When you look at a horoscope, you'll notice that it's sliced into 12 sections. Each segment is called a house. Each house represents an area of life that corresponds to specific activities. Think of it this way: the houses are to a horoscope as the rooms are to your home - each has a role and is related to specific activities. Your kitchen is for cooking, and your bedroom is for sleeping. Similarly, the first house is for self, while the fourth house is for home.
The Twelve Houses of the Zodiac
The houses are the specific places where the signs and planets are located and define where each will have influence in your life. The houses are determined by your time of birth and location. The first house is always at the 9 o'clock position on the face of a clock. The rest of the houses line up in a counter-clockwise direction on the horoscope wheel. Each house is associated with a set of traits, things, and people, beginning with the self. They expand outward into family, society, and beyond.
The First House: Self
It's this house that marks the moment of your birth and where you merged with the world. The first house cusp (the cusp of a house is the point where it begins) is the very important Ascendant or rising sign, the first of the four major angles of the horoscope. It's an Angular (action) house. Its ruling planet is Mars, and its ruling sign is Aries. It's the first of six personal houses.
Open the door to the first house, and you'll find:
- Body type
- Childhood experiences
- Leadership qualities
- Personal view for the world
- The way something new is begun
- The impression you make on others at first meeting
- Defense mechanisms
- Persona and self-image
The Second House: Possessions
Open the door to the second house, and you'll find:
- How you earn money
- What you have to give in bed
- Your attitude toward food
- Questions of self-worth
- Your values (both good and bad)
- Your personal form of generosity (or greed)
Third House: Communication
Open the door to the third house, and you'll find:
- Childhood experiences
- Early education and childhood environment
- Brothers, sisters, near relatives
- Your neighborhood and neighborhood friends
- Your ability to learn
- The way you mind works
- How you communicate
- Short trips
- Cars, buses, trains
- Writing, reading, talking and teaching
- Magazines and newspapers, as well as other means of communication
The Fourth House: Home
The fourth house is your foundation and anchor in life. It's at the very bottom of the horoscope, and the cusp of the fourth house is the critical Nadir, one of the four important angles of the horoscope. An Angular house, its ruling planet is the Moon, and its ruling sign is Cancer.
Open the door to the fourth house, and you'll find:
- Family and ancestry
- Attitudes toward family
- The ability to nurture people emotionally (or not)
- Opinion of yourself
- Domestic life
- Personal sub-conscious
- Real estate, land, agriculture, and gardening
- The Father or Mother (nurturing parent)
- Early home life and memories
- Cultural heritage
The Fifth House: Creativity and Pleasure
The fifth house is your playground. Its ruling planet is the Sun, and its ruling sign is Leo. It is the second Succedent house.
Open the door to the fifth house, and you'll find:
- Love affairs
- The ability to give and receive love
- The perception of the love you received as a child
- The ability to be romantic (or not)
- How you have fun
- Drama, theaters, show biz, and art
- Your ability to be creative and all forms of creative self-expression
- Risk taking, gambling, games, and sports
Sixth House: Health and Service
The sixth house is the house of your mundane life. It's a Cadent House and the last of the Personal houses. Its ruling planet is Mercury, and its ruling sign is Virgo.
Open the door to the sixth house, and you'll find:
- Your work and duty
- Food and diets
- Attitudes toward cleanliness and order
- How work is approached
- Community needs
- Daily routines
- The way problems are solved and decisions made
- Your neurosis
The Seventh House: Partnerships
The seventh house is the house of significant others. Its cusp is the Descendant, the third important angle. It's an Angular house and the first Interpersonal house. Its ruling planet is Venus, and its ruling sign is Libra.
Open the door to the seventh house, and you'll find:
- What you look for in a significant other
- Live-in or steady relationships
- Best friend and peers
- Business partnerships
- Open enemies
- Worthy opponents
- Social urges
- Legal Affairs
Eight House: Sexuality, Death, and Rebirth
The eighth house is the house of death and rebirth. It is the third Succedent house. Its ruling planet is Pluto, and its ruling sign is Scorpio.
