Dear NightFall Astrology readers,
This is the third article in my free “Astrology Basics” series. So, in my previous article, we’ve established that the zodiac signs are the planets’ roles in an astrological chart.
Here, we’ll discuss the stages where planets play their characters: the 12 astrological houses.
The houses in a chart are essential as they provide the PERSONAL context for interpreting it. They represent different areas of life (or the stages where the planets play their roles) internally and externally. They are referred to when identifying the position of a planet in a chart. By analysing the houses, one can gain insight into the dynamics at play in a person’s life, both internally and externally. It is important to note that every chart represents a promise to unfold and involves both internal and external dynamics. The 12 houses of the zodiac provide a framework for identifying where certain energy patterns occur in a person’s life. Ultimately, houses give meaning to a chart by providing a context for interpreting its configurations.
I use whole sign houses very proudly and recommend that you do too. I’ve already written an article on why I use whole sign houses based on set theory, astronomy, and metaphysical considerations. Those who know me understand that I don’t advocate for or discuss issues I don’t feel I have a firm grasp on.
The meanings of the houses come from three primary considerations: angularity (whether a house is angular, succedent, or cadent), aspect relations to the ascendant (does the house form a whole sign aspect to the sign of the ascendant), and the planetary joy scheme.
House I (Helm): Self, body, character, appearance:
The first house, also known as the helm or the hour marker, is an angular house. It represents most primarily self-physical body character. It is your vitality. It is where the sky met the Earth, where your soul entered your body. And it is this intermediary between the mind and the body because the Ascendant designates both above and below the horizon. Below the horizon often deals with the body/physical matters; above, the ascendant deals with more mental or abstract matters, and the first house contains both.
The first house in a chart is closely tied to the individual and represents the native’s body, character, and mind. Any planets in the first house can significantly affect a person’s identity. It is a highly distinctive house that plays a critical role in steering the course of an individual’s life. The condition of the first house and its ruler are key determinants of how well the individual can direct their life. It is often likened to a ship’s helm or steering wheel and is one of the most important houses when considering a person’s identity. While other parts of the chart may have some relevance, the ruler’s placement in the first house and the rising sign are the most indicative factors.
For a few thousand years, up until about 100 years ago, when people asked for your sign, they knew it was the rising sign because the rising sign changes every two and a half hours, while the sun sign changes every 30 days. So, it really is very much you.
The first house is also the joy of Mercury as well because Mercury is communication. It does very well as an intermediary between expressing yourself and living yourself.
House II (Gate of Hades): Finances, possessions, income, self-worth:
The second house is a succedent house. It is the gate of Hades. It is immediately what follows after you have a body, which is dealing with supporting that, covering things such as money and food.
The second house is considered the best of the “bad” houses, although it’s actually more neutral than negative. It represents the troublesome areas of life that require significant effort, such as managing finances and acquiring possessions. Since it’s the second house that comes after one’s birth, it’s associated with an individual’s relationship to material possessions and their ability to support themselves financially. This house is often used to describe a person’s approach to money – some may tend to hoard, while others are more impulsive. The planets in this house can also provide insights into people’s spending habits and how they value material possessions.
Bonatti, a medieval astrologer, believed that the second house was related to substance or the native, often in terms of food, which is a possession. The condition of the ruler of the second house can indicate psychological patterns related to self-worth and how you provide for yourself, either financially or through nourishment. This house describes how you make money, which is not always straightforward, as some people may earn income through unexpected means, such as their pets or children. Ultimately, the second house is primarily associated with finances and possessions.
House III (Goddess): Siblings, short trips, school, communication:
The third house is considered a cadent house and is associated with the joy of the Moon, which is why it is often referred to as the Goddess.
The third house has a variety of meanings, such as communication, short-distance travel, and information that is important to us. It is also connected to the fourth house, which deals with home and family, and represents the immediate surroundings of our community. The third house is associated with basic education, where we learn about individuals we encounter in our everyday lives, such as siblings, acquaintances, and neighbours. It is also linked to convenient travel, such as our daily commute or a vacation home we frequently visit.
It also pertains to our daily routines, particularly with regard to the gathering and sharing of information. It is also associated with creative pursuits on a more basic level, such as writing columns or horoscopes. This house is closely linked to the fourth house, which deals with matters of home and family and the immediate surroundings of our neighbourhood. It also covers our daily commutes and other forms of comfortable travel. Despite its many advantages, the third house is often regarded as the least positive of the positive houses due to its association with the ordinary and mundane activities that underpin our familial responsibilities.
House IV (Subterranean): Parents, home, family, private life:
The fourth house is known as the subterranean pivot. It is the next angular house below the earth – the chart’s darkest, most foundational, and private part. Angular houses manifest very clearly as they are the backbone of the chart, the vertebrae. While it’s the least powerful because it comes after the Ascendant, it’s still quite impactful and significant.
