Houses: Everything In Its Place

Since I went over the birth chart last week, I thought I would take a bit of a deeper dive into the astrological houses.  The houses help us take the wheel and make sense of the map by dividing it into sections.  By figuring out which areas of the chart have the most energy we can see how one’s life will develop and which themes will stand out.

1). There are 12 houses and there are 12 signs.  Depending on their different combinations, everyone gets a unique flavor. A Libra first house person will be a lot more flirtatious on first impression than a Capricorn first house person for example.

2). Each house is responsible for a different area of your life.  

  • First House:  Self image, Health, Life, Stature, Physical Appearance
  • Second House:  Self-Value, Money Earned, Possessions
  • Third House:  Communication, Early Education, Writing, Siblings, Neighbors, Short Distance Travel
  • Fourth House:  Your Roots, Family, Matriarchy/Most Nurturing Parent, Home, History 
  • Fifth House:  Hobbies, Children, Sex, Creativity, Gaming, Recreation, Performance
  • Sixth House:  Work Place, Daily Habits, Health, Pets, People Who Work For You
  • Seventh House:  Marriage, Legal Commitments, Business Partners, Open Enemies
  • Eighth House:  Shared Resources, Taxes, Death, Inheritance, Merger, Investments
  • Ninth House:  Higher Education, Religion/Faith, International Travel, Beliefs About People Different from You, Philosophy, Astrology, the Law (lawyers)
  • Tenth House:  The Way You Present Yourself in the World, Your Vocation, Your Employer, Honor, Prestige, Advancement, Responsibility, Reputation, Those Who Enforce the Law (judges), Your Father/More Authoritative Parent
  • Eleventh House:  “The House of Good Fortune”, Friends, Groups, Benefactors, Those Who Help Us Behind the Scenes, Hopes
  • Twelfth House:  Hidden Issues, Secrets, Prisons, Enemies Not Seen, Sorrow, Hospitals, Monasteries, Self-Care, Retreat 

3). Everyone has different signs ruling their houses.  The first house doesn’t always have to start with Aries.  Your first house could be occupied by any of the zodiac signs depending on what time you were born.  From there it will flow in traditional zodiacal order.  For example, A person with Gemini rising, and his second house will be Cancer, third house will be Leo, and so forth. 

4). Astrologers are extremely interested in the ruling planet of that particular house.  How happy that planet is and what aspects it’s making with other planets tells us a lot about that area of your life.  Its kind of like the difference of being at home with your shoes off vs. being the guest of honor at a party vs. just hanging out in a relatives house or being at a party you don’t want to attend.  Each of those scenarios have totally different comfort levels.  

5). There are 10 planets and 12 houses.   Everyone will have empty houses, and it’s ok!  The planets in the houses tell us your motivations, expressions, and lessons to be learned, but the houses tell us where you are likely to play out and learn those lessons.  When the planets get activated, you will have at least two areas of your life light up.

6). There are different house systems, and every astrologer has their favorite one to use. It’s just a way of diving up the sky into parts.  Whole Sign is the oldest system and it is a favorite of Hellenistic and Medieval Astrologers.  It’s also the one I prefer.   Placidus is a very common house system in modern astrology and it is usually the one defaulted to on most websites. It emphasizes the quadrants visually and so you can end up with some very large or very tiny sized houses.  Some house systems preserve each house having 30 degrees per house, others will take latitude into consideration and thus the sections will have varying sizes. Regardless, what matters the most is the sign on the cusp of each house.

7). A cusp is a line that divides the 12 houses.  It is the sign on the cusp (aka beginning that house) that rules that section and what matters the most in interpretation. Houses 1-6 are on the bottom of the chart; Houses 7-12 are on the top of the chart.  You follow the houses counterclockwise. Let’s start at the first house.The first house is where your Ascendant is located (As) on the Eastern horizon, right around where 9:00 is on the clock.  

See the example below:  We can see that the first house starts at Sagittarius at 9:00 (the symbol with the red arrow with the line through it).  The Black Arrow is pointing to the exact degree of the Ascendant angle of 12 degrees in Sagittarius.  From there we know that Capricorn (strange VS glyph) is on the 2nd Cusp (occupies the 2nd house); Aquarius (water squiggles) is on the 3rd cusp (occupies the 3rd house); etc.

8). What if there is a topic that is not listed on that list that I have a question about?  Oh, my dear, there are derived houses.  For example, what if you want to know about step-children?  I would direct you to look at your House of Partnership (7th) and count 5 counterclockwise.  Why 5?  Because the 5th house is what rules children – thus you will see your step-children in the 11th house.   What about your Mom’s money?  Mom is in the 4th house, but it is her resources (8th house domain).   So you would start in the 4th house and count 8 houses away thus it would be found in the 11th.  What about your grandchildren?  Go 5 houses from the 5th house = 9th house.  

9. I would argue that the most sensitive point of your whole chart is your Ascendant. It is determined from the time of your birth and it sets up the whole order of the rest of your chart. Since the Ascendant sign shifts roughly every two hours it can make a difference of having someone with a 4th house Sun who likes to be at home vs. a 5th house Sun who places high value on self-expression and being creative.

10. There are houses that are naturally more helpful and those that are more difficult in nature. By their nature, the 12th and the 6th house are houses that bring difficulty. Health and secrets are not topics you really want to mess with generally. That being said, the Sun finds great joy being in the 9th house, Venus loves being in the 5th house, and Jupiter is friends with the 11th house. Even the harder planets, like Mars and Saturn, have their places of joy. Mars actually does well in the 6th house with his nose to the grindstone and Saturn’s likes the isolation of the 12th.

The art of astrology comes in the form of blending the geometry of the aspects between the planets, the common themes of the houses, the timing of the transits, and the natural expressions of the signs. From there, you get a 360 degree view of a whole person.

For more information:

Houlding, Deborah. (2006). The houses: temples of the sky. Bournesmouth, England. Ascella Publications.

Kent, April Elliott (2011). The essential guide to practical astrology. [Kindle Version]

Hand, Robert (2000). Whole sign houses the oldest house system: an ancient method in modern application. Las Vegas, Nevada. ARHAT Publications.

Brennan, Chris (2018). Hellenistic astrology: the study of fate and fortune. Denver, Colorado. Amor Fati Publications.

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