Dodecatropos Spread

  1. Introduction
  2. Northeast Quadrant (temples 1-3)
  3. Northwest Quadrant (temples 4-6)
  4. Southwest Quadrant (temples 7-9)
  5. Southeast Quadrant (temples 10-12)
  6. Sources


This spread, which is similar to one described by Williams (170-1), will be useful to astrologers, who are already familiar with the interpretation of the "houses." "House," however, is an inaccurate translation and creates confusion with the houses of the planets; ancient astrologers called these divisions tropoi (directions), loci (places), or templa (temples). The system of twelve temples was called the Dodecatropos (Twelve-direction) or Dodecatemoria (Twelve-parts).

Twelve cards are laid out, beginning at the left and moving counter-clockwise. They may be arranged in a circle, as in contemporary horoscopes, or in a square tableaux, as in ancient horoscopes:

[round dodecatropos image] [square dodecatropos image]

The temples are in four quadrants NE, NW, SW, SE; note that South is on the top and East on the left (so the cards are laid out E, N, W, S). The Northern hemisphere (temples 1-6) relates to self-understanding, whereas the Southern (7-12) relates to practical affairs. The Western hemisphere (4-9) relates to external circumstances, whereas the Eastern hemisphere (10-12, 1-3) relates to personal autonomy. Further, the first four (1-4) temples represent self-awareness, the second four (5-8) represent personal relationships, and the last four (9-12) represent social relationships. Finally, each temple is related to the one directly opposite (1/7, 2/8, 3/9, 4/10, 5/11, 6/12), and the two should be considered together in making a reading.

Like the crosses of the signs (fixed, mutable, cardinal), the temples are classified as angular, succedent and cadent. The angular temples (1, 4, 7, 10) represent active involvement in life, the succedent temples (2, 5, 8, 11) represent the customary and familiar, and the cadent temples (3, 6, 9, 12) represent the life of the mind.

The following descriptions are brief, since detailed discussions can be found in astrology textbooks. The ancient name of each temple is given in Latin and Greek with English translations. (The names are those given by Ptolemy, Vettius Valens and - with some confusion - by Manilius.) In addition, each description begins with the Latin keyword of Williams (170).

I. Northeast Quadrant

The Northeast Quadrant represents the self and one's assessment of oneself.

1. Horoscope (Horoscopus, Horoskopos) or Ascendant (Ascendens)
Vita: life, character, personality, outward appearance, health.

2. Gate of Hades (Ditis Ianua, Haidou Pule)
Lucrum: possessions and attitudes toward them.

3. Goddess (Dea, Thea)
Fratres: siblings, friends, communication, learning.

II. Northwest Quadrant

The Northwest Quadrant represents our relationships with individual others.

4. Lower Midheaven (Imum Caeli, Hupogeion)
Genitor: parents, home, ancestors.

5. Good Fortune (Bona Fortuna, Agathe Tukhe)
Nati: children, play, pleasure, creativity.

6. Bad Fortune (Mala Fortuna, Kake Tukhe)
Valetudo: fitness to work, career, subordinates.

III. Southwest Quadrant

The Southwest Quadrant represents our actions as responsible adults.

7. Setting (Occasus, Dusis)
Uxor: marriage, significant others, partners.

8. Abodes of Typhon (Sedes Typhonis) or Beginning of Death (Arkhe Thanatou)
Mors: death, birth, lusting after sex or money.

9. God (Deus, Theos)
Pietas: exploration (geographical, intellectual, philosophical, spiritual).

IIII. Southeast Quadrant

The Southeast Quadrant represents our role in the community.

10. Midheaven (Medium Caeli, Mesouranema)
Regnum: honor, respect for others, responsibility.

11. Good Daemon (Bonus Daemon, Agathos Daimon)
Benefacta: friendships, associations, ideals.

12. Bad Daemon (Malus Daemon, Kakos Daimon)
Carcer: misfortunes, hidden enemies, unconscious impulses, seclusion.


Manilius: Astronomica II.864-958, pp. lviii-lx; Ptolemy: Tetrabiblos III.10, p. 272n2; Tester 25-7, 37-8, 47-8; Gleadow 38; Mansall 46-52; Williams 170-1.
Return to Pythagorean Tarot homepage

Send comments about this page
Last updated: Wed Jun 9 18:39:58 EDT 1999