The fourth house is a cornerstone of the chart and symbolises crucial elements such as family, parents, private life, and early experiences. How you were raised, your family background and your ancestors are all integral to this house. This house is also associated with the concept of home, including its emotional and physical aspects of it. People with significant connections to the fourth house may pursue careers related to ancestral work or real estate.
This house is a crucial component of the chart and is associated with family, childhood, private life, and ancestry. It can offer insight into a person’s emotional patterns and experiences, particularly if it’s linked to the eighth house. Often hidden from view like the midnight sky, the fourth house is a private aspect of the chart that may influence a person’s relationship with land and property. Additionally, the fourth house can offer clues about the final outcome of things, as our starting point often informs our destination. Although it is not underdeveloped, the fourth house is considered primitive in the sense that it is fundamental and essential.
House V (Good Fortune): Children, creativity, pleasure, sex:
The fifth house is often referred to as the house of good fortune and follows the fourth house, which is associated with family. As such, the fifth house is often linked with matters relating to children, romance, and creativity. It’s Venus’s joy. With its connection to Venus, it is also often associated with pleasure and enjoyment.
The fifth house is associated with creativity and encompasses various forms of creation, including children, students, and apprentices. It can also represent artistic projects and any form of creative expression. Fertility, both in a biological sense and in terms of how easy it is for you to create and bring things into the world, can also be indicated by the fifth house. This house follows the foundational fourth house (it’s a succedent house) and is connected to how you spend your time and what you bring into the world. Although it is a little detached, the fifth house is generally considered an enjoyable house associated with good luck. When a planet or ruler is present in the fifth house, it often signifies good fortune and positive reception from others.
House VI (Bad Fortune): Illness, injuries, work, subordinates:
The sixth house is the house of bad fortune, so it is one of the major challenging houses, the disadvantageous houses. It does not aspect the Ascendant. It is not quite as detrimental as the 12th house, but it is challenging. It’s the joy of Mars because the sixth house deals with dealing with the physical body, with illness or injury, or just physical upkeep.
The sixth house is essentially the house of tasks and responsibilities that must be managed to achieve our goals. If Mars is present in the sixth house, it can be especially beneficial as Mars can help you tackle the tasks at hand. The sixth house is also related to health and physical wellness and managing co-workers or employees, as these factors are often necessary for success in achieving one’s goals. It is also connected to the seventh house, which represents relationships, and having the sixth house in order can support the establishment of positive and supportive partnerships. Additionally, the sixth house can involve subordinates, customers, and others who contribute to one’s success in a supportive role.
In ancient times, it even dealt with slavery, but that meaning is no longer applicable. Today, the sixth house represents what we have to deal with to do what we want to do, including managing co-workers or subordinates, dealing with physical challenges and injuries, and taking care of pets or others who depend on us. Even if you excel in your chosen field, a strong sixth house will still require you to respond to challenges and obstacles. For example, a doctor with a strong sixth house may be highly skilled in dealing with physical challenges but will still face difficulties and obstacles in their work.
House VII (Setting): Relationships, partnership, marriage, the other:
The seventh house is known as the “setting place”. It is sunset, opposite the first house. It is where the soul meets the body of the other, so it is the angular house, but it is sunset. It is the blending of the mind and body of another, and so it’s our one-to-one partnership. It is the first clear indicator of something outside ourselves that is mostly other-oriented with another party.
The seventh house is one of the most important houses in the chart as it deals with relationships. The house reflects how you interact with others, what kind of people you attract, and how you conduct yourself in one-to-one relationships. It’s also related to contracts, agreements, and legal partnerships, such as marriage or business contracts. The sign on the cusp of the seventh house and any planets in it can give further insights into the nature of relationships in your life. As the opposite sign to the first house, it represents the “other” in your life and often reflects qualities or traits missing in your personality.
A dominant seventh house is frequently associated with having a career that involves working with clients or having relationships that play a significant role in your life, resulting in you frequently finding yourself in a partnership. The prominent partnership type may be determined by the ruler of the house and could manifest in a specific area of your life more frequently. Transits to the seventh house often pertain to other individuals, such as your romantic partner, rather than affecting you solely or possibly bringing about a partnership’s emergence or end.
The seventh house can reveal the type of people that a person tends to attract or the dynamics of their relationships. It may also include competitors or individuals with whom they are in conflict. The seventh house represents the known enemy, the person directly across from oneself, and it can be beneficial in certain circumstances. For instance, in a tennis match, it could be one’s opponent. Additionally, some astrologers associate the seventh house with the process of death, as it represents the moment between self and other or life and death, commonly known as sunset.
House VIII (Idle): Death, inheritance, others’ assets:
The eighth house is often referred to as the “idle place,” and while it’s not the worst place to have planets in a chart, it is still considered disadvantageous because it doesn’t aspect the Ascendant. As the follow-up to the seventh house, it represents what we receive from others, including money, inheritances, and psychological baggage. Because it is a difficult house, it can indicate sudden or instantaneous events like death.
