, in the sense of describing them and events concerning them. Additionally, many houses pertain to whether one will have few, many, or no children.
Firmicus Maternus (see Mathesis, Book II, Ch. 14-19): He associated children with the 5th. Actions and the home were associated with the 10th.
Rhetorius (see Compendium, Ch. 57, Holden, 2009): Rhetorius mentioned “marriage and children and the substance of the parents” (p. 91) in the significations for the 10th place. His significations for the 10th do also include actions, i.e. occupation/calling. Rhetorius discussed Venus and the manner of rule as primary significations of the 5th. He does consider benefics and malefics in the 5th to reflect the condition of one’s children though, especially the “first children”. He gives a special technique for actions that is a fusion and development of Ptolemy and Paulus, with many additional special configurations.
Sahl (see The Introduction, Ch. 3, Dykes, 2008): He does not connect the 10th at all with children but does connect it with mothers. As might be expected, he does include in his significations of the 10th, “every profession [or mastery]” (p. 7). Love and children are the primary significations of the 5th in Sahl.
Abu Ma’shar and al-Qabisi (see I.13 of Dykes, 2010, Introductions to Traditional Astrology compilation): They both largely agreed in their basic house significations (though al-Qabisi gives more). The 5th is primarily about children and desires. The 10th is primarily about actions, authority, and the like. The 10th also pertains to mothers (but not children).
Al Biruni (see The Book of Instruction, #461, Wright, 1934): He associated the 5th primarily with children and pleasure. The 10th is primarily concerned with rule and profession. However, one of the significations for the 10th in a natal chart that is given is “well-behaved children” (p. 60).
We’ve seen that a few Hellenistic authors make some association of the 10th with children. Rhetorius is believed to have drawn from older source material connected with Antiochus of Athens. Therefore, the different associations for the 5th and 10th may reflect earlier meanings assigned to those houses. In the later medieval tradition there is almost no mention of any association of the 10th with children. There is also less disagreement that the 5th is the primary house of children.
This is one of many instances in which we observe that ancient astrology moved from greater diversity to less diversity over time. Contrary to popular belief, astrology became more homogeneous with time, particularly through the Middle Ages. This is a matter I addressed in the earlier post, “Ancient Astrologers Didn’t All Agree“.
My opinion, as a father of two, is that the 5th place has the most pertinence to matters of one’s children. However, I do believe that in special techniques for the delineation of whether someone will have children, certain places have more relevance than others. In that regard I agree with Paulus. The 5th, 11th, 10th, and 4th places are relevant. The 5th associates with love, desire, and children themselves. The 11th is opposite the 5th, and connects with friends and networking. The 4th signifies family, origins, and the father. The 10th signifies mothers as well as social standing.
Therefore, I largely follow the opinion of Paulus in this matter, both in terms of house significations and in terms of his special techniques. The discussion about the 10th and children underscores the importance of special techniques in matters of the delineation of more specific topics. Topics such as whether someone will have children require special techinques. Often we attempt to read very specific things from the general basics of a chart. However, in ancient astrology these problems were the proper domain of special techniques that evaluated many factors relevant to the situation, such as various places and planets, lots, fixed stars, and other such things. Important areas of life should not be delineated from just the relevant house and its ruler.
Abu Ma’shar, The Abbreviation of the Introduction to Astrology, in Dykes 2010.
Al Biruni, The Book of Instructions in the Elements of the Art of Astrology, trans. R. Ramsay Wright (London, England: Astrology Classics, 2006).
Al-Qabisi, Uthman bin ‘Ali, Introduction to the Science of Astrology, in Dykes 2010.
Rhetorius of Egypt, Astrological Compendium, trans. and ed. James H. Holden (Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, Inc., 2009) .
Dykes, Benjamin, trans. and ed., Works of Sahl & Masha’allah (Golden Valley, MN:The Cazimi Press, 2008).
Dykes, Benjamin, trans. and ed., Introductions to Traditional Astrology: Abu Ma’shar & al-Qabisi (Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press, 2010) .
Paulus Alexandrinus, Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus, trans. Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum, ed. Robert Hand (Reston, VA: ARHAT Publications, 2001)
Rhetorius of Egypt, Astrological Compendium, trans. and ed. James H. Holden (Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, Inc., 2009).
Sahl bin Bishr, The Introduction, trans. and ed. Benjamin N. Dykes, in Dykes 2008.
Featured image is in the public domain, cropped from Tacuina sanitatis (XIV century) 4-aspetti di vita quotidiana, canto in chiesa, Taccuino Sani.