One way to put the components of your astrological chart into a real world context is to look at the twelve Houses of the Zodiac. Each sector of the Zodiac deals with a different aspect of our
life. By examining the placement of the Planets and Signs in the various Houses, the image of your 'astrological make up' is further sharpened.
If, for example, your chart finds Uranus, the Planet of Rebellion, in the First House, the House of Self, you may seem a little odd to others because you wear your individuality on the surface.
Technically speaking, to place the Houses within the chart wheel, divide the wheel into twelve equal pie-shaped pieces (see an example of this below).
The first piece of this astrological pie begins at the nine o'clock spot and heads south: That is the First House. The Second House begins at the eight o'clock position … and so on.
The first Sign of the Zodiac, Aries, is the ruler of the First House; Taurus, the second Sign, rules the Second House, and so on around the wheel. Any of the twelve Signs can visit a particular House and add its own characteristics to it, based on time, date and place of birth. It would be correct to infer that the Houses possess similar traits to the Signs which rule them, as well as taking on traits of each Planet that travels through them. However, while the Signs deal with inner traits and qualities
relating to the Self, the Houses speak to the external world and
The First House, at the nine o'clock position, is said to be on the "ascendant", or horizon. One's outward image is largely defined by the planetary placement at the ascendant. For example, if Virgo is on the ascendant in a particular chart, it will add its own
flavor and characteristics to the First House.
Directly across from the First House is the Seventh House, at the three o'clock position. This is referred to as the descendant and addresses how we view our relationships with others. The high noon position, at the beginning of the Tenth House, is also occupied by the medium coeli, or MC. Through the MC, we can glean much about an individual's social status and public persona.
Opposite the MC on the chart wheel is the imum coeli, or IC, located at the six o'clock position, which is also the start of the Fourth House. The IC looks inward and represents childhood, home and family. The ascendant, descendant, MC and IC are also known as the angles of the chart wheel.
Having one's correct birth time available allows for an accurate placement of the Planets in their corresponding Houses when drawing up a chart wheel. This placement adds much texture to the reading — and meaning — of an individual's chart.
The First House
House of Self
The First House is commonly referred to as the House of Self. The cusp of the First House is the home of the Ascendant, the Sign which was rising on the eastern horizon at the precise moment of one's birth. By thinking of this in terms of sunrise and new beginnings, one begins to grasp the concepts of the First House. The new beginnings here are centered around the individual: the self and the attendant voyage of discovery which defines a person. Who are you? What will you become? How do you realize your best self? The First House speaks to the realization of one's ultimate potential. This process of becoming a unique individual is one of the greatest contributions we make to the world in which we live.
The distinct qualities which we possess are often referred to as personality. The First House addresses the individual, his or her comportment and approach to life. In other words, the sum total of one's being. This is the package we give to the world. The packaging itself, or our outer being, is also governed by the First House — think the physical body and the way in which we present ourselves, and in particular, the head and face.
Early childhood is also ruled by the First House. Everything from our earliest steps to our view of the emerging world is
considered here. How will we develop? What is our view on life? It all begins at the beginning (the First House) and serves to shape us for all time.
In sum, the First House speaks to the person we are becoming and will become, both internally and externally. It addresses our personality and presentation to the world, our essential qualities, approach to life, demeanor and basic sensibilities. The inner self and outer body are what the First House is all about.
The First House is ruled by the Sign Aries and the Planet Mars.
The Second House
House of Possessions
The Second House is commonly referred to as the House of Possessions. While this speaks to that which we own, it's not limited simply to tangible things. We own our feelings and emotions, as well as our inner selves, abilities, needs and wants. When we own up to something, we are in fact claiming
ownership of our greatest possession, our self.
Using our possessions, including material goods, to maximum advantage is also within the realm of the Second House. Our possessions should enhance our lives and those of others in addition to fostering a general sense of well-being. This brings forth the concept of value which is key to the Second House. What do we value, both tangibly and intangibly? Why do we value it? Who do we value? What do we really own? What do we want to own? Why? Our effective resolution of these questions is a large part of what the Second House is all about.
Specific possessions covered by the Second House include earned income and our ability to influence it, investments and moveable property (cars, clothing, jewelry and the like). Debt is also part of the equation here, since we own the responsibility to pay our bills. How we view money, the acquisition of wealth (and debt), financial reversals, savings, budgeting and financial status are all ruled by the Second House.
