The Astrological Alphabet

The Astrological Alphabet is a system developed by Zip Dobyns, who is the author of several astrology books. It was developed as a way for astrology students to understand repeated themes in the chart. The first sign/house and the ruling planet of the zodiac all relate to the letter 1. The 5th house, Leo, and the Sun are all connected to the letter 5. The author states that sign, house, and planet are not the “same” and this is only a method used to understand the twelve basic drives in the personality.

This simple guide, however, has been highly criticized by the traditional branch of astrology. One critic of the Zip Alphabet made the claim that it has caused great harm to astrology. In his view, houses do not equal signs, signs do not equal planets. In Zip’s work – it does state they are not the same. Furthermore, the writer went on to praise the late Charles Carter. Carter’s observations on sign and house are almost identical to Dobyn’s. Here’s one extract by Carter regarding this issue:

I shall deal chiefly with Leo rising and Sun in Leo, but I mention that some of the most Leo people I know have heavy stresses on the 5th house and next to nothing in the sign. It used to be said that sign was character and the house the field in which it is expressed, but frankly this is wrong. It is, in my view, a major mistake. The lady who interviewed me on television recently struck me as one of the most Leo persons imaginable. But her natus showed nothing but Neptune in that sign: however, she had Sun, Venus, Jupiter and Mercury in the 5th, with Mars close to the cusp. You may imagine that Mercury conjunction Jupiter, with Capricorn rising, and with this satellitium in the 5th, made her one of the most self-confident persons imaginable. She insisted on announcing me as “President Emeritus of the Astrological Lodge of the Theosophical Society” although she didn’t know what “Emeritus” means and also asked me what “theosophical” signified. She said the title sounded so fine! If that isn’t Leo, I don’t know what is!

Here is another:

The houses respond in nature to their respective signs. They are not classified according to element at all, but in this respect also there is no reason why the 1st, 5th, and 9th, for example, should not be called ‘fiery’ houses, corresponding as they do to the fiery signs. In a general sense the signs are said to relate to character, the houses to environment. Thus, Taurus (the 2nd sign) gives a love of comfort; the 2nd house, ruling possessions, bestows the means of gratifying it. In actual practice there seems to be little difference between a sign-position and the corresponding house position so far as their relation to character and environment are concerned. Principles of Astrology

In a seminar by Liz Greene, a student questioned the author on her use of sign equaling house in the highly acclaimed Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil. In this case, it was greatly emphasized that the house placement of Saturn has the greatest impact, but that their energies – sign and house  –  are similar in nature.

Astrologer Karen Hamaker notes that we shouldn’t dismiss the houses as only representative of external events, for they seem to have a strong relationship to the individual’s psychological makeup. So while signs and houses are not the same, the houses do have a strong bearing on the personality of the individual overall.

It is one of the pecularities of our Western culture and of accidental way of thinking that we locate everything outside ourselves, and treat events as independent on or ‘occasionally dependent on’ what is going on in psyche…This thinking has found expression in astrology in the dogma that the houses represent circumstances and events and that the only use of the houses is to help us discover what external factors will confront us…Here is where the astrological houses gain new significance. It is no longer the interpretation of circumstances that is important but the understanding of the relationship between these circumstances and the underlying psychological factors…In the astrological concept of house lie both the ‘idea’ as a psychological factor, and the external imposition of form and circumstances, and it should be noted that it is psychic material which gives shape to the physical material, and therefore has priority. The houses are traditionally taken to represent the circumstances and situations which will enter into the life of the individual. Modern psychological opinion has advanced the viewpoint that there is a significant relationship between events outside the individual and his psychological makeup. Now, the houses as indicators of circumstances are also the representitives of areas in the human psyche. Psychological Astrology: A Synthesis of Jungian Psychology and Astrology