Understanding the 12 houses in astrology
A guide to interpreting your birth chart.
The Astrological houses are one of the building blocks when it comes to chart interpretations. The houses set the framework for every astrological birth chart. Once you have an understanding of the signification of each house you can apply that to all charts. There are twelve houses and they are consistent in their order and progression.
I’m going to get a little technical here before I break down the symbolism of each house, as I find it helps ground this theory a more tangibly. The houses are based on the geographic place of birth, the bases being four points that have immediate astronomical properties. In Astrological language these four point are referred to as the “Angular houses”; the First, Fourth, Seventh and Tenth House.
The Houses make reference to the ecliptic; the path of the sun. Where this path meets the Eastern horizon at the time of birth marks the start of our first house aka, the Ascendant or Rising sign. Opposite to this point, directly to the West, marks the start of the seventh house aka the Descendent.
Where the ecliptic meets the meridian at the highest point above the horizon at your time of birth, symbols the start of the tenth house aka the MC or Midheaven.
Exactly opposite the Midheaven at the point in space where the ecliptic crosses the meridian marks the beginning of the fourth house aka the IC or the Imum Coeli.
These four points are coherent translations of the relationship between the earth’s rotation and the stars. These Houses are a reference, a way of downloading the sky to the ground; the meeting points for these two worlds.
What does vary between Astrologers and comes under deliberation is the house system that determines the other angles in the chart. There are different systems of Astrology that use different house systems. My preferred house system is Porphyry and this is purely because I have personally found a deep resonance with what is reflected back to me through my exploration of Astrology.
I believe that different house systems act as different languages and the universe speaks an elastic and flexible language to us. So just like French is no better than Italian, I don’t believe one house system is any better than another. It really just depends on what language you want to speak. My advice is to explore what resonates for you and stick to that preferably until you speak that language fluently.
What we also have to consider when speaking about houses is the method of interpretation. I’ll speak today about the method I use, an archetypal perspective. My approach is based on Evolutionary Astrology, a Modern Astrology, and much like other branches of Modern Astrology, adopts an archetypal model.
There is a thematic resonance between House, Sign and Planet. There are twelve signs and twelve houses and they reference the twelve primary forces that represent everything in life. The twelve archetypes mirror the evolutionary process of a cycle and if you pay attention, you will notice there is a natural progression that takes place when moving up from the first to the twelfth house.
Each planet will sit in a sign and a house; the sign speaks to the “how”, ways, reasons and styles of doing the planet; any planet in that sign is operating through that sign.
The houses speak to the “where”; houses provide context for where the planet and sign want to present themselves. The house a planet lands in is the arena of that person’s life in which that planet shows up. Houses represent parts of life, where the action of life takes place. All situations and relationships can be categorised into one of the twelve houses.
We use the chart to gain a deeper understanding of why we are here; looking at what the purpose of our lives is through a spiritual lens. When reading a chart we look at each planet and then as we layer in the sign and house we are given an individual interpretation. So you can see how each chart will be interpreted differently based on the differing layers that present themselves.
If the Sun is in Sag, what house is it in?
Two people will experience that Sun in Sag differently if they are born at different times and therefore have differing houses.
As you deepen your understanding of the planets and twelve archetypes you will be gifted a fuller reflection when reading your birth chart. In my opinion, the gift of Astrology is exactly that – a deep reflection of ourselves. Rather than handing our power over to this tool the real beauty of astrology lays in the feedback we receive from the planets, allowing us to deepen our understanding and awareness of ourselves.
As you read the significations of each house and potentially reflect on your own birth chart and the planets and signs that occupying each house, I invite you to allow that experience to be one of introspection rather than taking things on blindly. Notice what wants to awakens through you, allow this information to open up questions of self-inquiry and use the body as a guide to feel what resonates.
Also known as the Rising Sign or Ascendant is the house of self and of new cycles of becoming. We are a student in this area of our chart, learning about ourselves through the instinctual desires and impulses that our specific placement represents. Any sign or planet sitting in the first house will speak to how we will announce our existence through expressions of unmediated being.
The house of values and worth. This house speaks to our methods of survival and, by extension, all the things that we need to survive. Money and possessions fall into this house and that is because of how they are markers for our values and self worth.
Planets in the second house reflect our form of dedication to gathering skills and resources, with the underlying intention being to ensure survival. This house is where we explore what it means to develop self-love and out of that effort comes our self-worth.
This is the house of gathering and sharing information from an open-minded space. Any planet or sign here will speak to how it is that we collect information to find our way through life, how we learn. It will also reflect our willingness to explore our surroundings and expand our awareness and perspectives. How we open up to the information that lives all around us and its in the third house that we allow ourselves to be curious about our environment and the people in it.
The house of places we come from, the home we grew up in, our parents, early family dynamics and personal history. Any sign and planets here will reflect the means in which we establish internal safety. These placements will also speak to our relationship to our inner emotional realms and private life.
The house of creative expression, capacity for spontaneity and play. Any planet or sign here will speak to how it is that we form a relationship to our inner child and how easily we are able to drop into authentic expression from this place. The Fifth house also speaks to our relationship to sex, pleasure and fertility.
The house of function, health, mind set and service. Any Sign and planet here will reflect what makes things functional for you and how you maintain this functionality. The sixth house will also show us where we can demonstrate our skills and be of service to the world.
The house of relationships and areas of life offering opportunities to learn fairness, balance and equality. Opposite the first house, the house of self, the seventh aka the Descendent is the house of other. It describes what kind of others we would like to meet and how we will tend to meet them.
The house of trust, intimacy and the taboo. Any planet or sign here will speak to how we deeply bond with others; this is the house of relating to all areas of life in which getting under the surface of apparently reality is the core intension. The eighth house will also reflect how we form a relationship to power. As well as how we will relate to any fears around rejection, abandonment, betrayal, death and loss.
The house of expansion, faith and our belief systems. Any planet or sign here will reflect how we find meaning to our existence as well as how attached we are to the meaning we make of our lives. Placements here will also speak to how it is that we seek experience to learn and understand the deeper truths of the world and what our theoretical approach is to describing the underlying truths of the world.
Aka the MC, reflects the most elevated point in the sky at the moment of birth and so speaks to where the native will be most evident in their life or where their public life will be seen. It can represent the way we make a living but is not limited to that. Planets and sign in the tenth house are in one sense the most visible in the chart. Signs and planets here will speak to how we rise in status and become an authority.
The house of progress, upgrades and creating reforms in our life. This house gives us information about how the native is going to create a vision of the future and how they network with like minded others to make that happen. Any sign or planet here will reflect how we connect with others who can help us make our goals and visions of the future become reality.
The house of all the things in life that are beyond our control and will reflect how we relate to the larger forces of life and how we are learning to surrender to something greater than what we can see. This house will speak to how we are facing our limitations as well as our relationship to escapist behaviours (anything we use to check out of reality). The twelfth house represents the spiritual dimensions, how we will find inspired creativity as well as our connection with the collective consciousness.