For those of us who believe that money will set us free, it's interesting to note that this maxim finds a home in the Second House. Personal freedoms as established by financial capability and sensibility are addressed within this House. To a great extent, our possessions and what we do with them help to define us as viable human beings. Taking it a step further, will these material goods help us gain social standing, recognition, friendship and love? Used properly, they very well might. Therefore, the goal implicit in one's possessions could be
defined as the ability to use those possessions honestly and to our best advantage and for the greater good. If our possessions work for us and those around us, what more could we ask? Well, one more question does come to mind: what goes around
comes around? Sounds about right!
The Second House is ruled by the Sign Taurus and the Planet
The Third House
House of Communication
The Third House is commonly referred to as the House of Communication. In this House, much of the communication is going on between the individual and those he or she holds close: brothers and sisters, as well as neighbors. While
communication here can be both written and verbal, it also has a conscious quality to it. Think about kindred spirits and mental connections. This serves to highlight the role of intelligence
within the Third House.
Intelligence, as viewed in this realm, is the analytical ability one possesses within his or her environment, specifically a basic grasp of things and a practical sensibility. We use this intelligence to help us work effectively within our world and with those in it. The Third House reminds us that it's okay to use our conscious skills, as well as a more reflective intelligence, in order to make our way. A symbiotic relationship with those we
hold close is also part of the plan. Let's not forget that our minds are powerful, quick and dexterous. Some things will be well- thought out, others nearly automatic. Maximizing our sum potential is the key.
Early education, effectively teaching us how to think and communicate, is also covered by the Third House, as are short trips. Again, the proximate nature of travel speaks to the intimate nature of the Third House: those we know well, in our environment, keeping that environment tight.
Harnessing our intelligence and sharing it effectively with others is the essence of the Third House. How do we best state our case with others, often those we love the most? Will our actions be true to our environment, and our planet, for all time? This brings to the fore emerging forms of intelligence-gathering, such as computers. Will they make or break communication as we know it? The questions posed by the Third House can be answered by listening to that House: think, process, share.
The Third House is ruled by the Sign Gemini and the Planet
The Fourth House
House of Family and Home
The Fourth House is commonly referred to as the House of Home. When we think of home, we think of that place where we put down our roots. We lay our foundation and plant ourselves firmly into the Earth, as it were. One day, we will return to that very same Earth. The Fourth House brings things full circle by also addressing old age, endings and our final resting place.
Much of the emphasis of the Fourth House, however, is on the concept of home. By laying down roots, we make a home for ourselves, or more specifically, the self. It's worth noting that in addition to the external home (all the bricks and mortar around us), we have really brought the essential self home. 'I'm home.' The words themselves have a peaceful ring to them. The self is now centered, grounded, one and at peace with the Earth. We seek to come home both physically and psychically, for ourselves and for those we love. By creating home, we create a meeting place, a sanctuary, a sacred place for ourselves and for others.
In our home, we integrate the self with all that has come before us and helped to shape what we are today. We create a domestic space which comforts and nurtures us and serves to keep safe those we love. Also important here are family history, cultural and societal norms, and ways of being. All of these are ruled by the Fourth House, as are our ancestry, roots and heritage. These qualities are brought 'home' through us and integrated into the place we call home.
Helping to create the home we make are our parents, for it is they who greatly nurture and shape our being. Therefore, the Fourth House can also be thought of as the House of the Mother, the Parent or the Nurturer.
Looking at things from a strictly tangible point of view, we can see that the Fourth House also encompasses physical structures (houses) and real estate. The Fourth House represents family, history and traditions. All of these contribute to the process of becoming a true, actualized and individualized self. This is how we come home.
The Fourth House is ruled by the Sign Cancer and the Moon.
The Fifth House
House of Pleasure
The Fifth House is commonly referred to as the House of Pleasure. Oftentimes, pleasure is the result of a creative act. The simple act of creating is, essentially, giving of oneself and
making something — making another? Yes, the Fifth House does speak to procreation and children, but it also addresses the creation of art and culture. The creative life is one from which we can derive much personal pleasure and self-satisfaction. Do I
like this? Does it make me feel good? Does it bring me pleasure? The answers therein are the domain of the Fifth House.
Taking this pleasure principle a step further, one can give it a more human face, even two faces. Romance and romantic affairs, both emotional pleasures, are within the realm of the
Fifth House. Emotional satisfaction can be gained in many ways, and yet another way addressed by this House is gambling.
