Houses in Astrology

An Evolutionary Perspective

Understanding houses is one of the building blocks of chart interpretation in astrology. Yet, many perspectives and debates exist not only about which house system to use, but about ways to interpret houses – find out more about the meaning of Houses in this article.

My perspective is archetypal, indicating that I take into account that there is a theme that unifies the sign, house, and the planet in the astrology chart. For example the 2nd Sign of Taurus, is thematically associated with the 2nd House, and with the natural ruler Venus, and so forth with the rest of the houses – the 12 signs are archetypically associated with the 12 houses. The combination of Sign, House, and Planet form an archetype.

Let us unpack this dynamic more gradually.

What is the Difference between a Sign and a House in a chart?

A planet will be positioned by sign and house in a chart – For example, the Sun may be in Virgo and in the 9th House. While signs and houses are thematically connected, they are used differently in chart interpretation:

PLANET: What part of our consciousness is active > WHO

SIGNS: The way the planet is activated > HOW

HOUSE:  In what area of our life is the planet activated > WHERE

Using the example above, the Sun represent our creative output. If it is in the sign of Virgo (how), we will express our creativity with focus on details, critical thinking, with the aim to improve quality and efficiency. If it is in the 9th House (where), we will seek to express our refined and efficient creative outlets in areas of philosophy and higher thought, in cultural settings and contexts, perhaps internationally, with the aim to enhance and expand our reach.

WHAT IS A SIGN IN ASTROLOGY?

Before getting to houses, let’s begin with better understanding what is a sign: The path of the Sun around the Earth (as we see it from earth) takes a year (365 days) . This path is called The Ecliptic. It is divided into twelve equal parts called the signs – from Aries to Pisces. So signs are basically places that the Sun (and all other planets) travel through.

Signs have the same names as the constellations that the Sun travels through, but they are different from each other. Signs are 30 degrees equal, while constellations have different lengths, (from 20 to 45 degrees length).

This can obviously be confusing because, for example, the sign of Aries is 30 degrees, but the constellation of Aries is only 25 degrees long. The sign of Taurus is also 30 degrees, but the constellation of Taurus is 37 degrees long. In other words, signs and constellations have the same names, they are both on the path of the Sun (the ecliptic), but they are not the same size. Also constellations drift over time (a phenomenon called the Precession of the Equinoxes), whereas signs are always at the same place.

Illustration 1 – sign division into equal 30 degrees places, on the path of the Sun (Ecliptic)

In our zodiac, the first sign of Aries always begins when the Sun crosses the March Equinox point (equal day and night), usually on March 20 (give or take a day). About 30 days later, the Sun moves into the part of the sky called Taurus, and so forth.

Table 1 – Differences and commonalities between signs and constellations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustration 2 – The signs (blue wheel at the center) are equal in size, whereas constellations  of the same name (images on the orange circle) have different sizes. Astrology relies on Signs not Constellations. (Illustration by Brett Joseph and Ana Zaharia)

In our zodiac, the first sign of Aries always begins when the Sun crosses the March Equinox point (equal day and night), usually on March 20 (give or take a day). About 30 days later, the Sun moves into the part of the sky called Taurus, and so forth.

What is a House in Astrology?

HOUSES are EARTHING THE SKY

The signs are in the sky, we can identify them by tracking the Sun and the planets, but houses are an additional important component in the chart that informs us how the sky meets the earth in our personal birth location.

The first house, which in most house systems begins with the ASCENDANT, is the point where the eastern horizon meets the sky. When you are born, in a particular location at a particular time, we identify which sign was on the meeting point between the eastern horizon and the sky. Not only do we identify the sign, but the exact degree of that sign between 0 and 29.

The seventh house is going to be the exact opposite point on the Western horizon where everything sets, and will be the opposite sign/degree of the first house. It is referred to as the DESCENDANT.

The first to seventh house is the horizon which divides the sky in what is above us (visible sky houses 7 to 12) and what is under us (invisible houses from 1 to 6). These are called the upper and lower hemispheres (see illustration below).

The tenth house is where the Meridian where we live meets the path of the Sun, it is also referred to as the M.C  or Midheaven, or Medium Ceoli. The sign and degree on that point will determine in most house systems matters related to the tenth house.

