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Astrological Houses

This article was written by Stephanie Clement, Ph.D. on May 10, 2002
posted under Astrology

Your astrological chart is divided into twelve sections called houses. They are numbered from the left side counterclockwise around the chart. The chart represents the planets against a background of the signs of the zodiac, and these signs rise in clockwise motion. Thus the First House (number 1) rises first, and so on. Each house includes part of one or more signs. Depending on where you were born, and the time of day, one house may include two or three signs. The farther you were
born from the equator, the more likely this is to happen. There are different ways to calculate the houses, based on time or distance. Some astrologers prefer a system in which all the houses are an even 30 degrees, just like the signs of the zodiac. One method that has been proven to work with timing of events is the Koch System, named after its developer.

Each of the houses represents an area of your life. The planets tell you what energy is involved and the signs indicate how that energy will express. The houses tell you where in your life the effect will be felt. The houses follow a logical order that parallels the signs to some extent. They move from the personality (First House) toward significant others (Seventh House) and from the home (Fourth House) to public life (Tenth House). All areas of experience can be found in one of the houses.

First House
The First House begins at the Ascendant at the left side of the chart. It lies below the horizon line. It is the point that was rising in the east at your birth time and place.

The First House focuses on what you show to the world. This includes the physical body and its appearance. It also includes the personality. Both of these are factors over which you have some degree of control. You can decide how to dress and how to act. You can choose to show the best of the rising sign. The First house also describes general qualities of appearance that you cannot control. Gemini rising indicates a relatively tall person while Taurus indicates a relatively
stocky build, for example.

The Sun shows your individuality. The Ascendant may sound like it does the same, but the focus is on personality. We all know people who have one kind of personality that we can see, but when we get to know them, we find something different beneath the exterior they show to us. It is that way with the Ascendant. It is the mask we show to others. There are eleven other houses that describe how we are in the world from different points of view.

The First House indicates the constitution and vitality of the physical body. Earth signs suggests a solid, grounded constitution while air signs indicate a lighter quality that seems to float. Fire signs indicate a fiery temperament and vitality that comes in flashes, while water signs may indicate a constitution that has a rhythmic quality – an ebb and flow of energy.

When planets are in this house they have the fullest capacity for expression. The planet’s energy seems to come through a wide open door into your life. This is also true of the 4th, 7th and 10th houses. If there is a planet in the First House, its nature is prominent in the personality. If there is no planet here, then you consider the planet that "rules" the sign, and also Mars.
These influences will be less forceful than planets in the house.

The Second House
The Second House indicates how you extend your personality into the world. In children this is the 2½ to 5 year old stage of development, when you move outside the family nucleus and begin to make friends in a larger neighborhood. The immediate surroundings often determine the level of self-esteem. If the surroundings are secure and warm, the self prospers, while a lack of security can cause self-doubt and fear to arise.

Possessions and self-esteem are two important components of the immediate physical and emotional environment. It's interesting that these two things are found in the same house in the chart, as we don't consciously associate them with each other. When you think about it, though, it is true that what you have is often a big part of your self-esteem. Much of what we consume is chosen to make us
feel better about ourselves.

Your feelings in general are part of the second house. Beginning with your basic comfort level and reaching into deeper emotions, this house can tell you a lot about your emotional approach to life. Any planets in this house color the nature of the sign on the cusp (the sign at the beginning of the house).

The second house also has to do with how you actually get money and material things. The sign indicates the method – the kind of effort needed to obtain income. Planets in the second house indicate the people and activities involved. If you don't have any planets here, don't worry. The plant associated with the second house sign(s) will show where the money comes from, based on the house where it is found. For example, if you have Taurus on the second house cusp and Venus in the 6th house, then your money comes from the work environment. If Venus were in the 12th house, by contrast, then your income comes from private activities. If Mars is in the 2nd house, then some energetic activity may be involved in the creating of income.

