Astro DIY #8: The 12 houses in astrology


This is the eighth post in Astro DIY – our very own ‘learn astrology’ column. Your fabulous mentor-tutor is Tabby Besley! View all posts in this series here

I’m excited to be back on the astrology buzz and bringing you Astro DIY every two weeks! I’ve crammed lots of info into one post to make up for my absence lately, so let’s get stuck in!

This time we’re going to be learning about the 12 houses in astrology:

What are houses, how to find them and what they mean.

Lots of people know their Sun sign, some people know about their Moon, Ascendant and even where other planets sit in their chart. I reckon the next level of understanding astrology is to learn about the houses – they reveal so much more about yourself in the birth chart and I’m really excited to share that with you!


The latest addition to my book collection – now offering readings for cats!

So what are these mysterious houses?

So if we remember back to the first lesson that the planets are actors and the signs are the characters they play, then we know that the houses are like the ‘stage’ in astrology; they show the areas of life that certain energies and parts of you play out in. A common analogy when talking about the houses is to look at it as if each house were to actually represent a room inside a big house. Okay so it’s unlikely anyone reading this actually lives in a mansion with different rooms for every little thing, but please bear with me ‘cause it’s a fun comparison.

Rooms often have specific purposes right? When we’re hungry we go to the kitchen, sleep and sex usually take place in the bedroom, etc. Well houses in astrology are kinda like that too, splitting up the different areas of our lives, for example work is associated with the sixth house.

Now we all have the same rooms in our house, but everyone’s décor is a little different. In astrology everyone has 12 houses in their birth chart, but they’re still unique to us. The sign on the cusp of each house shows how that particular one is ‘decorated’, how it feels. So you’re sixth house is on the cusp of Virgo? Well that might say that your office (work life) is pretty tidy and organised, whereas if it was in Leo it might be chaotic, or extravagant, or it could show that you have children and work from home.

So where do the planets come in?

When we have planets in a certain house, we tend to feel and express the energies of those planets whenever we are in that ‘room’ or area of life.

So let’s say the Moon lives in your sixth house – that might mean your work isn’t just work to you, it’s something you have quite an emotional connection to; it might be something you do with a lot of compassion.

You’ll notice not all of the houses in your chart have planets in them, maybe there are only a few that do – that’s all normal! The empty houses represent those empty rooms where we can go and be relatively alone. While we’re still influenced by the planet that rules that house and the sign that’s on the cusp of, it just means you won’t focus your energy into the area of life that house represents as much as those where you have planets sitting, or things in that ‘room’ might be pretty straightforward for you, where a house with lots of planets might show stuff that’s going to be more complex for you.

How to find the houses and the signs they are in:

Your birth chart is divided up into sections, kinda like a pie! Those sections are the houses, starting from the left where your Ascendant is (marked as AC) and going around anti-clockwise. The house number for each section will be written inside it, as shown below. Remember, you need an accurate birth time to be able to calculate the houses.


The cusp of a house is the point where it begins. A house ends at the cusp of the following house – and remember in the birth chart we go counter-clockwise, with the 1st house cusp starting around the same point as the AC on the left.

Houses differ from the signs because they are not all divided exactly 30 degrees wide like the signs are (unless you use the Equal house system). Houses are not in line with the sign cusps, for example a house doesn’t neccesarily start at zero degrees of a sign – it can start at any point within that sign.

So the planets are in a sign, and in a house. The sign on the cusp of the house rules that sign – so for example in my chart above Libra rules the fourth house and Sagittarius rules the sixth house.
But wait! Sometimes a sign begins and ends within the same house! That sign is then said to be ‘intercepted’ in that house, since that sign doesn’t contain the cusp of any house and so can’t rule any house.
I don’t have any intercepted signs in my chart so here is another example below. You should see that the sign of Virgo (with the ? above it) is intercepted in the 8th house, which starts in Leo and ends in Libra. Therefore Virgo does not rule any house in this chart.

There is another sign intercepted in this chart, can you spot it? Your clue is that intercepted houses come in pairs – the house opposite will be intercepted too.


Two house cusps can also fall in the same sign, which is called duplicated signs. Like the intercepted signs, duplicated signs come in pairs which are opposite each other. Can you find the duplicated signs in this chart? Let me know in the comments!