The fourth house is opposite the MC, and is called the I.C, which stands for Imum Coeli.

The fourth to tenth house divide the sky into Eastern and Western hemispheres (see illustration below).

 

 

 

Illustration 3
The four meeting points between the earth and the sky (the four Quadrants)
Defining the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th houses cusps in most house systems.
In this illustration: the 1st House begins at 19 Taurus, and the opposite 7th House begins at 19 Scorpio.
The 10th House begins at 1 Aquarius, and the opposite 4th House is at 1 Leo
These coordinates are determined by the time and place of birth.

These four houses are associated with actual meeting points between earth and sky, and divide the chart wheel into four Quadrants – The meeting points are called the four Angles. These four angles, determining houses 1,4,7,10 represent how we experience the sky from the point of view of our birth location.

The beginning of each house is called a cusp. In illustration 3, the cusp of the 1st House is 19 Taurus, and so on.

Quadrants can be different sizes due to the fact that based on our location in the northern or southern latitudes, and the season of the year, the ecliptic will be viewed differently.

Houses in Astrology – Location matters

Someone born at the same time, but in a different location will have a different Ascendant/first house than ours.

If a baby is born at 4pm in Los Angeles, it will be 7pm in New York for another baby to be born. The two babies born at the same time will have the exact planet placement by sign, but not by house: baby Los Angeles is born before sunset, baby New York is born after sunset. So they each have a different view of the sky at their respective times and place.

Illustration 4
Two babies born at the same time in different locations will have the same planet placements (by sign and degree), but in different houses.

 

 

 

 

 

Since the earth rotates on its own axis within 24 hours, it will take indeed one day for all signs to pass through these 4 angle points.

If for example the Sun is in the sign of Sagittarius, it will be on the Ascendant (1st House) at sunrise, it will be on the MC (10th house) around noon, in the 7th house Descendant before sunset, and on the IC around midnight.

The earth to sky experience is going to be unique based on your place of birth. Hence the role and meaning of houses.

Illustration 5
The Sun (and all planets) moving through the houses during 24 hours.

The times that the Sun and planets will cross these 4 angular points varies according to location and season. For example sunset time (Sun on the Descendant) may be much earlier in winter in Sweden (3pm sunset) than it will be in the summer in Spain (9:30pm sunset). This is why astrologers need the time and place of birth, in addition to the date, in order to cast an astrology chart and calculate the houses.

 

THE INNER HOUSES in Astrology

Once we determine the four natural house angles (1st, 4th, 7th, 10th), we can proceed to calculate the inner houses through different variable. The inner houses are houses 2nd and 3rd/ 5th and 6th/ 8th and 9th/ 11th and 12th  – unlike the four angles, these houses are not actual meeting points between earth and sky, but are artificially determined through calculations

There are different house systems, each offering a method to determine the inner houses.

The first category of house systems is called the Quadrant house systems which have all the same 4 natural intersecting points: ASC/DESC axis + MC/IC to determine the houses angles, but vary in their way to find the inner houses.

PORPHYRY HOUSE SYSTEM simply divides the quadrant into 3 equal parts – the number of degrees from the 1st house to the 4th house is divided into three to find the 2nd and 3rd house. (and so forth with the other sections).

PLACIDUS and KOCH HOUSE SYSTEMS

More complex calculations are used in these house systems, and to find out more about them, you can refer to this link to learn more about them.

SIMPLIFIED HOUSE SYSTEMS – Ecliptic houses

EQUAL HOUSE – Equal House relies on the Ascendant/Descendent horizon degrees as the reference to all the other houses – it divides all houses 30 degrees equal from the Ascendant. (The MC/IC axis  is not taken into account to determine the 10/4 house axis in this case).

WHOLE SIGN – Whole signs aligns houses with signs, so the 0 degree of the Ascendant sign determines the first house, and so on with the remaining houses. Each house will therefore contain a whole sign in it. For example, if the Ascendant is 14 Cancer, 0 Cancer will determine the 1st house cusp.

The Ascendant in Whole Sign will therefore be within the 1st House, but does not determine the start (cusp) of that house.