How you define your personal security is a second house issue. The sign and any planets, by their
nature, indicate what security means for you personally. You may have noticed that the things that make you happy and secure are different from other family members or your friends. Some people need a nurturing environment (Cancer in the second house) while others are footloose and need their freedom (Aquarius on the cusp or Uranus in the house) to feel truly secure.

The Third House
Siblings and the immediate neighborhood are what you experienced in childhood between the ages of 5 and 7 ½. This is the next step out into the world beyond the immediate
environment of the second house. You may have been allowed to go a certain distance from home by yourself when you were this age – across the street to a friend's house, for example.

How you tend to think is determined in early childhood, and thus is represented by the third house. By the age of 7 ½ most of us have clearly defined ego structure – we understand that we are separate and different from other people, and we begin to understand how we are capable of determining the course of our lives. Many lifelong opinions are formed at this early age, based on family and neighborhood environments.

Early education is a third house matter. This is another powerful factor in the shaping of thought processes that last a lifetime. Learning begins before you are born, but those first years of school are critical to the development of reading, mathematical and logical cognitive processes. The early school experience of learning to read, for example, sets the tone for a lifetime of reading.

Communication of all kinds is a third house activity. Planets here show the most direct means of expression. The placement of the house ruler shows another path for communication to take. The sign shows what kind of communication you are most comfortable with – air signs might indicate writing, for example, while earth signs indicate a more concrete medium of expression.

Short trips – trips through your neighborhood, are a third house matter. Remember that you are the one to decide what "short" means. What is in the neighborhood for one person could be across state lines, while another person's neighborhood extends only to the nearest main street. Many people feel that day trips are in the neighborhood, even if they involve short airplane flights. Some people feel their neighborhood includes entire nations or continents.

The Fourth House
Your home base can be understood by looking at the fourth house. Home may always be the place where your mother and father live, or it may be the place where you are hanging your hat today. As with other houses, personal tastes and needs determine the meaning of home. If you grew up in one state, that may always be your home state. Most people want to have certain objects or kinds of things in the home environment that make them comfortable. Hence all Hilton hotels everywhere have the same homey quality because they are staffed by similar people and decorated in similar ways. Generally speaking, the Hilton is not home.

Just as the home is where you develop the foundation of your beliefs, the fourth house is where you look for those basic ethical and moral basics that govern your life. Fire signs on the fourth house may indicate beliefs that are lofty, intuitive conceptions of the world, while earth signs indicate more grounded, practical considerations. Planets in the fourth indicate the parent or other authority figure from whom you acquired your earliest ideals, most often the father.

The sign on the fourth house cusp (Imum Coeli or IC) indicates the deepest well of your being. The spirit that guides you is represented here, and its energy bubbles up from deep in the unconscious to emerge at the Midheaven (cusp of the 10th house). If the Midheaven is what you know (or can learn) about yourself, the IC is the source from which that knowledge springs.

The Fifth House
The fifth house has to do with all forms of creativity – creation, recreation and procreation. All people have a fifth house. Whether you have planets here or not, you are a creative being with all kinds of potential. By examining this house you can learn about how you use your talents to make a lasting impression on the world around you.

Procreation is one way to become immortal. Children carry on our ideals and enrich our lives every day. The act of conception is a creative sexual expression. The act of birthing is a dynamic affirmation of the desire to become a parent. The act of parenting is a lifelong process of working with your children for their highest good, thereby fulfilling your own highest creative potential.

The sign here indicates your general attitude toward children, pets and playmates. are you a playful Gemini, flitting from one game to the next while forming lasting friendships? Do your pets become surrogate children, demanding your love and attention, à la Virgo? Perhaps you take your creativity seriously, producing lasting monuments à la Capricorn.

