Ever wondered what the Astrological Houses are all about?
The Houses in Astrology are one of the most powerful tools we have in our Astrology toolbox. The planet is ‘what’ we are talking about (i.e., the Moon – emotions), the signs and aspects are the ‘how’ (how the planets behave) and the Houses are ‘where’ things happen.
There are twelve Houses in total, and they cover all of life’s topics, from love, to money, to career, friendships and so much more. These Houses used to be called ‘places” in ancient astrology, and they help to place the planets in such a way that we understand how they influence our lives in concrete and practical ways.
How Houses Work & House Systems
Western Astrology developed the concept of Houses a very long time ago, and Eastern Astrology, too, has had Houses for many, many years. It’s said that the Babylonians were amongst the first to use Houses in Astrology, being some of the first well-known Astrologers. The systems we use today are very much based on their findings, with a smattering of input and wisdom from other cultures, depending on the House system you use. More on that a bit later.
In short, Houses happen by dividing the Ecliptic (the path of the Sun) into twelve “places”. The starting point, called the Ascendent or the Rising sign, also known as the First House, is the time of your birth, and from there, the twelve Houses are created.
This is why you sometimes see that each House is different in size in each person’s chart, because it’s dependent on the place you were born and what season it was at the time. Generally, speaking, there are six Houses below the horizon, and six Houses above the horizon, dividing night and day time.
Of course, this is if you’re using the very popular Placidus House system, which is a time-based system developed around the Renaissance. You may have also heard of “Whole Houses”, which is a space-based House system dividing each House into exactly 30 degrees per House. It gets complex, but both House systems are relevant, and there are many more than just one system!
So how do you know which one to work with?
Well, this is the eternal quest of even the most seasoned of Astrologers. It’s something you’ll have to explore for yourself and decide on what’s best for you to use. Different systems can fall under different traditions (i.e., Hellenistic Astrology only uses the Whole House system), and different systems can also be used for different things (i.e., Placidus for Natal, Whole sign for transits, and progressions, Regiomontanus for horary, etc., etc.). It’s your journey!
Angular, Succedent & Cadent Houses
Ever heard of these terms? Probably not, especially if you’re new to Astrology. But this is a great piece of information to know because it can simplify things for you.
Angular Houses are the Houses 1, 4, 7 and 10. These are extremely strong Houses, the Houses where things happen, and any planets placed here have one hundred percent strength to act. These are planets you need to pay attention to!
These four Houses are also known as:
- The Ascendant / Rising sign (ASC) – the first House
- The Descent (DSC) – the seventh House
- The Midheaven (MC) – the tenth House
- The Imum Coeli (IC) – the fourth House
Succedent Houses are the Houses 2, 5, 8 and 11. These Houses have just a little less strength than Angular Houses, and planets here also have some ability to be seen in a big way, but not as much.
Cadent Houses are the Houses 3, 6, 9 and 12. Planets placed here are quite weak and unable to express thermoses fully at all, except over time.
It’s also important to note that the Ascendant is always on the left-hand side of the chart as you look at it, the Midheaven is at the top, Descendent on the right-hand side, opposite to the Ascendant, and IC on the bottom. These four points (the Angular Houses) show the Sun’s movement, from Rising (ASC), to its Zenith (MC), The Sun’s setting (DSC) and Midnight (IC). This creates a cross shape on your birth chart which helps you to see clearly where these four Houses are, anchoring the chart.
Houses One Through Twelve – A Brief Description
So, without unpacking too much, let’s explore what each of the twelve Houses mean, and in further articles, we can explore what each planet means in each House.
The First House – The ASC
This is your Ascendent, or Rising Sign. The place that shows the moment where you take in your first breath; this House is deeply symbolic. This House is associated with your image, sense of self, how people see you, and your life itself. It can also be the House that shows you, how you act and how you look. Because the First House is connected to your body, it’s also sometimes associated with your health, too.
The Second House
The Second House talks about your personal resources, whether that’s your money, your skills, talents, gifts and the things you have, own or hoard. It’s also the House that shows what we truly value, and what’s most important to us. Your self-worth is often shown by this House too, for better or for worse.
The Third House
This is the House linked to communication, learning and the mind. It’s a busy House, often showing lots of traveling - whether for work or play, studying and going to workshops or being a teacher yourself. The Third House is also the House of the siblings and your family aside from father and mother – your cousins, aunts and distant uncles, so to speak. We can also find our neighbors in this house – what they are like and how we get along with them.
The Fourth House – the IC
This Angular House is all about the roots, home and family. Being the IC, this house represents Midnight and as such, is the most private and personal House in the whole system. It’s what we do behind the scenes, where our ancestors lie and what we need and experience in our domestic lives.
The Fifth House
If you know anything about the Fifth House, you’ll know that this is the House that everyone loves! It’s all about having a good time, about play, pleasure, fun and self-expression. This House signifies the children we have, which is not to say our physical offspring always, but also our creative offspring. Here’s where we create from a place of passion. The fifth House is also all about courtship, romance and the honeymoon period. Yum!
The Sixth House
The Sixth House is the House of work, and back in the old days, it was known as the House of “slavery”. We can all relate to that feeling of drudgery and hardship, or stress due to the piling-up of emails, admin and tasks, right? However, the sixth House can also be in service to the collective and healing, since it is also the House of disease and illness. When we accept that we will all have some sort of work to do in life, some illness, this House becomes easier to handle.
The Seventh House – The DSC
This House is opposite the First House, the Ascendant, and rules relationships, marriage and partnerships. It’s the House of the “other” rather than the self–based focus of the First House. Here we will find our partners and the types of people we attract, people who balance us out for better or for worse!
The Eighth House
The Eighth House isn’t the easiest House in Astrology, as it rules the concepts of sex, death and rebirth. It’s the House of intensity crisis, change and transformation, as well as stored trauma. This house has a distinctly psychic flavor and a penchant for the occult. It’s also, on a more mundane, level, the House of joint resources - that is to say the resources of others, such as our partner’s, family’s or the bank’s money, as well as the debt we owe such as taxes and the money we gain such as inheritances.
The Ninth House
The Ninth House is associated with travel, growth and expansion. It also signifies higher learning such as university, as well as published works, teaching and long-distance travel. This is the House of our beliefs and religion, how we are shaped and eventually, what we grow to believe in within ourselves. Here, we can find the types of teachers and spiritual gurus we encounter on our journey to wisdom. This can be a very joyful house, especially if you love astrology!
The Tenth House – the MC
This is the House of vocation and career, simply put. However, back in the day when women didn’t really have careers, this House could show your status in the world, whether you married into a wealthy family or a poor one and what your reputation was like. It’s your public face to the world, opposite to the more private face of the fourth House.
The Eleventh House
This is the House of allies and friendships, of groups, communities and shared ideals for the future. It’s what your heart hopes and yearns for, and can also describe the manner in which you allow yourself to receive. We can manifest great things with this house, as it’s linked to goals and aspirations.
The Twelfth House
The most mysterious of the House, the Twelfth House is all about everything hidden and under the surface of our conscious minds. This House rules secrecy, isolation, retreat, mysticism and escape. It can show our secret addictions, our flaws and our destructive habits. It’s the karma we carry into this life and our potential for greatness.