THE MEANING OF HOUSES

From an evolutionary point of view, astrology works archetypically: the 12 signs are primary forces that represent every life component and are linked to the 12 houses. Each sign is ruled by a planet, we call it the ruler or the lord.

The house will represent themes that the sign symbolizes:

Reiterating our definition of sign and houses:

PLANET: What part of our consciousness is active > WHO

SIGNS: The way the planet is activated > HOW

HOUSE:  In what area of our life is the planet activated > WHERE

1st Sign of Aries, associated with 1st House: Birthing of sense of self, new cycle of evolution, the way we approach life and face life challenges.

Example: Taurus on the 1st House cusp: The person is birthing a new cycle (1st house) about establishing themselves in the material dimension (Taurus). They will focus in this life on sustainability, development of talents and physical resources, including assets and connection to their own body.

Their approach will tend to be more consolidated, slower and more measured. They choose to confront challenges (1st house) only when necessary and when they feel strategically ready (Taurus). The use of their senses (smell, touch, taste, vision, sound) will serve them to make strategic decisions.

  • The ruler of the first house in this example will be Venus (since Taurus opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the first house always remains Mars (since it is linked with the archetype of the 1st sign and house).

2nd Sign of Taurus, associated with the 2nd House: Connection with the material dimension, management of resources, how we evaluate our self-worth, sensual expression.

Example: Leo on the 2nd House cusp: The person will develop their material assets, including making an income (2nd house), through their creativity, entrepreneurial skills, and leadership (Leo). They will be creative with their use of resources, and can invest material gains into creative ventures.

Their self-worth will be determined by their ability to create meaningful projects, to feel they are doing important things that matter to others, and by leaving a legacy. Passion will ignite their sensuality.

  • The ruler of the second house in this example will be The Sun (since Leo opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the second house always remains Venus (since it is linked with the archetype of the 2nd sign and house).

3rd sign of Gemini, associated with the 3rd House: The way we mentally learn about life, what stimulates our learning, including schooling. How we figure things out. The way we communicate, our language skills, including learning new languages. The relationship with our siblings. Our mental openness and tolerance for diversity, cultural differences, and interests in what is in the world.

Example: Capricorn on the 3rd House cusp: The person will seek information (3rd house) that is well organized and delivered with confidence and authority (Capricorn). They will not trust hearsay, but will seek to validate what they learn through practical experience. They learn best (3rd house) from experience rather than theory (Capricorn). They need to apply what they learn, and can become good teachers themselves.

They will tend to be studious and serious (Capricorn) at school (3rd house), but may need time to internalize content. Homework and assignments are critical to their learning process, and they will seek to complete their studies and be validated by a certificate – and think before they speak. They usually need the validation from an authority figure.

They may have a mentor/subordinate relationship with their sibling. Maybe they had to help raise their siblings, or vice versa, an older sibling served as an alternative parent.

  • The ruler of the third house in this example will be Saturn (since Capricorn opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the third house always remains Mercury (since it is linked with the archetype of the 3rd sign and house).

 4th sign of Cancer, associated with the 4th House: Our family home and early life dynamics, what is our safety based on, how we were nurtured and cared for by our parents, especially the mother. How safe we feel to be vulnerable and where we can find a support system. Our biological clock and development, including the last years of our life.

Example: Virgo on the 4th House cusp: The person’s early family dynamics (4th house) may revolve around an organized home, where the mother (4th house) was likely dutiful and practical in her approach (Virgo). The person felt safe when being carefully explained what to do, and what to expect. The need to be in control of situations (Virgo) provided a sense of safety and ability to overcome vulnerabilities (4th house). They may establish a support system through work dynamics.

  • The ruler of the fouth house in this example will be Mercury (since Virgo opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the fourth house always remains The Moon (since it is linked with the archetype of the 4th sign and house).

5th sign of Leo, associated with the 5th House: Our sense of purpose in life, how and what we create, lead, and enhance. Our production mode, our fertility, including ability to have children. Our relationship with our children who carry the torch of life forward.