You may not see yourself as particularly talented and creative. Remember, creativity can take many forms. The teacher who never produces a work of art but who teaches students to read well is performing a creative act. The factory worker who takes an active interest in performing his job can be very creative in finding better ways to get the job done. The parent who protects a child from harm and guides the daily activities is actively participating in the creation of a happy, successful adult. The creativity lies in the way to approach life's activities, and the sign and planets in the fifth house describe that way.

The Sixth House
Service to others and to yourself is seen in the sixth house. This includes the work you perform and the work environment. A fire sign here does not mean you have to be a fireman, but it does indicate that your work environment should encourage intuitive and creative thought. Water signs here indicate that you would enjoy working near bodies of water. Earth signs suggest that you will be happier working at ground level. Air signs suggest some branch of the communication industry, perhaps writing or publishing. Air signs may enjoy the upper floors of buildings.

Work habits are also part of the sixth house picture. Earth signs may indicate a steady approach to work, while fire signs show an intuitive work nature that goes in spurts. Water signs may need a contemplative or at least relaxed environment in which ideas and feelings can flow freely. Air signs like lots of communication among people to stimulate ideas. Each sign tells how you approach your day-to-day work activities. It would be helpful for managers and supervisors to understand the sixth house of each employee and to make modifications in the work environment to suit each individual.

Physical health in general can be defined by looking at the sixth house. The Ascendant and first house describe the physical body and its appearance. The sixth house indicates where physical problems may require adjustment in the form of exercise, diet or medical treatment. The plant that rules the sixth house is a key factor in health considerations, so its nature should be considered carefully. Other planets here can indicate strong or weak parts of the body.

Your attitude toward your employees and other service providers can be seen in the sixth house. While you have one approach to dealing with people, they have multiple responses. Learn about the sign on the sixth house so that you can bring more flexibility into your dealings with employees, and you will find they respond more freely to your requests. You can be aware of individual styles without sacrificing your own priorities because each sign and planet has the capacity to respond to the others in unique ways.

The Seventh House
The seventh house tells you about how you relate to significant others, including marriage and business partners. Because marriage is a kind of business, and because you may sometimes feel married to your business partner, studying the seventh house can give you helpful hints about how you choose both, and how you deal with them afterward. Others are significant in our lives and affect the way we feel about ourselves. You may be surprised that you actually look for the same traits in business and romantic partners!

Enemies – open enemies, that is – are seen in the seventh house. This house is opposite the first house – you and your personality. Open enemies are out there in front of you, making themselves apparent. You may feel you have no actual enemies, but you may be able to relate to the characteristics of people who seem to irritate you for no apparent reason – people who don't seem to have your best interests at heart.

Competitors are not precisely enemies, but they meet the criteria by wanting to be better, do better or sell more than you. Competition is one way we all grow – we see someone with greater skill and we emulate them, not just for the sake of self-improvement, but also to beat them at their own game. The seventh house shows some of the key qualities of your competitor.

Your attitude toward partnership is seen in the seventh house. If you have no plants here, you can still have a marriage or business partnership. It may not be the most important thing in your life, or you may find that the person you marry came to you through the activities of another house – where the ruler of the seventh house is found. If you have the Sun in the seventh, partners may be one of the most important things in your life. Planets here show how you tend to deal with significant others of all kinds. The sign shows qualities you look for in others

The sign on the seventh house often is attractive to you because you project your unconscious desires there. Seventh house people may have both the best and the worst traits you desire in a mate - they are able to speak to your subconscious in ways you are unaware of.

The Eighth House
The eighth house covers sex, death, and other people's resources. Most beginning astrologers question how these areas of life are related, and the explanation offers insight into some of life's most intriguing activities. The lives of others impact our lives on a moment-to-moment basis. Every human interaction engages the mental, emotional, material or spiritual resources of at least one other person. Sexual response and sexual expression form a fundamental area for us to cultivate the spiritual connection with others through the physical connection. Death focuses on the separation from another person who has been significant in our lives, and at the same time may put us directly in touch with that person's resources in the form of inheritance.