While this implies a financial risk, it can also be viewed as the willingness to take a risk — on love, with money or in life. A gut risk in the hopes of a pleasurable outcome is how the Fifth House sees it. This House is actually quite rich with pleasures since it also lords over fun, games and hobbies. Life is more than just being or doing, it also includes finding — finding the pleasure in the acts in which we engage.
Children as a source of pleasure are also important in the Fifth House. This brings us back to creativity, since through our children, we create an extension of ourselves and then watch it grow. Giving our children all the good we had (and have), and then some, is certainly a pleasurable pursuit. How will this manifest itself? What form of pleasure and emotional release is best for our children? Music, dance, theater, art, science, literature — these fancies are for them and for us. Play for the purpose of emotional enrichment and pure pleasure is what the Fifth House is all about.
The Fifth House is ruled by the Sign Leo and the Sun.
The Sixth House
House of Health
The Sixth House is commonly referred to as the House of
Health. Implicit in maintaining good health is the ability to cope in the face of adversity, and this theme rings truest in the Sixth House. As human beings, we naturally have shortcomings. What will we do with them? How will we react in the face of a personal crisis? Crises, illnesses and reversals of fortune are all part of
our Earthly trek. How we confront these situations and deal with the lessons they invariably teach us helps to define the person we become.
Our fears may hold us back, but if we can meet them head-on and come out stronger on the other side, we may learn the valuable lesson of service or what our life's work should be. Work and service are central to the Sixth House. The focus here is on employment (employers and employees), training, those who serve us (along with those we serve) and those who
depend on us. Keeping ourselves strong throughout these efforts is also important here, which is why this House further focuses on health (good and bad), diet, fitness and hygiene.
Essential to the work we do in life is the work we do on our self. Duty, responsibility and personal growth all contribute to the creation of a fully-realized being. We work for others as well as for ourselves; we are at service to those who need us, including our own being. There will be times when crises of health or faith will stand in the way of our best self. At those times, we must endeavor to heal ourselves (again, the focus of this House is on health) so that we can return to the work of realizing our sum potential, of serving our world.
The Sixth House also addresses the daily dailiness of life: what will I wear today? Do I need a haircut? Has the dog been fed? These simple matters keep our engines humming and enable us to do the more important work of our choosing. It's a patchwork quilt: the ability to serve others in health and through work which is both valuable and fulfilling.
The Sixth House is ruled by the Sign Virgo and the Planet
The Seventh House
House of Partnerships
The Seventh House is commonly referred to as the House of Partnership. With this House, we see a shift away from the self toward another — a partner. By cooperating with and relating to another we unite for the purpose of achieving something. Purpose is important to the Seventh House — the act of accomplishing something great or small for the self, the partnership and even society as a whole. In uniting with another, we also become a more valuable member of our world: we make a contribution, one small cog in the wheel of life. We have purpose. Cooperation and partnership help to expedite our purpose in life.
Through a partnership, we fill out our essential being. Suddenly, we see ourselves in context. Through a partnership in which we work, play, love and/or create, we are fully formed and completed. The other half helps to make us whole. Ultimately, how we relate to others will help to define the success we have as a human being and as a member of humankind.
The Seventh House shows us that partnerships can take many forms: marriage, business relationships, contracts, legalities, negotiations and agreements. We will cooperate to a greater or lesser extent in these varied partnerships. The quality of that cooperation, in essence how we relate to the other, is key to the Seventh House. Why do we choose this partnership? Is it for
love or money? Practical reasons? Social considerations? There are many reasons for uniting with another. We may choose to fill voids we see in ourselves. We may simply want the company and companionship of another. The partnerships we form say a great deal about ourselves and also serve to teach us much.
This House wants us to know that the quality of our partnerships will enhance our lives, make them fuller, more special and better for everyone.
Tensions within a partnership also serve to teach us lessons. For this reason, the Seventh House also focuses on the darker side of our unions. Divorce, lawsuits and treaties all fall within this House. At its worst, a partnership may create enemies — and on a more global scale, these rifts can deteriorate into war. It is our reaction to this adversity which will shape the partnerships yet to come.
The Seventh House is ruled by the Sign Libra and the Planet
The Eighth House
House of Sex
The Eighth House is commonly referred to as the House of Sex. This House delves into relationships — interactions with another and how certain aspects of those interactions can take on a more communal nature. It speaks to what our relationships will bring us and how we can get the most out of them.