Duplicated signs can show areas where we are stronger and things come easier to us, while intercepted signs can show a blockage and repressed energy. You can find interpretations for your duplicated and intercepted signs online if you’ve got them in your chart and want to know more about what they mean!
Now I’ll just take a brief moment to complicate things even more, then I promise we’ll move onto the fun bit – the meaning of the different houses!

So something else every astrologer needs to know – there are different house systems, which means there are different ways of calculating where your houses are and depending which system you use, your planets will show up in slightly different houses.

“But Tabby, I just want to get on to the fun stuff!”

Yay, me too! This is all maths stuff, which is not my strong point, so head over to google if it’s something you do want to learn more about! Here we’re going to keep it simple.

The most common house system used today is the Placidus system, which is the system I use and have found most accurate – and lucky for you, it’s the one will automatically use for your charts (though there are options to look at charts using different house systems too if you want to experiment!).

Okay here goes!


A guide to the 12 houses in astrology:

By now you’ll have noticed that planets and signs share particular themes – if you’re already remembering those that will make learning the houses a lot easier, because, surprise, surprise, the houses share those themes too.

Each house corresponds to a sign, going in order so Aries rules the first house, Taurus the second house and so on with Pisces ruling the twelth house.

1st House – Self-Image

This is like your doorstep, where you express yourself to the world. Housed here is your ego, identity, physical body, personality and self image.

2nd House – Self-Worth and Wealth

The second house is like an overflowing closet or wherever you keep all your *stuff*! It’s associated with wealth – both material wealth, how you might make and spend money and possessions but also your talents, skills and self-worth.

3rd House – Your Environment and Communication

The third house could be represented by your mailbox/corner where your landline sits. It’s all about communication, the mind and learning, but also associated with siblings, short trips and your environment.

4th House – Home and Family

The fourth house is like the family room or your childhood home. It’s all about your roots, your family and particularly your parents, the home you came from, the home you have or want to make for yourself, security.

5th House – Self-Expression and Love

Come on into the garden on a summer evening (or where you might have parties and fun in your home). The fifth house is all about self-expression, especially through creative pursuits. Children are strongly associated with the fifth house and so is love and sex – but in more of a casual way, rather than committed partnerships. The fifth house is all about having fun and feeling good – and sometimes that can be through risk-taking activities – such as gambling.

6th House – Work and Health

Here we are in the office/your workplace. The sixth house is all about work, coworkers, routine and how we are of service to others. It’s also associated with health, illness and small animals (lots of vets have a strong sixth house!).

7th House – Partnerships

The seventh house is the home you’ve made with someone else, it’s where our intimate and committed relationships live, how we relate to those closest to us. Important one-on-one relationships including marriage, business partnerships and all kinds of cooperative relationships with another person are found here.

8th House – Power and Transformation

The eighth house could be the coat cupboard – full of secrets and other people’s things. This house has themes of sex, death, rebirth, all of that Pluto/Scorpio stuff. It’s all about other people’s things and what a relationship owns – joint or inherited money and resources, your partner’s money, emotional security and secrets, sex work. It’s about power and control, but it’s also about transformation and healing – usually after some kind of loss.

9th House – Education and Travel

The ninth house is the study/library in your home. It’s where we do our higher learning, education and also where we travel, particularly those long, far away journeys. The ninth house also ties into Jupiter/Sagittarius themes about religion or spirituality and beliefs. It’s where we go to find the meaning in things.

10th House – Career and Public Image

The tenth house is you standing on the roof of your house. It’s your public image, reputation, how society sees you, recognition of achievements, social responsibility. It can show your career – not a job you do to get by, but your life path. It can also be linked to your parents – particularly if one or both were authoritative and success-focused.

11th House – Friendship and Groups

The eleventh house is the lounge or living room where you gather round with your friends or host the potluck for a community meeting. It rules groups – communities, friendships, polyamory, as well as social change and hopes and dreams.

12th House – Shadow-Self

The twelth house is that quiet spot in the garden where we can hide from everyone. We feel like nobody can see us when we’re there, but we might be wrong to think that. The twelth house is where we go to be alone, take a break from day-to-day life and nurture our spirit. It’s associated with secretes, institutions (such as prisons or mental health facilities), the psychic and unseen and our shadow self.