Example: Aries on the 5th House cusp: The person will tend to want to walk independently in manifesting their purpose. They are courageous, take risks, and may begin several new projects in the course of their lives. They work on their own clock and will need to be very passionate about what they are set to accomplish.

  • The ruler of the fifth house will be Mars (since Aries opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the fifth house always remains The Sun (since it is linked with the archetype of the 5th sign and house).

6th sign of Virgo, associated with the 6th House: Our way to organize our life and make it work, our logistical management. Maintenance and ways to care for our health. Our skills and the services we can offer. The way to find employment, and relationships in our work place.

Example: Pisces on the 6th House cusp: The person will find order and function (6th house) by being more fluid and improvising as they go (Pisces). They are adaptable to a change of plan, and may not function best when rules, schedules, and expectations are too rigid.

They will care for their health (6th house) by being more intuitive, and may wait things out rather than rush to doctors (Pisces).

They may adapt to work environments, but at times, not be assertive enough about their needs and risk over-accommodating. They may be more passive about their search for employment which can have great opportunities show up to their door, or periods of void.

  • The ruler of the sixth house in this example will be Neptune (since Pisces opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the sixth house always remains Mercury (since it is linked with the archetype of the 6th sign and house).

 7th sign of Libra, associated with the 7th House: Our yearning for relationships, the type of person or dynamics that we attract. Where we tend to be weaker and need to rely on others.

Example: Aquarius on the 7th House cusp: The person tends to be attracted to partners (7th house) with unique minds and ideas (Aquarius). They yearn for a more sophisticated, witty, or intellectually sharp interactions (Aquarius) in their relationships (7th house), and can otherwise feel bored if the relationship is not stimulating and even challenging them.

Friends (Aquarius) can become lovers (7th house), and vice versa. That also means that their partners need to be a great friend.

  • The ruler of the seventh house in this example will be Uranus (since Aquarius opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the seventh house always remains Venus (since it is linked with the archetype of the 7th sign and house).

 8th sign of Scorpio, associated with the 8th House: What we feel emotionally drawn to, our deepest sense of lack, where other people can satisfy our needs: emotional, sexual, financial, mental or spiritual. Where we need to trust because we are very vulnerable and risk getting hurt. Where we face our limitations and need to do inner work in order to transform, change, and recharge ourselves.

Example: Gemini on the 8th House cusp: The person can feel emotionally drawn to people or situation that make them think and learn new things. They will tend to want to talk (Gemini) about intimate details, their vulnerabilities or wounds (8th house), in order to better understand them.

Sexually (8th house), the need for conversation, discussion, and mutual understanding (Gemini) can also be important to be able to trust and engaged. They may seek diversity and learning experiences through sexuality; the mind and curiosity (Gemini) stimulate their sexual appetite (8th house).

They may feel at times disempowered by adversities (8th house) in their schooling experience or emotional crises with siblings (Gemini), that will require deeper re-thinking.

  • The ruler of the eighth house in this example will be Mercury (since Gemini opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the eighth house always remains Pluto (since it is linked with the archetype of the 8th sign and house).

 9th sign of Sagittarius, associated with the 9th House: Our yearning to maximize our potential, expand physically/geographically or mentally/spiritually. Higher education, ways to find higher meaning in our life. Our beliefs and points of view that guide our actions.

Example: Cancer on the 9th House cusp: The person will strive to be the most authentic with their lifestyle and needs, they will maximize (9th house) their sense of well-being, safety, and invest in where they live (Cancer). They may possess homes (Cancer) in different countries as well (9th house.

They may not always feel confident at first to engage in higher education (9th house), and this may take some warming up, but once they find a topic that really matches their nature, they will tend to be very devoted to their studies (Cancer). Their sense of safety and comfort with their mentors/teachers will greatly influence how well they do academically.

Their beliefs and points of view (9th house) tend to be very personal, sometimes inherited from home and ancestral tradition (Cancer). They tend to be deeply attached to their beliefs emotionally and can be protective of them.

  • The ruler of the ninth house in this example will be The Moon (since Cancer opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the ninth house always remains Jupiter (since it is linked with the archetype of the 6th sign and house).

