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 Astro.com 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!