Your homework: Take a look at which houses the planets lie in, in your birth chart and have a go at interpreting that. Write them out and note any immediate observations eg. ‘oh my gosh I’ve got three planets in the fourth house, no wonder family is so important to me’ or ‘aha my sun is in the sixth house, that’s why my life revolves around work and helping other people’. Have a look for any signs that are intercepted or duplicated in your chart too. You can do this in your astrology notebook or just here in the comments!

So what have you learnt? As always, comment your findings below and fire away with any questions.

Next time we’ll keep learning about the houses and how they can be divided into quadrants!


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  1. chloetarot says:

    Thanks for this post, Tabby, I found it really interesting! I never realised that Houses could take up different amounts of space, so some can be big and some small, before. And looking at my chart, I have seven empty houses! So, everything is very bunched up in a few “important” areas for me. Or just that I have a lot of freedom to choose how I express myself in the other houses… Food for thought 🙂

    • Tabby says:

      Thanks Chloe! Yeah I’m pretty similar with a very heavy 10th house, so not too spread out. The next post might be interesting for you, to see if there’s a theme across the houses that you do have planets in!

    • Tabby says:

      The houses should already be there – make sure you go to ‘Horoscope Drawing and Chart Selection’ under the menu and then the first or second headings under that will both take you to your chart. 🙂

  2. Ev'Yan says:

    I am so, so glad that you’ve touched on the houses! this is one area that I’ve been dying to know more about & understand. with every post that you write, I take notes in my lil astrology notebook & look at my own chart to see what’s happening. I’m super excited to dig in to this post!

    • Tabby says:

      Thanks Ev’Yan, aw yay it’s great to hear people are really learning from the posts. Keen to hear what you discover about your houses!

      And oooh your website looks amazing, definitely going to do some reading there! 🙂

  3. Dany says:

    Wow. Some parts of this are so accurate it’s scary. (One was so accurate I wanted to cry*.) I had a few that were difficult to interpret, though–they seem like opposites and I had a hard time figuring out how they fit in for me. The biggest one was Ares and Venus being in my 12th house. If the 12th house is my shadow/secret self, then how does Ares, associated with “jumping right in” and “what you see is what you get”, fit? They seem like polar opposites to me!

    (* for what it’s worth, Aquarius being in my 11th house was the one that really hit home for me. Friendships and groups + can’t trust myself and seeking validation from others = absolutely me, as awful as that sounds.)

  4. Kelly says:

    I have really enjoyed this series and happily point people here as a great starting off place! Thank you for the work!

  5. Strophoria says:

    Hmmmm interesting. Sun and Pluto are in my first house, both are Scorpio. My second house is ruled by Scorpio – 4 planets, 2 Scorpio, 2 Sagittarius. I’m a Scorpio’s Scorpio apparently.

    Third house: Both outer planets, both Capricorn, ruled by Sagittarius. It should be Capricorn but that sign is intercepted. This feels contradictory? I guess I’m not so good at buckling down, maybe. I try to be organized but always turn into a whirlwind because I start so many projects?

    Fourth house, Aquarius ruled by Pisces. No surprises here, or in the rest of my very bare chart. Most of the action is in 1,2 &3

  6. Amanda says:

    I think it’s probably really stupidly accurate that my Sun is in the 12th House. Though I was surprised to find three planets (Neptune, Uranus, and the Nodes) in my 11th House.

  7. Freja-Mynthe says:

    I just wanted to say, that I love this serie so much, it’s really made me spend a LOT of time playing with my own birthchart trying to understand myself better, making my son (age 6) all interested as well, constantly demanding to see his own birthchart!
    I’ve tried before to understand the basics of Astrology, but I never could seem to get the hang of it. But this is just so easy to understand! I have one problem, though, waiting for your new posts, ’cause I’m so excited to see what I’ll learn next 🙂 haha.
    I’ve a question as well, trying to interpret the planets in the houses. It all made so much sense, except neptune and uranus in my 11th house. How do I interpret this?

    I do apologize for any spelling mistakes, I’m from Denmark, and english is not my mother tongue. 🙂

    • Tabby says:

      Thanks Freja, that’s so cool that your son is interested too! 🙂 Apologies for the late response here, but hope this helps a bit!

      Thinking of Neptune and Uranus in relation to the 11th house – friendships and groups you belong to is would be where I would look first? And then think about the qualities of those planets (relate them to Aquarius and Pisces if that helps you understand them better).

