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.
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:
Personal view for the world
The way something new is begun
The impression you make on others at first meeting
Open the door to the third house, and you'll find:
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
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
Real estate, land, agriculture, and gardening
The Father or Mother (nurturing parent)
Early home life and memories
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:
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
The way problems are solved and decisions made
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
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:
Occult, Psychic and taboo matters
How you respond to crisis
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
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
Sense of responsibility
Honor, rank, and credit (or lack of)
Father or father figure (family protector)
People with authority
How authority is handled
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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)
Groups and how you relate to them
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
The things you can't control
Your relationship with "Spirit"
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)
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.