One of the fundamental pillars of delineating an astrological chart includes interpreting the planetary placements among the various twelve houses that make up a chart. In modern Western astrology, a chart is a circular-shaped diagram (not to be confused with the zodiac wheel) divided into 12 segments (houses)—each which designates an area of life. The tropical zodiac falls along the ecliptic—our Sun’s apparent path around the Earth—and serves to mark the different seasons of the year. The houses though, are derived by calculations using a birth time (or inception of an event) and corresponding geographical coordinates. Based on our viewpoint of the sky and planets from the Earth’s 24-hour rotation about its axis; houses symbolize the various experiences of life which are described by the planets which rule them (hence, a person with the Sun in Virgo in the 10th house would be recognized quite differently from a person with the Sun in Virgo in the 8th house). Below, check out our guide to the basic associations tied to each of the twelve houses:
1st House & ASC Ascendent: Body, health, physical appearance, persona.
Commonly known today as the ascendant (aka rising sign). Coupled with the Sun and Moon, the ascendant is considered one of the three most significant factors in a person’s natal chart. Considered one of four angles, or axes of the chart, the sign which marks the ascendant describes a person’s body and appearance, health, and persona. More often than not, people’s first impression of you is based on the qualities of your rising sign (and the planet that rules that sign) rather than your Sun or Moon sign. This is also the sign you want to look for when you read your horoscope (in addition to your Sun and Moon sign). Keep in mind that an accurate birth time (down to the minute) is important to know your ascendant and the order of the following houses in your chart.
2nd House: Money/income, possessions, values, self-esteem.
Planets ruling and occupying the second house indicate our relationship to material circumstances, how we acquire money and possessions, and what matters to us.
3rd House: House of Goddess, immediate environment/local neighborhood, elementary knowledge and education, mental landscape, forms and aspects of communication, siblings, local travel, schedule.
Planetary occupants and rulers of the third house describe elements of the mind, communication, surrounding environment, fundamental education, and siblings. Traditional significations designate this house as the House of Goddess where the Moon rejoices and symbolizes dreams as divination and connection to the feminine principles of spirituality and ritual.
4th House: Family & ancestors, parents (often the mother, though opinions vary among astrologers), the home, one’s foundations/past.
One of the four sensitive angles, often near the 6 o’clock position of the chart which describes the relationship to home, childhood experiences, and one’s upbringing.
5th House: One’s children or procreations, creative projects, fertility, entertainment, hobbies & leisure activities, sex & romance.
This house symbolizes our sense of play, pleasure, and creative expression—including sex and what a person creates (whether it’s progeny, or a project of some sort).
6th House: Daily rituals & regimens, work & service (the day job, but not necessarily the career), illness and health issues to be mindful of.
Occupants and rulers of this house point to a person’s habits and routine, including the daily labor one does. While one’s health and constitution is described by the ascendant/1st house, illness and the imbalance of health are the subject of sixth house matters.
7th House & DSC (Descendant): Marriage and/or business partner, significant others and close friends, competition/perceived enemy, one’s rejected shadow.
Another of the sensitive angles which falls on the opposite end of the ascendant, completing the axis which describes a person’s awareness of self vs others. Planets ruling or occupying the Descendant or 7th house reveal information about a person’s committed relationships (both personal and professional).
8th House: Shared resources, inheritances, loss & death, debts (including money), and taxes. The eighth house is one of the houses which symbolizes hidden or private matters (the fourth and 12th being the other two houses symbolizing hidden things). Planets tied to this house point to information about the exchange (of money, time, energy, or other resources) made with others. Life energy and sex are things that can be given and received demonstrating the ways in which this house encompasses such an intense spectrum of experiences, including death and endings.
9th House: House of God, religion & philosophy, foreign places & lands, higher education & teachers, dreams & vision, distant goals, law & justice, spiritual figures, publishing.
This house describes our world views and spiritual or philosophical perspectives on life. Essentially, planets ruling or occupying this place point to the ways in which we find meaning. Long-term goals, sources of wisdom, and our sense of justice are also indicated by this house.
10th House & MC (Midheaven/Medium Coeli): Public reputation, ultimate goals & success, one’s calling/career, professional goals, honor, authority figures (as well as father figures for some astrologers).
The opposite end of the IC axis which often falls near the 12 o’clock position of the chart and illuminates who and what we are to become to society. One’s calling (and therefore public reputation) are indicated by the ruler and occupants of this house.
11th House: House of Good Spirit, friendship, patrons, group interests & collaborative goals, networking & making connections, hopes & dreams.
The eleventh house points to one’s blessings (including friends and patrons) and aspirations.
12th House: Solitude/isolation, exile & enemies, threats & self-undoing, transcendence, and hidden elements of the psyche.
Planets and occupants of this house suggest sources of positive and negative isolation (including places like prisons, hospitals, and spiritual retreats), transcendental practices, that which remains hidden (including enemies), and the workings of the subconscious mind.
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