      Uranus in the 11th House could indicate going through lots of friends/changing your feelings towards people quite frequently, attracting friends who are quite eccentric/experimential, maybe finding it hard to relate to friends on an emotional level, could also be about finding it difficult to settle on a direction, being involved in social justice/community stuff?

      Neptune in the 11th house – very open about who you are friends with and open to ideas and opinions from your friends. Boundaries could be a big theme here and you might experience being in co-dependent friendships/relationships, falling into patterns of being a ‘rescuer’ and trying to help people, maybe to your own detriment. It’s a really compassionate placement.

      Worth looking at what aspects these planets have too as that will show much of an influence they are in your life (if they are aspected to your Sun or Moon for example).

      Just a few ideas but there are lots of different ways it could be interpreted – definitely suggest doing a google search and reading different people’s interpretations to see what you can relate to!

  8. Mnemosyne says:

    I am… Overwhelmed. I’m studying this chapter now, so I go quickly to the houses where most of my planets are and I am a little meditative. My sun, moon, Mercury and Venus are all in Virgo in the 8th house, and my ascendant is in Aquarius, 12th house. My whole life I fought with hard inner matters and it seems like a patron in my astrological birth chart, and I not feel joy for this. I will surely be better soon and keep studying this stuff and looking explanations elsewhere to understand what lies inside me. But now… I need silence and a private time with Hekate.

  9. Sheena says:

    Thank you for your amazing DIY astrology series. <3
    I have both 8 and 9 house cusps in pieces, plus I got sun, venus, north node and pallas athena all in pisces in the 8th house.
    This 8th house pisces combo have always given me difficulties to interpret. Do the planets in pisces give some extra touch to these 8th house secrets? Could you give me some clarification here Tabby?

    Please don`t mind misspellings. I`m from Finland and speaking about that, in finnish astrology the houses are actually called rooms. Pretty neat ^_^

    • Tabby says:

      Hi Sheena,
      Yes there would be extra emphasis on those 8th house planets in Pisces as both the 8th House and Pisces are in the water element – adding to the mystery, emotional intensity, intuition etc and making it more prominent! If you do a google search and read some different interpretations for those placements you’ll be able to learn a lot more about it! Venus in particular would be pretty comfortable there I reckon!

      • Sheena says:

        Thank you so much Tabby! I wonder if the 8th house gives some Scorpionic flavours to the planets that are in there? Extra tensity added to my chart cocktail, both mars and Pluto, the dynamic planet duo of Scorpio, form hard aspects with my asc( leo) and mercury (aqarius). Oh Goodness.. 🙂

  10. N says:

    Oh goodness! I’m a Capricorn with three planets in my 9th house – Mercury (in Sagittarius); Venus (in Capricorn); Neptune (in Sagittarius). That is such heavy stuff (not to mention Fire is pretty heavy in my sign (8 points) with Earth (5 points) a close second). There is so much Jupiter and Saturn in my sigh I can’t even begin to make sense of all this…but it’s very intriguing.

  11. ldipkin says:

    Jeez louise, 6 planets, all in Capricorn (including my Sun) in the 4th house. And my 4th house is ruled by Sagittarius. Family is super important to me but also gave me my sense of independence, which I suppose would make sense with Sagittarius’ effect on the house. The fiery mutable aspects of Sagittarius also seem logical there as well as my relationship with my family and chosen family is very open and free in terms of being able to speak my mind with them.

    My Moon in Libra is in the 1st house, which makes me think about how I am never correctly read as my Sun sign – I’m thought of as a great advice-giver and as an easygoing type, even though on the inside I feel very ‘typical Capricorn’! However my 1st house is ruled by Virgo which is my rising sign – I’m not very good at reading yet and this is all really complex, but I’m also seen as being quite meticulous and perfectionist, to a fault. I think this is where my habit of taking on too many things comes from, as I have a big imbalance of Cardinal and Earth signs.

    If anybody else has any interpretations, that would be so rad!

  12. Saradi ma says:

    Squared 3 rows across & 4 rows down have far top 1st square= Sun, Mercury, and Jupiter. What are the numbers for the houses of each square?

