THE HOROSCOPE, OR astrological chart, is made up of many elements that must be integrated to create a cohesive blueprint of your soul and your soul’s evolutionary potential in this lifetime.
We’ve looked at the planets and other essential bodies, which are the “what” in your blueprint. We’ve also looked at the signs through the lens of the core self, the Sun, which symbolizes “how” the planets behave in your blueprint.
Now we come to the houses, of which there are 12, running counterclockwise in the horoscope. The horoscope is a combination of the zodiac wheel, which represents the Sun’s yearly rotation along the ecliptic from our perspective, and the wheel of houses, which is based on the Earth’s 24-hour axial rotation. Accurate birth details, date, time, and place are necessary to create a horoscope, which joins the two wheels together.
The 12 houses symbolize areas of life or fields of experience. This is where the “what” (planets and other essential bodies) and “how” (the signs) work in you and your life. The houses follow a path of personal development from birth (the first house) to death (the 12th house). The houses are also like a pulse or breath of the cosmos, like everything else in the horoscope. For example, the first house, ruled by Aries and Mars, is a day house or inhale, the second is a night house or exhale, and so on.
Adding houses into the interpretation of the horoscope is one of the ways we begin to understand the uniqueness of each cosmic blueprint. A person with the Sun in Sagittarius in the second house will have a different life experience than a person with the Sun in Sagittarius in the 10th house, for example. The former will have more of a core emphasis on personal values and self-worth and the latter will have more of a focus on career and their public life.
The horoscope is divided into four quadrants as well as different hemispheres, and each quadrant has three houses, which are described as angular, succedent, and cadent.
The angular houses are those with an angle (ascendant, Medium Coeli, descendant, or Imum Coeli) on the cusp. The angular houses are ruled by the four cardinal signs-Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn-and represent action and the beginning of different stages of life experience. The first is the start of self-development, the fourth is the development of consciousness, the seventh is the development of relationships, and the 10th is the development of your public and group consciousness.
The succedent houses are ruled by the four fixed signs-Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. In these houses, we consolidate that which was begun in the angular houses.
The cadent houses are ruled by the four mutable signs-Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. In these houses, we begin to think of the change to come as we move from one phase of development into the next.
There are at least 50 different house systems, which are a means of dividing the horoscope. Some of the more commonly used systems are those of Porphyry, Placidus, Koch, and Whole Signs. Placidus is the default house system for much of the chart-creation software and became the most popular because there were more tables of houses available when horoscopes were hand drawn.
Astrologers moving toward the Hellenistic revival tend to use Whole Signs, and many evolutionary astrologers use Porphyry-with some having moved to Koch, which is a newer system.
There are many ways to divide space and there’s general agreement in many house systems that the horizon, known as the ascendant, starts the first house, the midheaven (zenith) starts the 10th house, and the houses are a division between the angles. My preferred system is Porphyry, which divides the space between the angles by three, the trinity. I do not, however, recommend a system, and I would encourage you to research for yourself to learn over time what you prefer.
The 1st House: The House of Self
The first house represents birth and early life. It’s the first inhalation of life and a day, action-oriented, angular house. The cusp of the first house represents the sign on the eastern horizon at the moment and place of birth in the horoscope as seen from the perspective of that time and place. The first-house cusp is also known as the rising sign, or ascendant, and represents the dawn of a new life itself as the subject takes their first breath when they are born. The first house is ruled by Mars and Aries in the natural horoscope.
This is the house of the self, your life force, and the sign on the cusp or beginning of the house correlates with the ascendant and your persona. The ascendant and first house are your personal receptionist and represent the self or “I am” presence, and it’s where you first see yourself before you begin to mature and evolve.
Planets contained within this house will be colored by the sign in the first house and will be directly projected to those you meet: This is how others see you at first. Your early childhood experiences and natural abilities are also represented in the first house, as are your actual birth experience and your spontaneous reactions to outer stimuli.
The 2nd House: The House of Resources
The second house is where we exhale and become aware of the physical world, the body, nature, possessions, and money. It’s where we establish our connection to the material world. The second house is the realm of matter that we can touch, see, hear, smell, and taste and is a night energy, as we are more receptive to the senses at night. This house is ruled by Venus and Taurus.