Open the door to the eighth house, and you'll find:
- Sexual intimacy
- Occult, Psychic and taboo matters
- How you respond to crisis
- Emotional truth
- Hidden talents
- Psychic power
- Your partner's money
- Jointly held accounts
- Legacies and wills
- The ability to be alone (or not)
- How you give others pleasure
- What you value in others
The Ninth House: Philosophy and Travel
The ninth house is the "higher mind." It is a Cadent House. Its ruling planet is Jupiter, and its ruling sign is Sagittarius
Open the door of the ninth house, and you'll see:
- Law and ethics
- Religious attitude
- Religious experience
- Belief systems
- Long distance travels and journeys
- Your ability to see right from wrong (or not)
Tenth House: Career
The tenth house, called the house of profession is at the very top of the horoscope and represents how you are seen by the greater world. Its cusp is the Midheaven, the last of the four important angles. It's the final Angular house. Its ruling Planet is Saturn, and its ruling sign is Capricorn.
Open the door to your tenth house, and you will find:
- Status in society
- Public appearance
- Sense of responsibility
- Honor, rank, and credit (or lack of)
- Father or father figure (family protector)
- People with authority
- How authority is handled
- Honors achieved
Eleventh House: Friendship
The 11th house is the house of friends, hopes and wishes, goals, and ideals. It is the last Succedent house. Its ruling planet is Uranus, and its ruling sign is Aquarius.
Open the door to your tenth house, and you'll find:
- People with similar concerns
- Income from career
- Peer group pressure
- The advice you get (for good or bad)
- The social circle you move in
- Your wildest dreams
- How you make the world a better place (or don't)
- Your philanthropy
- Groups and how you relate to them
- Social clubs
- Other people's children.
Twelfth House: What is Covered Up and Hidden
The twelfth house is the house of mysticism and mastery, of dreams, imagination and where you connect with the greater "All." It's also referred to as the house of self-undoing. It's the final Candent house and the last house of the zodiac. Its ruling planet is Neptune, and its ruling sign is Pisces.
Open the door to the twelfth house, and you'll find:
- Everything that makes you feel alone and isolated
- Things about yourself you don't know
- Places of seclusion such as hospitals, prisons, and institutions
- Self-imposed imprisonments
- The things you can't control
- Your relationship with "Spirit"
- Secret enemies
- Everyday Saints
- What you hide from others
- Work done in seclusion
- Elusive, clandestine, secretive or unbeknownst matters
- The hidden ways you screw yourself up
- Your escapist tendencies (imaginative and banal)
- Substance abuse
- The collective unconscious
- Psychic and healing gifts
The Importance of the Houses
Interpreting an astrological chart is much easier and more accurate when you have a better understanding of the horoscope's various components. The Signs, planets, aspects and the houses all work together to tell a story. You could say that the houses place the heavenly bodies into your earthly reality.
Natal Interpretation and the Houses
When an astrologer interprets the natal chart, the houses reveal where your life's interests, joys, challenges, heartaches, and trials reside.
For example, two individuals born on the same day will have the same Sun sign, but because of the difference in the time and location of birth, one person's Sun is in the 10th house, and the other's is in the 12th house. Sun in the 10th is very ambitious and wants public recognition. Sun in the 12th wants privacy and seclusion. These two individuals will have very different lives and life experiences. It's the house placement of the Sun, Moon, planets, and other important points that make these individuals different.
When you have a question about a person, place, thing or any aspect of your life, the houses are where an astrologer begins looking for the answer.
Forecasting and the Houses
In forecasting, the houses answer the question of "where." The houses are the spaces in which things happen. They not only show where an event will or has happened, they also tell an astrologer what other areas of your life will be affected. When predicting an event, the areas of life in which an event is going to become important is a major part of the forecasting.
The principles of house systems have gone through some difficult times in the history of astrology. They have often been argued about, denied and ignored. However, astrologers who work with the houses can attest to their importance in delineating a natal chart and in making accurate predictions. Working with them can be complex and is not for an amateur.