The sign in the eighth indicates how you express yourself sexually, and how you respond to your partner. Consider the meaning of the sign on the eighth in the light of intimate behavior and you may be surprised how accurately that sign describes your sexual desires and needs. Knowing this, you can use the information to satisfy your desires more directly, asking for just the thing you want without having to guess what it is yourself.

What you receive from others in the form of inheritance is an eighth house matter, as are banking, insurance and other financial issues. The sign and planets here indicate how you relate to money and financial matters in general. The aspects to the planets in the eighth show what tendencies and skills you have where money are concerned. If you have no planets here, look for the planet associated with the sign on the eighth and check out the aspects it makes to see what other areas of your life most directly influence money matters.

Just as the seventh house relates others to you (first house), the eighth house connects other people's self-esteem to yours (second house). How often the evidence of self worth we see in the behavior of others affects our estimation of ourselves. Your attitude toward birth, death, and self-sacrifice are all part of the way you relate to other people and their values. The eighth house is a rich source of information about areas of life that we tend to examine only when we are forced to by circumstance and other people.

The Ninth House
The ninth house governs areas of life that are larger than any one person’s perspective. Jupiter, the largest of the planets, is associated with the ninth house, so the subjects of philosophy, religion, law and higher consciousness take on the scope of this giant planet. Higher education and personal studies are ninth house matters. Here are found the subjects of college and postgraduate study, as well as lifetime intellectual pursuits. The Ph.D. degree is title the doctorate of philosophy in the subject being studies because the work goes well beyond the art or science of the subject, and delves into its larger, often spiritual meaning.

Higher consciousness is a natural outgrowth of such studies. First we learn the nuts and bolts of the language of the subject, then we learn the theoretical and practical applications of that information. Only after apprenticeship and practice of the art or craft do we reach the philosophical understanding of the material. Then we may be able to connect to a higher consciousness of the subject and gain a more global or transpersonal understanding.

Long-distance travel takes us as far from our ordinary daily living as we can go. It puts us in situations where we must engage the philosophical application of all that we have learned. We enter a different culture or subculture and we become both teacher and student in that new place. We "soak up the culture" and we share of ourselves. Travel is one way to experience different philosophies and belief systems (ninth house concerns).

Legal matters are revealed by the Ninth House. The law is the philosophical framework on which we base social interaction. Laws are a body of agreements for behavior. They have grown out of human experience over millennia. They may require change and adaptation from time to time, but generally they are a reflection of the underlying philosophy of a nation, state, or locality. Many current laws are found in ancient religions texts.

Religious Beliefs may not always have the profound depth that study provides, but these beliefs are grounded in the higher, spiritual awareness of the Ninth House. The sign her indicates what the essential quality of religion must deliver to you, whether it be an intellectual system, emotional support structure, or practical set of rules to live by. Religious mystics are in touch with the heart of their relationship to the Universe.

The Tenth House
Your career is profiled in the Tenth House. The sign and planets here can be used to define one or more broad career paths, and may also provide details about how to choose the focus of career as well. Earth signs indicate careers that deal with material matters. Air signs indicate communication of all kinds. Fire signs may tend toward inspiration and artistic expression, and water signs indicate careers that focus on actual water (like sailing), or metaphorical water (such as careers devoted to change, like psychotherapy and medicine). Most careers include features of all the elements, with a strong focus on one of them, and the sign in the Tenth House is a strong indicator of the basis of your career.

What you know about yourself is indicated by the Tenth House. We have talked about the First House reflecting personality (what you show to the world). The Tenth is what you know or can learn about yourself. The sign here indicates an area where you may be rather touchy, as your ego can become involved here. This is because we use the ego to mediate with the world, and when the world applies pressure, the ego resists to prevent us from being over­whelmed. To the extent that your ego is flexible, you learn about yourself in such encounters, as well as learning about the rest of the world.

