Alan Leo did pioneering work in re-introducing astrology into the modern world at the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately in his zeal to simplify astrology, Leo introduced many misunderstandings into the modern astrological lexicon. The most egregious of these errors is the equation of signs and planets with astrological houses. It is nearly impossible to pick up a modern textbook about astrology or to read a current astrology website that does not contain the falsehood that Mars represents 1st house matters. This statement is only true if one has Aries or Scorpio rising or if Mars resides in an individual’s 1st house. Otherwise, Mars does NOT signify first house matters. Since many modern astrologers do not bother to read the history of astrology or its primary texts from the two thousand years prior to Alan Leo, they remain unaware of the misinformation which Leo inserted into astrological tradition.
My guess is that Alan Leo had a copy of Zadkiel’s abridged version of Lilly’s Christian Astrology (1647) in which Lilly discussed consignifcators of the houses. Lilly noted that the signs of the Aries-rising zodiac used in the West since the time of Ptolemy run in order from 1 to 12. He then paired the signs with the houses in numerical order and said that Aries (1st sign) shares an ordinal number with the 1st house, thus Aries is a con-significator of the 1st house. And so on for the rest of the houses.
As for planets con-signifying the 1st house, Lilly never mentioned Mars as having a generic association with 1st house matters. Instead, Lilly noted that the planets also have an ordinal arrangement dating back to the Chaldeans: Saturn is the 1st planet, Jupiter the 2nd, Mars the 3rd, etc. all the way to the Moon which is the 7th planet. Then the pattern repeats. Thus, SATURN, the 1st planet, (and not Mars which is never mentioned) is the con-signifier of the 1st house.
Finally, Lilly incorporates the ancient system of JOYS of the planets, which is most likely based on ancient mythology and the Hellenistic perception of good and bad houses. This is what Lilly actually said:
“The Consignificators for this house are Aries and Saturn; for as this house is the first house, so is Aries the first signe, and Saturn the first of the planets… Mercury doth also joy in this house, because it represents the Head and he the Tongue, Fancy and Memory.” (CA. p.151, bold lettering is mine)
Here is a table which summarizes what traditional Western astrology believed about associations between planets, signs and houses before Alan Leo introduced his misunderstandings into modern astrology a little more than 100 years ago:
|HOUSE||Consignifying SIGN||Consignifying PLANET||Planetary JOY|
This table assumes that we are using the tropical zodiac which starts with Aries rising. It also assumes that we can make a correlation between the order of the houses, signs, and planets (in their Chaldean order). The connection lies in the ordering of signs, houses, and planets. Thus, for example, Gemini as the 3rd sign of Ptolemy’s zodiac shares in the archetypal principle of “third-ness” with the 3rd astrological house and the 3rd visible planet Mars (in the Chaldean ordering of the planets). What they all have in common is that the fall in third place in their respective orderings.
With regard to Mars, note that traditionally the red planet was a consignifier of the 3rd and 10th houses and it rejoiced in the 6th. Traditionally Mars was never a consignifier of the 1st house as Alan Leo and his modern followers falsely claim. Thus, when you see Mars in a chart you are justified in saying that it has some generic significance for 3rd and 10th house matters.
Unfortunately, this error has become ingrained in the minds of modern astrologers.