10th sign of Capricorn, associated with the 10th House: our goals and ambitions, our ability to climb the hierarchies. Our role models and relationship with authority figures (parents, mentors, government). How we become authorities and role models. How we relate and respond to ethics and morals, how we manage and exert our sense of power.

Example: Scorpio on the 10th House cusp: The person tends to be ambitious with the desire to grow (Scorpio) through career development (10th house), and be silent but very determined with their goals. They will tend to identify vulnerabilities and limitations in societal systems, and can therefore become an instrument of change in their industry. Accordingly, they will not trust authority blindly, and can uncover inadequacies or inconsistencies in how their parents, teachers, or leaders operate.

  • The ruler of the tenth house in this example will be Pluto (since Scorpio opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the tenth house always remains Saturn (since it is linked with the archetype of the 10th sign and house).

11th sign of Aquarius, associated with the 11th House: Our higher mind and ability to elevate consciousness and conduct. Where we can upgrade and raise standards in our lives. Our vision for the future, our ability to mentally innovate. Our social life, relationship with friends, group, and organizations.

Example: Sagittarius on the 11th House cusp: The person will seek to enhance (Sagittarius) societal standards (11th house) and speak up when deficiencies are identified. They will be great believers in progress and especially tolerance of cultural and religious diversity.
They can be immensely creative with their vision, and provide a more scientific/intellectual approach (11th house) to spiritual beliefs (Sagittarius) – the higher mind does not allow them to blindly follow religious doctrines for example.

They will tend to be engaged socially and find friends (11th house) who share their philosophies and spiritual interests (Sagittarius).

  • The ruler of the eleventh house will be Jupiter (since Sagittarius opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the eleventh house always remains Uranus (since it is linked with the archetype of the 11th sign and house).

12th sign of Pisces, associated with the 12th House: Our relationship with the stronger forces of life, the force of fate, where we do not have control. Where we lose ourselves and merge with the collective, with the natural elements, with God – Our relationship with the divine, how we get along with God. How we can tap into collective needs through a work function and reach masses – service for the whole.
Where we learn to return to simplicity and the original intentions, the big picture perspective. Where things are veiled and operate on a subconscious level, including sleep/dream time.

Example: Libra on the 12th House cusp: The person will tend to experience unity with everyone, the divinity (12th house) in their partners (libra), and that may often mean that they see the positive in people, making them initially easily trusting. There is a universal love of people which can make them agreeable, and sometimes naïve (12th house) in relationships (Libra).

They may feel that they do not always have control in their relationships, for better and worse. It can mean that they find their partner (libra) through fated events, completely unplanned circumstances, seemingly led by a higher call (12th house). It can also mean that they tend to be passive and adaptive (12th house) in their relationships (libra). Their approach to the spiritual nature of life (12th house) may be flavored by a mixing of opposites (Libra) – meaning that they may explore opposite views and experiences in spiritual matters, and may swing from one polarity to another.

They may touch the collective (12th house) by providing mediation, consulting, diplomacy services (libra).

  • The ruler of the twelfth house in this example will be Venus (since Libra opens the house).
  • The natural ruler of the twelfth house always remains Neptune (since it is linked with the archetype of the 12th sign and house).

SIGN, HOUSE, PLANET

This approach to house analysis, associating signs with house, is sometimes referred to as the 12-letter alphabet. The important meaning behind it is to understand the archetypal nature of astrology, that the 12 primary archetypes operates through these three forms: Sign, House, Planet.

Some traditional astrologers refute this approach and have different interpretations of houses. This can lead to nuances in the different meanings of houses, but most often the base lines remain similar.

The modern approach to astrology is usually more humanistic or psychological, (greatly influenced by psychoanalyst Carl Jung and humanistic astrologer Dane Rudhyar), and includes evolutionary, and psychological approaches. With this approach, we look at the chart as a spiral of growth rather than a two-dimensional flat wheel. We can grow through our chart and alter our fate. We consider the influence of consciousness on how we lead our lives, our charts.

Learn more about houses

Video on the Meaning of Houses in Astrology

Online Astrology course, covering how to analyze: SIGN, HOUSES, PLANETS

Article: The Astronomy of Houses

What is Evolutionary Astrology

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