This is the realm of all resources, including your inner resources, self-esteem, self-worth, core values, and relationship to the body and the natural world. This is also the realm of what you value, your relationship to money and possessions in the physical realm.
The second house is self-sufficiency and sensuality, which is modified by the planets in and sign on the cusp of the house. Jupiter in the second house, for example, often represents a person with high self-worth and a great ability to make money and they are also likely to love exploring nature.
The 3th House: The House of Communication
The third house is where we move into our conscious mind and begin to learn about the world around us. This is a day, inhale, and cadent house, because in this house we hone our perception and observation skills and gather information. We find our voice in this house, learn to write, and develop our communication styles. This house also represents our early education, learning style, and what kind of school student you are or were, as well as your siblings and neighbors. The third house is where we develop awareness of other points of view and the greater world around us.
This is also the realm of transportation and short journeys, emails, gossip, phone calls, and text messaging, and it is ruled by Mercury and Gemini.
Saturn in the third house, for example, could indicate a diligent student but a person of few words.
The 4th House: The House of the Home
In the fourth house, we exhale again and enter the realm of the night and an angular house as we go within to both our home, as in where we live, and our inner home, the most private part of our inner life. This area of life represents the foundations of our security, both emotionally and materially. Your upbringing is reflected in this house, along with one or both of your parents and ancestral influences and patterns. In developmental terms, it’s where we become aware of our inner emotional landscape and how we respond emotionally to the world around us.
This house is associated with the Moon and the sign of Cancer. One area of life that is often not mentioned is self-care and self-love. How you were nurtured and how you learn to nurture yourself and fulfill your emotional needs are reflected here, including the type of home you create or prefer.
Someone with Pluto in the fourth house, for example, may have had a difficult childhood with power struggles of some kind within the home and may be driven to transform that in their own life, breaking ancestral patterns.
The 5th House: The House of Self-Expression
The fifth house is a fire house, is associated with the Sun and Leo, and is an inhalation of breath, a day energy, and a succedent house. This is where we develop our creative self-expression and joy in life.
I always think of the fifth house in the soul’s development as the teenager, the adolescent, and the place where we begin to shine our light in the world, where we develop our self-consciousness. This is the realm of children, fun, and joie de vivre (French for “joy of life”). It’s where we take up hobbies and sports, where we learn to play, and it’s the first of the relationship houses because it’s where we find love affairs. Your performing ability and your life stage are reflected in the fifth house.
An emphasis in this house would normally indicate someone drawn to the creative arts and someone who approaches the world in a joyful way.
The 6th House: The House of Service and Health
The sixth house is associated with Virgo, an earth sign, and is ruled by Mercury. This is a night energy and is an exhale and a cadent house. The sixth house is where we find the need to be useful in the world, to be of service in our daily routines and work. Your day-to-day work experience, nature of work, and style of daily living are represented by this house. Health is also associated with the sixth house, as are your pets.
In developmental terms, the sixth house is where we begin to figure out how we can make a contribution to the world and to others. It’s where we begin to change from the inner landscape of personal development and grow into the outer world of adulthood.
The night or exhale energy of the sixth house is a response to the world around us and a desire to create some order in the world. As such, cleansing and hygiene are connected, and your response to all outer stimuli is reflected here.
The 7th House: The House of Relationship and Marriage
In the seventh house, our soul takes a big inhale and really enters the realm of the outer or adult world. This house is ruled by Libra and Venus, in her more outward, day incarnation, and is a day and an angular house. This house correlates with the descendant, the point opposite the ascendant, which reflects what you are attracted to and what you attract in others.
The seventh house is associated with all significant interpersonal relationships, including the main partner or partners in life. This house also includes adult children, significant business or work relationships, and significant friendships. The nature of and the patterns in your relationships are reflected in this house. Another area associated with this house is what Jung called the “disowned self,” which is a part of the self that we don’t like and that we see in others. This can often be seen as something in others that triggers a strong emotional reaction of dislike.
As the second of the relationship houses, the seventh house represents where we join in partnership by either living with or marrying a person. The eighth house builds on this in long-term relationships.