The presence of planets in the eighth house doesn’t imply that an individual will perish, but rather indicates an increased understanding of the inevitability of death. The eighth house is connected with matters of inheritance, financial obligations, and loans, which frequently entail dealing with others. Professions that involve collaborating with people, such as therapists, counsellors, and accountants, may also have placements in this house. The eighth house is linked to power dynamics and personal growth. While it can be a source of profound and turbulent transformation, it can also be an area where individuals are able to improve their financial situation and get out of debt.
House IX (God): International matters & travel, higher education, religion, philosophy:
The ninth house is considered the house of God and is a cadent house rising up to support the tenth house of career. It relates to one’s higher education, beliefs and outlook on life, alongside international matters and travel. The ninth house is also known as the joy of the Sun, as it represents recognition, fame, and higher knowledge. It is the most positive cadent house, although cadent houses generally take longer to manifest.
The ninth house is a thought-provoking domain that deals with exploration and is linked to belief systems, religions, and philosophies. It frequently encompasses the study of intricate subjects like politics, law, and astrology. Prominent ninth-house placements are often associated with people who are well-travelled, highly educated, and familiar with diverse cultures. Additionally, the ninth house can signify long-distance travel in relation to one’s upbringing and perspective. It is also connected to religion and philosophy, symbolizing the journey towards knowledge in general. One’s beliefs, whether conservative, religious, or non-religious, can be indicated by the ninth house and its ruler.
House X (Midheaven): Career, actions, reputation, public image:
The Midheaven, also known as the tenth house, is a robust angular house that has historically been referred to as the Midheaven. The MC, which is the highest point of the ecliptic, is what we now consider the Midheaven. However, in the past, the tenth house was also referred to as the Midheaven, despite having a different name as a calculation point, so some clarification is necessary. Nevertheless, it remains the most prominent high point in the sky.
Generally, it is a very visible, very high part of the sky, and it is angular and squaring the Ascendant or the first house. So, there is a debate about whether the first or tenth houses are more powerful. I think they’re both powerful.
Both the first house and the tenth house hold significant power as they represent the individual and what he/she does in the world. It pertains to what one is known for, their public image, reputation, and the visibility of their profession. For some, this aspect is a crucial part of their life, while it can be a source of struggle for others. However, for some, it can be the key to their success. The tenth house is straightforward and symbolises high noon, representing a highly elevated and prominent position. It represents one’s career and involves deliberately curating their professional image. The tenth house can also suggest social media involvement in one’s profession.
House XI (Good spirit): Friends, groups, alliances, hopes:
The 11th house is the house of good spirit. It is a succedent house following the 10th house, and the planets there are rising up to the 10th house, supporting the dreams of the career. It is the joy of Jupiter, which makes a lot of sense because it is this larger collective of good spirit.
The eleventh house is a positive and social house that is associated with groups, organisations, and aspirations that provide support. It represents larger collectives that can rally behind an individual, indicating audiences or voters for politicians. Frequently, prominent rulers of the eleventh house are present in the charts of celebrities or politicians to denote a strong support system. It pertains to social capital and the audience that backs an individual.
House XII (Bad spirit): Secret enemies, loss, seclusion, sickness:
And finally, we have the twelfth house, which is a cadent house. It’s called the house of bad spirit. It has no aspect to the Ascendant; it’s just the worst of the disadvantageous houses. It’s kind of like this twilight zone, otherworldly, in-between reality, and not a place of being isolated and in danger. It’s associated with prenatal conditions and Saturn finds its joy there.
The twelfth house represents the inner world of self-sabotage, confinement, and isolation, akin to being trapped in a mental hospital. It is a challenging house that is rarely associated with an overseas yoga/spiritual retreat, and it often depicts individuals going through their struggles alone. The twelfth house is often linked to mental health problems, which is in contrast to the physical health issues associated with the sixth house. Although the twelfth and sixth houses are opposing, they are interconnected, with the twelfth house primarily dealing with mental health issues.
A prominent and positively aspected twelfth house can imply that an individual is capable of assisting others in overcoming mental health challenges or working in areas related to imprisonment or liberation, especially in foreign contexts. Such situations may arise from being imprisoned due to one’s marginalised identity or feeling trapped due to it. The twelfth house may also indicate hidden enemies or betrayals, people who unexpectedly backstab, or the presence of large, wild animals. Traditionally, the sixth house is associated with pets and small animals, while the twelfth house is linked to elephants and similar large animals, although the rationale behind this is unclear.
The 12th house can be associated with isolation and exile, but it can also manifest positively through spiritual practices or productive alone time. The quality of this experience depends on the condition of the 12th house and its ruler. If they are in good condition, time spent alone can be beneficial.
So there you have it! Here’s a succinct description of the 12 astrological houses (anciently known as “places”) for you! Comment below if you’d like to share anything particularly relevant or special about the houses in your chart!
Thank you for reading.
Your Astrologer – Theodora NightFall ~
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