Returning to this House's emphasis on sex, it's important to note that the French refer to an orgasm as 'le petit mort' or 'the little death.' When we reach that exalted state of communion, we leave a little of ourselves behind — die a small death. One can also choose to view this as growth, a new beginning, the rebirth of the soul or a gain for the partnership. The Eighth House is an equal-opportunity House, placing sex, death and rebirth on the same level playing field and acknowledging the viability and importance of all three. We will all experience death and rebirth as part of our lives: failed relationships leading to new ones, career changes, a new hairstyle. We are regenerated and
reborn with each new phase and should welcome them.
Shared resources also fall within the Eighth House: inheritance, alimony, taxes, insurance, support from another. Financial support as well as spiritual, emotional and physical support are addressed by this House. While our relationships share many of the aforementioned things, they also have their own dynamics and grow from within (we grow through our sexuality as well as through other more tangible means). That said, much as our relationships are expansive, they also have certain constraints, many which are placed on them by society. Again, taxes, alimony and the joint nature of assets come to mind. Yes, with every opportunity we have, we may face a restriction along with it. Once again, death and rebirth.
In keeping with the transforming nature of this House, rituals are highlighted. Every group has its own way of peering in and looking deep into the soul and the past, if only to get a sense of what we truly are. What quality will our rituals take on? Exalted states or metamorphoses? What secrets do we keep and why? How we manage our interactions, relationships and rituals is important to the Eighth House — will we be honest, effective and responsible? Will the riches generated by our relationships benefit the group (company, humankind) as a whole? Our legacies are key to this House: how we conduct ourselves now, and how that will play out for all time.
The Eighth House is ruled by the Sign Scorpio and the Planets
Mars and Pluto.
The Ninth House
House of Philosophy
The Ninth House is commonly referred to as the House of Philosophy. In keeping with that theme, it's our search for meaning which is the focal point here. By virtue of exploring our world, we start to grasp everything that is available to us. It all boils down to understanding: understanding that which we see and feel and probing further in the hopes of realizing true meaning.
Through higher education, we have the hope of understanding concepts and theories which will enhance our world. Whether it's philosophy or psychology, the Ninth House reminds us that we are on a voyage of discovery. Along that road, we will come face- to-face with our ideals and further shape the ethics by which we live. Another approach to clearer meaning and understanding of that which we see, and more importantly, that which we do not see, is through religion. Understanding and accepting that which is greater than us and our world is key to the Ninth House.
Sadly, we might not always be humble in the face of what we have. A concrete understanding of the possibilities in life may well lead to ruthless ambition and greed and an over-expansion of the self. To face these demons most effectively in society, we institute laws. These laws provide for the orderly and positive growth of that society. In much the same way, philosophy and
religion help add focus and purpose to a productive society. How members of a society relate, and knowing and respecting the laws by which they live, are core tenets of the Ninth House.
The way in which we expand our inner and outer lives is also addressed by the Ninth House. Travel and interaction with other peoples and cultures are a means to this end. Our dreams, those which illustrate our past as well as those which speak to future events, also help to mold our being and our relationships. Taking this a step further, psychics as the bearers of relevant information also come into play.
Additionally, the Ninth House addresses publishing and multinational ventures such as import/export businesses. This House also has a multigenerational view, taking into account grandchildren, as well as in-laws. At the end of the day, however, the Ninth House is best described as philosophically inclined in the search for meaning and truth.
The Ninth House is ruled by the Sign Sagittarius and the Planet
The Tenth House
House of Social Status
The Tenth House is commonly referred to as the House of
Social Status. It is about the place we have attained in our social
(or work/career) grouping and in society as a whole. Think status, the authority it conveys, and consequently, the role we take in our community. It also speaks to any promotions we receive, any fame we may have or will come to have and the types of business and social activities in which we partake. With respect to achievement, this House focuses on how we see ourselves and how the community as a whole sees us (and our efforts). Through this House, we work on manifesting ourselves.
Vocation is important in the Tenth House. What role will we choose and how will we best fill it? How much do we want to achieve? Career, professional goals, ambition and motivation all come into play here. In a more practical context, employers and their rules are covered here, as are any other organizations (specifically the government) which have the ability to rule over us. Along with our life's work comes the challenge of ruling over others, although there will generally be someone who lords over us.
The prestige and social status we accrue by virtue of our careers and vocations can be seen, intangibly, in the form of ego gratification. How we manage this is addressed by the Tenth House. It may be most difficult to tire of financial rewards in our consumerist society; surprisingly, ego massage may grow old more quickly.