Your attitude toward authority and your way of accepting responsibility are Tenth House matters. Once you have learned something about yourself, you apply it in your life. The more you learn about the sign in the Tenth House, the better you may understand how responsibility affects you. Then you can accept the authority of your position more easily. This brings us back to career. When you understand how you work with responsibility and authority, you can be more effective in your career.

The Eleventh House
Groups and group activities are Eleventh House matters. The sign indicates what kind of groups you will be attracted to, and planets here reflect the kinds of people in those groups. Friends are also related to the Eleventh House. Here is where you can learn about the kinds of people who appeal to your deepest being-the people with whom you most want to spend time.

Intellectual pleasure can be thought of as a sort of friend. When you are alone, what do you think and dream about? What subjects interest you? Look to the Eleventh House sign and planets for the answers.

Your attitude toward leadership can be understood by learning about the Eleventh House. Do you take a practical, earth-sign approach to leadership roles? Do you expect leaders to be practical? With a water sign here, do you expect leaders to be understanding, feeling-based individuals, able to read the emotional current of the group? Perhaps you prefer the fiery pas­sionate leader whose charisma carries people into action, or the intellectual, orderly mind whose demands are almost always logical and clear.

Your objectives in life are reflected in the Eleventh House. Just as your personal self-esteem (Second House) follows the First House of your persona, so does your career self-esteem thrive when your goals are achieved (the Eleventh follows the Tenth House of career). This sets up an interesting situation. The signs on these houses are almost always different. Thus, your career may be practical and concrete (earth), but your goals maybe more intel­lectual (air) .The process and the goal are strikingly different.

Finally, circumstances beyond your control are reflected in the Eleventh House. We like to think we are on top of life for the most part, but each of us will have to deal with experiences where there is little or nothing that we can do to affect the out­come. How you relate to these events can be understood through the sign and planets here. If an earth sign, then circumstances place you where you cannot affect the material outcome. With a water sign, you may be unable to change the emotional impact of events. Air signs could indicate that logical decisions are made that you must accept. Fire signs could indicate actu­al fires, or metaphorically inspired events that take you by surprise.

The Twelfth House
Psychic and intuitive processes are the foundation of the Twelfth House. The sign here shows one of the ways in which you engage your intuitive capabilities. Planets indicate the kind of people you invite into your intuitive sphere.

Private matters are in the Twelfth House. The sign shows what you consider to be private and how you manage it. By studying this house, you can learn why other people are secretive about private matters that are of little importance to you, while you choose very differently in this area.

Institutions, such as hospitals, or prisons, are Twelfth-House places. Think of a religious retreat, a convent, or a place where you could spend time alone in contempla­tion. A hospital is a place where you can go for rest and regeneration, but it is away from your normal daily experience, unless your Twelfth-House interests draw you into a medical profession. Prisons offer a con­tained environment away from public life for individuals convicted of crimes.

Secret enemies are a Twelfth- House matter. You may not think you have ene­mies, but most of us know people we do not want to be around, and presumably the feeling can go both ways. The chart of a spy may be filled with the intrigue of secret negotiations, clandestine meetings, and other hidden activities. Most of us will go through life being affected very little by enemies, just as most of us spend rather a small amount of time thinking about harming the people we dislike.

The subconscious level of mind is a sort of secret enemy. We hide matters in the unconscious that we do not want to deal with in our daily lives, and sometimes these unconscious thoughts surface to irri­tate us, just as an enemy's barb could inflict pain. In the chart, which turns in a clockwise motion, the Twelfth House has just risen over the horizon before your birth. Thus the subconscious information about events from the recent or distant past that have a significant effect on your life, whether or not you remember those events. Some astrologers feel that karmic ties can be reflected in the Twelfth House for this reason.

How you "get away" from other people is shown by the sign and planets here. With earth signs you may actually move away. Air signs may cease to communicate, while water signs may freeze up. Fire signs may simply enter an altered state of conscious­ness where they focus on something differ­ent, and are effectively no longer present.

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