  13. Ine S. says:

    Hahaha, oh my God! I now have in front of me which signs are in which planets, which signs are in which houses, and which planets are in which houses.
    I have Cancer and Capricorn not duplicated, but tripled. Cancer in 4 – 6 and Capricorn in 10-12. In all other houses, I have intercepted signs.
    I wrote a comment to #6 about Pisces and Saturn. I have Saturn in my first house. I then have my moon, Gemini, in the third house. I have nothing in house 2, 4-7 and 10. In house 8, and this is where the laughing started, I have the Sun and Mercury, which are both in Scorpio. And I have Scorpio cusping the 9th house. In the 9th house, I find most of my planets: Pluto, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Pluto is Scorpio, the rest is Sagittarius. In 11th house sits Uranus, Capricorn. And in 12th, Neptune, also Capricorn.

    Basically, what I see is this: I’m heaviest in the 8th and 9th houses. The 8th house, which is basically that Pluto/Scorpio/tarot death card energy, is where I find the sun and Mercury, and even more Scorpio! In the 8th house, I’ve also got Libra intercepted. The person who holds the most power over me, the person who has most been a catalyst for my own personal transformation, has Libra in the Sun.
    In the 9th house, Education and Travel (which I’m all about), I have four planets! And the signs I have in those planets, are Sagittarius and Scorpio.

    I think it’s safe to say I’ve got some serious water/fire stuff going on.

  14. Sarah says:

    Well, I’ll be damned. Not done working through these yet, but I’ve got a 4th house ruled by Scorpio, containing Pluto and Mars. Which couldn’t really be a better description of the home I grew up in…abusive, manipulative, and super haunted by untreated mental illnesses, addiction, and secrets. Not totally sure where to find the good in this part of my chart going forward in my current house and family…maybe it’s all about working on balancing the energies there, letting go, practicing honesty, sharing power. Then again, maybe there’s some use for some of that energy in undoing, bringing things to light, speaking the “secrets.” Phew, this is some serious stuff.

    • Sarah says:

      Ooh, I can follow up on this a little more now that I’ve finished the houses. Some answers in the seventh house (ruled by aquarius, contains mercury) and the eighth (rules by pisces, with venus and the moon): my partnerships now are a place I really focus my communication energy, and a lot of my anxieties! I’ve bringing beautiful visions and a lot of love to them, but can be coldly intellectualizing or superior, especially when shit gets scary.

      Meanwhile, there’s a crap ton of water energy swirling around transformation and power. I see the comfortable patterns and the possibilities, the fine distinction between reflecting another with love and losing yourself in their emotions. A tendency to lose boundaries by flowing wholly into others, getting consumed with their feelings and fears, seeking a sameness that will feel less alone. But also the possibilities of different ways: empathy, the transformative power of showing up with one’s own feelings and letting them be seen. Creating out of strong emotion. Turning pain into compassion.

  15. Casey S. says:

    So i’m a little confused here…

    . Mars in the 2nd House Ruled by Leo
    . Pluto and Jupiter in the 5th House Ruled by Scorpio
    . Moon in the 6th House Ruled by Sagittarius
    . Neptune and Uranus in the 7th House Ruled by Capricorn
    . Venus in the 8th House Ruled by Aquarius
    . Mercury, Saturn and the Sun are in the 9th House and Ruled by Pisces

    … At least I think so, please correct me if I’m wrong!

    Thank you in advance!

    • Tabby says:

      Yes you’ve got all the house rulers right – eg your 9th house is ruled by Pisces, although your sun is in Aries in the 9th house. And your moon is in Capricorn, in the 6th house. Your 6th house in life generally is ruled by Sagittarius, but your moon is hanging out in Capricorn. Everything else is correct…I hope that makes sense! Where the houses and zodiac signs align doesn’t line up with this house system so it can be a bit confusing.

      • Casey S. says:

        I think I’ve gotten the hang of things a little better now, I found another site that labels things a little more clearly and it made a lot more sense. Thank you for getting back to me so fast too! I wanted to thank you because I love this series it’s been super informative!

        Here’s a link if anyone’s interested, I thought it was great. But it also kinda does the hard stuff for you so it’s a bit of a cheat sheet too.

  16. Megan says:

    You explained interceptions right but your diagram does not support it.

    An interception is a house that devours a sign/ signs, the signs are totally enclosed in the house.
    Duplicated signs devour the house, meaning there are two cusps in one sign.

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