The question of how we will manage these gifts, and the status that comes along with them, is important to this House. Will we use our power to truly help society, or will we be willful and reckless? Not all of us are cut out for grand scale social success or equipped to help society significantly. It's also worth noting that many of our successes are achieved with the aid of society, not in a vacuum.
The relationship of the individual to a group and to society is also highlighted in the Tenth House. To improve things and to make an impact, we must feel a real kinship to the cause; a fervent resolve to change things is necessary. In this way, we
will achieve that social status which is truly worthwhile. Lastly, in keeping with its focus on rulers, the Tenth House addresses the father, who is generally the more authoritarian parent.
The Tenth House is ruled by the Sign Capricorn and the Planet
The Eleventh House
House of Friendships
The Eleventh House is commonly referred to as the House of Friends. Through our friends, we find strength in numbers — we see the power of the collective, the group. Groups addressed by this House include clubs, organizations, social groups, networking organizations and professional associations. The focus here is on the activities we undertake within these groups, how we make a difference and as a result, how we grow and actualize our true selves. Further, it's the group, by virtue of its collective strength, which helps to define what we as individuals will do.
As we grow, we have more opportunities and possibilities available to us, and the Eleventh House addresses these. Our interactions and efforts are in keeping with our priorities in life; these interactions have the ability to enhance our lives. A labor of love? Yes, in many ways. Through our friends and group activities we add substance and meaning to our lives and to society.
The Eleventh House also speaks to destiny — in simple terms, our hopes and dreams, what we desire and what we want to achieve. Our creative vision is highlighted, the simple act of working toward our maximal selves. The power of collective creation, as well as the creative sparks generated by the group, are also important to this House. By banding together, we can create so much more.
In joining with our friends, we not only accomplish a great deal, but we can also enjoy the fruits of our labor. The Eleventh House also addresses the kind of friend we are: what do we do for others? How do we view our friends? How do they view us? It is our basic character which, to a great extent, defines the friends and groups we choose.
Oftentimes, we work with our friends toward a greater good and in the hope of improving society. This is our philanthropic side coming to the fore, the ability to selflessly and eagerly help others. It is also our humanity manifesting itself most effectively. At times, we may upset the proverbial apple cart, but the sum total of our efforts should be to look at the end result. If that's good, then the process of getting there, for better or for worse, is worthwhile. Lastly, the Eleventh House also governs stepchildren, foster children and adopted children.
The Eleventh House is ruled by the Sign Aquarius and the
Planets Saturn and Uranus.
The Twelfth House
House of Subconscious
The Twelfth House is commonly referred to as the House of the Unconscious. The unconscious state can help engender our successes, as well as assist us in coping with our failures. Success vs. failure: do we consciously confront our lives or subconsciously sweep things under the proverbial rug? This House might more aptly be called the House of Reckoning, since it is in the Twelfth that we review what we have been (and done) and decide where we go from there. Along with these unconscious musings, we also deliberate on strengths and weaknesses which are hidden from public view.
Our subconscious works hard on our behalf, trying to make sense of our lives. This shadow play is slow and long, and often fraught with fear and pain. It is in this context that we are confronted with our sorrows, suffering and the secrets we keep from ourselves and from others. Ultimately, we are also confronted with our fate: karma. Here we meet up with the results of everything we have done. This further puts the focus
on repressed agendas and restraint. What have we wrought with in our lives? This is a key question of the Twelfth House, and we will deal with it both consciously and unconsciously. Will the answers compel us to be transformed or reborn? This is another cornerstone of the Twelfth House — the manner in which we move forward.
We can learn much from the unconscious. In its most noble manifestation, we will be prompted to be charitable. If we learn our lessons, both past and present, we are also better equipped to move forward. The Twelfth House compels us to seek closure in a spiritual way as an aid to positive growth.
The last House of the zodiac also recognizes that we can feel bound in life — stuck and confined. For this reason, this House rules jails, hospitals, institutions, asylums and any space that inhibits freedom. More gloominess in the Twelfth comes in the form of danger, secret enemies and clandestine affairs. Beware!
While some may decry the Twelfth House as the garbage bin of the zodiac, it's really an unfair term. Ultimately, this House is the champion of positive transformations. It is here that we stand on the precipice and determine how we will proceed. By visiting the unconscious and meeting with the past, we begin to glean what the future will bring.
The Twelfth House is ruled by the Sign Pisces and the Planets
Jupiter and Neptune.