To borrow a line from a certain much-aired credit card commercial ("What's in your wallet?"), I pose the question, "What's in your house?" Or, rather, your houses?
I'm talking about the twelve houses that comprise a person's astrological natal chart. Astrologers, of course, are familiar with the houses and how they resonate with the individual, but the average person, who might know their Sun and maybe their Moon sign, is often unaware of how much of a role the houses play in shaping your life's "blueprint."
That's why, when the opportunity came to put together a book on an intermediate to advanced topic in astrology, I suggested a contemporary look at house-based astrology, simply titled Houses.
Houses are the twelve sections of the chart that resonate with some important aspects of life—love and family, material possessions, friendship, work, spirituality, sex, death, and even karma. All around the wheel of the chart we find pieces of the personality puzzle that, I believe, have as much weight as the planets and their signs.
Through reading and studying—and looking at dozens of charts—the importance of the houses in shaping one's personality became clearly evident to me. I became better able to scan charts and get clues about certain traits and talents right away. A woman writer and bookseller I know turned out to have a number of planets in the Third House. Of course, books, writing, and communications would be her passion. A friend who seems to have the luck of the Irish, a cheerful nature, and a magical way with children has several planets in the Fifth House, including Jupiter. My husband, who both worships and grumbles about his work, has four planets in the Sixth House, the place of work, health, and "mundane tasks." In fact, it's the "mundane tasks" at the workplace he grumbles about the most. But you won't find a person with a stronger work ethic.
I was also fascinated to look at the charts of celebrities and current political leaders. I was writing for a time during the 2004 presidential election, and studying the charts of John Kerry and George W. Bush was illuminating. Saturn in the First House, the house of first impressions, casts Kerry with a serious nature and a certain "discomfort in his skin," an awkwardness that is subtle, but came across through the scrutiny of the television cameras. Remember the time after one of the debates that he loped over to Bush and looked like he was going to tackle him?
By contrast, Bush has more beneficent planets in the First House and a good many folks are taken with his "good ol' boy" swagger. But he has several planets in the Twelfth House, too, so there's a certain mystery and a lot of secrets surrounding his political career, and indeed his life story.
And then there's Bill Clinton, with Jupiter and Venus in the First House. Pow! He has the charisma of a rock star.
That's why I've given the book the subtitle A Contemporary Guide, because I've woven current events and news-worthy people into the pages, in contrast to some of the older books on houses that focus more on historical figures.
The language and sensibility is more in step with the present, too. For quite some time, I'd been frustrated to find antiquated material in older books. Because some of the tomes were printed before mainstream psychology was accepted, as well as the New Age and self-help movements, I also wanted to create something that would draw upon these sources to help elucidate the deeper psychological material in an understandable (and applicable) way.
With Houses, I use humor, metaphor, and symbolic, archetypal analysis in contrast to some of the very literal interpretations of older, more staid astrologers. For example, how many times do people with packed Twelfth Houses have to be warned about secret enemies? The more you worry about hidden foes the more you draw them to you. There are other, more symbolic—and positive—ways to interpret planetary placements in the Twelfth House. The same is true with the placement of Saturn in the Fifth House. It used to be that this was a warning for women that children would be denied or delayed, no questions asked. In my book, I take a softer view that diverges from this thinking.
The bottom line is, you should never look at a chart—especially your own—and feel destined to unhappiness. Yes, I believe we are put here on Earth to learn lessons and awareness, but also to be happy. Understanding the metaphors, symbolism and archetypes in our charts—our own personal mythology—is a way to understand and forgive ourselves, as well as our loved ones and enemies (secret and not-so-secret). When we can get past our hang-ups, we can work toward cultivating higher consciousness, which not only benefits ourselves but humankind and the planet.