The 8th House: The House of Intimacy and Death
The eighth house is another exhale and a night house, where we are plunged into all things associated with the dark, and is associated with Pluto and Scorpio. This house is a succedent house and is the realm of deeply bonded relationships, the long-term partnership that is connected emotionally, psychologically, and sexually. It’s the energy of merging of life, resources, and spiritual bodies. This is the third relationship house and where the true intimacy of relationship exists in long-term relationships.
This is also the realm of both physical and psychological death and psychological transformation and regeneration. Inheritances and other, often taboo, subjects are associated with this area of the horoscope, such as the realms of magic and the occult. This is the realm of deep therapy or soul exploration and your relationship to all shared power and karmic material. Power and powerlessness are the realm of the eighth house, and manipulative and/or abusive power dynamics can show up in this house. This includes your own shadow psychological realms, the parts of you that you may prefer not to look at too closely-though this is also the realm of your inner gold, or buried treasure, so fearless exploration of your eighth house can bring great rewards.
The 9th House: The House of the Higher Self
The ninth house is another inhale and a day energy, which takes us out into the realms of expansion and exploration of the world and higher learning. This is a cadent house and is ruled by Jupiter and Sagittarius. The ninth house is the area associated with all forms of higher study (formal and informal), philosophy, and personal beliefs. How you experience whatever the divine is for you will be reflected here and, therefore, religion is also associated with this house. This house can be the place of dogma, but generally it is about expanding the mind and consciousness.
Developmentally, the ninth house takes us on a vision quest to seek the meaning of life. In the ninth house we seek truth, freedom, wisdom, and knowledge of natural law, as well as how the world and nature work. The energy of exploration also means that travel is represented in this house, including long journeys of the mind.
The 10th House: The Public Self
The 10th house is the most public part of your chart and yet is an exhale and earth, night energy, where we reflect on how we are seen in the world. This is an angular house and is ruled by Saturn and Capricorn. The 10th house is the nature of our contribution or mission in life, often said to be our career, and hopefully these will be in alignment. Since this is where you are most visible in the world, this house is also associated with your public reputation or status. This is the realm of the wise elder and where we create man-made laws-as opposed to the natural laws explored in the ninth house. It’s a place of gravitas, where we build financial and physical security. Duty and responsibility for others are also represented here, as is integrity.
Like the fourth house, this house is also associated with one of the parents-usually the parent who is more out in the world than the other, or who represented authority and your relationship to authority and established society, such as the institutions that govern our world.
The 11th House: The House of Community
The 11th house is an inhale of breath, a day, succedent house that takes us out into the community in all its forms and is associated with Uranus and Aquarius. This is the realm of groups of friends, organizations, and associations. The 11th house is also associated with social causes, social consciousness, and politics. A strong emphasis here means the person is likely to be a humanitarian and have an interest in ecology.
Another association for this house is the Internet, due to the community aspect of the house, particularly social media. Latent or undiscovered abilities can also be found here, and the house is associated with the future, big goals, new ideas, and discoveries.
Developmentally, we move from creating solid ambition, rules, and foundations in the world in the 10th house and now move into the realm of making social connections. In this house, we learn to detach from the rules imposed by the authority of the 10th house, to go our own way, and to explore our own realm of genius to create our future.
The 12th House: The House of the Unconscious
In the 12th house, a cadent house, we exhale for the last time on this journey as we enter the night energy of the unconscious. This is the realm of all things mysterious and mystical and is associated with Neptune and Pisces.
This house is the time before birth and the time before death, the amniotic fluid before the first inhale in the first house, the prenatal experience, and the time of fading before the very last exhale. All forms of altered states are represented here, including chemically induced states and meditative states. Creative and intuitive, this house connects us to transpersonal knowledge and understanding. This house is a liminal space, the space between worlds, and is associated with all transitional spaces and activities such as trance, hypnotism, and mysteries.
Seclusion and secluded places are also associated with this house, such as prisons, monasteries, retreat centers, and hospitals. This is a place of dreaming, strong empathy, and the mysterious unknown.
Now that you have the building blocks of an astrology chart, it’s time to review and begin to integrate a cohesive story of the self. In the next chapter, we’ll look at how each element is involved in the structuring of the birth chart.